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

    Free To View Anime

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  • Is Shojo Beat Cleaning Up Its Covers?

    I bought a couple of manga today at Barnes and Noble, including two Shojo Beat titles, the first volumes of Kimi Ni Todoke and Black Bird. It just struck me that they looked different than the usual Shojo Beat books. Neither of them had those giant ugly volume numbers in the bottom right hand corner nor the boring author font with "Story and Art by" stamp on the left bottom corner and border on the bottom edge. I've never been a fan of the generic design of any of Viz's "line" manga, like Beat and the Shonen Jump titles. To me, they make the books look boring and take away from the beauty of the covers. But I guess they do make them instantly recognizable as belonging to a certain genre. But the Shojo Beat titles in particular suffer. A machine just stamps every cover with no regard as for how it's going to affect the art. If you're lucky Viz tries to change the color of the volume number or the author info to blend in better with the colors in the cover art...if you're lucky.

    But with these two titles, Beat seems to be de-emphasizing the Shojo Beat brand, especially with Kimi Ni Todoke. "Shojo Beat" is nowhere to be found on its front cover. Instead of the humungoid volume number on the right there is a stylized 1 at center bottom. Even the author's name is given a more personalized font that fits the feel and style of the manga. You do have the Shojo Beat website and UPC code on the back bottom just like usual but no huge banner at the top.

    Blackbird has a more traditional Viz design but again does not crowd its cover with Shojo Beat insignia, borders, and unsightly font. Instead it has ethereal, airy blacks and reds with a smaller author credit and warmer volume number that fits in with the cover. On the back you do have the Shojo Beat banner at the top but the web address has been left off, hopefully to not cut across and cover up the art.

    I hope Viz starts treating all their Shojo Beat title cover designs like these two titles. You need to bring attention to the ART, not to the volume numbers and product line. The original artists designed the art on the covers for a reason, to catch the eyes of browsing readers, not to be distorted or even erased. It makes the Beat titles look much more attractive. It's fine to keep generic looking spines, but show the covers more love.  

    Direct download: kimi_ni_todoke.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 6:59pm CDT

    Manga Review: Hayate Cross Blade Volume 3

    Manga reveiw of Hayate Cross Blade Volume 3 by Shizuru Hayashiya. Translated by Adrienne Beck. Adapted by Ed Chavez. Originally published in Japan by Media Works. Published in US by Tor/Seven Seas, $9.99, Rated Older Teen 16+.

    Well, we finally find out why Mizuchi wants to beat Ayana so bad. Mizuchi asked Ayana to be her sister-in-arms two times, but was rejected on both occasions. It doesn't help that Ayana doesn't even remember Mizuchi when she sees her, adding insult to injury. They finally get to rumble at the beginning of this volume as Ayana and Hayate take on Mizuchi and Sou in a Hoshitori match to move up to Rank B. The real meat of Volume 3 concerns a fighting pair of swordbearers named Jun and Yuho. Jun happens to be Ayana's roommate and might even be a better swordsgirl than her. But she's not at the top of her game right now because she picks battles with weak opponents. Yuho, her sister-in-arms, is very sickly, and Jun doesn't want to push her too far physically by fighting against strong pairs. Yuho's condition has been deteriorating and her mom is coming to check on her, which might even lead to Yuho being withdrawn from the school. Before she gets even sicker, Yuho wants to set up a final duel with her and Jun taking on Ayana and Hayate.

    I did write a review for volume 2 of this series, but right before I saved it, there was a big lightning strike near my house and my electricity went off for a minute. So the review was lost. What I did write about it was pretty negative and I actually considered not even reading volume 3. It mostly had to do with two things, one of which seems to have been solved in this volume. The biggest fault of the series is that the character of Hayate is a complete wash. All of the other characters work as real people, but Hayate comes off as a one joke comedy skit, almost becoming a cancerous growth on Ayana. You can always count on Hayate to never take anything seriously, and Hayashiya never fails to draw her in a deformed, almost "Scream-like" style, overemphasizing her already over the top behavior. Since you can't take her seriously as a person, she tends to ruin every scene she's in. But thankfully, the other characters are more interesting and have actual motivations and emotions beyond wanting to straddle and marry their sister-in-arms.

