Title: Shiki Author: Ono Fuyumi, Fujisaki Ryuu Release: Monthly Status: Ongoing Genre: Supernatural, Mystery, Horror Art: S+ Originality: A Story: S Characters: A Humor: B Action: S
Impression: This is a manga adaptation of novel about a village that’s way out in the country that suddenly finds itself plagued by a series of mysterious deaths that pop up at a daily rate. The story focuses on how the villagers are affected by these deaths and their attempts at overcoming the unusual situation they find themselves in. Though only a select few in the village actually manage to grasp at the truth behind these deaths, most of the villagers already suspect the strange new reclusive flamboyant family that has taken up residence in the equally ostentatious western styled castle-mansion found at the top of a hill in their area. Of course they’re right on the money about this as they really are… vampires! I really don’t consider that to be much of a spoiler though, the hints are far too obvious for anyone miss this so anyone who didn’t see that coming at all should be very ashamed of themselves. As the story itself encompasses the villagers rather than any one character, you don’t really see anyone that truly qualifies as the main character. There are a few characters that are more prominent than others in the manga but that’s mostly because their personalities and actions make them stand out amongst the huge cast of colorful personalities featured inside. This allows for an intensely gripping storytelling style that’s imbued with plenty of suspense and a dark ominous atmosphere of mystery(despite how obvious it is what’s really going on). It plays out like a quiet horror movie that you just can’t help but keep on watching. You just get pulled into the whole thing and can’t stop yourself from until you get to the very end. I absolutely recommend this even if you aren’t into any of the genres it falls under but not until you can get your hands on everything from start to finish as the suspense just eats away at your sanity.
Title: Hiiragi Shougakkou Renai Kurabu Author: Azuma Yuki Release: Monthly Status: Ongoing Genre: Seinen, Psychological, Slice of Life Art: A Originality: A Story: A Characters: A Humor: B Action: B
Impression: This is an interesting series about elementary school girls who are curious about the instances of romance they see around the in their lives. One especially curious little girl decides to take the initiative with her love life and sets out to establish a love research club in preparation for her future encounters with romance so she’ll know what to do when she runs into the. It’s basically Kodomo no Jikan, the safe for work version, and it comes with better drawings too. Don’t let the clean crisp cutesy drawing style fool you though, the girls in this manga are quite perceptive for their age and they bring up some of the more complex workings that come with romances. What’s more, it doesn’t just delve into the lighter side of such relationships but also the darker aspects of human courtship and mating. This is not the seemingly innocent slice of life manga that the first few chapters would have you believe with the unassuming antics the characters get up to but is actually a series that focuses on the perception of love that kids today are liable to take on. It’s got some very well thought up characters and a surprising level of depth that makes it quite the fascinating read.
Title: Tenbin wa Hana to Asobu Author: Unohana Tsukasa Release: Monthly Status: Complete Genre: Yuri, Gender Bender Art: B Originality: B Story: B Characters: A Humor: B Action: B
Impression: This story takes place in an all girls academy that this bubbly and energetic airhead transfers into and centers on the budding relationship between her and another girl who is outwardly graceful and soft-spoken in the eyes of their peers. Their involvement with one another kicks off when the transfer student comes across the other girl in the middle of drinking blood straight from the neck of their school doctor. Not only does she immediately agree to go along with their request keep things under wraps, she even goes as far to offer her help with the other girl’s vampire syndrome whenever she needs it. As with most Yuri series, the two main characters share a lot of fluff scenes with one another but it should be noted that only one of them really seems to be concerned with the intimacy of their actions while the other plays up her airheadedness adding a bit more charm to their relationship. I would also like to add that the transferee does have some traits of Mary Sue considering how the plot is set up but I also find that it doesn’t really take away any enjoyment from a lighthearted series like this. It’s not what I’d call a high quality Yuri manga but it does make for a decent read so it’s worth checking out. As for why this series falls under the gender bender category, it’s because the vampire syndrome mentioned in this story works by having the affected person living as neither male nor female until they reach the age of 18 and turn into the gender they’ve drunk more blood from. I am fairly certain that’s a fictional condition by the way since I have enough confidence in my knowledge of biology to say that hormones don’t work that way.
