Sesho's Anime And Manga Reviews
My main focus is reviewing manga and anime, but I also review Japanese literature, movies, and videogames. Basically, if it has anything to do with Japan, I'll talk about it, along with a dash of Korea and China.

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  • Episode 70: Wild Ones Volume 1 by Kiyo Fujiwara

    Podcast Episode 70: Wild Ones Volume 1 Manga Review. Written and drawn by Kiyo Fujiwara. Translated and adapted by Mai Ihara. Originally published by Hakushensha in Japan in 2005. Published in US by Viz under their Shojo Beat imprint. $8.99, Rated T for Teen.

    In this romantic comedy, 15-year-old Sachie Wakamura is in a bit of a tight spot. Her mother has just died, leaving her with no living relatives. At least that is what her mother had told her. She's about to be kicked out of her home when a black limousine pulls up and an old man named Raizo Asagi steps out, claiming to be her grandfather. He offers her a place to stay but Sachie is shocked to find out that her grandpa is a Yakuza big shot with plenty of criminal thugs living at his home. A young man named Rakuto is assigned to be her personal bodyguard. He even attends her new school, where he is the student body president and is uber popular. Rakuto and Sachie finds themselves falling for each other, but Rakuto feels that he cannot start a romantic relationship with her because his duty to her grandfather outweighs any personal feelings he has.

    My Grade: B-

    Direct download: Episode_70--Wild_Ones_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:12pm CST

    Episode 69: Zegapain Volume 1

    Zegapain Volume 1 Anime DVD Podcast review. Directed by Masami Shimoda. Series Composition by Mayori Sekishima. Released by Bandai Entertainment, Episodes 1-5, 125 minutes, $29.98.

    High schooler Kyo Sogoru has no academic interest except swimming, if that counts as an academic subject. He's still able to ace his classes though. His current problem is finding a way to attract new members to the swim team. As of now, he is the only member. His former teammates don't want anything to do with him because a couple years back, he lost his temper and caused an incident at a swim meet which disqualified his team. Bigger events begin to shape his world as a mysterious girl draws him into another world where he is a mecha co-pilot battling against the Gardsorms. Who knows which world is real, or are they both? All he knows is that if he fights, the mysterious girl will consent to be in a film promotion for the swim team!

    My Grade: C

    Direct download: Episode_69--Zegapain_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:37pm CST

    Episode 68:Naruto Volume 4 by Masashi Kishimoto

    Podcast Episode 68 Manga Review: Naruto Volume 4 by Masashi Kishimoto. Translated by Mari Morimoto. Adapted by Jo Duffy. Originally published in 1999 in Japan by Shueisha. Published in US by Viz under their Shonen Jump imprint. Price: $7.95, Rated T for Teen.

    After apparently seeing Sasuke get killed by Haku, Naruto flies into a rage, releasing the power of the demon sealed inside of him. Meanwhile Kakashi is locked in his own battle with Zabuza even as Inari tries to marshal the people of his village to rise up against Gato's legions of rogue ninjas and help his new found friends. Even if Cell 7 survives the battle, they will have to face an even tougher test...the Chunin Exam. If they pass, they will progress to the next ninja rank.

    My Grade: A+

    Direct download: Episode_68--Naruto_Volume_4.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:26pm CST

    Solty Rei Volume 2

    Anime DVD review for Solty Rei Volume 2. Directed by Yoshimasa Hiraike. Script by Noboru Kimura. Funimation, $29.98, Episodes 7-10, 100 minutes.

    Things are getting shaken up in the Roy Revant household as the outlaw Rose moves in after her hideout is raided by the authorities. Roy has already had a difficult enough time adjusting to living with Solty so to put it mildly, he's not overjoyed at the prospect of a new guest. In fact he tells Rose that he never agreed to let her stay and wants her out. It turns out that Rose is there for an ulterior motive. She wants Solty to join her criminal gang. Ok, they're really not that bad because like Robin Hood, Rose and her two brothers steal to pay for medicine for the poor. If Rose gets a kick out of as well, who's to say whether she's bad or not? But she does have a bit of a dark past that is revealed when she passes the man that murdered her family on the street. It's not all bad news for Rose though as she hooks up romantically with a handsome RUC agent, complete with a silver plate covering part of his face Phantom of the Opera-style.

    A big complaint I have about this show is that its characters are design challenged. For example, Rose has a big hunk of hair that falls in front of her face that looks like a plastic electric circuit. Her boots are too big and look like they would fly off the first time she ran. Solty's large green substitute cat/goat ears look like someone stuck a steel bar through her head. Roy Revant goes the opposite way and is probably one of the most boring looking anime characters of all time. The second volume of Solty Rei finds the show a bit adrift as Roy's job as a bounty hunter seems to have taken a back seat to the drama that is Rose's life. We hardly even see him battle one Resemble thug and that's not all bad. The writers seemed to want to focus more on the relationships and the personalities of the characters, mainly Rose. Sadly, Solty suffers the most within this focus because she has the mind of a elementary school kid and is playing the "blank slate" stereotype. Still, this second volume was entertaining in its own way if you were getting tired of all the tough guy posing from the first volume.  The animation is decent, but the CG can be jarring at times, and the character's faces lack a lot in the expression department.

    My Grade: B

     

    Category:Anime DVD Reviews -- posted at: 1:46pm CST

    Episode 67: Naruto Volume 3 by Masashi Kishimoto

    Podcast Episode 67: Manga Review for Naruto Volume 3. Written and drawn by Masashi Kishimoto. Translated by Mari Morimoto. Adapted by Jo Duffy. Originally published in Japan by Shueisha in 1999. Published in US by Viz under their Shonen Jump label. $7.95, Rated T for Teen.

    Instead of waiting around doing nothing while they rest up for a second confrontation with Zabauza, Kakashi prepares a new training exercise for Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura. To teach them how to focus their Chakra, he wants them to climb trees...without using their hands! When they express disbelief at their assignment, Kakashi proceeds to walk up the side of the tree, crutches and all, and hang upside down while he talks to them. Sakura gets to see firsthand what Gato's grip has done to the city as she accompanies Tazuna through its depressing streets filled with people who have lost all hope of things getting any better. Naruto's team hopes to change all that.

    My Grade: A+

    Direct download: Episode_67--_Naruto_Volume_3.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:10am CST

    Episode 66: Hell Girl Volume 1

    Episode 66: Hell Girl Volume 1 Anime DVD review. Directed by Takahiro Omori. Volume 1 has Episodes 1-5 and runs 125 minutes. Funimation, $29.98.

    There is an urban legend that tells that if you want revenge against someone you can log on to Hell Link at midnight and ask Hell Girl to accept your request. It is true that she use her powers to take revenge on those that are making your life miserable and can send them straight to Hell. The catch is that you too will go to Hell in the end. Are you filled with such hate and anguish that you would give up your own soul to see your tormentor suffer an eternity of pain and agony?

    My Grade: A-

    Direct download: Episode_66--_Hell_Girl_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:23pm CST

    Episode 65: Ai Yori Aoshi Volume 17 by Kou Fumizuki

    Podcast Episode 65: An overview of the series Ai Yori Aoshi  and a review of Volume 17 by Kou Fumizuki. Translated by Alethea and Athena Nibley. Adapted by Jamie S. Rich. Originally published in Japan by Hakushensha in 2005. Published in the US by Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated Mature 18+.

    Aoi is still being held by Kaoru's half-brother, an odd sort of doppleganger, who wishes to take Kaoru's place as head of the Hanabishi and become Aoi's husband. He's been holding her captive but Kaoru has arrived on the scene to free her. But even if he does the two lovers still have to get the approval of Aoi's parents if they ever hope to make peace.

    My Grade: B
    Direct download: episode_65--ai_yori_aoshi_volume_17.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:51pm CST

    Episode 64: Naruto Volume 2 by Masashi Kishimoto

    Episode 64: Manga Review for Naruto Volume 2 by Masashi Kishimoto. Translated by Katy Bridges and Mari Morimoto. Adapted by Jo Duffy. Originally published in Japan by Shueisha in 1999. Published in the US by Viz as part of their Shonen Jump, $7.95, Rated T for Teens.

    Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura have passed their Genin exam with a bit of hardship and now they are all primed for their new duties as junior ninjas. Unfortunately, they get all the crap assignments like hunting down a pet cat for an important government official. Naruto convinces the Hokage to give the team something a bit more challenging. Amused at Naruto's passion and lack of restraint, he gives them a mission a bit out of their league. Naruto's team must escort a bridgebuilder named Tazuna back to his home in the Land of the Waves. They're supposed to protect him from any dangers on the road like bandits, but they quickly find out that a very influential crook wants Tazuna dead, and he's willing to send out some very skilled ninja to do the deed!

    My Grade: A

    Direct download: Episode_64--Naruto_Volume_2.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:34pm CST

    Episode 63: The Law of Ueki Volume 8 by Tsubasa Fukuchi

    Podcast Episode 63: Manga Review for The Law of Ueki Volume 8 by Tsubasa Fukuchi. Translated and adapted by Yoshiko Tokuhara and Filomila Papakonstantinou. Originally published in Japan by Shogakukan in 2003. Published in the US by Viz, $9.99, Rated T for Teen.

    Volume 8 picks up mid-battle in a contest between Rinko and Kabara as they battle in the Cat Field. Basically what this means is that have been shrunk down inside a normal house inhabited by hungry cats. The first one to get eaten by a cat loses the match. In addition, you can turn your opponent into a mouse by touching a cat's nose. Then it's on to one of the main events of volume 8 as Ueki faces off against the seemingly treacherous Sano, who for some inexplicable reason has joined Robert's 10. Can Ueki find out why he switched sides and free him from the clutches of Robert Haydn?

    See Episode 37 for an overview of the series and a review of Volume 7.

    My Grade: A

    Direct download: Episode_63--The_Law_of_Ueki_Volume_8.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:37pm CST

    Manga Sisters by Saori & Misato Takarai

    Book Review for Manga Sisters by Saori & Misato Takarai. Translated by Mieko Kurosawa. Published by Manga University, $9.99.

    First up, Manga Sisters is not a manga in the normal sense of the word. Saori and Misato Takarai are sisters that illustrate and draw manga but this book is really about celebrating sisterhood, both its highs and not so lows. Saori is known in Japan for being one of the rare manga artists that works with color but this is Misato's first published work. They grew up in Gunma Prefecture, which is about 60 miles northwest of Tokyo. This hardback book is about two thirds the size of a regular tankoban and is labeled a "gift book" on the back. What it consists of is about 95 pages, half with little Hallmark sayings about sisters in both English and Japanese, with a color manga illustration of the saying facing it. Some of the words and pictures are heartwarming like " A sister's shoulder is the world's most comfortable pillow" that shows a girl asleep on her obviously loving sister's shoulder. Others can be quite humorous. For example, one caption says "She ain't heavy, she's your sister" accompanying a picture of a sister cringing in pain as she lifts her sibling up to see a tall sunflower. There's also a few pages in the back that list hiragana and katakana Japanese characters that gives you help in recognizing and pronouncing them.

    Manga Sisters is obviously intended to be a book that would make a good gift between two sisters, especially if one of them is an anime or manga fan. I mean it even has "To" and "From" blanks following the title page. Does it have any worth to a manga fan in general? I guess I would have to go with "not much".  I mean the pictures are cute and pretty and in combination with the phrases can be amusing, but this is probably a book I will put on the shelf and never open again. Unless you're an absolute nut about moe, you should definitely spend your 10 bucks on a real manga and just glance through this in the bookstore...unless you have a sister that would appreciate it.

     

    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 8:58pm CST

    Episode 62: Tokyo Majin Volume 1

    Podcast Episode 62: Tokyo Majin Volume 1 Anime DVD review. Directed by Shinji Ishihara. Series Composition by Toshizo Nemoto. Character Designs by Jun Nakai. ADV Films, $29.98, Episodes 1-5, 125 minutes.

    Transfer student Tatsumi signals a marked change in the life of Magami High School in modern day Tokyo. He soon gets into an confrontation with thug and wooden sword wielding Kyouichi and gets challenged by wrestling club captain Yuuya. Aoi, student council president, and her best friend, archery club Komaki try to stop them from fighting, but the contest is put on hold when all the action stirs up a demon spirit. During the course of their struggle with the demon, they find that they have strange powers that augment their natural abilities. For instance, Kyouichi's sword and Komaki's bow give them the means to kill demons, while Tatsumi's martial arts skills become even more powerful.

    My Grade: A+

    Direct download: Episode62--Tokyo_Majin_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:14pm CST

    Episode 61: Glass Fleet Volume 1

    Episode 61: Podcast review of Glass Fleet Volume 1. Directed by Minoru Ohara. Series Composition by Shoji Yonemura. Funimation, $29.98, Episodes 1-5, 126 minutes.

    Vetti Sforza promised to overthrow the Allied Nobility and put in place a government that would do right by the people, but after securing his victory, he declares himself Emperor and enslaves the masses he once promised freedom. Another nobleman named Michel Volban fancies himself the savior of Vetti's duped victims and starts an insurrection, an insurrection that seems to be on the verge of failing until a member of the royal family named Cleo arrives on the scene with his glass-like ship that instantly outclasses any that Vetti can send against it. A space opera with hints of 18th century Europe mixed in.

    My Grade: C

    Direct download: episode_61--Glass_Fleet_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:53pm CST

    The Drifting Classroom Volume 8 by Kazuo Umezu

    Manga Review of The Drifting Classroom Volume 8 by Kazuo Umezu. Translated by Yuji Oniki. Originally published by Shogakukan in 1975. Published in US by Viz under their Signature imprint, $9.99, Rated M for Mature.

    Well, finally we have an adult in charge to keep a sense of order about the school in the form of Sekiya, who has come to his senses after being shocked into the mental capacity of an infant. Now he's back to normal, but unfortunately, that means his usual psychotic, murdering self! Most of the kids are so in need of a father figure they're willing to practically become his slaves. And he also begins to fan the flames that maybe Sho is responsible for the explosion that cast them into this wasteland Hell. Sekiya lowers Sho and his buddies into a dry well and tells them they're not coming back up until they strike water. As they begin to dig, they don't find water, but they do find the entrance to a subway tunnel, and eerily, there is still a train running on it. A train that will lead them not only to some monstrous lifeforms, but will also reveal what has happened to their world.

    If you've been reading my blog you've probably aware of my growing frustration with this series. Kazuo Umezu seems to be taking a bit too much glee in torturing these poor kids. We finally get some explanations about what happened to the world so you think maybe the manga is reaching a turning point. But, think again. Just as soon as the kids find a rich water supply, a pipe breaks off from the ceiling, falls in the pool of water and sets off a volcano! I mean, come on, give me a break! Imagine you're watching a movie where a character is wandering through a desert, dehydrated and dying. He finds an oasis with a glistening pond at its center. As soon as he kneels down and puts his lips to the water, he activates a volcano and it starts spewing liquid magma. This is just about as much sense as The Drifting Classroom makes. Sometimes I get the feeling that Sho is just going to click his heels together and say "There's no place like home" and he'll wake up in bed with all the main characters from the manga around him saying he's been asleep with fever and it was all a dream. The whole Sho talking to his mother telepathically thing is becoming equally stupid, as his mom leaves things for Sho in areas that would no longer exist or be able to withstand such extreme aging conditions. Like she left him some glass vials of antibiotics that survived over what might be centuries without breaking or losing their potency. There are just too many ridiculous events to keep me reading in good faith. I want to find out how it ends, but if the next volume is only as good as Volume 8, I will probably stop reading The Drifting Classroom.

