Sunday, June 22, 2008

Red Angel vol. 1 by Makoto Tateno review

Red Angel vol. 1

Author/Artist: Makoto Tateno

Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing

Rating: YA - ages 16 and up

Genre: Shojo, Drama, Fantasy, Supernatural

Grade: A+

*** Review originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at http://liheliso.com/buzz/. Check it out! ***

According to the back of the book:

Demons walk among us.

From the streets of modern day New York and the hallways of a Japanese high school to the confines of a British boys' school dormitory, Mika and her twin persona, Eru, have stalked and hunted. The two are vampires - creatures driven by their thirst for blood.

A fateful encounter with the enigmatic Kinsei reveals a clue to a forgotten past. Mika remembers nothing, but Eru knows of a shared past with Kinsei. Though Kinsei seems like a vampire, he also hints at being something more. Are Mika and Eru merely creatures of darkness, or like Kinsei, are they something more ancient and powerful?

Mysteries, intrigues, and a hint of drama unravel in this two-volume masterpiece by Makoto Tateno.

It must be vampire season and it's not even Halloween yet. Oh well! Red Angel vol. 1 is the first of two books by the uncomparable Makoto Tateno-sama. It's the tale of Mika and her twin persona Eru and their exploits as vampires. But Mika and Eru aren't typical vampires. Instead of changing into bats or cats, they have a pair of crimson wings. Not only that, they seem to have somewhat of a conscience. Mika is drop dead gorgeous and is a bit intimidating at the Japanese high school that she attends. There is one girl who befriends her though. Sadly Mika betrays the friendship and feeds. She does have ettiquette though and only takes a small amount of blood and doesn't change her friend.

After hurting her friend she and Eru move to New York City. There is a reckless vampire who is draining all of the blood from his victims. Since Mika has a conscience, of sorts, she and Eru decide to try and figure out who might be the vampire who is misbehaving.

Once the mystery is solved they head to jolly olde England. Mika meets with two other vampires that she met while in New York and they head to a theatre. Mika, not knowing what is going on, finds out that it is a vampire gathering. A guest arrives and tells a terrible tale. Mika recognizes the goodness in the guest and chooses not to participate in the gathering.

Eru and Mika go back to Japan and here is where they meet Kinsei. Something is different about Kinsei.He doesn't seem to be your typical vampire. He also has a pair of crimson wings and seems to know Mika/Eru. Mika doesn't remember him but Eru knows something. Will Mika figure out who Kinsei is? Will she remember what her true identity is? Be sure to read it to find out.

Makoto Tateno-sama is one of my three favorite mangaka. Her art is so clean and tight. She has an amazing eye for detail. The style is truly original. Tateno-sama is amazing. I was so excited to read this story. Not only is it stunning to look at but the story keeps you riveted. I've never been much of a vampire story fan, but because this is Tateno-sama were talking about there is no way that I would miss it. I'm glad that read it. It is so gripping and there are so many twists and turns I don't think that I'll be able to wait until September for the second, and final, volume to come out. I am so anxious. As always Digital Manga does an excellent job. This isn't a yaoi story so anyone can read it, even though Tateno-sama is known for her awesome boys' love stories, her shoujo works are just as fantastic. I give this manga two thumbs up and if I had more thumbs they would go up too. This is one highly recommended manga even if you don't like vampire stories. If you choose not to read this work, you are really missing out on beautiful art and a gripping and interesting story.

***Review Copy provided by Publisher***
***Reposted with permission from The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society***

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Maybe I'm Your Steppin' Stone: Loveliness by Shiuko Kano review

Maybe I'm Your Steppin' Stone: Loveliness

Author/Artist: Shiuko Kano

Publisher: 801 Media, Inc.

Rating: 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Comedy, Drama, Romance

Grade: A+

The second in Shiuko Kano-sensei's construction worker series is Maybe I'm Your Steppin' Stone: Loveliness. Only this time around it stars Kousei Mogi, who we met in I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone: Shameless. I'm going to quote the back of the book:

Men, in general, are hot. Male construction workers are, in general, off the charts! The antics of the scaffold construction workers of I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone: Shameless continue in Maybe I'm Your Steppin' Stone: Loveliness. Kousei Mogi, Kazuya's sempai, finally gets his own story!
Kousei seems pretty popular with everyone- the other construction workers, the clerk at the convenience store where he buys his porn magazines- just about everyone except his ex-wife. But the many secret admirers that Kousei has are just looking for an opportunity to step up to the plate. Kenji Hirose, the clerk at the convenience store, has become a doting uncle ever since he realized that his niece and Kousei's son attend the same nursery school. When the school's sports tournament leaves Kenji injured, Kenij's more than willing to take advantage of Kousei's nursing ability and wait for the opportunity to pounce.

