Category Archives: Manga Monday

Attack on Titan S2E38 “Southwestward” Review and Analysis

In Attack on Titan’s Southwestward,” we get a build-up to what should be one of the defining battles of the second season: The Siege at Utgard Castle. This episode seems to work as more of a build for the next couple of episodes to come. Without much to lean on story-wise, this episode builds up the anticipation of what’s about to happen.

The episode starts with a cold-open on one of the most significant parts of the entire episode. We’re back with Connie Springer in his home town trying to figure out what exactly happened. As Connie tries to come to grip with what happened to all his family and friends, other members of the Survey Corp try to help Connie figure out what transpired. Lynne suggests that because there’s no carnage, all of the villagers had to have escaped unharmed. Gelgar questions Lynne’s conclusion because Titans aren’t known for ransacking anywhere other than to specifically target humans. Moreover, all of the horses remained in the stables which means that the humans would’ve had a low likelihood of reaching safety with titans on their heels.

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As they’re getting ready to move out, Connie hears the most haunting words uttered in the entire series of Attack on Titan, “Welcome Home.” Connie looks in sheer terror after seeing a Titan speak for the first time. The Titan who crushed his home and his spirit leaves Connie with more questions and no answers as to what happened to his family

The rest of the episode does an alright job of building suspense for the coming episodes while fleshing out the secondary characters. We get to see more of the relationship with Ymir and Christa who in season one were all but non-existent. The show also builds on the collective intelligence of Hanji and Armin who are able to work out that the walls were probably created by Titans still living inside of the walls. Pastor Nick finally speaks up and gives the Scout Corps some desperately needed information that Christa, a 104th Regiment Recruit, is the key to all of the Scout Corps questions. Pastor Nick says only Christa is able to reveal the answers that Hanji has been seeking, and they must find her to discover the truth. Just as this reveal happens, Sasha reports back to Hanji and Levi that they are needed at Castle Utgard.

As we skip over to Castle Utgard we find the impending doom for the remaining 9 scouts locked up in the castle tower. Titans are moving at night, somehow powered by the full moon, and the scouting group has the unfortunate luck to see the Beast Titan for the first time. As things seem dire for the Scout Regiment locked up in their tower, Hanji’s squad rides towards Castle Utgard to give some much-needed assistance.

This episode provides the viewer with a relative break in the action so that the episode can rebuild the suspense and horror that is sure to come over the next few episodes. In shows like Attack on Titan, it’s important to break up the constant slaughtering with a bit of solid foreshadowing so that the horrors of the Attack on Titan world don’t become predictable and normalized. While it’s not necessarily as exciting as the battle intensive episodes, I get why it’s needed, it just isn’t as satisfying as the episodes that came before or after.

Overall Rating: 7.20

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Viz Media Expands The Legend of Zelda Manga Collection

VIZ Media expands its library of manga for The Legend of Zelda with the release of The Legend of Zelda: Legendary Edition – The Minish Cap/Phantom Hourglass on May 9th.

The Legend of Zelda: Legendary Editions adapt the 10-volume manga series, based on the classic Nintendo role-playing, puzzle-solving, action video game, into a new line of deluxe, omnibus 2-in-1 editions that feature new covers and color illustrations by creator Akira Himekawa. The Legend of Zelda: Legendary Edition – The Minish Cap/Phantom Hourglass is rated ‘A’ for All Ages and will carry a print MSRP of $17.99 U.S. / $24.99 CAN.

In the latest adventures, as a hero and a knight of the realm, it is Link’s duty to serve Princess Zelda and protect the land of Hyrule. Dangers come in all forms both on land and at sea. Join Link on quests to overcome the threat of the Minish Cap and unlock the secrets of the Phantom Hourglass.

The Legend of Zelda manga series was created by Akira Himekawa, which is the pen name of two women known simply as A. Honda and S. Nagano. The pair created The Legend of Zelda manga series which was inspired by several games and story arcs in the Zelda video game series. They have created a variety of manga adventures, which are published by VIZ Media, featuring Link and the popular video game world of The Legend of Zelda, including Ocarina of Time, Oracle of Seasons, Four Swords and more.

