Saturday, November 27, 2010

"Knight in Otaku Armor" - Train Man : A Shoujo Manga (manga) - 9/10 Turkeys

We love because it's the only true adventure. ~Nikki Giovanni

Genre: Romance/ Shoujo

Review Status: Complete (1 volume/ 1 volume)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art/Animation: Nice and clear. Fairly standard art, but not bad by far.

Summary: Geeky fanboy Ikumi Saiki has a dream that someday, somehow, he'll finally get a girlfriend. Then one day, on the train home, he rescues a beautiful girl from a troublesome drunk. Now the girl sees the hero inside the otaku -- and it appears that Ikumi will finally find romance! But though Ikumi found the courage to save her, will he ever be brave enough to win her heart? Desparate, Ikumi posts an urgent plea on an Internet message board: "Help me with the girl of my dreams!" Ikumi's story ignites the whole online world. Everyone is ready to help Ikumi prove that even an otaku can find true love! (Source: Del Rey)

Review: This is considered a pretty standard, well-done romance manga. And I have to agree. It tells a simple story about a guy who has a few social insecurities, who manages to stand up against a drunk man when no one else will. The girl he stands up for gives him her number, and the rest is history! While it may not be the most original, it’s still very nicely done- from how he dances around asking her out, while dealing with the fact that she has a boyfriend, and how he finally gets the courage to ask her out when her boyfriend dumps her.

The great part wasn’t so much the story, but the characters. Ikumi makes a fairly realistic otaku man, who isn’t sure how to navigate the thin line of friend and love interest, who relies on his many internet followers for advice and encouragement. His love interest, while far less defined as he is (we barely know her), still manages to be sweet without being saccharine. And then you had my personal favorites- the internet fanbase, made of those who have practical life advice, those who’ve never been out with a girl, some who are just dying to see this romance play out, and all who are amusing and fun to listen to.

Overall, this was a treat to read. I can’t wait to get my hands on the original version!

Recommended: 10+ for the drunk man.

Other titles you might enjoy: Victorian Romance Emma (manga and anime)
Kimi ni Todoke (manga and anime)
Bakuman (anime and manga)
Lovely Complex (anime and manga)

"No Place Like Home" - Tarepanda Goes On An Adventure! (manga)- 10/10 Turkeys

The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure. ~Joseph Campbell

Genre: Fantasy/ Comedy

Review Status: Complete (1 Chapter/ 1 Chapter)

Licensed: Unlicensed in the US

Art/Animation: Nice, clear, cute. Bright colors and easy to follow and understand. There's very little dialogue- it's mostly pictures.

Summary: Cute little Tarepanda one days wants to go on an adventure. But, after a few bad turns, he realizes he misses home. (

Review: Well, this was an adorable one-shot. A little stuffed panda decided that he should go on a walk, gets lost, and has a little adventure of his own, before finding his way back home. Along the way he comes across many things- from artists painting in a park, homeless in the streets, kittens waiting to be adopted. He also goes through many things, from being hit with a soccer ball, to falling off a cliff into the ocean, being sold at a fish market. Tarepanda often depends on the help of humans to get from one place to another, and sees many things in the city. But with everything Tarepanda goes through, Tarepanda finds that adventuring can be exhausting, and gets some help to do so. And in the end, there really is no place like home!

Recommended: Any age. It's cute and easy to understand, and nothing offensive.

Other titles you might enjoy: Cowa! (manga)
Aria (manga or anime)
Yotsuba&! (manga)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"A Strange Encounter" - Negative Happy Chainsaw Edge (manga) - 8/10 Turkeys

Bad things are always going to happen in life. People will hurt you. But you can't use that as an excuse to fail or to hurt someone back. You'll only hurt yourself. ~ Anonymous

Genre: Action/Romance/Ecchi/Psychological

Review Status: Full (2 Volumes/ 2 Volumes)

Licensed: Unlicensed in the US

Art/Animation: Very nice. The action scenes are clear and flow well, the art itself is well-defined and clear. It looks lovely.

Summary: Yousuke is bored with life, feeling that he’s going nowhere fast and still dealing with the turnmoil of a close friend’s death. That is, until he’s offered an escape- by being saved from being hacked in half by a chainsaw. The girl who saves him has been fighting the Chainsaw Man for quite a while, knowing beforehand where he’s going to be and preventing him from attacking normal people.

