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Tsukihime Manga Review

Before I begin my review, I should point out that Tsukihime is the manga adaptation of a Type-Moon visual novel of the same name. Like Fate/Stay Night, another work by Type-Moon, Tsukihime is a story set in a world of magic. It is fundamentally a mystery and drama series, along the lines of the currently airing ERASED, where the main character has a supernatural power and struggles to find his place in the world. There is also a well developed romance with a satisfying conclusion, making this one of my favorite manga of all time.

Story (9): Tohno Shiki is a boy who gained the mysterious power to see “Lines of Death” after a near-fatal accident in his childhood. When he cuts along these lines, whatever it was falls apart with a clean cut; in other words, killing it. When he stumbles upon a traveling magician, Shiki learns how to suppress his unnatural sight and lives a seemingly ordinary life. However, as events from his past begin to resurface, Shiki will begin to uncover the mystery of the serial murders happening in town, while struggling to understand his own powers and his identity. The story of Tsukihime is both simple and complex: while the plot of the vampires and the murders is relatively straightforward, the characters give the mystery a chance to shine. Almost every character in Tsukihime is given ample characterization and we come to understand and empathize with all of them, which makes the stakes much higher when they are torn apart. In some regard, I feel like Tsukihime is more like Fate/Zero in this way, because the characterization is just great. They all go through their own unique transformation, have struggles and setbacks, and have their own personal histories. And speaking of histories, that is one of the strongest aspects of the story. Every character has a personal history that links to the overarching plot, the vampires and magicians have their own rivalry, and it just feels like a large, fleshed-out world of magic to explore. The only possible issue I can see is that the pace isn’t exactly the most consistent, but I felt like the pacing was done very well regardless.

Art (8): The manga started publishing in 2003, so the first few chapters had less polished art. Even later on, the art wasn’t exactly the best that it could have been, but it was still a good, clean art style and never detracted from the amazing story. Character designs were done well and captured emotions beautifully.

Enjoyment/Overall (9): Tsukihime is definitely one of the most polished packages I have read. It had an interesting premise, likeable characters, good development, and a satisfying conclusion. Reading this manga made me want to learn all about the Tsukihime universe (already read the visual novel), and I still think the story is superior to that of Nasu’s other work, Fate/Stay Night. If you are a fan of the Fate series, or just of mystery/drama/romance in general, I highly recommend checking out Tsukihime. And then watch Carnival Phantasm to get the exact opposite experience, plus all the extra references.

Manga Reviews Reviews

Mx0 Manga Review- The Underdog in a School of Magic

Hey, everyone! I’m going to try my hand at reviewing manga, which is pretty new to me. For the most part, these will be manga that I recommend, so I will try to refrain from any glaring spoilers. Hope this is helpful to people, even if the website is pretty dead!

Anyway, something I notice whenever I log in to MyAnimeList is that I only ever seem to review anime. Which is strange, considering there are a lot of great manga that I’ve read and the fact that I generally rate manga higher than anime. So today, I decided to sit down and write a review for a manga that I really enjoyed and I think should have gotten an anime series: Mx0.


Mx0 is set in a world where those with magical powers are invited to attend Seinagi Private High School, where they are taught how to properly use their powers and contribute to society. A boy named Kuzumi Taiga, thinking Seinagi is just a regular school, takes the entrance exam and not only fails, but gets laughed at by a girl in the same room. In a fit of rage, he forces his way into the school, unaware that he can no longer leave. Can Kuzumi, a teenager with no magical ability, really survive in a school where students use powerful magic against him?

Story: 8/10

To be honest, the story in Mx0 isn’t the most original or the most thought out. I’ve read many other manga that deal with characters who are forced to hide their weaknesses by tricking their foes and I’ve read other magic school series. What sets Mx0 apart is the way magic is explained and incorporated into the world. The concept and mechanism for every magic spell is so interesting and unique, that you can almost imagine them being real. If you ever wanted to feel immersed in a world of magic, Mx0 accomplishes that in a way I haven’t seen since Fullmetal Alchemist.

