Manga Review: Haikyuu!!, by Haruichi Furudate

Haikyuu!!, by Haruichi Furudate27406716

Genres: Shonen, Sports

Volumes: 27

Status: Ongoing

Favorite Characters: Tobio Kageyama, Shōyō Hinata, Hitoka Yachi

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

As long as I’m here, you’re invincible.

For all of the times that I’ve mentioned Haikyuu!!, I’ve never reviewed it or gone into depth on why I love it so much, even though I’ve been reading the manga. The reason behind that is because I usually like to review manga when I’ve either finished the series or am close. A manga usually shows its merit around the halfway point, but there are times when it can completely spin out of control and plummet toward the very end. Some examples include Bleach, which everyone is pissed about, and Attack on Titan. (I know everyone loves the anime, but the more I read the manga, the messier it gets.) Because I hate reading anything electronically, I have been patiently waiting while the manga for Haikyuu!! is translated into English and published in volumes.

I am almost at the halfway point, and I cannot wait any longer.

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You have to understand that getting into the Haikyuu!! fandom is a trap. It will absolutely devour you. I got into it last autumn, and the way it affected me changed my life. I have never been athletic, and I’m not good with working in teams. There is absolutely nothing about sports that interests me whatsoever – and yet, October of my senior year of high school, I remember working in the elementary library and being so consumed with the need to play volleyball that I wanted to scream.

Haikyuu!! is intoxicating and all-encompassing. Its energy is insanely intense, its humor is sharp and on point, and it’s more motivational than any self-help book you can buy. The crazy thing is, though, is that the story is not that complicated at all. It follows Shōyō Hinata, who, after seeing a player known as the Little Giant play at Nationals for Karasuno High School, becomes obsessed with volleyball. He has a meager middle school career and only plays one game in one tournament against Kitagawa Daiichi, who crushes them. It is there that he meets Tobio Kageyama, Kitagawa Daiichi’s star setter and the King of the Court, and vows one day that he will beat him and stay on the court the longest. However, the following school year Hinata attends Karasuno High School and discovers that Kageyama is now his teammate.

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The two of them are always fighting, but on the court they are compatible, with Hinata’s athletic reflexes matching up with Kageyama’s skills into a freak quick-set that’s extremely hard to receive. Along with the rest of the members of the team, they set out to return to the national volleyball finals and stand at the top of Japan.

Haikyuu!! has a lot of gameplay, and a lot of commentary that could easily go over a person’s head. For someone that’s unathletic, it’s hard to understand the appeal. What is it that makes Haikyuu!! so popular? What is the secret to its insurmountable success?

It’s the characters.

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Besides the obvious sports aspect, Haikyuu!! is primarily character-driven. There are so many that it’s impossible to keep track of all of their names, but Haruichi Furudate never lets a single one become a backdrop. He creates backstories, aspirations, and vibrant personalities not only for Karasuno, but for every team that they face. He makes it so that the reader can feel every ounce of emotion, every shred of victory or defeat. Though Karasuno is the focus of the story, centering on them only would be a big mistake. A tournament is not just about one team, after all. By expanding the story outward and bringing in so many names and faces, Furudate broadens the reader’s perspective as well as their sympathy.

The reason why Haikyuu!! impacted me so much is not because it made me want to play volleyball. It’s because sometimes, it is the only shard of light in my day. It’s because there are times when it is the only thing that can make me laugh – and it’s because it reminds me every day not to give up. This is a story about overcoming obstacles and reaching for the top; about not accepting defeat, but remembering how it feels and how much you hate it, and pushing harder next time so as to never feel it again. Even if there is only a fraction of a chance, there still is a chance, and so long as you have it, you have to push yourself to your utmost limit.

Exceeding limitations, overcoming doubt – that is what Haikyuu!! is all about.

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I love Haikyuu!!. I love it with every ounce of my soul. If it weren’t for Haikyuu!!, I don’t think I would be able to believe in myself as strongly as I do now.

Because people don’t have wings, we look for ways to fly.

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Manga Review: Seraph of the End, by Takaya Kagami and Yamato Yamamoto

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Seraph of the End, by Takaya Kagami and Yamato Yamamoto

Genres: Shonen, Paranormal

Volumes: 14

Status: Ongoing

Favorite Characters: Mikaela Hyakuya, Krul Tepes, Shihō Kimizuki

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

“Humans will do anything for their families. We’ll happily lie, cheat, make deals with the devil, or even become demons ourselves.”

