Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Gravity Rush 2: Juuryoku-teki Memai Tsuisoutan Review


It’s time to look at a really quick manga that adapts part of the Gravity Rush 2 manga. It seems to be about 2 volumes long based on the chapter count. I remember playing Gravity Rush a long time ago so it’s pretty nostalgic to see the characters back in action. Interestingly the series doesn’t cover all of game 2 when I thought it would have. Usually you don’t do that if you’re a one shot or one volume, but 2? I suppose either this series was cancelled or the author just wanted to go in depth on what could be adapted. Either way it’s a fun series although you won’t remember it much after a little while.

Sometime after the events of the first film Kat and Raven get attacked by some monsters. While the monsters don’t prove to be much of a problem they fall into a black hole along with Syd and the three of them get transported to a new world. Kat loses her gravity abilities and Raven goes missing. Kat must now find her friends and prove that her powers aren’t imaginary. In the meanwhile she will have to get along with the civilians of this world and the harsh working conditions that they all have to endure. It certainly won’t be easy but it’s something that she is ready and willing to do. Meanwhile we have some mysterious new villains on the rise who are aiming to sabotage Kat and possibly take over the world.

We don’t really learn what the villains’ plans are in this series. They don’t get time to have any concrete goals and just show up for a quick fight or two. I like their designs though as the main ones seem to be robotic in nature. It’s also good to have some actual enemies for Kat and Raven to fight beyond the little monsters that they always beat up anyway. I’m guessing most of the confrontations with them are probably in the second half of the game which is why we didn’t see them. The bulk of the villain group don’t even appear until the final chapter which is only around 10 pages or so. The cliffhanger ending does help build up a lot of hype for the sequel game though. You really think about checking it out someday.

When Raven shows up again in the series she quickly goes back to being the best character. She’s a fun rival to have around and is the Shadow to Kat’s Sonic. Her abilities may not seem to be quite on par with Kat’s but she does her best against the opponents. We get one nice team up fight with the duo. Admittedly they are fighting a robot who can barely fight back, but I’ll take that over nothing. At least it’s still an action scene to have some fun with. Kat is also a pretty solid character. She’s always optimistic and does her best to help out the town. Once she got her powers back I would have liked to see her stand up to the miners a little more. Surprisingly she doesn’t really do much to resist the villains and just uses her powers to mine more efficiently. I get the feeling that by the end of the game she probably does more about it because it would just strike me as a little odd that she is just going to wait around and watch the whole time.

Meanwhile Syd is a little annoying here. He acts really shady during the game but I don’t think he’s evil. He seems to have some kind of plan that he doesn’t want to share just yet and ends up being more of an obstacle than a help. In general I’ve never been the biggest Syd fan but at least in the first game he would actively help out. Perhaps he would end up doing more as the series progressed though. I suppose there is no rule that you have to help out right away.

The artwork is pretty enjoyable. It can get a little chaotic at times with a lot of things happening all at once, but the calmer pages allow the artist to show off a bit more. Kat and Raven’s designs are very intricate so I imagine that they aren’t the easiest to draw. When you take all of that into account then the series really did an admirable job here. The writing is good as well. The series ends up being pretty vague and distant, but that’s probably hard to avoid given that it is adapting part of a story. You aren’t really given time to care about any of the characters Kat meets in town so the title is at its best when we are getting fight scenes. I do think the writing being better could have let it take off anyway, but as it stands this is still a pretty enjoyable experience.

Overall, Gravity Rush 2 seems like it would be a good game and the manga works as a good intro for if you end up playing the game. I suppose you don’t really need it if you are going to play the game right away though because then you would just be doing some of the same events twice in a row which may get old. I’d like to have an ongoing Gravity Rush manga since that would really allow us to explore the universe more. There’s only so much you can do in a mini series like this one. Nothing really gets accomplished so you have to enjoy the ride. I don’t believe this would have a lot of replay value as a result. There’s nothing negative about the series so it keeps a solid score at the ready, but it’s unlikely you would ever need to read this with how many others there are to check out.

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Death Note One Shot Review


It’s been quite a long time since the original Death Note came out. Who’d have thought that it would ever end up getting a one shot sequel like this right? Light was one of the most ambitious main characters of all time and definitely a pretty awesome one. His descent from being a guy with good ambitions and ideals to a total mass murderer by the end was interesting. He was the kind of villain who had a fairly reasonable goal which made him fun to watch. Ultimately he could not win though. Can Minoru have better luck?

The one shot takes place many years after Light used the Death Note but was stopped by L. The Death Note is thought of as more of a hoax than anything nowadays. Ryuk has grown bored since without a human to play with he has no source of apples. He decides to bring the Death Note back into the real world and meets up with a man named Minoru. Minoru agrees to accept the Death Note, but he really doesn’t want to murder anyone. Instead he decides that he’ll sell the book and get rich that way. The book will go for an astronomically high amount of money so of course you can’t just tell it down the block. How can Minoru sell the book without being tracked by the cops or L? That’s the main plot of the story and the problem that he has to try and work around which makes for a pretty interesting adventure.

Right away one thing I liked about this series is the modern setting. A lot of good stories from back in the day would be fun to have re-done in the modern times because of how tech changes the equation. Minoru even mentions how most of Light’s plans wouldn’t work nowadays because of the increase in technology although he also concedes that Light would have simply come up with a different plan. It’s cool to get this epilogue to the original series as well. I certainly miss the original L as Near isn’t nearly as solid but it’s still nostalgic to see him. Near fans might not be happy at the fact that he is getting completely dominated for the entire chapter. There is never a page where he has the upper hand on Minoru and I will admit that I was a bit surprised at this. I expected him to do way better.

As for Minoru, I definitely liked him as a lead. He did a good job of not letting the power corrupt him. In the end his decision to part ways with the Death Note may not have been completely selfless, but he did a good job of spreading the wealth and ultimately allowing almost everyone to win. His ending really isn’t fair in a sense since he planned things out perfectly. There was absolutely no way for him to avoid the fate that he ended up receiving so I really can’t take anything away from him there. His bond with Ryuk may not have been as strong as Light’s due to the fact that Minoru seemed to think of him purely as a business partner, but I think they would have gotten along much better had they gotten to team up for longer.

