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A Devil and Her Love Song (Manga Review)

A Devil and Her Love Song 11Title: A Devil and Her Love Song Volume 11

Story and Art: Miyoshi Tomori

U.S Distributor: Viz Media

U. S. Release Date: December 3, 2013

Genre, Format and length: Shojo manga, 200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Similar titles: Strobe Edge, La Corda ‘d Oro

Synopsis:

Series overview: Maria is a seemingly unemotional and blunt sort of person. She transfers to a high school and her personality soon causes trouble while the school is involved in a choral competition. Maria has a beautiful face and a voice to match. She does makes some friends and even finds herself with a boyfriend. Her mysterious history influences  how she reacts to the others and she will need to face her past to heal and move forward.

Volume 11 starts with Maria’s voice still gone and Shin’s hand still injured and not healing well. Now that they are a couple, there is pressure to have more of a physical relationship. When Maria finds she can’t express herself with her words, things start to get serious as she uses her body to communicate. Shin slows them down, not wanting to take advantage of the situation.

In a drastic pusht to help Maria get her voice back, Shin and surprisingly Shintaro, go with her to the town where she was from. First finding her old home, they get a clue to move on to find some key people of her past. It turns out that Shintaro has known a lot more than it seems he should. He had an elaborate plan involving Maria, but his motives are as not selfish as they seem.

Commentary

There is a lot that happens in this volume, but trying to avoid spoiling the details leaves me less to talk about. It is strange the way in the beginning of the series, things seem to be at a slower pace and each story took a longer time. Now with this important trip, it all happens very quickly. Not enough time seemed to be given to the unfolding.

Communication is still a problem between Maria and Shin. They are very concerned about each other and are always trying to be protective but without expressing what they need and want, even as they are trying to figure out what is in their own hearts and minds.

Maria definitely pushes the physical relationship since her voice is gone. It is her way to express herself . Shin was really sweet the way he reacted. For me, it makes it a bit confusing about the intended age range. It had seemed okay for early teens, but now with this one scene, I don’t really think so any more. I wish it had not been put in to keep all the content at the same age level.

Maria’s character started out as sort of a loner and blunt in her manner but now she seems to have really embraced emotions. She reacts to meeting the man who appears to be her father surprisingly mild. Perhaps it was Shintaro’s influence, but it just seemed too easy, more like the writer was trying to tie things up for the impending ending, which is at least 2 volumes away. It looks like there is 13 total. So where is this quick revelation going to take us? This leaves some time for Shin and Maria to find where their relationship is going. I hope it slows back down to its original pace. All in all, it is still and enjoyable romance series.

Overall Grade:  B

 

 

News: VIZ MEDIA CELEBRATES MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO 25th ANNIVERSARY WITH NEW NOVEL & PICTURE BOOK

Totoro_novel_cvrVIZ MEDIA’S STUDIO GHIBLI LIBRARY IMPRINT RELEASES NEW MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO NOVEL AND FULL COLOR PICTURE BOOK

 

Commemorate The 25th Anniversary Of Hayao Miyazaki’s Landmark Film With MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO: THE NOVEL And An Updated Edition Of The Official Film Picture Book Featuring A Special New Cover Design

 

San Francisco, CA, September 25, 2013 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest distributor and licensor of anime and manga in North America, marks the 25th Anniversary of famed director Hayao Miyazaki’s whimsical animated family fantasy, MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, with the release on October 1st of MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO: THE NOVEL and a brand new edition of the MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO Picture Book.

 

Published under VIZ Media’s Studio Ghibli Library imprint, MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO: THE NOVEL carries an MSRP of $17.99 U.S. / $21.00 CAN, and the MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO Picture Book features an MSRP of $19.99 U.S. / $22.99 CAN.

 

In Hayao Miyazaki’s charming animated classic, eleven-year-old Satsuki and her sassy little sister Mei have moved to the country to be closer to their ailing mother. While their father is working, the girls explore their sprawling old house and the forest and fields that surround it. Soon, Satsuki and Mei discover Totoro, a magical forest spirit who takes them on fantastic adventures through the trees and the clouds – and teaches them a lesson about trusting one another.

 

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO: THE NOVEL

MSRP: $17.99 U.S. / $21.00 CAN · Available October 1st

The superbly animated classic by legendary Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki is now retold in a novel written by Tsugiko Kubo. This prestigious hardcover edition also features original watercolor illustrations by Miyazaki himself, accompanying a story written by veteran children’s book author Tsugiko Kubo. Sure to delight both existing fans and new readers!

 

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO PICTURE BOOK New Edition · Rated “A” for All Ages · MSRP: $19.99 U.S. / $22.99 CAN· Available October 1st

This companion, full-color book to MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO features artwork taken directly from the movie. The updated edition also features new cover design and allows parents and children to relive Totoro’s magical adventures with scene-by-scene illustrations and character dialogue.

