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All reviews - Movies (2) - Books (33) - Music (2)

Street Fighter Legends: Ibuki review

Posted : 6 years, 2 months ago on 4 June 2011 11:16 (A review of Street Fighter Legends: Ibuki)

The third Legends book is a fun one, with Street Fighter III cast member Ibuki taking the spotlight this time around. Joined by fellow SF3 fighters Elena, Mokato and Oro (along with a familiar figure from the original Street Fighter game), Ibuki runs herself ragged in her double life as a ninja and a high school student.

It's a familiar sort of story and offers no surprises, but that's not really the point here. We're mainly reading about a rather fun and popular character from Capcom's cash cow franchise and learning a bit more about her. It certainly doesn't hurt that, like all of Udon's Street Fighter graphic novels, this one is very well-drawn and features a lead character who is quite easy on the eyes.

While better than and not as goofy as the Sakura installment of the Legends series, Ibuki's volume doesn't quite reach Chun Li's level and in places feels a little rushed. The story also feels a tad disorganized, with some things being revealed either too early or too late and thus feeling either overlooked or just thrown in. This doesn't harm the overall story too much, but it makes it less effective than Chun Li's nicely-told story. It also doesn't feature the explosive sort of climax that Chun Li's story did, either, and thus we go from one anti-climactic battle right into another. One would expect a bit more real fighting and struggling. This is, after all, Street Fighter.

Still Ibuki's story is a fun read and any fan of the character should have a good time with it. Hopefully Cammy is the next in line for a Legends entry; hers is long overdue, if you ask me.


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Street Fighter Legends Volume 1: Sakura: Sakura v. 1 review

Posted : 6 years, 2 months ago on 4 June 2011 11:16 (A review of Street Fighter Legends Volume 1: Sakura: Sakura v. 1)

This is the predecessor in the Legends series to the superior Chun Li volume (which was technically volume 2). Unlike Chun Li's well-crafted story, Sakura's volume is a sit-com with some fighting thrown in, and some fun cameos from a few notable Rival Schools characters (since, after all, Sakura crossed over into the original Rival Schools game). This volume is pure fan service, but of the far goofier variety. There are moments that are genuinely funny, but for the most part, it doesn't really reel you in the way Chun Li's story does since so much of it is so ridiculous. The art and effects are really good, though, and the supplemental materials at the end are fascinating for fans and practitioners of the craft of drawing at all levels. Worth the price of admission if you're a Street Fighter fan (or just a fan of Sakura or even Udon), but for those who want some real storytelling to go with their art, Chun Li's book is the must-have.


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Street Fighter Legends: Chun-li review

Posted : 6 years, 2 months ago on 4 June 2011 11:15 (A review of Street Fighter Legends: Chun-li)

Nicely-told story of what eventually led up to Chun Li's losses and reasons to enter the Street Fighter tournament. None of the familiar SF characters that appear appear needlessly; they all have a role to play. The action is good and the art is a real treat for the eyes. Recommended for SF fans, especially Chun Li fans.


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Good stories, weak editing

Posted : 6 years, 2 months ago on 4 June 2011 10:07 (A review of Junk Force Novel Volume 2)

The second Junk Force novel brings us back into the world of post-apocalyptic Earth, where water is the most precious thing one can possess. Liza, Wooty, Louis, Mill and Mamet continue their trek to find the ZPT across six loosely-connected stories.

This novel suffers from the same problems as its predecessor: sloppy writing and editing. It's clear author Hideki Kakinuma is more comfortable as a scriptwriter for anime and manga than he is as a literary writer. He seldom goes into great detail on anything other than technology and has a narrative style that is rather unsophisticated and under-developed. It doesn't help that the editing team at Dr. Master Publications didn't seem very interested in much other than the task of translating the text; scattered punctuation errors and sentences that begin without capital letters are distracting at best, made all the worse by formatting problems and no effort in the English-language sentence structure. Instead of taking the time to make the stories easier to read so they might flow more smoothly, the editors left them as is, creating the wrong sort of challenge for the reader. Lack of attention creates moments of unintended hilarity, such as this gem:

"Owww! I think I threw out my back!" Louis writhed on the floor looking very much like he had thrown out his back.

