Author Topic: Krozam's Manga Diary  (Read 33179 times)

Offline Krozam

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #30 on: September 25, 2013, 12:55:15 am »
I know I've mentioned this manhwa a couple of times before, but I've just re-read the entire thing, so I figured now is a good time to write a proper review:

The Breaker and its ongoing sequel, Breaker: New Waves by Geuk-Jin Jeon and Kamaro



Although this is probably one of the most internationally famous manhwa, the industry in Korea is apparently squeezing the life out of their authors, so these two have my respect for hanging in there and stubbornly developing their story in their own patient pace. At times a little too patient, one might say. Reading the chapters weekly, it definitely feels like the story is dragging for, like, 100 chapters from the start of New Waves, but when you read it all at once, it's actually not that bad. This way you get a much clearer picture of the somewhat complex plot, the intriguing world of martial arts in this story, and the extensive cast of characters. Marathoning a story is typically much more enjoyable for me than taking it in small doses weekly or monthly, but it's especially true for this manhwa.

But nevermind the plot and stuff, the primary reason to read The Breaker has always been the fights. Glorious, badass, unrealistic martial arts fights. In this, The Breaker is unquestionably among the very best of its kind. In both art and writing, superbly entertaining stuff.

The protagonist is a high school boy with a weak body who gets bullied to the point that he contemplates suicide. He's "saved" by a new teacher, who initially doesn't give a damn about a coward like him, but eventually relents and promises to teach the kid martial arts. Little does the boy know that he's about to enter a world far more brutal than his life until now. Through a series of events in the first series, he ends up leading the most powerful martial artist clan in Korea in the second series. Swearing to never again be a coward, he puts his life on the line fighting agains one overpowering opponent after another, visiting death's door so many times that I've lost count. His determination and endurance are ridiculous even by manga/manhwa standards, and he fully takes advantage of his plot armour, lol. Initially it feels as though he's doomed to be a punching bag forever, but at some point you realise that it's only because he keeps encountering ridiculously strong opponents. In truth, he's a friggin' martial arts genius: although his progress is aided a lot by a miracle drug that gave him a ridiculous amount of ki, and being taught by several top martial artists, it's undeniable that within mere months, he's turned from a boy with a weak body that'd lose a fight against any normal person his age, into a master-level martial artist. Oh, there's still a wide gap between him and the TOP masters, whom he keeps encountering both as allies and enemies, but he's getting there. And he's getting pretty badass, too, lately. Though it's his kindness and naïvete bordering on idiocy that keep attracting ladies to his harem (which he has NO idea he has, except for his "girlfriend", who ironically enough is one of the only two people around him who don't know about his secret new life)...

His master, known as Goomoonryong, Nine Arts Dragon, is recognised by some as the strongest martial artist in Korea. His disrespect for the rules of the martial arts world, however, has earned him many enemies, and he's generally seen as a villain. And true enough, the further the series goes on, the darker he gets. He's a seriously badass character, and an antihero (or more like, a hero turned villain) in the best manhwa tradition.

There is a multitude of interesting, badass characters in the series, with clashing motivations, many of them trapped in a spiral of vengeance. (Elder Kwon, intruduced at the very end of the first series, but taking spotlight in the second, deserves a special mention for both badassery and an interesting personality.) The martial arts world is a brutal place with brutal rules: the strong dominate the weak, and clan ties, and especially the ties between the master and the student, are more absolute than blood ties, resulting in feuds spanning generations. However, there are also good things about this world, chivalry and dignity rarely seen in the world of ordinary people. In the best tradition of shounen heroes, the protagonist takes in these good things and denies the bad things, slowly changing the outlook of at least the people close to him, eventually perhaps the entire martial arts world. His master also seeks to bring down the system, but his methods are a lot more brutal, leading them on different paths after the first series.

The plot is surprisingly complex, a mess of clan politics, mysterious organisations and powerful, world-changing characters with clashing motivations. Like I said, if you read it weekly, it gets confusing and feels pretty slow. It is only now that there are 10 volumes of the original series and 129 chapters, roughly 13 volumes, of New Waves, and I've read it all in a few days, that I start to grasp the whole picture. I do enjoy a plot and a world with some intrigue and complexity, so while it may be somewhat confusing, especially to an international reader not very familiar with the korean culture, it's at least better than the usual straightforward shounen manga plots.

