[Manga Monday] The Final Battle (Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch Saga #3) ★★★☆☆

finalbattle (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Final Battle
Series: Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch Saga #3
Author: Ryo Mizuno
Artist: Yoshihiko Ochi
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Words: 7K

 

Synopsis:

Chapter 16: Starts out with naming our characters and a one sentence lead about why they are in the story. Everyone returns to Roid, the capital of the kingdom of Valis. King Fahn welcomes back his daughter but makes sure to drive home the lesson that her running away, even for a good cause, cost the lives of several knights. Emperor Beld and Karla discuss the new alliance by the kingdoms on the island of Lodoss and Beld gives Karla permission to do as she sees fit. The chapter ends with Parn and Co coming to meet the king.

Chapter 17: Soldiers from the desert kingdom of Flaim are present at the court and King Kashu is seated next to King Fahn when Parn and Co approach. Everyone ends up discussing Karla and an Ancient Kingdom that was destroyed 500 years ago. Said Kingdom was inhabited by many powerful sorcerers and one sorceress was named Karla. With no real answers available, it is determined to go ask the Sage Wort (one of the 6 Heroes of King Fahn’s generation) and see what he knows. Parn and Co volunteer and even when told that their path will go through an abandoned Dwarven Hold now controlled by a dragon and goblins, they aren’t persuaded to abandon the quest.

Chapter 18: Wort the Sage is spying on Parn and Co through a crystal ball and we see him talking to Karla. He tells her to what she pleases with the company and she says she still wants them to join her. Wort remembers his adventures with Fahn, Beld and the others and we see the reason Beld is trying to take over Lodoss, to unite it under one king and to bring peace to the whole land. Wort realizes that Beld is imply a pawn in whatever scheme Karla has going. Parn and Co meet Wort and Karla and Karla reveals that both Beld and Fahn have the same dream of bringing peace to Lodoss, one through the power of darkness and the other through the power of light. Karla reveals how the Ancient Kingdom fell and that its destruction was completed by savage barbarians. Her goal appears to be to stop such a thing from happening again.

Chapter 19: Karla claims that neither light nor darkness can bring true peace, but that only a balance between them is the the surest way to lessen warfare. Karla has been interfering in events for 500 years, stirring up small wars so neither light nor darkness can get enough power to overwhelm the other. Small continual warfare is her answer to preventing another huge conflagration that will destroy civilization. Parn summarily rejects her reasoning and Karla leaves, vowing she is still their enemy. King Fahn and King Kashu are discussing how Beld seems to be sowing discord amongst the Alliance and they realize one all out battle is what is necessary. Parn and Co return from Wort’s tower. Everyone get’s upgrade, Parn is a full knight of Valis, Etoh is now a high priest and Slayn is now full sorcerer. Ghim and Deedlit give their rewards to Woodchuck. Ghim is making a magical comb for Leylia, Karla’s host body and Deedlit realizes everyone is going to have to go war.

Chapter 20: We switch back in time to Parn and Co talking with Wort. Ghim reveals that Karla takes over bodies now to survive and that Leylia is her latest victim. His goal is get Leylia back. Wort reveals that Karla won’t help Beld anymore if he, Wort, won’t help Fahn. He then tells Parn how to destroy Karla and save Leylia. Karla takes over the person who kills her current host body, so they have to take her alive and remove the circlet that is her center of power. Wort gives them a magic wand that will temporarily dispel all magic in its vicinity. Parn relays this all to Fahn and Kashu back in the present and everyone prepares for a final confrontation with Beld. Ghim goes with Slayn, as only they can entrap Karla while Deedlit accompanies Parn and uses her magic to protect him.

Chapter 21: The fighting commences and Slayn tries to put all of Beld’s army to sleep to prevent bloodshed. Beld releases fire salamanders, regardless of the carnage it causes among his own soldiers. Wagnard uses a dark elf to kill the Sage of Valis and Fahn and Beld meet for a final showdown. Beld prevails and Parn is prevented from avenging Fahn by a knight of Marmo named Ashuram. Kashu then challenges Beld to another duel. Karla shoots Beld in the chest with an arrow, thus allowing Kashu to kill Beld. Ashurum takes up Beld’s sword of darkness and retreats with the remaining forces of Marmo. Parn and Co realize this is the exact outcome that Karla wanted. Parn vows to hunt Karla down and put an end to her meddling that costs so many lives.