It's a shame more care wasn't put into this book, as the stories it tells are a lot of fun, and the illustrations accompanying them are high-quality and fun to look at. The strength of the stories themselves (particularly "The Old Castle" and "The Lakeside Town") and the illustrations are what earn this book three out of five stars. If the text quality and narrative structure were on par with those things, this book would be a perfect five. The casual reader isn't really going to be drawn into this book, but Junk Force fans will at least appreciate the illustrations and the scant fan service they offer if nothing else.

It makes me wish I could re-edit and re-release these novels; with the right care, they would be worth reading by anyone looking for a good story.


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Crusher Joe review

Posted : 6 years, 2 months ago on 25 May 2011 02:07 (A review of Crusher Joe)

Before he gave the world The Dirty Pair, sci-fi author Haruka Takachiho created a space opera series focusing on a team of galactic mercenaries called Crusher Joe. Crushers, the mercenaries in question, would do anything for a client if the price was right. And the titular Joe and his team would frequently find that the jobs they were hired for were much larger than they first appeared.

While the series mostly appeared in literary form as The Dirty Pair would later, a series of manga stories was produced as well. These stories were not constructed with deep plots; they usually allowed the action and the characters to carry most of the weight. The charm of Crusher Joe comes mainly from the comical antics of Joe and his teammates (the fawning Alfin, motormouthed Ricky, the cyborg Talos and the robot Dongo), whether aboard their ship, the Minerva, or anywhere else they happened to be. It also presented a number of well-drawn action scenes that artist Fujihiko Hosono made seem effortless. There was just the right amount of attention to detail without the panels ever becoming too busy or cluttered.

Crusher Joe eventually went on to spawn an animated feature film before falling into the shadow of its more successful successor, but that fortunately did not stop it from finding an American audience as well. While Animeigo handled the movie, the now long-defunct Studio Ironcat brought over the manga in a single-volume paperback (ISBN 1-929090-02-1; $15.95).

Joe and his team take on seemingly simple missions that prove full of surprises, though aside from a nicely-handled flashback in the first of the book's three stories, the characters are never examined too closely. We're left to learn all we can about them through their words and actions; very little else about them is ever revealed. We're engaged by them mostly through how they treat and react to one another and their surroundings, while the stories' villains are given little more than stock personalities and motives. However, this isn't meant to be a groundbreaking series. It's meant to be a series of fun romps through space, and it is.

Though out of print for some time, the Crusher Joe manga can still be found through online retailers such as Amazon, and fans of Takachiho or the Dirty Pair would find it worth their while to snag a copy. Aside from a few very minor spelling flubs, Studio Ironcat did its job well and gave us a nice, easy-to-read translation. There really isn't a whole lot of substance here, but there is plenty of adventure and fun. And sometimes that's all we really need.


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Not as good as the manga

Posted : 6 years, 3 months ago on 18 May 2011 10:15 (A review of Junk Force Novel Volume 1)

As a big fan of the Junk Force manga, I was looking forward to tackling the novels. Unfortunately, the translators at Comics One either didn't know what they were doing or just flat didn't care, as they proceeded to translate the text so literally that what should have been a fun romp through post-apocalyptic Earth instead became a read so tedious I struggled to get through each chapter. It didn't help that a handful of grammatical and other typographical errors slipped through (pronoun confusion was a particular distraction), and author Hideki Kakinuma's unfortunate decision to switch narrators time and again (Liza would narrate one chapter, then Louis the next) made the novel feel even more disjointed.

If Comics One or its successor, Dr. Master, had bothered to take the time to proofread the translated text properly and give it more character and nuance, it would have been a fantastic book. After all, it has a good cast of characters, fun story ideas, detailed explanations of the era's technology and some well-drawn illustrations. If it had had the technical and creative textual polish to match, I would have rated it much higher. It's only because of the positive things I mentioned (plus admittedly being a fan of Junk Force) that I even rated it as high as I did. Mill has been reduced to a cardboard cutout in Comics One's shoddy translation; she's supposed to be shy and reserved, but she's still supposed to have far more of a personality than what we're seeing here. Liza and Wooty (and, to a lesser extent, Louis) fare only slightly better, but still lack some of the charm that was readily apparent in the manga. The novel could have done them justice in the right hands. Alas, the right hands were nowhere to be found.

