Oyasumi Punpun Vol.1 by Inio Asano: review

おやすみプンプン 1Oyasumi Punpun Vol.1 by Inio Asano
Series: Oyasumi Punpun #1
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Mature Young Adult/Adult
Genre: Seinen, Humor, Slice-of-Life
Synopsis: Witness the titular Punpun – who is depicted as a tiny, caricatured bird in an otherwise normal human setting – as he copes with his dysfunctional family and friends, his love interest, his oncoming adolescence and his hyperactive mind.

My Thoughts:

Oyasumi Punpun is bizarre. This manga is a slice-of-life but it can get very surreal, strange, and even frightening. But it can also be very sweet, in a weird sort of way. I’m actually quite in love with this manga already. Bizarreness and sweetness are my two favorite things after all!

Before I say anything else about this manga, I must say this: I suggest that only mature readers pick up this manga. Oyasumi Punpun deals with sexuality, abuse, and even deals with religion a bit. Nudity is also scatter around. Also, Punpun’s hyperactive imagination, which is very surreal, can be disturbing. Seriously, there are actually a couple of panels that show dancing vaginas. 

Oyasumi Punpun is about the life of a little bird-looking character named Punpun. Punpun, while looking like a bird and has a family that looks like birds, lives in a human world. He lives with a dyfunctional family, goes to elementary school, prays to a God, and even has a crush, an eccentric girl named Aiko.

This sounds pretty normal, if you exclude the fact that Punpun is drawn as a bird. That’s the beauty of this manga– the fact that it is able to make seemingly normal things weird. It’s filled with surreal imagination, strange characters, and art that depicts emotion in a peculiar way. The story is a normal coming of age tale that is made bizarre just because of those three things. (Well, the story is mostly normal… something happened towards the end of the volume that just made me go ‘waaat?’)

But what makes Oyasumi Punpun so loved by me is the title character Punpun. Even though he is drawn like a bird, Punpun felt like a very real character to me. The way he goes through life, his reactions to things, and just the way he looks at the world as a whole is a pleasant thing to read about. Yes, his character is sort of sad, but it felt very dear.

We don’t get to see much of the supporting characters in this volume. Aiko is the only one we get a real glimpse at. Aiko starts out as a very sweet-looking girl who gives Punpun a quick kiss on the lips when he says he loves her. Although, after several chapters, the reader realizes that she may not be a completely sweet girl. She actually gives off a dysfunctional vibe when the manga allows a deeper look into her personality, in my opinion.

Along with the other aspects of the story, there is a fair amount of humor in this manga. All different types of humor, in fact. There is the fun kind of humor, the dark kind of humor, and the sexual kind of humor. I can’t say that I laughed much, but I did smile a few times.

The art is certainly something to be impressed by. It is beautifully detailed and perfectly fits the mood of the manga. The most remarkable thing about Asano’s art, though, is the peculiar way facial expressions are drawn. They are extremely exaggerated at times, so much so that they really etch themselves into your brain.

These frightening expressions were all because of a rock-paper-scissors game.

These frightening expressions were all because of a rock-paper-scissors game.

So, this first volume has gotten me really fascinated by this series, which seems to be very different from normal slice-of-life manga. And gosh, I am scared to say this, but I really love the facial expressions in this manga.

Karnevel Vol.1 by Touya Mikanagi: review

Karneval, Vol. 1 (Karneval, #1)Karnevel Vol.1 by Touya Mikanagi
Series: Karneval #1
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Shounen, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Synopsis: When innocent country boy Nai sets foot into the sordid cutthroat realm of the city, he might as well have painted a target on his own back. Kidnappers, murderers and desperados abound, waiting to take advantage of a boy guileless enough to believe blood is merely “red water”. When he is framed for a murder, it is the bandit Gareki who bails him out. Being a shrewd and sharp-eyed thief, however, Gareki’s motives are less than pure. Nai is looking for a friend who has disappeared and left behind something particularly intriguing – an I.D bracelet from the organisation named “Circus”, the country’s supreme defense agency. While Gareki has his sights set firmly on the bracelet, “Circus” in turn, has shifted its eye onto the duo as well…

My Thoughts:

For a first volume, this volume was pretty great. Yes, it was a bit hard to follow, but it promises that the it’s the beginning of a series that has much potential. And to be honest, I am kind of in love with the title.

Right from the start the reader is thrown into the story. Information is shown little by little. This can cause some confusion–heck, even I had some question marks floating over my head at times– but I thought it was well done for the most part. The volume is pretty fast paced with tons of action, so I was never bored and stuck in my seat!

