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Author Archive for Shannon Fay

Review: Sunny (Vol. 01)

Sunny (Vol. 01)

Manga-ka: Taiyo Matsumoto
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Mature (16+)
Release Date: May 2013

Synopsis: “Synopsis: “What is Sunny? Sunny is a car. Sunny is a car you take on a drive with your mind. It takes you to the place of your dreams. Sunny is the story of beating the odds, in the ways that count. It’s the brand-new masterwork from Eisner Award-winner Taiyo Matsumoto, one of Japan’s most innovative and acclaimed manga artists.”

Anyone upset by the news of Hayao Miyazaki’s supposed retirement might find some consolation by picking up Sunny by Taiyo Matsumoto. Like Miyazaki, Matsumoto often draws on childhood and the surreal as inspiration for his work. The main difference would be that while Miyazaki usually centers his stories on strong female heroines, Matsumoto homes in on boyhood and young male characters. This is especially true with Sunny, a manga loosely based on Matsumoto’s own childhood experience of living in a group home.

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Review: The Betrayal Knows My Name (Vol. 05)

The Betrayal Knows My Name (Vol. 05)

Manga-ka: Hotaru Odagiri
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: February 2013

Synopsis: “Though the Zweilt are together at last, the calm before the inevitable storm of battle lingers. With no sign of activity from the camp of their sworn enemy, Reiga, Yuki and his allies are beguiled into a sense of peace. But even the distraction provided by a retreat to the Hidden Springs of the Giou to rest weary hearts and souls will not prepare Yuki for Sairi’s revelations about the brave but terrible end met by the Light of God through the ages…And when Takashiro is called in to investigate a pair of suspicious deaths, the winds of war begin to pick up in a frenzy…”

In the beginning The Betrayal Knows My Name was a shojo action manga with the occasional fan service scene. It’s since become a shojo manga with lots of fan service and the occasional action scene. The series has always coasted by on its pretty art, but with this volume it feels even more vacuous than ever.

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Review: Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures

Author: Kim Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Artist: Cassandra Jean
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: February 2013

Synopsis: “Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever. Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.”

This was my first exposure to ‘Beautiful Creatures,’ as I haven’t read any of the books or seen the movie. To its credit the comic manages to stand well enough on its own feet: I was never confused about what was going on, but that might be because the plot is so simple and standard.

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

Higurashi When They Cry – Massacre Arc (Vol. 02)

Author: Ryukishio7
Manga-ka: Hinase Momoyama
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: December 2012

Synopsis: “Keiichi’s appeals to the Child Consultation Center receive an outpouring of support from his classmates and teachers, but still the authorities refuse to intercede. Hinamizawa is a village controlled by three powerful families, and without the support of the Sonozakis-and their fearsome head, Oryou-the Center will not budge. As Keiichi struggles to convince Oryou, Rika feels her dream of living a happy life beyond the summer of 1983 begin to fade away. Does Keiichi have what it takes to make a miracle happen? Can Satoko be saved? Can Rika…?”

This volume of Higurashi only lightly indulges it’s supernatural-conspiracy side, pushing the more outlandish elements into a corner to make room for more worldly problems like child abuse and small town politics. It makes for a strange tone, as even though the weirdness level is low, the manga stays as intense as ever – it’s just instead of murders and massacres we get lots of scenes of people in meetings. The strange part is that the manga treats the two as if they are equally dramatic, giving this volume an unintentionally funny edge.

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Review: Higurashi When They Cry – Massacre Arc (Vol. 01)

Higurashi When They Cry - Massacre Arc (Vol. 01)

Author: Ryukishio07
Manga-ka: Hinase Momoyama
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: September 2012

Synopsis: “The ‘Curse Killing Arc’…The ‘Time Killing Arc’…As each incarnation of the terrible events in Hinamizawa unfolds, Rika Furude must watch as her friends descend into madness and despair, knowing the only fate that awaits her is death. With the unique ability to see all of these worlds, Rika desperately searches for the common links between them that will help her stop the cycle and give her and her friends a happy future beyond June 1983. But with less than a month before the cotton drifting in her current life, will Rika be able to change destiny in time?”

Before now you could read the individual Higurashi arcs and still be able to understand well enough what was going on. With this volume, however, everything that has come before gels together and starts building towards a climax that brings all the previously unrelated events into one story. With the bigger scope comes bigger stakes. In the Massacre Arc it’s not just the lives of everyone in Hinamizawa that’s in danger but the very fabric of reality itself.

