My News and Reviews
The end of the month and the end of the year seem to be approaching very quickly. But even with the chaos which accompanies that, I posted two in-depth reviews last week. First up was my review for The Twelve Kingdoms, Volume 2: Sea of Wind by Fuyumi Ono. I'm really enjoying the series; I'll definitely be reading (and reviewing) the rest of the novels that were translated into English before Tokyopop's implosion. I also reviewed Hiroaki Samura's Blade of the Immortal, Volume 16: Shortcut. My Blade of the Immortal review project is steadily progressing. At the rate the series is being published in English, I should be caught up in less than a year. Next week, beginning on December 26, is this month's Manga Moveable Feast. This Feast will be focusing on Hikaru no Go and other game manga. I have a couple of things in mind that I'm working on, including a review of the first volume of Hikaru no Go. Elsewhere online, Comics Alliance has a fabulous introduction to the work of Shotaro Ishinomori--Shotaro Ishinomori Is A Big Deal: An Action-Packed Primer For New Readers.
Blood Sucker: Legend of Zipangu, Volumes 5-7 written by Saki Okuse and illustrated by Aki Shimizu. I enjoyed the first four volumes of Blood Sucker and so was looking forward to reading more. The long, multi-volume flashback finally comes to an end with volume five. I'll admit, I found the earlier volumes more compelling. It seems like important plot points and developments were either forgotten or lost along the way. But I still like Blood Sucker. It's quickly paced and packed with gory action. The artwork is good, too, but occasionally difficult to follow during fights. Only seven of the twelve volumes of Blood Sucker were published in English, but it's still probably worth tracking down for fans of vampires or action-horror.
Fist of the Blue Sky, Volumes 1-4 written by Nobuhiko Horie and illustrated by Tetsuo Hara. Fist of the Blue Sky is a prequel to Fist of the North Star. The protagonist, Kenshiro Kasumi, is the uncle and namesake of Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star. The two series are vaguely similar in tone with over-the-top scenarios, gang warfare, and fantastical martial arts, except that Fist of the Blue Sky largely takes place in Shanghai in the 1930s instead of in a post-apocalyptic world. Kenshiro has a sort of Indian Jones vibe going on at the beginning, but that seems to be quickly left behind as the series progresses. Fist of the Blue Sky ended in Japan with twenty-two volumes, four of which were released in English before Raijin folded.
Please Save My Earth, Volumes 1-7 by Saki Hiwatari. So far, I'm loving Please Save My Earth, the shoujo science fiction epic. Seven students in Japan discover that they are the reincarnations of seven alien researchers who died on the moon. This might seem like a silly premise for a story, but the manga is actually very engrossing. At first the students are fascinated and excited about their shared history, but slowly the guilt, memories, and
emotions from their past lives begin to intrude upon their current
lives, causing all sorts of difficulties for them. Sometime, the results are tragic. The artwork is a little rough at first, but steadily improves. I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
Seven Days: Friday-Sunday written by Venio Tachibana and illustrated by Rihito Takarai. Seven Days is an absolutely beautiful story; I enjoyed it immensely. Because I loved the manga so much, a part of me wishes that there was more--it's only two volumes long--but another part of me is completely satisfied. Seven Days is a fairly quiet and somewhat melancholy manga. In the first volume, Shino asked Seryou out almost accidentally. It was a joke and he certainly didn't expect him to say yes. They're only guaranteed to date for one week, and now that that one week is drawing to a close, both of them are conflicted. They've gotten to know each other better and neither one of them wants their relationship to end, but it can't continue on like it has been, either.
Black Lagoon, Episodes 1-12 directed by Sunao Katabuchi. I was late to the Black Lagoon anime party and so missed out on the series' initial release, which is why I'm so glad that both seasons are now available on DVD again. At this point, I think that I still slightly prefer the manga, but the anime adaptation is great. I was particularly impressed by the quality of the animation and sound design. Black Lagoon is a lot of fun, with violent and foul-mouthed protagonists, plenty of explosions and gun battles, and a dark sense of humor. I don't find it to be particularly compelling as a story, but it is highly entertaining. I'm really enjoying watching the series.