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Naruto Chibi Sasasuke’s Sharingan Legend vol. 1 by Kenji Taira (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

August 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Naruto Chibi Sasasuke’s Sharingan Legend” is a gag manga that is not meant to be taken seriously.  If anything, it takes the setting during the Team Taka storyline and add a lot of hilarious situations involving the team and their interactions with Itachi or Naruto and friends.  A fun gag manga volume for the hardcore “Naruto”, especially Sasuke fans.

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Image courtesy of © 2014 by Masashi Kishimoto, Kenji Taira. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Naruto Chibi Sasasuke’s Sharingan Legend vol. 1

STORY AND ART BY Kenji Taira

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shogakukan

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shonen Sunday

RATED: T for Teen

RELEASE DATE: September 5, 2017


Uchiha Sasuke, the brooding loner who will do anything to avenge his clan and kill his older brother… Yes, this is his story, but with a hilarious twist! In Naruto: Chibi Sasuke’s Sharingan Legend, the characters and story have been flipped on their heads, all for the sake of comedy! With his Taka teammates Suigetsu, Karin and Jugo, Sasuke travels the land and gets into all kinds of wacky adventures. This is a side of Sasuke you’ve never seen before. One bit of advice: do not mock the Uchiha!

Elite ninja Uchiha Sasuke travels the land with his teammates, searching for his brother Itachi. Pillow fights, video games, Christmas parties… There’s nothing this ninja won’t do to avenge his clan!


While Masashi Kishimoto’s “Naruto” series has concluded and the next generation featuring Naruto’s son Boruto and even Sasuke’s daughter Sarada are the ongoing story.

What best to have fun with the previous story than to make a chibi gag story involving Sasuke written and drawn by Kenji Taira.

For those not familiar with “chibi”, these are the super-deformed or smaller versions of the characters.

Set during the time when Sasuke is wanting revenge against his oldest brother Itachi for the slaughter of the Uchiha clan and has formed Team Taka along with often jealous Suigetsu Hozuki, Karin (who is obsessed with Sasuke) and the stoic and very angry Jugo.

This is not a chibi version of a story that many people are familiar with.  In this case, Team Taka goes to search for Adachi but engage in pillow fights, using dog poop to fight back against their enemies, the enjoyment of kotatsu during Christmas time and more.

But what happens when Sasuke finally catches up with his brother Itachi?  Let’s just say it’s not a battle of power, but one can expect a battle of wits… in Whack-a-mole and other shenanigans.

Also, what happens when Naruto, Sakura and Sai come across with Sasuke and Team Taka?

 


For those who are open for fun parodies and are fans of the “Naruto” manga or anime series, will find “Naruto Chibi Sasasuke’s Sharingan Legend” to be their cup of tea.

Personally, with each chapter dealing with many gag situations, I found it best enjoy the manga series in small doses.

While most stories are entertaining and fun, you have some that hilarious and some that tend to drag.  Towards the end you have more of promotional for the Naruto Art Exhibit that was held in Roppongi Hills and also the crew visiting Jump Festa 2015 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba.

Kenji Taira’s cute chibi depictions of all characters including nine-tails will surely entertain all fans.

But if anything, these are self-contained stories to be enjoyed in small doses or one can read the whole manga volume one quickly.

Overall, “Naruto Chibi Sasasuke’s Sharingan Legend” is a gag manga that is not meant to be taken seriously.  If anything, it takes the setting during the Team Taka storyline and add a lot of hilarious situations involving the team and their interactions with Itachi or Naruto and friends.  A fun gag manga volume for the hardcore “Naruto”, especially Sasuke fans.

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Q&A with Kenichi Sonoda (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

August 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Q&A with Kenichi Sonoda (by Michelle Tymon, Dennis A. Amith and Photos by Rhiannan Smith)


When it comes to world renown artists and animators, one man who received international attention before anime would become part of international pop culture was Kenichi Sonoda.

Working for the anime studio Artmic back in the ’80s, Sonoda worked on an anime series called “Bubblegum Crisis” and his character designs for the anime series was a hit among sci-fi animation fans.

Sonoda would go on to work on the anime series “Gall Force”, the OVA’s “Bubblegum Crash”, “Otaku no Video”, “Riding Bean”, “Solty Rei” to name a few.  But he would go on to create his next hit, the manga series “Gunsmith Cats”.

While Sonoda may not have a long string of series listed in his oeuvre, because of “Bubblegum Crisis” and “Gunsmith Cats” and those two being one of the most popular early anime series to come to the United States, Sonoda has earned the respect of anime fans and is continually invited to the United States frequently to appear at anime conventions.

Kenichi Sonoda recently was a special guest at Sakura Con 2017 in Seattle, Washington and J!-ENT recently took part in a Q&A.

The following is a transcript of the Q&A featuring our questions and other questions from press with Kenichi Sonoda’s answers.


Interviewer: Is this your first time here?

Sonoda: Sakura-con is my first. This is my second time in Seattle. Last time, I was here for Emerald City Comic Con a few years back.

J!-ENT: Did you get to do any sightseeing yet, if not, where would you like to go?

Sonoda: Yes, I did. I got to go to Nintendo. I also got to go to Crab Pot for some seafood. The food there was very interesting. They basically dumped a bunch of steamed crabs, clams and other seafood in front of you and give you a hammer and a couple other tools. It was very entertaining.

Interviewer: It’s very messy. They give you handwipes and a bib and it’s kind of embarrassing.

Sonoda: I was prepared because I put the paper bib on and I had a roll of paper towels.

Interviewer: How do you feel about how anime and manga is received in the US? Is there anything noticeable about the American market.

Sonoda: About America accepting manga… I’ve always had this admiration toward the US, and I grew up watching American movies and dramas. So that’s why I had Gunsmith Cats and Riding Bean set in the US. I even set the stories in Chicago because I was influenced by The Blues Brothers. So I am very grateful that the American fans have been so accepting of my work.

As for the answer to the second question, Japanese fans are very quiet overall. American fans are very lively and will approach you to talk and enjoy cosplaying. I think they’re very positive and they’re much more energetic than the Japanese fans, and I think that’s great.

J!-ENT: This is a similar question, but you were one of the very first guests invited to an event in the US. What is the biggest difference between the American fandom then and now?

