Steel Angel Kurumi

It’s a New Year’s Miracle! I found something worse than or equal to Qwaser of Stigmata! “Steel Angel Kurumi” isn’t just bad, it’s downright insulting! Hooray!

Before we begin, you’ll need the patented Fanservice Checklist! Be sure to bring:

-A maid girl
-A subservient robot girl
-A girl with glasses
-A guy who becomes a girl
-A girl with huge boobs
-A girl with no boobs
-A hyperactive girl
-A girl with little emotion
-A hot springs chapter
-A lesbian
-An incestuous sibling
-Your dignity. Just kidding! You have none now!

Again, I don’t really want to lay out the Plot, so here’s the basic skippy. Nakahito? Such a loser. He accidentally kisses Kurumi, a “Steel Angel”. She activates and becomes his subservient groupie. Dr. Ayanokoji created Kurumi, although in order to be a maid. He also left the army to get away from all the baseless killings and blah blah blah. Dr. Amagi works for the army and she wants him back. She has glasses. Amagi steals another Steel Angel, Saki, and she in turn is kissed by Kurumi, who considers her a sister. Ayanokoji is kidnapped by a rival scientist, who has his own Steel Angel, Karinka. Then the others kind of forget about Ayanokoji and live with Amagi, and Mikhail, a mysterious stranger, lives with them too. And he’s EEEEEEEVIL! Then the volume ends with Karinka wailing on Saki.

The manga moves way too fast. There’s never a moment to stop and take it all in, which leaves the reader confused in the process. But really, there’s nothing worth examining. It’s all too shallow. It’s trying to be funny, but it fails because it never slows down and let you enjoy what happened. Also the jokes suck.

Part of why the jokes suck is because the normal dialogue is so bad to begin with. Here’s how we learn about Nakahito:

“You might be the son of some famous family, but we don’t give a damn. You’re weak, man! You’re nothin’!”
“Crying like a baby… and you call yourself a mystic?!”
“For someone who doesn’t have a mother, you sure are a mama’s boy!”

Exactly how it was written, by the way! A bunch of information unnaturally conveyed to the reader through bland exposition! And there’s basic stuff too, like, “I must obey my master’s command. I must… fight my sister!” PLEASE, spare me.

So… the plot is good, right? Of course not! It’s unfocused and sloppy. The creators cared more about pandering to the lowest denominator with its generic sexual tendencies. For example, there’s a gun that turns Nakahito into a woman! And his brother falls in love with him! And starts feeling him up! And then Kurumi joins in the fun! Because that’s how men’s minds work, right? We all just wanna do our sisters!

Oh, then the characters must be wonderful! No, no, no. It’s exactly who you expect. Kurumi is the lead, so she has to be a hyper pixie girl. The second lead girl, Saki, is obviously the more straightforward of the pair. And Karinka? Well… she has no boobs. Ooooh! And yes, Nakahito is, as I’ve mentioned, the typical loser. Nothing original here, folks!

Art? Nope! It’s generic and even a little baffling. Especially the action scenes. Half the time I don’t know what’s going on, and that’s on top of the already poorly structured plot! It’s not like there’s much to look at anyway. So why was this series even made?

“Hey, everyone! Let’s all work hard so they’ll make this series into an anime!”

Hahahahahahahahaha.

And it was.

Twice.

With some OVAs.

Why, God of Anime, why?

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xixg4_steel-angel-kurumi-s01e01_fun

Well… here’s episode one… I gotta say, the anime seems to drag as much as the manga feels rushed. I can’t believe how slow everything feels. It would be great to have some middle ground.

Also, that opening. Are you telling me that the Steel Angels are the only characters? Where’s the scientists, or Mikhail, or Nakahito? You know, the main character? I really hate openings like this that trick its audience.

The voice acting is a sham. Whoever played Nakahito, STOP WHISPERING. He mumbles so much, I’m surprised any airwaves could carry such tiny sounds! And the other voices… eh. The narrator at the end of the episode sounds like she’s really bored. I’m not surprised.

