Monday Manga Reviews: We got horror, magical girls, psychics, and pumpkins!

E’s Volumes 3 & 4
Story & Art: Satol Yuiga
Translation: Satsuki Yamashita
Publisher: Broccoli Books

Boy do I feel like an idiot. And it really doesn’t take much, but that’s beside the point. Last week I reviewed E’s volumes 1 and 2, well on my review I referred to Satol Yuiga as him. After a little research I owe Ms. Satol Yuiga an apology. I was a little lost when I read volumes 3 and 4 and I just read the previous volumes just last week. The art is still impressive if not better that the introductory chapters. She still manages to capture amazing fight scenes and gorgeous character designs. I really think what brings these two volumes down is the growing cast of characters. There is just way too many and more and more keep appearing in each volume. The book is not based on a videogame so why try to cram as many characters in one book? The other thing is I only feel emotionally attached to Kai, Shen Long, and Asuka. Everyone else seems just to show up for the sake of igniting another battle with the main characters. Sadly, I can’t say more than that about these volumes, even the prequel that comes in volume 3, is nothing more than a big brawl. I hope these books pick up, because the first two were so promising. C

Story & Art: Jun Abe
English Adaptation: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Publisher: Viz

This past weekend I had a day to myself so I decided to have a Masters of Horror marathon and it wasn’t enough to satisfy my horror hunger. I decided to read some horror manga as well. Portus happened to be first on my pile of books to read. It really peeked my interest because it was about an urban legend of a videogame that could kill you! If you discovered the hidden level within the game a little boy would appear and shortly thereafter you would die. I was hooked with the book from the beginning following Asami, Keigo, and Mayumi try to solve the mystery behind the deaths that revolve around the game and its dead creator. I’m not really sure when I started losing interest though, I think too much was revealed and everything is explained by the very end. I think part of the reason I love the horror genre is that I love that fear of the unknown feeling some movies and books give you. When everything is explained, it just doesn’t have the same effect on you. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an okay story that is superior to most of the garbage that passes as horror now, but the selling point of the series is really the art. Abe draws some amazing visuals and really sets the mood for the book. I love the extreme facial close-ups he gives some panels and the amount of detail that he puts in the environments. C+

Presents Volume 1
Story & Art: Kanako Inuki
Translation & Adaptation: Sheldon Drzka
Publisher: CMX

Looking at the cover of Presents it reminded me of Junko Mizuno’s artwork. So going into the book I really thought it was going to be cute pictures with a really dark twist to them. Damn, I really didn’t think it was going to be this creepy. Kurumi is a girl that never got a present on her birthday, she was always overlooked or purposely forgotten and by some weird twist of fate this made her into the spirit of presents. Since she never gets a present on her birthday she never really ages, so I’m not sure how old she really is supposed to be or how long she’s been around. The book is made up of unrelated short stories that focus on the presents theme. From a selfish little girl that has to have every present to a story of jealousy over beauty. Even Santa Claus appears in one story, so nothing is really safe when it concerns presents. By the end of the volume I have come to the conclusion that Kurumi is evil and some of the people she interacts with are just innocent by standards that have done nothing wrong. This really is a twist on the old if you have sex or are a bad person bad things will happen to you. Even if you are good and a virgin you are obviously not safe from Kurumi. I was really surprised to find out the stories were originally published in the 90’s, because judging by the art style I would have guess the 70’s. But he makes it work with each story. The only down side is that the stories already seem repetitive and I hope the second volume really takes us in a different direction. B

Pumpkin Scissors Volume 1
Story & Art: Ryotaro Iwanaga
Translation & Adaptation: Ikoi Hiroe
Publisher: Del Rey

In the tradition of strange names like Pineapple Army, Fruits Basket, I My Me Strawberry Eggs; comes Pumpkin Scissors. If I had to compare it to any other of the three titles, I guess it really is more like Pineapple Army than anything. The Royal Empire and the Republic of Frost are torn by war. Some of these soldiers have turned to bandits and are terrorizing the country. Even though the war is over it is up to the Pumpkin Scissors to help the war effort and take down these bandits who fight against the Royal Empire. The story focuses on Randal Oland and Lt. Alice Malvin who both have different ideas on the empire. PS has a great mix of action, humor, and a good heartwarming message about good vs. evil. There are really some great action scenes that seem realistic and violent at times. The only thing I really found annoying was Alice; she’s annoying as hell and makes the beginning a little hard to get into, not to mention the fact that she is constantly putting her squad in danger. While the art is really action paced and violent, it really needs some polishing up. Sometimes the characters look too stiff and some characters look too cartoony for no apparent reason. I look forward to the next volume and hope everyone makes it out okay. B+

Shugo Chara! Volumes 1 & 2
Story & Art: Peach Pit
Translation: Satsuki Yamashita
English Adaptation: Nunzio DeFillipis & Christina Weir
Publisher: Del Rey

There are two things I would like to mention before we get on with the review. One, Peach-Pit is not the 90210 hang out spot. It is the nick name that Banri Sedo and Shibuku Ebara use when doing professional work such as Dears and Rozen Maiden. The other thing I would like to mention is that I really loved seeing DeFillipis and Weir’s names on the opening pages, I was a huge fan of their work on New Mutants and New X-men and it’s really good to see them both still doing work in comics. Amu is a little girl that wants nothing more than to be a cute girl at school and be able to speak her mind, but that is so out of character for her. Well, everything changes when she makes a wish and her three Guardian Characters are born from three magical eggs. They grant her character changing powers whenever she needs them. Of course these character changes are anything from admitting her love for a boy to flying to get out of a situation. It seems she is not the only one with these eggs either. It is a really cute manga with lots of moments that remind me of Card Captor Sakura or Saint Tail. I guess I have to borrow Melanie’s use of kawaii to describe the art, because there are some pictures that are right down adorable. Ahh, those big eyes to bring out certain feelings in the brain. A-

Uzumaki Volume 1
Story & Art: Junji Ito
Translation & Adaptation: Yuji Oniki
Publisher: Viz

To call Ito a master of the horror genre would be such an understatement. This book is so inventive and so right down creepy that I really thought the steam would have died down by the end of the volume. Uzumaki is a series of stories told through the eyes of Kirie Goshima and her small town of Korozucho. It seems that some kind of evil lurks in the pond behind her house and it’s causing the entire town’s villagers go mad and have bizarre deaths. The only thing in common with the deaths is the mad obsession over spirals. Each story is about 20 to 30 pages long and is linked to the previous stories by the two main characters. While that might seem silly to some people, that artwork just puts the fear of God in you. The artwork is completely beautiful and saying that about a disturbing story is really hard to say. Ito takes some outlandish concepts and makes them into abundantly disturbing images rather than looking just plain silly. His work is distinctive and compelling with his punctilious use of heavy lines and shading that enhances the pace of the story. Even the main character isn’t safe from the spirals so I wonder how this will work out for her in the end. If you are any kind of fan of horror you really must buy this book. A+

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