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Imperfect Girl vol. 2 – Story by NISIOISIN and Art by Mitsuru Hattori (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

February 10, 2018 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 with vol. 2, it looks like “I” wants to stay, so he can understand “U” and her motivation for kidnapping him.  It’s an interesting volume to say the least and refreshingly dark but yet entertaining at the same time.

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© 2016 NISIOISIN/Misuru Hattori. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Imperfect Girl vol. 2

STORY BY: NISIOISIN

ART BY Mitsuru Hattori

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Kodansha, Ltd.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Vertical Inc.

RATED: 16+

RELEASE DATE: January 9, 2018


“Leaving this house without finding out what’s going on here is no longer an option for me…!”

The improbable imprisonment that transformed “I” into a novelist continues into a third, fourth and fifth day. “U” obsesses over formalities, as “I” quietly coaxes her into taking care of herself. As this bizarre farce of a kidnapping stretches towards the inevitable breaking point, “I” starts to discover the truth about “U”, a truth he should never have learned.


“I” has been locked in the closet by his kidnapper “U”.  But while she goes out to school, he manages to find a way to escape the closet.  But as he could easily escape from the apartment, what does “I” discover, when he looks around U’s home.

All this and more in “Imperfect Girl” vol. 2!

What is “Imperfect 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 known as “I” 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 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.

With volume 2, the girl known as U leaves for school and the author, I is left in the closet and has to urinate.

Naturally, he finds a way out of the closet and while he has all the chances to escape, he sees how she is living and starts to feel bad for her.  Wondering if her parents left her all alone in the house?  Wondering if the food that she feeds him is all the food she lives on per day.

Needless to say, his curiosity leads him to stay and stay in the closet, so he can stay even longer.   But will his decision to stay, rather than leave a smart decision or a decision he’ll end up regretting?

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 with vol. 2, it looks like “I” wants to stay, so he can understand “U” and her motivation for kidnapping him.  It’s an interesting volume to say the least and refreshingly dark but yet entertaining at the same time.

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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!

 /></b></a></p> <p style=

The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home – Part 4 by Konami Kanata (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

March 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are passionate about neko (cats) or a person who watched “Chi’s Sweet Home” and want to read the manga, definitely give Vertical Inc.’s “The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home” a try.  And if you have purchased the previous omnibus, the final “The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home” is definitely worth reading!

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© 2016 Konami Kanata. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home – Part 4

STORY AND ART BY: Konami Kanata

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Kodanasha

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Vertical, Inc.

RATED: 8-12 years old

RELEASE DATE: December 20, 2016


After six years in North America the Chi’s Sweet Home saga has finally come to an end! Chi, Blackie, Cocchi and the rest will wrap up their adventures near Green Park in this final collection. But before Chi moves on to her new role as a 3DCG anime star, will she find her new home? Or will she decide to move away in search of new adventures?


When Chi’s human family are moving to France, Chi is reunited with her kitten family.  But which family will she choose?

The story of Chi ends with the final omnibus of Konami Kanata’s “The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home – Part 4”.

What is “The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home”?

In Japan, mangaka Konami Kanata is best known for her neko (cat) manga which goes as far back in 1982 with “Buchi Neko Jamu Jamu” which was published by Kodansha.

But her best known series is “Chi’s Sweet Home”, which was serialized in the Kodansha magazine, “Weekly Morning” since 2004.

With a two-season anime series (2008-2009) and a 3DCG television anime adaptation (2016), a total of 12 graphic novel volumes were published in Japan.  Here in the United States, Vertical Inc. has released four omnibus featuring three volumes each.

The story of “Chi’s Sweet Home” began with a young kitten named Sarah who has wandered away from her mother and siblings while going out for a walk.

Lost and scared, a young boy named Yohei and his family take in the young kitten, despite their apartment complex not allowing pets into their home.

So, the family tries to find a new home for the kitten but to no avail, they end up taking care of the young kitten.

