Tag Archives: manga

Book Review: Ten Count, Vol 1 by Rihito Takarai

Ten Count, Vol 1   

Author: Rihito Takarai

Publisher: SuBLime Manga

American release date: August 9, 2016

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/glbt/178 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Shirotani believes that the whole world is dirty and contaminated. Handling certain objects is difficult for him, at best. Even so, he considers his beliefs to be his problem and no one else’s. But perhaps it’s time to readjust his thinking when he finds himself the cause of his employer being injured in an accident. Through the accident, Shirotani meets Kurose, who makes some very astute observations regarding Shirotani’s idiosyncracies. How does Kurose know? Kurose suggests Shirotani see a counselor and gives him a card, which Shirotani surprisingly keeps.

Not sure why, Shirotani finds himself in front of the address on the card. As he’s standing there, Kurose rides up on his bicycle. It turns out he’s a counselor at the center. He’s glad to see Shirotani there. But when Shirotani attempts to bolt, Kurose suggests that perhaps the two of them can meet, outside of the center, so he can help Shirotani. They end up meeting at a restaurant where they discuss Shirotani’s problem and some of the limits of what he can and cannot do. Kurose has him make out a list of ten actions or activities Shirotani has an aversion to, with number one being the one with the least aversion and so on. Shirotani leaves the number ten spot open, and Kurose says he can fill it in later. By the time he completes everything on the list, Kurose declares, Shirotani will be cured! Kurose assures Shirotani he need never come to the clinic. When he asks about a consulting fee, Kurose says there will be none, as he’s doing it on his own time. When Shirotani asks why he would do that, he’s surprised at Kurose’s answer—he wants to be Shirotani’s friend!

And so they begin with the first item on Shirotani’s list—to touch a door knob bare-handed.

I think the premise for this yaoi series is very unique. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I like the way it handles Shirotani’s compulsions, never making light of them. Kurose is a thorough professional and very understanding. When Shirotani is late, Kurose usually knows why that is, what he’s gone through just to get there. But I think he also realizes he has feelings for Shirotani that he isn’t about to reveal or burden him with while they are in this current relationship of counselor and counselee. Of course I’m hoping that Shirotani and Kurose will become a couple, and I’m hoping that the tenth unrevealed item on Shirotani’s list is to be able to fall in love, and that he will do so with Kurose. Time will tell. There are five more volumes to go, looking forward to reading them.

 

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Book Review: Soul Eater, Vol 1 by Atsushi Ohkubo

Soul Eater, Vol 1 

Author: Atsushi Ohkubo

Publisher: Yen Press

American release date: April 22, 2014

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Maka is a scythemeister and a student at DWMA—Death Weapon Meister Academy. Her partner is a living scythe named Soul Eater. Maka’s goal is to make him into a death scythe worthy of being used by Death himself. In order to do this, Soul must consume 99 souls and one witch. Easier said than done. Currently, Death (also known as Shinigami-sama) is using Death Scythe as his current weapon. Death Scythe also happens to be Maka’s father, who is constantly yelling at Soul, warning him not to touch his little girl. When he isn’t busy being a major horn dog, that is. Despite his many protestations of love for his daughter, Maka spurns him, which reduces him to tears. Soul already has his 99 souls, all he needs is the witch. They find a witch by the name of Blair, so now the battle is on!

Black Star is a shadow weapon meister who wields a demon shadow weapon called Tsubaki. So far, he has collected zero souls, mostly because he is an egocentric loud-mouth who can’t seem to keep from announcing his presence and his intentions even in situations that require stealth and silence. When Shinigami-sama tells them there is a special way to become Death’s weapon without absorbing the souls of 99 humans and one witch, Black Star wants to know more. This way involves humans who are stronger than normal humans. And there is such a human, named Mifune, who is nearby. He is the bodyguard for a witch named Angela. That’s all Black Star needs to hear. Off they go! Does he have what it takes to defeat Mifune and absorb Angela’s soul?

