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Frau Faust vol. 1 by Kore Yamazaki (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

November 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Another action-packed thirteenth volume of “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” as vampires from another region have come to confront Ferid but also Krul Tepes. Meanwhile, what secret is lurking within Yoichi? All this and more!

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© 2015 Kore Yamazaki. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Frau Faust vol. 1

STORY AND ART BY: Kore Yamazaki

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Kodansha

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Kodansha

RATED: 13+

RELEASE DATE: September 26, 2017


From the creator of The Ancient Magus’ Bride comes a supernatural action manga in the vein of Fullmetal Alchemist! With electrifying art and a gripping story, Frau Faust reimagines the protagonist of the classic tale who makes a deal with the devil as a tenacious female scholar.

More than a century after an eccentric scholar made an infamous deal with a devil, the story of Faust has passed into legend. However, the true Faust is not the stuffy, professorial man known in fairy tales, but a charismatic, bespectacled woman named Johanna Faust, who happens to still be alive. Searching for pieces of her long-lost demon, Johanna passes through a provincial town, where she saves a young boy named Marion from a criminal’s fate. In exchange, she asks a simple favor of Marion, but Marion soon finds himself intrigued by the peculiar Doctor Faust and joins her on her journey. Thus begins the strange and wonderful adventures of Frau Faust!


Back in the 1500’s, a German legend about a scholar named Faust who made a pact with the Devil remained pervasive for centuries to come.

Based on the Johann Georg Faust, an alchemist, astrologer and magician of the German Renaissance, decades after his death, books were written about Faust and because of the mystery if Faust really lived, when or how he died, the man’s name lives on.

The legend is as follows, Faust who was highly successful was dissatisfied with life and so he made a pact with the devil named Mephistopheles in exchange for his soul, he would have unlimited knowledge and pleasures.  The story was reworked by Goethe in the late 1700’s and “Faust” was made into a tragic play which would become Goethe’s magnum opus and the greatest work of German literature.

For mangaka Kore Yamazaki, the author is a big fan of mythology and would work on a manga series titled “Frau Faust” and in this story, making Faust a woman instead of a man.

The manga begins with a story of the legend of Faust being read by a woman named Johanna.  A storekeeper yells that a boy has stolen a book from him and he bumps into Johanna.

Johanna manages to save the boy from punishment but takes him to his mother.  As Johanna talks the boy named Marion, she learns that he was stealing the books that were originally his and was taken and sold by debt collectors.

Feeling bad for him, she offers to teach Marion.  But looking through his stack of books, he sees “The Life of Dr. Faust” and Johanna is shocked that the events of Faust were made into a book.

That night, as Johanna is searching for her dog, an inquisitor comes and impales her with a sword.  The inquisitor calls Johanna, Dr. Faust and that he smelled the scent of a demon on her.

As Marion is shocked that Johanna is Faust, she heals quickly and tells the inquisitor that her goal is to crush her demon.  But as mephisto shows up, he transports Johanna and Marion to another location.

About to wipe off Marion’s memories of finding out her true identity, he tells her that despite her being a monster or a cursed individual, he wants to learn from her and wants her to continue to be his teacher.

Which leads Faust to take Marion to her home with her loved one’s waiting for her.  But there are secrets surrounding the town she lives in, what is planted there and why people are getting sick or dying.

Meanwhile, the inquisitor manages to track the two down.  What will happen to both Faust and Marion?

Also, included is a second story titled “The Invisible Museum” about a teenage student named Asaki, and the director of the musuem wants her to find a butterfly that has escaped her box at the Invisible Museum.  But what happens when Asaki confronts it?


For the first volume of “Frau Faust”, it’s a very interesting story inspired by the German legend of Faust. As Kore Yamazaki is heavily into mythology and legends, writing about Faust and giving the character a different spin, by making her a female and also creating various other creations by her. Meanwhile, having Inquisitors that want her dead.

Johanna Faust is seeking missing parts of her demon and now she must go on a journey, a long with a boy who has a thirst for knowledge that wants to learn from her and help her with her mission.

Artwork by Kore Yamazaki is good and with open scenery full of detail.

The first volume is more character-building chapters and establishing Johanna Faust and Marion but also other characters close to Faust, but also showing how much her life is in difficult, considering her pact made with a demon to find his missing pieces of her demon.

So far, an entertaining story plus a secondary story titled “Imaginary Museum”. But both stories are interesting, very different from each other but a fresh unique spin on the German legend, Faust.

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KOEI TECMO America Announce Launch Date For DYNASTY WARRIORS 9

November 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Omega Force Invites Players Back to the Three Kingdoms with a Digital Deluxe Version And an Empire-Worthy Pre-Order Bonus
Burlingame, Calif. – November 16, 2017 – KOEI TECMO America eased fans’ anticipation today by announcing that Omega Force’s upcoming open-world epic, DYNASTY WARRIORS 9, will be released across the western regions on February 13, 2018 for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft, and Windows PC via Steam®. DYNASTY WARRIORS 9 will venture into new territory as the classic, time-tested “one versus thousands” action, iconic to the Warriors series, is expanded to its first true open world installment.
KOEI TECMO America has put together an exciting bundle of bonus content for gamers opting to pick up the physical or standard digital version. Comprised of seven costumes for fan-favorite characters, the bundle includes an imposing Beijing opera-style costume for Zhao Yun and six costumes inspired by traditional Chinese undergarment styles – one each for Guan Yinping, Diaochan, Sun Shangxiang, Lu Lingqi, Wang Yi, and Wang Yuanji.
Offering a first look at this exclusive bonus content – showcasing more returning characters, features and a brand new entry into the Dynasty Warriors roster, Xin Xianying – KOEI TECMO America has released a batch of new artwork, costume designs and screenshots.
About Dynasty Warriors 9
DYNASTY WARRIORS 9, is a brand-new installment in developer Omega Force’s acclaimed series of action titles. Unifying the classic, time-tested “one versus thousands” action iconic to the Warriors series with a variety of new features, characters and content in an expansive open world environment, DYNASTY WARRIORS 9 aims to deliver the most immersive and ambitious experience to date.
The game introduces exhilarating new combat mechanics with the State Combo System. This new system allows players to perform 3 different attack styles – Trigger Attacks, Flow Attacks and Finish Attacks – each dealing progressively more damage and aiming to create a thrilling and fluid experience unlike any previous entry in the franchise.
Closely following real historical events and figures, DYNASTY WARRIORS 9 will have players experiencing the story of the Three Kingdoms by completing key and secondary events over ten riveting chapters – beginning with the Yellow Turban Rebellion and through the ultimate unification of China.
For more information and to stay up-to-date on DYNASTY WARRIORS 9, please visit the official website at www.koeitecmoamerica.com/dw9, Like KOEI TECMO America on Facebook at www.facebook.com/koeitecmous and become part of the #KTfamily by following KOEI TECMO America on Twitter at @KoeiTecmoUS.
ABOUT KOEI TECMO AMERICA CORP.
KOEI TECMO AMERICA CORP. is a publisher of interactive entertainment software for current generation consoles, handhelds and digital download content based in Burlingame, California. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of KOEI TECMO HOLDINGS CO., LTD., headquartered in Yokohama, Japan. KOEI is best known for its Dynasty Warriors® and Samurai Warriors® franchises. TECMO is best known for the Dead or Alive®, Ninja Gaiden®, Tecmo Bowl®, and Fatal Frame® series.
©2017 KOEI TECMO GAMES CO., LTD. The KT logo is a registered trademark of KOEI TECMO HOLDINGS CO., LTD.
Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Xbox LIVE are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies.
“PlayStation” is a registered trademark of Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc.

