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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  • Podcast manga review of One Piece Volume 3: Don't Get Fooled Again by Eiichiro Oda. Translated by Andy Nakatani. Adapted by Lance Caselman. Originally published in Japan by Shueisha. Published in US by Viz Shonen Jump, $7.95, Rated T for Teen. Show correction: I said "Jolly Roger" when I meant to say "Gold Roger". Please forgive me!

    From the back cover:

    "Sure, lots of people say they want to be the King of the Pirates, but how many have the guts to do what it takes? When Monkey D. Luffy first set out to sea in a leaky rowboat, he had no idea what might lie over the horizon. Now he's got a crew--sort of--in the form of swordsman Roronoa Zolo and treasure-hunting thief Nami. If he wants to prove himself on the high seas, Luffy will have to defeat the weird pirate lord Buggy the Clown. He'll have to find a map to the Grand Line, the sea route where the toughest pirates sail. And he'll have to face the Dread Captain Usopp, who claims to be a notorious pirate captain...but, frankly, Usopp says a lot of things..."

    My Grade: B

    Direct download: Episode_226--One_Piece_3.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:04pm CST

    Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 Demo Ready To Download

    Just checking out the Playstation Store and was happily surprised to see the demo for the new Naruto Shippuden videogame. Definitely gotta check it out. I never got around to playing the first one. I was quite happy playing Ubisoft's Naruto Rise of a Ninja at the time and didn't see any sense in repeating myself with the same storyline. But I'm definitely excited about playing through the more mature storyline as Naruto and the Leaf Village take on the Akatsuki. The game is due out October 19, 2010. Watch the trailer below:

    Category:Videogames -- posted at: 7:42pm CST

    Podcast manga review of Afterschool Charisma Volume 1  by Kumiko Suekane. Translated by Camellia Nieh. Originally published in Japan by Shogakukan. Published in US by Viz SigIkki, $12.99, Rated T+ (Older Teen) for boobs.

    From the back cover:

    "St. Kleio Academy is a very exclusive school. To enroll, a student must be a clone of a famous historical figure. Wolfgang Mozart, Queen Elizabeth, Sigmund Freud, Marie Curie, Adolf Hitler-- With such a combustible student body, it's only a matter of time before the campus explode! Shiro Kamiya is the only non-clone at St. Kleio, a school where his father is a teacher. Why is a regular kid taking classes at the school? Nobody seems to know for sure."

    My Grade: D-

    You can read Chapters 1 and 7-12 for free at: http://www.sigikki.com/series/afterschoolcharisma/index.shtml

    Direct download: Episode_225--Afterschool_Charisma.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:59pm CST

    Warning! A Huge Podcast About Japanese Videogames

    Ok, I hardly ever talk about videogames on this site, not because I don't play them, but just because I've never gotten around to it. I wish I had done a review for the Naruto Xbox 360 game, which was excellent or for the Wii's Sky Crawlers, but I just never did. I hope to rectify that in the future. Because to me at least, Japanese anime, manga, novels, movies, and games all flow together as one in a symbiotic relationship.

    But I just wanted to let everybody that reads my blog know about my fantasy Japanese videogame podcast. It really is my dream come true. It would be the podcast I would do if I knew Japanese and was a hardcore gamer. The name of it is "Warning! A Huge Podcast"  and it's hosted by ex-writers from my favorite dead magazine, Play. Namely, Nick Des Barres, Casey Loe, and Shidoshi. They talk about Japanese games and while they're at it they also discuss other aspects of Japanese pop culture. To me, you don't have to like games to find the conversation fascinating. They have 7 episodes out so far. Since I just discovered they had a show, I've only listened to the latest one.

    The funny thing is I'd been hunting ex-Play writers for the longest time. No, not in a serial killer way. I just thought the crew on Play was doing the best writing about games in the publishing business and so I am always on the look-out for their work. They were always more intelligent, more eloquent, and more entertaining that the other "Official" Whore magazines. I also really admired Heather Anne Campbell's articles. She wasn't afraid to punch even the great Mario himself in the face. Really, the mag felt more like a literary journal. A thinking man's/woman's take on the industry. Play was also unique for the fact that it had a section entitled "Play Japan" that covered current and upcoming releases in my favorite island country. The thing that stuck out about Play was the fact that all the writers seemed versed in the history and mythology of games themselves. They were all-stars. So check out the podcasts at:

    http://radio.morningproject.com/

    And while I'm at it, even though Play Magazine died, its publisher, Dave Halverson, has started a new magazine called Gamefan which is currently on its 3rd issue. A lot of the staff from Play can be found in its pages. Really, its just Play by a different name. Besides games, it covers a bit of manga, anime, movies, and more offbeat US comics. The website doesn't have much up on yet, since it's so new, but you can look at a 20 page preview of the third issue.

    http://gamefanmag.com/

     

    Category:Videogames -- posted at: 8:55pm CST

    Manga Review: Blade of the Immortal Volume 2

    Manga review of Blade of the Immortal Volume 2: Cry of the Worm by Hiroaki Samura. Translated by Dana Lewis and Toren Smith. Originally published in Japan by Kodansha. Published in US by Dark Horse, $14.95.

