I’ve now started the Monster Hunter series! The first volume was pretty solid. It had a good array of action. It will have to be careful with how it handles the monsters, but the series definitely shows promise. I’ll have a review for it when I finish the series.
Well, I have started the Black Clover anime alongside the Toonami viewers. It had a pretty solid start with the first episode. The animation and music appear to be on point and as the series goes on we should get many more fights and characters added to the mix. It’ll be a while before this series finishes, but I shall have a review up when it does.
It’s time for a pretty fun manga that went under the radar and had to hurry to a rushed conclusion. It’s a shame, but I can see how people never gave it a chance. Personally, I always thought it was a manga about competitive hip hop dancing. I don’t know why, but it just looked like one thanks to a screencap on Mangastream. I didn’t learn better until I got to read a few volumes from the library. It’s a series that takes a few different twists compared to your average Shonen and the series was very ambitious. Unfortunately, it just couldn’t last long enough to unleash its full potential.
The main character is Ageha and he’s your average Bully hunter for hire. He takes out the bullies as long as you can pay him. One day he notices Anamiya getting bullied by a few other girls and saves her wallet. She dashes off, but not before asking him for help. The next day she goes missing and the town goes on full alert. Ageha decides to call the number of a mysterious card that he received and solves its puzzle so he can get some answers. The next thing he knows, he is whisked away to a desolate world that is overrun by monsters. Anamiya is here, but with a completely different personality as she is very cold and antagonistic to the rest of the characters. Still, she needs Ageha to help her clear the game. If you die in the game you die in real life!
There are a few rules. One: They just have to live through it. Two: Clear the daily missions. Three: Tell nobody. As long as they follow those 3 rules, they will be allowed to leave the game in peace. Of course, this is difficult since there are monsters everywhere as well as an evil organization that is bent on taking over the Earth through any means necessary. Fortunately, this world amps up everyone’s natural psychic abilities and you can gradually learn how to use it for combat. Along the way, a kid Ageha used to bully, a rockstar, and a random joe are brought to the world as well. Technically, a bunch of people are brought in, but the rest are all slaughtered almost instantly by the monsters. Hey, you can’t save em all right?
At first the manga plays out like a survival horror. The humans have no business fighting giant monsters and basically just have to run and hide. Anamiya is the only one who can fight them and even she can’t take on too many of them at once. If the series had stayed like this, it could have certainly gone for an Attack on Titan vibe. Honestly, it could have maybe worked, but I’m glad the manga shifted gears into full action instead. Once the characters all got powers and the monsters were phased out in place of humanoid opponents, the manga truly began to excel.
It plays out a lot like Hueco Mundo in Bleach. The heroes get in really large scale battles against the enemies. The series jumps between the present and the future a lot. As you’d probably expect, the future has all of the best scenes and fights. The technology doesn’t really change this time, but everyone is just a lot stronger so the visuals are more spectacular. This series really knew how to draw your attention the whole time. Lets quickly go through a bunch of the characters.
First up is Ageha. He’s a good protagonist even if he definitely doesn’t care about being a hero. Lets move past his childhood where he was apparently a bit of a bully. He does act like your typical main character for a while as he tries to save everyone and does his best to complete the game. What separates him from most is how absolutely ruthless Ageha is. He’s totally on board with destroying any opponent who gets in his way. Some of the villains comment on this as Ageha will go for a kill shot right off the bat. Given the stakes and all, it’s easy to see why, but not something that all main characters will go for. He embraces his dark abilities from the start and never enters into a self doubt phase. All of these elements together make him a very engaging lead. You can draw a lot of similarities to Yusuke Urameshi.
Amamiya is the main heroine and she was always rather odd. We find out the reason why by the end as she has a split personality. One side of her is very shy and timid while the other is aggressive and outgoing. She starts to lose control of her other personality by the end, but eventually gets it back. You could say that the two sides of her made a truce to share the body and each gets a turn now. It’s an intriguing concept anyway. For the most part, the more aggressive one is naturally better although the flirting can be a bit much. I’m glad that Anamiya can fight, but she’s just not a very charismatic heroine.
The same can be said for the big rival of the series. That is Asaga and he is probably the most soulless rival I’ve ever seen in a series. He barely even counts as a rival since he is never in Ageha’s league to begin with. He has a lot of brute strength and that’s how he wields his psychic powers. He just has no real personality though besides possibly liking the main heroine. Ageha’s gravity abilities are both stronger and more versatile. There’s just nothing Asaga can contribute to a fight and he was basically written out of the series for a while as he had some adventures on the alien planet by himself.
Next up is a character whose development never really got to end. Oboro is a famous pop star who got into the game and began to excel. He can heal others which is incredibly useful and his abilities began to morph into disintegration. He can also heal others too well which results in them merging with other monsters and dying. The series was really hinting that he was going to turn evil and he was beginning to fit into the rival role. Then…the series just ended and he never really got to have any closure. I think he barely even got a final fight if he did at all. I did think the character had a lot of promise though and he was probably the best supporting member.
Kirisaki’s essentially the scaredy cat of the group. Every series seems to need one and he fits the bill. His ability is that he can sense the future as long as he is in danger and this allows him to dodge any traps. Think of it like a very good Spider Sense and you get the general idea. This isn’t the kind of character that I’m typically a fan of though so I’ll have to give him a thumbs down.
Now lets talk about some of the villains. Miroku is the big villain in the series and he’s certainly a strong fighter. He doesn’t have a whole lot of personality and can come across as generic, but I’d say that he’s good enough. His design’s not bad. Grana is the strongest member of the main villain group so he’s second only to Miroku for most of the series. He’s sort of like Zaraki from Bleach and I like his personality. He’s always itching for a fight and he can dish it out as well as he takes it. That makes for a pretty good villain if you ask me. Unfortunately, as the story goes with most of these characters, he didn’t get to do a whole lot.
Junas was one of the most impressive villains. He went up against quite a few of the main characters and kept on rolling. His design is on point and he made good use of his abilities. WISE was very fortunate to have him on their side. There’s not much to say about Uranus. He’s another member of the group who puts up a good fight, but doesn’t get nearly as much screen time as Junas. Finally we’re up to a villain who did get a lot to do. Dholaki was probably Ageha’s first real challenge and the guy kept coming back for more. He would train and learn new abilities to stay relevant. He had a good work ethic for a villain. Shiner was another member of the group and he also got a good role. I’d say that he was maybe a little nerfed by the end of the fight, but he did a good job weakening the heroes.