Sonoda: Fundamentally there aren’t many differences but they’ve gotten smarter with promoting the events, and with how they’re run, and I think that’s great.

Interviewer: Are there any manga and anime series that you’re reading or watching right now?

Sonoda: I like to enjoy reading manga and watching anime quite regularly. But let’s see… Out of the recent anime series that have aired, I really enjoyed “Kemono Friends”. I have a lot of friends who are in doujin circles and at least 75% of them are obsessed with “Kemono Friends”, and we’re talking about men in their 40s and 50s.

Interviewer: It’s a very cute series, and everyone likes cute stuff.

Sonoda: The hype peaked in last two episodes, episodes 11 and 12. I was surprised at what happened myself.

J!-ENT: How did you get into this industry?

Sonoda: Right around the time I was sixteen or so, I started doujin work. And doujin work back then isn’t like the doujin circles who do derivative fan works that we have now.

It was more like a manga school, where everyone was determined to become manga artists. And I was the chairman for this group and got other people to join. After I graduated high school, I continued working on manga in hopes of becoming a manga artist while I went to design school.

One day, I was contacted by someone who worked at Artmic in Tokyo, who had seen one of my doujins. I was told they had a project called Gall Force and asked me if I had any interest in being the character designer.

Gall Force at the time was a 3D photo novel that appeared in a magazine called Model Graphix. They took models of girls that I designed and models of mechas that Kakinuma had designed, took photos of them, and made a story out of it.

At that point, there was no talk about making it into an anime. But not even six months later, I was told that they were going to be making a theatrical anime version, so I realized I was going to have a lot more work to do. Also, at the same time, a company called GAINAX also asked me to help out with some character design work.

So, I thought that since I now have at least two projects in Tokyo, I could move out to Tokyo and make a living over there without having to worry too much. So that was when I moved to Tokyo from Osaka, and I believe I was about 21 at the time.

My first job with GAINAX lasted about a year, and I worked at Artmic as an actual employee and did design work. At Artmic, I was working on the Gall Force series and the Bubblegum Crisis series.

Later on, I was told that if I had come up with a proposal, that it would probably go through. So I came up with a proposal without a script or original story and I went right to just storyboarding and animating it. That project was actually the anime, Riding Bean.

Work wise, things were going pretty well at Artmic, but because I was just an office worker there, my earnings didn’t really grow.

Even if something I created was a hit, I didn’t own the copyright. That was when I figured I should probably go back to my original goal of becoming a manga artist. I went to Kodansha to talk to them about a project and managed to land a deal on a serialized series.

That’s when I became a true manga artist and I quit my job at Artmic. I think I was about 26 or 27 when I started my serial with Kodansha, and my first serialized series, Gunsmith Cats became a hit. Because of that, I was able to become a successful manga artist.

Interviewer: When I was younger, I would watch Gall Force and Bubblegum Crisis on television and they were my favorites. I loved both series, because I hadn’t seen anything like them before. It was actually hard to find anime and manga in the early 90s when I first started watching. But now, anime is so popular and I wonder if you had any thoughts on how anime has transitioned to mainstream.

Sonoda: I’m very happy about Japanese manga and anime being so popular in the US and the world, but I do believe that this is mostly because of the stories being good so if we don’t keep up working hard, the interest in the genre could die down. So I think I need to keep working hard.

J!-Ent: How do you feel about your works like Bubblegum Crisis and Gall Force being loved so much after so many years?

Sonoda: I’m very happy about it. But since Artmic sort of went downhill, so that was regrettable. This doesn’t just apply to Artmic, but with the anime industry, if a series does well, you aren’t guaranteed to be provided with a high budget for the next series. Actually, the opposite would happen. They would say that we were able to make a hit, so we should actually be able to make another one with an even lower budget. That wasn’t the case with all the Artmic series, but I feel like if they spent more on the works, I think they would have done much better and been more popular longer.

Interviewer: Lately, there’s been a movement to make revival series, meaning companies are taking something from my generation or even older and bringing it back. Would you be interested in doing a new series for Gall Force or Bubblegum Crisis?

Sonoda: Yes, I would be interested. But there have been talks about doing digital remasters of older series for Blu-ray releases lately. There will soon be a digital remaster version of Riding Bean for the US and I did audio commentary for that. I also designed new cover art for that release.

Interviewer: Do you know the release date for that?

Sonoda: I personally haven’t seen the release schedule, so please check out the AnimEigo website for release information. Also, recently there have been talks about doing another anime of Gunsmith Cats, but I’m not sure what will happen with that yet.

 J!-Ent: Do you have any advice on how to get into the anime industry?

Sonoda: Not really. The only thing that I can say for anyone interested in joining this industry is to draw a lot.

Interviewer: Speaking of drawing, I wanted to know if you have more fun drawing mecha or if you have more fun drawing pretty girls.

Sonoda: Actually, I like drawing the atmosphere of the world of the story more than either of those choices. I’ll draw anything that is needed for that. I’m very good at drawing both pretty girls and mechas so if that enhances the series and makes it popular, that’s great. Recently, there are a lot of series that use pretty girls and mechas… and serious-looking mechas at that, and do it quite normally. I’m getting a bit nervous that my personal weapons that I thought won’t be effective anymore. Thirty years ago, there weren’t very many series that were filled with pretty girls and mechas. So I was able to use my weapons of being able to draw pretty girls and mechas.

J!-ENT: What was the first anime or manga that you latched onto?

Sonoda: The first manga works that I got into are the works of Fujio Akatsuka, Osamu Tezuka and Fujiko Fujio. There weren’t as many anime back then, so I was basically watching everything that was available. I can’t remember if I was in kindergarten or elementary school, but I cried so hard watching the final episode of Tatsunoko Pro’s Hakushon Daimaoh. I’ve also always liked American cartoons. Wacky Races, Tom and Jerry, and there was some cartoon where a Frankenstein-looking character appeared, but I liked that, too. There was also the cartoon for King Kong, too. But what I was most obsessed with wasn’t actually manga or anime, but a couple sci-fi dramas. They were the British dramas Thunderbirds Are Go and UFO created by ITV. I think the reason I started drawing so much mecha was because of Thunderbirds Are Go.