 

Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign Vol. 13 (Story by Takaya Kagami, Art by Yamato Yamamoto, Storyboards by Daisuke Furuya) (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

November 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Another action-packed thirteenth volume of “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” as vampires from another region have come to confront Ferid but also Krul Tepes.  Meanwhile, what secret is lurking within Yoichi?  All this and more!

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© 2012 Takaya Kagami, Yamato Yamamoto, Daisuke Furuya. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign Vol. 13

STORY AND ART BY: Story by Takaya Kagami, Art by Yamato Yamamoto, Storyboards by Daisuke Furuya

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: SHUEISHA, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shonen Jump Manga

RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: November 7, 2017


Ferid has successfully coerced Shinoa Squad and Mika into joining him and Crowley on a field trip to Osaka. According to Ferid, the purpose of the trip is to see the truth behind the calamity that ended the word—ground zero of the apocalypse. But not all is as it seems, as vampire nobles from across the world are also converging on Osaka!


Ferid Bathroy and Crowley Eusford have coerced Shinoa Squad to come with them to Osaka.  As they go on a bathroom break, the group discusses their options and whether they have a chance to mount attack or go on with Ferid and Crowley’s plans.

Meanwhile, vampire queen Krul Tepes has been captured and hung up to try by Ferid and has not eaten and can turn into a demon, but what happens when someone from her past comes to visit her?

All this and more in the thirteenth volume of Takaya Kagami and Yamato Yamamoto’s “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign”!

What is “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” all about?

In 2012, mangaka Takaya Kagami (“The Legend of the Legendary Heroes”), artist Yamato Yamamoto (“Kure-nai”, “Denpa Tei na Kanojo”) and storyboard artist Daisuke Furuya teamed up to work on the dark fantasy manga series “Owari no Serafu”.

The series which has a total of six tankobon volumes released in Japan, has been released in the U.S. courtesy of Viz Media with the title “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign”.

“Seraph of the End” began with an introduction of how an unknown virus brought the world to a sudden end. Only children under 13-years-old survived and those children were enslaved by vampires.

The story introduces us to an impulsive boy named Yuichiro Hyakuya who wants nothing more but to kill vampires. But his friend Mikaela Hyakuya is a boy who is more levelheaded and tries to get his friend to think straight and know they are not powerful enough to defeat them.

For Yuichiro, he wants nothing more but his fellow friends to escape captivity from the underground city of Sanguinem and reach the outside.

And one day, all of them decide to make their escape…but will they be successful?

In volume 2, Yuichiro Hyakuya wants nothing more but to get his revenge on the vampires who killed his friends, especially his best friend, Mikaela Hyakuya, who sacrificed his life in order for Yuichiro to escape.

Fast forward years later and as Yuichiro is wanting to become a member of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, the army responsible for fighting against the vampires, he needs to learn discipline and train for combat. But first he must go through the various tests in school which include being friends with others and being a team player, all are hard for Yuichiro to try and do.

But now is his chance to pass the test to advance, but it means having to partner with another hot-headed teen like himself, who doesn’t mind getting into brawls…Kimizuki.

Will Yuichiro, Kimizuki and Yoichi be ready for their next test?

Meanwhile, what happened to Mikaela Hyakuya after Yuichiro escaped from the Vampire lair has been revealed!

In volume 3, as the team has trained and learned to work together, Yuichiro, Yoichi, Kimizuki and Shinoa Hiragi are assigned a new leader named Mitsuba Sangu. An impulsive girl who is also the rival of Shinoa.

As the team goes on their first major mission to fight vampires in Harajuku, will they be ready or will their impulsiveness get in the way?

In volume 4, the Japanese Imperial Army are fighting in a losing battle against the Vampire nobles, a group that includes Yuichiro’s childhood friend Mika, who was changed into a vampire on that fateful day.

As Yuichiro and friends come to join the Japanese Imperial Army on the front lines, Yuichiro comes into contact with Mika for the first time.

But with Mika now a vampire and Yuichiro a vampire hunter, what will happen when these two friends see each other for the very first time since they were separated?

In volume 5, learning that Mika is alive and has been transformed into a vampire, Yuichiro wants nothing more but to help save his friend. But still, he must go through a interview to find out what happened that day he confronted Mika and if he has the resolution to slaughter vampires. Also, factions within the Japanese Imperial Demon Army want Yuichiro to join their faction.

Meanwhile, Yuichiro and crew learn more about their abilities and whether they are possession or manifestation type.

In volume 6, Yuichiro still trying to learn more about his special abilities, must find a way to get his cursed gear Asumaru to work with him.

Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes, interesting partnerships or rivalries created within the ranks of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army and the vampires.

In volume 7, the Japanese Imperial Demon Army plans to launch a sneak attack on the vampire nobles and Yuichiro’s team must be ready to go into battle.

The problem is that they continue to work as individuals rather than a team and are not taking the attack as seriously as they should.

So, will they be ready to partake in this sneak attack?

In volume 8, the Japanese Imperial Demon Army goes on the offensive. And while Yuichiro’s team fared well, the other teams lost many of their soldiers in the war against the nobles.

But in order to make a strong statement of human vs. vampires, they must now launch a battle against the Thirteenth Progenitor vampire Crowley Eusford and nobles, Chess and Horn with whatever soldiers are remaining.

But will they be enough to defeat these powerful vampires?

In volume 9, Lt. Col. Guren Ichinose and Major General Shinya Hiragi were hoping to take down the powerful Thirteenth Progenitor vampire, Crowley Eusford and vampire nobles, Horn and Chess. But they never realized how powerful a vampire he truly is.

And now Guren and Shinya are on the losing end, can Yuichiro save Guren and what bond does Yuichiro have with Guren?

In volume 10, Lt. Col. Guren Ichinose and Major General Shinya Hiragi were hoping to take down the powerful Thirteenth Progenitor vampire, Crowley Eusford and vampire nobles, Horn and Chess. But didn’t realize how powerful he truly is and now Guren has been held captive.

Yuichiro and his team tried to pull off a rescue but Crowley, Horn and Chess showed their true power. In the process, the demon inside Yuichiro came out when he saw his team nearly being decimated.

Now, his family member turned vampire, Mikaela is determined to rescue him from the humans and vampires. But with the Japanese Imperial Army surrounding him, can he save Yuichiro?

And Mikaela reveals the truth of the “Seraph of the End”!

In volume 11, despite the revelation, Yuichiro wants to save Guren, as he feels that his humanity is still in tact. Meanwhile, Ferid Bathory and Crowley Eusford are up to something.

Yuichiro and his friends plus Mikaela must team up as the battle ahead will be deadly.

In volume 13, Ferid is up to something in Osaka and Yuichiro and friends are not sure what they should do.

Meanwhile, Lord Karr and 2nd Progenitor Urd Geales arrive to Japan, but what are their plans?  And more of Yoichi’s past is revealed and finds out that his sister’s killer is back.


As Yuichiro and friends are pretty much having to accompany Ferid and Crowley to Osaka, why does Ferid want them to come along?

Meanwhile, the captured Krul Tepes may turn into a demon if she doesn’t eat.  Why did Ferid capture her and leave her hanging to dry?  Meanwhile, Lord Karr and 2nd Progenitor Urd Geales arrives to see Krul but also to meet up with Ferid.

And what happens when Yuichiro sees his sister’s killer?  And what secrets does Yuichiro keep from his friends?

