To All The Corners of the World vol. 1-3 Story & Art by Fumiyo Kouno
When a mysterious man proposes to Suzu and she accepts her life changes forever. As Suzu settles into her daily life in her new home tragedy strikes. A cautionary tale about war is about too unfold.
Serialized in the seinen(men's) comic anthology Manga Action, To All the Corners of the World is at times heartwarming at others tragic. Kouno develops her characters very well feeling not only sympathetic but also real as well.
A great deal of effort went into establishing the era and setting. The artwork is incredibly lush with detail. In conclusion To All the Corners of the World is an incredible work from beginning to end. Highly recommended!
To All the Corners of the World is available in English from JManga.
Saturday, 15 December 2012
Twilight: The Graphic Novel vol. 1 & 2 Story by Stephenie Meyer, Art & Adaptation by Young Kim
When she moves to the town of forks, Bella quickly encounters Edward. As time passes, both she and Edward fall in love. However as she comes to know him she discovers he has many secrets. What awaits Bella as she falls in love with Edward?
Based on a popular novel by the same name: Twilight: the Graphic Novel suffers from many several flaws. To its credit, the books are printed on a very high quality paper and feature gorgeous artwork. However the backgrounds often appear as if they were simply a photograph and the dialogue balloons are frequently transparent becoming frustratingly difficult to read.
The character designs for both lead characters are done with incredible detail it’s clear much effort went into this comic’s art in that respect. The plot seems almost non-existent I the first volume and in the second book the story is thin at best. The romance suffers from a seriously misogynistic perspective on love and thus fails as a good romance as well. The supporting cast receives little development as well. In conclusion Twilight: the Graphic Novel fails as both a romance comic and even moreso as a story.
Twilight: The Graphic Novel is available in North America in print from Yen Press.
Friday, 14 December 2012
Limit vol. 1 story and art by Keiko Suenobu
Mizuki lived a rather ordinary life until what should have been an ordinary school trip goes horribly awry. When the bus crashes and Mizuki is among the only five survivors a fight for survival begins. How will Mizuki and the other survivors survive until help arrives.
Serialized in the shojo (girl’s) comic anthology Bessatsu Friend, Limit grabs hold of the reader from the first page. The story is gripping each step of the way. While the central plot is a survival thriller the title also deals with the theme of bullying in both a sensitive and realistic way. The entire cast is sympathetic on several levels.
Suenobu has created a scenario which is portrayed realistically; the chcracters behave in a very real manner which adds to the sense of realism. Yet at the same time the plot never loses grip of the reader. The first volume also boasts gorgeous, detailed art. All in all reading Limit is incredible experience deserving nothing short of the highest praise.
Limit is available in North America in print from Vertical.
Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Paradise Kiss vol. 1 story & Art by Ai Yazawa
Yukari lived an average life until the day she entered Paradise Kiss. That day, her life would change forever, as she delves into the world of fashion. For Yukari, a new journey is about to unfold and along the way she meets several quirky individuals most notably bad boy George. What awaits for Yukari in the world of fashion that is Paradise Kiss?
Serialized in the Josei (women’s) comic anthology Zipper in Japan, Paradise Kiss explores Yukari’s journey through the world of fashion. The entire cast is interesting and well developed featuring memorable characters and countless memorable moments. It is a title really anyone could enjoy and relate too. The protagonist Yukari comes across as a flawed yet relatable person as do all the characters.
The title also sports a gorgeous artwork which is to be expected from Yazawa. The pacing is perfect: not a panel is wasted. The series strikes the perfect balance between gut-busting humour and coming-of-age drama. All-in-all Paradise Kiss is an excellent title which remains with the reader well after the final page.
Paradise Kiss is available in North America in print from Vertical.
Wednesday, 14 November 2012
Biomega vol. 1-6 story and art by Tsutomu Nihei
When the N5S virus, which effectively turns humans into zombies, begins to spread synthetic human Zoichi must enter an infected area. Alongside his artificial intelligence companion Fuyu, Zoichi must embark on a journey. A science fiction epic begins!
