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Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Three Manga Reviews
Descendants of Darkness vol. 2 by Yoko Matsushita:
Most of this volume is taken up by a long story, "The Devil's Trill", about Guardians of Death Tsuzuki and Hisoka trying to unravel the mystery of a cursed violin and a demonic contract passed on to a young music student via a corneal transplant. Even for this series, it's a very dark and violent story, though it does make suggestive use of some of the secrets of lead character Tsuzuki's past that have yet to be revealed. Art and story wise, the series is still straddling the line between pretty boys and out and out yaoi (which reminds me, I really should write up reviews of some of those yaoi books I've been reading lately). Still, the dark aspects are well balanced by humor, and if you're a fan of darker manga (or pretty boys) you might want to check this series out.
Ranma 1/2 vol. 28 by Rumiko Takahasi:
Twenty-eight volumes in it's hard to believe that there isn't anyone reading manga who hasn't heard of this series and checked out at least one or two volumes. At the store it's one of our strongest selling manga titles, and with the influx of new, younger manga fans it looks set to be rediscovered (mostly by kids who have already caught up on Inu-Yasha and are looking for more Takahashi material). It's the same formula we've seen in almost every Ranma book, several comical short stories and one longer story, with embarrassing things happening to the varied and eccentric cast of characters. Of note in this volume is the introduction of a promising new character, Akari Unryu, a pig-obsessed pig-breeder who falls improbably in love with hard-luck Ryoga, who of course is cursed to turn into a pig every time he gets splashed with cold water. Frankly, it's a welcome relief, as there are plenty of already existing love triangles in the book and giving Ryoga a new character to play off of opens up the story possibilities for him beyond the "try to break up Ranma and Akane" habit he's been in.
Musashi #9 vol. 1 by Takahashi Miyuki:
The artwork on this series is nice, if a bit unremarkable. Were I feeling uncharitable I would describe it as "Generic Manga Style #3." The stories are also fairly typical action/adventure/espionage yarns, involving a super-competent secret agent rescuing ordinary people from terrorists. That being said, I did enjoy the book. It was fun to see the super competent #9 in a nice variety of action set pieces. The meta-story, involving a secret, underground police force that handles the threats to world piece that are just a little too big for the normal police and military is a nice frame-work, and something I'd actually like to see more of, rather than the short vignettes we get in this book. Actually, that's probably the weakest element of this book: there is no over-arching story to give it structure, just four short stories, each with a different cast and villain, the only common element being the title character showing up to save the day. And, for that matter, was it really necessary to have the character be mistaken for a boy in every single story?