Maga Tsuki

magatsuki

Yasuke lives at a shrine with his mysteriously amazing older sister.  One day he’s left alone with his childhood friend Akari, whom he was long been in love with, and plans to finally confess to. However, before he can do so, he accidentally breaks the shrines divine mirror, causing the clumsy but kind goddess of misfortune sealed in it, Orehime, to be released and Yasuke to be cursed. The way the curse works, is that his soul is separated from his body, flying into whoever seems to have the strongest feeling for love for him at the time, with at that moment being Orehime. Yasuke must stay in physical contact with, such as through holding hands, with the person his soul is in, or he’ll begin to die. If that occurs, within a limited time frame, he can be brought back from that point, however that involves being kissed by whoever has possession of his soul. Furthermore, the the condition for lifting the cure is fully making Orehime happy. Hence, his life of sticking very closely to Orehime begins. But that’s not all. His soul flies towards whoever has the most love for him, and since Akari too has feelings for him, sometimes it flies towards her, hence resulting in him having to stay in close contact with her too. Then Orehime’s more strict and serious sister, Amaterasu  appears, originally to bring back her sister, causing her to curse him with the same curse as well at some point now related to her happiness, but she falls in love with Yasuke as well, resulting in her also ending up as part of the fold. And then Yasuke ends up praying to a goddess that hadn’t been prayed to in a long time, Izuna, with his worship being the only thing tying her to the world, which resulted in her also falling for him, thus she also joins the group. He also seems to have made some promise to another shrine maiden at some point that also comes into play. Hence, Yasuke’s begins the difficult task of balancing being in love with Akari while also trying to make the two goddesses Orehime and Hina happy to lift a curse and also keeping up affection for Izuna so she doesn’t disappear, all the while dealing with the normal things that high schoolers have to deal with as well as a bunch of supernatural matters related to goddesses.

***

There’s a lot about this manga that’s standard harem rom-com fare, with the overall plot falling very much exactly into this. However, the exact mechanics of how it works, in relation to the soul and having to be in contact with each other, is quite interesting, and combined with a cast of characters that work very well around it, it becomes tremendously entertaining to watch unfold. How quickly and easily they fall into a sort of pattern where they’re all interested in the protagonist but also good friends was quite interesting from a character and relationship development point of view. The various escapades slowly building up to an expected but solid ending also worked quite well in a way that isn’t tremendously memorable, but entertaining in a laid back sort of way. Though there is the issue that it does get somewhat repetitive at point, both in terms of the events occurring and the humor used within them, and thus feels like it’s not really going anywhere at times. Also there are some very awkward aspects to the relationship, primarily the main character not actually loving all of them, or at least not admitting it, which makes everything feel sort of off. Still, if not taken too seriously it’s a solid read. The art in terms of style was pretty good and there were a lot of good shots, but in terms of quality it felt only decent.

A manga that isn’t incredibly memorable and very much by the book in terms of what you expect, but is solidly amusing nevertheless.

8/10

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Gion no Tsugai

gionnotsugai

In Japan, for some reason people, mostly women though some men as well, began to gain the ability to use divine power. One such person is Gion, who while going to school finds a random girl, who vows to be his bride. However, she seems to have connection to the power of Orochi, a power that consumes divine power users and cause them to go berserk, which results in a number strong enemies coming after them. But as she’s his ideal girl he vows to defend her, as she also goes about her goal of purifying items related to Orochi.

