Category Archives: Manga or Graphic Novel

Review: Henshin by Ken Niimura

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Title: Henshin
Author: Ken Niimura
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: January 27th 2015
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 296 pages
Source: eARC from the Publisher via NetGalley

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I Kill Giants co-creator Ken Niimura (International Manga Award winner and Eisner nominee) brings a unique vision of life in Japan to the page in Henshin. The lives of a kid with peculiar superpowers, a lonely girl discovering herself in the big city, and a businessman on a long night out are some of the short stories included in this collection that will make you laugh, and even maybe shed a tear.

Explore Tokyo as you’ve never seen it before under Nimura’s masterful and imaginative storytelling, printed here for the first time in English.

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It’s weird and way too japanese. And I really loved Ken’s cat, it’s so adorable. Henshin means ‘transformation’ in japanese and is an anthology of 13 stories that portrays the everday life in modern Tokyo. Well, if you don’t know what manga really is or have zero familiarity at all. I suggest that you shouldn’t pick up this one. Why? The stories aren’t that bad, in fact I liked them. There are just lots of strange stuff to take in, that beginners may find it confusing and odd. Who knows that fart could be a powerful weapon? Or a typical guy who could suddenly turn out into a monster? Or is it the mysterious cat who likes to poop a lot? But if you really want to try this out, it’s okay. Just go on reading, it is confusing, I know but you’ll enjoy it eventually.

The stories are set in different genres, non-fiction and fiction. Some are dark, some are funny, and some are heartwarming but all keep in a lighter atmosphere. Ken Niimura’s artwork is also remarkable because the illustration is different from the usual manga art. It’s quite chaotic but impressive and cute. So, here’s a sneak peek:

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Behind the images and stories, Henshin vividly captures the real life in a modern society in an imaginative and sly way. My favorite story is the Victory Sign, it’s about the never ending friendship between Kieta and Kosuke. Though it is only a 20-page or so, the story still touches my heart. You can actually download a sample copy of it legally here. Just read the article and you’ll see the download button there. Par-tay and Shut Up are also my favorite. Lastly, Ken also inlcluded himself in the manga. It’s cool and something new to me. He shared his fascination for cats which is cute and funny, his life experiences, and his journey through the publication of this book that is very inspiring. Recommended.

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Review: Manga Classics: Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austin

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Title: Manga Classics: Pride & Prejudice
Author: Jane Austin; Stacy King; Po Tse (Illustrator)
Publisher: UDON Entertainment & Morpheus Publishing
Publication Date: August 19th 2014
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 377 pages
Source: eCopy from the Publisher via NetGalley

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Beloved by millions the world over, Pride & Prejudice is delightfully transformed in this bold, new manga adaptation. All of the joy, heartache, and romance of Jane Austen’s original, perfectly illuminated by the sumptuous art of manga-ka Po Tse, and faithfully adapted by Stacy E. King.

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Classic is not really my cup of tea. I always avoid it, in fact. I remember my first classic way back in high school. I had to read it for school, of course. It was a good read but not an enjoyable one. But having able to experience classic in another clever way is fantastic. I got to see their manga adaptation of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne first, which is really incredible with that stunning artwork.

This is also a great adaptation but the repetition of the words “Pride” and “Prejudice” throughout the story ruins the dialogues especially in the ending. The artwork Po Tse provided in this manga is totally gorgeous. I liked how he portrayed each characters and how he turned them into cute chibi version especially Mrs. Bennet character. It made the reading more enjoyable and humorous. But the roses that sometimes surround the character quite bother me. I mean, girls will surely appreciate and love that but a typical guy, I think it’s a no.

Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable and fantastic read.

