Monday, October 29, 2007

St. Lunatic High School Volume 1

Overall Rating: D+
Synopsis: Created by Majiko, St. Lunatic High School (also known as Yoru nimo Makezu) follows Niko Kanzaki and her brother Atchan. At the beginning of volume 1, we find them jumping out the window of their apartment because they are several months late on rent, and Atchan just got a job at the prestigious St. Lunatic High School. Niko is enrolled in night classes, which are full of demons. What wild hijinks will happen when you mix a human girl with a bunch of demon kids?

The answer, as far as I can tell, to my own question is inanity. I found little to like about the first volume of St. Lunatic High School, other than that the art is very cute (which is what drew me in initially). Beyond that, the plot seems weak and the characters haven't drawn me in. Some of the demon/human interaction is funny (the demons keep picking on and making fun of Niko because shes a human), but otherwise I just found myself bored.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Welcome to the NHK Volume 1

Overall Rating: B
Synopsis: It's difficult to summarize "Welcome to the NHK". Written by Tatsuhiko Takimoto with art by Kendi Oiwa, the series follows Tatsuhiro Satō, a 22-year-old hikikomori (a shut in) who has no job. His only source of income is his parents giving him money. He is also a massive pervert. In the first volume, he learns that Kaoru Yamazaki, a fellow otaku from the same High School, is living next door (and playing anime soundtracks loudly). Tatsuhiro also meets Misaki Nakahara, a mysterious young woman who claims to be part of a group that helps hikikomori. Tatsuhiro and Kaoru decide to develop a porn video game, and hijinks ensue.

I kept running across Welcome to the NHK in stores and considered buying the first volume. Then Amazon started recommending I buy it. I don't know if it was the fact that I kept running in to the title, or whether the concept eventually convinced me to give it a try, or what, but I recently decided to take the plunge and read volume 1.

Having finished it, I'm still not sure what to think. The story teeters between Tatsuhiro being an endearing otaku and an outright pervert. He develops a disturbing lolita complex, that gets so bad he goes to take upskirt photos of school girls as they leave school. It's hard to root for a guy that's so disturbed, but I found myself hoping he would pull out of the tail-spin and get his life together.

I will say this, the book made me laugh and cringe, sometimes at the same time. I will probably flip through the second volume to see if it's worth following the series.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Shinshoku Kiss Volume 1

Overall Rating: D-
Summary: Shinshoku Kiss by Kazuko Higashiyama is the story of Kashiwagi Kotoko, an amateur dollmaker who idolizes Fool, her favorite doll designer. Unfortunately, the old adage "Be careful what you wish for" applies in this case. She gets to work as his assistant, but Fool curses her with a "shinshoku" kiss. If she doesn't do as he says, she will turn into an old woman.

I picked this one up, because it sounded like an interesting premise, and it is. Unfortunately, after reading the first volume, that's all it has so far. The most interesting character is fool's mute brother, who has a mysterious bandage on his neck. Where does Fool get his powers? What does Star (Fool's mysterious masterpiece) look like? These questions may eventually be answered, but I'm not sure if I care or not.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Red Garden Anime Review of Disc 1

Overall Rating: B+
Synopsis: Red Garden is a supernatural/horror/drama/mystery anime by Gonzo studio. The plot follows Kate, Rachel, Rose, and Claire, who all go to the same private school in New York. All four wake up one morning with no memory of the last night. The following night, they are all visited by red butterflies that lead them to a woman named Lula who tells them they are dead. For obvious reasons, this only confuses them more. She also reveals that the four girls must fight strange creatures for them to stay alive. However, they soon realize she's telling the truth, as one of the creatures attacks them.

I'll be the first to admit I have a soft spot for supernatural manga and anime. So, when I heard about Red Garden I knew I had to check it out. I haven't gotten that far into it yet, but I'm already glad I got the first disc from Netflix. The plot shows a lot of promise, and I want to know the whole story behind the four girls and how they're alive.

I will say there are a couple of scenes where Rose cries a lot. Based on her crying alone, Rose is my least favorite character. Seriously, if you heard it, you'd probably agree. Ouch. I would have rated Red Garden higher if it weren't for that, and the pretty bad musical montage in one of the episodes.

