Posts Tagged ‘Anime’

In our last volume, Lag became an official Letter Bee only to find out that Gauche went missing. Moving in with Gauche’s sister (as a roommate), Lag spent his time learning the ropes while seeking for evidence of his role model’s disappearance.

Story overview:
In continuing his Letter Bee training, Lag learns that not everyone shares his same feeling of heart. Among these is Moc Sullivan; a Bee who believes in not getting involved with the letters or the people associated with them.

Lag also comes across a man named The Corpse Doctor, who takes an interest in Steak (the little creature that sits on Niche’s head). Unfortunately for Steak, the doctor’s interest in him is for dissection. While attempting to rescue Steak, Lag receives additional insight as to Gauche’s possible whereabouts.

Investigating the lead, Lag travels to a town named Honey Waters–a place no Bee has been in a long time. While there, Lag leans why: a large anti-government organization has taken over the town. Lag and his companions find themselves in a mess of lies and confusion, and, as always, Lag seeks to find the heart of the matter.

My thoughts
Having watched a good part of the anime, I started becoming bored with the story and almost drop both it and the manga. For the most part, I thought the anime followed the manga quite well. At least, in the beginning. It wasn’t until I got further along that I realized the manga and the anime differed quite a bit. From what I can tell, the anime added a ton of filler episodes, which is what caused me to become bored with the story. The book, however, had a much better forward progress. I might give up on the anime altogether and stick with the book, but curiosity will probably keep me viewing both.

Things to consider:
There are a few shots of Niche wearing tight underwear, forced upon her by Sylvette in an attempt to make her more like a girl. Niche prefers to keep Lag’s boxers–as it is the symbol of their bond (read volume 1). Other than this, I found nothing questionable, and even so, this was really quite tame. The age target continues to be fitting for preteens and older. Good for both girls and boys.

Opportunities for discussion:
One of the letters Lag delivers is filled with lies, which, greatly disturbed him. He believed that all letters contained the heart of the person who wrote them. This caused Lag to question the letter’s value, and whether it was worth risking his life to deliver. In the end, he realized that regardless of the content, it was his job to take it to its proper destination. In doing so, Lag discovers that the recipient was already aware of its misgivings, yet because it was written by her son, it’s true heart was still intact. Warn your children that, when they grow up, there will be times when their job seems unfulfilling and meaningless, but in all things, there is cause to be thankful. By fulfilling ones duties to the best of our abilities we may be accomplishing more than we know.

Past reviews in this series:
1) Tegami Bachi (Volume 1)
2) Tegami Bachi (Volume 2)
3) Tegami Bachi (Volume 3)

As one of my all time favorite animes, I figured it was about time I read the manga version. Instead of reviewing all seven volumes individually, I decided to treat this series as a whole.

Story overview:
A gifted young woman named Nausicaä (Na u shi ka) lives in the distant future. The world has long since survived an apocalyptic massacre called the “Seven Days of Fire.” What’s left of modern civilization and technology consists mostly of a few aircrafts, dug up from deep within the earth.

The creatures that are left have been genetically altered, and a poisonous forest spreads across the land, killing mankind in its wake. As the princess of the Valley of the Wind, and the daughter of a man close to death, Nausicaä takes on the responsibility of representing her people.

Called into war under the Torumekian Empire, Nausicaä deviates from her path by seeking to rescue all life, regardless of ancestry, race, creed, or species. She is driven by her love and compassion, yet brings with her a terror and horror like none other.

My thoughts:
I was thrilled to find so much more to this story than what was in the anime. As stated on Wikipedia, “The tale depicted in the film roughly corresponds to only the first quarter of the manga.” It’s like taking your favorite chocolate bar and adding caramel to it, making it even better than before. As a manga, you do lose the illustrious colors and epic music that was in the anime, but if you use your imagination, you can easily put them back into the manga. If you like one (manga or anime), I strongly recommend you look into the other. My only complaint is that, after the finale, the story came to a quick end (I wanted it to close at a more leisurely pace). Overall: Strong, powerful story. Beautiful, brilliant. A+.

