N00b Reviews: Death Note

After falling in love with the Death Note anime I have decided to look at the manga series to see how it compares.  I found the story really compelling and the opening theme of the anime strangely hypnotic…

cover


Summary:

Death Note is a manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. The story follows protagonist Light Yagami, a student with great prospects but unsatisfied with his life. This all changes when he finds a notebook that has the powers to kill people dropped by a rogue Shinigami named Ryuk. Light vows to use the powers of the book to kill criminals, but when the authorities discover the pattern they send the legendary detective ‘L’ to track down the killer.


First Impressions:

I don’t think I’ve seen any other manga in the N00b series so far that is as wordy as Death Note is. It feels like it should be a novel rather than a manga series as it needs a lot of descriptive text to explain things such as the theories behind using the notebook, which seem to be too complex to describe simply using images.

wordy

Does it really need to be specified where he sits?


What I liked:

One thing that particularly stood out to me about Death Note was the fact that even though the protagonist is an anti-hero we still end up rooting for him despite him killing millions of people even when they are innocent. We can’t help but side with him as we believe in his cause and the fact the reason he is doing it is for a greater good; to rid the world of criminals.

Light and L

At the same time we admire L for his attempts to catch Kira (Light’s alter ego) and enjoy how mysterious and quirky he is. The central plot of Death Note revolves around the cat and mouse chase between L and Light, and this element is what makes this manga so engrossing; waiting to see how the two of them will try to out-think the other.


What I disliked:

As I’ve stated one of the major flaws with the Death Note manga was the fact that it was very wordy and often felt like it should be a novel rather than a manga series. The other thing that I was slightly disappointed with was the second half of the manga series as a lot of the main cast changes and the new characters feel a lot weaker. Although despite this the plot tricks and twists are just as good in this half – in fact some of the better ones happen towards the end.


How does it compare to the anime:

 The anime gets off to a great start with this brilliant opening sequence:

Stunning visuals, addictive theme song, and the fact that it spans over 37 episodes and still keeps you interested. What’s not to love about this adaptation?

With long-running anime series there can often be a lot of filler episodes but with Death Note this isn’t the case at all and leaves very little out from the manga which is definitely very satisfying to see.


Overall Opinion:

 This series is simple enough to understood universally no matter of age, but at the same time deep and clever enough for those looking for something more meaty to sink their teeth into. Additionally, this series offers something that not many other series do–a moral conundrum. What if we had a Death Note? Would we use it? How would we use it? Is it possible to use it without turning into what Light becomes?

If you’re a seasoned anime fan or a N00b like myself I think this is a series you should definitely check out. Especially if you enjoy a mix of mystery, horror and crime thriller.


Written by Jess Harcastle, Marketing Whizz-kid for Cosmic Anvil.

Check out our own Welsh-manga (or ‘Wanga’) series, AGE OF REVOLUTION on our official site and Comixology!

N00b Reviews: Soul Eater

This week in Noob Reviews I am going to look at the very popular Soul Eater manga series to see what makes it so popular.

Soul_Eater_manga_volume_1


Summary:

Soul Eater written and illustrated by Atsushi Okubo is a manga series set at the “Death Weapon Meister Academy” and tells the story of three teams. Each team consists of a weapon meister and a weapon that can transform into a human. Their aim is to create a death scythe for the headmaster of the academy: ‘Shinigami’ or Lord Death. In order to do this they must collect souls of 99 humans and one witch. If they don’t do this in the exact order they have to restart from the beginning.


First Impressions:

Talk about jumping right into the action! On the very first page we see the protagonist going after a human named Jack the Ripper. The art style of the manga is almost Tim Burton-esque. The background images are highly detailed but the character designs vary from cartoon-like to intense detailed illustrations especially during fight sequences.

Soul Eater

The Tim Burton influence


What I liked:

I like how all the characters have very unique abilities, personalities, and quirks. For example, Death the Kid has an obsession with symmetry and Black Star is an arrogant assassin that always likes to have a flashy entrance.  I also liked the intense battle scenes because they were very detailed and intricate. This helped highlight the seriousness of the fight and the fact that one of the characters is likely to die.

fighting


What I disliked:

I can’t really think of anything I necessarily disliked about Soul Eater, but I didn’t find it was as gripping as most of the other manga I have read and although I did carry on reading it after the first few chapters, the pace seemed kind of slow and I just wanted to get to the main story arc. Sorry Soul Eater, I’m just not one of the most patient readers!


Soooooo much Fan Service!