Oh, and the pandering? Kurumi is naked from her first appearance, but clothed shortly after. Thanks for that! Just wanted to assure the audience “Don’t worry! There’s plenty of naked women after this episode! Here’s a sneak peek!”

Frankly, I’m astounded how this got off the ground. Will Japanese men just watch or read anything with the basic hormone-pleasers? This isn’t why I read manga. This isn’t even why I learned to read. “Steel Angel Kurumi” is an unenjoyable mess from beginning until the next volume. I imagine it’s only worse from there.

How many reviews this year? …Forty-nine? Tell you what, let’s make it an even fifty. Check in tonight an we’ll end the year off with a good note.

I’m so glad to have broken the Qwaser curse… thank you, God of Manga!

Oh… Uh, not you, Mr. Tezuka. But thanks for Astroboy and Lost World.

Hell Girl

Merry New Year’s Eve, everyone! Man, this was some year, huh? I mean, World War Blue… that… that took some out of me.

Oh, but we’re here to discuss “Hell Girl”! As a kid, I heard about this series, but I was too scared to check it out. Little did I know that it’s about as scary as a cold sponge. See, sponges aren’t known for being cold, so there’s that.

I’m not going to post a “Plot” section. No, instead, here’s the way to write a story in “Hell Girl”.

1. Introduce us to a girl, who thinks everything is fine right now.
2. Introduce the obvious bad guy, but the girl thinks that they’re her friend.
3. Make it obvious to the girl that her “friend” is bullying her.
4. Have the girl post a request on a website to Ai Enma to drag the ex-friend to Hell. It doesn’t work.
5. Girl tries to commit suicide or homicide, but Ai stops them and asks that even though dragging the enemy to Hell means that they go to Hell when they die too. They always agree anyway.
6. Ai Enma drags the enemy to Hell. They are shown how what they did to their victim was wrong by making them experience it.
7. Everything goes right for the girl, although they quickly regret the fact that they’re going to Hell.

It’s like that at least in the entire first volume. And I’d be fine with it if it were interesting enough to carry on from story to story. But it isn’t. You know exactly how it’s going to play out. The main differences are the setup for the girl (like a baker, an actress, a pet-owner…) and how the villain is tortured, although that’s easy to guess. Gee, the vet that uses animals for gain rather than proper care, will he be tortured by pets? Will the baker that made up gossip about a rival restaurant be punished by having the gossip be true about his restaurant?

I think the worst part might be the art style. It’s by no means bad, but it’s unfitting. I was hoping for a dark style, but everything is big-eyed and cutesy. I guess you can’t do much about your style, but it reminds me of the train wreck that is Only One Wish: Too cute art matched with dark plots.

Speaking of wishes, this is probably the best of its genre. A collection of stories that have someone grant wishes for people, usually girls. I realize that this isn’t really “wish granting”, but it is in a sense. The girls want the person they hate dragged to Hell. Sounds like quite a wish to me.

The other manga I can think of in this category are “King of the Lamp”, which was bogged down by its sexual repetition; “Only One Wish”, which had sloppy writing and unfitting art; and “Nightmares for Sale”, which existed, technically. So to be fair, Hell Girl is the best out of a bad situation.

I find it interesting, though. If making a deal with Ai Enma means going to Hell for eternity, why not just murder the villain? Sure, it’s criminal, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll go to Hell forever. So what gives?

Well, I thought about it. I realized that each chapter has a happy ending. Everything that was once wrong works out. Girl who was slut-shamed by a professor? He’s dragged to Hell, and everyone realizes what a pedophile he was. I believe that Ai not only takes away the person you hate, but also makes everything work out. In that sense, it truly is a story of “wish granting”.

