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.


Manga Reviews
Anime DVD Reviews
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August 2008
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Sesho Maru

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My Review Index By Title

  • My Anime Reviews A-L
  • My Anime Reviews M-Z
  • My Manga Reviews A-L
  • My Manga Reviews M-Z
  • VAMPYBIT.ME - The official Linda Le Weblog

    Free To View Anime

  • Anime News Network
  • Aniplex on Youtube
  • Bandai on Youtube
  • Crunchyroll
  • Funimation
  • Anime
  • Viz Anime
  • Free Online Manga

  • Shonen Sunday
  • Viz Ikki
  • Free Online Games

  • Alteil
  • Battlefield Heroes
  • Combat Arms
  • Dungeon Fighter Online
  • Games Campus
  • Mabinogi
  • Maple Story
  • Neosteam
  • Ragnarok
  • Shin Megami Tensei
  • Anime and Manga Blogs

  • Anime Vice
  • Anime Genesis (podcast)
  • Astronerd's Anime and Manga Blog
  • Comics 212
  • Emily's Shoujo Manga
  • An Eternal Thought in the Mind of Godzilla
  • Flipped
  • I Heart Manga
  • JapanBlogLink
  • Japanamerica
  • Kuriousity
  • Madeleine Rosca
  • The Manga Critic
  • Manga Recon
  • Manga Xanadu
  • Mangablog
  • Ninja Consultant
  • PopKissKiss
  • Precocious Curmudgeon
  • R5 Central (Podcast)
  • Rocket Bomber
  • The Shooting Star Project
  • Simplicity
  • Sporadic Sequential
  • Tangognat
  • Tiamat's Manga Reviews
  • News

  • Anime News Network
  • Anime On DVD
  • Ars Technica
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  • The Japan Times Online
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  • Music

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  • Hikaru Utada
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  • Artists

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  • SigmaRue
  • Stella Lai
  • Magazines

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  • Comics Buyer's Guide
  • Gamefan
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  • Neo
  • Otaku USA
  • Wired

  • EPK

    Manga & Anime Companies

  • Aniplex
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  • Dark Horse
  • Del Rey
  • DMP
  • Drawn and Quarterly
  • DrMaster
  • Fantagraphics
  • Funimation
  • Go Comi!
  • Infinity Studios
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  • Netcomics
  • Ponent Mon
  • Right Stuf
  • Seven Seas
  • Tokyopop
  • Udon
  • Vertical
  • Viz
  • Yen Press
  • Japanese Sights & Sounds

  • Akiba Blog
  • CuteoBento
  • Danny Choo
  • Muza-chan's Gate to Japan
  • Shibuya 246
  • Tokyo Mango
  • Tokyo Times
  • Figures

  • Good Smile Company
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  • Yamato USA
  • Science Fiction

  • Grrl
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  • Videogames

  • Activision
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  • Amanda Kay
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  • Hi Krista
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  • Ripten
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  • RPGamer
  • RPG Site
  • Set on Stun
  • Siliconera
  • Square Enix
  • Tale of Tales
  • Ubisoft
  • Warning! A Huge Podcast
  • American Comics

  • Aspen Comics
  • Babs's Blog
  • Boom Studios
  • Comic Book Resources
  • Comic Vine
  • DC Comics
  • Dynamite
  • IDW
  • Image
  • Oni Press
  • Radical
  • Top Cow
  • Manga Review: Hikaru No Go Volume 10

    Manga Review of Hikaru No Go Volume 10: "Lifeline". Story by Yumi Hotta. Art by Takeshi Obata (Death Note). Supervised by Yukari Umezawa (5 Dan). Translated and adapted by Andy Nakatani. Originally published in Japan by Shueisha. Published in US by Viz under their Shonen Jump imprint, $7.95, Rated A for All Ages.  

    Hikaru just barely managed to survive the prelims of the pro test, not because he lacked the skill but because he lacked experience playing against adults. His playing has been pretty insular in terms of variety. He had only really been playing against the formal and quite dry styles of his Go study group. So when he went up against a maverick like Tsubaki he became quite rattled and let what were simply eccentric mannerisms ruin his concentration. But he's gained a ton of confidence after Waya and Isumi took him around to different Go salons last volume. Meanwhile, Akira Toya, still feeling the fear of being beat by Shindo at the beginning of this series, wants to find out just how far his rival has progressed. To do this he wants to set up a teaching match with Ochi. What he wants to do is teach Ochi to use his own style of play so when Ochi plays against Shindo, Toya will be able to tell how his own strategies would work. Unfortunately, Ochi doesn't want to be Toya's lab rat and refuses to accept his help. While he helped Shindo in volume 9, Isumi is currently the one that is suffering from a crisis of confidence and begins to lose games after being spooked by Shindo's newfound skill.

    I'm still amazed after reading 10 volumes of this series that I still have interest in a book that is simply about playing Go! I mean, would I feel the same if someone wrote a manga about Monopoly? Weirdly enough, if the right Japanese artist and writer were doing it, I would probably give it at least a chance. I don't think a comic like Hikaru No Go could be done by an American comic book dude or dudette. I think the very foreignness of the concept is what attracts me to Hikaru No Go. The very oddity that a game could be taken so deadly serious that people become professional Go players. But really, I guess it's no different than people becoming professional baseball players or some other sport which is just a child's game really. The art by Death Note's Takeshi Obata is spot on as usual and he manages to convey a Rocky-like physicality and dramatic flourish to a game that is essentially an intellectual cat and mouse endeavour. Sorta like Death Note. I question sometimes whether I will get sick of this title. Then I find myself answering with a definite no. At least as long as Shindo and his friends don't develop superpowers and start swordfighting with demons.

    My Grade: B

    Direct download: hikaru_10.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 9:21am CST

    Manga Review: Tetragrammaton Labyrinth volume 3

    Manga review of Tetragrammaton Labyrinth Volume 3 by Ei Itou. Translated by Kenji Komiya. Adapted by Shannon Fay. Originally published in Japan by Wani Books. Published in US by Seven Seas under their Strawberry yuri imprint, $11.99, Rated Older Teen 16+.

    As Meg and Ann continue their mission to Germany by train, we flashback many years ago when Meg and Ann first met in Nepal. At that time Meg was just a child and traveled with her father, a missionary preacher set on seeking out unbelievers to convert them to Christianity. His wanderings had taken him to Katmandu in Nepal where Ann is being worshipped as the earthly incarnation of a local goddess. Unknown to him, some of the natives had begun to grow resentful of his presence and felt threatened by his new religion. Some of the angriest decided to take matters into their own hands and deliberately sabotaged a tall wooden pillar so that it fell and critically wounded Meg. When he learned what really happened, he snapped, completely lost his faith in God, and sought out a darker power to save his daughter and take revenge. Coming back to the present, Meg and Ann are attacked on the train by Prelati, the high ranking demon that showed up last volume, and this time he isn't alone. Thankfully, neither are Meg and Ann as some old acquaintances show up to give them aid and new weapons.