    My Grade: C-

    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 8:40pm CST

    Speed Racer Movie Trailer

    Here is the link for the new Speed Racer Movie Trailer due out next summer and directed by the Wachowski Brothers:

    http://movies.aol.com/movie/speed-racer-2008/28066/main

    You can download it in standard format or you can see it in hi-definition, 480p, 720p, or 1080p. Watching the trailer made me go out and buy the Speed Racer manga. There's only one volume and it is out of print but my comic store has a lot of out of print titles. A boxed hardcover set of the Speed Racer manga is due out in February of next year from DMP for 40$. It's called Speed Racer Mach Go Go Go Box Set. You can pre-order at Amazon.com.

    Speed Racer was the first exposure I had to anime like when I was 6 or 7 even though at that time I had no idea what anime was. Then it was on to Battle of the Planets and the rest is history. So it's cool to see the franchise getting such star treatment. You can really see the anime/manga influence in the trailer, best evidenced by the side shot of Speed racing with motion lines running past his head instead of scenery. It looks a bit too videogame-like to me but I trust the Brothers since they made one of the highest intensity car chase sequences in film history in the Matrix Reloaded. Should be exciting. Looks like it will have a lot of color and more humor than you usually see in their movies.

     

    Category:general -- posted at: 3:47pm CST

    Episode 60: Uzumaki Volume 1 by Junji Ito

    Episode 60: Uzumaki Volume 1 by Junji Ito Podcast Review. Translated and adapted by Yuji Oniki. Originally published by Shogakukan in 1998. Published in the US by Viz Signature, $9.99, Rated T+ for Older Teens.

    Kirie Goshima is just trying to enjoy her high school years in the small coastal Japanese town of Kurozu-cho, but her boyfriend, Shuichi, is beginning to think there is something terribly wrong. His father has become more and more obsessed with spirals, even going so far as to stop working. He just sits in his room all day staring at his collection of items with spiral shapes. He can even make his eyes move in circles independently of each other. Things really get out of hand when Kirie sees Shuichi's father hideously extend his grotesque tongue and then curl it like a snail's shell. This is just the beginning of a collection of horror tales about the mysterious pattern which seems to be taking more and more possession of Kurozu's inhabitants. Awesome art combined with creepy storytelling.

    My Grade:A+

    Direct download: Episode_60--Uzumaki_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:11pm CST

    Witchblade Volume 2

    Witchblade Volume 2 Anime DVD Review. Directed by Yoshimitsu Ohashi. Series Composition by Yasuko Kobayashi. Funimation, $29.98, Episodes 5-8, 100 minutes.

    The second volume of Witchblade opens with a confrontation between Masane and the "Cloneblades", minions of the NSWF, who wield copies of the original Witchblade. NSWF sees itself as the rightful owner of the Witchblade and is willing to use hook or crook to get it back from Douji Industries. Reina Soho, the daughter of NSWF's founder, was actually the host of the Witchblade until the big earthquake 6 years ago that devastated Tokyo and led to its choosing of Masane as its next wielder. Now Reina is a Cloneblade but she is beginning to suspect that the copies are somehow absorbing their hosts. Her suspicions are confirmed when Shioro Tsuzuki's Cloneblade begins to drive her to kill innocent people in its lust for blood. We also learn about the one time alliance between Douji and NSWF to research the Witchblade and of the relationship between Reina and Douji's head, Reiji Takayama. And then there's Yusuke, the sometimes seedy photographer that is beginning to become convinced that the bumbling and dim-witted Masane is actually the superpowered monster fighting Witchblade wielder as well.

    The thing I like about Witchblade is the fact that it can be convoluted without becoming confusing. There are a lot of subplots going on with this show, like the former relationship between Reina and Reiji, that are given just enough exposition to make them make sense, but without overloading the viewer's brain with pointless info. This goes for most of the other plot points as well. Volume 2 also fleshes out the characters a bit more and gives them more depth. Reina is especially intruiging because she seems to be a prime factor in the giant earthquake that rocked the country. The battle sequences are handled very well, even if the Cloneblades and Witchblade look a little awkward, moving so fast and agilely in what are essentially costumes taken from an old 1970's KISS concert. And did I neglect to tell you that those costumes have a lot of skin on display? Masane's figleaf barely covers her genital area and most of the females are ready to bust out of their bras...if they even wear one. Sexy fun with gory action and some domestic comedy.

    My Grade: A

    Category:Anime DVD Reviews -- posted at: 6:06pm CST

    Episode 59: Gon Volume 2 by Masashi Tanaka

    Podcast Episode 59: Gon Volume 2 Manga Review. Written and drawn by Masashi Tanaka. Originally published by Kodansha in 1992. Published in the US by CMX, $5.99, Rated T.

    Gon, the last dinosaur left on Earth, is up to his usual adventures in this second volume of one of my favorite series. First up, he is swallowed by a Great White Shark that gets more than he bargained for. Then, Gon is laid low by one of the smallest creatures....a tick that crawls up his nose! Then he gets involved in a battle with an entire forest when a squirrel steals some of his fruit. Then Gon gets cast as an extra in the March of the Penguins. Beautifully drawn, Brilliantly executed, and hilarious. One of the best manga being published.

    My Grade: A+

    Direct download: Episode_59--gonvolume2.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:51pm CST

    The Outcast Volume 1 by Vaun Wilmott and Edward Gan

    Manga Review for The Outcast Volume 1. Story by Vaun Wilmott. Art by Edward Gan. Published by Seven Seas, $9.99, Rated Teen.

    Riley Smythe's parents died mysteriously a couple of months back and she's been hiding out in her grandmother's New York apartment ever since. Now her grandma thinks it's time for Riley to get back into the groove of things. Plus, her grandmother, Maggie, is busy in her job as a Theological Archaeologist, excavating the inner sanctum of the Brotherhood of the Balance that lies beneath her apartment. The Brotherhood was a secret society of warrior scholars that were dedicated to exterminating "The Outcast". The Outcast are fallen angels, incarnate evil, that take human forms.  Maggie doesn't really believe the Outcast exist. She's just interested in it for academic reasons. One of their fellow boarders, a weird horndog man-child named Michael, says that the whole of New York is filled with spirits, ghosts, demons, and other weird phenomena. And he should know. He fancies himself a "Hunsupu", or ghost hunter. Riley's new school is pretty weird as well, looking at times like the delapidated innards of a castle or Gothic cathedral. Then she incurs the wrath of one of the most popular girls by casting her eyes at the guy she likes named Carter. Riley does make one friend, a rougish girl named Kit who says there is only one rule at the school: Never be there after dark!

    Most OEL manga I read give me the creeps, because even though it tries to be manga, there's always an x-factor it seems to be missing, mainly the alienness of a foreign culture. Only Hollow Fields, another OEL manga published by Seven Seas has ever bridged that gap for me. It's kinda like watching the Matrix when Keanu is in a big action scene and all of the sudden a digital actor is substituted for the real, or the many CG scenes of Spider-Man. Ok, they look like humans, but there is something vaguely disturbing about the whole thing. The Outcast is another figment of fake manga in my eyes. It looks like manga, it's flipped like manga, but the art and storytelling techniques are not quite up to par. It just doesn't seem like manga imitators have mastered how to tell a slow-moving story without making it boring. Yes, there is art in The Outcast, yes, there is a story, but it never seems to go anywhere. You never get the sense that it is building a world. The inclusion of 1990's slang also drags it down, like "don't bogart my stuff", "young jedi learns fast", and the instantly outdated "He's my boo", all hint that whoever is writing this is in their 30's and trying desperately to write about young people. I could be wrong about that. We even get an endorsement from Samuel L. Jackson on the back of the book, for what reason I cannot fathom. There is zero chance of me picking up the second volume of this series.

    My Grade: C-

    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 11:22am CST

    Episode 58: My Dearest Devil Princess Volume 1 by Makoto Matsumoto and Maika Netsu

    Podcast episode 58: Manga Review for My Dearest Devil Princess Volume 1. Story by Makoto Matsumoto. Art by Maika Netsu. Translated by Satsuki Yamashita. Adapted by Elizabeth Hanel. Originally published by Jive in 2004 Japan. Released in US by Broccoli Books, $9.99, Rated 16+.

    When highschooler Keita Kusakabe buys a family heirloom from his friend Natsuki which is purported to grant wishes, he doesn't have much faith that it will work. When he opens the magic box, a cute girl comes out of it, floating in the air and right into his arms, which allows for an accidental boob grab. It turns out that the girl is a devil named Maki who wants to make a contract with Keita. She will give him three wishes....if she can have his soul!

    My Grade: B

    Direct download: Episode_58--DearestDevil_Princess.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:28pm CST

    Angel Cup Volume 5 by Jae-Ho Youn and Dong Wook Kim Manwha review for Angel Cup Volume 5. Written by Dong Wook Kim. Illustrated by Jae-Ho Youn. Originally published in Korea by Daiwon in 2002. Published in US by Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated Teen 13+.

    The Armageddon-like battle between Han Shin and Gai Leung comes to its climax as the psychotic Hee-Na Yoo is determined to prove that she is the best player on the field, even better than Shin-Bee. She doesn't need to be in a rush to prove anything since Shin-Bee isn't exactly living up to her star billing. Her team is becoming increasingly frustrated with her lackluster playing and her inability to get past some mental and physical roadblocks that are keeping her from doing her best. Perhaps it's going to take a pep talk from So-Jin to get her out of her funk. But Shin-Bee is going to have to make peace with her own past before So-Jin's words will reach her. And even then, will the Han Shin team be able to overcome the nationally ranked Gai Leung team?

    I started out a big fan of Angel Cup and initially thought it was one of the best Korean comics being published in the US. It was really fun to see the different Han Shin team members being recruited and tested a la The Seven Samurai and seeing them doing their best against the boy's soccer team. The action scenes were crisp and exciting and the characters were intriguing. Where Angel Cup began to go wrong was the beginning of the Gai Leung story arc. From a realistic and grounded soccer comic we went overnight to an almost Dragonball-like work when Hee-Na Yoo began to use mystical attacks! And then when one of the players on the Gai Leung team looked like a reject from Fist of the North Star, the book went totally south. Volume 5 gets back to the more basic approach of portraying the hearts and souls of girls on the soccer field, but it too suffers from an ulterior motive. The writer takes the match and twists it into a flag waving advertisement for Korean women's soccer and ruins any credibility that Angel Cup had as a work of art. It's like you get to the end of Slam Dunk and find out it was all just written to promote Nike or something. The fact that the final showdown between Han Shin and Gai Leung had to be delayed by the months between each publication didn't help the continuity or momentum of the match. Probably would read better if you read entire series over a couple of days.

    My Grade: C

    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 7:28pm CST

    Flag Volume 1 Anime DVD review

    Anime DVD review for Flag Volume 1 from Bandai, Episodes 1-4, 100 minutes. List Price: $29.98.

    If you were born in the last 50 or so odd years, then you are part of a multi-generation raised on images, especially those emanating from television, film, and, more recently, buzzing across the internet in a single lightspeed bound. The traditional news media like newspapers and magazines are outdated almost as soon as they are published and are casting an increasingly nervous eye at websites and bloggers. These days images can spark wars or take a hand in ending them. This is the case with Flag, a 13 episode anime series that was originally broadcast as a pay per view web video show.

    The focus of Flag is a on a single photo taken by a war photographer named Saeko Shirasu in the civil war-torn country of Uddiyana which at times seems a cross between Afghanistan and Tibet, if that makes any sense. The United Nations has come in to help stop the fighting. Saeko takes a shot of a UN flag that highlights a silhouette of someone on their knees praying behind it, which comes to symbolize the call for peace between the government and the insurgents. But as is always the case in wars, there are some individuals or groups whose agendas are best served by fighting. On the eve of the peace talks, the famous flag from the picture is stolen by an insurgent group and is spirited away to a heavily protected fortress. A special forces military unit, the SDC, is prepped to steal the flag back before the fragile peace is shattered. The SDC is equipped with HAVWC technology, which in anime terms means "Mecha"!  The UN wants someone to document the mission and the best person to do that is Saeko.

    Flag has a very weird storytelling strategy, or "gimmick". The anime is shot from the perspective of  image making machines, whether it be still shots from a camera, video footage, computer menus, sometimes, even through a character's reflection on a monitor.  While this is somewhat unique, in the end it becomes annoying to see every cutscene done with a clicking mouse icon on a computer monitor or some such. It also makes the anime seem very cheap, like maybe that didn't do the camera perspective to be original, but to cut costs. I would say that about 75% or more of this first volume is still shots, menu screens, or scenes where there is very little motion. I will say the music is well done and atmospheric. But that's pretty sad when I can say that is the only thing done well. I think the MESSAGE of the show is very important and timely and it deserved a lot more tender loving than Flag gets. It also suffers from the whole Blair Witch Syndrome. I mean, do people actually record everything they do and and leave their cameras on even when they're eating? At some point the constant filming becomes a little unrealistic. The characters seem quite interesting and I would like to see them in a more traditionally styled anime instead of a dehumanizing fishbowl view.

    My Grade: D-

    Category:Anime DVD Reviews -- posted at: 2:24pm CST

    Well, I've developed a bit of a cold so for the moment my voice sounds like that of Darth Vader crossed with a prepubescent gopher so I probably won't make any podcasts for the next couple of days....but I will post some written reviews.

    I should be posting a review for the 1st volume of the anime FLAG tomorrow, but in the meantime, I would advise not wasting your time watching it. It is pretty awful. More on that later.

    Just to mention two websites, or actually two retailers that I've been using ever since my only anime/manga source in Houston, Anime Avalon (See podcast Episode 10--The Death of Anime Avalon) went out of business about 2 months ago:

     www.rentanime.com

    I've been renting anime from them the past two months are so. They're kinda set up like other mail order rental places like netflix, but they specialize in anime. You pay like 20$ to have 3 dvds out at a time, and after a period of around 90 days you can upgrade to 5 dvds for 30$. It's pretty cool and saves a ton of money. I used to buy anime dvds all the time, but a lot of the time I wouldn't like them and it would be money down the drain. Now I can rent, then buy the titles I really like.

    Another problem I had after Anime Avalon closed was trying to buy manga from one retailer. I still haven't found one store where I can buy ALL my manga but

    www.justmanga.com

    is the closest to fulfilling that role in my life. They discount almost all their manga but the only drawback is that your order has to total $39.99 for you to get free shipping. Actually sometimes, the discounts pay for the shipping even if you order less than that. I was glad to see that Seven Seas had finally released the second volumes of Venus Versus Virus, The Last Uniform, and Tetragrammaton Labyrinth today and ordered them very quickly. I find that the podcasts I do about Yuri titles are the most popular for some reason. The biggest ratings for my podcasts have been for The Last Uniform Volume 1 and Simoun Volume 1....and Hayate the Combat Butler Volume 4 (That's not Yuri, but I'm glad so many people like Hayate...brilliant lovable comedy, like Hare + Guu) The cool thing I like about Justmanga is that they always put a written message like "Thanks for the order" on the receipt in the box and they put a piece of Japanese candy in there too. It just seems a bit more personal than dealing with Amazon or another online retailer.

    Hey Seven Seas! Where the Hell are the rest of the Boogiepop novels??!! Is Amazing Doofus Luna really more important?? And what happened to the rest of the Light Novels you were bringing out?

    Speaking of Anime Avalon, I had kinda put off going by the place after it was closed, but sometimes felt I should go lay a wreath at the doorway or something. I drove past it a couple of weeks back after visiting a nearby bookstore and the windows are tinted so you couldn't even see inside it. It's still kinda sad.

    Maybe the fact that it was freezing cold here in Houston (well, cold for Texans anyway, it was like 39 degrees) and my workplace didn't even turn the heat on, didn't really help my health the past two days.  It was actually colder inside the building that it was outside. Or was it perhaps due to the fact that I was outside of Best Buy on Friday around 4:30am with a light misty rain that was a bigger factor? No, it HAS to be my cold job! Yeah, that's the ticket!

    Category:general -- posted at: 10:02pm CST

    Strawberry 100% Volume 2 by Mizuki Kawashita

    Manga Review for Strawberry 100% Volume 2 by Mizuki Kawashita. Translated and adapted by Yuko Sawada. Originally published by Shueisha in 2002. Published in US by Viz as part of their Shonen Jump Advanced line. Rated T+ for older teen with a "Mature Content" label on the cover, $7.99.

