Posts Tagged ‘Japanese’

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.

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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)