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Original English-language Manga
King of RPGs
King of RPGs
Original English-language Manga

King of RPGs simply put is an American made manga that doesnít take itself too seriously; however it brings an in-depth look into a world that is rarely given a chance to have a voice, the world of table-top RPGs. From the author of Manga: The Complete Guide, Jason Thompson and illustrations by Victor Hao, King of RPGs brings a full spectrum of table RPGs from the old school Dungeons and Dragons dice games to the now popular card games.

The manga stars Shesh Maccabee, a University of California, Escondido student who is the definition of a hard-core gamer. He is so hard-core in fact that it is criminal, literally. Before being shipped off to college and into the care of his friend, Mike, an avid Japanese RPG fan, Shesh is given a court order and a wireless ban to keep him away from any computer that would feed his need for gaming. Everything is fine until his new found friend Jen introduces him to the campus gaming club and they meet Theodore Dudek, a table-top game master who views the game of Mages and Monsters as more of a lifestyle than a simple game.

King of RPGs manga illustrationWhat ensues is a crazy ride that takes Shesh and Theodore deep into the realm of table-top games and on the brink of insanity. The manga explores the table-top world wonderfully without stammering in the typical stereotypical characters and scenarios. There are even moments where the reader can find themselves actually understanding the rules of the game and getting into it. All the characters play their parts with a little bit of dramatic emphasis which gives the manga a constant upbeat feeling. Even though some of the characters are overly flamboyant they are very believable and actually have a bit of charm to them. Surprisingly you may find yourself rooting for these flamboyant characters in the most outlandish situations.

In terms of plot, King of RPGs is filled with wit and humor that ranges from laughing out loud funny to gut busting humor that keeps the story intriguing and entertaining. Overall, King of RPGs is a fun look into a world that is usually criticized as being dated and boring. It breaks ground and shows with every turn of the page that there is a lot of fun to be hand with a few folks, a table, some cards and some dice.

Reviewed by Laura Aira, June 2010

Pixie manga
Original English-language Manga Review

Pixie is graphic novel about a young prince named Ael, who fantasizes about going on great adventures far, far away from the confines of his castle home. Ael is a very extraordinary child because he has the ability to bring dreams to existence. One night he is kidnapped by a thief named Pixie, who was instructed to steal the golden bracelet on the prince's wrist. When he struggles and fails to get the bracelet off of the sleeping prince's wrist, he quickly decides to stuff Ael in a bag and slip off into the night.

On his journey to collect the payment for his kidnapping of the Prince, Pixie comes to realize that Ael is an annoying, spoiled brat that won't shut up. These two characters, Pixie and Ael, add some comedic relief to the intensity of the novel. They spend night and day arguing with each other until Pixie arrives at the location. When the old woman learns that the bracelet won't come off, she decides to chop Ael's arm off instead. Pixie saves him and they run upstairs to a wrecked room, with no walls, looking over a cliff. Ael trips and falls through a creaky board, bringing Pixie along with him down into another world.

Pixie mangaAlong their travels and countless bickering with each other, they come across Evelyn, a lost, young woman (who has an amazing fighting style and the skill to invoke ancestral gods) from a land called Sierra. She decides to join Pixie and Ael so they all can find their way back to their homelands together. When she learns about Ael's ability to bring his dreams to life she decides to stop him from sleeping until they can find a therapy for it.

Pixie has stunning artwork, impressive combat scenes and non-stop action and drama. The style of this artwork is medieval combined with fantasy. So if you're a fan of fairies, zombies, lycanthropes or otherworldly creatures, Pixie is the graphic novel for you.

Reviewed by Laura Aira, April 2010

Orange Crows
Orange Crows
Original English-language Manga Review by Brian Cirulnick

Call me a traitor, but in many cases, I'm beginning to prefer Original English-language Manga (OEL) to the manga brought in, flipped and translated. For one, it's giving jobs to local talent to come up with the story and draw it. Secondly, the manga can actually be targeted to the American audience, so things that might not go over as well here (like nudity/panty shots/shower scenes) can automatically be expunged in the planning stages rather than in printing.

Orange CrowsTake this manga for example, Orange Crows. I would feel very comfortable handing this to my niece without worrying that I'd be forever persona-non-grata if my brother or his wife flipped through it and found objectionable material. Furthermore, as an OEL, it's great. The art is fantastic and the story, while relying on some established ground, is original enough to keep you entertained. I mean seriously, this *is* manga, it's just that it's never been published in Japan. If the Koreans have "Manwha", then perhaps we need a special word for English Manga, maybe I'll coin a phrase. "Mangajin" was already used for a Japanese culture magazine, "Amerimanga" was used for a time, but perhaps I'll go with Eigo-Zine. There, I've created a new phrase for fandom to use, now go out and use it.

