Chibi Vampire #1 by Yuna Kagesaki Manga Review


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Title:  Chibi Vampire

Author:  Yuna Kagesaki

Publisher:  TOKYOPOP

ISBN:  1598163221

May Contain Spoilers

The Markers are a family of vampires, with a misfit of a daughter. Cute little Karin is a reverse vampire, and instead of needing to suck blood, her body needs to expel it once a month.  Trying to keep her condition a secret isn’t so easy, especially when there are geysers of blood shooting from her nose.  She’s doing a pretty good job keeping everything under control, until Kenta transfers to her school.  Now, whenever she’s near him, her blood reacts to him, and she has to fight to keep it from gushing out of her.  Why is Kenta’s presence affecting her this way?

This was a cute book.  I love Karin’s perky personality, and think her wacky family is hysterical.  Her mother is about as loving as a junk-yard dog, and her father is a total wuss.  Her older brother is an absolute ladies man, and Anju, her younger sister, is downright creepy.  Since Karin is the misfit of the family, she is lacking many of the vampire qualities that she’s expected to possess.  Her night vision sucks, so her parents make her pay the electric bill, and then there’s her blood spraying problem.  Her parents’ disappointment with her shortcomings is obvious, and she’s treated like a failure.

Right from the start, Kenta and Karin get off on the wrong foot.  Freaked out any time he’s near, Karin spooks and runs off screaming.  Poor Kenta develops a complex because she’s so scared of him.  When he spies her in the park, giving blood to an unsuspecting victim, he misunderstands and immediately thinks she’s a less than wholesome young lady!  He confronts her about whoring herself, and this doesn’t help them become friends any faster.  When she loses control and gushes blood all over him, he kindly carries her home, but then Karin is so embarrassed to see him again, she skips school for two weeks.  What’s a hemorrhaging vampire to do?

I didn’t think the art was anything special, but it did adequately relate Karin’s misadventures.  The panels were a little cluttered, and even the day scenes were dark and rather dismal.  The page layouts kept everything moving along, though, and I liked the variety in the panel sizes.

I had originally passed on this title because I found the blurb on the back dull, and I was less than impressed with the cover.  I picked it up during a TP studio sale at TRSI, and I’m really happy that I did.  Argh – now I have to order the rest….

Grade:  B+

Rated for Older Teen 16+

Mar #1 by Nobuyuki Anzai Manga Review

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Title:  Mar #1

Author:  Nobuyuki Anzai

Publisher:  Viz

ISBN:  159116902x

May Contain Spoilers

Ginta is a 14 year old, runty kid.  He’d rather being playing video games and daydreaming than concentrating on his studies.  Lately he’s been having the same dream, where he’s in the fantasy land Marchen and he’s trying to save the abducted princess from the demon king.  He’s had the dream 102 times, and wishes for nothing other than to be able to go there.

In school one day, a door opens to his dreams, and he grabs the opportunity to go to Marchen.  Once through the doorway, he finds that he no longer needs his coke-bottle glasses, and he’s no longer a huge wimp!  He learns about ARMS,  accessories with  magical powers imbued into them.  After he finds Babbo, a living, talking ARM, he discovers the only way he can go home again is to find the ARM with the power open the door between the worlds.  With Babbo as his companion, Ginta sets off to find the ARM that will send him home again.

This wasn’t a bad book, but there was nothing in it to really set it apart from a dozen other titles.  Ginta was a cute character; he’s good natured, cheerful, and willing to help others even if it puts him in danger.  Babbo, the ARM, is a stuffed shirt.  He’s a snob, and he thinks he’s a refined intellectual.  He can’t remember anything about himself other than his name, and he’s not too happy being dragged around by Ginta.

As Ginta travels through Marchen, he meets Jack, a cowardly boy who’s farm is being terrorized by werewolves.  What follows is the obligatory coming of age tale, where Jack, with Ginta and Babbo’s help, finally stands up to the garden plundering beasts.  In gratitude, Jack’s mother suggests that her son assist Ginta in his journey, and gives him another companion. 

The book chugs along at a rapid clip, and it did keep me entertained.  However, I probably won’t read further unless I can find future volumes at a large discount.  Ginta’s adventures weren’t unique enough to merit a steady place in my reading roster.

Grade: C

Rated for Teen

O-Parts Hunter #1 by Seishi Kishimoto Manga Review

Title:  O-Parts Hunter

Author:  Seishi Kishimoto

Publisher:  Viz

ISBN:  1421508559

May Contain Spoilers

Jio is an outcast who has been hated and abused for as long as he can remember.  Betrayed by his best friend, he succumbs to a voice that promises he’ll never be hurt again as long as he hates others and loves only money.  His dream is world domination, so he’s never at anybody’s mercy again.

