Naruto is a long-running series with all the power of hype that that entails. It begins as the story of a clumsy, none-too-bright boy who wants to becNaruto is a long-running series with all the power of hype that that entails. It begins as the story of a clumsy, none-too-bright boy who wants to become the greatest ninja ever. This is, as one might expect, not terribly easy.
I was more than a little leery of venturing into such a well-publicized manga. I’ve been burned before by popular works that have all the texture and depth of fast food, but I figured I’d give it a try. Fortunately, it is a long running series, so the initial toilet humor was easy to breeze past until the plot and characterization started kicking in. Even then, I don’t think there’s a moment where it passes the Bechdel Test. If a lack of strong female characters is a deal-breaker, I’d probably give this a miss—even when they’re supposed to be strong, they’re relegated to the background or otherwise dismissed—but if that doesn’t matter to you, or you can deal with it, then the guys are worth sticking around for.
The titular character, Naruto, starts out as a loud, obnoxious child of twelve, but slowly grows into an oddly charismatic boy due to sheer persistance and positive outlook. His teammates, Sakura and Sasuke, start out respectively as a flighty, mooning, tempermental girl and a brooding, taciturn boy, but both develop in their own ways. Assorted teachers, companions, and enemies gain depth and sympathy throughout the series, to the point where Naruto is actually consistently not the most popular character in his own series (the honor frequently going to Sasuke or their teacher, Kakashi).
While this is insanely popular with young teenaged boys, the series as a whole offers a lot to anyone who likes fast-paced action mixed with touching character development....more
I read the first eight volumes of this some time back—between one and four years ago—and the other day I noticed that volumes nine and ten were availaI read the first eight volumes of this some time back—between one and four years ago—and the other day I noticed that volumes nine and ten were available, picked them up, and concluded the series.
I suppose I have a love-hate relationship with Hellsing, and for two very obvious reasons.
On the side of love are Sir Integra Wingate Hellsing, the titular heroine of the series, a no-nonsense, hard-as-nails woman whom singlehandedly runs an organization devoted to keeping England free of freaks and monsters, and her primary servant, Alucard. That's "Dracula" backward for a reason. Alucard is a shameless monster, bound to the Hellsing family and acting only at the behest of his master—and taking great delight in the destruction of freaks, i.e. lesser vampires. He's as amoral and cunning as Integra is driven and dedicated, and together the two of them make me fangirl with glee.
On the hate side of the coin, however, we have four little words: Nazi werewolf vampire cyborgs. I wish I were kidding. Really, Hirano? Really? That was the best you could do? I swear I have a minor aneurysm every time I think about it.
Falling somewhere in the middle are Integra's improbably impressive butler, Walter, he who designs the outlandish guns that Alucard and Seras use; Seras Victoria, the "police girl" that Alucard makes into a vampire and his servant at the beginning of the series, and who serves as fanservice bait for the majority of the run; and then, of course, the oft-incomprehensible pages and pages of black and white splash art in which there are presumably fights occurring beneath the motion lines and blood splatters. Happily, while such scenes are plentiful, they are nicely counterbalanced by the odd, brilliant, beautiful pictures, such as one of Alucard, sprawled out in a chair, looking utterly debauched while surrounded by numerous empty bags—formerly holding blood. The parallels to an alcoholic surrounded by bottle of bourbon were deliberate, evocative, and altogether striking.
So, while there's a lot here that sounds terrible, there's a lot that is wonderful, and I highly recommend the series. It's a fantastic antidote to the sparkly vampires we're getting socked with these days, and hammers home the point (pun intended) that only a human can defeat a monster....more
Kuroshitsuji, or Black Butler, is composed of one part serious historical fiction, one part supernatural horror, one part fanservice, and five parts uKuroshitsuji, or Black Butler, is composed of one part serious historical fiction, one part supernatural horror, one part fanservice, and five parts uncut crack.
Twelve-year-old Ciel Phantomhive is the last of his line, and the Earl of Phantomhive, following the death of his parents in the fire that claimed the family mansion. He lives alone, but for his servants: one whom doesn't do much of anything, three whom fail at everything they attempt, and the titular butler, Sebastian. In his own words, Sebastian is "one hell of a butler."
Literally. Sebastian is a demon, contracted to Ciel to serve him until Ciel meets his goal: the death of all who conspired to kidnap him and murder his family. Until that time, Sebastian is happy to serve his master in any manner required, whether it be shining the tea service, hunting down murder suspects, or ever-so-politely eliminating all threats to Ciel...other than himself.
The art can be gorgeous, even if it occasionally descends into chibi, the relationship between Sebastian and Ciel is a beautiful study of loyalty and sadism in equal measures, and the plots careen wildly between deadly serious (like a Jack the Ripper arc) and dreadfully frivolous (pretty much anything to do with Ciel's cousin/fiancée, Elizabeth), and occasionally both at the same time.