And while you're promoting my new word, pick up Orange Crows. I found it to be quite good, and I'm sure you'll also discover that this story revolving around a young witch exiled into a barren wasteland and then suddenly thrust back into her civilization only to find that she's to be "re-assesed" (or executed), has more to it than meets the eye.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, February 2010

Original English-language Manga Review

This beautifully illustrated graphic novel tells the story of Luuna, a young Indian woman setting out on her vision quest. This is a coming-of-age ritual where she must find her totem-a spirit that will help guide her through life. But her elders have chosen the wrong night for Luuna to go on this quest-because it is the night of the evil spirit Unuki. During Luuna's encounter with Hohopah, the spirit of the forest, Unuki confronts both Hohophah and Luuna.

LuunaUnuki tells Hohophah that a battle between them will destroy the earth, and that the only way to prevent this is to share Luuna. So, Luuna then ends up having two totems-a black and a white wolf. When the moon is full, she is under the spell of Unuki and is capable of great destruction. Luuna must now figure out a way to deal with these totems.

It's a captivating tale that is equal doses of suspense, humor, adventure, and tragedy. Luuna confronts a series of challenges that help to shape who she is. The gorgeous artwork by Nicolas Keramidas and Bruno Garcia create a lush, vivid world. Solid writing by Didier Crisse further enhances this story, working it through its complex mazes.

The path ahead of Luuna is a challenging one, filled with danger and various unknowns. But it is one you'll definitely want to follow. There's certain to be plenty of excitement and heart-stopping drama. You most certainly don't want to miss out!

Reviewed by Saul Trabal, September 2009

Dramacon: Ultimate Edition
Dramacon: Ultimate Edition
Original English-language Manga Review

A hardcover manga. That alone is enough to pique my interest, but Dramacon is a manga about a struggling manga artist and the trials and tribulations of her life as she goes to a convention and is both elated by meeting other artists and appalled at seeing men dressing like Sailormoon.

DramaconCreated by Svetlana Chmakova, I have to wonder how much of this tale is autobiographical, but nevertheless, it's all interesting reading because the characters are well thought-out and the artwork is actually pretty decent (very manga-esque!). And for those of us that can't get enough soap-opera, all I'll say is that Dramacon is aptly named.

Containing all three volumes of the award winning comic, Dramacon: Ultimate Edition is a big, heavy, hardcover tomb that will have you turning pages for hours. Despite it's impressive weight, you can't put it down.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, February 2009

Gear School
Gear School
Original English-language Manga Review

It's "The Breakfast Club" meets "Macross". Humanity is already at war with a bug-like alien race. Our weapons of choice are three-story tall robots known within the military as "Gear". Only the best and the brightest are allowed to pilot these amazing machines, but the process of elimination begins as early as Junior High.

Gear SchoolThirteen year old Teresa Gottlieb has just entered the most prestigious military academy, known to all as Gear School, to try and become one of the elite -- to become a Gear Pilot. But on top of all the usual troubles that a seventh-grader has to put up with -- boys, social cliques, hellish instructors, teen angst -- she also has to deal with the care and handling of giant war machines and putting a stop to alien invasions.

Gear School fuses the best elements of Top Gun and Starship Troopers, while placing it in a younger school environment, where the stress of dealing with competition between classmates is heaped upon by the stress of just trying to become an adult, and all the associated nonsense that brings. The look of the comic is awesome with a pronounced anime feel to the characters and mecha designs, and the strong color design is clearly anime influenced as well.

Gear School has all the elements that make for a great anime/manga/graphic-novel experience, and any anime fanboy (or fangurl) should be proud to be carrying a copy in his or her backpack.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, April 2008

Paradigm Shift
Paradigm Shift
Original English-language Manga Review

It's not easy being a cop in the mean streets of Chicago. Under normal conditions, Detectives Kathryn McCallister and Michael Stuart have to deal with big time crooked scum. They're hot on the case of some low-life arms dealers. (One of them fired an Uzi at Kate.) Conditions are not normal. Horribly dismembered corpses are showing up in the streets. They look as though they were savaged by a wild animal. A wild animal? In Chicago? Is there a full moon out or something?

Paradigm ShiftThe coroner doesn't want to hear that crap. All Gina Anielewicz knows is that this can't be the work of a human being. The results aren't back on that tuft of fur they found at one of the crime scenes. Until then, they don't know what they're dealing with.

Officer Kate McCallister is tough as nails, and proud of it. That's why she doesn't want to let on. Things have been getting crazy for her. That perp with the uzi? He hit her. He hit her hard. She was vomiting up blood. She was ready for the meat wagon. Once she hit the emergency room, the doctor pronounced her wounds superficial. She walked out of the hospital with minor stitches. The scars were gone by the next day. And are those fangs sprouting out of her mouth? What the hell is going on?

It's a paradigm shift. The rules are changing. Reality is being replaced. Nature has a trick up her sleeve. Kate McCallister is caught in the middle of it; so is the thing she's hunting. She needs to know who is the hunter, and who is the hunted.

