Monday, July 18, 2016

Review: MONSTER HUNTER: Flash Hunter Volume 2

MONSTER HUNTER: FLASH HUNTER, VOL. 2
VIZ MEDIA – @VIZMedia

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

STORY: Keiichi Hikami
CARTOONIST: Shin Yamamoto
TRANSLATION: John Werry
ENGLISH ADAPTATION: Stan!
LETTERS: John Hunt, Primary Graphix
ISBN: 978-1-4215-8426-3; paperback (June 2016); Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
224pp, B&W, $10.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 U.K.

Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter is a 10-volume manga series written by Keiichi Hikami and drawn by Shin Yamamoto.  Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter is based on Capcom's Monster Hunter video game series that was initially developed for the PlayStation 2.

Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter is set in an age when monsters rule the world:  soaring through the sky, treading the earth, and filling the seas.  These monsters have forced humanity to survive on the fringes, so people rely on a special kind of hero to defend them from danger – the Monster Hunters.

Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter, Vol. 2 (Chapters 8 to 15) finds our Monster Hunter trio:  fledgling hunter, Raiga; veteran hunter, Keres; and hunter-scholar, Torche taking on a monster called a Rathian.  Known as the “Queen of the Land,” this creature is nearly impossible to defeat.  Can the Hunters stop a monster that can block out the sun?  Plus, the trio reunite to defend a small village from a monster rampage, but Raiga will find that this mission has summoned someone from his past.

[This volume includes the bonus chapters “Another Hunter,” Story 2 and Story 3 and also “Monhun and Me.”]

The Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter manga is a comic book for fans of the Monster Hunter game... I guess.  I don't think I had ever heard of the game before this manga.  In fact, in spite of its “Teen” rating, I think that preteen readers will like this; it is not as if this manga (or at least this volume) contains material that is inappropriate for them.

Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter Volume 1 does offer a menagerie of interesting and fearsome-looking monsters.  That is the one thing that attracts me to this manga because the characters are not doing much to interest me.  Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter, however, does have potential.  I can see the creative team getting more assured of what they are doing with each chapter.

B-

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"


The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Review: EVERYONE'S GETTING MARRIED Volume 1

EVERYONE’S GETTING MARRIED, VOL. 1
VIZ MEDIA – @VIZMedia

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

MANGAKA: Izumi Miyazono
TRANSLATION: Katherine Schilling
LETTERS: Inori Fukuda Trant
EDITOR: Nancy Thislethwaite
ISBN: 978-1-4215-8715-8; paperback (June 2016); Rated “M” for “Mature”
192pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK

Everyone's Getting Married is a manga from creator Izumi Miyazono.  Published under VIZ Media's “Shojo Beat” imprint, Everyone's Getting Married is a josei manga (comics for adult women).

Everyone's Getting Married, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 5) introduces 24-year-old Asuka Takanashi.  She is a successful career woman with an old-fashioned dream.  Asuka wants to get married and become a housewife.  She thinks that she is getting close to that dream, as she has been dating her boyfriend, 30-year-old Kouichi, for five years.  However, Kouichi abruptly breaks up with Asuka to pursue his own career goals.

At a get-together with some friends, Asuka encounters 28-year-old Ryu Nanami, a popular newscaster for the PTV network.  She finds herself attracted to the rumored womanizer, but Ryu says that he'd rather die than get married.

[This volume includes the bonus story, “The Melancholy of Nanaryu.”]

The Everyone's Getting Married manga is one of those manga that pits a man and woman at odds and/or with different personalities against one another.  In real life, such romances are destined to failure, sooner or later, even if they become a couple and get married (Cynical!).

Everyone's Getting Married Volume 1 offers a star-crossed pair that are destined to come together.  The narrative simply offers creator Izumi Miyazono a chance to show how skilled she is at bringing them together while maximizing the tension in order to keep the readers interested.  I am certainly interested in following the long and narrow rocky road to Asuka and Ryo's eventually union.

The clean storytelling matches the clean illustrations and the result is breezy graphical storytelling.  In some places, clean and crystal clear means dull, but overall, the Azuka and Ryo's situation is just too tantalizing to ignore.  I must qualify this review by saying that I am a sucker for shojo manga, especially when the shojo is sho'nuff on the josei side.

