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Fire Punch vol. 1 – Story and Art by Tatsuki Fujimoto (Viz Signature)

February 10, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

While Fujimoto’s artwork is great, his storytelling for vol. 1 is just as exceptional.  An original story, a captivating plot and I can’t wait for vol. 2 of “Fire Punch”.  Recommended!

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© 2016 FIREPUNCH/Tatsuki Fujimoto. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Fire Punch vol. 1

STORY & ART BY: Tatsuki Fujimoto

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Kodansha, Ltd.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Viz Signature

RATED: M for Mature

RELEASE DATE: January 16, 2018


In a frozen dystopia where inhabitants eat flesh to survive, can the destructive powers of fire bring salvation?

In the not-too-distant past, the Ice Witch blankets the world in snow, starvation, and madness, leading the inhabitants to seek their salvation in fire. With that, an unusual destiny unfolds for two young orphans, Agni and Luna, blessed with the ability to regenerate. But will this ability prove to be more of a curse than a blessing?

Orphaned siblings Agni and Luna, like the Ice Witch who cursed their world, are two of the “blessed,” humans who hold special abilities. However, not all who are blessed are friendly, and after another of their kind attacks him and decimates his village, Agni fights to survive, vowing revenge.


From mangaka Tatsuki Fujimoto comes his shonen manga “Fire Punch”.

Serialized in Shonen Jump from April 2016 through January 2018, the manga has been collected into 8 manga volumes and now the manga series will be released in North America courtesy of Viz Signature.

The series is set during a time when humanity is going through a major crisis as chaos and famine rules the land.  But in this world are people with special abilities known as the “Blessed”.

Agni and his younger sister Luna are Blessed who have regenerative powers.  While Agni knows how to regenerate, Luna is unable to regenerate that quickly yet.

And the two are staying with villagers who allowed them to stay and the two are helping villagers by giving them food to eat.  Primarily, Agni is chopping his arm off and giving them a chance to eat his arm (as he can easily regenerate and grow another).

While not all villagers resort to cannibalism, many are dying because they don’t want to eat human flesh, while those who do eat, are among the living.

One day, a military group lands in the area by plane and their leader Doma tells them that there is a war going on and they exhausted their supplies.  The soldiers have come to the village to take what they want and in exchange, they will get to live in Behemdorg as a gesture of goodwill.

The war is to defeat the Ice Witch in hopes to bring green back to the world.

When the soldiers inspect the village and report that the villagers are eating human remains, Doma and his soldiers leave, not before using his special ability, to ignite and burn the whole village and its people down.

Everyone and the entire village is burned to death and while Agni’s regeneration kicks in, but her sister, her regenerative powers are too weak and she gives him one message before he dies…”Live”.

For a year, Agni would live but in pain as the flames around his body never subsided.  By year three, he was able to walk, still coughing up blood and by year five, he was able to acclimate to the pain but unable to breathe well due to the flames.

By year eight, Agni taught himself how to control his regenerative powers and ways to confine the flames to his lower body away from his head and so he is able to breathe.

And now, Agni has a reason to live and that is to get revenge on Doma, the man who killed his his sister and burn him alive.


“Fire Punch” is a manga series that is quite original.   Sure, we see regeneration in anime series like “Attack on Titan” but “Fire Punch” is interesting in the fact that the story takes place where humanity is in chaos due to famine and the world being turned to ice.  And among the humans still alive, there are those with special abilities.

The story begins with a brother and sister trying to stay alive amidst all the chaos but are quick to learn that with the war, life is not safe at all.  Agni and his sister managed to survive by using their regenerative powers to save a village by Agni chopping his arm off to feed families.  He could do it because he could easily regenerate his arm right back.

But when soldiers find out that the villagers have resorted to cannibalism, their superior Doma has the village and its people scorched to death with his power.

While Agni was able to regenerate, his sister has not and over the years, Agni has learned to control his power and his thirst for revenge gets stronger.

The story also introduces us to a boy (who looks like a girl) named Sun.  Sun decides to follow Agni around as he saved her.  While Sun has a weak power of electricity, because Agni killed soldiers trying to save Sun and others, he is now a target.

But the soldiers want to capture him and use him as a weapon to fight the Ice Witch, the one they blame for turning their land into ice.

But Agni is headed to the land of Behemdorg to get his revenge.  But will he live long enough to get there?

