Manga Review: “World Trigger” Volume Four

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

One day, a “gate” to a different world opens in Mikado City, and monsters known as Neighbors start appearing from it. A group known as the Border defense agency appears and creates a defense system against the Neighbors. 15-year-old Osamu Mikumo meets a strange boy named Yuma Kuga, who turns out to be a Neighbor with a Black Trigger. Yuichi Jin from the Tamakoma Brach of Border is trying to help Yuma enlist in Border, but headquarters wants to capture Yuma’s Black Trigger instead.

World Trigger Vol. 4

Written by: Daisuke Ashihara
Publisher: Shueisha Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: February 3, 2015

World Trigger Volume 4 opens with Yuichi teaming up with Arashiyama Squad to protect Yuma from the members of the top A-Rank squad that have teamed up with Miwa Squad. While several battles rage on in the early chapters of this volume, the most interesting is Yuichi fighting against his long-time archrival, Kei Tachikawa. During this battle, Yuichi reveals his own Black Trigger, which is known as Fujin. By combining his Side Effect of being able to see a little bit of the future of someone he’s looking at and his ability to use Fujin, Yuichi is able to catch Kei off-guard.

As the battle is going on, we also see Shiori from Tamakoma Branch explaining the various Triggers to Yuma and Osamu. At least the way the manga handled incorporating these explanations with the battles worked much better than it did in the anime adaptation. The way the manga handled this allowed the explanations to not break the flow of the battle.

A little over half of World Trigger Volume 4 is dedicated to the fights between various members on both sides of the conflict. Yuichi and Arashiyama Squad are the eventual victors, but with his victory, Yuichi does something rather unexpected. He goes to Border headquarters and makes a deal: if Yuichi gives them his Black Trigger, they must allow Yuma to enlist in Border. After some back and forth, the top brass at Border agree to make the deal.

I have to admit that like most of the characters that appeared in this scene, I was surprised that Yuichi was willing to give away his Black Trigger, especially since it was a memento from his teacher. But at the same time, it does make sense. While Yuichi is a very skilled Border agent, he doesn’t seem to have the desire, ambition or need to advance much farther at Border than where he’s currently at. Yuichi is always depicted with such a laid back attitude, so it seems to me that it wouldn’t bother him to give up his Black Trigger as much as it might if it had been one of the other characters in the series needing to make that choice.

The remainder of the volume sees Yuma, along with his and Osamu’s mutual friend, Chika Amatori, attending the official Border Enlistment Day. Since Yuma is a Neighbor, he has too easy of a time defeating a Neighbor in a training exercise, which garners him a lot of attention from the other new recruits and the higher ranked members that are working with them. Chika also surprises the Border member who’s working with the snipers when she already demonstrates a higher level of knowledge than he would have expected from a recruit. Of course, he would have been even more surprised if he knew just how high of a Trion level that Chika has.

Having the Border Enlistment Day material right after the fighting sequences and the political wrangling that takes place for most of the volume was a nice change of pace for me as a reader. It also allowed me to step back from the drama and action and catch my breath before potentially launching into another major story arc.

When it comes to the art in the World Trigger series, I have to say that some of the characters bear very similar looks to characters in other manga series. In particular, Takumi Rindo, the director of Tamakoma Branch looks way too close to Maes Hughes from Fullmetal Alchemist. I also thought that Yosuke Yoneya from Miwa Squad looks like a happier version of Shikamaru from the Naruto franchise, and that Masafumi Shinoda from Border bears some resemblance to Roy Mustang from Fullmetal Alchemist.

When it comes to the designs of the other characters, Ashihara uses varying degree of details. Characters like Yuichi and Isami Toma had a lot of effort put into the details of their design. However, there are also characters within the story that look a little too similar to each other, which makes it harder to follow which one is being focused on. One of the worst cases of this is Soya Kazama and Shuji Miwa, and the only way I can tell the difference is if Shuji is wearing his headphones.

World Trigger isn’t necessarily bad at what it’s trying to do, but it’s just not at the same level as classic shonen manga series such as Naruto, Bleach, One Piece or Dragon Ball. Osamu, the main character of World Trigger, really isn’t an interesting or captivating protagonist. He doesn’t have a personality or any traits that make him stand out. In fact, his companions Yuma and Chika are more interesting due to having backstories revealed in earlier volumes that developed their character.

Even though I may not be overly impressed by World Trigger, the series might be of interest to readers who enjoy shonen manga with a science fiction angle. And for readers who are already fans of the series, World Trigger Volume 4 will provide you with the action and character interactions that you’ve come to expect from reading the earlier volumes of the series.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Weekly Shonen Jump (February 23, 2015)

This issue includes chapters for One Piece, Black Clover, Kagamigami, Gakkyu Hotei: School Judgment, Food Wars!, My Hero Academia, Nisekoi: False Love, Bleach, Toriko, World Trigger, One-Punch Man, and Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal. This issue also includes the first chapter of Cyborg Roggy, which is the next title for this wave of Weekly Shonen Jump‘s “Jump Start” initiative.

