Sesho's Anime And Manga Reviews
My main focus is reviewing manga and anime, but I also review Japanese literature, movies, and videogames. Basically, if it has anything to do with Japan, I'll talk about it, along with a dash of Korea and China.

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  • Podcast Episode 119: Rose Hip Rose Volume 1 by Tohru Fujisawa

    Manga Podcast Review of Rose Hip Rose Volume by Tohru Fujisawa, writer and artist of GTO, GTO: The Early Years, and Rose Hip Zero. Translated by Emi Onishi. Adapted by Michael French. Originally published in Japan by Kodansha. Published in US by Tokyopop, $10.99, Rated Mature 18+.

    While this is billed by Tokyopop as the sequel to Rose Hip Zero, this series actually came out first, so in fact it is a prequel. Aiba Shohei is a kid not very interested in the elite high school he attends or the life his father has laid out for him. You know, the whole go to a good school, go to a good college, get a good job, have a good life, or face being a loser speech! Shohei would rather be a criminal than live such a life. Him and his friends have been profiting from an internet site they run in which they offer panty shots of unsuspecting girls they photograph on the train. But one of these girls is about to change his pathetic life. Her name is Kasumi Asakura. She catches him trying to take a picture of her and steals the memory card out of his cell phone camera to hold over him as leverage. Little does he know that this sweet looking girl is actually the ace police agent Rose Hip, the Angel of Mercy. He will soon be caught up in her hunt for the homicidal Goldilocks Killer, who has been murdering and mutilating women in Tokyo.

    My Grade: A

    Direct download: Episode_119--Rose_Hip_Rose_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:14pm CDT

    Obama and McCain Become Comic Book Stars

    Well, here we go, it seems John McCain and Barack Obama are going to be the subject of comic book biographies in early October. IDW, the comic book publisher, says that they are going to stick to the facts (Yeah, right). I wonder if any of the crew from Air Gear are gonna be in it? They also say that comic books are a more effective teaching tool than other media. I guess what they mean is any dummy can look at pictures, even if you can't read, and get some idea of a message. The article also says that the comics can already be preordered and will also be available for cell phone download. Here's the link to the full article:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080730/ap_en_ot/presidential_comic_books

     

    Direct download: Presidents.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 10:00pm CDT

    EGM Does Japan, Naruto, and an Angry Suicide Woman

    Electronic Gaming Monthly is doing a 38 page Special on Japanese videogames and features Soulcalibur 4 on the cover. The game was released yesterday. The cool thing about the next-gen consoles, at least Xbox 360 and PS3 (Wii doesn't count), is that you usually have the option to change to the Japanese voice acting with subtitles on a lot of the titles developed there. It's always cooler to me to play an RPG in the original language. Right now I'm playing Naruto: Rise of a Ninja on 360 and it's cool because you have the option of playing it with the English dub actors or the original Japanese actors from the anime. Speaking of, that will probably be the first videogame review I do for this site. There's another Naruto game in development for the PS3 as we speak (or sorta speak).

     I got Soulcalibur 4 yesterday and have been playing it a bit. It features an online element as well as a custom character option where you can modify existing models of characters. There was a thread on the 360 forums asking whether anyone had tried making any Inuyasha characters. There wasn't any replies so I guess that was a no. But it got me thinking.....

     There was an article in the Houston Chronicle, you know, just one of those little throwaway stories in a far column. It said that a woman had flipped out at a train station in Hiratsuka, about 43 miles southwest of Tokyo. Apparently, she tried to cut her wrist with an army knife, but when she was trying to do it, someone bumped her, and she got pissed, so she stabbed seven men before a crowd held her down. For once it was good that a Japanese train station was crowded! Or was it? I mean she didn't kill herself because she got bumped, but if she had been alone, she wouldn't have stabbed anyone. I think if you try that type of thing in a crowded place, you want to be stopped.

    On the lighter side of things the second Naruto movie came out yesterday. The cheapest I saw it for was $17.99. I was wondering why it was so expensive but it comes with two dvds in a hard case, almost like a hardback book. Pretty cool. Ok, I'm a Naruto nut but I'm a bit behind on the anime. I've read all the manga volumes and also some that have been translated. I've bought all of the uncut boxed sets as they came out, but I think I've only watched through the fourth set. So, yeah, even though I have both movies, I haven't watched either. Maybe I will watch one tonight.

    Direct download: egm.bmp
    Category:general -- posted at: 7:38pm CDT

    Podcast Episode 118: GTO Volume 7 by Tohru Fujisawa

    Podcast manga review of GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka volume 7 by Tohru Fujisawa. Translated by Dan Papia. Originally published by Kodansha in Japan. Published in US by Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated Older Teen 16+.

    Well, it looks like Onizuka has foiled the plans of Teshigawara and Mrs. Oda. He's become quite the celebrity after rescuing Oda's daughter, Hidemi, from some thugs who had kidnapped her to blackmail Hidemi's father, an important politician. But GTO got shot in the process. Can you believe he not only took the National Scholastic Achievement Test before going to the hospital, but also scored the highest in the country? So his job seems safe for the time being, but a new enemy rears its pretty head in his class. Her name is Urumi Kanzaki, a legendary classroom terror that had dropped out of school, much to the delight of the Holy Forest faculty. Now she's returning with the express purpose of torturing GTO.

    My Grade: A

    Direct download: Episode_118--GTO_Volume_7.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:06pm CDT

    Podcast Episode 117: Elemental Gelade Volume 1 by Mayumi Azuma

    Manga review of Elemental Gelade Volume 1 by Mayumi Azuma. Translated by Alethea Nibley. Adapted by Jordan Capell. Originally published by Mag Garden in Japan. Published in US by Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated Teen 13+.

    Cou has been trying everything he can to fit in with the Red Lynx Sky Pirates but he can't get his fellow crewmembers to respect him or take him seriously. It probably has something to do with the fact that he can't even pilot a plane by himself. Still, things begin to change when he opens a ancient sarcophogus-like object in the ship's treasury and finds a beautiful young girl inside it. At first he thinks it is a doll but then the girl opens her eyes. Her name is Ren and she is an Edel Raid, a living weapon that bonds with another person. She wants to go to a place named Edel Garden and Cou agrees to accompany her. Just then, the Red Lynx is attacked by a trio looking for Ren.

    My Grade: B+

    Direct download: Episode_117--Elemental_Gelade_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:02am CDT

    Podcast Episode 116: Beck Volume 2

    Podcast Anime DVD review of Beck Volume 2 and a general introduction to the series that will be released as a box set tomorrow from Funimation.

