Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Beautiful Creatures chapter 1

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

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

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 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 


Welcome to the Cartoon Geek Corner blog! I'll be posting reviews for comic and animations from both North America and overseas. This is my way of giving back to a medium which has given me so much. Enjoy!