Our most recent manga reviews

Wolf Children: Ame & Yuki

Drama, Romance, Supernatural


Preview: "A gentleman is simply a patient wolf." - Lana Turner. Wolf Children is the third of Mamoru Hosoda’s feature films (if you ignore ones like One Piece which are based on already existing anime/manga) and follows on from the success of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars . These films have also spawned manga versions, with Wolf Children 's version being spread over three volumes. However, Yen Press has decided to release all three volumes as a single hardback, complete with glossy colour pages and bonus chapters. For those who have not seen the film, the story begins with a college student called Hana who encounters a guy whom she falls in love with almost immediately. The relationship blossoms even after the...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Tue, 25 Mar 2014]

Vinland Saga #2

Action, Adventure, Historical, Period Drama


Preview: ‘England at War’ proclaims the blurb beneath a border of Viking runes. ‘The foolish King Ethelred has fled, and Askeladd’s band is one of hundreds plundering the English countryside. Yet victory brings no peace to the elderly Danish King Sweyn, who worries that his untested, sensitive son Canute will never be ready to take the throne. The king’s attempt to force his son to become a man places the young prince within the grasp of the gleeful killer Thorkell! Whoever holds Canute holds the key to the thrones of England and Denmark – and Askeladd has his own reasons for joining the fray!’   Vinland Saga ’s main protagonist is sixteen-year-old Thorfinn, a young man hellbent on avenging his warrior father’s death –...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Fri, 21 Mar 2014]

Ranma 1/2 - Volume 1-2

Action, Comedy, Fantasy, Gender-bender, Martial Arts, Romance, Shonen


Preview: "When Margaret Atwood asked women what they feared most from men, they said: 'We're afraid they'll kill us.' When men were asked the same question, they said: 'We're afraid they’ll laugh at us.'" - Naomi Wolf  This latest release from Viz Media is quite notable for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is a highly popular series, created by Rumiko Takahashi, the same woman who created series such as InuYasha, RIN-NE, One-Pound Gospel and Urusei Yatsura . The other is that this is the first time this series has been published in the original right-to-left unflipped format. This 2-in-1 collection follows the story of Ranma Saotome, a teenager who is a skilled martial artist, and his father Genma. The two have returned from a trip...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Wed, 12 Mar 2014]

Wandering Son #6

Slice of life


Preview: “Poor Shu. One day you’ll be all hairy and your voice will change.” Maho Nitori to her younger brother Shuichi. Summer Vacation It’s Summer Vacation for Shuichi ‘Nitorin’ Nitori, the boy who wishes he had been born a girl, and his school friends. But the cross-dressing version of Romeo and Juliet for the school’s cultural festival play is weighing heavily on Shuichi’s mind. He’s writing it with Saori Chiba, a strong-minded and independent (read a bit of a loner ) classmate who has strong feelings for him – and who resents his friendship with Yoshino Takatsuki. She desperately wants to play Romeo to his Juliet, while Shuichi has always imagined Yoshino in that role. Nevertheless, Saori and Shuichi persevere...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 22 Feb 2014]

Vinland Saga #1

Action, Adventure, Historical, Period Drama


Preview: The historical manga is one genre that is traditionally not well represented in English translation. Sure, there's plenty of manga set in the past (or in fictional worlds that resemble it) but generally they will be spruced up with elements of the supernatural and fantasy. Straight historical fiction however is not something English-speaking manga readers see a lot of, but it's not because it's not being produced in Japan. Although there's an awful lot of manga set in Japan's own past, the Japanese are also fascinated by world history and in particular that of Europe. Which brings us to Vinland Saga , the hugely successful historical epic from Planetes creator Makoto Yukimura, which is now making its way to English readers courtesy of Kodansha Comics USA. The...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Thu, 6 Feb 2014]

Magi: The labyrinth of magic #1

Adventure, Magic, Shonen


Preview: Young Aladdin is searching for treasure. There are plenty of unscrupulous people in the desert, only too ready to take advantage of the cheerful, unworldly boy – but Aladdin has an ally: concealed within the metal flute that he always carries is Ugo, a powerful djinn. And Aladdin needs Ugo’s help as he constantly seems to find himself in difficult, dangerous situations, encountering bandits, crooked merchants, carnivorous plants… It’s not long before he teams up with Alibaba, a driver boy who has the same burning desire to find treasure, and it’s Alibaba who tells Aladdin about the mysterious Dungeons that started to spring up fourteen years ago, each building reputed to contain vast amounts of treasure. And so the two boldly enter Amon Dungeon...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Tue, 28 Jan 2014]

Crimson Spell #1

Boys Love, Fantasy


Preview:  “Of the myriad of monsters I have seen, none have been as beautiful as this one.” The capital of the Kingdom of Alsvieth is under attack by demons, so young Prince Valdrigr of Alsvieth, desperate to protect his people, takes up a magical crimson sword  – and, in wielding it, falls under its curse and becomes possessed by a demon himself. The only one who can help him break the curse before it destroys him is the young silver-haired sorcerer, Halvir Hroptr. Having tracked him down, Prince Vald finds himself agreeing to accompany the sorcerer on another quest while Halvir (Vald calls him Havi) decides whether or not he will accept the prince’s mission. Vald, a courtly and well-bred young man, is utterly unaware that, at night, Havi has been...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 4 Jan 2014]

Wandering Son #5

Slice of life


Preview: “Look at her! You’d think it’s the end of the world!” Shuichi ‘Nitorin’ Nitori (a boy who would rather have been born a girl) and his friend Yoshino Takatsuki (a girl who would rather have been born a boy) are starting junior high. The four previous volumes have followed the two (and their friends and relations) as they go through elementary school and now we see them, filled with apprehension, about to undergo the next ordeal: the school entrance ceremony. Takatsuki-san is amazed and appalled as another female student does what she would have loved to do but didn’t dare: wear the traditional boys’ black uniform, where all the other girls are in skirts and blazers. Sarashina Chizuru is the bold newcomer and thus begins a difficult...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Fri, 13 Dec 2013]

Sickness Unto Death #1

Drama, Horror, Supernatural


Preview: Futaba Kazuma is an 18 year old college student, learning clinical psychology whilst living in a mansion which the neighbours claim is ‘haunted’. Apart from the butler, the only other person living in the mansion is Emiru, a young girl suffering from deep despair. Emiru is physically weak and refusing to open up on her emotional state, so Kazuma takes it upon himself to try and help the poor girl whilst learning about her condition. But will his feelings for her merely get in the way, or perhaps save her? Sickness Unto Despair is a two volume manga series with art by Takahiro Seguchi and story by Hikari Asada based upon a 1849 novel by the same name by Søren Kierkegaard, which admittedly I have not read and do not know much about....


Score: 5 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Thu, 7 Nov 2013]

Love in Hell #1

Comedy, Fan Service, Fantasy, Horror, Sexy, Supernatural


Preview: "I read about an Eskimo hunter who asked the local missionary priest, 'If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?' 'No,' said the priest, 'not if you did not know.' 'Then why,’'asked the Eskimo, 'did you tell me?'" - Annie Dillard. Many of the titles released by Seven Seas Entertainment are particularly heavy when it comes to fan service. Love in Hell pretty much covers this, as well as having a heck of a lot of violence. It seems that the only reason that this is given an "Older Teen" rating rather than an "Adult" one is the fact that there is no sexual intercourse. The story starts with 27-year-old Rintaro Senkawa who gets drunk and falls to his death. When he awakens he discovers...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Tue, 5 Nov 2013]

Sweet Rein #1

Fantasy, Romance


Preview: " It's Christmas in Heaven. The snow falls from the sky. But it's nice and warm, and everyone looks smart and wears a tie." - Monty Python It's November and all the the major businesses in the world are keen to force Christmas upon us, and it looks as if manga publishers are jumping on the bandwagon too. Viz Media is now publishing a short-lived series, only three volumes long, with a festive theme. Sweet Rein begins about a week before Christmas with 17-year-old Kurumi Sagara who is spending the holiday alone: her mother is dead, her father is overworked, and all her friends are busy. While walking around town she bumps into a guy called Kaito and suddenly Kurumi discovers that she has a rein attached between her and this stranger. A...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 3 Nov 2013]

Tableau Numero 20

Boys Love, Fantasy


Preview: "A painter who has the feel of breasts and buttocks is saved." - Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The yaoi artist known as "est em" has risen through the ranks of her field of work, having released several titles, and also worked alongside English-speaking manga translators. This book is collection of several short stories. In the main story, "Tableau Numero 20", an art student and restorer living in Paris called Maurice comes across what he sees as the ideal picture, one that was missing but has since been rediscovered. Maurice starts to restore it, but when he turns around for one moment he discovers that the nude male model in the picture has vanished. He goes out to his balcony and discovers the model has come to life. The two soon embrace and fall...


Score: 6 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Fri, 1 Nov 2013]

Tropic of the Sea

Drama, Fantasy


Preview: "There is more simplicity in the man who eats caviar on impulse than in the man who eats grape-nuts on principle." - G. K. Chesterton. This manga by the late Satoshi Kon dates from 1990 and did not last long, as is evidenced by the fact that this series has been released in a single short volume. However, it is a series that has its own little charms here and there. Tropic of the Sea is set in a small seaside town of Komijima, which is currently undergoing redevelopment. Yosuke Yashiro is the son of the Shinto priest whose family is charged with the protection of an unusual object: a mermaid's egg. The family are given one every sixty years, look after it, and return it to the sea when the egg matures, whereupon the whole process is...


Score: 6 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Mon, 14 Oct 2013]

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon - #11 & #12

Magical Girl, Romance, Shojo


Preview: The final arc of the Sailor Moon manga (Stars) starts in Book 11 with Usagi having a tearful farewell with Mamoru, who’s off to study abroad. Just as Mamoru gives Usagi a ring, strongly signalling an engagement, an unknown enemy suddenly rips Mamoru in front of Usagi’s eyes and she collapses. The trauma of the event leaves Usagi with no memory of the event, believing her beloved is in America. Meanwhile, the members of a new idol group by the name of the Three Lights have suddenly grown in popularity, even enrolling into Usagi’s school, much to the delight of the other senshi. However in their tow comes a new enemy, claiming to be senshi from other worlds with the goal of taking the Sailor Crystals from all the senshi on Earth… As this is the very...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Fri, 6 Sep 2013]

The Twin Knights

Adventure, Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Magical Girl


Preview: "The main difference between men and women is that men are lunatics and women are idiots." - Rebecca West.   One of Osamu Tezuka's most famous creations is Princess Knight , a fairy tale about Sapphire, a princess born with both a boy heart and a girl heart, and who must do battle against those who want to stop her from becoming Queen of Silverland. This series was popular enough to spawn a sequel, The Twin Knights . As a result, if you have not read Princess Knight yet, please read that first as this review does contain spoilers.   In The Twin Knights Princess Sapphire has married her love, Prince Franz of Goldland, and the two are now joint King and Queen of both countries. Sapphire then gives birth to twins: one boy and one girl,...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Fri, 23 Aug 2013]

Hide and Seek #1

Boys Love


Preview: "First the doctor told me the good news: I was going to have a disease named after me." - Steve Martin. SuBLime has recently been releasing the work of yaoi mangaka Yaya Sakuragi. This latest title is a spin-off from her recent series Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love . The story revolves around Shuji, a single divorced father and owner of the local sweet shop, who is a friend of shrine priest Ryomei, the seme in Bond of Dreams (he make a brief appearance in this first volume.) Shuji does not get much business, but one day a rather serious-looking man called Saji comes to the shop to buy some sweets and toys. When Shuji's daughter falls ill, they visit a paediatrician, who just happens to be Saji, He explains that he bought the toys to make the children like him more because...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 11 Aug 2013]

Sankarea: Undying Love #1

Comedy, Horror, Romance, Supernatural


Preview: "Once you're dead, you're made for life." - Jimi Hendrix. There is a theory called "Meme theory", which states that ideas have a life of their own, and are transmitted from one mind to another. As a result, an idea in one place may occur around the other place at around the same time. You can sort of see this in the similarities between certain manga and Western works, which came out at the same time. For example, you could argue that serial kill series Death Note has similarities to Dexter , as the original printed works were published within just a few months of each and their TV adaptations were broadcast within a week of each other. You could claim that there are similarities between vampiric romances Vampire Knight and Twilight , that came out around a year apart in...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Wed, 31 Jul 2013]

No. 6 #1

Action, Adventure, Drama, Dystopian, Psychological, Sci-Fi


Preview: "I am not a number! I am a free man!" - Patrick McGoohan as Number Six in The Prisoner . The choice of the above quote is rather fitting for this review, and not just because the connection between the title of the manga and the name of title character from a 1960s cult TV show. No. 6 has similar themes, namely trying to escape from those who want to control you, or indeed want to see you dead. Based on a sequence of light novels, the series is set in the city of No. 6, which on the surface at least seems idyllic: a crime rate of practically zero percent, cutting edge medical care, nature provided in a safe environment, and surrounded by huge walls to protect the city from outside threats. Shion is an ideal student living in the well-off part of the city, but on his twelfth...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 27 Jul 2013]