Things to consider:
There are no sexual situations or foul language, however there is very graphic and detailed action violence. It’s done in a way that does not glorify the violence. Rather, the story uses it as a strong anti-violence message: showing the bitter results of war and hatred as it really is. Because of this, I would caution some children and age rate this for teens and older. The protagonist is a girl, but I would equally recommend this for both boys and girls.

Opportunities for discussion:
The true heart of this tale is about anger and hatred, and the blindness and death that follows in its wake. Anger begets anger, destruction begets destruction, and violence begets violence. Yet there is one girl who stands against this. She takes no sides with quarrels and wars. She only takes the side of love, kindness, compassion, and sacrifice; turning enemies into friends and allies. It reminds me of the second greatest commandment. Mark 12:31 (NIV) “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Why is this relevant? Because loving your neighbor fulfills all other commandments. If you love them, you won’t manipulate them, steal from them, or cause them harm. Ask your children when the last time it was they showed love in place of hate. If they say never, tell them it’s a feeling unlike any other, and suggest they try it the next time they find themselves in such a situation.

Story overview:
After becoming an official Letter Bee, Lag Seeing learns that Gauche Suede has disappeared. Since Gauche was the reason that Lag sought to become a Bee, this news devastates him.

Remembering images from Gauche’s heart, Lag seeks out Gauche’s sister, Sylvette. Being the same age as Lag–after a rough start–the two of them form a bond with one main goal: to find out what happened to Gauche.

In the meantime, Lag leans the ropes of being a Letter Bee while helping Sylvette to pay rent by becoming her roommate. In the process, Lag learns more about Aria (the woman who Gauche was supposedly in love with) and how Gauche lost a part of his heart during the “day of the flicker,” where his mother was taken from his memory.

My thoughts:     
After reading Volume 2, I was a little worried that the story would become overly cheesy, but, even though Lag is often seen as a crybaby, it has become apparent that he has a good heart. I continue to enjoy this series and hope others will give it a try.

Things to consider:
Rated for teens, I see very little that’s inappropriate for that audience. Even the violent scenes are without gore. I would recommend this for boys and girls in their preteens and older.

Opportunities for discussion:
In the “Special Chapter: A Bee and His Dingo” we learn that even in death close bonds cannot be broken. Discuss what it means to develop a close bond and why such things are important.

Past reviews in this series:
1) Tegami Bachi (Volume 1)
2) Tegami Bachi (Volume 2)

The next book in this exciting manga series continues after Kaguro’s attack against our favorite Kekkaishi: Yoshimori and Tokine.

Story overview:

The General Manager of the Kokuboro (the bad guys), Byaku, sends some of his team members to track down the current Master of the Karasumori site (the school). This leads them to Lord Uro, but not only are they unable to get to Lord Uro, they discover that he is the master of the land just outside of the Karasumori site, not the master of the site itself.

In the mean time, Gen and Yoshimori continue to strengthen their bond. Yoshimori meets Gen’s “tamer” from the Shadow Organization, Atora, who is a young and spunky lady that manages to keep Gen in check—in the process she greatly embarrasses the poor boy. In an attempt to improve the teamwork of Gen and the two Kekkaishi, she challenges them to catch her in the time of an hour. They were able to meet her demands and so she goes back to the Shadow Organization satisfied that they will work well together.

Yoshimori’s grandfather becomes worried about his friend (a seventy-year-old retired university professor), who may have dug a little too deep into the Kokuboro. Sure enough, they sent an assassin to kill the old man. It seems as if the assassin succeeds, but he secretly escapes by fooling everyone with an Ayakashi in human skin. Having thought to succeed, the Kokuboro are not done with their plans. They intend to take their princess to the Karasumori site in order to save her life.

My thoughts:

We are thrown a clue about the Kokuboro being run by the “Monster Fox of the black pampas grass.” More mysteries are unfolding, including the fact that it is the land itself that choose a Master to coincide with. If the land suffers, then the master will die, but if the master suffers the land will chose a new one (but it seems there’s a time limit before the land cannot survive without one). This is why the Kokuboro plan to bring their princess to the site; in hopes that the land will accept her as its new master. Interesting approach to the story. Watching the plot unfold is exciting, and as always, the character interaction is superb.

Things to consider:

Nothing really questionable. The series rating stays consistent at ages thirteen plus. A few minor curse words and action violence. And these are well placed; not gratuitous.

