Broccoli at AX08

Not a whole lot of information at this panel.  No new announcements, but Jonathan Kung ran through recent releases, including the gorgeous first volume of Cosmode USA.   If you are into cos-play, this is the publication for you. It’s a hardcover and it includes tips and tricks for cos-play.  It’s a very nice looking production.

He also had copies of Koi Cupid, sola, and the new Disgaea artbook.  NUI! sounds cute, about a girl who loves her plushies so much that they come to life, and at only 3 volumes, it will be worth picking up.

After the panel, I asked about the next volume of  Kamui, and also what happened to the Boysenberry line of BL manga.  The answers were kind of vague, but hopefully we will see Kamui in the Fall, and the next Boysenberry books in the winter.  I guess I shouldn’t have been alarmed that the Boysenberry website hasn’t been updated since Nov ’07, or that Sex Friend is 7 months late.

[PR] Broccoli Books Announces New Titles

Broccoli Books announces new title, sola and Honoka Level Up!

Los Angeles, CA (January 25, 2008) – Broccoli Books is extremely proud to announce that they have acquired the publishing rights and license for the extremely popular manga series sola by Chako Abeno and the video game-centric manga series Honoka Level Up! written by Akiyoshi Ohta and illustrated by MATSUDA98.

About sola
sola is a continuing series serialized through the monthly Japanese seinen manga Dengeki Daioh, which is published by MediaWorks.

Yorito is a high school student who likes to take photographs of the sky. A chance meeting introduces him to Matsuri, but she is no ordinary girl—it turns out that she’s actually a 350 year-old Yaka, an immortal being that cannot go out into the light! As such, Matsuri has been forced to live a life of solitude, and Yorito is the first friend she’s ever had. But there is much more to the Yaka than first meets the eye, and a sword-wielding man named Takeshi seems intent on harming Matsuri, but for what reason? Thrust into a supernatural battle, will Yorito have the courage to protect their friendship for Matsuri’s sake?

About Chako Abeno
Chako Abeno is a prolific illustrator and manga artist whose works include the manga in white Pure Story and My-Otome zwei.

About sola project
The manga sola is part of a huge mixed media venture known as sola project, which encompass manga, anime, drama CDs, music CDs, and internet radio shows. All of them are based off of the original story by Naoki Hisaya and character designs by Naru Nanao. Naoki Hisaya is most widely known for being the main writer for the highly successful visual novel Kanon while working under Key/Visual Art’s. Naru Nanao is a famous character designer whose works include the original character designs for the D.C. Da Capo visual novel by Circus and the female character design for the game series Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two by Minori.

The animated sola was well received in Japan, earning the best anime that aired in 2007 in a poll from the company Spider Networks. Over 2 million votes in Japan were tallied for sola to result in first place.

About Honoka Level Up!
Honoka Level Up! is serialized in the monthly magazine, Monthly Dengeki Comic Gao!

As a lonely girl who draws for fun, Honoka was just a regular student until the day her uncle, Ryuichi, hired her to work as a character designer at his newly created game company. Now thrust into a complex, corporate world, newcomer Honoka begins to learn the ins and outs of the video game industry: the politics involved, each person’s responsibilities, and how a game is put together. It’s a lot to take in, but one thing’s for sure—she’s going to step up her game if she wants to succeed, as putting together a video game is no easy task!

A realistic story about what it’s like to work for a video game company. Learn about the gaming industry through Honoka’s eyes.

About Akiyoshi Ohta
Akiyoshi Ohta is a superb writer for manga and video games. His experience working in the video game industry provides realistic situations in Honoka Level Up!. He has also worked on titles such as CLANNAD Anthology Novel 2 and We Are – Cruel Angels-.

About MATSUDA98
MATSUDA98 (Read as Matsuda Kyuu Hachi) is a manga artist, illustrator, and doujinshi creator. Her unique and cute art style has been used for the trading card game, Aquarian Age Saga II, and the Ragnarok online anthology comic. She also has multiple color magazine illustrations, novel covers, and other arts throughout the anime, manga, and game industry.