Interviewer: Would you have any interested in drawing a Thunderbirds Are Go manga?

Sonoda: No, because they are treasured memories and I want to keep them as such.

Interviewer: Are there any current American properties that you’re interested in?

Sonoda: There aren’t many American dramas that are on basic cable in Japan right now. They’re all on BS and CS, so I haven’t seen very many, but I think 24 from a little while back was really good. Also, I was quite disappointed with the newer Knight Rider series.

J!-ENT: You had mentioned that you liked America, but are there any places in America that you haven’t visited yet that you would like to?

Sonoda: So far, I’ve been only been to Chicago, Seattle, and San Jose. So there are plenty of places that I haven’t been to that I’d like to visit. I’d actually also like to go to NASA once.

Interviewer: You mentioned that a lot of your work is influenced by America and also takes place in America, but is there a reason that America influences you so much?

Sonoda: I like gun action and car action, so I watched a lot of movies and dramas with that and was influenced by them. Also, if when I draw manga, if America isn’t the setting for the story, I don’t think I could draw very many scenes where people are shooting guns. Guns are accessible in America. If the stories were set in Japan, I can’t easily logically justify the use of guns.

Interviewer: Unfortunately, it’s more believable for there to be gun fights and car chases in America.

Sonoda: In any case, I really love Dirty Harry.

Interviewer: Yeah, Clint Eastwood is really great.

J!-ENT: What are your hobbies outside of drawing and work?

Sonoda: Watching movies, making plastic models, and going out to drink with my friends. There are times that my friends invite me out to the movies, even though I don’t usually go to the movie theater. However, when my friends actually invite me out to the movies, I’ll go see any kind of movie. The movies that I went to see last year include Shin Godzilla, Girls und Panzer, and Don’t Breathe. They’re all completely different genres.

Interviewer: What were your thoughts on the new Godzilla movie?

Sonoda: I actually enjoyed the dull, first half of the movie more. During the climax scene in the later half of the movie, I thought the presentation wasn’t that great. It’s the scene where the train runs into Godzilla and explodes… But if Godzilla was standing in the way where a train as headed, you’d think that the tracks and cables would have already been trampled on, and the train shouldn’t have been running. I think it would’ve worked better if they did something like Operation Yashima in Neon Genesis Evangelion, because there’s a locomotive pulling the train, rather than the train running electrically.

Interpreter: I’m sorry, I have a slightly personal question in regards to movies, but have you seen the movie, John Wick, where Keanu Reeves plays a retired assassin?

Sonoda: Sorry, I haven’t seen it yet.

Interpreter: Honestly, considering your interests, I think it’d be a perfect movie for you, so I wanted to know your thoughts on it.

Sonoda: I see. I’ll try to rent it in the near future then. Speaking of Keanu Reeves, I think I heard a rumor a while back that they were to make a live-action Cowboy Bebop movie with Keanu Reeves, but that just never came to be, right?

Interviewer: We’ve actually had a couple live action adaptation movies of anime that haven’t gone very well. The Netflix live action Death Note movie is coming out and it’s already pretty unpopular, Ghost in the Shell didn’t do well, and Akira actually just got greenlit to be remade. American audiences haven’t been responding to them very well, it seems. I don’t know if I’d want a live action Cowboy Bebop because I love the anime so much.

Sonoda: There was also the live-action Dragon Ball. Also, speaking of Akira, that’s set in Tokyo… So are they going to change the setting to New York?

Interviewer: I heard that they were thinking about setting it in New York.

Sonoda: Also speaking of Akira, did the fact that one of the signs from the movie ended up correctly predicting the future become a popular story? In Akira, they mention that the 2020 Olympics are going to take place in Tokyo. The beginning of the story is the fact that the Olympics are going to happen the next year. Akira takes place in the year 2019.

J!-ENT: Since we’re talking about live action adaptations… In Japan, I think there’s a desire to see anime being made into live action adaptations. Whereas in the US, I don’t think there’s as much of a desire to see them. For example, there was already a lot of criticism over them casting a Caucasian actress to play Motoko in the Ghost in the Shell movie before the movie even came out. So I think that the way these adaptations are viewed are quite different in Japan and the US. In the US, as we had mentioned earlier, series like Cowboy Bebop is very sacred in the hearts of a lot of viewers here and they don’t want to see it as a live action adaptation.

Sonoda: For me, I actually have no problem with the casting of Scarlett Johansson as Motoko in the live action Ghost in the Shell. However, I felt that it was rather awkward that Aramaki was being playing by Takeshi Kitano. He looks nothing like him and he doesn’t talk in the same sharp manner… I thought that was a much bigger problem that I was hoping they’d do something about. Chief Aramaki in Masamune Shirow’s original Ghost in the Shell was actually modeled after a character from the British police drama, The Professionals. Are you able to search on the internet right now? If you search for CI5, The Professionals… I forgot the name of the actor, but he’s the chief in that show. His hair is rather thin, but his face has a very sharp look to it. He’s a very cool looking character. If you can find any pictures from the series, you should be able to find a picture of two younger male agents and a slightly older gentleman who played their boss. I’m pretty sure that Masamune Shirow has mentioned this in other interviews before, but he really likes British police and military dramas and movies. He apparently really liked The Professionals and was highly influenced by it. Also, the same actor who plays the chief in The Professionals plays the lead in a movie called The Final Option. If I remember correctly, Masamune Shirow really liked that movie, as well.

Interviewer: One final question. The genre of anime seems to have changed greatly from the early 90s and 80s. Back then, you had Ghost in the Shell, Mobile Police Patlabor, and Akira, which are all rather serious works. Nowadays, the anime series that seem to be popular are about high schools, and the moe culture. I was wondering if you had any thoughts about these changes and if you noticed and trends and changes yourself.

Sonoda: I think there are still some rather serious and good series out there even now. It’s just that there are indeed a lot more moe genre series now as well. So I personally don’t think there’s anything to worry about. Even with the moe genre series or series that use pretty girls to try to catch the audience, a lot of them have a very solid story at their core and are made quite well. So basically they’re just sugarcoated with the pretty girls or moe, but beneath that surface, there is a great foundation. So if you look for them carefully, you should be able to find those more serious anime series that you were speaking of. For example, Kyoto Animation is known for using a lot of beautiful girls in their series, but they make very serious and excellent series.

