Thursday, March 2, 2017

February Manga Challenge 2017 | Week 4

The challenge put out by YouTubers @YuriInRealLife is super simple:
1. Read one volume of manga (or the equivalent) every day for the month of February. 
2. No skipping days. 

Check out their full video here: YuriInRealLife's February Manga Challenge

So here is my last post for the February Manga Challenge 2017, and while I did not successfully complete the challenge, I did read the most manga I have ever read in one month.  I also made a significant dent in my TBR pile.

Here's what I read in Week Four:

Monday 2/27/17

Natsume's Book of Friends, Vol.1
Yuki Midorikawa

Rating: 5/5

I have had a nonsensical phobia of starting long running manga or anime series for the longest time. I feared that if I was investing my time into long running series, I would have less time to try out many different series.  And therefore, even if I thought I would enjoy them, I'd put them off.  

But, I'm over that now >.<

I've gotten burned one too many times while 'exploring' different manga series, and now I just want to go after some quality reads.

Natsume's Book of Friends is first up on that list.  I wanted to read the manga before watching the anime, and I'm glad I did.  This manga is engaging, funny, and really well paced.  The storytelling is episodic, but because the plot is so strong it does not feel choppy or purposeless.  By the end of this first volume I had a very strong sense of who our main characters were and what the theme of the series will be.

Natsume is a protagonist with great empathy, and you can tell from this initial set up that he's going to be self sacrificing in his quest to return names to the yokai bound by the book.  I'm certain that throughout this series the life experiences of each yokai will bring new perspectives to Natsume and fill up his once lonely life with new meaning. 

The magaka has an art style which sometimes looks sketchy or incomplete.  Lines are lighter and finer than what I am accustomed to seeing in manga, but rather than detracting from this, I was drawn to it.  I thought it added wonderfully to the atmosphere which encompasses an other worldliness.

The stories in this first volume had me tear up--twice.  I'm so happy I enjoyed this manga as much as I had hoped I would.

Alice 19th, Vol.1
Yu Watase

Rating: 3/5

I found this manga series complete at a used bookstore and took it home with me.  Previously I did not have an interest in any works by this mangaka because, truthfully, I find her art style to be quite jarring.  However, my friend Amara loves Fushigi Yuugi with a passion brighter than the sun, so I must give it a try.

As for Alice 19th, I liked volume one.  I thought the story and characters were solid.  The supernatural element is interesting, and I'm a sucker for anything with an Alice in Wonderland motif.

Alice's struggle with being too kind, and too forgiving, to the point of her own detriment is a great backstory for a female shoujo protagonist because it gives her something to overcome beyond just getting the guy.  Her struggle with her sister is also refreshing because even the resentment and frustration is grounded in love.

As for the art, I am acclimating to it, and will hopefully come to appreciate this style. 

I'm still not certain what a Lotus Master is, or what they do.  I'm giving this first volume a lukewarm rating because I do not feel confident that it accurately set up the series to come, but I am happy to find out in volume two.

Tuesday 2/28/17

20th Century Boys, Vol.1
Naoki Urasawa


I enjoyed this way more than I initially expected to.  I assumed that it was going to be masterfully crafted and that the characters would be fully fleshed out, but I did not think the subject matter was going to work for me.

And I was partially right.  Certain aspects of this story remind me of The Goonies (1985), The Sandlot (1993), and Stand By Me (1986).  All of those movies have a very similar aesthetic and tone of boys just being boys on an adventure together...and I don't like any of those movies.  They bore me.

However, what I did not realize was that in this manga that childhood story would be told in flashbacks, and that the present day situation would include a cult conspiracy and possible robot invasion.  Bodies are being drained of blood, the police are unable to locate missing persons, and people everywhere are acting strange all because of "their friend".

I don't know when I'll get my hands on volume 2, but I definitely want to see what happens next.

Alice 19th, Vol.2
Yu Watase

Rating: 3/5

We get much more explanation of what a Lotus Master is in this second volume, along with a whole bunch of typical shoujo silliness.

The addition of a new male character was unexpected, but pretty funny.  He seems like he will be a foil to Kyo's character.

This series is reminding me of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles because of its characters and tone, and also QQ Sweeper because of its plot.

Well, that's a wrap!

I'd be willing to give this challenge another go in the future.  Besides lowering my TBR pile, it also gave me an excuse to write some manga first impression reviews.

Thanks for reading!