Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Pokemon The Power of Us: Zeraora’s Story Review


Time to look at another Pokemon one shot manga. This one’s a lot more recent than the Giratina one I checked out last time. It’s also a lot thinner as this is basically a mini manga so it goes by in a flash. That being said, it’s actually considerably better and one of the best one shot Pokemon manga that I’ve read. Surprisingly it beats Giratina in every aspect. I also have to give this volume some kudos in the art. The simple style actually ended up working really well for the fights.

The volume starts off with Ash running into town and bumping into the mayor’s daughter. The two of them head over to the nearby lab and put on some VR goggles so they can learn about Zeraora’s origin. It seems like the Pokemon was born out of a thunder storm and then he decided to protect all the nearby Pokemon. Unfortunately poachers show up so Zeraora has to stay sharp and keep on fighting. It feels like people are always trying to fight this guy. You can see how the volume is pretty short though because the whole volume is basically the professor showing them the story and then they go home. Interestingly the manga ends with a preview which basically recaps the first few pages almost word for word but with a few changes.

Back to the volume though, Zeraora is a fun Pokemon. He clearly loves to fight as seen by his smirk after being attacked. I’m also glad to see him actually take a hit and keep on going. It’s always sad when a Legendary Pokemon gets wrecked by random poachers or gets caught in a cage. None of that was happening to Zeraora. He took down all challengers and I dare say that he had the upper hand against Lugia as well. That fight was the highlight of the volume, but admittedly it was Zeraora’s fault. Lugia just came in to get rid of the fire. Zeraora blamed him for not coming sooner, but that’s hardly Lugia’s fault. The Pokemon can’t be everywhere and at least he saved some people.

It would have not been good if Elekid had perished, but fortunately the manga didn’t go down that route. That would have gotten a bit dicey if you ask me. With Elekid safe then we could really enjoy the fight. This is where I have to go back and talk about the art. The fights are very smooth here. It actually seems like a similar style to Bleach where you feel the impact beyond every hit. The characters may look a bit chibi at times, but it’s worth it for the action scenes. It’s really going for the opposite of Pokemon Adventures. That series has a ton of detail and epic fights. It works really well, but the same can be said for the flip side where this one is really focusing on the hits. This doesn’t feel like a cash-in level of art, but that of a real title.

If there are any negatives here it’s just in how short the volume is. Hopefully the going price would be a little lower to compensate. So long as that is the case then there are really no negatives to be found here. The manga has a direct plot and goes about it with no delays or distractions. You don’t need to stretch out the volume just to pad out the pages. This one just gets right down to business and it’s also probably Lugia’s best showing. It may be a little sad that we don’t get to see Ash fight, but he got his match in the actual movie. This is really Zeraora’s time to impress us and he was quite impressive. I’d take him over quite a few Legendaries. He may not be as intimidating as some of them, but his speed and power are still forces to be reckoned with.

Overall, If this had been the plot of the actual movie then things would have been quite different. This would make for an excellent TV special so I hope it is animated in some way or form. If you watched the movie then this is a must read to really see more of Zeraora’s character. He may be a little too quick to jump into a fight and doesn’t have the cool head that you’d want your ally to have, but his heart’s in the right place. At least he’s actively protecting Pokemon from poachers since the Officer Jenny’s of the world don’t seem to be around when you need them. It’s still really something to see how many poachers exist in the Pokemon world. Throw in Team Rocket and all the other teams and the world is actually quite dangerous. Hopefully Ash and friends are ready for them, but with Pikachu at his side I suppose I don’t even need to wonder. I hope that whoever the artist of this was gets another chance at more Pokemon manga in the future.

Overall 8/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Pokemon: Giratina and the Sky Warrior Review


It’s time to look at a manga based on one of the older Pokemon films. It’s a little weird calling this one old since it feels so recent, but technically there have been a bunch that came out after this one. These manga adaptions are basically 1-1 so it’s not as if things have really changed all that much, but it’s still fun to re-live the adventure in a different format. It’s a solid story, but one where I did want a little more action.

Ash and friends were trying to have a normal day when a Pokemon known as Shaymin shows up. He’s currently being hunted by a guy called Zero as well as Giratina. Ash decides to help this guy find his family and escape the threat, but it won’t be easy. Shaymin allowed Dialga to escape Giratina and Zero wants him so that he can rule the reverse world. The whole concept of the Reverse world is actually pretty good and pretty ambitious for the series. Can Ash help make things right here?

First off you may wonder why Dialga would trap Giratina inside that world to begin with. Well, you can hardly blame him. From his point of view Giratina picked a fight and then tried to eliminate him. Dialga saw the guy as a threat and promptly locked him up. Dialga’s always been one of the cooler Pokemon and you have to admit that this was a real power move. It’s not like it’s easy to take down Giratina like that. To this day I’m still surprised that Palkia didn’t show up at all. He’s at least half responsible for all the stuff getting thrown into Giratina’s world. I suppose the dragon didn’t want to fight both at once which is understandable.

Zero is one of the better movie villains. The guy has a cool design and actually makes for a serious threat. His robots capturing Giratina is cool for him although it does hurt the Pokemon’s hype./ I also liked that he had a Magnezone since that Pokemon rarely gets to show his stuff. I suppose his personality isn’t all that deep, but he’s not comic relief which is already an important first step towards getting me to take him seriously. I really didn’t have any big qualms with him and should I ever make a list of all Pokemon movie villains, this guy would likely crack top 5.

As I mentioned Giratina did lose here so he lost some hype, but I like him otherwise. He’s a pretty reasonable guy and the fact that he was trying to manipulate Shaymin’s portals takes a lot of intellect. He’s likely one of the smarter Pokemon just with that feat. I didn’t like Shaymin quite as much. He’s your typical rebel Pokemon who talks tough but can’t really back it up. In his sky form at least he can fight a bit, but even then he’s not going to be winning very many fights. He’s an upgrade over Celebi and Jirachi, but isn’t at the level of the bigger Pokemon.