Review: This manga has a serious story beneath the pantyshots and sex talk- it’s about a girl who’s wrestling with her own demons and fears about life, and a boy who’s dealing with death and what it means to live. And in the end, they’re happy to be alive and deal with the problems and unhappiness that life might throw their way, and hope that they can deal with it together.

Overall, if you can get past the panties, you'll be rewarded with a very nice, serious story about life and loss.

Recommended: 17+. There are numerous pantyshots, some brief partial nudity and two panels of fairly sexual situations, a bit of bragging about sex (he's not and it's not particularly graphic), some minor violence with the two kids getting knocked about and the Chainsaw Man getting hit with numerous knives, but there is overall very little blood. There is also some minor language.

Other titles you might enjoy:
Ghost Talker's Daydream (manga)
Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan (manga)
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (manga)
Undercurrent (manga)
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 (anime)
Dennou Coil (anime)
Grave of the Fireflies (anime)
Haibane Renmei (anime)

Monday, November 8, 2010

“I’ll Find You Again…” – Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle (manga) – 9/10 Turkeys

Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end. ~Author Unknown

Genre: Action/Advenure/Romance/Fantasy

Review Status: Complete (28 Volumes/28 Volumes)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art: It’s CLAMP. While in the first three or so volumes, the characters are unusually out of proportion, it settles down into the elegant, detailed, streamlined and stylized artwork that fans are familiar with. The only thing I can really complain about is that it’s often hard to follow what’s happening in the fight scenes.

Summary: This is the story of four travelers, bound by fate and by prophesied future. Sakura is the princess of Clow Country, and possessor of a strange power that promises to change the world. Syaoran is an aspiring archaeologist and her childhood friend. When Sakura is endangered by the plan a certain man has for the future, the princess' memories are scattered across dimensions in the form of feathers, and Syaoran is forced to go on a desperate journey to retrieve them. They are accompanied by Fay D. Flourite, a magician running from the horrible truth of his past, and Kurogane, a rough-mannered ninja trying to get back to his world. However, the ability to cross worlds demands a great price, and each of them must pay the Dimensional Witch with what he or she values most. In order to save his princess, Syaoran must give up his relationship with her. Even if he gathers all of Sakura's memories, she will never remember their past together...

But the world is not so simple. The very moment these four made this decision, their destinies are sealed into a tragic everyone in the group has their own secrets. Visions of the future are seen, and prophesies are made. The cruel future which lies ahead reads only of betrayal, abandonment, devastation and anguish.

Review: This manga is a massive CLAMP crossover. You encounter many of their characters as the mains travel from world to world. Now, this hasn’t always been received well- some people feel that it cheapens their other works, or just isn’t very creative. However, I feel that it was done well enough that the story is fantastic in its own right.

Each world is full of surprising characters and things, which makes it a joy to read and see what's coming next! You become aware, though, that their travels aren't all fine and dandy- they encounter many obstacles to getting her memroies back. Sometimes it's from fellow travellers, sometimes the world itself that keeps it from them. And when you're closing in on the end, you discover that the price that they paid might not be enough to keep tragedy from happening.

You get to know the characters very well, with each of the mains having a hard past that they must overcome. Sakura and Syaoran’s story, however, surpasses their comanions’ stories even more- not only does a tragic moment in their past come back to haunt them, but they must deal with space-time paradoxes, false memories, clones, and being separated time and again!

I have to admit, it doesn’t really tread new ground in time-space paradoxes. However, as I was reading it I discovered that the only way to fully understand what was happening in Tsubasa was to read the companion manga xxxHolic.

Even so, once I was aware of what was happening where and why, I was rooting for our protagonists to win and for the happy ending they deserved.

Overall, while you do need to read xxxHolic to really get it, this is still a fantastic series in its own right.

Recommended: 13+. Moderate violence and bloodspatter during fights. Dead bodies are shown, though not in detail, and gore is kept to a minimum.