Chapter 22: Parn and Co attack Karla at her tower. We flashback to see Woodchuck being commissioned to steal the circlet of Karla’s power off of Leylia’s body. Parn and Co are just a distraction to gain Karla’s attention. Ghim confronts Karla and appeals to the suppressed Leylia. Karla kills Ghim and that sets Leylia off, giving Woodchuck an opportunity to steal the circlet. Unfortunately, Woodchuck’s bitterness about his life leads him to put the circlet on, thinking he can control its powers. This allows Karla to keep on surviving, even if in a body without the capability of using magic. Etoh returns to Valis and Princess Fianna, while Slayn returns Leylia and Ghim’s body back to Neece. Parn and Deedlit begin a new quest of hunting down Karla and trying to rescue Woodchuck.

 

My Thoughts:

When I was done reading, I wasn’t really sure what to think. Except that I had just read a D&D campaign where the campaign was over, the villain gets away and this leads to yet another campaign to be played at a later date. It didn’t help that the OVA anime jams in another storyline and adds some real pathos and relational drama between Parn and Deedlit.

Speaking of relationships. I’m usually not a fan of that kind of thing playing a big part in the stories I read. However, everything between everyone was so understated that I found myself actually wanting something from them. Deedlit and Parn are a couple but you’d never know it besides the fact that she keeps hanging around Parn and protecting him. Etoh and Princess Fianna do nothing but blush at each other and Slay and Leylia haven’t even started their relationship yet. I wanted the romance from the anime.

And I guess that sums up the issues with this. This is a fine manga on its own. But for me, Lodoss started with the OVA and that is the metric that I measure everything related to Lodoss by. It’s not fair, but that is just how it is. I mentioned in the review for book 2 that I have some more Lodoss manga and that I was wavering about reading it. I have decided that I won’t be. The Chronicles of the Heroic Knight deal with a new cast of characters taking over from Parn, Deedlit, etc and Deedlit’s Tale is a shojo manga that involves a high dark elf trying to take Deedlit’s affections from Parn. I don’t want THAT much relational drama.

Glad I read these but I feel no need to hold onto them or the other Lodoss manga I own. Not sure if I’ll try to sell them online or do a book giveaway. The last 2 book giveaways fizzled and I’m not sure that old manga series is going to do better than some Michael Crichton techno-thrillers 😀

Once again, the individual covers were fantastic. This one really showcases the snub-nose art that predominates the mana. The anime was much more classical anime with small, curvy, pointy noises, but the manga-ka here wasn’t afraid to show those schnozzes!

The Grey Witch 16 - Cover

 

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

[Manga Monday] Birth of a New Knight (Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch Saga #2) ★★★☆☆

birthofanewknight (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Birth of a New Knight
Series: Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch Saga #2
Author: Ryo Mizuno
Artist: Yoshihiko Ochi
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 214
Words: 7K

 

Synopsis:

Chapter 9: The Gang meets a group of Holy Knights who are chasing the carriage with Karla and the princess. Parn chases after them to “help” and of course everyone else is dragged along. Before they can catch up a fireball explodes and Deedlit has to summon a spirit of wind to see what has happened. Slayn intervenes and uses magic eyes to see what has happened. He sees Karla and her guards as the sole survivors and recognizes her as the woman in the painting in the manor from before.

Chapter 10: Parn is all set to go charging in to avenge the dead Holy Knights but everyone reins him in. Then Ghim reveals that Leylia is the spitting image of Karla and HE goes charging in. Only it is too late and Karla has left. Etoh revives the one surviving Holy Knight and tells them Karla had kidnapped the Princess. Everyone decides to go after Karla and rescue the princess. They catch up to Karla that night and surprise her. Ghim confirms Karla IS Leylia while she attacks him with magic.

Chapter 11: Karla releases a slumber spell and puts everyone to sleep. She has the remaining guards lock them up as she hopes to recruit Parn and Gang. Karla leaves to go get more guards and leaves a skeleton warrior to guard the gang. Our gang defeat the skeleton warrior and prepare to take on the remaining human guards. They then rescue the Princes and head back to the capital of Vallis.

Chapter 12: They then rescue the Princes and head back to the capital of Vallis.

Chapter 13: Karla catches up to them, offers to let them join her and tells them what she is doing is best for Lodoss overall. The Gang refuses and Karla prepares to incinerate them all.

