Monday, May 21, 2012


Hey there! My name is Brainchild, and I have taken it upon myself to create a little online review project which I call The Manga Test Drive.  Here I will take the first volume of any and all manga I can get my hands on, give a spin, and figure out which ones are the classics and which ones are the clunkers.

Why am I doing this?  Well, the most obvious reason is that I love manga.  It's hard to explain quite why I love it.  Maybe it's the sheer variety of stories you can find.  Maybe it's that it's a lot more accepting of female artists and writers than American comics tend to be.  Maybe it's the fact that they (mostly) have self-contained continuity - I don't need to read a handful of previous storylines to understand a new one.  No matter what the reason, the fact remains that I love it, and I would like others to love it as much as I do, and to do that I want to expose you all to the best and most interesting titles (along with whatever average to not-so-good series I might read along the way). So why do I stop at just the first volume?  Well, my view is that if a manga hasn't managed to capture your interest in some form by the end of the first one, then why would you to continue reading it any further?

My review structure is fairly simple.

First, I provide a short summary of the PLOT of the first volume. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil everything. After all, I want you guys to go out and read this stuff on your own! 

Second, I then look at the STORY, where I look at the plot and the characters and anything else that might be relevant to how the story is written. 

Third, I look at the ART, which can include everything from the character designs to the backgrounds to the way that the panels are structured – anything which is relevant to how the story is visually told.

Fourth, I look at the PRESENTATION. Mostly this notes any extras which are included with the story, like translation notes, omake comics, extra artwork, color pages, etc. It’s also a section where I note how it was published – was it in a normal tankoban, or was it in oversized form, an omnibus, or hardbound? I may even note the cover art, if it’s worth noting. Finally, I rate it in one of three categories:

GREEN = GO READ IT.  This series has a great story, great characters, great artwork, and very likely a combination of all these elements.  These are the ones you should be reading and buying, if you aren’t doing so already.

YELLOW = PROCEED WITH CAUTION.  This series may have some interesting elements or artwork which makes it worth a look, but it may be hampered by one or more elements that are subpar or in questionable taste.  I wouldn’t necessarily rush out and buy the whole thing sight unseen, but I might check it out online (preferably through legal channels) or from a library to see if it's something that interests you.

RED = STOP! DO NOT READ.  Those four words say it all, really.  This series stinks for one or more reasons and is not worth your time or money.
I will also note afterwards the publisher, if the series is in or out of print, and the total number of volumes available. I will also note the same for reprints, in the case of licence rescues.
Well, now that I've gotten the introduction and the essential information out of the way, let the reviews begin! 

1 comment:

  1. Two things:

    1) Point four presentation!? You'll be hearing from our lawyers! :)

    2) in the first sentence of yellow light, you're missing the word have in front of some interesting.