    You would think that Junpei would be quite satisfied with his life these days because his girlfriend, Tsukasa, is the prettiest girl at school and also the owner of the mythical strawberry panties he glimpsed back in Volume 1....or is she?  Even though he really likes Tsukasa and has slightly pervy urges towards her, Junpei is taken aback when she invites him to her house to cook dinner for him and study. Things get even more interesting when he finds out her parents are not going to be home anytime soon! But even in this situation, the poor boy finds himself thinking about Aya Tojo. One of his friends, the studly Okusa, told him that Aya had a thing for Junpei, but he thinks its just because he wants him to break up with Tsukasa so he can hook up with her. While Junpei doesn't know the truth, he does find himself falling for Aya. While all this is going on, he still has to find time to study for high school entrance exams so he can realize his dream of becoming a film director.

    While the second volume of Strawberry 100% was enjoyable on its own terms,  it's starting to slant dangerously close to becoming a harem comedy, especially with the entrance of a new female character in the closing pages of this book. I just don't see how the storyline can sustain itself UNLESS it keeps on adding characters to distract from what is otherwise a very simplistic setup. I really enjoyed the first volume because, for once in this type of book, the main character had no problem getting the pretty girl. Now Junpei realizes that the girl of his dreams is the wrong girl of his dreams. This is what happens when you fall in love based on seeing someone's panties. You have to see the soul and the face to truly judge a person's worth. An aspect of this manga that seems a bit goofy is the fact that Aya can't be recognized by Junpei when she isn't wearing her glasses, a la Clark Kent/Superman. So when he catches a glimpse of Aya without her glasses, he recognizes her as the girl with the strawberry panties, but does not recognize that she and Aya are the same person. It was a bit of a surprise that glasses wearing cute girls are repeatedly categorized as unattractive and plain in Strawberry 100%. I though bespectacled cuties were a common weakness of otaku the whole world over?  I still like the characters and the art is quite good so I hope my fears about it becoming some type of Love Hina castoff are wrong.

    My Grade: B

    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 7:17pm CST

    Cromartie High School Volume 12 by Eiji Nonaka

    Manga Review for Cromartie High School Volume 12 by Eiji Nonaka. Translated by Javier Lopez. Originally published in Japan by Kodansha in 2005. Published in the US by ADV Manga, $10.95, Rated 13+.

    When you read Cromartie High School, you can expect some universe shattering questions to pop up periodically on the nature of life and happiness. In Volume 12, one of the questions is the origin of the "Mawashi", the only garment of clothing that sumo wrestlers are allowed to wear in competition. The Gene Simmons lookalike of the Four Great Ones has his own ideas about it when one of his members joins the Cromartie Sumo Club along with Masked Takenouchi and Kamiyama. But are the guys confident enough to show up everyday practically naked except for the Mawashi that covers their privates? As they learn the ins and outs of sumo training, the new members are shocked to learn that they have been entered into a competition against the sumo club of their hated rivals Bass High School! Meanwhile, Maeda learns about the fun of cellphone emailing as Hayashida begins mailing him weird and cryptic pictures of what appear to be random and meaningless objects.

    With my experience after reading 12 volumes of Cromartie High School, I have realized that it is at its funniest the more episodic it is. When Nonaka dwells on one particular schtick most of the volume, much like the whole adventure in the Planet of the Apes world a volume back, the comedy is dragged down. What makes the good volumes good is Nonaka's ability to write short chapters that focus on one joke which is left behind at the end of that chapter. When I first started reading this series, I was laughing my butt off. Now I'm lucky if I get TWO laughs from the whole volume. While it can still be amusing at times, this series is way past its prime. This could be reversed if Nonaka would focus on short and easily forgettable chapters instead of trying to make overarching story arcs. The characters too have suffered as Cromartie has dragged on. At first, they each had very distinct personalities, but over time, they have ended up all talking and thinking the same, and instead of being characters, have simply become gimmicks that Nonaka uses to convey intellectual jokes that amuse mostly just him. There's always hope with each volume that Cromartie can return to its roots but I'm losing interest in this manga.

    My Grade: C+

    Direct download: cromartie_12.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 11:12am CST

    Episode 57: Death Note Volume 1

    Podcast Episode 57: Death Note Volume 1 Anime DVD review. Directed by Tetsuro Araki. Series Composition by Toshiki Inoue. Published by Viz for $24.98, Episodes 1-4, 100 minutes.

    Death Note is the story of two beings who are bored with their lives and society. Ryuk, a shinigami, or death spirit, is tired of the lazy and meaningless existences of his fellows in the Shinigami dimension, and decides to spice his life up by dropping his Death Note in the human world. The Death Note has the ability to kill anyone whose name is written in it. A brillant but melancholic high school student named Light Yagami picks it up and begins to test its powers. His first killings are tentative and ill conceived, but he begins to fashion himself a god that will rid society of evil with himself set up as judge, jury, and executioner. Perhaps the only person capable of stopping him is the world's greatest detective, who goes by the alias L. Both L and Light see themselves as defenders of justice and are willing to take extreme measures to make sure it is served to the other.

    My Grade: B+

    Direct download: Episode_57--Death_Note_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:28pm CST

    Welcome to the NHK Volume 4 by Tatsuhiko Takimoto and Kendi Oiwa

    Manga Review for Welcome to the NHK Volume 4. Story by Tatsuhiko Takimoto. Art by Kendi Oiwa. Translated by Christine Schilling. Adapted by Zachary Rau. Originally published in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten in 2005. Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated Mature 18+.

    Unlike most otaku, Satou and Yamazaki both find themselves having girl trouble in Volume 4 of Welcome to the NHK. They're both also having parent problems as well. Yamazaki is beginning to make inroads with a classmate named Nanako that he likes but he is being ordered home to take care of the family business. Satou has wants Misaki out of his life and gets another shock when he finds out his old friend from high school, Kashiwa, is getting married, which drags up some feelings that he didn't even know he had for her. Things get even more complicated when Yamazaki invites Nanako to his apartment, the mecca of otakudom. Meanwhile, Satou and Kashiwa are on the cusp of having an affair, which enflames the jealousy of Misaki. Suffice it to say, a lot of hidden feelings come out in this fourth volume.

    While NHK has always had its share of black comedy tinged with despair, you always felt that the writer was never taking it very seriously, almost as if he were laughing with a trace of a tear on his face. But with this volume we get some very serious relationships right out of slice of life shojo, which just adds another layer to an already virtuoso work. Mostly gone are the uncomfortable underage girl fixations and sexual fantasies of earlier books (that's not to say this one is totally clean), but the two guys are finding it hard to work on their hentai game so a lot of that element is missing. Misaki has gone from guiding light and angel to stalking psycho girl and it seems totally out of the blue, unless that is due to the fact that she didn't know she liked Satou until Kashiwa entered the picture. With its brillant comedy bits of gallows giggling, NHK is one of the best titles out there.

    My Grade: A

    Direct download: welcome4.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 5:42pm CST

    Episode 56: Dragon Eye Volume 2 by Kairi Fujiyama

    Podcast Episode 56: Dragon Eye Volume 2 by Kairi Fujiyama Manga Review. Translated and adapted by Mari Morimoto. Originally published by Kodansha in 2006. Released in US by Del Rey, $10.95, Rated 13+.

    After an introduction and overview of the series, it's on to a review of Volume 2 of this promising and quickly improving series. After dealing with a giant chicken Dracule, Issa's command of Squad Zero is in even more danger as his bosses begin to question whether the negatives of him being in charge are outweighing the positives. An observer is sent on Squad Zero's next mission to assess his performance. According to what he reports, Issa could be demoted and/or the squad could be dissolved. Some other Vius from other squads are sent in to back up Zero as they hunt for seveal large Dracule that have been spotted on the outskirts of the city.

    My Grade: A

    Direct download: episode_56--Dragon_eye_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:37am CST

    Episode 55: Naruto Volume 1 by Masashi Kishimoto

    Podcast Episode 55: Naruto Volume 1 by Masashi Kishimoto. Translated by Katy Bridges and adapted by Jo Duffy. Originally published in Japan by Shueisha in 1999. Published by Viz as part of their Shonen Jump line, $7.95, Rated T for Teen.

    Naruto Uzumaki holds a terrible secret even he does not know about. Bound up in his navel is a terrible fox demon that almost destroyed the Hidden Leaf Village 12 years ago. All of the adults are sworn to secrecy but they cannot help hating and despising Naruto and their children have picked up on this. Naruto cannot catch a break. He has already failed the ninja final exam three times. The only way he can earn respect is to become the most powerful ninja, but how is he going to do that when he cannot even pass the test to begin his long journey?

    My Grade: A+

    Direct download: Episode_55--Naruto_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:33pm CST

    The Drifting Classroom Volume 7 by Kazuo Umezu  Volume 7 by Kazuo Umezu. Translated by Yuji Oniki. Originally published in Japan by Shogakukan in 1974. Published by Viz under their Signature line for $9.99. Rated Mature.

    The kids of the school prayed for rain and they have technically gotten what they wished for. But instead of a gentle rainfall to soothe their parched throats, the water is sent in the form of a Biblical wave of water moving rapidly across the desert right towards the school. Some of Sho's party out in the wasteland get killed as the water turns parts of the desert into quicksand. Sakiko and some of the other students try to form a human wall against the tsunami like wave to protect their newly planted vegetable garden. Even if they stop the water somehow, the kids will have to contend with the warping nature of the world that is mutating and disfiguring the plantlife into weird-looking mushrooms which only the craziest or most desperate of the kids are willing to eat. And the power dynamics of the school soon shift dramatically when Sekiya, the only adult left on campus, and a psycho to boot, regains his faculties. Previously, he had been reduced to the mental capacity of an infant after suffering the shock of dealing with a huge scorpion-like monster. Now that he's got his memories back, he's ready to seize power.

    Ok, here we are on Volume 7 of this series, and there's hardly been any explanation as to what happened to this school and why they are being tortured so. I accept that they are in the future sometime, where at least the surrounding vicinity has been reduced to a desolate wasteland. I also understand that somehow in this world, the student's fears and wants are materialized in sometimes monstrous forms, but the question is WHY and HOW? While the series is creepy and scary, I'm beginning to tire of the endless obstacle course Sho and the others are being put through. Does it have any meaning or end? While Battle Royale was a sadistic exercise in cruelty, there was at least a goal in its plot, a reason to excuse all the blood, gore, and exploitation. We don't have any of that for Drifting Classroom. We just have very bad things happening to normal everyday children for no definable reason like Umezu would just sit at his drawing board and think "What can I do to them THIS week?" Still interesting but is beginning to drag

    My Grade: B

    Direct download: drifting_classroom_7.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 1:37pm CST

    Episode 54: 009-1 Volume 3

    Cyborg 009-1 Volume 3 Anime DVD Podcast review. ADV Films, Episodes 9-12 plus Bonus Episode, 125 minutes, $29.98. Director: Naoyuki Konno. Series Composition by Shinsuke Onishi.

    Based on Shotaro Ishinomori's 1960's manga, Mylene Hoffman is a trained to kill without blinking cyborg spy for the Western Bloc, but lately, she's found that doing her job isn't good enough anymore. She has beauty, brawn, and a to die for body, but she doesn't have a family. She doesn't have a normal life. She will probably never have children or settle down. Even though she realizes she can never walk away from her job, this doesn't keep her from longing for things she cannot have. This is brought home in the first two episodes of this dvd when she hitches a ride with a nice family and hooks up with a suspected double agent. Then she has to save the world from nuclear annihilation at the hands of child mutants.

    My Grade: A

    Direct download: Episode_54--009-1_Volume_3.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:45pm CST

    Episode 53: Alice On Deadlines Volume 1 by Shiro Ihara

    Podcast Episode 53: Alice On Deadlines Volume 1 by Shiro Ihara. Translated by Christine Schilling. Originally published in Japan by Square Enix in 2005. Published in US by Yen Press, $10.99, Rated Older Teen.

    Pervert Shinigami Lapan is sent to Earth to retrieve a Shibito, a human who has died but has yet to let go of their earthly existence. Shibitos are also frequently guilty of eating human flesh, which could account for a string of serial murders of young girls. Lapan is more intent on porno magazines than doing his job and is looking forward to taking control of a beautiful girl's corpse on Earth to complete his mission. His boss has other plans to keep his mind out of the gutter. He plans on putting Lapan's spirit into a skeleton. Things don't work out as planned when Lapan is placed in a living girl named Alice and Alice's soul is in turn placed in the skeleton!

    My Grade: F

    Direct download: Episode_53--Alice_on_Deadlines_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:02pm CST

    Episode 52: Simoun Volume 1

    Simoun Volume 1 Anime DVD podcast review. Will be released by Anime Works on 11/13/07. $19.95, Episodes 1-6, 150 minutes. No English dub. Japanese with English subtitles.

    In the world of Simoun, all children are born female and remain so until they are seventeen years old. Then they can decide to stay a girl or become a man. Those that have not made that choice and are good pilots are eligible to become Sibyllae, pairs of priestesses that fly Simoun, extremely advanced fightercraft to protect their home, called Simulacrum, from hostile states intent on seizing their technology. After a vicious battle, the Simoun ranks are depleted and new recruits arrive on the scene, including the cocky Aer, who is spoiling for a fight, and has the ambition to pair up with Neveril, the leader of Chor Tempest, the elite Simoun squadron. Yuri romance ensues.

    My Grade: A+

    Direct download: Simoun_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:04pm CST

    Shinshoku Kiss Volume 1 by Kazuko Higashiyama

    Shinshoku Kiss Volume 1 Manga Review. Written and drawn by Kazuko Higashiyama, co-creator of Tactics. Translated by Monica Seya Chin. Adapted by Jay Antani. Originally published in Japan by Gentosha Comics in 2004. Published by Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated Older Teen 16+.

    Kotoko Kashiwagi has dolls on the brain, and I'm not talking about android girls, I'm talking about dress-up dolls, which have their very own otaku subculture in Japan which counts females and males among their fandom. Kotoko would like nothing more than to spend the rest of her life designing and making them. She's constantly snapping photos of beautiful men and women to use as models for her dolls and she even enters a doll-making contest. Even though she loses, her work catches the eye of Fool, the hottest doll designer out there, who also works in film and TV. On one of her picture hunts, Kotoko spots a suitable bishonen sitting on a bench who has some curious bandages wrapped around parts of his body. When he touches her, some sort of electrical spark occurs and he ends up kidnapping her and taking her back to his apartment, which he shares with another guy named Yuta, who is also a dollmaker. When he asks Kotoko to help him with his work, she flatout refuses, thinking both these guys are creeps, perverts...or worse.  As she makes a move for the door, Yuta calmly tells her she can go but if she doesn't agree to help him, she is going to die!  Kotoko doesn't even have a clue that Yuta is actually Fool and that he wants her to use a new supernatural ability to help him make dolls.

    Ok, I'll be the first to admit that I have absolutely no interest in dolls or doll-making. But I had no interest in the game of Go but I love reading the manga Hikaru No Go and would even like to take up playing it someday. After reading volume 1 of Shinshoku Kiss, I can hazard the guess that you'll never catch me dressing up dolls. This manga reminds me a bit of Paradise Kiss, even to the pushy bishonen who use intimidation, both physical and psychological, to get what they want out of the main heroine. But Yuta (Fool) goes to even more disturbing extremes. He repeatedly threatens to kill Kotoko several times in this first volume. And then you have the trademark bad boy seduction scene with Yuta pushing her against the wall and pinning her arms above her head, putting his lips oh so close to hers. It takes a little of the romance out of things when what looks like the male lead early on makes the female lead cough blood. Kazuko seems at cross purposes most of the book as she changes swiftly and jerkily from horror to romance to comedy. Somehow, she thinks, my female readers won't realize how bad this series is if I throw them a couple of mysterious bishonen. I'm not a devout feminist or anything, actually I'm a man, but I don't appreciate male characters threatening to kill women and chalking it up to bad-boy romance. Obviously, any girl that would fall for a would-be murderer would be psychotic themselves. Hey, but even OJ has a girlfriend, so I can't go too far with this line of thought.