Opportunities for discussion:

The bond between Yoshimori and Gen has increased. They are in the process of becoming good friends, yet both would probably not admit it. Friendships are important in life, as no one is an island, but there is little else out there that can influence your teen in a positive or negative way. Talk to your teen about the difference between destructive friendships and ones that mutually benefit each person. Then ask them if they have any friends they think could be one or the other.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Kekkaishi (Volume 1)
2) Kekkaishi (Volume 2)
3) Kekkaishi (Volume 3)
4) Kekkaishi (Volume 4)
5) Kekkaishi (Volume 5)
6) Kekkaishi (Volume 6)
7) Kekkaishi (Volume 7)
8) Kekkaishi (Volume 8)

Yoshimori and Tokine are caught in a trap, and without Gen as backup. Their Kekkaishi powers have been nullified and all that remains are the abilities of two School-Aged teens.

Story overview:

Tokine executes a plan of action that uses herself as bait. Not on board with this is Yoshimori, whose main goal is to keep Tokine safe. Instead he comes up with a better plan (amazing for him), which destroys the barrier restricting their Kekkaishi powers.

Meanwhile Gen—after mostly recovering from his injuries—nearly transforms into his full ayakashi form. Thankfully for him a man named Hiba (as we discover was put in charge of watching Gen) puts a stop to this. Later we are shown Gen’s childhood and how he goes berserk and almost kills his beloved sister. (With his brothers and parents the way they were, there’s no wonder Gen acts the way he does.) Thankfully his sister didn’t die, but Gen finds himself taken away by Masamori to learn to control his power.

Back in the present time we rejoin our Kekkaishi duo. The battle goes on until all but the head ayakashi, Kaguro, is left. He himself actually kills the last ayakashi since he didn’t like the creature’s tactics. Walking away, he decides to come back and try again another day. Once the two Kekkaishi meet up with Gen, they are thankful to find the boy hasn’t been kicked out of the Shadow Organization.

My thoughts:

It was interesting to learn how there are two types of half-ayakashi: (1) Parasitic type, which can only alter a specific body part, and (2) Integrated type, which can totally transform, but in doing so they turn into a complete ayakashi and lose control. Gen is the latter form. Interesting story for sure. There’s always a new mystery unfolding and great character interactions: still a page turner even in its eight volume.

Things to consider:

Same rating as the others: thirteen plus and targeted mainly towards boys. No sexual situations or major cursing. Just typical manga violence that appeals mostly to boys (and yes, to me as well).

Opportunities for discussion:

Gen’s story shows how he was an unloved child. The only one that cared for him was his sister, and a misunderstanding made him think she betrayed him, which causes him to lose all hope. Ask your teen what their hopes are in life, and if they ever feel like they are totally lost. Then remind them—even though they may no longer like to hear it—that you will always love them no matter what. This means more than they may let on.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Kekkaishi (Volume 1)
2) Kekkaishi (Volume 2)
3) Kekkaishi (Volume 3)
4) Kekkaishi (Volume 4)
5) Kekkaishi (Volume 5)
6) Kekkaishi (Volume 6)
7) Kekkaishi (Volume 7)

Sōsei became a permanent member of Squad Zero and found out the truth behind the death of his twin sister. The rest of the VIUS members are now focusing on the upcoming Exhibition Tournament, perhaps more so than the year before since Issa is now the captain elect.

Story overview:

Leila tells her Master, Shimon, that she feels like she’s always being rescued by others. He asks her if she would like to switch squads, but she tells him that she loves her squad. Catching up with Sōsei, both he and Leila watch the official opening to the preliminaries of the 29th Exhibition Tournament. Akira (from Squad One) easily defeats his opponent as does Sōsei in the next match. The following matches are with Hibiki (who wins against his opponent), and then Leila (who does not win against her opponent).

Meanwhile, Issa (along with Sakuraba (Shun’ichi)) is stuck welcoming all the dignitaries from other cities.  As everyone is distracted, two Dracules infiltrate Mikuni city. Once all the dignitaries are seated and ready for the Tournament to begin, Issa takes the first match against one of his old squad members, Lan-Lan. She tries to defeat Issa because she is worried that he is being setup for a worse fate, but after some teasing and friendly banter, Issa gets serious and takes her down.