Surprisingly Ash and Pikachu get less to do here. They do more than Brock and Dawn of course, but Pikachu really doesn’t get to take anyone down. It doesn’t help that Magnezone is pretty resistant to electric attacks after all. Ash still tries his hardest and is pretty determined here though. That’s the kind of Ash I want to see and he feels like his older self here. I hope to see more of that in the new Go season coming up.

As far as the art goes, you can tell that this is a movie tie-in manga. It’s higher quality than some that I’ve read, but it’s not exactly going to be known as one of the best looking manga titles. That just was never in the cards for Giratina. Some close ups look really good like Ash gritting his teeth and his hair is drawn more spiky than usual like Megaman EXE’s. the action scenes are solid and you can always follow what’s happening so bravo on that.

I do have to question the existence of the Reverse world just a bit though. So apparently everything that happens in the real world mirrors over to this one so destruction and the like go there. With how often the real world is being attacked I feel like this should be a huge issue. Maybe it was specifically because Dialga and Palkia were messing with time and space, but I feel like the concept is a bit too grand and needs more of an explanation. I don’t blame Giratina for being upset, but it may be more reasonable to just move into the real world if the reverse one is always going to be getting wrecked in the meantime. Maybe Giratina can make a barrier of sorts.

Overall, This manga will definitely breeze by as you read through it. It’s a quality adventure and I have no issues with it. I’d recommend just watching the movie, but if that isn’t an option then this is a very good substitute. All adaptions have to try and fit in the important parts while cutting out the fluff and this one does a good job. You don’t really feel like anything is missing and it hits all the right beats as in the film. If anything it may feel more exciting at times since you get to add in your own music as you go through the adventure. I’ve got another Pokemon movie adaption coming up so I’ll be checking that one out pretty soon. This one’s less of an adaption and more of a tie-in though.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

QQ Sweeper Review


It’s time to take a look at a manga about cleaning. That’s definitely a first for me and it’s an interesting concept. I don’t think it’s something you can keep up for long, but the it’s up to the writing and characters to hold the story. Unfortunately the main cast here is fairly weak so they do have a very tough time holding this adventure. It’s only 3 volumes and I can see why it ended so quickly. It feels like it was cancelled with how rushed it is, but a sequel series started almost immediately so maybe it was always part of the plan. It’s not a bad series, but it’s definitely not the most exciting one out there.

The manga introduces us to a girl named Fumi. She has had a tough time of it because everyone has always told her that she is cursed. Fumi believes this as well because bad things seem to happen when she is around. As a result she tries to distance herself from people ansd does her best to ignore the bullying. One day she meets up with a sweeper named Kyutaro. He makes the school clean, but it turns out that he does more than that. He is able to clean the minds of others and destroys the parasites that plague the human world. Fumi is eager to help out and becomes a junior sweeper. Can she help make the world a better place and ultimately use her skills to clean her curse?

As always the classmates and school are all pretty mean here. THey’re very quick to turn on Fumi so I’m glad that Fumi has some friends here. There are two in particular who stick with her throughout the whole adventure even when the class turns against her. There is a bugmaster who is orchestrating this and manipulating the school, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that a lot of these classmates are gullible. You have 2-3 guys who talk against the bullies, but all they do is talk so it doesn’t help a whole lot. I’d like one of them to have been a little more pro-active.

Fumi is a good lead although I feel like she didn’t get a whole lot of character. We see her toughness with how she comes prepared for the bullying without breaking down or attacking everyone. She isn’t super uqick to forgive the bullies either which is realistic because then they’ll just walk all over you. At the end of the day she does want to be the best sweeper she can be and does pretty well in the role. She has some connection to the queen and other vague things, but those plots don’t get to wrap up here. I suppose that will be in the sequel. The manga also hints that she was someone else a while back before losing her memory. It’s likely all connected to this big plot.

Kyutaro doesn’t get along with people at all and that works out in his favor a few times as he helps get Fumi away from the bullies. He acts as if it’s because he needs to clean which drives them away and then he consoles her. He is haunted by the disappearance of another girl he knew a while back so he is determined to protect Fumi. One thing that holds Kyutaro back is how he mixes the two up and gets delirious at times. Obviously this is to lead up to a romance at some point, but it’s not nearly as well developed as it could be and so I don’t think it’s going to end up working very well here.

Koichi is the leader of the Sweepers and along with the lady who can transform into a bird they are the most experienced. Naturally they don’t tell Fumi and Kyutaro much until it’s too late which can always be a bit annoying for those characters. I didn’t really care for Koichi. He can be helpful at times, but not often and does have a tendency to snap at the other characters. The lady is fine, but I do hope that she can fight and isn’t relegated to purely being a guide.

Ataru is the main villain in the series but he’s definitely not one that you will remember for long. His goals are fairly vague aside from causing anarchy. I guess he just wants to mentally destroy Fumi and bring out the queen within her. Of course, the queen can do whatever she wants to this plan seems incredibly risky to the bug faction. Why put such a powerful piece into play when there’s a good chance that she won’t be on your side? He’s also one of those sketchy villains who loses sight of his goals just to go for power plays and humiliation tactics. There’s just nothing likable about this guy and he drags the main cast down further.

All of the themes in this manga have just been done better in other titles. The cleaning angle does at least change things up compared to other titles, but it’s ultimately not that important when you think about it. They clean the area to help make the infected feel better but mostly this is done through talking and the cleaning happens in the background. Take the cleaning angle away and the series really wouldn’t change all that much. I’m glad it’s there since it’s one of the better parts of the series though.

QQ Sweeper’s biggest problem is just that it’s a little boring. I’ve already talked at length about how the character cast isn’t all that good and it’s always hard to make a manga great without them. Especially since this isn’t an action series then the character interactions are very important. You need a good story and characters to proceed and this title has neither. I will grant you that the manga has some promise with some of the story directions they are going in. If the appearance of the queen turns this into more of an action series then the sequel will be hype. The series just has to show me this first and of course it would be helping the sequel, not this one.