Adding onto the last question, with the change of genre, the art style from the 80s and 90s and the art style now has changed. Do you think the art style will ever go back to the way it was in the 80s and 90s?

Sonoda: There are a lot more series that use a lot of CG now as well as computer-aided drawings. This aspect also makes it a lot easier to additional details into scenes. But what’s most important is the direction and the story. So I’m not sure if the key animation is indeed the most important aspect or not. Of course, there are works like the works by Makoto Shinkai where what you’re looking at is also very important. But then there are also series like Kemono Friends which I mentioned earlier. The visuals on that show are extremely cheap looking, but the actual story is extremely well made. It actually became rather popular on the internet. As long as the creators know exactly what they should be presenting, even if their budget is not very high, I don’t think they need to worry too much about what’s visually being presented.


Follow Kenichi Sonoda on Twitter

 

Land of the Lustrous vol. 1 by Haruka Ichikawa (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

August 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If anything, I want to see how this series develops overtime as vol. 1 gave us a taste of the jewel people and the daily dangers they must confront each day. But it will be interesting to see where Haruka Ichiwakawa takes the characters in upcoming stories and adventures. Overall, “Land of the Lustrous” is a manga series worth checking out!

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Image courtesy of © 2013 Haruka Ichikawa. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Land of the Lustrous vol. 1

Story and Art by Haruka Ichikawa

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Kodansha Ltd.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Kodansha Comics

RATED: T for Teen

RELEASE DATE: June 27, 2017


In a world inhabited by crystalline lifeforms called The Lustrous, every unique gem must fight for their way of life against the threat of lunarians who would turn them into decorations. Phosphophyllite, the most fragile and brittle of gems, longs to join the battle. When Phos is instead assigned to complete a natural history of their world, it sounds like a dull and pointless task. But this new job brings Phos into contact with Cinnabar, a gem forced to live in isolation. Can Phos’s seemingly mundane assignment lead both Phos and Cinnabar to the fulfillment they desire?


In 2012, Haruko Ichikawa created her manga series “Houseki no Kuni” (which translates to “Country of Jewels”) and was published by Kodansha for “Monthly Afteroon” Magazine.

With a total of five graphic novel volumes published, the first volume will be released by Kodansha USA under the title “Land of the Lustrous”.

Set in a world where there are people made of jewels (of various different grades of jewels), some who are tough as diamond, some who are not as durable but have great fighting power, protecting their land from the Lunarians, who want to take the jewels and make them into decorations.

The main character is Phos (Phosphophylite) who is a female jewel that is trying to find her path in life.

She wants to find true meaning and each time she encounters the other jewels, they find her to be annoying and clumsy.

Unfortunately for Phos, who wants to fight, she is grade 3.5 and she is the most fragile of all jewels.  So, she is given a job, to complete a natural history of their world.

While she finds the new job dull, she is told to talk to Cinnabar, a jewel who only fights during the nighttime and when Phos goes out to meet her, we learn that Cinnabar is quite bored with her life because she can only fight during the night and there are no Lunarian attacks at night.

But as Phos tries to explore for her studies on natural history, she talks with her fellow Lustrous and learns that they are also trying to find meaning in their lives.

But what happens when a huge slug comes out of nowhere?


Haruka Ichikawa’s manga “Land of the Lustrous” is an interesting concept.  Taking the various types of jewels and making them people, but yet people with abilities and are defending themselves against the Lunarians who want to break them and take their jewels to make jewelry.

The story is somewhat banal that you have one clumsy and bumbling character that tends to annoy everyone (as they think the main character, Phos is useless) but yet somehow, her kind heart opens them up and challenges them to think about their path in life.

The manga series will probably show us how Phos will become stronger, despite being a fragile jewel but I would like to see how Haruka Ichikawa takes this story and make it different from similar storylines.

For the most part, the first volume is no doubt introductory to the various characters in the manga series and it does have issues where certain characters look too close to each other that you get confused who is who.

But the manga series does pickup as we start to see the various jewel people, some who are durable, some who are warriors and some who are not fighters.

The character designs are good and things are looking up for Haruka Ichikawa’s series as it is set for an anime adaptation for debut in October 2017.  If anything, I want to see how this series develops overtime as vol. 1 gave us a taste of the jewel people and the daily dangers they must confront each day.

But it will be interesting to see where Haruka Ichiwakawa takes the characters in upcoming stories and adventures.

Overall, “Land of the Lustrous” is a manga series worth checking out!

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Boruto – Naruto Next Generations – vol. 2 – Story by Ukyo Kodachi and Art by Mikio Ikemoto (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

August 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you enjoyed “Naruto”, you’ll find “Boruto – Naruto Next Generations -” to be entertaining and a lot of fun to read! The Chunin Exam has begun and Boruto must prepare for the one-on-one battles, but will he resort to using the forbidden chakra device and cheat during the exam?

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Image courtesy of © 2016 Masashi Kishimoto. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Boruto – Naruto Next Generations – vol. 2

Creator/Supervisor: Masashi Kishimoto

Story by Ukyo Kodachi and Art by Mikio Ikemoto

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: SHUEISHA, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shueisha Inc., Tokyo

RATED: T for Teen

RELEASE DATE: September 5, 2017


Boruto gets through round two of the Chunin Exam and receives praise from his father. But what Naruto doesn’t know is that his son is cheating by using prohibited ninja tools. What will happen to Boruto when the truth is revealed? Meanwhile, darker forces are advancing behind the scenes.


As the groups get ready for their Chunin Exam to see who will become a ninja, round three will be in front of a public audience.

Will Boruto uses the bracelet to cheat and best his opponent?

What is “Boruto” all about?

The popular manga series “Naruto” has been going strong since its debut in Shueisha back in 1999 via “Weekly Shonen Jump” magazine.

The manga by Masashi Kishimoto is about a young ninja named Naruto Uzamaki, a ninja of the Konoha leaf village who grew up facing prejudiced within his fellow ninjas because the evil nine-tailed fox was sealed inside him. But throughout the series, we have seen how Naruto is a kind-hearted boy who has worked hard in protecting his friends and staying true to his word with the goal of someday becoming the next Hokage of the village.

