[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)

 

[Manga Monday] A Good Woman (Shaman King #28) ★★★☆☆

agoodwoman (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 Good Woman
Series: Shaman King #28
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

The volume starts out with Lyserg alone in some deserted city and the title of the chapter is “Separated in Hell”. Then Team Ren, now separated, all get the same “You’re in Hell to train to become one of the 5 Warriors Speech”.

Back in the real world some of Hao’s minions are taunting Sati and Ryu about Lyserg being blown up and Ryu loses his cool and attacks them. Sati intervenes and tells Ryu he musn’t kill anyone, no matter the provocation. She is then stabbed by one of the minions.

Tamao and Manta survived the car explosion but Marco, Lady Jeanne and Lyserg are all dead. Tamao vows to safeguard their bodies until Sati can resurrect them. The minion of Hao who initially attacked them was also called on to destroy the bodies. Now Tamao, with help from Manta, must stand against the minion. Marco makes a comeback, thanks to Lady Jeanne blessing him right before they all died. Now that he’s resurrected, he’s stronger than ever and easily defeats the minion. Instead of killing him though, he tries to make a deal. Then Hao and Luchist show up and Marco gives his oversoul to Tamao so she can escape with the bodies of Lady Jeanne and Lyserg.

The island that the Shaman Fight is taking place on has now been revealed to the world since the X-Laws used a super-secret space laser on it. The Patch are trying to figure out what to do but reveal that the second part of the Tournament will take place somewhere where no one can interfere.

Anna shows up with the Golem to help Tamao and Marco and Hao reveals that he’s planning on making her his bride once he becomes Shaman King. A battle ensues between them. Also, another team of Hao Minions show up at the inn where the bodies of Team Ren are. If the bodies are destroyed, they can’t come back from hell.

Yoh faces down all the ogres and makes them take him to the king of hell, Yama. Ryu is fighting, uselessly, against the minions to protect Sati and Yoh’s bodies. Dr Faust resurrects Yoh. Yoh instructs him to resurrect Sati while he holds off the minions.

A warship shows up at the island, helmed by Tycoon Oyamada, Manta’s father.

Back at the Hotsprings Team Ren is resurrected by Jun Tao and Team Ren tests its new powers by taking on the Hao minions. The minions are recalled by Hao for “cleanup duty”, as are Hao’s minions all over the island.

Lyserg continues his training in hell.

The volume ends with Hao’s minions being told to “clean up” the warship. Dissension arises as some of them don’t want to fight non-shamans and infighting commences.

 

My Thoughts:

Phracking aye, this was a busy volume. Too much time is spent shifting around to various characters instead of just sticking with a core group. It also made me realize that I miss Manta. He’s not a shaman so he’s pretty much been sidelined for quite some time. However, his interactions with Yoh in the first few volumes were what were so great. I miss that.

The plot continues to expand, what with the “real world” now getting involved. It is tough enough that Hao has about 50 bazillion shaman minions, but then between the X-Laws and Gandala you had another bazillion people and then the core group of Yoh and his friends. Now adding outsiders? It just feels like the manga-ka is going as “wide” as he can. Focus has been lost and everything feels frenetic. I’m barely hanging by my fingernails to the plot because it’s become so twisty and convoluted.

I suspect the continued escalation of Everything would blow a teenagers mind. I’m not a teenager anymore so my mind is just bored.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

[Manga Monday] Shaman Fight (Shaman King #24) ★★★☆½

shamanfight (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: Shaman Fight
Series: Shaman King #24
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Anna shows up and calls out the ghost. He’s already seen the error of his ways thanks to Super Joco though and un-possesses his daughter and asks the gang to destroy the golem. Anna refuses and tells him to stop being stupid. They need the golem in the fight against Hao. So Munzer the ghost becomes part of Team Yoh.

The Patch are looking at their records and only 39 shamans are left in the fight. The Patch chief goes on about the Shaman fight not being a moral fight but one only of strength. He then sends 2 other Patch officiants to teach Silva (the officiant who qualified Yoh) a lesson, as Silva tried to steal some Patch artifacts to do something on his own.

One of Hao’s minions confronts Yoh and tells him if he doesn’t get back in the Shaman Fight that he, Hao, will destroy the golem AND the children. Yoh has a personal crisis with this threat. He doesn’t WANT to fight but he also wants to be Shaman King for a variety of good reasons. Anna tells Yoh to stop sulking and to get back in the fight. She’ll be a laughingstock otherwise.

Yoh heads over to the X-Laws and tells them he’s back in the Shaman Fight. This obviously doesn’t go over well with Marco, the Captain. 4 or 5 of the X-Law’s and their angels attack Yoh. Yoh avoids everything easily and tells Lyserg to stand clear so he doesn’t get hurt. Yoh fights off the minor Angels and then directly attacks Marco and his Archangel. Marco goes ballistic and then some stranger walks up to the boat claiming to be the creator of the X-Laws.

He, Luchist, also says he’s working with Hao and he has the 000 Angel, the Lucifer. He effortlessly destroys the minor shamans and their angels and Marco and his angel the Michael spring into attack mode. They beat the snot out of each other and Luchist is about to kill Marco when Yoh intervenes.