    First up, this manga should definitely be rated Mature 18+ because it has some pretty graphic violence. There are scenes of dismemberment and even bodies torn in half with their guts hanging out. Even though the title is marketed by Seven Seas as yuri, it has practically no girl on girl entanglements or romance. So if you're into that sort of thing exclusively, you should probably skip this book. The relationship between Meg and Ann is one of friendship. Very intense friendship, but not romantic. Both girls need each other not because they lust for each other, but because they need companionship. In the last volume, Meg was complaining that there were no "normal" people in the organization that they work for and Ann had to put her in check by replying that Meg herself was not normal. The true extent of that statement is fully revealed in this third installment. The fact is that the two girls cling to each other because each is a bulwark against solitude and loneliness. Tetragrammaton Labyrinth's style is more like that of Bleach or Chrono Crusade without as much humor and a better feel for horror. In fact, the author acknowledges his debt to Crusade and even recounts a conversation he had with the creator of that series, Daisuke Moriyama, and got his ok that his own work wasn't a ripoff. Moriyama even contributes a drawing of Ann for this volume. While I enjoyed the first half of Volume 3, the second half has me worried. When two characters from previous volumes show up to help Ann and Meg, it almost plays out like an American superhero comic, and the work suffers for it because it loses its hardwon sense of creepiness. Hopefully, volume 4 will get the series back on track.

    My Grade: B+

    Direct download: tetra_3.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 12:40pm CST

    Podcast Episode 125: Sola Volume 1

    Podcast Episode 125: Manga Review of Sola Volume 1. Art by Chaco Abeno. Story by Naoki Hisaya. Character Designs by Naru Nanao. Translated by Azusa Hatori. Adapted by Jan Suzukawa. Originally published in Japan by Media Works. Published in US by Broccoli Books, $10.99, Rated 13+.

    Yorito Moriyama, a 15-year-old orphan, doesn't have the ideal life. His parents are dead and his older sister, Aono, is hospitalized with an unknown sickness. So he pretty much has to look after himself and make sure he keeps his sister's spirits up. While his life to some onlookers might seem a bit tragic, he seems to deal with the responsibility pretty well. Things turn a little weird when he meets Matsuri Shihou, a girl who looks Yorito's age, but is really a Yaka, an immortal being. She is actually about 350 years old. Hot on her trail is a swordsman named Takeshi, who wants to kill her and use her blood.

    My Grade: B+

    Direct download: Episode_125--Sola_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:00pm CST

    Manga Review--GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka Volume 8

    Manga Review of GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka Volume 8 by Tohru Fujisawa. Translated and adapted by Dan Papia. Originally published in Japan by Kodansha. Published in US by Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated Older Teen 16+.

    Tohru Fujisawa starts Volume 8 of GTO out pretty cleverly by doing a whole chapter from Onizuka's first person point of view. In fact, we never even hear him talk. All the dialogue comes from Saejima, one of his old motorcycle gang buddies that holds an even more surprising job than GTO. Saejima is a cop! But he's not above swiping seized drugs and hiring call girls. He's probably not the best guy to go to in times of moral crisis. But Onizuka is desperate. He's being driven crazy by Urumi Kanzaki, the legendary school terrorist that GTO almost buried alive last volume. She's basically made him her slave by threatening to tell the authorities about the incident. GTO is looking for a way out of the situation or to reach Urumi and turn her to the good side. Or to at least make her value her life. You see, Urumi lost her faith in not only teachers, but in humanity and life in general back in the 6th grade. GTO and some other students, including Urumi, run into Ms. Fujimori, her 5th and 6th grade teacher. Back then, Urumi was recognized as being gifted and talented with a genius level IQ, and she never caused any trouble. Ms. Fujimori did something pretty horrible to her due to her lack of maturity and teaching experience that has caused a wound inside Urumi that continues to fester to this day. It's up to GTO to heal her soul and, as he quite eloquently states, "open up her butthole", to let out all the crap that she's been holding inside of herself.

    The cool thing about GTO besides all the great art, vulgarity, and humor, is the fact that it takes up some pretty powerful issues that continue to be argued about in education and probably always will be. This volume takes up the debate about whether teachers coming out of college with no experience are equipped to deal with gifted and talented students. Fujisawa appears to give a big NO as the answer to this question. Everyone can probably recall a classmate sometime during their school career that always seemed to have the answer to a teacher's question. You might have also encountered someone that seemed SMARTER than your teacher as well. Some of them would even argue with the teacher when they found something wrong with their reasoning or a fact they found erroneous. The fact is that a lot of really smart kids are BORED in a typical public school. In the best case, these kids should be placed in more advanced classes, or if they must stay in a regular class, the teacher has to give them more intellectually challenging activities. Ms. Fujimori found herself ill equipped to serve Urumi's needs and started to resent her because she began to fear that maybe Urumi was smarter than her because she came from a second rate college. A teacher should never belittle a student because of their own insecurities. Tohru Fujisawa continues to crank out volume after volume of comedy, drama, action, outstanding art, and great theses on what is wrong with the current state of government run, assembly line education models. Excellent series.

    My Grade: A

    Direct download: gto_8.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 5:49pm CST

    This is the start of my manga review index page covering titles that start with M-Z. Simply click on a title and it will take you to the review. Reviews that are in podcast form will say podcast. Otherwise, the reviews are text. If a review is a podcast, you can click on the pod button or click on the direct download located underneath the show notes.

  • Maison Ikkoku Volume 13
  • Maison Ikkoku Volume 14
  • Mar Volume 15
  • Monkey High! Volume 1 (podcast)
  • My Dearest Devil Princess Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Naruto Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Naruto Volume 2 (podcast)
  • Naruto Volume 3 (podcast)
  • Naruto Volume 4 (podcast)
  • Naruto Volume 5
  • Naruto Volume 14 (podcast)
  • Naruto Volume 22 (podcast)
  • Naruto Volume 28 (podcast)
  • Naruto: Innocent Heart, Demonic Blood
  • Negima! Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Negima! Volume 2
  • Orfina Volume 1 (podcast)
  • The Other Side of the Mirror Volume 1 (podcast)
  • The Outcast Volume 1
  • PhD Phantasy Degree Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Pick of the Litter Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Psycho Busters Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Psycho Busters Volume 2
  • Pumpkin Scissors Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Puri Puri Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Puri Puri Volume 2
  • Rose Hip Rose Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Rose Hip Rose Volume 2
  • St. Lunatic High School Volume 1
  • Samurai Commando Volumes 1-2
  • Sand Chronicles Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Shiki Tsukai Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Shinshoku Kiss Volume 1
  • Sorcerer Hunters Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Sorcerer Hunters Volume 2
  • Sorcerer Hunters Volume 3
  • Sorcerer Hunters Volume 5
  • Space Pinchy (podcast)
  • Strawberry 100% Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Strawberry 100% Volume 2
  • Street Fighter: Sakura Ganbaru! Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Sunshine Sketch Volume 1
  • Tetragrammaton Labyrinth Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Tetragrammaton Labyrinth Volume 2
  • Togari Volume 2 (podcast)
  • Togari Volume 3
  • Uzumaki Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Welcome to the NHK Volume 4
  • Wild Ones Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Yen Plus, August Issue, Part 1 (podcast)
  • Yen Plus, August Issue, Part 2 (podcast)
  • Yggdrasil Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Yotsuba&! Volume 5 (podcast)
  • Zombie-Loan Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Category:general -- posted at: 9:28pm CST

