Shaman King: Red Crimson Review

It’s time to jump into the world of Shaman King. This has really turned into quite the franchise with several manga titles in addition to the main one and more than one how. Who’d have thought that it would be so big right? Most of the manga titles are also building up to a whole new Shaman King fight that will be the biggest yet. I love the ambition but hope we will get there before long. This is a really solid setup manga to that event and it’s nice to see the characters and how their lives are going. I may have some power level issues here but we’ll get into that.

The title starts off with Horo Horo getting ready to visit his pal Ren to get some money. Ren is rich and Horo Horo is not so this makes sense. He hitches a ride but the driver turns out to be an evil shaman who tries to murder him. Horo Horo survives the encounter and Tao Jun shows up to take care of the villains. Basically the Red Crimson group wants to destroy the Tao family before the next tournament begins. They want revenge for years of oppression under the might of the Tao Family and this seems like the quickest way to do it. Can Tao Jun protect their family legacy?

Now you may figure that this should be an easy win for the heroes right? Horo Horo and Ren are both 2 of the 5 legendary warriors who went up against Hao. They should steamroll! Well it’s not quite that easy. See the villains have a lot of strong new members like Yohsuke, Yonhon, and Dehon who look suspiciously like characters from the Ultimo series. More on that later but they are really setting this up to be a fight where the villains have a massive advantage. Additionally Ren has turned into a bit of a pacifist. He will fight when the time is right but doesn’t want to get mixed up in fights that he doesn’t have to. Horo Horo has no excuse though and doesn’t look great here.

One of the overarching themes here is about not getting revenge. It’s a great moral of course but the series takes this to a bit of an extreme where I couldn’t buy it. Basically Ren’s wife, Lady Jeanne is a god class shaman with incredible abilities. In theory she can defeat most of her opponents but she willingly allows herself to be murdered by the villains so that they don’t get punished for failing their mission. Really now? I can’t get behind that and in a way she is trying to atone for her past as well but that’s just an awful way of doing this. It’s always sad when a character just ends up swinging too far on the pendulum when trying to be a hero now. So it wasn’t her best appearance.

I also think Ren should have absolutely gone for revenge there. That was the time to do it. I get that he doesn’t want to restart the cycle of violence but when your wife is attacked like that then you absolutely have to step in. There’s really not an option at that point. He still does have his rage moment but he doesn’t go through with it. It’s hinted that he may have lost to be honest but lets at least see him try to fight. Horo Horo shows more emotional and still gets to cut loose which isn’t always portrayed as a good thing but at least I like that he just goes forward with his feelings and doesn’t hold back. I just wish he would look more powerful because the guy has been through a whole lot over the course of the series. His mana and experience should put him at a really high level but he doesn’t worry anyone.

A good chunk of the series focuses on Tao Jun though and how she is also trying to escape her past. She used to be a rather cruel villain and got Pairon murdered so he could be her cursed spirit. It’s pretty messed up when you think about it. Keep in mind that he had a family too so any shipping here also feels very iffy by default. Fortunately I don’t think a romance will ever be fully in the cards there but even hinting at one is annoying. I like Pairon, he’s a standup guy who is trying to do the right thing. That’s very admirable and you like to see it. I’m glad he doesn’t hold a grudge and he is looking out for her but it better stay as just looking out for a friend.

Meanwhile Tao Jun is definitely very genuine in trying to be a better person. She definitely has to put up with a whole lot and it feels like the villains will keep giving her a tough time but she is trying to make sure that Ren doesn’t have to deal with the family darkness. I hope he does show up more often to directly help out because I like to think he’s not too oblivious though. They should have a really solid dynamic going right now. I feel like she’s not strong enough to really get a part in the tournament but should be a good support fighter.

Then we have Hon Hon who is one of the main villains here. She desperately wants revenge on the Tao Family but the more she thinks about it, the more this starts to feel a bit like manipulation. Hon Hon isn’t completely sure of herself as the series goes on and of course that will make her weaker since the series is all about having strong connections with your spirit that take you to the next level. Even so she puts up a great fight though and I look forward to seeing more of her. She is a solid addition to the series.

Now as for the Ultimo characters. I feel like the series is strongly going for a multiverse approach here. They seem really similar to the Ultimo cast but is seems clear that they are still different people. Of course it could just be the author having a little fun but then I don’t think the title would tease about their energy feeling like it’s from a different universe. Why would you bother with that right? No I think this is some multiversal kind of action where Ultimo is actually canon and there are things happening across all universes. If this is the case then I can actually see the main cast showing up at some point too and maybe even that Stan Lee villain will appear. There’s a whole lot of potential here.

It can be a trick thing to balance of course because multiverses are really ambitious but I’m ready to see how it pans out. I did mention the power leveling concern earlier though and the one thing the author needs to watch out for is the Ultimo trap. See one of the issues there was that the villain was too powerful to the point where the heroes couldn’t win. This is quickly starting to happen here as the pyramid villain working directly for the Yvs god can completely stop time to the point where even a god class shaman can’t resist. The main Ultimo guy also has time manipulation and if even the minions can beat the 5 legendary warriors then what hope do the heroes have?

It feels like the villains are quickly reaching unreasonable levels of power while the heroes are stagnant. Of course you can still write the heroes to get more power ups and win but that needs to happen soon. Otherwise you could do the whole plot of the villain winning again and everyone meets in the everafter but that feels like the kind of twist that can only happen once. Doing it again would feel like a whole retread. of course this series is essentially a spinoff/tie-in kind of adventure to the main tournament so we’ll see what happens once it is the main plot.

Overall, I feel like Shaman King is in a very unique spot right now where it is almost like DC or Marvel as a big umbrella franchise with a ton of tie-in adventures going on that are all leading up to a huge event like Secret Wars. This is just one more stone in the journey leading up to the road. It works both as a stand alone story because of Tao Jun’s character arc but also as an ingredient in the future adventure. I definitely had fun with it and would recommend reading the series. Because of the tie-in part though you’re looking forward to a lot of fights here that just don’t get to happen and so you really want to read the next installment which just isn’t around yet. If you enjoy big cliffhangers then that should definitely make this title even more appealing to you.

Overall 7/10

Yuzu the Pet Vet Review

Yuzu the Pet Vet is definitely one of the most emotional manga titles around. It deals heavily with animals appearing in every chapter since that’s a big part of the plot so you can probably guess where this is going. The series is meant to be a fairly light hearted, but cautionary tale on how hard it is to raise pets but unfortunately that means showing us examples of lots of bad owners and so there are a lot of dogs that get injured in this one. I’d definitely say to give it a skip if you have a pet or even in general to be honest since there are just too many pets in harm’s way here.

The series starts off with Yuzu moving to her uncle’s place because her mother is very ill. Yuzu’s mom has been in and out of the hospital for a while now but it seems extra serious this time so Yuzu’s not in a great mood. Her uncle is an animal doctor and he treats all kinds of patients. He wants her to help out while she’s around the house but the problem is that she is terrified of animals. The more she helps her uncle, the more she starts to get comfortable around them though. Who knows, maybe she can even become a proper pet vet someday?

The cast is very small here because this really is an episodic kind of series. The only constant characters are Yuzu’s uncle, mother, and the dog Sora. Even Yuzu’s best friend only appears for around 2 pages in the whole series which is pretty crazy. It’s too bad because she seemed like a high quality character and yet there isn’t anything to say about her because that was just way too short of a period. What can you really talk about with a character who has appeared so briefly? I’ll tell you…nothing! That’s all there is to say there. Definitely a wasted opportunity.

As for Yuzu, well of course she’s not great when starting out but she does improve as the series goes on. She gradually learns how to be nice to animals and by the end of the series she is the one with the wise sayings keeping the other kids in their place. She really came very far by the end and I can definitely appreciate that. That being said, as a kid there’s still only so much that she can do to help. At the end of the day the Uncle still has to take center stage when the going gets tough. Once Yuzu is grown up I’m confident she will really be helping in the pet vet business.

I can’t ask much more out of a kid for now and it’s better to be scared of animals than to be mean to them. Even during the pre arc she never tried anything like that so I appreciated this. Her uncle is a solid character. He can definitely be a bit short tempered with the kids and gets super strict but considering how high stakes a pet’s life is, it’s the right move. I can definitely respect that extra fire he has. You need that in order to convince people that you’re on the right side. His advice is always correct to so that’s an important thing to keep in mind. Without him the town would definitely be finished since it seems like there are no other big pet doctors around.

Meanwhile Yuzu’s mom is a solid character. Her main issue is that she can try a little too hard to do everything at once and it often ends up with her getting even sicker. There comes a time where you have to know your limits and that’s her moral by the end. She still helps Yuzu out around the vet once in a while but makes sure not to over tax herself which is important. It’ll be nice to see her as a main character once she’s all better.

I should note that the uncle has a pet dog named Sora who is always around. He’s a bit of a mean pup though as he is always trying to bite Yuzu and cause problems. Not the best first experience for someone who is already scared of animals. Sora gradually becomes nicer and less violent as the series goes on. By the end I would say that they really are good friends.