Ryuk is fun as expected and we even get to see another Shinigami here which was nice. Death Note isn’t the kind of series where we are likely going to see all of the Shinigami since that would be for more of an action title, but the more we see the better. We also got to see other countries weigh in like the USA which was cool. The President also handled the situation pretty well here which involves a high stakes bluff. Sometimes all you can do is play the bluff and hope that it ends up working out.

The artwork is top tier as per usual. There is a lot of detail on every page and in general you can see the amount of effort that went into the story. The plot is well thought out and it could have been a good ongoing series if the author had wanted to do that. Hopefully this story is included as a bonus story in a manga he writes or something because it’d be sad if most people never end up hearing about this. It’s probably too short for an OVA, but maybe they could add some extra details. The Death Note franchise should continue in some capacity, there is still so much that they can do with the premise.

Overall, The story is only one chapter so there’s only so much that can be said about it. Still, I had no issues with the story at all. The characters were good and it had a nice blend of easter eggs and new plot developments to keep things interesting. The way that Minoru handled the sale was quite clever and while reading the story the first time you will wonder how he will be able to pull this off. I think the main morale here is not to be greedy. If you try to get too much at once then you will ultimately end up failing but if you settle for a bit then things will work out. Ironically the ending destroys that moral to an extent, but everyone else gets to have a good time so there’s that.

Overall 8/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Fairy Tail: City Hero Review


It’s time to take a look at a Fairy Tail parody that ended recently. Fairy Tail has always been a very tragic franchise because it has some of the best artwork and fights of all time but is heavily held back by the large amounts of fanservice contained in each volume. Would a light hearted parody have the same mistakes? Unfortunately yes. It never gets quite as serious or excessive as in the main series, but there is still enough here to keep this from being the quality series it could have been.

The general premise of the series is “What if Fairy Tail was a police squad instead of a guild?” That’s what the series runs with. Natsu and friends keep the peace in the land and do their best to stop any villains that get the idea of taking over the world. It’s not an easy job but someone’s got to do it. Keep in mind that this is still a parody though so it’s not taken seriously in the slightest. A bunch of villains and side characters from the original series show up and we get homages to other titles, but it’s all in good fun.

The chapters are all pretty episodic with every 2-3 being about a different case. Occasionally you get the hintings of a grander story with Zeref making a move, but that’s fairly rare. The stories certainly do vary in quality with some being very good and others being sub par at best. I’ll take a look at some of the stories although naturally we won’t dive into every one as that would be quite a lot. Before doing that though lets look at some of the technical aspects of the manga.

The artwork is top tier as you’d expect. The character designs are on point and when we do get a fight scene it looks incredibly impressive. You can tell that the artist isn’t phoning this in. There’s a lot of effort here and it’s appreciated since art does play a big role in how good a manga is. It isn’t the critical factor, but every bit helps. The writing is okay, some of the jokes land and others do not. On the whole the tone of the manga is quite good so I’d give that credit over to the writing department. This is a series that is fun to read and you can almost overlook the fanservice as a result. Almost is the key word here.

As always fanservice is the big problem in the series. While it is played for laughs it happens often enough where you are still forced to take note. Characters are teased by others or they get put in dicey situations due to the circumstances of the case. Sometimes the heroes are even used as bait which is always a dicey tactic. It’s never taken too extremely, but merely being present is an issue in itself. The series is pretty consistent with fanservice being in just about every single chapter in the first part and then it surprisingly gets better about that near the middle. Too little too late though so I’m afraid that I have to dock points for this.

All right, lets look at some stories. Ironically enough we’ll start with the final one which was one of the better ones. Basically Zeref is launching his big attack on the Fairy Tail guild, but is this really what’s happening? Some dancing and partying goes on so the heroes think that perhaps they were wrong to doubt Zeref. We get a quick fight with him and Natsu which was certainly cool. The manga has brief flashes where it pretends to be serious and these moments actually do work quite well. The series even ends with the slight cliffhanger where it seems like Zeref still has his real plan at the ready. In this universe I believe Fairy Tail will likely lose.

One story that was good was the parody of Phantom Thief Kaidou. Part of why it is so solid is because it’s a multi chapter story so there’s time for the plot to get going and there was surprisingly no fanservice here. Essentially a mysterious thief is going around stealing artifacts so Fairy Tail is called in to help. Erza in particular has an interest in this thief because he looks a whole lot like her bartender friend. The series makes it pretty obvious from the get go that it’s the same guy, but Erza can be a bit oblivious at times so the plot still works. It was a pretty fun story.

One of the weaker stories is about Lucy and Wendy infiltrating a school to find out what shady business is going on. They’re actually magical girls who defeat their enemies with songs which is likely another reference in itself. What holds this back is that the villain’s pretty iffy and the principal is terrible. The characters are a little too extreme here and the comedy doesn’t hold up. I don’t believe Lucy and Wendy can hold their own story nearly as well as when Natsu and the gang are around.

A good set of stories was Laxus meeting a princess who was undercover. It’s a classic story where he helps her look around the town and she gets to have a day as a normal person away from her royal duties. It’s a pretty wholesome story and the plot usually works pretty well. Laxus getting knocked out by some random muggers was a bit forced for the drama, but fortunately he did manage to get up after that. The story stayed classy and even had a pretty nice ending. It’s easily one of the stronger stories in the set.

There was a one shot story where Rogue and Sting got to appear and they certainly looked really good. They were fun rivals in the main series so it was nice to see them appear a bit here. It’s not very long of course since you can only do so much in a single chapter, but it was a good story all the same. Sometimes you don’t need multiple chapters to really get a fun bit across. Especially in a comedy/parody title like this. You’ve got other one shots with fun plots like the murder mystery of who destroyed Cana, but naturally that one couldn’t help itself and included some fanservice so it’s not quite as solid.

