Archives for : Viz Media

Psyren vol. 16 (manga review)

Psyren 16Title: Psyren vol. 16

Author/Artist: Toshiaki Iwashiro

Distributor: Viz Media

American Release Date: May 6th, 2014

Format: Manga

Genre: Action, Supernatural, Shonen

Publisher Age Rating: T+ for older teen

Overall Personal Rating: A-



Miroku Amagi is in the habit of using his powers to toy with the lives of other humans, but Ageha isn’t going to stand for it anymore. What will happen when the two foes pit their incredible powers against each other?

Ageha’s fellow Psionists and the Elmore Wood gang attack W.I.S.E’s capital to rescue their friends, and Kyle and the others find themselves in a desperate struggle for their lives against the Star Commanders. Fortunately, the long-lost Oboro appears just in time, as do Matsuri and Kagetora, who have finally made it to Psyren. As the melee intensifies, Ageha confronts Miroku Amagi alone to settle the score once and for all.

This is it, the final volume. Don’t miss the action.



Psyren 16 does something that very few series manage pull off with their final volumes and that is the ability to bring it home and have it all make sense. The story unfolds and an action packed battle that reveals everything but at the same time leaves the door open for more interpretations to come. I’m not saying that you will walk away not feeling satisfied or left feeling like something is missing. Rather, I believe you will find this volume very well developed and properly completed.

I love the way Ageha manages to take on Miroku Amagi and unravel his entire plan. The others do their best and are able to stand their found, but it all comes down to Ageha and how well he can do. I can say that the way this final battle is put together comes across well and compared the rest of the series it stands out as the best so far and of course it should be.

Overall Grade: A-

Psyren has been a tail of two cites for me. I found the early volumes to be rather slow to develop and the pacing was way off. As the story developed things really came together. This brings us to the final volume where everything needs to come together and sure enough they do. The pacing was just right and the way it is wrapped up was done in a rather nice job, even if it could have been a little cleaner I still really enjoyed it. Toshaki Iwashiro managed to create a rich and action packed world. For anyone thinking about taking on this series all I can say is stick with it the final product stands along side other series like FMA or even Bleach with it only being shorter. This is truly a top notch shonen series and worth a try.

One Piece volume 70 (manga review)

One Piece 70Title: One Piece volume 70

Writer/Artist: Eiichiro Oda

U. S. Distributor: Viz Media

U. S. Release Date: March 4th, 2014

Format: manga paperback / 192 pages

Genre: shonen, adventure, comedy, action

Overall Personal Rating: B

Publisher Age Rating: T for teen


The battle on Punk Hazard heats up as Luffy faces off against the diabolical Caesar Clown. Meanwhile, can the rest of the Straw Hat crew escape the deadly gas that is spreading all over the island?! The goal of capturing Caesar may be realized but the real goal of bringing Doflamngo to his knees might be even a bigger deal.

While trying to make it all work the crew manages to save some kids and at the same time give some Marines a reason to question how much they hate Pirates. Now with the battles winding down will things get even more interesting? Will Luffy finally get that great meal he’s been waiting for or will dinner be interrupted? What is going on in the New World and how does this effect the plan to bring down all four Emperors? I guess you will just have to read volume 70 to get back on the path of understanding.


Eiichiro Oda has one of the most active imagination I have ever come across and proves that there are very few people that can pull off this absurd of a story with the simplistic comedic touches that make it so popular. Personally, I have never been a great fan of One Piece, but as I get further into this story I can say that I respect Oda’s talent. He sure can weave a story together and at the same time come up with some of the craziest ideas. I know that his creativity and story telling is what keeps all the fans coming back, but what amazes me is that he just keeps pulling it out of nowhere. No matter how tiresome I find some of the characters I have to recognize Oda for being very talented.

Now as for the characters and their tiresome ways, I must be very clear that Luffy is by far the worst of the bunch. I get the fact that he comes cross as a simpleton who just might be a lot smarter than everyone else, but it would be great to see him take on an air of awareness that makes him look a lot less stupid. Most of the others have good and bad moments except for maybe Usopp who is the second least favorite character. I don’t mind it when some of the secondary characters are simpletons but when they reach the main group it is nice to see them have something other that naive or dumb written on their foreheads.