In short, Mx0 doesn’t have a groundbreaking story, but it more than makes up for this in comedy, action, and world building. However, one thing to note is that Mx0 got axed, meaning the writer had to end the series early. For that reason, it doesn’t have the best ending, but I think it’s still decent. I think this manga is still worth recommending, but if you are really fixated on how a series ends, maybe it isn’t for you.

Art: 9/10

Mx0 isn’t going to be winning any awards for its art quality, but it has a fun style that works well with the comedy and it has fluid transitions that make the action scenes and magic casting look amazing.

Character: 9/10

Not much I can say, except that I loved all the characters. They were all fun to watch and had good character development, mostly through meeting and interacting with Kuzumi. Perhaps the one gripe I have is that, typical for a shounen series, character development is usually contained in a single arc, rather than being spread in small doses throughout the series. That means characters will always seem one-dimensional at first (as opposed to two-dimensional, lol) and they won’t really act that different after their development arc.

Enjoyment/Overall: 9/10

Mxo is a fun series that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys fantasy, magic, comedy, or shounen.  I just wish they would make an anime adaptation, because I know it would blow every other magic school anime out of the water, and they could finally give it a more satisfying ending. If you want to see more manga reviews or have any questions/feedback, feel free to leave a comment. Hope you guys are enjoying CJAS (“Could Just Ask Senpai”)!

Anime Reviews Manga Reviews Reviews

Review: Kuroshitsuji (“Black Butler”)

Welcome and good evening again, ladies and gentlemen!  Our series this time Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler), originally released as a manga in Square Enix’s Monthly G Fantasy in 2006 by Toboso Yana.  It has since proven popular enough to warrant a two-season anime adaptation, a spin-off video game, two well-scored stage musicals, and an impressive doujin community.  For this review, however, I’d prefer to focus on the manga and anime.

Sebastian Displaying his Contract
Clearly, this will not be a objectionable program.

Although the two differ in execution, the basic premise remains the same between them:  In manor house outside of London, the demon Sebastian Michaelis serves as Earl Ciel Phantomhive’s loyal butler.  The two have a contract: In exchange for Ciel’s soul, Sebastian serves as his retainer until the Young Master kills those who slew his parents and sold him on the black market.  The Earl, though only twelve when the series opens, is already a captain of industry and a favored subject of Queen Victoria.  He lives a double life: By day, he works as the head of the Funtom Toy Company; by night, he serves the Queen as her agent in the London underworld, assisted at all times by Sebastian, who performs his duties with impeccable skill.

What’s the overall result? Well, for me that’s a bit of a tricky question.  As of this writing, Black Butler is my “fanboy” series; it’s the kind of thing I like for far fewer reasons than I should because the series happens to hit enough of my favorite story and character elements (Ciel, for example) it its execution.  So, bear in mind that my view on things is likely more forgiving of Black Butler than I would normally be.  That said…

Manga Reviews

Kyoukai no Rinne: “So you say Shinigami are the ‘in’ thing now?” says Rumiko Takahashi

The cover of the first chapter
The cover of the first chapter

As some of you may know, I am a rabid Inu-Yasha fangirl, which led me by extension to become a general fan of its author, Rumiko Takahashi. As such, when I found out Takahashi was starting a new series, there was no question about whether I would read it. The subject this time: wacky hijinks involving shinigami and a high-school girl with the power to see spirits.

The main character (a girl by the name of Mamiya Sakura) has been able to see spirits ever since an incident that occurred when she was a little girl. This becomes of interest when she meets Rokudo Rinne, a red-headed transfer student who, oh yeah, she first sees while no one else can. This is because Rinne is a shinigami (“death deity”), in possession of a haori that allows him to take spirit form and allows spirits to take solid form. Rinne is also totally, destitutely, broke-ass poor due to various circumstances involving a wacky and flippant grandmother and something about a mackerel. Sakura, due to her ability to see spirits and apparent inability to keep her nose to herself, ends up helping Rinne in his shinigami duties. These apparently include squatting in abandoned buildings, fleecing students for bread money and chasing off giant undead Chihuahuas.

