Tag Archives: ken akamatsu

A.I. Love You (Volume 1) Manga | My Reviews 28 FEB 2009

AI Love YouBehind every great man is a great artificial intelligence.

Hitoshi Kobe is a poor student, a bad athlete and may be the unluckiest man alive… though he does have a knack for creating Artificial Intelligences. Number Thirty is Hitoshi’s favorite A.I. And the only girl he can talk to. If a freak accident can turn Thirty into a real girl, can Thirty turn Hitoshi into a real man?

A bit of a geek, a bit of a loser, Hitoshi Kobe doesn’t exactly have all that much going for him, apart from his skill behind a computer keyboard. Creating artificial intelligences is his passion and he is surprisingly good at it… though even he didn’t realise just how good that actually is!

A freak electrical mishap and his favourite A.I. out of them all comes to life and the relationship they shared in the digital world now spills over to the real world – and often with the most comedic of results! The time is now to learn and teach about life, love and all the good things in life…

Thus starts the very unconventional pairing of a girl who talks to machines and who shouldn’t even exist in this world and a boy who already struggles to interact with society but who now has to learn how to deal with a woman – even if she isn’t quite so real to the rest of us.

Most manga fans by now would have heard the name Ken Akamatsu, the man behind the hugely popular Love Hina franchise and now more recently the Negima! phenomenon, but most people haven’t really come into contact with his earlier work, work done before Western fame struck him as hard as it did. A.I. Love You is one of his best known earlier works and thanks to Tokyopop, a whole new generation can get to grip with the output that started it all.

First off, it must be said that A.I. Love You has most certainly NOT dated well at all, in the most part thanks to the rapid advance in computer technology that we have experienced over the last couple of years. To read this book you have to pretend you know nothing of computers or even the technical world for that matter, that’s how bad it seriously is.

However, that said, stripping the technology out of the equation leaves us with a fairly bog standard young romance comedy scenario about a unexperienced, naiïve boy and his interactions with a beautiful, willing girl. The writing isn’t particularly clever and the humour and situations quite often come off more forced than natural, making A.I. Love You quite the chore to read through at times. The drama is a little overdone at times as well and while the book will have you giggling every now and then, the lack of a fun flow really pulls the story down just that little.

It’s not bad per say, but it certainly isn’t particularly good which means that average seems about the best way to describe both the story and writing ability on this one then.

Artistically, it is very interesting to see where Akamatsu was before he developed his cute, ultra effective style that won him over so many fans for Love Hina, and although A.I. Love You doesn’t look overly bad, one can see that this is very much Akamatsu’s earlier, more unrefined work. There is however certainly a lot of good background detail stuffed into his panels and the trademark, little bit on the naughty side, female form outlines for which he is so famous for makes a strong appearance as well.

Overall, A.I. Love You is certainly nothing special and can quite comfortably be skipped by the more discerning manga readers out there, but if you are a big fan of Akamatsu then this is a very good peek into what the man was doing before he reached his current point of expertise – and that in itself makes A.I. Love You worth looking into then.

(But remember. Pretend you know nothing about computers at all. Seriously. I mean it!)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A.I._Love_You

Fresh Delivery Manga | My Life 29 OCT 2008

Ooh, so with all the Terry Pratchett novels and comic books courtesy of the Gotham Comics bundles that Pick ‘n Pay has brought in, I haven’t gotten around to spending much of my ‘free time’ on manga as of late, one of those particular vices that I just can’t seem to get enough of.

However, that is all set to change thanks to a welcome delivery at my house this morning from Berco Delivery Services. At last my hastily placed Kalahari.net order had arrived, and indeed, there was MUCH goodness inside.

(And just in time too, seeing as my home Internet just got capped, the first time ever since signing up with Telkom!)

First up is Deus Vitae volume 1 (by Takuya Fujima), the back slip of which reads: In the year 2068, the Brain Computer – built by humans to be the core of a machine-driven Earth – created Selenoids, androids with abilities far superior to man. They have, in turn, created a virtually perfect society, with only one flaw in need of elimination: humans! This is the story of Ash Ramy, one of the few surviving humans in the Revolution Organisation, bent on freeing Earth from Selenoid rule, and Lemiu Winslet, a Selenoid horrified by the inhumanity her race possesses. In a world of artificiality, is real love mankind’s last hope?