The art is pretty classy, though somehow... cold. As is usual for manhwa. Clear, dynamic in fights, individual character designs, cool and sexy covers. It develops noticeably during the series, but it's pretty good from the start.

All in all, The Breaker is an enjoyable ride filled with badass characters and exquisite violence for those who enjoy bloody, unrealistic martial arts battles. Especially enjoyable when marathoned. But it's not all violence, there's a decent plot with some delicious intrigue. It's a bit slow at times, and some, like me, may not enjoy the overuse of plot armour with the protagonist (seriously, he'd probably survive even if a skyscraper was dropped on him), but all in all, good fun. 3.5/5 stars for both series (I only recently raised New Waves' rating to the same level with the first series, though).

Music: I typically listen to Pain with any dark, actionful manga and manhwa, but it started with The Breaker, and to this day Bye/Die, Clouds of Ecstacy, Don't Care and Reach out (and Regret) in particular are most strongly connected to this series in my mind.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2014, 04:22:32 am by Krozam »

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Offline Krozam

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #31 on: October 13, 2013, 04:28:50 pm »
Kaichou wa Maid-Sama finished at 85 chapters. A good, touching ending for a great romance. I grinned like a madman through the "10 years later" part (the latter half of the last chapter), and cried a little, too. I'm sure the effect would've been stronger had the story been told from Usui's viewpoint - even though Misaki is a wonderful protagonist, as a guy I naturally have some trouble identifying with a female protagonist - but it's so good that even this way it had this much of an effect on me. Well, Kaitou Saint Tail had me crying for like 15 minutes, so it's not like this is the first romance with a female protagonist to make me cry.

Sad to see a good manga end, but it was time. The mangaka told her story and ended it when she ran out of material, naturally, without dragging it out too much. And the ending is satisfactory in every way. In fact, it's one of the most perfectly executed romance endings I've ever seen. This is how it should be done. Too many manga/anime either end incomplete or get dragged out too much, and then fail the ending.

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Offline Krozam

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #32 on: December 08, 2013, 04:16:07 pm »
Not in the mood to make a proper review, but I felt like this one deserved a mention:

http://www.batoto.net/comic/_/comics/gate-thus-the-jsdf-fought-there-r5353

Gate - Thus the JSDF Fought There (by Yanai Takumi and Sao Satoru) is a pretty awesome manga. There's an immortal gothic lolita demigod apostle of the god of death swinging a huge axe probably twice her weight... who gets turned on when people die nearby. And the protagonist is pretty awesome, too, appearing like a laid-back slacker otaku, but being actually a very competent and intelligent, not to mention highly sympathetic soldier and officer. Those should be enough reason to read it, but there are plenty of other reasons. For one, it's actually political, in a way you rarely see a Japanese work of fiction being. Sure, the author is clearly nationalistic and glorifies JSDF and Japan, but apparently it's very much toned down from the original light novels. The adaptation seems to be better than the original, in this case. It's all fine if you consider it artistic license with the purpose of making the protagonist's side "the good guys" and his comrades badass.

It's like a darker, bloodier, more action-filled, but also more comprehensive and intelligent take on the same theme that Outbreak Company has at its heart: a clash of cultures when a gate to a fantasy world suddenly appears in Japan. In this case, though, they fight first and get to know each other afterwards. 4/5 stars, I'd say.

Edit: Oh, and music: Celldweller - Own Little World (Remorse Code & Blue Stahli remix) and other Blue Stahli works. Mostly because I just recently found Blue Stahli and like it a lot. This Celldweller remix suits most parts of the story well, though I also listened to many Blue Stahli originals. Scrape, for example, is awesome. The Destroyer of All Things is great for the really brutal battle scenes.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2013, 01:33:12 pm by Krozam »

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Offline Haxton Fale

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #33 on: December 08, 2013, 07:17:27 pm »
So I've kinda been asked to write a post about a rather unique manga, and it was about four months ago. But, well, better late than never, right?
Bonnouji
by Aki Eda
In an unspecified condo somewhere in Japan lives Oyamada Zenji, a bespectacled programmer whose brother is travelling around the world and sending various interesting (and most often bizarre) gifts. A few floors above lives Ozawa Michiyo, an OL in her twenties, who happens to meet Zenji on the day she broke up with her boyfriend. One thing led to another and they start hanging out together, along with Oyamada's childhood friend Shimamoto, a mahjong addict.
The story isn't very dynamic, far from it. It's a slow (but not too slow) and relaxed love story about two adults who by chance managed to find their soulmates in one another, who try to make it all work out, maybe a bit clumsily. There's no big drama, just a simple and soothing story, where almost nothing goes wrong.
This is a rather unique story. Many are likely to find it plain boring and uninteresting, but for me it was a welcome change - it was nice to see everything working out in the end, I was even under an impression that their problems were more real(istic?) than in many others... Aki Eda's drawing style is both a little rough and a bit cute, striking a near-perfect balance. Her other stories are very similar too - the volume of her original stories titled "Itou-san" and all the Touhou doujins released as the circle Rocket Fuel 21/Rocket Nenryou ★ 21 (warning: they are mainly gay).