Overall, this is a very fascinating story about revenge.  Tatsuki Fujimoto does an excellent job with overall character designs and his artwork manages to capture the desolation of the area but showing the grief on the people’s faces.

And while Fujimoto’s artwork is great, his storytelling for vol. 1 is just as exceptional.  An original story, a captivating plot and I can’t wait for vol. 2 of “Fire Punch”.

Recommended!

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

November 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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

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


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

STORY BY: KOHSKE

ART BY: Syuhei Kamo

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shinchosha Publishing Co.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Viz Signature

RATED: M for Mature

Available on October 10, 2017


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

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


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

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

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

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

What is “Gangsta.”?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Golden Kamuy vol. 2 – Story & Art by Satoru Noda (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

October 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Satoru Noda’s “Golden Kamuy” is turning out to be a fantastic, action-packed manga series worth reading and no doubt, one of the more captivating series that came out in the U.S. in 2017!

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© 2014 Satoru Noda. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Golden Kamuy vol. 2

STORY AND ART BY: Story and Art by Satoru Noda

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: SHUEISHA, Inc.

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

RATED: M for Mature

RELEASE DATE: September 19, 2017


In the early 20th century, Russo-Japanese War veteran Saichi Sugimoto searches the wilderness of the Japanese frontier of Hokkaido for a hoard of hidden gold. With only a cryptic map and a native Ainu girl to help him, Saichi must also deal with every murderous cutthroat, bandit and rogue who knows about the treasure!


While Sugimoto and Asirpa are living on the land, they are unaware that soldiers of the deadly 7th Division of the Imperial Japanese Army are after them.  And how will Sugimoto be treated when Asirpa brings him to her Ainu village?

All this and more in volume 2 of Satoru Noda’s award-winning manga series, “Golden Kamuy”!

What is “Golden Kamuy”?

From Satoru Noda comes his award winning manga series “Golden Kamuy”.

Written and art by Satoru Noda, the mangaka also worked with Yu Nakagawa in ensure authenticity of the Ainu language.

The manga series won the 9th Manga Taisho award and with ten volumes currently printed in Japan, the first volume of “Golden Kamuy” will be available in the United States courtesy of Viz Signature on June 2017.

The series revolves around a soldier named Saichi Sugimoto who fought in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 and survived with savagery and toughness.  And because of his braveness, he is known as “Immortal Sugimoto”.

Because his best friend asked him before his death on the battlefield for Sugimoto to take care of his wife and children, Sugimoto hears of a story about hidden Ainu gold (the Ainu are the indigenous people of Japan).  One man killed the Ainu hiding the gold and stole around Y80,000 and buried the gold somewhere in Hokkaido.

While the man was caught and thrown into Abashiri prison, he was sentenced to death and the map of where the gold was hidden was tattooed on the backs of 24 prisoners.

This was told to Sugimoto by a drunken man.  When Sugimoto finds the man killed by a bear, he notices that he had a tattoo all over his back and that the story must be true.

But when the bear goes for an attack on Sugimoto, he is saved by an Ainu girl named Asirpa, a daughter of one of the Ainu men who was killed by those hunting for Ainu gold.

But as Sugimoto and Asirpa team up to find the gold, many dangerous hunters including the deadly 7th Division of the Imperial Japanese Army led by Lt. Tsurumi.


A soldier and an Ainu girl in search of gold stolen from the Ainu people.  The story is about a man named Saichi Sugimoto, a kind hearted man who was turned into a soldier known as “Immortal Sugimoto” during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904.

With a friend’s final dying wish for Sugimoto to take care of his wife and children, that would require money which Sugimoto doesn’t have.  But when he hears about gold that was hidden in Hokkaido, gold stolen from the Ainu people, he teams up with a Ainu girl, who knows how to hunt and also use the wild to heal people, but also her father was killed because of the gold.

Sugimoto is not interested in 50/50, just a small share and wants to give most of it to Asirpa but also to help her get revenge on the people who killed her father.

But immediately, other hunters looking for the gold, are now also hunting for Sugimoto and Asirpa .  Can these two survive?  And what will the two learn as they must take on other hunters and soldiers who are also looking for the gold?

In the second issue, the soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army are on the hunt for Sugimoto and Asirpa.  Also, in this volume, what happens when Asirpa takes Sugimoto to her Ainu village and what will he learn more about Ainu culture?

And what happens when the the twisted Tsurumi has captured Sugimoto and tortures him?  Will someone rescue him?

