Pandora Hearts by Jun Mochizuki

pandorahearts_junmochizukiOz Vessalius is fifteen years old, which means that it is time for his coming of age ceremony for the Vessalius family. Being the head of a powerful family, he doesn’t have to worry about in his future and his days are spent teasing his servant Gil, playing with his younger sister, and trying to woo the beautiful Sharon. That is, until he and Gil stumble upon a grave and Oz starts to have weird dreams about a girl in a twisted dollhouse who wants to kill him. The erratic Baskervilles send Oz into the “Abyss”, a prison thought only to be be a scary bedtime story. But why is the girl from his dream suddenly helping him get out of the Abyss? More importantly, when he finally gets out, has the world changed? Or did the Abyss change him?

Pandora Hearts is a completed manga series, with 104 chapters in 24 volumes and it’s a very worthwhile read. The series has very beautiful artwork, with each panel being a masterpiece and scenery that perfectly sets the tone. Additionally, characters are drawn in a way that perfectly suits their personalities. They have incredible backstories that lead the plot towards incredible twists and turns. The plot is woven well into the overall theme, from one scene about madness, to the next being completely comedic and the next being a thrilling action scene.

For Alice in Wonderland fans, it is nice to see many references to the book, with many scenes of madness, a character named “Alice”, and many characters having nicknames such as “Mad Hatter” or “B-Rabbit”. However, younger teens should be cautioned because some scenes of madness and action can be quite gruesome and twisted.

This is an amazing manga series, and I hope that everyone can take the chance to read it.

-Megan V., 11th Grade

Pandora Hearts is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

Westwood Vibrato by Youn In Wan and Kim Sun Hee

There is a story behind every song as each note relays an untold emotion or memory. Music can be understood universally as a language without words, but the storyteller is often overlooked.

Cornelia Bobo Warsha is a genius instrument repairwoman living in South Africa. Her studio, “Westwood Vibrato,” can restore the sound of any musical instrument. For every instrument she repairs, Cornelia has a special request. She asks to hear the story of the one who plays the instrument. She calls it a hobby, but in a way it is healing for the one telling it. The readers are taken along with Cornelia as she immerse herself into the story.

Westwood Vibrato is filled with stories both happy and sad. Stories of broken or lost people connected to memories by the sound of music. This series digs deep into bonds between people and it is other people who make the biggest impact on other people’s lives. Cordelia is especially strong character because despite of her permanent disability she always looks toward the brighter side life and how she can make other people’s lives better. It is written in arcs with short comical interludes that build the story. Each of the arcs focus on a specific type of relationship. There is a wide ranged covered but all are relationships that could happen in everyday life. It is a heartwarming series. I would recommend this to those looking for a story that digs deep into both good and bad emotions.

I cannot say this is true for you so discover it for yourself and tell me what you think.

-Sarah J., 11th Grade

Westwood Vibrato is licensed by Line Webtoon and is free to read online.

Manga Introduction: Bleach by Tite Kubo

bleach_titekuboIchigo Kurosaki is a high school student who can see ghosts. Because of this ability, he encounters Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper who guides souls from the World of the Living to Soul Society (the afterlife and Rukia’s home). Their meeting is not the most fortunate. Rukia is severely wounded saving Ichigo from a fallen soul called a Hollow. Left with no choice, Rukia gives her power to Ichigo to change into a Soul Reaper so he may fight in her stead. Now without power, Rukia is trapped in a human body and must train Ichigo to keep the balance of souls a Soul Reaper. Their partnership is far from easy as it reveals dark secrets that could tip the balance of the world just enough to destroy it all.