Title: B Gata H Kei Author: Yoko Sanri Release: Weekly Status: Ongoing Genre: Romance, Comedy, Ecchi, Slice of Life Art: B Originality: A Story: B Characters: A Humor: A Action: B
Impression: This is a 4koma manga about a perverted high school beauty whose aim is to get 100 fuck buddies while she’s there. Her schoolmates consider her to be one of those girls who has her way with guys and can get laid whenever she wants to but in reality she’s an inexperienced virgin who is overly(an understatement) eager when it comes to any topic of the sexual nature and despite having such an abnormal obsession about such matters, she’s too “maidenly” to follow through on her attempts and keeps messing things up with the average Joe she’s interested in. A refreshingly hilarious and over the top series about a girl who actively tries to land in her catch only to keep having something get in the way of actually fornicating with the guy who actually holds mutual feelings towards her. Though there are some rather risqué topics and events in the manga, the drawings themselves are rarely ever explicit and the erotic content always gets played for laugh making this surprisingly safe for work. It’s basically on the same level as one of those dirty jokes you throw around with your colleagues though I can’t really say the same of the anime which shows the scenes in better detail and has the main character voiced by the super talented Tamura Yukari. Still, manga or anime, B Gata H Kei is a great series to follow.
Title: Zennou no Noa: The World of Memories Author: Ono Youichiro Release: Monthly Status: Finished Genre: Mystery, Sci-Fi Art: B Originality: A Story: A Characters: B Humor: B Action: A
Impression: Two years prior to when the story takes place, a mysterious incident occurred in Tokyo that caused over a million of its residents to suffer amnesia and lose memories of who they were before the entire event. Those who have lost their memories because of such are now living in an underground city beneath Tokyo called the Tokyo Geofront and are called KID’z due to the childlike nature of the majority of the victim. One such victim is the protagonist, Ikurumi Noa who stands out among them for having an abnormally high level of intelligence even after losing his memories. One day he finds himself involved in a chase after a suspected arrest only to find out a bombshell of a revelation about his former self – he was the one that caused the memory loss incident. Once that happens, we learn more and more about the character and how he’s not all that he appears to be even before he learnt of this vital piece of information. Being an expy of Lelouch, he goes and outsmarts the officials with over the top and unbelievably shrewd plans using his wits and gadgets to come out on top. It’s not just him, the entire setting and flow feels like it was ripped straight out of the second season of the hit series and retooled as another story. I basically see this as a cross between Code Geass and Flashforward with its main character being Lelouch without his Geass and the Blackout-like incident that started it all. Another similarity it shares with the American tv series is the fact it seems to have been cut short at a paltry three volumes despite having a formula that could easily make it a very popular series with a fanbase that would have shared many members with that of the Code Geass fanbase had it gone further. Definitely worth checking out if you liked either of those series.
Title: Kyousou no Simulacra Author: Yoshimura Hideaki Release: Monthly Status: Ongoing Genre: Shonen, Sci-Fi Art: A Originality: A Story: A Characters: A Humor: B Action: B
Impression: This is about a guy who got adopted years ago and after having bonded with his new little sister, he had broken his promise to her and left her to die in some unfortunate incident. Now, years later during his search for his adoptive older brother he comes across a girl who claims to be his dead adoptive sister and finds himself caught up in a deadly tournament between the dolls said brother created to bring back their sister. Initially, the story’s premise felt way too generic for me to get interested in and the first few chapters made me think that the mangaka was going to keep up with the usual tropes and develop the plot and characters in the most predictable of ways. However, that soon changed when the older brother stepped into the scene and the death tournaments became the side plot for an even more interesting main plot that brought in a lot more factors into the plot. The characters don’t stay stuck with their debut personalities either and develop depth surprisingly quickly too so every chapter since then doesn’t waste any time to move things forward and that’s good to see. I also like the bits of madness thrown into the fighting scenes and the characters too. Personally, I feel any manga that has an antagonist that can throw a Rocket Punch is a good one. This goes under my list of recommendations so I would suggest you go check it out. Additionally, Simulacra is an actual word and is latin for “likeness” or “similarity” which clears up a couple of things since the scanlators didn’t explain what it referred to.
