Monday Manga Reviews: Yeah, we know it’s Tuesday, but we got more reviews!

BoBoBo-Bo Bo-BoBo Volume 1
Story & Art: Yoshio Sawai
English Adaptation: Drew Williams
Publisher: Viz

How do I explain this book without using the word insane? I probably couldn’t. With a title like that what else would you expect from this book? For some reason Viz decided to only publish one of the 20+ volumes of Bobobo in America. What’s really strange is that it’s not even volume 1 of the series, but volume eight or nine. So we jump right into the story with a paragraphs worth of catching up. Does that work? Hell yes! You really don’t have to know much about the background of this series to appreciate the level of insanity. In the year 300X an evil dictator has mandated the hunting of all hair in the Maruhage Empire. Of course if you’ve seen any pictures of Bobobo you know he will not stand for this. Along with his sidekicks, who are used more like shields and punching bags, leads a rebellion against the evil empire. This book has everything from slapstick humor, ridiculous parodies, pop culture references, and just adult humor. Think of Excel Saga on crack. I’m pretty sure that the reason Viz didn’t translate the rest of the volumes was to see if there was a market for insanity like this in the U.S. To be honest, I enjoyed it, but towards the end of the book I wanted a little more to the story other than every panel focusing on someone screaming, insanely bleeding, or getting severely beaten. If they ever release other volumes though, I will be happy to check them out. C

Dirty Pair: The Great Adventure
Story: Haruka Takachiho
Illustrations: Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
Publisher: Dark Horse

Back in the early 90s I was introduced to Streamline Pictures. It was one of the earliest anime publishers in America. They released three Dirty Pair movies and I that’s when I fell in love with those two half naked angels. I always wondered if the anime, like most anime, was based on a manga. However, just like Vampire Hunter D, the anime was inspired by this novel. Kei and Yuri are two WWWA (Worlds Welfare Work Association) Agents. Pretty much they investigate crimes across the universe. Although their codenames are the Lovely Angels, they are better known as the Dirty Pair, because of the path of destruction they make on the way to catch the bad guys. The novel is told through the words of Kei and she is pretty descriptive when talking about herself and Yuri. She pretty much gives the readers the measurements of the two. Damn, even in the 70’s Takachiho knew who his target audience was. The narration is funny and descriptive when it has to be. It reminds me so much of books that I was forced to read when I was in middle school, but I’m glad I did, now that I am an adult. The story is very plain the Dirty Pair are hired to investigate a mysterious explosion on the planet Dangle. Along with Thunder, Lucha, and their giant cat-like creature Mugi try to solve the mystery of this explosion. Needless to say that the 20 something pictures by Yasuhiko add a certain 70’s element to this nostalgic story. I hope the next volume the narration is done by Yuri, just want to know what she is thinking. B

E’s Volumes 1-2
Story & Art: Satol Yuiga
Translation: Satsuki Yamashita
Publisher: Broccoli Books

After reading Astonishing X-men and Messiah CompleX I sat down and chose a manga to read. Funny enough I picked the one manga that reminded me of X-men. Well to be fair, more like X-men meets Scryed and they got together had a baby and that baby got together with X 1999. I think you know where I’m getting at. However, while it does borrow elements from those books it’s really more than just that. A post apocalyptic world where psychic teenagers are recruited by Ashurum ( A semi-government organization) that’s sole goal is to return order to the world and recruit all psychics. Kai is one of these psychics, however his ideal world is one without violence. He is also motivated by the love of his sick little sister, Asuka. There are some very disturbing death scenes that Yuiga portrays magnificently, I know it sounds a bit demented, but when dealing with a story of this caliber, I like my artist with a more realistic feel to their style. Needless to say that the action is top notch and it’s all over the place. I really love the way Broccoli puts so much detail into their published books. With those beautiful semi-glossy covers to the heavy white pages that flatters the gorgeous artwork. While the story is not unique it does keep me interested to keep reading the rest of the series. If anything to find out what happens to the bad-ass of the book Shen-Long. B

Free Collars Kingdom Volumes 1-3
Story & Art: Takuja Fujima
Translation & Adaptation: William Flanagan
Publisher: Del Rey

I had no idea what to expect when I was looking at the covers to this series. I really thought it was going to be about a boy and his robot/cat girl…umm Cat Girl Nuku Nuku. But, I wasn’t really close. Turns out that Cyan is a Abyssinian (if you didn’t know it was a kind of cat, don’t feel bad I didn’t either) kitty who is owned by Kokoro. Kokoro gets sick one day and for some reason his mother leaves Cyan in the basement of their old apartment building. It is there that he meets a group of stray cats that call themselves the Free Collars. It is with them that he learns that cats have to battle other groups for possession of territory. The building is called the Nyan Man, which is the legendary Wild Cat’s stomping ground. The Free Collars are made up of Char, Coon, Rat, Amesho, Scottie, and eventually Minky. Unfortunately the story is very formulatic and by volume 3 you can see what Cyan is going to do. Choose to go back with his old master when reunited or stay with his new found friends. However, the art is completely gorgeous. It reminds me of Kosuke Fujishima, one of my favorite artist and Fujima’s beautiful up there are almost a rival to Fujishima. I love all the extra features that Del Rey puts in all their manga. I had no idea that a cat said Nya instead of meow in Japanese. I always feel like I am learning something new with each Del Rey book I read. It was a very repetitive story with some gorgeous artwork, but that’s pretty much all I can say about it. C+

