Review : Eureka Seven.

Eureka Seven is an original sci-fi story set in an alternative world, where strange coral formations bulge from the ground and invisible trapar waves that people can 'ride' with strange looking aerial-surfboards fill the air. Sky surfing looks like a ton of fun.

The plot of Eureka Seven is based around that of a thirteen year old mechanic apprentice named Renton and that of a mysterious young girl named Eureka who falls out of the sky (literally) quite early on in the story in an LFO (sky surfing giant robot ). Renton immediately falls head over heals for Eureka and ends up joining her resistance group called Gekko State. Only then to find out she has three kids... It's not really made clear what it is they're resisting or why the military is after them, but there's a lot of action, giant robot fights and laughs along the way.

Eureka Seven has a large cast of characters, the main character obviously being Renton a messy brown haired kid who doesn't know when to stop. Then there is Gekko State, which includes Holland, the swish dressing know-it-all captain. His girlfriend (?) Talho, the pilot of their ship. Eureka and her kids as well as a bunch of other minor characters who have their comical moments. Eureka seveN also characterizes a few antagonists, A young military officer and a strange long haired man who is foreshadowed at the end of the volume.

The art is great, everything is in proportion, the action sequences are well thought out and the character designs are all quite stylish. It's also nice that we get the colour introduction pages in the English copy, where as normally they tend to print them in black and white for us. Violence is kept to a minimum and most of the fighting is done by giant sky surfing robots. Even though the main character is 13, the story and themes are interesting enough that anyone of any age would be able to appreciate it.

Eureka Seven is a unique enjoyable story, full of action, comedy and interesting characterization. Even if your sceptical of giant sky surfing robots, I'd still suggest giving this a try.

Review : RedRum 327.

A group of college students go away to spend a weekend in a expensive remote villa. Things start going wrong, people start disappearing or worse... dying. This doesn't sound too out of the ordinary for a Hollywood style horror film, but RedRum still manages to deliver a unique experience.

RedRum's plot is basically that seven rich college students, all with successful parents, go on a retreat to a remote villa. There's all the stereotypical love triangles, romance and angst that goes along with these style of stories. Basically things start turning sour and people end up biting the dust. The difference between RedRum and your B-grade horror movies really lies in the fact that it's not an outside force doing the killing, infact it's made quite clear who's doing it from the start. The mystery lies in the why?

The characters in RedRum are all quite believable, if not once again a little stereotypical. There's the 'nice guy', the 'not-so-nice guy', the 'quiet guy', the 'cheerful girl', the 'not-so-cheerful girl' and so on. The characters seem to stay true to their personality placement. A long haired girl named Gahui seems to be the primary protagonist, she's nice to everyone and has some messed up flashbacks occasionally. The quiet glasses wearing Gihu seems to be another primary character, with some mention of an unexplained conflict involving him near the start.

The art in RedRum is actually above that of what you'd expect in a normal manga (or manwha), everything is drawn cleanly and proportionately in the normal style. The great use of shading helps it stand out and makes its art somewhat above average. There is only a small amount of violence and blood, so it's probably ok for anyone 13 or older, but it does have quite dark themes and the characters are rather old, someone 15+ would probably enjoy it more.

RedRum is an older teenage drama-horror-murder story which focus's more on why people are being killed than who is killing them. It's not the most original plot, but it's art is A+ and it's still an interesting read.

Review : Mail.

Being able to see dead people looked like it was pretty tough for that poor kid in the sixth sense, but in MAIL, the real issue is when the dead people see you, seeing them.

MAIL is about detective Reiji Akiba, a somewhat eccentric private eye, he has the signature waistcoat and tie of anyone who's in the 'bizz'. What makes him different from your average detective is what it is, exactly, that he investigates. Reiji tracks down wayward and harmful spirits, which he then exorcises with the help of his sanctified handgun, saving lives and burying the dead.

The graphic novel is in the story-per-chapter format. Each one introduces us to a new group of characters who find themselves in the midst of an urban myth or somewhat gruesome problem. All the plots and urban myths are very original and unique. The stories manages to grip you enough that you feel genuinely scared, if not for yourself, then for the victims in the story. The only real downside is that each really ends the same, with Reiji showing up and taking the ghost down. Except for a few of the stories, which gives us a view of Reiji's past.

