I read two manga!
Hello! This is Chani! So in my infinite business as of late I have managed to find the time to read two full manga packaged into those big “omnibus” books that they make now that have two or three volumes in them. Actually, what happened was that when Border’s Books and Music was going out of business in the summer of 2011… (T_T farewell Border’s!)… and all their manga was on sale, I decided to stock up on interesting new series which were complete and I could cheat and skim through to make sure they looked like stories that would satisfy me. I hate to shell out money unless I know I’m going to like something so I’ve been known to peek at the end of things, books, manga… before I buy them. Actually, I do it quite often XD
Anyway this led me to the purchase of two manga, each of which were two volumes packaged into one complete collection, which again was on sale and looked like things I would at least like a bit. The manga were “Mugen Spiral” and “Higurashi: When They Cry: Demon Exposing Arc”. I knew nothing of these before picking them up, but they appeared interesting enough and so I bought them and … almost a year later, read them! LOL (And it’s taken me months more to blog about it but we’ll just leave that right there).
I’ve read other manga in the interim too but since I just finished these two recently (relatively) I thought I would give them brief reviews. I apologize but I just don’t think that I’m cut out to do lengthy recaps of anything, so none of my blogs will have much of that. Maybe a little bit, but not much. So I think I’m going to do a review similar to some online reviews where I rate components of the media on a scale of 1 to 10, then average them together to get an overall score! Yep, I’m gonna do basic math… this is why I’m in a Ph.D. program ~_^
Anyway, for a manga, what components could we rate…? Well, plot is obvious. Art, too. And then maybe character development and re-readability, as in, whether I would sit down and read the whole thing again. That sounds good! So four components!
Then, without further ado, the manga!
Mugen Spiral (story and art by Mizuho Kusanagi):
Plot: 7/10 – Well, I liked this manga but it did take me a couple of chapters to really get into it. The basic story, for a very small re-cap, is that high school student Yayoi is descended from a family of spiritualists with the ability to communicate with and exorcise demons. She is the keeper of the “Spirit Wheel Key” which allows her to summon spirits to help her with her efforts. A demon prince by the name of Ura (on the cover above) ends up having his sights set on her – he wants to eat her powers, which would kill her, in order to save the demon world from his brother Ouga and rescue his sick father. It takes a long time for him to confide in Yayoi about this, however, and so there is a lot of him trying to eat her powers (which, of course, is done by a ‘kissing motion’) while she uses her own powers to seal him away, which has two results: either he is transformed into a human with shorter hair and no powers (in one of the ‘Author’s notes’ Mizuho Kusanagi claims that her readers seem to prefer the short-haired Ura, but I personally think he looks much better with the long hair), or a cute little black kitty cat, also with no powers. You can see Ura and Yayoi in the below images of the covers of the original two volumes before they were combined into a single edition.
See, in my opinion he looks more like a ‘tough-guy’, adolescent delinquent on the right with the short hair and earring, and just really handsome and pretty on the left with the long braided hair. But that’s just me.
As expected, the two finally start to warm up to each other and he falls for her, reaching the point where he no longer wants to eat her powers and… well, that’s the problem. It’s cute and nice and all but we don’t know how he’s going to save the demon world without her powers or how everything is going to conclude, because the manga doesn’t really have a conclusion. At least not to that plot arc. Their relationship, too, is sort of left at the point where it’s obvious they care for each other but there are no direct confessions. A kiss on the forehead, some flirting, and you basically know they’ll end up together so that mostly satisfied me, but it still would have been nice if it had been wrapped up a little neater. As far as the plot arc above, Ura temporarily defeats Ouga and then we discover a mysterious other demon who is working with Ouga and obviously is very dangerous and with great power. He takes the injured Ouga away and we’re left wondering who he is and what his evil designs are and… you never see him again. Ever. The story just ends after that, nothing concluded. Thus, the plot receives a lower score from me. It ahs plenty of potential, but it never goes anywhere.
There are a couple of cute ‘side stories’, one where Yayoi and Ura go back in time and meet her as a little girl, and one where we see a bit of Ura’s childhood when his brother Ouga was still a good little kid and their mother, the Queen of the Demons, tries to be a matchmaker for them. It’s quite cute.
There are some hints of boys’ love in the form of Hakuyo, a very pretty male demon who wants to become Ura’s lover, although it seems he’s more interested in this because it would make him rich and spoiled than that he’s extremely in love with Ura or anything. I also really enjoy when the side plot occasionally brings in some local ‘real’ cats who like to scheme with the adorable cat-Ura to mess with Yayoi.