Next is The Candidate for Goddess volume 1 (by Yukiru Sugisaki), which reads: G.O.A. Wants YOU! One thousand years ago, four planetary systems were utterly destroyed by an alien force. Since then, humans have moved into space colonies and developed humanoid weapons known as Goddesses to defend their last remaining home planet. Five young boys are caught up in the drive to provide worthy pilots for the defence program and must learn to overcome their differences for their sake, and the sake of all mankind.

And lastly, A.I. Love You volume 1 (by Ken Akamatsu), the back slip of which reads: Behind every great man is a great artificial intelligence. Hitoshi Kobe is a poor student, a bad athlete and may be the unluckiest man alive… though he does have a knack for creating Artificial Intelligences. Number Thirty is Hitoshi’s favourite A.I. and the only girl he can talk to. If a freak accident can turn Thirty into a real girl, can Thirty turn Hitoshi into a real man?

Oh man, I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into these! :)

AI Love You1 Deus Vitae1 Candidate for Goddess1

Negima!: Magister Negi Magi (Volume 7) Manga | My Reviews 03 OCT 2008

Negima Volume 7It’s Training Time! After their adventures on a school trip to Kyoto, you’d think that Negi and his students would want to rest. But now that they’re back at Mahora Academy, relaxation is pretty low on the list! First there are Asuna’s dreams, which hint at a deeper relationship between Negi and his father of which she is unaware. Then Negi starts a quest to improve his abilities. To do this, the teacher will need to become a student – and Negi’s students will become his teachers.

Ku Fei is a master of every martial art imaginable, but can she teach Negi the skill he needs to survive? And there’s only one magic user at Mahora Academy with abilities that surpass Negi’s own. Dark Evangeline might train him, but only at a price – and does Negi really want to be Evangeline’s personal slave?!

Negima!: Magister Negi Magi tells the story of young Negi Springfield, a ten year old wizard from Wales who dreams of one day becoming an all-powerful ‘Master Mage’ and at the same time find out the truth behinds his father’s mysterious disappearance – the legendary Master Mage who was once known as “The Thousand Master”!

After graduating from the Merdiana Magic Academy in Wales, young Negi gets posted as an English teacher to the Mahora Academy – the only problem now is that this young 10 year old is in charge of 31 boisterous (and older) teenage girls… and each one of them is very ‘special’ in their own way. Life at the academy is tough as Negi continues to pursue his goal of becoming a Master Mage and trying to solve the mystery behind his father’s disappearance – as well as befriend all his students and deal with magic attacks from both within and out of the academy!

Volume 7 sees Negi and the girls return from their rather eventful school trip and now Negi is left with some intriguing questions thanks to the clues as to his father’s whereabouts gleaned from the trip. However, there is also the realization that in order to continue on his quest and protect those under his authority, Negi will have to become stronger and therefore he seeks out top martial arts student Ku Fei in order to teach him kung fu in the hopes to increase his physical prowess. And with the teacher and student roles already swapped, there is one other student whose abilities Negi wants to tap into – that being the mischievous and seemingly all powerful Dark Evangeline! However, unfortunately for Negi, she’s not exactly thrilled at the idea of her would be student already studying kung fu under Ku Fei in the first place!

At the same time the energetic but too playful Makie has to deal with the fact that she may not make the national rhythmic gymnastics competition without some proper motivation, and poor old Negi also has to deal with a huge argument that has erupted between him and Asuna thanks to a rather big misunderstanding – though if the class president has her way then this may be the perfect chance to steal Negi away to a small isolated island for her own shot at happiness!

Too bad though: where one girl goes, all girls will follow – especially if it’s the ocean and the perfect weather for some fun in the sun, and splashing around in the waves!

The man behind Negima! is none other than the super popular creator of Love Hina and A.I. Love You, Ken Akamatsu, who continues his tradition of drawing uber cute young female characters that tend to expose a lot of flesh, take a lot of hot spring baths and flash panties as much as possible while they’re at it!

With the action packed school trip now behind us, volume 7 gears it down a notch and we get a more romantic-comedy driven story to enjoy, with a dash of intrigue thrown in as well as a little bit of drama between Negi and Asuna just for fun. The story reinforces the ‘many girls, one boy’ nature of the story and therefore there is quite a lot of fun to be had with the various interactions of all the girls after the cute little Negi. Oh, and of course there is the obligatory fight action that is almost a requirement in any Negima! book, though rest assured it won’t take up too much of the story.

