Posts Tagged ‘Kairi Fujiyama’

Getting back to the Dragon Eye manga series, we leave off with the Exhibition Tournament as Hibiki and Akira battle one another.

Story overview:

The competition between Hibiki and Akira continues in a long and drawn out display of abilities, cunning, and skill. Hibiki is finally able to take the win and the crowd watches with stunned surprise. After the match, Akira seeks out Hibiki and tells him that he will not acknowledge him because he is not a true warrior.

Lan-Lan shows up and teases Issa some more, but she agrees to go and help find the missing Sōsei and Leila, who happen to be tied up with spell notes. One of the Dracules talks to Leila and tries to interrogate her, but his foolish personality allows Leila to do the interrogating on him. Once Sōsei wakes up the two of them find a way to escape.

Sakuraba convinces Issa to continue the tournament rather than try and find his two teammates. Issa reluctantly agrees and defeats his magical opponent in five minutes, even with the nasty trick of attacking Issa’s Dragon Eye. Meanwhile Hibiki prepares his own magical defense as he takes on the same Higher Master who defeated Leila. It is a close battle, but Hibiki’s special trick worked in the end. Unfortunately for Mikuni City, it appears as if the Dracules are getting close to disabling the defenses, which would allow more Dracules to enter the city.

My thoughts:

This series as a whole is an exciting page turner. No less for this volume.

Things to consider:

Leila was stripped down to her underwear when captured, but the Dracule claimed it was because he needed to check for weapons. I don’t see this as totally inappropriate, since; nothing is really shown, in fact, there’s less shown here then if she was wearing a bathing suit. To me, this is funny because of Leila’s reaction, and not to be taken seriously. Still, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Opportunities for discussion:

The motivations between Akira and Hibiki are completely different. Hibiki feels like he wants to prove to everyone that he is the strongest where Akira is all about being a team player and a true warrior. Ask your teen who they think has the better and more moral standing. Then ask them how they can apply this to their lives.

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)
6) Dragon Eye (Volume 6)
7) Dragon Eye (Volume 7)

After a year of reading and reviewing lots of interesting books, I’ve come to some conclusions as to which are my favorite reads of 2009.

Favorite Trilogy of the year

1) The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1)
2) The Golem’s Eye (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 2)
3) Ptolemy’s Gate (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 3)

The Bartimaeus Trilogy, by Jonathan Stroud is clearly a gem. Great writing, superb characters, intriguing story line, wonderfully dry humor, and a page turner no matter which of the three books you are on. Who knew a boy wizard and his djinni could be so much fun?

Favorite Novel of the year

1) Mimus, by Lilli Thal

From a fairly unknown author comes another gem: Mimus, by Lilli Thal. Built on the idea: “what would happen if a prince had to play a fool?” This medieval tale pulls the reader into the prince’s traumatic situation and keeps one glued to the pages to see how everything turns out.

Favorite Manga series of the year

1) Kekkaishi (Volume 1), by Yellow Tanabe
2) Dragon Eye (Volume 1), by Kairi Fujiyama

This is a tough one; I’m actually stuck between these two. Both have great characters, mysterious story lines, and quality artwork. As each volume becomes available in my local US Library, I’m one of the first to reserve a copy.

What lies ahead for 2010?

I hope my readers continue to follow along as excitedly as I when Books For Youth discovers new and exciting adventures. Please feel free to drop a comment of any suggestions for 2010, either for the site, review process, or books you’re interested in getting a perspective on.

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)

DragonEye_5In the last volume, we saw a gimps of Issa’s past and how he used to be on the side of the Dracules. We then learn how Hibiki from Squad Six is after Issa’s Captain’s position—as if the issue with Sōsei wanting revenge isn’t enough. With this we open into the next volume.

Story overview:

On an infiltration mission, Squad Zero assists Squad Six. The purpose is to find the Yara Clan’s inside contact within the Mikuni government. During the mission Issa follows his special orders and separates from the group only to find himself at a dead end. Hibiki from Squad Six shows up, and at first Issa thinks this is an accident, but he soon learns it was a setup. Hibiki uses this opportunity to attack Issa (which is forbidden to do against a captain.) Unfortunately for Issa, his injury from before led to his downfall.

Later the Squad goes out to assist in a cleanup of spell notes, which have gone rampant when a VIUS truck turns over. Issa ends up getting separated (again) when following evidence of an escaped creature that has the same kind of restrictive collar that Issa and the dog have. He finds the creature (called an Igunido) in the sewer and ends up protecting it from a Dracule that snuck in.

