Midweek Manga Reviews: Back From Japan!

Berserk vols. 21 & 22
Story & Art: Kentaro Miura
Translation: Duane Johnson
Publisher: Dark Horse

Alright, it has been a while since we have done manga reviews. Getting married and going on your honeymoon does put a damper on things. But, we are back and took some manga to read with us on the plane. Of course you know that I had to take Berserk with me, I have stated before that every time I get a new volume, I put everything else I’m doing down and read non-stop. There is nothing better than the sensation you get when reading about demons eating and destroying humans while your plane hits some heavy turbulence. On to the review: The end of the Birth Ceremony arc and the beginning of the Hawk of the Millennium arc happen in these two volumes. We finally get to see the final fight between Father Mozgus and Guts and we get to see that maybe Farnese has stronger feelings for Guts than she lets on. The down side is that there wasn’t much character development in the 21st volume, but that’s not to say that there weren’t a few moments that made the book worthwhile. I can’t believe Isidoro turned down a freebie from the ladies!!! Volume 22 turns everything around by bringing Griffith back, no, not Femto, but the original Griffith teamed up with Nosferatu Zodd. At this time we don’t really know whether or not Griffith remembers any of what happened to the Band of the Hawk. But who really shines in this issue is Serpico, because of his loyalty to his half-sister Lady Farnese. That’s right, it turns out that they are siblings and Serpico is so set on protecting her that he burns his own mother alive to prove his loyalty. This book never lets down and even though the first half was nothing but non-stop action, we get so much more from volume 22. A-

Dragon Eye vols. 4 & 5
Story & Art: Kairi Fujiyama
Translation: Mari Morimoto
Publisher: Del Rey

I have always been a sucker for shonen action titles; you can blame it on Dragonball Z or Fist of the Northstar. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if the books don’t have an ounce of originality to them, I just keep reading them. But after reading as much manga as I have, you seem to wonder if there are any original stories left? Because everything borrows from something else and it’s just a case of art imitating art. So sure, Dragon Eye feels like Naruto and Harry Potter with a little Bleach thrown in, but then that’s not what makes the series work for me. I enjoy the small character interactions and the humor found in each volume. And oh yeah, the action that is delivered in each volume. Issa has managed to keep the Dracules from invading Mikuni City, even at the cost of unintentionally burring some of his team mates. Aio Shizue makes her debut and almost recruits Leila for her squad. Finally Yukimura confronts Issa about his sister and the cliffhanger leaves me wanting more. Fujiyama demonstrates a great skill in his rendering of humans and the Dracules. This is where his strength lies and you can tell when he delivers more and more action. But, he does have his downside, sometimes the fighting sequences rely too much on action lines and that can take away from the character details and even loose you in the middle of a fight. If you are a fan of Naruto, Bleach, or Peacemaker you should definitely give this book a try. B-

Gunsmith Cats Burst vol. 3
Story & Art: Kenichi Sonoda
Translation & Lettering: Studio Cutie
Publisher: Dark Horse

I leapt for joy when I saw the cover of Gunsmith Cats Burst 3; well I think I may have gasped, because I was on a plane and couldn’t really express myself. Bean Bandit is the man and every time he graces the pages of GSC I know I am in for a treat. It was really sad to see Rally shop for a new car. I loved that Shelby 500 GT as much as she did. Of course she can’t have a normal test drive in a vintage Cobra without someone trying to gun her down. Bean Bandit shows up, because he still owes Rally and she aims to collect. This time he is entering in a race all in the hopes of luring in detective Percy and get him killed in an accident. Of course Rally doesn’t like the idea of being remotely involved in killing a policeman, so she enlists in the race herself in her brand new Cobra. The unfortunate part is that I have to wait till the next volume to see how it all goes down. The race itself was like watching Cannonball Run, Gone in Sixty Seconds (the original not the Angelina Jolie remake), and Vanishing Point. Sonoda’s designs remain sharp edged and detailed. However it’s great to see a combination of detailed machinery and cute anime faces. Throw in some guns and some fantastic action sequences and Dark Horse have themselves a winner. I would definitely recommend going back and reading the Omnibus collections, because they are amazing and affordable. A

