Thursday, April 29, 2010

"A Servant And A Master" - Emma: A Victorian Romance (manga) - 9/10 Sugar Cubes

Love one another and you will be happy. It's as simple and as difficult as that. ~Michael Leunig

Genre: Romance/ Historical/ Drama

Review Status: Full (7 Volumes/ 7 Volumes)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art: Very good. The details on the hair and clothing are wonderful. The characters all look very good. It looks very clean.

Summary: Emma has spent most of her life as house maid to an old lady. Now her employer receives a visit from a young man, William Jones, to whom she was once governess. The meeting between William and Emma is the beginning of a romance that crosses all social boundaries. (

Review: Yes, this is the manga version of the anime Emma: A Victorian Romance. There's not a whole lot I can say aboutit that hasn't been said about the anime- it's sweet and to the point, dealing with the issues that keep Emma and William apart in that day and age.

Wait- there is stuff I can say about it. Like how it deviates from the anime around the third volume. Which is okay! Sometimes, things that are in mangas are not animation-friendly. There's different events, even some events that are in here that you never see in the anime, including several instances of (not meant for fanservice) bathing, where you get to see (both literally and figuratively) deeper into the work and love lives of the maids. The love triangle that was in the anime never happens, though Hans' crush is made obvious- and the ending to the whole anime is quite different than the manga.

Even so, this stands on it's own merits. You see clearly the lifestyles of the servants and the upper class. There's still plenty of romantic drama to go around, which should be a big draw, but there's also many sweet, tender moments between William and Emma. I still love the characters- you get to see them from a different point of view, and sometimes a bit more intimately, in this manga. And I love this for it.

Overall, this is a good manga. It's short and sweet, and leaves you with a smile. Maybe a bit too short for the story, but in the end, it works out fine.

Recommended: Sure. Just keep it out of the hands of anyone who would be bothered by the nudie-bits. 14 and over, if mature enough to handle that.

Other series you might like:
Spice and Wolf (anime)
Saiunkoku Monogatari (anime)
Dear My Girls (manga)
Early and Fairy (anime)
Romeo x Juliet (anime)
The Place Promised In Our Early Days (anime)
Emma: A Victorian Romance (anime)
5 Centimeters Per Second (anime)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"I'm Going! Or Maybe Not..." - Heaven Bound (manga) - 5/10 Sugar Cubes

The best way to get to heaven is to take it with you. ~Henry Drummond

Genre: Christian/ sci-fi/ drama

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Review Staus: Partial (1 Volume/ ? Volumes - only 1 published so far, but it's been cancelled as of April 26, 2010:,1259.0.html, so there may ever only be one.)

Art: Decent. Not as polished and professional-looking as most mangas out there, but decent doujin quality. Characters all look very individual. Backgrounds are pretty much nonexistant, and very plain when they are drawn out.

Summary: Getting everything you want isn't akways as great as it seems...and young Elijah Worthy found this fact out as a child. Subjected to experiments said to make him and many other people live in a perfect dream-state on the intergalatic space station "Heaven Bound", they would be able to pierce through the edge of the universe and find true heaven...and God. But when things have gone awry, and the implants cause them not to go into a deep, blissful sleep, but to gain awful, life-changing mutations, their sight of God has been all but lost. Now, everyone with the mutations is forced to live on Heaven Bound, because the normal world completely rejects them. Can Elijah keep his secret of being a Christian from the rest of the ship? Or will he befall the same fate of others like him? (From the back cover of Heaven Bound, Volume 1).

Review: Okay, I've never been a big fan of most Christian.... anything. All too often, the stories fail to be compelling, falling on every cliche that can be asociated with these types of stories. Considering the dearth of Christian manga out there, I suppose that this isn't too bad for a breakout attempt. However, this also falls far short of something that could seriously be put out there for the masses.

The premise for this story is interesting. However, there are some clear logical inconsistancies that become clear once you get farther into the story. For instance, the people of the ship getting angry at God for letting their implants malfunction- wouldn't it be far more likely that they would get angry at the scientist who invented them and hunt him down? Especially when no scientist worth their salt would let people wear them without extensive testing to ensure that problems didn't occur? And would other scientists have wanted to verify that they would work, and want to know the science behind it?

Then you have the issues of cliches, which run rampant through this story. The 'evil' girl has horns. Been there, done that. Horns scream evil. And then you have the girl who the protagonist is going to hook up with- it's so unbelievably obvious it isn't funny. She's sweet, has an overprotective older brother, and is not only good with kids... she's a teacher! If there was ever a stereotype for the ideal Christain girl, she would be it. And to top it off, to emphasize how evil his original girlfriend is, she gets pregnant from a one-night stand with the main character and decides to get an abortion.

Now, I think it's okay whether or not you're for or against abortion. It's none of my business. However, how this woman is portrayed in her reasoning is degrading to all the women for which it's been a heart-rendering decision. The vast majority of women do not use it as a birth control method- for most, it's a decision they make because they can't afford to feed another child, or they can't afford time off work after birth or they won't be able to make payments on their apartment, or will be fired for not being able to work because of the pregnancy, or any number of reasons. The way this woman choosing an abortion is.... nigh on unforgivable.

Overall, this is fine if you're younger or have strict, religous parents or family.

Recommended: No. Not unless you're desperate for manga with a Christian message to it- there are other, secular mangas that do clean romances better, though. 14+ due to some light violence and implied sex.

Other series you might like instead: Shelter of Wings (manga)
Searching for the Full Moon (manga and anime),
To The Terra (anime series and manga)
Escaflowne (anime series)
Planetes (anime and manga)
Hotel (manga)

Monday, April 26, 2010

"To Move On, A Deliverance" - Mail (manga) - 7/10 Sugar Cubes

Death can sneak up on you like a silent kitten, surprising you with it's touch and you have a right to act surprised. Other times death stomps in the front door, unwanted and unannounced, and makes it's noisy way to your seat on the sofa. ~Hugh Elliott

Genre: Horror/ Supernatural/ Drama

Review Status: Full (3 Volumes/ 3 Volumes)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art: It doesn't look a whole like your traditional manga. Bodies are drawn in proportion (no chibis at any time), no extra-large eyes, no wild hair colors... it looks like an American comic, in fact, in terms of how everything is drawn. And it also looks really nice, with clean lines and uncluttered background (though those backgrounds exist- they just aren't uuber-fancy)

Summary: An episodic horror manga in which the enigmatic Reiji Akiba combines being a private detective with being an exorcist - at the behest of his clients, Akiba traces the origins of troublesome ghosts before dispatching them to the afterlife with his sanctified spiritual gun. (from

Review: I'm a big fan of the mangaka's other work, Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, so I decided to check out an earlier work he's done. It's an interesting anthology of horror shorts, focusing on the different stories of the dead (how they came to wander). It's an interesting setup, vaguely reminicent of the "Twilight Zone" opening, where you have a what-if question followed by a scenario. In this case the questions/observations are set up by the main character, and the story follows.

Each is a look into the cases of this excorcist/detective. What he has to do to track down these spirits, how he has to find where they're hiding, etc. But the even bigger focus is on the dead themselves and how their spirits came to be the vengeful beings that they are. How they terrorize the living is just as important as how they come to be.

Thankfully, we even get a look into this man's past- how he came to see these spirits and become an excorcist, which is just as fascinating as the rest of the stories.

There isn't much more to say about it- it has a somewhat abrupt end, but that's okay. These stories were rather episodic anyway. The flow is good, and the narration very tight.

Overall, it's a nice, short manga series. Not for the younger set, but if your older and into horror, give it a try!

