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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  • What can I say, I just like this song. The video doesn't make any sense, but then again, not many do! This is off the Truth cd, which you can buy from Itunes. Amazon and Ebay probably have it for sale as well.

     

    Category:Video -- posted at: 2:47 AM

    Podcast manga review of Honey Hunt Volume 1 by Miki Aihara (Hot Gimmick, Tokyo Boys and Girls). Translated by Ari Yusuda. Adapted by Liz Forbes. Originally published in Japan by Shogakukan. Published in US by Viz Shojo Beat, $8.99, Rated T+ for Older Teen.

    From the back cover:

    Life's not easy when you're living in the shadow of your famous parents. Can shy Yura, the daughter of an award-winning composer and a world-renowned actress, find the courage to step out on her own now that her super-celebrity parents are getting divorced?

    The media is abuzz when word gets out that Yura's mega-famous parents are splitting up. Already accustomed to the daily pressure of being the child of celebrities, Yura's frustration explodes in a rant against her parents--and her heated words end up being broadcasted live on national TV! When a powerful talent scout hears her impassioned declaration, he offers to represent her. The door to showbiz is now flung open for this timid wallflower--will she try to become an actress in her own right?

    My Grade: B+

    Here's the link for a free 10 page preview of the manga:

    http://www.shojobeat.com/manga/hh/om.php

    Direct download: episode_150--Honey_hunt_1.mp3
    Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:24 AM

    Ok, probably a lot of you are looking at the title of this post and asking "What the hell!?" I don't know if everybody is aware of this but Steve Blum, the voice of Spike Spiegel in the English dub of Cowboy Bebop, has taken on a new starring role, this time in the realm of American animation. Blum now has the lead role as Wolverine in the Nicktoons show "Wolverine and the X-men", and the first three episodes have just been released on dvd. He actually played him in the direct-video release of "Hulk VS." as well. I know anime voice actors do American cartoon work as well, but at least to me, it was unusual for one to land such a coveted role, what with the popularity of the franchise among comic fans and the oncoming blitz of the Wolverine movie (if you haven't already seen it on the Internet). This dvd release has the first three episodes of the TV series, and is worthy of a rent (I would wait for the first season set to buy) even if you're not a comic book fan. You can also watch the first eight episodes for free at the Nicktoons link I'll put at the end of the post. It had a very anime-like feel in that all the episodes feed into an overarching storyline instead of being stand alone episodes. It also deals with the characters on a very personal level instead of them just donning their costumes and beating people up. If you at least saw the live action movies you should have no trouble enjoying the show. I haven't really kept up with the X-men comic in over 20 years and I still liked this animated version.  Here's the official site where you can check out the first eight episodes:

    http://nicktoonsnetwork.nick.com/shows/wolverine-and-the-x-men/commonRoom/index.jhtml

    Direct download: wolverine.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 4:32 PM

    Manga review of Hikaru No Go Volume 14: "Sai vs. Toya Koyo".  Story by Yumi Hotta. Art by Takeshi Obata. Supervised by Yukari Umezawa (5 Dan). Translated and adapted by Naoko Amemiya. English script consulting by Janice Kim (3 Dan). Originally published in Japan by Shueisha. Published in US by Viz Shonen Jump, $7.95, Rated All Ages.

    Yep, that's right, the main storyline of this volume is the battle between Sai and Toya Meijin. You might ask how Toya is able to play with a ghost, and the question is a good one. Shindo persuaded Toya to play online against his friend, Sai, and Toya finally agreed after some misgivings. He just thought that there was something shady about Sai not wanting to reveal his identity. But what is Shindo going to do, tell him the truth? There's no way he would be taken seriously. Actually, Toya and his son, Akira, are both beginning to wonder about Sai's identity, with both of them initially believing Sai is the online identity of Shindo. While they both come to realize that this is not the case, they are beginning to connect the dots ever so slowly. I'm kinda curious to see if Shindo is ever going to tell anyone about Sai. There is a catch to the match. If Toya wins, Sai will have to reveal his true identity. If Toya loses, he has sworn to retire from the world of professional Go. Shindo doesn't know whether to take him seriously or not. But we know Sai is not going to hold back after waiting to play with a Go opponent of Toya's caliber for 14 volumes (He did play him before through Shindo, but he had handicap himself in order to keep from arousing Toya's suspicions).

