Midweek Manga Reviews: We’re Back!

Castlevania Curse of Darkness vol. 1
Story & Art: Kou Sasakura
Translation: Ray Yoshimoto
Adaptation: Jeremy Black
Publisher: Tokyopop

As a kid I don’t there was a better videogame experience then locking my room in the middle of the night and playing through Castlevania in the middle of a storm. All the sense of excitement and horror was intensified by the crack of thunder. This is the first time I have read a Castlevania comic. I wasn’t at all interested in the IDW series, but the cover to Curse of Darkness really got my attention. Although this particular manga is not based on Simon Belmont’s story, it is based on one of my favorite Castlevania games for the Playstation 2. It was a direct sequel to Castlevania III. So when I opened the manga I was expecting to see Trevor Belmont and Julia, but instead I get a small retelling of the story I’m all too familiar with. Hector no longer wants to be associated with Dracula. Issac is another General in Dracula’s was against humanity. Issac is sent to retrieve Hector, who is residing in a church and whose powers awaken because of a little boy named Ted. This is the part that kind of confused me. He wants Ted to reject his believes and to sin in order for Hector to help him save the church’s nun Rosalee. For a book based on the videogame it sure didn’t focus on enough of the two main characters, but rather Ted and even Rosalee get more of a spotlight. While the art is really nice to look through, it doesn’t make the story better. I’m a fan of the series and I will be picking this series up, but I can’t see anyone else being interested in this book. C-

Gacha Gacha: The Next Revolution vol.7
Story & Art: Hiroyuki Tamakoshi
Translation: David Ury
Publisher: Del Rey

Having gone to the maid café in Tokyo, I really had no interest in seeing another girl dressed in a maid outfit. Wait….what the hell is wrong with me? That cover is still hot; I take back what I said. I haven’t read a Gacha Gacha book since the original came out in 2005. I had no idea what this Next Revolution was. It’s really easy to play catch up with books like this though. Del Rey does a wonderful job with a recap of what has happened in the past few volumes. Pretty much the story focuses on Valentine’s day in Japan and Yurika, Haruna, and Anju have all decided to give their chocolate to Akira….no sexual connotation intended. What more does a story need besides a bath house story?!!! It’s still the same fun that I remembered that got me intrigued in the first series. Tamakoshi loves to tease and does so with great skill, I’m not only talking about the fan service shot, but the continuing romantic story. This book won’t blow you away with a convoluted plot or keep drilling at your head with its deeper symbolic meaning. It’s just a book that has great art, funny characters, and a good solid story to remind you why manga is fun to read. A-

The Guin Saga: The Seven Magi vols. 1-3
Story: Kaoru Kurimoto
Art: Kazuaki Yanagisawa
Translation: Ishmael Arthur
Publisher: Vertical

I remember the first time I heard of the Guin saga books; I was reading an interview with Kentaro Miura and he was stated for working some elements of these books in his Berserk series. I never got around to reading any of the Guin Saga books, but Vertical has translated the first five volumes in English. Keep in mind these are the first five of 121 volumes so far. So I do think that is some kind of record. The story is about a leopard masked warrior named Guin who can’t remember his past. All he remembers are his fighting instincts and the word Aurra. This particular miniseries takes place is an adaptation of one of the later books in the Guin Saga. It really doesn’t require that you read any of the novels to enjoy the book, but it doesn’t hurt to know the background of some of the characters.

The story synopsis is a rather simple one. Guin faces doom in the form of a contingent of magicians who have threatened his kingdom of Cherionia. This comes in the form of natural disasters and plagues. Now with his two compatriots he must battle the seven magi. These seven magi are no villains to be taken lightly, they are ruthless, cunning, and will stop at nothing to destroy Guin. Guin is the type of hero that would sacrifice his own life for the sake of his people. He reminds me much of Conan the Barbarian, who rules with the sword and not with words. He can’t really relate to women and has an absurd amount of brute strength. The story has a satisfying conclusion because it is properly wrapped up. We learn the cause of the plagues and destruction and who the true villain of the piece is, and why. Problems are solved, relationships are changed, and some people are revealed to be not at all who we thought they were. The story never slows down, even though volume two has more narration than the other volumes, it was still action packed.

I think the author was teamed up with the perfect artist for this project. Yanagisawa’s artwork is stunning to say the least. Even though it can get a bit confusing and hard to follow during action sequences it’s still a great treat for the eye. It’s an epic fantasy story that any fan of Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Conan, and Berserk would love to add to their collection. I finished all three books in one night and I have to recommend it to all fans of manga and fiction. A-

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