When I write these reviews, I try really hard to keep myself from gushing all over the place and to maintain an analytical, serious persona – but this time, I don’t think I can do it. I love this manga too freaking much.

I got into Seraph of the End on complete accident. What started out as a mild curiosity blew up into a frantic obsession. I usually take my time watching anime to avoid burning out, so twenty-four episodes usually takes me about a week and a half.

I watched Seraph of the End in a single weekend. I couldn’t stop.

What surprises me the most is that Seraph of the End has everything that I hate. It has fantasy elements, but it is also a dystopian, which is a genre I can’t stand. There are vampires, which up until recently I couldn’t take seriously. Also, I kid you not, but almost every person in Yūichirō, the main character’s squad has a gigantic crush on him – including the men. Then there’s Mikaela, whose obsession with Yūichirō is so intense that he has very few other characteristics. He’s a character that was built to be complex but is portrayed as one-dimensional.

He is also my favorite character of the series and my precious vampire angel.

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The story is based around the idea that in 2012, the world was supposed to end. A virus spread that killed virtually all humans over the age of twelve years old, and in order to maintain their food source, vampires rose up and took control, capturing many and taking them down into vampire cities as livestock. Yūichirō and his adopted family at the Hyakuya Orphanage were such victims, and they lived like that for four years until Mikaela, Yūichirō’s best friend, plotted an escape that went horribly wrong. The rest of the orphans ended up dead, but Yūichirō managed to escape. He enters the Japanese Imperial Demon Army in order to become a part of the Moon Demon Company, a special branch designed to eradicate vampires, in order to get revenge for his family.

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The central theme is to live not just for yourself, but for your family and friends as well. Yūichirō maintains his loyalty to his squad, to Guren – who saved him four years prior, when he escaped – to the rest of the army, and to Mikaela. He starts out as a lone wolf that doesn’t rely on anyone, but comes to learn that he can’t fight alone. I love how – even if the mission depends on him to leave comrades behind – Yūichirō will scream, bluster, and at times disobey in order to keep those he cares about safe. Stupid? Yes, but I’m a softy, and I love the concept of ‘no man getting left behind’.

Seraph of the End is both beautifully written and drawn, with intense action, slices of humor, and a whole lot of tragedy. It’s one of those gripping, edge-of-your-seat stories that I’ve come to find I adore just as much as the sweet and romantic ones.

“No matter what you become, we will always be family.”

Manga Review: Tokyo Ghoul, by Sui Ishida

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Genres: Shonen, Horror, Tragedy

Volumes: 14

Status: Completed

Favorite Characters: Juuzou Suzuya, Ayato Kirishima, Touka Kirishima

Rating: ✮ +½

“If you were to write a story with me in the lead role, it would certainly be… a tragedy”

I have two recurring questions about Tokyo Ghoul:

1. Why is it so popular?

2. If I hate it so much, why am I still reading it?

The answer to both of those questions is this: I don’t know.

My relationship with Tokyo Ghoul is very strange. I talk trash about it, I criticize it from every angle, and yet I still pick up each new volume from the library and keep a running board of it on Pinterest. (Though that’s mostly because the fanart is freaking awesome.) Technically, it finished a while ago, but the English volumes are still being published, and as someone who is a bit of a purist when it comes to books (meaning that I like physical copies), I don’t mind waiting to finish it.

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My general opinion about it is that it reminds me a lot of myself when I was thirteen. I was so obsessed with all things bloody and gory that I lacked any real personality. I was so concerned with my self-image that I never figured out who I actually was or what I was about. (Precious, wasn’t I?) Tokyo Ghoul has a lot of violence, cruelty, and torture, but it all seems like a front to hide the fact that the story is very, very boring.

The dynamic reminds me a lot of Death Note. There’s the complex of good vs. evil, whether ghouls are really monsters because they eat humans or if they’re just like any other animal, and whether the investigators are evil because they are hunting the ghouls when they’re just trying to survive, etc., etc. Personally, I’d like to believe that the ghouls aren’t at fault, but the problem is that I don’t give a single shit about them. The world of ghouls bores me to death, as does the team of ghoul investigators. I feel no condolence to any of the characters, even Kaneki, who is the “tragic hero” that becomes trapped between both worlds, and also happens to love books. The only one that is remotely interesting is Juuzou, and that has more to do with the fact that I have a thing for simple-minded characters.

