Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A belated Merry Christmas (2 years of reviews)

Forgot to post on Christmas Day, as I was busy. Had a great time with the family! We had good food, we played Scrabble, my auntie and I gave my brother the traditional gag gift before giving him his real one....ahhh, what memories!

Christmas Day also marked the second anniversary of Breaking Metal Windows! Here's to another year of reviews!

Look forward to....

Send Me An Amgel, Vol.1 (Manga)
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: Volume 1 (Anime)
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (Movie)
When They Cry (Anime)
Higurashi When They Cry (Manga, several arcs)
Natsume's Book of Friends, Vol.1 (Manga)

...and many more. Early Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

MONSTER GIRL, VOL.1


A group of high school students have the ability to transform into animals, but what's the story behind their mysterious powers? Find out on their dangerous search for the answer.
(Smackjeeves description of Monster Girl)
[NOTE: image is both the series and the "volume 1" cover)


Manga-Ka: Lydia Jane
Distributor: Online exclusive
Format: Left-to-right
Rating: Not rated

{I, the reviewer, give Monster Girl vol.1, 9 out of 10!}

~*~Click Here To Read~*~

COMMENTS

Lydia Jane debuts on Smackjeeves with her experimental project entitled "Monster Girl". From the description, you can tell this is going to be an intense and interesting, mysterious story. The interesting thing about this comic is it's yet another webcomic that lists each chapter as a "volume", and this story is completed at 12 volumes (aka 12 chapters) and I shall review them one by one.

The story begins with a girl named Esme, dreaming about something that happened to her when she was a girl. That snake, which bit her, always gives her nightmares, and she has obtained a mysterious mark because of it. Evidently her friend, Rachel is just like her. This volume ends quite abruptly, hearing the sounds of a scream. Though this tactic is perfect for keeping you hooked, wanting to go further into the story.

The art in this manga is a bit on the amatuer side, but suits the story very well. Sometimes the characters do look a bit awkward with their long neck lengths, but other than that, there isn't much to complain about. Lydia-sama even warns that, due to the comic's experimental nature, that the art styles will change throughout the progression of the story.

Overall, though not much is explained in this chapter, er, volume, the ending will surely have you curious as to what happens, and it's a story that's worth sticking to.

Recommend?
Sure! It's a rather interesting story, and the dream memory sequence gives it a promising start.

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
None.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
None.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
Other than the typical short schoolgirl skirts, none.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
In Esme's dream of a memory, it is implied a snake bit her forhead. The volume ends with someone screaming.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
Though not shown in this volume, this is about people who have the ability to transform into an animal.

*CHAPTER LIST*
Chapter 1

Friday, December 2, 2011

BROKEN




Manga-Ka: SteeKira
Distributor: Online exclusive (for now)
Format: Left-to-right
Rating: Not rated

~*~Click Here To Read~*~

{I, the reviewer, give Broken, 9 out of 10!}

COMMENTS

Out of all the Christian attempts at manga I have ever read, I have to say that Broken is one of the most unique in the genre. Written and drawn by SteeKira, the mangaka of the unfinished Impossigirl, she returns with this very promising and fantastic one-shot comic that she plans to sell in print. It's about a heartbroken girl who wishes to go numb, and so we find her laying out in the snow with her bare feet. The story becomes surreal when, while seen in the same place, she enters a dream and meets a coffee grinder wearing a suit who invites her to a diner, and that's where they begin discussion. She tells him her heartbreak, and he tells her not to give up.

I found this one-shot to be beautiful, as well as epic in it's own right. The art in here is no less than fantastic. The use of shading and some blue really adds to the surreal atmosphere of the comic. Her art has improved much since she started her first manga, Impossigirl, and for the better. The storytelling is no short of amazing, delivering the emotion quite effectively. Everything about this one-shot I feel is very well executed, succeeding in the message it's trying to convey.

Any flaws? A minor one. The ending seems to be a bit abrupt. For a second, I thought the comic wasn't finished, but according to the post I read which gave the link, it is finished. But perhaps maybe it was intended that way. The last line of advice the "coffee grinder" gives her is what ends the story, and perhaps it ended that way so the impression of that line will stick with you. Yes, we are left to wonder whether or not the nameless main character actually puts it into practice, but nevertheless, this is still a good piece which I would definitely consider to be a masterpiece. Hopefully the printed version will have an extended ending, but if not, this is still worth your time.

Recommend?
Highly. The art is beautiful, and the story meaningful. I think it's worth your time.

I certify this *MANGA NEWCOMER WORTHY* as it's left-to-right, but the surreal feel gives you a taste of how manga is without getting too out there.

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
One use of "d" and "h"

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
None.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
None.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
None.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
It's a Christian manga. This manga focuses on what appears to be the main character's dream, which gives a surreal effect, but as said, it's only a dream and one she needs to have.

*CHAPTER LIST*
(15 pages)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

NG LIFE, VOL.2


Talk about getting into a hotspot!

Keidai Saeki's life is pretty confusing, what with his past life's friends and family being reincarnated in the wrong bodies and all. And now it's about to get downright crazy! Another former Pompeiian joins the party, and, just like Keidai, he retains the memories of his past life! It's unfortunate for our hero this relationship didn't stay dormant. They didn't really get along 1,900 years ago, and someone's holding a grudge...
(From the backcover of NG Life, Vol.2)

Manga-Ka: Mizuho Kusanagi
Distributor: TokyoPop
Format: Right-to-left
Rating: 13+

{I, the reviewer, give NG Life (vol.2), 8 out of 10!}

COMMENTS

The thought that always run through my mind when I read this are two words; poor Keidai. When you think Keidai's life couldn't get anymore confusing, well...it just did! In this second installment of NG Life, things get even more complicated and confusing for Keidai as he still envision Yuuma as his beloved Serena, yet on top of that, it appears as if he his developing some feelings toward Serizawa. These confused, mixed up feelings really throw Keidai into his bizzarre moments of fits and yelling at himself. Especially that time when they went to the hot spring, and a ghost gets involved! Or what about the time Serizawa was sick and Yuuma and Keidai had to dress up as girls in order to see her? (Wait...they dressed up as girls? Trust me, there was a legit reason...)
But all that pales in comparison to another Pompeii reincarnate Keidaa is about to meet in this second volume of NG Life!

Keidai keeps having this dream. It seems to be a memory of Pompeii, but even he is uncertain of it. He remembers getting beaten with a whip, he remembers Serena crying out. However, the dream, or memory, isn't clear. And he even begins to doubt, just a little, about the validity of his Pompeii memories. But he is quickly reassured that what he remembers DID in fact happen to him. For 2 weeks, they'll be having a student teacher, Kagami-sensei. Instantly, when he sees Keidai, he glares at him. Hmm..why? Have they met before? And why is he so overprotective of Yuuma?

Apparently, he is his older cousin. Serizawa's theory is that maybe he was one of Serena's fans in his past life, and even if he doesn't remember, just looking at Keidai, once Sirix, ticks him off. Serizawa's was getting warm, but not quite hot. You see, Kagami-sensei can remember all that happened in the past, too. And how did he know Serena? They were blood related back then, too! At first, Keidai is happy to have finally found someone who can remember Pompeii just as he can. However, he soon leanrs WHO Kagami-sensei is. He didn't like him then, and he CERTAINLY doesn't like him now. Kagami-sensei was....*SPOILER STARTS HERE* Serena's older sister, Smryna! Oh boy, another gender switch! And with the memories, too! She was the one who whipped him, threatening to turn him into lion feed after he had proposed to his beloved Serena. So now Kagami-sensei does all he can to keep Yuuma away from Keidai, and if that's not enough, he might even keep Serizawa away, too! *SPOILER ENDS HERE*

Once again; poor Keidai. Poor, poor Keidai. Confused, and now going through a living hell. I never thought the story could get more complicated, but it just did. I could almost call this an intense volume, I couldn't put it down once I began reading it! I really like how Keidai, despite the gender switch, still defends his friends and want to remain together. They cannot be what they were in their past lives, but that eternal bond still ties them together. It's as if they were meant to be friends no matter what! Overall, I enjoyed this volume and am looking forward to how the third one pans out.


Recommend?
If you liked the first volume, you MUST read this one!

