The Grim Reaper and an Argent Cavalier by Irono

*This Review is Spoiler Free*

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*Sorry, this post is a little late, courtesy of my wondrous procrastination skills. I’ll get to everyone’s comments soon.

The Grim Reaper and an Argent Cavalier (or Shinigami to Gin no Kishi) is another random pick from Crunchyroll’s online collection that caught the attention of my superficial eye. Well that and the fact I just finished re-watching Kabeneri, wanted more thrilling action and (un?)death, saw the words “Grim Reaper” and went for it.  

Synopsis:

In a world where humans live at the mercy of the Grim Reaper and the Larvae, his soul-devouring monsters, one young man sets foot on a thorny path to protect everything he holds dear—even if it means falling into darkness himself…

-Crunchyroll

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Rating: 7/10 Unicorn Horns!

Overall the story isn’t bad, and i did enjoy reading it, but I just couldn’t help but feel it could have been MUCH better. While it definitely has some pretty good elements, it occasionally dips into too common tropes (primarily when it comes to the main character: Cyan). This is something I found pretty disappointing, since it really takes away from a lot of the more thrilling moments. Overall the few twists and group of side characters made this a pretty good read. For only about 6 volumes a good amount happens, but I think it would have benefited from being a little longer.

The characters are likeable with a few that genuinely had me wanting to learn more about them. That being said, I actually found most of the other main cast and side characters much more appealing than the two main pair. In fact it is because of them and a few pretty unique elements that made me give this a 7 instead of a 6 rating. The world building didn’t stand out too much for me (I really don’t remember much about it), but those few characters certainly did. 

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I wanted to review this, but while writing realized I really can’t say much about it without spoiling something 😅 lol, so that’s all I can say about it. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for an entertaining, light, short read to pass the time with. Despite it’s length it’s got a good amount of action, magic, twists, drama, and touch of romance to go with it.

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Sun-Ken Rock by Boichi

*This Review is Spoiler Free*

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Hey guys! Long time no post 😋

Sorry for the long, long absence, but I’m finally back now and am excited to check out everyone’s sites 🤗 I will be taking my time over the next while to reconnect with you guys. 

As for today’s review I decided to finally, after a couple years of subscribing, check out the manga Chrunchroll has available on their site. I picked out three random ones I never heard about before based purely on the covers and started reading. That’s how I came across the unique experience that is Sun-Ken Rock.

Synopsis:

This story, initially taking place in Japan but primarily set in Korea, starts out pretty mild and hilariously quirky. Main character, high school delinquent Ken, falls for a girl named Yumin and confesses his feelings only to be rejected.

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Turns out Yumin decided to move to Korea to work on becoming a distinguished cop, so couldn’t return his feelings. Surprisingly, this doesn’t deter our protagonist Ken. He drops out of school and follows the love of his life to Korea. Which seems romantic…or in my opinion kinda really creepy, but reality hits and Ken finds himself hopelessly unemployed and dirt poor in a foreign country with no one to rely on. Except a mysteriously ambitious man who, after seeing him in action, becomes determined to persuade Ken to become a gang boss. 

Rating: 8/10 Unicorn Horns!

I actually really struggled to figure out a rating for this one. It starts off like a gag manga, pure humour with no serious or thought provoking scenes. But this story’s tone amazingly progresses and changes right along with the main character. From a character that’s kind, incredibly naive, simple, unmotivated, and quirky to one possessing kindness with a much more serious, intelligent, determined and thought provoking actions/beliefs both Ken and the story change in bounds. 

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This is something that blew me away. I don’t think I’ve ever come across another action packed story that’s written quite like this one. With the lighthearted way things start off, even the way it was drawn, I wasn’t expecting much. But then with each story arc things became more serious, complex, and shockingly dark, every bit of which is reflected in the growingly detailed and improving artwork. The flow comes off awkwardly here and there especially during the transitions from darker scenes to comedic relief, though this could just be due to translation. Overall Boichi does a noteworthy job at balancing the many contrasting themes in this story.  

