Friday, November 30, 2007


Overall Rating: A
Synopsis: The series is created by writer Mike Carey and artists Sonny Liew and Marc Hempel for DC Comics' Minx line. It follows Jen Dik Seong (or "Dixie"), a high school girl from a poor Korean American family. Dixie's passion is training in the ancient martial art of hapkido. The only problem is that her training keeps getting messed up, because she has a HUGE crush on a boy in her class, Adam. In order to impress him, she buys him a very expensive statue of one of the first Hapkido warriors with the money her parents gave her to enter a Hapkido tournament.

Now, Dixie has to figure out how to get into the tournament, and win Adam's affections.

I really enjoyed this book. Hell, I could almost just leave it at that. Re-Gifters is a fun, cute book with realistic characters and a well-done plot. It reminded me a little of the Karate Kid, if the main character was a young Korean American girl, and the story was a lot better. Oh, and Daniel-san had a crush on "Sweep the Leg" Johnny. Check this one out.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Wallflower Volume 1

Overall Rating: B
Synopsis: A Shōjo comedy/romance manga created by Tomoko Hayakawa. At the beginning of the manga, Sunako Nakahara confesses her love to a boy, who utterly rejects her and tells her she's ugly. As any reasonably young person would do, Sunako then discards all traces of her femininity, and retreats into odd and morbid hobbies, such as collecting skulls.

Fortunately, Sunako's aunt owns a mansion that four gorgeous boys live in (huh?). Apparently, the boys pay rent to live in the mansion, and the aunt offers them free rent if they give Sunako a Pygmalian-esque makeover, and she becomes a "perfect lady". The boys set to work, and hilarity ensues.

Often, Sunako is shown as an exaggerated version of her true self that looks like a female version Cartman from Southpark. Will these gorgeous boys succeed? Will Sunako's inner beauty shine through?

I passed over The Wallflower several times before checking it out. I'm not a huge fan of the art, but I love the ridiculous plot so far. This works pretty well as a comedy/romance Shōjo, and I'm interested in the characters. The series is ongoing, so I'm not sure how long they can keep the plot interesting, but I'll definitely be reading it for awhile. It has a lot of potential.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

XS Hybrid Volume 1

Overall Rating: B
Synopsis: Created by S. Ji-Hyung, the series is a science fiction story, and one of Dark Horse's new Manwha (South Korean manga) titles. The story is set in a future where some humans have become "hybrids", with special powers, and follows Mina, a tomboy with psychic powers (clearly one of the hybrids). These hybrids police the planet, or kill many, many people, or both.

A lot of the plot in the first volume focuses on Hinchang, a normal kid who is in love with Mina (despite the fact that she put him in a coma years before. That's love.) Hinchang spends most of the book saving Mina from being attacked by another hybrid (who looks cool and has psychic powers), and various other mysterious men (re: bad guys) who are trying to capture/kill Mina.

I like XS Hybrid, but I don't love it. I don't think there are enough really good science fiction manga/manwha, and this one comes close. Basically, I want to love it, but it hasn't grabbed me yet. I think it's because I'm not totally thrilled with either Hinchang or Mina. Hinchang isn't really interesting aside from apparently being a daredevil, and Mina seems incapable of defending herself, despite having psychic powers. Hopefully, both will develop into interesting characters in later volumes.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Shugo Chara! Volume 1

Overall Rating: B+
Synopsis: Created by Peach-Pit, the series is a shōjo manga that follows Amu Hinamori, a student at Seiyo Elementary. Amu has a reputation for being stylish and cool (that's her to the left), but she's really very shy. One night, she makes a wish that she could be her real self, and the next morning she finds three brightly colored eggs in her bed. Each egg eventually hatches a Guardian Character, angel-like beings able to change Amu into a new personality. She also has to deal with the Guardians of Seiyo Elementary, a student council group who have their own Guardian Characters (and a really stupid looking cape).

Of course, the current Guardian King at Seiyo (Guardians are based on cards, so you have King, Queen, Jack and Ace) is Tadase Hotori, Amu's love interest. As an example of how a Guardian Character can affect someone, whenever someone refers to Tadase as "Prince" (his nickname), he changes into a violent, egotistical king who wishes to rule the world. Fun, right?

