Author Topic: Krozam's Manga Diary  (Read 33180 times)

Offline Krozam

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2012, 03:54:51 pm »
Thank you, Haxton. Indeed, though the topic's name is "Krozam's Manga Diary", it's not intended solely for me to post. It's more interesting if more people contribute. I might do this again in the future, ask someone else to write a review on a specific manga.

As for me, apart from reading Maoyuu Maou Yuusha upon Haxton's recommendation, I've just finished re-reading and catching up with Kami to Sengoku Seitokai by Akahori Satoru and Takada Ryousuke.



This is a very underrated manga that isn't nearly as well known as it deserves to be. Maybe it's because of this unfortunate lack of appreciation that no group has finished scanlating this manga, even though it's been complete for a few years now. It's about halfway translated. It's vexing, but I don't have any means to get the project moving, though if I had, it'd be very high on my priority list. I love this manga.

Don't take me wrong, this isn't one of those deep and intelligent stories for which I usually save my highest praise. It's simply entertaining as fuck. Kinda like Kaze no Stigma: objectively thinking I can point out numerous weaknesses in it, but somehow it's just the most entertaining anime I've ever watched.

Now, where to start...? Well, the protagonist, of course, since he's by far the most awesome thing in the story. He starts out as a pretty ordinary, unlucky male lead, but within two volumes he evolves into one of the coolest protagonists ever. His quick power-up could be viewed as a weakness in the pacing, but somehow it fits the story.

Mom, dad... You once said there is no such thing as a man who will resist when a woman gives herself willingly... but when I say no... I MEAN NO!

Katsuragi Musashi is the kind of protagonist who seems like a man with some serious balls whether he's refusing a woman's advances or acting like the worst kind of womanizer. And yes, he does both. He has a harem, too, and for once I find it completely fitting. You see, his two personalities cover pretty much every base: normally he's a kind, good-natured guy who cares deeply for his friends - in his animorphose mode he's overwhelmingly powerful, seriously badass, forceful with women, an alpha-male if I've ever seen one. His charisma is way off the chart, especially compared to all other harem leads I've seen.

Listen up! You members of the Council of 10... belong to me. And since you belong to me... if anyone lays a finger on you... I'M GONNA MAKE 'EM PAY!

No wonder they soon start calling him with titles such as "king", "lord" and "master". Even though he's just a student council president. In a school which stands between the world and its end, the Ragnarök.

The other characters are great, too. Like any good shounen fighting manga, Kami to Sengoku Seitokai is loaded with interesting, memorable characters; a weak, bullied guy with a great character development, a hot catgirl, a funny friend who turns out to be one of the most kickass characters in the story, a bi-sexual reverse trap, and a loli "lamb" who's oddly eager to get "devoured" by the "wolf", just to give a few examples. The reason why everything is overshadowed by Musashi is not because the other characters can't hold their spotlight, it's simply because Musashi is so overwhelmingly awesome.

The female lead is pretty cool and interesting in her own way, although I think feminists would be appalled by how eager she's to literally chain herself to Musashi, to give herself to him and to call him "Master". ;D I guess the author likes his women submissive... Overall, I can't help thinking the manga is a bit... sexist. While most of the female characters are strong and even cool, there's clear symbology in Musashi's alpha male attitude and how almost every woman in the story wants him. Well, harems and sexism in general is nothing new in Japanese stories, and I don't think there's reason to think too deep into this, just enjoy the awesome story.

There's quite a bit of character development, despite the heavy focus on action. Much of it is done through mid-battle flashbacks, but I wouldn't say that flashbacks are overused in this manga. I'm actually quite impressed by how much character development the authors have managed to stuff into five volumes, despite the pretty large amount of characters, fast pace, and heavy focus on battles. I really like many of the characters, they grew on me quickly. Overall, I'd say the writer is considerably more skilled, as far as pacing and storyflow go, than most mangaka. I think that's pretty common in manga with two authors: after all, being a great artist doesn't make you a good storyteller, but few artists are willing to draw another writer's story unless it's really good. The manga market is flooded with average or worse manga just because any manga seems to get through as long as it's well-drawn, no matter how bad the story is. IMO, more mangaka should cooperate with professional storywriters instead of doing their own story, although of course there are good and bad results from both methods.

The art in this one is pretty damn good, in my opinion, though not everyone likes such heavy and dark style. Some character designs may need some getting used to (for example, I didn't like Mami's design at first), but they're all individual. The artist isn't the most versatile expression artist out there, but he's passable. There's a fair amount of pretty well-drawn ecchi, both in comedic and battle scenes, though I never really got the feeling that it interferes with the story. It's just a spice, as it should be, though rarely it even has a purpose in the plot. The battle scenes are where the artist really steps up his game (in addition to when drawing the main character pair), they're awesome.

The battles are awesome in other ways, too. They're entertaining, reasonably intelligent, and they usually advance the plot. One thing I love in this manga is its use of pairs: I've always loved fighting pairs, and this manga has plenty of them. A cool character is cool, two are cooler, but two who fight as a pair are definitely the coolest. Regardless of whether they're lovers, brothers, friends or rivals.

The plot is nothing amazing, and neither is there anything particularly thematically deep about the story, but as I said in the beginning, this manga is all about entertainment value. Although it's arguable whether the fast pace works for its favour or against it, I personally am quite happy with the pacing. It keeps things moving almost constantly, there isn't a boring moment is the manga. The level of suspension of disbelief required is easily within acceptable bounds for me, and I think the pros just might outweigh the cons. At least it's not another Naruto/Bleach.

All in all, I highly recommend Kami to Sengoku Seitokai, especially to those who like their protagonists badass and over-powered. Characters - all of them, not just Musashi - are the strongest point in this manga. The art is great as well. The entertainment value is potentially very high, although naturally I don't expect everyone to enjoy it as much as I do, because it's so well up my alley.