Another good one shot was with Acnologia showing up in the real world and wanting to see if anyone could keep up with him. This leads to him sharing a bowl of ramen with Natsu which was pretty cool. Natsu really shows him up and even has a great closing line about how he doesn’t want to be king before leaving which causes Acnologia to disappear. I suppose that just wasn’t what he was hoping to hear, but at least he got to pass away in peace.

As you can see the series is very entertaining. These could have easily just been side stories included in the main Fairy Tail series, but I’m glad it got its own series. I’ve always believed that it’s good to have as many spinoffs as possible. I don’t think it waters down the series, but if anything enhances it. Give everyone a spinoff, it gives the characters extra development if you ask me and I can’t turn that down. In this series we get to see how the characters would act in a police setting. If anything it’s a good excuse to see all of your favorite characters just hanging out and having fun in a non lethal environment.


Overall, Fairy Tail: City Hero is definitely a unique title. I appreciate the fact that Fairy Tail has expanded into such a wide franchise over the years. It’s really done its best to compete with the other mainstream titles like DBZ, Naruto, and One Piece. I don’t believe it’ll ever quite eclipse any of those titles, but at least it’s still going thanks to the sequel series and may end up running for as long as those 3. If you’re going to read a Fairy Tail series then it’s better to read this one over the main title. That being said I’d recommend reading Ice Trails instead. It’s a spinoff about the best character, Gray, and it just works really well. It’s a story that you just don’t want to miss out on.

Overall 4/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Fruits Basket: Another Review


It’s time to look at a recent Fruits Basket spin-off that ended without  a whole lot fanfare. I dare say that a lot of fans of the main series wouldn’t have really heard about this unless they’re were looking for it. It was all very low key which matches the tone of the series as it is a very down to Earth slice of life story. There aren’t any big plots here or a large cast of characters to deal with. It’s a nice enough title but one where not much really seems to happen.

The series follows a girl named Sawa who has a pretty tough home situation. Her mother is always sabotaging her relationships with friends and uses a lot of passive aggressive behavior to keep Sawa from going outside or doing much of anything outside of school. Saw a now believes that she is a bother to everyone. Right now she feels completely trapped but that all begins to change when she bumps into two of the most popular kids in school. They help get her out of trouble and even get her to join the student council. Sawa finally has some friends and activities to do outside of the house for the first time. Can she manage to keep these new friends or will the Mom defeat them as she did all the others?

This is one of those sequels that really has nothing to do with the original title. Outside of the fact that it’s in the same universe and you get a cameo here and there, there is nothing really connecting the two. This could easily have just been a one shot if the author had wished it to be. These kinds of sequels are interesting in the sense that I have mixed feelings on them. On one hand, I like the boldness of not relying on the old characters. Particularly in a slice of life series like this it makes sense to expand the universe with more characters to add some more depth to the place. I also like when it’s a standalone sequel because then I can compare it to the original. Look at Yugioh, that’s the mindset behind that franchise. At the same time, as fun as those sequels are I’ll always still vote for a sequel with a lot of the old characters as the most fun way to do it.

Sawa is definitely not as tough a main character as Tohru which is surprising to say the least since the old heroine wasn’t exactly known for her toughness. Sawa spends most of the series getting pushed around and constantly apologizing. A good portion of this is due to how she was raised. Sawa believes that she is always bringing bad luck to people and that she gets in everyone’s way. Since this is what she has always believed it is difficult to get her out of this mind set. Still, her new friends have made it their mission to do so. By the end of the series Sawa has definitely improved to an extent although she is not quite there yet.

I don’t believe the series was cancelled although the ending makes you feel like it was. The title only has 3 volumes and it just suddenly ends. Most if not all of the plotlines were still going and Sawa’s character arc hadn’t even ended yet. It’s definitely a pretty bold ending but one that you can appreciate. I suppose the author was trying to go for a more realistic angle than the usual everyone turning good at the end kind of thing. By the end Sawa’s Mom still seems like she will be an antagonist and that’s just how things will be for a while.

The best character in the series is definitely Sora. She’s one of the more outgoing members of the Sohma family and is quick to get Sawa’s spirits back up. Sora is very charismatic and can always turn a situation around. She doesn’t see to have any fears or be reluctant to meet new people unlike most of her colleagues. Whenever Sawa was down she always knew that Sora could be counted on and that’s always important. On the other end of the spectrum you’ve got Riku who isn’t particularly great at dealing with people. He can give good advice at times, but it’s rather blunt and so you can only make use of the knowledge if you have a strong character. Otherwise you just wouldn’t have the nerve to pull his plans off. I wasn’t a big fan of his. He’s pretty similar to one of the original Sohma members from the first series and I wasn’t a big fan of that guy either.

Shiki gets a pretty big role in the series. He is the new head of the Sohmas after all or at least in the process of fully going into the role. He’s younger than most of the other members and is fairly emotionless most of the time. He seems like a reasonable kid who does his best to fit in. Unfortunately Shiki does get roped into a romance plot with Sawa towards the end though. I think the series could have gone pretty well without such a pairing. The romance comes in rather late and as the series is only 3 volumes there is absolutely nowhere for this plot to go. Keeping them as friends would have still made for a good dynamic with Sawa still worrying that she caused him too much grief and Shiki trying to get her to realize that he’s over it. He’s definitely not the kind of character who would hold what Sawa’s mother did against her. They are different people after all.

Time to take a look at Mutsuki. He’s one of the main guys in the series and gets a rather large role. He surprisingly has more similarities with Kyo than Yuki at times. While he has Yuki’s positive reputation and is a genius he tends to play the villain like Kyo to get Sawa to realize things. Mutsuki is always one step ahead of the other characters with only Hajime being able to realize his end games half the time. Mutsuki is a solid character. There isn’t a whole lot to him despite the guy always appearing throughout the series, but there isn’t really anything bad about him either. The guy does a good job in his position at school and always tries to seer everyone the right way. Hajime is a little more oblivious as he tends to just lie down in random places which causes people to step on him. He doesn’t really take things like that too personally though and just likes to live freely. He watches out for Mutsuki making sure that the other guy doesn’t take too many things on. For the most part he is fine being a spectator though and just watches over everyone.

