Category Archives: Manga Reviews

One-Shot for the Weekend – Mario (マリオ)

MarioMario (マリオ)

Manga-ka: Kishimoto Masashi

Genre: Action, Drama, Shounen, Romance

Mario is a half-Japanese, half Italian mercenary  who prioritizes money above everything else. He gets assigned to work together with Saori, another hitman who hates men and refuses to talk to them.

Published as a one-shot in 2013 with Jump SQ .

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Mario 1It’s pretty much the end of the weekend so it’s coming pretty late, but here’s our recommended one-shot! I’m currently undergoing a Naruto manga marathon, so I decided to choose one of Kishimoto Masashi’s one-shots – Mario. He’s mentioned it before in one of those author rants’ pages in Naruto, where he expressed that Mario was probably one of the best stories that he’d ever come up with. So with no further ado, I jumped into it the moment I saw the one-shot.

Mario 3

I didn’t know what to expect from it at all before reading Mario – didn’t read the summary or anything. If I unattached it from its Jump SQ label and the fact that the manga-ka is one of the most successful shounen manga-ka to date, I would honestly think it’s a seinen one-shot. There’s a more subdued feel to it compared to the usual in-yo-face shounen action.

Mario gives off a very jazzy feel throughout the whole one-shot. From the yakuza/mafia setting, the black suits and black dresses, the character interactions and just everything overall, there is this general feeling of coolness. The kind of story that depicts a romanticized version of the mafia. This whole ‘jazzy’ feel is really what gives of the seinen feel, and in fact is a bit of a weakness for those who are more used to the ba da bing ba da BOOM aspect of shounen Mario 2manga. There’s no sudden crescendo of action or ground breaking-ly embarrassing romantic confessions – everything seems pretty subdued with a mature over tone.

In other words, it can seem a bit dull.

Not saying that it’s bad or anything, but Mario really seems more like a story that can’t develop in a one-shot since it’s the type that would usually build up on the relationships between the characters; and these relationships can’t be addressed and comprehended in a one-shot. Still, quite an okay read for a jazzy weekend.

Rating: 3.4/5.0

Mario 5

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One-Shot for the Weekend – Natsu Yasumi Zero Zero Nichime

Natsu Yasumi Zero Zero Nichime (夏休みゼロゼロ日目) | 00 Day of Summer Holiday

00day4

Mang-aka: Akizuki Sorata

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

Sometimes love visits you in the most simple yet unexpected moments in our daily lives. Where love can come in even a form of a pop of a bubble, to give us the courage we need to take our relationships.

Originally published in Aoi Lala by Hakusensha.

——

00day5

You’d think that because it’s winter, we’d toss out a winter themed recommendation. Or perhaps choosing a summer one-shot for the winter is way predictable? After a few weeks of adjusting my life in the States again, I hope to start blogging more consistently. Akizuki Sorata has been one of my favourite manga artists of all time, it’s strange that I’ve never really pushed her work as strong as I may have done but I do have my own reasons and frankly, she doesn’t need that extra publicity anyway. Her work can pretty much do all the talking and I hope to cover her most popular work in the near future. I chose a summer one-shot because I really need a bit of warming up, like literally. The temperature just plummeted 20 degrees and my sister has been sending me photos of London being thrashed by snow. I dislike snow unfortunately. I’ve also been suffering silently in my room freezing and I’ve just bought a portable heater to make myself feel like a normal human being.

00day6

But weather-y rants aside. This is a breath of fresh air for those who need some escape from the wintry months both physically and emotionally. In some ways summer is about being carefree – do whatever you want and be adventurous and in this instance, in love. Summer love is a strange little thing, it’s always associated with pain and everything seems to fall apart after the sweaty season. But yet, most of us are willing to go through it again, whether we be hurt or not. I believe in taking the plunge. This one-shot is fresh, the scenario is new, but with the nostalgic summer spirit of bubbles cascading in the air. The characters are normal, familiar, they aren’t blown up just like slice of life is suppose to be. And with Akizuki Sorata at the helm, she never fails to add her poetic touch and remind us that reality is often just as sweet as the imagination. So here’s my current winter manifesto, take the harsh winter with a summer heart. Or for some, embrace winter with a mind full of snow(quoting Wallace Stevens).