While the kitten is housebroken, it responded to the word “Chi” (in Japanese, the word is “Shi” and the kitten was responding to the word “Shikko” which means urine/pee)  and so, the family calls the kitten by that name.

And as Chi gets used to his human family, he also manages to make friends with other animals living outside the neighborhood.

In “The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home – Part 4”, Chi meets a cat named Cocchi and when Chi takes him to his human family, Cocchi is shocked to see how Chi has been living.

As Cocchi returns back to the park, he meets two other cats that look similar to Chi and he takes Chi to meet with them.  At the park, he learns about family and that his family are cats with tails and that the family he lives with are not cats.  But Chi loves going out to the park and playing with other cats and seeing animals just like him.

Meanwhile, Yohei’s father has seen a poster that have been searching for a cat that looks exactly like chi and Yohe’s parents debate on whether to call the owner since Yohei has bonded with Chi.

As Chi and Cocchi are walking, they see their cat friends with her mother, but when the mother sees Chi, she calls out “Sarah”.  The mother goes searching for Chi and finds him with a human family that has taken him in.

Meanwhile, Yohei’s father gets a job opportunity in France and that means giving up Chi, prompting him to call the number on the poster.

What will happen to Chi?  Especially to young Yohei who has bonded with Chi?


If you are a person wh o loves cats, Konami Kanata’s manga “The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home” will no doubt appeal to you for its storyline showing you two different perspectives, one coming from a young kitten named chi discovering this new world with other animals but his love for the human family that has taken him in, especially the young Yohei.

The other perspective comes from the human family as the parents of Yohei know they are not allowed to take in pets at their apartment complex, but seeing how their young son loves the kitten, they decide to keep it.

But with this final three volumes featured in “The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home”, Yohei’s father sees a poster searching for Chi.  At first, Yohei’s parents are torn because they know their son loves Chi but with a new job offer to go to France, they decided to call the owner.

Meanwhile, as Chi has a new friend named Cocchi that introduces him to other cats at the park, Chi starts to learn about what a cat is and that there are others like him and have similar bodies.  He starts to realize the differences between him and others, including his human family.

But the more he plays in the park, Chi is not aware that he is playing with his siblings and when his real cat mother sees him, mother wants to be reunited with her lost kitten.

As Chi learns about family, which family will he prefer to live with.  His real family along with this siblings or will he want to live with Yohei and family?

A touching final volume, “The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home” ends with a positive, uplifting story that people of all ages can surely enjoy.  Along with volumes 10-12, the omnibus also comes with extras and a bonus cat comic.

If you are passionate about neko (cats) or a person who watched “Chi’s Sweet Home” and want to read the manga, definitely give Vertical Inc.’s “The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home” a try.  And if you have purchased the previous omnibus, the final “The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home” is definitely worth reading!

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Cardfight!! Vanguard Vol. 4 by Akira Itou (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

April 13, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

vanguard-4

“Cardfight!! Vanguard” will surely appeal to those who enjoy the popular Bushiroad game or those who are fan of the franchise and want to read Akira Itou’s latest cardbattle manga series!  If you love cardbattles, especially “Cardfight!! Vanguard”, then this manga is for you!

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Image courtesy of © Akira ITOU 2012. bushiroad. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Cardfight!! Vanguard Vol. 4

STORY AND ART BY: Akira Itou

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Kadokawa Corporation

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Vertical, Inc.

RELEASE DATE: November 25, 2014


There is something that appears to set apart the elite card fighters from the rest. Beyond strong decks, skill, and passion may hide an innate force that grants a few the ability to “read the flow of the cards.” Those who have experienced this call it “PSY Qualia!”

Three card fighters – Ren, Kai, and Aichi – will compete to measure the true strength of this mysterious ability. Is PSY Qualia useful for nothing more than power or are the ties fighters have with their cards key to this unique talent?


In 2011, Akira Itou (Yu-Gi-Oh! R), Satoshi Nakamura (Duel Masters) and Bushiroad president Takaki Kidani created a Japanese media franchise known as “Cardfight!! Vanguard”.