Chapter 14: Everyone attacks Karla but she doesn’t destroy them all for some reason. She just holds them off with a shield spell. Then a bunch of Holy Knights show up with the Head Sorcerer of Valis. Karla makes her escape using a spell that only a High Priestess of Marfa could use, confirming that she is indeed Leylia. Parn reveals his father’s name to the Holy Knights and they all react negatively to the news.

Chapter 15: The Sorcerer reveals to Parn how his father died and that he did not die in disgrace as Parn has always been afraid he did. As a reward for saving the Princess the Sorcerer promises Parn that the truth of his father shall be known to all.

 

My Thoughts:

I did not enjoy this volume quite as much as the previous. Mainly because I could almost hear the dice rolling as the story moved along.

While I know that Karla IS Leylia, and I even know why because of the anime, the continued “mystery” and her evil villain monologue of all 2 sentences about doing everything for the good of Lodoss just had me rolling my eyes.

I have the sequel series in manga as well (in regular tankubon size. This Grey Witch Saga has been in the trade paperback size and I really appreciate that) and I was considering reading them next, but I am seriously reconsidering that now.

Thank goodness for the chapter covers. Those at least are still fantastic.

The Grey Witch 09 - Cover

 

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

[Manga Monday] A Gathering of Heroes (Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch Saga #1) ★★★☆½

agatheringofheroes (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: A Gathering of Heroes
Series: Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch Saga #1
Author: Ryo Mizuno
Artist: Yoshihiko Ochi
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 214
Words: 7K

 

Synopsis:

Chapter 1 introduces to the world of Lodoss and how a generation ago 7 heroes fought against the dark god and re-chained him. That story is told by a blind bard to an elf named Deedlit. They are then attacked in daylight by goblins, something unheard of. We then switch to the dwarf Ghim, who is taking leave of Neese, a high priestess. Neese’s daughter Leylia was kidnapped 6 years ago and Ghim means to find her and rescue her. We are also introduced to Parn and Etoh, a young knight and priest respectively. Parn has seen goblin attacks in his recent journey and is trying to rouse the villagers in defense. They ignore him so he and Etoh go after the goblin band themselves.

Chapter 2: Parn and Etoh fight the goblins but only succeed because Ghim hears the sound of fighting and helps them. Parn is wounded with a poison knife and Ghim takes him to the sorcerer Slayn for healing. Slayn apparently knew Parn’s father in the past. They all decide to go on a quest to find out why the goblins are active in the day. We switch to the city of Kanon, where a castle lies. Guards see a fleet of battleships approaching from the dark island of Marmo. The sorceress Karla appears and destroys the fortress, allowing the fleet to unload all of its warriors. Last off the ship is Emperor Beld, one of the 7 heroes, who has become an evil villain.

Chapter 3: Beld reveals to Karla that he intends to rule the entire island of Lodoss. Parn and Co are now in Allan, capital city of Allania, one of the kingdoms of Lodoss. The kingdom is celebrating the birth of the new heir. Parn sees a woman being attacked and comes to her rescue, only it turns out to be the elf Deedlit, who takes care of business all by herself. Parn is instantly smitten. Slayn meanwhile visits his old university only to find it abandoned and neglected. Deedlit takes Parn out to dinner as thanks for stepping in. We see Woodchuck, a thief just released from prison, picking a pocket and running away.

Chapter 4: We see Woodchuck making some sort of deal with the Thieves Guild. Deedlit brings a drunk Parn back to his inn and she meets Slayn. The next morning Slayn relates his discoveries of his old school and how it was destroyed by a former student, one Wagnard, who turned to black magic and was expelled. Wagnard learned some powerful magic, returned, killed all the wizards and plundered and destroyed the school. Parn gets angry that the wizards didn’t fight back and Woodchuck, who is having breakfast at the inn, mocks Parn for his naivete.

Chapter 5: Woodchuck tells a tale of how it wasn’t Wagnard that plundered the school but some unlicensed thieves and how the guild wants them punished. Woodchuck claims to know where the plunder is but that it is now guarded by minions of Emperor Beld. The group goes off to investigate. Slayn and Deedlit confront a dark elf while the other explore the inside of the manor.

Chapter 6: Deedlit, Slayn and Woodchuck defeat the dark elf. Inside, Parn and Ghim kill 3 soldiers of Marmo and find a plan that looks like an attempt at assassinating the King of Allania. They find a magically sealed door. The room doesn’t hold any of the schools books but there is a note signed by Karla and a picture of her upon the wall. Ghim seems to recognize it. The group brings the plan to the King and the assassination is thwarted. Woodchuck asks to join the group. The chapter ends with Allania finding out about Beld’s invasion and due to an alliance made in the previous war, they must come to Kanon’s assistance.