Music: 30 Seconds to Mars - Night of the Hunter

Man, I wrote another wall of text... and I wrote it twice, lost the first version by accident just when it was ready. This better get someone to read the damn manga... >.<

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Offline Krozam

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2012, 10:53:12 am »
A short review for a change: Isuca by Takahashi Osamu



This is a nice shounen-y seinen manga, though not particularly innovative. The only thing seinen about it is the ecchi: nipples are shown frequently. Otherwise it's a pretty standard light shounen manga where a tsundere girl with special powers and a seemingly ordinary guy - who also turns out to have special powers - team up, defeat some evil spirits and gradually fall in love. Naturally, a bunch of other girls butt in and it becomes a harem. Quite comparable to, say, Zero no Tsukaima.

Like Louise, the female lead is a flat-chested, short, cute tsundere. She's better balanced, though, not quite as abusive and shows her dere side a little more often. She's also much more adept at using her powers, which makes her actually useful in battle. Useless in housework, which leads to Toradora-like elements in her relationship with the male lead,

The male lead, on the other hand, is a semi-useless ordinary guy, who ends up under her thumb. Unlucky in that he gets frequently hit, lucky in that it's nearly always after he sees or touches something good. Almost unreasonably nice to all the girls in his harem and patient with the female lead. Not altogether unlikeable, and surprisingly reliable in some situations, but the one thing that makes him interesting is his power, which leads to a fair bit of fun and interesting relationship twists.

It's got some nice action and comedy, a fairly promising romance and plenty of quite (in)decent ecchi. It's so clichéd that I can't call it a great manga, but it's quite entertaining, so I'll call it a good one instead. It's well worth reading if the premise is at all up your alley, especially if you happen to like tsunderes.

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2012, 07:09:28 pm »
Kubera by Currygom



You know the relieved feeling when you realise that you almost dropped a fantastic manga/anime because the beginning was uninteresting? "Thank god I decided to read a little further!" Well, this is the kind of feeling I got when reading the manhwa Kubera. I'm not a fan of the format (long pages, you have to scroll down a lot to see everything) and the beginning really isn't that interesting, so I nearly dropped it after the first two chapters. Ten chapters later, however, I was hooked.

Kubera's art isn't all that impressive, but it's fully coloured, so it might be a "soft landing" for those not used to B&W comics. It also gradually improves over time, though not at an easily noticeable pace. The author's sense of dramatics is pretty good, though, so sometimes she (I assume the author is female, that's the impression I get from the story and characters) really makes good use of the colours and creates impressive scenes, especially of late.

Characters are in my opinion the strongest point of this story. Although the main character is like a female version of usual idiot shounen protagonist (minus the pervertedness), she doesn't really end up in embarrassing situations much, so she doesn't annoy me. And later on, she has some really entertaining dialogue with a certain male character, turning thick-headedness into an advantage, which raised her points in my eyes a lot.

Her companion is a cold bitch most of the time (she does have softer moments as well), the female version of the classic shoujo male protagonist, so I dislike her a bit, but I can't deny that she's an intriguing, multi-dimensional character.

The major characters are divided into three groups. The second group consists of two antagonists, later joined by a third with unclear motives. They're all great characters. The first two have their pasts and motivations rather thoroughly explored, which gives them a lot of depth, and the third one is delightfully mysterious and intriguing. They're all male, cool, and relatively sympathetic considering they're antagonists.

The third group is a female-male pair. I'm neutral towards the girl, she has depth but her personality is so mild it leaves me cold. The male, however, does not leave you cold - and it's not just because he's a fire-god. He's amusing, intriguing, multi-dimensional and very likeable.

The settings are also very interesting. It's a fantasy world, but it draws deep on the rich Indian mythology. This world, its magic system, history, society etc. are well thought out and interesting. The plot keeps you on your toes: it's not predictable even though some character can see glimpses of the future. It might be because the ultimate goal of the story isn't apparent. The goal of each character is clear, but how they plan to achieve it isn't always apparent, and the fact that every character seems to have their own goals - which often conflict each other - complicates things even more. I have no idea how this story's going to end, and I'm far from sure that the main character's goal is the one that's going to prevail in the end.

Kubera is surprisingly good, and it improves constantly. It's not very fast-paced, but after the first few chapters, it never gets boring, IMO. Great characters, interesting world, avoidance of the good vs. evil cliché and unpredictable plot are the most important elements of good fantasy, and Kubera has them all. Apart from the beginning, it deserves 4½ stars from me - but as a whole I'd rate it 4/5.

Music: I listened to the Two Steps from Hell album Pathogen, which includes this kind of tracks:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zovOPTaOX8Q
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3p3c0auE1YQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8tJFIXY2Ko
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHaIeeIEDME
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yetx-j6HiOE
« Last Edit: January 21, 2012, 07:35:25 pm by Krozam »

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2012, 04:29:23 pm »
Trinity Seven: 7-nin no Mahoutsukai by Saitou Kenji and Nao Akinari



It's a rare treat, a manga that always does well whatever it does. Trinity Seven only falls short of that with one thing, and even to that one thing I'd give a passing grade. It's only disappointing in comparison to every other element in the manga.

This manga could turn out to be something that I've wanted to see for a long time: Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou done right. Of course I don't know if the original light novels do it right, but that anime was serious waste of a fantastic concept. Trinity Seven has a remarkably similar concept, and it's doing things right. High quality ecchi that never feels like waste of space, absolutely hilarious comedy that never fails to make me laugh, a genuinely interesting plot, an innovative magic system and great characters. The one thing I find lacking are the battles, of which there haven't been many so far.

Apart from the top-class comedy, the element that most stands out among all the good things is the main character. He's very, very awesome. He's nonchalant beyond belief, he takes almost everything in stride, which gives him a rather rare kind of coolness. He's a harem lead who can walk into a naked girl in a bath and casually excenge greetings with her; jokingly propose to a girl; be decisive, serious and somewhat badass when he needs to; and most amazingly, be perverted without seeming despicable. He does have an innocent side to him, but all in all, he's a refreshing change from all those wimps, idiots, innocent boys and disgusting perverts that you usually get for harem leads. He's not quite as awesome a harem lead as Musashi (from Kami to Sengoku Seitokai), but he's close.

