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Weekly Recon, 10/3/07

Posted by: Katherine Dacey on September 30, 2007 at 10:05 am

trampslikeus.jpegLooking over this week’s list, I had three thoughts:

1. That’s a lot of manga. (Seventy-seven new titles, to be exact.)

2. With such clever subtitles as Names, Gamers and the Long Road Trip and Walls, Brawls and the Great Rebellion, Zondervan’s Manga Bible adaptations seem squarely aimed at people who thought the Revised Standard Edition didn’t have enough high-speed camel chases.

3. Dragons are clearly having the Best Week Ever, as no less than four titles with the word “dragon” appear on the list: Dragon Drive, Vol. 4 (Viz), Dragon Eye, Vol. 2 (Del Rey), Dragon Head, Vol. 8 (Tokyopop), and Dragon Voice, Vol. 9 (Tokyopop). Alas, honest-to-goodness dragons only make an appearance in one of the four series. Trivia question: Which one is it? Bonus round: Which of the four titles is actually the story of a hard-working boy band?

If burning bushes and dragons don’t tempt you to part with your hard-earned dollars, there are plenty of other entertaining books to choose from. Two new series debut this week: Hikkatsu (Go! Comi), a cautionary tale about appliances run amok, and Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation (Viz; reviewed below), a spooky comedy about a Mutt-and-Jeff pair of ghost busters. Fans of gender-bending show biz comedies will want to pick up the eighth and final volume of Tenshi Ja Nai! (Go! Comi), the series that taught me how to embrace my inner fourteen-year-old and enjoy a wacky shojo romance every now and then. Other highlights of this week’s list include the fourth volume of the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (Dark Horse), the second volume of Le Chevalier d’Eon (Del Rey), the seventh volume of Nana (Viz), the thirteenth volume of Tramps Like Us (Tokyopop), the new edition of Uzumaki (Viz), and the tenth volume of xxxHolic (Del Rey). And if you’re leery of committing to another twenty- or thirty-volume series, you might want to look for Nabi the Prototype (Tokyopop), a collection of short stories from Yeon-Joon Kim, creator of Little Queens and Platina. Early reviews have been mixed, but it’s worth a look-see, if only for Kim’s elegant artwork.

Reviewed This Week:

Shipping This Week:

