This week I’m going to leave the series I usually check out for what they are for now, focusing on some first impressions from the stuff that everyone has been recommending for the past month.
The Lives of Eccentrics – ch.01-02: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is getting a new anime. Now, I am not going to check out that behemoth of a manga for this, but its author did write a bunch of short stories, compiled together in The Lives of Eccentrics. The first two chapters are this extreme look on the life of baseball player Ty Cobb, who is seen as one of the most legendary players of all time. Think of a recollection of the most hot blooded chapters of his life (and this guy was violent). It’s a good character-study, and it definitely has the kind of passion in it that makes me curious what Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure will be about. Again though: baseball scenes seem to miss something if they don’t move.
Skyhigh – ch.01: This one is by the same author of Hito Hitori Futari, and you can definitely see the similarities in both the art style and themes. This series too focuses on a depiction of the afterlife, only this time it’s straight up horror, and this first chapter immediately delved into the disturbing images and scenes. Overall, I think I prefer Hito Hitori over this: it had more charm and personality, while this was trying to go for the shock factor a bit too much too fast.
Coelacanth – ch.01: This one’s a mystery story. For the largest part of this chapter, I didn’t really know where it wanted to go: it had this story here about this dead teacher, but the main characters didn’t really seem to be related to it. After that though, it went into a completely different direction that made much more sense, but it at the same time used a lot of commonly used tropes, while the first half had that much less. Most of this first chapter was building up. It did that nicely for the female lead and did well in showing her state of mind. Plus, there is that sheep.
Olimpos – ch.01: As the title might suggest, this is about the Greek gods. In particular, it’s a shoujo-esque story that bishifies a few gods, like Apollo and puts a random Christian Japanese guy in the middle of it. His role in it is rather questionable, but this opening chapter did have a bit of a weird premise, in which this guy actually had to try and convince a God to cooperate. The second half of the chapter did quite well and put some emotions into it, although it still was a bit too angsty for my tastes. There may be a good explanation for this, though.
Sheet no Sukima (Oneshot): This week, I’m checking out lots of different chapters on a whim, based only on your recommendations over the past weeks. This one was among them. It’s about the sexual relationship between a worker and her boss. Imagine the worker as the female version of those horny male leads of fanservice shows, only she actually dives straight into sex. This… definitely was something different. But, to be honest, this was quite hilarious. The mind of the author was very clearly in the gutter, but the jokes were very well delivered and this actually played with its mood quite effectively, being hilarious one page, then completely neutral the next, to actually quite dark near the end.
Kare no Satsujin Keikaku (Oneshot): Okay, so I failed to get through Bokura no, but Mohiro Kitoh also wrote a bunch of short stories. This is one about a Light-esque high school boy who wants to kill someone. This isn’t like Death Note where it turns into a cat and mouse game, but he definitely is brilliant, and this short story details the steps he takes to achieve his goals in nice detail. Nice ending as well.
+Anima – Ch.01: This one is a bit longer than the others I’ve checked out this week (currently there are already 10 volumes out), and it’s a shounen-esque adventure story with main characters who can transform into half-animals. It’s got themes of oppression and cross-dressing in it. This one is pretty whimsical, with the usual spunky lead character and more serious side-character, but it has potential. They’ve got a nice chemistry together, but I do wonder how long it will take before this series will get anywhere.
The Music of Marie – Ch.01: My purpose of this week is to check out as many different first chapters as possible, to continue with the ones I like best next weeks. So far, The Music of Marie is the one I like best of this bunch, due to the detail it provides on its setting, in just its first chapter. It’s both creative and well fleshed out. The main character has an interesting ability and the characters so far are colorful, yet believable.
Shingeki no Kyojin – Ch.01: The one who recommended this put a note next to it, saying “giant killing”. Silly me thought that that meant that this was a sports series in the same vein as Giant Killing, instead of… killing actual giants. The art in this one is really weird: one panel it’s really good, and the other it’s really bad. What bothered me the most was the speed-lines it abused during random panels. The setting for this one has potential, although the main character is waaaay too naive for his own good.
I am a Hero – Ch.01: Here is one that kept returning on the lists people recommended to me, and I can see why: this one is really well drawn. It’s not the individual drawings that impressed me, but rather how every panel shows the main character from a different angle and with a different facial expression, and all of them are well-drawn. I have no idea what this is about because it’s just 40 pages of a guy sitting in his room, but I like that idea a lot.
A Lollipop or a Bullet – Ch.01: The title of this one contains two things that are completely different from each other, and that also characterizes the contents of this first chapter: it starts off in a perfectly normal setting, about an ordinary schoolgirl who wants to join the military. And then, wham: mermaids! It’s a bit of a weird mix, and eventually this showed its colors as a coming of age story, but the author did create a very good introduction chapter here that served its purpose in making me curious by using vague but meaningful foreshadowing.
Ludwig Revolution – Ch.01: With all these seinen manga, I wanted some change of pace and check out more shoujo-series, whose style I really enjoyed so far. Finding some good recommendations was difficult though, especially since I didn’t want to go with manga versions of anime I had already seen (Please Save My Earth and Amatsuki indeed are brilliant, but with this experiment I really want to check out new stuff). My eye then fell on 7 Seeds, but that one is way too damn long right now (22 volumes!). My eye then fell on Ludwig Revolution, a manga that aims to perverse famous fairy tales. This first chapter was about Snow White, and it changes around roles, while also being faithful to the original story by the Grimm Brothers on other points. Especially that Prince was hilarious, and I like a lot how detailed the art is; together with the dialogue it told a very good standalone story and the flow between panels may not have been as good as with Shimizu Reiko’s stories, it still felt engaging. It’s all quite dark for a shoujo-series, but that definitely gives it extra charm.
Iguana no Musume (Oneshot): This is a very weird one-shot, about a girl who is born as an Iguana. We actually get to see the first thirty years of her life and how she grows up. What really struck me was her relationship with her mother that deals with things as favoritism and parental abuse. It was quite emotional and well done, and also had a pretty great ending.
Haruyuki Bus – Ch.01: This manga is supposed to be a collection of the essence of shoujo manga, but I didn’t really like it. This first chapter suffered from a lack of dialogue: people hardly said anything meaningful besides three-word sentences, and it all felt disjointed because of this. On top of that, the story is just too average: there was nothing special about it, it’s just another shoujo romance, and not a good one at that.