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
The usual minor swears words like "d" and "h", and even some use of the illegitimate child word.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
Keidai's dad is seen smoking a few times.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
Keidai often suddenly sees Serena whenever Yuuma is around. He hates when that happens, but still enjoys seeing her gorgeous face instead of a boy's. There's an instance when Yuuma says to Keidai "I love you" and when Serizawa asks to "sleep together", but that was against their will (a ghost was speaking through them). When Serizawa is sick, Yuuma and Keidai dress up as girls, but only because her father is crazy overprotective and he won't let them near her if he knows they're guys. Also, when Serizawa faints due to sweating, Keidai is about to undress her to put her into new clothes (and he wasn't in his disguise), and when her father walks in he gets the wrong idea when he was only trying to help! Also...
(SPOILER! Kagami-sensei was a woman in his past life, Smryna, Serena's elder sister who was freakishly overprotective of her and was only nice to girls. She admits she likes being a man ;cause she gets to be with so many girls (they fall head over heels for him), so it appears to be implied that even as a woman, he liked girls.)

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
Keidai's father mentions that a certain place is a famous suicide spot. In Keidai's dreams, a memory actually, he remembers being beaten with a whip and you see some injury. There's also mention how Smyrna tried to murder Keidai several times when he was Sirix, such as posioning, assination, eaten by lions, but that is all mentioned, not shown. The rest is comedic violence.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
This story is about reincarnation and how Keidai seems to be the only one who can remember. However, he meets another soul who has retained all their memories of Pompeii as well. There's a scene where Keidai imagines Serena in a yukata and says "Oh, God bless this image of Serena in a yukata!"
At a famous suicide spot, Keidai prays for the souls to find happiness in their next lives. Keidai's father has the ability to see spirits. One attachs herself to Keidai and temporarily inhabits Yuuma's body, then jumps into Serizawa's.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

SEND ME AN ANGEL: VOL.3: FASHIONABLY ACCEPTABLE



Manga-Ka: Christina
Distributor: Online exclusive
Format: Left-to-right
Rating: Not rated

{I, the reviewer, give Send Me An Angel (vol.3), 10 out of 10!}

~*~Click Here To Read~*~

COMMENTS

The third installment of Send Me An Angel touches on the issue of modesty and presents it in a very realistic way. It begins with April, hanging out with some of her other friends, going shopping. They're at a clothes store which is a little out of league in her price range. Anyway, she spots a top she thinks is cute and her friends tell her to try it on. They also tell her that her fashion sense is "outdated" and that she should buy the top. Not having enough money, she tells them, they decide to buy it for her and throw in a skirt as well. When it's all said and done, she is a bit embarrased to be seen out in public in a midriff shirt and a mini skirt. That is, until she falls into the arms of a cute guy she's seen in her Physics class. Hmm....maybe these clothes aren't too bad after all!

From then on, April begins to start dressing this way. She received a bunch of old clothes from her friend which are a bit on the skimpy side. Micah, who has now become a Christian himself in the last chapter, can't believe it when he hears his friends talking about April in a bad way. No, that can't be the April he knows! Of course, once he sees it for himself....he can't deny she looks hot, but as the nice Christian man he is, he does his best to push that out of his mind. And he knows he must defend April's honor!

What I liked about this chapter is it focuses on the lust issues from both perspectives. April felt wrong wearing those clothes, but did not deny it felt good to get guys' attention when she wore them. And Micah, a good Christian young man, although wanted to protect her from his lustful friends, could not deny she looked good in those clothes. His eyes sometimes focused in the wrong areas, looking at her body and not at her face. Sure, he did his best to fight the urge, but it was still there. And that's why he knew that her dressing in such revealing outfits would put her at risk, 'cause as a guy himself, he knew that it caused the wrong thoughts.

Overall, I loved this chapter! It presented the issue in a very realistic way, both guys and girls could relate to. This chapter was special, as it had two sets of notes - the author's notes, and reader's notes. The reader's notes were very interesting, as it was from a guy named Mark who praised Christina speaking of this issue, and confirmed that when girls dress that way, the guy won't be thinking about her...he'll be thinking other thoughts. All in all, it's an excellent read that presents the issue of modest in a realistic way, covering all the bases.

Recommend?
OH YES! This is an issue we're all dealing with here and now, and should be brought up. How you look does matter in the respect of modesty, and this chapter presents it beautifully and realistically.

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
None.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
None.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
This deals with the issue of modesty. You'll see April wear a little bit more revealing clothes, such as tight jeans, midriff tops, and short skirts. There's a scene where Micah over hears his friends talk about her, and one guy talks about how April's "stacked". Micah does have staring moments when he sees her that way, but does his best to force himself to look at her face, not at her chest.
(SPOILER! When April is in the car with Brad, it is implied he tries to do something with her when she yells "don't touch me there!" She gets out of the car before anything is taken any further).

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
None.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
It's a Christian comic, so God is shown in a good light.

*CHAPTER INDEX*
Chapter 3: Fashionably Acceptable

SEND ME AN ANGEL: VOL.2: ANOTHER SIDE, ANOTHER STORY




Manga-Ka: Christina
Distributor: Online exclusive
Format: Left-to-right
Rating: Not rated

{I, the reviewer, give Send Me An Angel (Vol.2), 8 out of 10!}

~*~Click Here To Read~*~

COMMENTS

The second volume, or actually, the second chapter of Send Me An Angel takes place two years after Micah and April had met. He loves how April is always smiling, and in some ways, admires her faith (even though he doesn't quite understand it). He wishes they were more than just friends, though. He's planning to ask her to the school dance, perhaps to confess his true feelings. This chapter is from Micah's perspective, while the first chapter was through Aprils perspective, so it's a nice little switch off.

The art in this chapter seems to have some improvements from the previous chapters. Although the characters do look awkward in some panels, there's obviously some progression in the art. While I liked this chapter, there was some things I didn't like. For example *SPOILER BEGINS HERE* She told Micah she wouldn't go to the dance, but later when he goes to get his scienece book, he finds April dancing with Ian...yes, THAT Ian who was treating her badly two years before. Everything's explained when April's friend calls up Micah and explains her side of the story, but I still find it kind of rude that April didn't even give him a ring about it. Plus, though it is explained Ian goes to her church and April's mom trusts him, it still doesn't explain whether or not he had changed from the Ian he was two years ago. *SPOILER ENDS HERE*.

However, despite that, the story is still weaved nicely and presents a scenario that could happen. I still wish she did give him a ring about it before hand, but we're not perfect. Maybe that was the point of that scene in the first place. Also, the final pages of this chapter I thought were beautiful, and I especially loved how it ended! This chapter feels a lot more meaningful once you give it a second read, and I found that the scene I mentioned in the spoiler tag was actually not that bad at all since everything is explained, except for a few minor details.

Overall, this story is still as good as when it started, and now I'm curious how Micah's character will develope in the future chapters.

Recommend?

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
None.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
None.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
None.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
Micah grabs a guy by the collar, but he just walks away from the fight.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
It's a Christian comic.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

SQUARE: CHAPTER 1: BE OUR GUEST


Four guys. Four panels. So many antics, you wonder how it fits.
(Smackjeeves description of Square)

Manga-Ka: Asuka Neko
Distributor: Online exclusive
Format: Left-to-right
Rating: Not rated

{I, the reviewer, give Square, 7 out of 10!}

~*~Click Here To read~*~

COMMENTS

Square is the latest creation to come out of the crazy and hyper mind of Asuka Neko, the one responsible for title suchs as Etsu!, Kindergarten Promises, The Anti-Squee, and many others. This is Asuka's second attempt at the 4-koma (4 panel strip manga), which was the original format Etsu! started in. It's about four guys; Dietrich, Cameron, Lewis, and Liam, and all the crazy antics they go through. Knowing Asuka Neko, you won't have to worry about shounen-ai coming to the picture. So even if this is about four guys, it's just that; about four guys. No one's paired with each other!

While for the most part, 4koma strips can be read in random order (for the most part), the first 4 strips is the introduction section, and all must be read in order. Other than that, each of the Square strips are pretty much individual, save for a few meant for mini arcs. What I like about 4koma is the fact one has to be skillfully clever in order to deliver comedy within only 4 square panels. These strips are very fun and at least one of the are sure to put a smile on your face.

Her art has undergone a significant change from when she was doing Etsu! amd The Anti-Squee. It's still distinctively Asuka Neko, but you can tell there's been a lot of improvements in character designs and anatomy. I actually quite like this new style, and it feels just right for this little project. I like how in some of the strips, their eyes are colored, and the rest of the art is entirely in another color (example; brown or blue). It gives for a unique feel.

Overall, it's an enjoyable little series that's pretty clean and clever, with an interesting bunch of characters. Some get more spotlight than others (for example Dietrich, the dumb blond). While some of the comic strips I could take it or leave it, this is a promising start to Asuka-sama's new 4-koma series, I am excited to see how it developes and fleshes out. Probably my favorite strip is when Dietrich points at us (the audience) and wonders who "all those people are".