If you don't mind mental whiplash and a few gratuitous art pieces of Ciel and Sebastian in...suggestive poses and attire, this is definitely a series worth trying....more
While I love Squee as much as the next girl, I just couldn't get behind this compilation of all things left out of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. FillerWhile I love Squee as much as the next girl, I just couldn't get behind this compilation of all things left out of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. Fillerbunny wasn't even remotely entertaining, the "autobiographical" comics had some entertainment value, but they didn't really grab me. About the only (non-Squee) one I really enjoyed was the wannabe vampire finding out that it's not all it's cracked up to be, but that even rubbed me the wrong way given the nature and message JTHM....more
I have to second Chris' observation about the tiny irk of D&D being portrayed as a game for social misfits and the mentally disturbed, but once II have to second Chris' observation about the tiny irk of D&D being portrayed as a game for social misfits and the mentally disturbed, but once I acknowledged that and moved on, I was captivated.
Barbara is compelling in her delusions and her strength in spite of everything. She's got snarky wit, genuine problems, and a variety of animal ears. (I read the notes at the back where the artist did that as a bit of magical realism, but I take it more as an expression of Barbara's own perception of herself—the ears change with her moods.)
I teared up towards the end, which is one of the highest accolades I can pay a book. Really a four-and-a-half stars; an excellent work....more
Dear Die-ary, I stared, motionless, before the mirror. As always, I stayed until I'm convinced that there is no glass, nothing, separating me from theDear Die-ary, I stared, motionless, before the mirror. As always, I stayed until I'm convinced that there is no glass, nothing, separating me from the room I see on the other side. I imagine that everything is different over there. Better. There are people, in that world, who I would like. But, like always, my hand hits the glass. I know that if I'd only waited just one more second... Shit. I'm gonna go kill a party clown.
Johnny—call him Nny—has problems. Nobody gets his humor, Mr. Eff and Mr. Z debate over whether Nny should kill himself, callous, self-centered people stand in judgement over others, it's impossible to get a BrainFreezy after 2 AM, the blood on the wall keeps drying out, his Happy Noodle Boy comics depress him, and the girl he liked kicked him in the head and ran away. It's a good thing he has Nail Bunny and his Die-ary to keep him company, not to mention the boy next door that he's got a soft spot for and inadvertently terrifies on a regular basis.
A (frequently heavy-handed) screed against judging others by their appearances, Vasquez (best known for Invader Zim), has, in JTHM, created a morbidly hilarious look at life, consumerism, and the worst in all of us. And, of course, Happy Noodle Boy, or, as he might put it, "No! Don't leave me, intestinal gas! Please! Don't go!! I thought you loved me!!" ...more
As with all story collections, there's a variance in enjoyment from one to the next. Overall, I found the writing darkly lyrical and the sentiments juAs with all story collections, there's a variance in enjoyment from one to the next. Overall, I found the writing darkly lyrical and the sentiments just a few degrees skewed. The first story in the book is the one that made the biggest impression on me, evoking the feel of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" with its jubilant celebration and human darkness intertwined, but there were others that were just bizarre and, so far as I could interpret, largely pointless....more
I read this back in the waning days of my Ravenloft obsession, and it was definitely one of the better novels of the bunch. An excellent fleshing outI read this back in the waning days of my Ravenloft obsession, and it was definitely one of the better novels of the bunch. An excellent fleshing out of a two-dimensional bad guy, but the world itself remains lackluster in its hopeless dreariness....more
He reaches out to shake my hand like we are both adults and I am not a kid or student anymore, and that's when it hits me that I am on my own, which i
He reaches out to shake my hand like we are both adults and I am not a kid or student anymore, and that's when it hits me that I am on my own, which is scary because even though I'm sixteen I am only a freshman and that is too soon to get kicked out. Plus, I have no skills, and if you do not graduate high school and you have no skills then you are shit out of luck.
So I decide that Principal Olmos is wrong about the hearing and even though he thinks it is a done deal I will make a plan. And the kind of plan I will make is a How-to-Change-Everyone's-Mind-About-Me plan since Principal Olmos is the only one who thinks I am a decent guy, but really, I am not so bad a person once you get to know me.
I'm really torn about the four-star rating on this, as part of my wants to give it five, but I always round down when I'm in any doubt.
I picked this up because I absolutely adored Fat Kid Rules the World, and my only letdown was in the recycled gimmick between them. Fat Kid's Troy spends a lot of time imagining headlines about himself, and Iggy spends a similar amount of time imagining the reactions of people when they realize how awesome Iggy really is. Honestly, that's the only reason for my downgrade.
In all other respects, this is a gut punch picture of families, love, and who really has it worse. It touches on class differences but stays tight to Iggy's perspective, and you really do, after you get to know him, realize that Iggy's not such a bad kid after all....more
This was considerably better than the last, but I just don't think the series can ever again approach what made the first book so much demented fun. AThis was considerably better than the last, but I just don't think the series can ever again approach what made the first book so much demented fun. As anyone who peeks at my personal library is well aware, I am a fan of fantasy. This is not a book that calls for fantasy. The author does best when he keeps Dexter grounded to reality, not when he's trying to make excuses for his sociopath by saying he's got a fragment of an ancient god hiding in his soul. Happily, this book barely makes mention of that tidbit, but I think Dexter Morgan is forever tainted by the revelation.
I liked this one well enough, as Dexter's voice is always an illicit pleasure to read, but I very much doubt I'll bother reading any future titles....more