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The story is so dry. Behind the investigator killings and turf wars, it feels like it took too long to get anywhere important, and by the time the Aogiri Tree showed up, I had completely lost interest. I have a hard time taking this world seriously when it seems like all it is is a test to see just how violent it can get. I remember that I started to watch the anime, and when Kaneki and Touka first faced off against Tsukiyama, I was laughing. I was laughing.

I’ve also given up trying to tolerate the artwork. Though Ishida has undoubtedly improved, I still think that it’s mediocre at best. While reading through the fight scenes – and there are a lot – I became really confused on what was going on. The edges are too soft and their limbs mesh together, and somehow, there’s just an absence of any impact. The way they hold their bodies seems unrealistic. For the most part, I wait until it’s over to figure out who won, because watching it in action, I can’t tell. This is the only thing I can give the anime props for.

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Perhaps I’m a masochist, and that is why I’ve continued to read Tokyo Ghoul. Perhaps it is morbid curiosity. As I said, I don’t know, and it is still beyond me how this series is so popular when there is nothing in its plot that could hold water. Every aspect of it feels flimsy and insubstantial.

Manga Review: One-Punch Man, by ONE and Yusuke Murata

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One-Punch Man, by ONE and Yusuke Murata

Genres: Shonen, Action-Adventure, Humor

Volumes: 12

Status: Ongoing

Favorite Characters: Genos, Saitama, Speed-o’-Sound-Sonic

Rating: 

 

“If the heroes run and hide, who will stay and fight?” 

Note: this series was originally published as a webcomic. The edition I am reviewing is the revised one published in volumes, illustrated by Yusuke Murata.

I haven’t written a manga review in a while, and I think it’s due to a lack of inspiration. There hasn’t been one that I’m currently reading that I feel enthusiastic enough to write about – until now.

One-Punch Man crushed Bleach for the most action-packed manga I’ve ever read. Not only that, but its artwork excels in detail, and though the plot floats around a bit with the two main characters picking up odd jobs at the start, it never wavers in entertainment because it doesn’t take itself seriously. With a protagonist that looks like an egg – and a personality to match – how could it?

Saitama was, for a very long time, just an average man. After a while, though, he got sick of his life, and an incident involving a giant crab ended up with him spurning to become a hero for the fun of it. Three years later, he is unfathomably strong, able to defeat any enemy with just one blow.

Due to his strength, however, he is also bald and emotionally stunted. He longs to feel the rush of battle again, to go toe-to-toe with a strong enemy. Then Genos, the teenage cyborg, comes along and completely flips his life upside down by becoming his disciple. The two of them end up joining the Hero Association together and face off against a stream of monsters.

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What I love the most about One-Punch Man – besides all of the action, of course – is that it’s basically a long-running gag. It mocks superhero cliches constantly, the biggest one of course being Saitama’s lackluster appearance versus his unmatched strength. No one believes his power. It isn’t helped by the fact that Saitama doesn’t care about fame; as he is constantly saying, he did not do this for glory or for justice. He did it because he thought it would be fun.

Even in the fiercest of battles, jokes are being cracked and tension is being broken, all by Saitama, who refuses to bend to superhero standards. It makes the story refreshing and hilarious.

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The point of One-Punch Man, as the author, ONE, has pointed out, is to not base heroes off of their appearance. Saitama may be quirky, but he’s the strongest of them all, and to top it off, morally sound. There’s corruption in the Hero Association among fellow heroes – after all, being a hero in this story is treated the same as a regular job, with everyone in the figurative building fighting for that big promotion. Saitama doesn’t care. He will fight evil no matter what it is, because that is what a hero is supposed to do.

On another note, I love the master/student relationship with him and Genos. Saitama has absolutely no idea how to train him, since he himself doesn’t know how he garnered his immense strength, and poor Genos takes everything that Saitama says directly to the heart. (Or whatever the hell he has inside of his chest. A furnace?) Genos’s quick temper, badass incineration skills, and affinity for his master are what makes him my favorite character of the series.

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I ship the egg with the toaster.

