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.

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.

 

Manga Introduction: Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

fullmetal_alchemist“There’s no such thing as a painless lesson-they just don’t exist. Sacrifices are necessary. You can’t gain anything without losing something first. Although if you can endure that pain and walk away from it, you’ll find that you now have a heart strong enough to overcome any obstacle. Yeah… a heart made Fullmetal.”- Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa.

Edward Elric and his younger brother Alphonse are in search of the sorcerer’s stone in order to restore their bodies after a fail human transmutation. Human transmutation is one of the forms of alchemy, but the brothers are determined to have their full bodies back . They might seem like a odd pair with the elder at 4’8″ with a automail arm and leg and the younger twice the height trapped in a suit of armor yet even with these odd fact, the brothers fight to gain what they want.

Here are some fact about Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa:

  • It was published in July of 2001 and ended 9 years later in July of 2010
  • There are 27 tankobon volumes (manga books) with 4-5 chapters in each.
  • It was published monthly by Square Enix in the magazine Monthly Shōnen Gangan
  • The Fullmetal Alchemist manga has sold approximately 61 million volumes as of 2013.
  • The English release of the manga’s first volume was the top-selling graphic novel during 2005.
  • In two TV Asahi web polls, the anime was voted the most popular anime of all time in Japan. At the American Anime Awards in February 2007, it was eligible for eight awards, nominated for six, and won five
  • There is an ongoing light novel series.
  • It has two anime series. The first one is called Fullmetal Alchemist and does not follow the original plot of the manga. The second series is called Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood and follows most of the manga’s plot. Each series has a full-length anime film, Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa and Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos respectively, to complete the series.

This is such an amazing series that I could go on with the facts but instead I will write about what I think of this manga. This is truly one of the best I have seen or read. It has a near perfect mix of characters and themes to spin a wonderful tale of adventure and excitement. One of my favorite things about this manga is that each characters each have their own quirks. Such as the main character, Edward Elric, sensitivity about his height and his habit of exploding and uttering comical lines of frustration.

“Shorty?! Could a shorty do this?! What else you want to call me: a half-pint bean-sprout midget?! I’m still growing you backwater desert idiots!” – An example of Edward Elric “short rants”

Another thing to admire about this manga is the many important themes it brings. Yes, this is set in another universe but there are many themes that could be applied to daily life. Such as the importance of a family and how they can make a difference in someone. There are many quotes in the manga that are worth memorizing. This is a very complex manga to explain in words. It easier to just read it and decide what you think. So why don’t you?

– Sarah J., 10th grade

Manga Introduction: Black Butler, by Yana Toboso

black_butlerBlack Butler (aka Kuroshitsuji in the original Japanese) is a tale of a contract between a demon butler and a child in Victorian-era London…

After a dangerous happening in his childhood, Ciel Phantomhive is left an orphan with a demon contracted to him as a butler. The demon, named Sebastian Michaelis by Ciel, will take Ciel’s soul when Ciel’s goal is reached. Known as the “Queen’s Watchdog,” 12-year-old Ciel Phantomhive solves crimes at the Queens orders from mysterious deaths to insane nobles, while trying to reach is goal of avenging his family murder.

Black Butler is an simply amazing manga with wonderful drawings. Here are a few facts about this manga:

  • Published in September of 2006, it rose in popularity and is still popular today. It is also still being produced.
  • There are 19  tankobon volumes (manga books) with 4-5 chapters each. All of which are titled: “That Butler,_______”
  • The title Black Butler is used for the America, Germany, France, Italy and Spain releases while the original Japanese title Kuroshitsuji is used in the Japan, Poland, and Finland releases.
  • Published once a month by Square Enix in a magazine called Monthly GFantasy.
  • Has two seasons of animes as well as a OVA (original video animation). A live action movie was also produced and released this year. It also has had three two musical productions and a third run as a reprise of the second musical.

This is one of my favorites among the many mangas around. For one, this has simply incredible drawings.  The main character’s development during helps to bring much of the story together with a mix of trying to solve mysteries and the emotions and feeling that come with being a human.

This does contain demons, shinigami (death reapers), as well as many other mystical elements. It also contains many deaths and some other more gruesome happening due to some of the more insane characters included in the story. It also has a lot that deals with how human being act and why, which many be hard to understand. This is best for a slightly more mature audience.

I can’t decide everything so read it yourself and find the adventure waiting for you.

-Sarah J, 9th grade

Manga Review: Naruto, By Masashi Kishimoto; Land of Waves Arc

naruto_vol2This is the third part of my review about Naruto. Please read the first and second parts if you missed them.

After the Instruction Arc is the Land of Waves Arc.The Land of the Waves Arc is the first major arc in the series. This arc is covered in between chapter nine to thirty three. These chapters were later complied together in the second to fourth tankobon volumes.

