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Review: Bizenghast Vol. 1 by M. Alice LeGrow

Title: Bizenghast Vol. 1
Author: M. Alice LeGrow
Series: Bizenghast Series
Genre: Manga
Format: Paperback
Source:  Personal Purchase
Pub. Year: 2006
Purchase: Amz / B&N

Blurb from Goodreads:
Time passes in every town…except one. When a young girl moves to the forgotten town of Bizenghast, she uncovers a terrifying collection of lost souls that leads her to the brink of insanity. One thing becomes painfully clear: The residents of Bizenghast are just dying to come home

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What I like: Dinah’s lolita clothing=Beautiful. That is an amazing cover.

Dinah

If you like beautiful gothic drawing, ghosts and bold eyes, then this is the book for you. The gothic and dark elements of this manga are striking. I love it.

Dinah and Vincent, best friends, have to help the spirits of the dead find peace by breaking them out of their routines. Before they can even reach the spirit, they have to solves riddles. The riddles are pretty cool but I couldn’t solve them so that is awesome. Vincent is the one solves them and helps the spirits move on. This manga has four ghosts that Dinah and Vincent have to help. The first ghost has the best riddle and answer but it is the second ghost that has the tragic love story. The third ghost involves a drowning, it is a good storyline but not my favorite. The fourth ghost involves a quasi-wolf boy elements going on and it has a great image of Dinah becoming one with a tree. It is beautiful.

The people who are forcing Dinah to go a nightly quest to help spirits are the caretakers of the mausoleum/cemetery. Bali-Bali is a crazy spider lady; she is scary. Edaniel is another entity that belongs to the mausoleum; he is a Guard that is meant to help Dinah on her quests. He is a weird cat like being but he is so adorable and funny. Reminds me of the Cheshire Cat. He is helpful in explaining in more details what is going on. Bali-Bali was more frightening than helpful. Edaniel shows that there is more going at the mausoleum instead of just putting spirits to rest. I can’t wait to see the storyline become stronger and more concrete.

Edaniel

One of the issues I take up with this first volume is Dinah herself. She is a very weak character. I think it has to do with Dinah being depressed or sick but she just has no energy. I love her bold eyes but she has no charismatic personality. The one time she shows a backbone, I don’t believe her. Dinah has been close to useless pretty much the entire length of the manga that it is hard to believe that she would keep her contract with Bali-Bali when she is offer a way out of her contract. It does show Dinah could grow into a strong character later on but first, she does have to get physically and mentally better.

The art is fantastic but the storyline is not strong. Dinah, Vincent and any human are not strong characters; they are a little one dimensional. Edaniel is a fun character and I like him very much. I hope Dinah grows a backbone because she is the main character. I love her eyes.

4 BB-Ready for capture

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52nd in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: First in a Series, Ghostly, M/GN/VG

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Review: XXXHolic Vol. 1 by Clamp

Title: XXXHolic
Author: Clamp
Series: XXXHolic Vol. 1
Genre: Fantasy manga
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal purchase
Pub. Year: 2004
Purchase: Amazon/ B&N/ TBD

Blurb from Amazon:
Watanuki Kimihiro is haunted by visions of ghosts and spirits. Seemingly by chance, he encounters a mysterious witch named Yuuko, who claims she can help. In desperation, he accepts, but realizes that he’s just been tricked into working for Yuuko in order to pay off the cost of her services. Soon he’s employed in her little shop—a job which turns out to be nothing like his previous work experience!

Most of Yuuko’s customers live in Japan, but Yuuko and Watanuki are about to have some unusual visitors named Sakura and Syaoran from a land called Clow. . .

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Cover Love: It’s so pretty. I love it.

I love this manga. The characters are fantastic and the artwork is beyond superb. Plus, the cover and the inside of the manga have beautiful butterflies.

Let’s meet our main characters. Watanuki can see ghosts, it’s a family tradition, but he no longer wishes to. In order for his wish to be fulfill, he has to work for Yuko until the cost of the wish equals the act of not seeing ghosts. I liked him right from the start. Not only does he wear glasses but he acts so serious in comparison to Yuko that it just makes it funny to see what Yuko is going to put him through. We don’t delve too much into his background but we do get to see that he is believing in and trying to understand what Yuko is telling him about the world he has stumble upon. His crush, Himawari Kunogi, also makes an appearance. Not too much on her but she is cute.