We’ve got a pretty solid cast here. The series is more of a slice of life than anything else so there aren’t a bunch of villains or anything like that. The only antagonist here would be the Mom. I do think her confrontations with Sawa can be a bit odd at times though. Half of the time she’s being so passive aggressive that it’s almost hard to read the actual threats. Sawa also never even tries to talk back or explain the situation from her point of view. We can infer that she used to try and since it never worked she gave up but I feel like Sawa needed to be more active. All of their confrontations boil down to her Mom saying a bunch of stuff which Sawa just accepts and then she leaves. It’s never an actual conversation. Sawa also gets surprised when she sees the Mom going through her stuff at one point, but I feel like that’s something she would have already known was going on. She didn’t know the truth about her old friends though so she may have just been a bit oblivious on these things.

The only ones who could really stand up to the Mom were the Sohmas. We find out that she sued them at one point, but they didn’t fold which is good. Having the Sohma family lose to her would have been a pretty odd decision since the whole point of the family is that they’re all rich and don’t bend over so easily. They’ve got a ton of influence even if they no longer have evil members at the ready.

Overall, Fruits Basket Another is a pretty reasonable sequel to the original series. I didn’t like the original when I first read it, but that was a long time ago so I need to give it a second look someday. I did enjoy the recent anime adaption of it after all. Another definitely isn’t as high stakes as the first series and has to condense everything into 3 volumes, but the writing is pretty solid. Aside from the Sawa vs Mom scenes which still didn’t feel real to me and the rushed romance I had no real qualms with the title. The school was a lot more realistic than some with no crazy bullies around every corner. The Sohma family looked pretty solid and it’s just nice to see the franchise back even if the old characters didn’t really show up this time. If you want to read a fun slice of life story about a girl escaping her toxic home and finally making friends then this is the one for you. It’s a pretty upbeat story.

Overall 6/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Attack on Titan: Before The Fall Review


It’s time to look at one of the Attack on Titan spinoffs. The manga really lasted for an incredibly long amount of time considering how short the novels were. Even then the first novel is skipped for the most part as we cut right to the Kuklo stuff although the manga eventually adapts the older material. It’s a little better than the main series, but significantly less engaging which may sound like a contradiction. Put it this way, the main title is a lot more interesting and will keep you at the edge of your seat. It has more hype scenes and a better cast of characters, but the guys in Before the Fall are less morally bankrupt. The series is also shorter so there are less opportunities to mess up, but at the end of the day I wouldn’t give this series a particularly high score.

So Kuklo is a kid who grew up in a tough situation because he is known as the Titan’s son. This isn’t actually true, but people say that because his mother was eaten by a titan but he survived since he wasn’t totally born yet. As a result he grew up in a cage where Xavi would beat him up daily for many years. Eventually Kuklo was able to escape and thanks to Sharle was able to learn what it means to be human. He has now dedicated his life to ending the Titans. He wants to shed his title as the Titan’s son and this will be one of the best ways to do it.

As this title takes place in the past the goal of beating a Titan is significantly more outlandish than it would be otherwise in the eyes of the masses. It’s almost scary how back in these days beating one titan was crazy while in the main title you have guys like Levi taking them down by the dozens. It shows how equipment and technology has improved so much since those days. I suppose one of the interesting parts of the manga is seeing the heroes develop the 3D gear that would later be used to strike down all of the Titans. It is definitely a really handy piece of technology that is a must have.

Part of what hurts the manga is the whole plot with Kuklo. Attack on Titan has always been a series that thrives on being gritty and grim throughout. Even for this title it was rather dark though as it’s basically a kid being tortured every day. It also makes Xavi too far gone for him to ever be sympathetic. The series tries to make him a bit of a redeemed character by the end, but it’s a hard pill to swallow. As it is, maybe you could have tried to pull this off if this was the only thing he did. The guy was a kid so he didn’t know any better or something like that. Well, even in the present he tries to murder Kuklo repeatedly. Even when they’re in the middle of a mission to end the Titans which has huge stakes for the whole world his only priority is to murder Kuklo. Xavi really has a one track mind. It’s a shame because otherwise he is probably the most engaging character in the series. Why couldn’t he have at least had an honor code or been more of a reasonable character? That’s all I wanted to know.

Meanwhile Kuklo is a good character. He can be a bit naive, but you have to give him credit for not holding a grudge with Xavi. That can’t have been easy, but Kuklo consistently proves to be the bigger man and doesn’t let these things bring him down. While he isn’t as intelligent as Eren, Kuklo also has some pretty good ideas and plans that come in handy. He’s resourceful and knows how to survive even in Titan infested areas. His super senses come in handy for that and physically he seems a little stronger than the average human. Maybe there is something to the whole titan child thing in that the fluids at least gave him abilities or something. Either way he works as a solid lead.

His best friend is Cardina and that guy has a big role for the majority of the series as well. While he isn’t quite heading to the front lines as much as Kuklo, his expertise with the machinery comes in handy. He has a wealthy upbringing, but that ultimately just got him into trouble which is how he ended up heading outside with Kuklo. Cardina was a good ally and it was nice for Kuklo to have someone else who could help give him support since Sharle wasn’t always around to help with that.

Sharle is a pretty solid heroine meanwhile. The manga gives her a lot more screen time in which she is able to contribute. It works out well as she gets Angel out of his shell and back into action from retirement. She learns a lot about the inner workings of the 3D gear and also stands up to Xavi in defense of Kuklo. A lot of the time she is kept in the dark on what’s going on, but is always looking for Kuklo and doing her best to help out. Sharle tries really hard to always be ready for action so I definitely have to give her some good credit there.