With an official trading card game created by Bushiroad, TMS Entertainment would be responsible for the anime version that would appear on TV Tokyo.  Meanwhile, a manga series would be featured on Kadokawa’s Kerokero Ace Magazine.

And now, “Cardfight!! Vanguard” is being released by Vertical, Inc. in the United States.

The manga series revolves around a shy boy named Aichi Sendou who is a fan of “Cardfight!! Vanguard”, a trading card game that is popular throughout the planet of Cray.

Aichi’s card is Blaster Blade and when his classmate Katsumi Morikawa steals his card, Aichi chases him to the Card Capital and he gets involved in a battle with Toshiki Kai, the cold-hearted high schooler known for his cardplaying abilities, and was responsible for giving Aichi a card when he was a very young boy.

Surprisingly, Aichi Sendou beats Toshiki Kai.

In volume 4 of “Cardfight!! Vanguard”, with word getting around that Aichi had beaten Toshiki Kai, now the head of Foo Fighter Ren Suzugamori has come all the way to visit Toshiki Kai and find out how he could lose to another person.

So, now Ren challenges Toshiki in a card battle to see if Toshiki had weakened and that is why he lost a match.  Will Toshiki win against the head of Foo Fighter?

Meanwhile, Aichi watches from a distance and see two of the greatest card players in battle!


For those familiar with manga series such as “Yu-Gi-Oh”, Akira Itou’s “Cardfight!! Vanguard” has similarities in the fact that it revolves around a protagonist who wants to get better and better in cardfighting.

In this case, because he had beaten Toshiki Kai, now everyone wants to know more about Akira Itou and his abilities, including the great Ren, the head of the Foo Fighter.

But not wanting to see Aichi Sendou jump into this life of card battling, Toshiki tries his best to dissuade Aichi from participating in any more battles, but will he listen?

With this latest volume, the chapters are primarily the matchup between Toshiki and Ren and seeing the strategies employed during their cardbattle.

For the manga series, Akira Itou’s artwork is similar to his work in “Yu-Gi-Oh R” and his artwork and storyline match well together in showing the emotions that these characters go through during battle.

As with all volumes, a card is included and with this manga, “The Dark Dictator” card is included.

Overall, “Cardfight!! Vanguard” will surely appeal to those who enjoy the popular Bushiroad game or those who are fan of the franchise and want to read Akira Itou’s latest cardbattle manga series!  If you love cardbattles, especially “Cardfight!! Vanguard”, then this manga is for you!

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What did you eat yesterday? Vol. 6 by Fumi Yoshinaga (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

January 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

whatdidyoueatyesterday-6

“What did you eat yesterday?” is an entertaining slice-of-life manga series combining relationship angst with cooking that makes this series unique and entertaining. Recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 2014 Fumi Yoshinaga. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: What did you eat yesterday? vol. 6

BY Fumi Yoshinaga (よしなが ふみ)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Weekly Morning

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Vertical, Inc.

RELEASE DATE: January 6, 2015


In this volume of discovery and acceptance, we learn that happiness depends on small constant pleasures (meals first and foremost) and that the reason Kenji fell for Shiro has to do with an ’80s manga.  As the couple’s relationship deepens, author Yoshinaga takes the slice-of-life genre to unique heights.


As Shiro and Kenji start to hang out with another gay couple, Mr. Kohinata and Wataru a.k.a. “Gilbert”, the more Shiro and Kenji start to think more about their relationship.  But what attracted Shiro and Kenji towards each other? And Shiro starts to open up about past relationships with Kenji in volume 6 of “What did you eat yesterday?”.

What is “What did you eat yesterday?”

Mangaka Fumi Yoshinaga is one of the well-known Shojo artists in Japan.

Having had written seven manga series including the popular “Seiyo Kotto Yogashiten” (Antique Bakery), her seventh series titled “Kino Nani Tabeta?” (What did you eat yesterday?) is now being released in the U.S. courtesy of Vertical, Inc.

The series is currently serialized in the manga magazine “Weekly Morning” and was nominated for the first Manga Taisho (an annual Japanese manga award for a series that has less than eight collected volumes).