Title: SWOT Author: Sugita Naoya Release: Weekly Status: Ongoing Genre: Shonen Art: A Originality: C Story: C Characters: C Humor: B Action: A
Impression: Another one of the latest rookie Jump series, one that’s going for the beat up all the delinquents storyline with an extremely hotheaded UFO-crazed lead whose dream is to one day work for NASA and the only way he’ll get to do that is if he’s the cream of the crop in terms of academics and gets into the University of Tokyo. The title SWOT refers to people who only seem to live to study and get good grades and that’s what this guy is supposed to be but his bad temper and astonishing strength gets him pulled into a lot of trouble with the punks in his school. I certainly like the fiery spirit this manga has but I hate how shoddy the characterization and the premise are. The guy is supposed to be super smart given his background but he somehow fails a test in a school with half of the student body being delinquents simply because he didn’t study for it. That compounded with the fact that he only transferred into said school because of an obviously misleading flyer makes his character one hell of a wallbanger itself. The other characters aren’t too bad but it can’t be good when it comes down to one supposedly brainy character holding the idiot ball for the plot to move forward. It’s rare to see a manga with this much spirit in it but it won’t go very far without the creativity to match it. I honestly can’t predict whether or not this series will make it past the 10 chapter trial period given the odd discrepancy in taste between the locals and the overseas but I doubt this series is going to deliver much unless it gives up the delinquent thing and go straight into battling aliens somewhere down the line. Now that I think about it, it would be interesting to see a Sci-Fi Shonen Battle manga series involving aliens.
Vampires suck. Not just the movie's name but also both an opinion as well as a fact. However, unlike Friedberg and Seltzer, I really don't feel the urge to explain how that joke works. Knowing just exactly what kind of quality these guys churn out, I would have just waited maybe a year from now to watch it on one of the movie channels but somehow fate threw it my way and I gave it a shot today. The fact that I happen to think vampires are actually the creepy motherfuckers that they are instead of zombie sex gods that the media are out to market them as may have also added the extra motivation I needed to spend 75 minutes of my time to watch it.
The movie is basically a spoof of the Twilight series covering what I think was the first, second and last bit of the third book. I should probably blame TvTropes for knowing how much they were spoofing there and the Twilight series itself for only having so much plot to make fun of. For a more in depth synopsis on what the movie is like, go watch the trailers for the corresponding films of the books.
Let's start with what we've come to expect from the movies that these two notorious directors are known for. A shallow parody with every joke that's been filled with jokes they probably found over the internet as well as excessive and unfunny Take Thats at celebrities. That's what you're expecting with this movie and that's exactly what I saw. However, it seems that two have learnt a little since their last picture and have cut down on the unfunny business. There's still enough making fun of the Jonas Brothers, Lady Gaga and other various icons to make you want to groan but they actually throw a some new twists to the long stale jokes they've put in. There were a couple of scenes that worked pretty well too. Though not exactly funny, I really cringed at how painful it looked during the self defense scene with Becca and her dad.