This story filled with action, crime, scheming, comedy, mafia bosses, and a bit of romance has quite a bit going for it. And aside from the uniqueness of the changing tone, there is also quite a bit of cross-national story telling (mainly taking place in Korea, but also involving Japan and another country), immigrants from diverse backgrounds, and even the mentioning of a few historical events from different countries. This really comes through in most of the side characters as well. They all have dynamic and/or complex personalities that stand out and left me with a clear impression of their character.

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I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a unique reading experience, as well as fellow lovers of action/crime. Though I would warn away anyone with sexual abuse triggers, as some of the darker scenes are…well…really dark. Oh and despite there not being even a hint of it in the beginning, a few ecchi scenes come up later on, so naturally if that bothers you skipping this may be best. Otherwise I’ve been really enjoying this so far, and look forward to finishing it!

Thanks for reading 😁

Dorohedoro Vol. 1, by Q. Hayahida

*This Review is Spoiler Free*

*Sorry for the late post and replies.  Just a bit swamped with work, but will reply soon!*

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Find it on Goodreads

Buy it at Chapters/Indigo

Buy it at Barnes & Noble

Buy it at Book Depository

Buy it at Amazon

Three Words: THE FIRST PAGE 

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umm…okay. So I realize that maybe shouldn’t be my first reaction to such a scene, but I’m fine with just blaming my horror-movie-centered-upbringing. Moving on, I actually came across this one from a Google Image search while looking up a completely unrelated series (Berserk). I saw that one picture, and of course went looking for it. Luckily I was able to pick-up the first volume at my local library.  

Synopsis: 

A blood-splattered battle between diabolical sorcerers and the monsters they created.

In a city so dismal it’s known only as “the Hole”, a clan of Sorcerers have been plucking people off the streets to use as guinea pigs for atrocious “experiments” in the black arts. 

Rating: I’m actually not sure. 7/10? 9/10? ….Guess I go with 8/10 unicorn horns!

In short, my trouble rating this comes from that fact that this is that it’s a pretty weird story, with an equally strange cast of characters (especially the antagonists). Eventually my interest in the stories many mysteries won out, but it feels like this story and it’s uniqueness are the definition of hit-or-miss. It was sometimes difficult for me to figure out if certain oddities where something I actually liked, or just downright creeped me out. And while I ended up really liking it, I could easily see why others wouldn’t.

The world of “the Hole” is still largely one big mystery by the end of the first volume. It seems like the sorcerers and the people in “the Hole” live in separate dimensions, with the former preying on the latter, but that’s just a guess. Even so, I really liked how my many questions about this unique world were answered slowly, in bits and pieces over time.

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pg. 3, Vol. 1

While I can’t say I liked it all, overall the strangeness of this world/story was a plus. There were quite a few scenes that had me doing double takes thinking, “did a man’s head really just pop out of lizard-head dude’s stomach to talk to someone?”, and “did this dude really just turn his enemies into mushrooms then talk about eating them?” I thought that last one was a joke, but nope. No it was not. 

As for the characters, the ones that had me so conflicted were the antagonists (the sorcerers). They are an interesting bunch, but the five introduced in this volume are on such a different plane of weird I don’t know what to think about them.

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pg. 92, Vol. 1

Though the main characters Nikaido (the girl executing that headlock-see 1st pic) and Caiman (lizard head dude) were a different story. I was, for obvious reasons, surprised to learn that these two are the main characters. But with their unexpected mildly inappropriate humour, easy banter, and the overall mystery surrounding them it didn’t take me long to like them. Nikaido is one talented and strong woman, and I can’t help but wonder what her story is, and what made her join Caiman on his quest. And as for Caiman, it was his duality and humour (he has the feel of an anti-hero) that had me interested. I couldn’t help but be drawn into his ruthless, and often bloody, quest to find the sorcerer who cast a spell on him (the spell that changed his head into a reptile, and gave him the unique power to withstand magic).

It’s all these mysteries, like the strangeness of “the Hole”, the magic system, where the sorcerers come from and why they have no qualms about committing horrible experiments on people (really, they seem to lack some serious morals in general) that drive me to want to learn more. And, of course, there’s the bit about the unknown man living inside of Caiman….And..well, okay, all the gory action is part of it. 