Later still, Sōsei joins his old Squad on a mission of a possible virus infection within the city limits. He is faced with children protecting their supposedly infected mother and is reminded of his sister’s situation; where Issa had to kill her before she became a Dracule. It scares Sōsei when he almost comes to justify Issa’s actions that lead to her death. Thankfully for Sōsei, he did not have to make that decision, but this triggered Sōsei’s blind vengeance and so we end the volume with him pointing a sword in Issa’s face; challenging him to a fight to the death.

My thoughts:

I laughed out loud when the “Dog”—that lurks in Squad Zero’s ready room—accidentally said “Thanks” to Leila. Yes, that’s right, human words. They both freaked out. Later, the dog shows up—in a short time from a far distance—after Issa called it to help him with the mysterious Igunido. There’s more going on here and I can’t wait to read more to find out what. If this series has not hooked you yet, then the comedy, tension, and character situations of this volume are sure to do so.

Things to consider:

As is the other books in this series, the rating stays at ages thirteen plus. There are two things that may be taken as inappropriate. (1) When Issa is asked what he likes about Aoi, he dreamily says he likes her breasts. (2) Later, when trying to get Leila to stop hounding him about the condition of his injury, he starts to say “Broken” and changes the “Br” to “Breast” then lightly pokes her breast with chopsticks. Of course she pounds him silly, but it worked: it changed the subject. Now, this is Japanese humor, and quite honestly, when read in the context, it’s pretty mild and pretty funny. Get that? Funny, not serious. But still, I have to warn the sensitive parent.

Opportunities for discussion:

It is sometimes unclear what the right thing to do is. As Sōsei discovers when confronted with the children protecting their mother. This is a good lesson for life, as things are not always so black and white. Ask your teen what they would have done in Sōse’s place. Now, sit back and listen without interrupting. The more you listen, the more your teen will feel like they can confide in you.

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)

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)

DragonEye V3So far we’ve learned about a D Virus that nearly destroyed humanity. Fortified cities were put into place in order to protect citizens from infection. In addition,  an organization named VIUS was put in charge of protecting them.

In our last volume we had our favorite VIUS, Squad Zero members, investigate a large, underground cavern. The team was unintentionally split off with Issa and Sōsei in one group and Leila, Kajiyama, Hibiki, and two other volunteers in another.

Story overview:

Continuing where we left off in the mysterious cave, Sōsei realizes that Issa is right about the numbers of Dracules. The earthquakes appear to have been started by them stomping, and so Sōsei puts on a special mask to help prevent him from being affected by the large virus density that could damage his brain.

Issa and Sōsei find a large opening where the hundreds of Dracules are crowded together. At the very front, on a sort of stage, are three human-like figures with extremely large amounts of power. One of which possesses an eye similar to the Dragon Eye that Issa has. Once the two realize that these hundreds of Dracule are planning to ransack a nearby village, Issa decides to try and stop the creatures before they can leave the cave. We discover a past identity of Issa, called Leda, whom he uses to goad the Dracules. It appears when Issa was Leda he was on their side, and had killed many humans himself.

Meanwhile, the other group of companions fight off a large number of Dracules themselves. Kajiyama uses a special bullet to add light to the cave so that the team can see the Dracules better. It’s here we are shown Hibiki’s awesome power and seemingly obsessive desire to fight.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed seeing some glimpses of Issa’s mysterious past. Also, it was interesting to see how some of the character dynamics unfolded. This is still among my top three manga.

Things to consider:

Same age as previous: thirteen plus. No sexual references, no foul language, just action violence. No real bloody violence; when a Dracule is killed it mysteriously vaporizes into the air.

Opportunities for discussion:

Sōsei falls from a cliff and almost lands into the huge crowd of Dracules, but Issa saves him. Sōsei tempts Issa to let go and end his life, otherwise he’ll only end up killing Issa later for the vengeance of his twin sister. However, Issa continues to show compassion at his own risk and saves the young man, who seems reluctant to be thankful for the action. A discussion topic for your teen(s) would be to ask them what they would do in that situation. Would they let go or save their enemy? Then read to them the Bible verse, Matthew 5:44, “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you . . .” Obviously this does not refer to the Dracules who are past the point of salvation, but more to those who are placed in our lives.

Past reviews in this series:

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