The writing for the second volume manages to captivate me.  One for its details of Ainu culture, when it comes to hunting and their perspectives towards animal life and traditions and then you have this storyline of the bonding between Sugimoto and Asirpa, almost like a father and daughter relationship and wanting to see them survive through all this.

But most importantly, it’s great that Satoru Noda is consulting with Yu Nakagawa in regards to Ainu language and culture.  For those not familiar with Ainu in Japan, they have a similar unfair treatment in society (as Native Americans in the United States) and prejudice runs rampant in various parts of Japan towards the indigenous Ainu people.  So, it takes great care of making sure to capture the culture on the pages of “Golden Kamuy”.

Satoru Noda’s “Golden Kamuy” is turning out to be a fantastic, action-packed manga series worth reading and no doubt, one of the more captivating series that came out in the U.S. in 2017!

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Golden Kamuy vol. 1 – Story & Art by Satoru Noda (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

June 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

While I have only read one volume, Satoru Noda’s “Golden Kamuy” is turning out to be a fantastic, action-packed manga series worth reading!

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© 2014 Satoru Noda. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Golden Kamuy vol. 1

STORY AND ART BY: Story and Art by Satoru Noda

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: SHUEISHA, Inc.

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

RATED: M for Mature

RELEASE DATE: June 20, 2017


In the early 20th century, Russo-Japanese War veteran Saichi Sugimoto searches the wilderness of the Japanese frontier of Hokkaido for a hoard of hidden gold. With only a cryptic map and a native Ainu girl to help him, Saichi must also deal with every murderous cutthroat, bandit and rogue who knows about the treasure!

“Immortal Sugimoto,” a survivor of the assault on 203 Meter Hill during the Russo-Japanese War, now scratches out a meager existence in the post-war gold rush in the wild frontier of Hokkaido. A chance encounter in the woods puts a map to a hidden fortune of Ainu gold in his hands, but Sugimoto is not the only interested party, and everyone who knows about the gold will kill to possess it!


From Satoru Noda comes his award winning manga series “Golden Kamuy”.

Written and art by Satoru Noda, the mangaka also worked with Yu Nakagawa in ensure authenticity of the Ainu language.

The manga series won the 9th Manga Taisho award and with ten volumes currently printed in Japan, the first volume of “Golden Kamuy” will be available in the United States courtesy of Viz Signature on June 2017.

The series revolves around a soldier named Saichi Sugimoto who fought in the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 and survived with savagery and toughness.  And because of his braveness, he is known as “Immortal Sugimoto”.

Because his best friend asked him before his death on the battlefield for Sugimoto to take care of his wife and children, Sugimoto hears of a story about hidden Ainu gold (the Ainu are the indigenous people of Japan).  One man killed the Ainu hiding the gold and stole around Y80,000 and buried the gold somewhere in Hokkaido.

While the man was caught and thrown into Abashiri prison, he was sentenced to death and the map of where the gold was hidden was tattooed on the backs of 24 prisoners.

This was told to Sugimoto by a drunken man.  When Sugimoto finds the man killed by a bear, he notices that he had a tattoo all over his back and that the story must be true.

But when the bear goes for an attack on Sugimoto, he is saved by an Ainu girl named Asirpa, a daughter of one of the Ainu men who was killed by those hunting for Ainu gold.

But as Sugimoto and Asirpa team up to find the gold, many dangerous hunters including the deadly 7th Division of the Imperial Japanese Army led by Lt. Tsurumi.


A soldier and an Ainu girl in search of gold stolen from the Ainu people.  The story is about a man named Saichi Sugimoto, a kind hearted man who was turned into a soldier known as “Immortal Sugimoto” during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904.

With a friend’s final dying wish for Sugimoto to take care of his wife and children, that would require money which Sugimoto doesn’t have.  But when he hears about gold that was hidden in Hokkaido, gold stolen from the Ainu people, he teams up with a Ainu girl, who knows how to hunt and also use the wild to heal people, but also her father was killed because of the gold.

Sugimoto is not interested in 50/50, just a small share and wants to give most of it to Asirpa but also to help her get revenge on the people who killed her father.

But immediately, other hunters looking for the gold, are now also hunting for Sugimoto and Asirpa .  Can these two survive?  And what will the two learn as they must take on other hunters and soldiers who are also looking for the gold?

The writing for the first volume manages to establish the primary two characters but also the dangerous environment that Sugimoto and Asirpa are thursted into.  With the two trying to find prisoners who have the map tattoo on their backs, it’s not going to be easy as gold hunters and also the 7th Division of the Imperial Japanese Army are after them.  Illustration is fantastic and manages to capture emotion but also the action.