Ruby is a treasure hunter.  She’s following in her father’s footsteps, searching for legendary O-Parts, relics from an ancient civilization that can unlock a person’s full potential.  Only O-Parts Tacticians (OPT’s) can wield O-Parts, which can be used for good or evil.  When she meets Jio, she learns that he’s an OPT.  She convinces him to help her realize her dream of becoming a famous treasure hunter.  Will she assist him with his dream of world domination?

O-Parts Hunter seemed like a mish-mash of several other manga series, and it didn’t really have anything that made it unique.  Jio could be an interesting character, but I disliked how the author jumped from the present to flashbacks of his abusive past.   He’s possessed by a blood thirsty demon that takes control of his consciousness during battles, and he has no memory of what happens when the demon awakens.

Ruby reminds me of Bulma from Dragonball, only she has better manners.  She’s a happy go lucky sort, and after Jio rescues her from being eaten by a giant tortoise, she proposes that they join forces and travel together.  She irritates the heck out of Jio because she’s always smiling, and, due to his past, he finds her overtures of friendship insincere. 

The art is scribbly with extremely cluttered backgrounds.  With so much littering the background, it’s hard to focus on the characters and decipher what they’re doing.  Jio’s character design is totally bizarre, and his different colored eyes looked more weird than anything else.

I’m interested to learn more about the demon possessing Jio (he kicks ass), but as the series feels like it’s just revisiting other stories, I don’t know if I’ll read beyond this volume.

Grade: C

Rated for Older Teen

Sweety #1 by Park & Kim Manhwa Review

Title:  Sweety #1

Author:  Jae-Sung Park & Ju-Ri Kim

Publisher: Infinity Studios

ISBN:  1596972319

May Contain Spoilers

Myung-Ho Yoon is an average 18 year old high school student.  He has no remarkable qualities, and in fact is pretty darn boring.  If it wasn’t for his next door neighbor, 5th grader Ji-Hae, he’d even come up empty handed in the chocolate department on Valentine’s Day.  This year, however, Ji-Hae has slipped a little surprise in Myung-Ho’s box of sweets – a note asking him to be her lover!

Yu-Ri Doe attends the same high school as Myung-Ho.  A firm believer in fate, a tarot card reading foretold that she would meet her destined love on Valentine’s Day.  Lurking outside of school, waiting for the 100th person to walk through the school gates, Yu-Ri doesn’t quite accept what fate presents her.  Pushing aside Myung-Ho’s ape-like friend, U-Shik, she instead presents her chocolates to Myung-Ho, declares her love for him, and dashes off, embarrassed.  Now Myung-Ho is pursuing the pretty Yu-Ri, while the adolescent Ji-Hae pursues him! 

This was an amusing read, but it didn’t really contain anything original.  Having grown up with Ji-Hae and considering her to be like his little sister, Myung-Ho is unable to bring himself to reject her outright.  She’s such a cutey, he finds it impossible to dash her feelings.  This leads to misunderstandings with his new girlfriend, Yu-Ri, the prettiest girl in school, and the daughter of an over-protective gangster determined to protect his little girl from the clutches of lecherous teenager boys.

I thought the inclusion of Yu-Ri’s father was unnecessary, particularly at this early stage of the series.  There’s enough conflict that could have been drawn out with rivals Ji-Hae and Yu-Ri, without adding more fuel to the fire.  U-Shik is mistaken for Yu-Ri’s new boyfriend and roughed up by her father and his thugs, and instead of amusing, I found the entire scene tedious.  Yu-Ri’s menacing housekeeper has some interesting possibilities, especially considering that Yu-Ri seems clueless as to her father’s occupation.

Ji-Hae, having finally achieved that pinnacle of every girl’s life, considers herself an adult now that she’s had her first period.  It’s time to confess her feelings to Myung-Ho!  With her girlish fantasies of romance, she continuously puts Myung-Ho through the wringer, as he is caught in several compromising situations with his young neighbor. These were the best parts of the book, because he allows himself to fall for Ji-Hae’s beguiling charms again and again, only to have Yu-Ri and U-Shik stumble upon them at the most inopportune moment.  Ji-Hae is cute and precocious, and Myung-Ho just can’t bring himself to hurt her feelings.

Sweety wasn’t a bad book, it just felt a little stale. I thought Ji-Hae was the most interesting character, and I wonder what other trouble she’ll cook up for Myung-Ho. 