Shinigami-sama has a son, Death the Kid. He wields two weapons, a pair of demon twin guns who are sisters, Patty and Liz. Death’s biggest problem is his unswerving need for symmetry. If something is asymmetrical, it throws him off his game and he becomes obsessed with making it right. His own hair distresses him because he has three white streaks on one side that are not on the other. As a shinigami, Death the Kid doesn’t need to collect souls, but he wants to make his own weapon with his own two hands. Because he uses two weapons, that means he needs to collect twice the number of souls. He asks his father if he knows anywhere he can get a large amount of souls. Shinigami-sama sends him to the pyramid Anubis in Egypt, where a necromancer witch is creating a large number of mummies. Will he be able to find the souls he needs and defeat the witch, or will his need for symmetry disrupt his plans?

The first day of school! Maka is excited and goes to wake Soul, only to find him in a distasteful position! When she finally gets him to school, they speculate about who their new home room teacher will be as the previous one was killed. To Maka’s dismay, the new teacher turns out to be Death Scythe! From the beginning, he is very upsetting to his daughter, like when he announces he’ll only take attendance for the ladies. Luckily for Maka and Soul, their presence is requested by the Shinigami-sama, so they leave the classroom. They run into Black Star and Tsubaki, who have also been summoned. Can this be a special assignment for them? Or is it something a lot worse?

I loved the first volume of Soul Eater. The characters are interesting and the artwork is really cool. Maka’s father, Death Scythe, is pretty cute even if he can’t stop perving on all the girls. I like Death the Kid, even though he’s a little strange. There are a lot of strange people in this world, though, to be honest. We meet another one at the end of the volume, and learn what his relationship to Death Scythe is.

I like the artwork, especially the color pictures of the moon. I would say my only real complaint is the amount of fanservice in just one volume. By which I mean lots of boobage. Which is great if you’re into that, not so much if you aren’t. I just tend to ignore it and move on. I am also watching the anime, which left me a little confused, which is why I decided to read the manga too. That makes the anime clearer.

This story has a great deal of humor and a lot of soul – no pun intended. I recommend this for teenagers and adults alike. I look forward to reading volume 2.

 

Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 18 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Vol 18      

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: January 2, 2018

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/202 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Rin and Yukio have been sent by Mephisto to rescue Shura, only to find her in the clutches of the demon Hachirotaro Okami. When Rin attacks the serpent, using his Satan Bomb move, Shura realizes he has gained greater control of his flames. He’d been against the name at first, finding it stupid, but she explained to him that it would be easier for him to remember, and she turns out to be right. The brothers rescue Shura but the serpent escapes. Shura can’t help but remember when Father Fujimoto asked her to watch over the twins, although she was less than interested, and she wonders if he foresaw this day.

They use a key to get back to True Cross, and Yukio winds up in the infirmary, to his chagrin. Rin tells him to get better and then he can go back to his special training, whatever it is. Shura starts to talk to Rin about what happened to Yukio in Aomori, then decides against it. Meanwhile the search for the demon serpent is on, but unfortunately someone on the other side finds him first and turns him over to Lucifer and his forces.

After she recovers, Shura goes to see the director and learns the serpent has been given to the others. They suspect Shima, but have no proof, since he is a double agent. Shura asks Mephisto if all of this is part of some big plan of his, but as usual he is cagy, and remarks that she cares more about others than she used to.

Back at the dorm, Rin is practicing grilling fresh fish, so he can cook for Yukio in the hospital. The others tell him he won’t be allow to grill there, much less with Satan’s flame. They find Bon hanging out Lightning’s laundry and make fun of him for allowing him to use him in that way, but he explains that he is trying to attain a state of selflessness, so they let it go.

Lightning takes Suguro to the underground library of the True Cross Japan branch, which is huge. Lightning got them permission for five days of research, and he intends to investigate the Illuminati. He thinks everything that is going on began on the Blue Night. He’s sure Mephisto knows the truth and he intends to make him talk.

Things are really getting good in this volume, especially trying to figure out everyone’s hidden agenda. Since her rescue by the Okumura brothers, Shura has become more human and likeable, although I could do without the skimpy outfits. Shima is an enigma. You want to intensely dislike him for being a spy, and yet there is something compelling about him that makes you want to give him the benefit of the doubt. One of the funniest parts of the book involves Rin’s confession to Shiemi that he likes her, and its aftermath, which involves the return of someone Rin cannot stand. Lightning isn’t the punk I first took him for, and his investigation of the Illuminati, along with Bon, is becoming very interesting, especially if it leads in the direction I think it is.

