Review: Death Note Vol. 2: Confluence by Tsugumi Ohba
Title: Death Note Vol. 2: Confluence
Author: Tsugumi Ohba
Artist: Takeshi Obata
Series: Death Note Vol. 2
Genre: Supernatural thriller manga
Source: Public Library
Pub. Year: 2003
Purchase: Amz/ B&N/ TBD
Blurb from Amazon:
Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects – and he’s bored out of his mind. But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal…or his life? Light thinks he’s put an end to his troubles with the FBI – by using the Death Note to kill off the FBI agents working the case in Japan! But one of the agents has a fiancee who used to work in the Bureau, and now she’s uncovered information that could lead to Light’s capture. To make matters worse, L has emerged from the shadows to work directly with the task force headed by Light’s father. With people pursuing him from every direction, will Light get caught in the conflux?
Random: I love how I know what is going to happen yet it still as exciting as the first time I saw the anime.
An excellent continuation of the first volume and more intense than the last one. It is not as philosophical as the first because the manga is moving forward with the investigation into Kira.
The character cast is still the same with the added addition of Naomi Misora, the fiancé of Raye Penber. Raye and Naomi played an interesting part in this volume because Light ends up using both of them.
There are three main events in this volume. The first deals with Raye Penber and the FBI. The previous volume allowed Light to gain access to Raye’s name which is crucial if he wants to kills someone. Raye introduces the reader to Naomi whom he has a condescending attitude for. He is like “Be a housewife only, you can’t be a housewife and agent and don’t intervene with my case.” What a little chauvinistic man. We learn through a flashback how Light tricks Raye into writing down the names of the agents and later kills all of them. Light made sure that L could not track him to a specific agent but Light dealing with Naomi gave him away in the end.
Naomi comes into the picture because she is a former FBI agent and believes that Kira killed Raye so she wants to try to bring him down as well. She is a very smart person who figures out more about Kira’s methods of killing which places Light in danger if she can get the information to Kira Task Force. This leads to the most intense cat-and-mouse game ever… at least on Light’s part. It is so intense because he is desperately trying to gain access to her real name and how he convinces her, it’s pretty awesome. At the same time, I feel like Naomi was underused. She is a smart and strong woman and Light just kills her because she is a threat (which I understand) but there is no strong women in this series. I wish she had a longer or a more important role other than to make Light feel threatened. I really liked her character.
L or Ryuzaki as he would like to be called by the Kira Task Force is now dealing face to face with the task force. He is extremely logical and is well-prepared with neat gadgets like GPS belts for the task force. Naomi’s disappearance tips L that Kira had contact with Raye Penber because he believes that Naomi would never have committed suicide over Raye’s death. It leads to Ryuzaki placing cameras on the two families that Penber was investigating; the Deputy Director General and Detective Superintendent Yagami (Light’s father and head of the Kira Task Force). The cameras showed just how paranoid (or cautious, take your pick) Light truly is. Having little tricks that show if anyone enters his room.
The artwork is fantastic. It’s the same as in the previous manga. Light still has a somewhat innocence face. Ryuzaki looks childish in certain pages which hides his real age.
My favorite part of the volume is Ryuk panicking over the loss of his apples because apples are like cigarettes, very addicting. He is like “I’m not on your side but I will help you because I need apples.” Best source of motivation. I also did not know that he likes to play Mario Golf, that is so random that it is awesome.
Overall, this is a 5 Black Butterfly rating because it continues the excitement of the first manga and it is just as intense. Ryuk and Light are still my favorite characters.
79th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: Serial Killer, TV Addict, Second in a Series, M/GN/VG
Review: Wolf’s Rain Vol. 2 by Keiko Nobumoto
Title: Wolf’s Rain Vol. 2
Author: Keiko Nobumoto
Series: Wolf’s Rain Vol. 2
Genre: Science Fiction Manga
Pub. Year: 2004
Purchase: Amz/ B&N/ TBD
There is no blurb for this book so all I will say is “The epic conclusion to the search for Paradise ”
Random: Different ending in the anime and a different Blue. Watch the anime instead, it did come out first.
Wow. I thought the first book was fast-paced but it doesn’t compare to the second and final volume of the story. It is overloaded with information and action. It really should have had at least two more volumes.