    My Grade: C-  (the only thing that kept it from being a D is that I liked Kotoko, even though she was a bit shallow and only judged people by their appearance)

    Direct download: Shinshoku.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 12:25pm CST

    Episode 51: Red Garden Volume 2

    Episode 51: Red Garden Volume 2. Director: Kou Matsuo. Series Composition: Tomohiro Yamashita. $29.98, ADV Films, Episodes 5-8, 100 minutes. Release Date: 11/20/07.

    Volume 1 picks up right where Volume 2 left off as Rachel has a breakdown after beating the brains out of a dog man with a baseball bat. She begins to question, along with the other girls, exactly what they are doing with their second lives. What are these beast men? Why are Rachel, Kate, Rose, and Claire having to kill to survive? Who is Lula and who is she working for? What really happened to Lise? There are no easy answers, and now the four girls are not only having to deal with risking their lives on an almost nightly basis, but there nighttime activities are also beginning to derail what little normalcy they have in their daytime lives.

    My Grade: A

    Direct download: Episode_51--Red_Garden_Volume_2.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:01pm CST

    Episode 50: Venus Versus Virus Volume 1

    Venus Versus Virus Volume 1: Outbreak Anime DVD podcast Review Episode 50. Directed by Shinichiro Kimura (also directed Burn-Up Excess, Maburaho, Sugar, and Popotan). Series Composition by Yasutomo Yamada. ADV Films, $29.98, Episodes 1-4, 100 minutes. Release date: 11/13/2007.

    Viruses are demons that are attracted to the few humans who have the ability to see them. They take shapes from the lowliest dark blobs to humanoid/animal crossovers that have superhuman abilities. Those they attack in turn become more Viruses. It's up to the Venus Vanguard to exterminate the Viruses and protect humanity from a threat most of them are ignorant of. Lucia, the cool and beautiful goth-loli gun toting killer, and Sumire, her bumbling partner, are on the front-lines of this battle. Lucia is equipped with anti-Virus bullets and Sumire has the ability to become a living anti-virus, which gives her so much power that she can literally rip Viruses into pieces using her bare hands. The problem is that when she enters this Berserker mode, she cannot differentiate between friend and foe. A stylish action anime that also relies on comedy to get the character's personalities across.

    My Grade: A

    Direct download: Episode_50--Venus_Versus_Virus_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:52am CST

    Episode 49: Sorcerer Hunters Volume 1

    Podcast Episode 49 Manga Review: Sorcerer Hunters Volume 1. Story by Satoru Akahori. Art by Ray Omishi. Translated by Anita Sengupta. Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated Older Teen 16+. Originally published in Japan by Media Works in 1993.

    The world of Spoolner is ruled by a small minority of sorcerors who lord it over the rest of the non-magic using population called Parsoners. A goddess named Big Mama has enlisted three siblings to kill the most evil, the most dastardly, of the Sorcerers. There's Marron, the calmest of the three, who uses his Eastern magic in battle. Carrot, his older brother, cannot use spells, but he can absorb them, activating the Zoanthropic magic in his genes to transform himself into powerful giant beasts. Their sister, Tira's, main function is as a healer, but she also becomes a crazy dominatrix in order to tame Carrot's beast genes. Collectively, the three are known as Sorcerer Hunters. A great mixture of comedy, stupendous art, and pathos.

    My Grade: A+

    Direct download: Episode_49--Sorcerer_Hunters_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:15pm CST

    I, Otaku: Struggle In Akihabara Volume 1 by Jiro Suzuki

    Manga Review for I, Otaku: Struggle in Akihabara Volume 1 by Jiro Suzuki. Translated by Nan Rymer and adapted by Ed Chavez. Published by Seven Seas for $9.99. Originally published in Japan 2003 by Square Enix. Rated Teen.

    When you hear about someone "coming out of the closet", if you're like me, you're automatically thinking about Tom Cruise. But maybe that's just me. 18-year-old high schooler Enatsu Sota is a closet Otaku and he's always afraid of someone at school finding out about his secret obsession with the dog eared little girl anime character Papico. You see, Sota is the opposite of the stereotyped otaku we all know and love. He's not fat and smelly or bespectacled. Sota is popular at school, athletic, and he even has a girlfriend named Eri! And no, even she doesn't know his secret. His closely guarded secret life begins to unravel when he visits a store in Akihabara named Otakudo Headquarters, whose slogan is "A store where only TRUE otaku are allowed to shop." Unfortunately for Sota, its owner, Mano Takuro, has appointed himself president of imaginary organization called the Closet Otaku Extermination Committee and right off the bat he has a problem with Sota because after purchasing some merchandise, Sota tries to put the shop bag into a normal brown bag so noone will know where he was shopping. Mano proceeds to close all the safety doors in the shop and plans to hold Sota prisoner until he admits that he is an otaku. When Sota finally does, he is tricked into yelling it very loudly.....right in front of his girlfriend Eri!

    I, Otaku was an enjoyable read but after reading and watching the anime and manga versions of Comic Party and Genshiken and reading the manga series Maniac Road and its sequel Pretty Maniacs, my enjoyment of a series about otaku tends to be a bit muted. For my money Genshiken and Maniac Road did better with the comedy and the educational side of introducing new manga readers to the world of anime and manga fandom in Japan. While I, Otaku did a pretty good job with its comedy bits, I didn't feel drawn into the world of Akihabara with a sense of wonder like I did with some of the other series. The characters didn't have much emotional connect either. I do think that Suzuki's art was very pretty and never became cluttered even during the zaniest moments. This book is better suited to readers that are new to the otaku concept and will not be as enjoyable to those who have read similar works before. Includes two color pages.

    My Grade: B

    Check out Ed Chavez's EXCELLENT manga website:

    www.mangacast.net 

    Also, you can pick up all 3 volumes of Maniac Road and Pretty Maniacs for $2.00 each at:

    www.drmasterbooks.com

    Just click on the manga outlet key on the main page. The two dollar sale also includes volumes of Now, Tomie, Junk Force, Dark Edge,Crayon Shinchan, High School Girls, and volumes of Iron Wok Jan at half off. This is just a smattering of the titles being offered.

    Direct download: iotaku.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 8:53am CST

    Rescue Me: Mave-Chan  Anime DVD Review

    Fighting Fairy Girl Rescue Me: Mave-Chan, Bandai, $9.98, 25 minutes. Director: Takeshi Mori (Stratos 4, Vandread, Gunsmith Cats, Otaku No Video)

    Rei Sugiyama wins a ticket to a Yukikaze/Stratos 4 convention. He's grown up in a small town and he's never been away on his own before so his parents are very reluctant to let him go to the big city. While Rei is being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people at the convention, he goes through a doorway that leads to another world. He finds himself in a desert where the jets of the anime Yukikaze have taken the form of five cute young girls and women. There's the ditz fighter Mave, the big boobed Super Sylph, the mother hen Sylphide, and the always disrespected duo of One-chan and Two-chan. They are fighting against a super-sized villain named Forgettor. The world that Rei has entered into is the world of the imagination created by the love of the show's fans. But Mave and the other girls exist only as long as the fans interest is not diverted to other anime shows. This lack of attention is embodied in the Demon of the Oblivion, the monstrous Forgettor!

    If you're not familiar with the anime series Yukikaze or Stratos 4 you might be missing the boat by buying this very brief, almost inconsequential one episode dvd. If you don't know, Yukikaze was about an inter-dimensional gate that opened at the South Pole. Groups of highly advanced fighter craft were sent through the gate to battle aliens. I have watched all of the Stratos 4 series, but have only viewed the first volume of Yukikaze. Even if you are a huge fan of those two shows, there's nothing really here to write home about. While the animation is done quite well, there is not enough time to do anything with the characters and the cheezy storyline is so bad that its really not even worth mentioning. This dvd seems like an overlong promo clip to be shown at conventions to slavering otaku fans who would love any cute girl in military fatigues. For a regular fan of anime, it's simply a waste of money. This should be sold with Freedom Volume 1 as a double rip-off special. Ok, actually this one episode of Mave-chan was Oscar-caliber compared to the HD-DVD release of Freedom Volume 1. At least we're not being charged 40$!

    My Grade: D-

    Direct download: mavechan.jpg
    Category:Anime DVD Reviews -- posted at: 9:42pm CST

    Episode 48: Zombie-Loan Volume 1 by Peach-Pit

    Podcast Episode 48: Manga Review for Zombie-Loan Volume 1 by Peach-Pit. Translated by Christine Schilling. Originally published in Japan by Square Enix in 2003. Published in US by Yen Press, $10.99. Rated Older Teen.

    Michuru Kita does not have much to live for these days. Her aunt and uncle, who are caring for her after her parent's death, have no love for her and see her as a hindrance and a financial burden. They only take care of her in the hopes of getting some of Michiru's inheritance. At school, her uncaring attitude about life makes her the unofficial gopher of the other girls. Her life would have stayed pretty bland, but she runs into two bishonen, Chika and Shito, who happen to be undead zombie hunters. The two guys hunt zombies for money to buy their humanity back from the Zombie Loan shop. And they want to use her Shinigami Eyes, her ability to see those who should be dead,to make their job easier.

    My Grade: C-

    Direct download: Episode_48--Zombie_Loan_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:32pm CST

    Innocent Venus Volume 2: Blood of Betrayal

    Anime DVD review for Innocent Venus Volume 2: Blood of Betrayal, ADV Films, $29.98, 100 minutes, Episodes 5-8.

    Jin, Joe, Sana, and Gora are still on the run from Phantom but they manage to find at least a temporary respite from the pursuit by hiding out at the dojo of a man named Chikura. A man who just happens to be Sana's grandfather. He is training rebels for the growing insurgeny against the Logos. He also has a lot of the scientific research left behind by Sana's father, which Jin is mightily interested in. Mysteries deepen when Sana reacts very strongly to particular musical notes as she and Jin play a piano piece, causing her to faint and lose consciousness. But our heroes can't stay in one place for long before Phantom and government forces arrive to root them out. Jin and Joe and the others hook up again with the pirate leader and former Phantom member Toraji Shiba as he transports them to his home city of Satsuma, a city which prides itself on equality and peacefulness. A city, by the way, that is priming a secret war fleet to strike against the Japanese government.

    Volume 2 of this series really upped the ante in terms of quality as the plot became more clear and the writers came up with some very good character twists. While Volume 1 was good, with all the action and emotional baggage the characters had, the viewer had a hard time making sense of the world of Innocent Venus. Now that we've settled into the show a bit, it's a little easier to understand everything that is going on. The animation of this show is incredible. Even during the fastest battle sequences, the show never uses cheap stills or motion lines to imply action. The mecha battles, which are done with CG, still do not blend extremely well with the rest of the show, but it is less blaring because most of the fights occur at night. Be prepared for a cliffhanger at the end of this volume.

    Extras are pretty skimpy. Only includes clean opening/closing.

    My Grade: A-

    Direct download: innocent_venus2.jpg
    Category:Anime DVD Reviews -- posted at: 10:48am CST

    Episode 47: Welcome to the NHK Volume 1 Anime DVD

    Podcast Episode 47: Welcome to the NHK Volume 1 anime DVD review. ADV Films, Episodes 1-4, $29.98.

    22-year-old Tatsuhiro Sato has a big problem. He is an Hikikomori, a recluse who refuses to leave his apartment except for extreme neccesities like food. He has deluded himself into thinking his problems are all caused by a vast conspiracy being perpetrated by the NHK, a Japanese broadcasting company. Sato believes that by airing so many good anime shows, the NHK has a plan to turn everyone into Hikikomori. Sato does not see any way to change his life until he meets a cute girl named Misaki, who promises to cure him if he will sign a contract with her. He also becomes involved in making an ero game with his next door neighbor in a bid to return to the normal world and to prove to Misaki that he is not a complete loser.

    My Grade: A

    Direct download: Episode_47--Welcome_to_the_NHK_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:52pm CST

    Episode 46: He Is My Master Volume 2 by Mattsu and Asu Tsubaki

    Episode 46: Manga Podcast Review for He Is My Master Volume 2. Story by Mattsu. Art by Asu Tsubaki. Translated by Beni Axia Conrad. Adapted by Janet Houck and Bambi Eloriaga. Originally published in Japan by Square Enix in 2004. Published here by Seven Seas, $9.99. Rated Older Teen (16+) even though there is no nudity or fan service whatsoever. Compared to other Older Teen titles, Master is quite tame and harmless.

    Yoshitaka is a young 14-year-old who is filthy rich after his parents die in a car accident. Not knowing how to take care of himself, he hires three girls to be his maids: The two sisters, Izumi and Mitsuki, and Anna. Yoshitaka intends to spend his money indulging all his wildest fantasies, which mostly consist of creating awkward innuendo filled situations with the three girls. But he's not the only pervert in the mansion. Mitsuki's pet alligator, Poochi, has a thing for Izumi, and so does Anna, even if she is a girl too!  A good and goofy episodic comedy, if a bit mindless.

    My Grade: B+

    Direct download: Episode_46--He_Is_My_Master_2.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:53pm CST

    Episode 45: Xenosaga the Animation Volume 1

    Episode 45: Anime DVD Pocast Review for Xenosaga the Animation Volume 1, ADV Films, $29.98. Running Time: 100 minutes, Episodes 1-4

    4,000 years after humanity has left Earth and colonized the galaxy, we are at war with an alien race known as the Gnosis. Normal weapons are ineffective against them because the Gnosis can dematerialize at will a la Kitty Pryde and let weapons pass through them. Only an attack known as the Hilbert Effect can make them become solid enough to destroy. Shion Uzuki, an engineer for Vector Industries, has helped develop a beautiful anti-Gnosis android weapon named Kos-mos to help in the battle. In addition to being surrounded by 30,000 Gnosians, she is also on the ship that has the Zohar, a mysterious golden monolith that not only attracts aliens but also various human factions that want a slice of its power.

    My Grade: B+

    Direct download: Episode_45--Xenosaga_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:02pm CST

    The Drifting Classroom Volume 6 by Kazuo Umezu

    Manga Review for The Drifting Classroom Volume 6 by Kazuo Umezu. Translated by Yuji Oniki. Published by Viz in June 2007 under their Signature imprint. Originally published in Japan by Shogakukan in 1974. $9.99, Rated "M" for Mature.

    Boy, do the kids of Yamato Elementary School have it rough. Not only have they had to deal with murderous teachers, bullies, starvation, dehydration, a giant insectoid monster born out of a student's nightmares, a swarm of flesh-eating miniature insectoid monsters, but now they face an outbreak of the Black Plague. Yep, that's bubonic plague for people in the know. The student body has turned on each other with the infected being boarded up in a school building and in danger of being burned alive by the rest of their classmates. Sho and a small group of his friends must devise a way to rescue them. The only way to stop the plague is to get a vaccine but it's not like there's a slight shortage of medicine in the wastelands. Sho is still able to contact his mother telepathically somehow but where could you possibly place the medicine so it will be safe for decades, or possibly hundreds or even thousands of years? And how is she going to get her hands on it? Nobody but her can hear Sho's voice and her husband is starting to think she might be going a bit crazy.

