Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bite Sized Manga Reviews #2

Titles Reviewed:
Code Geass: Nightmare of Nunnally #1, Amnesia Labyrinth #1, and A Certain Scientific Railgun #1

Slather yourselves with the delicious goodness of Bite Sized Manga Reviews. I just finished an epic final exam for my Management Science class, so I have been very busy on my graduate school classes. Fall quarter starts at the end of September, so I have three weeks of vacation to mull around and do nothing, yeah right! On my docket I have work at my awesome job, a family gathering to attend, a concert with Gladys Knight, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Cedar Breaks, and Zion National Park, a Finance strategy meeting, Cherry Blossom Festival, and the Anime Expo Annual Staff Dinner. That is one heck of a vacation. Enough ranting and raving, here is Bite Sized Manga Reviews #2, featuring Nighmare of Nunnally, Amnesia Labyrinth, and A certain Scientific Railgun.

Code Geass: Nightmare of Nunnally #1
Published By: Bandai Entertainment
Cost: $10.99

This manga is a 5-volume spinoff of Code Geass, starring Princess Nunnally. The manga starts off the same way as the Code Geass anime, with Lelouch playing chess. After a set of events occur, Nunnally goes to the ruins of the Shinjuku Ghetto and makes a pact with Nemo and obtains the Geass to see the lines of the future. Upon using her Geass, a massive Nightmare encapsulates her granting her extraordinary powers. Nemo, the creature she makes a pact with takes Nunnally’s form and only Nunnally can see her. Nunnally’s friend is a blonde middle school student named Alice who protects Nunnally from bullies; she has a couple of secrets of her own. When I first heard of this “alternative universe” manga, I shrugged at the concept because it starred the little sister of the lead character in the Code Geass anime. While it wouldn’t be a bad idea, we have to consider that Nunnally is blind and cannot walk, so she makes an unlikely protagonist.

The art by Tomomasa Takuma is great, it definitely takes cues from the Code Geass style but it feels unique. While the art is great, the pacing could have been done better. It moves too fast in some areas that should be developed more and it moves too slowly in other parts that could be omitted. Bandai’s translation is great, with no major grammatical errors and the dialog moves naturally from one panel to another. Nemo definitely ratchets up the intensity of the story, and her dynamic with Nunnally is great. She protects Nunnally who is kind at heart, but she gains power from the darkness within Nunnally, so Nemo is in quite a predicament. I also have to point out that there is needless fanservice of Nunnally/Nemo of all characters, Nemo controls the nightmare completely naked, and keep in mind that Nunnally is only a middle schooler. As an anime fan I am used fanservice, but fanservice of such a young character is needless pandering to the lolicon market. While Nighmare of Nunnally is flawed, it is a great manga for those who want to see a different side of Code Geass.

 Positives
  • Great character design
  • A different take on the Code Geass Universe
  • Great Nunnally and Nemo dynamic
Negatives
  • Needless fanservice of a middle school girl
  • Story gets a little convoluted
  • Pacing could be better

Amnesia Labyrinth #1
Published by: Seven Seas Manga
Cost: $10.99

When this manga was announced, it caused huge waves in the anime world because the story was written by Nagaru Tanigawa, the novelist behind the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise. The manga centers around Shouji Kushiki, for reasons unknown he left his wealthy family to join an all-boys school. Upon returning, a spate of murders engulfs students in his local schools. The first couple of pages are the introduction to Shouji’s creepy sisters. There is Harumi, his “normal” stepsister who has a crush on Shouji. He has a little sister named Youko, who loves her brother way too much to be normal. Then there is Saki, his half-sister and lover who is the main maid of the household. I have to point out his sisters because in their own way, all three of them are genuinely creepy in how they present themselves. In his new high school, he gets suckered in by Yukako into joining in the intelligence committee to find out the reasons behind the murdered students.

This manga’s strong point is the quality of the writing, which is very good. The manga is a murder mystery, but there is more than meets the eye. The reader is presented with so many questions that by the end of the manga they leave with more questions than when they first started. The character dynamic between Shouji and the rest of the cast is great, he is a very interesting lead character who is extremely intelligent, a total misanthrope, and with some skeletons of his own to deal with. As great as the storytelling is, there are some misses. The manga artist is great in drawing backgrounds, but his body proportions for the female characters feels a little off. I can’t put my finger on it, but the manga artist could be a little bit more consistent. For those with low-attention spans, the slower pacing of the manga could turn lots of people off. The manga has lots of potential to be a very well-done mystery manga, and I look forward to see what will happen next.

Positives
  • Great storytelling
  • Wonderful Character Dynamic
  • Genuinely Creepy Cast
Negatives
  • Slow Pacing
  • Female Body Proportions could be better
  • Ends too early

A Certain Scientific Railgun #1
Published by: Seven Seas
Cost $10.99

Mikoto Misaka is the third most powerful level 5 in Academy City, known as the railgun. Everyone’s favorite tsundere from a Certain Magical Index gets her own story. The manga centers on Mikoto Misaka and her three friends, Kuroko, Saten, and Uiharu. Kuroko is her dorm mate with a real complex about Misaka. Saten and Uiharu are two low level espers who befriend Misaka. Having seen the anime about Railgun (and leaving disappointed) I was little weary about spending $11 of my hard earned cash for the first volume of the series. I can say that overall I am very pleased with the manga iteration of Railgun. While the story does feel disjointed, there is an underlying story arc that does pervade the first volume. There is a sense of cohesion in the storytelling that was suspiciously absent from the anime release. The manga art took some getting used to since it is not as good as the amazing anime art, but once you got used to it the art was pleasing to the eyes. Misaka makes a great lead character; she is resilient, charismatic, charming, and a total tomboy. For a very powerful person, she is very humble and kind, which makes her extremely likable. On the other hand, while I did like Kuroko in the Anime rendition, I actually found her quite unlikable in the manga. Maybe it is because she is more realistic and less of a comic foil, but it is for the better since she does get some nice character development. Overall, I believe that the manga is a far better version of the storyline, and I look forward to see what happens when the current story arc goes into overdrive.

Positives
  • Misaka is a great lead
  • Great character development
  • Art is nice
Negatives
  • Underlying story arc takes some digging
  • Kuroko gets downgraded

1 comment:

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