Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Thoughts: MAL Manga Challenge

MAL Manga  Challenge Round One:
So, on the message boards of MyAnimeList is having a manga reading challenge.  Here are all the titles I read and some quick thoughts on them.  I enjoyed this so much I am doing a second round.

Read a one-shot: Metropolis (KURODA Iou)
A re-imagining of Tezuka’s Metropolis. Honestly, I can’t remember this one well, so I’d say you can give it a pass.

Read a manga published before the 90s: Yume no Tsuzuki
A sci-fi story that is heavily dated by technology and fashion.  It was alright.  I can’t tell if the short length helps or hurts this one.

Read a manga published after the 90s Omoide Emanon
This one was really good.  Nice art and interesting story.  About a woman who has generational memory of the earth’s history.

Read an award-winning work: A Cruel God Reigns
A 17 volume series from Moto Hagio?  Yes, please.  But this one can be really emotionally draining so be prepared for that.  Here is a write up I did for the Hidden Gems of Manga club:
Ever wanted to read something emotionally challenging? Then Zankoku na Kami ga Shihai suru (A Cruel God Reigns) is most certainly it.  A seventeen volume series from manga great Moto Hagio this is the story of two teens Jeremy and Ian deal with abuse and dark secrets.
The story starts with Jeremey living with his single Mother in Boston.  They happen to meet Greg Roland.  A good looking, single, wealthy man from England.  Jeremy’s Mother is smitten with him right away and Greg pushes for a fast marriage.  But this is only the start of a chain of moves that Greg has to entrap Jeremey has he soon starts to sexually abuse him.

Soon, they go to England and here Jeremey is trapped.  It is apparent something is wrong with Jeremy but he won’t say anything because he wants his Mother to be happy. Things start to unravel when Jeremy tinkers with his Stepfather's car.  His Step-Father and Mother died in a car accident soon after. But was it Jeremy’s tinkering or was the car defective from the start?

After his Father’s death Jeremy’s new older step-brother Ian learns about all the abuse his Father has done.  Ian can’t believe it, and it forces him to deal with thoughts and feelings he has to never had to deal with before.

Can Jeremy and Ian keep it together and move on?

Read a manga by your favorite author/artist: Hohoemi No Nichijou
Bohra Naono is my all time favorite BL/Yaoi creator.  I love her art. Her stories are cute, feature older men, and the supernatural quite often.  Really, right up my alley.  This was a volume of cute one-shots.

Re-read a manga: Tokyo Akazukin
I was pretty obsessed with Benkyo Tamaoki art at one point and had read this years ago.  I was wondering if it would still hold up.  Not so much.  I would say it is best explained as supernatural exploitation.  I would say if you are not already super familiar with anime and manga this is just a huge no.  Even, if you are familiar with anime and manga stay away unless you like guro and lolis (and not just lolis being cute but uhhh you know…).

Read a manga by Osamu Tezuka: The Twin Knights
Well, this got me to finish up Princess Knight since this is the sequel to it.  I liked this one a bit more than Princess Knight since it comes off way less sexist.  Princess Knight had a whole thing with boy hearts and girl hearts.  And without her boy heart Princess Knight would lose all her strength and such.  None of that here, just girls getting to be badass.

Read a manga that is tagged with a genre you dislike: Pato-ko Ikkimasu! (Car)
I was looking for anything short and fully translated about cars.  This was pretty unremarkable

Read a debut manga: Puzzle+
Supernatural mystery seems right up my alley but this title was a bit wonky.  It wasn’t bad but I do feel the shortness of this one kind of kills it.  Sometimes, it was hard to tell what was going on.

Read a manga that became a prototype for a longer running series: NOiSE
I’ve tried to get into Tsutomu Nihei’s (Blame) works but I never seem to be able to.  This wasn’t bad, in fact I think I liked it a lot more than his other works but the story is still kind of muddied in it.

Read a manga with a target demographic that does not apply to you: Burning Hell
A manga about terrible people being terrible.  Another title that feels like an exploitation piece.  Does have really nice art though.

Read a manga with a target demographic that can apply to you (i.e. josei if you're a female in her 20s, etc): Insufficient Direction
Written by the manga creator who is married to famed anime director Hideaki Anno (Neon Genesis Evangelion).  This is as slice-of-life as you can get.  It is cute but doesn’t really add a whole lot of insight to Anno (other than he is a huge dork but I didn’t need to read this to know that).

Read a manga that has a main character of gender opposite to the demographic (i.e. female lead in a male demographic): :REverSAL
This was a cool sci-fi manga about being trapped in a game (yeah I know too many).  I enjoyed this but it suffers from being too short and doesn’t allow for tension to build up.

Read a manga with a score of or below 7 in MyAnimeList: Cyclic the Love
This is a one-shot that I didn’t remember anything about until I looked it up again.  So, I can say pass this one up.

