catching up with FMA – ch. 80-85

February 27, 2009 at 4|51|am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Spoiler warning!

Oh my GOD.  So much stuff’s been happening lately that it isn’t even funny.  First there’s Al and Hoho (er, Hohenheim…) meeting up again, which was a bit weird.  Especially because the brothers have totally different ways of responding to their dad.

Then there’s the Greed 2.0 subplot.  Oh my god I was speechless through this entire thing, except for a whole lot of squeeing when I noticed Martel in one of the flashback panels.  I love that girl. 🙂  And his fight with Bradley was pretty awesome.  KUNG FU TIME!  And of course, Selim’s being his usual sneaky self.

On a more shallow note, Ed looks really good with his hair down.  Actually, Ed always looks good.

And there was no shortage of moments for my favorite pairings, either.  Ed and Winry are adorable and obvious no matter what situation you put them in (and it’s even better if it’s awkward and – well, just read the chapter where Winry comes back home.  It’s awesome) and of course, there were a few nice little moments with Roy and Hawkeye as well.  I’ll just say that Riza always pays attention to the man behind the curtain. 😀  Ed/Winry is pretty much canon by now, but you have to look for hints of Roy/Riza every chance you get.  (Did you notice that when Rebecca was groaning about how all men were jerks, she said that she wanted Riza to set her up with a nice man, not that they should both find nice men?  Hmm.)  Damn it, if these two don’t reveal that they’ve been hooking up all along get together by the end of the series, I know one cow-loving manga-ka who is getting a piece of my mind.

There was a pretty great moment with Roy and Olivier, too.  He brought her a bouquet of hyacinths (with an encoded message, of course) and then told her:

Do you know what the word “hyacinth” means?  Feminine grace and beauty.

To which Olivier replied:

…I DON’T NEED YOUR STINKIN’ FLOWERS!

Good times, good times.

This series is… yeah, it’s beyond awesome.  I thought that the plot started sucking around chapter 65 or so, but it’s getting awesomer and awesomer lately.  Maybe I’m biased, considering how emotionally attatched I am to the characters, but this is one of my favorite manga.  Ever.

Also, Selim Bradley is a BADASS.

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Cy-believers volume 1

February 16, 2009 at 2|36|am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Cy-Believers, volume 1
Shioko Mizuki
Go! Comi
Rated 16+

No, this isn’t a cool cyberpunk adventure manga.  Damn.  It’s actually a very weird mix of Miki Aihara-type shojo (now with more assholes!) and random humor, with a bit of “are-they-gay-maybe!” posturing.  In the hands of a more competent writer, this could’ve been cool.  Instead, it’s a bit of standard-shojo-fare that tries a little too hard to be edgy and offbeat.

Rui is a teenaged girl who’s just transferred to this school, Domus Somethingorother; I don’t remember the school’s full name, except that it’s Latin and very, very annoying and really pointless.  She’s there to meet her fiance, some guy who’s name starts with N (I forgot it already; that says something about this manga).  She’d thought he’d be a total sweetheart, based on his emails – but he’s actually a semi-rapist-ish, pigheaded jerk who delights in disbanding all other school clubs.

There’s also two guys who may or may not be gay.  One of them may or may not be a robot.  It’s effing weird.

In short: a very weird, forgettable manga with some nice art moments and an all-over-the-place plot that’s too faux-weird for it’s own good.  Try it out yourself and form your own opinion.

Best of 08

December 31, 2008 at 9|29|pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Quite a few “Best of 08’s” are going around right now, including Manga Life’s, David Welsh’s, and Deb Aoki’s.  So I figure I’ll make one of my own – hopefully it’ll be okay, though it’ll probably make theirs look brilliant by comparison.

Best Shounen: Fullmetal Alchemist came out on top, as it does on nearly all my lists.  It’s one of the most fun, best plotted series I’ve read in a while.  AND it’s got totally kick-ass female characters, too!
(Runner-ups: Bleach, Gin Tama, and Tsubasa)

Best Shojo: I’d like to say Fruits Basket, as a devotee of Natsuki Takaya-san, but it’s kind of dragging lately.  So the big prize goes to Nana, for being a modern EPIC of sex (LOTS of sex), drugs (not really), and rock’n’roll.
(Runner-ups: Fruits Basket, Sand Chronicles, and Honey and Clover)

Best Seinen: A manga about otaku beloved by otaku?  It’s got to win.  For this particular demographic, my favorite I’ve read this year has got to be Kio Shimoku’s Genshiken.  Every time I read a chapter, I about die laughing.
(Runner-ups: xxxHolic, Chobits, Higurashi: When They Cry)

Best Hero: Hands down, this goes to Watanuki Kimihiro of xxxHolic.  He’s adorable when he’s overexcited and flaily, and even more adorable with an eyepatch (or top hat.)   What more could you ask for?  No, seriously, what more?

