First Impressions: Pokemon Black and White


-Pokémon Black and White, volumes 1+2

-Hidenori Kusaka and Satoshi Yamamoto

-Vizkids by Viz Media

Hey everyone, I havn’t been able to pos much in the last few weeks as I’ve just moved to London and started a new job. Between settling in and work I’ve not had much time to read manga, and when I have been I’ve mostly been catching up with One Piece which I don’t bother blogging about since I’m so far behind in the series. Anyway here’s a short refection on the start of the Pokemon Black and white series to settle us back in.

I’ve picked up a few volumes of the Black and White series in the short editions (well under 100 pages each) and so far read through the first two. The story follows along the same lines of the Black and White games while at the same time taking its own path. For instance at the start of the series Black, Cheren and Bianca receive their pokemon from Professor Juniper, however, Black already has two pokemon. I didn’t really think that this was necessary and it kind of destroys the whole idea in Pokemon that the trainers receive their first pokemon from the professor. But nonetheless the series gets started very well.

Black begins his journey through the Unova region alone but soon meets White, a pokemon talent agent who trains pokemon to act in films. The two start working together in the second volume where they come face to face with Team Plasma for the first time.

These editions are published by vizkids, same as most other pokemon manga. However, I really think that this series is a lot more childish then the Red and Yellow arcs were. It is quite corny in places, but it is still a pokemon manga and I shall continue to power through it regardless. My recommendation for this series so far would be to not go out of your way looking for it, but if you see it do pick it up, they are very reasonably priced in most places I’ve seen them (retail at US$4.99,) I actually got 3 volumes for £8.

I will try my hardest to have some more postings going up in the near future, but I can’t really commit to a regular schedule at this time which I am sure you all will understand.


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Reflection: Btooom! vol. 5

btooom 5

-Btooom! Volume 5

-Junya Inoue

-Yen Press

Volume five of Btooom! starts out with a three chapter background of Himiko. The readers discover the history of her distrust of men, both on and off of the island. It is also revealed why she was sent to the island, by nomination of her ‘friends’ as she mentioned earlier in the series. I didn’t care too much for this part. I think it could have been shorter than the three chapters Inoue dedicated to it and that the graphics in a couple of the scenes at a little too much.

Anyway, the series regular returns after this sort of side story. We rejoin Sakamoto and Himiko in the abandoned medical centre after the fight with Natsume and Miyamoto. They decide it is too late to try and return to their camp where Taira was left waiting for them. The find a safe room to sleep but in the middle of the night Himiko is awakened by what she calls a ‘ghost’. After a long period of time searched the centre the pair finally uncover a hideout occupied by a mysterious woman who cannot be detected by their radar.

Overall, didn’t care much for this volume. I think the extent of the Himiko’s background is a little over the top, but hey that what’s the mangaka wanted, and so be it. Anyway, the series as a whole is still awesome so its not enough at all to make me stop reading it.


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FInal Review: Maoh Juvenile Remix

Maoh covers

-Maoh: Juvenile Remix

-Kotaro Isaka and Megumi Osuga

-Viz Media

The whole way through this series I said that it was kind of disappointing but had the capacity to become absolutely awesome. Reading the series you get the sense that something absolutely crazy is about to go down. However, the fact that the madness doesn’t go down until the final volume is bad enough, but then it all falls just short of what, as a reader, I really wanted to see.

From the very beginning of the series the impression that something really good could be getting built up is seen and that is actually what got me wanting to continue reading the series. Throughout the series there are a couple of ‘holy-shit’ moments, but the impression continued that something big is still coming. About halfway through, everything becomes a lot darker as the story shifts between main character and we are introduced to the underworld of Nekota city. However, even the full possibilities of this element of the story aren’t followed up to a great level and soon it too becomes a letdown.

**SPOILERS – Skip to final paragraph for recommendations**

The final volume kicks off with Frauline’s plans to eliminate the threat of both Inukai and Junya. Their snipers take up position to shoot Inukai at his rally and the assassins and cannibals hired by the son of their CO prepair to track down their targets (Junya’s friends).  However, our Junya isn’t just going to sit back and let this happen, and calls in all the assassins he’s met throughout the series. A ‘freak’ earthquake causes the snippers to miss their shot before the pusher end them. Back at Frauline’s bowling alley their hired killers return unable to find their targets, when low and behold there they are bowling with Anderson. Before they are able to get to them Semi appears and has a nice little rampage working his way through each of them, leaving just the COs son alive. In comes he Suicider and on his target list is Semi’s left over. News of his son’s suicide reaches the CO who quickly arrives at the bowling alley, but realizing what is happening tries to leave in a rush, but the pusher arrives for this third kill of the day pushing him in front of his own car. In just a matter of minutes the threat of Frauline is no more.