No new characters were really introduced (except a few minor characters) but there is more background on the motivations of the characters. We learn why Quent hates the wolves and it has to do with his family. His background was well-executed for being a minor character. Darcia wants to open paradise for Hamona who was cursed by Paradise or the quest to find Paradise placed her in a coma. He wants to awaken her using Paradise but the manga doesn’t say how she entered a coma state. As a villain, Darcia has the interesting look but without knowing the story about Hamona, he is not a fantastic villain. She is driving force behind Darcia so it is necessary to learn about her in order to understand him. Cheza’s past is also reveal and she has a tragic story behind her but at the same time, it’s not her story as it is the story of those who created her. She didn’t suffered through the fates that they did but it is still very sad. I wish there was more details on Cheza’s creation and her powers. She is a creation of the Nobles to open Paradise but there is so much of Paradise that is left unanswered. What is Paradise exactly? How did Darcia obtained that special eye of his?
The elements of tragedy were poorly executed in this manga. There is not enough of a background on the characters for the readers to feel truly sympathetic. Quent’s background and Kiba’s background are the only stories that have a well-placed empathy trigger. Another well-placed trigger is Blue but that might be an anger trigger because Blue’s story follows a different path than the one she followed in the anime. It’s the complete opposite of her anime path so that is interesting and honestly, it’s a little hard to believe in…if the reader has a knowledge of how the anime goes.
I may not know a lot about art but I recognized a fatal flaw in the artwork. There is a specific scene where the original flower maidens died and formed a skeleton mountain. It’s supposed to be a beautiful but tragic death. The mountain looks nice but it lost the full affect of the beautiful tragedy when the mountain was split in half because the center of the mountain is the book bind. Only one side of the mountain is visible so it’s not as grandiose as it could be. That mountain should have taken up both pages or one full page where the magnitude and the tragedy of the deaths could excel.
While the tragedy aspects of this manga fall short, it is really great at wondering what Paradise can mean to anyone. Quent feels he lost Paradise with his family but then questions whether Paradise means humans helping each other. Not just humans but also wolves and humans helping each other. He is a character that has a complete transformation cycle. Darcia’s Paradise would leave everyone else behind so he has a darker view of Paradise. Tia, the flower girl that Toboe met, believes that Paradise can be created anywhere, that it is not a specific place. Her line of thinking is in like with Quent’s. One thing is clear that the majority of the character agreed that Paradise is about unity. The ending is quite nice (and different than the anime); there is a sense of hope that everything will work out. There is a final battle between Kiba and Darcia which is not as epic as in the anime but it’s still a nice battle.
In the end, this manga should have used a few extra volumes to hash out the details and the background of the characters. The artwork tends to have great facial expressions, especially the eyes, but there are just certain scenes that did not work. The majority of the artwork is solid and pretty good though. Read this manga as a companion to the anime but not as a standalone. Quent’s background and the idea of Paradise are what makes this manga worth reading.
78th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: M/GN/VG, Second in a Series, Science Fiction, Dystopia, TV Addict
Review: Trigun Maximum Vol 1: Hero Returns by Yasuhiro Nightow
Title: Trigun Maximum
Author: Yasuhiro Nightow
Series: Trigun Maximum Vol. 1
Genre: Science Fiction manga
Source: Public Library
Pub. Year: 2004
Purchase: Amz/ B&N/ TBD
Blurb from Amazon:
As an anime series, Trigun gained a multitude of fans across the otaku landscape before gaining a huge mainstream manga audience. Now, Trigun goes beyond the storyline laid out in the anime and the first two volumes of the manga into brand new territory! Our hero Vash the Stampede disappeared for two years after blasting a crater onto the moon orbiting the desert planet he saved from annihilation. But, with good and bad people alike trying to track him down he won’t stay lost for long! Count on more crazy gunslinger action, new dastardly villains… and a new outfit to boot!
Random: Again, I’m a huge fan of the anime , Trigun, that I had to pick it up and it’s a little different than the show.
First off, the manga doesn’t start with a bang but it does start with something similar because it is extremely fast paced. It feels like it’s the second or third volume of the series which makes sense since the series was cancelled previously and picked up by another company. Now, I have watched the anime before so I wasn’t as confused but even I was like “Whoa, this is dropping way too much information without the appropriate background info.”
Let’s meet the character cast. Vash the Stampede is the lovable blond who wants to lead a peaceful life but he is prone to causing massive amounts of destruction. He is an expert gun marksman and not quite human. Nicolas D. Wolfgang is a traveling priest who is a bit of a pessimist and carries a large (human-length) cross that is actually a gun. Meryl and Millie are insurance investigators who have a connection to Vash. The main antagonist of the series is Knives who is the brother of Vash and a ruthless murderer.