  • Ai Yori Aoshi, Vol. 17 (Tokyopop)
  • Aranzi Machine Gun, Vol. 3 (Vertical, Inc.; click here to read a review of volume 1)
  • Arcana, Vol. 6 (Tokyopop)
  • Archlord, Vol. 3 (Tokyopop)
  • Arm of Kannon, Vol. 9 (Tokyopop)
  • Art of Full Metal Alchemist, Vol. 2 (Viz)
  • Beet the Vandel Buster, Vol. 12 (Viz)
  • Berserk, Vol. 19 (Dark Horse)
  • Bird Kiss, Vol. 5 (Tokyopop)
  • Bleach, Vol. 21 (Viz)
  • Blood Sucker: Legend of Zipangu, Vol. 5 (Tokyopop)
  • Brave Story, Vol. 2 (Tokyopop; click here for a review of volume 1)
  • Buso Renkin, Vol. 8 (Viz)
  • Cantarella, Vol. 8 (Go! Comi)
  • Dragon Drive, Vol. 4 (Viz)
  • Dragon Eye, Vol. 2 (Del Rey)
  • Dragon Head, Vol. 8 (Tokyopop)
  • Dragon Voice, Vol. 9 (Tokyopop)
  • Drawing Manga (Harper Collins)
  • Eiken, Vol. 7 (Anime Works Publications)
  • Empowered, Vol. 2 (Dark Horse)
  • Eyeshield 21, Vol. 16 (Viz)
  • Gacha Gach The Next Revoluton, Vol. 4 (Del Rey)
  • Ghost Hunt, Vol. 9 (Del Rey)
  • Ghost in the Shell 1.5 Human Processor Error (Dark Horse)
  • Gold Digger Annual 2007 (Antarctic Press)
  • GTO Early Years Shonan Junai Gumi, Vol. 5 (Tokyopop)
  • Heaven Above Heaven, Vol. 6 (Tokyopop)
  • Hikkatsu, Vol. 1 (Go! Comi)
  • Hoshin Engi, Vol. 3 (Viz; click here for a review of volume 1)
  • Hyper Police, Vol. 10 (Tokyopop)
  • ID entity, Vol. 10 (Tokyopop)
  • InuYasha, Vol. 31 (Viz)
  • Jim Henson’s Return to Labyrinth, Vol. 2 (Tokyopop)
  • Judas, Vol. 4 (Tokyopop)
  • Junjo Romantica, Vol. 4 (BLU Manga)
  • Just My Luck (BLU Manga)
  • KageTora, Vol. 7 (Del Rey)
  • Kami-Kaze, Vol. 6 (Tokyopop)
  • Knights of the Zodiac, Vol. 21 (Viz)
  • Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Vol. 4 (Dark Horse)
  • La Corda d’Oro, Vol. 5 (Viz; click here for a review of volumes 1-4)
  • Le Chevalier d’Eon, Vol. 2 (Del Rey)
  • Liling Po, Vol. 7 (Tokyopop)
  • Magical X Miracle, Vol. 6 (Tokyopop)
  • Manga Bible Vol. 1: Names, Gamers and the Long Road Trip (Zondervan Publishing House)
  • Manga Bible Vol. 2: Walls, Brawls, and the Great Rebellion (Zondervan Publishing House)
  • MBQ, Vol. 3 (Tokyopop)
  • Metamo Kiss, Vol. 3 (Tokyopop)
  • Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation, Vol. 1 (Viz)
  • Murder Princess, Vol. 2 (Broccoli Books; click here for a review of volume 1)
  • My-HiME, Vol. 4 (Tokyopop; click here for a review of volume 1)
  • Nabi the Protoype (Tokyopop)
  • Nana, Vol. 7 (Viz)
  • Naruto Novel: Mission: Protect the Waterfall (Viz)
  • Neck and Neck, Vol. 7 (Tokyopop)
  • Newtype USA (October 2007)
  • Old Boy, Vol. 8 (Dark Horse)
  • Pastel, Vol. 8 (Del Rey)
  • Pirates vs. Ninjas II: Up the Ante, No. 3 (Antarctic Press)
  • Pixie Pop, Vol. 3 (Tokyopop)
  • Platinum Garden, Vol. 5 (Tokyopop)
  • Pretty Face, Vol. 2 (Viz; click here for a review of volume 1)
  • Reborn, Vol. 5 (Viz; click here for a review of volume 1)
  • School Rumble, Vol. 7 (Del Rey)
  • Sea Princess Azuri, Vol. 2 (Tokyopop)
  • Shonen Jump (November 2007)
  • Strawberry 100%, Vol. 2 (Viz)
  • Tail of the Moon, Vol. 7 (Viz)
  • Tarot Café, Vol. 6 (Tokyopop)
  • Tenshi Ja Nai!, Vol. 8 (Go! Comi)
  • Tramps Like Us, Vol. 13 (Tokyopop)
  • Ultra Cute, Vol. 8 (Tokyopop)
  • Uzumaki, Vol. 1 (Viz)
  • Wallflower, Vol. 13 (Del Rey)
  • Wild Adapter, Vol. 3 (Tokyopop)
  • xxxHolic, Vol. 10 (Del Rey)