Ai Enma is just sort of there. Like, literally. She’s there. When the girl is at her wit’s end, Ai shows up and says, “Hell does exist”. Funny how no one notices that this girl always shows up before someone “disappears”. Sometimes Ai is in a high school or a junior high, and they’re like, “Oh, Ai is a transfer student!” I find her presence at these schools unnecessary. She disappears too quickly for the girl to notice, so why go through the hassle of going to school?

The only other recurring characters are the torturers. An older man, a young woman, and a young man. As of the first volume, they have no names. Maybe they never get names! Maybe they’re all called Ving Rhames! Probably not!

I will say that despite my disappointment with the actual horror aspect, some of the torture scenes are pretty well done. The vet being ignored by the animal doctors is pretty fitting. I say “some” are well done because they aren’t all. The pedophile teacher who poured chemicals on his student’s clothes to undress her was himself undressed by the torturers. Then he’s exposed as a pedophile to the school. Throughout it all, he never really cares that much. He just complains that Hell is “unscientific”. Laaaaame.

I hear the anime is actually horrifying, though. This manga is just an adaptation of it, so I don’t think you should draw any conclusions about what the anime is like from this. But for me, Hell Girl the manga just isn’t enough to keep me reading.

I think I have one more review in me for the year. Check back later and we’ll look at a real stinker.

Sweet Rein

Welcome, one and all, to a Very Manga Connoisseur Christmas.

Hi, everyone!

(Laugh track)

I… didn’t even… what?

(Woops of laughter)

Uh-huh. Anyway, remember when I complained that there’s no Christmas manga? Well, shut up, Past Manga Connoisseur! Right?

(Dead silence)

Right.

And what kind of lazy reviewer would I be if I didn’t take a look at it? Lazy, definitely!

(Dead silence except for one lone audience member, howling with laughter)

Thanks, Uncle Marty. Here’s “Sweet Rein”.

Plot: Kurumi, not at all like Kevin from Home Alone, has to spend Christmas home alone! When a guy bumps into her on the street, she discovers that she is a “Santa”, and that the guy, Kaito, is her magical reindeer! So it’s up to Kurumi and Kaito to deliver presents to an unspecified amount of good girls and boys on Christmas! Oh, and do I hear romance ensuing?

(Laugh track)

Yeah, it is a bit of an odd plot.

But wait… a Japanese girl is Santa? I’m… getting a flashback…

(Blur effect, cut to the Ai Yori Aoshi review)

“Shudder. But nevertheless, it’s really bad. So is the story before they met, and Aoi is “a santa”. What is “a santa”, and why does it sound like there’s more than one santa? But that’s not open to discussion.”

Okay, so she said that she is not “a Santa”, but actually Santa. I guess this is open to discussion. Why is there a fetish for female Santa? Like, really. The beard, the gut, and that tacky red suit. I get the devil. Evil can be sexy. But to me, fantasizing about a cute Santa girl is like imagining a sexy version of your grandpa. It’s not advisable.

So let’s get to the actual manga. What exactly is a magical reindeer? Well, it’s like a regular magical reindeer, except most of the time, they’re humans. Plus, the Santa that they meet is their Santa for life. This entails following every order the Santa gives, at least with the body.

Yeah… yeah… yeah. Okay. Right. Implications. Kurumi can command Kaito’s body to do anything. So… he’s pretty good looking, right? Fortunately, this is a shojo, and all female protagonists are chaste.

(Sound of sympathy from the audience)

You better believe it. I never have a problem with the characters not wanting to go that direction, but that means we get scenes where Kurumi sees Kaito talking to other girls. What does she do? Get horribly jealous, of course! Why? They’re not dating. In fact, this is a large problem with certain shojo titles. If you can’t say anything, why punish the guy for talking to other girls? It’s a personal pet peeve.

Kaito’s family (aside from his father) are all reindeer. I originally thought since his pop is a human, he must have been a Santa at some point. He isn’t because apparently Santas and Reindeer have never been in love. Still, would you date someone who could turn into a reindeer? Like, it might be great at parties. I don’t know, it’s odd.

