Mr Flower Bride by Lily Hoshino Manga Review

Title: Mr Flower Bride

Author: Lily Hoshino

Publisher: Yen Press

ISBN: 9780759529496

May Contain Spoilers

Shinji Souda is dismayed to learn that his bride-to-be is classmate Aoi Uno.  Due to family tradition, he is forced to marry a boy because his eldest brother’s first child is a son.  Shinji’s not happy, and he can’t understand why everyone else seems to think the arrangement is normal.  Is he the only one who has a problem with him marrying a guy?

Mr Flower Bride is one of of those light, fluffy BL titles that provides a momentary distraction, but, like eating ice cream for dinner, there’s no depth and you’ll soon be ready for another meatier title.  The characters are one dimensional, and even though the chapters feature different couples, they are all fairly generic and interchangeable.  I breezed right through this book, and though I enjoyed it’s brain-candy qualities, it is ultimately forgettable.

Shinji and Aoi get a lion’s share of the chapters.  Shinji doesn’t like the idea of having to marry a boy, but being an obedient son, he does what his family expects of him.  At least they found a pretty boy for him, and Aoi looks so much like a girl that even Shinji couldn’t complain too loudly.  The whole concept of the family tradition dictating that younger sons marry boys is ridiculous, but you have to hand it to the Souda family for being so forward thinking as to encourage same-sex unions. So what if the tradition makes no sense and causes barely a ripple of discord.  Shinji quickly overcomes his protests over his marriage to Aoi, and the lack of any real conflict consigns everything to the realm of hum-drum.

The remainder of the short stories maintain the status quo, and by the last page, I had already forgotten much of the book.  Bland characters and bland settings lead to a bland reading experience.  The art, though pleasant, is much like the plot in that it doesn’t dazzle or leave a lasting impression.  I highly recommend checking this out at the library over making a purchase.  $12.99 is a steep price to pay for the enjoyment gained from reading Mr Flower Bride.

Grade: C+

Dorothea Vol 2 by Cuvie Manga Review

Title: Dorothea Vol 2

Author: Cuvie

Publisher:  CMX

ISBN:  9781401214364

May Contain Spoilers

Dorothea and Orfina are published by CMX, and I sometimes have a hard time keeping the two straight.   Both feature strong female leads who are forced to fight for what they believe in, and they both feature medieval type settings.  Fana and Dorothea are skilled warriors, they don’t hesitate to put their lives on the line, and they live in fairly grim surroundings.   I think that it is unfortunate that both of these titles were published at around the same time, because the look and feel of the series are a little too similar, and as a result, neither stands out.  When push comes to shove, I think that Orfina is the more compelling of the two, though Dorothea does offer an interesting read.

The world that Dorothea lives in is not a happy place.  Religious factions clash and ruthless individuals grapple for power and wealth.   Commoners bear the brunt of the conflict, and they are forced to fight to protect their lands and their beliefs.  The warfare lays waste to fields and towns, leaving battlegrounds littered with the corpses of the dead.  Dorothea ventures into this madness, where she’s in for a very rude awakening.  In the heat of battle, her comrades are just as villainous as the enemy, and it’s a bitter pill to swallow. 

Through the eyes of an idealistic young woman,  the horrors of war of seem even more gruesome.  Dorothea has lived a sheltered life, and she’s even been pampered as her grandmother has groomed her to become the leader of her people in her stead.  Dorothea thinks that she’s one of the good guys, but what she discovers is that that all depends on what side of the conflict you happen to be standing on.  She’s not defending the helpless and promoting peace; she’s caught up in a bloody free for all, where anyone, and anything, is fair game.  In addition to having to defend herself from her brothers in arms because of her looks, she also has to deal with her own guilt when she sees how her comrades prey upon helpless citizens after devastating their villages.

The scenes of battle are toned down and not very graphic, which is surprising considering the Mature rating on the book.  So far there hasn’t been much to nudge it past a T for Teen; it’s certainly nothing like Berserk, the king of violent fantasy adventures.  Dorothea’s struggles to overcome the bias of her wraithlike appearance adds another layer of complexity to her venturing away from the safe, sheltered confines of Nauders.  People are all too eager to accuse her of witchcraft, and in Dorothea’s little corner of the universe, the mere suspicion is enough to get her burned painfully at the stake. 