The relationship between Vash and Nicolas is quite interesting. Vash, according to the world is a trigger happy gunman, yet it is Vash who tells Nicolas “not to kill people” which is ironic because Nicolas is a priest. They are further contrasted in their beliefs about humanity; Vash is optimistic about humanity whereas Nicolas is cynical and doesn’t believe that they should help everybody that stumbles their way. Their conversations tend to be about morality and choices.
This volume sets up the future volumes of Vash and Nicolas searching for Knives but it also introduces Legato who is interested in Vash as well. The main event of the manga is a hostile takeover of a train between rival families who are seeking to control a plant. The Earth is essentially a wasteland and plants provide the energy for life on Earth so whomever controls the plants are powerful individuals. Vash becomes involved because that’s the type of person he is; he is the type of to intervene in problems in hopes of solving them a little more peacefully.
It further showcases two different perspective on Vash. There are those who see Vash as a destroyer of humanity but there also those who are friendly with Vash and understand that he is actually keeping them safe from his homicidal brother. Vash also shows his different sides, one as a funny and very cheerful guy. He is singing “La-la-la, Oceans of Blood” ( pg. 148) right before entering a hostage situation. His other side is the serious and deeply scarred emotional man that agonizes over the death of any human.
In terms of artwork, I like it. I love the funny faces and small caricatures. There is great detail on Vash’s red outfit. The majority of the solid black comes from clothing and hair. Overall, the art is well done. There is a sense that the Earth is a barren wasteland.
In the end, I’m looking forward to the next installment and seeing the reunion between Vash and Millie and Meryl.
77th in 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: Science Fiction, 1st in a Series, M/GN/VG,
Review: Wolf’s Rain Vol. 1 by Keiko Nobumoto
Title: Wolf’s Rain Vol. 1
Author: Keiko Nobumoto
Artist: Toshitsugu Iida
Series: Wolf’s Rain Vol. 1
Pub. Year: 2003
Purchase: Amz/ B&N
Blurb from B&N:
Four wolves on the run from mankind answer the highest, most dire calling-they seek the legendary Paradise. From the creators of Cowboy Bebop and Escaflowne comes this new manga take on the hit suspense anime Wolf’s Rain. Humans thought the wolves died off two centuries ago in this bleak post-apocalyptic wasteland. But some survivors lurk among the humans by mentally cloaking their animal bodies. One white wolf, Kiba, scours the land for the scent of the Lunar Flower that will lead them all to Paradise…
Random: Starting to notice a pattern. Watch anime, then read the manga version.
I love the anime of Wolf’s Rain so I had to pick this manga up. It’s a much faster pace than the anime though.
Character wise, the majority of the anime cast is present in the book. The wolf pack consists of Kiba (the emotionless but true believer of Paradise), Tsume (cynical of Paradise), Hige (always hungry) and Toboe (the kid). They are not best friends and just join forces because when you are being shot at, it’s the only rational thing to do. We have Detective Hubb Lebowski and his ex-wife, Dr. Cher Degre. Cher is the scientist who is analyzing Cheza the Lunar Flower and key to Paradise (so the wolves are tracking Cheza). There is also Quent the wolf hunter and his dog, Blue. They may play an important part later because he is determined to kill the wolves. The villain is Darcia who looks fantastic with his crazy porcelain mask and black hair flying everywhere. He is what a villain should should like. Strong and paralyzing. Everyone is pretty much interested in Cheza and her abilities.
What Paradise is..is Paradise like the Garden of Eden. The wolves are looking for it because they are near extinction. It’s not explicit as to why Kiba is looking for it but it could be a new home for the wolves because it looks like only wolves can track Cheza down. Cher has to analyze Cheza for the sake of science. What Darcia wants with Cheza is not explicit in the manga yet but like all good villains, I hope he will eventually reveal why he is after the Lunar Flower’s abilities.
Like I said, it is fast paced so perhaps not all the character are completely open to the readers. All the main characters are introduce right way but it is easy to keep track of them because they are drawn with unique features. The plot is pretty simple, everyone is looking for Cheza. They just want to find or have her. There are some minor sub-plots like Toboe meeting Tia and learning about the flower legend and the complicated relationship between Hubb and Cher.
Overall, it was pretty decent. It’s not a complicated plot, it’s just “Find Cheza.” All the characters are unique so there is not problem to identify them but they haven’t been given much of a personal background. They almost appear one dimensional but they are not. The art is amazing and so is the dialogue. The dialogue can be funny at times like Tsume saying that if they (the wolves) have to resort cannibalism that they shouldn’t eat Kiba because “he is full of crap.” I think it is hilarious; Tsume with his cynical and sarcastic is probably the best character of the series.