About Broccoli Books
Broccoli Books specializes in publishing Japanese comics, illustration books, and graphic novels. Broccoli Books is a division of Broccoli International USA. More information is available at http://www.broccolibooks.com.

Information About Other Broccoli International USA Divisions Can Be Found At:
Broccoli International USA, Inc. http://www.bro-usa.com (Corporate)
Synch-Point http://www.synch-point.com (Anime Production)
Broccoli Books http://www.broccolibooks.com (Manga Production)

Kamui Vol 9 by Shingo Nanami Manga Review

Title: Kamui Vol 9

Author: Shingo Nanami

Publisher: Broccoli Books

ISBN: 9781597410564

May Contain Spoilers

While Shiki and Sumire face off against Utsuho, Atsuma and Shui are in for a surprise.  Kojomaru has transformed into the super powerful pase kamui, and he’ll do anything to protect Okikurumi.  He  realized his true purpose, which is to help awaken Okikurumi,and he’s not going to let Atsuma get in the way.  And Yanagi, still reeling from Utsuho’s rejection, discovers the shocking truth about himself.

Once again, betrayal and unrequited love fill the melodramatic pages of Kamui.  Almost every character in this book is drawn to someone who couldn’t care if they were alive or dead.  Utsuho is like a roach motel – the love goes in, but it’s never coming back out again.  Sumire still can’t let go of her feelings for the charismatic man, and even Yanagi worships him from afar.  Yanagi is one of my least favorite characters, but I felt bad for him when his hero tramples all over his devotion.  Utsuho is such a heartless bastard!  He’s like a shark; he circles smoothly around his victim before pouncing mercilessly on his helpless prey.

Kojomaru’s transformation, while making him immensely powerful, also weakened him at the same time.  As he feels himself slipping away, he fears losing himself totally to his new form.  Despite his protests, he has grown fond of Atsuma.  It’s not just the contract that keeps them bound together, and for the brief moments when he regains control of himself, he’s afraid that he’ll be forced to kill him.  It was sad when even the normally emotionless Kojomaru started descending into despair. 

While some of the action scenes are difficult to follow because the artwork can be so cluttered, if you like sweeping stories that emphasize the most bleak of human emotions, Kamui is right up your alley.

Grade: B

Rated for 13+

Review copy provided by Broccoli Books

My Dearest Devil Princess Vol 1 by Makoto Matsumoto & Maika Netsu

Title:  My Dearest Devil Princess Vol 1

Authors: Makoto Matsumoto & Maika Netsu

Publisher:  Broccoli Books

ISBN:  9781597411455

May Contain Spoilers

When Keita buys a small ornamental box from his friend, he gets the surprise of his life!  The beautiful Maki, was trapped inside, and since he’s freed her, she’ll grant him three wishes.  There’s a little catch, however.  Maki’s a devil, and the price for having his wishes come true is his soul!  Are any wishes worth that?

I’m not a big fan of fan-servicy books, and I wasn’t overly impressed with this one.  How these nerdy guys end up with these bomb-shell, busty girls is beyond me.  Since I can’t really relate to the lead character, the stereo-typed shy, timid high school boy who would easily be beaten to a pulp by the nearest toddler, I am never drawn completely into the plot.  I thought the premise of this one was cute, but I’m not buying the execution.

Keita, the turnip headed hero, at least has some common sense.  Once he learns that the voluptuous girl who pops into his life is really a devil, he just can’t justify the price of having three wishes come true.  The devil, Maki, is a newbie at this sort of thing, and Keita’s lack of cooperation has her at a complete loss.  She is forced to turn to her trusty  demon reference book, unsure of how to secure Keita’s soul.  The book offers dubious solutions at best, and Maki is left floundering about, fearful that tragedy will befall Keita and she’ll lose his soul forever.