    This is the start of my manga review index page covering titles that start with A-L. Simply click on a title and it will take you to the review. Reviews that are in podcast form will say podcast. Otherwise, the reviews are text. If a review is a podcast, you can click on the pod button or click on the direct download located underneath the show notes.

  • 10,20, and 30 Volume 1 (podcast)
  • 10,20, and 30 Volume 2
  • Ai Yori Aoshi Volume 17 (podcast)
  • Alice on Deadlines Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Alive:The Final Evolution Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Angel Cup Volume 5
  • Arm of Kannon Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Atelier Marie and Elie Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Batman: Death Mask Issues 1-2 (podcast)
  • Chibi Vampire Volume 5 (podcast)
  • Chunchu the Genocide Fiend Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Color of Rage (podcast)
  • Coyote Ragtime Show Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Cromartie High School Volume 12
  • Eden Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Dance in the Vampire Bund Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Dark Metro Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Dragon Eye Volume 2 (podcast)
  • The Drifting Classroom Volume 7
  • The Drifting Classroom Volume 8
  • Eden Volume 9
  • Elemental Gelade Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Gakuen Alice Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Gantz Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Gon Volume 2 (podcast)
  • Gon Volume 3
  • GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka Volume 1 (podcast)
  • GTO:Great Teacher Onizuka Volume 6
  • GTO:Great Teacher Onizuka Volume 7(podcast)
  • GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka Volume 8
  • Guardian Hearts Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Gunslinger Girl Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Gunslinger Girl Volume 2
  • Gunslinger Girl Volume 3
  • Gunslinger Girl Volume 4
  • Gunslinger Girl Volume 5 (podcast)
  • Gunslinger Girl Volume 6
  • Harukaze Bitter Bop Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Harukaze Bitter Bop Volume 2
  • Heavenshield Volume 1 (podcast)
  • High School Debut Volume 1 (podcast)
  • I, Otaku Volume 1
  • In Odd We Trust (podcast)
  • Inuyasha Volume 22
  • Kashimashi Volume 4
  • Kashimashi Volume 5 (podcast)
  • Koi Cupid Volume 1 (podcast)
  • The Law of Ueki Volume 8 (podcast)
  • The Law of Ueki Volume 9
  • Love Attack Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Category:general -- posted at: 9:22pm CST

    This is my anime dvd review index page of titles starting M-Z. Simply click on a title and it will take you to the review. Reviews that are in podcast form will say podcast. Otherwise, the reviews are text. If a review is a podcast, you can click on the pod button or click on the direct download located underneath the show notes.

  • Mar Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Maria Watches Over Us Season 1, Episodes 1-3 (podcast)
  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Mushi-Shi Volume 1
  • Naruto Uncut Box Set 3 (podcast)
  • Peach Girl Volume 4 (podcast)
  • Phoenix Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Red Garden Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Red Garden Volume 2 (podcast)
  • Rescue Me: Mave-Chan
  • Simoun Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Solty Rei Volume 2
  • Step Up Love Story Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Tekkonkinkreet (podcast)
  • Tokyo Majin Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Tweeny Witches Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Venus Versus Virus Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Welcome to the NHK Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Witchblade Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Witchblade Volume 2
  • Witchblade Volume 3 (podcast)
  • Xenosaga: The Animation Volume 1 (podcast)
  • xxxHolic Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Yo Yo Girl Cop (podcast)
  • Zegapain Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Category:general -- posted at: 9:15pm CST

    This is the start of my anime dvd review index page. Simply click on a title and it will take you to the review. Reviews that are in podcast form will say podcast. Otherwise, the reviews are text. If a review is a podcast, you can click on the pod button or click on the direct download located underneath the show notes.

  • 009-1 Volume 2
  • 009-1 Volume 3 (podcast)
  • Ah My Goddess: Flights of Fancy Volume 3 (podcast)
  • Air TV Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Air TV Volume 2
  • Air TV Volume 4
  • Appleseed: Ex Machina (podcast)
  • Aquarion Season 1, Part 1, Episodes 1-5 (podcast)
  • Aquarion Season 1, Part 1, Episodes 6-9
  • Area 88 Volume 1
  • Batman: Gotham Knight (podcast)
  • Beck Volume 2 (podcast)
  • Best Student Council Volume 5
  • Black Cat Volume 6
  • Bleach Volume 7: The Entry
  • Buso Renkin Box Set 1, Episodes 1-4 (podcast)
  • Buso Renkin Box Set 1, Episodes 5-8
  • Buso Renkin Box Set 1, Episodes 9-13
  • Eureka Seven Volume 7 (podcast)
  • Flag Volume 1
  • Galaxy Angel AA Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Glass Fleet Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Gunbuster 2 Volume 3 (podcast)
  • Guyver Volume 3
  • Hell Girl Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Innocent Venus Volume 1 (podcast)
  • Innocent Venus Volume 2
  • Category:general -- posted at: 7:38pm CST

    Hey, everybody! I hope everybody is enjoying their summer. Mine ended this week. I had to go back to work on Monday, but I hope to keep on writing and recording reviews. It seems that right when I get into a groove, summer ends. But, anyway, what I wanted to say is that I'm fixing to begin making some sort of index system on the site for all the different anime and manga titles I've reviewed. The little search box on the right side that Libsyn has up pretty much sucks. So I'm gonna try to put a category over there that says something like "Index of My Reviews" or something so you can look them up by title. I won't be able to do it in a day, so I'll probably start with the most recent reviews and work backwards.

    I'm computer incompetent and illiterate so I basically have to figure out things as I go. I had no idea how to write HTML code until I started working with my blog and podcasting. Libsyn is pretty cool and cheap but they only give you the barest bones on how to set up your site. I've been meaning to change up my colors on the page for a decade now. They only give you about 3 templates or so and they aren't very good. So you basically have to teach yourself how to make a webpage if you want to do anything unique, which I guess is good and bad at the same time.

