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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  • Manga Review: Vampire Knight Volume 2

    Manga review of Vampire Knight Volume 2 by Matsuri Hino. Translated and adapted by Tomo Kimura. Originally published in Japan by Hakusensha. Published in US by Viz Shojo Beat, $8.99, Rated T+ for Older Teen.

    There was a pretty startling revelation in Volume 1 of Vampire Knight when we learned that Zero Kiryu, vampire hater and hunter, was actually a vampire himself, and had been fighting against his urges for a couple of years. In addition, the blood tablets that the vampires have been using to sate their thirst for blood do not work very well on former humans, so Zero has become more and more unstable. In Volume 2, we find out that Zero is classified as an "Level E" vampire. Yes, that's right, there's a pecking order, or should I say, a "biting" order even in the vampire world. At the top are the Level As, or Purebloods, who are the only ones that can turn humans. Then at Level B, we have the Aristocrats. Both Level As and Bs are the rulers of the vampire world. At Level C, we have the Commons. Level Ds are former humans. This is where we start to have problems. Eventually, Level Ds begin to go crazy with bloodlust and become nothing more than blood-craving maniacs, which are known as Level Es. The "E" stands for "The End". The Level A and Bs are responsible for keeping the Es in check, and sometimes they even kill them when there is no other option. Unfortunately, what this means is that Zero will eventually lose control of himself and turn into a Level E. He has even asked Yuki to kill him if this ever happens. Yuki has a special bracelet, a controlling mechanism a la Inuyasha, that she can use to keep Zero under control. Zero's former sensei, Toga Yagari, a powerful vampire hunter, is brought in as a temporary teacher to keep an eye on Zero.

    I have a hard time figuring out why vampires are seen as erotic seducters. To me, they are simply superhuge leeches or humanoid mosquitoes. So when Zero takes a bite out of Yuki's neck, I feel a bit of revulsion and disgust, not gothic romanticism. I mean, in the end, vampires cannot live without sucking the life essence out of a human. But I guess humans aren't any different. We have to eat other life for us to have life. It's just meat and vegetables instead of blood. So I'm not into the current fad of urban vampire/werewolf/female detective/student novels/manga. But I do appreciate the characters in Vampire Knight. Sure, it can sink into melodrama at times, almost like a higher stakes Peach Girl, but Zero, Yuki, and Kaname, rise above the material. It also helps that Matsuri Hino is surprisingly adept during action sequences. It makes for quite an intriguing series. I am very curious to see how it all works out and if it has a happy ending.

    My Grade: B+

    Listen to my podcast of Volume 1:

    http://sesho.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=385148

    Direct download: vampire2.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 10:39am CDT

    Podcast Episode 137: Afro Samurai Volume 1

    Podcast manga review of Afro Samurai Volume 1 by Takashi Okazaki. Translated by Greg Moore. Adapted by Joshua Fialkov. Published by Seven Seas, $10.99, Rated OT Ages 16+.

    When Afro Samurai was a young child, he witnessed the death of his father, known simply as "Number 1", a swordsman, get brutally killed by "Number 2", a mysterious gunfighter. What these numbers siginify are the ranks of the fighters. So, if you wear the Number 1 headband, it signifies that you are the deadliest warrior in the world. Over the years, a number of legends have sprung up around the Number 1 headband. For example, whoever wears it will rule the world, or the tale that it grants immortality. Nobody knows if any of this or none of it is true. But it doesn't stop people from coveting it anyway. Since then, Afro Samurai has grown into a brutally remorseless warrior, working his way up to Number 2. He now wants to take down Number 1. It has nothing to do with the power he would gain if he wins. It has to do with simple revenge. He wants to kill the guy that killed his father. But the problem when you are wearing one of the top headbands is that you always have those who want your spot. Afro has the additional complication of being a wanted man. A group of underworld kingpins, known as "The Empty Seven", have put out a contract on Afro because some of their number believe that even the Number 2 headband has some sort of divine power.

    My Grade: B+

    Official website: www.afrosamurai.com

    You can download the entire first season from Funimation for $9.95

    Direct download: Episode_137--Afro_Samurai_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:35pm CDT

    Podcast Episode 136: Dokkoida Volume 1

    Podcast manga review of Dokkoida Volume 1 by Yu Yagami (Those Who Hunt Elves). Original Story by Taro Achi. Translated and adapted by Sheldon Drzka. Originally published in Japan by Media Works. Published in US by CMX, $9.99, Rated T+.

