Manga Review: Platinum End / by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata

Platinum End, Vol. 1Platinum End, Vol. 1

by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A depressed youth is saved by a morally ambiguous angel who gives him supernatural gifts that he must use as a candidate to become the next “god”.

Platinum End has a pretty epic start but I’m not entirely confident in it’s future. At this point it may decide to go straight into battle fantasy manga, rather than really focus on the story, and that would be a shame. But, we won’t know for at least 2 volumes.

There was quite a bit of explanation on how this fantasy system works and what the rules of the competition are, so it doesn’t have as much impact or flow as smoothly as you’d hope from a first volume.

It feels a little bit like a re-imagining of death note. [A comparison that they can’t escape.] What if Light didn’t go on a killing spree? What kind of world would he create then? I think it’s an intelligent re-working of a fan favourite. And will create a different enough story from Death Note.

The concept bases itself in an idea that there are several candidates to become the next “god” and they must battle each other to find out who will be chosen. It is a pretty usual one that you’d see in shonen (fantasy battle) series like Shaman King, Hoshin Engi, Gestalt, and many others. So, if you liked any of these series, this might be for you.

However, as far as mood it might be a little darker than death note in terms of imagery, and it does deal with abuse, depression and suicide so if those are things that bother you, you might want to avoid this title.

Overall I enjoyed it! And, I’m crossing my fingers for the rest of the series.

Quick Review: Blood Sucker: the Legend of Zipangu / by Saki Okuse and Aki Shimizu

Blood Sucker: Legend of Zipangu, Volume 2Blood Sucker: Legend of Zipangu, Volume 2

by Saki Okuse

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

At this point in the series the only thing saving it is the action sequences and art drawn by Aki Shimizu. Shimizu is a great artist, it’s such a shame that only 1 of his series actually got a complete release in English.

As for the story, it is quite confusing. I don’t think that’s entirely the author’s fault though. There were quite a few times where I was questioning the translation decision. I don’t have the original Japanese so I can’t compare, but there was something off about quite a number of phrases. They just didn’t feel authentic.

This volume is basically an introduction of characters. There are short vignettes, some as short as a page, to introduce characters and situations. It has a feeling that all will be revealed and relative at one point in time. But, it is difficult to wait for any sort of clarity.

Then on top of the confusion, my particular volume has a printing error. A block of missing pages, and some duplicate pages. But, the fact that you don’t notice that there is something missing right away is a pretty good illustration of how jumpy the actual story is.

I’m going to keep reading since I have the rest of the volumes. And, at the very least, I believe I should read all of the manga I buy. But, I’m also not really able to recommend this title to anyone either (at least, not yet). And, I haven’t even gotten to the biggest blot on the series that happens at volume 7 when the series finished releasing incomplete.

Quick Review: Color of Rage by Kazuo Koike and Seisaku Kano

Color of RageColor of Rage

by Kazuo Koike

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this one expecting it to be a thriller. It wasn’t. But, it was a brilliant read and I can’t wait to get a chance to pick this up again.

This is about George, a Japanese man and King, an African man who’ve escaped from a slave ship and are now in a “historical” 18th century Japan trying to find a place to live in peace. Don’t expect an accurate depiction of history, this is more of a backdrop to a discussion on the ideas of slavery.

Through the story by Kazuo Koike attempts to illustrate the confinement of Japanese society through comparison of slavery in America. In it George is often explaining to King how they should act to get along in society. This basically requires them to humble themselves, prostrate themselves, and degrade themselves in a subservient manner to people who may be less than worthy. And, King making pointed observations about the problems with this.

There were a few moments which were pretty cringey, but there were also moments that were so beautiful and poignant…let’s just say, it gave me some significant “feels”.

This is the first time I’ve read a manga illustrated by Kano, who is a brilliant artist. There were so many gorgeous scenes, human figures, background scenes that I kept stopping just to absorb the art.

Highly recommended. (mature readers)

Manga Review: Meteor Prince by Meca Tanaka

Meteor Prince, Vol. 1Meteor Prince, Vol. 1

by Meca Tanaka

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I always enjoy reading Tanaka. She’s such a unique voice in modern shoujo manga.

This follows a girl who is the black hole for luck — bad things just happen to her. And one day, the worst thing yet… a handsome alien lands on earth claiming she’s his destined mate!

It’s definitely cute, quirky, innocent and pretty much everything you’d hope from Tanaka. Plus, it’s only two volumes long which makes it a great series to pick up when you don’t have a lot of time.

Manga Review: St. Lunatic High School / by Majiko!

St. Lunatic High School, Vol. 1St. Lunatic High School, Vol. 1

by Majiko!

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Niko and her brother are so impoverished they jump at the chance of a teaching job, free room and board…and free classes at the prestigious St. Lunatic high school. Only things aren’t as they seem, the house is dilapidated and on school grounds and the night school is a school for monsters…

I read this about 7 years ago, and since it was completely forgettable I decided to pick it up again and refresh my memory. I am so glad I did. This is such a silly and cute manga. The monsters are charming, the art is bold, and it’s all over just pure fun. I smiled reading the entire time.

