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Manga!

More Manga Reviews Here!


ES (ETERNAL SABBATH) VOL.1-2
Written and Drawn by Fuyumi Soryo
Translated by Akira Tsubasa and Adapted by Egan Loo
Published by Del Rey Manga

A gifted neurological researcher named Mine Kujyou discovers the next step in her research one fateful afternoon: a young man named Shuro who has the ability to “hack” the minds others, imprint memories, and force them to accept whatever reality he writes onto their consciousness. Fortunately for Mine, however, Shuro is basically a decent man.

Indeed, Shuro, who has assumed the identity of a missing student and moved in with the student’s family, may not be a man at all. The one thing Mine knows, though, is that he was part of an experiment that created the “Eternal Sabbath” gene, and that Shuro is going to live for a very long time. But her knowledge is about to grow, when a man arrives to explain to her not only who Shuro really is, but that there’s another version of Shuro running around free in the world… and that one, named Isaac, shares Shuro’s powers but not his aversion to hurting people. Isaac is a murderer, and there may be nothing that can stop him.

ES is one of the more interesting mangas I’ve read in a while, presenting an intriguing story, great characters, exciting action, and genuine intrigue as to the direction the story is headed. Plus, as an added bonus, these two volumes are actually longer and contain more story than most mangas on the shelf, almost 225 pages of story. Add these factors together, and you have a book well worth your time and money. Seek it out.

Marc Mason

JOURNAL OF THE VAMPIRE HUNTER: CLAWS OF DARKNESS #1
Written and Drawn by Jerry Cho
Translated by Yun Zhao and Adapted by Ailen Lujo
Published by DrMaster Books

Take a classic western conceit (stranger rolls into town and shakes things up), add vampires, and set it in the modern day and you have JOURNAL OF THE VAMPIRE HUNTER. Nicholas Bane is part-cowboy and part-Blade, and he’s arrived in a small Mexican town looking to stat some shit. Little does he know how much he’ll find.

VAMPIRE is actually based on a novel, and it’s always a little tricky adapting prose work to comics form. In this case, there are some real problems with the transitions between scenes in the book. In some cases, there are large captions written out in the panels; at other times, you’re begging for those captions to appear. There’s definitely an issue of consistency as to how the tale is adapted, both from the novel and from the translation to English language.

However, the book looks really fantastic. The art is vibrant and colorful, with an almost painted quality to it, and the production quality is solid. The action is rendered effectively, and you never doubt Bane’s skills or question his mission. His posture and body language insinuate his intentions the moment you see him on the page. As the series progresses, you hope the rest of the book will catch up to the art.

Marc Mason

KING OF FIGHTERS MAXIMUM IMPACT- MANIAX #1
Written and Drawn by Wing Yan and King Tung
Translated by Ken Li and Stephen Ip
Published by DrMaster Books

Comics based on video games tend to aim low and suck in the execution, so it was something of a surprise that KING OF FIGHTERS entertained me. The premise is simple: a number of “A” level ass-kickers are descending upon South Town, each with their own agenda. But blocking their way, both literally and figuratively, is a nasty gang of thugs who have corrupted and taken control of the town. But with a gaggle of ninjas around, it’s only a matter of time before they start losing their grip and have to escalate the conflict.

FIGHTERS makes no pretense about what it is: a gratuitous exercise in action comics. Cliché upon cliché abounds through the story, whether you’re talking about the airhead female sidekick, or the “save the girl from assault in an alley” sequence, to the two “good guys” fighting to feel each others’ intentions out. But because the creators put so much sincerity into it, you wind up just sort of going along for the ride and not minding.

The book looks really good, too. Production quality is high, and the colors jump off the page and give the art an extra kick. What could have been offensive turns out to be a decent distraction.

Marc Mason

GRENADIER VOL.1
Written and Drawn by Sousike Kaise
Translated by Nan Rymer and Adapted by Terry Atkins
Published by Tokyopop

Rushuna Tendo could easily be mistaken for a traditional blonde bimbo. After all, she’s trying to get home, yet has no idea where it is. Plus, she has that enormous pair heaving upon her chest, and has no qualms about showing them off. But those who take Rushuna at her surface qualities are in trouble… because she’s a grenadier, a high-end wandering warrior without peer, and as sweet as she is, death rides in her wake.

GRENADIER is almost glorious in how it embraces the over-the-top nature of its main character. Rushuna is almost on par with Bambi of BAMBI AND HER PINK GUN in how she is so direct about approaching her objectives. Point, shoot, kill. The end. When a castle stands between her and her destination, and that castle is full of mercenaries holding hostages, she doesn’t take them on because they’re bad men. She kindly gives them an opportunity to let her pass quietly, and when they refuse, it’s time to use the other pair of 38s she carries and start the violence.

The storytelling gets confusing at times, as Kaise struggles in portraying some of the more advanced action sequences. Plus, he puts a little too much focus on his fan-service at the expense of keeping the narrative tight. But as a whole, GRENADIER is so much fun that you can forgive some of these faulty elements. There’s room for those bits to improve as the series progresses, and it looks like I’ll be along for the ride.

Marc Mason

GACHA GACHA VOL. 4-5
Written and Drawn by Hiroyuki Tamakoshi
Translated and Adapted by David Ury
Published by Del Rey

Tamakoshi concludes the first GACHA GACHA in solid fashion with these two volumes. What began as a fairly standard fan-service book and premise (young boy has to cover for female friend he’s in love with, while fending off her sexually aggressive multiple personalities) traveled a long distance in the telling and became a satisfying, romantic series that had a lot of heart and good intent at its center.

When last we left Kouhei, he had traveled into the virtual reality world that gave Kurara her personalities in the hopes of freeing her. Instead, his mission winds up freeing the four purest personalities the VR simulator had to offer. And as they emerge, and as the duo’s feelings for one another emerge, new threats arise that cannot be easily contained. Amongst the worst: a pleasant personality named Kiriko that genuinely develops feelings for Kouhei and decides to battle the woman whose body she shares for his affections. Tricky, especially since Kurara is still living in denial about her own emotions. But all of that takes a back seat when one final personality, named 01, arrives and threatens to eliminate Kurara for good… and she has the power to do it.

Like an epic movie, GACHA moves along at a quick pace and delivers the emotional beats that the reader deserves after sticking with the series from the start. Kurara and Kouhei have been such appealing and sweet characters that you just want to see them finally find each other and enjoy a happy ending of some sort. Fortunately, Tamakoshi-san delivers.

But, before you’re allowed to get too carried away, Tamakoshi-san pulls a fast one and sets up the (probably inevitable) sequel, which promises to be even loopier than series one. GACHA GACHA is proof of why sometimes you need to let a series breathe and develop, because out of the common, you might just get something worth your time. Nicely done.

Marc Mason

Clerks II - July 21, 2006


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