The art is very clear here. I would say the quality is surprisingly high overall and there is never any moment where you are wondering what is going on. The artist does a good job here. Sure, there are no action scenes so it’s not going to be as difficult to keep things clear as with another manga but it still deserves some good props for pulling that off. It makes going through the volumes real easy.

Of course the only thing that makes going through them hard is how sad most of the stories are. Basically how things play out is usually the owner is being an accidental jerk and neglecting the dog. The dog gets sick so then they head over to the uncle’s place where he fixes up the dog. On a high level that’s usually how this goes and so the rough part is always the first half. For one reason or another the owner will usually say that he or she doesn’t want to go through with any operations or see the doctor. Usually the owner is convinced that his puppy will be okay and so the dog has to put up with a lot until he’s at the doctor’s.

The series also tries to teach us about loss so lets just say that not every animal survives here. Another big no no when you think about it. I don’t want to see any animals dying or even hearing about it. Again the series may be about animals but you don’t have to go this far with it. Having animals get injured or get super sick is just way too sad. The manga should have been about healing them before they get sick. Like have one of them get the ability of foresight and that would have been cool. Sure, the manga is slightly not realistic but you can still teach a lot of lessons to the kids reading the series. I think that would work really well and there aren’t many alternatives. Sure you could make the series about robotic animals I guess…but I feel like that would probably be a hard sell. I don’t see it working as smoothly as you might assume even though I would be all for it.

At the end of the day one of the biggest issues here is that you just won’t have any fun. Sure the chapters usually end on a positive note but only after you’ve been completely beaten emotionally. It’s hard to enjoy the payoff by that point. It’s like when you fall off a bike and injure your knee. Sure, it feels good when you get up and make it home, but the bump still stings. That’s what every chapter is like here and since having fun is one of the main objectives here, there’s just no way this would end up being a quality title. There isn’t really any good reasons to check this one out at the end of the day. I would recommend a ton of manga way higher.

Overall, The series is fairly short at 7 volumes and since it’s episodic by nature that makes it feel even shorter. The volumes are mainly all stand alones and even most of the adventures stop at just one chapter. So it’s not like the sagas are long either. Whether you like the series or not will depend completely on how much you enjoy the premise and the stories that are included here. Ultimately they didn’t do the trick for me. Even though the stories are about helping the animal in the end, the animal always had to go through a lot first which was no good. That’s what the series really should have avoided even if it means changing the premise of the series altogether. At the same time I think you could have pulled this off without injuring any animals. Have the missions be a little more low stakes and it all could have worked out.

Overall 1/10

Horimiya Review

I finished Horimiya up quite a while ago but now it’s time to really dive into this one. The romantic comedy manga lasted quite a long while and it’s always impressive to see since you just tend to associate long running titles with the classic Shonen Jump action. Well this one had a fairly big cast so they got to set up a lot of romances here. Mainly what holds the series back a bit compared to other romance series is that the main two are rather weak next to other Shojo heroines/heroes and their dynamic might just be the weakest out of any pairing within its own series. Well we’ll have time to tackle all of that in a minute.

Hori is a very popular girl at school. She’s outgoing and doesn’t back down from any challenge but the big secret she hides from her classmates is that she has to watch after her little brother Souta after school. She transforms into a completely different person once she’s home since she can relax and it’s almost like a disguise so nobody recognizes her. One day she is caught though, by the really quiet, timid guy known as Miyamura. Nobody really approaches that guy because he keeps to himself but in private he actually enjoys tattoos and piercings. The guy looks completely different and rather fierce outside of school but it turns out he’s actually a real softie but doesn’t want to hurt his image. So the two agree not to say anything and now they can actually be good friends who are relaxed with each other. This will also make it easier if Hori needs to sneak out since Miyamura can cover for her. That said…can they really remain friends??

Yes! Not a chance! This is a romance series after all but that would have been a nice change of pace. That said, the series does have a lot of actual boy/girl friendships that don’t transform into something more so I give the series props there. For example Hori’s best friend Yoshikawa is very outgoing and gets along with Miyamura pretty well once he’s a part of the friendship circle and the two have a fun dynamic that never has to become anything more than that. I would include Hori and Ishikawa but he actually did like her and just ended up losing out so not sure that counts. At least they stayed on good terms though.

So lets jump into two of my main issues with the series before we go into the positives. The first one is the art which I think can be really hit or miss. Sometimes the pages will really pop out with a great double spread or a really detailed shot of the characters. The artist can clearly do a great job when needed but it’s the average panel where things get tricky. I constantly would mix up Sengoku and Ishikawa because their designs are so similar. Then once the cast expanded to include other students it got really confusing. All of the girls are distinct but the guys feel like they all have the same look and only the hair can help you tell them apart. Even that isn’t easy since the series is in black and white after all. Having distinct designs for all of your characters is a must for any series and this just felt like a big weakness as a result. You should never be in a position where you are regularly mixing up characters or I always have to say that goes squarely on the artist.

Then my other issue is as I mentioned before of the dynamic between Hori and Miyamura. The problem is that it’s never all that funny and they seem like better characters when they’re apart. So Hori has this whole thing where she gets real excited when Miyamura is upset and constantly encourages him to hit her. Because he is a pacifist and also a decent person he never wants to do this so she’ll end up sulking for a while. It’s a rather bizarre dynamic and of course part of the point is that Hori is a bit strange when she’s not putting on her school mask but even for her it’s a bit much. I’m thinking the attempt is to be like a reverse tsundere where you have the guy constantly blowing up at the girl but it just doesn’t work.

It also makes their relationship a bit one note since that gag is a constant. Ironically Souta helps out since at least when he’s causing trouble you have Miyamura defending him while Hori gets upset and that can always be more entertaining. The series absolutely has good humor throughout but it just lands better when they’re apart. Whether it’s Hori threatening the rest of the student body or Miyamura having to try and choose the option that causes the least amount of trouble when debating with friends, there’s a lot to enjoy there. The romance is just a weak link which is a bit rough considering that this is a big romance series at heart. You have shipping being done constantly throughout the series after all.

Where I will give the series some points is that it does have the characters talk about a lot of normal everyday stuff without always having to throw some drama in there. This could be boring for some but I think it makes sense to emphasize that this is a fairly small city where not much happens. So Hori and Miyamura will sometimes just hang out at home doing nothing except talking about nonsense or watching a movie. In that way they’ve already been together long enough where it’s not like every day has to be some kind of big event. Just being in each other’s company is calming enough and it’s a fairly mature take on how the relationship would be like.

Additionally, because they get together fairly early on in the manga, that gives more time for the relationship to develop. They go from being good friends to dating and keeping that same vibe. So while their dynamic may not be my favorite, I can’t say that the author rushed it. For some positive things about the dynamic, I like that Hori is a super direct person so there’s never any beating around the bush in their conversations. There’s no arc about her getting jealous and tailing him across the city to see if he’s cheating or trying to see if he’s interested in going out by asking a series of Jeopardy style questions. When she wants to do something she just blurts it out and if she wants to eat something she just does. Miyamura works at a family bakery so he’ll just bring along some good snacks and she’ll eat them. Being direct like that is definitely a plus.

Now the series is 16 volumes long so with the main romance out of the way, what else really happens here? Well, you have two other main pairings with Ishikawa and Yoshikawa as well as Remi and Sengoku. These were sort of set up early as well, maybe less so for Yoshikawa but the end game pairings are clear from the jump. This just gives them more of a chance to set things up and think about their next steps. For the most part is works well enough. You should be suitably engaged in what’s going on. You may not be on the edge of your seat like with Nisekoi or Kaguya Sama but you won’t be bored and that’s the important thing.

So I’ve already talked about Hori quite a bit. She’s a really fun main heroine although with how outgoing and direct she is, I do wonder in hindsight why it was really a big deal about the others seeing her with Souta. Honestly I get the feeling that they really wouldn’t care at all. Her best friend certainly wouldn’t and her childhood friend used to hang out with her all the time so he wouldn’t have a problem. Outside of the inner circle the rest probably wouldn’t bother her much. It’s the kind of thing that you question a bit more in hindsight but hey school reps are really important for people so it could just be that simple. Could just be a quirk of hers like how she can get real possessive of Miyamura even though she completely trusts him. She’d still just rather he not be hanging out with anyone else too often although in this case the gag is that she doesn’t care when he hangs out with other girls but other guys for too long is a no no.

The series does have a lot of annoying “guy talk” at times though so they probably aren’t the best influence around him anyway. The characters can be rather desperate at times and that’s why Miyamura needs to keep them at arm’s length. In a way he already does which some of the characters don’t like but you gotta do what you gotta do. Miyamura’s a good main hero. I do think that he goes a bit over the top with the tatoos and piercings though. He drops that entirely as the series goes on which I’d say was a good thing since his character design is much better without them. Ultimately of course fashion is up to the wearer so if he prefers that look then he should go for it but it just felt like something more out of a horror manga when he would pop in at times.

I was always glad that he held firm to his ideals and wouldn’t relent to Hori when she wanted him to get upset at her. I like how chill the guy is. It’s hard to get under his skin but if he is upset then he would let you know . He can be firm with the other friends when needed like if they took things too far at any point. It’s also cool that he works at the cake shop. It had to be so convenient to be able to bring home a cake whenever you want. Would be easy to start gaining weight of course but that would just be so convenient.

