Tag Archives: Manga

Review: Naruto (Volume 46) (2009)

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 more than powered up just a little!

This is an action-packed, exciting volume that will no doubt appeal to all Naruto fans, or to anyone who enjoys some good Shonen fighting action.

Combined with Kishimoto’s detailed and expressive pencils that keep your eyes glued to the page for longest of times, Naruto volume 46 is well worth the read if you are an action manga fan!

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

Review: Bleach (Volume 28)

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 will first have to overcome the equally powerful disgraced Arrancars, the Privaron Espadas!

It’s the usual mix of over the top drama, action, extreme abilities and surprise reveals, all masterfully blended in with Kube’s signature silly humour to produce a thoroughly entertaining, easy reading and satisfying Shonen tale to lose one’s self in. In other words, all the basics that makes Bleach as big a hit as what it currently is.

In the same vein, Kube’s art is as action packed and stylized as always, portraying an excellent sense of emotion, speed and power to his visuals, with tight pencils and some really good frame layouts. The characters all look spectacular, even if a little angular and as always the action sequences come across really well.

All in all, Bleach volume 28 is as entertaining a read as the rest of the volumes before it, satisfying anyone looking for a nice action-packed, hero-centric story to sit down a lose a hour or two to!

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bleach_%28manga%29

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Cosplay: Jolyne Kujo (Pamela Colnaghi)

Jolyne Kujo is a fictional character from the Japanese manga JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. Jolyne is the main heroine of Series 6 and is the daughter of the third arc’s hero, Jotaro Kujo, also notable for being the only female “JoJo” to date.

Italian cosplayer Pamela Colnaghi handles the necessary dressing down in order to dress up for this great Joylne cosplay.

Born to Jotaro Kujo and her unnamed mother in Florida, Jolyne Kujo is the sixth generation Joestar in the Joestar bloodline. Her childhood was often spent with the absence of her father, and it was often that Jotaro was mostly at work, even when Jolyne was in need of the most attention. At 14, her life as a teen would spiral downward on then upon being mistaken for a suspect in a robbery she didn’t commit and fleeing from an officer by stealing a motorcycle. Upon being arrested and detained in a holding cell, falsely charged with the crime, she and her mother pleaded her innocence and even begged Jotaro to bail her out, but in the end, did not believe her, sending Jolyne to juvenile detention.

When her mother divorced Jotaro, she became even more frustrated when he left the family, and soon joined the Hell Riders motorcycle/carjacking gang and spent more time getting into more trouble. At 19, having cleaned her act and left the gang, during her senior year of high school, she went on a date after school with a preppy rich boy named Romeo. Upon driving home, Romeo and Jolyne had gotten into a car accident, Romeo having fatally hit a pedestrian. Worried that he may be charged with reckless driving and dropped from a university’s waiting list for the incident, Romeo decided to take the corpse and dump it somewhere, also persuading Jolyne to help him and forget about the entire incident.

Jolyne’s Stand is known as Stone Free, which gives Jolyne the power to unravel herself. Ironically, whenever she moves away from the stand it unravels. At first she is only able to send a string from her fingertip and felt intense pain if it snapped. It also featured the ability to listen to faraway conversations, similar to a can tied to string. Later, she can unravel up to 70 percent of her entire body into a string and quickly reassemble herself. She can also “cut” her string form and make it independent from her body. Jolyne also develops the ability to stitch her wounds together. Like Jotaro, Jolyne also cries, “Ora, Ora!” while pummeling with her fists. Her stand, though perhaps not the strongest, is praised for being both extremely quick and flexible.

Jolyne, unlike her father, is not a naturally awakened stand user. She received her stand when she was cut by an amulet (later to be revealed a Stand-creating stone arrowhead in disguise) given to her by Jotaro.

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Urusei Yatsura Cosplay: Benten (Unidentified)

Snapped at Comiket 2010 by photographer Charlee Chayatana, this unnamed Japanese cosplayer tackles Rumiko Takahashi’s space biker chick from her hit manga Urusei Yatsura, Benten!