76th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: M/GN/VG, TV Addict, Science Fiction, Dystopia, First in a Series
Review: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Vol. 1 by Ichiro Okouchi
Title: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Vol. 1
Author: Ichiro Okouchi
Series: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Vol. 1
Source: Public library
Pub. Year: 2008
Blurb from Amazon:
In the year 2010, the Holy Empire of Brittania declared war on Japan. Powerless to stop them, Japan surrendered in less than a month. Freedom was lost and Japan was renamed “Area 11” and its people became known as “Elevens.” Lelouch is a Brittanian and his friend Suzaku, born an eleven, has achieved the status of honorary Brittanian. As a boy Lelouch vowed to crush his own government, but now seven years later and in high school, he’s accepted that he can’t change anything. That is until he meets a mysterious girl that gives him the power to control people’s minds – the power of Geass! He dons a mask and becomes the ruthless terrorist known only as Zero, destroying any who might stand in his path – including his boyhood friend Suzaku!
What you need to know: Political drama at its best.
Code Geass is one of my favorite anime, I love the show. I was thrilled to see the manga in the library so I had to pick it up. Wow, it is similar to the anime but there are differences.
First thing is first though, let’s meet our wonderful cast. Lelouch, as the blurb says, is a Brittanian who suffered at the hands of the Empire and wants to bring down the downfall of the Empire. He has a sister, Nunnally, who has health problems because of what the Empire did to Lelouch’s family. Suzaku Kururugi,an Honorary Brittanian, who is friends with Lelouch and works for the Brittanian military. He believes in changing the Empire from within. Kallen Stadtfeld, half-Brittanian, half-Japanese girl, who believes the Empire needs to be change by force. C.C is the being that grants Lelouch his Geass which he uses to control people. We also meet students from Ashford Academy (the high school Lelouch attends) but they are not that important yet. Still want to meet his Academy friends? Milly is the class president, Shirley likes Lelouch and finally, Rivalz drives Lelouch to his gambling games.
Plot-wise, it’s the same as the anime. Lelouch wants to bring down Brittania because he wants to avenge himself and his family. Once Lelouch obtains the Geass, he begins the process of acquiring his “chess pieces” to move against the Brittanian Empire as well as gathering information as to who killed his mother. There are two intertwine plot lines already being established which is fantastic. Prince Clovis mentioned another royal member, Prince Schneizel, who may know more about the death of Lady Marianne (Lelouch’s mother) so I’m looking forward to meeting his manga persona. Prince Schneizel is pretty awesome in the anime series.
There are major differences between the anime and the manga. One of them is how Lelouch discover who Kallen really is and what she does when she is “sick.” The very first time that Lelouch dons the mask of Zero is different and the event is more intimate but less majestic. New events have been added to the manga that were not in the anime such as the defacing of Prince Clovis’ statue and Lelouch saving Kallen while they were on campus. Certain events have remained the same like Lelouch’s interest in gambling, Prince Clovis and Lelouch’s showdown, and C.C’s appearance and gift.
Art-wise, I love the images. They are really defined with good solid lining. The inclusion of little funny scenes make the manga funnier than the anime and it’s a good dash of humor when the situation is dark.
Overall, I really like the manga version of Code Geass. The new scenes didn’t really bothered me and it makes the manga seem new because what happened in the anime may not necessarily pass in the manga.
73rd in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: M/GN/VG, First in a Series, Science Fiction
Review: Death Note Vol. 1: Boredom by Tsugimi Ohba
Title: Death Note Vol. 1: Boredom
Author: Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata
Series: Death Note Vol. 1
Source: Personal Purchase
Pub. Year: 2005
Blurb from Amazon:
Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects – and bored out of his mind! But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, and notebook dropped by a rougue shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal… or his life?
I love the Death Note anime so I had to read the manga that inspired it. I have to say, the anime stuck fairly close to the first volume of the manga.
Light Yagami finds a death note and starts using it to kill criminals of the world. He believes the world is “rotten place” so why not clean it up by getting rid of people who are guilty of committing crimes. His logic makes sense (at least it did to me). It also makes sense that he would do start killing people. His father is the commissioner of the NPA which is similar to the FBI so he is knowledgeable of the criminal system and how faulty it can be at times. In Light’s mind, he is not doing anything wrong; rather he is fighting for justice.