A-

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"


The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Review: BLACK CLOVER Volume 1

BLACK CLOVER, VOL. 1
VIZ MEDIA – @VIZMedia

[This review was  originally posted on Patreon.]

MANGAKA: Yuki Tabata
TRANSLATION: Satsuki Tamashita and Taylor Engel, HC Language Solutions, Inc.
LETTERS: Annaliese Christman
ISBN: 978-1-4215-8718-9; paperback (June 2016); Rated “T” for “Teen”
200pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK

Black Clover is a fantasy and action-adventure manga from mangaka, Yuki Tabata, which began serialization in Japan's Weekly Shonen Jump manga magazine in 2015.  The series focuses on Asta, an orphaned boy who dreams of becoming the greatest mage in the kingdom.

Black Clover, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 7; entitled The Boy's Vow) opens in the village of Hage where we meet Asta.  His dream is to one day be the “Wizard King,” the greatest mage in the land, but he has one big problem.  He can't use magic.  When he is 15-years-old, Asta and fellow orphan and rival, Yuno, travel to a tower full of grimoires (books of magic) where other 15-year-olds hope that a grimoire will choose them.

A grimiore will enhance one's magical power, but what if you don't have magical powers, as is the case with Asta?  Can someone who cannot use magic really become the Wizard King?  A rare “five-leaf-clover” grimoire” will begin to answer those and other questions.

I call manga like the Black Clover manga “magical boy” comics.  These are shonen manga that tell the story of a boy who has great power or has the potential to achieve great power.  That boy goes on a journey throughout his tween' and/or teenage years in which he grapples with learning magic; struggles to grow within himself; learns to depend on his friends or be part of a team; and reaches his potential, all while facing some great evil and/or dark conspiracy.  Sounds like Harry Potter, right?

Black Clover Volume 1 reminds me of some of my favorite shonen manga, including Naruto, Bleach, and Blue Exorcist.  Unlike the young male heroes of those manga and unlike Harry Potter, the lead character of Black Clover, young Mr. Asta, has no innate magical power (that we know of at this early point in the series).  However, his scrappy determination and his willingness to learn about new people, places, and things make him an attractive character.  I think many readers can identify with Asta, who has nothing and comes from nothing, but does not accept his limitations.

Black Clover's back story and internal mythology is intriguing, although (once again) we know very little about these things.  This series has the potential to run for a long time, as it slowly leaks out hints about the way things are.  Black Clover is one of the best new series of the year for young readers.

A

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"


The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

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Friday, July 1, 2016

I Reads You Still in Sleep Mode

I still will not do the solemn fake thing.  I'll just come right out with it.  I am putting I Reads You in sleep mode.  This is not really a hiatus, as I plan on rousing I Reads You from slumber and posting on her from time to time.

I am shifting most of what I post here to my Negromancer blog.  Right now, it is not financially feasible to spend time maintaining two blogs, and Negromancer's numbers are 10 times what I get here.  Because of some new sales tax law, Amazon now excludes my home state of Louisiana from its "Amazon Associates" program.

Despite the fact that many people read this blog and many even "borrow" the material that I post here, I do not receive any donations to support I Reads You.  With the Amazon Associates program unavailable to me and the Google Ad program largely a scam of unpaid promises, I Reads You is penniless.

I do appreciate all the visitors that I have received since I first began I Reads You back in September 2009.  Please, come back some now and again, and there may be something new to read.

Leroy Douresseaux

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Review: QQ SWEEPER Volume 3

QQ SWEEPER, VOL. 3
VIZ MEDIA – @VIZMedia

MANGAKA: Kyousuke Motomi
TRANSLATION: JN Productions
ENGLISH ADAPTATION: Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane
LETTERS: Eric Erbes
ISBN: 978-1-4215-8633-5; paperback (June 2016); Rated “T” for “Teen”
192pp, B&W, $9.99 US, $12.99 CAN, £6.99 U.K.

The paranormal, romantic shojo manga, QQ Sweeper, comes to an end.  Created by mangaka Kyousuke Motomi, who also created the manga, Dengeki Daisy and Beast Master, QQ Sweeper is an adventure about two “Soul Cleaners,” one an expert, the other a novice – who fall in love.