Overall Personal Grade: B

Volume 70 of One Piece sells the story well and keeps the action moving. It is a show case of Oda’s creativity and at the same time gets off the island. It also helps take this arc to the next level and sets up some rather interesting premisses. Of course there is no clear end to this arc in sight which could honestly become a real detriment to its development. I am hopping to see more in volume 71, but because of the way Oda typically move through these arcs, I don’t have much hope for any real enlightenment.

Anyway, One Piece 70 is a very fun read and plenty of great stuff happens to give this one a solid grade. I am looking forward to volume 71 and can only hope we learn even more once it is delivered. All you crazy One Piece fans enjoy it is worth it this time.

Case Closed vol. 50 (manga review)

Case Closed 50Title: Case Closed vol. 50

Writer/Artist: Gosho Aoyama

U.S. Distributor: Viz Media

U.S. Release Date: April 8th, 2014

Format: manga / paperback/192 pages

Genre: Mystery, Comedy

Publisher Age Rating: T+ for older teen

Overall Personal Rating: A-


A reporter is found dead just before an interview with the Junior Detective League. Conan is determined to close the case… but with his teacher watching, he has to do it without letting on that he’s smarter than the average first grader!

Then, flash back to one of Jimmy’s first cases! When a death takes place at a ski resort, everyone believes a legendary ghost has struck again. But two middle schoolers think otherwise: young Jimmy Kudo and young Harley Hartwell! Which boy genius will solve the mystery first?


As with most volumes of Case Closed the mysteries are relatively striate forward and at the same time interesting enough to hold your attention. Not being a big fan of detective stories I find the Case Closed stories to be fun enough to make we relax and go with the flow. The real reason for this ease is due to the writing. Gosho Aoyama proves time in and time out that he has got the talent for telling a store and leaving the reader with a felling like they just had a great conversation with a friend. That is the hallmark of a great writer and I don’t care if the media is manga / graphic novels or more aligned with the serious novels that end up on the short list for a Pulitzer Prize. Tell a good story is what it is all about.

Volume 50 of Case Closed takes on more than just a current mystery, there is also a flashback to the case that started it all. This is fun but it is were any weakness is found in the volume. I thought it was just a little pandering to the Jimmy fans and maybe it would have been more interesting to flashback to a more significant case rather than the first one.  With that being said, I still found the story to be entertaining fun to read.

Overall Grade: A-

Case Closed is a series that can and does have very wide appeal, even if it is more appreciated by the Japanese. I would at least hope that the American readers that grew up with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys show give this series a chance. I have a feeling that they will be shocked as to how much better . Of course there is no comparison to Scooby Doo. So, if you love this level of mystery or detective story this Case Close is the place to go for fun and mystery.

Naruto volume 65 (manga review)

Naruto 65Title: Naruto volume 65

Creator: Masashi Kishimoto

U. S. Distributor: Viz Media

U. S. Release Date: Nov. 5th, 2013

Format: Manga / Paperback / 192 pages

Genre: Shonen, Action, Adventure, Supernatural

Age Rating: T for Teen

Overall Personal Rating: B+


The ninja war approaches its climax as Obito and Madara manage to awaken the powerful beast known as Ten Tails. Standing in their way are Naruto and the Allied Shinobi Forces. However, the entire war may be turned upside down when Sasuke succeeds in doing what many thought was impossible!

With Sasuke and Orochimaru returning to Konoha to revive all of the Hokages this take a turn for the strange. Orochimaru is able to bring them back and also give them enough freewill to be able to answer Sasuke’s questions. As the enlightenment follows what comes next is the real question. Will Sasuke decide that Konoha still needs to be destroyed or will he take the power of the Hokage and use it to help defeat Madara and Obito and end the great war?


I know that most Naruto fans dislike Sasuke and over the years he did become even more of a punk than he should have, but now that he is back it looks like maybe his brother, Itachi did have an impact on him after all. This reunion with the Hokages does something that I never thought I would enjoy in this extra long series. That something is the journey back in time and the almost inevitable flashbacks that always seem to drag on and on. In volume 65 history actually makes a difference in the story. No only does it help enlighten us in the motives of Madara but it also gives us insight into what makes the Uchia Clan so different and also the motivation that lead to their destruction. Honestly, I found it rather nice to read about this history. Most of the time the flashbacks and history lessons don’t have much meaning and just muddy to waters and extend the series in a way that is not always desirable.

