Winning isn’t everything in the game of basketball, but who wants to come in second? It takes dedication and discipline to be the best, and the Shohoku High hoops team wants to be just that. They have one last year to make their captain’s dream of reaching the finals come true – will they do it? Hanamichi finally gets some game time as a substitute for the slightly injured captain Akagi and quickly goes about showing everyone that he isn’t all talk. Not only does he manage to strip the ball from Ryonan’s veteran center, but he also succeeds in making several key passes that result in some much-needed baskets. With Shohoku closing in on their opponents’ lead, is Hanamichi on the verge of proving that he has what it takes to become the next captain? I was quite fond of Takehiko Inoue’s smash hit basketball manga back in my twenties, and I must admit, it is somewhat of a guilty pleasure to get back into it again, now in my thirties, though admittedly I do seem to have outgrown it just a tad it would seem. Anyway, volume 5 of Slam Dunk still has us caught slap bang in the epic basketball battle between Ryonan and Shohoku, though unbelievably the entire volume 5 is used to tell just a few minute’s worth of game time – to actually finish this (and remember, this is only a practice game – the season hasn’t even started yet!), you’ll need to head [...]
Winning isn’t everything in the game of basketball, but who wants to come in second? It takes dedication and discipline to be the best, and the Shohoku High hoops team wants to be just that. They have one last year to make their captain’s dream of reaching the finals come true – will they do it? Shohoku’s (somewhat) friendly game against Ryonan gets underway. Old rivalries reignite with captain Akagi going toe-to-toe with Ryonan’s center, Uozumi. Hanamichi has flat-out declared that he will personally shut down Ryonan’s ace, Sendoh, but will Kaede Rukawa take care of things before Hanamichi even gets a chance to hit the floor? Either way, this is bound to be a game to remember! I’m particularly fond of Takehiko Inoue’s classic school basketball comedy drama saga, and Slam Dunk volume 4 certainly does not let one down in any way whatsoever. Loads of basketball action, plenty of flip-flopping drama as both teams duke it out, and of course the side-splitting laughs that come courtesy of that loveable tough guy idiot Hanamichi Sakuragi! Volume 4 kicks off the big Ryonan practice game, which of course the book makes out to be far more important than just any old practice game. Of course, this is Inoue meaning that a single basketball game will stretch out over a number of volumes, which unfortunately means that you’ll have to sit down with more than just volume 4 if you want to see how things pan out. Of course, that said, [...]
After overcoming a perilous ambush, Ash and company meet up with the head office of Re-O. There, Lemiu is confronted with a terrible secret from Ash’s past… and a climactic attack of selenoids could mean the end of mankind as we know it! Volume 3 marks the end of writer/artist Takuya Fujima’s science fiction Deus Vitae saga, chronicling the battle of Ash Ramy, the human with selenoid abilities, against the power of the selenoid Mothers and Lady Leave herself, as well as the revelations surrounding the young female selenoid known as Lemiu Winslet. Finally, many of the missing bits of information get filled in, and this volume carries a good balance of action, drama and character development, finishing up the story with a somewhat soppy and overwrought, but satisfyingly epic, final battle. Of course, what makes Deus Vitae is not its writing (which to be honest continues to be slightly confusing to work through and isn’t always all that convincing, but which is certainly better than the first two volumes), but rather the strength of Takuya’s gorgeous art, his wonderfully detailed work and of course gorgeous character designs, particularly that of the girls. That said, his artwork does sometimes make it difficult to follow what exactly is meant to be happening in some of the more action heavy panels, but again, the top quality of the line work more than makes up for these minor flaws. One thing that one does however need to criticize Mr. Fujima on is his [...]
Naruto is a young shinobi with an incorrigible knack for mischief. He’s got a wild sense of humour, but Naruto is completely serious about his mission to be the world’s greatest ninja! Naruto Returns – Naruto’s friends are tested as an attempt to overthrow Tsunade begins and they must all fight – or fall. New secrets about Pain are revealed, but they only add to the mystery of his identity. As Pain commences with the final destruction of Konoha, Naruto and the Toads prepare to take on in battle. Can Naruto save his beloved village? If you are particularly attached to the vibrant ninja village that is Konoha, then perhaps you might give Naruto volume 46 a bit of a skip, seeing as author artist Masashi Kishimoto pretty much destroys the whole place over the course of this book! As per usual it is pretty much all out action from start to finish, with very little place for comedic moments but loads of space for drama, mysteries and big reveals! Essentially we get to see just about every Konoha ninja that we’ve come to know and love face off against one of the attacking Pains, and for the most part, things don’t go that well for the ninja of the Hidden Leaf. This volume does however mark the return of Naruto, who up until now has been missing out on the action thanks to his training with the toads – and needless to say our young, more serious protagonist has [...]