Additional Legend of Zelda: Legendary Editions that are currently available from VIZ Media include The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Legendary Edition, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons/Oracle of Ages – Legendary Edition and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask/A Link to the Past – Legendary Edition.

Readers also are invited to enjoy VIZ Media’s The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the latest manga series also created by Akira Himekawa.

Review: Strike & Slayer Chapter 1

While I’m still getting into manga as a whole, it’s still interesting to not just see the difference between the various creators, but the differences of where they’re made too. Enter Strike & Slayer by writer Darius Walker with art by Renzo Cardenos and there’s a lot of promise there, but as a first volume there’s still some chopiness that’s pretty clear, though not fatal to the enjoyment.

Published by Shining Otaku Comics, the story is about a husband and wife team who help local towns to defeat demon like creatures called “nightmares.” Both are able to control magic with both living lifetimes at this point.

The story has its ups and downs as Walker and Cardenas do their best to mimic the style of comic they love in manga. There’s big battles with lots of over the top scenes (a must for me when it comes to action manga), and while the general story is smooth there’s some issues when it comes to the dialogue which at times can be stilted and other times isn’t needed. The comic is a bit more tell than show, something that feels like the opposite of a lot of the manga I’ve read. We get each character explaining their situations are a moment and it’s clear it’s to us the reader, not to anyone on the page. That’s the sort of issues that pepper this first volume and whole odd at times, it’s still enjoyable.

Cardenas’ art is fantastic at times, but like the dialogue, the art is also hit and miss. At times, there’s fantastic images that really bring home the action and single panels showing off characters or nightmares look solid as well, but the narrative flow isn’t quite there. Cardenas doesn’t really nail the flow of the images and action, there’s not a sense of movement, just static panels, and scenes that feel a bit stilted instead of working together.

Striker & Slayer is a good start to the series that lays things out, a bit too much in a way, and the concept and twists are good. There’s just a roughness to the volume that kept me from getting really sucked into it. What will be interesting is seeing how the series evolves over each volume, hopefully showing improvement as it goes along.

Story: Darius Walker Art: Renzo Cardenas Cover: Felix Sewada Letters: Ervin Johnson
Story: 5.5 Art: 5.5 Overall: 5.5 Recommendation: Pass

Shining Otaku Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Attack on Titan S2E27 “I’m Home” Review and Analysis

In Attack on Titan “I’m Home,” we finally get to dive into one of my favorite supporting characters of the show, Sasha Blouse. This episode serves a parallel between Sasha and her survey corps companion Connie Springer as each rush home after Titans are spotted within Wall Rose. With both Sasha and Connie unsure of how their villages and families have fared since the Titans have been spotted, they both head home in hopes of saving their loved ones before it’s too late.

It’s not very often that we get backstory to the other characters in this world whose last names don’t end in Ackerman or Jaeger, making this episode a breath of fresh air in the series. Typically when a side character in this show gets any attention it typically means they’re about to become titan fodder. While in the manga, Sasha survives past this chapter, the creator of Attack on Titan, Hajime Isayama, has said that he initially planned for Sasha to die during this chapter. As Sasha fought off the most human-like titan to date, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the anime was finally going to break in a major moment from the manga and kill off Sasha. Luckily Sasha, was spared a grizzly death as she was able to escape from the titan death hug. Managing to save a child in the process, she is able to find her father and a band of local farmers as they head out rescue other families in nearby villages.

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While Sasha’s story ends on a surprisingly positive note, the creative forces at Attack on Titan want to remind you that happiness is fleeting and pain is forever. Unlike Sasha, Connie gets to his village to find that everything is destroyed. As he walks through the ruins, he’s haunted by past memories of his family. He finally arrives at his childhood home to find a half-formed titan with useless legs and arms laying on top of the shambles of his former life. Presumably, with everyone he knew and loved crushed beneath the titan, Connie and his fellow scouts are left wondering: How did the partially-formed titan end up crushing Connie’s house?

