Noragami: Stray God

Noragami

October! Manga review! Constant schedule slip! Yes, I don’t have a schedule. That’s how late I’ve been. Review!

Yato’s a homeless god working for cheap. He even wrote his number in a high school bathroom stall! The first third of the first volume focuses on Yato and his Shinki (spirits that become weapons) helping a bullied girl, while the remainder has the Shiki leave him and Yato meeting Hiyori, a girl who is able to see Ayakashi, basically a demon. Now they fight together! Also, he gets a new Shinki at the end of volume one. Trio of Power!!!!!!!!!!

Trio of Power!!!!!!!!!! notwithstanding, I kind of enjoyed the first chapter more than anything else. Spoiler paragraph to follow.

A bullied girl, driven close to the point of suicide, calls the number. Yato reveals an Ayakashi is turning everyone’s mood sour, which is hurting the girl. Upon her request, he vanquishes the beast, but everyone still bullies her. Makes sense, considering that bad things travel faster than good. So Yato takes her status as “bully victim” and changes it to “stranger,” essentially meaning she’s not noteworthy to her class, not that they forgot her. The girl, now with a second chance, stops talking in the third person and feeling sorry for herself. Yes, the third person.

Yato tells her that she’s the cause of their ill mood, which may sound cruel, but it has wisdom in it. As Tomska has said…

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Teenagers r dumbbbb. One side of this is trying to jump that shark, while the other is trying too hard, repelling people instead of attracting them. You learn and, while society has taught us how evil the thought is, you change for others and yourself. It’s honestly a positive thing.

This chapter resonated with me on a number of levels, all of which are too personal to share with a handsome stranger such as you, Melissa. Or any other name. The drama felt real, monster as well, but I wish the tone remained beyond this chapter.

The rest is Yato with his new partner, Hiyori, who hit by a truck and now falls out of her body and has a tail when she falls from the flesh. They fight monsters and find dogs or cats or something. You’ve read such things before, like that kid who smiles too wide and acts like Sheldon Cooper. Muhyo & Roji. If you like the genre, and I do, pick up Noragami. But with the god angle and the girl who falls out of her shell, there’s more teased in this volume than attracts readers on its own.

Funny, check, decent art, but monster designs are disappointing. Not much of a horror manga, since it’s not. If you came here on that pretense, I fulled ya. You may go. But the suicidal girl in the first chapter does spark some realistic horror in those who know what it’s like to be bullied. For that chapter’s merits alone, I recommend “Noragami: Stray Gawd, Mom, I’m Old Enough To Date Keith! He’s Only 27!”

Othello

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O Othello, Othello, wherefore art thou, Othello? Whether ’tis nobler to sling the… Yeah, I’m not doing a Shakespeare schtick. For one, the manga is named after the game of all things. Makes sense, given the black/white motif. More to the point, Othello is lauded as Shakespeare’s greatest works. I consider myself genre-savvy, but media never really parodies, references, or uses dialogue from Othello, so I’m at a loss for good jokes anyway.

I dislike Othello’s setup. The premise is fine, but it’s an awful setup. Yaya is SUCH A LOSER. Late mom? What else? But that leads to her following her dreams, singing, and being rejected by her peers. Typical. Her father is overprotective of Yaya, given she’s all he has. Ugh. Natural cause and effect of the universe, get to the good stuff. Yaya has no friends, so she gets some that bully her. Mm-hm. She’s also a Japanese goth in private. Okay, that’s more interesting. So she goes aggressive when she goes goth? NOPE! Unrelated and under-utilized! LOLOLOLOLOLOL

When Yaya gets a locket her young self mailed to her present self, looking into the future changes her into… NANA! See, “yes” and “no.” YAYA! NANA! Othello! Nana, unlike Yaya, is outspoken and brave, solving Yaya’s problems without her being aware when Nana leaves. Wait. The Othello motive doesn’t work. The cover is almost a complete lie! Nana does not get dark hair, so it’s mostly worthless. In fact, goth Yaya has dark hair in her first appearance, but goth Nana is blonde. I’m oddly forgiving of this, but still uncomfortable.

So! Does Yaya/Nana take on harsh parents, jerk guys, and bully friends? I have to assume “eventually” is the answer for the first two. The entire first volume has Nana take on her bullies. How limiting! After the first chapter, the bullies should disappear! Heck, Nana saved them from being raped, and they still make her life a living hell! “Thank you from saving me from a trauma many akin to the end of life. I’m going to steal your mixtape.”