    The Drifting Classroom is a good read, don't get me wrong, but some of the things that happen in this sixth volume go beyond even the widest range of possibility. Sho tells his mom to put the medicine in a mummy he found in the basement of a ruined hospital but what are the odds that same mummy is going to be in the exact hospital at the exact time that his mother searches for it. And how is medicine going to stay good for years and years through a nuclear war or whatever led to the world that Sho and the others are living in? Medicine has expiration dates for a good reason. Also, the lineup of afflictions that are assailing Yamato Elementary are almost Biblical in proportion and are getting to be quite sadistic. I'm HOPING that all this is going to have a point. Right now, I'm just trying to enjoy the series without thinking too much how it's all going to end. It seems that the kids haven't figured out that their thoughts are having a great effect on the environment. Maybe they should just all chant together "There's no place like home" and they will magically wake up in their own beds in their own homes.

    My Grade: B

    Direct download: drifting_classroom_6.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 8:33pm CST

    Episode 44: Dark Moon Diary Volume 1 by Che Gilson and Brett Uher

    Episode 44: Manga Podcast Review for Dark Moon Diary volume 1. Story by Che Gilson. Art by Brett Uher. Published by Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated T for Teen Ages 13+.

    After her parents die, 15-year-old Priscilla does not have any other family to live with except her Aunt Lilith in the European town of Nachtwald. Little does she know that the town is inhabited by all kinds of weird creatures and supernatural beings such as vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and witches. Her aunt and uncle turn out to be vampires! Priscilla seems to be the only normal human in town. This is not only a social problem as her cousin, Kitten, refers to her as a lowly entree, but a matter of survival as well. The only things to eat in the area are items such as severed toes, raw meat, spiders, and other stomach turning unpalatable refuse. This light-hearted horror comedy is a good read to get into the Halloween mood but falls way short of measuring up to Japanese shojo manga. I DID like it better than St. Lunatic High School though, a Japanese manga that was very similar to this world manga

    My Grade: C

    Direct download: Episode_44--Dark_Moon_Diary_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:57pm CST

    Mar Volume 15 by Nobuyuki Anzai

    Manga review for Mar Volume 15 by Nobuyuki Anzai. Translated by Kaori Inoue and adapted by Gerard Jones. Published September 2007 by Viz for $7.99  Rated "T" for Teens. Originally published in Japan by Shogakukan in 2003.

    The War Games are over after Team Mar defeated the last Chess Pieces but there is unfinished business still left. Princess Diana kidnapped Snow and is holding her at Lestava Castle. And just because they defeated the Chess Pieces doesn't mean Phantom and the other surviving members are just going to lay down and play dead for Ginta and his pals when they enter the castle. Dorothy still has some unfinished business as well. Even though Diana is her sister, she has sworn to kill her because of all the evil she has done. But Diana's plans extend not only to Mar Heaven but to our world as well. Yeah, that's right, she wants to conquer Earth as well. And what about the KING of the Chess Pieces? Wait till you get a load of him! Will Ginta and the others be able to defeat the King and Queen and will Ginta be able to return to his own world after it's all over? You'll have to read this last volume of Mar to find out.

    The amazing thing about Mar is that it has been able to keep my attention for 15 volumes without boring me. The wispy plot of the series reduces every moral choice to a battle of the most physical kind. If someone is evil, you fight them, not with words or kind deeds, but by beating the crap out of them until they are either dead or unable to fight. In a series of this type might always makes right, and we're just lucky that the good guys (and girls) seem to be stronger most of the time. That's not to say that there were no moments of reasoning or rational dialogue between combatants or appeals to the better side of humanity. These did occur but only in the midst of beating the snot out of each other. I really liked these characters and their overwhelming drive to not only make themselves better but to also save their world from being destroyed. The artwork by Nobuyuki Anzai was excellent throughout the series but it would be cool to see him team up with a great manga writer to produce something with a bit more complexity and less pummelling. I'm gonna miss this series.

    My Grade: B+
    Direct download: mar_15.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 5:36pm CST

    Episode 43: Kamiyadori Volume 3 by Kei Sanbe

    Episode 43: Manga Podcast Review for Kamiyadori Volume 3 by Kei Sanbe. Translated by Ray Yoshimoto and adapted by Mike Wellman. Published by Tokyopop for $9.99. Originally published in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten in 2005.

    Jillald, Vivi, and other members of their Scudra team are sent, along with a new character, a sexy Right Arm named Kismee, to investigate a research lab where a mysterious red snow has fallen. It is a place with some very bad karma. 16 years ago, at a village near the site, a villager went crazy and slaughtered 30 of his people. Then, 4 years ago, during a red snowfall, a military officer named Clevort went on his own killing spree at the lab and killed 60 scientists. Imagine the team's surprise when they find out Clevort is one of their fellow team members!  Website: www.sesho.libsyn.com email: seshos@hotmail.com

    My Grade: C+

    Direct download: Episode_43--Kamiyadori_Volume_3.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:43am CST

    Mushi-Shi Volume 1 Anime DVD Review

    Mushi-Shi Volume 1 Anime DVD Review. Director and Series Composer: Hiroshi Nagahama. Funimation, $29.98. Volume 1 contains Episodes 1-5 and runs about 125 minutes.

    Mushi are the oldest lifeforms in existence, even below microorganisms and fungi. They evolved so long ago that most humans cannot even see them in their true form. Most of the time they appear as floating, almost plankton-like organisms drifting through the air and effortlessly passing through anything material in their way. Some can even take human form. Mushi are neither good nor evil. They simply are. But on occasion the very presence of mushi can lead to problems for humans. For example in one of these episodes, a girl becomes extremely sensitive to sunlight and has to stay in the dark all the time with a cloth over her eyes because mushi have taken up residence there. When mushi are involved, using the standard problem solving procedures such as doctors and such meets with very little success. No, someone with special abilities has to be called in. Enter the unassuming and serenely calm Ginko, a travelling Mushishi who tries to end any negative consequences caused by the interaction between humans and mushi. A lot of the victims of the mushi tend to be young such as a girl following a moving swamp which is actually a collective mushi. Or a boy whose drawings come to life and another who has grown extremely sensitive to noise and has grown horns!

    The problem that keeps Mushishi from being a great show is its single-minded devotion to the mushi. Because of its monster of the....I mean mushi, of the week, the show can get a bit repetitive. Kinda like Inuyasha's over-reliance on Naraku as the main antagonist which can suck the life out of any original ideas. I mean the writers had to somehow turn every episode of Mushishi into a hunt for mushi. I will admit that they did a good job making us sympathize with all of the supporting characters. If you don't care for the people Ginko is helping out, you must be really emotionally remote. I haven't read the manga but the director of the anime, Hiroshi Nagahama took very careful steps to keep the anime version as close to the manga as possible and was a big fan of the series before he got involved with the anime version. Really, the show reminded me a bit of Sergio Leone westerns in which a lone gunfighter comes to town and straightens out the world temporarily. I look forward to finding out more about this mushishi in the next couple of volumes. The manga the anime is based on is currently being published by Del Rey with two volumes out so far.

    My Grade: B

    Direct download: mushishi.jpg
    Category:Anime DVD Reviews -- posted at: 9:33am CST

    Episode 42: Chibi Vampire Volume 5 by Yuna Kagesaki

    Episode 42: Podcast manga review for Chibi Vampire Volume 5 by Yuna Kagesaki. Translated by Alexis Kirsch. Originally published in Japan by Fujimishobo in 2005. Published in the States by Tokyopop for $9.99. For Older Teens 16+.

    A introduction to new readers of the Chibi Vampire series, then on to a review of Volume 5. Karin is fighting against her love for Kenta because she doesn't know if a relationship between a human and a vampire has any hope of working out. During a brief earthquake her grandmother, Elda Marker, awakes from a deep sleep, eager for the taste of blood, and even sees Karin's classmates as her prey as the gather for the school cultural festival. She also has an passionate hate of humans and a desire to keep the vampire race pure. So there's no telling what she'll do if she finds out Karin is in love with Kenta. A funny comedy with tinges of darkness.

    My Grade: A

    Direct download: Episode_42--Chibi_Vampire_Volume_5.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:19pm CST

    Episode 41: The Key to the Kingdom Volume 1 by Kyoko Shitou

    Episode 40: Podcast manga review for The Key to the Kingdom Volume 1 by Kyoko Shitou. Translated and adapted by Sheldon Drzka. Originally published in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten in 2003. Published in US by CMX, $9.99. Rated T+.

    The King of Landor and his eldest son, Winslott, have been killed in an ongoing civil war that has waged off and on for 300 years. The next in line for the throne is thirteen-year-old Prince Astarion, or Asta, as he is called by his friends. Actually, a lot of the nobles and common people call him Cowardly Prince Ass because he's always been more interested in books and music and looks on fighting as savagery. In a bid to gain more time for him to become worthy of being king, the widowed queen proposes a quest to recover the Key to the Kingdom, a mythical object that would make its possessor king of the world and make the land flourish. Asta and Badd, a Landorian military captain, set out to find it, along with other seekers of royal blood, even as rumors of a Dragon Man being sighted in Landor comes to light. Dragon Men are immortal beings connected to the Key.

    My Grade: A

    Direct download: Episode_41--Key_to_the_Kingdom_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:41pm CST

    Air TV Volume 2

    Air TV Volume 2 Anime DVD Review. Released 9/25/07 by ADV Films, 100 Minutes, List Price: $29.98.

    Yukito's quest for the winged girl beyond the clouds takes second priority as the girls around him face large problems that could threaten their lives. Misuzu is getting weaker and weaker as her dreams increase in frequency and intensity. He gets angry with Misuzu's mother for being insensitive about her daughter's plight. But then he remembers that his mother told him about a girl that suffered like Misuzu before she passed away. She had the same kind of dreams and a bizarre and frightening condition. The closer the girl becomes to people, the sicker she became. Eventually, she died. Ironically, Yukito comes to believe that his proximity and emotional ties to Misuzu are the very things that are endangering her life! Meanwhile, there's something weird going on between the quiet and introverted Minagi and her best and only friend, the crazy Yukito-bashing Michuru. When Yukito walks Minagi home, he is shocked when Minagi's mom calls her by the name of Michuru which leads to the revelation of a mental illness of Minagi's mom and and an explanation of why Minagi is so withdrawn. Then we go back in time about a thousand years to learn about this famous winged girl named Kanna that everybody's been talking about for the past seven episodes. Kanna is pretty much incarcerated by priests and carted around the country to bless various things because she is seen as a messenger to the gods, even though she can barely fly. Instead of being a divine messenger, she is really just a young girl who is feeling increasingly entrapped in a role she does not feel she is suited for. Two of those near to her, her guard, Ryuya, and her servant, Uraha, plan a daring escape to free her from the shackles of religion and superstition.

    I must admit that I had a bit of reservation about this second volume because it seemed at first to be more of the same as Volume 1 without any plot progress. But as I got drawn more and more into the strange tale of Minagi and Michiru, I was intrigued by the subtle layering of the story which at times seems strange and at times creepy. The last episode, which began to tell of the events a millenium ago was like a breath of fresh air into a show that was beginning to drag a bit. Hopefully, we'll get some answers in the past that will explain what is happening in the present. Even though I'd like the mysterious atmosphere and strange occurrences to stay in place a little longer. While this show can be a tad too sentimental at times, it has a very quiet beauty and an ethereal feel that can draw you to another time and space that you might not want to come back from.

    My Grade: B

    Direct download: airtv2.jpg
    Category:Anime DVD Reviews -- posted at: 4:05pm CST

    Maison Ikkoku Volume 14: Welcome Home by Rumiko Takahashi

    Manga Review for Maison Ikkoku Volume 14: Welcome Home by Rumiko Takahashi. Translated by Mari Morimoto. Adapted by Gerard Jones. This is for the first American edition printed in May 2000 by Viz in a flipped and slightly larger trade paperback size which sold for $16.95 which is out of print but still readily available used. The Maison Ikkoku series was reprinted unflipped in the now standard tankoban format by Viz with the addition of a fifteenth volume due to the differences in the page counts of the two editions.

    Rumiko Takahashi is known for letting the relationships between her romantic leads drag on for years or even decades without them ever evolving or being consummated (see Inuyasha), but as the last and concluding volume of Maison Ikkoku opens, Godai and Kyoko enter a love hotel. Godai should be in heaven, right? I mean, this is what he's always wished for. But things become a bit awkward when Kyoko says that she is thinking about Soichiro. Godai thinks she's talking about her dead husband, but Kyoko corrects him and says she meant her dog, which happens to have the same name. Is that the truth? Suffice it to say, Godai suffers from impotence at the moment of truth. Things get even more complicated when his ex-girlfriend, Kozue shows up wanting to talk about their relationship. She had already told him a guy proposed to her but she didn't want to say yes because she didn't want to hurt Godai's feelings. On top of all this Godai is going to find out how he did on the teacher certification exams. The only way he can ask Kyoko to marry him is if he passed, so there's a lot riding on the results.

    I have been reading this series off and on for a little over two years now and I have to admit I got a little misty eyed when I came to certain sections of this last volume. Simply because you never wish good things to come to an end. I used to have that experience a lot with anime and manga series, but it has become rarer lately, probably because there is so much product coming out that you don't have time to lament the end of one before you start another. Instead of just centering a review on this one volume, I'll just make some comments about the series as a whole because in terms of quality they were all about the same. The central conflict of the manga that lasted through the first to most of the last volume was the lack of courage Godai had to make Kyoko his. He bumbled his way through a relationship with Kozue and some childish competition with Mitaka the tennis coach but he was just never aggressive enough to pursue Kyoko with a single-minded determination. He was too wishy-washy. Kyoko too suffered a lot because she wanted to be pursued, hunted, and caught by an alpha male. While this kind of thing makes for a lot of heartache and tragedy in real-life, in the manga world it's the perfect tried and true setup for comedy. And boy was Maison Ikkoku funny!  One of the best comedies I've ever read. I've still never figured out how Takahashi was able to make such a masterpiece from such simple materials and operating mainly with character interaction rather than plot. To me, that's the hardest story to write. Making the lives of everyday people interesting and fun. It's also great to experience a relatively long manga series that has true resolution and ends on an upbeat and happy note. A great manga work.

    My Grade: A+

    Direct download: welcome_home.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 12:43pm CST

    Hayate the Combat Butler Volume 4 by Kenjiro Hata

    Episode 40 gives an introduction to Hayate the Combat Butler for those who have not read any volumes of the series and then focuses on Volume 4. Hayate Ayasaki is a teenager who has had hard luck since the age of nine because both parents are gambling addicts. They owe $156 million yen to the Yakuza and have donated Hayate's organs to pay it off. The problem is that he is still alive and the Yakuza are going to kill him to get the parts. Hayate decides to kidnap a young rich heiress named Nagi Sanzenin and ransom her for the money. But he ends up saving her from some other kidnappers and becoming her butler after Nagi pays off the Yakuza, even though he will have to work for 40 years to cancel the debt. In this fourth volume, Hayate must fight off one of Nagi's relatives that wishes to claim the family fortune for himself, a relative who just happens to be piloting a giant robot. Then when Nagi starts attending an exclusive school for the rich and talented, Hayate begins to miss his own school a bit. This is a hilarious and good hearted comedy manga.

    My Grade: A

    Hayate the Combat Butler Volume 4 by Kenjiro Hata. Translated by Yuki Yoshioka and Cindy H. Yamauchi. Adapted by Mark Giambruno. Originally published in Japan by Shogakukan in 2005. Published in the States by Viz, for Older Teens, $9.99.  

    Direct download: Episode_40--Hayate_the_Combat_Butler_4.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:23pm CST

    Episode 39: The Fall of Geneon and a Review for Witchblade Volume 1

    First up, some thoughts on the continually expanding mess that is Geneon... Hmmm.....rhymes with Enron...hmmmm...then it's on to a review of the first volume of the Witchblade anime from Funimation.

    Six years ago Masane Amaha and her daughter Rihoko were found at the epicenter of a giant earthquake that reduced most of Tokyo to rubble and even submerged areas in the sea. She had no memories of her life before that moment when she woke with a child she had no recollection of in her arms. If not for medical records, the authorities would not have known Rihoko was her daughter. Over the past six years Masane has grown to love Rihoko and will not allow the Child Welfare Department to take her away. While languishing in a jail cell, she is attacked by a mysterious organic machine called an Ex-Con, which triggers the sentient Witchblade, an ancient weapon born to destroy and fight.