    Koyuki didn't have too much interest in school before but now that problem is compounded by his increased interest in playing guitar. But his schoollife becomes a bit more complicated when he chips a piece off of Rikiya Kitazawa's Fender Jaguar guitar by accident. Kitazawa is the resident bad-ass of the school and the number one thug. Luckily, he wasn't around when it happened and Kitazawa's friend, Hyodo, promises to keep it secret. That is, IF Koyuki becomes his personal gopher and errand boy, and is willing to loan him money whenever he asks. Yes, that's right...BLACKMAIL. But things are looking up outside of school as Ryusuke's band, which he has dubbed Beck, seems to be fully formed, and Koyuki might even become a member.

    My Grade: B+

    Direct download: Episode_116--Beck_Volume_2.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:09pm CDT

    Podcast Episode 115: Eden Volume 1 by Hiroki Endo

    Podcast manga review of Eden: It's an Endless World Volume 1 by Hiroki Endo. Translated by Kumar Sivasubramanian. Originally published in Japan by Kodansha. Published in US by Dark Horse, $12.95, Rated Mature 18+.

    A viral pandemic has ravaged the Earth and killed off a lot of the population. Enoah and Hannah are two of the lucky few who are immune to its spread, and along with Professor Morris Layne, continue to eke out a living at a ruined research facility. They are the only survivors out of a group of scientists and their families who once walled themselves in the biodome type environment in an effort to find a cure for the virus. Now it is in ruins, and Layne is slowly dying. Nobody knows for sure if anyone else on the planet is still alive or whether a cure was ever found. But the arrival of armed troops in helicopters is going to change their little Eden forever.

    My Grade: A+

    Direct download: Episode_115ver2.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:42pm CDT

    Podcast Episode 114: Appleseed Ex Machina

    Podcast Blu-ray review of Appleseed: Ex Machina. Directed by Shinji Aramaki. Produced by John Woo. Based on the manga by Shiro Masamune. Published by Warner Brothers, List Price: $34.98, Rated PG-13.

    In a post-apocalyptic world in which war killed over half the world's population, mankind has started rebuilding out of the ruins. Olympus, the shining city on the hill, serves as an example of what humanity can achieve. But there is always someone who wants to throw a wrench into things, isn't there? A lot of the city's inhabitants have cybernetic enhancements or are dependent on a super Blackberry device called a Connexus. A terrorist element is able to send out a signal that can control cyborgs and Connexus users and make them kill, rob, pillage, or whatever strikes their fancy. It's up to Deunan, a human, and Briareos, a cyborg, to hunt down who is behind it all. But a conflict arises as Deunan is forced to partner up with a combat Bioroid named Tereus, who is a clone of her former lover Briareos, and sports all of his former bishonen handsomeness.

    My Grade: C

    Direct download: Episode_114--Appleseed_Ex_Machina.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:21pm CDT

    Podcast Episode 113: Future Anime Magazine, Manga Bums and Guardian Hearts Volume 1 Manga Review

    I take a look at the new Anime Insider and a new magazine, Future Anime, which seems more style than substance and way too expensive, and comment on manga bums, which seem to infest bookstores, and are very hard pests to remove. Then it's on to a review of Guardian Hearts Volume 1 by Sae Amatsu, a new manga from Tokyopop which should be published under a new imprint called Tokyoslop!

    Guardian Hearts Volume 1 by Sae Amatsu. Translated by Monica Seya Chin. Adapted by Erin M. Blakemore. Originally published in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten. Published in US by Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated Older Teen Ages 16+.

    Hina has been sent by the Planet of Light to be the superpowered guardian of Earth. But her track record at beng a superhero isn't too great and this is her last chance to redeem herself. She is advised to not do anything stupid like reveal her secret identity. She says she won't but when she turns around, there is a guy that had been standing there the whole time. His name is Kazuya and he has instantly blown her cover. To make sure Kazuya doesn't reveal her secret, she moves in with him and his mom and also enrolls in his school. Pretty soon, other strange alien girls begin to move in to the house as well. There's Kurusu, who can absorb abilities through clothes, Ooba Maya the space ninja, Chelsea the magical princess, Koto the space Miko, and a little cat girl named Daisy.

    My Grade: F

    Direct download: Episode_113--Guardian_Hearts_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:12pm CDT

    Manga Review: Negima Volume 2 by Ken Akamatsu

    Manga Review of Negima volume 2 by Ken Akamatsu, creator of Love Hina and A.I. Love You. Translated by Douglas Varenas. Adapted by Peter David and Kathleen O'Shea David. Originally published in Japan by Kodansha. Published in US by Del Rey, $10.95, Rated OT ages 16+.

    Negi sees a lot of students really putting pressure on themselves studying and wonders why his own Class 2A seems to be going about their usual business. When he asks one of the girls what the deal is, she tells him that in 3 days the school will be taking the all-important high school exam. 2A always has the worst average so none of the girls even bother getting upset about it, especially the Baka Rangers. They get a bit more serious when they hear rumors that Negi might be fired or their class might be dissolved if they don't improve their class ranking. The truth is that if Negi can somehow get his class out of last place, he will "officially" become a teacher at the Academy (up to this point he's been in a probationary type position). He starts to come up with some sort of magical solution, but Asuna talks him out of it, saying that the girls should fail or succeed on their own merits. Negi even goes to drastic lengths by taking away his own powers in the 3 days leading up to the test so he won't be tempted to use his magic. Asuna quickly changes her tune when she hears the rumors going round the school and enlists the Baka Rangers to help acquire a mythical book in the school library that supposedly makes you smarter if you read it. The Mahora Library is the largest library in the world and contains millions of books, with a lot of them being rare and irreplacable. Due to the nature of the tomes inside it, there are lots of traps on its first floor to keep out would-be robbers. Traps which Negi and company are going to have to deal with minus his magic.

    The two things that instantly grab you just flipping through this manga is its beautiful art and sexy fanservice. Akamatsu is pretty much at the top of his form doing harem comedy. But the fact that Negi is so young eleminates some of the horndog nature that you find in some male protagonists of this genre. Instead of being a perverted male surrounded by pure and innocent girls, Negi is the pure and innocent one being played on by females that find him cute and irresistible, especially Ayaka, the class rep. Of course this wouldn't be Akamatsu if the writer didn't find a ton of ways to get the girls bathing naked, have their clothes blown off, or bend over for various reasons for panty shots. It's just the nature of Akamatsu's game. While he focuses a lot on comedy, he is not afraid to draw epic background environments pulled right out of Kurosawa's vast shot forte. This is something a lot of manga artists lack nowadays, the use of wide shots. The character designs are great. I never have trouble recognizing any of the 31 girls of class 2A. They are distinct enough, at least in outward form, so you don't confuse them very easily. We haven't really got to know them all as personalities but then again, this is only the second volume. I look forward to learning more about the characters. Negima is really funny and is a very entertaining adventure.