In the previous arc, Naruto Uzumaki, Sakura Haruno, and Sasuke Uchiha were placed in a squad together with Kakashi Hatake-sensei (sensei meaning teacher) after graduating the Ninja Academy. They pass is test and officially become genin, which is the lowest ninja rank.  After being officially placed together Kakashi’s Squad, which is also known as Squad 7, they are given missions to complete in order to build their teamwork and give them experience that they will have to use when they are older.

This arc starts with Squad 7 receiving a new mission. Naruto, who complains about receiving a d-ranked missions, demands to have a c-ranked mission. Typically genin are only give d-rank missions because they are the safest and easiest to do. C, B, A- Ranked missions are only given to ninjas that are a higher rank. The Hokage, who is the leader or commander of the ninjas, reluctantly gives in. The Hokage gives Squad 7 a c-ranked escort mission. They have to escort Tazuna, a bridge builder, back to his home in the Land of Waves. At first this seams like a simple, easy escort mission. Then they start to get attacked by ninjas on the road to the Land of Waves. They learn that there is something much more to the mission that Tazuna did not tell them about. Squad 7 also meets Zabuza Momochi, who is a dangerous ninja that is out to stop them, and Haku, a mysterious boy that no one knows anything about.Will they ever reach the Land of Waves and come back alive?

This is one of my favorite of the many arcs of the Naruto series. This is were you see the first major developments of  the main characters. This is when Naruto, the main character, faces his first major adversary. You start to learn more the stories of the main characters. The story also starts to become more serious compared to the earlier chapters. 

This is only my view of the manga. I would recommend this for 8-years-old and up due to the fact there is violence. This is also very good for anyone who loves adventure and action. I don’t know how you would like it, so read it to find out.

-Sarah J., 8th grade

Manga Review: Naruto Introduction Arc, by Masashi Kishimoto

naruto2This is the next part of my review about Naruto. (See my previous one here.)

The manga series, Naruto, is a huge story that has many smaller story arc that tell a part of the who story. Introduction Arc is the first story arc of the series. This arc covers the first eight chapters of the manga. The first tankobon volume of the series contains the first seven chapters and the eighth chapter is in the second volume.

As the title suggests, it introduces the main characters in the series as well as some of the supporting characters. The main character which the story revolves around is Naruto Uzumaki and his life which starts in the Ninja Leaf Village or Konohagakure.

Naruto is a 12-year-old, blonde-head boy who is full of energy and mischief and is at the bottom of his class. Then there is Sakura Haruno and Sasuke Uchiha. Both of them are the same age as Naruto but Sakura is a pink-hair girl, that hates Naruto and is crazy about Sasuke. Sasuke, on the other hand, is child genius that is the last of his family and has a goal to gain revenge against a mysterious person. Sasuke has no other goal or ambition beyond that. Kakashi Hatake is the person that becomes the sensei of the three after they graduate from the Ninja Academy. With silver hair, sleepy looking eyes and a habit of being late Kakashi might not seem much but he has plenty of secrets. Then there is Iruka Umino.

Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke are put through a graduation test, by Kakashi, to see if they are worthy of becoming ninjas and his students. They are presented with the task of trying to retrieve two bells from Kakashi’s belt. This is no easy task since Kakashi is one of the most powerful ninja in the Leaf Village. On top of that only the two students who successfully retrieve the bell will graduate but there is a hidden motive beyond what they were told. Will they ever find out?

This personally was and remains one of my favorite arcs because this is the first time the I ever met the characters. I look back after reading the later chapter and realize how much they have grown. This arc has a lot of comedic parts that made me laugh and enough serious parts to balance them out. The art is simple and well-drawn.

This is a great read for anyone who likes adventure and manga. There are some fighting scenes but I would still recommend this to anyone over the age of 8. The only way to learn more about it is to read it! So read it and find out!

-Sarah J., 8th grade

Manga Introduction: Naruto, by Masashi Kishimoto

naruto_coverThis was my first ever manga I ever read. This is the manga series that got me hooked into the word of manga. Since then I have learned about many more.

Here are a few facts about Naruto:

  • Naruto was first published in September of 1999. It quickly became popular and now remains as one of the top 5 most popular manga in the world.
  • There are over 60 tankobon volumes(Manga books) each containing about 8-10 chapters per book. Each chapter is a full set of about 18-20 pages of black and white drawings.
  • Every week Naruto’s publisher magazine, Weekly Shonen Jump, publishes one chapter of Naruto.
  • Naruto, due to its popularity, has two anime series, both featuring over 200 episodes.

As you can see, Naruto is a rather large and popular manga series. In this manga series, ninjas are the ones who have most power in the land where the series happens. The series mainly focuses on Naruto Uzumaki, who is the main character. There are also many incredible main supporting characters.

-Sarah J., 8th grade