Jan 26, 2008

Manga Summary: Penguin Revolution Volume 5

First off, let me say, for those of you out there who like "Penguin Revolution", Tsukuba Sakura has another great manga series called, "Land of the Blindfolded". Check it out, if you haven't already. Okay, back to "Penguin Revolution." In this volume we find out the secret behind "Yoko Oka", "Ryo, and, Ayaori and the connection they share. Ayaori and Yakari sorta go on a date and Yasuoka, a competing talent agency, drugs and then tries to blackmail poor Ryo. The chapter ends with all of peacock's talent in an exciting new movie, closing with the potential rising stardom of Ryo. As usual this is a pleasant read. There are hints, now of a possible love triangle between Ayaori, Yakari, and Ryo. Perhaps Ayaori is cluing in on Yakari being girl, although, I thought he already knew and was just playing along. But the events in this volume, suggest maybe not. He might be totally clueless. Hopefully, it won't take too long for the next volume to come out.

Manga Summary: Kagetora Volume 8

Ahh, "Kagetora", this fluffly little pubescent male fantasy entertains me so much with its innocence. In this volume, Kagatora's brother, Taka, drops in for a visit. He tells Hime that she must score a hit on him within 24-hrs or her strict grandmother is going to come and reinforce her training. Oh, no, if Hime's grandma comes, then Hime's relationship with Kagetora will be threatened. What's an unathletic Rubenesce teenage girl to do? After that, it's off to an amusement park, where Taka acts like a typical older brother and gives Kagetora much grief. It got a chuckle out of me. Onto another episode in which Hime freaks out because she's gained a little bit of weight. Will Kagetora find out? (Will Kagetora even care?). The second half of this volume features some extra comics like you would find in supplemental editions of the big manga magazines (La La DX, for example). They play like regular chapters, so I don't understand why they are called out specially. Anyhow, one is about Hime doing martial arts while drunk, another involves hime going out on a date with a boy from Jr. High, the third is an onsen chapter, and the last one is a Valentines day story. All of the chapters are sweet as usual. And now I wait for Volume 9.

Manga Review: King of the Lamp

I was anticipating this manga because I enjoyed "Tenshi ja Nai". I was sorely disappointed. This is the second worst manga I have read behind "Fall in Love Like Comic." Basically this manga is a series of very bad short stories that center around a lecherous king who, after taking 1000 of his countries most beautiful women into his harem, was enslaved inside a magic lamp. To gain his freedom he must help 1000 women improve their love lives. The basic story pattern is as follows: girl loves hot guy from afar. Girl makes a stupid wish to be with that guy. In a case of mistaken identity or intention, the sought after guy tries to rape the girl. The girl makes a second wish and possibly a third and the guy realizes he "loves" the girl and then they have sex. Sigh ... I would have been pissed at this great offense to women-kind, except the stories are so poorly written that I was laughing hysterically while reading this manga. UGH, it was bad! There are some extra stories after the 3 cases of "King of the Lamp". "I'll Kill you with a Kiss" was half-way okay. I give this 1/5 because I did read through it all, laughing the entire time, though.

Jan 21, 2008

Tokyo Pop Widget Removed

My experiment is over. Removing the widget was easy within Blogger. I just went to my Template tab and removed the entire "page element" from my blog template. I apologize again if I annoyed anybody.

Manga Review: Pearl Pink

I finished "Pearl Pink" by Meca Tanaka last weekend and I think I was satisfied with the way it ended. If you read my initial write-up after reading the first volume, I was concerned about the direction this manga was going when the main female character, Tamako, decided that she wanted to be an idol. I think it played well for me because I felt that the story didn't deal so much with Tamako becoming an idol, so much as how Tamako and Kanji deal with Tamako's pursuit of stardom. I think the most important part of this was Tamako forcing her independence from Kanji and her mother's stardom and Kanji letting Tamako go for the sake of her career and their relationship. Sometimes that can tough, and I think the stress of being apart for long periods and the general wanting to the know at all times about the well being of a cared about person were shown well in this manga. Kanji also had to grow-up and become independent from his father and his father's business for Kanji's sake, as a person, and for the sake of the business he will one day inherit.

I felt the business about the identity of Tamako's father came out of nowhere and really didn't move me because it felt so inconsequential to the story. I think it would have worked better for me if that part of the story had been introduced earlier and with more impact, rather than as an afterthought.

I give this 4 volume manga series 4/5. Oh and another thing, this manga sorta has the same feel as "Faster than a Kiss" -- more like a "-lite" pre-cursor to try out the idea of relationship between a older, somewhat career decided adult male and female student love interest and to play with the idea of a guy who has a fetish for dressing up girls in costumes. In many ways Kanji is like Ojiru, but without the bad history.