 

“MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO is Hayao Miyazki’s timeless fairy tale for all ages and one of the most internationally acclaimed films to ever come out of Japan,” says Masumi Washington, Sr. Editorial Director. “MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO: THE NOVEL and the new edition of the MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO PICTURE BOOK capture the poignancy and emotion of the story of Satsuki, Mei and their loveable fuzzy forest friends and will be wonderful additions to any Miyazaki fan’s personal library.”

 

MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO was released in 1988 by Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli, which also produced SPIRITED AWAY,PRINCESS MONONOKE, HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE and PONYO. TOTORO is an internationally popular property that has spawned a colorful array of adorable plush characters, toys, collectables and other memorabilia. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released the DVD/Blu-ray Edition of MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO earlier this year.

 

Hayao Miyazaki is one of Japan’s most celebrated anime directors. His newest film, The Wind Rises (2013), recounts the early days of aviation and the formative years of Japan’s famed World War II Zero fighter plane designer, Jiro Horikoshi. In 2005 Hayao Miyazaki was awarded the Venice International Film Festival’s Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement. Miyazaki’s other notable films include Spirited Away, which won the 2002 Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature Film, as well as Castle in the SkyMy Neighbor TotoroKiki’s Delivery ServicePrincess MononokeHowl’s Moving Castle, and Ponyo, all of which have received great international acclaim. Miyazaki’s other achievements include creating the highly regarded manga seriesNausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Starting Point: 1979-1996, a collection of essays, interviews, and memoirs that chronicle his early career and the development of his theories of animation. Both are published in English by VIZ Media.

 

Yuru Yuri Premium Edition (anime review)

 Yuri Yuri“The Radius”

Title: Yuru Yuri Premium Edition

U. S. Distributor: NIS America

U. S. Release Date: Sept. 3, 2013

Genre: Yuri, Slice of School Life  and Comedy

Length: 12 episodes, 288 minutes

Format: Blu-ray, 2 disc, Art Book and Box

Age Rating: Teen

Overall Personal Rating: C+

A group of friends begin the academic year in an all girls middle school. Together they are the “amusement club”.

Synopsis:

Kyoko is the self appointed leader of the group of friends and their amusement club.  Yui, more serious and patient,  has been her friend since early childhood. Akari is a bit scattered brain and makes less of an impression on the world around her. Soon to join them is Chinatsu, although she was really looking for a different club when she walked in to the amusement club room. Flashback to when they were young friends in preschool give insight to their relationship. A bump on the head causes Kyoto’s personality to change for the better, but can her friends stand it?

School isn’t the only time they spend together. Yui has her own apartment (owned by a relative). She has the girls over to hang out, making a meal together. Kyoko invites herself over to spend the night. When the weather is warm, the larger group heads to the beach for the day. Swimsuits can cause some awkward moments (of course). The day is full of games, food and fun. When the night arrives, they all change into their Yukatas and light fireworks. Next it is time for a road trip. Kyoko is artistic and writes/illustrates fan manga. She take her friends along with her to a fan comic market expo. She doesn’t warn them ahead of time that they have to wear a costume! With plenty of jealousy and competition in the group, some of the others are inspired to write their own mangas. Chinatsu has an unusually bad talent that comes across as creepy. Unaware of this, she adds her artistic flair to a variety of projects.

The group often interacts with the girls from the student council. Kyoko is naturally good at getting top grades to the dismay of Ayano, student council member. A “friendly” competition begins to see who can score the best on the next exam. When Chitose, also from the council, is acting odd, Kyoto can’t get a response out of her and the reason behind it will be a surprise for the other girls. The school trip takes them to Kyoto. There is lots to see and do, but staying at a hotel is what some of them look forward to, it is like a big slumber party, with hot springs bathing.

Holidays are part of their friendship. Christmas has arrived and the idea comes up that they should have a drawing to see who will pair up and go out on a date. Since they didn’t all get who they wanted, the dates can be pretty awkward. But as time goes on, the understanding and friendships have time to grow. April Fool’s Day is also a day to note.

The season ends with a sleep over at the club room with the amusement club and the student council.

 

Commentary:

The most notable elements of this anime for me can be broken down into 4 parts; the yuri element, humor, plot/story, and the technical aspects of sound and visual animation.

The yuri element is strong throughout with girl crushes, obsessions, fan service and jokes. This in itself wouldn’t be a problem, but this would have been better suited to a high school setting or older. Using middle school students as the cast engaging in all the sexual humor was icky. They even made being sisters seem creepy.

It is a story of friendship, albeit often rather self-centered. Plot or story elements weren’t as strong as they could be. There was one episode where the first half was drowned in pointless chatter (at least it provided relief from the pointless sexual maneuvers and obsessing). The usual bath, beach and Christmas scenes/stories were there. The Christmas pairing up was the one of the more unusual holiday ideas. Some of the pluses were that the girls have some strange imaginations.