Featuring more characters and a storyline that gets even darker, an action-packed volume, the latest thirteenth volume of “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” is fantastic.

The storyline by Takaya Kagami is enjoyable, humorous and it has its dark, violent moments that easily drives up the ratings to “Older Teen” but for the most part, it’s not a horror manga series, nor is it too dark that it’s twisted or scary partly because of the comedy due to its hardheaded protagonist. The artwork by Yamato Yamamoto is well-done and characters are very expressive.

Another action-packed thirteenth volume of “Seraph of the End – Vampire Reign” as vampires from another region have come to confront Ferid but also Krul Tepes.  Meanwhile, what secret is lurking within Yoichi?  All this and more!

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Gangsta: Cursed. Ep_Marco Adriano vol. 3 – Story by KOHSKE, Art by Syuhei Kamo (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

November 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are reading KOHSKE’s “Gangsta.”, then “Gangsta: Cursed. Ep_Marco Adriano” vol. 3 is a no-brainer. Violent, action-packed and an origin story worth reading!

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Image courtesy of © GANGSTA. Kohske 2015. Syuhei Kamo 2015. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Gangsta: Cursed. Ep_Marco Adriano Vol. 2

STORY BY: KOHSKE

ART BY: Syuhei Kamo

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shinchosha Publishing Co.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Viz Signature

RATED: M for Mature

Available on October 10, 2017


After making the fateful decision to defy his fellow Hunters and save a young girl’s life, Spas finds himself caught between the worlds of the Normals and the Twilights. Branded a traitor by the Hunters, yet still considered an enemy by all the other factions, he’s on the run and desperately trying to find his way through the carnage and chaos that surround him.

In this spin-off series from the hit manga Gangsta, Gangsta Cursed, tells the backstory of Marco Adriano.


In the city of Ergastulum, the area is full of thieves, whores and murderers. And as for the police, they are corrupted and chaos is king.

This is the setting for the manga series known as “Gangsta.”, written and illustrated by female mangaka KOHSKE. And while KOHSKE is currently working on “Gangsta.”, the mangaka has given artist and assistant Syuhei Kamo a chance to work on a manga and that is to tell an origin story of Marco Adriano and his affiliation with the Hunters who hunt and murder Twilights.

But how did Marco Adriano (then known as “Spas”) become a high-ranking member of the Cristiano Family?  Why is he so powerful?  How did he get his scar?

So, many questions, but with vol. 3 of “Gangsta: Cursed.Ep_Marco Adriano”, we learn how Adriano decided to leave the Hunters.

What is “Gangsta.”?

“Gangsta.” begins with a prostitute being assaulted outside a building. Meanwhile, inside a building are two owners of the business known as “Handymen”, Nic and Worick, two men paid to take on assassination or difficult jobs that police or big business can’t handle.

As Nic and Worick are completing a job with the elder businesswoman inside the building, they see the beaten prostitute going inside the building.

The Handymen are then called for business with the police department and are sent to go after a gang leader named Barry Abbot (the man seen beating on the prostitute in the opening pages). Both Nick and Worick are hired by the inspector to eliminate him and his gang (including his prostitutes) as they are doing business in the restricted zone. They work out a deal that they can take whatever they can in return for killing them.

As Nic and Worick go after the gang and eliminated everyone including the gang leader known as Barry. They run into the prostitute and give her the opportunity to escape. But instead, the prostitute named Alex comes back and instead of killing her, they decide to take her (as in agreement with the inspector) and make her as part of the Handymen as one of their employees.

Meanwhile, as Alex continues to work for the Handymen, she tries to figure both Nic and Worick out. Is Nic an ex-mercenary, does he talk at all? Why does Worick wear an eyepatch?

One day, Alex sees a newspaper article about a massacre of the Arcangelo family 20-years-ago, all were killed except a 13-year-old boy who was 13 at the time. And the perpetrator, said to be a boy hired as a mercenary by the family. And Alex begins to wonder, can the two boys be Worick and Nic? Is Worick the missing boy that was never found?


With the release of “Gangsta: Cursed. Ep_Marco Adriano”, the past of Marco Adriano is fully explored.

Reminiscent of Frank Miller’s “Sin City”, where the world has gone corrupt and in the city of Ergastulum, a city overrun by thugs, gangs, mafia, whores and murderers, the police are just as bad and to make matters worse, Twilights, those with special powers are being massacred by a group known as the Destroyers.

Long ago, a massacre took place in Ergastalum and with “Gangsta: Cursed. Ep_Marco Adriano”, this series along with the current “Gangsta” manga series from KOHSKE helps build the storyline surrounding Marco Adriano and other families including characters but also how deadly his former teammates of the Hunters are.

With “Gangsta: Cursed. Ep_Marco Adriano”, this is a big reveal that Marco Adriano was once part of the Hunters and was involved with the massacre of Twilights, but the question is how he broke away from that group and who sent the Destroyers to massacre Twilights and how that massacre ended? But also, how did Marco and Worrick become partners?

These are all questions that “Gangsta: Cursed” will probably answer, as “Gangsta.” has a complex storyline that needs a lot of questions to be answered. And those answers are rooted in the past and so I like how this latest manga explores Marco Adriano and also other characters and their position way back then.

It’s important to note that this takes places when Marco and Connie were younger and before they were teenagers. How Marco was already a killing machine and how hostile Ergastalum was at the time and that same bloody situation in the past, has come to haunt everyone once again in the present (as featured in “Gangsta.” vol. 7).

With volume 3 of “Gangsta: Cursed. Ep_Marco Adriano”, Adriano (then known as Spas) has given members of the Cristiano Family a tip to rescue one of their own.  They are shocked that a Destroyer warned them and for Adriano, he starts to see the truth of his former teammates.

And as for the Destroyers, we get to see them in action, taking on the best of these gangster families and how cold and calculating they are, not caring who they kill, young or old, parents, babies, etc.

This is no doubt an action-packed, violence-ladened manga volume but the series goes to great length to show us how evil and f’d up the Hunters really are.

KOHSKE’s storyline and Syuhei Kamo’s artwork is well-done and Kamo compliments KOHSKE’s “Gangsta.” artwork, so there is no major change of how characters look, aside that they are much younger in this graphic novel.

Overall, if you are reading KOHSKE’s “Gangsta.”, then “Gangsta: Cursed. Ep_Marco Adriano” vol. 3 is a no-brainer. Violent, action-packed and an origin story worth reading!

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Press Q&A with animator and director Hiroshi Nagahama (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

November 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

In Japan, Hiroshi Nagahama is well-known for directing animated films such as “Mushishi”, “Detroit Metal City”, “The Flowers of Evil” and most recently for 2017, Nagahama directed “The Reflection”, which he co-created alongside with Stan Lee.

A hardcore comic book fan, Nagahama was a special guest at Sakura-Con in Seattle, Washington and J!-ENT’s Michelle Tymon participated in the press Q&A with animator/director Hiroshi Nagahama.