Baron’s Lecture Full-Course – Ichigo “Strawberry” Kurosaki never asked for the ability to see ghosts – he was born with the gift. When his family is attacked by a Hollow – a malevolent lost soul – Ichigo becomes a Soul Reaper, dedicating his life to protecting the innocent and helping the tortured spirits themselves find peace. Ichigo, Chad and Uryu are determined to rescue Orihime from Aizen’s vile machinations. But though the Arrancars’ fortress is in sight, the would-be heroes must first pass Tres Cifras – the land of the disgraced Arrancars, who see destroying Ichigo and his friends as a way to redeem their honour! Volume 28 of Tite Kubo’s hit manga, Bleach, continues the non-stop action by finishing off the fight that kind of reached its conclusion last volume, with new power levels available to both Uryu and Chad. Next it is on to the desolate white spirit desert environment that needs to be traversed in order to reach the gigantic Arrancar fortress, Huego Mundo. Of course this is a pretty hostile land as Ichigo and his travelling companions quickly find out, though at the same time they do encounter some rather reluctant allies in the process (and some not so reluctant ones too!). Thanks to the last battle, the Arrancars are lying in wait for Ichigo and company, and at the same time their grip over the seized Orihime appears to strengthen. However, even before Ichigo gets to tackle with Aizen’s loyal Espadas, he and his party [...]
Naruto is a ninja-in-training with an incorrigible knack for mischief. His wild antics amuse his teammates, but Naruto is completely serious about one thing: becoming the world’s greatest ninja! Dreams – Naruto’s sensei Kakashi believes that the diabolical Zabuza survived their last battle. Now, in anticipation of their enemy’s return, Kakashi puts Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke through rigorous training programs to increase their focus and control. This time, their job of protecting the old bridge builder Tazuna and his family will be a hundred times more difficult! After a very much action-packed Volume 2, Naruto Volume 3 slows down the pace considerable for the first two thirds or so, focussing on special chakra training for the trio of young ninja, giving us a little more insight into their characters. At the same time we are given a little more background surrounding the people, location, and situation that Kakashi and his group find themselves in, all of which helps to build up to a very explosive last third of the book, where all out, over the top fighting between the ninja takes centre stage once more! (Ending as expected on quite the cliffhanger!) Author/Artist Masashi Kishimoto once again effortlessly combines his slapstick humor, drama and action to produce a wonderful page-turner of a manga volume, and when combined with his masterful artwork which is so full detail, emotion and action, never mind his superb bringing to life of all the slapstick humor he throws around, makes for an addictive and fun [...]
Kyo and Hotaru begin a fight to the death at the first of the Five Shining Gates. The two collide in a sizzling-hot flame that burns up both their bodies – and makes the ground tremble! Then Kyo’s ultimate technique, Suzaku, rises up into the sky… Written and illustrated by Akimine Kamijyo, Samurai Deeper Kyo is a manga series set during the Edo period of Japan’s history, following Demon Eyes Kyo, a feared samurai seeking to regain his body after his soul is sealed inside the body of his rival, Mibu Kyoshiro. Volume 16 now has us well and truly deep into the story, with Yuya now only having a matter of hours left to live as one by one the star markings on her chest slowly fade away. That said, this particular issue is pretty much completely devoted to the epic and fierce fight between Kyo and Hotaru, as the latter’s hatred towards Kyo is seemingly enough to raise his abilities to an even higher level than what they already are! (Intermixed in the big fight are a lot of flashbacks as well, attempting to explain the relationship between Hotaru and Kyo, as well as the reasons behind why Hotaru acts the way that he does.) If you are already engrossed by the Samurai Deeper Kyo world then you will undoubtedly enjoy the backstory provided, but as per usual, the fight itself is so overwrought and over the top that it is difficult for it to try and maintain [...]
