Title: Variante Author: Sugimoto Iqura Release: Monthly Status: Complete Genre: Seinen, Sci-Fi, Horror Art: B Originality: B Story: B Characters: A Humor: B Action: B
Impression: This is about a girl who wakes up on a hospital bed one night after having gone through a very traumatic experience just a few days before only to find that she did not come out of it quite the same. The arm attached to her left shoulder is no longer her own as it’s been replaced by a mutated, semi-sentient shape-shifting one that’s capable of fighting off grotesquely deformed monsters whose. The girl faces an uncertain future in the care of a mysterious organization responsible for quietly taking care of these monsters where and whenever they show up as she can only prove herself valuable to them in two ways: eliminating the monsters so they can retrieve samples or she gives up and becomes a sample herself – a living sample. Despite that Shonen-esque premise there, this is definitely a Seinen title as the girl does not get a break and has to face the horrors of her new life as nearly everyone around her regards her as a monster. I don’t have any gripes about this series really. The premise, story, scenes and characterization worked together satisfactorily and I can’t find any significant contradictions here but it never goes beyond what I expected it to be. The realism thrown into the story certainly helped maintain its quality throughout the four volumes that were published but it also restricted it in what could be done. It’s a decent series but you’re not going to get anything you can’t find in any other manga of this kind of plot.
Title: Baba Yaga Author: Kizuki Akira, Satou Nanki Release: Quarterly Status: Ongoing Genre: Seinen, Psychological, Mystery, Yuri Art: A Originality: A Story: A Characters: A Humor: A Action: B
Impression: Baba Yaga is the story of a few kids who all went to a camp together and experienced their own life-changing events while they were there. These events are all linked to the mysterious disappearance of a young woman who was there at the camp with them and each of these kids grew up to be the way they are as young adults because of what they experienced then. It features a whole slew of messed-up characters and a mystique that borders on the supernatural but so far stays grounded in reality with a much more convoluted and twisted truth behind both the events and the way the characters treat them and each other. It’s quite a fascinating read really as the layered story and depth of the characters just pulls you right into the twisted little world that the authors have portrayed here. Not one to be missed for fans of either of these mangaka as I find it to be their best collaboration yet. Only real downside to this manga is the slow release rate of new chapters but it's excusable as it seems they put that time to good use here in this series.
Title: Taboo Tatoo Author: Shinjirou Release: Monthly Status: Ongoing Genre: Seinen, Fantasy Art: A Originality: A Story: A Characters: S Humor: A Action: A
Impression: This is a relatively new monthly manga that has my hopes high up there. It’s about these secret magical tattoos that grant their bearers unbelievable powers and nations all over the world are vying over for them, maintaining the illusion of normalcy only to have someone passing a good number of these out to random bystanders in Japan. One such bystander happens to be the main character of the series, a hot-blooded young man with a strong sense of justice and the martial arts skills to back up his ideals and he just happened to receive a particularly special tattoo from the man who gave it to him. Not knowing what he had been dragged into, a female American agent of a seemingly similar age to him fills him in on the situation, beating the crap out of while doing so. Throw in a megalomaniacal princess brutally overthrowing her parents and effectively becoming the dictator of the country these tattoos originate from and you get a very well done manga. The first chapter did follow a rather predictable formula that has become common enough nowadays for these sort of stories but the manga quickly cut to the chase and dives right into the action, trick-shooting off all sorts of tropes at rapid fire at a pace that was not only invigorating but also accommodated the story, characters and the premise satisfyingly well. It’s rare to see a series that manages to maintain such a fast pace without compromising its quality much less one with characters with such strong personalities. That female agent could very well be THE poster girl for the Little Miss Badass trope with her being an eternally adolescent secret agent with CQC skills along with a super power. Heck, she even pulls off a Badass Longcoat trope from time to time. Basically, if you like your manga with superpowers, amazing fights and great characters then this is the manga for you. Somewhere down the line, I expect that they will adapt this into an amazing anime series but I imagine half a decade will have gone by before this even gets to a point where it’ll get a proper adaptation. Shame about the wait but I’m betting it’ll be worth it.