I still plan to read the other two translated novels (four and five were not translated into English, sadly) in spite of this, but my expectations are considerably lower than they were. This may actually be a good thing... I don't know. In any case, it certainly makes me appreciate the manga version even more.


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The Dirty Pair #3: The Little Dictator (Sunrise Animation Film Comics) review

Posted : 6 years, 3 months ago on 15 May 2011 07:24 (A review of The Dirty Pair #3: The Little Dictator (Sunrise Animation Film Comics))

This is it: the very book that got me into anime back in the day. I just happened to be at the comic book store (one that sadly is no longer there) and I spotted this book sitting in a prominent spot on a display shelf. I found the art and character designs highly attractive, and after taking a look at only the first few pages, I knew I had to have it. And soon afterwards I was busy tracking down the other books in the collection.

The Dirty Pair hold a special place in my heart because they're the first anime characters I ever became a fan of, but also because their series is a great one just by itself. The stories are of a sort that just aren't written anymore. They have a fine balance of plot, action and humor. Sure, the animation was a little choppy by today's standards, but the series holds up really well. And when it's in book form, the animation quality doesn't matter anyway!

This time around, Kei and Yuri have their hands full dealing with a mouse bent on world domination, and to state the obvious, fighting such a small, elusive foe is quite a challenge. Their ultimate solution is one that is clever and well-handled and it left me with a big, goofy grin on my face. In a word, it was fun.

It's a shame more of the episodes weren't made into Film Comics, but I imagine there wasn't enough money in that. Too bad. I'd have bought them all. And any fan of the Dirty Pair who can get their hands on these books should. They don't make 'em like this anymore.


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THE GREEN HORNET: A History of Radio, Motion Pictures, Comics and Television review

Posted : 6 years, 5 months ago on 13 March 2011 04:18 (A review of THE GREEN HORNET: A History of Radio, Motion Pictures, Comics and Television)

Here is an absolute treasure of a book, with so MUCH information about our favorite masked crime fighter. My jaw fell open when I first saw how thick this book is, but not because it seemed like it would be a chore to read. I knew it would be a delight, and it is. It has a complete list of every radio and television episode, exhaustively researched details of what went on behind the scenes of both series, and a number of photos as well. Everything from the 1940s movie serials to the 1990s NOW comics is included here. Forget the price tag. If you like the Green Hornet, you owe it to yourself to get this book.


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Green Hornet: Year One Volume 1 TP review

Posted : 6 years, 5 months ago on 13 March 2011 04:11 (A review of Green Hornet: Year One Volume 1 TP)

I love this book. Not only does it have excellent artwork, but it captures the feel of the original radio series beautifully. It provides a highly satisfying origin story for the Green Hornet (something the radio series itself never bothered with) while giving us a good amount of action at the same time. We also get a gallery of alternate covers, all a sight to behold. This is a book no Green Hornet fan should go without!


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Elemental Gelade Volume 12 review

Posted : 6 years, 11 months ago on 5 September 2010 11:56 (A review of Elemental Gelade Volume 12)

Man, waiting so long between volumes utterly kills me, but the wait is so worth it every time!

Once again, Coud and company are in over their heads and having to resort to desperate acts just to make any progress in their increasingly difficult journey. Even worse, Coud and Ren are still not on speaking terms and old airdog Pops refuses to cooperate by lending his ship. Cisqua also has a chance encounter with a certain someone that leads her to realize there's more going on than she was ever aware of... bad news all around.

Aside from an out-of-sequence insert that temporarily throws readers off (it was a two-page "teaser" preceding the chapter as it was printed in the series' original run), the book reads smoothly and quickly, showing off Azuma-san's usual excellent art. The fights in this volume are brief but impressively drawn and the visuals of the city are a treat. Fans of the Elemental Gelade series will find a lot to enjoy here.

The current release date for Volume 13 is January of 2011. Let's hope this doesn't change; we waited long enough just for this one!


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