I'll be up-front, 20th Century Boys is not my normal manga reading taste. I've read it before, in scanlations (I stress I read it before I knew it was...moreI'll be up-front, 20th Century Boys is not my normal manga reading taste. I've read it before, in scanlations (I stress I read it before I knew it was licensed in America), well most of it anyhow, and enjoyed it throughly then. The art style is reminiscent of simpler manga. Its not in way shape or form 'simple', but the heavy detail work is reserved for background scenary, while everything else relies very little on shading and tone. Urasawa draws very expressive people, their faces and their bodies are always in use to convey their words.
The first volume sets the stage so to speak. The story begins at the beginning of the 21st Century as a very important man introduces the group of people who 'saved' humanity from a terrible incident. Well I should say the story begins with someone, in 1973, hijacking the school's PA System to play rock and roll over the airwaves, then goes to the important and his speech. The volume itself jumps between 1997 (the 'present' so to speak) and the years of 1968-1979 as Kenji, our protagonist, moves through his daily life.
Often Kenji will remember a certain event, or string of events, from his childhood that he will fondly recall. The formation of his friends' secret club. Hanging out with 'Donkey'. Getting his first guiter. Those sorts of things. As the story progresses from one friend's wedding to the news of another's friend's apparent suicide, things begin to look darker. How is their friend's suicide tied to the missing Professor and his family? Why did he send Kenji a letter days before his death, saying he'd explain everything? Why is a symbol from their childhood appearing all over again?
Interspersed with the lives of Kenji and Co are short digressions into what can only be called cult gatherings. Hundreds (if not more) of people are gathered to witness 'The Friend' 's instructive speeches about how they can all be more tranquil when one with him and how the world will burn, but they will be safe as his 'friends'. The group's symbol is the same symbol from Kenji's childhood as are the 'teachings' of the mysterious 'Friend'.
While I'm interested in finding out more about this 'Friend' I was drawn more to the lives of Kenji and his friends and how they've changed since they were children. The end of the volume, when Kenji thinks about what their child selves would think of their adult selves rings very true I think. If you were to go back and ask your ten year old self how they think of your 30 year old self--do you think they'd be happy? Sad? Laugh at you?
Viz does a splendid job presenting the book. Its larger then many of their current series (closer in size to the old GN's from the 90's), but it works well for the formatting. The print is clear, with minimal amounts of translator notes (in fact there were only four in the entire volume) placed safely to the side to explain topical references (such as a reference to an old radio program, an old manga series, etc). The end of the volume has a couple pages more of explanatory notes--about the honorifics used as well as more detailed information about a few cultural things. I like the fact the book has jacket flaps in the back and front (the book reads right to left, standard manga format) it made the few times I had to hold a place for some reason easier then folding down a corner or just leaving it open. The binding is tight, but flexible enough so that you don't have to crack the spine to open the book enough to read the edges.
As I mention above the series is complete at 22 volumes in Japan, but there is a shorter 2 volume 'sequel' series called '21st Century Boys', also licensed by Viz. Additionally there is a trio of live action adaptation movies--the first two are already out in Japan with the third due out in the fall 2009 and recently the first part of the triology was made available in the UK on DVD.
Incidentally the manga takes its name from the classic rock song '20th Century Boy' by a band called T. Rex (I have no other knowledge beyond this, being not a rock fan, sorry!).(less)
And the mystery deepens! How is a childhood game played by Kenji and his friends related to this mysterious 'Friend' and his plans for the world? Why...moreAnd the mystery deepens! How is a childhood game played by Kenji and his friends related to this mysterious 'Friend' and his plans for the world? Why is Kenji the one person who can save humanity? Who is the 'Friend'? Could it be Otcho, the leader of the gang when they were kids, mysteriously missing for these 9 years? Why exactly does the 'Friend' world domination is the end all plan?
In the second volume of 20th Century Boys things begin to grow murkier as Kenji investigates further into his friend Donkey's 'suicide' and the mysterious symbol from his youth. I can easily understand why people can liken the narrative progression to that of the tv series Lost. The 'present', 1997, is used as the jumping up point. From there we jump back and forth between events of Kenji's childhood that directly relate to the current issues. Every so often events jump to December of 2000--when a disaster is about to change the world.
We learn more about Kiriko, Kanna's mother and Kenji's older sister, who raised Kenji and saved him more often then he thought from death. Through his memories we easily can see why he feels it is so important for him to take care of Kanna and no one else. We meet and learn more about Yukiji, a relentless tomboy from Kenji's youth who was one day 'saved' by Kenji from the neighborhood bullies. A homeless man who is called 'Kamisama' (God) by his fellows because he can see into the future on occasion dreams of the destruction to come and how to perhaps prevent it.