Serialized in the seinen (young men) Ultra Jump comic anthology in Japan, Biomega is filled with gorgeously elaborate artwork from beginning to end. It Is clear Nihei spent much time and effort into creating this series. The imagery is incredible as well; this series is truly a visual spectacle. However, the series suffers in several other regards.
First the character designs often appear very similar for the human characters. This was one of several aspects which made Biomega difficult to follow. With an incredibly elaborate world filled with abstract imagery and a plot which moves so quickly there were points in Biomega that even the characters themselves expressed confusion for what was going on. I found that as the series progressed I was receiving more questions than answers. There were large expanses of time where I had zero idea what was even occurring.
In conclusion Biomega is nice to look at but suffers from being far too complicated. Admittedly, the world itself is fascinating and I sincerely hope a book is released explaining the Biomega universe. Recommended for those who enjoy science fiction but for those whose interests lie elsewhere you may want to skip this one.
Biomega is available in print and digitally from Viz Media.
Sunday, 4 November 2012
Higurashi When They Cry Beyond Midnight Arc Vol. 1 & 2 Story by Ryukishi 07 Art by Mimori
Hinamizawa: a long abandoned, remote village shrouded in mystery. When Otobe awakens in a forest near he soon comes across sword-wielding Mion. Things continue spiral outward into the bizarre and it will be up to Otobe and his new companions to piece it all together.
Based on the Higurashi visual novel (text driven video games) franchise and serialized in Monthly G Fantasy. Higurashi When They Cry Beyond Midnight Arc is part of a much larger series of comics yet prior familiarity with the franchise is certainly not necessary. The work does well on its own.
The artwork is eye-pleasing as well as distinct and the story flows well. The title is impossible to put down once started being filled with constant twists and turns yet never to the point of excess. The cast is well developed. In conclusion the title is well-crafted and the perfect blend of mystery and horror.
Higurashi When They Cry Beyond Midnight Arc is available in North America in print from Yen Press and digitally from Square Enix.
Saturday, 29 September 2012
Takagamahara Chapters 1-8, Story and Art by Jyuuzou Kawai
Yamato Yamada has a dream: to become a published comic artist. His ambitions will have to bare are placed on hold, however, one day when he beats the local gang leader with his previously non-existent super strength. What is the source of Yamato’s newly awakened powers?
Serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump comic anthology in Japan and in North America in Viz Media’s Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha Takagamahara is simultaneously campy fun and largely unspectacular. The series seems to be a homage to American superhero comics which in itself is at least worth trying the series out. On the other hand the series is not without it’s issues.
The protagonist is generic incarnate both visually and personality wise and the cast in general is largely uninteresting. There is also an incredibly bizarre Hulk imitation as the antagonist in one story arc. Yet all-in-all the series is fun. The concept is original though I don’t see much in the way of a plot developing but the fight scenes are blood-pumping and the art quickly started to grow on me. In the end, I suppose, Takagamahara is a guilty pleasure type of series. It may not be a masterpiece but it sure is a heck of a lot of fun!
Takagamahara is presently only available through Viz Media’s digital only Weekly Shonen Jump anthology in North America.
Sunday, 19 August 2012
Big Windup! Season 1 Directed by Tsutomu Mizushima, Produced by A-1 Pictures
Having transferred schools, Mihashi promptly sets out to become part of his new school’s newly formed baseball team. Quickly, he catches the eye of the team’s catcher Abe. However, while Abe feels Mihashi has potential to become a great pitcherhe must first deal with Mihashi’s personality and mysterious past. Will he succeed or fail?
This show lives and dies with the viewer’s passion for baseball. It you’re passionate about it and love the idea of it being combined with the medium of animation you might enjoy this show. If, however, you are like me and are completely disinterested in baseball this show will do little to change that. Big Windup! adapts Asa Higuchi’s sports comic of the same name which ran in Kodansha’s Afternoon comic anthology in Japan.
