Forsaken Tempest by Saizaki Ren (art) and Shirodaira Kyou (story)
Japanese title: 絶園のテンペスト or Zetsuen no Tempest
Published in Square Enix’s Shounen GanGan. Unlicensed and ongoing.
Mahiro has been missing from his hometown for a month, searching for his sister’s murderer. His best friend Yoshino stays behind and is uninvolved with the search until a mysterious woman appears and asks him where Mahiro is, in connection with an epidemic and quarantines. Then Mahiro himself enters the fray and takes Yoshino away from his questioning, revealing that he is working with the sorceress Hakaze Kusaribe, who is currently trapped on a desert island and communicating via an enchanted doll. Mahiro’s helping her bring down a deviant group of sorcerers in exchange for help finding his sister’s murderer, a quest which Yoshino finds himself entangled in.
I found this manga sitting in my downloads folder, I’m pretty sure it’s been there for at least a year… I remember reading the first chapter and not being impressed with it at the time. The art was great and served the story well but it didn’t have any wow moments, the story just didn’t seem interesting. That was my first impression again when I reread it a day or two ago, but there was more scanlated, so I thought I’d give the next few chapters a try.
That’s how I found out this manga is fucking great.
Even though it’s a shounen manga with some action, the real action is found with the two primary characters, Mahiro and Yoshino, and their relationships with Mahiro’s murdered sister, Aika. Mahiro’s fucked up but single minded and determined; Yoshino is clever and devious but there still seems to be something hidden from the audience about him. In that sense it doesn’t read like a typical shounen does. Neither primary character really has powers in any technical sense of the word: they both use various talismans loaned out from Hakaze, but the manga implies that they cannot learn magic themselves. Really, it’s a battle of wits. If you like any sort of story with a psychological bent, try this manga. It’s not that far in yet (only 11 chapters translated into english) but it shows great potential as a highly intelligent shounen.
Mediafire: Chapter 1 (scanlated by imangascans)
Livingstone by Kataoka Jinsei (art) and Maekawa Tomohiro (story)
Published in Kodansha’s Weekly Morning. Unlicensed and ongoing.
So I appear to have picked up a couple of new followers but I haven’t actually gotten around to writing any new shit for this. MY BAD. My life has gotten a little frustrating/busy lately.
You know that story where the scientist weighs a person as they’re dying and finds that they lose 21 grams of mass as they pass away, and that mass is their soul? The primary concept of Livingstone is that the physical manifestation of those souls is, well, a stone. The livingstone, obvs. Sakurai and Amano are a tag team pair who help to deal with messed up souls—livingstones that have broken because of various sorts of trauma. And they help “save” people whose lives have been fucked up by these stones.
With Kataoka (who also works on Deadman Wonderland) on art, it has a distinctive look that adds to the dark feel of the story, but the art doesn’t detract from the lighter moments. It also imbues the story with a fantastical feeling which suits the idea of the livingstone itself and the abilities of the primary characters.
Livingstone is one of those manga that I wish was translated further. There are five chapters translated into English and the manga shows ridiculous fucking potential, but finding raw scans isn’t always easy. (Shounen series are usually pretty easy to find raws of, but seinen? Unless it’s popular nowadays it’s difficult…) Kodansha is partnered with Del Rey’s manga division, so it may be licensed and distributed in the United States at some point, but it’s been serialized for about two years with no news… it might not happen anytime soon.
Mediafire: Chapter 1 (scanlated by DBR Scans)
Dolls by Naked Ape
Published in Ichijinsha’s Monthly Comic Zero-Sum. Ongoing and unlicensed.
This was the josei I mentioned posting when I posted Blue Exorcist. I just reread all the translations of this manga, and now I feel better about writing this review and recommending it.
In the future, violent crime is way up. The government has responded to this by beginning to hold trials in the absence of a suspect, and allowing executions of these suspects. A new military force was created to investigate these criminals and carry out their executions, the Tokkei (short for something ridiculously long in Japanese), often referred to as the Dolls by the general public. The series mostly follows the missions of the first squad, which has just picked up a new member in top student Usaki Toudou.
I enjoy this series. Despite having almost 6 volumes scanlated, it hasn’t totally hit an overall plot yet, and still seems to mostly cover everyday (if slightly odd) missions of the Tokkei. That’s not really a detriment though, at least not yet. It doesn’t go as in depth to the political machinations within and behind the organization as I would like, but it’s not as if those subjects are untouched, and when/if the overall plot kicks in, I imagine that these issues will be examined in more detail. The art is definitely feminine (long hair fighting with the piano wire uses male pronouns) and one of the Tokkei’s non-work friendships has definite shounen-ai overtones. The action scenes are well rendered and most pages use a minimum of toning, which is something I personally like to see in manga art. Really, this shit is definitely worth a read.
Mediafire: Chapter 1 (scanlated by Entropy, inactive group)
Jabberwocky by Hisa Masato
Serialized in Kodansha’s Magazine Z. Unlicensed and complete.
This series has something to do with Russians and dinosaurs, and that’s what I’m leaving it at. Mangaupdates’ summary is similarly terrible, so I think that says something about the plot.
I really wanted to like it based on the artwork, but I barely made it through the first volume. For featuring dinosaurs, Russians, and assassins, it’s kind of… boring. It’s still worth flipping through it for the art, although I personally find that the style obscures the action scenes (and when you have Russians and dinosaurs around, you have action). The art would’ve been PERFECT for a very talky seinen sort of dealio, but for this it’s too much style and not enough substance. Also, it is surprisingly difficult to suspend my disbelief in order to read this, as in, I was unable to. Maybe part of it is how the dinosaurs are rendered: they’re bipedal and not inhuman enough. It just doesn’t feel like there’s as much of a divide as there should be between humans and dinosaurs in this series, I guess.