    My Grade: A-

    Direct download: Episode_39--Witchblade_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:49pm CST

    Street Fighter: Sakura Ganbaru! Volume 1 by Masahiko Nakahira

    Manga Review for Street Fighter: Sakura Ganbaru! Volume 1 by Masahiko Nakahira. Translated by Michelle Hayashi and Rie Shibazaki. Adapted by Jim Zubkavich and Matt Moylan. Published by Udon for $12.95, size: 8.1 x 5.8 inches. Originally published in Japan by Shinseisha.

    15-year-old Sakura Kasugane has a secret life outside of school that she doesn't want her parents to know about. She is a street fighter being trained by a martial artist from Hong Kong named Dan Hibiki. He  originally came to Japan to study martial arts but he has become more and more intrigued by Sakura's natural talent when it comes to studying fighting techniques. All he has to do is show her a move and she can not only mimic it but incorporate her own personal styles to compliment it. Another student at her school, the heir to the vast Kazuki business empire, Karin Kazuki, is also a street fighter. Her ancestors were great warriors who lived by the motto "In all things, be victorious!" She has translated this belief into becoming the greatest street fighter in the city. She has no equal until she encounters Sakura, and then she sets all her energy into defeating her.

    I was never a big fan of the Street Fighter videogames, even though I remember when it was strictly a stand up arcade game. There was a time when Street Fighter 2 coming to the Sega Genesis was the biggest news this side of Halo 3. I bought the game and was decidedly underwhelmed by the experience, perhaps because my best friend could beat me easily. But I like the IDEA of the videogames and the design of its characters and I like a bit of fighting manga so I decided to give Sakura Ganbaru a shot. First up, the art is awful. Nakahira's characters all look a bit plump and the two main female leads look the opposite of feminine. Even when there's a panty shot, it feels like you're looking at a guy in his underwear because of Nakahira's lack of knowledge or total denial of the female body. I would even call the art a bit primitive. While the fights should have plenty of money shots, they mostly consist of blurred drawings with what look like small explosions signifying impacts. You really shouldn't have an artist that does poor fight panels doing a manga like Sakura. The personalities of the characters were interesting, if a bit colorless, but the art was just way too ugly. Has six color plates and some bonus pages taken from the Street Fighter Alpha manga showing how Sakura met Ryu.

    My Rating: C

    Direct download: sakuraganbaru.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 11:14pm CST

    Episode 38: Hikaru No Go Volume 7 by Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata

    Podcast #38 of Sesho's Anime and Manga Reviews. A few comments on Xbox 360 failures and Naruto videogame, a manga writing relative of a co-worker, and the rudeness of ANN, then it's on to a review of Volume 7 of the Hikaru No Go manga.

    Hikaru No Go Volume 7. Written by Yumi Hotta and drawn by Takeshi Obata of Deathnote fame. Translated and adapted by Andy Nakatani. Published by Viz as part of their Shonen Jump line. Originally published in 1998 by Shueisha in Japan. $7.95, For all ages.

    Hikaru is currently ranked 18th in the Insei B League and does not appear be moving up in the ranks at all. It is three months until the Young Lions Tournament in which Insei play against rookie pros. If Hikaru hopes to play against Akira Toya, he has to at least be ranked 16th in the A League. He has his work cut out for him and the fear in his heart is keeping him from making any progress towards his goal.

    My Grade: A+

    Direct download: Episode_38--Hikaru_No_Go_7.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:47pm CST

    St. Lunatic High School Volume 1 by Majiko!

    Review for St. Lunatic High School Volume 1 by Majiko! Translated by Alethea and Athena Nibley for Tokyopop, $9.99. Originally published in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten in 2004. For ages 13+.

    Niko Kanzaki and her brother Atchan have fallen on hard times. They live alone and are behind on their rent and sometimes there are barely able to keep from starving. But Fate seems to cast a favorable eye on them when Atchan gets a job as a nightschool teacher at the prestigious and elite St. Lunatic High School. The ad that he responded to said the position came along with free housing including a private bath, toilet, and garden. When they arrive on the school grounds they are shocked to discover that they will be living in a hellhole shack even worse than the ratty apartment they were in! The bath and toilet they were promised turns out to be the school restroom facilities that all the students use. The garden just turns out to be the school's landscaped grounds. As an added bonus, Niko is allowed to attend night classes with her brother as homeroom teacher. The aspect of this manga that pushes it from normal school life to the realm of the bizarre and strange is that the students that attend St. Lunatic at night are all DEMONS! And most of them are pretty funky looking. You have skeletons, human sized frogs, pumpkinheads, a walking Easter Island statue, and a penguin that looks like it fell out of Disgaea. There is one fellow student that looks human, a handsome boy named Ren-kun, but even he is a demon who can fly with the use of bone-like wings. Being the only human in the class, Niko faces a lot of discrimination from the demon children but she's trying her best to get along with them and learn at the same time.

    St. Lunatic High School was a manga that Tokyopop originally offered for sale only on their website, a fate that some titles were subjugated to because of low sales expectations. It turns out that the lack of belief in this title was justified. Relative to the writing and concept, the art was the standout of this first volume. Majiko's style and character designs reminded me a bit of Takeshi Obata's work on Hikaru No Go but with less attention to detail and backgrounds. The writing is where this book suffers the most. First of all, the concept of a demon night school, while not the most original in the world, could've worked if the characters had been anything more than voided lumps of flesh with no personality. The comedy aspects of the book were also flat and humorless. There just wasn't anything interesting going on in this manga and it became rather boring. If you read this book on a Monday, by Friday you won't remember much about it.

    My Rating: D

    Direct download: st.lunatic.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 11:11am CST

    Episode 37: The Law of Ueki Volume 7 by Tsubasa Fukuchi

    Podcast review for The Law of Ueki Volume 7 by Tsubasa Fukuchi. Translated and adapted by Yoshiko Tokuhara and Filomila Papakonstantinou. Originally published in Japan in 2001 by Shogakukan. Released in the states by Viz for $9.99. Rated T for Teen.

    Ueki has whittled Robert's 10 down to 2 but these last two members might just be the most powerful. First up is Taro Myojin, who is a cheater because he has TWO powers: the power to change whistles into laser beams and the power to change cards into saws. Then a King Candidate named Inumaru reveals that his champion, Seiichiro Sano is the last member of Robert's 10 and that he wishes to save him from the evil influence of Robert Haydn. At this point it's not clear whether Sano joined of his own freewill or he was somehow forced. Ueki and friends proceed to a showdown in Robert's underground hideout, Dogra Mansion.

    My Grade: B+

    Direct download: Episode_37--The_Law_of_Ueki_7.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:02pm CST

    Episode 36:Ah My Goddess Season 2, Flights of Fancy: Volume 3

    Reunited And It Feels So Good. After a brief overview of this series, it's on to a podcast review of the third volume of the second season of Ah My Goddess. Keiichi has his hands full when a fourth goddess, Peorth, arrives on the scene to fulfill his hidden desires. She sets about doing anything to get him alone in order to seduce him into uttering his wish. But even Keiichi is at a loss as to what that wish is. Then an ex-member of the auto club comes to town, and is shocked to see how much the club has changed since she left. Her and Keiichi hit it off and agree to race tiny motorcycles. Urd has her own romantic entanglements as an old lover called the Troubadour returns after years or centuries of questing for the mythical Golden Nightingale.

    ADV Films, $29.98, 100 minutes.

    My Grade: B

    Direct download: ah_my_goddess.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:52pm CST

    Best Student Council Volume 5: Special Talents, Crazy Times

    Pucchan isn't the only puppet on the block anymore. Izumi finds a puppet named Lance in a box in an alley that has the same abilties of sentience as Pucchan. Lance actually knows Pucchan as well. It seems they are old friends and both used to serve Rino's mom back in the old days. His arrival ushers in the fact that Rino has a far more important role to play at the school than was previously thought, even though it's pretty mysterious at this point. There are many mentions of her awakening that leaves the viewer a bit confused as to what Rino is. Rino's friend, Ayumu, takes centerstage when she is enlisted to become a pop idol, being marketed under the slogan My ordinariness is what makes me special. It brings some unwanted attention from her ninja clan family who see her as a traitor because she turned her back on the martial arts in the pursuit of a normal life. Her brother is sent to bring her back or kill her! The last episode concerns a Yu-Gi-Oh type trading card game which uses the Best Student Council as its characters. Most of the students play it and it's also a big revenue source. But some of the Council are not happy with their stats on the cards and want to revise them to be more flattering.

    This is one of the weaker volumes in an otherwise very funny series. The addition of Lance to the cast for a brief time is the prize catch in my view. When he first meets Pucchan, they engage in a slow motion Matrix-like battle that is hilarious. The great thing about Best Student Council is that beneath the humor and zaniness, the characters have depth. For example, Ayumu's battle with her brother ninja is a little goofy on the surface, but the emotional context of it is a very human thing. She wants freedom to do what she wants and her family is stifling her. Even the whole pop idol facet of it is a satire of a Japanese industry that takes young girls and uses them for a time and casts them aside when they are no longer hip. That's the trick for this kind of show. To not only make you laugh at and with the characters, but to make you care for them as well. A funny and sometimes surprisingly touching anime.

    My Grade: B

    Category:Anime DVD Reviews -- posted at: 11:40am CST

    Episode 35: Kamiyadori Volume 2 by Kei Sanbe

    Episode 35: Manga Podcast Review for Kamiyadori Volume 2 by Kei Sanbe. Translated by Ray Yoshimoto and adapted by Mike Wellman. Published by Tokyopop for $9.99. First published in Japan in 2004 by Kadokawa Shoten. For Ages 18+.

    Vivi and Rady are trapped in the Deep Isolation Temple, unable to move against Yotsume and the Infected Liberation Front because they have no weapons. That doesn't keep Vivi from assaulting them kamikaze style, exposed rear end and all. The whole thing appears suicidal because Yotsume seems to have the power of a Right Arm, which no human can beat. Meanwhile, Jillald and the other Scudra forces try to force their way into the complex to help Vivi and Rady before it's too late.

    My Grade: A

    Direct download: Episode_35--Kamiyadori_Volume_2.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:36pm CST

    Episode 34:Pick of the Litter Volume 1 by Yuriko Suda

    Podcast review for Pick of the Litter Volume 1 by Yuriko Suda. Translated by Alethea and Athena Nibley. Adapted by Kristin Bailey Murphy. Published by Tokyopop. First published in Japan in 2004 by Kadokawa Shoten. $9.99

    Riku Fukagawa has no memory of ever having a family. He was discovered walking the streets alone five years, knowing only his name. He lived in orphanages for the next couple of years and it was there that he decided his life would be spent helping others. Now, he's living in school dorms and is heavily involved in student life. That's when some weird street vendors show up claiming that he is their lost brother and that Riku was not even born in this world! Maybe that's why one of his brothers has rabbit ears? They take him back to their land through a dimensional gateway to see if it will jog his memory.

    My Grade: C-

    Direct download: Episode_34--Pick_of_the_Litter_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:07pm CST

    Episode 33: Togari Volume 2 by Yoshinori Natsume

    Togari Volume 2 by Yoshinori Natsume. Translated by Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt. Published by Viz. First published in Japan in 2001 by Shogakukan. $9.99. Rated T+ for Older Teens.

    Tobei has been roasting in Hell for around 300 years, ever since he was executed at the young age of 16 for innumerable crimes. In those 300 years of torture and pain he has never once renounced his crimes or felt remorse. Now Lady Ema, the overseer of Hell, offers him a deal. If he can destroy 108 sins, called Toga, in 108 days, he can get out of Hell. He is given a wooden sword called Togari and sent to Earth. One of his guards, Ose, also accompanies him, mainly staying in the form of a dog. If he even thinks about committing a sin, his old execution wound opens. He is also not allowed to hurt the human host of a Toga. If he does, his head is in danger of falling off his body! Will human kindness be able to turn him away from his dark past of killing and stealing?

    My Grade: A-

    Direct download: Episode_33--Togari_Volume_2.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:19pm CST

    Puri Puri Volume 2 by Chiaki Taro

    Puri Puri Volume 2 by Chiaki Taro, published by DrMaster, Originally published in Japan in 2005 by Akita, Translated by Daniel Sullivan and Asako Otomo,$9.95, Ages 15+

    When Kamioda transferred to the St. Sophia school, he assumed that the faculty and the principal knew he was doing so in order to become a priest. Imagine Kamioda's surprise when he finds out his adopted father neglected to tell the principal about his goal. The principal tells him that the priest track was deleted from the school curriculum once it became an all girl school. Besides, St. Sophia is moving more and more towards becoming a regular private secular school. In fact, the principal has been sent to accelerate this process. He thinks that that the conservative nature of St. Sophia is actually holding back the intellectual growth of its students. He does agree to reinstitute the priest course track for Kamioda though. The usual length of study is three years, but Kamioda only has two! He must join all the Monastic Order Clubs and participate in them enough to where the president of each club will give him a stamp in a booklet. The first two clubs he joins are the Choir Club and the Exorcist Club. He's quite shocked to find out that the Choir Club is actually a rock band led by the cute Ririsu Mamiya who enlists his aid to seduce her crush, a male teacher! The Exorcist Club has only two members, counting Kamioda. The other is Ayumi Soma, who only did her first exorcism last volume. She and Kamioda are sent to exorcise a ghost with a pit stop at a hot springs resort.

    This second volume actually improved on the first volume. I guess what I like about it is its irreverent take on Western religion. When the principal says he's going to reform the school and allow more self-expression, his nun assistant is the first one to take off her habit and split the side of her dress to show more leg! An my god, Kamioda, a PRIEST? The guy has absolutely no control over his desires or his attraction to girls. In fact, we never see any religious instruction whatsoever in these first two volumes. If you didn't know it was a divinity school, you would never realize it, except for a few nuns here and there. Most of the characters are ones you see in any high school comedy manga. The one thing that sets this title on a higher level is the gorgeous art. Without that, all the fan service and titillation would mean nothing. The girls are sexy. The writing very witty and fast. Very funny.

    My Grade: A

    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 5:19pm CST

    Episode 32: Red Garden Volume 1

    Podcast review for Red Garden Volume 1 anime DVD directed by Kou Matsuo. Series composition by Tomohiro Yamashita. Episodes 1-4, 100 minutes. ADV Films $29.98.

    4 girls from the same private school in New York City have two things in common. They have all lost their memories from last night and all of them were friends with a missing student named Lisa Meyer whose dead body was recently found. At first glance, it appears she committed suicide but two police investigators suspect some sort of foul play. The four girls, Rose, Claire, Rachel, and Kate begin to see mysterious butterflys which lead them to a meeting with a mysterious woman named Lula who tells the girls that they are dead! She tells them they were brought back to life, that she tried to save Lise as well, but couldn't secure her body. To continue the pseudo life they are living they will have to fight. Just at that moment a man approaches them with glowing eyes, and running along on all fours making dog noises, his legs deformed into the shape of canine back legs.....Lula tells the four that they have to kill him...

    My Grade: A-

    Direct download: Episode_32--Red_Garden_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:10pm CST

    Episode 31: Atelier Marie And Elie Volume 1 by Yoshihiko Ochi

    Atelier Marie and Elie: Zarlburg Alchemist Volume 1 by Yoshihiko Ochi manga podcast review. Published by Tokyopop. Originally published in Japan in 2001 by Enterbrain. Translated by Althea and Athena Nibley. $9.99 For Ages 13+. This title is based on a pair of videogames released for the Playstation and Playstation 2 that were only released in Japan back in the 1990's and 2005. Marie, a world-travelling alchemist has decided to return to her hometown, Zarlburg, after spending years adventuring. She doesn't adjust too well to the trappings of normal life and is a bit antsy until she meets Elie. Elie is a recent graduate from the Zarlburg Academy and practically hero worships Marie. After all, Marie did save her life when she was a kid. Elie talks Marie into opening a shop with her in town to use alchemy in a practical fashion to help people. First up, a skyscraper sized monster called a Puni Puni, a hideous globular smiley face that crushes everything in its path, which might include Zarlburg!