    Category:News -- posted at: 12:17pm CST

    Manga Review: Tetragrammaton Labyrinth Volume 2 by Ei Itou

    Tetragrammaton Labyrinth Volume 2 by Ei Itou. Translated by Kenji Komiya. Adapted by Shannon Fay. Originally published by Wani Books in Japan. Published in US by Seven Seas under their Strawberry imprint, $11.99, Rated Older Teen 16+.

    Angela needed a new weapon after her previous scythe was broken during the intense fighting we saw in Volume 1. The scythe she wants now is held at a Church research facility under lock and key. It is a weapon so powerful that it could kill that which could not be killed, a heavenly angel! In fact, the scythe is still stuck in the fossilized remains of the angel. Many people have tried to wield it, but in the end they were all killed and their spiritual power was added to the scythe. So, every person that has died trying to get their hands on it has made it even more deadly. Not only do Meg and Angela have to deal with the ghosts that haunt it, things get a bit crazier when they remove it from the dead angel and it comes back to a fallen angel, with murder on its mind. After that, the duo are called to Germany for unknown reasons and encounter Hugh Williams, a demon's servant who uses the shipping lanes between England and the mainland to offer sacrifices to his master.

    The biggest surprise I got from this second volume was the fact that Angela is around 400 years old. Just looking at the two girls from a purely physical standpoint, Meg looks much older, like around 18-20, while Angela looks about 12 or so. What we find out is that it is Angela who is the big sister figure and that even though she says she only exists because Meg needs her, it is Meg who leans on her most of the time instead of the other way around.  Something else that is revealed about Angela is that she has no compunctions about killing innocent people if it serves a greater good. For example, when Hugh Williams takes hostages on the boat, Angela takes out at least 3-4 of them to take away his bargaining chips. Let's just say she takes the Keanu Reeves option from his film Speed of "Shoot the Hostage" to a whole 'nother level. She seems a little inhuman in her dealings with anyone but Meg but it is that very relationship that gives her humanity. It is Angela who reigns as the star in this second volume. It closes with the promise of revealing how Angela and Meg first met in the next installment.

    My Grade: A

    Here is my link to my podcast review of the first volume:

    Direct download: tetragrammaton_2.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 11:40am CST

    Magazine Review: Future Anime Magazine a Big Ripoff

    Oh, Future Anime Magazine, of thee I blog, What piece of trash is this that hovers before my eye. What crap on yonder rooftop gleams? Could it be Future Anime Magazine? Yes, it is, quite so.

    Let me just start with a simple imperative sentence. Do not buy this magazine. I will explain why shortly.

    First, its pedigree. It is published by Future, US, Inc. If you dont know, Future is also the publisher of such castrated magazines as Nintendo Power, Playstation: The Official Magazine, and the Official Xbox Magazine. All these magazines are barely disguised, if not completely naked, mouthpieces of three huge and bloated companies. Yet all the writers of these magazines say how impartial they are and how their respective companies can't tell them what to like or not to like. That is, until they fire them for being too critical and they find themselves on the street. So you always have to take their coverage and reviews with a grain of salt. Kinda like a presidential news conference.

    Then there's the editor's note in the opening pages of the magazine where Gary Steinman bitches at anime and manga fans. Bitching about what, you ask? Over the fact that anime and manga fans are no longer buying anime and manga. Instead, they are downloading anime and reading manga in the bookstore aisles. The mistake that Gary makes is that he never qualifies that SOME fans are doing this. Not all. He also probably doesn't realize the failure of both industries to keep their fanbase as they get older. Theoretically, as fans of manga and anime get older, they should be getting better jobs and be able to spend more money on books and dvds. If they kept their fanbase, both mediums should be EXPANDING, not CONTRACTING. I think a lot of kids now that are otaku will leave it behind when they go to college and start families. It's more like a cool fad. There's a difference between passionate, fleeting love for these artforms and passionate, longterm love. Unfortunately, I think the former describes the current state of these markets. I guess before I get any more pretentious I should shut my blog. But sometimes I worry if anime or manga will still be around in 10 years. Hey, I guess I might not be either!

    Anyway, if you're not familiar with Gary, he used to be Editor-In-Chief of Newtype (which has since folded to be replaced by the already folded PIQ), which was a ventriliquist's dummy for ADV (which could be folding, and whose manga line might be many foldeds, like a blanket of failure.....) and who is the executive editor for the aforementioned lackey Playstation Magazine. So do you see how this magazine might have some issues?

    Ok, now for the insides, the primal guts, the meat in the tamale of this magazine. First of all, the entire anime section of the magazine, except for the Gurren Lagann cover story, are written by one person, Lesley Smith. Well, I wouldn't say written, I would say summarized. The anime stories are almost identical to the format that Newtype used, with big anime photos, a tiny blurb summary, and then a more fleshed out summary with very little if any critical response to the show in question. Just like Newtype, this magazine never finds a series it doesn't like. The fact that the entire section of the magazine is written by one person flagrantly throws the fact that this is going to be boring and one dimensional flatly into your face. Even the Gurren Lagann cover story is written by David Smith, who I strongly suspect is Lesley's husband. Maybe Lesley used Shadow Clone Jutsu to write all these articles?

    Then there's a summer manga guide, written by.........Guess who?.....David and Lesley Smith! Surprise!

    It also includes 12 "sizzling posters". Now if two page posters are your cup of tea, more power to you. But I don't really want to put up posters with a fold and staple holes in them....owww, they're hot!

    Once you've gotten past the pyrotechnic display of the posters, you get to the game section, which was such a ripoff, it almost made me lose my cookies. Why? Well, all the games are supposed to be anime related, even though some aren't. They're conveniently renamed "anime-inspired", which means they "look" animeish, but aren't based on any anime properties. So, anyway, they "ask" the editors of Playstation: The Official Magazine to give them their favorite picks. First up, what the hell is wrong with the Wii and the XBOX 360? You could've found plenty of real anime games from all three systems instead of Gary being lazy and relying on his own POM staff. What makes the reviews of the games even more insulting is the fact that they are almost all lifted word for word from the original Playstation Magazine reviews. Some paragraphs or wording has been changed, but very little. They even use the some screenshots, although they not so cleverly reorient and resize the pictures.

    So in the end, what do I think of this magazine. Is it worth $9.99? Let's just put it this way, if this magazine was thrown on a koala bear, it would turn into a raging bloodthirsty beast. It is a blatant attempt by Future to cash in on a market that doesn't need any more pretenders to be cluttering up shelf space. In fact, you should use the $9.99 you would spend on this litter basket refuse to buy the manga volume that Gary scolded you in his opening statement. In fact, every issue of this magazine that sells does an equivalent exchange for a volume of manga so Gary is just contributing to the problem

    My Grade: F

    Direct download: futureanime.jpg
    Category:general -- posted at: 6:14pm CST

    Podcast Epiosode 124: Maria Watches Over Us Episodes 1-3

    Anime DVD review of the first disc of the Season 1 box set of Maria Watches Over Us, Episodes 1-3. Published by Right Stuf. Directed by Yukihiro Matsushita.