For the series that carried over from previous issues I’ve read, I tried to put a little more focus in my write-ups about the progression of the story from the previous chapter. I will warn you that these write-ups will more than likely contain spoilers.

I only started reading Weekly Shonen Jump back in late February/early March of 2014, which means there’s a number of series published in the magazine that I jumped in the middle of. Since then, I’ve been able to start reading older chapters of some of the titles, but I haven’t managed to do this for all of the titles yet. Because of this, there may be times I might inadvertently include incorrect information in the write-ups. If you see something in a write-up that’s incorrect due to my having not read earlier chapters of a series, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know. Not only can I correct the incorrect information in the write-up, it will also help provide information for me to have when reading future chapters of a series in Weekly Shonen Jump.

Of course, you can always check out Weekly Shonen Jump for yourself by subscribing to the digital publication at VIZManga.com.

Cyborg Roggy CH:001

Cyborg Roggy is the next title to be included as part of this wave of the “Jump Start” initiative.

The series is set in a world where about a decade earlier, artificial biological implants known as “augmentation parts” started to get around.

Dog is hired to find out who attacked a cyborg. He’s handed the clothes of the cyborg who attacked, with the hopes that he can get a smell of the attacker. His car is vandalized, and his items inside it are stolen, including the bag of clothes he was given to try to track down the cyborg’s attacker. Dog is able to use his sense of smell to track down the bag of clothes, and he comes across a cyborg attacking the guys who wrecked his car. Unfortunately, a couple of nearby homeless men grab the bag and burn it. Dog talks to the cyborg and explains his situation. It turns out the cyborg wants to talk to Ignite, the leader of the group that hired Dog. Dog calls some of Ignite’s men over, claiming that the cyborg is the one who committed the crime. When Ignite arrives, the cyborg meets with him. When Dog tries to get away, the cyborg accompanies him as he’s fleeing from Ignite and his men. After they make it to a location with few bystanders, the cyborg is ready to take down his pursuers. When the cyborg is able to talk to Ignite again, he says he’s trying to get an umbrella back for a little girl and demands to get it back. The cyborg explains he’s trying to get the umbrella back because he made a promise. The cyborg also reveals that he actually has another score to settle with Ignite from much further back. After the cyborg defeats Ignite, Dog comes back with the umbrella. At the end of the chapter, the cyborg introduces himself as Roggy.

I have to admit that when I first saw the premise, it was making me think about how the idea of something enhancing people in a sci-fi setting was sounding kind of like the recently cancelled Hi-Fi Cluster. But as I read the actual chapter, it was quickly apparent that Cyborg Roggy and Hi-Fi Cluster are nothing alike. Roggy is definitely an interesting character. He comes across as such a “tough guy” right at first, but then we learn that he’s trying to talk to Ignite because of something that most people would regard as a silly reason. Roggy isn’t what I expected from a character with his type of design, but I think that this dichotomy works. It looks like Dog is going to be his weaker sidekick, so it’ll be interesting to see how this series continues with the two of them teaming up together. I definitely see some promise with this manga, and I’m hoping the next couple of chapters will see that promise manifest itself.

One Piece CH:777

It’s revealed that Kyros defeated Diamante in the battle. Unfortunately, Kyros, Rebecca, and Robin’s relief is short-lived when Pica arrives. After a conversation with Kyros, Pica leaves and returns to the battleground where he and Zoro were fighting. But instead of going after Zoro, Pica starts attacking the weak and injured. Then Pica is on the move, and it appears he’s after King Riku. Zoro decides to go after him.

So we officially wrap up the battle between Kyros and Diamante, and it now appears that the focus has shifted to Pica. But Pica isn’t satisfied fighting with Zoro, so he goes after King Riku in order to prevent his return to power. With the chapter being titled, “Zolo vs. Pica,” I had assumed that most of the chapter would have focused on their battle, so it was a little disappointing that they don’t actually battle each other at all. The only thing we get is Zoro getting ready to take Pica on right at the end of the chapter. I’m hoping that the next chapter will actually focus on Zoro and Pica’s battle. While I wouldn’t expect a battle between them to end in one chapter, I’m hoping to see their battle renewed in the next chapter since so much built up to that.

Black clover CH:002

Six months have passed since the end of Chapter One, and the story is set at the Magic Knights Entrance Exam venue. We see that both Asta and Yuno are here. While at the venue, Asta accidentally bumps into Yami Sukehiro, a leader of the Black Bulls, one of the Magic Knight squads; unfortunately, Asta doesn’t leave a good impression. When the exam is underway, William Vangeance, the captain of the Golden Dawn squad, calls for a magic tree to descend, and from its roots, it hands out broomsticks. The first test has the Wizard Knights hopefuls flying on a broomstick. Yano is able to do this easily. Asta, unfortunately, can’t even make himself float. We briefly see some of the other tests, and Asta is struggling. The final test has the participants engaging in actual combat. Asta is approached by a guy who simply sees him as a bottom dweller that will make him look better, and Asta accepts. Asta’s battle ends up being first. Everyone thinks Asta is going to fail, but he surprises everyone when he uses his grimoire and easily knocks out his opponent.

