Red River Vol. 23

Author: Chie Shinohara

Viz; ISBN 978-1-4215-1723-0

Red River Vol. 23

I kind of forgot how good this Manga can be. The last time I read a volume of this series was probably sometime early last year. For a shoujo, this series is just simply thrilling.

Yuri is finally reunited with Kail after spending sometime in Egypt, after learning that Nefertiti has fallen from a position of power. Yuri has evidence of Queen Nakia’s betrayal of the Hitite empire, a letter that she had sent to Nefertiti in Egypt.

Nakia’s scheming follower Urhi, has caught on that Yuri brought home evidence that would put Nakia in trouble, thus, he hypotize one of Yuri’s servant to steal the letter and destroy the evidence. Fortunately, Ilbani is a clever man, and made a duplicate of the letter which was destroy in place of the real one. I hope this leads to the end of Queen Nakia’s reign of power because honestly, she’s starting to get quite annoying.

Kail declares to Yuri that he hopes this war with Egypt would be the last war his empire will ever fight during his reign. It’s a noble declaration because it seems like Egypt is not going to give up anytime soon.

The Hitite Empire faces off with Egypt in an all out war. Kail finds quite a few allies, such as the Prince of Darkness, now King Mattiwaza I, and also his brother Prince Telipinu. Even though the Pharoh of Egypt is leading his army, Kail’s real enemy is General Ramses. Unfortunately, for Egypt, The Pharoh is a complete idiot when it comes to leading an army, and lead his entire army into an obvious trap that Kail had set up. Funny thing was that Ramses warned him of the trap, but the Pharoh simply said that there was no way that he would lose because he was leading the army.

At the end of the volume, Kail declared that he’s not after manslaughter, but rather a peace treaty, which is one step closer to Kail’s vision for his empire.

There’s not much bad things I can say about this series. I love how exciting this series is, and I felt my heart sting such as the situation with Yuri losing her baby and having to let Kail know. I laugh at all the rights part, especially when I found out that Yuri’s twin servant has been sharing the same lover.

With only 5 volumes left to the finale of this series, I hope this series continue on in such a good note.

Grade: A

Skip Beat! Vol. 19

SKIPBEAT19What’s on the back: Koo and Lory can’t stop meddling in Kyoko’s and Ren’s lives. Because while Koo is impressed with Kyoko’s talent he knows that she will never be a great actress unless she can overcome her fatal weakness. And Lory knows that Ren’s acting is likewise affected by his refusal to face his past. Can the two old-timers give their young proteges a much needed kick in the pants , or will their plans blow up in their faces?!

Review: Three months is too long of a wait for Skip Beat. Especially since it reigns as one of my all time favourites in terms of shoujo manga. We don’t get to see much of a development between Ren and Kyoko, but, we do get to see a lot of Ren’s past and an improvement in Kyoko’s acting career.

First off, I was shocked that Ren is not Japanese. Maybe it’s because I have forgotten or I missed it in the past volumes. But it was quite interesting why Ren chose Japan as a place to develop his acting and career. At first I thought that Ren’s father was probably a bad guy, since, it was hinted in earlier volumes that Ren disliked his father. But in reality, Ren doesn’t dislike his father. He only wanted to reach his goals without the help of his father’s career in showbiz. I applaud Ren’s determination, since it takes a lot of willpower and effort to leave your parents for the past five years and not speak to them once. With his video letter that he has sent to his mother, Ren let go of his past, and is able to preform to his full potential.

I got to admit, I liked the relationship that Kyoko had with her sensei, Koo. Koo saw that Kyoko has a problem, that would probably hinder her rise to stardom. She is way too picky with what kind of roles she wants to protray. A successful actress would take on all roles, and make it her own. Koo was trying to let her know her potential and that if she become less fickle with her choices of roles, she would definitely shine. I felt something special between Koo and Kyoko’s relationship. Koo saw his long lost son in Kyoko, and Kyoko saw a father figure she never had. It was quite touching at the end when Kyoko called Koo her father in the airport.

The only thing I have to complain about this volume is where the heck is Sho? lol, I thought he was suppose to be a contender in the game to win Kyoko’s heart. I guess it doesn’t really matter since, this volume was not set on Kyoko’s relationships. I also love Kyoko’s reacting to Ren when she knows she disobeys him. Ren is a nice guy, but Kyoko thinks that Ren is evil behind that smile of his.

