Thu, 24 July 2008
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
Wed, 23 July 2008
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+