Monday, March 29, 2010

GAME PLAN! Volume 1


Sonia Greenwood is a game addict who occupies her days with gaming and going out with friends. But her real ambition? Create the world's greatest Christian video game! She's got the hardware, the software, the workers and the talent, but she's missing just one thing...a really good concept artist to make her written vision come to life! Enter Locke Asher, a shy, quiet young man who also loves games but seems to have no friends whatsoever. What's a hyperactive girl to do but drive him crazy trying to make friends with him...and sucker him into sharing his art for God's glory!
(From the back cover of Game Plan! volume 1.)

Manga-Ka: Inkhana and Calbhach.
Distributor: Self-published.
Format: Right-to-left.
Rating: Young Teens

{I, the reviewer, give Game Plan! volume 1, 10 out of 10!}


COMMENTS


When I started to recently really get into anime, I kept typing up in search engines to try and find if Christian anime existed. Of course, results were practically zero, but a site kept popping up, a site called Christian Manga (a site for independent Christian manga-ka to share their work). That is when I discovered "manga" is Japanese comics, the same style as anime, but the printed form. And that's also how I found this amazing webcomic, Game Plan! And it's finally in print!

Game Plan! was actually my very first manga. I wasn't used to reading from right-to-left, or that it was in black and white, but I fell in love with it. And though this isn't a Japanese manga, you will be happy to know that it goes traditional Japanese style, black and white, and the art is REALLY good (especially the detail on the eyes!). So if you're a Christian otaku, you'll want to snatch this title up!

The story is about a girl, Sonia Greenwood, and her friends Rose, Kuri, Elizabeth, and Kai (along with his chihuahua in a leather jacket, Tremble) creating a video game. In the game store her family owns, she meets Locke Asher, a quiet boy who she notices doesn't have any friends. But he's an artist, so she invites him to come over to share his art, so he might help out with the game! But upon finding out it's a Christian game, he hesitates. She ensures him he doesn't have to be a Christian to help out, though. As the two of them grow closer, she does her best to let him know God cares, and tries to figure out why he hasn't given Him a chance. She's talked to his mother, and found out he's adopted, but nobody knows what happened before then. He won't speak about.

This is an AMAZING manga. The art is beautiful, the story is wonderful, there is also alot of nice humor moments, too! And it's just so amazing to read a manga that is Christian! It's almost breath-taking, actually. The message is genuine and sincere, it feels natural, not forced or fake. Way to go, Ink-sama! And the best part is....you can read BOTH volumes online for free! But I highly recommend buying it and adding it to your manga collection. The final volume is up for pre-order, as well as the first volume of her sister's manga, Heaven Bound (a totally unrelated story, just thought I'd mention it though).



Recommend?

Read this, read this, read this, read this! Trust me, you won't regret it! You won't find many other published Christian manga with quality like this! (Both in plot and artwork). And if you're new to manga, this is a great place to start! It's one of those you'll read over and over again (I have so many times!).

*I certify this MANGA NEW COMER WORTHY*

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
There is none, unless you consider the "c" word language, then there is 2 uses of that.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
None.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
None at all. There is one scene where Locke has to change his shirt and you see his bear back, but this is not meant for fanservice, it's meant so you can see the scars on Locke's back (which we will find out why in volume 2). Rose and Kuri often tease Sonia, saying she's dating Locke, but that's it. This manga is as clean as it gets, no sexual content whatsoever.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
In one of the chapters, Sonia is visiting Locke's house, and is in his room and discovers one of his sketch books and finds violent sketches of children hurting adults. It's in pencil, and hard to see, but there is blood, and you do get an idea of a kid jabbing a sword into someone, but it isn't graphic (blocked by a speech bubble). Also there is blood stains on his little stuffed toy dog he had as a kid (we'll find out why in volume 2). The rest of it is slapstick humor. They all sometimes fight with each other, but it isn't violent, it's for comical purposes.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
Nothing compromising to the Christian faith. So you don't have to feel uneasy! There is one scene where Kai says Tremble can tell the future, so he lays down a bunch of playing cards to "tell Sonia's future". This is not meant to be taken seriously though, it's just for comical purposes.

*CHAPTER LIST*
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7

xxxHOLiC, Volume 1


Kimihiro Watanuki is haunted by visions of ghosts and spirits. Seemingly by chance, he encounters s mysterious witch named Yuuko, who claims she can help. In desperation he accepts, but realizes that he's just been tricked into working for Yuuko in order to pay off the cost of her services. Soon he's employed in her little shop----a job that turns out to be nothing like his previous work experience!
Most of Yuuko's customers live in Japan, but Yuuko and Kimihiro are about to have some unusual visitors named Sakura and Syaoran from a land called Clow...
(From the back cover of xxxHOLiC, Volume 1)


Manga-Ka: CLAMP
Distributor: Del Rey
Format: Right-to-Left
Rating: 13+

{I, the reviewer, give xxxHOLiC, Volume 1, 9 out of 10 stars!}

COMMENTS

I actually saw the anime before reading the manga, but not very many episodes. I am actually reading the manga alongside with watching it. It was my interest in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles (which, by the way, crosses over with xxxHOLiC) that made me decide to give this a shot. I was at the bookstore, to purchase the first volume of Tsubasa, and figured I'd pick this one up, too, and believe me....it was a very enjoyable read!

xxxHOLiC is a very unique story, and can best be described as a "dark comedy". While the manga can get very dark, creepy, serious, and thought-provoking, there are many times where it's also down right hilarious. You won't find yourself bored at all in any part of this book, you'll enjoy every minute of it!