    Yumi Fukuzawa is a first year at the prestigious Lillian Girls' Academy, known for its piousness, elegance, and impeccable uniforms. The school is ruled by the Yamiyuri Council which has installed a system to keep student discipline from being a problem. Under the Souer system, older girls pick a younger classman to be their petite souer, or little sister. In practice, the older girl is supposed to look after the younger like she really is a sister by blood. Soon after her arrival at the school, Yumi encounters one of the members of the Yamiyuri Council, Sachiko Ogasawara, little realizing how entwined their lives are to become. It seems Sachiko, the star of the school, wants to make Yumi her petite souer. While Yumi is in awe of Sachiko (maybe even smitten with her), she refuses her because she is afraid Sachiko has ulterior motives.

    My Grade: B+

    Direct download: Episode_124--Maria_Watches_Over_Us_Disc_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:43pm CST

    Podcast Episode 123--Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Volume 1

    Podcast manga review of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion volume 1. Manga by Majiko! Original Story by Ichirou Ohkouchi and Goro Taniguchi. Character Designs by Clamp. Translated by Satsuki Yamashita. Originally published in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten. Published in US by Bandai Entertainment, $9.99, Rated 13+.

    In the year 2010, war broke out between Japan and the Holy Empire of Britannia. Within a month, Japan had been defeated and absorbed into the Empire. In fact, it is not even recognized as a country anymore. It has been renamed Area 11, and its inhabitants are now called 11s. The Britannians move into nice settlements while the 11s are herded into crappy ghettoes. While we haven't mentioned the word genocide yet,the Britannians seem on the brink of committing such an act. Even as the Empire is tightening its grip, some 11s are trying to fight back, even though they are labeled as terrorists. Ironically enough, even some Brittanians have taken up arms against their own country because of its treatment of Japan. Lelouch Lamperouge, a Britannian, has sworn to bring down the Empire, even though he is the secret heir to its throne. Suzaku, his childhood friend, and also an 11, has joined the Imperial military to bring about a change from within. Both their lives will be changed by the arrival of a mysterious girl with the power to grant Lelouch's wish.

    My Grade: A

    Direct download: Episode_123--Code_Geass_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:59pm CST

    Anime DVD Review: Bleach Volume 7

    Bleach Volume 7: The Entry. Directed by Norikyuki Abe. Series Composition by Masashi Sogo. Published by Viz Video, List Price: $24.98.

    Ichigo is finally able to make a cannonball, the art needed to pierce the shield surrounding the Seireitei, the fortress of the Soul Reapers. He is able to do this after getting a few pointers from Ganju. He was the last one of his group comprised of Orihime, Chad, and Ishida that had yet to master it. And he still hasn't. While his cannonball packs a lot of power he lacks the skill needed to keep it under control so it tends to explode in his face. Nonetheless, time is running out for Rukia, and the group must rescue her before she is executed. Things don't go as planned when the cannonball gets stuck in the Soul Reaper shield, which causes it to explode and seperate our heroes. Chad and Yoruichi are by themselves, while Ishida is teamed up with the ever stumbling, ever ditzy Orihime. Ichigo lands with Ganju by his side, and they are the first to have to fight Soul Reapers, as they face off against the psychotic Ikkaku (he's not crazy, he just really likes to fight) and the overly vain Yumichika who is all about his looks. Even though both of them seem to have some major psychological hangups, make no mistake, they are deadly fighters, and perhaps too powerful for Ichigo and Ganju to handle.

    You knew that Ichigo and friends were never going to make it to the Seireitei without getting seperated didn't you? Of course they had to be split up. It wouldn't have been any fun if they had arrived en masse and just started slugging their way to the tower where Rukia is being held. No, they had to be split up so their powers could be diluted and they would have to face foes whose powers might be stronger on an individual level. Through these battles we get to see if our main characters have indeed grown stronger or whether they've just been talking the talk. It's great to see them all rise to the challenge, albeit in very different ways. For example, Ichigo relies on his enormous spiritual energy and his enemy's tendency to underestimate his skills while Ganju uses his speed, wit, and guile to fight. Volume 7 of Bleach was quite good in spite of the fact that maybe some of the fights were a bit too long. But Noriyuki Abe keeps you engaged with some very well orchestrated battle sequences, choreographed with little or no static action lines. He always keeps a sense of coolness about the characters as he reveals their new powers with dramatic relish.

    My Grade: A

    Direct download: bleach_7.jpg
    Category:Anime DVD Reviews -- posted at: 4:30pm CST

    Manga Review: Rose Hip Zero Volume 2 by Tohru Fujisawa

    Manga Review of Rose Hip Zero Volume 2 by Tohru Fujisawa. Translated by Emi Onishi. Adapted by Michael French. Originally published by Kodansha in Japan. Published in US by Tokyopop, $10.99. Rated Mature 18+ for mild sexuality, intense violence, excessive gore, and moderate fanservice.

    Shohei and Asakura, alias Rose Hip, were almost killed by the crazed psycho who called himself  "The Sheep" (uh, is that a reference to Silence of the Lambs or what?). But Asakura was able to defeat him and hand him over to police custody. But we found out at the end of the last volume that the Sheep was just a lackey of "The Shepherd". His intent is to kill Asakura because he feels she is standing in the way of his "cleansing" of Tokyo. What he means by cleansing is to get rid of all the scum. And the Shepherd's definition of scum is politician (don't know if I completely disagree with that).  He's bored, sick, and tired of the current corrupt government that is running the show. He probably intends to extend his program to the whole country after he takes care of Tokyo. He has planted what amount to sleeper cells all across the city by using post-hypnotic suggestion. All it takes is a spoken word, whether it be in person or over a phone, to turn a normal person into his mind controlled slave. He even makes one of Shohei and Asakura's teachers blow her brains out! The dude is not messing around. Help arrives in the form of Natsuki Kuonji, who, just like Asakura, was trained to be a killer from an early age. But she isn't called the "Angel of Mercy" like Asakura, who never takes lives. Natsuki's nickname is "Bloody Angel" and also "Kiss Maniac Natsuki", and she is much more prone to take people out with her weapons. Just from their names, you can tell these two girl's methods of dealing with criminals is going to be like fire and ice. But Asakura, Natsuki, and the Shepherd share a connection. They were all raised by a league of assassins called ALICE.

