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

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Reflection: Food Wars! Volume 1

food wars

Manga: Food Wars! Shokugeki No Soma

Mangaka: Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

Publisher: Viz Media / Shonen Jump Advanced

 

 

Soma Yukihira dreams of one day becoming a better chef then his father, Joshiro. The Yukihira’s own a small family restaurant in Tokyo. After finishing Junior High School Soma’s father announces that he is shutting down the family restaurant. Joshiro will be spending the next three travelling around the world cooking for high end clients in some of the world’s top restaurants and hotels. While he’s away he challenges his son to spend this time to practice his cooking and attempt to prove that he is the better chef when he returns to Japan. Soma is given the opportunity to take the entrance exam at a prestigious cookery school where less than ten percent of students graduate. If Soma graduates from the school his father agrees that he will accept that he is a great chef in his own right.

 

The concept for Food Wars is really interesting and I can see myself getting quite into it. The rivalry between  Soma and his father as well as Soma and the other students at the school are really interesting base to set up the story. However, a lot of the story is extremely over exaggerated and distracts away from the main story. For one it really takes the phrase ‘food orgasm’ to a whole new level. I can see this being toned back over the first couple of volumes though and the story developing into something more.

 

The first volume is actually fairly short so the story isn’t developed too much, but on the other hand the original one shot is included in the tankobon. This is quite interesting to read and see how the concept developed from the early stages of its development. The second volume of Food Wars will be available at the start of October and currently the series has eight volumes published in Japanese so It will be continuing for some time yet.

 

Turtle

 

Check out Food Wars! Shokugeki No Soma at: http://www.bookdepository.com/book/9781421572543/?a_aid=turtlemanga

Reflection: Maoh: Juvenile Remix vol. 9

maoh 9Manga: Maoh Juvenile Remix

Mangaka: Megumi Osuga

Original Story: Kotaro Isaka

Publisher: Viz Media / Shonen Sunday

 

 

At the very start of this series I called it exactly how it was. Maoh Juvenile Remix started out really slow and tame and I said it then that this series has some serious potential to become really badass. Now with just one volume left, it is finally there. Likewise when Ando was killed off earlier in the series and Junya took of the reins as the main character, I knew that some serious shit was going to go down. With the end of the series within sight, all sides of this conflict are beginning to show their hands and reveal just how far they will go to win this battle.

 

Volume nine kicks off with Junya on the prowl once again, this time intent on avenging Shima. He tracks down the leader of the group who captured and tortured him with intention on finding out if he was still alive and if he will ever return. Everything seems to go sour as the tables are turned and Junya finds himself locked in a room in the abandoned hotel and the other torturers from Fraulein appear on the scene. However, we soon realise that this was Junya’s intention all along as Semi crashes through the doorway and makes short work of the torturers.

 

Further details of Junya’s power are finally revealed following the run-in with Fraulein. Up until now, all that we knew about his power was that he had some sort of ability to predict the correct result in a game of chance. In a bid to raise the money owed for Semi’s assassinations, Junya heads to the horse races. Starting with just 100 Yen Junya bets on several races and by the end of the day has a 7 digit sum of money. His power is finally fully revealed to be the ability to predict the odds in any situation where there is less than ten possible outcomes. Seemingly this power if more useless in trying to kill someone then his brother power of ventriloquism. The only way I can really think he can use the power to fulfil his requirements is in a game of Russian roulette, which I think is very unlikely as we have already seen this earlier in the series.

 

Volume ten will bring the final showdown between all the sides in this struggle for power, righteousness and revenge. Inukai and the grasshoppers and shifted their attention away from Nekota and are now making plans for their new ‘Future Party’ to win the general election and take control of the whole of Japan. Anxious to seize power for themselves Fraulein have hired snippers to assassinate Inukai and plan to overthrow the elite members of grasshopper and the future party in order to take control of Japan for themselves. Intent on killing Inukai himself, Junya informs him of Frauleins plans and decrees that Inukai will only die by his hands. Towards the end of this volume Junya disappears and begins to set out his plan. We see him talking with a couple of the assassins from earlier in the series who will have to return for the final showdown. He also meets with Anderson, who I really hope will also make an appearance of his own. The only side missing at this point in the Anderson group, who are still hoping to transform the city of Nekota, however, it is unclear if they will return in a final bid to achieve their objectives, or if they have given up on Nekota for good.

 

Anyway this final showdown ends up going down, it will at least be a battle o three sides, with only one able to win out. I am really excited to read the final volume of Maoh Juvenile Remix, and the series review will be posted here soon afterwards.

 

Turtle

 

Read Maoh Juvenile Remix for yourself, available at: http://www.bookdepository.com/book/9781421540382/?a_aid=turtlemanga

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

Reflection: Doubt vol. 1

Doubt volume 1

I never heard of Doubt before I spotted it in a bookstore while on holiday in England last week. The description on the back sounded pretty good so I decided I would pick it up.

The story begins with a group of five teenagers meeting for the first time after meeting playing an online game. For the most part everyone is getting along grand, with exemption of a few small scrapes. The group decides to go to Karaoke where they continue to get to know each other.