    I love this series, even though I've never played a game of Go in my life. I look forward to the matches between the characters as if they were actual matches. It was really exciting to see Toya and Sai going toe to toe with no reservations like their previous match. I thought for a while last volume there was a chance of the game never actually being played. Another plot element that comes up in this installment is that Shindo is becoming so good he doesn't need Sai's advice as much when he plays his own games. In fact, he is even starting to give Sai some pointers on how to improve HIS playing! This is a far remove from when Shindo first started playing so clumsily in volume 1. What is going to happen to Sai after he makes the "divine move"? And who will be left standing after Shindo and Akira's inevitable showdown that is bound to happen sooner or later? It was postponed because of Toya's heart attack, which seemed like a cheap trick designed to tantalize fans. I mean, to come to the day of the match and then Akira doesn't show up? The art by Takeshi Obata of Death Note fame is up to the same impressive quality that he exhibits in all his work. Check this series out!

    My Grade: A

    Check here for a free preview of Volume 1:

    http://www.shonenjump.com/manga/hikarunogo/om/

    Direct download: hikaru_14.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 3:02 AM

    Wow, have you seen the numbers for Dragonball Evolution? It has only made about 8 million dollars in two weeks! Ok, anything beyond a million isn't chicken scratch, especially to an impoverished soul like me, but in movie money, that is akin to nothing. On top of that, attendence at screenings of the movie dropped by almost 70% in one week. I haven't seen it. In fact, I'm so out of touch I didn't even realize it had been released. I have never read any of the manga or watched any of the various anime incarnations. What these numbers tell me is that either the franchise doesn't have that many fans (which I know is not true)....or the movie just flat out sucks. I still think I might go see it, just to burn the anime/manga flame. I hope the Ghost in the Shell, Akira, Old Boy remake, or the Cowboy Bebop (Is Keanu Reeves an android?) movies are better. It looks like Dragonball is going in the same trash heap as Speed Racer (Hey, I actually liked that movie, even if I had to put on a welding mask because of the gaudy colors).
    Direct download: dragonball_evolution.jpg
    Category:News -- posted at: 2:05 AM

    Podcast manga review of Wolverine: Prodigal Son Volume 1. Written by Antony Johnston. Art by Wilson Tortosa. Published by Del Rey, $12.99, Rated 13+.

    From the back cover:

    This is not the Wolverine you know.

    Logan is a teenage rebel with a real good reason for having a real bad attitude. Ever since being left in a nearby forest - with no memory of who he was or how he got there - Logan (or Wolverine, as his classmates sometimes call him) has been stuck in a martial arts school in the icy wilds of Canada. No wonder he's bored, restless, and yearning. There's a whole world out there, and Logan can almost taste it. But he's chained to a past he can't remember and can't escape. Now it just may destroy his future.

    My Grade: B+

    See a free preview:

    http://www.randomhouse.com/delrey/manga/preview/wolverine/

    Direct download: Episode_149--Wolverine_Prodigal_Son_1.mp3
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 4:30 AM

    Manga review of Eden Volume 11 by Hiroki Endo. Translated by Kumar Sivasubramanian. Originally published in Japan by Kodansha. Published in US by Dark Horse, $12.95, Rated Mature 18+.

