With this volume we say goodbye to one of my favorite new manga within the last five years. I’d been hoping with the end of the second sea...more4.5/5 stars.
With this volume we say goodbye to one of my favorite new manga within the last five years. I’d been hoping with the end of the second season of the anime that the events that happened there hadn’t been an end and instead, just was waiting for Takahashi to catch up with his own writing process, but unfortunately, it wasn’t. While some might say it’s a bit anti-climactic, I think it’s a way for us to imagine what might happen after those final pages. After 11 volumes, it’s time to say goodbye to Koko, Jonah, and the crew in “Jormungand: Volume 11”.
Everything that’s happened so far has been building up to this. In this volume we get a full reveal of what Koko, Miami, and the rest of her cohorts have been building in secret for years, as well as a two-year fast-forward in between the first four parts of this volume and the final chapter. When you finally see Koko explaining her plan and her reasoning behind it to Jonah and the rest of the crew, suddenly a lot of the stuff that seemed odd or out of place in previous volumes? It totally and utterly makes sense. I have to give it to Takahashi for planting all of these little bits and then bringing them together in such an utterly explosive way.
And then there are there characters – and there’s major development in this volume. Is Koko mad? Is the rest of her crew just blindly following behind her Jormungand plan in order to bring world piece? Is Kaspar not as bad as we thought when we were first introduced to him through Jonah’s eyes? All of these questions also get answered as Jonah goes on a quest to really figure out how he feels about the Jormungand plan, as well as his own place in the world (which will vanish if Jormungand is put into action). Does he want to continue being a child mercenary? And then there’s the CIA, Scarecrow, Shokolade, and Bookman – what will they do if Koko tries to put Jormungand into play? Will they stop her? Or, will they sit back and watch what happens? Again, all of these questions that have been building get answered, and not necessarily in a way you’d expect. Kaspar isn’t such a bad guy after all – but that’s all I’ll say about that when it comes to spoilers.
What Takahashi does best, though, is make the reader think. Put yourself in Koko’s position – all of that war you’re forced to see as you carry on the family business. What would you do? If you had the money and the power, would you construct a plan like the Jormungand project in order to bring world peace? Or would you let yet another world war happen, with more and more casualities, and more children like Jonah being born into the world to be trained as child soldiers? What would you do?
At the end of the day, Takahashi definitely doesn’t fail to deliver here, and even though I hope we get a spin-off, or a sequel of post-Jormungand Day, there does feel like there’s an end, and closure here to a certain degree. Looking back, I honestly can’t see this series ending any other way. And I’m glad it did.
Final verdict? If you’ve been following the “Jormungand” saga, you simply must end your journey with this volume. If not – what are you waiting for? I’m going to miss this series a lot, and for the execution alone, it makes my best of 2013 list in the manga category. “Jormungand: Volume 11” is out May 14, 2013 from Viz in North America, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance!
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com) (less)
While I admit I'm not entirely caught up with this series as of yet, one of the things I love the most about "Natsume Yuujinchou" is that you can pret...moreWhile I admit I'm not entirely caught up with this series as of yet, one of the things I love the most about "Natsume Yuujinchou" is that you can pretty much start at any volume in the manga and still be able to get oriented and easily sink into the story. Midorikawa is a ridiculously talented storyteller and artist, and volume 13 in the "Natsume" saga is just all the more proof of that. If you haven't started this series yet, while volume 13 isn't the ideal place to start, it's still a great one to try your hand at to see how comfortable you feel with Midorikawa's style.
With slow, delicious storytelling, we're right in the middle of the "Exorcist" arc, with Natsume trying to live his life by gently dealing with youkai (monsters) and try to make sure they don't meet terrible ends by the exorcists, vengeful families that want nothing more than to finish those youkai off. Natsume (and his grandmother, who started the yuujinchou ("the book of friends"), has this attitude of live and let live, whereas all of these other exorcists families like Matoba (with the seeming few exceptions of men like Natori and his youkai servant, Hiiragi) have the absolute opposite way of wanting to deal with the shrinking youkai population. It's a wonderful way of really comparing and contrasting the new world way of doing things compared with the old world (pre-modernization, which in this case would be pre-Meiji era, or pre-1868) when it comes to religion, superstition, and mythological creatures. This volume just really shows all the more how severe these two differences are, and one could even possibly say that this is a possible social commentary on how things are in Japan right now within its culture (the battle of retaining the old culture while dealing with globalization).
