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Author Archive for Shannon Fay

Review: Nabari no Ou (Vol. 09)

Nabari no Ou (Vol. 09)

Manga-ka: Yuhki Kamatani
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: February 2012

Synopsis: “As Yoite’s condition worsens, Yukimi’s mind drifts, eventually settling on the mystery of the dying Kira user’s past. Acting independently at the cost of his assigned mission, the Grey Wolves’ resident journalist sets off in search of the truth about his ward’s life with little to guide him. Left to their own devices, Yoite and Miharu break free of Hattori and the Grey Wolves when they learn that the leader of the pack knows much more about them than he has ever let on! On their own and on the run, the two do their best to stay alive and solve the puzzle of the Shinra Banshou. But in the world of shinobi, death is never very far behind…”

First off a disclaimer, I haven’t read the previous volumes of Nabari no Ou, so keep in mind that this review is the opinion of someone coming into the series at volume nine. This is an especially tricky series to pop into randomly as it features a large cast with different goals and factions. Plus, it’s about ninjas, and you know how tricky ninjas can be.

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Review: Tesoro

Tesoro

Manga-ka: Natsume Ono
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: November 2011

Synopsis: “A treasure of 14 charming stories about family, friends, couples and unexpected bonds. Written by Natsume Ono over ten years, here is the long-awaited collection of her early work, including numerous illustrations and previously unpublished stories!”

Every now and then you find a manga-ka who you fall in love with. You stumble upon a work of theirs that just speaks to you, that is different from anything else you’ve seen. You seek out other of their works, from the big hits to the obscure early ones. As you continue to read and see the both the good and the bad, the highs and the lows, you realize that they might be a great artist but they are fallible and capable of creating crap as well as fine works. Some of your initial infatuation starts to wear off, and you begin to fall out of love.

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Review: Your Story I’ve Known

Your Story I've Known

Manga-ka: Tsuta Suzuki
Publisher: June
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: June 2011

Synopsis: “Hart Matsumoto will never be able to erase the painful memories of his abusive mother and her rotating cast of lovers…but he also can’t help but be drawn to Shibuzawa, one of the kindest men to ever set foot in his tumultuous home. Is this strange yakuza actually the best thing in Hart’s crazy life? And how will Shibuzawa react once he discovers Hart’s true feelings?”

Short story collections of boys’ love are kind of like buffets, in that you get your pick of several different dishes. In Your Story I’ve Known, there’s a story between a yakuza and a naive young man, another featuring two high school students, another one about a teenage boy and the ghost of a long-dead samurai, and a romance between two co-workers. But, while you can count on buffets and BL anthologies for variety, sometimes the quality isn’t as good as you’d get in a normal restaurant or single story graphic novel. Sometimes you’ll love one dish and the others will leave you wanting. And, unlike a buffet, you can’t go back for more of the dish you like.

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Review: Higurashi When They Cry – Atonement Arc (Vol. 03)

Higurashi When They Cry – Atonement Arc (Vol. 03)

Author: Ryukishio7
Manga-ka: Karin Suzuragi
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: February 2012

Synopsis: “Based on the evidence detailed in Takano’s notebook, Rena believes she’s uncovered the truth behind Oyashiro-sama’s curse and the mysterious deaths in Hinamizawa! But though Rena’s theory fits perfectly with Hinamizawa’s dark history, it is difficult for Keiichi to believe such an outlandish tale, especially given Takano’s fascination with the occult. However, Rena cannot be diverted from her obsession with the plot she believes will inevitably destroy the village. Will her mounting paranoia cause her to take drastic action once again?!”

Things continue to get darker and more dire in this volume of Higurashi. Rena has fully bought into Takano’s conspiracy theory and believes that the whole village will be wiped out if she doesn’t do something. The only person in Hinamizawa she trusts is her friend, Keiichi. While Keiichi isn’t as sold on Takano’s story, he still tries to give Rena the benefit of the doubt and help her look into it. But, as Rena digs deeper into the goings-ons in Hinamizawa, the more paranoid she gets until even her best friends start to seem like enemies.

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Review: About Love

About Love

Manga-ka: Narise Konohara
Publisher: June
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: February 2012

Synopsis: “Asaka is a dedicated wedding planner who’ll do anything to guarantee his clients’ happiness. Sadly, his own love life has all but vanished thanks to his ridiculous work schedule! But when Asaka’s first patron resurfaces, the precious spark of true love may finally fly for him. Can he plan the perfect affair…or will it just have to happen by chance?”

About Love is less a yaoi and more a straight up drama. It’s the kind of the story that could possibly happen in real life, but upon hearing about it your first thought would probably be ‘Geez, that’s messed up.’ This manga was uncomfortable to read at times, but even when I winced I still had to keep reading.