Recommend?
Why not? If you enjoy 4koma and looking to brighten your day, you'll have fun reading this.

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
None.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
None.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
One of the guys is always known for getting the hot girls. One of the guys makes fun of another guy for always looking like he's wearing his sister's jeans. There's also one or two instances when you see one of the guys with his shirt off.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
None.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
None.

*CHAPTER INDEX*
This is chapter 1, but I will list all the comic strips contained:
1. Be Our Guest
2. Quadrilaterals
3. Nice To Meet You, Fandom
4. Interview With a Rectangle
5. Dumb Blonds
6. Fan~Service (Filler)
7. Happy Birthday, Di!
8. Back To School
9. Always Too Short
10. It's Because He's Brittish
11. Recollections of Freshman Year
12. Logic Puzzles
13. In The Dark
14. Surprise!
15. Pink (Illustration)
16. Thanks! (Thank-You Message)

NG LIFE, VOL.1


From the creator of Mugen Spiral come a manga comedy filled with loads of gender-bending frolic and fun!

Keidai Saeki is a high school student who remembers his past life in Pompeii, living as the Italian warrior Sirix...His friends around him are all also reincarnated--althought they don't quite remember things the way he does. Keidai's wife from the past? She's now a middle school boy--while his best male friend is now a cute girl?! Throw in a case of lvoe at first sight, and you have a new look at romance--manga style!
(From the backcover of NG Life, Vol.1)

Manga-Ka: Mizuho Kusanagi
Distributor: TokyoPop
Format: Right-to-left
Rating: 13+?

{I, the reviewer, give NG Life (Vol.1), 9 out of 10!}

COMMENTS

I was shocked. Surprised. I liked this. No, I LOVED this. My friend lended me a couple volumes of her favorite romantic comedy, just in case I didn't like Future Diary. By reading the synopsis, I admit I was a bit skeptical and very iffy, considering the subject matter. But I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed reading it.

Keidai, in his past life, was from Pompeii. His life was ended shortly when the volcano errupted, burying the city in ash. He had two people most important in his life, his best friend and the love of his life, who also died. His best friend had reincarnated in Japan as well, but guess what? He's a GIRL now! It gets even worse... a new family moves in the neighborhood, and the love of his life has now also reincarnated in Japan. Only one problem - she's a GUY now! This really messes Keidai up. He loves Serena with all his heart, but now as Yuuma, he has to force himself to forget about her. She's a guy now, he can't fall in love with A GUY! Also, his best friend Serizawa, who is a girl now, seems to have some affection for him, but he still remembers her as a guy. And also, Yuuma really likes Serizawa. What a COFUSING love triangle.

There were moments in this manga that really made me laugh out loud. Literally. I felt bad for poor Keidai as he suffers from the major confusion of his feelings, since the memories of his current and past lives are suddenly blended together. He says his life is "NG" (I assume it means "no good"). However, he soon comes to realize that in the end, the two most important people in his life has returned with him, and they all got to be together again. Maybe not in the way he had wanted, but at least he got to see them again. This manga isn't just comedy and pretty artwork. There's even some emotional parts that ltierally brought me to tears, when Serizawa made a play based on Keidai's past life and he stars as himself! The scene where they reinact the volcano erruption and when Sirix (Keidai) had to leave Serena, it was so touching! He felt that he had abandoned her, left her to die, 'cause he never came back to her.

Overall, I had fun reading this, and look forward to more! I'm usually not into the gender-bender genre, but this takes a unique twist at it.

Recommend?
If you like to laugh, I think you'll like this. It can seem a bit edgy at times, but overall it's fun to read.

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
Minor swear words such as "d" and "h" I believe.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
I don't remember any.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
Keidai's past love, Serena, has reincarnated as a boy, and his best friend as a girl. These switched genders leave Keidai VERY confused. Serizawa who was a man in the past seems to have feelings for Keidai, and Yuuma who was once a woman, Keidai feels sickened when his heart goes "bdmp!" because he knows it's Serena, but she's not a girl this time! There's even a scene where Yuuma crossdresses, but it's for comical purposes, not 'cause Yuuma is a crossdresser. It's also mainly to play with Keidai's mind (poor guy). When Keidai first met Yuuma, not knowing Serena had become a boy, he embraces her, but is then punched back and is heartbroken when he tells him "I'm a guy!"

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
I don't remember any major violence, if there was anything, it's mostly comical.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
This deals with reincarnation. Keidai was from Pompeii in his past life and has reincarnated as a Japanese boy. Two of the most important people in his life has reincarnated in Japan as well, but they're genders are switched! His parents are also people he knew, his mother was his little sister, and his father was his rival. When Keidai first saw Yuuma (realizing it was Serena) he says "God must have brought us back together!". There's also a scene when they go to a past-lives expert (but of course, he doesn't get it right).

SEND ME AN ANGEL, VOL.1



Manga-Ka: Christina
Distributor: Online exclusive
Format: Left-to-right
Rating: Not rated

{I, the reviewer, give Send Me An Angel (Vol.1), 8 out of 10!}

~*~Click Here To Read~*~

COMMENTS

I discovered this comic through theproject.us (it's not hosted on the site, they just link to it). Finally, I had decided to go give it a read. I never realized there were more amatuer Christian manga than I thought there was, and it's always nice to see. Send Me An Angel begins with a girl named April who is a Christian, but is afraid to admit such things for fear of people calling her weird. A new boy comes to her class, someone who is said to be a trouble-maker. Hearing that, she decides at the start she'll have nothing to do with him, but nothing ever goes as planned as the teacher asks if Micah could be her partner in a project.

Although she's only heard he's a troublemaker (yet there doesn't appear to be any shred of evidence to support that), he's actually a really nice guy. He asks about a certain time he'd like to start the project, but April tells him she has Youth Group. She's afraid to say this, but is pleasantly surprised he actually doesn't make fun of her for it. "I'm cool with it," he says. "I wish I had something like that to believe in."

What I found interesting about this story is it doesn't feel like the typical "conversion" story. We start with a Christian girl who actually fears being made fun of, who cares how people view her. And yet, here is Micah, a non-believer, and yet he says meaningful things to her that makes her realize she's been wrong to care about what others think when it's all about what God thinks of her. Micah was the least likely, but that's why God used him.

The art in this manga is very amatuerish, but I really love it's distinctive flavor. Also note that the woman drawing this started the comic in High School (and she's 22 years old now). An interesting thing is though this is labeled as Volume 1, it's only a chapter long. So reading it volume by volume would be the same as chapter by chapter. I find that an interesting release format.

Overall, I think this is a start to a really cute Christian shoujo manga. The beginning is very promising, and let's hope that as it developes, it remains as wonderful, if not more, than it's start.

Recommend?
Sure! It's clean, it's cute, and it has a good message.

I certify this *MANGA NEWCOMER WORTHY* as it goes Western style and is a simple, slice-of-life.

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
None.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
None.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
April's mom mistakes Micah as being her boyfriend. Yeah, this area is clear.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
Micah gets into a fight with a guy who makes fun of April. It's not shown, though.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
It's a Christian comic.

*CHAPTER INDEX*
Chapter 1

Saturday, November 12, 2011

BURN


It's something I thought of considering what Jesus has done for us.
(Description from theproject.us)
[NOTE: There's no cover, so I used the first page as an image].

Manga-Ka: Mave
Distributor: Online exclusive
Format: Right-to-left
Rating: Not rated

{I, the reviewer, give Burn, 9 out of 10!}

~*~Click Here To Read~*~

COMMENTS

This little 8-page webcomic I admit was a rather interesting theme. It follows a nameless woman with beautifully long, black hair. She talks about having many desires and why would her Master deny her anything? Shortly after saying that, she falls to her knees, coughing, coming down with some sort of sickness. She's tried everything to cure herself, but it just won't work. She debates whether or not she should return to the Master, but afraid of showing up with her cursed body.

The art in the manga is done well. Nothing on the spectacular, distinctive level, but eye-pleasing nonetheless. It was for the CAA Monthly Manga challenge, but Mave didn't reach the deadline for it. Anyway, mentioned in the notes, it was based on an interesting conversation about "So are you trying to say only Christians go to Heaven and non-believers go to hell?"
Executed in the comic, the answer was; "No. I'm trying to say that Jesus went through hell to save all of us."

This manga executes that idea fairly well and it is worth a read at least once.

Recommend?
Sure. It won't take long to read and is a truly inspiring story.

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
None.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
None.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
None.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
There's talk about burning, and it seems the woman has a disease.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
It's a Christian comic. There is mention about the woman trying everything to cure her, including magic spells before she returns to her Master.