What peaked my interest the most about this volume in particular was that we hear Natori confirm that children (with the Sight) like Natsume are becoming increasingly rare, and thus that's why the exorcist families like Matoba are trying to get their hands on him. After about six volumes or so of going back and forth between dealing with youkai his own way and trying to save them from the brutal treatment of banishment by Matoba's hands, we get confirmation that yes, children like Natsume are a dying breed, and that's what's fueled the exorcism arc the way that it has. Even though it's a rather late admission, everything now makes a lot more sense in hindsight when looking back on the past six or so volumes where we deal with Matoba and families like his with banishment, trying to get Natsume to work for him by any means necessary (including kidnapping), and trying to preserve the youkai world as it is now, even as it's slowly starting to die out.
So for the reader who, like me, was starting to get frustrated in terms of why this arc is so long? Stick with it, because volume 13 is full of very important and tasty admissions like Natori's, as well as Matoba's "offer" to once again try to get Natsume to work with him to kill off youkai.
What was also wonderful in this volume was Midorikawa's very understated, gentle art style. Much like "Mushishi" (which has a bit of a similar storyline), the art can go to insanely detailed to just mere sketches and not lose any quality of the story itself. You can kind of see why Midorikawa has won awards for her work (notably, her very "Natsume"-related previous work of short stories, "Hotarubi no Mori e", made into a film last year). I keep hoping for a "Hotarubi"/"Natsume" crossover, since there are quite a few similarities between the two series, especially now that the "Hotarubi" film is out on DVD in Japan. Absolutely gorgeous artwork with a pace that's both slice-of-life pleasantly slow yet darkly sinister, this is just another feather in Midorikawa's hat when it comes to her mangaka skills. What's funnier, is that the author even talks about the film version of "Hotarubi" in one of her side panels within this panel. Awesome.
Even though this particular volume's plot has to do with the mystery of who's cursing exorcists, it still begs the question - which is better for the youkai, and thus, for the world? No youkai at all from the dangerous banishments that the vengeful exorcist families like Matoba use? Or the gentler, name reclamation that Natsume (and his grandmother) use along side Nyanko-sensei? Is it youkai who are getting angry and cursing the exorcists? Or is it the more sinister human element trying to eliminate the gentler competition like Natsume and Natori instead? Midorikawa asks us questions that are really important in this volume under the metaphor of youkai and human relations, which is - what should remain? The old culture? Or new globalization? Can we coexist together at all? It's a wonderful thing to read, once you take the entire arc into consideration and it will definitely give you something to think deeply upon.
"Natsume's Book of Friends (Natsume Yuujinchou): Volume 13" will be out December 4, 2012 in North America from Viz, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance. It's definitely a volume you can't miss in this series, and just kind of reminds me why it's one of my favorites.
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)
Guys, get ready for your feels to get kicked in the feels because this volume in the series has a huge Big Reveal right from the jump, an...more4.5/5 stars!
Guys, get ready for your feels to get kicked in the feels because this volume in the series has a huge Big Reveal right from the jump, and it affects not only everything we know so far about the Marauders/Reverse, Noir, Gauche, Lag, Roda, and Niche - but also affects everything going forward. If you haven't read up until this volume, you might want to wait on it until you've gotten caught up. A fantastic addition to this series, "Tegami Bachi/Letter Bee: Volume 12" is nothing short of amazing, alluring, and feels-poundingly good. Note, there are spoilers from here on in, so you've been warned.
