Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Manga Review: High School Debut

Here is a small review of recent series I've read recently. I'll probably have these every once in awhile in between other postings. Hopefully I won't do too badly, lol!

I'll probably be mostly reviewing shoujo manga since that's what I've been reading lately. First up, High School Debut!

title: High School Debut (aka Koukou Debut)
author: Kazune Kawahara
genre: romantic comedy, drama
plot summary: "Haruna Nagashima gave her all to softball in middle school, now that she has made her high school debut, she has decided to give her all for a new goal: getting a boyfriend and falling in love. However, she has one small problem—since she never paid any attention to fashion or trends in middle school, she has no idea how to go about attracting her yet-to-be-found love. But a chance encounter with the popular Yoh Komiyama provides her with the opportunity she needs. If he coaches her in how to become attractive, surely she can find herself a boyfriend. He agrees to coach Haruna after her great persistence but on one condition: she mustn't fall in love with him." -- Wikipedia

I have a little bit of a bias toward this series since it's one I really like a lot. I've read it multiple times and still get enjoyment out of it. The overall story is good with the travails of a formerly athletic (and a little bit dorky) girl who tries to change her image once she enters high school. 

The characters are very likable, in particular the main character of Haruna. She's not drop dead gorgeous or perfect. She's very much flawed and insecure, but her earnestness and general personality make it that you want to root for her. 

The artwork is pretty decent. I will admit I've seen better rendered characters, but it's pretty pleasing and the characters are very distinct, and you can tell the characters apart pretty easily. Normally I tend to be a bit of an art snob when it comes to manga. If the story is good, yet the art is terrible, I don't tend to read it. Manga is a very visual medium, and if it's not pleasing to the eye, then it's difficult to read. At least for me.

There are a total of 13 volumes, all of which have been released in English by Viz Media. The volumes are difficult to find in bookstore since the series has been finished for awhile, but they can all be found on Amazon

Instead of being made into an anime like the majority of manga tends to be, this series was adapted into a live action movie. Now, I've seen the movie, and despite a few minor changes here and there, I enjoyed it and found it to be cute. 

So I highly recommend this series if you like a nice fun and cute story with humor and a touch of drama. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Now I realize I haven't posted an entry in a while, and I apologize for that. I've been on vacation for a few weeks, and a lot of my time was taken up with that and preparation for that.

However, I did find an old LiveJournal I used to keep that I had originally used for various Anime and Manga topics, primarily reviews. So, while I try to gather my thoughts and info for my next original entry, I'll be posting some of the old entries here (with some additional notes here and there) in the meantime.

Oh and I do apologize ahead of time for any fangirlishness I may engage in occasionally.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

What type of manga is for you?

As I mentioned before, manga isn't just a medium in and of itself. Like any other genre, it has sub-genres. There are types of stories for pretty much everyone.

I'd like to give a little bit of attention to different ones individually. First, I thought I'd focus on what is known as "Magical Girl" manga.

Magical Girl stories are shoujo stories with the focus on a young girl heroine (usually a teen or pre-teen school girl) who possess supernatural, or "magical" abilities and fight the forces of evil.  Usually they have a secret identity as an average school girl.

In most cases, there are special transformation sequences and specific abilities for specific goals. A few of the most common series are Cardcaptor Sakura, Sailor Moon and Princess Tutu.

Sailor Moon, one of the most popular and well known Magical Girl series.

While rarer, there are a few Magical Boy manga series that are being published such as D.N. Angel and Negima! 

D.N. Angel, a popular Magical Boy series by Yukiru Sagisaki

Magical Girl series tend to follow four basic archetypes:

Cute Witch - generally considered the original Magical Girl archetype, the magic is usually mundane to the character. Sometimes she's otherworldly, other times she's a witch in training and learning to get a license to practice magic.

Idol Performer - the main character's secret identity is that of a popular pop singer, or idol. Oftentimes, they are other performance artists, such as a dancer or an actress and gained her ability either through magic or uses her natural artistic abilities to fight crime or solve mysteries. Fight moves tend to be sing offs or dance competitions. 

Woman Warrior - Typically of the martial artist/superheroine archetype. This tends to have a broader appeal to general audiences. Oftentimes represents a period of growth throughout the series for the character. Has a number of mystical elements involved and the main characters is sometimes a reluctant fighter.

Phantom Thief - Are usually more fantastical in subject matter. The main character is more of an anti-hero and is considered a 'super criminal' who escapes without being caught or leaving any evidence behind. Tends to be more of a vigilante than a true criminal, even though the police feel they have an obligation to catch them. Uses trickery and has a strict moral code.

For more in depth information, please check out the Wikipedia page on the subject.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Just an amusing interlude while I compile my next post. Enjoy! 