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Review: Sky Link

Sky Link

Manga-ka: Shiro Yamada
Publisher: Juné
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: July 2011

Synopsis: “The sky was a bright shade of blue on the first day of university and Ritsuki Ban hopes for a fresh start. As mysterious past regrets continue to linger in his mind, Ritsuki collides into a man who takes on an immediate interest in Ritsuki’s looks— a man whom he later discovers, is one of his new professors! The confident Professor Takagi does nothing to hide his feelings towards Ritsuki; however the reclusive Ritsuki refuses to become teacher’s pet. As Ritsuki and Takagi find themselves sky gazing together one day, they are moved by each other’s expressions and begin to find out more about each other.”

Clichés can be executed well. Sometimes a manga-ka can take a situation that has been done a thousand times before and still make it sing. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with Sky Link. Shiro Yamada’s story only highlights how absurd and tired these clichés can be.

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Review: Start With A Happy Ending (Vol. 01)

Start With A Happy Ending

Manga-ka: Risa Motoyama
Publisher: Digital Manga
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: November 2012

Synopsis: “In an instant, a host of the recently deceased discover that they’ve been given another shot at happiness…as adorable cats! Will they make the most of their seven-day opportunity? Or will the fur fly as they struggle to figure out what life’s all about? Start With a Happy Ending follows finicky felines and curious kittens as they take a crash course in the ups and downs of existence! Can reincarnation give a legion of lost souls the wake-up call they truly need?”

This is a tricky manga for me to review as it hits two of my biggest weak points: cute cats and didactic stories where the main character learns an important lesson. Even though I know deep down that I’m being manipulated, I just can’t resist either of these things.

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Review: ULTRAS

ULTRAS

Manga-ka: Est em
Publisher: Digital Manga Guild
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: June 2012

Synopsis: “An avid game of love between rivals! Soccer fans are notorious, but ULTRAS like Al and Leon take it to another level! They eat, breathe, and sleep for their beloved teams and their rivalries, like the rivalry between Liberta and FC Madrid. When the Spanish national soccer team wins the European championship, fans around the country unite to celebrate. Sparks fly when Al and Leon first meet amidst the festivities, but what happens when these two ULTRAS unknowingly find themselves on opposite sides of a passionate rivalry!?”

Soccer might seem like a weird thing to get all Romeo-and-Juliet over, but under Est Em’s direction it works. She has a skill for grounding her stories while keeping them interesting and quirky. It’s her skill and unique sensibilities that keeps ULTRAS from being a standard collection of yaoi short stories.

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Review: The Betrayal Knows My Name (Vol. 04)

The Betrayal Knows My Name (Vol. 04)

Manga-ka: Hotaru Odagiri
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: August 2012

Synopsis: “In their war with the Duras, the Zweilt rely almost entirely on the power of the bonds between them and their allies. But with each battle and every passing reincarnation, is there not the danger of cracks developing in the glue that holds these warriors together? When a tense, unexpected battle with an Opast general is cut short, one pair is forced to reconsider their disparate oaths of vengeance and what seeking revenge truly means. And before another battle can get underway, the final Zweilt pair joins the fray at Twilight Hall. But while Yuki seemingly becomes fast friends with one half of this new team, the heart of the other seems vaguely unreachable, clouded by memories of the past…”

Back in my review for volume two of The Betrayal Knows My Name, I said that the manga-ka “should cap the cast list or else I will start to forget people.” Since then the number of characters has just kept growing. The problem now isn’t that I’ve started to forget people so much as I’m losing the will to care about them in the first place.

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Review: Highschool of the Dead (Vol. 07)

Highschool of the Dead (Vol. 07)

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

Synopsis: “Once again, Takashi and his friends are without shelter and on the run. The group gradually makes their way to the local police station, where the hungry officers within give a whole new meaning to the phrase “police brutality.” After tidying up, the team reloads and begins their search of the station: Rei for news of her father, and Saya for information. There may be one last chance for them to get out of town, but with Rei and Takashi’s parents still unaccounted for and a throng of undead standing between them and freedom, will the friends be able to make it in time?!”

In the zombie apocalypse the first thing to go will be bras.

It’s volume seven of Highschool of the Dead and not much has changed since volume one: the dead are still walking and the bosoms are still bouncing. This is a series that you can, in fact, judge by its cover. Volume seven features a cute girl (Rei) with torpedo-shaped breasts and a realistically drawn gun being menaced by a horde of decaying zombies. It seems kind of pointless to shrink wrap these books as everything inside them is right there on the cover.

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