Then we have Souta who in a way does a lot of matchmaking since he is one of the main reasons why the two get together. He’s just young enough to still be oblivious about all of this though which is nice since a kid trying to interfere is always annoying. Soura’s too young to do much of anything really but he’s okay. As far as kids in these titles go I didn’t find him super annoying or anything like that.

Next up is Yoshikawa and she’s another quality character. She’s always got a brave face on even when things aren’t going her way and that’s commendable. She’s someone that Hori can lean on and vice versa when things are going tough. Her romance gets a little less time to really develop here though and she was on good terms with everyone so just ending p as a good friend would have been a solid end for her character arc. Either way she added a lot to the school dynamic and her character arc about being more confident was one of the most serious ones in the series.

Then there is Ishikawa who is a bit of a punching bag for a while. The guy isn’t super talented and definitely has confidence issues with how Hori had him in the friend zone for so long. The guy liked her for a while but she barely even sees him as a guy which is rather sad for him. Of course that’s why his next romance would be an automatic rebound since he only moves on because she made it clear that he would never have a chance. That’s pretty tough to handle when you think about it. I’m glad that things go up for him though because otherwise it was just a sad adventure for him.

Remi is a lot of fun and almost feels out of place among the other students because she’s a lot more gimmicky than the other characters. She talks about herself in the third person all the time and definitely cries a lot. Remi really gets super emotional at times which makes her really contrast with the very serious Sengoku. Naturally you can probably guess who gets paired here. Ultimately I did like Remi though. She was fun to have around but even though she was a main supporting character, I felt like she didn’t interact with Hori quite as much as you’d expect. I guess it’s a case of their both being in the same room a lot but never really having much to do at the same time.

Finally Sengoku is your classic by the books kind of guy who is really strict and has no fun. Naturally I don’t have him anywhere all that close to the other characters. I prefer characters who just have fun and go wild. I suppose you need a by the books guy sometimes but very rarely and Sengoku usually was more of a hassle to everyone than an actual help. That’s why he ends up lagging behind the others.

Honoka shows up later on as a fun little side character. She’s a bit younger than the rest of the characters so Hori and Miyamura tend to treat her like a kid which annoys her. She doesn’t mind when this ends up resulting in free food though so she’ll be a kid when it’s convenient to her. She adds some extra energy int the series so I appreciated having her around. Then you have Shindo who was Miyamura’s only friend back in the day and he’s one of those characters where you feel like the series is mean spirited against him for some reason. The guy is always just trying to be nice and helping out but gets treated like dirt most of the time.

Miyamura never wants to acknowledge that they were friends and is the only person that he bullies. Miyamura is typically super nice all the time but Shindo seems to bring out the worst in him. The worst part is that it rarely even starts off because of Shindo doing something wrong. In fact Shindo is usually just being a nice guy when Miyamura attacks him for no reason. This is another one of those comedic plots that just didn’t land for me since I would feel bad for Shindo in the end.

Yanagi was more on the forgettable aside. Apart from constantly breaking his glasses I’d have a tough time telling you much about his personality. He was around and nice enough but yeah he definitely got overshadowed. Then you have Hori’s parents. Her father gets more of a role and he always takes Miyamura’s side. In that sense the good part is that Hori doesn’t have to worry about her parents not liking him. That’s probably a huge relief when you think about it, but of course it does also mean that Hori will always be outnumbered in debates. It evens out since Hori is easily the toughest person in the room though as her father will usually shrink in the corner when challenged.

In some ways the manga is best when it’s just letting the two main characters just be cute for a while. A solid hug goes a long way compared to any shenanigans and one thing the manga shows a lot of is that Hori is a very clingy person. Once she is together with Miyamura she will end up grabbing him all the time for no real reason except to feel contact. It’s the little things like that which are fun and they both get a lot of inner monologues about how much better their lives are now that they have met each other. It also helps the comedic moments by extension since you know the characters more. Like Hori asking for Miyamura’s phone to do an inspection.

In another series that may feel like a bit of a jaded move. She doesn’t trust him or something but instead you know it’s just because she’s curious on what she’ll find and to mess with him a bit. They both trust each other but Hori being the aggressive heroine she is always likes to push things to the max. Then Miyamura is always calm enough where he will say yes to any of her demands/requests. No matter how inconvenient he would say yes to anything she asked him to do and so that makes for a good bond between them.

Overall, Horimiya is a good manga. I’d say what really keeps it from being a very good/great one is the character cast is a bit weaker than the other big Shojos and it’s just not as funny. For a long series like this of course there will be plenty of good jokes that land as well but there are also some more dull kind of lines that don’t really work. The manga has a bit more dead time than other similar titles and of course my mixing up characters from time to time doesn’t really help matters either. These aren’t the kinds of things that will feel too bad while binging though and ultimately the test of a manga is if you had fun and I’m confident that you will here. It’s still a very wholesome series throughout so if your local library or bookstore has the series then you should pick it up and give it a read.

Overall 6/10

Megaman Dash Review

Megaman Legends is probably the only part of the Mega Man series that I’m not much of an expert on. So it’s always interesting seeing more adventures in that verse but at the same time titles like this don’t really do it any favors. Megaman Dash is more of a comedy manga than a serious adaption and so it’s not going to reach the heights of NT Warrior of Gigamix. I’m glad that the series finally finished getting translated of course, that was definitely great. Because that means now I get to dive into this one and tell you why it didn’t quite work. I will give it this, the series does avoid throwing in a lot of crude humor or anything like that which I appreciate since so many comedic titles run right to those jokes.

The series is rather short with only 5 chapters so it’s really more of a one shot than a series. Basically Megaman Volnutt is a treasure hunter of sorts. He goes to different caves and mines minerals and resources. Despite his antics he seems to be reasonably good at this, enough so where he, Roll, and doctor Barrel can live a comfortable life at least. Well, he isn’t the only one after the treasure and also has to contend with the likes of Tron Bonne and her crew. They may not be all that formidable but the same can be said for Volnutt so he can’t let his guard down. Eventually he even meets a man named Megaman Juno who has plans for world domination. Can Volnutt really stop this guy?

It’s a fairly basic plot that we’ve got here. Volnutt is your classic explorer who likes having a lot of fun but also really enjoys goofing off the whole time as well. He’s definitely not the kind of guy who takes things all that seriously but he can be tough when needed. I’d like to see more bravery out of him though. I get that it’s a comedic title so that may not be in the cards but it would just do a world of good to see him talking tough and getting serious when the situation calls for it. It’s why he severely lags behind the other Megamen on all sides. It was fun recognizing some of his signature attacks from the Tatsunoko vs Capcom game though.

I can also give the manga this, the artwork is actually pretty good. You can see how the fights would actually be really solid if that was the intent of the manga. The choreography is on point and the character designs are good. Clearly this artist is really being misused having to work on a more gag manga type adventure like this one. It certainly makes for an easy read nonetheless. Particularly now that it’s all scanned you can blast through the whole thing really quick. Perhaps it will read better as a marathon although I have my doubts.

As the heroine Roll doesn’t actually do a whole lot here. She yells at Volnutt constantly since he’s always messing up but that’s really her only role here and he doesn’t really take her all that seriously. Doctor Barrell has even less to do here. You may forget that the guy exists at times. Then there’s Tron Bonne who is a comic relief villain but at least she is doing a lot of things. She builds robots to take Megaman out and is also instrumental in helping him out later on. If you were a fellow villain then you would probably be annoyed at how she changes sides and all but for the heroes it works out quite nicely.

The only character that I can say was solid all the way around was Megaman Juno, the final boss of the adventure. An evil Megaman is always a very intriguing prospect. Whether it’s Copy X from the Zero games or Dark Megaman from EXE, they tend to be standout characters. This one is certainly ambitious as well and he does put the heroes through the wringer. I think he’s probably a really cool character in the games as well, I just got that vibe from him.

I appreciated the series ending with a serious climax against this guy. While it may not keep that tone for long, I’ll take what I can get. Ultimately I don’t think Megaman always has to be super serious but you can do humor in a fun way where it’s less of a gag type approach. Megaman EXE and classic certainly have a lot of humor to them and it works well, I’d say the only thing holding this one back is that the jokes often aren’t funny. It just goes too far overboard with the characters yelling and making all kinds of faces. That kind of thing just isn’t funny when you spam it.

The kind of humor you’d like to see is with the script. Some kind of really great line that you remember or a particularly solid burn that leaves you with a big grin on your face. Things like that are what would leave more of an impact. Or if you have to do this, have it be a lot of gags during the normal scenes but when the fights happen you go all in. That would have worked a lot better as well. If you haven’t played the game you will probably be wondering just a bit what the actual game’s plot is like since you figure it’s probably way different than what we got here.