However, everything turns when the main character Yuu goes to the bathroom. Whilst in the bathroom he is met by a person wearing rabbit mask who knocks him unconscious. When Yuu comes through he finds himself in a dark room with another of the teens he had met through the game. After a little looking around they discover the body of one of the girls he met hanging from a wall. Once regrouped with all of his friend, they realise they are locked in a building with no escape route a forced to play the game ‘Doubt’ which they had all met through. The game requires the group to interrogate each other to discover who the murderer in the group is. They have to kill their suspect and if they are wrong one of them will be killed again.

The story is a very interesting read. Immediately after I started reading I was trying to solve the mystery myself. It forces the reader into the story to try and figure out who the ‘wolf’ is among them.  The story is complemented very well with absolutely fantastic artwork. The illustrations are very graphic and detailed.

While reading I am reminded a lot of Btooom!, which has a fairly similar idea behind it. Both stories deal with people being forced into playing a real life version of an online video game. Although Doubt takes place on a far smaller scale and is more of a mental game opposed to a strategy game like Btooom!. I don’t think I can say that I like one over the other because although they sound quite similar, they are actually very different.

There’s only two volumes in the series, both being fairly large volumes. If you enjoy series similar to Btooom or Battle Royale I would recommend this to you, and although the volumes are a little more expensive than other series, there is only two so it won’t break the bank to own the series.  

Turtle

Check out Doubt for yourself: http://www.bookdepository.com/book/9780316245302/?a_aid=turtlemanga

Reflection: Deadman Wonderland vol. 1

Manga: Deadman Wonderland

Story / Illustrations: Jinsei Kataoka / Kazuma Kondou

Publisher: Viz Media

 Deadman Wonderand 1

Following on from where I left off with my First Impressions post (check it out if you want to see more of what Deadman Wonderland is) we get more of an idea of what the series is going to be like.

 

The first point worth mentioning after the first chapter is the revelation of the ‘Cast Points’, or CP, which are used as a form of currency for the prisoners in Deadman Wonderland. CP is acquired through the prisoners actions in the events put on for the tourists, such as races (which I will get to soon). These CP can be exchanged for better food at meals and buying other commodities within the prison. Critically, CP is needed to buy a ‘candy’ every three days. These candies contain an antidote to a poison injected into a prisoner from their collars. If a candy is not consumed every three days then the prisoner will die. This increases the tension between the prisoners and their need to gain CP. We see in one case where a prisoner is holding another hostage in an attempt to get a candy, but subsequently dies as a result of the poison.

 

The next thing we see in the first volume is the main characters first experience of a ‘Dog Race Show’. This is one of the events which is put on for tourists who visit Deadman Wonderland.  The event is a deadly race between prisoners through a dangerous track full of obstacles which are likely to kill those competing. Ganta enters the race in hopes of earning the CP he needs in order to buy a candy. The race scene is fantastic and holds the reader’s attention greatly.

 

I can see this series really growing out from here and like I said in the previous post the concept is really intriguing. The need to earn CP in order to receive a candy really adds to the tension in the series. Similar series could see several characters who would try to stay under the radar which cannot happen. The prisoners are forced the compete against one another, or face death. The mystery of the Red man is also really interesting as it seems that everyone else knows about him except for Ganta.

 

I’m excited to continue reading this series, and know that I will be keeping up with the series as it continues once caught up. For more about Deadman Wonderland check out the blog ‘Manga Niche’ from who I was recommended the series. Link Below.

 

Turtle

Manga Niche: http://manganiche.wordpress.com/

 

Deadman Wonderland available at: http://www.bookdepository.com/book/9781421555485/?a_aid=turtlemanga

Reflection: Apocalypse Meow vol. 2

Manga: Apocalypse Meow, volume 2
Story/Illustration: Motofumi Kobayashi
Publisher: ADV Manga

apocalypse meow 2

Motofumi Kobayashi has really developed an all round brilliant overview of the Vietnam War with Apocalypse Meow. The deep and often dark stories told in the series and weighed fantastically with the light hearted illustrations of the animals fighting the war.

The second volume of the series really depicts some of the untold stories of the war that we rarely hear about from main stream films and books about the conflict. The first chapter sees several Japanese sent out of recon with Cat Shit One to gain experience. The Japanese in this chapter explain about how the Japanese constitution prevents them from having an army and going to war. We see some of the ways in which the Japanese attempted to use the Vietnam War to covertly gain experience in reconnaissance as they would be unable to under the terms of their constitution.

Later in the volume we see one of the characters return home to America on R&R to be declared a ‘baby killer’ and see the extent of the anti-war movement. Unable to take the abuse and knowing that he can’t leave his friends he returns to Vietnam. However, once returned he is informed that the rest of his recon team have been captured. Here we again see more of the dark sides of the war. With the lack of a declaration of War ever coming from the Americans, the Chinese and North Vietnamese declare that they are not covered by the Geneva Convention. The captured Americans are subducted to torture and interrogation by their captives.

The volume ends with a fantastically overly American rescue mission through the jungle. Ever as a non-American all I could think of was Team America “AMERICA!! Fuck Ya!!!” It’s very Rambo and heroic and full of explosions and glory. It is fairly epic.

One volume left and I think I will be quite disappointed when it comes to an end. As a manga I would highly recommend Apocalypse Meow, but also if you want to get some sort of a background of the Vietnam War then this a fantastic story of the horrors of the war.

Turtle