Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hetalia: Axis Powers

Hidekaz Himaruya
Hidekaz Himaruya
English Publisher: Tokyopop

Volume count: 1+

Note: Started as webcomic. Also has anime.

      World War I and World War II were called as such because they were wars on a global scale. WWI came, but left a bitter taste in our mouths. So when WWII came around, action was taken by each country as they once again separated, this time into two primary groups; the Axis Powers and the Allies. Countries including Italy and Japan banded together with Germany. Former Allies members like the U.S.A, Russia, England and France were threatened enough to take up arms. Finally, years after these wars have passed, the stories from that time, before and after, have been put together into a comic. We as countries, are judged on our history past and present. Some things that might come to mind are how England dwells in the magic arts, France is a pompous lover, China has a knack for business opportunity, Italy breathes pasta, Germany makes sure everything is line, Japan is extremely polite, Canada is...there and America has the world's respect as the hamburger-loving idiot he is. Countries are depicted as people themselves to show their individual personalities and unique characteristics in a way which we can all enjoy. Along with many other countries thrown into the mix, our greatest accomplishments, most embarrassing moments and traditions can be retold fairly accurately. From the World Wars to Finland's Christmas, we are given the chance to laugh at and be made fun of together.

     This manga is educational- no, don't run away because it's also incredibly amusing! Hetalia: Axis Powers basically combines everything we know and understand of the countries of our world and retells it in a less serious manner. It's highly enjoyable and pleasing to read. The art in the comic is a little rough around the edges. Although, considering the fact that
Hidekaz Himaruya started this manga as a Japanese webcomic, it's rather impressive. The artist's style is simplistic, cute, amicable and complements the mood of the series. The character designs are somewhat based on stereotypical representations of people from the representing countries. For example, Spain is shown with unruly dark hair, bold eyes and sun-kissed skin that is typical of Spanish men. But just as America is given a tall stature, blonde hair and blue eyes, he is also given a very American attitude. This means each country's personality is also very stereotypically based. Which brings me to the written portion of this series; the stories and situations are taken from real events in history. Even some of the little side stories retain general knowledge and facts. A basic idea of world history helps to understand some of the satire, but readers are also never left in the dark. Occasional explanations are inserted along with the panels to help readers keep up with the jokes. It's carefully written and humorous without being cruel. And it's important to understand that Hetalia: Axis Powers was meant to be entertaining and not insulting. It's a clever and an admirable piece of work that I hope all of you will take the time to read. Even with the problems in the world today, Hetalia: Axis Powers offers us interesting facts, dirty jokes and a new sense of respect for each other...sorta.

I had another way of writing this review but I chose this one. I hope it's okay. Have any of you read this in webcomic form? There's an anime too. Really funny stuff and I felt smarter the more I watched it. Sorry for the EXTRA I squeezed in there. Maybe I should have just waited until I had this post ready to go. Congratulations to all of you on having created such successful blogs. They motivate me to try and do the same with mine. I'm looking into the October line-up of manga and some anime...and
I'll probably be purchasing and reviewing most of them...but I'm not sure what's what. Any suggestions? Thanks again, everyone!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


     I'm sorry, again. Today you're stuck with another extra which doesn't have anything to do with manga.'s fanart lineart and it's not even finished. I'll welcome any advice because I'm still learning and I know it looks weird (that hand might be very off). Photoshop is fun though. Do you guys use it? Man...I apologize again, you'll get a review as soon as I find the box I'm looking for- possibly by later tonight! And thanks again for your great comments, everyone. I'm glad you guys seem to enjoy my blog...I'll be back.
(Oh, can anyone recognize them?)

Monday, September 27, 2010


Tsutomu Nihei
Tsutomu Nihei
English Publisher: Tokyopop

Volume count: 10

Note: Epic.

     The City is a futuristic and technologically advanced world made-up entirely of artificially constructed walls, rooms, platforms, stairs and the occasional elevator. The enormous complex is divided into Floors separated by thick barriers called Megastructures. Machines called Builders continue to expand The City day and night without halt. Life is scarce in this world. Silicon Creatures, A.I. and other mutated forms are the majority of the population. The Netsphere is the central computing system of The City, and with the Authority, commanded everything within it. Unfortunately, access to the Netsphere has been cut off because of complications due to The City's rapid growth. The only way anyone would be able to enter into the system would be through special, yet very rare Net Terminal Genes. The Safegaurd, once used as a tool to prevent humans with Net Terminal Genes from accessing the Netsphere, now are out of control and attempting to eliminate all human life. To make things worse, the Silicon Creatures favor the idea and help as best they can. With humans continuously under attack, any hope left for human civilization rests with Killy. He is a mysterious man with tremendous abilities and is on a mission to find these Net Terminal Genes. He carries an incredibly powerful but small weapon called a Gravitational Beam Emitter. The world as we knew it has gone through enormous change, enough so that no one remember exactly how it happened. It is now up to Killy to complete his mission and prevent the inevitable, the extinction of mankind.