I guess the post turned out a bit short, but there isn't really a lot to say about this manga. It's cute, lovely, mature, relaxed, predictable and finished, and I will gladly recommend it to about anyone, having given it 9 out of 10.

Offline Hanover Fist

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #34 on: December 09, 2013, 11:14:10 am »
First off, I like Gate a lot and think it excellent. It has the depth, action and intrigue that Outbreak Company - while fun and amusing - lacks.

I've also snarfed up Bonnouji in one swell foop. A cute story, sweet romance and silly little bits that had me laughing out loud: "Google-sensei" for one. So thank you for the post Haxton!

And now another manga - Biblia Koshodou no Jiken Techou by Mikami En and Nakano.



I believe it began as a light novel series, made the jump to manga and was also adapted to a TV drama as well. While googling for a cover image, I also found figurines of the female lead. Anyway, this is a quiet little story, slow paced with armchair mysteries and a hint of (undeveloped so far) romance. A little over one volume has been scanlated of the three published to date, so I've only read four chapters. For a summary, I'll steal from quote the Baka updates page:

"Shinokawa Shioriko, a young owner of a bookstore in Kamakura, unravels mysteries of ancient books that are taken there. The story begins with a young man named Daisuke, who grew up practically without reading books due to a phobia, bringing the complete (and autographed) works of Natsume Soseki, Japanese writer of the Meiji era, inherited from his grandmother, to the mysterious bookstore. Will the shy and introvert Shioriko solve the mystery of the books?"

Another short post. I'm not sure what else to say except that I like it so far and give it a 4/5.

Offline Krozam

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #35 on: December 11, 2013, 05:52:52 pm »
Thanks, both of you. Bonnouji is indeed a good manga, if you appreciate the kind. The lack of any even moderately serious conflicts could be considered a problem, but it's a good read that always brings a smile on my face. I'd rate it 4/5 stars.

Now, let me present you an excellent manhwa I found a couple of days ago:

Noblesse by Son Je-Ho and Lee Gwang-Su



http://www.batoto.net/comic/_/comics/noblesse-r11

I'm glad I didn't find Noblesse earlier. Or, well, start reading it. I honestly didn't expect much, but reading 307 chapters in 2-3 days (289 practically in one sitting, the rest the next day) was a memorable experience. It did take me a while to really get into it (about 2 out of the 5 long arcs that are currently complete), but it was good from the start.

Noblesse is one of those stories where it's difficult to pinpoint the real main character. Raizel, the mysterious, quiet, elegant, seemingly all-powerful vampire who wakes up from a coffin at the start of the story (apparently having slept the last 820 years) is clearly an option. He undeniably the heart of his group. However, he's a bit colourless for a protagonist. I don't mean he's a bad character: he has mystery, depth and plenty of interesting scenes. He's just too quiet, too powerful in battle, and hides his emotions too well to be an engaging main character.

Fortunately, the authors realise this. That's why, instead of flooding the story with his internal monologue, they choose to keep his mystery, rarely allowing us a peek inside his head. Instead, they divert attention to the other characters around him. Interesting, deep characters such as Raizel's servant, Frankenstein, an enemy agent who switches sides, M-21, and our main window to the antagonists' side, Dr. Crombell. Frankenstein in particular is no doubt one of my top favourite characters ever. By far the deepest and most multi-dimensional character in the story, he's badass as fuck in battle, has an incredibly interesting past, and he's of course cool-looking (as almost every single character in the story). I especially love it when his sadistic side surfaces, and when he taunts his opponents in battle.