In 2014, Kishimoto wrapped up the “Naruto” manga and in the final chapter (featured in volume 72), Naruto would eventually become the Hokage of the Leaf Village and he and his wife Hinata would have two children, Boruto and Himawari.

Meanwhile, Sasuke and Sakura would have a daughter named Sarada, Shikamaru Nara and Temari would have a son named Shikadai, Sai and Ino would have a son named Inojin and Choji Akimichi and Karui would have a daughter named Chocho.

Everyone has grown up and Naruto is busy as the new Hokage at the village, this causes resentment from Naruto’s son Boruto who feels that his father was never there for him or the family.

This leads us to the new manga series “Boruto – Naruto Next Generations” which is created and supervised by Masashi Kishimoto but is now written by Ukyo Kodachi and artwork is by Mikio Ikemoto.

The manga begins with Boruto telling his story and him and his team partners, Sarada and Mitsuki being trained by Master Konohamaru. A lot has changed in terms of ninja skills and technology.

Now, a jutsu can be contained in a mini-seal and put into a bracelet which gives anyone, ninja or not, the power to use a jutsu. No chakra is even needed to use the new technology.

With the next Chunin exams coming up, Sarada and Mitsuki want to take the exam but Boruto, he has no desire. He doesn’t want to be like his father and that means not wanting to be Hokage. But for Sarada, she wants to be Hokage and tries to get Boruto to take part in the Chunin exam to let his father know he could do it.

Meanwhile, Sasuke Uchiha returns to the village and Boruto, not wanting to be anything like his father, goes to Sasuke to take him in as a pupil. But Sasuke will only agree if Boruto can learn the Sharingan jutsu.

We also get to learn about Mitsuki and find out who his parent(s) may be.

In vol. 2, as the groups get ready for their Chunin Exam to see who will become a ninja, round three will be in front of a public audience. During a battle Boruto uses the bracelet to best his opponent, but for Naruto, he is disappointed that his son resorted to such a tactic and disqualifies his son from the Chunin exam and also taking away his ninja bandana as punishment.

But just when Naruto is discussing this with his son, a new evil has shown up to the Leaf Village and kidnaps Naruto.


Reading “Boruto – Naruto Next Generations”, I can’t help but be entertained by the fact that the series focuses on the children of the characters that many of us grew up reading/watching for 15 years.

“Naruto” having lasted so long was a big part of the lives of manga/anime fans of the series that we watched “Naruto” grow from a child, to a teenager and a young adult. Seeing how his heart and his passion would inspire so many but also seeing him determined to defeat those who threatened the village or his friends.

With Naruto, he is a student that felt he had to prove himself through hardwork and determination.

So, it’s fascinating to see how Boruto is much different than his father. Naruto, who had always said he would become Hokage is now the new Hokage of the Leaf Village but this new role means being busy with work and unfortunately, that means no time spent with the family.

Hinata is literally taking care of both children and you can see how Boruto is upset at his father for neglecting them, but he harbors a bit of anger for his father not being there for him.

What’s even more interesting is that Boruto is not too aware of his father’s past and how he grew up, so he is not aware of the challenges or difficulties his father grew up with.

And because of his feelings towards his father, he asks his dad’s rival, Sasuke Uchiha to become his master.

The second volume  features the start of the one-on-one battles of the Chunin exam and Boruto tries to prove to his father that he has what it takes to become a ninja.  But with a battle against Nara Shikadai, what happens when Boruto uses a device and literally cheat during the Chunin Exam?  Suffice to say, his father Naruto is not pleased.

But as father admonishes his son, someone attacks the arena where the Chunin Exam is taking place and Naruto is kidnapped by those responsible.

This is a new beginning, a new chapter and not sure if this will last for another 15 years but this is a tremendous task and also honor that “Naruto” creator Masashi Kishimoto had bestowed upon writer Ukyo Kodachi and artist Mikio Ikemoto.

The story and artwork is well-done and for the most part, I just enjoy reading this latest volume because this storyline is literally a passing of the torch to a new generation of characters in the Leaf Village.

And having read and enjoyed the “Naruto” manga (I enjoyed the anime series but the plethora of filler episodes made things drag out way too long for me), it’s great to read a story focused on the 7th Hokage’s son.

If you enjoyed “Naruto”, you’ll find “Boruto – Naruto Next Generations -” to be entertaining and a lot of fun to read!

Will father and son ever get along?  Find out in the second volume of “Boruto – Naruto Next Generations -“!

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Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt vol. 4 – Story and Art by Yasuo Ohtagaki (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

July 31, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Prepare for a new threat to both Federation and also Zeon…the Nanyang Alliance in vol. 4 of “Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt”.

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© 2012 by Yasuo Ohtagaki. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt Vol. 4

STORY AND ART BY: Yasuo Ohtagaki

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shogakukan

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Signature

RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: August 15, 2017


The fleets of the Earth Federation’s Moore Brotherhood and the Republic of Zeon have shattered each other in a bloody battle for the Thunderbolt Sector. Mirroring the greater struggle, the ferocious duel between Io Fleming and Daryl Lorenz leaves both the Full Armor Gundam and the Psycho Zaku heavily damaged and Io a prisoner of war. The Zeon space habitat A Baoa Qu now becomes the final battleground of the One Year War.


Both the Federation and the Principality of Zeon had suffered significant losses but both Io Fleming and Zeon Sniper Daryl Lorenz survived, despite their mecha suffering significant damage.

As Federation backups arrive, many Zeon are able to escape and land somewhere on Earth, but the Federation was able to secure Zaku technology during a raid.

Meanwhile, another group known as the Nanyang Alliance, a faction of the Federation who are able to capture and secure a scientist who worked with Doctor Mitchum and has details on the P. Device, the core of next-gen MS Piloting Systems.

Fastforward a year later, as the Federation and Zeon sign an armistice, but what are both sides planning during this time of peace?  And is a new battle brewing?

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.

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.

We see the other side as those who feel they are wronged and want revenge against the Earth Federation for the death of their loved ones.

Zeon scientist Karla Mitchum is responsible for giving the soldiers prosthetics but when her loved one is killed, she wants Daryl to rid of the Earth Federation, especially the man responsible, Io Fleming.