Art: 8/10 – The art is very good, but for some reason there are times when it looks a bit novice to me. I’m not sure what it is; I feel like their heads are sometimes too wide and flat, and that they’re not as symmetrical as they should be. The background detail is quite nice, though. Overall, pretty good art.
Character Development: 7/10 – We really get to know Yayoi and Ura well, but we’re left hanging about how their relationship will continue to develop, even though it’s obvious that it will. We’re also left hanging about Ouga and the other mysterious enemy – what is their relationship? Why, really, is Ouga so determined to destroy his family relationships to rule the demon world? We get hints of this, but it could be developed better. Basically, like the plot, everything with the character development also feels somehow unfinished.
Re-readability: 6/10 – Well… due to the plot and character development issues above, I give this a slightly lower score. I do think I’ll probably read it again at some point but it’s not something I would rush into and there are many other things I would rather re-read before this one. I’d be more inclined to pick the book up and skim through the parts I know were entertaining to me than to read the whole thing again.
Overall Score: 7/10 – I still recommend it as it was cute, mildly romantic, and oftentimes quite humorous story with an interesting, albeit unfinished, plot. It’s definitely something to check out or borrow from a friend, even if you don’t want to purchase it yourself.
Higurashi: When They Cry: Demon Exposing Arc (story by Ryukishi07, art by En Kito):
Plot: 9/10 – I could barely put this one down! The story is that of Natsumi, a cute girl who moves with her family to a new city from their hometown of Okinomiya near the village of Hinamizawa where her grandmother is from, and… well… bad things happen. I don’t want to spoil the mystery, so I won’t go into excessive detail, but it gets extremely gory at times, yet always remains engaging. I didn’t know this when I picked the volume up, but apparently Higurashi: When they Cry is a large series of anime, manga, and games that all revolve around the mysterious happenings in Hinamizawa village which are related to a curse bestowed by the village god, Oyashiro-sama. There is plenty of murder and gruesome death and creepy plotlines throughout all the incarnations of the series. This particular ‘arc’ is, as I understand it, unique because it talks about residents of the city who moved elsewhere, but it seems the curse followed them. Natsumi simply wants a normal, happy life with her school friends and the Akira, the boy she likes, but her grandmother starts muttering about the curse, and then family members appear to go crazy and begin killing each other, and poor Natsumi is caught in the middle… or so it seems. The story ends with a phenomenal twist that… well, you’ll just have to read it, as long as you don’t mind gruesome, bloody tales of horror. It’s a tad disturbing sometimes, but not really scary in my opinion. I don’t regularly read horror manga, but this had a lot of aspects of mystery to it as well, and I LOVE mystery. It was great. It definitely makes me want to check out the rest of the larger series! Although it seems even within the larger series the overall mystery of what is up with Oyashiro-sama’s curse on Hinamizawa village and its residents has not yet been solved. But the romance bit is very sweet at times, though quite tragic at other times. Overall, I found the plot to be excellent.
Art: 10/10 – The art for this manga was GORGEOUS, in my opinion! I could stare at it all day. The images were very professional and the characters were all very expressive. The scenery, screen-tones, everything was done excellently, especially given all the … er… blood that appeared in the story. I really think the characters came out most beautifully though – lots of emotion.
Character Development: 8/10 – The character development was also done quite excellently. You really start to feel for the main characters, Natsumi and Akira, and get attached to them. The only drawback was that, since this is a smaller arc in a much larger series of stories, you don’t necessarily get all of the info on all of the characters, particularly the two detectives, Akasaka and Oiishi, who appear in other stories of the series. They seem like quite interesting characters, but I’d have to read more about them in the other stories to fully become familiar with them. This is not necessarily that much of a drawback, though, because readers are supposed to be familiar with the rest of the series, although this manga does manage to work as a stand-alone title.
Re-readability: 9/10 – Because the art is so gorgeous and the story is so engaging and you really feel for the characters, I think I will definitely read this again at some point even though I already know how the mystery turns out.
Overall Score: 9/10 – I’m really glad I bought this one and I hope to read some of the other stories in the series at some point as well. The only drawback would be, again, that I hear the mystery is still not completely solved, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing either as it keeps one guessing. The main point is that this book clearly left me wanting more! ^_^
Well, I hope everyone enjoyed my little manga reviews here! I plant to post more in the future. Nothing long or extravagant, but maybe they’ll give you an idea of what sorts of things you might want to look into or read in the future!
Until next time! 🙂