“What did you eat yesterday?” revolves around Shiro, an accomplished home chef and his relationship and doing what he loves the most…cooking and spending time with his boyfriend Kenji.

The manga series features cooking with recipes and how the food is prepared in combination with a storyline involving Shiro, Kenji and friends.

In volume 6, Shiro and Kenji start spending more time with Mr. Kohinata and Wataru but as they watch another couple, the insecurities of their own relationship starts to come out.

Especially as Kenji doesn’t want Shiro alone with Mr. Kohinata out of jealousy, meanwhile Wataru tries to get Kenji to reveal what he loves about Shiro.

Meanwhile, Shiro prepares bamboo shoot rice, boiled dumplings and miso-stewed mackerel.


This is the first time I have read Fumi Yoshinaga’s “What did you eat yesterday?”.

It’s a fresh spin compared to other cooking manga that I have read in the fact that while you have a story, you also read through the actual cooking recipes as Shiro makes his dish.

Many other manga focus on the food, the taste of the food and what ingredients were utilized. Sometimes, you get a recipe at the end or at the beginning of the manga but the actual cooking is integrated into the storyline.

But it’s not all about cooking as the manga also explores life of a gay couple.

Chapter 41 focuses on Shiro being invited by Mr. Kohinata to watch him play baseball.

Chapter 42 features Shiro’s birthday.  How will he and Kenji celebrate?

Chapter 43 focuses on Shiro and Kenji joining Wataru to watch Mr. Kohinata play baseball.

Chapter 44 features Shiro’s concern about his lawyer friend, Junior-sensei.

Chapter 45 features Shiro and Kenji joining Mr. Kohinata and Wateru at a bar.

Chapter 46 features Shiro and Kenji going out shopping.

Chapter 47 features Shiro receiving a gift from a client.

And Chapter 48 features Shiro preparing miso-stewed mackerel.

For the most part, I found “What did you eat yesterday?” to be a charming manga about love, life and cooking. It’s definitely a fresh and unique take on the cooking genre as Fumi Yoshinaga does a great job of balancing the cooking and story, but also a different perspective as it deals with Shiro, a gay man trying to maintain his relationship with Kenji and exploring his life with other random characters which is fun and interesting.

The artwork has a blend of shojo style but instead of making everyone look glamorous, Fumi Yoshinaga doesn’t do that. It’s more of a natural and realistic take which I enjoyed and her artwork is not too busy!

With volume 6, I noticed that both Shiro and Kenji are getting closer but yet must deal with insecurities or emotions that they have held-in and discuss them.  Especially if it means past relationships.

Overall, “What did you eat yesterday?” is an entertaining slice-of-life manga series combining relationship angst with cooking that makes this series unique and entertaining.

Recommended!

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What did you eat yesterday? Vol. 5 by Fumi Yoshinaga (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

November 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

whatdidyoueatyesterday-5

I found “What did you eat yesterday?” to be a charming, fresh and unique cooking and romantic comedy manga series worth reading!  Recommended!

 /></b></a></p> <p style=

Image courtesy of © 2014 Fumi Yoshinaga. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: What did you eat yesterday? vol. 5

BY Fumi Yoshinaga (よしなが ふみ)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Weekly Morning

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Vertical, Inc.

RELEASE DATE: November 4, 2014


A hard-working middle-aged gay couple in Tokyo come to enjoy the finer moments of life through food. After long days at work, either in the law firm or the hair salon, Shiro and Kenji will always have down time together by the dinner table, where they can discuss their troubles, hash out their feelings and enjoy delicately prepared home cooked meals!

Accomplished home chef though he might be, Shiro proceeds on the assumption that no two of his curries will ever taste the same.


Mangaka Fumi Yoshinaga is one of the well-known Shojo artists in Japan.

Having had written seven manga series including the popular “Seiyo Kotto Yogashiten” (Antique Bakery), her seventh series titled “Kino Nani Tabeta?” (What did you eat yesterday?) is now being released in the U.S. courtesy of Vertical, Inc.