I grabbed the first volume of Shugo Chara!, because it looked ridiculously cute. So far, the first volume has delivered on that cuteness in spades. The plot is interesting and while it has some familiar aspects (for example, student council being treated like royalty, and the main character having mixed emotions about joining said council), I like the concept of Guardian Characters, and it's different enough to be intriguing. Hopefully the series will live up to its promise.

Friday, November 16, 2007

School Rumble Volume 1

Overall Rating: D+
Synopsis: Created by Jin Kobayashi, the series is a romance comedy that follows Tenma Tsukamoto. Tenma attends Yagami High School, and is in love with the stoic Oji Karasuma. Meanwhile, the male protagonist, Kenji Harima, a delinquent, has developed a crush on Tenma. Both Harima and Tenma have difficulty telling their respective crushes how they feel, and so (of course) hilarity (supposedly) ensues.

There is also a large cast of supporting characters, and I could go into great detail about all of their various relationships to the main characters, but unlike Cromartie High School, the supporting cast doesn't consist of a robot, a gorilla or Fred Mercury (at least not that I've seen).

When I picked up volume 1 of School Rumble, I was hoping that it would be in the same vein as Cromartie High School. A large cast of interesting characters that I wanted to read more about and made me laugh. Not so much. Volume 1 utterly failed to get me interested. I didn't hate the characters, or the plot, but I just didn't care about either. I'm wondering if, like Cromartie, this one's better as an anime. For its sake, I hope so.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bombos vs. Everything Volume 1

Overall Rating: F
Synopsis: Created by Maximo V. Lorenzo, the series follows the titular Bombos, a paperboy who talks and fights too much. In the series, paperboys are a guild that involves a lot of strange challenges and fighting, and very little paper delivery. In the world of Bombos, there is only one goal, to get out of the backwater town he lives in, and move to the "totally awesome" city of Bokonon. To accomplish this goal, Bombos must win the mysterious (and somehow at the same time uninteresting) Qualifiers, overcome the bizarre challenges his editor-in-chief throws at him, defeat his annoying rival Veng, and dealing with his feelings for his friend Addy.

I like checking out American manga to see what's being done in that style these days, so I tried checking out Bombos vs. Everything. This book was a big disappointment for me. The art looked cool, and I was hoping for something in the vein of Scott Pilgrim or Black Metal, but the series is trying too hard. Maybe it will get more interesting in Volume 2 (apparently the series is a trilogy), but I can't recommend this one. If you're looking for good non-Japanese manga, pick up Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O'Malley, East Coast Rising by Becky Cloonan, Black Metal by Rick Spears and Chuck BB, or King City by Brandon Graham instead.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Kitchen Princess Volume 1

Overall Rating: B+
Synopsis: Written by Miyuki Kobayashi and drawn by Natsumi Ando, Kitchen Princess is a shōjo cooking series that follows Najika Kazami. Najika is an orphan from Hokkaidō, who lost her parents in an accident. After the accident, Najika thought about trying to kill herself to be with them again. Before she falls into a river to drown, a small boy catches her. He gives her his flan which has a silver spoon it. As he runs off to join his parents, Najika promises to make him the best treat ever. Eventually, she learns that the emblem on the spoon is from the Seika Academy school, so she sets out to become a great cook and get into the school.

However, after getting into Class A (the special class) at Seika Academy, Najika learns her problems are only beginning. She has to figure out who her "Flan Prince" is, and suffer the insults of the other girls in Class A. It turns out that every kid in Class A has a special talent, and the girls in Najika’s class think she doesn’t deserve to be there. She also meets and befriends Sora and Daichi Kitazawa, two brothers who hate each other, but are the most popular boys in school. They also realize what Najika's special talent is, her amazing cooking.

I liked the title of Kitchen Princess, so I decided to read the first volume. It's a cute manga, and the only reason I didn't give it an A is because the plot isn't very original. That being said, I love that they print the recipes for everything that Najika makes in the back of each volume. Especially since so many of the recipes sound delicious!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Ouran High School Host Club

Overall Rating: A
Synopsis: Created by Bisco Hatori, the series follows Haruhi Fujioka, a scholarship student at the prestigious Ouran High School. Haruhi is a girl, but she got gum put in her hair so she cut it short, and wears boys clothes. This wouldn't be terribly important, but one day she stumbles across the school's Host Club. The Host Club is basically a place for six idly rich pretty boys to be idly rich pretty boys, and idly rich pretty girls to come and fawn over them and pretend the boys are their fiancées and boyfriends. After breaking an extremely valuable vase, it is determined that Haruhi will work off her debt by becoming a member of the club. Despite the fact that she is neither idly rich, nor a boy. Oh ho dear readers, what will happen next?