Of course, a character like him wouldn't work quite so well were everything around him not so... tailored for him. Much of his strength (or rather, ability) comes from his grimoire; his nonchalant, difficult-to-surprise nature only has such an impact because the world around him is so crazy; his pervertedness wouldn't be so hilarious were not so many of the girls around him just as perverted and quite willing to go with the harem route; and a great deal of the comedy comes from the funny character dynamics between him and everyone else. The supporting cast seems to almost be defined by their relations to him. There's the equally unfazed girl who wants to be his wife, there's the "serious" girl who gets easily embarrassed and hits him occasionally, there's the sweet (though a bit perverted) little sister type girl who looks up to him, there's the headmaster whose sense of humour is very similar to his... All in all, it makes for great comedy, but the price is a rather one-dimensional cast of supporting characters. We'll see if this changes in the future.

The art style is very much for my liking: it's clear, the character designs are good, the facial expressions are pretty good, the battle scenes have some fairly impressive panels, and the ecchi is good. Mind you, the ecchi being "good" isn't enough, it can still feel like it's waste of space - fortunately, in this manga it usually serves the purpose of comedy as well, and like most things, it does it well, so all is fine as far as I'm concerned.

As I mentioned earlier, battles are the one element where this manga doesn't excel. So far they've been short, and the art, despite some impressive panels, doesn't really give the movement sufficient fluidity. They feel... meh. Unexciting. Not exactly bad, there's some great dialogue there, but compared to everything else, it's definitely an element that lowers the overall score.

Trinity Seven is definitely one of the best manga I've ever read. It's not quite in top 5, but I'd rate it 4½/5 stars, with a clear potential to eventually rise to the 5-star class. Improve the battles, give the supporting cast some more depth and dimension (even at the cost of some comedy effect), and we're there. I already know two other people who've liked this manga, so I'm not afraid to say that Trinity Seven comes with my highest recommendations.

Music: Lama - Fantasy and Kobayashi Yuu - Fight or Flight, mostly. Edit: Later, also Iwasaki Taku - Flame.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2013, 04:12:24 am by Krozam »

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Offline Krozam

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #19 on: February 16, 2012, 03:48:30 pm »
Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru by Juuji Juuji and Nanasuke



I never thought I'd ever say this in my life, but I'm actually enjoying a love triangle. This manga is unique enough to give it a new flavour. The protagonist is a boy whose parents are divorced and who hates romance. He has a childhood friend who likes him but isn't entirely aware of it at first. Then enters a beautiful, popular girl who blackmails him into a fake relationship, because she also hates romance and wants to get rid of her numerous male fans. It's a simple setup, but enables lots of hilarity.

Too bad hilarity isn't exactly the strong point of this manga. The comedy is mostly so-so, though there are moments that give me good laughs. A romantic comedy with mediocre comedy... I must say, despite its many good points, the entertainment value of this manga isn't great.

However, this romantic comedy has quite possibly the best plot and deepest, most complex characters I've ever seen in a story of this genre. And yes, that includes TWGOK. The three central characters are all amazing in their own way. The protagonist with his unpretentiousness, courage and good heart. The childhood friend with the strength found in her petite body and wounded mind. And my favourite, the fake girlfriend, who contantly surprises me and keeps me on the edge - I can never quite tell what the heck she's thinking. One moment she's hugging him, smiling like the happiest girl in the world, the next moment she's smiling evilly and claiming it's all an act. I sense she has a painful backstory, like the two others, and I can't wait to read it. I have a theory about how the diary is involved in that backstory...

As for the plot... Well, this is honestly the first time ever I've found myself theorizing while reading a romantic comedy. It tooks me a few chapters to realize it, but there's a surprising amount of depth and intelligence in this plot. Seemingly trivial details may suddenly gain major importance, and I often get the feeling that everything is not as it seems. I thought Kagami no Kuni was intelligent for a romcom, but it can't hold a candle to this. TWGOK, on the other hand, is overall a better manga, and it's very intelligent as well... but this just might surpass it in some areas, given some more time to develop.

The art is pretty simple, and at first I didn't think much of it. It's not bad, but it's not high-class stuff either. However, I really like the girlfriend's character design, I find her really cute. Also, some scenes are well dramatised, though I feel that most of the honour for that goes to the writing. In the 9th chapter I seriously felt the chills, it was so f*cking awesome almost since the beginning. The protagonist earned my eternal respect in that chapter. And there's a beautiful 2-page spread in the 10th chapter. Some scenes are truly touching, in various ways, despite the fact that there are only ten chapters out and often those scenes could be better... built up. The storyflow, especially in the beginning, is a bit weak IMO. Still, awesome scenes are awesome scenes, regardless of what happens between them.

Then there's the romance. It's a triangle, and a very even one at that, you can't tell yet which one is going to win his heart. Usually I hate that, and I do have a favourite now, too... but all the characters and the plot are just so good that I can't help thinking, the triangle might actually improve the story from what it could be otherwise. The character dynamics are very well thought out, and apart from the mediocre comedy, they work well and keep things constantly interesting. And I sense a high potential for an actually touching romance... once those two get over their hate for romantic love. <.<

Overall, I'd give this stars. Barely. It needs much better comedy, and some storyflow and art improvement, for full 5 stars - but I'd say that the potential to eventually rise into that highest class of manga is still there. An excellent read for those who appreciate intelligence, subtlety and depth in their romance.

Music: Nothing really hit me until the awesomeness of the 9th chapter. There, finally, Faster by Within Temptation clicked.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2012, 04:50:42 pm by Krozam »

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Offline Zarich

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #20 on: February 24, 2012, 10:13:33 am »
Sup People, Tis Zarich, Most of you new ones might have seen me just with a passing comment. I have the approval of Krozam to write reviews, so here we go, Tonight, written in the wee hours of the Californian' Morning...

Sugar Dark: Umerareta Yami to Shoujo by Mebae. Art by Ooiwa, Kenji



Before I start the review let me ask you a question. When you walk down the street, and see a Dark Alley, a Graveyard, or just the world at night, what do you see? Does your imagination go wild? What do you see in the dark?

Sugar Dark is about Muol, a 16 year old soldier sent to spend the rest of his life digging graves for the crime of killing his superior. Muol then meets a mysterious girl named Meria (or Melia, I will be using Meria for this review), who walks the graveyard at night. Every day he digs graves and every night he converses with Meria. But, who...or what is meant to be buried in the graves?

