Title: Hanako to Guuwa no Tera Author: Esuno Sakae Release: Monthly Status: Finished Genre: Shonen, Supernatural Art: B Originality: S Story: B Characters: B Humor: B Action: B
Impression: This is about a man known as the folklore detective who takes care of these urban legends known as allegories that come to life and threaten the peaceful lives of everyday ordinary people that have the misfortune to conjure them up. This series was created by the same guy who made Mirai Nikki and you can see that he has a penchant for coming up deranged characters. By that I don’t mean the main characters(though they do have their quirks) but rather the everyday “ordinary” people who are troubled by allegories. About half of said side characters will seem unsettling either because of their appearance, their behavior or both. The guy also manages to fit in some high octane nightmare fuel in here, the end of the fishmen arc in particular managed to shake me as much as Junji Ito’s Uzumaki snail people did. The ideas the guy put into this one were really interesting and the build-up had a lot of potential but the plot just went off the rails and crashed in the last few chapters. A shame really cause I really would have liked to see more of this series in spite of how interesting Mirai Nikki is.
Title: Miman Renai Author: Takashima Hiromi Release: Monthly Status: Ongoing Genre: Seinen, Romance, Slice of Life, Comedy Art: A Originality: A Story: B Characters: B Humor: B Action: B
Impression: This about a 29 year old eroge programmer who’s never been in a relationship who one day finally has one of cupid’s arrow hit him square in the heart. The twist that the object of his affection happens to be a highly naïve and sheltered young middle school girl who mistook him for a blind date that her friend set her up with. The hilarity that ensues center around his awkward attempts at impressing her and raising her opinion of him so that she’d come to like him more. Admittedly, this is a pretty creepy setup here but the way he goes about acting on this puppy love of his makes this series quite amusing. It’s hard not to like the guy when he the things he does are overly innocent for a guy his age and that he doesn’t get crushed along the way. It’s an unusually charming series that I hope does NOT inspire lolicons to try and do the same. It’s one thing to see it happen in ink but for it to happen in real life is just disturbing.
Title: Esoragoto Author: Usi Release: Monthly Status: Ongoing Genre: Shonen, Sci-Fi Art: A Originality: A Story: B Characters: B Humor: B Action: C
Impression: This is the story of a boy who gets caught up in an inter-dimensional breach and meets this girl from another dimension who has come to fix it. She’s all thumbs when it comes to technology and ends up maiming the equipment mission control gave her so she has to depend on the guy’s camera since it’s capable of recording what takes place in the parallel dimension where the trouble is coming from. What sets this series apart is obviously the fact that it comes in fully colored pages so we get to see how vibrant the worlds and events in this series are. It reminds me quite a bit of FLCL with the setup they’ve got going except it’s a lot less screwier with this series. It’s also paced pretty damn slow for a monthly publication and I guess the full color pages may have something to do with that but it could seriously stand to pick up speed soon.
Yesterday, I went off to watch what I’m hoping is the definite final movie in the Toy Story franchise because I’m not sure how I’d feel about another sequel after having seen such a fitting finale. I wasn’t actually planning to see it since I didn’t feel quite as strongly about the series as a whole some of my friends did. The first full CG movie released more than a decade ago may have been very impressive but the me at the time didn’t comprehend how impressive it was so my fondness for the first and the second movies weren’t quite as high as they were for movies involving Godzilla and Batman. Even now I feel that the plots of the first two were pretty simple and mediocre so I don’t feel the least bit compelled to watch them again on the Disney channel. However, when it comes to Toy Story 3, I do feel the urge to watch it again.
Toy Story 3 takes place more or less a decade after the last film so Andy has mostly forgotten about his old playmates who we see are still trying to gain the attention of their owner by whatever means they can use. However, after their latest attempt, Woody decides to call it quits after failing yet again to get Andy to play with them. The fact that Andy’s going off to college in the next few days also factors into his decision for them to stop and wait till he puts them all up in the attic. They decide to go along with that but just as Andy goes and does that, a misunderstanding occurs that gets all the toys except for Woody tossed out onto the curb which leads them to their decision to be donated to daycare centre where they can be played with instead of gathering dust at home.
