Tag Archives: Viz Media

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 3: Hero With a Guitar by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 3: Hero With a Guitar     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 16, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Kenji is baffled as to why the dying homeless man proclaimed him to be the one who has to save the world? Who is he but a lowly shop owner, and what can he do to save anyone when he’s clearly made a mess of his own life?

Things are starting to come back to him, though, as Kenji begins to connect the dots, as he realizes that what is happening mirrors the story he wrote so long ago, as a child. A tale told among friends about super heroes saving the world from a deadly menace. How can it be coming true now? And why?

Kenji tries to talk to each of his friends, but after they unload their tales of woe on him, he doesn’t have the heart to involve them in what is going on. In pursuing Donkey’s student, whom he is unable to find, he learns about a concert being given by The Friends, and his blood runs cold. He knows he has to be there, so tells his mother to watch Kanna and heads to the concert. There he ends up on stage and comes face to face with Friend. Well, relatively speaking, as Friend is hiding behind a mask. But his words are clear and strike distinct fear in Kenji.

Kenji almost forgets about his class reunion. Maybe he’ll recognize Friend among the attendees. Or at least gain some clues as to which kid wore a mask. But he doesn’t recognize a lot of his former classmates after so many years. Yukiji doesn’t make the reunion because she has to work at the airport. But someone else shows up who recognizes Kenji, and as they catch up, Kenji remembers things he’d forgotten, such as who the kid in the mask was, and what the next target in the story was. But can he stop the next disaster from taking place?

He has a sudden premonition that his niece Kanna is in trouble, and races to save her, but from what… or who…

Things are really happening in this volume of Twentieth Century Boys! When I read what Kenji learned at the Friend concert, I literally gasped! Imagine how he must feel, wondering if he is crazy or is there someone out there following the plot of a story written when Kenji was just a child? But if he’s right, and that’s what happening, then the fate of the world could very well be at stake.

This volume is action packed and exciting. I love the artwork a lot, as well as the story. Kenji is not your typical hero, in that he is an ordinary man with an ordinary job and an ordinary life, who thinks he’s accomplished nothing of note in that life. He fails to realize how special he really is, what a good man he is, but I have the feeling a lot of people will know about him before this tale is through.

Seeing Friend for the first time, albeit behind a mask, was very interesting, his surprise announcement even more so. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 22 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 22     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: February 5, 2008

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Ichigo’s dad’s secret is out in the open—he’s a former Soul Reaper! Whodathunkit? And he’s more than passing acquainted with sneaky old Kiskue. Apparently they are both aware of the existence of the Visoreds. Not only that, but Isshin predicted they would contact Ichigo, which they have. As Isshin describes them, the Visoreds are “a lawless gang of ex-Soul Reapers who tried to acquire hollow powers through forbidden methods.” He goes on to note the change in the Arrancars, which can probably be laid directly at the renegade Aizen’s feet, with the use of the stolen Hogyoku. That could become a distinct problem for all of them, especially the Soul Society. Prior to this, there was a limit to the Arrancars’ power, but now that Aizen plans to complete them, there could be hell to pay.

Dutch Boy has given Ichigo a lot to think about. Namely, that he is like the Visoreds in that he has a Hollow inside of him. One who is now making himself heard to Ichigo, which is a chilling thought. At the same time, Uryu is wrestling with his father’s offer—have his Quincy powers restored, but at the price of never involving himself with Soul Reapers again. What will he choose?

Dutch Boy is making no progress in his efforts to get Ichigo to join them. He is now attending Ichigo’s school, which Ichigo certainly doesn’t appreciate. Hiyori shows up after school to find out what the hold-up is, only to find that Dutch Boy has been followed by Orihime and Chad, who want to know what’s up and what do they want with Ichigo.

Two new Arrancars arrive on the scene—Ulquiorra and Yammy, sent by Aizen to find the person with the strongest spiritual pressure and kill him. The rest are nothing but ants, according to him, not worth their time. But when they attack Tatsuki, Orihime refuses to stay quiet and responds. With Orihime’s life in danger, can Ichigo be far behind?

Back in school doesn’t necessarily mean back to normal, as Ichigo discovers when some familiar figures appear unexpectedly in his classroom. What the heck is going on, and why are they there? And now why are they at his house?