Manga Reviews Reviews

Manga Review: The One I Love

The One I Love

Author: CLAMP, 1995

Volume: 1, 12 Stories

The One I Love is one of CLAMP’s most obscure works published in English. And there are a multitude of reasons for that: it’s no sprawling epic like X or Tsubasa; it connects to no other CLAMP worlds; it has never been made into an anime; it is only 1 volume. However, its still well worth a look, and the small size just makes it a quicker read.watashi_cover

The One I Love is a series of short stories in which a female main character has some sort of reflection on or encounter with love, or the person she is in love with. The stories’ topics range from getting married, to a long-distance relationship, to looking cute for your boyfriend. These beautiful vignettes are short and sweet, and it is surprisingly relaxing to read one or two in the midst of a hectic day. If you’re looking for action or tragedy, go elsewhere. Otherwise, most will probably enjoy these stories.

Shonen-ai Note: None.

Continuity Note: Doesn’t connect to anything.

Anime Adaptation: None.

Manga Reviews

Manga Review: X|1999

Author: CLAMP, 1992 – 2003
Volumes: 18 (of a potential 21 if ever finished)

The year is 1999, and the millenium is coming to an end.

So is the world.

The seven Dragons of Heaven are the champions of humankind; while the seven Dragons of Earth fight for the planet, for the destruction of mankind to allow the Earth to live. Kamui is the key; he must choose between these two groups. But whatever he chooses, his own world will be torn apart…

X|1999 (X in Japan) is perhaps CLAMP’s most unrelentingly dark series (though Tsubasa‘s giving it a run for its money). Most everything in this manga is top-notch – the fight scenes, the plotline and magic, and especially the characters. This entire series is fascinating, but it is not for the squeemish. There is more than a little gore and violence. Still, the art is beautiful; heavy and relentlessly detailed.

The manga isn’t finished, and isn’t likely to be, but it’s beautiful even in its incompletion, rather like cherry blossoms in bloom, but soon to fall.

Shonen-ai Note: Some shonen-ai is present (two pairings in particular) but even these tend towards unhealthy obsession (in the spirit of the manga) rather than actual romance.

Continuity Note: Sequel to Tokyo Babylon and CLAMP School Detectives. Careful, though, because CLAMP School Detectives is as light as X|1999 is dark. (Emotional whiplash, very much.)

Anime Adaptation: Though I’ve never seen them myself, I believe that there are two different anime adaptations: OVAs and a series. I’ve heard mixed reviews, most probably stemming from the fact that the animes had to write thier own endings for the series. Also, I’ve heard that the anime and the OVA have completely different endings. On the other hand, the art seems to have transferred well from the clips I’ve seen, and the action scenes are a bit more dramatic with motion.

Manga Reviews

Manga Review: Legal Drug

Legal Drug
Author: CLAMP, 2000 – on hiatus
Volumes: 3 (of 15)

If xxxHOLiC is a full-course Japanese meal and Cardcaptors is cake and ice cream, then Legal Drug is a tantalizing appetizer… for the right kind of reader.

Currently unfinished at three volumes, Legal Drug is predominantly episodic, with hints as to the back story of the two main characters. The story follows the Green Drugstore’s two employees, who bear a striking resemblance to the boys of xxxHOLiC. Kazahaya is essentially Watanuki with blond hair, and Rikuo is Domeki with moderately more expression. They tend to fight like cats and dogs (or rather, Kazahaya fights, while Domeki—er, Rikuo—winds him up). But there’s more to the story than meets the eye, and each of the boys has a special ability, which they use when their pre-cognative boss sends them out on “special errands.”

Despite the characters’ resemblance to those of xxxHOLiC, the story is well worth reading for its own merit. In particular, the reasons for the constant conflict between the two characters is different, and what slight information we have about the two’s back story is extremely interesting. Though it’s currently on hiatus until CLAMP finishes xxxHOLiC/Tsubasa, it may not be too long until more volumes become available.

Shonen-ai Note: Much more prevalent than in a lot of CLAMP’s other stuff. Kazahaya and Rikuo have more than a few “moments,” and the drugstore owner and his friend act like a married couple. Make sure you can handle shonen-ai before you read this manga.

Continuity Note: Legal Drug is in the same world as Suki (some of the characters are the same) and xxxHOLiC. At one point, Watanuki from xxxHOLiC enters the store to get a hangover cure. There’s another link, but it’s more fun to find out for yourself.

Anime Adaptation: None.