I have always loved stories in which powerful organizations play a important rule. This is pretty apparent in my obvious love for Pandora Hearts. But instead of the organization Pandora, we have Circus, an organization that keeps control of crime and sets up circus carnivals as an apology for disrupting the daily life of citizens. So yeah, I am sort of attracted to this manga because of Circus.

The characters are quite interesting… Nai gives a whole new meaning to the word naive (he consistently calls blood ‘red water’). This naivete might grate on the nerves of some readers but I actually think that this trait makes him adorable. Normally I am very irritated by extreme naivete, but I feel different about it this time. And Gareki is very mysterious at the moment but right now he seems like the type of character that is outwardly cold but kind in the inside. I think there is a developing friendship between the two!

Some other noteable characters are Yogi and Tsukumo. Yogi is pretty silly which makes him very entertaining to read and Tsukumo is very quiet right now, but she does seem very tough.

To be honest, I wish there was more ‘Circus stuff’ in this volume. Sure, we get some scenes with the organization, but I want to see the conflict within the organization of Circus and really see the personalities of all the people working for it. It’s only the first volume so hopefully we get some of that in the future.

The art, awhile rough, is beautiful. There is a lot of close attention payed to small details like the creases in clothing and strands of hair. If you are a sucker for pretty art like I am, then this manga might just be for you. The art is to die for.

Overall, this was a pretty neat first volume. It wasn’t perfect but it was a great beginning to a probably great series (I have heard nothing but good things about it). Thank you, Delaney for wildly recommending this!

Nabari No Ou Vol. 1 by Yuhki Kamatani: review

Nabari No Ou, Vol. 1Nabari No Ou Vol. 1 by Yuhki Kamatani

Series: Nabari No Ou #1

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Genre: Shounen, Action

Publisher: Yen Press

Release Date: May 12th 2009

Synopsis: Apathetic schoolboy Miharu Rokujou is content to meander through life in the sleepy village of Banten. But his quiet existence is shattered when the Grey Wolves of Iga, a powerful ninja clan, attempt to kidnap him in broad daylight. Only then does Miharu discover that the ultimate power of the hidden ninja realm – a power that can do both great good and great harm – is sealed within his body. As battles erupt among rival ninja clans seeking to control him, Miharu must overcome his apathy and learn the ways of the ninja if he wants any shot at survival!

My Thoughts: 

The first volume of the Nabari No Ou series is a bit hard to write. Maybe it’s because I have read most of the series and this is just a reread? I don’t know. Anyways, this is a pretty good first volume. Oh, and since I have already read most of this series I will be pointing out things from future volumes if I feel the need.

This volume introduces the story of Miharu, a boy who has suddenly been dragged into the Nabari world (a world that coexist with the Surface world) and finds out that he has the power of the Shinrabanshou, a power that contains all the wisdom of the universe, hidden inside him. People are out to get him and people want to help him. Even if Miharu wants to keep living his apathetic life, he has no choice but to be involved in this battle.

If you haven’t realized already, this is the start of a series about ninjas. No, this is not a copycat of the well-known mainstream manga series that is also about ninjas. But it seems like people do feel inclined to compare it to that, and it seems like Kamatani was prepared for that. She uses this first volume as a way to hint that Nabari No Ou has a more serious story and a story that is very different.

My favorite thing about this volume is how quickly it gets to the point. This volume doesn’t take to long to introduce the main characters and getting into the story. And then even after getting into the story it is still fast paced. There will be no boring moments in this solid beginning.

To be honest, the characters are pretty average in this volume. They are definitely entertaining and fun to read about, but they aren’t memorable. It really isn’t until the next installments when that happens. But the characters do have a certain light-heartedness that isn’t in the next installments (when things get more deep and serious) in this volume.

And that is the reason why I return to this volume repeatedly.

Sometimes I just want to read about the apathethic kid called Miharu that really doesn’t care whether or not he has the wisdom of the whole world hidden inside him. To read about Tobari and his phobia of moving vehicles. To read about Raimei and her tendency to get over-excited. And to read about Kouichi and his very calm demeanor.

The humor element definitely puts to use Miharu’s I-don’t-care attitude and his cuteness. Most of the little jokes revolve around those traits.

Shirt: Muscular Pain… Miharu didn’t care enough to change out of the outfit his grandma made him wear.

The mangaka has a clean, distict drawing style. Her art is lovely most of the time. Although there are a couple of panels in which the characters look drawn awkwardly in volume one. (The art becomes absolutely beautiful later, so don’t drop this series because of the art in the first volume.)