Other titles you might enjoy: xxxHolic (manga and anime, though I don’t know how well the anime is faithful to the manga)
Anything else by CLAMP (manga)
Zombie-Loan (manga)
Pandora Hearts (manga)
Princess Tutu (anime)
Kino’s Journey (Anime)
Spirited Away (anime)
Castle in the Sky (anime)
Millenium Actress (anime)

“Follow You To Hell” – Anne Freaks (manga) - 6/10 Turkeys

Revenge is an act of passion, vengeance is an act of justice. ~Samuel L. Jackson

Genre: Horror/ Action/ Psychological

Review Status: Complete (4 Volumes / 4 Volumes)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art: Simple and clean. Not that detailed, but good.

Summary: While trying to bury the body of his mother deep in the woods, high school student Yuri is approached by a strange girl who offers to help him. That is... if he promises to be her "parent killing assistant." Meet Anne Freaks, a bright, attractive teenage girl normal in every way - except that she's on a mission to kill her father, the leader of the dangerous extremist cult: the Kakusei Group. (ADV)

Review: This manga grips you from the beginning. You can see that all isn’t right with Yuri’s world- why he killed his mother (or did he?), the delisions he’s experienced since, and the terror he goes through as he tries to hide it from the world.

Then you hit the second volume. The plot and pacing become slow and tedious. You can’t afford that in such a short series. The characters do a lot of plotting and thinking. Things pick up in the third novel, with our protagonists starting out to make their move. The police, important to the plot at this point, also begin preparations to take out the main characters.

In the fourth volume everything comes to an end. The purpose and people in the terrorist group are surprisingly twisted, as twisted as Yuri has become under the influence of Anne- who’s transition from brave heroine to twisted murderess is rather abrupt. Her motives and ideas, which we thought had become clearer throughout the story, turn in a dangerous way. Unfortunately, the motives of the police are also left rather muddled, which leaved a little too much unclear to the reader.

Overall, this is a decent story. Not the best, but not bad for a short read.

Recommended: 16+, and only if you like this genre. There’s blood and you do see the aftermath of the violence- though you’re spared from the worst of the gore.

Other titles you might enjoy: Black Lagoon (anime)
Higurashi: When They Cry (manga and anime)
Future Diary (manga)
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (manga)
Goth (manga)

“Far Away” – Planetes (manga) – 10/10 Turkeys

Through space the universe encompasses and swallows me up like an atom; through thought I comprehend the world. ~Blaise Pascal

Genre: Sci-fi/Drama/Slice-of-Life

Review Status: Full (4 Volumes/ 4 Volumes)

: Licensed in the US

Art: Done by the same mangaka that created Vinland Saga (Makoto Yukimara), the art is beautiful, detailed, and realistic. A delight to look at!

Summary: Haunted by a space flight accident that claimed the life of his beloved wife, Yuri finds himself six years later as part of a team of debris cleaners on a vessel called the Toy Box charged with clearing space junk from space flight paths. The team consists of Hachimaki, a hot shot debris-man with a sailor's affinity for the orbital ocean; Fee, a chain-smoking tomboy beauty with an abrasive edge; and Pops, a veteran orbital mechanic whose avuncular presence soothes the stress of the job. (Tokyopop)

Review: Since I’d seen some of the anime, I thought I knew what I was in for with this manga. I was… pretty wrong! Instead of following Yuri like the summary says, or following Tanabe like the anime does, this is a story about Hachimaki (or Hachi for short).

Hachi wants nothing more than to buy his own spaceship. And the fastest way to do that? Get on the seven-year space mission to Saturn! Nothing will stop him, not politicians, not terrorists, not his family or friends…. Until an unexpected development between him and one of his partners. Suddenly he finds himself questioning himself and his desire to go out to space. Can he do it? Can he do it without love?

And while Hachi is dealing with his own problems, his fellow debris collectors must face their own life choices and what they’re doing with their lives- and why.

Overall, this is one of the best sci-fi manga out there. If you can find it, read it!

Recommended: 15+. There is some partial nudity in it, due to one of Hachi’s crewmembers trying to get Hachi out of a mindset that is slowly killing him… by attempting to get his attention by stripping. You only see from the wait-up, but what you do see is detailed. There’s also mention of pornography.