The series is currently serialized in the manga magazine “Weekly Morning” and was nominated for the first Manga Taisho (an annual Japanese manga award for a series that has less than eight collected volumes).

“What did you eat yesterday?” revolves around Shiro, an accomplished home chef and his relationship and doing what he loves the most…cooking and spending time with his boyfriend Kenji.

 


This is the first time I have read Fumi Yoshinaga’s “What did you eat yesterday?”.

It’s a fresh spin compared to other cooking manga that I have read in the fact that while you have a story, you also read through the actual cooking recipes as Shiro makes his dish.

Many other manga focus on the food, the taste of the food and what ingredients were utilized.  Sometimes, you get a recipe at the end or at the beginning of the manga but the actual cooking is integrated into the storyline.

But it’s not all about cooking as the manga also explores life of a gay couple.

Chapter 33 focuses on Shiro visiting a friend’s home and her husband bringing a gay friend to meet Shiro (despite Shiro already being in a relationship with Kenji) and Shiro’s experience meeting this new man, Mr. Kohinata.

Chapter 34 revolves around Kenji and his family, but also getting to know how he came from a dysfunctional family.

Chapter 35 is rather interesting as it deals with Shiro going to the market to purchase food but wondering if the cashier dislikes him.

Chapter 36 features Mr. Kohinata inviting Shiro for dinner and Shiro feeling guilty about going.

Chapter 37 features Kenji wanting to get an engagement ring with Shiro.

Chapter 38 features Shiro and Kenji going out on a double date with Mr. Kohinata and Wataru.

Chapter 39 features Shiro going to his parents home every New Year’s Eve.

And Chapter 40 deals with a lawyer who needs Shiro’s help for a jury trial.

For the most part, I found “What did you eat yesterday?” to be a charming manga about love, life and cooking.  It’s definitely a fresh and unique take on the cooking genre as Fumi Yoshinaga does a great job of balancing the cooking and story, but also a different perspective as it deals with Shiro, a gay man trying to maintain his relationship with Kenji and exploring his life with other random characters which is fun and interesting.

The artwork has a blend of shojo style but instead of making everyone look glamorous, Fumi Yoshinaga doesn’t do that.  It’s more of a natural and realistic take which I enjoyed and her artwork is not too busy!

Overall, I found “What did you eat yesterday?” to be a charming, fresh and unique cooking and romantic comedy manga series worth reading!  Recommended!

 /></b></a></p> <p style=

Attack on Titan: Before the Fall by Ryo Suzukake and Art by Thores Shibamoto (a J!-ENT Book Review)

October 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

attackontitan

“Attack on Titan: Before the Fall” is an entertaining book that I recommend for those who have knowledge of the series. Many fans of the “Attack on Titan” series will no doubt enjoy the way of how the equipment was found and developed but also be entranced by the development of the characters and their unique skills. If you enjoy “Attack on Titan”, you will definitely want to give the prequel “Before the Fall” a chance!  Recommended.

 

TITLE: Attack on Titan: Before the Fall

BY: Ryo Suzukake and Art by Thores Shibamoto

PUBLISHER: Vertical Inc.

PAGE COUNT: 204

RELEASED: September 7, 2014

Before the fall, and before the trials of “the Titan’s son” Kyklo, a young smith by the name of Angel Aaltonen grappled with the giants as only a craftsman could…

The first of the three-part Before the Fall light novels, whose second and third installments have been adapted into a manga of the same name, this prequel of prequels details the origins of the devices that humanity developed to take on the mysterious Titans.

Back in 2006, Hajime Isayama wrote a 65-page one-shot of “Shingeki no Kyojin”. Inspired during an encounter with an irate customer while working at an internet cafe, the encounter would eventually be the basis of his hit series which is known internationally as “Attack on Titan”.

In 2009, “Shingeki no Kyojin” began serialization in Kodanasha’s “Bessatsu Shonen Magazine” and has spawned a popular manga and anime series, three light novel volumes, multiple video games, manga spin-offs and a live-action film set for release in theaters in 2015.

