Manga Review: “World Trigger” Volume Five

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

World Trigger Volume 5 focuses on Osamu, a B-Rank Border agent, along with new Border recruits Yuma and Chika. It’s their dream to all become A-Rank agents so they can go on missions into the Neighbors’ world in order to save Chika’s brother and friend.

World Trigger Volume 5

Written by: Daisuke Ashihara
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: April 7, 2015

Volume 5 begins with Osamu being challenged by Soya Kazama, the leader of the A-Rank Kazama Squad. Even though Osamu knows he’s outmatched, he agrees to the challenge so he can get data on Soya’s fighting style for future reference. As expected, Soya is easily able to defeat Osamu repeatedly. But after Soya lets it slip that Jin had given up his Black Trigger, Osamu decides to give this one more try because of the sacrifice that Jin made. In this final match, there’s a surprising outcome that gets Osamu noticed by others. Unfortunately, as the news spreads about Osamu, the facts start getting twisted and make him feel uncomfortable.

And if feeling uncomfortable wasn’t bad enough, Osamu is approached about having a Solo Rank War. Osamu agrees, only to discover after being defeated repeatedly that he was up against Shun Midorikawa, an A-Rank Border agent. Shun comes across as extremely arrogant, so it was easy to dislike him right off the bat. By the end of Volume 5, though, Yuma manages to put Shun in his place and help to humble him. It turns out that Shun had his reasons for his behavior. While his reasons don’t justify the behavior, it helps the reader understand why Shun had been acting so cocky in the first place.

Near the end of the volume, it’s revealed that Border is predicting that the Neighbors will launch a large-scale invasion soon. Commander Kido summons Yuma and Osamu in order to get answers to his questions. Yuma reveals Replica to Kido and the other top brass, but Replica is hesitant to reveal the information he has until he receives assurances from Kido that nothing will happen to Yuma. After a brief tenseness, Kido passes Yuma’s test, since his Side Effect doesn’t sense that Kido is lying. Ashihara’s portrayal of the tenseness was very effective for conveying what was at stake in this scene.

Border’s top brass, along with the reader, is treated to a much needed explanation of the Neighbors’ world, as well as some brief information about four of the Neighbors’ countries. It was nice to finally get some kind of explanation for the Neighbors’ world, since it had been mentioned a couple of times in passing in rather vague ways. While this exposition may not necessarily have revealed a whole lot, some exposition and explanation is better than nothing.

A scene with Jin and Shuji near the end of the volume seems to drop a hint for something that could happen later. Jin has seen something happen to Osamu in the future with his Side Effect, and asks Shuji to help out when this event happens. Shuji doesn’t accept the request, but Jin mutters under his breath that he knows Shuji will do it because he saw it with his Side Effect. Now if that isn’t dropping a major hint to the reader, then I don’t know what is.

Volume 5 ends just as the Neighbors launch the predicted large-scale attack. There isn’t much to say about this, since the attack is just starting when the volume ends.

This volume officially introduces two new characters: Shun Midorikawa and Izuho Natsume, a girl who’s learning to be a sniper alongside Chika. The two girls seem like they’re starting to become friends, and this will probably be a good thing for Chika. She’s been hesitant to have friends since her large Trion power attracts Neighbors, and her previous best friend was kidnapped by a Neighbor. But now that she can meet other people in Border who are training to fight the Neighbors, this should hopefully start to make it easier for Chika to make friends.

World Trigger Volume 5 did a great job of successfully continuing the story from where it had stopped at the end of Volume 4, which should satisfy readers who have been following the series from the beginning. The story at this point also continues to have the action and character interactions that long-time readers should come to expect and enjoy from World Trigger.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Assassination Classroom: Episode 14 – “Vision Time”

Assassination Classroom focuses on the students in class 3-E at Kunugigaoka Junior High School, who are being taught by a powerful alien octopus creature who destroyed 70% of the moon. It’s the mission of these students to assassinate their teacher before graduation, and they are offered a reward of 10 billion yen from the Japanese government. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds, since the alien can move at Mach 20. Also, as part of the agreement, the teacher is unable to harm the students in any way. At the end of the first episode, the teacher is given the name of “Koro Sensei” by his students.