The art isn’t bad, but it can be a little convoluted. It certainly isn’t as clear as a lot of other titles that I’ve read. You’ll be able to read it without any real issues, but that does mean it probably won’t be able to keep up with most titles there. It’s only 3 volumes so it’s not like the artist had a ton of time to improve during the series though. We’ll see if in the sequel the art looks clearer or not.

Overall, QQ Sweeper sets up some interesting ideas and the premise is good. The execution just isn’t quite there. You’re never really given a reason to root for the characters beyond being the leads because they just aren’t very interesting. The villain is a flop as well and so that doesn’t make for an amazing dynamic within the cast. There are a ton of plotlines still ongoing which also works well for the sequel, but when you think about it nothing really happened in these 3 volumes. We got to see Fumi help some people but none of the important questions have been answered as of yet. I’d also like to see the Sweepers actually take the fight to the bug users instead of thinking about them as myths. The latter means that the bug guys have been doing whatever they wanted for years now which doesn’t sound all that responsible on the part of the heroes. In the end the series isn’t bad, but it’s not really good either. Check it out if you think the premise sounds fun and then just wait for the sequel.

Overall 5/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Arisa Review


To think, I started this manga all the way back in 2011. It’s been 9 years and so I decided to re-start the series from scratch and marathoned the series all the way to the end. It’s definitely a very solid mystery thriller as I remembered from my earlier visits. It does sputter a bit during the end though. It was close to getting a solid 8 but I just had to take away a star by the end because the cast were starting to all shoot themselves in the foot by the end. You’ll definitely be glued to each volume as you await the ending though.

The manga starts by introducing us to Tsubasa who is a pretty good fighter. She’s so strong that the guys think of her as one of the gang and the other classmates end up being scared of her. It’s a fun life though and Tsubasa is excited to finally be seeing her twin sister Arisa for the first time in years. After their parents split up Tsubasa stayed with her Dad while Arisa went with the Mom. Tsubasa and Arisa have a great time chatting with each other, but then the next morning Arisa jumps out the window and falls into a coma. Tsubasa decides to impersonate Arisa and find out what was going on at school. The only hint she has is that it has something to do with “King Time.”

King Time is a period every Friday where the class gets together and they all make a wish on their phones. A mysterious being known as the King will then grant one of those wishes. While it started out as harmless fun like granting a good test score or baking a cake, the wishes have become drastically more dangerous since then. With people being bumped off one by one, Tsubasa has to put a stop to this. As you can see there is a lot of plot going on.

Arisa does a good job of throwing a lot of red herrings at you so it’s hard to figure out just who the villain is. I’m thinking you’ll probably have it figured out by volume 4-5 but if you double guess yourself then maybe a little later. There are a lot of credible suspects here after all so you really have to think long and hard about who you want to pick. Part of why I was able to throw myself into the series so fullly and just blast through all of the volumes was because the story is just so good. As I mentioned earlier, it’s just a very engaging series and that’s one of the reasons why this is a terrific series. It’s easily one of the very best Shojo titles that I’ve read.

The art is very clear and the character designs are unique which is always a good thing. The twins look similar but that makes sense of course. There is only one panel in the series where I wasn’t sure exactly who was talking in the final volume. I think it was the mother, but it’s a little hard to say. Hopefully it wasn’t because the scene would make her look pretty bad to be honest. This is definitely top tier art all around though and the author does a good job of keeping the mystery fresh for 12 volumes. I was wondering how it would last all the way to 12 pretty early on because it always felt like the series was pretty close to wrapping up. Granted, the ending volumes did really hurt 2 volumes so they didn’t all get away without injury.

Lets talk about the character cast. First up is Tsubasa who is definitely a very solid main character. Without her determination in finding out what was going on things definitely would have gotten very dicey for the rest of the class. She has to do a lot of the groundwork on her own and in the process she puts her own academic career in jeopardy. Despite these real threats and knowing that she is in personal danger, Tsubasa never wavers. She really just makes one main mistake and the series missed the boat with her on one thing. For her mistake, it’s the fact that Tsubasa falls for Midori and doesn’t try to shut down these feelings for very long.

Keep in mind that Midori is dating her twin sister Arisa. Under no circumstances should she even entertain the thought of getting together with him. Look, you can’t stop yourself from falling for someone entirely if that person is simply your type. What you can do is stop yourself from actually pursuing such a desire though. Just accept that it will always be a one way crush and keep the feelings buried until you get over it. The instant Tsubasa lost sight of this she did in fact betray Arisa and someone even calls her out on this. Tsubasa is sorry for what she did, but it was a massive mistake all the same.

Where the series missed some opportunities here is in the fact that Tsubasa is a good fighter. She’s portrayed as being very strong and yet when it’s crunch time she ends up losing without much of a fight like any other Shojo heroine. She is defeated numerous times in the series and never fights back when it really counts. The series could have dropped the whole storyline of her being a fighter and nothing would really change. I would have liked to have seen her get out of some of these situations on her own without assistance. The only moment this was handled well was against Kudo. It’s not a huge deal, but it is noticeable and does limit Tsubasa’s character. This review is basically spoiler free, but the next paragraph may still hint at things that you would rather not know. If you want to be absolutely sure to avoid spoilers then skip the next 3 paragraphs. Then skip the next 2 paragraphs after that which are total spoilers. So skip 5 paragraphs total or just look for the next image. It’s safe to start reading right after that. I figured that by putting the spoiler warning at the end of this paragraph it would give you time to get out and not hit the spoiler by mistake. You out? Last chance…..here we go!