Press: I want to start off by asking about Flowers of Evil. You chose to do that in rotoscope, and I’m wondering how you managed to convince the producers and sponsors to let you do that.
Nagahama-san: Well… I was first approached with the idea of doing Flowers of Evil, by a producer named Nakanishi from King Records. He told me that they were looking to do an animated version. So rather than me trying to find someone to let me do it, it was actually a project that was offered to me. And at first, I actually declined. I read all of the manga, and it was extremely interesting, but I initially didn’t think this was something that the fans would enjoy in an animated format, so I declined at first. After that, he said that he would try a few other people, and that was that. But I think it was about a week later, and he said he really wanted to meet with me again. So we met again, and he told me that he had thought about it, but really wanted me to do it. He was kind enough to say that if they were going to make a animated version of this, that I was the only person he could think of to work on it. He then asked me what would it take for me to agree to work on this project. What would I need to make this happen. And so I told him that there was a way. He asked me what it was, and so I told him that it was rotoscope. I would film actual people in real life and incorporate that into the animation. If I was allowed to do that, this might be a weird way of saying it, but I thought I could translate everything the original work was trying to get across in animated form. And that’s how we moved forward with the project. So from the beginning, it was decided we were going to do rotoscope. Then I thought about everything I need to do to make this happen. Because we planned it from the beginning, we were very lucky and we never had an instance where we were in the middle of production and realized we were overbudget or anything like that.

J!-ENT: You had come to Seattle and Sakura-con previously, but has there been anything different on this occasion?
Nagahama-san: Well, I think this is one of the best things about Sakura-con… but it never changes. It’s almost astonishing. Nothing has really changed. The staff, the atmosphere of the convention, all of the fans that attend… From my first Sakura-con in 2002, the only things that have changed are the actual scale of the event and the number of attendees. Otherwise, I believe that the staff is able to achieve the kind of event that they are trying to achieve, and I believe the event is as polished as they are trying to make it.

Japan-A-Radio: From the last time you were at Sakura-con and this time, what has changed for you personally in the anime industry?
Nagahama-san: Let’s see… the biggest change is the fact that my project with Stan Lee is finally starting to take shape. When I was here last, this project was still in the planning stages and was something similar to say mist floating in the air. But now it’s finally starting to take a distinct shape and showing itself.

Press: Speaking of Stan Lee, I hear that you are a huge fan of American comics. What do you find so appealing about American comics and superheroes?
Nagahama-san: First, I was drawn to the art. I’ve mentioned this at Sakura-con a number of times before, but when I was a child, I wasn’t a very big fan of the SD art style that was used in Japanese animation. But all the kids around me seemed to love CoroCoro Comic, which serialized series like Doraemon. It was a kids’ comic magazine that all of the kids were reading. And then as you get older, you usually started reading Shonen Jump or Shonen Sunday. This path seemed like it was laid out for us by adults, and everyone just automatically read them. But something about that bothered me. Like the art in Doraemon… or say Ishinomori Shotaro-san’s drawings… I really liked the stories and thought that they were interesting, but I couldn’t help but wonder why the art had to look the way it did. I always couldn’t help but wonder about that. But of course there were more dramatic and serious anime and manga that had a more realistic art style, but it still wasn’t quite what I was looking for. And that’s when I discovered the Spider-man comics. They were translated into Japanese by a gentleman named Kosei Ono, who had also released translations of other American comics at the time as well. When I read that, I instantly thought that the art looked cool. They properly drew details like the nostrils and lips. They drew eyelashes, and even the tear ducts in the eyes. And even then, the female characters still looked cute and pretty and the men looked handsome and cool. As a child who loved drawing, this became my guiding principle. The art was the first thing to leave an impression on me, but eventually, so did the writing. I was a child who read manga in a rather strange way, but it seemed that my way of reading seemed to fit how American comics were drawn and written. With Japanese manga, you read in a structured, chronological format. So it’d go, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. And because of that, it’s expected that you buy volume one and start from there, or you wouldn’t be able to understand the story at all. But a lot of American comics continue for hundreds of issues, so most readers inevitably have to start with a random issue. They can’t always read from the part where Peter Parker gets bitten by the radioactive spider. There are some people who read from the part where Gwen Stacy is kidnapped, or some people whose first issue is when Doctor Octopus shows up. But when I was buying Japanese manga, I would always buy the ones with the cool-looking covers… ever since I was a child. And then if the story was actually interesting, I would start collecting from there and go back to volume one. And then I would actually understand the interactions and relationships between the characters and it was very interesting. I would wonder why two characters didn’t get along very well and then I’d find out they fought in volume one. That was all very interesting to me, and I thought that’s exactly how people read American comics. There’s a slightly difficult term in Japanese, “yotei chowa,” which means pre-established harmony. So things that have already been determined progress as they’re intended. You can predict what’s going to happen in the future. And for someone like me, who didn’t like doing everything that people expected, American comics were filled with unpredictability. So I just kept immersing myself into American comics. And the more I read, the more I found things that appealed to me, so I can endlessly talk about everything that interested me about American comics. And I’ll end this answer with the following statement, but there’s one other thing that I think is fascinating… I think it’s amazing and wonderful that a grandfather and grandchild can talk about and bond over the same character. It’s very rare for something like that to be able to happen in Japan. For example, there’s Sazae-san, and also Doraemon, and Chibi Maruko-chan. But all of these long-running Japanese manga series never have any dramatic changes happen. Sazae-san doesn’t get a divorce, Doraemon doesn’t stop functioning suddenly. There are dramatic things that happen in the series, but they’re usually resolved in an episode or two like Doraemon turning red. But nothing happens in the story that changes the course of the series forever. However, that happens in American comics and so the grandfather and grandchild can have conversations about it. The Angel from X-Men that the grandfather would probably know is the one with white angel wings. But the grandchild would probably go, “Wait, no. He has metallic wings and is called Archangel.” And then the grandfather can be shocked and ask his grandchild when Angel’s wings became metallic. I think it’s wonderful that a grandfather and grandchild can have conversations like this. It’s my hope that I’m able to make stories that are that compelling myself.

J!-ENT: This is going to be another question about American comics, but I was wondering if you’ve seen the Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, Netflix series and what your thoughts on them that are.
Nagahama-san: Of course! I’ve seen all of them!
J!-ENT: Also, The Defenders is coming out soon so I was wondering about what you thought about that. And if there were any changes you could make to any of the series, what would it be?
Nagahama-san: My thoughts on these series… is that they are wonderful. I never thought I’d be able to experience something so wonderful while I was still alive. When Sam Raimi directed the Spider-man movie, I thought I could die happily. I was able to watch such a wonderful Spider-man movie while I was still alive. I was able to watch the real Spider-man on the big screen. But now, it’s just been one record-breaking experience after another for me. Like this series? Wait, Doctor Strange, too? I was like, there’s no way that people would watch a Guardians of the Galaxy movie with those ridiculous characters! It’s just been one pleasant surprise after another. And out of all of the heroes, Daredevil has always been one of my all-time favorite characters. Daredevil is very bloody. He has a lot of limits. He can’t fly, he can’t see, and has various other limitations. On top of that, he’s a lawyer. As someone has who has to deal with the law, his heart is also bound. He can’t do whatever he wants to all of the villains in court. I think it’s absolutely amazing that they were able to make an entertaining TV series about someone who is so limited and so human. It makes me very happy. In addition, the Guardians of the Galaxy that I knew was from a very long time ago where it was Yondu, the blue guy with the red mohawk, and some other weird characters that were not in the movie flying around the ends of Space, and it was extremely bizarre. The Guardians of the Galaxy now is completely different. In the comics, Yondu came from a different world. He happens upon this team of scoundrels and tells them that they can use the team name “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which was the name his old team had used. So it was a completely different team. And I was still reading that slightly lamer version of the comic a long time ago. So when I heard that it was going to be made into a movie, I was very amused and couldn’t fathom how they were going to do it. And when I saw the movie and Yondu, I realized he was on the old team, and was very excited about the whole thing. As for the Netflix series, I like all of them so far. Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist are all great. But if I had the choice, there’d just be one thing I’d like to change… I’d like for them to show Daredevil’s nose. In the Netflix version, his mask sort of makes him look like Batman. His nose is guarded, and I think it’s great that his face is being protected… But no matter how I look at it, he sort of looks like a version of Batman where a lot of things are just smaller. His horns are smaller, and the point on his nose is smaller. If his face was showing a little more, it’d be absolutely perfect. And that’s why I absolutely love the design they used for Daredevil in the Daredevil movie with Ben Affleck, where it was all leather. I thought that the design for his costume used in that movie respected the original design of his costume from the comics to the utmost level.