As I’ve mentioned before, I was one of those kids who watched the first two as a kid and am now transitioning into the university phase of my education so there was a bit of nostalgia working its magic on me while I was watching but that only really kicked in during the final scenes which by the was some pretty strong stuff. The rest of the movie had to rely on the direction and story though. Thankfully, they were pretty strong too so I enjoyed myself a lot. There director played a lot with quite a few tropes and delivered loads of great jokes that wouldn’t have been quite as funny if he played them straight. Ken in particular wouldn’t been quite as good a character if he was played straight either.
My favorite bits, much like everyone else, were the Spanish Buzz scenes. Normal and Deluded Buzz were great at action scenes but Spanish Buzz brought a whole new level of fun to his character. If you haven’t seen the movie yet then let me just say Spanish Buzz is more than a good enough reason to fork over the ticket fee. Obviously, they decided to use bits of the original plotline for the third movie Disney came up with and I’m glad they did. The original plot was supposed to involve a recall of all Buzz Lightyear toys back to Taiwan and it would have included a scene where Buzz would be facing off with knock-offs of himself but for better or worse they went with the Andy going to college plot. After watching the movie I decided that it was for the better but I still lament upon the loss of the knock-off scene. Now that think about it, my enthusiasm for the third installment was severely dampened after hearing about the change in plot.
What really surprised me though was how much darker they made the movie in comparison to the first two. I mean this was aimed at both kids and the now grown up kids who watched the original so I was expecting something more of the same kids movie but the themes they touched upon in the movie were quite a bit more mature than what one would expect to see in a kids film. I’d also like to add that they handled them a lot better than most movies too, so much so that it made the climax and the conclusion so incredibly powerful that I actually thought for a second there that Pixar were really going to go with a downer ending. However, that was only for an instant as I immediately wondered where the LGM’s buggered off to. My question was answered one perfectly drawn out scene later. What followed after was the conclusion and I have to admit that my eyes got a little watery watching how much the toys meant to Andy. The look on his face when it came down to Woody who he was planning to bring with him to college was the ultimate pay-off in the movie after all that build up involving growing up and parting ways. I dare say I heard some sniffles coming from the back row at that moment and I must say that they were perfectly justified at that moment.
So in summary it was a magnificent film that I would not hesitate to say that it even surpassed WALL-E which I thought was downright brilliant. My advice is to watch the movie while it’s still on the silver screen rather than on Blu-ray, especially if your local cinema support 3D screenings. Pixar has outdone itself yet again people.
Title: Cabonard Crown Author: Shinonome Mizuo Release: Monthly Status: Ongoing Genre: Shoujo, Yuri Art: A Originality: B Story: B Characters: B Humor: B Action: C
Impression: This is about a young girl who gets selected to help guide a family of foreign royalty around this private island academy they’ve just transferred to due to family matters and now the school and these royals must adapt to this unusual development. The main character interacts with the various members of the Spinel royal family and develop friendships with the ones who are closest to her age group and… Well I can’t really describe this one properly. Personally I think the premise is something right out of a girl’s dreamy fantasy. I don’t like that. Not one bit. It reminds me too much of Twilight sans the ridiculous shiny vampires and barely hidden sexual urges found throughout that series. It’s got a Mary Sue character, her love interest is a very angsty and cold princess, the scenes feel OVERLY melodramatic and story progress is annoyingly slow. I wouldn’t be reading this sort of story if it wasn’t a yuri manga and even then there’s far too little actual yuri to balance out the downsides. This manga irritates me, that’s all there is to it.
I'm back from visiting the new plot of land that my grandpa got back from the government and surprisingly enough it's located no less than a good half minute sprint away from the Sultan's new oil rig. I went with expecting to have a good time playing with my new knife while picking fruits from one of his orchards but it seems that my little sister misconstrued what my mom said and had in turn misinformed about what we would be doing there.