Attack on Titan does their best world building when they’re able to step back from Eren’s personal problems and focus on the secondary characters that really help humanize life within the walls. This episode is no exception as we get to see a parallel story showing all the horrors of titans attacking the rural parts within Wall Rose.

Overall Rating: 8.55

VIZ Media Details Brand New April Digital Manga Update

VIZ Media continues to celebrate the spring reading season with a brand new digital manga update for April that features the launch of several notable new series as well as updates to scores of popular continuing titles.

This month, new series debuts include Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, which introduces the son of the world’s most famous ninja, Naruto. Can Boruto follow in his legendary father’s footsteps?

Additional April debuts include Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V, new shojo series, The Water Dragon’s Bride, the digital exclusive debut of élDlive and Tokyo Ghoul: Past, the latest novel based on the popular horror manga.

Readers are also invited to take advantage of special digital pricing on the entire library of titles from the Shonen Jump imprint. Don’t miss out on this massive digital sale, available now!

Shonen Jump Digital Manga Sale

Kick off April with special pricing on the entire catalogue of Shonen Jump manga series. All volumes of Shonen Jump series will be on sale for only $4.99 per volume. Available through April 10th across all digital platforms.

Check VIZ.com each week throughout April for additional manga titles to be featured in this month’s digital sales!

Weekly Shonen Jump Free Chapters

Explore a wide range of acclaimed manga series currently featured in the world’s most popular manga magazine, Weekly Shonen Jump. For a limited time only, enjoy all free chapters of My Hero Academia from volume’s 1-3 of the series! Free Chapters for a variety of popular Weekly Shonen Jump series are available online.

Free chapters are available now for the following series:

  • Astra Lost in Space
  • Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
  • Dragon Bal Super
  • élDlive
  • My Hero Academia
  • Rurouni Kenshin
  • The Promised Neverland
  • And more!

Digital manga updates for April include new volumes for 18 continuing VIZ Media series. Notable new releases this month include the latest volumes for 7ThGarden (Vol. 4), Assassination Classroom (Vol. 15), Black Clover (Vol. 6), The Children Nowadays (Vol. 3), Food Wars! (Vol. 17), Haikyu!! (Vol. 10), Kuroko’s Basketball (Vol. 5) and Twin Star Exorcists (Vol. 8). New additions to ongoing shojo series include The Demon Prince of Momochi House (Vol. 8), Honey So Sweet (Vol. 6), So Cute It Hurts!! (Vol. 12), and Yona of the Dawn (Vol. 5).

 

Most manga volumes are available for purchase and download in the U.S. and Canada within the VIZ Manga application starting from only $4.99 (U.S. / CAN) each. Readers can also explore free Chapter 1 previews of most series.

Attack on Titan S2E26 “Beast Titan” Review and Analysis

Attack on TitanBeast Titan” starts with a cold open recap of what happened in the series finale with a voiceover from the voice actor for Hanji, the lovable and totally insane squad leader of the 4th squad. Hanji walks us through the battle of Stohess between Annie and Eren and the aftermath they caused. For the last couple of seconds, the anime lingers on the titan hiding in the wall to remind us of the major cliffhanger we left off at the end of season one.

Just are you’re redigesting the fact that the walls are made of Titans and how utterly screwed all of humanity is, you’re kicked straight into the Opening Credits. If I have any criticism of this first episode, it’s that the opening music is not nearly as memorable as the two songs in the first season, but to be fair it’s definitely growing on me. Most of the title sequence is forgettable until we get to this image:

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WHY IS THERE A FLOATING WHALE AND A T-REX IN THE OPENING SEQUENCE? WHAT DOES IT MEAN? DO THEY KNOW SOMETHING WE DON’T KNOW? I’m all for a crossover between Jurassic Park, Free Willy, and Attack on Titan, but I doubt that’s their plan here. I’m going to assume that there’s some hidden symbolism that is going way over my head because that’s the only way I’m going to be able to digest this image.

