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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 

MonsterThePerfectEdition-01

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 

sunny-v4

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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IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT vol. 10 by Motoro Mase (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

August 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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Defiance against the National Welfare Immunization Act and Fujimoto’s government agency is having him followed! Do they suspect that Fujimoto is against the immunization act? Find out in the ninth volume of “IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT”. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2005 Motoro MASE. All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT Vol. 10

STORY AND ART BY: Motoro Mase

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shogakukan, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shojo Beat

RATED: M for Mature (Parent Advisory – Explicit Content)

RELEASE DATE: August 19, 2014

Dear Citizen: You’ve no doubt noticed that the world is a troubled place. People are apathetic, lazy, unmotivated. You’ve probably asked yourself, “Why isn’t anything being done to stop this systematic decline?” Well, you’ll be happy to know measures are being taken. We, your government, have decided society needs a wake-up call. So beginning today, we will randomly select a different citizen who will be killed within 24 hours of notification.

We believe this will help remind all people how precious life is, and how important it is to be productive, active members of society. Thank you for your attention and your cooperation and participation in this new program.

 

Since a year after “IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT” vol. 9 was released, the final volume of Motoro Mase’s thrilling manga series returns!

The series about government worker, Fujimoto who must deliver an “ikigami” notice to a person who will be dying within 24 hours, as part of the National Welfare Immunization act.

In volume 10, Japan has sent observers to watch the Ministry of Welfare and Health in consideration of adopting the National Welfare Act.  Meanwhile, Fujimoto who has avoided all detection of his thoughts and emotions towards the National Welfare Immunization Act is caught in a trap.  Will he be brainwashed?

And the true reason for the National Welfare Immunization Act is revealed!

Find out what happens in the thrilling conclusion of “IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT” Vol. 10!

What is “IKIGAMI-THE ULTIMATE LIMIT” about?

You’re a young person who has found love, a person who has a brilliant and promising career, a person who lives a life full of pain, a person who has goals and dreams. A regular person living in a country that receives an ikigami notice from the government’s National Welfare policy that in service of your country, you will be dying in the next 24 hours. As the government would say… for the greater good to maintain peace.

Motoro Mase’s ‘IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT’ is a manga series which gives readers a unique perspective on an alternate country where the government instills fear of death as a means to obtain a peaceful society.

The manga series focuses on the character of Fujimoto who works for the government and his job is to notify people with an “Ikigami” notice that they will die within 24 hours.

The premise of the story is that when a citizen enters elementary school and receives their immunization shots, the National Welfare Immunization is given. Among the immunization shots given to children, 0.01 percent of the shots contain a special nano-capsule. About 1 in 1,000 citizens are injected with the capsule and when they are between 18-24 years old, the capsule ruptures on a predetermined date and they person will automatically die.

The government believes that because citizens never know who has been injected with the capsule, they all grow up wondering if they will be the one that dies and so, this forces the individual to take life more seriously and become socially productive.

Since the law for the National Welfare Immunization was passed, crime and suicides in the country have fallen and the concern of birth rates have increased (note: In reality, Japan is concerned that their population is shrinking as many couples are not wanting to produce offspring and worry that Japan will not be productive in the future unless this is changed now. Also, the crime and suicide problems of Japan have steadily grown).

In the nature that someone does die, their family of the deceased is paid a pension but if by any chance, the person who commits a crime after receiving their Ikigami, the family will be denied the pension but also will be liable financially towards the crime committed by the deceased and in effect, will be ostracized by the community and will be forced to relocate.

Also, if anyone voices their disdain publicly about the National Welfare Immunization, they will also be dealt with and will be injected with the capsule.

But now Fujimoto begins to question the government’s National Welfare policy with doubts. His boss has warned him to keep it a secret or else the government will be watching over him and he himself can get into very big trouble. The problem is that the mere discussion or questioning against the National Welfare Immunization is illegal and can land him in big trouble. His boss has been quick in preventing of discussing his thoughts about the immunization and his job because of the ramifications Fujimoto may face. So, Fujimoto who has these conflicted emotions wonders if he should he be showing concern or should he keep doing his job, regardless of how the ikigami affects people.

As previous volumes have shown people and their families affected by the National Welfare Immunization Act, we have seen Fujimoto continually growing to be more defiant but yet trying to watch his steps and not be caught.

But this time…what happens when he is caught in a trap that could change his life forever?

Like all previous volumes of “IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT”, each storyline has been wonderful, intriguing, shocking, emotional and sad.

Volume 10 is the conclusion and the storyline that was created to give closure to those who have followed this story of alternate Japan and its government instituting the National Welfare Immunization Act.

It was also a storyline that many in Japan had readers criticizing Motoro Mase’s final storyline, while others who really enjoyed the twist!