There is a lot less focus on magic in this volume and a lot more ecchi-like humour that is sure to appeal to fans of Akamatsu’s work and in general the story makes for quite an enjoyable, light-hearted read with a feel good ending provided right at the end of the volume which makes the whole thing worth reading in the first place.

Visually, Ken’s artwork is as cute as always, with his well proportioned and extremely pretty girl figures stealing the show for the most part. As per usual his panels are all very clean with well defined brush strokes, and his masterful use of screentone is top notch as always. His pages tend to be very busy, with smaller panels and a lot of background detail, making each and every page a visual masterpiece but leaving the book sometimes feeling a little long to get through in places thanks to all this tiny detail. His backgrounds are as fantastic as ever and his grasp and depiction of actions sequences work well – though sometimes his overly cute faces seem a little out of place when the going gets a bit heavy.

Negima! is as good as what you are going to get from the master Ken Akamatsu and fans of his art style are sure to enjoy this volume. The story is fun and contains enough ‘oomph’ to remain intriguing, and the hi-jinks and escapades of the various guy-hungry girls after the clueless 10 year-old Negi provides a lot of light humour, romantic touches and the whole thing just makes for a generally enjoyable read.

There’s a fair bit of drama and not so much magic in this one, but Negima! volume 7 continues the good work laid out in the previous tomes and is therefore well worth picking up on.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negima

Negima!: Magister Negi Magi (Volume 6) Manga | My Reviews 08 AUG 2008

Negima Volume 6Kidnapped in Kansai! The chaotic class trip continues as Negi Springfield and his thirty-one beautiful female students explore the historic cities of Kyoto and Nara. Negi’s special headache is Konoka, the headmaster’s granddaughter, who turns out to have her own magical abilities! Although she’s not aware of them, others certainly are… and Konoka is kidnapped by a group of wizards who plan to corrupt her budding talents. Negi is going to need all the help he can get – even if it comes from a former foe…

Negima!: Magister Negi Magi tells the story of young Negi Springfield, a ten year old wizard from Wales who dreams of one day becoming an all-powerful ‘Master Mage’ and at the same time find out the truth behinds his father’s mysterious disappearance – the legendary Master Mage who was once known as “The Thousand Master”!

After graduating from the Merdiana Magic Academy in Wales, young Negi gets posted as an English teacher to the Mahora Academy – the only problem now is that this young 10 year old is in charge of 31 boisterous (and older) teenage girls… and each one of them is very ‘special’ in their own way. Life at the academy is tough as Negi continues to pursue his goal of becoming a Master Mage and trying to solve the mystery behind his father’s disappearance – as well as befriend all his students and deal with magic attacks from both within and out of the academy!

Volume 6 of Negima! continues the school field trip storyline and as the conclusion of the previous volumes misadventures comes to an abrupt conclusion in the early pages of this volume, we are immediately thrown into the thick of things as a new threat arises and captures Konoka – setting the stage for a non-stop action fiesta that continues right up until the very end of the book! Almost everyone who joined Negi on the field trip is involved in the battle, including the surprise appearance of some very unexpected faces!

The man behind Negima! is none other than the super popular creator of Love Hina and A.I. Love You, Ken Akamatsu, who continues his tradition of drawing uber cute young female characters that tend to expose a lot of flesh, take a lot of hot spring baths and flash panties as much as possible while they’re at it!

Ken’s story for this particular outing is pretty much all action from the get go. The first chapter sets the stage for pretty much the rest of the volume as the story concentrates on an all out magical battle that ends up involving more than just a few main characters. There aren’t too many plot twists or surprises, but Ken manages to switch between the serious and comical tones at a fluid rate and his well researched magical spells and attacks deserves a serious amount of praise. There is a fair bit of character development that takes place thanks to all the fighting that goes on and it is nice to have some of the relationships between the various characters explored in a little more depth. And while the volume is all pretty much action all the way through, Ken doesn’t pull a cheap shot and leave us hanging, instead he concludes events and ends off with a satisfying end to this particular story arc.