The first half of the show sets the stage and throws us right back into the action with Hanji threatening Minister Nick, a priest in the Wall Cult, to divulge information about the titan(s?) within the wall. Once he refuses even after being threatened and held off the edge of the wall, Hanji lets up. At the very least, she had determined that those within the government and the Wall Cult who know about the titans were willing to die to keep everyone else ignorant. Immediately the show introduces that there is a massive conspiracy to withhold information from the public concerning the titans which will probably be an overarching theme through the entire season.

The show then shifts gears to the 104th regiment who are holed up in a castle within Wall Rose (the second of three total walls) in order to kick us back into the main plot. Reiner and Bertolt are playing chess backwards (symbolism?) while Reiner remarks that the Scout Corps seems to be guarding them. We later find out that Reiner’s suspicions are justified, as Scout leaders like Miche mention that they’re afraid that another member of the 104th regiment is a titan. Then when Sasha collapses from boredom and lays her head on the table, she feels the distinct vibration of titans approaching their location within Wall Rose which, as Reiner nervously points out, means that the Titans have breached the second wall. A great part about this show is each character reacts very specifically to news like the titan breach of Wall Rose and you can watch as the show’s directors brilliantly lay a trail of clues for the fans.

In the second half of the show, the action ramps up extremely quickly as the show reintroduces the titans, and immediately I felt like I was watching the show for the first time. The animation of the titans is so unsettling, I immediately felt that pit in my stomach as Miche rides in to fight the titans even though he’s is vastly outnumbered. After Miche takes down multiple titans (including my favorite: The Ronaldo Titan shout out to /u/faithplate on Reddit for the great comparison), he calls for his horse, but is frozen with fear when he sees the lumbering Beast Titan. There’s something about the Beast Titan’s proportions that makes him such an unnerving foe, and as the Beast Titan hurls a horse at Miche like Randy Johnson in his prime, you realize that Miche doesn’t stand a chance. Sure enough he falls straight into the mouth of a tiny grotesque titan, but right as the mini titan is about to deal the final blow, a booming voice instructs the titan to stop chewing. Much to Miche’s horror, and the viewers, that voice is coming from the Beast Titan.

The Beast Titan then tries to question Miche about his 3D maneuver gear, but since Miche is frozen in fear, the Beast Titan removes the 3D maneuver gear and leaves Miche defenseless as the Beast Titan instructs the other titans to eat Miche. The most interesting thing about this interaction is that the Beast Titan doesn’t seem to recognize or understand what Miche was wearing and seems to be genuinely intrigued as to what the 3D maneuver gear is. Anyone who lives within the walls should know at least the basics of 3D maneuver gear, so if he’s not from within the walls, who exactly is the Beast Titan? The episode ends with one of the most gruesome things I’ve watched in recent memory and Miche’s screams are truly haunting. Just like that the episode is over and the end credits roll as you’re still trying to grapple with what you just witnessed.

Since I am an avid reader of the Manga as well as an avid watcher of the Anime, I’m going to keep the next paragraph strictly to the confines of what the anime has shown so far. I do want to point out that the end credits of the anime show images from the manga that were only recently released in the last 7 months and are gigantic spoilers if someone were to decrypt what they mean. I will do my best to objectively walk through what’s going on below, but you have been warned if you sleuth out the underlying meaning.

No time to grieve Miche because the end credits are absolutely packed with allusions to 15th century Christianity church murals. As the creepily happy music plays in the background we’re flashed with images of a devil giving an unidentifiable object to a woman, heavily invoking the bible’s temptation of Eve. We also see a gigantic woman emerging from the sea while soldiers try to attack her and a lightning rages on all around them. An interesting thing to note here, she could definitely be a titan, but has nipples- a feature which has not been included on any titan we’ve seen so far. Then the sequence moves onto an image of a king feeding three young girls what looks like parts of a corpse. This is by far the most interesting religious-styled image they show because while the other two images have been shown in the manga, this one is brand new and hasn’t appeared yet in any chapter currently released. The final image that packs a lot of future symbolism is the cracked mural depicting what looks like multiple titans all centered around a female titan that looks similar to the woman emerging from the sea. Whatever their plan is for revealing the information in the end credits, it was an extremely bold decision to hint at what’s to come for the people exclusively watching the Anime.