Moe and Seri are irredeemable. The following are the methods they use to make Yaya miserable, all while claiming “friendship”:

-Verbal abuse
-Spilling sandwiches into the lake
-Theft of property
-Theft of love interests
-Theft of confidence
-Goth exposure
-Not ceasing to be a threat after Nana saves them from being raped

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See, it can be fun sometimes, but I feel that the duo distracts from Othello having had become better than it was. There’s a distraught daddy and promises of a goth band member showing up. But no, show four chapters of bullying without realized moral. And the last chapter has Nana wish to be separated from the duo, but the preview for volume 2 shows they’re still in the plot. Come on! They suck!

There’s also a love interest. Worst love/hate transition. Yaya goes from hate to love way too quickly. Not great, in my opinion. Nana likes him so much that she kisses him on stage, so what do I know?

Nana is cute, but not amazing. Weak antagonism rules to first volume and the pacing is sloppy. But it’s easy to root for someone like Nana, and I couldn’t help but get excited when she showed up. The art is generic shojo, albeit a bit overly toned, but nothing offensive. I say have a Go! Because Go, the game with black and white chips. Like Othello. It’s a joke wasted on you.

The Walking Man

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Yes, I realize it’s been over a month since my last post. I’m not going to say anything in the realm of cute schtick, like “I was busy walking.” I did do more walking than reviewing, obviously. But mostly, I’ve been busy with the new house.

Which is how the manga sets up the series; a couple settling into their new home.

Let’s talk about art-heavy manga. If you want a manga to relax to, then look for manga like this: Light on conflict, gorgeous scenery, published by Fanfare/Potent Mon. Like this manga. Like this manga.

The problem with The Walking Man, and I loathe to type that because there’s nary any at all, is that it’s boring. Now, if I may. I feel relaxed reading The Walking Man. Very soothing. But that’s it, and I wouldn’t read it for fun. I read funny things when I’m bored. I’d give this to someone on the edge. It would remind them not to stress, to take things slow, and maybe get a dog.

Here’s a chapter: The Long Trail. The lead, who I don’t think is named, is walking. He spots an older man with a cane, also walking. The lead decides to follow him. When a train passing through separates them, the lead discovers the man with the cane paused until the train went by. Eventually, the older man fully stops, and they walk side-by-side. No dialogue is uttered.

See, The Walking Man is unique in the manga world, but that’s because it’s the only ASMR manga, autonomous sensory meridian response. The dude’s just walking, and it’s hecka soothing, brah.

To be fair, I’m making it sound duller than it is. One chapter has him talk to a bird-watcher! One has him lay beneath the shade of a tree! The last chapter, “Ten Years Later,” seems to be a prologue, as the lead explains the root of his walking obsession: He got off the train one stop before his office one day. Couldn’t expect much.

And it’s great. Fantastic. But it’s not my flavor. You know Aria? That’s also a very low-conflict manga. But it does have the constant struggle of the lead trying to become a full gondolier. So you keep reading because she hasn’t succeeded in her goal, and it has atmosphere, humor, and developed characters. Atmosphere is 95% of The Walking Man, but without humor or developed characters, it’s therapeutic in its most practical purpose.

But the manga is self-contained, so it comes and goes. And it’s wonderful, because it doesn’t answer any questions, so you don’t feel obligated to ask. And it’s somewhat rare, so good luck with…

Okay. I’m asking. Why is he never at work? Is he sort of slow? Is he living on disability? Why isn’t he much thinner, considering all the walking he does? Why does he meet so many people that he walks with silently? Why hasn’t anyone reacted negatively towards his presence? What does he do to relax? I mean, he does this all the time, so doesn’t walking get boring eventually?  That’s why I took a month off from reviewing; I needed to renew my interest in it.

If you can find The Walking Man, take a stroll with it. It’s one of a kind. If not, then just take a stroll in real life. Maybe you’ll meet a snail or something.

Triple Trouble: Gestalt, Zig☆Zag, Pumpkin Scissors

The theme of this Triple Trouble review? Manga I haven’t read in between a year to five years and wanted to deal with already, God dang you. It’s hard even for me to BS a common link between these three. They’re all comedy-ish, but not one series uses it as the defining genre, although Zig☆Zag’s a Tokyopop manga claiming such. It ain’t primarily to me.