    My Grade: A

     

    Direct download: Negima_2.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 5:00pm CDT

    Podcast Episode 112: Sand Chronicles Volume 1 by Hinako Ashihara

    Manga Podcast Review of Sand Chronicles Volume 1 by Hinako Ashihara. Translated by Kinami Watabe. Adapted by John Werry. Published by Viz under their Shojo Beat imprint, $8.99, Rated T+ for Older Teen.

    Ann is a young woman preparing for marriage to a foreign businessman. As she is packing her stuff, a young girl asks her about a miniature hourglass she finds in Ann's room among her valuables. It makes Ann flashback 14 years ago when she was 12 years old, shortly after her mom and dad got divorced. All those years ago, Ann and her mom visited the Sand Museum in Nima, home of the largest hourglass in the world. Ann and her mom, Miwako, had to move in with Ann's grandparents in the small town of Shimane to make ends meet. This is a crushing defeat for Miwako, who always felt trapped in her old hometown. Meanwhile, Ann has to quickly adjust to life away from Tokyo as well and soon meets a boy named Daigo, whose father hunts, kills, and eats game animals he shoots in the countryside. She also finds out that Daigo's mom and her mom were close friends when they were younger and begins to learn about her mom's dreams and aspirations. She begins to realize she belongs in Shimane even as her mom realizes her disgust with the place has not changed.

    My Grade: A+

    Direct download: Episode_112--Sand_Chronicles_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:54pm CDT

    Anime DVD Review: Buso Renkin Set 1, Disk 2, Episodes 5-8

    This an anime dvd review of Episodes 5-8 of the second disk of the Buso Renkin Box Set 1. The box set is published by Viz and is available for the list price of $49.99. I've seen it at Best Buy for $34.99. Directed by Takao Kato. Series Composition by Akatsuki Yamatoya. Rated 16+.

    The first dvd of this set ended in a cliffhanger, or in reality a FIGHThanger, as Kazuki and a handicapped Tokiko began their battle against Chono's servant, the hawk-type Homunculus named Washio. Tokiko is not operating at full capacity because she has a Homunculus embryo inside her that is slowly making its way to her brain, at which point she will turn into one of the very monsters she has been fighting. It is imperative that they finish the battle quickly so they can find Chono and get an antidote that will save her life. But Washio is not like the other Homunculi. He seems to have extremely acute reasoning skills and even exhibits a very human-like loyalty to Chono that causes him to fight to the death against Kazuki and Chono. And Chono is no longer the only villain of this piece. We are also introduced to the League of Extraordinary Elect, a group of humanoid Homunculi that are apparently led by a turncoat alchemist warrior that disappeared 100 years ago.

    The highlight, or more accurately, the lowlight, of this dvd has to be the transformation of Chono as he assumes the powers of a Homunculus and begins to call himself Papillon. Ok, how low does this anime go? Pretty low. When Chono transforms, all his clothes strip away, revealing him in all the glory a grayish thong with a purple butterfly on it can impart. Instantly he reaches into his thong, moves his hand in a very subversive way and pulls out a huge butterfly mask that couldn't possibly have fit in that tiny little thong. Then he does a little ballet spin in front of a shojoesque background of yellow glitter and strikes a pose, even as he is getting shot at by some of his father's goons. The costume he adopts later on is almost in worse taste than the too-revealing speedo. Papillon has to be the fruitiest villain I have ever encountered in an anime but he fits right in with some of the utterly ridiculous character designs of the monsters and bad buys in Buso Renkin. One of the Elect actually has a head in the shape of a crescent moon! This seems to be weak point of a lot of Shonen Jump titles. For example, the Hollows in Bleach, the monster forms of Naruto and Sasuke in the Naruto manga and anime. I mean, these series are drawn by good artists but when they do monsters, bad guys, or demonesque figures, they just show a complete lack of imagination and make something that is supposed to appear scary look funny. Or they make the villain overly feminine like in Black Cat. So however disturbed Chono makes you feel in his insane rant phases, it is severely undercut when he prances around like he's in a Broadway cabaret.

    Buso Renkin at times seems cobbled together from other manga and anime like Fullmetal Alchemist and Bleach, but all in all, I have enjoyed the first two volumes of this show even with the whole Papillon debacle. It was cool that we did get some backstory on Chono and that he is simply living his life like his father taught him. Taught probably wouldn't be the exact words I would use. It does seem as though he might not be quite beyond redemption though. I like all of the characters and the chemistry between Kazuki and Tokiko works quite well. They seem to respect each other and there is a very quiet relationship blossoming between them on the down-low.

    My Grade: B

     

     

    Category:Anime DVD Reviews -- posted at: 5:45pm CDT

    Podcast Episode 111-- Batman: Gotham Knight

    Podcast Review of the Batman: Gotham Knight dvd, a collaboration between American storytellers Greg Rucka, Alan Burnett, Brian Azzarello, Greg Olson and Japanese Animation studios Studio 4C, Production IG, Madhouse, and Bee Train. Published by Warner Brothers, $19.99, Rated 13+. Also available in a 2-disc special edition and Blu-ray for a higher price.

    If you ever saw the Animatrix, which bridged the timespan between the first and second Matrix movies, you will be familiar with the concept behind Batman: Gotham Knight. This dvd doesn't really introduce many new characters or storylines taken up in the The Dark Knight movie. It seems to be a device to whet the appetite for Batman fans before the new Dark Knight opens in theaters. Nothing less and nothing more. You get six loosely connected animated tales of Batman from American writers and Japanese anime studios which vary in quality from decent to really good.

    My Grade: B-

    Direct download: gotham_knight_form_3.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:35pm CDT

    Podcast Episode 110: Yggdrasil Volume 1 by Lay Matsuki

    Podcast manga review of Yggdrasil Volume 1 by Lay Matsuki. Translated by Christine Schilling. Adapted by Mallory Reaves. Originally published in Japan by Media Works. Published in US by Go Comi, $10.99, Rated Older Teen 16+.

    In 2010, Wood Soft Inc., a software company, ships the Leaves Operating System, which comes bundled MMORPG game Yggdrasil. It quickly picks up millions of players. Kaoru and Koki, two high schoolers, and buddies since childhood, are among those millions. But something seems to a little screwy in the online world of Yggdrasil. Monsters are appearing out of context, such as a creature usually only found in water appearing on land, or a forest monster appearing in a city. Not only that, but a legendary character from Yggdrasil's beta-test days, called The Phantom, has shown back up, and nobody knows why.

    My Grade: C-

    Direct download: Episode_110--Yggdrasil_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:58pm CDT

    Manga Review--GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka Volume 6 by Tohru Fujisawa

    Manga Review of GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka Volume 6 by Tohru Fujisawa. Translated by Dan Papia. Originally published in Japan by Kodansha. Published in US by Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated Older Teen 16+.