Episode 14 sees Koro Sensei creating a pool in the mountains for his students to swim in during a heat wave. However, while the class is there, it comes out that Koro Sensei is unable to swim because his tentacles get so swollen that he can’t move. Meanwhile, Terasaka is frustrated with his friends and classmates because they seem to be warming up so much to Koro Sensei. In a fit of rage, Terasaka releases what appears to be a can of bug spray inside the classroom.

While Terasaka had always seemed to be the most distant and the closest thing Class 3-E has to a bully, I found him to be acting more extreme than usual. But it’s revealed rather quickly that Terasaka is working together with Koro Sensei’s “brother” Itona and his guardian, Shiro. Shiro has come up with a plan that involves the pool Koro Sensei built, and has already had Terasaka do some of the initial setup for the plan.

But when the plan is put into motion, things don’t go as Terasaka expected them to. Episode 14 ends up dealing with Terasaka trying to figure out how he fits in with Class 3-E and what he needs to do about the situation that has arisen out of Shiro’s plan. Terasaka’s musings give the audience some insight into who he is as a character and why he’s behaved the way he has up to this point. This made for a great character development moment; while we’ve seen Terasaka a bit in the series, the audience hardly knew anything about him. With the sheer amount of students in the class, there’s no way the series will be able to develop everyone. But if there’s at least some development for the characters we see on a frequent basis, it would really go a long way to make this series even stronger than it already is.

I really liked how the class ended up coming together to help out Koro Sensei during his fight with Itona. At this point in the story, it seems like the class has become conflicted. On the one hand, they still try to find ways to carry out assassination attempts, but on the other, they seem to be caring more and more about Koro Sensei. Maybe by the end of this, Koro Sensei will have developed enough of a bond with his students that he might change his mind about destroying the Earth when the deadline approaches. That’s probably some overly optimistic wishing there, but I’d hate to see Koro Sensei killed or to have the series end with the destruction of the planet.

But I’m definitely still enjoying Assassination Classroom, and I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen next to Koro Sensei and his students.

Love Live! School Idol Project to Get an English Dub and NIS America Acquires Rights to the Film

NIS America has announced that the Love Live! School Idol Project will be receiving an English dub for both the first and second season of the series. The new releases that will be coming will feature the English dub, as well as the original Japanese voice track with English subtitles for the North American market. Release details of 2nd Season will be announced at a later date, and the English dubbed version of the 1st Season will only be released as a standard edition.

To commemorate the English dub, the company will be releasing a limited reprint of Love Live! School Idol Project 1st Season Premium Edition with original Japanese audio and English subtitles in July 2015.

NIS America has also announced that the company has acquired the rights to the Love Live! The School Idol Movie, which will be coming to select theaters in North America. The plans are for the theatrical screenings to begin on September 12, 2015, with the original Japanese voice track and English subtitles. This limited theatrical release will be showing in, but will not be limited to, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, New York City, and Washington, D.C. with more details to be announced later.

Source: The Fandom Post

Manga Review: “Assassination Classroom” Volume Three

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Assassination Classroom Volume 3 focuses on Koro Sensei, a powerful alien octopus creature that destroyed 70% of the moon. He claims that within a year he will destroy Earth, but he offers a chance for mankind to avoid this fate. He declares that he wants to be the teacher for Class 3-E at Kunugigaoka Junior High School, and the Japanese government offers the class a 10 billion yen reward to the student who can kill the Koro Sensei before the year is up. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds, since the alien can move at Mach 20. Also, as part of the agreement, Koro Sensei is unable to harm the students in any way.

Assassination Classroom Volume 3

Written by: Yusei Matsui
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: April 7, 2015

Volume 3 continues the storyline of the school trip, right after Kayano and Kanzaki are kidnapped by a group of high school delinquents that is also on a school trip. We get a little bit of character development for Kanzaki, which helps her to stand out a little more from the many of the other students in the classroom who still have yet to be named.

In the previous volume, Koro Sensei had given the class an extremely large handbook on surviving the school trip. At the time it was introduced, the guide just seemed to be there as a gag. But in Volume 3, the reader sees that it actually has a purpose. It’s convenient, yet also comical, that this large guide would provide directions on how to rescue classmates who are kidnapped on the school trip. It’s amusing enough when Nagisa and the others in the group use the handbook to track down and surprise the abductors, bur the humor is kicked up a notch when Koro Sensei suddenly appears on the scene and is easily able to take down the delinquents with his tentacles. This is one of those times in Assassination Classroom where Koro Sensei is shown caring about his students, which almost makes the reader forget that he’s threatened to destroy the Earth.