To the show’s credit it has a very organic feel to it from the ways the characters think and act to the colour palette used. That being said the baseball games themselves drag on for ungodly long periods of time. The second (and final) game is the worst offender spanning eleven episodes of the 26 episode first season. Even the first game feels slightly too dragged out at five episodes. The amount of detail the series goes into for both games is nigh maddening. In the second game it goes so far as to practically give the thoughts behind all the involved players of a certain action at any point in time.
The series main problem however is its own protagonist. Mihashi is grating on the nerves (and the ears) of those around him and the viewer. While he makes for an interesting character his introverted personality results in his many, many inner monologues grating on the viewer. It is also difficult to identify oneself with a character whose so erratic.
If the series had been edited to roughly half its run time and the viewer was allowed to infer more this rather than each detail being so thoroughly explained this may have been a truly great show. However, while the title succeeded well enough in Japan to warrant a second season in North America Funimation (the company which dubbed and distributed the title in the United States and Canada) publicly announced it sold poorly for them that they would not release anymore of the series or any other titles in its genre.
Big Windup! is available digitally and on home video in North America from Funimation.
Sunday, 12 August 2012
Jormungand vol. 2 & 3, Story and Art by Keitaro Takahashi
Jonah, Koko, and the rest of the crew’s exploits continue. Get ready for one bullet crazy adventure! One question remains however: Will our heroes survive?
It speaks volumes about a series when one of the most memorable things in a book is the one character’s-lack-of-underwear subplot which is played straight. The only other notable area in these books is Jonah’s long overdue backstory which appears in the third volume. Jormungand remains by-and-large a forgettable title.
Those in search of adrenaline filled titles will be satisfied but anyone looking for substance of any kind really will be sorely disappointed. Even the adrenaline moments feel meaningless because there is practically zero emotional attachment to the characters. One point in this series favour, though, is how stylish it is but even that will not be enough to keep readers interested.
Jormungand is available in print format from Viz Media.
Friday, 10 August 2012
Oreimo episodes 1-12 Directed by Hiroyuki Kanbe, Produced by AIC Build
Kyousuke was living a relatively ordinary life. That is until the day he discovers one of his sister’s, Kirino’s, deepest secrets… Will Kyousuke be able to keep Kirino’s secret double life as an otaku from others?
An adaptation of a light novel (the closest western equivalent I can think of to light novels is YA Novels) by Tsukasa Fushimi. Oreimo is easily one of the most accessible titles I’ve seen when it comes to animation geared towards Otaku. The fan service is kept to a minimum and the characters are on some level relatable.
The title also has a much more organic feel than most titles in the genre which typically trend towards being ludicrously over the top. The title is also gorgeous visually as well complete with visually appeasing character designs and fluid animation. The more I watched the more apparent it became that much care and attention went into creating this title.
Oreimo is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Crackle, the title is available on home video from Aniplex USA
Tuesday, 31 July 2012
Jormungand vol. 1 Story and Art by Keitaro Takahashi
Koko, a weapon’s merchant, hires former child soldier Jonah as part of her crew. Many adventures await for the pair as well as the rest of Koko’s crew. An adrenaline-pumping journey in which gunshots and explosions are abounded begins!
Serialized in Monthly Sunday Gene-X, Jormungand is brimming to the seams with action. However even those who enjoy titles in a similar vein of Hollywood action titles will not be pleased. The reader is given little reason to care for these characters who seem perfectly fine (or in some cases glee in) killing. Thus far the majority of the cast seems underdeveloped.
The result is a title in which the explosions have no meaning. There’s literally zero tension and the reader has zero reason to care whether the characters live or die. Jormungand has one bright side however and that is in the slick artwork and action scenes which for now is enough to keep me reading.
Jormungand is available in print format from Viz Media.
Wednesday, 4 July 2012
Inu Boku Secret Service episodes 1-12 Directed by Naokatsu Suda, Produced by David Production
Ririchyo has always had difficulties becoming closer to those around her, a problem due in no small part to the cruel words she says. However these words are often the farthest thing from how she truly feels. A mysterious man named Soshi appears and proclaims himself as her dog who sees through her façade. Can Soshi bring out Ririchiyo’s true self?