So, we have Gauche returning. Awesome, right? Especially after everything Lag and Niche have gone through to get him back from the Marauders. Not so fast. We get a heart-pounding confession from Gauche on the first page - he's still Noir, he's still lost his heart, but he's starting to grow it back again thanks to the letter and the shindan (heart bullets) Lag shot at various Gaichuu in order to save his life. He's developing feelings all over again for his sister, Lag, Roda (who also regained some of her former self), and Niche.
Doubly awesome? Cabernet, the Gaichuu most associated with the Marauders and is pretty much the Godzilla of the series, is coming after Yuusari and the Bee Hive, where all of the Letter Bees get their letters for distribution.
Triply awesome? We find out what Gauche/Noir really went through at the capitol before joining up with the Marauders after he lots his heart - though cleverly, Asada doesn't show his hand entirely when talking about it through his characters. There are lots of mysteries to be clarified there left. We also find out the secrets of the man-made sun, the sun that heats and lights all of Amberground.
So basically? A lot is revealed in this volume, a lot of questions we've been wondering about since volume 1, and the wait is so worth it. We see the Marauders for what they are - experiments, done in secret by the government, and we see why they want to put out the sun. There's a lot of switching of sides and betrayals from both sides in this volume, along with some double-agent action on the side. Everyone bands together on both sides to encourage or try to take down Cabernet, and the Secret History of Amberground journal is found. Who will reveal the secrets of Amberground first? It's becoming a contest. There's so much wonderful tension, and I feel like with each volume, Asada's really growing not just as an artist but a writer/author as well.
I definitely read this entire volume in one sitting, and it's just flat-out amazing. We learn so much, yet there's so much yet to be revealed, making Asada one of my favorite manga storytellers out there today. Or rather, reinforcing that. Definitely one of my favorite volumes in the series and one of the best of 2013 so far, "Volume 12" is out now from Viz in North America, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance!
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So, fair warning, this volume deals with the "Jormungand Project" arc of the manga, which, if you've been keeping up wit...more**spoiler alert** 4.5/5 stars!
So, fair warning, this volume deals with the "Jormungand Project" arc of the manga, which, if you've been keeping up with the anime, corresponds to episodes 20-24 (or season 2, eps 9-12) of the anime, with Koko putting into action her plan to change the world - and the face of war - forever. If you've been reading the series up until now, you simply CANNOT miss volume 10 of "Jormungand"! There are spoilers ahead, so you've been warned.
This is a very pivotal volume in Koko's character development (as well as Jonah's), and Takahashi does a wonderful job of showing everyone's true colors, no matter how big or small the character. We start to see all of the pieces of what Koko's been doing since she got into the weapons dealing/logistics business as a young teenager really come together as a solid plan, one hatched with Dr. Miami when they met as early teens. The scene with Scarecrow and his CIA spooks going deep into Koko's specific financial actions within HCLI, along with the fact that she's invested in a second Marchen Toy Factory with Dr. Miami in South Africa, is absolutely riveting. We start to understand everything that's been driving Koko even before her major scene with Jonah explaining what "Jormungand" is, and how it ties into the just-announced "Hek-GG" package from HCLI.
We also get a glimpse into the interpersonal relationships between everyone in Koko's crew, and how they rub up against each other and disagree, which is nice, since we always see them very friendly all the time. A little conflict is good for one's soul (and plot), so it was great to see everyone's opinions starting to come out.
We also see a cooperation between the world's major spy agencies to see what Koko's up to, regardless of what their posturing in public to the media. Everyone's wary of what Koko will come up with, and they step up to the table, invite her to it to kind of warn her what might happen should she start anything. Yet we see them refrain from actually striking against her - which I find very interesting as that seems contrary to what the NSA and CIA would usually do in a situation like this. I don't know what kind of research (if any) Takahashi did, but I find it interesting that he stayed Bookman and Hinoki's joint hand from striking against Koko, especially after Scarecrow and Schokolade's investigation into her finances. Only until a certain event happens do they do anything, and that's to protect the asset known as Talker Rabbitfoot more than anything else.