Title: Momo Author: Sakai Mayu Release: Monthly Status: Ongoing Genre: Shoujo, Fantasy, Romance, Slice of Life Art: A Originality: A Story: A Characters: B Humor: B Action: B
Impression: This is the story of an average everyday high school girl and her quest to save the world from a planet destroying devil called Momo that she happened to run into one day. This particular ender of worlds has taken the form and personality of a little girl and because of an act that the main character pulls, she is chosen to represent the human race and is given time to find seven reasons for the Earth to avoid its untimely end by Momo’s hands and remain in one piece. In addition to this, the plot also entails a romance between the main character and one of Momo’s servants that gradually develops over the series. It’s certainly got an interesting idea going on here and the story plays out quite well but I find that some of the plot twists thrown in to add tension to the story a little sloppy. While I do find that the characters do work well with the plot, I can’t help but feel that most of them are rather bland and feel little more than some character archetype despite the fact that they actually do develop over the story. That being said, I still find it to be a good shoujo manga to add to your reading list despite the lack of polish on its characters.
Title: Fourteen Author: Kazuo Umezu Release: Monthly Status: Complete Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Mystery, Seinen Art: A Originality: S Story: A Characters: B Humor: B Action: A
Impression: Good god this manga is freaky. Fourteen is about a chicken-man hybrid being born from a vat of genetically modified chicken meat as a curse from the animals of the Earth. Humanity’s dominance now permeates every fiber of the entire planet and it is now a mere shadow of the beautiful world it used to be. The chicken-man becomes deeply involved in events that will shape the future of humanity as the oncoming apocalypse approaches ever closer with a series of mysterious disasters that will all culminate in the extinction of the human race its last generation of offspring finally reach the age of fourteen. I kid you not when I say the first volume will freak you out with its excellent scenes flavoured with equal parts of horror and grotesqueness. The rest of the horror never comes as close as those first few do but they’re still pretty disturbing all the same. Despite its out of date style, the artwork works amazingly here and will just pull you right into the terror that the author infused into his series. I’m even willing to look past at all the research the author didn’t do since what really matters is the fear and not the fact that the author gets so many things wrong that political and economical minded people will want to bang their heads against the wall. This manga rises above its apparent lack of research and, in my honest opinion, does more than just rival Junji Ito’s brand of horror making it an absolute must read for horror lovers. Incidentally, I’d just love to see SHAFT pull out an anime of this. Shinbo’s crew is perfect for this series.
Came up a list of Tropes to describe what kind of person I am. Doesn’t feel quite complete yet but it should do for now. For those of you not familiar with TvTropes, feel free to click on the links to find out what these phrases mean. Try not to get addicted to the site though, TvTropes will ruin your life after all.
A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Read - Mine especially. Very messy in there. For one thing my mind likes switching between and mixing and matching English, Malay, Japanese and German. Then there’s the buzzing of lesser important thought trains among the few main few.
Genre Savvy - Combine reading loads of manga and wasting time on TvTropes instead of Wikipedia and you get this.
Go Mad From The Revelation - Subverted. I tinker too much with metaphysics and philosophy in my head and have realized some horribly depressing implications about the nature of humans, their belief systems and reality. I’ve actually learnt to appreciate things more because of this.
Gratuitous Japanese - I have avoided this as much as possible. Sadly, it doesn’t stop other people from doing it.
Honor Before Reason - My sense of responsibility outdoes my own personal gain every single damn time. Strangely enough, I’ve pretty much thrown out all traces of shame and guilt out of my emotional system so it’s a matter of pride more than anything else.
Ignored Epiphany - Those revelations of despair that made would make people go mad? Ignoring them doesn’t make them any less true but dwelling on them isn’t exactly fun.
Lack Of Empathy - I have no idea how to console people other than to point out what they can do about their situation.
Magnum Opus Dissonance - Apparently my best poem was one about taking over the world with robot penguins and flying turtles that I wrote on the fly for a class. I was flabbergasted when it won 1st place in the interclass poetry competition that year.
Memetic Badass - My reputation back during my last few years of school.
Refuge In Audacity - I’ve pulled a number of these to get out trouble. 100% success rate so far.