One-Punch Man may have started off as a webcomic, but it’s quickly surpassed some of the most memorable action-adventure manga/anime out there, including the iconic Dragon Ball series. It’s bound to become legendary. It’s a rocket that shot up to the top of the charts, and at the rate its going, I doubt anything will be able to stop it.

Manga Review: Bleach, by Tite Kubo

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Bleach, by Tite Kubo

Genres: Shonen, Action-Adventure, Paranormal

Volumes: 74

Status: Ongoing

Favorite Characters: Byakuya Kuchiki, Ichigo Kurosaki, Yoruichi Shihōin, Ulquiorra Schiffer

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

We fear that which we cannot see.

            I think that if this manga were a person and it walked into a crowded room, everyone would stop what they were doing and bow.

Bleach is that manga you’ve heard of even if you’ve been living under a rock. It’s been serializing since 2001, has over 70 volumes in print, and generally just kicks ass.

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I remember that, at the beginning, it was really confusing. I couldn’t grasp what a Zanpakutō was, what the hell bankai met, and where the Soul Society was located. It all came at me in a rush, and around volume 13, I stopped reading it for a long time, simply because I thought I would never understand it.

Then one day, I decided to read volume 14. And I realized, yet again, that I’d been an idiot.

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So trust me, if it seems confusing at first, it won’t for long.

Ichigo Kurosaki, the main character, has been able to see ghosts for his entire life. When he meets Rukia Kuchiki, a soul reaper, he’s accidentally granted her powers in order to protect his family from a Hollow – a malevolent soul – and ends up becoming a soul reaper himself. Not long after, Rukia is arrested and swept back to the Soul Society to be executed for giving her powers to a human, and Ichigo – along with some of his friends – race to save her. Little do they know the plot that brews behind the scenes, one that will blow up and follow them far into the future – putting not only the Soul Society, but the World of the Living at risk.

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When you think about it, 74 volumes seems excessive. Most manga reaches twenty, maybe a little less or more. I once thought, is that really necessary?

It is.

Tite Kubo does not cut out the fat. The battles that take place in Bleach last a volume or more. I think this is brilliant. Not only does it pack action on every page, but it also puts us in the point of view of the people that are fighting. From their eyes, every detail counts; they have milliseconds to think fast or die. Prolonging the fight brings out every part of it, allows the reader to be in their shoes. And honestly, there is nothing more that I love in a story than a grisly, heart-pounding battle.

Tite Kubo is also a master storyteller. He takes the littlest details and spins them back in your face eons later, connecting strings that you didn’t think led to anything. He brings out every aspect of a character, or of a setting, until you know them better than your own name. He knows how to make your heart pound – and especially how to make you scream in terror.

Too many of my favorite characters have been fatally wounded, only to rise again and kick some ass.

This is a detailed, complex world, and it includes quite a few characters. There’s everyone in the World of the Living, the members of the Soul Society, the Arrancars in Hueco Mundo…and probably a whole bunch of other places that I’ve forgotten. I didn’t think it was possible for me to love characters so much when most of the time I can’t even remember their names – but Tite Kubo attaches you to them. Even the villains.

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(*Sobs.* I’m sorry, it’s still too soon.)

My two favorite characters in this series – Byakuya Kuchiki and the main character, Ichigo Kurosaki – have one thing in common, I noticed, and I’m not sure if it’s relevant, but whatever.

They are both older brothers. And they are also both very protective over their little sisters.

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The reason why Byakuya is my favorite, and not Ichigo – or, like the rest of the fandom, Tōshirō Hitsugaya – is because of his evolution. When we first meet him, he’s cold-hearted and is willing to send his own sister to be executed. Later, though, after Aizen lifts his illusion and tries to kill Rukia, Byakuya saves her. After that, we see him become a bit more bendable to the rules of the Soul Society, even though he’d still cut you down without a blink. I’m a sucker for characters who have a cold demeanor, but hide a soft spot – however small. I’ve become really close with my older brother as well, so it brings me warm fuzzies.

Ichigo’s character is another one of my favorites. It’s the kind that others may consider naive, but I treasure. He doesn’t give a shit about laws or orders; he’s going to do what he knows is right. Even if it means he has to do it all by himself. That’s what I treasure the most about him: he is a good person to the very core of who he is. He does not manipulate or lie. He doesn’t want to win if it isn’t fair.