Japan-A-Radio: With the upcoming release of The Reflection, are there any details that you can reveal currently? What can the fans look forward to?
Studio Deen rep: I can touch upon the broadcast details. I’m from Studio Deen, which is producing that anime. The Reflection will start broadcast in July of 2017 on NHK in Japan on Saturday at 11 PM. I believe that Crunchyroll has already announced it at this event, but they will also be simulcasting this title this title in the US and North America. I’m not sure of the exact time it’ll be available in the US, but I believe it’ll probably be around two hours after it has aired in Japan.
Nagahama-san: The Reflection… What can the fans look forward to and expect? Let’s see… I’m not sure what I can say. It’s an original story that I created with Stan Lee. Even if some of the characters may look familiar or if the premise may be something you might’ve heard of before, I still believe that it will feel like something completely different. This is slightly difficult to explain but… This time, we’re only using part of the whole story. The world of The Reflection is very vast. Just like Stan created the Marvel Universe, Stan and I sort of created our own Stan Lee universe, where we created various heroes and villains within this universe. It’s also set up where we can have various stories from this universe. So I want fans to watch the series and know this isn’t the last time they’re going to be seeing something from this universe. After this story, another story with this villain might start next. They barely touched upon that one hero, but I wonder why they were like that? Why were they dressed like that? Those might all get answered in the future. Just as I mentioned earlier, this is very close to how American comics are read. With The Reflection, I want people to think it was like they happened to grab issue 112 of The Reflection when they’re watching it. And starting from that volume, there’s going to be once incident that starts and comes to a conclusion within twelve issues. So I’m hoping that I’ll be able to show the audience the continuing story, or a different part of the story later on. There’s one other thing that I think that the fans can look forward to, so I hope you’ll let me share that. There will be characters in this series that are pretty symbolic to this universe. The idol group 9nine, who sing the ending theme, will show up as superheroes in the show. I think it’ll be fun to see when they might actually show up in the series and what kind of costumes they’ll be wearing. They will actually be wearing costumes and fighting in the series. I was very careful about when and where to use them in the series. The concept behind their characters is the Japanese ideal for superheroes. They look like what Japanese people would think of when they think of what heroes look like. That’s what 9nine will look like in the show. As for the rest of the characters, they all look like they came out of American comics because I enjoy American comics so much. They were all designed with that in mind and while discussing how they should look with Stan. With 9nine, I didn’t really talk to Stan about them. Since they’re Japanese characters, he told me that I could do whatever I’d like with them, and let me bring up the concept behind them. So I think that they can give a special perspective within The Reflection. As for the art style of The Reflection, it’s made to look more like American comics.

Press: You have done a lot of work with the director Akitaro Daichi. What did you learn from him and does he mean to you?
Nagahama-san: Mr. Daichi was someone I had met after being in this business for a while. So instead of him teaching me various things, I’d say that he validified things for me. He would tell me that my way of doing things was fine. If I ever had any doubts about what I was doing, he was the person to tell me that I was fine with how I was doing things. He would give me courage. Also, rather than using words, he would physically show me. He’s always been very supportive of me and is very important to me because of how he’s helped me to develop. Just to add on one last thing, Mr. Daichi said something to me that I will never forget. He told me that there’s really nothing holding me back. If I feel like I should do something, then I should do it because I can do anything. He told me that I was the only person putting restrictions on myself, so if I free myself of them, I can do whatever I want… That there’s nothing that I’m not allowed to do. I think those words still affect me greatly.

Interpreter: There’s actually one question I’d like to ask really quickly if I may. So in American comics, they quite often retcon things that happen. What do you think about that? In Japanese comics, once something happens, it doesn’t really ever get retconned. In a way, this is a freedom that only exists in American comics.
Nagahama-san: That actually might be one of the reason that I don’t really like DC superheroes as much. That happened a lot to DC superheroes ever since I can remember. Superman couldn’t fly at first, and Krypton kept changing over and over. Because of all of the changes, I didn’t know what was true or not anymore in those comics. But in the Marvel Universe that Stan created, there wasn’t as much wavering. The settings for Spider-man haven’t changed much at all from the beginning. And recently, they finally did start changing some things and some characters did come back from the dead. But for decades, they actually stayed dead and there wasn’t much wavering overall. My favorite era of Marvel comics is the Silver Age, where when something happened, it didn’t get retconned. For example, the Green Goblin was dead for a long time before he was finally brought back. I actually liked that era when something happened, it didn’t get retconned. So when asked if I can relate to doing retcons, to be honest, I can’t. But these things really never happened with the characters that I really liked. I definitely have no plans on doing something like that in The Reflection. If I was going to do something like that though, I’d like to do something like Age of Apocalypse where the whole world gets flipped around. Age of Apocalypse was an absolutely amazing crossover. So unless it’s something that drastic, I don’t think I’ll ever do it.

Final thoughts: Final thoughts?
Nagahama-san: From me? I can’t help but feel like I might’ve talked a bit too much about the American comics that I love so much, but I’m very thankful that all of you were here to listen and that I’m in this situation where I can talk about all of this. I feel blessed that I was able to come back to Sakura-con again, and that I was able to walk through the streets of Seattle again. This is definitely a unique experience, and I feel very special to be a part of it. So when I get back to Japan, I know I have to go back to work on The Reflection. And when I think about that, there’s a part of me that can’t help but feel like I want to stay in Seattle a little longer.


 

 

Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt vol. 5 – Story and Art by Yasuo Ohtagaki (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

November 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Prepare for a new threat to both Federation and also Zeon…the Nanyang Alliance and also the debut of Io Fleming’s new Gundam, the Atlas Gundam in vol. 5 of “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt”.

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© 2012 by Yasuo Ohtagaki. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt Vol. 5

STORY AND ART BY: Yasuo Ohtagaki

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shogakukan

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Signature

RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: November 21, 2017


On Earth, political turmoil has led the Nanyang Alliance to challenge Federation control. Now in possession of Zeon’s priceless Reuse P Device technology, the Alliance moves forward with its plans. If they can develop the stolen tech, it could make them invincible. Both Io Fleming and Daryl Lorenz begin new operations against the Alliance on dangerous missions that are sure to bring them face-to-face once again…


Over a year later, after the Federation and Zeon signed an armistice, the Nanyang Alliance is challenging the peace, considering they have stolen Zeon’s Reuse P Device technology and are now utilizing the technology to become the new invincible force.

As Daryl Lorenz team confront the Nanyang Alliance and engage in a fierce firefight, the Principality of Zeon has a group wanting to secretly work on a suicide mission to destroy what appears to be a newly built Pegasus-Class Federation Battleship.

But the Federation has a secret that will now be unveiled…a new Gundam known as the Atlas Gundam piloted by Io Fleming.

Also, include is the “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt Side Story – Sean: The Desert Rat” featuring a story about black market merchants scrounging for salvage of wrecked mobile suits and weapons in the desert.  The Desert Rats and Zaku Pilot Rusty find an MS unit but also vying to salvage is the Desert Hawk Brigade.