Best Heroine: Haruhi Suzumiya, of her eponymous anime and manga, is FUNNY AS HELL.  She may also be a total tsundere, a total bitch, and totally obsessive.  But sometimes it’s just laughter that counts.

Best Mascot Character: Sumomo/Plum from Chobits.  She’s a computer!  And a pet!  And an excersize machine!

Worst Manga: It’s a tie between Vampire Knight and Negima!.  The former is a cliched, sparkly Twilight piece of bullshit, and the latter was just pedo nonsense (although I do like Nodoka or whatever her name was.)

Punch volume 1

December 27, 2008 at 5|40|pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Title: PUNCH volume 1
Author: Rie Takada
Rating: Older Teen

Elle’s the granddaughter of a Muay Thai boxing champ set to inherit his dojo and marry his best friend’s son.  The problem?  Elle wants nothing to do with fighting.  While the other girls growing up were playing house, she was watching the boys beat eachother up, and she hates it.  All she wants is a normal relationship with a guy who ISN’T her betrothed, Ruo, a long-haired fighting champ trained by all the best coaches.

When Elle meets Kazuki by chance, he catches her eye with his gorgeous face – and then with his rough attitude.  It turns out this guy she thought she might like is a street fighter who’ll mess up anyone in his way.  It only complicates matters when she blurts out his name to Ruo, and it gets worse from there.  What’s a girl to do?

I love Rie Takada’s art style and her chibis are to die for, totally expressive and cute in an offbeat way (I especially liked chibi!Grandpa with his eyepatch.)  The writing’s sharp and definitely shojo-y.  And the heroine isn’t particularly doormat-like either.  I was cracked up by Takada’s Gaba Kawa in Shojo Beat, and Punch doesn’t disappoint.  It’s an above-average shojo manga in a line that’s been rather disappointing lately.  Nice liscensing, SB.

Art – 8/10
Story – 7/10
Extras – None
Overall – A fluffy, fun shojo manga… although what was with the bath scene?

My 5 Favorite Sad Moments in Manga

December 21, 2008 at 7|36|pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Here are five scenes from manga that’ve caused me to get teary-eyed – and this is by no means the full list.  I’m overemotional by nature, but at least these are some that literally made me cry.  (There are many, many more FMA moments that belong on this list, but I’m too lazy to make another.)

5. Fullmetal Alchemist volume 2.  When we first met the adorable pigtailed Nina in volume 2 of Fullmetal Alchemist, it was hard not to fall in love with her and her dog, Alexander.  But she doesn’t stay adorable – or human – for long… and it’s all because of her father, the “sewing-life alchemist” Shou Tucker.  Asshole.

4. Sand Chronicles volume 3.  Ann and Daigo were the most realistic, believable couple in any Shojo Beat series, ever, but did things have to end this realistically?  Ann’s still shaken from the loss of her mother, and when Daigo tries to comfort her, she lashes out at him, saying that the last time he told her things would be okay, it was right before her mother’s death.  Grab the tissues.

3. Fruits Basket volume 16.  Before this volume, very little was known about Tohru Honda’s father, Katsuya.  A flashback to when Katsuya and Kyoko first met gives us all we need to know – but that’s all I can tell you.  The spoilers are too great, and the chapter really works its magic best if you go in not knowing what will happen.

2. Bleach volume 20.  We all thought Sosuke Aizen was SUCH A GOOD GUY.  With his loving demeanor towards his subordinates and his kindly face, he could do no wrong.  And then he died, or so it seemed… until he revealed that HE WAS ALIVE ALL ALONG.  But the real shocker came when he stabbed his loyal lieutenant, Momo Hinamori, in the back (well, okay, the chest.  But you get the idea.)  It just wasn’t fair.

1. Fullmetal Alchemist volume 4.  Now here’s the awful one.  EVERYBODY loved Maes Hughes, the devoted father and high-ranking member of the military.  So when he was killed – in an incredibly brutal, almost hard to read about way (one word: shapeshifter!) – it was like a punch straight to the gut.  And this is why I love the series, really – some scenes just hurt to read, but you can’t put the damn book down.

Madame Otaku In The News!