Recommended: Sure. It would be good for an evening where you're in the mood to be creeped out. Teens and up, though, due to some nudity and somewhat graphic violence (murdered baby by poisoned milk, suicide picture, severed heads, etc.) So teens and up, please!

Other series you might like:
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (manga),
Kieli (manga or light novels)
Natsume's Book of Friends (manga and anime)
Ghost Hunt (anime)
Shiki anime and manga)

"It's All Fun And Games Until Somebody Gets The Monster Flu" - Cowa! (Manga) - 7/10 Sugar Cubes

There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them. ~Andre Gide

Genre: Supernatural/ Comedy/ Drama

Review Status: Full (1 Volume/ 1 Volume)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art: Simple but effective. You have decent-looking characters and backgrounds, which maks it easier for kids to read.

Summary:A contagious Monster Flu is spreading around town like wildfire. Can the town's troublemaker, a half-vampire, half-werekoala and his friends get the medicine in time to save everyone?! Paifu, a half-vampire half-werekoala, is always getting into trouble with his best buddy, José the ghost. But when the Monster Flu sweeps through town, the fun and games are over. If the sick monsters don't get the medicine they need in a month, everyone will die! With all the adults sick, it's up to the boys to get the medicine and save the day! Paifu and José are off on a big adventure, but will they get the medicine in time...or will they become victims themselves?!

Review: This was adorable. It was short, had a simple storyline, was easy to follow, and would definitely appeal to the younger set. This story is rife with things that kids will eat up- jokes about farting, 'bravery tests' where the monsters are afraid of the humans, character interactions that they'll understand (seriously, have you ever seen to little kids fighting over who gets the front seat? Yep, that and more).

There's not much to tell- you see that some of the monsters aren't very nice, some of the humans aren't very nice. But there are good people of both kinds. There's lots of comedic violence- bad guys getting knocked out, etc., but not too much considering how short this series is. It's most definately not all about the fighting. There's also many misadventures along the way to get the medicine, like wrecking a car and having to deal with a monster at the base of the mountain that will kill you.

But overall, this shows kids being kids, however weird they might be. And that's the charm that this series holds.

Overall, this is a cute series for the younger ones.

Recommended: Sure, if you have younger brothers or sisters around the house. 5 and up.

Other series you might like:
Chibi Vampire (manga),
Kamichu! (manga and anime),
Ghost Hunt (manga)
Natsume's Book of Friends (anime and manga)
Bizenghast (manga)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

“And We’ll See The World” – Kurenai (anime) – 6/10 Sugar Cubes

It is not down in any map; true places never are. ~Herman Melville

Genre: Action/ Comedy/ Drama

Review Status: Full (12 Episodes/ 12 Episodes)

Licensed: Unlicensed in the US, licensed in France

Art: Not too bad. It may look a little rough, but the animation is smooth and it looks NOTHING like the OP (thank goodness!). It’s full of bright, saturated colors. In short- it looks good.

Summary: Based on a series of light novels, Kure-nai is about the adventures and misadventures of 16-year-old Kurenai Shinkurou. Shinkurou is an authority in settling disputes between people, and finds his life turned upside down one day when he is assigned as a bodyguard for Kuhouin Murasaki, the daughter of a powerful plutocratic family. (from

Review: I have to say, this was nothing if not interesting. Girl is stolen from her ‘family’ on the wishes of her dead mother, dumped on a teenager who knows nothing about taking care of kids and yet is expected to expand her view of the world and be her bodyguard? Sounds…. Somewhat familiar. And it isn’t done badly.
I mean, you do have to have a suspension of disbelief to accept most of what goes on – Shinkurou is apparently a budding Yakuza (or something like that- we’re never really given any clarification) who at 16 is getting to be pretty good at what he does. Whatever that is- we see him taking care of a lot of punks, but not a whole lot more. What gets me is his ‘Horn’, a magical weapon that really had no place in the story and could have been left entirely out of the plot, as it serves absolutely no purpose.

Murasaki, though, is absolutely adorable. Taken from an upper-class home and family, she behaves like many other spoiled children do: not knowing how to thank others, open packages from the convenience store to feed herself, or clean up after herself. She herself is completely believable, and though is at first annoying because she’s a bit of a brat, quickly learns that she can’t behave the same way that she did in her home.

The situation itself, though, is highly questionable. Since the person who stole Murasaki was only given directions to let her see the world, she decided to dump the girl in the heart of the family’s territory. They don’t bother to change her name, take her to a different part of the country- nothing! So you just know it’s a matter of time until they find her.

How Murasaki is treated while she’s with Shinkurou is pretty believable, though would probably shock some. But the thing is, there are worse people out there- at least she’s surrounded by people who care for her well-being. They may not be the best foster parents in the world, but who is?

But then you get to the end- and woah. It’s just not right. How they find Murasaki, what happens with her family, even her family situation… it’s totally messed up! There’s unsound biology and outright stupidity on everyone’s part, and I was disgusted by it all. What had started as a cute little anime turned into a train wreck of morals and emotions.

Overall, I’d say watch the first seven episodes, then leave happy.

Recommended: Only if you’re into depressing endings. This also isn’t the most kid-friendly of titles out there, so 14 and over.

Other anime you might like instead:
Baby and Me (manga),
Fruits Basket (manga),
Kiki's Delivery Service (anime),
Kaleido Star (anime),
Aishiteruze Baby (manga and anime)
Bunny Drop (manga)

Friday, April 9, 2010

“Nothing As Scary As Love” – Kimi ni Todoke (anime) – 7/10 Sugar Cubes

"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed." ~Carl Jung

Genre: Romance/ Shoujo/ School/ Comedy

Review Status: Full (25 Episodes/ 25 Episodes)

Licensed: As of the beginning of July 2011, this anime is licensed in the US

Art: Most of the time it looks nice, sometimes it’s a bit shoddy. Occasionally there are weird/odd character designs that are put in places where they’re not needed. The colors are bright, though, and the animation tends to be pretty smooth.

Summary: Kuronuma Sawako is nicknamed Sadako due to her resemblance to the girl from the Japanese horror movies "The Ring". Shunned by her classmates, her life starts to change as she befriends Shōta Kazehaya, a very popular boy in her class.

Kuronuma Sawako’s one wish in life is to make friends. That’s a difficult proposition when everyone who meets her cowers in terror. She admires her classmate, Kazehaya-kun, a popular, easygoing and 100% refreshing guy who is nice with everyone, even with her. (from

Review: I picked this up not expecting to be impressed. After all, what could this offer but more schoolgirl shenanigans, fanservice, and a bit of a harem romance?

As it turns out, a lot more.

For one, from the start you know that the main characters are really into each other. There’s no playing around with that- in fact, the whole story centers around waiting for them to get up the gumption to realize that the other feels the same way and get together. Along the way Sada Sawako learns how to make friends, keep friends, interact with people socially (which she is thrilled by, even if they’re telling her that they’re her rival in love), and just goes around being a nice person who wants to please others.

No fanservice here, except for a brief shot of a guy’s back. That’s it. No boob comedy, no bloody noses- nothing! It’s also the farthest thing from a harem that you could get. Not only do Sawako’s friends have no interest in her crush, they have their own, separate love lives with different men! Woot! And even those relationships are kept reasonable- Chizuru with a childhood friend, Ayane with… well, that’s only suggested at, but even that’s not particularly disturbing given the girls’ ages. Beyond that, it’s technically the second relationship Ayane has in the anime- she breaks off the first one because her boyfriend gets abusive. Yeah, you heard me right, they use her relationship to give a dose of Girl Power! Not only does she break it off with him (permanently), but when she does, she’s SO over it! No weeping over jerks like that! To give a supporting character that kind of limelight and power in a relationship is, unfortunately, rather rare and impressed me a lot.

