Land of the Lustrous by Haruko Ichikawa

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The world has been hit by six meteors. This has made most of the world uninhabitable except for a very small coast. However, this coast is also unstable too, and any creature that we consider living lives in the ocean.

Humans do not exist anymore.  The only creatures that live on the coast are animated gems. No really, imagine people made of amethyst or topaz running around and instead of eating food they photosynthesis, which is perfect for living on the coast.

This is the setting for Land of the Lustrous, where Phos (Phosphophyllite) and 27 other “gems” live an immortal life in peace and relaxation. Well peace and relaxation except for the fact that people from the moon come and attack them every three days or so, trying to take them back to the moon forever. Since they are basically defenseless when broken and alive when it happens, there could be a chance to rescue them, but it is slim. Hence, the gems, along with their strong leader “Teacher”, train and patrol every day in order to be ready to fight against the moon people.

Everybody except Phos at least. On the Mohs scale, Phos is the weakest at 3.5, and breaks easily no matter the method. However, she still tries to fight despite not even being able to hold the lightest sword. Throughout the story, she still tries her best to change.

The first thing to notice is that the art, compared to other manga, is very plain. The manga artist is obviously very new at drawing, and some of the pictures look like the reader could draw them. However, to make up for it, the character’s design looks perfectly like each of their respective gems, in which one can tell that Diamond has shiny hair.

For geology lovers out there, each of the gems correspond accurately to their real life counterpart. Besides from aesthetics and Mohs scale, for example, I learned about the gem Cinnabar, which has mercury in it, because the character Cinnabar has poison that looks like Mercury coming out of her.

As for story, there is all types of genre, with the exception of perhaps romance. It is very comical, especially at the beginning, whenever Phos messes up, and the world that they live in looks like another planet despite being Earth, also making it dystopia. Additionally, it is a coming of age story perfect for those who feel like they don’t belong, as Phos feels that she is useless, which leads to very dark choices such as losing her memories on purpose, which is perfect for goth fans out there who think that this is just a cute, silly story (hint: we find out later that it is not that cute).

I hope that you will give yet another good manga a try!

-Megan V, 12th Grade

The Land of the Lustrous by Haruko Ichikawa is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academy) by Kohei Horikoshi

Surely you have heard of famous anime? This is a franchise like Naruto, Dragon Ball, or even Attack on Titan that people know of even if they don’t read manga or watch anime. If you never heard of it, which is doubtful, you might be wondering why it’s famous among Americans. A good look at the source material shows us why.

My Hero Academia is set in a world where everyone is an X-man: they all have a power they were born with. And with these powers, everyone can become a superhero – or a villain – if they want to. Well, everyone except Izuku “Deku” Midoriya. Despite being born without a Quirk, he plans to live up to his hero, the strongest man All Might who always saves everyone with a smile. In fact, while trying to get his autograph, Deku finds out that All Might was born without powers too, but was given a special kind of power that could be transferred to others. Deku uses that skill to win a spot at the hero training academy high school. But his trials are not over as he faces old and new classmates, class battles, and tests of whether he can be a true hero.

Why do Americans like this manga? Superheroes. Like I have said earlier, the idea of powers makes it seem like X-Men, and All Might looks like the surfer version of Superman. Additionally, while some of these powers, called Quirks, are the familiar to comic readers, such as turning invisible, there are new and unique quirks that the author created, such as the power to use both fire and ice.

The characters are also very easy to distinguish, with fun character designs, such as a girl who is literally invisible all the time or a girl who has a frog like power, and thus looks like a very cute frog. Finally, a main point to be made are the villains. Not only do they make the characters think about themselves, but they are just as awesome as the heroes. They have amazing powers, and one of the villains has a hand on his face the whole time.

Even though I don’t care for superheroes all that much, I do love how the author writes the story, and if you are interested in superheroes this one is for you.

-Megan V, 12th grade

Boku no Hero Academia by Kohei Horikoshi is available for checkout from the Mission VIejo Library

Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

What is your wish? Gold? Immortality? Fame? Whatever it might be, you can have it!

So long as you’re willing to pay the price for it. How about sacrificing your first born son to get gold? Dying every time you got hurt in exchange for almost immortal like powers? Or even killing a whole town to gain fame!

You see, with alchemy, you can gain anything you want, but the rule of alchemy is that for everything made there is an equal amount that must be given back. Water is needed to instantly make ice, trees in order to make paper. And brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric have just learned the hard way that in order to bring their dead mother back to life, Edward must sacrifice a leg and Alphonse his whole body. And then, Edward sacrificed his arm to put his brother’s soul upon a suit of armor.

Now, Edward and Alphonse have vowed to get their bodies back, or at least Al’s trying to get his back, as Ed wants to keep his leg as a reminder. They travel the world as “dogs of the military”, Ed with a fullmetal arm and leg, and Al in his armor body. Of course, they have heard of the Philosopher’s stone, the stone that defies the rules of alchemy, but they vowed never to use it. And it was good that they did so, as some evil is distributing fake Philosopher’s stones.

