Graphic Novels, Comics and Manga

Manga/Graphic Review: Seto Utsumi, Volume #1

This manga was comprised of seven chapters, each containing a separate story. Well, story is not quite accurate… Each chapter is really a new conversation between the two teens as they sit by the river after school. They talk about anything and everything, from girls to bullies to ghosts. It’s sweet at times, when the boys’ affection for one another is made apparent, even without them actually voicing it. They tease each other endlessly, argue and taunt each other, but all in good humour.

Some of the things they talk about did seem rather shallow to me, and the way they spoke was a little strange to me. I get the feeling that this is aimed more at readers who understand the culture a bit more and can relate to the characters.

Personally, I found the book a little boring overall. There was no real plot, which can be nice sometimes, but just felt a little… lost here. Sometimes the boys spoke about interesting topics, but I would have liked to hear more about their personal lives, their emotions and fears.

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

This was a strange read, honestly. I didn’t particularly like it, though I didn’t dislike it either. I just didn’t really connect with the characters or enjoy it that much. 2.5 stars.

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Manga Review: Sota’s Knife

This manga is about a young man called Sota who is working as a kitchen hand in a restaurant in Japan. He dreams of reviving his own family restaurant, and stays late most nights to practice his own cooking.

In this, Sota meets several challenges, mostly cooking-based. They all have some sort of sweet, positive answer or conclusion, and Sota uses his passion for cooking and his father’s and friends’ advice to find the answers without any external help.

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

The grammar wasn’t perfect, which I believe may be due to translation errors. I also didn’t find it that easy to follow at times, and some of the speech bubbles weren’t placed particularly clearly. The writing itself was a little hard to go along with too, honestly, and it wasn’t the most exciting manga. But there weren’t really any overwhelming faults, so I’m giving this 3 stars.

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Open Earth

This is only a short book, and my review is also only going to be short.

Basically, this focuses on members of a human colony who have left Earth. The teens in this colony are the first generation of Earthlings not born on Earth. The main character – who’s name was rarely mentioned – strongly wants to create new customs and culture, as she believes the Earth culture is what led to the planet’s ultimate demise. Her parents are more interested in preserving old cultures, though, and find her ideas of ‘normal’ to be quite extraordinary.

There wasn’t much of an overarcing plot really, only the story of the girl and her many lovers. Basically, her and her whole friendship group are all in a polyamorous relationship. There are a lot (and I really do mean a lot) of sexual scenes, but they are written in a way that normalises the behaviour.

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

The girl realises she has a different connection to one boy in particular, and wants to move into his home after his sister moves out. But this makes the others fear that they’re going to ‘couple off’ and cut them out of their lives.

It was a pretty strange book, honestly. It’s good to be normalising different relationships such as this, but I didn’t see any other plots really going on. 3 stars.

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Death of Love

Another Edelweiss+ copy I downloaded. (There was a deadline on the files, hence the mass of Edelweiss+ reviews posted these past few days. It’s over now!)

Philo Harris really can’t get any girls, so he signs up for some class on being the ‘alpha’ that women biologically desire. He hangs out at a bar after with some other guys who had attended the class, giving the whole alpha thing a go. It doesn’t go particularly well for any of them… Then a stranger turns up offering pills. (Yeah. That’s never good.) Of course, the guys say no. But then Philo gets really, really, drunk, and decides to swallow one.

Bad. Decision.

After that, he can see cupids. Or cupidae. (Whatever.) And… He kills one.

BAD. DECISION.

Now they all want revenge. Philo turns to his friends for help, but they just assume he’s tripping on some dodgy drugs. Or gone crazy. They definitely don’t believe the cupids are real.

Until Philo doses their drinks and they are subjected to the angry little winged men in diapers, too.

Of course, they’re angry. But they don’t have time to argue; they have a HELL of a lot of cupids attacking them. And this ‘boss’ they keep talking about…? Yeah, he is not happy about all the cupids being killed.

This was a really funny novel! It was superbly written, fantastically drawn, and just great fun to read. There was clearly a lot of knowledge on the gods and ancient mythology, which really helped create depth and authenticity to the story. The characters were great, and Philo actually showed remarkable growth as a character. It contained a fair amount of language and some dirty humour, but I think it all fit really well. 4 stars.

Graphic Novel Review: Sheets

Again, I found this on Edelweiss+ and am really glad I did!

So this is a graphic novel about a thirteen-year-old girl struggling to maintain her family’s laundry business after her mother’s death. Things keep going wrong, and Mr Saubertuck makes an offer to Marj and her family – give up their home and business in return for lodging and work at Saubertuck’s new spa & yoga resort. Marj’s father says they should accept it; Marj refuses. Her mother loved their house, and she is not going to give it up without a fight.

Marj soon discovers that some of her problems have been caused by a supernatural presence. Wendell has escaped from his ghost town and returned to be among the living despite it being against every law in the ghost rulebook. As Wendell remembers more and more from his life, Marj is struggling with the business, her nasty classmates, and her longing for her deceased mother. When she meets Wendell, she can’t believe her eyes. Ghosts aren’t real. Are they?

The pair have a rocky relationship, as Wendell accidentally risks the fate of Marj’s whole family. But Marj soon links Wendell to an old memory, and realises that he is not the one to blame for the problems her laundry business are facing. Wendell goes to extreme measures – nearly being arrested by his ghost-kin – to help Marj get the business back up.

The story is really, really lovely. The colour palette is perfect, and the art is just beautiful. It’s a really sweet book, with lots of lovely little details. It’s touching and emotional, but resolved really nicely. 4 stars.

