Ongoing Investigations: Case #033

At NYCC, Yen Press was giving away all the books they had brought to display on Sunday. It was mostly picked clean when I got there. I had to take what was interesting but not owned by Kohaku, Narutaki, or me. I picked up Black God book three based on the first episode of Black God anime which had potential to either be very good or very bad. I heard there were significant differences between the anime and the manga. It is a bit odd reviewing the third book in a series but here I go. The main character is out of school and works as a computer programmer in the manga. The pace of things is different because the girl killed at the end of the first episode does not die until the end of the second book. We start off with a guy having sex with a loli (so right there Narutaki is not going to be a fan). We soon learn after a fight and some exposition that Steiner (the previously mentioned loli-toucher) and Excel (the previously mentioned fake loli) are allies if morally flexible allies. The fights are generally enjoyable and one of the strongest reasons to keep reading. I don’t know why by my favorite character in the series is Akane but Kuro and Keita have yet to really sell me. If I had not watched the first episode of the anime I think I could have generally figured out what was going on although seeing it definitely helped. I can’t say that the book made me rush out to buy the rest of the series but if I saw it on sale I would pick it up. It’s not exactly original but it seems interesting. I am curious how Keita’s mother plays into the evil organization and if they have the cojones to kill of Akane despite me liking her.

My friend lent me the graphic novel Skim after we were admiring Jillian Tamaki’s artwork in a another project. Her style is certainly Japanese print inspired and she had the ability to draw characters who aren’t beautiful looking but rather charismatic anyway. Skim takes place during a period of change in a young girl’s life. It follows “Skim” as she falls in love for the first time, loses and gains a friendship, and as she discovers change is okay. Skim has a sense of humor about herself and her thoughts on the world around her are a breath of fresh air. Mariko Tamaki is able to capture a teenager’s thought patterns without coming off as trite or overly angsty. 

I picked up Translucent number one from a Dark Horse RighStuf sale after hearing people talk about it on the The Anime Roundtable. It a cute little love story about a girl who has a strange medical condition that is makes her partly transparent and the boy who loves her. I think is a series destined to be loved by critics and manga otaku and ignored by the masses. It has cute characters and a lovely little story that is only five books long. Mamoru is a nice goofy guy and Shizuka is a sympathetic girl much like Mugi from Hitohira. The side characters like Okouchi are quite charming. For some reason, the atypical art style and fact that the two are in a relationship reminds me a lot of Love Roma. I do admit while the unusual art style in Love Roma was a stylistic decision, here it is more of odd because it looks so amateur. I have noted that seinen series are more willing to artists who tell good stories but less artistic skill. While I enjoy that fact, I feel it further ghettoizes seinen manga in the U.S. I look forward to reading the rest of the series and we might do an article when it wraps up.

I love VIZ’s release of 20th Century Boys. Check out the abundant spot gloss all over the place! Not to mention the cover design is really nice! I had actually read a few chapters of this series a mighty long time ago. I am glad to be reading it again. In this first book we really get to know Kenji, I wonder if he will remain at the forefront or if we will get to see more of the group as well. I am certainly intrigued by the strange goings on as well as “Friend.” I do feel that an entire group of friends completely forgetting an incident is rather far fetched, but I have accepted this as part of the story. And I hope it will be explained as the story goes on.

I started reading Hero Tales in Yen Plus recently. Coming from Hiromu Arakawa of Fullmetal Alchemist I am sure this series already has plenty of buzz. Though I have not heard anything about it other than its existence before I started reading it in Yen Plus. I did not even realize that there was a 26-episode anime. Is there some reason no one talks about this series despite it coming from such a high profile artist or am I just not talking to the right people? It’s an enjoyable martial arts adventure so far. You have an oppressive empire and a young hero with a mysterious power tied into his destiny. I like Taitou and Laila’s brother/sister relationship. The general plot structure reminds me of the Suikoden series due to Taitou being one of the stars of the Big Dipper. He therefore has to find the other stars to accomplish his task. The main character has a much more powerful berserker form which could lead to lameness. Looks fun and worth following in either Yen Plus or graphic novels.

My love for Dragon Eye seems to be shared by few, but nevertheless (or perhaps because of that fact) I grabbed up volume six as quickly as I could. For whatever reason, this volume really drove it home for me that Issa is more of an in-between shonen and seinen hero, as opposed to his looks and attitude that imply he is the typical shonen protagonist. The beginning of this volume somewhat clears up a mystery (with a very good fight) and then pushes us fully into a new one involving the upcoming tournament. We are also introduced to some of squad one and specifically Akira, who seems to have a major problem with Hibiki. Incidentally, Hibiki remains one of my favorite characters and continues to be a mysterious guy. Aoi’s, his squad captain, interest in him is intriguing. It doesn’t seem romantic so I suspect they are related in someway. Looks like the tournament will be starting in the next book, can’t wait!

If you were curious about the three main characters Hero Tales, this is the pic of the week:

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