First of all, I have to say that I couldn’t help but think that Gordon Agrippa, one of the characters introduced in this chapter, strongly resembles Marilyn Manson. That was so distracting! But when it comes to the actual story itself, I couldn’t help thinking that Black Clover has accelerated the Naruto formula a little and moved the important exam up to the second chapter. While the Magic Knights Entrance Exam isn’t exactly like the Chunin Exam, they’re both very important exams for their respective stories. And the main reason the test was moved up so much earlier is the fact that Asta doesn’t need to worry about the team building that Naruto and the rest of Team 7 had to go through. While this chapter isn’t quite as blatant about the Naruto formula as the first chapter was, I can still see it here. I’m really hoping that Chapter Three can succeed in breaking away from the Naruto formula even more than Chapter Two did.

Kagamigami CH:003

This chapter shows us that someone going by “Hollow Rabbit” has given the power to control shikigami to someone that he met on the Internet, and the Shikigami Association is concerned about it. It’s also revealed that the ripper who was captured back in Chapter One had an unregistered ghost device embedded in his chest area, as well as a huge parasitic worm in his abdomen. An executive named Karasuma is assigned to talk to Kyosuke Kagami, since he was the one who captured the ripper.

Karasuma goes to visit Kyosuke at Mako’s place. He tells the both of them that he’s the association’s task broker, and that it’s his job to match an appropriate shikigami user to a task. It turns out that there’s an outbreak in Tokyo of random grudge killings using shikigami, and Kyosuke is given the task of hunt down the individual who is sharing the knowledge of shikigami usage.

Later, Karasuma takes Kyosuke to the person he’s been paired up with for the task. He’s been paired with one of the association’s top three most violent people. We’ve been seeing “Hollow Rabbit” trying to convince someone to acquire the power to control shikigami, and it turns out that this person is the guy that Kyosuke has been teamed up with. We learn the guy’s name is Keiichi Shido, and he’s already started attacking “Hollow Rabbit.” Right at the end of the chapter, it’s discovered that Mako has stowed away in the vehicle with Karasuma and Kyosuke.

Well… this isn’t the direction I had expected this manga to go in. It’s not necessarily a bad direction, but it’s not what I was expecting. From the three chapters of this series that I’ve read, I think it has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, it looks like I won’t be able to read more of it immediately, since this is the final chapter that’s going to be run as part of the “Jump Start” initiative. If it gets a good enough response, it could end up being added to Weekly Shonen Jump in the future.

Gakkyu Hotei: School Judgment CH:011

Abaku and Tento go to school on a day that it’s closed in order to meet with Hikari Takasu, who has been accused of plagiarism. Meanwhile, Sarutobi is meeting with Vin Daichi, the one who has accused Hikari of the crime. Sarutobi’s meeting isn’t very productive, but Abaku’s meeting with Hikari is much more helpful. Abaku is shown three pairs of art; the first two really aren’t that similar, but the third one appears to be an exact match. They meet Ms. Goh, who helps out with the third and fourth grade art classes, and is an alumnus of the school. She had an artwork that placed in a prefecture-wide contest, and Hikari looks up to her. She used to paint with both Hikari and Vin when they were younger. Hikari has an article with him about Ms. Goh’s teacher that she studies under, and Abaku notices that Ms. Goh’s work that placed in the contest has a similarity to her mentor’s work.

Later, Abaku and Tento go to observe Sarutobi at a classroom session that’s taking place at the school next door. But when they get there, they find an end-of-day meeting going on instead of a classroom session. They’re five minutes late, and the classroom session is already over and done. Sarutobi tries to wager that if Abaku loses, the two of them should join forces; Abaku refuses. At the end of the chapter, Tento admits to seeing Abaku’s clippings about the Bloody Session and asks Abaku about it.

From what I saw in this chapter, it appears that somehow, Ms. Goh is involved with this plagiarism case. However, I can’t quite figure out how she did it or why yet. And it also appears both Abaku and Sarutobi were involved in the Bloody Session that had been hinted at earlier in the series. With Tento admitting to seeing the clippings and asking Abaku outright, I wonder if the next chapter will see Abaku providing some background for that, or if the next chapter will jump straight to the civil suit. I’ve been really curious about the Bloody Session since it was first mentioned, and I’m really hoping the next chapter will at least provide a little more information on it.