But really, the Romance between Muol and Meria is just a Red Herring. Behind these two is the classic story of Good Versus Evil, Progression and Tradition, Man and his greatest Fear, the creature that can never truly be killed no matter what. The creature that appears where ever there is no light. The Darkness.

Now, creatures hidden in the darkness appears in many forms of media. In Doctor who, they are the Vasha Nerada, in biblical texts it is the devil. In Sugar dark, this isn't just a creature hiding in the shadows. They are the Shadows, creatures of pure darkness that used to rule like gods that commanded mankind in history. What else do you think the DARK ages were about?

To the actual manga, the two story lines intertwines well and the manga itself has many elements of different genres as to do make it hard to say what actual type of manga it is. It has elements of Military, Horror, Comedy, Guro, Action, Romance, Supernatural, Fantasy all rolled into one package. The manga series is just giving pictures to the actual book Sugar Dark, the winner of Kodakawa Shoten's 14th (iirc) Sneaker Award, an award that has also graced LNs such as the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

The art itself is well done. Ooiwa Kenji, whose art can also be seen in mangas like Welcome to the NHK, does a great job blending Manga art with semi realism, creating a dark atmosphere throughout this whole manga. Kenji shows that he doesn't screw around with art, when he going to make something frightening, he will.

Sugar Dark only has three characters with actual names. There is Muol, the soldier, Meria, the mysterious girl who only appears at night and Karas, a mysterious child-like person with Goat pupils and only appears in the day. These Characters are all interesting and leaves us room to guess who or what they are as the story progresses as we start out not knowing really who these people are. Though we do get to know Muol more at the start as he is our MC in this story. The only other character to talk about is the man who owns this cemetery, a short man with no nose, sort of reminiscent of the Crypt Keeper.

Sugar Dark came with a bang. At first I only picked it up due to the similarity to a great fantasy manga I have read numerous times, Shina Dark. But as the days and weeks passed by, I read it for the story, the characters, the atmosphere, everything. This manga is one of my favorites, my only qualm is that it is 19 chapters. But, unlike a lot of stories, it closes. It actually has an ending. So if you are in well, any mood. Read this manga, this review is not doing it justice.

If you want music, I can't really recommend any as nothing fits the whole atmosphere for the whole story.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2012, 10:28:00 am by Zarich »

Offline Krozam

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #21 on: August 21, 2012, 05:21:58 pm »
I broke my self-imposed manga ban. For one night, for one manga. I don't regret it.

Zetsuen no Tempest by Shirodaira Kyou and Saizaki Ren



Holy fuck that was awesome. I only intended to check out a few chapters in order to get an idea of what to expect from the upcoming anime, but it's kinda hard to pull out from a manga this mindblowingly awesome.

What's so awesome about it? Two things, mainly: the main characters and the plot. I was originally intrigued because the concept is very much up my alley, with there being two main characters, friends who fight together. I've said this before, but I really like badass fighting pairs, be they friends or rivals, lovers or siblings. Zetsuen no Tempest far exceeded my modest expectations, the main characters are both badass incarnate. Not the gar way, one of them is just immensely cool and the other is the intelligent badass type. And they really fight together, as I'd hoped for, though their relationship also has some delicious issues, especially in relation to a certain major character who only appears in flashbacks. They aren't just badass, they're pretty deep, too.

After a few chapters, the plot started getting really good. It was a bit confusing at first, not even all that interesting, but after the first two or three chapters I was mindblown, like, once a chapter. It's a deliciously twisty, and yet entirely coherent plotline. There are some pacing issues, frequent time skips and scenes that seem to last forever, but the story and characters are simply so good that I wasn't bothered in the least. Never thought I'd see a mexican standoff lasting about two manga volumes and being one of the most epic things I've ever seen or read.

The dialogue is good, but rather than being entertaining banter, it's good because it delivers the plot so well. It's the brilliance of the plot and how it's advanced so much by dialogue alone (though of course there are actions as well, not just talk) that makes the dialogue good. It also delivers dramatic moments pretty well.

The art is great. Not top-class, but very close. The guys' character designs are great, if you happen to like a bit shoujo-ish art... well, just check the picture. There are some issues with the female character designs at first, but the artist is clearly improving in that field, the girls are getting cuter by the chapter. Other than characters, the artist is a bit lazy with the backgrouds in normal pages, just like most manga artists, but the epic two-page spreads are truly epic. The faces convey emotions... adequately. There's space for improvement in that field as well, but some expressions, expecially cold and merciless ones, are seriously good.

The action is overall well done. Some scenes are truly epic, the depiction of movement is fairly fluid and the writing isn't bad at all. And the badass, oh the badass... The issues are mostly with pacing, though the writer does try to give us action in every chapter. Not that it's boring in the least even when there's a break in the action.

The world is our own with extra elements, magic and stuff. I like magic systems which are well designed starting from the source, logical yet quirky, have limitations and possibilities beyond the classic magic systems. The system in Zetsuen no Tempest fulfills all my basic conditions, though it's a bit more limited in application than I'd like. The battle of two godlike trees provides the story a conflict of an epic scale, and while it seems pretty clichéd at first (a battle of two gods at the beginning of time, "bad guys" trying to resurrect the evil one etc.), the brilliant plot soon shows us that things are not as simple as they seem. The question of morals is rather ambiguous in this story, "good" and "evil" are far from clearly defined, and I especially like the fact that none of the humans in the story can be sure that their faction, their ideal, their solution, is the "right" one. Their struggling to understand the nature of their gods, or to free themselves from the shackes of fate is rather interesting. And lastly, I really like the fact that the rest of the world doesn't remain unconcerned by the actions of the sorcerers. I don't quite remember the last time I saw a battle between a modern army and sorcerers.

If I had to name the worst weakness in this manga, I think it'd be... the fact that it's a bit difficult to get attached to the characters. The central characters are technically pretty deep, but for some reason they're just not very emotionally arresting. I wouldn't say the same about the story at large, and some characters are much more emotionally arresting than others, but... Well, I'd say the problem is in the scarcity of casual dialogue, nearly everything is used to either advance the plot or to purposefully deepen the characters. This way works too, but it's much slower to get attached to the characters than, say, in a good slice of life story.

