Manga Review: “Magi” Volume 12

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Magi Volume 12 focuses on Aladdin, a young man who is a Magi and has the ability to gather the Magoi of Rukh to power his magic.

Magi Volume 12

Written by: Shinobu Ohtaka
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: June 9, 2015

Volume 12 opens with Yamraiha finishing off a battle with a member of Al-Thamen. How Yamraiha brings about the conclusion of this battle is actually rather surprising, but it turns out to be very effective.

However, a lot of Magi Volume 12 actually focuses on Sinbad and what he goes through. He is being surprised by the arrival of Judar, a Magi working for Al-Thamen as the oracle of the Kou Empire. The two of them exchange heated words, with Judar declaring that he wants to destroy Sindria. As a representative of the Kou Empire, this could be perceived as the empire declaring war on Sinbad. This event creates a tense undercurrent that basically runs throughout the rest of the volume.

A princess of the Kou Empire has fled to Sindria and is being protected by Sinbad. We see several interactions between Sinbad and the princess throughout this volume, and these scenes almost lead the reader to believe that perhaps Sinbad might have an interest in her. Unfortunately, there’s a scene near the end of the volume that appears to squash this potential relationship.

Aladdin and the others return to Sindria, and shortly after their arrival, Hakuryu suffers a side effect from being bitten by a snake: his hand falls off and Ithnan manifests himself from the hand. Ithnan casts a curse on Sinbad and Alibaba. Yamraiha discovers the curse is just corruption being caused by magic, but she doesn’t know the formula to dispel it. Even though he is cursed, Sinbad is able to chase down and defeat Ithnan. But even with Ithnan’s defeat, it ultimately takes Aladdin’s power to heal Alibaba.

At the end of Volume 12, Aladdin makes a big decision that will have a major impact on the direction that the story is headed.  This decision includes both heading to a new location and leaving his current friends behind. But after what happened in Sindria, it’s really not surprising that Aladdin decides to take this step.

Magi Volume 12 has some emphasis on action, but the majority of the story focuses more on interactions between characters. A lot of the character interactions focus on Sinbad, which I thought was a good thing. I appreciated getting to see more of Sinbad, because it helped me to start better understanding him as a character. I also thought that the Kou Empire princess, along with her brother who is in Sindira with her, added interesting layers to the story.

When it comes to the art, it appears that many of the newer characters introduced into the series have more detail to their designs than Aladdin. However, I noticed in this volume that Alibaba’s design feels different compared to how he looked in earlier volumes of the series. Perhaps this noticeable change in his design is to signify that he has changed and progressed as a character.

Magi Volume 12 should be able to captivate long time readers of the series, especially when it comes to Sinbad’s various character interactions. This volume makes some important revelations and introduces forthcoming changes that should make the story an interesting read for the fans.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

GANGSTA.: Episode 1 – “Naughty Boys”

GANGSTA. is based on a manga by Kohske. The anime is being produced by Manglobe, and is being directed by Shuko Murase. As of this writing, FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American distribution license for GANGSTA.

GANGSTA. is set in the city of Ergastulum, which is a shady placed filled with all sorts of criminals, cops that aren’t on the up-and-up, as well as “women of the night.” The series focuses on two “Handymen” named Nic and Worick, who take on the jobs that no one else wants to touch. Nic is deaf, but he’s very adept at reading lips and taking down enemies with his swords; he’s also a “Tag,” which appears to give him extraordinary strength.

This episode introduces the audience to a prostitute named Alex, and Nic and Worick seem to keep bumping into her. Alex is treated badly by her pimp, who turns out to be the head of a gang trying to get a foothold in the area. Nic and Worick are asked by the police to take down Barry, Alex’s pimp. But the job gets complicated when the two men are told they also have to kill Alex. But Nic and Worick come up with an idea of how to save her life, and I have to give them some serious credit for how they pull this off.

I’ve already read the first volume of the manga, so I already knew what to expect from this episode. But I enjoyed getting to see these characters in color and moving around, and I think the animated format added more to what was already an interesting story that was presented in the manga. Manglobe did an impressive job with the animation in the first episode, and I was thoroughly convinced that I was seeing events taking place in the shady place that Ergastulum is depicted as in the manga. The animation has a much more realistic look to it, and at some points it can be on the violent side. But the violence is realistic for the setting and serves an important purpose for the story that’s being told.

