Sep 30, 2007

LaLa DX vs LaLa Magazine

I've recently found an online store that sells manga magazines from Japan for a decent shipping rate. The store is called Akadot. Anyhow, so I bought bought LaLa and LaLa DX not knowing the difference (apparently the sellers I contacted didn't know either). Anyhow, so here's the difference that I can detect (without having translated anything): LaLa DX is a compilation of one-off stand-alone stories and special stories from running or completed series and LaLa is mostly a compilation of manga series, although, there is the occasion one-off stand alone story.

Review: Darker than Black

This is one of those anime series that I'm very sad to see end. It had a great theme song and the main characters were really well written!

Anyhow, "Darker than Black" is a 25-episode anime series that is based in the future after some catasphrophe has hit Earth making most of South American "inaccessible" to humans. The human race has spit, and now there exist humans call "contractors." Contractors have various super powers and are now used by governments and crime syndicates as spies and assassins. This is the story of one such contactor, Hei or "BK-201." I don't want to give anyway any of the story, since this is one of those series in which most of the fun is watching the situation unfold. Unfortunately, there are a 2 or 3 filler episode featuring a pitiful detective and his cheery sidekick which throw the story completely off. Ignoring those episode, I'd have to say this was a great anime.

I give this 4.5/5, with a half point deduction for crappy filler episodes.

Sep 25, 2007

Review: Toward the Terra

"Toward the Terra" is one of the best anime series I've watched. It's tough to talk about what the show is about with ruining it, so please bear with me. Anyhow, the show is set in the future when after human have fled Earth for other planets. The story revolves around two main characters Jomy and Keith, who eventually fulfill their destiny of becoming the head of the two warring factions of humans, the Mu and humans, respectively. What's great about this show is both of the main characters are not perfect and both perform act of heroism as well as acts that could be considered atrocities -- it's a war afterall and the show makes it very clear that war isn't pretty nor moral. Anyhow, the characters of Jomy and Keith are so well written and complex -- I was absolutely delighted. The other side characters are wonderful too. This is definitely a character driven show that also happened to include some great action. One of the last scenes in the final episodes poignantly shows off the skill of the story writers and the animators. I was moved by both the sadness and the hope this scene as well as the care taken to draw Jomy and Keith in their last moments. Oh, so good!!! There are actually a few scenes in the series that are like this and each time I was moved to tears. It's lonely to be the leader even though the leader is loved by many. It is tough to be a leader and to live with the atrocities you've committed and to feel the weight of each and every life you feel responsible for protecting. Who is good and who is bad -- or in fact are they sometimes the same? This series deeply probes this question and in the end I'm am left to say that Jomy and Keith acted in the best interests of the people they served. I think this comes through best when Keith asks Jomy, "Do you still have the power to destroy planets?" Jomy replies, "yes" and in response Keith says, "Then it is still my duty to eliminate you." The irony is that Keith has this power too and uses it, but it's in the form of a machine. 5/5 for a truly great series.

Sep 10, 2007

Pearl Pink: Volume 1

I finally got around to reading the first volume of "Pearl Pink" yesterday and I was quite surprised. What's laid out in the first volume is actually rather sweet. I ended up reading the manga twice. Anyhow, "Pearl Pink" is the story of Kanji and Tamako. Kanji is 16 or 17 and Tamako is 13. Long ago Kanji made a promise that if Tamako would quit being a crybaby he'd marry her. Ten years have passed and Tamako enters Kanji's life again. Instead of being a crybaby, she is now a rambuctous tomboy who turns Kanji's life upside. The back drop of the story is entertainment. Tamako's mom is a moderately sucessful actress and Kanji's father, who is delightfully perverted, runs the studio she works for. There is also a fun side character named Raizo who stirs things up every once in a while. Kanji has a little perverted streak too, which is nice because we wouldn't want our main male character to be too perfect.

I have the 2nd and 3rd volumes on order and I'm a little worried because the preview at the end of volume 1 indicated that they are going to focus some attention onto Raizo and have Tamako possibly emerging as an idol. Well, I guess I find out Wednesday.

Preview Pack of Fall Season Anime

There were 15 - 20 previews in this pack I downloaded and absolutely NOTHING looked like it would be worth my time to watch. I was kinda sad. I guess I'll just wait and see.

Sep 4, 2007

Yurara Volume 2

Volume 2 of Yurara is much better. The characters still aren't very well developed, but at least there isn't so much mindless fan service. There are three short stories featured in this volume and each is pretty good in a light comedy sort of way. If the manga ended at volume 2 that would be great. Yurara has choosen her man and her man has acknowledged her affection and returned it, so it seems like this is a good place to stop. If the story goes forward, then the mangaka really needs to work on character development and give a good explanation about how Yurara's guardian spirit came to be and why she's with Yurara. It would also be nice to know the origin of Mei and Yako's powers and their connection to one another and ultimately to Yurara.

I've decided that this manga reminds me a little bit of "Your Majesty's Dog" but the characters are much more interesting in that series (but the ghost stories are about on the same level). I'd say the series is readable, but definitely not worth paying full price for the manga, so buy it used or buy the Japanese version which cost about 1/2 the price.