Came with a sheath
Sigh... I really wanted to see how much more easily I could branches and fruits ala Zantetsuken with this one. And yes, with a fruit knife. I can go all Ryogi Shiki on your ass with a mere fruit knife. My Kendo training has engraved in me a key understanding in how to properly deliver a cut and slice through the head, wrist and bellies of my imaginary enemy. I've simply applied what I learned from that to fruit knives. Hopefully I'll get to try it out with an actual combat knife and a Katana in the future.
New knife. Also a fruit knife but no sheath.
A very nice fruit knife...
At any rate, it's a lot easier to slice through things than my old one but I really wanted to see how much farther I could take it in terms of severing organic material. Oh well. Hopefully I'll find an opportunity to try it out sometime soon. Here's a pic of a spot near the land. It was a picture perfect kind of scene but the camera we brought wouldn't let us take pictures because the battery was too low. And no, it's not what you think. I mean the camera wouldn't let us take pictures even though it was still on. What the hell were were the designers thinking when they put that function in? That's why all you get of the scene is this low quality pic from my phone.
It was B-E-A-Utiful
P.s. That leaving a new form bit in the title refers to the new contact form I left on my profile page. If you want to reach me privately, just go to my About Me page.
Added the 10 songs I wanted to last time and I now have 25 more triple reviews left to separate into single ones. Enjoy the new songs while I endure the tedious process I am about to partake in again. I hope get through at least 5 of them today. Yes, I'm still not done doing that and they are that troublesome to separate.
Brave Song by Aoi Tada (Angel Beats)
My Soul, Your Beats by Lia (Angel Beats)
Shine Days by Girls Dead Monster (Angel Beats)
Watashi ni Dekiru Koto by Megumi Nakajima (Kobato)
Tsukiakari no Michishirube by Steropony (Darker Than Black Ryuusei no Gemini)
Yokan by Heidi (Kaichou wa Maid-sama)
Hajimari no Kaze by Ayaka Hirahara (Saiunkoku Monogatari)
Working on new buttons for the site. If all things go well you're looking at the new menubar. Also, I'm adding buttons back to the full manga review list to all the reviews and have replaced the oneshot symbol in the manga review index. Didn't like the color.
Title: Kimi wa Boku no Toriko Nare Author: Tsuzuki Setsuri Release: Monthly Status: Ongoing Genre: Shoujo, Romance Art: B Originality: B Story: B Characters: B Humor: B Action: B
Impression: This is about the bastard son of some multi-millionaire who comes back to the family’s house because his father, the family head, has designated him as the heir to the family’s conglomerate along with most the fortune that comes with it. He has been assigned a seemingly brash, clumsy and awkward maid to be around him but in reality, the maid happens to be a world class assassin hired to be his bodyguard. It starts off interestingly enough with a premise and main characters that showed off quite a bit of potential but as you get through each chapter, the execution and the thought that goes into the scenes seem to dwindle away bit by bit. Sure the ideas are interesting but the way that the author inserts them into the story leaves much to be desired. The style is also obviously Shoujo but the premise is very much Shonen and that gets in the way of the reading experience more often than it could have. I’ve only read the first seven chapters though but I don’t think it’s premature of me to call this a quirky series that suffering from uninspired writing.