For author Ryo Suzukake, his book “Attack on Titan: Before the Fall” was not a series to feature the primary characters from the series, but to create a story that is based on whatever was left of humanity and needing the weaponry to fight against the Titans.

The first of the three-part “Before the Fall” light novels, whose second and third installments have been adapted into a manga of the same name, this prequel of prequels details the origins of the devices that humanity has developed to take on the Titans.

“Before the Fall” takes place when only less than 500,000 humans were left after being decimated by the mysterious behemoths known as Titans.   To protect what was left of humanity, three walls…Wall Maria, Wall Rose and  Wall Sheena were created in hopes that it would be enough to keep the Titans away.     This story takes place before the fall of Wall Maria (which more can also be read or viewed in the popular “Attack on Titan” hit manga or anime series).

But in the Shiganshina District, working in Wall Maria is craftsmen Angel Aaltonen, a craftsman who along with his  assistant Corina Ilmari and his close friends Solm, Maria and alchemist Xenophon are enjoying the peace behind the walls that protect them from danger.

Danger from behemoths known as Titans.  Who are they?  What are they?  Angel and his friends don’t know, but to see the Survey Corps decimated each time they go outside of the city, he knows that they need better weaponry but what kind of weaponry will defeat these Titans?

But one day, Angel’s life would change as the Titans would enter the city and nearly destroy everything in its path.

For Angel, he knows he has to craft something to give humanity a chance and through many adventures he will discover the materials that will no doubt give humanity a fighting chance!

 

For any reader and viewer that has been captivated by “Attack on Titan”, Ryo Suzukake’s book “Attack on Titan: Before the Fall” is an amusing and exciting side-story as it features an adventurous storyline that is less about those who fight with the behemoths known as the titans but regular normal people living within the city and trying to live a normal life and survive, despite a major threat looming outside their great walls.

Having not seen a Titan, they do know that the Survey Corps has dwindled each time they have gone outside to fight and with peace in the area, that peace is disturbed when body parts are thrown over the walls and it begins to cause panic and fear as they wonder what kind of thing could have caused such disturbance.

Suffice to say, society has a curiosity of what is outside the walls and as for craftsman, Angel Aaltonen, his work is creating weapons for the Survey Corps, as his words are “A Best Offense is a Best Defense”.

But when the Titans make their presence known inside the city and watch as humanity is slowly crushed.  Angel and his friends are in a panic and are attacked as their curiosity to see a Titan upfront leads to the demise of people that are close to Angel.  Watch the Titans, as the smiling behemoths would grab humans just to snap their bodies or trample them, and pick them up and eat them just to regurgitate and spit whatever is left of a person out of their mouths.

To find out that all weapons that have been created are not working and there is no weakness.  Could these Titans be invulnerable?

Just when you think that life for humanity shows no signs of any chance of fighting back, Angel and his friends learn about Iron Bamboo.  Bamboo laced with iron and despite its consistency, still remains light.  But can something be crafted with it and what is it about this iron bamboo that would make it a great weapon or perhaps a best offense or defense?  That is what Angel must find out and they need to get more of it.

Part of what is alluring about the storyline is seeing how Angel and his friends go from calm individuals to sickened and scared as the Titans invade their home and having to endure a journey to discover other artifacts in order to fight evil.  As the Titans are not the only ones causing fear, as there are anti-establishment forces also wanting to kill anyone who comes from within the walls.

But aside from the Titans themselves and those  who live behind the walls, the most important correlation are the contraptions that we see in the “Attack on Titan” manga and anime series.   For example, the importance of the Vertical Maneuvering Equipment, or the grappling hook and how was it discovered, how was it implemented and how it relates to the character, Angel.

For Ryo Suzukake, he manages to make the connection between the popular hit series and his manga by showing us how the Vertical Maneuvering Equipment was developed and the important materials that were needed to created it.  But most importantly, how the weak spot of the Titan was discovered with hopes that this will give humanity a fighting chance.

