Manga

Batman and the Justice League


Who’d have thought that DC comics would have another manga at long last right? This one’s actually got an ongoing plot and it’s the first time I’ve gotten to see the Justice League in this format. It’s off to a good start and I’m expecting good things to continue. I’ll have a review for this series up once I finish it.

Overall 7/10

Manga

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba


Demon Slayer is definitely a title that’s been making a lot of waves lately. The fire fight in the forest sure got popular and in general it seems to have hit the mainstream. The manga’s off to a good start, the art style may not be great but I’ve only read the first volume so far so we’ll see how well it improves. I’ll have a review up for the series once it finishes.

Overall 6/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Fairy Tail Gaiden Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 5/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Monsters, Inc. Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 6/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

The Nightmare before Christmas Review


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall 6/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Rockman X: Giga Mission Review


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

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

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

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

Overall 8/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

I Am Here Review


It’s time to look at a pretty short romance series. It’s a fun little read that I could recommend. At the same time, some of the characters can get a little tricky which I’ll get into in a moment. I’d say that the main takeaway here is that you can’t always trust the advice you get, but some of it will be legit. You gotta then act on it or the whole thing will have been a waste. It’s a tough situation for the lead for sure, but at least she has supportive characters at the ready.

So Hikage has never really stood out in school. People don’t notice her which makes her sad since she would like to have some friends. However it isn’t that everyone at school is mean, they just don’t notice her because Hikage is always hiding. It’s a bit of a loop as Hikage is too scared to approach anyone and nobody can approach her because she’s always hiding. Fortunately Hikage has two online friends who are always cheering her on. They encourage her to go and make a friend. Hikage takes a chance and actually manages to catch the attention of the two most popular guys at school. This leads to troubles with their respective fanclubs, but Hikage is determined to finally become a more pro-active person.

The message here is pretty good about escaping your shell and joining the rest of the world. Hikage is also less exaggerated in this regard than you would expect from most other leads. It’s handled pretty realistically and she seems like a nice person. Perhaps a little indecisive but that’s also something she tries to improve on as the series continues. While she’s not going to be a scene stealer nor is she my favorite character in the series I can’t really say that there is anything wrong with her. She’s just not really my kind of character.

Hinata is the main guy and his whole gimmick is that he’s really nice. He’s also the most popular kid in school because of how oblivious he is. The guy just wants to make everyone happy and fortunately for Hikage they seem to have a connection. He’s a little too oblivious though which holds him back a little. He really doesn’t notice what is going on around him and as a result is left in the dust at times. He should really have a clue as to what’s going on considering what he knows of Hikage but I suppose I should cut him some slack.

Then you have Teru who is Hinata’s best friend. Naturally that means he shouldn’t even try to start anything with Hikage because best friends don’t do that…right? It would be pretty sketchy and unfortunately the manga goes down that road which is unfortunate. I would have loved for Teru to have stayed as just a loyal friend to Hikage. It would have been a much nicer dynamic as well as a fresher one since the two main guys always happen to fall for the same person. This inevitably leads to a falling out between them which is unfortunate. I have to put all of the blame for this on Teru though. He gracefully chose not to pursue Hikage so to go back on that is basically a betrayal. I was disappointed in his character for doing something so underhanded.

As for Hikage’s online friends, they’re pretty reasonable. You’ve got Black Rabbit who is the nice one. He’s always encouraging Hikage and tries to keep her spirits up. Black Rabbit even gets a spinoff story at the end of the series where we see his point of view. Then you’ve got Mega Pig who is a little more direct and to the point. He wants to help Hikage as well, but speaks his mind and doesn’t beat around the bush. In general Mega Pig gives better advice even if it isn’t quite as calming. He tells you what you need to hear vs what you actually want to hear.

I Am Here isn’t a very subtle series though so you can probably guess most of what is going to happen right away. From all of the twists I’d say that only one of them really worked. One character’s plot didn’t end exactly like how I expected it to. For the rest this one is really going by the books which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’d say that the writing is pretty good here for the most part. You’ll be engaged enough to keep going and will want to see what happens next.