Mithra is basically the real final boss. She’s a very imposing entity and her true form helps increase the stakes of the series. I definitely think just about all big action titles should end with a big cosmic being suddenly showing up. It makes the final battle really feel like a final stand as opposed to just another fight against the bad guys. Mithra didn’t appear all that much, but she is memorable.
Yusaka is technically a pretty minor villain as he doesn’t appear much, but he was a pretty critical traitor against the heroes so he was memorable. He takes down a lot of humans in a rather brutal action scene and proves to be a lethal opponent. He’s not really my kind of villain, but he made for a good fight scene. While his design isn’t as impressive as most of the villains, it makes sense since he is basically just a human.
There was a group of kids in the future who were the last defenders of humanity. They were a pretty fun bunch and all of them got some good screen time. Frederica is a fire expert who’s extremely confident and she always managed to live up to the hype. I’m not sure I’d call her the strongest member despite her boasts, but she’s definitely fun to have around. She’s effectively the leader of the team. Marie is the nicest member of the team which also happens to mean that she is basically the weakest. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really a fan of hers. She’s not a bad character, but rarely seemed to help out all that much. She did contribute of course, but I would have liked to have seen more action from her.
Kyle looks up to Ageha and pretty much modeled his fighting style after him. Kyle’s a hand to hand specialist who attacks with incredible power. I’d say that he is the most powerful member of the group and he sure did a good job whenever he would appear. He definitely grew a lot from his days as a kid. Shao probably got one of the best fight scenes in the series as he fights with strategy as well as power. He’s about as strong as Kyle and really helps the group have an edge over the villains. Every time you get a strong fighter like that, it really helps everyone’s odds. He’s rather quiet, but it’s not about confidence. It’s simply a choice in his case and he lets his actions speak for him.
Nemesis Q was more annoying than helpful. I still don’t understand what the point was of calling everyone to the game world, but destroying them if they told anyone. By the end of the series we learn that she is basically stuck in a wheelchair and just gets her thrills out of mocking Ageha. She got some kind of origin story, but it still seems like the best plan would just have been to tell the heroes what was going on. They could have changed the past a whole lot easier if they knew the details.
Matsuri was one of the only players who ever got out of the game alive. As such, she knows about it, but isn’t really allowed back. She can still help in the real world though. Her abilities are potent, but not quite as deadly as most of the main characters. She essentially got surpassed by everyone as the series went on, but did well in the mentor role. Kagetora is her friend and essentially a bodyguard who also got some psychic abilities. He handles psychic crime in the real world, but has a tendency to get in a little over his head at times. His regeneration ability at the end is really handy though since it fits in with his constant aggression.
Tatsuo is a friend of Asaga’s who got stuck in the game. In the real world he was super frail, but he was able to excel in this other world as a hybrid monster. At first he is evil from the experience, but gradually learns to accept the situation and becomes a hero. He’s a fairly decent character, but one that still just feels more like a trope than an individual. Asuka is Ageha’s father and he actually shows up to fight by the end of the series. His ability has a lot of drawbacks and can’t be used for too long, but it’s very powerful. He is one of the only characters in the series who is able to use a certain burning/ascendence which amps up all of his stats. The series may not have explained too much about why he knows so much about the psychic wars and all, but it was nice to see him help out. He’s not a very nice guy at times though so that hurts his likability.
So the character cast is fairly decent. I like Ageha and the Actor worked fairly well as a shady rival. I don’t think the author initially planned for that subplot to just end like it did, but you never know. The rest of the heroes were rather weak compared to most titles though, but fortunately the villains held their own. They were all pretty cool for the most part even if I started to mix them up. It’s important that Ageha was good since if the main character had also only been standard, it might have had more of an effect on the series. What helped to compensate for this was the solid artwork throughout. The artist has a nice clear style that works well with the series. It’s also nice since Ageha’s powers could have easily turned into something very wavy and chaotic. With a lesser artist It would have been easy to get lost during the action scenes.
The series could get pretty intense like the massacre inside the government base. You couldn’t help but feel bad for the government the whole time since they were just so out of their league but they kept on trying anyway. At the very least, you have to admire their commitment. We even got the cops involved at one point as they try to arrest Ageha, that was fun. There’s a lot to like in this series which is why it’s a shame that it never hit 20 volumes.
Overall, Psyren is a fun action series. It won’t go down as an all star like Dragon Ball Z or Kenshin, but I’d say that it did a really good job. The idea of fighting in the future is always a good one. Reborn! probably did the best job with it, but many titles have pulled it off. The action was large in scale and Ageha readily embracing his dark abilities was nice as well. It’s a shame that the series ended so suddenly since it still had quite a lot of potential left in it. Sometimes we just don’t get to see it all though. That’s just the way it goes. I’d definitely recommend checking this manga out. It’s pretty epic and I’m confident you’ll like it if action is your genre of choice.
This Yugioh manga may have succeeded in making the most changes out of all its predecessors. I’m always glad to see it have a brand new plot since it makes the manga more exciting. That being said, I don’t really like the new personality they gave Shay. While the manga doesn’t look to be as exciting as the anime, it’s very early on and is a solid title regardless. After all, Yugioh duels in any context are awesome! I shall have a review for this series once it finishes.
Gun Blaze West was a short series that was abruptly ended before it could get past 3 volumes. It was a reasonably fun series so that’s too bad, but it didn’t really do anything to separate itself from the pack. The series probably should have also started with the post time skip plot and then had a flashback for Viu’s origin once the series had gotten popular. That’s the safer method I’d say. We don’t have a whole lot of Wild West manga titles so this does still help to fill that need. (Is it really a need though?
Viu has always wanted to be an awesome gunman. Unfortunately, he simply didn’t have the skills for it as a kid. A wanderer named Marcus showed up one day and said that he’d train Viu if he could run to a mountain and back before the sun set. It was the only way to prove that Viu could physically handle the rigors of being such a fighter. After all, having great aim is good, but it’s not enough to win tournaments if that’s all that he has. Unfortunately, Marcus is then seemingly murdered by a villain named William and Viu’s life is changed forever. After avenging Marcus, Viu trained for several years until he could pull off the run. Now it was time to go enter the legendary Gun Blaze West and prove that he is the greatest gunman in the world.
