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Review Archive

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

Review: Heroman (Vol. 01)

Heroman (Vol. 01)

Author: Stan Lee / BONES
Manga-ka: Tamon Ohta
Publisher: Vertical Inc
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: October 2012

Synopsis: “Orphaned American teen Joseph Carter Jones, aka Joey, lives with his grandmother in Central City, Los Angeles. When he’s not in class you can generally find him working diligently at a diner to help make ends meet at home. Upon hearing of a new toy robot called the Heybo, Joey becomes set on the idea that acquiring one will change his for the better. Unfortunately, he cannot afford to buy the machine on his meager salary. His luck changes when he picks up a broken-down Heybo abandoned by a school bully. In Joey’s eyes this used bot could be a source of strength. It could turn him into a hero for (cheerleader) Lina and his school… if he can make it work.”

Stan Lee is a cherished comics creator, and even in his old age is still a great showman and astute business man. While lending his name and conceptual ideas to numerous properties this past decade, his efforts have recently extended to Japan. It’s resulted in a few major media properties that have made their way back to the USA. Vertical’s licensing efforts have in turn resulted in bringing one of these, Heroman, to domestic readers. With an amicable style, and an inviting presentation, Heroman presents itself as an excellent series that will serve well as both a great introduction to manga for new readers brought in by Lee’s name and a great series for long time fans bored with the tropes of other shonen series. Tamon Ohta elevates Lee’s concepts to match the promise of such a collaboration. Heroman is a solid read that’s easily recommendable.

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Review: Blood Blockade Battlefront (Vol. 03)

Blood Blockade Battlefront (Vol. 03)

Manga-ka: Yasushiro Nightow
Publisher: Dark Horse
Rating: Older Teen (13+)
Release Date: November 2012

Synopsis: “Traffic in New York has never been a picnic, but with the Big Apple destroyed and rebuilt as the dimensional-gate madhouse known as Jerusalem’s Lot, gridlock is a little more complicated. When the city’s forty million jailed paranormal criminals are about to be set loose by a monster truck – literally, a monster truck – the superagents of Libra may have to contend with a rush hour of apocalyptic proportions!”

Continuing his visually exciting visit to Jerusalem’s Lot, Yashuhiro Nightow brings us another actionpacked volume of Blood Blockade Battlefront. Filled with memorable characters and a cheerful attitude, one finds themselves having a fantastic time as Lovecraftian monsters cascade about them, populating the bars, tourist traps and houses of illrepute that make up the remains of New York City. The previous two volumes were quick, fun reads, and this third one delivers more of the same as Leonard Watch goes about his everyday life as a member of a super awesome secretive organization that uses blood-based fighting styles as a weapon against rogue demons. If that last sentence made any sense to you, or if you don’t care if it did because it sounds awesome, this may be the manga for you!

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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: The Limit (Vol. 01)

The Limit (Vol. 01)

Manga-ka: Keiko Suenobu
Publisher: Vertical Inc
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: October 2012

Synopsis: “Mizuki Konno is your typical high school junior at Yanno Prefectural High School. Like many teens her age, she is studying hard for college and when she has some downtime she likes to fuss over fashion and make-up. While she may not be one of the class elites, Mizuki is fortunate to be on the right side of her class’s idols. But that might not settle well with those who are in a similar academic status but not so lucky with their social lives.

Mizuki has determined in her diary who is a “have” and who is a “have not.” The diary is discovered before a class fieldtrip and tensions are now at new heights. Fights may soon break out – and ironically they will come from those “meek and helpless” figures who supposedly have no friends or future. But all this is supplanted when tragedy strikes in the form of a traffic accident and the class is split into two new groups: the living and the dead!”

The Limit is an unsettling and disturbing shoujo manga that looks past the sparkling wonderland of fashionable gals and pretty boys. It takes a cruel, hard look at high school life without the gloss normally painted over it in most manga. The story is told from the perspective of a seemingly cute, peppy girl named Konno, but even before the tragic incident that fuels the plot, one is given a feeling of the fierce hierarchy these girls live in. After a horrific bus accident, the survivors are left stranded in the wilderness, with nary a magical fairy or giant robot in sight.