     BLAME! is an incredible piece of work. One interesting fact about the creator is that he went to school to be an architect. The series takes place in a world without vegetation or too many organic forms, so Tsutomu Nihei's skills really have a chance to shine when it comes to buildings. The manga itself was not meant to be pretty so don't expect any flowers or sparkles. The art is fairly rough to look at, and with a second glance, you can also notice that the most basic of techniques used. In fact, his styles can at times gives you the impression of a black and white painting. His style can also be seen as rather grotesque, especially when it comes to drawing certain creatures or scenes. But it is no way an eye sore; rather, more of a beautiful collaboration of a genius skill, knowledge and great efforts combined. The story itself is the central focus of this manga. It may come off as difficult for many people to understand in the beginning, especially since the story starts at a midpoint, but is so worth it. BLAME! happens to be part of what seems to be a collection of conjunctive works by Tsutomu Nihei. So while BLAME! stands by itself, a few other works by the author might help give you better ideas to some of what has happened in this series. The reader will grasp details, piece by piece as the story plays out and unravels itself. Something else that's rather unique about this series is the way people are depicted. Even in the heat of battle, it's interesting (and probably accurate) to see how human instinct and emotion place in an artificial world. These books have a generous amount of blood, action and violence. I wouldn't call it funny but it is genuinely entertaining. An overall intense but amazing series I recommend to those of you with or without an interest in the Cyberpunk genre. BLAME!

This was actually going to be my third post but it turned out to be a lot more of a challenge than I had planned. Sorry for the late update (again) but I always try to thank you guys at least once a day. But seriously, this series might be one of the best I've ever read. I also just realized that it's still September...What should I do for Halloween...Thanks again everyone, I appreciate your support!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Category: Freaks

Author: Sakurako Gokurakuin
Sakurako Gokurakuin

English Publisher: DrMaster
Volume count: 3+ (Volume 4 has not been released yet)
Note: It seriously freaky.

     Humans are the embodiment of envy, greed, fear, desire. These weaknesses are preyed upon by evil spirits known as Freaks. With hopes of gaining strength, they may promise vengeance, wealth, the impossible if it means obtaining a living host. In certain cases, a mortal unable to resist the temptation of a Freak's power may succumb to possession; that is when the Nanami Paranormal Investigations takes a stand. This supernatural unit consists of a small group of individuals, each equipped with an unique ability for defeating Freaks. As the most powerful among them, Asagi Nanami is head of the office with Naoki Amano (the only normal human), as his assistant. Mahime Yoshino helps with the cleaning when she isn't out on an assignment herself and doing her own part when it comes to clean-up, Tokiko is a cute bunny-eared girl in charge of clearing all Freak-related messes. Along with the occasional help of a few other capable beings, the Paranormal Investigations agency works endlessly to bring balance to our corrupt society. Beginning with a regular case, Asagi and Naoki are called out onto the scene of a paranormal incident. Almost immediately, Asagi confirms the presence of fear, rage, jealousy and needless to say, a Freak. But when they're investigation leads to the discovery a suspicious type of flesh doll, they encounter an opponent like they've never seen before. Asagi and his crew must now come face to face with Hainuwele, the mother of all Freaks.

     It's a strange series. Aside from the fact that it's based on paranormal entities, the books are just plain unusual. If any of you are familiar with the mangaka Sakurako Gokurakuin (a.k.a Ashika Sakura), her style defiantly carries on into this manga as well. With her signature, unmistakable art style, Category: Freaks is an acquired taste. The drawings in this manga are simple and rough. Lines have a sharp look to them and detail is used when necessary. When reading through the series, you can also notice how the artist improves over time. While not as delicate and feminine as other styles, the drawings are done skillfully and fit the story appropriately. This series is not for underage readers for many reasons. Violence, blood, language, nudity, sexual content are constants in this manga as well as a bits and pieces of other subjects. Again, to those of you familiar with this mangaka's work, this is probably something you're used to. The story is interesting and a good read. It is after all, a mystery series and the occult theme really makes these books loads more unpredictable. Some of the characters are cute and some can be a little frightening, but they all have their own very different personalities that relate to each other in various ways. I recommend this series to those of you who enjoy a taste of something genuinely strange and dark. To those of you who don't, I still think you should look it up. Who knows, you might find it quite relevant to your interests.

