Monthly Archives: May 2008

Anime/Manga Head Trip: bookstore closure, Afro Samurai art for sale, Cosmode, anime I’m enjoying…

I was upset to find, that the Japanese OCS Book store I walk past everyday has closed down. Well I did wonder who was buying all the expensive Shugo Chara merchandise…clearly no one! I guess there’s just not enough interest for a little shop in an obscure location in Ealing.

If you are a rich anime fan, then The Animation Art Gallery has Afro Samurai art, signed by Samuel L. Jackson for £125 only 6 left! There is also some cheaper Afro Samurai art at £25 if you’re feeling poor!

Cosmode has a free issue online so I thought I’d register and take a look. I’ve only cosplayed once as Natsuki Kuga. I wonder if reading this will inspire me to cosplay again. Well I flicked through and wasn’t inspired, I expected interviews with the cosplayers about how they made their costumes, and maybe costume patterns - not pages and pages of photos.

When introducing a friend to April’s season of anime, the worst two episodes to randomly watch are a yaoi, where a man goes running into another man’s arms, and a detective show where two of the officers have a bizarre yaoi moment and a mad man runs off with his wife’s brain… it’s not really going to show them why you love anime! Then I raved about Kaiji, only to happen upon the one episode where he’s working in a shop and nothing adrenaline pumping exciting happens. Gah!! The two series I felt I might enjoy were Toshokan Senso and The Tower of Druaga: the Aegis of Uruk (although I might change my mind when I’ve watched both episodes all the way through). I used to watch the first episode of anime all the way through and decide whether to drop it or not at the end, but I’ve become impatient and time conscious, dropping series ruthlessly for poor artwork, and all the usual cliches that leave me feeling something is lacking.

I’m quite surprised to be enjoying Armored Trooper Votoms: Pailsen Files. Army mecha doesn’t rush to mind as a genre I’d get really excited about, but now that Chiroco’s mysterious past is coming to light in episode 5, I’m really excited about watching episode 6 when I go home tonight! I was thinking how I was enjoying it in the same way as I enjoyed FLAG, albeit a little less arty, and it turns out they have the same director. It’s not just the one character it’s the teamwork, the character disputes and the feeling of an evil conspiracy that keeps me watching. I’ll aim to finish watching Bamboo Blade and Kaiji this week, and catch up on reading Vinland Saga such a huge backlog! Better there’s too much to watch than not enough :)

Hellgate London Manga Review

This is Tokyopop’s prequel to the game of the same name covering the experiences of John and Lindsey Fowler. Unfortunately, the majority of fans, apart from the uber hardcore obsessive ones, will be disappointed by this weak horror which seems confused about its target audience.

That said, there are some things I love about this manga. Lindsey Fowler has a memorable attractive character design. I was delighted to see a girl whacking a demon to death with a cricket bat, especially when it meant her role in the violence matched that of the generic male lead. I particularly liked the image of her face as she first saw London destroyed by demons. The moment when the demon arm sticks a finger up at John’s ancestor and chooses to bind with John instead was a pleasant surprise that brought some much needed humour (I doubt anyone would find the lame Eastenders joke funny). The plague doctor character was novel, although it’s difficult to find a guy wearing a giant beak very scary! The crazy sandwiches made the brother likeable, so it hurt more to see his decapitated body at the end of the volume.

The character art was good, it just felt more like a western comic than a manga, which jars with me because the main reason I transferred to reading manga was for the different art style. While the clash between the Knights Templar and the Cabalists gave it more depth, it could have been used better to give the story a more foreboding atmosphere, rather than simply forcing the siblings to take different sides. The novel preview at the end was more enjoyable, I liked the description of Warren’s inner torment as a demon controlled his body, forcing him to kill his fellow human beings on pain of death if he chose to disobey. It made me wonder if John will lose control and end up being taken over by the demon arm, which would make the story more gory and interesting, or whether the generic male lead triumphs and turns out to be the one cabalist who is stronger than a demon *yawn*.

My major problem is that this is advertised on the back as a horror, but for the most part feels like a fantasy, with a magic sword, magic pendant and mysterious ancestry. The background art is poor, something that needs to be well done to give a horror that creepy feeling. The dialogue is disjointed, attempting to throw in a random accent from time to time, and the comments made by grown-ups to the kids: “I know you’re a good boy Johnathon” “Ah, Love everything’s worked out delightfully“, isn’t a believeable response to a teenager who’s just been caught digging up a skeleton!!

I’d like to read the next volume if they increase the violence and the horrifying images, here’s hoping to see all the rugby loving chums ripped apart by demons! This manga ultimately falls down because it feels like it’s aimed at younger teens but it’s given a 16+ rating. I had a quick flick through the Dark Horse Hellgate Comics and what stood out to me was that the female character art was hotter, and there was much more gory violence, more likely to encourage someone 16+ to pick this up as a horror title. You can preview the first four pages of the Dark Horse Hellgate Comics here.

If you’re looking for more Tokyopop 16+ horror I highly recommend Dragon Head and Priest.

Many thanks to Tokyopop for providing the review copy.