Saturday, March 18, 2017

Review: WORLD WAR BLUE

Even by the standards of most video-game themed manga, today's review is an odd one.  It's written by a American woman, drawn by a hentai artist, and is all about anthropomorphizing a console war that largely only existed in the West, yet got published as a web manga and brought back over here.

It's just a shame that it really, REALLY wasn't worth all the effort.

WORLD WAR BLUE (Aoi Sekai no Chushin de), written by Anastasia Shestakova with art by Crimson.  First published in 2007 and first published in North America in 2012.



PLOT:

In the land of Consume, the Niltendo Empire has conquered all the kingdoms save one: the Segua Kingdom.  There lives a young orphan named Gear, a young man possessing oddly blue hair and super speed.  When Niltendo forces kill his best friend, he and his other childhood friend Nel set forth to join the Segua Army.  Together with skilled archer Opal and the pervy yet brilliant strategist Tejirov, they represent Segua's greatest hope towards rescuing their commander Alex and taking down Niltendo once and for all.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Review: SENRAN KAGURA - SKIRTING SHADOWS

Now we shift from a classic, kid-friendly franchise to a far more recent, far more violent, far more saucy and (surprisingly) far more boring one.

SENRAN KAGURA: SKIRTING SHADOWS (Senran Kagura: Shoujo-tachi no Shinei), adapted from the video game by Kenichiro Takagi & art by Amami Takatsume.  First published in 2012 and first published in North America in 2013.



PLOT:

For generations, Hanzo National Academy has served to prepare young ladies to become deadly ninjas.  Nowadays these future warriors may wear short skirts instead of identity-concealing uniforms and fight for the government instead of feudal lords, but they are still committed to defending the nation in the name of justice and striking down the forces of their dastardly rivals at Hebijo Clandestine Girls' Academy.  That doesn't mean that there isn't time along the way for friendship, trips to the beach, family issues, and lots and lots of bouncing boobs.

STORY:

I wasn't expecting much out of this one.  After all, it's based on a franchise that was literally created only because the developer wanted to bring Dead or Alive-style boob physics to the 3DS in the form of an ecchi-filled ninja girl brawler.  This is not a franchise with a deep and complex lore.  Hell, most of the girls here could be summed up with a single quirk.  Some of them are the kind of quirks you expect from these kinds of stories: the moe baby, the prim and proper rich girl, and the blandly nice protagonist.  Then there are some that are pervier, such as the girl obsessed with boobs (not girls, mind you, just boobs) and a sadist girl.  Then there are just the weird ones, like the girl obsessed with bean sprouts or the gothloli who springs giant guns out from under her skirts.  They all have names, of course, but they're just as forgettable as the girls attached to them.

As for the story proper...well, there isn't one.  At least, there isn't any sort of major, continuous plot thread.  Surely the game this is based on has one!  Instead, it's just a bunch of scattershot, slice-of-life vignettes, each more unoriginal and inoffensive than the last.  That's right - the series that's marketed entirely around bouncing boobs and punching your opponents' clothes off has a manga that's surprising chaste.  Yeah, there are boob gropes and panty shots, but they are so infrequent that it barely registers.  As a result, the whole boobs just kind of drifts by without making much of an impression on the reader.  It's not outrageous, it's not funny, it's not sexy, it's just there. 

ART:

Naturally, most people don't read these sorts of manga for the story, but instead for the cute girls and fanservice.  If so, then the joke's on them here because the artwork here is positively lazy.  Takatsume turns these mostly ridiculous, bouncy character designs and renders them in the plainest, stiffest (and occasionally off-model) manner possible.  He can't draw a fight to save his life, relying mostly on head shots and speed lines to hide his limitations.  He doesn't add much in the way of fanservice, but what is present has all the charm and sexiness of a tuna-fish sandwich.  Even his paneling is sloppy and confusing.  The artist's note at the end notes that they were a newcomer to professional manga when they made this, and every page makes it evident that they were simply not ready for primetime.

RATING:

There are countless other manga out there about sexy girls fighting one another, so save yourself some time and don't bother with this lazy cash-in of a series.

This series is published by Seven Seas.  This series is ongoing in Japan with 3 volumes available.  All 3 have been published and are currently in print.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Review: THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: A LINK TO THE PAST

In honor of the release of the Nintendo Switch, I'm making this a month of video game manga!  Video games and manga are not a radical nor recent combination.  Indeed, today's review covers a beloved adaptation of an equally beloved Nintendo franchise from an equally beloved Nintendo magazine.

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: A LINK TO THE PAST (Zelda no Densetsu), by Shotaru Ishinomori.  First published in North America in 1992.



PLOT:

On a dark and stormy night, Link is roused from a sound sleep by a strange voice calling him to the king's castle.  There he finds the Princess Zelda under attack from the evil sorcerer Agahnim.  He wants to use Zelda's life force to summon Ganon and thus take over the world.  In order to save Zelda, Link must find a legendary sword and traverse all the dangers of both his own world and the Dark World where Zelda is being held. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Review: MIDNIGHT SECRETARY

Well, let's wrap things up with a bit of smutty josei.  Today's title was one of the first josei titles to sneak its way over here in some time and moderately successful.  Too bad that it's also just another variation on the same old romance novel crap, right down to the vampires.

MIDNIGHT SECRETARY (Middonaito Sekuretari), by Tomu Ohmi.  First published in 2006 and first published in 2013.



PLOT:

Kaya Satozuka is a brilliant secretary, and she's determined to prove just that to her new boss, the department store director Kyohei Tohma.  Sure, he's rude, dismissive, keeps odd hours, and keeps bringing women into the office late at night for sex, but Kaya works hard to overcome her distaste for her boss and perform at her best.  Then she discovers that Kyohei's late night trysts are in fact late night feedings.  Her boss is a vampire, and only Kaya and Kyohei's brother know the truth.  Now Kaya must not only keep her office running smoothly but also keep her boss's secret.  What will happen though when warmer feelings start to interfere with her duties?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Review: MAN'S BEST FRIEND

Of course, I can't let this month pass without covering some strange example of BL manga, and this year I found a doozy.  Tokyopop's BL imprint was actually fairly sedate compared to some of its competitors, but they still managed to slip some real oddballs out there like this little anthology.

MAN'S BEST FRIEND: INU MO ARUKEBA, by Kazusa Takashima.  First published in 2004 and first published in North America in 2006.



PLOT:

Ukyo happens to find a stray dog on his way home from school one day.  He just presumes that the dog, whom he names Kuro, is just a friendly canine.  He could have never suspected that Kuro was in love with him, nor that when he gets excited that Kuro can turn into a man and start humping more than just his leg.  There's also the story of two childhood friends who reunite as young men who must come to terms with their shared past, as well as the story of a man who wins a goldfish at a festival only to find that it too can turn into a beautiful young man.