Review : Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles.

In an ancient kingdom on a different world, a young princesses memories are forcibly taken from her by an unknown force and scattered across space and time to numerous worlds and dimensions.

Syaoran, a young archeologist, is desperate to save his beloved princess Sakura. In a bid to save her life he makes it through to another world to visit the space-time witch. She agrees to help, but only for a price. She gives him a rabbit like creature called Mokona, which has the ability to sense Sakura's memories as well as being able to randomly teleport to different worlds.

Now with a way open to him, Syaoran immediately embarks on an epic quest to retrieve Sakura's memories, which have taken the form of feathers on various worlds. Luckily for him, Syaoran is not alone on his long journey, he is joined by Kurogane a great warrior who wishes to return to his world and Fai a great mage who wants to do anything but return to his world.

Clamps character designs as per usual are top notch, setting a bar for other artists to aim for. Each frame is a work of art by itself. Drawn simply, but beautifully, which may be why Clamps titles are always so popular with girls. Fortunately Tsubasa is one of Clamps titles which contains enough interest and action to make it appeal to a male audience as well. Violence is all of a fantasy style, mainly involving magic, so it's relatively fine for audiences of all ages.

Tsubasa is a fine fantasy title and if anything like Clamps other titles will no doubt to be a long one. The selflessness of Syaoran really stands out amongst similar titles and will no doubt remain memorable. The ability to bring in different worlds and cultures will no doubt keep the series fresh for as long as it lasts.

Review : Buso Renkin.

Homunculus walk amongst us. Vile half human, half machine beasts who feed on living humans. Luckily alchemist warriors wielding powerful weapons known as Buso Renkins, work behind the scenes, protecting the unaware populace from their threat and culling their numbers.

After selflessly protecting someone who didn't really need saving from a homunculus, Kazuki, a male high school student is granted a replacement heart in the form of a spare Buso Renkin from alchemist warrior Tokiko, a serious girl with a mysterious scar across her face. Tokiko originally tries to keep Kazuki away from the world of alchemy, but his total disregard for his own safety whilst others are in trouble slowly drags him in.

Despite the serious plot, Buso Renkin is packed full of comedic moments, some in the right places, some not so much. For instance the primary antagonist has a very fruity wardrobe, which kind of undermines the serious plot earlier on. Nobuhiro is a seasoned manga veteran known mostly for his internationally successful series Rurouni Kenshin. His art is clean, vibrant and full of action. His character designs are alright, some are great, but as mentioned before some are also a little strange or questionable.

Tokiko's Buso Renkin named the Valkyrie Skirt is on the better side. The weapon starts as large metal rings around her thighs, when deployed 4 huge blades on the end of long maneuverable poles lash out, kind of like spider legs. It looks very cool and must have been insanely hard to plan or draw. There is a lot of violence and a tiny bit of gore, it is a battle manga, but it's all against monsters that barely resemble anything human at all.

Buso Renkin is an enjoyable and unique story, Kazuki's and Tokiko's relationship is a lot more in depth than your average shonen battle manga. The art is near perfect, the comedic elements and jokes are great, even the stranger characters end up growing on you later on in the series. Not a bad manga at all.

Review : Full Metal Alchemist.

Everything works on one principle, equivalent exchange, including the science of alchemy. When young boys Edward and Al Elreic lose their mother to an incurable disease, they attempt a forbidden human transmutation to bring her back to life.

They believed themselves to be prepared with all the elements of the human body on hand to exchange for their mother. They were wrong. Edward loses one of his legs and Al loses his entire body, in a final bid to save his brother, Edward trades one of his own arms to transmute his brothers soul into one of the armoured suits in the room. The two are left a sorry mess. One a young boys soul in a huge empty suit of armour and the other with two artificial limbs known as auto-mail, usually a sign reserved for war veterans.

With no hope of ever restoring their mother, Ed and Al set to putting things right, restoring their bodies. But for that they will need the legendary alchemist stone. Unfortunately for them, it's not just legendary, it's also more of a rumour, but this doesn't dissuade the boys, who set out on an epic journey chasing any leads they they can find. A lot of mysterious forces and obstacles stand in the way, a corrupt military, several homunculus and a man obsessed with wiping any signs of alchemy off the face of the earth. Even in the end, it's price may not be something the boys are willing to pay.

The art of full metal alchemist is of a standard anime style. The world is some sort of modern alternative dimension, different enough to be interesting, close enough to not need to explain what general objects are or do. The comic contains a lot of sarcastic humor to compliment the plot and will no doubt appeal to a broad audience. A caution though, Full Metal Alchemist does have some strong themes and scenes concerning parts of the story when human transmutation is involved, for example the very first page has a very vivid image of Edward dragging his bloody stump of a leg across the ground.

Full Metal Alchemist is an interesting and inspiring story of two brothers trying to right their own wrongs, along the way overcoming some huge metal and physical obstacles. Even though it is in a sense, fantasy, it touches on some very realistic issues that are in the world today, like religion, racism, war and the morality of science in general. Full Metal Alchemist is without a doubt one of the greatest and most unique stories ever written.

Review : Bleach.

After death, some souls linger in this world. Left to loiter and brood long enough and they turn into hollows, huge deadly masked creatures invisible to the living who eat souls and people alike. Unfortunately for high school student, Ichigo Kurosaki who can see ghosts, hollows prefer to hunt the those with a strong sensitivity to the world of the dead.

Soul reapers, dressed in black and wielding swords formed from their own soul are tasked with killing hollows and protecting innocents. Rukia, a female, dark haired soul reaper is tracking a hollow hunting Ichigo and his family. When things go wrong and Rukia is injured, Ichigo makes the choice to borrow Rukia's powers and become a temporary soul reaper in order to save his family. Afterward Ichigo is forced to take on Rukias soul reaper duties until she gets her power pack and unwillingly some of Ichigo's friends and schoolmates are drawn into the esculating conflict in the world of the dead. Unfortunately, Ichigo's borrowing of soul reaper powers also goes against the laws of the soul reaper society and when found out, Rukia is taken by her fellow soul reapers and found punishable by execution.

Ichigo is the primary protagonist of bleach, a 15 year old that looks more like hes 20. Ichigo has the typical "I don't know what I'm doing, but I will stand up for what I believe in!" attitude of most shonen jump heroes. When turned into a soul reaper Ichigo wields a gigantic blade to supplement his head-first attitude. Although bleach has a huge supporting cast, Rukia can be considered the main supporting protagonist. Shes short and overly serious but has a cute side displayed through means such as her terrible artwork and love of bunnies. She also actually looks like shes 15 but claims to be over 100 years old, quite the opposite of Ichigo. Other members of the supporting cast include Orihime, a shy, comical girl, who acts a healer. Chad, a huge Mexican with incredible strength and Ishida, a priest like archer who hates soul reapers a lot. The cast is rather varied and helps keep the manga interesting, as well as perhaps helping to draw it out.

Bleach's art and style relies more heavily on action and movement than on each frame being an individual work of art. Tite Kubo also has a good sense of style and shows in most of his characters, in particular what they wear. Besides the fashion sense, nothing really stands out about the art, but there's nothing drawn badly enough for you to stop reading, which in reality means the art has done it's part in telling the story efficiently. Since most of the fighting is not incredibly realistic and more often than not is against a fifteen foot monster, it can easily be read by a broad age group.

Bleach is a great modern world/fantasy cross over, it's has a broad range of characters all interesting and cool in their own way. The idea of sharing a world with spirits obviously isn't incredibly unique, but bleach still has a good go at the concept and obviously did something right as it is currently one of the more popular manga titles out there.