The actual plot is rather generic, but we’ve seen many great action titles come out of a standard plot. Viu’s mentor dying and the long time skip are rather reminiscent of Beet, but the latter also had 5 star fights and writing to back it up. Not to mention that Beet also had superior art. I was a little worried at first because if Viu had not grown up there was no way that I could accept him beating professional fighters. After the time skip, it was at least a little believable.
Viu is a reasonably good character. He likes engaging in fair fights and never backs down from a challenge. He’s pretty noble and will defend others if they aren’t strong enough to do so. He doesn’t overthink the situation like his partner Will does and that helps him a lot. He’s a good character and hits all of the right notes, but that was where the buck stopped. He did have a good rage mode though so the author squeezed that in before the series ended. Will is the main partner during the series and he’s usually more annoying than helpful. He’s the kind of guy who sees a villain pick a fight with the heroes and then call both parties out for being disruptive when it’s obvious who is at fault in the moment. He hesitates a lot and doesn’t really like fighting all that much at first. He does get better at that, but I still don’t think he’ll last too long using a rope in a gun fight. It’s just not going to work.
Colice is the final member of the trio, but ironically she doesn’t get to appear all that much since she was introduced so late. She was clearly meant to be a main character in the long run. She’s fairly skilled and is confident of her skills. Luckily Colice got to have her own fight before the series ended so she was able to back up her tough talk. She probably has the most personality out of the three main characters and I believe she would have helped the series out quite a bit. I was a little surprised when Marcus died so early on, but apparently the author was going to bring him back anyway. There’s a lot of hinting for it at the end of the series so much that they basically say it in the final page. Honestly, I don’t see how he would be all that relevant later on since he wasn’t very strong, but maybe he was going to turn evil for that added emotional value.
The Baron is the final boss of the series even though you never would have guessed it at first. It was just the series getting cancelled that suddenly made him the big boss. He’s fairly powerful and should have easily beaten Viu. The good thing about this is that he probably would have appeared again later on and this way he would still be relevant as far as his power level is concerned. He was the final boss, but acted as an instructor and can’t be counted as one of the villains. Those guys are coming up.
I feel like the author completely didn’t care about the villains and just added them because he felt that he had too. The first major villain was William and that’s not a name that will strike fear into your heart. William is not event that tough since Viu in his kid days was able to take him on. Next is Kevin. Wait…Kevin? Yes, I’m serious and the less said about this guy the better. He’s simply not that interesting and is another generic gun fighter. Honestly, this is what would have been a tricky part for the series. With so many gun villains running around, the author has to put a lot of effort into them so that they don’t all end up being the same. Giving them generic names like William and Kevin sure isn’t helping.
The only villain in the series that I actually liked was Thunderarm. He’s a cool Android/Cyborg who wants to obtain Gun Blaze West and will do anything that he can towards this goal. He has a pretty good fight with the Baron and it’s probably the best fight scene in the series. His electrical attacks were very potent and he was a nice change of pace from the other fighters. It’s a shame that he probably would not have appeared again, but it was nice while it lasted.
This series was cancelled so fast that the plot had barely started. The first two volumes are mainly pre arc shenanigans and then the 3rd was for explaining how things would work. We only got to wrap up the very first challenge and then the series ends with the heroes heading off for the next mission. It was probably pretty sad for the author to see it all end like this without a proper conclusion. I suppose the author probably could have tried to rush it all into that last chapter, but felt like the ending would have been cheaper than having them just get ready to roll out. At the very least, the ending that was chosen does leave room for a sequel series if the author ever wants another attempt at this.
Gun Blaze West’s artwork was pretty decent. It’s not amazing, but it’s not quite as rough as you would expect. You can follow the fight scenes just fine and the character models don’t get all crazy during the fight scenes. It’s not exactly Bleach, but it’ll work well enough. At most, some of the characters do look unintentionally silly, but that would have likely corrected itself over time. The Wild West setting is hardly my favorite though so I can’t say that the scenery is all that fun to look at. I like to think that a gun series in NYC would have done a little better and could have had a grander scale.
Overall, I had fun reading this series. It’s nothing great, but it’s not bad either. It didn’t really make any mistakes and while the specifics of the series can be forgettable, I doubt you’ll forget the premise or the main characters. It’s a shame that the series was cancelled, but I suppose if they never cancelled any titles, we would have missed out on a lot of great ones over the years right? I’d recommend checking it out and since the series is only 3 volumes, it’s not as if it’s a great time commitment. Just watch for volume 3 and you’ll be able to tell that the series was cancelled. It just abruptly ends. At least the author still has Kenshin and its spinoffs.
I’m afraid that this Shonen turned out to be a flop. The art isn’t half bad and the action is already starting up, but the main character has doomed this series. Unless he is written out, I don’t see the series going very far. Imagine a series like Naruto if the main character was Jiraiya or Master Roshi and then you’ve got this series. I’ll have a review for this series when it’s over so then you can see all of the problems that I have with it in more detail.
I’ve now started World Trigger! I’ve currently finished the first volume and it’s off to a decently good start. The series is fun and certainly has potential to be one of the big ones by the end of its run. I’m just hoping that the main neighbor’s facial expressions gimmick stops soon because it is pretty iffy. Aside from that, the action scenes are solid so far and I’m digging the cool costumes. I’ll have a review for this series when it finishes..someday.
It’s time to review a manga title that I consider to easily be one of the best titles of all time. This was a series that I started all the way back in 2011 and finally finished a few months ago. It essentially has everything that I could want in an action title along with an excellent main character. The Kenshin manga was on the road to success from the start and never looked back.
The series is about a wandering swordsman known as Kenshin. He used to fight in the wars, but has now decided to retire to a quiet life after traumatic events, which are eventually told to you during a mini flashback arc. He believes that peace will always be better than violence, but knows that it is not really possible to have one without the other. He wanders across a dojo where he meets up with Kaoru. After he helps her take out a random thug, he decides to stay there a while.
Essentially, the first part of the manga deals with a lot of one shot adventures. Kenshin meets up with several of his soon to be rivals like Sanosuke, Saito, and Aoshi. He takes down several villainous groups and helps people out as often as possible. Kenshin solidifies his standings as a peaceful warrior who only fights for justice and his friends in the current days. That being said, his opponents could not accept this.