Overall, this is a good introduction to a series. It isn’t overly good but still a solid volume that will definitely make one want to continue (especially because of the fact that two sides are battling it out at the end). I will definitely recommend this series if you are a fan of ninjas or reading books that involve the use of nature as a source of power or maybe even just some sword fighting (Raimei kicks butt with that blade).

Kimi ni Todoke Vol.3 by Karuho Shiina: review

Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, Volume 3Kimi ni Todoke Vol.3 by Karuho Shiina

Series: Kimi ni Todoke #3

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Genre: Shojo, Slice-Of-Life, Romance

Publisher: VIZ Media LLC

Release Date: February 2nd 2010

Synopsis: (from Goodreads) Will the curse of Sadako leave her friendless for life? R to L (Japanese Style). Sadako’s dreams come true when she finally becomes friends with her classmates, instead of scaring them off. She even gets friendly with the cutest girl in school, Kurumi. But will this innocent friendship with Kurumi make Sadako realize that her feelings for Kazehaya are more than just friendly? Sawako Kuronuma is the perfect heroine…for a horror movie. With her jet-black hair, sinister smile and silent demeanor, she’s often mistaken for Sadako, the haunting movie character. Unbeknownst to but a few, behind her scary faÇade is a very misunderstood teenager. Shy and pure of heart, she just wants to make friends. But when Kazehaya, 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!

My Thoughts:

Volume three is another great addition to a great series! Kimi ni Todoke is starting to become my favorite shojo manga series, and for some good reasons. It’s fun, meaningful, and shows what it’s like to develop friendships with the people around you. It also doesn’t hurt that Sawako is absolutely adorable… Even though she does have some really, really scary faces.

But seriously… Sawako is adorable 90% of the time. 😛

This volume focuses more on Sawako’s developing feelings toward Kazehaya and if Kazehaya feels the same way. It is pretty obvious that they both like each other, but they are just to shy and afraid to take that next step. Sawako isn’t to bothered by this since she is just happy to have friends. That is, until Sawako creates a friendship with a girl called Kurumi who is pretty, popular, nice to all, and just happens to have a seemingly good relationship with Kazehaya.

Sawako is happy and flattered that Kurumi decided to become friends with her, but this new friendship causes her to doubt her relationship is Kazehaya since she notices that she can’t initiate the easy conversations with Kazehaya that Kurumi is able to do.

Now this might seem like a story that is used a lot in shojo manga, but the mangaka executes in such a refreshing way that I never got bored! I didn’t even roll my eyes when Kurumi showed some hints of becoming the “mean girl” that is oh so common in the shojo genre.

Shiina is amazing at showing Sawako’s feelings about what is happening and I love the fact that this mangaka seems to know what she’s doing when it comes to developing relationships-even if it means that there must be the awkward, not-very-desirable phase that is very common when two people want to become more than friends.

And let us not forget the ultra witty dialogue that this volume contains. I giggled many times during reading this and I am sure you will, too. Unless I have a very bad sense of humor, but whatever.

I would have never guessed how the volume ended. It is impressive and it made me very excited for my next trip to the bookstore to see what happens next. It will be a long time until I tire of this series–if i even do tire of it.

 

Durarara!! Vol.1 by Ryohgo Narita, Akiyo Satorigi, Suzuhito Yasuda: review

Durarara!! Drrr!! x1 (Durarara!! Manga, #1)Durarara!! Vol.1 by Ryohgo Narita, Akiyo Satorigi, Suzuhito Yasuda

Series: Durarara!! Manga #1

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Genre: Shounen, Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Yen Press

Release Date: January 24th 2012

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)Welcome to Ikebukuro, where Tokyo’s wildest characters gather!! Meet an ordinary boy who daydreams about the extraordinary. A naive stalker girl. The strongest man in Ikebukuro. A shut-in doctor with questionable credentials. A hedonistic informant…and the “headless rider” astride a pitch-black motorcycle!? As their paths cross, this eccentric cast weaves a twisted, cracked love story…

My Thoughts:

If only one word could be choses to describe Durarara!! the word would be crazy. The characters are crazy. The plot is crazy. Everything about Durarara!! is crazy. But that is not to say that it doesn’t make sense. The creator of Durarara!! masterfully weaves together the weird personalities these characters have, the supernatural element, and the gang wars.

Now. Before I start reviewing this specific volume I have got to talk about the gigantic amount of characters this series has. The five characters on the cover aren’t even half of the entire cast of characters. Sometimes using a lot of characters doesn’t work at all, but Ryohgo Narita (the creator of the story) is great at putting to use a large amount of characters.

