Monthly Archives: November 2010

Mangaka of the Month~ Hatori Bisco

Bisco Hatori

(葉鳥ビスコ Hatori Bisuko)

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(Bisco Hatori is a pseudonym)

Place & Date of Birth: August 30, 1975, Saitama, Japan.

Gender: Female

Blood type: AB

Horoscope: Virgo

Bisco Hatori’s website

Bio: Bisco Hatori made her manga debut with Isshun kan no Romance (A Moment of Romance) in LaLa DX magazine. The comedy Ouran High School Host Club is her breakout hit. When she’s stuck picking characters’ names, she gets inspired by loud, upbeat music (her radio is set to NACK5 FM). She enjoys reading all kinds of manga, but she‘s especially fond of the sci-fi drama Please Save My Earth and Slam Dunk, a basketball classic. -Shojo Beat

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Nightmare Inspector: Yumekui Kenbun Vol 1

Title: Nightmare Inspector: Yumekui Kenbun/Nightmare Inspector/Yumekui Kenbun

Author: Shin Mashiba 

Artist: Shin Mashiba

Genre: Mystery, Supernatural, Historical, Shounen/shoujo?, Horror

Status: Completed

Summary: For those who suffer nightmares, help awaits at the Silver Star Tea House, where patrons can order much more than just Darjeeling. Hiruko is a special kind of private investigator. He’s a dream eater. And he’ll rid you of your darkest visions…for a price.

Lost Things

Dreams on the menu this volume: a restless soul, a murderous beauty, a woman afraid of falling apart, a grieving lover, an unforgiving son, a suicidal actress and a mysterious voice on the other end of a lonely young man’s phone.

-Viz Media

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I’ll begin by calling it ‘weird’ more than ‘morbid.’

Having read Yumekui Kenbun a few years ago, I recall happy and unique memories when I first read it. Now that I revisit Yumekui Kenbun a few years later, it seems that my response has sort of dumbed down.

Yumekui Kenbun is for the reader who loves stories like Natsume: Book of Friends and xxxHolic. There’s a very surreal and magical quality to it; the atmosphere it creates is like the weak smell of tea, whereas xxxHolic is hazy incense. Yumekui Kenbun has a very disjointed structure – each arc is seperated by the nightmare inspector’s client. I believe it’s one the weaker aspects because it doesn’t seem to have a very good flow – one can just re-arrange the each chapter and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. This may very well be intentional for a more defragmented and eerie effect but it isn’t coming through clearly. It becomes more like a mini obstacle in following the story.

The little mysteries themselves are reasonably simple and quite unique and they are really thought ‘out of the box.’ The stories are often eerie and depressing (it is a nightmare after all) and they are all secluded into their own little world with a little twist that is quite enticing. You can really tell that the mangaka injected a lot of effort into crafting these stories; it’s very surreal and dream-like. But it again, doesn’t seem to attain the full potential it deserves.

Yumekui Kenbun is the avant garde of manga. Its artwork is divine and otherworldly, and the background and surroundings have a very haunting effect which I say is the focal point of Yumekui Kenbun. I find it very inspiring – it encourages you to think beyond and it feels like you’ve been released into the unexplored. Though it is surreal and haunting, the drawing is actually quite defined and clean. It’s like a paradox, but I think that achieves this ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ quality. It’s as if it’s fading but it’s not, like Salvador Dali’s painting – ‘The Persistence of Memory.’

Yumekui Kenbun is a manga you dream of reading but is too hard to find. It’s quite reserved and I think it’s audience is very much restrained to the niche community. If you’re looking for a traditional & cultural themed manga like xxxHolic, you won’t find it very strong in Yumekui Kenbun – it invites you to a little dreams with odd pockets of mystery. It’s a little thrill, not a roller-coaster. Highly recommended.

Rating

Story: 4.3/5

Art: 3.9/5

Character: 3.3/5

Execution: 3.0/5

Overall rating & any additional comments: 3.6/5, it’s execution brought it down heavily.