Tokyo Babylon #1

Boys Love, Detective, Horror, Supernatural


Preview: Continuing their wonderful tradition of re-releasing CLAMP’s work in gorgeous omnibus editions; Dark Horse has brought Tokyo Babylon back to the West, a prequel to the infamous X, set nine years before. It’s Tokyo in the early 90s, and Subaru is the 13th head of the Sumeragi clan, a family of onmyōji (a medium/magician if you will). It’s his job to solve various paranormal mysteries in the city including vengeful spirits and curses. However he is not alone; his twin sister Hokuto supports his work despite not having much power herself. She has also made it her mission to get her twin brother together with Seishiro Sakurazuka, a 25-year-old veterinarian who frequently proclaims his love to Subaru, who in return brushes his affections off as a joke. It...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Wed, 26 Jun 2013]

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin volume 1 - Activation #1

Adventure, Giant Robots, Mecha, Sci-Fi, Space Opera, War


Preview: Upon unwrapping my review copy of this book, I was reminded of two shocking facts: One: I’ve been a comics fan all my life - I have bookshelves HEAVING with the things - but very little of them come from Japan. Two: I’ve been besotted with Mobile Suit Gundam for years. And yet, while I own pretty much all the English language DVDs, I don’t own a single Gundam manga. All that may be about to change, though, with Vertical Publishing’s lavish deluxe editions of ‘Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin’.  The series is something of a high-powered novelty, being simultaneously a more recent addition to the printed end of the Gundam franchise, as well as a return to its very first incarnation.          The story...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 9 Jun 2013]

Paradise Kiss #3

Coming-of-Age, Drama, Josei, Romance


Preview: "Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months." – Oscar Wilde. Due to these being larger collections of the original series, this Vertical edition forms the concluding part of Paradise Kiss, a manga following schoolgirl Yukari Hayasaka who finds herself becoming a model for a quartet of fashion students: haute couture exponent George, transgender make-up lover Isabella, lolita Miwako, and punk Arashi. The end of the second volume saw Yukari and George's relationship becoming increasingly romantic as the group prepared for a fashion show at their school. Meanwhile the others faced trouble when some of the items they were working on for the show were confiscated by their teacher when they were discovered skipping from...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Mon, 3 Jun 2013]

Angelic Layer #1

Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi


Preview: The latest CLAMP series to be re-released in omnibus edition is Angelic Layer, a prequel to Chobits, where Misaki Suzuhara has just moved into Tokyo City to live with her aunt, Shouko. Upon arrival she becomes fascinated with Angelic Layer, a game involving dolls that come to life and battle other players' Angels with the power of their minds. With the help of a mysterious man in a lab coat, calling himself ‘Icchan’, Misaki makes her first Angel (named after the main character of Magic Knight Rayearth; ‘Hikaru’) and learns the rules of Angelic Layer. It’s not long before Misaki shows incredible natural talent for the game and finds her way into the local championships. As she proceeds to the semi-finals, she discovers that a mysterious woman seems to...


Score: 6 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Wed, 29 May 2013]

Blue Morning #1

Boys Love, Historical


Preview: YUU−UTSU NA ASA © SHOKO HIDAKA 2009/TOKUMA SHOTEN "How do you know if it's time to wash the dishes and clean your house? Look inside your pants. If you find a penis in there, it's not time." – Jo Brand. This latest yaoi offering from SuBLime follows the relationship between a young boy who inherits a viscountship at the age of 10 and his butler. Do not worry however, as the story quickly jumps forward to when the boy becomes an adult, so there is no danger of any shotacon-like goings-on. Akihito Kuze inherits the title following the sudden death of his father. He makes his way to the ancestral home of his family where he is placed under the charge of the head butler of the household, Tomoyuki Katsuragi. Katsuragi is not interested in Kuze...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Mon, 27 May 2013]

Atomcat

Action, Adventure, Childrens, Sci-Fi


Preview: "Do not meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your computer." – Bruce Graham. Astro Boy is widely regarded as being one of the greatest, if not the greatest, and certainly the most important manga series ever written. It was also the first manga to have been given an anime adaptation. However, long after the success of this series, Osamu Tezuka decided to revisit it with this short children’s take on the original story. In Atomcat , a schoolboy called Tsugio who is often the victim of bullying and who likes reading the original Astro Boy stories, finds an abandoned cat. He tries to take him home but his parents reject him. Tsugio finds a safe spot to let the cat go, but while he tries to do so he is run over. Tsugio is...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 11 May 2013]

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon #10

Magical Girl, Romance, Shojo


Preview: With the whole Sailor Senshi team reunited once more, it’s time to finally take on the Dead Moon Circus. However with Usagi and Mamoru made ill by the Dead Moon’s power, the world of Elysion in danger and Helios growing weaker, can they defeat their latest foe? Sailor Moon Volume 10 is the complete finale to the Dream Arc (or in anime terms SuperS arc) which works better for the book overall. In the previous arc ending the book was padded with the beginning chapters of the next arc, creating a disorientating experience where the characters went from proclaiming ‘peace has returned!’ to suddenly fearing the new enemy on the next page. Luckily we don’t have that here, we have the big battle, and it’ll be a good few months of rest for...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Wed, 8 May 2013]

Unico

Fantasy, Romance, Supernatural


Preview: "With the white unicorn across her shoulder, makes you think that she might have been someone who's older." – 'White Unicorn', Wolfmother Digital Manga Publishing has been on something of a role with its move to crowdfund some of Osamu Tezuka's more obscure titles. Their latest one is a charming famiy-friendly story, combining mythology and romance. Unico begins in a Greek mythological setting. Venus is jealous of the fair and beautiful Psyche because her pet baby unicorn, Unico, is spreading happiness around and making Psyche appear to be more beautiful than her. Venus uses her fellow gods such as Eros to launch a dastardly plan. Unico is kidnapped and taken by the Spirit of the West Wind to various periods of time and space, with his memory wiped clean of the...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Tue, 30 Apr 2013]

Egoistic Blue

Boys Love


Preview: Egoistic Blue © 2012 Mio Tennohji/Libre Publishing Co., Ltd. "The best way of reproducing the ancient Greek temperament would be to cross the Scots with the Chinese." – Hugh MacDiarmid SuBLime, the yaoi imprint for Viz Media, releases a lot of titles that are only available to purchase digitally. This, Egoistic Blue, a story of gay love between two people from entirely different continents is one of them. The leads of the story are Chiaki, a concierge at a five-star hotel in Japan, and Greek millionaire Harry Christophoros. While Harry is in the middle of tracking down a relative, he issues orders to Chiaki that he should be his private concierge during his stay. However, as the story moves on, so does the romantic relationship between the duo,...


Score: 5 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Tue, 23 Apr 2013]

Library Wars #9

Action, Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi, Shojo


Preview: "The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones." – Joseph Joubert. In this ninth volume of the manga adaptation of Hiro Arikawa's light novels, things have certainly picked up somewhat. The plots have improved and are dealt with impeccably by artist Kiiro Yumi. The story continues to follow Iku Kasahara of the "Library Defence Force" and her princely instructor Dojo, carrying on with an overhanging tale about trying to track down a groper in one of the libraries. While at first the premise sounds like something devised to allow the creators to go on a bit of a fan-service binge, it is actually dealt with quite well and with a minimum of anything inappropriate. Later stories in the book see...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 14 Apr 2013]

Jiu Jiu #3

Action, Comedy, Drama, Romance, Shojo, Supernatural


Preview: "The family you come from isn't as important as the family you're going to have." – Ring Lardner While the second volume for this shojo manga was a bit quiet, the third volume witnesses a lot more action, with new characters introduced and big plots being uncovered. The series continues to follow demon hunter Takamichi Hachioji and her pet "Jiu Jiu" (shape-shifting wolves) Snow and Night. In this volume, she and her family are hosting a gathering of the clan, something she is not totally keen on doing, but as key figure in the family, she is forced to. Before the meeting, however, the trio have a run-in with two people. One is Mika Mekozane, who used to be Takamichi's fiance and whose familiar is a fox-weasel hybrid called White (despite being a...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 17 Mar 2013]

Ayako

Drama


Preview: "No one who has not sat in prison knows what the State is like." – Leo Tolstoy. In terms of Osamu Tezuka's work, Ayako certainly fits into his darker side. It is not as dark however as some of his even later work like MW or Message to Adolf , but it certainly has some stuff you probably would not expect to find in Astro Boy . This collection of three volumes tells the story of the Tenge family starting in 1949 when Japan was still occupied by the Americans following the end of the war and ending at the then present day when the manga ended in 1973. The family is led by the conservative patriarch Sakuemon, who is annoyed by the fact that his middle son, the one-eyed Jiro, did not die but surrendered. Jiro is now working, unknown to the rest of the...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Wed, 27 Feb 2013]

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon #9

Magical Girl, Romance, Shojo


Preview: The new enemy, the Dead Moon Circus, have switched Usagi’s and Chibi-Usa’s body sizes! Will they be able to return to normal? Also; Mamoru has been feeling poorly lately, coughing up strange black blood but refuses to tell Usagi as he fears he’ll be dragging her down. If that’s not enough, the enemy seems to be attacking the Inner Senshi individually, going after their dreams and hopes then turning them into nightmares. Most of the volume is taken up by the Inner Senshi and their battles with various members of the Dead Moon Circus; unlike their solo battles in the previous arc, their fights aren’t purely just to eliminate the numbers of their enemy (although that certainly is a big point of the battles.) The acts also allow for some much needed and...


Score: 6 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Fri, 15 Feb 2013]

Paradise Kiss - Paradise Kiss Volumes 1-2

Coming-of-Age, Drama, Josei, Romance


Preview: If, like me, you know nothing about fashion but a lot about manga, then this could be the manga for you. Paradise Kiss features a brief glance into the fashion industry and cool clothes, while also accompanying it with wonderful art, moving plot, and great characters. The manga follows senior high school girl Yukari Hayasaka, who is uncomfortable with her studies and her forthcoming exams. One day she is kidnapped by a quartet of students, all of whom are studying fashion design and are trying to set up their own fashion label: Paradise Kiss. The students include the leader George, an eccentric bisexual with blue hair and a love of haute couture; Isabella, a transgender woman with an unusual taste in make-up; Arashi, who is into punk fashion, complete with safety pin...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Tue, 15 Jan 2013]

Ninth Life Love

Boys Love, Romance


Preview: Make the most of this title, fujoshi and fudanshi , while you can - because if, like me, you still prefer your BL manga to come in good old-fashioned paper book form, this is the last title (apart from hentai and Tezuka's Unico ) to be published by Digital Manga Inc. until next August. There will be no new titles from June or 801 - except on the newly revamped eManga site (about which, more here later) - for six long months. And what a sweet manga Ninth Life Love is. This is the first title by Lalako Kojima I've read and her light, pleasing style in the drawings (a little reminiscent of the wonderful Rihito Takarai) and the touching way she develops her main story make it stand out from other recent Juné releases. It's basically a duet, a love song for two...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 5 Jan 2013]

Vampire Knight #15

Drama, Gothic, Shojo


Preview: With Kaname nowhere to be found and his murderous actions unexplained, Yuki is taken into custody by the Vampire Hunter Society and questioned by her former guardian Kaiden Cross. Yuki herself has no idea what Kaname is planning and is eager to go after him. However, she is quickly reminded that, with him missing and potentially dangerous, as a Kuran Pureblood, it’s now her place to step up to help maintain the peace between Humans and Vampires. Can Yuki overcome her lack of leadership skills and step up to the challenge? Meanwhile, Zero seems to be showing signs of descending to becoming a Level E vampire whilst - at all costs - avoiding Yuki, now living in the Academy. Volume 15 of the gothic vampire teen drama is probably the most plot-packed book so far in the series....


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 5 Jan 2013]

Cyborg 009 #1

Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi


Preview: "Our bombs are smarter than the average high school student. At least they can find Kuwait." – A. Whitney Brown. If you have been following the news recently you may be aware that Digital Manga Publishing is going digital only for the first six months of 2013. Considering this, it is wise to have a look at what manga are already available to buy digitally. There are already plenty of websites on offer. DMP has emanga; there is also jmanga and Netcomics. Another company to enter this digital business is ComiXology, a company which allows you to read both manga and western comics on devices such as the iPad and the iPod Touch using a free app. To see what such a system is like I decided to read one of the manga that ComiXology had to offer. The manga in...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Fri, 7 Dec 2012]

Missions of Love #1

Romance


Preview: To her classmates, Yukina Himuro is the ‘Absolute Zero Snow Woman’, a strange girl with cold hands and an equally cold stare, avoided by everyone apart from her cousin Akira. Little do they know that Yukina is also a cell-phone novelist under the pen name of ‘Yupina’ who enjoys people watching as it inspires her very popular stories. Lately Yukina’s been feeling the pressure from her fans to write a romance story, but there’s one problem – Yukina has never experienced romance before, how is she suppose to write about one? In a twist of fate, Yukina discovers a secret notebook belonging to the most popular boy in school, Shigure Kitami, that reveals the womanizing personality he hides to get what he wants from others. Yukina uses her...