October 30, 2008 at 4|47|pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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“On an overcast Saturday afternoon at the spacious new Phantom of the Attic in Oakland, two young girls chatted happily as they approached the counter. Zoe Taeger, 13, of Morningside and Katie Davidson, 14, of Troy Hill found what they were looking for. Davidson was about to become the proud owner of the latest installment of Tite Kubo’s “Bleach,” an ongoing Japanese graphic novel about a teenager who sees ghosts.”

Actually, it wasn’t the latest installment, it was only volume twenty.  Still, you can read the rest of the article at http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08303/923535-42.stm.

I feel loved ^^

 

In other news, here’s my anime-watching progress:

 + got bored after watching 2.5 eps of .hack//SIGN

 + finished watching ROD the TV, which didn’t measure up to the OVA’s brilliance but was still entertaining

 + reached episode 10 of Trigun, and only loves Vash more.

That’s all for now!  Thanks for reading my blog, y’all.

-Kate (Madame Otaku)

The Manga (and Anime) Commandments

October 21, 2008 at 3|51|pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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Inspired by many, many lists of “shojo/shonen cliches” made by my fellow otaku, I have decided to post my Ten Manga (and Anime) Commandments.  What are these, you ask?  Just ten rules that I think all manga should follow.

1) Thou shalt not have a doormat as thou’s shojo heroine, unless thou intends to change her.  Hot Gimmick, anyone?  (Haven’t read this, but I’ve heard enough about Hatsumi or whatever her name is… *shiver shiver*)  Seriously, we don’t want to read about a totally passive, totally limp girl who just takes whatever s*** is doled out to her.  Even Makino from Boys Over Flowers eventually fell prey to this stupid stereotype (the damn girl almost got killed, like, five times!  Show some backbone like you did in Volume Two!)  Why can’t we have more heroines like, say, Ouran High School Host Club‘s Haruhi?

2) Thou shalt not be overly dramatic in thy lines.  “Bohaha!  I shall defeat you now!  Feel the rumbling of my power!”  Enough of that.  Seriously.  Tone it down a little, okay?  (Kishimoto-san, this means you.)

3) Thou shalt not use overly long spells, also.  I almost threw my copy of Tsubasa Resevoir Chronicle across the room when everybody started using, like, fifty-word-long spells with dragons in ’em.  This is totally ridiculous, people.  It was bad enough with Rukia’s weird kido at the beginning of Bleach…

4) Thou shalt put in hilarious omake and 4koma.  Arina Tanemura does this brilliantly- her manga is always stuffed with great sidebars, explanations about chapter illustrations, and four-panel comics that nearly always make me bust a gut laughing.  “Yami-nabe!”

5) Thou shalt not go on and on and on and on and on with a series that could have ended earlier and that wasn’t even that great.  Did we really need thirty-plus volumes of Naruto?  NO.  NO WE DIDN’T.  If the library in my town wasn’t so busy ordering volumes of the ever-popular ninja series, we could get some Honey and Clover or something.  Even better, we could subscribe to Yen Press.

6) Thou shalt not write AzuDai yuri (or at least keep it PG.)  This isn’t so much a manga commandment as a fandom/doujin/fanfic commandment.  But I am totally dead serious about this: if anybody dares to smut-ify one of the sweetest series around, ‘specially if Chiyo is involved (she’s eleven!  Jesus, people!)  In other words, don’t do it.  Or the Sleep Is For The Weak people will hunt you down with a big-ass hammer

7) THOU SHALT STOP CASTING JOHNNY YONG BOSCH  Yes, he’s pretty amazing as Ichigo in Bleach, and he’s great as Vash in Trigun.  But from what I hear, he pretty much failed as Lelouch in Code Geass.  I understand that there isn’t exactly a huge amount of voice talent but geez.  Also… Vic Mignona as OHSHC‘s Tamaki?  LOLWUT?  Edward Elric (awesome exploding metallic alchemist angst boy) =/= Tamaki Suoh (spoiled, over-the-top, still extremely awesome rich boy who thinks Haruhi is his daughter).  NEW CHOICE PLEASE.

8] Thou shalt not give every character a FREAKING FOOD OBSESSION!  L and his cake, Mello and his chocolate, Vash and his doughnuts, CC and her pizza, Tohru and riceballs wait, that’s not right 

9) Thou shalt not ever, ever, ever remake FLCL or Hartley and I will run you over with a yellow Vespa.  (Not that I ever heard of such a thing but, hey, you never know.)

10) Thou not make your main characters whiney, depressed emo idiots.  Shinji Ikari, I’m looking at you.  Get some anti-depressants, please?

Bleach: Not Just For Washing Your Clothes, Anymore

July 31, 2008 at 2|28|pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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bleach_urahara0187.jpg image by kissablexlies
Translation: “Read Bleach or I’ll poke you with a big stick!  Seriously!”