This is a shoujo manga, so there is a little bit of romance. And, there are monsters, but they don’t come off as scary. You will probably enjoy this more if you’re middle-grade/pre-teen age.

Video Review: Complex Age, volume 1 / by Yui Sakuma

My thoughts on Complex Age, volume 1 by Yui Sakuma.

This is a seinen (marketed to men) manga series about a young woman who loves to cosplay, but is having a hard time feeling comfortable sharing her passion with others. A very relate-able and interesting series!

One thing I didn’t mention in my video were the “translator notes” at the end of this volume. There were some really interesting insights into Japanese society and pop-culture in this manga that I’d never read before. I was very impressed with the inclusion of these notes! Just an extra thing to look forward to if you decide to pick up this manga!

Manga Review: The Secret Sakura Shares / by Akira Hagio

The Secret Sakura SharesThe Secret Sakura Shares

by Akira Hagio

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The title begins quickly, and ends quickly. It’s textbook shoujo scenarios and tropes, arranged neatly between two covers. The only thing missing was “the indirect kiss”/sharing a drink. Which oddly, made me a little sad. I like that scenario!

Unfortunately, there is no character development. There is no story development. And, there is definitely little if no tension or conflict.

Did I hate this title? No. Definitely not. Despite it’s faults it is still charming, and readable. It is a light, innocent and sweet romance with the quirky premise of a female student pretending to be the cat of a male student so that she will be taken care of after her family becomes destitute. Perfectly suited for tween-aged readers.

The biggest thing this title has going for it is that it is self-contained, which means it’s an inexpensive option if you like sickly-sweet teen romances.

If you’re a little older than a tween, but still want to read similar themes/scenarios I would recommend instead:
“Stepping on Roses / by Rinko Ueda” >> About a girl who marries a wealthy young business man to save her family. (for teen readers)
“Tramps Like Us / by Yayoi Ogawa” >> About a young woman who finds a stray boy and takes him in as her pet. (for adult readers)

Review: The Tipping Point / by Naoki Urasawa (and others)

The Tipping PointThe Tipping Point

by Naoki Urasawa et. al.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a mixed bag for me, but that makes a lot of sense considering how many artists were involved in the creation of the work. I’m not going to go too into detail of each story, just that I enjoyed the art in about 80% of the stories… and I enjoyed the stories (or at least appreciated) the stories in about 40% of the works.

I didn’t do any research into this work before I bought it. None. So, I was a bit surprised to find that it wasn’t a single work by Naoki Urasawa. Unfortunately, his was not the strongest work in the compilation. So, I guess it’s good that there were other creators involved.

By far my favourite titles were:
Hanako’s Fart / Taiyo Matsumoto
The Awakening / Emmanuel LePage
The Child / Bastien Vives
Fish / Keiichi Koike

The production though, was very beautiful. Thick glossy pages. Large trim size.

It’s strange to me to read Japanese works in the English left to right orientation, but that’s the nature of compilations. I’m glad to see a work like this that takes creators from all over the world and puts them next to each other. I don’t know too many other publications that do the same.

Manga Review: The Qwaser of Stigmata / Hiroyuki Yoshino

The Qwaser Of StigmataThe Qwaser Of Stigmata

by Hiroyuki Yoshino

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

There’s just so much going on in this comic, and unfortunately it’s too much. Would this be resolved and ironed out in subsequent volumes? I’m not sure, but I’m also not interested in reading further.

Plot-wise, I’m not entirely sure what’s going on. There’s a strange combination of religion and science. Which in modern-day are two things at odds with each other. It’s no wonder that they don’t work in this comic either.

From what I gather, there are a number of “Qwasers” who have the power to manipulate certain chemicals. Yoshino takes this idea and runs wild with it, adding in explanations based in chemistry to explain how the powers work, and why certain effects were reached. In a way, I appreciated this, but also… *snore*.

The series sits on the foundation of western religious symbolism, reworked for Yoshino’s purpose with a particular fascination with women’s (or more particularly, Mary’s) breasts. yeah. I’m often interested in the reworking of religious symbolism, but that particular fascination with Mary just goes a bit too far. He could have cut that bit out completely.

There is a potential underlining story under all of this “stuff”, but it is so weighted down by Yoshino’s ideas, in an attempt at combining all of his ideas into one comic, that it is lost.

The art is fair. I did like the character design of the blond-haired Russian, Sasha. The one bleeding eye was a clever reference of certain icons. But, overall, it wasn’t impressive.

If it wasn’t obvious by now, you can be sure that I didn’t like this comic, and I definitely won’t recommend it to anyone, especially if you’re offended by fan service or belong to certain religious groups. This will be nothing but offensive to you.