    John Keats once said that a thing of beauty is a joy forever. I'm tempted to use that in reference to Tohru Fujisawa's art. He's just great. Fujisawa achieves the perfect balance between highly detailed characters, liberal use of elaborate backgrounds, excellent action scene layouts, sympathetic characterization, and sexy women. Don't worry ladies, he draws pretty guys for you as well. We get more of a feel of Asakura's disconnect in this volume when we learn that she lives alone and doesn't ever remember having a family. All she remembers faintly is that she was raised by the assassin organization called ALICE. Fujisawa does a good job of showing that from time to time, if not frequently, Asakura longs for a normal life, longs for a family, regular friends. Maybe at this point, Shohei is the closest thing to that dream. There's even a bit of romantic tension between the two as we get to see that most lovey dovey quintessential scene in manga, the "oops, I fell, making you fall on top of me, isn't this awkward, why are you blushing" scene. Great read, action packed. Not for kids though.

    Here is the link to Podcast Episode 119 where I did a review of the first volume:

    (Is it just me or has Tokyopop been quietly raising prices on some of their titles to $10.99 even though you're not getting any more pages than the $9.99 books? Is this a page from ADV Manga? We all know where they are today, don't we?)

    My Grade: A

    Direct download: rose_hip_rose_2.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 5:35pm CST

    Naruto Fangirl and Sesho Confer With Haruhi Suzumiya

    Ok, so I'm really horrible at making headlines. Please forgive me. I haven't posted any reviews in a couple of days. I've been too busy completing an online Defensive Driving course for a speeding ticket I got a couple of months ago. Yep, I got caught burning nitrous on the city streets. Drifting on the roof of the Astrodome. Most of the course is actually text you read in small segments but as soon as I'm done I want to get off the computer. And then there's the rapid impending death of summer coming up on Monday when I return to work after a long vacation. But I have been watching anime and reading manga all the while. I plan to do text reviews of Rose Hip Rose Volume 2, Tetragrammaton Labyrinth Volume 2, and and a podcast for Code Geass Volume 1 (the manga) by weekend's end. Also, an anime text review of Bleach Volume 7.  I guess it could be worse. I coulda not had a vacation at all.



    Me and my best friend went to a comic store today, and then Borders where I picked up a manga or two. A manga bum that was there actually moved when I wanted to look at the manga! It was incredible! There were also two girls there talking about Yaoi, something about the guy that was on top and the guy that was on bottom (the exact Japanese terms for these positions escapes my mind at the moment....thankfully).  My friend wanted to go into Best Buy so I of course went straight to the anime section. I was standing there looking for about 3 seconds when this girl who looked about 13 or 14 asked "Are you a fan of anime?" I usually don't talk to strangers but we got into a pretty animated discussion about Naruto. She had been watching fansubs of the Naruto Shippuden anime while I had been reading fansubs of the Naruto manga.

    Yes, I admit that. I have bought all 30 volumes of the manga so far and I will continue to buy them as they come out. But I love that series so much that I don't want to wait another two years to read what the Japanese already have. I also have to admit that this is the only series that I've ever sought out online. We talked about some things that would be spoilers for people that haven't read farther than the current releases....way farther, so I won't go into that. I asked her whether she thought Naruto and Sakura would end up together in the end. She said she thought they would. I think he will end up with Hinata. We also talked about whether in the end, Naruto and Sasuke will become friends again. She emphatically said they would. I think they will too, but I think there will be a lot of tragedy before it happens.

    I soon found out that she was trying to figure out a way to butter up her mom to buy her a volume of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya! About that time her mom showed up and I heard her say "Mooooom" in a way that kids do when they ask their parents for something that they know there is a chance they could get......"Moooooom, can I get......" I'll never know if she got that dvd or not.....hopefully she did.

    Speaking of Haruhi, that's a series I need to go back and finish. I own the first volume and that is the only one I have watched. I liked it but for some reason never carried on with it. Now you can get it in a boxed set so maybe I'll wait and save for that.

    Direct download: haruhi.jpg
    Category:general -- posted at: 12:17am CST

    Closing Thoughts on the First Issue of Yen Plus

    I talked about the individual titles in Yen Plus but I just wanted to make a few general comments about this attempt by Yen Press to put out a more reader friendly rather than boy or girl centered anthology. Of course, I'm talking about Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat. It's not that I don't buy Shojo Beat because I think Shojo manga are too girly. I don't buy it because it TARGETS young girls so explicitly and the bright colors make my eyes hurt. I don't read Shonen Jump (at least, until recently) either (ok, I do buy it, but the only thing I read is Naruto!). But its Donkey Kong leveling up plots can be a little offputting as well. It targets young boys that like to hit people.

    So I am very glad that Yen Press is trying something a bit different with Yen Plus. They just seem to have put a batch of titles together with no regard for genre readers. There seems to be a little bit of everything for everybody. The danger with this kind of strategy is that by trying to please everyone, you please noone.  Myself, I LIKE variety.

    But there are some readers that feel uncomfortable wading into strange waters. Witness the incredibly negative reaction that Jack Frost got from some bloggers and board posters. They were put off by the violence and fan service mainly. Has anyone heard the words "dark comedy" before? If someone gets their head cut off and then sits there, oblivious to pain, and commenting on what jerks the two supernatural fighters are, you should know things are not meant to be taken seriously.

    I remember someone commented on a scene in Maximum Ride when we meet a little girl named Angel and another character named Max is coming to wake her up for breakfast. One reader even said it was "straight up gross". The panel shows the girl fixing to get out of bed. To me, what is creepy is that someone can see the panel and get all kinds of weird connotations out of it. Same thing with a title like Strawberry Marshmallow. Some people have told me how that title is a moe title for perverts, but I don't get that out of it at all. I think it's just cute and funny. I guess some people just bring some weird thoughts into their manga reading experience.

    In the Editor's letter at the front (back?) of the magazine, JuYoun Lee wrote that this magazine was going to be a way to introduce readers to titles before they are released as tankobans. So I asked myself which of the titles in this first issue would I buy in book form? The titles I could guarantee are Bamboo Blade, Higurashi, and Pig Bride. Borderline purchases would be Jack Frost and Nabari No Ou. I would probably pass up on Sumomomo. Titles I wouldn't take even if  they were free would be Maximum Ride, Sarasah, and Night School. I don't even count One Fine Day as a title. It was pointless drivel.

    Some people have also complained about the running order of the OEL/Manhwa section, citing mainly the outrageously cute One Fine Day somehow being a antithetic prelude to Jack Frost. My suggested reordering of the titles would go like this. Put Pig Bride as the lead title, followed by One Fine Day, Sarasah, Maximum Ride, Night School, and lastly, Jack Frost. It seems like a more coherent arrangement of content.

