Manga Series Review: Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto

Title: Naruto, Volumes 1-72
Author: Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: VIZ Media
Source: Chicago Public Library – Overdrive
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

In another world, ninja are the ultimate power—and in the village of Konohagakure live the stealthiest ninja in the world. But twelve years ago Konohagakure was attacked by a fearsome threat—a nine-tailed fox demon which claimed the life of the Hokage, the village champion. Today, peace has returned, and a troublemaking orphan named Uzumaki Naruto is struggling to graduate from the Ninja Academy. His goal: to become the next Hokage. But unknown to Naruto and his classmates, within him is a terrifying force…

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

I started watching the Naruto anime years and years ago, but it went on for so long that I was never able to finish, let alone get into Shippuden. Then, Andrew started getting into more anime and manga stuff and agreed to watch the series with me. We just barely made it to the Shippuden anime series before the wonderful Chicago Public Library released the entire manga series on Overdrive. My local branch of the library doesn’t have a lot of manga, so I requested a volume or two once in a while, but didn’t get very far into the manga series, so this release was HUGE. I could read it on my computer and not have to deal with waiting a week for it to ship to my branch. At the same time, Andrew and I cancelled our CrunchyRoll subscription, so we didn’t have access to Shippuden anymore. So, he started reading the manga as well.

Without giving spoilers, I’m going to sum up my feelings of the series as a whole — all 72 volumes. It starts off as a bit of a fun story, with Naruto trying to become a ninja and being loudmouthed about how he’s going to be Hokage someday, but quickly takes a bit of a darker turn. They are, after all, ninja and are very often in real danger when they take on their missions. Kishimoto doesn’t hold back when he crafts the story — the battles and dangers are high-stakes and even at 11 years old, the characters fight for their lives. I enjoyed this, because being a ninja would be dangerous, so I appreciated that this series had that level of honesty and genuineness.

My favorite parts, however, are the characters. You can tell that Kishimoto loves what he does, because there’s a wonderful playfulness to the characters that drew me in and made me fall in love with them. Each character has their own flaws and personalities, but you see that they are generally good people who care about their friends and their families. They work hard to protect them and when there’s danger, they all come together to fight against it. The series shines when the characters are given a chance to go above and beyond for their comrades, and this series is, in the end, a series about what it means to be friends.

Though it’s a long series, I would say it’s worth it. It’s almost bittersweet that we’ve finished it. We spent the better part of the year reading the manga together, talking about new developments and following the characters in their journey. Unlike the anime, which dragged on with filler episodes, the manga is perfect. Some things drag on, but the pacing is overall great for the story. It’s made me laugh out loud and cry, sometimes both at once. And while everything isn’t over-explained in the final volume, all my questions were answered satisfactorily. I loved reading about Naruto’s story and his journey to becoming an adult. There’s a reason why this is such a popular series — it’s really, really good. If anything about it at all interests you even in the slightest, I’d highly recommend getting started on it.

Review: Manga Classics – The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Crystal S. Chan

scarlet letter manga.jpg
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Title: Manga Classics – The Scarlet Letter
Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne
Story Adaptation: Crystal S. Chan
English Dialogue Adaptation: Stacy King
Illustrator: SunNeko Lee
Lettering: WT Francis
Publisher: Udon Entertainment and Morpheus Publishing
Paperback: 308 pages
Source: NetGalley
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

A powerful tale of forbidden love, shame, and revenge comes to life in Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter. Faithfully adapted by Crystal Chan from the original novel, this new edition features stunning artwork by SunNeko Lee (Manga Classics: Les Miserables) which will give old and new readers alike a fresh insight into the Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tragic saga of Puritan America. Manga Classics editions feature classic stories, faithfully adapted and illustrated in manga style, and available in both hardcover and softcover editions. Proudly presented by UDON Entertainment and Morpheus Publishing

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.*

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

I was first interested in this book, because I’m starting to branch out to reading more manga and I wanted to see how a classic story like The Scarlet Letter would translate to a manga. Overall, I think it’s a huge success. The story itself stays true to the original and the overall main points are still hit, which was a concern of mine when I started it. The pictures are beautifully done, and while I think there were a few too many panels of the priest “clutching his chest,” overall, it works out to be a quick read for a classic, captivating story.

Its strength really lies in how the novel is written in the first place. Hawthorne is someone who likes to be wordy and include a lot of description that is able to simply be shown in the drawings — no need to worry about five pages of foliage, when the foliage is right there in the pictures; it cuts down a lot on the slog and lets the reader focus on the story and characters in general. For people who don’t find Hawthorne’s style to be engaging, but who might like this overall story, reading Manga Classics would be a great way for them to be introduced to this story.

I can also see this as an amazing addition in the classroom, since it can be used as a tool for lower-level readers or those who have a problem with reading a lot of words stay engaged with the story and be able to participate in overall discussions on theme, characters, etc. It can also be used in a lesson where students can compare different story-telling formats and analyze the differences of manga versus prose. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? Which do they personally prefer? Tons of possible lessons if you introduce a book like this to your classroom.

The Manga Classics version of The Scarlet Letter is a great read and definitely something to check out if you have a struggling reader who wants a bit of help getting through the story, or even if you just want to experience this story in a new format. Very well done — I recommend it.

