Made In Heaven: Kazemichi

Keeping with the drama theme of Dramacon and In The Starlight, we continue the drama with a title that starts out with a relatively swell idea, but ends up spoiling it almost immediately. This is “Made In Heaven: Kazemichi”.

Plot: Reiji gets into an accident which results in him getting most of his body replaced with machinery. That’s right, a cyborg. Sounds awesome? Too bad. Instead we look at the complexities of his life like not being able to feel the warmth of the sun and awesome generic stuff like that. And his girlfriend is an emotionless woman, who calls herself a cyborg. But she seems to cheer up by the end of the volume, just in time for Reiji to die. Wow, what a riveting plot!

Truth be told, some of the elements are kind of cool that make it somewhat worth it. Reiji (his name in the story is Kazemichi, as he got a name change after the accident, but I prefer Reiji) loses part of his face after a skiing incident, which looks neat. Also, it’s actually somewhat interesting to see a cyborg that would be more realistic in real life. Cyborgs are always portrayed as being super strong and nearly all-powerful. But here, it seems Reiji lives more like someone who has to take extra care of his life, just like someone who had a fatal accident. That’s well done.

But that doesn’t make up for all the blowjobs I had to put up with. It seems any manga with a sex scene will involve a blowjob in there somewhere. Like IWGP or Gunsmith Cats, this could be a kind of spectacular manga just as long as the blowjobs don’t appear. But they do, and I just get squeamish. What’s worse is Reiji blowing his doctor for payment. It’s seriously nasty, and while the action is never really visible, all you have to do is fill in the blanks, and then your mind goes blank.

I also have trouble with Reiji as a sympathetic character. We get one volume to really care about him, but then he dies. So how do we get to portray Reiji’s dramatic life in one volume? Why, we shove it all in, no matter how cluttered it may feel! You got Reiji’s drama with his mom, Reiji’s drama with his father (I think), Reiji’s drama with his sister, Reiji’s drama with his girlfriend, Reiji’s drama with his doctor, Reiji’s drama with his gay best friend, Reiji’s drama with himself… it’s all too much to take in a single volume.

There’s also the fact that he… I don’t know… CHEATED ON HIS GIRLFRIEND? Yeah, that’s never properly addressed! In fact, after he cheats on his girlfriend, he calls HER out for cheating on him! How can I sympathize with this guy? This guy reminds me of the boyfriend from Dramacon, just not as interesting (which says a lot) and supposedly the protagonist. Just awful.

What’s interesting is that the title differs between the two volumes. This one is named after Reiji’s new name, Kazemichi, while the other volume is named Juri, after the girlfriend, probably focusing on her as well. Why is this necessary? It’s not. But hey, at least you know who’s the protagonist in each volume, because I really couldn’t tell with the way Reiji acts.

Overall Opinion: A surprising mixed bag, but it’s mixed with blowjobs and crammed in drama. Not a fan.

Rating: One Thumb Down, Two and a Half Stars out of Five, and a “B-“.

In The Starlight

So that was quite a bit of praise for Dramacon last review. I’m glad I got over my Americanmangaphobia in “Pikachu Meets The Press” review, or I’d probably have been more jerkshire. However, as accepting as I am of American manga, I still have a problem with Korean manga. Or, as the Koreaians call it, “manwha”. Urgh.

Look, I know any title all depends on the skill and prowess of the artist and writer. But I’ve read a couple manwha, like “Dorthy Of Oz”, and I just wasn’t impressed. I don’t know, maybe it’s all the disjointed dash-es in every-one’s na-me, or the fact that the names sound like “Suh” or “Yoo”. It’s just a bit distracting for me. I’m used to the Japanese names and honorifics by now, so I probably just need to familiarize myself with manwha. But here’s a title I didn’t find helped the problem. This is “In The Starlight”.

Plot: Shiny (which is what I’m calling the protagonist since the title on the cover matches her name) loves space. Insert Space Core joke here. She loves it so much that she wants to meet alien life! And she does. Then she hates alien life. And space. And the Universe. The end. Engaging!

Okay, that’s not quite it. Shiny’s dad moves in an alien girl and her bodyguard to live with them. They get along, a UFO comes to live in the neighborhood, and the aliens from that UFO come to take Shiny away in their magical spacecraft. This leads to the worst line of dialogue I’ve read in a manga. And here it is!

