Posts Tagged ‘Volume 2’

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)

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)

Kekkaishi v2Last week we visited Volume 1 of Kekkaishi. We learned about a High School student, Tokine, and a Junior High student, Yoshimori, and how their families are feuding. The two of them are responsible for keeping ayakashi (demon-like creatures) away from their school.

Should one of these ayakashi stay in the area too long, then the buried power of the Karasumori site will envelope them and turn them into stronger and fiercer creatures. Both Tokine and Yoshimori were born with a square shaped mark called the Hoin, which proves that they were chosen to be the legitimate successors for their clan.

Yoshimori sees this responsibility as a burden, but Tokine seems content with the task. And with this, we open the next book in the manga series.

Story overview:

The story begins with Tokine’s father, who seemed like a pleasant yet uncertain man. These were her memories before his death. One that was vividly engraved into her young eyes as he coughed out his last words, “Don’t ever let your guard down, okay?”

As Tokine lives with her Mom and Grandmother, Yoshimori lives with his Father, Grandfather and younger brother. We learn that Yoshimori’s Mom is alive, but very seldom seen. A powerful Jutsusha, she supposedly turned down an offer from a group called “The Shadow Organization.” It is this very organization who sends a young girl named Yomi to stay with the Yukimuras (Tokine’s family.)

All isn’t what it seems, and we learn that Yomi was being deceptive so that she could sneak her pet demon Yoki into the Karasumori site. Since both her and the demon were outcasts, weaklings, and looked down upon, they teamed up to form an impenetrable bond. However, when the demon becomes filled with the power of the Karasumori site, he soon casts his companion aside and lets the power overwhelm him. Yoshimori finds himself fighting against the demon, yet he holds back knowing that the creature is still important to the young girl.

My thoughts: 

This manga maintains its page turning appeal, and even though this is my second time reading it, I found myself finishing in one sitting; eager to be reminded of what happened next. The story and the characters are brilliantly designed.

Things to consider: 

For teens and over, and more for boys than girls, but could easily be enjoyed by both. There is action violence and bloody scenes, but is done in good taste. And as always, remember that the demons are not representatives of those mentioned in the Christian culture. There are no sexual or inappropriate scenes either.

Opportunities for discussion:

The theme here is about weakness. Talk about what weakness truly is, and what strength truly is. Tell your kids about power, and how it corrupts. Tell them that weakness of the heart is a worse weakness than that of the body. We see Yoshimori’s strength of heart regardless of the circumstances. He shows that he cares about what is important to other people, even when it causes him great trouble, and even perhaps at the cost of his life. There is a redemptive power in this kind of compassion, a much greater power than that of any physical strength. The story talks about the power to protect those you love, even at great loss to one’s self. It shows how this love is mightier than the efforts to prove you are better or stronger than someone else.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Kekkaishi (Volume 1)

Rave Master V2After reviewing Volume 1 of this series, I was a little surprised what happened in the second volume. At first I wondered if this was the same series . . . well, not literally, but it did seem to take quite a change of pace.
 
We go from a seemingly fantasy world and wind up in a modernized “Hip Hop” town. I think the English translation is part of the problem as it overuses words like “Dawg”, “Ain’t”, “Goin”, and “Snap”. In other words, it tries way too hard to be “Hip Hop,” but only ends up being cliched and silly.
 
Still, that aside, I think it’s worth a look.
 
Story overview:

We left off in the last volume with Haru and Plue (the strange dog-like creature), sailing away from Garage Island on their way to find a legendary blacksmith named Musica, who can hopefully repair Haru’s broken sword.
 
They wind up landing on the shores of a huge city called “Hip Hop Town.” Haru and Plue get separated in the crowded streets, but thankfully, he quickly finds the creature being fed candy from a kind stranger. Only, he finds out this stranger isn’t so kind after all as he kidnaps Plue and sells him to a dog race.
 
The race, and the city, just so happens to be controlled by Demon Card, and in order to leave one must pay them an enormous fee. Haru meets up with a girl at the races named Elie, who ironically bet all her money on Plue to win so that she can earn enough money to leave the city. Haru frees Plue, defeats the gaseous ring master, and with the help of Elie he finds Musica, who ends up being a washed-up old man. But when Elie gets captured, Musica learns Haru has to face the man who killed his own family, and so he decides to repair the sword. In the mean time, another man named Musica goes to help Elie and tries to hold off the Demon Card until Haru can get there.
 
My thoughts:

It may be a bit on the cheesy side, the artistry is not quite topnotch, and the characters a bit strange, but in the end, all that aside, it’s a fun story and I enjoyed reading it. I’ll continue to give this series a look to see if it improves or only gets worse. I just wish it would stop showing absurd scenes with Plue’s pointy nose stabbing people in the head, only to have them completely unharmed. Another thing that bothered me was how fast the sword was re-forged, that was just way too unrealistic.
 
Things to consider:

Teenage boys; this seems to be targeted to them more than anyone, but is easily appropriate for younger ages, since this is fairly clean. There’s one scene where Haru ends up hiding under a table and getting a glance at Elie’s undergarments, but it was done in more of an innocent and awkward manner than one of perversion.
 
Opportunities for discussion:

Use this time to talk to your kids about how people can work together to help each other. This is an important teaching in Christianity: serve others. If everyone servers each other, then we all end up being served, and this story does a good job at showing this biblical truth. Also, you can talk to them about people who give up on life, and how many of them consume extreme amounts of alcohol as a means of escape. Share with your kids that searching for things to dull their emotional pain usually ends up making situations even worse. Tell them that a better alternative is to bring the problem out in the open, seek for help, and open their hearts to receive God’s peace that surpasses all understanding.

Iron Wok Jan v.2After reading and reviewing Iron Wok Jan (Volume 1), I decided to continue the series in an attempt to determine whether or not this one is a keeper.

Story overview:

Jan (the obnoxious trainee with great cooking skills) goes on a camping trip with Takao (the not so obnoxious trainee, but without the great cooking skills). After working his magic on some quail (and an old chicken that Takao fond), Jan shares that his desire for cooking comes from a promise he made to his grandfather.

Back at the restaurant, Jan humiliates the arrogant food critic, Nichido Otani, yet again, which causes the man to seek for a way to destroy Jan’s name. An idea occurs to Nichido, and so he assembles “The First National Young Adult Chinese Cuisine Cooking Contest” (whew, can that get any longer??). His hope is that a greater chef will emerge and put Jan in his place. Meanwhile, Kiriko (the granddaughter of the Gobancho Restaurant owner, and trainee), seeks to discover a way to sculpt a radish on her own, determined not to accept help from anyone.

When the cooking contest starts, Jan surprises the judges by drugging them with a soup made from “Magic Mushrooms”. Kiriko thinks this is morally wrong and shows her distain by punching Jan right in the face. Nonetheless, they both make it to the second round of the contest and only Volume 3 will tell us what happens next.

My thoughts:

I’m not ready to call it a keeper, but I can say that it’s starting to grow on me. The characters are not black and white and there’s potential to see a lot more depth in them. Also, the recipes have not ceased to be ever more intriguing.

Things to consider:

Thirteen and up, just as the last one, and geared more towards boys. There are a few shots of Kiriko, wearing a little less than appropriate outfit at her home, but nothing extremely inappropriate.

Opportunities for discussion:

The theme of motivation continues strong, yet I would add that this may be a good time to talk to your kids about drugs, as Jan uses mushrooms for a recipe, and as mentioned, Kiriko thinks this is wrong to the extreme.