A villain by the name of Shishio has gathered a group of the most dangerous villains on the planet to aid him. He wants to purge Kyoto into madness and he gets ready to basically kick off some new wars and battles with the destruction that he is causing. Kenshin is asked to help out and he reluctantly goes, but Aoshi will stand in his way and Shishio ends up proving to be one of the strongest enemies that Kenshin has ever faced. Can Kenshin defeat him or have his skills simply been lost with how long he’s been inactive?
The final arc deals with an enemy from the past. He blames Kenshin for the death of his sister and wants him to know what it’s like to despair. Kenshin warns his allies that this man is dangerous and that things may get personal. There are a lot of fights and even some casualties as the arc goes on and Kenshin loses his will to fight. Can he regain it in time or are the heroes doomed?
Naturally, a whole lot happens during the span of the series as it is 28-29 volumes. While there are only 2 big arcs and a lot of mini ones, one could make the case that some of the mini arcs were basically real ones. It has been years since I read some of the original adventures although I did re read the first several volumes a while back. This is a series that has a very large amount of replay value.
Let’s get the technical aspects out of the way first. The art is spectacular and it is why the fights really end up popping out at you. The fight scenes can hold their own against any other manga title and they are long enough where you can really enjoy them and get a feel for how each character fights. Having good art is almost half the battle for a good manga series.
Naturally, writing is the next half and Kenshin certainly excels there as well. The characters are all pretty mature in how they handle things and most of them are very likable. Another good sign of this is how the series virtually has no fanservice. That was certainly impressive considering how long the series went on and it’s always good to see a series that doesn’t need to rely on such cheap tricks.
There are many cool/hardcore moments scattered throughout the series. I always get hyped when a scene like that is handled well, which is why I like Bleach so much and enjoy Kirito a lot in Sword Art Online. That high level of confidence and great moments before fighting an opponent can make a big difference between a good character and a great one. Whenever Kenshin, Aoshi, or Saito gets serious, you know that something cool is about to happen. Those characters don’t mess around and you’ll always be treated to a great action scene.
My favorite part of the whole series was probably the final gauntlet against Shishio. First, Saito attacked him and was crushed, then Aoshi took his turn and was also defeated before Kenshin jumped in. Sanosuke also took his chance there. I always like group scenes where a bunch of heroes run at one villain only to all be thrown back by his overwhelming power levels. This was similar to the big Aizen battle from Bleach, but to a slightly smaller extent as Shishio took out 3-4 fighters instead of the 10+ that Aizen defeated. Still ultra impressive though and a truly great scene.
Time to look at some of the characters as the cast is one of the reasons why the series excelled. Kenshin is essentially a perfect main character. He started out as a samurai who destroyed many people during the war. It was war so he just went along with it, but after it all, he decided to never slay another person again. Circumstances made this tough as many criminals continue to get in his way in the modern day, but he does his best so spare them and only destroy when necessary. He doesn’t even fight unless pushed into that situation. At one point, the weight of his past crimes start to drag him down and he enters a hopeless state, but he is eventually shown that he can move past that.
Kenshin’s story is one of redemption and I’m glad that it has a happy ending. He went through a lot, but he ultimately accepts what he’s done and that he can still make sure that he lives a good future. He’s certainly a main character that you can look up too and he stands up there with Goku and the others as a very noble hero. He’s also very skilled and while he is a human, there are very few mortals who can swing a blade quite as efficiently. With a sword in his hand, Kenshin can be a threat to anyone.
Kaoru is the main heroine. While she gets a decently large role, she isn’t quite as integral to the plot as some of the other characters. By and large, she’s a good character even if she doesn’t have as much personality as other heroines. She can fight to an extent and she is always there to reassure Kenshin and give him some confidence. Kaoru’s certainly a decent character and beats Yahiko. I can’t say that I ever became a fan of the kid. He looks up to Kenshin and wants to be a hero like him someday, but he will just need to get a little older first. He gets his big moments as he fights serious opponents more than once, but it’s typically just cheesy in the end.
Sanosuke is the friendly rival of the series. Kenshin has several in this series, but Sanosuke’s the closest to a friend. I would say that they are friends and rivals. Unlike the other characters, Sanosuke doesn’t use a sword and just fights with his fists. He’s not quite as strong as any of the heavyweights in the series, but he’s much better than most of the average fighters so he’s essentially in the middle. I like Sanosuke and he always fights with honor. In another series, he could have been the best character, but he got trapped in this manga so he has to settle for 4th place. That’s just how good the cast is and Sanosuke could easily hold his own series.
Saito is another one of the rivals for Kenshin and he’s easily the most antagonistic of the bunch. He works with the cops and respects Kenshin as a fighter although he believes that the hero’s senses have dulled. Saito fights for the side of justice even if his methods make you wonder a little. He may be a little over the top at times, but he’s certainly a very likable character. Easily one of the best in the series and I’d put him as number 3 for me. In case you were wondering, I’d say that Kenshin is number 1.
As for my second favorite character in the series, that would certainly be Aoshi. He was my favorite rival of the group. While he started out as a bit of a villain, he quickly turned into the rival who fights on the side of justice. He unfortunately did not get a huge role in the series and would be gone for large amounts of time, but when he did show up things would typically get very epic! His fighting style was a lot of fun to see.
Misao is a kunoichi who works with Aoshi at times. Like Yahiko, she wants to be a pretty good fighter. She’s decent at the moment, but far too young to go up against any of the big bads. She’s more charismatic than Yahiko, but still not quite on the level of the other characters who I just mentioned. Megumi is a supporting character as well, but she really doesn’t do anything in the series. She heals their injuries when necessary, but for the most part her path just doesn’t cross with the others.
Jin-E was the first real villain of the series and I actually liked him. As a villain he’s certainly imposing. He’s not incredibly powerful or anything as he’s taken down in an instant, but the design was neat and we needed a villain to go down quickly to show off how powerful Kenshin was. To that extent, I’d say that it worked out quite well.
Shishio was one of the true threats in the series and his fighting abilities were second to none. You could even make the case that he is stronger than Kenshin since Kenshin has grown a little weaker over the years. While his goals would have likely been impossible since the army would have eventually blown him away, he did do a good job of forcing Kenshin to make a move. He was certainly an imposing figure and if not for the fire illness that plagued him, he certainly could have won. I can see why this guy was a fan favorite.