Cowboy Bebop Volume 2 features all new chronicles on the famous exploits of the hapless Bebop crew Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, Edward Wong Ha (well… just Ed) and Ein. Bound by convenience, driven by woolongs, and usually starving, this quirky quintet may, or may not, get their bounty, but they’ll pursue it with vigor and tenacity… or at least that’s what an MBC TV producer wants to see when she does a story on them. Annoyingly, the only two manga titles that were released for Sunrise’s hit show Cowboy Bebop weighed in at a measly two volumes and then three volumes respectively, and worse still, they were primarily targeted to shoujo, i.e. females aged 10 to 18 and fans of science fiction. In other words, Cowboy Bebop Volume 2 by author Hajime Yatate and artist Yutaka Nanten failed to capture my attention, the end result being me not enjoying the books and thus not willing to give it a great score. Of course, you could always say that I’m being unfair considering this isn’t being targeted to me, but unfortunately for you, these additional two facts help strengthen my view: a) The decision to write in a short story format (volume 2 is made up of 5 separate stories!) means no continuity, rushed conclusions and setup, and just no chance to actually build on characters which we came to love via the television anime run, and b) Yutaka Nanten’s artwork, though competent for the most part, does often [...]
The feverish fight to rescue the town from complete annihilation makes reluctant allies of everyone – Tian and Drei, Anna and her special task force, the religious chick, and, worst of all, Nagi, the thief. And, surrounded by Zombies and with little hope of making it out of the city alive, the lot of them sallies forth into the hordes of walking dead to face death… or worse. From writer Creative Hon with art from Yong-Wan Kwon, volume 5 of the Last Fantasy Korean manhwa brings to a close the short fantasy/comedy adventures of the low-level magic user who can pretty much only throw fireballs Tian, and the strong as an ox, but dumb as one too warrior Drei von Richenstein, the two unlikely heroes (who are almost always broke) with a knack of turning allies into foes. Plunging our main characters directly into battle against the hungry horde of zombies right from page one, the action is relentless until the final and satisfying closing scenes, which bring about the end of the main storyline around two thirds into the book – leaving the rest of the volume to be padded out with some extra stories set in the world Creative Hon has created from the inspiration that is Final Fantasy, generating enough story threads towards the end so that should they ever be called upon to one day craft some more Last Fantasy books, they’ll at least have something to carry on from! Although the book maintains it’s slapstick [...]
Kai Eto may look like a squeaky-clean kid, but the Greater Kanto Narcotics Control Division’s new investigator hides a violent alter ego and a dangerous past. Together with his stoic partner Hal Kurabayashi, Kai is assigned to track down and stop the distribution of a dangerous new drug – Dragon Speed. A night on the town with fellow NCD employee Mari turns into a nightmare for Kai when they get mixed up with the Ryugen drug ring in a deadly case of mistaken identity. Volume 5 of Naked Ape’s (Saki Otoh & Nakamura Tomomi) Switch manga continues the story of the child-like Kai and serious Hal as they continue their drug investigation. Although not much in terms of character development really occurs in this volume, the story is deepened with the introduction of some key and enigmatic players, amping up the level of danger just a notch. At the same time, amongst all the expected angst and drama, Naked Ape do inject their usual brand of silly humour into the story (particularly in the first half of the volume), but to be honest, it does drag back the tone a bit, and in the end, volume 5 doesn’t exactly hold your attention, particularly because it can’t make up its mind as to which mood it is trying to convey. Add to that the jumping around in the story and the often confusing artwork, this certainly isn’t a volume to pick up if you a) aren’t already invested in the story [...]
They’ve found the Stradivarius. Now to the hard part – getting it back! Of course, that is their job… and do it they must, even if it means once again going up against the mighty Protector, Ryudo Hishiki. The Protector is a big, burly, bone-crushing bodyguard with a serious beef to with our fearless heroes. But when Ginji takes out the lights, the brave turns to the blind Madoka to get them out of the bind! Volume 4 continues the adventures of the GetBackers retrieval service duo of Evil Eye-bearing Ban Mido and electrically charged Ginji Amano, with them this time around tasked with trying to retrieve a young, blind musician’s prize Stradivarius violin from a seedy underworld family. To make matters even more difficult, the man who has stolen the priceless violin has hired a number of freelancers to protect it, including Shido the Beastmaster and Ryudo Hishiki, the unstoppable protector. What happens from here on out is one long struggle and fight as the boys and their charge face off against their adversaries in an attempt to reach the violin, before tackling the even more difficult task of getting back out again! And to make matters worse, there are a couple of hidden assassins also waiting in the wings to strike when the opportunity presents itself! Writer Yuya Aoki, under the pen name of Tadashi Agi, is behind the adventure once more, delivering a volume that is full of action and suspense, brining in no less than six [...]