What drove me to read the first volume of the Durarara!! manga series was the anime. For me, the anime was just pure enjoyment even though the story is very complex. It was just fun. And when I finished the anime I craved more Durarara!!. To be more specific, I craved more of this:

image

Yes, that is a fridge that Izaya is being hit with.

So when I found out that the manga series was licensed in english I was pretty darn happy. I immediately went to the bookstore to buy the manga and start reading it. And I am very happy to say that so far the manga does the anime series justice.

The characters are still the same awesome characters that I loved in the anime. Shizuo still needs anger management, Izaya is still loving humanity (and observing/manipulating it), Celty is still kick butt, Shiinra is still kind of a pervert, Simon is still trying to sell sushi, and Mikado, Anri, and Masaomi are still the normal (or are they?) group of teenagers caught in the mess known as Ikebukuro. I am really excited to read more about these characters (and the ones I didn’t mention).

From what I have seen of the plot so far in the manga, it is being told in a fluid, smooth manner. Even though a lot goes on in the series, what with the Dullahan looking for her head, the gang known as the Dollars, the murder, and the random fights (this is all in the first volume)the creator is still able to tell it without confusing the audience. I admire him for that.

The only thing I can complain about is the art. Don’t get me wrong, the art is great as long as you don’t count a few derpy-looking expressions the characters make. I just wish that the art had the same style as the art in the anime. I’m not use to seeing the characters drawn in the particular style the illustrator of the manga uses and I am a bit bothered by that.

Overall, I have high hopes the for manga series. The first volume was really great and I hope that continues with the rest. I would recommend this for people who are itching for a creative, fun, and complex shounen series that definitely strays for the norm. And if you want to know who was throwing the fridge in the gif I showed earlier it is this guy:

Kimi ni Todoke Vol.1 by Karuho Shiina: review

Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, Volume 1 Kimi ni Todoke Vol.1 by Karuho Shiina

Series: Kimi ni Todoke #1

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Genre: Romance, Slice-of-Life, Shojo

Publisher: VIZ Media LLC

Release Date: August 4th 2009

Synopsis: Sawako Kuronuma is the perfect heroine…for a horror movie. With her jet-black hair, sinister smile and silent demeanor, she’s often mistaken for Sadako, the haunting character from Ringu. Unbeknownst to but a few, behind her scary façade is a very misunderstood teenager. Shy and pure of heart, she just wants to make friends. But when Kazehaya, 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!

My thoughts: I really didn’t know what to expect when going into this manga. I have heard a little about the main focus of the story but not much else. I would say that the first volume has left me impressed!

Sawako is a girl who has trouble interacting with others. Despite this, however, she is a very sweet girl and is eager to help out. If only her classmates would ignore the fact that she looks like a girl in a horror movie. Her appearance strikes fear into the hearts of her classamates. This causes her to become a social outcast. One day the popular Kazehaya becomes Sawako’s friend. Because of this, Sawako is finally able to open up to others.

My heart went out to Sawako. Her self-esteem has been horribly damaged by the bullying she has been through. Sawako is afraid to afraid to open up to others as she is under the belief that everybody hates her. As the reader of the story, I was able to see that Sawako is really just a shy but sweet girl who has been through a lot. I found her to be a painfully realistic character and she had a lot of depth to her.

Kazehaya could have easily been one of those characters that are as flat as cardboard but he wasn’t. He was realistic and very likeable. He is a very popular kid but he still gets embarrassed and shy. He is a very positive influence on Sawako and helps her reach out to others and make friends.

I loved reading about Sawako and Kazehaya’s friendship. It was realistic with all the awkward moments, fun times, and the positive feelings that friends should be able to give each other. Kazehaya does have a crush on Sawako but Sawako sees him as more of an older brother. This will probably change as the series progresses.

Kimi ni Todoke is a refreshing manga that focuses on the power of friendship and I enjoyed it immensely. I would recommend it this anyone who wants a realistic but also cute read.

Future Diary Vol.2 by Sakae Esuno: review

Future Diary, Volume 2Future Diary Vol.2 by Sakae Esuno

Series: Future Diary #2

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Genre: Mystery, Psychological, Thriller, Paranormal, Shounen

Publisher: TokyoPop

Synopsis: Yukiteru Amano, a junior high student, has trouble making friends. He views himself as a spectator from the sidelines and often writes down what he sees in a cell phone diary. Tormented by solitude, Yukiteru interacts with his imaginary friends Deus Ex Machina, the God of Time and Space, and Muru Muru, Deus’s servant. One day, Deus grants Yukiteru’s cell phone the ability to record the future for the next 90 days. Yukiteru is then forced to participate in a battle royale with eleven other people, each of whom also have a diary that can predict the future in some unique way. The rules of the game are simple: before the world ends on day 90, the contestants must find and kill all the other contestants, and the last one standing will become Deus’s successor.