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Needless to say, this manga definitely isn’t for everyone. Though the scenes do serve to progress the plot, or give readers a better idea of the dark type of environment these guys are in, there is quite a bit of violence, and it doesn’t dial back on the explicit images to go with it. Which reminds me…I absolutely LOVE the artwork! It’s quite detailed, especially the facial expressions and eyes!

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somewhere in chapter 1, Vol. 1…I think…

Barakamon by Satsuki Yoshino

*This Review is Spoiler Free*

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This post is going to be a bit different from my usual style and content, as I’ve finally- for those that have been suggesting it for quite some *cough* decided to also write a little on anime. Now this doesn’t mean I’m turning this into an anime site, I’ll still be doing the regular bi-weekly book review posts (excusing times where things get busy and there isn’t any *ahem*). This just means I’ll occasionally be doing an extra post here and there on anime, or something like this one- where it’s mainly a manga review, but I add in some of my thoughts on the anime adaption if I’ve watched it. 

Last year I decided to go outside of my comfort zone with anime and tried out a few shows in the Slice of Life genre (similar to but not quite contemporary for those of you who don’t know). Some went more or less like I was expecting- I was bored out of my mind- but a few others were gems and made me change my mind about Slice of Life in general. Barakamon, not to be confused with Bakuman (am I the only one that did this?), was one of them.

Synopsis:

Barakamon follows the life of a 23-year-old professional calligrapher, Seishuu Handa, after he moves out to the booneys on a small island. The calligraphy bit got me interested, but so did his reason for moving in the first place: as a much needed getaway following a… let’s call it “mishap” with the Exhibit Hall Director at a showing over some publicly dished out criticism.

Exhibit A:

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Naturally this all led to him having some…issues in his work and social life, so he readily agreed to being sent off to the middle of nowhere. But, of course, his hopes of getting some peace and quiet to focus on his work are quickly crushed by one trouble making first grader: Naru.

Exhibit B:

 

My Rating (for both): 9/10 Unicorn Horns!

The hilarious interactions between main characters Handa and little Naru are definitely the selling point of this series. I found myself bursting into laughter every chapter/story at their antics, the many resulting misunderstandings, and Handa’s often immature reactions to Naru’s actions and logic. The characters and humour are part of what made this series so enjoyable for me. Even the side characters that make small appearances had their place and made themselves memorable in some way. 

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In the first volume, along with a handful of villagers, we only meet Naru, a couple of her classmates, the two middle schoolers Miwa and Tama, and high school senior Hiroshi. Things don’t get too in-depth with them seeing as this is the first volume, save for maybe Hiroshi, but there is just enough to get a grasp on each character. I was taken back by how well Yoshino was able to make a cast of characters with such varying ages work. And equally surprised I didn’t find the kids really annoying. Of course the anime goes further than what I’ve read, but I’m seriously looking forward to going through all the craziness again in later volumes (especially the bits when Tama’s secret hobby and future dream come to light).

Then there’s the out-of-nowhere-gut-punching (a.k.a metaphoric life messages that really hit home). They’re nothing incredibly mind blowing, just some words about everyday life and hurtles most (meaning me) have forgotten had such simple answers somewhere along the way. Naru and Hiroshi did this very well through their interactions with each other, often giving insightful advice and encouragement just by being themselves. Coupled with the humour this made it become a solid and unforgettable series for me, which was unexpected considering my strong preference for an overarching plot. 

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Since this story takes place on a remote island, the inhabitants actually speak a different dialect (Kansai dialect). In the manga the translator used an old country sounding accent for all the characters living on the Island to represent this, save city raised Handa of course. While the anime does the same, reading it in the manga was a slightly different experience. This wasn’t a negative thing, just took some getting use to. 

The taste of small town life was another surprising enjoyment, and actually made me want to give it a try sometime. That and of course my introduction to the world of professional calligraphy. Naturally I won’t be taking this as a how-to-guide, but it did get me thinking, and also broaden my world by making me stop and really take it in as an art form. Especially a particular scene in the anime…which I can’t actually show cause it would definitely count as a spoiler. 