    Space alien Tanpopo (who looks like a 10-year-old human girl) has  come to Earth to find a test subject for the Dokkoida Transformation Belt. It was made by a famous toy company called Otankonasu in hopes of landing a lucrative contract with the Galaxy Federation police force to mass produce the suits. Tanpopo enlists unemployed Suzuo to test the suit out. How will it be tested? The Galaxy Federation has let some of its most dangerous criminals loose on Earth to test the effectiveness of the suit. If they can defeat Dokkoida in battle and unmask him, their criminal records will be wiped clean. So, let's just say they are highly motivated. Suzuo also has to compete with Neruloid Girl, another superhero testing a suit for the Emerald Company, who is also vying for the police contract. The Federation has also taken the extremely comedic step of housing the heroes and the villains in the same apartment building! Of course, the characters in Dokkoida are so clueless that they never make the connection between the people they see in normal life every day and the enemies they fight while in costume. Very funny book.

    My Grade: A

    Direct download: Episode_136--Dokkoida_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:20pm CDT

    If you're a fan of Azumanga, you have to check this out. It's a compilation of some great music videos and user generated animation. It goes through many different types of music and skits. The full running time is around 10 minutes and is really funny.

     

    Category:Video -- posted at: 11:42pm CDT

    Podcast Episode 135: Blank Slate Volume 1

    Podcast manga review for Blank Slate Volume 1 by Aya Kanno (Soul Rescue). Translated by John Werry. Adapted by Carla Sinclair. Originally published in Japan by Hakusensha. Published in US by Viz Shojo Beat, $8.99, Rated T+ for Older Teens.

    Zen has no memories of the past 20 years. All he knows is that he woke up and began to hear a voice in his head that urged him to kill, rob, and commit evil. He followed the commands of that voice and has become the most wanted criminal in Amata. The country of Amata was invaded by Galay 20 years ago and a war ensued that took a number of Amatan lives. Even after two decades, the Galayans have refused to leave the country. Instead, they have imposed their own ultra law and order morality upon the occupied populace. According to the propaganda, Amata is prospering under their rule, but under the surface, there is an Amatan resistance gaining more and more momentum. The biggest thorn in the Galayan side is not the strengthening insurgency, but the fact that Zen has not been captured or killed. To some people, Zen is becoming a sort of folk hero, someone who is unwilling to bend his knee and accept the Galayan occupiers.

    My Grade: F

    Direct download: Episode_135--Blank_Slate_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:58am CDT

    Podcast Episode 134--Castlevania:Curse of Darkness Volume 1

    Podcast manga review of Castlevania: Curse of Darkness Volume 1 by Kou Sasakura. Translated by Ray Yoshimoto. Adapted by Jeremy Black. Originally published in Japan by Media Factory. Published in US by Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated T for Ages 13+.

    Count Dracula's demon army has swallowed up the land of Walachia in 15th century Europe and is poised to invade the rest of the continent. A vast army was sent to Walachia by the Eastern Orthodox Church several months ago but none of the soldiers ever returned alive. Only a noble named Lord Belmont, a self-styled vampire slayer, has shown any backbone or skill in fighting Dracula's armies. Hoping to dispense of humanity's last hope, Dracula sends one of his two trusted generals, a demon alchemist named Hector, to kill Belmont. Somehow Hector ended up being found half-dead on the side of a road by a nun named Rosalee who has been nursing him back to health. Dracula sends his other general, Isaac, to find out Hector's fate. A young boy named Ted gets caught up in the story when a werewolf on Hector's trail comes to visit his village.

    My Grade: B+

    Direct download: episode_134--Castlevania_Curse_of_Darkness_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:10pm CDT

    Podcast Episode 133: Tsubasa Volume 1 by CLAMP

    Podcast manga review of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle Volume 1 by Clamp. Translated and adapted by Anthony Gerard. Originally published in Japan by Kodansha. Published in US by Del Rey, $10.95, Rated T ages 13+.

    Sakura and Sayaoran live in the land of Clow and are currently in love, even though neither has directly stated it to the other. They also don't get to spend too much time together. Sayaoran is too busy helping in the excavation of some buried ruins, while Sakura, the princess of Clow, has very little freedom of movement.Even though she doesn't know it, Sakura is a very special girl. She has the ability to bend space and time and there is a mysterious villain that wants to kidnap her for his own nefarious reasons. Luckily, Sayaoran is able to save her, but in the process, Sakura loses her memory.Sayaoran is sent to Yuko, the mysterious wish granter from xxxHolic, to get help. He soon finds he is not the only one seeking her help. Kurogane is a ninja from Japan who was banished from his dimension by his princess that had grown weary of his ego and bloodlust. His wish is to go home. Fai, a wizard from Seresu also shows up, his goal the opposite of Kurogane's. He NEVER wants to go home. Yuko tells them that their wishes can only be realized if they work together.