Score: 6 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Fri, 23 Nov 2012]

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon #8

Magical Girl, Romance, Shojo


Preview: Volume 8 sees the long awaited conclusion to the ‘Infinity’ arc with the biggest battle the senshi have faced so far. Naoko Takeuchi doesn’t hold back in this one; the entire planet is in danger, ready to be swallowed by this huge entity from another galaxy, buildings are ripping apart, and there seems to be little that the senshi can do. It doesn’t pull any of the tricks from the previous arcs; the senshi combine their powers but it’s still not enough to save everyone, and love doesn’t always conquer all this time. It all comes down to the awakening of the infamous Sailor Saturn to destroy the enemy and Earth along with it. It seems all hope is lost, and Naoko does a fantastic job of building up the tension and fear, making the whole battle feel...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Tue, 20 Nov 2012]

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon - #6 & #7

Magical Girl, Romance, Shojo


Preview: With the inner senshi having all graced the manga covers and introduced into the story for a while now, it’s time to meet new senshi along with a new threat in town. The local new school, Mugen Academy, is becoming famous worldwide for housing brilliantly intelligent students, but at the same time however it seems that people in town are randomly ‘de-evolving’ into monster forms. If that wasn’t enough, the famous violinist Michiru Kaiô and race car driver Haruka Ten’ô have suddenly arrived in the area, along with two new Sailor Senshi – can the two beautiful new faces in town possibly be the new guardians? Or do they have anything in common with the new enemy that arrived at the same time? Volume 6 starts the new...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Fri, 9 Nov 2012]

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney #3

Comedy, Detective, Mystery


Preview: When I reviewed the first volume of Phoenix Wright: Official Casebook last year , I felt disappointed by the way it focused on funny short stories that were either good or bad; it was basically a manga for Phoenix Wright fans and I wasn’t impressed by it in the slightest. Thankfully the new Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney manga returns to the formula that made the game series so great: present Phoenix with a case so that he can unravel it with a cast of fun characters. Does the manga succeed in doing so? Court is now in session. The third volume takes defence attorney Phoenix Wright and his assistant Maya to the popular Fortune-Telling Plaza but due to a typhoon, the place is unusually quiet. While waiting for their next fortune specialist they meet...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 14 Oct 2012]

Vampire Knight #14

Drama, Gothic, Shojo


Preview: Sara is still on the loose turning helpless female students into her vampire slaves, making Kaname’s lack of involvement to stop her suspicious to the Vampire Hunters Society. However the current ruler of vampires has other things on his mind; with his past memories fully revealed to Yuki, she decides to step forward and begin a new life with him regardless of what awaits them. However will Kaname’s mysterious new plans come between them? Or will the repercussions of his actions keep them apart forever? Matsuri Hino has been quite bold with her story by taking it out of the comfortable school scenery and into the big wide world with a stronger focus on the political side of vampires and humans co-existing in the world together. She’s also been brave in having the...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Wed, 3 Oct 2012]

Message to Adolf #1

Drama, Historical, Thriller, War


Preview: "What luck for rulers that men do not think." – Adolf Hitler. Osamu Tezuka may be better known for his children's work, especially Astro Boy , but this thrilling historical drama shows that he was equally able to create enthralling works for adults too. Message to Adolf is told by a Japanese journalist, Sohei Toge, who begins the story with the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but he is in fact a secondary character. The story is about three people called Adolf. The first is Adolf Hitler; the second is Adolf Kamil, a German-born Jewish boy who is the son of baker and now living in the Japanese coastal city of Kobe; and the third is Adolf Kaufmann, the young son of the German consul in Kobe. The two Adolf boys are friends, but things are made difficult by the parents....


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 23 Sep 2012]

Secretary's Job?

Boys Love, Comedy


Preview: Thirty-something Takase is known as the 'Legendary Secretary', so the company president thinks that he's just the right man to sort out his lazy and unmotivated son Toshiaki Honjou. At first young Toshiaki-san resists all Takase's motivational strategies but, little by little, the magic begins to work upon him - a little too well. So that when, carried away, he kisses Takase, the secretary realizes, rather too late, that he has unwittingly captured the young man's heart. One thing inevitably leads to another (this is a BL manga, after all) and poor confused Takase requests to be re-assigned. But, separated from his young protégé, he finds that he can't function effectively any more - and Toshiaki is so demotivated that he refuses to go to work. How can matters - and...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 4 Aug 2012]

Castle Mango #1

Boys Love, Slice of life


Preview: "A love hotel is a place to nurture love...and love wins against all odds." Toshio Shirosaki. High school student Yorozu Shirosaki helps his mother run the gloriously kitsch old-style love hotel Castle Mango that is the only legacy left him and his younger brother Satoru by their dead father Toshio. Studious Yorozu has his sights set on gaining a place at a top university - but hiring out rooms in the hotel to Kaleido Fish Studios, makers of 'adult' heterosexual films, brings him face-to-face with their unconventional - and unashamedly gay - young director, Togame. When Togame sacks an actor during shooting, he asks Yorozu to take his place (unaware that he's still a high school student). When Yorozu hesitates, Togame unceremoniously pulls down his trousers...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Wed, 25 Jul 2012]

Starry Sky #1

Reverse harem, Romance, Shojo, Slice of life


Preview: "The stars are majestic laboratories, gigantic crucibles, such as no chemist could dream." - Henri Poincaré Based on a series of computer games created by honeybee, this manga adaptation of Starry Sky drawn by Hal Minagawa is set at Seigetsu Academy, a boarding school specialising in astronomy and space sciences. It used to be an all boys school, but has recently opened its door to girls. Sadly however, because of the rural location and specialist studies, there is only one girl studying there, Tsukiko Yahisa. The manga sees Tsukiko encounter several boys, each with their own charms, who try to please her in their own way. The boys include: Yoh Tomoe, who is half-French and was childhood friends with Tsukiko; Kanata Nanami, the typical rough schoolboy who appears...


Score: 6 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 22 Jul 2012]

Jiu Jiu #1

Action, Comedy, Drama, Romance, Shojo, Supernatural


Preview: "When novelist Margaret Atwood asked women what they feared most from men, they said: "We're afraid they'll kill us." When men were asked the same question about women, they said: 'We're afraid they’ll laugh at us.'" – Naomi Wolf Now, given that I like wolves, to the extent that my pen name is "Wolf", and this contains two of them, this should be a manga that would appeal to me straight away. This story follows a girl called Takamichi Hachioji, who comes from a family of "Dark Hunters" who are paid to hunt down demons. Three years ago her twin brother was killed and now she is the heir of the clan. At the same time she is given two wolf pups to look after. However, these pups are actually "Jiu Jiu". They are...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 14 Jul 2012]

Ouran High School Host Club #18

Comedy, Drama, Reverse harem, Romance, Shojo, Slice of life


Preview: "Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and we cannot live in." – James Baldwin So, all good things must come to an end and this is no exception. There are several problems in terms of reviewing the final volume of Ouran High School Host Club . Firstly there is trying to get over the fact that there will be no more of it, and secondly I have to try and talk about what is in the book without giving too much of the ending away. Let us start from where the last volume finished (if you have not read the previous 17 volumes, you really should stop reading this column now as there are spoilers). In it, the androgynous Haruhi Fujioka, along with just about everyone else at the elite Ouran High School, helped the head of Host Club Tamaki Suou...


Score: 10 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Tue, 19 Jun 2012]

Magic Knight Rayearth #2

Adventure, Fantasy, Mecha, Shojo


Preview: This review will contain spoilers for the first omnibus. Hikaru, Fuu and Umi have never been the same since their trip to Tokyo Tower. To their friends and family the girls have suddenly become serious, withdrawn and sad for no apparent reason. But to our heroines their lives have changed forever ever since they were transported into the world of Cefiro to supposedly ‘save’ it from an evil Sorcerer, only to end up destroying the magical Pillar that maintained the world and sent back to their home world hastily after. Drained by their guilt and wanting to set Cefiro right again, the girls are transported back into the magical world and find out that neighbouring ‘countries’ are trying to evade Cefiro to become the new Pillar themselves. With fear...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Thu, 7 Jun 2012]

FLCL - FLCL Omnibus: The Complete Manga Series

Action, Comedy, Crazy, Drama, Mecha, Music, Psychological, Sci-Fi, Sexy


Preview: "Though a good deal is too strange to be believed, nothing is too strange to have happened." – Thomas Hardy. If you are into your anime and manga then you will no doubt have come across the sheer complete lunacy that is FLCL . One of the most praised anime around, most people will be aware of the show's mixture of sci-fi, comedy and surrealism. While the anime is well known, the manga adaptation of it is not given so much attention. However, Dark Horse has now published the manga version in a single volume for everyone to read. For those who have yet to come across the series, FLCL is set in the fictional Japanese suburb of Mabase, which is dominated by a building which is shaped like a steam iron that blows out white smoke every day. 12-year-old...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Thu, 31 May 2012]

One Piece - 3-in-1: Volumes 1-3

Action, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Shonen


Preview: "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters, these see the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep." - The Bible, Book of Psalms 107:23-24. One Piece by Eiichiro Oda is the last of the four shonen 3-in-1 mangas that I have been examining, and it is by far in a way the most successful commercially. This manga has been running since 1997 and has published 65 printed volumes, the last eight of which sold three million copies each, the 65th achieving this in just two months. It is currently the best selling manga of all time. For those like me that only have just started reading it, the "One Piece" in the title is the world's greatest treasure, which is being searched for by pirates all over the world. One of those...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Mon, 16 Apr 2012]

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon #4

Magical Girl, Romance, Shojo


Preview: The re-released volume 4 of the Sailor Moon manga continues on from where volume 3 left off; Sailor Mars and Mercury have been captured by the new enemy known as ‘Black Moon’ and Usagi feels powerless to stop them. Just as the media goes into a frenzy with the increase of UFO sightings in the area, the remaining Sailor soldiers start to think that their new enemy is possibly from space, or another dimension. Before any conclusions can be made, Sailor Jupiter is swiftly captured and Chiba-usa’s sudden appearance just before Black Moon’s debut is no longer seen as a coincidence. With little hope remaining and Usagi growing increasingly worried for her friends, Chibi-usa is cornered and reveals that the enemy is in fact from a different time period all together....


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Wed, 4 Apr 2012]

Naruto - 3-in-1: Volumes 1-3

Action, Adventure, Shonen


Preview: "The fox knows many things; the hedgehog, one big thing." - Erasmus Naruto is the third of the four big shonen mangas that I am reviewing the first three volumes of (the others being Bleach , Fullmetal Alchemist and One Piece ). Naruto  is a manga that appears to divide opinion amongst some anime fans, which is something that I personally notice when I go to anime conventions, including the one that I work for, Nemacon in Middlesbrough. It is certainly very popular, with people regularly cosplaying Naruto and other characters from the series, which is annoying for the man who runs Nemacon, whom I know personally, who hates the series. The series, which began with a short pilot chapter created by Masashi Kishimoto in 1997 before becoming a...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Fri, 30 Mar 2012]

Fullmetal Alchemist - 3-in-1 edition: Volumes 1-3

Action, Adventure, Shonen, Supernatural


Preview: "Oh, ye seekers of perpetual motion, how many vain chimeras have you pursued? Go and take your place with the alchemists." – Leonardo da Vinci In the second article in my series looking at the big four shonen manga, I am examining Hiromu Arakawa's Fullmetal Alchemist . There are several differences between this work, and the other three shonen manga I am looking at ( Bleach , Naruto and One Piece ). The key ones are that this is the only one of the four created by a woman, it seems to come across as a bit more mature than Bleach - whether it is the most mature out of the four is still something to find out - and it is not a Shonen Jump manga. This is key because this is the only one of the four that does not constantly display annoying messages...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Wed, 28 Mar 2012]

Bleach - 3-in-1 edition: Volumes 1-3

Action, Adventure, Shonen, Supernatural


Preview: "Black spirits and white, red spirits and grey, mingle, mingle, mingle, you that mingle may." – William Shakespeare's Macbeth . For some reason, probably due to the fact that there were so many volumes of these particular series and I feel that I will never catch up, I have never read any of the big shonen manga, or seen their anime adaptations. The closest I have got was when I won a competition held by Manga Entertainment, and they accidentally sent me a copy of Naruto Series 4 Part 1 instead of The Sky Crawlers which I actually won. Luckily, Viz Media has released a series of "3-in-1" editions of their longer running series, which seem ideal to get anyone started on these works. Thus this is the first in a series of four articles in which I...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Mon, 26 Mar 2012]

With the Light #1

Drama


Preview: "The mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open." – Frank Zappa I have wanted to read this manga for some time now for one main reason: I suffer from a disorder on the autistic spectrum, like the child mentioned in the title. Of course I knew that the story would not be totally relevant to me. The child, Hikaru Azuma, suffers from autism, while I have a different autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), Asperger's Syndrome, and luckily I only have a mild form of it. Also, each individual case is different from all the others. Oh, and the little matter that I am English and he is Japanese. It should also be pointed out that this manga, by the late Keiko Tobe (she died before she was able to complete the story), is not so much about the...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 11 Mar 2012]

Ouran High School Host Club - Ouran High School Host Club, Volumes 1-17

Comedy, Drama, Reverse harem, Romance, Shojo, Slice of life


Preview: "Love is the delightful interval between meeting a beautiful girl and discovering she looks like a haddock." – John Barrymore I must confess that I have come late to the delights of Ouran , which is a shame because this has very rapidly become one of my favourite manga series. What makes it worse is that the next one to be published by Viz, number 18, will be the final volume. This review looks back at the previous 17 volumes of Bisco Hatori's work; starting way back in 2002, before the anime series began which first caught my attention only a few months ago, to the more recent volumes which have taken the story beyond the TV version. For those who have yet to come across the series, the setting is the Ouran High School, an elite educational...