Then we have Gloria whose character arc is definitely a bit more tragic than some of the other characters. I think she should have played the ending a little better. She falls for the whole posturing trap where she talks a really good game throughout but still puts herself in some bad situations. I think she underestimated just how corrupt the city is, but at least had some contingency plans so she was able to take a lot of people down as well. It would have been nice if she could have kept on appearing. Then you have Jorge who is effectively the Erwin of this era. He’s a good planner and a solid general. He tends to make the right decisions throughout, but doesn’t really leave much of a mark on the series. You really just know him for being a good general and that’s about it.

As I mentioned Angel doesn’t get as big a role in the manga as in the light novel and it ends up hurting him. Most of the time when we see Angel he has already fallen into depression from retirement and has no more hope that the humans can win. It doesn’t really paint him in a god light as by the time Sharle has gotten him to think otherwise we are basically done with the series. I liked him in the original novel and he still looks good in the flashbacks, but I think having his worst scenes first ends up hurting the experience.

Finally we’ve got the Ogre who is responsible for Kuklo’s mother perishing at the start of the series. As a result there is a vendetta between the two of them. Ogre seems to be more intelligent than the average titan and is fairly powerful. He’s not an easy target and made for a pretty good end arc boss. A normal Titan just wouldn’t have been nearly as thrilling to fight. I suppose we couldn’t have a talking titan since that would have been too soon, but I admit that it would have made Before the Fall’s climax a little more exciting.

One of the themes in the main AOT series is whether the humans are the real monsters or not. This series doesn’t go quite so far, but the humans do look pretty terrible most of the time. Even when Titans are outside the gates they’re busy murdering each other for political position and power. The Titans wouldn’t be doing nearly as good without the humans constantly destroying each other and constantly getting in the way. Even by the end we find out there is a traitor in the Survey corps and this person came awfully close to murdering a member. I feel like the person got off rather easy although it could have been worse. There still was a punishment at least which is good, but every time you see a traitor like this you can’t help but shake your head.

The humans will never beat the Titans if they’re constantly fighting like this. You’ve got characters getting jealous of each other and all that. I’m fine with the fact that the survey members didn’t appear much here because whenever we see them most of the members are pretty bad. It was good character development to have Kuklo and Cardina become squad leaders though. They really did grow a lot as the series progressed and that’s one aspect where the longer run time ended up helping them out. By the end it’s hard to imagine that Kuklo was ever not the strategic captain that people look up to.

In regard to the art, I’d say that Before the Fall is pretty good. There’s a solid amount of detail here and the characters don’t look too similar or anything like that. The titans have the creepy designs you would expect. The human vs human fights are really where the title excels with a lot of good speed lines and dynamic angels. The series can get pretty violent as you would expect though. It’s got the usual Titans munching on poor humans who really don’t stand any kind of chance. People aren’t begging for their lives as much as in the original title but the Titan scenes still end up being some of the weaker parts of the manga. Give me the Kuklo vs Xavi fights anytime.

Overall, Before The Fall does a good job of maintaining the tone of the original series. That being said, the main series is one of the weaker manga that I have read so it didn’t bode well for this one. The character cast isn’t all that strong and it falls into most of the usual Titan negatives like excessive violence and everything being too grim the whole time. It’s hard to root for the humans when half of them are evil and when their whole mission seems futile. They are having a hard time dealing with 1 titan and there are hundreds of them beyond the borders. It just feels like the humans would never get past this and since we know this takes place way before the main series where things are pretty much the same…it all feels a little futile. You can’t help but think that nothing these guys does will matter in the end. It has no real effect on the main series. It’s a complaint you can have with any prequel, but most of them do a good job of at least making you feel like the characters are making a difference.

Overall 3/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Dr. Stone reboot: Byakuya Review


It’s definitely cool to see that Dr. Stone already got a spin-off. At only 9 chapters it is a pretty quick one but that’s fine. I think it would have been hard to stretch the premise out too long or it may have felt a little redundant. Either you have the original astronauts doing a lot of the same things Senku and pals have done or you stay up in space with not a lot to do. This spinoff is definitely pretty emotional though thanks to the addition of a new character.

The series starts by introducing us to Byakuya and his crew as they watch Earth get enveloped in stone. Byakuya figures they need to dash back to Earth. His crew is a little skeptical about this choice but eventually agree to do it. As they head out, Byakuya is forced to leave the A.I. Program behind to guard the ship. The robot says it will wait for the humans to return no matter how long it takes. Will it really be able to stay operational over the next 3000 years?

The first few chapters play out pretty similar to how Byakuya’s story was in the main series. It expands on some areas while cutting out most of the scenes we already saw. The spinoff was timed pretty well since the end of the series ties in really well with the current events in the main title. Somehow I don’t think Rei would show up until the final chapter of the series because she would probably break the immersion for many and would be a little too handy. In general this series is a little less realistic than the main one but it does show you just how advanced the Dr. Stone series could have been if not for the stone wave. If anything I think it shows that it is far more advanced than our Earth.

Byakuya is always a fun character so it was nice to see more of him. He’s quite different from Senku but still has that same determination and drive to succeed. Lillian’s a solid heroine as well and the two of them are the best members of the prequel cast. The rest of the characters are around but they don’t leave much of an impression this time. That’s because there really isn’t enough time for them. The rest of the series is about the A.I. Rei after the humans have gone. She aims to keep the ship in good condition but as the centuries pass it gets to be a difficult task.

I have to admit that Rei’s plot isn’t quite as interesting and since it’s over half of the series that means this isn’t going to be a title with a lot of replay value. Her chapters are almost silent as she fiddles around with some tech and keeps putting upgrades in the ship and on herself. By the end of the series she has her own robot body which is cool. I do think it would be a waste to not have her ever appear again so I would like a cameo by the end of Dr. Stone. I think Byakuya should have been straight with her and told her to come to Earth. Given how resourceful she is I have a feeling that Rei would have been able to pull it off. If anyone could, it would definitely be this A.I.

The art is definitely pretty solid like the main series. All of the characters are pretty well detailed and the backgrounds are solid. It makes for easy reading. I blasted through the series all in one go so it did hold my attention. The writing is solid as always and I’m glad to see Stone getting a spinoff already. Some series take a long time to get any so that’s pretty impressive for sure.