Urusei Yatsura is a comedic manga series written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi that premiered in Weekly Sh┼Źnen Sunday in 1978 and ran until its conclusion in 1987. Its 374 individual chapters were collected and published in 34 tankobon volumes. The series tells the story of Ataru Moroboshi and the alien Lum, who believes she is Ataru’s wife after he accidentally proposes to her.

The series makes heavy use of Japanese mythology, culture and puns. The series was adapted into a TV anime series produced by Kitty Films and broadcast on Fuji Television affiliates from 1981 to 1986 over 195 episodes. Eleven original video animations and six theatrical movies followed, and the series has been released on VHS, Laserdisc and DVD in Japan.

Benten is Lum’s childhood friend. Her character is named after Shichifukujin Benzaiten (one of the Seven Lucky Gods), the Shinto goddess of knowledge, art, and beauty. This Benten is a “space biker chick” who wears a plate-mail bikini, sports a “butch” hair style, tears around the sky on a red airbike, curses like a longshoreman, and carries a high-tech bazooka. Her arrival on the scene is often heralded by artillery fire. She holds an annual battle against Lum’s Oni clan on Setsubun.

Aside from being a good hand-to-hand fighter and having the aforementioned bazooka, she appears to have no special powers. As children, Benten and Lum often instigated trouble that usually resulted in Ran getting hurt.

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Review: Fullmetal Alchemist (Volume 16) (2008)

In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armour. Equipped with mechanical “auto-mail” limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his and his brother’s bodies… the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

The brothers pursue fugitive May Chang to solve the mystery of why their alchemical powers were rendered inert while she and Scar continued to be able to wield them. Meanwhile, Scar enlists some unlikely help to delve into the secrets of his brother’s alchemical knowledge. And the newest, most horrifying homunculus makes an appearance…!

With Volume 15 being very much a history lesson and filling in some of the gaps surrounding the Ishbalan Civil War, it is nice to get back to the story proper with Volume 16, though be warned that for the most part this volume is pretty devoid of any real action. Rather the first half is carved up between three story threads, namely Eric and Al trying to track down some answers, Scar forcefully enlisting some help in his quest, and Colonel Mustang continuing to peel away the secrets of the military.

The second half changes location as the Elric brothers are sent North, where they encounter a few hostilities before getting quite the surprise with what will be their new home base for the next while. And entwined in amongst all of this is a rather epic battle between Scar and someone rather quite unexpected!

The last volume was pretty dark and heavy, and so it is nice to see Hiromu Arakawa lighten it up a little this time around with some of her enjoyable slapstick humour. At the same time though, this volume does read a little on the slow side, but as per usual she feeds us quite a lot of story points to digest, gives us a fair share of new mysteries and intrigues to mull over, never mind the rather big surprise reveal right at the end! Her artwork is the usual mix of slightly cartoony looking, simple line characters mixed in with excellently detailed backgrounds, and overall the visuals work quite well for the story being told.

In summary, volume 16 of Fullmetal Alchemist is definitely a slower than normal read and perhaps not quite as dark as some of the previous volumes, but it is most definitely packed with story and drives the tale of Ed and Al Elric along nicely, a definite step up from the previous volume.

In other words, fans of the series will thus certainly not have much to complain about with this one then!

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

Review: Naruto (Volume 3) (2004)

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 read that any action comedy Shonen fan will be sure to love.

Definitely a recommended way to spend a lazy afternoon!

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

Review: Samurai Deeper Kyo (Volume 16) (2002)

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 your interest for as long as it does, meaning that you’re probably going to find getting through this volume a lot more tedious than what Akimine would have hoped for.

The drama is depressingly heavy and there aren’t many laughs to be had here, but at the same time the over the top nature of the battle and what is being said leads to a lot of it feeling quite silly at times.

The artwork is okay I guess, standard pretty boy manga fare, with plenty of lines, action and a decent amount of detail. It won’t necessarily blow you away, but it certainly isn’t bad at all.

Overall, I didn’t really enjoy this one very much, on top of which I am now a little concerned as to what ludicrous depths Akimine will have to sink to with the next battle at the second gate in the next volume.

