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The review crew for this week was: Omar Valdivieso, Tommy Pfeiffer and Melanie Valdivieso.
So the first thing most of my friends ask is what the hell is up with the title? Why call this thing Bleach? I mean is it a cooler word than detergent in Japan? Yes, my friends are smartasses. We may not ever know why Tite Kubo decided to call this book Bleach, but at this point does anybody really care what this series is called? The saga continues after Orihime is kidnapped by Aizen and the Espada and taken to Hueco Mundo, Ichigo and his friends go to the rescue. This is the story I have been waiting for since volume one! The flashback continues as we see Aizen and Urahara with Tsukabishi come to a fantastic fight. We see how both Urahara and Tsukabishi get banished to the world of the living. Where we find them living in the first volume. Meanwhile in Hueco Mundo we find Ichigo fighting Ulquiorra, well at least the start of a fight. Most of the volume revolves around Yumachika and his fight against another “pretty boy”. It seems that the gang is finally going to get some help from Hirako and gang. We know the big fight with Aizen is out on the horizon, but at this rate it just seems like we’ll never get there. I mean, we still have to go through Tousen and Ichimaru. The art remains the same steady beat that it began with. Kubo gives it his all to blow us away with some great action sequences. I love the fluidity of the characters and how easy they flow through fights, like a damn well choreographed dance. Sure it’s one huge fight but I always find myself eagerly awaiting the next installment. Fans of Naruto, Dragon Ball Z, X-men, and Teen Titans should really give this great book a try. B-
Alright, so I think along with everyone else that reviews manga (at least I’m almost sure) I have compared this manga to Lost with a little dash of Twilight Zone and Cannibal Holocaust. Maybe I’m the only one that threw the Cannibal Holocaust reference in there. A plane carrying a bunch of high school kids crashes on a deserted island that isn’t supposed to exist. Sengoku Akira wakes up and realizes that he is surrounded by prehistoric creatures that are trying to eat him every chance they get. Separated from his childhood friend Rion (who happens to be a very bouncy and sweet girl) and his best friend Arita (a very handsome and tall volleyball player) he sets on his way to find them. After being reunited with Rion and a couple of other passengers; Sengoku’s group runs into another group of survivors. Yarai has a group of delinquents with him; however the two groups must team up when they catch a deadly disease that is killing them one by one. Meanwhile, Hades has shown up to play games with Arita and forcing him to kill again. I can’t wait for Arita and Sengoku to reunite and how much they will have changed. The artwork remains impressive it’s full of detailed prehistoric creatures mixed with the classic shonen manga style art we have come to expect. I like the idea of throwing these kids and teachers out there in a prehistoric island, because I really don’t know what will come next in the series. A-
If you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of years and for some reason have not heard of this amazing series, well here is a quick recap of Gantz: If you die in this world you wake up not in Heaven or purgatory, but in a game. The Gantz sphere sends you on missions back in the real world, usually to destroy aliens. The people chosen to do the mission cannot return from the mission until all enemies have been killed, or their time limit has run out. If you survive the mission you are awarded points for killing aliens and allowed to leave, and live their lives until summoned by Gantz for their next mission. Once reaching 100 points you have the option of leaving the game and returning to life with your memory erased, bringing back someone that has died, or getting more weapons. I always hear so and so issue of this comic is a game changer. Sometimes it holds true and sometimes, well Superman comes back from the dead, Batman’s back is better and the mutants are back. Let me tell you that volume 19 is a game changer for our characters. When five of them have reached over 100 points Tae and Masaruka are back in the game and Kurono returns to life with his memories erased. Of course, he keeps wondering who this girl that keeps stalking him is and why he has all these numbers on his cell phone including Masaruka’s. I can’t help but fall for these characters. I want them all to have happy endings, but I know better than that. I know that every so many volumes a new character will come in to the story, which means an old one leaves or dies. Gantz packs in a ton of sex and violence which should get just about any male reader’s attention. I am in love with this series: it’s intense and in your face and you’ll love it! A
First thing is first. Damn, I love that cover. I love the art style, I love the character designs and I love the color tones they used. That being said, I was a little lost because I haven’t read any of the previous volumes of Mardock Scramble. What I gathered from this volume is that Rune Balot was a prostitute that was almost killed and rebuilt as a cyborg with the ability to control electronics. I love how in your face the character art style is. Rune is teamed up with Oeufcoque (a shape shifting little rodent?) and together they face they face the five assassins that have invaded their hideout. One of the assassins seems to be Oeufcoque’s old partner and wants to rescue him from Rune. In the end Oeufcoque makes his decision and stays with Rune to help her win the fight. So yes, I was a bit confused. A recap page would have helped, but damn I fell in love with that art style. You’ll find the same great character designs that will in most videogames from the East within these pages. My main problem with the art is the backgrounds. It seems that all the concentration of the artist is devoted to the characters and like I said they are wonderful, but I feel the backgrounds are a bit scarce. I’m not really sure when and where Mardock City is supposed to be. It could be taking place now, for all I know, but the settings really didn’t help my confusion any. The pacing is a perfect blend of thick action sequences with some good moments of character interaction. B
I have to say that these books are really unique. Well, before I get to the storyline; I’m talking about the format of the book. The book is read from left to right like your standard American comic or book. However, this isn’t a flipped version of the original manga; the author had in mind a Western release so it is exactly the way it was released in Japan. The book is also smaller than most of Vertical’s releases, which isn’t a bad thing; I guess I’m just use to the bigger formats found in Black Jack and other Tezuka’s works. Now on to the strange story of Yozo Oba and his damaging thoughts. I didn’t know what to expect when I picked the book up, I guess maybe judging by the cover and the previous work by the manga creator I was expecting to find a guy that can transform into a demon and kills for the pleasure of it. Instead I found two volumes of books I couldn’t put down and no, there were not any signs of demons in these volumes, well at least yet.
