Today it’s part two of my look at the manga samplers handed out at this year’s San Diego Comic Con. Last week I went through some of Viz Media’s offerings and today I take a look at another of their sampler books, plus a really pleasantly plump CMX sampler and a look at some recent Del Rey books properties. One thing’s for sure, my to-buy list keeps getting progressively longer with each one.
Shonen Jump Manga Plus Advanced (2007)
Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation – I love manga series that revolve around ghost stories and the supernatural, and many of favorite series use the case-by-case basis of individuals with abilities to solve these related problems. So on those grounds this series had something going for it and yet… the two leads are so unlikable! Maybe they’d grow on you after more than this short sampler but it’s reason enough to not compel me to explore it further. The art style doesn’t do much for me either. But kudos to the sampler for ending off at such a cliffhanger moment, curses! I would’ve liked to at least read the rest of that portion; still not worth my distaste for the rest however.
Hoshin Engi – Was a good majority of this supposed to be in colour? It looks like a painted work that was put in grayscale, which visually clutters the pages a lot. It looks kind of convoluted. Art becomes much crisper when it reverts to being purely screen-toned black and white. Still, the story seems a little confusing and I didn’t find myself especially compelled to know more once I finished this short sample; too much being said, not enough happening. Character designs are neat though, albeit a little freaky in that weird clown-like way. This is another no-go series for me based on the sampler.
Strawberrry 100% – Is this about the girl or the panties? Boy meets girl, sees panties, becomes fixated on finding the girl attached to said panties so he can film her skirt flipping up majestically in the sunlight. Hmm… a little weird, though not without being amusing. Gotta love that enthusiasm for the seemingly mundane; hormones make everything more entertaining! By the end the girl (who I assume is the pantie girl) is actually an aspiring novelist? I am curious what plot this beginning is setting up. Will Junpei join up with her to achieve his dream of being a filmmaker? Or will he remain just a panty chaser? I’m in no hurry to find out but I am admittedly curious. Perhaps a library borrow should I see it there.
Gin Tama – I’ve always wanted to check out this series. Pity this sampler provided me with the opposite mindset. I don’t care much for alien stories and somehow never realized Gin Tama was a futuristic set samurai story. Gin is also rather unlikable, too ignorant and forced on the humour-side of things. This sampler suffered at the hands of my own prior-assumptions and didn’t manage to weather them. Art style is nice at least, when it’s neutral anyway. The strained faces don’t manage to be nearly as entertaining as they’re intended. Instead they’re just kind of repellant. Sorry Gin Tama, you’re a no-go for me at this point.
Pretty Face – Wow, now this is a weird one. Weird enough to make me want to pick up volume one just to read some more. A bus accident leaves a student with burns beyond recognition over his face. He wakes up months later in the care of an overzealous doctor who used a picture of the student’s crush to reconstruct his face to an exact copy. Now the student, Rando, has the face of his crush and is mistaken for her long-lost twin sister. I’ve read my share of gender-benders but this is still pretty out there. After all, he just has a girl’s face but still maintains being a young man otherwise. Convenient he’s so comfortable wearing a mini-skirt all of a sudden though, plus still manages to keep the essentials hidden. I have a feeling this isn’t going to be my kind of series, the whole girl-on-girl-but-is-actually-a-guy thing, but I can’t help but want to at least give it a go with volume one.
Kurohime – Hmm… not sure how I feel about this one. I liked the artwork, though the main male character does look more like a young woman than a young man. Intentional? The humour, plot and energy all made this sampler pretty entertaining to read but I found the pacing really erratic and uneven. I think I’d give this first volume a read from the library and see how the flow of it works over a complete volume.
Del Rey Manga Sampler 2009
Negima!? Neo – First impression: The art is super cute! And really sleek. I like it better than Ken Akamatsu’s artwork, though it is very similar (good for those who like the original). Extra short sampler but it does a good job outlining the plot. In fact… I don’t know if it’s the pacing or the artwork but I think I actually want to read this first volume. And as it’s a retake of the original, I don’t need to have read the original; bonus! Still, my worry of excessive fan-service revolving around a ten-year old boy remains… guess after volume one we shall see!
Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei – I’ve already read the first two volumes and didn’t really enjoy them and this sampler reminds me of why. The black and white aspect of the art is pretty spiffy but everyone is rendered far too stiff. I guess it kind of compliments the humour, which I also find pretty rigid. Too bad because the concept is still pretty fantastic: suicidal most-cynical man in the world is teacher to a class of oddities including the world’s greatest optimist. I previously uploaded a review for volume one.
Orange Planet – Shoujo time! And… what? For only a couple of pages this sure is erratic. Girl writes love letter, sees guy kissing girl, crawls into bed with other guy, insert some sparkles, plaid and flowers are you have yourself… something. Good thing this sampler has a synopsis though it basically outlines the same thing; one girl, multiple boys. Alas, nothing here screams ‘originality!’ or ‘oddity!’ enough for volume one to earn my curiousity.
Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney – I’ve never played the games so it sort of seems to safe to guess this one isn’t aimed at me. I sure have seen lots of spoofs, cosplays and fanart though. Does that count? I’m at least not entirely in the dark I suppose. I don’t care much for the art overall but the chibi artwork freak-out moment is pretty darn hilarious and cute. It’s odd seeing two men in full suits spelunking through the woods; is that really all they wear? There’s some entertaining interaction between the two, which though not very fan-girl effective on me, I can imagine it must be fun for those who know them better.
Gakuen Prince – Crafty, Del Rey! A preview of this series that lacks a glimpse of the morally gray and often disturbing aspects of the story that has made it a topic of discussion since its first release. Guess it would up the rating of the sampler. Be warned readers, manga may be more screwed up than it first appears! Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing per say… If you want my full thoughts, you can check out my review of volume one.
Nighthead Genesis – What gives? No preview of You Higuri greatness? Alas. Fortunately Del Rey has its You Higuri powers on their side, aka, who cares about a preview because many will buy it just because it’s by You Higuri! … of which I am most certainly one of those people.
Wolverine: Prodigal Son – It’s speed-lines the manga! And a rendition of Wolverine who is only recognizable by comparison with the front cover image. This short snippet plays up the martial arts and the chemistry between Logan and the lead-female, yet it would’ve been nice to show something a little more Wolverine-related for fans of his seeing this for the first time. Sure it’s a retelling, and a pretty far-stretched one at that, but still, giving a little faith is nice. Back in June I posted a review of volume one.
CMX 2009 Preview
Venus Capriccio – Pacing in this one was odd, made for an uneven read. I couldn’t really get into it and the chivalry of one semi-pretty boy just isn’t enough for me to warrant looking into it further. Though the plot sounds interesting (tomboy girl dates outwardly girly-guy), more so than this sampler would suggest. Not something I’ll be looking into any time soon but the plot might warrant a second look-see someday.
The King of Debris – Cool art! And… cool art. Past that I couldn’t follow what was really happening. It was really quick-paced and a bit jumbled. Things happened too fast, too suddenly. But the art is really snazzy, as is the busy sound effect work that’s overlapping all over the place. Unfortunately the slick visuals aren’t enough to warrant a full read but I lament this fact!
The Lapis Lazuli Crown – I really like the use of magic in this one. Looks like the start of a romance between a young magic-user in training and a powerful Prince he’s already taking the suave measures to sweep her off her feet. The art is typical, and a little blah on the neat-o reader, but the different pieces of the plot have me curious. I love a good shoujo, and even better a well-handled story of magic, so I think volume one earns a second-glance.
Ballad of Shinigami – Ooooo… I like what I saw here. There wasn’t much, and it didn’t really involve the lead character herself (a shinigami who helps people pass on after death), but the series seems like something that would be mostly episodic. This short bit has a young man whose sister died when he was young after leaving him with a fondness for nighttime swims in the pool. The story follows him befriending a spunky girl in his school who seems to have the opposite love for the pool. I’m already interested enough to read the first volume to see the resolution of this story, and combined with the really pretty artwork, I’m more than eager to see what other plots the series could have in store.