    Direct download: yen_small.gif
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 3:10pm CST

    Japanese Women Have #1 Lifespan in the World

    You probably hear all the time about how Japan has one of the longest living populations in the world, but maybe you didn't believe it. Japan's Health Ministry conducted a study in which it concluded that Japanese girls born in 2007 would live to an average age of 86 years old. That makes them #1 in the world. Japanese boys born in 2007 are projected to live an average of 79.2 years, placing them third behind Iceland and Hong Kong. Ironically, even though the Japanese are living longer, they have one of the world's lowest birth rates, and it is projected that around 40% of the population will be 65 or older by the year 2050 if current trends continue.

    Here's the link to the full article:

    Direct download: japan_girl.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 2:03pm CST

    Tropical Storm, Code Geass Manga Inspires, and Best Buy Deals

    Ok, so I live right outside of Houston, Texas and if you didn't know we had a tropical storm pass through here today, by the name of Edouard. Of course the local media tried their very best to make it seem like the Four Horsemen were coming to town. I woke up this morning around 10am and had to call someone to find out if it had upgraded to a hurricane or not. There really wasn't a lot of wind or anything. Just rain. But light enough to where there wasn't any widespread flooding. So I decided to hunker down with a manga. I started reading the Code Geass manga and I just loved it. So much that I had to drop it and go to Best Buy to buy the anime. This was after it had stopped raining. It was closed! Barnes and Noble was open and I would say over half of the businesses I saw were as well. Best Buy did end up opening around 4pm and I was there like a flash.

    So here's the funny thing about the Code Geass dvd release. You can buy the slip cover version for $24.99, which contains volume 1 and 2 of the series...or you can buy volume 1 & 2 seperately for the extremely cheaper price of....$19.99 each! So I'm wondering who in their right mind would buy them seperately? I mean, even if you're just trying the show like I am sight unseen, if you're going to spend $20 on it, why not $5 more for an entire extra volume? It just seems a total waste of space on the retail shelves. There's also a limited edition that I THINK was going for around $40 (I don't buy the boxes or special edition of any show so I didn't really pay attention).

    Two other releases caught my eye. The Gokusen TV Collection, a repackaging of an earlier show from Anime Works was only $14.99. This is a really funny show and well worth this extremely low price for all 13 episodes.

    I don't know if this is going to be a steal or not but I also picked up Teknoman: The Complete Collection for $13.99. So get this, for that price you got 6 dvds, 43 Episodes, 1075 minutes of anime! It just sounded like a great deal. I've never seen the show, but I've heard about it. I can't remember if what I have heard is good though. But for that price, what did I have to lose?

    I think at a $20 price point, people are reluctant to try out shows. But lower that just a bit to $15, and I think you're going to sell a lot more units. Anime Works dvds are usually around that price. I also applaud Bandai Entertainment (not the bloated warthog Visual (are they even a company anymore?)) for releasing a dubless version of their show. I mean, when I started thinking about it, I am subsidizing a anime dvd feature I don't even use. I never watch the dubs (Cowboy Bebop is the exception), so why should I have to pay for the dub? And the hardcore fans like me get to see the show early instead of waiting for the dub as well. So, thank you Bandai Entertainment. But can the seperate volumes. It's a waste of shelf space. Put them out in the 2 volume slipcases only. Thanks for Toward the Terra as well. It seems like only Bandai is trying something different to please their customers.

    Check out the official Code Geass Site:

    Direct download: code_geass.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 10:01pm CST

    Podcast Episode 122: Yen Plus Part 2: The OEL and Manhwa Section

    In this podcast I review and discuss the OEL and Korean manhwa titles in the first issue of Yen Plus.

    Maximum Ride by James Patterson and Narae Lee

    Nightschool by Svetlana Chmakova

    Sarasah by Ryang Ruy

    One Fine Day by Sirial

    Jack Frost by Jinho Ko

    See podcast Episode 120 for a review of the Japanese manga section. Simply click on this link to take you there or scroll down the page:

    Direct download: Episode_122--Yen_Plus_Part_2.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:33pm CST

    Anime DVD Review: Buso Renkin Box Set 1, Disc 3, Episodes 9-13

    Anime DVD review of the third disc of Buso Renkin Box Set 1, Episodes 9-13, published by Viz Media. Price for the for the 3-disc set: $49.98 (I usually see it for around $35). Rated T+, Older Teen.

    Kazuki has been training every day with Captain Bravo and he's worn out physically and spiritually. But he can't resist a challenge when he sees the star of the kendo team, Shusui Hayasaka, effortlessly defeating all comers. When he hears Shusui mention that he wants to get stronger, he senses a kindred spirit, and decides to take him on. Even though Kazuki has no training whatsoever in kendo. The two quickly become friends and training partners, lifting each other to new heights of fighting skill. Unfortunately, Shusui and his twin sister, Ouka, are agents of the League of Extraordinary Elect (LXE). The LXE knows that an alchemical warrior is attending the school, but they do not know which student he or she is. The one person that knows, Papillon, refuses to identify Kazuki because he wants to fight him alone and in his own due time. So the Hayasaka twins are enlisted to find and kill the alchemical warrior. Dr. Butterfly wants it done quietly as well, because the school is somehow involved with his plans to resurrect the king of the Homunculi, he who is neither human nor a Homunculus, but more powerful than both.

    First thing up with this series is the fact that it should come out and admit its gayness. I don't mean that in an insulting way, but in an honest entreaty. For example, when Kazuki and his friends stop at a public bath house, all the guys start looking at each others schlongs and compare sizes. They seem especially eager to find out Shusui's too, almost falling over themselves to get a look. And then Papillon shows up with a washing bowl hanging off of his! And the League of Extraordinary Elect ratchets up the homosexuality by acting like they are in Rosie O'Donnell's favorite Broadway musical. It doesn't help that they strike effeminate poses and wear leotards either. Moon Face....need I say more. This guy jumps around shouting, or rather, flirtingly cooing "Mooooooooooooon!" as he leaps in the air clicking his heels. And why the hell is Papillion always reaching into his pants to get objects out of his thong? And he seems to be a little more busy in there than just reaching for his kakugane.

    I have to say that the character designs in Buso Renkin are some of the worst and most ridiculous I have ever seen in a manga or anime. I mean, at times these guys, mostly the villains, made me laugh out loud just looking at them. What makes it more funny is that they think they actually look good in their costumes. Papillon goes on and on about how cool his suit looks, even though he looks like a dandified buffoon. While the villains are a complete wash, the heroes are done with at least a sense of good taste. How could the same guy that did Rurouni Kenshin design characters right out of Michael Jackson's wardrobe fantasies?

