Midweek Manga Reviews: Foxy Ladies With Swords Round 3!

Claymore vol. 11
Story & Art: Norihiro Yagi
Adaptation & Translation: Arashi Productions
Publisher: Viz

I remember way back when I looked at the cover of volume 1 in this series and thought to myself: “A tough looking chick with a sword, how can this book be anything but good?” That was the start of a page turning story that had everything a comic book reader could want: gore, guts, action, glory, blood, fantastic character designs, ruthless villains, and gorgeous heroines that could take your head off. Named after their immense swords they carry the Claymores are humanity’s last stand against the creatures known as the Yoma. They are half Yoma and half human and are able to awaken when needed. Clare has finally fully awakened her power and has avenged her fallen friends. But in the town of Pieta, Clare and five other Claymores make their final stand against a troop of newly awakened Yomas. The Claymores fall one by one and Priscilla can sense their lights fading away. We are introduced to the new twins Beth and Alicia who wear black armor and can fully transform themselves. The problem I had with this volume is that it ends and we really don’t get to see Clare or any of the other Claymores fall at the hands of their enemies. The fight between Isley and Luciela of the south is even left unanswered. Now we have to wait till July to find out what happened and it seems the story is going to jump seven years forward too. Hell, count me in. I can’t get enough of these girls with swords. A-

Foxy Lady vol. 1
Story & Art: Tachibana
Translation: Satsuki Yamashita
Adaptation: Andrew Wollman
Publisher: Tokyopop

When I first saw the fox ears on the cover, I was immediately taken back to all the anime conventions I have ever attended. There has always been something hot about a girl with animal ears on. I believe Gainax really knew this way back in the day when they made Otaku no Video. Now it seems that every girl I see in anime or manga, has developed some kind of animal ears to make them look cuter than they already are. To be honest, it’s really a gimmick that has been run to the ground. Foxy Lady is a little different in that aspect though. Kogane is a half demon/human fox who has come to the human world to make her dream of becoming a full human true. To do that she must unite with an heir to a shrine….funny enough Jin happens to be one such guy. Jin also happens to wish for a girl like Kogane to come into his life. Of course things aren’t always that simple when it comes to love and manga. With friends like Sogo and Kanoto, Jin has more than his fair share of challenges. Of course the party really starts when the half weasel half human demon known as Ten shows up. I’m really surprised this book didn’t have that much fan service for its targeted audience. I am also surprised I really enjoyed the book as much as I did considering it’s really not my cup of tea. The supporting cast really makes the book readable, because to be honest Jin is really quite boring and would kill the pace of the book if it just concentrated on him. I really enjoyed the artwork and have high hopes when volume 2 comes out. B+

Kannazuki No Miko (Destiny of the Shrine Maiden) vol. 1
Story & Art: Kaishaku
Translation: Adrienne Beck
Adaptation: Jessica Kathryn Feinberg
Publisher: Tokyopop

I was really looking forward to reading this book after looking at that gorgeous cover. In the mid 90’s it was that kind of artwork that made me put down American comics as a whole. I know the inside of the book is not color, but I will tell you this; the gorgeous artwork still continues in the inside pages. In the book we meet Himeko, who is shy, cute, and happens to have a crush on Chikane. Chikane is the gorgeous and cool “princess” of their exclusive boarding school. She’s been looking forward to their joint 16th birthday party for weeks. To Himeko’s surprise Chickane remembered her birthday as opposed to everyone else who was concentrating on congratulating Chickane. But on that very same day of their birthday celebration a shrine appears in the sky and giant robots ravage the school. Himeko discovers that she is the reincarnation of the Solar Priestess and Chikane is the reincarnated Lunar Priestess. This of course explains the tattoo on Himeko’s chest that came out of nowhere. From this moment on their lives will never be the same. As I mentioned earlier the artwork is extremely amazing. The fights with the mechas are taken right of classics like Gundam and Mazinger Z. But there are some things within the plot that confuses me. The cycle (the reincarnation of the priestess and “necks”, the resurrection of the gods and the sacrifice of the priestess) and the relationship between the two girls should have been more detailed. There are also too many characters being introduced and they get hard to keep up with. It’s not the most original story, but the two main characters really carry the plot. I’m curious to see what happens to them and if their love is enough to stop all hell from breaking loose. The book also includes a special peek at Girls Bravo. B-

SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom vol. 8
Story & Art: Chi Wan Shum
Translation: Yun Zhao
Adaptation: Benjamin Stone
Publisher: Dr Master

It’s been a long time coming, but SVC SNK vs. Capcom is finally over. What started to be released in 2004 by ComicsOne has finally come to an end and everything comes together and leaves some questions unanswered. This volume has everything in it. Mr. Karate vs. Shin Akkuma, Evil Ryu vs. Dark Ken, Ryu vs. Terry Bogard, and Chun-Li vs. Kyo Kusanagi. Kyo and Iori battle Goenitz as Terry and Chun-Li lose an ally in a battle against Shiki. Even the Martian from Metal Slug makes an appearance to help and defeat Goenitz. This all leads to the final battle of Kyo and Ryu against Red Arremer and Athena. However, Ryu and Kyo refuse to battle each other to the death and break the rules of the tournament. Now chaos and rule, represented by God and the Devil (I kid you not) cannot determine a victor and grant them their wish of restoring a world before chaos. Of course this means only Ryu can return and Kyo is still dead. Confused? Yeah so was I. I couldn’t think of a more deserving title than Chaos for this book. I really couldn’t keep track of who was staying and who was going, who was dead and who was alive, and I never took Mr. Karate seriously. The story seemed to fly by and by the time the book wrapped up; I kept asking myself what happened to so and so. That’s my biggest gripe with the book. Packaging, print quality, and paper quality is exactly what you expect from DrMaster Publications, the highest standard! The art and colors are completely wonderful and I am now sold on being a Chi Wan Shum fan for life. Fans of Capcom and SNK are already buying this, but if you want to try something a little different with some spectacular art, give this book a shot. B

Yumekui Kenbun: Nightmare Inspector vol. 1
Story & Art: Shin Mashiba
Translation: Gemma Collinge
Adaptation: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Publisher: Viz

I had no idea what to expect when I saw the cover and the title of this book. I have to say for as dark as that cover seems, it really does have some wonderful use of colors. Nightmare Inspector reminds me much of the episodic manga that I highly enjoy such as Mushishi, Petshop or Horrors, and Ogre Slayer. The story centers around the Silver Star tea shop during Old England. Hiruko is the owner of this establishment and he also happens to be a dream-eater. The way he solves people’s problems is by entering their nightmares if he can eat their dreams after rescuing them from their torment. So throughout the book different kinds of people seek his services and they all have different outcomes. There are seven chapters in the first volume. They are all pretty short and all have some kind of irony twist towards the end. The seventh chapter does end on a cliffhanger though. The main problem is with the dialogue; it becomes rather repetitive and dull. Every chapter starts the same way and before you see the ending you can already predict what is going to happen. There is very little character development within the first five chapters, but just as soon as the book is about to end the characters start interacting with each other. While the art is pretty to look at, it’s really nothing that stands out above the rest of the books found in this genre. It’s a nice start, but I really had to push myself to read those first few chapters. C+

Zombie Powder vol. 4
Story & Art: Tite Kubo
Translation: Akira Watanabe
Publisher: Viz

I picked up Zombie Powder because I love Bleach, and the same creator did both series. From the beginning you could tell the subtle differences in the artwork and the way the story moved between the two books. As a locomotive blazes across the desert, Wolfina tries to rescue her brother whose body is fused to the engine. Emilio is one of the “hosts” of a Ring of the Dead! With no help in sight, Wolfina fights alone to save her brother from a fate worse than death. Gamma and C.T. manage to stop the train right before it hits Alcantara. The book finally reaches its conclusion with a happy ending and a possible way to continue the adventures of all our favorite characters. Hell, I would love to read more about Elwood in a spin-off series. Kubo’s character designs show a propensity for small-framed women with rather prominent, rounded bosoms, while adult male characters tend to have the impossibly lanky builds such as the ones found in Shojo manga (they do remind me of designs by CLAMO). I must say, it’s actually pretty impressive for a first-time manga, although about as good as I expected considering I had already read Bleach. It has most of the ingredients that makes a good Kubo series, even if it is a little rough on the edges, and I really like that about it. Sure the artwork is not perfect, but still great to see where his style goes from here. The only thing that disappointed me is that, much like the last volume, we get another 60 pages of another Kubo story. This time it’s a story called Bad Shield United. I would have rather gotten an additional 60 pages of Zombie Powder, but I guess I’ll take what I can get. B

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