 

Here are a few facts about Bleach:

  • It was published in August of 2001 and ended 15 years later in August of 2016
  • There are 74 tankobon volumes (manga books) .
  • It was published weekly by Shueisha in the magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump
  • Bleach has sold a total of 84 million copies in Japan, ranking as the sixth best-selling series from Weekly Shōnen Jump as of 2013.
  • An anime series aired from October of  2004  to March of 2012 ending with a total of 366 episodes
  • Four animated films have been released, all featuring an original plot and character created by Tite Kubo: Memories of Nobody, The DiamondDust Rebellion, Fade to Black, and Hell Verse
  • Two collectible card games based on the Bleach series have been produced, one in Japan and one in North America.
  • There has been 9 musical productions since 2005. Five of which have been based on the original manga. The rest have been original stories or specials performances.
  • Recently, a live action film adaptations has been confirmed and it is to produced by Warner Brothers and directed by Shinsuke Sato, who has filmed other live action movies like Gantz and Library Wars

This is not one of my top favorites, but I still consider it a good manga. Compared to most manga, Bleach has one of the most structured settings I have seen. This could be seen as a necessity, due to the large cast of characters, but it helps with understanding how each society functions. This one of my favorite multi-dimensional worlds stories as it goes beyond just the two parallel worlds concept. Rather there are several worlds that balance the each other out. Characters, especially, are well developed with backstories that explain their choices and actions. I will have to say the beginning of the series I enjoyed more than the chapters currently, because the manga now is just trying to end and it has been dragged out far too long. As far as I understand, it has “officially” ended but there are still “extra” chapters to be released.

I do recommend this to an older audience as it contains a large quantity of violence and cursing. This manga I would give a 6/10. It could have been better if it had ended earlier but overall, I enjoyed it. Read it for yourself to find out!

-Sarah J., 11th Grade

Bleach is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Webtoon Review: Dr. Frost by Lee Jong Beom

Psychology. What is it?

Psychology is the study of behavior and mind, according to the dictionary.

To Dr. Frost, it is a study which will hopefully help him understand the what, where and why of feelings like love and sorrow. With snow white hair and a icy personality, it is no wonder he was given that name. At the same time, those traits were not of his doing. In his childhood, Dr. Frost sustained a frontal lobe injury, which resulted in him receiving genius intellect and the lost of the ability of empathy. Yoon Sung-ah is a college student working in her school counseling center as an assistant. Cheerful, outgoing and rather emotional, compared to Dr. Frost, she is the complete opposite of Dr. Frost. These two met as counselor and assistant and begin their story. Sung-ah strives to help Dr. Frost understand emotions again as they assist clients who come to them for help.

This is one of the more unusual stories I have read. Firstly, this webtoon does include real facts and methods used by psychologist. Of course, there are several things that are not really true for dramatic purposes. Please keep this in mind while reading. The webtoon has a fantastic blend of comedy and serious moments. There are extra chapters between the main story arc that feature the character in short comedic strips. Art wise, Dr. Frost is not fancy and does not have mixed between styles but the simple style helps when there is complicated explanations concerning the physiological part of the webtoon.

I would recommend this for an older audience as it does deal with the darkness of the human mind and what can happen to it.

This webtoon is licensed by Line Webtoon and is free to read online.

-Sarah J.,11th Grade

Webtoon Review: Flow by Honey B

Magic is normal. Rather, being born under a god is the norm. Some gods are weaker, others are stronger. To be born under a weak god means a lesser chance in both education and society, but a strong god means high school and training which later equals a higher status. There is only one thing in common. All of them can grant a single wish as long as the correct price is paid.

Yun Lee-Rang is a child of the cat. Not particularly bad but not strong enough for high school. His childhood friends, Suh Yul-Bi and Hong Ryun, are a pigeon and dragon respectively. Ryun, as he is a dragon, attends high school. Lee-Rang works with Yul-Bi in a delivery restaurant. He is satisfied with his life and has a crush on Yul-Bi. One day, when he is out on a delivery, Lee-Rang is severely beaten by students from a nearby high school, leaving him blind and paralyzed. Filled with despair, he wishes to turn back time. His cat god asks if he is sure and the answer is “yes.” It is done, but what Lee-Rang finds is that not only has he changed his fate but lives of everyone else. In this new timeline, Yul-Bi dies. Suddenly, the principal of Ryun’s high school invites Lee-Rang to enter his high school. Lee-Rang accepts in the hopes that he will learn to turn time again. This new timeline opens doors that shouldn’t have been opened and Lee-Rang learns that what is seen is not always what it is.

