Thursday, July 30, 2009

Vampire Knight

Overall Rating: A+
Synopsis: A romance/supernatural shōjo created by Matsuri Hino, which focuses on the love triangle of Yuki Cross, Zero Kiryu, and Kaname Kuran. All three attend Cross Academy - a prestigious private school which is divided into two classes: the Day Class, which is made up of mortals, and the Night Class, which consists of vampires. The purpose of the school is to try to allow humans and vampires to live together peacefully. However, most of the students and staff in the Day Class have no idea this is going on, and apparently think it's normal for a bunch of bishōnen to only come out at night. Clearly they need their beauty rest.

Two people in the Day Class know the secret of the Academy, Yuki and Zero. Yuki is the adopted daughter of the headmaster of the school, Kaien Cross, who is a former hunter. Her earliest memory is of a snowy night when she was covered in blood and attacked by a vampire. Luckily, Kaname saved her from the vampire attack, but she can't remember why Kaname was there or what happened before he showed up.

Zero is a year older than Yuki, and is the child of hunters who were killed by a vampire. He was also taken in by Head Master Cross, and works with Yuki as a prefect for Cross Academy. The Prefects make sure that the Day Class students never learn the secret of the Night Class

Meanwhile, Kaname is the president of the Night Class, and a pureblood vampire. Purebloods are the most powerful of vampires in the Vampire Knight world, and can control or easily destroy even other noble vampires. However, Kaname chooses not to exert this control and as a result he is respected by all the other vampire noble students. He believes in Head Master Cross' goal of humans and vampires living together peacefully, and his presence keeps the other vampires in check. Normally stoic and reserved Kaname clearly dotes on Yuki, which confuses the other vampires at the school and infuriates Zero.

As the series progresses, we learn more about the past of the three main characters, the society of vampires in the Vampire Knight world, and of course the relationship between Yuki, Zero and Kaname. Who will Yuki choose?

When I picked up Vampire Knight, by Matsuri Hino, I wasn't expecting much. The premise seemed fun, if a little cheesy, but the outfits were gothalicious (yes, it's a word, I just made it up, so leave me alone). Usually I'm pretty good at gauging how much I'll like a manga early on, but this one surprised.

Sure, the story is a little cliché in parts (like how broody Zero and Kaname are over Yuki), or how obvious Zero's secret is, but overall I love the series. So far, six volumes have been released in the US so far, and volume 7 is scheduled to be released on August 4th, and you can check out a preview online at Shojo Beat. Regardless, if you like supernatural romances, then check out Vampire Knight for a fun and interesting series.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Overall Rating: B+
Summary: A urban fantasy/supernatural shōjo comedy series by Svetlana Chmakova, which follows two sisters, Alex and Sarah Treveney, who are witches. The manga itself (which is an OEL or Original English Language) centers around the Nightschool, an ordinary high school during the day, but teaches magic-based classes at night. At the beginning of the manga, Sarah has recently become a teacher at the Nightschool, and Alex is being homeschooled by her astral, a mysterious creature that is always with her. Why she is homeschooled has not been revealed yet, but it may be a part of a mysterious prophecy...

In the first volume, Alex sneaks off to practice her magic in a cemetery despite Sarah warning her not to. Unfortunately, this turns out to be a bad idea as she accidentally runs into some vampires and hunters. She manages to escape, but the hunters seem interested in her, which is almost probably not a good thing.

Speaking of the hunters, they are the other group that gets a lot of focus in the first volume. They protect humans from the "Night things", but unlike most hunters in this kind of story they don't wantonly kill the vampires, witches, and werewolves. Instead they focus on dangers to humans, and then make sure they are no longer a threat.

I had read a couple of chapters of this when it showed up in the Yen Plus manga magazine (which is where I originally read Soul Eater as well), and was interested in the plot. I ended up checking out the first volume when it was released and I was glad to see my interest held. I really enjoyed seeing the side of both the hunters and the vampires, witches and werewolves. It added a lot of depth to the supernatural aspects of the manga. On top of that, the character development was really solid, and I'm interested to see where things go from here. All-in-all a solid story and I look forward to reading volume 2.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Soul Eater Anime

Overall Rating: A++
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 "witch", Blair. Let's just say Soul has a hard time concentrating. 

Okay, for those of you who follow Hobotaku regularly, Soul Eater should be a familiar title since I reviewed the manga back in April. I gave the manga a B+ because I wasn't too impressed with the plot, but I thought it was fun. That was before I saw the anime. I hadn't read too much of the manga (roughly one volume's worth, but I can't be sure since it hasn't been released in a single volume yet), and so I stick by my assessment of the manga at the time. However, I had heard good things about the anime, and so I decided to check it out.

Since starting to watch the anime, Alison and I watched it every chance we got, and tore through the 51 episodes we could find. It hasn't been distributed in the US yet, and so we were watching fansubs, but I intend to buy it as soon as it is released here. I will happily say I was 100% wrong about the plot. The plot is fantastic, and nuanced, particularly for a shonen series. That said, it keeps the fun/funny aspect throughout the series, which made it a lot of fun to watch. The character development was phenomenal, and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire run. Now I want more. If you have a chance to check out the anime, do yourself a favor and track it down.

As a note, the anime diverges from the manga around chapter 36 of the manga, which is approximately episode 30 of the anime. After finishing the anime, I picked up the manga again via scanlations at the point where the stories diverge, and am loving it. It goes in a completley different direction, but a lot of the same things are dealt with. Minor characters in the anime get different and more meaningful roles. So, it's official, I now think both the anime and the manga are A+, and I want to cosplay Stein as well as 2 or 3 other characters. I have also made a spreadsheet of many of my friends and who they might cosplay. That's how much I love this series.

Check it out!