Title: Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou Author: Asahinano Hitoshi Release: Monthly Status: Finished Genre: Slice of Life, Adventure, Sci-Fi Art: B Originality: A Story: S+ Characters: S Humor: B Action: B
Impression: This is the story of a robot named Alpha who runs a coffee shop in a future earth where much of the world’s landmass has become submerged due to the rising sea levels and human civilization has more or less regressed to the level of the mid 20th century’s. Despite the seemingly post apocalyptic setting that the world has become, this series focuses on the daily life of Alpha and the people around her. We see them living out their lives in this strange new world that the author presents to us and that’s all there is to it. There’s no overarching plotline, no ultimate goals, no hidden agendas or even meaning behind what happens in the story. Despite how lackluster and pointless that may make this manga sound, this series proves itself to a brilliant piece that manages to evoke the very same sentiments of its characters in the readers themselves. Whether it’s fascination, melancholy or even nostalgia, this series will, more often than not, creep up on you and play with your heartstrings in ways that very few series would even aspire to. More than anything, this series will make you feel the passage of time and the inevitability of changes around you and that's what makes this series so incredibly poignant. Know that this is coming from someone whose emotions are rarely ever swayed by anything at all and that anything capable of doing so deserves a look at. It is in my opinion the prime example of what the “Slice of Life” genre really is and how even the most bland idea can be spun into something amazing. However, if you still won’t take my word on this, I would suggest that you give this a read and see if you can stop yourself from continuing any further.
Title: Ebisu-san and Hotei-san Author: Kizuki Akira, Satou Nanki Release: Monthly Status: Finished Genre: Yuri, Slice of Life Art: A Originality: A Story: A Characters: A Humor: B Action: B
Impression: This is the story of two women who after having made bad impressions on each other become coworkers some time after their first meeting. One puts on an outwardly cold, serious and reserved demeanor while the other does just the opposite with her cheery, flippant and outgoing personality. The eponymous characters gradually develop a rather unconventional relationship over time with the more extroverted one slowly coming to terms with the fact that her sentiments towards the other had unknowingly gone from outright resentment to begrudging affection and then finally, genuine love for her. Basically it’s a yuri story between a Kuudere and a traditional Tsundere. It’s a got a quite a bit more depth than the usual plotline that most yuri manga go by and that elevates it’s quality a level above the usual fare. It’s a yuri manga where the build-up strays away from the usual conventions most authors of this genre abide by but the pay-off is all the better for it.
As most of you in the interweb's community of manga readers have probably heard, Mangahelpers is stepping down from its position as a place for scanlators to come together and share their and is now going back to its original roots as a hub for translators. That means all the manga files in their database are no longer available for download, both the Raws and the scanlations. What does this mean? It means the scanlating game is going to go through some changes soon.
Before I get into the implications of this even let me address what set all this in motion. You see, a few days ago, manga publishers of both East and West announced that they have banded together and formed a coalition designed to eliminate the piracy being perpetrated by the scanlating community. There have been similar attempts at this in the past but this time we not only have the American publishers in on it but also the original Japanese publishers who until recently have restricted their actions to within their own borders. We're talking about major players in the industry cracking down on online scanlation sites, starting with 30 undisclosed sites.
Supposedly, this crackdown is primarily aimed at taking down the sites that charge money in exchange for access to scans but it would overly optimistic for us to assume that sites like Onemanga, Mangafox and Mangatraders wouldn't be targeted as well. It seems that the cease and desist letters haven't been sent yet so most of the scanlating community will be carrying on as usual until they do. Mangahelpers on the other hand however, decided that this was the time to pull a Crunchyroll with the scanlating in general by closing its doors on scanlators and opening new ones to the authors themselves with OpenManga.
To put it simply, OpenManga will try to get authors' permission to host and translate their series online through their service so fans from around the world finally have a legal source of translated manga. According to the owners in this explanation, there may or may not be a price to pay for access to said series. In either case, we still get readily available and legal manga online.
Now let's focus on the question at hand; will this work? To be honest, I have major doubts about this. As much as one can try to idealize and justify the actions of the scanlating community, manga is a business and scanlating undermines that business. This latest move on the publishers' part is not meant to support the spread of manga around the world but rather to take back control of what was supposed to have been their domain in the first place. I really can't see those same publishers supporting the rise of a movement that threatens to take whatever remaining control they have left in the distribution of their products. Fact is, regardless of whether or not the authors jump on this new bandwagon, the rights to the series being published actually belong to the publishing company and not the creators. Without support from the publishers, OpenManga won't have the established series or authors needed for this to work.