I actually have to give them some credit for the jokes(Edward: You guys are always trying to eat the girls I bring over! It's so unfair!)that actually made me laugh and the improved pacing that the movie had compared to their previous stuff. The flow was a lot more consistent and there was a good deal of foreshadowing in spite of the triviality of whatever they hinted at. I didn't think those guys even knew how to pull a Chekov's gun on us. I would definitely say that this was one of their better movies and was enjoyable enough to watch for its own merits. Not quite enough to pay movie tickets for but enough to watch with friends when you don't have to pay for it. They still suck at ending things though. They always seem to save the most out of place and anticlimactic jokes for last.
Title: Paradox Blue Author: Nakanishi Tatsurou, Nini Release: Monthly Status: Ongoing Genre: Mystery, Fantasy Art: B Originality: A Story: B Characters: B Humor: B Action: B
Impression: This is an interesting new series we’ve got here. It seems to be a monthly manga adaptation that’s set in an alternate world where the human race has been plagued by these supernatural beings they call angels that appear before them to ask them riddles that will determine their fate. A correct answer will have the angel reward them with a miracle of some sort but failure to answer correctly in time will bring a disastrous catastrophe down on everyone in the nearby area. The story seems to revolve around a student council of some private school and their encounters with the angels. The thing that makes this series stand out is the fact that the 4th wall is completely torn down to encourage the readers into thinking more about the riddles the angels pose to them. At first I thought it was because this was the adaptation of some visual novel but it turns out it’s a manga original and that it’s going for something like R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books. Basically this manga is Evangelion x Seitokai no Ichizon x Goosebumps x Umineko no Naku Koro Ni and it looks to be an interesting read. I’m really looking forward to the last boss’ confrontation cause Izanamiel looks like she’s going to be an interesting opponent for the kids to deal with.
Title: Metallica Metalluca Author: Mizuno Teruaki Release: Weekly Status: Ongoing Genre: Shonen, Adventure Art: B Originality: A Story: B Characters: B Humor: B Action: B
Impression: This new Jump series is set in a wondrous new world where special metals with magical properties exist in addition to the known metals in our own reality. The main character is a kid from a mythical tribe of legend that has been said to possess this miraculous ability that allows them to mold any metal freely with their bare hands and he’s on a journey to become a great minea just like his father. Cliched plotlines and overdone character archetypes aside, this is one of those series that’s just bound to last. The demographics this manga is aiming clearly are the kids with its strange new world and mine ’em all approach and its proving to be a pretty good draw with all these interesting metals that author comes up with. There’s a lot that the mangaka can set up during its build-up chapters and use later on when the plot gets more interesting. If done right this could even rival One Piece when it comes to the creativity that gets fed into either manga though it will take quite a bit of work for it to match up all other aspects. This in my opinion is the most promising rookie series in jump out of all the new series they’ve been trying out lately. That’s not exactly a hard thing to do given how underwhelming most of them have been but unlike those, this series knows exactly where to bank its money in.
Title: Lock On! Author: Tsuchida Kenta Release: Weekly Status: Finished Genre: Shonen Art: B Originality: C Story: C Characters: C Humor: C Action: C
Impression: This about a prodigious teenage photographer with an eye-patch who aims to achieve the highest levels of photography through snapping shots of people. One particular girl caught his eye and now all he wants to do is take pictures of the violent man-hating tsundere who has him pegged for a pervert. That’s the story from start to finish really. There were a couple of friends who got their time in the limelight but their stories were only just marginally better than the main characters themselves. That’s not a compliment towards the side characters by the way. The main characters were just horribly and annoyingly flat. Neither the story nor characters really evolve beyond their initial appearance as whatever character depth shown was shallow at best and redundant at worst. It reads like an overly extended oneshot and the author just couldn’t come up with anything new or interesting to add to the mix. Just where was this story going exactly? Who knows but I wished that they had axed it sooner. Jump must be in dire straits for new talent if they keep serializing new works that just end up getting axed within the first three volumes.