Certainly an interesting volume of Bleach as the plot thickens. The appearance of Ulquiorra and Yammy can only mean that Aizen has begun hatching his dastardly plot, whatever that might be. And the appearance of the Soul Reapers can’t be a coincidence.  With Renji and Ikkaku around, you know there will be hijinx, and whatever they are, poor Captain Hitsugaya probably won’t like it.  The part with Keigo and Chizuru and their protectiveness of Orihime was hilarious, as was Keigo’s recipe—two parts ginger ale and one part calpico, which he says tastes just like hair tonic. Seriously, dude?

Ichigo has to come to terms with the fact that he has a Hollow inside of him. The question is can he control it or will it overwhelm him and make him into something horrible? I loved the scenes with Isshin and Kiskue. I don’t remember knowing this early in the anime about Isshin, so I like that. Karin realizes Ichigo is a Soul Reaper, although he has admitted nothing. At some point, he has to learn that playing the lone wolf, the brave knight who takes everything upon himself and requires no one else, is a stupid attitude to take, and he can and must rely on the help of others, especially his friends. He puts them in more danger by leaving them out of the loop than by including them.

I liked seeing Kiskue and Yoruichi. We don’t see them often enough, especially her. I already know Dutch Boy will grow on me, so will Alquiorra. Right now the latter is just an emo Goth Arrancar, and Yammy is a big strong dummy.

According to the preview, another team of Arrancars is on its way!  Can’t wait to see them too!

 

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 2 by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 2: The Prophet     

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: April 21, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

As children, Kenji and his friends were terrorized by Yanbo and Manbo, the “evilest twins in history”.  There was only one person who could put them in their place, a scrawny looking girl who would knock the stuffing out of the two boys. And they’ve just run into her at the airport, none other than Yukiji!  Apparently she’s a customs officer who has a dog for a partner. The boys are thrilled to see her, although she seems less enthusiastic about the chance meeting.

Two attorneys approach a man named Manjome Inshu regarding complaints from parents about their children being involved in an organization this man is part of. They want their children back. However, he is very evasive, and won’t give the name of the organization or of its leader, known simply as friend. Strangely, after Manjome’s departure, the attorneys notice something odd—all the spoons on the table are bent!

Yukiji shows up unexpectedly at Kenji’s convenience mart, and tells him she remembers the symbol they were asking about, and also who came up with it—their friend Otcho. When Kenji tries to question her, the franchise district manager chooses that unfortunate time to come in and demands Kenji’s time. She invites Kenji to the victims’ meeting, and he says he’ll try to make it.

Cho is a long-time policeman whose dedication to his job has caused problems in his personal life, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. He buys his grandson a Pikachu for his birthday, because apparently that’s what he wants and it’s all the rage.  Cho is investigating the disappearance of the Shikishima family. He runs into his colleague, Yama, who is working on the death of the professor’s student, but learns that the case was taken out of police hands. Cho is concerned about being late to his grandson’s party. His daughter, who hasn’t spoken to him in years, has personally invited him, so he can’t mess this up. He shares the details of his investigation with Yama before leaving for the party.

Kamisama is a homeless man who sometimes has nightmares. But his dreams aren’t like that of other people—his are often prescient. He shows up at Kenji’s store to check the stock prices and tells him things are going to get hard for him, but doesn’t explain why. Sometimes he tells his friends about his dreams, but this last one, he’s keeping that to himself.

While rooting around in his absent sister’s desk, Kenji finds a hidden envelope containing a strange message… and the same mysterious symbol he’s been asking about! He asks his mother about the symbol and it’s then he learns why his sister has always taken such good care of him, even before he was born. Which is why he won’t give up on raising her only child for anything. He also learns about the rich man who once courted her and what became of him.

Kamisama and his friends find an injured man in their midst. He won’t leave, no matter what they say, and insists on seeing the Great Kenji. Kamisama devises a plan to get Kenji to come to them. Hopefully he’ll understand what the man wants and will be able to do something about it.