Leila goes to apologies to her master for losing in the preliminaries. On her way back she gets lost and stumbles across the path of a Dracule (Daraku), which/who just so happens to be the one she hid from in a closet in a former volume. Needless to say she is captured. Sōsei gets concerned that it is taking Leila too long to return, so he goes and looks for her only to end up being captured himself. Meanwhile the anticipated battle between Hibiki and Akira commences—with the current outcome not looking so good for Hibiki.

My thoughts:

As the author says, “A new story arc has begun! During these chapters, someone will mature, and a certain mystery will be cleared up . . .” Just as one mystery unfolds another takes its place. This is the kind of story that keeps one wanting more. Top notch.

Things to consider:

Ratings stay the same: thirteen plus. As mentioned in a former volume, Issa has a weakness for breasts. And Lan-Lan takes advantage of this weakness to try and defeat him. It is done in good humor, but I can see some parents thinking of it as inappropriate. The relationship between Lan-Lan and Issa is, as the author describes, “they were apparently close as superior and subordinate . . . or rather, like tormented older brother and cheery younger sister.” So don’t take it too seriously.

Opportunities for discussion:

This volume opens the Exhibition Tournament, which the story had been leading up to for awhile. A topic that comes to mind is competition. Ask your teens what they like about competition and what they dislike about it. Then ask them if they think Leila handled her loss well. Half the battle is knowing how to lose—something we could all probably become a little better at.

Past reviews in this series:

DragonEye_6We leave off in Volume 5 with the start of a tremendous one-on-one battle between Sōsei and Issa. We knew this day was coming, and now it is time to sit back and watch.

Story overview:

Issa and Sōsei face off in a one-on-one duel. Feeling like he was becoming too comfortable, Sōsei goes all out to get his revenge. He would no longer betray the memory of his sister. Sōsei knows that under normal conditions he cannot beat Issa, but he has a chance since the Squad Zero captain is wounded.

The fight continues on in a brilliant array of swordplay and wordplay. Issa does not try to prove his innocence, but rather tries to get Sōsei to desire living. The battle finally ends with both combatants tired and Issa close to losing control, but thankfully Sakuraba comes in and breaks it up.

While packing up his bags to leave the VIUS, Hyuga comes and tells Sōsei that he was there on the mission where his sister was killed. Hyuga tells Sōsei that his sister was infected from pills given to her by a merchant (that looked like Ciara.) His sister begged Issa to kill her before she became a Dracule. Her desire was to go on record as not being infected so that her brother could still become a VIUS. She asked Issa to keep it a secret. This news devastates Sōsei, but he decides to still hand in his discharge request, only to find that Issa transferred him to a permanent role in Squad Zero. Not happy about the idea, Sōsei realizes he has no choice but to obey.

My thoughts:

This volume is full of explosive action, heart wrenching dialog, and powerful images of compassion. Absolutely amazing. A+, five stars, one of the best so far.

Things to consider:

Unlike the last volume, there are no references to “breasts.” I chuckle saying that because the references are so silly that I cannot see anyone taking real offense over it. Still, I have to point it out. As said, this volume has no questionable content other than the standard action violence, and the disturbing death of Sōsei’s sister. Mainly for boys ages thirteen plus.

Opportunities for discussion:

During the duel, Sōsei shouts out, “Futaba’s soul will never be saved! She’ll never rest!!” He was referring to his sister whom Issa had to kill because she was infected. It brings up a good discussion topic though. Sōsei felt like his sister could not rest in peace until her death was avenged. Outside of the fact Sōsei didn’t know the details of her death, this idea was still impressed upon his heart. Christians believe that the soul lives on and that justice is upheld by God at the time of judgment, but Sōsei twists these two together and makes himself judge, jury, and executioner. Ask your teens what they think brings rest to a person’s soul, then share with them the true rest which each individual must acquire on their own (John 3:16.)

Past reviews in this series:

1) Dragon Eye (Volume 1)
2) Dragon Eye (Volume 2)
3) Dragon Eye (Volume 3)
4) Dragon Eye (Volume 4)
5) Dragon Eye (Volume 5)

kekkaishi_v6Getting back to one of my top manga of all-time, we look back at Volume 5 where we experienced the mysterious visit of Lord Uro, learned a little more about Toshimori (Yoshimori’s brother,) and found our two Kekkaishi in a battle against a powerful three-team ayakashi.