    The other fault of volume 2 was that Hayashiya took up a serious issue, physical abuse of women, and turned it into a ridiculous insult of abused women. There was a girl that was beating and hitting her sister-in-arms (not in a comedy way like Hayate and Ayana) and the abused sister refused to leave her because she thought they would make a good comedy act! It was just horrible writing on the part of Hayashiya that showed she wasn't clever or sensitive enough to insert a dramatic element into the series at that point. She seems to have turned this around in volume 3.

    I know the "bed-ridden sickly friend" character has been done to death. In fact, all we needed was for Yuho to be blind and amnesiac to meet all the manga cliches. But Hayashiya handles some of the more serious dramatic implications of Yuho's condition quite well. She's not trying to invoke pity, but is a character that is forcing her friend to OVERCOME her pity and take on a foe that will push her to her limits and even higher. While I don't think this title will ever overcome its major fault, Hayate, it does find ways to redeem itself in other ways.

    My Grade: B+

    Direct download: hayate_blade_3.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 6:09pm CDT

    Japanese Develop Baseball Playing Robots

    Japanese researchers are working on baseball playing robots. Don't let your imagination run wild. The robots are basically just arms. One throws a ball and another swings at pitches with a crude looking rod. But who knows, will we someday have fully articulated running humanoid robots running bases? My question is, who would want to watch something like that? My other question is, why develop baseball playing robots in the first place? It's a typical Japanese otaku quest. To pursue technologies and products that will have no real world interest or market. Beyond that of marketing, actually. I can already see a Japanese bat or glove making company (do they exist?) buying a baseball robot, "Ball-chan", or something, and using it as a mascot. Maybe different baseball clubs could each have a robot and they could battle to the death at the end of the season, gladiator style! Here's the link to the video of the robots:

    http://gmy.news.yahoo.com/vid/14828813/

    Direct download: baseball_robots.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 9:57am CDT

    First Look At Iron Man and Wolverine Anime Trailers

    Last year, it was reported that Marvel and Madhouse would be teaming up to make 4 different anime series based on Marvel characters. The first two that will air are Wolverine and Iron Man. Two trailers have been created to start up buzz about the shows that will air in Japan spring 2010. Both Wolverine and Iron Man will have twelve 30-minute episodes each. Warren Ellis, a writer at Marvel says that the Wolverine anime will be loosely based on the very first Wolverine mini-series published back in the early 1980s. It was written by Chris Claremont (X-men) and drawn by Frank Miller (Sin City, 300, Daredevil, Batman). The Wolverine teaser was directed by Rintaro (X movie, Metropolis). It is to be stressed that these trailers are test footage just to show viewers the "style" of the two anime series. So what you see might be not necessarily reflect the actual plot or characters that will be involved. But I would think at least the character designs would be pretty close to the end product. Or else, why even show them? Is that an anime version of War Machine?

    I'm pretty excited about these trailers. Why? Because all the Marvel and DC characters are so old and tired at this point. How old is Iron Man? Almost 50? And Wolverine is only a litte bit younger. In his mid 30s? I've pretty much given up on the Marvel and DC comic books, even though I try to get back into them from time to time. They've just been sucked up into these yearly "EVENTS" and it seems like they only consider an idea "original" if it involves killing a character. And then they end up bringing them back (see Captain America) anyway, so who cares? I grew up on Marvel and DC as a kid, but that wide eyed enjoyment I used to get from them has completely migrated to Japanese manga and anime. I'm willing to give any fresh take on Marvel and DC characters a chance. Even if they fail miserably.

    Here are the two trailers:

    Category:News -- posted at: 11:10pm CDT

    Halo Legends is an anthology anime series of short films focusing on the world of the videogame Halo much like The Animatrix or last year's Batman: Gotham Knight. Microsoft is tapping some of the best anime companies in business today. The studios involved are:

    1. Bones (Fullmetal Alchemist, Eureka Seven, Cowbody Bebop: The Movie)
    2. Casio (Dai Nipponjin)
    3. Production I.G. (Ghost in the Shell, Blood)
    4. Studio 4c (Tekkokinkreet, Batman: Gotham Knight)
    5. Toei (Dragon Ball, One Piece)

    Some of the directors that will be handling episodes include Mamoru Oshii (Sky Crawlers, Ghost in the Shell 1&2) and Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed 1&2).