Of course there is the possibility that authors would see OpenManga as a way for them publish new works without the restraints imposed upon them by usual conventions within the publishing companies there to get in their way. That also means there is considerable potential for some very fresh and original ideas to see the light of day through the site. However, in exchange for that there is the matter of actual profit rolling into the author's laps. Whatever revenue they would generate would be rather meager as the bulk of the money mangaka make come from the sales of the compiled volumes so unless OpenManga can somehow get publishers to cooperate or come up with a way to distribute the actual money makers with reasonable profit margins, there would be very little incentive for authors to publish and maintain their publications on OpenManga.
Then there is the matter of what comes after the success or failure of the site. If this succeeds we will be looking at a schism in the online community as the issue of "legal vs. free" will rear its ugly head in full force. At that point in the game, the "unavailable" excuse won't be as effective as it is now and people will be pointing fingers at each other over the "ethics" of their practice. OpenManga's success could also lead to a monopoly war over the online distribution as its success will no doubt lead to the rise of similar services aiming to take the top dog's seat in distribution.
Should it fail however, it will mean that the entire online community of manga fans will either have to fall back on more obscure and painstaking methods of getting their fix or depend on the replacement services that will pop up after the old places are gone. I anticipate a general decline in interest in manga as a storytelling medium with the distribution being slowed down by the removal of the readily available sources. This will lead to a gradual drop in profits generated through overseas sales and the slackening of anti-scanlating efforts with it. In other words, failure means we'll be going through cycles of dark and golden ages should both sides of the conflict continue to fail at meeting somewhere in the middle.
Personally, I'm hoping that OpenManga manages to pull this off. It will take a lot of cooperation from the fans and the authors to make this work should the publishers refuse to acknowledge it as a viable way of business for them. For this to even get off the ground, they'll need to publicise their service as much as possible. And I don't mean just in Japan but worldwide as well. There are plenty of aspiring authors out there looking for a chance at making it in the business and even the smallest contribution would help out this movement. Nay-saying these guys won't help make the transition to legal scans any easier so I would suggest to all manga lovers out there to help out however they can. This is something we change, that's why we need to make our move as well.
Title: Nijigahara Holograph Author: Asano Inio Release: Monthly Status: Finished Genre: Seinen, Psychological, Mystery, Fantasy Art: A Originality: S+ Story: S+ Characters: S Humor: B Action: A
Impression: This story is set around a field in a small town, several characters who knew each other in the past and the mysterious incidents that connect them all. To put that into perspective, this is “Lost” in manga format sans the island, the polar bears, the magnificent bastard Ben and the sudden genre shifts. That being said, it’s just as confusing as “Lost” if not even more confusing than that TV series. There lies a discrepancy in the confusion however. By that I mean the delivery as the mind screwiness only really hits you right at the end of this manga guaranteeing at least another re-read. The story is told in anarchic order so we get to see how the much the characters have changed over time and it is this unique storytelling method that makes what would have been a straightforward and dull story a unique and intricate tale instead. There isn't even really proper conclusion for the events in the story but all the plot points involving the various characters and their connections are resolved by the end of the book. No doubt his best story to date and given the guy’s track record, that’s not an easy feat. Believe me when I say these following words:
This stands nowhere near good nor has it landed anywhere great but this story, however tragically short it may be, has not only reached the realms of storytelling mastery but sits there comfortably on its throne. This is Asano Inio's Masterpiece!
An acquaintance recently brought this interesting widget to my attention and while I have seen similar ones, I have to say this one is pretty impressive. I've tried a number of handles and names on this thing and the results are both consistent and varied. Whoever made this put in a lot of effort to get it to work this way so it's worth checking out. All you have to do is enter your name and click the button. The link is at the bottom of the post so you know where to click. Try not to get jealous just because I have some pretty good names.
Leecher Handle - Yui of Angel Beats, July 18th 2012
Scanlator Handle - Akiyama Mio of K-On!, February 20th 2013
Real Name - Kaname Chidori of Fullmetal Panic, September 13th 2011