There are some things that left me wanting, though, and why I’m only rating it an 7. First would be the art/animation factor. The next would be the minor logic fail that happens rather early on, when they introduce one of Sawako’s friends from junior high. A friend she technically shouldn’t have, and is erased from her memory within the next episode, and is never brought up again. And thirdly, I’m so sick of the cliché of a girl with long black hair being scary, when all it takes is a little makeup, a hairpin, and a smile to make her a socially acceptable, pretty being. I’ll bet you that if you look at a bunch of pictures of Asian models, many of them will have long hair and a lot of them won’t be smiling. Are they considered scary? Maybe to some, but let’s be serious here. And double points off for needing to buy the manga to see when/how everyone gets together- you’re left with a solid groundwork for guessing as everyone walks home with someone they like (or are slightly annoyed by, in one case), but don’t really see it.

EDIT: Updating as of 10/31/2010- the second season of Kimi ni Todoke has been CONFIRMED fot the 2010 winter anime season! It should start airing (and being subbed) in January. There will be a seperate review of it once it's over. I'm recinding my statement about needing to buy the manga to see who gets with whom until further notice.

Overall, this is a very sweet, charming anime that’s fairly family friendly, and worth watching. Or, in case you don’t want to be left with a cliffhanger, buying the manga isn’t a terrible option.

Recommended: Yeah. As long as you don’t mind picking up the manga to figure out whether all the couples actually, really, for-sure get together. Appropriate for all ages!

Other anime you might like:
Ouran Host Club (anime and manga),
Kanon (anime),
Clannad and Clannad Afterstory (anime),
Ah! My Goddess (anime and manga),
Bamboo Blade (anime and manga),
Fruits Basket (manga)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

“Meet me at the Crystal Palace”- Emma: A Victorian Romance (anime) - 10/10 Sugar Cubes

Love one another and you will be happy. It's as simple and as difficult as that. ~Michael Leunig

Genre: Historical romance, drama

Review Status: Full (24/24)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Summary: (Off the box covers for Season 1) In 19th century London, class lines are sharply drawn, and the social standing to which people are born dictates the path their lives will follow. Emma, an honest and hardworking young maid, never felt her place in life to be a burden. But then she met William, a member of the gentry and eldest son of a wealthy family. His warm smile and earnest affection threaten to capture her heart… but can love truly conquer all?

: Excellent. Maybe not movie quality, but way above par for a TV series. And the detail that goes into clothing and mannerisms is exquisite.

Review: Some stories are classic. That’s why they sell so well in the “Romance” section of your local bookstore. Seriously, I knew exactly what I was getting into when I bought this series- and yet, it was so much more. Maid and aristocrat fall in love? Yeah, it’s been done before, in a hundred stories since that era began. But to have it done well….. Well, that’s a rare treat.

No hooks, no gimmicks, no otherworldly creatures attacking London. This anime is exactly what it markets itself to be: A story about two people who fall in love during a time when your reputation and station in life were all you had to make a decent life for yourself. And it is as clean a story as could ever grace the screen! Except for two brief moments where Emma’s second employer is dressing (and you will get full-on nudity in those shots), there’s no sex, no dirty language, nada. Everything is held to Victorian standards of modesty, and the love between Emma and William is kept passionate and true, but innocent in the no-fanservice way I wish more anime were made.

The characters are excellent- the story holds true to Victorian attitudes, so there’s no instant acceptance or happy welcoming into the family (otherwise where would the story be?). Instead, there’s drama, betrayal, and a wild ride though the streets of London-town that had me cracking up! The story is relatively simple, but well told. It never deviates into pointless storyline or extra episodes- not that there’d be room for filler in this story anyway. And the romance? As good as it can get.

Overall: I can watch this over and over again. Great characters, art, animation, and a storyline that can pull your heartstrings make this an investment of time that I do not regret.

Recommended: Yes! 10+. There is a 2-second scene where you see a nakked woman from behind, but this scene is non-sexual.

Other Series You Might Like:
Romeo x Juliet (anime)
The Place Promised In Our Early Days (anime)
Spice and Wolf (anime)
Saiunkoku Monogatari (anime)
Emma: A Victorian Romance (manga)
5 Centimeters Per Second (anime)
Seirei no Moribito (anime)

“I Have A Bad Feeling About This” – Rensou no Aria (Manga) – 3/10 Sugar Cubes

Genre: Shoujo, Romance, Drama

Review Status: Full (1 Volume/ 1 Volume)

Licensed: Unlicensed in the US

Summary: Aria’s parents have been gone since she was very young. Thus, she’s had to grow up in a “foster home” of sorts, and was raised by nuns. On her 16th birthday, Aria receives a present in the mail– a ring from her “Daddy-long-legs” (a man who protects someone from afar while they’re growing up)! All of a sudden Aria’s life is thrown into chaos. Men try to run her over with cars, shoot her, and kidnap her. Relief comes in the form of Canon, who claims he’s her bodyguard. But can he keep Aria safe forever? (From Naberoshi Manga)

Review: First off, the pros of this manga- The art is fairly well done- even if the characters seem to have oddly large eyes, it’s short, and…. It’s short. Yeah, not a whole lot to commend it, is it? However, in this manga, you can tell where the story had been compressed into something that closely resembles a ball of fluff. We in the know refer to this “Akira Compression Syndrome”- where a long, complex story is condensed into a short amount of time, such as when Akira the manga was compressed into a one-and-a-half hour movie.

In this case, a story of a girl and her bodyguard has become a love-at-first sight story- something that CAN be done well, with finesse and time, but instead within a day or two (or a few pages, as the case is) not only realize their love for each other but confess it and get their happily-ever-after.

And of course, the bodyguard and the girl have a “past history” together, which she doesn’t remember but is the reason he loves her.

Of course, the man who threatens to tear them apart instantly regrets what he’s done after his best friend is injured protecting the girl (and you get a gold star if you can guess who his best friend is!). Ooops, did I spoil that for you?

I’m not sorry. This was a pathetic attempt to fit all sorts of shoujo clichés into a story that was too short and made it obvious, lame, and a waste of time. It’s great if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands to read more involved stories, but for everyone else, stay far, far away.

Recommended: No. Well, maybe if you’re about 10 or so, which is about the age group that would enjoy this insipid story.

Other ones you'd like instead:
Full Metal Panic (anime),
Searching for the Full Moon (anime and manga)
Alice in the Country of Hearts (manga)

“I’m Gonna Be A… Wait for it…..” - Yu Yu Hakusho (Manga) – 4/10 Sugar Cubes

I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter. ~ Sir Winston Churchill

Genre: Supernatural/ Action/ Shounen

Review Status: Pretty Close to Full (Chapters 1-45, then 80 –end)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art: Dated. Decent for when it was made, but this is one series that needs a serious makeover. Also, sometimes the panels have flow problems that can be distracting/ confusing as to what’s going on.

Summary: One day, 14 year old Yusuke Urameshi suddenly finds himself dead, having died pushing a child out of the way of oncoming traffic. Since he has such a bad personality, even the Spirit World was caught by surprise that he would sacrifice himself. Yusuke soon finds out he wasn't supposed to die and has a chance for resurrection and bringing his body back to life. After being resurrected, Yusuke becomes a Spirit Detective, along with his comrades, and one adventure after another happens, whether it be an investigation or a fighting tournament. (From

Review: Man, oh man. This has to be one of the biggest letdowns I’ve ever read in my life. The story idea? Original, good. The first couple of arcs? Decent, good. And about a quarter of the way through the series comes the biggest mindfuck I have ever read- instead of this being a story about a boy’s salvation, it becomes a DBZ-style intergalactic fighting tournament.