Two more chapters are devoted to the school trip. The first one focuses on a professional assassin who goes by “Red Eye.” He’s hired by Mr. Karasuma, a government official who is also serving as the gym teacher for Class 3-E. The students have researched potential assassination locations, and they try to create situations for “Red Eye” to be able to get Koro Sensei. Unfortunately, Koro Sensei has figured out that “Red Eye” is around, and uses his abilities, such as moving at Mach 20, to avoid being hit by a bullet. But near the end of the chapter, there’s a great scene where Koro Sensei approaches “Red Eye,” gives him a gift, and treats him to a meal. They have an eye-opening conversation, with Koro Sensei being grateful to “Red Eye” for making the trip more enjoyable and for how much more his students learned about the locations in order to help “Red Eye” stage the assassination attempts. This is another one of those cases where Koro Sensei shows that he’s willing to help out more people than just his students. In the end, “Red Eye” reconsiders his line of work due to the conversation he had with Koro Sensei.

The final chapter about the school trip is much more light-hearted in nature for the most part and has more of an emphasis on gags. But the most interesting part of this chapter comes right near the end, when Karasuma makes a comment to Koro Sensei that almost makes it sounds like Koro Sensei hasn’t always been an alien. Hopefully this hint will be followed up on later in the series.

When the students return to school, Class 3-E discovers they have a new transfer student: a computer known as “Autonomous Intelligence Fixed Artillery” designed to assassinate Koro Sensei. Since the computer is designated as a student, Koro Sensei is unable to harm her. Unfortunately, the computer’s attempts are so disruptive that the other students tape down her guns and treat her coldly. The computer gets some unexpected help from Koro Sensei, who makes upgrades to her hardware and software. As he makes the upgrades, he gives her advice on how she can get along better with her classmates. It’s pretty impressive to see Koro Sensei treating the computer just like he would one of his human students. The other students warm up to the computer and give her the name of Ritsu. Her creators don’t like Koro Sensei’s changes and they think they’ve set her back to her default settings. But it seems Ritsu has hit a rebellious teenage stage, because she hides some of what she learned away deep into her memory.

Two chapters are devoted to Maehara, and how he’s treated by a girl from another class that he seems to be interested in. She gangs up on Maehara along with a popular boy, and they make fun of him for being in the “end class” for losers. Koro Sensei and the kids in Class 3-E work together to help Maehara get revenge. For the most part, these chapters didn’t seem to add all that much to the overarching story. The reader is already aware from the previous two volumes how the school is structured to encourage the student body to ridicule and belittle the students in the E class, so this felt a little extraneous.

The final chapter provides some background on Irina, the professional assassin who is also the English teacher for Class 3-E. The reader is introduced to her mentor, Lovro, who tells Irina that she’s not fit for assassinating Koro Sensei. Right at the end of the chapter, Koro Sensei gives Irina and Lovro a challenge to see which one is the better assassin. There’s not much to say about this story, since it’s just getting started as the volume ends.

When it comes to the art in Assassination Classroom, Koro Sensei has a very distinct look that makes him stand out in comparison to the human characters that he interacts with. There are also very unique designs for all of the students in Class 3-E, which makes it easier to identify the students as their names and personalities are revealed to the reader.

The premise for Assassination Classroom sounds strange at first, but it’s actually a very humorous and enjoyable series. Koro Sensei is a fascinating character, and some of the students in the classroom have become interesting characters in their own right. Assassination Classroom should appeal to manga readers who enjoy light-hearted stories set to a backdrop of an assassination plot. And for readers who have already read the first two volumes of the series, Volume 3 includes much of the comedy and character development that made the first two volumes such fun and compelling reads.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

New York Times Manga Best Seller List: April 12-18, 2015

Here are the top ten selling manga in the United States for the week of April 12-18, 2015 according to the New York Times.