Food Wars! CH:107

In this chapter, we see that Megumi and Erina have been paired up together for Stagiaire Week, and they’re assigned to work at a restaurant called Excellent. Erina tells Megumi to concentrate on nothing except staying out of her way. The head chef tells them both that they’ll be starting out by washing dishes. Erina says she refuses, because it is proper to assign a person tasks appropriate to their skill level. Three days later, Erina has proven herself with her culinary skills. However, the head chef isn’t happy about Erina taking over his kitchen.

Overall, this chapter focused more on Erina and Megumi than it did on Soma and Hisaki. Not surprisingly, Erina makes a big splash in the kitchen. While the head chef isn’t happy about this at first, he ends up having to admit that Erina knows what she’s doing and allows Erina to give her opinions on the dishes. But at the end of the chapter, it appears Soma may not be entirely satisfied with the location where he and Hisaki have been assigned and thinks there needs to be a change. It’ll be interesting to see if the next chapter will show us what Soma is thinking.

My Hero Academia CH:031

Midoriya is approached by Todoroki, who asks Midoriya is he’s All Might’s illegitimate child or something. Midoriya denies it, but then asks Todoroki why he would think that. Tadoroki believes that Midoriya is hiding some kind of connection. And since Todoroki is the son of the second greatest hero of all time, he’d want to crush Midoriya if he was connected to All Might, the number one hero. Meanwhile, All Might encounters Endeavor, Todoroki’s father, and asks for advice on training the next generation. Endeavor isn’t willing to help; all he says is that he created Todoroki so he could be molded in order to defeat All Might. We then see Todoroki explaining his situation to Midoriya and saying how much he hates it. After sharing some words, Midoriya makes his own declaration of war: he says he’ll beat Todoroki.

The primary purpose of this chapter was to provide backstory for Todoroki. As someone who’s jumping into the middle of this series, I appreciate getting backstory on any of the characters, because I hope it will help me to better understand who these characters are and the story that they inhabit. We definitely seem to be building to a rivalry between Midoriya and Todoroki, which becomes a second generation rivalry of Endeavor and All Might. From what’s shown at the end of this chapter, it looks like the next chapter will start showing the final event that pits the 16 members of the winning teams into a series of one-on-one battles.

Nisekoi: False Love CH:159

This chapter opens how the previous chapter ended, with Shu asking Raku who he likes more: Onodera or Chitoge? Raku insists that he only sees Chitoge as a friend, but Shu doesn’t seem entirely convinced. Shu even bluntly tells his friend that he thinks that Raku has started to like Chitoge. Raku then runs into Onodera, who is making a farewell cake for Chitoge. Onodera says that all it seems she can do now is decorate cakes, and Raku gives her words of encouragement. When Raku mentions that he wishes there was something he could do to help Chitoge, Onodera surprises Raku and herself by saying that he should help her. This is because he knows more about Chitoge’s home situation than she does.

Raku goes to look for Chitoge. When he finds her, she tells Raku she’s come up with a great plan. Since her father won’t let her stay in Japan because she won’t be well-guarded, Chitoge comes up with the idea to move in with Raku so she’d be under the protection of Raku’s father’s yakuza. Raku tries to argue, but Chitoge points out that Yui lives there. Raku justifies Yui’s being there by saying that she’s more like a big sister. He also argues that her father and Claude would never truly let her live there. Chitoge looks sad and has to admit defeat. But when he sees her sad expression, he decides that he’ll try to convince his father and the other members of the yakuza. But then he asks what Chitoge’s plan is if he’s able to succeed; her response is that she’ll sneak out without a word and hide at his place. She mentions that Tsugumi would probably stay with them as well. But at the end of the chapter, we see that someone has been listening in on the conversation…

Well, at first glance, it appears that Komi has found a way to keep Chitoge and Tsugumi in Japan and keep the series from ending. When I thought that, I found myself feeling a little disappointed. But seeing those final two panels makes it obvious that this isn’t going to go according to plan. I suspect that the person listening in on the conversation will somehow keep this plan from coming to fruition. And if I’m right about that, there’s still a good chance that what we’re seeing now could potentially be leading toward the end of Nisekoi: False Love.

Bleach CH:616

Yhwach tells Ichigo and the others that no matter what they do, Reio cannot be resurrected. Then the scene shifts to the Soul Reapers, where Ukitake declares that he will take Reio’s place. He summons something called Mimihagi. We learn that Ukitake was supposed to die when he was three. His parents went to a shrine for Mimihagi, a god who is said to be the enshrined right arm of Reio that fell from the sky long ago. His parents began a prayer to offer Ukitake’s lungs, and because of this, he lived. Ukitake is performing a ritual called Kamikake, which allows Mimihagi’s power to spread from his lungs to all the organs in his body. He has now become Mimihagi’s dwelling. Right at the end of the chapter, we see Shunsui calling out to Aizen.