(Oh, never mind. He kind of gives us a good idea in the closing pages of this one: Panty-flashing, syringe throwing nurses. Right then…)

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

Review: Cowboy Bebop (Volume 2) (1999)

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 come across rushed and sometimes to stylistically forced – heck, there are times she’ll simply not draw in character faces for no reason other than it made sense to herself at the time to do so! So not pleasing on the art front either then.

In case you’re interested, here is a breakdown what is contained in Volume 2:

She’s a Rainbow: Rachel M. Kazuki, a reporter for MBC TV wants to do a feature on bounty hunters, or as she calls them “Outlaw heroes. Rebels on the edge of society.” Faye negotiates a deal with Rachel, allowing her to interview the crew of the Bebop for a price, but when a bounty comes up Rachel wants to be first on the scene.

Great Deceiver: When Jet’s old ISSP friend, Bob, gives the crew a lead on a new bounty it becomes a personal job for Faye. The perp is Linda Wise, the woman who taught Faye how to become a hustler and con artist. She used to say that the first rule of hustling was to “win your keep and move on.”

Bebop Special Short: Jet has a cold and no one knows how to cure him. Spike and Faye go searching for scallions on Earth to help Jet but instead they get chased through a swamp and catch colds on their own.

Thinking Bird, Happy Song: Jet takes Edward shopping for food but she gets hungry and tries to eat an old man’s pet bird in a marketplace. An assassin has been commissioned to kill the same old man but Edward foils his plans without realizing it.

Like a Rolling Stone: Spike goes to a wild west town and meets an enchanting guitar player named Allison who offers to help him find his next bounty: her deadbeat father.

Yup, that’s too many stories in one little book.

So the end result is that just like the first volume in this series, the short story format is just too weak, making the book less engaging and thus less interesting. If you want a Cowboy Bebop fix, rather go and re-watch the exceptional television series or excellent movie that started it all in the first place!

Not worth picking up, even if you are a die hard fan.

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

Review: Last Fantasy (Volume 5)

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 comedic value from the previous issues, it definitely is a lot less silly in tone thanks to the loads of action and anguish that drives the lion’s share of the story along. There is a lot of drama to be had, and as a whole, this is a really gripping finale to an enjoyable fantasy romp, one that doesn’t seem to have a problem mixing up as many genres as possible and to be frank, getting away with it.

On the artistic side of things, I have to say I really enjoyed Yong-Wan Kwon’s illustrations, with him coming up with some beautifully detailed and full panels, dripping with loads of line work, and with a knack of correctly capturing the mood of the panel based on what is happening in the text. His facial expressions all work, and he manages to capture all the dark and gritty action sequences just perfectly.

In other words, other than his sometimes tiny waists that he puts on his characters, very little to complain about!

In summary, volume 5 brings with it a great end to an enjoyable little comedy fantasy romp, featuring great art and not so bad writing. It’s a pity that the main action is over two thirds into the book, but I guess it could have been worse – they could have just left it unpadded and thus leave you with a much lower page count in your hands!

So worth a read if you are looking for a break from Japanese manga and American superhero comic books, and are in particular a fan of sword and sorcery based fantasy, mixed with a splash of comedy of course.

Related Link: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/manga.php?id=5955

Review: Switch (Volume 5)

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 or b) aren’t existing hardcore fans of the Naked Ape group.

In terms of the art, I originally thought that this was aimed squarely at the girls, what with all the pretty boy designs and hairstyles, and to be honest, it does often feel like I’m reading more of a shojo story than a shonen story (which it is being punted as).

The action sequences are particularly poorly done in that they are often quite confusing and it is not always clear what is happening. That said, the line work is very clean and quite often the facial expressions of the characters are well done, but unfortunately this is let down by inconsistencies in the level of panel detail presented (sometimes great, sometimes not), as well as some pretty poor proportions and background renderings at times.

Overall, I find it difficult to recommend Switch to anyone other than girls who like pretty boys in black and white, meaning that for me, this book was a loss. The story didn’t capture me and the artwork turned me off, meaning I can’t be too bothered into looking at the rest of the series still to come.

Meh, leave it at the bottom of the pile where you found it then.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switch_%28manga%29