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30 Manga Minis, 6/21/10

By: 82 Michelle Smith 2 , 72 Connie C. 5 and 6d Sam Kusek 21

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It must be Monday, ‘cos we’re back with more minis! Connie gets us started with her review of the third volume of Alice in the Country of Hearts (TOKYOPOP) and also takes a look at the tenth and final volume of Hellsing (Dark Horse). Michelle is impressed by the debut volume of Maiden Rose (DMP), while Sam is grateful for some plot developments in the eleventh volume of Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning (Yen Press).


Alice in the Country of Hearts, Vol. 3

Story by Quinrose, Art by Soumei Hoshino
TOKYOPOP, 192 pp.
Rating: OT (16+)

The plot thickens as Alice begins to blend in more and more with the residents of her Wonderland. She becomes a regular assistant to the clockmaker Julius, Peter the White Rabbit begins to cool his amorous advances, and Alice and Blood Dupree have a conversation about where they stand with one another.

This series continues to defy every expectation I have for it. Even the characters begin pointing this out, as Blood’s conversation runs towards the topic of how Alice ought to be head-over-heels for him and stringing along all the characters that are in love with her, but isn’t. It also ought to be a harem series, but isn’t since Alice is too strong a character and the various suitors are just creepy. The strange mechanics of Wonderland and the “game” Alice is caught up in continue to be maddeningly elusive, and the tidbits we are offered once again in this volume point to it being a pretty complex and tantalizing mystery. There are strange quirks that keep coming up, too, like the fact that Peter can turn into an animal and might remain that way for some time to come.

It’s far better than it ought to be, and volume three continues the mystery of Wonderland and the strange hobbies all the characters keep as Alice becomes used to the way things work. This was more of a leveling off than exposition, but Alice in the Country of Hearts is currently one of my favorite TOKYOPOP series, and I’m very much looking forward to precisely where the story and characters are going to go.

Volume three of Alice in the Country of Hearts is available now.

–Reviewed by Connie C.


Hellsing, Vol. 10

By Kohta Hirano
Dark Horse, 192 pp.
Rating: 16+

In the final volume of Hellsing, nazi vampires and the Hellsing Organization clash one final time in the middle of what was once London, amidst the flaming wreckage of the nazi zepplin. The final three confrontations take place, Alucard is brought low, and the series comes to a conclusion.

What is there to say about this series? It is ridiculous, violent, over-the-top, and absolutely revels in its debauchery. The final fights that take place aren’t unexpected, since Seras is locked in battle with the werewolf at the end of volume nine and it’s obvious that Integra will face off against the Major. What isn’t so obvious is the true nature of the Major (you knew he wasn’t quite human all this time, but he kept his hand held close), and the ultimate fate of Alucard.

Alucard’s battle being a wildcard was a surprise to me, and it was nice to see that he didn’t just plow through everybody, but at the same time what happens is rather poorly explained and nonsensical. On the other hand, the fact that such a thing came from left field is totally in character for this story. The other thing that wound up being a little tedious was the Major’s tendency to launch into tirades about the philosophy of war, but he’s been doing that all the way through, and it made sense for him to have… such strong opinions about the things he’d done.

The epilogue was a little underwhelming, but then again, how does one tie up the loose ends in Hellsing? It was violent and action-packed in the most extreme way possible all the way through and quiet moments feel out of place. It revels in depravity and does it better and marginally more coherently than most other series that try it. It’s a true legend to the end.

Volume ten of Hellsing is available now.

–Reviewed by Connie C.


Maiden Rose, Vol. 1

By Fusanosuke Inariya
Digital Manga Publishing, 206 pp.
Rating: Mature

Taki Reizen and Claus von Wolfstadt should be enemies since their countries are at war. But a bond forged at school abroad leads Taki, a nobleman, to make Claus his knight, fighting by his side while Taki takes the role of division commander, marshalling his humble subjects as they seek to defend against the enemy’s advances. Many view Claus with suspicion, despite his apparent devotion to the commander, and are more apt to regard him as a “mad dog” and possible spy than as a trustworthy ally.

The two adjectives that best describe Maiden Rose are “promising” and “confusing.” For a boys’ love manga, this story is extremely complex, and features many character types and conflicts not traditionally seen in this genre. The character designs are also terrifically varied, from beautiful Taki to gruff Claus to the myriad middle-aged men who make up the rest of the division.

Confusing, though, is the exact nature of Taki and Claus’ (sexual) relationship. A flashback to their first encounter makes it clear that Taki wanted this, but now it seems like Taki is simply allowing himself to be violated by Claus after each battle. This makes for some disturbing scenes, but what’s good about Maiden Rose is that it doesn’t shirk from the consequences of Claus’ roughness. Too, Taki has enough depth as a character that one can read his passivity here as a desire to be punished for getting innocent people hurt; he’s commanding them because he must and it’s better than remaining ignorant while they die, but it’s definitely taking a toll on him.

So, yes, a very promising boys’ love manga indeed. It’s perhaps not for the faint of heart, but it’s definitely something different.

Volume one of Maiden Rose is available now.

–Reviewed by Michelle Smith


Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning, Vol. 11

By Kyo Shirodaira & Eita Mizuno
Yen Press, 208 pp.
Rating: Teen

It is always really nice to get the facts when you are reading a story and volume eleven of the Sprial: T 491 he Bonds of Reasoning is just that. The facts. After the battle with Kanon, Ayumu Narumi and the rest of the Blade Children are hospitalized, giving them time to mull over the attack. Being the proactive guy that he is, though, Ayumu seeks to find out what exactly caused this situation and what is going to happen in the future.

All I really have to say is thank god for this volume! It makes the story much more interesting, clearing up exactly who and what the Blade Children are and getting me reinvested in the series. Kyo Shirodaira paces the scores of information we receive wonderfully; the volume is never overloaded at any point and instead draws you in with great twists and turns in the writing.

The artwork hasn’t changed much, though, and could work better to suit the serious nature of the story. It just isn’t dynamic enough, underplaying what’s really trying to be said here.

Volume eleven of Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning is available now.

–Reviewed by Sam Kusek

Review copies provided by the publishers.

2 Responses to "Manga Minis, 6/21/10"

1 | Hellsing 10 « Slightly Biased Manga

June 27th, 2010 at 12:23 am

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[...] reviewed this for the weekly Manga Minis column at Manga Recon, but I also went a little overboard when writing this post here, so… [...]

2 | Alice in the Country of Hearts 3 « Slightly Biased Manga

June 27th, 2010 at 12:38 am

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[...] I wrote this volume up for the weekly Manga Minis column at Manga Recon, so you can check it out over there. [...]

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