Reviews written between bursts of hectic activity

August 23, 2009 at 8:30 pm (reviews - links)

Life has been crazy lately, but the reviews keep on going up! There’s a new title, Ōoku, in this batch, and I’ve been really looking forward to reading it. It’s by Fumi Yoshinaga, the author of Antique Bakery, Flower of Life, and a number of other things, and it’s an alternate history story in which 3/4 of Japan’s male population dies in a plague and women take on most or all of the vital roles in society. I didn’t write much about the characters in my review, for reasons which I hope I explained well enough, but it’s very interesting.

Since I’m talking a bit about individual series here, I also want to recommend Kaze Hikaru. I hadn’t read it before I started getting review copies (around vol. 10), and have never read the earlier volumes (since the local library system sadly doesn’t have it), but it’s really good. It’s…also a historical story, actually, about a girl who disguises herself as a boy and joins the Shinsengumi. It’s funny and touching and generally awesome.

Anyway, these are the reviews that have gone up on MangaLife recently:

Crimson Hero vol. 11 (B-)
Kaze Hikaru vol. 14 (B+)
Ōoku: The Inner Chambers vol. 1 (A)
S.A (Special A) vol. 11-12 (C-)

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Late July/early August adaptations, and the periodic review link roundup!

August 5, 2009 at 3:56 pm (reviews - links)

Last week may have been a first for me: three of my adaptations were released all at once. DN Angel vol. 12 (one of TOKYOPOP’s two most popular advance August releases at SDCC, according to their Twitter), Phantom Dream vol. 3 (now with a glossary and character list), and Zone-00 vol. 1 (created by the Trinity Blood artist).

Recent reviews over at MangaLife, all from VIZ:

Black Bird vol. 1 (B)
B.O.D.Y. vol. 6 (C+)
Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You vol. 1 (A-)
Ouran High School Host Club vol. 12 (A)
Skip Beat! vol. 18 (B+)
We Were There vol. 5 (A)

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Recent MangaLife reviews

July 17, 2009 at 9:47 am (reviews - links)

I’ve had four manga reviews up at MangaLife recently, and it’s back to being all VIZ, all the time. This selection includes the final volume of Boys Over Flowers (one of THE classic shoujo titles), my first look at Mixed Vegetables, and a new volume of Honey and Clover, which I love more and more as the series continues. (Since I’d seen the anime before picking up the manga, the love was already pretty solid.) And then there’s Honey Hunt, from the author of Hot Gimmick. If they send me enough volumes of Hunt to review, maybe I’ll manage to write a review that doesn’t include references to the trauma of Hot Gimmick. But maybe not.

Boys Over Flowers (Hana Yori Dango) vol. 36 [series finale] (B+)
Honey and Clover vol. 6 (A)
Honey Hunt vol. 2 (B)
Mixed Vegetables vol. 4 (B)

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ANB’s reviews of Phantom Dream, and new MangaLife review links

July 3, 2009 at 2:44 pm (other people's reviews, reviews - links)

A couple of weeks ago, AstroNerdBoy reviewed vol. 1 and vol. 2 of Phantom Dream, which, coincidentally, I just finished adapting a few days ago. (It’s a five-volume series, and the second one I’ve adapted in its entirety; the first was White Night Melody, although only one volume was released.) When he reviewed vol. 1 and wasn’t terribly impressed, I commented and said that vol. 2 is stronger than vol. 1, and happily he agreed.

I think I want to write a real post about Dream sometime soon, but today is not that day.

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Quick roundup of my recent MangaLife reviews:
High School Debut vol. 10 (A-)
The Lapis Lazuli Crown vol. 1 (B) [CMX]
Tail of the Moon Prequel: The Other Hanzo(u) (B+)

I also wrote up a batch of short “what I’m reading” reviews, including vol. 6 of Monkey High!, vol. 13 of Love*Com, vol. 4 of Haruka – Beyond the Stream of Time, vol. 7 of Wild Ones, vol. 2 of The Magic Touch, vol. 13 of Inubaka: Crazy For Dogs, and vol. 3 of St. Dragon Girl.

