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News, reviews and features with a focus on manga, self-published works and a Canadian perspective. Enjoy fulfilling your Kuriousity!

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Review Archive

To see a list of reviews in alphabetical order, please see our review index.


Review: Scarlet

Scarlet

Manga-ka: Hiro Madarame
Publisher: BLU Manga
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: August 2010

Synopsis: “College student Akio is dating Ryo who appears to have childlike innocence with gorgeous features but is actually a helpless, philandering boy unable to withstand the slightest loneliness. Every time a girl approaches Ryo, he’s unable to decline! What’s Akio to do with his philandering boyfriend?”

Scarlet is a little confusing when read through for the first time, but after a second read-through it’s easy to piece it together. While the characters are very much the cliché yaoi characters – Akio being small and cute and Ryo being handsome, tall and manly – it’s the story that really makes it stand out.

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Review: Alice in the Country of Hearts – The Clockmaker’s Story

Alice in the Country of Hearts - The Clockmaker's Story

Author: Quinrose
Manga-ka: Mamenosuke Fujimaru
Publisher: Seven Seas
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: August 2013

Synopsis: “Julius Monrey is the grim Clockmaker of Wonderland, responsible for controlling the world’s time from his lonely Clock Tower, not to mention fixing the stopped clocks of the dead. When the beautiful Alice Liddell comes to live with and rely upon him, will her warm personality melt through his cool, apathetic heart – and bring about romantic feelings he never knew he had?”

There’s a certain stubborn streak required to keep up with all the Alice in the Country of… books. Some are good and some are awful, but they all leave us wondering if maybe, just maybe, the next one will answer all those looming questions. Why was Alice brought here? Has Nightmare been telling the truth about the vial? How is Alice’s sister involved? Sadly, The Clockmaker’s Story doesn’t address any of these points but it does give us something that’s been sorely lacking since the beginning – a genuinely touching romance.

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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: Kaze Hikaru (Vol. 21)

Kaze Hikaru (Vol. 21)

Manga-ka: Taeko Watanabe
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: August 2013

Synopsis: “After Hijikata grows suspicious of Soji’s feelings about Sei, he reassigns Sei to the third troop under Saito’s command. Soji, puzzled by his own recent irrational behavior toward Sei, attempts to distance himself from her. Sei, in turn, interprets this as Soji’s realization of her feelings for him and decides that she can no longer serve as a bushi alongside him. She goes to visit Suigetsuni, a nun who knew Sei in her former life as a girl, to discuss renouncing the world and entering the convent!”

Waiting a year for any new volume of a series is painful, but when it’s one as charming as Kaze Hikaru it’s all the more sad. At least it’s a credit to the series that even a twelve month wait is little match for the memorable nature of these characters. They feel as familiar now as they did the last time a new book came out. Sometimes, though, things can feel a bit too familiar and while the turmoil of Kamiya/Sei’s love and Soshi’s naivety continues to be the series’ driving force, there is such thing as having too much of a good thing.

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Review: Bakuman (Vol. 20)

Bakuman (Vol. 20)

Author: Tsugumi Ohba
Manga-ka: Takeshi Obata
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: August 2013

Synopsis: “For ten years, two young men have worked as hard as they possibly could to make their manga dreams come true. Now, as they sit atop the manga world, can the promise made long ago finally be fulfilled?!”

At twenty volumes, it’s the end of Bakuman. I’ll miss this series as it gave us in-depth, if not somewhat dramatically sped up and hyped, look at being a creator in the world’s most read comic magazine, Shonen Jump. While the last volume give its characters the satisfaction of achieving their dreams, it’s odd that it focuses so much on elements barely present in previous books, instead of what the series has always been about – manga.

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Review: Pretty Men Fighting Dirty

Pretty Men Fighting Dirty
SuBLime

Manga-ka: Sakira
Publisher: SuBLime
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: July 2013

Synopsis: “A non-stop collection of romance and smut! In the title story, Taizo the potter finds Shino wandering lost in the mountains and invites him back to his home. Wanting to help Taizo with his artistic block, Shino takes a hands-on approach with Taizo’s rock-hard body. In “A Loving Household,” we follow the story of an adorable house-hubby who has his hands full being salaciously loved by his new husband and stepsons. “Let’s Go to the Proctology Clinic!” chronicles a young man’s first visit to his proctologist for a rather embarrassing problem. But when it comes time for his examination, he finds out he may be in too good of hands!”

This one-shot collection of boys’ love stories is everything I wanted based on its name and then some – well drawn, well-toned men in a series of short, sexy and hilarious scenarios. Sakira is a new name to me for boys’ love creators, but after Pretty Men Fighting Dirty, their name will be one I look for.

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Review: Body Guard

Body Guard
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Manga-ka: Kimiyoshi
Publisher: Digital Manga Guild
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: May 2013

Synopsis: “Takahiro’s normal life as a high school student gets turned on its head when his father marries a super rich Hollywood actress named, Elizabeth Adley, and leaves Japan to be with her. Takahiro is forced to leave his apartment home move into a lavish hotel room. Fantasies of naked nights of porn and debauchery begin to fill Takahiro’s mind. Too bad his new mother in law has other plans. In order to protect Takahiro (and her money) from kidnappings, Elizabeth hires two bodyguards from a distinguished American company. Any thoughts of unsupervised nights of fun quickly rush from Takahiro’s mind. On the up side, his new bodyguards are totally cool.”

Sometimes there are books so bad that you almost have to recommend them as an important genre piece. Some books just make the good books look better. That said, Body Guard is still not a book I would recommend to many, but I would lying if I said I hadn’t shown select pages to a number of fellow boys’ love fans just to get a good laugh.

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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: Blood-C (Vol. 01)

Blood-C (Vol. 01)

Manga-ka: Ranmaru Kotone
Publisher: Dark Horse
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: March 2013

Synopsis: “Saya Kisaragi is a kindhearted, if somewhat clumsy, student who trains by day to perform standard religious duties at her father’s shrine – but she becomes an unstoppable, monster-slaying swordswoman by night! The saga that began in Blood: The Last Vampire and the Blood+ anime series continues here! Don’t miss the schoolyard foibles, weird creatures, and katana-swinging action in this new manga series by Ranmaru Kotone, based on the hit Blood-C anime and infused with CLAMP’s original concepts and characters!”

Blood-C is like the manga equivalent of lasagna – you can enjoy all the different ingredients, but it doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy the final product. And that’s kind of weird. This adaptation of the anime series, Blood-C, has a plot that’s easy to follow, cool fight sequences, a cute lead character and even some nice artwork. Unfortunately when all those things are put together, their result is a hollow read that is difficult to pinpoint the exact flaws of.

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Review: Don’t Tell My Husband (Vol. 01)

Don’t Tell My Husband (Vol. 01)
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Buy on Amazon Kindle

Manga-ka: Kei Kousaki
Publisher: Digital Manga Guild
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: January 2013

Synopsis: “Because Minano has spent her entire life sheltered by her wealth and parents, she has seldom experienced the hardships of everyday life. Nothing changes after her marriage to a wealthy CEO, as she is still spoiled shamelessly by her husband. Why then, would she try and break into said husband’s company to steal a heavily guarded opal necklace? Or why, when she’s held up in a bank robbery, would she take matters into her own hands to thwart the robbers? Is she really who she seems? Does one high-heeled madam with nerves of steel even stand a chance against gun-wielding criminals? Just who is this sheltered wife?”

This is a strange little manga. I wasn’t sure what I was getting when I went into it, and I still wasn’t really sure when I finished. It’s an amusing little distraction but feels as flighty as its lead who fails to carry these episodic chapters.

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