That’s the kind of person I want to be around.

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Bleach is not my favorite manga – but it’s damn close. I kick myself all the time for not getting into it sooner. It has one of the best stories I’ve ever seen, and not just in manga: novels, comics, movies, plays, whatever. Bleach is a king sitting in a throne room full of admirers. It is what perfection would look like if it had a face.

It is as beautiful as it is invigorating.

     “If I were rain,

That joins sky and earth that otherwise never touch,

Could I join two hearts as well?”

Manga Review: Black Cat, by Kentaro Yabuki

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Black Cat, by Kentaro Yabuki

Genres: Shonen, Action-Adventure, Science Fiction

Status: Complete

Favorite Characters: Eve, Train Heartnet, Lin Shaolee

Rating: ✮✮✮✮

“I make it a policy not to second-guess my instincts. Life’s more fun that way.”

            Black Cat was the manga that I read when I wasn’t into manga—I mean really into it. I’d heard about it in a book, and when I saw it on the shelves, I decided to give it a shot.

What I like the most about Black Cat is that it has an original twist. Most shonen manga are about demons and spirits, or sports. Black Cat intertwines the mystical powers of the Tao with the science of nanomachines, and it’s full of sleuths and assassins—sort of like a crime novel with a supernatural twist.

The story’s protagonist, Train Heartnet, is a former assassin of the secret organization called Chronos—number 13. Two years earlier, he betrayed Chronos and, though he was supposed to be executed, has instead set up a life as a bounty hunter (“sweeper”) along with his partner, Sven Vollfied, and Eve, a little girl that has been turned into a living weapon thanks to nanomachines. Though carefree and laid-back, Train is actually full of revenge towards Creed Diskenth, the man who murdered his friend Saya Minatsuki. Now, Creed is forming a group called the Apostles of the Stars, who have been granted with the power of the Tao and plot world destruction.

Black Cat is not that deep. It’s not the kind of story that keeps you clinging to the edge of your seat, frantic, desperately hoping that your favorite character isn’t about to die. (*Glances over at Attack on Titan.*) Most of the drama is pretty light, and there’s plenty of comedy to go around (executed mostly by Train), but it is still one hell of a ride. It’s not too wordy, not too dense, but has just the right balance to keep the story from never dragging.

Another thing that I love about Black Cat is Kentaro Yabuki’s art style. He’s mentioned that one of his inspirations is Takeshi Obata, the artist behind Death Note and Bakuman. Takeshi Obata is well known for his semi-realistic style, which also inspired Mark Crilley in Brody’s Ghost. You can see traces of it in Kentaro Yabuki’s work, yet he still keeps hints of traditional manga intact.

I do wish that we could’ve gained more history about the Chrono numbers, because they seem almost like backdrops. I know that since they’re a part of Train’s past, they’re not as important, but they seem more transparent up against characters like Eve and Kyoko.

What I love the most about Black Cat is the cliche, but still important moral to use your powers for good, not evil. When Train becomes a sweeper, not only does he clean up the bad guys, but he refuses to kill them. The same goes for Eve, who was raised as a killing machine. They know that aiming for the kill would make things a lot easier, but they still refuse to – and I love that about them.

Black Cat is a great manga. It has a clean, simple story arc, lovable characters, and fantastic artwork. I know that I’ll remember it, even in the years to come.

“I’ve come to deliver some bad luck.”

Manga Review: Black Butler, by Yana Toboso

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Black Butler, by Yana Toboso

Genres: Shonen, Dark Fantasy, Horror, Black Comedy

Volumes: 23

Status: Ongoing

Favorite Characters: Elizabeth Midford, Prince Soma, Snake.

Rating: ✮ +½

            “Love is a magnificent thing but, incidentally, it can also give birth to dreadful tragedy.”

I love Black Butler. I really, really do. I love the elegant drawing style, the gags, the violence, the cynicism, the Gothic touches sprinkled everywhere….It’s a beautiful manga.

What’s so special about Black Butler is that it is both a comedy and a tragedy. Set in the late 1880’s during Queen Victoria’s reign, Lord Earl Ciel Phantomhive works as her ‘watchdog’, handling her dirty work along with his butler, Sebastian—who is literally a devil of a butler. Three years before, his parents were savagely murdered and his mansion set afire, and Ciel was kidnapped and placed as a sacrifice for devil worshippers. In desperation, he summoned a demon and made a covenant with him: stay loyally by his side until he has his revenge.