    The storyline that started 4 years after the first story arc continues in Eden volume 11. A shaky alliance has been formed between Elijah, Miriam Arona, and a Propater investigator named Wendy McCall. Elijah is in it to avenge Manuela's execution. Arona, a cop, is in it because the same guys killed her partner, who was Helena's boyfriend. Wendy McCall has been sent to find out about some shady connections between factions of Propater and the Wilhelm Corporation, a bio-electronic arms manufacturer. None of them want to stop with the actual killers. They are small fry. Instead, the trio wants to find the big wigs who ordered the hit. The trail takes them all the way from Peru to Australia. Unknowingly, Elijah is coming closer and closer to his missing sister, who was kidnapped a couple of volumes back, and is being held by Propater, along with Maya, a complex artificial life form that has the ability to communicate instantaneously with the emerging intelligence of the Disclosure Virus. And speaking of Maya, do you remember when Elijah made a copy of the AI in the first volume or so of Eden? It has been implanted into a cyborg body of a school-age girl and named itself Letheia Aletheia and joins Elijah on his journey to Australia. The Disclosure Virus is becoming more and more powerful and is taking over more and more cities. Now, a giant colloid has appeared in Australia as well, and Kate Mishima takes a scientific team into its bowels to investigate, and perhaps even communicate with the mind of the virus.

    I guess I'm getting used to the whole 4 year flash forward deal, because I enjoyed this eleventh volume much more than than the last. Maybe it also has to do with the fact that Endo has finally gotten back to the sci-fi roots of this series after digressing into a long period of gang violence and sex. It's not that the last volumes haven't been awesome in their own right, but a lot of it could've happened in the present day and didn't need such a remote future tag. But in some ways, that's what I like about Hiroki Endo's writing. He doesn't take his sci-fi elements to unbelievable extremes. He simply extends ideas and technology we already have instead, much like Ghost in the Shell. You don't have anything like hyper-spatial travel, galactic empires, or hostile aliens coming to invade like a space opera. Instead, Endo focuses on characterization. That's why I was so upset with the killing of Helena. She played such a big part in Elijah's life and was so important to the plot, and Endo gunned her down just like that with no rhyme or reason as to why she and Elijah broke up. It just seemed like a cheap theatrical trick designed to shake up the reader. Still, I have confidence that Endo will win me back over in coming volumes.

    I also don't know why Dark Horse took so long to put out this eleventh volume. Volume 10 came out way back in May 2008!  And there has always been a darkness about this title coming from their company, as if its cancellation is always an eminent possibility. I hoped Dark Horse saw that this title reached the New York Times bestseller list for manga the week it was released. That's what I hate about these companies. They don't give you status reports or say a title is cancelled. They just let titles drift into oblivion and show no respect for the fans. Can anybody tell me what happened to Octopus Girl or Reiko the Zombie Shop? As far as I know, those titles are on "hiatus". Why can't they just say CANCELLED!?  If it takes almost a year to publish each volume of Eden, give the license to Del Rey, who would treat the title with the respect it deserves. I'm talking about the big wigs at Dark Horse. It seems as though the staffers that actually deal with Eden really love the title. Kudos to Kumar and Steve for doing such a brilliant job with the translation and the lettering.

    My Grade: A

     

    Direct download: eden_11.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 7:59 PM

    I just added Jessica Chobot's blog to my side panel. She's a cool and beautiful young lady who, in addition to loving games and writing and doing videos for IGN (which you can view on XBOX Live), is an avid manga and anime fan. Some of her most recent blog entries are about her visit to the recent Sakura Festival in Japan. She has plenty of pictures and entertaining blog entries, so be sure to visit her site. Here is her Modlife blog which is very visual and flashy (just click on the picture):

    You can also check out her more traditional style blog at IGN:

    http://blogs.ign.com/Jess-IGN/

    Category:News -- posted at: 12:50 AM

    Manga review of Eden Volume 10 by Hiroki Endo. Translated by Kumar Sivasubramanian.  Originally published in Japan by Kodansha. Published in US by Dark Horse, $12.95, Rated Mature 18+.