Wow… what a backstory for Ukitake. It’s interesting, but I’m also a little sad to see that he is now transforming in order to replace Reio. I’ve always liked Ukitake as a character, and with this change happening, he won’t ever be the same again. But just like with last week’s chapter, it truly feels like Kubo is finally trying to progress this story arc for Bleach. Events are starting to happen one after another, and the story isn’t feeling like it’s being unnecessarily stretched out. Please, Kubo, keep this up, and don’t drag out any more battle scenes.

Toriko CH:313

Kaka sees Komatsu awake and sitting up, but then he appears to start melting. Meanwhile, Toriko and the others join together for an attack; but before they launch the attack, Sunny envelops the ring with his hair in order to conceal their fight from outside viewers. During this “fight,” Toriko and the others finally understand what Monkey Martial Arts really is. We also get to see a flashback of when Coco explains something he had seen in a mural at the ruins they visited earlier, and how this helped them to come up with their theory about the truth of Monkey Martial Arts. And near the end of the chapter, it appears that Kaka may not be what they appeared to be…

In the end, not much really happened in this chapter. It was more of a chapter to share some exposition with the reader and to build up to what should be the next action sequence in the story. It looks like Toriko and the others understand what Monkey Martial Arts is, and what they need to do in order to reach their objective. And it appears Kaka hasn’t been entirely honest with Toriko and the others. Hopefully more will be answered about Kaka sooner rather than later.

World Trigger CH:093

This chapter sees Ko Murakami from Suzunari-1 introducing himself to Yuma, and Yuma introduces him to Osamu. Ko is there to see the rookie attacker who cut down Arafune and the team whose strategy forced him to draw his Kogetsu. When Ko is looking for someone to help him practice, Yuma volunteers. Yuma is warned not to do it, because he’ll jeopardize his next match. When Arafune and Yosuke say they’ll keep their mouths shut, Ko says he has two conditions for his fight with Yuma. While this is going on, Chika is having a conversation with Reiji, and we get a little bit of backstory for him. We then see at the end of the 10 rounds of Yuma and Ko’s battle that Ko won, and that Yuma lost five times in a row. Right at the end of the chapter, Ko’s Side Effect is revealed.

This was a chapter that was focused more on building up toward the next battle in the B-Rank Wars, as well as providing some character development for Reiji. It was a little disappointing that we never actually got to see the battle taking place between Yuma and Ko. All we saw was when they took a break at the halfway point and right after they finished their final round. If the anime makes it this far, I really hope that they’ll see fit to animate the actual battle instead of mentioning it’s going on but not showing any of it. After the big deal that was made about the risk Yuma was taking to accept this fight, I felt cheated that we never got to see any of it.

One-Punch Man CH:041

This chapter opens with Wild Monkey, Hellish Blizzard, and Eyelashes going after a target’s hideout. Meanwhile, Genos senses something approaching quickly. When Genos goes to investigate, he finds Speed-O’-Sound Sonic, who claims to be Saitama’s rival and wants to settle things with him. But then someone calls out for Saitama and says that Hellish Blizzard wants to talk to him. Saitama has no idea who she is. Hellish Blizzard’s sidekicks call Saitama a cocky noob who hasn’t come to see Hellish Blizzard and offer her a customary greeting for when joining Class B. He’s told about the hero factions that exist, and is told he won’t last long unless he joins one. She asks Saitama to join her, and he refuses. She sics her goons on him, but Saitama easily punches them away into the sky.

Basically, this chapter introduces the idea of hero factions, as well as a new hero that I’d personally never seen before. Hellish Blizzard definitely came off as being really cocky, and I was so glad to see Saitama easily punch away her goons. She so deserved that! I wonder if future chapters of the series will end up introducing other heroes from other hero factions, and if they’ll try to recruit Saitama.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal CH:51

Yuma says they’ve got one hope left, and that the other guys protected this last hope with their lives. They are truly able to release the power of the four elements, and that the legend of the Astral World rises again. By combining with Astral, Yuma becomes Zexal. Zexal plays a Spell Card. He also explains that for the ultimate duelist, all duels are preordained. Not only that, but the cards he draws are created by the duelist. Zexal is able to summon Hope Zexal, which keeps his opponent from activating effects. Zexal uses his Hope Sword and slashes at E’rah, knocking her Life Points down to 0. With that, E’rah is defeated and her world is gone. Those who died also come back to life. Yagumo’s soul is also freed from E’rah’s control. Haruto also comes running over, and his soul has returned to normal. Right at the end of the chapter, Astral says that all of their Numbers must be returned to him.

Yes! The battle with E’rah is finally over! But in a lot of ways, once Zexal was summoned, it became rather anti-climactic. I found myself thinking, “You built this up all this time and then it ends this quickly?” Oh, well. At least that battle’s over. But even though the major battle is over, the series isn’t done quite yet. It looks like the situation with Yuma and the Numbers still needs to be resolved. But it does seem like this manga may be ending sooner rather than later.