Overall, Megaman Dash makes for an interesting read. It’s certainly unique and I do think a good amount of effort was put into it, the style and direction it went in just wasn’t the right one. If the idea of a sillier Megaman adventure sounds right up your alley then you should enjoy this one. If you want something more intense then I would redirect you to just about any of the other Megaman adventures. Whether it’s X, classic, or exe you will have a better time straight up. One positive for this one is that it is very short though so it’s not like it’s a big time investment. You can finish this one within 20 minutes easy so what’s the harm right? I’d also say while I had my share of negatives with it, I still wouldn’t call this one bad per say. It’s right in the middle for me where it’s not particularly good but it’s not like I had a tough time reading it either. There’s a certain gag manga I’m reading right now that is actually painful. Just wait until that series ends!

Overall 5/10

Aliens Area Review

I finally checked out Aliens Area which sure got cancelled awfully quick. It’s a shame because it did sound pretty fun from the premise although after reading through it I can see why it was cancelled. Ultimately it doesn’t deliver on the action you’d be expecting and while it’s not a bad thing to try and be different from the usual action experience, it didn’t feel like the series really knew what it wanted to do. You end up just being really confused by the end and wondering what the whole purpose was. The ending is rushed due to being cancelled of course so that part doesn’t really count but even before that it didn’t really have a focus.

The basic story starts with Tatsumi taking care of his siblings. His parents died a while back so he’s on his own but he’s done a pretty good job of raising them so far. Money is real tight though and then one day he is attacked by an alien. He manages to fend it off with his mysterious arm which worked out really well because otherwise he was definitely going to be in a true jam there. Somehow his arm was able to stretch as if he was Monkey D. Luffy. A guy named Hajime appears and explains that he is the leader of a group that looks into aliens. He wants Tatsumi to join and it pays well so his family will be looked after now. Tatsumi agrees to this but can he keep his new job a secret from the kids and is he really ready for this?

The core premise is solid enough. It’s sort of like Men in Black, this organization deals with aliens. Often times that is done through force but sometimes they will let the aliens know that they are breaking the law and that’s that. What makes things more complicated is that there is another group known as A3 and their mission is to simply destroy all aliens. They figure it will save more people in the long run and in some ways they think it’s more just as the main org will deal with aliens peacefully but they rarely help out on the follow-up. So often times if they provide housing for example, if the alien bombs out then he is exiled anyway. It seems like the manga was going to run with this as a fairly big subplot because Tatsumi had his share of issues with the organization. They do seem extremely shady. They aren’t straight up murdering everyone like A3 but it would be a stretch to fully call them heroes.

The series ended with 20 chapters so there wasn’t time for a whole lot of missions. After the first chapter we have Tatsumi accompany Hajime on a mission. This one had them protect an alien princess from the greatest assassin in the universe. I may as well add now that this is already a mistake. You can’t have the best in the universe appearing this early in the story unless he is going to win. The problem is that Hajime defeats him rather easily….so just like that the power creep has gone absolutely crazy. It does work well as an initial battle to teach Tatsumi the rules of how to fight and all. It’s just the context of knowing that they just defeated the greatest assassin in the universe that is a problem. You can’t convince me that this was a good idea, it just doesn’t make sense. The assassin loses all of his hype immediately.

Of course he returns later as an ally but by that point you still don’t think he’s nearly as strong as his reputation once was. It’s still a solid intro arc and shows Tatsumi more of what the aliens can be like and what their missions are but it wasn’t executed quite as well as it could have been. I do like Tatsumi’s arm since he seems like it would have a lot of uses in combat. He uses it here to block a blast that was aimed at the princess. This leads to my next issue though…he doesn’t get to fight. Aside from the punch he landed in chapter 1, he never gets another fight after that. 20 chapters should absolutely be enough for the main character to do something.

Instead he ends up feeling like a side character in his own manga. Maybe Hajime would have ended up becoming the main character but the way the manga presents him is as the mentor figure. Tatsumi even went through some training so they were gearing up to some fights and took too long. This is a pacing issue that you have to blame on the actual manga because there was no excuse not to have him fight earlier. Just throw in some minions for one of the bad guys and we’re set.

To an extent the series wanted to be subversive with how Tatsumi was always ready to fight but then sometimes it would be a peaceful thing like a parking ticket. I think that’s good for a few gags but it wouldn’t be enough to cover the series longterm. This one wasn’t built to be a slice of life adventure even if the author wanted to pull that off afterwards. You have to learn into the battles because that’s what everyone is looking for here. Having another group was already a good start and you could do a lot with the aliens but the series just wasn’t preparer to do that.

Right off the bat I think what the series should have done was skip to the next arc first. Basically the heroes head into a bar where a girl there knows about aliens which shouldn’t be possible since the heroes mind wipe everyone after a mission. Well, she has been taking care of aliens and so Hajime wants to remove her memories and take the aliens while Tatsumi isn’t a fan of this. As payment for staying free the lady gives them intel on the other group but ends up getting murdered by a high ranking member of A3, Yutaka. This leads to Tatsumi being upset but Hajime saying they can’t make a move due to their job descriptions. This would have been a good way to introduce the hero group from the start and have Tatsumi quit for a while or declare that he will change the group. Give us a good reason to root for him like that and then the whole series would get more emotional.

That doesn’t happen though and the problem here is that every arc gives us more and more reason to dislike Hajime and his group. The whole group just looks incredibly shady and unlikable so why would we root for them? It feels like Tatsumi has to work for them or they will erase his memory so it’s not like he wanted to be here either. The biggest red flag though is when Hajime introduces us to the heads of the group. These are the most powerful members in the whole organization and most of them have completely disposable designs. You know those random characters in any show who don’t stand out and you know they are background characters immediately? That’s the kind of design I’m talking about here and that’s crazy because these are supposed to be the top tier epic characters. It just didn’t make any sense at all. Maybe by then the author knew the series was over but it didn’t feel like a ton of effort was put in there.

Even when Hajime introduces Tatsumi to his squad, the characters don’t really stand out there either. They’re okay designs I guess but you won’t remember any of them. Despite that, the art is actually really good. This feels like a very experienced artist who knows how to draw a good action scene. It’s just the designs that need work but otherwise this one is solid all around on the art front. The fights are good which is what you are reading the series for, it’s just a shame that the rest wasn’t quite as solid. Then this could have had a really good future.

Ultimately Tatsumi is a good main character. He can be a bit too passive and follows orders without making enough complaints but he is new to the alien world so I’ll cut him some slack. Give him a little extra time and he should end up doing a lot better in the long term. His overall motivation of wanting to protect his family is a sound one and so I wasn’t bored when he was on screen. He should have held his own easily enough. Then you have Hajime who is good at what he does. In terms of personality I find him to be a little too shady to the point of being a villain. Some characters act tough but you know it’ a bluff. With this guy I didn’t get that impression. Instead he seemed really serious about what he was saying and that’s a bit concerning. This is definitely not the guy you want to have your back.

The way he uses the gravity powers was interesting. Basically the way the power set works in this world is that the humans have manipulated the alien tech in a way to simulate super powers. Each person can use 3 equipments at once and Hajime opted to use 3 gravity sets at the same time. This lets him attract objects, negate gravity, and jump around using that as a way to propel himself forward. The fighting style with this was fun and he uses a cane which is a rare weapon for any fighter. Just make him a little more heroic and we’re in business.

There is a whole group of people working with the heroes but most are totally forgettable so we don’t need to get into those. Yumeko is the only one with a fairly big role as she ends up being a tough mentor for Tatsumi. She believes in using power to get her message across and definitely beats Tatsumi up quite a bit. The guy can never catch a break when she is there but she is also quick to help him out when needed. She’s a fun character and I expect her role would have only grown bigger as she appeared more.

Finally you had the main villain Yutaka but he is a character who gets hurt big time by the series ending fast. Basically in the final arc he decides to randomly take down all the villains on his own and cause a giant explosion to wipe out a bunch of aliens. Naturally this would wipe himself out as well and more aliens would still exist so it’s like he’s finishing his goal halfway. They do give us a reason foe why he suddenly made such a drastic move and it was a sad plot twist that he learned about. It still doesn’t make this feel any less rushed though. The final arc is the big invasion as the heroes rush the villains but it doesn’t feel earned and we don’t know almost anyone yet so it’s hardly emotional either. In the end Yutaka goes out like a chump and just isn’t cool at all.

I had a lot of issues with the series so this one probably came across as rather harsh. It’s because this should have been a really good title but ended up fumbling the bag almost immediately. In a lot of ways I dare say it was trying to be like Kaiju No 8 but without a lot of the things that made the other title so successfully. If you see this one in stores if it gets a physical release then I would recommend checking it out. You’ll still be entertained without a doubt even if you do see the lost potential floating around throughout the adventure. There is just so much that they could have done with this series but ultimately didn’t.

Now if the series did want to go for less of an action angle while still being serious throughout, then the only option would be to be more of a horror/suspense title. You saw that octopus image from earlier? The series has its jump scares like that and part of the tension is that aliens can be anyone. Some wear human puppets so you can’t tell and they can jump you at any time. Having the main character infiltrate different establishments while looking for them could have been a good idea. It’s absolutely an angle that the series could go for but it is fairly incompatible with huge power levels so again I would say that you remove the whole best assassin in the universe getting immediately defeated in the pre arc aspect out as soon as possible.
Overall, Aliens Area should have focused more on the aliens and the combat. Ultimately this one didn’t last very long but at the very least the art is good and the action scenes are fun when we get them. The series also has some crazy horror visuals that come in from time to time so it is trying to do a whole lot but never finds its footing in the end. sometimes you have to go slow and just knock one thing out at a time. If they ever brought this manga back I’d still be interested in seeing it continue. It is good…it’s just not Very good.