Because of the nature of this final volume, I don’t want to give much away but I will say that I was surprised that the country that the National Welfare Immunization Act was changed.  Originally, the country was thought to be an alternate version of Japan, but in this final volume, Mase decided to show that the country experiencing the act is not Japan, but a country that featured people with Japanese names but yet, Japanese observers were there to observe the act in seeing if the act would be brought to their peaceful country.

Finding out the twist of what the National Welfare Immunization Act really was and why it was created by the government, was quite intriguing.  But why did Motoro Mase decide not to make Japan the country of origin?  For those who have been to Japan or have a knowledge of the politics can see a more political size of the author reflecting on the Japan today.  But also Japan and its relationship with the United States but also an observation that many for decades have been vocal about.

Does Japanese need to build its military as it did before World War II?  Or should it remain peaceful as it is now?  There are various points that Motoro Mase does make in this final story but for the most part, the most thrilling storyline is revolving around the character Fujimoto and what will happen to him after being caught?  And without spoiling this final volume, what I can say is that if you read up to volume 9, the conclusion of “IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT” is worth reading!

The artwork of Motoro Mase was well done and I like how his style of artwork is much different from other manga artists and I know that writing this conclusion was not the easiest, considering the reaction of readers in Japan, it was no doubt a mixed bag.  And in some ways, I think it was a storyline that would probably be more accepted among readers outside of Japan, as we are in the outside looking in, versus those who live in Japan and can easily be critical of Motoro Mase’s message about Japan’s current state.

Overall, “IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT” was a long journey with thrilling, sad, happy and also dark storylines.  Everything has culminated up to this point and for the most part, with its twists and turns, I enjoyed this volume and the entire series immensely.

“IKIGAMI – THE ULTIMATE LIMIT” vol. 10 is recommended!

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Monster – Perfect Edition Vol. 1 by Naoki Urasawa (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

July 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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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!  Highly recommended!

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

MANGA TITLE:  Monster – Perfect Edition Vol. 1

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: June 17, 2014

 

In Naoki Urasawa’s MONSTER, Johan is a cold and calculating killer with a mysterious past, and brilliant Dr. Kenzo Tenma is the only one who can stop him! Conspiracy and serial murder open the door to a compelling, intricately woven plot in this masterwork of suspense. In the first volume of the new PERFECT EDITION, everyone faces uncertainty at some point in their lives. Even a brilliant surgeon like Kenzo Tenma is no exception. But there’s no way he could have known that his decision to stop chasing professional success and instead concentrate on his oath to save peoples’ lives would result in the birth of an abomination. The questions of good and evil now take on a terrifyingly real dimension. Years later, in Germany during the tumultuous post-reunification period, middle-aged childless couples are being killed one after another. The serial killer’s identity is known. The reasons why he kills are not. Dr. Tenma sets out on a journey to find the killer’s twin sister, who may hold some clues to solving the enigma of the “Monster.”

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?

I can’t wait for the second 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. 1 is highly recommended!

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Battle Royale: Angels’ Border (Story by Koushun Takami and Art by Mioko Ohnishi and Youhei Oguma) (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

July 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Battle Royale: Angel’s Border” offers no surprise for those who read the novel or manga series or watched the live action movies.  We know these characters are going to die but this tragic side story is about humanizing the characters and showing the brutality of the experiment.  If anything, while it’s great to see Koushun Takami return for another “Battle Royale” story, don’t expect too much from this side story.  Just look at it as an extension of what you have read or watched, and if you have enjoyed “Battle Royale”, then this one-shot manga is worth checking out!

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Image courtesy of © 2012 Koushun Takami/Mioko Ohnishi/Youhei Oguma. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: Battle Royale: Angels’ Border

STORY AND ART BY: Story by Koushun Takami and Art by Mioko Ohnishi and Youhei Oguma

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Akita Publishing

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

RATED: OT for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: June 17, 2014

 

The Program is a brutal military experiment that pits junior high students against each other every year in a brutal battle to the death. Most of the students from Shiroiwa Junior High scatter as soon as they reach the remote island where they must participate in the latest round of the Program. But Yukie Utsumi and five of her friends lock themselves in the lighthouse, clinging to a desperate hope of survival. They all trust each other, but they also know that only one can survive the Battle Royale…

Back in 1996, Koushun Takami would go to work on a novel which would be known as “Battle Royale”.

Because of the novel’s controversial content, “Battle Royale” would become a bestseller, selling over a million copies.  But the novel would lead to a manga and two live-action film adaptations.

For those not familiar with “Battle Royale”, the story takes place in an alternate Japan which has become a police state known as “Republic of Greater East Asia”.

Fifty randomly selected classes of secondary school students are forced to take part in a program in which all must slaughter each other with one person surviving and winning the battle.  If no one fights, around their neck collars are devices that are set to detonate or if they wander into forbidden zones, the collar will detonate.