Masashi Kishimoto does us a big favor her and in the end I think everyone will be happy with what happens. I’m not real sure why it took so long to get to this point other than the fact that the longer the series the more money they will make. I think the movement in this volume just might make all the difference and allow the series to actually bring a few issues to a close. At least that is what I hope to see.

Overall Grade: B+

Just the fact that I didn’t find this volume tedious is a huge plus, but there is also the fact that part of the plot finally turns a corner and allow some light to be shed in a possible closure of a long running plot device. I was also impressed with the speed in which the answers came to Sasuke, I expected it to take several volumes to get to this point and have to live through some rather pointless flashback and history lessons. Naruto 65 should be a huge hit with all of the Naruto fans and maybe just maybe Sasuke can find a little appreciation for the person who he is becoming.

Tiger and Bunny vol. 4 (manga review)

Tiger & Bunny vol 4Title: Tiger and Bunny vol. 4

Art By: Mizuki Sakakibara

Planning / Original Story: Sunrise

Script: Masafumi Nishida

Character Development: Masakazu Katsura

U. S. Distributor: Viz Media

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 11th, 2014

Format: Manga, 184 pages

Genre: Sci Fi, Super Hero, Comedy, Action, Adventure, Seinen

Age Rating: T for teen

Overall Personal Rating: B+


The heroes face down the deranged NEXT killer, Lunatic. Lunatic’s vigilantism has the city on edge, and the heroes find themselves having to convince everyone that NEXT are working for the good of Stern Bild City. Lunatic is in the wrong, but there is much more to the madman than anyone knows.

All the while we find Origami, Tiger and Bunny asked to visit Origami and Bunny’s alma mater. This sends Origami into a real funk and makes him question his entire existence as a hero. Tiger is quick to be supportive and is also put on the spot by the students to judge their powers. Of course they all have very strange powers and it forces him to come up with powerful idea for them. All of his enthusiasm from Tiger  and Bunny just listening ends up helping  Origami out and giving him something that he has needed for a long time.

Bunny is still charging forward looking of anything or anyone connected to Ouroboros and when he gets the chance to confront Lunatic he learns something he would have never expected. Does Bunny get any closer to discovering the truth and will Origami become a Hero who is interested in being in the forefront rather the side line?


As much as I like the Tiger & Bunny anime, I must say that it is a much better story in manga form. I don’t typically have that reaction, but in the case of this series there is something more personal about these heroes that is not caught in the animation format. I get a much better sense of who these characters really are by the emotional essence of their personas thought the print media. I think that when animated everything moves rather fast and some of the nuances are lost. Most of the time voice acting is able to bring the character to life and portray the emotional aspects of the character, but for  Tiger and Bunny I see it the other way. It may also be this volume that brings that to the forefront because of Origami’s personal struggle.

This volume also is a great example of the difference between Japanese graphic novels and American Graphic Novels. In most American hero stories there might be some emotional issue that the characters are dealing with but they tend to be rather dark and depressing. In Tiger & Bunny and many other super hero style manga the personal issues tend to be somewhat more mundane or even something that most of the readers can connect with. There seems to be a real empathy for the reader that we just don’t get with many American stories. I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen, but most of the time the personal trauma’s are much more melodramatic and supercharges.  They just don’t spotlight a young mans lack of self confidence because he is having a hard believing in himself.

Overall Grade: B+

Tiger & Bunny is a many layered series that reaches across the ocean to try and blend with the west’s superhero genre and at the same time add that very eastern touch to the story. For all american comic and graphic arts fans I would seriously recommend Tiger & Bunny. I might not be as dark as the new generation heroes on our side of the pacific, but it does provide a great picture of a group of heroes that still have to live their lives just like everyone else.  Don’t be afraid to give it a try!