But most importantly, it’s great that Satoru Noda is consulting with Yu Nakagawa in regards to Ainu language and culture.  For those not familiar with Ainu in Japan, they have a similar unfair treatment in society (as Native Americans in the United States) and prejudice runs rampant in various parts of Japan towards the indigenous Ainu people.  So, it takes great care of making sure to capture the culture on the pages of “Golden Kamuy”.

While I have only read one volume, Satoru Noda’s “Golden Kamuy” is turning out to be a fantastic, action-packed manga series worth reading!

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Sunny Vol. 5 by Taiyo Matsumoto (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

December 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A realistic manga series on the life of a group of orphans struggling with the fact that they have been abandoned or have no family members to take care of them, and their longing for family. A “Slice of life” type manga series, Taiyo Matsumoto’s “Sunny” vol. 4 is recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 2011 Taiyo Matsumoto. All Rights Reserved.


MANGA TITLE: Sunny Vol. 5

STORY AND ART BY: Taiyou Matsumoto (松本大洋)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shogakukan

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

RATED: T for Teen

RELEASE DATE: July 7, 2016


The fifth installment of this series focused on the young lives of a group of foster children displays the breathtaking peaks and troubled flatlands of their imaginations.


For the orphans of the Star Kids Home, the children who dream about having a family after being abandoned by their own parents or lost their parents, can only hope that life will become much happier. But for now, all they have is each other.

In volume 5 of “Sunny”, Haruo hangs out with his troublemaker baseball playing friend Tsuda.  What happens when Sei decides to leave the orphanage by stealing a car?  A day in the life of Junsuke who has caught a fever. Also, what happens when Kenji meets a rebellious girl named Haruna?  And what happens when Megumu meets her aunt and uncle for the day?

Read about the lives of these orphans at the Star Kids Home in the fifth volume of Taiyo Matsumoto’s “Sunny”!

What is “Sunny”?

In Japan, mangaka Taiyo Matsumoto is well known for his work in manga series such as “Tekkonkinkreet”, “GoGo Monster”, “Ping Pong” and “Number Five”.

While Taiyo Matsumoto’s work has been released in the U.S., “Sunny” has received the Viz Signature treatment and is printed in hardback.

“Sunny” is a series set during the 1970s and revolves around a group of children and teenagers who live at an orphanage and each chapter deals with a children’s life, with other orphans and also the heartbreak they endure of being left by their parents.

The title of the manga series is derived from a broken down Nissan Sunny 1200 in front of the orphanage which the children use as a getaway vehicle for imaginary adventures, a clubhouse and more.


Another heartfelt volume of “Sunny” as the orphans of Star Kids Home begin to miss their own families and wonder how long they will be stuck at an orphanage.

We have seen rebellious Haruo get into trouble, but this time he sees another person that is slightly older than him but Haruo sees how much trouble he has gotten into.

Another is involving Sei, the orphan who wears glasses, mild-mannered and misses his parents immensely.  And now, he makes his move to leave the orphanage.

Volume 5 also gives us a story around Junsuke, which the cover of vol. 5 depicts the young child with a cold.   Also, a story revolving around Kenji when he meets a rebellious girl named Haruna and he falls for her.

And another intersting story as Makio returns to the orphanage to introduce everyone to his girlfriend Nanako and how everyone reacts to Makio’s return.

If there is one aspect of Japanese culture that many westerners never get to see in manga or anime, it’s life of orphans at a Japanese orphanage.

With Taiyo Matsumoto’s manga “Sunny”, the manga gives readers a chance to read a slice-of-life manga series of various children of different ages living at an orphanage and the challenges they have. May it be in school, with other children and also the feeling of one’s self-worth after being left behind by their family.

What I found very interesting with “Sunny” is that in this volume, we get to see one of the orphans leave the orphanage but will life outside of the orphanage be positive? And we also get to see how orphanage and being left behind by your parents is starting to affect Haruo.

The artwork of Taiyo Matsumoto is always interesting to see. His style is unique and some girls, the way he makes those rosy cheeks look like uneven smudges that change from page to page, but it’s the uniqueness that I have come to appreciate about Matsumoto’s artwork. But of course, it’s his stories that are captivating and while “Sunny” is a slice-of-life manga series, it’s a fresh manga style to have released in the US, something different and unique.