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Review: Highschool of the Dead (Vol. 05)

Highschool of the Dead (Vol. 05)

Author: Daisuke Sato
Manga-ka: Shouji Sato
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: January 2012

Synopsis: “Takashi and his fellow students join up with a band of survivors who have barricaded themselves inside a local mall. Though the shopping center seems a well-stocked place to hide from the undead lurking outside, the policewoman in charge is having a hard time maintaining peace within. The group from Fujimi High would rather not get involved in a power struggle and tries to stay under the radar until they are ready to set off again. But with so many attractive, buxom girls among the students, it may be nearly impossible to avoid unwanted attention of the worst kind…”

I had some apprehension going into Highschool of the Dead. From the art and the write-up, I assumed that the manga was going to be little more than a mix of tits, ass, and gore. While those are indeed the three main ingredients in this volume, the manga has enough going for it that I enjoyed it anyway.

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Review: The Betrayal Knows My Name (Vol. 02)

The Betrayal Knows My Name (Vol. 02)

Manga-ka: Hotaru Odagiri
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: December 2011

Synopsis: “Welcomed into the arms of the Giou clan and the Zweilt, Yuki reaches out to his comrades even as he is drawn into their war with the darkness. But the demonic Duras continue to spread their malevolence around Yuki, and the members of his new family are not impervious either, as one of their own vanishes without a trace and yet another is cornered by a sudden ambush. In the Zweilt, Yuki may well have found the long-sought-after place he belongs, but the enemy seems intent on stealing it out of his grasp forever. And when the shadowy figure of “Reiga,” the nemesis of the Giou, finally steps into the light, will Yuki find himself utterly alone, crushed by the weight of the truth?”

They say there are only so many types of stories, and one of them has to be ‘pretty people with super powers fight bad guys for fate of the world.’ The Betrayal Knows My Name not only follows this basic plot, it also has all the tropes you usually see in battle shojo manga: beautiful boys and girls, lots of destiny talk, plenty of fights and even more angst. While it’s not going to replace CLAMP’s X as the flagship title for the genre, it has its own strengths and charms that make it an enjoyable series.

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Review: Higurashi When They Cry – Atonement Arc (Vol. 02)

Higurashi When They Cry Atonement Arc (Vol.01)

Author: Ryukishio7
Manga-ka: Karin Suzuragi
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: December 2011

Synopsis: “Rena has taken extreme measures to protect her and her father’s happiness, but such drastic actions have terrible consequences. When her friends learn of her crimes, they feel no revulsion toward Rena, but rather a sense of regret that they hadn’t been able to help her and avert this tragedy. But even if they had sensed Rena’s desperation, would her classmates’ pity have transformed itself from sentiment into action?”

Higurashi isn’t a series for everyone. It deals in extremes – when it’s not over-the-top gruesome, it’s cavity inducing cute. The two things might seem at odds, but the manga uses these disparate elements to play up each other. The violent scenes become that much more unsettling when committed by cute, wide-eyed characters and previously innocent scenes become less cute and more creepy as the series goes on.

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Review: Mr. Tiger and Mr. Wolf (Vol. 01)

Mr. Tiger and Mr. Wolf (Vol. 01)

Manga-ka: Ahiru Haruno
Publisher: June
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: August 2011

Synopsis: “It was fierce love at first sight! When the adorable cub Mr. Wolf carries away to his cave turns out to be a wily tiger boy, little does the sly hunter know that he’ll soon become the submissive wife to his manipulative (but charming) captive! When Mr. Tiger calls the shots, Mr. Wolf can’t help but bend to his every whim. After all, who could possibly resist such a handsome, furry face?”

Lots of yaoi manga feature anthropomorphic animals and it’s easy to see the appeal: cute guys plus cute animals equals win/win. Mr. Tiger and Mr. Wolf doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but it at least delivers on both sides of the equation.

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Review: Wandering Son (Vol. 01)



Manga-ka: Shimura Takako
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: July 2011

Synopsis: “The fifth grade. The threshold to puberty, and the beginning of the end of childhood innocence. Shuichi Nitori and his new friend Yoshino Takatsuki have happy homes, loving families, and are well-liked by their classmates, but they share a secret that further complicates a time of life that is awkward for anyone: Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy.”

What makes Wandering Son work is its slow-burn pace and calm atmosphere. It takes a delicate subject – transgender children- and explores it slowly and carefully. Much like its characters, it moves at its own pace, easing the reader into the characters’ lives.

The ‘wandering son’ of the title could refer to either of the main characters. Shuichi is a young boy drawn to girl’s clothes and dresses. Yoshino is a tomboy who likes to wear her big brother’s old high school uniform. When they end up in the same grade five class, the two become friends even before they find out eachothers’ secret.

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