Favorite Quote: Shiny: “They might just take me away to the Universe! No! I don’t want to go to a place like that! I don’t wanna see a trivial thing like the Universe!”

Wow. Just… terrible. First, the entire time Shiny talks about how “there’s so much more up there”, and she spends a good portion defending the aliens. When she finds out the girl who moved in with her is an alien, she gets all freaked out and can’t stand her. Sure, I don’t know how I’d react if I actually met an alien, but it just bothers me that someone who spends so much effort for the sake of the outer part of the Universe just can’t stand a girl when she claims to be an alien.

Secondly, this line is bizarre. She says she “doesn’t want to go to a trivial place like the Universe”. Uh… you see that spaceship interior? You remember Earth? You look up at the sky? That’s the Universe. THE UNIVERSE IS EVERYTHING AND EVERYWHERE! How is it “trivial”? So that means Earth is trivial? That’s not even the right word to use! How can you call it trivial if the Universe is the most important thing? THIS IS TERRIBLE DIALOGUE! But I digress.

The manga itself is bland. The hook is the alien spacecraft, the aliens, and the psychic powers the alien girl has, but none of that keeps it interesting. Oh yeah, the psychic powers. How can Shiny stand the alien girl if she has psychic powers? Her complaint is the the alien thing is unnatural, but telekinesis isn’t? Okay, back on topic. It’s not enough to keep the manga alive. The dialogue outside of terrible writing isn’t interesting, the art is typical old fashion manga art, and the characters are as trivial as the Universe. It’s not a great title.

This manwha was published in America by Net Comics, a company unknown for putting out such stellar titles as “Boy Princess”, “Romance Papa”, and “Vibration Life”. Yeah, most of what they do is yaoi. In The Starlight got a perfect 10 on their website according to the 19 reviewers who gave an opinion without looking at that one line of dialogue. The one thing they all gripe about about is the artwork. Honestly, why should that be? I kind of like typical old fashion manga art, to be perfectly honest. With the utmost honesty I can say that artwork is the least of this spacewreck’s problems.

Overall Opinion: I don’t wanna read a trivial thing like In The Starlight! Skip it.

Rating: Two Thumbs Down, Two Stars out of Five, and a “D”.

Dramacon

Here’s a manga about two topics I typically dislike in manga: Drama and manga. However, this manga is able to pull it off very nicely. Added to the fact that some might consider this “not true manga”, and you’ve got yourself a prize title over here. This is Dramacon.

Plot: Christie is such a loser! Her boyfriend’s a jerkhole, her friends are nuts, and the anime convention she’s attending is super creepy! This is the worst day EVER! That is, until, she meets Matt, the mysterious man with a heart of gold and a snazzy attitude. Christie begins to fall for Matt, and he seems to feel the same way. Along the way to her self-discovery path or whatever, she meets Lida, a wise manga creator with a grand sense of awesomeness, Matt’s family, who also have a bit of awesometude in them, and two girls in the neighboring booth, who I personally feel are utterly awesomeberg. Will Christie and Matt hook up? Would you expect any less from a shojo?

I was genuinely pleased by this title. Many American manga creators just make manga because “it’s popular right now” or “I like the style”, but Svetlana Chmakova Impossibletopronounceata seems to have a sincere passion for manga and what it stands for. This is masterfully portrayed in volume 2. An obnoxious fanboy claims that “manga is a Japanese artform”, so American manga isn’t true manga. Lida, in her pure awesomestein ways, responds, “A pizza is not a pizza unless it’s baked by an Italian in Italy.” That’s the most valid reason for American manga I’ve ever heard. Well done, Lida!

The character interactions are quite nice. When Christie interacts with her obnoxious boyfriend Derek, you can feel her pain of dealing with this jerk. When Lida interacts with anyone, you can sense her sincerity, complete with a side dish of snarky-snarkness, and awesomefeld words to go with it all. This is wonderful writing in its truest form.

The drama is pretty well done too. Usually I can’t stand harsh drama like “my sister died in a sea-related disaster” (Skyblue “Sore”, how I hate you), so it was a relief to get lower dramatic moments like Christie almost getting raped and Bethany’s (Christie’s artist after Derek) mom getting in a car crash. You know, low-level drama. It was also a nice touch with Matt’s whole sunglasses thing, which kept me guessing until the reveal. This is drama done properly.

Okay, this isn’t to say it’s the “best manga EVER!”, as I do have complaints, which I shall list off as so:

– Certain plot points felt unresolved. Most of the plots I felt were unfinished were explained in the Q & A after the final volume. But that just feels a bit slapdash in its effort.

