GEN Magazine no.1

In a manga market that’s traditionally the reserve of either big name artists, or large manga publishing companies it’s rare to get access to up and-coming Japanese talent short of travelling to Japan’s Comeket, and bringing a Japanese dictionary
And Yet the American Gen manga entertainment are attempting such an endeavour with GEN – a manga magazine dedicated to releasing stories from writers and artists direct from Japan.

In this, the inaugural issue, we are introduced to four separate stories, and each with their own characters, art-styles – and executed with varying degrees of success.

WOLF [Nakamura Shige]

This first story, a Seinen boxing series introduces us to Okami Naoto, a traveling man with a perchance for getting into fights [and a talent for fighting his out of them] who in this first episode arrives in Tokyo to confront Kurozaki, a former professional boxer and head coach at a gym,
But also a man who abandoned his wife and child for the sake of becoming a boxer.

And now his son – Naoto – has come to confront him – and possibly kill him.

Along the way we are also introduced to Shota Ishizuka, a wet around the ears teenager who, on his way also to Tokyo to train to be a Sumo wrestler, although time will tell as to weither we see more of him as the series progress.

While the characters themselves are intriguing I couldn’t help but feel that this seemed like one of many a shounen fighting manga – the cocksure newcomer, whose enthusiasm outmatches his talent, but who over time strives to become the best at boxing. Also the artwork, while detailed enough to convey the plot and scenes portrayed, they seemed just that – detailed enough and nothing more – it seemed at times the artist either didn’t have time [or just didn’t bother to] draw more than what was necessary, and even those rare times you see any detailed background in these scenes end up looking like cardboard scenery from an amateur dramatics production.
…and yet something about this – either the plot [ what price ambition, and what price revenge?] or the fledgling characters, make me want to see how this develop, so i’ll give it the benefit of the doult and move on to….

VS Aliens [Suzuki Yu]

This manga follows Kitaro Iguchil, whose otherwise normal high school life is interrupted by the appearance of Aya Segawa, who asks for his help in proving whether or not fellow high school-er Sana Sakuma is an alien.

Yes, that’s right, an alien – Just…go with me on this.

Whilst rading this I got a definite Haruhi Suzumiya vibe from this story and indeed throughout my own opinions, a well as Kitaro’s, as to whether Aya was indeed an alien or not changed all the time, right up to the ending which, without hopefully not giving too much away, easily leaves an opening for more episodes in the future.
Finally the artwork, while not as devoid of background details like “Wolf”, still feel sketchy and incomplete – like something a mangaka would scribble in his notebook prior to drawing properly.

All in all a B for effort, but needs improvement.

Kamen [Mihara Gunya]

With a potential to be a great Seinen series “Kamen” opens up with our protagonist awakening seemingly in a strange land, a mask [ which in Japanese is “Kamen”, thus the title] strongly attached to his face,and a mysterious voice telling him that he’ll die if he try’s to remove it.
The episode was almost entirely setup – with the masked man [who strangely reminded me of Ken from SF2, but with Vegas face mask] stumbling on a prison convoy, containing a motley group of prisoners and guards, again with little real clue as to who they are at this time.
Also out of all the titles in this magazine Kamen has by far the best artwork, with interesting and well drawn backgrounds, and even the simplest of props and items, like swords and the saddles and bridles of the horses that appear here.
My only real grumble I can really lodge against this is, at 24 pages, its a lot shorter than the normal 30 pages traditional Japanese manga chapter would be, and as such It felt incomplete, with the plot suddenly just ending, with no real clue as to what is really going on!

Which leaves us with the final story

Souls – Empty shell [chapter one] [Karino Arisa]

My mascara gives me super powers!!

It is a dark, stormy night and at a traditional Japanese house, home to an overly strict mother and her browbeaten daughter, a strange woman arrives – and her revelations will tear the families world apart.
What is the secret of the family? Why do neither the daughter or the mother acknowledge the mysterious door – and just who is knocking from behind it?
This series definitely makes itself out as a dark, supernatural horror, with the mysterious woman [whose name is never mentioned] acting as some kind of combination investigator/medium, whose role is to placate restless spirits.

……And yet despite trying to create this suspense and drama the small page count yet again stymies the story flow – Karino could have easily take this episode to develop the story more slowly, and then give the big reveal next episode.
Also I found that the artwork really let this story down – from the characters with the EXTREME eye-liners, to the backgrounds that seemed in one hand unfinished, and in another too simplistic, with little or no consideration for light and shade, and rooms that seemed all too flat and two dimensional – if I didn’t know better I’d say they’d been put together within the space of an hour with MS paint!

See what i mean?

Sorry, but bad artwork and poor pacing bring down what could be a good series.

Conclusion

I’m in two minds about this.
On the one hand to be fair this is a first issue, with all the stories as such only starting here, and as such there has to be some leeway to be given for it – time for artwork to develop. Storyline’s to develop and properly explain themselves etc.