Then you have Arisa. Now she is a pretty complex character and after thinking about her opening scene again the ending does mesh to an extent. Arisa really has 3 personas. The first is the one we learn about from Tsubasa and through everyone else. She is a very nice character who always does her best to help everyone out. Arisa is nice to a fault to the point where everyone only has nice things to say about her. She just seems like the perfect character. Then you’ve got the Arisa we got to see for one chapter with Tsubasa. She seemed to live up to this image but then we get the scene where she throws herself out of the window to despair while saying that Tsubasa is the one who had the perfect life. This does hint at some resentment since she waited til Tsubasa was around to do this which would mentally mess Tsubasa up for life. Then we have Arisa from when she wakes up.

Arisa is a lot meaner than you may expect. She gives everyone the cold shoulder and sides with the King the whole time. Even after she explains herself later on it doesn’t really excuse her. She is complicit at the very least to putting Tsubasa’s life in danger by making the wish to get rid of her. She makes things very tough on someone who is already dying of a heart condition and is generally an obstacle getting in everyone’s way. I really didn’t like Arisa which was surprising and part of why I didn’t care for the last few volumes. She comes across as short sided and needlessly mean. Arisa doesn’t even have a plan to justify this so Tsubasa is forced to step up once again and fix things. It’s just a shame because Arisa seemed like such a great character in the flashbacks. At the end of each volume is a short story and I read pretty much all of em. In one of them Arisa ends up pretending to be Tsubasa for a day to help her sister’s school rep and saves the day. That’s the Arisa I was expecting to see and she never showed up.

It is clever from a writing standpoint as it does follow the theme of the series. We saw the part of Arisa that everyone else saw and were then hit with the rude awakening of her real personality. Again, part of it is to keep everyone else safe and Arisa is never portrayed as being a total villain, but she just makes a lot of bad decisions. Maybe the old Arisa was never truly real or maybe she was buried after meeting up with Midori. Either way I missed that version of Arisa and if I could change anything about the manga I would just make it so that she didn’t wake up until the final volume. Maybe have a few chapters with her explaining to Tsubasa that she tried to end King Time and after not being able to think of anything figured that by eliminating herself that would stop Midori’s plan. We could have at least salvaged her character that way. I just don’t think Arisa waking up so soon was a good move.

Then we have Midori who I definitely wasn’t a fan of. The guy has a sob story of his own which is pretty sad, but still not an excuse for turning into a total psycho. He wants to free Arisa from her mother since Arisa apparently would confide in him a lot about how she was feeling insecure. It’s too bad that he takes everything to the extreme. In the most zoomed out of lens point of view you can see how he had a good intent to protect her, but then it totally morphed into something evil. He openly manipulated her so I don’t buy any kind of justification that he was trying to help her. Then even if it was part of his plan he does flirt with Tsubasa and cheats on Arisa so you can’t cut him any more slack at that point.

The guy tries to murder people many, many times. There’s just no goodness in him so it’s hard to buy the ending of the series. He should be serving hard time for a very long time and Arisa shouldn’t be so quick to forgive him. It’s great that they can forgive him of course, but it’s easy to do so when they got out okay. What about all of the students who had their lives permanently crushed thanks to him? There were quite a few victims before Tsubasa was able to step in and they don’t have the fortune of being a main character with plot armor.

Along the journey of trying to solve the mystery Tsubasa ends up helping a few other characters through their plots. One such character is Mariko who is supposed to be Arisa’s best friend. It’s hard to imagine how they got together though since Mariko is an incredibly obsessive character who is not very heroic at all. Mariko enjoys tormenting others and I would argue that she goes so far down into villain territory that she never truly returns. I wasn’t able to buy into her redemption arc and just didn’t like her. As a villain you could make the case that she was more sinister than the others. Even in the bonus story that takes place after she was supposedly redeemed she ends up being rather menacing. Fortunately it was to another villain but otherwise things were going to get out of hand again.

Then you have Shizuka who blames Akira for the loss of her legs. Now this is a tragic backstory that I can buy into because she was viciously hazed and nobody helps her. I have to blame Akira and Arisa a lot on this one. This is a case where Arisa seems to be completely complicit in what was happening. Maybe she was also tricked or maybe not, but the fact remains that the outcome really sucked for Shizuka. She had to put up with more pain than anyone else in the series. Sure, she did get tricked but the circumstances were pretty believable compared to the others and I did feel bad for her. Shizuka fortunately gets a happy ending because she’s already been through enough.

Kudo is a transfer student who arrives later on in the series. Unfortunately he is one of the most gullible characters in the series. The guy believes whatever he is told and just obeys orders. I want to like the guy since he has a good character motivation and origin story but he really should have questioned what he was hearing a little more if you ask me. He’s also like Mariko in that he falls into the purely evil territory. The guy knew what he was doing and actually did try directly murdering Tsubasa so that’s that.

Then we have Tsubasa’s supporting characters who don’t get to appear all that much. It’s too bad because they all seemed to be solid characters. In particular Tsubasa’s best friend gets a very small role and I was expecting him to be a major player at some point. The other guys in Tsubasa’s gang are all very loyal and I was glad that she had some friends who could fight. If anything she should have leaned on them a little more to help her through the issues that were going on. We really only get to see them more in the bonus stories.

Then there is Akira who is the main guy here. He’s solid and isn’t a sucker like the rest of the class. He’s at least trying to solve the mystery of the King. He’s not perfect and I do blame him for Shizuka’s fate, but for the most part he makes the right choices. Unlike Tsubasa, he likes Arisa who is already taken but has enough resolve not to actually try and make a move. He ultimately learns to appreciate her as a friend which is the right thing to do. Having Akira along for the ride is really helpful since it makes it more difficult for the King to try and bump Tsubasa off. Akira still does get knocked out pretty easily but he’s probably the only character aside from Tsubasa who actually digs up some clues so that’s good.