Once again Viz's presentation is wonderful and makes reading this series enjoyable. This is, in many ways, a hard manga to read for casual readers. There isn't a lot of 'action' or such, outside of the scifi elements and Friend plot, this is more about life and how life changes you. From Kenji's regrets that his sister was never able to do what she wanted because she was constantly caring for him to Yukiji's disappointment that Kenji couldn't stand up to the 'knight in shining armor' she remembered from her youth.
Volume 3 is due out in June, with volume 4 following in August, five following in October and 6 following in December. If Viz holds to schedule, you really only to wait every other month for the series, which is wonderful because this is a series you don't want to lose a grasp of the details on.(less)
Kieli is a manga that I picked up for no other reason then I had extra money and it looked interesting. That's the honest truth. I'd heard nothing abo...moreKieli is a manga that I picked up for no other reason then I had extra money and it looked interesting. That's the honest truth. I'd heard nothing about it, didn't read it in the store first, didn't even look at the back cover! I just felt like I had to read it. I'm glad I had that feeling, Kieli is a wonderful manga.
The story opens with a short recounting of the War and the Undying. The War was pretty brutal, made more brutal by the Undying--soldiers stitched together from dead men who were practically invincible. Imagine a tireless army that could keep fighting, healing and continuing...its no wonder at the end of the War the people turned on the Undying and wanted them exterminated quickly. They wanted it all swept under the rug like dirty laundry.
We then meet a young Kieli who innocently remarks to her Grandmother that she knows there is no God in their world. "On this planet...there is no god." Shortly thereafter she witnesses the execution of a 'wicked man', an Undying, by the Church's soldiers. Without really stating so Kieli feels an affinity for the Undying, men who were considered weird and wicked because of who they were. Kieli has a secret as well--she can see spirits.
This lands her in a mess of trouble quite often, as well as almost complete ostracizing from her classmates. Now an orphan we meet Kieli as a teenager attending a boarding school. Alone except for her friend Becca, Kieli tries to keep to herself.
I think what I liked most about Kieli, the character, is that without real intentions she sets herself apart from everyone else and acts in an honest and forthright way. It's not so much she doesn't believe in God, as it is she doesn't believe that God ever existed on their planet. That he got lost, or impatient as the colonists found a new home centuries ago. She cares, to a fault, and wants to help everyone, but she is such an introverted person that its hard for her to express that to the living.
Harvey though, well that's an argument for philosopher's I suppose. He's an Undying, so is he really alive? He can die--shoot out his heart and he'll die quickly enough, but that's about all that can kill him. In the span of the volume he's shot, nearly decapitated, sliced in half almost, run over by a train, and burned. Yet he gets back up, repairs and moves on.
Rounding out the trio is the Corporal--a 'friend' of Harvey's from the days of War who's spirit is trapped in an old radio. Harvey made some sort of promise to the Corporal and he intends to see it through. The Corporal is a fiery-tempered spirit who is very protective of Harvey. He's also a little lewd, irritating and obnoxious--but he's loyal as well.
Overall Kieli is a fun read. Its a little slow at times but the characters make up for it I think.(less)
I cried the first time I read volume 2. Not from sadness but from utter frustration with Harvey and Kieli and the Corporal. I could smack them all for...moreI cried the first time I read volume 2. Not from sadness but from utter frustration with Harvey and Kieli and the Corporal. I could smack them all for being so pigheaded. You know that old story about the old woman who chops off her hair to get her husband pipe tobacco for his pipe and the old man who sold his pipe to get the hairclip for his wife's beautiful hair? That's how it felt reading volume 2.
It did however make my love Harvey a little more.
The story wraps itself up nice and neatly with room for the reader to 'expand' upon their adventures (though in reality just read the light novel series, it tells more about their adventures). The action is higher in this volume and I appreciated that we learned more about the past of the world. And the poor Corporal.
We learn a good deal about Harvey before/after the War and its a little heartbreaking honestly. Like his real name and the fact that the evil evil evil church is evil. Er. Well I guess you can't blame the religion for the followers right? A particularly nasty sort follows after Kieli and Harvey after the debacle last volume, tracking them down and making a horrid nuiscance of himself.
I do like the ending, I really do and it made me eager to read the novel series.(less)
I never thought I'd read/pick this up. Not because I'm a X-men purist or enthusiast (the opposite really, I'm rather indifferent to 95% of the Marvel...moreI never thought I'd read/pick this up. Not because I'm a X-men purist or enthusiast (the opposite really, I'm rather indifferent to 95% of the Marvel universe's inhabitants), but because it just never made me 'Need have now'. It's pretty and I really like the artwork and I've been a fan of Dave Roman's since Jax Epoch (Flannel Sorceress, you know you want to read it now), but I have already so much I collect that I thought I'd let it go until I had extra money.
Oh well I make mistakes sometimes.