What is “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt” about?

Back in 2012, mangaka Yasuo Ohtagaki wrote and illustrated the manga “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt”.

With eight volumes published, the series would receive a 4-episode ONA anime adaptation and a second season is slated for adaptation.

The manga is set during the One Year War (U.C. 0079) and the Earth Federation’s Brotherhood and the Principality of Zeon’s Living Dead Division are in battle in the Thunderbolt Section, a zone that is littered with debris from the destruction of space colonies and because the area has numerous electrical discharging.

Fighting for the Earth Federation is Ace pilot, Io Fleming and for the Principality of Zeon, Zeon’s best sniper, Daryl Lorenz is focused on killing Fleming.

As Io won the first meeting between the two, this time around, both the Federation and Zeon plan to escalate the battle as the Federation plans to send the Gundam in one more time to finish the job, but leading the Gundam are young recruits. Meanwhile, Zeon follows Daryl Lorenz piloting the new Psycho Zaku.

And with a sneak attack, they are able to decimate the Federation. With only a few survivors of the Federation, what happens when Earth Federation’s Moore Brotherhood enters a Zeon ship?

Also, the Federation’s Io Fleming and his Gundam takes on Zeon’s Daryl Lorenz and his new Psycho Zaku for control of the Thunderbolt Sector and significant losses are taken in by both sides, until Federation forces come to back the decimated group, thus capturing Zaku technology, while Lorenz and other remnants manage to hide on Earth.

But a new faction has showed up and manages to secure technology that can prove to be dangerous against the Federation and Zeon. How will both sides deal with this issue?

And a year later, what is on the mind of Io Fleming and Daryl Lorenz? Will these two meet in battle once again?


When it comes to the Universal Century Gundam stories, they are my favorite. And while many of us have been entertained by stories involving Amuro Ray, there have been a variety of stories that have taken place in the Universal Century, some more deeper than the others and others just focusing on the action.

“Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt” may seem like the latter because of the action focusing on Earth Federation vs. the Principality of Zeon but once the manga goes into character development, the storyline focuses on how people are growing tired of the war. People sick of seeing deaths of friends and loved ones.

The first few volumes focused on Io Fleming and Daryl Lorenz, two outstanding pilots on opposite sides.

Io Fleming is a man born from a wealthy family and he and his friends are thrusted into war. Fleming is secretly dating Captain Claudia Peer, a captain who is sick and tired of war and that the Earth Federation keeps sending teenage pilots as reinforcements and always depressed and tense when Fleming, the Beehive’s best pilot goes to fight against the Principality of Zeon. Along with Fleming and another childhood friend, engineer Cornelius Kaka, all three were born in privilege and are now assigned to the Beehive.

Fleming is an excellent pilot and surprises the Principality of Zeon when he shows up and takes many of them out with his Gundam and always playing his jazz music through a pilot radio station.

Meanwhile, on the opposite end are the Living Dead Division of the Principality of Zeon. A group that is put together of people who have been significantly injured or maimed and are still fighting with prosthetics.

Their best fighter, Zeon Chief Petty Officer Daryl Lorenz, is an excellent sniper and wants revenge against Fleming for killing his teammates. He has lost his legs in battle and carries a retro-style radio that he listens to in battle.

The fifth volume takes place after the One Year War with an armistice between both the Federation and Zeon and now a new threat, the Nanyang Alliance who have stole Zeon technology that could literally make them invincible.

As, Daryl Lorenz and his Psycho Zaku receive a major upgrade, so has Io Fleming with his Atlas Gundam.

And this issue, we get to see both Io and Daryl in action once again!  So, there is no doubt we may see these two face off each other but for now, there are other pressing matters primarily the threat of the Nanyang Alliance but also rogue Zeon who do not intend to follow the armistice.

The character designs, artwork and storyline by Yasuo Ohtagaki are wonderful and I really like how the emotion of the characters are depicted. The story has been action-driven, detail of the artwork has been excellent and for mecha fans, “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt” vol. 5 show the growing threat of the Nanyang Alliance but also showcasing Io Fleming’s new Gundam, the Atlas Gundam.

Vol. 5 also features a lengthy side story titled “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt Side Story – Sean: The Desert Rat” about black market desert merchant salvagers and if you thought things were dangerous in space, things are just as deadly in the desert.

Overall, a fantastic volume of “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt”!

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Terra Formars Vol. 19 (Story by Yu Sasuga, Art by Ken-Ichi Tachibana) (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

November 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

What are the true plans of the Terraformars on Earth? And how will the Invoker and China respond to Team Japan and USA’s infiltration of the facility?  Find out in an action-packed Vol. 19 of “Terra Formars”!

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Image courtesy of © 2011 by Ken-Ichi Tachibana, Yu Sasuga/SHUEISHA Inc. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Terra Formars Vol. 19

STORY BY: Yu Sasuga

ART BY: Ken-Ichi Tachibana

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shueisha, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC

RATED: T for Older Teen

Available on October 17, 2017


Shocked by the actions of the Terraformars hiding on Earth, Akari and the members of Ichi Security are more determined than ever to root them out. Tracking down leads points them to an unexpected hideout and the true identity of the enemy mastermind. The forces opposing them now may be more than they can handle on their own…


The Terra Formars are on Earth and they are experimenting on humans and now the humans are going to fight back by infiltrating their facility somewhere in the East China Sea.

Recruited by the government is Joichi Hongo, Akari Hazamaru, Kyo Hyuga and Kanako Sanjo, their goal, to find, seize and capture the long time Terra Formar who has been on Earth for at least 20 years, known as the Invoker but to also free the missing Japanese who have been taken.

All this and more in vol. 19 of “Terra Formars”!

What is “Terra Formars”?

In 2011, writer Yu Sasuga and artist Kenichi Tachibana would create “Terra Formars”, a manga series that would become a major hit in Japan.

First serialized in Shueisha’s “Weekly Young Jump” and an OVA and anime series slated later this year, “Terra Formars” was ranked #1 in the 2013 “Kono Manga ga Sugoi!” top 20 Manga for Male Readers survey.

With nine tankobon volumes published in Japan, “Terra Formars” vol. 1 will be released in the United States in July 2014 courtesy of Viz Media (on the Viz Signature imprint).

With Earth looking to colonize Mars which is undergoing its final stages of Terraforming and now becoming a green planet, a group of 15 men and women have been sent to Mars to check on the Terraformation of the planet.

Meanwhile, on Earth, the planet is falling into ruin due to environmental destruction and energy shortages, so Mars has been the focus by scientists.

Scientists have used moss and a black organism to darken the surface of the planet and causing it to absorb more sunlight, increase temperatures and melting the carbon dioxide.

The black organism used by scientists were cockroaches.

As the 15 men and women of BUGS 2 arrive on the planet on their mission to evaluate the planet but also to find out what happened to the first crew (BUGS 1) that landed on the planet.

The team discover that the Terraforming has succeeded but to their shock, the cockroaches have mutated with human bodies.

As the Japanese members, Shokichi Komachi and his childhood friend Nanao Akita try to make contact with one of the beings, the humanoid cockroach snaps Nanao’s neck.

And now the humans have become the hunted.

Because the cockroaches exhibit all abilities of a cockroach, it was learned that scientists embedded human DNA in them and their mutation has made them beings that would not just survive in Mars but also exhibiting human characteristics and a hatred towards humanity (as humanity has had a hatred towards cockroaches).