Let’s focus on the Christmas aspect. Only one out of three chapters in the manga actually takes place on Christmas, and I find that to be less limiting, but ultimately pointless. Ever wanted to read about a girl Santa at the beach? Maybe? Huh.

The first story has Kurumi on Christmas, and she gets into the role pretty well. She ends up enjoying it, which is great, since she won’t go, “Oh, I don’t want to be Santa! I want to be a normal girl!”

(Audience boos)

Then the next chapter is at the beach. Huh. Some people seem to be aware that Kaito is a reindeer. I kind of like that it’s not a huge secret, but it doesn’t serve much purpose. Except for a boy with cancer, who gets to fly in Kurumi’s sleigh and revisit an old friend. A fair enough story, despite being unseasonal.

Then another story in the summer. Yay. Kaito tells his grandfather’s ghost that he has fallen in love with his Santa. The grandfather disapproves, but Kaito turns him around. And Kurumi was listening in?

(Woops of amusement)

So it seems their relationship has moved to a new level, or something! Oh, but no time for that! Now we see a one-shot vampire story!

(Dead silence)

Yup. From Santa to vampires.

I mean, what do you expect? It’s a vampire story. Read a story about a modern-day vampire in Japan? It’s this story. How about a story about a guy that adopts a cute little girl against his will, but they form a bond? Do you like Bunny Drop? It’s this story.

And the only element about the vampire that’s original is the fact that turning others into his kind could kill them. Even then, it’s pointless. Two guys want to be vampires. He tells them they might die. They stab the girl. He attacks them. It just doesn’t work that well. It’s just an excuse for him to be lonely for eternity. Where’s the vampire that turned him? They should hang out, or something.

It’s a fairly decent manga. The problem is… well, there’s nothing like it. I’ve never seen a Christmas manga, so I guess I’m stuck with this. Aside from the Santa element, it’s just a generic shojo. But that’s a pretty big “aside”.

Anyway, I hope your holidays are filled with good cheer and lots of good manga! Merry Christmas!

(Audience goes wild)

And don’t worry! I’ll be back with more reviews soon!

(Dead silence)

Princess•Princess

I really like Train☆Train.

I chose Train☆Train as my first review because of the little story I had behind it. Everyone mocked me for accidentally buying a yaoi, but I ended up loving it, and it really wasn’t a yaoi anyway. The only other series I’ve read by Eiki Eiki was Millennium Prime Minister, and I despised it. Okay, so not everything she does is magic.

This isn’t a manga by Eiki Eiki, however. No, this is by her dear friend, Mikiyo Tsuda. To be honest, this came to my attention specifically because it was on that ol’ Ten Worst Manga list made by the author of Complete Guide to Manga. Does it hold up? Or… drop down, I guess? Let’s look at “Princess•Princess”.

Plot: Kouno joins an all-boys school! However, Kouno notices that everyone around him acts strangely… because they’re being really nice! Whaaaaa??? After a lot of dancing around the issue, Kouno discovers that he’s a candidate to be a “princess”, which means he has to dress up in women’s clothing and act feminine. It comes with benefits such as money and free food, so he agrees. The other two princesses are Shihoudani, who’s quite a lot like Kouno, and Mikoto, who doesn’t want to be a princess, since he has to be manly for his girlfriend! Oh, the indignity! And… that’s it.

First, the positives. I do like how Ms. Tsuda mixes up roles in this manga, and I’m not talking about gender or sexuality. No, I mean character roles. In most cases, the main character would be the one to hate this situation and be forced into it. But no, Kouno really has no qualms about it, and he amusingly gets into the roles quickly. Mikoto even points out that Kouno’s the main character, but isn’t suffering unlike himself.

The art is passable, and I say that with intention to compare it to Train☆Train. The authors are buddies, so I guess maybe they had the same teacher or something? Maybe they developed their style together? Train is passable, and I recall gushing over it originally, but after rereading it for this review, I gotta say the art, while fairly pretty, isn’t much to go on. Both Eiki and Tsuda have trouble differentiating faces, and it gets confusing fast. The only ones who really look different are the older men, but that’s because there’s so few of them.

