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.

Turtle

Check Maoh out for yourself at:

http://www.bookdepository.com/book/9781421540399/?a_aid=turtlemanga

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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.

 

Turtle

Review: Not Simple – Natsume Ono

 not simple

Manga: Not Simple

Mangaka: Natsume Ono

Publisher: Ikki / Viz Media

 

This story follows the life experience of a young Australian, Ian, as he seeks out answers about his troublesome family life. Before leaving for America Ian meets Jim who is moving to New York to become an author. The pair become friends and Jim decides that once Ian’s search for answers finally comes to an end he will write a novel about his experiences. The entire way through the book you find yourself thinking about just how messed up this guy is, after years of living with family who don’t want him and he seeks out the sister who was always the one person he felt the closest to.

 

As the story begins we meet Ian’s sister, Kylie, as she is released from a short spell in prison. Kylie is introduced as being very caring for Ian and that the reason she was sent to prison was a result of her shoplifting to ensure Ian had enough food to eat. When she returns home she is surprised to find her parents home is up for sale and that her parents have separated. After a short search for her father he reveals that Ian and her mother have left Australia and are now living in England. She immediately attempts to get enough money together in order to go to England to find her brother.

 

In England we are finally introduced to Ian and see the situation he is living in with his mother. Ian’s mother is a heavy drinker and as a result she spends the majority of their money on alcohol. Ian is noticeably malnourished at this stage and his aunt regularly takes him out to eat and secretly gives him money to use to buy food. Once the mother decides that she still is not getting enough money he finds a way to use her son to provide her with more alcohol. Soon after Kylie arrives on the scene and organises for Ian to return to Melbourne and live with their father. She tells him not to return to find her until he has achieved his dreams.

 

Several years goes by with Ian living with his father you frequently vocalises his resent for him. However, he begins to take on running to a greater extent and sets his aim to beat a specific time at which point he will be able to return to Kylie. Once he finally reaches his target he knows that it is now time to go to find his sister. He talks to one of her friends to find out where she is, but the only information he is able to get is that she is somewhere in America. At this point Ian meets Jim for the first time. After hearing the story of Ian’s life Jim decides to write a novel about his life and invites him to stay with him in New York anytime. For the majority of the rest of the story we follow Ian’s saga through the eyes of Jim as he listens to Ian’s stories every time he comes to visit.

 

The story overall is somewhat depressing to read, but is very well written. I didn’t like the prologue at the start of the book as it gives away the ending, however, it was good see something as it happens instead of hearing Ian’s story of it. The artwork was really not too my liking. It all seems a little but rushed with very little detail put into it. I would have liked to see some better artwork to complement the story, but this is how the mangaka decided to do and I think that it actually emphasises the emotions of the characters. I would recommend Not Simple to anyone looking for an example of the serious side of manga. However, it is quite depressing and can get hard to read at point due to the themes of the story. I did enjoy reading it though, and it was good to read something so different from what I usually read.

 

Turtle

 

Check Not Simple out for yourself at: http://www.bookdepository.com/book/9781421532202/?a_aid=turtlemanga

Review: Neon Genesis Evangelion – The Shinji Ikari Detective Diary

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I picked this series up in a comic book shop during my last hiatus. The complete series is only two volumes so its no too bad an investment, unless your local comic book shop it a complete rip off, like mine…. *sigh* … Anyway, here’s just a short review of the series. I didn’t do any ‘first impressions’ or ‘reflections’ of it, because I had the series completed before I got the chance.

 

Synopsis:

The Shinji Ikari Detective Diary is a short alternative telling of the popular series ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’. The series features all of the main characters from the original series, but instead of their work at nerve fighting the Angels, the characters find themselves working for two competing detective agencies. The first company features Shinji and Kaworu working for Kaji and Misato, and the other featuring Rei and Asuka working for a ‘mystery figure’. During the first couple chapters we see the characters actually out attempting to solve mystery’s, such as a ghost in the school. However, the entire detective element is lost pretty quickly. The series resembles more of a school days series which is a lot more care free and easy reading then the original series. The Eva’s also make a couple of appearances, however, instead of being robotic beings piloted by the main characters, they are sort of Genie like figures who help the detectives.

 

My Opinion:

Having read most of the Neon Genesis Evangelion series (still waiting on volume 14), this retelling is a nice break from the original. As a stand alone series, Shinji Ikari Detective Diary doesn’t have a chance. The characters are not developed well, as you are expected to already know them, the whole detective element is lost as I mentioned previously, and the whole presence of the Eva’s make no sense. In a series which is only eleven chapters long, adding in the Eva’s to only half the chapters is just unnecessary, especially when they add absolutely nothing to the story.

On the other hand, If you have read the original series, or watched the anime, you may enjoy this series. It’s a nice short alternative story, which isn’t quite as depressing and Shinji isn’t as moody all the time. It’s actually quite cute and portrays the relationship between himself and Rei as a little more normal. Just a little. He’s still depressed and she’s still weird as hell. I can see why a lot of people don’t like this series (seen it get a lot of hate online) but honesty, if you don’t take it too serious and just roll with it, its quite an enjoyable read.