I can assure you, the moment that it was brought into the storyline, I had a big WTF? over my head.

No longer was I reading about a boy growing and learning as a person, I was instead watching him battle creatures from other planets. Every chapter there would be perhaps two pages of characters talking/ walking around, and no character development whatsoever. Everything that had happened before pretty much goes right out the window, leaving you with the remnants of all the hopes that you had pinned to this series bleeding out in your hands.

To top it all off, even after the tournament is over, it’s as if the first part of the series NEVER HAPPENED! There is no ‘grand conclusion’, no ‘figuring everything out’, no NOTHING! And that is why I hate it with all my soul.

Recommended: Only the first 30 or so chapters- then put it down and let your imagine fill in the rest. Trust me, it’s better that way.

Other Series You Might Enjoy Instead: Soul Eater (manga)
School Rumble (anime)
Full Metal Alchemist (manga and anime, both original and FMA: Brotherhood)
Black Cat (manga)

“It’s Alive!... Well, Sorta….” - Zombie Powder (Manga)- 6/10 Sugar Cubes

Death is a very dull, dreary affair, and my advice to you is to have nothing whatsoever to do with it. ~ W. Somerset Maugham

: Action/ Supernatural/ Comedy/ Teen

Review Status: Full (27 Chapters/ 27 Chapters or 4 Volumes/ 4 Volumes)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art: Up-to-date, very clear and pleasant to look at. Good flow between the panels. Character designs are fairly standard.

Summary: Somewhere in the desert lies the world's greatest treasure: the 12 Rings of the Dead, the only source of the mysterious substance Zombie Powder, which can raise the dead and grant eternal life. Into this world stalks Gamma Akutabi, a man with a metal arm and a six-foot chainsaw, cybernetically enhanced master of the legendary martial arts. But it takes more than one man to find the ultimate prize. You need a team: super-gunman C.T. Smith, knife-slinging teenager Elwood, and brilliant (and impossibly big-breasted) journalist Wolfgangina. Against an army of crooks and killers, against runaway trains and superpowered madmen, they'll need all their skills... but the most dangerous thing in the west might be the Rings themselves... (Source: Viz)

Review: I have a friend with a very special skill- picking out manga that have been cut short by their authors in order to work on others that have become immensely popular. In this case, the author went on to write one of the most famous mangas on earth: Bleach. Because this series wasn’t nearly as popular, it was cut short. However, what I did read was pretty good, and could have been a really good manga if given half a chance.

The characters, unfortunately, all seem to be one-note. Gamma is laid-back, at first acting like he doesn’t care but really does (which is how he gains his followers), and really good at fighting. Not much background to him- hinted at, since he’s searching for the Zombie Powder, but nothing’s ever confirmed. Wolfgangia (and what a name that is!) is a large-boobed gal who’s determined to get her scoop. She’s rather annoying, as she’ll follow her leads straight into the jaws of danger- unfortunately, she seems rather stupid oblivious to the danger. But she does have a good heart, since she’s doing it to help out her fellow townspeople. Elwood is the star of the series, since you not only get his story right away, but you can sympathize with him and watch as he grows as a character.

The story itself is your typical action story- they travel around, fight bad guys, try to get the Rings of Power… I mean, Rings of the Dead. Since the story is so short, there really isn’t much else to it, unfortunately. But what is there is fairly exciting. Of course, I’m pleased by anything that doesn’t resort to ki-blast after ki-blast, so I might not be the best person to judge that.

I’m sorry that this manga didn’t get a chance to go on. Even though I didn’t find it the most thrilling out there, I think it could have grown on me given the chance.

Recommended: Why not? As long as you don’t mind the story being cut short when it’s just getting to the good part. Teens and up due to violence and blood.

Other series you might like: Fullmetal Alchemist (manga and anime, both the original and FMA: Brotherhood),
Black Cat (manga),
Soul eater (manga)
Trigun (manga)
Baccano! (anime)
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (anime)

“Just Because I Don’t Have A Face, Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Have A Soul…” – Hotel (Manga) - 10/10 Sugar Cubes

When the robot mind is mastered, undisciplined thinking ceases and is replaced by awareness. Awareness can know love. ~ Barry Long

Genre: Sci-fi/ Drama

Review Status: Full (1 Chapter/ 1 Chapter)

Licensed: Unlicensed in the US

Art: Excellent. More of an American comic style than manga, but it works in favor of the realism in this story.

Summary: In the year 2272 A.D. Mankind is extinct. A computer continues to live on in order to complete a mission in a world where all life has gone extinct. This is a record of those 27 million years of its heroic struggle.

Review: Sometimes a story hits you so deeply it’s hard to find the words to express yourself. For me, this is it. This is a story in the vein of, and perhaps influenced by, many of Isaac Asimov’s stories, from Bicentennial Man to I, Robot (and yes, those were books long before they were movies).

It isn’t long- it doesn’t need to be. The narration has a flow that is very tight. Nothing more than necessary is said, and what is said is more than enough to convey what has happened, what is happening. The art is also clear, concise, breathtaking in some places, adding depth to what is said.

There are many layers of feeling in this story, from the ironic to melancholy, to hope that has lasted far longer than it had any right to.

Overall, it is the story of a robot and his duty, at times an honor, at times a burden, but surviving beyond the end of time until a new beginning.

Recommended: Read it. 10+ for implied deaths of all humans and for the robot.

Other series you might like: Pluto (manga)
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou (manga)
Someday's Dreamers (manga and anime)
Saturn Apartments (manga)
Planetes (manga and anime)

“A Princess In Time” – Time Stranger Kyoko (Manga) - 8/10 Sugar Cubes

Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back. ~ Harvey MacKay

Genre: Mahou Shoujo/ Fantasy/ Romance

Review Status: Full (3 Volumes/ 3 Volumes)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art: Very pretty, very detailed, very pleasing to look at. Overall, excellent quality.

Summary: Suomi Kyoko is the first princess of the 30th century Earth Nation... though she doesn't seem to like that title at all. Kyoko wants to live a normal life without responsibilities. As her desire to be completely free grew stronger, she discovered that there could be one possibility for her: if her twin sister Ui, asleep from the very day of her birth, could be awakened, she could take Kyoko's place as the future queen of the Earth. Unfortunately, the only way to wake Ui is finding the twelve God Stones, as well as the twelve Strangers, the persons who can control them. With her two loyal bodyguards, Sakataki and Hizuki, Kyoko sets off on a journey to stop her sister's enchanted sleep. (From

Review: I’m always wary of short manga, as they have a tendency to fall flat both in story and characterization. Through the first few chapters of this, I thought it would be the same as most other short manga I’ve read. Thankfully, the story quickly developed into something that made me smile and feel for the characters.

While Kyoko originally seemed a tad whiny, she still was overall a very happy character that really cares for her friends and has issues of her own way beyond needing to wake up her sister. Her bodyguards at their worst were merely amusing. Unfortunately, due to the constrained length of this manga, you don’t get too much of most of the other side characters other than two of the first Strangers that she encounters. This is darned shame, because they all looked like they had interesting stories/encounters behind them…. But thinking back on it, going through each one may have become slightly repetitive after a while. And going through them in one blow let the story get to the good parts faster ^.^

So the story? More original than most that get churned out these days! Finding the God Stones takes more thought than “I really need to wake up my sister so please give it to me!”, and at the same time, she has to deal with the problems her friends have. It’s also not like she gets her powers straight off- even she has to prove she’s good enough to have them. Since a major part of the story is the romance, there is the obligatory love triangle (or should I call it a square?), but even so it works itself out in a nice, touching way.