I say “rereading it”. It, of course, is Train☆Train. Believe it or not, Train☆Train and Princess•Princess crossover twice. I remember in Train, but I only read one volume of Princess. It actually works really well, and I originally thought that Eiki Eiki drew Princess when reading the crossover in volume two of Train. Yes, the art is that close.

And, actually, Ms. Tsuda explains why Princess•Princess and Train☆Train are so similar title-wise. So get this, right? Eiki Eiki says she wants to make a manga about trains and call it “Train☆Train”. Mikiyo Tsuda realizes that it sounds similar to Princess•Princess. So Eiki suggests that they do a theme, with Train having a star, and Princess having a heart! Tsuda has none of that, and just puts a circle instead.

From this I learned two things: One, Eiki Eiki is the funny one. Two, Mikiyo Tsuda is a straightman.

And… well, that’s the biggest problem with Princess•Princess. Ms. Tsuda isn’t funny. She seems to work well when she has Ms. Eiki to bounce off of her, but that’s not enough to hold her own.

See, Tsuda has horrible dialogue. Not that it’s cliched, but it’s repetitive. Every single character goes into tirades about mundane details.

“I’d say this one needs a room on the end. What do you think?”
“Definitely have to go with a room on the end. You and Miko-chan are in the single rooms on the end, right?”
“Yes, but there’s still an open room.”
“Hmm… I guess we could put him in the open room by himself. It might be better if he shared a room, since he’s not used to the school and the dorms yet. But then that means one of you would have to move out of the room you’re in now… You want a room with him? It’ll be good since you two are in the same class.”
“That’s alright with me… We should ask Mikoto about it, though. If I’m going to live with Kouno, he’ll be the one that needs to move out.”
“Yeah, that’s true. Let’s go talk to Miko-chan, then.”

Oh, what? That was boring and repetitive? Well, get used to it, since the entire manga is like this! Tsuda breaks the golden rule, “show, don’t tell.” And I think part of that is because of how different her writing is from Eiki. Train made me crack up regularly, even upon the reread. Princess, maybe once or twice, but never as loudly as Train☆Train. It feels like Train is trying to be a sitcom, while Princess is a journal entry. 

I find it interesting that both authors call this “Boys Love”, even though it’s so tame. Train goes out of its way to make sure no one is out and out gay, going for female crossdresser and male bisexual. Princess does this too. No one is defined as gay, but all the guys act like the princesses are girls, since there aren’t any around. Keep in mind, the guys only want cute, feminine guys. So again, they are not gay. Why? Both authors claim their titles to be Boys Love, but it really isn’t.

Here’s the strange thing. The princess rule? Administered by the school. Yep, and if you reject the role of princess, you lose school credits. So… they fail you if you don’t want to be a crossdresser? How… nuts! It’s insanity! If you need a way for guys to “blow off steam,” why not hire female teachers exclusively? Frankly, it’s all blown out of proportion.

And it’s not like this is prison. I understand the idea of a prison bitch, but this is a school! Why can’t they meet girls outside of classes? Or on festival days?

How are the characters? Meh. Just meh. Personally, I like the manga best when it actually focuses on them being princesses, but most of the time, those scenes are scanned over! We see them get dressed to try on the dresses, but then it just jumps over and they say what the tailor’s reaction was! Or when they cheer for teams, they say how the clubs were happy to be cheered on! Couldn’t these scenes make for great comedy?

Oh, right, characters. Yeah, Kouno, like I said, is interesting since he doesn’t really mind the role. Shihoudani is pretty much him, but a bit more knowledgeable. Mikoto is great in scenes where the other two explain how not to be molested. Yes, there’s that issue. There’s the student president, who only got the job for being pretty, and he’s fine, but a bit downplayed. He seems to force everything, which could be funny in a different manga. There’s also a character that everyone respects, even though he seems himself as a normal guy. Eh.