    Rin has decided that it's a wasted cause to track down every member of the Itto-Ryu sword school to take her revenge since they will just recruit more swordsmen to replace the ones she and Manji kill. Instead she wants to track down the leader, Anotsu Kagehisa. Even so, Rin and Manji go up against two of Anotsu's disciples in this second volume of Blade of the Immortal. The first, Magatsu Taito, bears the Chinese sword that belonged to Rin's father, a sword that means all the world to her and her family. Secondly, there's Eiku Shizuma, a 200 year old fighter that, just like Manji, also has the holy bloodworms inside his body.

    I enjoyed this second book a lot more than the first. The translation of Lewis and Smith is much more tolerable, or at least more subtle in its jarringness. There are some moments where Manji talks like a ghetto dweller with his constant use of "Shit, man!" but I guess I'm getting more used to it. Or maybe I'm understanding what the translators were TRYING to do, but horribly failing at. To make Manji a streetwise smartass bad mofo. But I think they could have done it in a different way. An awkward moment that really stood out at the end of the book was when Rin tells Manji his blood pressure is too high. Ok, can someone please tell me how the medieval Japanese knew anything about blood pressure?

    The art by Samura rises to an even higher level than in the first installment. He seems to be more adept at blending his contrasting styles of intense line work and using different edges of his pencil. Whereas before his different techniques were a bit haphazard, and at times, disconcerting, the flow is a lot better here. I'm really beginning to like the relationship between Manji and Rin. Except for grabbing her butt one time last volume, there is a lovely big brother/little sister bond forming between them. It feels very genuine. Perhaps that bond will prove more of a redemption for Manji that his task of killing 1000 evil men. That brings me back to an argument I put forth in my podcast for the first volume. Namely, who is truly EVIL in this series? Out of the three Itto-Ryu Manji has faced so far, probably given enough time, 2 of them could have been saved from the murderous lives they led. Most of them have some sort of emotional scar that has led them to their fate. But Manji isn't a psychotherapist. He lets his swords perform the twelve step program of chopping his enemies into pieces.

    My Grade: A

    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 7:52pm CST

    Podcast manga review of One Piece Volume 2: Buggy the Clown by Eiichiro Oda. Translated by Andy Nakatani. Adapted by Lance Caselman. Originally published in Japan by Shueisha. Published in the US by Viz Shonen Jump, $7.95, Rated T for Teen.

    From the back cover:

    "As a kid, Monkey D. Luffy vowed to become King of the Pirates and find the legendary treasure called the "One Piece". The enchanted Gum-Gum Fruit has given Luffy the power to stretch like rubber-- and his new crewmate, the infamous Roronoa Zolo, strikes fear into the hearts of other buccaneers! But what chance does one rubber guy stand against Nami, a thief so tough she specializes in robbing pirates...or Captain Buggy, a fiendish pirate lord whose weird, clownish appearance conceals even weirder powers? It's pirate vs. pirate in the second swashbuckling volume of One Piece!"

    My Grade: B+

    Just hit the play button below:

    You can also listen to my podcast review of One Piece Volume 1 at this link:

    http://www.sesho.libsyn.com/podcast_episode_207_one_piece_volume_1

    Direct download: Episode_224--_One_Piece_volume_2.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:32pm CST

    Manga Review: The Prince of Tennis Volume 10

    Manga review of The Prince of Tennis volume 10: "Seize the Moment" 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.

    Volume 10 opens with Ryoma being conned into taking over his dad's tennis lessons (he's probably too busy looking at porn). Suprisingly, his tutorees end up being Sakuno and her friend. In a strange twist of fate, an errant ball by Sakuno leads to her getting bullied by the Ginka Jr. High tennis team. Ginka happens to be Seishun's next opponent in the upcoming City Tournament Semifinals. And Ryoma decides to take them on by himself. All 30 members! We also meet a new character named Jin, a Yamabuki Junior High tennis player who has a slight psychopathic streak. He starts kicking and punching anybody that tells him what to do. Instead of a chip on his shoulder, he appears to have a mountain! His new target of hostilty seems to be Ryoma Echizen. As the semifinals approach, Captain Tezuka decides to prep everyone by having intrasquad matches. First up is Ryoma vs. Shusuke.