Dorothea offers a look at the toll that war takes on everyday people.  They just want to live their lives peacefully, but the conflicts surrounding them makes that impossible.  The flow of action takes a backseat to the flow of emotions, where people and their beliefs clash tragically together.  I wonder if Dorothea will remain as optimistic that she is making a positive change in future volumes.

Grade: B

[PR] DEL REY MANGA AND NICKELODEON/VIACOM ANNOUNCE NEW AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER AND THE LAST AIRBENDER MANGA RELEASES

DEL REY MANGA AND NICKELODEON/VIACOM CONSUMER PRODUCTS

ANNOUNCE NEW AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER AND THE LAST AIRBENDER MANGA RELEASES

SAN DIEGO, CA – July 25, 2009 – Del Rey Manga, an imprint of Ballantine Books at the Random House Publishing Group and Nickelodeon/Viacom Consumer Products (NVCP) announced at Comic-Con International in San Diego, four new manga style releases – an artistic and storytelling stylized comic book  set in black and white. Based on Nickelodeon’s international hit animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender and the upcoming feature film release “The Last Airbender,” directed by M. Night Shyamalan, this partnership marks the first manga tie-in for Nickelodeon. 

The two original black-and-white manga will be written by Dave Roman (Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden, Agnes Quill). The prequel manga, scheduled for publication in April 2009, will be illustrated by Nina Matsumoto (Yokaiden) and the movie adaptation, to be published in June 2010, will be illustrated by Joon Choi (This is Pop).

“We’re excited to partner with Del Rey on these upcoming manga releases,” said Paula Allen, SVP of Nickelodeon Global Publishing. “Recreating and adapting the layered storylines and incredible, animated martial arts of the Avatar series and upcoming feature film in the manga style will allow fans to experience their favorite moment from the show over and over again.”

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[PR] DEL REY TO PUBLISH PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL

DEL REY TO PUBLISH PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES:

THE GRAPHIC NOVEL, BASED ON THE BESTSELLING BOOK


Del Rey Books will publish PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL, based on the New York Times bestselling book by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. One of the biggest pop culture sensations of this year, the critically acclaimed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, originally published by Quirk Books, takes Jane Austen’s classic novel and brings it to gory, new life with zombie mayhem.

Del Rey editor Tricia Narwani says, “Not only is it exciting for Del Rey to be a part of this year’s most remarkable publishing phenomenon, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL is just flat-out one of the coolest books on our list ever.”

The graphic novel will be adapted by Tony Lee, a writer for over twenty years in television, radio and magazines. For the last six years Tony has worked extensively in comics, writing for such licenses as X-Men, Spider Man, Starship Troopers, Wallace & Gromit, Shrek and Doctor Who. His critically acclaimed graphic novel Outlaw: The Legend Of Robin Hood has been announced as a Junior Library Guild Selection for 2009.

Cliff Richards, a veteran artist best known for his five-year run on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics series, will illustrate the graphic novel. He has also worked on several projects for other comics publishers, including Birds of Prey, the Huntress: Year One mini-series, and Wonder Woman for DC Comics, and Rogue and New Thunderbolts for Marvel Comics.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL will be published in January 2010. Del Rey director of licensing and acquisitions Mutsumi Miyazaki facilitated the deal with Marsha Armitage-Bristow, EVP of licensing at Dimensional Branding Group (www.dimensionalbranding.com) and Jessica Schmidt, director of sales at Quirk Books. Graphic novel rights queries to Rachel Kind: rkind@randomhouse.com.

Crimson Hero Vol 10 by Mitsuba Takanashi Manga Review

Title: Crimson Hero Vol 10

Author: Mitsuba Takanashi

Publisher: Viz

ISBN:  9781421523637

May Contain Spoilers

Now that Nobara knows how Yushin feels about her, she can concentrate on volley ball again.  Since they are keeping the fact that they are a couple under wraps until after the Spring Tournament is over, she has something to work towards.  Nobara wants to win, so she can claim a double victory.  Why, then, does she feel flustered every time Haibuki speaks to her?  Doesn’t she love Yushin?

Aw, why does Mitsuba Takanashi have to go and put a little niggling of doubt into Nobara’s heart?  After all of the effort that she put into winning over Yushin, even making a fool of herself by publically declaring how she felt about him?  Now she’s getting confused whenever Haibuki is around.  He’s the guy who would have treated her like a princess, but she bluntly pushed him away.  I like Haibuki, at least when he’s not being an arrogant jerk and trying to steal kisses from Nobara.  One of the conventions that can be so frustrating about shoujo series is the yo-yo effect as the heroine is torn between two really hot guys.  Just pick one!  Don’t be greedy and go after all of the cute guys!