    Things were not going very good for GTO at the end of Volume 5. Representatives from "The Mother and Child Victim's Support Group" showed up at school demanding to observe Onizuka's classroom. It seems they have gotten word of inappropriate behavior in his class and they want to check it out for themselves. Wouldn't you know it that GTO is on one of his slightly crazy kicks and is walking the halls wearing nothing but suspenders, a bizarre elephant head tutu around his crotch area, and some boots! In a hard to miss Freudian metaphor, Onizuka sprays some sort of substance, which I can only hope was water, out of his trunk onto the face of the leader of the support group. He's on the verge of losing his position, but Teshigawara, the evil math teacher, wants to make sure Onizuka never gets another teaching job for the rest of his life. He wants to expose him for the unqualified joke that he really is. He proposes a plan to Ms. Oda, the support group leader, in which Onizuka will take the National Scholastic Achievement Test. This is an academic test that students take three times a year. If GTO is able to make the top score in the country, then he will be able to keep his job. If he can't do this then he will have to give up being a teacher forever. Of course, we all know Onizuka is a complete moron so there is little hope he will even pass it, much less ace it. Since he only has a week to prepare, Azusa invites him to stay over at her place so she can coach. You can imagine the fantasies that start going through our hero's head when he hears this proposition.

    The main thing that this volume and the series as a whole has going for it is its humor. Tohru Fujisawa is a great master of the common joke. He can make you laugh. When Onizuka starts daydreaming about all the fun he's going to have staying over at Azusa's (He actually visualizes the info he has to study being written on her naked body), he is rudely awakened when he finds out the dictatorial study regimen she has laid out for him. And some incredibly horrifying dishes to eat as well. He goes to an almost exclusive diet of grilled tuna head. She even supplies extra tuna eyeballs for him to eat that supposedly increase brain activity. Besides that she has electric head bands, pyramid triangles, wave generators, memoryman headphones, alpha wave music, and computer software to aid him. It doesn't really bode too well for his confidence that she's willing to go to such extreme lengths. The art is great as usual and is drawn very realistically. While there are moments of visual morphing during moments of humor or high emotion, there aren't any chibi figures to be seen in this series. So while the humor can be very funny, it never achieves this through drawing characters in wacky styles. It is done more by having the characters react to certain situations or to each other. Fujisawa also handles the action sequences very well. A great read. A great series.  

    My Grade: A

     

    Direct download: gto_6.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 2:24pm CDT

    Podcast Episode 109: Step Up Love Story Volume 1

    Anime DVD review of Step Up Love Story Volume 1: For Better, For Worse. Directed by Yuji Moriyama. Written by Chiaki Konaka. Based on the manga Futari Ecchi by Katsu Aki. Published by Media Works, $19.95, Episodes 1-2, Rated Mature.

    Makoto and Yura are newly married, both 25 years old, and still virgins. Their first night of romance is ruined when Yura falls asleep before anything can happen. But both partners soon realize that neither have any idea of how to satisfy each other sexually. This is further hammered home by Yura's slutty sister, Rika, who soon realizes that Makoto is clueless in the ways of love and has no idea how to make her sister happy and tries to instruct him on how to change the situation. Yura's friends try to give her advice as well on how to satisfy a man. It doesn't help that two co-workers are coming on to Makoto at work, even though they know he is married.

    My Grade: C-

    Direct download: Episode_109--Step_Up_Love_Story_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:25pm CDT

    Manga Review: Psycho Busters Volume 2

    Manga Review of Psycho Busters Volume 2. Story by Yuya Aoki, creator of Getbackers. Manga by Akinari Nao. Translated and adapted by Stephen Paul. Originally published by Kodansha in Japan. Published by Del Rey in US, $10.95, Rated Older Teen 16+.

    Kakeru and his new psychic friends are holed up at his house after being attacked by two Category Ones last volume. They won't be disturbed since Kakeru's mom and sisters are on vacation in Hawaii and his dad has been out of the country on business for 3 years. He doesn't exactly have the most tight-knit family. If you remember, there was a ticket mix-up in volume 1 and they were short by one ticket. Instead of cancelling the trip, they dumped Kakeru and went without him! Pretty ghetto if you ask me. We learn a bit more about the "Greenhouse" facility that Ayano, Xiao Long, Kaito, and Joi escaped from. Psychics are taken there by hook or crook and experimented on or made to serve the ends of its directors, the Frontier Committee. Some of the psychics were driven insane or even killed due to the methods the Greenhouse used. Ayano, the faculty member of Kakeru's school is still along for the ride as well, and is beginning to show that she is more than just a simple teacher. While the kids try to get some downtime at the school pool, the Greenhouse sends out one of their most powerful Category Ones, Takemaru, who has a serious inferiority complex, which causes to kill a lot of people with his powers and suffer from delusions of godhood.

    I'm beginning to really like this series. Mainly because of the changes that are occuring with Kakeru. In Volume 1, he was a computer game geek who looked forward to masturbating to his dad's high school girl porn. Slowly, he has evolved into a hero willing to sacrifice his life for his new friends. This is due mainly to his growing affection for Ayano, to whom he was attracted at first sight when she appeared in all her naked astral form last volume. As he gets to know her, his initial attraction is developing into love, even if he doesn't know it himself.  Kakeru wants to protect Ayano even though he is not really aware of what his psychic power is or how to activate it. It's always nice to see a cliched horndog manga character go beyond themselves and think about something other than sex. The art by Akinari Nao, while not great, is pretty good, and is an odd mix of bishonen and bishojo art styles that will appeal to both genders of manga readers. The story too, is a mix between superpowered battles combined with almost slice of life storytelling showing how all the kids are cohabitating. That's probably another reason Psychic Busters is growing on me. It takes some well known manga conventions and puts them together in an interesting mix.

    My Grade: A

    Check out Podcast Episode 100 for a review of Volume 1

    Direct download: psycho_busters.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 10:22am CDT

    Manga Review: Gunslinger Girl Volume 6 by Yu Aida

    Gunslinger Girl Volume 6 by Yu Aida. Translated by Javier Lopez. Originally published by Media Works in Japan. Published in US by ADV Manga, $9.99, Rated 16+.

    The Social Welfare Agency believes that it has learned from its past mistakes and is ready to begin production of a second generation of cyborg assassins. There will be an initial run of 10 girls with design improvements. While the physical abilities of the cyborgs will be less than that of the first, the new "conditioning" process will double their lifespan and make them easier to maintain. If this new system works, the SWA has even started thinking about a way to make money by selling its cyborg girls commercially. The first candidate is Elizabeta Baranovskaya, a ballet dancer who is suffering from bone cancer in one of her legs. It's gotten so bad that the doctors say the only way to save her life is to amputate it.  But nobody realizes that Elizabeta's dream of being a great ballerina is stronger than her will to live. If she loses her leg, in her eyes at least, her life is over. End of story.  Meanwhile, Giuseppe and Jean take their fratello, Henrietta and Rico, on a rare vacation where they hope to get away from their job. Unfortunately, it ends up dragging up old memories as Jean is reminded of his dead parents, a dead sister, and a fiance killed by Padania. He's not really a happy fellow.