So all that remains is eliminating Inukai right? Well how about a ten year time skip instead and wait until he becomes the Prime Minister. WHAT? Oh but wait, Junya is now organizing a confrontation with Inukai. Werll Okay maybe some serious shit is going to go down now. But no, not really. All that really happens is that it reveals that the two kids of the Pusher have the power to cause earthquakes (‘shocking’) and Inukai sees Junya standing in the middle of the stadium after the rest of the audience runs away during an earthquake caused by the Pushers kids. And that’s it.

*End of Spoilers*

Overall, I was quite pissed off by the end of the series that it spent ten volumes building up something that never happened. The last volume begins so intense and awesome, and then suddenly we get to the concluding chapter and nothing fucking happens. I really must commend the mangaka on doing a fantastic job of using ten volumes to build up something that wasn’t going to happen. So would I recommend this series? If you can get it o the cheap then buy it, otherwise don’t bother. Don’t bother spending money that could buy better series’. Don’t bother going out of your way looking for this. Don’t bother reading something that ends with such a ‘fuck you’ to the readers. I really enjoyed this series in the four or five volumes before that final chapter, but then, it happened. Or rather, nothing happened. DO not waste your time on Maoh: Juvenile Remix.


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Reflection: Vinland Saga, book 2

Vinland Saga book 2

-Vinland Saga, book 2

-Makoto Yukimura

-Kodansha Comics

Book two of this series starts off just as awesome as the first book did. A Viking Army led by King Sweyn of Denmark has been laying siege to England. Attention has turned to taking down the fortified city of London who’s army is led by the traitor Thorkell. Askeladd’s band is part of the attacking force and sends Thorfinn to down Thorkell. The pair have an intense battle but just as Thorfinn takes the upper hand the Vikings are called back from their attack and Thorkell vows to finish their battle on another day.

With the winter fast approaching most of the Nordics start to make their way north back to the Nordic controlled territories in Northern England. A few hundred remain, under the control Prince Canute, around London to prevent reinforcements from arriving to help the English. Thorkell will not be held for long though and quickly the English army capture the Danish prince and set out on pursuit of the migrating Viking army. Hearing of the capture of the prince Askeladd decides to take matters into his own hands to rescue the prince and be awarded by King Sweyn. With the Prince now with Askeladds band Thorkell grows angry and a hunt begins as the small Viking force attempts to flee through Wales and reach the Nordic territory in the North.

Book two is really tense with several really good battle scenes, but there are also a fair few stand offs which slow the pace of the story own. As with the first book, the action does fade a little throughout, however, it still holds the readers as we slowly learn the intentions all of the sides in the battle and negotiations commence between them.

A note must also be made for the quality of these books as well. I’m reading the hand cover publications which include two volumes of the series in each one. The paper is of the best quality and the books themselves are absolutely beautiful to look at. If you are considering buying this series, these hardcover editions are the way to go.


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Random Pick-up 1: Rebound vol. 1



-Yuriko Nishiyama

-Tokyo Pop

Lately I have been picking up a few volume ones as they appear in a local used book store just to check out some different series that I wouldn’t usually have picked up. The shop is really good price wise, so I don’t mind buying stuff that I don’t think I’ll like too much because it won’t break the bank or anything. In regard to these volumes I thought I would start a new series just discussing the random stuff I pick up, so here’s the first one.

Rebound is a sequel to another Tokyopop series ‘Harlem Beat’, which I have also never read. The story in the first volume follows a high school basketball team from Tokyo as they travel to Sapporo for a national competition. As a sequel to another series most of the characters aren’t introduced in much detail and as such it kind of puts the reader in the back seat from the set out. It also refers back to other events from earlier, again taking away from the new story.

As far as the story of the first volume goes the team arrives in Sapporo and at their hotel where they immediately come to odds with another team who turns out to be their first round rivals. Coming close to blows in the hotel lobby the coaches manage to ease the teams a little and separate them. The following day the teams make peace and decide to have a slam dunk competition the night before their match. I felt that the background of the players from this other team was built far more successfully than the main characters, but sense that they may not appear for much longer in the series as they are just another team in the national competition which will probably disappear after it ends.