Manga Review: “Meteor Prince” Volume One

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Meteor Prince Volume 1 focuses on Hako Natsuno, a girl dubbed the “Queen of Bad Luck” due to the strange accidents that she constantly finds herself in. It happens so much that she joins the Occult Research Club in the hopes that the club president can discover the source of her bad luck. One day, a naked alien prince falls from the sky and tells Hako that out of all the girls in the universe, he’s come to Earth to mate with her.

Meteor Prince Volume 1

Written by: Meca Tanaka
Publisher: Hakusensha, Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: January 6, 2015

The driving force of Volume 1 is the confusion and hilarity that ensues as Io, the prince of Planet Yupita, keeps trying to jump into mating with Hako. She tries rebuffing him by first saying that she can’t do this without love. Io asks for the club president’s help for the data he needs to know about falling in love, which the president agrees to do as long as Io provides him with information about his race and his planet.

The humor comes in after Io reads some shojo manga that the club president’s sister owns. With that serving as his reference material, you can only imagine just how “over the top” Io gets as he tries to woo Hako. And after only a short bit of wooing, he wants to move on to mating. Io also joins Hako’s class as a foreign exchange student, and keeps finding ways to try to impress her and make her fall in love. You really can’t blame Hako for being annoyed by these actions early on in the volume.

But amongst the humor, there are also some serious moments in Meteor Prince Volume 1. As Hako starts getting to know Io through more normal interactions, she starts finding him attractive. When Io rescues Hako from being crushed at a construction site, she seems to start showing some feelings for him. But we learn later in the volume that she still has feelings for Sawada, a boy she had been going out with. He was injured when he was near Hako and blamed her bad luck for his injury.

Sawada appears in this volume and tries to apologize to Hako, but the reader already knows that Io isn’t going to stand by and let them get back together. Io shows a darker side when he threatens Sawada in order to keep him away from Hako.

During the second half of this volume, the story manages to fit in two tropes that are commonly seen in manga and anime: a story taking place at the beach and a story that takes place at a summer festival. Even though these kinds of stories are tropes, they were important to this series because it’s through the time Hako spends with Io at the beach and at the festival that she realizes that she’s truly fallen in love with him. Near the end of the volume, Io receives a visit from his attendant, Argo, who brings an unexpected revelation that appears to bring the blossoming romance between Io and Hako to an end.

I have to admit that when I read the back of this volume and saw what the premise was, I thought it sounded rather strange. Even in the early chapters of Meteor Prince Volume 1, I wasn’t entirely sold on the story. However, as I got to see Io and Hako have some serious interactions together, I realized that the story wasn’t as strange or as bad as I had expected it to be. In fact, I found myself starting to feel a little sorry for Hako after Argo delivers his unexpected news. While Meteor Prince may not be a stand out shojo title, it’s not that bad. This series has an angle that helps it to feel more unique instead of just being another typical shojo romance title.

I wish I could say the same thing about the art as I do about the story. Unfortunately, the art style that Tanaka uses in this series has a typical shojo look to it, with nothing to help distinguish the art that’s associated with the shojo genre. The art style isn’t bad for what it is, but there’s nothing to make it stand out, either. And for anyone who may be concerned about any nudity, since the concept of the series includes a naked boy falling from the sky, I can assure you that there is nothing shown. Any shots of Io without clothes on either show him from the waist up or are drawn in a way to make sure that nothing is visible.

If you’re a shojo manga fan who enjoys a mixture of quirky humor and serious moments in a love story, then Meteor Prince Volume 1 might be worth checking out.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

VIZ Media Releases Another English Dub Clip for Tiger & Bunny The Movie -The Rising-

VIZ Media is now streaming another English dub clip from the Tiger & Bunny The Movie -The Rising- anime film, which the company will be releasing on home video on February 24, 2015. In this clip, Barnaby remembers riding with his former partner Kotetsu but is interrupted by his new parter, Golden Ryan.

The film revolves around a mystery that happens on the day of the “Justice Day” festival that celebrates Stern Bild’s legendary goddess. Yuichi Nakamura joined the cast as Golden Ryan, Barnaby Brooks Jr.’s new partner in the film. The movie opened in Japanese theaters in February 2014, and theaters across North America screened VIZ Media and Eleven Arts’ release of the film in 2014.

I am embedding the clip below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to view it due to region blocking.

Source: ANN

Manga Review: “Oresama Teacher” Volume One

Oresama Teacher Volume 1 introduces Mafuyu Kurosaki, a girl who had led a high school gang and was expelled for being a delinquent. Her mother is so fed up with Mafuyu’s behavior that she sends her to Midorigaoka Academy, an isolated school off in the country. Mafuyu intends to turn over a new leaf.

Oresama Teacher Volume 1

Written by: Izumi Tsubaki
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 1, 2011

Unfortunately for Mafuyu, her resolve to turn over a new leaf is destroyed before she even makes it to her first day of class at her new school. She sees a man being attacked and her impulse to fight gets the better of her. But it turns out the man she has rescued is her new homeroom teacher, Takaomi Saeki. And to top it all off, Mafuyu discovers that she actually knew Takaomi when they were younger, and had a crush on him back in the second grade. He’s also the one who ultimately trained Mafuyu how to fight and become the delinquent that she turned into.