Score: 10 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Mon, 5 Mar 2012]

Codename: Sailor V - #1 & #2

Magical Girl, Romance, Shojo


Preview: It wouldn’t be too overdramatic if I said that when Kodansha announced that they had picked up the license for the Sailor Moon manga and would be re-releasing it in English revised with a new translation after being out of print since 2005, Sailor Moon fans across the West scream ‘Hallelujah!’ at the top of their lungs. The biggest surprise however came when it’s prequel manga, Codename: Sailor V would also be picked up for release and hit selves the same time as the first Sailor Moon book. Tokyopop/Mixx never gave Codename: Sailor V the time of day back in the 90s when Sailor Moon was their flagship and best selling series, so to see where it all came from with glossy covers, fresh translation and using re-mastered versions ported from Japan, any Sailor Moon...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Fri, 24 Feb 2012]

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon - #1 to #3

Magical Girl, Romance, Shojo


Preview: When Naoko Takeuchi first created Sailor Moon back in 1992, I highly doubt that she could have predicted the series’ success across the world. Often credited as popularizing and revitalizing the magical girl genre, on top of being one of the most recognisable anime and manga series in the world, it’s a big question as to why the series ever went out of print in the first place in 2005. Thankfully, Kodansha relicensed the manga in 2011, picking up the re-released 12 volume reprints of the manga that was released in Japan between 2003 and 2004. Their efforts have proven to be very successful, with the first volume topping the best selling manga list in the New York Times and having the first print sold out after 4 weeks. So what is it about the Sailor Moon series that taps...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Thu, 23 Feb 2012]

Library Wars #7

Action, Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi, Shojo


Preview: "Never lend books; no one ever returns them. The only books I have in my library are books other people have lent me." – Anatole France When reading Library Wars I cannot help but make parallels with the real world, because although we have not got into any armed conflicts over the control of books and libraries, there is the non-violent war with regards to the internet and censorship going on at the moment. Now in its seventh manga volume, Library Wars is adapted from a series of light novels by Hiro Arikawa, set in the year 2019, in which books are subject to heavy censorship by Japan's "Media Betterment Committee." Fighting against this is the "Library Defence Force" which is trying to protect books from being censored. The story...


Score: 6 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 19 Feb 2012]

The Drops of God #2

Drama


Preview: "Wine is sunlight, held together by water." – Galileo Galilei I myself am not a wine connoisseur. I, like most British people, look at them with a slight sense of annoyance and confusion. When most people watch a wine connoisseur on the telly they tend to think to themselves: "I don't care if it has an oak-like finish or not, just tell me if it tastes nice!" However, they must have some appeal, as the manga The Drops of God testifies. This award-winning manga, written by Tadashi Agi and drawn by Shu Okimoto, has been influential on wine sales and imports into Japan, and elsewhere in the Far East. Also, it is accessible to a wine novice as the creators explain jargon, wine types, people and places in the wine industry, and describe techniques and...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Thu, 16 Feb 2012]

Princess Knight #2

Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, Shojo


Preview: This review covers all volumes of Princess Knight. Tezuka was not afraid to try anything. Alongside shounen, seinen, gekiga, political works, psychological, medical dramas, fantasy, and science fiction, he also published quaint shoujo adventures in the form of Princess Knight . The god of manga was prolific and bursting with schema-changing messages to impart to his readers. Who would not be thrilled to see what he had to say to little girls? Will Princess Knight be a revolutionary account of female strength? Will the heroine, Sapphire, prove emotionally robust, physically capable, clever, and quick-witted? Or will she be a bumbling wreck as girls usually are portrayed by both shounen and shoujo authors? Will her masculine garb be a cheap excuse for her uncharacteristic...


Score: 6 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Wed, 8 Feb 2012]

@ Full Moon

Comedy, Fantasy, Gender-bender, Gothic


Preview: @ Full Moon Volumes 1 & 2 David is a vampire; Marlo is half vampire, half werewolf. The young men have been close friends since childhood and in the two volumes of Sanami Matoh's light-hearted bit-lit manga series 'Until the Full Moon' they fall in love and get married. Oh - sorry - forgot to mention that Marlo becomes a woman every full moon, hence the title, so it's ok for all those with BL-phobia, because he's a she once a month. '@ Full Moon' continues their story as newly-weds and plunges the happy couple into a difficult situation as Clive, an ardent admirer of Marlo, gets his little witch and contract mage friend Mona to place a spell on Marlo that will make him stay in his female form forever. As it turns out, Marlo is not pleased about this at all - and has no interest...


Score: 6 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Thu, 2 Feb 2012]

Love Hina #2

Comedy, Harem, Romance


Preview: When I think way back into the early days of my anime and manga fandom, I can remember a time when I couldn’t walk into a WHSmiths and easily find a manga section to pick from. I had to take trips to the centre of London and find an obscure comic shop just off China town in order to get my manga fix. Of course, back then not a lot of manga had been licensed and on top of the usual problem of never finding the first volume of a series, I had to settle with what little I could get my hands on, this included golden oldies such as Sailor Moon, Please Teacher, Demon Diary and our topic for today – Love Hina. However as time flew by, I grew up, and more titles became commercially available; as a result my tastes changed and the genres I grew to enjoy the most became...


Score: 5 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Wed, 1 Feb 2012]

Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei #12

Comedy, High School, Satire


Preview: I’m in despair! I’m in despair over reading this entire volume! Last year, someone at a convention talked to me about “Sayonora, Zetsubou-Sensei” after discussing popular worldwide political satire shows such as Have I Got News For You, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, of which I’m a regular viewer. Since then I have read a few volumes of the series and loved the way it parodies everything about Japanese culture for the sake of comedy - so does volume 12 continue the smart satire? To re-cap on what the series is about: Itoshiki Nozomu (known as Professor Negative) is a homeroom teacher for class 2-F and he suffers from being negative about every single subject that is talked about and constantly tries to hang himself (only to fail...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Wed, 25 Jan 2012]

Pluto #8

Detective, Mystery, Sci-Fi, War


Preview: This review covers all eight volumes of Pluto . I imagine Naoki Urasawa suffered butterflies the first time it truly dawned on him that he was about to adapt Osamu Tezuka's flagship work, Astro Boy , specifically its 'The Greatest Robot on Earth' story. However, Pluto brilliantly weaves its own emotional landscape out of the threads of the original plot. Different characters get different emphases and a prototypical action adventure becomes a brooding murder mystery, but it feels just as seminal. 'The Greatest Robot on Earth' shows how one robot called Pluto systematically kills the world's most powerful robots in some contrived effort to be the best. Underscoring this is Tezuka's assertion that the human ego uses destructive technology for selfish and shallow aims. Its...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Tue, 17 Jan 2012]

Princess Ai: The Prism of Midnight Dawn - #1 & #2

Fantasy, Romance


Preview: Once upon a time, there was a princess named Courtney Love. Made famous by her marriage to a front man of a grunge band and her own controversial antics, she was known by many across the land. One day she met a CEO of a manga company named Stu Levey, who was also known by his pen name of DJ Milky. The pair journeyed far and wide to Japan to meet the manga artists Ai Yazawa and Misaho Kujiradou in order to create a 3 part manga series loosely based on Ms Love’s romance life in a fantasy setting; Princess Ai. Upon its release it enjoyed moderate success with posters, calendars, figurines and soundtracks available for the fans. In 2008, volume 1 of its sequel manga was released, however with Tokyopop closing in 2011, the final part of Princess Ai’s story was left...


Score: 6 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Fri, 2 Dec 2011]

xxxHolic #17

Fantasy, Supernatural


Preview: The dimension witch Yūko has vanished, leaving her protégé Kimihiro Watanuki in charge of her magical shop – a shop he can now never leave. As the years pass, Watanuki carries on Yūko’s work of wish-granting, supported by regular visits from his friend Dômeki, now a student (“We’re not friends!”) and black Mokona (“More sake!”) But the sudden appearance of a glamorous and seductively-clad blonde customer strikes a chill into Watanuki’s heart; she is the Jorô-Gumo, the spider who once consumed his right eye. She’s back with a request – but this time he’s older, wiser, and ready for her wiles (the pipe fox is also protecting him.) She wants Watanuki to bring her a red pearl, a wish...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Wed, 9 Nov 2011]

Magic Knight Rayearth #1

Adventure, Fantasy, Mecha, Shojo


Preview: When Dark Horse announced their releases of classic Clamp titles as omnibus editions in 2009, manga fans around the world rejoiced. The Clover and Chobits omnibus editions were released not long after in stunning presentation filled with beautiful colour pages, retranslations, and enough bonus features to make any Clamp fan squeal with joy, as well as truly raising the bar in how manga should be brought to the masses. However late 2010 then continuing onto 2011, numerous delays affected the new editions to the point that no release date could be confirmed, leaving many fans worried that they had been cancelled. This was not helped by having no official word from Dark Horse, so we simply had to rely on numerous delivery updates from the sites we pre-ordered the volumes from, and hoped...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 5 Nov 2011]

Domu: A Child's Dream

Horror, Psychological, Supernatural


Preview: My first thought upon turning the last pages of Domu was that the manga has magnificent action. The second was that it doesn't have much else. I point especially to the first act, which, comprising the murder mystery staples of police detectives heroically barking up the wrong tree, frustrated witnesses, and a handful of too-obvious suspects, feels unrepentantly derivative. Chief among the problems is that the synopsis has already given away the crux of the tale - an old man and a little girl get into a psychic battle - so watching detectives fumbling their way through a set of 'inexplicable' deaths feels like stalling. I sense that even the mangaka, Katsuhiro Otomo, is far less interested in the setup than the culmination. There is something sardonically self-aware, maybe even...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Mon, 3 Oct 2011]

I Give to You

Boys Love


Preview: “The world…is rejecting me.” Ryoichi’s life has gone badly wrong. Betrayed by a lover who has run out on him, leaving him saddled with his enormous debt of thirteen million yen, he finds himself on the run from the debt collectors, lost, and caught in a typhoon. That’s when the gusting wind blows a flyer into his hands. ‘I’ll give you a seat,” he reads in the pouring rain. “I’ll give you my delicious tea. Tea Efil.” Looking around, he spots the dark little tea shop across the way and decides – on the spur of the moment – to seek shelter there. Inside the old wooden building he finds a young man asleep with a little cat in his lap and a cigarette burning to ash drooping out of one corner of his mouth. The...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Tue, 27 Sep 2011]

The Drifting Classroom #4

Horror, Psychological


Preview: Instead of gore or monsters, The Drifting Classroom derives horror from the fall of humanity; it intends not so much to induce vomit as to shake us to our souls. The first four volumes describe the social collapse between students and teachers after their school teleports to a desolate alternate world, abandoning them to the ruthless game of survival. 'Social collapse' is of course an understatement: by volume two there have been stabbings, shootings, people being set on fire, an epileptic fit, a murderous car chase, a hostage situation, a monster attack, and students leaping to their deaths from the school roof. What stops the plot sinking into a tedious string of atrocities is the budding theme of improbable courage and endurance. Working firmly in the Lord of the Flies...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Fri, 16 Sep 2011]

Butterfly of the Distant Day

Boys Love, Romance


Preview: Saki, a gifted classical pianist and teacher, takes his younger cousin Riya, an aspiring violinist, to perform at a summer retreat in the Berkshires. But when they get there, Saki is taken aback to find Irving Russell awaiting them; the young British composer and conductor has been put in charge of their concert, as the musical director, Larry Foreman, once Saki’s mentor, is unable to be there this year. And, of course, there is history between Saki and Irving, who dated for two years…but then broke up. The atmosphere in the summer cottage becomes increasingly tense as Saki’s buried feelings for Irving are stirred up and tempers fray over rehearsals. Is it possible that the reserved (he’s British!) Irving still has feelings for Saki too? There’s a concert...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Mon, 5 Sep 2011]