Both Luchist and Marco suddenly transform into skimpy leather clothing and Luchist begins lecturing Yoh about “Battle Clothes”. Then he and Marco really start fighting. Yoh and Lyserg wonder if they even should intervene and Lyserg wants to get Lady Jeanne to intervene but Yoh realizes Luchist’s real goal is to destroy Jeanne.

 

My Thoughts:

Much better. Michael and Lucifer fighting each other? That is the level of power I want to see!

Sadly, while I really did like the increased fighting, the battle scenes were wicked busy and it made it hard to parse out just what exactly was going on. It also didn’t help that the last 10 pages in this ebook version had the pages sideways. Not the fault of the manga-ka but still something I had to take into consideration.

I really want to kill the whole Patch tribe at the moment. They are NOT my favorites with their recent reveal about how they’re treating Silva for trying to help Yoh.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

[Manga Monday] Epilogue II (Shaman King #21) ★★★☆½

epilogueII (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: Epilogue II
Series: Shaman King #21
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Manta, Ryu and Tokagero arrive at the abandoned mansion where the X-Laws are reviving Ren. Ren is a spirit and doesn’t want to be revived since he knows it will mean Yoh has to drop out of the Shaman Fight but he can’t communicate with anyone, not even his spirit ally Bason. Lady Jeane revives him. He has a huge increase in mana ability so when Marco and his Angel spirit attack hims, he simply dodges out of the way.

Horohoro and Joco are walking along the beach trying to figure out what they’re going to do, as they don’t know Ren is back. They come across minions of Hao harassing some defeated shamans. Horohoro steps in even though there is no way he can materially affect the fight. At the same time his father and little sister appear and are watching to see what Horohoro does. Horohoro’s dad leaves and Hao’s minions try to stop him. Even though his mana is much lower than theirs, he flattens them with one punch and leaves. This gives Horohoro hope and he starts a fight with a Lego Man (no joke). He wins using his brains and ingenuity instead of straight up brawn. Lyserg shows up and defeats the final minion and brings Horohoro back to Yoh.

Another minion of Hao tracks them down and attacks them. Yoh has important news to tell the group so he designates Ryu to fight the minions while the rest of them simply leave. One of the minions falls to his death and his partner is all “eh, whatever”. That pisses Ryu off so he decides to stay and finish the fight instead of just delaying them.

 

My Thoughts:

Interesting tidbit that death and resurrection increase mana ability exponentially. Not the way I’d choose to get more powerful though!

The fighting is back and I’m glad for it. However, with all of these fights taking place outside of sanctioned Shaman Fights it just further cements the fact that the Patch are a corrupt bunch of scumbags. Or they’re playing a long game that we the audience aren’t aware of.

It is also obvious that Yoh has a plan even with him being out of the official Shaman Fight. I guess I’ll find out what it is next volume.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

[Manga Monday] Epilogue (Shaman King #20) ★★★☆½

Epilogue (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: Epilogue
Series: Shaman King #20
Author: Hiroyuki Takei
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 210
Format: Digital Copy

 

Synopsis:

Yoh convinces Anna to attend a public New Years Festival with him. Anna is overcome by all the emotions and ends up creating a Giant Demon, one that is intelligent. Matamune knew this was going to happen and prepared himself for the fight of a life. The demon tricks him though and kidnaps Anna to force her to create more spirits it can consume to become even bigger. Matamune has used up most of his power fighting the demon so it is up to Yoh to rescue Anna.

Matamune integrates with Yoh to give him enough power to overcome the demon. In doing so, he gives up all his power which sustained his physical body. Matamune is now a ghost. Anna realizes that there is more than just hate in the world, since Yoh is risking his life and Matamune is sacrificing his, for her. She takes back control of her power and Yoh is able to destroy the demon. Anna realizes she must learn to control her powers at all times and stops hating Yoh.

We jump forward in time back to the Shaman Fight. Yoh realizes he’s broken his promise to both Anna and Matamune but Anna reminds him that his real goal has always been to defeat Hao, even though he didn’t realize it. Becoming Shaman King was just a way to do that. Now Yoh must accomplish this goal on his own.

Lady Jeanne and the X-Laws are reviving Ren Tao but one of the X-Laws is planning on killing Ren again as soon as Ren show any aggression against them. Manta and Ryu are worried and head over to where the ceremony is taking place.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a good flashback storyline but it feels incredibly awkward to have it happen while Yoh is bowing out of the Shaman Fight. It’s a tossup I guess.

However, I totally saw the whole thing with the X-Laws coming. Lady Jeanne will keep the letter of the law but they want Ren dead so the X-Laws will become the hypocrites we know they are. I have to admit, it really bugs me that the manga-ka is focusing so much on how evil the X-Laws are. It comes across more as “Anyone who claims to want to follow the laws and enforce the laws is automatically a scumbag deep inside and if they had the power they’d just be tyrants”. It is almost like the manga-ka can’t figure out how to show how bad Hao is, so he’s using another team opposing Hao and saying “See, Hao is even worse than these guys”. The X-Laws should be paragons of Justice and circumventing their own rules on technicalities isn’t what Justice is about.

The intro by the manga-ka said there would be 2 more volumes in this “Epilogue” arc, so I’m guessing a lot of setup is going to happen for Yoh somehow opposing Hao outside of the Shaman Fight. But I could be completely wrong. When Yoh resigned from the Shaman Fight to save Ren, that just threw everything out the window as far as my expectations went.

Sometimes that is ok!

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)