The storytelling has its weaknesses. It's unfortunately repetitive with its jokes (doesn't mean they aren't funny most of the time) character introductions and kidnappings. I'm also not happy with how the story after the first couple of arcs breaks its balance between the light-hearted school life and all the epic stuff. I'm fine with the ordinary students always playing the helpless victim parts, but after the first couple of arcs they quickly started to lose their screentime. I feel like it's been ages since I last saw Shinwoo kicking some punk's ass. Nevertheless, it is an engaging, thematically rich story with an interesting plot and a lot of good characters.

At first, the battles are somewhat repetitive, with the ordinary students always getting in trouble and Raizel and Frankenstain always coming to the rescue and utterly curb stomping the arrogant enemies. Not that I don't enjoy over-powered protagonists and seeing arrogant, evil enemies getting their due, but too much is too much. Fortunately, the battles keep getting better and more characters join the group, providing more moderately powered good guys to battle the increasingly powerful enemies, who are eventually able to give Frankenstein and even Raizel a run for their money. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that the battles in the last three arcs are among the best I've ever seen. This'd make one hell of an action anime, I'm sure of it.

The comic is fully coloured, and I'd say that the art is very good. All character designs are individual and easy to differentiate. In the best tradition of manhwa, this story is filled with beautiful and elegant people, both men and women. Well, I never say no to eye-candy when it doesn't harm the story: there's little to no actual fanservice (which is actually a pity, Seira in particular is really hot). The action scenes are very well drawn, there's great motion and fluidity to the pictures, especially lately. Regarding the quality of backgrounds, I can't say great things about the BG art, but given that this is a fully coloured weekly webtoon and has decently long chapters, it's understandable that not a lot of attention can be paid on the backgrounds. At least there are rarely any white panels with just characters.

All in all, I'd definitely recommend this one to any friends of action and supernatural battles. This far outstrips the likes of Bleach and Naruto in terms of plot and depth, yet it still manages to provide at least as much action and entertainment. Edit: After some deliberation and a few new chapters, I decided that 4½ stars is just a little too generous. 4/5 stars.

Music: Blue Stahli mostly. Again, because I found it recently and don't really feel like listening to anything else. For battle scenes in particular, it fits well. Throw Away is good for moodier scenes, I'd even say it's a perfect fit as M-21's theme. I also listened to Position Music's Production Music Vol. 141 – Damned Anthem when the action got too heavy for the likes of The Destroyer of All Things.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 09:59:20 pm by Krozam »

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Offline Krozam

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #36 on: January 19, 2014, 09:31:21 pm »
This isn't really a manga or manhwa, but it's a special case that deserves all the fame I can spread.

Courtney Crumrin by Ted Naifeh



In my opinion, Courtney Crumrin is one of the greatest comic series ever created, East or West. Rarely have I read anything so full of wisdom and depth, and yet so utterly entertaining. It is one of the two best Western comics I've read, and they're both quite comparable to my top 5 manga and manhwa.

First of all, don't quit as soon as you open the first pages of the first issue. I know the art looks pretty bad, but trust me, not only does it get better, it actually fits the story perfectly and creates a very powerful mood. The comic is B&W at first, but the 10 last issues are in full colour. Just keep reading, and I can almost guarantee that you'll be intrigued by the end of the first issue and totally hooked by the end of the first series. Make sure you have ample time as you start reading, because you may end up devouring it all in one sitting. About a day should be enough.

Courtney is definitely one of the most badass little girls ever. She also has a lot of character, she's anything but bland. She's gloomy, yes, but she doesn't wallow in self-pity. She has a complex moral compass, she's highly empathetic yet capable of some rather terrible deeds. She's wise beyond her years, yet like any child, she makes mistakes all the time, and learns from them. She's relatively self-sufficient, yet finds herself relying on certain adults. A delightfully complex, likeable protagonist.

While Courtney is badass for a little girl, her great-uncle Aloysius, the second most important character in the series, is badass incarnate. He's the wise mentor for the inexperienced Courtney, her guide to the world of magic, witches and the night things. Also a complex character, he's a kind man whose unshakeable sense of duty and selflessness have forced him to make great sacrifices and commit terrible deeds. I can't help pitying him, while being totally in awe of him. Powerful, frighteningly so, yet not without moments of weakness. Wise, yet not without lapses in judgement.

The dialogue and storytelling are top-class. Like I said, you'll probably be hooked by the end of the first series, possibly much sooner. Apart from Malazan Book of the Fallen, which is radically longer, there isn't another work of literature which has provided me with so many awesome quotes to add to my collection.