Jan 14, 2008

Anime Review: Kyou Kara Maou

I watched the entirety of this anime over one week of my 3-week winter break from work. Yep, all 78-episodes over a week -- quite a marathon. I enjoyed this anime series from beginning to end and even felt a little bit mournful after watching the last episode. Oh, but rejoice "Kyou Kara Maou R" has just begun and so the adventure continues.

"Kyou Kara Maou" is the story of Yuri, an ordinary high school student, who one day saves his best friend from bullies. The bullies turn their attack toward Yuri and while attempting to "toilet bowl" him, Yuri gets sucked into a black hole located in the toilet and sent to another world. In this new world, Yuri is by virtue of his Asian features -- black hair and dark eyes -- is crowned Maou, or King, of New Mazoku and the fun starts from there, beginning with a social blunder that results in his marriage engagement to bishounen, Wolfram. This story contains adventure, action, lots of humor, a very sweet love triangle, brotherly love, and a wonderful transformation of a war torn land to peace and the transformation of an ordinary boy to a great king. I highly recommend this anime series. 5/5

Jan 4, 2008

New Manga (to the US): A. I. Revolution

This manga came out in Japan 13 years ago, so you will have to forgive the clothing and the absence of the Internet ;p. Despite the age, this simply is not a very good manga. Basically it's a bunch of loosely tied stories about a teenage girl, Sui, and the two robots her father created for her. One robot she names "Vermilion" is a mother robot put into the body of a handsome male y that looks like her father's dead friend. The other is a very beautiful male robot with a gay narcissist personality. The stories are pretty shallow, mainly involving Sui and her friends getting into a dire situation and Vermilion coming to their rescue. I found it rather bizarre that the robots have female personalities paired with a male body. I'm not sure what the point is with this. Perhaps it would have been interesting to experiment with a Mom-robot in a female body.

There's better robot/A.I. shoujo manga out there -- "Chobits" (for the 18+ crowd), "Zettai Kareshi" ("Absolute Boyfriend") (for the 16+ crowd), and "Planet Ladder" come to mind as manga I enjoyed. Ken Akamatsu's "A.I. Love You" didn't appeal to me, but many readers enjoy this manga too.

Anyhow, I will not be buying volume 2 of this series because I found the first volume too benign to be interesting.

Jan 3, 2008

Apology for the Tokyopop Advertising Widget

I put the widget in the sidebar as a part of a little experiment. I will remove it in two weeks. Until, then bear with it. I am in no way advocating Tokyopop manga.

Jan 2, 2008

Manga Review: The Devil Within

I think the Japanese title for this manga is more fitting: "Tenshi no naka ni Akuma Ari" -- "The Angel within is a Devil" (or something like that). Still this doesn't stop this 2 volume manga series from sucking. This manga is about a girl, Rion, who is on the cusp of 16-years old -- apparently the age people become "legal" in Japan -- who is told by her father that she must "marry" one of 3 supposedly super hot guys. It turns out that the three guys are "angels" and Rion's adoptive father is a "devil" and through some blood ritual has turned her into a devil too. The problem is that Rion is afraid of men and, therefore, prefers boys -- in other words she's a "Shota Con." Rion falls in love with a boy her age, Tenshi, who through some curse has the body of a little kid. However, in Rion's presence, sometimes Tenshi regains his full grown body, much to the dismay and fright of Rion. Sigh ... the first volume mildly piqued my interest because I wanted to know the connection between Rion and Tenshi -- their connection is a good one, but ultimately this manga suffers from poor execution. It's too bad too because the base story isn't so bad -- it a little like a gender reversed version of "Shuffle." However, "Shuffle" had underlying sweetness. This manga is not sweet at all, rather, it is shallow and crude and portrays the main character, Rion, as nothing more than a very confused teenager. It's also disappointing to see how shallowly the angels problems are dealt with.

A warning to "Western" readers: This manga's concept of "angel" and "devil" have nothing to do with "good" and "evil" -- rather they are more like two different clans of the same type of human-like "demon" -- "demon" in the sense of a supernatural creature that can be of any moral alignment. So in this manga, both the angels and the devils act like what "Westerners" would consider to be "devilish." This is common in many manga, so get used to it and try not to be quick to assign "good" and "evil" based upon Western iconography. In some of the stories "good" and "evil" cannot be distinguished or may exist at the same time in a character.

Anyhow, this manga gets 2/5 -- the average of 3/5 for a decent first volume and a 1/5 for a crappy juvenile let down second volume.