Magi Volume 4 (manga review)

Magi Volume 4Title: Magi Volume 4

Author: Shinobu Ohtaka

Distributor: Viz Media / Shonen Jump

American Release Date: Feb. 11th, 2013

Format: Traditional Manga

Genre: Shonen, Action, Adventure, Comedy

Publisher Age Rating: T (for Teen)

Personal Review Rating: C



After many adventures, Aladdin finally reaches the great city of Balbadd. There he reunites with his friend Alibaba hoping to once again capture a dungeon together. However, a more cruel destiny lies ahead. The road to Balbadd is fraught with plenty of trials and the fist of which is Morgiana dealing with the bandits and slave traders who stand in her way.  The one they didn’t expect was someone with her stubbornness and desire to help others. Once she frees Aladan he is able to find his flute and then they all learn a very hard lesson.

As they get back on the road to Balbadd they meet a fellow traveler who was robbed of all his possessions. There kindness ends up paying off once they reach their destination and in a way they would have never expected. Will they be able to locate their old friend Alibaba or are there more forces that stand in their way?


Blending the Arabian Nights into a fanciful manga series is fun and somewhat entertaining, but that is where it begin to fall apart. The imagination that created the 1001 Arabian Nights used the stories to weave fanciful tails of heroism and the darkness of the human condition. For the series Magi it becomes more of a weak premiss for a series that could have some very powerful potential. Volume 4 of Magi doesn’t so much other than set up a more interesting confirmation to come, or at least I hope so. The characters come across rather shallow and a little simplistic. There was something interesting that began to happen when Morgiana confronted the Slave Trader, but it was over before it could ever really begin.

This quick hit plot pacing might be the reason why I was left a little flat while reading it. The story moved so fast that I was wondering why this section needed to even happen. I guess that it is possible that some of the characters that where involved  in the first half of this volume can come back later, I just don’t see how they would add any meaning to the story.

Overall Grade: C

I guess that there are plenty of shonen jump series that only exist to provide a quick hit of action and lack any real meaning or essence. I have a felling that Magi is one of those series. It is a shame that there isn’t more to this series when it is using  and blending some rather beloved characters from other great story tellers from around the world. This is something that the Japanese constantly try to do and constantly miss the point when it comes to context and meaning. Maybe just maybe the Magi would have come across with richer characters and a more interesting story line if it would not have drawn its characters from the literary history of the Middle East. It is very possible that I am wrong about this series and there is some potentially rich entertaining story to come, but with it coming across this flat this early in the series makes it hard to keep following along. I am an open reader and will continue to follow Magi and hope for more. So, bring it on amaze me I always love a surprise.

Psyren vol. 15 (manga review)

Psyren 15Title: Psyren vol. 15

Author/Artist: Toshiaki Iwashiro

Distributor: Viz Media

American Release Date: March 4th, 2014

Format: Manga

Genre: Action, Supernatural, Comedy

Publisher Age Rating: T+ for older teen

Overall Personal Rating: B+


Ageha and his fellow Psionists and Elmore Wood launch an attack on Astral Nava to rescue their kidnapped friends and confront Miroku Amagi once and for all. The Star Commanders are formidable opponents, but Ageha’s team gets a boost from some surprise reinforcements. As the ferocious battles rage, Miroku begins to set his ultimate plan in motion: the creation of an entirely new species to replace the human race!

Is it possible that Ageha and the others have the power and understanding that will remove this threat to human kind?


As we get closer to the final battle and conclusion of the series things are really heating up. We are discovering new things about these unusual fighters and at the same time getting a better picture of the secrets hidden behind the curtain.  Volume 15 of Psyren is decently action packed and some surprising heroes arrive on the scene, but the question that remain is if the new found power of Ageha’s give him the edge or does it just make him feel better about his chances. The stage is being set and the simple fact is that this is where Psyren locks itself into the stereotypical shonen mode. I was expecting more surprises in this volume and a few twist, but things are lining up just as expected and in a way I am a tad bit disappointed.  I know that it is hard to bring a series to its climax without falling back on some tried and true plot devices and I sincerely hope that the final volume gives us the true twist that this fine series deserves.

The pacing in this volume is relatively strong which makes it very easy to read and follow. The battle sequences do not get overly complex and confusing and that too helps the reader stay focused on what is really happening. The clean battles are very important to this stage of the story because when there are so many things being introduced to help the series make its final moves many creators get crazy and loose control of their editing abilities. Toshiaki Iwashiro does a great job of staying focused and on top of the action.