The depth and wisdom in this story is just amazing. The story could be read, enjoyed and mostly understood by a 10-year-old, yet an adult could learn from it just as well. There are powerful moral lessons there, but they're not all straightfurward. There's a learning curve, contradictions, ambiguity, openness for interpretation... It's not preachy, it's all a part of the superbly entertaining story, but there's plenty of food for thought.

The world is wonderful, magical, full of secrets and things that work different from the human world. The faeries are interesting beings, inhuman in many ways, but with some important things in common with humans. The witches are interesting as well, with their place between the human and the faery world, and their troublesome politics.

The ending was suitably climatic. That is to say, an EPIC ending to an epic story. That last part, which I just read today, was more plot- and action-focused and less contemplative, which was a good choice. It was also a good ending to the entire series, the author had the good sense to stop at the high point instead of letting the story drag on, stagnate, and slowly lose its glory.

All in all, there are very few flaws I can think of. It could have given some of the antagonists, particularly the final one, more depth. The art has some weaknesses, particularly at the beginning, although it also has some significant strengths in its individuality and strong dramatisation. The flaws aren't serious enough to make me even consider anything but 5/5 stars.

Music: Courtney Crumrin has a unique atmosphere to it, and I don't think I ever found anything quite suitable. While reading the last series, I mostly listened to From the Heart by DWB feat. Fade.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 10:06:58 pm by Krozam »

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Offline Krozam

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #37 on: March 24, 2014, 06:14:17 am »
So I started reading UQ Holder, the sequel to Negima, with a new cast (aside from Evangeline), that takes place some 80 years after Negima. That is fine with me in principle, it's not like I was particularly attached to the cast - the atmosphere, fights and plot were more interesting. Besides, Eva was pretty much my favourite character, and she's still here.

Akamatsu does some interesting things with magic in UQ holders, just like he did in Negima. And immortality as well, an element apparently very central to the story. Also, there are some societal dimensions to the story, interesting changes caused mainly by the revelation of magic to the public. The fights are still okay, although as of yet, nothing close to Negima's best fights. And finally, it is interesting to learn what eventually became of Negi and the rest of the cast from Negima.

However, everything else is just... meh. It feels like a bunch of shounen clichés slapped together, starting with the protagonist - an energetic, dumb kid with big dreams and ridiculous natural fighting talents. Pretty much a typical shounen protagonist (apart from the talent part), nowhere close as interesting as Negi. None of the other new characters so far are particularly interesting either, I keep comparing them to some Negima characters they resemble. Some of them have potential, though, we'll see.

Characters aside, the overall plot is still hazy, the story feels pretty aimless for now. Aside from some brief hints, I still have no idea what Akamatsu is planning for this story long-term - or, heck, even short-term. It's kind of rushed, he obviously wants to make Touta, the protagonist, strong quickly - what I don't understand is, why didn't he give the character a proper headstart, to shorten the trip? Sure, he has certain... advantages he either acquired in his (forgotten) past or at the very start, but still, his development is pretty ridiculous.

Anyway, the story feels rushed and aimless, which makes for an experience lacking in feeling, atmosphere and, well, common sense. I'm not sure this is worth reading, it's a huge disappointment to me, but I guess I'll give it a while longer, see if a plot surfaces in another 20 or so chapters.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2014, 03:55:11 pm by Krozam »

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #38 on: March 31, 2014, 07:33:17 am »
Tora Kiss by Kamoshida Hajime and Tomato Mato

http://www.batoto.net/comic/_/comics/tora-kiss-a-school-odyssey-r5327

I don't need to write a long post to review this manga. It's enough to say that it's very similar to Trinity Seven, and almost as good. It suffers from the same problems and benefits from the same strengths. It has a similar male lead (except lazier and lacking in ambition), similar humour and a similar harem setting. The girls are a a bit weaker, more reliant on the MC's strength, but quite cute, both in personality and appearance. The art is different, but almost as good. The plot is more interesting than you'd think based on the summary, but I feel it hasn't reached the good part yet, the manga is still just setting up, at 20 chapters. A superbly entertaining read, and I eagerly look forward to more. 4/5 stars.