Broken Blade – I’m not a big mech fan so the sampler’s purpose in showcasing this large portion of the story’s appeal falls a little flat for me. Still, the artwork is really well done. The mechs in particular had a good sense of movement and weight to them for big robots. Broken Blade may not look like my thing right now but it looks like something worth checking out for those who do enjoy mech-involved epics.
The Battle of Genryu: Origin –This one looks interesting. The art style is really appealing, a little sketch-like in appearance but really solid. I like it a lot! And the plot seems interesting too, about a young man who at random times during the year he has great physical abilities that surpass the average person and recently the frequency of these events has been growing. Suddenly he’s got martial artists in suits attacking him in alleyways and his family with a little secret they’ve held the full details of from him. This sampler portion read really well so I hope volume one maintains the same entertainment value since it’s officially made its way to my to-buy list.
A Tale of An Unknown Country – Aww… cute story so far. It’s about a princess who, in the effort to learn more about the prince she’s suddenly engaged to, poses as a maid and joins the servants at the prince’s estate. The contrast between the two kingdoms is really interesting too, with the princess living a life among nature and sunlight while the prince lives within the confines of a fully automated dome. This one looks sweet so I think I’ll take a look for the first book and see how it pans out.
Oh! My Brother – This is another sampler where the synopsis at the beginning proves the most important part. The actual manga sampler itself does a good job showing the emotional anguish after a young man is killed saving his sister from being hit by a speeding vehicle. You see glimpses of several different characters but there’s nothing that actually showcases the real catch-element of the plot, minus an explosion of glass during the sister’s painful outcry that acts as foreshadowing that ‘something’ could happen. I wasn’t won over by this short exposition but the plot is odd enough that I could be persuaded to give it a chance if allowed more an opportunity to learn about it.
Deka Kyoshi – Deka Kyoshi has a unique combination of plot layers to it. On one hand you have a cop going undercover as a fifth-grade teacher to discover the truth behind the old teacher’s suicide, on the other hand you have a young boy who sees demons is being cruelly bullied by his classmates. The officer won’t stand for the bullying and vows to protect all the children, especially Miyahara (the bullied). The synopsis says that the two will work together to bring happiness and peace to those in the school, an unlikely but potentially fun duo. I think I’ll pick up volume one to see if that’s the case. Besides, I’m curious to read how the officer comes to know and accept Miyahara’s special ability.
The Lizard Prince – The character art in this series is so pretty! …thus I’m depressed that nothing else about the story really hooked me. The synopsis was confusing, with a princess betrothed to a prince who is actually cursed to be a lizard so his brother pretends to him but the princess likes the… lizard? Even simplified it still doesn’t make entire sense to me based on the timeline of events given and the short manga sampler. The panel layout was also really haphazardly laid out so despite the visual appeal of the individual characters, put together on the page they kind of made a mess. Alas.
Stolen Hearts – Toss this one up as another to-read book. I liked both the art and the story from what I’ve seen here in Stolen Hearts’ sampler. It’s about the relationship between a young girl who’s a little short for her age and a tall rather-intimidating classmate who’s notably tall for his age. After an incident leaves the girl, Shinobu, indebted to the young man’s family, a relationship begins to bloom between the ‘unbalanced pair’. Just this sampler has some cute, amusing and action-oriented scenes that make up what I like to see in a nicely balance romance story. I hope the complete first volume is as fun to read.
The World I Create – Hmm… this one was really hit or miss with me. On one hand, cute art style though it falls a little too far into the moe category for me in regards to the main female character. Has some humour, that’s a definite plus and I love a story that revolves around magic. It also feels a little different than your usual ‘kids at a magic school’, which is becoming a taboo plot at this point, with a focus on the particular magic ability of ‘projection’. Still, this sampler didn’t really click with me, though for piquing my curiousity, it’s earned a borrow at the library to see how a full volume works itself out.