Overall 6/10

Kid Icarus: Uprising The New Myth of Light – The Mirror of Pathena Review

That title’s definitely a bit of a mouth full. You probably don’t need to write all of that out since part of it is almost like the full title that usually doesn’t make it over but I wasn’t 100% sure either way so I figured I would just do it like this. It works well enough anyway and what’s more important either way is the actual manga. The story and art here are definitely on point. You’ll definitely have a good time with this one although as a oneshot that means it is really over as soon as it has begun since it’s only around 20 pages or so.

Basically Pit had defeated the forces of evil a long time ago but for some reason monsters have started popping up again. The only way to stop them is to take down the leader. Palutena believes that it may be a powerful dog like creature which has popped up. It looks like the Cerberus but only has two heads. Is Pit really going to be a match for this guy? Also, he seems strong but is this creature really the leader or is there more to this battle than meets the eye? The chapter mainly focuses on this battle and then ends with a solid cliffhanger to keep you going to buy the game. It’s definitely handled well and gets you excited.

The artwork is pretty solid here with some real action all around so it’s easy to read. Granted, the scanlated version uses that blue tint that seems to happen when you turn a color chapter back into black and white so it can be a bit more difficult than it should be but you could see that the art underneath that was very solid. This is a title that definitely goes all out with the pages that it has. Realistically though I suppose you won’t remember this one for too long before you have finished it. That’s just the way that these things go because it’s really short but I like to think that this hopefully convinced at least a few people to buy the game.

The lore around Kid Icarus was always fun. You’ve got a lot of monsters and gods fighting it out and it’s like Nintendo’s take on the old Hercules myths. With Nintendo’s seal of quality it’s also not surprising that it’s so good. They never really give you anything sub par and I wish they would do more serious manga. The Mario and Kirby gag titles are an exception to this. When they bring their A game then you have great titles like with the various Legend of Zelda ones. You could absolutely do a good Kid Icarus ongoing story as well. I’d say that they shouldn’t even feel like they have to follow the game and can just do their own thing. There is so much to explore with the world and so many characters to introduce. It would be a whole lot of fun.

Overall, there isn’t much more to say here because of how quick the manga is. You’ll be breezing through this one in no time and I’d say that’s just a good thing. The story is on point and it never drags on. The characters are likable so oneshot or not, it covered every base here. The fundamentals are sound and it’s why I can confidently say that this would have been an ongoing. The ultimate purpose of a oneshot is to draw you in. Whether it is to sell a video game or just to try and get an ongoing from the oneshot, it has to grab you quickly because there aren’t very many pages. I would say that the game definitely succeeds in that.

Overall 7/10

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War Review

It is finally time to review the Kaguya manga! I finished this one back in 2022 but of course it is a pretty big title so reviews like this take a while. It was a title that really surpassed any ideas or predictions I would have had about it. I certainly wouldn’t have assumed it would have reached my top 15 of all time the way that it did but here we are. While the series may have limped its way to the ending with the final arc, the rest was all amazing and it’s a series with tons of replay value. It’s all super emotional with lots of great character development and writing all the way through. I don’t think we’ll see another series that’s part romance like this ever be quite as good. Kaguya just nailed the comedic romance bit.

The basic premise of the series quite directly follows the title. Kaguya is extremely wealthy and belongs to the Shinomiya family which owns a good chunk of the world. She is a member of the student council and has some of the best grades at school. Everyone knows her as the most popular girl that everyone respects but she has one secret which is that she is in love with Shirogane, the student council president. Meanwhile Shirogane’s family isn’t wealthy at all but he managed to study hard enough to go to this prestigious academy and even become the president. What he lacks in family reputation and status he makes up for in hard work and dedication. He hopes to eventually win Kaguya’s heart as well.

The thing is, neither one can admit to this because the first one to confess their feelings would lose the war. Love is a power struggle and so admitting your love first would cause you to be at a massive disadvantage. So they have to each scheme to get the other one to confess first but that is easier said than done. Can they pull this off or will they only end up getting into trouble? Snooze and you lose after all as someone else might show up so time is ticking. Additionally there are two more council members in the comedic Chika and the depressed Ishigami. Together this student council is going to have a lot of fun!

Right off the bat I have to say that I really enjoy the premise. See, you are automatically avoiding the “sudden” romance that destroys most romantic plots. The main two have liked each other for a long time now, in fact well over a year passes by with nothing happening in chapter 1 since they are too afraid to make any moves and that’s not even counting that they liked each other prior to the series starting. So this is a slow burn romance and there are no rebounds to think of. They’ve liked each other from the start and that’s just how it is. So already we’ve got several wins here. Now of course this is only focusing on their romance as not every romance here is great but the main one is important.

The contest also adds a nice spin on things since as the reader you know that both characters like each other but of course they don’t realize that. So that’s a fresh dynamic as well and you get to see their inner thoughts as they work on the mind games. That is the best success of the series which is that it also works as a very psychological series. The characters talk about what love really is and how the mind works as they all try to play each other like a fiddle. I always figure the one weakness of being too detailed is if someone isn’t a genius then the plan won’t work because it overestimates what the response will be. That risk is lessened since the characters are in such a distinguished school though.

Both Kaguya and Shirogane are at the top of their class too so they know what they are doing. Shirogane may have the slight edge in grades but they are really neck and neck. I also like the overthinking in the manga because it is fun to do that in real life as well. Like if a girl hands you a ticket to a baseball game. Is that a subtle date, just a friendly gesture, is it a test? You have to ask yourself a million questions in an instant and come up with the right answer all in a split instance. There isn’t time for hesitation or doubts since both would also work against you. The manga will freeze this moment as you see the everyday possibilities floating in Shirogane and Kaguya’s minds. A lot of the thought trails are very realistic as well.

Everyone does this to an extent because your mind is always active even when time is frozen. It’s why there are all kinds of time displacement techniques you can find online which are super interesting. Like trying to see how long you can keep your eyes closed and count up before you end up falling asleep or losing count. Losing yourself playing sports or video games and then trying to match that time doing something less fun. Your mind can easily trick you into thinking that one hour is quick in one moment and then long in another. It’s all pretty fascinating but I digress. Needless to say that the psychological elements here are fantastic without a doubt.

The artwork is also very solid. I will say that it is a series where you will notice the artist reusing character expressions and poses with different characters a lot, particularly if you binge the series. It is probably hard to avoid in a slice of life title like this though because there are only so many things you can do and ways of having the characters talk before it all starts to blend together. It’s always very clear what is happening at any given time though and the simple style works very well for the series. Even when there are long blocks of text and essays you are able to read them all without any issue. That’s the sign of a great title after all.

The writing is great and a lot happens here. The series initially starts off very upbeat with some drama but it’s mostly either in a parody kind of way or not meant to be taken too seriously. Gradually this begins to change as we get some origin stories that are legitimately emotional like Ishigami’s. Then this leads up to a climax that is very serious with high stakes in the last arc. I would say that the series is much better at the light arcs than the serious ones and that makes sense because it’s the kind of series that this was crafted to be. It got to be a really famous title because of all the witty banter and fun gags/writing. I can see why the author wanted to end on a serious note but the problem is just that it was hard to take things too seriously.

What I would have done is make the final arc less action packed. Yeah you heard me right, for once I would remove the action because it just didn’t feel right and gets a bit cheesy when you see the kids doing so well. Instead I would change this to be more of a mind game thriller. Have the heroes trying to find a loophole in the will or they have to go through a bunch of games in order to defeat the villains. The high stakes could be signing a contract that they will work for the villains if they lose or something. I feel like this would be much more in line with the rest of the series and would have worked really well. It would still have a serious tone and be something more like Liar Game than Indiana Jones.

For the comedy side, I won’t say every joke lands of course since that’s not possible but the reason this series is elite is because most of them do. The series has higher peaks in terms of humor than most titles could even dream of. The main cast is also very solid which leads to a whole lot of great banter and dialogue moments. The series would not be nearly as good if the characters weren’t solid so the series had the right priorities here. You get a strong core of characters and move from there. I liked all members of the student council quite a bit. Put Ino, Chika, and Ishigami in any similar setting and they likely outpace the main characters there. I’d then go a step further to say that Shirogane and Kaguya would shine in any setting, even one that is not similar. The characters are just really well crafted at the school and this includes the classmates. Only the villains aren’t very interesting which takes us back to the final arc again.

The series has its share of story arcs as well like with vacations or dealing with a romance but like an action series where each arc is clearly defined and I break them down, I’ll likely just incorporate those events while I talk about the character that it’s relevant too. So lets jump into this cast now and I’ll also talk about their respective romance plot and any important developments that came into play for them. This is a fairly long series so you can bet that a whole lot did happen over time.

