Fafner: Dead Aggressor

And that’s why this was the worst mecha manga I’ve ever read. Oh wait, did I explain anything? I didn’t? Well, that’s too bad, because if you want a manga that actually explains something, this ain’t it. So why should I go into detail why I disliked “Fafner”? Maybe because it has nothing to say. Maybe because Fafner wants me to feel bad even though I don’t. Well, let’s see what’s wrong with this one.

Plot: I have no idea.

Seriously, this plot seems disjointed. Something about stopping an evil menace with giant robots. Oh wait, that’s every mecha manga. Nothing really happens, at least, nothing interesting. But we’ll go more into that over the course of the review.

The first time we meet our protagonist, he talks about how tense it’s become with his father ever since his mother died. That’s it. Already they try to make me feel something that I can’t feel. I JUST met you; how about having a scene where we get to know you? Or, you know, say anything but mindless exposition? Well, at least we’ll get some interaction or inner-struggle between father and son, right? NO! That wouldn’t be poorly thought out! The two never say a word to each other or think of their relationship! My, I’m so glad he told us about his backstory!

And that’s kind of what this manga both is and lacks: Backstories. Oh, people have reasons for doing what they do. But we’re never shown why. Constantly we’re told about how “I love Makabe” or “Shoko died for our sins”, but we never get a flashback to properly illustrate the point. Why did Shoko (one of the pilots or something; who honestly cares?) love Makabe (the protagonist; again, it doesn’t matter)? She gave her life for him. But they never, NEVER had interaction. We don’t get a flashback, she doesn’t give any reason to sacrifice herself other than “I love Makabe”… it’s a mess.

Now, the pointless pandering to my emotions. The aforementioned Shoko gave up her life to protect Makabe and the island. Ever since, everyone feels the need to say “SHOKO GAVE UP HER LIFE!” or “Shoko wasted our precious mecha.” I got it. She died. Oh, and it’s not like no one else died protecting the island. No, only Shoko, who we know almost to nothing about, was the reason we stand to fight. HORSESPAGHETTI.

No one has any personality or identity. One character fights with Makabe over a girl named Sakura. Okay, who’s Sakura? Well, she appeared throughout, but she did nothing and only had her name addressed to her towards the end of the volume. Great work setting her apart! Even with the copy and paste characters, they’re all better than… SOSHI. BOO!

Soshi. The meanest character in this dreck. Why, all he cares about is war, not people! I mean, how could he think of machines more than people? Well, I’ve got no idea. Honestly, he’s just taken from every war series ever. You know, the one guy who seems horrible because he doesn’t convey any emotions? Truth be told, I’m kind of with him on this one. Well, come on. Look, Shoko died because she disobeyed orders. Really, I can see that all he wants to do is end the war and not have to deal with stupidity. She didn’t even have a valid reason to die. What, she wanted to prove her worth? But we, as the readers, don’t know you. Sorry I’m still on this, but I’ve never seen a dramatic death scene handled so poorly.

The fights are boring and confusing. There’s a ton of useless jargon that doesn’t mean anything because they never explain it. “IT’S SOLOMON’S PROPHECY!” they explain. Oh wait, they don’t. I don’t get how the machine works, I don’t get how the island moves, and I especially don’t get what the enemy is. Oh, the enemy they fight throughout? “Festum”. Yeah, just makes you quiver and quake in your boots, huh?

Look, if you wanted to make me feel something, anything but annoyance, all you really need is development. Why, even Gurren Lagaan had character development, and that was a terrible manga. So imagine where you are, Fafner. In my head, you’re worse than Gurren Lagaan. A Bandai title. I don’t know, maybe the anime was awesome, but that’s no excuse for this piece of… well, it was fairly lousy.

Overall Opinion: Confusing, rushed, and nothing you haven’t seen before. If you get the chance to read it, don’t.

Rating: Fafner doesn’t deserve a rating. You go sit in the corner, Fafner. That’s a bad manga. BAD.

Fall In Love Like A Comic

My reviews on bland manga don’t usually have much to say. That’s why I didn’t want to review this title after I first read it. When I found it on my shelf, I forgot everything that happened in the manga, so I gave it another go, thinking it would’ve been bland. Far from it. This manga horrified me. This is “Fall In Love Like A Comic”. Yeah, rolls off the tongue, don’t it?

Plot: Rena is such a manga artist! She doesn’t even have boyfriend! To improve her work, she gets THE HOTTEST BOY IN SCHOOL to go out with her to get experience. Oh, does she start falling in love with him? Does he obviously like her? Is he bland and she stupid? Yes, yes, and very much so yes! But just saying the plot won’t explain why I despised this one.