Final Thoughts: What I’m expecting next volume is more Ren x Kyoko x Sho conflicts. I would also like to see Ren and Kyoko utilizing the advices that were given to them. This volume met my demands, and delivered quite an entertaining read.

Overall Grade: A

Nana Vol. 8

nana8What’s on the back: Hachi’s happiness with Nobu is slipping through her fingers as an unexpected complication with Takumi treatens to up-end her whole life. And unlike her past romantic woes, the choice she makes now will change the lives of everyone around her.

Review: I know I haven’t posted any reviews of Nana lately, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy the series. In fact, Nana is probably one of my favourites. I haven’t read a volume in a while, but now I remember exactly why I like it so much. It’s the realism that the manga represents. Hachiko is going through tough times and I can’t really blame her for making the choices that she has made. I see her logic in all her decisions.

I saw this arc coming, which isn’t to everyone’s surprise, I dreaded reading. The scene that grabbed my heart the most, happened in this arc. I almost wished it didn’t happen. From day one, I was rooting for Nobu and Hachi. I was literally jumping for joy when they got together. But now that’s all over. Hachi gets pregnant and most likely it’s Takumi’s child. It also doesn’t help that Takumi was also the one that broke the news to Nobu. Ouch. This teaches everyone to use contraceptions when having sex, or else you end up in an ireversible situation that Hachi puts herself in. Now she has to let go of love, for stability.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Takumi. I’m a fan of Nobu, but Takumi isn’t so bad either. It was nice of him to accept responsibility for the baby. Hachi, herself, was surprised when he offered to get married with ehr. The only question lies now is whether, Takumi truly loves Hachi, or is this mariage simply a ploy to shut up the papparazi?

For the other herione in the story, Nana, I felt kind of bad for her in this volume. In her eyes she views Hachi as a precious possession. As the news of Hachi’s pregnancy is dawned on her, her grip on Hachi is slowly becoming looser and looser. She blames this all on Takumi, who stole everyone that was important to her. She also realize, after a confrontation with Nobu, that she was using him to keep Hachi near her.

We get to see a glimpse of Nana’s childhood. With that, I kind of understand her reason of not wanting to have a baby. After being abandoned as a child, Nana feels like she doesn’t have the qualifications to have a child of her own. This is probably why, Hachi’s pregnancy is kind of a shock for her.

 Final Thoughts : There were a lot of tough situations in this volume. For a shoujo manga, this seriers is probaby the most realistic thing I’ve read in a long while. I see a lot of issues coming up in the near issues of this manga. With the way Nana is going, could it result in her downfall?

Overall Grade: A+

Kimi ni Todoke Vol. 1

KIMINITODO01What’s on the back: Sawako kuronums is the perfect herione…for a horror movie. With striking similarities to a haunting movie character – jet black hair, sinister smile and silent demeanor – she’s mistakenly called Sadako by those around her. But behind her scary facade is a very misunderstood teenager. Too shy to fit in, all she wants to do is make some friends. But when the most popular boy in class befriends her, she’s sure to make more than just that – she’s about to make some enemies too!

Review: Kimi ni Todoke has recieved many recommendations from the many netizens. Plus, a lot of people were obsessively reading the scanlations. I decided to hold off on scanlations when I heard that Kimi ni Todoke was being licensed by Viz in North America. I got to admit, the wait was definitely worth it.

Sawako, I felt sorry for her. She just your average teenager who wants to hang out with friends. But she has a problem. Her shy demeanor, sinister smile, and haircut makes people think that she’s the heroine from a horror movie. They even compared her to Sadako from The Ring, which I admit, she does resemble. Her attempts at meeting friends were feeble at first. But after meeting Kazehaya, a popular, and positive boy in school she earned the courage to meet new friends. I like Sawako’s character. Even though her appearance is rather scary, she is a kind and thoughtful girl.

There was a chapter in the volume where Sawako saves an abandon puppy from the rain. The funny thing about that puppy, was that he looks exactly like my puppy, louis. lol Anyways, back on topic, it’s too bad that people don’t see the kind of person Sawako is. She volunteers to do class chores. She even pretend to be the ghost, when the whole class was participating in a bravery challenge. It’s great that by the end of the volume, some of her classmates are trying to get closer to her.