    If you can get past the horrible design choices and the incredibly cheezy characters, Buso Renkin can be quite entertaining in a Shonen Jumpish sort of way. It seems incredible to me that the same writer behind the extremely well received Rurouni Kenshin could present something this goofy. Too often, the series looks very cheap as we are treated to static scenes with tons of action lines the like of which I haven't seen since the last decade. It seems like Xebec didn't spend a lot of time or money animating this show. Is it worth seeing? Yes. Is this show worth buying? I don't know yet. Probably not. I'll have to check out the second box set before I make a choice. Right now, it is not a series that I would watch more than once. Back in the day, the glory days of anime in 2004-05, I would buy almost every new show that came out. But I was burned too often and now I rent first. If I really like it, enough that I would watch it again, then I buy it.

    Grade for disc 3: B

    Grade for Box Set 1: B

    Here is the link for my review of the first two discs, I did Episodes 1-4 in a podcast and 5-8 in a text review:

    Direct download: buso_renkin.jpg
    Category:Anime DVD Reviews -- posted at: 4:19pm CST

    Podcast Episode 121: xxxHolic Volume 1

    Anime DVD podcast review of xxxHolic Volume 1. Directed by Tsutomu Mizushima (Genshiken, Hare+Guu). Series Composition by Ageha Ohkawa of CLAMP and Michiko Yokote (Bleach, Naruto, Genshiken). 100 minutes, Episodes 1-4. Published by Funimation, $29.98, Rated 13+.

    Kimihiro Watanuki has had a problem ever since he was a child. Ok, he's an orphan but he's been able to do pretty well by himself up to this point. His real problem is that he can not only see spirits, but much like Ichigo in Bleach, he attracts their unwanted attention. It's gotten to be so bad that he can't even walk down the street without them piling on top of him. Of course, when he's rolling around on the street trying to get them off, regular people think he's crazy because the spirits are invisible to them. Watanuki meets a young woman named Yuko Ichihara who runs a wish granting shop. She says she can remove his power but only if he will work part-time for her until his debt is paid. Yuko doesn't do anything for free. She requires something precious from the person asking the wish in exchange for her services.

    My Grade: B

    For more info on the series, videos, wallpaper, and icons go to the official xxxHolic site at:

    Direct download: Episode_121--xxxHolic_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:50pm CST

    Anime DVD Review: Aquarion Boxed Set 1, Disc 2, Episodes 6-9

    This is a text review of the second disc of the Aquarion Boxed Set 1 comprising Episodes 6-9 from Funimation. Click on the following link to hear podcast review # 104 of  Episodes 1-5:

    The Elements of Aquarion have become stronger and are functioning better as a team, but the pilots still have a lot to learn. First up, Gen Fudo, the strange Merlin-like commander of the Elements sets up a Thought Projection Exercise. Partners will stand a kilometer away from each other, with one facing away. The goal is to make your partner turn around with the force of your thoughts. You just know everyone is gonna be paired up with their least favorite person. Sirius and Reika are getting kinda cozy and it's starting to drive Silvia crazy. You see, she has a bit of a "brother complex". She wants so bad for him to be the Solar Wing, her reincarnated lover....uh, but if he is, that brings up some pretty weird issues. I think at this point everyone has decided that Apollo is the real deal. Everyone EXCEPT Sirius and Silvia, and that's probably due to their hypocrisy. Surely, the Solar Wing would be reborn as a noble and not as an animalistic street kid. All these weird resentments reach a boiling point when the Shadow Angels use a device that feeds off negative emotions. Two supporting characters take center stage in Episode 8 as Tsugumi and Jun contemplate what it will be like to merge for the first time with all the attendant innuendoes and comparisons to losing their virginity. But when the time comes will they be able to step up to the plate? And then there's a Mythic Beast lurking in the dreams of the Elements that brings A Nightmare on Elm Street to mind. 

    I'm not really a big fan of giant robot anime but I don't dislike them either. As with any anime genre, if a show is good, it doesn't matter to me what it is about. I will tell you this. I think Evangelion was way overrated and that Rahxephon took the same path but did it even better. Aquarion falls into a cross between Rahxephon and Gravion (I mean the good parts of Gravion) and comes up with a very enjoyable anime. To start with, this show just looks good. The character designs are very beautiful and distinct. The sleek and acrobatic robot designs give a humanity to the battles. There are very few static cut scenes and the CG blends as well as it can with the traditional animation. Everything about this series screams the word EPIC with its attendant 12,000 year old battles between angels and humans and its take on Greek mythology and Christian scriptures. The music of Yoko Kanno just adds to the grandeur with her symphonic and choral score. But, like the director and writers of this show, she never forgets the more intimate characterization elements of the show, composing with simple instruments and singing and a variety of electronic instruments when the mood calls for it. A great show so far.

    My Grade: A

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

    Direct download: aquarion.jpg
    Category:Anime DVD Reviews -- posted at: 12:26am CST

    Boogiepop Arrives at Borders

    Just browsing the Borders manga section today, not looking for anything in particular, and was nicely surprised to see a new Boogiepop novel from Seven Seas. This one is entitled Boogiepop at Dawn and supposedly tells Boogiepop's origin. The company had not put out any Boogiepop works since the end of 2006. I love this title in all its incarnations of anime, manga, and the novels and hope that Seven Seas is back on the ball with the franchise. You can read free previews of most of the books at the official Boogiepop webpage at:

    The best resource on that page is where it says "Read Boogiepop: The Ultimate guide" which is a four part article about the chronology and story arcs of the entire Boogiepop Universe.

    If you have no experience with this title, I would suggest reading the novels first, then the manga, the movie, and lastly the anime. I say the anime last because it does not adapt the first book and was made for fans already familiar with the novels. You can get the thinpack collection of the anime and live action movie for around $40 at most retailers online like Amazon or Right Stuff, and probably even cheaper on Ebay. The music soundtracks are relatively easy to find as well.

    Boogiepop at Dawn goes for $7.95 and is bound in the small light novel format that Seven Seas seems to prefer. They give real weight to the term "pocketbook". Seriously, you can actually put these light novels in your back pocket, which is actually pretty cool when you're on the go.

    Direct download: boogiepopatdawn_vol1_full.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 6:53pm CST

    Podcast Episode 120: Yen Plus Part 1: The Japanese Manga Section

    This is the first of two podcasts reviewing the first issue of Yen Plus Magazine. In Part 1 I will be discussing and reviewing the Japanese manga titles. Part 2 will cover the OEL and manhwa section.

    Part one contains reviews of the following titles:

    Soul Eater by Atsushi Ohkubo

    Sumomomo Momomo by Shinobu Ohtaka

    Nabari No Ou by Yuhki Kamatani

    Bamboo Blade by Masahiro Totsuka and Aguri Igarashi

    Higurashi: When They Cry by Ryukishio7 and Karin Suzuragi

    Direct download: Episode_120--Yen_Plus_Part_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:20pm CST