First, there’s our heroine. Rena is awful. I can’t take her seriously because she’s always a cartoon character. Yes, she is a cartoon. But when she cries, it’s like I’m supposed to be laughing. I’m not, because I didn’t find this title funny, but still. She’s also horribly naive. In this world, everyone thinks that the most taboo male/female relationship is… okay, I just can’t say it! I’ll try to tell you later in the review, it’s too naughty. But I digress.

The male is your typical awful wonderful boyfriend. He’s good looking, smart, observant, the desire of every girl (and occasional guy), and has everything given to him on a diamond-studded platter with a side of prime rib. I hate those guys. Because they have all and only these traits, it’s hard to relate to them. They have no faults. This makes it difficult for anyone to give him a good talking to when need be.

Our awful heroine, Rena, seems to be the only one who can yell at him, but she’s actually wrong. Like when she was afraid he’d wind up with the costar of the manga to TV adaptation. Nevermind she asked him to do it, and nevermind he asked Rena if she was okay with it. When he confronted her, she bottled up her feelings and, here’s the part that particularly horrified me, said to herself, “He doesn’t understand me at all!”

At this, I had to restrain myself from throwing it onto the train tracks. Oh yeah, I was reading this at the train station. Anyway, he asked her if there was anything wrong, she said no. He guessed right what was on her mind, she still bottled it up. Then she has the AUDACITY to blame him for not understanding her? WHY? Stop being awful and say what you want to, you dope! You mindless pixie! You fruitless tramp! You heartless shoe! You awkward donkey! You terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE character! Okay, let’s move on.

This awful creature also has the typical “I can’t tell everyone who I really am!” Apparently she can’t tell people that she writes naughty manga, but it goes nowhere. I don’t think it’s a big deal, except for that one naughty detail that I shudder to mention. Besides, she doesn’t even use a pen name. Oh wait, I mean name. More on that soon. I know she said that no one realized it was her, but I find it hard to believe that no one in the whole school, aside from her best friend and boy toy (more on that soon), realizes it’s her. But when you write such… ugh, I can’t say it! I’ll try, I’ll try.

The boy toy feels like nothing more than a boy toy. She acts like he’s a manga boyfriend, which, of course, is entirely true. She realizes he’s upset and seems to understand his feelings. What does she do at the beginning of the following chapter? She says that he’s like a boy in a manga! Wow, I’m so glad she understood him! The connection between you two is amazing! And they don’t feel like a good fit. See the smile on the boyfriend’s face? Scroll back to the cover art. He constantly makes that face. He knows everyone wants that sugar. But with that smug face, I wouldn’t want him to have it. Meanwhile, all the girls look down on Rena because she’s going out with THE HOTTEST BOY IN SCHOOL, which is never funny. The boy is cardboard, the girl is pointless, I think they should break up.

An unfunny running gag is that whenever the boyfriend does something *AHEM!* naughty, Rena melts. Never funny. Let’s move on. Name is apparently the Japanese word for a storyboard. So… why not just say “storyboard”? I mean, I understand you want to be faithful to the original and it’s too long to fit occasionally, but this isn’t the original text. We have a word for storyboard, and it’s not name. If this manga wanted to stay true, then all the dialogue should be romanized Japanese. But it’s not, because that’s stupid. It may take place in, been drawn in, and stay faithful to Japan, but that’s no reason to say things like “How are you, Zawa-Chan?” or “That’s such a kawaii killer shark!” You could just say “How are you, Zawa?” or “That’s such a cute killer shark!” Unless the original manga needs it to work, I say just make things more accessible if it’s not too unfaithful. Moving on.

Okay, I don’t think I can say what I find so risque (as does everyone in this manga, and for good reason). But I can SHOW you a scene! Here goes!

Yes. I’m so sorry. I truly am.

…THAT THIS MANGA IS AN ABOMINATION!

Okay, first, everyone, EVERYONE, is treating kissing like it’s naughty. IT’S NOT. She’ll be kicked out of her COED HIGH SCHOOL for writing kissing scenes? What kind of backwards school is this? The reporters can’t film this scene because apparently it’s “too hot for TV”, but it’s not. IT’S NOT! I’ve seen saucier stuff at a pasta factory! Well, I guess a pasta factory would specialize in pasta, not the sauces. BUT I FRICK FRACK DIGRESS! The whole time, THE WHOLE TIME, everyone acts like her stuff is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO RISQUE, but it’s only kissing and hugging! “With a little bit of nudity” my Humphrey Bogart! Yeah, right! STOP BEING SO AWFUL! NOW!

