Tuesday, April 21, 2009

20th Century Boys

Overall Rating: A+
Summary: A seinen science fiction/mystery series created by Naoki Urasawa, which follows Kenji Endō, who owns a liquor store and takes care of his infant niece. The story splits its time between the present day (which is 1999 in the story) and when Kenji was growing up with his friends in 1969.

In the present day, Kenji's friend Donkey has apparently committed suicide, but there is also a series of murders. Kenji believes all of it is tied to a strange symbol which he recognizes as being familiar, but cannot place. At the wake for his friend, he reunites with his childhood friends and they reminisce about growing up together and their "secret base". None of them can quite remember the strange symbol or its meaning, but all of them recognize it. What does the symbol mean, and what is its connection to the friends and the strange cult that is growing in popularity? Most importantly, who is "Friend" and what is their connection to Kenji and his friends?

I really can't recommend this one enough. I picked it up this weekend at Chapel Hill Comics' annual Monster Sale, because I had heard good things about it, and wanted to check it out. Now I'm trying to figure out when I can get back to Chapel Hill to buy the second volume (it's supposed to have come out today). The story and characters are well-developed and by the end of the first volume I am completely hooked. I can't wait to see where things go, and I imagine that once I'm done with the second volume I will be annoyed that the third (and final) volume doesn't come out until June.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Soul Eater

Overall Rating: B+
Summary: An action/comedy/supernatural shōnen series created by Atsushi Okubo, which follows the students of the Shinigami Weapon Meister Vocational School. The school is set in the fictional Death City, Nevada, and is run by Shinigami, the God of Death himself. The school serves as a training facility for demons who have both a human and a weapon form, and their human wielders, the meisters.

The role of the meisters and weapons is to hunt down evil humans and kill them before they can become kishin (evil demon gods). Each student and weapon pairing is trying to defeat and absorb the souls of 99 evil humans and 1 witch. Doing so will dramatically increase their power.

The series focuses on Maka Albarn and Soul, a meister/weapon pair who have collected 99 souls at the beginning of the series, and only need to defeat and absorb 1 witch before they level up. Maka is clearly the brains of the operation, and Soul is the brawn. He is too obsessed with being "cool" and attacks head on, while Maka tries to exploit her opponents' weaknesses to defeat them. The two are constantly bicker, especially when they are facing the...um...voluptuous "witch", Blair. Let's just say Soul has a hard time concentrating. 

Sould Eater is one of those manga that's just fun. The plot is kind of strung together, but it's the kind of silly, fun manga to read when you're bored and you don't want to start a 20+ volume series. Yen Press has been releasing books similar to Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat with collection of manga the company is planning to release. Soul Eater is one of those manga and the first volume is due out in October.