175 of ? chapters read
I would like to say, first of all, that what caught my attention after the synopsis was the art. I had read a manga by this author before (Tokyo Crazy Paradise) and was shocked to see not only the difference in quality, but the difference in style. Tokyo Crazy Paradise was a shonen manga with romance, and the art reflected that. Shoujo manga needs to give off a different feel from shonen, and I believe Yoshiki Nakamura purposefully elongated bodies and used thinner lines to show his (her?) mastery of style. However, I will admit that the elongated bodies do make me wince every once in a while. The eyes and expression are of great importance to this mangaka; every expression speaks to the reader.
The main characters are very well-rounded. Kyouko is not one-dimensional... she probably has an infinite amount of different personalities lying within her, waiting to be untapped. She is unpredictable, like a tornado. Shou is very much so a human being-- he casts Kyouko away when he does not need her, yet he begins to truly fall for her. He is often confused, and though I despise him, I will admit that he is a better character depth-wise than Ren. Ren seems to be more of the good-looking-with-hidden-darkness type than anything else, which makes him a little predictable and ultimately, a little boring.
The story, though a little plain-sounding, speaks to many girls of the world-- wanting to get revenge on a guy. The characters morph, learning to accept one another, and it begins to change the focus of the manga.
Overall, Skip Beat is a very accomplished manga; very solid and very good; one of my favorites (: read more
201 of ? chapters read
While the feeling of "this is your destiny, find these items" has been used time and again, D. Gray-man does bring some interesting spins. However, this does not ignore the difficulty of such a broad thesis, so to speak. I think that Hoshino realized rather belatedly that it's difficult to keep the reader interested in a manga that will go on for quite a while. There are 109 or so Innocence; the Order must find them all. I think that Hoshino realized this would take quite a long time, and that it was taking on a Tsubasa Chronicle-feel (and we all know how that went...). It scared me a little, how the plot seemed to be a little similar to Tsubasa's. It is my belief that, after realizing this, she added in, "Oh, wait! If the Earl finds the Heart, we're all dead!"
After that declaration, the story seems to peak at the arc with the Ark (hehe... is that considered punny?). After the Ark, everything had this new feel to it, yet Hoshino let me down by not taking advantage of this new start. Then there were complications and the storyline slowed down, eventually becoming as twisted as Tsubasa Chronicle, of which my gut had warned me. What really disappointed me, as a former (well, I guess it is more accurate to say dormant) Yullen fan, was chapter 176. I remember it clearly because that chapter just killed me oh, so much. It is possible, though, for Hoshino to recover from this literary slump. Only time will tell, I suppose.
A very prominent factor in drawing me into this manga was the cast of characters. Though yes, they seemed to be easily grouped into certain "types" of characters (Kanda, for a while, seemed to be a long-haired Sasuke to me, even though Kanda's my favorite character and I cannot bear 95% of the characters in Naruto, including Sasuke), Hoshino finds little ways to begin to wedge them away from that grouping... and after the Ark, slaps them back in the category, which disappointed me-- very much so. However, there is a chance for redemption.
Throughout the time I read the manga, I enjoyed it very much until it seemed like a down period for Kanda, and after 176, I had no will to read it anymore because I was so shocked by what Hoshino had done to him. I got over it, though, and was shocked again. The plot twists involving Kanda wrenched my heart (but maybe that's because I'm biased).
The artwork in the beginning was very good, but it became even more beautiful as the series progressed. Every panel was like a flower blooming; every battle scene was depicted with clarity-- until after the Ark, when Hoshino began having health problems. I will concede that carpal tunnel does impair an artist's ability, but one of my closest friends has carpal tunnel but continues to produce beautiful work whose quality surpasses that of everything she had every drawn before. But I digress.
Character designs are all very unique; costumes and hairstyles are outlandish yet somewhat realistic at the same time. The only person whose hair is unnatural is Allen, and... well... he's not natural. Also, white is a natural color... just not on a boy of fifteen (is that how old he is?). All of the designs are acceptable in a realistic, modern setting (costumes and clothing aside). It is filled with lots of eye candy (Kanda and Lavi ♥),
Overall, D. Gray-man is a very good manga-- to a point. I would like to think that Hoshino has lost interest and needs to be invigorated with the power that once compelled this author to write such a great beginning. Although I have lost interest, perhaps I will come back. read more
107 of 112 chapters read
Basara is definitely an epic to consider if you are seeking an escape from today's world. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, this tale begins with the birth of two twins, Tatara and Sarasa, and follows the latter's journey to create a better world for her people.
The first thing I would like to address is the art. Despite the seemingly haphazard lines that initially deterred me, I grew to love it. There is a certain elegance in these pages that takes a little time to notice. It is very much an easily acquired taste, and I am now enchanted by this style.
The storyline seems a little simplistic-- overthrow the king and create a new country. Yet the simple sentence above implies so many complications-- gathering the trust of men, getting close to the king. Sarasa starts practically from scratch and works her way up-- she does not have it easy, and she knows it, yet she works her hardest to improve her situation as well as others', thus gaining their trust. The story, though it can a little slow when gathering reconnaissance about a certain place, stays intriguing for almost the entire series-- and with a whole 27 volumes, that's quite a feat.
As others have stated, the real gem in this series lies in the cast of characters. It is very difficult to stay organized with a large, fully-developed army of characters, but Tam-tam doesn't just stay organized-- she utilizes all of these characters to the fullest, and shows their development. They're not stagnant characters who never change their ways.
The most prominent example I can give of this is Shuri, the Red King. In the beginning, Shuri is pompous, overconfident; he is very reckless and cares little about the value of life-- especially those of individuals whom he knows nothing about. However, Sarasa and other situations teach him that every qlife is valuable, and by the end of the series, he has changed almost completely. No longer is he the reckless, overconfident, I-am-going-to-run-you-over-to-get-what-I-want sort of man; he has become a mature individual who acknowledges the things he has done but wants to help make it better.
Sarasa's development was quite beautiful as well. She started off her journey being a crybaby, constantly relying on others for help. As she moved on, as events forced her to separate from those she relied on, she became more and more independent-- so much so that she was afraid to lean on anyone for a while. She was most definitely human-- she was constantly in conflict with herself over her actions, she is afraid, she is still quite a crybaby. Yet she looks forward with a solid resolve to accomplish what she set out to do. At the end of the series, though still a crybaby, she is very much independent, very accomplished, very confident, and no longer the younger sister who was cast aside.
I must say, I really enjoyed all of the series, even though volumes 19-24 kept leading me on false hopes (both times, at the end of every chapter, I kept thinking, "Are they going to meet again?! What's going to happen? CRAP, THEY'RE NOT MEETING YET? GODDAMNIT, WHY?!"), it's a sign that Tam-tam definitely had a firm grip on the skill of keeping the reader hooked and on the edge of her or his seat.
In conclusion, Basara's intricate plot and full-fledged army (literally) of characters should not be turned away by the seeming messiness of the art. This manga's brilliant plot and well-rounded characters provide the majority of this manga's fanbase. Definitely a must-read epic, Basara has won over my heart-- and as I did last time, I shall be thinking of Sarasa and Shuri for weeks on end! read more