***

This manga starts off somewhat feeling like it’ll turn into a battle manga, and I guess to some light degree it does considering most of the manga involves battles. The battles are very different from other battles for the most part in that they’re not supposed to be exciting or have great action, but are rather intended to be amusing. The battle system has no depth whatsoever, and the battles instead primarily involve  comedic nonsense, primarily centered around fanservice, not just in terms of how battles play out, but also in terms of what the characters are fighting for in the first place. That it goes all the way in that is actually pretty interesting, and since it’s quite funny it works well, especially with the ridiculous dialogue. In terms of characters and relationship development, there is some that comes about as a result of various twists, and though it felt pretty generic, it was sweet enough that it was nice. In terms of plot it goes all over the place and produces an axed ending, but the plot never really mattered in the first place, as you should be able to tell from my halfhearted summary, so that honestly doesn’t even feel that disappointing. Honestly, if it was longer than it might have started to get boring as its style is one that could certainly overstay its welcome if it went on too long, but as its short it manages to end before it does so. The art is also incredibly good, possibly good enough to be worth reading for it alone.

A manga that’s pretty much just fanservice and absurdity, but is amusing in being just that.

8/10

System Engineer

systemengineer

Oka has been riding the same class to his university for the past couple of years, and he often sees a girl sitting in front of him reading complex programming books. As he’s a computer science student, he takes a strong interest, but never musters up the courage to talk to her. On the last day of university, he finally musters up the courage to talk to her, but ends up bumping into her causing her to drop her things. She helps her pick them up but discovers she had a… onahole. She runs away in embarrassed tears, and Oka resigns himself to the fact he’ll probably never see her again. He goes to work at his new company, Peach, where he is to work as a system engineer. However, he discovers that the girl is the president of this company, a prodigy at programming, and that furthermore the onahole was the product they were developing.

***

This is a manga that is a mishmash of a lot of things that normally you wouldn’t think go together. It has a plot that’s equal parts design story and rom-com, with the central themes being programming, onahole, and incurable diseases. Now while you would think that these things don’t go together well at all, they surprisingly do go together better than I thought, though still not all that well. The incurable disease aspect especially felt completely out of place, and while it didn’t have much focus given to it for the most part, the parts where it did come into focus felt wildly out of place. In terms of romance and design story, its decent enough. It does a good job with all the standard elements that go into such plots, and ultimately brings both of those to a pretty solid ending. However, even with that, there wasn’t much character development beyond the main character, and while relationship development did occur, much of it wasn’t built up all that well. Still, while severely lacking depth, due to the subject matter and how it was portrayed, with a strong dose of comedy throughout, it was quite amusing. The art, style, and framing were all decent, though it was kind of strange how serious the art seemed to be considering the subject matter.

A weird combination of elements that come together in a manga that is strange but somewhat amusing.

7/10

Sankarea: Undying Love

sankarea

Furuya is a high school student that for as long back as he can remember has been obsessed with zombies. He’s played all the games, watched all the movies, and has a room full of stuff related to them. However, he’s only been interested in them from a fictional point of view. That is, until his cat, Bub, dies in an accident. Furuya finds a strange book that seems to describe how to create an elixir that can be used to create zombies. Though he has trouble understanding everything it says, particularly what it is referring to when it refers to a poisonous plant, he does his best to create an elixir to bring Bub back to life. As he obviously can’t do this at home, he makes his base of operations in an abandoned building. However, there’s an issue in that a girl named Rea, the daughter of the prestigious Sanka family, also comes to those ruins sometimes, simply so that she can yell out her worries and such without anyone hearing, as for someone living as restricted and high class a life as her, she must hold all of those emotions in normally. And eventually, she finds they come into contact. Rather than run away, as Furuya expects, she volunteers to help him.

However, Rea sneaking out of the house draws the attention of her control freak father, who places her under house arrest completely, even barring her from going to school and such. Being someone who’s primary desire is to live as a normal girl, rather than face such a caged life, she instead opts for death, drinking the last potion they had made and she had stole some of, which while not having shown signs of being effective in reviving, has poison in it so it should at least be effective in that sense. However, she doesn’t seem to die. Furthermore, she overhears that her father seems to be planning to do something to Furuya as well. Dreading being the cause of Furuya coming to harm, she sneaks out of her house, to find Furuyu and warn him. However, upon finding him, her father does as well, resulting in conflict, that ultimately results in Rea falling to her death. But, she doesn’t stay dead for long. It turns out the potion was effective, with Rea reemerging as a zombie girl, and one whom Furuya vows to take responsibility for. However, things get more complicated, when it turns out that Furuya’s senile grandfather was the creator of the elixir they had used, and that an organization dedicated to zombie research was very much interested in his research, and hence Rea.