By this point, it should be pretty obvious what my rating for the manga is. Full 5 stars. I'd highly recommend the manga to anyone who doesn't dislike dark-toned, actiony stories and doesn't require moe... <.<

Music: Didn't find anything exceptionally suitable, but the Shinrei Tantei Yakumo OST worked pretty well. Edit: Later, I found that DWB feat. Fade - From the Heart also fits pretty well.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2013, 04:44:22 am by Krozam »

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Offline Krozam

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #22 on: August 22, 2012, 03:07:51 pm »
...So I read another manga. When I found out there are 4 new chapters of Hibi Chouchou out, I just had to catch up with it. Sadly, there are still only 7 chapters translated.

Hibi Chouchou by Morishita Suu



Sometimes it's enjoyable to read a simple romance. In my opinion, Hibi Chouchou is shoujo romance almost at its best. As is typical for non-harem romances, especially shoujo, it's very focused on the romance, at the cost of giving the supporting characters any depth, or any attention for problems not directly related to the romance. Or even drawing the supporting characters with detail. Also, how this will end seems clear from the start, I highly doubt there are going to be any big surprises or excitement. But that's all fine. Sometimes keeping it simple is for the best. It allows you to relax and enjoy the funny and cute romance.

The main characters are somewhat atypical for shoujo romance leads, which is excellent, IMO. The guy is neither a cold bastard nor a perfect prince/butler. He's good-looking, nice, quiet and reserved, doesn't call much attention to himself. A very likeable character, I imagine from the PoV of either gender. The girl is neither an energetic tomboy nor a timid ordinary girl just waiting for her knight on a white horse. She doesn't lose to the guy in looks either, which is pretty rare. She's a beauty who gets a lot of attention but doesn't let it go to her head. She's pretty quiet and reserved, too, often has trouble finding words, and a bit airheaded but not stupid. Again, a very likeable character.

It's funny how the romance of two so quiet and reserved characters that they can barely exchange two words when meeting can be so interesting. There's a lot of non-verbal communication and quiet moments that have a rather unique kind of romantic feeling to them. It's really a cute and simple romance that gives you a nice warm feeling, nothing more, nothing less.

The only major problem is in the rather weak quality of the scanlations, especially the 5th chapter done by someone else than the group that did the other chapters.

3.5/5 stars.

Music: Anything beautiful, a bit on the energetic side as opposed to melancholic, should do. I didn't find anything exceptionally suitable, but I mostly listened to Tsunagu Kizuna by Team Nekocan (ft. Amaoto Junca), one of the Yosuga no Sora EDs.

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Offline Krozam

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #23 on: November 17, 2012, 05:47:53 am »
Sometimes it's good to read something way out of your comfort zone. You know, widen your horizon. In that spirit, I present you

Kunisaki Izumo No Jijou by Hirakawa Aya



That's a guy in that picture.^ Let me say from the start that I very much dislike several key elements in this manga: crossdressing, shounen ai undertones and the lack of significant female characters. I checked this out on a whim based on the cover image on the scanlator's site and didn't read any summaries until I'd read the first chapter. Had I read a summary first, I most certainly would never have checked this out.

As it happens, I liked the first chapter. The protagonist is pretty awesome and the chapter was really funny. Moreover, somehow the crossdressing element was presented in a way that I actually kinda liked the idea. The androgynous protagonist plays the role of a girl in a kabuki play, not because he likes it but because he has a debt to pay to the guy who usually plays the role but is now sick. Somehow that's kinda cool. A man who's manly enough to take the embarrassment of dressing as a girl though he hates it. An actor who's willing to go that far for the sake of his fellow actors and the audience. And he totally captivates them all, to the point that several supposedly straight guys fall head over heels for him. Yeah, the protagonist is awesome.

The comedy is at times rather unique and really good, I actually laughed aloud quite a few times, something I don't do that often. The plot is pretty episodic, there are short arcs which focus on different kabuki plays, different characters and their problems. Nothing amazing, but enjoyable. The art is, IMO, really good: it's clear and strong, the character designs are good, the expressions are good, it's a style I'm used to seeing in shounen and seinen manga, not shoujo (though as is usual for shoujo, the male character designs are much better than the female designs).

This manga is half painful and half ejoyable. It's painful to watch all the guys trying to get the MC (mind you, the MC doesn't seem interested in either the guys or the few girls who have semi-important roles in the story, this isn't a romance), and it's annoying that after 44 chapters, the MC still hasn't got a proper male role to play, it's getting repetitive that there are always circumstances that force him to take a female role. Yet I still find myself well entertained by every chapter: the characters and their individual problems are mostly interesting, the dialogue is good, and as I said, the comedy is good and the MC is awesome. Something about the storytelling kept me hooked all through the 44 chapters that are out so far.

I do recommend the manga to anyone willing to "widen their horizon", try something new (I think this'd be new to anyone who reads this, I don't remember ever meeting any fujoshi in Doki <.<). 3.5/5.

Music: Mustasch - The Audience is Listening suits quite well the story in my opinion, what with the theme of performing on a stage (though the song is about performing music, not theatre).
« Last Edit: November 18, 2012, 07:17:13 pm by Krozam »

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #24 on: November 18, 2012, 08:13:35 pm »
Yamada-kun to Nana-nin no Majo (Yamada and the Seven Witches) by Yoshikawa Miki



First crossdressing, now gender-bender (well, actually body swapping). Looks like I'm in a phase where I like to try out manga which I'd normally skip because of elements I have no interest in. It's not like I'm learning to like those elements, I'm just beginning to tolerate them in stories that are otherwise too good to pass up. Who knows, maybe I'll one day listen to some rap songs just because of good melodies, even though I hate the weird, unmelodic speaking style that passes for singing in that music genre.

Now then, about the manga. Yamada-kun is like Kagami no Kuni no Harisugawa done right. Or better - it's not like Harisugawa isn't good. This is not just a gender-bender harem romcom, this has a very interesting, intelligent plot that contains elements of mystery and school politics. I wouldn't say this is particularly deep, but it's certainly not an ordinary, clichéd and shallow romcom.

It did take me a while to get into this, the first few chapters I wasn't sure if I liked it enough. The comedy has its moments, but it's not like it's cracking me up all the time (it's not entirely my cup of tea), and Yamada is nearly always embarrassing when he's in a girl's body. However, when some more characters and the actual plot kicked in, and Yamada started to have more cool moments, I was eventually hooked.