Although I love the tailor, since he might be the only one who’s actually gay. Everyone covers their eyes when the princesses change in front of them, since they don’t want to ruin the magic, but the tailor doesn’t care at all. He also goes into tirades about his designs, and I think he’s the only one who should be speaking excessively about mundane things. Why? Because it fits with his personality. And to be fair, a bit funny.

I don’t find this to be the worst manga, but it’s by no means anywhere near Train’s level. It goes into long discussions that would in actuality be over quickly, and it lacks a punch. Maybe her other titles are better, but this is one Mikiyo Tsuda manga you don’t wanna get.

Oh, and as a bonus, the cover comes off to reveal two bonus comics about “Prince Prince”, a girl having to dress up as a guy for other girls. I gotta admit, that made me laugh.

Pita-Ten

Koge-Donbo. I have now read one manga I like, and one manga I do not, both by “Koge-Donbo”. Here’s the one I don’t like, “Pita-Ten”. I have not seen even one pita, let alone ten of them. For that, minus ten points from Gryffindor for lack of appetizing bread products.

Oh, and by the way, this review will be partially portrayed in baby-talk. View discretion is advised.

Plot: Kotarou lives with his father! His mother passed away, but don’t worry! Misha will be here to rattle off her insipid baby talk! “Don’t wowwy, Kotawou! Evewyting’s gonna be goodie goodie GOODNESS fwom now on!” But Kotawou won’t heed her word, even though Misha is the pwettiest of pwetty angels! Oh, nibble snacks! I can’t stop tickle tickle tummy talking wike dis! And worst of all, Misha is older dan him! Oh, deary deary dearest! How does it wook, a big girl wike Misha-Wisha hitty hitty hitting on Kotawou? Not goody goody good, dat’s for sure.

I simpwy don’t get the baby-waby talkie-walkie. If Misha servy-werves as a suwwogate mommy for Kotawou, why would he wanna hear her talk wike a widdle baby? She should be speaking ewoquentwy!

*COUGH GAG WHEEZE*

Oh, sorry. Just choked on my own vomit. Uh. Okay, that’s better.

Misha’s clothes are dumb. Goth Loilta? Fine. Rabbit plushies tied to her hair? Check please! Okay, I think the service was poor. Should we even tip? No, the rabbit hair ties weren’t cute. Next time we’re eating at Kon Kon Kokon.

What do I even say about Kotarou? He’s not a particularly kind protagonist. OH! Seriously? He’s not a simpering nebbish guy who wants to make everyone happy? Wow! What a relief! He doesn’t wish ill of anyone. He just doesn’t want to get involved in other people’s problems. But he does, and he helps out if he’s willing to. Like, lemme lay it down for you. When Misha offers to shield him from his fears, he’s like, “Eh, whatever.” But when Misha sees a devil, Shia, she freaks out. So Kotarou, not a huge jerk, just tells Shia to go away. It’s the little things that make you appreciate a protagonist.

But that doesn’t counteract how irritating Misha is. Seriously, I could hear it in my ears while reading. I mean… why? Is anyone really like that? That’s how people doing a parody of something cute sound. It has no basis.

The fact that she’s an angel is pretty downplayed, and I think that they kind of dropped the ball here. Later volumes use the angel factor, but it’s next to worthless in the first volume. I think she uses her wings once, and even then it only serves as a reveal.

It’s actually a fairly calm manga. Not, like, funny, but calm. Even Shia, who’s supposed to be a demon, is portrayed as a shy girl, so there’s never too much going on. I still don’t care for this manga, though.

BUT!

Here’s the but.

Spoilers to follow.

Misha and Kotarou don’t end up together.

Well, I was relieved by that little piece of trivia. Usually the guy and the main girl fall in love, but actually, it’s one-sided. Misha likes Kotarou, but Kotarou’s classmate likes him, so she gussies herself up and wins his heart. Kind of cool, honestly.