    The short films will first appear on Xbox Live this fall. Microsoft is developing a Halo hub on Xbox Live called "Halo Waypoint" that will be the Mecca of Halo fans. It will be a one-stop destination of Halo news, trailers, podcasts, player rankings and other halo info.

    I'm not a big Halo fan. In fact, I only started playing the first Halo game about a year ago and still have not finished it. I never had an Xbox so I missed out on the whole Halo phenomenon when it came out. I was a PS2 man. Of course, I've always been aware of the franchise. How could you not? Both the Animatrix and the Batman anime shorts were uneven and entertaining only in spurts and I suspect it will be the same with Halo Legends. But I think the whole guys running around in mech-like Guyver-esque armor will play more to Japanese strengths than the other two series. Just like the case with the Twilight graphic novel and manga, I think the Halo Legends project is a win-win scenario for anime and the Halo gameworld. The Batman dvd was a huge success when it came out in the US, taking the #1 ranking in sales the week it came out. I'm sure when this comes out on DVD it will have the same sort of sales, if not greater.  

    Category:News -- posted at: 3:37pm CDT

    Manga Review: Naruto Volume 36

    Manga review of Naruto Volume 36: Cell Number 10 by Masashi Kishimoto. Translated by Mari Morimoto. Adapted by Deric Hughes and Benjamin Raab. Originally published in Japan by Shueisha. Published in US by Viz Shonen Jump, $7.95, Rated T for Teen.

    While searching for a jinchuriki host in the Land of Fire, Hidan and Kakuzu happened to stumble upon Chiriku, a priest who used to be one of the Guardian Shinobi 12. The two Akatsuki defeated and killed Chiriku and are now looking to collect his 30 million ryo bounty to finance their operations. Asuma, who also used to be in the Shinobi 12, sets out with Shikamaru and two other elite ninja to track down and kill or capture Hidan and Kakuzu. Meanwhile, Naruto continues to train with Kakashi and Yamato, struggling to master the art of making a "super rasengan". Even the ever-optimistic and driven Naruto is at the end of his rope and is thinking about giving up the attempt. He must figure out a way to change the form and nature of his chakra at the same time, something even the 4th Hokage could never master.

    Volume 36 marks the first time we get to see the Akatsuki in action, well, I mean in a fight to the death capacity. I know Itachi showed up at the Leaf Village many volumes ago and had a minor battle with Kakashi, but I saw that as merely a brief skirmish.  Yeah, I know, Naruto and his team also fought and defeated Deidara and Sasori. But all these battles have been cakewalks compared to fighting Hidan and Kakuzu. They're in a completely different league. Hidan has the ability to curse his enemies and cannot be killed. He takes most of the lead in the battle against Cell 10, so confident is he in his abilities. Kakuzu helps Hidan a little bit, but otherwise takes no part in the actual battle. You knew back in earlier volumes that Naruto, Sakura, and Kakashi were not going to die fighting Sasori or Deidara, but when Cell 10 fights, being composed of supporting characters, there is more of a sense of danger. Somebody could get killed.

    It's also cool to see Kakashi's faith in Naruto. He's giving the boy a full plate by asking him to master the super rasengan. He really believes that Naruto is special and could become not only Hokage, but maybe the most powerful ninja ever. Naruto has come a long way from the early volumes of the manga when he was seen as a village pariah. Now, he seems to be a vital part of Konoha's very survival. What a series!

    My Grade: A+

    Direct download: naruto_36.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 1:13pm CDT

    Podcast Episode 174: Shonen Sunday Part 2

    Podcast manga review of the first chapters of the remaining www.shonensunday.com titles: Kekkaishi by Yellow Tanabe, Maoh: Juvenile Remix by Kotaro Isaka & Megumi Oruga, Rin-ne by Rumiko Takahashi.