Are all the male characters obsessed with boobs? As mentioned in my first review in the N00b series (Fairy Tail) I thought there was a lot of pervy characters, and it’s the same at the beginning of Soul Eater with a lot of the male characters’ infatuation with the female characters’ chests.  However, as the story progresses this doesn’t seem to be the case as much and tends to focus more on the fighting aspects of the story.

boobs

boobs3


How does the anime compare to the manga?

After watching the first few episodes it does seem that the anime closely follows the manga from which it was adapted. I quite liked how similarly to the manga the style was. Cute but also creepy at the same time, and stuck to the cartoonish illustrations that the manga used.


Overall Opinion:

Whilst I did enjoy Soul Eater I don’t necessarily think it’s one of the manga I will carry on reading.  As I mentioned earlier, I enjoyed the style of the illustrations in the manga but wasn’t gripped with regards to the story. I found I much preferred the anime series because I found the voice acting unique and funny, I was especially not expecting the Shinigami to sound like this:


Written by Jess Harcastle, Marketing Whizz-kid for Cosmic Anvil.

Check out our own Welsh-manga (or ‘Wanga’) series, AGE OF REVOLUTION on our official site and Comixology!

N00b Reviews: Steins;Gate

Steins;Gate is an anime series I discovered on Netflix. Whilst at first I found it hard to get into, when coming to the end of the series I ended up binge watching it, hungry for more! It is also interesting to note whilst I have read a couple of manga series now that have been adapted from anime or films this is the first that was based on a visual novel video game.

tomos-steins-gate


Summary:

The story of Steins;Gate takes place in Akihabara (a district in the Chiyoda ward of Tokyo) and follows a group of friends who customise their microwave so that it is able to send text messages to the past (Yes, that’s really the premise!) As they perform experiments using the device, an organisation named SERN who has been doing their own research on time travel hunts them. The manga adaptation of the story illustrated by Sarachi Yomi began serialisation in Media Factory’s Monthly Comic Alive magazine in 2009.


First Impressions:

From first appearances the main protagonist Rintarou Okabe seems clearly insane and disillusioned. Even his friends question his sanity and try to rationalise his thoughts and feelings. Similar to other manga I have looked at the artwork is typical of other manga series and nothing really stands out in either a good or bad way. The character designs seem simple but again the way facial expressions are drawn emphasises emotion.


What I liked:

One thing that Steins;Gate does really well is defining the rules of time travel and what effects it has on the universe.  For example, they can only send texts with a limited amount of characters and there are core events that cannot be altered like the death of a character. I also think the complexity of the theories regarding time travel adds to the credibility of the series.

steins-gate-2602233


Wait… What?! 

[SPOILER ALERT]

So, they use the microwave time machine to send a pager message to Rukako’s mum when she is pregnant with him telling her to eat more vegetables so that he can become a girl… and it worked?!

steins-gate-2020097


What I disliked:

My only criticism for Steins;Gate was the complexity of the theories and really needing to concentrate to understand what was going on. [SPOILER ALERT] I also didn’t like the story arc that turned out Dar was actually Amane Suzaha’s father that she was searching for. It felt like such a cop out from having to introduce another character and still resolve her mission to find him.

I also found the end of the Steins;Gate manga ended in a weird place and didn’t seem to have a conclusive ending, however after a bit of research I have found various spin off manga series’ which may satisfy my need for more.


How did it compare to the anime?

The anime was a lot more satisfying than the manga as it felt like a complete story whereas the manga felt disjointed and didn’t have a resolve. We also see a lot more of the characters’ personalities and unique traits portrayed in the anime and the series is given a lot more time to develop. I also found the anime had a lot more personality of it’s own, it had buckets of humour which sadly was not always portrayed in the manga as it was a lot more serious.

Another thing I enjoyed was that most manga and anime series’ don’t seem to be able to pull off well is the love triangle trope but this is where Steins;Gate shines. All of the characters involved in the love plot are well developed and have unique personalities.  When the arc comes to the end, we really feel the struggle to choose which adds more tension and drama to the story.


Overall Opinion:

What’s not to love about a series that involves a microwave that can send time travelling texts?

Whilst I did enjoy reading the Steins;Gate manga I would suggest watching the anime first to get a better understanding of what is going on. That being said I wouldn’t totally forget about reading the manga and I’m sure the spin-off series’ give a much more satisfying resolution and only adds depth and breadth to the original manga title.


Written by Jess Harcastle, Marketing Whizz-kid for Cosmic Anvil.

Check out our own Welsh-manga (or ‘Wanga’) series, AGE OF REVOLUTION on our official site and Comixology!

