Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Manga

REVIEW: Monster Tamer Girls Vol. 1 by Mujirushi Shimazaki

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*No Major Spoilers* 

When giant monsters roam the earth, “wildlife care” takes on a whole new meaning. That’s where the Tamers come in–girls trained to soothe the savage beasts. But while co-existence is a way of life, it’s still a little overwhelming for meek Ion Hidaka. Can she handle being one of the newest members of the Tatara Girls’ Academy Tamers Committee?

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I have been reading mangas for the past several years. Most of the ones I’ve read are good, but just like anything else, there are a few outliers. However, Monster Tamer Girls isn’t an outlier in the slightest. So let’s dive into this unique monster story. 

First off, I loved our main characters, Ion Hidaka and Sora Misumaru. Ion has a talent for befriending the monsters she meets, and yet she’s still terrified of them. Her best friend, Sora, isn’t interested in becoming a monster tamer, but she’s there to support her friend every step of the way.

I even loved the background characters. I wanted to learn more about the former members of the Monster Tamer Committee, but hopefully, the author will explore this in future volumes. All in all, there wasn’t a character I didn’t like for one reason or another. 

The monsters are adorable. I know they are supposed to be large and scary like Godzilla and Mothra, but I couldn’t help but fall in love with the monsters in this story. The monsters appear in a more cartoony style. For example, the monster that lives by the school his horns don’t look sharp, his eyes look mean, but throughout the story, he’s just a lethargic monster.

Overall, I enjoyed Monster Tamer Girls. The characters are dynamic, and the monsters are cute and loveable. I would highly recommend this manga for lovers of Kaiju, and the Slice of Life genre. 

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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 initially 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. 

I found the two mysteries featured in this manga to be intriguing, the first mystery surrounds the 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 provide her with 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, 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, 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.