Chapter 7: Allania has decided to barricade themselves in against Beld instead of fighting against him. Parn gets angry and tells everyone he’s going to Vallis to see if that kingdom will mobilize against Beld. His only way to Vallas, though, is through the Forest of No Return. Deedlit guides them through the Forest and reveals to Slayn that she is one of the last existing High Elves.

Chapter 8: Karla is reciting how the gods themselves warred and brought destruction to the land and how even now humans fight amongst themselves for more and more power. Her goal is to put a stop to the fighting and destruction, everywhere. Beld reveals to Wagnard that his fight is personal against King Fahn of Vallis. Parn and Gang are on their way to Vallis when they meet Karla,who has kidnapped Fianna, daugher of Fahn.

 

My Thoughts:

My memories of the Record of Lodoss War start with the anime and the original 13 episode OVA. The manga came much later. In all honesty, it is probably a good thing.

This is basically a Dungeons & Dragons campaign scenario. You have The Group with your various “character types” and an overarching campaign goal of stopping Beld’s invasion, while each individual character has their own little sub-goal.

The style itself is different enough from the anime that it was a bit jarring at first. The noses are much snubbier and everyone isn’t as streamlined as in the anime. Rougher is probably the best word. It’s not bad by any means just different.

I read these 8 chapters in one collected volume, but the original manga was released in 8 comics and THOSE covers were gorgeous! I’ve included one as a sample.

The Grey Witch 03 - Cover

 

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

[Manga Monday] Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #5 ★★★★☆

karekano5 (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #5
Author: Masami Tsuda
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Words: 6.1K

 

Synopsis:

Chapter 17: Miyazawa has a girls afternoon out with everyone and we get how some of the other girls met and what drew them together. They also start talking about their futures and Miyazawa realizes she has no plans for the future besides being the best at school. The chapter ends with Tsubasa revealing that her dad wants to re-marry and that she is running away to change his mind.

Chapte 18: Tsubasa tries to wheedle a way into staying at Miyazawa’s place, but one of her other friends takes control and tells her to grow up and that her dad will be coming to deal with the situation after work. He shows up and begins relating what has led up to this moment. Tsubasa ends up staying at Miyazawa’s house until things get better between Tsubasa and her dad. We are introduced to Kazuma, the son of the woman Tsubasa’s dad wants to marry. He’s the same age as Tsubasa and has his own reservations about the marriage.

Chapter 19: Tsubasa realizes she’s been acting like a spoiled brat and goes home. She tells her dad she’s ok with the re-marriage. They all get together to meet the son, for the first time. Things seem to be going well until Kazuma makes a comment about Tsubasa being in elementary school when she is actually older than him. She goes off the rails. The next day Tsubasa is being hit on by an old pervert and Kazuma comes to her rescue. They end up going to his house and have a real good bonding time. Tsubasa realizes that Kazuma comes home to an empty house every day just like her and that he understands her circumstances. She begins to realize how good having a family could be.

Chapter 20: Asaba comes to visit Miyazawa and her family while Arima is away. We get some of his backstory. Miyazawa is also starting to realize just how much she doesn’t know about Arima and it makes her feel very insecure.

Chapter 21: Miyazawa and her family go to visit her grandfather. Her father remembers her mother at that age and says Miyazawa is growing up to look just like her. Miyazawa’s father and maternal grandfather don’t get along. We get the backstory for Miyazawa’s father as he grew up without any parents and how he met Miyazawa’s mom.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a good volume. I enjoyed the various storylines about all the different families. I suspect most of my enjoyment was because the teen romance angle was almost non-existent and this was more about family relationships.

That being said, I am done with the series. Just like I can no longer eat a family sized bag of 4 Cheese Doritos (I was so sad when they stopped making that kind) like I could in my 20’s, I simply can’t read about the emotional roller coaster that is the teen life. Just like the stick in the mud that I take my life’s inspiration from, I am comfortably settled and don’t want anything unsettling me 🙂

I am thinking my next comic/manga/graphic novel read will probably either be some Asterix books or the Lodoss: Grey Witch trilogy manga.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

[Manga Monday] Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #4 ★★★☆☆

karekano4 (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #4
Author: Masami Tsuda
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Words: 6.1K

 

Synopsis:

Chapter 13: We are introduced to a new character, Tsubasa. She’s been in the hospital but has had her eye on Arima for quite some time. She now vows, in true typical highschoolgirl drama fashion, to break up Miyazawa and Arima. She’s not subtle about it and Arima catches her in the act. Miyazawa realizes she is doing it because she is jealous while Arima is left wondering why his middleschool friend is acting so weird. Miyazawa is dealing with this while still being ostracized in her own classroom.