Would I buy more of this series? I probably won’t, or at least not unless I find some volumes of Harlem Beat first and read it over. As far as basketball manga go, Slam Dunk is the most popular and well-known as I would probably read it rather than these series. I think Rebound will just sit on my shelf as an odd one volume.


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Reflection: Vinland Saga, book 1


Vinland Saga book 1


-Vinland Saga, book 1

                -Makoto Yukimura

                                -Kodansha Comics


After the opening chapter of the series (discussed in previous posting) the storyline takes us back in time to Thorfinn’s childhood in Greenland. Thorfinn’s background story is built up throughout the rest of this volume and several family secrets are revealed. Importantly the murder of his father at the hands of Askeladd is presented, giving an insight into Thorfinn’s yarning to murder this father’s killer. The story of the unknown land to the West, Vinland, is also presented to the reader through the stories told by Leif Ericson.


The artwork in Vinland Saga is truly fantastic. I know I say that about a lot of manga series, but I have to rank Makoto Yukimura’s artwork in Vinland Saga right up there with Takashi Obata (hands down my favourite manga illustrator). The settings and the movements of the characters are so well presented that the reader can see the action so clearly. Graphic images reflect the story so well and at no point does Yukimura shy away from drawing exactly what is happening. I was actually surprised to find within the very first pages people being shot in the eyes by arrows and decapitations.


I’m excited to continue reading this series and am so happy that I bought the first four books all at once. I really hope to see the series continue for a long time to come and with fourteen volumes released so far in Japan, it probably will. As the series progresses I really want to see Thorfinn defeat Askeladd and become more established in Viking society. Throughout this volume we hear stories about great warriors known by all Vikings, and I hope that as the story develops Thorfinn will become one of these legends.  


I’m going to read the second volume right away so look out for the reflection on that within a couple days.



Final Review: Apocalypse Meow

Apocalypse meow final

-Apocalypse Meow (otherwise known as ‘Cat Shit One’)

                -Motofumi Kobayashi

                                -ADV Manga


Apocalypse Meow is short three volume series featuring anthropomorphic animals who add the perfect amount of humour to an often very serious storyline. The series follows an American recon, group through several missions during the Vietnam War. Sergeant Perkins, Sergeant White (Rats), and Botasky (Bota) make up the recon team ‘Cat Shit One’ who undertake different missions in each chapter. From gaining reconnaissance of the enemy’s movements to rescue missions and ambushes, the reader is taken on a journey showing a lot of the stories which have been left untold by official sources.


Each of the missions in the series depicts a different element of the Vietnam War. The mangaka does a fantastic job of presenting a large array of perspectives of the war, from the perspective of the American soldiers themselves, the people of South Vietnam as well as those protesting against the war in America. In one of my favourite chapters of the series Rats returns home for a short leave and is bombarded with the extent of the anti-war demonstrations. Despite several attempts to defend himself and the actions of his comrades he fails to persuade anyone to change their opinion. In the end he decides to end his leave early in order to escape the protests and return to help his friends who he feels he abandoned back in Vietnam. Other elements of the untold stories also make an appearance in the series such as the presence of Japanese soldiers to carry out ‘training exercises’ as well as confrontations between American and Russian soldiers.


The artwork in throughout the series in very well done and captures and holds the attention of its readers. The use of anthropomorphic animals for the series is very well done as it largely removes the human element of the story while at the same time telling the story that the mangaka wants to get across. In a short sub story at the end of volume one called ‘Dog Shit One’ the characters are depicted as humans. It is a much harder read because we are presented with the fact that humans kill each other which had somehow been lost while reading a story with animal characters. The writer also uses the presence of animals to add some humour to the story when it gets too heavy. In volume three one of the characters makes an observation that none of them are actually wearing any trousers. Beyond the animal characters the visuals of explosions and emotions are delivered perfectly to hold the serious tone of the story as a whole.


Overall, the series is a really interesting read, both in terms of a manga and as an account of the Vietnam War. The books are fairly hard to come by and can be quite pricy. However, I would recommend to anyone that if you do see the series in a shop or selling online for a decent price, buy it. Apocalypse Meow is a really good read which as soon as I finished one volume I was ready to start the next right away.