Most Anticipated Manga 2010

February 1, 2010

I might be a bit late, but I still want to tell you what manga I’m most looking forward to in 2010.  There’s a lot of manga being translated in English these days and these are my top picks.

#5  51 Ways to Save Her by Usamaru Furuya (CMX Manga- September 2010)

Two former classmates, a gothic lolita and a college student, are reunited.  And then an 8.1 earthquake hits Japan!  I do love my post-apocalyptic stories.  And Tokyopop finished Dragon Head a couple years ago so this is long past due. ———————————————————————

#4 Bakuman by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata (Shonen Jump- August 2010)

From the creators of Death Note, Bakuman is the story of two junior high students who team up to become the most successful manga-ka duo in Japan.  The from the creators of Death Note tagline didn’t impress me, but after reading a few chapters online, I can see this going to great places.  Bakuman was supposed to run in Shonen Jump USA this year, but it hasn’t been announced if it will only be a preview or full blown serialization.

#3 I’ll Give It My All…Tomorrow by Shunju Aono (Viz Signature- May 2010)

40-year-old Shizuo Oguro is tired of his corporate career.  So he decides to quit to pursue his lifelong interest: becoming a manga artist.  I’ll Give It My All… is Shizuo’s story of the ups and downs of his quest at manga success.  This was one of the first series I sampled over at Sig Ikki and I instantly fell in love with it. ————————————————————

#2 AX Volume 1: A Collection of Alternative Manga (Top Shelf- July 2010)

Just as the title implies, AX is a collection of short alternative manga stories.  Originally slated for a December 2009 release, AX was pushed back to summer 2010.  Volume 1 will contain shorts from Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Akino Kondoh, Kazuichi Hanawa, and Shinichi Abe. —————————————————————————————————————————————————

#1 Peepo Choo by Felipe Smith (Vertical- July 2010)

It’s not often that an American comics artist is flown out to Japan to work on a monthly manga in Morning 2 for Kodansha.  Peepo Choo is the story of two individuals.  Milton is a hardcore otaku from Chicago, obsessed with the anime Peepo Choo.  Reiko is a teenage model in Japan who wants a career overseas.  Tokyopop published Smith’s first series MBQ from 2005-2007.  I’m a huge fan of that series and cannot wait to read this one.

More manga I’m looking forward to Read the rest of this entry »


GTO: The Early Years volume 7

June 17, 2008

Shonan Junai Gumi volume 7

by Tohru Fujisawa

The latest installment of Shonan Junai Gumi staring the two man team Oni-baku, known individually as Onizuka as Ryuji. Previously, Ryuji has fallen in love with the beach babe known as Nagisa. However, the poor virgin can’t get a girlfriend that easily. Nagisa has an alter ego known as Yasha, a tough biker girl with a price on Ryuji’s head! Yasha is the girlfriend of Akutsu, a scary man who just got out of juvie and plans on rejuvenating the infamous biker gang feared by all, the Midnight Angels. Can Ryuji save Nagisa from her other self?

This volume continues the trend of opening with a very light-hearted chapter. Classmate Kiyoma is thought to have psychic powers. Whenever girls stand by him, the wind mysteriously lifts their skirts! However, his secret is revealed and he is soon beaten up by local gang members. On with the continuing story, the cops are dealing with the rise of the Midnight Angel gang that has reached nearly 150 members. The gang war has started. Nagisa and Ryuji are hospitalized after a run in with Akutsu who torches the building they were fighting in. Now in a hospital bed, Nagisa fights the demon of her other self, Yasha. Akutsu reveals what he’s truly after, the coat owned by former Angel leader, Masaki. He believes this coat will give him official leadership over the gang but there’s a problem, the coat was passed on to Oni-baku and for good reason. After passing Ryuji in the hospital, Onizuka dons the coat and heads towards Akutsu. The new Midnight Angel members fall instantly as Onizuka leaves a trial of carnage in his path. He has come to teach Akutsu a lesson.

The series continues to be distributed in omnibus format and shrinkwrapped with a parental advisory sticker. Aside from some gang violence and blood, there’s really not a lot of questionable material within. Language is severely toned down for a series of this kind with many cheesy 80s slang (“What the fun?”). Art continues to be a problem with all the black, slick-haired gang members closely resembling Ryuji.