Things are certainly getting strange and mysterious in this second volume of Twentieth Century Boys. Unexplained deaths are occurring, and we are getting more of a glimpse into the organization led by Friend. Not so friendly, are they? Is their leader one of Kenji’s old group of friends, who came up with the symbol originally, and had a plan to save the world… if only they could remember what that was. How will Kenji’s band figure into this? Could Friend be the missing Otcho, or did he disappear for a more sinister reason?

Also, am I wrong in thinking there’s an attraction between Kenji and Yukiji? If so, will they ever act on it? And who the heck is Kanna’s father? So many questions, so few answers. All we know for sure is the fate of the entire world depends on the answers!

Looking forward to volume 3!

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 21 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 21         

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 2 2007

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

In the aftermath of Aizen’s dramatic departure (as if his being there isn’t drama enough alone), the 4th Squad tends to the wounded, including the Ryoka. Captain Unohana is amazed to witness Orihime’s healing skills as she tends to Ichigo. Rukia is stricken at Byakuya’s injuries, sustained while protecting her. He calls her to his side, and proceeds to tell her truths he has previously withheld.

A week passes. Uryu has sewn new clothes for his group, so Orihime wishes to personally take the new dress to Rukia… but she can’t find her. She and Ichigo begin a frantic search, even as some of the captains and lieutenants (including Shunsui, of course lol), at Matsumoto’s suggestion, get down to some serious drinking. They invite Ichigo and Orihime, but they decline the invitation, being busy (and also being underage). Ichigo has an idea where Rukia is, and he turns out to be correct.

The time comes for Ichigo and the others to return to the Living World. They drop from the sky only to find a penitent Uruhara waiting for them. Ichigo lets Kiskue know what he thinks of what he did to them. Before he left the Seireitei, Captain Ukitake gave Ichigo something special, told him to hold onto because it would be useful in all kinds of situations.

Ichigo arrives home to find Kon lounging in his bed. He reclaims his body and tells Kon he’ll listen to his complaints the next day, all he wants to do now is rest. But that isn’t happening when his dad unexpectedly appears, ready to rumble.

Back to school for everyone, back to normalcy. Or is it? Ichigo is shocked when Tatsuki can see his deputy soul reaper badge. But he has no time to think about it, as they keep getting calls about Hollows. On top of that, there’s a new kid in class. His name is Shinji (but I’ll refer to him as Dutch Boy). He takes a seat near Ichigo and hopes they will become friends! That’s not creepy at all, is it?

When Ichigo leaves in the middle of the night on Reaper business, leaving Kon in his body, Kon decides to take the opportunity to kick up his heels a bit, but he gets more than he bargained for. Uryu, who is also out and about, encounters an unexpected blast from the past. And if that’s not enough, a Soul Reaper’s true identity is revealed!

So… Captain Aizen… huh. That happened. Who saw that coming? I sure didn’t. I remember watching the anime and boohooing over “poor Aizen”. And then he wasn’t dead and I texted my daughter, overjoyed, only to be confused the next moment when he stabbed poor Hinamori. (My daughter said she couldn’t wait for that to happen, knowing what she already knew that I didn’t.)  So Aizen, Gin, and Tosen have vamoosed, off to nefarious things no doubt. I don’t believe they specifically say what’s up in the manga, but I remember Aizen telling the Soul Society that his plan would take a year and then he’d be back. I guess that was their way of explaining why the story was about to veer off into filler arcs lol

His departure is almost an anti-climax, as its back to normal business. Well, as normal as Ichigo’s world ever gets. There does seem to be a lot of Hollows, wonder if that means anything? And now we have Dutch Boy in the picture (when you read this volume, you’ll know why I call him that lol). And then a couple of major revelations at the end of the book, keeping us in suspense, waiting for the next volume. Pretty heavy stuff going down. Plus the revelation from Byakuya at the beginning.  As usual, another great volume of Bleach. One reason I love the manga so much, even though I’ve seen the whole series, is that you do learn things that either aren’t mentioned or go by too fast to catch.

Looking forward to the next volume!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 20 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 20     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: August 7, 2007

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/232 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

When Matsumoto comes face to face with Kira, she learns what the power of his zanpaku-to, Wabisuke, really is.  Kira’s sword doubles the weight of anything it strikes, until the user cannot wield it and sinks to their knees, head in a penitent pose.  (Wabisuke means the Penitent One).