Chapter 14: Arima finally realizes something is going on between Miyazawa and all the other girls. Miyazawa makes him promise to stay out of it and let her handle the situation. Tsubasa continues her campaign to fight against Miyazawa, but all of Tsubasa’s friends start liking Miyazawa for how she handles the situation and they end up all going out for juice. Tsukino, the girl who has been uniting the class against Miyazawa, is forced to confront Miyazawa and shows her true colors. She also runs into Tsubasa who lays claim to the title of “Miyazawa’s Arch Enemy”.

Chapter 15: Several story threads about Miyazawa making both Tsubasa and Tsukino, while not exactly her friends, at least not her enemies.

Chapter 16: Arima reveals that he’s going to be super busy for the summer and won’t be able to hang out with Miyazawa for a month. Everyone gets angsty.

Extra Chapter: A story about aliens and humans and everyone accepting everyone else, blah blah blah.

 

My Thoughts:

Oh man, what do I say about this without sounding like a negative nancy?

This is a highschool romance drama written by a woman. As such, it isn’t in my usual area of enjoyment. It is meant for a person who is emotionally unsettled, or wants to re-experience that unsettled feeling again (why any adult would want to do that is beyond me). A teen or young adult will eat this up, as it will validate everything they’re experiencing. Man, I remember those days and you know what, I’m glad they are behind me. I don’t think there is anything wrong with manga like these, they just aren’t for me anymore.

I thought I could continue to read these, but I am having a much harder time than I expected. I’m going to try one more volume, but my hopes aren’t very high. I’ve outgrown these and there is no going back (thank goodness!)

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

[Manga Monday] Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #3 ★★★☆½

karekano3 (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #3
Author: Masami Tsuda
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Words: 6.1K

 

Synopsis:

Miyazawa takes her two younger sisters over to Arima’s house and they go nuts planting sunflowers in the big yard. Asaba walks out of the house in just a bathrobe and starts needling Miyazawa. Once he sees what her little sisters are doing though, he starts helping them out. Miyazawa and Arima discuss the recent final exams and feel like their relationship has taken a toll on their grades. The next day at school the results are posted and both have dropped in the rankings. They are called to the main office and several of the teachers tell them to stop dating and concentrate on their schoolwork.

Miyazawa breaks out into her “home mode” attitude and tells the teachers they are wrong. When they begin to remonstrate, Arima steps in and says that they’re grades will improve so there is no need to worry. Miyazawa realizes that her goals have shifted from wanting to be Number One to wanting to be a real genuine person and that Arima wants the same and is supportive of that goal. The chapter ends with Yukino’s parents (Miyazawa) being called to a parent/teacher conference at her school.

Yukino relates how her parents reacted, which was for her dad to go all gung-ho in her defense, as he and Yukino’s mom were married young. Both of her parents promise to bring weapons to the conference and “fight” for their daughter! At the conference both sets of guardians and the 2 students are there. The teacher outlines his worries and asks the guardians to step in and prevent the relationship from interfering with the students’ academic life. Yukino’s dad pretty much tells the teacher to stuff it (very politely) as their policy is to let their children choose their own path. Arima’s Aunt and Uncle also say that Arima acting like a normal teenager is actually a comfort to them and they will not interfere. Yukino and Arima apologize to the teacher for their reactions to his statement and he admits he didn’t handle things in the best way, so peace is achieved and both of the kids realize they do need to concentrate on their studies.

It is Make-Up day at school, so both Yukino and Arima have the day off. Yukino heads over to Arima’s house and gets all flustered and girly when Arima tells her that his guardians won’t be there. So when she arrives she’s prepared for some sort of seduction. Only to find Asaba in the kitched cooking and acting like Arima’s house maid. Asaba failed most of his classes but didn’t realize today was Make-Up day, so they hustle him off to school, like parents of a not-particularly bright child. They end up in Arima’s room….reading. Yukino pesters Arima until he pays attention to her and they share another kiss. Yukino feels very grown up and Arima lets her know how much self-control he exerts when around her.

