Manga Review: That Wolf-Boy is Mine! (vol.1)

Details:

Title: That Wolf-Boy is Mine! (Vol. 1)

Chapters: 1-4

Written by: Yoko Nogiri

Artist:  Yoko Nogiri

Translation/Adaptation: Alethea and Athena Nibley

Publisher:  Kodansha Comics

Published:  August 16, 2016

Pages: 160

Genre: Manga, Shojo, Supernatural, Comedy, Romance

Synopsis:

MONSTER MISCHIEF

After some traumatic experiences, Komugi Kusunoki transferred from the city to start a new life in rural Hokkaido. But on her first day of school, the school heartthrob Yū Ōgami blurts out, “You smell good!” Despite the hijinks, Komugi tries to adjust to her new school, but it’s not long before she stumbles across Yū dozing off under a tree. When she attempts to wake him up, he transformed…into a wolf?! It turns out that Yū is one of many other eccentric boys in her class year–and she’s the only one who knows their secret!

What I First Thought:

The other day I went to Barnes and Noble to kill time before a movie. I perused the manga section looking for more volumes of some of my other series that I haven’t finished yet when this one caught my eye. To my knowledge, there aren’t a lot of werewolf-esque stories in manga so I picked it up. The premise of the story seemed interesting and cute enough that I decided to buy it, especially since I needed something a bit light hearted to help cure my current mood.

Overall Thoughts/Opinions:

4/5

I normally don’t buy into a new series without doing a little bit of research into it first, so I rarely buy manga on a whim. I’m glad that I didn’t wait to buy this one because it was exactly what I needed! It’s a cute little story about a new city-girl who goes to live with her dad in the country while her mom is away. At the new school, she stumbles upon the secret of some of her classmates and it becomes a story of said students becoming friends with the girl to keep her quiet. It’s a cute little story with sprinklings of lore that I’m sure will become more prominent as the story continues. There were some comedic elements thrown in that made me giggle, but nothing gut splitting yet. The romance so far is a bit light, though I feel like some of it was forced or a little unnatural by the end of this volume, which messed up the flow of the story for me. The characters are pretty likable at the start, though I feel like Komugi is a little weak at the moment but I hope her character improves once we see more of her past so I can better understand her fears. Really, my only complaint was the ending because it felt weird to me, too rushed and unnatural, but oh well! I’m really glad that I bought all four volumes, because I really want to read what happens next!

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Short Story Review: The Grey Woman (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: The Grey Woman (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: Elizabeth Gaskell

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Gothic

Pages: 32 (162-193)

Thoughts:

Again, this was another short story that I just could not bring myself to finish and I honestly don’t know why. Originally published in 1865, this story is written in what is now considered to be old English. Most people nowadays may not like this kind of writing style, especially since it can take some time to decipher, but I found that for the most part it was much easier to understand than some of the previous short stories that I’ve read in this selection. The author even did a wonderful job varying the lengths of her sentences and paragraphs, steering away from the long winded passages that have made other stories dull and tedious to read. I will say though that it takes a while for the story to really go anywhere.

First few pages are spent with characters that you think will be the main ones, but then it turns out that they’re actually reading the story of The Grey Woman’s protagonist. So it’s a story about a story of a woman that’s being read aloud by other people that have no relation or connection to this woman−thrilling. From what I could tell, the first third of the story is setting up the style of storytelling and some background for our true main character. All of that is fine, if it didn’t take at least ten pages to do. And within the first ten pages you gain no insight as to what the story idea is, other than a mousy German woman unenthusiastically marrying a French dandy. I can’t really comment more on this story because I couldn’t go beyond the second third, and yes, it was divided into three parts.

Rating:

Did not finish. So I can’t actually give this a rating, but I can give a list as to why I couldn’t finish.

  • Could have been because it was just too damn long to be a short story. I believe that anything more than 25 pages in a novella, which means it’s a very long short story and could actually be published on its own.
  • After ten pages I’m still not completely sure what it going on. Is the story spooky? Is it a paranormal? Murder mystery? Thriller? I don’t know!
  • I tried, I really did to pick this one up so many times but I never did get very far before my attention span burned away.
  • Also, it’s a story about a few nondescript characters reading aloud the story of another woman, who’s written her tale for a specific person who was still a bit of a mystery ten pages in.