Who knows though, maybe someone else will love this shit.
Mediafire: Chapter 1 (scanlated by Gantz_Waitingroom)
What Did You Eat Yesterday? by Yoshinaga Fumi
Japanese title: 昨日何食べた？
Published in Kodansha’s Weekly Morning. Unlicensed and ongoing.
Kakei Shirou and Yabuki Kenji are ~lovers living together in Tokyo. Kakei, a lawyer by day, cooks fuckin’ gourmet dinners for himself and Yabuki, a hairdresser. They eat. They talk to people from their everyday life. That’s about it. They’re pretty normal. It’s hella slice of life.
This is shounen-ai for a seinen audience, so don’t expect heavy romance. Each chapter revolves around a meal or a dish, and it’s described over a few pages. Often some of the interactions that either Kakei or Yabuki have will frame the food prep leading into the meal (or vice versa), such as discussing Kakei’s favorite baker over toast and jam. It’s not really a story meant for queer audiences per say, nor is it really meant for fujoshi/yaoi-loving fangirls. It’s not a totally peachy-keen depiction of gay life, but it isn’t highly nuanced and it’s frequently happy and harmonious. Essentially it’s a fucking adorable slice of life manga. If there’s any one demographic it’s aiming for it’s for people who love fooooooooood.
Also, apparently it’s by the same manga-ka as Ooku: The Inner Chambers, winner of a whole bunch of prizes and shit. The more accurate precursor to this series is probably her series Antique Bakery. And yet, this is the only manga I’ve read by Yoshinaga.
Mediafire: Chapter 1 (scanlated by Entropy, inactive group)
Blue Exorcist by Katou Kazue
Japanese title: Ao no Exorcist/青の祓魔師
Published in Shueisha’s Jump SQ. Licensed by Viz and ongoing.
I was going to post this josei manga I really like just so it wasn’t two shounen series in a row, but then I got too lazy to reread it and just figure I’d ramble on about one of my current faves. I’ve been following this shit since… chapter 4, I think? It’s now 24 chapters in, and it runs in a monthly magazine, so it’s been around a little while.
Rin and Yukio Okumura are twins being raised by a priest dude in a monastery. Rin’s the fuck up who’s looking for a job straight out of middle school, Yukio’s the smart one who’s heading off to a fancy shmancy high school. Then Rin starts seeing demons and shit and finds out he’s a demon himself. And thus he decides to become an exorcist, since those other demons are pretty much total dicks.
I’m a pretty fucking big fan of this series, and I’ve been following it since very early in its syndication. Is this series shounen as fuck? Fuck. Yes. It doesn’t necessarily have a lot new to say about the genre, but it’s just executed so well and fantastically that I don’t really care. You could argue that a lot of the elements that make up the story are derivative of other works (exorcism, cram school, daddy issues, twins probably too), but again, it’s just executed so well that it feels like it’s putting a fresh spin on it. I love Katou’s art (she has an infrequently updated blog too which I cannot understand a word of) and I think her character designs are fantastic. The anime has been somewhat mediocre thus far, but I still fucking love the manga. The only criticism I have of it thus far is that it hasn’t done a great job of leading us towards and establishing an overarching plot that will bring further context to all these adventures, but it’s heading in that direction now.
Uncassandra by Amashi Gumi (art) and Nishimura Mitsuru (story)
Japanese title: アンカサンドラ
(Note: if you look for this series online, most of the time it will be romanized as “Ann Cassandra”, which makes more sense with the kana. However, certain plot elements later on make this seem like a terribly unlikely transliteration, but there could also be scanlator fuckery involved on either part.)
Published in Kodansha’s Shounen Rival. Unlicensed and completed.
Bekku Nanaki has just moved to Tokyo, and shortly after her arrival, she’s saved from near-death circumstances by a guy pretending to be a fish monger. Soon she starts school and finds her mysterious savior in her class, a guy by the name of Kizaki Banjou. Not long after reuniting with her savior, Bekku discovers Kizaki’s book of grisly predictions of the future, all of which he has singlehandedly prevented (or plans to prevent). But Bekku has been running away from her own ability to predict future events by looking into a mirror. They join together to break as many predictions as possible, and to change what the book has to say for Kizaki…
This is a hella short series (8 chapters, 2 tankoubon) and most of the scanlations out there are terrible fucking quality. The easiest way to describe this series to me is FUCKING ADORABLE. I thought the plot sounded stupid at first, but it works extremely well as a plot device. The character designs are bright and recognizable, and the action scenes are well expressed through the art, although there are moments when it appears awkward.
While this series is technically shounen and has the art to prove it, it doesn’t always feel shounen. There are romantic elements but they don’t overwhelm everything, and for a shounen manga it is very well structured… but not necessarily paced. The pace of the story in the last few chapters suggest it was cancelled prematurely, but if it had been stretched out further, I think it could’ve been fucking great. Still, it’s a quick and satisfying read, provided you like a slightly open Inception type of ending.
Mediafire: Chapter 1 (scanlated by Boredom, inactive group)
I’m still finishing up writing the first batch of posts, but a real dose of manga should be up sometime tomorrow (tonight? techincally tonight, since it’s the wee hours of the morning I’m writing this in) evening, Eastern daylight time. I just figured I shouldn’t leave this blog empty in the meantime.
If you want to ask me something before I get to everything else, feel free to do so!