Manga Reviews

Manga Review: Cardcaptor Sakura

Cardcaptor Sakura
Author: CLAMP, 1996 – 2000
Volumes: 12 (published in English by Tokyopop as Cardcaptor Sakura 1–6, and Cardcaptor Sakura: Master of the Clow 1–6)

The Clow cards have escaped from their binding, and Sakura must recover them with the advice of the card’s stuffed animal guardian Kero-chan and the technology and fashion of her best friend Tomoyo!

Yes, its magical girl, but it’s CLAMP magical girl, which makes all the difference. The artwork is gorgeous – cute, gentle and upbeat – and the plot line still seems new and interesting despite the proliferation of the magical girl genre. Refreshingly, Sakura doesn’t need to use her magic to boost her self-esteem. Her male counterpart knows about her powers, short-circuiting a lot of the irritating poor-communication/mistaken-identity plot lines.

Although an in-depth analysis of the relationships involved in this manga might disturb the reader, Cardcaptor Sakura is so cute, it doesn’t matter. It manages to be sweet without cloying. It has danger and emotional change without slipping into angst. The magic is well thought out, more or less consistent, and mostly makes sense. Well worth reading by both genders. (Real men read CLAMP!)

Shonen-ai/Shojo-ai Note: Except for one paring, all shonen-ai/shojo-ai inclinations are mild and one-sided. And while some are “You don’t want to think about this too much,” they’re easy to ignore. One pairing is reciprocated. Maybe. Possibly. Only CLAMP could have one guy say to another, “You are my most important person,” and still have that be a debated pairing. All but the most stubborn dissenters acknowledge that the two are a couple. (Though this raises the question, if they dislike slash so much, why are they reading CLAMP?) If there is a rating less than G, then Cardcaptors gets it. Also, yes, I was being annoyingly vague on purpose.

Continuity Note: Things from Cardcaptor Sakura appear in xxxHOLiC. Whether this means they’re in the same world is up for debate.

Anime Adaptation: I’ve seen only a few episodes of the anime. The art transferred surprisingly well, though simplified, and the tone of the series is consistent with the manga. Of course, there are more cards to capture in the anime, as well as additional characters. However, I’m not sure how well the larger plot lines survived. If you’ve got the time, watch it. Nice and heartwarming.

Manga Reviews

Manga Review: Tokyo Babylon

Tokyo Babylon
Author: CLAMP, 1990-1993
Volumes: 7

Tokyo Babylon is one of CLAMP’s most classic works. The prequel to X, it sets up the back story to two of the most fascinating secondary characters.

The manga starts out episodic, with the medium Subaru dealing with various ghosts, spirits, and supernatural phenomena. With him is his cheerful sister Hokuto and their friend Seishiro. For most of the beginning of the series, it stays optimistic, despite the often serious or depressing nature of Subaru’s cases. However, a dark current surfaces as the tales go on. It’s somehow connected to a certain folktale: that beneath every cherry tree is a corpse; its blood turning the tree’s white petals pink…

Tokyo Babylon is a classic, and for a good reason. Well-written and eerie, it makes for a very interesting read. It is also short enough to keep from being either a large time or money sink. The only problems people might have is with the art style or the clothing styles. Eventually, however, both these things become integral to the feel of the manga and the characters, making Subaru’s shift in clothing at the end that much more startling.

Shonen-ai note: The main pairing, with varying degrees of seriousness, is Subaru/Seishiro. However, nothing romantic happens past a kiss—if that. Definite G-rating in terms of slash.

Continuity note:
Tokyo Babylon exists in the same world as X, Clamp School Detectives, Clamp School Defenders, and Man of a Thousand Faces. Also, at one point in xxxHOLiC, Yuko mentions Subaru in passing, which would put Tokyo Babylon in the same world as Legal Drug; Suki; xxxHOLiC; and by extension, Tsubasa. However, Yuko is also known as the Dimension Witch, and it may not be the same world at all. The characters of Tokyo Babylon also show up in Tsubasa, radically changed.

Anime adaptation: Bad, very bad. Only the most hard-core CLAMP/Tokyo Babylon fans would get any enjoyment from the OVAs. Don’t watch it. Please don’t watch it.