As with the last volume, Viz Media is giving “Sunny” the Viz Signature hardback treatment for each release, thus the series does cost a bit more than a standard manga series.

Overall, “Sunny” is an innocent, real slice-of-life manga series about children at an orphanage and the experiences (happy and sad) that each have to deal with in their young lives. You don’t really find these type of manga in the U.S…. So, for anyone wanting some real, different or unique, then I definitely recommend Taiyo Matsuoto’s “Sunny”.

“Sunny” vol. 5 is recommended!

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Gangsta: Cursed. Ep_Marco Adriano Vol. 1 – Story by KOHSKE, Art by Syuhei Kamo (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

December 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are reading KOHSKE’s “Gangsta.”, then “Gangsta: Cursed. Ep_Marco Adriano” vol. 1 is a no-brainer.  Violent, action-packed and an origin story worth reading! 

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


MANGA TITLE: Gangsta: Cursed. Ep_Marco Adriano Vol. 1

STORY BY: KOHSKE

ART BY: Syuhei Kamo

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shinchosha Publishing Co.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: Viz Signature

RATED: M for Mature

Available on February 18, 2014


The man named Marco Adriano is a loyal and beloved member of the Cristiano Family, helping them protect the persecuted Twilight population in the city of Ergastulum. But he was once a boy codenamed “Spas,” raised as a Hunter and assigned to the Destroyers Second Group for a single purpose: to track down and kill Twilights.

Killing is all Spas has ever known, and he does it without doubt or remorse. Taught to believe he’s ridding the world of monsters, he sees the extermination of the Twilights as a necessary step toward making Ergastulum a safer place. Until the day when he’s forced to confront the horrifying truth that the real monster might be…him.

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


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

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

What is “Gangsta.”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

In volume 2, a gang war seems to be inevitable as Corsica and Cristiano are engaged in a battle of outwitting each other and destroy each other’s families with the use of Twilights. But what happens when the Handymen come and Nic must take on another Twilight A/O.

And for volume 3, we learn about the history of Nic and Worick and how they met. The volume also provides valuable insight to the Twilights, the mafia families and the employment plus backstory of the hatred towards the Twilights.

In volume 3 sets up the storyline of what is a Twilight, volume 4 features a storyline in which the Twilights have become the hunted as anti-Twilights have infiltrated Ergastulum. Many Twilights are killed in the process but the Cristiano Family led by Loretta Cristiano Amodio, are trying to make sure that the Twilights are protected. And an important family for the Monroe Family which distributes Cerebret, essential to the survival of Twilights.

And as the Handymen are hired to protect them, what happens when a mysterious group infiltrates the Cristiano’s club and tries to massacre everyone including Loretta and those employed by the Cristiano and Monroe Family.

This could be the beginning of a major gang war in Ergastulum!

In volume 4, with the shocking massacre by the Hunters, word is spreading of what has happened to the Cristiano family and the Monroe family are put in alert as they know they will be next. Meanwhile, the sadistic hunters consisting of Erica and Mikhail have targeted the Paulklee Guild for their next massacre where Doug, Ginger and Gina Paulklee live.

Meanwhile, Nicolas worries what will happen to his love Constance Raveau and Worick Arcangelo does what he can to protect the Monroe family.

But more hunters start to emerge!

In volume 5, out of nowhere, two hunters come out and slaughters hundreds of Twilights. Could it be the making of a major gang war in the city?

In volume 6, with Delico Monroe finding out that his long lost sister was involved in the slaughter of Twilights, he, Yang with the help of The Handymen’s Nicolas Brown go to stop Erica, but they come across the other hunter, a young powerful boy named Mikhail.

In order to fight against the powerful hunters, Mikhail is given an experimental drug. But being the first test subject, will he survive from its first use?

In volume 7, Constance Raveau has been kidnapped and tortured by the Destroyers and now Marco Adriano is out for revenge.  But will he be enough to take on the Destroyers?  And who is responsible for the murder of the Twilights?

And this is where “Gangsta: Cursed. Ep_Marco Adriano” comes in.  As it introduces us to Marco and his past with the murdering Twilights known as the Destroyers and showing us how he knows of them.  And it’s because he was one of them.

The manga takes us to the past when the Destroyers went through their first massacre of Twilights in Ergastalum many years ago and giving readers an idea that the massacre that is happening on the ongoing storyline has happened before and it’s by the same people.

But how did Marco break away from them?