…Okay, I certainly hope that’s out of my system. Sorry for that. This manga just ticked me off because it treats its readers like children, even though it shouldn’t. It’s pandering to I don’t know who, but I just think it’s awful. The stories are cliched, the characters are self-centered, the world is stupid, the art is… well, not awful, but I can’t get past how plain the boyfriend looks. He’s supposed to be super hot, but we never really see other guys, albeit obviously hideous ones. It’s just a simpering manga, and I much would have prefered to leave it to rot.

But the bonus story is rather nice.

Overall Opinion: If you fall in love with a comic, don’t let it be this one. Skip it, skip it, skip it.

Rating: Two Thumbs Down, One Star out of Five, and a “D+”.

All Nippon Air Line

Hey, remember my first review? It was about a train line that employed HOT GUYS! I said that for a manga that was supposed to be yaoi (or boys love for those of you safely not in the know), it didn’t have any particularly homoerotic moments. Oh sure, there was crossdressing, a bisexual, and a female transvestite. But crossdressing appears in plenty of non-yaoi manga, while the other two leave room for non-homosexual tendencies. Well, here’s a manga that refuses to beat around the bush. This manga is seriously anal. Or “All Nippon Air Lines” if you hate the pun.

Plot: It’s a manga about PLANES! …Which I don’t like nearly as much as TRAINS! This little title is about gay men who specialize in a gay airline. They pleasure the male clientele with… er, let’s not go into it. Anyway, for some reason there’s more homosexual men in Japan than any other country in the world (which is never mentioned, but I’m going with that conclusion based on the staggering amount of yaoi in the world), so almost the whole manga divulges in mano-a-mano love, such as a straight guy coming to terms with the fact that he might be gay. Oh wait, that’s every plot in this dreadful schlock.

I have many questions. First, is this sort of thing even legal? I know they had some trouble getting this airline off the ground (that’s not a pun because airlines can’t fly), but it wasn’t because the idea sounds completely stupid. Isn’t there some kind of law where you don’t fraternize with the customers? Does it apply to the airport system? And why did someone say “hey, we have gay teachers and gay doctors, but you know what we DON’T have? An airline where the staff will sleep with the male passengers! Ingenious, huh?”

Legalities aside, this manga is ridiculous. First, all the staff feel like the same character over and over. None of them look or act particularly unique from the others. There’s the director, who’s apparently the leader of this madness. His existence explains the insanity of this operation, though. He’s quite perverse, which is good for all the guys in this, but terrible for the reader. Don’t get me wrong, if this were about stewardesses sleeping with their female clientele, I’d be just as outraged.

I think this is a good place to apologize for a misgrading I gave. Eiken is TERRIBLE. The most soulless manga I’ve ever read. I’ve read Butterfly, Sky Blue Shore, Gurren Lagaan, Tori Koro, FLCL, Millennium Prime Minister, Kanpai!, Three In Love, My Girlfriend’s A Geek, Ai Yori Aoshi, A.I. Love You, and Saber Marionette J. All of them PALE in comparison to Eiken. This manga too. I only reviewed the first volume, so when I saw what later volumes looked like, all sense of decency was OUT. I especially need to apologize to Jason Thompson, who never read my blog and I never met, so I guess I don’t need to tell him I now trust his wisdom after he called it “The Worst Manga EVER”. But anyway, back to another soulless title.

There’s other characters, but they’re even less interesting. There’s a guy with a bald fetish who I didn’t recognize in a later chapter, a martial artist who I don’t care about, a guy whose voice makes men… er, come to your own conclusion. Since this title panders to female and gay readers, it doesn’t have any time to produce an interesting cast. Everyone is bland, everyone is gay, everyone wants to sleep with everyone else.

Okay, forget the yaoi factor. As a manga, it’s bad. The reason I hate Eiken now is because they turned into straight-up porn. Beforehand, it was cute, maybe even funny at times. But then they decided, “no, I need to distance myself from other harem creators. Ooh, I can make everyone bland, logicless, and conveniently nude in front of Densuke!” And so he distanced himself from other manga artists. And manga readers. Wait, I’m not getting sidetracked, I have a point! See, since ANAL only serves as pornography, it tosses character-building and actual plot out the window. As such, it forfeits its ability to be enjoyed by those with decency.

I enjoyed Train*Train, even though that was supposed to be a yaoi. Again, it didn’t act like one, but it still worked. Okay, what about Millennium Prime Minister? Wait, no, I hated that one with a passion. Actually, that one WASN’T a yaoi, but it acted like one. Which leaves me with only one conclusion: Eiki Eiki, the creator of both titles, can’t write what she wants to. Or maybe I just don’t care for yaoi in general. That makes more sense.

Honestly speaking, and I can be totally honest about this since I’m aware of such things, the men in this manga look horrific. The art is ugly, specifically the character designs.It has the opposite problem that Train*Train has. In Planal, the chins are too short, while in Trainal, the chins are too long. Still, I’ll take good storytelling over artwork any day. Since this manga has neither, then I hate it.