Overall Grade: B+

Psyren, is one of those series that has it all from the wayward teen ager turned ultimate hero to the crazed evil person who wants to recreate humanity just to prove a point. The heroes are everywhere and for Psyren I see even some of the minor characters as having some true strength and reason for being not just for filler and canon fader as the story progresses. Much about this series opens plenty of door for great story telling and for this next to last volume I feel like Toshiaki Iwashiro fell back on some rather tired cliché elements. On the other hand Toshiaki does a great job of not mudding the water with over complicated battle scenes and that may just be the best part of the volume. All in all volume of 15 of Psyren is strong enough to propel us into the final volume and keep us guessing on what will really happen.

Toriko Volume 20 (manga review)

Toriko Volume 20Title: Toriko Volume 20

Artist and Author: Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro

U. S. Distributor and Publisher: Viz Media

U. S. Release Date: Feb. 4th, 2014

Format: Manga / paper back /  200 pages

Genre: shonen, action, adventure, comedy

Publisher Age Rating: T

Overall Personal Rating: B+



The rivalry between the two superpowers of the Age of Gourmet heats up when IGO President Ichiryu pays a visit to Gourmet Corp.’s headquarters in the Gourmet World. Things come off a little edgy and it looks like there is only one outcome for these family rivals.

Meanwhile, Toriko and Komatsu set off on a world-spanning journey in search of some bizarre – and stinky – ingredients needed for a massive sushi roll that will guide them to the next item on their training list. In order for Toriko to find the location of Chowlin Temple it take a world class sushi roll to point the way and Toriko must collect all the special ingredient for this very special roll. Will his efforts pay off and lead him to the elusive Chowlin Temple?


Toriko is by far and away one of the strangest mixtures of genres that are currently in print in the U. S.. This crazy mixture of food and battle manga is both imaginative and insane at the same time. I find Toriko to be one of the most refreshing Shonen Jump titles because it is fun and atypical with the over the top food that sits at the center of this series.

I wish I could say that the characters are new and different, but they easily fall into a standard fair for shonen personalities. They are all very much stereotypical and very predictable. That doesn’t make it bad, it just helps found the series so that the surrounding world can shine. It is rather reassuring that these goofy humans play their part in this special series and that it allows the culinary aspects of the world they live in take center stage.

Overall Grade: B+

Toriko is one of the series that everyone should give it a chance. I think that with the approach to a battle mange could win over some hardcore anti battle or shonen readers. It will also show the shonen fans that a battle series doesn’t have to be so static or formulaic. Toriko gives us a rich environment that take us on some very special journeys.  If there is anything that I would change it would have to be some of the more simplistic characters. I guess that if this world would have a little more complex characters it would take it the next level. I could easily see Toriko going completely off the deep end the way that Bobobo-Bo did and losing focus and also the fan base that loves continuity of story. Keep it coming, I can’t wait to see what is on the next course.


Hayate the Combat Butler vol 23 (manga review)

ItemDescription-1review provided by TJ

Title: Hayate the Combat Butler vol 23 (manga review)

Author: Kenjiro Hata

U.S. Distributor: Viz Media

Release Date: February 11, 2014

Format and Length: Manga; 186 pgs

Genre: action, comedy, romance

Industry Age Rating: T+ for Older Teen

Overall Personal Rating: B+

Similar Series: Rosario + Vampire


Volume 23 picks up with Hinagiku trying to confess her feelings to Hayate. However, somehow the subject gets changed and they end up talking about another girl that Hayate is in love with, yet he thinks that the girl hates him for something he did a long time ago. Against her own judgement, Hinagiku encourages him to go talk to her and find out if she really does hate him or not.  The girl is Athena Tennos, the heir to the rich Tennos household.

Once Hayate arrives their, her butler greets him at the gate. Assuming that Hayate must have done something horrible to Athena, he immediately attacks Hayate. Hayate is easily overpowered, but once knocked unconscious, Athena orders her butler to bring him inside.