The characters are overall interesting and likeable. Yamada, as I said, is often embarrassing, but he also has his cool moments, especially lately. He's one of the few truly dumb main character whom I find genuinely likeable. Shiraishi, the female lead, is a bit too composed to my liking, but she also has cute moments, and I like her character development. The supporting cast is generally a hilarious bunch, and some of them are used very intelligently to advance the plot. One thing I like is that there's a good balance of male and female characters: it's not just Yamada and his harem, there are other genuinely important male characters as well.

The art reminds me of Mashima Hiro, the author of Fairy Tail. Which is no wonder, given that she used to be his assistant. It's good for comedic expressions and action, but not so good for fanservice or romantic scenes. Still, I have to say I find some of the girls rather attractive. Not sure about the romance, it has potential, but Shiraishi will have to start showing more emotion and the cute scenes will have to get much cuter before I start getting emotional over this manga.

All in all, I rate this manga 4 stars. It could be half a star more if Yamada wasn't so damn embarrassing at times.

Music: Mustasch - Morning Star. I'm sure I could find more suitable songs for this manga, but I happen to be into Mustasch right now, and I found this song suitable enough to create a good reading atmosphere.

Now that I've found this mangaka good, I think I'll go check out her earlier, rather succesful work, Yankee-kun to Megane-chan...
« Last Edit: November 20, 2012, 03:59:16 am by Krozam »

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #25 on: November 20, 2012, 02:35:53 am »
...And so I did. Damn, what a manga marathon. I read the almost 20 scanlated volumes of Yankee-kun to Megane-chan (by Yoshikawa Miki) practically in one sitting, over ~18 hours.



No, it's not really that addicting, I simply had nothing better to do, for some reason I didn't even get tired enough to feel like going to sleep. The first few volumes are actually pretty meh, I contemplated dropping the manga many times over the first few vols. The characters were difficult to like and the story didn't seem to go anywhere, the comedy alone couldn't really keep my interest. However, eventually it did start getting better, and after a certain point it became so good that I was well and truly hooked. I'm glad I patiently stuck with it (I'm sure wouldn't have done it if I hadn't read Yamada-kun first, this one took a much longer time to get good), because in the end it was an experience I think I will truly appreciate later on. Actually, I already do.

Like Yamada, the "Yankee-kun", Shinagawa Daichi, is a feared delinquent who's absolutely bored with school but has a good heart and a strong sense of justice. He was sort of likeable from the start, but not really. It's a real pleasure to see how he matures and changes during his three high school years, becoming a truly likeable and respectable person. "Megane-chan", Adachi Hana, differs from the female lead of Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo in that she's only pretending to be a smart honour student - in reality she's a former delinquent and dumb as a doornail. I never really liked her, she seems a bit like a bitch from the start and only develops to a moderately likeable level during the story. On the plus side, her past explains her personality in the beginning well, and the rare times that we see her fight, she kicks ass. But still, I kinda wish some of the other girls who end up with a crush on Daichi had a chance.

The other characters are, again, a hilarious (and occasionally badass) bunch with important roles in the story, good character development and a good balance of genders. I really like this mangaka for her excellent use of supporting characters in both of her series.

This is a long story with several phases to it. First there is the introduction phase, where the two main characters get to know each other and later some supporting characters are introduced. Then there is the student council phase, where the story finally gets interesting, many new supporting characters are introduced and various problems are solved. The final phase is where they start taking studying seriously in order to get the whole gang, even the hopelessly stupid Hana, to the same college - however, this phase also contains a lot of character development for everyone, and wraps up several side plots. Alongside it all there is delinquent stuff, some good fights. This story covers pretty much the whole scale of school life manga, from slice of life and romance to student council and delinquent stuff. I've missed this kind of long school life manga, where you really have the time to get attached to the characters, over a large number of volumes, and many years in the story. It's been a while since I've read anything this long. I think this will eventually be one seriously nostalgic story to me, like for example Love Hina came to be.

All in all, a truly memorable experience worth at least 4 stars. Could easily be more, if the boring phase in the beginning hadn't lasted so long. Could still be more, if the story wraps up in a satifying manner, giving the romances and everything proper conclusions.

Music: I listened to a lot of different songs during this long session, but mainly heidi. (they did the Kaichou wa Maid-sama EDs) and certain Abingdon Boys School songs. In the best fights I listened either Show Me What You Got by Powerman 5000, JAP by ABS, or Reckless Youth by Pillar. In emotional scenes ABS's Desert Rose served well. Pineapple Army - also by ABS - was good for normal comedy and slice of life, some fights as well. In the beginning I mainly listened to heidi.'s Ikkoku, Mugen Loop and Pain, until I got bored of them and switched to ABS.

As usual with these kind of stories, it made me feel pathetic for never taking studying seriously. So, I think I'll take a little break from manga and such, and finally get to writing that essay I've been pushing off. >.<
« Last Edit: November 13, 2014, 04:43:57 am by Krozam »

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Offline Haxton Fale

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #26 on: November 25, 2012, 01:07:31 am »
Figured I might as well just go and post it here, in the middle of being utterly frustrated with homework.

Amidst all kinds of manga I read, I enjoy absurd comedies about the most (second only to yuri). At some point, however, they tend to lose their freshness - jokes seem repetitive, new characters (heck, old ones usually too) are one-dimensional and overused running gags are overused, not to mention the fact that majority of those (as it is usually the case with gag series) are 4komas.
But there are exceptions. One of them is Fujimura-kun Mates by Shiki Seiichi.
Fujimura Haru Is a delinquent (kind of). Having no friends to enjoy the school with (and being feared in general), he skips classes until he is found by class representative Usami Eriko. She claims to be sent by a teacher to find out why is Fujimura skipping, and she tries to convince him to go back to school. All is fine, until... let's just say that Eriko has a few (hundred) screws loose. And she's not the only one. Through a series of unexpected events, Fujimura ends with three school-sanctioned (with a grand ceremony-slash-election) girlfriends - aforementioned Usami Eriko, who seems to enjoy sexual innuendos with Fujimura (and has slight yandere tendencies, sans jealous fits), Yumizuka Subaru, who was once harassing a girl who then got saved by Fujimura, and Urabe Shizuru, both the most and the least crazy of the bunch, total airhead who fell in love with Fujimura due to a misunderstanding. All three, as well as rest of the cast, do their best to drive the Only Sane Man Fujimura crazy.
This is one of the few gag mangas that manage to stay fresh and hilarious (and completely unpredictable) even after 74 chapters. With new chapters of SYD or Working!! the best I can muster is a smirk, while every new release of Fujimura-kun Mates has me dying of laughter. For the art, it's very pleasant to the eye - girls are very cute, while the level of detail is quite high. It's not in yonkoma format, which makes it even more interesting for a gag series.
I can definitely recommend this manga to anyone who likes to have a good laugh. It's been enjoyable so far and it seems it will be for a long time. My score is 10/10 - I might even consider re-scoring several top titles on my MAL, since this is one heck of an amazing read.