Story overview:

After defeating the ayakashi–which formed into a large owl–Tokine is tipped off to the presence of the one observing the fight. Yoshimori goes after him, but the man gets away. In the process, Yoshimori discovers that he is not a man at all, but an ayakashi hiding in a man-skin.

Paranoid about the possibility of ayakashi walking around the day disguised as humans, Yoshimori suspects a new student named Gen Shishio. But the obnoxious Gen turns out to be an agent of the Shadow Organization, sent by Yoshimori’s older brother (Masamori.)

Meanwhile, Yoshimori’s grandfather visits an acquaintance named Heisuke Matsudo, who is a seventy-year-old retired university professor that does not look seventy-years-old. They discuss the possible origin of the man-skin that Yoshimori recovered from the battle.

Elsewhere, Gen’s bad boy attitude does not fit in well with the two Kekkaishi, but the three of them end up working together to take down a tough ayakashi. Gen realizes he was sent to join the group because he has more in common with Yoshimori than he first thought.

My thoughts:

Gen’s character brings out more of Yoshimori’s personality and it is fun to watch them interact (and butt heads.) It is also obvious that Gen has more to him than meets the eye. Good stuff.

Things to consider:

The entrance of Gen brings in some gory depictions as he does not terminate ayakashi into nothingness like the Kekkaishis. Still, this is nothing inappropriate for thirteen-year-old boys. There are no sexual references or offensive language. So far this is one of the cleaner manga series I’ve seen.

Opportunities for discussion:

Gen makes the comment how he cannot restore or fix anything; that he can only destroy. We see a conflict here in his character, which will be interesting to see unfold; however, we also see a good opportunity for discussion. Ask your teen what they think of Gen’s attitude, and the ask them why they believe he can only destroy. From there explain how destroying is much easier that creating (or maintaining,) and how important it is to be one who observes and understands which to do and when.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Kekkaishi (Volume 1)
2) Kekkaishi (Volume 2)
3) Kekkaishi (Volume 3)
4) Kekkaishi (Volume 4)
5) Kekkaishi (Volume 5)

Kekkaishi v4Yoshimori and Tokine are the legitimate heirs of their clan. They protect their school from ayakashi, as the creatures try to absorb the hidden power that is buried deep beneath the building.

Yoshimori is the more powerful of the two and he has a hidden love for Tokine. Tokine makes up for the lack of power with skill and precision, but she tends to think of Yoshimori as a younger, annoying brother.

We pickup from the last volume where Yoshimori’s dog, Madarao, battled against an old friend who turned out to be a new enemy.  After the battle, Yoshimori replaced the power-restricting collar on Madarao. It seems that Madarao develops a little more respect for the boy.

Story overview:

We welcome back the ghost of a patissier (pastry chef,) whom Yoshimori had helped out in a prior volume. The ghost seems to be reluctant to leave the living world. He claims that it is because he did not like that his last word was “cabbage,” but there seems to be something else going on. To help out the ghost, Yoshimori works with Yumeko Hananokoji, the Psychic Counselor that he referred the ghost to. Together they find the ghost’s brother and put closure on the thing that was bothering him so that he could finally find peace.

This leads to the introduction of Yoshimori’s own brothers. His younger brother, Toshimori, feels he’s not as talented as Yoshimori. And his older brother, Masamori, came home for a visit. Masamori is a highly skilled, Executive Officer of the Shadow Organization and seems to harbor some unspoken resentment towards Yoshimori for being the one born with the symbol of the legitimate heir. Yoshimori could care less about being the heir, but has a certain amount of animosity towards his older brother.

Masamori puts Yoshimori to the test as he feels the heir needs to use his skills more intelligently. Passing the test in his usual reckless way, Masamori realized his brother’s strength is greater than he thought. Once Yoshimori discovers that his brother is watching him from the sky, he figures out how to use his kekkai to climb up to meet him. At this time he tells his older brother his plans to seal off the Karasumori site forever.

My thoughts:

This one is still currently one of my top three favorite manga series. As always, great character dynamics and a constant page turner. Good humor too.