After reading the description for the series, I knew I would love Ouran High School Host Club. Or, more accurately, I hoped it wouldn't be one of those manga that sounds really good, and then sucks. I read the first volume last night, and kept bothering my girlfriend by giggling while she was trying to work. I particularly loved the Host Club members, and especially loved Tamaki, the Host Club King.

He insists that everyone call him the king of the host club (even though no one does), and sulks in the corner if anyone is mean to him (which happens a lot). In short, he reminded me of me. Therefore, I spent most of the night posing, pouting, and acting like the characters in the book. I couldn't tell if this delighted or annoyed my girlfriend, or both. I am betting on the latter.

I also enjoyed how fascinated the club members were by "proletarian" food, like instant coffee and ramen. They had never eaten it before, and make a huge fuss about trying some "prole coffee". It's hilarious. I highly recommend this one to fans of Shojo manga.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Yakitate!! Japan Volume 1

Overall Rating: B
Synopsis: Created by Takashi Hashiguchi, Yakitate!! Japan is a cooking/comedy manga that follows Kazuma Azuma, a boy on his quest to create "Ja-pan", a national bread for Japan. He hopes to create a bread that people will want to eat as much as rice.

A few months ago, I was picking up some manga and comics from Chapel Hill Comics, when Andy (the owner) suggested I check out Yakitate!! Japan. I picked up the first volume, and was highly amused by it. It pokes fun at shonen titles, using standards of that genre in the context of baking. The only problem is the joke can get a little old. Fortunately, it gets funny again pretty quickly. If you want something that'll make you laugh, check this one out.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Zombie Powder Volume 1

Overall Rating: D-
Synopsis: Created by Tite Kubo (creator of Bleach), Zombie Powder is an unfinished manga with a futuristic-western setting (not unlike Trigun). The main characters is Gamma Akutabi, a mysterious man wrapped in a past shrouded in enigma (or something). He is hunting the Zombie Powder, which supposedly can bring the dead back to life and give the living immortality. Gamma has mastered an art of fighting called Karin Zanjutsu (which normally takes 32 years to master) in only 4 years. He is helped in his search for the Zombie Powder by a pickpocket named Elwood, his partner CT, and Wolfina, a female "journalist of justice".

I picked up Zombie Powder because I love Bleach, and the same creator did both series. However, the quality of work on this manga is much lower. The plot and characters have a recycled feel to them, and none of it really draws you in. I kept waiting to get into the series more (I've read the first two volumes), but I kept being disappointed. The only thing the series has going for it is that Gamma looks cool. Unfortunately, that's not enough to make me want to keeping spending money on it.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Black God Volume 1

Overall Rating: B-
Synopsis: Written by Dall-Young Lim and with art by Sung-Woo Park, Black God follows Keita Ibuki, an immature computer programmer who mooches off of his girlfriend, Akane Sano. One night on his way home from getting wasted, Keita meets a young woman named Kuro (who refers to herself in the third person) in a ramen stand. Feeling sorry for someone he mistakes as homeless (though technically she is), he gives her his soup. Unbeknownst to Keita, Kuro is a Mototsumitama (a godlike creature charged with maintaining balance in the world). When a fight between Kuro and a mysterious man breaks out, Keita is caught in the crossfire and loses an arm. He blacks out, only to wake up the next morning in his apartment, arm intact. Keita soon realizes that the arm attached to him is Kuro's, and that the arm now connects him to her. As long as she is near him, she is more powerful, but if they are separated, she weakens. Keita's life just got a lot more complicated!

I like giving new publishers of manga a shot, so I have been working my way through the new titles from Yen Press. After enjoying Zombie Loan, I decided to check out Black God. I was intrigued by the premise, and so far it hasn't disappointed. I like the characters, and the plot may not be ground-breaking, but it is solid. The only major drawback is the plot is seems to be taking it's time building up. Hopefully the second volume improves on that.

The second volumes of Black God and Zombie Loan come out in February 2008.