While Arisa/Tsubasa’s Mom doesn’t get to appear all that much I have to say that she was a character who was really mis-handled. I always got the impression that she was a pretty nice person even if the manga never outright stated that. I guess the parents did get divorced so they may not have been the best people or they just didn’t mesh well. Still, everything we saw indicated that the parents were good and yet at the end she appears to be pretty defensive and distant. Arisa didn’t have as happy a life as we thought. Then there is one panel where she seems to be downright rude, but that’s a panel where I couldn’t be 100% sure that it was her. Regardless she didn’t believe her daughter when it counted so she loses points there. She’s another character who probably just shouldn’t have appeared at the end if this is how her plot was going to go down.

There’s a lot to talk about with this series and I think that’s due in part to the fact that this is a mystery series. There’s just a lot to unpack as a result. I think a good amount of credit also needs to be given to the writing in the series. It’s just so engaging that you want to talk about what you just read. I’d be down with a sequel series at some point, but this is really the kind of title where it’s really hard to make a sequel. Either it’ll have a new threat that feels a bit redundant or it’ll be more of a classic slice of life. The latter makes more sense and could be a lot of fun just to see the old characters, but I suppose it isn’t really necessary.

Overall, Arisa is a very solid series. I just questioned a lot of the final decisions in the manga. The ending isn’t too satisfying for me, but it’s always hard to make an ending that pleases everyone. You will also have to throw logic out the window to an extent for a lot of the series as the grown ups never find out what is happening or step in to stop the chaos. After a certain point you would just expect some kind of investigation or a way for things to move forward. Well, I’ve seen bigger leaps in logic. Definitely check this series out either way and be prepared for a fun time.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Star Wars: Lost Stars Review


It’s time to look at a recent Star Wars manga that had quite an abrupt end. I didn’t even realize that the manga had just ended after reaching the final chapter. In my defense there was no real closer page or a big “The End” to close things out. I suppose there couldn’t be too much of an ending since the films have to continue things, but I can’t help but feel like there should have been more here. I heard that there may be an epilogue floating around somewhere, but for now I’ll have to treat this as the ending.

The series follows a pair of characters Thane and Ciena. They both grew up on different planets, but eventually grow to know each other thanks to the time they serve in the Empire. Both of them rise up the ranks, but one day the Empire decides to destroy Ciena’s home world to prove a point. This is too much for Thane and he deserts the empire. Ciena stays but figures they can still meet up once in a blue moon as long as Thane doesn’t join the resistance or anything. Well…Thane joins the resistance and now the two who used to be close friends may end up being each other’s worst nightmare.

The series is mainly told from Thane’s point of view so for the most part we’re always seeing Ciena as the antagonist. That being said, he never stops seeing her as a friend so his goal is simply to convert or capture her in order to break Ciena’s tie to the empire. It won’t be easy, but he is one of the most talented fighters in the rebellion so that certainly helps.

It’s hard to deny that Thane is on the right side here. We know that the Empire is evil and they don’t really bother trying to hide that fact either. They’re just playing on the fact that everyone wants a ton of power and it works with Ciena. I don’t think there are any great reasons given as to why Ciena stands by them the whole time, but again this is mostly from Thane’s perspective. He’s a reasonable character with good goals. Thane won’t leave much of an impact on you but he’s not bad, the guy’s worst trait is simply that he’s generic.

Then you have Ciena who has essentially been brainwashed by the Empire. No matter how much they threaten her or commit evil acts she is on board to stop what she believes is the greater evil. By the time she is ready to pull out it is simply far too late to really make much of a move. Even to the end she is ready to go down with the ship. Hopefully the rebellion is as nice as they seem or the series doesn’t have a great ending for her. With Thane there I don’t think it’ll be a problem though.

The only other big character here is Nash. He was also friends with the other two characters, but he can be very fanatical about the Empire. They can do no wrong in his eyes and he just wants to climb the ranks. Interestingly he doesn’t waver from defending Ciena and would be a good friend if he was on a different side. It’s almost a shame that he grew up in the Empire environment since he doesn’t seem like a bad guy, he just made a lot of the wrong choices over the years. The ending sets him up to be a pretty big villain so if this ever gets a sequel that would be pretty interesting.

I enjoyed the artwork for Lost Stars. It is pretty detailed but manages to stay clear as well. You can always tell what is happening and makes for a pleasant read. There aren’t too many real fight scenes so the artwork doesn’t get to really test its hand there. Regardless this would be one of the positives in the series for sure.

There’s a lot of romance here and while it’s not terrible, it does have its off moments. One such time is when Ciena and Thane meet up again after being apart for a super long time and decide to hook up again. It’s basically the equivalent of a one night stand as they dash off again and the whole thing felt a little pointless. I think the story could have focused more on their friendship and it would have been a better dynamic than the romance angle. Stories of friends choosing different sides is always intense.

Regardless it is an interesting story and at the end of the day that’s the most important thing. It’s sort of like looking at how the war affected your average joe characters as opposed to focusing on the heroes each time. Despite having over 30 chapters I wouldn’t say that a ton happened here. Fortunately the writing was pretty strong so that’s not really an issue. You’ll have a good time as you read through it. It also does set up the potential sequel really well which is where we would get a nice payoff for all the character development here.

Overall, Lost Stars is a solid Star Wars title. I would have liked to have seen more Jedi and Sith getting some action scenes here. That would have really sealed the deal to make this a super solid Star Wars title. As it stands, it is pretty good and I would recommend checking it out. I’m not ready to say that it is the definitive manga experience though as it should likely be surpassed by other Star Wars titles. It’s definitely more of a drama/romance than what you would usually expect from the series, but it works out well or at least better than expected. We also do get the space ship fights so don’t worry about that. This review’s a little shorter than the average manga look through because there just isn’t a lot to talk about here. Doesn’t take away from the quality though.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Fairy Tail Gaiden Review


It’s time to look at another Fairy Tail spinoff. They’ve definitely been a mixed bag over the years as some manage to rival the main series in how terrible they are while others are surprisingly classy. The Ice Trails manga and Fairy Tail Zero are good examples of solid spinoffs after all. They had good action, a solid plot, and good artwork. Then on the other hand you’ve got a title like Fairy Girls which was so bad that you can tell the author wasn’t even trying. That one still makes me cringe. Well, this one’s not quite as great as the first two and does suffer from some of the usual Fairy Tail moments, but at least there’s some effort here and some reasonable stories.