Light is an intelligent teenager. It shows in how gains access to his father’s computer, hence, why he knows the privileged information that only the NPA knows. He changes his tactics (not the method of killing) in order to get L to suspect the NPA of leaking information and L falls for it. Light goes out of his way to create a safe place for the death note. He creates a safe that will light up on fire if anyone tries to force their way in. He is calculating in how he outsmarts Raye in order to obtain his name because a name and a face are necessary to kill someone. If you don’t have one or the other, that person will not die. This fact was proven when L confronted Kira in the televised event.
The manga is fast paced. I think it cover about 4 episodes of the anime in one volume. Light wants the world to know that there is someone out there judging people for their crimes so he just kills people by heart attacks. The heart attacks become his signature move. The world ends up calling him “Kira” which is “killer” (that is not translation, Kira doesn’t mean killer, it just sounds like killer). Kira ends up confronting “L”, the world greatest detective who figures out Kira in Japan by broadcasting specific television events. It’s intense in the anime and in the manga (even if I knew what was coming). Raye Penber of the FBI is also introduced in the manga. Kira plants the seed of suspicion between the NPA and L so L has the FBI investigate the families of the officers.
Let’s talk art style because when it comes to manga, art is crucial. It was so strange to see Light as innocent face teenager when he first started using the death note. (In my head, he is always appears as he did in the final episode of the anime; manic and egoistical). I didn’t really care for the art. It wasn’t as dark as I expected it to be considering the subject matter. It was fairly light and soft except when it came to Ryuk, he was drawn with hard edges. It was still pretty good in bringing detail in to the pages. I like the fact that the rules of the death note are used as dividers between chapters. The basic rule is that a person whose name is written down will die of a heart attack in 40 seconds.
5 butterflies it receives from me. The concept if fantastic, the ideas spouted by Light and L make sense, and the storyline is pretty great.
26 in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: First in a Series, M/G/V Challenge, Serial Killer, TV Addict,
Review: Vampire Knight Vol. 2 by Matsuri Hino
Title: Vampire Knight Vol. 2
Author: Matsuri Hino
Series: Vampire Knight # 2
Genre: Manga, Paranormal
Source: Personal purchase
Pub. Year: 2007
Purchase: Amazon/ B&N/ TBD
Blurb from Amazon:
Cross Academy is attended by two groups of students: the Day Class and the Night Class. At sunset, when the students of the Day Class return to their dorm, they cross paths with the Night Class on their way to school. Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu are the Guardians of the school, there to protect the Day Class from the Academy’s dark secret: the Night Class is full of vampires.
Thoughts to ponder on: Why is the act of feeding a vampire real blood consider forbidden?
In the second volume of Vampire Knight, things start to unraveled and the world Hino is building shows more complexities than before. We learn of a vampire hierachy that consists of five levels. Purebloods like Kaname at the the top, aristorcrats are second, third are common vampires, fourth are humans that have been turned into vampires and the most dreaded of all levels, Level E for end (extinction). Level E are that vampires that were once humans but have lost their sanity so they go on killing sprees. I think the hierachy is interesting because the vampires of the Night Class have a disdain for the human-turned-vampires being which makes me wonder where do vampires come from? And what is a true Pureblood? Since the manga implies that Purebloods are in short supply.
Of course, there is always tension between vampires and vampire hunters, especially when one comes into the school. Yagari Toga is a vampire hunter and the former master/teacher of Zero before Zero’s family was murdered. Remember, Zero is now a vampire, a reluctant one, but still a vampire. What Zero is causes a lot of tension for Yuki because Zero is rejecting the blood tablets that are supposed to keep his blood lust at bay. She ends up committing the “forbidden act” of giving Zero her blood. Now, Yuki is trying to protect Zero from going insane and at the same time, keep it a secret from Kaname.
Yeah, there wasn’t anything groundbreaking in the manga. The Vice President Ichijo had a birthday party and Zero and Yuki where invited. Only after they were attacked by a Level E vampire in the city. That was interesting because once again, Yuki was incapable of defending herself against a rogue vampire. She does not appear to be a fighter at all.
My favorite scene is actually the short little bonus story after the novel has ended. In this scene, Kain calls Kaname a “gang leader” and Aido replies with call Kaname a “supreme gang leader.” Kaneme overhears this and decides to place a water-filled bucket on top of Aido’s head (and I find it hilarious). Supreme gang leader, that’s right.
20th in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: Second in a Series, M/V/G Challenge