So Ikki and his rather makeshift little group finally manages to get a proper Air Trek team going after a fair bit of scrounging around, and even partake in their first official battle as a team (though after a proper preliminary round of fisticuffs of course!) Although Agito ignores them and Buccha and Onigiri fail them, Kazu is given a moment to shine and they are rescued through the arrival of a mysterious female skater as well as the skills of Ikki who continues to ascend his Air Trek skating path. But there is an unexpected turn of events that awaits for them back home, one which will see Ikki possibly losing his skates for good, as we are let in on more of the mystery surrounding the legendary Sleeping Forest clan… Mangaka Oh! Great continues his madcap action comedy shonen romp with Air Gear volume 5, giving us again plenty of action, fight and skate sequences, plenty of juvenile humor to have a giggle at, and of course sprinkled with serious scenes so over the top that they do end up feeling a little silly to have there in the first place. It is definitely a shonen story through and through, and so if you are fans of this kind of silliness and over the top action with power escalations, then you’ll probably get a real kick out of this one, which doesn’t really let up on anything promised inside. (And as a bonus if you are actually enjoying [...]
Goodbye Parakeet, Good Night my Sista – Immediately after checking into the Kurosaki Clinic with a mysterious scar on his back, the muscle-bound Chad goes AWOL. Accompanying Chad is a talking parakeet imbued with the soul of a young boy named Yuichi. It doesn’t take newbie Soul Reaper Ichigo Kurosaki long to surmise that a Hollow must be involved – by far the strongest spirit he’s faced to date. Ichigo is about to discover that not every soul is bound for the Soul Society, especially if it’s tainted with innocent blood! Mangaka Tite Kubo is back with his huge hit Bleach in volume 2, continuing the almost non-stop action that saw off volume 1, with Chad being chased by an unseen foe, Ichigo and Rukia desperately trying to intervene and an underpowered Rukia going up against what is a very powerful Hollow, stalling him until Ichigo can first deal with his problems on the home front! However, there are a lot of pages in here, and following the first half we get thrown straight into the next arc, featuring a shady shop owner, modified souls, more back story on the Soul Society and yet another headache for Ichigo, one that is literally jumping out of his reach! Again Tite Kubo comes up with an enjoyable story, mixing all out intense action and “what happens next” moments with his trademark silly humour, to produce a thoroughly enjoyable story to take in. There is a fair bit of character development, more than [...]
The Iga clan and the Kouga clan have been sworn enemies for more than four hundred years. Only the Hanzo Hattori truce has kept the two families from all-out war. Now, under the order of Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa, the truce has finally been dissolved. Ten ninja from each clan must fight to the death in order to determine who will be the next Tokugawa Shogun. The surviving clan will rule for the next thousand years. But not all the clan members are in agreement. Oboro of the Iga clan and Gennosuke of the Kouga clan have fallen deeply in love. Now these star-crossed lovers have been pitted against each other. Can their romance conquer a centuries-old rivalry? Or is their love destined to end in death? Volume 1 throws us right into the middle of our first ninja battle, as Yashamaru of the Iga clan squares off against Shougen from the Kouga clan, pretty much letting us know what we are in for the rest of this battle-a-minute adaptation of Futaro Yamada’s 1958 novel. Writer/artist Masaki Segawa skillfully guides us through the story as he sets up all the elements necessary to spark the upcoming violence and then hits the accelerator as he unleashes all manner of fierce and grotesque ninja, each possessing some or other very strange and unexpected secret technique as the two clans battle it out for the main prize. The writing on Basilisk is very steady and very detailed, and Masaki ensures that you are onboard [...]
Craig Lotter is an established web developer and application programmer, with strong creative urges (which keep bursting out at the most inopportune moments) and a seemingly insatiable need to love all things animated. Living in the beautiful coastal town of Gordon's Bay in South Africa, he games, develops, takes in animated fare, trains under whichever martial arts dojo is closest at the time, and for the most part, simply enjoys life with his amazing wife and daughter.
Oh, and he draws ever now and then too.
This is a collection of things that he has managed to find the time to scribble down since 2007.
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