00day7

Rating: 4.5/5

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This Genius’s Manga To Highlight: Doujin Work

 Hello Manga Weekend readers–my name is Justin. I happen to be a writer/co-founder of Organization Anti-Social Geniuses, and I’m thankful that Chungky has allowed me to write about a manga series that I’m guessing 90% of the manga world does not know about–mainly because I would have never discovered it had I not wasted my time last year at AnimeNext’s Manga Library. Back then I was looking to consume all sorts of manga that had interesting title names (or find works of anime series–like Record of Lodoss War)–naturally, Doujin Work happened to be on the list. Doujin of course is widely known in Japan, and while there are a number of underground series that are tame, most Doujinshi mostly involve a guy “getting” the girl–or an alien “getting” a girl. Yeah, you should be getting the picture about Doujin now! So of course, I decided I would read it. Continue reading

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One-Shot for the Weekend – Natsu no Kakera

Natsu no Kakera (夏のかけら) / Fragments of Summer

Manga-ka: Amano Shinobu

Genre: Romance, Shoujo, Slice of Life

“When Miyuki goes off to the countryside to visit her grandfather in the hospital, she accidentally enters Madoka’s room instead. Although she finds him rude at first, they end up seeing each other every day and get closer. But Miyuki only has a limited amount of time in the countryside. As the summer passes, how will things turn out for them?”

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Hohoho. Just when you guys thought that we’ve gotten lazy or forgotten all about our frequent one-shot recommendation you thought Wrong (with a capital W). I’ve postponed our one-shot feature until today because this weekend is extra special(plus we were trying to fix a lot of things). For the remainder of this weekend, we recommend a one-shot by Amano Shinobu that is released by our Weekend Betsuender project. (Well a part of the world has already entered Monday so make Monday part of your weekend ^_^;)

We hope you enjoy this one-shot as much as the team has(I’m speaking for them here but if they tell you other-wise don’t listen to them). I suppose this post counts as some sort of shameless promotion but oh well.

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There were two short stories by Amano Shinobu in this year’s issues of Monthly Lala and Lala DX and when I went through them, I fell in love with the cute artwork and rather adorable story-lines. I went to find out more about Amano Shinobu’s work and I stumbled upon her latest tankoubon release(2010) which is a collection of five short stories that were published throughout Amano Shinobu’s career in Lala Special magazine. There weren’t any English reviews which is totally understandable so I had to re-enter my search in Japanese and the blogs that I visited gave favourable comment. So, I took the plunge and bought my copy online and I wasn’t disappointed.

Natsu no Kakera is the first one-shot in the collected tankoubon and it’s the type of story you might end up reading unintentionally since it’s a bittersweet story. The story follows the relationship between two people and the limited time they have.  While the initial stages is cute and simple, sometimes things do not always happen the way we want it to be and the contrast between the plotline and it’s simple nature remind us that we should appreciate the things that we often take for granted.

I suppose in many ways the story can be a blessing for the characters. To enter one’s life and grant them some happiness, even though you’ll leave their life one time or another, I think that’s beautiful. I hope you’ll enjoy this one-shot and I hope that we were able to convey that message that Amano Shinobu-sensei has illustrated.

Much Love to everyone. Thank you for supporting us.

We won’t include a rating for this one-shot.

Click here to by re-directed to the Natsu no Kakera one-shot on the Betsuender site.

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Toradora Vol 1

Toradora!

Author: Yuyuko Takemiya

Artist: Zekkyo

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, School Life, Shounen

Status: Ongoing

Ryuji Takasu has learned the hard way that appearances can be deceiving. Despite his inwardly sweet personality, his unintentionally sharp gaze and aggressive features give him the air of a delinquent thug, putting his chances at making friends, let alone a girlfriend, next to zero.

It’s Ryuji’s first day in junior high school and it seems as if things are looking up. He gets to sit in between his only friend, Yusaku, and, more importantly, the girl he’s secretly crushing on, Minori Kushieda. But just when he thinks the stars are aligned in his favor, he unwittingly crosses the most feared girl in school, Taiga Aisaku, making her onto his arch enemy. To top it off, Taiga has moved in right next door to Ryuji and happens to be Minori’s best friend! Can this school year possibly get any worse?!

Seven Seas

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I watched Toradora! a few days back and it seems inevitable for me to compare both form’s versions. In fact, I could basically call my little review here a comparison between both! Anyways, Toradora –  it’s about time I read a shounen manga which has love as it’s main theme. Either there aren’t that many or I just didn’t try looking for one, the latter being the more accurate. Well, I’ve never read that much shounen manga to begin with anyway.