On the visual front, Ken continues his very busy art style with copious use of shading and backgrounds which makes every single page bustle with details. And while Negima is ‘cute’ looking all by himself, Ken’s real forte is super cute girls and he struts his stuff with a practised hand, delivering some of the cutest shots you could ever ask for. Of course, being Akamatsu he does put a LOT of fan service material in for the boys as well, so just be aware of that. Liberal use of exaggerated faces and figures also plays a big part of course and it must be said that Negima certainly does look good, but I must admit that I do have one or two reservations about the art for Negima. One, the extremely busy pages sometimes slows the rate of reading just a little, and two, the innate cuteness of his characters doesn’t really work all that well in a serious battle setting where characters are actually trying to kill each other.

Nevertheless, one can’t REALLY fault the book in any way as Negima is a fun read that does look good, features plenty of cute girls to oogle at, and happens to tell a fairly solid story, all while managing to be both serious and comical at the same time. And with all that already said, there’s still place for all the romances, love triangles and romantic comedy that Ken is already famous for! Just consider this the complete Ken Akamatsu package and leave it at that.

To sum it up, Negima!: Magister Negi Magi Volume 6 is a polished and exciting presentation that fans of Ken Akamatsu are sure to INSTANTLY fall in love with! If you are already a fan, pick it up. If not, try pick it up anyway and see – you just may like it! :)

Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negima

Love Hina (Volume 1) Manga | My Reviews 23 MAR 2008

Love HinaWhen Keitaro Urashima fails his entrance exams to get into Tokyo University for the second time, he’s officially an unemployed and uneducated slacker. To make things worse, his parents have kicked him out of his house. Fortunately, his grandmother owns the fabulous Hinata House and Keitaro is going to be the new caretaker. What he doesn’t know is the lodge is actually a girls’ dorm and he’s the only guy around! Most guys would kill to live with five cute girls, but if Keitaro’s not careful, this job will kill him.

It has basically been 10 years since mangaka Ken Akamatsu unleashed his unbelievably popular Love Hina manga upon us and to this day it remains as one of the most popular harem genre titles ever. Thanks to the anime’s worldwide success, there is guaranteed to be almost no otaku who hasn’t heard of the Love Hina universe before.

Love Hina Volume 1 is where it all began and this volume introduces us to the loser ronin Keitaro, a boy with probably the worst luck (and student ability) in the world. Of course, seeing as he is our hapless hero, a lucky break does come along his way every now and then, but usually only after he has been beaten up, humiliated and completely trod into the ground – which is usually at the hands of the five girls he now shares the Hinata inn with. In this volume Keitaro uninvitedly moves into Hinata house, has his first disastrous interactions with Naru Narusegawa, completely embarrasses and then tries to win back Shinobu’s trust and then finds out firsthand the dangerous consequences of messing with Motoko and her sword.

Essentially this is a romantic comedy at heart, but it is heavily disguised as a no-holds barred comedy with a lot of physical and situational comedy and often features completely absurd elements and physics to drive home an almost ridiculous comedy element. It tends to lean more towards the humorous than dramatic in the storytelling department, but Ken effortlessly switches between story tones through the book and there are more than enough emotional scenes to satisfy any girl or mature guy reading it.

The story is sweet and fun, and guaranteed to keep you laughing from the first to the last page as Keitaro stumbles from one hilariously embarrassing situation to the next. This is a harem genre story with a major twist – none of the females living with him actually like him!

On the art front, Ken has always been known for his super cute female characters and in Love Hina he certainly doesn’t disappoint – something that probably directly contributed to the series’ success in the first place. His characters are instantaneously likeable and his constant switching from real world to the ridiculous and highly exaggerated in his art style comes across as highly entertaining and helps bring about a lot of the humour in the story. Exaggerated facial expressions are probably the most striking aspect of his work and you’ll quickly see that he is indeed a master at portraying character emotion with almost no effort at all.

His linework is pretty clean and his backgrounds (when he decides to put them in) are pretty good looking. Good use of half-tone patterns and effective, simple lines make this manga easy on the eyes and will keep you turning page after page.

Love Hina is one of those classic manga works that every Otaku should make an effort to pick up and get in contact with, even if you aren’t a huge fan of the harem genre in the first place. It’s a little naughty in places but nothing lewd or ecchi and is genuinely one of the funnier titles you will ever lay hands on.

A recommended piece of work and a classic in the manga world without a doubt.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Hina