The first volume is about Sting and Rogue as they go on some adventures. In one case, someone sends a letter asking for help from Sting and Rogue to go take down this powerful rock monster. Unfortunately, the two friends are on the outs after Sting accidentally makes Rogue’s animal friend Froze cry. Sting figures he can handle this on his own, but naturally, it is a trap so that won’t be as easy as he believes. This is an example of a pretty solid story. You’ve got a good challenge that Sting has to work to overcome and while the conflict with him and Rogue is admittedly pretty forced, it’s still a good action story in its own right.

The other Sting story is the weak link and definitely the one that keeps this series from getting an extra star. One of his teammates is kinapped and man does she have bad luck. This isn’t the first time things have gotten dicey for her which led to Natsu’s best series of moments in the franchise. Well, fortunately Sting is here to help and we get to see him beat up the entire guild pretty easily. It’s a fun fight, but the whole situation is really just here to try and squeeze in some fanservice which was definitely not needed. Sting makes for a fun alternate main character to Natsu and while he is a lot more weak willed in general he tends to be the better character.

Next up is Gajeel’s volume and he reminds us why he isn’t always the most trustworthy fellow around. One story has him disappear for a while without telling anyone and he seems to have re-joined the villains. He is now re-taking over the town that Gajeel used to rule over with an iron hand and his friend is here to help. That’s pretty believable but of course there is a twist here. The problem is that even once the twist happens it’s hard to see why Gajeel had to make the choices that he did. The guy is definitely a solo act, but not even telling Levy is a bit tricky. Fortunately, Gray was around to help solve the mystery and I appreciated the cameo. He didn’t really get to fight this time, but you could tell that he was in control right from the start.

Then you have the final volume which is all about Laxus. The annoying part of his volumes is dealing with the Blue Pegasus group since those guys definitely aren’t very epic. They run a host club and the leader is definitely not the most reliable guy, but the moral is that he’s actually tougher than he looks. I’m not sure that I can really buy into that, but at the very least I’ll acknowledge that he isn’t a total weakling. One story has him getting kidnapped so Laxus heads out to save him. Along the way he learns that friendship can take many different forms and that you shouldn’t judge a person right away. It’s a nice moral, but the leader does his best to take away from the epic fights.

One reason why Laxus has the best volume is aside from avoiding fanservice entirely we actually get some fights. Laxus has a good fight against the guild master here. Yes, there is a plot twist about how powerful she really is involving illusions, but at least it looked like an epic fight which is what counts. The other story has Laxus and his team head to a village where there is a powerful mirror that can’t be broken. Their mission is simply to break it, but the owner of the mirror attempts to stop them. This guy’s pretty powerful since he is able to combat Laxus on even ground. There are also some mind games that get played on Laxus’ trio of teammates.

Laxus has always been portrayed as one of the strongest Fairy Tail heroes. While I would definitely say that Gray and Natsu have long since surpassed him, he’s definitely still top 5 in the guild. That gives a lot of hype to this new opponent which is why the ending isn’t too satisfying for that guy’s fans. It’s always a shame when you know that someone is never going to get to fight again. I doubt he’ll ever even appear again though so I suppose that’s the least of my worries.

The art is definitely pretty good. It looks like the main series and there’s a good amount of detail here. Actually, it may even be the main artist, I forget but either way it’s very good. You won’t be disappointed here. It’s easy to read and get engaged. The idea of each volume being about a different character who will get 2-3 stories is pretty nice. There are a lot of other characters who could get that treatment so hopefully the author does more spinoffs like this. One thing I can definitely say about Fairy Tail is the author is very passionate about the series. It’s cool to see how much it has expanded.

Overall, Fairy Tail Gaiden is pretty good for the most part. Really there’s just one story that really felt like a Fairy Tail adventure with the unfortunate fanservice and the others were pretty mild. As far as trilogies go it may not be top tier, but it’s an enjoyable read. The power levels get a little tricky at times, but the characters never lose to someone they shouldn’t. Even if it’s a little closer than you may expect, they clutch it out and that’s the important thing. If you’re going to get into Fairy Tail it’s always better to go with the spinoffs. This one isn’t a bad idea for a starting point since each story basically needs no extra context.

Overall 5/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Magical Dancing Review


Time to check out a dancing crossover manga. It’s always fun to look at a crossover in any media and this is one of those series that I had not heard of before now. It’s not an action series so don’t go in expecting Kingdom Hearts, but it’s nice to see the Disney characters weighing in with their thoughts and tips. It’s a fun mini series and one that I would recommend.

The story follows a girl named Rin who wants to be a great dancer. She is in the same class as the legendary duet Kai and Yuna so Rin gets good inspiration during every class. Unfortunately her dancing abilities aren’t quite on their level yet which puts her in a bit of a bind. Yuna also doesn’t seem to like Rin one bit and even tells her to quit the club. Rin nearly does but then Tinker Bell shows up with a magic book. This book summons random Disney mascots to aid Boo in her time of need. Whenever she is in trouble these are friends that Rin can rely on. Will they be enough to get her atop the winning stage?

At only 2 volumes the series has to move quickly but I must say that it makes a world of difference to have 2 volumes over 1. The extra volume allows for more character development in each of the characters and we also get more Disney stars which is always good. It is a fun story and while it could have certainly gone for a few more volumes you don’t feel cheated out of its potential. I’d consider it to be a page turner. It’s not like it’s got an end of the world plot but the writing is just really solid which makes the experience all the more pleasant. The art is also quite solid which is important. The pages are all very clear and none of the characters are drawn too similarly so you won’t be mixing anyone up here. That is also absolutely critical since some series like to draw a bunch of people the same way and that can get tricky.