So the theme is “In Suffering, There is Laughter.” Cheery!

The real theme is “Quickie Reviews.” I’m going to touch the finer points here because, coincidentally, none of these series really impacted me after finishing them. So that’s a lot of themes.


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I’ve been avoiding Gestalt for years, mostly because I didn’t get it. So I let it sit until I got it.

Five years later, I still don’t get it, so I refuse to let it sit in storage for 10-years-later Me to review it.

“Gestalt” is the psychological theory that the whole should be viewed as more important than the sum of its parts. Nope, not sure why the protagonist (?) is named that. She’s *SPOILER, DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO READ THIS SERIES* actually a dude, so maybe it refers to his magnificent boobs.

The cover brags “FROM THE CREATOR OF LOVELESS!”, but not in Caps Lock; that’s just for me to mock it. I never read Loveless, but judging from Jason Thompson’s manga review book and his subsequent two-star review, it’s nothing to brag aboot.

Plot: There are eight gods, one being Gestalt, who tried to overthrow the supreme god. A priest, Father Olivier, wants to travel to the island of Gestalt, only to receive a mute slave, Ouri. She can use magic and is actually not mute (using the same sign shtick Genma of Ranma used to talk). Together, they (and some companions along the way) venture to Gestalt to… something.

Two positive things for me, at all: One, the color combinations are lovely. The cover and inside colored pages have a unique blend of colors that… that just pop. TOO BAD THIS IS MANGA, AMIRITE? The other is the designs. Ouri, ***SPOILER*** who is actually the GAWD Gestalt (referred to in a “he who shall not be named” vein), has flouncy hair that is a labor of love. Dudes, not so much. Blond hair. Glasses. A++.

Negatives: Lazy art. Well, lazy-shading. A dark-skinned man has teeth the same color as his lips, and shading is unremarkable. Eyes are sometimes unfilled which gives off a dead look, and when people are sinister, their hair and skin inverts color. Not terrific. But the composition of bodies makes up for it, not to mention those magnificent boobs. Too bad action doesn’t support that art well. But I suppose in a series about magic-users, it’s fine. Nerds.

The series, an RPG, doesn’t run with the concept well. Why does a snow-monster beat one of fire? Is that a common trope? Then why? It feels like a parody, but not a strong one. It’s hard to follow who’s who, even if you can tell the two bespectacled guys apart. Characters seem to go with the flow, not the motion of their own ocean, and the motives trickle down to Misty’s “Pay for my bike” stuff. WE BEAT MEWTWO TOGETHER, MISTY. LET IT GO. Even that’s an actual motive. The dark-elf just seems bored, and even Olivier isn’t clear on his motives.

Maybe that’s my main issue: I don’t care. The characters don’t care. The manga doesn’t care. What happened to the spectators? Did they drown in the spell Ouri made? The king was killed by the queen! And then it’s abandoned. What about the ally they made? Not even a goodbye? It’s hard to focus because it never matters.

Overall grade, with Art as B+ (for those magnificent boobs), Story as C, and Personal Interest as C-, I give it a C+. Again, volume ones usually start weak, so maybe the other seven pick up the pace.


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It’s always a good sign when the title has a star in it. Zig☆Zag is the best of this bunch, but it’s still “eh,” even for a manga I enjoy. This is labelled as a comedy, but the hook is the drama. Okay, yes, it’s funny more than dramatic, but it’s only through presentation. Listen up:

Plot: Sonoh has been disowned from his flower-arranging family. Things go from bad to worse when his new roommate is Takaki, a boy as cute as a girl who loves flowers. From there, we follow Takaki as he has to deal with the slowly-defrosting Sonoh and his twin brother, Yuuki; Saho, a tomboy he always flirts with but whom he always ends up fighting with; Tatsuki, his rambunctious childhood friend who always hits on Mei; and JiJi, who whatever.

See? It’s DeGrassi. And there’s lots of scenes lying on De Grass, see?

Positives: Jokes are funny, but don’t necessarily hit. Personalities are structured in a way that Mei, who hates Tatsuki, can be flattered for a gift of flowers. Basically, friendship and hatred aren’t flatly applied. There’s a lot of cute moments, like when Takaki befriends a man he believes to be the school gardener. “This tree is 62 years old! That’s how old I am!” he says to a consistently impressed Takaki. But as it turns out, he’s not a gardener! For you see, when the gardener introduces himself on the first day of school, it turns out that he was the principal! And Takaki makes an outburst along those lines! And the principal smiles it off! He doesn’t return for the entire volume.