All in all, I had to give this one up so that I could continue on to the other stories. Maybe sometime later I’ll try tackling this one again.

Manga Review: The Seven Deadly Sins (vol. 7)

Details:

Title: The Seven Deadly Sins (Vol. 7)

Chapters: 47-54

Written by: Nakaba Suzuki

Artist: Nakaba Suzuki

Translation/Adaptation: Christine Dashiell

Lettering: James Dashiell

Publisher:  Kodansha Comics

Published: March 17th, 2015

Pages: 192

Genre: Manga, Historical-Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Young Adult, Romance, Shonen

 

Synopsis:

The Wrath Awakens

Meliodas escapes the Goddess Amber, but he emerges from his prison strangely silent and with a new look. In the blink of an eye, he wrecks Guila and Jericho and begins delivering an epic beating to Sir Helbram, who somehow manages to stand up to the transformed Dragon Sin of Wrath. What is going on with this new Meliodas? And how is Helbram avoiding being stomped by the overwhelming power of the changed Meliodas?

Overall Thoughts/Opinions:

4/5

If you thought that there might be a break in the fighting after the fighting festival than you may be in for a bit of a surprise! After the conclusion of the festival there’s a brief chapter that sets up the big arc for this story. We’re introduced to more characters, both Holy Knights and other minor players that will show up again later. In fact, this volume serves as an intro to some of my more favorite characters and Holy Knights. Though one character, that I really do enjoy, has a bit of an odd introduction that doesn’t really fit with what I remember of their personality from the anime. I understand that things can be different between the two mediums, but you can tell by the end of the volume that you’re first encounter with this character seems to be a little weird and doesn’t fit their personality. There’s also some character development for some of the Sins. You get to see into some of Ban’s inner struggles, more of Meliodas that isn’t slightly perverted, Diana’s awesome strength, and some backbone building in Elizabeth. I wuld say that Elizabeth isn’t quite as strong as I’d really like her to be, but I’m fairly certain we’ll see that soon…I hope. And I was really excited to see just how powerful Diana could be, though I felt like her power was a little cheapened because of some of the resulting outcomes, but oh well! Overall, though I really liked this volume of the story and it again leaves you wanting (or needing) to read the next one. I have a feeling that the story’s pace will really pick up in the next volume!

Manga Review: Yona of the Dawn (vol.1)

Details:

Title: Yona of the Dawn  (Vol. 1)

Chapters: 1-5

Written by: Mizuho Kusanagi

Artist:  Mizuho Kusanagi

Translation/Adaptation: JN Produtions / Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane

Publisher:  VIZ Media LLC

Published:  August 2nd, 2016

Pages: 200

Genre: Manga, Shojo, Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Romance

Synopsis:

Princess Yona lives an ideal life as the only princess of her kingdom. Doted on by her father, the king, and protected by her faithful guard Hak, she cherishes the time spent with the man she loves, Soo-won. But everything changes on her 16th birthday when she witnesses her father’s murder! Yona reels from the shock of losing her father and having to fight for her life. With Hak’s help, she flees the castle and struggles to survive while evading her enemy’s forces. But where will this displaced princess go with such an uncertain path before her?

What I First Thought:

I honestly can’t remember where I first saw this story or how it caught my interest. I haven’t seen the anime yet, though I’ve seen the overpriced dvds in FYE a few times. All I remember is that I first read it on my phone when I should have been studying for my finals. I really enjoyed it, from what I can remember, and I vowed that I would buy all the volumes once they started hitting the US market.

Overall Thoughts/Opinions:

4/5

One of the problems that I have with this first volume is that the art on the front and back covers is a little misleading. The front cover is more accurate to the state of Yona’s character in this volume than the back cover. In the beginning of this story Yona is very much a princess who had been doted on all her life, except she’s a little more likeable than other manga princesses. A few chapters in and she becomes the lost, vacant character that she appears as on the front cover. Don’t get me wrong, her reaction is completely realistic for the situation, it’s the back cover that really gives me issue because that’s the one you focus on because the synopsis is right there. The back cover depicts her as this determined, hardened woman that doesn’t actually appear for a little while, if memory serves me right. You definitely don’t see Yona break from her stupor by the end of this volume, which may make it hard for people to like her, especially since her more likable traits won’t appear until a little later.

