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
By Shannon H
Death and pestilence kept me from the Weekly Planet last week, and it would figure that on such an occasion, the robot manga gods of Japan delivered a book I’ve been clawing after for no less than half a year. That book would be Dark Horse’s new printing of the first Magic Knight Rayearth story arc, another CLAMP title that had been abandoned by lame-o Tokyopop, forgotten and left to rot in the archives of our memories for almost eight years now. I had nearly lost my mind when I first found out that Dark Horse seemed to be on this CLAMP kick, but the Magic Knight book kept falling behind schedule, and it was making me a very sad panda. It’s definitely one of my favourite CLAMP titles, not only because it was the first one I ever read, or because it changed the way I looked at comics in general, but because it’s just so damn awesome as well! Continue reading
Manga releases are finally coming in in waves instead of drips, and there’ s plenty interesting to read, but there’s also plenty to watch. Let’s dip into anime news this week since I rarely get to talk about DVDs (partially because, for a long time now, there hasn’t been much to talk about).
January saw the release of the first Black Butler DVD(!) set, and that’s only the beginning. Sentai Film works is starting to pick up the pace with their releases, so Funimation isn’t the only DVD publisher on the market. Not that I’m putting anyone down. Funimation recently put out the first part of The Sacred Blacksmith where a girl named Cecily makes a terrible knight as she doesn’t like violence and usually ends up as the damsel in distress- that is until she meets Luke, a blacksmith who forges magical weapons of awesome strength for her. And just in time too, since someone is unleashing demons upon the land.
Sentai Filmworks also put out the complete Koihime Muso in January. In this series, a girl named Aisha takes the name Kan’u and vows vengeance on the bandits who destroyed her family and village. She treks across the ruins of a nation living by the steel of her sword and her will becoming a beacon to other women as a force for change, ultimately battling the face of evil for the fate of a nation and becoming the soul of a new people. Pretty damn epic, and maybe a little yuri.
- Koihime Muso
There’s actually quite a few other new things to check out, but if I blabbed it all here, you’d never have a chance to get out of the house and explore, now would you? Til next time folks.
By Mat K.
The long drought is over. And hopefully the beginning of February will prove as fruitful in manga releases as the end of January, but we have quite a few bits of awesome in this week regardless. After the last 3 weeks of single digit releases, this time we’ve got a couple dozen showing up.
The first major “want” this week is the series premier of High School Of The Dead written by Daisuke Sato, and drawn by Shouji Sato. I know people have been catching wind of it online and bugging out over not being able to fulfill their needs via American publishers, mostly I know because the otakus have been raining down on me. In case you’re unfamiliar with the series it has hot girls and zombies in high school. A mysterious illness is spreading rapidly through the halls of Fujimi High School. In a matter of hours the campus is transformed from a place of learning into a hive of nightmares as the infected students collapse and are reborn as flesh-hungry zombies. Only a handful of students escape the initial outbreak, but how long can Takashi and the other students hope to survive when the whole school, and maybe the whole town, is out for their blood?
Next up on the list of awesome, (and believe me I struggled internally about which to write up first), is Black Butler Volume 4. Honestly, the popularity and speed in which the manga are selling are rivaling the initial Death Note obsession, though I think mostly with the female population. In book 4 Ciel, Sebastian, and Lau investigate a case where British citizens returning from India are attacked, stripped, and hung upside down outside Indian pubs in London. They are helped by the Indian Prince Soma and his butler Agni who are searching for Soma’s servant Meena. Although Agni is human, he is on par with Sebastian’s fighting skills. Their quest will take them into the home of Lord West and pit them against the villain in a curry contest. Continue reading
by Shannon Hochman
Imagine for a second that your entire family was murdered and you were presented with a chance to seek revenge. Would you do it no matter what the cost? Would you pay with your soul? Ciel Phantomhive did, and for the price, he’s gotten top-notch service. Mysteriously reappearing after the fire that took his parents, Ciel takes his place as the new Earl Phantomhive, a butler named Sebastian dressed all in black at his side.
So is the premise of Yana Toboso’s manga Kuroshitsuji, or simply Black Butler for those who are not familiar with the Japanese title. The story chases Ciel and Sebastian as they take Victorian England by storm, tearing through the underworld that soils the Queen’s empire in search of the ones that destroyed Ciel’s childhood. Playing off his demonic talents as the expected duties of a good butler, Sebastian gives Ciel the upper hand in this quest as they combat everything from Jack the Ripper to Ciel’s obnoxious fiancée, Elizabeth.