I feel as if I’m slowly losing interest in this series. No matter how many “tough-guys” the Oni-baku take care of, there will always be another. The Midnight Angel gang war was an interesting concept but as it turns out, the leader Akutsu is really just a jealous prick who can only hurt others by A.) torching them with gasoline or B.) stabbing them in the stomach while they’re talking sensibly to him. Recently, Tokyopop, the distributer, has experienced financial problems with many series being canceled or in some cases, online distribution only. GTO: The Early Years has been identified as at risk due to poor sales. The guys at Tokyopop are huge Tohru Fujisawa nerds so hopefully they have enough balls to finish off the second half of this series.

Grade: C+


Disney’s Kilala Princess volume 1

June 20, 2007

Title: Kilala Princess volume 1

Art: Nao Kodaka

Story: Rika Tanaka

Publisher: Tokyopop 

Growing up, I remember my mother bought a pair of “Disney Princesses” dresses for my sister from the Disney Store to wear on Sundays and/or other “special” occasions.  There’s still a picture of her as “Snow White” hanging in the living room.  While I was browsing the shelfs at the local library a week ago I came across this graphic novel, Kilala Princess, a story much like Kingdom Hearts where random anime looking characters go on an adventure and bump into several Disney characters along the way.

Kilala, just like my sister (who vehemently rejected this comic when I handed it to her), grew up watching and admiring all the Disney Princesses.  Her cute and adorable best friend Erica is in the running to win the school’s prized Princess Contest whose winner gets to wear the beloved tiara on display.  Yes, Kilala wants the tiara but she is not jealous, she only worries that her best friend will not have the time for her anymore.  What follows is a very romantic looking glare between the two but hold up! this is a Disney comic! can’t have any lesbian characters!

Kilala returns home only to find a mythical looking boy lying on her front lawn.  He wakes up in her bed only to find her wearing the mystical looking tiara he brought with him! The boy, Rei, and his friend Valdou has come to find the 7th princess, the true owner of the tiara who can save their world from destruction!  Kilala just knows that they’re talking about Erica and so they run to her school to the Princess Contest in the auditorium.  Just as Kilala expected, her best friend won but they can’t find her.  She hears a scream and runs to the back of the school only to find men in black dragging Erica into a car.  Apparently, Kilala isn’t the only one to suspect Erica a princess!

They follow the car into the forest where they encounter a gate that Kilala has seen before.  She places the tiara on her head and it opens for her.  What’s the first thing that she sees? The 1st Disney Princess, Snow White! Although Kilala and company have been transformed into dwarves, she is thrilled to meet her idol.  Not wanting to waste anytime, Rei and Kilala remember their mission and decide the “magic mirror” in the Snow White castle will tell them where to find Erica.  Will the mirror tell them where the fairest of all was taken or will they too be captured?

Unlike the movies that inspired this story, Kilala Princess is no masterpiece.  However it does have that Disney charm not to mention Disney characters themselves.  It succeeds where other Disney manga like Kingdom Hearts fails.  The shoujo style characters give an emotional depth to the characters that you wouldn’t expect.  Considering the title of this series, I think it’s safe to say that Kilala is the true 7th Princess our journeyers are searching for but you never know.  Maybe just like my sister, Kilala is pretending to be the princesses that she admires.  In either cases, Kilala isn’t in this to find the princess of the magical kingdom, she just wants to see her friend safe and at home.

Rating: 3/5

Read a preview here.


Earthlight volume 1

May 14, 2007

Title: Earthlight volume 1 

Written by: Stuart Moore

Illustrated by: Christopher Schons  

Publisher: Tokyopop 

Normally on a space colony when one wishes to ask a girl out they would say “would you like to take a walk in the solar park?” or “want to play around in zero gravity?” What does 15 year-old Damon Cole say?  “Do you cut your arms?” That’s right, step into the world of Earthlight, a space colony with the same cliched and terribly executed drama that you’d find on your daytime soaps on Earth.