Reluctant Warrior - I don’t like fighting because it’s pointless and detrimental to all parties involved. However, I am stronger than I look and I wouldn’t mind a fight to see how I fare if I couldn’t avoid it.
Ridiculous Procrastinator - I should really nip this habit in the bud. Sure, I pull it off brilliantly but it’s not a good habit to have.
Secret Identity - Several. I enjoy using them to steer things towards a certain direction.
Serious Business - Food is the only real thing that has a chance of getting to me. I’ve actually felt depressed over not getting a slice of pizza that a teacher treated my class to in time.
She Is Not My Girlfriend - I’m known for not showing any interest in relationships so for some reason I’ve had clear things up whenever a few of my juniors got mistaken as such. All of them happened in my last year of school for some reason.
The Nicknamer - Main reason is because I can never remember people’s actual names.
The Reason You Suck Speech - Counterattacked with a particularly brutal one when someone tried to pull of these on me. Not only was it full of holes and disgustingly desperate and delusional, it showed me just how much time I wasted trying to be an actual friend to that person.
There Are Two Kinds Of People In The World - A) Idiots – Those who do stupid things knowing what will come of it and do it anyway. B) Morons – Those who do stupid things thinking that they know what will come of it. I consider myself to be the former.
Think Nothing Of It - Apparently my values are so different from others that I can’t tell the difference between a noble act and a trivial one. My sense of morality might be a little warped by the way.
Wise Beyond Their Years - Part of my reputation, even now. It’s weird having people I barely know come up to me for advice. I’ve had an unusually high number of advice seekers concerning their love lives which is just weird.
Well, I wasn’t expecting myself to go see this movie but there weren’t any other good alternatives this week so me and my friends went off to see this. I personally couldn’t believe that they made yet another sequel to the horribly decayed adaptation of the Resident Evil games. Especially after the previous movie where someone came up with the brilliant idea of throwing psychokinesis into the mix. Seriously, espers in a movie based on a game about surviving a horde of zombies by blasting your way out of trouble with knives, pistols, rifles, grenades, sometimes a laser and finally a rocket launcher.
Thankfully, they realized the error of their ways and took care of that little snag right at the beginning of the movie with a sequence that would not look out of place in the Matrix trilogy or Akira. What follows after is a plot that I can actually admit to living up to the games’ premise though that too comes with a mixed bag of sentiments from me. Basically the main character finds herself on a search for other survivors as well as the mysterious sanctuary, Arcadia. She flies in where the survivors from the previous movie were supposed to have landed but discovers the location to be a desolate graveyard of planes. Finding a lone survivor suffering from amnesia, she makes way with her new companion in tow for Los Angeles where they find another group of survivors holed up in a prison complex as well as the mysterious Arcadia. Going through the usual survivor horror movie clichés, we are shown scenes of some of the survivors making it to Arcadia only to discover that Arcadia is not the sanctuary that it made itself out to be. They then have a last boss fight there, one that’s surprisingly faithful to the source material, after which the movie ends on a cliffhanger that just made me groan. There’s also a bonus scene halfway through the credits that made me wonder if they actually expected it to make us want to see the next movie even more.
As you can probably tell, I don’t think very highly of this movie and its series overall. The characters barely have any personality at all and are all just trying way too hard to be cool. The main character in particular is very guilty of this. She kills zombies on a daily basis and is a total badass by anyone’s standards but she walks and talks like a noob trying to be all that. Her actor really isn’t very convincing at this role. Even the Redfield siblings looked more badass than she did when she wasn’t performing stunts. The black guy had a similar vibe to him but I think the trope subversion he pulled off was amusing enough to like him. Not only was he the last of the cannon fodder to get taken away by the zombies, he was the only one to survive and show in a scene near the end.
I do have to admit one thing though, I was very impressed with the special effects they put into the movie. My eyes just popped wide open when the energy explosion just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Then the bubble imploded and I let out a low a whistle as it left gigantic hole in the middle of an apocalyptic Tokyo. The slow motion sequences they littered about throughout the entire movie however did not. Not only did they fail to make the action scenes any more exciting or enjoyable, they actually made them look completely silly.