It has been 3 years 6 months and 9 days since I watched Attack on Titan’s season one finale. During the past three and a half years I have held 4 different jobs, adopted a new cat, and moved 1300 miles. To put it simply, it’s been a fucking long time since I’ve watched a new episode of Attack on Titan. I was afraid that I would either have grown out of the show, or that WIT Studio might’ve lost the spark that made season one a global hit. I am happy to say that the new episode is just as good as the first season and does not miss a beat in reintroducing fans as well as new viewers into the terrifying and intense world inside the confines of Wall Rose.

Overall Rating: 9.75

Dark Horse Announces Over 1.2 Million Copies of “Berserk” Manga Sold!

He is Guts, the Black Swordsman, a feared warrior, spoken of in whispers. The bearer of a gigantic sword and an iron hand, he wears the scars of countless battles and tortures. After over three years of anticipation, creator Kentaro Miura has completed the latest volume of the ongoing Berserk saga. Manga mayhem to the extreme is back with a vengeance!

Still going strong after over twenty-five years in Japan and first published in 2003 by Dark Horse Manga, Berserk is one of the most popular and longest-running seinen series ever published in North America, and with over 1.2 million copies sold, Berserk has recently smashed onto the New York Times best-selling manga list.

On July 5, 2017, Berserk Volume 38 brings Guts and company to the isle of Skellig in hopes that elven magic can cure the afflicted Casca, but the cure could come at a deadly cost. Meanwhile, Guts’s Band of the Hawk comrade Rickert journeys to the city of Falconia, the seat of power for Griffith, the resurrected former Hawks commander. But the glittering towers of Falconia cast the darkest of shadows, and a legion of demonic monstrosities dwell in the darkness!

VIZ Announces Boruto: Naruto the Movie and Boruto: Naruto Next Generations

VIZ Media delivers the highly-anticipated home video release of Boruto: Naruto the Movie on March 28th, and will be followed by the Volume 1 launch of the Boruto manga series on April 4th.

Boruto: Naruto the Movie will be released as a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack as well as a Standard Edition DVD. This exciting anime feature film adventure is based on the smash hit Naruto manga series created by Masashi Kishimoto and depicts the rebellious son of the legendary ninja who seeks to become an even greater ninja.

The Boruto: Naruto the Movie Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack will carry an MSRP of $29.98 U.S. / $34.99 CAN; the Standard Edition DVD-only Set will have an MSRP of $19.98 U.S. / $24.99 CAN. The film is highlighted by a stellar English dub cast featuring Amanda Miller (Boruto), Cherami Leigh (Sarada) and Robbie Daymond (Mitsuki). English subtitled with Japanese audio as well as English dubbed selections are available on both formats. Bonus features include clean closing segments and the original Japanese theatrical trailers.

The Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack will be released as a deluxe, 2-disc collection (1 DVD & 1 Blu-ray) that presents the anime feature film in crisp 1080p HD, 16×9 video. Notable bonus combo pack exclusive features include a NARUTO OVA (The Day Naruto Became Hokage) and a production art gallery. The Standard DVD Set will present the film in 16×9 video with DTS-HD 5.1 as well as stereo audio.

With Naruto as the Seventh Hokage, Hidden Leaf Village is planning to host the Chunin Exams to train new shinobi from the village and from five of their allied villages. Among the entrants are Sasuke’s daughter, Sarada, who adores Naruto, Mitsuki, an exceptionally talented yet mysterious shinobi… And Boruto, Naruto’s son who shows great potential, but despises his father.

Sasuke, who’s been on a mission, appears before Naruto to warn of a strange impending danger he has sensed. Shrouded with an evil aura, Momoshiki and Kinshiki appear during the Exams and attempt to weaken and kidnap Naruto. Boruto is petrified and unable to do a thing while Sasuke guards him. As Naruto steps in front to shield them, he smiles faintly and disappears in front of Boruto.