(Poor) Non-spoiler substitute: 

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Lastly, I never say much about it in any of my reviews unless I found it mind-blowing, but will say I like the art style. It’s good as far as I’m concerned and easy to follow, but noticeably changes (in a good way) from the first chapter to the last. 

I watched the anime a few months ago, and have only just read the first volume so can’t compare them much without spoilers. But so far the adaptation did a very good job. I’d recommend checking out either one since the anime seems to have done a fairly good job at capturing the essence of the manga, and the characters in it. Both were hilarious, charming, and overall very enjoyable.

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Find it On:

MAL;  Goodreads

Stream/Buy the Anime On:

Crunchyroll;  Funimation

Buy the Manga At:

Indigo/Chapters;  Amazon;  Barnes & Noble;  Right Stuff Anime

 

Golden Kamuy, Vol. 1 by Satoru Noda

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I actually never heard of, or seen this series before reading it. It’s just one from the (always) giant pile of random books I recently picked without reading the synopsis from the library. And I have to say I’m glad I decided to pick up so many unheard of books this time around, because I’ve found a few gems I know I’d never have picked up to read if I’d know what it was about before hand.

Synopsis: A recent war veteran dubbed Saichi “Immortal” Sugimoto finds himself dishonourably discharged, and desperately searching the wild mountains of Hokkaido for gold in postwar gold rush 1904. Of course he finds nothing, except an old man with an interesting story: a ruthless man murdered a group of Ainu (Japanese First Nations), stole their giant pile of gold, and was caught and imprisoned. Once the secret of the large gold mine got out, with all the people-government and otherwise- wanting a piece, escape became impossible. So what did this man do? In the hopes of getting a message to his allies, he tattooed cryptic instructions of where he left the gold on all his prison mates with the promise to share with them. They stage a prison break, and succeed.

Now of course Sugimoto doesn’t believe a word, until a bear attack and dead body later, when he gets to see the unique tattoos himself. While protecting this body from said bear, help comes from an unexpected ally, an Ainu girl who’s father was a victim of the murdering thief. The two form an unlikely bond while surviving the bear attack and begin working together to hunt down the prisoners. One for the gold, the other for revenge.

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Rating: 8.5/10 Unicorn Horns

This was a very different story from what I’m used to reading, so I was surprised to find myself liking it so much. Despite the historical setting and mystery (two things I enjoy, just not together), the story line and where it’s heading were more than enough to make me change my mind. Things get a bit graphic here and there once they start hunting down prisoners, but things never felt needlessly gruesome. I gave it such a high rating for it’s uniqueness. The story may be similar to others, but incorporates a fair amount of original ideas- like the multitude of referenced info about Ainu people I loved learning. 

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I can’t say much about the setting since I know next to nothing about 1904 Japan, but I enjoyed the learning experience, especially when they took to the wilds. Noda gives tons of descriptions which made things feel more realistic. As for the characters, with the exception of one, I have no complaints. Sugimoto is a wonderfully complex ex-soldier who is decidedly unapologetic about taking lives if he’s threatened. Yet he’s also an intelligent, compassionate, and very capable fighter who shows hints of the recklessness and emotional instability born of surviving the horrors of war.

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Even one of the inmates and the hints of future antagonists, each having their own unique personalities, were fascinating to read/watch. Which all made the lack that is Asirpa, the young Ainu girl who becomes Sugimoto’s partner, pretty confusing. Though she’s clearly very intelligent and can hold her own in a fight, I found her fading to the background among Sugimoto and minor characters. I was pretty disappointed with her, but to be fair this is only the first volume. We get quite a bit of Sugimoto’s background, and learn about his motives and personality, so it’s my guess Asirpa, as the secondary main character, will be fleshed out as a character in a later volume.