Overall, this is a great story, and nice if you just want a quick read. While the story does suffer a bit from its compression, the mangaka had enough skill to pull out and emphasize what was important to make this one a classic.

Recommended: Sure. I thoroughly enjoyed this romp through magic-land, and I think you would too. It’s also kid-friendly, so don’t be afraid of leaving it out where they can reach 

Other series you might like:
Kamikaze Kaito Jean (manga),
Card Captor Sakura (anime)
Shugo Chara! (anime or manga)),
Gakuen Alice (manga)

“Love Is Blind” – Koi Kaze (Manga) – 9/10 Sugar Cubes

When love is not madness, it is not love. ~Pedro Calderon de la Barca

Genre: Romance/ Drama/ School

Review Status: Full (5 Volumes/ 5 Volumes)

Licensed: Unlicensed in the US

Art: Simplistic, but merely because this is a simple story, not because it’s childish. There is great detail and attention paid to the character’s expressions.

Summary: Saeki Koushirou works as a wedding planner, but his own love life is a shambles. His background makes it difficult for him to commit himself wholeheartedly to love. The child of a divorced couple, he lives with his father. He has a mother and a sister, but he has not seen them in years. After being dumped by his girlfriend, a chance encounter with a female high school student shakes Koushirou's calm and awakens new feelings in him - but he learns that the girl is in fact his sister, who will now be staying with his father and him. Yet, the feelings in Koushirou's heart... (From

Review: First of all: Yes. This is a story about incest. It’s not your usual fodder of “oh we grew up together and I lurve u lots!” No, this utilizes and actual, documented scientific phenomena of genetic sexual attraction (, where two siblings of the opposite gender who meet as adults find each other sexually attractive.

And that’s where everything goes wrong for these two- they meet, have no idea that they’re siblings, and find themselves falling for each other. And when they do meet, well… it’s not like they can live happily ever after. They both know that their love is wrong, and try to deny their attraction, but even so, end up together.

Don’t get me wrong- this manga doesn’t try to say that incest is okay or normal. Nor does it have its characters condemned to fire and brimstone. It doesn’t moralize the story, though one of the side characters that figures out what’s going on does openly show her disapproval (though, out of respect for her coworker, doesn’t share her knowledge).

Overall, this manga handles the subject of incest in an intensely tasteful, delicate way. It doesn’t use it merely as an excuse for porn, or say it’s right, only that between the two characters in the story, it exists.

Recommended: Yes. This is an excellent, tasteful, realistic story. However, as it is a sensitive subject, it isn’t for the family. So if you’re 16 and over, folks! Implied sex between a minor and adult, and it is (obviously) incestuous.

Other series you might like: Bitter Virgin (manga),
Alice 19th (manga),
NANA (manga and anime)
Ayashi no Ceres (manga)
Solanin (manga)

“But I Wanna Pet It!” - Beast Master (Manga) – 4/10 Sugar Cubes

I don't like small birds. They hop around so merrily outside my window, looking so innocent. But I know that secretly, they're watching my every move and plotting to beat me over the head with a large steel pipe and take my shoe. ~Jack Handy

Genre: Shoujo/ Romance

Review Status
: Full (2 Volumes/ 2 Volumes)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art: Since this manga was made for a younger age set, it’s a tad cartoonish. But it’s clean and easy to look at.

Summary: Yuiko Kubozuka is a high school girl who loves animals. Unfortunately, animals hate her and flee from her whenever possible. So when a new classmate, Reo Aoi, turns out to be a scary guy who resembles a wild animal than anything human, she is intrigued. Not only because Reo has an affinity with animals which she envies, but also because he isn’t the wild animal that he seems to be. He seems to hide a very sweet disposition behind his scary features. Or so she thought. The truth is revealed when they are attacked and Reo immediately behaves like a wild animal and gets violent like a blood-thirsty animal, just to save Yuiko.

Review: This started out pretty well. Girl that can’t get animals to like her? Sure. Boy who’d essentially been raised in the wilds? Fine (even though even in the deepest reaches of Africa they still have cola, and the only desert islands that are around now are the ones that are so barren they can’t support life). I could deal with all that- I mean, stories are built on improbabilities.

So why such a low rating? Because I totally lost respect for it around chapter 3. Out of a 6-chapter manga, I lost respect at chapter 3. Because the heroine, a fully mentally-developed high school girl (or at least so the mangaka claimed) decided that it would be a good idea to feel a dog that had obviously gone feral and had shown vicious behavior towards her earlier. *headdesk*
Seriously?! Five-year-olds know not to approach dogs like that! She deserved to be ripped to pieces!

Of course, it’s used as an opportunity to show how beast-boy can save her, how wild he is, etc, etc. But I still think that’s one of the outright STUPIDEST ways to get that to happen.

Bad mangaka! Bad!

It doesn’t help that something out-and-out ridiculous happens in the two chapters after. I couldn’t regain the vague respect I’d had for it before.

Overall, you should drop this like a hot rock and read something- anything- else.

Recommended: Anything else. Or give it to your ten-year-old-sister.

Others you might like instead: Time Stranger Kyoko (manga),
Ouran High School Host Club (manga and anime),
Card Captor Sakura (the anime)
Full Metal Panic! (anime)
Alice in the Country of Hearts (manga)

“Love is Painful, and Great, and Confusing, and…”- Paradise Kiss (Manga) – 6/10 Sugar Cubes

To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering one must not love. But then one suffers from not loving. Therefore to love is to suffer, not to love is to suffer. To suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy then is to suffer. But suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be unhappy one must love, or love to suffer, or suffer from too much happiness. I hope you're getting this down. ~ Woody Allen

Genre: Drama, Romance

Review Status: Full (5 Volumes/ 5 Volumes)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art: Sumptuous. Stylized. One might think that the mangaka had spent more time inventing the outfits the characters had to wear than thinking up the storyline itself (and due to how greatly this manga/anime had influenced style in Japan, who could blame me?). Even so, visually, the character designs might take a short time to get used to, but overall the designs that go into this look fabulous.

: Yukari is a typical high-school student who listens to her parents and attends school everyday. As she starts to question her way of life, she encounters a group of fashion design students who has a clothing label known as "Paradise Kiss". The group needs to find a model to showcase their designs in an up-coming fashion show and decides to pick Yukari instead. Initially, Yukari was reluctant to be associated with this seemingly eccentric group, but eventually, she realizes that they are really nice people. Furthermore, their passion and enthusiasm to follow their ideals and dreams make Yukari realize that she has not been enjoying her life and this motivated her to pursue her own dreams. (From

Review: Now that you’ve read the official summary, here’s the real one:

Girl gets recruited into being a model for a group of fashion design students, mostly because she has a huge crush on the guy who tries to recruit her. Major drama ensues as said students prepare for a major fashion show while dealing with their own horrendously confused, and sometimes just messed-up, love lives.

Right now you might be wondering about the harshness of my tone, especially since I gave it a decent rating. Well, it’s complicated (isn’t it always?). You see, this manga inspired many feelings in me. Primarily was “HORMONES AND ANGST! Dang, I thought I grew out of this stuff!” But in spite of my disdain towards their interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships, I could see where they were coming from.

For those who aren’t highly knowledgeable of Japanese academics, over there there’s a LOT of competition to be in the best schools and best colleges. It’s sorta like how we view football teams here in the US. Except even more so, if that makes any sense. It starts way back in elementary school, right up until the end of high school, when you take your entrance exams for college.. That’s right- your high school transcript isn’t all you need to get into Tokyo U.