But we see how the grass is definitely not greener on the other side and how difficult life was for children growing up in the Principality of Zeon and in order to make sure their families were taken care of, they had to join the military at a young age.

The fourth volume focuses on the post-war as both Federation and Zeon are at a time of peace but a new threat arrives when a faction of the Federation manages to capture a Zeon scientist who has data on the technology of the creation of the Psycho Zaku.

Meanwhile, Io Fleming gets a new Gundam and Daryl Lorenz and his Psycho Zaku also gets an upgrade.

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. 4 gives readers a balance of war but also peace.

Prepare for a new threat to both Federation and also Zeon…the Nanyang Alliance

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Terra Formars Vol. 18 (Story by Yu Sasuga, Art by Ken-Ichi Tachibana) (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

July 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Terraformars” is an exciting, violent but addictive series that I am always looking forward to! But I admit that I was a little disappointed about this new direction that writer Yu Sasuga has taken the series  and characters for vol. 18 and not giving a storyline to wrap up the Mars expedition. The abrupt change was not what I was expecting, so for the most part, we have a new storyline and for anyone wanting to jump in, can do so with this volume.

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


MANGA TITLE: Terra Formars Vol. 18

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 July 18, 2017


A year has passed since the survivors of the Annex mission to Mars returned to Earth. But the war with the Terraformars is far from over! The struggle continues in secret, deep beneath the streets of Tokyo. Akari, now working for a private security firm, looks for dangerous new ways to seek out and destroy the Terraformars before the world is overwhelmed by the alien cockroaches from Mars!


The story has immediately shift later in the future as the crew of the Annex Mission have returned to Earth and many have gone on with their lives but to find out that Terraformars are now on the planet, killing humans but secretly living in spaces…multiplying at a rapid rate and now have an army.

But while there have been many deaths, the question is what are these Terraformars up to and will their army strike?

All this and more in vol. 18 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?


I have to admit that I was shocked and surprised by the fastforwarding of the storyline to Earth.  Having followed the series and seeing everyone trying to survive the onslaught on Mars, immediately the story is fastforwarded to the Annex crew having already escaped from Mars and successfully making it to back to Earth.

It does leave me feeling a bit disappointed because Yu Sasuga did not choose to finish the Mars storyline and decides to immediately skip the storyline during a time which many readers have invested money and time reading to crew having reached Earth.

There are short tidbits of what happened to a few of the crew who have made it back but I felt this took the continuity out of whack and in essence, you get a new storyline, a few returning characters, some new characters and a setting on Earth and with the same enemy.

The storyline focuses on Akari Shimizu who is now working for Ichi Security Co., Ltd. and his job along with his partners are to eradicate the Terraformars on Earth.

The company pinpoints an image taken from a brain scan of one of the diseased Terraformars leading to the sewers in Sumida and thinking that homeless humans are being killed and slaughtered by the Terraformars, he is shocked to discover that it’s the other way around.

Akari sees an old acquaintance named Saito who has been killing Terraformars (which he calls Subterraneans) and they are selling parts of these Terraformars for a price.  But as Akari offers his old friend money because the government would need these bodies, Saito is not so welcoming and a fight ensues between the two.

Meanwhile, we start to learn more about the plans of the Terraformars and what their goal of the army is.  How high their intelligence is and their abilities to graft parts to wild animals such as bears.

And we are introduced to new characters who will be the primary focus of this new arc as humans vs. Terraformars continue but this time…on Earth.

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” a fascinating and captivating series.

Overall, “Terraformars” is an exciting, violent but addictive series that I am always looking forward to! But I admit that I was a little disappointed about this new direction that writer Yu Sasuga has taken the series  and characters for vol. 18 and not giving a storyline to wrap up the Mars expedition. The abrupt change was not what I was expecting, so for the most part, we have a new storyline and for anyone wanting to jump in, can do so with this volume.

What are the true plans of the Terraformars on Earth?  And can the humans stop them?  Find out what happens in Vol. 18 of “Terra Formars”!

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Nisekoi: False Love Vol. 22 by Naoshi Komi (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

July 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Will Raku accept Marika? And what happens as Raku and friends try to prevent the forced marriage of Marika. All this and more in this entertaining 22nd volume of Naoshi Komi’s “Nisekoi: False Love”. Recommended!

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© 2011 Naoshi Komi. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Nisekoi: False Love Vol. 22

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: July 4, 2017


Marika has been too sick to come to school lately, but on Valentine’s Day she shows up to gift Raku with chocolate and once again declare her love! She presses Raku to reciprocate, but before he can respond, she is whisked away to her family’s home in Kyushu because of her failing health. But Raku and the gang won’t let her disappear from their lives without a fight!


Marika’s mother is forcing her to get married and with Raku and friends trying to protect and save their friend from getting into a forced marriage, her mother wants to make the wedding happen immediately.

Will Raku and friends be able to get to Marika in time?

All this and more in Naoshi Komi’s hit manga series, “Nisekoi: False Love” vol. 22!

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 Chitoge’s bodyguard Tsugumi and Marika Tachibana, who Raku’s father promised Marika’s father that they would marry?

But while Raku Ichijou and Chitoge Kirisaki are supposed to fake their relationship, Chitoge is starting to realize that with each moment spent with Raku, she is slowly falling in love with him.

For volume 19, Chitoge Kirasaki’s father has told her that she and Raku will no longer need to fake their relationship because she and Tsugumi will be moving back to the United States. This leaves Chitoge to become devastated that she will never ever confess her feelings to Raku and will never be around him and her friends. What last resort will Chitoge and Tsugumi pull in order for them to stay in Japan?

Meanwhile, what happens when Onodera and Raku goes on their first date together during the holidays? And what happens when Marika kidnaps Raku?

For volume 22, Marika’s wedding is to take place.  Forcing her daughter to wed a man she doesn’t love and wanting to have the marriage take place much earlier than planned, Raku, Chitoge and friends try to get to her and prevent the wedding from happening.


With volume 22 of Naoshi Komi’s “Nisekoi: False Love”, the manga is now heading towards its final volumes.

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 completes Marika’s storyline and what a fascinating way to properly do a sendoff for the character.