Grade: B- 

Rated for 13+

Kamunagara #1 by Hajime Yamamura Manga Review



Title:  Kamunagara: Rebirth of the Demonslayer #1

Author:  Hajime Yamamura

Publisher:  Media Blasters Press

ISBN:  1586555405

May Contain Spoilers

Kugaya is a high school student who lives with his aunt and is haunted by dreams of another time.  On his way home from school one day, he’s attacked by a demonic dog.  He kills the dog with a sword that popped suddenly out of his hand.  In shock, his classmate, transfer student Takemi, hugs him and tells him she’s been waiting for meet him again.  She explains that Kugaya is the reincarnation of her love, Tohma, and together, they must battle the invaders from the Otherworld.

Kugaya will have nothing to do with her and her tales of the end of the world.  That is, until he returns home to find his aunt murdered, and a demon lying in wait for him.  Soon, Kugaya and Takemi are fighting the murderous Intruders, who possess the bodies of animals and then attack unsuspecting humans.  With no memories of his past life, Kugaya questions the truth of Takemi’s story when one of their teachers is possessed.  How can he kill a person?

This was a creepy, engrossing book.  I can’t believe I missed it when it was first published in 2004.  I love stuff like this!  Reincarnation, demons, magic swords, it’s all here.

After the murder of his aunt, Kugaya begins to work with Takemi, even though he doesn’t quite buy into her story.  He thinks of himself as an exterminator, but he is plagued by guilt for killing small animals.  All bets are off when Takemi is threatened by a possessed teacher.  Even if he is a demon, Kugaya balks at killing him.  Confused, he just wants to know he’s doing the right thing.  He’s an earnest young man, and he’s reluctant to fulfill his new role of demon slayer.

Takemi regained her memories of her former life when she was a child, and has been waiting to be reunited with her lover, Tohma, ever since.  Searching for the one who inherited the holy sword, she is overjoyed when she finds Kugaya.  Her joy is quickly dashed, as Kugaya has no recollection of their past, and he rejects their duty to fight the Intruders.  Hurt and betrayed, she has to find a way to convince him to join her.  She can’t fight alone, and she’s lonely and tired.  Her dreams of a happy reunion with Tohma are shattered, and she’s just as lonely as before.

Takemi is a sad character.  How unfair that she’s had to endure memories of the past for so long, and Kugaya is ignorant of them.  All this time, she had been waiting to find Tohma, and now that she’s finally found him, she’s more isolated than she was before.

I wonder what role the kendo coach, Narugami will play as the story unfolds.  And who was the mysterious boy that mocked Kugaya after the battle with the teacher?

Hajime Yamamura’s art really compliments the story.  His characters are expressive, though poor Kugaya usually looks terrified or confused.  The action is easy to follow, and the page layouts dictate the flow of the action.  With battle scenes, there are smaller, almost frantic panels to capture the chaos.

I found this to be a solid title, with likeable characters, and engaging art. Fans of Berserk or Sazan Eyes might want to give this series a chance.  

 Grade: B+

 Rated for 16+

Claymore #5 by Norihiro Yagi

Title: Claymore #5

Author: Norihiro Yagi

Publisher: Viz

ISBN:  142150622x

Contains Spoilers

The backstory with Claire and Teresa wraps up in this volume, and things didn’t end well for Teresa.  Poor Claire wanders from town to town, lugging Teresa’s head  with her, searching for a man in black so she, too, can become a Claymore.  The existence of “Awakened Beings”, Claymores that have used too much yoma power and evolved into a stronger, deadlier kind of yoma, is revealed, as is Claire’s ranking in the society: she’s the weakest of the Claymores.

When Claire is assigned to a hit squad, sent to kill an awakened being, things get really tense for our group of warriors.  They discover that the awakened being is male, a creation from the early days, when the warriors were men.  But they quickly exceeded their yoma powers, and became monstrous awakened beings.  Can the Claymores destroy the powerful being, or will they be cut down, one after another, as the creature cackles with glee?

I almost dread reading new volumes of Claymore, because I know that it’s at least a two month wait before I can read the next installment!  They always end on cliffhangers, and they are such a fast, enjoyable read (if you like all the limb-lopping and associated gore). 

Now I’m dying with curiosity to find out what’s going on with Claire.  How can she be the weakest of the Claymores?  Is the scorn and derision that the other Claymores show her justified?  And when will she run into Priscilla again?  So many questions.  Not enough pages in this volume to reveal all  of the answers!

Grade: B+

 Rated T+ for Older Teens