My favorite part of GANGSTA. and its animation is the detail that is gone to in order to depict the sign language that Nic and those communicating with him use. A lot of effort has been made to accurately depict the Japanese Sign Language (JSL), and I give the animators a lot of credit for that. Hopefully they will continue to utilize this level of detail as the series progresses. It would have been easier to cut corners to save time and effort, but I’m glad to see that they have avoided this temptation.

So far, GANGSTA. has a lot going for it. The animation quality complements the interesting characters who are introduced in the first episode, and the background music score also fits with the moods and scenes that are being established. I hope that Manglobe can keep the quality of the series like this as much as they can in future episodes. I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen to Nic, Worick, and Alex next.

Crunchyroll Announces New Manga for Its Service

Crunchyroll announced at its manga panel at Anime Expo that it will add the Princess Jellyfish, Takahashi-san is Listening, Scum’s Wish, Sweetness and Lightning, and The Morose Mononokean manga to its web distribution service.

Kodansha Comics licensed the first 12 volumes of Princess Jellyfish for North America and will release the first 2-in-1 volume in February 2016. Kodansha Comics describes the story as:

Tsukimi, who has loved jellyfish from a young age, resides in Amamizukan, a fangirl-only dorm. One evening at the local pet store, Tsukimi sees a lovely jellyfish in danger, but a beautiful woman comes to the rescue. They go back to Amamizukan together, but this “woman”… is actually a man!

The first four volumes of Princess Jellyfish will launch on Crunchyroll on July 15, 2015 at 8pm EDT. Volumes will be added afterward at regular intervals.

Yū Hokuō serializes Takahashi-san is Listening (Takahashi-san ga Kiiteiru.) in Square Enix’s Gangan Joker. The series began in 2013 and Square Enix shipped the fifth compiled volume in Japan in April 2015.

Crunchyroll describes the story as:

High school student idol Ena Takahashi has a hobby she can’t tell anyone about… and that is listening in on the ridiculous conversations of class representative Nara-kun and the plain boy Mikage-kun. If her secret is discovered, people’s trust in her will be destroyed! She wants to retort, but she can’t! The eavesdropping short-gag manga full of tension and guilty conscience begins!

The series will launch on Crunchyroll on July 5, 2015 at 8pm EDT.

Mengo Yokoyari’s Scum’s Wish (Kuzu no Honkai) began in Big Gangan magazine in 2012, and Square Enix shipped the fifth compiled volume in Japan in June 2015.

Crunchyroll describes the story as:

Hanabi and Mugi are bathed in envious gazers from all around as a beautiful couple with excellent moral conduct. But these two apparently perfect people in an apparently perfect relationship share a secret they can’t tell anyone.

The series will launch on Crunchyroll on July 5, 2015 at 8pm EDT.

Gido Amagakure began Sweetness and Lightning (Amaama to Inazuma) in Kodansha’s good! Afternoon magazine in 2013. The fourth compiled volume shipped in Japan in March 2015.

Crunchyroll describes the story as:

Having lost his wife, math teacher Kouhei Inuzuka is doing his best to raise his young daughter Tsumugi as a single father. He’s pretty bad at cooking and doesn’t have a huge appetite to begin with, but chance brings his little family and one of his students, Kotori Iida, together for homemade adventures. With those three cooks in the kitchen, it’s no wonder this dinner table drama is so delicious.

The series will launch on Crunchyroll on July 15, 2015 at 8pm EDT.

Kiri Wazawa began The Morose Mononokean (Fukigen na Mononokean) in Square Enix’s Gangan Online in 2013 and the fourth compiled volume shipped in Japan in May 2015.

Crunchyroll describes the story as:

Ashiya has spent the first seven days of high school stuck in the infirmary because of a youkai attaching itself to him. He ends up asking the owner of a small tea room called “Mononokean” for help. This is volume 1 of the mysterious stories involving the very morose owner of Mononokean guiding the youkai that happened to wander into this world go to the next world.

The series will launch on Crunchyroll on July 5, 2015 at 8pm EDT.