***

This manga had an interesting premise that allowed for a very interesting combination of romance, comedy, and horror. The horror stemmed from the zombie aspects obviously, and was there in bursts throughout. However, for the most part it still felt like the overall tone was pretty light and comedic, which when combined with zombie related matters still being at the forefront resulted in a pretty unique type of dark comedy that worked really well. I should note though, that I felt that it was best when the horror aspects came in short bursts, taking a backseat to the other matters, which is how it was for the first two thirds of the manga mostly. The last third focuses much more on the horror aspect, going far more into the back story related to zombies and such, and while decent enough I felt it was a lot less enjoyable to read than the more romance oriented comedy story of the first two thirds. What made the first two third tremendously good is that it has a very interesting cast of characters interacting with each other in very interesting situations. There was an undercurrent of having to deal with zombie matters, but that was only the foundation for the two amazing main characters as well as a solid cast of side characters to get involved with each other in various ways. In terms of romance, I thought it was quite good. Just the general concept of a romance between a zombie girl and the guy who brought her back to life is quite interesting, and combined with the girl just wanting to live a normal life I think it worked tremendously well and produced a story that had a lot of great character and relationship development. However, the manga completely screwed that up in a sense towards the end, when due to memory related hijinks the relationship development completely collapsed. In manga’s that are oriented around relationship development, which is what I felt this was, relationship regression in such ways is something I absolutely hate, and hence I didn’t like this aspect at all. Furthermore, this seems to last all the way until the end of the manga, upon which there is an ending that doesn’t seem to wrap up the romance satisfactorily either. Rather, it pretty much leaves the ending tremendously up for interpretation. I don’t mind that to some degree, but here I felt it went way too far in that regard, and just overall left an ending that felt half done. So ultimately, while I felt the plot started out great, it ended up going in a different direction and focusing on things I didn’t care as much about, ultimately resulting in an ending that was tremendously unsatisfying. The art I should note however was very good throughout.

A manga that starts out interesting being about the romance between a zombie and it’s creator, but ends up going in a different direction and abandoning its roots in such a way that it collapses towards the end.

8/10

Umi no Misaki

uminomisaki

Due to various circumstances, Nagi returns to the birth place of his mother, the tiny island Okitsushima. Upon arriving he meets a resident girl, the kind and beautiful Shizuku, who helps him reach a place he had been hoping to see for some time, the cape of the sea. They part, and he then goes on to his new home, where he ends up accidentally peeping on his neighbor Karin changing. The misunderstanding leads to some conflict between the two, but overall his neighbors (Karin, her sister Rinne, and their grandmother) are quite nice, which is helpful as he is going to be living alone. The next day he goes to school, which he finds only has 16 students, including both Shizuku and Karin. He calls out to Shizuka, happy to meet her again, but is immediately met by a cold response saying she doesn’t know him. Furthermore, that he called out to her seems to shock most of the other students, and seems to annoy another girl named Soyogi quite a bit. Nagi is quite confused by what’s going on, having only heard that it’s due to Shizuku, Soyogi, and Karin having unique positions having to do with island traditions, but isn’t given more information than that. However, he gets called out in the middle of the night to a festival where he sees all three of them in action is shrine maidens, who are meant to perform rituals and serve the Dragon God. Afterwards, he is called into the shrine, where alongside the three maidens, he is informed that he is the reincarnation of the Dragon God, to the shock of all of them. Furthermore he has until the end of summer to get close to and pick a girl from among the three maidens.