Anyways, this volume is pretty straight forward and doesn’t really deviate or expand on the synopsis much, which was the other problem I had. I tend to like the overviews to give enough detail to draw you in, but vague enough to allow the story to fully capture and surprise its readers. In this volume all but the biggest reveals are left out of the synopsis, which honestly isn’t that terrible but it almost allows you to skip to the next volume.

Honestly, I would still read this volume just so that you can be introduced to the characters and the world of the story. It sets up the relationships of the main characters and gives you some insight into what drives them. Also, it’s still a pretty entertaining read. The humor is very light and it isn’t very complicated, just gag jokes and funny situations, but still giggle inducing. The romance element is there but barely, it’s more mostly a lot of action in this volume which may be a plus for some readers. The action and violence are detailed, but not as much as other mangas and definitely not cringe worthy. For instance, there’s definitely a lot of blood but not intestines hanging out of bodies and other guts.

By the end, I wanted to read more immediately! It was a good thing that I make a habit of buying the first three volumes because I went straight to the second volume before writing this review!

Manga Review: Noragami: The Stray God vol.1

 

Synopsis:

DIVINE INTERVENTION FOR SALE

Yato is a homeless god. He doesn’t even have a shrine, not to mention worshippers! So to achieve his ambitious goals, he’s set up a service to help those in need (for a small fee), hoping he’ll eventually raise enough money to build himself the lavish temple of his dreams. Of course, he can’t afford to be picky, so Yato accepts all kinds of jobs, from finding lost kittens to helping a student overcome bullies at school.

What I First Thought:

I watched the anime last year right before a set of finals and I was hooked. It isn’t your typical story and the characters aren’t what they first appear as. I had a coupon for Barnes & Noble one day so I decided to grab the first few volumes of the manga while I waited for the second season to hit the US.

Overall Thoughts/Opinions:

3/5

It never ceases to amaze me how different it is to read the manga vs. the anime, either the characters don’t sound like you imagined or the tone is completely different than expected. The humor reads a lot differently than in the anime. For the manga, some of the humor as it travels across the world, through translation and due to our standards of comedy. On the page some of the humor just losses its impact or is harder to pick up, it’s almost like how British humor can go over Americans’ heads. If you have an ear and taste for it, you’ll probably laugh as much as you should, if not it just looks confusing. For me, it a hit or miss, though I hope there were hits than misses.

A lot of the manga that I’ve read before spend a good chunk of the first volume to set up the premise of the story, going into some details about the world/setting to get the readers comfortable and on task. Noragami, however, does most of the set up in the first chapter and then subtly sketches out a rough outline of how the story will go. It’s a simple plot and definitely not completely unique in concept, but I think it’s the story telling that will make it stand out from others like it. It’s about gods and demons and wayward souls; it’s about some of the darker parts of humanity and where it might come from. It’s nothing new, but the characters are different than what they first appear and they have a depth that I can already tell will only go deeper as the story progresses. The first volume only gives you a taste of the main characters, but it makes you care enough to want to read further.

Overall, it’s a good start of a story. The plot is a little rough looking, but I’ll cut the writer some slack since it’s their first time actually writing the story. I can already tell that this will be a different kind of manga than I’m use to and I’m looking forward to continuing on!

Details:

Title: Noragami  (Vol. 1)

Chapters: 1-3

Written by: Adachitoka

Artist:  Adachitoka

Translation/Adaptation: Alethea Nibley & Athena Nibley

Publisher:  Kodansha Comics

Published:  September 2nd, 2014

Pages: 200

Genre: Manga, Shonen, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Mythology

Short Story Review: The Murdered Cousin (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: The Murdered Cousin (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: Sheridan Le Fanu

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Gothic

Pages: 20 (142-161)

Thoughts:

For the life of me I could not finish this short story. It took me days to try to read it and I only got about six pages in before I just couldn’t do it anymore. At first I wanted to give myself a little break because while on their own not many of these stories scared me, but when mixed together they can be quite frightening. My brain decided to do just that and I had a rather disturbing nightmare that convinced me to take a short break from the short stories, especially since this one was titled The Murdered Cousin, which one can assume is scary. Honestly, I don’t know if it is a frightening tale because six pages in and the actually story is starting to unfold.

