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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  • VAMPYBIT.ME - The official Linda Le Weblog

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  • 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 CST

    Manga Review: Eden Volume 4

    Manga review of Eden Volume 4 by Hiroki Endo. Translated by Kumar Sivasubramanian. Originally published in Japan by Kodansha. Published in US by Dark Horse, $12.95, Rated 18+ for Mature Readers.

    As Khan and what's left of his crew along with Elijah and Helena try to escape from the clutches of Propater controlled territory, Hiroki Endo takes a little time to bring the deadly knife master Kenji to the forefront, which comes off as a masterful move. Up until now, Kenji has been a strong but silent killer who slaughters even Propater's superhuman genetically modified monsters with relative ease. But Endo reveals Kenji's past with such richness and masterful storytelling that he could have easily been the main character of this series.

    It's one thing to "design" iconic characters but quite another to give them a background and hidden life that lives up to the surface coolness and fireworks. As always, the art on display here is some of the greatest I've ever seen in a manga. The writing can be a tad suspect when it tries to delve too shallowly in philosophy but that's ok. I'd rather see an attempt at addressing the big issues of life than no attempt at all. That overreaching writing and beautiful art is what makes Eden one of the greatest manga series ever produced.

    My Grade: A+

    Direct download: eden_4.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 2:22pm CST

    Manga Review: Eden Volume 3

    Manga review of Eden Volume 3 by Hiroki Endo. Translated by Kumar Sivasubramanian. Originally published in Japan by Kodansha. Published in US by Dark Horse, $12.95, Rated 18+ for Mature Readers.

    Colonel Kahn and his crew of deadly freedom fighters are surrounded by attacking Propater forces and it's just a matter of time before they move in for the kill. But his soldiers, along with Elijah, Cherubim, Kachua, and Helena, have had plenty of time to prepare the battleground among the ancient Indian ruins. The whole volume is really just a depiction of one battle but the drama contained therein and the insight we get into the character's pasts and motivations make it as riveting as the opening minutes of the D-Day assault in Saving Private Ryan.

    Hiroki Endo is playing for keeps in this masterpiece of a manga that has deep connections to the core of human existence. Lots of characters have died in this manga, and many more will in this and future volumes, but that's what happens in war. The coup that Endo pulls off is making us care about these characters, even if all the story isn't out there yet. We don't really have all the details about what the fight is about yet, but I get the feeling that this manga will only get better. The art is EXQUISITE and ranks as some of the best comic art I've ever seen this side of Akira. The characterization, the panel layout and action, the dialogue, all at the levels of genius. I cannot praise Eden enough. One of the best manga out there. Buy it!

    My Grade: A+ 

    Direct download: eden_3.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 2:17pm CST

    Manga Review: Eden Volume 2

    Manga review of Eden Volume 2 by Hiroki Endo. Translated by Kumar Sivasubramanian. Originally published by Kodansha in Japan. Published in US by Dark Horse, $12.95, Rated 18+ for Mature Readers.

    The first volume of Eden was a little ambiguous in terms of setting and the reasons why Elijah was in the middle of nowhere with the human-like security robot Cherubim. He was taken captive by a group of fighters led by Colonel Kahn who wanted to use his vehicle to get out of Propater controlled territory. As it turns out in this second volume, most of South America is a battleground between Propater and the United Nations and various assorted warlords, drug kingpins, and bandits. It's pretty much like the Wild West where the person with the most firepower usually wins an argument. When Colonel Kahn's group wipes out a bandit emplacement, they unwittingly pick up two new members, Kachua and Helena, two women who were going to be sex slaves for the competing armies on the frontlines. The problem is that Kahn and the others don't like loose ends or baggage, so they might end up dead anyway, unless Elijah can save them. And Propater soldiers are hot on their tail!

    I think Eden is great. The art is perfectly rendered and beautiful, beyond anything Western comic book artists are doing. Hiroki Endo captures the complexity of human beings, especially in their out-loud thinking sililoquies on the state of the world one minute showing gentleness and caring and then the next slicing through an enemies neck with blood bursting all over the place. That's really what Eden is all about, terrible moments of battle and violence and then, in the quiet afterwards, the battle between staying human or becoming a mindless killing machine. Cherubim doesn't have a choice at this point, he can simply be programmed to murder, but the humans have a choice.  I look forward to great things from this series.

    My Grade: A+

     

    Direct download: eden_2.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 1:59pm CST