Another great volume from Kazue Kato, I look forward to the next one.

 

 

Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 17 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Vol 17     

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 4, 2017

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/186 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

When Shura disappears, Mephisto sends Yukio and Rin to find her, telling them to go to Aomori Prefecture, as that is where she is from. Plus the most recent GPS reading places here there. Yukio claims he can handle the assignment alone, to Rin’s dismay, but Mephisto insists they work together, so off they go. He also lets Yuki know that he knows about his dangerous training, and to be careful.

They take a train to Lake Towada and find room in an inn. The old lady who runs the inn assures them they’ll have privacy, having totally misinterpreted their relationship. As they relax in a hot bath, Rin questions Yukio about the dangerous training, which his brother blows off, then reveals how he has messed up with Shiemi. He asks Yuki if he likes Shiemi too, but doesn’t really get an answer to his question. Later, in speaking with the innkeeper, they learn that Shura spent the night there and said when she left that she was sort of going home.

Meanwhile, Shura meets with a mysterious figure she calls Hachiro who is insistent that she keep to the terms of her blood contract and have a child! As Yukio and Rin search for Shura, Yukio tells his brother the story of the baba yaga of Lake Towanda, and of how Father Fujimoto rescued  Shura, who was being held prisoner there. Rin senses trouble ahead. They find an injured Shura lying in the snow, and she tells them she is going to die soon! She tells them the story of the blood contract that began even before she was born…

This volume is primarily about Shura, but it’s also about Yukio and Rin, giving them some brotherly alone time which they seldom get. Shura’s backstory is interesting, and the contract she was burdened with horrendous. Finally resigned to her fate, it takes the two brothers to make her see she can have a life of her own. I love the flashbacks of when she met Father Fujimoto. The things she said and did made me laugh, especially when she said she wanted to have his baby! I loved seeing Rin and Yukio working together. I worry about Yukio, and whatever power is coming to light inside of him. I think he’ll be all right. After all, look at Rin! He’s a good boy, just high spirited. And not likely to be swayed to the dark side.

Another great volume, look forward to more!

Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 16 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Vol 15    

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 6 , 2016

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/218 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Yukio visits Shura in the hospital to discuss the current situation and to explain about Shima being a double agent. A tired, overworked Yukio doesn’t trust either Mephisto or Shima, but for the present there is nothing to be done about that. Shura tells him that Mephisto has given her tickets for everyone to an ultra bath in Southern Cross, and tells a reluctant Yukio he needs it as much or more than anyone else. So everyone heads out for some down time, including the acknowledged spy in their midst.

The girls share some time in the bath, while the boys goof around in their bath. When Shima shows up, they think he’s acting weird, until he reveals the reason for his behavior – namely, that Izumo, Shiemi, and Shura are right next door, and they are naked! His stated intentions of seeing them naked produces an unexpected declaration from Rin.

Back at home, Rin finds an abandoned kotatsu with a missing blanket, and dreams of being able to have people over for a hot pot party! Concerned about his brother, he questions Yukio, who blows him off, as always. At the Vatican, Mephisto is attending a meeting at True Cross Headquarters concerning recent develops. The name Igor Niehaus is brought up, the former instructor who was suspended after an attack on Rin and whose current whereabouts are unknown. Accused by Arthur Angel of being a traitor, Mephisto convinces them that he has their best interests at heart, and is working to keep the Gehenna gate closed. Lightning privately convinces Angel to have him assigned to the Japan Branch of True Cross, so he can look into matters.

To the Exwires dismay, Yukio informs them that they will be taking exorcist certification exam sooner than expected.  They must each resubmit their desired meisters ahead of time. Rin discusses the Yukio situation with Shiemi, but she is as much in the dark concerning his behavior as Rin is. Meanwhile, Yukio has his own agenda, one that brings him little sleep, brought on by unexpected observations of himself. Lightning shows up at True Cross as an instructor, and takes Suguro on as his acolyte/servant. The other Exwires can’t believe the highly alpha Suguro acting like such a toady, but Suguro insists Lightning is his mentor and he wishes to learn from him. He hopes that if he does well, Lightning will take him on as an apprentice.

