Category: Viz Media

Val’s Toy Chest-And Now For Something Completely Different…

Hi guys- I’m doing something a little different this week as I am not just going to talk about toys, but also about what I’ve been currently reading. The goal of Val’s Toy Chest is of course to update you the reader with the latest in the world of action figures and toys, but I will occasionally bring in my opinions on different comics as well. What’s got me all excited this week? Would you believe horror manga? Plus, more POP vinyls make their Forbidden Planet debut and I’ll tell you which Hot Toys figure will be next to arrive in store.

Let’s start with the manga. I don’t typically read much by way of Japanese comics. I dabbled a bit in high school when a friend of mine lent me his Maison Ikkoku manga as well as the Oh My Goddess! anime.  I liked both, but in the long run, Maison stuck with me much longer and I finally read the ending a few years back. As for what got me into Manga again, I picked up the Free Comic Book Day issue of Fragments of Horror by Junji Ito. The story included in that issue was pretty messed up, but definitely something that got me intrigued by Ito’s work. So with last Monday being Halloween, I decided to pick up the full volume of Fragments of Horrorwhich is comprised of several short stories and was impressed with what I read. Fast forward to the weekend and I pick up Gyo.  Gyo was pretty insane as well and I’ve figured out from reading these that I kind of like body horror in my scary stories. I won’t say more about Gyo in case you want to read it, but it certainly was intense.  Needless to say, I will be reading Uzumaki before too long and I am also anticipating the re-release of Tomie in December. I’m also going to read Junji Ito’s Cat Diary, just to get a well-rounded picture of his work. If you like horror stories, I think you should give Ito’s stuff a chance.

Funko POP is definitely gearing up for the holidays as we’ve gotten several new releases in the past couple of days. The entirety of the latest Harry Potter wave is here featuring a new Harry, Prof McGonagall, Mad-Eye, Lucius Malfoy, Bellatrix, Fred and George Weasley and the nasty Dolores Umbridge.  Fans of classic 90’s cartoon, Animaniacs have five new figures to choose from including Yakko, Wakko and Dot as well as spin-off characters Pinky and the Brain.

The newest wave of Star Wars Black has arrived in the store with Director Krennic from Rogue One and C-3Po from The Force Awakens. We are sold out of the Scarif Stormtrooper which had a beautiful color scheme. I don’t think the rest of these will last too much longer.

Finally- we got notice today for the newest Hot Toys figure to hit our shelves. The Captain America Civil War Hawkeye is about two weeks out, so expect to see him in our display case shortly. Can’t wait!

Just a quick note for those of you who may be reading this as we open on Wednesday morning, I’ve taken on some more responsibility in the store and as a result, my schedule has been shifted around a bit. So if you’re used to seeing me right as we open Wednesday morning, I probably won’t be around as much during that timeframe anymore. But I am sure we’ll see each other every once in a while.

Catch you guys soon!

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Shiny Shoujo Versus Sporty Shounen— FIGHT!

By Shannon H.

Well, this week sure leaves me happy, since three of the six or so books that I’m actively collecting right now are making their appearance (anyone familiar with this column doesn’t need to guess that means that among our new arrivals is the new Fairy Tail, Blue Exorcist, and Bakuman). For the rest of you, there’s still Vampire Knight, the shoujo-horror book of the hour, as well as another one of those 3-in-1 collections for the mega-beast of a series, Bleach. Beyond all that, though, there are a few sleeper hits that maybe you guys should tune in on, just in case you’re out trolling for something new to read.

In the boys’ corner, we have Slam Dunk, by Takehiko Inoue, who maybe you’ve already read without realizing it; he is the genius behind the beautiful samurai epic, Vagabond. Bet you never thought that his other big titles were shounen basketball stories, did you (I know I didn’t quite expect it!)? Both Slam Dunk, which has a new volume out this week, and Real, are high school basketball dramas, but they couldn’t be more different! Slam Dunk is a more traditional shounen sports story; it follows a juvenile delinquent named Hanamichi who that gets recruited to his high school basketball team and, with a team of other misfits, helps bring the once-unknown team to stardom. Real, however, is a much grittier, darker, and kind of depressing tale about three men whose lives are touched by basketball and what the sport means to them. Buzzer Beater, a third Inoue basketball manga, is a bit more out of this world — quite literally!! This story chronicles a basketball team from Earth that competes on an intergalactic level, and though it has never been published in the States, it might be worth your time to hunt it down should you decide you are now a giant Inoue fan. Continue reading

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Brothers, Homunculi & Alchemy, Oh My!