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #27 on: November 27, 2012, 02:24:44 am »
Thanks, Hax, I was getting lonely all alone here.

Angel Densetsu by Yagi Norihiro



Angel Densetsu is one of my early manga experiences, I think it's been 5-6 years since I read it for the first time. No wonder I'd forgotten just how good it is. I don't know what the fuck I was thinking, rating it merely 3.5 stars when I put it on my (far from complete) manga list. So, yeah, a supremely nostalgic manga for me, a classic and must read of its genre, and a real pleasure to re-read especially after so long, having forgotten so much.

I'd compare AD to Yankee-kun to Megane-chan and Mx0. Like YK&MC, it's a school manga with comedy, delinquent stuff and romance. The difference is, AD has a bit more action and much better comedy, while YK&MC has more variation in its elements, like the student council stuff and, well, actual studying (what's up with all these school manga where the students are barely ever shown studying?). Like Mx0, the basic concept of AD is that a student comes to a school, stuff happens, and suddenly everyone thinks he's some kind of a monster. The difference is, in Mx0 the protagonist keeps up the illusion on purpose, while in AD it's entirely unintentional, held up by his devilish appearance, inability to express himself when agitated, and a bunch of coincidences. God I love that concept, it makes for such hilarious comedy.

You might be turned off by the art at first, but it's the guy's first long manga, and he develops his art a lot during the story. It never gets amazing, but IMO it's pretty good by the end. Everything else in the manga is great from the start to the end, there's no real rise or drop in the quality of the manga.

The characters are generally likeable, and although I can't say they're particularly deep, I still grew very attached to them and I'd love to read more about their life. In a way, AD reads like a good slice of life: it's an episodic story which never really feels complete, because it's a story about the ordinary life of these characters. Like the author says at least twice, he just created the characters and let them live their lives, without confining them into a pre-determined plotline. In this case, it works extremely well.

There's no particular depth or intelligence to the plot, but it's fairly interesting anyway. It's a good mix of hilarious comedy, (extra)ordinary school life, cute romance and nice fights. It's a heartwarming story about how a boy with the face of a devil and the heart of an angel overcomes prejudice, gets himself a handful of good friends and a cute girlfriend. The theme of overcoming prejudice is very strong throughout the story, the main character isn't the only one whose looks don't match his personality. But it's usually handled in either comedic or heartwarming manner which doesn't feel preachy at all.

So, where did I raise my rating from the initial 3.5/5? To 4.5. I was contemplating 4, because the ending is a bit unsatisfactory: although there's a very romantic scene and a badass battle in the last two chapters, there's something I didn't like in both of them:
(click to show/hide)
Also, there's the matter of the art at the beginning, and the lack of any particular depth in the story or the characters... But in the end, nostalgia and sheer reading pleasure won, I decided on the higher rating. Angel Densetsu is, in the end, one of the most enjoyable and re-readable manga for me, it deserves my second-highest recommendations.

Music: I tried a lot of different songs with this, too many to list them all. Most of the time I listened to Poets of the Fall - Shallow, it has a nice tone that fits especailly the heartwarming scenes. For some of the more actionful or comedic scenes I used Save Me, also by PotF. I also listened to Powerman 5000 - Super Villain a lot, because I thought the subject of the song's lyrics is kinda fitting - in a perverse way - to the multitude of scenes where the protagonist is portrayed through the eyes of the people who see him as a devil... and it fits the fights well. In the last fight I listened to Recless Youth by Pillar, a pretty badass song for youth gang fights. For the few kinda sad scenes, Someone Who Cares by Three Days Grace is great. A lot of others, but those are the best fits.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2012, 02:49:18 am by Krozam »

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Offline Krozam

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #28 on: September 09, 2013, 01:47:46 am »
So... I caught up with Breaker: New Waves. After over a hundred chapters, Shioon is finally back to full health, and stronger than ever. He's kicking some serious ass. Too bad he almost immediately faces one of the friggin' Grandmasters of Murim, and once again survives only through his completely fucking ridiculous mental and physical endurance. He lives through stuff that'd kill an ordinary man a hundred times over, and his determination is way off the chart as well. It's way extreme even by manga/manhwa standards. -_-'

Still, his powerups are pretty extreme, too. Sometimes it feels like he's getting stronger slowly, but taking into account the plot moving at a snail's pace, he's actually making giant leaps between and during every serious fight.

Also, elder Kwon just keeps getting more badass. And right now he's fighting that other Grandmaster. It could be pretty damn epic, but I get the feeling it's not yet their time to seriously face off. Even though they're fighting seriously, the storytelling doesn't support it well enough, the focus is still on Shioon.

Still, I look forward to the next chapter. They're on a hiatus now, but fortunately it should be over soon. It was supposed to be a month, and it's been a few days over a month since the last release.

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #29 on: September 12, 2013, 12:57:35 am »
It seems I'm getting back on my manga groove. Today, I present you

Rosario+Vampire Season II by Ikeda Akihisa



First of all, for those who've seen the anime and not read the manga, I assure you, there's a great difference. I haven't actually seen more than a couple of episodes from the anime, but I've heard horror stories about it. It's not a faithful adaptation, not even close.