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Review: Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Title: Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter
Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne; Stacy King; Crystal Chan; SunNeko Lee (Illustrator)
Publisher: UDON Entertainment and Morpheus Publishing
Publication Date: March 10th 2015
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 308 pages
Source: eARC from the Publisher via NetGalley

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A powerful tale of forbidden love, shame, and revenge comes to life in Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter. Faithfully adapted by Crystal Chan from the original novel, this new edition features stunning artwork by SunNeko Lee (Manga Classics: Les Miserables) which will give old and new readers alike a fresh insight into the Nathaniel Hawthorne’s
tragic saga of Puritan America.

Manga Classics editions feature classic stories, faithfully adapted and illustrated in manga style, and available in both hardcover and softcover editions.

Proudly presented by UDON Entertainment and Morpheus Publishing.

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This classic to manga adaptation is incredible. It is a brilliant way of making classic literature more appealing to the younger generation who’s not really that fond of reading classics and hesitant readers alike, like me, who usually avoid it.

I haven’t read the original novel so I can’t do comparison between the two. But I’ll just look into how effective this manga is. First off, SunNeko Lee’s artwork is with no doubt very stunning and captivating. She made the characters and the backgrounds alive and vivid that will keep you engage with the story. And finish it in one sitting down. Also, Stacy King used the modern text in the dialogues instead of the original one. Which is very okay to those people who struggle with vocabulary. Well this is really an enjoyable read. Highly recommended!

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Review: Henni by Miss Lasko-Gross

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Title: Henni
Author: Miss Lasko-Gross
Publisher: Z2 Comics
Publication Date: January 20th 2015
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 168 pages
Source: eARC from the Publisher via NetGalley

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In a fantastical world where old traditions and religion dominate every aspect of life, lives a girl named Henni. Unlike most in her village, Henni questions and wonders what the world is like as she comes of age. Striking out on her own, Henni goes out in search of truth, adventure, and more!

Written and drawn by Miss Lasko-Gross (A Mess of Everything and Escape From Special), Henni is a commentary on religion, coming of age and being yourself.

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A cat-like girl named Henni lives in a society where a false religion and old tradition dominate everyone. With Henni’s curiosity, as she grows up, she tends to question everything around her whether if it is right or wrong. And aparrently finds herself looking for answers.

I easily find myself liking Henni, for she is a very bold and witty character who didn’t let her surrounding controls her life. And has a great determination in seeking the truth. The Disruptor is also a lovable character who owns a true heart of an artist. Because he never stops doing what he loves despite the fact that both of his eyes are removed and the city that continuously ruins all his works.

Miss Lasko-Gross addresses many issues in this story: the old traditions, religion, gender inequality, and the caste system-like society. Where Miss still able to carry out the issues cleverly till the end of the story. A simple story yet holds a strong message.

Henni ends in an abrupt way but I’d love to see if there’s going to be a next installation. The story obviously targets the younger audiences but teenagers alike will also find this good. Recommended!

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Review: Stones of Power by Azumi Isora

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Title: Stones of Power
Author: Azumi Isora
Publisher: Gen Manga Entertainment
Publication Date: December 30th 2014
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 168 pages
Source: eARC from the Publisher via NetGalley

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Cafe Renard seems to be your run-of-the-mill establishment, but it is more than meets the eye. When strangers stumble upon the hidden secret within an average business front, they find a mysterious woman selling stones with magical properties. Before they know it they are transported on strange adventures of science fiction and fantasy.

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It is tough giving this manga a one star. And I really tried hard to devour everything the author has offered in this story. But that everything fails to keep my interest. The endless fish and the magic stone talking are tiresome in some way. I mean it is good that Isora includes facts about those expensive fishes and those power stones. But it overshadows the other elements of the story, like the characters. She digs out to much information about fishes and stones and almost forgets that there are actually people in the story to fill in. Which leads all the character to voice out every bit of informations about them to the readers. So it is like watching a commercial on tv, endorsing their product to the audience with a boring script. So I felt disengaged with all the characters. And only know one thing about them: they like fish. Gahh, fish again.

