Qwan #2 by Aki Shimizu Manga Review

Title: Qwan #2

Author: Aki Shimizu

Publisher: TOKYOPOP

ISBN:  1595325352

Qwan is searching for the Essential Arts of Peace scroll, which will supposedly reveal his true identity and purpose.  Said to be hidden in the Imperial Palace, Qwan and his new friend, Aman, set off to find the scroll.  Attacked by Daki’s insect demons, Qwan agrees to not eat Seishugaku if they help him find the scroll before Yuushi.  Yuushi has some tricks up his sleeve, and sends Daki’s mother, the Serpent Princess, to delay the party while he attempts to steal the scroll first.  Qwan is seriously wounded in the ensuing fight; will he survive to discover the truth about himself?

I enjoyed this volume much better than the last.  It seemed to flow better, and maybe I became more involved in the storyline and actually became interested in Qwan’s true identity.  We were given some of Daki’s history, and it made her a more intriguing character.  Yuushi is just plain evil, and I’m looking forward to his defeat.  The wasps were pretty cool, but they both really need to do something about their hair.

Grade: B+

Steady Beat #1 by Rivkah Manga Review

Title: Steady Beat #1

Author: Rivkah

Publisher: TOKYOPOP

ISBN:  1598161350

Leah is your typical high school student; she plays on the soccer team, doesn’t get along with her mother, and feels that she doesn’t measure up to her older sister’s success.  When she finds a love letter addressed to her sister, Sarai, she’s shocked to see it’s from another girl.  Is her sister gay?  Leah finds her life turned upside down as she seeks the answer to this question.

Wow!  I really enjoyed this book!  I never would have picked it up if it wasn’t for the TOKYOPOP sale at TRSI.  My only gripe is that a fair amount of this volume was taken up by sketchbook and a preview for another TP title.  I wanted more story!

Leah’s quest to discover her sister’s “secret” puts her in a rough spot, as she has a run-in with a homeless man that nearly gets her killed.  This incident brings Elijah into the picture, as his obviously gay stepdad saves her and brings her home like a stray pet.  Leah is clueless when attempting to sort out the relationship between Elijah’s dads, which makes me worry that she’ll never figure out the truth about her sister’s relationship with the mysterious Jessica.

I am looking forward to learning more about Elijah.  He came across as sweet and sexy, with a sense of humor and good-natured resignation to his current parental situation.  His concern for Leah was endearing, especially when he very casually asks if they should stop by the police station after their trip to the hospital.

The art is very clean and crisp, and there was a nice range of facial expressions.  The page layouts had a lot of variety, including some good use of black backgrounds.

Grade: A

Youma Con Impressions

 

Yesterday was Youma Con in Troy, Michigan.  I decided to brave the hour and fifteen minute drive to check it out.  On the way, I met up with my parents for breakfast.  It’s always a good idea to start con days with a healthy breakfast!

Michael actually got up early to meet us for breakfast, and then we headed over to the con.  I hadn’t been in the Hilton before, but it seemed an adequate facility for the convention.  I have only a few complaints about the hotel itself; the lobby was way too small for all the posing co-players, as was the balcony on the 2nd floor.  The "photoshoots" for specific series were held on the balcony, and there just wasn’t enough room there!  The problem with holding a con in November in Michigan is the stupid weather.  Though it had warmed up quite a bit from earlier in the week, it was still a little chilly for costumed con-goers to be comfortable standing outside so total geeks like myself could photograph them.

 

Upon entering the hotel at a little after 9 am, what was the first thing that attracted my attention??  The arcade!  This is always the case at cons, and it drives Dean nuts.  He will suffer many activities that aren’t his "thing", but he draws the line at watching me play DDR.  Good thing he wasn’t invited to this convention!  I think Michael got a little tired of being in the arcade, too, as he left around 2. 

After touring the arcade, I discovered that the games were on freeplay, and then I really wanted to  get registered so I could make a fool of myself for free before the dealer room opened.  The registration process was a breeze, in part because there was no line yet.  Later in the day, it looked like there was line, but it always seemed organized.  Nothing like Comicon International, where even pre-registered guests have to wait in hours long lines.  Of course, this con is what I consider a baby con – it’s still pretty small compared to A-Cen, even, so they still have lots of time to mess things up.

After a few rounds of ITG (not a good idea on a full stomach!), we headed back to the dealer room.  Bryce, Mara, and Erik (in costume) had arrived by then.  The dealer room was a bit of a joke.  There were maybe 8 vendors in too small an area for all the people trying to stuff themselves into the room.  As is typical, the prices were sky high, and better deals could be easily found on-line.  I did break down and purchase 2  Bleach cell phone dangles, but at 20% off, the manga wasn’t much of a deal. There are a couple of yaoi titles that I would have purchased, but yaoi was woefully absent from the tables.  I asked if they were hiding it somewhere, and you’d think I was asking for something illicit.  Sheesh.  I didn’t even look at the DVDs because they are so much cheaper on-line.

We went back to the arcade, which still wasn’t very busy, and played more ITG. I never was able to try DDR SuperNova, because there was always a rather long line for it.  Since I like ITG, I just decided that standing in lines was out for the day.  Then we people watched, which was very entertaining. Then it was on to the music video screenings.

I’m impressed with how good AMVs have gotten over the years.  They only showed the winners on Saturday, and I was disappointed that I missed seeing some of the other entries.  I can sit for hours just watching AMVs!  It’s a good thing I don’t mind sitting by myself, as most people quickly get bored of this endeavor.

A large percentage of con goers were in costume.  There were some really fantastic ones, like Ed and Al from FMA, and Tousen from Bleach.  One of my favorite con pastimes is to find a place to sit that’s out of the traffic zone, and just watch the co-players.  I keep thinking it would be so much fun to co-play, but the effort required to prepare a good costume is too daunting for me.  Instead, I’m content to sit back and watch the fruits of every one else’s labors.

We took a break at 2 to grab some lunch.  Nobana is down the street, and I was surprised to learn that it’s owned by Noble Fish/One World Market.  I was all excited to get some sushi, but as I was ordering, I saw that they have shrimp tempura curry.  So much for the sushi.  There aren’t any Japanese restuarants on my side of town that have curry, so I had to try it.  It was really good, and the portion was more than adequate.  I couldn’t finish it. 

Back to the con for more people watching.  I didn’t stay much longer, as I had a long drive home, and still had some errands to run on the way home.

Overall, I was surprised by how many attendees there were.  I hope that the con releases the attendance numbers.  Things seemed a little crowded at the hotel, so I think they might have to start searching for another venue if they continue holding the convention.  The registration area needs to be moved to a separate room; it was difficult trying to squeeze by the line to get to the dealer room, the main panel room and artist alley.  The dealer room was a joke; they really need to expand the area and get more dealers to set up shop.  When I go to a convention, my top priority is hitting the dealer room and searching for character goods for whatever happens to be my favorite series at the time.  I was extremely disappointed with the skimpy pickings available.  I have been spoiled by the larger cons, and everything less just pales in comparison.  Still, this was a worthy effort.