This one was either really short or my last review was just really long. Thanks again, everyone! You guys are great! To be honest, I think I work harder on these than I do on my school essays. I discovered late last night that trying to type up something like this is really not meant for an itouch. At all. Well, look forward to another review from me later tomorrow. Oh, and according to the poll, you guys preferred action and comedy? Anyone else, speak now or forever hold your peace.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Tsugumi Ohba
Takeshi Obata
English Publisher: Viz Media
Volume count: 1+
Note: It gets even more interesting!

     Have you ever wanted to become a manga artist? And how many of you have let that dream slip by? Moritaka Mashiro is a talented 14 year old boy that once had this dream too. As a young boy, he was fascinated by his uncle's works and watched everyday, as his uncle sketched and drew for his manga. But that was in the past. These days he's a normal videogame loving teen with a huge crush and a strong dislike for schoolwork. Convinced and pressured into the average competitive school life of Japanese students, he now only draws for a hobby. Even after winning various awards, Moritaka no longer has the will to pursue his dream. But fate isn't going to let him go that easily. After getting home from an early dismissal, he realizes that he had forgotten his math composition book. Aside from needing it to study for his exam, he recalls that he had been drawing pictures of his crush in that very same book. And that was when the brilliant Akito Takagi stepped into his life...whether he wanted him in it or not. Fellow classmate, Akito is an incredibly smart young man with the grades to prove it. What makes him all the more interesting (and a nuisance) is that he's also an aspiring manga writer completely set on partnering with Moritaka. So when he happens to come across Moritaka's math notebook, he decides to use it in his favor. Akito messes a bit with Moritaka and when he notices the other understands where he's going with it, he makes his offer. Our small hero is taken by surprise when the school's #1 student asks him to be his illustrator. Though claiming to have no desire to be a manga artist, Akito knows Moritaka truly does still want to. Akito decides to return the smaller boy's notes in exchange for Moritaka's promise that he'll think things over. With Moritaka giving Akito's proposition a second thought, will he come around? And what happens when Moritaka's crush, Miho Azuki comes into the picture?

     This is that second manga I purchased from the bookshop the other day. I liked the art and bought it without another thought. That's when I got home and realized that it's by the same artist who drew Death Note. Actually, if you read the comic, Death Note is mentioned a fair amount. And that's because it's also written by the same writer as Death Note. Well, the story is overall hilarious and pretty fast-moving. It moves quickly because the characters move quickly, so it fits and makes it really exciting. The story is about making manga, as some of you might have gotten from that review. When you compare the art of Bakuman to the art in Death Note, it's similar but Bakuman is much more playful. Not that there's just more expressions and jokes, but that the lines are a little looser and not as heavy. Even so it's still fantastic work to look at and certainly won't disappoint. Something that I have always admired about Takeshi Obata, is how his designs are still unique and cartoon-like but also fashionable and seem realistic. Going a bit more into the story, I found it a very interesting read- and in a good way! As mentioned before, the story moves fast with the characters but within the first few chapters a lot happens. Some of you might find the first bit of it a little too unrealistic (like the first few chapter in Hana-Kimi), but I implore you too keep on reading. The story is hilarious and is written very well, allowing you to really get inside the mind of the main protagonist. You'll finish the volume feeling inspired, giddy and as if you were right there with the characters. Another fine job by Tsugumi Ohba. This manga was just released not too long ago and so I believe only volume 1 is currently available in English. But I love it already and plan to collect every single volume. And for those of you who enjoy a head start; the Bakuman anime will begin airing this October! (In Japan)

Sweet. I finally had time to write something. I've gotten back into the habit of paying weekly visits to bookstores and it's taken an awful toll on my paycheck. They've raised the price on some titles and yet I still buy them. Don't worry, it's mainly on stuff most of you won't ever want to pick up. But I wouldn't care paying more if they'd improve the quality of the paper they print on. I honestly want to punch a boat when I see the pages begin to yellow. Should I spray them with UV stuff? Thanks again, everyone!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