This volume ends on a very dramatic note, with Koko and Jonah sharing a questionable bath moment that will make everyone raise an eyebrow and Koko's declaration of what she's been building her entire career and fortune toward. I won't spoil anything more, but wow. To end the volume on that...it just makes me want volume 11 NOW.
Otherwise, this is a very exciting volume that any fan of the series is seriously going to love. I know I did, and I know I can't wait for the next one. You can't miss it. "Jormungand: Volume 10" is out from Viz on January 15, 2013 in North America. Especially since season 2 of the anime has ended and a season 3 has yet to be announced, this will help tide diehard fans over just a bit longer and quite well until the next volume comes out. Definitely one of the best of 2013 so far in the manga category.
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Yes, we're coming to the end of one of my favorite arcs in this series. I love the renewal edition art, I love that Kodansha USA left the original col...moreYes, we're coming to the end of one of my favorite arcs in this series. I love the renewal edition art, I love that Kodansha USA left the original color leaflets in, and I love the new translation. <3 Anyone who's read the Tokyopop translation? Do yourself a favor and pick up this brand spanking new one from Kodansha. You're welcome in advance.(less)
This manga is based on one of my favorite light novel series, "My Sister Can't Possibly Be This Cute". I'm so glad Dark Horse picked up the manga as t...moreThis manga is based on one of my favorite light novel series, "My Sister Can't Possibly Be This Cute". I'm so glad Dark Horse picked up the manga as they've done an awesome job with it, and hopefully someone will pick up the original novels for translation too. This series, while a little on the naughty side, also has some great social commentary on the state of how otaku (or fans to the point of mania) are viewed in Japan. It has great one-liners and the characters are crafted with care. So if you're looking for something new to read in the manga department, "OreImo" is a must read.
So, the otaku: a history. Otaku have been given a bad rap in Japan, mostly due to a serial killer in the early nineties who had a huge infatuation with anime (specifically incest-related content and lolicon-related content) as he abducted girls and killed them. It became a huge stigma, and it wasn't a good thing to call oneself an otaku. However, ever since the "moe boom" that started in Akihabara (a city in Tokyo that caters almost exclusively to anime otaku and computer otaku) about a little over ten years ago, and thanks to other groundbreaking novels like "Denshaotoko (Train Man)", it's become a little more acceptable in Japan to be an otaku.
That is, if you're male.
If you're female, it's still not really cool. However, thanks to series like "OreImo" and places like Otome Road in Ikebukuro (another city in Tokyo slowly growing more targeted toward otaku) that are almost exclusively targeting female otaku with its stores and cafes, it's slowly growing more acceptable to be an otaku. Keyword here being "slowly". VERY slowly, for girls. For guys, it's almost completely mainstream now.
So Fushimi took all of this history of controversy, and made a set of novels out of it, and eventually, manga, too, and out of it came the "OreImo" story.
Kirino, while being really popular at school and a hot fashion magazine model, still has to hide her secret of her love for naughty video games, manga, and mahou shoujo (magical girl) anime shows from everyone - even from her own family. That is, until her older brother finds out by mistake. It soon becomes a race of give and take between the siblings, peppered with a lot of tension and hilarity, to keep Kirino's secret. Kirino's choice of obsession (incest or otherwise naughty video games) is an abberation within the female otaku community - most go toward the BL (boys' love) or GL (girls' love) genres instead. What Kirino's into is mostly targeted toward guys 18 and up.
Now, this series isn't all humor. There are a lot of serious issues raised - and no, incest between Kirino and her brother isn't one of them. There's the issue of having kids 18 and under being able to purchase adult material online like Kirino does, skirting the laws about porn and profane materials where you'd otherwise have to show ID. There's also the social factor - what will happen when Kirino's friends and the rest of her family find out what she's into? Will she be disowned, friendless, and alone? What about her otaku friends online, who are also girls, who like the same things? Which road in life will she take - the appropriate one with being a model and studying abroad? Or the one of being an otaku? It almost at times feels like Fushimi is telling her own story, though I can't really confirm or deny that. It feels very autobiographical. But for the most part, it rides on comedy to make the reader more comfortable with the subject matter, which gets surprisingly deep.