Yukari, while bright and hardworking, just isn’t bright enough to get into those top schools- even though her younger brother is. I can totally see where she’s coming from- all her life, she’s been pressured to study harder and get higher grades- of course she’s looking for an escape! And a hawt guy wanting to design clothes for you isn’t easy to resist. But that’s where the trouble starts, because George isn’t the white knight that she dreams of. In all actuality, he’s a pretty sick jerk himself…. And even though at the end Yukari claims to sorta understand him, I never did- I just thought he was twisted.

Of course, the other characters get plenty of screen time, from Isabella, the cross-dressing wise-woman (man?) of the group. Always keeping herself above the fray, and giving wise advice when needed, she’s definitely one of my favorite characters. There was also decent drama in the sort-of love triangle between Miwako, a girl who feels she can’t measure up to her older sister’s designing success, Arachi, her rock-band designer BF, and the other man she felt she couldn’t let go of (but who had gotten over his feelings for her, and instead was in love with Yukari) Hiroyuki.

Confused about the relationships yet? It’s easier to understand when you read it. Especially since it provides most of the fodder for the manga. But the parts I appreciated most weren’t Yukari’s attempts to understand herself or George, or when she had issues with her mom, it was when she and the others were working together to make the dress for the fashion event, and all the things that went wrong with that (And the fixes they used- omg! So awesome!).

And of course, the clothes! For something that focused on fashion students you saw CLOTHES! Hip clothes, ridiculous clothes, clothes that I envy even now because they were so darned PRETTY! If you’re into fashion, this is something that even if you don’t read, you might want to page through, because there’s always something new to see.

Overall, this manga, while having too much angst and hormones, had a whole lot of awesome, too. It might not be on my bookshelf, but maybe I’ll find it on yours.

Recommended: If your local library carries it. This is definitely aiming at a more niche girl- high school age, I would say. But since it’s aiming at an older audience, it also has mentions and has some (not graphic) sex scenes. Definitely not something you should read or watch with a younger sibling.

Others you might like (instead):
The prequel Neighborhood Story (manga),
NANA (manga),
Solanin (manga)
Millenium Actress (anime)
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (anime)
Kamikaze Girls (live-action, light novel, and manga are all good bets).

“Gods These Days…” – Kamichu! (Manga) – 8/10 Sugar Cubes

The Moon! Artemis! the great goddess of the splendid past of men! Are you going to tell me she is a dead lump? ~David Herbert Lawrence

Genre: School/ Supernatural/ Spiritual/ Comedy/ Romance

Review Status: Full (19 Chapters/ 19 Chapters or 2 Volumes/ 2 Volumes)

Licensed: Unlicensed in the US

Art: Decent. Clean. This is aimed at pre-teens, so it’s more stylistically simple than a few others I can name, but good for what it is.

Summary: Yurie Hitotsubashi was just an average middle school student living in the city of Onomichi on Japan's inland sea in the easygoing times of the 1980s. She spent her days worrying about exams and trying to get Kenji, the clueless boy she likes, to notice her. Then during lunch one day she suddenly announces to her friend Mitsue that the night before she had become a goddess. Their classmate Matsuri quickly latches on to Yurie’s newfound divinity as a way to promote her family’s bankrupt Shinto shrine. She hopes that replacing their hapless local god, Yashima-sama, with Yurie will make the shrine more popular (and profitable). Now, with Matsuri as her manager, Yurie has to grant wishes, cure curses, meet aliens, and attend god conventions. All the while attending school and working-up the courage to confess to Kenji. (From

: I can’t deny it- this manga was a lot of fun. Even though Yurie just wakes up a goddess one day, and everyone accepts it right off the bat (logic fail?), this story really isn’t about her getting her powers in the first place- it’s about how she deals with them while trying to live a normal life. But then again, aren’t they all like that?

Well, besides the seemingly-generic storyline, this story has a lot going for it. Yurie isn’t tasked with saving the world. She’s not given a list of things to complete. Nope, her whole thing is about learning how to use her powers, and to use them in a way that will benefit people while trying to make the fewest amount of mistakes possible.

Being a goddess isn’t as simple as it sounds- even though she knows she’s been given powers, she hasn’t the first clue how to use them. She has issues figuring out what wishes to grant. Somehow or another, she must stave off the god of poverty, and confess to the guy she likes- all with the help of her trusty friends!

This is a story rife with Japanese mythology, too, mainly in the form of the spirits that wander about town- Since you won’t get much information about them, you might have to do your own research into the ones that interest you.

Overall, this was an interesting, amusing look at life as it would be if an ordinary girl woke up extraordinary.

Recommended: It’s okay. Except for the leaps of logic one must take in a few places, it isn’t too bad. If you’re thinking of this for a younger sibling, you might want to explain about other countries having different standards of what’s acceptable in terms of nudity, as you will see the backsides of the girls as they’re getting out of the bath. Other than that it’s cleaner than clean!

Other series you might like:
Azumaga Daioh (anime),
Shugo Chara! anime or manga),
Sailor Moon (manga or anime),
Cardcaptor Sakura (the anime),
Kiki’s Delivery Service (anime)
Princess Tutu (anime)
Someday's Dreamers (anime or manga))

“Be Careful What You Wish For” – Bradherley’s Coach (Manga) – 6/10 Sugar Cubes

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much. ~Mother Teresa

Genre: Horror/ Drama/ Psychological/ Historical

Review Status: Full (8 Chapters/ 8 Chapters or 1 Volume/ 1 Volume)

Licensed: Unlicensed in the US

Art: At first I thought that it wasn’t particularly well-done, but as I read on I realized that the rough sketch-like style suited the gritty, dark stories within. Good for this particular manga.

Summary: Every year, Lord Nicola A. Bradherley, one of Europe’s leading aristocrats, sends his coach round to various orphanages to adopt little girls and trains them to join his opera troupe. But most of these girls never make it onto the stage — a far more sinister fate awaits them, sacrificed in the name of the greater good. (From

Review: I want to get this off of my chest: This has got to be one of the most meaningful-but-pointless manga I’ve ever read. Confused? So am I. This manga is a series of one-shots, in chronological order, about girls who are deemed “worthy” to be in Lord Bradherley’s Opera, but most of them never make it.

In the first arc you get to know what’s really going on, through the viewpoint of a girl who was unfortunate enough to be chosen and not be used as one of the opera girls. As her days pass in pain and suffering, growing worse each day, she commiserates with another girl about what’s going on and reminisces about days gone by. Through this you get a pretty good idea about what’s going on.

The rest of the arcs just emphasize the cruelty, explaining the reasons behind it, why the girls would be so desperate to go (and what some of them are willing to do to be chosen), and even going into one arc that’s from the prisoner’s POV.

Eventually the stories lead to the end of the “program”- thank God.

So why the pointless? Because through it all, hardly anyone suspects what was really going on, even though after a few years it should have been obvious to most anyone with half a brain. In the last arc, it even has the gall to say that Lord Bradherley has tried, in his own way, to atone for what he’s doing. I just don’t buy it. He could have broken off the program in the first place, but even under the direst of conditions he continues a cruel and inhumane practice.

So I think it’s total Bull. Shit.

But what truly embitters me and is also the reason why I can’t say it’s bad is that I think it could have happened. The nobility have always been fond of blood sport at the expense of their subjects- during the Roman period, there were the Gladiators. During the medieval period, they were fond of bear-baiting and dog fighting. In the 1600’s there was Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who was never truly punished for her heinous crimes. During the Industrial Revolution in America, dog- and cock-fighting were still popular, as was bare-knuckle boxing, etc. So the problem is that there’s really no reason it shouldn’t, or couldn’t have happened at some point in history.