Kazehaya, he reminds me of other Shoujo Heros, such as Yano from We Were There (when he’s happy, and not moody), and Yoh in High School Debut ( in terms of looks and popularity). I feel kind of sorry for him because of Sawako. Poor girl doesn’t realized that Kazehaya likes her. It doesn’t help that Sawako looks up to Kazehaya in admiration, instead of love.

At the end of the volume, Sawako falls victim to another person’s wicked scheme. She may lose her friends because of this, but I believe she can go through this situation smoothly. Sawako, fighting!

This manga series is slowly become a really cute story. The story right now is a little choppy, but I heard that the story will eventually become really good. I just like to note that I like the way viz is presenting their manga now. Kimi ni todoke’s cover resembles its original cover very much. Good Job, Viz!

Final Thoughts: I will continue to root for Sawako to make friends, and become somewhat normal. Also, for Kazehaya to press on in winning Sawako’s heart!

Overall Grade: A

After School Nightmare Vol. 1-3

AFTERSCHLNIGHT1As of late, I’ve been grossly swept away into the world of After School Nightmare. lets just get this in to the clearing: it’s probably one of the best shoujo I’ve ever read. So what’s the story about? Ichijou Mashiro has a problem. His upper half is male, but his lower half is female. He has been recruited into an after school class where he is put into a dream to fight other dreamers in search for a key. Every individual that is put in the after school class seems to be dealing with a problem. For example, Kureha was raped as a child, and had an abusive father, therefore, in her dream, she hates men to death. Mashiro, on the other hand is torn between what gender he or she is.

His upper half is loves Kureha, who is a girl. On the other hand, because of his bottom half, he finds himself slowing getting attracted to Sou, who he thinks could be one of the students in the after school class. I can sympathize with Mashiro because he is torn between two different people within himself. Is he a boy? or is he a girl? He has always insisted that he’s a boy. But when he gets his period and other girly stuff, his manlihood is waivering.  Sou isn’t helping either. His disgust for Sou’s action caused him to think about Sou even more. Especially when Sou tells him he loves him.

Volume One: The first volume to After School Nightmare volume 1, was simply fantastic. In one short volume, Mizushiro-Sensei pulls her readers into the world of the dream. All characters are introduced and each and every one of them has a problem of his or her own. Mashiro has even a problem in the dream world. His real self is shown in the dream world, whereas, everyone else has their own persona in the dream. Mashiro quickly recognized Kureha, after seeing her past within the dream. After realizing the reason behind her hatred of men, Mashiro vows to protect and help Kureha get over her hatred for men.

We are also introduced to the Knight, who’s identity is unknown. In his second after school class, Mashiro was humiliated by the Knight, who question his gender. The Knight and the rest of the students in the dream finds out about Mashiro’s gender. Mashiro who is now full of anger because he was humilated in the dream, sets out to try to find the identity of the Knight. Mashiro suspects Sou of being the Knight because he always calling Mashiro a women in real life.

AFTERSCHLNIGH2Volume Two: In the second volume, we get to learn more about the other students within the dream. It becomes more clear the reason why the dream world exist. In order for a student to graduate from school, and the dream, he must find the key, which happens to always lay within another person’s body. Some students are more focused on just graduating. So they attack other students in order to find the key. Some have other purposes in staying in the dream. As of now, their purposes aren’t clear.

Kureha and Mashiro relationship progressed some more this volume. Mashiro continues to protect Kureha within the dream, which causes Kureha’s feelings to deepen for Mashiro. On the other end of the spectrum, Mashiro still continues to be capitivated by Sou, even though he is still disgusted by Sou’s actions towards him. Kureha confronts Sou, but he refuses to tell her what she wants to know about his relationship with Mashiro. This causes Kureha to feel unstable with her relationship.

There’s also something fishy about Sou’s relationship with his sister, it almost seems incestrous. She may also be one of the students in the dream world.

During a chat with Midori, Mashiro learned that he must be agressive and use imagination in order to survive in the dream world. While fighting with the Knight, he ended up imagining a pair of twin blades, which he used to defeat the knight. Because of the fight, Midori ends up finding the key and graduating.

There is something strange about this whole “graduating” business. After Midori graduated, her existence seem to disappear as well. Mashiro finds it odd that someone is missing, but he can’t seem to remember who it is. He starts to get suspicious. During a spat with Sou in the locker room, he asked Sou, “Do you remember any of these people who used these locker rooms?”

