Friday, March 28, 2008

Switch Manga Volume 1

Overall Rating: C-
Summary: This police mystery manga by Naked Ape follows two new recruits to the Narcotics Control Department in Japan, Hal and Kai. Kai looks like your average, cute manga boy, but apparently has a violent, dark side that shows itself in the first volume. It looks like who he is and what triggers his "switch" to dark Kai is going to be a big part of this manga.

Adding to the plot is a new drug called "Dragon Speed" (basically really bad ass speed), which is being distributed by a Chinese drug ring. It's even rumored that a major star, Kyoya Shirai is addicted to the drug. Kai goes undercover to find out if he's an addict, and who his supplier is before Kyoya dies.

The premise of Switch sounded interesting, so I picked it up. The premise held for the first volume, but the characters were pretty bland. I didn’t really get into any of them, so even though the art was cool, and the story was pretty decent, I just wasn’t that interested in the book. I may check out volume 2 to see if it’s any better.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Tweeny Witches Anime Volume 1

Overall Rating: D-
Official Summary: Alice believes in magic. With all her heart, she believes that magic is possible and that it can be used for good deeds and fun games. But suddenly, she finds herself transported into another world, ruled by a mysterious elite of witches - and these witches don't seem to be in it for the fun. They're hard at work capturing sprites, the native magical beings of the world, and forcing them into slavery. Once Alice realizes that her new surroundings aren't just a dream, she sets out to change things.

I am using the "official" summary for the series, because I only got through one episode. The art is beautiful, and why I didn't give this one an F, but the dialogue is horrendous. Like painfully bad. We even tried switching to Japanese with English subtitles in case it was just a bad dub, but the subtitles were just as bad. Very disappointing, since like I said, the animation is gorgeous.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Mushishi Anime Volume 1

Overall Rating: B+
Synopsis: A historical fantasy/psychological seinen series directed by Hiroshi Nagahama and animated by Artland. The story follows Ginko, a mushishi master, who travels the land finding and studying mushi, and helping those affected by them.

In the series, mushi are described as the purest form of life, an as being in touch with the essence of life. Mushi have many different qualities and are neither good nor evil. Because of their nature, only some people can see the mushi. As a result, many of the legends of ghosts and other supernatural occurrences are humans trying to interpret the actions of the mushi. Depending on the type of mushi, they may either help or harm humans they interact with, and we see many varieties during the course of the show.

Ginko has lost the use of one eye, had his hair turned white and his other eye turned green as the result of a run-in with a mushi, but we don't learn much more about him in the first four episodes. The few things we do learn are that he constantly smokes to keep away the mushi that are always drawn to him, and that he carries a box on his back that contains medicines to help deal with the mushi.

I really enjoyed Mushishi. The series is a little slow in it's pacing, and the episodic nature of it means the only consistent character is Ginko, but it's an incredibly interesting world. I'm looking forward to watching more of the series and learning more about Ginko and the mushi.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Yozakura Quartet Volume 1

Overall Rating: B-
Synopsis: A supernatural comedy manga created by Suzuhito Yasuda, the series follows the members of the Hiizumi Seikatsu Soudan Jimusho (Hiizumi's Everyday-life Consultation Office), a group of three women with superpowers and one normal guy. As Del Ray (the publisher) puts it, "Hime is a superheroine. Ao can read minds. Kotoha can conjure up anything with the right word. And Akina . . . well, he’s just a regular guy..."

In addition to being a superheroine, Hime is also the mayor of Hiizumi and has been since her grandmother died (apparently being mayor is hereditary here). She and the rest of the team take care of the town from problems, both mundane and supernatural. Akina is the manager of the team, which apparently involves offering moral support for the women, and gets stuck paying for the food.

The first volume consists of a few stories to give us some connection to the characters and the story. The first one gives us an idea of who the team is, and then we get stories focusing on the women. The one for Hime focuses on a lost dog, that Hime seems uncharacteristically harsh to and then turns into a demon. We also have a story dedicated to Ao, and the fact that she has concerns about whether she has the right to read the minds of others. Finally, we have the story focusing on Kotoha, who wants to take a trip to Germany and we find out just how odd she is.

In my opinion, Yozakura Quartet had it's good and bad points, but the good won out. However, let's start with the bad. The plot of the stories leaves a lot to be desired, with long buildups and not-as-exciting-as-I-was-hoping adventures. However, it has a lot of promise, and the creator hints that volume 2 may pick up some. On the good side, I love the art, the characters are really interesting and fun, and the concept is great. I'm hoping volume 2, which comes out May 20th, will pull me in even more.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Black Blood Brothers

Overall Rating: D/B
Synopsis: The series is a supernatural action comedy, and it focuses on Jiro Mochizuki, an "Old Blood" (i.e. really fucking old) vampire. He and his little brother Kotaro are trying to get to the Special Zone (yep, that's what it's called), a city where vampires live.

You see, in BBB, humans know about vampires and have created the Order Coffin Company, who mediate between humans and vampires. Unfortunately, there is a group of really bad vampires called Kowloon Children who are pretty much the worst (as we are told over and over again). No one likes them, which is probably why they are so mean. That and they appear to be insane, but whatever.

Anyway, Jiro is a total bad ass, except water and sunlight mess him up. For some reason (I think they explain this at some point) Kotaro does not give even one fuck about these things, but he sucks at everything else except laughing.
Can these two get to the special zone? What will happen when they get there? Dun dun ddduuunnnnnnn!

So, it should be pretty obvious by now that this anime is ridiculous. Jiro at one point beats up his little brother (because Kotaro woke him up) by flipping the bird at Kotaro as hard as he could. Seriously. Jiro apparently has a power called the Hide Hand that lets him do this, which is silly.

Essentially, the anime makes little sense, but it is also hilarious and it's amusing to make fun of the characters and their antics. If you want a good vampire anime, check out Hellsing Ultimate. If you want to laugh at the ridiculous hat Jiro wears, then check out Black Blood Brothers.