Posts Tagged ‘boys’

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)

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Traditional manga reads from right–to–left in order to maintain the original Japanese style, but this one was translated left–to–right to fit into an American format. Personally, I prefer manga in its original form, but I won’t let that affect my opinion of the story.

Also not traditional to Japanese manga is the lack of clean, elegant, and eye-pleasing illustrations. The ones in Black & White are very rough, crewed, and may make one feel as if a kid drew them. This I will let my opinion be affected over.

It wasn’t until I read a little about the author that I understood the reason for his artistic approach. It appears that Matsumoto traveled throughout France to refine his techniques, and so the French comic style leaked into his own. This helped me to forgive the poor style graphics, at least somewhat . . .

Story overview:

Two young boys (I’m guessing between the ages of ten and twelve) live on the streets of a town called “Treasure Town.” Their bed is the inside of an abandoned car, and their means of survival comes from mugging those unlucky enough to cross their paths.

Their names are Black and White (resembling no skin or other features). White is a simple minded boy who is a follower of Black (Black seems to be the reason White can stay alive) whereas Black is intelligent and perceptive (White seems to be the only one who can keep Black somewhat human).

When a mob tries to move into town, Black takes it upon himself to force them out (yes, these boys are young, but brutally effective). In the process Black finds himself entering deeper into the ‘dark side’ (so to say) while White wishes and dreams of the life of a normal boy.

My thoughts:

At first, I could barely stand reading this one. The awful illustrations, the despicable characters, the poor dialog, and the confusing and seemingly pointless story had me forcing myself to turn the pages. It wasn’t until the end that I actually saw a redemptive ray of hope. Still, it wasn’t enough to make me want to read the next book in the series. Not with so many others that have more potential. That does not mean there is not a following and those who have the taste buds for this sort of thing, but this one was not for me.

Things to consider:

Warning. This is not a good manga for kids. I read it because it was on a list of popular manga, and since the story resides around children, it is easy to assume it is safe for children to read. Do not believe this. The language is adult, the situations are crude and brutal, and the drawings sometimes graphic. I wouldn’t rate this for anyone under Young Adult, and even then I’d caution them to not waste their time.

Opportunities for discussion:

The theme seems to surround the evil heart of the boy Black and the simple heart of White; a parallel to the Japanese Yin-Yang balance of good versus evil. It is hard to see the good side of White until we get closer to the end of the story when he tells an old, homeless drunk, “When I hurts people bad and when I lies then I tells God I’m sorry. I says, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I won’t never do it again. I says I’m sorry a lot, but it don’t do no good. Cuz I just keeps on hurtin’ peole and lyin’. God is probably mad at me, right gramps?” To which the old man replies, “Hmm . . . Yeah. Probably. You’re usually right.” Now, here’s the thing. Take this into a Christian perspective. As believers we often struggle with our nature as does White, and we cannot give up on saying we are sorry. The only difference here is that instead of saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I won’t do it no more! I won’t do it no more!” we say, “I’m sorry, please help me to change.” Relying on his own strength is what makes White unable to move forward, where we have the helping hand of Christ.

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)

DragonEye_4Continuing in this series, we leave off volume 3 with Squad Zero (and volunteers) investigating Dracule activity in a cave not far from Mikun city. Issa and Sōsei fight off a horde of Dracules while the rest of the team (separated from Issa and Sōsei) are busy with a group of Dracules of their own.

Story overview:

Leila’s group is able to escape the cavern only to find that Issa and Sōsei have not yet returned. After a delay the two show up. Issa asks Sōsei to keep what they saw a secret. Why? He wants to avoid panic at Mikun. Hibiki and Issa have a slight personality conflict as Issa stops Hibiki from killing a bear, which Hibiki thought was a Dracule.

We get a glimps into Issa’s past. Ciara (Issa’s sister?) is shown in chains but Issa seems content just being with her, regardless of what she makes him do.  In the present, Issa narrowly escapes demotion while Leila goes on an undercover mission to discover who is in charge of illegal Dracule fighting.

In another scene, it seems that Hibiki is secretly set to the task of taking over Issa’s position as Squad Zero captain. A higher-up appears to be the brains behind this scheme; but unknown to Hibiki it seems that the man has some ulterior motives.

My thoughts:

We learn that Mikuni keeps tabs on Issa (and others?) who happen to possess the same type of fetter. Thankfully for Issa, he does not use the eye and therefore does not risk expulsion from Mikun. The mysteries are unfolding, and yet they continue to prompt more questions which hopefully can be answered in future volumes. I thoroughly enjoy reading these.