Poor Mafuyu had the cards stacked against her when she headed off to Midorigaoka Academy to try and turn over a new leaf. The person who influenced her in her formative years to become a delinquent is now her teacher again, so it makes her resolve that much harder to maintain. Even though Mafuyu may have had a crush on Takaomi when she was a kid, she doesn’t think nearly as much of him now with the interactions she’s had with him in Volume 1. But I suspect that this dynamic will probably change over the course of the series and that Takaomi will become a potential love interest at some point down the line.

On her first day in class, Mafuyu is assigned to sit next to Hayasaka, a lone wolf type of character who also happens to be a delinquent. When she first enters the classroom, Hayasaka can sense a bloodlust coming from her but has no idea why. When Hayasaka is being ganged up on, Mafuyu tries to intervene while he’s unconscious. She’s knocked out before he awakens, so he has no idea she was involved with the fight. Mafuyu decides that the two of them are friends, even though he doesn’t seem like he reciprocates the idea. Later, when Hayasaka is attacked, Mafuyu dons a mask and is able to take down all the guys bothering him. Hayasaka appears to be oblivious that this was Mafuyu, and he seems to be developing a crush on the girl who saved him.

I think it’s safe to say that Hayasaka is being developed to become another potential love interest for Mafuyu. Even though Hayasaka doesn’t realize that the girl in the bunny mask was Mafuyu, he’s still falling for her. Mafuyu refers to Hayasaka as her friend, but there are times near the end of the volume where it comes across that Mafuyu may think of him as more than a friend. Any way you look at it, it appears that the prerequisite love triangle that needs to appear in a shojo manga is being established in Oresama Teacher Volume 1. But at this point in the story, I can honestly say I’m not rooting for Takaomi to get together with Mafuyu. Not only is he older and a teacher, he isn’t exactly nice to her very much. I’m not entirely sure I can root for a Hayasaka and Mafuyu pairing at this point, either. With Hayasaka being a delinquent, he could potentially be a bad influence on Mafuyu, who wants to change her behavior. Hopefully future volumes can develop Hayasaka more so I can feel like I can root for a Hayasaka and Mafuyu shipping.

When it comes to the art in Oresama Teacher Volume 1, I have to admit that there’s not much here to help distinguish it from other shojo manga series. However, the main thing that stood out to me in this volume were the strength of some of the “speed lines” that appear, especially when they are in a panel with Hayasaka. I thought this helped to emphasize the delinquent nature of his character. There are also some impressive close-up panels for Hayasaka and Takaomi, where it’s obvious that Tsubaki spent time to make sure there was more detail in these panels compared to many of the panels that appear in the volume.

Even with the average art, I think that Tsubaki has done a competent job of establishing the characters, the world they inhabit, and their relationships. Oresama Teacher Volume 1 lays a strong foundation for the series, and hopefully future volumes will be able to build off of that foundation and continue to tell a strong story.

I would recommend Oresama Teacher Volume 1 to readers who enjoy shojo manga that feature a high school protagonist dealing with delinquents and a potential love triangle.

The reviewer read a copy that she checked out through the King County Library System

Manga Review: “Magi” Volume 10

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

The story of Magi is set in an alternate recreation of the ancient Old World with several regions and nations bearing some resemblance with their real-life counterparts from that time. This world includes several magic castles full of treasures and traps that are known as “Dungeons,” and each of them is the home of a powerful magic being called a Djinn. Those who overcome the trials of the Dungeon earn the allegiance of its Djinn and gain the ability to use its powers infused in a personal item of theirs.

Magi Volume 10

Written by: Shinobu Ohtaka
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: February 10, 2015

Aladdin and his friends have been sent by King Sinbad to Tran Island to explore the Dungeon known as Zagan. On this quest, Aladdin is joined by Alibaba, Morgiana, and Hakuryu Ren, a prince of the Kou Empire who is visiting Sindria. Their first obstacle is getting the permission of the Tran Village Elder to visit the Dungeon. He refuses at first, until he learns that this is a request from King Sinbad. But the Elder will only agree to let them go if they will take one of his grandchildren to help them navigate the reefs. Three merchants also arrive to get the elder’s blessing, and I swear that these three characters almost looked as if they walked straight out of the Bleach manga series.

One of the elder’s granddaughters guides the group to Zagan and wants to go with them to rescue her parents. Hakuryu says she can’t and that he will either find her parents or avenge her parents’ deaths for her. As soon as I read this scene, I knew that she was going to find some way to enter the Dungeon without their knowledge and somehow cause trouble for the group. Sure enough, I was proven right later in the volume.