This latest manga by KOHSKE and Syuhei Kamo is an origin volume that gives us a pretense of who Marco was and his past before.  And the people that was part of his life in the past.


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

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

Long ago, a massacre took place in Ergastalum and with “Gangsta: Cursed. Ep_Marco Adriano”, this first volume co-exists with the current vol. 7 from KOHSKE, as in vol. 7, we find out the Destroyers are killing Twilights once again and Marco is familiar with the people responsible.

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

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

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

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

Overall, if you are reading KOHSKE’s “Gangsta.”, then “Gangsta: Cursed. Ep_Marco Adriano” vol. 1 is a no-brainer.  Violent, action-packed and an origin story worth reading!

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Monster – Perfect Edition Vol. 2 by Naoki Urasawa (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

October 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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The truth about Johan revealed?  Dr. Tenma on the run!  Nina does her own investigative work?  Another riveting volume of “Monster – Perfect Edition”!   Highly recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 2008 Naoki Urasawa/Studio Nuts. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: Monster – Perfect Edition Vol. 2

STORY AND ART BY: Story by Naoki Urasawa (浦沢 直樹)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shogakukan

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Signature

RATED: OT for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: October 21, 2014

 

Dr. Tenma has fallen into a trap set by Johan and is now wanted by the police as a serial killer. While narrowly evading the police dragnet, Tenma pursues Johan in an attempt to prove his own innocence and prevent another murder, edging closer to the Monster by tracing his secret past.

As the only person who knows what Johan is, Tenma searches for Nina, who has been captured by neo-Nazis. His investigation leads him to uncover a horrific fact: the ultra-rightists are conspiring to set Johan up as a second Adolf Hitler!

With “Monster – Perfect Edition Vol. 2” (graphic novels 3-4).  As Dr. Tenma starts to do his own investigation on the Springer murders, he starts working with a criminal named Otto.  While Tenma investigates Johan’s past, he learns about the atrocities created on the children of 511 Kinderheim.  Tenma goes to learn more about 511 Kinderheim and meets an abused boy named Dieter.

Meanwhile, we learn more about what has happened to Eva Heinemann since Dr. Tenma has been on the run.  And Nina goes undercover as a prostitute in order to find Johan, what will she discover?

What is Urasawa’s “Monster” all about?

In 1994, mangaka Naoki Urasawa (known for his works “Pineapple Army”, “Master Keaton”, “Yawara” and later for “Pluto” and “20th Century Boys”) began the series “Monster” which would be featured in Shogakukan’s “Big Comic Original” from 1994 through 2001 (later reprinted in 18 tankobon volumes). The series has won several awards including the “Excellence Prize” at the 1997 Japan Media Arts Festival and the “Shogakukan Manga Award” in 2001.

And in 2004, the manga series received an anime adaptation courtesy of Madhouse Studios (“The Girl Who Leapt Through Time”, “Summer Wars”, “Death Note”, etc.) and was 74-episodes long and lasted until Sept. 2005.

And with a release in the U.S. years ago, the perfect edition featuring a new translation, re-mastered pages, and a generous amount of full-color content will be released in July 2014.

Future volumes will be released four times a year in North America, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand for a total of nine volumes covering the entire series.

The story of “Monster” is about a talented neurosurgeon from Japan named Kenzou Tenma. Dr. Tenma works at the Eisler Memorial Hospital in Dusseldorf, Germany and he was given that chance to work in the country by Director Heinemann. Kenzou happens to be engaged to Heinemann’s daughter Eva and with Tenma doing so well at the hospital, he has a chance to become the department director which makes Eva happy.

But Dr. Tenma is shocked when one emergency patient who came in to the hospital, a patient he would have worked on, until he was called in by the Director to work on a more important patient. We learn that the Director Heinemann values Dr. Tenma’s work but the priority is the hospital and its business. So, saving those that are beneficial to the hospital comes first. This shocks Dr. Tenma because he looks at all patients and values them all the same, he wants to help them.

One day while working, two young twins are rushed into the hospital. Their parents have been murdered and the girl is in shock, while the boy has a bullet lodged into his head. Dr. Tenma is prepared to work on the boy but immediately, the director gives him an order to not work on him but on the mayor. Dr. Tenma is angered by this and talks to the director and learns that the Mayor is very helpful to the hospital and its the hospital’s best interest to have him alive, so Dr. Tenma is the best surgeon and he must do it. But Dr. Tenma doesn’t.