All in all, I’d have to say it was a halfway decent movie. However, if you’re not like me and you don’t analyse the movie as you watch it then you can take the previous sentence and leave out the halfway part. For those of you who are still on the fence about seeing this movie, feel free to check out the list of holes I’ve found in the movie that I’ve hidden in the spoiler box below. Lastly, don’t expect a rocket launcher in the last boss fight. Apparently it was so faithful to the RE5’s last boss battle that I’m still doubting what my said about it not finishing up with a rocket launcher like in the prequels.
List of Holes
Why does Umbrella keep two snipers on guard outside of a nigh impenetrable underground zombie proof fortress?
If all the clones could do that super psycho blast then why didn’t they?
Alice is human so why does she live through the helicopter crash?
How did Claire survive brainwashed and drugged up for six months?
Why is there a prison in the middle of the city? Maybe not exactly in just the movie but who’d put a prison in the middle of a city in real life?
Why could that Mexican guy move those big wood boxes filled with stuff in them but struggle so much with an upside down drum barrel that looked empty?
Why did most of the survivors look nice and clean when Alice met them?
Guns don’t fire properly when wet. They shouldn’t have worked after having been in the water so long.
Why did Chris and Alice only take small arms with them out of the armory? There were plenty of automatic rifles and grenades in there and he had an army backpack that should have had enough space to store a couple at least.
Alice detonated a portion of the building she bungied off. Judging from the camera angle, the other end of the bungee cord should have gone with it.
Why didn’t Alice just go with the rest down the elevator? The zombies couldn’t have followed them down the elevator shaft even if she wasn’t gunning them down outside.
Those coin-powered sawed-off shotguns couldn’t have fit that many coins in there. They shouldn’t have fired like that either.
Bennet crashed the plane in a nose dive and got out pretty much unscathed. The deck was level enough for him to at least try and make a safer landing.
Where exactly did the people in the bloodied capsules go? There was a fresh trail of blood on the floor. For that matter, why didn’t any of the heroes see a bright crimson trail of red in an entirely white hall if they didn’t go missing in front of them?
Why don’t the heroes suspect the possibility of the people they rescued being zombies after seeing the bloodied capsules?
Why didn’t any blood ooze out from under Wesker when Chris and Claire were shooting him?
Wesker’s clothes are repaired and clean in his final scene. He was just shot repeatedly in the chest just minutes before.
Why would umbrella make a self destruct mechanism you can DETACH from the place to be exploded?
Title: Break Hands Author: Sasaki Minoru Release: Monthly Status: Complete Genre: Seinen, Fantasy Art: B Originality: B Story: B Characters: B Humor: B Action: A
Impression: This takes place in a world where these mysterious stones called star rocks exist and by embedding them into their bodies, people can gain abilities unique to each individual. One such individual is the main character of the story, a promising young militant whose brother and father are of higher standing in their military force. One day however, the older brother he looked up betrays their country, kills their father and kidnaps the princess. After going through all the chaos that his brother and his allies had caused, he embarks on a mission to chase down his brother and rescue the princess carrying with him the intention of avenging his father death. It started off pretty well, establishing the characters and plot quite well but then, for some reason, it rushed off to its end with an ending that just turned everything on its head. Characterization, plot, premise, pacing. All of that got screwed over by the introduction of a never mentioned villain that happens to be the cause of everything that happened since the beginning of the series, bringing along a sudden power up worthy of Kubo Tite with her. I’m guessing the manga got axed for one reason or another and that’s real shame since the manga probably wasn’t even anywhere near its halfway point. Not sure if I should recommend this otherwise good series because of the horribly disappointing ending.
