Tag Archives: paranormal

Book Review: Soul Eater, Volume 3 by Atsushi Ohkubo

Soul Eater, Vol 3     

Author: Atsushi Ohkubo

Publisher: Yen Press

American release date: March 3, 2015

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Soul is hospitalized, following the fight with Ragnarok, unaware that some of the creature’s black blood has mixed in with his. What they are all unaware of is that the witch Medusa has become a doctor at the hospital! That can’t be good! A depressed Maka blames herself for Soul being hurt, but as she leaves his hospital room, she finds her father waiting for her. She goes up to the roof with him to watch the sunset.

Black Star balks at the remedial lesson he’s been assigned by Sid—he’s charged with cleaning and straightening up the library. Not sure where to begin, he runs across the library’s collection of manga, to his delight. When he expresses his joy a little too loudly, he draws the ire of Death the Kid, who is also there. Not accidentally, as Black Star assumes, but very much on purpose. Death tells him he’s looking for a book about a legendary blade, call the “holy sword” known as Excalibur. Dr. Stein weighs in and tells them even he could not draw Excalibur. So naturally Black Star and Death the Kid want to twith hiry their hand at it! Although, perhaps this isn’t quite the adventure they were looking for.

Tsubaki accepts an assignment to deal with the Uncanny Sword Masamune, even though Shinigami-sama warns her it will be a hard fight. But she feels compelled to do it, mostly because Masamune is her older brother! She and Black Star head to the village she came from. Black Star is his usual loud self. But when a villager notices his tattoo and recognizes it for what it is, Black Star’s story begins to come out. When they find Masamune, Black Star battles him, using Tsubaki. But the fight is ultimately Tsubaki’s, and she’ll do what she must, even if that includes getting into her brother’s head.  Black Star sets up a vigil beside Tsubaki’s body and vows to wait for her as long as it takes.

In the hospital, Soul confides to Medusa about his strange dream, which has a disturbingly Twin peaks vibe and ends in the same disturbing way—with him coming out of Maka’s stomach! Medusa tells him not to worry about it. On his release, Maka throws a party for him at their apartment, and Blair gives Make and Death the Kid quite a shock. Suddenly, Maka is startled at the realization that there is a presence in Death City that should not be there.

I especially enjoyed seeing more of Tsubaki in this volume of Soul Eater. She doesn’t usually get as much attention as Black Star, probably because he’s a hog for the spotlight and she is much quieter. Her interaction with her brother is touching. I also liked watching Black Star and Death the Kid in their quest to draw Excalibur from the stone. The cover, featuring Death the Kid and the Thompson sisters, is great. As usual, I love the artwork. I liked seeing a more tender, Dad side of Maka’s father. Too bad I don’t think it’ll last. He always manages to do something wrong sooner or later.

Another great volume, looking forward to more of the same!

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Book Review: Bleach, Vol 3 by Tito Kube

Bleach, Vol 3     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 12, 2004

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Ichigo and Rukia deal with the problem of the Mod Soul by inserting him into a stuffed lion and naming him Kon. Now Ichigo has two roommates – Kon and Rukia, who is sleeping in his closet.

The anniversary of Ichigo’s mother’s death arrives, and the Kurosaki family head to the cemetery to pay their respects. Ichigo’s friends know in advance not to expect him to be in school on that day. Surprisingly, when they arrive, they find Rukia there. Ichigo takes her aside to ask why, and she explains she wants to be near him in case a Hollow should show up.

Ichigo was nine when it happened. Even then, he could see dead people, but he couldn’t always distinguish between the living and the dead. So when he first saw the little girl standing by the river, he wanted to protect her and went to her. His mother, who was with him, came rushing after him. He didn’t see what got her, but when he looked she was dead. Since then, he’s blamed himself for her death.

Waiting for Ichigo, Rukia senses a hollow, although there hasn’t been an order. She and Ichigo hurry toward its spiritual pressure, which is close, only to discover Karin already there, on the ground. Worse than that, the same little girl is there who was by the river six years before, when his mother died. Will he be able to settle the past, or will the Hollow defeat Ichigo by dredging up his guilt surrounding his mother’s death?

Rukia pushes Kon into Ichigo’s body while he soul reaps, and she and Kon tend to Karin and Yuzu, taking them home, so Ichigo can do what he needs to do. Afterward, Rukia returns to Ichigo, but she’s promised not to interfere, as he says this is personal, and he has to do it. Can she keep from joining the fight, if Ichigo’s life is on the line?

This is a very poignant volume of Bleach and deals with a lot of what makes Ichigo tick, starting with his mother’s death, which changed him forever, and for which he blames himself.  Ichigo and Rukia’s relationship is strengthened. I have to believe that at some point they will become a couple, but as I’m 169 episodes into the anime and that hasn’t happened yet, I guess we have a ways to go before we see that happen.