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DMC: to collect or not?, work update, and some review links

June 21, 2009 at 7:34 pm (reviews - links, upcoming releases)

I don’t often waffle on whether or not to check out a new manga title, but I’m seriously unsure about whether or not to try Detroit Metal City. Since the review copies that get sent my way are almost exclusively shoujo, this one isn’t likely to fall into my hands if I don’t seek it out. I hear really good things, and I certainly read and work on a fairly wide variety of titles/genres, but I can’t decide if DMC sounds like something I’d enjoy. (It doesn’t help that I avoid reviews of things I haven’t read, since most other reviewers tend to talk about more plot details than I usually want to know in advance.)

I already collect a fair number of series, so I’m trying to avoid adding too many new titles to my list for the next little while. But several titles I collect are ending in just a volume or two, which makes it hard to keep from just trying everything that catches my eye. And the DMC waffling continues.

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On the work front, TOKYOPOP now has a preview of ZONE-00 vol. 1 up on their site. That may just be the single most challenging volume I’ve ever worked on, and I say that in full awareness of having done three full-length fanbooks and multiple volumes of Sgt. Frog. ^_^ (Volume 2 was much, much easier than volume 1, for a few reasons.) I’ll be very interested to see what people think of vol. 1 when review copies start going out.

Meanwhile, I’m currently at work on the final volume of Natsuki Takaya’s Phantom Dream, and I’ll be very sorry to see it go. It’s interesting as an early work, as I’ve said to many people, and it also improves noticeably from volume to volume. The artwork in vol. 5 is much, much different from vol. 1 (it looks fairly similar to her style in early volumes of Fruits Basket), and while her plotting isn’t as masterful as it is in Fruits Basket (which I think is structurally brilliant), I really like the characters and the story comes together quite well. I have a long history of really enjoying various series right up until the end and then being disappointed by the way they wrap up, and that didn’t happen here.

And while I’m mentioning Dream: Lillian (Diaz-Przybyl, the current series editor) has given me the go-ahead to tell readers that vol. 3+ will include a glossary and character guide, which should come as a relief to the people who find the plethora of Japanese mystical terms a little, er, overwhelming.

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And as always, a small batch of MangaLife reviews (including some CMX books):
Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea (B-) [CMX]
Sand Chronicles vol. 5 (A+)
Venus Capriccio vol. 1 (B-) [CMX]

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Attempting some regular blogging, and joining the Twitter crowd

June 4, 2009 at 9:16 pm (reviews - links)

I only have one review in this week’s MangaLife update, but since I’m trying to get in the habit of updating more regularly*, I’ll be revolutionary and post it:
We Were There vol. 4 (A)

Also in this week’s update, Alethea and Athena talk about individual translation styles in their column. The Twins and I talk to each other fairly regularly, and our conversations often have to do with work and our respective working styles. I enjoy those discussions very much, and it makes me happy when they sometimes use elements of those conversations as springboards for part of their column. ^_^

*A bit of a challenge, since I usually don’t feel comfortable discussing work in detail and my reviewing for MangaLife tends to take up most of that corner of brain real estate.

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This week I finally gave in and signed up for Twitter; Melinda kept making it sound like fun, and then at AN Sean Gaffney finished the job of talking me into it. So far, I think of it as sharing the one [1] feature of Facebook I actually enjoy, with none of Facebook’s attendant hideousness, so that’s a plus.

I’m primarily planning on using the account to interact with other manga industry folks/bloggers, so it’s had a fairly tight focus in its short life. Given that, it probably won’t be of much interest to non-manga fans, but there it is.

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As May draws to a close…

May 26, 2009 at 9:39 pm (conventions, reviews - links)

My stack of review copies is starting to get a little precarious, so while I’m in between rewrites I’ll have to put a dent in it. It’ll be nice to sit down and read for a while; I haven’t been reading much of anything lately, having just been on vacation for a week and a half (and being stuck in an interesting-but-slow nonfiction book).