This manga is by the same artist as the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. And thus has the same art style. Mail was however drawn at a later date and thus Yamazaki's art is a lot more consistent and clean throughout the entire volume than it was in the first volume of Kurosagi.
The plots and themes themselves are obviously for more mature readers, but besides a very small amount of partial nudity, I don't see any reason why a slightly more mature manga reader would enjoy it any less.

MAIL is a great read, if you like the horror-mystery genre, then this book is certainly for you. If you've never read a horror manga before this would be a great title to start with. It's a real pity there's only three volumes, as it's probably one of the best serious seinen (mature reader) titles available to an english reader, as typically they don't make it out of Japan.

Review : Hellsing.

This is one of those few and peculiar stories where the main character is in fact an anti-hero. Alucard is the Hellsing organizations pet vampire. An organization whos sole mission is to deal with other vampires, monsters and 'freaks'. Think they are kind of hypocritical for having a vampire to kill other vampires? The catholic church thinks so too and has a few things to 'say' to Alucard and Hellsing.

Volume one introduces us to Serras Victora, a blonde, large breasted somewhat ditzy police officer who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Alucard ends up granting her eternal life and she joins the Hellsing organization. A side story of the novel is Serras coming to terms with her vampirism, despite her appearance, she isn't over-feminized and remains her own character, unlike a lot of girl characters in manga. There is no fan-service, the story is too dark and serious for that.

The manga contains a good mix of seriousness and comedy, Serras usually providing the later, Alucard is a somewhat serious main character, but it's clear from the beginning that his state of mind is inhuman, as it should be. Alucard is quite insane, as you can imagine someone would be if they never died. He's just looking for some fun, a good fight and a lot of carnage along the way. He's not to be confused with 'A good vampire', he isn't there to save humans, he's there to get rid of the lowly 'scum' giving vampires a bad name.

The art starts off not being exactly great, but it has it's own style and the mangaka seems to quickly get better at it, by the end of the book it's all drawn quite well. Some of the full page cells look amazing. It's a very 'dark' book as you can imagine, it's refreshing to see London as a location as well, rather than Japan again.

Hellsing is one of the best vampire stories ever, it's dark, has alot of action, a crazy anti-hero and an insane anti-villain. The first volume was great and I recommend any male or female of around 15+ to read it.

Review : Mushishi

Mushishi is a collection of original Grimm style fairy tales that takes place in a pre-feudal Japan. Each chapter is presented in a very well constructed short story form, with only two similarities carrying through the series of different stories.

The first is a strange form of life referred to as Mushi. Life forms that don't really exist within our reality, but at the same time do. Those sensitive to the mushi are the only ones able to see them and thus a lot of people and children with this sensitivity are thought to be crazy. Mushi take a variety of different forms such as amoebas, single celled organisms, they can resemble human beings and some are even great creatures the size of mountains.

Mushi are not actually evil, they're not really sentient enough. Instead they're just like any animal or creature, doing what they can to get by. In doing so however they can cause dramatic, strange and often horrific incidents when they come into contact with human

The second connection between the stories is the protagonist Ginko, a one eyed, white haired mushishi. Basically a profession like a doctor, but for mushi related problems and conditions. Ginko is a mushi magnet, why isn't really clear, but it forces him to constantly travel the countryside, never stopping for too long. So he wanders from town to town, offering his services and helping victims of the mushi in every way he can.

Ginko is a somewhat mysterious character, he's very knowledgeable and seems to nearly always have some knowledge about what's going on. The most likable characteristic about him is just how far he goes to help those plagued by the troubles of the mushi, going to great lengths and putting his life on the line to help and save them. Future volumes will hopefully reveal more of Ginko's past and character.

These stories are obviously not aimed at younger children, having some quite strong horror themes, just like an original Grimm's fairy tail. A young teenager to an adult would appreciate the stories far more. 'A light behind the eyelid' is the story that won the manga award that is proudly displayed on the front of the cover. It's about a young girl who's eyes have been infected with mushi, and any sort of light, even with her eyes closed, causes her pain. How will Ginko be able to cure her? That's the other nice thing about this manga, the endings are never predictable, things rarely end with a "and they lived happily ever after".

Yuki has obviously mastered the art of short stories and Mushishi is an example of this art at it's pinnacle. A great read for anyone that enjoys a good story, not just manga lovers or teenagers.