Things to consider:

The ratings for these stay nicely consistent. Targeted mainly towards boys ages thirteen plus. I do not see anything inappropriate for this audience.

Opportunities for discussion:

Issa tells a lie about what happened in the cave. His intentions were good; he did not lie to edify himself, but rather at the risk of demotion in order to protect those concerned. This brings up a good opportunity of discussion for your teens. Ask them what they think about lying, and if there is ever an occasion where it is OK to do so. Then ask them if there is anything they lied to you about, and see if they are willing to give an explanation as to why. If not, ask them what they think about the topic. Use this opportunity to share your thoughts. Comment if you are interested in my thoughts on the topic.

Past reviews in this series:

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

Dragon Eye v1It’s my pleasure to introduce a new manga series called Dragon Eye. It was first released in 2007 and we’re coming up to Volume 8, which should be out Sep 29, 2009.

Here’s a brief history of what’s going on it the story. Humanity was close to becoming extinct when a virus called the “D Virus” infected the majority of the populace; including animals. Those infected turned into vicious beasts called “Dracules,” which quickly lose their mind and go on murderous rampages.

Those who survived the virus were ones who posed strong antibodies; they were able escape infection 99% of the time. They developed an anti-Dracule civil organization and built cities to protect all future citizens (ones who do not have the high-level of antibodies.)  This group also gathered super-warriors called “VIUS,” who use techniques incorporating sorcery and martial arts. Their purpose is to fight off Dracules and protect those not infected. Those who become infected have only one cure: death.
 
Story overview:

Forty years or so after the infection, in the city of Mikuni, candidates go on a hunt for Dracule in order to pass their final test to become a VIUS. There’s an unexpected turn as high-level Dracules show up. These creatues attack the candidates in order to prevent future, potential enemies, but thankfully there was a hidden enlistment exam inspector named Issa Kazuma.

Issa reviles the secret Dragon Eye (hidden in the center of his forehead) to one of the candidates, Leila Mikami, who said it was her life’s mission to possess one in order to avenge her parent’s death. Easily defeating the foes, Issa tests Leila and finds that her motives may one day be genuine.  He tells her that, in the future, he will give her his eye if she has a good reason (other than revenge) to use it.

Leila finds herself as part of the dreaded Squad Zero, only to learn that Issa is the leader. Since the old Squad Zero had been disbanded, she is the only member. Because of the small group, volunteers join Squad Zero on a mission. In the process one of the volunteers named Sōsei Yukimura attacks Issa. We learn that he was waiting for an opportunity to face Issa so that he could kill him. He claims that Issa killed his twin sister many years ago. Rather than be mad about the accusation, Issa convinces Sōsei to join his squad. The young man agrees as a way of getting more info from Issa and an easier way to fulfill his revenge. On their first mission together as a team, Squad Zero discovers that an extremely powerful Dracule was able to get into the city limits and it’s up to them to work together to stop it.

My thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I love the casual personality of the main character, Issa, who has a serious side he covers up. The other characters are very dynamic as well and a pleasure to watch interact. I also liked the chart of Japanese Honorifics at the beginning which explains the different indications of relationship/status when characters speak to each other. For example -san is similar to “Mr. or Ms.” and can be used like Isaa-san (name first, then the honorific).

Things to consider:

This is targeted more towards boys at around the age of thirteen. Older ages can easily enjoy it too, and Mom and Dad can feel safe that it’s pretty clean in the area of sexuality and foul language. There is a considerable amount of action violence and blood though: great for thirteen-year-old boys 😉

Opportunities for discussion:

There is a strong theme of revenge. We learn that Issa is not an advocate of revenge; instead, he is extremely unbinding. That’s an ironic comment, since we learn that Issa is actually bound by fetters that restrict his powers. But when it comes to Sōsei wanting to kill Issa for revenge, Issa does not refute the accusation, nor does he offer up an excuse. One might expect Issa to jump right in and defend himself, or want to have nothing to do with his accuser. Rather, he takes a hit and offers the young man a position in his team. This is a great example of how we should respond when we feel someone accusing us. Obviously it’s good to defend one’s self and not allow ourselves to be walked on, but if we offer grace for wrath, forgiveness for blame, kindness for hostility, then perhaps, as the Bible says: Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Talk to your kids and ask them when the last time it was that someone accused them of wrongdoing. Ask them how they responded and offer up this solution to them for future incidents.