As they enter the Dungeon, Alibaba has an encounter with a Djinn named Amon, who offers to lend his strength to his master to help him defeat the twisted Djinn Zagan. When the reader sees the inside of the Dungeon, it looks rather beautiful and awe-inspiring, so it’s hard to believe that there could be anything wrong. But looks are deceiving when some of the flowers and cute critters start saying they want to eat the humans. When one of the creatures becomes angry and attacks, Aladdin and Alibaba defeat it.

And then Zagan suddenly appears, looking so flamboyant that it’s almost frightening. We then see that Zagan truly is as twisted as Amon claimed he was. Zagan takes the Tran Elder’s granddaughter hostage. The others try to rescue her, but the Djinn says he’ll only free her if they can reach the treasure room.

The remainder of Volume 10 focuses on Aladdin and the others trying to make it past the various traps and obstacles that Zagan has put in their way in order to prevent them from reaching the treasure room. During these battles, Hakuryu sees how strong his companions are and feels he has to rely on the others too much. Hakuryu tries asking them to not help him, but Alibaba encourages him to rely on the others. This becomes a point of contention more than once over the course of Volume 10, but Alibaba teaches the prince a lesson that makes him change his stance. As a reader, I appreciated seeing Hakuryu evolve from the proud prince that first enters the dungeon into someone who isn’t afraid to ask for help and rely on his companions.

Near the end of Volume 10, Aladdin and the others learn the fate of the Tran Villagers who disappeared, and their mission becomes more than just capturing a Dungeon. I have to say that Ohtaka did a great job depicting the characters’ disgust at this news in their facial expressions.

This volume of Magi is very action-oriented once Aladdin and his friends enter the Dungeon and begin encountering Zagan’s creatures and traps. But there’s also the occasional character development moment as well. Hakuryu is the primary character with these moments, but an argument can also be made that Morgiana has some development in Volume 10.

While the art in the Magi series may still not be anything terribly special, Ohtaka has made some improvements in her style between Volume One and Volume 10. Newer characters, such as Zagan and Hakuryu, seem to have more detail in their designs than Aladdin and the other characters that have been in the series since the beginning. Her art style isn’t bad, it’s just that there hasn’t been very much that jumps out at me as being something that stands out in comparison to other manga that I’ve read.

For fans of Magi who have been following the series since the very beginning, Volume 10 should be a compelling read, especially when it comes to Hakuryu’s character development.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

VIZ Media Announces New Doraemon Brand Partners

VIZ Media brings aboard tasty new brand partners for Doraemon as it announces delicious new snack products inspired by the beloved titular character’s favorite food, Dorayaki, to be offered by JFC International and Beard Papa’s. VIZ Media is the North and Latin American master merchandise licensee for the celebrated anime property, overseeing the licensing and development of a range of products across a variety of consumer categories.

JFC International, Inc. is a leading global distributor of Asian specialty foods and snack products. The company is featuring an officially branded Doraemon Dorayaki that features an imprinted design of the character, with each package featuring 1 of 20 collectable stickers. Dorayaki is a type of pancake enjoyed widely as a snack in Japan that is filled with sweet red bean paste.

Beard Papa’s is an international chain of cream puff stores that was originally founded in Japan. To celebrate Doraemon, the company is unveiling a special Doraemon

For a limited time, orders for customers that purchase of 6 or more Beard Papa’s cream puffs will come packaged in a special Doraemon collaboration take-out box. Select Beard Papa’s Café store locations, including the Upper Westside (NY) store in Manhattan (2167 Broadway, New York, NY 10024), will also carry this flavor after Japan Week concludes (available from February 21-April 17, 2015).

Doraemon is a unique and colorful global ambassador for Japanese pop culture and we are excited to welcome aboard JFC International and Beard Papa’s as licensed partners for the brand and to have the character prominently featured in a variety of delicious new snacks and confections from these companies,” says Daisuke Aoki, VIZ Media Vice President, Licensing.

Doraemon is one of the most beloved character properties worldwide and started as a manga series created by Fujiko F. Fujio in 1970. It later became a popular anime series and product franchise in Japan that continues to be a smash hit worldwide, especially in Asia. The comedy series depicts the adventures of Doraemon, a blue robot cat from the 22nd century, who travels back in time to help a boy named Noby using various secret gadgets procured from his 4th Dimensional Pocket. Episodes often offer lessons for young viewers about honesty, cooperation, courage, and respect.

Doraemon marks its 45th Anniversary in 2015 and continues to be a major worldwide franchise with over $500 million in annual global retail sales and over 600 active licensees. Over 140 million copies of the manga have been published. Doraemon also holds the largest box office attendance record in Japan of any movie franchise, toppling Godzilla, with 34 feature films released to-date and over 100 million tickets sold last year alone. The property’s first 3D feature film, Stand By Me Doraemon, was released in Japan in August 2014. The Doraemon character is also Tokyo’s bid to act as its Special Ambassador for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.