Title: Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai Author: Hiraska Yomi, Itachi Release: Monthly Status: Ongoing Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, Seinen Art: B Originality: A Story: A Characters: A Humor: A Action: B
Impression: This is the manga adaptation of a series of light novels by the same name. The story is about a group of individuals who are socially awkward in some way and are incapable of making friends for one or another. Because of this, they form a new club in their school to help them practice and develop their friendship forming skills. It starts off with a chapter set somewhere in the middle of the story to show off what we can expect to see in future chapters and from that it’s easy to see what sort of hilarity we can expect from this series. The characters are all very interesting and have very entertaining dynamics in their relationship and it’s quite easy to understand why exactly they need such a club. The comedic prospects aside, there also seems to be quite a good deal of story to be told and character development to be had here. The fact that the novels already have a manga adaptation suggests that it’ll be worth a read once they get to those points so it’s got me looking forwards to what they’ve got in store for the future. It takes quite a good storyteller to make a story about high school teenagers worth reading so I’ve got high hopes for this one. I’m also hoping that a certain someone in the club is skewed enough to consider Takamichi Nanoha’s method of befriending people as a viable method of making friends.
P.s. Anyone else notice that the art style looks a lot like Kato Hiruaki’s signature style? What’s the deal with that?
Title: Until Death Do Us Part Author: Double-S, Takashige Hiroge Release: Monthly Status: Ongoing Genre: Seinen, Sci-Fi, Romance Art: A Originality: A Story: A Characters: A Humor: B Action: A
Impression: This is the story of a blind swordsman with prodigious talent at swordplay and the little girl girl who asks him to protect her till death. The little girl is a precog and sees her future lies in the hands of her violent protector. Together they face the hordes of mercenaries sent after them with the help of the underground anti-crime network that the swordman works for as the girl waits for the day that she saw in her visions, the day she gets married to the man. This is quite an interesting series with a good set of characters and an intriguing premise. The action scenes are just incredible and are refreshing to watch, especially if you’re a fan of swordfights. I do have to complain about the pacing though, there’s a lot to look forward to with the setup they’ve got here but the manga goes at as if it were a weekly series when it’s really a monthly publication. Moreover, you don’t really get the feeling that very much time has passed in the manga. There’s also the fact that the character development takes a backseat to the action despite how much better the series could stand to be if it put a little bit more focus on the characters growth, particularly the girl, and their relationships in subtler ways instead of giving shallow but dramatic actions. All in all, it’s a pretty good manga but you’re going to ask yourself “That’s all so far?” when you hit the latest chapter.
Title: G Senjou Heavens Door Author: Nihonbashi Yoko Release: Monthly Status: Complete Genre: Seinen, Slice of Life Art: A Originality: A Story: S Characters: S+ Humor: B Action: A
Impression: This story revolves around two troubled teens who have issues with their families and have manga to thank for that. One is a strongly rebellious loner who bears much animosity towards his father, a celebrated mangaka, and looks down upon the medium because of what it’s done to his family while the other is almost completely devoid of any personality but is surrounded by many who care for him and possesses astonishing talent with drawing manga. Their story kicks off when the two get together to draw manga for a contest so they can both get the prized money they’re after. I quite amazed how much this series got done with just three volumes worth of pages. It started off very boldly, risking alienating its readers too much with its unlikeable protagonist, unique art style, mature scenes and its almost ridiculous story, but behind all these offputting factors lies a gold mine of plot and character development that really comes together as you go further into the story. One could think of it as a more cynical version of Bakuman(though this actually started and finished way before that did), a version that focuses more on the main characters and uses the manga plot to drive their personal growth instead of having it take the stage and manages to deliver a very engaging reading experience that never goes stale. I’d even have to say the mangaka is actually on the same supposed level as her characters here. If you think you can bear with the annoying bits of the story for an entire volume then I would suggest you pick this up for reading and keep on with it till the surprisingly well done end.
Title: Bartender Author: Joh Araki, Nagamoto Kenji Release: Monthly Status: Ongoing Genre: Seinen, Slice of Life Art: B Originality: B Story: B Characters: B Humor: B Action: B
Impression: This is about a young bartender who has just returned to Japan after training in the ways of the Bartending profession and has brought back with him a title bestowed upon one who has reached the heights of tending the bar, “Glass of the Gods”. It went something like that and I found it to be a pleasant if monotonous read. It doesn’t really seem to have much of a story and the chapters follow a very repetitive formula where the guy usually delivers some sort of epiphany unto his customers through the cocktails he mixes. You’ll pick up some interesting trivia about cocktails but that’s all you’ll really take from this series. I can’t really give any other reason to add this to your reading list so go and check it out if you’re interested in the world of serving liquor.