N00b Reviews: The Irregular at Magic High School

Summary:

Mahouka Koukou No Rettousei or as it’s more commonly known The Irregular at Magic High School is was originally a Japanese light novel series written by Tsutomu Satō, with illustrations by Kana Ishida but in this review I am looking at the adapted manga series written by Fumino Hayashi and Tsutomu Satō with art by Tsuna Kitaumi.

The story is set in 2095, and follows Tatsuya Shiba and his sister Miyuki Shiba as new students that enroll at the Private Magic University Affiliated High School. Students are ranked according to their test scores with practical magic ability being the top consideration. Students with the best practical magic skills are enrolled in the Course 1 curriculum, while those with poorer practical magic scores are enrolled in Course 2. These different divisions are known colloquially as “Bloom” and “Weed”.

Miyuki topped the entrance exams and is selected to be the first years’ representative, while Tatsuya is placed in Course 2 due to his low practical magic test scores, despite scoring highest in the written/theoretical portion of the exams.


First Impressions:

Did the illustrators get lazy with drawing faces? After the first few pages of the manga, the background characters are expressionless.

faceless

The manga also seemed to have a fluidity in styles as some of the panels seemed to be drawn in intense and highly detailed manner whereas others had a much simpler chibi style illustration to them. I’m not necessarily saying this is a bad thing just not what I expected after reading other manga that seem to have more of a consistent styling.

chibi


What I liked:

I really liked the fact that the series focuses heavily on the theme of bullying, discrimination, and exclusion between magic and non-magic disciplined students. It’s definitely something that most people can resonate with and relate to having gone through in school or university when you are excluded from an certain activity or picked on just because you look a certain way.

I also enjoyed the fact that the series mentions clubs and activities that appear to be similar to sports and societies in real universities and refers to “the period when club activities are recruiting new club members” which is essentially what a freshers fair is for new university students.

Another thing that I found really interesting in the manga was the way it explained different magical methods and practices.


What I disliked:

I found the relationship between Tatsuya Shiba and his sister Miyuki Shiba to be uncomfortable as they act more like a couple than siblings the manga even comments on this itself. Whilst I believe it represented a forbidden love it was also awkward and incestuous.

siblings

Another thing that I was disappointed with in the series was how wordy it was and there didn’t seem to be enough action sequences. And where there were action sequences they seemed to be too short.


How does it compare to the anime:

I found the anime visually stunning, it was really colourful and bright compared to a lot of the other anime I have seen that are a lot darker both in terms of themes  and colour schemes. That being said I wouldn’t say it didn’t have any darker themes as it also comments on discrimination and terrorism. One of the scenes that particularly highlights the beauty of the anime series is when Tatsuya is explaining how he defeats Hattori.

pretty

One of the main differences in the anime and manga was that the anime seemed to have a lot more comedic moments in it, whether or not that was always necessarily intentional.

Totally finished eating with a plate full of food.

Yes, totally finished eating with a plate full of food.

And yes in case you were wondering, the relationship between Miyuki and Tatsuya is still as uncomfortable to watch as it was to read.  Tatsuya seems to be quite aware of him behaving more like a lover than a sibling to Miyuki and she is more naive which somehow seems to make it worse.  I think the other characters reactions sum this up perfectly!

Shocked and embarrassed.

Shocked and embarrassed.


Overall Opinion:

Whilst I did enjoy reading the manga I found once again the series ended abruptly and left me wanting more which thankfully the anime seemed to satisfy this thirst for more. I’d definitely suggest not starting with the manga for this reason and just focusing on watching the anime series as it was a lot more satisfying not only in terms of visuals but also story as well.


Written by Jess Harcastle, Marketing Whizz-kid for Cosmic Anvil.

Check out our own Welsh-manga (or ‘Wanga’) series, AGE OF REVOLUTION on our official site and Comixology!

N00b Reviews: Elfen Lied

This week on N00b Reviews I am going to look at Elfen Lied after being repeatedly recommended it by friends, especially as I liked Full Metal Alchemist and Death Note.

manga cover


Summary:

Elfen Lied is a manga series written and illustrated by Lynn Okamoto. Elfen Lied revolves around the interactions, views, emotions, and differences between human beings and the Diclonii, a mutant species similar to humans in build but distinguishable by two horns on their heads and telekinetic powers. The series focuses on teenage Diclonius girl “Lucy” who was rejected by human beings and is seeking revenge.


First Impressions:

After not even finishing the first chapter I am already engrossed! While we know very little about the characters, the story is written in such a way that we already empathise with them. One example is Kisa Ragi who is the chief’s clumsy secretary that gets captured by Lucy and is killed by the men she is working for. The art style is quite simple but the manga’s use of big, anime style eyes definitely gives more emotion to the manga.