The scene with Ichigo and his dad at the end is priceless. And having seen the anime, I realize something I hadn’t noticed before, but that would be shenanigans to call that out so soon, so you’ll just have to figure it out yourself or wait for the revelation, which is a ways off. Kon’s character has toned down, maybe because he’s stuck in the lion body or maybe because he isn’t in fear of being killed now, and he isn’t alone.

Next volume should be great, as we meet Don Kanonji!  Can’t wait!

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 1 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 1     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: May 19, 2004

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Ichigo Kurosaki can see ghosts. This is something he’s lived with all his life, so dead people are a normal part of his existence. He’s sensitive to their sufferings. When punks break a floral offering for a young child, Ichigo shows them the error of their ways by beating it into them.  Ichigo lives with his father and two sisters, Karin and Yuzu, his mother having died some time ago. They run the Kurosaki Clinic. His father is strict, in that he demands the teen-aged Ichigo be home by 7, and he has a disconcerting habit of attacking his son without warning. It’s become something of a male ritual with them, each trying to get over on the other. The girls just roll their eyes and shakes their heads at them.

When a mysterious girl in black robes appears suddenly in Ichigo’s room, he is thrown for a loss. She is equally flabbergasted that not only can he see her, he was able to kick her. She explains to him that she is Rukia Kuchiki, and she is a Soul Reaper from the Soul Society. When Ichigo tries to have his dad remove the intruder, his father looks at him like he’s crazy. Apparently no one can see her but him, lending credence to her story. Rukia explains to Ichigo that there are two kinds of souls – the normal kind, whom she performs konso on so they can pass on to the Soul Society, and the hollows, who must be vaporized. Rukia is looking for a hollow now, in Ichigo’s house.

Ichigo realizes to his horror that his family is in danger, and they are being attacked by a Hollow. His guilt only grows when Rukia surmises the Hollow is looking for Ichigo because of his strong spirit pressure, unlike other humans. Ichigo is determined to fight for his family. Rukia only intends to lend Ichigo half of her power so he can combat this enemy, but to her dismay, he absorbs all of it, rendering her unable to use them.

The next day Ichigo is confused to find his family have no memory of the attack and believe a truck drove into their home, causing extensive damage. He goes to school, wondering what’s become of Rukia. Did she return to her Soul Society? To his surprise and dismay he finds her as a new student in his class. What’s up with that? He confronts her in private and asks why she didn’t return to where she belongs, only to learn that she can’t because he took all her powers. So until she can get them back, he has to perform soul reaper duties in her place!

Ichigo and Rukia run into Ichigo’s friend, Orihime, who is something of a space cadet and a klutz but a super sweet girl. Rukia notices a strange bruise on Orihime’s leg, which she laughingly attributes to clumsiness, but Rukia isn’t sure that’s really the case. That night, Ichigo’s sister questions him about some missing items, such as her pajamas and a dress, but he has no idea where they are, why should he? In his room, he hears a phone go off, which turns out to be Rukia’s, and she is sleeping in his closet? No time to argue, a Hollow is nearby and they must confront it! When they find the monster, Ichigo is appalled when he recognizes who it is!

I’ve been watching the anime for several months now but am just starting to read the manga. It’s every bit as good as the anime, and I love seeing the characters in print. One thing I didn’t realize from the anime is that Ichigo has a nickname, which is Strawberry. My daughter explained that it’s because his name translates to strawberry. Learn something new every day!

In this first volume, we are meeting people, such as Orihime and Chad, and of course Rukia. Her sensing Ichigo’s spirit pressure is what starts everything moving.  The Kurosaki family is great, I love their interactions. Dad is really something else. But everything is done with love, and it shows. Ichigo may have been reluctant to take on the duties of a soul reaper, but once he’s agreed to do it, he goes into it wholeheartedly, as it’s his nature to stand up for other people who might not be able to stand up for themselves. He’s a good boy, he is.  The only criticism I can make (and it’s not something unusual to Kubo alone, it’s most of the male manga artists) is the tendency to draw women with huge breasts. But what can you do? I guess their primary target audience are teen-aged males.

Great first volume, lots to go, looking forward to it!

 

Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 21 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Vol 21     

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: January 1, 2019

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 

The public is starting to “see” monsters! What the heck? At an emergency meeting at the Prime Minister’s residence, Lightning reminds them that Mephisto’s barrier is set to expire in February. When Sir Pheles arrives, he tells them they have to quit avoiding reality, then schedules a press conference for that afternoon. He has Shura assigned to him as security, and refers to her as the “beautiful boobalicious exorcist.”