Prompted by an urge to pick up Deader Still by Anton Strout, for him to sign at the upcoming Brooklyn Book Festival this weekend, I had a little time left over and decided to read a graphic novel or two. But I've caught up on all my series (yes I spend that much time in the bookstore) so I browsed and came upon Misfits. Kitty Pryde is a character that I like only sometimes--not in the movies, but in X-Men Evolution and Wolverine & the X-Men I like her a lot. In the comics...meh.
This is definitely a shoujo lover's dream--reasonably attractive girl gets sent smack into the middle of a *special* school filled with ultra-hot guys who fight to gain her attention. They fight often too. I wouldn't say that Kitty doesn't have some redeeming qualities--she is smart, loyal, a good person who believes in helping people, but I think that if she had been transferred into a school with a more even ratio of girls to guys, she wouldn't have been latched upon so quickly.
Her admirers include: Pyro, Angel, Forge, Quicksilver, Havok and Nightcrawler, with appearances from Gambit, Cyclops, and Iceman. To be fair, really only Pyro and Angel make any sort of 'serious' play for her (with Pyro by far leading that charge), everyone else has varying degrees of friendship interest. Except maybe Iceman. But he plays things very close to the chest.
The shoujo re-imaginings of some of my favorite X-men (and not so favorite) was interesting to say the least. Um Xavier walks. Magneto is...amusing more then menacing. Storm is rocking a mohawk (so anyone who remembers Storm from the 90's X-Men episodes in the future? Yeah that's her), Jean is a professor but currently off looking for people to recruit, Cyclops is a STUDENT. I liked how a lot of the re-done character traits became more 'shoujo' hero like. I think the fit was pretty good for the most part. I'm not as keen on Iceman's re-imagining, because I don't remember him being so...aloof and isolationist in the comics, but I'll forgive them. They had Gambit. And he was hot. And he cooked. I can't ask for nothing more.
Closer to the end Roman and Telgemeier work in a more serious conflict, slowly percolating a romance that develops between Kitty and one of the other guys and then channeling that into the conflict at the end. There isn't a lot of outside intrusion, since the story is set at the Xavier Institute, but when there is it goes...BLAMMY. Also some of the comic elements made a crossover--Cyclops and Havok being brothers for instance, Havok's wonky sudden power surge, Magneto's fanaticism in regards to Mutant Rights and Xavier's Pacifist approach, Magneto's Hellfire Club (though in this its more of an elite clique at the school).
I thoroughly enjoyed Misfits. A lot. I want an art print of Gambit now. Please? Anyway (back on topic) the end gives us a brief summary of what volume 2 will be like in light of some of the...changes at the end of volume 1. More girls (please please please Rogue. Please. Pretty please. And Jubilee. Pretty pretty please), drama and angst abounds in volume 2...with no actual tentative due date. Ah well. I'll be in line for it anyway!(less)
Prelim Review: Kaoru Mori is a favorite manga-ka. Her artwork is gorgeous, her stories are engaging without being flashy and her historical attention...morePrelim Review: Kaoru Mori is a favorite manga-ka. Her artwork is gorgeous, her stories are engaging without being flashy and her historical attention to detail is stunning. Emma (Victorian Romance Emma) was a treat for my eyes and mind with Mori's rendering of Victorian England. She uses small things to convey so much emotion.
This all said, her series aren't for everyone. There are very few 'action' scenes throughout her works. There are a few more in this volume, with Amir hunting rabbits or later Karluk's grandmother standing up to Amir's family, but overall one shouldn't go into Mori's work expecting thrilling action sequences that keep the blood moving.
Full review to be posted at Poisoned Rationality(less)
Prelim Review: I adore Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex. Its one of my top five animes of all time quite frankly, so when I saw Kodansha America...morePrelim Review: I adore Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex. Its one of my top five animes of all time quite frankly, so when I saw Kodansha America releasing the manga I got excited.
Except this is literally a scene by scene rehash of the first episode of series one (the 'Laughing Man' season). I'm pretty sure if I read this while watching the first episode it would match up almost perfectly. I don't know how I feel about that. I was hoping this would be more stories with the Section 9 crew (canon with Solid State Society or not).
There is also the matter of the artwork, which is good and sufficient for the purposes, but leaves many of the characters looking...flat. Devoid of emotion. The Major (Motoko) especially as she is fully cybernetic. The spark that the anime gives her because of movement is lost here unfortunately.