The girls of Yukino’s class are discussing her and Arima and another girl starts talking about how fake Yukino is and casting doubt into the minds of the other girls about whether Yukino is actually so good. She says that Yukino has captured Arima’s heart through false pretenses and causes the girls to turn against Yukino. Tsukino (the new character) begins a campaign of smear tactics and little by little turns the class against Yukino. Tsukino was head of her class in middle grade and resents that Yukino has eclipsed her. Yukino admits to herself that it bothers her but vows to keep on going and let the chips fall where they may.

 

My Thoughts:

Reading this, I was struck by how much I actually agreed with the teacher about the relationship between Yukino and Arima. Now, I completely disagreed about how he handled things, ie, calling them into the office and forbidding them from seeing each other, but I wonder/suspect if that is more a cultural thing. Tell an American he can’t do something and chances are he’ll just tell you to go to Tartarus as he’s an Independent Entity. With the Japanese being much more Group Oriented, the behavior of the teacher makes more sense. I would have talked to the parents alone and gotten their input first and foremost. But yep, I agreed with him that putting a highschool relationship before your grades is a big no-no.

I had to laugh when Yukino went over to Arima’s and they ended up reading together. Mrs B and I do that all the time and thankfully, we’re both content in that. I think a big part of that though is that we’re mature, married and a lot more confident about the other person then when we had first gotten married. So I totally understood Yukino’s reaction to it.

The introduction of Tsukino as a character and her “snake in the grass” approach is definitely very high school drama’y. Her campaign to turn the girls against Yukino, which works and happens in like 2 days, is sad in how much truth it contains about how easily kid’s minds are manipulated. I don’t remember what happens, so I have no idea whether she’ll end up like Asaba (starting out as an enemy and turning into a friend) or if she stays a nemesis. My goodness though, makes me glad I’m not a girl.

Overall, I enjoyed this a lot more than I was expecting but I think my one volume per month rule is helping in that regards. Not sure I could handle more than that and not burn out. My emotions, while not burning so bright, are steady. After the turbulence of my own teen and 20something years, I welcome that steadiness. I guess I am liking this series because it is helping me see how I have changed over the years and that just fascinates me!

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #2 ★★★☆½

karekano2 (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #2
Author: Masami Tsuda
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback Copy

 

Synopsis:

Miyazawa and Arima continue their relationship but both are still dealing with putting up a fake persona for the public to see. Arima catches Miyazawa ostensibly reading Bridges of Madison County but that is just a cover for her reading a fashion magazine. Of course, everyone also thinks they are going out as a couple but the truth is they are just friends, even while having feelings for each other.

Miyazaw has decided that she will return Arima’s confession but every time she tries to confess to him, she gets interrupted. She is also wondering if Arima still likes her and just doesn’t have the courage to tell him how she feels. Arima asks her, again, for her answer to his confession and she runs away. She realizes that she is afraid of letting someone in to her life and decides that she will answer Arima. The next day in class she holds his hand and that is her answer.

2 months pass and the school festival begins. Both Miyazaw and Arima, being the top of their class, are on committees for everything and are as busy as can be. Neither know how to deal with being so busy and having a relationship. They realize that they can’t have a “normal” relationship and so must make what they have work. Once they realize that, things start to go much smoother for them.

The next chapter introduces Hideaki Asaba, one of Arima’s friends, who is also good looking, smart and popular. Miyazawa decides to introduce herself and Asaba cuts her off sharply. A war begins between them until Arima tells Miyazaw that Asaba is just someone he talks to. Asaba and Miyazawa meet and Asaba reveals that his interest in Arima is to use him as a magnet to attract more girls, as Asaba’s dream is to have a generic harem of girls around him at all times. Asaba plays on Miyazawa’s doubt about her worthiness to be with Arima and it shows in her behavior. Arima takes Asaba to task for hurting Miyazawa. Asaba and Miyazaw make up and become mutual friends and Asaba grows up a little by giving up his dream of becoming a Harem King.

The final chapter is a review chapter of how Miyazawa and Arima met, from Arima’s perspective.

 

My Thoughts:

This is definitely a manga that I can only take in very small doses. The amount of “emotions” swirling around is akin to a hurricane. And yet, it made me remember my first time of falling in love. I was 19 and from that point on, until I met and married Mrs B, I was a maelstrom on the inside, with chaos occasionally breaking out to reveal that inner turmoil. All I can say is thank goodness we don’t remain teenagers with hormones forever. You can’t sustain that level of emotion forever without burning out.