    My Grade: C-

    Direct download: Episode_31--Atelier_Marie_and_Elie_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:24am CST

    Episode 30: Shiki Tsukai Volume 1 by To-Ru Zekuu and Yuna Takanagi

    Episode 30: Shiki Tsukai Volume 1 Manga Podcast Review. Story by To-Tu Zekuu and art by Yuna Takanagi. Translated and adapted by Mayumi Kobayashi. Published by Del Rey for $10.95. Originally published in Japan in 2006 by Kodansha. For ages 13+. Akira Kizuki does not like to fight or confront people but he finds himself drawn into a battle between rival Keepers of the Seasons, the Shiki Tsukai, magic-users that can control the seasons, who are fighting amongst themselves about the best way to restore the Earth's climate to its normal state. One side thinks that killing off part of the human population will heal it! Akira is being sought out by the more anti-population faction because they believe him to be the Shinra, a Tsukai that can control all the seasons and bring about their victory. Will Akira gain the ability to defend himself and the strength to make a choice about whose side he is on?

    My Grade: F

    Direct download: episode_30--Shiki_Tsukai_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:43pm CST

    The Drifting Classroom Volume 5 by Kazuo Umezu

    Viz Signature, $9.99, Rated M for Mature. Originally published in Japan in 1974 by Shogakukan. Translated by Yuji Oniki.

    In the last volume of Drifting Classroom, after many students had died fighting a bizarre and horrifying creature that looked like a cross between a scorpion and a centipede, we were introduced to a concept right out of Forbidden Planet. The monster was an exact reproduction of a drawing one of the students had made. Somehow, this monster had come to life from the mind of the student Nakata, and disappeared when he lost consciousness. Now, miniature versions of the creature are swarming around the school, ripping and eating the flesh off students in a matter of seconds! Of course, the first thing the students do is blame Nakata and some of them even want to kill him in cold blood. Will Sho, the elected leader of the school, be able to hold back a bloodthirsty mob that just might have the only solution for their survival? As if this wasn't bad enough, a strange sickness is spreading across the campus, a sickness that the only student with any medical knowledge recognizes as the Black Plague! Oh man, are these kids having a bad day or what?

    I'm getting really curious as to why and how these kids have been transported across time seemingly only to suffer and die. I'm sure I could find some online resources that would tell me the ending and explain everything but I don't want to do that. I'm ALMOST perfectly content to find out in this manga's own good time. Sometimes I think that they are not in the future, but in Hell. How else could so many horrible things be happening to them? I hope it's not just some alien experiment to see how humans react to adverse conditions or the like. The horror at times seems a trifle over the top and sadistic, especially since all this is happening to innocent kids. Well, I don't know if they're quite innocent. They have killed and been killed. This volume underlines the fact that humans are prepared to go on a witchhunt at the drop of a hat. Witness the Twilight Zone episode The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street. I have faith that these kids, at least some of them, are going to make it back to their parents. A great read if at times a bit implausible.

    My Grade: B+

    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 7:55pm CST

    Episode 29: Kashimashi Volume 3 by Satoru Akahori and Yukimaru Katsura

    Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl Volume 3 Manga podcast review. Story by Satoru Akahori. Art by Yukimaru Katsura. Character designs by Sukune Inugami. Translated by Adrienne Beck. Published by Seven Seas. Originally published in Japan 2005 by Media Works. $10.99 Rated Older Teen (16+). After being killed by a malfunctioning spaceship, Osaragi Hazumu is resurrected as a girl which leads to much romantic confusion with Tomari, his childhood friend, and Yasuna, the girl that rejected his declaration of love. Even his male friend, Asuta, develops a crush on Hazumu now that he's a girl! In this volume Yasuna and Tomari decide that their love for Hazumu will see them through this tough situation and that they don't have to be rivals, but allies.

    My Grade: B

    Direct download: Episode_29--Kahimashi_Volume_3.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:52pm CST

    Guyver Volume 3 Anime DVD Review

    With the help of Guyver Unit 3, Sho has managed to destroy the Japan branch of Chronos, and also gotten Guyver Unit 2 out of the way. With its leader, Guyot, presumed dead in a helicopter explosion, Sho thinks it's finally time to kick back a bit and return to his normal life. Boy, is he wrong! Agito, who is secretly Guyver 3, knows that the tendrils of Chronos spread over the world like so many spider webs and that the job is not finished quite yet. The plans of both young men go seriously awry when Guyot shows up alive and well. He now plans to destroy the very life that Sho wants to return to. He kidnaps not only Tetsuro, who knows all about the Guyvers and Chronos, but also the innocent Mizuki, and even Sho's father! They have been taken to Relic's Point, a vast underground island base of Chronos, where the Guyvers were first found. It also doubles as a mass production factory of Zoanoids rights out of Attack of the Clones. Sho heads for the island, along with a mysterious reporter who packs a custom made pistol that can kill Zoanoids.

    Volume 3 is notable for answering some questions that viewers had about the series and its characters. We finally get some clues, or at least one explanation of why Agito is helping Chronos on the surface but secretly working to destroy it from within. Even though he seems seriously in danger of becoming that which he hates. Even though he appears heroic at the moment, we know he's going to go bad because at the beginning of Volume 1, Sho was preparing to do battle with him. What we are watching now is an long flashback on how things got to that point. All the emotions of this show seem real and immediate, namely because Sho is fighting to save his friend, his love, and his dad. What more noble things are there to fight for? The monster designs are the weakest link in this show, but I've seen so many goofy-looking Zoanoids at this point, I've gotten used to it. A great show. Now if we just convince Viz to reprint the manga!

    ADV Films, Episodes 9-12, 100 minutes

    My Grade: A-

    Category:Anime DVD Reviews -- posted at: 2:28pm CST

    Episode 28: Puri Puri Volume 1 by Chiaki Taro

    Puri Puri Volume 1 by Chiaki Taro manga review podcast. Published by DrMaster. Originally published in Japan by Akita Publishing. Price: $9.95 Ages 15+. The students of St. Sophia Girl's School have fallen off the correct path of what is morally right. They fight, they are slovenly, and they do not take care of their personal hygiene. The principal thinks that what the school needs is a boy to change the attitudes of the girls. Masato Kamioda is the first lucky/unlucky boy to be admitted. He has always dreamed of being a priest but it is going to be pretty hard to complete his studies with there being so much animosity at his arrival.

    My Grade: B+

    Direct download: Episode_28--Puri_Puri_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:52pm CST

    Episode 27: Kurohime Volume 1 by Masanori Ookamigumi Katakura

    Manga review podcast for Kurohime Volume 1 by Masanori Ookamigumi Katakura. Published by Viz under their Shonen Jump Advanced line of books. Originally published in Japan by Shueisha in 2000. Price $7.99. For Older Teens. A do-gooder gunslinger named Zero searches for the legendary witch-gunslinger named Kurohime, the woman that saved his life 10 years ago. He's also in love with her but he might change his mind when he meets her in the flesh. It seems that shortly after she saved his life she was cursed with the body of a young girl for daring to aspire to be a god. The only way to break the curse is for her to fall in love!

    My grade: D

    Direct download: Episode_27--_Kurohime_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:33pm CST

    Episode 26: Naruto Uncut Box Set 3

    Anime DVD Review podcast for Naruto Uncut Box Set 3. Viz Video $49.98. 3 DVD set containing Episodes 26-38 of Naruto. 325 Minutes. Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura enter the Forest of Death to attempt the second part of the Chunin Exam. Half of the three man teams are given Heaven scrolls, the other half Earth scrolls. To complete the test, you must defeat another team and take their scroll, then make your way to the tower in the center of the forest. First up for Naruto's team is a criminal ninja named Orochimaru who was disguised as a examinee, but whose real purpose is to win over Sasuke as a disciple. Extremely tight fight choreography, great animation, and evolving characters make this a sure thing. My Grade: A

    Direct download: Episode_26_Naruto_Uncut_Box_Set_3.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:13pm CST

    Episode 25: Naruto Nation A few thoughts on Naruto and Shonen Jump anime versions vs. manga versions  Month by month releases of the Naruto Nation media blitz starting this week. Movies, dvds, manga, trading cards, art books, novels, ani-manga, reference works, and games are just some of the Naruto items coming out in the next 4 months. If you're a Naruto fan, please prepare to go without food for a couple of months!
    Direct download: Episode_25--Naruto_Nation.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:28pm CST

    Episode 24: Innocent Venus Volume 1 Innocent Venus Volume 1 Anime dvd Review. ADV Films $29.98. Episodes 1-4. 100 minutes. After a series of hyper hurricanes kill off half the Earth's population, nations have to find ways to rebuild. Japan develops power suit and mecha technology that gives them a military advantage over their neighbors. It also gives the Logos, the inhabitants of the cities, power to control the Revinus, the inhabitants living in the slums outside the cities. Jin and Joe are trying to whisk Sana Nobuto out of the reach of Logos and their bloodthirsty extreme ops force, Phantom. My Grade: A-
    Direct download: Episode_24--Innocent_Venus_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:27pm CST

    Maison Ikkoku Volume 13 by Rumiko Takahashi Maison Ikkoku Volume 13: Game, Set, Match by Rumiko Takahashi. Let's get old school for a moment. I've bought Maison Ikkoku over the past couple of years and am about to finish up this excellent series. This review is for the out of print first edition published in 1999 by Viz. Manga came in a much bigger format back then and came flipped. It was also more expensive. This volume retailed for $16.95. Viz ended up reprinting the series in the more standard tankoban size at $9.95. I have read volumes of both and the only difference that sticks out besides the flip/unflip is page count. The old editions wrapped up in 14 volumes while the newer versions took 15. With only one volume to go, things are rapidly coming to a head. At least one of Godai's problems seems to be solved as Coach Mitaka debates proposing to Asuna under the assumption that he made her pregnant while in the midst of a drunken stupor. He also begins to realize that he might just care for her. But Godai still has problems of his own as his teaching exams are rapidly approaching and he's on the skids with Kyoko. She's angry at him for not exerting any self-discipline to get ahead in life. She's also mad because he always gets into compromising situations with women because of his wishy-washy nature. Because of this, Kozue comes around again after she gets proposed to by a guy she's been dating. She tells Godai she doesn't know what to answer because she wants to be with him! With all the mess going on at Maison Ikkoku, Godai decides to move out and live at the Bunny Club until his exams are over. Of course, all of the residents don't think he's going to be able to stay away, much less pass his tests! But if he doesn't pass, he won't be able to ask Kyoko to marry him. Finally, after 13 volumes, we're coming to the end and getting to see how this love triangle works out. That's not to say Maison Ikkoku wasn't an enjoyable series. It's a classic. I'm just looking forward to seeing what happens in the last volume. There's a point in this volume where Godai says that if only him and Kyoko would just talk and listen to each other, they could have avoided a lot of misunderstandings and pain. Misunderstandings are what comedy is made of though, and a large part of our daily lives. While keeping the comedy level high throughout its run, Rumiko Takahashi has also put in a layer of complexity dealing with the striving to be accepted by the one you love and the acceptance that there isn't just one love in your life. You can begin again. My Grade: A
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 3:52pm CST

    Episode 23: Strawberry 100%  Volume 1 by Mizuki Kawashita Strawberry 100% Volume 1 by Mizuki Kawashita manga review.  Published by Viz under their Shonen Jump Advanced line. Rated T+ for Older teen with a parental advisory for Mature content. Price: $7.99 Originally published in 2002 by Shueisha in Japan. Junpei is in his last year of middle school and wants to become a movie director. When he goes onto the roof of his school to watch the sunset, a girl falls from above him and lands on the roof. Junpei becomes captivated by the strawberry panties she is wearing. He doesn't even know who the girl was but when he finds a notebook with the name Aya Tojo on it, he begins his quest to find out who she really was. Smacking more of shojo than shonen, this first volume is an innocent comedy with erotic fixations. My grade: B+
    Direct download: Episode_23--Strawberry_100_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:09pm CST

    Episode 22: Hollow Fields Volume 1 by Madeleine Rosca Hollow Fields Volume 1 by Madeleine Rosca manga review. Published by Seven Seas for $9.99. Winner of International Manga Award. Rated All Ages. Lucy Snow gets lost in the woods as she takes a shortcut to the St. Galbat's Academy For Young Ladies. What she finds is Hollow Fields, a school that does not charge its students for tuition,food,board, or books. Everything is free as long as you sign a contract to live up to your academic potential. Lucy signs the contract but soon begins to regret her decision when she finds out that the curriculum is designed for the sons and daughters of mad scientists! The student with the lowest grades each week is sent to detention and is never seen again. Will Lucy be able to make the cut, and will she be able to make a friend? My Grade: A
    Direct download: Episode_22--_Hollow_Fields_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:44pm CST

    Episode 21: Kamiyadori Book 1 by Kei Sanbe Manga review for Kamiyadori Book 1 by Kei Sanbe. Translated by Ray Yoshimoto and adapted by Mike Wellman. US edition published by Tokyopop in December 2006. Japanese version published in 2004 by Kadokawa Shoten. $9.99. Rated M for Mature. Contains nudity and graphic violence. Kei Sanbe fashions another apocalyptic world after leaving the CMX series Testarotho with a very awkward ending due to it being cancelled. A virus of tenacious contagion spreads across the world, changing its victims, be they plant, animal, or human into grotesque monsters called kamiyadori. Only a special forces unit of the police known as Right Arms, imbued with the power of the Kamiyadori, can battle on equal terms with the monsters. Their job, to exterminate the infected without mercy or pity. Jillald, a Right Arm, has begun to doubt his purpose and the reason why he has killed so many. His partner, Vivi, an uncivilized Rojek, has no such doubts. My Grade: B
    Direct download: Episode_21--Kamiyadori_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:05pm CST

    Inuyasha Volume 19 by Rumiko Takahashi Inuyasha Volume 19 by Rumiko Takahashi. Translated by Mari Morimoto. Published by Viz. Originally published in Japan by Shogakukan in 1997. Price: $8.95.  For Older Teens. It seems like Kohaku, Sango's little brother, has been freed from Naraku's control, even though he has lost his memory. He doesn't know that he killed his father or even that Sango is his sister. Maybe it's because he doesn't WANT to remember. But Naraku has sent Kagura and a legion of demons to bring him back. Inuyasha is at a disadvantage because he has not adjusted to the heavier weight of Tetsusaiga after it was reforged with one of his fangs. In the heat of battle Inuyasha has to leave Kagome and Kohaku alone, but he soon begins to regret that decision. Meanwhile, Sesshomaru tries to find out how the scent of Inuyasha's blood changed to that of a full demon the last time they tangled. He soon finds out about the true power of Tetsusaiga and how it factors into controlling the demon blood in his half-brother. Some say that blood is thicker than water and it's true in the case of Inuyasha Volume 19. Even though Kohaku killed their father and contributed to the extermination of their entire demon hunting clan, Sango's love is strong enough to still want to redeem Kohaku's life. It wasn't his fault anyway because he was being controlled by Naraku, but some people still wouldn't be able to forgive him for what he's done. But Sango is of sterner stuff. She even states that if Kohaku is just deceiving them, she will kill him with her own hands if necessary. That's a pretty strong declaration. I guess you can never truly give up hope in those you love. Another stroke of Rumiko Takahashi's genius is that you can never truly figure out the character of Sesshomaru. At times, it seems like he wants to kill Inuyasha, at others he seems to be engaging in a form of brotherly competition, and sometimes it seems as if he has a tiny bit of respect for his younger brother. This book continues its great run. My Grade: A
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 8:30pm CST