    Gunslinger Girl really stands out in the writing and characterization departments. That's not to say that Aida can't handle the action sequences as well. In fact, while there is only one short battle in this volume, it is handled exquisitely and cinematically. The way the panels are laid out is something he couldn't do in earlier volumes. It's really cool to see someone mature not just artistically but as a writer too. The new girl, Petrushka, joins a cast that the reader was already very sympathetic to, but in a surprise move, her backstory is front and center. In the past, Aida has glanced over the lives of the girls before they became part of the SWA.  It was merely a footnote, so it was a clever twist for Aida to use the newest member to begin some character exploration. Alessandro, Petrushka's handler, comes across as a bit of a jerk, but maybe he's insensitive simply because of the nature of his job. It's pretty creepy that the handler can actually tell the doctors of the SWA exactly what they want their girl to look like. I mean, the hubris of these guys to play God like they do. Unfortunately, if you like this series, it is currently in publishing limbo. This volume was published in December 2007 and there's been no word when ADV will put out the next book. After losing most of their newer anime titles, I'm beginning to wonder if ADV will even be in business this time next year.

    My Grade A-

    Direct download: gunslinger_6.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 3:33pm CDT

    Podcast Episode 108: Gunslinger Girl Volume 5 by Yu Aida

    Manga Podcast Episode 108: Gunslinger Girl Volume 5 by Yu Aida. Translated by Javier Lopez. Originally published in Japan by Media Works. Published in US by ADV Manga, $9.99, Rated 16+.

    A brief overview of the series and then a review of Volume 5. Padania has begun to suffer from a bit of infighting and the first victim is going to be Cristiano, the leader of the Milan faction. His only allies are Franco, Franca, and Pinocchio. All of them feel a sense of loyalty to Cristiano, especially Pinocchio, whose life he saved many years ago. The Prime Minister of the government sees this as the perfect time to eliminate Padania once and for all, so he sends out the SWA girls to begin an offensive.

    My Grade: A+

    Check out Podcast Episode 90 for a review of Volume 1

    Direct download: Episode_108--Gunslinger_Girl_5.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:11pm CDT

    Podcast Episode 107: Arm of Kannon Volume 1 by Masakazu Yamaguchi

    Podcast Manga Review 107: Arm of Kannon Volume 1 by Masakazu Yamaguchi. Translated by Erika Jones. Adapted by Jordan Capell. Published in Japan by Gentosha. Published in US by Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated Mature 18+.

    This Podcast contains mature language so keep the kids away!!

    Mao and Maya's archaeology professor father has been missing for 3 years, but now he's come home to see his kids. But he's not the same devoted familyman he used to be. He has been corrupted by the evil Arm of Senju Kannon which, while granting unlimited power, only lets its host use it for evil until they become a burned out husk. Then the Arm chooses a new vessel. Mao, with his concealed sexual energy and lust for blood, would seem to be the next candidate. A strange nameless swordsman shows up on the scene to stop the transfer even as a military contractor seeks to capture the arm for itself to aid in making monstrous reptilian super soldiers. This first volume contains graphic violence and sexual imagery definitely suited to adults only. Fans of Gantz, Battle Royale, and Eden will dig it.

    My grade: A

    Direct download: Episode_107_small--Arm_of_Kannon_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:24pm CDT

    Podcast Episode 106: Gantz Volume 1 by Hiroya Oku

    Podcast Manga Review of Gantz Volume 1 by Hiroya Oku. Translated by Matthew Johnson. Originally published in Japan by Shueisha. Published in US by Dark Horse, $12.95, Rated Mature 18+.

    The highly violent, highly sexualized, and highly anticipated series is finally out from Dark Horse and it doesn't disappoint. Kei and Kato are saved from death in a subway accident only to find themselves trapped in a room with a group of people from all walks of life whisked away in a similar manner right before they died. They cannot leave and are commanded by a strange black globe to hunt down and kill an alien. 

    My Grade: A+

    Direct download: Episode_106--Gantz_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:57pm CDT

    Podcast Episode 105: Koi Cupid Volume 1

    Podcast manga review of Koi Cupid Volume 1 by Mia Ikumi. Translated by Rie Hagihara. Adapted by Jason R. Grissom. Originally published in Japan by Soft Bank Creative. Published in US by Broccoli Books, $9.99, Rated E for Everyone.

    The job of the cupids Ai, Koi, and Ren, is to make sure that those that are fated to be lovers come together to fulfill their destiny. Sometimes it might be the shyness of the boy or girl that is keeping them apart. Or it could be a job or a misunderstanding. Whatever it is, the three girls must find a way to overcome the obstacle. They not only struggle with their own ineptitude at times, but also must faceoff against cute demons like Lizette, whose goal in life is to foil angel missions.

    My Grade for 8-10 year old girl readers: B

    My Grade for readers 11+: C-

    Direct download: Episode_105--Koi_Cupid_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:35pm CDT

    Gurren Lagann Beats Batman

    Well, I had put in my order for the Dark Knight Blu-Ray dvd from Amazon, but after reading some negative reviews online, it just did not seem like a safe bet to buy it sight unseen. So I cancelled my order. I'm going to rent it before I put down money on it.

    But I did find an unknown quantity to buy today. I bought the first volume of Gurren Lagann at Best Buy for $19.99. It's quite a good deal from Bandai Entertainment, which seems a complete antithesis of Bandai Visual with its overpriced monstrosities. Bandai Enter has always had very reasonable prices for its anime dvds. This first volume of Gurren actually has two dvds comprising episodes 1-9. You can't beat getting 225 minutes of anime for that price. Thank you Bandai Entertainment! I've never seen the show, but Gainax is doing it so it can't be that bad. (Even though I pretty much despise Evangelion, I like FLCL, Abenobashi). So, hopefully, my money will be worth it and I will enjoy it.

    Direct download: Gurren.jpg
    Category:general -- posted at: 5:18pm CDT

    Manga Review: Harukaze Bitter Bop Volume 2

    Manga Review of Harukaze Bitter Bop Volume 2 by Court Betten. Translated by Christine Schilling. Adapted by Kereth Cowe-Spigai. Originally published in Japan by Mag Garden. Published in US by Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated Teen 13+.