Tenma let’s other doctors work on the mayor while he works on the child, disobeying the director’s orders. Afterwards, he manages to save the boy but the mayor dies and there are repercussions. Tenma is no longer considered for director of the department and Eva dumps him for the man who does become director. For Dr. Tenma, he doesn’t understand why these band things are happening and all he wanted to do is save lives and while sitting next to the boy he saved (who is sleeping), out of anger, Dr. Tenma screams that he wishes they were dead.

The following day, the director is found dead by his daughter. As well as a few others. And the twins that were rushed into the hospital, have disappeared.

Fast forward nine years later and Dr. Tenma is the director of the hospital, investigators are working hard on a case as more people are being found dead. For Inspector Runge, he suspects Dr. Tenma maybe involved. As for Dr. Tenma, he has no idea what’s going on until he meets a patient who reveals to him that he and his partners have killed people but they were instructed to and now the person who has hired them is out to kill them. Dr. Tenma is shocked and confused and then he learns the truth.

The boy he saved nine years ago, Johan Liebert is not only the mastermind of the deaths that are happening around the area. Johan is a cold, intelligent, methodica, manipulative individual and is responsible for so many deaths.

This includes the deaths of Tenma’s director and colleagues. Johan tells Tenma that he made his wish come true on the day he was complaining about his colleagues and said “they were better off dead”, he made it happen. Shocked about his reunion with the boy, now a man, Tenma realizes that the boy who inspired him as a doctor has turned out to be a monster.

Now Dr. Tenma leaves his job and his life in order to find this monster and also to find out what has happened to his twin sister Anna. Anna is now living with the name Nina Fortner, a teenage college student living with her step-parents and has forgotten everything about her past including her brother. Thinking that she has been living this normal life but for some reason, has memories of something dark from her past which she can’t yet figure out and is seeing a psychiatrist to help her understand what is going on in her head.

Dr. Tenma now knows that she may be in danger and must do what he can to find her and try to stop Johan.

Monster” is a fantastic anime series that is thrilling, suspenseful and very addicting!

Naoki Urasawa has literally become one my top mangaka’s in Japan. His stories and his character designs are so captivating, thrilling and he literally knows how to capture your attention through the storyline’s pacing and makes you want even more after its done.

The character Tenma is a good-hearted individual and his top priority as a doctor is saving lives. So, it’s very interesting to see his character being put through so much and having to harbor this guilt that the decision to save a boy’s life has ended with so many people being killed. The boy that he saved was and is a monster and now with so much weight on his shoulders, Tenma feels he must kill the monster he helped revive.

What Urasawa is exceptional at is developing his characters (definitely give his other manga series such as “Master Keaton”, “20th Century Boys” and “Pluto” a chance) and in this case, although the series focuses on Dr. Tenma, we get to see these other characters coming to play in the storyline. May it be the twins Johan and Anna, Inspector Runge, the boy Dieter or his ex-fiance Eva, he knows when to utilize the other characters so well that you wonder how these characters will fare in the end. Will they survive? Will they die?

For graphic novel 3, we see Dr. Tenma doing his research on 511 Kinderheim but also wanting to help an abused boy named Dieter.  Meanwhile, Eva has changed for the worse since the death of her father and that Dr. Tenma is accused of the murder, she has spiraled out of control.

For graphic novel 4, Nina searches for Johan and discovers a major revelation.  Meanwhile, Dr. Tenma and Dieter continue their investigation of 511 Kinderheim.  What will these two individuals discover?

Suffice to say, the story is picking up and as always, Urasawa continues to floor me with his writing and his artwork.  I can’t wait for the third installment of “Monster – Perfect Edition”. Urasawa Naoki may be known for “20th Century Boys” but “Monster” is the series that led to Urasawa receiving critical acclaim. The writing is top-notch and also Urasawa’s artwork is magnificent!

And with the release of “Monster – Perfect Edition”, hopefully no one contemplates paying the high price of the out-of-stock graphic novels. Because you will no doubt save money by purchasing these thicker graphic novels of “Monster – Perfect Edition”

Urasawa Naoki’s “Monster – Perfect Edition” vol. 2 is highly recommended!