Edit: Aaand it got axed. Gg, Japan. -_-'
« Last Edit: November 12, 2014, 04:09:08 pm by Krozam »

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #39 on: April 03, 2014, 03:31:21 pm »
Koharu no Hibi by Ooshiro Youkou

http://www.batoto.net/comic/_/comics/koharu-no-hibi-r190/

I've occasionally wondered, what kind of a romance it would be if a guy actually accepted a stalker yandere's feelings, and somehow worked out solutions to each of her psychotic episodes. Somehow making the relationship work. I actually considered writing one. Well, Koharu no Hibi effectively ended my contemplation about that subject. At times it's really creepy, at times it's really cute, but ultimately, it was a rewarding read. Something quite unique, something I hadn't read before. The male protag is not totally useless, and I must admit, for all her insanity, Koharu has some endearing character traits. As expected of a hentai mangaka (this one isn't hentai, though), the difficulty of things like an indirect kiss, or on ordinary kiss for that matter, aren't exaggerated. The sole exception being moving on to the first name basis - but that scene is so adorable and funny that I can't blame the author. In the end, this story is quite cute. 3/5 stars.

Music: I Feed You My Love by Margaret Berger... That title is so fitting. XD

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #40 on: April 05, 2014, 05:45:49 am »
Monkey High by Akira Shouko



http://www.mangapanda.com/1229/monkey-high.html

Yesterday I randomly remembered this manga, which I years ago read up to where it was translated back then - around the 6th or 7th volume out of the total of 8. I remembered it was a good shoujo romance. Well, I remembered wrong. It is a fantastic shoujo romance.

Haruna, the protagonist, is the daughter of a politician who recently fell from grace, and as a result she had to change schools. She's smart, beautiful, and a bit of a cynic. She compares the rowdy bunch in her new school to a mountain monkey community. (The original name of the series is "Saruyama", which translates to "monkey mountain".) And the baby monkey, Masaru, aka. "Macharu", is the silliest of them all.

Yet it is his bright smile and straightforward kindness that so easily breaches the walls she has built around herself, and drags her along to their pace, as a member of the monkey community. Contrary to her expectations, she quickly begins to enjoy her new school life, and by the end of the first volume, the two are officially going out.

So the beginning advances relatively fast. After that, the pace slows down, and while it never feels like it completely stops, their relationship keeps developing for 7 more volumes, spanning over two years of their high school life. The result is one of the most complete, touching, emotionally fulfilling romances I've ever had the pleasure of reading.

There is just the right amount of drama. I've never been a fan of heavy drama, but at the same time, too light makes the romance lose emotional impact. Perhaps with the exception of my all-time favourite romance, Maison Ikkoku, Monkey High is the manga that most perfectly maintains that precarious balance. Some of the conflicts come from external sources, most notably from Macharu's best friend, the bishie Atsuyuki, and Haruna's disapproving father. A more or less equal amount of conflicts stem from the couple's own inner insecurities and growth pains.

Comedy is always a matter of taste, but I found Monkey High mostly quite a hilarious read. Much like in Maison Ikkoku, a big part of a the humour comes from their friends teasing the couple. It's also quite amusing how the comparison of Macharu to a little monkey stays in the series as a constant source of friendly jokes. Made all the more funny by the constant reminders that it was this childish baby monkey who scored the hot girlfriend.

Central characters are definitely one of the strongest points in this story. As a shoujo lead, the sensible Haruna is at the very top of my list, along with Misaki from Kaichou wa Maid-sama. Macharu is a weird one for a shoujo male lead as well, as he's the hot guy's silly friend, who'd normally be the supporting character. Atsu, the aforementioned hot guy, is easily understood and occasionally not very likeable, but nevertheless not a simple character. Besides a romance, Monkey High is also a coming-of-age story: in falling in love and growing up, each of these characters gains a significant amount of very realistic character development. Everyone else, however... get zero character deepening. Which, in my view, is the most serious flaw in this story.

The art is a bit amateurish at first... it develops a moderate amount during the course of the series. There is one thing, however, where this mangaka absolutely excels as an artist, from the start: atmosphere. There are beautiful, touching scenes in practically every chapter (far more than in any other manga I've read - perhaps too many, resulting in weakened impact), made so much more so by the beautiful art (and fitting music). She might be even better with those than Akamatsu Ken, whose atmospheric panels in Love Hina have so far been unrivalled in my mind.

Usually, as a male, it is difficult to identify with a female protagonist, so shoujo romances are naturally somewhat dulled in their emotional impact. In this case, I believe the fact that the author frequently let the reader inside her heroine's thoughts and made her so relatable to anyone who's once been a teenager in love, may have helped. And Macharu is quite a likeable and relatable character as well. But, ultimately, it's just such a good romance, and the touching scenes are so well drawn and narrated.