Nico Nico Douga has all sorts of videos on their site and thanks to their daily rankings system, you can tell when a newly uploaded video is if any good by the number of views and how high they're up on the top 100 vids. That's how I've come to notice these guys and their work they do, mostly covers of vocaloid songs. Take a listen to these and enjoy their musical talent.
Black Rock Shooter
When Love Ends for the First Time
Just Be Friends
Hello Windows Very soothing melody here
Sakura no Ame
The Convenience Store
Genesis of Aquarion
When I Get Home My Wife Always Pretends to be Dead A silly little song that also happens to be quite heartwarming. My personal favorite.
Puasa's over and I can finally get back to my normal sleep cycles, the ones I so dearly missed. It was over before I knew it and I ended up not going to the stalls at the stadium as much as the past few years. Stall selections wasn't quite as interesting as last year's but it nice all the same. Can't believe Raya came early this year either. They say it's always been late even since before I was born but it actually came early when I completely expected otherwise. At any rate, a "Selamat Hari Raya!!" to all who celebrate it!
Title: Eden – It’s an Endless World Author: Hiroki Endo Release: Monthly Status: Finished Genre: Seinen, Sci-Fi Art: A Originality: S Story: A Characters: S Humor: C Action: B
Impression: This manga is set in the future where a mysterious virus has wiped out a major percentage of the world’s population and human civilization is slowly recovering from the first outbreak. The story follows various characters throughout the many years that take place over the series and the strange new world that has come out of the disastrous epidemic that struck the Earth. The story is definitely engaging and the overarching plot is certainly interesting but I hate how this guy treats his characters. I’m not talking about the high body count, the dozens of kick the dog moments, the ridiculous amount of squick thanks to the drugs, sex and sci-fi tech. No, those actually made the story more enjoyable. It was the way he keeps switching the focus from one character to another for entire arcs and later completely forgetting about them and their development later. It’s like the author was a total schizophrenic when it came to which characters were actually important. The most jarring instance of this was having the most prominently featured and most developed character in the series set up for his role in the climax only for him to have done basically nothing and other characters who didn’t even have half as much screen time as him taking charge of the plot. While the characters who are involved in the finale do have more significance towards the setting at that point, it still doesn’t help the fact the feeling that you just wasted your time reading about half the stuff in the series. Then there’s the guy’s sense of humor. This is a seinen series set in a crapsack of the world portrayed with a very realistic and gritty art style and yet he still does lame, badly-timed jokes using art you’d expect to see in a comedy manga. Also, what exactly was the point of this series? Life goes on? Sorry, but that’s a terribly weak message. I’m not even sure if that even qualifies as one, more of a fact if you ask me.
Title: The Lucifer & Biscuit Hammer Alternative Titles: Hoshi no Samidare, 惑星のさみだれ Author: Mizukami Satoshi Release: Monthly Status: Complete Length: 10 Volumes, 65 Chapters Genre: Seinen, Slice of Life, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Comedy, Romance
This is the story of Amamiya Yuuhi and the year his usual routine was disrupted by a truly unprecedented turn of events best explained by the following monologue:
“One morning when I woke up, there was a lizard in my room. We stared at each other and the first to break the silence, was him.”
He has just been pulled into a, as described by another talking animal, truly outrageous yet mundane heroic epic where they as the Beast Knights have to fight monstrous constructs made of Earth created by the mage Animus who literally has the power to smash the planet into bits and pieces. The lizard knight has come to him to recruit him in a war that will determine the fate of the planet and he has been granted psychic powers as well a wish in exchange for his participation in the conflict that he could very well lose his life over. Unfortunately for Noi the lizard, Yuuhi is more inclined to see the world destroyed than to fight for its continued existence as he utterly loathes everything in it. The nihilist soon experiences the conflict firsthand, almost having been killed only to get saved by Asahina Samidare, the monstrously strong princess that he was told to protect. Even after his close encounter with death, he still refuses to take part until the high school girl that saved him just the day before comes to him shows him the huge ass hammer in the sky that threatens to smash their planet to bits. She then makes a show of trust by letting herself fall off from building so that Yuuhi would save her before going splat on the ground. Having gained his attention, she announces to him she’ll never let the Biscuit Hammer destroy the Earth. Why? Because she’s going to destroy the Earth, with her own fists. That’s when Yuuhi pledges his unwavering loyalty to her. That’s how this tale of the Earth’s destruction begins.