Watanuki is a guy who is haunted by spirits. He stumble upon a weird looking shop after being chased by them, and when he puts his hand on the fence, they disappear. Suddenly, he is pulled into the house, and meets Yuuko and her two girl helpers Maru and Moro. And she's able to grant his wish, to make the spirits stop bothering him....for a price! And that price is for him to work at her shop, and when he's worked long enough to afford the wish, she'll grant it. So now he's stuck working at this shop, and he can STILL see spirits! I wonder how long he'll have to work until he's able to "afford" his wish.

Besides Watanuki being a customer, this volume contains 2 arcs (stories). In the first story, a customer comes in. She said she'd happen to find her shop, of course, Yuuko knows that it's no coincidence but "hitsuzen" that she's there, meaning this woman has a wish. So she asks about it, and the woman says her little finger seems to not be able to work. So Yuuko gives her a ring to put on it, but it's only a temporary fix. She also asks if she has any bad habits, but she denies she has any. We later find out that the reason for her finger being unable to move is caused by her "bad habit", and if she doesn't realize it soon, something bad will happen to her!
In the next story, Yuuko drags Watanuki to Ginza, not just to go shopping, but to visit a customer to grant her wish. It's a woman Yuuko met online. And she needs help...to quit the Internet. She is so addicted to the computer that she's been neglecting her family. She really wants to quit, but keeps going back to it. Will she be able to quit, or be consumed in her own little world online? This was my favorite story in this entire volume, because it really made me think, since I can be such an Internet junkie, this is a story many could easily relate.
And lastly, in the final chapter, Yuuko's next customers aren't from Japan, in fact, they aren't even from this dimension! Coming out of a portal, bursting from the sky, a boy named Syaoran, and he begs Yuuko to help him save Sakura, the girl he is holding in his arms! And then it ends...you'll have to read volume 2 to finish that arc. Syaoran and Sakura are from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles, and you can read their story in the first volume of that manga! They are the alternates from Cardcaptor Sakura!

This manga is truly amazing! The art is REALLY good, the characters are amazing, the stories are well-plotted out, this is a manga worth finishing it to it's end! You won't find a story like this anywhere else. I've read this volume several times over all the way through, it's that good, you can read it multiple times and not get tired of it! Also, I highly suggest if you like the manga to also watch the anime, it sticks really close to the manga (though some events are rearranged). My only disappointment about this manga is some of the chapter pictures (read the CONTENT CARD of this review to see why), but besides that, really good.

Recommend?
I HIGHLY recommend this one, especially if you're looking for something not only deep and thought-provoking, but also if you're looking for something hilarious! This manga provides you an equal serving of both!

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
A few "d" and "h" here and there, but nothing really harsh.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
Yuuko loves sake (Japanese rice wine). She drinks it alot. In one chapter, Watanuki had to buy her Eki-Kyabe (it's a pain killer) for her hang-over. She smokes, too, but you don't really see that as much.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
Alot of Yuuko's outfits show alot of cleavage. Also she is very well endowed. Some of the chapter pictures are a bit questionable, like Maru and Moro holding onto each other, and Yuuko in a questionable pose with Watanuki. In the last chapter picture where you see her back and her head turned, she's obviously naked, but you don't see anything. As far as in the manga story itself, in the arc with the woman who couldn't use her little finger, Yuuko gets close and puts her finger on her lips and hand on her chest, but this isn't to be sexual, she is just saying there is a bad habit coming from her lips and a bad habit from her heart. Also, if you read the translation notes at the end of the book, you will learn the names of her two girl helpers "Maru-dashi" and "Moro-dashi" both mean "exposing yourself in public."

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
The only violent scene would probably be...
(SPOILER!!!!!! When the woman with the bad habit takes off the ring, she is in the middle of the road and is unable to move, and she gets run over by a truck. You don't see it, but you see the ring fly away and blood all around it.)

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
Here's where it may make a few readers uneasy. However, if you've read the plot description and have a problem with it, you'll probably won't be reading it anyway. Watanuki is able to see spirits, they are attracted to his blood. Yuuko is the dimensional witch, and can grant almost any wish, for a price. The price is to ensure the universe keeps it's balance. When Watanuki and Yuuko first meet, Yuuko does a form of divination, where she places something in water and tells Watanuki about his current situation. In the last chapter, it's a clear day but it suddenly starts to rain. Yuuko calls it "the fox spirit Kitsune takes a bride" meaning when it rains on a clear day, and tells Watanuki one could do a Kyocho (a type of divination where you put a small mirror to your heart and take the first words you hear as an omen). Syaoran and Sakura, the last customers you see in this volume, are from another universe, and if you read Tsubasa, you will learn they were sent to Yuuko by magic.

*CHAPTER LIST*
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7