Solanin

Drama


Preview: A child's world is one of reliable laws that define what is meaningful and worthless, success and failure, black and white. In comparison, the adult world, often viewed in youth as the ultimate freedom, is just one grey smear of dilemmas in which nobody can give us definite answers. Meiko learns that when she quits her boring office job. An act intended to liberate her from soul-destroying drudgery, it instead puts her straight into another prison: stuck in perpetuity before daytime drama and computer games. For readers in a similar situation, Solanin will provide great comfort. It surveys life's ironies with a wistfulness and nostalgia that could only come from an author bleeding his memories onto the page. The creator, Inio Asano, came up with the story when he was...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Fri, 5 Aug 2011]

Tanpenshu #2

Drama, Gangster, Psychological, Sci-Fi


Preview: In seven short stories spanning just two volumes, Hiroki Endo's Tanpenshu manages to weave a sprawling tapestry of human experience. After one story leaves us stewing in an emotional cocktail, the next will depict a fresh set of tormented people instantly bleeding out their neuroses from the page. It's thematically ad hoc, sometimes whimsical, but mostly worming its way to the hearts of its characters. Endo's cast is a troubled one, with many characters capable of terrible acts in the commonest sense. 'For Those of Us Who Don't Believe in God' portrays Tajima, a talented theatre director, as he commits domestic violence against his girlfriend, Kogure. Everyone in his troupe knows it but, as happens in real life, ignores his vice in favour of their own more pressing issues. That...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Thu, 28 Jul 2011]

Astro Boy #3

Action, Adventure, Childrens, Sci-Fi, Shonen


Preview: Who is Astro Boy for? Osamu Tezuka, in his day, would have straightforwardly replied 'for children'. But Dark Horse Comics' edition, running to a monumental twenty-three volumes, will have a trickier time navigating the market. The kids of Tezuka's age are all grown up and the kids of today are used to more sophisticated fare. Dark Horse's paperback, with its tiny, kiddie- un friendly script and panels presumably wants to appeal to those craving nostalgia rather than those hunting for an after-school action fix. Some might understandably assume the rudimentary art to be the biggest put-off; it offers Disney-inspired bulbous hands and feet, dinner plate eyes and sparse environmental detail. But Tezuka's style also has a vivacity and expressiveness that lends itself to easy...


Score: 6 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Mon, 27 Jun 2011]

Planetes #4

Drama, Sci-Fi


Preview: In one part of the universe, Hachimaki is soon to become a symbol of enduring human endeavour and signal a new era for mankind. In another part, Fee and the others are on the verge of seeing the Kessler Effect initiate in front of their very eyes due to the ongoing war between the United States and the Republic Space Army, triggering the eventual and inevitable end of the world. Meanwhile, the emotionless genius facilitator Werner Locksmith returns to Earth to meet an old acquaintance at a church. Yukimura brings the ongoing story to a close in this volume and decides to split the storylines into two halves respectively. The first half is devoted to Fee, where she loses faith in humanity upon seeing the US Army inducing the Kessler Effect through the indiscriminate bombing of the...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Fri, 10 Jun 2011]

The Art Of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga

Otaku


Preview: If you know anything about the history of manga and anime, then you should know who Osamu Tezuka was. He may not have been the first Japanese person to draw comics, but no other individual has had such a massive influence on the manga industry. Not only did he produce 170,000 pages in around 700 different manga titles, but he was also responsible for the first modern anime and was hugely influential in making Japan's animation industry what it is today. Despite such claims to fame, Tezuka is somewhat underappreciated in the West, where he is known chiefly as the creator of Astro Boy. He died before the birth of anime fandom in the English speaking world, so in a community obsessed with the latest, newest, shiniest thing, it's perhaps not that surprising. This book serves as a great...


Score: 10 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 8 May 2011]

Tonoharu: Part One #1

Slice of life


Preview: Tonoharu   is a graphical novel covering the story of Daniel Wells, the one and only American in the small town of   Tonoharu. He is an Assistant Language Teacher working at the local rural Japanese school, surrounded by students and teachers who speak very little to no English. The end result is a story that focuses on the difficulties of working in such a place, and ultimately how lonely that can be. Daniel went to   Tonoharu   with high hopes of drastically improving his Japanese language skills, while at the same time having a positive effect on the students he would be teaching. Now with one year spent at the school, Daniel needs to decide on whether to sign up for a second year. This isn't an easy decision as his language skills have not improved, and...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Mon, 2 May 2011]

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Official Casebook #1

Comedy, Detective, Drama, Mystery


Preview: When I was at university, my stress was reduced thanks to my Nintendo DS; it was then that the Phoenix Wright series was introduced to me and I had plenty of fun exploring such a unique and comical storyline which was helped by memorable characters and a solid script. This gives me a perfect chance to review The Phoenix Wright Files – Official Casebook volume 1; review is now in session. The manga is based on the first three games (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Justice for All, and Trials and Tribulations) so if you're expecting this manga to be a sequel or to have cases just like the game, then you are going to be sadly disappointed. Instead it contains short stories and 4-koma panels done by various artists who are fans of the series. The 293 pages that are...


Score: 6 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Tue, 26 Apr 2011]

Planetes #4

Drama, Sci-Fi


Preview: Planetes has provided us with a cast of very different and interesting characters. Though on average the story understandably focuses more upon the protagonist Hachimaki, and his journey to achieve his dreams, this volume is devoted to some of the other key characters. It is a welcome change and addresses some points in the story that could have easily been forgotten about, illustrating the care Yukimura puts into his work. The first couple of chapters focus on two different characters, one old and one new. The first chapter introduces us to a man named Danshaku, nicknamed 'The Baron' by his peers. Wearing a sleeveless denim jumpsuit, whilst sporting a pompadour and glasses, his look evokes the hallmarks of rebellious youngsters of 1950s America, or the punks of the yakuza during...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Fri, 22 Apr 2011]

Planetes #3

Drama, Sci-Fi


Preview: Hachimaki is living the dream. He has successfully entered the expedition team to Jupiter, on the technical marvel that is the Von Braun. The successful completion of the mission should save the human race, make him a hero, and in turn give him a fortune with which to get the spaceship he so wants. It has taken a lot for Hachimaki to get to where he is. As seen in the previous volumes, he kept everything to himself - his fears, anger, pain, loneliness - and used it as the fuel to drive him on to achieve his goals. Now that he has reached this first milestone, that first taste of success and achievement, an almost unexpected feeling pervades his mind: emptiness. His fire and passion seem to have mysteriously disappeared from his body, and starts to question his own significance in this...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Mon, 28 Mar 2011]

Planetes #2

Drama, Sci-Fi


Preview: Love is a curious thing. It is often romanticised as the ultimate goal of humanity; the most wonderful of emotions, allowing pure enlightenment and happiness. It has the power to conquer all fears and any adversity. However, Love also has the power to destroy souls as one endlessly yearns for companionship, never quite attaining it. This dependence on others can therefore be seen as a weakness, a sentiment that Hachimaki agrees upon. A sentiment that Hachimaki is determined not to succumb to, risking it getting in the way of his dream to fly to Jupiter, become a great astronaut and own a spaceship one day. The first chapter of this book shows the power that ambition can have on people, and the consequences of letting ambition dominate your life. Hachimaki seems to be blinded by...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Fri, 4 Mar 2011]

Cardcaptor Sakura #1

Magical Girl, Romance


Preview: CLAMP is a very well known and respected manga group with many adored titles under their belts ever since their debut in 1987. Dating from 1996, Cardcaptor Sakura is arguably one of their most loved works that sadly didn’t get the affection it deserved in the Western market. Not only did Tokyopop’s first translation of the manga meet with a mixed reception (flipping the pages to the Western left-to-right) but the anime was unsympathetically dubbed and severely edited to the point where no anime fan wanted to be associated with it, and neither did religious parents want their children watching the show, saying that the Clow Cards represented tarot cards. Although the manga was re-released in its original right-to-left format and the uncut anime hit shelves in...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 2 Jan 2011]

Not Simple

Drama, Slice of life


Preview: “A story within a story, a book within a book, a tale about the search for family, for an emotional home.” What is the most depressing thing you have ever experienced in your life? Mine would be listening to an Interpol album: all those dark lyrics and moody music going through your ears, it makes you feel bad. That is - until I read Not Simple. It's more than depressing, it's horrific. Story and art are by Natsume Ono whom some of you might recognise from previous manga/anime series such as Ristorante Paradiso and House of Five Leaves. Ono's work seems to concentrate more on older characters and stories set outside of Japan; it's quite refreshing to see a Japanese author not mentioning the land of the rising sun at all. Not Simple is about a boy called Ian who is...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 2 Jan 2011]

Alice in the Country of Hearts - #2 & #3

Adventure, Comedy, Shojo


Preview: Not all is wonderful in Wonderland, but Alice Liddell is slowly growing used to the males having animal ears, falling in love with her, and the sudden changes between night and day. But there are some things she cannot get her head around; life itself is seen as a throwaway, firearms are too easily accessible for her liking and why are clocks so important in this world? Many questions are left answered as Alice goes deeper into 'the game' and further away from home. Compared to the heavy ground that the first volume set down for the story, the following 2 volumes are slightly weaker in terms of exposition. Many of the story elements mentioned in the beginning, such as Wonderland possibly being Alice's creation and the rules of the game she needs to play to go back home, aren't...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 1 Jan 2011]

Planetes #1

Drama, Sci-Fi


Preview: We all have dreams. Some are possible, and some are seemingly impossible. Nonetheless, despite often recognising the futility of it all, some of us pursue them no matter what. The pursuit often leads to small, gradual breakthroughs, and eventually the dream that was once considered unattainable becomes a very achievable reality. You only have to look at history to see the vast progress the human race has made. One of these is in space, with the ability to launch men and machines away from the clutches of the Earth's gravitational pull and into the depths of the universe. We are fascinated by space, and in turn by science fiction. So fascinated, in fact, that we are looking for ways to take over and inhabit it, in order to make the fantasies seen in science fiction a possible reality....


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 18 Dec 2010]

Moyasimon: Tales of Agriculture #2

Slice of life


Preview: Moyasimon   is the tale of   Tadayasu   Sawaki, a new student at Agricultural University and a boy with a special talent. He can see microorganisms, interact with them, and get completely disgusted by how much bacteria people have on and around them. In the first volume of   Moyasimon   we saw   Tadayasu   through his first days at the University, his growing friendship with   Kaoru   Misato   and   Takuma   Kawahama, and the ongoing interest of Professor   Itsuki   in   Tadayasu's   unique ability.  Volume 2 sets the tone with   Misato   and   Kawahama   conducting another madcap experiment. This one has nothing to do with sake production, though. Instead they are...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Wed, 3 Nov 2010]

Bakuman #1

Shonen, Slice of life


Preview: Bakuman   is a   shonen   manga written by Tsugumi   Ohba   (Death Note) focusing on the story of two high school students and their bid to become creators of manga.  Although there are two main characters in this story, the focus is clearly on Moritaka   Mashiro, the artist of the pairing. His uncle had already taken the path of manga artist, but that ended in his eventual death with suspicions around exactly how it happened.  The other protagonist is   Akito   Takagi, the most intelligent boy in class, and someone who is willing to give up studying for a high-paid career in a more traditional area to be a manga writer.   Akito   has spotted   Moritaka's   talent for drawing and decides they would...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Tue, 7 Sep 2010]

Vampire Knight - #9 & #10

Drama, Gothic, Shojo


Preview: It’s very easy to disregard the Vampire Knight manga as nothing more than shojo fluff with some good-looking males - who just happen to be vampires - thrown in. It doesn’t help that the earlier volumes lack plot development, half of the series consists of people standing around talking, there’s plenty of teenage angst to go round, and the premise is borderline stupid (man-eating vampires and delicious humans going to the same school and living in the same building together? Nothing can POSSIBLY go wrong!) But Matsuri Hino, over the course of time, has subtly added themes that make this shojo a bit deeper and darker than some of its competitors once you’ve sunk your teeth into it (pun intended) including vampires that do actually eat and kill humans,...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Tue, 31 Aug 2010]

Black Bird #1

Fantasy, Shojo


Preview: Misao is an unlucky girl; ever since she was young she’s been able to see things that others can’t. Ghosts and demons haunt her everyday life, causing her misery. To make things worse, on her sixteenth birthday, she gets attacked by a demon possessing a human. Just as she thinks it’s all over for her, the handsome Kyo (her childhood friend who's recently moved back into town) saves her life...but it turns out that he’s a demon too! It doesn’t end there though as Misao discovers that she is the one human born every few hundred years that the demons hunt. If demons drink her blood, they gain a long life; if they eat her, they gain eternal youth; or if they make her their bride then their whole clan will thrive, which is what Kyo intends to do! Take...