Basically, this title is offensive. It portrays gay men as sex fiends and straight men as gay men. The women are all evil or pathetic, each chapter ends with a grating “WON’T YOU FLY WITH ANAL TODAY?” tagline, the plots are formulaic, the humor is twisted, it’s ugly, it’s mean, it’s awful. I also dislike the premise. Not to mention, why doesn’t this manga actually SHOW the sex scenes? I’m NOT complaining, believe me, but isn’t that the whole point? Why would anyone want to read an unfunny manga where the men just sleep with each other, and we’re supposed to take the “SPANKA SPANKA!” sound effects as proof? In the end, this manga is the worst intentional yaoi I’ve ever read, out of two.

Overall Opinion: WON’T YOU SKIP THIS ANAL TITLE TODAY?

Rating: Two Thumbs Down, A Half Star out of Five… Hundred, and an “F+”.

Video Girl Ai

Hey, remember my “A.I. Love You” review? No? Well, that was a horrible manga about a lonely guy who gets a virtual girl to fall in love with him. Now I’m reviewing a manga about a lonely guy who gets a virtual girl to fall in love with him. Yeah, this manga seems to have inspired A.I. Love You, seeing as how this one came first and is better. But is it all that great? Well… this is “Video Girl Ai”.

Plot: Dateless is such a loser! Seriously, his real nickname is “Dateless”. Do I really have to finish that thought? He finds out that a girl he likes is in love with his best friend, who in turn turns down the poor lass. Rather than feel sorry his love was supposedly unrequited, he feels sorry for the girl and, because he was selfless, is able to find a store for the pure-hearted to get a video. Okay… anyhow, he puts in the video to discover that a girl came out of his TV to help him win the girl’s heart! Wow, you mean a lightning strike didn’t make her real? Who would ever believe that?

Yeah, Dateless seems to be a great guy. Real pure-hearted. After all, only the pure-hearted can enter the store to make their lives improved. Oh, just one small detail… HE RENTS THE VIDEO FROM THE ADULT SECTION! Seriously? A store for the pure-hearted has PORN? Doesn’t that kind of contradict the whole idea of a store for the pure-hearted in the first place? Do they have a book store for the intelligent where they sell knock knock joke books? I’m sorry, this whole concept really put me off! It started out bounds and leaps better than A.I. Love You, but once I got up to this, all pleasantries went out the window.

It’s by no means a bad manga, but like A.I. Love You, the references are highly dated. You know what I like? Timeless manga. A manga where you can read it in most generations, and say “Hey, I got that!” Now, I understand that video cassettes were the medium of media back then, and they had no way to foretell of what’s to come. But years from now, people will seriously ask why he’s putting a black box into a bigger box. I’m sure all the manga I own will be dated soon enough, but that’s probably before Dateless would be dated. Ouch!

Ai, the video girl (who killed the radio star, mind you), is somewhat off-putting. I understand that due to a VCR malfunction, her looks and behavior are a bit skewed, but I don’t care for her personality. It’s not bad, and she is pretty nice at times, but her behavior is too sporadic for my liking. She’s an interesting character, but she reminds me too much of Saati from, what else, A.I. Love You. Both are in love with the loser even though they aren’t real, but they also break him a lot for no reason. I know this came first, but I read A.I. before Ai.

But as much as I don’t care for Ai, at least she has a personality. The love interest is dull, and the best friend seems to be off. He’s got a tinge of emotion, but his motives seem unclear, much like Ai’s. The only one I truly enjoyed in this was Dateless, which is odd because in any other manga he’d be awful. But he’s different than other loser characters. He’s not oblivious, for starters. When Ai throws out her homecooked meal so the love interest can make one for Dateless, he eats Ai’s meal once the girl leaves, telling the video girl that he was aware of her intentions. I mean, this guy is awesome. Why can’t we have more losers in manga like this?

One side plot error. When Dateless and Ai go on a date, she accuses some guy of feeling her up. The gentleman, an intimidating fellow, is taken aback that she would say such things. To uphold his sparkling reputation, he says he’s going to beat her up. So… a guy with a heart of gold wouldn’t feel up a young lady, but he would beat the stuffing out of her? Does this manga even know what nice people are like?

In the end, I recommend Video Girl Ai. It’s much better than A.I. Love You, and it’s entertaining protagonist and its titular titless Ai (I’m extremely sorry, I couldn’t let that one slide) makes you come back wanting more. Add that to wonderful storytelling and you’ve got a great read.

Overall Opinion: A great manga, albeit one with some errors. But definitely check it out.

Rating: One Thumb Up, Four Stars out of Five, and an “A-“.