Lot of flower-love here, and it is nice, although the main focus is on relationships, and I don’t necessarily mean luv. A lot of the writing feels fanfictiony, but that’s not a bad thing per se. The personalities are diverse, and all the stock-roles are there. It’s just the constant influx of characters that prevents you from really having enough time to take it all in. It works well, for what it’s worth, but it doesn’t feel respectful.

Negatives: While I did complain about Gestalt’s art, I think the major positive I had for it should have been here: It should have experimented with itself more, art-wise. Yuki Nakaji is a swell writer but a cookie-cutter artist. It’s not worse than bad art, it’s perpendicular to it. Read a shojo? It’s here in this art style. Big eyes, nice chins, no fat dudes. Boring and safe, and forgettable and sorry. At least it’s nice, but I have manga that take the bland style and smudge the lines or cut the thickness. Why settle for fine? Make it look bad, but let the story shine!

The setup of the manga is that it’s a recently coed school. This fact never comes into play, and it only serves to justify the ratio of male to female students. It’s pandering, obviously, and it makes zero sense if you don’t add another layer to it. Too much happens at once, and while it is fine and balanced, it’s not always interesting. I’m not really into Takaki and Saho’s “will they/won’t they,” since they don’t interact normally. And I hope Tatsuki and Mei don’t.

Overall grade, with Art as C-, Story as A-, and Personal Interest as B, I give it a B-. It’s fun, but it lacks a certain star-quality, and if the plot thickens better in the following 8 volumes, it’s not shown much here.


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When I lent someone my copy of D.Gray-man, they concluded it was a “bad rip-off of Fullmetal Alchemist.” Well, Pumpkin Scissors (published by Del Rey, before it became Kodansha) is a terrible rip-off off of Fullmetal Alchemist.

Plot: During her graduation from the war academy technical terminology, Alice and her classmates are shocked to discover that the war they’ve been fighting has ceased fire, and a peace treaty has been made. Years later, Alice and her crew serve as war relief, cleaning up the disaster the war caused. Alice meets Randel who, judging by the tingle on her neck that lets her know of important events, she befriends and initiates into her staff. Can relief come to a world gone mad?

It’s essentially Fullmetal Alchemist. Cute dog at work? A story in the first volume about helping the overworked and underpaid mining community getting what’s theirs? A giant with an association with souls? Sending crews out for missions to a topsy-turvy world? Advanced technology but outdated clothing styles? Sure, Fullmetal Alchemist owns nothing, and some of my examples are vague, but it is too much to shy away from.

Really, I like this idea for a story a lot. Focus of not the war but the damage it caused? Brilliant. It’s just that Coppelion does it better. Okay, I only saw the anime, but gimme a break here. It was played seriously with brief lightness, unlike Pumpkin Scissors, which has too much humor in the wrong places. Serious moments are better without the bland underlings snarking.

So there’s some negatives. Let’s get some not-negatives.

Positives: Not much. Sometimes the manga can get a horrified chuckle out of me, like how the stoic (but polite) Randel in the previous chapter asks Alice to breastfeed a baby. “Lieutenant! Great! I need boobies!” SLAP. And Randel also supplies some wisdom when Alice goes mad trying to act common to apologize for her wealth. The ideas are smart, but it comes too rarely. That’s it.

Negatives: List? List.

1) Evil characters are flat-evil, not complex-evil. The first two chapters feature villains who are monster-minded madmen in tanks, and they play out the same.
2) I never once laughed sincerely. I despise the klutzy office-girl, and I loathe the two snippy underlings.
3) More of a company complaint, but I never liked Del Rey’s font. I like the little all-caps most places use.
4) The war is vague, and they might as well have gone with a natural freak weather electrical storm or something. At least as of this volume, the war isn’t often mentioned.
5) Characters who are evil has long noses, crooked grins, twitchy eyes. No subtlety.
6) Too much whitespace in some areas, too much blackspace in others.
7) The designs aren’t much to look at.
8) The action is confusing, and it’s not easy to tell what’s going on when tanks are involved.
9) Why “Pumpkin Scissors?”

Overall grade, with Art as D+, Story as B-, and Personal Interest a C-, I give it a C-. The series only lasted here with four more volumes, and with 19+ volumes in Japan. Wait, 19+? This is 2002 in origin. It has 19 volumes in 13 years? Oy vey.