Art: A At first the art doesn’t look very impressive and looks substandard but it grows into a uniquely expressive style that perfectly captures the ambience of the scene as well as the emotions and thoughts of the characters. This takes a real while but once the author finally settles into it, even the fight scenes start to look awesome. By that, I don’t mean that the attacks start looking as complex as the ones you’d see on Bleach or Naruto. Nope, the attacks stay relatively simplistic in comparison to most shonen series. It’s more towards where the emphasis lies in those scenes. Instead of putting the focus on the attack itself, he likes to concentrate on the bits that lead up to and follow after the attack itself. This technique of his captures those “Oh, crap!” and “Hell Yeah!!” moments so perfectly that it’s very easy to overlook how plain the attacks look.
Originality: S+ This is about a group of people who have been granted psychic powers to fight alongside invisible talking animals who are lead by a princess to fight the mage and his golems so that his planet destroying superweapon of a biscuit hammer won’t smash the Earth to bits with a hidden third faction within the group of protectors that secretly plan to destroy the Earth themselves once the mage has been vanquished. Interesting, no? And that’s just the very tip of the iceberg by the way. Time travel, reincarnation and magical girls get thrown into the mix too. Besides very the quirky set-up Mizukami-sensei came up for the familiar save the world plot, this particular author also understands what expectations that his audience will have for him and how he can use those expectations to keep his readers surprised, amused and excited for more with every chapter. What you get is a work that superficially resembles standard shonen fare only to be filled with just so many subversions, aversions and inversions of the usual tropes that you can never tell how the following chapter will turn out. I myself have failed miserably in trying to predict what he’s got in store for us, even right up to the final chapter.
Story: S+ Mizukami-sensei is no doubt a master storyteller. The tale he spun here has so many threads and so many layers woven so cleanly and tightly into it that he must have had this entire tapestry laid out in front of him even before it began serialization. Right from the very first few chapters, you get these small insignificant details that hint at things that only get revealed dozens of chapters later. Some of these brilliantly subtle bits of foreshadowing get played off as one time jokes only to come back in full force in a totally different context with entirely new implications. These hints are pretty easy to remember and you just can’t help but be impressed at how insignificant he made them seem. The romance between Yuuhi and Samidare may seem have been muted for much of the series but it builds itself up bit by bit in small but very significant segments that focus more on the trust shared between them rather any actual signs of infatuation. This all pays off when we finally get to see what they meant to her and how much she loves Yuuhi in the finale that it finishes off the climax of the series with an incredibly moving moment between the two of them. The last ten chapters of this series can only be described as the most satisfying finale ever. Not only did we get to see everyone go all out in the last battle, every last loose end gets tied up nicely and we’re treated to an epilogue that satisfies like no other. I’d even go as far as to say that no one will want to write any “improved” fanfics of this simply because the story was just that good.
Characters: S+ The story features a huge cast of unique characters ranging from the nihilistic college student Amamiya Yuuhi to the incredibly laidback and affable Animus. Though they themselves have some eccentric qualities to them, the knights get portrayed realistically enough as normal people who just happened to get dragged into an unbelievable situation. In fact, with the exception of three especially quirky knights, everyone would be even blander than the side characters had they not become knights. We get a total of twelve knights, not all lasting till the final showdown and they all get enough attention to show how they’ve grown as people throughout this series. Hardly anybody stays the same person they were when they were first introduced into the series and their individual motivations for participating in the war get fleshed out and developed in brilliantly subtle ways. The characters grow on you as discover how “human” they’re made out to be, a recurring theme in this series. Even “growing up” was another motif explored in this series and it wouldn’t have worked out as well had any of the main characters stayed the same. The clearest evidence of this is the main character himself as goes from being a weak-ass nihilist with a deep-seated grudge against the world to an outright hero, the one that Noi was looking for as his partner.