QQ Sweeper begins on the day, Kyutaro Horikita, the cleaning expert of Kurokado Private High School, finds a maiden sleeping in an old room on campus.  She is transfer student Fumi Nishioka, and like Kyutaro, she has a talent for cleaning.  However, the tall, dark, and handsome Kyutaro is also a “Sweeper,” someone who cleans away negative energy from people's heart, and Fumi is now his apprentice.

As QQ Sweeper, Vol. 3 (Chapters 11 to 15) begins, Fumi rethinks her plan to leave the home of Kyutaro and his family.  She feels a sense of calm living and working with them, and Fumi begins to except the amorous feelings she has for Kyutaro.

Meanwhile, classmate Kaori Tachibana begins acting strangely towards Fumi during what is supposed to be a karaoke outing with friends.  The trouble seems to be emanating from Ataru Shikata, a so-called fortune teller, who is really a “Bug Handler.”  And he has big plans for Fumi.

The QQ Sweeper manga seemed unusual from its first volume.  Well, the series cements its unusual nature because it has come to a quick or, as I think, an abrupt end.

QQ Sweeper Volume 3 is the final volume of this particular iteration of the story of Fumi Kyutaro.  Fumi and Kyutaro will return in a new series apparently called Queen's Quality.  As for the end of QQ Sweeper, Kyousuke Motomi will leave you wanting more.  In fact, by the end of Vol. 3, you will think that there is no way the series could end with so much left unanswered and because the story has the potential to offer even more to the readers.

Well, however that works out, QQ Sweeper is short-but-good.  So, yes, good things do come in small packages.  This romance, dark fantasy, and mystery drama is worth a shojo reader's time.

A-

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"


The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Book Review: WORLD GONE BY

WORLD GONE BY
HARPCOLLINS/William Morrow – @HarperCollins; @WmMorrowBks

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

AUTHOR: Dennis Lehane
ISBN: 978-0-06-235181-4; paperback (January 5, 2016)
320pp, B&W, $16.99 U.S., $21.00 CAN

World Gone By is a 2015 crime and mystery novel from the author Dennis Lehane.  The trade paperback edition was released this past January.  The book is part of Lehane's “Coughlin series” and is set ten years after the events chronicled in the novel, Live By Night (2012).  World Gone By focuses on a former crime boss haunted by his past while trying to learn the identity of the people who don't want him to have a future.

World Gone By finds Joseph “Joe” Coughlin alive and well in 1943, ten years after his enemies killed his wife, Graciela, and destroyed his empire.  He is no longer a kingpin.  Now, he is consigliore to the Bartolo crime family, traveling between Tampa and Cuba, his wife’s homeland.  He is a master businessman and gangster who effortlessly moves through the Tampa, Florida criminal underworlds run by both White men and Black men, as well as the Cuban underworld.  Joe's son,  Tom├ís, is growing up and is exceptionally bright and intelligent.  Life is good.

Then, Joe receives a summons from Theresa Del Fresco, a thief and contract killer doing time in Raiford State Prison.  She claims that someone has ordered a hit on Joe, and she claims to know who the hit man is.  Since he is no longer a boss, Joe wonders who would want him dead.  If that weren't enough, Joe seems to be haunted.  The ghost of a young boy appears on the fringes of Joe's visions and seems to be trying to tell Joe something.  It seems that Joe's success cannot protect him from the realities of a gangster's life, and the debts of a lifetime of sin will be paid in full.

People who have never read one of Lehane's many novels (11 previous, as of this writing) may know his work because some of his novels have been adapted into film.  A film adaptation of World Gone By's predecessor, Live By Night, directed by Ben Affleck, will be released later in 2016.  Other Lehane-based films include the Oscar-winning Mystic River, the Oscar-nominated Gone, Baby, Gone, and also Shutter Island.

So, if you know these movies, then you know their stories are dark and violent, sometimes with an even darker ending.  World Gone By reminds me of the movie Good Fellas, and while it has a darker tone and covers a much shorter time span than the Scorsese film, World Gone By tells a story of gangsters that is just as riveting.