COMPLETED! Doubt!!

Doubt!!

Yes, I actually read “Doubt!!” in full like I said I would. Read my review of volume one here.

Here’s the gist: Yes, I said that “Doubt!!” was better than I expected. And it did, in fact, keep me laughing throughout, up until the ending. But so does a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. That’s what it is; extremely episodic. Take a drama and give it elements from Scooby-Doo!, and there’s Doubt!!.

With the early Scooby-Doo! episodes, you know how it plays out. They go somewhere haunted, they get chased, they find out the villain was the one person they interacted with in the episode. Doubt!! is easily predictable as well. Ai is in love with So, and they’re happily dating. But what’s this? A new girl? Perhaps their student teacher, or a college woman? Could it be So’s betrothed, or his mom or a guy who wants to spite Ai? Those last two don’t deviate much. True, they aren’t interested in So romantically, but they, like the wave of girls, create a barrier between Ai and So. But it’s always resolved in the span of two to three chapters, so who cares? You know So won’t fully abandon Ai.

It’s sad, because I love how shallow the series is, but I didn’t want it to be shallow to the point of not deviating from the girlfriend garbage. Only occasionally do we get other, fun stories. Ai helps a hairy guy look presentable, but it’s his attitude that’s ugly, as he spreads rumors about Ai to coerce her into dating him. How about Mina, Ai’s best friend and ganguro girl who wistfully recalls her first, leading Ai and So to team up, throw away the sanity ball, and get the guy to take responsibility? And instead of all the chapters where Ai is catty about So’s girlfriends, how about So and his best friend Yuichiro fight over Ai?

As the series progresses, the plot laziness is worse. One story has a fat girl sabotage Ai because she’s jealous of her looks. When Ai finds out, the girl dares Ai to hit her. Now, in other series, they’d go “You’re not worth it,” or “I’m not like you.”

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I really do love this manga at times like this.

Both Ai and So then call her out for her ugly attitude, in a cruel but not unwarranted manner. And it’s great, it’s wonderful.

What’s the next chapter about?

Oh, Ai wants to diet? And they don’t even mention the previous chapter? And So calls Ai out for essentially the same thing as the fat girl? Couldn’t they have spaced this out more than zero chapters apart? By the way, the fat girl chapter is a slightly distorted version of the hairy guy chapter. Both want the hottest student in school, so they spread rumors. Then the nottie is publicly crushed by their respective hottie. Both are ugly inside and out.

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If you think that’s bad, try reading the girlfriend stuff.

Ai fights off a catty student teacher. She tries to shove Ai off a balcony. So chooses Ai. The teacher plots revenge. She never tries for real, and even helps Ai defeat some foes.

Ai fights off a catty college student. She tries to show So Ai’s low position by giving So a better watch than Ai. So chooses Ai. Ai chooses the college student, since it’s Christmas and So generally sucks. The college student does nothing of value thereafter. This is the best of the girlfriend sagas, but that’s not saying much.

Ai fights off So’s catty mom. So’s mom is cruel to him, and Ai doesn’t impress her as a girlfriend. Ai tries to make nice, but chooses So over listening to her complain about him. The mom reconciles with her son.

Ai fights off a guy spreading rumors about her. The guy tries to convince So that Ai is dating his best friend. So sees Ai chatting with Yuichiro. Come the next volume, it’s barely mentioned or acknowledged.

Ai fights off So’s forced betrothed. So has to transfer to her school. He never falls for her advances.

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Every time we chop off a plot, a new one regrows as if nothing happened. It does ruin the manga for those who want substance, but it’s a series about a girl who wants to be hot. Substance needs to eat in the alley. But then, I feel like author Kaneyoshi Izumi supplies plenty of substance within her stories. Endings aren’t completely predictable, otherwise shallow characters are compelling, and the very notion that it’s a shallow manga is fascinating.

How many shojo titles have you read where a girl is shy and the guys open her up and make her better? Here, they make her worse. How about manga where rivals lose but stick around, hoping to spring when the time is right? Doubt!! does that too, but in a way that says, “So is a toy that we only want when Ai has him.” And unlike most saccharine manga, Ai’s circle of friends maintains equilibrium, but her circle of foes is as wide as it is meaningless.