*CHAPTER LIST*
(8 pages)

FLEETING


Lust to be lusted.
(Description from theproject.us)
[NOTE: No cover, so I used the first page]

Manga-Ka: Psycho Ann
Distributor: Online exclusive/ZIP File
Format: Left-to-right
Rating: Not rated

{I, the reviewer, give Fleeting, 10 out of 10!}

~*~Click Here To Read~*~

COMMENTS

From the amazing Psycho Ann is another one-shot, executed shortly in 3-pages, concerning the issue of lust from a female's perspective. This apparently was made for Megazeen's LUST issue (evidently the 8th issue). Mentioned in her notes, Psycho Ann says they wanted it from a girl's perspective, and found it quite hard since we don't lust the same way guys do. Then she came to this conclusion; we lust to be lusted.

This one-shot executes that idea, starting with a girl who is looking for something to wear to impress a boy named Andy. She then finds a skimpy top in her closet and doesn't even remember having it. However, she daydreams in her mind what would happen if she were to wear it for Andy.

I feel this manga, though only in 3 pages, executed the issue pretty well. Though it's not deep and complex, and not delving in deeper, it says what it needs to say, short but sweet, and is able to show the main point of it. We are given two verses on the last page that fits the topic well, and some notes from Psycho Ann.

All in all, I totally agreed with what Psycho Ann was trying to convey about us girls lust to be lusted. The reason why we dress a certain way...it's to get a guy's attention, at least for the most part (and depending on the girl). To fully appreciate the comic, I also suggest reading the notes at the end for more understanding and depth.

Recommend?
Yes! It's well executed for only 3-pages, and addresses a subject matter that makes a lot of sense. I'd have to say this would be more appreciated by a girl than a boy, since it is the female perspective of lusting.

I certify this *MANGA NEWCOMER WORTHY* as it goes Western style and is a simple story.

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
None.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
None.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
The main character daydreams about wearing the skimpy top she finds in her close, and when it's about to show the end resukt of Andy's reaction, she quickly snaps herself back in reality.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
She slams her head into the wall, but it's more comical if anything.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
This is a Christian manga, so nothing to worry about.

*CHAPTER LIST*
(3 pages)

THY NAME


Kate Bakely suddenly finds herself trapped in an elevator with a tormented young man. Can she make him see the light before it's too late?
(Description from theproject.us)

Manga-Ka: Psycho Ann
Distributor: Online exclusive/ZIP File
Format: Left-to-right
Rating: Not rated

{I, the reviewer, give Thy Name, 10 out of 10!}

~*~Click Here To Read~*~"

COMMENTS

Psycho Ann, perhaps you've heard of her? She's the mangaka of a certain title know as the Psychoteers. This one-shot, if you read the notes, was actually a result of a seven-day manga making challenge (14 pages, plus a cover and backcover, making it a total of 16). Whether or not it won is not mentioned, but nevertheless, for a story crammed within 14 pages, it came out epic!

It's about a girl named Kate Bakely. She wakes ups, wondering what happened. She and a guy named Joseph are trapped in an elevator after an earthquake struck. Now Kate is confident that God will help them through this, but Joseph doesn't. He says there's no way out, he checked. However, when she says again that Jesus will help, some walls collapses and they can go up some emergency ladders. As they try to find a way out, Kate shares a testimony of how she knows for a fact that God is able to save them if they call on His name, because she's experienced that herself when her heart stopped due to the combination of blood loss and drugs.

I found this one-shot to be very well done, despite how short it was. There was even a few pages that were quite intense, almost putting you to the edge of your seats. The ending was also very satisfying. The art in this manga is done quite well, and the message doesn't seem forced or too unrealistic. Psycho Ann actually has a written version of the story, which is longer and has more detailed, but I have yet to read it myself (I probably will review it on the site at a later date).

Overall, this was an amazing story for it's short length, packing as much emotion and intesity it can within it's limited amount of pages.

Recommend?
YES!!! Probably one of the best few Christian manga out there that executes the story quite well for it's limited amount of pages. Due to some violence and some dark themes, I recommend for those 13-14 and up in age.

I certify this *MANGA NEWCOMER WORTHY* as it goes Western style and the story is not confusing at all.

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
I don't remember any.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
It is briefly mentioned that Kate took drugs one time (I believe in a suicide attempt).

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
None.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
When Kate wakes up, she finds out there was an earthquake and she and another guy are trapped in an elevator. There's some blood on their faces.
(SPOILER! There's a scene where the floor collapses and they're about to fall, but to save her Joseph decides to let go and fall...but at the end, we find out he lives.)

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
It's a Christian comic, but deals with a lot of stuff. It seems implied by Kate she attempted suicide when she tells Joseph that God will help them. Joseph doesn't believe in God and does't believe that.

DEAR EMILY


Poem from God to Emily.
(Description from theproject.us)
[NOTE: There is no cover, so I used page 4 for the image]

Manga-Ka: Valerie/Mave
Distributor: Online exclusive/ZIP File
Format: Left-to-Right
Rating: not rated

{I, the reviewer, give Dear Emily, 9 out of 10!}

~*~Click Here To Read~*~




COMMENTS

"Dear Emily" is a dark, deep, and passionate manga where the dialogue is mostly in God's perspective. It's written like a poem to a struggling girl named Emily, who is going through so much pain in her life and can't grasp the idea of a loving God.
It's a very well written poem, where God asks why can't she hear Him or see Him? He's always been there, listening to her, even though she doesn't believe.

There's even a part where we hear a little bit from Emily's perspective. You can see she just seems to push the idea of God away, because she cannot accept things blindly. She wants proof! She needs to know for a fact that He's there! And why, if He does exist, would He even go through dying just to save us messed up people, and all we need to do is believe? Heh, too easy!
I have to admit that this one-shot almost made me cry. You really feel for Emily as you see her go through all her doubts and pain, but also hearing God's words to her makes you think "is he saying that to me? Is he waiting for me to call out His name?"

In conclusion, I found this to be a beautiful one-shot that conveys God's love with us. It also expresses the doubts many people have about Him, which are very much legitimate questions and feelings. We can't hold it, we can't physically feel it, so how does it exist? I also liked how it was a bit angst. It conveyed someone who struggles with the belief in God, but also shows that God won't give up in waiting to hear you call. You see Emily cry, conflict pain, and even use a bit of language, so this isn't something for younger children to see.

So if you're okay with the angst, I totally recommend giving this one-shot a read at least once.

Recommend?
Highly recommended, if you can deal with some angst. Due it's dark nature, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone under 14.

I certify this *MANGA NEWCOMER WORTHY* as it goes Western style and is an easy story to understand.

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
One use of the "f" word (but it's censored).

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
None.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
None.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
You see Emily with a knife, looking like she's about to slice her wrist, but it's only implied and not shown. We also see in about 3 small panels Christ's crucifiction, and there is some blood.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
Being a Christian manga, I don't think there's much to worry about. This is a poem from God to Emily. Emily struggles with the belief in God, because she doesn't have proof.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

HAIBANE RENMEI [Complete Series]

GUEST REVIEW BY rocklobster - thanks for submitting!


In a long-forgotten walled town, humans coexist with the Haibane, angelic-like beings of unknown origin. Rakka becomes the newest Haibane, after she awakens from a strange dream and finds herself hatching from a massive cocoon. With no memories of her previous life, Rakka struggles to adjust to her new surroundings, however burning questions remain in the back of her mind. What is Haibane and what is their purpose? What lies beyond the huge, forbidden town walls? Thus, Rakka begins her wistful journey of self-discovery and wonderment.
(From the backcover of Haibane Renmei, vol.1)
[NOTE: This review is of the entire series, but the cover art is of the first volume].

Original Japanese Title: Haibane Renmei
Dubbed by: Geneon
Animation: Radix
Manga adaption?: none (Hope_In_Song NOTE: Actually, this WAS a manga first before an anime, but I don't think it's licensed in the states).
Rating: 13+, but I'd say 7+

{I, the reviewer, give 10 out of 10!}

COMMENTS

This series takes place in a walled town called Glie, where humans and angelic creatures called Haibane coexist. The story is done from the point of view of Rakka, a new arrival to the Haibane. Through her eyes, we learn about the people and the Haibane, and the mysteries surrounding them and the town itself. She also comes to see them as a surrogate family, thanks primarily to Reki, a Haibane who seems very motherly towards her.

If you want a story with lots of action, this isn't for you. It's more for someone who wants to relax and let the story evolve and meet all the characters. This anime takes a real amount of patience at first, but with 13 episodes, when things get going, they get going fast.