Animated in Japan, Inu Boku is, if nothing else, easy on the eyes. The character designs are appealing for both male and female characters. The story is at it’s best when focusing on Ririchiyo’s internal conflicts which are fascinating on their own.
The rest of the cast however, feels largely like one note gags for most of the series run and the humour often falls flat. Super deformed art is used far too often though it can be amusing at times. For most of the show’s run the plot meanders this changes in the last few episodes but by this point the audience has long stopped caring. All in all Inu Boku Secret Service is dull and forgettable. Skip it.
Inu Boku Secret Sevice is streaming on Crunchyroll and The Anime Network with a home video release scheduled for release by Sentai Filmworks in North America.
Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Nonnonba Story and Art by Shigeru Mizuki
Shige spends his days playing soldier and with his brothers. Though his world may be constantly changing, however, there is always one constant: the titular Nonnonba and her tales of the yokai. Experience a world of magic and wonder!
Shigeru Mizuki’s tale is, if nothing else, fascinating seamlessly blurring the line between fantasy and reality. Mizuki details his childhood in this sophisticated comic. While the protagonist is a child this is something recommended for a more mature audience due both tone and subject matter.
The story’s primary focus is on the drama within Mizuki’s family as well as the characters he meets. Mizuki’s artwork is distinct and memorable as are the characters. Accompanying the story is an article and notes providing information on Japanese culture to those unfamiliar as well as an article. All-in-all it is clear that much effort was put into the release of Nonnonba and it is quite clear why. This is easily a title worth recommending
Nonnonba is available in print in North America from Drawn & Quarterly.
Wednesday, 13 June 2012
Animal Man issue 1 Story by Jeff Lemire Colored by Lovern Kindzierski
As time has progressed, Buddy Baker has stepped away from a life fighting crime to be at home with his family and live a relatively normal life. This changes one day when he returns briefly to his life as a crime fighter but and finds his powers have gone awry. When he awakens from a nightmare that night he finds something strange has occurred in the real world.
Published by DC Comics in North America as part of The New 52, Animal Man looks and feels unique. Jeff Lemire’s writing breathes new life into a fascinating super hero. The story feels as if it can stand on its own without prior knowledge of the DC Universe going to great lengths to welcome new readers.
The psychological aspect of the story is by far the most fascinating part by far. If one complaint were to be made it would be the supporting characters seem a tad predictable. Nonetheless this is an easily recommendable read and a great start to an interesting series.
Animal Man is available digitally on Comixology and in print from DC Comics.
Tuesday, 12 June 2012
Kids on the Slope Episodes 1-9 directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, Produced by Mappa and Tezuka Productions
Set during the American occupation of Japan in the 1960s. As he was constantly moving Kaoru was always an outsider at the schools he attended, this all changes one day when he meets resident bad boy Sentaro. The two find a common interest in the form of jazz and thus a tale of friendship, romance, and music unfolds.
Running as part of Fuji TV’s Noitamina animation block in Japan, Kids on the Slope is an animated series which is truly a gem. It’s clear that so much love and effort was put into this series. Every beat, every motion contains purpose. This series is top notch every moment.
The art is gorgeous, the characters and plot are well written; it all flows together so seamlessly. The music, created by Yoko Kanno (who had previously worked on the Cowboy Bebop animated series with director Shinichiro Watanabe) is nothing short of breathtaking. Put this all together and you have an animated treasure.
Kids on the Slope is streaming on Crunchyroll and The Anime Network with a home video release from Sentai Filmworks to follow in the future.
Tuesday, 5 June 2012
Moehime Story and Art by Koito Akiyama
Tomoe, an identifying fujoshi (female comic geek in Japan) and daughter of a noble, is petrified of other people. One day while settling into her new home she encounters a group of yokai. Thus a tale begins of their wacky escapades.
Moehime is a light-hearted series and it is well aware of it. The characters are lovable and memorable and the plotline is fun. Most importantly however this series explores a subject matter which rarely appears in the west: fujoshi culture and it is all the more memorable for it.