I'm glad that Dark Horse has brought this series to the states, and with four volumes out for the manga (not including the spin-offs), it won't break the bank. The novel has ten volumes and is still going. Finally, Western fans will see what the social fallout is when they declare themselves otaku if in Japan, and learn more about the history behind the term itself. It's a pretty important piece of social commentary, and Dark Horse has done a great job with what I've read so far. And while it's not always appropriate for younger readers, I'd definitely recommend this to middle YA and older audiences as it's a really great series.
"OreImo: Volume 1" is out from Dark Horse Comics on September 5, 2012, so be sure to check it out then. It's made my best of 2012 so far list, and is highly recommended.
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, librarything, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)(less)
Short review is going to be short, because I've read the previous edition, and I'll be comparing editions in this review.
Definitely a five out of five...moreShort review is going to be short, because I've read the previous edition, and I'll be comparing editions in this review.
Definitely a five out of five for this new edition! Pilgrim fans, eat your heart out. Even though this edition will be more expensive (twice the price as the original black and white edition) but if the galley is anything to go by, it'll be well worth the money. Even if you're new the Scott Pilgrim fandom, being able to experience all of the epic battles with the Seven Exes in breath-taking color will definitely get you hooked on this series. Make no mistake - "Scott Pilgrim" is a coming of age, get the girl classic that will endure in pop culture for decades to come.
What's great about this new edition is that we get to see everything about Ramona (and her Exes) in color. Specifically, her hair - as it was meant to be seen by the author (it's a delicious mauve). There's also new awesome labels for the characters (Scott's little sister - "Rated T for Teen"). But mostly, the art's been sharpened and touched up, and looks crisp and new. It's really a feast for the eyes.
And then there's my favorite part of this edition, the afterword - O'Malley talks about being a teen in the '90s in Canada, and how it influenced the creation of Scott Pilgrim. There's also a series of sketches of the evolution of the characters and their features before the official creation/publication of the comic. There's also a great section about how real people in his life helped create the characters, and room layouts of Scott's house, Stephen's house, and other heavily used scenery throughout the series. It also comes with photographs. Pretty sweet. There's also more on the original plot (as of 2003). Definitely a must-have for a Pilgrim fan as it really helps elucidate all of the origins of the series, and how much of O'Malley's actual experiences are in his characters and storylines.
So if you're looking for something new, or you're a die-hard Pilgrim fan, this new hardcover all-color edition of "Scott Pilgrim: Volume 1" is definitely a must-have (even with the price-tag). This new edition has made my best of 2012 list so far and its place on there is definitely well-deserved. "Scott Pilgrim: Volume 1" comes out August 8, 2012 from Oni Press in North America, so be sure to check it out then. It's definitely worth the read!
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I wasn't expecting that ending in the final part of this omnibus (that would be volume 6 on its own), because originally reading it in Jap...more4.5/5 stars!
I wasn't expecting that ending in the final part of this omnibus (that would be volume 6 on its own), because originally reading it in Japanese, I only stopped at number five. Then again, I probably should have seen it coming - Yoshiki was too nice of a guy in this world filled with viruses and demons. If you enjoyed the first omnibus of this series, this second one will knock you on your ass and leave you begging for more. There are a lot of Big Reveals in this volume, so hold onto your hat as we journey further inside of the VVV world!
Suzumi gives us a lot of great information on how viruses came to be, and what they lack that makes them lose their humanity. We also get great backstories for Sonoka's minions, Guy, Ruka, and Layla. We find out about Aion, Sonoka's boss, and the one who looks to remake the "True World" - basically, taking our world now, destroying it, and making it the way he wants to with the Fragments of those with the Sight. We also get backstory into Nahashi, Lilith and Lucif (Lucia's parents) and how they, Lucia, and Sumire figure into Aion's plot to destroy the world. Finally, we get a new resident in the Venus Vangard store and a new addition to the monster-hunting team - Lola, Layla's twin sister. The art is just as (if not more) gorgeous than in the first omnibus, and the bond between Sumire and Lucia gets tighter than ever. If anything, it almost hurt to read the entire first volume in this omnibus (volume four) because of all of the emotions between the two of them.