Damon has just moved to the space colony Earthlight so that his African American father and British mother could move out of the repression of Earth and have a better life.  Damon’s mother happens to be Earthlight’s education instructor which causes him to be the butt of the punk student’s jokes and abuse.  He soon meets a “mysterious” girl who just so happens to be on the receiving end of her punk boyfriend’s hand.  Will Damon convince Lise to leave her boyfriend to go out with him?

Damon’s father who is the newly appointed chief administrator of Earthlight tells Damon that he must work out his problems by himself.  Xan, the abusive boyfriend dares Damon to climb the observatory before the sunlight reaches the colony.  To do so would be extremely dangerous and if caught, Damon and his family may be forced off the colony and abdicate the positions they fought so hard for.  Nevertheless, Damon accepts the dare and climbs to the top hoping that Xan will get off his back if he completes the task.  In the end Xan plans to pummel Damon after Lise leaves him however is met with an unfortunate fate when they lose track of what time it is.  Having to leave the colony for medical reasons, Xan is officially out of their lives.

The first volume ends with Damon missing the school field trip to the power satellites due to a cold.  During the trip Damon’s mother does something very out of character that will effect the future of manned space exploration.  It’s hard to say whether I actually liked this first volume.  Christopher Schon’s artwork is beautifully detailed, anything that reminds me of Planetes is a plus.  However, the story meanders too much and is quite predictable until the last chapter.  On the other hand it’s standard fare to include terrorism in any manga influenced sci-fi novel.  As Damon’s father says, if Earthlight doesn’t improve in the next volume, “they can kiss my black ass!”

 Rating: 2/5
read a preview here.


Free Comic Book Day

May 7, 2007

Every year on the first Saturday of May I make my yearly trip to the comic book store for Free Comic Book Day. My brother and I hit up two stores after seeing the new Spider-man movie, the one he always goes to and the one that’s on my way to work that I never actually visited, also the one where someone apparently got shot. The first one was rather busy but the second only a few people. It was a little creepy how only half the store was lit. All in all I picked up six comics for absolutely nothing.

The Amazing Spider-Man

It’s been weeks since Peter Parker has had the opportunity to don the spidey suit. With new heroes springing up, there seems to be no need for the spidey vigilante. Ready to surprise Aunt May with a birthday cake, Peter willingly partakes in a high speed car chase to end his post-hero blues. Spider-Man captures our short-term villain, a huge Spider-Man fan with spidey bobble heads on his dash, and leaves him to the cops. A short sweet one-shot that was conveniently used to promote Spider-Man 3. 3.5/5

Marvel Adventures: Iron Man & Hulk

Iron Man: A short one shot story of the Invincible Iron Man, Stark International’s head of security. An employee, who is trying to sell his new rejected innovation breaks into headquarters to steal supplies only to be thwarted by Iron Man! 2.5/5

Hulk: On a contruction site, a large spider attacks a little girl. Bruce can feel the Hulk breaking free, “no one can hold Hulk!” What ensues is an eight page battle which culminates in Hulk finally squashing the spider. Haha I’ve never actually read any Hulk comics but this was absolutely ridiculous. “Oh no big spider! I am Hulk! Arghh!!!” So simple but effective. 3/5

Transformers Movie Prequel

Gawww my eyes. Who knew that reading this comic book would be worse than looking at the character designs for the upcoming movie? Nothing much happens in this short prequel to the prequel. It briefly tells of the start of the war between the Autobots and Decepticons. Every couple pages they’ll have a complete panel or panels completely in black and white. I don’t know if they just didn’t have time to finish painting it or if this is some new form of retro art. 2/5

Devil’s Due Publishing: Flipbook

Family Guy: This is a short preview from the recent graphic novel release “Book of crap.” Peter tells what being a good parent is while introducing his kids to internet porn and assigning a fat Mexican to “fill-in” for him at work. 3/5
Hack/Slash: DDP’s second FCBD offering. The introduction to a brutal horror story of a young girl whose mother, the lunch lady, kills all her daughter’s bullies in the kitchen. Rather disgusting and has very foul language. 1.5/5

It’s Sonic!! It’s amazing how many issues this series has under its belt and yet I’ve never felt the need to pick up a copy. Now’s as good a time as any! Eggman has implanted an electronic device in Sonic so that he destroys his friends and allies. Tails and the gang sets out to literally knock the bug off of Sonic. Predictably the day is saved and Eggman retreats with his tail in between his legs. 2/5