Obviously the book that is going to rush off the shelves this week is the second-to-last Full Metal Alchemist volume. That shouldn’t surprise anyone, but the excitement that’s building as the story dwindles to a close definitely will! Even if you are one of the new FMA fans that went hog wild over the rehashed anime, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, there is still a certain je ne sais quoi about reading the story as it was originally conceived in manga form (Frankly, it is for this reason that I’m not personally too crazy over Brotherhood. I was okay with accepting the old anime as something different; it at least forced people to read the book, whereas now I worry that having a cartoon version will just make everyone too lazy to do so).

Oh, no, wait; I’m sorry, what was that? You haven’t heard of FMA before? What, you live under a rock or something? Full Metal Alchemist blew up like crazy in the mid 2000’s when the original anime hit Adult Swim, and it’s only gained momentum since. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out; perhaps because you are wary of things that are stupidly popular; at least give FMA a chance, as it most definitely deserves nearly all the brouhaha.

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OMG TINY BABY DINOSAURS!

This nerd is still out, pretending like she’s a legit college student, going to university football games and stuff while out and about. No longer does she have the right to judge bros who come into Forbidden Planet in their plaid shorts and popped-collar polos. But just because she is watching some sports and pigging out on hotdogs doesn’t mean that she’s forgotten her manga faithful on the home front! If anything, she is more attached to y’all than ever before, so know that the rest of this article is written with extreme love for the otaku of FP!!

There’s a pretty giant array hitting our shelves this week, with a heavy emphasis on the action, thriller and generally shounen-type things, with new volumes of all three big guns (Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece) amongst them. Also worth noting is volume four of personal favourite, Grand Guignol Orchestra, and  a new manga called Bloody Monday, the first volume of which is coming to us from Kodansha. Though I don’t know much about the latter, it looks super promising. I mean, hackers and conspiracies and cults? Sounds like it’s just waiting to be a Hollywood flick, but a lot brainier. The art may not be the flashiest, but it has a certain retro feel to it that makes it unique and probably worth checking out. Continue reading

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I’m Your Toy, Your Twentieth Century Boy

So you read Death Note and you loved the poop out of it. Now you’re thirsty for more and ready to graduate into the big leagues, but reading just some other shonen title isn’t enough for you: you want the real deal — something like Death Note, but on the next level, nine thousand times more intense than Light and his killer notebook could ever hope to be. “When will someone write this?” you beseech the heavens, falling to your knees as it begins to rain violently down upon you. “When will someone deliver a manga that is even more twisted and thought-provoking than the last?”

And then heaven will rumble with a thunderous chuckle at your piteousness, for it is well-aware that you are too busy chasing after current anime fads to take the time to look to the past for the classic manga that fits this bill perfectly. That manga is 20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa, the renowned creator of Monster and Pluto. It’s too bad that newer anime fans seem to be afraid of older stuff like its kryptonite or something, and it’s a huge shame that they’re missing out on great anime and manga that isn’t always so shiny-shiny desu (TM), or engineered by science to garner as many followers as possible with the right fanservice and character types. But for those who can appreciate an aesthetic for what it is and journey to the manga of old, they will be in for a real treat… especially when they pick up 20th Century Boys and steamroller all the way through to Volume 16, which comes out this week.

Though it is named after the song, 20th Century Boys is not the rock band manga you’re probably envisioning. Instead, it is a bleak telling of a dystopian future and the events that laid the groundwork for such a dark society to emerge; much like the grim hierarchy that Light set up with the aid of his death note. But unlike Death Note, there’s no Shinigami lurking nearby, casting his shadow over everyone touched by the killer grimoire; instead, it is the machinations of a mere human, whose motives are both grandiose, twisted, and naive. In the Era of Friend, a mysterious, masked individual calling himself Friend plans to eradicate the majority of humanity, leaving behind only the three million he considers to be his true comrades. His methodology is particularly striking to Kenji, who begins to recognize Friend’s contrived apocalypse as the same hypothetical one he and his childhood playmates wrote into a story when they were young. More telling still is the fact that Friend and his followers are united under the emblem that one of Kenji’s friends made up to symbolize their youthful friendship in the early 1970’s. So who is Friend? And how does he know about Kenji and his childhood fantasies of being a hero? Continue reading

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Akuryo Taisen!