Le Chevalier d’Eon vols. 4 & 5
Story: Tou Ubukata
Manga: Kiriko Yumeji
Translation: Ikoi Hiroe
Publisher: Del Rey

I have to say that those covers get me every time. It may seem like your typical T&A book, if you judge it by the covers, but there is so much more of that going on here. While I followed the first volume really easy, there were times in volumes 2 and 3 that I was left a little puzzled. It’s the French history that kept popping up and the all the stuff with the poet, I was getting confused and couldn’t keep up with who was a poet. As of volume 4 though, things have started to clear up. During her abduction by the twin poets, Madame De Pompadour has learned of the existence of Lia and the Poets. Lia has ascended to the sixth rank of Gevurah and we got poets using French/Japanese translated palindromes. These two volumes were definitely action driven and that really makes up for some of the confusing parts of the story telling, because the artwork is drop dead gorgeous. Yumeji has an outstanding range of art. Thin and thick detailed lines are used on the characters, while the streets and settings have a gritty feel to their atmosphere. At times the battle scenes can be a bit confusing, but the translated sound effects help out. It is still a fun read and I always leave satisfied by the end of each volume. There is still plenty of potential character development with such a huge cast and I hope that Yumeji takes the next volume to focus on those characters. B

Martin & John vol.1
Story & Art: Hee-Jung Park
Translation: Soo-Kyung Kim
Adaptation: Ailen Lujo
Publisher: Tokyopop
When I was packing to fly to Japan, I wanted to grab some books that I would that seemed interesting and unfortunately we do judge books by their covers. Then I noticed the name Hee-Jung Park and immediately packed Martin and John in my suitcase. I was a huge fan of Fever and really enjoyed Hotel Africa so I couldn’t wait to open this book and find out what it was about. This book is three different, well four if you include 0, stories about three different men named Martin and three different men named John. It’s really that simple they range in subjects about love, relationships, and especially their feelings. This collection of stories take place in different places, in different times all about a man named Martin and a man named John, and the struggle for love between them, even the women that stand between those feelings. But it’s not really what you think, because some of the stories like the one about John and his step-brother Martin were really touching. I love how elegant and skillfully drawn the storytelling is with a touch of contemporary flair. The drama feels grounded in reality, with a modern melodramatic twist. However sometimes the stories take a while to develop and I was left asking myself, so what happens next? While the art is beautiful, sometimes I think that Park has a hard time getting the right facial expression through. Overall it was an entertaining read and I will most likely check out the second volume. B-

Tokko: Devil’s Awaken vol. 1
Story & Art: Tohru Fujisawa
Translation: Satsuki Yamashita
Adaptation: Zachary Rau
Publisher: Tokyopop

I have learned my lesson after missing out on Rose Hip Rose. That lesson is that I have to try anything by Fujisawa. I guess I should have known better because I loved GTO so much and eventually did get around to reading RHR and was pleasantly surprised. Ranmaru Shindo and his sister Saya live together and have an unusual relationship (she keeps teasing him about shoving his head between her breasts). It seems that five years prior to their living situation there was a massacre that killed their parents and everyone in their apartment complex. Ranmaru seems to be having dreams of a girl for quite some time and they are becoming more and more frequent. Ranmaru graduates from his cadet class and has become the new investigator for the Special Mobile Investigation Troops First Division (TOKKI) in order to avenge the death of his parents. Eventually he meets the girl from his dreams; Sakura Rokujo, who happens to be a member of Section 2 Special Public Safety Task Force (Tokko). Sure it’s not the most unique manga out there, but the art style and character growth really keeps you hooked and wanting more. It’s just as hardcore as any of Fujisawa’s series, but it has more of a dark twist to it. His art seems to have changed a bit, adding more shadows and dark heavy inks to add to the mysterious mood of the narrative. I will definitely be checking out the rest of the series. A-

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