Aside from those pretty minor aspects, I'm looking forward to where the series is going. I recommend checking this one out if you like supernatural plots.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tokyo Godfathers - Anime Review

Rating: A

Synopsis: Three homeless people, Miyuki (the runaway girl), Hana (the ex drag queen) and Gin (the drunk) discover a baby abandoned in the trash on Christmas Eve. They baby becomes a catalyst for a journey that time after time serves up some crazy coincidences.

Tokyo Godfathers is a ridiculously heartwarming and wacky movie, while simultaneously having a lot of serious content - the main characters are homeless, people get beat up, etc..

Satoshi Kon directed/wrote/lots of stuff for this movie, and his ability to combine wackiness and true human feelings in an animated setting really shows. One of the elements of his style that show up a lot are ridiculously detailed and realistic backdrops, with slightly overly-cartoony characters set against them.

I don't want to give away any of the major plot points of the movie, it has a lot of twists and turns, and despite the darker components of the plot, it is lighthearted overall. Many elements of the Christian Christmas story come up, as well as the importance of family, giving the movie a good chance of becoming a Christmas tradition in any house - I highly suggest watching it in December!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Zombie Loan Volume 1

Overall Rating: B
Synopsis: Michiru Kita is a mousy girl, who runs errands for her friends, and has Shinigami Eyes, which allow her to see a ring around a person's neck. This ring symbolizes the person's impending death; once they are marked to die, a gray ring, which is invisible to normal people, appears around their neck. Over time, the ring gets darker, and once the ring turns completely black, the person dies. Chika Akatsuki and Shito Tachibana, two boys in her class, both have black rings around their necks, but to her surprise, they are not yet dead. Who are these boys, and what do they have to do with the strange loan office called Zombie Loan?

I picked up the first volume of this one because of the title. It doesn't hurt that I like things with zombies in them. Then I checked out the description and it drew me in. I was sure I would be rating this one with an A+. Unfortunately, the first volume didn't blow me away. It's actually a little slow paced, but I really liked the concept so I stuck with it, and I wasn't disappointed.

Zombie Loan is basically a twist on the numerous manga out there featuring shinigami, and life after death. Chika and Shito provide the bad ass dudes aspect to the story, with a gun and sword attached to their bodies by chains, and mysterious pasts. However, instead of the usual buxom girl we get the mousy Michiru. Unfortunately, that's where the characters stop in the first volume. We're also introduced to some minor characters, who add flavor to the book, and hopefully are expanded on later in the series.

So far, I have a bit of a soft spot for Michiru, but I hope she grows as a character more in future volumes. One of the reasons I only rated this volume a B is because I haven't grown attached to any of the characters. The plot is interesting, the art is good, and I'm looking forward to where they go with things, but the characters seem pretty one dimensional. Hopefully this will pick up soon (and maybe add another woman to the cast) so I can cosplay Chika. I think Will would make an excellent Shito.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Scott Pilgrim Volumes 1-3

Overall Rating: A³
Synopsis: Created by Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott Pilgrim is an action/comedy/romance comic/graphic novel/manga depending on how snobby you want to be about those sorts of things. At the beginning of volume 1, Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, Scott is 23 and dating Knives Chau (a 17-year-old). He's in between jobs and in a band called Sex Bob-omb. He is awesome (if a little sketch for dating a 17-year-old. The story is set in Canada, and Scott is living with his gay roomate, Wallace Wells. All pretty normal, right? Then Scott meets and falls in love with Ramona Flowers, she's a delivery person for, can travel through sub-space, and has seven evil boyfriends. In order to date Ramona, Scott has to defeat her ex-boyfriends. Somehow, this isn't that weird.

I can't remember when I first heard about Scott Pilgrim or why I ended up picking up the first volume, but I wish I could travel back in time and high-five whomever or whatever caused me to do so. I've devoured the first three volumes and am eagerly awaiting the fourth. The book is hilarious, differently awesome, and makes me laugh out loud.