-chungky

 


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A:Rating Re-working~

I don’t think all the overall ratings I’ve given are very consistent, so I changed a few. On another note, I’m going to get Monthly Asuka and Lala magazine when I get to London this weekend. I’m not sure whether Japan Centre carries Monthly Asuka but it’s worth  a shot! Releasing Yumekui Kenbun today even though it’s not been edited by arawr. Lol.

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One Shot for the Weekend – Sunny Spots Typhoon

Title: Empty Boy/Kara No Shounen: Sunny Spots Typhoon

Author: Fujitsuka Yuki 

Artist: Fujitsuka Yuki

Genre: Drama, Romance, School Life, Shoujo, Slice of Life

Summary: Kusakabe Kaoru is the prince of the school that all the girls want. But he has a secret that he doesn’t want any one: Since his mom’s death he’s been a house-husband and takes care of his three younger siblings and dad.

Collected in a tankōbon of one-shots by Fujitsuka Yuki.

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A very sweet and touching story that brings the reader’s attention to hardship, family values and ultimately to be appreciative of our lives. It flows with an easy-going and lighthearted pace which encourages the reader to smile in appreciation rather than be bogged down by its themes – themes that are often presented in a depressing manner in other similar mangas. I’ve read quite a few  stories that share the main plot of Sunny Spots Typhoon, but in this case it’s executed beautifully.

Overall Rating: 4.7/5

-chungky

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Backstage Prince Vol 1

Title: Backstage Prince

Author: Kanoko Sakurakoji

Artist: Kanoko Sakurakoji

Genre: Shoujo, School Life, Comedy, Romance, Slice of Life,

Status: Completed

Summary: Drawn into the exciting world of kabuki theatre, young Akari spends her time after school assisting the famous actor, Shonosuke Ichimura. In the real world, however, this prince of kabuki is actually a high school cutie named Ryusei. The pair’s relationship gets off on the wrong foot but eventually, with the help of a cat known as Mr. Ken, the two teenagers fall in love. – Shojo Beat

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What might’ve caught your interest here is the use of the theatre art of Kabuki into this manga. If it is, I’m sorry to disappoint –  although the story revolves around it, it concentrates more on the romance rather than feeding the reader cool facts about Kabuki. There’s only pretty drawings of people ‘performing’ and really not much else. I can’t even bring myself to say it had bits and pieces of information – it’s more like crumbs. Even then, they mostly occupy the extra pages rather than being incooperated into the story. If you want a more theatrical devoured shoujo, try Orange Chocolate instead.

The story will pretty much fulfill any male tsundere lover’s dream – this hero would probably die for his maiden anytime and anywhere, on the spot. Romance is in control 99.9% of the time, and I find it adorable and cute rather than sweet or something steamy.

I knew beforehand that Backstage Prince was a short story collected into two tankōbons, so I felt like the story was a bit hasty and rushed at times – in fact it feels rather like a one-shot. When relationships are rushed in a story, the outcome can often be quite cheesy rather than romantic. Backstage Prince does show minor evidence of this. It’s similar to this scenario:

Boy & girl meet in page 1 and on page 10, boy says: ‘You’re the only one who can make me smile.’

I need some progression! It’s not exactly a big issue, everything does flow; it just flows too quickly.

The heroine of the story is distinguished as an ‘ordinary girl,’ with not much self-esteem(very common, but at least this one has some guts). I’m sure plenty of girls out there would read Backstage Prince and relate it to themselves(which is why I think this type of character is popular). Who doesn’t want their own hawt protective tsundere who buys them Anna Sui jewelry?

The character body proportions are really good and they resemble humans – they’re not changed, or what I’d like to call ‘manga-fied.‘ The ‘attractive’ people are really drawn well and the costumes are also really pretty. The art is somewhat unique, I can recognised her more popular work, Black Bird. However, there are quite a few mangaka’s work that carry that distinct style as well.