Things to consider:

Good for ages 13+ and mainly directed towards boys. No questionable content for this age group. Just the typical action violence.

Opportunities for discussion:

The subject of passing on to another world is brought up. Where this series does not take liberties to share what that world is, I believe this is a good time for parents to. Ask your teens what they think about life after death, and then share with them your beliefs and why you believe them.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Kekkaishi (Volume 1)
2) Kekkaishi (Volume 2)
3) Kekkaishi (Volume 3)

kekkaishi vol3For those of you who have been following this blog on a weekly basis, sorry about the delay in posting. A new addition to the Maxon family has just recently been added. She’s a little young for books and manga, but we’ll get back to some reviews so that we’ll be prepared for when she is.

In the first two volumes of Kekkaishi, we learned about two teens from different families who are guardians by night. They keep creatures (ayakashi) away from their school to prevent them from becoming greater threats; as the beasts absorb the hidden power that’s buried there.

Story overview:

Yoshimori practices his kekkai barrier on a large bolder, but when practicing his “Joso” (positioning) of the kekkai, he struggles to get it where he wants. It seems his powers are enormous, but his control has yet to improve. Tokine on the other hand has the opposite problem: she has complete control but is limited on power. They both secretly envy the other’s abilities and use this as motivation to improve their skills.

They come across a Hiwatari (Ice Blower) ayakashi, and Yoshimori ends up positioning himself in front of Tokine to protect her. Together the two of them join forces (ignoring the family feud) to defeat the foe. We learn of an ability called “Nenshi” (Sense Thread,) which is a kekkai in the form of a string rather than a box. Their job is never done, and soon they face a new enemy for Yoshimori to practice the Nenshi on. Among the group is an old friend of Yoshimori’s magical ghost-like dog, Madarao.

We learn some past history with Madarao and how his/her (I’ll explain later) old friend Koya were both wild dogs living off the land until man came and destroyed it by war, thus forcing the two companions to starve to death. Now it has been five hundred or so years later, and Koya wants to kill humans for revenge. Yoshimori removes Madarao’s collar so that he/she can use full power to defeat Koya. It still turns out to be too hard a task; it takes Yoshimori and Madarao working together, doing the very thing Koya despises (working with humans) to defeat him. Yoshimori then has the difficult task of creating a new collar on the huge beast Madarao has become, and he has to do so before he/she gets totally out of control.

My thoughts:

I continue to enjoy this manga series. There’s a lot of heart in the story and the characters are wonderfully designed (and executed.) It’s interesting to know a little more history about Yoshimor’s helper, and how things work between them. We also get a few more clues into the history of the clans.

Things to consider:

OK, now don’t freak out on me parents. Remember that we use secular books to educate our children, not isolate them. I say this in reference to the his/her comment that I mentioned above in regards to the dog, Madarao. It’s unclear whether the dog is a girl or a boy, and it almost seems like he is a girl now but was a boy back before he first died. At the end of the book the author was asked about this by a fan, to which he replied, “It’s not that important [but] in my mind Madarao was always Gay . . .” Let’s talk about this below, but for now, I keep this the same rating as the other two: mainly for boys and good at around thirteen plus. No inappropriate sexual references or vulgar language, just lots of action violence.

Opportunities for discussion:

Talk to your kids about what it means to be “gay.” Tell them what your thoughts on this whole controversial issue are. Share with them what you believe and why. If you are interested in my opinion, then I suggest you tell them that God loves all his creation and that choosing to be “gay” is considered to be a sin just as much as stealing, telling a lie, or not loving God with all your heart. We all have sin issues to face, no matter what it is. I don’t believe it’s good to promote sin in a positive light, but I do not think we should teach our children to hate their fellow man either. Everyone needs to be shown love and compassion, as we are all fallen creatures. I could say more, but let’s stick to the basics; chose to educate how you best see fit, but do chose to educate, not isolate. Next, another great topic here is bias. When Koya wanted to kill all the humans, he was taking out his revenge for what people who are long dead and gone have done. We should never hate a particular group or race based on something one part of it/them has done. Ask your kids if they have ever done this and what the results where.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Kekkaishi (Volume 1)
2) Kekkaishi (Volume 2)