     So, I have to apologize for not updating. To those of you familiar with school paperwork, have pity on me. On another note, I decided that I'd post this instead of a review this time. These EXTRA posts will happen every so often for just a bit of a change. I'll still be writing reviews, of course. This is actually a video I put together a few years ago but lost it. I liked it and decided to remake it. Not even anything special but it was fun. For those of you who don't know...this was something like a teaser trailer for Birth by Sleep that you could see at the end of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. Disclaimer is on youtube site. Lemme know what you think and expect a proper review tomorrow. I PROMISE. Thanks everyone!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Karakuridôji Ultimo

Author: Stan Lee +
Hiroyuki Takei
Illustrator: Hiroyuki Takei
English Publisher: Viz Media
Volume count: 2+
Note: It's awesome.

     Feudal Japan; a man who suspiciously looks a lot like Stan Lee is ambushed by a group of bandits. They immediately spot the old man's cargo and move in to inspect it. The old man warns them that the cargo contains two Karakuri Dôji, robotic boys with the incredible powers of Good and Evil. Naturally, the bandits pay little attention to his remarks and open the boxes anyway. Laying inside are two of the most exquisite pieces of work anyone has ever seen! One box holds a angelic looking doll with beautiful milky skin and flaming red hair. The other box contains a menacing creation with spiky dark hair and deep green armor. Apart from the sheer quality of craftsmanship, the bandits notice the two dolls both don large gauntlets and fine silks. When hearing the name 'Ultimo', the red doll opens his eyes and sits up. Displeased with being disturbed, the second doll, Vice, awakens shortly after and unleashes his powers, killing many. Ultimo steps in and the two dolls commence battle, leaving a serious path of destruction behind them. the old man, Dunstan, leaves the leader with a few more words before vanishing and ending the dream. Yamato is rather tall high school student on his way to school. His friend Rune manages catch up with him and then takes the time to remind Yamato that his crush Sayama's birthday is today. Having completely forgotten, Yamato enters a local antique shop with hopes of pawning his schoolbag for a bit of money. But when Rune attempts to drag him back out, Yamato comes face to face with the same doll from his dreams. The doll's eyes snap open when Yamato unconsciously calls out to him. Excitedly recognizing him as a certain leader of a certain group of bandits, Ultimo breaks free from his display and hugs the boy. Sadly, the doll realizes that his former master doesn't remember his previous life but remains optimistic. Ultimo explains that Vice has reappeared and that he must make another pledge with Yammato so that his true power may be released. With the images from his dreams still haunting him, Yamato can only stare at the strange doll. Will he accept Ultimo and take on Evil for the sake of Good? And will he ever find a present for Sayama?

     I came across Ultimo a while ago in Shonen Jump magazine. Though I planned to skipped it, the art pulled me in and I finally gave in. I'm very glad I did. The illustrations are done by Hiroyuki Takei, creator of Shaman-King. His style is fun and lively but still has a sophisticated feeling to it. From the way he draws expressions to how he draws action scenes, you can certainly tell this man is a professional. The lines are rather delicate and feathery but defined. It's one of those styles that uses skillful hatching and minimal screentone patterns. Very high grade material with a classic feel. As for the story...yes, this is Stan Lee's original concept and which is also another reason as to why I read Ultimo. But it's a fun story, it really is. Our hero is an good-hearted, violent, amusing character that you can't help but occasionally face-palming over. Even so, you're rooting for this guy and know he'll be okay somehow. The Karakuri Dôji are all have different personalities based on what they represent. But what you have to understand is that there's a particular element that comes into play; what's Good and what's Evil are based on the beliefs of their creator! I've only started reading the series so I can't really tell how big of a part that will play. Still, the idea is intriguing because we've all more-or-less an idea of what Good and Bad are 'supposed to be'. I'm curious to see if they'll stray away from those ideals. The plot is action packed and with plenty twists already significantly effecting the story, keeping it from getting dull. And an active story-line really makes the story sound that much more promising. So, because this series is new, any of you who decide to read it will be reading it with me. I'm excited about starting this one because it's almost impossible to find a good manga these days that's just good all around and not polluted to keep up with the times. I'll certainly be following this series and I urge you all to do the same!

I fell asleep while typing yesterday. That's what happened, no excuses, I apologize. And today I decided that I would hit the book store I picked up two new series. This is one of them. I'll be posting the other tomorrow. Anyone wanna guess what I picked up? (Hint: fairly new) Thanks again, everyone!