Jew Unit’s Kosher Kuts: Fairy Tail

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It has been said that every basic story possible has already been told. Derivation in Japanese manga in this day and age is nearly unavoidable and ends up being encouraged to attract readers who may not know art, but who know what they like. Eventually, though, mangakas must separate themselves from the pack somehow. With stories that have been told many times over – whether inspired by Genji, Journey to the West, or video games – the distinguishing attributes of the media are in the “how” and “why.”

An old plot can shine like new if it is presented in an interesting perspective or given significantly more depth than the reader had thought possible. The creation of an enjoyable world that the reader longs to explore certainly doesn’t hurt either. Even if the plot breaks down, good characters can carry a manga on their shoulders rather effectively. Quirkiness, character progression and the all-important empathy factor can all breathe fresh life into an otherwise mundane story. Successful manga tend to do one or the other fairly well. When the manga cannot, you get something like Fairy Tail. Continue reading “Jew Unit’s Kosher Kuts: Fairy Tail”

Kosher Kuts: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

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Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is the manga equivalent of Rodney Dangerfield: it just doesn’t get any respect. It was released in Japan after hits like Fist of the Northstar and Dragonball had captured the attention of Japanese fans several years earlier. Despite its reputation as the second-longest ongoing manga series for Shonen Jump in Japan, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure just doesn’t seem to garner much attention from American audiences. It was only recently released in the United States and skipped much of the initial storyline. Furthermore, the title is not as easily made kid-friendly as other popular martial arts manga (Believe it!). I finally pursued the series when I heard that several parts of it were skipped in its passage to America. So, is this series derivative of its Shonen Jump predecessors, or does it carry its own distinctive traits?

Unlike most manga titles, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure manages to summarize itself perfectly. Weird characters and brutal battles are the hallmark of this series and, if you don’t have the stomach for one or the other, this book might turn you off quickly. Continue reading “Kosher Kuts: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure”

Kosher Kuts: D. Gray-man

D. Gray-man is essentially a gothic version of the X-Men. The idea has some initial originality. A dark undertone to a classic idea can provide new ground to explore in the action superhero genre. However, the foundation of the team and the plot must be strong to keep the series from sinking into banality. These sentiments are the deciding factors when you read through D. Gray-man.

The aforementioned plot of D. Gray-man has a Zoroastrian bent to it. There are people around the world who possess a super-human power called “Innocence.” An organization called the Black Order is trying to find these people and recruit them to become exorcists. Exorcists are supposed to defend humans from an elf-like creature called the Earl of the Millenium, which is attempting to destroy all humans who utilize Innocence (and thus to bring about the end of the world). He has his own group of human followers and manufactures beasts called Akuma with the souls of dead people whose loved ones want them to live again. In doing so, the Earl fulfills the wishes of humans, but damns the souls of the dead. The exorcists use their powers to save the Akuma from damnation and to protect Innocence. Continue reading “Kosher Kuts: D. Gray-man”

Kosher Kuts: King of Thorns

Survival horror is a genre that seems to be rather underrepresented in manga. Moviegoers and gamers have had their fill over the past few years with moderate success. The trick has been to balance a semblance of a story with enough thrills and chills to make it enthralling. Yuji Iwahara’s King of Thorns brings this unappreciated story type into the light. Is it a B-grade horror flick or a blockbuster page-turner?

The story begins in the present as a virus called Medusa has begun to spread among the human populace. As the name suggests, the virus causes the infected people to slowly become paralyzed and brittle, like old stone statues. A number of people who have been infected are put into cryogenic stasis until a cure can be found. When the group awakens, the laboratory they resided in is in ruins and covered in vines. They quickly discover that the world is down one human race and up one prehistoric dinosaur race. The survivors take it upon themselves to figure out what happened to the world while they were asleep and find a cure for the virus that is slowly taking over their bodies.

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Kosher Kuts: Super Mario RPG

When I was eleven, I really did not like RPGs. Chrono Trigger’s plotline was too confusing and Final Fantasy seemed too complicated. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the genre. A glimmer of hope resurfaced when I heard about a new RPG starring Mario. Not only Mario, but also a few new characters were present … and Bowser was a playable character? I read about it in Nintendo Power, rented it at Blockbuster, and brought it home soon after returning the rental. Long after I have sold many other Super Nintendo games and moved on to other systems, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars has remained ingrained in my memory. With the recent introduction of the Wii and its Virtual Console line-up, this game is now available to a whole new generation of RPG fans. Does this eleven-year-old RPG withstand the test of time? Continue reading “Kosher Kuts: Super Mario RPG”

Kosher Kuts: Eyeshield 21

Japanese manga and American football: can two different tastes taste great together? Both forms of entertainment have their rabid devotees and people who indulge in fantasy scenarios with their favorites, but the similarities basically end there. Well, Riichiro Inagaki and Yusuke Murate apparently felt the gap should be bridged between the two mutually-exclusive fanbases and created Eyeshield 21. It began publication in Weekly Shonen Jump in 2002 and has since come stateside courtesy of Viz Media. There is also an anime version of the running that is sponsored by NFL Japan. There is no information yet about the anime coming to the United States.

The focus of Eyeshield 21 is Sena, a freshman at Deimon High School who tends to get bullied into running errands for people. Apparently, this constant harassment since childhood has provided Sena a pair of “Golden Legs”. Sena’s speed gets the attention of the school’s only two regulars of the high school’s football team, who recruit him on the spot as a running back. In order to mask Sena’s identity from rival teams and his over-protective friend, it is suggested that he wear an eyeshield with his helmet to completely cover his face. Sena is given a uniform with the number 21 on it and the saga of the Deimon Devil Bats football team begins.

Continue reading “Kosher Kuts: Eyeshield 21”