And after all that fishy thing talking, here comes a big big ball from only god knows where that holds a powerful monster or a snake something. And follows many things that no one seems to care about. And for the artwork, it’s drawn like your typical manga. So no emphasizing on that part.

I’m not really sure if I’m going to recommend this manga. Maybe no. And before I end this review let me tell you something, this thing really bugs me from the very start, it’s the Cafe Renan.This may be a petty observation but I haven’t seen any other customers in the cafe nor the siblings serving coffee to anyone in the entire manga. But I’ve seen them selling stones but never a single cup of coffee. Nor doing any coffee related stuff. See? I told you it’s not really important.

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Review: Le Portrait de Petite Cossette by Asuka Katsura

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Title: Le Portrait de Petite Cossette
Author: Asuka Katsura
Publisher: TokyoPop
Publication Date: July 3rd 2006
Series or Standalone: Le Portrait de Petite Cossette #1
Format: Paperback, 194 pages

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Based on the popular anime!

Eiri works part-time at an antique shop, where he becomes obsessed with Cossette, a girl whose portrait is on sale in the store. But Cossette has a tragic story: People who own the painting have all been murdered in bizarre ways. When Cossette’s spirit appears in front of Eiri, she asks him to save her…Filled with timeless themes of love and redemption, this tragic Gothic romance is an unforgettable journey into the heart of a tortured soul.

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The story was about a guy named Eiri who was haunted by Cossette who insisted a help coming from him.

Okay. The book was so creepy in a good way. I like the killings in every chapter, the mystery of Cossette, the way Eiri helped the girl, and also the graphic was really excellent.

The manga has only two volumes, its very short. Based on the popular anime. This one is worth a shot.

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Review: VS Alien by Yu Suzuki

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Title: VS Alien
Author: Yu Suzuki
Publisher: Gen Manga Entertainment
Publication Date: April 10th 2012
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Format: Paperback,174 pages
Source: eCopy from the Publisher via NetGalley

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Kitaro must unravel a mystery between the two cutest girls in school. One claims the other is an alien! Is Sana Sakuma really a secret visitor from outer space or is this some elaborate prank? The mystery spirals in and out, back and forth, keeping you guessing unti the very end. Do you want to believe?

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There’s no doubt that this is one of the cutest manga I have read. This is the kind of book you should pick up whenever you’re in bad mood or just annoyed by the book you’ve recently read. It was a funny and light read. That will surely give smile to your face and brighten your day.

Everything about the story would keep you turn the pages and the art was fabulous. It added to the cuteness of the manga and gave more life to the characters. So I had no problem with discerning this certain character from the others. But the only con with this one was the ending. Yes, It was like a fantasy book with a protagonist fighting demons or monsters but it would end up with the character waking and realizing that everything was just a nightmare. Of course the character here wasn’t dreaming or whatever but close to the said idea. And also the realization was thrown out easily not giving the readers the chance to guess or think.

But I was serious earlier about this manga uplifting your mood. So still recommended.

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Review: A Tale of Two Mommies by Vanita Oelschlager

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Title: A Tale of Two Mommies
Author: Vanita Oelschlager; Mike Blanc (Illustrator)
Publisher: Vanita Books
Publication Date: September 1st 2011
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
Source: eCopy from the Publisher via NetGalley
My Rating: 5/5

BLURB:

A Tale of Two Mommies is a beach conversation among three children. One boy asks another boy about having two mommies. A young girl listening in asks some questions too.

True to a child’s curiosity, practical questions follow. “Which mom is there when you want to go fishing? / Which mom helps out when Kitty goes missing?” To which he answers: “Mommy helps when I want to go fishing. / Both Mommies help when Kitty goes missing.”

A Tale of Two Mommies is intended for 4-8 year olds. This book lets us look inside one non traditional family, a same sex couple and their son. As the children talk, it’s clear this boy lives in a nurturing environment where the biggest issues are the
everyday challenges of growing up.