Hinamori is confused as to why Gin has brought her to the place where the 46 govern. But all is explained when she comes face-to-face with the last person she expected to see there. How can this possibly be? But the joyful reunion is brought to a sharp halt.

When Hitsugaya arrives, he too is thunderstruck to see the newcomer then chilled when he learns what has happened to Momo.  Battle is inevitable. It isn’t long before Unohana and Isane appear, having deduced this person’s whereabouts, and we learn what power he really possesses. One which has fooled many people for a long time. Except maybe Tosen, who is immune to it, being blind. Which means he has done what he did with knowing consent. Has everyone been subjected to this? Maybe the Ryoka are immune. Hopefully.

When the traitors disappear, Unohana deduces where they’ve gone and tells Isane to send a special message to all the captains and lieutenants, as well as the Ryoka, to assemble immediately… it’s an emergency!

The newcomer confronts Renji and Rukia and demands that Rukia be given to him. Naturally, Renji refuses. And just in the nick of time, Ichigo appears. More battle is inevitable, and along with it, much is learned, including the secret  of the object known as the Hogyaku. Where before, the object of the Thirteen Court squads was to defeat the Ryoka so that Rukia could be executed, now the common goal is to reclaim her from the newly revealed enemy in their midst.

There’s a lot going on in this volume, so put on your hip boots and wade into it. Don’t be surprised that things aren’t what they seem. You just can’t believe your eyes, apparently. And some people aren’t to be trusted. I think one character said it very well when he said, “Adoration is the state furthest from understanding.” I think that’s just another way of saying love is blind.

Lines will have to be redrawn, foes become enemies and enemies foes. Many things we’ve wondered about will become clearer, such as Kiskue’s place in the scheme of things, and a better understanding of Ichigo’s Hollowfication. The one thing that rather bugs me about this book is Rukia’s limp, wishy-washy attitude. Normally, she’s an in-your-face, don’t-mess-with-me kind of girl, but here she is almost a willing participant in what is going on to happen, as if she’s resigned to it or something. Maybe there’s a logical reason for this, but if there is, I don’t know what it is. Guess I’ll have to wait and see if she gets back the old Rukia spark.

Speaking of sparks, I suspect plenty will be flying in the next volume. Looking forward to it!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 19 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 19     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 5, 2007

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Soi Fon thinks she has the upper hand in her battle against Yoruichi, believing that her one-time commander has been sedentary for the past century. She is in for a rude awakening!

Ikkaku and Iba are drinking and arguing, as usual, when they speculate as to who Captain Kuchiki is fighting, up by the Sokyoku. Iba doesn’t recognize the spiritual pressure, but Ikkaku suspects it’s Ichigo, knowing how strong he is. And he is correct, for that battle is still being waged, even after Rukia has been safely removed from the playing field.

Ichigo is still pressing Kuchiki for an answer to why he is trying to kill his own sister. Byakuya is determined to crush Ichigo, confident that Ichigo can never hold his own against him. Seriously, even if he has to release his bankai, Ichigo can’t possibly do that…. can he?

Boy, does that arrogant s.o.b have another think coming…

Meanwhile, Uryu, Orihime, Chad, and Ganju are hastening toward the summit of the hill, not sure if that is where Ichigo is or not. Why is Ichigo still fighting, since Rukia has already been saved? Uryu explains “She won’t be safe until he’s broken the enemy completely.” Otherwise they will still try to execute her. Makes sense. But can he do it?

When the smoke of battle clears, who will be left standing?

Meanwhile, a horrific sight meets Hitsugaya and Matsumoto—the Council of 46 are all dead, murdered… and not recently. Who’s done this horrible thing? And since they were killed some time ago… who has been issuing orders in their name? Is someone trying to frame Hitsugaya for what has happened? Who would do such a thing… and why?

Just when you think the battle’s won, new battle lines are drawn, and new mysteries appear. I love watching them unfold, especially as I know what awaits in the next volume (one advantage of watching the anime first lol) In this volume, Byakuya is learning that Ichigo is more than he bargained for and not as easily dismissed as he might think.

I love Tite Kubo’s characterizations. His characters are definitely not one-note. There is no such thing as all good or all evil, there are many shades of gray. Not even Rukia’s brother is all bad, just has a mighty high opinion of himself. Even Ichigo has his dark side.