***

This manga is interesting in that it has a lot of interesting aspects, but is also quite strange. A lot of the strange aspects come from the premise, which is centered on tradition and folklore, but also eventually gains a bit of supernatural elements. While it does set up the characters and their relationships with each other pretty well, when it comes to the forefront to a greater degree, particularly when involving the supernatural elements and the ritual, it feels very awkward and off. Still, while quite unorthodox, the character and relationship development was quite good, and though I can’t say that there was any character that I was especially fond of, overall they were a pretty decent cast. Shizuka’s development was the most interesting, in that she changed the most but in ways that felt right. Soyogi changed quite a bit, and though I would say her development was more interesting, it felt more haphazard and not as well established. Karin didn’t really seem to change much until the end until she went through a major change, but it felt completely out of nowhere. The protagonist felt sort of flat, and more just a conduit for everything than having a well-established personality, though I suppose that was fine as he helped the other character’s stories along. In terms of the plot, it started a bit weak, but started ramping up as it got to the middle up until the end of the Dragon Festival, however afterwards it felt like it dropped the ball a bit. There are a good amount of chapters that occur after the climax of the manga, however it feels like those chapters weren’t used as well as they could have been, not really adding much, and the manga still ends in a way that feels kind of rushed and without enough impact, which considering the wasted chapters in the end is even more unsatisfying. There were also issues all around with the manga feeling like it was paced very slowly. The art style and framing was decent enough, but I felt like it was lacking a bit in terms of art quality outside of important shots like the covers and color pages.

A manga with interesting characters in an interesting premise, but with weird pacing and an ending that lacks impact.

8/10

GTO: 14 Days in Shonan

gto14

At one point, Onizuka disappeared for 14 days during summer break, because due to various circumstances he had to lie low. However, later on, well after he returned, his students find a wanted poster of him, and ask him what exactly happened over those fourteen days. And so he tells them.

He returned to Shodan, where he grew up. He didn’t have any plans about where to stay, he just wandered over. However, while there, he ends up seeing a girl shoplifting, at which point she accuses him of groping her, and he ends up going to the police station. However, a woman, Ayame, vouches for him as a witness, and he’s released. Ayame apologizes to Onizuka on behalf of the shoplifting girl, because she’s one of the girls that lives with her in the foster home she helps runs. They begin to talk, and it turns out Ayame is actually an old friend of Azusa, Onizuka’s fellow teacher, who had been telling her all about Onizuka’s exploits, which she found quite amazing, and ultimately Onizuka agrees to help out at the foster home for the next 14 days. A foster home is very different from a school, in that the children are all damaged far more than the average student, and furthermore, they have no one to rely on but those at the foster home, who are with them 24/7. However, that doesn’t change the fact that Onizuka’s convictions in handling them are still right on the mark, and hence through trial after trial, he plows forward in the little time he has, and proves that he’s worthy of being called the greatest teacher in Japan.

***

This is sort of a sequel, sort of a midquel to GTO, in that it technically starts off after GTO, but then begins a flashback of events that occurred in the middle of GTO that continues essentially the entirety of the manga. In many ways it’s very similar to GTO. It involves Onizuka dealing with children who have various issues plaguing them but need Onizuka’s unique brand of wisdom to make it past them. This often involves Onizuka performing ridiculously amazing feats. However, there are major differences between the problems faced by those in his class and those in this foster home, which ultimately makes the subject matter new enough to still be very interesting in terms of plot. In terms of character, the new characters are all interesting and reasonably well developed, however, due to the much shorter length, they get a lot less development compared to the class in GTO. Looking back, GTO got better as it went on, because it just kept building on itself further and further, by the end becoming one of the most amazing works I’ve read. However, here, while it seemed to be doing the same general thing, it didn’t get that far into it, and ultimately the characters didn’t feel as well developed. It also didn’t feel as balanced in terms of major and minor stories. Another thing I should note, is that I feel that this manga relies a good amount more on the series before GTO, which I haven’t read, and hence the throwbacks to it didn’t have much meaning to me. I did very much appreciate the throwbacks to GTO however, because it featured Urami who I am a major fan of. The comedy was just as on point as the previous series, as was the lacking in depth but still cool action. Art also is very similar to before, and though I feel that it’s not as rough anymore, it still has character and fits very well. Also, the side stories were also quite interesting, and I wouldn’t mind an extension of Blackdiamond.