I believe I have a new addition to my previously Holy Duality of romances, Maison Ikkoku and Love Hina. Now it's the Holy Trinity. I spent some 15-20 minutes crying after finishing the manga, before I started writing this review. However, like all of these three manga, Monkey High as well has a serious weakness that drops it to 4.5 stars - that being the lack of love for the supporting characters.

Music: Okuda Miwako - Shizuku. Occasionally the effect of its beauty weakened due to looping it for too long (I did marathon the whole manga in one night), so I had to switch to Makino Yui - Yuo Are My Love, but Shizuku is definitely the most fitting song I could find.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2014, 05:59:21 am by Krozam »

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Offline Fuzzy Bear

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #41 on: May 25, 2014, 09:37:14 pm »
Hello there, I saw you once translating this work http://www.primehentai.com/in-one-step-tohgarashi-hideyu/ and I wanted to ask if there will be more of this artist translated in the future?

Offline Krozam

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #42 on: June 02, 2014, 12:22:27 am »
So far, there haven't been other Tohgarashi Hideyu works that have raised my interest sufficiently, but who knows, maybe some day. I'm currently working on a Kamiya Zuzu manga - slowly.

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #43 on: November 12, 2014, 03:20:42 pm »
It's been a while since my last entry. It's not like I haven't been reading manga, I've just been too lazy to write reviews...

World Trigger by Ashihara Daisuke



I have to say, the first episode of the anime is rather underwhelming, I considered dropping it right there. However, I continued. After 5 eps, it's still an unimpressive beginning, but it has started to show some promise. I'm not sure what it was, maybe it was just Yuuma's character with his unusual thought patterns, but I was intrigued enough to check out the manga. Can't say I regret it.

The setup is pretty clichéd for a shounen manga: an organisation of superpowered people protect the Earth from otherworldly intruders. It's supposedly scifi, the powers they use are not magic, but advanced technology stolen from the invaders, but in effect it's almost indistinguishable from magic. The setup is probably the weakest point of this manga, but once you get over it, there's a decent story underneath. Not plot-wise, the plot so far is as simple and straightforward as they get, and shrouding the enemies' motivations in mystery isn't anywhere near enough to change that fact. But, sometimes simple and straightforward is enough, particularly in a shounen battle manga.

The MC, Osamu, is your usual heroic goody-two-shoes shounen MC who can't leave anyone in trouble, even if he clearly understands he's putting his life in considerable risk by helping them. There's just one thing: he's pretty normal. And I mean that: he's actually within normal parameters when it comes to power or brain. No hidden talents, no genius tactical thinking, just a mediocre ability to use the alien technology, a decent head on his shoulders, and a protective instinct so strong it frequently leads him to downright reckless actions. Surprisingly, the manga actually makes it work. He's not as boring as he seems at first, nor is he by any means useless, despite having to be frequently saved by his far stronger friends. His circumstances remind me a little of Mx0, as he has unintentionally gathered quite a reputation just by being in the right/wrong place in the right/wrong time and associating with far more powerful characters, and he's often misunderstood to be stronger than he is.

The other MC, Yuuma, is far more interesting at the start. His foreign way of thinking and unfamiliarity with our world's ways makes for quite interesting dialogue with the "normal" Osamu, right from the beginning. Later on, the roots of his foreign thought pattern are explored, and he's also influenced by Osamu, so the intrigue I felt at first is more or less gone now, but he's still a fairly good character overall.

There are a LOT of supporting characters, some of them pretty interesting and possessing considerable potential, but amidst all the action, not many of them have yet had much character development. Still, the cast is lively and diverse, as good as you can expect from a shounen battle manga.

The action gets a lot better after a while. There is logic and diversity in abilities, and the battles get much more exciting and intelligent, quite comparable to some of the better shounen battle manga I've read. Right now, that might be the greatest strength of this manga, keeping my interest alive and well.

I was at first put off by some aspects of the art... namely, the character designs of some of the younger cast... namely, Yuuma and Chika (who'll be properly introduced in the next ep of the anime). Well, I got over it. Overall, the art is quite decent for a shounen battle manga: the action is well done and most of the numerous characters are easy to differentiate by looks.

In conclusion, World Trigger still isn't good enough that I'd go out of my way to recommend it, but I have to say I personally enjoyed it quite a bit. It's nothing amazing, but if you feel like reading a shounen battle manga, here's a decent candidate with slightly better MC than I'm used to seeing in this genre. 3.5 stars.