Andromeda Stories, Vol. 1

Art by Keiko Takemiya, Story by Ryu Mitsuse
Vertical, Inc., 208 pp.
No rating (Brief sexual situation; violence)

andromeda_stories1.JPGKeiko Takemiya and Ryu Mitsuse invert the normal order of events in a classical drama and begin Andromeda Stories with a wedding. A royal wedding, to be exact, forging an alliance between two kingdoms on the planet Astria, Cosmoralia and Ayoyoda. On the eve of the ceremony, newlyweds Prince Ithaca and Princess Lilia spot a mysterious blue star pulsating in the night sky. Shortly after the star’s appearance, a meteorite crashes through Astria’s atmosphere with a deadly cargo: an army of nanobots seeking human hosts. Only Il, a fierce female warrior, and Prince Milan, Lilia’s devoted brother, realize that these insidious creatures are rapidly transforming Cosmoralia’s population into a Borg-like race of automatons. Il and Milan set out to liberate Cosmoralia from the grips of this cyber-invasion force before the contagion of violence and fear spreads to Ayoyoda.

One of the things I love most about Takemiya’s work is the way she freely commingles sci-fi and fantasy elements. Her characters carry swords and wear togas, live in castles with turrets, yet employ the kind of gadgetry—mind-reading computers, laser guns—that wouldn’t be out of place on the Death Star; Takemiya even incorporates sloe-eyed dinosaurs, trumpet-blowing angels, and unicorns into several scenes! (In her defense, I’d argue that the elegance of her character designs mitigates the impact of these more Disney-fied moments.) At times, the richness of her visual imagination camouflages the more pedestrian aspects of the story, such as its one-dimensional principals. Lilia, in particular, is the kind of beautiful, virtuous, and long-suffering creature that seems to exist only in old-school Disney movies. The final pages of volume one, however, hint that the story will evolve beyond its Star Trek-by-way-of-Anne McCaffrey premise into something that explores more profound questions of morality, identity, and sacrifice. I can’t wait to see what develops.

Volume one of Andromeda Stories is available now. Click here to read a brief excerpt.

Kat & Mouse, Vol. 3

Art by Frederica Manfredi, Story by Alex de Campi
Tokyopop, 96 pp.
Rating: All Ages

kat_mouse3.jpegKat & Mouse is a cheerful, slightly subversive series that dares to suggest that girls don’t just do well in science and math class—they enjoy it. In a nod to reality, the series’ protagonists are not cheerleading chemistry whizzes but a pair of spunky, slightly nerdy girls whose brains, decency, and limited financial resources make them a target for their rich classmates. When they aren’t trading one-liners with the school’s jocks and princesses, Kat and Mouse use their knowledge of physics and math to solve mysteries. Volume three finds our teenage sleuths facing two formidable enemies: Dover Academy’s very own Mean Girls and a mysterious jewel thief who strikes at a school dance.

To be sure, Kat & Mouse treads a well-worn YA path, borrowing liberally from the Carolyn Keene and Judy Blume playbooks. But Frederica Manfredi and Alex de Campi enliven some all-too-familiar scenes with punchy visuals and smart dialogue that never condescends to the reader. (Mouse, in particular, dishes out some great one-liners defending herself from bullies.) The science elements don’t always feel like an organic part of the story—in this volume, for example, Kat explains light waves to someone she’s tutoring, bringing the narrative to a screeching halt—but de Campi wins points for including an experiment at the end of each volume that reinforces the lesson du jour. Older tweens may find the story a little too tame and predictable for their tastes, but the eight-to-ten year old set will enjoy the series’ appealing mix of sass and science.

This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher. Volume three of Kat & Mouse is available now. To read excerpts from volume one, click here.

Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation, Vol. 1

By Yoshiyuki Nishi
Viz, 208 pp.
Rating: Teen

muhyo_roji.JPGStop me if you’ve heard this one before: a group of Japanese teenagers moonlight as exorcists-for-hire, helping troubled souls reach the afterlife. Given the sheer number of manga that fit this description, it’s a pleasant surprise to discover that Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation manages to be both funny and spooky while faithfully observing the genre’s conventions. Muhyo and Roji are a classic comedy duo: Muhyo—the brains of the operation—is a short, overbearing misanthrope who favors floor-length capes, while Roji—his apprentice—is a tall, cheerful ditz who talks too much and underestimates the risks associated with the job. The two combat the usual assortment of disgruntled dead schoolgirls, powerful demons, and possessed objects, invoking the power of magical law to dispatch spirits to the underworld. If the series’ get-gig, hunt-ghost set-up is strictly by the book, Yoshiyuki Nishi’s smashing artwork is not. His characters have wonderful, oddly shaped bodies that perfectly encapsulate their personalities. The disagreeable Muhyo, for example, has an oblong head, cat eyes, and a shock of hair that makes him resemble an onion or a turnip, while the aggrieved demons have huge, gaping mouths, extra limbs, and hides that cry out for exfoliating cream. Such visual details add considerable oomph to the proceedings, elevating the Bureau of Supernatural Investigation from standard shonen ghostbusting fare to great guilty pleasure.

Volume one of Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation will be available on October 2nd.

Tail of the Moon, Vol. 7

By Rinko Ueda
Viz, 208 pp.
Rating: Teen Plus

tailofthemoon.JPGUsagi has a problem: she’s a klutz. That might not sound like a devastating affliction, but Usagi’s great-grandfather expects her to join the family business—they’re ninjas—and marry Hanzo, an über-bishonen from an allied clan. Hanzo insists that Usagi complete her training before they wed, however, forcing the uncoordinated teen to confront her greatest weakness. After numerous chapters of pratfalls, kidnappings, and mixed signals, volume seven opens with Hanzo breaking off their long-standing engagement and sending Usagi back to her village. Adding insult to injury, Hanzo appears at Usagi’s doorstep shortly after their confrontation with an assignment: he and Usagi are to impersonate a married couple and infiltrate Oda Nobunaga’s court. If Usagi acquits herself decently, she’ll earn the credentials necessary to marry Hanzo; if not, the two risk exposure, execution, and escalation of long-simmering tensions between Nobunaga and the various clans who oppose him.

Tail of the Moon is certainly entertaining, but is so focused on romantic intrigue that the period details function as window dressing for a story that, with a few minor tweaks, might work equally well during the Meiji Restoration or modern-day Japan. None of the characters behave like denizens of the Warring States period. (A scene of a ninja tenderly murmuring, “Do you mind if I hold you?” to his paramour seemed particularly anachronistic and giggle-inducing.) Nor do the generic backgrounds convey a sense of time and place more specific than “many years ago.” I will concede, however, that Rinko Ueda excels at drawing male eye candy; her readers may feel a twinge of envy that Usagi commands so much attention from not one but three kimono-clad hotties.

This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher. Volume seven of Tail of the Moon will be available on October 7th.

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4 Responses to "Weekly Recon, 10/3/07"

1 | PhoenixfireV

October 1st, 2007 at 3:56 pm

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Hey, I’m only getting 11 titles out of that list. Can’t wait to hear what my husband has to say when this shipping come. :P

And to answer the dragon questions: 1) Dragon Drive has real dragons, 2) Dragon Voice is the boy band. :)

2 | Katherine Dacey-Tsuei

October 1st, 2007 at 4:54 pm

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Some weeks are like that! Thank goodness there aren’t any non-manga releases this week to tempt me to buy even more…

BTW, when are you going to review Dragon Voice?! It seems like a title in need of some help from articulate fans.

3 | PhoenixfireV

October 1st, 2007 at 5:53 pm

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I order all my comics and manga through previews, so I just have one monthly bill for books two months in advance. You probably don’t want to know how much I spent. I spend on manga like a lot of women spend on shoes and clothes. The only think I have to worry about are the titles I always seem to miss. I missed ordering Vampire Hunter D… :(

I actually have a fairly detailed review of Dragon Voice through volume 8, but it’s a full series review, and not by volume, so I haven’t really been sure where to post it….

4 | Mack

October 8th, 2007 at 6:45 pm

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I had read up to volume 7 of Dragon voice. I got tired of waiting on volume 8. So I stopped reading it. PhoenixfireV, please post your review and it may inspire me to start reading it again.



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