Stan Lee’s Ultimo in Sept. Shonen Jump

The ultimate East meets West collaboration is finally coming to our shores in the form of Ultimo. This is the product of Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man and the X-Men, and Hiroyuki Takei, the creator of Shaman King.

So what’s this Ultimo story about anyway? From the Viz website:

“High above Farmless City, citizens are stunned by the sudden appearance of two floating figures. Are they human boys, monolithic robots, or something much more strange? As the battle ensues between them, destruction and devastation falls on the hapless city. One figure is Vice, and seems to be as evil as his name implies. The other is Ultimo, intent on trying to stop Vice from wreaking more havoc. ” Continue reading “Stan Lee’s Ultimo in Sept. Shonen Jump”

Review: Sanctuary, Vol 1

If your perception of manga is based solely on the types of titles you find on the shelves of your local chain bookstore you’re missing the whole picture. Contrary to the abundance of yaoi, shojo and shonen comics on the shelves, there’s actually a large subset of manga that tells stories of a darker, more ominous nature.

Sho Fumimura’s and Ryoichi Ikegami’s Sanctuary is just such a comic. This isn’t something for the Strawberry Marshmallow or Naruto crowd. Sanctuary is a manga made strictly for adults. Don’t expect a hentai but don’t expect Fumimura-san or Ikegami-san to pull any punches either.

The story follows the lives of a young yakuza named Akira Hojo and a young politician named Chiaki Asami. After surviving the killing fields of Cambodia the two escaped to Thailand and eventually to Japan. Their plan is to transform Japan from the ground up on two different sides of the law. Hojo works to change society through the underworld life of a mobster while Asami works his change through the established channels of the Diet. Continue reading “Review: Sanctuary, Vol 1”

Vampire Knight

I found out recently that I wasn’t the only 12 year old girl obsessed with what some poor mother called “the vampire books”… Seeing as I’m not 12 anymore and I still have a thing for vamps, I think that some girls don’t just “grow out of it.”

For example, a couple of weeks ago, I devoured all of Vampire Knight by Matsuri Hino—at least all of it that I could find in English.

VK is about an interesting boarding high school called Cross Academy that caters to “Day Class” students (regular humans) and “Night Class” students (vampires), complete with Sun Dorm and Moon Dorm. (Can you guess which class stays in which dorm?) Day and Night students aren’t really supposed to interact, since the school is an experiment in human/vamp co-habitation, and they don’t except when classes change at around 4 PM every day.

Continue reading “Vampire Knight”

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”

Pumpkin Scissors: They March Among the Midnight Glow

Ryotaro Iwanaga’s Pumpkin Scissors takes place in a war-torn and crippled world, in the wake of a cease-fire with little food, infrastructore or hope for a better future. Now that the long war with the Republic of Frost has ended, the Royal Empire has set up a special army unit dedicated solely to war relief and reconstruction – Imperial Army Section III: Pumpkin Scissors.

The unit is little more than an agent of propaganda run by a nobleman’s daughter, 2nd Lieutenant Alice L. Malvin, until she stumbles upon Corporal Randel Oland. Oland was once part of a group of secret military units called “The Invisible Nine.” His specific unit was the 901-ATT Anti Tank Trooper, the Gespenster Jägers – or Death March Troopers. He’s seen more combat than the whole of Section III combined. Continue reading “Pumpkin Scissors: They March Among the Midnight Glow”

Hellsing Vol. 1

I first came across Hellsing at a game convention displayed next to uncountable other mangas outside the game room. I knew what type of stuff I liked – Crying Freeman, Sanctuary, Blade of the Immortal – and I wanted a new series to sink my teeth into (heh). This is what was handed to me.

The story revolves around the shadowy organization known as Hellsing. Their primary mission is to protect the Protestants of the United Kingdom from the armies of the underworld. Their primary weapon is an ancient and powerful vampire named Alucard who now fights for the Anglican Church. Continue reading “Hellsing Vol. 1”

Yakitate!! Japan

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These days, it’s not unusual to find a manga about almost anything. Having discovered that fantasy, sci-fi, magic, mecha and spiritualist storylines have been done so much they’ve practically become cliché, manga-ka (the people who draw manga) have been left scrambling to find interesting ideas for stories that draw upon the ordinary, rather than the extraordinary. Sports storylines have been popular for a long time – even going back to 1968 with Tomorrow’s Joe – but while artists continue to draw them, even the stories have started to seem a bit lackluster and overdone. Continue reading “Yakitate!! Japan”

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”

Battle Angel Alita

This was one of the first manga I ever purchased when I was beginning to explore the genre. I told myself I would carry on with the other volumes of the series but, sadly, I never picked up another volume.

The story centers on Ido Daisuke and an essentially dormant (but living) brain encased in the cybernetic refuse of a head and upper torso that Daisuke finds in the giant scrapyard beneath the enormous floating city of Tiphares (named Salem in the original Japanese series). She is soon awake but has lost all of her memories, so Daisuke christens her Alita (Gally) after his recently deceased cat. Continue reading “Battle Angel Alita”