Naturally we have to start with Kaguya herself here. After all the series was named after her so you could say that she is the main character. While you could say that, I would argue that Shirogane is still the true main character here. It’s pretty close to 50/50 but I just feel like we see his perspective just a tad bit more and he tends to jump start the biggest moments in the series. The dynamics between the two characters are what really causes the series to shine and I liked that Kaguya has a cold edge to her. Later on in the series we get to see her in her original icy persona and that worked really well.

I’d really be up for a prequel going into more details on that part of the saga. In a way there may not be many more details to show so I’m not sure how feasible it would be to make a long series but I’m sure they could at least do a mini series on it. We briefly see the dynamic after Kaguya retreats into herself but that’s it. Kaguya has several personalities within herself all fighting for control and I enjoyed the court scenes there. At the end of the day Kaguya is always someone who is ready to give good advice and really help out. She has really solid friendships and dynamics with all of the council members. It’s another strong part of the series since it can be easy in a series like this to miss one or two combinations but the series goes out of its way to make sure that each character interacts with each other and gets their own dynamic going.

The ending of the series involves Kaguya’s family a great deal so as you can imagine they really get to step in as well and we see how they had a real impact on her life and values. The school really helped her to become a lot more normal over time. The series also plays up how she can be naïve in some things well without overdoing it and making this an annoying trait. It also never forgets that she is a genius so she picks up on things really quickly.

Then we have Shirogane who really worked hard to try and stand out for Kaguya. It wasn’t easy but by getting the best grades and leading the council he put himself in a very good position there. I like his confidence which serves him well in battling Kaguya during their debates. Kaguya is better at planning and setting up intricate traps while Shirogane’s strength is in his quick reactions and thinking off the cuff. That ends up working well in challenges where she catches him on the back foot like with the umbrella trick. He has less family drama to worry about although throughout the series we know that something happened involving his mother but surprisingly that plot barely gets much of a payoff. She shows up at the very end but super briefly. This allows Shirogane to focus more on the main school adventures which works well enough though.

He also does take his job as president very seriously and is always trying to help the other students succeed. You can always count on him to do the right thing even if it means that he might lose some sleep. Managing to perform all his duties while leading the school in grades was really impressive. This guy really put in the work and never had any doubts of waivered in his path. He was just a really strong character through and through.

Chika is the main comedic character here although to an extent you can say they all are so that might be abbreviating her character personality a bit too much. She is meant to be a full foil to the other characters because she doesn’t overthink anything. She is quite intelligent but mainly just does whatever she wants and is always hard to predict. As a result she ends up being a great wildcard in their constant battles which works great to really expand the dynamics. Often times she will crush both of their plans and they have to scramble to set something up.

She doesn’t have a romance plot going on so she is able to just focus on being the comic relief. There is also a subplot where she fights the ramen kings and that was always entertaining. I am always up for a good ramen even if it’s not one of my favorite foods. I would end up eating it more like her as in I would just dive in while all the kings have very elaborate and intricate ways of doing this. Chika keeps the crew grounded and is always good for a lot of laughs. She knows how to manipulate people as needed given her family history of politicians and works in well among the group. Even her backstory is suitably humorous even while being a bit more serious.

Then we have Ino who joins in a bit later than the rest of the group. Her thing is that she is really big on following the rules. While it may sound like that would be easy for her to be integrated among the group you have to remember that while they are good at their jobs, they do mess around a bit. So what Ino brings to the table is that she often gets disillusioned with the group or misreads a situation causing her to panic. It takes her a little while to really get used to the group and stop panicking at the antics. She probably has the saddest backstory next to Ishigami’s as well so she had to go through a whole lot. Ultimately she did get through it all though and fit into the cast well.

I would say that she is a lot of fun either way and she does add a lot to the dynamic which is the important thing here. She interacts with Ishigami the most and given the composition of the group you would probably figure they will have a romance right? Well yes that is a big part of their plot but this romance is one that I can’t get behind quite as much. For one, I liked their banter as friends and rivals which would really be lost if they went that route. Additionally Ishigami already liked Tsubami a lot o it would feel a bit too soon for him to be changing sides like that. So this romance I could only possibly support if it didn’t happen until well after the end of the series like with a sequel title or something. Even then I would like them to delay it for as long as possible so we get more banter.

Of course this carries over to Ishigami’s side where I can confirm I wasn’t big on the romance there. His first one with Tsubame works reasonably well as him not really realizing his feelings of gratitude for what they were and falling for her. At least that’s the way I interpret it since she effectively saved his life along with the rest of the group and so that ended up turning into affection. I don’t think he would have really been ready for the relationship there and of course it would have also taken time away from him hanging out with the crew and just having fun.

As it is I really enjoyed the early Ishigami with how paranoid and depressed he was the whole time. He had a nice deadpan kind of humor that worked really well here. Still I did appreciate that he had one of the biggest character arcs in the series. I would even go as far as to say that it was the biggest because he almost completely changed character personalities by the end. He really became a new person after the whole cast helped him out and it was nice to see. The series has really good inspirational beats like that scattered throughout. You know that he’ll be fine going forward and gone are the days where he wasn’t sure of himself and basically got bullied into submission.

Hayasaka may not be a member of the council but I would say she’s the next biggest character here. She advises Kaguya on all romantic matters and is also just a great butler. She takes care of everything around the manner and serves all kinds of roles as needed. At school she even has her happy persona so that she can still guard Kaguya there. Ultimately this even leads to her getting a real character arc of her own as well as a bit of a tragic romance since she also likes Shirogane but you know there is no hope there. Some things just aren’t meant to be after all.

Her personality really stands out due to how serious she is. Even when she is putting on a mask, you can see the real her the whole time. She brings a whole lot to the table and I also liked the friendship she had with Shirogane by the end. In some ways they knew each other better than their best friends since they didn’t have to wear any masks or pretenses while around each other. At least not after Shirogane figured her out anyway. Hayasaka is a character who is easy to root for because she had already sacrificed so much in order to help Kaguya. She’s just a very selfless kind of character.

I wasn’t a big fan of Nagisa. Half the time it’s hard to know how genuine her romance plot even is because it feels like she just enjoys messing with everyone. Her boyfriend is no better. It’s hard to even know his name so because of that he’s always referred to as “Nagisa’s Boyfriend”. That’s not a very good look for the guy now is it? Both of them are mainly around just to be annoying or to break Maki’s heart since she liked the guy first. Well, snooze and you lose so I wouldn’t blame Nagisa for that one. I just felt like these two didn’t add a lot to the series and their gags were fairly expendable.

Now Maki is a character that I actually found to be very sympathetic. She just ended up liking the wrong guy. Basically he was taken so now she has to get over him but that’s a lot harder than it sounds if this is the person you really wanted to be with. The reason you think of the term rebound when someone moves on quickly is because it seems like that person wasn’t as important as you made it out to be. For Maki it hurts a lot because she was just a tad too slow and very nearly could have had him. Additionally he was the only boy she wanted and nobody else will do. Perhaps in time she will be okay but it’ll take a long time.

Unrequited feelings where one person just never confesses always ends up being really emotional and I find those romances to be really interesting. Maki took the high road in not actually confessing afterwards and that’s the right move because you do need to back off when someone is off the market. Usually this also comes with an unconscious filter where you stop being so attracted to that person but other times it can take a minute so you just have to calm down and keep your distance in the meantime. Maki does stay strong throughout and only breaks down among close friends. She’s a great character to look to on how to act when the going gets tough.

Then you have Kei who gets a decent role as Shirogane’s kid sister. Her role never gets huge or anything but she’s a fun enough character. She actually makes you feel bad for him since by all accounts he has done a great job of being her big brother but she tends to be in a rebellious phase when he’s around. I wouldn’t even say he’s being overprotective at any point but jut tries to be supportive. Fortunately she really looks up to Kaguya so that sort of helps balance things out. I would also say they do get along even if they banter from time to time.

Shirogane’s father is a guy who really got to be a lot of fun by the end of the series. He is always ready with something crazy to say and put everyone on the spot. The guy is also great at multitasking as we find out that he has managed to be a great gamer on the side. This guy has many talents and is just hilarious whenever he shows up so he ends up being one of the more likable characters. He also appeared just enough where you got to see him doing a lot but none of his gags or gimmicks ever got overplayed.

Osaragi is easily one of my least favorite characters in the series. She is a girl who doesn’t really know what she wants to do and ends up taking it out on everyone else. She doesn’t accept responsibilities for her own mistakes and has an excuse for everything. She gets a backstory but all it did was remind me how bad she was of a character. If anything I felt like she looked worse and worse as I went through the series even though you’re supposed to at least feel bad for her later on. It just felt like she caused all of her problems on her own and they kept on snowballing and snowballing the whole time. Turning her back on Ino was definitely the worst offense of all though.

Tsubami gets a big role near the middle of the series/end of the beginning. Ishigami liked her and she was a really big focus in his whole road to recovery. She definitely has a hard time making up her mind though and in a way she did a number on the guy even though she wasn’t a bad person. She just made some mistakes along the way. Ultimately I didn’t mind her, I thought she was good overall and a solid reflection of someone trying to do the right thing but just not knowing what to do. For example she did reach out to Ishigami initially to help him get out of his shell and enjoy life more. The problem is that the kindness meant so much to Ishigami that he fell for her afterwards and she wasn’t able to deal with it.

