Posts Tagged ‘Squad Zero’

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)

DragonEye V2Over forty years after the attack of the D Virus–which wiped out a huge amount of the population by turning them into monster-like Dracule–humanity survives by living in protected cities guarded by members of an organization called VIUS (translated: Epidemic-preventing City System.)

The leader of the VIUS Squad Zero, Issa Kazuma, gathers together new members for his team after losing his old ones from a mysterious disbandment. His first new recruit is the intelligent Leila Mikami, who one day hopes to poses Issa’s secret Dragon Eye.

The second recruit is Sōsei Yukimura, who temporarily left his squad to investigate Issa’s involvement in the death of his twin sister. When we left off in the first volume, the team was facing a high-level Dracule who had entered the Mikuni city limits.

Story overview:

After covering Issa in a pile of rubble, the Dracule searches for another VIUS to challenge. It comes across Leila, who swore to protect the guy who somewhat-unknowingly brought the Dracule into the city. Sōsei comes in after having carried a couple of children to safety. Issa returns shortly after and remembers a deal he made with this Dracule a long time ago. The creature agrees to leave the city and fight with Issa in private.

Upon request, Issa shows the Dracule his Dragon Eye. Seconds later the Dracule dies in what seems to be a satisfying way. Issa says they will meet again someday, with both of them human next time (A hint toward’s Issa not being totally human?) As always, Issa gets punished for the way he handled the Dracule situation. He gets dropped and spun off a tower several times on a long rope. His stomach becomes an uneasy mess, but he doesn’t have time to recover as Squad Zero is called to another mission, accompanied by a new volunteer team.

One of the team members is an old friend of Issa (whom he happened to forget) named Kajiyama, who’s task is to record Issa’s actions. Should Issa make more bad decisions, a demotion may be in order. After what seemed to be a simple mission, the team gets split up: Issa and Sōsei in one group, and Leila and the rest in the other. Shortly after, it becomes apparent that a huge number of highly skilled Dracule are gathered together and it’s up to each team to investigate and come back alive.

My thoughts:

I continue to really enjoy observing the characters and how they interact. There’s a lot of good mystery and we learn a little more since the last volume. In addition, there’s some really good humor. This is at the top of my manga list at the moment; I highly recommend it.

Things to consider:

This is rated for thirteen plus, and I would agree with that for the most part. It’s also geared towards boys. There is a poster of a sexy girl that gets mistaken for an instructional document, but the characters treat it with a fair amount of distaste. There’s little to no cursing, but there is a fair amount of action violence. I didn’t see anything inappropriate for this age group.

Opportunities for discussion:

I want to focus on something the bird-like Dracule said to Leila: “This is why you humans are such fun! You contain both fear and hope simultaneously.” This is a good statement, and contains much truth. We face many fears in our walk, and yet as believers we hold onto a hope that surpasses all understanding. Ask your kids what some of their fears are, and if they have any hope that they will be overcome. If they have none, share with them.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Dragon Eye (Volume 1)

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.