Humor: A Mizukami-sensei has a pretty goofy sense of humor. The jokes he throws into this series never reach ROFLMAO levels but are still pretty funny. It’s more in the range of “Huh… wait, what?” and “What the hell is he doing?”. Much of the humor is derived from the characters themselves. It could be an odd quirk, a surprising skill or even an unusual way of handling things. Most of the time, the jokes involve the expectations we have for how things should be going and more often than not add to whatever character is responsible for the chuckle you let out. The goofiness of the series, as lighthearted as it may be, never gets in the way of whatever scene is taking place regardless of how intense it’s supposed to be. They fit in there so naturally that it keeps things from getting too cheesy or overdone and occasionally strengthens the power behind the scene itself.
Action: A I give this a B for its first half, an S overall for its second half and an honest to goodness S+ for its finale. The first half takes its time to build up the premise as well the characters while also moving the conflict well along enough that the slice of life scenes blend nicely with fight scenes, both feeling equally relevant to the story. Things start shifting into higher gears once the mage and the princess, the driving forces of the whole conflict, show up as that’s when everything that’s been established in the story by that point start to develop and really come into play. The fights start escalating as both the knights and the golems become more and more formidable with every battle demonstrating the ingenuity of their respective tactics making for some very entertaining fights. Even the character-centric scenes become more engaging as they get tied in even more with the war they’re fighting. This trend continues on even into the showdown as both sides take their fighting power to heights never seen before in the series and every bit of build up pays off in the most satisfying of ways. To use an analogy, the story is like a snowball going down a hill, it starts off small and gets bigger and bigger as it goes down and at the very end you get to see just how much snow was in there.
Final Impression This series started out quirky, developed brilliantly and ended magnificently. Not even one single chapter ever feels wasted. At this present time, you will NOT find five manga series that you can even begin to consider as works superior to this one. For most, they’d be hard-pressed to find even one. I have absolutely zero gripes about this story and am thoroughly satisfied with its end. It is a sad thing to see that this still remains so horribly obscure and underrated as it is when it truly deserves the popularity garnered by the likes of Bleach and Naruto. The fact of the matter is that this guy never fails to deliver the scenes as emotionally powerful as he meant them to be and possibly even more than he did. This series will make you laugh, cry, cheer out loud and even feel all warm and happy inside, all when you least expect yourself to. Nothing short of a great series is capable of that. Hopefully GAINAX is smart enough to pick this up for an anime adaptation soon and that it at the very least gets picked up for an official English translation by a credible company. This story is without a shadow of a doubt, a true Masterpiece.
Adding some new icons for a sort-of new thing I'll be doing tomorrow as well replacing some of the older icons with some better looking ones. Been waiting for a certain series to end before I start with what I'll be posting up tomorrow.
Title: Akiba Romance Author: Kijima Renga Release: Monthly Status: Finished Genre: Romance, Comedy Art: B Originality: C Story: C Characters: B Humor: B Action: B
Impression: There seems to have been a spike in manga featuring a school idol/star/celeb secretly being an otaku, or in this case a fujoshi as the protagonist is a girl. This girl wants to give up her otaku ways because of something a fictional character in a manga she reads says. To her, said fictional character is what Edward is to a Twilight fangirl so she commits herself to reforming from the behavior that her fictional crush frowns upon… I lament upon the fact there are actually people who become so enamored with fictional characters that they delude themselves into thinking that they’re somehow real. It’s played for laughs to get the story rolling but I can’t help but feel that to be a downright horrible plot device. Putting my disdain for such irrationality aside, the manga falls into the pattern where girl’s secret gets found out by guy she’s never talked to and begins acting all tsundere towards the guy even though he’s doing nothing to thwart her double life. That’s getting to be a cliché now but I’m not sure if TvTropes has a term for it yet and this mucks around in the first few chapters in the most predictable of ways. However, I still find it to be a decent love comedy manga despite its predictability. That’s probably partly due the fact that the main character blows everything so out of proportion that it makes her borderline delusional views amusing to watch.