I suppose Koge-Donbo is more progressive than the average harem-writer. We’ll see more of… uh, them, as we go along.

Also, SPOILER, Kotarou was Kotaroh in an earlier life, and he knew Misha. He committed suicide, which is why she wants to help Kotarou. I guess it’s a do-over, since he was Reborn! Dang it, three reviews in a row.

Kaze Hikaru

“Kaze Hikaru” is based on history, thus the history tag. Like many manga based on history, such as the 7-11 manga and the Dali Lama manga, I’m not terribly fond of it. I don’t know, something about the realism used kind of… bugs me. I don’t know. Sure, I get a kick out of Noodle in a Cup and I actually really like the 240Z manga. But as you’ll see, instead of just simply explaining right now, there’s a fairly valid reason here.

Plot: Seizaburo wants to avenge his family’s death! So he joins the Mibu-Roshi in order to train and be strong enough to kill his brother and father’s murderers. However, he has a secret… Seizaburo is Sei! AH-HA! Oh. Right. See, Sei is a girl’s name. SEIZABURO IS A GIRL! The kind-hearted mentor, Okita, discovers the truth, but allows her to stay. But does Sei want to stay? The Mibu-Roshi seem awful, with their partying and drunk and/or cruel leaders.Everyone in the village hates them. And, oh, are they oh so perverted! 

One thing that bugs me is the homoerotic overtones. By overtones, I mean it’s obviously and blatantly there tones. They have no qualms hitting on someone they think is a guy. Now, you know me. Really, you know me. You know me. My first review was a “yaoi” (a term I use loosely for Train*Train). But as this is feudal Japan, is it really okay for them to be attracted to guys? Like, wasn’t that sort of thing banned back then?

After some brief research, by which I mean Wikipedia, the answer is no, no it was not. Yeah, apparently it was totes ballin’ to accept an apprentice as a lover. So then… I guess Japan has quite an ancient history of yaoi. Well done, past Japan!

Although this begs the question, what of Sei? Why is she such a prude about guys hitting on her? Okay, fine, she’s a woman and modest. But if she’s living in such a time, wouldn’t she expect this sort of thing?

Wait. This sounds like I’m blaming the victim. Let’s try this again.

Man, those guys that hit on Sei are so skeevy! Poor Sei, having to suffer through being hit on, just because she looks like a cute girl! A cute girl with a half-shaved head. And is extremely annoying to be around.

Huh.

Sei is extremely annoying. She always assumes the worst about the people that took her in. Like, the first time, when she sees everyone partying, okay. I would also assume that they’re layabouts. Then when Hijikata treats Sei and Okita cruelly, fine. I don’t know the guy. Then Sei assumes that Kondo is a worthless commander… see where I’m going with this? If no one else is complaining, why do you assume things are so horrible? The partying was a staged show for spies, Hijikata puts on an act, and Kondo is worth his salt.

But no, each time Sei realizes something, she just gripes about something else. It gets old throughout the first volume.

Speaking of the first volume, I don’t know what subsequent volumes are like, but man, Kaze Hikaru moves at a snail’s pace. It’s by no means boring, but very rarely are there any fight scenes. Off the top of my head, I remember maybe one occurring, and even then it was brief. That’s what I was getting at. It does seems to follow history, but it’s barely gone anywhere. At 34+ volumes, it shouldn’t be too long before the action starts. Heck, to bring up Reborn! for the second review in a row, I bet when the manga develops more action, it grows stronger.

As it is, though, I don’t really recommend Kaze Hikaru, if only because we’ve seen this story before. You know, where a girl disguises as a guy and infiltrates a group of guys and is totally turned off by how gross they can be! Like Girl Got Game. I believe Hana-Kimi also applies, though I’ve never read it. And, of course, Ouran High School Host Club, although again, I’ve never read it.