AFTERSCHLNIGH3Volume Three: We are introduced to a new character this volume. In the dream world, he’s a paper giraffe, but in the real world, he’s a genius who can’t relate with the people around him. He has a special power within the dream world. He can tell each student’s real life identity. He uses this to blackmail Mashiro into protecting him in the dream world. He promises to tell Mashiro, the Knight’s identity. He later on graduated from the dream world. We get a glimpse to where he goes after they graduate. It doesn’t seem like a good place, in my opinion.

Kureha continues to question her relationship with Mashiro. Mashiro tries to help her meet new guy friends such as Shinbashi (who is quite suspicous, in my opinion), but Kureha misunderstands, and continue to be upset at Mashiro. Meanwhile, Mashiro is more focused on Sou, then he is on fixing his issues with Kureha. Shinbashi questions his motives, and Mashiro realizes that he hasn’t been trying to fix things with Kureha, even though he really care for her . He also realize that he has some feelings for Sou.

There has been a recurring scene where a black moon appears in the sky, but only some students can see it. This may play a big part in the story, but as of now, we know nothing about it. It’s also supicious that the moon appears when a student is about to graduate. This has obviously peak my curiousity, so I’m dying to know what this “black moon” signifies.

Art: I got to say that the artwork in After School Nightmare is quite an improvement from her past series. A while back I read Mizushiro-Sensei’s Maison de Beauties and the artwork in those volumes weren’t that great. Characters who are suppose to be beautiful, I find ugly. But in After School Nightmare, her art is greatly improving. Especially, the covers are drawn quite nicely. I also like the use of blank spaces to protray certain emotions.

Final Thoughts: What I like most about this series, is that it’s different. I’ve never read a story about a hermapodite before. So this series is really refreshing in a sense.  The character development is always quite something. Each volume we get to see characters come closer to their goals of fixing their souls. I am definitely hooked on reading this series, in order to find out more about each character’s motives.

Overall Grade: A+

Please Save My Earth Vol. 11

plsavearth11What’s on the back: Are the woes of the present meant to be endured for the promise of a better future or to atone for pass wrongs? Young Rin is the reincarnation of Shion, the alien moon base’s anti-social engineer. Driven to protect the Earth by Shion’s impassioned memories, Rin will do anything to achieve his mysterious goals. His attempts to control and manipulate fellow moon dreamer Haruhiko have culminated in a brutal psychic battle. The results have left Rin nearly comatose, unable to escape dreams of Shion’s tormented past. After spending so much time reliving Shion’s life, how is  Rin supposed to cope with waking on Earth in a child’s battered body?

Review: In volume 11 of Please Save My Earth, or PSME for short, marks the end of Rin’s dreams of the past. A Shion’s past becomes clearer, I don’t know if I should sympathize with him, or should I hate him for what he has done. Shion has always been an anti-social person, which caused him not to be liked among the others in the moon base. The only person who seems to care for him is Mokuren.

The beginning of the volume starts off with Mokuren announcing that she is engaged with Shion. Shion is shocked with this proclaimaition since he raped Mokuren in order for revenged again Sarjalim, who in his mind, ruined his life. Later on he admits that he just wanted to make love with Mokuren, and that all he wanted is to have a family.

Now back to the future, Rin wakes up from his Coma. He’s a little confused about who he is, because he was stuck in Shion’s dream for a very long time. When he realized that he was the recarinated version of Shion, little bits and pieces of his present self starts to reappear. He remembers that Alice is actually Mokuren’s recarinated self. He also remembers his mission of destroying the moon base, and anybody who gets in his way.

Little to his surprise, Jipachi visited him at the hospital, where he gives Rin his password, in hopes of ending this ludicrous dream. Rin then convinces Jipachi to figure out other people’s passwords, in order to destroy the moon base. Jipachi did not know that he’s falling directly into Rin’s Plan.

There was also the suspicion that Haruhiko is the one behind all the attacks. Jipanchi and Issei, they really don’t know any better. They have no idea that Rin is actually Shion and that Haruhiko is the victim in this case.

Issei, who was Enjo in the past, is torn between the love she had for Gyokuran, who is present day Jipachi. Issei doesn’t know what to do with his emotions. He doesn’t want to be gay, but he also doesn’t want to let go of Enju’s love for Gyokuran. In the end, after a heart to heart with Sakura, Issei learned that Enju chose to be recarinated as a boy because she wants herself to have a new chance at love, instead of being in love with Gyokuran for another lifetime. Issei lets go of Enju’s love, and learns to move on with his life, in order to find a new love.

