Review : Bakuman.

Ever wanted to draw a manga? It's a lot more complicated than you may think. Follow the story of Mashiro (Artist) and Takagi (Writer), aspiring high school aged mangaka, on their journey to make a manga.

Mashiro likes to draw and he draws quite well, but he isn't overly keen about becoming a mangaka, a hard to get into and not overly well paid profession. Takagi a student in the same class, finds out about Mashiro's artistic abilities and attempts to push him into the idea of becoming a mangaka with him.

Mashiro also has a love interest named Miho, after finding out that she wants to be a voice actress, he accidentally proposes to her and she agrees to marry him if they can achieve their own goals but until then they can't see each other. So Mashiro and Takagi start the onerous task of creating a manga so popular that an anime adaption will be made so that Miho can star as voice actor in it.

Bakuman focuses on the production of the duo's varying manga titles. Including how it's planned, drawn and published as well as the loopholes, problems and competition that they have to deal with along the way. It's interesting to see how the manga creation is done, it's may also serve as huge wake up call as to just how hard and competitive the industry is, being able to draw well and write a good story aren't always enough.

Bakuman is written by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, the team behind the hugely popular Death Note title and as expected, is well written and drawn in Obata's usual top-notch style. Obviously the mangaka plot within their book is written with a degree of experience. There is no action, gore or smut, making the title widely accessible for any audience interested in the creation of manga.

Bakuman is a rather original title, with a perfect mix of seriousness, comedy and romance that will appeal to anyone who likes manga.

News : Shojo Beat discontinued.

Looks like the girl targeted english manga magazine Shojo Beat has just closed shop. With it's last issue hitting newsstands in July. Shojo Beat featured hit titles such as Vampire Knight, Honey and Clover and Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time.

Obviously this isn't a huge blow for the Australian audience as like with most manga magazines, we don't usually end up getting them here. They won't let us subscribe and the few places that stock them, sell them for a hefty price, but anyway, that's enough complaining from me.

One of the public relations people at Viz had this to say...
"Unfortunately in today’s difficult economic climate we felt the need to place our resources elsewhere at this time. Of course all of our great shojo manga titles previously serialized in Shojo Beat magazine will still be published and available as graphic novels..."

It's always sad see english anime/manga publications fail, as most seem to have done sooner or later, the only exception so far seems to be Shonen Jump.

News : Madman to release manga box sets.

Over the next few coming months Madman Australia will be releasing more manga box sets. You may, or may not have seen box sets for Death Note (containing all 12 novels) and Bleach (containing the first 21 copies, comprising the first story arc) already in stores. There's also a Fruits Basket box set floating around. Generally these are all quite a bit cheaper than if you bought each book individually. As it stands here's the current box sets and those that are soon to be released.

Already Available
Dragon Ball
Dragon Ball Z
Death Note
Fruits Basket

Coming Soon
.Hack//Legend Of The Twilight Bracelet
Absolute Boyfriend
Chrno Crusade
Venus in Love
Midori Days
Slam Dunk
Fushigi Yugi
Love Hina

These will no doubt be stocked in stores soon after release. I've already seen the Bleach, Death Note, Dragon Ball Z and Fruits Basket one in Borders as well as other assorted comic book retailers.

Review : Monster Hunter Orage.

Shiki is a newly trained monster hunter, out to prove himself. But he's a bit over energetic and people tend to avoid him, making it rather hard to join a group.

Lucky for Shiki he bumps into a snotty girl named Irie at the local monster hunters guild. Overhearing that she's not in a group, he just doesn't want to take no for an answer and follows her out on a mission, which she isn't too happy about.

Unfortunately though, the monster they're hunting turns out to be something a little bigger than they had planned, but when they're in danger, Shiki really comes through for Ire, not only carrying her out of harms way when she hurts her ankle, but also proving that he has some serious strength and skills. Skills which seem vaguely familiar to Ire for some reason.

Based on the popular video game series of Monster Hunter and made by Hiro Mashima, a well known mangaka. Monster Hunter Orage has some serious weight behind it. It's done in Mashima's usual style, which is much akin to Oda's One Piece. Shiki seems a little bit on the generic shonen hero side, nearly a clone of Luffy (One Piece's main character). Gore isn't really apparent and there doesn't seem to be any moments where their weapons visibly slice through any of the monster's they're killing, which is a disappointment as in the Monster Hunter games the blood just comes fountaining out. But obviously that wouldn't work with the shonen reader demographic though.

For a title based on a game, it's actually pretty good. It's a pity the author is busy working on other manga and only brings out chapters when he can. If your a fan of monster hunter you'll love this, if your not, then you'll still enjoy it none the less.

Review : The World God Only Knows.

A Japanese high-school student named Keima is known as the 'Capturing God' for his skills at being able to capture the hearts of any girl... well in dating sim video games that is. He isn't interested in real girls at all and not so surprisingly, they're not very interested in him either.

This title however, brings up some rather unfortunate events. Elsee, a young girl like demon from hell, forms a contract with him, mis-interpreting his skills. Elsee is charged with capturing the evil spirits that have gotten lose from hell, spirits that hide within the hearts of girls and the only way to get them out is to make them fall in love, which is where Keima comes in.

Threatened with attempting this task, or alternatively, losing his head. Keima reluctantly agrees and to his surprise, a lot of real life girls and events are just like this dating sim games, making them quiet easy for him to solve with his amazing otaku knowledge.

Obviously this manga title will lose some appeal on a western audience, as dating sim games really only have a mainstream following in Japan. If you don't even know what a dating sim is, it's probably best to give this one a miss, but for anyone else, it is funny and interesting, even if your not a fan of dating sims. The art is great, with the usual anime style. Violence is minimal, as is smut, which is rather surprising for this kind of title.

The World God Only Knows is an interesting and very 'different' kind of story, it's not usual to see shonen manga without any sort of real fighting going on. Well worth the read.