It’s hard to know what to do when someone likes you and you just can’t return the feeling. You feel a bit responsible if you were really friendly the whole time because even if that wasn’t the intention you start to wonder if maybe you were flirting a bit accidentally. So she didn’t end up handling this well for sure and ultimately just ran into one of the risks of being nice.

Mikado is a character who didn’t do a whole lot but he did have some potential. He is a tragic character in the sense that he has always liked Kaguya but you knew that he was doomed from the jump. I give him props for doing his best to watch out for her and help out in the final saga even though I was naturally hoping that they wouldn’t get together. The romance just wouldn’t have been a good idea there but he took it well and stayed gracious so that’s good. I had a soft spot for the character.

The Shinomiya villains are mostly all pretty similar. I can’t say that I cared much for any of them to be honest. Sure some were nicer than others or at least didn’t appear to be cruel for no reason but for the most part they were all just not very interesting. You really didn’t care about these guys in the slightest and it’s another reason why the final arc was weaker. You needed to give them some purpose and a reason to exist if you wanted them to enhance the arc. Maybe if they had been introduced earlier that would have ended up helping a lot.

Overall, There you have it. That’s Kaguya in a nutshell. It’s a top tier title with great characters and just a lot of fun overall. You will be investing a lot of time into the series and it is worth every second. It’s not every day you see a series like this and so I was sad to see it go. I’d highly recommend checking it out right now. Who knows, maybe some day we’ll get a sequel series although it doesn’t feel like one is needed. I would hope they could all go on some kind of big retreat for a month in the mountains or something so we could get a lot of fun banter there even though they are grown up. In a lot of ways having them in the school setting is part of the magic though so you do need that.

Overall 9/10

Super Smartphone Review

Super Smartphone is a title that really didn’t last very long. I suppose 23 chapters is still enough to cross the 20 mark but even still it’s a shame. It had a ton of potential and could have really ended up being a great title. It starts off trying a little too hard to be like Death Note. You have the really quirky detective like L but one who comes off as eccentric for no real reason and then Kyu as the rational genius who is lacking in emotion. Gradually the series started to find its own identity and even got a whole villain group…but then the series just ends. I’ll give the author credit for this though, he didn’t throw in any time skips or a rushed ending. It just ends as the battles are about to start although it mentions they will eventually come up with more chapters in the volume release to be scanned at some point.

The series begins by introducing us to a genius named Kyu who is super depressed. His younger brother went missing when they were kids and is presumed dead at this point. Now Kyu struggles to find the energy to do anything and just sleeps through life. One day he finds a special phone in his bag, a super smartphone if you will. It tells Kyu that it can search for anything in the world so on a whim Kyu uses it to search for a little girl who had been kidnapped recently. The phone is able to find her and Kyu manages to save her life just in time. Naturally he uses it to try and find his brother but mysteriously an error message prevents him from looking anything up about the brother.

The phone is cryptic about why the brother can’t be searched but does say that Kyu should start earning points. You earn points by using the smartphone and morality isn’t considered. For example using the phone to hack into someone else’s phone will grant you points and doing other things that a normal phone couldn’t possibly do. Kyu then uses his genius intellect to figure out that this implies other people have smartphones as well and it’s a race to the top. Whoever gains an unknown amount of points first will win. Earning points also unlocks new features of the phone like the ability to shield yourself from electronics and scanners. The downside to this is that this can also make it obvious who you are if you shield yourself too much. Kyu is also a a disadvantage because he doesn’t aim to commit any crimes with it while the others will without a second thought. Can he pull this off?

So like I mentioned earlier, I believe what hurt this series and got it cancelled is that it’s trying too hard to be the next Deathnote at the beginning. For example you get long conversations with the phone saying something cryptic and Kyu going off on a speech about how the phone let a lot of things slip with that one sentence. Yeah it can come off as smart but often times it also feels like he is making massive jumps in logic that only just so happen to turn out to be correct. It doesn’t hurt him as a character, I actually like his confidence quite a lot. It just feels like the author is taking shortcuts in making this a very cerebral series.

So what changes in the second half? It becomes a bit more of a thriller series. It’s still about the mind games of course but now we’re getting active battles between geniuses like in Phy Brain as opposed to the classic game of cat and mouse. This works for Super Smartphone a whole lot better than the former approach and really gets things moving in the right direction. The concept of a smart phone battle against others who can hack everything as well is just really interesting. The series does a good job of exploring the ins and outs of that too as each character has to be careful in how they attack. One user may be physically strong like a body builder, one might be rich and have a company to protect him. Others could be kids who never really use the smartphone and this makes them difficult to detect.

It should go without saying but you can’t tell anyone about the smartphone either or it will vanish and you are out of the competition. As long as you have the phone it is easy to get rich and achieve all of your desires but at the same time it also means you will be a massive target so that’s something that you will have to really think about. I’d say you could have made this a fairly long 100+ chapter series with the hero trying to find each owner every 20 chapters or so until you’ve found them all and had a big climax. I’d also expect them all to be fighting each other a lot and making for some good 3 way battles. You can’t really trust anyone with a smartphone after all so that would make for some really fun battles.

The art here is pretty good. It’s actually better than I would expect for an initial series like this. Unless the artist already did another series which is very possible, I tend to forget kind of quick who drew what but this looks like an experienced veteran. The chapters are really easy to read at least. The writing is good too. It may use some shortcuts but on the whole it does capture my attention which is important. I wasn’t bored during the read at all and it makes for a really good marathon.

Kyu is a good lead. He’s confident in his deductions and wants to find his brother which makes for a good character motivation. He does tend to get depressed quickly and while he usually bounces back sometimes it takes longer. It feels like this would have become a longer character arc if the series kept going. Like the way he represses his emotions on a daily basis makes the outbursts worse or something. In the end he starts to learn that sometimes you also need physical power in addition to your mind which is an important lesson. Yeah it would have been fun to see how he did in the battles to come.

His childhood friend Yuika doesn’t get a huge role but I bet she would have been appearing more if the series went on. She’s nice enough and always tries to help Kyu out. She’s just kept in the dark on the smartphone business so there is only so much that she can do. Then we have Nagi who is the L of the series. She’s got a bit of a temper and doesn’t believe in playing nice with people. She’ll jump into her statements right away and delivers them bluntly. She is unable to keep up with any of the smartphone holders at all though. We know she is a genius as they keep saying this a lot but it would be nice for her to get some wins. It’s understandable that she would be at a disadvantage for now so maybe they would build it up as her getting more wins down the line. Perhaps it’s realistic but she was a big underwhelming the whole time.

The main villain of the series is Zenichiro. He’s the first enemy smartphone user to make a move and the fun part about him is that he’s a rich millionaire celebrity. So even without the smartphone he had a lot of power. Just think of everything that he can do now that he has one? The possibilities are near endless and it makes things interesting for the battle with Kyu because beating him intellectually just won’t be enough. You’re going to need some muscle to get past his bodyguards as well. Zenichiro is also super confident in himself as well and it makes him a tricky opponent. The guy has a good amount of character development and was a lot of fun here.

Then there is Moura who is the worst villain in the series. He’s the classic not very smart guy who tends to get into trouble and is being manipulated because of that. I like the idea of not every owner being a genius but can’t we have a villain who is just of normal intelligence? I know they would probably get wrecked quick but it would be better than someone like this. Yes Moura gets a sob story and a lot of emotional character development but I never really ended up caring about the guy at all. He just came and went in an instant. He’s gone and then it’s time to move on.

Imura is super devoted to Zenichiro which is his whole gimmick so I can’t say that I was a big fan either. I mean it’s great that he’s loyal but the guy comes across as super desperate the whole time. You roll your eyes when he’s on screen because Zenichiro is so mean to the guy and doesn’t hide his disgust but Imura doesn’t realize this. I guess he’s not a genius in the situations that count.

The series ends as two of the other smartphone characters are introduced in Boken and Rei. Rei is a really timid character so she’s going to have a tough time in these battles so it’s good for her that Boken is here. Boken is smart and also a good fighter so physically he’s ready for anything. It’s safe to say that he’s not a super genius like Zenichiro and Kyu but he knows enough to get around and is used to using his phone. I expect he would have been a fun friend/rival to have around. He had a good first impression with me at least.

So in the final chapters we see that there are 12 smartphone users in all and we’ve only bumped one of them off. That means there are still 11 and the series was gearing up for some kind of round table elimination game. It’s all vague so we don’t know what it was but they mentioned something about voting others out. If it was an Among Us type game where they had to vote people out in each round that could have been really interesting. Almost like a Liar Game setup but the conditions and win criteria weren’t explained yet. We only just met all of these guys in quick one shot panels before the series ended. Then suddenly there were also aliens involved in the mix which was an interesting wrinkle.