Recommend?
YES! This anime is very beautiful and very rewarding. The backdrops are very realistic. For example, the town is powered by windmills, and you can actually see every brick on them! The colors are very vivid and everything has a pleasant feel to it. There's not much story in the early goings, but once you get to episode 5, the story really begins to pick up and you get to see some of the mystery being revealed.

[VIEWING PLEASURE]

[MUSIC] The music is very relaxing, especially the opening theme, "Freebird", a dreamy violin piece that sets the mood very well.

[SUB VS. DUB] I'd say either one works excellent. The dub managed to get a very good cast and the VA for Rakka sounds very close to the original voice.

[MOVIES/MANGA] None
(Hope_In_Song NOTE: As I mentioned, there actually IS a manga for this, but whether or not it's licensed is uncertain).

[RELATED TITLES] Yoshitoshi Abe, the main animator, has also worked on Niea_7, Serial Experiments Lain, and Tehnolyze

[DVD EXTRAS] textless opening and ending, along with character sheets and an interview with Yoshitoshi Abe.

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE] Reki does say a few curse words, but that's it.

[TOBACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE] Reki is quite a chain smoker.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY] None, except in the opening sequence when we see Rakka in the fetal position, but she's covered up nicely. Besides, she's too young for you to see anything anyway.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE] The only blood occurs in episode 1, when Rakka gets her wings for the first time. They burst through her back, causing lots of pain.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL] While the Haibane do look like angels, it's never explicitly stated that they are actually angels. It's implied that they were once alive (in fact, each Haibane suffers from amnesia of their previous lives. They do not remember their names or anything else from their pasts. All they have from their past is a dream, which becomes the inspiration for their names.

*EPISODE LIST*
Volume One: New Feathers
1."Cocoon — Dream of Falling from the Sky — Old Home"
2. "Town and Wall — Toga — Haibane-Renmei"
3. "Temple — The Communicator — Pancakes"
4. "Trash Day — Clock Tower — Birds Flying Over the Walls"
Volume Two: Wings of Sorrow
5. "Library — Abandoned Factory — Beginning of the World"
6. "End of Summer — Rain — Loss"
7. "Scar — Illness — Arrival of Winter"
Volume Three: Free Bird
8. "The Bird"
9. "Well — Rebirth — Riddle"
10. "Kuramori — Haibane of Abandoned Factory — Rakka's Job"
Volume Four: Day of Flight
11. "Parting — Darkness in the Heart — Irreplaceable Thing"
12. "Bell Nuts — Passing of the Year Festival — Reconciliation"
13. "Reki's World — Prayer — Epilogue"

Thursday, October 20, 2011

FUTURE DIARY, VOL.1


Yukiteru is a quiet boy who spends most of his time typing on his cell phone diary. One morning he realizes that the entries in his diary are from the future! But according to what his cell phone tells him, waiting in the near future is his death. Unknown to him, Yukiteru has been dragged into a battle of survival involving cell phones that tell the future. With a shady girl named Yuno, who may be friend or foe, at his side, Yukiteru must face 12 opponents who all posses Future Diaries.
(Amazon.com description of Future Diary Vol.1)

Manga-Ka: Sakae Esuno
Distributor: TokyoPop
Format: Right-to-left
Rating: Older Teen

{I, the reviewer, give Future Diary vol.1, 9 out of 10!}

COMMENTS

I've been interested in this title ever since my friend reviewed it on her blog. The title sounded interested and so did the premise, and finally I asked my friend if she could lend it to me. And thus, results in a review of the first volume of this suspenseful story!

Yukiteru is a boy who lives his life as "just a bystander". He uses his cell phone to keep a diary and writes down various things he sees happening all around him. To keep from being too lonely, he talks to someone whom he assumes is just in his imagination, Dues ex Machina, the God of Time and Space. Dues tells him that he plans on starting a game, a "fun" game. Yuki senses he doesn't really like that, that Dues is up to something. The next day when he wakes up he sees that his diary is written for the whole day. At first, he doesn't realize that these are from the future until he sees them happening. At first, he starts enjoying this, since he has a heads up of what's going on and the answrs for the test!

Well, that's until Dues tells him that if the phone is destroyed, so will he. And he receives a Dead End Notice. Running for his life, he meets a girl named Yuno who also is a diary holder. Unlike his diary that tells the random things he sees everyday, her diary keeps track of everything he does, as she calls it the "Yukiteru Diary of Love". Well...turns out this girl's been stalking him! But she may be his only hope to survive. Dues explains the rules of the game to all diary holders, telling them this is a SURVIVAL GAME. The last one standing will become Deus's successor. So in order to get this power, the diary holders will seek each other out until only one of them is left.

I have to say, this was an INTENSE RIDE! Even holding a diary that predicts your future still holds so much uncertainty. Like when they do something opposite of the diary, it would rewrite. Being uncertain whether or not they can escape the set future that their diary fortells. The lengths the other diary holders will go to kill off the competition to gain ultimate power. I have to be honest that I didn't really like Dues from the start. Something was wrong about him, and it turned out to be true! God of Time and Space? More like an evil demon entity to me is the vibe I get from him. So now Yukiteru, who's lived his life as just "a bystander", will have to try and survive this crazy game. It becomes hard to trust, since you never know if they're out to kill you. He's seemed to ally himself with Yuno, the girl obsessed with him. But are there any other allies he can trust?

The art isn't anything outstanding or special, but fits the story well. I especially loved the way their eye expressions are in certain intense situations. I keep thinking to myself that this series would make an EXCELLENT anime series. Overall, I found the series to be intense, causing you to feel on the edge of your seat. If still frames such as manga can do that to you, then obviously the story it's doing it's job! It's well written and executed and I am excited to see how this all pans out!

Recommend?
Sure! If you're looking for an intense ride, pick this up!

I certify this *MANGA NEWCOMER WORTHY* as it's an intense action story that is thoroughly explained leaving little confusion. It uses concept of time travel (having a diary that fortells the future) and trying to survive 'till the story ends, which is something most of us are familiar with.

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
There was some language, mostly minor. I think I recall one use of "b" though.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
I don't think there was any.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
The first scene you see is Yuno kissing Yuki. The worst it gets is you see her kissing him and she's looming over, and the position looks kinda bad, but nothing happens other than kissing.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
Being a game of survival, many of the diary holders will go to great lengths to kill their target. For example, one crazy girl sets bombs all through the school and there are various explosions. People get injured and death is mentioned. Probably the worst scene is when (SPOILER! Yuki finds his way through the land mines and pokes a dart in her eye. It's not shown, as you see the dart coming at her eye, then the next seen you see her covering it with blood trickling down, so you get the idea).

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
The one who started this game is called Deus ex Machina, the God of Time and Space. At first Yuki thought he was just someone he made up in his imagination, but it appears not so. Yuki and 11 other players have a "cell phone diary" that can look 90 days into the future. Whoever wins the survival game will take Dues ex Machina's place as ruler of time and space.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The great manga exchange - tons of reviews backed up in the que line!

So an online friend and I have started this manga exchange. We send each other titles that we either request or think the other might enjoy via mail and when we're done, we send it back. Since we're both review bloggers, doing so would not only benefit both of us, but give us a chance to get into some new series. Now, she owns A HECK OF A LOT MORE manga than I do. And so far has sent me the most (I feel like I owe her a lot for this, so I am greatful beyond greatful). I've read quite a few already, and you know what this results in? TONS OF BACKED UP REVIEWS IN THE QUE LINE! I think I'm gonna have to start taking notes instead of relying on memory for the Content Card. And since we both appear to love scary stuff, she sent me some Higurashi, Future Diary, and The Dreaming. I intend to get the reviews for these hopefully all within October! The rest will be kind of spread out. So you have A LOT to expect!

Here's to name a few of the stuff I've finished reading;

Higurashi When They Cry - Curse Killing Arc, v.1
Higurashi When They Cry - Time Killing Arc, v.1-2
Higurashi When They Cry - Abducted by Demons Arc, v.1-2
The Dreaming, v.2-3
Nabari no Ou, v.1-5
Natsume's Book of Friends, v.1-2
Fullmetal Alchemist, v.4-6

Here's the stuff I STILL need to get to/finish;

Natsume's Book of Friends, v.3
Rozen Maiden, v.2-8
Nabari no Ou, vol.6
Bakuman, vol.1-5
Millinium Actress (movie)
When They Cry (anime)
Higurashi When They Cry - Curse Killing Arc, v.2
Higurashi When They Cry - Beyond Midnight Arc, v.1-2
Future Diary, v.1-2
NG Life, v-2

Is that it? I think it is. Anyway, so expect a whole bunch of reviews later on centering around those titles.