Now, I may be a simple youngin’ with unfancy values, but I’m pretty sure this manga had more than Ai and So. Right! Mina is in love with So’s bestie, Yuichiro, but it never goes anywhere and Yuichiro “forgets” that Mina “confessed.” I like these two, and I’m hardly happy they barely get screentime, albeit paneltime since this is a manga.

I’d say if you were to put the characters in that chaotic/neutral/lawful good/neutral/evil chart, Ai would be Lawful Good, Yuichiro True Good, Mina Chaotic Good, and So Chaotic Neutral. So is… oblivious to real emotions… y’know? So is infuriating most of the time because he’s honest, but not necessarily malicious, and because he’s private, which causes trouble. He uses people, mostly Ai, and nothing private ends up being that much of a concern.

Other times, So is great. Like when a snobby clerk was rude to Ai, So bought her and Mina dresses.

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I can’t be too mad at So because there’s enough moments like that.

Then there’s the ending.

Spoilers, for realzies.

Ai fights off the girl So’s engaged to’s catty sister. She apparently looks like Ai, although given the art, who can tell? Seems So only chose Ai because she looks like the girl, who’s the one So chooses. Why? Because she’s more messed up than Ai. Uh. They pull a “meet the loved one at the airport” (while they make fun of us low-class Americans). Say it with me: “So chooses Ai.” The sister leaves Japan, the ex-girlfriends gang up on Ai, and Doubt!! ends.

So, So… Did the author want this to be the ending, but was afraid she’d be cancelled without warning? She says in the last volume that it’s best to read the final chapters since her magazine switched and to read them in one sitting. Yeah, don’t follow that advice. It’s the same plot as usual, just the last one. No resolution for timid Yuichiro, no love for ganguro Mina. This is not how you should end a series, and I don’t blame them for it. It’s tedious in a six-volume set.

But I love it.

Doubt!!’s not drawn fantastically, the characters are a little flat and the plots get noticeably cruder, but it’s hilarious and it represents life we’ve all known. You want the life of the softer shojos, go for it. But if you want something new, something that likely hates you and loves how much it hates you, but is willing to make you laugh, pick up Doubt!!. You will regret it and have the time of your life doing so.

Also, here’s white Mina:

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Nobody in Japan likes ganguro, and America hates Jynx. Is this style gone yet?

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5 Least Good / Worst Yu-Gi-Oh! Manga Games

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Yu-Gi-Oh! is best known as an anime about card games. However, the manga started out as various games, like the game where you stab money over your hand, or reaching into a shoe for coins while a scorpion lies inside, waiting. Mostly games of daring.

But there’s some games that… suck. So here’s my five least favorite picks for the worst games in the first seven Yu-Gi-Oh! manga.

I’m gonna go with the original Japanese names, Yugi = Yugi, Tea = Anzu, Tristan = Honda, but I’m keeping Joey as Joey. I like Joey’s Western name.

5) Monster Fighter

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So it’s Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots? I can dig it, but that’s all there is. It’s more elaborate, fine, with the data chips and robot skills, but it’s Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots in the end. You can put lipstick on a robot, and it’ll still rock and sock. Somehow the rocking and socking attracts thieves. Look, I know it’d be cool in the real world to have this thing, but consider this: You have no space. Like, how can you gather crowds if five other people can watch? Tournaments? What a joke. And it really seems to boil down to button-mashing. What’s the point of strategy if you’re just doing any random thing?

And that’s the biggest problem: One of the big draws is how cunning Yami-Yugi is, how his strategy and cool demeanor helps him win. Here, the Spider could have one. There’s no cunning in that defeat; the opponent lost his cool. And don’t tell me using his cool to annoy the Spider was his strategy; when Yami Yugi played dice against a TV director, he used BOTH his cool attitude and his wits, turning the angry director’s win into a loss by holding up the puzzle when he threw the die, turning the six into a seven. But here? Nah, cracks in face.

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4) Love Letter Puzzle

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The only female character to face Yami Yugi in a Shadow Game, yet she never faced him. Face. Okay.

That stupid Ribon or Ribbon or Ribbbon was made a main character in Yu-Gi-Oh! Zero, but only to be Honda’s love interest. That’s like being Andy Dick’s understudy. She was way worse there than here. There, she fell for all the wrong guys, Kaiba included. Here, she told Honda flat-out that she didn’t like him. Case closed!