That is the only reason that I can’t mark it lower- the realism is too high.

Overall, this is a horrific tale of young women put into tragic circumstances. I don’t suggest picking this up unless you have an interest in this sort of thing (and if you do, don’t tell me about it!).

Recommended: 16 and up, kids. This has implied torture and *somewhat* detailed depictions of rape. Nothing that you wouldn’t see in your average horror film, but still stomach-churning. Preferably not for those weak of heart or stomach.

Others you might like instead: Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (manga)
Higurashi: When They Cry (manga or anime)
Lament of the Lamb (manga)
Or read the book “The Lovely Bones”.

"What Are We Again?"- Your And My Secret- 1/10 Sugar Cubes

Women get the last word in every argument. Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument. ~Author Unknown

Genre: Gender-bender/Romance/Comedy

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Review Status: Incomplete (2 Volumes/? Volumes – still in publication)

Art: Ugly. Most of it is drawn in ugly chibi characters, and whatever isn’t is drawn in ugly, badly-proportioned regular characters. And it seems like the mangaka couldn’t figure out when to lighten the pen off the page, so the lines are very heavy and dark, sometimes making it hard to see what’s what in a panel, or just ruining the aesthetic.

Summary: High schooler Nanako Momoi may be petite and adorable, but she is far from sweet, she is obnoxious, violent and has the table manners of a wild boar. Akira Uehara, a dainty, feminine boy has, for some mysterious reason, developed quite a crush on her. One day, Akira stumbles upon Nanako's grandfather, a man best described as a mad scientist. He is performing an experiment on Nanako, but Akira manages to get in the way and suddenly finds that he and Nanako have switched bodies. Akira, the now dainty and feminine female, is desperate to get back into his old body, especially after one of his long-time friends starts flirting with him. Switching back may prove difficult, though. It looks like Nanako is starting to enjoy life as a guy. (From

Review: When I saw this at the local bookstore and read the back, I figured it couldn’t be too bad. It actually has a surprising twist and decently original storyline. However, when I cracked open the covers I was shocked and horrified at how very bad this was.

The first thing that hit me was how very bad it looked. But hey, sometimes it’s just an inexperienced artist. As I kept reading, I discovered that this was full of sexism and sexual harassment that did a poor job of writing itself off as comedy! Momoi is a pig- she has to be one of the most singularly disgusting characters I have ever come across. When she and poor Akira change bodies, she akes full advantage of the situation, masturbating, exploring, even having sex in order to “fully experience” what it’s like to be a male.

And then does the most horrifically sexist, if not outright misogynist things to Akira! While she can do whatever she’s in the mood for, she threatens him with pain and embarrassment should he even catch a glimpse of her (now his) body. So that means he must bathe blindfolded, and heaven forbid if he touches anywhere private! What only makes this worse is when he must fend off the over-amorous attentions of his “best friend” (read: His best friend when he was in his guy body tries to rape him in the female body). And this is supposed to be read as a romantic development!

At that point I had to stop. There was nothing funny or interesting in this manga- only things that made me want to hurl it at the mangaka’s head.

Overall, this is an awful manga. I’m ashamed to say I read as much as I did.

Recommended: Never. If you happen to pick it up by accident, put it back down gently and back slowly away. But 15+ for attempted rape (doesn't get very ar), implied molestation of the guy;s body when they switch, and some pretty heavy language.

Other series you might like instead:
Ouran Host Club (anime and manga),
Wallflower (manga)
1/2 Prince (manga)
Tokyo Crazy Paradise (manga)… It doesn’t matter! Just don’t read this!

“It goes on… And on… And on…” – Uzumaki: Spiral into Horror (Manga) – 3/10 Sugar Cubes

"Sanity calms, but madness is more interesting." ~John Russell

Genre: Horror

Review Status: Full (3 Volumes/3 Volumes)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art: Rough, not that pretty. Appropriate, given the subject matter. Gives a good atmosphere, though.

Summary: Kirei lives in a town that lately has odd occurrences, and each one somehow is connected to a spiral. Soon the spiral occurrences spread to infect even the bodies of people, which suddenly turns the everyday events in her life into chaos and horror. (From ANN. com)

Review: I picked this up hoping for some chills up my spine. I got them… for about the first volume and a half. Then everything fell into your typical horror-movie mentality- lots of stupidity and a definite lack of common sense.

Which is a real shame! This had a lot of things going for it- a creepy atmosphere, a strange obsession taking over the townspeople, one entirely sane character that could clearly see what was going on… It was going great!

Too bad it didn’t last. No matter how strange, odd, or downright impossible the occurances became, no one bothers to escape… until it’s TOO LATE! Yeah, you heard me. Because no one can escape the curse of the spiral! *DUN DUN DUNNNN*

….So, yeah.

Overall, this isn’t the best horror that you could pick up. If you’re up for a cheap thrill, then go for it- at three volumes, it’s a short diversion.

Recommended: Not really. Maybe if you can find it at your local library. 16+, though, since this does have the implications of cannibalism, disturbing scenes, non-graphic nudity, some language.

Others you might like instead: Higurashi: When They Cry (manga and anime),
Hell Girl (anime),
Elfen Lied (both the manga and anime are horrific, though the manga is much longer and more involved),
Bokurano (both the manga and anime)

“Away From Here” - Clover (Manga) - 4/10 Sugar Cubes

A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. ~Leopold Stokowski

Genre: Fantasy/Romance/Shoujo

Review Status: Full (4 Volumes/ 4 Volumes)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art: Minimal. While it is CLAMP, and it is very clean and easy to look at, it also seems like a midpoint in their styles, from early CLAMP to the style they’re known for today. It’s still very nice, though.

Summary: In a futuristic world, the government has conducted secret research called the 'Clover Project'. Each Clover is tattooed with a power level by the Five Elders Council. Sue is a Four Leaf Clover, the only one in existence. Ran is a Three Leaf, one of two. Gingetsu is Two Leaf and Oruha is One Leaf. Each book tells a different tale of these tragic children, backtracking from when Kazuhiko takes Sue to Fairy Park to when Ran becomes Gingetsu's ward.

Kazuhiko is a former soldier turned private eye who is giving the mission of picking up and delivering Sue to Fairy Park. Sue is part of a race of children called Clovers who are children with special powers, and in this futuristic world, the government is out to control them. (From

Review: The keyword for this manga is Minimalist. This story is told with the least amount of pictures and words possible. I find it amazing that they were still able to fill four volumes with what they had, but….

In any case, this was a decent manga. You got a look into the backgrounds of many of the characters, but as little as possible. However, that doesn’t seem to detract much from how sad they all are. Even so, much of the story had been stripped away, from the history between Kazuhiko and the military, the politics of what was going on, even what had happened in the world that had obviously been ravaged by some sort of disaster.

The one thing that apparently gives a lot of symbolism to the story is the song that Sue wrote and was sung by Kazuhiko’s former girlfriend. The lyrics are very nice, and it’s practically on every page, giving a melancholy undertone/narrative to the story that’s happening.

Even with all of this, there were too many unanswered questions about what was going on, who people were, and what the overall message was for me to be satisfied with this brief foray into the future.

Overall, too existential for my tastes, but if you’re looking for something philosophical then this might be for you.

: 14+, if this style appeals to you. There's violence, some blood, implied death.

Others you might like (instead?): Try some of CLAMP’s other works- perhaps Tsubasa Chronicles or XXXHolic (pronounced ‘Holic’), or even Chobits, gives some more background and some existential questions to go along with it.
Planetes (manga and anime)

"Death Isn't Always The End"- Ballad of a Shinigami- 9/10 Sugar Cubes

Do for this life as if you live forever, do for the afterlife as if you die tomorrow. ~Ali ibn Abi Talib

Genre: Supernatural/ Drama

Review Status: Complete (3 Volumes/ 3 Volumes)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art: Looks more like your typical shoujo, but clean lines, easy-to follow panels, and cute character designs all make this look good, even if it’s not the most eye-catching manga on the shelf.