From what I gathered the manga is based on a novel by Osamu Dazai, who seems to be a troubled individual that used the novel as a semi autobiography to deal with his inferiority and alienation. This manga does the same thing. It is a story told through Furuya as the narrator. Set in modern time Japan it is the story of Yozo Oba, who in order to survive in this world has made himself into a jokester. That’s the thing about Yozo, he has gone through life not knowing what he really wants. He sees himself as a marionette and his father pulling at the strings. He clings to his friend Horiki and they both seem to have fun getting hookers and partying, but Oba seems bored and so out of touch with humanity. He joins a political activist group and lies to himself about being happy there and uses people there to get the things he needs. It seems that wherever he goes, he finds a true sadness in people. The last girl to take him in decides that they should commit suicide together. Of course the story doesn’t end there and Oba survives only to keep searching for answers and how to fit in with society.
My God, I think I enjoyed this manga so much, it really spoke volumes to me. I loved every page and every piece of dialogue that characters had with each other. It moved me in ways that few books and movies ever had. Yes, sometimes as humans we are moved by other people’s tragedies and destruction and reminded that we are all just mortal. I know I may sound clichéd but sometimes pain and loneliness really inspires true art. That is what I found here within these pages; true art. I can’t wait to see if Oba actually gets married in the next volume or if something horrifying ends up happening. Having never read the original novel, that is definitely one thing on my list to do this year. Thank you Vertical, for releasing a true piece of work. A+
Okay okay, at one point I compared Impel Down to the TV series Prison Break. I got a couple of emails about that. So, let’s set the record straight: I hated Prison Break, even though the first season was okay at best, but hell, it ain’t no One Piece. I’m sorry Oda san for even making that ridiculous comparison. Luffy is still trying to get to his brother Ace, before he is executed. He has teamed up with some unlikely allies, namely: Buggy the Clown, Crocodile, Mr. 2 Bon Clay, and Mr. 3 to help grab his brother and bust out of prison. So starts the Paramount War arc where we see Whitebeard’s crew go up against the Navy and the Warlords of the Sea. We have learned that Ace has been moved to Navy headquarters for a public execution. This comes after we’ve learned that he is the biological son of the Pirate King Gold Roger. I love this story, I mean it has it all bringing old characters back and teaming them up with Luffy for the purpose of breaking out of prison and huge fights between the Navy Admirals and Whitebeard’s gang. This is what epic stories are made of. It really doesn’t get more threatening than this! I can’t thank Viz enough for putting these out every month and catching us up with the Japanese release. The book still delivers great and exciting installments I really do recommend this series as much as anyone can recommend anything. This particular story reminds me that on the most basic level, you could call One Piece a pirate comedy, but it is so much more than that. Sure, it is full of funny jokes and silly sight gags, but there is something very serious behind all that. I mean with dialogue like: “Ace, I’m going to save you even if it kills me!!” How can you not get goose bumps!? It’s about chasing your dreams with a group of loyal companions (friends really) that eventually become a big family that trust each other with their lives. Bring on the next volumes please! This book could be released on a monthly basis and it still wouldn’t feed my hunger for it. A
Still loving that long title! I’m sure most of you that have never heard of this book might go into a book store see the title and cover and slowly walk away. If this is you! Well, you need to reconsider the plain looking covers, because you are missing out on one of the best satire and dark comedies that have come State side. Let’s talk about the cover for second and just say, while it looks like a paper doll cut out that you can dress in different kinds of kimonos, it’s not at all. The plot is very simple; Nozumo Itoshiki is a school teacher who happens to be so depressed he sees the only way out of this hell hole is suicide. Nozumo finds himself in the streets of Kyoto trying to discover the joy of Christmas, but feeling alienated more than ever. The art style is probably my favorite part of this book. It is very simplified even from typical manga, with a flat 2D look and a design influenced approach to black and white space. The main characters themselves seem to follow this design, save for the occasional always-hilarious almond-eyed background character. The looks on their faces are always priceless. The rest of the art ranges from very simple to detailed and ornate, especially with some of the backgrounds and settings. There are the great translation notes in back, which are much appreciated, given the author’s fondness for cultural and media references that go over my head. Over the long haul of 12 volumes the series has really started to become predictable and repetitive. It’s still fun, but it is definitely missing that feeling of being something new and different. I really do wonder how much more the author has left in him to keep doing this book. B-