    Kekkaishi:

    By night, junior high student Yoshimori Sumimura is a "kekkaishi"--a demon-hunter who specializes in creating magical barriers around his prey. By day, Yoshimori's got other demons to battle: an addiction to sweets and a seriously crotchety grandfather! Yoshimori's pretty neighbor and childhood friend, Tokine Yukimura, is also a kekkaishi, but their families are feuding over who is the "true practitioner" of the art.

    My Grade: B+

    Maoh Juvenile Remix:

    “As crazy as your ideas might be, as long as you believe in yourself and tackle the issue head-on, you can even change the world.”

    Ando is a high school student who has the power to make others say out loud what he’s thinking. Inukai is the mysterious leader of a vigilante group called Grasshopper, which is at odds with the city’s redevelopment plan. In this chaotic city, these two will come together to weave a story of courage, determination and confrontation.

    My Grade: B+

    Rin-ne:

    Ever since a childhood incident Sakura Mamiya has had the power to see ghosts. Now her life has gotten a lot more complicated with the arrival of her mysterious classmate Rinne, who seems to know a thing or two about detecting ghosts himself!

    My Grade: A-

    Direct download: episode_174--Shonen_Sunday_Part_2.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:07pm CDT

    Podcast Episode 173: Viz Manga Blitz and Shonen Sunday Part 1

    Podcast manga review of the first chapters of Arata: The Legend by Yuu Watase and Hyde & Closer by Haro Aso. Both titles are available for free at www.shonensunday.com

    Arata: The Legend by Yuu Watase:

    In a mythical world where humans and gods co-exist, a ceremony marking the new governing princess is about to occur for the first time in 60 years. Only a girl from the Hime Clan may take this position, but the lack of females born to this family means that a boy called Arata must pose for the role. Meanwhile in modern-day Japan, a boy named Arata Hinohara is starting his new life in high school. He wants to put memories of his difficult past behind him, but things aren’t going to be simple when he discovers a mysterious connection to the first Arata...

    My Grade: A

    Hyde and Closer by Haro Aso:

    Shunpei Closer is your average…well, slightly below average kid in junior high who finds himself in the middle of a great battle of dark sorcery. With cursed dolls coming after him one after another, Shunpei Closer’s life is in danger! If that weren’t enough, Hyde, the teddy bear given to him by his grandfather, suddenly comes alive to rescue him. With Hyde’s help, can Shunpei save himself and live to see another day?

    My Grade: B+

    Direct download: Episode_173--Shonen_Sunday_Part_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:39am CDT

    Well, www.shonensunday.com has launched and is up for business. By business, I mean supplying rabid manga fans with titles that have not been published in America yet. Well, that is, except for Kekkaishi, which is already being published by Viz. I always hear good things about it. I even bought the first volume when it first came out....about 5 years ago:) I just never have gotten around to reading it. Now that it's stuck up in my grill with this website, I'm gonna make up for lost time. And I know Rin-ne is online as well, but do we have to get technical? Along with news, a blog, and the manga themselves, there is also a link for downloads (wallpapers of the series). I might need an oxygen mask, I'm so giddy about the whole thing. (But would that make it worse?:) Either click on the web address above or the banner beneath the manga title listings below. RUN, do not walk to ShonenSunday.com!:)

    Right now, there are five titles up. Each title only has Chapter one so far, except for Rin-ne, which has chapters 1-13. So here are the titles:

    Rin-ne by Rumiko Takahashi (Inuyasha, Ranma 1/2, Maison Ikkoku)

    Kekkaishi by Yellow Tanabe

    Arata the Legend by Yuu Watase (Ceres, Absolute Boyfriend, Fushigi Yugi)

    Hyde & Closer by Haro Aso

    Maoh: Juvenile Remix by Kotaro Isaka & Megumi Osuga

    Category:News -- posted at: 3:29pm CDT

    New Pictures From Twilight: The Graphic Novel by Young Kim Here are three more illustrations and sketches from Entertainment Weekly by Young Kim for the upcoming Twilight: The Graphic Novel, based on Stephanie Meyer's novel, due to be published by Yen Press.
    Direct download: twilight_manga_resize.JPG
    Category:News -- posted at: 2:47pm CDT