Saturday, July 26, 2008

Yotsubato ! Enjoy Everything

Manga by : Kiyohiko Azuma

"An outstanding manga at last" , thats what I think after I read the first book, and guest what? It get even better until book 6.
Yotsubato is a tale about a child named Yotsubato who is really enjoying everything while in the same time mainting her cuteness (kawai !!) Yeah, we, the adults should be ashamed complaining the same thing everyday...
This is obvious a comedy comic. Some of the scene are extremely funny while some of them are 'ok'.

The thing that I like most about Yotsubato is the graphic. The scene and background in this wonderful manga might remind you with your childhood. The more I read this comic, the more I want to go to Japan (someday ^ ^)

You might think the story is kinda flat, but thats what made this comic better. THERE ARE NO PROTAGONIST CHARACTER !! Yeah guys, thats rare. Maybe thats what make me quite peaceful when reading this comic. There are only funny interaction between the good guys.
No backstabbing bastards, no cunning prick.

You should read this comic, some of you might happened to hate it. But I am sure the majority are going to LOVE it. Yotsubato is extremely lovely.

Story : 9 / 10
Graphic : 10 / 10

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Black Cat

Mangaka: Kentaro Yabuki

Train Heartnet, the title lead of Kentaro Yabuki's Black Cat (Viz), is a boyish young man with wild hair, a belled collar on his long neck and a Roman numeral XIII tattooed on his chest. A former assassin for Chronos – a shadowy organization that controls 1/3 of the world's wealth – Train now works as a "sweeper" with his partner Sven Vollfied. Licensed bounty hunters, the duo travel the globe looking for miscreants with big rewards attached to 'em. In Book One's first character-establishing commission, they attempt to bring in a former gangland accountant who has both the law and the mob looking for him.

Train faces off against the mob hit man sent to silence the accountant, and we get our first glimpse of his abilities and personality: like his feline namesake, he can leap amazing heights and is able to play a variation of bullets-and-bracelets with his especially crafted "orichalcum" pistol. Though impulsive and filled with boyish enthusiasms (for good food, for instance – being one of those characters who can eat anything and still keep his catlike figure), he's also capable of killing his ruthless adversary with a small smile on his face. Chain-smoking Sven is the pragmatic half of the partnership. Wearing an eye-patch and the kind of peach-fuzz facial hair that make him look like he only just recently passed into pubescence, he's the one who handles the business end of things, though he also gets to show his soft side when the pair hook up with a little girl who also happens to be a programmed killer.

What starts out as a fairly straightforward action series (for the first two contracts at least) quickly morphs into familiar Shonen Jumpy science-fantasy formula. Commissioned by a young woman named Rinslet Walker – a professional thief-for-hire prone to form-hugging outfits that flatteringly show off her gams – to travel to the Republic of Sapidoa (one of those countries that seems to perpetually have a big festival going on its streets) to bring in a crime boss called Torneo Rudman (love these names – are they Yabuki's or translator Kelly Sue DeConnick's?), they learn that Rudman is trafficking in the development of human weapons. His foremost creation is an orphaned 12-year-old named Eve who has nanobots in her system that allow her to change body parts into anything she wants: like transform an arm into a long, body-impaling blade. Our heroes wind up freeing her from Rudman's clutches in Volume Two, and she quickly becomes part of the bounty hunting team. Not so Rinslet, who one suspects will waft in and out of our heroes' lives whenever it suits her own selfish purposes. Some dames are like that.

The Rudman contract leads our team into first contact with Creed Diskenth, a former Chronos assassin like Train, and the man responsible for the death of the Black Cat's "dearest friend," a lady sweeper named Saya. Creed is an androgynously pretty figure with a major thing for Train; plotting to double-cross and overthrow Chronos, he attempts to enlist the sweeper, but our footloose hero wants none of it. With the appearance of Creed and his underlings, the sci-fantasy elements get upped even further: each one, we learn, has the ability to manifest their chi in powerful ways. One henchman, for instance, is capable of creating bee puppets that can sap your will when they sting and put you under their creator's control. Much of this talk of chi sounds very similar to the mystical gobbledegook that fuels Naruto's fight sequences – not much different than the catch-all of "mutation" used to buttress Marvel's X-books, actually – though when you get down to it, all the whys-and-wherefores are less important than the sight of a swarm of mechanical bees honing in our hero.

Yabuki's art (as with other manga digests, we get to briefly meet his three art assistants in a set of one-page strips appended at the end of each volume) is clean and cartoony in places (as with other manga series, he thinks nothing of rendering bumps on the head that are almost as big as the character's head itself), crisp during the action sequences when it needs to be (I found the fight sequences much easier to follow than, say, some of the dust-ups in Naruto) and serious when it needs to be. Though the series' tone is predominately devil-may-care, it occasionally strikes a tone of melancholy, most typically when Heartnet recalls his doomed dearest friend Saya.

If Yabuki's protagonists look too fresh-faced to carry the weight of the world, it's a small quibble; his crew is deft at rendering appropriately debauched or careworn secondary characters. There's a Creed henchman who steps forward in Volume Three, for instance, who looks like he could be a young goth updating of Will Eisner's Mr. Carrion. His chi power: to take the dripping blood from his body and transform it into a gloppy weapon that he aims at his enemies. Now that's an out-there super-ability.

This manga review was taken from here

Thursday, December 27, 2007



(from the press literature)

The last thing Kei remembers is the train running over his body. Now he is in a room filled with strangers, all resurrected by the featureless black sphere known only as the Gantz. But their reprieve from death may only be temporary, for unless they undertake the brutal missions that the Gantz assigns, all of them will die again.