Note: This series is for an older audience

*My manga reviews may contain spoilers

My thoughts: Volume two impressed me. It completely surpasses my expectations. I did like the first volume even though it was pretty average. The second volume ,though had great pacing and a plot twist that I didn’t expect at all!

The beginning is very light-hearted. Yuno and Yuki are going on a date at an amusement park(although Yuki is very reluctant). Yuno is pretty darn cute when she is not being a super stalker. This all ends rather quickly when Yuki goes into Yuno’s house and discovers a secret that Yuno does not want him to know. The rest of the volume Yuki is wondering if he can trust Yuno or not.

After this certain event Keigo(who is currently in an alliance with Yuki and Yuno) finds out that the terrorist from volume one, Minene has been captured by a cult group that goes by the name Church of the Seer. The Church of the Seer also happens to worship a girl who can tell the future and she just might be another diary holder. Things don’t go as planned when a person who calls himself the Hero of Justice enters the church and it is revealed that he is also a diary holder. Yuno and Yuki have to fight to survive the chaos and be careful not to reach a “dead end”.

I love the characters in this series even though some of them might not be the most realistic. I find it interesting that Yuno can switch from being a sweet and cute girl to a dangerous psychopath in a matter of moments. Tsubaski is a character that I feel really sorry for. The way she grew up caused her to be a bitter and unpleasant person. She made my heart ache. Then there is the Hero of Justice: the guy in a power ranger suit. He made me laugh at the oddest times… I believe that Minene will have a bigger role as the story progresses. I like her character and want to know more about her.

I love the fact that in this manga, survival is all about making the right choices. One choice can change the future completely and effect the game in a way nobody expects.

The suspense kept me on the edge of my seat. I never know what exactly is going to happen. I hope that more unexpected plot twist come later!

There are some moments that unintentionally cause laughter. I like that about this series. It is mostly serious but there are some times where something can happen that is so random or strange that it can make me laugh. Those moments are a good break from all the blood and suspense.

This mystery manga series is impressing and I will definitely finish it to see how it ends.

Kitchen Princess Vol. 2 by Natsumi Ando, Miyuki Kobayashi: review

Kitchen Princess, Volume 2Kitchen Princess Vol. 2 by Natsumi Ando, Miyuki Kobayashi

Series: Kitchen Princess #2

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Genre: Shojo, Slice-of-Life, Romance

Publisher: Del Ray

Synopsis: Najika has a special gift. She’s a marvelous cook whose food awakens people’s fondest memories and feelings of affection. Now she’s attending the prestigious Seika Academy, where she hopes to find her “prince,” the boy who saved her when she was a little girl. One big problem: It seems that nobody wants her at the college–except two cute brothers, Sora and Daichi, who befriend her right away. But the super-popular teen model Akane will do anything to drive Najika out of the school, even if it means staging a cooking contest with an award-winning chef as Najika’s opponent. Will Najika’s magical food warm Akane’s cold heart?

*Beware of spoilers

My thoughts: I was very surprised with this volume. Although the volume is still pretty cute it is revealed that Akane the mean girl has an eating disorder. I  think that it was handled well. Najika is able to help the girl by making her eat a food that she has a strong emotional attachment to. I don’t think that it was very realistic but it fits in with the manga’s theme: something made lovingly is good for the soul. Seeing as this manga is about cooking I think that putting in pictures and gifs of food in this review will be very fitting.

chichiwho:My kind of cookie

I thought that it was really nice that the authors of the manga decided to give Akane some personality and depth to her character. Although she is not being completely nice to Najika she is at least being civil towards her now. I believe that if Akane puts aside her jealousy of Najika that the two girls would become good friends.

I really like Akane’s ability. She has an absolute sense of taste which means that she can tell how a food was made by the taste of it and never forget the taste. I thought it was really clever and was a refreshing trait after reading about all those girls who are either “average” or have a strong superpower in manga and books.

There is a cooking contest involved in this volume and I enjoyed reading about the event. It was not what I would call suspensful as it is obvious who is going to win but it was fun.

I still love the cute art. I expecially love how Akane and Sora are drawn. The second volume of this manga is great and I am still loving the Kitchen Princess series. Seeing as Najika means rainbow I think a picture of a rainbow cake will be very fitting for the ending of this review.

stars-:sws, them, kellin