And yet, going by what I’ve seen, hardly any of the plotlines these titles present seem like they’re breaking new ground – many of the plots have already been done by more mainstream manga companies and mangka, and to much greater success!
At the end of the day, and Considering that this magazine touts itself as presenting [and I quote] “indie manga from the Tokyo underground”, it feels at times like the kind of thing you’d expect from Tokyopop’s now Defunct OEL manga line.

All I can tell you reader is to follow the old addage – “LET THE BUYER BEWARE”.

GEN magazine is available for $2.99 after this first free edition either as a digital download or [albeit with a limited run] as a physical publication. Both can be ordered from their main website: http://genmanga.com.

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Anime news dump

i was going to be putting up a review about Full metal alchemist creator Arakawa Hiromu’s new series silver spoon, but some recent news items have convinced me to do a quick news item – with varying degrees of win.

good news for all those Gundam© fans that have been wailing and nashing their teeth about Sunrise’ newest cashcow gundam AGE [even though it hasnt been released yet]
despite Bandi channel announcing a new sereiews on Saturday early recievers of The August issue of Kadokawa Shoten’s Monthly Gundam Ace magazine have discovered an announcemt for an anime adaptation of the long running manga re-imagining of the first mobile suit Gundam© series called “Gundam the origin”, however so far theres no indication as to when it’l be released.

my thoughts:an actual remake of the first gundam series? FUCK YEAH!! ive been waiting and hoping for something like this since forever – it’s a pity that we lost so many of the original voice actors.
to see the original news item pop on over to anime news network –
http://www.animenewsnetwork.co.uk/news/2011-06-22/gundam-the-origin-manga-to-launch-anime-project

fans of cute little magical girls getting killed in gruesome and scary ways may have a chance to rejoyce!
american Anime website AnimeEv have discovered via twitter that Aniplex of america have just registered “MadokaMagikaUSA.com”, leading to the every propable conclusion that yes indeed puella magica Madoka Magika may be well on its way to the west. this comes after announcments by Aniplex that discussions were under way to licence the show.

What i think: hell i was into this series after first reading the announcment for it last year – damn straight im’a geting this!!
heres the linkt to animeEV’s website, and the article in question –
http://animeev.visibli.com/share/qtfXHF

And finally – well it had to happen.
Sankaku complex this week posted an article omn the next step of virtual idol Hatsune Mikus plans to take over the world – this time via holograms!
to quiote the article, and researcher Dr Shunsuke Yoshida:
fVisiOn is a novel glasses-free tabletop 3D display. The developed novel technique can float standing 3D image on a blank flat tabletop surface, and allow multiple viewers to observe the 3D from omnidirection of 360° in seated condition. It is designed to be a friendly interface for multiple users for varied tabletop tasks by featuring our glasses-free method and observation style.

For generation of the 3D images, fVisiOn employs a newly developed special optical device as a screen and a series of micro projectors arranged circularly. The combination of those devices reproduces a light field in a certain volume on the table.

My thoughts holographic chibi Mikus? well, we’re screwed!
link to the original sankaku complex article – http://www.sankakucomplex.com/2011/06/22/finally-hatsune-miku-hologram-developed/
well, what do you think? want to see more articles like this? or should i stick to my usual stuff? as always put your thoughts on the comments page down below.

Fruits basket audio drama


While the concept of an audio drama based off of a popular series is not a new concept [ nor an unpopular one as Big finish’s doctor who productions can testify to] the idea of an audio drama based off of an anime or manga series, while popular in Japan, to be produced for an English speaking audience is unheard of, or very rarely made aware to a western anime fanbase.

So imagine my surprise to discover american fan Jesuotaku’s production of the classic shoujou manga series Fruits basket.

This series, which to date has three episodes, and is based on the immensely popular manga series by Natsuki Takaya, introduces us to newly orphaned schoolgirl Tohru Honda, whoose single life in a tent is suddenly changed forever when she stumbles into the house, and the lives of classsmate Yuki Sohma, and his cousins Shigure and Kyo – cousins with an all too less than ordinary secret……..

At first I had concerns that this would be just another amateur project, with little to little to offer me – And yet, despite the cast and production being mostly composed of volunteers, Everything about this screams professionalism – from the recordings of the cast [that almost sounds like the cast recorded their lines at the same time, and not in fact the results of separate recordings of lines that have been cleverly melded and mixed together] to the well-selected sound effects and background noises that successfully let the listener become immersed in the story without becoming distracting.

My only real complaint about the production is that the only way to enjoy this series is via Jesuotaku’s releases via Blip.tv [and on review site That guy with the glasses.com], with no ability to directly download the episodes so that you can enjoy them away from your computer.

The chief success of this though is that,whether you are a fan of fruits basket or not, but also regardless whether you know the events of the manga you will enjoy this series.

To get up to date with both the 2 part opening episode and the second episode,they are all available from Jesuotaku’s channel. over at http://blip.tv/jesuotaku

but before i go id like to say well done and keep up the good works guys and girls.