Tokyopop: Choose Your Weapon Sampler

First off, it’s important to note that this sampler contains no manga whatsoever. 3 of the series contained are manwha (Korean) and the other 2 American, the whole sampler is read left to right. That being said I don’t understand how this this is called “Choose your weapon” where the only weapon used in 4/5 of the stories is a sword! That being said lets move on:
Archlord: Having read the first volume already at the library, I have concluded this is the best series in this sampler. In this preview, our hero meets an elegant Lady after preparing his freshly butchered pig for dinner. 4/5

Gyakushu: Our American manga stars a nameless man who is bandaged from head to toe. This man takes up his sword to protect a villager in danger in this high action paced preview 3.5/5

Phantom: spends most of its preview in character introduction. K is a mech pilot for the city police whose technology is not up to the par to the terroists that they chase. In the end K is called to pilot his mech whose character designs are almost as terrible and confusing as Gundam Seed Destiny’s 2.5/5

Utopia’s Avenger: “Nonstop martial arts action!” Hong Gil-Dong has created an Utopian land but then disappears. Years later he returns to fight the invaders who has left the land in ruins. Our hero fights a large demonic monster in a rather confusing albeit entertaining battle sequence. 3/5

Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy: From the manwha artist of King of Hell and Richard A. Knaak, New York Times best selling author. With such stars behind this I expected to find something more…understandable. Then again I know next to nothing about Warcraft in itself. For the second preview in a row we get our heroes battling some huge king of mythic beast. Artwise the best in this sampler. 2.5/5

Overall another excellent Free Comic Book Day. Even if the comics weren’t all up to par who cares, it was free! Can’t wait till next year. Hopefully more manga publishers will step into the game.


BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad (volume 7)

March 16, 2007

BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad (volume 7)

Author: Harold Sakuishi

Publisher: Tokyopop 

Three months after the last volume and a month after I finished the first 20 volumes of the scanlations, Tokyopop finally decides to release the 7th volume of BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad.  For the uninitiated, BECK is the story of an underground rock band in Japan that is desperately trying to break out of the scene and get signed.  In this volume they get one step closer to success, not in Japan, but America.

After performing as an opening act, a man from a small indie label based in Chicago gives Ryusuke, BECK’s guitarist, his business card.  Willing to get the band’s name out in any country, Ryusuke agrees to let this indie label distribute their first single in the states.  After achieving moderate success and a second printing, Ryusuke’s discovers that he should have probably discussed royalties.  But that’s not the biggest problem, the American CD has Ryusuke playing the infamous guitar, Lucille, on the cover!  Knowing that there is very dangerous people after this guitar, Ryusuke has to decide on his next plan of action.  Meanwhile, Koyuki, our main character finally saves up enough money to buy his Telecaster.  With his new guitar, Koyuki puts new energy into his live performances.  He even starts recording some of his own material and passes it off to Ryusuke to comment on.  Koyuki and Maho’s relationship seems to develop more in this volume as her TV star friend tries to end their friendship.  Another BECK fan is introduced as Hiromi, Saku and Koyuki’s classmate, who turns out to be the girl from the donut shop across the street from the Chinese restaurant Koyuki works in.  In between gymnastic lessons, Koyuki gives Hiromi guitar lessons.  Late one night, Ryusuke is awakened by the sound of a helicopter, has Malcolm come back to claim Lucille again?

If you couldn’t tell already, I’m extremely disappointed at how slow this series is being released in America.  This series easily became one of my favorites before I even finished the first volume.  Hopefully with the anime airing in Canada, BECK will receive some sort of recognition in the manga charts.  One of the best features of BECK is trying to figure out all the band references/parodies buried within the pages.  For example, this volume opens with a parody of a famous Aerosmith album cover. Also, a lot of the poses the band takes in their performances are ripped from bands such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers (which Harold Sakuishi openly admits in a review at Tokyopop.com).  There are your average shonen style elements in this series, such as the obvious “I want to play better!” “I want to get signed!” but they all add to the comedic element of the series.  My favorite joke in this volume is the TV drama Yoshito stars in: Loneliness of the Short Distance Runner.

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Rating: 4.5/5