While several comics arrive in the west from Japan exploring otaku (male comic geek in Japan) culture few series explore it’s aforementioned counterpart fujoshi culture with as much depth as this series does. Add-in the fact the historical setting of this title and you have a series well worth recommending!
Moehime is available on JManga
Monday, 4 June 2012
Barrage chapter 1 review Story and Art by Kouhei Horikoshi
Astro lived a relatively average life in the slums raising orphans while working for next to nothing. One day he loses his job and soon finds himself meeting Prince Barrage. From that point his life will change forever.
Serialized in the Japanese comic anthology Weekly Shonen Jump in Japan and it’s counterpart Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha in North America. Barrage sports excellent art reminiscent of Kazue Kato’s Blue Exorcist comic series. Thus far it appears to be a fun adventure. The protagonist appears to be your average shonen (boys’) comic protagonist (the delinquent with a heart of gold trope).
As of now I believe Barrage is off to an excellent start. I anticipate future chapters and am curious to see how the story progresses.
Barrage is available only through Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha
Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Beautiful Creatures chapter 1 review Story by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl Art by Cassandra Jean
Ethan was your ordinary teenage boy, one of the cool kids at that. One day a mysterious new girl arrives in town. Instantly labeled an outsider, Lena and Ethan quickly develop a deep bond. But there are mysteries in store for this pair….
Serialized in the Yen Plus comic anthology, Beautiful Creatures is a comic adaptation of a novel of the same name. Cassandra Jean breathes life into what could easily have been quite a generic story. The characters are relatively interesting but what really brings this story to life is the uniquely gorgeous art and tranquil pacing that brings to mind Japanese comic artist Natsume Ono.
The story has some interesting elements and the heroine is an intriguing character. The male lead, however, is largely unsympathetic coming off as bland. Nonetheless this is an excellent start and I await seeing what directions the story is taken in future chapters.
Beautiful Creatures is available through the Yen Plus comic anthology only.
Friday, 25 May 2012
Fallen Words Story and Art by Yoshihiro Tatsumi
One man keeps maintenance of a brothel, another finds himself keeping a mistress in secret from his wife, a man and his bratty son go to the market. Morality tales from the mind behind A Drifting Life.
If nothing else, Fallen Words is a fascinating experiment combining the concept of rakugo (a type of play very particular to Japanese culture) and the comics medium. The concept of morality tales for adults is interesting to say the least. These stories are definitely geared towards a mature audience as they frequently involve prostitution and infidelity.
This experiment is not without it’s problems however. It’s difficult to connect with the protagonists for the most part. The art certainly does not help matters feeling generally inexpressive. The stories also all end on a punchline which further detracts from the experience of reading this title. Fallen Words is somewhat enjoyable but ultimately forgettable.
Fallen Words is available in print from Drawn and Quarterly.
Sunday, 20 May 2012
Stargazing Dog Story and Art by Takashi Murakami
Hidden in a field are the dead body’s of a man and his dog. What led to their death’s? This is the story of a man, known only as Daddy and his dog Happie. A tragic tale of devotion and loss is about to unfold.
Serialized in the seinen (men’s) Manga Action comic anthology in Japan, Takashi Murakami’s Stargazing Dog is a true gem. Though the one-shot comic is not even 130 pages long it manages to tell a beautifully written narrative of a canine and his devotion to his unfortunate owner. Refreshingly, the story is told from Happie’s perspective which results in an even more fascinating tale.
To add to the intrigue, the story itself is a commentary on the state of society and it’s injustices towards unemployed individuals. Happie’s devotion to “Daddy” is at once heartening and tragic. Though Daddy has flaws the bond Happie and he share is heartwarming and the flaws (rather than being grating) allow him to be a more sympathetic character.