The first few pages of the story is nothing but backstory as to why the main character is going to the location of the story. It’s not that long of a back story, but the writing is so dreadfully convoluted that it takes forever for the author to say anything. I’ve read old stories and normally there’s a little bit of a grace period for me to switch from current writing to something older, but I just couldn’t do it with this one.

The sentence structure is terrible, while grammatically correct they can run on for lines and lines and lines at a time being separated by semicolons instead of periods. There’s no variance in the sentence structure either, their either long with multiple thoughts or they’re really short. The paragraphs are much the same way, really short or half the page. I think the longest sentence that I found was one of three in a single paragraph, it took up several lines and had about six or seven semicolons. That all bothers me because my brain just can’t stay focused on a style like that. Many times I found myself yawning and fighting sleep in the middle of the day while reading this.

Rating:

Did not finish. So I can’t actually give this a rating, but I can give a list as to why I couldn’t finish.

  • Impossibly long sentences, but actually grammatically correct, they just aren’t done anymore.
  • 6 pages in and we’re just getting to the start of the actual story.
  • 6 pages of nothing but back ground, but not a whole lot of back ground to cover, just a lot of thoughts that take up several pages.
  • After several pages I know more about the non-perspective main character than the main character telling the actually story.
  • There’s some intrigue to keep me reading, but not enough to endure the writing style.
  • Paragraphs are either short with impossibly long sentences or long with a mixture of short and long sentences.
  • Really just feels like word vomit sometimes.
  • I couldn’t stay awake enough to keep me invested in the story. A minute after putting it down, I would stop yawning and feel a hundred times more awake.

The biggest problem for me was the author’s writing style, it was not something I could enjoy even with a bit of effort. But if it’s something that doesn’t bother you I would give The Murdered Cousin a try, the idea and premise sounded interesting enough.

Graphic Novel Review: Thor vol.2 Who Holds the Hammer?

Synopsis:

The Odinson pops the question: Who is the new Thor?

The Odinson wants Mjolnir back−and that means uncovering the identity of the new heroine holding the hammer! As he narrows down the list of suspects, tensions continue to flare between the All-Mother and All-Father. As Malekith the Dark Elf forges his most dangerous pact yet, the new Thor prepares to face her greatest challenge: the unstoppable machine of death and destruction that is…the Destroyer! While the battle for Mjolnir rages on an unexpected character makes a shocking return−and the new Thor’s identity is revealed at last! Plus: Young Thor enters a drinking competition! The new Thor takes on a surprising foe! In the future, King Thor’s granddaughters quest to find him the perfect birthday gift! And more!

First Thought:

After reading the last volume in this series I immediately rushed to purchase this one. I really wanted to find out who the new Thor is and if my suspicions are true! And after the fantastic job that was the previous volume, I’m more than excited to continue reading.

Overall Thoughts and Opinions:

This one wasn’t quite what I was expecting. The main story is just three action packed issues, while the rest appear to be three short stories and a release of an issue from the 70s. Honestly, I’m not quite sure how to rate this one so bear with me on this review!

I really enjoyed the main story; there was a lot of action, plot advancements, and character development. In just three issues you get a really cool action-packed fight scene with the Destroyer. Normally I hate it when an action sequence is spread out too long, it reminds me of Dragon Ball Z and similar works with impossibly long battles that drag on forever. However, this one didn’t bug me because it was a really interesting battle. You get to see more of Thor’s personality as she fights the Destroyer, you see her get her lights knocked out and dragged through the dirt. You get to see what drives her to be Thor, why she won’t just give up. And in this fight you get to see other characters come into play as they help her defeat the Destroyer. It’s not because she’s a woman that they help her, but they want to see just what this new Thor is made of and to figure out just what kind of hero she’ll be. Aside from the main fight, we also get to see more of what the future story will hold as Malekith continues with his deadly plan!

