Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Manga

REVIEW: Zodiac P.I. Vol. 1 (Zodiac P.I. #1) by Natsumi Andō

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*No Major Spoilers*

Lili is just like any other girl — except she can foretell the future! This ‘Zodiac PI’ relies on horoscopes and astrology to help her solve crimes and track down criminals. When there’s trouble brewing, she transforms herself into the magic Detective Spica and looks to the stars to guide her way. Before long, she is joined by her childhood friend, Hiromi, who dreams of becoming a detective as skilled as Detective Spica. Soon, no astral investigation is too arduous for this dynamic duo!

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I originally found this manga at a convention I attended a couple of years ago. It caught my eye because the subject matter was something I think everyone becomes interested in at some point in their lives. Combining this with the mystery genre was something I thought would be interesting. Now let’s see if the stars align for Zodiac P.I. 

This manga was a fun read. I found the two mysteries featured in this volume to be intriguing. The first one surrounds the mysterious death of one of Lili’s classmates. The other is Lili going undercover to investigate this piano school rumored to be haunted. However, ghosts are the least of Lili’s worries once one of the teachers turns up dead in his own classroom.

Lili uses the magical power of a Zodiac ring her mother gave her before she disappeared. This ring brings forth the entities of the Zodiac to give her the victim’s horoscope for the day that they died, and the ominous messages help Lili solve the case as Detective Spica.

After the piano school case, Hiromi discovers Lili is actually Detective Spica. We then learn that Lili’s mom was the original Detective Spica before her disappearance. Now that her secret identity has been revealed, Hiromi promises to not reveal Lili’s secret and help her out with future cases.

As much as I want to nitpick this manga to death, I know it’s meant for a younger audience. I still had fun reading this story. The use of the Zodiac and the victim’s horoscope add a new element to old fashioned sleuthing. I would recommend this manga series for lovers of mysteries, Zodiac, and female heroines. This is a series I hope to be revisiting in the future.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Manga

REVIEW: BEASTARS: Vol. 1 by Paru Itagaki

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*No Major Spoilers*

At this high school, instead of jocks and nerds, the students are divided into predators and prey.

At a high school where the students are literally divided into predators and prey, it’s personal relationships that maintain the fragile peace. Who among them is a Beastar—an academic and social role model destined to become a leader in a society naturally rife with mistrust?

Last night at Cherryton Academy, an herbivore student was killed and eaten. Among the members of the drama club, the herbivores’ suspicions naturally turn to their carnivore classmates… The prime suspect? Legosi, a large wolf. But he wouldn’t hurt a fly—or would he? And will dwarf rabbit Haru bring out the beast in him? Or are his feelings for her…something else?

BEASTARS has been a series I’ve been wanting to get into, however, since the world has ADHD it’s taken me a bit longer than it should have to give this manga a chance. Now with season one of BEASTARS on Netflix, I feel like now is the time to check this exciting series out.

First off, the art style is interesting. It looks like it was painted in watercolors (but of course it’s in black and white). There’s so much detail in each and every character I found it beautiful even though I’m not a fan of watercolor-like styles. The artist definitely took his time to study each animal the characters are based on.

This story touches similar themes that Zootopia touches on, racism in the fact that the carnivores are segregated from the herbivores. Now in Zootopia, they put this in an easy to understand way for children to follow and understand. BEASTARS discusses this in a more grown-up and blatant way. There’s even segregation amongst the carnivores themselves. I like stories that take on social issues, without it taking over the entire story.

Legosi is a character I can relate to an extent. He’s awkward and introverted. He is mourning the loss of his friend while everyone is secretly suspecting him of the crime because he is a wolf. This affects his emotions throughout the story.

The title Beastar is something that is given to one of the animals, much like a class president except it encompasses a whole generation of students. So there’s this popular student, Louis, and everyone is expecting him to become the Beastar. Watching him struggle to rehearse for the play that the drama club is about to put on after an injury makes you realize just how much is at stake in his world.

Overall, I really enjoyed BEASTARS. The story is well written, the art is beautiful to look at, and I can’t wait to continue this series in the future. I will also be reviewing BEASTARS on Netflix soon, so stay tuned for that!

I would recommend this series who love animals, societal issues, low-key mysteries, a slice of life, and looking for something new to read.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Marvel Comics

REVIEW: Daredevil vs. Punisher Means & Ends by David Lapham

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*No Major Spoilers* 

*This is a collection of Daredevil vs. Punisher 1-6*

Daredevil and the Punisher vie for the soul of Hell’s Kitchen as half the East Coast’s underworld – in chaos since Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime, was deposed – scramble for a shot at the big chair. And as the city descends into chaos – as murder and intimidation become the staples of the day – Daredevil and the Punisher each seek to restore order in their own unique way. For Daredevil this means dispensing justice at the end of a billy club. But for the Punisher, justice at the end of a billy club isn’t justice at all. For the Punisher, justice for these animals is at the end of a shotgun. Featuring more Marvel villains than you can shake a stick at – including Hammerhead and the return of the nefarious… Jackal!