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Review: Bleach (Vol. 50-51)

Bleach (Vol. 50)

Manga-ka: Kubo Tite
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: November 2012

Synopsis: “Ichigo’s return to an ordinary life is disrupted by a mysterious man named Kugo Ginjo. But what are Ginjo’s true motives? And when a friend is attacked, Ichigo discovers he may have a chance to regain his lost Soul Reaper powers. Knowing Tsukishima is after Ichigo, Ginjo continues the Fullbring training at a secret base. Ichigo is mastering Fullbring at an incredible speed and regaining his lost powers, but is he ready to face Tsukishima just yet…?”

Ichigo’s newest training regime has begun – bring on the funny looking stuffed pig! Apparently. The training methods here are less conventional than in the past but at least the basics persist – survive and get stronger. These two volumes are still mostly just set-up for whatever’s coming and these kinds of volumes aren’t usually as exciting as the climaxes they lead to. Even so, these two books are bogged down more than usual because of all-too-convenient plot points and odd choices for mystery reveals.

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Review: Vampire Knight (Vol. 15)

Vampire Knight (Vol. 15)

Manga-ka: Matsuri Hino
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: November 2012

Synopsis: “With Kaname missing, Yuki must now step in as acting head of her clan to maintain the fragile peace between the human and vampire societies. Will she be able to regain the trust of the vampire aristocrats, much less Aido?”

The majority of the Vampire Knight volumes set after the time jump have been very Kaname-centric. Some of his mystery is revealed while even more secrets appear. However, in this volume Kaname takes a step back and allows the focus to return to Yuki, as she takes the knowledge she has learned and puts it into practice.

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Victoria’s Favourites: Top 20 Manga (Part 01)

Victoria's Favourites: Top 20 Manga (Part 01)

I’ve always been a fan of top lists, hence why I’ve made a couple of my own. However the lists I liked writing the most were always the ones about my personal favourites. Because of this, I’ve recently been trying to determine what my own favourite manga and anime are, since after almost ten years of reading/watching, I’ve had the chance to be exposed to quite a bit.

Now, this is a ranking based on personal preference, rather than just perceived level of quality, and with each choice I have also included my ranking of the series over at Anime News Network in parentheses (my username there is marie-antoinette, for anyone who is interested). And so, without further ado, here is part one of my Top 20 Favourite Manga!

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Review: 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 Innocent

The Innocent

Authors: Avi Arad & Junichi Fujisaku
Manga-ka: YaSung Ko
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: November 2011

Synopsis: “Wrongly executed for crimes he didn’t commit, a former detective is given a second chance at life. To earn that chance, though, the man now known as Ash must use the supernatural abilities with which he has been infused to prevent the deaths of other innocents. But is Ash willing to dedicate himself to helping others, or is his thirst for vengeance against those who destroyed his life and his loved ones too powerful to ignore?”

The Innocent is another of Yen Press’s collaborative pieces, taking the story of author Avi Arad and pairing it with the stylish artwork of Korean artist, Yasung Ko. While the two elements don’t mesh together without obvious seams, the final result ends up working better than many similar projects from the company to date, delivering plenty of action and eye-candy.

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Review: Sailor Moon (Vol. 08)

Sailor Moon (Vol. 08)

Manga-ka: Naoko Takeuchi
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: November 2012

Synopsis: “Chibi Usa’s sickly friend Hotaru isn’t just Sailor Saturn, Deity of Destruction. She’s also possessed by Master Pharaoh 90. Facing this cataclysmic power will be impossible – unless Sailor Moon can unite the powers of every Guardian of the Solar System. Then, when the moon eclipses the sun, a mystical unicorn begs for help. An elaborate ship floats through the sky, and Usagi and Chibi-Usa have trouble seeing eye to eye….”

It’s especially fun getting to this point in the story which was only briefly touched upon in English media during Sailor Moon‘s big popular streak starting in the 90s. All the planetary Sailor guardians are together at last, including the less than favourably anticipated Sailor Saturn (speaking only plot-wise of course). The individual personalities of the group are as interesting as their interactions, making the departure of some later in the book doubly sad. All the good guys continue to support Sailor Moon both as protectors of their princess, and the planet itself, while also serving as inspiring energy sources for her transformation into Super Sailor Moon.

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Take me back to the top!