As for the characters, the main cast is pretty small, but solid. First you have Rin who is given a pretty tough time at school because she isn’t very good at dancing. She has a lot of enthusiasm, but no matter how much she practices Rin has just never been able to get the hang of the sport. Even Kai is fairly down on her and he’s supposed to be the nice guy. Yuna and the other girls are a lot harsher which is what leads Rin to the book. Rin does admittedly use the book as a crutch quite often in order to save the day, but it’s not like you can become a great dancer overnight. This allows her to buy some time as her skills improve organically. My main complaint with Rin is just that she lets things get to her too easily. She doesn’t really fight back against the other characters and gets walked on quite a bit. I like to think that by the end of the series she has gotten a little tougher though.

I would say that she is a little gullible, but in this case I have to blame the whole class. There is one moment when a bunch of bullies show up to talk some smack. The heroes fire back but then still listen to what the bullies have to say. Why would you do that? They all walked into that trap and I was surprised because literally the entire team was fooled. Fortunately Rin was there to save the day, but otherwise that would have been an embarrassing way to go.

Next up you have Kai who is a little odd. As mentioned, he doesn’t seem all that nice at first in the series but by the end he is very supportive of Rin. I guess he was probably trying to keep up his image, but I don’t know if that’s the best defense. He also makes you feel bad for Yuna because he acts totally oblivious to her and seems to be falling for Rin. Yuna being a bully lowers the sympathy levels, but either way Kai is in a tricky spot. He’s not the best main guy in a Shojo series, but he could have been worse. Then you have Yuna who is considerably better than the average bully character. That’s because she’s not super petty and doesn’t constantly try to sabotage Rin. She may not like the main character much, but Yuna does give her a fair shake. More importantly, Yuna doesn’t go back on her word so when Rin clears the challenges Yuna lets her on the team. Not saying that Yuna is heroic by the end or anything like that, but she’s a quality character.

Naturally we have the Disney characters as well. I was actually surprised at how Mickey acted when he showed up though because he basically just “Noped” out of there as soon as he appeared. Helping Rin out of a tight spot wasn’t really his goal and he always used to strike me as one of the heroic leads. From all of the guest stars he was probably the least helpful. Still, things always tend to work out when the guest stars show up, but some took a more active role in making sure this did happen than others. They also did help Rin learn to take it easy and not always get caught up in the heat of the moment. It’s good advice no matter what profession you’re in.

The ending is pretty open so it’s the kind of title that could easily get a sequel if the author feels like it. Otherwise you can easily imagine how it’ll all play out. If we did get a sequel then I imagine that the rivalry between Yuna and Rin would heat up. Honestly I would prefer that they just stay friends, but that does seem pretty unlikely. That just rarely happens in these kinds of stories even though they have a lot of similarities. So long as Kai exists there will definitely be some tension.


Overall, Magical Dancing is a title that I definitely recommend. There aren’t a ton of dancing titles out there so it’s always nice to have more options. The Disney characters showing up is a nice bonus, but it’s just that, a bonus. The series would have been able to stand up on its own even without them. After all, they are surprisingly the weakest part of the story. They’re fun, but whenever the Disney characters show up the plot has to temporarily come to a halt. Without them the team would have been doomed in the tournament so they were critical in getting Rin to her goal though.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Monsters, Inc. Review


Time to look at a title where the main characters’ mission is to scare people. As you can imagine this is a pretty tricky business since people will eventually not feel fear quite the same way. In this world, the monsters go through doors to little kids’ rooms and quickly scare them. The fear energy is captured in a tube which is then used like electricity. So the kids were actually right all along about monsters being under their beds and such.

The main characters are Sully and Mike. These two have been the reigning fear champs for a long time. It’s a team effort and things would have continued as normal except one day a little kids manages to escape the human world and bumps into Sully. Sully decides to get Boo back into her door before anyone figures this out, but the door is gone so he will have to do a lot of searching to find it. In the meanwhile they will have to watch out for Randall. It’s Randall’s fault that she escaped in the first place and if he finds her then there is going to be a lot of trouble. He’s not quite as heroic as the other monsters.

It’s definitely a very interesting setup. You may wonder why it’s such a big deal for the others to find out that a human is around, but effectively it would be like if a monster showed up in your house. People in this world are afraid of the other and vice versa. The government in the monster world is also prone to using lethal force to stop outsiders. One monster was completely shaved just for letting a sock make contact with him. The monster takes germs very seriously and so you can see why Sully wants to avoid all of that. It would definitely be pretty traumatic for Boo. Meanwhile Mike is definitely less about the heroics of this and just doesn’t want to get into trouble. Still, he does help out at the end of the day even if it is very reluctantly.

Randall is a petty sinister villain and works well as the antagonist here. He’s definitely a credible threat and with his invisibility it is hard to deal with him. He’s not nearly as tough as Sully and can’t win in a straight fight, but does use his abilities creatively. He comes awful close to stopping Sully once and for all. That’s really it for the main cast, but a few others show up along the way. I can’t say that Boo was as interesting as any of the other main characters though. I think she’s just too young to have a compelling character arc.

This manga isn’t afraid to show you how brutal the world can be though. Even ignoring the monster getting skinned or Sully being choked, there’s one scene where the humans decide to fight back. This involves Randall’s epilogue and things definitely don’t go so well for him. Keep in mind that the monsters are scary for the adults, but they definitely aren’t going to be doing much against adults. They aren’t super powerful like that and Randall isn’t much of a fighter as it is. I’m afraid that the scene was likely game over for him.

The art style is very basic for this one. It uses big panels and there isn’t a lot of detail on any of the characters to make for easy reading. I think this manga is aiming a lot younger than the others that I’ve read which is why I’m surprised that it has more danger than A Nightmare Before Christmas. The main aspect this hurts is the scare factor as it’s hard to see anyone being scared of Sully when he looks like a teddy bear. Kids do scare easy I suppose so it’s not like it’s a huge stretch either way. The art does serve its purpose of making the volume easy to read as well.