The issue is the way he asked her out. He put a puzzle, written by Yugi, under her desk. The creepy teacher did inspections, found the puzzle, and planned to expel whoever wrote it (Honda, since that’s how it’s signed). Forgetting how bad Honda is for not writing his own love letter, the teacher wanted to find condoms or cigarettes to expel kids and blow off steam. This? I know dating is forbidden at Domino High School, but so are part-time jobs. And it’s not like you can present the puzzle as evidence of dating. It’s a love letter, not a positive pregnancy test.

Yami Yugi puts her in a Shadow Game, and when she finishes, the real face under her makeup shows her true nature. Creepy and gross, she runs off, with Yami Yugi mentioning she’ll never be able to cover up her face.

You know, he’s faced murderers and the like before, but he never punishes them like he does normal jerks. The TV director only sees mosaic, some kid who steal Yugi’s puzzle has his soul put in a jar, but the serial killer, the thugs, the escaped convict, it’s always fire. No, look it up. They can recover from that.

Plus, who confesses in a puzzle? Not anyone who wants the answer to be “yes,” it seems.

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3) Capsule Monsters

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There was an anime of this, but not a game. I wonder why? Well, it’s a cool concept. Heck, it was the initial name for Pokemon. There’s five monsters per player, ranging from 1 to 5 levels. They have their own abilities. And there’s a number of different boards.

OH, THAT’S THAT! Who wants to lug around a giant board to play with friends? Cards in the pocket, easy. Not to mention the level difference. Why would anyone want to play with the Level 1 monsters? Sure, Torigun has that diagonal move, but it’s way better to have giant monsters. Seems like a lazy concept.

Plus, the first fight lacks an “evolution square.” Probably necessary for playing with Level 1’s, yeah?

And it really is just Duel Monsters, just dumbed down.
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He said, placing his monsters in one spot as well. This game needs a set starting point. Otherwise, you’d just set it up based on your foe’s layout.

2) Virtual Pets

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When virtual pets come to Domino, the gang compares their pets. Yugi’s is literally a head with limbs and Yugi hair. Hmm. Joey’s is a weird, sullen, uncute thug, but after kicking Yugi’s pet, they’re friends. Seriously, we get it, they’re their owners’ pets. Anzu has a cute peach, and Honda has nothing. Yeah, seems right.

But one classmate has a special pet. See, this virtual pet system has millions of different pets based on how they’re raised, but a mysterious pet emerges when you’ve done everything in a specific manner. They have black star on them, and–

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GAH!

He’s not really humanoid; all pets are non-digital in the perspective of the game. So how does a pet speak perfect human speech, and why isn’t it for all pets? WHO KNOWS? IT’S A GLITCH OR A VIRUS! PRETTY FREAKING NUANCED FOR A GLITCH!

The pet eats others when they combine keychains, but Yugi’s evolves… and it’s a Yami Yugi clone. Sigh. It kills this pet, only to die the next day. And that’s why Tamagotchi is bankrupt.

1) Death T’s Haunted Mansion Guillotine

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Kaiba should be in jail. He never goes, but he shouldn’t be allowed to do things like make parks.

Construction Worker: “Hey, this says you want a giant room for falling blocks that crush people.”
Kaiba: “And why isn’t it done?”
CW: “It’s highly illegal!”
K: “No, it’s a game! Like Tetris!”
CW: “Oh, I love Tetris!”
K: “Fantastic. Now, here’s the plans for the serial killer’s room.”

But I despise him for the guillotine. Oh, sure it’s only a guillotine that chops of hands. Nowhere near as evil as hiring three assassins to kill Yugi and company.

But think about it: Kaiba invited Yugi and had him bring Joey and Honda. The guillotine can be stopped by pressing the right button. There are four holes. The intention was for Yugi, Joey, and Honda to put their hands in the holes.

Now, how many people started Death T? Three. How many holes? Four. How many people are there at this point? Four. Who pressed the correct button?

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Gotta hand it to Anzu. If she wasn’t there… and that might have been Kaiba’s intention! And why put the clue there? The other games are rigged against them, so why does Kaiba play fair here? Unless… if Anzu wasn’t there, it could have been to rub his nose in it. And that’s against the rules.

Eensy Weensy Monster

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So “Weensy” is a word according to spellcheck, but not “Eensy.” Aren’t they mutually exclusive?