1. Big Hero 6 Volume 1 by Haruki Ueno
2. Attack on Titan Volume 1 by Hajime Isayama
3. Attack on Titan Volume 15 by Hajime Isayama
4. Black Butler Volume 1 by Yana Toboso
5. Monster Musume Volume 6 by Okayado
6. Assassination Classroom Volume 3 by Yusei Matsui
7. Citrus Volume 2 by Saburouta
8. One Piece Volume 74 by Eiichiro Oda
9. Naruto Volume 69 by Masashi Kishimoto
10. Akame ga KILL! Volume 1 by Takahiro and Tetsuya Tashiro

Source: The New York Times

Manga Review: “Meteor Prince” Volume Two

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Meteor Prince Volume 2 focuses on Hako Natsuno, a girl dubbed the “Queen of Bad Luck” due to the strange accidents she finds herself getting into. One day, a naked alien prince named Io falls from the sky and tells Hako that he’s come to Earth to mate with her. After they spend time together, Hako finds herself falling for Io. However, Io’s aide Argo arrives and says that Hako’s wavelength doesn’t match Io’s, so she’s not his intended mate. Io has fallen in love with Hako and says he wants to stay on Earth and be with her.

Meteor Prince Volume 2

Written by: Meca Tanaka
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: April 7, 2015

Volume 2 begins with Io and Hako trying to start dating and building their relationship. Hako’s bad luck seems to cause Io to be struck by lightning when he tries to touch her, but he takes it in stride. The awkwardness in their interactions is cute and adorable, and the reader finds that they’re rooting for the two of them to become a couple. But in the midst of being so lovey-dovey, Hako finds herself feeling a little unsure of things since this is her first relationship. Her worst fear is that Io could fall for another girl.

Just as Io tries to assure Hako that he only has eyes for her, a naked alien woman falls from the sky. Her name is Tania, and she’s the one who is actually Io’s intended mate. Tania throws herself at Io, but he says he’s already in a relationship with Hako. Argo tells Tania to try to seduce Io away by using Earth rules, and Tania becomes a rival for Hako and an obstacle for her relationship with Io. Once Tania is introduced, she ends up playing an important role for most of the rest of Volume 2.

As time goes on, Hako and Io’s wavelengths become more similar, and Io asks Hako to marry him. Of course, Tania is unhappy with this development, so she tries to run things when Hako takes Io to meet her parents. Tania ends up finding an ally in Hako’s younger brother, who seems to object to Hako and Io’s relationship. Having Tania and Hako’s brother team up together added an interesting angle to this aspect of the series.

And speaking of siblings, Io’s brother Yuro is also introduced. He has been asked to go to Earth to try to break up Io and Hako. Yuro’s arrival causes something major to happen to Io and leads to the climax of the story.

It turns out that Meteor Prince only has two volumes, so the climax of the final storyline also serves as the climax for the series. In some respects, the elements that were introduced in Volume 2 could have been utilized to make the story last a little longer, but it was probably for the best that the series ended at this point. The series is sweet but it’s also on the strange side. And while Volume 1 felt more fresh and original for a shojo series, I can’t quite say the same thing about Volume 2. This volume feels like it had to rely more on tropes, such as the introduction of a rival, in order to keep the story going.

The art style in Meteor Prince Volume 2 is consistent with what was seen in Volume 1. It’s not bad for what Tanaka is trying to do, but there’s nothing to make it stand out from many of the other shojo manga series that are already out in the marketplace.

Meteor Prince is a shojo series that’s a light, quick, and easy read. So if you need a story that’s not going to make you think very much, or if you’re in the mood to read a short manga series with a love story, then Meteor Prince Volume 1 and Meteor Prince Volume 2 would probably be worth checking out.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

English Dub Cast for Soul Eater Not!

FUNimation Entertainment has announced the English dub cast for the Soul Eater Not! anime:

  • Bryn Apprill is Tsugumi
  • Alexis Tipton is Anya
  • Lindsay Seidel is Meme
  • Bryce Papenbrook is Shaula Gorgon
  • Ian Sinclair is Akane Hoshi
  • Elizabeth Maxwell is Clay Sizemore

Zach Bolton is directing the dub.

The story of Soul Eater Not! is described as:

Get ready to meet the newest class at Death Weapon Meister Academy! Tsugumi Harudori and her outrageous friends make up the NOT class at this stylish school dedicated to training living, breathing weapons and uniting them with the Meisters who’ll wield them! Soul Eater fanatics will be psyched to meet these epic new characters – and catch up with all their favorites from the original series. Don’t miss a minute of the adventure as Tsugumi and her pals weave their own exciting tale of deadly life at DWMA!

FUNimation is also streaming a promotional video for the series, which I am embedding below.

Soul Eater Not! is scheduled to be released on home video on June 30, 2015.

Source: The Fandom Post