Nobara also learns a lesson in teamwork.  Again.  When a team doesn’t play as a cohesive unit, they are not as strong as when everyone is on the same page.  Volley ball is a team sport, but when players are out only for their own personal glory,  team dynamics are compromised.  When an entire team is made up of glory hounds who fight to be starting players, they are a fundamentally weaker unit.  Nobara witnesses a practice session of their upcoming opponents, and she’s appalled.  The spirit of team unity doesn’t exist with them, and when players are willing to injury their teammates, Nobara vows that Crimson Field will never lose to the likes of them.  Too bad the team, Aiyu Gakuin, has made it to the semi-finals ten years running! 

Crimson Hero isn’t as fun as Prince of Tennis, but that’s probably because there aren’t as many hot guys.  The series does suffer from some uneven pacing, but overall, it’s a pretty solid title. Like the volley ball, emotions are batted about, usually with some very entertaining results.

Grade: B-

Review copy provided by Viz

[PR] VIZ MEDIA PREVIEWS THREE EXCITING MANGA SERIES!

VIZ MEDIA PREVIEWS THREE EXCITING MANGA SERIES TO BE PUBLISHED UNDER THE NEW

SHONEN SUNDAY IMPRINT  AT THE 2009 COMIC-CON SHOW

New Manga Chapters From Each Series Will Be Previewed For Free On The Official SHONEN SUNDAY Website With Print Versions Scheduled To Be Published In 2010

San Francisco, CA, JULY 28, 2009 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry’s most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, previewed three upcoming manga titles to be published under the company’s newest imprint – SHONEN SUNDAY – for a packed audience at its Anime & Manga panel discussion at the recent 2009 Comic-Con International show in San Diego, CA.

The new manga series will debut in 2010 and will include ARATA: THE LEGEND by renowned manga creator Yuu Watase, MAOH: JUVENILE REMIX based on the original story by Kotaro Isaka with story and art by Megumi Osuga, and HYDE & CLOSER by Haro Aso. Every month, the official SHONEN SUNDAY website at www.ShonenSunday.com will present a new chapter from each of the three new titles online for free, as well as post a new chapter from the ongoing action/fantasy adventure KEKKAISHI by Yellow Tanabe (rated ‘T’ for Teens; published domestically by VIZ Media).

The new manga line-up will complement the current online serialization of another SHONEN SUNDAY series, RIN-NE, which is now available at www.TheRumicWorld.com, the official North American website for all Rumiko Takahashi news. RIN-NE is the first SHONEN SUNDAY manga series to be published simultaneously in Japan and North America, and the graphic novels will go on sale nationwide on October 20, 2009.

“The expansion of our new SHONEN SUNDAY imprint and website with these new titles give manga fans a lot to be excited about,” says Shie Lundberg, Sr. Director, Strategy and Business Development. “The official SHONEN SUNDAY website is a comprehensive destination for new manga chapters, featured previews, trailers, downloadable wallpapers, news, creator interviews and more. We invite fans to visit the site regularly for free updates and keep an eye out for the debut of these acclaimed new series in 2010.”

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B.O.D.Y. Vol 1 by Ao Mimori Manga Review

Title: B.O.D.Y. Vol 1

Author: Ao Mimori

Publisher: Viz

ISBN: 9781421518022

May Contain Spoilers

Here is another title that I tried a number of times to read, but just didn’t connect enough with the story to finish.  I finally sat down and made myself give it another chance.  Though a little generic, I enjoyed the book this time around. 

Ryoko has been admiring Ryunosuke from afar, and none of her friends can understand why.  His sense of fashion is questionable, he’s unapproachable, and he hardly ever talks.  Ryoko likes his quiet demeanor, thinking that it must mean that he takes his studies seriously.  A chance encounter after school shows her how wrong she is about him, and she learns that Ryu works at a host club.  Her illusions may be shattered, but she can’t stop herself from being attracted to him.  Will she fall for his flirting, or will she be able to resist when he turns on the charm?