Masami Tsuda’s two-volume series, “Eensy Weensy Monster,” published by Tokyopop in the American and its subsequent States, which as said to be United. Might have to remove the “United” part one day, who knows. Then it could be the “SA,” though three letters would be better, right? Of? “States of America,” “SOA,” Sword Art On–” Oops.

And that’s why too much build-up can be disastrous. Sometimes the plot gets too muddled, or the ending doesn’t improve to suit the changes in the series, or you write so much that you forget what Sword Art Online’s acronym spells. So for the lover of simplicity in both plots and length, I present unto you “Eensy Weensy Monster.”

The gist is this: We all have “monsters” that are a part of us. Mine is that I’ve written manga reviews for five years and I still don’t know where to put my solid-gold treadmill. Nanoha Satsuki’s is that she blows her top around Hazuki Tokiwa, the handsome guy with a shield of girls around him. She calls him out for being a superficial prince, which shatters him to the core. This leads Hazuki to do some soul-searching and stay away from girls, other than Nanoha. Will these two get together? Is this a shojo or not?

The best parts of this manga feature Hazuki. Hazuki isn’t a bad guy, but he’s clueless about his own position. Nanoha is correct, and after asking the girls how they view him, they callously admit he’s not serious dating potential. After swearing off girls, he realizes he doesn’t have a single male friend. Eventually, this isolates him and helps him focus on friendship with Nahona. Ironically, he becomes dateable because he’s distant to the girls. His trials are hilarious and somewhat inspiring. It’s not often at that age you see teens in the prince position try to outgrow it.

Don’t get me wrong, Nahona’s funny enough, but her “monster” isn’t a big deal. She’s angry at one superficial brat, not even everyone of the same creed. And it’s not a huge flaw; it’s just sorted incorrectly. Nanoha is “average,” a word which means “authors try to make female protagonists so flat so the reader can put herself in that role, but Nanoha is too interesting to apply, so please try not to notice.” Her social anxiety is, in my opinion, her richest area of humor.

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There are other characters. From the secondary cast, I love Nobara. She’s the most popular girl in school, but is close friends with Nanoha. Nobara is dirt-poor, but her appearance doesn’t give it away. She makes Hazuki feel like less of a man, given she’s his rival for the girls (yep, an “all girls are latent lesbians” shtick). Nobara’s other friend is Renge, the schoool “princess,” but I cannot recall anything interesting about her. I mean, the manga is a few inches from me, and I’ve skimmed through, but she’s superfluous. Probably there to make Nanoha appear “average.”

Each character has an older sibling of the other gender, because… Uh??? World-building, I guess! World-building in a two-volume manga! But the series sharply narrows its attention on the leading two, and the entire point of the series was to make a year-long manga! You know those 365-day photo challenges? This is a 12-month manga challenge. That’s why it’s not complex, why it’s so short, why Masami Tsuda didn’t make another Kare Kano, also known as “His and Her Circumstances.” That was 9 years in the making, so one year for two volumes is a boon.

Kare Kano is similar to Eensy Weensy Monster. First, spellcheck recognizes the second word of each title, but not the first. More relevant, a girl hates a popular guy, the girl accidentally shows her hidden side to the guy, the guy makes sudden changes to himself which makes him more relatable to people, befriends the girl and they fall in love.

Kind of generic, but not as many series fit the bill as you think. Most mangaka repeat old ideas to seem new. Just look at every creator ever. Bay loves action so he makes robot cars and explosions, Burton loves the gothic so he puts black clothes and white skin everywhere, Toriyama loves science-fiction so he puts strong aliens and humanoid robots in his manga, Yoshinaga loves cooking, so she puts older gay men who loves to cook in her body of works.

And you can’t fault it, just like you can’t fault the sun for its heat or leather from amplifying said heat. It’s nature, and if you can bend it well enough, make your own Eensy Weensy Monster.

Art… Okay, I guess, but the heads are a tad too round, too goofy… Wait, those are the monsters. Nevermind. Way too much screentone for the background effects, which appear too often. And the designs really aren’t diverse enough. The closer to the ending, the lazier the backgrounds become.

For what it’s worth, a series like this is great. Like a breath of air after running a marathon, short manga series relieve tension and are necessary for breaking apart going from one tense environment to another. I don’t mean one-shots; one-shots are wildcards. Plenty of one-shots are anthologies, and you never get to stay with characters long enough. Two-volume manga permits that bond with the benefit of suitable levels of tension. If you can find it, pick up “Eensy Weensy Monster.”