I must say, I can relate to this in sooooo many ways! :-)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Namesake Volume One

My original intention with this blog was to mainly focus on manga, anime and Graphic Novels as originally published, however since there is a fairly common GN form that's becoming more and more popular now: the published webcomic.

Webcomics are just what they say they are, comics published on the web. However, instead of printed comics being archived on the internet, these are comics that originally are posted on the web and later on compiled into printed books. 

The one I'll be talking about in particular in this post is called Namesake. According to the description from the website:

Namesake is the story of Emma Crewe, a woman who discovers she can visit other worlds. She finds out that these are places she already knows – fantasy and fairy lands made famous through the spoken word, literature and cinema. Her power as a Namesake forces her to act as a protagonist in these familiar stories as she figures out how to get home.
But as she travels, she discovers that those controlling her story have their own selfish goals in mind – and her fate is the key to everyone’s happy ending.
Join Emma, her sister Elaine and their friends as they tumble down the rabbit hole.
If you like, adventure, humor, stories of friendship, fairy tales and fantasy, this is the webcomic for you.
 With this particular title, I happen to be good friends with both of the creators, Isabelle and Megan via LiveJournal. I saw the genesis of the series and the eventual birth. Truth be told, it was an amazing process to witness. I do my part in the fandom by starting both the LiveJournal fan page as well as the fanart page on deviantArt.

Now, it's available in printed form that can be purchased from the website. Since I participated in the Kickstarter campaign that enabled them to get it printed, I was not only able to get a copy of the book, but a few extras as well, such as a digital copy, jewelry pendants and prints.

The cover of volume one

The quality of the book is very good, with 144 thick glossy pages with good print quality and color. The pages are a decent size where the details can be seen with easy to read print. With a price of $20.00 it's a good price for the quality.

A few select pages from the comic.

The book is available for purchase here at the online store. You can read the entire comic here at the main website.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

What IS Manga, exactly?

Well, first thing's first -- what exactly IS Manga?

The literal definition is man-which means "random, uncontrolled" and ga - which means "picture, sketch."

However, according to Wiktionary, it primarily means:


manga (countable and uncountable; plural manga or mangas)
(uncountable) An artistic style heavily used in, and associated with, Japanese comics, and that has also been adopted by a comparatively low number of comics from other countries.
(countable) A comic originated in Japan, regardless of the artistic style.
(rare, countable, chiefly proscribed by fandom slang) A comic in manga style, regardless of the country of origin.
It's commonly recognized by a particular style known as "Big Eyes Small Mouth". It's pretty much what it says. The characters are typically drawn with large expressive eyes and small mouths. It was strongly influenced by Western comics brought over to Japan from U.S. soldiers, particularly works of Walt Disney.

When Japan was restructuring itself after World War Two, an explosion of artistic expression also occurred. One of the earliest and most influential creators at this time was Osamu Tezuka who created the highly popular and very well known Astro Boy as well as many other popular works in the '50's and '60's.

It's still a highly popular business, especially since countries outside of Japan have bought the rights to, and translated, several titles in their own language.

Manga in itself is a medium that supports multiple genres. There are manga for boys (known as shounen) which tend to be more fantasy and action based, as well as manga for girls (known as shoujo) which tend toward romance and magical adventures.

There are also seinen, which is targeted toward older boys and young men and josei, which is aimed for older girls and young women. These stories tend to have more mature and complex story-lines to them than typical manga meant for younger readers.

Well, here's hoping I helped to explain a little more about manga in general. I do plan to have other posts going into more detail about specific titles and genres within manga as well as a few definitions that one might come across. I also plan to detail the slight differences between manga and anime.

The kanji for manga.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Intro Post!

Welcome everyone to my blog about anime, manga and graphic novels for newbies.

Granted, I'm no expert or anything. I just thought due to my obsessive researching and more than minor fangeeking, I thought I'd start this little project (with some prodding from my mother) to help those of you out there who might not know all that much about manga or anime or even graphic novels in general.

Hopefully I can explain a little bit about it and maybe have a word definition of the day and whatnot, so let's see where this goes!

First of all, all manga (Mahn-ga) or Japanese comics, are considered Graphic Novels but not all Graphic Novels are considered Manga. Well, not in the West at least. The Japanese have slightly looser definitions.

Most of the Japanese produced manga tend to be done in black and white and written by a writer/artist for the duration of the series. It lasts for as long as it's popular with the readers and for as long as the artist (or manga-ka) has a story to tell.

The majority are published in larger phone book sized volumes that come out weekly or monthly. We'll delve into the various categories and genres in a later post.

Weekly Shonen Jump

Well, let's cut this a little short for now since it's getting late and I do have a day job, lol! Besides, always leave 'em wanting more!