Ultimately, Stargazing Dog is a refreshing take on tales depicting bonds between humans and their canine companions. It is a story which will remain in one’s mind long after the final page is turned.Stargazing Dog is available in print from NBM Publishing and digitally on the JManga website
Wednesday, 16 May 2012
Mysterious Girlfriend X episode 1Directed by Ayumu Watanabe, produced by Studio Hoods Entertainment
When a mysterious transfer student named Mikoto appears at Akira’s school one day his classmates soon begin avoiding her due to her eccentric behaviour. One day when Akira wakes up Mikoto while she is drooling over her desk in her sleep he takes it upon himself to taste her drool. Soon after Mikoto visits Akira at home while he’s at home sick and informs him that he’s going through withdrawal of her drool which is causing his ailing state. Thus begins a romantic-comedy like no other.
In case the plot summary was not clear this is a spit fetish show. Words cannot begin to describe the disgust one may feel while viewing this show. If you wish to squirm uncomfortably while watching something then this is the show for you.
For everyone else stay away… stay FAR, FAR AWAY from this baffling show. To the show’s credit it does have some things going for it: the character designs look like nothing else out there and some of the imagery in the show is breathtaking. However these aspects of the show are overshadowed by scenes such as saliva erupting from Mikoto’s mouth or the parallel made between saliva and honey.
Mysterious Girlfriend X is streaming on Crunchyroll and The Anime Network with a home video release from Sentai Filmworks to follow in the future.
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Dengeki Daisy vol. 1 Story and Art by Kyousuke Motomi
Teru has many troubles to deal with from being dirt poor to being constantly harassed by the student council. The only bright spot in 16 year old orphan Teru’s life is the text she shares with a person only known as Daisy. Not long after shattering a window (by accident) with a baseball; bad boy janitor Kurosaki Tasuku claims her as his “slave.”
Serialized in Betsucomi shojo (girl’s) comic anthology in Japan, Dengeki Daisy is a breath of fresh air in the genre. The heroine is a moralistic character and as a result easy to sympathize with. Though the entire orphan concept has been done time and time again it’s treated exceptionally well here.
Another positive about the protagonist is she isn’t one to angst. Meanwhile her 24 year old romantic interest, Kurosaki, assists her quietly from the shadows and the romance is slow to develop. This having been said the romance itself is more than a little unsettling. Teru is at a much different point in life (she’s only in high school) than Kurosaki.
The series also stretches suspension of disbelief at times… there are limits to a person’s density. By volume’s end she still has not figured out who Daisy is even though the author has basically done everything short of telling her (and the reader) Daisy’s real identity. Ultimately, Dengeki Daisy is a refreshing change of pace and while it has its flaws it is still a standout in the shojo genre.
Dengeki Daisy is available in both print and digital formats from Viz Media.
Monday, 14 May 2012
Mo’Some Sting Story and Art Tomoko Yamashita
When openly gay Asagi barges into his masochistic, suicidal lover Tanuki’s office he opens brings with him a suitcase containing within it a teenage girl. Tanuki soon learns she is Asagi’s niece, Kuma, whose being targeted by the Yakuza. With the help of Asagi and Tanuki, Kuma must evade capture but in the process will she change the outlooks of those around her…?
Serialized in the Be-Boy Gold comic anthology in Japan, Tomoko Yamashita’s josei (women’s) comic is well written with a heart-warming message at it’s core. Yamashita’s story never feels rushed nor does it feel incomplete in contrast to many one-shot comics from Japan. The story and characters are subdued and mature.
Kuma herself is any easily sympathetic and the way she changes those around her is truly moving. While this did run in a BL (Boys’ Love) anthology there’s only a few steamy kiss scenes in the book. Still this is something I’d recommend for an adult audience since I don’t see a younger audience fully enjoying this book.Mo’Some Sting is available in digital format through JManga’s website.
Sunday, 13 May 2012
Time and Again vol. 1 Story and Art by JiUn Yun
With his love of alcohol and women, Baek-On traverses the country exorcising spirits. With only his faithful bodyguard Ho-Yeon by his side, Baek-On must assist the living with their supernatural problems. A collection of haunting tales begins here!
Frankly the most interesting aspect of this book is the timeline of the Tang Dynasty. That’s not to say the plotline itself is terrible by any means but the history itself is fascinating particularly for those uninformed on the topic. The book itself is more a collection of standalone stories most of which involve Baek-On and Ho-Yeon in some form or another. The importance of these characters in the stories differs wildly on the story being told.