Source: ANN

Yen Press Announces New Manga Licenses at Anime Expo

Yen Press announced at its Anime Expo panel that it has licensed the following manga and will release them in print:

  • Maomichi Io’s My youth romantic comedy is wrong as I expected
  • Satsuki Yoshino’s Handa-kun
  • Koyuki’s Log Horizon: The West Wind Brigade
  • Kōtarō Yamada’s Sword Art Online: Phantom Bullet
  • Tsubasa Haduki’s Sword Art Online: Mother’s Rosario
  • Matra Milan’s Demonizer Zilch
  • Shinjiro’s Taboo-Tattoo
  • Takeshi Moriki’s How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend

Handa-kun was previously licensed as a digital-only release. Handa-kun is a spinoff of Yoshino’s Barakamon, and according to Yen Press it is selling better in Japan than the original.

Yen Press announced that it will release the following manga digitally.

  • Karuna Kujō’s Aphorism
  • Sakurako Gokurakuin’s Sekirei
  • Ritz Kobayashi’s Saki
  • Yen Hioka’s Black Detective
  • Naoe’s Aoharu x Machine Gun
  • Yoshiichi Akahito’s Corpse Princess
  • Souta Kuwahara’s Crimson Prince
  • Shamu Itou’s Renaissance Eve

The company also announced that it will begin simultaneous publication of the following Square Enix titles in October 2015:

  • Yana Toboso’s Black Butler
  • Satsuki Yoshino’s Handa-kun
  • Ato Sakurai’s Today’s Kerberos
  • Higasa Akai’s The Royal Tutor
  • Writer Homura Kawamoto and artist Tooru Naomura’s Kake Gurui
  • Karino Takatsu’s My Monster Girl’s Too Cool for You (Ore no Kanojō ni Nanika Yōkai, or My Girlfriend is Some Kind of Monster)
  • Tomoo Yokoyama’s Demon King Ena-sama Goes to a Manga School (Mansen Maō Shōjo Ena-Sama)

The last three are new license announcements.

Source: ANN

Manga Review: “Tokyo Ghoul” Volume One

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Tokyo Ghoul Volume 1 focuses on a shy college freshman named Ken Kaneki who has an interest in reading.

Tokyo Ghoul Volume 1

Written by: Sui Ishida
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: June 16, 2015

Volume 1 opens with Ken and his friend, Hide, at a café. A news report comes on the television about an attack on a man that appears to have been caused by a Ghoul. While they’re at the café, a girl named Rize enters. Ken has a crush on her because she’s beautiful and she’s reading the same book that he is. While in the café, Rize bumps into Ken’s book. After some chit-chat, Ken asks her out on a date.

But Ken gets more than he bargained for on their date. It turns out that Rize is a Ghoul, and she bites him. As Ken flees, he leads Rize to a construction site, where an I-beam falls and appears to kill her. Ken is in critical condition and needs an organ transplant, and since he and Rize have the same blood type, her organs are used without consent due to the being an emergency. Unfortunately for Ken, receiving Rize’s organs causes him to become part Ghoul.

After this point, much of Volume 1 focuses on Ken as he tries to deal with this predicament. He discovers that he can no longer stomach regular food and has to subsist on human flesh. But this idea disgusts Ken, and it looks like he could perish. But he receives some unexpected help, although this help is given to him by grudgingly. Near the end of the volume, Ken finds himself in a desperate situation that includes his friend, Hide.

With both the writing and the art in Tokyo Ghoul Volume 1, Ishida perfectly captures the horror that Ken goes through after discovering that he has partially become a Ghoul. With the writing, I also appreciated the various revelations that are made throughout the volume when it comes to learning who some of the other Ghouls in the area are. As I skimmed through this volume again after reading it in its entirety, I discovered that Ishida dropped some hints early on as to who a couple of the Ghouls were. It was done in such a way that it wouldn’t necessarily stand out to a reader the first time they read the volume, but it will catch their attention when they look at it a second time.

When it comes to the art, Ishida seems to go to a lot of effort on character designs, because the characters all look unique. Ishida tries hard not to cut corners when drawing the characters, unless a less detailed look is needed for an effect. It’s also obvious reading Tokyo Ghoul Volume 1 that Ishida tries to include a lot of detail for the scenes that are more on the gruesome side, which adds to the horror that is being conveyed in this series. While there is some violence depicted in Tokyo Ghoul that includes blood, the violence isn’t as gory or scary as it could have been. There’s no getting around the blood, though, since this series focuses on creatures that eat human flesh for sustenance.