The translation for this volume took an interesting turn, as well - they left some of the parts raw, and then subtitled them in English. I think this was to keep the translation as close to the original as possible, and because of the kanji used (plus the katakana reading is different than the actual kanji reading), Seven Seas might have wanted to keep all of the possibilities on how to translate those kanji open. I thought this was an excellent move on their part, because I know I was having problems on how to most accurately translate those kanji without taking the completely different katakana reading into account. And for those who can't read Japanese, the translation is still provided for you in English in a close approximation. Everyone wins.
Lucia and Sumire go through a lot of changes throughout these three volumes in this omnibus, and it's nice to see them grow as characters. The world expanded as well, with all of the Big Reveals and further understanding as to how Fragments and viruses relate to each other. I won't spoil you guys, since you really should give this one a read (especially if you've read the first one), but the emotional depth is incredible concerning this medium - it almost felt like reading a novel, and not reading manga at all. Suzumi has real talent when it comes to building her characters and killing her darlings, with maximum emotional payoff in the end. I would love to see her write and illustrate a light novel just to see if it would work as well as her writing with this series. What I think I loved the most was that everyone, at the end of the day, no matter whose side they took or how fantastical their powers, was human, and was just as strong or weak as any human would be. Suzumi really knows how to make her characters emotionally accessible, even the villains. Though I would have liked to see a little more on who Sonoka is aside from what little we're given to go on through Ruka's backstory, I was still satisfied with how relatable the villains were.
Final verdict? Fans of the first omnibus, you simply MUST continue your VVV journey. For those of you just getting into the series, I suggest you read the first omnibus before this one as you might get lost. Just as the first omnibus made my best of 2012 list, so does this one. Absolutely gorgeous art, and a lovely story to go with it. I really can't wait until the final omnibus comes out - it's scheduled to hit stores in October. But for now, the second "Venus Versus Virus" omnibus is available through Seven Seas/Macmillan in North America, so be sure to check it out!
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)(less)
As I've already read "FLCL" in manga form, I'm going to focus on Dark Horse's omnibus re-release edition of this awesome work from the quintessential...moreAs I've already read "FLCL" in manga form, I'm going to focus on Dark Horse's omnibus re-release edition of this awesome work from the quintessential GAINAX canon. Dark Horse has done a wonderful job with this re-release, like they have with the CLAMP omnibuses that they've been releasing for the last few years and they don't disappoint with a fresh new translation and lovely extras. Whether you're new to "FLCL" or an old fan, this is definitely a must-have edition either way.
"FLCL" in manga form is a whole different animal than the anime that spawned it - it's full of more sex, more violence, and a generally darker tone with lots of black humor to go around. This was previously released by Tokyopop, and the translation was adequate, but Dark Horse's re-release is absolutely gorgeous. Where Tokyopop kind of scrimped on the delicious extras only available in the Japanese edition, Dark Horse has brought them back with full color plates and sketches before every chapter on high-quality glossy stock paper.
They've also rejuvenated older pages, making the sketches sharper and pop off the page - so this was a real pleasure to read, compared to Tokyopop's kind-of-sub-par release years back. It's so nice to see GAINAX get the attention it deserves with this re-release, and it fills me with hope for maybe a re-release of the original "Evangelion" manga in omnibus format at some point. They really did a great job with this one, guys, so it's a definite must-read and must-buy for any manga fan!
The omnibus edition of "FLCL" from Dark Horse will be out May 15, 2012 in North America - other places, check with your local bookseller. Definitely one of the better manga re-releases in the last few years so it's highly recommended!