Overall, Monsters Inc is a reasonable volume. If you aren’t able to watch the movie then it’s a pretty good substitute. It’s certainly like watching an abridged version, but it keeps in as many of the big scenes as it can. The concept still holds up well today and it would be interesting to have more titles in this continuity. I still haven’t watched the movie sequel, but maybe that one also got a manga. So if you’re looking for a decent fantasy manga then this is one to check out. If you’re looking to buy one though, I’d probably sooner recommend something like Dragon Drive or Legend of Zelda though.

Overall 6/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

The Nightmare before Christmas Review


It’s time to look at a manga adaption of the popular film that came out a long time ago. It’s always interesting to see a manga adaption of a film. They tend to play it pretty straight, but it’s a chance to see how the artist draws the characters and if any liberties are taken. Due to time constraints you can expect some scenes to be cut here and there. It’s a fun enough adaption and makes for a good read although it’s admittedly not terribly interesting. It’s still a good read.

The plot follows Jack who is the king of horror. Every Halloween he gives everyone a good scare but now he is ready for something more. In this world every season has their own country so he sneaks into Christmasland and decides to take a page from their book. Their land will have a Christmas this time and he gets the whole town in on it. Sally doesn’t think that this is a good idea due to a vision that she had, but she can’t really prove it so her case doesn’t end up being very strong. Can she find a way to stop Jack?

The manga isn’t really able to show why this is a bad idea quite as much as in the film. We do have a few pages showing that Jack is a bit sad and the Christmas spirit isn’t really working, but there’s no time to really go into it. Mostly we see the down side of this is just because Jack is ruining Christmas for all the kids in the outside world by giving them terrible presents. Santa is fortunately around to fix this by the end. Jack’s plan doesn’t seem bad otherwise as doing the same thing year after year must be boring. The town was already planning the next Halloween the day after it ended which shows how little the town does.

This town also seems pretty shady. Sally’s creator for example seems to be incredibly possessive to the point where she has to poison him several times to escape. How he falls for the same poisoned soup trick over and over is another story. It’s a rather odd subplot that fits the creepy tone of the manga, but ultimately feels pretty unnecessary. I suppose with only Jack’s plot the story would have been over a little too quickly though.

You’ve also got the villain Oogie Boogie who shows up to strike fear into the characters. Jack seems to know that he’s a bad guy as he warns the kids to stay away, but I guess maybe there’s not much that the town can do about him? They seem awfully resigned to their fate so I guess that’s just how it is sometimes. The whole town is suspect so I suppose that’s just the least of their problems. The final fight is fairly short but at least we do get a bit of an action scene.

The art is pretty solid. It does a good job of recreating the movie’s vibe and everything’s pretty clear. It’s got a good amount of detail which is always important. You’ll be blasting through the manga. The pacing is definitely very fast so there is never a feeling of the story slowing down. As I mentioned earlier, the only issue is that you just won’t get very invested in the characters. You won’t really care what happens to them in the end and there isn’t a real sense of danger until the very end of the volume. This isn’t really that kind of series of course, but either you have a really engaging plot or you have big action scenes. If you have neither then you’re sort of stuck.

The manga makes no mistakes though. For obvious reasons there is no fanservice here or any excessive violence. It’s a manga you could recommend to anyone at least based on content. The title plays it very safe but I still think it could have tried to be more interesting. I think there can be an interesting debate on how far you should diverge on something if the base material isn’t interesting enough. After all, the author/artist probably had little creative input on changing things. Still, I feel you gotta still review the thing in front of you the same way you would if it wasn’t an adaption.

Overall, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a decent story. It’s about as good as a manga as it is in film. The film may have the slight edge but it really is the same story so it’s not like they are very different. If you liked the movie then you’ll like the manga. If you haven’t seen the film but are in the mood for a fun little story about Halloween characters trying to understand Christmas then you’ll enjoy this one as well. It’s only one volume so it’s not like it’s a big time investment either. What do you have to lose right?

Overall 6/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Rockman X: Giga Mission Review


This is a pretty short manga title clocking in at 10 pages. It’s basically a one shot to help promote the game and get you set for the incredible story of Megaman X. The series definitely has the most interesting storylines out of all the various Mega Man continuities so I would like to see the whole thing get adapted someday. Regardless, with solid art and good fights there’s no reason not to like this one.

Of course there also isn’t a whole lot to say about it. The manga throws you right into the middle of the action as X tries to stop multiple mavericks who are attacking him. They have a different name though as these robots are a slightly different variation. They can even fuse like the Constructicons which makes them even more dangerous. This is at a point in the story where Zero is out of commission so X has to go it alone. X is definitely a lot angrier here than usual which is likely related. Of course this could also just be the translators giving him extra edge but it’s rare to see him being so insulting to the villains as he claims victory. I suppose he finally just had enough of this.

The art is definitely very solid. It can be a little chaotic at times so if this was a full fledged title then the artist would probably need to work on that a bit. Still, either way I would definitely give it a thumbs up. The action feels very intense and you’ll still be able to recognize the characters right away. You’ll be wishing that the manga could have been longer to really take in what’s happening. I haven’t played these games yet (Takes place between X5 and 6 I believe) so it’ll be fun to see the story there but of course the games came out a long time ago so they couldn’t go quite as into depth as they would be able to in a modern version. That’s why a manga is a great idea to flesh out the story a bit.

Overall, if you’re a big Megaman fan then you definitely should check this out. It’s cool that the fans have been translating more of these obscure Megaman products. Hopefully they continue to do so and eventually all of the Megaman titles will be available online. I still think it’s a missed opportunity not to officially release them in the US though. I feel like they would definitely sell quite well if marketed correctly. It’s Megaman, everyone loves a good story about robots and mavericks. Ah well, this definitely does get me in the mood to go back and play the X Collection, but that game is quite long and hard so it’ll realistically still be a long while until then.

Overall 8/10