Cast and Staff Announcement for Wagamama High Spec

Cast and staff members for the forthcoming Wagamama High Spec anime have been announced.

The cast includes:

  • Mariko Honda is Kaoruko Rokuonji
  • Megu Sakuragawa is Ashe R Sakuragi
  • Mai Goto is Toa Narumi
  • Chiyo Ousaki is Mihiro Miyase

Satoshi Shimizu is directing the series at studio AXsiZ. Koujirou Nakamura is handling series composition and Masashi Nomura is designing the characters.

Source: ANN

Manga Review: “QQ Sweeper” Volume Two

QQ Sweeper Volume 2 focuses on Kyutaro Horikita and Fumi Nishioka. Kyutaro is a cleaning expert at Kurokado High, and he comes across Fumi while she’s sleeping at school. Kyutaro is a “Sweeper,” and has the responsibility of cleaning away negative energy from people’s hearts. Fumi becomes his apprentice.

QQ Sweeper Volume 2

Written by: Kyousuke Motomi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: February 2, 2016

Volume 2 sees Kyutaro tormented by a girl he knew as a child who disappeared. Whenever he sees Fumi, he keeps seeing memories of Fuyu, the girl who disappeared. Much of this volume focuses on the struggle of how conflicted Kyutaro feels about this. On the one hand, he can’t believe Fumi and Fuyu could be the same, yet there appear to be clues that seem to indicate that the two girls are the same person. I think that Motomi handled this aspect well, and I thought it worked to make it a running theme throughout this volume.

Meanwhile, the reader learns that Fumi is trying to hide her past from Kyutaro and his family. Unfortunately, the secret of her past catches up to her when she is attacked by another student at Kurokado High. Kyutaro and his family don’t judge her for her past, and they try to help her use it to aid her in her work as a Sweeper apprentice.

We also get to see Fumi as she helps Kyutaro perform Sweeper duties when they need to clean away the negative energy from the student that attacked her. I thought this made a great test for Fumi, because I can image how hard it must be for her to have to help someone who had tried to kill her earlier. But I think it goes to show that an important part of being a Sweeper is the fact that they have to try to not think about those kinds of issues when they perform their duties. It seems that they do the job they have to do, no matter what complications may be involved.

When it comes to the art, Motomi seems to use an art style that looks pretty similar to what she used for her Dengeki Daisy series. But one thing that stood out to me was how Motomi depicted how Kyosuke remembers seeing Fuyu when he has his memories from his childhood. There’s something almost “ethereal” about the look that Fuyu is given in those memories, and perhaps she went for this dream-like quality in order to easily convey to the audience that what’s being seen is a flashback. However, there is one thing that bothers me about the character design, and it’s the fact that Kyutaro and Koichi look a little too similar. Sometimes I found myself getting the two characters mixed up when I saw them in this volume.

QQ Sweeper Volume 2 will most likely appeal to shojo manga readers who also enjoy supernatural elements. While this volume makes it clear that this series has a love story at its core, there’s also a strong emphasis on the supernatural. This volume will be best appreciated by readers who have already read the first volume and liked what they read.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Manga Review: “Master Keaton” Volume Five

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Master Keaton Volume 5 follows Taichi Hiraga-Keaton, an archaeologist and an insurance investigator at Lloyd’s of London. His travels lead him to investigations that bring him in contact with all kinds of people who have interesting stories.

Master Keaton Volume 5

Written by: Hokusei Katsushika
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: January 19, 2016

Volume 5 includes a couple of stories that feature historical references from the time period that the manga was originally written in. One of the stories references the fall of the Berlin Wall in connection with a story about the suspicious death of an East German spy. This particular story also utilizes some unexpected evidence that allows Taichi to figure out how the spy was killed.

There’s also a story set in Iraq in the latter part of 1990. Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait is a pivotal plot point for the story, as well as the impending intervention from the United States and its allies. In the story, the Duke of Norfolk is trapped in Iraq and is being sought after by Saddam Hussein. Taichi is called in to help rescue him, and it turns out that he and the Duke of Norfolk have a connection. As someone who was in high school during the first Iraq War, I appreciated how Katsuhika incorporated elements from that moment in history into this story. I especially liked the inclusion of George H.W. Bush and Margaret Thatcher appearing on television and giving their respective speeches about the invasion of Kuwait. Including these historical aspects is a nice touch.

The very first story in the volume also incorporates some cinematic history by utilizing The Bride of Frankenstein and referencing actress Elsa Lanchester as an important part of the plot. My favorite part of this story, though, was the unexpected twist right at the end.