I think the biggest barrier for me to overcome was Ryoko’s personality.  She is one of those hum-drum, quiet girls who daydreams about finding Mr Right, but in reality, all she turns up are frogs.  Ryunosuke seems perfect to her; he’s quiet, his book bag is filled to the brim with books, and he wears glasses.  Whoa, boy.  Those are all of the qualities I look for when I’m scoping out a new boyfriend.  In Ryoko’s mind, this makes him very serious about his schoolwork, so she thinks he has a bright future ahead of him.

The reality is that Ryu is a popular employee at a host club, and his out of school persona is radically different from the image he portrays at school.  He is like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.  At school he is quiet and keeps a low profile, but once the final bell rings, he’s Mr Studly.  Older women love him and he’s raking in the cash keeping them happy.  When Ryoko discovers his secret, she is disappointed that her dream man isn’t as noble as her imagination has made him.  When he starts playing mind games with her, her whole life gets turned upside down.

The element that set this story apart is how much of a jerk Ryunosuke can be.  He loves to tease and taunt Ryoko, and he is constantly keeping her off  balance.  He feeds off of her compassionate nature, manipulating her emotions and pushing all of her buttons.  All he’s looking for is a reaction from her, any reaction, and he’ll stoop to some very low levels to get her attention.  Ryoko doesn’t come across as very bright, because she keeps falling for his lines over and over again.  You would hope that after he has tricked her two times, she would stop taking his verbal bait.

The story at this point isn’t very romantic, and I can’t help but feel some sympathy for Ryoko.  She has let Ryu consume her every thought, and she is clearly no match for this guy.  He plays her like a fool.  Being his girlfriend would be traumatic at this stage of the game because she can’t defend herself against his teasing.  Ryoko couldn’t tell when he was being straight with her, and neither could I.  There are glimpses of a kind, decent guy hidden under that mocking exterior, but they are almost instantly covered back up again. I am hoping that Ryu has an interested background story that has shaped his personality, and will stick with the series for a few more volumes until I learn why he is a little warped.  Poor Ryoko – she has no clue how to deal with this guy!

Grade: B

Review copy provided by Viz

Pluto Vol 001 by Urasawa x Tezuka Manga Review

Title: Pluto Vol 001

Author: Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Publisher:  Viz

ISBN: 9781421519180

May Contain Spoilers

Wow.  This is another title that I have let linger in the TBR pile.  I didn’t find the cover, with the glowering Gesicht, all that appealing.   After reading the first volume, I have to admit, the poor guy has a lot to frown about.  Pluto is stylish and intelligent, and once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it back down.

Gesicht is a detective, and he’s also a robot.  You can’t tell at first glance, because for all outward appearances, he looks completely human.  He is top of the line AI, and he’s working on two tough cases.  In the first, a robot sympathizer has been brutally murdered, and in the other, Mont Blanc, a robot loved by millions, has been savagely torn apart.  As Gesicht negotiates a puzzling course of contradictions, he also has to grapple with what it means to be human.  When he becomes a target, there’s an added sense of urgency to his cases.  Will he be able to solve them before he becomes the next victim of murder?

This introductory volume caught me hook, line, and sinker.  It addresses some very meaty questions, like what it means to be human, and it has fashioned complex characters who breath life into the question.  Gesicht comes across as glum and dour, but as the pages progress, it’s obvious that he has the same tangled emotions that we all do.  He’s stressed about his job, he doesn’t spend enough time with his wife and he feels guilty because of this shortcoming.  He has dreams, he has concerns, and he has hopes for the future.  Despite sporting a gruff, unapproachable countenance, I really like this guy.

As Gesicht moves forward with his investigation, he is met with both prejudice and admiration.  Many people can’t see past the fact that he’s a robot.  They think that he is less than they are, that he doesn’t suffer from the same anxieties that they do.  Character interactions drive the story, and it is chock full of great personalities.  Everyone found within the pages, robot or human, has a distinct, believable personality that pushes them into action. 

The art is phenomenal. Every panel vibrates with emotion, and painstakingly detailed illustrations set places and moods as Gesicht moves forward with his investigation.  From a raging forest fire to the dark, dank depths of an artificial intelligence correctional facility, you never wonder about the settings, but instead feel how menacing – or somber – some of the places can be.  The art alone makes this worthy of a second, and even third, glance.

Pluto provides a suspenseful, tense read, with believable characters and a deeply engrossing premise.  When you’re tired of Naruto and ready to hit the grown-up books, this is the title to dive into. 

Grade: A

Review copy provided by Viz