A moment on characters. Chitose was constantly fantasizing about encounters between the other girls and getting a bloody nose. Over and over. Ugh. Tedious and not funny, it was getting gross. It is not that this element can’t be used successfully, for example, Arakawa Under the Bridge does a great job of incorporating the element into Sister’s romantic thoughts.

With the enthusiastic and comically emotional characters, the humor was mostly slapstick and sexual jokes. Somethings just weren’t funny, they were just stupid. Let’s not mix the two up. Stupid can get a laugh but it isn’t really fun to watch. I did appreciate the humor of Chinatsu’s creepy art talent.

The sound is really two parts.  The music and sound effects were generally invisible. I don’t know if that is good or bad. The opening song is catchy and the cicadas get very noisy is all the impact I remember. The voices varied by character, but there was some annoying voice work which involved the high pitch squeaky little girl like sounds, too much so. Visually, it is an attractive anime. The colors were a mix of bright and gentle, lending to the  great illustration. The characters were well animated and very cute. The setting and backgrounds were well done with detail, plenty to look at and often pretty. This was the strongest elements in the whole anime. It has the cute look of Lucky Star and Everyday Tales of a Cat God.

Yuru Yuri  is not appropriate for anyone under 15. I don’t like the way they make things look enticing to younger viewers that really aren’t for them by making everyone look so cute, young and enthusiastic. I’ve always thought that slice of life anime was either pleasant, feel good stuff, or thought provoking, not something to create disappointment in humanity. I can watch the news for that.

Season 2 will be coming next January.

Extras: There is a 32 page art book with episode lists, character sketches and bios. Also, there are location sketches and color art  scenes.

Overall Personal Rating: C+

 Review provided EAV

Golgo 13 (anime review)

Golgo13

Title: Golgo 13

Original Creator: Saito Takao

U.S Distributor: Sentai Filmworks

U. S. Release Date: Sept 17, 2013

Format and length: Blu-Ray; 50 ep; 1250 min

Genre: Action

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar titles: Ghost in the Shell; Mobile Suit Gundam

Synopsis

Duke Togo has lived his life as a hitman.  Throughout this career, he has taken the codename of Golgo 13 and with that name, a reputation as the world’s deadliest sniper.  This reputation attracts many employers in search of his services.  However, only a few of his prospective employers hire him as there are two conditions that must be met before Golgo 13 will accept a job.  The first is his payment.  His price is three million dollars.  As such, only extremely wealthy individuals even have the assets to hire his services.  The second is that he must  approve the job.  A number of things seem to affect whether or not he accepts a job.  Part of it seems to be the reason the employer desires his services, part of it is the conditions of the job itself, and part of it seems to be just whether or not he feels like taking the job.  Because of his reputation he has no shortage of possible employers and thus can afford to be picky about the jobs that he accepts.  A regular theme that seems to occur with each job that Golgo 13 accepts is that the conditions make eliminating his target seem utterly impossible.  To the man who hired him, to the police who investigate the murder after he is finished, to anyone who seems to be unfortunate enough to know about his existence, the fact that he was able to pull off such a crime is practically a miracle.

Commentary

I cannot say that Golgo 13 was a bad series, but it gets old very quickly.  There are, essentially, only two episodes.  One episode where he takes on a job where he has to make a seemingly humanly impossible sniper shot. In one situation, he has to hit his target from a distance of two kilometers.  Even the SWAT team snipers on duty said that they would be unable to accurately shoot from a distance any greater than five hundred meters.  In another scenario, He has to wait for just the right opportunity as he has to shoot a man while he’s next to a window which is behind a sliding door which is behind a revolving door.  So both doors had to be open and the man by the window all at the same time in order for him to make the shot. And one episode where, either through bad luck or treachery, he ends up in a situation where his skills as a killer are tested by someone or something that has a huge advantage over him.   For example, in one situation he was drugged and was forced to defend himself with impared motor skills, or in another situation, he ended up being targeted by an experimental military weapon.

There were one real problem that I had with Golgo 13.  One was that there was lots of pointless sex.  For being a cold, emotionless, inhuman killer, Golgo 13 has sex a lot.  There does not seem to be any reason for it other than just because sex.  He leaves almost immediately and she is never seen again.  As far as I can tell, it seems like an attempt to make Golgo 13 seem more like a James Bond 007 kind of character.

Other than that, I had no problems with Golgo 13.  The art was some of the most realistic art I’ve seen in an anime and it really fit with the plot of the series.  The opening and closing themes both had excellent music and the art was more stylized than the episodes were which made the openings and closings nice to look at as well.  I would just not recommend watching the whole series back to back

Overall Grade:  B

Golgo 13 was a good series, it is just not one that should be watched in a marathon as the episodes are extremely similar to each other.

 Review provided by TJ