This graphic novel is a must-read if you’re a fan of either Daredevil or the Punisher. They are both on the side of good, they just go about it in different ways. Daredevil believes in the justice system and locking the bad guys up in prison. Punisher has little to no faith left in society and so he only believes in killing the bad guys.

This story is mainly told from the Punisher’s perspective. So if you don’t know anything about the Punisher, the comic will fill you in. This will definitely make you see the flaws in both Daredevil’s and Punisher’s thinking and methods.

One aspect I like about this story is how we find out that the Punisher killed a prominent D.A. and Daredevil said that Punisher crossed the line. When in fact, the D.A. was taking bribes from one of the bad guys. Even though Daredevil finds out the truth later in the story, this shows a major flaw in Daredevil’s beliefs about the justice system.

Overall, if you’re looking for some superheroes fighting each other, even if it’s on a more low-key scale, then this graphic novel is for you. Fans of Daredevil, the Punisher, and Marvel Comics as a whole will enjoy this graphic novel collection.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Manga

REVIEW: The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Vol. 1 by Akira Himekawa

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* No Major Spoilers*

Link, now a Hylian Knight, serves Princess Zelda at Hyrule Castle. When Shadow Link kidnaps Princess Zelda, Link once again must prepare himself to defeat the forces of evil. To do so, he needs the legendary Four Sword, but getting it means releasing and then battling the ancient evil power Vaati. The Four Sword also splits Link into four different versions of himself, and these new Links aren’t team players! Rescuing Zelda, beating Vaati, and getting his wild alter-egos under control isn’t going to be easy!

I enjoy the lore behind The Legend of Zelda series. However, I find most of the games to be boring. I prefer to watch someone else play the games in the background while I sleep. So I have been wanting to review one of The Legend of Zelda mangas for a long time now, so let’s dive into this adventure series!

First off, I watched a collaborative let’s play on YouTube with some of my favorite YouTube personalities. It was fun watching them trying to cooperate with each other. The four of them with their own unique playstyles trying to figure out the game and its puzzles were interesting and brought me a lot of joy.

Now back onto the book. The first thing I noticed and really enjoyed was that they actually gave Link a vocal personality and that he had the title of a Knight in Hyrule and his dad was the one in charge of the Knights of Hyrule. This change of pace from the games was something of a refreshing take on the series outside of Link and his “HYAA! HEY! YAA!”

With all of the aspects of the various personalities of Link unleashed by the Four Sword, Green Link, the original Link, has to keep the 4 of them from getting side-tracked. The other three Links outside of the Green one wore a different color tunic and hat. the red one had more of a laid back personality, the blue one was really angry and feisty, and the purple one was more of the nerdy researcher if I understood that right based on the descriptions. With these personalities, they had to work together to save the Princess, a very arduous task considering that Dark Link kept antagonizing by trying to separate them.

If you want to know more about the story than what I’ve put here, then you’re just going to have to pick up the book and read it. This is a good read and I’d definitely recommend it to any Legend of Zelda fan and or a fan of manga.

Posted in Book Reviews, DC comics, Graphic Novels

REVIEW: Green Arrow: Quiver by Kevin Smith

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Collection of Green Arrow (2001) #1-5

*No Major Spoilers*

The original Green Arrow, Oliver Queen, reemerges after years of being assumed dead. But many people, including Black Canary, his ex-lover, Arsenal, his ex-partner, Connor Hawke, his son and temporary successor and Batman, the Dark Knight Detective, want to know how Green Arrow survived the airplane explosion and where he has been.

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Superman and Batman having an intense discussion during Green Arrow: Quiver.

I love Green Arrow! Not the one that is on TV, the one(s) in the comic books are better. I was excited to find this graphic novel at my library, and I’m excited to share my thoughts with you today!

A lot of casual comic book fans like me, feel intimidated at times when selecting a graphic novel. Overarching stories, major events, and other things that cause comic books to become confusing can make selecting a stand-alone story to be difficult. However, I felt this graphic novel explains things that happened previously, in a nice way so I didn’t feel like I didn’t know what was going on throughout the story.

I felt the story was well written and well put together. Even though the story gets “trippy”  about midway through, I was still able to follow along and came out satisfied.

To elaborate on the “trippy” aspect of the story, it kind of reminded me of the Doctor Strange comics at times, with the likes of supernatural beings and realms it gave an interest to the story I didn’t really expect coming out of Green Arrow. Green Arrow is usually a traditional story without supernatural elements, but this one was a nice change of pace.

One downside I found is, there’s not much action, it’s more of deep thinking and philosophying with splashes of magic and kicking butt.