Also, here's some other stuff I need to get to in the que;

Steins;Gate episodes 13-24
Ramen Fighter Miki - Complete Series
FMA: Brotherhood (Part 3)
Kiki's Delivery Service
Dream Saga, v.1-2
The Worlds Stops! v.2
Tegami Bachi, v.1-2
Fullmetal Alchemist, v.2-3

...and so much more. I think that's enough to look forward to for now, don't you think? Okay, that's it for now. And of course, surprise webcomic reviews will pop up here and there, as always, and maybe even some Ren'Py visual novels.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

THE ART OF FULL METAL ALCHEMIST 2


A second art book featuring the characters from the top-selling and award-winning manga series, Fullmetal Alchemist. Includes original color artwork from creator, Hiromu Arakawa--each illustration presented in sequential order with commentary from Arakawa himself. Also included are nine pages of detailed character designs for the FMA PS2 video game, plus two pages of brand new manga. Wow!

[Amazon.com Description of The Art Of Fullmetal Alchemist 2]

Artwork For: Fullmetal Alchemist [Manga]
Artist: Hiromu Arakawa
Extras: Video game designs and a 2-page manga afterword

{I, the reveiwer, give The Art Of Fullmetal Alchemist 2, 9 out of 10!}

COMMENTS

Artbooks are very useful, in my opinion. I feel that they inspire and make good references for fanart. Plus it's always nice to just gawk at them. This second collection of full-color FMA artwork is no exception. Featuring artwork from 2004 up to I think 2006 (or maybe just to 2005), this artbook is not only nice to stare at, but fun as well!

Underneath each illustration is a comment from Hiromu Arakawa herself. Sometimes they're informative, sometimes they're kinda random. You could tell she did her best to make sure the comments were as entertaining and fun to read as possible. She'll mention mistakes she made in an illustration and complain about deadlines, or sometimes have random one-liners such as "That coat sure is long..."

If you're looking for something with extreme detail in clothing and backgrounds, you won't find it here. The artwork of FMA leans more toward simplicity, but I think that is what makes these illustrations so brilliant. It doesn't try to be so flashy and overdramatic. Most of the pictures are really fun, such as childhood Ed, Al, and Winry eating watermelon, or most of the entire cast drawn as chibis stuffed in one truck. Several of the illustrations come with no background, which makes the character stand out more. But what I love most about these pictures is Arakawa-sama's coloring. Many of these illustrations are PAINTED, and you can sometimes tell when you see the brushstroke marks at the end. She also uses other coloring methods, such as Copic markers, and sometimes even digital coloring.

Probably the most fun I had out of this artbook was the 2-page manga afterward as she explained the making of this artbook. It's interesting how much is needed to be done to release a collection of illustrations. I also liked how she said she wanted this artbook to be "cheap", affordable to others since she remembers not being able to afford artbooks as a kid. Now I paid the standard 20 bucks for this thing (at least it's hardback though), but it's money well spent. But it makes me wonder how much it cost in Japan.

Another neat extra is that this also contains character designs for the PS2 video games. I didn't particularlly care for them as much, though it is interesting to see. The characters are drawn from many angles, so if you're a fan of the video games, they'd make EXCELLENT fanart reference pictures. They're roughly colored, as if not much time was spent into coloring it really, but they're just designs anyway to give you the idea.

Overall, this is a lovely collection of illustrations any fan of Fullmetal Alchemist would love. I think even people who've never read the manga would also appreciate these images. They're simple, they're fun, and somewhat comforting I think. One of these illustrations are sure to bring a smile to your face or uplift you, as there aren't too many intense images in here (not that there aren't any). Trust me, this is a fun collection to add to your manga shelves!

RECOMMENDED?
Yes! If you love images that are fun to look at, I think you'd appreciate this. The comments are witty, the coloring is gorgeous, Ed looks REALLY GOOD in many of these pictures...what more could you ask for?

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
None.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
Havoc is often seen with a cigerrette in his mouth.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
Armstrong never has a shirt on. When does he ever? There's also a couple of illustrations of Ed shirtless (but he still has his red coat on his shoulders). In the game designs, a female character named Elma's "golem form" is naked, but it;s undetailed. Also there's a couple of shirtless guys in the character designs.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
There is one illustration with some blood, but nothing horrific. There's also one where it looks like Ed defeated Al in a fight and the symbol looks drawn in blood. Weapons are present, but usually not shown in use. One of the video game designs, a character is covered in blood.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
You'll see the symbol of a cross with a serpent wrapped around it a lot, since it is one of the main symbols in the series. One of the video games is called The Girl Who Surpasses God and it includes the character designs for that game in here.

*CHAPTER LIST*
(There's actually 4 chapters)

Friday, September 23, 2011

BROKEN DREAMS


I wanted to draw a short comic and had no idea for a plot. It was for a contest and it was on such short demand that I didn't really have time to come up with anything, so a good friend of mine gave me a scenario she wrote a few months back. She was delighted with the finished results and says she could not have done any better, which made me feel really special. I hope you can also enjoy it and, maybe, even cry.
(Smackjeeves description of Broken Dreams)

Manga-Ka: ClefdeSoll. Originally written by Kikiine.
Distributor: Online exclusive.
Format: Left-to-right
Rating: Not rated

~*~Click Here To Read~*~

{I, the reviewer, give Broken Dreams, 4 out of 10!}

COMMENTS

This comic, as stated in the description, was created for a contest. The story was originally written by one of her good friends who gave her permission to use it. Whether or not this won the contest is not mentioned, but it's up for public view at the webcomic site known as Smackjeeves.

It's a full-color manga about two friends, Laura and Sara. Laura keeps telling Sara to keep her problems to herself, and so she does. Deep inside Sara feels useless and she clings to a silver bell that is hanging by a tattering thread. She cries, as apparently the bell is precious to her and she considers herself to useless to reattach the breaking string.

I have to say, for 10 pages, this was packed with emotion, but so much was unexplained. For example, why Sara feels the way she does and why the bell was so important. Also, some details were left out from the original written version of the story, explaining how the blue and white scarf Sara always wore was made by Laura, her friend.

When comparing the comic version and the written version, each had their own special way of conveying the emotion. The written version has a little more detail (but still lacking in explaining the bell) but less dialogue, while the comic version, being more visual, has more dialogue and packs even more of a punch since everything described is seen. I also loved the how cute the artwork is and the SAI coloring.

Overall, it was a very depressing story that lacked detail and made it a bit confusing. I wouldn't suggest reading this if you're having a bad day. I thought the ending was sad and unfair, and I also thought it was mean of Laura to tell Sara "no one wants to hear about your pathetic problems" which I didn't think helped Sara's confidence.

If you're curious about the written version, you can read it at deviantART:
Click Here To Read!

Recommend?
Unless you're really curious or like depressing stories, I suggest not.

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
None.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
None.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
None.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
(SPOILER! It's not explicity shown, but you get the idea that Sara hung herself).

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
(SPOILER! There's suicide.)

*CHAPTER LIST*
(10 pages)

THE WORDS


[NOTE: I used page two as the reference image as I think it conveys the story best than the first page]

Manga-Ka: fayedove
Distributor: Online exclusive
Format: Left-to-right
Rating: Not rated

~*~Click Here To Read~*~

{I, the reviewer, give The Words, 7 out of 10!}

COMMENTS

This Tsubasa doujinshi takes place after the 213th chapter (so if you haven't read that far, be warned of spoilers in this review that briefly references the final volume). Syaoran finds himself in a dark void and discovers Sakura there as well. He then asks her what were the words she was going to say to him as she faded away in the Dream World.

What happens here appears to be an alternate version of what happens in the beginning chapters of the final volume of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle where after the clones' death they appear in a void and meet up with Yuuko. Now they don't meet up with Yuuko in here, it's just them. And instead of Sakura finally getting the chance to tell him her feelings, she is asked by Syaoran what she was going to say before she disappeared and so she tells him.

I think this alternate version of what happens after 213 was rather cute and well executed. The artwork is on the amatuer side, but I think done fairly well considering the artist admits to having a hard time drawing them (mainly the difficulty of drawing Syaoran). With more practice, I'm sure she'll be able to master it. But you can tell she put a lot of heart and effort into drawing this, which makes it shine.

All in all, it was a short but sweet little doujinshi, well executed in only 5 pages.

Recommend?
Yes! It's cute and if you're a SyaoxSaku fan, you'll love it! Plus it's squeaky clean, which can be hard to find at times in doujinshi.

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
None.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
None.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
There is one panel focusing on Sakura's chest, but it doesn't look like it was meant to be sexual (maybe just filler?)