Yumi is always at Shishio’s side. I can’t say that she was very good or had a whole lot of character here, but most of her character development was in the spinoff/prequel that came out a while back. At least she is loyal and Shishio knows that she would never betray him…unlike some of the other members. Seta is very ambitious and is actually a lot tougher than you would have guessed upon seeing him for the first time. While he is one of Shishio’s generals, he’s at Shishio’s level when it comes to a fight. He actually had the upper hand against Kenshin for a while due to his insane speed. While not as cool as Shishio, I can definitely respect this guy as a villain. He’s always very smug though so you couldn’t wait to see Kenshin take him down.
Usui was a pretty decent villain. I liked his gimmick since he was a defensive fighter in a series where everyone relied on offense. Naturally, he didn’t last too long against Saito, but I still liked the change of pace there and I remembered him, which is always a good sign. Anji was the power hitter of the group who used hand to hand combat in his fights so you can imagine who he fought. Anji was an impressive villain and he put up quite the fight. He had some honor, which is always good and made for another solid member of Shishio’s team.
Cho was another member who was interesting. He certainly wasn’t much of a threat next to the other members, but he had fun with his fights and was still talented. Fuji also deserves a mention as his size was quite impressive, but he had the unfortunate luck of fighting Kenshin’s master. Kenshin’s teacher was actually really cool and it’s a shame that he did not get to appear any more. Finally, a sensei who was actually serious, cool, and could fight. It’s a true shame that his screen time was so severely limited.
Enishi was the big boss of the final arc. He was certainly a great fighter and he gave Kenshin a run for his money, but I think it’s safe to say that he was not quite as good as Shishio. If Kenshin had been at the top of his game, he probably would have won with less difficulty. Enishi’s on a mission of revenge, but he does like to ignore several facts to make Kenshin out to be the bad guy. While you can sort of understand what he’s saying, he’s not a very sympathetic villain in the end even if it’s possible that he won’t go all the way through with his demands at times. Still, he made for a decent final boss.
Gein was a puppet master who had a pretty big role in the Shishio arc when you think about it as his puppet did a lot of damage. His true form is pretty anticlimactic and won’t be gaining him any fans, but his puppets were certainly lethal. If only his puppet had been real, that may have helped him. Hyogo was a pretty neat fighter as he actually gave Kenshin a decent fight, which was unexpected. His attacks are a lot quicker than you would expect based on his large size and I actually liked him as a villain to an extent. Not the greatest villain out there, but more enjoyable than I would have thought.
Banjin is a skilled hand to hand fighter so he was Sanosuke’s final big opponent. I can’t say that he had a whole lot of character other than being a bit of a hot head, but that was good enough for me as he meant business and gave Saonosuke a decently good fight. He was a little generic, but served his purpose. Yatsume was interesting because his appearance was definitely based off of Venom’s. That was amusing and it’s the main reason why I remember him. Otherwise, he’s not the most impressive fighter, although his long limbs can certainly come in handy when in a sword fight. The heroes have a hard time getting him to stick to one place.
There are naturally many more characters to be found in the manga. I’ve also read another one of this author’s series named Busou Renkin. I thoroughly enjoyed that one and would give it a solid 8/10, but this was definitely the definitive series by the author. Everything that Busou Renkin did, Kenshin basically improved on, although I think it came out first anyway, but I may be mistaken on that.
Aside from all of the non stop action, Kenshin was just a very deep manga series that dealt with serious topics while keeping that fun Shonen feel. Even the throwaway fights tended to be fairly interesting since the art would ensure that the fights would still be a lot of fun. I’m sure that the TV show adaption would also be a lot of fun, but the fights would likely not be quite as good since it’s tough to match up to the art style here.
It’s tough to say whether Kenshin even had any slow moments or parts of the series where it grew boring for a while. Naturally, I did marathon through some sections, but it was always interesting. I know that the series got a remake/AU thing called Restoration, which should be interesting to check out. There’s almost literally no way that it can beat the original, but just putting up a good fight would be most impressive. Kenshin shows that even if a Shonen Jump manga stays down to earth with low power levels during a 20+ volume run, it can still be an elite fighting manga!
Kenshin was one of the final “Big” manga series that I had not read. Now that it is gone, the only one that I can think of is Saint Seiya. I don’t believe that there are any of the super legendary, hype manga left, which is neat. I’m essentially at the end of an era and we’ll see if the modern titles are able to reach these levels of epicness. Toriko and Bleach are doing a good job of helping the modern era while One Piece is pretty solid, but we need more! What I’m waiting for is a new ongoing DBZ title or a full fledged Kenshin title to help the ranks. That would be awesome!
Overall, Kenshin is easily one of the best manga titles out there. I haven’t really made a top 10 for that yet, which I should probably get around too. I’ve basically got most of my top 10 for anime, but aside from knowing that Megaman NT Warrior is my favorite manga, the rest of them are all just shuffled in there somewhere. Nevertheless, Kenshin basically has all of my pros while avoiding the typical negatives. While I’m sure that there are some to be found in the series if you look hard enough (Like some origin stories being a little iffy or possible animal violence although I can’t recall any) they end up getting lost in the flood of positives.
It’s time to look at an action manga that I hadn’t heard of before I started it, but it’s evidently more popular than I realized. It’s always good to meet an action title that is pretty high tier while also being fun. In many ways, this series reminds me of Bleach. It has its weaknesses, but manages to be a fun ride.
The world is filled with humans and yokai. The humans are unaware of these beings aside from a group of yokai hunters. The Yokai essentially own the world as each group has a territory. Some yokai are evil and some are good. The series revolves around the Nura clan, of which Rikuo is the rising leader. His grand father runs the organization for a little while, but Nura (Rikuo) quickly embraces his role as the leader. Rikuo’s job is to stabilize the region and keep his demon group at the head of the pack. They like to scare humans and have fun, but in peaceful ways. There are many yokai who want to hurt the humans so Rikuo’s group has to keep them in check. Rikuo is only 1/4 yokai though, which can cause him issues. He becomes a yokai during the night and stays human by day.
The first main arc deals with Haggoromo as she bands together a group of villains to take over the world. Their master plan actually involves giving birth to an incredibly powerful demon, but they are destroying dozens of earthlings along the way. Nura naturally can’t let this stand so his group gets ready to work. Unfortunately, his minions have their doubts since Nura is part human and his abilities are far below that of Hagoromo’s, but a little training can go a long way!