The story devices seemed a little stale.  When Maki starts to cry, Keita, ever the kind-hearted boy, wants her to stop crying, and before he can blink, poof!, he’s made his first wish and entered into a contract with the devil.  I think he was cheated, since he didn’t even wish for it; it was just something that he wanted, but I guess like the taxman, devils don’t play fair. 

Soon a gung-ho angel is hot on Maki’s heels, and Keita gets caught up in the crossfire.  Panty shots and cleavage ensue, and two of Keita’s classmates, the cunning Ryoko and the no-nonsense Hayami, are caught up in the struggle between good and evil.  Or is that the struggle to stay dressed?  Maki is presented with every opportunity to divest her clothes, with questionable comedic effect.  It’s all been done countless times before, so there’s nothing here that’s fresh and makes you wonder what’s going to happen next. 

Broccoli once again produces a nice looking book.  There’s a glossy, full-color interior page featuring an illustration of the angel, Sheeta, translation notes, and a glossary of Maki’s summon creatures.  There’s also a questionnaire redeemable for a My Dearest Devil Princess sticker. I have never mailed away for any of Broccoli’s give-aways, because I’m appalled at the thought of defiling a book by cutting out the last page.  For those of you lacking this character flaw, have you bothered to take the time to send off the questionnaire? 

My Dearest Devil Princess isn’t bad, but it’s not all that great, either.  It did keep me briefly entertained while stuck on a Detroit to Phoenix flight, but then I could hardly swap it out for another title while speeding across Colorado.

Grade:  C+

Rated for 16+

Review copy provided by Broccoli Books

Pet on Duty by Nase Yamato Manga Review

Title: Pet on Duty

Author: Nase Yamato

Publisher: Boysenberry

ISBN:  9781597410649

May Contain Spoilers

Mizuki has just lost his job due to it going bankrupt.  Not wanting to go home a failure and be a burden to his family, he instead opts to move in with his older brother, Koichi.  There’s a little catch, however – Koichi lives in a company dormitory, and outsiders are definitely not welcome!  Forced to live in secret, the other residents of the fourth floor treat Mizuki like a pet cat.  Well, all except for the scary, sullen Toru, who is always cold and indifferent to him.  Can Mizuki win over his brother’s handsome roommate?

Pet on Duty is a sweet read, which drifts over into the realm of cheesiness, but never loses its charm.  Mizuki is quiet and a little timid, and he just wants to be independent so he’s not a burden to anyone.  His older brother doesn’t have a lot of patience for his mopey attitude, though he does try his best to help the younger man when he finds himself in trouble.  He would really prefer that Mizuki go back home, because he believes that it is best for him, but Mizuki is stubborn, and he refuses to go home and grovel.  Because he’s so gentle and kind, people enjoy having him around, and he’s doing his family a huge disservice by not going back to them.

Koichi’s roommate is the dark, brooding Toru.  A workaholic, the salaryman doesn’t welcome the new distraction that’s just moved into their apartment.  Mizuki can’t help but be drawn to  him, and he goes out of his way to earn the other man’s regard.  Most of his efforts backfire, and Toru ends up even more impatient with him than before.  The two soon find some common ground, however, and all of the residents of the fourth floor watch with varying degrees of jealousy and amusement as the two begin to forge a close friendship.

Mizuki isn’t happy with just being Toru’s friend, and he longs for a closer relationship with him.  As Mizuki’s love for Toru deepens, he finds himself wanting to do more and more for him.  When they are alone, Toru is soft and gentle with him, but when the others are around, he’s stern and harsh.  Poor Mizuki is confused by these changes in attitude toward him, and he struggles to put them into perspective.  All the while, he’s trying desperately to land a new job so he can feel some self-worth again.

Populated with lots of diverse personalities, the residents of the dorm keep interfering with Mizuki’s attempts to get closer to Toru.  They all played off of each other well, and they delighted in picking on the reserved Toru.  Apart from the very silly premise of the book, the interaction between the characters is what made it a lot fun.  Even the stuffy fifth floor residents, with their suspicions that their co-workers are hiding a pet cat, added much of the humor to the story.  The chemistry between Mizuki and Toru was also cause for delight.