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Sunny Vol. 4 by Taiyo Matsumoto (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

September 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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A realistic manga series on the life of a group of orphans struggling with the fact that they have been abandoned or have no family members to take care of them, and their longing for family. A “Slice of life” type manga series, Taiyo Matsumoto’s “Sunny” vol.  4 is recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 2011 Taiyo Matsumoto. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: Sunny Vol. 4

STORY AND ART BY: Taiyou Matsumoto (松本大洋)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shogakukan

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

RATED: T for Teen

RELEASE DATE: April 15, 2014

What is Sunny? Sunny is a car. Sunny is a car you take on a drive with your mind. It takes you to the place of your dreams. Sunny is the story of beating the odds, in the ways that count. It is the story of beating the odds, in ways that count, for a group of orphans who discover the care and let it take them to better places in their imagination.

For the orphans of the Star Kids Home, the children who dream about having a family after being abandoned by their own parents or lost their parents, can only hope that life will become much happier. But for now, all they have is each other.

In volume 4 of “Sunny”, Haruo starts becoming defiant by shoplifting and what happens when his father comes to visit him?

Meanwhile, for teenager Asako, her mother returns to tell her that she is divorcing her father.  How will Asako take it?

As for Sei Yamashita, is he dating the intelligent girl in his class, Kumi Takahara?

And as for Elizabeth, her mother is marrying a man and plans to take her out of the orphanage.  For Elizabeth, the opportunity to say good by to Star Kids Home has been a dream but it now becomes reality. But will life be much better?

In Japan, mangaka Taiyo Matsumoto is well known for his work in manga series such as “Tekkonkinkreet”, “GoGo Monster”, “Ping Pong” and “Number Five”.

Read about the lives of these orphans at the Star Kids Home in the latest volume of Taiyo Matsumoto’s “Sunny”!

What is “Sunny”?

While his work has been released in the U.S., “Sunny” has received the Viz Signature treatment and is printed in hardback.

“Sunny” is a series set during the 1970s and revolves around a group of children and teenagers who live at an orphanage and each chapter deals with a children’s life, with other orphans and also the heartbreak they endure of being left by their parents.

The title of the manga series is derived from a broken down Nissan Sunny 1200 in front of the orphanage which the children use as a getaway vehicle for imaginary adventures, a clubhouse and more.

 

Another heartfelt volume of “Sunny” as the orphans of Star Kids Home begin to miss their own families and wonder how long they will be stuck at an orphanage.

We have seen Haruo being the most affected by his parents not taking him back.  Haruo is starting to become rebellious and in this latest volume, has turned to ditching school and shoplifting. Meanwhile, what happens when his father returns?

As for the responsible teenager, Atsuko sees her mother return back home, does it mean she is reconciling with her father?  Or is it divorce?

We also get to see what happens to Elizabeth when her mother is marrying a new guy and she is leaving the Star Home.  Will life become much better now that she is leaving the orphanage?

Volume 4 also shows us more about Taro.  Not much is shown of the man, all he we know is he is bald, huge, overweight and only wearing shorts. But this latest volume showcases him and we get to learn that perhaps he is mentally disabled.  But as he is left with taking care of little Shosuke, will Taro be a responsible babysitter?

If there is one aspect of Japanese culture that many westerners never get to see in manga or anime, it’s life of orphans at a Japanese orphanage.

With Taiyo Matsumoto’s manga “Sunny”, the manga gives readers a chance to read a slice-of-life manga series of various children of different ages living at an orphanage and the challenges they have. May it be in school, with other children and also the feeling of one’s self-worth after being left behind by their family.

What I found very interesting with “Sunny” is that in this volume, we get to see one of the orphans leave the orphanage but will life outside of the orphanage be positive?  And we also get to see how orphanage and being left behind by your parents is starting to affect Haruo.

The artwork of Taiyo Matsumoto is always interesting to see. His style is unique and some girls, the way he makes those rosy cheeks look like uneven smudges that change from page to page, but it’s the uniqueness that I have come to appreciate about Matsumoto’s artwork. But of course, it’s his stories that are captivating and while “Sunny” is a slice-of-life manga series, it’s a fresh manga style to have released in the US, something different and unique.

As with the last volume, Viz Media is giving “Sunny” the Viz Signature hardback treatment for each release, thus the series does cost a bit more than a standard manga series.

Overall, “Sunny” is an innocent, real slice-of-life manga series about children at an orphanage and the experiences (happy and sad) that each have to deal with in their young lives. You don’t really find these type of manga in the U.S…. So, for anyone wanting some real, different or unique, then I definitely recommend Taiyo Matsuoto’s “Sunny”.

“Sunny” vol. 4 is recommended!

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