    Souza of the North Wind still hasn't recovered his memory, and it might be a bit late anyway, as he is apparently killed by an assassin named Kurusu of the Sun. Or at least severely wounded.  Kurusu was sent from the Rokka corporation, which on the surface appears to be a normal career placement business. And this is not quite a lie. In reality it takes on ANY assignment as long as the money is right. They have even gone so far as to begin making an "ultimate man" called a "Yoh", which in essence is a kind of super soldier that Rokka can use to complete its missions. Souza was one such operative until he went rogue. Of course, Chiyoharu and Kaede have no idea that Souza has been captured by the company, but they have their own problems. Chiyoharu's buddy, Tomason, has been taken hostage by a Yakuza thug named Sanjuro Araki in an effort to extort money that their teacher, Ayame, owes the mob. I don't think we really know at this point exactly what sum it is or why Ayame had to borrow it from the Yakuza. But I doubt they would be coming after her for petty change.

    If you listened to Podcast Episode 84 in which I reviewed Volume 1 of this series, you know that I did not particularly care for that book. I actually had second thoughts about buying this next installment but I decided to give it one more chance. Volume 2 was more of the same, but for some reason, I liked it more. Probably because there was some explanation of what was going on. For instance, we find out what Souza is and why his memories have been lost. Since the reader can understand why things are happening now, you can begin to develop a plot, which seemed to be largely absent from Volume 1. It just seemed to be a hodgepodge of different character types and genres thrown together under one title with no rhyme or reason. This is still the basic weakness of the book. You have Yazkuza, girl detectives, evil corporations, martial arts battles, mixed in with some metamanga. It almost becomes a parody of itself, with the characters sometimes being fully aware that they are in a manga. In the end, Harukaze is just meant to be a fun diversion, and is never meant to be taken seriously, even for a millisecond.

    My Grade: B

    Direct download: harukaze2.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 1:37pm CDT

    Batman, Geneon, and Barack Obama in Air Gear!

    Batman: Gotham Knight is out on DVD and Blu-Ray today featuring the animation of such popular Japanese studios as Production IG, 4c, and Madhouse. I haven't had a chance to see it yet. I looked at Hollywood Video today but for some dumb reason they did not receive any copies. Amazon.com has a pretty good price for the Blu-Ray version: $21.95 which I will probably order tomorrow. I'm pretty excited about the new movie. The official site link is:

    http://www.warnervideo.com/batmangothamknight/


    Funimation has listed some of the release dates of series it picked up from Geneon:

    August 19: Black Lagoon season 1, Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage volume 1, Elemental Gelade volume 1

    September 2: Karin volumes 1-4, Kyo kara Maoh! season 2's volume 1-7

    September 9: Shakugan no Shana series box

    September 16: Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage volume 2, Fate/stay night
    series box, Hellsing Ultimate volumes 1-4, Rozen Maiden series box

    September 23: Kamichu! series box, Paradise Kiss series box

    September 30: When They Cry - Higurashi volumes 1-4
    (source: ANN)

    I definitely will pick up the Fate/Stay Night and Kamichu sets. These are both great shows. From what I understand the prices for the box sets will be in line with Funimation, not Geneon. So I would expect them to run around $50. Rozen Maiden would be a borderline purchase for me.


    Lastly, on Madeleine Rosca's Live Journal, she posted a picture of a new character that was introduced in the Japanese manga Air Gear in chapter 206 who is purported to be a takeoff of presidential candidate Barack Obama. The character is named John Omaha. I can't vouch for the translation but one of the comments on her blog says the panel translates his dialogue as "Why is it on this night when I'm meeting such a lovely person, I have failed to bring my tuxedo" and the side panel reads "the candidate for the next president of the United States". Now if he would just put on some ATs! Of course, Rosca is the artist and writer of the exquisite Hollow Fields from Seven Seas, with two volumes out now. She makes me believe that OEL has a future and can be better than Japanese manga in some cases. You can click on my link to her Live Journal underneath blogs on my webpage.

    Direct download: obama.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 9:03pm CDT

    Manga Review: Samurai Commando Volumes 1-2

    Manga Review of Samurai Commando: Mission 1549 Volumes 1&2. Art by Ark Performance. Story by Harutoshi Fukui. Original idea by Ryo Hanmura. Translated and adapted by Sheldon Drzka. Originally published in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten. Published in US by CMX, $9.99 each, Rated T+.

    35-year-old Yusuke Kashima is having a hard time finding a job that he can hold on to. Currently he's on the verge of losing his eighth one since being discharged from the Japanese Self Defense Force. In the SDF, he was part of the special marine brigade "F Unit" serving under his idol, the charismatic and now deceased Colonel Matoba. After F Unit was disbanded, Kashima became disillusioned with both the military and Matoba and has been trying to adjust to the civilian life ever since. He finds out how little his own problems matter when the military comes a callin'. They show him pictures of strange globes of black energy both large and small that have begun to appear across Japan. These black holes are replacing our space and if they continue not only will Japan be replaced, but our entire dimension. What does all this have to do with Kashima, you ask? Six years ago, his mentor, Matoba, was killed in action. Well, at least, that's what the military said. The actual truth of what happened to him is a pretty amazing tale. 6 years ago, while testing some new military technology, Matoba and his unit were somehow transported back in time to the year 1549! It is believed that these holes are being caused by Matoba changing the past. Their suspicions are correct. Matoba plans on using his technological know-how to conquer not only Japan but the entire world. Kashima is going to be part of a mission to go back in time and bring Matoba back to the present. How long is he given to save the world? 3 days!

    Whenever you involve time travel in a story, you always run into questions that spawn more questions. For instance, if the black holes are caused by changes in the time continuum, it wouldn't make any difference if you brought Matoba back to the present. The damage has already been done, and any change in the past would result in a completely different reality, especially for Japan. And once the future technology was introduced by Matoba, the cat would be out of the bag as well. For example, Matoba fashions a hybrid armor for his men, blending the craft of  Japanese and European metalwork. It's too much to ask us to believe that someone back in 1549 would not emulate this armor and perhaps change the course of warfare in the past. The art is pretty good if lacking soul and passion. That pretty much sums up this two volume manga as well. Since the plot only allows 3 days to complete its mission, we don't get to spend a lot of time getting to know the characters, so the writer has to paint their personalites and motivations with very broad strokes with very little room to add nuances and depth. The main theme comes across loud and clear and has been echoed through the ages from ancient Rome to current America. Namely, that there are always those who wonder if their present country is living up to the ideals of its ancestors. Matoba and Kashima are very concerned that modern Japan has lost something very vital that it once had. Could it be the fact that our consumer culture has stripped men of everything they once cherished? Is our century even capable of fostering the traits of bravery, loyalty, and sacrifice? These are questions that other nations have asked themselves when the intelligent among them believed their country had lost its way. The problem is that this manga throws the moral of its own sermonizing message directly in your face too many times, especially in the second volume. For better handling of this same plot device, I would highly recommend watching the anime Zipang. This was an ok read, but there just wasn't time to flesh it out.