The illustrations work well with the story, though I found some of the panels a little on the cluttered side.  Mizuki is cute and kitty like, often sporting a pair of cat ears. Facial expressions are clear and easy to read.  I thought the story was pretty tame, until things became slightly spicier in the final chapter.  We’re talking the difference between mild chilies and poblano peppers here;  none of the action ever slides up to jalapeno on the heat scale.

Boysenberry delivers a solid product with Pet on Duty.  I appreciate the care they lavish on their books.  There’s a full color interior page featuring the characters in the book, as well as translation notes and a preview of Sex Friend.  The book is well put together, and seems very substantial.  I hate flimsy volumes that feel like they’ll fall apart after a few readings.

Grade:  B+

Rated for 18+

Review copy provided by Boysenberry Books

E’S Vol 4 by Satol Yuiga Manga Review

 

Buy it here

Title:  E’S Vol 4

Author: Satol Yuiga

Publisher:  Broccoli

ISBN: 9781597411219

May Contain Spoilers

Yuuki is contacted by the mysterious Maria, who asks him to hand over the psychic living in his house.  Yuuki is dismayed to learn that she means, not Kai, but Asuka.  Things get really tense when he learns that there’s a price on his head.  Kai, awakening underground, finds himself a prisoner of Ghibelline, a priest and the leader of the resistance.  He wants Kai to join their side, so he has his powers at his disposal.  Kai’s objections are momentarily silenced when he meets Raphael, one of several young telepaths working with Ghibelline.  What are Ghibelline’s plans for his young charges?

This volume of E’S was fast paced and tense, as both Yuuki and Kai find themselves in dire jams.  Yuuki’s search for the Sacrament has him researching the origins of Gald and Ashurum’s involvement with it.  All of his questions has earned him some unwanted attention.  In addition, Kai has up and disappeared, leaving behind a weepy Asuka.  Sometimes it’s hard to be a tough guy, what with your sister turning her sad, doe eyes on you.  Yuuki crumbles before her onslaught, putty in her hands.  While searching for answers, Yuuki turns out to be a little too trusting for his own good, and now he’s got more trouble than he can handle. 

Kai, after teleporting from Yuuki’s, ends up underground, a captive of Ghibelline’s.  While attempting to escape, he is led, telepathically, to a room where young psychics are being held in cages.  He’s bewildered when he discovers that they are willing captives serving the resistance.  When one of them is grievously wounded, Kai’s efforts to have him treated fall on indifferent ears.  The reaction of Ghibelline’s fighters to Kai’s desperate quest for help really underscored the distance between the psychics and the normal humans. 

Just when I was starting to get really involved in the story, this volume came to an abrupt end.  Half of the book is comprised of a short story, “Prelude to Destruction,” a preview that Satol Yuiga wrote prior to beginning work on E’S.  She was asked to draw it to highlight the atmosphere of the E’S world.  I thought it much darker and gloomier, and the characters’ personalities reflected the world around them.  This Kai has none of the softness of the other.  He believes that his sister is being held captive by a government organization, and he doesn’t hesitate to use brutal methods to get her back.  I liked this harsh, unyielding version and hope that some of these traits will carry over into the longer work.

The pieces of E’S are slowly starting to come together, and I found myself wondering how Ghibelline plans to exploit his young troops.  What is the tournament that was so briefly mentioned?  The volume left Asuka and Maria in a bind, too, and I felt a little cheated when everything came to a jarring halt.  The momentum was starting to carry the story into exciting territory, but now we’ll have to wait until the next volume to see how it pans out.

Grade: B-

Rated for 16+

Kamui Vol 8 by Shingo Nanami Manga Review

Buy it here

Title: Kamui Vol 8

Author:  Shingo Nanami

Publisher:  Broccoli Books

ISBN:  9781597410557

May Contain Spoilers

With his newly discovered powers, Atsuma hopes that he’ll be able to save the world from destruction.  While he heads off towards Okikurumi, Shiki, Sumire and Kojomaru go in search of Utsuho.  Atsuma finds assistance from a lost comrade, while Sumire struggles to contain her feelings for Utsuho.  Both Atsuma and Sumire are finally facing their greatest challenges, but will they have the strength to overcome them?