 

Manga Review: Good Luck Vol. 1 by E-Jin Kang

Title: Good Luck, Vol 1
Author: E-Jin Kang
Publisher: TokyoPop
Series: Good Luck, Book 1
Paperback: 192 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Shi-Hyun is pure bad luck. That’s what everyone says…and in some ways, she believes it. So for their protection and her own, she’s developed a hard shell that keeps people at bay.But when Shi-Hyun transfers to a new school, an array of new characters comes into her life. The Queen Bee has a cool personality and the fighting skills to match. The Cold Prince has the looks and demeanor to make all the girls swoon. And what about the nice girl, Hee-Soo the only one who’ll come near Shi-Hyun? Well, she has an agenda of her own..

Overall Rating: 3/5

I wasn’t very impressed by this one. The romance was well done, but the story line could have used some work. Shi-Hyun is convinced she’s bad luck, but we don’t get to actually see any instances of this. There are a couple of past events that happened, which is why everyone thinks she’s bad luck, but there is nothing that happens in the present-day of the story to prove that she really is bad luck. This is the only problem I really had with the story, but it’s a big one since it shapes everything that happens. There are some quite funny moments that made me smile, but there was nothing incredibly exciting.

The artwork is pretty good. There were a few characters I kept getting mixed up because of their similar appearances, but that’s all the problem I had with it.

Overall, however, I think there are much better manga series to spend your time reading. I don’t have much of an urge to read the rest of the series because I didn’t connect with the story or the characters all that much.

Manga Review: Hands Off! Vol 1 by Kasane Katsumoto

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Title: Hands Off!
Author: Kasane Katsumoto
Publisher: TokyoPop
Paperback: 176 pages
Series Order: Volume 1 of 8
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Kotarou is totally stoked that basketball season has started and he can now fulfill his hoop dreams. Things look even brighter for Kotarou as he meets Mio, a beautiful upperclassman who’s got the hots for Kotarou. Unfortunately he also meets Chiba, Mio’s devious protector. With trouble afoot, Tatsuki and Yuuto must use their ESP to make sure there is no foul play!



Overall Rating: 4/5 

Compared to other manga, I don’t think the artwork in this book is all that pretty, but I have never read anything funnier. This series has a supernatural spin on the classic mystery story line. Kotarou has no idea that others’ psychic abilities are augmented when they touch him, so when his cousin, Tatsuki, and his friend are trying to help him solve a mystery, they make up completely random excuses for touching him. Honestly, I’ve never laughed harder. Add that to the fact that Kotarou looks like a girl, and you have more hilarious incidents.

I really like the relationship between the three main characters. There’s a lot of tension, but there’s camaraderie, too. I’m looking forward to see what exactly happened between Tatsuki and Kotarou to change them from best friends to almost-enemies.

Volume 1 was a bit formulaic for me. There are three acts that all play out similarly. I hope that the future volumes add a bit more variety in the story line. I think once Tatsuki starts opening up, the story is going to have a lot more substance.

Hands Off! is a quick read that is guaranteed to make you laugh. I would recommend it for any manga fan.

 

Manga Review: Angel Sanctuary Vol. 1 by Kaori Yuki

Title: Angel Sanctuary
Author: Kaori Yuki
Publisher: VIZ Media
Paperback: 198 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

When Sara’s classmate, Ruri, received a computer disk from a strange man, Setsuna shows up to whisk her away from him. After lecturing Ruri about talking to weirdos, Setsuna comments she’s much cuter without glasses, which she dropped in the confusion. Unfortunately, neither of them have been watching the news which reports of mysterious deaths occurring in connection with the CD-ROM “Digital Angels.” The disk Ruri received is this same “Digital Angels” disk, and without knowing the danger, Setsuna lets her keep it. As soon as Ruri uses the program, her personality starts to change, and strange things begin to happen as Evils and angels seek the Setsunas’s soul for their own mysterious motives….

Overall Rating: 4.5/5


Killer computer games, reincarnation, fallen angels, demons, weird romance — this book has it all! Seriously, I don’t think that it can get any cooler. Sometimes, when a bunch of really cool elements are thrown together in one book it can be disastrous, but Yuki pulls it off and has created an incredibly exciting, suspenseful series. Plus, the artwork is beautiful. I don’t think I’ve ever read a manga with such gorgeous drawings.

As for the characters, I fell in love with Setsuna immediately, and I adore all the others. It’s a very complex story with a deep historical background that I’m sure will be revealed little by little throughout the series. There are some funny moments to alleviate some of the tension (this is a very dark series). These moments aren’t laugh-out-loud funny, but they definitely put a smile on my face.

The only thing I had trouble with was remembering who was who, and what gender they were — Yuki seems to love the theme of too-pretty males.

I would recommend this for fans of dark fantasy and fallen angels. Be prepared for some serious weirdness, though!

Manga Review: Kimi ni Todoke – From Me to You, Vol 1 by Karuho Shiina

Title: From Me To You, Vol 1
Author: Karuho Shiina
Series: Kimi ni Todoke, Vol 1
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC
Paperback: 216 pages
Summary (taken from Goodreads):

Sawako Kuronuma is the perfect heroine…for a horror movie. With her jet-black hair, sinister smile and silent demeanor, she’s often mistaken for Sadako, the haunting character from Ringu. Unbeknownst to but a few, behind her scary façade is a very misunderstood teenager. Shy and pure of heart, she just wants to make friends. But when Kazehaya, the most popular boy in class, befriends her, she’s sure to make more than just that—she’s about to make some enemies too!

Review:

I have never read a manga book before this. It seems surprising, since I watch anime and I’ve always been interested in the stories, but I guess I’ve always thought reading novels would be more satisfying. However, I’m glad I decided to read this one.

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