Manga Shorts

by Adam Arnold and Ridwan Khan

Chrono Crusade Vol. 1

by Daisuke Moriyama
ADV Manga / USD$9.99
Rating: 90%

Demons, nuns, and a whole mess load of action is what readers of Chrono Crusade can expect when they crack open this first volume. Sister Rosette and Chrono of the Magdalan Order are a pair of demon hunting exorcists armed with holy bullets and an uncanny knack for causing loads of property damage. Their mission is to vanquish lingering spirits, stop soul-sucking monsters from wrecking havoc on post-World War I America, and averting apocalyptic catastrophes caused by humans hell-bent on summoning up horrors from the deepest pits of hell.

Honestly, think Hellsing without the vampires and more comedy, and you pretty much have Chrono Crusade in a nutshell. Just donít confuse this series with Square Enixís Chrono Trigger series, because they share nothing in common aside from a similar logo and title. Donít let that stop you from grabbing this book because this is one awesome read.

ADV has done a much better job with this book layout-wise than they did with Desert Coral. Sound effect translations are nowhere near as noticeably intrusive to the reading experience, and the flow of the text just zips along naturally while reading. Letís just hope the anime gets brought over soon; I canít wait to own the DVDs.

Couple Vol. 1

by Jae Sung Park and Sung Jae Park
CPM Manga / USD$9.99
Rating: 71%

It's a story that has been told countless times before: boy moves to a new town, boy gets an apartment, boy meets girl, boy falls for girl. Only this time everything isn't all happy like Maison Ikkoku or even Oh My Goddess. In fact, our protagonist, Young Ho Han, isn't nearly as likable. In one breath, he can be as nice as he can be and in the next, he is utterly despicable.

The basic premise of the series is that Young has just moved into a new apartment so that he can go to college, and he happens to see a young lady named Yu Mi Yu being kicked out to the curb by the landlord because she can't make her rent. As it turns out, she somehow lost the $500 that her parents borrowed for her. Utterly depressed and with nowhere else to turn, she plops herself down on the curb outside the building and sleeps the night in the rain. Young gets worried about her and goes to check on her. He discovers that she has a high fever, so lugs her back to his room, where he undresses her and nurses her back to health. A classic premise.

If it weren't for the great artwork that Sung Jae Park provides to this series, the choppy and wooden translation would have made me drop this title all together. Luckily, the awkward beginning leads to some nice fan service and seeing Yu in a bunny hostess outfit more than makes up for any storytelling problems.

Desert Coral Vol. 1

by Wataru Murayama
ADV Manga / USD$9.99
Rating 67%

And the award for the most confusing opening in a manga series goes to...Desert Coral! Seriously though, if you can make it past page 20, the story really takes off. In the real world, we have Naoto, a high school student with a chronic sleeping disorder, and in the alternate world of Orgos, we have the female summoner, Lusia. For the longest time Naoto's dreams of Orgos had been your everyday pleasant experience; that is until Lusia somehow summoned him into her world to be her slave! Okay, slave might be a bit harsh, but he is now part of her group, the Desert Coral.

Why then would I say the opening is confusing? Well, every few pages or even panels the scene shifts between Orgos and Japan, and when the characters haven't even been fully fleshed out, things can get pretty awkward. ADV tried their best to make this series as easy as possible to follow with a nice crisp translation, but their page layout is horrendous. On one hand, every sound effect and aside is present and accounted for, but on the other, there is still Japanese text left in the panels. If the sound effects are vertical to the side of a character, then the English equivalent is overlayed horizontal on the character. Why not just leave it vertical and make the panels less crowded? The series has very little text to begin with and when there are large amounts of text, the extra Japanese text left intact just muddies up the page and hampers the intended speedy read through.

Lupin III Vol. 1

by Monkey Punch

Though Lupin III is a timeless Japanese pop culture figure, all of his adventures donít weather the years as well as Lupin himself. Case in point, Tokyopopís release of Monkey Punchís original Lupin III manga.

Perhaps a shock to fans weaned on Castle of Caglisotro, the original Lupin III manga looks like a lot of old manga; the character designs are odd and old, and the art is overly detailed. This may be a surprise to the smooth, minimalist style manga is generally known for. Additionally, unlike Caglisotro, (but similar to much of Lupinís manga and television escapades) some of the action in this volume is rather suggestive. This is not a book for younger children. However, this is our first introduction to Lupin, Jigen, Goemon, and Fujiko, as they spy, steal, and generally cause Inspector Zenigata to go nuts.

Yu Yu Hakushou Vol. 1

by Yoshihiro Togashi
Viz, LLC / USD$7.95
Rating 92%

It was only a matter of time before the Yu Yu Hakusho manga saw the light of day in the U.S., considering the push its had on the Cartoon Network and by FUNimation. The basic plot is the same as the animeís; middle school thug Yusuke Urameishi is run over by a car and taken to the Spirit World (i.e., the afterlife, heaven and hell, etc). There Koenma, the tiny boss of the afterlife, recruits him to a detective in the human world, offering him life again if he'll take the job. That setup, of course, leads to a myriad of Dragonball-style fights and tournaments.

Even those familiar with the plot of Yu Yu Hakusho will get something out of the manga. On paper, the story is more fleshed out and detailed, and the whole narrative seems to flow a bit better. Togashiís art style, alternately detailed and simplistic, seems to translate better into black and white manga, as well. For fans of the anime series, or even those who (like me) were a bit turned off by it, Yu Yu Hakusho is worth a read.

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