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I love this series – the idea of kotodama, or literally “making words into weapons”, has fascinated me for awhile now, and when CLAMP started releasin...moreI love this series – the idea of kotodama, or literally “making words into weapons”, has fascinated me for awhile now, and when CLAMP started releasing this series I got to see how the old theory of this side of magic worked – at least, in the universe that they created. While Dark Horse has done a usually spectacular job releasing the series – the touch-ups are nice, the pages crisp, the lettering clear – on the translation side of things, I feel like they didn’t quite go the extra but necessary mile when it came to the actual fights including kotodama words. In other words, if you don’t know Japanese or if you don’t have another source to compare this to, some of the fight scenes where kotodama are used will be a bit confusing if you just go by the words (and not what they turn into) alone.
Now, I’m not sure why Dark Horse did this. Volume 2 came out in Japan and the US at around the same time, and I know they’re both on the same release schedule because CLAMP wants the story to come out simultaneously in both countries, so it can be crunch time for Dark Horse when it comes to publishing this because they have other stuff to translate, including their collection of CLAMP omnibuses that they’ve been releasing for the last year or two. Or it could be that maybe once the reader sees what the words turn into (the first page of chapter four in this volume is a good example of this), they just didn’t feel the need for translation.
The good thing, though, is that they have several pages of translation notes with words and the pages that they’re on that need clarification – and these are really good, thorough notes from the editor and translator, so it makes up for the lack of translation a bit. I’m just puzzled as to why they chose not to just include the translation along with the original word on the page instead of just doing the translation notes.
Anyway, that’s just me.
We pick up where our story has left off – Chikahito and Hana are facing off against Nobunaga’s demon (oni) – yet another well-known figure from the Sengoku (Warring States) Period. A lot of anime and manga series have been created about this period as of late, but I don’t think anyone’s approached it as creatively as CLAMP. Throughout this volume of the series it really starts hitting the audience – the Sengoku Era is still going on – in fact, it never stopped. It took a little breather for a few hundred years, but it’s still going strong with the reincarnations and descendents of the original players along with their demons in this shadowy netherworld-version overlay of Kyoto proper. The actual battles in history took place all over the Kyushu and Kansai areas of Japan (basically, from Nagoya/Osaka/Kyoto southward), so I thought this was a nice touch – re-enacting epic battles through the descendents and reincarnations of the generals in the most sacred parts of Kyoto. Even with my gripe about how the translator did things, I’m glad the translation notes are there because they also clue the Western reader in and give more information about the battles, their generals (the reincarnations in this case), and information of where we know everything went down as new reincarnations of these generals appear in this volume – Tokugawa, Sanada, Mitsuhide, Masamune, and Nobunaga for this particular volume and all of the information that goes with them.
The art, as usual, is breathtaking – the battle scenes in particular, because we get to see how each demon handles the transition of word to weapon differently, their styles of fighting, and how the reincarnations are processing the current day and age of things since they are a shadowy “overlay” of the Kyoto area while fighting against their old enemies. Some of the funniest parts of this volume come from the reincarnated generals and how they try to recall their former lives (in Nobunaga’s case, with little success) in order to strategize against Chikahito and Hana further, or they’re trying to handle things the way they are now compared to their original “first life” as generals leading men on the battlefield. We also get to see how their original conflicts each other have just gotten more fierce as they compete for the demons that won their original battles all those years ago in order to become rulers of the current Kyoto hanamachi once more. Their interactions are inventive, and it feels like they’re really there, taunting each other – so CLAMP has done a really great job recreating and retelling these stories with their own characters.
Final verdict? While I can’t say that this is the best translation of the year (Dark Horse, step it up for volume 3, okay?), the source material definitely makes it onto my best of 2012 so far list. This volume may get a little confusing, but the translation notes should help you through enough to get the basics of what’s going on. If you need further assistance looking up some of the battles referenced in this volume, wikipedia is your friend. Either way, I definitely recommend this series and this volume in the series, so be sure to check it out! “Gate 7: Volume 2″ is out now in North America from the fabulous Dark Horse Comics. This one’s turning into one of the more interesting manga released on this side of the pond this year, so you can’t miss it!