    After delivering Marihan Ishaq, a Uyghur freedom fighter, into the hands of NOMAD, Kenji believes that he can take a well-deserved rest. But, alas, it's not to be, for Marihan escapes from her captors and goes on the run, not wanting to be caught by Propater, the Chinese government, or Kenji's organization. She again enlists Kenji's aid in an effort to disarm bombs planted by her own people in crowded Chinese public places. One of them has been planted at a shopping mall, so if nothing is done, hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent people are going to die. Kenji usually doesn't do anything unless it serves his own purposes or that of his employer, but something in Marihan's sincere fight for her the rights of her people has touched a chord in him.

    If the entire volume had followed this storyline I would have gushed over volume 10 of this classic series just like I've done over every volume that has come before. Make no mistake. I think Eden is the best manga being printed in English at the moment, and nothing really stands beside it. The characters are just so damn human! Most of the time, Kenji acts like a cold blooded killing machine akin to the Terminator, but here and there, Endo gives glimpses of a very sensitive and vulnerable man who was shaped by the sinister forces of this world to be something he was probably never meant to be. Marihan comes off as his shadow, but while employing violence in her own way, she fights for freedom and civil rights, not for pay. But even she has realized that killing is probably not the best way to achieve political ends.

    Like I said, if Endo had ended the volume with the conclusion of the Kenji/Marihan storyline, I would've loved this book. But, Endo completely shakes up the cast and story by advancing time by 4 years, just like that, with no warning! In the flash forward world of Eden, a lot has changed. South America is now on the verge of joining Propater. Elijah and Helena are no longer an item. In fact, Helena is living with a just resigned cop named Leo Pessoa (who happens to be a triple agent for the cops, Enoah, and Propater), and Helena is planning to leave the country with him. Leo's former partner, Miriam Arona, steps into the story in what seems to be a major role, and possibly become a new love interest for Elijah. The Closure Virus has evolved beyond what we saw in the earlier volumes of Eden.  It has gained sentience and has started to form "colloids", crystalline structures which assimilate organic and inorganic matter. This new form of the virus has claimed over 2 million lives so far.

    I haven't decided whether I like the new direction Eden has moved in. Endo seems to kill off a very major character without blinking an eye. While this underlines the fact that anyone can go anytime in the real world, it still didn't seem to serve any purpose. I also would have liked to have seen the how and why of Elijah and Helena's breakup. It probably had something to do with the difference in their ages, but I had too much invested in those characters simply for Endo to gloss over whatever had broken them apart. It also seemed a bit jarring for Elijah to transform into a slick, cool, under control hitman helping in his father's business without knowing what happened to him in the blank of the four year forejump. Arona is too slight and trivial of a character to comfortably exist in Eden. Endo uses her a lot for comedy relief which undercuts her impact on the story. In fact, she is a hotblooded heroine that would be more at home in Gunsmith Cats than such a serious title as Eden. I'm not giving up on this new direction, since it might be just the newness of it that made me enjoy volume 10 less than other entries in this series.

    My Grade: B+
    Direct download: eden10.jpg
    Category:Manga Reviews -- posted at: 11:48 PM

    I've started a new category on the side panel, "Artists", where I will post links to artists that I like. I've put a link to Saelee Oh over there, but there's also another artist I'd like to bring your attention to. Kairi-Moon was featured in the February issue of Neo Magazine. Her real name is Karen Yumi Lusted. She's half Japanese and is in her final year of Animation study. She's currently learning Japanese so she can talk to her family back in Japan and has plans to teach there (she currently lives in England). She would like a job in animation but would enjoy any job where she could be involved with art.

    You can find her webspace with more art and info at:

    http://kairi-moon.deviantart.com/

    Here's a link to some previews for a comic (manga) she did for Itch Publication, entitled "Final Blossom":

    http://www.itchpublishing.com/news/final-blossom/

    Direct download: Music_from_the_Heart_by_Kairi_Moon.jpg
    Category:general -- posted at: 7:52 PM