Tue, 20 July 2010
Manga review of Blame! volume 2 by Tsutomu Nihei. Translated by Stephen Paul. Adapted by Brandon Montclare. Originally published in Japan by Kodansha. Published in US by Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated OT 16+. (This book should definitely be rated Mature for its ultra-violence and gore).
We do get some answers as to what is going on in this series at the beginning of volume 2 of Blame! Apparently, people with "Net Terminal Genes" are able to access the "Netsphere", which seems to be the computer program running the megastructure that all the humans and non-humans of the setting are entrapped within. Net genes allow their hosts to communicate with the Authority, kinda like a middleman between the humans and the machines. Somewhere along the line the ties seem to have been severed, leading to the chaos and nightmarish world of Blame. Killy continues his lonely quest in search of the genes. He gets a lead at a human colony when he hears about genetic engineers living in Cluster Town and hitches a ride on a transport heading that way. A transport that just happens to get attacked by hostile humanoids. Even when he makes it to Cluster Town, he discovers he's jumped from the frying pan into the mutated tyrannical police state fire.
Early on in Blame volume 2 I came to a stark realization about the utter isolation and loneliness of the setting and its characters. I hadn't really thought about it until I looked at one panel where Killy is sleeping cowered against some pipes trying to keep warm. Killy is surrounded by things and people that want to kill him. His only comfort is miles and miles of dark, cold corridors and metal. Nobody in the world of Blame seems to have established any ties between different levels or cultures. Every group looks upon each other with suspicion and thoughts of murder. It's a mutant eat human world. Killy does gain a companion towards the end of this book, but in Blame, you're never really sure how long any character is going to survive. There's always danger lurking. I did appreciate getting some answers to the questions raised by the first volume. Nihei's writing is a lot better in this second volume, while his character designs still smack of the generic, so much so that I mistook a woman character for Killy in one part of the book. Blame so far is a work of flawed beauty, messy but imaginative.
My Grade: B+
Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 1:36pm CDT
Tue, 20 July 2010
Manga review of The Prince of Tennis Volume 3: Street Tennis by Takeshi Konomi. Translated by Joe Yamazaki. Adapted by Gerard Jones. Originally published in Japan by Shueisha. Published in US by Viz Shonen Jump, $7.95, Rated A for All Ages.
After putting some bullies in their place on the tennis court, Ryoma prepares for the District Prelims, from which the top two schools will advance to the city tournament, and then to the Nationals. Problem is that not everyone from Seishun can play singles. Some of them will have to play doubles. The prideful and independent Ryoma wants no part of working with a partner, and Tomo doesn't either. So they decide to have a match, with the winner getting to play singles in the tournament. They find a public tennis court but in order to use it for the duel, they have to challenge the doubles team that is already on it. Ryoma and Tomo play together but are unable to mesh their styles or egos and are promptly schooled and beaten. You would think they would swear off playing together after that, but both Ryoma and Tomo are sufficiently intrigued with the challenge of playing doubles. So much so that they volunteer to be partners in the District Prelims!
What I liked about volume 3 of The Prince of Tennis was finding out that Ryoma doesn't know EVERYTHING about tennis...yet. He was getting a little too high on his little hobby horse for me, and he needed to get knocked down a notch in the doubles match. Ryoma is a bit too rude so maybe this is the beginning of him becoming a bit more social, but I doubt it. He does stand up for the downtrodden in his own way, such as beating the crap out of some dudes that were bullying his friend's dad. And remember how he stuck up for Sakuno in the opening panels of this series. Ryoma can't stand the strong picking on the weak, but he sticks up for them in such a nonchalant way that he comes off as supercool. There's also an underlying tension in that there is already an anticipation that Ryoma is going to have to beat his teammates to rise to the top.
My Grade: A
Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 1:02pm CDT
Mon, 19 July 2010
Podcast novel review of Usurper of the Sun by Housuke Nojiri. Translated by John Wunderley. Originally published in Japan by Hayakawa. Published in US by Viz Haikasoru, $15.99.
From the back cover:
"Aki Shiraishi is a high school student working in the astronomy club and one of the few witnesses to an amazing event-- someone is building a tower on the planet Mercury. Soon, the enigmatic Builders have constructed a ring around the sun, and the ecology of Earth is threatened by its immense shadow. Aki is inspired to pursue a career in science, and the truth. She must determine the purpose of the ring and the plans of its creators, as the survival of both species--humanity and the alien Builders---hangs in the balance."
My Grade: B+
You can read an excerpt of the book at www.haikasoru.com