As Marika is arranged to wed another man and forced by her mother to follow her strict rules, Raku and the others know she doesn’t like the forced marriage but also know that when it comes to her mother, Marika is not a person to go against her mother.  With the wedding security on heightened alert and are prepared for Raku and friends to interfere, will Raku and friends get to her in time?

But what happens when Raku and Marika finally get to talk.  Will he accept her or reject her?

22 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 with the introduction of other girls who made promises when they were younger, we clearly don’t know which girl Raku promised to marry when he was younger. But with everyone vying for Raku’s attention (and he being totally oblivious to what’s going on), it makes for a very entertaining storyline and series!  But now that we are nearing the finish line, we have seen how Raku starts to pair things down with the ladies who fallen for him.

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!

Will Raku accept Marika? And what happens as Raku and friends try to prevent the forced marriage of Marika. All this and more in this entertaining 22nd volume of Naoshi Komi’s “Nisekoi: False Love”. Recommended!

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Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic Vol. 24 by Shinobu Ohtaka (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

June 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” vol. 24 answers many questions that people have been longing for and so it’s definitely a recommended volume worth reading. If you stuck with “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” for this long, volume 24 is highly recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 2009 Shinobu Ohtaka. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic Vol. 24

STORY AND ART BY: Shinobu Ohtaka

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shogakukan

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shonen Sunday

RATED: T for Teen

RELEASE DATE: June 13, 2017


An epic dungeon-busting adventure inspired by One Thousand and One Nights!

Deep within the desert lie the mysterious Dungeons, vast stores of riches there for the taking by anyone lucky enough to find them and brave enough to venture into the depths from where few have ever returned. Plucky young adventurer Aladdin means to find the Dungeons and their secrets, but Aladdin may be just as mysterious as the treasures he seeks.

The saga of the lost world of Alma Tran continues. Solomon readies for a final battle against his father David, but the fate of the world may already be set. Solomon and his comrades confront the ultimate power in their universe in a bid to prevent the apocalypse. And as everything begins to fall apart, Ugo puts a desperate plan in motion—if this world cannot be saved, perhaps there can be hope for the next…


As we learn about the Djinn, finally with vol. 24, we find out who the parents of Aladdin are and how Ugo became a Djinn.  And how the fate of the world rests with Aladdin in the saga of the lost world of Alma Tran continues!

All this and more in Shinobu Ohtaka’s hit manga, “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic”!

What is “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic”?

When it comes to opportunities of becoming a manga writer/artist (mangaka), Shinobu Ohtaka’s story.

She has written about her story of how she became a manga artist, as a person who was the person who would sit quietly in the corner of class and was not really great at anything and often playing a supporting role. But if there was one thing that she was confident in, it was drawing pictures.

Her first year in high school, she was submitting manga manuscripts because it was her dream to become a manga author. And like many writers, her submissions were denied and this continued through high school and college. And when she was about to call it quits, she was given the opportunity to do a one-shot and it led to the creation of the series “Sumomo Momomo” in 2004 which would eventually become 22 volume manga series and also a 22-episode anime series.

After completing “Sumomo Momomo”, Shinobu then created “Magi” which would be serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday in 2009 and to this day, the series is till ongoing (currently, at 17 volumes) and an anime adaptation which was aired in Japan in Oct. 2012 – March 2013 and a new second season which has aired in Japan.

In volume 24 of “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic”, the story introduces readers to the distant past.  David has abandoned his base to attack the others and people are worried if they would survive.

Solomon wants to ensure his wife, the pregnant Falan will survive and so Solomon and one of the great (yet no confident) magoi users, Ugo try to stave off the attack.  But when they leave the barrier, they find some of their own outside the barrier burned to death.

In order to save others, Solomon makes the decision to sacrifice himself but to also split his power and divide them among the intelligent beings.

But we see what this sacrifice has done in the long run but most importantly, how this decision would affect the young Aladdin.


The main characters of “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” are:

    • Aladdin – A young magi who doesn’t know too much about himself or the outside world. But he’s kind and goodhearted and wants to protect the people he cares about. When he blows into a flute, a headless blue giant named Ugo comes out.
    • Alibaba – A thief who appears to have a mysterious background that befriends Aladdin.
    • Morgania – A slave who comes from a country of people known for their superior leg strength and speed. She is the slave of the tyrant, Lord Jamil.
    • Amon – A djinn with fire elemental powers contained in Alibaba’s training sword.
    • Sinbad – The King of Sindria and leader of the Alliance of the Seven Seas. He has sailed the seven seas and captured seven dungeons and is a master of seven djinn.
    • Masrur – A Fanalis who works for Sinbad and trains Morgiana in hand to hand combat.
    • Ja’far – A former assassin who becomes loyal to Sinbad.
    • Hakuryuu Ren – The fourth prince in the Kou Empire who becomes an ally of Aladdin, Alibaba and Morgianna but has gone a major transformation.
    • Judar – An evil Magi working for Al-Thamen. Raised by Al-Thamen after the organization killed his parents

Since the beginning of “Magi”, there have been questions of the Djinn, how they came to be and their relationship to Aladdin, especially with the character of Ugo and who his parents may be.

With volume 24 of Shinobu Ohtaka’s “Magi: The Labyrinth”, those questions are answered.

The storyline features how grave things were back then among magoi users when a twisted magoi user known as David goes to exterminate people for what he thinks is God’s will.  This leads to Solomon, David’s son to fight back in order to protect his pregnant wife Falan and also the people he cares deeply about and to make a great sacrifice.

But it’s the sacrifice that sets the wheels in motion and whether or not it’s a good thing or bad thing, we see how the splitting of power and having people have their own magic encased in their bodies and the meaning of the white and black rukh and more.

Overall, “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” vol. 24 answers many questions that people have been longing for and so it’s definitely a recommended volume worth reading.

If you stuck with “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” for this long, volume 24 is highly recommended!

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Utada Hikaru – New Single Releases

June 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

NEW RELEASES

AVAILABLE FOR DIGITAL DOWNLOAD

MONDAY JULY 10TH 2017

&

FRIDAY JULY 20TH 2017

 

Japanese singer-songwriter, Utada Hikaru will release her first single, “Oozora de Dakishimete” from Epic Records Japan, a division of Sony Music Entertainment Japan, on Monday, July 10th 2017.

Her second single, “forevermore” will follow its release on Friday, july 20th 2017.