But humanity also has found a way for humans to counteract the cockroaches by using injections of insects on humans that will briefly give them insect powers. But is it enough for the humans to survive in Mars as they are now considered the pests for the planet in which the humanoid cockroaches are the primary species?

In volume 18, Akari Hizamaru and others are working for Ichi Security Co., Ltd. Their primary duty, to eradicate the Terraformars on Earth. The technology is able to read bit frames from the brains of the Terraformars who were killed but it is grave importance to find their hideout.

When Akari visits a sewer area in Sumida Ward, what will he discover?


As the story now focuses on familiar faces, a group consisting of Joichi Hongo, Akari Hazamaru, Kyo Hyuga and Kanako Sanjo formed by the Japanese government to free the Japanese being held against their will and are being experimented by a Terra Formar known as the Invoker.

And just when things are looking bad for the Japanese team, out of nowhere comes some extra help from the Americans, featuring Michelle K. Davis, the commander of Team 4 of the American Space Force called the Spacials.

And after feeling a bit down on the last few volumes as it really deviated from the story that we have been enjoying all this time, seeing the teams fighting against all odds on Mars, with issue #19, Japan and USA, specifically Akari and Michelle are back together again and what an exciting volume this turned out to be!

Not only do we get to see familiar faces from the Japan side but also the US side and to see once again, China and another group/individuals as the primary antagonists.

It does get a bit chaotic with this final issue and with so many people back together, some may get confused with all these characters showing up.  But hopefully we see how these character dynamics play out for issue 20.

The artwork by Ken-Ichi Tachibana is magnificent. Characters are well-detailed, artwork is just pleasing and the action is well-featured. And of course, the writing and research done by Yu Sasuga has really made “Terraformars” an exciting series.  Granted, when the series abruptly changed from Mars to Earth, that was probably the series major downpoint as getting readers to go fastforward was not an easy task and rightfully upset many fans of the series.  But with this issue, you see a glimpse of promise now that characters from that second Mars mission who survived from both Japan and USA are together again!

What are the true plans of the Terraformars on Earth? And how will the Invoker and China respond to Team Japan and USA’s infiltration of the facility?  Find out in an action-packed Vol. 19 of “Terra Formars”!

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Nisekoi: False Love Vol. 24 by Naoshi Komi (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

November 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Vol. 24 of “Nisekoi: False Love” finally gets to the final two girls in Raku’s life, but one can truly win his heart.  Who will he pick?  And what happens when Chitoge and Onodera realize they are both in love with Raku? Recommended!

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© 2011 Naoshi Komi. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Nisekoi: False Love Vol. 24

STORY AND ART BY: Naoshi Komi (古味直志)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: SHUEISHA, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shonen Jump Manga

RATED: T for Teen

RELEASE DATE: November 7, 2017


A meteor shower that comes only once in 50 years is said to bring lovers together, so both Chitoge and Kosaki want to declare their love to Raku when they all gather to watch the night sky! Meanwhile, Raku still hasn’t come to terms with his own feelings… What truth will shine on this starry evening?


As the final volume of “Nisekoi” is almost here, “Nisekoi” volume 24 features Raku finally needing to make a decision of who he truly loves…Chitoge or Kosaki?  And what happens when Kosaki finds out the truth that Chitoge is also in love with Raku?

Meanwhile, will Ruri Miyamoto finally discover her true feelings that she has towards Shu Maiko?

All this and more in Naoshi Komi’s hit manga series, “Nisekoi: False Love” vol. 24!

What is “Nisekoi: False Love”?

Naoshi Komi’s manga work is well-known for readers of Shonen Jump. From “Koi no Kami-sama”, “Williams” and “Double Arts”, Komi’s manga “Nisekoi” (False Love) was created as a one shot for Jump NEXT! in 2011 but then receiving the go-ahead as a weekly manga serialized in “Weekly Shonen Jump”.

“Nisekoi” revolves around high school Raku Ichijou. When Ichijou was a kid, he met a girl and he kept a lock, she kept the key and promised each other to get married if they one day find each other.

Since then, Ichijou has kept his promise and has worn the lock around his neck and has been hoping to meet her again.

But Ichijou’s life is a little complicated. While a good-natured individual, unfortunately for him, he is the son of the leader of the Shuei-gumi yakuza syndicate. He has no interested in become part of the yakuza but everyone expects him to be the next one to lead the syndicate in the future.

Meanwhile, while going to school, he sees a foreign girl jumping from a wall and landing on him. He loses the lock on his neck and is very upset of what had transpired. Next thing you know in class, that same girl becomes a new student in his class.

Chitoge Kirisaki just moved from the U.S. to Japan and since her mom is Japanese and her dad is America, she is fluent in both Japanese and English. And suffice to say, when both Ichijou and Kirisaki see each other, they start yelling at each other and she nails him with a hit after he calls her “monkey girl”. People see how tough she is but to make them get along, his teacher puts Ichijou in charge of showing her around school.

He tries his best but the two are like oil and water, they just don’t get along. For the next week of trying to assist her, the two end up arguing and getting in each other’s faces.

If anything, Ichijou focus is more on finding the lock that was lost when Kirisaki landed on him. And he wonders if Kosaki Onodera, the popular girl in school and a person who has treated him with nothing but kindness is the girl that he made the promise with. He hopes it is her.

But just when Ichijou is about to give up, Onodera pleads with him to keep his promise and Ichijou is reminded that a promise is a promise and he intends to keep it. But wants to ask Onodera if there is any chance she may be the girl he made the promise too.

What he doesn’t know is that Onodera does have a key and she has always liked Ichijou but doesn’t have the guts to tell him.

But as Ichijou wonders if Onodera is the girl he made a promise too and excited for the possibility that it might be, when he gets home, his father talks to him about something important.

The problem is that the Shuei-gumi and another rival yakuza gang are in the brink of all-out war that would damage both yakuza gangs, he and the other leader have come up with the plan. Ichijou must pretend to be dating the daughter of the leader of the opposing yakuza gang.

Ichijou doesn’t want to get involved and his father told him that he must forget dating any other girl and focus liking this girl they set him up with.

When the two are introduces, Ichijou is shocked that the girl is Chitoge Kirisaki. And for both of them, they must promise to be boyfriend and girlfriend for three whole years and be convincing to both yakuza gangs that they are truly in love.

Both don’t want to be involved with each other but they have no choice. But now they must find a way to co-exist with each other as both yakuza gangs are suspicious of their relationship especially Kirisaki’s guardian, Claude.

Meanwhile, Ichijou still wants to ask Onodera if she is the girl with the key and Onodera is about to let him know that she is. But before they can, the whole school are told that both Ichijo and Kirasaki are boyfriend and girlfriend.

And now it has made things tough for both Ichijou and Kirisaki, but can they keep this charade of being in love with each other, especially if they despite one another?

And since then, there are a few other complications as not only Chitoge and Onodera have fallen for Raku, but also many other ladies have a crush on him!

For volume 24, Ruri and Shu work together to reunite a young girl with her parents.  But what happens when Ruri starts to realize these feelings that she may have for Shu?

Meanwhile, as Raku, Chitoge and Onodera decide to go stargazing at school, what happens when a typhoon comes and locks the three on campus?  And what happens with Chitoge hears Onodera professing her love towards Raku?  Will she declare her feelings as well?  And what happens when Onodera puts two and two together to discover Chitoge’s true feelings towards Raku?

And why has Chitoge gone missing?