    I have to say that even though he's not a common pompadour sporting street thug, Ryoma is quite the badass when he wants to be. He's not afraid to stand up against 30 guys if it means protecting Sakuno. He also doesn't back down from confrontation with Jin, who appears to strike the fear of god into all those that cross him. It's just really cool seeing Ryoma being brave even if he is a little dude.

    I also wanted to comment on the genius of Takeshi Konomi's character designs. As you can tell from the cover of this volume, Konomi is not afraid to show off his team in a shojoesque, maybe even faintly yaoish way. It says on the splash page that while the Prince of Tennis was originally intended to be a comic for boys, it attracted legions of female fans. And it's easy to see why. The main cast would not look out of place, with some minor modifications, in the pages of Fruits Basket. And that's what makes Konomi so smart. I think you have all the Shonen Jump action and level progression along with the good looks of the guys and their relationships with each other which leans more towards the shojo side of things.

    My Grade: A

    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 5:52pm CST

    Podcast manga review of Blade of the Immortal Volume 1: Blood of a Thousand by Hiroaki Samura. Translated by Dana Lewis and Toren Smith. Originally published in Japan by Kodansha. Published in US by Dark Horse, $14.95.

    From the back cover:

    "Manji, a ronin warrior of feudal Japan, has been cursed with immortality. To rid himself of this curse, regain his mortality, and end his life of misery, Manji must slay one thousand evil men! His quest begins when a young girl seeks his help in taking revenge on her parent's killers. His quest ends ends only after he has spilled the blood of a thousand!"

    My Grade: B

    Direct download: Episode_223--Blade_of_the_Immortal_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:55pm CST

    Manga Review: The Prince of Tennis Volume 9

    Manga review of The Prince of Tennis volume 9: "Take Aim!" 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.

    The City Tournament is in full swing as Seishun finds itself all tied up 1-1 after its doubles matches with St. Rudolph. Seishun's "Golden Pair" of Eiji and Shuichiro were supposed to have a cakewalk through the tournament but ended up losing. Kaoru and Momo had to take the team's fate on their shoulders and squeak out a win. Now it's on to the singles matches. First up is Ryoma vs. Yuta, who just happens to be gunning for his older brother and Ryoma's teammate, Shusuke. Yuta originally was a student at Seishun but always felt overshadowed by his "genius" older brother. So when Hajime, the scheming and sly captain of St. Rudolph came to recruit him for the tennis team, Yuta was all ears. The unseeded Fudmoine has its hands full as they have to face last years City Tournament defending champs, Hyotei.

    Reading a volume of The Prince of Tennis when it gets into tournament mode is like watching a heavyweight boxing title match. In a word, exciting. You have all these disparate characters with their contrasting styles and attitudes and you just wonder how its gonna play out, literally. I guess you could say there are some "kinda" badguys in the series, like Hajime, for instance. He tells Yuta to aim for Ryoma's injured eye. But that's just because, to these characters, winning is everything and losing is nothing. I've yet to see any legitimate player try to cheat, but I'm sure that's in the offing somewhere down the line.

    My Grade: A

    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:47pm CST

    Podcast  manga review of Polyphonica: Cardinal Crimson volume 1. Original story by Ichiro Sakaki and ocelot. Illustrated by Tomo Hirokawa. Translated and adapted by Sheldon Drzka. Originally published in Japan by Flex Comix. Published in US by CMX, $9.99, Rated Teen+.

    From the back cover:

    "There's a magical place known as Polyphonica, where humans and spirits live side by side. In face, spirits are sustained by a very special music known as "Commandia", which humans play. As a young boy, Phoron's singing accidentally summoned a female spirit named Corticarte. She made a pact to always protect him in exchange for the beautiful sounds he created. But Phoron thought her to be a figment of his imagination and forgot about her. Now a bumbling student at Tolubath Commandia Academy, the teenage Phoron accidentally summons Corticarte while practicing his music. Though she's not pleased to have been forgotten, she remembers her oath to Phoron. The struggling musician could use all the help he can get, but this feisty spirit may be more than he can handle. "

    My Grade: C

    Here is the opening for the original PC visual novel Polyphonica:

    Direct download: Episode_222--_Polyphonica_volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:33am CST