This is one of the earliest webtoons I have read and I have found it refreshing. It has a new twist to a power concept I have seen several times. There is a rollercoaster, which this webtoon takes you. There are the crazy light hearted monuments to the darkest of the dark time. The character are well developed and the changes in Lee-Rung personality and maturity is certainly strong. The artwork is simply beautiful. As webtoons are primarily released as color strips online (hence the name) artist have the opportunity to mix art styles and colors. Honey B uses a more realistic styles for the gods compared the the characters creating a incredible contrast.

It has been completed and the ending my opinion is quite satisfying. Of course, I cannot say that for you so why don’t you read it for yourself.

This webtoon is licensed by Line Webtoon and is free to read online.

-Sarah J., 11th Grade

Manga Introduction: Death Note By Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata.

deathnote_ohbaWhat if you were given the power to kill? Anyone you wished and no one could find out you did it? You could kill anyone by simply writing down their name and knowing their face. What if someone was given that power and decides to use it to enforce his own justice?

This is the premise on which Death Note is based on.

Light Yagami, a high school student, finds a notebook. Not just any notebook: a Death Note. It was dropped by a shinigami (death god) named Ryuk and grants the ability to kill anyone by knowing the name and face. Light first thinks of it as a joke, but soon comes to learn its true power. He decides “cleanse the world” from evil and become the world’s “god” using the notebook. He wants to create a world where people he deems are morally correct and good. Light becomes known as a “god” called Kira through killing those who commits crime both big and small. The killings attract the attention of a genius detective, who is only known as “L”. L believes what Kira is doing is wrong and need to be brought to justice. There begins their game of cat and mouse to see who is truly bringing justice.

Some quick facts

  • It was published in December of 2003 and ended three years later in May of 2006
  • There are 12 tankobon volumes (manga books).
  • Serialized (published) in Shueisha’s manga magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump
  • The Death Note manga has sold approximately 30 million volumes as of 2015.
  • A anime adaptation was aired from October 3, 2006, to June 26, 2007
  •  In 2007, the first three volumes of Death Note were on the American Library Association’s 2007 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten list.
  • On ICv2’s “Top 10 Shonen Properties Q2 2009”, Death Note was the third best manga in North America.
  • Won the 2008 Eagle Award for Favourite Manga as voted by UK fans.
  • According to a survey conducted in 2007, by the Ministry of culture of Japan, it occupies the 10th place among the best manga of all time.
  • Many Live Action Adaptations
    • Three Japanese films have been produced based off the manga, there is another that will be released this year.
    • An American film adaption which is currently being filmed (Rated R)
    • A Japanese live action drama was released in 2015
    • A musical adaption has been produced and had successful runs in both Korea and Japan.

This is a masterpiece of a manga. Certainly, one of my top favorites. The fundamental story does have a strong cultural base, so it may be slightly confusing to non-Japanese readers. It delves deeply into morality and what is justice. There is not a “good” and “bad” side but rather two sides who are battling each other to prove that their justice is the correct justice. Light and L are some of the best developed characters I have seen. There is two of what could be called arcs, both of which featured a suspenseful story that keep me reading.

I would recommended for older readers as it deals heavily with morality and death. It raises many questions, which would be harder for younger readers to understand.

I think it is fantastic but read it for yourself and decide.

-Sarah J.

Death Note is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

 

Webtoon Review: For the Sake of Sita by Haga

A short but heartwarming tale of a medical student who falls love with a fallen goddess in Nepal.

He meets Sita in a sidestreet alleyway where she sells herself to earn enough money to survive day to day. He quickly falls in love and marries Sita. He returns with her to his home, but she unfortunately dies within a year. Desperate, he asks the gods to save Sita. A goddess answers him and asks him what will he give in exchange. He agrees to anything and for an unknown price is give the chance to save Sita, but in a unexpected way.

This story is based of the tradition of Kumari in Nepal, India.

In a sense, it could be called the story of a real love. It is hard to say much without giving away the whole story. It is short, which is a plus as it length allowed for just enough development that it was complete and satisfying without loose ends. The characters are rounded and can make you laugh and cry. The artwork is simply fantastic. It pays homage to the beautiful art and colors of the Indian society. I am not a huge fan of pure romance stories, but this is one of the few which I would recommend. Of course this is only my opinion, try reading it for yourself and decide.

This webtoon is licensed by Line Webtoon and is free to read online.

-Sarah J., 11th Grade