Title: Lollipop Unlimited Author: IMUSANJU Release: Monthly Status: Ongoing Genre: Shonen, Comedy Art: B Originality: B Story: C Characters: C Humor: C Action: C
Impression: This story is set in a world where being a maid has become a celebrated sport earning tons of money simply by doing a job that would otherwise pay them much, much, much, much more modestly. It revolves around this twin-tailed girl who, in spite of already being a top class maid herself, aims to be as just as perfect as her borderline-mythical idol. She even goes as far as to search for the very same uniform that her idol wore only to one day discover that her goal was much nearer than she expected it to be. All this would lead one to think this as a potentially ROFLMAO-level over the top comedy manga on the same level as the Legend of Koizumi or Seto no Hanayome with its setup that panders to those on the moe otaku side of the spectrum of manga fans. Well, anyone who would believe it to be such a manga must not have read it yet or is so obsessed with maids that they’d have to be hopelessly drawn in by that appeal. It is actually a series that tries to be hilariously silly with its premise and still play its shonen plot completely straight making it difficult to enjoy without wanting to slap something at some point. The fact that both factors get in each other’s ways and that neither were actually all that great to begin with marks this done as a case of subpar execution on the author’s part as I really think something like this could have been done so much better. In fact, if this series were a bit better my only gripe would be that there is a distinct lack of yuri in a series that tries to appeal to the male audience.
Title: Hana no Namae Author: Saitou Ken Release: Monthly Status: Finished Genre: Shoujo, Romance Art: A Originality: A Story: S Characters: S Humor: B Action: B
Impression: This beautiful story is about a girl who is staying with an antisocial novelist relative of hers after the death of her parents and the hospitalization of her grandfather. When she first came over to the guy’s house, she was even more despondent than he was so he told her to do chores around the house and that included taking of the barren garden. After two years of living there, the garden now flourished and the girl herself had overcome her grief and was now living her life happily. Over time the two had become smitten with each other and the author’s affection for her led him to publish a tragic romance story based on their lives. I really, really like this story. Unlike most of the shoujo romance manga I’ve read, this one chooses to focus on the fragility of the characters and their hesitation to act out on their feelings. This series manages to convey the powerful emotions that the main characters feel through every little action they do making it easy to get swept up in the ambience shared between them. My only complaint is that it reached its climax a volume too early and tried to end it with another attempt at showcasing their love for one another. It’s still a good scene by any other manga’s standard but the one in volume 3 easily trumps it by a long shot. I absolutely have to recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good story and that goes double for anyone who loves their romances. Trust me on this, this definitely qualifies as a must read.
Title: Cloth Road Author: Okama, Hideyuki Kurata Release: Monthly Status: Ongoing Genre: Seinen, Sci-fi, Adventure Art: S Originality: S Story: B Characters: A Humor: B Action: B
Impression: This is set in a world where fashion, of all things, has been turned into a gladiator-like sport where the fighters where these high tech clothes sewn with threads made of nanotech material. This story follows two long lost twin siblings who meet each other as the brother’s mentor falls ill and he now has to find a way get the money they need through the fashion battles. It falls upon the sister to use the clothes that the brother designs to win a match and get the money and though he is reluctant at first, he decides go through with it and save his mentor. I’ll give this a lot points for its amazing setting and the unique characters but it does take its time in moving the plot in favor of focusing on the details rather than moving the plot. I won’t say that’s a bad thing but I would have given the action an A score if it didn’t take half a year’s worth of chapters to get started on the adventure bits and the main plotline. I get that this story is meant to be very character-centric and the authors have done an excellent job with everyone here but there’s a lot of potential right there in the world the story’s set in and I’m not just talking about the fashion fights but the actual world too. However, in spite of the slow moving story, it’s still a very promising manga that’s really worth checking out.