OTOH, I met my monthly quota of geek! time by spending the past weekend at Anime North in Toronto. AN is a large con, with over 15,000 attendees this year, and it’s very fan-driven. This year’s pleasant discovery was that we had some (last minute?) industry presence: Lance Heiskell from FUNimation was in attendance, which was fun. I didn’t get to see all of his panels, but he seemed very accessible and entertained a lot of questions, although he couldn’t address several subjects which were being covered the next day at Anime Boston. Good stuff, though, and AFAIK he was the first major industry rep. to come up since ADV made a one-time appearance a few years ago. I hope we get a repeat performance next year!

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Five MangaLife reviews to wrap up May:

Dogs Prelude (vol. 0) (A-)
High School Debut vol. 9 (A)
Kaze Hikaru vol. 13 (B+)
NANA vol. 15-16 (A+)
Rosario + Vampire vol. 7 (B-)

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New releases and unrelated review links

May 7, 2009 at 10:25 pm (reviews - links, upcoming releases)

Two of my rewrites are out or coming out this month: Sgt. Frog vol. 17 and Animal Academy: Hakobune Hakusho vol. 1. The Frog is the Frog; if you’ve read it, you know what it’s like. This volume had a few particularly difficult adaptation challenges (the puns often don’t translate well), but I think it came through okay. ^_^

Animal Academy is just starting out, and it’s adorable. I’ve only read two volumes, so I don’t really know where it’s heading; there’ve been a few hints in those volumes that things might not be as fluffy as they seem from the premise, but since I haven’t read anything else by the author I don’t know yet how far those things might be taken. In the meantime, it’s cute and endearing, and there’s nothing wrong with that. (I haven’t seen a hard copy yet, but the reviews I’ve seen suggest it’s being marketed for younger readers.)

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I’ve had three new reviews go up at MangaLife in the last few weeks (which isn’t as many as usual, but things have been a little insane lately).

Beauty Pop vol. 9-10 (B)
B.O.D.Y. vol. 5 (C)
Love*Com vol. 12 (B+)

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Catching up on a series, and a few reviews

April 14, 2009 at 11:50 pm (reviews - links)

Whenever I get sent a review copy of a manga volume that picks up well into a series I’ve never read, there’s a certain period of debating whether to just read it cold or try to dig up earlier volumes in order to give a more educated review. Sometimes I luck out and my local library has older volumes readily available, which is particularly nice when it’s a series I’d been meaning to check out anyway (Love*Com and Skip Beat! both come to mind).

Sometimes the earlier books aren’t as easy to lay hands on and yet I find myself unwilling to just jump into a series. That’s what happened with Beauty Pop when I got a copy of volume 9–it sat around giving me the evil eye until vol. 10 arrived too, and between them they made me put in the effort to track down the rest of the series. But now I’ve read vol. 1-8, so those two patient books will finally have their day in the next week or so…

Three recent MangaLife reviews:
Captive Hearts vol. 4 (C+)
Otomen vol. 2 (B+)
St. Dragon Girl vol. 2 (C+)

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Miscellany and review links

April 6, 2009 at 10:25 pm (reviews - links)

Copies of Phantom Dream vol. 2 have been turning up in the wild, although its release date isn’t until tomorrow. ^_^ And reading reviews of Shinobi Life is still an inordinate amount of fun. The premise really doesn’t sound brilliant, but Conami handles it so well that it’s a very entertaining read. (It’s not just me–the reviews back me up.) So one of the fun things is seeing how other people summarize the story when they’re writing it up.

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A lot of my reviews have gone up on MangaLife in the month since I last updated. Usually the list doesn’t grow quite this fast! It included another “what I’m reading” installment, which involved quick looks at vol. 8 of Fushigi Yûgi: Genbu Kaiden, vol. 10 of S.A., vol. 3 of Captive Hearts, vol. 10 of Crimson Hero, vol. 12 of Inubaka: Crazy For Dogs, and vol. 10 of La Corda d’Oro.

Regular reviews:
High School Debut vol. 8 (A)
Honey Hunt vol. 1 (B)
Love*Com vol. 11 (B+)
Monkey High! vol. 5 (B)
We Were There vol. 3 (A-)

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