    My Grade: C+

    Direct download: samurai_commando.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 7:43pm CDT

    Episode 104: Aquarion The Complete Series Part 1, Episodes 1-5

    Anime DVD review of Episodes 1-5 of the Aquarion Complete Series Box Set Part 1. Published by Funimation.

    12,000 years ago the human race was saved from defeat by the Solar Wing, a Shadow Angel who betrayed his own race for the love of a human girl. All of these thousands of years passed with no word of the Shadow Angels but they reawakened in the aftermath of the Great Catastrophe which devastated the planet 11 years ago. Now the only force that can stand against them is Aquarion, a giant mecha composed of three seperate vehicles called Vectors, that unite to battle the Angels. Only those with special psychic abilities, called Elements, can pilot the Vectors, so a world-wide search to find the best candidates has been launched. It is the hope of the searchers to find the reincarnation of the Solar Wing in the hopes that he can save mankind.

    You can watch the first two episodes for free at the official Aquarion website:

    http://funimation.com/aquarion/

    My Grade: B+

    Direct download: Episode_104--Aquarion_Episodes_1-5.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:52pm CDT

    Manga Review: Sunshine Sketch Volume 1 by Ume Aoki

    Manga Review of Sunshine Sketch Volume 1 by Ume Aoki. Translated by Satsuki Yamashita. Originally published by Houbunsha in Japan. Published in US by Yen Press, $10.99, Rated Teen.

    Sunshine Sketch is about 4 art students attending the prestigious Yamabuki Private High School. They are all neighbors in the Hidamari Apartment Building, which is notorious for housing weirdos from the Arts department. I don't know if you would qualify sophomores Yun and Miyu, and juniors Sae and Hiro as "weirdos" per se, but they are all a bit quirky in their own way. The story is mainly told from the viewpoint of Yuno, the stereotypical klutz airhead of the series. You can see the apple doesn't fall far from the tree when her mom takes her for entrance exams and is last seen waving goodbye to Yuno. Hours later, after the test is over, Yuno exits the building to find that her mom is STILL waving, with a hugely swollen arm! Miyu is the pushy energy ball who shows up as soon as Yuno moves into Hidamari, demanding moving Soba (it's a Japanese tradition to make Soba for your new neighbors). This is just the first act of sponging off of Yuno that Miyu instigates. She sees Yuno as a food source and a servant....and as a friend....I guess. Sae and Hiro live on the floor beneath Yuno and Miyu and since they are a year older, see themselves as kind of big sisters to the younger duo. Sae is the more intelligent of the two and seems much more mature, while Hiro is a bit spacier but hides a sly wit and sarcasm that she uses to insult the other girls. Whether she does this intentionally or not, she always plays off her insults as dumb coencidence.

    Sunshine Sketch is a series of four panel cartoons that read vertically going down the page a la Azumanga Daioh. Because of this format and the subject matter I found it hard not to compare the two series, much to Sunshine's detriment. While Azumanga's jokes were always clear and almost always brought a laugh, the humor in Sunshine is much more hit and miss. Because the book is broken into pseudo chapters, the punchline for a joke can come pages later, much more like Cromartie High School, instead of being rapid fire like Azumanga. This spacing of the jokes tends to dilute the comedy. There were many times reading this book that I realized a joke had been told and I was supposed to laugh but I just didn't get it. But I felt that this was due more to the obscurity of the original writing than a misunderstanding of the Japanese translation or cultural references. The art is pretty average according to the unremarkable subject matter that is being drawn. The character designs and the personalities of the cast stand out a bit better upon a second reading but at this point are a bit formless and hard to distinguish. Sunshine Sketch shows promise at this point and could be quite funny once you get to know the characters a bit more.

    My Grade: B

    Direct download: sunshine_sketch.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 11:48am CDT

    Manga Review: Sorcerer Hunters Volume 5 by Ray Omishi and Satoru Akahori

    Sorcerer Hunters Volume 5. Art by Ray Omishi. Story by Satoru Akahori. Translated by Anita Sengupta. Originally published by Media Works in Japan. Published in US by Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated Older Teen 16+.

    The Sorcerer Hunters had quite the Darth Vader moment facing off against the Sorcerer Hunter Killers last volume. Tira and Chocolat learned that the leader of the Killers was none other than their adopted father Sacher Torte, who had rebelled against Big Mama 13 years ago.  Also among Sacher's cronies is Gateau's sister, who he had thought long dead, and apparently has no memory of her brother. She seems more than willing to kill him without a second thought. Years ago, Sacher even tried to kill Tira and Chocolat in a fit of psychotic rage, so Chocolat in particular wants to take revenge on him. He was wounded by Carrot's father in volume 4 but continues to be a threat as long as he can draw on the power of his Platina stones, which allow him to wield a pure form of magic which was reserved only for gods. The Sorcerer Hunters must find these five stones and destroy them if they hope to defeat Sacher. But their mission is not going to be easy because Sacher has posted powerful guardians to watch over each stone. Each battle is different because each guardian is unique and has their own methods of trying to defeat the Hunters, whether they be physical or more psychological.

    Even though the art has a definite 1990's look to it, Omishi's skills are on proud display as she is a master of action, comedy, and even illustrating a heartfelt flashback at how Carrot and Chocolat met when they were kids. To me, this was the best part of Volume 5. Yeah, we know that Chocolat has a thing for Carrot, but here we find out why. It is a welcome event to reveal that Carrot is not quite the mindless horndog and that Chocolat is not quite the mindless dingbat that she puts on. That there is a loving bond between the two, even though the love each feels might be different. Even at that early of an age Chocolat wanted to find and kill Sacher but Carrot put some sense into her head, knowing that she would only wind up dead if she confronted him. Even NOW, she would probably end up dead! But now she has friends that care about her and will help her out. Akahori almost always finds a way to get some comedy into each story even if there is a particularly serious arc, but it never seems forced or out of place. This series probably should have been rated Mature since it does feature a couple of full-on boob shots along the level of Ai Yori Aoshi.

    My Grade: A-

    Direct download: sorcerer_hunters5.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 11:44am CDT

    Manga Review: Gunslinger Girl Volume 4 by Yu Aida

    Gunslinger Girl Volume 4 by Yu Aida. Translated by Javier Lopez. Originally published in Japan by Media Works. Published in US by ADV Manga, $9.99, Rated 16+.