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Many arcs arise, from Jack the Ripper to a murder mystery reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, then a zombie apocalypse followed by a witching village in the forests of Germany. Each case hides a shocking secret which explodes into thousands more.

Ciel is described as “the aristocrat of evil.” He is not an average 13-year-old boy. Blighted by the horrors of his past, he has become cold, meticulous, and cunning. The only time he ever shows any heart is towards his fiancé, Elizabeth—who looks extremely cute but is actually a badass with swords—which is probably why I love her so much. I love that inside of his dark, foreboding heart, he has that one ray of light.

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Sebastian, the protagonist of sorts, is perfect to the point of absurdity. That has always been why I don’t like him very much. He’s a devil, so obviously he has superhuman capabilities, but it’s like there’s nothing he can’t do, and even though that’s the point, it annoys me a lot.

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Instead, I’m attached to almost everyone else: Elizabeth, Prince Soma, the Phantomhive servants, even Grell Sutcliff, though at first I couldn’t stand him.

The other thing is there are some serious historical inaccuracies. Some are acknowledged, but some are not. For example, Prince Soma at one point is excited about a television, even though this story is set mostly in 1889 and the first fully functioning television wasn’t invented until 1927. Next, Baldroy calls Sebastian Superman—more than once, I believe—when the character of Superman wasn’t created until 1933, and first appeared in 1938.

Despite that, it’s very enjoyable—however, it is not a very happy story. Black Butler brings out humanity’s ugliness, our flaws, our weaknesses. From the vantage point of a demon, it is easy to see how trivial we really are.

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This is the sort of story that shows how cruel humanity can be.

“Humans cannot reject temptation.

When they are plunged into the depths of despair, likened to hell, they will hold on to anything that may help them escape from the situation they are in, even if it’s merely a spider’s thread, no matter what sort of humans they are.”

Manga Review: Vampire Knight, by Matsuri Hino

 

263145Genres: Shojo, Paranormal, Drama

Volumes: 19

Status: Finished

Favorite Characters: Zero Kiryu, Rima Toya, Senri Shiki

Rating: ✮

By the time you open your eyes, the world might have already changed.

This was my first manga. I remember that I used to really like it, but then again, I also liked Twilight, so obviously my taste in entertainment was disfigured.

Here’s the thing about Vampire Knight: it has beautiful artwork and that’s about it. Matsuri Hino’s art is detailed and her characters are ridiculously beautiful, but the story is flat.

It’s set at a private boarding school called Cross Academy, with a Day Class and a Night Class. As you’ve probably guessed, the Night Class are vampires. Yuki Cross, adopted daughter of the Headmaster, and her childhood friend Zero Kiryu act as Guardians, who protect the Night Class’s secret and prevent them from hunting the Day Class.

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Actually, the first eight, maybe even ten, volumes aren’t so bad. It’s after that when things go to shit. I can’t detail them, of course, but there’s a lot of weird stuff that happens that makes little to no sense.

As a matter of fact, that’s a big thing that bothers me about this series: I feel like there’s very little explanation – about anything. It was sort of, “this is this because I say it is.” I remember being really confused, and was never able to fully grasp what was happening. To top it off, it’s also very forgettable, which must mean that I didn’t find it that interesting in the first place.

The text irritates me because of how many ellipses are used. Breaks in dialogue and monologue make the story flow better, I know, but in Vampire Knight I feel like they’re trying to be overly-dramatic – like that one pause for suspense before a character drops a bombshell, except everywhere.

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I listed Zero as my favorite character, but that’s only because I used to have a huge crush on him. I don’t even like him that much anymore. He’s the perfect jailbait for 13-year-old me: tall, handsome, and angsty, with that perfect touch of menace that I used to find enticing.

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Oh god. So much angst.

There’s also some pet peeves of mine regarding the art. Matsuri Hino is fantastic at drawing characters, but she doesn’t illicit movement as often – lines, suffixes – and so everything looks really stiff. And when there’s a fight, it looks confusing and not as drawn out, like she was rushing through the scene in order to get back to the angst. Plus, everything muddled together so I couldn’t tell who was doing what.