The collars provide organizers to hear the student’s conversations and log their activities.  And this “Battle Royale” must take place within 24 hours.

The program was created as part of military research that has become part of reality television.

In the novel and film, a group of students from Shiroiwa Junior High School, who think they are on a study trip, find out that they are taking part in a “Battle Royale” with each student receiving a survival pack with a random weapon or tool and one person survives.

While it’s been nearly 20-years since Koushun Takami had written “Battle Royale”, Koushun Takami returns with a side story titled “Battle Royale: Angels’ Border” revolving around a group of female students who were literally safe inside a light house but for some reason, ended up slaughtering each other.

The idea for this side story came from the 2009 edition of the North American translation of the “Battle Royale” novel in which Takami wrote that he had an idea for a scene about the two girls talking atop the lighthouse and sure enough, “Angels’ Border” was born.

“Battle Royale: Angels’ Border” focuses on two stories.

The first revolves around Yukie Utsumi and Haruka Tanizawa.  Two friends who discovered how much they love each other.

We learn the background stories of both young women but also how these two ended up dying and what circumstance has led to their death during the “Battle Royale”.

The second story revolves around Chisato Matsui and Shinji Mimura.  The story is about how the pure and innocent Chisato going on her first date with the bad boy Shinji Mimura.

As we learn the background stories of both characters and how they enjoyed their first date together, we also find out the details of how both of these individuals were killed.

“Battle Royale: Angels’ Border” is fascinating for the fact that Koushun Takami, who has not made anything after “Battle Royale”, has chosen to do another story revolving the group of girls who managed to kill themselves under the stress that they can’t trust each other.

Granted, the result of the girls dying remain the same as it was in the novel and the movie, but what is explored are the backstories of various characters.  For Yuki and Haruka, how these two young girls who depended on one another, ended up dying.

The stories of these two made you feel how these two had so much life and many years to live for, but due to this “Battle Royale”, only one can live.  And how these two approach their lives together, their final moments together and expressing their feelings towards one another.

The same can be said about Chisato Matsui and Shinji Mimura, how these two unlikely people would end up being friends or being close with one another.   And the fun they had in their first date (*if you call it a “date”).

If anything, you get a sense that if these individuals lived, they would have had relationships or close friendships as they treasured their life but now, nothing is the same.

Of course, it’s a tragedy knowing that these characters are going to be killed but that is part of the storyline of “Battle Royale”, trying to show the brutality of this experiment and how people who are full of life, are forced to take part in a barbaric experiment and their chances of survival are slim.

As for the manga series, unfortunately Masayuki Taguchi of the original manga series is not involved but you do get Mioko Ohnishi and Youhei Oguma as the illustrators, give two different styles for each story and for the most part, character design are typically closeups but I did enjoy the art for style by Oguma Yohei for the second story.

Koushun Takami also offers an original script for both storylines at the end of the manga.

Overall, “Battle Royale: Angel’s Border” offers no surprise for those who read the novel or manga series or watched the live action movies.  We know these characters are going to die but this tragic side story is about humanizing the characters and showing the brutality of the experiment.  If anything, while it’s great to see Koushun Takami return for another “Battle Royale” story, don’t expect too much from this side story.  Just look at it as an extension of what you have read or watched, and if you have enjoyed “Battle Royale”, then this one-shot manga is worth checking out!

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Terra Formars Vol. 1 (Story by Yu Sasuga, Art by Ken-Ichi Tachibana) (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

June 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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The mega hit manga series “Terra Formars” will finally be released in the USA and I was absolutely captivated by this series!  Wonderful writing and artwork from Yu Sasuga and Ken-Ichi Tachibana, “Terra Formars” is a manga series that I highly recommend!

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

MANGA TITLE: Terra Formars Vol. 1

STORY BY: Yu Sasuga   ART BY:  Ken-Ichi Tachibana

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shueisha, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC

RATED: T for Older Teen

Available on July 15, 2014

In the late 26th century, overpopulation on Earth is reaching the breaking point, and humanity must find new frontiers. The terraforming of Mars has taken centuries, but is now complete. The colonization of Mars by humanity is an epoch-making event, but an unintended side effect of the terraforming process unleashes a horror no one could ever have imagined…

After humanity’s first manned mission to the Red Planet was lost, a second expedition arrives. The explorers prepare to exterminate the cockroaches that were used to transform the Martian environment. They are shocked to discover that the insects have mutated into giant, aggressive humanoids with one overriding goal: exterminate the humans! But this crew of explorers has each undergone the “Bugs Procedure,” terrifying experimental surgery designed to make them more than human…

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

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

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

What is “Terra Formars”?

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

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

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

The black organism used by scientists were cockroaches.

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

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

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

And now the humans have become the hunted.

