Monday, September 5, 2011

Plucked From The Pile: Emma, House of Five Leaves and Soul Eater

Emma, Vol. 1Emma Vol. 1 & 2 by Kaoru Mori: After reading A Bride’s Story and being blown away with Kaoru Mori’s artwork, several fellow bloggers made references to  her previous work, Emma. It is published under the now defunct DC Comics imprint CMX, but happily I was able to find some of the series at the library. Mori’s artwork is as meticulous as ever as she brings to life Victorian England.
Emma: Vol. 2Emma is a story about a young girl who grew-up on the streets and now works as a maid. She meets the son of a wealthy family, William, and as all these type of stories go, the relationship is forbidden due to their differences in class. It's a simple and common plot line but the characters are interesting and by the end of Vol. 2 it’s uncertain where the story will go. I would love to get into this series but as it’s out of print I’m afraid of never being able to find out how it ends.
Emma by Kaoru Mori was published by CMX but is now out of print. There are ten volumes in all.

House of Five Leaves, Vol. 3House of Five Leaves Vol. 3 by Natsume Ono:  I found myself a little confused in the beginning of this book, perhaps because too much time passed since I read the previous volume, or maybe because I have been watching the anime version, which is similar but not quite the same as the books.
When fellow Leaves member, Matsu, is kidnapped, Masa goes undercover to help free him. Masa finds himself to be an integral member of the House of Five Leaves, whether he wanted to or not.  It also appears that his new acquaintance, Yagi, is a police officer and he must operate carefully to protect the other members. Masa’s sister also pays a an unexpected visit.
House of Five Leaves by Natsume Ono is published by Viz Signature under IKKI Comix. Vol. 4 is set to be released later this month.

Soul Eater, Vol. 6 (Soul Eater, #6)Soul Eater Vol. 6 by Atsushi Ohkubo: This volume is all action as the story reaches its pinnacle with a showdown between Medusa and the DWMA, as she tries to execute her nefarious plan to use the black blood to revive the Kishin that lies beneath the DWMA. Each DWMA team has an adversary to defeat as they race through the underground maze that lead to the Kishin’s Shrine. What will happen now that the madness has been released? Interesting scenarios, likable characters and lots of humour make this series work.
Soul Eater by Atushi Ohkubo is published by Yen Press. Next volume released in October.
That’s last week’s pile. What did you read this week?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

More From the Pile: Black Butler, Blue Exorcist, Nura and Bakuman

I finally made a dent in my “to read” pile. Things are looking a lot more reasonable now.  I ran into a computer glitch last week, and while it appears to be resolved for now, somehow I think the inevitable will happen soon and I’ll have to replace my computer. So while things are running this is what I plucked from the pile this week:

Black Butler, Vol. 6Black Butler Vol. 6: Thankfully it’s at the start of a new story arc and I was glad to have the story back on track. In this volume Ciel is sent to investigate the disappearance of several children. None of the children have come up dead so the focus turns to a circus that happens to be in town. Naturally Ciel and  his butler, Sebastian, must join the circus to investigate. They soon find out that they are not the only ones searching for answers as they meet up with the Grim Reaper. Readers find out a little more about the Reaper’s role as well a few hints of Sebastian’s devilish intentions.
Black Butler Vol. 6 by Yana Toboso is published by Yen Press, and the next volume is set to be released late October.

Blue Exorcist, Volume 3Blue Exorcist 3: The first part of this volume is the story about Father Fujimoto’s familiar demon cat named Kuro. Learning of Fujimoto’s death leads Kuro to turn wild. Rin and Yukio, armed with a special weapon left to Yukio by the Father, arrive to diffuse the situation. For the first time we see that Rin has the ability to hear and communicate with demons.
In the rest of this volume we learn a little more about Amaimon , the King of Earth, when he tests Rin’s abilities by stealing the Koma sword. There is some kind of plan between Amaimon and Mephisto Pheles but we don’t know if it is for good or evil. 
A new character, Shura Kirigakur, is introduced. She is a Knight and a senior exorcist first class who seems to be against wearing clothes. Shura had been working undercover at the school, keeping her eye on Rin, but revealed her presence after Amaimon’s attack on Rin.  She had been asked by Father Fugimoto to teach Rin how to use his Koma Sword in order to control his powers.
This series is still a lot of fun to follow although I’m not too fond of the new character. There is still enough intrigue to keep me interested.
Blue Exorcist by Kazue Kato is published by Viz Media, and Volume 4 will be available early October.

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Volume 4Nura Rise of the Yokai Clan 4: The Nura lands are being invaded by yokai from Shikoku. Rikuo’s grandfather, the current Nura Overlord, has disappeared. In an effort maintain order within the clan and to deal with the invaders, Rikuo is forced to assume command. The trouble is that during the daytime Rikuo must assume human form and is therefore vulnerable. The Nura clan rally around him to keep him safe. Rikou’s school is been infiltrated by a powerful yokai, Inugami. Fearing for the safety of the other students at the school, Rikuo must find a way to defeat him even though he is still in his human form.
I’ve probably mentioned this before, but my favorite thing about this series is the artwork. The inking is done by brush, which gives a fluid look that I find refreshing.
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan by Hiroshi Shiibashi  is published by Vis Medai.  Volume 5 is to be released in October.