The appeal in Black Butler obviously lies mainly in the Faustian relationship between Ciel and Sebastian, who both have their own dark motivations that tie them together. But more so than that, the dark, intriguining story is balanced incredibly well, easily transitioning from flesh-ripping action for a well-placed laugh or a sentimental moment, keeping this manga in the nebulous realm that hovers between shonen and shoujo. The artwork is also a treat, and though it is not quite as tight as your typical shonen title, it hits the mark when it needs to. Toboso does not take any shortcuts when it comes to drawing action scenes and doesn’t shy away from backgrounds or detail. If anything, sign on for the incredible Victorian era wardrobe, which is authentic enough to place the period, but modernized with a flair of Loli-Goth that is rather fitting for some of the story’s darker tones and the stuff of cosplay fantasies.
The manga is now being printed by Yen Press and definitely worth checking out, even if you have already seen both seasons of the anime (the first of which is being released in North America in early 2011). The manga’s story goes in a completely different direction than that of the anime, much like Full Metal Alchemist. Though already popular on the convention circuit, it’s clear that Black Butler is on the cusp of exploding onto the mainstream scene, so be sure to jump onto the bandwagon quickly so that you can say you were there before it was cool.
On Saturday, Decmber 11th, Forbidden Planet, in conjunction with FUNimation, will be presenting a FREE screening of episodes 1-6 of the Black Butler anime at the SoHo Gallery for Digital Art here in NYC (138 Sullivan St. between Houston and Prince).
Pre-registration for the Cosplay contest is recommended. On site registration for the event is from 1:00-1:20. To pre-register please e-mail the following information to this address : Name, Email, Age and Costume. All entries (pre and on site) must provide this information. Entry into the contest is free.
Seating is limited to a first come first serve basis. Once the gallery is at capacity admittance will be cut off. Seating begins at 1pm, screening begins at 1:30pm and will last to 5pm with a cosplay contest intermission.
By Mat K.
Oh yeah, let the dark, eerie, and gothic fans herald their day for it is here. No I’m not just being dismal, but it is a little funny how one of the dark titles coming in this week is Black Butler Volume 2 by Yana Toboso, which just saw the release of Volume 1 last week. It is almost as if it was rushed just to meet with the other eerie series coming in this week. In this issue Jack the Ripper is on the loose and Queen Victoria demands Ciel Phantomhive and his superhuman(ish) butler the head up the investigation. Of course what will happen when the investigation takes a surprising turn?
Next on the list of dark expectations is the second volume of Pandora Hearts by Jun Mochizuki, and can I just say: Finally! I first caught eye of this in Japanese at a Japanese book store and loved the artwork, and was thrilled when some months later I discovered it would become printed in English, so I could finally find out whats going on. And the first volume came out forever ago. I’ve been dying here waiting, after all, it was a bit of a cliff-hanger. Oz may have survived his stint in the Abyss, but he is no closer to discovering the truth behind the “sin” for which he was condemned. On the advice of a mysterious man who appeared to him when Alice regained the first of her memories, Oz, along with Alice and Pandora’s Raven, embarks on a mission to investigate the site of his disastrous coming-of-age ceremony in search of answers. Continue reading
By Mat K.
There are quite a few books this week, and also a lot of premiers, so let’s jump right into it. Finally, after you have all waited with bated breath, here comes the first volume of Black Butler by Yana Toboso (many of you might still know it as Kuroshitsuji). For anyone not familiar with it, here’s a synopsis: Just a stone’s throw from London stands the manor house of the illustrious Phantomhive earldom. Earl Phantomhive is a giant in the world of commerce, Queen Victoria’s faithful servant, and a 12-year old boy. Fortunately, his loyal butler Sebastian stands by his side, ready to carry out the young master’s wishes. Whether Sebastian is called to save a dinner party gone awry or probe the dark secrets of London’s underbelly, there is practically nothing Sebastian cannot do. One might even say Sebastian is too good to be true, or at least, too good to be human!
Next on the list of stuff worth reading is Ratman Volume 1 by INUI Sekihiko. In Ratman Shuto Katsuragi is a shrimp that can’t catch a break. He wants to emulate his favorite super hero, Mr. Thunder, but instead he gets teased all the time for his height and he can’t win any fights. The one thing that keeps him going is his love for super heroes, which he shares with his classmate Mirea Mizushima. Little does he know that she’s about to make his dreams come true by tricking him into participating in her mother’s experiments. Continue reading