Full Review to be posted at Poisoned Rationality(less)
Prelim review: Cardcaptor Sakura (or CCS or Cardcaptors if you grew up with the Americanized version of the anime :rolls eyes: ) was one of the first...morePrelim review: Cardcaptor Sakura (or CCS or Cardcaptors if you grew up with the Americanized version of the anime :rolls eyes: ) was one of the first mangas I read way back in the late 90's when my obsession first began. At the time a company named Mixx (later to be called Tokyopop) was releasing each chapter as an individual comic, later collecting them into volumes smaller then a reader's digest. At the time I was reading really only four series; CCS, Sailor Moon, Inu-Yasha and No Need for Tenchi--so basically two 'magical girl' series, a historical shounen and...whatever category Tenchi falls into (harem? comedy?). CCS was my first exposure to CLAMP as a group and its probably one of their less twisted, mind-numbing series quite frankly.
I want to get this out of the way now, my only problem with Dark Horse's omnibus releases of the previously released CLAMP titles is that the omnibus' are so HEAVY. Even right now, nearly two hours after reading that 570+page tome (published on what appears to be high-grade paper--its not the cheap almost newspaper like stuff TP used originally) and my right wrist feels weak and shaky.
This first volume contains the first 3 volumes (which is pretty much the 'this is the cast' and 'this is how the world works' volumes) of Sakura's adventures while trying to catch all the 'Clow Cards'. Its also Li's introduction to the series and all the background information you could ever want or need in regards to how friendships began, Sakura became a Cardcaptor, family dynamics and the tendrils of romance a young girl (or boy) feel at 10 years old.
Full review to be published at Poisoned Rationality(less)
Prelim Review: I read this a long time ago, but having only recently acquired the rest of the series, I decided to re-read it. I forgot how...annoying...morePrelim Review: I read this a long time ago, but having only recently acquired the rest of the series, I decided to re-read it. I forgot how...annoying the entire cast is at first. Perhaps because the anime gets this all out of the way quicker I forgot, but Shito is a bipolar jerk, Chika is a loudmouth jerk and Michiru is so...milquetoast I just wanted her to die. And then she did and then she came back and the story became slightly more interesting.
Seriously though I spent most of this book anticipating the next book (that bring ins Shiba! Oh Shiba!) and this time around I liked Yomi so much more than I did years ago.
Prelim Review: This volume rocks because SHIBA is introduced. SHIBA who is all 'Eh life' and 'WHY ARE YOU NOT MAKING THIS FIGHT TO THE DEATH MORE INTE...morePrelim Review: This volume rocks because SHIBA is introduced. SHIBA who is all 'Eh life' and 'WHY ARE YOU NOT MAKING THIS FIGHT TO THE DEATH MORE INTERESTING FOR ME??' he's just as much fun as he was when I first read this. Shito's jealousy is way downplayed here though (its up-played in the anime) so that was interesting and Chika is just so adorable.
This does not make Shito, Chika or Michiru any more likeable (though Chika comes close)--but I enjoyed the mystery behind it. Even if I did know the end result (sadly).
Prelim Review: And...we're back to the mildly interesting. It gets MORE interesting about halfway through (though Otsu-san come back to meeee), but go...morePrelim Review: And...we're back to the mildly interesting. It gets MORE interesting about halfway through (though Otsu-san come back to meeee), but gods why are Chika and Shito such jerks? I mean, maybe its because its on the page? I don't remember them being so bossy or condescending towards Michiru before.(less)
Prelim Review: Er...okay straight up I love Shinkai's movies. I love all of them--they are some of the most thought-provoking, gorgeous and wonderfull...morePrelim Review: Er...okay straight up I love Shinkai's movies. I love all of them--they are some of the most thought-provoking, gorgeous and wonderfully scripted anime movies I've seen (next to the Ghibli/Miyazaki stuff). 5 Centimeters Per Second is not my favorite (that's reserved for 'The Place Promised in our Early days'), but I've still seen it enough to repeat some of the lines. In Japanese.
That said, this is a very faithful and thoughtful adaptation of that movie. It manages to bridge some lightly touched upon subjects in the movie itself (expanded upon some of the characters and their feelings), while still remaining fresh.
The art is...okay. Shinkai doesn't go for the overly dramatic art for his characters or their surroundings--details emerge gradually, but are never WAM in your face. Soft color palettes and lines are more his style and that's represented quite well here. But what works in animation--where there's other factors that you focus on and can enhance your viewing enjoyment--doesn't work as well here. Everything was too muted feeling, too soft.
Full review to be posted at Poisoned Rationality(less)
Regardless of what anyone says, I enjoy Dramacon for the utter fun that its meant to be. Chmakova, who's working on a whole host of Yen Press series r...moreRegardless of what anyone says, I enjoy Dramacon for the utter fun that its meant to be. Chmakova, who's working on a whole host of Yen Press series right now, manages to convey some of the wonder and crazy that is an anime convention--as well as some of the pitfalls that can occur.
As one of the first OEL mangas ('Original English Language') I read back in the day, after I had found conventions mind you, I found it entertaining. Now, some years later, I still find it fun and light, though I wish it could have gone on longer.(less)