Other titles you might enjoy:
Planetes (anime)
To Terra… (manga and anime)
Saturn Apartments (manga)
Eureka Seven (anime)
Moonlight Mile (anime)
Twin Spica (manga)
The Wings of Honneamise (anime)
Real Drive (anime)

Friday, November 5, 2010

“Human and Spirit Relations” – Otome Youkai Zakuro (anime) – 6/10 Turkeys

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. ~Albert Einstein

Genre: Historical/ Romance/ Comedy/ Supernatural

Review Status: Partial (5 Episodes/ ? Episodes)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art/Animation: The colors are bright and cheerfully vibrant, the animation average. The art is also average, with rather ridiculous hairstyles for some of the girls.

Summary: It's the Meiji Era in a slightly alternate Japan, and the Gregorian calendar has just come into effect. The fox-eared girls living in the youkai part of town are about to be put to work together with a delegation of young human soldiers, to promote interracial understanding. So what will happen when Zakuro's strong personality collides with human sensibilities?(from B-U)

Review: This is an interesting take on your usually romcom. Youkai, instead of having disappeared sometime in the country’s past, are slowly being driven out and away from Japanese cities due to their Westernization. In doing so, the half-youkai girls are paired with military men, and they begin to investigate misunderstandings between the humans and spirits.

It’s interesting because you get a better look into Japanese beliefs and mythology better than in many anime you will see. The incidences they investigate are just as interesting, but that may be due to my not having seen very many of them. There were about three over the five episodes I watched.

The relationships between the girls and men are what get front and center, with the incidences being catalysts for them. You have one pair getting together by the fourth episode, and another one brewing heavily. It’s also obvious that Zakuro will be pairing up with her partner, Kei, before the anime ends. But in the meanwhile, they must deal with some obvious dislike from the Japanese people.

Though I stopped at the fifth episode, a plot against the main heroine was well underway. While it does seem promising, with clues about Zakuro’s past being key to what’s going on, it wasn’t enough to compell me to finish watching.

While the anime isn’t bad, I didn’t find anything about it very gripping. Everything about it seems fairly… average. From Zakuro being the only one who truly fights, to who hooks up with who, to there being a mysterious past, it all has been done before. It does it in an interesting way, but not enough to interest me in watching further.

Overall, this is a good show if you’re into action and romance with a supernatural twist. If you aren’t that much into romance or want a little more from your anime, not so much.

Recommended: If you’re into period or supernatural romances. 13+ for minor and implied violence and death.

Other titles you might enjoy: Victorian Romance Emma (manga and anime),
Kanon 2006 (anime),
Air (anime),
Ouran Host Club (anime and manga),
Princess Tutu (anime),
Spirited Away (anime),
Ah! My Goddess (anime and manga),
Gakuen Alice (manga)

“I Got A Pocket Gull Of ‘Em” – Rainbow (anime) – 10/10 Turkeys

Hope is the thing with feathers ~Emily Dickenson

Genre: Drama

Review Status: Complete (26 Episodes/26 Episodes)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art/Animation: Excelent. The colors were deep and vibrant, and the animation was top-notch.

Summary: Seven teenagers in 1955 have to learn to live together in the same hold in the reformatory of Shio. Confined in a hall where suffering and humiliation are daily, they are waiting for a ray of hope in a dark, incarcerating world. The story follows their life together and how they move on afterwards. (

Review: This anime gets you and grips you from the start. From how society shows their disdain for these boys in the first moments of the show, to how they become friends, to the trials and tibulations, loves, losses, and hardships these boys go through, this knows how to tell a story.

The summary is a bit misleading. While there is a lot about how the boys manage to live through their reformatory years, only about half the anime is about that. They all have hopes and dreams, and this anime is also about those- how they live afterwards to try and achieve them.

These seven boys go through the impossible. Corrupt, abusive guards, breaking out, getting out on their own merits…. And long after everything is said and done, their pasts coming back to bite them. Yet through it all, they manage to keep a bright hope burning for the future.

Overall, this is a great anime. Very true to the period that it was made, and very well-told.

Recommended: Yes…. For those 18+. This is a rare rating, but there is partial nudity, semi-graphic depiction of child rape and molestation of young boys, and lots of violence. As the streaming sites say, for mature audiences only!

Other titles you might enjoy:
Full Metal Alchemist (anime and manga)
Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood (anime)
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (anime)
Grave of the Fireflies (anime)