Music: Anything that goes well with action, really. Usually something heavier rather than lighter, but the tone isn't ultra-dark or anything, so I tried to find the middle road.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2014, 03:55:37 am by Krozam »

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Offline Krozam

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Re: Krozam's Manga Diary
« Reply #44 on: December 14, 2014, 11:59:11 pm »
Yasashii Sekai no Tsukurikata by Takeba Kumiko



http://bato.to/comic/_/comics/a-method-to-make-the-gentle-world-r80
20 ch read.

A young genius is recruited to teach in an all-girls high school. The premise sounds a lot like Denpa Kyoushi. However, the truth is that these two manga have very little in common. Not to say that Denpa Kyoushi isn't good, I found it very entertaining up to where I've read it (ch 46), but I've got to say that Yasashii Sekai completely outclasses it in depth. This is far more realistic, focuses on a smaller cast of very well developed characters, and focuses a fair bit more on romances.

The male lead isn't as good as I had hoped, in terms of likability, but since he has actual depth and dimension, I suppose I shouldn't judge him by the same standards I use on regular harem leads. I suppose, genius or not, he's still only 19 and inexperienced in life, so let's allow him a bit of naïvete and thickheadedness.

The female lead's complexity consists mostly of the discrepancy between her "gal" outer appearance, and her extremely innocent personality. TBH, I think she's among the weaker character in the cast, depth-wise. Which still makes her far deeper than your average romance female lead. Likeable, and kawaii as fuck, too. And maybe the author is saving her arc for the last.

Alone, these two wouldn't carry the manga very well. They could, but not well. Fortunately, the author gives a lot of attention to secondary characters, giving some of them their very own plot threads. The female lead's three friends and two other teachers, as well as some even less prominent characters, are all well defined characters with their own problems, given some development and sometimes romances of their own. Truly, supporting characters are a strong point in this manga.

Another strong point is the art. Even not looking at the author's name (assuming it's not a pen name), I'd guess that she's is female, from the art style, but she sure draws some hot girls, too, even some classy fanservice (which is fairly rare, though). From the start, the art style was top quality, even though this appears to be the mangaka's first series. Overall, very pleasant to the eye, with some attractive characters to ogle at, whether you like guys or girls.

Just like the art, the content of the manga is pretty gender-neutral. By that I mean it contains elements that pander to both genders - and it actually works, maintaining a pretty good balance. I'm not sure if this is serialised in a seinen or josei magazine, but it would fit equally well in both. Due to some mature themes, there's little chance it's shounen or shoujo.

So, as I was saying, I expected a harem, with some Denpa Kyoushi -like elements: the teacher MC helping students resolve their problems with his out-of-the-box thinking, having them fall for him in gratitude. Boy, was I wrong. Sure, the teacher does occasionally help his students with their issues, and one student definitely fell for him for it - but only one. The rest of the students pretty much resolve their issues amongst each other, occasionally with the help of other teachers or outsiders. Although there's a simple romance at the heart of the story, this turned out to be a surprisingly deep and complex story. Woven around that romance, there is a multitude of realistic, painful issues that various characters will have to resolve in order to move forward with their lives. Nothing super heavy, but serious enough to put this manga at least a peg or two above most romance manga I've read, in terms of depth.

Apart from the awkward start (with some stupid misunderstandings that almost made me give up after only 2 chapters), this feels very much like a story written by a professional with clear goals where the story is heading. The author has excellent control over her plot threads, and I get the feeling that this is one story which won't be dragged on beyond its natural lifespan. The dialogue is good: sufficiently entertaining, and carries the story onward at a deliberately controlled pace, neither too slow nor too fast. The drama so far has maintained precarious balance between touching and frustrating. In a story like this, there is alaways a danger of too much melodrama, but so far the author has avoided it, so I'm quite hopeful regarding the last (probably 2) volumes.

In conclusion, this is a manga I could recommend to anyone with a taste for good, serious but not overdone drama, and some sweet romance. I'll give this 4/5 stars, dropping half a star each for the not quite good enough mains and the weak beginning. Might raise it to 4.5 later, if the rest of the manga keeps being great.

Music: Marija Serifovic - Molitva https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlCafldxv1E
A beautiful song, won ESC 2007 completely deservedly.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2014, 03:38:47 pm by Krozam »

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