Her last record with Universal, Fantome, sold approx. 1.05 million copies worldwide.

(#23 on IFPI’s top selling albums chart from Global Music Report.)

 

Utada Hikaru’s first single at EPIC Records Japan, “Oozora de Dakishimete” aired in Japan in a TV commercial for Suntory’s natural mineral water (Suntory Tennensui).  Since it’s airing, Utada Hikaru has been in such a spotlight that her commercial had over 1 million views on YouTube within 10 days of its release.

 

In a behind the scenes interview, she explains about filming the commercial and the featured track as follows:

“Last time, I was already working on the track [‘michi’] for my album release when I received the offer to feature in a commercial.  But this time, we had gotten an offer before working on the song, so I kept imagining how the commercial might look as I wrote the song.  In “Oozora de Dakishimete”, the lyrics talk about being “reunited by someone you thought you’d never see”, in a “place in the clouds”, “in the big sky”, “in the blue skies”.  When I went to go film the actual commercial, the setting was actually on a mountaintop and was surrounded by fog.  So I felt really immersed in the lyrics.”

 

Utada Hikaru’s first single is still trending, but her second single release has already been announced!  “Forevermore” is going to be used as the theme song for TBS Networks’ Nichijyou Gekijyou (Sunday Theater) drama series, “Gomen, Aishiteru” (I’m sorry, I love you).  Its digital release will be on July 28th.

 

Her song, “Hanataba wo Kimini” was used as the main theme for NHK (Japanese national public broadcasting)’s renzoku TV shosetsu (a morning drama series), “Toto-Neechan” in 2016.  But it has been 9 years since her song was last used in a private broadcasting show.  (Last used was “eternally –drama mix-“in Fuji TV Network’s drama series, “Innocent Love”.)

 

Worldly acclaimed drummer, Chris Dave has worked on both singles, making both songs a must hear!

 

 

 

<CHRIS DAVE PROFILE>

Born in Houston, Texas

Chris Dave started his drumming career when he met Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis in college.  His extraordinary drum techniques has achieved praises from top artists like Robert Glasper, D’Angelo, Adele, Justin Bieber, etc.

In 2016, he was chosen in “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time” in Rolling Stone magazine.

 

 

 

 

 

<Utada Hikaru PROFILE>

Born in New York, NY

Utada Hikaru released her debut single, “Automatic/Time Will Tell” on December 9th, 1998 at the young age of 16.  It sold more than two million copies; instantly making her one of Japan’s top artists.

Just a few months later, she released her first album “First Love”, which made record CD sales in Japan, which still remains unbroken.  Every album she has released since then has topped charts, and in 2007, her single “Flavor of Life” set the world record in its number of downloads.

In 2010, Utada Hikaru decided to take a break from her music career to focus on her personal life.  In April 2016, she restarted her music career by releasing singles “Hanataba wo Kimini” and “Manatsu no Tooriame”.

Her sixth studio album, “Fantome”, released in Sepember 2016.  It achieved critical success worldwide, and her album stayed #1 on Oricon charts for four consecutive weeks; a first for Utada Hikaru.   The album also ranked 3rd on the US iTunes chart.  “Fantome” sold over a million copies, combining CD sales and digital sale.

In March 2017, Utada Hikaru signed with EPIC Records Japan, a Sony Music label.

 

 

 

 

 

<RELEASES>

 

First Single:”Oozora de Dakishimete”

(Used in “Suntory Tennensui” commercial)

Monday, July 10th 2017 (DIGITAL RELEASE)

 

Second Single: “Forevermore”

Main theme for TBS Network Nichijyou Gekijyou “Gomen, Aishiteru

Friday, July 28th (DIGITAL RELEASE)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aniplex of America Names Shu Nishimoto as President

June 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

SANTA MONICA, CA (June 23, 2017) – Aniplex of America announced today that Shu Nishimoto has been appointed President of Aniplex of America Inc. on June 21 . Nishimoto will replace Hideki Henry Goto, who announced in June that he will take on the role of Head of International Business Development at Aniplex Inc. in Tokyo, Japan.

Nishimoto joined Aniplex Inc. in 2009 as Manager of Sales and worked on many successful projects including, Puella Madoka Magica, Monogatari series, Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, Your lie in April, and the Sword Art Online franchise. In 2014, Nishimoto joined Aniplex of America as Vice President of Licensing. He is responsible for spearheading many high profile distribution deals with partners including Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu.

“I look forward to continuing to provide high quality and entertaining anime that Aniplex is known for,” said Nishimoto. “The fans are our number one priority and I am thrilled to be leading such a talented group of individuals at Aniplex of America. I am well aware that I have very big shoes to fill, and I want to thank Henry and Aniplex for giving me this opportunity.”

This transition is happening at a very exciting time for Aniplex of America, as they prepare to launch the English version of popular mobile RPG, Fate/Grand Order, on June 25th. They are also preparing for the nationwide theatrical release of popular anime title, The irregular at magic high school THE MOVIE – The Girl Who Summons the Stars-, and they have acquired the highly anticipated anime series, Katsugeki TOUKEN RANBU, for their summer 2017 line-up.

About Aniplex of America Inc.

Aniplex of America Inc. (Santa Monica, CA) is a subsidiary of Aniplex Inc. (headquartered in Tokyo, Japan), a group of Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. and a leading provider of anime content, music production, and distribution in Japan. Aniplex of America has launched fan-favorite Blu-ray and DVD releases including Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works], Fate/Zero, the Sword Art Online series, Your lie in April, KILL la KILL, Bakemonogatari, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Blue Exorcist, NISEKOI, the OREIMO series, DURARARA!!×2, Magi series, Expelled From Paradise, The irregular at magic high school, and ALDNOAH.ZERO. The company’s ever-growing line-up of shows includes our most recent titles: March comes in like a lion, Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga, ERASED, The Asterisk War, OWARIMONOGATARI, KIZUMONOGATARI, Charlotte, Occultic;Nine, WWW.WAGNARIA!!, GRANBLUE FANTASY, and Eromanga Sensei.

www.AniplexUSA.com

www.facebook.com/AniplexUSA

www.twitter.com/AniplexUSA

www.youtube.com/AniplexUS

www.twitch.tv/AniplexUSA

 

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