I got to admit, I love this series very much. The character developments are phenomenal. The author takes time in trying to expand each character’s personality. In the past few volumes we got to learn of Shion’s character. He’s a very complex character, but the author protrays him beautifully. He’s evil, but not entirely evil, if you get what I mean. Alice, seems to have more of a personality in this volume as well. Normally we see Alice as a shy and quiet girl. But in this volume, she’s a bit more outspoken. I was glad to see some development between Jipachi and Issei relationship. Issei was really torn about what to do, In the end, I believe he chose the right outcome, because he would never find peace if he keeps on pursuing Jipachi.

Final Thoughts: I just love this manga so much! I really got no complaints for this series. There’s a good balance between shoujo and science fiction elements, that it keeps the story more interesting as I continue on.

Final Grade: A

Clover Omnibus

Clover_Omnibus_500What’s on the back: Kazuhiko is a young, but already deeply wounded, black-ops agent of a baroque, retro-tech world–pulled out of retirement to escort Sue, a mysterious waif, to a destination she alone knows. Sue and Kazuhiko have never met…yet she knows him, having grown up since the age of four with her human contact being two distant voices: that of her elderly “grandma” — Kazuhiko’s comander, General Ko; and that of Kazuhiko’s dead girlfriend, the beautiful singer ora.

And Sue has been kept in that cage all these years because of what she is and what the Clover Leaf Project found her to be: a military top secret…and the most dangerous person in the world.

Review: The first time I heard that Clover is being reprinted by Dark Horse, I jumped up and down in excitement. Why exactly? Because not only has it been out of print for the longest time, but also the first time it was published in it’s flipped version. Back then I was dying to lay my hands on this manga because I’m such a big Clamp fan at heart. But the only set back to this manga is that it will never be completed. There will never be an ending to Sue’s story. Which kind of sucks, but it’s what Clamp do best, write really good stories that will never have an ending. But regardless of no end, Clover is still a worthwhile read.

To start off, I must say this must be one of the most visually stunning book I ever picked up. Dark Horse did a good job in packaging this manga! Not only was the Manga printed on very good paper. We also get goodies such as coloured artwork between each volume, and also at the end of the book. The reason I like Clamp so much, is partially because I find their artwork visually captivating. So I was glad to see the coloured artwork thrown in the manga.

Moving on to the story itself: Clover is kind of a weird story. Each volume focuses on another character in the book. But throughout the volumes, we get to see the “big” idea behind Clover and it’s surroundings. Sue’s story is actually a sad one. To be deemed the most dangerous person in the world, at the age of four is too much. To have no contact with humans, except the voices of two different individuals, is no feat. I liked how Kazuhiko and Sue interacted with each other, even when they never met each other in real life. What links them together, is Kakuhiko’s dead girlfriend/singer Ora. The only other person that Sue talks to.

In volume three, we get to see Kazuhiko’s and Ora’s past together. I don’t want to spoil too much, but having Ora’s ability must be difficult. It’s definitely not comfortable, espeically when it affects the people around you. It was also the reason why Kazuhiko decided to retired from the Black-Ops.

The last volume of Clover, gives us a clearer image of the world they live in. We get to learn more about the Clover project and also why Sue is confined. We also get a glimpse of Ran’s past, and why he isn’t allowed to leave his home. His story is also a tragic one. Somehow I get the same vibe from his story, as when I was reading about Shaoyran’s story. It’s definitely a possibility since they are both Clamp’s creation.

To those who don’t appreciate artwork over story, than maybe Clover might not be the manga for you. Clover’s dialogue is very limited. Instead, throughout the whole manga, words from different songs are repeated over and over again. On every page, is probably a tidbit from the song that Ora sings. I don’t mind actually because it gave me the chance to appreciate Clover’s artwork even more. There are a lot of white spaces between each panel, which helps empathized the focus on the story. It also helped in making Clover a really quick read, for such a thick book.

Final Thoughts: Even though Clover is not my favourite from Clamp (Tsubasa being #1), The visual, the story, and even the way it packaged makes it such a worthwhile book to own. Dark Horse is also planning to publish other Clamp series, such as Cardcaptor Sakura and Chobits in omnibus editions as well. You can definitely bet, that I will be picking those up as well due to the fact that they will be a fine addition to any manga collector’s collection.

Overall Grade: A

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