It turns out that Athena has ulterior motives for bringing Hayate inside. It seems she needs the Kings Jewel that he wears in order to acquire her inheritance. The problem is, however, that Hayate has promised his master that he would always protect the stone. When athena heard his refusal, her desparation to have the stone allows her sould to bind itself with a divine spirit. Hayate just barely escapes from her onslaught. When he returns to his group, and discusses what happened, it is revealed that he has an ultimatum. He can either give the Jewel to Athena to release her from the divine spirit, but that would also make Nagi lose all her own vast inheritance.



While reading Hayate the Combat Butler volume 23, it felt fun and interesting. However, once it was finished, I was left with the feeling that nothing had actually happened in the volume. Nothing changed between Hayate and Hinagiku, Nothing was accomplished when Hayate went to see Athena, and the volume ends with Hayate’s ultimatum. Nothing actually happened. Even so, there was a certain intensity that came with the unfinished fight with Athena and the impossible choice surrounding Hayate’s jewel. It gives a suspence that almost forces the reader to come back next volume just find out what Hayate will choose, and how they are going to solve the problem with Athena.

I do like the placement of the shopping scene at the end of the volume. It serves as a sort of relief from all the intensity that has been accruing throughout the entire volume. It is a calm, silly break, from the life changing choices that Hayate is being forced to make. But it does not let the reader completely off the hook. At the very end it cuts back to Hayate deep in thought, thinking “What should I do?” which immediately brings the reader’s mind back around to the suspense and intensity that will make them want to come back for the next volume to find out what is going to end up happening and what Hayate’s choice will be.


Overall Grade: B+

Even though this volume left the feeling that nothing actually happened, it was able to create enough suspense to create interest in what is going to happen in the next volume.


Ooku: The Inner Chamber Volume 9 (manga review)

ItemDescriptionOoku: The Inner Chamber Volume 9

Created by Fumi Yoshinaga

U. S. Distributor: Viz Media

American Release Date: Jan. 21st, 2014

Format: Manga / Paperback / 224 pages

Genre: Historical Edo Period

Age Rating: M for mature Theme

Overall Personal Rating: B+


Yoshimune brought many changes to the inner chambers in her time as shogun, and now even after death she brings another: the men of the Inner Chambers must study Western learning and discover a cure for the Redface Pox. For if Japan can’t increase the male population, it’s only a matter of time before a foreign power discovers their secret and invades!

Will they get past their distrust of westerners and their strange ways in order to discover new proceedures of keeping safe?


As Ooku moves through its series I  am beginning to appreciate with a new reverence for the story telling and viewpoint of how history is made. For volume 9 I was very impressed with the simple way in which the depiction of how ska;l things can make a big difference in the daily lives of people. Throughout history it has been no secret that the Japanese are very nationalistic and have always protected their boarders from outsiders. This volume gives us a very up close and personal view of how a closed society,  such as Japan during the Edo period, deals with new foriegn ideas. The introduction of a blond haired northern European into the inner chambers to instruct the methods of western medicine creates some interesting side effects. Seeing how he is basically left alone and ignored by the rest of the members of the inner chambers is very much a close up of how all people react to someone with foreign looks and foreign ideas. Much has not changed even today in our so called enlightened world.

Of course the writing was still heavy handed with the much undeserved old english translation, but the point was still conveyed non the same. I did enjoy the artist quality of the drawings and layout of the pages. There was also a much smother transition and pacing that I had not felt in prior volumes. I see this as a hopeful sign as we move through the rest of the series. There was also a rather nice amount of friction being woven into this particular arc in the series. I see that there might be some power plays coming and not so much inside the inner chamber but rather in the government itself.

Overall Grade: B+

Ooku now has a solid tradition to play off of and it just might become the story of how soap changed Japan, at least in this series.  It is funny how we seldom think about the little things in life like soap and where it came from. I found that the introduction of this simple household item is playing a huge role in the development of a country trying to find its way into the next phase of life. Ooku is not a series for everyone, but I think those who like to small historical activist and movement this series would be a fun read. Even though Ooku has changed the gender roles it still follows a very normal and typical progression though time and it has now take on the role of teacher rather than just that of being a study of sociology in a fictional format.  I am looking forward to the next volume.