I am still a little surprised that the series wasn’t about showing more of Byakuya’s adventures, but since this was always meant to be a miniseries perhaps the author wants to save that for a spinoff. Ultimately it’s not like Byakuya’s group would go too far since we know how their adventure concludes, but I imagine it could still be pretty enjoyable. Rei’s story is certainly out of the box, but if she appears again then it’ll all be worth it. If she doesn’t return then I admit that will be pretty unfortunate. There’s still so much they can do with her even if she will be overpowered.

The ending does occur at the expense of Senku’s character though. He doesn’t notice a signal from Rei that I feel like he would have figured out right away. He knows that the event isn’t a natural phenomenon and the guy is always super curious about anything like that. Ideally he’ll notice at some point, but I think the series should have ended without her giving that signal. It would have made Senku look a little better at least.

Overall, Reboot is an interesting prequel. You sort of get the idea that it’s going to be like Attack on Titan: Before The Fall where it doesn’t really matter, but hopefully that is not the case. I believe this title would retroactively get a little more interesting if it does end up having an impact on the main title. It would be a nice crossover of sorts. If not? Well, this is still a fun little mini series. I imagine it’ll eventually get bundled together as a one shot volume so if you see it in stores I’d recommend picking it up.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Ant-Man+ Review


Time for the next Marvel one shot with Jump. This time Scott Lang gets to take the center stage. I’m assuming this was probably for some cross promotion with the movie which makes sense. The story is longer than Deadpool’s and has more of a focused plot. I’d say that this story is actually a little stronger even if Ant Man doesn’t make for quite as solid a lead. Scott does his best either way which is the important part.

In this story his daughter decides to visit Japan for a week. Scott thinks this is a little dangerous so he tags along, but quickly finds out that she is doing okay without him. Scott gets a little bummed out by all of this and starts reflecting on his old life of crime which has led him to hie current situation. His original fears are soon validated though as Cassie (the daughter) gets sick and lands in the hospital. While the doctors are confident they can cure her on their own Scott shrinks down to see what’s wrong for himself. It turns out that a super villain is inside of her and plans to mind control Cassie. Scott can’t have any of this so he gets ready to take action.

While Scott humiliates himself with the villain as he lets her appearance get the best of him, he mostly looks good in the other scenes. The guy may have low confidence and not be the strongest hero but at least he means well and is always doing his best to do the right thing. He did become a hero and stop committing crimes so that is certainly a start. His abilities are also pretty useful when you think about it. You get to shrink and you keep the normal strength of a full grown person. That’s perfect for sneak attacks and in this case saving his daughter from a tiny villain.

The villain had a quick sob story to try and justify her evil actions. It was definitely a tough situation for her, but I think she did jump to the whole kidnapping angle pretty quickly. There should be a few more things she can try, but all’s well that ends well I suppose. The art is pretty good here. Some of the big zoom ins on Ant Man and the other characters may not always work, but for the most part it’s definitely really good. The brief fight scene we get with the virus is also sharp and probably the best looking part of the story. I always do prefer detailed art like this when given the chance, but it also has a high risk of error. I think as an artist the simple designs are the safest but the payoff is just so good when you can really hammer out the details. I feel like you should also have more time with a one shot so that makes it more feasible to get the detailed artwork in.

Overall, Ant-Man+ is a solid one shot. At around 40 pages there is enough time here to develop the characters and even give you a quality fight scene. The writing is solid and I liked the portrayal of the Ants. They all did have their own personalities and weren’t afraid to stand their ground. The fire ant who walked back on over after Ant Man shooed him away definitely had guts. I think this story will serve as a good introduction to Ant-Man for the casual fans. It may not leave too much of a lasting impact unless they look him up right away but I do think these one shots are a good idea and I hope Marvel does more of them. Finally, keep a lookout for an Ultraman reference in this story.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Deadpool: Samurai Review


It’s time to take a look at a quick one shot that came out for Deadpool a while back. It’s always nice to see Marvel have some collaborations with Shonen Jump. It definitely breaks the wall quite a lot as you would expect from a Deadpool comic and definitely delivers on all the action you would expect. It’s pretty entertaining and at only one chapter you’ll be breezing through this story real quick.

It starts with a bunch of samurai gangsters attacking a girl. Fortunately they are interrupted as Deadpool shows up inside of a baby carriage. He decides to stop these guys and save the girl while hurling insults the whole time. The gangsters have never dealt with anyone quite like Deadpool so as you can imagine they are definitely not too well equipped to handle this guy. They’ll have to try using all the weapons at their disposal, but against a guy who is basically immortal all this will ultimately do is prolong the inevitable. The victor is never in doubt in this title.

The artwork is certainly pretty nice. The action scenes are on point and there is a lot of detail here. Whoever drew the comic definitely gave it their all and didn’t phone it in. I could easily see this getting some more chapters and doing well as an ongoing series. There’s just a lot you can do with Deadpool and the art would be able to keep up.

The actual story may not have a lot of stakes since it’s obvious that Deadpool will beat up on these humans, but for a one shot it’s not like you’re trying to build up any big plots anyway. It’s really just about introducing people to Deadpool and throwing in some one liners. There are a lot of third wall breaking moments as Deadpool keeps plugging in the comics. I’m definitely fine with skipping his origin story here since as he mentioned most people will likely know it anyway. Even if he was a brand new character, I feel like the origin story isn’t something that you worry about for the pilot. It would take too much time away from everyone else.

Most of the story is Deadpool just owning everyone and reminding the audience that he isn’t a total hero like the others. Ultimately he is protecting the girl but he is murdering everyone else so think of him like the Punisher. His goals align more with the average hero’s, but he doesn’t go all in on trying to save everyone the way that they do. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time and took advantage of that. The manga can get a little violent even with the parody nature so that’s something to keep in mind when you’re reading of course. Pretty much everyone gets bullets and stabs into them before the day is through.