Seimei is lose on the world and that is the plot for the last arc. Interestingly, the author decided to throw in a bunch of new villains as well. So, aside from the Seimei plot, we have some villains who want to revive Sanmoto and decide to cause havok in the streets. They challenge the heroes to a game. The villains will try to destroy as many people as they can and the heroes have to destroy them to prevent the casualties. The game of cat and mouse will certainly have high stakes! Still, the heroes can’t be distracted from their true objective…stopping Seimei!
Since this series is of a decent length, we have a very colorful character cast. I’ll quickly discuss most of them and then write about the series as a whole. Let’s start off with the main character as that makes sense. Rikuo is the main character and he’s certainly one of the better leads that I’ve seen in a while. By day, he starts out as a timid protagonist who is in a little over his head when it comes to leading the large demon group. Luckily, he slowly starts to believe in himself and by the end he has come to accept his demon blood. This way, he can fight during the day or night, but in the daytime he will still be a lot weaker. He was a fun character, but his night time version is naturally the real deal. The difference between them is a lot like Yugi and Yami Yugi. The night time version is simply more intense and he’s the true fighter of the two.
Night Rikuo’s abilities are second to none and he continues to prove himself as he goes up against many incredibly powerful fighters. Towards the end of the series, Rikuo unlocks his attack mode, which was a great transformation. He was already very self confident and sure of his abilities, but now he was even more open about this. His transformation into an Ichigo/Kirito character was complete and he went on the offensive more instead of strategizing and waiting for an opening. With his speed, it makes sense to press on the attack as often as possible. Rikuo is one of those main characters who doesn’t come along very often so you always want to really remember his appearances while you can. He’s simply hard to top!
Tsurara is one of Rikuo’s main allies and she is always by his side to protect him from Rikuo’s many enemies. She has mastery over ice and this has helped her against many fighters. Unfortunately, her abilities do not increase very often so she is outmatched against the later enemies, but Tsurara still does her best to help out when Rikuo is in a pinch. Unfortunately, she has a subplot where she likes Rikuo, which does make her distracted at times, but luckily the series has Rikuo keep her in the friend zone. It’s always good to have allies, but Rikuo can’t afford to be distracted anymore than that.
Yura is one of the main supporting characters who is not part of Rikuo’s group. She is with the Onmyoji group, who are humans that fight off the yokai. As such, she is wary of the yokai even though she gets along with the heroes. She develops from a relatively weak heroine to one of the strongest heroes in the series. Yura was a likable character to be sure and from the three heroines she is in second. She can be a little too distrustful of the yokai at times, but they are Yokai after all.
Kano is another one of the heroines and I got her mixed up with the other two quite a bit during the beginning of the series. They just look very similar, but the artist did a good job of differentiating them as the series went on. Kano is not quite as interesting as the other two characters because she never gets to contribute to the story. I don’t believe that she had any important moments in the series and the author didn’t know what to do with her. She was simply another friend to add to the yokai watch group. Giving her some spells or power would have been cool.
Rikuo had some other friends as well, but they didn’t really contribute to the plot. Technically, they helped out as one of the friends tried to prove Rikuo’s innocence to the world. Still, the author seemed to have just added them for the pre arc so that we could learn about Rikuo and then they were ditched. It doesn’t help that the one shot stories involving them were never that great and none of the friends were very likable. At most, they were passable, not bad characters, but not good ones either. Thanks to their small role, it shouldn’t matter to the reader too much unless one really dislikes them.
Nurarihyon is Rikuo’s grandfather and he gets a lot of hype for being the clan’s ultimate leader back in the day. His skills were incredible and it’s heavily implied that Rikuo has still not surpassed him. This is essentially confirmed during the very ending as Nurarihyon is quickly able to revert back to his prime for a few minutes. In that time, he effortlessly defeats one of the big enemies and almost gets to fight the main villain before his transformation expired. We don’t get to see him in his prime a lot, but at least the leader backed up his hype this way. Finally, we had an old man who was actually pretty decent in a manga. Typically the author tries to make that kind of character unlikable.
Rihan is Rikuo’s father and he couldn’t get outshined by his two relatives right? Rihan is extremely powerful as well although I think it’s safe to say that he has been surpassed. He had a rather tragic and sudden ending because he simply didn’t see the blow coming. Nonetheless, he was still a very powerful figure back in his day and he helped the Nura Clan to reach levels of honor and greatness that lasted a very long time. He was a likable character even if he slacked off a lot. Rihan could have held his own series quite well since his adventures were fun, but his flirting tendencies made him a lot less enjoyable than Rikuo.
Aotabo is the power hitter of the group. Unlike most Shonen series, some of the characters are tough from start to finish without any real power ups. That’s certainly very impressive even though it also means that a lot of plot hax will present itself when necessary. Aotabo just forgot about his true powers until he needed them. He’s a nice guy and certainly means well. While Aotabo may not have the “cool” factor that most of my favorite characters have, he makes up for it with his heroics. Aotabo is a very loyal comrade who you would want to have by your side.
Typically, Aotabo’s partner was Kurotabo. Kurotabo has a plot twist involving his origin, but it wasn’t too iffy and it certainly didn’t change the fact that Kurotabo is a good hero. I was never too impressed with him, but his technique of summoning unlimited blades is very handy. He believes in being very stoic and honorable, which are always good qualities in a fighter. As one of Rikuo’s main subordinates, Kurotbao is naturally one of the stronger warriors. He’s another class act.
Finally, we have Kubinashi of the main squad. He uses strings to fight and his head floats above his body instead of being on it. He dances around the line between villain and hero for a while, but he ultimately decides to stay on the light side. I’m glad that he made the right decision, but he still isn’t my favorite hero. His abilities are certainly very lethal. I am glad that he doesn’t back down against the other group of Yokai that arrive with Rikuo once the hero’s training was complete. Those guys were certainly very full of themselves even though they proved to be a little weaker (debatable I suppose) than the main guys.
Zen helps Rikuo get the others to trust him early on. Zen sees himself as one of Rikuo’s closest allies and really tries to help him out during dangerous times. Unfortunately, he is quite weak so there’s not always a lot that he can do. Still, he’s a nice guy. Rikuo also has a group of friends who like to go outside to look for Yokai. They are essentially filler as they never help to make a true difference, but every hero needs some friends right? They certainly could have been worse although it’s safe to say that I never really liked any of the friends.