The story follows two very misunderstood characters with very self-contradicting names and how they try win their crushes’ hearts. We also see them trying to battle their community imposed social positions within the school-o-sphere which is really quite entertaining! The overall plot-line follows a rather predictable(or if you’d like to use a fancier word, ‘classic’) plot-line and is what I call ‘the shounen way of getting couples together.’ By leading the winning pair into the unoptional hilarious scenarios which undoubtably, always work. Continue reading

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One-Shot of the Weekend: Love-Stalking – End of Summer

*WARNING MATURE CONTENT*

Title: Love Stalking: End of Summer

Author: Hazuki Kanae

Artist: Hazuki Kanae

Genres: Josei, Mature, One Shot, Romance, Smut

Yuki feels stifled in her own home because her parents nag her to study, study, study. When she finally goes off the deep end and sees her parent’s faces as textbooks, you know she just has to get away, right? So at the beginning of summer she leaves a note promising she’ll be back by the next school term, and ends up living with one of her classmates and his older brother for a couple of weeks.

Collected in a tankōbon entitled Love Stalking! The one-shots were serialised in Muteki Renai S*girl magazine.

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Arawr was suppose to post this weekend’s one-shot but the task was inevitably handed to me since she was caught up in some sort of mid-life crisis.

Anyway, let me establish this one-shot contains smut.

There are graphic scenes.

If you’re under 18 please been warned, if you’re scared of graphic nature you’ve been warned too. Please do not skip the mature rating if you know you’re uncomfortable with it.

If you can tolerate mature content but you’ve had bad experiences with them I suggest you read Kazuki Hanae-sensei’s work, she executes her stories really well. Smut manga can have awesome stories too. I don’t think this particular one-shot is ground-breaking but I think it’s still a good one.

I actually went through a couple of opinions about this particular one-shot and it appears it isn’t exactly the favourite among the 4 short stories collected in the tankoubon. Let me tell you why I enjoyed it.

I enjoyed how the storyline isn’t all that predictable(a very subjective word but I’ll still use it^^) and it strayed away from the more mainstream plotlines; I really liked this barely there love triangle. The reader is actually left with some nice ambiguity in the end and I welcome that at all times if it’s done properly and it was.

The heroine went through some obscene acts with a not so likable male character which I didn’t find very appealing. What I did like though, was that she didn’t regret her actions and she stayed true to herself. This isn’t exactly the type of story where you would enjoy having your children aspiring to but I guess that’s smut for you. I personally wouldn’t like the thought of my children getting it on with some random stranger they’ve just met.

I hate to be a little party pooper but I have to add that under-age s** is quite prevalent in our society and as much as I try to avoid that fact I know it’s true and because it’s true it strengthens the manga’s realism. Smut manga always requires a great deal of realism in the story to be a success in my opinion and I think this piece of work achieves that. This is josei and if you do not know what josei is, it’s a genre targeted towards more mature women hence less innocence. I’m not that interested in smut for the sake of fan service.

Last comment:

If you haven’t been following her current ongoing work Suki tte Ii Na Yo/Say “I love you,”(which is also contains smut) you have frankly been missing out! I’d be willing to call it a perfect example of a high school romance manga, it really is that good; you can read more about my opinions here if you’re interested^^.

Rating: 3.7/5

*if there are any errors i’ll fix them later. i need some sleep.

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Kamisama Kiss Vol 1

Title: Kamisama Kiss/Kamisama Hajimemashita

Author: Julietta Suzuki

Artist: Julietta Suzuki

Genre: Comedy Fantasy Romance School Life Shoujo Supernatural

Status: Ongoing

Nanami Momozono is alone and homeless after her dad skips town to evade his gambling debts and the debt collectors kick her out of her apartment. So when a man she’s just saved from a dog offers her his home, she jumps at the opportunity. But it turns out that his place is a shrine, and Nanami has unwittingly taken over his job as a local deity!

– ShojoBeat

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Read the sypnosis? Reminds you of something? Yes, there are certainly quite a number of plots that begin with the protagonist been kicked out of their homes and parents running away – how very convenient to start off an adventure. A fantastic formula I say; you get rid of the parents and the relatives, then you’ll have nothing to bind the main character down. They’re free to do whatever they want – such as living with a youkai. Now that’s pretty normal. Continue reading

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