Score: 3 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Tue, 24 Aug 2010]

Alice in the Country of Hearts #1

Adventure, Comedy, Shojo


Preview: There have been many and varied adaptations of the Lewis Carroll classic; Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The versions spread from film to video games, and the adaptations themselves range from ‘as-close-to-the-original-as-possible’ (like Disney’s attempt back in 1951) to ‘we-take-what-we-like-and-make-our-own’ (such as American McGee’s dark interpretation of Wonderland). We’ve had sequels, prequels, and pretty much all the adaptations any person could ever want. Alice in the Country of Hearts isn’t the first manga adaptation but it’s one of more recent versions currently available on the market. Based upon a Japanese romance adventure game, Alice in the Country of Hearts stars Alice Liddell, a young girl who...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 22 Aug 2010]

Samurai Deeper Kyo #35

Action, Historical, Samurai, Supernatural


Preview: The end is nigh. That's what it says in big letters on the back cover. And indeed it is, as Samaurai Deeper Kyo draws closer to the final volume. It nearly didn't end at all though, as despite having published 34 volumes, Tokyopop decided for whatever reason to drop the series. Fans were faced with being left in limbo with just 4 volumes left of the manga's run to go. Fortunately for the fans, Del Ray came riding into view like a knight in shining armour to rescue the series from oblivion. This is the first of the releases from Del Ray, and it's a bumper volume containing the Japanese volumes 35 and 36. Akimine Kamijyo's Samurai Deeper Kyo is set in an alternate take on feudal Japan which mixes fictional and supernatural elements with events based on real life figures and...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Fri, 30 Jul 2010]

Black Butler #1

Comedy, Supernatural


Preview: In the reign of Queen Victoria, just outside of London, lies the manor of the Phantomhive family, now run by its sole member by the name of Ciel. The Earl himself is a faithful servant to the Queen and owner of London’s most successful toy company, despite only being a small boy. So how does a young man manage to do it all? He thankfully has his ever faithful butler by the name of Sebastian, who can do anything from clean the silverware to vending off intruders, often at the same time. But is there more to Sebastian? And just what is Ciel exactly hiding underneath that eye patch of his?   When starting a new manga series, it’s a rare to a find one that you can honestly say that from volume 1 you’re completely hooked. Generally first chapter in volume...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 17 Jul 2010]

Moyasimon: Tales of Agriculture #1 #1

Slice of life


Preview: Tadayasu Sawaki was born with a very unique talent: he can see and interact with bacteria. To him, each strain of bacteria looks and acts differently, they talk, and he can pick them out of the air. Now he is off to Agricultural University, and both staff and students will call on his unique ability. Tadayasu understandably has a mixed view of his "talent" as it meant strange looks and rejection by others while growing up, but at the same time allowed him to interact and even make friends with these tiny germ characters. His unusual skill has remained a secret from most of the staff and students at Agricultural University, but one professor and his sceptical assistant already know about it, and plan to use it in their ongoing research. During his...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Fri, 2 Jul 2010]

Nighthead Genesis #1

Supernatural


Preview: Nighthead Genesis’ story is over 18 years old; created by George Iida, it first aired as a live action series in Japan during 1992, which later spawned a 24-episode anime series in 2006 and a 4 volume manga in 2007. The manga is, currently, the only form of the story available in the UK and has been adapted by manga artist You Higuri, better known for her work on yaoi based manga. Don’t get too excited over this however, although the 2 male leads look very much like your typical bishōnen types, the story is far from yaoi. Nighthead Genesis stars Naoto and Naoya Kirihara, brothers who both possess psychic powers. During their childhood, fearing their capabilities, their parents sent them away to a research center where the 2 boys remained trapped for over...


Score: 5 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Thu, 24 Jun 2010]

King Of RPGs #1

Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Geek, Parody


Preview: When I was around eight years old, I first got my hands on an RPG and ever since then I've been addicted to them; same goes for collecting rare battle cards, getting my first Warhammer kit, and now watching anime and manga. What King of RPGs does is take all of these activities and merge them into a story - but is this quest worth taking or will it torture you from beginning till end? King of RPGs is written by Jason Thompson who is best known for his work on ' Manga: The Complete Guide' and has edited various English editions of manga like Naruto, One Piece, and Shaman King. The artist is Victor Hao, who gives the art more of a Western manga feel. The story starts off with a quick prologue introducing the main characters. Shesh Maccabee is a hardcore...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Wed, 9 Jun 2010]

Oninagi #1

Action, Comedy, Fan Service, Supernatural


Preview: Nanami Kushimiya is fifteen years old, she's looking forward to starting high school this spring time, and has found out that her junior high love Kazuto Sanjouin is also going to the same school for the next three years. Sounds like your typical romantic comedy opener, doesn't it? Well...until someone wielding a sword suddenly appears, judges her to be a demon, and starts pursuing her all round the town. The swordswomen chasing Nanami is Tomotaka Onigoroshi, a demon slayer dispatched to find out how five people disappeared. When she catches up with Nanami near a park, Tomotaka discovers that the demon is instead a cherry blossom tree. However, while in battle and struggling to defeat the demon, Nanami changes into a different personality and kills the monster in seconds....


Score: 5 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Thu, 3 Jun 2010]

Yokaiden #2

Adventure, Shonen, Supernatural


Preview: Yokaiden is an American comic book drawn in what some would call the “Manga Style”. That fact alone has probably convinced a lot of people reading this review to press the back button and never give Yokaiden any more thought. When one thinks of comic books drawn in the “Manga style” (I will openly state my belief that there's no such thing) they often think of two-bit artists, shamelessly aping the conventions of the media without giving any real consideration to their work on its own merit, using the “Manga Style” as a crutch to get the attention of publishers.That mental image, however, and let it be known that I state the following under no uncertain terms, is something that does not apply to Yokaiden and to dismiss it with such an ill-informed...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 1 May 2010]

Only One Wish

Magical Girl, Shojo


Preview: Make A Wish – If You Dare! ‘It’s easy,’ proclaims the blurb. ‘Just send a text to a certain address and a dark angel will appear and grant you a wish – but only one! You can wish for you crush to fall in love with you, for revenge against those who have wronged you, or even for the dead to be brought back to life. But choose your wish carefully – sometimes a dream come true can be a nightmare!’ Four short stories, each with the linking theme of ‘Only One Wish’ make up this volume. The first deals with the theme of the frailty of friendship – in this case, amongst three schoolgirls. Each story is framed by the appearance of the ‘dark angel’ who here looks just like a schoolgirl witch, complete with...


Score: 6 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Wed, 24 Mar 2010]

Tsubasa Album de Reproductions: Original Art Collection

Fantasy, Shonen


Preview: It will come as no surprise to anyone who has read some of my other reviews that I'm fan of CLAMP’s work (and have been ever since I first came across ‘Cardcaptor Sakura’ years ago on TV.) So this truly gorgeous collection taken from CLAMP’s series ‘Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle’ appealed to me from the instant I saw the cover. Here we have over a hundred pages of full-colour artwork, some (for promotional items, such as telephone cards) never seen before in the UK, as well as some of the splash pages already published in black-and-white in Del Rey’s editions of the manga. So for anyone who’s been following the further adventures of Sakura and Syaoran, this book offers many delightful vignettes of the leading...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 17 Jan 2010]

Maid War Chronicles #1

Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Harem, Shonen


Preview: Maid War Chronicles. The name gives you a surprisingly good idea of what to expect - a classically styled fantasy adventure... except with maids in the starring roles. "War Chronicles" comes from the same Japanese naming convention that gave us Record of Lodoss War, amongst other things, but the only thing that maids are usually on the front line fighting for is the right to themed cafes and more moe than you can handle. You'd be forgiven for assuming that the combination wouldn't work at all, but there's a little more to it than that. The story of a Prince ousted from his throne via a military coup, involving corrupt generals, traitorous Lords and legendary weapons sounds like fantasy story template 8a, but this time the Prince in question is a lecherous child, and his esteemed...


Score: 5 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 26 Dec 2009]

Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle Character Guide 2

Adventure, Fantasy, Shonen


Preview: Time for Tsubasa I’m always excited when a book (usually manga) arrives for review, though of late that excitement has been a little dampened by some of the more recent Del Rey series which haven’t really been my cup of tea. However, imagine my delight to discover a very handsome copy of the ‘Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle Character Guide 2!’ It struck me as singularly well-timed as the manga series by CLAMP has just finished its lengthy run in Japan with Chapitre 232 (although we’re currently awaiting Volume 22 and 23 in translation, due in October/November.) I’ve been following ‘Tsubasa’ and its sister series ‘xxxHOLIC’ since they first appeared from Del Rey in 2004. I adore ‘Cardcaptor Sakura’ – and the...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Wed, 21 Oct 2009]

Parasyte #6

Drama, Sci-Fi


Preview: ATTENTION: Spoilers below! What can I say about this volume of 'Parasyte' other than "page turner"? This volume, I believe, actually has Iwaaki capturing the essence of his story and actually translating that onto paper. Considering the last was, at best a average, and at worst forgettable the sixth volume makes up for this immensely. In previous reviews I wrote about how 'Parasyte' was an evolution of sorts. This volume is certainly the story's coming of age. No longer is it this angst ridden teenager longing for love but rather an adult philosophizing where life went wrong. Volume six is certainly a very dark story evoking from its readers a reaction. The reaction could be a questioning of what your life is about; or perhaps it could be an actual reaction to...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 17 Oct 2009]

Parasyte #5

Drama, Sci-Fi


Preview: Hitoshi Iwaaki continues to impress in this next volume of 'parasyte' by continuing to plunge his protagonist into a series of devilishly drawn out duels with human and Parasyte alike. This volume sees Shinichi have to tackle the problem of an overly curious detective, his relationship with Murano, a new parasyte called Miki who's body, at first glance, seems to contain two other Parasytes but also the puppeteer behind it all: Reiko Tamiya and her continuing study into what makes defines humanity and her cruel and heartless raising of her child. The interesting thing about this volume is that Shinichi is not driven by his angst as he was in previous volumes. Indeed Shinichi seems positively clear about what it is to be human, perhaps because Migi is a constantly demonstrates how...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 12 Jul 2009]

Parasyte #4

Drama, Sci-Fi


Preview: This review will contain spoilers of a salient kind! Do not read any further if you do not wish to know them! This review will contain spoilers of a salient kind! Do not read any further if you do not wish to know them! It feels really good to be coming back, after some time, to review the fourth volume of 'Parasyte'. The ambivalence I feel towards 'Starship Operators' is certainly not shared with this fourth volume but my desire to see both 'Parasyte' and 'Starship Operators' go from strength to strength is something I feel both need to do. The only difference is that 'Parasyte' is actually going from strength to strength whereas 'Starship Operators' is a series that is not. At the helm of 'Parasyte' Hitoshi Iwaaki continues to craft a series...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 28 Jun 2009]

Genshiken Offical Book

Otaku


Preview: Summary ATTENTION HARDCORE GENSHIKEN FANS! Now available for your exclusive pleasure: the ultimate sourcebook for the ultimate fans of the nine-volume, smash hit manga series. The Genshiken Official Book covers virtually every aspect of being an anime fan, from cosplay bare skin rules, the otaku must-have anime, to games, games, games (including fight games and girly games) and how to hunt down the best ones. Negima! creator Ken Akamatsu, who was a fanboy himself as a teenager, reveals how to get the most out of attending Comiket, and Genshiken creator Kio Shimoku provides plenty of his own insight, including his personal guide to manga conventions. So get ready to embark on a fascinating odyssey into the world of Japanese anime/manga fandom. Review If you are a...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 21 Jun 2009]

Negima!? Neo 1: Magister Negi Magi #1

Action, Comedy, Fan Service, Harem, High School, Romance


Preview: Summary Negi Springfield is ten years old...and a powerful wizard! This boy wizard is the greatest prodigy ever to graduate from his magic school in England. After graduation, however, Negi's given an unusual assignment: teach English at an all-girl school in Japan. Now Negi has to find a way to deal with his thirty-one totally gorgeous - and completely overaffectionate - students... without using magic! Based on the Negima! anime, this is a fresh take on the beloved Negima! story. Review A "fresh take on the beloved Negima! story"... really? How many versions of Negima are there now? Yes, there is another rebooted version of Negima, and I'm pretty sure it's happened at least once already to both the anime and the manga. Sadly by now it's a little hard to care...


Score: 5 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Mon, 8 Jun 2009]

Alive: The Final Evolution #6

Horror, Sci-Fi


Preview: Alive: The Final Evolution, from Del Rey, reaches its 6th volume here.  This supernatural/sci-fi series is pitched at age 16+ and so far has been a thrilling read.  Volume 6 continues the story with 4 more chapters.  Taisuke, Yuta, and Nami are still travelling ‘north’.  Katsumata and his motley crew are still hanging out and talking in vague terms about their goal, ‘Acro’s Heart’.  Taisuke’s sister still does very little, except pout.  Overall then, it’s a typical volume. The first half, (i.e. the first 2 chapters), is actually quite poor.  It sees author Tadashi Kawashima struggle to keep the reader up to date with all the characters that he has created.  Almost every character appears in the first...


