Sunday, June 21, 2009

Anime and Manga Review: Part 1

Well, it’s that time again. Since my last entry was a bit on the serious side, today I want to relax and talk about something that I enjoy: manga. Oh, and anime too. I honestly don’t remember too well when I first got into anime and manga. If memory serves, it started a very long time ago, back when Cartoon Network was good (read: it had Toonami) and when I actually had cable. Earlier on, we didn’t have cable, so I missed the whole DBZ phase and thus never got into it, or Sailor Moon for that matter. However, I did get to see this other show, called Ronin Warriors. It was a story about bishonen (“pretty boys”) youths who had magical armor with different powers who fought bad guys who also had magical armor with strange powers. Stuff happened, and they fought and caused things to blow up. It was a long time, so I don’t remember many details, but I just remember seeing this show and going “COOOOOOOOL”. However, I didn’t know it was anime back then. I got into things like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh and Digimon (one of my all time faves), like everyone else did. Fun times.

When eighth grade rolled around, there were other shows on Toonami, like Yu Yu Hakusho and one that would become my favorite anime series for a long time, Rurouni Kenshin. By this time, I had a vague idea that these shows I was watching came from Japan. Pretty soon I would learn that there is a common name for these “Japanese cartoons”, which is anime. This kid told me about Rurouni Kenshin, having already seen it in DR as a kid. Since it was the first time being shown in the US, and my first exposure to something like it, at least with a better memory than before, I didn’t know what to expect. He told me what the show was about and decided to give it a shot. Lo and behold, I fell in love with the show. At the same time, I had bought an American version of Shonen Jump, which is an anthology of manga that had some of the manga as its Japanese counterpart. Admittedly, I bought it only for the special edition Blue Eyes it had, but nevertheless, this became my first exposure to manga. I liked what I read, and decided to read more. And what better series to read than the one I was seeing on TV, RuroKen! It eventually took a long time to get all 28 volumes, since they released them gradually, but it was a wait worth waiting. To this day, RuroKen is one of my top 3 manga series, not only for the entertainment value, but because it actually helped me influence my current philosophy on life and its value. From then to now I have read several series, some obscure, some mainstream. The same with anime, where now I’m yelling out “ALL HAIL LELOUCH” and downloading anime soundtracks to listen to while I do homework.

Well, without further ado, let’s get into part one of my reviews. For now, I think I will talk about manga, and later on I’ll get into anime.

Rurouni Kenshin: Written by Nobuhiro Watsuki, this is the story of an assassin (hitokiri) who never kills. Strange, right? Well, in his earlier days, the main character Kenshin Himura was knows as the Hitokiri Battosai for his legendary skills in assassinations, with his sword style Hiten Misturugi. He fought all kinds of people, like the Shinsengumi. Eventually though, he met with tragedy, and made a vow to never kill again. Ten years later, he met Kaoru Kamiya who teaches her father’s sword style which emphasizes fighting without the intent to kill. Pretty soon, he meets other people like Yahiko, the son of a samurai who decides to learn from Kaoru, Sanosuke, a rebel who fights alongside Kenshin, and Megumi, a doctor who wants to help Kenshin after being rescured by him. Even more characters surround Kenshin, even as he struggles against himself and his past. Overall, I say it was a good story, with very likeable characters and especially interesting fights. What I liked about the fights is not only the creativeness, but also the expression of each fighter’s philosophy when fighting. The art is beautiful, I almost cannot believe that the chapters were drawn on a weekly basis. I really recommend this manga to everyone. It’s not only a fairly decently popular to this day, but it is one that deals with several things, like life, death, and atonement, in a very interesting matter. I thank this series to be one of the biggest influences to my current life philosophy (that and the Bible). If I was to rate this manga, I would give it a 9.5 out of 10. It’s that good.

666 Satan: Written by Seishi Kishimoto, brother to Masashi, who does Naruto. Similar in premise, but different in execution (I’ll talk about Naruto later). The story follows a young kid, called Jio Freed, who wants to take over the world. He meets this girl Ruby Crescent, who wants to become an archeology like her father. She is investigating O-Parts, which are tools that have magical powers, ranging from weak fires to destructive lasers and living organisms. In addition, there are 20 recipes, which are part of a secret weapon. There are ten recipes which correspond to the Kaballah, ten angels, and also 10 demon recipes that belong to the Reverse Kaballah. Jio is actually the strongest demon from the Reverse Kaballah, the 1i Satan, and he struggles with this existence while protecting Ruby with new friends like Ball, who becomes an O-Parts user, and Kirin, who becomes a teacher of sorts. The mysteries of O-Parts and Kaballah draw the group deeper into the secrets of the world. When I began this manga, it seemed like Naruto, since they share some similarities, like the main characters having a demon inside them. However, 666 Satan starts branching out in its own direction. I really enjoyed the whole angels and demons aspect of it, since I am a big fan of both (ask anyone, they know me well enough). The art was pretty good too, although not as great as RuroKen’s. Still, it was great, and the characters were all cool looking. The story is interesting, even if it get confusing at times, especially with the scanlations I read. If you can find a full set of good scans, then you should understand the story well enough. My rating for this manga will be 8-8.5. I recommend this one to people who either enjoyed Naruto, like angels/demons, or who like good and interesting fights with somewhat plausible explanations. However, I expect the name might be off-putting to some.

Eyeshield 21: This manga required the efforts of two people, Riichiro Inagaki as the writer, and Yusuke Murata as the illustrator. The main character, Sena Kobayakawa, a small kid who is always being bullied, is made into a running back by the leader of the football club, Yoichi and his assistant Kurita. Along with his childhood friend Mamori, Sena is pulled into the football world where his insanely fast speed and his new identity as “Eyeshield 21” begins leading the football team he joined to victory, along with more people who join the team. They all fight hard to win in the high school championship tourney, the Christmas Bowl. I really enjoyed this manga. At first, I didn’t think I would enjoy it this much, since it was about football and I’m not particularly a sports fan. However, I really got into it, and especially the crazy ways the Deimon Devil Bats win their games. The art is pretty good too. The story built up the teams well and the matches were full of suspense. I really enjoyed it and it actually got me interested in playing football, although I never get a chance to. Either way, it was a good manga to read, and certainly different from all the magical sword fighting I usually check out. Sports fans, definitely check it out. Some things might require a large suspension of disbelief, but other than that, it’s a fun read. I think it deserves about an 8.

Would you look at the time! Sorry that I could only look at 3 series, but next time, I promise more will be in store!

1 comment:

  1. its always interesting to see how people get into these series, especially since i've been watching chinese versions of them basically from birth.

    and yes, cartoon network did basically die.