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)(less)
First, a huge thanks to Dark Horse for putting this awesome book up on NetGalley for the (reviewing) world to request and read! I was really pleasantl...moreFirst, a huge thanks to Dark Horse for putting this awesome book up on NetGalley for the (reviewing) world to request and read! I was really pleasantly surprised when I saw it up there – I just had to request it. And you know what? This one book collects all five of the original issues that make up the “Epitaphs” mini-series and all of the awesomeness contained therein. And yet, while you get the “complete” story of how the Rossum mindwipe thoughtpocalypse starts, it doesn’t exactly end where the show picks it up at the end of season 2 (spoiler alert!). All I know is one thing – I still want more on the thoughtpocalypse adventures with Mag, Zone, Griff, Alpha, Echo, and the others.
However, I know the chance of more of “Epitaphs” being written and released is slim to none. Which is saddening, but what we’re given is absolutely awesome material – and I’d expect no less from the badass Whedon-Tancharoen team (they did help end season 2, after all, with their scripting) and I’ve come to like Chambliss a great deal with “Buffy: Season 9″. I don’t think it needs to be said that if you haven’t seen the end of the first season, you’re going to spoil yourself, but if you’re just starting season 2, you’re in luck! This won’t really spoil you, but it builds on the material given to us in the unaired thirteenth episode of season 1 and a nice chunk of the last episodes of season 2.
All of the spoiler warnings said and in place, Whedon, Tancharoen, and Chambliss go into some very, very dark places with the genesis of the thoughtpocalypse, and shows us the buildling of Neuropolis (which we only get a look at in the series after Echo and her ragtag bunch of ex-Actives and other friends and foes when they actually infiltrate it), which is literally built on the ruins of buildings that the Rossum-created Butchers have totaled in their rampage across the globe (or in this case, Arizona). We also get some good information on where our favorite characters who worked in the LA Dollhouse as staff were when the Thoughtpocalypse hit, as well as how that affects the anti-Rossum cause.
But I think my favorite part was Alpha’s redemption – or rather, how it happened, and how it almost didn’t happen at all. I never thought I’d come to love Alpha as much as I do, but thanks to this much-needed installment, I got a look into his very real suffering with all of the people in his head. Everyone loved (me included) Alpha as the villain trying to steal the sleeping beauty-like Echo from the LA Dollhouse, but this shows how he tries so very hard to reform himself, as well as his continuing love for Echo and how he has to deal with all of that.
Oh yeah, and the fact that he still has quite a few murderous personalities in his head doesn’t really help the reform process.
But I found myself cheering for him like I never did before, and it was a really satisfying experience. “Experience” is the only way to describe any Whedon production, and “Dollhouse”, regardless if in TV or comic form, definitely is no exception to that idea. “Epitaphs” just contributes and completes the “Dollhouse” experience and really is a must for any Whedon/”Dollhouse” fan. Hands down. Though I just want more misadventures of how the thoughtpocalypse goes down (I wanted to see more Topher, for one thing, in this volume), overall I’m pretty happy with the end results, and I highly recommend it.
“Dollhouse: Epitaphs” is out in North America on April 11th, 2012, so be sure to pick it up then. It’s made my best of 2012 so far list, so really, this is a miniseries you can’t miss!
(posted to goodreads, librarything, shelfari, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)(less)
This volume goes into detail about Niche's (and Steak's) origins. AWESOME backstory, absolutely gorgeous art. Definitely one of the best volumes in th...moreThis volume goes into detail about Niche's (and Steak's) origins. AWESOME backstory, absolutely gorgeous art. Definitely one of the best volumes in the series so far!(less)
ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS adaptation of the original novel! LOVED the art, especially the character design for Alexia and Lord Akeldama! I can't wait for th...moreABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS adaptation of the original novel! LOVED the art, especially the character design for Alexia and Lord Akeldama! I can't wait for the next volume to come out! (Almost even like it better than the original novel...)(less)