Summary: The series revolves around Momo, a shinigami, and her familiar Daniel, a talking black cat, as they interfere with the world of the living. Or, more specifically, the people that she gives a nudge in the right direction.

Review: This is a collection of sweet, short stories from the perspective of Momo, a shinigami that has a habit of interfering with the lives (and deaths) of those she comes to collect. Stories of loss, love, and moving on with the help of our loved ones fill these pages. Most have the stories have a happy ending…. Some, not so much. Even so, each manages to pull the heartstrings. Though they may not all end the way the reader may hope, it never lessens the messages of hope and love that can exist after a loved one dies.

Overall, this is a very nice manga. It’s short enough that it can be a quick read, but involving enough for the reader to leave touched.

Recommended: Unless you have qualms about reading about the Japanese gods of death, then no. As this also touches on themes of abandonment, suicide and murder, it might not be suitable for those under 13. One person is implied to have died by suicide, another to have been murdered. There's also the implication of some child abuse.

Other series you might like: This was originally a series of light novels, and there’s also been an anime made from this.
Hotel (manga),
Chrono Crusade (manga, not anime),
Someday’s Dreamers (manga and anime)
Solanin (manga)
Saturn Apartments (manga)
Shigofumi (anime)
Haibane Renmei (anime)

"Girls with... Magic Swords?"- Magic Knights Rayearth- 7/10 Sugar Cubes

Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quotes

Genre: Mahou Shoujo/ Adventure/ Fantasy

Review Status: Full (3 Volumes/ 3 Volumes)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art: While the panels can occasionally be confusing, the art is sparkly and clean. Though the character designs can seem slightly outdated, as it is one of their earlier works, CLAMP does it again!

Summary: Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu, girls from separate schools, find themselves linked together as they fall through the floor during a field trip to the Tokyo Tower. They land in a place called Cephiro, where their will controls what happens. They meet with Guru Clef and find out that they were summoned to save Princess Emeraude who has been imprisoned by High Priest Zagato. They learn magic and acquire weapons on their quest to save Cephiro from the evils of Zagato. (From

Review: This is a nice, short little fantasy series that’s good for a quick read. However, it being CLAMP, the story can be more involved than it would at first seem. From the standard power-ups, to the not so standard girl who gets the Prince (hint- it’s not the main heroine!), and an ending that is as bittersweet as atypical, this manga shows a superior sense of storytelling that hallmarks many of the works by this group.

The main characters are fairly well-rounded. You do come to care for their hardships and challenges, and can see how they grow as people and friends. You also get a surprising glimpse into the eyes of the main baddie and the princess which is touching and yet heartbreaking.

Overall, this is a good starter manga if you want to get into deeper, more involved works. It’s also good as a stand-alone if you’re pressed for time. And if you’re not into the ending, there’s also a sequel!

Recommended: Sure. It’s short and bittersweet. Maybe not for those young enough to understand the idea of sacrificing oneself for their love. 10 and over.

Other series you might like: Magic Knight Rayearth (anime, though S2 of the anime is different from the second half of the manga)
Card Captor Sakura (anime),
Chobits (manga and anime),
Ballad of a Shinigami (manga and anime),
Half Prince (manga),
Alice 19th (manga

“The Hard Part Isn't War- It's What Comes After” -Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms – 10/10 Sugar Cubes

You've got to forget about this civilian. Whenever you drop bombs, you're going to hit civilians. ~Barry Goldwater

Genre: Historical/ Drama

Review Status: Complete (1 Volume/ 1 Volume)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art: Somewhat cartoonish, but in a way that helps- it emphasizes the rural feeling of the story, and also eases the images of the bombing’s aftermath.

Summary: Part 1: Set in 1955, a family from Hiroshima struggles to come to terms with their survival of the atomic bombing of their city. The protagonist is Minami Hirano, about 20 years of age. Part 2: Set some decades later, the niece of Minami Hirano is bewildered by her father's mysterious disappearances. She and a friend follow him to discover what he is doing. Parts of this story are told in flashback. (From

Review: This manga has two stories- one from the view of someone directly affected by the bombing of Hiroshima, and one from the view of someone who’s still living with the aftermath, even though it’s 30 years after the bombing. Describing this manga is hard- the first is a heart- and- gut wrenching account of something that wasn’t uncommon- a woman who is affected by her memories of the bombing and radiation sickening years after the fact. And her family member who is featured in the second half still has family that questions about what happened and how it affect their health and family to that day.

You are taken into the memories of that day- something that is terrifying. While you are never shown outright gore, it doesn’t seem to matter. The sheer number of bodies, represented as they are by rough sketches, don’t do the descriptions of the aftermath any justice. Even though they’re brief in both images and descriptions, it’s more than enough to convey how horrific those days were. What makes it ring even more true is that those descriptions and characters were drawn from those of survivors of the bombings that the mangaka has interviewed.

This manga has a strong anti-war message, but it’s never overbearing or insistent- it merely shown the effects of what happens afterwards.

Overall, this is an amazing manga. Go out and buy it, read it, and share it.

Recommended: Yes. Share it with your neighbors, share it with your friends. Ten and over, but you should be prepared to sit down with those of a younger set and explain the aftereffects of radiation poisoning and the like.

Other series you might like: Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms (live-action movie)
Someday’s Dreamers (anime and manga),
Hotel (manga)
Solanin (manga)

“When Your Feelings Sync, You Get Magic” -Someday’s Dreamers- 10/10 Sugar Cubes

“Love and magic have a great deal in common. They enrich the soul, delight the heart. And they both take practice.” ~Anonymous

Genre: Mahou Shoujo/ Drama

Review Status
: Full (2 Volumes/2 Volumes)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art: Solid, but has a watercolor-like, dream-like quality. Very suited towards the storyline.

: Yume, melancholic and passionate girl of high-school age, lives in the world of Magic, being one of the apprentice mages in Tokyo. Although magic use restricted by the laws, Yume masters it in rather blatant ways, following not reason, butt her pure heart. Throughout this short story the fragile soul of the girl trifles with the reality of the Magic Users - their responsibilities and boundaries towards redundant magic. Yume is engulfed in another dimension of reality – a world with no bounds between normal and magical, which sets her to make it real to all other people. (From

Review: The only bad thing I can say about this manga is that it was too short. I don’t mean that it detracted from the story in any way- I just wished that this story could continue on for another volume. This world, and this girl’s troubles, are fully realized in this manga. Not only does she have to learn how to use her gift responsibly, but she must also learn how to use it to truly help others and not just help them how she thinks they need.

That is where this story shines. Her learning to help others, that the way they need to be helped isn’t always obvious. And in order to graduate, she must do one of the hardest things she can- help someone make peace with the dead.

The stories aren’t always happy, but they are always heart-wrenching. The true magic of this story is in how it can touch the reader.

Overall, this is an excellent manga. Maybe not for the youngest, but one that many readers can enjoy.

: 13 and over, for themes of death and loss. One woman commits suicide (implied).

Other Series You Might Like:
Someday's Dreamers (anime)
Kobato (manga or anime)
Saturn Apartments (manga)
Hotel (manga)
Time Stranger Kyoko (manga)
Bunny Drop (manga)
Aria (manga and anime)
Ballad of a Shinigami (anime and manga)
Someday’s Dreamers ~Spellbound~ (manga)