I also enjoyed the art for the series. It looks pretty clear and the artist doesn’t draw characters too similar in appearance so you don’t have to worry about mixing them up. That’s always the kind of thing that will make me drop the grade of the art. As it stands you won’t really have a problem trying to understand what will happen next.

The weakest part of the manga is definitely the romance though. First we have Hikage’s side of the story. She’s already with Hinata so as soon as Teru tries to get into the picture she should shut him down right away. In this case she was oblivious for most of it, but once she realized what was happening she should have flat out declined him. It may have made him sore for a while, but it was the right move. Then you have Teru who knew what he was doing from the start. He should have simply gave up on Hikage since he made his move way too late. Once the girl is taken that should be it. You can’t try to steal someone away. Even if you succeed you have to live with the fact that if you stole her away so easily then someone else can do the same. The only innocent one here is Hinata even if he’s fairly bland.

The plot of Hinata and Teru getting into it is also a bit iffy. They’ve been friends for ages so I like to think they should have figured out the plot a lot quicker than they did. I guess they were blinded by their emotions and all that but I feel like they still shouldn’t have jumped the gun this quickly. I suppose I should mention that there is a villain here. She tries her best to mess up Hikage’s life after being knocked out of the inner circle. It gets a little cheesy by the end, but I suppose she was a decent villain. Her plan may not have been amazing but it worked pretty well so you gotta give her some credit there.

Another thing I liked about the manga is that the classmates are actually realistic this time around. When they see that people are messing with Hikage later on they step in. They may not have done anything at first, but later on they are at least active participants. That’s a big upgrade from the usual guys who just stand around shaking their heads as things happen. These guys would actually talk even if they were super gullible during other scenes.

Overall, I Am Here is a decent manga. The romance definitely isn’t all that good, but otherwise it’s a decent story. It’s pretty short since there are only 2 volumes, but they’re large ones so a lot of content is still covered. I think the story would have been more interesting if it had gone in different directions but it is what it is. At the end of the day it still had an interesting dynamic with the online friends and there are enough unique aspects here to separate it from other Shojo titles. If it ever gets a sequel series I expect Hikage to take charge and be the confident lead she was meant to be.

Overall 6/10

Manga

Dr. Stone


I’ve finally started the manga that’s become quite the hit lately. Dr. Stone has some similarities to the Promised Neverland with the main cast being trapped in a dangerous world and looks to have a lot of potential. I don’t imagine it’ll end for quite a while, but when it does I’ll have a review at the ready.

Overall 7/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Shuriken and Pleats Review


It’s time to look at a recent manga from the creator of Vampire Knight. One glance at the cover and you’ll likely recognize her style. I definitely was not a fan of Vampire Knight and the sequel also hasn’t been too good so I can’t say that my hopes for this title were too high. Still, I figured it would be better since there were no vampires and I was right. After all, no vampires is always a win in my book and this title was no exception. It’s not great and the main romance is pretty dicey, but for 2 volumes it did a reasonable amount to make the characters decent.

The manga introduces us to Mikage who is a ninja protecting Mr. Rod from the various assasins who wish to have him taken out of the picture. The reason for this is that he has a grain of sorts that will end world hunger or something. The specifics aren’t all that important as Rod would much rather talk to Mikage about how she should be living a normal life. She does not want to do this though as it would be against the ninja code and additionally she would rather be by his side. Well, one day he is murdered and in his final will he had put for Mikage to live a normal life as his last wish. She heads to a school, but gets mixed up in the same case from another angle with a guy named Mahito who wants to continue Rod’s work. Can Mikage now get some closure on this whole thing?

Mikage may not have wanted to leave the ninja biz, but it’s probably good that she did. The organization definitely seemed dangerous in how seriously it took itself. Her father basically said that the ninja are expendable and has a very old time look on things. Mikage’s mother is a lot more reasonable but also very oblivious as she somehow doesn’t notice the whole ninja business. I don’t get how she wouldn’t realize what is going on, but her role is extremely small so I suppose by living in another state/country she is just kept out of the loop the whole time.