But for Angel and his friends, it’s the pursuit of how they came about these materials and how they were tested and the deadly adventures just to obtain the materials, is what makes this book so captivating.

This first light novel (of the three part “Before the Fall” light novels) does feature a few pages with illustrations by Thores Shibamoto but “Attack on Titan: Before the Fall” is a prequel that is all about the story and less about the illustrations.  A story about a craftsman, Angel who will eventually change after the experience and contact with the Titans but to see people he once knew, people he was close with, under the perilous attacks of the deadly Titans.

Overall, “Attack on Titan: Before the Fall” is an entertaining book that I recommend for those who have knowledge of the series.  Many fans of the “Attack on Titan” series will no doubt enjoy the way of how the equipment was found and developed but also be entranced by the development of the characters and their unique skills.

If you enjoy “Attack on Titan”, you will definitely want to give the prequel “Before the Fall” a chance!  Recommended.

Pro Bono by Seicho Matsumoto (a J!-ENT Book Review)

August 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A shocking, well-written and overall, a wonderful crime novel.  A shocking story about difficult choices and revenge,  Seicho Matsumoto’s hit novel “Pro Bono” arrives to American shores and this novel is highly recommended!

 

TITLE: Pro Bono

BY: Seicho Matsumoto (松本 清張) / Translated from Japan to English by Andrew Clare

PUBLISHER: Vertical, Inc.

PAGE COUNT: 290 Pages

RELEASED: July 3, 2012

In Early 1960’s Japan, Kiriko, a poor young woman, travels from Kyushu to Tokyo to seek the aid of renowned criminal defense lawyer Kinzo Otsuka.  Her brother stands accused of a murder, and Kiriko believes Otsuka is the only one who can prove him innocent.

In Japan, Seicho Matsumoto is one of the most well-known crime fiction writers.  Having produced 450 works (beginning at the age of 40) until his death in 1992, Matsumoto’s work was known to be dark but also exposing the corruption not just in the underworld but also among police officials.

Having won many awards in Japan and one of the best selling and highest earning authors of the 1960’s.  Matsumoto wrote the story “Pro Bono” which was serialized in a women’s publication from 1959-1960 and was made into a novel in 1961.

The drama was well-received that it’s popularity led to a TV drama being made in 1965 and once again in 1977 and special dramas in 1983, 1991, 1997 and in 2003.  And to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Seicho Matsumoto’s birth, a special aired in television in 2010.

In America, “Pro Bono” will be released in America courtesy of Vertical, Inc. and featuring an English translation by Andrew Clare.

“Pro Bono” revolves around a young woman named Kiriko Yanagida who travels from Kyushu to Tokyo to meet with renown criminal defense lawyer Kinzo Otsuka.

Kiriko’s brother Masao, a teacher, is a suspect of a robbery and murder of a 65-year-old woman.  When he was arrested, her brother confessed but changed his mind after meeting with a public prosecutor.

Because of the technicality, it would be difficult to prove Masao’s innocence, so she had to meet with the best criminal defense attorney in Tokyo.

But because she has no money to pay for the high attorney’s fees, Kinzo feels its a waste of her time and money to travel to Tokyo to get him to work on this case.  For one, he doesn’t work via pro bono and second, all that is on his mind is being with his girlfriend Michiko Kono, a restaurant owner in the city.

Rejected by Otsuka, she tries to call and see if he would try to take her case but she is once again denied by his assistant Mr. Okamura because she doesn’t have the money to afford a well-known attorney.  And Kiriko fels that there is no hope for poor people looking for help.

While talking on the photo to Okamura, a young journalist named Keiichi Abe from “Comment” magazine was listening to her story and when he talked to her about her trying to get help from Otsuka, he then is drawn in by her story and starts to do his own research on the Masao Yanagida case.

It is true that Masao Yanagida knew the 65-year-old woman who was killed.  She was a money lender that loaned Masao  and what happened was that Masao Yanagida was entrusted to safekeep nearly 38,000 yen for a school excursion.  Unfortunately, he lost the money and in order to make up that money he lost, he took out a high interest loan from the woman.