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

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

In America, there have been a number of sci-fi films that have featured humanity taking on various alien species on Mars.

But what makes Yu Sasuga and Ken-Ichi Tachibana’s manga series so fascinating and also exciting is the science of Terra Formation and how scientists were able to create something that may lead to their own demise.

It’s interesting because of all species to bring on Mars, any human would know that cockroaches are the most resilient insect.  Not only are they quick but they are very hard to kill.

Stepping on them doesn’t always fully kill them, throwing them away in a toilet in water also doesn’t kill them as they try to escape.  So, for anyone familiar with the resilient cockroach can possibly think if a cockroach evolved to something much larger than a human being, not only would it be powerful but also hard to kill.

And despite humans ability to strategize, without having the same power to fight back, humans on Mars are literally defenseless.  And to fight back, the use of insect injections from powerful insects in the planet may be what is needed to fight against these human cockroaches.

As the first volume features humanity discovering these aliens for the very first time and how they were created, the final pages goes to show that something unfortunate has happened and now humanity is in deep trouble.

Suffice to say, I have been wanting to read “Terra Formars” since it was released in Japan.  Seeing various celebrities in Japan showing their love for “Terra Formars” (especially Takahashi Minami, captain of AKB48), the storyline has no doubt become a tremendous hit and I’m looking forward to reading more of this series!

The artwork by Ken-Ichi Tachibana is magnificent.  Characters are well-detailed, artwork is just pleasing and the action is well-featured.  And of course, the writing and research done by Yu Sasuga has really made “Terra Formars” a fascinating and captivating series.

Overall, the hit manga series “Terra Formars” will now be released in the USA and for any manga fans out there, this first volume is highly recommended!

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Manga News: MAN’S COLONIZATION OF MARS GOES SHOCKINGLY AWRY IN THE INTENSE NEW SCI-FI HORROR MANGA SERIES TERRA FORMARS

June 25, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Off-World Terror Takes A Deadly New Form In A Gripping Sci-Fi Action Series From VIZ Media’s Signature Imprint

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San Francisco, CA, June 25, 2014 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest distributor and licensor of manga and anime in North America, administers a spine-tingling dose of sci-fi horror with the launch of the new manga (graphic novel) series – TERRA FORMARS – on July 15th.

The series, illustrated by Kenichi Tachibana with story by Yu Sasuga, will be published under the VIZ Signature imprint, is rated ‘M’ for Mature Readers, and will carry an MSRP of $12.99 U.S. / $14.99 CAN. Future volumes of TERRA FORMARS, which is continuing in Japan, will be released domestically on a bi-monthly basis.

In the late 26th century, overpopulation on Earth has reached the breaking point and humanity must find new frontiers. The terraforming of Mars has taken centuries but is now complete. The colonization of Mars by humanity is an epoch-making event, but an unintended side effect of the terraforming process unleashes a horror no one could ever have imagined…

In the opening volume, after humanity’s first manned mission to the Red Planet was lost, a second expedition arrives. The explorers prepare to exterminate the cockroaches that were used to transform the Martian environment, but are shocked to discover that the insects have mutated into giant, aggressive humanoids with one overriding goal – to exterminate all humans! However, this crew of explorers has each undergone the “Bugs Procedure,” a terrifying experimental surgery designed to make them more than human…

“Kenichi Tachibana’s crisp and kinetic artwork is the perfect vehicle for Yu Sasuga’s sci-fi action drama that will grab TERRA FORMARS readers from the very first chapter,” says Mike Montesa, Editor. “Step off-world into a stark vision of humanity’s future gone shockingly awry in this intense new horror story that presents the dark side to man’s quest to create new worlds among the stars.”

Yu Sasuga made his debut as a manga writer in Miracle Jump with TERRA FORMARS, a project in collaboration with artist Kenichi Tachibana. TERRA FORMARS was nominated in 2013 for a Manga Taisho award. Tachibana’s previous works include Potchari Maniacs and his 2007 series, Lucky Seven Stars.

For more information on TERRA FORMARS, or other manga titles from VIZ Media’s VIZ Signature imprint, please visit www.VIZ.com.

About VIZ Media, LLC
Headquartered in San Francisco, California, VIZ Media distributes, markets and licenses the best anime and manga titles direct from Japan. Owned by three of Japan’s largest manga and animation companies, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd., VIZ Media has the most extensive library of anime and manga for English speaking audiences in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa. With its popular digital manga anthology WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP and blockbuster properties like NARUTO, BLEACH and INUYASHA, VIZ Media offers cutting-edge action, romance and family friendly properties for anime, manga, science fiction and fantasy fans of all ages. VIZ Media properties are available as graphic novels, DVDs, animated television series, feature films, downloadable and streaming video and a variety of consumer products. Learn more about VIZ Media, anime and manga at www.VIZ.com.

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