various manga

I’m not reading as much manga as I used to for various reasons, but am keeping up with a few series. I’ve let them pile up too much to want to post individually for each; I may do fuller writeups with future volumes of some of these.

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Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle v14-15 – CLAMP
CLAMP’s crossover/alternate universe version of their previous works. I think it is technically shounen of the endless quest for parts variety (wandering through worlds looking for Sakura’s feathers). I keep accidentally running across spoilers for this and xxxHOLiC and may eventually resort to other means of reading them. I’ve been meaning to stop reading this, but keep seeing volumes when I have coupons and am now more interested because of a spoiler I saw. I kind of wish I was more familiar with CLAMP’s other works so that I could recognize more of the background characters.

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Genju no Seiza v4-5 – Matsuri Akino (Pet Shop of Horrors)
This has gorgeous artwork, but kind of a generic plot. Fuuto Kamishina is a fifteen-year-old high school student; he father is famous photographer who vanished a few years earlier and his mother was living among the sherpa in the Himalayas. They have moved frequently since his father vanished. Fuuto sees a news item about the new king of Dhalashar, and soon after is accosted by a Garuda (half man, half bird that others only see as a bird) who claims he is the rightful king. Fuuto rejects this claim and tries to continue leading a normal life; unfortunately, he has always had various psychic powers (one of the reasons for the frequent moves) and those powers are rapidly increasing. He becomes friends with Professor Ichijo, who wants to believe in everything but who has no spiritual powers, and Mayu, who is wheelchair-bound, completely emotionless, and who has some powers. The stories are sometimes Fuuto using his powers to solve other’s problems, randomly astrally traveling by touching artifacts, and dealing with the various problems caused by being thought the next king of Dhalashar (astrally traveling and meeting the acting king and dealing with his various guardians and assassins being sent by the power behind the throne (several assassins end up as guardians)). One of the previous volumes featured a descendant of Abe no Seimei who has no powers and who wants to be an astronomer; the arc that begins in volume five has Fuuto, Seishun (the descendant) and three of his guardians sent back to the Heian era, where they meet Abe no Seimei and try not to affect history. I like this series much more than I expected. Fuuto is a typical obnoxious high school boy in the beginning but does change and grow as the story progresses (though he still acts the same); the current plot with Fuuto wanting to help those around him but being unable to because of the fear of paradox and the knowledge that he should not interfere with the natural progression was painful (in a good way), and I am looking forward to the next volume.

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Kamen Tantei v1-2 – Matsuri Akino
High school students Haruka Akashi (junior, female, a bit of a tomboy) and Masato Nishina (sophomore, male) are the only members of their school’s mystery club, and have written a novel that they entered in a mystery contest (using the name Taro Suzuki; they don’t want to be known as the authors). Weird things and mysterious deaths start happening around them, and a masked man randomly appears and gives them hints as to the solutions (and also gives them the hook for their novel: Kamen Tantei, the masked detective); in one case, he claims to be the author Taro Suzuki (with sunglasses instead of the mask). There are often supernatural elements to the cases; Masato can see ghosts (but can’t do anything about them), Haruka does not believe in them, and “Taro Suzuki” sent one on to the next world. Some of the stories also blur the line between fiction and reality; I wasn’t sure in one case if the story was their new novel or something happening in the real world, and another featured someone who was living in a fantasy world (which Masato and Haruka entered). This didn’t really work for me, and I don’t know why; I like her other works and this is the sort of thing that I like, but it didn’t really grip me. I didn’t really care about Masato or Haruka (and kept thinking she was a guy), but I am curious about the masked man; it is only four volumes, which is a point in its favor.

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Tramps Like Us v13 – Yayoi Ogawa
The story of a career woman (late twenties) and her pet Momo (a twenty-ish dancer) and her boyfriend Hasumi. I don’t know why Tokyopop chose that name, but I adore this series, even though there are several reasons why I shouldn’t (for one thing, I generally hate lying and secret-keeping, and Momo is a big secret). This is volume thirteen of fourteen, and everything is falling into place (and any mention of specifics would be spoilers for the final resolution). I will probably write up the series as a whole once the last volume is released (in February, I think).

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tactics v1-2 (ADV release) – Sakura Kinoshita and Kazuko Higashiyama
tactics v3 (Tokyopop release)
I reread 1-2 after watching v3 of the anime, 3 was just released. Kantarou is a folklore researcher and occult expert; he theoretically writes for a living, but is often distracted by the supernatural. Since childhood, he heard stories of a demon-eating tengu, and wanted to find it and name it Haruka; naming a youkai causes it to obey the namer. ADV released the first two volumes a few years ago, and then dropped it; there were some issues with their translation (most notably, Sugino’s gender). Tokyopop rescued the license and re-released the first two volumes with a new translation; I didn’t bother re-buying them but will buy the following, maybe. Haruka is now a demon-eating tengu instead of a demon-eating goblin, which is a slight improvement. The stories are mostly episodic (someone approaches Kantarou about a supernatural problem, Kantarou, with Haruka and often Youko (his kitsune housekeeper/maid), investigates and solves the problem while Youko worries about money (they are perpetually almost broke). There are recurring characters and vague hints of overall plot. The first story in volume three was kind of disjointed, but I think that was a fault of the original rather than the adaptation; I had a similar issue with parts of the ADV-released Matantei Loki Ragnarok (by Sakura Kinoshita). I’ll buy the next volume, but further will depend on what I think of that one; it’s kind of generic, and several of the characters annoy me (though not as badly as their anime versions).

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Vampire Hunter D: The Stuff of Dreams – Hideyuki Kikuchi
not technically manga, but is often filed with it. I bought the first novel, found the prose too purple for my tastes and gave it to my sister, who enjoyed it. I borrowed another one from her and did not finish it due to the writing style and the appalling amount of sentence fragments (which I might not have noticed if I liked the style or was more interested in the plot). She eventually stopped buying them because they mostly had the same plot, but sent me this one with a note that it was her favorite due to a different plot. I liked it well enough; either the style was less florid or I found the plot interesting enough that I didn’t notice it as much. I did like the wandering in and out of dreams, but I’m not sure which bits were reality and which were dreams. I am unlikely to read any more of these without a recommendation, though.

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