If you have not read the first volume of Scott Pilgrim, do so now. Now!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Aishiteruze Baby ★★

Overall Rating: C+
Synopsis: Kippei Katakura is a 17-year-old playboy who spends his time chasing girls, careless of their feelings. But when his 5-year-old cousin Yuzuyu comes to live with his family after her mother's sudden disappearance, Kippei is put in charge of taking care of her.

I wasn't sure what to think when I started reading Aishiteruze Baby ★★ in an issue of Shojo Beat, and I'm still not sure. Kippei, the main character, is a horny 17-year-old (no surprise there), and has no idea how to take care of a 5-year-old. At one point, he forgets she needs a lunch and gets her some onigiri from the store instead. I've only read the first volume, but already I can tell that Kippei is going to learn a lot from taking care of Yuzuyu, become more responsible, and will probably have only one girlfriend. I'm also sure wacky hijinks will ensue. The only real question is how soon that will happen, and what pitfalls stand in his way. Unfortunately, the first volume didn't grab me enough to make me want to read any more unless I'm really bored one day. Or I have to start taking care of a 5-year-old cousin I never knew I had.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Q-Ko Chan Volume 1

Overall Rating: C+
Synopsis: Q-Ko Chan is written by Ueda Hajime, who also adapted FLCL into manga form. The story follows Kirio Muji, who doesn't care about anything, not even his sister. As he is walking home one day, an air raid begins (apparently a common occurrance in the world of Q-Ko Chan) but Kirio seems unfazed and continues home. Outside his home, he finds a robot girl who protects him from a barrage of bullets and then flies into a forest. From there Q-Ko Chan becomes stranger and stranger.

I love FLCL, so when I saw that the person that adapted it for manga was doing an original manga, I was excited. Q-Ko Chan's art and style are fun and different from most manga, but the plot is hard to follow, and the characters are difficult to relate to. That being said, the art really is neat, and extremely cute. I recommend flipping through it and seeing if it's to your tastes. You can check out a 30 page preview by clicking the title of this post.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Cutie Honey

Overall Rating: A+
Synopsis: The live action Cutey Honey is based on the long running media franchise of the same name. Created by Go Nagai and is considered the prototype for the transforming magical girl. Honey Kisaragi is a regular Catholic schoolgirl, until the day her father is murdered by the "Panther Claw" Organization. After his death, she learns she is actually an android created by him and within her is the Fixed System of Air Elements. By saying "Honey Flash!" she can transform into the sword-wielding red-haired superhero, Cutie Honey. Also, according to the theme song, she has the tiniest butt.

Cutey Honey is ridiculous. Ridiculously awesome. Cutey Honey gets her energy from eating...a lot, and she loves onigiri. The movie is basically campy fun, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a good laugh and a great time. Just don't expect to take it seriously.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Gentleman's Alliance Volume 1 Manga Review

Overall Rating: B
Synopsis: Written and drawn by Arina Tanemura, Gentleman's Alliance follows 15-year old Haine Otomiya as she starts high school at the exclusive Imperial Academy. Haine has been in love with Shizumasa Togu since she read the fairy tale he wrote as a child. However, he is now the Emperor (top student) at the Academy, and almost impossible to see if you aren't a Silver (second tier student) or on the student council. Haine is only a bronze, and rumor has it the Emperor already has a lover...a man.

I wasn't sure whether to love or hate Gentleman's Alliance when, in one of the earliest scenes in Volume 1, the school's delinquents released snakes into the assembly room (I am terrified of snakes). Fortunately, the snakes didn't look remotely real, and Haine captures all of them (apparently she can do so easily because she was born in the year of the snake). So, I kept reading and enjoyed the rest of volume 1.

Haine was a yanki in middle school, but has since reformed. However, she ends up getting pretty violent a couple of times in the first volume (especially after she becomes the Emperor's bodyguard) and knocks around some of the pretty boy delinquents (who are not what they seem). The only drawback is the series is I keep feeling like I've seen these characters in other manga and anime (Haine reminds me a lot of Tohru's mom in Fruits Basket).

That being said, overall it's a fun book, and I'll definitely be checking volume 2 out to see if the series develops more.