This is one of those series that I forgot existed, until, at a loss for what to write, I went scrounging around my house for ideas, and lo and behold, there it was shoved into the back of my closet. I wouldn’t say Lament of the Lamb by Kei Toume is entirely forgettable, but it’s been nearly ten years since its debut and it’s not particularly memorable in terms of plot. What initially drew me to it is its art—which is probably the most notable part of the series. It has a very distinctive style, especially on the covers, and even after coming across my forgotten collection, while just one look at the cover wasn’t enough to make me remember the story and characters—except in the most basic sense—my thoughts were immediately flooded with the visuals before even turning the first page.
Wow, so, this is about a million miles off from my usual Manga Mondays fare, and before I begin to explain the story, let me get this out of the way:
TW: Claustrophobia, Body Horror
The Enigma of Amigara Fault is a one-shot story of about thirty pages by Junji Ito, and, when it showed up on my Tumblr dash a week or two ago, just reading the author’s name should have clued me in that this was, perhaps, 2spooky4me. Tsunderin has reviewed Ito’s manga here before, and I should have remembered from just reading her review that Ito goes in for the psychological creepiness and body horror without pulling any punches. Regret, I has it.
The story of Amigara Fault runs something like this: following an earthquake in one of Japan’s prefectures, a giant faultline appears in the side of Amigara Mountain. Upon examining the huge crack in the earth, it’s soon discovered that it’s full of hundreds of naturally-occurring human-shaped holes, which go deeper into the mountain’s surface than any simple probes or measuring devices are able to detect. People from all over come to investigate and rubberneck at the sight, and soon certain visitors get the unavoidable impression that certain holes are meant for them in particular, and are struck with an irrational desire to fit themselves into the crevices. What happens when they snap and climb in? Well, I’ll leave that to you to find out—it is only thirty pages, after all.
Every time I encounter a scary story or movie, I think to myself, “This time I’ll be okay; this time I won’t let it get to me.” In actuality, I have a particularly low tolerance, although eight seasons of Supernatural have increased my vulnerability to jump-scares. Needless to say, I was unsuccessful yet again in not being disturbed by a scary thing; thanks a lot, Ito-sensei. However, if you’re into horror manga or just scary stories in general, this is a great example of how to tell a terrifying original story in a small space (whoops, accidental pun) with only a little buildup, backstory, or exposition.
If you’re up for spending the rest of your day feeling totally unsettled, you can read the full story here.
It’s Not My Fault That I’m Not Popular by TANIGAWA Nico (a pen name for two artists) is a manga about a high school girl just figuring her life out. I saw it on the home page for a scanlation site and I was intrigued by the title, so I decided to start reading it. I got through about twenty chapters before I had to stop reading.
Kuroki Tomoko has no real friends and is a super introvert; all of her ‘social skills’ she’s learned through anime and her borderline-pornographic video games. She spends her free time in her room watching anime and only has one friend, her old friend from middle school.
I have no problem with the concept of the series; it’s a coming of age story about a super nerdy girl. However, Tomoko is seriously creepy. In one chapter, she went to her old school roof to watch fireworks but instead was a peeping tom (watching some couple ‘get busy’) with some middle school boys. She vacuumed her own skin so that it looked like she had been kissed to impress her elementary-school-aged cousin. She’s also delusional; if any boy so much looks in her general direction she flips out. Oh, and she cheats at card games against elementary schoolers.
As a nerdy, ‘not-popular’ girl, I take offense to this entire series. By making Tomoko out as some sort of pervert (which the series does), it puts forward the idea that all socially awkward girls obsess constantly about sex and engage in this sort of self-harming behavior; that every not-so-popular person is a Tomoko. That is blatantly wrong. While I do pity her to a certain extent,Tomoko is a terrible character and is a horrendous example of what typical nerdy, anti-social girls are like.
She is so extreme in her actions that it leads me to believe that the authors think that they’re being funny, that Tomoko’s over-the-top antics are supposed to be laughed at. Well, they aren’t funny. At all. This is a terrible way to stereotype antisocial high schoolers and is in no way, shape, or form funny.
On a completely different note, the art is off-putting. Tomoko’s eyes are super creepy, which goes with her personality. Unfortunately.
In short, I do not recommend It’s Not My Fault That I’m Not Popular.
When I saw this panel on my Tumblr dash, I knew that I had to find the manga it was from. I had to. From the type of art and the subject—as much as the subject as I can guess from one line—I could guess that it was either horror or pseudo-hentai, both of which I wouldn’t have minded but only one of which I would have been allowed to publish here. With the new technology of searching via image on Google, finding the source was a piece of cake, but I couldn’t believe it. Much like its main antagonist, it seems as though this manga will never leave me alone.
A little over a year ago I reviewed Ryou Haruto’s Ibitsu, a horror manga about a deranged woman that goes around looking for older brothers and killing their little sisters if they have any. While I pored over the main chapters, I didn’t give any attention to the manga’s extra chapters. A mistake on my part; I can’t believe I previously missed out on this funny, poignant commentary on people who take their original characters way too seriously.
I think this is the first shoujo I got into, and like many manga, Fruits Basket just seemed to go on for way too long, though it never quite reached Naruto and Bleach levels in terms of length. (Then again, not many things can.) At the very least, Fruits Basket had a set ending and a more or less cohesive plot, and though it also has a fair number of characters, it never actually deviated too far from its plot to develop them separately from what was actually happening in the story. What I’m trying to say is that it never punishes the reader with more filler than actual plot. It only punishes them with fluff, which is almost just as bad. It is twenty-three volumes, which is a pretty decent length, and if the story’s decent as well, there’s definitely nothing wrong with that.