I love seeing the backstories of the characters. This time we got some insight into Soi Fon and  Yoruichi, the past shedding light on the present.

Looking forward to the next volume!

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 1: Friends by Naoki Urasawa

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 1: Friends

Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: February 17, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Mystery/Sci-fi/160 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Kenji once dreamed of being a hero and doing big things, but middle-age finds him the co-owner of a former liquor store, along with his mother. And he’s raising the niece his sister dumped off on them before she ran away to who knows where. He loves Kanna with all his heart and wouldn’t have it any other way. What do long ago foolish dreams matter in the face of reality?

Kenji is annoyed to learn the police are investigating the disappearance of the entire Shikishima family, mostly because they owe him money. Hopefully if the police stake out the place, they’ll want to buy snacks from his convenience store, he reasons. In the meantime, his childhood friend Keroyon, aka Froggie, is getting married. Whodathunk it? He did get his nickname for a reason, after all.  While retrieving empty bottles from the missing family’s home, Kenji finds a strange symbol  by the door. Something seems awfully familiar about that symbol, but he just can’t place it. Kenji quizzes some of his childhood friends about it, but no one remembers anything.

The morning paper brings horrible news. Another of his old friends, Donkey, a science teacher, has jumped from the roof of the high school where he taught… to his death. Kenji doesn’t think Donkey would ever do something like that. A strange boy they befriended long ago, he was particularly known for being a fast runner who told them that you can run faster with your shoes off. Kenji receives a letter from Donkey to him written just a few days previously, although he’d not talked to him in a good long while. The letter contains a drawing and asks if Kenji remembers this symbol… the same symbol Kenji’s been wondering about himself! Could it be a coincidence, or something much more? And Donkey ends with talk soon… does this sound like someone who’s about to kill himself?

Kenji talks to Donkey’s widow, and she mentions that her husband told her that one of his former students was in trouble, but she only remembered his first name and where he went to school.  Through good detective work, and a little luck, Kenji finds the student, who seems to be on his way somewhere. The man is secretive and mysterious and tells Kenji if he’s reached the symbol, he’s only one step away from true friendship. What the heck does that mean?

Kenji and some of his old group of friends meet to toast the late Donkey, and he continues to grill them about the symbol.  Still no one recalls anything. Until Mon-chan remembers that when they were young, they buried something, but can’t remember exactly what that was. Not sure if that means anything or not, they decide to hunt it down, which isn’t easy as much has changed over the years. They’re surprised to find… (no spoilers here, gotta read it)

This is the first volume in a series about a group of young men who did something that helped to save the world. Kenji is the main character, through whose eyes we see most of the action. The story takes place across different time frames, so we see what’s going on at different points in the boys’ lives, 1969, 1997, and the present. The first volume lays the groundwork for everything and asks questions which need to be answered. Such as who are the Twentieth Century Boys? What did they do? Who is Friend? Is he friend or foe? And is/was he one of them?

I like the writing (I’ll have to read Monster too, which is by the same author), as well as the artwork. Kenji is a good character, just a simple normal guy, living out his life, even if it wasn’t the one he dreamed of. He’s unwilling to accept the truth that appears to lie on the surface of things, and insists on delving further down, to clear Donkey’s name, and to solve the mystery of the symbol. All the characters are well-drawn, including the horrible twins whom they refer to as “the evilest twins in history.” I really enjoyed reading this, although sometimes I had to re-read to keep things clear in my head because of the time jumps. But in the end it all made sense, and I look forward to reading the next volume.

 

 

Book Review: Spy x Family, Vol 1 by Tatsuya Endo

Spy x Family, Vol 1     

Author: Tatsuya Endo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: June 2, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Action & Adventure/220 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Twilight is the best spy in Westalis, a master of disguise. He lives and works undercover in the neighboring country of Ostania. As he reads the information on his next assignment, he’s shocked to learn that he is required to have a wife and child (neither of which he currently has). The target in question, a very dangerous man who is a threat to the peace between east and west, is very reclusive and the only way to reach him is through the elite private school his son attends. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the deadline for admissions is fast approaching. Twilight only has a week to find a wife and child and enroll that child at Eden Academy!