Secondly, I probably should review the first manga series first, but it's been a year or two since I read it, it's not exactly in fresh memory anymore. One thing I do remember about it is how it evolved from a mediocre, ecchi harem comedy with some light battles into quite a decent shounen battle manga (without losing the harem elements, of course). In the end I rated it 3 stars. For many things, like character development, I'll be considering the two series a single story in this review.

The second series continues to escalate, though at first it kind of resets back to the status quo and to its roots as an ecchi harem romcom. However, this doesn't last long in the big picture, and soon we're back to serious stuff. Through multiple short arcs gradually gaining in seriousness and slowly revealing the organisation to which all the serious antagonists have belonged to and which as a whole kinda plays the role of the ultimate antagonist (though there is also a single character who in the end takes that role). It reminds me of Negima, which evolved from a comedy into one of my favourite long shounen battle manga, but R+V takes it a step further, completely changing the tone of the manga from light to dark, from funny to serious, from slice of life to epic. If someone read the beginning of the first series and then jumped to the last arc of Season II, he'd definitely wonder if he was reading the same manga or if it was some kind of a reboot with only some common characters.

The characters evolve with the story. Tsukune, the male protagonist, at first a classic useless harem lead, already becomes pretty badass in the first series, but in the second he becomes a full-fledged shounen battle manga lead, complete with training sessions, sudden power-ups and incredible determination. I, for one, like the change, especially as it's accompanied by growth in maturity and personality depth. Moka, the female lead, is at first a beautiful airheaded vampire with a super-powerful (and super-prideful) inner personality. The second series reveals her mysterious past, why she's at the centre of world-shaking events, and deepens her character, especially the inner personality, a lot. She remains a powerful character, but with other powerful characters entering the fray, she can no longer end her battles in a single kick. She even becomes a damsel in distress for a while, spurring Tsukune's growth a great deal.

The other characters also gain some depth. Some of them, a lot of depth. Quite a lot of attention is paid to Moka's sisters, all three of them, and even though they're new characters introduced in the second series, they all become major, well-rounded characters. As another example, Kurumu, I never really liked her until the last arc, where I gained some serious respect for her. Many characters who used to be pretty much defined by their relationship to Tsukune gradually gain independence and a variety of personality traits. I can hardly say that R+V is a manga defined by its deep and multi-dimensional characters, but comparing to its humble beginning, the character development is, in many cases, quite impressive.

The art has also developed a lot during the 9 years that this story has been published. It was never downright bad, but it was pretty amateurish at first. The mangaka has gradually improved his skills and become more professional over the years. Whether it be ecchi fanservice, grotesque monster designs, touching dramatic scenes or cool battles, the artist has retained his basic style while steadily improving every aspect of it. I'm no art critic, but I can say that I quite like his art now, and it seems to have no significant weaknesses left.

The comedy is mostly so-so. It makes me laugh often enough, but it's nothing amazing. There is one exception, chapter 23 of Season II, which I found particularly hilarious. Overall, I'd say that while the light parts of this manga are fairly enjoyable, it's a good thing that the manga got more serious as it advanced, because epicness and seriousness suit this author much better than light comedy.

The overall plot suffers from its humble beginning, because while the author does occasionally tie the current epic story into the beginning, the first series, it seems that he didn't really have a good idea of where he'd end up when he started writing the story. The conversion from comedy to serious isn't too sudden or anything, it's patient and well enough built, but it's still one of the most extreme genre and tone conversions I've ever seen in one story. There's nothing particularly twisty about the big plot or any of the short arcs, but there are enough mysteries and moderately surprising revelations to keep things interesting.

While harem is a very strong element thoughout this story, it's obvious that there is only one girl who ever had a chance with the male lead. Still, Tsukune is likeable enough, after some character development, to not make it utterly unrealistic for the other girls to stay around him even after they realise they'll never be the first in his heart. Like any decent harem lead, he treasures all his friends but never wavers in his love for the one girl his heart chose. That is not to say that the only good kind of a harem lead is one who never gives up on his first love, my point is that I never saw him as the indecisive kind of guy. In terms of touching scenes, this romance has yet to reach the level that'd bring tears to my eyes, but some scenes are truly well dramatised and have touched me in various ways. I have grown fairly attached to the characters, and if the ending is done right, it still has the potential to reach that level. The latest chapter already came very, very close.

The action, too, has much improved. At first it was quite light and comedic in nature, not to mention repetitive, always ending with Tsukune removing Moka's sealing rosary, and her inner personality ending the battle with one kick, shouting her catchphrase, "Know your place!" Already in the first series things began to change, with stronger enemies appearing and Tsukune gaining some battle power of his own. But it's nothing compared to the second series. Not only Tsukune, the harem members (and even some male side characters) gain more power and become actually useful. And of course, the battles themselves, both in writing and artistically, keep getting better. Now they are quite comparable to any shounen battle manga.

The last arc is... special. It kinda feels like everything before this has been one overly long prologue and the real story started with the last arc. This arc is significantly longer, darker and more epic than the ones before it. It reveals everything that the story before it has merely hinted at, diving into Moka's past, revealing the antagonist organisation, expanding the settings in many different ways, etc. It has its own training session, plenty of character development and new characters. It cranks the epic up to eleven.

And then there is the last battle. I can honestly say that I probably have never read another last battle quite like this. It just keeps going on, an epic rollercoaster of desperate situations and flares of hope. Usually they have a clear climax, or two at most, after which things calm down and the arc ends. This one has already had like half a dozen "climaxes", and every time I've been surprised when a few pages later there's another turnaround. Now it's heading towards what I believe to finally be the final showdown, after which the manga wraps up and ends. Probably no third "season" coming. It's kinda hard to top this, and I don't see any plot threads extending beyond this arc, it'd have to start something completely new. But I might be wrong, long shounen manga do it all the time, extend beyound what should've been their ending point.

In conclusion, R+V has been quite an enjoyable run. It kept evolving, far surpassing my expectations when I started reading the first series many years ago. I'd say that the quality/enjoyment increase from the start of the first series to the current point (ch 66) is at least 2 stars, from 2.5 to 4.5/5. But since the whole is so unbalanced, I'll give Season II as a whole 4/5 stars.

Music: Onlap - From Dust to Ashes By the time I'd finished, the repeat count was around 240... <_<
« Last Edit: September 12, 2013, 01:49:52 am by Krozam »

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