Score: 6 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 10 May 2009]

Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei #1

Comedy, High School, Satire


Preview: “What if I had died?” Kafuka Fura is a high school girl with a supremely positive attitude to life. So when, as she’s walking to school through the cherry blossoms, she comes across a man trying to hang himself, her first action is to stop him. He’s not best pleased, especially as her optimistic view of the world makes it impossible to understand his despairing state of mind. “What if I had died?” he demands. “You didn’t really want to die,” she comes back at him, brimming with confidence. “You were trying to be taller.” So imagine her surprise (and his) when the two (‘who should not have met’) meet again in Class 2-F where Nozomu Itoshiki (Mr. Despair) announces himself as her new homeroom teacher. The...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 26 Apr 2009]

Alive: The Final Evolution #5

Horror, Sci-Fi


Preview: Chapters #16 – #19 of Alive: The Final Evolution are presented here in volume #5.  Thus far, Del Rey’s supernatural/sci-fi series has had its highs and lows.  It is not very original, and its post-apocalyptic setting and characters with supernatural powers (called “comrades”) are reminiscent of countless other series.  But despite its flaws, it is usually a rewarding and engaging read for the slightly more mature manga fan. The last volume ended with a gripping cliffhanger and I’m sure most readers would have been on tenterhooks to see how it would be resolved.  Fat otaku Okada showed just how nasty and heartless he is, and caused a major headache for protagonist Taisuke and his chums.  And so the first chapter here, called...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Wed, 15 Apr 2009]

Alive: The Final Evolution #4

Horror, Sci-Fi


Preview: After reading the first three volumes of Alive, it quickly threatened to become one of my favourite mangas. The third volume in particular was really compelling and I couldn't wait to get my hands on this, the fourth instalment. I was looking forward to finding out what would happen to Taisuke and Yuta, two evolved humans ('comrades') with special powers. They're travelling north, searching for Taisuke's former-friend-turned-enemy Hiro, and ultimately they're searching for answers. This volume gets off to a surprising and inauspicious start with the introduction of a talking owl. Yes, this is a sci-fi series so the rules are out of the window, but a talking owl just didn't do it for me. Thus far, Alive has been a serious and bleak tale, dealing with themes of death, and the...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 4 Apr 2009]

Parasyte #3

Drama, Sci-Fi


Preview: 'Parasyte' is now in its third volume. This volume covers Shinichi's exploits with regards to who he is attached to by the red string of love but also this volume is an attempt by author Hitoshi Iwaaki to create a device by which he can juxtapose Shinichi's humanity against that of a real Parasyte. The introduction of Shimada as this device allows Iwaaki the ability to take the series' central trope, that of defining what exactly is humanity, and the addition of Shinichi's two love-interests and his reaction to Shimada's killings later on allows this central trope to be adequately developed in this volume. The first and second volume was crafted with, what I called, “sustained drama”. Unfortunately this volume does have its highs and lows here in terms of what it...


Score: 6 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Thu, 12 Mar 2009]

My Heavenly Hockey Club #7

Comedy, High School


Preview: A new volume of Ai Morinaga’s wickedly funny manga is always something to look forward to and this one is no exception. High-school girl Hana has only two main loves in life: sleeping and eating. In the first volume she became an unwilling member of her high school hockey club whose members use the club as an excuse to travel to different places and sample the local food. There may have been the odd hockey match since then (and odd is probably the only word to describe the kind of hockey that this team play) but for the five bishonen members of this unorthodox group, competing in matches comes pretty low down their list of priorities. There have also been hints of a developing relationship between Hana and Izumi, the group’s leader, but this being the work of...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Thu, 19 Feb 2009]

07-Ghost #1

Action, Fantasy, Shojo, Shonen, Supernatural


Preview: Every once in a while, a new manga series comes along which stands out from the crowd. ‘07-Ghost’ by Yuki Amemiya and Yukino Ichihara is one of those rare beasts that grabs the heart and mind from the very first pages and carries the reader along at breakneck speed. ‘07-Ghost’ tells the story of orphan Teito Klein who is a promising cadet at the elite Barsburg Empire Military Academy where the students are preparing for their final examination. Ostracized by his peers (he was a slave before he entered the academy) his only friend is his room-mate, the cheerful and loyal Mikage. Teito is troubled by fleeting dreams of his early life, but can remember nothing of who he is or where he came from – until the day he accidentally discovers a terrible secret...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 14 Feb 2009]

Parasyte #2

Drama, Sci-Fi


Preview: This volume of 'Parasyte' is an extremely harrowing read. It is a territory not explored by myself in the medium of manga or anime because of its extremely, not only dramatic but, chilling story arc where the story was taken up a notch by Hitoshi Iwaaki. This volume is not the usual fair in terms of the usual 'run of the mill' action-drama manga. Iwaaki has crafted a manga that is the essence of dramatic. So much praise! Why? In the last review I gave the previous volume an eight for Iwaaki's clear demonstration for his penchant for writing dramatic and, reasonably, action-packed adventures. This volume takes that foundation and throws a spanner in the works: Iwaaki kills Shinichi's Mother and makes her a Parasyte. This may seem inane of me to highlight this point and make it the...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 18 Jan 2009]

Alive: The Final Evolution #3

Horror, Sci-Fi


Preview: ‘You can choose to be barely alive.  Or you can choose a definite death.  So….don’t make a wrong choice.’  This is the sombre advice given to the protagonist of this story, Taisuke.  After surviving the ‘suicide virus’, he was left with a supernatural power.  And he’s not the only one.  These people are evolved humans, and they call each other ‘comrades’.  Taisuke’s childhood chum, Hirose, is another comrade.  But he kidnapped the lovely Megumi and headed north, with the sinister Katsumata and other comrades. Alive has now comfortably settled into a plot arc.  Taisuke and his new friend Yuta are travelling north, looking for Hirose and the bad guys.  In this volume they...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 10 Jan 2009]

Alive: The Final Evolution #2

Horror, Sci-Fi


Preview: When we left Taisuke at the end of Volume 1, he had a hole in his stomach and had just survived a fall off the top of a building.  He wakes from a 3 day coma and ponders to himself, ‘Any normal human would normally be in pain…’  But he is not in pain, and his wounds have healed.  In this volume, he’s got to come to terms with the fact that he is no ordinary human anymore.  He is a ‘comrade’ amongst others.  Certain humans have apparently ‘evolved’ and developed unnatural powers, including his childhood buddy Hirose. The second instalment of this sci-fi series, with a bit of horror and mystery thrown in, builds on the promise shown in the aimless volume 1.  It's an improvement in almost every way....


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 4 Jan 2009]

Alive: The Final Evolution #1

Horror, Sci-Fi


Preview: It became known as “Nightmare Week”.  A pandemic of global suicides suddenly hit planet Earth, apparently caused by some new kind of “suicide virus”.  This coincided with a host of other strange events, including murders and people going missing, and just possibly, a new evolution of the human race.  Tokyo resident Taisuke Kanou witnesses it all before his very eyes, and we follow him as he tries to find meaning in a new era for humankind. Welcome to the world of Alive: The Final Evolution, written by Tadashi Kawashima and drawn by newcomer Adachitoka.  With a mix of sci-fi, horror, mature themes, and philosophy, it’s aimed squarely at older teens and above.  Its long chapters (e.g. just 3 in this approximately 190 page...


Score: 5 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 20 Dec 2008]

Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo #1

Period Drama, Sci-Fi


Preview: “To those of you who betrayed me, who stole everything from me, I will give death and despair unto death.” Alexandre Dumas’s classic tale of betrayal and revenge ,‘The Count of Monte Cristo’, is still as powerful today as it was when it was first published in 1844. Countless adaptations have been made since then – and one of the most striking is ‘Gankutsuou’ which sets the story in a science-fictional re-imagining of Dumas’s nineteenth century France. All the more intriguing then, that Mahiro Maeda should choose to reinterpret his anime version in manga form with Yuri Ariwara, who prefaces the first volume with the words, “We’ve worked for a year to bring you a slightly different perspective on the anime.”...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 6 Dec 2008]

Parasyte #1

Drama, Sci-Fi


Preview:  'Parasyte' is a reasonably well realised synthesis of drama, action and philosophy. Hitoshi Iwaaki's story follows the journey of protagonist Shinichi as he deals with the problem that will change his life forever: The Parasyte Migi. The two protagonists are brought together by chance when Migi, trying to invade Shinichi's mind and take it over fails, resorts to taking over Shinichi's hand. The two then merge creating the a dual protagonist: two persons in one body. Shinichi and Migi get involved many predicaments precipitated by the two's agglomeration as Migi's alien race is the very antithesis of humanity; very mechanical, logical beings, governed by their instincts and needs rather than by any duty to others or morality.   The great thing about this manga is...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Mon, 1 Dec 2008]

Papillon #1

High School, Romance, Shojo


Preview: "I'm tired of living like this. I wish I could escape...and just fly off to a better place." Twins – especially identical twins – have been a favourite subject for authors from Shakespeare’s time to the present day. And there are plenty of identical twins in manga, affording the mangaka the ideal opportunity for misunderstandings, mistaken identities and complications galore. ‘Papillon’, the new shojo series from Miwa Ueda, centres on the plight of shy high school girl Ageha, whose twin sister Hana is popular, outward-going, and gorgeous to look at. Separated when they were babies, Ageha was sent to live in the country with her grandmother while Hana stayed in the city with their parents. When her grandmother became unwell, Ageha returned to...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Fri, 17 Oct 2008]

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE #14

Adventure, Fantasy


Preview: Volume 14 of Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE continues to follow the trials and tribulations of a group of 4 dimension travelling friends.  They were thrown together way back in Volume 1, each with their own personal reason for travelling through the dimensions, but all united in a quest to recover Princess Sakura’s feathers.  This CLAMP manga began as a fairly light-hearted fantasy tale, but now in its 100th chapter, it has become a more dark and complicated saga. This volume sees our heroes heading to a large public library, in order to check out a book.  Seems like a fairly ordinary chore, but of course, this is no ordinary library, and it’s no ordinary book.  The library is filled with magic, and guarded by some huge, devouring beasts.  And the...


Score: 7 out of 10

[Read full review]

[Reviewed: Sun, 28 Sep 2008]

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE #10

Adventure, Fantasy


Preview: On the back of this volume are written the words “Time Will Tell” and it is a very fitting phrase for this manga. Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE follows the adventures of four friends (Syaoran, Princess Sakura, Fai, and Kurogane) as they travel through time and space in search of Sakura’s memories, manifesting as feathers.  The consequences of time travel are an important theme in this volume, hence the “Time Will Tell” phrase.  This is the 10th volume of the CLAMP-drawn series. And because this is the 10th volume, some knowledge of the preceding 9 volumes is required.  In fact, the first few chapters will make no sense to anyone who hasn’t already ready volume 9.  For those fans that have read volume 9, the first chapters...


Score: 7 out of 10

[Read full review]

[Reviewed: Sun, 21 Sep 2008]

Death Note #13

Drama, Psychological, Shonen


Preview: 'Death Note' reached its conclusion in volume twelve's battle royale of wits. Concluding with the death of the Kira volume twelve after a fantastic final showdown and that demonstrated just how great the 'Death Note' saga actually is. However have you ever wondered what Ohba was trying to say by introducing one element or another? Perhaps you wondered what inspired the design of a certain character within 'Death Note'? Well, 'Death Note: How to Read' is the book to refer too.   Indeed with the book's in-depth interview with 'Death Note' creator Tsugumi Ohba and, the artist who created the distinctively Gothic aesthetic, Takeshi Obata, an examination of the characters, chapter titles and having an unrivalled access to Ohba who sheds light on many of the complexities of the...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Thu, 18 Sep 2008]

Negima! #1

Comedy, Fan Service, Harem, High School, Romance


Preview: It’s that time of year again. Thousands of children graduating from school and moving on to see what life has in store. Although at this Welsh school, things are a bit different. With the ceremony over it’s time for the students to find out what fate has planned. And for our lucky protaganist he’s managed to bag himself a job as an English teach in Japan. Not too shabby for a 10 year old. Welcome to the life of Magister Negi Magi! or to you and me, Negima! Negima! Is the latest manga series from acclaimed manga-ka Ken Akamatsu (of Love Hina fame). It’s focused on Negi, the 10 year old wizard who has somehow ended up in Japan teaching to a class of cute Japanese School girls.  Over the course of Volume 1 we follow Negi as he begins to adjust to...


Score: 7 out of 10

[Read full review]

[Reviewed: Sat, 13 Sep 2008]

xxxHolic #9

Fantasy, Supernatural


Preview: CLAMP’s xxxHolic continues here, with the ninth instalment of the popular supernatural fantasy tale.  Watanuki is now intrinsically linked to his perceived rival, Dômeki, via a shared right eye.  It sometimes allows the latter to see what the former sees.  More specifically, it happens when Watanuki sees spirits and visions.  But when our protagonist is not seeing such things, he is usually working to pay off his debt to Yūko, or, he is spending time with the relentlessly cute Himawari. The first few chapters are all about dreams.  It’s a new year in xxxHolic-land, and so everyone is talking about their first dreams of the new year, which are sometimes thought to be prophetic.  But somehow, Watanuki manages to inadvertently...