    Volume 4 of Gunslinger Girl begins with a focus on perhaps the saddest member of the cast of girl assassins: Claes. Her handler had begun to doubt the ethics of what he was doing and had thought about exposing the whole operation. To prevent this, he was liquidated by the SWF. The problem is that once a girl bonds to her handler, there is no going back and it is extremely hard, if not impossible, to give her a new partner. So Claes is pretty much excess baggage and is only kept alive for the sake of study and experimentation. Since her memory was wiped clean, she walks around with a sense of something missing from her life. A sadness she can't quite put her finger on. Triela, too, is having some life issues, as she grapples with her first major defeat by the killer Pinocchio. She would have gotten killed by him, but he had a flashback to something in his past and spared her life. She doesn't have a lot of time to dwell on it though, as she and Hillshire are assigned to protect a mob boss daughter because her father has decided to turn state's evidence against his former friends.

    The aspect of this series that Aida handles so well is that there isn't a lot of exploitation of the "cute" factor that drawing and portraying such young girls could easily slip into. Instead the writer shows how the spirit of each girl finds a way to fight its way up through all the brainwashing and conditioning to desperately grasp at something of a normal life. While the story sometimes flirts with the idea that the girls are in love with their partners, again, this is never taken to moe otaku extremes and is explained by saying it is a result of their conditioning. Aida also handles flashbacks well, using them just enough to explain her character motivations and giving them depth, without causing jarring interruptions in the flow of the current storyline. This is a great series. It's too bad that ADV Manga sucks and a new volume hasn't been published in 6 months. At one time, the release schedule averaged one volume per YEAR. For example, Volume 3 was published in June 2005 while this fourth volume did not come out till July 2007! And now it seems like there has been another interruption. They should really just give up the license, along with Cromartie and Yotsuba and get out of the manga business.

    My Grade: A

    Direct download: gunslinger4.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 11:00am CDT

    Well, never fear if you cowering in your boots about the demise of Geneon and consequently, the fate of your favorite anime series. According to ANN, Funimation has picked up the rights to

    "manufacture, sell, and distribute "select" DVD titles in North America. Those titles include Ergo Proxy, Hellsing Ultimate, Black Lagoon, Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage, Karin, Kyo kara Maoh! Season 2, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Elemental Gelade, Fate/stay night, Kamichu, the live-action Ninja Vixens work, Paradise Kiss, Rozen Maiden, Rozen Maiden - Träumend, Shana, Shonen Onmyouji, The Familiar of Zero, The Story of Saiunkoku, When They Cry - Higurashi, and The Law of Ueki." 

    Hot on the heels of this news is the fact that Funimation has also picked up the rights to the following ADV series:

    (ANN)

    So, while this seems to be good news, to me it's also kind of ominous. If ADV or Geneon couldn't make enough profit off these titles, will Funimation be able to? It seems to invite a charge of hubris, at least to me. Maybe Funi has bitten off more than it can chew. Could this be a case of a company walking into a candystore and filling up their pockets with licenses and then realizing they only have one mouth to stuff it all in? And also, how are they going to handle the releases? I would suspect as boxsets.

    I really felt bad for Geneon when they went down. They had good titles and almost always did quality work on their shows. They are sorely missed. ADV, on the other hand, has come to define everything wrong with the anime and manga business. They do crappy dubs with the same core group that they've had for almost the whole time I've been watching anime. And don't even get me started on their manga division. Where is Gunslinger Girl? Yotsuba? Cromartie? They don't respect their customers. In some figurative respects, they spit on them as well. I don't think that a lot of these companies know how to compete or market very well. At this point, they are becoming more and more irrelevant. Tokyopop comes to mind as well. But they still have time to change their fate.

    So I guess I'll give a cautious hooray to Funimation for the time being but reserve judgement over whether this is the Second Coming until I see what they do with the product.

    Category:News -- posted at: 4:13pm CDT

    Manga Review: 10,20, and 30 Volume 2 by Morim Kang

    Manga Review: 10,20, and 30 Volume 2 by Morim Kang. Translated by Misun Jang. Published by Net Comics, $9.99, Rated 16+.

    As this second volume opens, Belle has run away from the Krumb household. Well, if you call going to your mom's house running away. Belle's mom is still on about her finding a man and getting married, even if it means marrying the useless Beau. Meanwhile, Rok is having her own man problems as she continues to question why she treats Angel so badly, lashing out at him for no reason. And she gets even more upset when she finds out her best friend has been hanging out with him. Plus, Rok is trying her best to help her overworked mom juggle her roles of mother and breadwinner. Krumb herself is struggling over the guilt of becoming more and more attached to her boss, Mr. Choe, whose marriage proposal is still on the table. When he tells Krumb he is going to Hong Kong to see about a problem at one of the company's factories, he neglects to tell her that it the main retailer that carries their fashion line has gone out of business. Krumb's employer itself is now facing bankruptcy.

    This second installment of 10,20, and 30 at times slips a little too close to over the top melodrama for my taste. But a little soap opera is ok if you care about the characters. And Krumb, Belle, and Rok are definitely interesting and sympathetic. You're not going to find any protagonists that have all the answers in their backpocket here. All three women (or should I say two women and 1 young lady) are desperately in search of something, even though they don't always know what it is. Perhaps it is happiness? So they fumble their way towards this goal, sometimes being bitchy and getting on each other's nerves, or snapping at the guys that like them. But in turn, they are just as likely to cry in each other's arms a moment after saying they can't stand each other. It's real life, man! Relationships, whether they are between family members or lovers, can be quite complex, unless you lead a really boring life. Kang's art, is very cartoony and lacks formal realism but she gets it to work within the framework of her story and is able to get just as much emotional mileage out of it as more detailed art might. While the plot is made up mostly of relationship problems, the characters will win you over.

    My Grade: B+

    See Episode 12 of my podcast show for a review of Volume 1.

    Only two volumes of this series have been printed, but more volumes are available online at  www.netcomics.com

     

    Direct download: 102030.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 3:34pm CDT

    Podcast Episode 103: In Odd We Trust by Dean Koontz and Queenie Chan

    Podcast Manga Review of In Odd We Trust by Queenie Chan and Dean Koontz. Published by Del Rey, $10.95.

    Odd Thomas is a young guy who usually keeps his nose out of other people's business, unless they are dead people. Odd has the ability to see the spirits of the dead. From time to time these spirits seek him out for a bit of help, or just to hang out. Elvis is a pretty firm fixture in the town. A seven-year-old boy is found stabbed to death by a housekeeper along with a letter from the killer. It appears that the murderer was the same person that had been stalking the housekeeper for the past two months. The housekeeper, Sherry, just happens to be the best friend of Odd's girlfriend, Stormy. The authorities think that other children that lived where Sherry was employed could also be on the killer's list of targets. Will Odd Thomas and his pals, along with the spirit of the dead boy,be able to find the psychopath before he strikes again?

    My Grade: F

    Direct download: Episode_103--In_Odd_We_Trust.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:24pm CDT