Monday Manga Reviews: Girls in love and Girls that are just insane!

Excel Saga vol. 16
Story & Art: Rikdo Koshi
Translation: Yuko Sawada
Adaptation: Carl Gustav Horn
Publisher: Viz

I can’t even begin to explain how insane this series is. Some of my friends ask me why I even bother reading the manga when the anime is superior (according to them). I just answer by letting them know that the director himself stated that the stories in the manga were too insane and risqué to put in the anime. In this volume Dr. Kabapu is literally getting sick at the thought of the stunning success of Il Palazzo’s eponymous electronics firm. Umi has discovered another version of Excel, a woman in a torn prison outfit with little memory of her past. There are plenty of cos-play wardrobes and plenty of Aunt Miwa’s insanity. While the stories might sound like chaotically random nonsense, believe it or not the creator is a skilled master at handling the madness with a subtle style of humor and writing his characters as nuanced individuals rather than stereotypic archetypes. The most fun part of any gag he comes up with isn’t the gag itself, but seeing how the characters react to it. The artwork works done extremely well. It ranges from detailed lines to simplistic stick figure facial expressions. It doesn’t hurt that the creator draws very attractive female characters, but manages to make them strong, intelligent, and believable. As usual, it contains the “oubliette” bonus section with sound effects translations and quick culture notes. This is one of the few Viz books that the sound effects are translated in the back. Do yourself a favor and pick up one of the most original manga to hit the States. A

Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden vol. 4
Story & Art: Yuu Watase
Translation: Lillian Olsen
Publisher: Viz

The prequel to the original and best selling Fushigi Yugi continues with volume 4! This series again takes us to another world where this time the priestess of Genbu (schoolgirl Takiko Okuda) is trying to find the seven Celestial Warriors. Takiko, the female lead, is a strong young woman who is not afraid to do what she knows is right and doesn’t back down. She can handle herself and will fight to protect what she holds dear. While I did enjoy the original FY, sometimes Miaka’s actions would get on my nerves. That is never the case with the way Takiko handles the situations. So in this volume Takiko meets yet another Celestial and gets a kiss from Limdo. Of course right after that he goes back to claiming he hates her. So you can see a developing relationship pass the Celestial Warrior and Priestess role they have. The ending to this volume was shocking and it’s quite a cliffhanger and makes me anxious to read the next volume. This story is pure magic and the art style certainly reminds you that Watase can create very believable worlds. Even though, it rarely happens, some of her female characters start looking alike. Watase is one of the best manga writers out there with her twists and cliffhanger endings she knows how to suck you into a story. Takiko is such a marvelous heroine. Smart, mature, and beautiful, as well as very, kind, but she has her flaws which makes her believable. This is definitely another epic story following in the footsteps of its predecessor. B+

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