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Twisted Romance Volume #1

I would like to thank Edelweiss+ again for providing me with this book.

This is actually a collection of short stories as well as comics, all of which are separate from one another. I won’t go through every story, but I will talk about a few.

The art of each comic is very different from the last, as is each plot. As the title suggests, every story is a romance of sorts – but not the conventional, boy-meets-girl kind. A majority of the relationships in this are same-sex, and there is even a polyamorous relationship in one. Bondage is discussed – and described – and my favourite story involved a young princess being held prisoner by a dragon, only to be freed by a spider.

Most of the stories had some sort of fantasy or paranormal element, but not all. There were tragic stories, happy stories; all sorts. As can be expected, there were some I liked more than others. Because of this, it is hard to review the book as a whole. For the most part the writing was really good, and most graphics were lovely. (There were a few I wasn’t so partial to, but that’s just personal preference.) Romances are generally not my favourite genre of stories so I wasn’t that enthralled by this, but I do appreciate the uniqueness of this collection and the quality of the stories. Some were really fantastic, and I really enjoyed having so many different things included. 3.5 stars.

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Perdy Volume #1

Thanks again to Edelweiss+ for providing me with a copy of this!

This is a very different style of comic to anything I usually read. Firstly, it’s an old Western style comic. It’s also kind of a comedy; tons of dodgy jokes and sexual innuendos throughout. There’s also a lot of swearing and crass language.

The main character is Perdy, a woman a little past her prime, who is released from a 15-year prison sentence at the start of this book. As the cover suggests, Perdy is a big fan of sex. She uses her womanly charm to seduce men – or teach them a lesson, depending on the situation.

The story gets interesting when we meet Rose, a young woman running a flower shop in Petiteville. She also happens to be the daughter of Perdy. She is pursuing a new-found love interest when her mother returns to the scene, interfering with her relationship. As Rose becomes exceedingly irritated by her mother, we see into her past life. The book ends with Rose planning to get rid of her mother again.

I liked the sketchy style of the panels, as well as the handwriting-style font. The ‘voice’ of Perdy is really well-developed, and I am definitely interested in what’s happened between Perdy and Rose. I’m giving this 3.5 to 4 stars.

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Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Prism Stalker Volume #1

Another copy I received via Edelweiss+.

This volume collected the first 5 issues of Prism Srtalker. In these we meet Vep, a young Inaman refugee. She is taken from her current residence upon an asteroid and enrolled in an academy on a new planet. There are dozens of different species here, as well as members from other Inaman tribes. Vep tries to help several times, but soon finds that help is not always welcome.

The students in this academy are taught how to manipulate the energy upon the planet, as well as their own physical form. I got a little bit lost on this part, but it seemed pretty cool. Vep struggles with it, worrying she’s ‘missing’ some vital part of herself. She is picked on by several other students, but soon manages to make some friends within the academy.

I was very much reminded of Shade: The Changing Girl during the first part of Issue #1 of this, where Vep is sort of communicating with her ancestors, learning the ancient language of her tribe. And of course, the art style is incredibly similar. The colours are amazingly vivid, with tons of geometric shapes and lines throughout, as well as a lot of fluid movement and forms. It was really gorgeous to look at; at the start, where Vep is learning her tribe’s language, there is a lot of tribal influence in the art, which I thought was wonderful.

I really wanted to like this, but I did get a bit too confused. I just couldn’t quite catch on to the story. Still, I appreciate the art and the originality of the concept. 3 stars.

Graphic Novel/Manga Review: Undead Messiah Volume #1

Another fantastic opportunity I’ve been presented with thanks to Edelweiss+.

Tim Zachariah Muley is a 15-year-old gamer who is slightly obsessed with zombies. His classmates mock him, and his parents often reprimand him for playing video games all night. But who would ever have thought that Tim’s PlayStation addiction could save lives?

Zombie stories always seem to be about gamers who are ‘prepared’ for the apocalypse, and this was no different in that department. However, it wasn’t as cliche or predictable as a lot of similar stories I’ve read. The first zombie Tim meets is a lot closer to home than he’d expected, and his usual plan of ‘kill on contact’ is out of the question. With the help of his childhood bestie, M-Kay, Tim decides to pursue a cure for this strange new infection. The pair find something quite different to what they were expecting…

I loved both main characters, and the pair of antagonists that were briefly introduced seriously intrigued me. It ended on a massive cliffhanger! I really want to read on! It’s funny, super enjoyable to read, and actually pretty sad in places. I think it’s fantastically written (even if there are a couple of grammar mistakes) and the art is superb. I really, really enjoyed this. 4.5 stars.

Graphic Novel Review: Xena: Penance

Another ARC I received from Edelweiss+.

Xena, the Warrior Princess, has left her life of war and violence behind. She has dismissed her army, and seeks forgiveness for the destruction and death she caused in the path. She comes across a villager in need, Gabrielle, being attacked by a former member of her own army. The ex-warrior, Jax, makes it clear that he has not forgiven Xena for dropping the army.

Gabrielle joins Xena on her journey, determined to ‘help’. However, she turns out to be far more trouble than she’s worth, especially when someone wants to show Xena how it feels to lose someone.

Yet again, this novel is led by some fanatastically strong women. Their relationship with one another is comical yet sweet, and I could see Xena beginning to care for Gabrielle throughout the stories.

The writing was great, and the art was classic and clear. I am intrigued about Xena’s past, and would definitely be interested in more of this series. 4 stars.