Posts Tagged ‘Review’

In the first two novels, Emily and Navin lose their father and are forced to move to a mysterious house in a distant town. Emily comes across a magical amulet that opens a door to a new and unusual world. Having taken on the responsibility of the amulet, Emily finds that this new world is in need of her help as a powerful and tyrannical Elf King seeks to make life miserable for the residence of Alledia.

Story overview:
Having gotten her mother back to her old self, Emily is convinced by her fox companion, Leon, to seek out the lost city of the Guardian Council’s Stonekeepers, Cielis.

Learning that Cielis’ possible whereabouts is in the sky (from a book written by Emily’s great-grandfather), Leon seeks out an airship pilot to take them to the center of an unending storm.

With the Elf King’s son as an unusual companion, our group of adventurers seek to locate Cielis before the Elf King can put a stop to it.

My thoughts:
I enjoyed the Star Wars cantina parody. It was obviously intentional, even the reference to the captain’s ship being small and junky, but fast. At the end of the novel, it says that Kibuis finds inspiration in Star Wars and with Hayao Miyazaki. Perhaps that’s why I like this story so much; I’m a huge fan of both. The worst part is waiting for the next book to come out to see what will happen next.

Things to consider:
This series remains consistent in its rating. Good for preteens and older. Very little can be considered questionable or inappropriate.

Opportunities for discussion:
There’s a scene where the pilot is forced to land and refuel his airship on a platform owned by a woman he has issues with. After landing, it becomes evident that she too doesn’t want to see him. By the end, however they make up and restore a prior bond. We can take a lesson from them. It doesn’t have to be a thing just between men and women. This goes for relationships of all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they suffer for one reason or another, but when given a chance at reconciliation, relationships can be restored and the feelings of relief that follow might surprise you. Consider Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV) “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Ask your children if there is anyone they need to work things out with. From there, try to see if there’s hope of reconciliation. Of course, if the relationship is destructive, then sometimes they are better ended than continued. That’s when Matthew 18:15-17 comes into play.

Past reviews in this series:
1) The Stonekeeper (Amulet, Book 1)
2) The Stonekeeper’s Curse (Amulet, Book 2)

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I’ve been waiting for this one to be released. The first volume was pretty good and I had a hard time waiting to see what happened next.

So far in the story, we learned about a world with no sun. Only stars light the way for travelers, including one large, man-made star, which hovers over the capital. A postal-type service is run by Letter Bees, who deliver packages in the most diverse situations. One of the packages was a young boy named Lag Seeing, who gets delivered to his aunt by a Bee named Gauche Suede. Five years after the incident, Lag seeks to become a Bee himself.

Story overview:

Lag was diverted from his journey to the capital, where he was scheduled to take the Letter Bee exam. The diversion turned to Lag’s favor as he acquired his Dingo, Niche. Now getting back to his goal, Lag finds himself in the town of “Dead End.” It is here he plans to use his crossing pass to proceed over the bridge to the capital.

When a girl by the name of Nelli finds out about the pass, she steals it from Lag. Her aim is to find a young man by the name of Jiggy Pepper, who had abandoned her and her brother to become a Letter Bee. Nelli aims to deliver the letter her brother wrote to Jiggy on his deathbed so that he can feel the same pain she did.

With unexpected assistance from Lag, Nelli finds the true heart behind her brother’s letter and gives back the crossing pass. With pass in hand Lag continues on to the Beehive where he has to compete for the Letter Bee position against other candidates. Their test is to deliver a single letter. The catch is that they have to make it past a gigantic Gaichuu.

My thoughts:

I was looking forward to this one, and where I was not disappointed, there were a few placed a bit on the cheesy side. I’m just hoping this series doesn’t go too far down that road, as it has a lot of potential (and originality).

Things to consider:

Viz Media rates this TEEN (13 and up). The reason for this is due to fantasy violence and tobacco use. So in reality, the rating can probably be lowered to preteens depending on the discretion of the parent. I personally didn’t see a problem with any of it. So far this is a manga that I think would appeal to both girls and boys.

Opportunities for discussion:

Intentions. One of the themes here is that Nelli did not know the intentions of her brother or Jiggy Pepper. Only by seeing into both of their hearts by the special ability of Lag Seeing’s Spirit Amber is she able to discern what their intentions really were. This is true to life and we often find ourselves quick to judge someone without knowing fully why they did what they did. Unfortunately, we don’t have access to Spirit Amber, and the only person in history who could see into people’s hearts was Jesus. Remind your children that they too are not God, and that they should be careful to make judgments about people. Ask them if they have ever misjudged someone before, and then find out how it made them feel afterward.

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

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)

kekkaishi_v7We learn that an organized group has its eye on the Karasumori site. Using man-skins to cover their ayakashi identity, they are becoming a problem for our Kekkaishi, who recently have been given help by the Shadow Organization with the addition of Gen to their team.

Story overview:

A ghost cat haunts Yoshimori’s teacher, but rather than let Gen kill it, Yoshimori waits for the cat to find its peace. Shortly after Gen realizes Yoshimori is in love with Tokine. The two boys follow her as she goes off with a popular boy, only to find that the boy is being controlled by an ayakashi (which is why Tokine went with him, and she easily defeated the creature).

Meanwhile, Yoshimori’s older brother, Masamori is inducted into the Shadow Organization’s Executive Committee (Council of Twelve). The council turns out to be a den of wild beasts, all of which Masamori plans to kill someday.

New and improved human skin is produced to disguise ayakashi sent on a mission to demand the surrender of the Karasumori site. One of the oppressors decides to keep his old human-skin, which resembled that of the first skin found. Only, this creature possesses a greater powerful. After making a bloody mess of Gen, the villain and his group trick Yoshimori and Tokine to fall into a trap that prevents them from using their Kekkaishi powers.

My thoughts:

The addition of Gen to the Kekkaishi team makes the character dynamics only get more interesting. Gotta love the humor, the character interaction, the human struggles, the mystery, the side stories, and the great action. Still top of the manga list for me.

Things to consider:

Continued to be rated thirteen plus and targeted mainly towards boys. This story remains free of any excessive and inappropriate sexual references, has only the slightest profanity (if you can even call it that), and the action violence is just the right amount for this kind of story.

Opportunities for discussion:

Compassion seems to be a main theme in this volume. With Yoshimori, who extended it to the ghost cat, and Tokine who didn’t grant the request of the ayakashi. There are times in life when we need to show compassion and other times when that compassion can cause more harm than good. Ask your teen if they can understand the difference and then ask them for an example in their lives. Then ask them if they think Tokine’s decision was the right one.

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)

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 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)

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)