Twilight’s first stop is an orphanage to find a child—a rather shady orphanage at best. But perhaps that will suit his purposes better. He has no experience with children, but reasons that he must find the smartest one he can, so the child can pass the entrance exam to the academy. He finds a girl working a crossword, but she seems too young for the school. She is quick to assure him she is six years old. Little does he realize that Anya is a telepath! Twilight chooses her and is relieved to find no paperwork involved—he is told to take her and go.

Now… to find a wife.

At City Hall, in the capital city of Berlint, Yor is different from the other women she works with. Quiet, and somewhat naïve, she is the object of constant criticism in the guise of helpful hints, such as improving her appearance so she can find a man. Her brother Yuri worries about her, and calls her often. To relieve his mind, she tells him she has a boyfriend and is going to a party that weekend. What no one knows is that Yor is actually an assassin, and a darn good one! But how is she going to find a “boyfriend” to take to a party on such short notice?

Three people are on a collision course with destiny! Each one has needs—Twilight a wife, Yor a boyfriend, and Anya a family. When chance—or is that Fate?—brings them together, they decide to form a family. Will they be able to fulfill Twilight’s mission and gain Anya admission into Eden Academy? And if they do, how long can they maintain their cover… and how long will they want to?

This is the first volume of the series. I confess that it was love at first sight when I saw the cover! And reading the description only made me want it even more. I pre-ordered the first three volumes, the first of which just came out. I love the artwork, and I love the premise of the story, which did not fail to deliver when it arrived. It’s an action adventure story, but there is a lot of humor in these pages as well, and more. The characters are all well drawn, even if the plot is rather basic. It’s not a series about spies as much as it is about people. I see the two countries involved, Westalis and Ostania, as thinly veiled disguises for East and West Germany. (I mean, come on, Berlint?) But that doesn’t really matter. The spy action is secondary to the character development, watching these three interact, each using their unique talents for the benefit of the other two.

Of course, being the romantic that I am, I’m hoping that by the end of the series, Twilight (whose real name I hope to learn) and Yor will fall in love for real and they both embrace Anya as their daughter, so that they become a real family. Only time will tell!

Also take note of Twilight’s co-worker, Franky, who is a hoot and lots of fun.

Great start to the series, looking forward to volume 2!

Book Review: The Way of the Househusband, Vol 3 by Kousuke Oono

The Way of the Househusband, Vol 3     

Author: Kousuke Oono

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: May 19, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Comedy/160 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 

Miku arrives home to find Tatsu in a panic and their home in disarray. When she questions him, Tatsu says it’s the black bullet, a hitman with a lot of balls. But he swears he’s not going down without a fight!

When Masa goes to the store with Tatsu, he’s surprised to see his former boss pa Christmasy apron and a Santa cap! Tatsu tells Masa it’s for the neighborhood kids club Christmas party. The kids are somewhat taken aback by Tatsu’s appearance. He certainly isn’t the traditional Santa they expected! Tatsu’s got it all covered, as he puts his own spin on the festivities!

Miku comes home from work, exhausted, to find that Tatsu intends to pamper her with a variety of foods calculated to give her the boost she needs. However, she questions his methods when he pulls out a blindfold. Will this have the effect he hopes it will?

Tatsu is looking to make some cash in a hurry. Something to utilize his particular skill set. Can he serve his customers to their satisfaction?

While browsing the clearance section of the grocery store, Tatsu runs across the wife of the Torii group, who apparently works there. She recognizes him and they catch up on old times.

While Miku and Tatsu are shopping together, Miku suddenly drags him off to show him that there is a live Policure show going on! When the call goes out to the audience for a volunteer to come to the rescue and afterwards have their picture taken with the members of the show, Miku is too shy to volunteer. What else can her loving husband do but offer to go in her stead?

Masa has acquired an item he isn’t sure how to handle, so he comes to Tatsu for advice. Together, can they figure out how to use a toaster oven?

Tatsu encounters his old boss, whom he hasn’t spoken with since he left the family. The boss has something he wants to discuss with Tatsu. Will he suck Tatsu back into the yakuza life?