Overall, It was a little surprising to see Deadpool as one of the first characters to get his own manga one shot, but I suppose he should have a lot of international value. I wonder if the movies did well in Japan. The final scene of the manga is definitely pretty fun and it’s something I would like to see more characters do. Since nobody in this world knows who Deadpool is he can really go crazy with trolling everyone. We get a quick guest star near the end which was fun. I think the artist could definitely do a good job with this character as well. If you haven’t read this story yet then you should check it out. It’s quite fast and a solid enough read on its own.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Attack on Titan: Lost Girls Review


It’s time to look at an Attack on Titan manga spinoff. I remember reading the light novel for this a while back so it’s interesting to revisit it in manga format. It seems to be a pretty faithful adaption, at the very least I couldn’t really see anything big that was removed or changed. Each of the girls gets one volume with Annie’s being a pretty big mystery while Mikasa remembers the good ole days. It’s a fun enough story that completely obliterates the actual manga and reminds me that the series is always at its best when there are no actual titans around. Yes, it’s pretty ironic, but it is what it is.

In Annie’s story she is preparing for her big showdown with the Survey corps. In a sense it’s her last day before her whole life is shaken upside down. She was planning on using the day to meditate and dwell on what’s going to happen, but then her roommate asks her for a favor. Well…”asking” may be putting it politely. In the novel it’s downright blackmail while here it’s basically the same thing even if maybe it’s more implied than stated. Since Annie needed someone to cover for her the next day when she was out on her master plan this girl wanted her to cover for her right now. See, this girl was put in charge of finding a lost girl, but decided not to bother with it. It’s been days, but someone’s got to take the mission on and at least give a fake speech to the person who gave out the request that they tried. Annie figures this will be a bother, but decides she may as well do it since it’ll give her something to do in the meantime. This mystery won’t be easy to solve though.

Keep in mind that everyone in Attack on Titan is pretty corrupt, especially the military police. As a result it’s hard for Annie to actually get any info through legitimate means so she has to go to bars and beat people up to get the answers. Everyone’s pretty suspect so you don’t feel bad for the various people she beats up. They all seem like criminals and would destroy her without a second thought. Annie is very capable so eventually she gets through the mystery and figures out what happens. It’s fun to see the series taking a stab at a mystery and it did a good job. It’s not easy to figure out the mystery so you may connect the dots along with Annie rather than jumping ahead.

I also liked that the guy who gave the mission seemed pretty intelligent. Usually these guys seem to be really slow on the uptake, but he did a full psycho analysis of Annie the moment she stepped into the room. That was certainly impressive. Then the actual missing girl also seemed pretty smart which was a nice dynamic. We’ve got enough drunk bar guys as it is so it’s a good change of pace to have some other characters who can think ahead. The only part of the story that may make you wonder a bit is the climax involving a titan shift. The shifts are incredibly loud and bright so I feel like there’s no way you can get away with doing that and not having people ask a lot of questions. It’s the only part that would make this seem to be non-canon as otherwise everything works pretty well. I suppose you could also explain this away by saying that Annie has enough control to lower the glow/intensity which isn’t really all that far fetched.

The other story for Mikasa isn’t quite as exciting. That’s likely because it’s a flashback story. We get to see how she and Eren first met up. Naturally this doesn’t cover the part with her parents getting bumped off since that was already covered in the show. Eren already seems a bit unstable and obsessive here which is an accurate depiction of him. He’s certainly one of the most ambitious shounen leads of all time with how his character arc goes so it’s always fun to see a bit of his early days as well. The issue is that there isn’t much to do. We see them hang out a lot, we get some foreshadowing with the human traffickers running around, and Eren gets beaten up for his political views. The story’s a little more mean spirited than the first one as it’s dark throughout. I don’t know if it’s meant to be dark, but you feel the tension throughout since you know that things aren’t going to end well.

The story also makes Mikasa’s parents look pretty bad since they definitely should have left the house after they knew people were lurking around. The mother was sick, but then tell Eren’s father or something. You need to have some kind of backup so you can escape because otherwise they were all doomed. They just really didn’t think ahead here. The scene of Eren getting beaten up by the adults is also pretty intense and not a fun scene. It’s literally full grown adults badly beating up a kid to the point where he was severely injured for a while. At this point we already get how the city is super corrupt, no need to beat it into us. (pun intended) Things don’t end well for them though since karma also tends to hit like a truck in this series. Characters who do bad stuff rarely get a happy ending, the cycle of violence tends to get everyone.

Finally there’s a 2-3 page story with both characters I guess so their stories could link up a bit. Mikasa basically takes issue with Annie’s ring blade since she feels like it could hurt Eren so there are a lot of veiled threats in the conversation. I’d definitely take Mikasa in a human fight between them, but in a no holds barred battle Annie would naturally win. Of course it would completely blow her plan so in a sense Mikasa could at least take a consolation victory there.

The artwork looks pretty good. It’s a little smoother than the main series art. I wouldn’t call it top level or anything, but it certainly holds its own pretty well and makes for a pretty easy read. The fight scenes have a lot of pop behind them with the art which is always a key fundamental to have. It really helps the whole manga rise up an extra notch as well. The writing is also pretty good which is definitely important no matter what kind of manga you are. This one does a good job with that.

Overall, Lost Girls is an interesting spinoff. Annie’s story definitely destroys Mikasa’s though. I don’t think we really need to learn too much more about her origins since the manga already covered that pretty well. It could have worked better if things worked out more for the heroes but with everything already being grim I don’t think this story really added to anything. Both stories are pretty self contained so you could probably enjoy them even without reading the main series. That being said, you’ll naturally get more out of it if you already know the characters. I’d recommend picking this one up, it’s a good enough story to add to the verse.

Overall 6/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Barakamon Review


It’s time to look at a slice of life manga that I started a super long time ago. I wrapped it up around 2 months back and it was definitely a solid ride. It’s the kind of manga that is fun to go through even if it’s not filled with big fight scenes. I haven’t read a whole lot of slice of life adventures, but this one does beat the other two I’ve read. (Baby & me, Yotsuba) I think the premise is a little stronger and the idea of spending your life in a small community like this doesn’t even sound all that bad. It’s not really my thing, but I at least get the appeal.