Gyuki mentors Nura for a little while. He doesn’t have much in the way of super abilities, but his fear is very powerful, which allows him to stand his ground against any opponent. He gives Rikuo a hard time, but he never gets too exaggerated in his training methods and stands by as a loyal ally in all of Rikuo’s fights. I respect his abilities and he was a good mentor. Finally, we got a mentor who didn’t act like Jiraiya or Master Roshi for a change. I definitely give Gyuki kudos for that. The guy never got to fight all that much, but he still left an impression.
Itaku is one of the yokai that Rikuo brought back after his training. There are other members of the team, but most of them don’t get any real development anyway so I didn’t feel the need to include them. One of the members had her own fight where she faced her fears in a maze and managed to win. Beyond that, it was Itaku’s show. His personality is that he’s a very strong warrior who bows to no one. He considers himself to be stronger than Rikuo for a while and even at the end of the series he tries to take on some of the strongest villains. He is powerful and his fear is certainly real, (Offensively of course. He’s not afraid of the villains) but sometimes his boasts could be a bit much. He is good, but Rikuo is undoubtedly better. Itaku was certainly Rikuo’s rival and while he is no Sasuke, he’s still a good ally to have.
Hidemoto is an onmyoji from the olden days. He is revered as the strongest one of all time and he certainly lives up to this as he manages to keep his spirit alive for decades. Hidemoto is crucial in the final battles of the series and he gives the heroes a lot of advice. He’s a very quirky character, but not in an annoying way and you certainly can’t say that he doesn’t have personality. Moreover, he treats the whole situation like a game, which is a nice change of pace from the other characters at times. It is too bad that he couldn’t physically show up, but that may have made him a little too overpowered. As it is, he served as a nice mentor figure.
Tamazuki was one of the first villains of the series. I barely even mentioned him, but he ended up having a large role in the climax. That was surprising, but maybe he was fairly popular back in the day. He isn’t very skilled as he lost to a pre arc Rikuo, but as the Shonen system works, he grew much stronger. His illusion abilities are his bets bet to winning a match, but when he loses control, he can also dish out a lot of damage physically. He’s the kind of character who could have definitely become a fan favorite had he appeared more. As it stands, I did like him more once he returned to the series.
Hagoromo had one of the more tragic stories as she is really not allowed to have a happy ending. In her first life, she is betrayed. In the next one, she is mind controlled into betraying her father. Then she finally gains her freedom back and sees the light, only to be confronted by a villain who is more powerful than her. She is certainly a likable character and one of the better villains, but if would have been cool if she could have beaten the final boss on her own. It would have been quite the twist! Hagoromo was a fun character to have in the series and she seemed to be a very nice person before her world turned upside down. It would be hard to surpass her as the best villain and there is only one antagonist who I like more than her in this series. Without Hagoromo as the end boss, the big arc would have been less exciting.
Tsuchigumo was my favorite villain in the series and it is easy to see why once you start reading the manga. He is like Zaraki and many of my other favorite characters. He loves to fight and always believes in a fair fight. Tsuchigumo doesn’t care about what is really going on, he just wants a piece of the action so he fights both villains and heroes. While he is immensely powerful, Tsuchigumo is surpassed as the series goes on, but he never backs away. He ends his role heroically and he was my favorite villain by a long shot. I always like this “Hungry for honorable battle” kind of villain and I am glad that Shonen Jump continues to use the trope for a character.
Seimei is the ultimate villain and his powers are leagues ahead of the other opponents. He has the classic scene of snapping Rikuo’s sword in half with ease and he can fly. This guy looked incredibly powerful when he first appeared. He may not have been quite as impressive when he returned, but his power level was still high. His mistake was hiding out for a while, which let Rikuo power up a lot. By the time Seimei had returned, the heroes were ready. I don’t actually like him and Seimei proves himself to be a very untrustworthy fellow. He is a villain so it comes with the territory, but he certainly could have been more likable. Ah well, at least he had a really good design, which stood out. You could easily mistake him for a DBZ villain and Seimei has the feats to back it up.
Encho is one of the random villains who entered the fray towards the end of the series. He can use his voice to make tales come true, but he is not much of a fighter. Encho is one of those villains who doesn’t have much of an overall plan as he just wants to watch the world burn. Certainly a generic figure in the grand scheme of things. Sanmoto was the leader of the group and he was treated as a big shot. I can safely say that he did not live up to the hype though. Sanmoto’s true form is huge and not very maneuverable. It didn’t take a whole lot to ultimately stop him. Seimei really outshined this guy.
Raiden is the only member of the villain group who was actually likable. Unlike Sanmoto’s other men, Raiden didn’t rely on cheap tricks in order to win. He attacked Rikuo head on and gave the hero quite a fight. If Rikuo hadn’t unlocked his new form, it likely would have been game over for him. Raiden was a very impressive fighter and he was one of the best villains in the series. The Raiden name is still being held up quite well.
Kidomaru was one of the higher ups in Seimei’s organization. While he appeared to be a normal human, his abilities were very impressive. It was surprising that he never got more development as it seemed like he was going to be an important figure before he was written out of the action. He was a decent villain although, very two dimensional. Who knows, maybe it was for the best that he stayed a background character. It is a role, which works for some characters.
Mamiru is one of the onmyoji and his role was always that of a very minor supporting character. He can certainly fight as he has thunder abilities, but he never got to do anything that was too important. He is another character that the author just seemed to forget as time went by. He seems like he would have ended up as a fairly heroic character had he gotten more development. Mamiru was usually likable when he was on screen. Unlike Mamiru, Ryuji was a major supporting character in this series and he was a fun hero to watch. He strongly dislikes Yokai, but he grudgingly works with Rikuo and the others once the stakes continue to rise. He has good reasons for disliking them, but I was glad to see that he was reasonable about that. Ryuji is actually not very powerful so all of his fights revolve around strategies and simply outsmarting his opponents. It can be a bit much when he is fighting a very strong opponent, but his water attacks are no joke. This was definitely my kind of character and he almost could have been thought of as Rikuo’s rival if that angle had been played up a little more.