It’s a pretty different approach to a school life/slice of life shoujo manga; the guy’s a Kabuki celebrity besides what we’d usually expect as just ‘that popular boy’ in high school. Most of the story is pretty much confirming and testing their love, so give this story a go when you’re feeling down and just need to regain hope in love – or maybe even to just make yourself go ‘u-waaaah,’.

Rating

Story: 3.3/5

Art: 3.5/5

Character: 3.2/5

Execution: 3.2/5

Overall rating & any additional comments: 3.4/5

-chungky

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Lala Special Issue 12/2010~

I just got the December 2010 issue of Lala Special. So happy! I bought it from the Japan Centre in Regent Street, London which costed me £11.70. I couldn’t get it on the Japan Centre website since it wasn’t the normal Lala monthly magazine and the shipping fee from Amazon.jp was just crazy! The Lala Special issue differs from the parent by releasing Lala monthly’s side stories as well as a variety of one-shots from mangakas.This issue contains Ouran’s special chapter as well as a selection of previous chapters, there’s also a announcement that there will be a special one-shot sequel at the beginning of next year!(there are many other series as well, vampire knight etc. not just ouran if you’re wondering)

There’s also a set of Ouran bookmarks!!! There are 8 bookmarks as you can see:

Now I have an extra reason to look forward to reading my books.

I mainly bought this month’s special issue because of the Ouran commemoration, it’s so sad to say good-bye after  7  wonderful years. I’ll definitely cherish Ouran forever(T_T), thank you Bisco Hatori.

-chungky

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Record of the Fallen Vampire Vol 1

Title: Record of the Fallen Vampire

Author: Kyo Shirodaira

Artist: Yuri Kimura

Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-fi, Shounen, Fantasy, Super-Natural, Tragedy

Status: Completed

Summary: Thousands of years ago, Vampire King Akabara “Red Rose” Strauss lost both his kingdom and his queen. Since humans were unable to kill the queen, they sealed her away, erecting thousands of fake seals so that the king would never find her true location. Despite being pursued by relentless dhampires, Akabara continues to search for his queen to this day…

Akabara’s quest takes a sinister turn when an entity called the Black Swan appears. The Black Swan inhabits the body of a young human girl every 50 years, giving her the power to destroy the Vampire King and his queen. With each incarnation the Black Swan grows stronger–will the 49th Black Swan mean the end of Akabara? -Viz Media

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First of all, I’d like to dedicate my love for this title – Record of the Fallen Vampire – clearly not your every-day vampire manga. So forget Twilight or Vampire Knight for this short moment because this is unlike any vampire themed story out there. If I had one word to describe this story, it would be epic. Not the ‘that’s epic dude/man/guys,‘ sort of epic, but more like an important-piece-of-history kind of epic. If you’re still not quite sure what I mean, the bottom line is that this isn’t a story for everybody – can anyone read poetry and expect to get it right away?

Record has a very serious tone with some gentle dark aspects, but I wouldn’t call it scary or gloomy. It bears similar traits to a history book with myths and legends; the author really went out to do what he decided to do – a record. Some may find it confusing since the first volume transports the reader into three periods of time. Another big stray in the story is the fact that the protagonist is a tragic hero – he isn’t a bad man, but he isn’t completely innocent. Definitely not your typical head-strong chatty hero with a hidden lion heart. There’s no blood-sucking involved – the vampires are presented as just being stronger human beings who can perform magic and age much slower, and are faced with discrimination.

The art is nice – lots of fine details especially with coloured work, but I thinkcompared to other vampire themed mangas out there it’ll probably be just above average. Mangakas seem to love drawing elaborate, exaggerated and detailed art for super-natural beings like fairies, vampires, magicians etc. The action scenes can be a little confusing(on the other hand manga action scenes always seem to confuse me).

Record presents a vampires themed stories in a very different light – I even dare say a whole new dimension. A tragic hero hunted by a never-ending curse – how did he end up this way? Lots of depth and complexity, story-telling and some fighting…all you have to do is read the records to find out.

Rating:

Plot: 4.1/5

Art: 3.5/5

Character: 4/5

Execution: 3.8/5

Overall rating & any additional comments: 3.9/5

-chungky

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