Regardless this was a great read and I’m really looking forward to checking out the next volume. I actually have no idea who to recommend this to, seeing as how I would have never in my life picked this up. So I guess if anything I’ve said about this series in my review interests you, please give it a try! Thanks for reading =)downloadg.jpg 

 

 

Arata: The Legend Vol. 1, by Yuu Watase 

This Review is Spoiler Free

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Completely disinterested. That’s how I felt about this series at first. I came across  this series a few years ago, took one look at the cover, and decided it wasn’t for me. I figured that was the end, but a few months ago I was forced into a game of Jack in the Box. No matter where I went- online forums, the library, Goodreads recommendations, random book comments- this series would make an appearance. To be honest it started to creep me out, and so (of course) I became interested enough to give it a try! I have never been so happy to be stalked by an inanimate object before 😃

Synopsis: On one side you have Arata. This young adult is the next in line to lead the Hime Clan- long line of females who, every 30 years, have proudly produced a new ruling princess for the kingdom. Only thing is…Arata is a boy.

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On the the other side we have the leading protagonist, Arata Hinohara, a regular high school student with great athletic skills and the grades to go with it, seems to just be starting over from a complicated past. That is, until said past seems to follow him to his new school.

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These two very different worlds clash when Arata (the Hime Clan leader), is falsely charged with the murdering the ruling Princess during a sacred succession ceremony and chased into the human devouring forest.

This is when Hinohara (the regular school student) takes centre stage. As the mysterious forest forces a body swap between these two characters, Hinohara finds himself in a magical kingdom being hunted down by the 12 Sho (12 chosen rulers welding the most powerful Kamui– gods in the form of weapons).    

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Rating: 8.5/10 Unicorn Horns!

Needless to say this was an unexpectedly non-stop, action packed read. The action and adventure the series begins with only continues to increase as Hinohara finds his place in the new fantasy world, and discovers a power of his own. The characters, setting, dialogue (the humours banter was a real bonus), and touch of romance, are all things that came together to make this one of my favourite series.

A big part of what makes this series great for me is the main character Hinohara. The way he faces and overcomes his own weaknesses, quickly becoming a stronger person who does his best to actively grow and stick to his moral convictions is something that I find was approached/written beautifully. I recommend this one to any action, adventure, and fantasy lover! 

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There is also a 12-episode anime version if you want to check it out. Though it covers only a very small portion of the manga, it does adapt most of the important parts (with a few changes of course) up until the last few episodes where events start showing up out of chronological order.

Seiho Boys High School, Vol. 1 by Kaneyoshi Izumi

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I still question my decision to do a review on this 8 volume manga series, and not because I didn’t wholly enjoy it. In fact, my hesitation comes from the fact that I not only enjoyed it, but from time to time found myself suffering from convulsions of laughter. Normally that’s simply a good thing, but I must admit that some of the often vulgar and at best inappropriate humour may have crossed lines here and there.

Synopsis: Seiho Boys High School is more or less exactly what the name implies. Despite being a shojo manga (Japanese comic targeted for young adult girls), the story centers a group of young males at an all male boarding high school in the middle of nowhere. The POV starts with a young 16yr old named Maki, but often switches between the small group of friends as the lament and curse their fate of being stranded without any female in sight. Worrying about forgetting how to talk to girls, past issues, grades, and getting caught with their secret stashes during inspections are just some of the typical things these boys get themselves caught up in as they search for love…or simply to get laid.

Rating: I rate this hilarious contemporary 7/10 Unicorn Horns!

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This ‘crossing of lines’ is something to be expected when a genre challenging series such as this hits the shelves. This shojo challenges it’s typical predecessors in two ways; It’s entirely male centered cast of characters, and it’s incredibly ‘inappropriate for it’s genre’ type of humour. Personally, with the exception of one character’s actions when it came to women, I didn’t see much wrong with the blunt sexual humour, but can easily say that many could find the more…unapologetic and inappropriate scenes/comments offensive. So a big warning to those that would be put off by raunchy humour.

The only negative thing I have to say about this series, other than a couple personally line crossing comments, is that this hilarious contemporary read does loose momentum in later installments as things begin to feel a bit repetitive here and there, or seemed to lack direction (something I believe the author pointed out themselves). Otherwise I loved the characters and the humour even more than I did the overall episodic story of a group of boys struggling to find love and keep it (though that was pretty funny in and of itself). 

I recommend this to anyone looking for some good romantic comedy, with an emphasis on comedy of the inappropriate kind.