This manga is legendary, and deserves the credit it has. It has been rated by many manga sites as one of the top three mangas ever, and, although it is not the best art, the story is amazing. Not only does the manga have some high depth philosophical elements, but it also has some very good tragic and comedy moments, including the most well known death scene in anime and a ferocious mini panda that considers weak humans worse than food.

Additionally, I love that while it goes over how far one is willing to pay for their wishes, it also gets into immortality. For example, the story gets into how two different people crossed a huge desert just to get immortality. Furthermore, there is even one guy who has immortality, though never really wanted and is now faced with the burden of people calling him a monster, seeing people he loves die before him, and the great sin of what he did to gain immortality.

Not only is this manga well known, it was made by a woman. It is extremely rare for action manga to be created by a women, and I can only think of seven other women who can say that they have written a famous action manga, with only two of those rivaling this amazing woman. So, feminists, rejoice by reading a manga that is not only made by a woman, but features a female role model who is in the military and the other women in the manga are not content with just “waiting”.

Finally, the spacing and ending for this manga is incredible! This manga ended a while ago, but I can think of no better way to end the story. I did read Beezelbub, which ran shorter than Fullmetal Alchemist and had a pretty good ending, but I finished reading it feeling that there could have been more the author could have touched on. I have also read Bleach and Naruto, both longer than Fullmetal Alchemist, but Naruto had an okay ending and Bleach had an ending that is to not be spoken of. However, Fullmetal Alchemist was perfect in this regard. Not only did it tie in stuff from the first chapters, such as us meeting the same characters from chapter one near the end, but Ed and Al get their bodies in a way that best suited the characters. The villains died in such a way that the reader feels satisfied, and everyone gets an ending that not only shows what they’re doing in the future, but also shows so much hope for them in the future. This way was really perfect, and I can see no flaws (other than the fact that I felt that one of the very good villains died way earlier than the rest of the very good villains, but that was it).

Once I again, even for non manga lovers, if there is any manga you should read before you die, it is this one.

Megan V,

Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama

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We’ve had zombie apocalypses. We’ve had alien races kidnapping us. There have been so many dystopian stories, from Fahrenheit 451 and The Hunger Games to Divergent and The Walking Dead, in which human civilization is destroyed by some outside thing forcing humans to learn how to survive.

However, get prepared for giants eating humans.

In Attack on Titan, humanity has dwindled to an overall population of two thousand, kept safe behind three walls that separate themselves from the titans. However, Eren Jaeger’s life changes when the outer wall gets broken down by a muscle bound titan, a giant that eats humans. His mom gets eaten by one, in which he and his friends spend the next couple of years trying to get in the Survey Corps as a means of revenge against the almost impossible to beat titans.

Of course, he hates titans. So what happens when he becomes one himself?

Although this series is very popular in both the anime community and among non-anime lovers, I did not like it much. The artwork is not the best, but you can tell Isayama works really hard on each chapter. However, it is the plot that I enjoy. From the twists and turns to the corrupted politics being played in the background, it is easy to enjoy for someone who doesn’t like action. However, there is a lot of gore, as it is not just Eren’s mom who gets eaten. I will recommend it for any dystopia fan and for anyone interested in action.

-Megan V., 11th Grade

Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Webtoon Review: Tower of God by SIU

What is it that you so desire?

Wealth?

Fame?

Power?

“Whether you are looking for: wealth, immortality, absolute power, magical abilities or mysteries, just head up. All the glory and happiness of the world are all up there. The Tower is such a place”

But The Tower is not chosen,  The Tower chooses who enters its walls. For whatever reason, to enter The Tower means hard journey to the top. There is one, the 25th Bam also called Bam, who enters the tower on his own volition.  Not because he was seeking material want, but he was chasing his friend, Rachel, who entered the tower so she could see the stars. Bam encounters the First Floor Guardian of The Tower, Headon, who introduces Bam to the world he has forced entrance to. The Headon is the first to weed out those who are worthy to advance up The Tower. Each level of The Tower is a test to find the best of the best, who are worthy enough to reach the end. Bam, determined to find Rachel, decides to enter The Tower to find her, but once he enters The Tower, Bam realizes not everything is what it seems. The Tower contains many deep and dark secret that he will soon come to find.

The Tower of God plays on the idea where the weak will not survive and the strong determine the rules. This webtoon delved deeply into the reasons people act the way they do. What causes someone to choose betrayal over friendship and what is the meaning of a relationship between people are just two of the social question the webtoon asks.

Forewarning, there are a lot of characters. The one thing that the author does well is no character, once they are deemed important, is left without proper character development. As the entire story deals with the motives of people, SIU does an fantastic job of explaining how the character’s have come to be. The artwork is not particularly fantastic but I found his play with color interesting as color as it is involved with character development. Keep in mind, the social structure and how The Tower is quite complicated, so it may take a bit to understand The Tower. The development of The Tower, though, is integral to the story. Overall, story is fantastic despite its complexity.

This can be a very violent webtoon, so I recommend it for older audiences. Of course, this is only my opinion so why don’t you read it for yourself and decide.

The Tower of God is licensed by Line Webtoon and is free to read online.

-Sarah J., 11th Grade

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.