And that ending? REALLY? What the hell was that? It was terrible.

It’s pretty, visually, but it’s like a rose without a scent. Everything sort of fell apart towards the middle, to the point that I don’t know why I kept on reading it – but I did. And it’s done. So now I can move on.

Even though we both know that our loved one will never so much as look our way we can’t erase that small something within us that continues to hope in vain.

Manga Review: Attack on Titan, by Hajime Isayama

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Attack on Titan, by Hajime Isayama

Genres: Shonen, Dystopian, Horror

Volumes: 19

Status: Ongoing

Favorite Characters: Eren Yeager, Captain Levi, Mikasa Ackerman

Rating:

On that day, mankind received a grim reminder. We lived in fear of the Titans and were disgraced to live in these cages we called walls.

For this series, I think that on the inside of Volume One there should be a page that says, “Welcome to Hell.”

Attack on Titan will destroy you. You will agonize endlessly over it, until it completely takes over your life and you can’t think of anything else. That’s exactly what happened to me.

The story begins in the year 845 in a dystopian world where giant humanoids called Titans roam the Earth, preying on humans. They don’t need to eat to survive—it’s later revealed that they don’t have a digestive system—so no one knows why they do this, or why they even exist in the first place. Regardless, what’s left of humanity has retreated inside three circular walls, and they have lived peacefully for over a hundred years.

Eren Yeager is 10 years old at the time. He lives in Shiganshina district with his family and, furious at how humans live because of the Titans, is determined to join the Survey Corps—a military branch that risk their lives to venture outside the walls, hoping to gain information that’ll aid humanity’s fight.

On that day, the Colossus Titan breaks a hole in the wall, and Titans rush in.

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My favorite thing about Attack on Titan is that it keeps me guessing. After Volume 12, the story branches off and becomes less about the Titans and more about corruption inside of the walls. Characters that I thought weren’t important end up hiding shocking secrets that completely change the game. Tons of new questions arise, and though we’re given a few answers, we never know the full truth, which leaves us desperate to find out what it is.

This is the story that sucked me back into the manga/anime fandom. I had been long gone from it for years, and then one boring April day, I decided to open up Crunchyroll and watch something. I had no idea what I was about to do to myself.

I recommend watching the anime first. I don’t usually say this, but if you enjoy the full emotional experience that comes from being sucked inside of a world, watch the anime first. And hang onto something, because you’ll be losing it.

I feel very protective over every character in the 104th Training Corps, as well as those in Squad Levi and the rest of the Survey Corps. Eren is by far my favorite, and it’s because he’s not special. He’s not highly skilled, he can be kind of an idiot at some points, and at others, he’s kind of worthless—but he has a strong will to survive and that motivates others around him to keep going, even if they do think he’s being stupid. *Stares at Jean*. I guess what I really love about him is that though he’s not the strongest, he’ll still get back on his feet and fight.

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Then there’s Captain Levi.

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He is one of the most beloved manga characters in the world right now, and chances are, you’ll love him to. He’s Eren’s opposite: he’s crazy strong and fast, surpassing everyone else in the military, and has been nicknamed ‘Humanity’s Strongest Soldier.’ He’s also extremely short (which I love), cold and ruthless, but he still holds humanity’s survival above everything else and has deep, underlying emotions that start to surface as you read on. Plus, he’s a total clean freak, which has become a sort of inside joke in the fandom.

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The art didn’t impress me at first. I think Volume One was a little rough, but then Hajime Isayama’s skills showed drastic improvement as the story went on—or maybe I grew accustomed to it? I’m not sure. He’s especially skilled at movement; sometimes in a manga, when a character is doing something like, say, throwing a punch, it looks exaggerated or stiff, but Attack on Titan has a lot of action in it and the characters’ movements are very fluid.

I also love the way he draws Eren’s eyes. I’m just saying.

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There are a few translation errors, but that happens. Attack on Titan is at the top of the anime kingdom right now, and with the series coming to a close in Volume 20, a lot of fans are really, really nervous—including me.

To conclude, Attack on Titan is one of my favorite mangas of all time, and I can’t recommend it enough.

You can’t change anything unless you can discard part of yourself too. To surpass monsters, you must be willing to abandon your humanity.