Score: 7 out of 10

[Read full review]

[Reviewed: Sat, 6 Sep 2008]

Death Note #12

Drama, Psychological, Shonen


Preview: 'Death Note' enters its twelfth, and final, volume as if it were a chess game nearing its own conclusion with everything in the balance. This volume pits the two geniuses against each other in a match that will decide the outcome for human morality. Perhaps the fate of the world in their hands. In many ways this volume is one of the greatest volumes of manga in the history of the genre. This is because, instead of the usual fare, it is a really challenging moral dilemma that is summarised nicely in the last exchange by Light and Near. 'Death Note' deserves this recognition because of this dilemma being posed throughout the whole series. Volume twelve is where the dilemma is summarised and is dealt with in a style only 'Death Note' could manage. This style is also why it is one of...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Thu, 4 Sep 2008]

Death Note #11

Drama, Psychological, Shonen


Preview: ‘Death Note’ enters its eleventh, and penultimate, volume of the chess like game being played out between Light and Near. In the world of ‘Death Note’ society believes Light, now the new L, and Near, the successor to the first L although this title is highly contested by Mello, are jousting for the position of the white king.   However the reader, as well as Light and Near, knows that Near and Light are hard at battle on opposite sides of the chess board. This volume concentrates on how both protagonists are on the different sides of the chess board. One fighting for ‘justice’, the other fighting for ‘justice’.   ‘Death Note’ is nearing its conclusion so consequently this volume is a stepping stone...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 31 Aug 2008]

Lupin III #1

Action, Adventure, Comedy, Crime, Gangster


Preview: Lupin III is one of the longest running anime franchises in Japan. Spanning over forty years with three TV series, yearly television specials and a series of feature films with Studio Ghibli's Hayao Miyazaki heading the highly regarded The Castle of Cagliostro. It revolves around Arsene Lupin III and his gang of thieves as they are pursued by the resourceful Inspector Zenigata who's goal in life if to throw Lupin behind bars. This is where it all began. For me as a fan of the Lupin III anime franchise I was interested in reading the manga to find out how the character started out and how he was presented all the way back in the sixties. I was surprised to see how drastically different Lupin was to the greedy yet likable thief I'm used to watching. Make no mistake about it, here...


Score: 6 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Thu, 28 Aug 2008]

Yotsuba&! - Volumes 1 - 5

Comedy, Slice of life


Preview: Yotsuba&! chronicles the life of Yotsuba Koiwai, a five year old girl that has just moved to a new neighbourhood with her father, who is simply called Mr Koiwai. We follow Yotsuba as she meets the neighbours, goes swimming, buys food and gets influenced by TV shows. Sounds a bit like Big Brother right? While a premise like that could have easily fallen flat, Kiyohiko Azuma (Creator of the widely popular manga, Azumanga Daioh) has moulded a character that turns these inane activities and non stories into a pure joy to read. Yotsuba has an almost unstoppable energy and carefree naivety that makes her stand out from other female manga and anime characters around the same age. I don't think I could name many that weren't depicted as being just shy little girls. Rather than shy away...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 24 Aug 2008]

xxxHolic - Volumes #7 and #8

Fantasy, Supernatural


Preview: When Watanuki opens Volume #7 with the line “It’s looking like good things will happen today!”, well, you just know he’s going to get into a spot of bother. Our protagonist Watanuki still works at the shop owned by the “Dimension Witch”, Yūko.  She granted his wish way back in Volume #1, and working at the shop is his payment.  This leaves High School student Watanuki with very little free time, but whenever possible he tries to get close to the impossibly cute Himawari.  She’s blissfully ignorant of his feelings, though, and they are often joined by their classmate, the austere Dōmeki. So do good things happen to Watanuki in these volumes?  Well, no, because losing the sight in one’s right eye is...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 27 Jul 2008]

Death Note #1

Drama, Psychological, Shonen


Preview: 'Death Note' (デスンート) is the story of Light Yagami and his quest to create a better and more just society for humanity than is being offered by Japanese society and those other societies around the world. So when he picks up a note book, The Death Note, he believes himself capable of instilling a perfect form of justice in which criminals cannot get away with their heinous crimes. In this volume the reader is presented with a story in which Light is getting used to the Death Note and the many functions it can, and cannot, perform. The reader is also introduced the context in which Light is actually living e.g. family, him being a bored student and also the amount of crimes being committed and not being 'dealt' with effectively. Death Note is an...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sun, 27 Jul 2008]

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE #8

Adventure, Fantasy


Preview: The 8th volume of this fantasy story from CLAMP continues to follow Princess Sakura (of Cardcaptor Sakura fame) as she travels across multiple dimensions in search of her lost feathers.  No ordinary feathers, however, they contain powerful magic and fragments of her own lost memories.  It would be a lonely journey without travelling companions, and she is joined by her childhood friend Syaoran, strong warrior Kurogane, and playful Fai. Conveniently, we begin the volume with our heroes entering a new world.  It’s a jungle world inhabited by large, talking, rabbits.  But don’t get too comfortable because within three short and uninteresting chapters, the gang enter the jungle, find a feather, and then take off again.  The standard Tsubasa formula...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Thu, 17 Jul 2008]

Claymore #3

Action, Horror, Supernatural, Thriller


Preview: ‘Claymore’ volume three is basically Yagi coming back into form. This volume begins to really unravel Claire’s past whilst simultaneously setting up her future. The conclusion to the long and drawn out story arc contained within ‘Darkness in Paradise’ ends also in good form with the last scene (seven scenes in all) really sealing Raki’s position on his feelings for Claire. The conclusion also leads nicely into the rest of this volume’s content contained within the four scene ‘Teresa of the Faint Smile’.   ‘Teresa of the Faint Smile’ tells the story of how Claire is initially discovered before becoming a Claymore and it is very emotional and very good read. The story not only acknowledges the emotions behind...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Mon, 7 Jul 2008]

xxxHolic #4

Fantasy, Supernatural


Preview: Throughout the multitude of different worlds and dimensions, she is known by many names, such as ‘The Dimension Witch’ or ‘The Far Eastern Witch.’  But in this gothic fantasy story from CLAMP, she goes by the name Yūko Ichihara. She is a dimension-manipulating, wish-granting sorceress, dealing in all things supernatural from her esoteric shop in Tokyo.  She will grant a wish for her customers, but she will take something in return.  One such customer was Kimihiro Watanuki, who requested to be free from the spirits that were constantly following and troubling him.  He got his wish; but in return, he has to work at Yūko’s shop.  xxxHolic follows Watanuki and his job, and the many supernatural episodes that take place in...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Thu, 3 Jul 2008]

Claymore #2

Action, Horror, Supernatural, Thriller


Preview: Following on from the death of Elena and Raki becoming Claire’s cook they both travel to Rabona which is a holy city where there is a huge religious community. A Yoma is present here however holy and Claire, who herself is part Yoma and therefore unholy, must work undercover to expose and destroy the Yoma.   Norihiro Yagi’s trump card here, to differentiate the plot from the same basic formula as volume one, is to disable Claire’s abilities to sense the Yoma facilitating a need to find the Yoma “the Old fashioned way”, i.e. by searching.   In this sense Yagi creates a reasonably good foundation for chronicling the first five dark scenes of “Darkness in Paradise”. His ability to create a dark and repressive atmosphere is...


Score: 5 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Mon, 30 Jun 2008]

Nana - Volumes 1 & 2

Drama, Romance, Shojo


Preview: Ai Yazawa’s seminal shojo (for girls) manga Nana tells the story of two young women on the cusp of life’s realities. While superficially polar-opposites in style and attitude both find one another through an act of fate and set out on their journey as a duo, united by not only by their name but also by a common desire to break free of prior circumstances and carve out a new life for themselves. Volume one dedicates itself to providing a detailed prologue of its two protagonists and their various associates. The first half considers Nana Komatsu, a slightly dippy girl-next-door type who is relentlessly cheery, prone to falling in love and is wholly dependent on her nearest and dearest. She’s later dubbed ‘Hachi’ by Nana O because of her puppy-like...


Score: 8 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Thu, 26 Jun 2008]

Claymore #1

Action, Horror, Supernatural, Thriller


Preview: Norihiro Yagi’s ‘Claymore’ ( クレイモア ) is a dark and brooding story chronicling the journey of Claire, a Claymore (a half-breed of Human and Yoma), through her miserable job of destroying Yoma, devious creatures who morph into humans and proceed, resolutely, to start slowly feasting on a habitation’s population.   This manga is a good springboard for Yagi to develop the reader’s understanding of the motivations of the empty Claire and whilst this emphasis is really this manga’s greatest strength; it's also its greatest weakness.   Claire, the protagonist, is a ‘Strong and Silent’ type and Yagi does well to avoid spawning the same type of mistake that becomes of D in The...


Score: 7 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Tue, 24 Jun 2008]

Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE - Volumes 4-5

Adventure, Fantasy


Preview: In a place resembling Europe circa 1900, there lies a village named ‘Spirit.’ The children of the village are going missing without a trace, and terrified villagers swear it is the return of a 300 year old legend, concerning the child-snatching ‘Princess with the Locks of Gold.’ The four heroes of this time-and-dimension travelling fantasy saga, (Princess Sakura, the resolute Syaoran, amiable Fai and surly Kurogane) are warned not to go anywhere near the village. So what do they do? They head there as quickly as possible! But of course they must; if they are to have any hope of retrieving another of Sakura’s feathers (fragments of her memories and soul, capable of producing powerful and dangerous magic when placed in the wrong hands). Volume 4...


Score: 6 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Sat, 21 Jun 2008]

MPD Psycho - Volumes 1 - 4

Crime, Drama, Psychological, Supernatural, Thriller


Preview: MPD Psycho’s protagonist Kazuhiko Amamiya and his multiple personality disorder – with one personality indeed being a bit of psycho – proves to be a blessing and curse for new readers. In one sense it opens the plot up to a new degree of sophistication and, perhaps more importantly, creates a unique sense of danger. Almost immediately we learn that our leading man is equally as capable of the horror committed by those he looks to stop. This alone sets MPD Psycho apart from many other supernatural thriller series and offers a tense, unpredictable drama unmatched by its peers. Eiji Otsuka, its writer, has become an acclaimed writer in the supernatural genre and his achievements here justify every bit of it. The curse of this complexity, of course, is that you...


Score: 9 out of 10

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[Reviewed: Mon, 19 May 2008]

Fairy Tail #1

Adventure, Fantasy, Shonen


Preview: Spanking new from Del Rey comes ‘Fairy Tale’, the eagerly anticipated new manga by Hiro Mashima ( www.delreymanga.com ) . Mashima is already known in the west as the mangaka of ‘Rave Master’ an extraordinary off-the-wall shonen fantasy adventure, crammed full of weird characters and just the right mix of comedy and danger. Getting such a volatile cocktail of manga ingredients right is a tricky matter and there have been countless series that have failed to pull it off (no names mentioned here!) However, having devoured the first volume, I’m delighted to report that ‘Fairy Tale’ is a fun read, genuinely funny, and brimming with promise for the adventures to come. It should be a winner, especially for fans of Eiichiro Oda’s classic pirate...


Score: 8 out of 10

[Read full review]

[Reviewed: Mon, 12 May 2008]

The Enigma of Amigara Fault

Horror, Psychological


Preview: Halloween is fast approaching and it’s time to indulge in some frightful Japanese horror. Sadly, it’s not a genre that translates well to anime and manga, but having recently discovered the abnormal works of manga-ka Junji Ito, there may well be hope for us yet. This time I’m talking about the claustrophobic “Enigma of Amigara Fault”; a remarkable 30-page short that has abducted my thoughts since falling victim to its spell last night. The ambiguous story begins as an earthquake scythes open the titular Amigara Fault; a gigantic rock riddled with human shaped caves. Nervous people from all over Japan are inexplicably drawn to the landmark, haunted by nightmares and convinced they have recognized individual caverns that perfectly match their own unique...


Score: 8 out of 10

[Read full review]

[Reviewed: Tue, 30 Oct 2007]

Editorial Spotlight

This book and indeed this review are rather timely, as Yen Press has recently announced that will be publishing more light novels. This can only be a good move, as now we will.. Read more (0 comments)
A few weeks ago two French manga critics, Matthieu Pinon and Laurent Lefebvre, launched a project on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter. The project is called 1952-2012:.. Read more (0 comments)
At the heart of Eureka Seven AO is the story of a half-alien boy, Ao Fukai, abandoned at the age of two, trying to find and save his mother. Ao, at thirteen, is now flying his.. Read more (0 comments)

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