I love the idea of aliens and such just running in to cause trouble and mess with humanity but it is an odd thing to add so suddenly at the end. They seem to have super powers that make them way too much for humans to deal with too like the ability to possess others and freeze people in an instant. Maybe this was actually going to take a really unexpected route and be an action series instead. One thing’s for sure, there was a lot of potential here so hopefully it gets a sequel series soon. If not, maybe the last few chapters will do more with this but at least it’s an epic cliffhanger to end things off with. This is the kind of ending you want to see as it keeps on building your hype for a sequel.

I do think the twist about what the smartphones are at the end was really lackluster though. I don’t think it was thrown in at the end because it was cancelled. To me this was planned from the start but eh….I wasn’t really into it. It could make things more personal in a way but since the A.I. are pretty much emotionless and just serve as devices the twist doesn’t enhance the story. I think doing it more like Wixoss would have been a lot more effective in having each device really feel truly unique. Who knows maybe that would be an upgrade once you got enough points, it’s hard to say.

I’d also like to see more 3 way conversations like the first battle with Zenichiro if we get a sequel. With 12 users out there or at least 6-7 left that we haven’t seen there should be ample opportunity for that. I did like the phone conversation quite a bit and that was before the series really hit its stride. So focus on fun dialogue battles like that in a tournament type setting and you’re all set. You could even structure it in a debate sense like how this one was about convincing the detective on who to trust. Do that in a battle where you have to convince the other smartphone users on who to vote out and we’d be seeing a lot of great dialogue.

Overall, I’d recommend checking this title out. It’s got a lot of detailed dialogue to really get you interested in what’s going on and the premise is unique. A super smartphone is a cool invention and I would like to see Shonen Jump try more cerebral series like this. With how successful Death Note was you’d think more series would be trying to give that type of story a big push and yet it doesn’t really happen. I guess it’s hard to not just jump in with another action series and of course I won’t complain about that since I love my battle titles but you could still do more like this. Of course it’s always a debate on if you should check out a series that’s been cancelled but I always recommend it. You’re seeing a story that didn’t make it all the way through and it’s nice to try and figure out why people didn’t like it and what it could have done differently. For the record, they should have introduced the 12 owners right away to set up this grand battle of wills right off the gate. It would have totally removed the Death Note comparisons and it’s also the most interesting part of the story so you would get everyone hooked immediately. At least if you ask me that’s the right way to go about it.

Overall 7/10

The Comiq Review

It’s time for a murder mystery title. This oneshot starts out more with the feeling that it’ll be a title about creating manga but quickly escalates from there. The art wasn’t my favorite, it’s going for a retro look but it’s still very clear and easy to read. You’ll be taken through a lot of twists and turns, I feel that some make previous scenes feel a bit odd but the manga encourages you to read it a second time at the very beginning so I suppose this is intentional. It’s a good manga in the end even if it could be more solid.

The series follows Ryota, an up and coming manga creator. His series is more of a classic Shojo title but the ratings aren’t great. He even cringes when he hears people reciting the lines out loud. I dunno, if you’re writing something shouldn’t you be proud of people talking about it? I would have thought he would have been more thrilled even if the lines are a bit cheesy. Well, one day his sister Mihana submits one of his chapters to the legendary author Seiya for review but the guy panics and shuts down the livestream.

It appears that something set him off and Ryota then starts to pick up the pieces. See, in this world there is a program where prisoners get to draw the backgrounds for your manga and so this guy named Baba seemed to have put in an element that looks eerily similar to a calling card left at the scene of a murder. Now the cops are interested in Ryota as well so Ryota is really in the middle of this. He can request a new artist or stop writing the manga but he thinks that Baba may be innocent and this is a last ditch effort to save himself. Baba cannot speak so he can only communicate through artwork. Can Ryota solve the puzzle or is he about to step into something much bigger than himself?

So you’ve got the direct case here and the objective on how to solve it but the series could have benefitted from being an actual series. It took a full two paragraphs to really describe the plot because it’s fairly involved and then the manga throws in a whole villain group near the end. This could have absolutely been a 4-5 volume series as Ryota gets closer and closer to the truth. Because it’s so short everything has to move fast so the pacing is really good but it also relies on the villains making some extremely sloppy mistakes in order to get caught.

One really nice thing about the way Ryota solves the case involves background noise which I thought was a clever way to tie everything together. Baba was giving hints through background art after all so background noise being the deciding factor was a good parallel. I’m not sure if that was intentional but I like to think that it was. Ryota’s also a solid character the whole time. He’s quick on his feet and ready to help out. If his gut instinct was wrong and he was helping out a murderer then that would be dicey but it’s important to follow your intuition and he doesn’t hesitate.

Ryota is able to hold his own when talking to the villains too and doesn’t back off. A character who isn’t nearly as good is his editor Mr. Aimochi. My problem with Aimochi is not just that he’s unhelpful but he actively hurts Ryota in the case by constantly getting in his way. He doesn’t want to give any info and practically threatens Ryota to stop talking about the whole murder case. I really don’t think Ryota was overstepping in those scenes and it is a shock to learn that your artist is a convicted murderer. You’d think Aimochi would have just been a little more understanding.

The detective meanwhile was a lot more reasonable. Yes he’s still got to follow protocol and is also a bit of an obstacle for Ryota to get past but at least he will listen once Ryota has his attention. Ryota’s sister Mihana is good even if she can be a bit harsh with his manga. When she submits it on the air and Seiya mocks it she turns on Ryota so fast. Cmon now that’s when you have to side with family over a celebrity. Seiya was clearly shook so she should have interpreted it as his being jealous instead. Now that would have been a good moment. She does help him out later on though.

As for Baba, I think he could have handled the whole thing much better. It’s great that he drew something but what were the odds of anyone really noticing it? That was like a hail mary with a 1% chance of working. Yes at this point it’s one of the only things he could do but before jail he could have made a move. It’s a bit hard to get too into this without spoiling the twists at the end but part of the issue is that Baba was very passive about the whole thing. If he had quickly told his side of the story through writing or something that would have helped a whole lot.

The whole villain group is also really crazy and out of the blue. They act really threatening and just feel a bit out of place here. When Mihana enters the group hideout it’s like a base right out of Shonen Jump. You’ve go several members and the big bad but how does nobody know about this place? Then the sort of blackmail/hold they have on Seiya is weak at best. I don’t really get why he was hanging around and still being a part of this. It’s like everyone was just trying to move on from the past but you’d think that he would have wanted big time revenge on the main villain right? Actually I think it’s time to jump into spoiler land a bit so skip the next 3 paragraphs if you haven’t read the volume yet. It’s time for a bit of a semi deep dive.

So basically there is no “Seiya” and that’s just the code name for the members of the Pumpkin Club. The leader is a rich girl who liked the “Seiya” we know in the present so she murdered his father and forced him to work with her. She also implanted chips into everyone’s heads to send them pain jolts whenever she wanted. Eventually he fell for one of the girls in the club and they tried to run off but the leader foiled the plan and forced the heroine to jump off the building and commit suicide. So…..Seiya then began to work for her again and covered it up while using Baba as a scapegoat.

Here’s where the tiers fall off the truck for me. Why would Seiya possibly not just murder the leader right then and there? She has two bodyguards yes but that’s it and they weren’t there at the scene of the crime. If you don’t want to be a vigilante then you go to the cops and try to convince them. The only thing you cannot do is continue to work for her and pretend that nothing has happened. Right through to the end Seiya is still doing her dirty work and threatening Baba.

I feel like the twists weren’t very well thought out. Sure, it’s intense to have a whole villain group running around and zapping people but did it really make a whole lot of sense? I don’t think so and even with a re read I don’t think that would change. Seiya’s actions don’t match up with the flashback at all. It just makes him look even worse as a character to be honest because he doesn’t stand up for himself at all. If you won’t even make a stand to avenge your friend then you’re probably never going to make a stand.

Well, we’re back from the spoilers. On a final note, as I mentioned the art isn’t great. The retro style makes for an interesting angle but I think it all could have still looked a bit more streamlined. The art is still very clear and easy to read though so you will have no problems breezing through this one. The writing is also sound enough to keep you engaged. I may not agree with some of the twists and the way things played out but you still want to read all the way through to get to the answer of the mystery and that only happens when you’re really engaged with what you’re reading.

Overall, The Comiq is a story that doesn’t go down the path you’re expecting it to go. This does mean you will be at the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next but the conclusion won’t quite live up to the hype. I think this just should have been an ongoing series instead of a oneshot, particularly with the group around. Otherwise I’d say that the best thing to do would be to not introduce the group at all. Play the climax straight with one person and it would flow a little better. Either way I would recommend checking this one out though, it’s certainly a quick read as it is.

Overall 6/10

The Elusive Samurai

The Elusive Samurai is a classic action tale set in the samurai era sort of like Kenshin. The setting reminds me of Dynasty Warriors the most to be honest though with fighting over the land. Old settings like this usually aren’t my thing and the main characters are a bit young so it can be hard to picture them going up against the stronger foes but the battles are definitely solid. The series is also certainly not afraid to get super intense that’s for sure. I’ll have a review up for the series once it’s over. We’ll see if the main character can survive on evasive techniques alone or if it’s time for a big timeskip soon!

Overall 5/10