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
None.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
Other than the fact that this is concerns Clone Syaoran and Sakura, none.

*CHAPTER LIST*
(5 pages)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

PROPOSAL





Manga-Ka: TheWerewolfMustang
Distributor: Online exclusive
Format: Left-to-right
Rating: Not rated

~*~Click Here To Read~*~


{I, the reviewer, give Proposal, 9 out of 10!}

COMMENTS

If you're a fan of RoyAi (nickname for the Mustang and Hawkeye pairing of Fullmetal Alchemist) I think you'll love this doujinshi. Based on dialogue of the voice actors acting out a proposal at an anime con, you can easily guess by the title it's about Roy Mustang asking his sabordinate, Riza Hawkeye, to marry him.

There's no need to watch the video of the "proposal" to enjoy this doujinshi, but it is nice to see to know where the concept came from. I thought, despite only being 3 pages in length, that this little doujinshi was rather cute, ESPECIALLY the scene involving Armstrong storming in! The artwork is a little bit on the rough side, but the character designs are very recognizably them.

If you are a fan of the RoyAi relationship, I'm sure you'll get a kick out of this, especially if you have watched the video. (The link to the video is actually provided in the Author's Comments on the first page).

Recommend?
Yes! For only 3 pages, it was cute and in-character. I could totally imagine that happening.

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
One use of "d".

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
None.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
None.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
None, just (SPOILER! Armstrong hugging Mustang 'till he falls unconcious!)

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
None.

*CHAPTER LIST*
(3 pages)

Friday, September 16, 2011

SHRINKLED


You, Mandy, are an ordinary girl. However, one day, something happens that changes your life. What is it, you ask? Did you win the lottery? Nope. Are you secretly a princess? Sorry. Do you fall into a vat of radioactive waste and suddenly gain abilities that make superman weep? You wish. Unfortunately, none of these things happen. What does happen is that you accidentally get caught in a science project's misfiring range, and get shrunk down to a quarter inch in height! The student body president, Jake, is caught in the crossfire with you. Working together, you must find a way to reach normal height by the end of three days; else you remain shrinkified forever! With the help of bugs, crumbs, and possibly a grumpy old mouse, you just might find a way out in time...
(Description of Shrinkled)

Developers(s): choklit
Rating: All Ages

{I, the reviewer, give Shrinkled, 8 out of 10!)

COMMENTS

So as I browsed the list of many games created with the Ren'Py engine at their main website, I came across this title; "Shrinkled". What convinced me to download and play this game was the description. It sounded really cute and funny, plus it was rated All Ages indicating it to be most likely very clean, content wise. So, I downloaded the game and installed it into my computer and proceeded through the story.

You take the roll of high school student Mandy. After school, before you exit, you bump into Jake who requests you to show the notes you took in class. That's when you run into the first choice. Anyway, let's just say you chose the first one. You need to quickly get something back in the classroom. Accidently you bumped into this thing that was covered with a cloth. Suddenly, everything around you is bigger! And it happened to Jake, too. You've both been shrunk! The first interesting creature you meet is Andy the Ant. You explain the situation and he directs you to Morgrimm the Mouse. He's very gumpy and not of much help and the two of you try to find out how to get to your original size. Upon reading some of the notes of the one who invented the thing that shrunk you, Jake finds out a horrible truth; if you don't find a way to be normal size in 4 days, you'll both be stuck that way forever! Even with both your weight, at an insect size, you're not heavy enough to push the button. Andy the Ant comes back and suggests an idea to get Morgrimm to help you push it! To win his favor, you will need to find crumbs of crackers, cookies, and chocolate. To get it from the other insects, you must agree to taking a quiz from each of them to test your smarts and each question you get right gets you a crumb! You only have 4 days to do so.

This was a really cute, fun game. Most of the questions do deal with genuine information, such as what is the capitol of California and who was the 16th president of the United States. Others deal with knowledge of Ren'Py and the game you are playing, and there was even one interesting question about who Osamu Tezuka is (thankfully I knew, but do you?) There was ONE mathematical question I wasn't sure I would get, but I ended up choosing the right answer. I like how it tests your knowledge on some things. The artwork is so-so, with lovely character designs but with slightly cheesy drawn backgrounds. The two main characters, Jake and Many, are drawn fairly well and some of the insects are cute. My only major complaint is lack of character expressions. The characters seem stiff and basically stand in the same position. Sometimes their expressions in their face changes, but it doesn't really add much effect. Other than that I have no complaints.

Overall, it's a cute little story about a girl and a boy who gets shrunk and throughout the span of 4 days collect enough crumbs to win the favor of the mouse who will hopefully assist them in pushing the button. A random interesting fact is that the creator, choklit, apparently is a Christian (this is proclaimed in the end credit Thank You's). Anyway, it's a fun, clean visual with excellent interaction.

RECOMMENDED?
Sure! It's fun, clean, and quick to finish.

I certify this *VISUAL NOVEL NEWCOMER WORTHY* as it short but sweet, has multiple choices to give you a good feel of how a visual novel works, and is simple and easy to understand.

PLAYER'S COMFORT

[MUSIC]:
The music is very simple and relaxing, though a bit repetitive at times and sometimes didn't feel like it quite fit the mood. But otherwise, rather soothing.


[ARTWORK]:
Backgrounds are drawn a bit amatuer-ish, but the character designs make up for it.


[INTERACTION]:
Excellent interaction! You are quized by the insects you need to collect crumbs from and the questions asked are really neat. Whether it's who Osamu Tezuka is, the capital of California, or the formula for a triangle hypatonuse, you'll have fun seeing if you choose the right answer!


[CONTENT CARD]


[LANGUAGE]
None.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
None.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
Nothing beyond a kiss.


[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
None.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
It's a science fiction story about getting shrunk to insect size by a science project machine and evidently insects can talk. There's no magic, so I'm pretty sure there's no problems.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

x-My World Stops-x


Manga-Ka: Marshmellow Muffin
Distributor: Self-published
Format: Right-to-left
Rating: (not rated)

{I, the reviewer, give x-My World Stops-x, 10 out of 10!}

COMMENTS

Andor, a young staff user who's mission is to find a way to save his world by getting more time. As he's about to go off on his journey to find one of the two people who were able to use their powers without a staff, a strange souless girl shows up and puts everyone under her control.

This 21 page story is a bonus story that happens somewhere in between chapters 17 and 18 of Muffin-sama's "The World Stops!" series. It appears as a bonus in vol.2 of the manga. Though only 21 pages, this was a well written side-story that continues to show the principal's cruelty in stopping worlds for his own personal reasons. The creepy girl Breath is, for a few moments, given the ability to feel emotion when Andor uses his ability to make her see her true desire. And in this case, her desire is to have emotions.

The way the story ended is uncertain, but gives a glimpse of hope. Plus this character seems like someone that Muffin-sama will bring into the main story later. If you're a fan of "The World Stops!" you will definantly enjoy this side story, especially if you'd like to see Breath think for herself for once.

Recommend?
Totally! All fans of this manga should read this.

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
None.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
None.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
None.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
None.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
Andor is a World Keeper. He is also a "staff user" someone who has powers. There are only two people who can use their powers without a staff and Andor wants to seek them out to save his dying world. Breath is an emotionless girl who temporarily is given the ability to feel because of Andor.

*CHAPTER LIST*
(21 pages, no chapters)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

SUMMER WARS


From the visionary directory of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2007 Japanese Academy Award winner, Best Animated Feature) comes the story of an ordinary family going to extraordinary lengths to avert the impending cyber apocalypse!
Kenji is your typical teenage misfit. He's good at math, bad with girls, and spends most of his time hanging out in the all-powerful, online community known as OZ. His second life is the only life he has until the girl of his dreams, Natsuki, hijacks him for a starring role as a fake fiance at her family reunion. Things only get stranger from there. A late-night email containing a cryptic mathematic riddle leads to the unleashing of a rogue AI intent on using the virtual word of OZ to destroy the real world, literarily. As Armageddon looms on the horizon, Kenji and his new family set aside their differences and band together to save the worlds they inhabit in this near-perfect blend of social satire and science fiction . (AnimeNewsNetwork.com) First Press includes collectible art cards.
[Description of Summer Wars]

Original Japanese Title:
Dubbed by: FUNImation
Animation: Madhouse
Manga adaption?: No, this is an original anime.
Rating: PG

{I, the reviewer, give Summer Wars, 8 out of 10!}

COMMENTS

Oz - a virtual world where people around the globe can come together. You can buy, sell, chat, play games, and even have important Internet meetings. Many Oz users use their accounts for business and to control things like water lines, alarms, even satellites and weapons. No matter what language you speak, it translates in real time, enabling anyone to communicate with anyone. All accounts have their own custom made avatar. Yes, Oz is a fascinating place. Everyone depends on it.