Tokyo Ghoul Volume 1 should appeal to readers who enjoy horror stories that include supernatural elements, blood, and introspective dark fantasy.

The reviewer received a review copy from VIZ Media

Toriko Manga Is Taking a One-Week Break Due to Author’s Sudden Illness

A notice from the editorial department published in the 32nd issue of Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump reveals that Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro’s Toriko manga did not appear in the issue due to the author’s sudden illness. The editorial department apologized to readers who were looking forward to reading the new chapter.

The editorial department also noted that the postcard included with the magazine for the weekly survey still lists Toriko as being published in the issue because, due to the publishing schedule, the staff couldn’t remove the listing in time. The staff apologized for the error.

The notice added that the manga will return in the 33rd issue on July 13, 2015.

Source: ANN

Manga Review: “Arata: The Legend” Volume 22

Originlly written for WatchPlayRead.com

Arata: The Legend Volume 22 tells the story of two boys named Arata who come from two different worlds-one from modern day Japan, the other from Amawakuni. The two boys switch places and are mistaken for the other and the modern day Arata finds himself being framed for murder.

Arata: The Legend Volume 22

Written by: Yuu Watase
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: June 9, 2015

Volume 22 sees Arata trying desperately to find someone who can save Kotoha’s life after he was the one who accidentally injured her. His friends find someone who can help, but she’s currently trying to heal the people in a village being attacked by Ameeno, one of the Six Sho. The healer they have found has to make a tough decision, which leads to a touching storyline that involves Kotoha.

Arata gets to witness a major battle between Ameeno and Ikisu, another one of the Six Sho. It’s during this battle that Arata realizes that he had become a kind of demon when he was with Kadowaki in Volume 21. Arata was already shown feeling guilty over injuring Kotoha, and now he must also grapple with his behavior and actions when he stood up to Kadowaki. Arata: The Legend Volume 22 spends a considerable amount of time focusing on Arata and his reactions to what’s going on around him, which ultimately leads to some character growth for him.

The battle between Ameeno and Ikisu is very action packed until the winner of the fight is determined. But the end of this battle also reveals a major secret for Nasake, the Zokusho for Ameeno. Let’s just say that I didn’t see this secret coming, so it caught me by complete surprise.

After Kotoha is well enough to travel, Arata and the others take an airship belonging to one of the Six Sho in order to continue their travels. But Kannagi wanders around and gets into something he shouldn’t, which causes everyone who comes into his location to switch genders.

Ah, the switched gender storyline. While this may not be as common as other tropes that appear in manga, it has still become a trope in its own right. But for this storyline, having Arata being the opposite gender is a bad thing because he can’t use his Hayagami while he’s a female. Unfortunately, the swapped gender storyline isn’t resolved in Volume 22, so the characters will continue to be the opposite gender in Volume 23.

But Arata: The Legend Volume 22 does give the reader scenes with the Arata that is currently in modern day Japan, which was sorely lacking in Volume 21. The two Aratas are able to communicate in one scene, and a lot of information is revealed. The final chapter of Volume 22 is set in modern day Japan, and Arata and Imina receive a major surprise when they arrive at school.

With Volume 22, I have to say that I enjoyed the earlier portion of the story that focused on Arata’s character growth as he dealt with the guilt he felt over hurting Kotoha and the way he had acted with Kadowaki. So far, I’m not too impressed with the gender swapping story, but hopefully Volume 23 will show why this plot point needed to happen.

Watase’s art style continues to stand out in Arata: The Legend Volume 22. I suspect that she had a fun time designing and drawing her characters for the swapped gender story, since she would have to make major changes to their designs. While I may not be personally interested in that particular plot point, I have to admit that it was amusing to see the characters as the opposite genders.

Even though I may not have entirely cared for Arata: The Legend Volume 22, I believe that readers who have read the series up to this point and enjoy it will appreciate the growth that Arata shows here, as well as getting to see their favorite characters looking different due to the swapped genders.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media