REVIEW:

Vanita Oelschlager created an awesome book again! A Tale of Two Mommies is as beautiful and engaging as to A Tale of Two Daddies. The story is still bright and inspiring with a captivating illustration. Which is really cheerful and cute. The kids are really cute. And so adorable.

As time goes by, more and more same-sex couples are raising children of their own, and this book would help the kids to know that the different is not really that wrong, so they can grow up without confusion. This will explain to them that growing up with a non-traditional family is as normal as growing up with a mom and dad. The conversations are simple so the kids won’t find it hard to understand. And surely the art will keep them engage. Highly recommended for kids!!

Review: C.O.W.L. Volume 1: Principles of Power by Kyle Higgins

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Title: C.O.W.L. Volume 1:
Principles of Power
Author: Kyle Higgins , Alec Siegel; Rod Reis (Illustrator)
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: November 11th 2014
Series or Standalone: C.O.W.L. #1
Format: Paperback, 128 pages
Source: eCopy from the Publisher via NetGalley
My Rating: 4/5

BLURB:

Welcome to the “Chicago Organized Workers League”- the world’s first Super-Hero Labor Union! While C.O.W.L. once stood as a beacon of hope against an epidemic of organized crime and an unbeatable “brotherhood” of Super-Villains, the union now faces its fiercest foe yet- a disillusioned public. In targeting the last of the great villains, C.O.W.L. attempts to prove its value to the world and to each other, while staving off villainy from both outside and inside its offices.

REVIEW:

Well I’m giving this 4 stars mostly because of the art. I don’t know how art stuff works but what I know is, the illustration is freaking incredible. It really is beautiful, Rod Reis’s art makes every scenes realistic and it keeps you attach to the story.

And to the story itself, the characters in here are your typical super heroes but they are still interesting. I’m just hoping to see more development in them in the next installment (and to see more of Grant and Eclipse). And it is also good that the story didn’t only focus to the never ending fighting scenes  but paves way to the feelings of each characters. Because we are able to see the different sides of a hero. Not just their powers. Yeah, there’s a bit drama but a good one. The twist is also good and shocking at the same time.

I believe the story will get better in the next installments and I’ll probably continue with this series. Recommend!

Review: A Tale of Two Daddies by Vanita Oelschlager

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Title: A Tale of Two Daddies
Author: Vanita Oelschlager, Kristin Blackwood & Mike Blanc (Illustrators)
Publisher: Vanita Books
Publication Date: April 1st 2010
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 42 pages
Source: eCopy from the Publisher via NetGalley

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A Tale of Two Daddies is a playground conversation between two children. The boy says he heard that the girl has two dads. The girl says that is right–she has
Daddy and Poppa. True to a child’s curiosity, practical questions follow: “Which dad helps when your team needs a coach? / Which dad cooks you eggs and toast?” To which she answers: “Daddy is my soccer coach. / Poppa cooks me eggs and toast.”

Intended for 4- to 8-year-olds, this book introduces a type of family increasingly visible in modern society. Neither favoring nor condemning, it reflects a child’s practical and innocent look at the adults who nurture and love her. It becomes clear that the family bond is unburdened by any cultural discomforts.

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Oh gods. This is sooooo cute! I want to snuggle those two kids right here in my arms. They’re just so so cute. And I love the illustration of the book, it is beautiful.

So this is about a little girl who has two fathers: Poppa and Daddy. And has a little boy friend who asks her everything about her two daddies. Like who braids her hair, who baths her, etc. And I like the way how the whole thing ends with the little girl smiling and holding both her fathers different hands. And telling her friend that they love her.

Vanita Oelschlager created such a simple story yet holds a very strong message. That it is definitely not wrong to grow up with two fathers or two mothers. That living with a gay family makes no difference with living with a traditional family. And the little girl proves that.

I really really do love this story because it’s very simple yet so meaningful. And I love it. Everyone should read this!

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