 

Rating:

I wouldn’t even consider recommending this series to anyone who hasn’t read or seen the original series. You will have no idea what’s going on and just not enjoy it. Don’t read it. However, if you have read or seen it, and are also interested in somewhat light hearted series’, check it out. It’s only two volumes, so it doesn’t take much investment to pick it up. It’s just so nice to see these characters actually get happier as the story goes on instead of the great depression that was neon genesis. Last comment, Do not take Shinji Ikari Detective Diary’s seriously. It’s a satire, just read it and enjoy it while we all await volume 14 of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Of which I hear is finally being released in Japan in November.

Final Review: Bakuman by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata

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My initial thoughts after finishing the final pages of this series… Now what? Since I started reading the series last summer Bakuman I have submerged myself as much as possible into the story. It was the series that solidified my interest in reading manga and now it’s over.

 

Synopsis:

The main story of Bakuman follows two young manga artists working to achieve their dream of being the most successful Mangaka in Japan. The series begins when Junior High students Moritaka Mashiro is invited by his classmate Akito Takagi to become his partner and make manga with him. Initially Mashiro is hesitant; however Takagi wins him over after bringing him to talk to his long-time crush, Miho Azuki. Mashiro discovers that Azuki has a dream to be an anime voice actress and the pair agrees that they will encourage each other to achieve their respective dreams. As added motivation they decide that once Azuki is able to do the voice of the heroine from Mashiro’s manga, they will get married.

From here the series takes off, as Mashiro and Takagi push to achieve their goals. They write up a one-shot which they bring in to show an editor at Shonen Jump and from here they never look back. The pair pushes themselves to the absolute limits to ensure that everything they create is the absolute best it can be. Struggling to be the best they can be while still trying to finish school proves too difficult at times and at one point they even end up having to work out of a hospital. The pair never lose sight of their goals and keep bending the editorial offices rules as they wish so as to achieve them.

All the characters in the series are very well developed and you can’t help but to grow fond of them all. Along with the main characters we are introduced to many others such as editors from Shonen Jump and other artists. Every volume brings more and more characters into the series who each add a little something to the mix. The writers are not afraid to shift the focus away from the main story to build on the story’s of the others. We see plenty of side story’s about the other characters such as Iwase’s depression and the relationship between Hiramaru and Ko Aoki.

*SPOILER*

The series end really the only way it could have, with a single kiss. Muto Ashirogi’s  series Reversi has been made into an anime and as promised Azuki is doing the voice of the heroine. After the first episode finishes Mashiro picks Azuki up Mashiro builds up the courage to ask her to marry him. She responds simply by saying that the last time they met they agreed they would have their first kiss when they see each other again. The series end with the image of the two sharing in their first kiss.

 

My Opinion:

One weekend last August I found myself in Forbidden Planet in Belfast looking at manga and deciding which one I would buy. This would be the first time I ever bought manga and had no idea what to get. I had watched Neon Genesis Evangelion with a couple friends a few months before and decided to grab the 3-in-1 volume. When I went to pay the guy working the counter told me that all manga is buy 2 get one free. I looked over at a little stand next to the counter and just grabbed the first two volumes of Bakuman which was sitting on it. This random decision to just grab whatever was closest to me at the time has made me an Otaku. My manga collection is now nearing 100 volumes and that doesn’t count everything I’ve read online. As the first series I ever bought, Bakuman will always hold a special spot for me.

The series truly has been brilliant. Since I bought those first two volumes I havn’t been able to walk in a comic book shop without leaving with the next volume. With every chapter I read, I had to read on. With every volume I read, I had to go buy more. The writing of the series is so perfect in the way it progresses the story and keeps the readers wanting more. The art is fantastic and above all else this series has created a love for the work of Takeshi Obata’s work [DeathNote, All You Need is Kill, Hikaru no go].

All and all, the series is very interesting to read and once you begin you can’t help but to read on. I havn’t heard or seen a single person who has said they started reading Bakuman and didn’t get sucked into the story. It will keep you interested right through until the entire series is over, and even then you want more.

 

Rating:

I try not to give a numerical rating for anything on my blog, rather a short note of either recommended, or not. In the case of Bakuman I have no idea how to express just how good the series is. Everyone should read it. The story is great. The artwork is amazing. The character development is fantastic. At twenty volumes it is a great length, not too short to be rushed or to miss on character development, and not too long to be dragging on and lose the readers interest. I honestly can’t recommend this series enough, it holds a special place for me, and if every I find myself recommending a series to get someone interesting in manga, this will be it.

 

 

Let me know what you thought of the series, and what was your favourite moment. In my last post I wrote about my favourite characters and in the future will do on the best manga series in Bakuman. SO go check those out and let me know your favourites. I’d also like to apologise to anyone who I’ve left waiting for this post. I actually finished the series almost two weeks ago but had fallen behind on college work so havn’t been posting much lately. I’ll try to get a bit of a stockpile built up of posts so this doesn’t happen again. Thanks to everyone who’s been reading my posts, expect more in the future.

 

Turtle

 

Check Bakuman out for yourself, available at http://www.bookdepository.com/book/9781421535135/?a_aid=turtlemanga