Overall, this book was a good read, the art style fit the moods really well when necessary, the story kept my interest, I would definitely recommend it for the casual Green Arrow fan as well as the comic book aficionado.

 

Posted in Book Reviews, DC comics, Graphic Novels

REVIEW: Batman: Gordon of Gotham by Chuck Dixon

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*No Spoilers*

Collects BATMAN: GORDON OF GOTHAM #1-4, BATMAN: GCPD #1-4 and BATMAN: GORDON’S LAW #1-4.

Gotham City Police Commissioner Jim Gordon stars in this new collection of crime stories from the 1990s that stars the colorful, determined cops of Batman’s home town.

The first story in this volume, Batman: Gordon’s Law, Commissioner Gordon has stumbled upon a coverup of a huge money laundering bust, the only trace is the few remaining $1,000 dollar bills.

Now, without Batman’s help, by Commissioner Gordon’s request, is a man on a mission to set things right and bust up the corrupt cops involved.

I felt like this novel set the tone for the rest of this collection. It was gritty, rough, and brought Gordon into a light not many others get to see. He might be the commissioner of Gotham City, but he’s still a cop no matter what politics may say.

Seeing him take this case on without much of Batman’s aid, makes you truly see how rough and corrupt not only the Gotham Police Department but Gotham City as a whole. Gordon is just one man, but he’s doing his best to clean up the police corruption.

The second story, Batman: GCPD includes three stories from three of Gotham City’s finest detectives. I have read some of the comics surrounding the GCPD, and I have enjoyed them. It’s interesting to see an inside look into Gotham’s police department.

The story starts when Sargent Harvey Bullock beats up a costumed low-life and his partner goes to request a transfer. Commissioner Gordon grants her the transfer, and so she reassigns Bullock a new partner. All while Harvey is dealing with a rampant serial killer, Internal Affairs breathing down his neck, and his partner getting kidnapped on her new case, Another set of detectives are on the hunt for a string of high-stakes thefts.

I found Sargent Bullock’s case the most interesting, someone in Gotham is going around killing seemingly random men and only leaving them with a teddy bear dressed up as their profession. The mystery was entertaining and intriguing.

Overall, I enjoyed this second story in this collection. I would say the writing was good, and the characters had interesting storylines and characteristics.

The final and main story: Batman: Gordon of Gotham is as fantastic as the other two stories in this epic volume. The story is about Gordon opening up to Batman about a time in his past when he was a beat cop in Chicago. An assassin who got away.

I love how Gordon is telling Batman a story about his past. Both are lonely characters and to see them bonding in this way makes me happy. I just figured the this was just Gordon getting something off of his chest. Boy, was I wrong!

After storytime is over, Batman tells Gordon something he already knew he had to do: go get sweet vengeance.

Overall these three stories, I enjoyed each of them for different reasons. I would highly recommend this collection for lovers of crime dramasCommissioner James Gordon, and of course Batman. Even though Batman doesn’t have that much of a presence in this collection, it’s not Batman’s story, it’s the hard-working detectives at GCPD who make this collection worth reading.

Check Out My Review of Gotham Central!

Check Out Some of the DC Comics I’ve Previously Reviewed!

Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Manga

REVIEW: Onibi: Diary of a Yokai Ghost Hunter by Atelier Sento

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*No Spoilers*

Part fantasy, part travelogue, Diary Of A Yokai Ghost Hunter follows the adventures of two foreign visitors as they tour Japan. When they buy an antique camera along the way, they discover they can capture images of Japan’s invisible spirit world. The forgotten spirits they meet can be kindly, mischievous, and some, downright dangerous.

Everywhere they go from forests to Shinto temples to fishing villages they are met with Yokai, the Japanese word for supernatural monsters, ghosts, and demons. The subject of Yokai is wildly popular right now and is featured prominently in books, websites, and online videos. Google receives thousands of searches on the topic daily.

Readers 10-18 who cherished books like Cool Japan Guide and Diary of a Tokyo Teen will delight in this comic book style adventure. The graphic novel format will appeal to diehard anime and manga fans while stressing the importance this ancient spirit world is to the Japanese culture.

I enjoyed this manga, it has a different art style for sure, but don’t let that detour you away from this graphic novel. The art style looks like it was sketched with colored pencils. It makes the adventure feel realistic.

I enjoyed seeing all of the different areas of rural Japan, and how unique and different each town or village can be. It’s amazing at how a small island can have so many different environments. From mountainous forests to the sulfur flats and fishing areas. This manga covers the gambit.

I never felt like the main characters were in any real danger. The only time I ever felt uneasy is when the locals were being creepy and telling the two main characters about the Yokai that had been spotted in the area.

However, I still enjoyed the manga and all of its whimsical adventure. I would highly recommend this for lovers of legends, folklore, traveling, and mangas.