Shiemi is uncertain which meister she wishes to study for, so returns home to consult with her mother, only to have an unexpected discussion. On a routine mission, Shiemi and RIn find themselves trapped together, and things are …. well, said… that could have interesting consequences.

The action doesn’t stop in this volume of Blue Exorcist. Never a dull moment. It’s interesting to watch Shima’s return to the school and see how the Exwires relate to him, especially Suguro and Konekomaru. Being a double agent must be tricky. How can either side fully trust him, not knowing for sure where his true loyalties lie since he has to be convincing to all of them? We see more into what Yukio is up to, and his doubts about himself as well as the potentially harmful way he is dealing with it. Sooner or later, I think he needs to tell Rin what’s going on, and Mephisto too. Despite being odd, I suspect there is more good than bad in Mephisto. A love triangle is forming, but I think it’s based on erroneous information and is more a comedy of errors than anything else. Can’t wait to see what happens.

Another great volume, looking forward to more!

Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 15 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Vol 15    

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: May 3, 2016

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/202 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Exwires manage to shrink a monstrous Gedoin down to a more manageable size and find themselves face to face with Shima, who manages to give them the slip yet again. Recovering in the hospital, Izumo learns the whereabouts of her missing sister and uses a key to go see her. She finds that her sister has been adopted into a nice family and is very happy. She doesn’t tell her sister who she is, and her sister doesn’t remember her, so returns to the hospital, crushed. She confronts Shiemi, who only wants to make her feel better, but Izumo isn’t ready for that and resists.

Suguro goes home to tell Shima’s family the awful truth about their son, only to learn something very unexpected. In the meantime, Gedoin has escaped and made his way back to Lucifer on the Dominus Liminis. Gedoin only wishes to please Lucifer, but Lucifer thinks he is nothing and quickly deflates him.

The Exwires return to school, and we learn more about what Shima is really up to. Naturally, Mephisto is involved. In the classroom, confusion ensues when first one and then a second Shima turn up. Who is the real one and who the imposter? And why is either one there? Mephisto arrives in the nick of time and transports some of the students back to his office before they harm Shima. There they meet Lightning, Arthur Angel’s second-in-command, who has come to determine if Shima is trustworthy. Other questions arise, such as why is Mephisto raising the son of Satan? Answers are demanded.

This volume of Blue Exorcist is filled with a lot, both in terms of action and character development and story. The truth about Shima was unexpected, and I can see it becoming problematic for everyone.  I love how outspoken Rin is. When asked if he thought Shima was trustworthy, he said no, but he meant Mephisto, not Shima. Plans are being made to fight the Illuminati, and time is of the essence. How much does Mephisto know that he isn’t telling? Also, what’s up with Yukio? An interesting scene hints at what I’ve been thinking all along.

Great volume, looking forward to more!

 

 

Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 14 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Vol 14     

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: January 5,2016

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/202 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

While attempting to rescue Izumo from the clutches of the Illumunati madman, Professor Gedoiin, the exwires find themselves not only separated from one another but facing zombies! One by one they defeat their foes and assemble as a group  once more, only to face Gedoiin. Gedoiin reasons that it’s only right for humans to experiment on humans, as they’ve experimented on animals for a long time. Just then her captors bring out Izumo. Ren goes into action and finds himself facing off with Shima! Rejecting the help of the exwires, Izumo agrees to take the Nine Tails inside herself. Can they stop the Nine tails without hurting its vessel, Izumo?

This volume of Blue Exorcist is not as Ren-centric as others. It showcases the exwires more as a team. We get a glimpse of Suguro and what he was like before he became his current buff and strong self. And Izumo sees another side of her otherwise weak and selfish mother. Professor Gedoiin is one of the creepiest villains we’ve encountered so far, and he doesn’t get any better in this volume. I’m still not entirely sure that Shima is the traitor he seems to be, either.

To be honest, I’m not sure what purpose would be served by implanting the Nine Tails in Izumo, but I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes now. Another good volume, can’t wait for more!