The short stories from Thor Annual #1 were mostly interesting. The King Thor story was a bit depressing for me because it’s set in a really grim time in the future and there seems to be very little hope. The story is also a bit strange because it doesn’t give any hints as to what happened to make the future thus and the characters are rather lack lustered. The art for that story is really dark and a bit bland, fitting the mood of the tale, I guess. I really enjoyed the short story of the new Thor and the Warriors Three. It’s a quick read full of shenanigans, bonding, and discovery. The last in the Annual is just a simple comedic story of Thor’s legendary drinking skill. It’s set before Thor is a great, mighty hero and he has to prove his worth to Mjolnir, so he does various tasks to prove he is worthy. This short story involved a drinking contest with the devil and high-jinx ensues. It’s a cute little story, though the art while comedic was a little off putting. Overall, the King Thor story was my least favorite of the three while new Thor had the best story and art.

The last story in this volume is a What If from 1977, where the Watcher shows readers what the world would be like if {blank} happened. In issue 10, it’s what if Jane Foster found the hammer and became Thordis. It’s a weird story and I was a bit lost at times because I’m not very familiar with the early history of Thor. I also found some of the dialogue to be boring or just plain repetitive as the characters sometimes spoke a loud what they were doing as it happened. The art was fine, and I really enjoyed the coloring. Overall, it was alright and I understand why they included it in this volume but you can totally skip it if you don’t have a strong interest to read a ‘what if ’story.

Ratings:

Note: Since this volume includes work outside of the actually series I’m only rating issues 6-8, while making mentions of the extra content. This time the extra content will hold no sway over the ratings.

Art: 5

Nothing has really changed, I really love the art work in this story! Those an attention to detail that doesn’t draw you away from the story and is affected by the practicality of it in each scene. For instance, like in real life the further you are from the subject the less detailed it is. Another example is the added details that lend to the magical quality of a particular scene over another. Though I wish there was a little less detail in some of the gorier scenes. There were times when I shock in disgust and had to skim over the panel because it was too much. The coloring was also really nice and well balanced. The brightness of the colors really lent to the mood of the scenes, or helped in contrast to bring attention to certain details. It’s nice to see foreshadowing being displayed through shadow and color. I think my favorite part of the art in this volume are the facial expressions. They were so expressive and conveyed so much detail that didn’t need dialogue, and that’s fantastic in my books! Also, some Odinson’s expressions were just priceless.

Story: 5

I feel like the story in this volume is much improved than the last. Normally I don’t like battles that last more than one issue, but I feel like this one was done quite well. There’s a lot of character development in the fight scene and it opens up possible side adventures with other characters. The battle really does a lot to flesh out Thor and it also helps draw a line with some of the other characters in this story, especially where they stand on larger issues. There are a few places in the story that needed a bit more background and some of them note previous Thor issues (that I don’t have access to), but most don’t. So if you’re up to date with everything then you’ll be fine, if you’re just starting to read Thor after the switch you might get a little lost. Finally, the big question is answered as Thor’s identity is revealed at the end, but it may not be who you think it is. I’m actually quite happy with the choice and it’s extremely plausible, giving more depth and humility to the character of Thor.

Overall: 4.5

This volume really helps to set up the tone for the rest of the story, when or wherever they decide to continue it. The artwork is fantastic, the character development is wonderful, and for once I really enjoyed a stretched out fight scene. The one weakness to this volume are the extra stories. While some of them are really good, they may throw a lot of people off or confuse some readers. Honestly, I only enjoyed two of the four and only one of them I loved all around. I still high recommend this volume of Thor, but maybe skim the Annual and the What if.

Details:

Title: Thor: Who Holds the Hammer?

Volume: 2

Issue(s): 6-8, Thor Annual #1, What if? (1977) #10

Publisher: Marvel

Creator(s): Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby

Writer(s): Jason Aaron

Illustrator: Russell Dauterman

Colors: Matthew Wilson

Letters: VC’s Joe Sabino

Released Date: July 21st, 2015

Pages: 136

Genre(s): Super hero, Fantasy, Action