– Matt’s sunglasses. Okay, here’s a big spoiler. Matt wears the sunglasses because he’s missing an eye. SURPRISE! As such, he feels like a freak, and everyone treats him so. Whether they mock him or sympathize way too strongly, it feels unnatural. Aside from that, the sunglasses are unnecessary after volume one. There they serve as a plot device, a means to yell “SURPRISE!” at you. But after that, why bother? I say just wear an eyepatch. Sure, it’s more “freakish”, but after you explain you’re not a pirate, people will get you’re missing an eye. But hey, he does look cooler with them on.

– Missing characters. In volume one, we get two nutballs joining Christie and Derek at the Anime Con. With their introduction on the first page, it seems they should be more important. But nope, they disappear after the first volume. Sure, why have the same friends you did in high school as you did in college? But an explanation would’ve been nice. I’m especially disappointed with the sheer lack of Lida in the last volume. She was my favorite character, but she only served a non-speaking cameo in that volume. It’s really not a proper sendoff to such an important character to the series.

Overall though, this was a very nice title. I’d definitely recommend it to fans of conventions, fans of manga, fans of drama, fans of awesome, and everyone else who appreciates a good title.

Favorite Character: Lida. Enough said.

Favorite Quote: Obnoxious Fanboy: “SHE’S NOT JAPANESE! SHE’S NOT EVEN WHITE!”

Overall Opinion: AMAZING! Truly a grand manga about friendship! Well done, Impossibletopronounceata!

Rating: Two Thumbs Up, Three and a Half Stars out of Five, and an “A-“.

The Palette Of 12 Secret Colors

I think color is awesome. First, it’s indescribable. There’s no way to properly explain the difference between green and red. You just know. Secondly, the world would be a lot more boring without color. Sure, we wouldn’t know, but it was nice of the Higher Powers That Be to throw us a bone. And of course, Sonic Colors is (in my opinion) the first great Sonic game in years. Can a manga properly pull off the wonderment of color? Not this one. The Palette Of 12 Secret Colors.

Plot: Oddly-named Cello wants to be a “Palette”, which apparently is someone who can control color with the help of magic birds. Unfortunately, she keeps making mistakes, which puts her in jeopardy of repeating another year of training. When her magic color bird is stolen, can the oddly-named Cello rise up to the challenge? Sure, why not.

It’s a cute story, but there’s the issue that I’m sure you’re keen to pick up: This is a manga. A black and white manga. About colors. A black and white manga about colors. A black and white manga about colors that has no proof that colors are a beautiful thing to behold. The only color is the cover, and that’s certainly not proof enough. Seriously, look at the cover! It’s kind of a grainy coloring system, maybe a little pale. Even the worst manga can have an amazing set of colors on the cover! This, a manga ABOUT COLORS, has a terrible coloring system! But I’ve nitpicked too much on a minor subject. Let’s move on.

The stories are a bit interesting, but nothing outstanding. We get a revelation that the doctor who helps the oddly-named Cello out in every story came to the island of magic colors birds after his whole family died. Personally, I’d find this more shocking if this wasn’t in the first volume of this series. It just seems to be placed too early.

Actually, colors don’t seems to be the central theme here. I’m not sure what is, but that’s okay. Not every manga needs a theme. But themes tend to make stories more interesting, and that’s what this manga needs. The first story seems to be “believe in yourself”. The second story, my personal favorite, is about “never give up”. You could tie those two together, but then the third story jumps in with nothing in particular. I thought it would be “face your fears”, but that was quickly shied away with a story about three girls who want snow for their birthday. I guess they’re cute, but they just look angry all the time.

The artwork is okay, but what of it? I think a manga that can’t produce color should make up for it with outstanding scenery. That would give the illusion of beauty, rather than bland non-colors. Meanwhile, the magic color birds themselves seems to do virtually nothing of importance. One gets stolen, but it might as well have been replaced with a magic medallion that controls color. Then a bunch get stolen and use their power to prove the oddly-named Cello’s innocence, but that seems to only justify their avian-existence for that one story. There’s no reason at all for them to be birds in the third story, and I can imagine that later installments prove me right on this.

Overall Opinion: Not particularly worth it, but not terrible either. Just generally bland. A box of crayons advised.

Rating: One Thumb Down, Two and a Half Stars out of Five, and a “C-“.