So I guess I’m bashing on this series and praising it all at the same time?

Arima, the male main character, is definitely not your normal male. He’s one of those feel’ers and this makes him a lot more vulnerable. Being of this bent myself, I really felt bad for him even while yelling at him in my head to man up and stop whining. What he needs is a mentor and I know that never happens in this series. That could be an interesting side of things in a shojo manga.

Now Miyazawa on the other hand is everything I expect from a teen girl. Even a wicked smart, determined one. She looks at Arima and turns into butter, a little pile of sighing, melted butter I might add. I’d have thought it was over the top except Mrs B has made it known that, no, this happens. So I just accept it as one of those mysteries of life 😀

The drama has ratcheted up already, with the introduction of Asaba and the war between him and Miyazawa. Thankfully, the friendship isn’t destroyed and Asaba turns into an ally. Friendship is much more important to young people than romantic interest even if they don’t think so. I like to see friendship and romance being allies and not enemies and so far the manga-ka is doing that dance rather well.

Speaking of the manga-ka, she does a LOT in the side bars of each page. She does little stick’ish figure type drawings of herself and things she’s interested in. It is funny little things and adds to the sweet, saccharine flavor of the manga.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

[Manga Monday] Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #1

karekano1 (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #1
Series: Kare Kano: His & Her Circumstances #1
Author: Masami Tsuda
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Yukino Miyazawa is an average girl who works excessively hard to present a perfect social image. Her true identity is discovered by her rival, Soichiro Arima who blackmails her into helping him maintain his status as the perfect student. Their interactions cause Yukino to fall in love with Soichiro who likewise, discovers his true personality under his stoic facade. Soichiro begins to express angst in his new personality, believing he will become like his abusive parents. However, Yukino comforts him and Soichiro confesses his love to her in response.

There is a smaller second story about a young woman who hides because she is afraid and a young man who accidentally gets involved in her life. She begins to learn to not be afraid and he begins to learn to think about other people instead of just brushing them aside.

 

My Thoughts:

Given that this is my third time reading this you’d think I’d remember more beyond knowing it is a highschool drama. But nope, not a bleeding thing. So this was like reading it for the first time.

First off, I appear to have a soft spot for highschool drama, even while castigating it and rolling my eyes. Otherwise I can’t explain why I enjoyed this so much. Two 15 year olds filled with young pride and angst learning to navigate Life and thinking that nobody before them has ever encountered the same horrible problems that are currently destroying their lives. Hahahahahaa.

I am not expecting to be able to make it through the whole series even while I really enjoyed this volume. The second couple’s story I think sets the theme for the whole series. The two main characters and their issues and then side stories about ancillary characters.

Not a bad way to spend an hour or so.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

[Manga Monday] Yotsuba&! #14 ★★★★☆

yotsuba14 (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Yotsuba&! #14
Series: Yotsuba&!
Author: Kiyohiko Azuma
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 224
Format: Paperback Copy

 

Synopsis:

Yotsuba has a ton of adventures. She learns to make bead necklaces and helps her daddy run his business. She also gets a princess dress from one of her neighbors and goes to yoga. Then the big adventure is when she and daddy go to Tokyo. They eat cotton candy and crepes and see aliens in the park! Then they meet daddy’s sister who gives them a car. They go to a fancy restaurant which has big pans of pudding. Yotsuba is happy.

 

My Thoughts:

Well, it’s been 3 years since I read the previous volume. Even longer than the wait between 12 and 13. I think this is done.

If it is done, this was a great way to end things. Yotsuba has tons of little adventures, is as cute and bold as always and ends the book in a car on a highway than can go “anywhere”. Unlimited possibilities, isn’t that what childhood should be?

I read my review for Vol. 13 and many of the same things apply. This wasn’t funny even while it was super cute. I didn’t have a problem with that this time around, probably because it’s been so long since I’ve read any Yotsuba&! that I kind of forgot it started out as humorous and not just cute.

This definitely was cuteness overload, in a good way. The manga-ka definitely nails the whole cute kid thing spot on, probably to the idealization level. Not having any kids of our own, I can’t tell. But I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to take your cues for real life from a manga, so I bet I’m safe.