That was a lot of characters eh? The series made it to a little over 20 volumes so the cast was of a fairly good number by the end. By and large, I’d say that the series did a good job with them. There was a good amount of likable heroes and villains in the series, which is always important. Rise of The Yokai Clan did have some issues with where it wanted to go in terms of the story and plot, but I’ll mention that a little more in a second. First, I want to compare it to a certain all star title.
The series has a lot of similarities to Bleach. Rikuo is like Ichigo and the actual vibe of the manga carries that serious, yet intense vibe that Bleach had. The art is very different though. While Bleach’s art is serene and calm, Nura’s can get rather heavy with the ink. It gets to the point where you will sometimes be unsure of exactly what just happened. You will just know that it must have been something epic! This is particularly the case when the battle involves Rikuo in one of his super forms. The author really wants to show how intense the battle is. You’ll likely remember that Ichigo also gets a lot of those moments over in Bleach if you have read that title. Tsuchigumo is really similar to Zaraki and there are more similarities as you read the series. That’s a good thing as you should always model yourself after the best if you are planning to draw on some inspiration. Of course, there’s another reason for why Rikuo gets so many great shots in the series.
The heroes all fight using their fear to entrap the opponent. Fear is naturally associated with darkness and shadow so it makes sense that it would look that way when the fighting gets started. The fear battling is a pretty nice twist. It’s also another way to say “Aura” as it works just like the ki in DBZ, but it’s still a nice way to put it. There certainly aren’t many series that can say that they’ve tried this approach. It works quite well alongside the yokai theme. Since fear is essentially your power level, it’s a way to power scale the various enemies. Don’t worry about a lack of feats though because we definitely get a lot of those. One villain is able to destroy Kyoto with a single swing and he was not yet at full power.
As the series is about yokai/demons, it can be a little dark at times. Not too dark as it’s still Shonen, but the series tries to incorporate horror elements whenever possible. I’m certainly more inclined to enjoy the action segments, but I suppose that this makes sure the audience gets to stay on its toes. There’s also a decent amount of comedy involved as well to keep you from crumbling when the long action parts draw near. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many people who would want to read a series about nonstop action even though that sounds epic.
That being said, this is what I was talking about when I said that the manga lost its sense of direction at times. It will go from a really epic sequence of fights to a lot of one shot horror/comedy stories that just feel like filler. It’s the kind of series where you will actually feel like you are just reading side stories even though they are part of the main adventure. It’s like if the Pre Arc of Naruto occurred after volume 10 or so. That can throw you off your rhythm a little and I’m convinced that the author was stalling for time or simply forgot what happen.
After the first big arc with Hagoromo, Seimei escaped with his henchmen. The heroes head off to recruit more fighters and get stronger, but then a new villain group comes in to waste some time. Aside from one member, I didn’t like any of these new villains and they felt like a distraction. Seimei finally showed up with his group of villains, but they almost literally come out of nowhere. It gives us another chance for some epic fight scenes, but the arc between them was simply odd. The game of “tag” was definitely unique though and it’s where we got Rikuo’s new form so I’ll give it props for that.
The middle arc also deserves major kudos for most of the fights taking place within a city. Also, not just any city, but a modern/urban one so there were many tall buildings. That’s still my favorite environment for a fight and they are extremely rare in any manga. So, it was certainly a lot of fun to see and that was the highlight of the arc in the middle. Seriously, try to count on one hand how many times you’ve seen a big fight take place in a city area that had large buildings. It’s tougher than you may think! (Also, it doesn’t count if the fight is down to Earth like a simple hand to hand fight or a gun battle. I’m talking Superman level threats here!)
The series can definitely remind you of Gamaran a little in the sense that it can get very violent at times. I’d say that it is certainly more intense than Bleach, but still not as over the top as Gamaran. Luckily, it is mostly relegated to the combatants aside from a few scenes where spectators get involved. One of the most unfortunate stories involved a demon who trapped a lot of people in a dream world where they were stuck for many years. That’s certainly a skippable one as it was filler and doesn’t add anything to the story. One of the main villains also needed to eat a lot of livers to get her strength up, which could certainly be gruesome. It’s a dark action to be sure, but the series typically doesn’t dwell on these moments.
Luckily, we still get a lot of great action scenes that don’t rely on such tactics. The yokai can survive many lethal blows, which is why it can get a little violent, but typically not in any unfortunate ways. Nura’s battles are the ones that you will want to focus on as they are always close range encounters. A lot of the other main characters use ranged attacks, but there are other close combat fighters to be found. Hand to hand or sword to sword is my favorite kind of fight, but the versatility can be really fun as well. The sheer speed at which the characters are fighting is amazing and using fear to dictate how the battle goes is certainly a smart way to go about it.
You’ll be glad to know that there isn’t much fanservice here either. We get one of those generic hot spring scenes, which are always a little dicey, but at least it isn’t a regular occurence. The main villain also spends a decent amount of time with nothing on as she goes into a purification place to prepare for her offspring of destruction. The series is careful not to actually cross the line and show anything, but this would certainly count in the fanservice department. It may seem like a little more than “not much” but remember that this is from the full 21 volumes. There was certainly some around, but it was really rare and the series never gets bogged down by it.
As you can tell from my paragraph on the main character, the series has some similarities to Yugioh. Unlike Yugioh, they aren’t completely different people, but it was hinted at early on. Rikuo’s night form is able to talk with the day one and you would think that they are different based on how they act. It seems like they simply are the same person, but the demon blood represents the night form while the day acts as Rikuo. By the end of the series, they have essentially come to terms with each other and both forms are capable of engaging in combat. It’s the same guy, but with a split personality. I wouldn’t have minded if they had ended up splitting by the end, but that would have been a little sad for the day version since he wouldn’t have been very important to the series anymore.
Overall, Nura ended up being one of the best manga series that I have finished in a while. It did stumble into some issues which kept it from being a 9, but an 8 is still more than respectable. This guy could certainly hold his own against other Shonen Jump All Stars. He’s not quite ready to defeat Ichigo quite yet, but with his various super forms, most of the other heroes would be fair game for him. The art was solid and we had a good group of characters. Naturally, the fight scenes were incredible as well. You really couldn’t ask for a more complete manga and I would certainly be open to a sequel at some point. If you’re looking for a solid action series and don’t mind some violence (Around Bleach level or slightly higher, but nothing too graphic) then this is definitely the title for you. Get ready for a solid adventure and one where you can finally root for the Yokai instead of the humans. (Although there are heroic humans as well.)