The back summed up the story quite well, so what more can I add?

I LOVED this manga. It was cute, funny, heartwarming, etc., etc., etc. Kano-sensei can do no wrong. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite mangaka. Not only for her amazingly hot men but her great storytelling. She can tell a touching story with the perfect amount of humor and boy can she draw uber-hot sex! Out of the two (there is a third one related to this series but it hasn't been licenced here in the states... yet [hint, hint!!!]) Maybe I'm Your Steppin' Stone: Loveliness is definitely my favorite. Who know's why? Maybe it has to do with the full color cover page of Kousei butt-naked (be still my beating heart), maybe it's the drawings of Kousei and Kenji drawn cosplay style (Kousei as an escort and Kenji as a construction worker). The only thing that would be considered a drawback is the cover. I'm not fond of it. When I first saw it I was worried about it being some buff dude squeezing the head of someone with Down's Syndrome. But I was looking at a fairly small picture on my computer screen and with the internet connection I have the accelerator distorts pictures so the pages can load faster. I highly recommend this manga to one and all, but be aware since this is Kano-sensei it will be pretty explicit. Maybe I'm Your Steppin' Stone: Loveliness is a release by 801 Media which means it is of the highest quality. You get the hot full color cover page and in this case a full color matte dust jacket. I know I can't seem to say enough about 801 Media's manga, but they do such an excellent job, I'm going to continue to shout it from the mountain tops!

***Review Copy purchased by Reviewer***

I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone: Shameless by Shiuko Kano review

I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone: Shameless

Author/Artist: Shiuko Kano

Publisher: 801 Media, Inc.

Rating: Ages 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Comedy, Drama, Romance

Grade: A

I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone: Shameless is the first in the series involving construction workers.

Sakai Kazuya is a 23-year-old scaffold construction worker. He has fallen in love with a girl who's house the construction company was doing some work. Sadly, for Kazuya, she only likes well educated guys and he only has a middle school diploma. That's where Ezumi Masashi (or as Kazuya's fellow co-workers call him Mashi) comes into the picture. He is the brother of the girl that Kazuya has his eye on. Masashi offers to tutor him for the high school entrance exam, but for a price. It's not money either. Masashi wants Kazuya's hot bod!

I really wish that the construction workers in my area looked like Shiuko Kano-sensei's. The ones around here are usually bald and overweight. One must say that Kano-sensei's manga is always filled with mega attitude and comes straight at you like the Three Stooges double eye poke. If you aren't prepared to see some major male nudity and hot male on male action you best prepare with some of Kano-sensei's other work like Affair (also published by 801 Media). Her works are always really top notch. Her character development, her art, everything is fantastic. Her men are actually MEN. Not girly looking like some other mangaka erm...Lily Hoshino for instance.

Initially I didn't know how I was going to like this volume. Kazuya is kind of clueless and obsessed with boobs. Masashi is a jerk, a know-it-all, and takes advantage of Kazuya's naïveté. But with the storytelling and art of Kano-sensei, it works. The full color cover page is hilarious, with Kazuya checking out his latest Playboy magazine and Masashi lying next to him. Absolutely adorable. Since purchasing a few titles directly through the 801 store (those were The Prime Minister's Secret Diplomacy and A Foreign Love Affair) I will only purchase my books from them. Their packaging is simply adorable. With this title it has all of the wonders of it being an 801 title but instead of the full color glossy dust jacket this, and Maybe I'm Your Steppin' Stone: Loveliness, has a full color matte dust jacket. In all honesty I love the matte covers. Any time I get a book with the matte covers all I can do is rave about how amazing they look! I think I'll need to film an infomercial for 801 because I have never been disappointed with their products. When you combine the amazing Shuiko Kano-sensei and 801 Media, I'm in heaven!

***Review Copy purchased by Reviewer***