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.

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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!

The Doodle Revolution by Sunni Brown

The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think DifferentlyThe Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently by Sunni Brown

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

If you are already a doodler or drawer, or just aren’t intimidated by creative thinking, this book is not for you. Now, if you haven’t picked up a pencil since you were 6 years old, you might find some value here. But, I would still recommend that you supplement your “doodling vocabulary” with some basic clip-art or how-to-doodle books.

This is a basic class to get the most visually clueless to re-discover their pre-existing visual language. Or, more importantly what situations you can use your newly re-discovered visual language.

I’m a born doodler. I don’t need to be convinced to doodle… What I want is to know how to use my doodles more effectively. I borrowed this book to get tips on incorporating more visual elements into my university notes. Not to get a lecture (that I also give on a frequent basis) that everyone can doodle. In a way “preaching to the choir”, but also I disagreed with almost ALL of her arguments. That makes for an aggravating read.

I guess this book wasn’t for me. I did end up skimming most of it. Text-wise was a bit too casual for my liking. For example, am I supposed to understand the phrase,”crazy-ass importance”? What does that even mean? Why should my ass’ temperament determine the value of something?

In comparison, the text used in the info graphics (really just flow charts) was incredibly dry. Wouldn’t you have thought it would be the reverse. Use the casual text with pictures and the complex text without?

If you never draw. Believe you can’t draw. And work in a business that holds frequent team brainstorming sessions, this might be for you. The rest of us would be wise to look elsewhere.

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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)

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The Tipping Point / by Naoki Urasawa (and others)

The Tipping PointThe Tipping Point by Naoki Urasawa

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.

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Pop Manga Coloring Book / Camilla d’Errico

Pop Manga Coloring Book: A Surreal Journey Through a Cute, Curious, Bizarre, and Beautiful WorldPop Manga Coloring Book: A Surreal Journey Through a Cute, Curious, Bizarre, and Beautiful World by Camilla d’Errico

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I would say that I would be interested in colouring about 75% of the pictures in this colouring book. Some of the images are so stunning. The children are so beautiful or cute, and the merging with animals is often so intriguing. Most pages include a highly detailed and somewhat surreal image of a young child placed in the center of the page with large white space as the background.

There are some unfortunate illustrations that were obviously copied from pencil drawings, or draft sketches. These are either not well realized as images, or just plain difficult to colour without the ability to erase line. The only way to move past this would be to use non-conventional colouring materials like acrylic paints. Whereas coloured pencils and crayon would be the preferred materials.

Camilla d’Errico’s style is more loose and sketchy, and for some images you can tell she’s tried to use the full space by adding backgrounds. Either strawberries, or geometric shapes. These are incredibly unfortunate as the art style or materials used are in competition of what she usually does. It is nice to have something in the background to colour, but d’Errico’s style is not one to fill the page. It would have been better to just do what she does rather than try to make it more “colouring-book”-like.

But, despite the problem with her backgrounds, and some poor choices, I would still say about 75% of the book is beautiful and I would be thrilled to spend time colouring in it. In an age when “adult” colouring books are all the rage, it’s nice to see something that fits somewhere between colouring for kids and the train-wreck that is most of adult colouring books who are trying to cash in on the craze.

This would be a great title for teens, or fans of Camilla d’Errico’s comic book series.

I received a digital copy from NetGalley for an honest review.

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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.

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Paradise Residence, vol. 1 / by Kosuke Fujishima

Paradise Residence Vol. 1Paradise Residence Vol. 1 by Kosuke Fujishima

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An a-typical seinen slice-of-life comedy about high school girls dorm residents. A-typical in that most of the jokes used in this book can be found in any comedy series about all-girls schools… But, they are all fun situations.

You may find this a bit frustrating if you’re looking for a “story”, or “character development”. This is complete situational comedy. Fujishima has taken his own stock characters, rebranded them, and thrown them into a relatively new location. It’s basically “You’re under arrest”, except the girls are students instead of cops. Each situation is resolved within a chapter making this an easy book to dip in and out of. Actually, you will probably enjoy this more if you take breaks between each chapter.

There are drawbacks to the episodic nature. It allows the author to publish works out of order, or to captalize on origin stories, compiling them at a later date. It appears that this has happened here, where some early situations are published later in the volume… a volume 0?

Art-wise, all I can really say is this is soooo Fujishima. This is not your typical art of modern manga. Especially not of manga featuring young girls whose target readership is men… Yes, there is some nudity (aka fan-service), but it serves a function as a mode for comedy and not so much for titillation. I’m usually put off by fan service, because it’s not targeted to me… this I didn’t mind so much.

Generally the character design is stark. Girls are drawn as girls with as realistic shapes as you can expect in comics. Rendering and shadowing is clean, but simple. And screen tone use is purposeful, but limited. The art still has the flavour of 90’s manga, which I really respond well to.

Overall. I enjoyed this title and would recommend it. If only to get a wider view of what manga is.

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School Judgment: Gakkyu Hotei, vol. 1 / story by Nobuaki Enoki & art by Takeshi Obata

School Judgment, Vol. 1: Gakkyu HoteiSchool Judgment, Vol. 1: Gakkyu Hotei by Nobuaki Enoki

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I am incredibly disappointed with the lolita element to this title. I get that there’s a whole genre,and some people “like” it, but it is completely out of place here. It was absolutely unnecessary and frankly very offensive. To use nudity and sexual attraction to young children (even in its minutest form) as comedic titillation (in a comic for children, no less), there is something wrong here! For that alone, I don’t recommend this title.

I thought that the story struggled to establish itself. It was a bit too extreme and obnoxious too quickly, and the main character too unlikeable. It didn’t help that his introduction to the series (as a genius arguer) was done through a barrage of nonsensical and poorly established argument. It was the argument of a whiny child… Which I guess he is. But, I believe he’s supposed to exhibit greater mental faculty which was just failed to be established from the first chapter.

However, after the pacing and scenario were fleshed out, I did begin to enjoy the title. But, I’m just not sure if I am willing to read more.

Obata’s art is the star of this title. His style is versatile; moving from the incredibly cute to the horrifyingly grotesque. But never too much of either, and always the right amount at the right time!

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