Okay, I've got a big stack piling up and if I don't talk about it soon the crushing guilt won't allow me to read more manga. Which is my thing, dontchaknow. You probably already did.
Today I share very brief reactions to the following:
Andromeda Stories vol 1 by Ryu Mitsuse and Keiko Takemiya
Batman: Death Mask by Yoshinori Natsume
Blank Slate vol 2 by Aya Kanno
Shinobi Life vol 1 Shoko Conami
Andromeda Stories vol 1 by Ryu Mitsuse and Keiko Takemiya -- another shonen sci-fi epic from Takemiya, who draws this title. Unfortunately, it shows. The worldbuilding is fairly shallow and none of the characters made much of an impression on me. Basic plot: a medieval-ish world is about to be taken over by....machines. From outer space. Yeah. I'm skipping volume 2 and 3 of this title based on the weakness of volume 1.
Check out Takemiya's classic sci-fi epic To Terra instead.
Batman: Death Mask by Yoshinori Natsume. Yup, the supposedly "manga-fied" version of Batman, except to me it looked and read like a regular mediocre Batman comic created by an American. Natsume ties the story to Japan by flash-backing to Bruce Wayne's training as a young man at a dojo there, but really there was nothing remarkable about this book, so much so I've already forgotten the plot. Masks and really lame metaphors were involved. The art was serviceable and like a lot of manga artists, Natsume can't draw older people very well. Sadly, his adult Bruce Wayne is apparently an "older person" in his take on the character. Complaints about the art aside, the real crime this book commits is being boring.
I'd rather watch Batman Begins again if I'm after cool a training sequence and a plot that makes the heart race.
Blank Slate vol 2 by Aya Kanno -- Don't read this for the plot but for the amazing and moody art by Kanno. This is noir-ish story about an amnesiac assassin, but really, it is all about very pretty men doing violent things. Sometimes to each other. Did I mention the pretty?
Kanno's Otomen -- about a boy who struggles with his desire to do "girly" things -- is a much, much better book and it will be out in February.
Shinobi Life vol 1 Shoko Conami. I adored this wacky shojo story about a ninja, Kagetora, from the past who suddenly finds himself stranded in the modern era. He mistakenly thinks Beni, a lonely and rebellious teenager, is the princess he was sworn to protect. Beni is surprisingly well-rounded as a character -- she may come from a cold home, but she has a good heart and can't find it in herself to send Kagetora away even though she guiltily allows him to risks his own life for her in the name of his princess who lived hundreds of years ago. There is conflict, of course, about the fact Beni is a modern and fairly coarse girl, but over time Kagetora learns to see past his own (very loaded) belief system about honor and duty and see Beni for herself, not for the "Princess" he assumes she must be. I loved the relationship between these two characters and even though "time travel" seems like a ridiculous plot device, Conami worked it so well by emphaszing character development that it is easy to forgive such a silly catalyst for the story.
Very enjoyable romance title I would recommend to us shojo lovers. I hope to pick up the second volume in the spring (let us keep our fingers crossed Tokyopop is able to release it!)