Bakuman, Volume 6Bakuman₀ Volume 6:   Well, Mashiro and Takagi are finally where they want to be. They are serialized in Shonen Jump with “Detective Trap” and have just scored the opportunity to  have color pages run for Chapter 19, along with the release of the fist graphic novel. Just when they  are ready to enjoy their success, disaster strikes. Exhausted from overwork and poor eating, Mashiro’s bad habits catch up with him and he ends up in hospital suffering from malnourishment and a liver condition that requires surgery. Alarmed by this turn of events, the magazine’s editor in chief, Sasaki, wants to put Detective Trap on hiatus until the boys graduate High School. Unhappy with the editor’s decision, Mashiro and Takagi do everything in their power to convince him otherwise. 
I found this volume a little difficult to accept because of the decision to keep working despite illness. The urgency with which to boys continue seems a bit over the top. Where are the boy’s parents? I find it difficult to think that they would let the boys, who are only 15-16 years old, make decisions that lead to them working themselves to death.
Credibility aside, there is still and infectious quality to this story. The way all the mangaka band together to convince the editor to let the series continue is energizing. I enjoyed the part where Mashiro insists on coloring in the hospital with a pile of Copic markers, which are my current obsession.
Bakuman by Tsugumi Ohba andTakeshi Obata is published by Viz Media . Volume 7 comes out in October.
There is still more on my pile, and I am happily working my way through it. How big is your too read pile? What titles do have waiting to be read?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Soul Eater by Atsushi Ohkubo

Soul Eater Volumes 1-5
Soul Eater, Vol. 3 (Soul Eater, #3)I admit I may have misjudged this series.  A while back when I picked up volume 1 of Soul Eater, I was unimpressed and in fact it angered me. It seemed that it was all just an attempt at gaining an audience through the use of gratuitous ‘fan service’ that was totally unnecessary, and masked what could have been an interesting storyline. So I left the series alone. After some time passed and new volumes kept coming out, and there was a lot of merchandise themed on the series in the stores, I figured I must of missed something. I decided to give it another shot.
I was glad to discover that the next volumes had really toned down the panty shots and concentrated on interesting story lines.
Quick Summary:  The two main characters are Soul and Maka, students at the Death Weapon Academy (DWMA), where students work, mostly in pairs. One of the pair trains to be a Meister, who wields the weapon in battle, and the other becomes the weapon (through some sort of shapeshifting). The duos are tasked with taking the soul of those on a list, who are usually evil. The more souls the duos consume, the stronger the meisters become and the higher in rank they are. 
Soul Eater, Vol. 5 (Soul Eater, #5)
What makes this series work is that it’s full of interesting and amusing characters that are based on fairly routine supernatural beings such as zombies, Frankenstein, medusa, witches, and cats and so on, but characters are given interesting flaws and quirks that keeps it interesting. For instance, one of my favorite characters is Death the Kid, who is the son of the Shinigami (death reaper) in charge of the academy. Kid has an obsession symmetry which leads to all kinds of difficulty for him: even his weapons had to be symmetrical. In a cruel irony, Kid’s hair has a white streak on one side that makes him asymmetrical.  
The most unique aspect of this series is the artwork. It is very different form the manga I have come across so far. The characters have a distinct look but what stands out the most is the environment. The Academy is a castle of skulls, and the sky has either a sun or a moon that laughs mockingly.
Skipping volume 1, I would recommend this series for older teens; it is entertaining and full of humour.
Soul Eater is by Atsushi Ohkubo and is published by Yen Press. Volume 7 is to be released in October. The anime series is also available through Funimation.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Maid Sama Collection 1

Maid Sama
Maid Sama Collection 1
Format: DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars(5)
Release Date: June 7, 2011

Buy new: $49.98 $29.99
14 used & new from $28.77

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Studio: Section23 Films Release Date: 06/07/2011 Run time: 325 minutes Read more

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Sgt. Frog: Season Three, Part Two

Sgt. Frog
Sgt. Frog: Season Three, Part Two
Jamie Marchi (Actor), Leah Clark (Actor), Colleen Clinkenbeard (Director) | Format: DVD
Release Date: August 23, 2011

Buy new: $39.98 $21.99

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Keroro is Sergeant Frog – the leader of a platoon of warriors sent to conquer planet Earth. But when the amphibious invaders discovered how much humans enjoy dissecting their comrades, the troops were scattered, the mission was aborted, and Keroro was abandoned. Now, this once proud soldier spends more time wielding a vacuum than he does the weapons of war. It’s a far cry from the glory of battle, but hey, at least he’s got his own room. And though the invasion may have slowed to a hop, Sergeant Frog still occasionally yearns to overcome his karaoke addiction and reassemble his troops. Watch out world, the frogs are taking over. Read more

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