    Episode 20: Hikaru No Go Vol. 6 by Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata Episode 20: Update on the closing of Anime Avalon in Houston. 40% off everything in the store. 5$ rental anime dvds. General overview of the series Hikaru No Go for readers that have not read any of the previous volumes. Then it's on to a review of Volume 6. Story by Yumi Hotta and art by Takeshi Obata, who also worked on Death Note. Supervised by Yukari Umezawa, a pro Go player in Japan. Price: $7.95 Published by Viz under their Shonen Jump line. Rated: All Ages. Hikaru takes the insei exam to rise up another notch in his quest to beat Akira without Sai's help. Akira has a test of his own as he enters the Shinshodan Series, in which new pros take on veterans as a sort of coming out ceremony.
    Direct download: Episode_20--_Hikaru_No_Go_Volume_6.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:40pm CST

    Episode 19: Gunbuster 2 Volume 3 Gunbuster 2 Volume 3 anime dvd review. Bandai Visual $39.98. Ages 13+. Directed by Kazuya Tsurumaki from a screenplay by Yoji Enokido. Animated by Gainax. Supervised by Hideaki Anno. Nono and Lal'c have reversed roles from the early episodes. Nono has been revealed to be the super powerful Buster Machine #7 and Lal'c has been cast aside as a useless and dangerous tool. But she will be called back into service as even Nono's godlike powers are not enough to fight alone against the planet sized Exelio Fluctuating Gravity Well! Visually stunning romp that leaves you with lots of questions but still in awe of what Gainax TRIED to do. Email: seshos@hotmail.com My Grade: B+
    Direct download: Episode_19--_Gunbuster_2_Volume_3.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:33pm CST

    Episode 18: Peach Girl Volume 4 Peach Girl Volume 4 anime dvd review. Released by Funimation, Price: $29.98. Peach Girl is based on a popular Japanese manga series released in America by Tokyopop. It is pure unadulterated shojo school romance at its finest. Momo is finally in a stable and satisfying relationship with Kairi but trouble soon develops when she meets his brother, Ryo. Ryo has made a habit of stealing all of Kairi's girlfriends and Kairi tells Momo that he is a female version of the treacherous Sae. But in a role reversal, it is Momo who fails to heed the warnings from someone she loves. Sae becomes involved as well when she falls for Ryo. Why do the characters in this series always trust the wrong people? Even though it becomes a bit redundant, you still can't help liking this show. My grade: B+
    Direct download: Episode_18--_Peach_Girl_Volume_4.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:56pm CST

    Episode 17: Eden Volume 8 by Hiroki Endo Eden Volume 8 by Hiroki Endo manga review. Translator: Kumar Sivasubramanian. Published by Dark Horse. Price: $12.95. Ages 18+. Originally published in Japan by Kodansha in 2003. Elijah prepares to settle the score with Pedro as he is assigned by the government to assassinate him at an airport as he attempts to leave the country with his brother. Then things heat up as Elijah and Helena begin to delve into a more intimate relationship. Graphic sex, violence, emotions are all on display in this volume. But the emotion of love runs as a invisible but powerful undercurrent beneath all the spectacle. Also, I comment on the recent controversy about Eden's rumored cancellation. My Grade: A
    Direct download: Episode_17--Eden_Volume_8.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:22pm CST

    Episode 16: Alive Volume 1 by Tadashi Kawashima Manga Review for Alive: The Final Revolution Volume 1. Story by Tadashi Kawashima. Art by Adachitoka. Published by Del Rey $10.95. Ages 16+. Translated and adapted by Anastasia Moreno. Originally published in Japan 2005 by Kodansha. High school students have to deal with an intelligent alien virus that causes its victims to commit suicide. My Rating: C-
    Direct download: Episode_16--Alive_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:25pm CST

    Episode 15: Gon Volume 1 by Masashi Tanaka Manga review for Gon Volume 1 by Masashi Tanaka. Published by CMX, $5.99 Rated T for Teen. This first volume chronicles the adventures of the last little dinosaur left on Earth as he fights against those bigger in size but weaker in spirit and power. Story is told completely with art. No dialogue or sound effects. A pure manga experience. My Rating: A
    Direct download: Episode_15--Gon_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:23pm CST

    Episode 14: Air TV Volume 1 Air TV Volume 1: ADV Films, $29.98, Episodes 1-4, 100 Minutes, Ages 14+. Directed by Tatsuya Isihara. Animation by Kyoto Animation. A down on his luck puppeteer named Yukito comes to a strange little town searching for a winged girl that lives beyond the sky. Instead he meets a bevy of cute girls who all seem to harbor strange secrets. A strangely surreal dreamlike take on harem anime that soothes and perplexes instead of titillates. My Grade: B
    Direct download: Episode_14--Air_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:04pm CST

    Episode 13: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Volume 1 The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Volume 1 anime dvd review. Bandai Entertainment.Ages 13+. 100 minutes. Episodes 00-3. Directed by Tatsuya Ishihara. Animated by Kyoto Animation. High schooler Haruhi Suzumiya is bored with the normal world and only wants to meet aliens, espers, and time travelers. The guy that sits in front of her in class, Kyon is able to make a connection with her and together they form the SOS Brigade. They recruit bookworm Yuki, big boobs ditz Mikuru, and mysterious transfer student Itsuki to investigate mysterious phenomena at school and throughout the city. My Grade: B
    Direct download: Episode_13--_The_Melancholy_of_Haruhi_Suzumiya_Vol.1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:05pm CST

    Episode 12: 10,20, and 30 Volume 1 by Morim Kang Manhwa review for 10,20, and 30 Volume 1 by Morim Kang. Published by Netcomics $9.99 Ages 16+. Translated by Jennifer Park. 10,20, and 30 follows the adventures of three female characters as they feel their way through life and come to terms with what they want out of a relationship. Rok Nah, 16, is not interested in dating boys yet, even though her childhood friend wants to be her boyfriend. Her mother, Krum Yoon, a rising fashion designer, cannot forget her dead husband, even when the president of the company starts to become fond of her. Belle Woo, Krum's niece, is locked in a dead-end relationship with a man who satisfies her sexually, but brings her no closer to happiness. This is a comedy romance drama that looks at life through female eyes from the perspective of three different age groups. Volume 1 was funny, truthful, and authentic. Does contain cartoony nudity and sexual situations.
    Direct download: Episode_12--1020_and_30_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:02pm CST

    Episode 11: Chunchu The Genocide Fiend Volume 1 Manhwa review for Chunchu the Genocide Fiend Volume 1. Written by Kim Sung-Jae and illustrated by Kim Byung-Jin. Published by Dark Horse Manhwa: $10.95, Ages 16+. Chunchu was cursed from birth with the spirit of a demon. Even though he was the son of the Yoong chief, he was cast out and given to the Mirmidon, a tough and severe clan, where it was thought that he would soon perish. Now Chunchu is all grown up and thirsting for revenge. Or is he merely wondering why he was born? Solid award-winning action title from Korea with lots of violence, characterization, and a tiny smack of romance. My Rating: A-
    Direct download: Episode_11--Chunchu_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:04pm CST

    Episode 10: The Death of Anime Avalon. No, this is not a new anime. This podcast is actually a reaction to the closing of  Anime Avalon, the ONLY store specializing in anime and manga in Houston.  They said they could not compete with the big chain stores anymore. This is a disturbing trend that not only touches manga and anime, but also general independent booksellers and music stores.  Who is right, who is wrong?
    Direct download: Episode_10--Death_of_Anime_Avalon.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:33pm CST

    Episode 9: Heroes Are Extinct!! Volume 1 by Ryoji Hido Heroes Are Extinct!! Volume 1 by Ryoji Hido. DMP , $12.95, Ages 13+. Originally published in Japan 2003 by Shinshokan. Translated by Melanie Schoen. The Bazue Empire has sent its three greatest Grand Galactic Generals along with a starfleet to conquer Earth. Cassiel, its leader, has watched too much anime and thinks that the earthlings possess superheroes and giant mecha defenders. When he finds out his image of Earth is wrong, he sets out to train his own Power Rangeresque team called the Earth Force Terra Rangers. My Rating D-
    Direct download: Episode_9--Heroes_Are_Extinct_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:09pm CST

    Episode 8: Eureka Seven Volume 7 Eureka Seven Volume 7. Bandai Entertainment $24.98. Directed by Tomoki Kyoda. Written by Dai Sato. Animated by Bones. Holland awaits the anticipated attack of Charles and Ray, while Renton has to decide if he has the strength to defend Eureka. Dominic investigates Renton's past and meets up with Renton's grandfather. Every aspect of this anime puts it among the elite titles. My rating: A+
    Direct download: Episode_8--Eureka_Seven_Volume_7.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:39pm CST

    Episode 7  Coyote Ragtime Show by Ufotable Episode 7-- Manga Review of Coyote Ragtime Show Volume 1 by Ufotable. Art by Tartan Check. $9.99 Broccoli Books;Ages 13+. The planet Graceland is going to be destroyed in seven days. Hidden somewhere on Graceland is a lost treasure of ten billion space dollars, left by the deceased Pirate King, Blues. Mister and his pals want to claim the money for the Pirate King's daughter, Franca, but Madame Marciano of the Criminal Guild and her 12 Sisters, android assassins in maid uniforms, want to get their hands on it as well. Email:seshos@hotmail.com
    Direct download: Episode_7__Coyote_Ragtime_Show.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:25pm CST

    The Drifting Classroom Volume 4 by Kazuo Umezu

    Viz Signature Line -- $9.99-- Rated "Mature"

    When Volume 3 of Drifting Classroom ended, Sho had returned from the wastelands to find a juvenile delinquent girl gang leader, dubbing herself  "The Princess",  in control of the school.  Volume 4 picks up right where it left off as Sho tries to convince his schoolmates of the weird forest he and the others saw in the desert....and of the fearsome centipede/scorpion creature that lived in it. He's afraid that the monster will come to the school next!  He has a more immediate problem in front of him though:  Trying to organize the student body into a semblance of government to keep things from becoming more chaotic than they already are. A lot of kids, especially the younger ones, are beginning to come apart at the seams, and exhibiting weird, even psychotic, behaviors. Sho knows that if they continue down the road they're on, none of them will survive.  It is decided that he and The Princess will be candidates in an election to choose the leader of Yamato. Meanwhile, the terrible nightmare out in the desert wastes could be creeping closer...

    Even though this series was first printed in the early 1970's, its terror is timeless. There's just something incredibly moving and horrible about an entire school of young elementary and middle school students being cast into a world where everything they knew and cared about has been destroyed. Umezu does a unsettling job of creating a setting where it would be easier to deal with things if you went insane. In fact, by this point, all the adults at the school have been gotten rid of and the series can focus on the true heroes and villains: the kids!  Just like the great writers of literature, Umezu shows just how hard it is to be good when it comes down to the matter of one's very existence. Even Sho is beginning to hit the limits of what his rational mind can take. It's especially poignant to see these kids trying to organize themselves into a governable body. What it tells me is that the school hasn't given up hope. This is powerful stuff and is becoming more intriguing with each volume.

    My Rating:  A

    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 8:50pm CST

    Episode 6: Galaxy Angel AA Volume 1 Galaxy Angel AA Volume 1 is a continuation of the Galaxy Angel anime series and contains lots of laughs, familiar characters, and zany situations as the Angel Brigade continues its lackadaisical quest to find Lost Technology. $24.98 Bandai Entertainment. Podcast correction: Bandai Visual is the Japanese fist in America that is charging too much for anime dvds, not Bandai Entertainment.
    Direct download: Episode_6_--Galaxy_Angel_AA_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:59pm CST

    Episode 5  TetraGrammaton Labyrinth Volume 1 by Ei Itou Tetragrammaton Labyrinth Volume 1 is a horror manga published by Seven Seas under their Strawberry line. For older teens 16 and up. Sister Meg and the apparently immortal Angela team together to fight occult menaces and evil humans in an effort to keep London safe from the forces of darkness.  Plenty of action and gore and scary designs with a tinge of tragedy. Translated by Kenji Komiya and adapted by Shannon Fay. $11.99  Email  seshos@hotmail.com
    Direct download: Tetragrammaton.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:16am CST

    Episode 4 -- Gintama Volume 1 by Hideaki Sorachi

    This is a podcast review for Gintama Volume 1 by Hideaki Sorachi published by Viz under their Shonen Jump Advanced line of manga. Rated for Older Teen $7.99.  Japan's Edo period is ended by the arrival of the Amanto, aliens from outer space, who insinuate themselves into all facets of Japanese society and disenfranchise and outlaw the samurai. Gintoki, Shinpachi, two samurai,  and Kagura, one of the last survivors of an alien warrior race, try to make ends meet any way they can in this adventure comedy that suffers from a bad translation and too much self-awareness.

    My Rating  F

    Direct download: Episode_4_Gintama_Volume_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:07pm CST

    Just wanted to post the links for the Mangacast and Mangablog sites:

    http://community.livejournal.com/mangacast/

    http://www.mangablog.net/

     

    I highly recommend these sites for news and views on manga. You can also find the Mangacast podcast on Itunes as well.

    Direct download: Sesho_Episode_1__Space_Pinchy.mp3
    Category:general -- posted at: 3:52pm CST


    If you want to hear one of the podcast episodes, don't click on the title of the episode to download it. Instead, click on the word "Pod" to the left of the episode title. I just thought it might confuse people because the title lights up when you pass the cursor over it. Or you can click on direct download under the shownotes. I'm also now officially on Itunes as "Sesho's Anime and Manga Reviews" so you can always just subscribe to the podcast portion of my page there.


    I just wanted to say hello to everyone and give a thank you to Ed Chavez over at Mangacast for graciously mentioning my fledgling podcast show and website I just started two days ago. I guess it was about a year and half ago that I got my first Ipod mini (it was a hand me down) and discovered the world of podcasting. Of course the first thing I looked for were podcasts about anime and manga. There were some about anime, but they were boring. They mostly consisted of people talking about anything BUT anime, or they were just reading a review they had pre-written.  I subscribed to a couple of shows but after a few weeks I cancelled all of them. As for manga the only show was the Mangacast. Imagine my relief when I actually found a living, breathing person that was not reading from a script in a dull monotone and a person that was passionate enough about manga that his words could come from the heart instead of a script. Listening to his show made ME want to talk about manga as well, but when it comes to the nuts and bolts of technology, I'm pretty much a nitwit!  So it took me this long just to scrap up the resources, the knowledge, the time, and the will to make a show happen. After going through making just a couple of podcasts, I have even more respect for what he and Jack are doing over there at the Mangacast. It takes time and effort to make these things, and also a bit of courage.  I'd also like to give a shout-out to Brigid over at Mangablog.net for getting interesting and important information about the manga community out almost each and every day. I'm a big fan of her site.


    I will be doing podcasts on manga AND anime but I really don't have any predetermined quotas on how many of each I'm going to do each week.  My site will also be a mixture of podcasts and written reviews. Don't know how often I'll be doing shows either. I'm on summer vacation right now so I can almost do a show every day, but when I go back to work in about three weeks, I imagine I'll do at least two podcasts per week and maybe a written review or two as well. So check back often. As for subject matter in anime and manga, I pretty much read and watch everything except yaoi, so other sites will have to do that duty. It's just not my thing. I'll also be looking at manhwa and world manga from time to time, though I haven't found many non-Japanese manga titles I like yet. I have high hopes for Hollow Fields though, which should be coming in the mail this week.


    So thanks everybody for checking out my website and podcasts. Some of the stuff up for review soon are two manga titles: Gintama 1 and Tetragrammaton Labyrinth 1. Also dvd reviews for Galaxy Angel AA Volume 1 and the last volume of Speed Grapher. If you want to contact me you can email me at:   seshos@hotmail.com

    Category:general -- posted at: 4:02am CST