Also, WOW! This manga is violent and truly brutal, so much gore and excessive amounts of blood. Do not be fooled by the cute looking girl on the front of the manga!


What I liked:

What I initially liked about Elfen Lied is the pacing of each chapter. They were short but left you in a place that made you want to carry on reading to find out what happens to Lucy.  I also liked how two almost consecutive pages can make you have completely different feelings for her character. On one page she is scary and the next we are fearful for her and reminded that she is the one being scared.

scaredscary

I liked how the manga comments on the darker nature of humans especially in regards to our need to control everything, or have everything under control no matter what the price might be. Our willingness or lack of edicts regarding non-human life. How social misuse influences one’s growth and maturity. The topic of pedophilia and abandonment is even covered through the Maya character; a young runaway girl .


What I disliked:

I disliked how every character seemed to have had gone through some traumatic experience, as I felt it wasn’t necessary to make every character to have suffered through some horrific event.  I also felt the sexual content in the manga was awkward and inappropriate especially considering the ages of the characters. Whilst I understand the reasons behind the use of it, it still wasn’t needed in order to understand Lucy’s lack of understanding of normal social interactions.  Also why does Kouta’s house turn into an orphanage for traumatised girls both Human and Diclonius ?


How did it compare to the anime:

Talk about starting as you mean to go on! In the first opening seconds of the anime we see a man lose his arm and head. I think the anime is going to be just as violent if not more so than the manga! I like how the Diclonius vectors are also not seen in the anime where I was expecting them to have a ghostly sort of appearance like in the manga but I think the way they don’t appear but we do see bloody hand prints  makes it so much more eerie and creepy.


Overall Opinion:

As you can probably tell by reading my review of Elfen Lied, I really enjoyed the manga. Whilst I didn’t enjoy the violence and gratuitous amounts of blood and gore in Toyko Ghoul, it was different in Elfen Lied as it added extra understanding to the story of the Diclonius and actually served a purpose. I found Elfen Lied emotional and heart-wrenchingly good. I was really sucked into the story and sympathised with Lucy and the other Diclonius. As mentioned above, one of the only things I really disliked was how every character seemed to suffer a horrible fate. It is another series I’d definitely give a thumbs up to!


Written by Jess Harcastle, Marketing Whizz-kid for Cosmic Anvil.

Check out our own Welsh-manga (or ‘Wanga’) series, AGE OF REVOLUTION on our official site and Comixology!

N00b Reviews: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

Welcome to this week’s N00b reviews! This week I am looking at Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica also more commonly known as Puella Magi Madoka Magica. It is interesting to note this is a manga adaptation of the Puella Magi Madoka Magica anime series produced by Shaft and Aniplex. Also i’m definitely reading something a bit different this week, just looking at how girly the cover of the manga is.

mahou-shoujo-madoka-magica-l0


Summary:

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica is set in the fictional city; Mitakihara and follows Madoka Kaname, a middle school student and her friend Sayaka Miki. After encountering a small, cat-like creature name Kyubey they are offered a contract which sees them obtain magic powers and fight witches in exchange for a wish granted. The story follows their journey into what it means to be a magical girl and takes dark twists and turns along the way.


First Impressions:

After looking at the first few pages, you can definitely tell that the manga is adapted from an anime series with the typical anime art style (big eyes, glossy looking hair) and it also reminded me a lot of Sailor Moon and Cardcaptors Sakura with it’s similar theme of magical girls and cute looking pet like creatures.

(L-R Sakura & Kero, Sailor Moon & Luna, Madoka & Kyubey)

e4-manga-costume

mahou-shoujo-madoka-magica-2002221

26

 


What I liked: 

I liked the fact that whilst the series was about friendship and magic it also had darker undertones about sacrifice, jealousy, danger and suffering. The series seems to have a unique mix of cuteness and despair running throughout especially. In particular,  Kyubey in appearance is adorable but his personality is scary with his lack of emotions and regards for the girls’ lives. I also liked how Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica was able to appeal to an older audience than a lot of the other magical girl genre manga.

creepy


What I disliked:

One of the major flaws of Mahou Shoujo Madoka was how the illustrations became too chaotic and confusing during fight scenes. It made it hard to concentrate what was going on like some other manga I have read in the N00b Reviews series. I also disliked the time travelling aspects as it got hard to keep up with what was going on. It was a nice idea to have time travelling elements but I don’t think it was executed very well.

too much


How does it compare to the anime:

You can definitely see how the manga is adapted from the anime with the cute artwork and psychedelic fight scenes, it certainly sticks very closely to the anime for references. For the first couple of episodes, Mahou Shoujo Madoka appear to be typical of a magical girl series like Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura with comedic moments between friends, dream sequences and cute creatures.  However none of the Puella Magi in the series attack with rods or elements of nature or other cute stuff – they attack with guns, swords, spears, and similar weapons which hints at the darker side of the show.