Jacket Copy:

Ichigo Kurosaki has always been able to see ghosts, but this ability doesn’t change his life nearly as much as his close encounter with Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper and member of the mysterious Soul Society. While fighting a Hollow, an evil spirit that preys on humans who display psychic energy, Rukia attempts to lend Ichigo some of her powers so that he can save his family. Much to her surprise, Ichigo absorbs every last drop of her energy. Now a full-fledged Soul Reaper himself, Ichigo quickly learns that the world he inhabits is one full of dangerous spirits and, along with Rukia—who is slowly regaining her powers—it’s Ichigo’s job to protect the innocent from Hollows and help the spirits themselves find peace.

While Tite Kubo’s smash-hit manga Bleach is published by VIZ’s Shonen Jump line, which to me is full of manga that follow the same formulaic plot (Unlikely boy hero wants to be best [ninja/samurai/tennis player] in the land,) even if it does run into a whole lotta cliches, somehow it all seems new when you pick up the first volume.

Here’s what I love so much about the ten volumes of Bleach I’ve read so far:

1) Character design.  The looks of all the characters are completely different.  You know in some manga how you can’t freakin’ tell half the guys apart?  Thankfully, that doesn’t happen in Bleach.  Every character has something you’ve just never seen before.  Uryu’s awesome asymmetrical hair, Renji’s weird eyebrows, and a guy who’s followed around by a giant pig… and let’s not even get into the fact that the “Rukia Rescue Squad”‘s leader is a freakin’ cat.

2) Really cool stuff.  Explosions!  Big scary monsters!  Toys running around in cosplay!  Oh my!

3) Most of all… there are some truly emotional moments in Bleach that I wasn’t expecting.  The flashback to Ichigo’s mother’s death, for one, was drawn really well and fit in so well with the story.  Another scene I really loved was when Orihime thought about how Tatsuki had protected her throughout the years and knew she had to save her this time.  And it’s interesting seeing inside the workings of Rukia’s mind when she starts wondering if maybe she’s developing “human” feelings, like friendship, jealousy, fear…

All in all, Bleach is a really great manga.  It’s funny, action-packed, emotional, explosive-y, sword-y, and just generally awesome.  If you haven’t picked it up by now, go down to the local library and ask for a copy of volume one today.

Warning: May cause uncontrollable urges to scream “Sooooul caaaaandy!” at Pez dispensers.

Azumanga Daioh

July 30, 2008 at 7|50|pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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It’s amazing when you look closely at Azumanga Daioh, just how different it is from other school comedies.

For instance, there is no adorable blushy love triangle.

There are no incidents of girls having to be carried to the nurse’s office.

And there are no paranormal twists such as seeing the past (Land of the Blindfolded), leading past lives (Please Save My Earth), or having a robotic lover (*shudder* Absolute Boyfriend).

Instead, you’ve got a main cast of six girls and two teachers, very talented pigtails, a stuffed cat dressed as Santa, very bad hiccups, and…

Well.  I could go on forever with this mysterious, catchy-sounding review blah blah blah, but I know most of you want me to get straight to the story.

Basically, Azumanga Daioh is about eight main characters.  There’s the fanatical English teacher Miss Yukari, who throws chalk at students more often than she teaches them.  Her complete opposite is her best friend Nyamo, the gym teacher, who’s more easy-going and definitely a lot smarter.  Their students include: Tomo, the most annoying girl you’ll ever meet (but really, you’ve got to love her); Yomi, a studious brunette with glasses and a fixation on her weight; diminuitive little Chiyo-chan, ten years old and already starting high school; Kagura, whose athleticism is nearly unsurpassed; Sakaki, who looks tough and hard but really only wants a cuddly plushie; and Osaka, who dreams about flying and giant cat plushies when she should be paying attention in class.

Sound confusing?  It is, a little.  But it’s goddamn funny.  Almost every page made me laugh out loud, and the ones that didn’t made me smile.  There are even some moments that made me go, “Aww,” and wish for a friendship like the ones the girls share, like the scene at the graduation ceremony or their winter outing to karaoke and dinner (cut short by a very rude appearance by… well… I won’t tell you yet.)

You know how some reviewers say that a manga isn’t for everyone?  I’m not going to tell you that.  I’m going to say that Azumanga Daioh is a must-read for any manga fan out there.  Because no matter what genre you like, how old you are, or how much you hate hate hate teenaged girls in school uniforms, this manga will definitely bring a smile to your face.

And if it doesn’t?  Well, fuhgeddaboudit.

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