VIZ Media follows the release of Boruto: Naruto the Movie with the debut of the Boruto: Naruto Next Generations manga series on April 4th. Currently released monthly in WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP, the world leading digital manga magazine, this new series presents the sequel to the internationally bestselling ninja adventure manga created by Masashi Kishimoto. This series is rated ‘T’ for Teens and will be published in print as well as digital editions.

Volume 1 will carry a print MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN. Boruto: Naruto Next Generations will also be available digitally via VIZ.com/read and the VIZ Manga App, as well as from the Nook, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks, comiXology, and Google Play stores. Subsequent volumes of this ongoing series will be published in English on a triannual basis.

In the manga series, Naruto was a young shinobi with an incorrigible knack for mischief. He achieved his dream to become the greatest ninja in his village, and now his face sits atop the Hokage monument. But this is not his story… A new generation of ninja is ready to take the stage, led by Naruto’s own son, Boruto!

Yen Press Expands Distribution Deal with Diamond to Include International Markets

Effective June 5, 2017, Diamond Comic Distributors will assume exclusive sales and distribution for Yen Press outside of the North American market in traditional and non-traditional book channels, a deal that was announced at the London Book Fair 2017. This is a significant expansion of Yen’s existing relationship with Diamond for the comic book specialty market, and, most importantly, gives Diamond exclusive rights to offer Yen Press titles in the UK and Ireland book markets.

Yen Press, LLC is a joint venture between Kadakowa Corporation and Hachette Book Group, dedicated to publishing manga and graphic novels for adults and young readers. Founded in 2006, Yen Press has quickly risen to become one of the largest and most prolific publishers of manga and original graphic novels in the North American marketplace and has become a driving force in the introduction of light novels to new readers through its Yen On imprint.

Award Winning Sci-Fi Novel Orbital Cloud Debuts from VIZ Media’s Haikasoru

VIZ Media’s Haikasoru literary imprint expands its catalog of works by the renowned Japanese author Taiyo Fujii with the publication of his celebrated novel Orbital Cloud on March 21st.

The gripping near-future thriller will be released in print with an MSRP of $16.99 U.S. / $22.99 CAN. An eBook edition will debut on March 21st in the Amazon Kindle, Apple’s iBooks Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook Book Store, the Kobo eBooks Store, and the Google Play Store. Taiyo Fujii is a winner of the Nihon SF Taisho Award as well as the prestigious Seiun Award and Japan’s “Best Science Fiction” Award, a rare triple-crown victory that has propelled the author to the country’s top echelon of SF writers and also garnered him wide international acclaim.

Orbital Cloud is set in the year 2020. Kazumi Kimura, proprietor of shooting star forecast website Meteor News, notices some suspicious orbiting space debris. Rumors spread online that the debris is actually an orbital weapon targeting the International Space Station. Halfway across the world, at NORAD, Staff Sergeant Daryl Freeman begins his own investigation of the threat. At the same time, billionaire entrepreneur Ronnie Smark and his journalist daughter prepare to check in to an orbital hotel as part of a stunt promoting private space tourism. Then Kazumi receives highly sensitive, and potentially explosive, information from a genius Iranian scientist. And so begins an unprecedented international battle against space-based terror that will soon involve the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, NORAD, and the CIA.

Orbital Cloud won Taiyo Fujii the 2014 Nihon SF Taisho Award as well as the Seiun Award, and took first prize in the “Best SF of 2014” in Japan’s SF Magazine.

Taiyo Fujii is the author of the mystery thriller, Gene Mapper, and won a 2014 Nihon SF Taisho Award by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Japan. Gene Mapper was Fujii’s first novel and became Amazon Japan’s Number One Kindle bestseller for 2012 when it was originally published. The novel was later revised and republished in both print and digitally in Japan as Gene Mapper – full build – by Hayakawa Publishing in 2013 and was nominated for the Nihon SF Taisho Award and the Seiun Award. Gene Mapper is published in English by Haikasoru. Orbital Cloud is Fujii’s second novel.

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