Witches

Witches

The thing that really sets the series apart from a lot of other anime and makes it truly unique is the fact that there is very little filler and the story is nicely wrapped up in 12 episodes rather than a cliffhanger or weird finishing point. I liked how it also leaves itself open to interpretation, so even after you finish the series you still have something to think about.


Overall Opinion: 

Appearances really can be deceiving, Mahou Shoujo Madoka personifies this message. From the first impressions I thought this manga would be girly and pretty and nothing drastically bad would happen, oh how wrong I was! It definitely takes you on a roller coaster of emotions and you really feel for the girls that become Puella Magi without understanding the sacrifices they have to make to fulfill their wishes.  I enjoyed it so much I am contemplating on whether or not I want to read the Mahou Shoujo Oriko Magi the spin off manga series focusing on Oriko and Kyoko but I don’t want to be disappointed with it compared to the original series.


Written by Jess Harcastle, Marketing Whizz-kid for Cosmic Anvil.

Check out our own Welsh-manga (or ‘Wanga’) series, AGE OF REVOLUTION on our official site and Comixology!

N00b Reviews: Fullmetal Alchemist

Welcome to this week’s N00b reviews! After discovering Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood anime on Netflix and then binge-watching the first season over the weekend I have decided to look at the manga series to see how the two compare.  Similarly to previous manga I have looked at I won’t be reading all of the chapters released (as I don’t have the time!) but instead up to sensible story arc to finish on.


Summary:

Fullmetal Alchemist is a manga series written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa that tells the tale of two brothers: Edward and Alphonse Elric. They are on a journey to find the Philosopher’s Stone in order to restore their bodies after they perform ‘Taboo’ Alchemy to bring back their dead mother. Consequently, Edward loses his leg and Alphonse loses his entire body. Sacrificing his right arm, Edward fuses Alphonse’s soul to a suit of armour. They believe the Philosopher’s Stone will act as a catalyst to restore their bodies.

Fullmetal Alchemist Edward and Alphonse Elric


First Impressions:

Compared to some of the manga I have already looked at in the N00b reviews series I found Fullmetal Alchemist‘s artwork style very cartoon-like but that again made me concentrate harder on what was going on in the story rather than being distracted by the intricate illustrations. This is especially helpful with the story being so complex!


What I liked:

Whilst the story’s tone is quite dark and gritty there are also comedic moments to lighten the tension. There are also very heartwarming sequences that really make me feel and care for the two brothers. I also liked the fact that the villains were named after the seven deadly sins: Gluttony, Lust, Envy, Pride, Wrath,  Greed and Sloth.


So Kawaii! 

FMA

So, as you know I mentioned that I liked FMA because it was funny I think these panels explain the comedic values perfectly and the ‘sparkles’ in Alphonse’s eyes are so cute, which is weirdly human considering he is basically just a suit of armour physically!

FMA2

He’s just Cosplaying!


What I disliked:

One of the things anime is often criticized for is having too many filler episodes that don’t contribute to the story’s progression, and whilst I didn’t necessarily find this was the case with the manga there did seem to be a couple of sequences that weren’t completely essential to the main story arc and just filling time instead.


How does it compare to the Anime: 

It is interesting to note that there are two different anime series’ based on the FMA manga; one that relies on the manga heavily for reference (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) and one that deviates away from the manga and has a completely different ending (Fullmetal Alchemist).


Overall Opinion:

 Once again, I have fallen in love with manga! One thing I particularly enjoyed about Fullmetal Alchemist were the moments of brotherhood that were shared between Edward and Alfonse. For example, when they are reminiscing about the fights they had when they were younger (like most siblings do, fighting over toys, etc.) or the willingness to die for each other.

Fullmetal-Alchemist-Brotherhood-Wallpaper-1920x1080

This made the characters more believable and as an audience we could really empathize with the way they were feeling and they motives behind their actions even if we didn’t necessarily agree with the method.

Above all I’d definitely recommend giving the manga a read and watch the Brotherhood anime if you enjoy it as it does rely heavily on the manga for source material.


Written by Jess Harcastle, Marketing Whizz-kid for Cosmic Anvil.

Check out our own Welsh-manga (or ‘Wanga’) series, AGE OF REVOLUTION on our official site and Comixology!