I spent the last weekend of August staying in Bristol with friends, and picked up a fair few manga titles while down there. I planned to write about some of them soon after getting back (allowing time to actually read them, of course)… but it was at that point my broadband issues started. I’ve bought tons more manga in the two and a half months since then, mostly online, but I’ll save them for a later post and focus purely on these summer purchases.
So once again, here’s what I’ve been reading! Click the title links if you want synopses. 🙂
Status: 1 of 1 volumes read.
Why I picked it up: I learnt about Zombie Fairy when searching online for single volume/short series that were fully available translated in English, as sometimes I just fancy a quick read, something that’s new and different but won’t carry on forever and end up costing a lot and taking up all my shelf space in the long run. 😛 Wasn’t expecting to see it in Waterstones, however, as it’s been out of print for a few years now!
Presentation: As has been the case with so many of the volumes I’ve bought this year, it’s an odd size and doesn’t look right next to any of my other manga! I ended up putting it next to Dorothea, simply because they’re both CMX titles. The cover art is nice, and there’s a couple of colour pages at the start too… shame they decided to colour only one half of a two-page illustration of the main characters, though!
Content: It quickly became obvious that Zombie Fairy wasn’t supposed to have ended so soon. The main plot focuses on Chun-Ai (the titular Zombie Fairy), who is under a spell that has sealed away her memories, dulled her five senses, and occasionally causes her to go beserk and attack people! We learn that this spell can only be broken by defeating twelve evil animal spirits. How many do they manage to defeat in this volume? Erm… one. I’m assuming this series was cancelled after just five chapters. 😦
Overall Thoughts: Nice artwork, interesting characters and a refreshingly different premise… still managed to be a little dull in places despite all that though, which may explain why it wasn’t continued. Not awful, but with an open ending like that I wouldn’t recommend it highly.
Status: 1 of 1 volumes read.
Why I picked it up: See Zombie Fairy. Earlier this year I made a list of these English-translated oneshots, and committed most of the titles to memory. I wasn’t expecting to find more than one of them in the same weekend! This one came from an independent comic shop which had a 3-for-2 offer on old Tokyopop volumes, too good a deal to refuse.
Presentation: Standard Tokyopop size and presentation, with the huge red logo, no colour pages, pretty bad paper quality and the occasional typo. 😛 The first copy I picked up was in awful condition, and I almost gave up looking through the rest of the stock in despair after that, but luckily I found another with much less wear.
Content: I think Glass Wings was meant to be one volume long – unlike Zombie Fairy, it has something of an ending, as opposed to feeling like the prologue to a much longer series. However, it instead falls victim to the other major pitfall of oneshot manga: poor pacing. In an attempt to fit as much content into as few pages as possible, the plot feels rushed and the characters feel shallow, which isn’t really what you want in a romance, is it?
Overall Thoughts: Not the best single volume manga I’ve ever read, but at least it didn’t leave me hanging. Wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re into emo gothic horror with pretty characters but no substance.
Status: 3 of 6 (ongoing) volumes read.
Why I picked it up: This one was a complete impulse buy. Amazon had recommended it to me before, but as it was one of around 100 recommendations I didn’t look into it at the time. When it was right there in front of me in a book shop, however, I figured the blurb on the back deserved a read at least… and it sounded different enough to take my interest.
Presentation: The front cover is… very basic, very plain, the kind of thing I could throw together in about 10 seconds using Microsoft Publisher (provided I didn’t have to draw the character too :razz:). But it’s largely thanks to that minimalistic cover that the series caught my eye, standing out so much against all the more flashy, brightly coloured volumes!
Content: The premise is simple: the male protagonist Kasuga steals the gym clothes belonging to Saeki, a girl in class who he likes… but he is soon found out by another girl, the class’ resident weirdo Nakamura. So far, so generic. But instead of descending into your usual ecchi/harem antics, The Flowers of Evil develops into a dark, psychological story as Nakamura uses this knowledge to blackmail Kasuga into doing all sorts of perverted things…
Overall Thoughts: Maybe I’m a little sadistic, but this cruel story of blackmail and emotional torture has quickly become one of the best series I’m currently reading. Oh, and an anime adaptation got greenlit back in August, so that will be compulsory viewing for me next year!
Status: 5 of 16 volumes read.
Why I picked it up: It was recommended to me in The Student Room forum’s Anime Society (which I lead), when I asked for suggestions for long but completed manga series. Forbidden Planet in Bristol was including them in their 3-for-2 offer, so I bought the first three volumes… and the two other volumes followed soon after.
Presentation: It’s licensed by Viz under their Shonen Jump label, so the layout of the cover looks more or less the same as their other titles. Nice cover art though!
Content: I have to admit, I preferred the earlier volumes. In the beginning it felt very much like the survival games I like so much, featuring a group of strangers thrown into an unknown and dangerous world full of things that want to kill them. Lovely stuff. *is blatantly a sadist* But the protagonist was lucky to survive his first foray into the world of Psyren, so for the sake of the story it was necessary for him to develop psychic powers and team up with other ‘psionists’ before heading in there again. Then in the most recent volume I read, the main(?) villains were introduced… and it’s now feeling very much like any other shonen series.
Overall Thoughts: Still a highly enjoyable read, even if it didn’t go in the direction I was expecting after just one volume. Very fun characters too! Psyren is well worth a look, especially if you’re a fan of shonen titles. 🙂
Status: 5 of 9 (ongoing) volumes.
Why I picked it up: I’ve already watched both anime series. I already collect the light novels. Even my desktop wallpaper and mouse mat feature pictures of Holo. But apparently that’s not enough Spice & Wolf to keep me satisfied, and I find myself reading about Lawrence and Holo’s journeys once again.
Presentation: The artwork is fantastic. Yen Press are fantastic for keeping the colour pages at the beginning, and for having the best paper quality of any manga publishers ever. I’d say Spice & Wolf is the best looking manga I’m collecting at the moment, if not the best looking series on my shelves full stop. See, I can appreciate bright and flashy covers too!
Content: Well I already knew I was going to like the story, but would the manga tell it as well as the original light novels? In my opinion it does, as what it lacks in the finer details of explanations, it makes up for with pretty pictures. 😛 Quite explicit pretty pictures in the first volume, too… but the four volumes that followed did little to deserve the ‘Explicit Content’ labels and shrink-wrap, so fear not, this isn’t the hentai version!
Overall Thoughts: Just as good third time around! I cannot recommend this series enough, whether you’re already familiar with the anime or novels like me, or have never come across Spice & Wolf at all before.
That’s it for now, but I expect I’ll post another shortly before Christmas… and likely another after Christmas too, as my wish list is currently 100% manga. 😛