But, I’m Your Teacher by Row Takakura Manga Review

Buy it here

Title:  …but, I’m Your Teacher

Author:  Row Takakura

Publisher:  Kitty Media

ISBN:  1586558056

May Contain Spoilers

but, I’m Your Teacher is a yaoi anthology.  There are two chapters featuring shy substitute teacher Yahiro and his sexy student, Koga.  Yahiro initially attempts to resist Koga’s charms, but he is soon head over heels for his student.  He agonizes over their relationship, knowing that it’s wrong, but unable to break it off with the younger man. 

Overall, the book was entertaining, with stories that featured likable characters.  I enjoyed Honey Happy Baby, about Tomoya, who gets stuck babysitting his niece while his sister is out of town.  He and his new boyfriend, Tsukasa,  are soon caught up taking care of the baby.  I enjoyed this one because their relationship deepened during their childcare adventures.

Bloom was about Nozomu and his new step-brother, Sudou.  Handsome Sudou is the most admired guy in school, and he thinks Nozomu is adorable.  As the two get to know each other, their friendship begins to deepen into love.  It was a light-hearted, fluffy story.

I wish the last chapter had not been included in the book.  The View Through the Lens was about a sex offender who now gets his jollies photographing young men.  Ick, ick, ick! 

Grade:  C+

Rated for 18+

Mar #1 by Nobuyuki Anzai Manga Review

Buy it here

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

VS Versus #1 by Keiko Yamada Manga Review

Buy it here

Title:  VS Versus #1

Author:  Keiko Yamada

Publisher:  CMX

ISBN:  1401210686

May Contain Spoilers

Reiji is a gifted violinist who’s trying to escape an abusive past.  He only plays the violin to make his little sister smile, and to save her from the clutches of their cruel father.  He’s been chosen to represent his school at the national music contest for the 3rd time, and to prevent the embarrassment of his previous efforts, a new teacher has been hired for him.  Hane Mistuko was a prodigy until an accident robbed her of her music career.  Now she’s determined to help Reiji win in spite of himself.

Despite having a thoroughly unlikable main character, I’m intrigued by the premise of this story.  The scenes of Miruka’s abuse were disturbing, especially as her mother ignores her youngest child’s pleas for help.  As Reiji seeks the courage and the means to protect Miruka, he sees his violin as a weapon, a sword that will save his sister.  However, with his own dysfunctional upbringing, he lacks the emotions to pour into his music and truly move his audience, rendering his violin ineffective.

Mistuko is determined to teach Reiji how to make music that is filled with feeling.  As he changes the arrangement of the assigned song, she castigates him, accusing him of lacking the talent to play the music the way the composer envisioned it.  It’s a flaw in his personality, and if he hopes to win, he must find a way to make the audience feel the heart of the piece.  As he struggles to understand the music, he rejects Mistuko’s offer of assistance.  He refuses to fulfill her dream even as he is swept away by her playing.

The art isn’t bad, though at times the backgrounds are cluttered, and it’s hard to determine what is going on.  Reiji often looks as though someone is holding a small turd under his nose, but that might just be because I don’t really like his character.

I ordered the next two volumes, but only because I was able to find them at a 40% discount.  While I am interested enough in the series to read further, I would have had second thoughts at ten bucks each volume.  I’m hoping that Reiji will begin to change, and become a more likable person.

Grade:  B

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

The Day of Revolution #2 by Mikiyo Tsuda Manga Review

Title:  The Day of Revolution #2

Author:  Mikiyo Tsuda

Publisher:  Digital Manga

ISBN:  1569708894

May Contain Spoilers

Since learning that he’s really a she, Kei has decided to live life as a girl.  Re-emerging as Megumi, she’s now the most popular girl in school!  With a flock of suitors on her tail, can she fight off their unwelcome attentions and find the guy that’s right for her?

This was such a cute book!  Megumi, terrified of boys after the incident with Nakagawa in the previous volume, latches onto Makoto’s little brother, Mikoto.  A junior high student, he’s short and feminine, and reminds Megumi of herself.  She feels safe with him, unlike the threatened way she feels around her four former friends, who have all declared their love for her.  When the four confront Mikoto, Megumi denies that she has romantic feelings for him; or does she?

In the first volume of the series, Kei/Megumi made the difficult decision to live life as a girl.  However, she was uneasy with the choice, and still acted more masculine than feminine.  In this volume, Megumi finally begins to start thinking and acting like a girl.  As the story progressed, she became more girly, both in looks and in her actions.  She now feels flustered around boys, and even feels intimidated by her former best friends.

This was a funny, light-hearted read, with nice, clean art and likeable characters.  As Mikiyo Tsuda began to feel more comfortable with her characters, the storytelling became more animated and engaging.  There’s no world saving heroics or international conspiracies; this is just the story of a girl, who used to be a boy, and how she learns to accept herself.  And sometimes, that’s all you need.

Grade: A

Rated for 16+

Time Lag by Gothoh & Odagiri Manga Review

Title: Time Lag

Author:  Shinobu Gothoh & Hotaru Odagiri

Publisher:  June

ISBN:  1569709211

May Contain Spoilers

Satoru Tendou  loves Shirou, and every year for the last two years, he has confessed his hopeless love to him right before school break.  Shirou coldly rebuffed him each time, and Satoru is bewildered by how cruelly Shirou now treats him.  At one time they were best friends, until Satoru, confused by his feelings, put some distance between them.  When a letter arrives from Shirou that was mailed 3 years before, Satoru suddenly understands how Shirou feels. Is it too late to mend their friendship?

This was a sweet, angsty read.  Satoru’s confusion about how he feels for Shirou causes a chasm between them, and when he finally musters the courage to confess his love for his childhood friend, Shirou accuses him of playing a cruel joke on him.  Since his best friend has abandoned him, something that happened, Satoru admits, because of himself, he can only sigh longingly after him. 

Shirou is a track star at their high school, and Satoru follows him with his camera, putting his heart into snapping pictures of the athlete for the school paper.  Lovingly framing each shot, it’s obvious to everyone that Satoru harbors feelings for Shirou.

Into the scene walks handsome Seiichi, editor-in-chief of the school newspaper.  Seiichi chastises Satoru for still carrying a flame for the frosty Shirou.  To further complicate Satoru’s life, he has a confession of his own – he’s in love with Satoru!

At first I wanted to slap Satoru for still having feelings for the awful Shirou, but after belated letter arrives, the reason for his hard words and uncaring attitude is revealed.  Satoru agonizes through the entire book, first because he believes that Seiichi and Shirou are attracted to each other, and then because he finally understands Shirou’s reaction, but he doesn’t know how to approach his former friend. 

I liked the art in the book.  The characters were all very attractive (of course), and despite the occasional emotional muddle, the story is visually  easy to follow.  There are lots of close-ups of our characters, burning with embarrassment or dazed with confusion.

In terms of hot boy on boy action, there is none.  Our couple does little more than share a tender kiss.  If you’re hoping for a little skin to be revealed, you’re doomed to disappointment.  If you are in the mood for a sweet romance, this might fit the bill.

Grade: B 

Rated for 16+

The State of Chinese Comic Industry

Here’s an interesting article from Comipress about the state of the Chinese manga magazine industry.  Hopefully they will reanalyze the market and come up with a winning formula.  However, if the average person only owns 2.5 magazines, I think they have a bigger hurdle to overcome.  If there’s no support for the format itself, how will they ever create a successful market?

2.5?  Per person?  That figure really surprises me.  Between all of the comic, video game, and horse magazines that end up in my mailbox, I probably receive 3 or 4 a week!