While many of the stories in Master Keaton Volume 5 focus on Taichi as he undertakes various investigations, there is also one story that sees him recalling a memory from his childhood. Having this chapter included in the volume provided a nice break from the investigations that Taichi is involved in. But that’s not to say that any of the investigations are bad or boring, though. The investigations usually present an interesting story to accompany the people that Taichi comes in contact with during each one. But sometimes as a reader, I know I need a short break from following Taichi as he untangles mysteries that arise during his investigations.

Readers who have read previous volumes of the series should also be able to appreciate Master Keaton Volume 5. These stories contain the right mixture of intrigue, mystery, humor, and character development to keep them interested in what happens from the front cover to the back cover.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Manga Review: “Maid-sama!” Omnibus Volumes 3-4

Maid-sama! Omnibus Volumes 3-4 collects two volumes of Maid-sama! together into one release. The series focuses on Misaki Ayuzawa, a 16-year-old girl serving as the student council president at a formerly all-boys’ high school. She needs to earn money to help her family, and secretly works at a maid café. Her secret is discovered by popular boy Takumi Usui, and it appears that Takumi has feelings for Misaki.

Maid-sama! Omnibus Volumes 3-4

Written by: Hiro Fujiwara
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: November 3, 2015

This omnibus opens by continuing the school’s sports day, with a specific focus on the final event: the Dress-Up Race. The usual participants are the students who aren’t athletically inclined, and it’s a race that’s not taken seriously. However, both Misaki and Takumi decide to enter the race. Student council vice president Shouichirou Yukimura also competes, with Misaki giving him encouragement. This storyline includes humorous moments, but it also has a very important lesson and some minor character growth for Shouichirou. It was also nice to see a character other than Misaki and Takumi being focused on in the series.

At the maid café, the owner wants to have a “little sisters” theme day. Misaki doesn’t think she can do it and tries to get out of working that day, but her co-workers call her out on it. In fact, one of them challenges her to learn how to be a “little sister,” or Misaki will be fired. It was interesting to see the normally confident Misaki poring over various manga and trying to learn how to have the “little sister” personality. While we see her working as hard as usual, it’s also a little amusing to see Misaki looking at the “girly” things she normally wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.

Maid-sama! Omnibus 3-4 also introduces Aoi Hyoudou, a relative of the owner of the maid café. Aoi is an internet idol who has an eye for Takumi. Not surprisingly, Takumi isn’t interested and Aoi becomes jealous of Misaki. There’s a very surprising revelation about Aoi during this volume, and it really changes how the reader looks at the character going forward. Personally, I’m not a fan of Aoi. I think this character is rather annoying and doesn’t truly add much of anything to the Maid-sama! series.

Then, a mysterious boy is lurking around the halls of Seika High School and causing strange things to happen. This person even manages to have an effect on Misaki. By the end of this storyline, the mysterious boy appears to be redeemed, but I’m not expecting him to return to the story any time in the near future. To be honest, it felt like his ability was a little on the exaggerated side, which caused me to not entirely enjoy this character’s storyline.

The remainder of the volume sees the staff of the maid café going to the beach to spend time with the boss’ little sister. They find themselves using their maid café personas to help out the struggling business that’s run by the boss’ sister. Unfortunately, we also have to deal with Aoi in this story. Takumi comes along on the trip as well, since he’s been asked to help out at the maid café a lot. It appears that his being there is an important part of developing Misaki and Takumi’s overarching storyline.

There are also two bonus stories included in this volume. Personally, I didn’t care much for the first one, because it was just simply too weird. The second one basically shows the idiot trio’s jealousy of the time Takumi spends with Misaki. It wasn’t weird, but it didn’t really add much, either.

When it comes to the art in this volume, I give Fujiwara credit for all the detail she puts into drawing Aoi’s curly hairstyle. It’s such a stark contrast from the “messy” hairstyles that the other characters are usually given. There are also some close-ups of Misaki and Takumi that are very expressive and really stand out. When Fujiwara puts the effort in, she can draw some fantastic art.

Maid-sama! Omnibus Volumes 3-4 should appeal to readers who have read the previous two volumes in the series and enjoyed them. There are some good moments between Misaki and Takumi in this omnibus that fans won’t want to miss reading.

Another English Cast Member Announced for Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun

It has been announced that Monica Rial will be playing Yū Kashima in the English version of Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun.

Sentai Filmworks will be releasing Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun on DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and as a premium box set on March 29, 2016. The DVD complete collection retails for US$59.98, the Blu-ray Disc collection retails for US$69.98, and the premium box set retails for US$129.98.

Source: ANN