The stories themselves are at times both haunting and tragic. JiUn Yun knows how to pull on the readers heart strings and keep them involved with the plot. The book itself is also quite an easy read yet it is something which is recommended for an older audience given some of the content (occasional graphic content and concerns more relatable for a more mature audience).
One complaint to be made is the comedy which often feels out of place and a tad distracting in otherwise dark stories. The protagonists themselves are also nowhere near as compelling as the characters they meet and the protagonist in particular is difficult to sympathize with at times. Regardless, Time and Again is a gem among Korean comics which I recommend at least giving a try.
Time and Again is available from Yen Press both in both print and digital formats.
Summer Wars directed by Mamoru Hosoda, Produced by Studio Madhouse
Kenji runs maintenance checks on Oz, one day Natsuki invites Kenji to the countryside to meet her family. Once they arrive, Natsuki introduces him to her great grandmother as her (fake) fiancé. The situation only worsens once a program called Love Machine starts wreaking havoc in Oz (a virtual reality in which millions of people and businesses from around the world use).
From start to finish Summer wars is brilliant! Despite it’s large cast of characters (most being members of Natsuki’s large family) and massive plot the show never once fumbles. The voice acting is excellent and the animation (being a feature film) is top notch as well. The musical score swells at the right moments resulting in maximum impact.
The film has a rather organic feel to it, the resulting product is something very easy to become absorbed in. I found myself on the brink of tears multiple times. The best aspect of the show however is how broad an appeal it has. It is a feel good family film which nearly anyone can enjoy.
Summer Wars is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Funimation.
Saturday, 12 May 2012
Mistress Fortune Story and Art by Arina Tanemura
Kisaki has a secret she has special powers which allow her to fight the ebe mysterious (yet adorable) aliens. She fights alongside her much more experienced partner Giniro who she secretly has feelings for. However courting him will be far more difficult than she ever imagined.
Serialized in the Shojo (Girl’s) comic anthology Ribon in Japan, Mistress Fortune was created by the prolific shojo comic creator Arina Tanemura. Perhaps better known for titles such as Full Moon and Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne, Tanemura has created a title which is by and large perhaps the fluffiest thing one will ever read. The series spends a fair amount of time making jokes about the heroine’s bust size.
The main story lasts only three chapters and is only 3 quarters of this book the remaining 50 pages are 2 pointless side stories revolving around 2 of the side characters. The series adheres quite rigidly to the magical girl formula including the obligatory monster of the week and cute mascot. The protagonist’s friend is introduced in the first chapter but quickly disappears never to be seen again.
My biggest complaint with this series is the character designs: from one series to the next her female and male leads are virtually indistinguishable. Her art however is visually appealing however even this does not save this bland and, ultimately, forgettable series.
This one-shot comic is available both digitally and in print from Viz Media.
Doukyusei Story and Art by Asumiko Nakamura
One day while in choir Hikaru notices something… one of the other boys isn’t actually singing with everyone else. He will come to learn the boy’s name (Rihito) as he teaches him how to sing. The two will soon realize their romantic feelings towards one another. Thus begins the trials and tribulations of an innocent young love.
Serialized in the BL (Boys’ Love) comic anthology Opera in Japan, which is also home to House of Five Leave’s Natsume Ono’s BL comics. Unlike several BL titles, Doukyusei is a title easily accessible to a much wider audience due in no small part to the innocence the series has, this is a subtle tale of young love. That’s not to say there’s nothing here for fans of the BL genre, there are several steamy kiss scenes for that audience as well but this is a title I see having a much broader appeal.
As the story progresses over the course of Hikaru’s and Rihito high school years the reader watches as the young couple struggles and grows. All the while the story maintains, with ease, a more sophisticated tone meant for a mature audience. These are very sympathetic characters: when the characters ache—the reader aches, when the characters experience joy so does the reader.
At present this oneshot is only available on the Jmanga website but I am uncertain if it is one of the titles they’ve made available worldwide or not.