If you like the genre, though, and frankly, since I’ve admittedly never heard of this setup taking place in feudal Japan, then I say Kaze Hikaru will rock your world! Not mine, though.

Hunter X Hunter

First off, Happy Manga Month is cancelled. Sorry, but business comes before pleasure. With that being said, here’s a happy-ish manga, “Hunter X Hunter”.

Plot: Gon wants to be a hunter, like his father, who wasn’t there for him, ever! Yeah, there’s some implied stalking, but never a “Hey, I’m your dad!” Anyway, a hunter is the best occupation in this world. It’s pretty much like getting paid a million dollars to review manga. I’d be happy with a nickel per review. So Gon heads out, but on the way, befriends Kurapika and Leorio, two aspiring would-be hunters. Will they be accepted into the Hunter Society, or whatever it’s actually called?

Yeah, so, like, this manga makes me smile. The designs of both the humans and monsters are very creative. Plus, everyone looks different. That’s always a plus.

The plotting is also amazing. This is the kind of manga that makes you attached to the events going on. Like, when they get questioned an impossible question, “Who would you save, your mother or your true love?”, you wonder how they’re going to answer. (Spoiler: They simply don’t.)

I love how different the applicants are. Sure, Gon’s the good kid who wants to befriend everyone and is the equivalent of Goku or Dark Yugi in his field, Kurapika’s the noble one, and Leorio is the business-savvy guy. But the other characters… see, almost no one gets chosen for a hunter status. When they’re showing us the rookies and veterans of the exam, you think, “Oh, so he’ll be important later!” I thought that myself, but the fat genius who outwitted the “Rookie Killer” couldn’t make it past the first test. So I thought, “Now what’s the point of introducing him?” But I guess that small scene before he collapses was a way to get us connected to him even a little.

Notice when I talked about the rookies and veterans, I said, “he’ll be important later”. Yeah, there’s no women. Not that they’re excluded, but not one woman took the exam, at least in volume one. They even say, “He or she” when referring to applicants! I guess since this is a manga for guys, there’s bound to be a bit of female exclusion.

The exam is brutally difficult. Even getting there is part of taking it. On the ship that brought our three heroes, they were the only ones not to abandon ship when the sailing got tough. If I have one problem with the pre-exam, it’s that they don’t appear to change the trials of getting there. So veterans can breeze through whatever they already took. The exam itself seems to change, however, so at least that dwindles down the competition and levels the playing field.

A nice touch that I like: One of the contestants cuts off a guy’s arms. Just… wow. That guy’s life is ruined, I suppose. One of our heroes says, “No one has quit yet! I mean, except for that guy who got his arms cut off.” I dunno, it’s nice to see that it isn’t just forgotten from one scene to the next.

Speaking of the arm-cutter, Hisoka is too, too ugly of a villain. Like, there’s the endearing villain you grow up with, like Light. Then there’s Hisoka, whose rotten core is just shoved down your throat. A magician by trade and murderer by hobby, Hisoka just leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I like rotten villains, sure, but sometimes it’s too much.

I loved this manga, although from what I understand, Hunter X Hunter goes on hiatus an awful lot. It’s 32 volumes long as well. “Well, that is kind of long…” you say. No, it’s not. The series started in 1998. Now, Reborn! has a total 42 volumes, ten more than Hunter X Hunter. When did it start? 2004. That’s about six years later. And Hunter X Hunter is still going on, unlike Reborn!. When I reviewed Reborn!, I said it was 35+ volumes. Hmm. That was in 2011. The manga ended in 2012.

Here’s some English release dates for Hunter X Hunter.

24: January 2009
25: March 2009
26: January 2010
27: March 2011
28: September 2012

Yeah, there’s the problem. I say if you really want to spend your whole life trying to get the English translation, don’t bet on completing it. Otherwise, check it out and see what you’ve been missing.

To be fair, they’ve been releasing them faster in 2013. Still, be cautious.