My News and Reviews
Last week I posted my first in-depth manga review for August, focusing on Takako Shimura's Wandering Son, Volume 3. I am incredibly grateful that this series is being released in English. The story hits very close to home for me, which can sometimes make it difficult for me to review, but it's a wonderful series. Now comes the long wait for the next volume, which will probably be released sometime in 2013. I also reviewed Losing Kei, the debut novel by Suzanne Kamata, an American expatriate living in Japan. I didn't always like the main character, but even still the novel was very engaging. Kamata's own experiences living in Japan add to the authenticity of the story.
A few months ago, I reviewed Hirohiko Araki's full-color manga Rohan at the Louvre, a spin-off story from his series JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. Only the third part of that series and Rohan at the Louvre have been licensed in English. Over at The Hooded Utilitarian, there is a great introduction to JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (Araki Hirohiko at the Louvre, Part 1) and Rohan at the Louvre (Araki Hirohiko at the Louvre, Part 2) that are worth checking out. And check out Rohan at the Louvre itself, too, for the artwork if nothing else.
Kekkaishi, Omnibus 3 (equivalent to Volumes 7-9) by Yellow Tanabe. Kekkaishi has taken a serious turn. Although the comedic elements are still there, and the series still has a great sense of humor, the more lighthearted aspects of the series have been downplayed. Much of this omnibus focuses on Gen and his back story, which I was glad to see. It's a tragic tale, but explains a lot about him as a person. Yoshimori, Tokine, and Gen make a great trio. The series' well-developed and well-rounded characters are probably its greatest strength. But, as much as I've enjoyed Kekkaishi so far, I'm not quite ready to invest in the individual volumes. I really wish Viz would publish the rest of the series as omnibuses, too.
Polterguys, Volume 1 by Laurianne Uy and Nathan Go. The influence of reverse harem manga is readily clear, but Polterguys is definitely its own charming comic. Bree is a freshmen in college who can't seem to get along with any of her roommates. She thinks renting a room in an old house will be the perfect solution, only to find out later that the house is already inhabited by a group of ghosts. Polterguys features a great cast of characters; each one of them has a distinct personality. I wasn't surprised by any of the story's twists, but I enjoyed them immensely nonetheless. The development of the characters' relationships does feel a little rushed here or there, but for the most part this volume is an excellent start to the series. I can't wait to read the second volume.
Twin Spica, Volumes 11-12 by Kou Yaginuma. If you didn't enjoy the first few volumes of Twin Spica, there are no drastic changes in the manga that would make you reconsider. If, like me, you have been enjoying Twin Spica, the last two volumes are a satisfying ending to a great series. The manga's tone has been the same from the very beginning--slightly melancholic but with a sense of hope as the characters pursue their dreams against the odds. The students training to become astronauts through Tokyo Space School's newly established program have all been put to the test. Repeatedly pushed to their limits and beyond, they have become an inspiration to those around them.
The Tyrant Falls in Love, Volumes 3-4 by Hinako Takanaga. Isogai was one of my favorite characters in Challengers and so I was delighted to see him return in The Tyrant Falls in Love. And yes, he causes just as much trouble this time around as he did in the original series. The Tyrant Falls in Love is sort of a strange manga, each volume tends to vary wildly in tone from the next. The second volume was rather serious while the third volume (with a little help of Isogai) was substantially more comedic. The fourth volume returns to being serious in some ways but in other ways the narrative is completely ridiculous and unbelievable. But I am glad to see that Morinaga is slightly less of an ass and that Souichi is slowly coming to terms with their relationship.
The Book of Bantorra, Episodes 14-27 directed by Toshiya Shinohara. I am completely torn over The Book of Bantorra. I absolutely love the basic premise of the series. Unfortunately, most of the time I had no idea what the hell was going on. And frankly, the complete lack of consistent character design annoys me. But as much as the series frustrates me, The Book of Bantorra has some absolutely brilliant worldbuilding. I also appreciate the fact that the series is willing to kill off important characters when the story calls for it. Even when I just didn't get the anime, I was consistently engaged and curious to learn more. And the ending is fantastic. I'll probably give The Book of Bantorra another try at some point.