Because I’m secretly waiting for a talking black cat to appear and tell me that I’m actually Sailor Mars, I’ve been practicing my divination skills: the spirits tell me that the next big explosion in the land of manga is going to be a little series called Blue Exorcist. Maybe you’ve heard of it, but then again, maybe not. It’s not got the squealing fanbase some other super popular things have (I’m looking at you, Black Butler, Hetalia, and Full Metal Alchemist.) – or at least, not yet it doesn’t. But the formula is there, and if the speed at which the books have been flying off of our shelves is any indicator, the legions of nubile fanatics are on the way. Even now I can hear them stirring deep within this planet’s molten core…

The newest volume of Blue Exorcist came out last week and after drooling over the artwork for the past couple months, I decided it was time to try it out. Boy, did that work out well! First off, as I said, the artwork by Kazue Kato is incredible. It’s super clean, despite her somewhat loose style, but still bursting with detail. Her characters are attractive and distinctive—practically begging to be cosplayed when the fangirl legion strikes—and even within the first few pages, bursting with personality. Even just based on the artwork alone, what could have been a potentially overdone concept is jazzed with something fresh and invigorating. Continue reading

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There’s Indie Hipster Manga, Too!

By Shannon H

The manga release list this week has been culled back from the usual extravaganza we’ve been getting used to as of late. For me, the most exciting of the new books is without a doubt the newest volume of Fairy Tail, but I’ve already had a nerdgasm about that in this column, so you’re off the hook this week. At least as far as Fairy Tail is concerned. That doesn’t mean you are exempt from my elitist railing about what is a cut above the rest, though! This time you get to hear me talk about some under-the-radar manga-ka you probably should start paying attention to, so that you can like them before they’re cool. And be ironic about it, or whatever it is you hipster kids value these days.

The first flail-worthy artist to talk about is Natsume Ono, who is about as indie as manga can possibly get. Honestly, looking at her art you might not even recognize it as being Japanese, since the designs have a much more American underground look to them. But if you know a thing or two about the history and tradition of comics in Japan, you’ll know right away that Ono’s work is as manga as you can get. Her layouts and inking style are very indicative of a manga-ka, proving that manga isn’t made so much by shiny-shiny desu animu girls and giant eyes, but rather by the actual construction of the comic itself, with cinematic layouts, and traditionally inked and screen-toned images. Continue reading

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Phantasmagorical Fantasy

June is really proving to be quite the month for manga collecting! Another really full week is ahead of us, fellow otaku, so loosen those purse strings and get ready for excitements such as new Soul Eater, Higurashi, 20th Century Boys, NGE: Campus Apocalypse, and of course, Full Metal Alchemist. There are even some great reprints in store, like the Phoenix Wright manga, or Tenjo Tenge, and the first omnibus version of Negima. Suffice to say that it seems like this week’s grand theme for manga is fantasy and the unreal. Well, more unreal than what’s standard for manga, anyway. Continue reading

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La Princesse de la Terreur

A-a-and we’re back, manga fools! After last week’s dryspell, the robot gods of Japan have taken pity on us and showered us with a giant pile of books to sort through this time. Among them are some real powerhouse titles like Naruto Volume 51Bleach Volume 35One Piece Volume 57Vampire Knight Volume 12Ouran Volume 16Claymore Volume 18, and Bakuman Volume 5. Whew! That right there is already a cartload, and that’s only just the beginning! If I could write about all of them I probably would, but I’m pretty sure that every FP manga customer is going to buy at least three of these books, so there’s no need to remind you about things that you already know are awesome. Not this time around, anyway. Continue reading

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Supporting Local Artists: It’s Sacred

By Shannon H.

There is a small but strong wave of darkly satisfying manga this week. In particular, the long-awaited second volume of March Story, a lovely horror manhwa with the most elegant gothic drawings to be seen in a good while. Also worth noting is the newest Vampire Hunter D novel (Volume 16), which begins the first half of a tale in which D takes on a legion of vampiric alien creatures. Like the other D novels, this chilling addition to the saga has been translated with a care for good prose, and features spot illustrations by renowned Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano. If just the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Vampire Hunter D realm wasn’t enough of a draw, I can promise you that Amano’s distinctive blend of traditional and modern Japanese visual aesthetics is more than enough reason to check it out. Amano is, without a doubt, not just a significant contributor to manga and video games, but to the greater world of fine arts at large. Continue reading

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KANEDAAAAA! TESUOOOOO!

By Shannon H.

Despite all the great titles coming out this week, Black Butler Volume 5 and 20th Century Boys Volume 14 among them, there is only one thing to talk about at the moment, and that’s Katsuhiro Otomo’s infamous Akira. At long last, after almost ten years, all six volumes of the most epic manga ever have finally been reprinted by Kodansha, which is glorious mostly because it means I don’t have to lend out my Dark Horse copies from back in the day anymore.