I just checked and there have been 4 more chapters released between 2018 and now in the monthly magazine Yotsuba&! is in. This volume has 7 chapters, so we’re talking at least another year or 2 before there is enough material for another tankoubon. I’m ok with stopping this now. It ends on a great note and with no over-arching plot, there are no loose ends to tie up.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

[Manga Monday] A Song Someday (Shaman King #32) ★☆☆☆½ [Final]

asongsomeday (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: A Song Someday
Series: Shaman King #32
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 224
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

All the various groups are on the beach and Anna projects the mana numbers for everyone. The Gang is fighting the next Patch Officiant and Hao is at the last plant, preparing for the sleep that will put the Great Spirit within his grasp.

The Patch Officiant Number 3 kills Faust to prove how serious he is. He warns everyone to just give up, as they’ll run out of mana before even reaching Hao. Faust resurrects himself. And is promptly killed AGAIN by the Patch. Yoh then defeats the Patch through the Power of Love and Faust is a now a ghost.

The two kids who use the golem disappear from Mikihasa’s supervision. They want to attack Hao directly on Mu. They die in breaching the mana walls surrounding Mu but the golem is revealed to be powered by the soul of their mother and so they all keep on trying to kill Hao. Goldva, the Patch Chief, destroys them with the oversoul of the First Patch but the golem regenerates.

The next officiant takes down Horohoro but Yoh integrates with the ghost of Faust and fixes him up.

Team Gandala has gained 3 of the 5 ElementalSpirits and the Gandala leader is about to fight the King of Hell for the 4th.

One of the golem children, now a ghost, delivers the Spirit of Fire to Yoh, as Hao doesn’t need it anymore.

Yoh realizes, or reveals, or whatever, that the only true way to defeat Hao is to let him have what he wants and realize how empty that desire is.

The storyline ends with Anna and Manta saying they’re going to wrap up loose ends while Yoh and the Gang deal with Hao.

The manga-ka then includes an afterwords apologizing for ending things how he did.

We then jump about 10 or 15 years into the future and follow the son of Yoh and Anna. Anna sends Hana (the son, a 6 year old) to an American Prison with Ryu to find Jocono, now known as the Legendary Warrior. Ryu tries to break him out and ends up in jail himself. Hana then attacks some tourists thinking they’re trying to mug him. He ends up with Ryu in jail. Once released they make their way to a mountain seeking an old hermit. We then see the woman Hana knows as his mom, only she reveals herself to be Tamao, not Anna. She reveals that she’s been taking care of Hana and will tell him the truth on his birthday.

The book ends with 5 mysterious characters making their way towards Funbari Hot Springs and 2 of them appear to be Anna and Yoh.

 

My Thoughts:

So the series got cancelled and that is why the manga-ka wrapped things up, or didn’t. The fight scenes I didn’t care about at all and I gave the rating I felt it and the “ending” deserved. It sucked. The power-up’ing trope was out of control and I was bored. This had become like every other fighting shonen manga I’d ever read or watched and the multiplicity of groups just diluted any connection I had from the beginning.

The ending with Hana and Ryu and the revelations about Tamao was fantastic. It captured the spirit of what Shaman King started out with. The 5 Mysterious Strangers was an awesome thing. That part I gave 4 stars to but it just wasn’t enough to overcome the boring slugfest that came before.

 

Series Thoughts:

Shaman King started out fantastic. The friendships and interactions between Yoh, Manta and Ryu and Yoh and Ryu’s ghost allies worked really well. Ren was a good frenemy and could have carried the villain/anti-hero part for the series.

Things started to go downhill when “Avengers, Assemble!” began happening. While characters like Horohoro and Jocono were ok in and of themselves, including them began to dilute what Yoh had with both Manta and Ryu. Both of those characters ended up being sidelined and not taking much part of the story later on. The main characters became those who had power instead of those who were just friends with Yoh.

When Hao was introduced as the Ultimate Bad Guy and he just kept getting bigger and bigger, that is when I felt this series slid off the rails. Instead of telling an intriguing story, like had been going on, the manga-ka devolved to Power Up and Escalation. It was boring and cliched in the bad way. I’m not surprised the manga was cancelled due to lack of interest by this point.

The Epilogue with the son and everything was a complete return to form and if the manga-ka had managed something like this sooner I suspect the series might have lasted longer. Having said that, I looked up on Wikipedia and the sequel to Shaman King, following Hana, only lasted a couple of books then fizzled out. I’m guessing the manga-ka is great with initial ideas and creating fun characters but then runs out of how to keep them going. Maybe if he’d stuck with writing shorter series he’d have done better.

Overall, considering how this ended I’m pretty disappointed in it. The humor was what drew me in initially and that just slowly drained out as characters kept getting more and more powerful.

★☆☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)