With volume 24 of Naoshi Komi’s “Nisekoi: False Love”, the manga is now heading towards the finale (which will end in volume 25).

As we have read many volumes and seeing women who have fallen for Raku, I think we are now starting to see the storylines start to narrow down which girl Raku would end up with.

With this storyline, this volume now sets up the final storyline of who will Raku decide of where his heart belongs.  Will it be Kosaki Onodera, the girl that Raku has loved since childhood?  Or will it be Chitoge Kirisaki, the girl that he was forced to have a fake relationship with (because of their parents trying to prevent a gang war) and eventually developed feelings towards?

It’s not going to be an easy decision and to make things even more challenging, Chitoge overhears Onodera professing her love towards an unconscious Raku and knowing the truth.

After hearing this, Chitoge goes missing from school which causes Raku and everyone concern.  But for Onodera, she figures out that Chitoge overheard her and thinking about the past, realizing that Chitoge is also in love with Raku.

Meanwhile, the story concludes the Ruri and Shu storyline as we will discover how Ruri feels about Shu.

24 volumes in through the series, I really enjoy this manga series because it’s fresh take on the young promise made by youngsters to marry each other and it also has that similarity to “Ranma 1/2” of two people arranged by their parents to be together, although not to be married but to have this fake romance for three years. And then having multiple young ladies vying for his attention.  But now the storyline is coming to a close and Raku must now decide on who his heart belongs to…Chitoge or Onodera?

The artwork by Naoshi Komi is well-drawn, the series is full of humor and for the most part quite delightful in capturing their emotions on each page. But Naoshi Komi’s manga series has been nothing but delightful and very entertaining!

Vol. 24 of “Nisekoi: False Love” finally gets to the final two girls in Raku’s life, but one can truly win his heart.  Who will he pick?  And what happens when Chitoge and Onodera realize they are both in love with Raku? Recommended!

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J!-ENT’s Dennis A. Amith interviews Babyraids JAPAN (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

November 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

It was back in 2012, when Babyraids JAPAN made their debut through their agency LesPros Entertainment.

Babyraids JAPAN consists of Rikako Ooya, Erika Denya, Manatsu Hayashi, Nao Takami and Rio Watanabe.

The group made their debut with the single “Babyraids”, followed by “Baby Revolution” that year but would eventually break into the top 10 in 2013 with their singles “Koyomi no Ue de wa December”.

And while their single debuted at #6 on the Oricon Charts, having been around for two years, the group made a goal, perform at Budokan and if it doesn’t happen, they’ll end the group.

Fortunately for fans, Babyraids Japan would make their dreams come true before Christmas of 2014 by performing at Nippon Budokan.

The group would release a string of hits that would debut on the Oricon top 10 such as “Koi wa Panic”, “Bucchake Rock’n Hachake Roll/Baby Step”, “Tora-Tora Tiger” and “2 Years”.

In 2016, the group’s “Hashire, Hashire” would have their best debut at #3 on the Oricon Charts and since then, have released a total of 14 singles and two albums. Plus one mini-album and five video releases.

J!-ENT’s Dennis A. Amith had the opportunity to interview two of the five Babyraids JAPAN members, Nao and Rikako, a few days before their live performance in San Francisco.

Click here to read our J!-ENT Interview with Babyraids JAPAN


 

 

Imperfect Girl vol. 1 – Story by NISIOISIN and Art by Mitsuru Hattori (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

October 31, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

I’m not sure where this story is going.  If a young girl with a knife will literally have this adult as her hostage that she can toy with and torture, it’s unusual and quite dark.  And while this is only the first issue, I am interested in seeing where this manga goes for issue #2. So, if you are in the mood for something dark and twisted, definitely give “Imperfect Girl” a try!

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© 2016 NISIOISIN/Misuru Hattori. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Imperfect Girl vol. 1

STORY BY: NISIOISIN

ART BY Mitsuru Hattori

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Kodansha, Ltd.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Vertical Inc.

RATED: 16+

RELEASE DATE: October 24, 2017


“Looking back on it now, I realize that incident is what turned me into the novelist I am today.” An author is someone who creates tales, but an aspiring author is someone who lies, and nothing more.

This incident happened 10 years ago, when I was in college, and merely an aspiring author. If those events never took place I wouldn’t have become much of anything at all, which is why I think I need to thank her, thank that girl…


Nisioisin is a well-known manga writer and novelist.  Best known for his “Monogatari” novels, he already has created many series such as “Zaregoto”, “Ningen”, “Sekai”, “Densetsu”, “Boukyaku Tantei” to name a few.

In 2016, Nisioisin collaborated with Mitsuru Hattori (best known for “Concerto”) for “Imperfect Girl” which was featured in “Weekly Young Magazine”.

The series revolves around an author hoping for a big break, but for each manuscript he has sent, he has not received one reply.

One day, while riding on his bike to get home, he sees two girls walking and one is hit by a truck and is killed.  The other he sees saving her video game and rushing to her friend and then rode on.

The following day, while riding on his bike, the author gets into an accident as a recorder is stuck inside his back wheel and was able to survive thanks to his judo classes.

While the author gets home to check things on his computer, he feels a stabbing pain on his calf.  When he goes to check, he sees the girl (that survived the crash) under his desk and sees her stabbing his calf with a blade.

She explains to him that her name is “U” and because she saw her, she is taking him.  With the blade to his back and repeated punctures, she forces him to her home and has him go into the closet and locks him in there.  As he ponders to get help, he realizes he would be a laughing stock if he told people that a young-girl has kidnapped him.

As the author tries to think of what “U” is trying to accomplish, he overthinks things, about her intention, about his life and by the time he wakes up, he realizes that he hasn’t eaten.

He is thinking it’s probably a game and her parents would come back home and he would be released…but why isn’t her parents home yet?  Why is he being locked in a closet?  What will happen if she leaves him locked up?


As a reader and viewer of NISIOISIN’s “Mongatari” series, there is always something fascinating about his style of work and the characters.

So, I was looking forward to reading his three volume series “Imperfect Girl” and checking out the first issue.  And I found the storyline to be surprisingly wicked.

A story about an author who has limited thinking and hasn’t had a successful novel, sees a girl get killed and her friend checking on her.

But instead of stopping, the author just keeps riding his bike and more or less is an observer that tries to use what he observes to incorporate to a future novel.

But the following day, he gets home and the girl he saw earlier is stabbing his calf with a blade.  And now she has him by knifepoint and forces him to her home and she locks him up in his closet.

I found the whole story interesting and what if it was all in his head, what if he’s too stupid to do anything…break the closet down or whatever.  Why does he just stay in the closet and not fight it?  What is wrong with this guy? But as you read on, you start to realize, this little girl that has more or less kidnapped him, is wicked and unafraid and quite deadly.

There is one action that you see at the end that is something that you can’t conceive but it happens and then you wonder, this young meek guy is probably going to die.  He has no instincts, he is constantly questioning her intentions and his life that this can’t be happening.  It has to be a dream!  Or is it?

As for the story and artwork, the collaboration between NISIOISIN and Mitsuru Hattori is solid.  Some of those experimental art that you often see in NISIOISIN’s work, you tend to see experimentation with artwork and in the pages, while dark in a horror-like way, you also get a few experimental art that really looks cool.

Overall, I’m not sure where this story is going.  If a young girl with a knife will literally have this adult as her hostage that she can toy with and torture, it’s unusual and quite dark.  And while this is only the first issue, I am interested in seeing where this manga goes for issue #2. So, if you are in the mood for something dark and twisted, definitely give “Imperfect Girl” a try!

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