Manga Reviews: Animals, Princesses, Air trecks and the end of the world!

Airgear vol. 21
Story & Art: Oh! Great
Translation: Stephen Paul
Lettering: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: Kodansha

I ever reveal that anytime I read this series, I want to dust off my old rollerblades and go outside and bust my ass?  Because, that is exactly what would happen if I did that.  I’m 33 now, I can’t be doing silly things like that; bones would take too long to heal and then I’d have to take time off work.  Oh to be young again, thank you Airgear for making me relive those young days, however.  If you aren’t familiar with AirGear it is a manga by Oh Great, who not only has a badass name, but is also the same mastermind behind Tenjo Tenge. The story is about Ikki Minami, a 13-year-old junior high gang leader, also known as Baby face of East Side. He suffers a humiliating defeat by the an air-trekking gang called the Skull Saders, who then go on to target the friends and classmates he can’t protect. His foster family, the Namayoma sisters, notably Ringo, Ikki’s childhood friend mysteriously reveal themselves as the legendary Sleeping Forest, assisting Ikki in entering the Airtrek world to redeem his pride. Now we see Team Kogarasumaru preparing for their battle to come against Sora and the rest of Team Genesis.  This training is pretty intense as teammate goes against teammate in a mountain town.  Of course training wouldn’t be training if a Dragon God didn’t show up to stir up trouble between our gang. It’s up to Agito to take down Lind and it’s a fight to remember.   Oh! Great really lives up to his name when it comes to his artwork; it’s actually better than great, it ‘phenomenal. His art is detailed and expressive without ever being crowded or confusing. Amazing as always. Just enough comedy to keep it light, but can get very intense with dramatic situations and perils. B+

Animal Land volume 3
Story & Art: Makoto Raiku
Translation: Stephen Paul
Lettering: Janice Chiang
Publisher: Kodansha

This is the first volume of Animal Land I have read and it’s also the first work of Raiku’s that I have experienced.  To be perfectly honest there wasn’t a moment that I was lost.  The recap pages really helped out a lot and the explanation of characters and villages at the beginning were perfect.  So jumping into this book, I really didn’t know what to expect.  Looking at the cover I figured it would be a comedy or something like Pokemon, where a kid goes around and collects animals all over the world and puts them on a CD (those things still exist)? Either way none of that happens within these pages.  The story is about a world where no humans ever lived.  So animals roam this world and just like humans: live in peace, go to war, and are very selfish.  Along comes Taroza, a human raised by a tanuki.  He tries to explain things like sharing and helping other animals to every animal he meets.  Sometimes this doesn’t go over well.  Taroza isn’t the only human in this world as we learn in this volume.  Capri is a girl that is traveling with lions.  She tries to seduce Taroza and he rejects her approach.  Feeling rejected she swears to kill and eat him and orders an attack on his farm.  There is also an episode zero at the end of the book, which is the story of Kuro and how he meets Segio.  The story is cute.  I happened to fall for its charming characters and wonderful artwork.  It also doesn’t hurt that my two year old loved looking at the artwork with me.   I happen to hide the darker parts of the story away from her though.  B

Princess Knight volume 2
Story & Art: Osama Tezuka
Translation: Maya Rosewood
Publisher: Vertical

Let me just say that this manga is really difficult to read when you’re holding a newborn!  It’s 350 pages long, and it doesn’t take all but a few seconds to read each page; therefore, I constantly had to turn the pages in this thick book while balancing a baby.  :)

In this last volume, Tezuka finishes the overall story arc with Madame Hell, but he kills off two of my favorite characters!  Of course I didn’t expect him to spend more than a panel or two on their deaths since the story moves so fast, but still…, I wanted the characters to be remembered or mourned or something…  Well, it’s just for fun, and doesn’t include deep character development.  In fact when Princess Sapphire and Prince Charming finally reunite, it’s just one panel.

I was a little disappointed in the last story arc with the goddess Venus.  I suppose I wanted the story to end with Madame Hell since she was the villain most of the time.  The characters just kept running around with Venus after them.  I did like Friebe though, a strong female knight who falls in love with Sapphire.

Basically, I gave this a B because I enjoyed reading it, so that deserves a high grade, but it’s not a story that will stick with me.  It kind of seemed like he just kept writing it for fun without any direction, but he’s the godfather of manga, so he can do that.

X Volume 1 omnibus
Story & Art: CLAMP
Translation: Lillian Olsen
Lettering: Annaliese Christman
Publisher: Viz

As most of you know, this is my favorite work by CLAMP, well this and Magic Knight Rayearth.  Back in the day when I collected Animerica magazine I would make sure the first place I went was the middle of the magazine to read the current installment of X/1999, as it was called during its initial publication.  The story is about the end of the world as it comes about in the year 1999. Keep in mind these were originally published in 1996 so things were looking bad for Y2K back then.

Kamui Shiro comes back to Tokyo after his mother’s death to face his destiny.  He has been gone from Tokyo for six years.  It is at the advice of his mother that he finally returns.  Not really knowing why he exiles himself from his old friends Kotori and Fuma, because he doesn’t want to get them involved in what’s to come.  What is to come is a huge battle between the Dragons of the Heaven and the Dragons of the Earth.  It is up to Kamui to decide who he wants to join and what he wants to protect the most.

The series was put on hiatus with volume 18 and fans, including myself have been waiting anxiously for the true ending of this masterpiece.   This version includes the first three volumes along a glossary, mini character bios, notes by the creators, and over 20 pages of gorgeous color artwork and title pages. Finally after all these years, I get to see the credits of who really does what in the world of CLAMP.  Who is the art director, who is the story writer?  They finally broke it down at the end of the book and I get to see who is who.  Thank you Viz for bringing this book not only back into print, but for giving us the cake and the icing.  I can’t thank you enough.  A+

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