Atsuma, after a lifetime of keeping his emotional distance from others, finally understands the joy and heartache of getting close to people.  Determined to save Anzu and salvage as much of NOA as possible, he’s willing to trade his life for Anzu’s.  Not even Shui can dissuade him from using his power to put an end to the threat of Okikurumi.  With the choice open to him, use his power and die, or do nothing and watch the base-kamui destroy the world, he doesn’t really have many options.  Now that he’s experienced the first true friendships he’s ever had, he feels alive, and he’s determined to repay his friends by trading his life for theirs.

Sumire is, as usual, weak, weak, weak when she finally confronts Utsuho.  She’s still torn by her feelings for him.  Even with Kojomaru to back her up, she still can’t master her riotous emotions.  When she does gather the resolve to strike Utsuho down, she learns a horrible truth.  Kojomaru can’t hurt him.  Now it’s Kojomaru’s turn to writhe in confusion, as he is faced with his conflicting choices.  Does he protect Okikurumi, or Atsuma?  His only purpose was supposed to be defending Okikurumi and returning with it to the village, but along the way, he, too, has fallen victim to his feelings.  Can he stand by and do nothing while Atsuma tries to destroy Okikurumi?

Kamui continues to be the drama queen of manga, boldly dredging up a gamut of emotional turmoil.  The characters passionately articulate their deepest emotions while struggling to master the conflicts raging inside them.  Tortured expressions are captured on beautiful, chiseled features, as the characters are hurtled ever closer to their fates.  All of this is attractively packaged, with a full-color interior page and a tantalizing preview of the next volume.

Grade: B+

Rated for 13+

Review copy provided by Broccoli Books

Kamui Vol 7 by Shingo Nanami Manga Review

 

Buy it here

Title:  Kamui Vol 7

Author:  Shingo Nanami

Publisher:  Broccoli Books

ISBN:  9781597410540

May Contain Spoilers

With NOA destroyed, its members used to feed Okikurumi, Atsuma still finds himself drawn to the only place he has ever felt at home.  He mysteriously possesses the power to absorb kamui and tohsu into himself, and he has given Hyde, Shui, and Aika back to themselves after they were consumed by Okikurumi.  Atsuma is haunted by memories of Anzu, the first person able to break through his defenses and become his friend, and he’s determined to save her from Okikurumi. Will he be able to battle his way past Shiki to save his friend?

The seventh installment continues along the same vein as previous volumes, offering plenty of emotion-wrenching interaction between the characters.  Aika’s reunion with Sumire certainly wasn’t heartwarming.  Instead of welcoming her devoted follower with open arms,  Sumire steals a few tricks from Utsuho and  coldly casts Aika away.  The relationships in this series are so sad and pathetic; no one can see beyond their own narrow scope of vision.  They’re all so selfish and greedy, it’s no wonder that everyone’s so self-destructive.

Atsuma has proven that the Elders were wrong about him.  He may not have tohsu, but it appears that he can absorb others’ tohsu, and even kamui, into himself.  The members of NOA all received their power from Okikurumi, so they are powerless against it.  Atsuma, however, possesses pure blood, and now Utsuho muses that he may be able to absorb even Okikurumi into himself.  There’s a terrible price to be paid with his power, as the absorbed kamui acts like an infection, and if he continues to use his abilities, he will be overcome and die.  Oh! More drama!

The art continues to delight, and the oh, so emotional characters have got me hooked.  I love Broccoli’s presentation of this book, from the colorful cover to the sturdy pages that beg to be read over and over. Most especially, thanks for the full color page inserted in the front.

Grade: B+

Rated for 13+

Review copy provided by Broccoli Books.