Mikage’s a solid heroine who means well and does her best to fulfill her role as a bodyguard. Her skills are quite sharp as she seems to be among the top 3 ninja across the organization. She is always ready for action and while she may be oblivious to day to day activities like being a school girl, she has definitely mastered her craft. I’d say there are some similarities with Yuki from Vampire Knight, but Mikage’s a more pro-active lead. She’s always doing something and is pretty heroic as she does jump in to help others even when she is off the clock.

There isn’t much of a supporting cast to bounce off of her though. Again, it’s only 2 volumes so I guess there isn’t much you can do about that, but the cast still feels really small. First you’ve got Mr. Rod who is shown to be a nice father type figure in Mikage’s life. He wants her to be happy and just seems like a noble spirit. He gets bumped off right away, but they were building him up to be pretty good. He’s decent for a while, but I have to give him a firm thumbs down by the end. It’s because of the romance plot but more about that later on. Then you have Mahito and he has the same issues as Rod. He seems nice enough but the romance part, while less dicey doesn’t really help his case much. I do prefer him to Rod though as he at least tries to fight and support Mikage. He takes a lot of Ls, but better to try and fail than not to try at all right?

Then you’ve got Suzuki who is a kid from school. Had this been a longer series I would have expected him to actually be one of the villains or something, but he turns out to literally just be a classmate who is bullied all the time. He likes Mikage, but surprisingly the manga doesn’t really bother with this romance. Suzuki is literally too bright for Mikage to look at so they don’t hang around much. I think he’s mainly around as a good segway to introducing the school and so Mikage will at least have someone to talk to. Finally we have Ichinosuke who is a skilled ninja who works for the side branch of the main family. He’s pretty skilled in his own right although he definitely can’t beat Mikage in a fight. The guy’s a decent villain, but he’s not the one calling the shots so for the most part he is just being manipulated. You won’t rise up to the top that way.

The manga isn’t really about the action, but we do get some good scenes during its run. The final fight against the main villain is pretty good and the manga did establish this guy as a solid threat. In general the art is pretty good. I think the artist did a better job of making sure that all of the characters don’t look too similar unlike good ole Vampire Knight where a bunch of people seemed to be identical half the time. I don’t think there were any characters here that I would mix up which is definitely solid.

Now for the romance. Well, this was definitely not going to end well from the start. Mikage likes Rod who has got to be at least double her age if not older. There’s no way to turn that into a solid romance. At least making it one sided isn’t the end of the world, but Rod’s answer isn’t as definitive as a no as I would have liked. I wanted a closed and shut “never” response from him. Then you’ve got Mahito and Suzuki who are vying for Mikage’s affections with no results. It’s a Shojo manga so at least the romance is handled more traditionally than a Shonen and nothing actually happens, but it’s definitely a plot that I would have cut out personally.


Overall, Shuriken and Pleats is a manga with one of those titles that I don’t totally get. Maybe Pleats is the kind of uniform that Mikage uses. Yeah, I could have googled the term, but I didn’t so I’ll leave it to guesswork for now. It’s a fun enough title to check out and 2 volumes isn’t going to cost you a whole lot of time anyway. There’s not a whole lot here to offer you beyond a good time though. It’s definitely not a game changing Shojo manga, but I do like the premise and it definitely doesn’t drag on. The ending may have fallen completely flat for me, but up til then it was a solid experience and I’d lightly recommend checking it out. At the end of the day it didn’t make any of the big mistakes like fanservice or animal violence so there’s no reason to give it a thumbs down. I don’t read a whole lot of one shots/mini series so it’s always good to add another one to the roster. Maybe the author can make a sequel to this one someday. There’s a lot of fun themes that could be expanded on here like Mikage just hanging out at school or rival ninja groups coming in for fights.

Overall 6/10