(and now, my synopsis)

Kei, a snobby, cynical jerk, gets himself into a really dumb situation and literally loses his head because of it. Next thing he knows, he wakes up in a room filled with random, apparently dead people ... and a dog. There is a big ball in the middle of the room that gives them weapons and tells them to kill things and not question why. He does so, while whining the whole time.


Ohhhhh, boy.

Maybe it's a little unfair that I'm the one reviewing this show. However, the word of mouth had been positive, and actually, this arrived for me to watch right after I saw Elfen Lied, which I enjoyed. (That's another review for another time.) So, I'm not this squeamish person who only watches fluffy romantic comedies -- I have a fairly high tolerance for viscera and gore. My parents clean blood for a living and talk about it in great detail at the dinner table; it comes with the territory. Mature themes? Highly sexual content? Dude, normally I'm all there.

Gantz really wanted to push the envelope. Unfortunately, they succeeded. The result is a show that makes Battle Royale look like Marmalade Boy.

But when I think about titles like Elfen Lied and Battle Royale, they're violent, but they succeed because the protagonists at least have something to them that makes them human. There's something about them that you identify with, that despite all the horrible things they do, you can tell they're trying to rise above it. Just because circumstances force them to become monsters, they don't have to stay that way -- they can redeem themselves or at least try.

The thing that galls me about Gantz is Kei - from the moment he comes onscreen, you just know he's a soulless monster already. There's nothing there. He's already just a tool -- he's mean, extremely selfish, very cynical, and you almost get the feeling he's happy that way, or at least unapologetic. There is no fall from grace; he's already fallen, and has no desire to get back out.

Right at the beginning, the creators let you know Kei is a character you aren't supposed to like. How? In one of the initial scenes, a naked girl appears in front of him, an obvious suicide. One of the other men in the room drags her into the back to rape her. Kei stands there, not quite sure whether to save her ... or just watch and be turned on. When his childhood friend Masaru goes over and selflessly saves the girl, and the girl thanks him, Kei gets pissed off because she's not paying any attention to him. "What a prissy girl." Kei then decides she is there so he can get into her pants. He is no better than the attempted rapist. But that isn't the worst of it.

In the very end of that scene, the girl is molested by the dog, and she is giggling and cutely trying to "stop" the dog, without putting up much of a fight.

And that part of the scene is what makes Gantz itself unredeemable. Honestly ... that they had the gall to depict a girl who had just committed suicide and then seconds after a violent rape attempt, being giggly and laughing over a dog going down on her? I just ... can't compute this. It's beyond offensive, it's just insulting.

I continued on through the first two DVDs, and after that, Gantz just becomes an excuse for morally bankrupt people to blow stuff up. The plot is paper thin, and very stock sci-fi when you stop to think about it. People abducted for an experiment (in this case, social) by a foreign entity with some man-hunting thrown in for fun ... yeah, they're supposed to be hunting aliens, but it just feels like it's all a thin pretense for having hot people running around in tight outfits with cool-looking guns. It is incredibly exploitative -- it's along the same lines as pornography or war propaganda, and almost more offensive in some ways.

The most redeeming factor of the show, at least early on, is the character of Masaru (Oosato Masashi in the Japanese track), Kei's childhood friend who basically got them in this situation by saving a man who had fallen on the train tracks. If this show were centered around Masaru, a troubled teen with a violent past, but a good heart and a strong desire to do good, maybe it would easier to take, especially since Masaru is a much stronger and more well-rounded character. He alone out of the cast is an actual character, rather than just a cardboard cutout or a blowup doll, and he alone questions the situation, but of course, it's already foreshadowing at the end of the second DVD that he's not long for this show. It's a crime, but frankly, Masaru deserved a better show, rather than playing second fiddle to a complete cretin.

At the same time, this is one of the best animated television shows I've seen in years. The artwork is gorgeous, the character designs are beautiful, and the blending of the CG and cel style just looks good. Technically, it's one of Gonzo's best; they also pushed the envelope in that sense, and did it right. The music om the show, both the score and the songs, are awesome. The opening ("Super Shooter") is by Rip Slyme, one of the most popular and skilled Japanese rap groups out there. (Yeah, Japanese rap -- and it's fun!)

The voice acting is also top-notch, both in English and in Japanese, especially considering the material they had to work with. Voice actors really will do anything you pay them for ... but it takes a good cast to put feeling into something as unfeeling as this.

You can tell a good story using extreme methods. Sex and violence aren't inherently wrong - life is often dark and ugly, and people do bad things to each other, and yes, it can be highly entertaining to watch the dark side of humanity. However, Gantz does nothing but wallow in its own depravity. Moreover, with the amount of money and time you'd have to devote to this time given its release format (thanks to Shueisha enforcing its 2-episode a DVD policy on an international level), Gantz simply isn't worth it.

Gantz is really the pinnacle of anime exploitation.

In trying to be edgy and relevant, Gantz glorifies everything that is seen to be bad about manga and anime, and makes you ashamed to be human in the process.Christina Ross

Recommended Audience: A hard R for extreme violence, sexual content, and very mature themes. Not for the squeamish - you almost have to be a sick, twisted individual to want to watch this, thanks to the main theme of the show.

This manga review was taken from here

Friday, December 21, 2007

The School of Water Business

Mangaka : Inokuma Shinobu

A school to teach teenagers how to pleasure society. That's what the School of Water Business is. Of course, the pleasure would be performed within water businesses. What's a water business? Just think of it like a place you'd go to to get a massage, and any part of the body you wish... And your masseuse could use any part of their body they wished... And they just happened to be girls... Well, you get the idea. As you might have guessed, this manga is not for little kids.

(This isn't Hentai, it's just there are some adult related themes and I would have to consider this to be PG-13 or a little higher.)

This manga review was taken from here