Read a manga that starts with the same first letter as your username: Blue Heaven
This is good if you are looking for some fast paced action but the plot kind of gets muddled.  Art was nice.

Read a manga that someone on your friends' list rated a 10: Lunar: Vheen Hikuusen Monogatari
Three short stories about the Lunar universe.  Surprisingly good.  The art is very, very nice.  And the none of the characters seem to be characterized correctly.

Read a manga that has a main character that is a professional in his field (doctor, detective, embalmer, etc): Uchi no Tantei Shirimasen ka?
This was a cute yaoi title about two detectives.  It isn’t going to set the world on fire but it was enjoyable.

Read a manga that has a one word title: Zansho
A volume of one-shots.  Some were pretty good.

Read a manga with children in it: Hana Meguri Goyou!
This manga is really a mess.  The story is kind of all over the place.  And while the art isn’t bad the paneling is just awful and is hard to tell what is going on a lot of the time.

Read a manga about food: Bambino!
I think this is the real winner of all the titles I read.  It was really enjoyable and I powered through 15 volumes in one night.  Here is the write up I did for Hidden Gems of Manga:
This time we dive into the world of being a professional chef.  Shogo Ban has never wanted to do anything else with this life this be a professional Italian chef.  But he has only worked in small restaurant in a small town as help.  Can he make it in on the most popular (and busy) places in Tokyo?

He gets there and promptly nicknamed Bambino (baby) by the other chefs.  Watch as he has to work 12 hour days; deal with abusive co-workers; give up on some relationships in his life; and travel to America. Learn a bunch of Italian phrases related to food!

If you like cook shows or contests like Chopped or Cutthroat Kitchen this is a must read.

Read a manga about war: Joan
This is a manga about a woman who is kind of obsessed with Joan of arc and wants to follow her path.  It’s a weird manga.  It isn’t bad but a manga about Joan of arc  herself would have been more interesting.  It’s by the guy who did the character designs for the original Gundam.  So, it is pretty nice looking.  It is also in full color which is pretty cool.

Read a manhua: Chicken Cutlet Princess
Manhua is the Chinese counterpart to manga and comics.  This was a cute and stilly romance story about a girl who really likes chicken cutlets and the boy who thinks she is a complete weirdo.  Cute fun fluff.

Manhwa are Korean comics. Another one-shot that left almost no impression.  At least it wasn’t long?

Read a horror, sci-fi OR fantasy manga: Madness
This is a fantasy yaoi title (which I wish there was more of).  It was pretty decent and had actual plot and even (gasp!) female characters.  Story is a bit muddled but overall not bad for what it is.

Read a webmanga: Noblesse
So, I wanted to read one of those webtoons that everyone is talking about.  A webtoon is pretty much the Korean equivalent of a webcomic.  Noblesse is one of the big ones everyone talks about, and is about vampires, so that was the one I choose.  It wasn’t bad and I enjoyed it a lot but it has some serious issues with power creep and a sort of rinse and repeat plot.  But it does have a good sense of humor done right to break up the tension in the story, it never feels out of place (which I find pretty impressive).  It also has a number of great character moments, which help elevate the series a lot.  The art is also full color and very pretty to look at.  

You can check a lot of these webtoons @

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Thoughts - Sailor Moon Crystal

Okay, I am cheating a bit with anime, but I wrote down these thoughts and I thought I would share them. I finished Sailor Moon Crystal. And it was ehhhhhh. I didn't dislike it as much as others on the internet seem to. I think it does end up showing what were the strong points of the original series though.

The art/animation is seriously lacking. I do think I'm a bit more indifferent than most of the fandom was about this. But as I've been watching a ton of anime lately, I can say it doesn't stand up to today's standards. And I think as a big anniversary event, everyone thought they would try and make it look awesome and it looks kind of blah. The old show may not be up to today's standards either but you can see they put a lot of effort into it for its time and what it was.

Characters is where I think Crystal really shows what the strong point in the original series was. Because in Crystal no one but Sailor Moon, Chibi-Usa, and maybe Mamoru get any real character development. The other girls get personalities but almost no screen time to show those personalities off. The original might have a lot of filler but it was used well to expand the characters and make you care about them. (I feel like even the live action Sailor Moon did a much better job with the other characters).

Story is hard for me to judge. I did start re-watching the original a while back but didn't get that far. So, I can't tell if the case is I've gotten older so the story just doesn't hold up as well for me or if Crystal was just that lacking. I do think it is a show that if it had a stronger team working on it, there could have been a much stronger final product.

I will say the one big improvement with this show is Chibi-Usa is actually tolerable and actually pretty likeable by the end. They manage to really tell her story in a way that better explains her back story. Which explains a lot of her behavior. Also in this case, less episodes mean less screen time for her to be obnoxious.