Rock Lee’s Springtime of Youth is a spin-off of Naruto that focuses on one of Naruto’s peers named Rock Lee. Everyone is chibi and the series takes place in the past so everyone is there and carefree and happy. And did I mention they’re all chibi?
Most chapters are episodic in nature so you can pick up the series at practically any point and just start reading. You won’t miss much. And if you have an unabated passion for Naruto then you will probably find a place in your heart for this one.
That’s where the plus sides end however. It’s like every bad Hetalia episode put back to back (and I know I’m going to get torn a new one for saying that). Everyone and everything is completely ridiculous and it loses all appeal after approximately two pages. I love Hetalia, but what I think balances out the ‘cray-cray’ of it all is that it is a political commentary (which is what I truly love about Hetalia). RLSToY doesn’t have some greater message to achieve balance. It’s over-the-top for the sake of being over-the-top.
Actually, RLSToY exists to make money. It’s a way of earning a couple more bucks for Shounen Jump and it’s blatant; no effort was made to hide this: if you want to make a series solely for earning the money, at least make it interesting. Most of the plots of RLSToY make for very dumb stories. If you want me to read a spin-off, make it better than fanfiction I can find online.
So if you are a diehard Naruto fan and somehow don’t know about this, check it out. If you don’t fall into that category, you’re better off staying away.
After many, many decades of stories that follow the similar plot of ‘princess goes to school and tries to lead a normal life,’ the question is not how to make a new story, but rather how it can be repackaged to seem more interesting. So what did Kiyo Fujiwara bring to the table with her 2004 manga, Wild Ones (アラクレ)?
Well… nothing too terribly new or entertaining. At least, not on the shoujo front.
Our heroine du jour is one Sachie Wakamura, an excitable, spunky girl who thinks honesty is mandatory and holds no love in her heart for liars or thieves. If you’re thinking that this sounds dangerously close to other Shoujo Beat licensed manga, SA, you wouldn’t be wrong: both Sachie and Hikaru are pretty much sisters from another mister excluding the fact that Sachie is not as mind-numbingly naïve. After the death of her mother, Sachie is approached by a strange man, who turns out to be her grandfather, and is taken to his home. Thoughts roll through her mind as to why she had never heard of her grandfather before this moment, but soon after she enters the household it becomes glaringly clear they are not the only ones living there. Indeed, her grandfather’s home is also home to his second family: his yakuza gang.
This part, this part right here. This is cool. This would make an excellent manga, especially with all the conflicts that are brought up within the family. Sachie’s mother left her grandfather’s house on her own whims. This may have caused her to raise Sachie in poverty, but it also allowed this woman hardened by the yakuza lifestyle to raise her daughter with the morals and a sense of justice and safety that she probably didn’t have growing up.
Due to this, Sachie should be more conflicted about the position she’s put into. Certainly she has a bunch of nice things now, a group of people that love her and cherish her, but can she really abide by what they do in the shadows? Will she try and change the gang to fit her perception of what is just or will she herself change? I really wish that there was a good resolution to these questions, but the only thing that Fujiwara presents us with is an ‘eeeh, kinda?’ It’s simply because the time that should be spent exploring this is spent on the incredibly boring romance plot.
I don’t normally say this, but this manga is ruined by the romance. Our romantic lead, Rakuto Igarashi, is assigned as Sachie’s bodyguard after she arrives with her grandfather. From there, it’s the most basic story of forbidden love and perhaps one of the more stupid ones. It plays off the ‘are they going to get together’ thing until the very end of the manga, but there is literally nothing keeping them apart. Rakuto feels like he isn’t good enough for her, sure, but it doesn’t stop him from sabotaging Sachie’s other potential love interests. This combined with the fact that Rakuto has been longing after Sachie since they were five years old makes him seem more like a stalker than someone you want to root for.
Despite this however, Wild Ones has some really strong characters. Some really strong female characters. Their stories, along with the bumbling-yet-still-dangerous yakuza gang’s, make a well-rounded cast with some fun stories. I just wouldn’t recommend this manga on the merits of its genre.
Yu-Gi-Oh Duelist by Kazuki Takahashi is the manga version of the anime everyone either loves or loves to hate, so I’m not going to waste your time explaining the plot all that much. Y’all should be a little familiar with it at least. This part of the series takes place after my previous Manga Monday.
It’s rare that I read manga. Even when I was much more into anime I just never read manga. Usually this was because I was often introduced to various stories through the anime which made me less likely to read the manga, because I would get bored already knowing what was going to happen. Plus, manga are expensive and when I was younger I didn’t know about sites that allowed me to read manga online. Add to this the fact that a few manga I did buy were suddenly discontinued by their authors and you can see why I grew really weary of manga.
So for me to read a manga something about it had to catch my eye, and then I would usually sit and read the manga for a bit. If it didn’t immediately grip me in those first couple pages, I didn’t buy. My pickiness paid off when I found Diabolo.
Diabolo was my first horror manga. It’s the type of manga that sinks its claws into and refuses to let go. The series was completed in only three short volumes, but it stays with you even after you’ve finished reading.
Trigger warnings for rape/sexual assault, abuse, murder, and gore.
These trigger warnings are a little less for this review and more for the trilogy in general; please beware before you read this series: this is a gory psychological horror series that doesn’t pull any punches.
So a week ago I dragged my three Dazzle manga with me to work to read in my downtime. I had just finished A Storm of Swords, and I figured they’d be much lighter fare than that dreary, death-filled tome. I’ve read them before—I’ve had them since high school. So why did it take me this long to realize how terrible they are? Continue reading