Yuko is the wish-granting witch who has serious moments of philosophy and turns around with a funny comment. She walks the fine line of being a mentor and being a comedy relief. She is really funny with her childish antics and remarks; I couldn’t wait to see what her conversations would turn out to be. She is definitely a complex person who hides her past behind an aloofness about life. She is really beautiful but the beauty carries in a mix of power as well. She is not just a pretty face.

The first volume takes place during the course of two jobs that Yuko takes on which have to deal with bad habits. I love the philosophy that she spouts. Bad habits can only be broken by the person committing bad habits and only if they are doing it for themselves. Or else the person doesn’t really quit their bad habits. The consequences for not dealing with bad habits can be quite severe and damaging. I did like the moral compass of the manga even as Yuko left one of her clients to fend for herself. Yuko can’t provide much help if her clients are just going to sidestep her.

The artwork is the best feature of manga. The clothes are wonderfully detailed and I envy the long legs of Yuko (and her wardrobe). The shading allows for dark images that give the manga a gothic look. The manga has gothic elements such as the mysterious witch that Yuko is, mysterious and strange events happening, the blurring of established lines, and all of it happening at a mysterious home.

It’s an interesting quirk that Clamp references it’s previous work in the manga such Cardcapter Sakura with the mentioning of Clow Reed and having Sakura show up at Yuko’s place. I’m looking forward to seeing what type of relationship did Yuko have with Clow Reed, after all, she did call him a “creep.”

It gets 5 black butterflies from me.

5 BB- Total Keeper

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10th book in the 150+ Reading Challenge
Also qualifies for: 1st in a Series, Witches and Witchcraft, M/GN/VG, Where are you reading?-Japan

Reviews: Dark Shadows by D.J Arneson

Title: Dark Shadows: The Original Series Story Digest Interrupted Voyage
Author: D.J. Arneson
Illustrated by: Joe Carta
Series: Standalone
Genre:  Supernatural, Horror
Source: Netgalley
Format: Galley
Pub. Year: Feb. 15, 2012
Purchase: B&N /Amazon
I received this book free of charge from Netgalley in return for an honest opinion.

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What I will remember: A great mix of supernatural creatures.

I had to get this book from Netgalley, it’s Dark Shadows. It was a gothic drama on daytime TV in the late 60’s -70’s and again in the late-90’s. If that doesn’t captivate someone, Johnny Depp is playing Barnabas in the new Dark Shadows film by Tim Burton. My favorite combination, Depp and Burton.

Dark Shadows

Barnabas and Quentin

I absolutely love the artwork that accompanies the book. The art has an old feel to it which I love. It has very dark tones and shades. The best part is that it accompanies the storyline so the pictures capture moments in the story. Plus, all the characters are drawn there so there is no need for a physical description of them. It may have to do with the fact the story was written while Dark Shadows was on TV. I wished I knew what the art style was called so I could better explain it.

Story wise, I love it. It is a gothic tale through and through. We have Annabelle as the ghost, Barnabas as the vampire turned human, Angelique as the evil sister of Annabelle, and Calandra the witch. Oh, and Michael the zombie as well. The setting also contributes to the gothic feeling. It is a shore city where the inhabitants don’t trust strangers and are into burning at the stake. Plus, it is a tragic love story where the lovers (Annabelle and Michael)  are both dead and are trying to reunite with each other in the afterlife. A very lovely story.

The bonus features at the end is something that I really enjoyed. It mainly consists of the photographs of the original Dark Shadows with Jonathan Frid as Barnabas.  Some photos are of the cast posing for pictures and a few screenshots. Most are in black and white but some are in color.

Final thoughts on Dark Shadows, it is awesome. The artwork reminds me of the style use in comic books. It has an eclectic mix of supernatural creatures and somehow it makes sense for a witch to control a zombie. It is a gothic tale. Plus, Johnny Depp is going to be in the film adaptation and so is Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix from Harry Potter and Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd) but more important, Tim Burton is directing it. I totally have to see this film. The only thing that would make this film even more exciting would be having Alan Rickman in it. Oh, I love him.  Hmm, getting off topic. Um, this is a five for me because I’m a huge fan of Dark Shadows and the movie has me pretty hype up.

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5 BB- Total Keeper

Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows Photo Promo (from Teaser Trailer)