A solid continuation of GTO that doesn’t live up to its predecessor due to its short length but is still quite great.

9/10

So I heard that the next series doesn’t have Urami at all. That’s sad. 🙁

Tasogare Otome x Amnesia (Dusk Maiden of Amnesia)

duskmaidenofamnesia

Teiichi goes to Seikyou Academy, which due to various reconstruction and expansions, has become a maze with half of the building being somewhat old and decrepit. While wandering through this portion, having no idea where he is, he ends up going into a room rumored to be haunted, where he discovers a girl named Yuuko. He ends up following her around for a bit, and quickly discovers that no one else can see her, and that she’s actually a ghost that died under the school 60 years ago. However, she doesn’t remember anything about how she died, or why she doesn’t seem to be able to pass on. Hence, she enlists Teiichi, the only other person who can somehow see her it seems, to help her. Hence, with her as President, she starts the Paranormal Investigation club, where they investigate that various ghost stories and such surrounding the school, hoping to find clues about her past. Along the way, they pick up the new members Kirie, a girl with a very strong spiritual sense and competitive spirit, and Momoe, a cheerful energetic girl with a passion for the supernatural. They solve the mysteries surrounding the school, slowly getting closer to the truth regarding Yuuko’s past, but how she died and why she doesn’t remember any of it turn out to be quite complex and unfortunately grim.

***

This anime is a combination of horror and romance that has some really dark moments but I would overall consider pretty happy, even having a decent amount of comedy.  It’s actually kind of strange in a way that it works, but surprisingly it really does and works tremendously well. To some degree it has a structure that’s pretty standard with a club of friends doing random things, but as these things involve ghost stories, those things can get quite dark, especially in regards to Yuuko’s past. However, to some degree, because most everything horrific or dark is already past, it allows it to focus on the moving forward aspect, which prevents things from getting too terrifying or depressing. The overall plot is quite well executed, and while the first half mostly feels like filler, when things escalate, which happens rather quickly, it turns out that everything is connected, which is very well done. At this point, it takes the character development and relationship development that had been happening with Teiichi and Yuuko, and quite well I should add, and brings it to the forefront, using that as the base for ultimately bringing the plot to a tremendously solid conclusion. To some degree, it seems like a cop out in that it built up to something quite well that never happens, but to be frank, I feel that the fake out was so well executed in that it unapologetically just flipped the script that I thought it made what was going to be a decent but bittersweet ending just downright amazing. There is also some character development with Kirie, though I thought it was somewhat lacking, though it was probably for the best to keep the focus on Teiichi and Yuuko. Momoe didn’t really have any character development at all as far as I can remember. But really, the character development in Teiichi and Yuuko and the relationship that arose alongside it was more than enough to sustain the show. I also appreciated the epilogue OVA, as it was actually one of my favorite types, in that it just showed them continuing to live on normally. Plus it was tremendously funny, more so than any episode in the main show I’d say.

The art style was very different from normal, but fit the show really well and hence I consider really good. I also liked the character designs. The animation was also solid, with some shots looking really great. The soundtrack was also really good, and the insert song was used really well. The OP/ED are decent but also fit very well, and the subtle change in the ED I thought was a great touch.

A interesting blend of romance, comedy, and horror that while not that scary still manages to do really well in terms of atmosphere, has some really solid comedy, and a great plot help up by an incredibly good romance.

10/10

Looking forward to watching the anime at some point.