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Review Archive

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


Review: Alice in the Country of Clover – Cheshire Cat Waltz (Vol. 01)

Alice in the Country of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz (Vol. 01)

Author: Quinrose
Manga-ka: Mamenosuke Fujimaru
Publisher: Seven Seas
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: July 2012

Synopsis: “Alice has a new suitor – this time he’s pink and furry, otherwise known as Boris, the Chesire Cat. After being transported to the mysterious Country of Clover, Alice is relieved to discover that her friend Boris has come along. But she can’t enjoy a moment’s respite, as the Chesire Cat keeps hitting on her. Should she give in to such a self-indulgent cat? While Alice wavers, their relationship is sure to evolve – for better or worse is anyone’s guess. Sweet, yet dangerous. Love is risky business in Wonderland.”

It’s a bit weird coming from having recently read Yen Press’s release of Alice in the Country of Hearts to Seven Seas’ Alice in the Country of Clover. Both are the same story continued from a different angle, are written by the same person and drawn by artists very similar, but you can definitely feel the little tone changes created by being handled by two different teams of creators and adaptors. The differences are minor enough that most readers probably won’t notice though, making it an easy switch between for those who read one and are left wanting for more.

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Review: Loveless (Vol. 09)

Loveless (Vol. 09)

Manga-ka: Yun Kouga
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: October 2012

Synopsis: “Seimei is very much alive and has torn through the Seven Voices Academy like a whirlwind. As Septimal Moon struggles to right itself and keep its secrets from spilling out, a new enemy takes center stage: the unit named “Bloodless” wages a crippling psychological war, ending battles without spilling a single drop of blood. Yet Ritsuka and Soubi must emerge victorious against them… or lose Kio. “

It’s not difficult to get caught up on the Loveless story here in the ninth volume. It has just about every remaining relevant character sprinkled throughout it. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost four years since the previous volume was released. Viz Media’s synopsis cracks open the haze with the big reveal that Ritsuka’s brother, Seimei, is actually alive. What exactly his role is, however, is a little less clear. What his renewed relevance is for sure though, is more angst and drama fodder which the series tries to make in spades.

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Review: Strobe Edge (Vol. 01)

Strobe Edge (Vol. 01)

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

Synopsis: “What is love, anyway? Ninako Kinoshita’s friends tell her it’s one thing, but Ninako wonders what this mysterious feeling really is. When she meets Ren Ichinose, a handsome, enigmatic guy who all the girls worship, her life takes an unexpected turn. With just a few words and a smile, he changes her world…”

Strobe Edge isn’t the kind of series I would usually pick up without considerable cause. The synopsis sounds like fairly average school life romance drama, and the artwork is okay but nothing that stands out. Yet in this instance it was these benign features that made me go out and purchase volume one in light of the excitement many seemed to have when Viz Media announced it. Is there an extra special something hidden beneath this average surface? So far, no.

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Review: Bakuman (Vol. 16)

Bakuman (Vol. 16)

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

Synopsis: “Eiji Nizuma announces that if he can top the Weekly Shonen Jump survey results for ten straight weeks, he will have one of the manga series in the cancelled. But which series does Eiji want to cancel? And what will Ashirogi and the other manga creators do to stop him?!”

I’ve always liked Eiji Nizuma. If for any real reason, it might simply be because I’ve never had any reason to not like him. This volume bumped the indifference up to legitimate affection, however, as we get to see a very commanding and even selfish side to him. He’s always been confident, hardworking and interested in the well-being of the other artists, but I was really surprised by some of the decisions he made here in the sixteenth volume.

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Review: Bamboo Blade (Vol. 14)

Bamboo Blade (Vol. 14)

Author: Masahiro Totsuka
Manga-ka: Aguri Igarashi
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (13+)
Release Date: August 2012

Synopsis: “After the intense drama of the Burnish Academy TV shoot, each member of the Muroe kendo team has a new outlook on their involvement with kendo, and Tamaki is eager to learn what reasons her friends have for participating in the sport, hoping they will help her find her own motivation. Kojiro plans a trip to observe the Gokuryuki national tournament to help Tamaki in her search, and with the support of her family and friends, Tamaki takes a confident step toward the future in the final volume of Bamboo Blade!”

The back of this book features an afterword from writer Masahiro Totsuka about the series. In it, he describes how he wanted to give readers who are not sports fans a story that demonstrates the passion that athletes put into sport and how much it shapes them as a person. In this final volume, Bamboo Blade more than delivers on this plan as the story is brought to a very satisfying, though not completely conclusive, conclusion. It thus achieves another thing mentioned in the afterword, which was Totsuka’s goal of putting his characters “on the starting line” by the series’ end.

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Review: Soul Eater (Vol. 10)

Soul Eater (Vol. 10)

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

Synopsis: “With Doctor Stein unable to carry on, Maka, Kid, and Black☆Star enter the magnetic field to take up the mission and locate the tempestuous demon tool known as Brew. Time is quickly running out as the three face off against Mosquito, struggling to harmonize their wavelengths within the magnetized vortex. They’ll be lucky to escape with their lives, let alone the demon tool!”

When last we discussed Soul Eater, the series was visually impressive, but plot-wise had too much obvious filler. Volume ten is another piece of that same plot line, and likewise is mostly rising action, but it works better as for the most part actions and development feels much weightier this time round.

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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: Fushigi Yugi Genbu Kaiden (Vol. 10)

Fushigi Yugi Genbu Kaiden (Vol. 10)

Manga-ka: Yuu Watase
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: September 2012

Synopsis: “Takiko has returned to the Universe of the Four Gods! As the Celestial Warriors search for the scroll of the Four Gods, Takiko uncovers the truth about the prophecy that turned Uruki and his father into bitter enemies. But while they begin a new chapter in their adventures, Takiko struggles to conceal a terrible secret about herself from the Celestial Warriors…”

It has been almost three years since the Genbu Kaiden drought began but finally it looks as though it’s over. Volume eleven even has a release date for next March, which hopefully won’t turn out to be a placeholder. If it is indeed real, then Fushigi Yuugi fans everyone have lots to rejoice about.

Naturally, after said rejoicing is done, the question to ask is was this volume worth the wait. The answer to that is … maybe.

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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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Review: XXXHolic (Vol. 19)

xxxHolic (Vol. 19)

Manga-ka: CLAMP
Publisher: DelRey
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: February 2012

Synopsis: “Kimihiro Watanuki has passed through many trials by fire. Once an indentured servant, he has matured and become the poised and skilled keeper of the shop that grants wishes. But Watanuki’s final wish is for himself: to meet the witch Yûko one more time. With Yûko long vanished from our world, is it even possible? That question and others are answered now in the concluding volume of the bestselling manga xxxHolic.”

Ah, CLAMP. My relationship with them is a complicated one, because I love some parts of their work but have major issues with others. The only real consistent thing I can say about them is that, throughout their ups and downs, the art is always beautiful. But sometimes the story just isn’t there, and though it pains me to say this about one of my favourite CLAMP series from, this is definitely the case with volume nineteen of xxxHolic.

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