I remember my first experience with Akira, back when you were lucky to find maybe one or two mangas at any given bookseller. (God, I feel so old.) I’d heard whispers of it on my obsessive, youthful quests to find out any and everything about this thing called ‘anime’, mostly because the movie is so iconic and hard to miss when looking into the history of Japanese animation. So when I stumbled upon the firstAkira graphic novel, I thought that I should look into it, even though I had yet to see the film and didn’t know much else about it than it was supposed to be super violent and awesome. I brought the book home and began to read: by the time the week was out, I had purchased all six books and was forcing myself to pace myself through the epicness so that it wouldn’t ever have to end. (Pro Tip: watch the film of Akira before you read the manga if at all possible; otherwise, the movie is just damn disappointing, and that is not something you should ever have to think about it, because it is a very important one to see.)

Then Akira vanished. Continue reading

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Going Too Far? Not A Chance!

Get on your gi and tie up that obi, because this week is chockabock full of more shonen manga than your fists could ever hope to keep up with. Whether you’re out for the spirit battles of Kekkaishi, made popular by its run on the late-night Adult Swim block, or or the sci-fi craziness of Ultimo, Stan Lee’s foray into the manga scene, there is plenty of new, action-packed, ridiculous fun for you to get your hands dirty with.

I mean, how could you find much more insanity than that of Excel Saga. Maybe some of you young, whippersnapper otaku won’t remember the silliness that infected the world of 90’s anime by way of Excel Saga, but that doesn’t mean you can’t jump on the bandwagon (some ten years later). Granted, a lot of the jokes and spoofs are contingent upon knowledge of the popular anime and manga of the day, but that doesn’t meant that there isn’t a lot of stuff that still rings true now, and it still doesn’t make it any less over the top and vaguely offensive. Even the basic premise of the series is a funny take on a familiar anime trope: Lord Il Palazzo is out to take over the world, starting with the city of Fukuoka, but he’s got a rather slow start; his super secret organization, Across, only has one member, and it’s none other than Excel, the clumsy, overzealous and besotted girl who’ll do anything for Il Palazzo because she loves him. But between a partner who’s got pretty much every disease known to mankind, a revolving door of bizarre side characters, and then constantly trying to brutally murder an innocent alien cat called Menchi, you can pretty much rest assured that Il Palazzo’s plan has a long way to go before it comes to fruition! Continue reading

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It’s A Rumic World, People!

by Shannon H.

The manga gods (aka Japan) have bestowed upon us some pretty badass titles this week. There is a new volume of the Neon Genesis Evangelion: Raising Shinji Ikari project to help satiate you until Evangelion 2.2 drops on DVD and Blu-Ray later this month, as well as another issue of Dogs, Detroit Metal City and Twin Spica, to name a few. There is even a new addition to Arata, which is the first foray into shonen by Fushigi Yuugi creator, Yuu Watase, and is a great spin on the fantastical shoujo she is already famous for.

But that’s not what we’re here to talk about today. Today, we are going to talk about the new volume of Rin-Ne, Rumiko Takahashi and why she’s awesome. If you have no idea what I’m on about, then you better keep reading, or you’ll lose your otaku card on the spot: I will be the one to personally take it from you. Continue reading

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It’s Like Manga Christmas!

A normal person would begin this little blurb with some triumphant fanfare for Volume 34 of Bleach, which is new this week. But I won’t waste your time: you already knew that; you’re already going to buy it, and nothing I say will change that. Onwards we go!
Instead we can spend our time talking about adorable kittens. Like the one that stars in the ridiculously cute manga, Chi’s Sweet Home, the fourth volume of which is popping out this week. It’s nice to see some of the more underground manga that isn’t drawn in the style we typically associate with anime coming out over here, a reason in and of itself to take a look at this series. Great for all ages, this manga isn’t much more complicated than the cute antics of a tiny, stray kitten, but it’s enjoyability is definitely found in such simplicity.

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Manga Drought 2011

I feel like I really ought to stop opening my mouth, because 2 weeks ago I was sounding so hopeful for a flush of new releases, and then last week we had only five. This week gets worse, there are only two books coming in, so I might as well cover them both. But first, can somebody please tell me if I jinxed this whole year? Because there have been so many minimalist release weeks, and we’re halfway through February already. Don’t get me wrong, the quality (for the most part) of the books coming seems to be much more discriminatory, and maaaaybe some of the reason is that in the last year or so, so many companies have gone out of business, so there just appear to be less books. I mean, we’ve seen Ice Kunion hit the road, we’ve said good-bye to Go Comi!, we haven’t heard hide nor hair from Net Comics, and CMX was flat out dissolved.

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