The manga starts off by introducing us to professional calligrapher Handa. He has a lot of talent, but also a bit of a temper which gets him into trouble. He punched a big judge/critic which forces the issue of banishing him to a little island. This is a bit of a dramatic way to phrase that, but it’s really what happens here. He must now reconnect with his inner self to find out why he really enjoys calligraphy. Once he has learned his lesson he is free to return but by then he may find that the friendships he has made on the island are more important to him.

While Handa’s first appearance shows him being a bit of a hot head, I’d never say that he’s all that rebellious. Even from the start of the series he is pretty patient with the townsfolk and does his best not to be impolite. As the series goes on you can see how he learns to settle down and relax more though. He has less outbursts and panic moments as he realizes that everyone here is just trying to look out for him. Handa’s a solid main character even if I would have preferred he try for more calligraphy titles.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with deciding not to go pro, but it would have made for some fun arcs. His short lived rivalry with some of the other pros was pretty fun and it was some of the best parts of the series. Barakamon was typically at its peak when Hiroshi was on his adventures of when Handa was trying to compete with everyone else. The competition added a little spice to the daily routines of the village. Handa still did prove himself as a talented artist either way though. Judging calligraphy seems like it would be really difficult though since the process seems to be quite subjective. I like it when things are purely objective so you know right away whether you’re right or wrong. I wouldn’t be able to handle competing in a sport where that was not the case.

Naru is the main kid in the village. There are quite a few others like Hina and the gang, but Naru is really the focus. She is the one who really helps Handa get used to life in the village and also is the one who picks up on Handa’s subtler emotions. If he’s feeling down she’ll try to throw him a party or something to get his spirits back up. I’m still not a big fan of the kids in these adventures because they tend to slow down the pacing and hold the main cast back, but in a slice of life adventure like this that isn’t really a main concern. Naru’s not bad. The best scenes don’t typically involve her, but she’s not as annoying as she could be.

Miwa is one of the older kids. She’s a bit more aggressive than the other characters and likes having fun doing all kinds of sports and other activities. From all of the kids she is certainly the best one. Miwa doesn’t really care about calligraphy and such even compared to the rest of the kids, but does it to have some fun and keep the others company. In a small village like this there really isn’t anything to do so all of the kids head to Handa’s place every day to waste some time. Usually she is hanging out with Tomako who isn’t quite as interesting. Tomako is an aspiring manga artist, but her titles are always too dark and violent which has been holding her back. Her artwork is pretty good, she just needs to work on getting better plots to support this. Once she has a good story she should be able to go pretty far.

Hiroshi is one of the only guys who is Handa’s age on the island so he gets a big role as well. His character arc has him wanting to go out into the world to see what it’s like. He believes he is a little too ordinary and so he wants to experience things to help him grow up. A lot of the running gags involving him are how everything he does seems to be uninspiring. No matter what he is never good or bad at anything, he’s always average. Hiroshi is a fun character and he was definitely one of my favorites in the series. I was sad to see him go when the guy moved away, but he did get a few meanwhile stories from time to time so at least it wasn’t as if he had completely left. He still got to show up from time to time.

Then you have Handa’s parents. His father is known as one of the best calligraphy users in the entire world so that always put a lot of pressure on Handa. Handa isn’t very good at communicating with his parents so this pressure began to crush him quite a lot. Eventually they show up and Handa begins to realize that he doesn’t have to be on the same level or compete in the same way. The parents were quite reasonable here and they looked good whenever they would show up. It may be tough for them to get on the same page, but they are all very professional about it which is a nice change of pace.

There are quite a few other side characters like the various villagers. They’ve all got different roles in the series and help to round out the cast. The village is small enough where everyone knows each other, but still large enough where you’ve got at least 15 characters running around. One of the more enjoyable ones is Handa’s rival who is always doing some sabotaging on the side. Handa doesn’t even notice when the guy is throwing around insults half of the time, but ultimately they still come to a bit of an understanding. I doubt they’ll ever be great friends of anything like that, but they get along well enough.

Barakamon’s humor is also pretty well done. The style of humor usually revolves around Handa being oblivious or something crazy happening and everyone having a very calm reaction to it. Usually the jokes centered around Handa are the best ones. You just have to admire his confidence to the point where the insults don’t even seem to register with him. It’s like he can’t even comprehend the concept of someone trying to take a shot at him so he dismisses the possibility.

The art for the series is very clear and relaxed. It is really suitable for the series too. Part of the theme in the series is learning to relax so having chaotic art would have definitely defeated the purpose. It’s always very easy to see what’s happening at all times and it also makes it easy to read through each volume. The volumes are bigger than the average one but with the big pictures/clear text they still feel like normal volumes. The writing throughout the series is on point which is especially important for a series like this. Since there is less happening than in other series you have to be fully invested in the characters and what’s going on. I’d say that the series succeeds with this. At the very least I wouldn’t say that the series ever got me bored.

I do think the series slowed down a bit once Handa started the school though. It felt like the series pretty much ended its main story by this point so the last volume or two were just stalling for time. That’s not really a bad thing per say, but the series made the right call in ending shortly afterwards. I’m sure we could have been introduced to some new plotlines or something, but part of the point of the series was seeing if Handa would go pro or help out the village. He made his decision and so that was the end of that.

It’s a fairly long manga, but not one that you need to talk about for too long due to the slice of life nature of the series. There are various arcs and such but the character cast never gets a whole lot bigger than how it starts out. It’s also pretty easy to understand the general premise and to go from there. This may not be the kind of title you want to marathon the whole way through, but it’s a pretty good change of pace title when you’re reading a bunch of other more action packed titles.

Overall, Barakamon is definitely a very fun manga. The characters are cool and the laid back vibe will really remind you of how people made it without technology back in the day. I personally prefer to be surrounded by tech at all times, but the country route isn’t so bad as long as you have good neighbors. If you haven’t checked this manga out yet and want to take a nice look at what it’s like to live outside the city then this is definitely a good one to check out. I don’t believe you will be disappointed.

Overall 7/10