    My Grade: B+

    Direct download: Episode_133--Tsubasa_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:13pm CDT

    Well, I had originally planned to do a review for Negima Volume 3 and got the review completely entered, but for some reason, the second paragraph got deleted.  I don't rewrite things. So I deleted what was already on the site. I did give it a B+.

    Now, for your viewing pleasure, the closing montage from Five Centimeters Per Second, one of the greatest anime I have ever seen. Seriously, if you like a good love story, check out this film.

    Hear my podcast review at this link:

    http://sesho.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=337878

    Category:Video -- posted at: 10:43pm CDT

    I just added my XBOX 360 gamertag to my webpage. Surprise, its "Sesho"! Can you believe it? I have a ton of 360 games but I only play a few of them at any one time. Lately, I've been playing COD 4 and SoulCalibur 4 and I play a lot of Arcade games.  I've been meaning to review the excellent 360 Naruto: Rise of a Ninja game for some time now. It's just beautiful-looking. And the cool thing is that the actors in the anime do the voices for the game. You can hear the Japanese audio track too, if you're like me and hate the dub. When you are playing it feels you like you are really there in the Leaf Village. Plus, all the music from the anime is there as well. Awesome, Awesome, Awesome.

    Anyway, if you ever want to play a game, send me an invite or a friend request. But when you do, tell me or write me that you know me from my show or site. I don't add just anyone. But if you listen to my show, you must be pretty cool. Even though I'm not.

    Oh yeah, just to clear something up. Yes, my name comes from Inuyasha's brother, Sessho-Maru, and YES, I know it's spelled wrong. When I first registered my XBOX 360 gamertag back in 2006, Sessho was already taken, so I just modified the spelling. So that is where the Sesho name started and I liked it, so I used it as my nickname on my website as well. But over the past year, many people pointed out to me that Sesho was misspelled. This is just to let you know that I am not slow.

    Category:general -- posted at: 9:42am CDT

    Manga Review: Arm of Kannon Volume 2

    Manga Review of Arm of Kannon Volume 2 by Masakazu Yamaguchi. Translated by Takae Brewer. Adapted by Jordan Capell. Originally published in Japan by Gentosha. Published in US by Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated Mature 18+.

    Mao and Maya have escaped from the clutches of the Garama Industries facility and are hiding in the nearby forest. Unfortunately for them, Garama has been doing all kinds of weird genetic experiments on animals and humans for years and some of these mutated lifeforms are crawling around the surrounding woods. The siblings have a lot of people looking for them. First, there is the swordsman from Isurugi Temple, who tried unsuccessfully to prevent the Arm of Kannon from taking over Mao in Volume 1. It is not known whether he can exorcise the evil from Mao or whether it is now his intent to kill the host body. Garama has called on a group known as Manma, who are imbued with supernatural powers no normal human can hope to defeat...oh, and did I mention that the members of Manma are almost evil incarnate? How evil, you ask? Well, in one scene, they force a husband to watch his wife being raped and then killed. What makes it even worse is that it's his decapitated head watching it all, somehow kept alive with black magic. Another group interested in catching up to Mao, who appear to be on the side of good, is C.I.R.O., or the Cabinet Information Research Office. They work for the government and have been taking an increasing interest in Garama activities. They have special powers as well, but based more on sci-fi than magic. Of course, with all these various factions vying to catch Mao, conflict is sure to ensue, and does.

    The thing I like about Arm of Kannon is its logical realism that follows comic book cartoon violence and good versus evil to its appropriate end. What I mean is that the "bad guys" do really bad, really evil things and don't just seem like glamorized versions of Dr. Evil. No matter what the Joker does in a Batman comic, it is still sanitized for a young audience. Even the worst comic book villain hardly ever comes close to real monsters like Adolf Hitler or even the fictionalized evils of a writer like Stephen King. But the fact that Yamaguchi is writing for a mature audience allows him to portray some very vile acts and imagery that make you feel horror, an emotion that most writers, artists, and filmmakers, have lost touch with. And the crazy thing is that he does this in the midst of a shonen like battle atmosphere. The art has a creepy 1980s style to it combined with the slightly enlongated designs of CLAMP with a dark and strongly erotic tone. Yes, this title is about sex and action and violence, both graphic and more subtle. So if any one of those things frightens you, stay away. This is definitely not a series you want lying around on shelves that kids can reach.

    My Grade: A+

    Listen to my podcast review of Volume 1:

    http://sesho.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=358190

    Direct download: arm2.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 3:02pm CDT