Title: Amnesia Labyrinth Author: Tanigawa Nagaru, Natsumi Kohane Release: Monthly Status: Ongoing Genre: Mystery, Psychological, Supernatural, Slice of Life Art: B Originality: B Story: A Characters: A Humor: B Action: B
Impression: This is about the young heir of an infamously influential family who after two years of boarding school has returned to his family’s hometown and his three sisters whom he had left behind for certain reasons. All three have their various circumstances and roles in their family but all three hold affection for the main character that go far beyond the norm that sisters usually have for their older brothers. What’s more, a string of mysterious deaths have been going on in his hometown during the summer that just passed and he is dragged into investigating the suspected murders by an energetic ponytailed classmate with a talent for gathering information. This series is written by Tanigawa Nagaru of the Haruhi light novels and it demonstrates his skill with writing up interesting characters as well as cementing the fact that he has ponytail fetish. Compared to his most celebrated work though, Amnesia Labyrinth has yet to prove its mettle with its story, humor and originality. Characters are definitely set up for some interesting developments but as far as I can tell, this heading down towards a split-personality thing ala Tsukihime with the supernatural elements toned down a bit. Morality and taboos appear to be the main motifs behind this series but the slice of life elements kind of get in the way of that. However, I’m willing to bet all the lighter moments are there to be twisted into something much darker and more twisted than what’s been shown so far. It’s really just matter of waiting for new chapters to see how good this will turn out so I’m hoping that the author doesn’t get writer’s block like he did with the 10th Haruhi novel.
Title: Jabber Wocky Author: Hisa Masato Release: Monthly Status: Finished Genre: Fantasy, Seinen, Mystery Art: S+ Originality: S Story: A Characters: A Humor: B Action: S
Impression: This is about a femme fatale from the UK who gets dispatched to take care of a little theft problem regarding a royal artifact in Russia but there’s more to this scene than meets the eye. Turns out that the artifact in question holds a secret conspiracy about a race of beings that have descended down from the thought to be extinct Dinosaurs. They secretly coexist with the human race in small numbers having been given roles and territory for their service to the leaders of the world. Ambushed by this surprise, she looks to have been sent on a suicide mission when an unexpected ally shows up to help her – a multi-pistol totting humanoid longcoat wearing Oviraptor called Sabata with a penchant for classy lines. Yeah, he’s just that awesome. It’s set in probably either the 18th or the 19th century and done in film style noir giving it an incredibly dramatic feel. The characters themselves are very interesting and provide even more class to the already huge degree that the art contributes to the series. They have the many quirks about them that show us what they’re made off but it’s the little interactions they make that make you realize just how interesting these personalities are. Sure the style it’s done in can be very confusing and it takes a while to get used to it but it really provides a very unique reading experience for anyone that chooses to give it a shot. Trust me on this though, it is a very interesting read.
Title: Yankee-kun to Megane-chan Author: Yoshikawa Miki Release: Weekly Status: Ongoing Genre: Shonen, Slice of Life, Comedy Art: B Originality: B Story: B Characters: A Humor: A Action: B
Impression: This is about a delinquent who gets roped into helping a four-eyed idiot of girl study up for a test by repeated being harassed by said girl while he’s on the can. He eventually does give in and later finds out she’s been asking for his help so she could help someone else. This forms the basis of the relationship between the pair and leads them to both becoming more involved and respected by their schoolmates as they go on to doing the usual stuff for this kind of story. In my opinion, the manga starts off to rocky start with the repetitive slapstick comedy and obvious twists and turns in the clichéd plotlines that the author chose to go with but the story does eventually grow out of the dull routine it was going with and moved into more amusing territories – i.e. the four-eyed idiot runs for student council president and wins. Since then, the jokes and characterization have been pretty good for most part and the manga consistently stays fun and energetic. It does have its fair share of action and hot bloodedness too with all the hooligans thrown in there but I do find it somewhat lacking in terms of those heartwarming and tearjerking moments. I can understand avoiding the latter to avoid a mood whiplash but I feel that all the instances of the former have been superficial since they usually show up for the side characters instead of any of the main ones hence the lack of impact. It is a however does make a good read to pass the time so go ahead and check it out if you haven’t yet.