Project D.O. A. Volume 1
Story: Jeffrey Nodelman
Art: Wagner Fukuhara
Cover Art: Christopher Schons
Publisher: Tokyopop

When looking at the cover of this title, I could have sworn it was Pat Lee. I’m so glad I was wrong. The Dylan Oliver Adventures are about a scientist by the name….drum roll….Dylan Oliver. During one of his crazy inventions/experiments his assistant Lilly gets killed. The premise of the book lies on trying to bring her back to life. With the help of his three assistants he embarks on a quest that will take him all over the world to obtain the ingredients (I use the term lightly) to bring the dead back. I was really hooked with the story from the beginning. From the accidental death of Lilly to the experimental rat destroying the cat, I just couldn’t put the book down. I can’t say much for the art, but it does get the point across. It really borrows so much from manga and a little bit of Mike Wieringo’s facial expressions. I think this is the first time that for a manga, the art would have benefited from a colorist. But, like I said it does get the point of the story across and it’s easy to follow. Count me in for volume 2, I want to see me some mermaids! B

Rurouni Kenshin Volume 28
Story & Art: Nobuhiro Watsuki
Adaptation: Pancha Diaz
Publisher: Viz

This is it! The final volume of Kenshin! Will Enishi avenge his dead sister? Will Kenshin be forced to go back to his old ways and kill Enishi? This is where everything is wrapped up. After watching the depressing ending of Samurai X, I was expecting to have a box of tissues by the time this book was over. This was not so. This was a great way to conclude such a long running series. Everything is wrapped up and it ends in such a beautiful, peaceful, and happy way. Where most writers fall apart towards the end of a long series, Watsuki just shines with stories of hope and never giving up. The finale showed the main characters moving on with their lives and they even have a bit of a reunion of sorts. His art style is amazing. It reminds me if the 90’s American comic artist got together and developed one solid style and drew about feudal Japan. It’s a perfect mix of cross hatching and simplicity all bundled up into one dramatic stroke of the pencil. I am sometimes left in awe by the art. About 50 pages of the book is left for a short story called Meteor Strike and a preview of Watsuki’s new series: Buso Renkin. I hope that one day Viz releases the side story featuring an adult Yahiko. A

Sword of the Dark Ones Volume 1
Story & Art: Kotobuki Tsukasa
Original Story: Yasui Kentaro
Publisher: CMX

I love love this cover. It really says so much about the main character with his emotionless expression and his gigantic sword. In the land of Barnard monsters known as Dark Ones roam the land and love nothing more than devouring on human flesh. The townsfolk build giant walls to keep the monsters out, but this doesn’t help them at all. To protect the people in terror several guilds have surfaced. Mercenaries and Assassins make up these guilds and are hired by the people. Leroy Schawrtzer aka Black Lightning is one of these Mercenaries. He is a S ranked mercenary, which is the highest ranking you can get. Along with his sentient sword, Ragnarok he goes from village to village helping people for money and I’m sure he has his own hidden agenda. He is hired by an old friend to find her sister in a bordello that is run by a Dark One. We come to find out that blood of the Dark Ones run in his veins too. I really can’t help but compare this to Vampire Hunter D. Although, Leon has more character interaction with his sword than D does with his talking hand. The story is simple and straight forward, but for some reason I found it very addictive. While I do love the artwork and character designs, I have to say that Kotobuki’s sequential art during action scenes leave me a little wanting. The panels are sometimes confusing when he leaves out certain elements that would help his art construe the story. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the next volume though. B-

Tekkonkinkreet: Black & White All in One Volume
Story & Art: Taiyo Matsumoto
Translation: Lillian Olsen
Publisher: Viz

There was a magazine back in the mid to late 90s that Viz released called Pulp. Pulp contained manga stories that were focused on adult themes. So yeah, the reason why I got the magazine was to see the every now and then nipple they would slip in. There was one story in the magazine that I just got hooked on though. Black & White, the art style was so raw and so different than any other manga I had seen, I would compare it to the first time I saw Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns, or Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. This collects all three volumes of the manga along with an interview with the director of the movie Michael Arias and additional sketches in the back. We even get the color pages that were published in the original Japanese release, the only bad thing that this collection got wrong was the flipped the comic using the mirror technique so it reads like your standard American comic book. The story while simple has a deeper meaning each time I return to this world. Black & White are orphans that live in the streets of Treasure Town. They spend their time beating up on the mafia, crooks, and rival gangs that try to take their city. It is the art that really carries the story though, with its surreal take on a big city. We have moons with faces on them that change their mood according to the characters. Depending on the situations sometimes the characters themselves are portrayed by cats, rats, or birds. It is truly an amazing book and please don’t overlook it because of the art. That is what makes the book so unique! A-

Comments Off on Monday Manga Reviews: Yeah, we know it’s Tuesday, but we got more reviews!