Masa comes to Tatsu’s apartment, meeting Miku for the first time, in order to bring Tatsu’s birthday present. When he sees the state of the apartment, he offers to help Miku surprise Tatsu when he comes home later that evening. Together, will they make this an occasion to remember?

I am so in love with these books, and with Tatsu! I’ve already pre-ordered the next volume! Tatsu is so adorable! I love him and Miku together. I would love to see more of their past lives, and how they became a couple, see what changed Tatsu from yakuza to house-husband.

The story is very funny, and also touching. The artwork is fabulous, and the characters memorable. I’ve seen some reviewers call the series one-note. I prefer to think of it as variations on a theme, all of them good, and very much fun to read. I would love to see an anime made from this!

Can’t wait for the next volume, although I’ll have to. I think it comes out in September.  lol

 

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 18 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 18       

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: April 3, 2007

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The time has arrived for Rukia’s execution, the Sokyoku has been released and Rukia has been strapped to the scaffold. She awaits her fate with resignation, grateful to those who attempted to rescue her. The halberd assumes its true form as the firebird king, ready to impale Rukia and complete the sentence. Only a deus ex machina can save her now.

And here one is, in the person of Ichigo Kurosaki! And Ichigo is single-handedly holding back the firebird king itself!  How can that be? Instead of being grateful, Rukia calls him a fool and asks him why he came back, warning him Byakuya will surely kill him this time. Meanwhile, the spectators below are marveling at what has happened and wondering who in the world was able to do that.

Before the bird can strike a second time, which would surely be fatal to them both, Ukitake arrives, to Kyoraku’s relief, and proceeds to destroy the Sokyoku. At that, Ichigo destroys the scaffold and takes Rukia in hand. Can her rescue possibly be this easy?

Of course not.

Ichigo tosses Rukia down to Renji and tells him to take her to safety, as he turns to confront Byakuya. Sai Fon sends her people after those who are working to rescue Rukia, then finds herself facing a foe of her own—her former captain, Yoruichi! Ukitake and Kyoraku are about to attempt to talk to Sai Fon, but they are called to task by the Head-Captain himself, and have no choice but to face him down together!

This volume of Bleach is certainly not lacking in action. Everybody seems to be fighting against someone! And the lines between the good guys and the bad guys is most definitely blurred, as two captains—the first two captains to graduate from the Soul Reaper Academy—choose to do what they believe to be right, even if it means defying old man Yama.

Ichigo is his usual cocky self. Remember he’s only fifteen, and still believes himself invincible. But besides that, he has strong sense of honor, as well as a strong desire to protect his family and friends from harm. He won’t allow Rukia to give up, no matter what, a very admirable sentiment indeed. I don’t find manga-Rukia nearly as wishy-washy as I did anime-Rukia. Maybe that’s because we are more privy to her inner thoughts in the manga than in the anime.

I was especially thrilled to see so much of Shunsui in this volume, especially as he is so obviously on the side of right. He and Ukitake are such good friends and so very much in sync with one another. It’s very heart-warming. (On the other hand, although I write fanfiction, I have no desire to slash them, although I’m fairly sure that’s been done already. I don’t see either one of them as being gay, and they certainly aren’t written that way. I mean, have you ever watched Shunsui with the women? Seriously?) One thing about the manga that I love is that I sometimes end up having questions answered that bothered me from watching the anime. Such as what’s wrong with Ukitake. He’s always treated as if he’s fragile and might keel over at any moment. But common sense says that if he’s strong enough to become a Soul Reaper, he’s not a wilting flower either. Well, the answer is at the back of this volume, which has bios of both Ukitake and Shunsui. Apparently Ukitake has a lung ailment! That explains much and answers that question.

I like the little vignettes in between chapters involving those left behind in the World of the Living. Kon (in Ichigo’s body) has become involved in a soccer game with Jinta and Ururu and Karin, and notices that Jinta has his Kon body! The result is hilarious and is still ongoing.

I liked the scenes between Yoruichi and Sai Fon. I think you’d have to be pretty blind not to realize that Yoriuchi and Kiskue are a couple. But also, Sai Fon has a huge crush on Yoruichi, which probably contributes to her behavior at times.

With most of the strength of the Sereitei arrayed against them, can Ichigo and his friends pull off this daring rescue? Only time will tell. Looking forward to the next volume!