Lehane offers a tale that grows increasingly complex and is populated with great characters.  The complexity of the plot reflects Joe Coughlin's profession or lifestyle, one marked by greed, violence, dishonesty, betrayal and delusion.  What Joe wants in life often puts him in conflict with his friends, partners, lovers, business associate, etc, although none of them will admit it.  Eventually, this clash of greed, lust, and envy creates an intricate web of deceit, so it is difficult not to end up in a bind or to even end up dead.

As for the characters:  any character that is featured in more than one of this book's 26 chapters, Lehane gives the readers at least a short but detailed look into his or her's life, past, and ambitions.  If a character has a major interaction with Joe, but is only in the novel for the one scene, Lehane opens the book of life on that character.  Why?  I suspect that Lehane wants to give the reader a good view of the people who populate the world in which Joe Coughlin plies his illicit trade.  It is hard not to buy into this narrative when the author opens so many characters to the readers

There is a theme here.  Gangsters, those who work as basically gangster support staff, and many of those who provide goods and services to gangsters are fucked-up people, or are at least broken mentally and spiritually.  Death, destruction, and, at the very least, ruin are practically the inevitable result of such a life.  It is easy to like Joe Coughlin; after all, he is the lead, but Lehane is honest about Joe.  By the end, I wondered how reliable a narrator Joe was or even if were at all a reliable narrator

Obviously, I like this book.  World Gone By is more than just a gangster novel.  The complex way in which he depicts and examines morality is why Dennis Lehane is more than just a crime novelist and why he is so popular and respected.  Lehane is an archaeologist, excavating the dark recesses of the American character, while the body is still alive and kicking.

A

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"


The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Manga Review: SCHOOL JUDGMENT Volume 3

SCHOOL JUDGMENT, VOL. 3
VIZ MEDIA– @VIZMedia

STORY: Nobuaki Enoki
ART: Takeshi Obata
TRANSLATION: Mari Morimoto
LETTERS: James Gaubatz
ISBN: 978-1-4215-8568-0; paperback, (June 2016); Rated “T” for “Teen”
216pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK

School Judgment: Gakkyu Hottei is a shonen manga / courtroom drama set in an elementary school classroom.  This manga was published in the pages of Japan's Weekly Shonen Jump and was written by Nobuaki Enoki and drawn by Takeshi Obata (Death Note).

School Judgment focuses on the two new transfer students who enroll at Tenbin Elementary School in Himawari City.  Both students become members of Class 6-3, and both are lawyers.  The first is Pine Hanzuki, and while she may be cute, she is a ruthless prosecutor.  The next is Abaku Inugami; he is a superb defense attorney, and his hobby is “ronpa.”  Here, all quarrels bypass the teachers and are settled by some of the best lawyers in the country, who just so happen to be elementary school students.

As School Judgment: Gakkyu Hottei, Vol. 3 (entitled Civil Trial Arc; Chapters 17 to 21 to Finale) opens, Tento Nanahoshi is in trouble again.  He was Abaku's first defense client at Tenbin.  Now, Tento is charged with the attempted murder of fellow classmate, Reiko Shiratori, and ultimate student prosecutor, Yui Kijima, is determined to put Tento away for a long time.

Abaku, however, believes that this case involves more than what initially seems obvious.  This trial, or classroom session, could solve the mystery of the “Red Ogre.”  Now, Tento, Kotaro Sarutobi (fellow attorney), and Yui can learn who killed their classmates at their old school.

[This volume includes two School Judgment one-shots.]

The School Judgment: Gakkyu Hottei manga has come to an end.  On a few occasions, I found the series a bit tedious, but I thought the series could run for awhile.  After all, kids are always up to no-good.  Besides this series is drawn by Takeshi Obata, an artist known for some truly unique manga, especially Bakuman。and Death Note, and I always want more of him.

School Judgment: Gakkyu Hottei Volume 3 offers a satisfying conclusion, in so much as it answers questions about the characters' pasts.  I have to say that I am impressed at how writer Nobuaki Enoki and artist Takeshi Obata can draw out the suspense, making several characters seem like bad guys when they really are not.  It's a red herring holiday.  It is a shame though, that Pine Hanzuki is pushed into the background these final chapters.

The final volume also gives readers a chance to see the early manga from which this series was born.  Still, School Judgment could have judged at least a few more volumes.

A-

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"


The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

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