At the press conference, the Prime Minister refers to “an anti-social organism,” as being the cause of the problem. Waiting in the wings, an amused Mephisto faces an angry Yukio Okumura, who wants him to admit he knew all along about Yukio’s flame, like his brother’s. But Mephisto refuses to rise to the bait and strides to the podium to inform the public of the existence of demons, only to be shot…

Rin watches the shocking scenario on the television and rushes to his brother’s side. Meanwhile, Shura is pointing out to the authorities who have scooped Yukio up that he can’t possibly be the shooter and they are allowing the actual shooter to escape! Thanks to Mephisto’s injuries, however, the Gehenna barrier collapses! Rin is struggling to make sense of what has happened, and why Yukio is so determined to know the truth of their birth. Is it possible he has inherited the Satan gene as well?

Rin goes to Yukio’s rescue and attempts an escape! But things do not go as planned, and everyone’s favorite double agent is on hand to add to the confusion. When the Koma sword breaks, will Rin survive?

All I can say is wow, just wow. So much going on here. It’s literally mind-blowing. I can usually tell how things will work out, but right now I can honestly say I have no clue. Yukio is undergoing his own personal trials, but so is Rin. Is Shima taking advantage of the confusion to press his own agenda? What is his agenda? I keep wondering if this is all an elaborate set-up, whereby Yukio infiltrates the other side. He’s got the brains and determination to do something like that. Rin, not so much. But I can’t tell. And what a cliffhanger too, just as Mephisto is about to spill the beans to Rin about his and Yukio’s birth.

What agony, especially not knowing how far away the next volume is. A riveting volume, a real page-turner, and one calculated to keep you on the edge of your seats! Please, next one soon!

Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 20 by Kazue Kato

Blue Exorcist, Vol 20     

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 2, 2018

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/210 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The Ex-wires decide to throw a party—a combination birthday and Christmas party. Rin buys some cheap reindeer ears for himself and a moustache and glasses costume for Yukio, who is less than impressed. Shiemi dresses as Santa Claus and carries a large bag containing a full-sized decorated Christmas tree (it’s actually Nee). When tragedy accidentally ensues, they salvage what they can, and save the day by having a hot-pot party. As they are partying, Shima receives a call from his older brother Juzo—he and Mamushi are going to have a baby! Although they are officially married, they are going to have a ceremony for family, and they want Shima and Bon and Konekomaru to attend!

After the party, Rin and Yukio learn, to their surprise, that Shura lives in their dorm too. Shura has had a bit to drink and mentions to them that she met their mother. Naturally, they want details, so Shura tells them the story, which occurred when she was a bratty little girl being raised by Father Fujimoto. Afterward, the brothers discuss what they found out. Yukio expresses a desire to know more about their mother, but Rin doesn’t, to his brother’s surprise.

The Ex-wires all travel to Kyoto for the wedding. Everyone pitches in to help with preparations, although with his arm in a sling, Yukio is limited in what he can do. Lots of family members show up from both sides. Rin is concerned about his brother. He feels as if something is wrong with him, but he doesn’t know what.

Even from Kyoto, Bon checks on Lightning, chastising him to get out of bed. As soon as he hangs up with Bon, Lightning places another call, asking about Dr. Dragulescu’s schedule. Shima is sitting alone, away from the festivities, when Konekomaru finds him. They have a talk, and Shima starts to feel better about himself.

The Ex-Wires and a few others head to the temple for New Year’s Eve, with a stern warning to stay together, but Rin finds himself standing next to Shiemi, separated from the others. He reveals to her his feelings that Yukio is hiding something from him. Before they can really talk, though, they are discovered and the moment passes.

New Year’s Day. Bon helps his father prepare for the wedding ceremony. He asks him about Father Fujimoto, but before Tatsuma can respond, he is called away. Afterward, Bon is seated next to Yukio, during the ceremony. Yukio overheard Bon’s question, and wants to know what Lightning is investigating. Even as they speak, Lightning is making his move, but Bon tells Yukio he can’t reveal any information regarding the investigation. The situation threatens to boil over when Yukio threatens Bon with a gun, but everything ends up being put on hold when the Ex-wires are recalled to handle a dangerous situation—a Cyclops is loose in Ikebukuro Station!

There is a lot going on in this volume of Blue Exorcist, aside from the wedding and New Year’s and the baby. Yukio is trying to figure things out, such as why Father Fujimoto raised him and Rin, what is their mother’s story, and what do Bon and Lightning have to do with anything? Rin is trying to understand why Shiemi has chosen not to take the exorcist’s exam, although she assures him it isn’t because she is dying or moving or anything, but she can’t tell him the reason. She just can’t. We see Lightning in action and get a better feel for what he does. I have to say I’m liking him more than I did before. Shima is a hard person to get a handle on. As a double spy, it’s hard to say which is his true face, and which side is he truly on. Yukio reveals a surprising memory, which is a tender moment. I like seeing more of Shura as a little girl, it’s really cute.

On pins and needles now, waiting for the next volume!

 

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 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!