Kenji, someone who does maintenance checks on Oz, is hired to do an interesting job by a girl named Natsuki. To go meet her family and pretend to be her fiance! Why is she doing this? Her Great-Grandmother is turning 90 years old and she said she can't die until she meets her awesome boyfriend. All her family are coming together because it's her birthday. The Juunochi clan is a very interesting family. Like all families, you have a variety of people, a history, as well as drama. Kenji has to survive that for 4 whole days?! It's not gonna be easy, as he doesn't have much experience with girls, and to pretend to be her boyfriend? A lot of pressure.

One night he gets a strange text message he assume is a math problem. He writes it down to solve it and sends it back. Little does he know it's the Security Code for Oz and just by replying he has given over access of his account! Worst yet, it's hacked into by a very complex A.I. program known as Love Machine. This A.I. is very dangerous, as it's made to learn. It starts to hack and take over millions of other accounts and start messing with things across the globe. Even more disturbing, it resets the world's clocks, causing it to go backwards. What will happen when it finally reaches zero? It's up to the Juunochi family, Kenji, and Takashi to battle it out and stop this thing before the clock reaches zero!

The animation of this film is rather nice. Being the same director as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, the art style is exactly like in the film, leaning toward a more "realistic" anime style. The animation of the virtual world known as Oz is bright and colorful and very fun to watch. Due to so many characters, being a large family and all, there isn't too much room for character developement and some characters get a longer spotlight than others, but each character is individual despite quite a few don't get much screen time. The pacing is done nicely, not rushing into things too fast, but not advancing too slowly either. It starts out as what would appear to be a simple slice-of-life, but then turns into a somewhat sci-fi adventure when Oz is being manipulated by an unknown A.I. program designed for hacking. I also liked the message about family, how you should stick together, spend time with each other, and eat together. Because, according to Granny, there's nothing worse than being hungry and lonely. I have to say, I agree with that. I really like how family is portrayed in this film as important. Sure, no family is perfect, and this film does not hide that fact, but despite it, you all still love each other. I also like how it shows a scenario of the dangers of too much technology dependence. While technology is good, trusting Cyberspace too much with your personal information and work is a bad idea.

While I did enjoy this movie much more than I did The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, I have to admit I am a little disappointed. I was really excited when I saw the movie trailer and the date it came out. Now after finally seeing it, I have to admit there are some things that bothered me. For one, the language. It's nothing really harsh, but this would of been a more family oriented film if that wasn't in there (though I heard that's only the dub, the sub has little to none). Plus, who released the A.I. Unit, though not heavily focused on, also turned me off. ~SPOILER ALERT BEGINS~ (Though Wabisuke is the creator of Love Machine, he sold this program meant for hacking to the U.S. Military and they decided to "test" it's abilities on Oz, the major virtual world that THE WHOLE WORLD relies on) ~SPOILER ALERT ENDS~
I'm sure I'm not the only one who is just a little bothered by this, but other than that, I loved the story and the message about family. Plus the showndown in Oz I have to admit is pretty epic, in my opinion.

This movie isn't perfect, it has it's flaws. But it's still worth watching at least once. It's a good family film, though considering the language in the dub, it's not something for your younger kids/siblings. But all in all, a very enjoyable and highly entertaining movie.

Recommend?
Sure. It's a highly entertaining film with a pretty interesting plot and a message about the importance of family. If you can looked passed a few things, I think you'll enjoy it. It's something you could at least see once.

I certify this *ANIME NEWCOMER WORTHY* as it's a simple plot about family getting together but also has the interesting scifi plot of an A.I. program taking over the Internet to add some excitement. Nothing too weird and out there to cause confusion.

[VIEWING PLEASURE]

[MUSIC]
Nothing I'd consider really memorable, but fitting for the film, nonetheless.

[SUB VS. DUB]
I've only seen the dub as of this moment, and Funimation as always does an excellent job.

[MOVIES/MANGA]
(none)

[RELATED TITLES]
This is by the same director who did "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time". Neither of these stories are related, however.

[DVD EXTRAS]

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
Minor swearing such as "d" maybe some "h" and one use of both the "a" and "bs word" in the dub. I heard that the subbed version has little to NO language at all.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
Some of the family members drink beer and there is mention of needing "plenty of sake".

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
A family member asks Kenji when the "baby is due" assuming he got Natsuki pregnant (which wasn't true). Natsuki is a bit "in love" with her Uncle, but nothing goes on between them and she eventually gets over that. There's a brief scene of a kid running naked (only the butt is shown) and Kenji about to take a bath (but he's covered below the belt). There's almost an undetailed magic girl-like transformation of Natsuki's avatar.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
There's some fight scenes in the virtual world of Oz, but as it being virtual, there is no real world injuries. There's a scene where Granny takes a weapon and threatens to "kill" Wabisuke. There's also a scene where Kazuma punches another family member.
(SPOILER! One morning when the family wakes up, Granny is dead. They try reviving her, but it's no use. Also, when the satellite is set to crash on the Juunochi household, there's a big explosion, but not injuries).

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
I don't remember any.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

HEAVEN BOUND (Prologue)



Developer(s): Christian Manga, Calbhach, Inkhana
Rating: (unknown)

{I, the reviewer, give Heaven Bound (prologue), 7 out of 10!)

COMMENTS

If you were a fan of Heaven Bound, many of you are probably aware of the fact that the mangaka, Calbhach, decided to cancel it not long after Volume 1 was released in print. However, she decided to bring it back, no longer in the form of manga, but in the form of a visual novel. As of this moment she releases whatever she has finished piece by piece at the now revamped HB site you can find at Christian Manga's main site. This is a review for the first released part, The Prologue.

Now I've never played a visual novel before, so it was exciting to see one of my favorite manga be converted into this new format. The Prologue gives us a more detailed look into what happened to cause our protagonist, Elijah Worthy, to become metal. We begin in the office where his parents are talking to the guy in charge, getting ready to have the implants put in. We see little Elijah on his mother's lap, which I felt looked very cute. We also see the part where the implant is put on Elijah. It's not as intense as it was in the manga, though. And of course, we witness him briefly "mutating" as you can see his skin starting to turn gray.

The coloring looks rather interesting and gives you a better feel of how the characters look (since there wasn't any color artwork for the original manga). Game play is fairly simple. As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no interaction at all. You're just reading through the story. One thing I found odd was that the characters lips would move whenever there is speaking dialogue. It seems a bit unnescessary considering there is NO VOICES in this visual novel. Other than that, I really have no complaints with how the visual novel was constructed for The Prologue.

So even if you're a fan of Heaven Bound, downloading the visual novel of The Prologue will still offer you something new and fresh, storywise, as this is a longer flashback than the 3-page one we see in the manga. And I think it's a good start for new visual novel players, as it gives you an idea of how it looks and feels. So far, the HB visual novel seems very promising and I look forward to see it go further in developement.

Recommend?
If you've been looking for a Christian visual novel, or are new to playing, this is good to start with, as it's pretty short (being only a prologue). Plus, if you were a fan of the Heaven Bound manga, it gives you a somewhat fresh look at the story in it's new format.

I certify this *VISUAL NOVEL NEWCOMER WORTHY* as the gameplay is simple without interaction and gives you an idea of how a visual novel looks and feels.

PLAYER'S COMFORT

[MUSIC]:
The music is a bit on the cheesy side, sounding like the old school arcade music at times, but overall fits the visual novel nicely. In no way is it annoying.

[ARTWORK]:
It's a step up from the manga. The characters are drawn like how you remember them, but does not look like a rush job. The colors look very nice and interesting. The backgrounds are especially nice, since the manga often lacked such.

[INTERACTION]:
There is no form of interaction.

[CONTENT CARD]

[LANGUAGE]
None.

[TABACCO/ALCOHOL/DRUG USE]
None.

[SEXUAL CONTENT/NUDITY]
None.

[VIOLENCE/BLOOD AND GORE]
Everyone wakes up with mutations, screaming, but it's blacked out and only described, not shown. Death is also mentioned, but not shown.

[RELIGIOUS MATERIAL]
Those of you familiar with the Heaven Bound story should remember it is about a guy who claimed he saw Heaven in a telescope, so many Christians built the HB station to be put in a long, ageless sleep to awake in Heaven. In The Prologue we witness when Elijah gets the implant and wakes up mutated, having a metal body. It is also mentioned many were either mutated.