Unable to pay the debt in time, the woman harassed Yanagida for payment of the loan and one night, he went to visit the woman.

Yanagida said when he got to the woman’s home, she was dead.  Instead of calling authorities, he figured he could eliminate his debt by tearing out the promissory note of what he owed her, so he would not be in trouble for the debt.  But because of the torn note and fingerprints,  it led to police to Masao Yanagida.

Masao told police that he was innocent and repeated his story that he did not kill the woman, she was dead when he got there.  But due to the evidence and for him trying to cover up his debt, the Criminal Investigation section maintained that Yanagida is the real killer.

Looking over the evidence, journalist Keiichi Abe believes that Masao Yanagida is innocent.

And because Kiriko was unable to get Otsuka to defend her brother, he was appointed an attorney by the court and waiting on appeals, he died in prison.

Kiriko wrote Otsuka a letter letting him know that her brother died in disgrace and branded a common thief and murderer.

Bothered by the letter, Otsuka then does his own research and realizes that her brother was probably innocent and he could have saved her, but she didn’t have the money to pay.  But if he took the job via pro bono, he probably could have had him acquitted.

But a few years later, when someone very close to Otsuka is accused for a crime that she did not commit, the one person can easily have her acquitted for the murder, happens to be the person that he turned down a few years ago, Kiriko Yanagida.

“Pro Bono” is a fascinating novel.  We are told a story from three different individuals, Kiriko Yanagida, the sister of a young man who is falsely accused for murder and jilted by the lawyer who can help him.  We have renown criminal defense lawyer Kinzo Otsuka, who is very well-known, living the good life and having an affair with a restaurant owner named Michiko Kono.  And we have a young magazine journalist named Keiichi Abe, a man who wants to help prove Masao Yanagida’s innocence but also wanting to help Kiriko.

The first half of the story deals with Kiriko trying to get help from Otsuka, while Keiichi Abe investigates what took place on the tragic night that Masao Yanagida was accused of murder.  The second half deals with Otsuka now looking into the murder case out of guilt because Masao Yanagida has died in prison.  And the third part of the story deals with another murder, but deals with one of the most calculating form of revenge I have ever read in a novel.

What makes Seicho Matsumoto’s “Pro Bono” so fascinating is that he goes into the detail of the case.  It’s like reading an actual case file from detectives and using all information possible to figure out innocence or one being guilty.  The reader gets to see these files laid out by Matsumoto throughout the novel, including letters of correspondence between Kiriko and Otsuka.

And while there are a lot of technical situations about the crime featured in the book that would make most readers interested in crime cases (as well as those who want to be law students or detectives), The first 75% of the book is slowly paced but once you get to the final 25% of the book, the story goes on a tangent which surprised me at first, because it focused on Kiriko and other characters, getting away from both Otsuke and Abe.

But you realize that Seicho Matsumoto was building up the story for something really magnificent and shocking.  And let’s just say that the final chapters of “Pro Bono” were shocking and something I didn’t see coming at all.

Overall, “Pro Bono” is a fantastic novel.  It may have been written back in 1959-1960 but by no means does the storyline’s era impedes one’s enjoyment of this novel.  In fact, if I didn’t know this was set in the 1960’s, one can think this was written during any decade.  The setting is less important than the characters.  It’s the characters and the situations that really get interesting and Seicho Matsumo slowly gets people into the whole criminal case, but then strays away from it, making you question why he leaves from the primary case involving her brother, until you realize what he is actually setting up for the primary characters.

I also have to give credit to Andrew Clare for the translation of this novel.  Especially with all the technical details involved, I’m quite appreciative of Clare and also Vertical, Inc. in bringing a Seicho Matsumoto novel to the United States.  And I can only hope that more of his work is translated and released stateside.

A shocking, well-written and overall, a wonderful crime novel, Seicho Matsumoto’s “Pro Bono” is highly recommended!

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