She also needs to know what is the hunter...and what is the hunted. Paradigm Shift: A graphic novel written and drawn by Dirk T. Tiede. Police Procedural/Horror/with a side order of manga. Period...End of Report.

Ongoing Webcomic: dynamanga.net

Angry Little Girls
Angry Little Girls
by Leia Lee

Original English-language Manga Review

Angry Little GirlsIf you've always wondered what kawaii chan-like cutesy little girls would be like if they were like South Park characters, cursed like sailors, and were generally angry all the time (teen angst has come a little early, my guess is that they'll suffer from a mid-life crisis before hitting puberty), then you'd like to see what happens in this colorful, strange, and bizarre look at some very angry little girls.

Kind of like Charles Shultz's 'Peanuts', there's something compelling about toddlers with adult-level neurosis. It allows us to view ourselves in the light of innocence, when the vast problems of the world were just little things.

Angry Little Girls

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, January 2008

Original English-language Manga Review

Fred Gallagher's rather brilliant web comic is available as two volumes. Successfully combining anime, computers, gaming, "l33t speak", and a convoluted plot that is simply hysterical, this American manga weaves a clever but wacky cast of characters against an ongoing pattern of bad luck. Stranded in Tokyo with no money, no place to live, and no way to get back home, our heroes manage to make-do and even achieve greatness.

MegaTokyoAlthough the art quality varies from strip to strip (depending upon deadlines and other factors), the art is dead-on in terms of the character's expressions. The unfinished look, with lots of pencils lines still showing, has a charm that few traditional manga can touch. And the books contain many images never seen in the web comic - this alone makes it worth the price. Plus, you can enjoy it offline - a great read while you're sitting in the airport, awaiting your flight to Japan....

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, July 2004

Buy from Amazon.com
Original English-language Manga Review

A girl named Wherever chances upon a lost graveyard in the Massachusetts town of Bizenghast. There she learns to her horror that she is not only an observer of the strange and otherworldly events that swirl around her. She seems to be a central part of them.

BizenghastM. (Marty) Alice LeGrow, a finalist in TOKYOPOP's RISING STARS OF MANGA competition, offers lavish artwork in this gothic excursion through a twilight world of caged spirits and dark shadows. Make sure the lights are on when you read Bizenghast. The next scream you hear might be your own.

Reviewed by Lawrence Sufrin, December 2005

Applegeeks: Freshman Year
Applegeeks: Freshman Year
Original English-language Manga Review

Next to MegaTokyo, AppleGeeks is my favorite webcomic. As you might guess from the title, our main character, Hawk (who appears to be the alter-ego of the artist/creator), has a fetish for all material from the cult of Steve Jobs, AKA Apple Computer.

Applegeeks: Freshman YearJayce, an introspective writer, and Hawk, an excitable artist and inventor/genius, have unofficially taken up residence in the home of sweet and thoughtful Alice and hard-drinking, hard-smoking, hard-hitting Gina. The foursome's busy trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives, and how to fit their college classes in around marathon video-game sessions, visits to the comic shop, and offbeat road trips, but, when Hawk gets fed up with constantly striking out with women and decides to create the perfect girlfriend in his basement lab, passing classes suddenly becomes the least of the group's worries! She, umm, just isn't that into him. Plus she has some personality quirks (like occasionally blowing stuff up).

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, August 2009

StarCraft Ghost Academy
StarCraft Ghost Academy
Original English-language Manga Review

Blizzard and TOKYOPOP have joined forces together and produced a manga based on the greatest game of all time: StarCraft!! If you're not familiar with StarCraft, to put it simply, it's a real-time sci-fi strategy war game developed by Blizzard Entertainment for the PC. It's an in-depth story about the Terran, Zerg and the Protoss.

StarCraft Ghost Academy is an inside look at what truly happens in the Ghost Academy. When someone's son or daughter is selected to be a part of the Ghost Academy, there is no negating with the Dominion officers that will show up at your front door and escort your child to the Academy whether you like it or not. It's not all fun and games, as all the PSIs go through rigorous mental and physical training each and every day. As you know, Ghosts are capable of reading minds and becoming invisible only if a psi-screen is not up.

StarCraft Ghost AcademyOne of the trainees at the Academy, Nova Terra, is one of the most powerful psionics in the fourth class. She must learn how to work as a team with the four members of the blue team or face having the entire blue team fail with low percentage scores. This is something Tosh, the leader of the blue team cannot allow. StarCraft Ghost Academy has a lot of powerful fighting scenes; it makes you feel as if you're watching a real life combat take place right before your eyes. The characters are very realistic, especially Lio, a psionic with a strong addiction to an illegal drug called Hab.

Yes you get an experience at what it is like to be in the Ghost Academy, but you also witness the personal lives of the psionics that go through the days and nights of the intense training at the StarCraft Ghost Academy.

Reviewed by Laura Aira, March 2010

CSI: The MangaCSI: The Manga
CSI: The Manga
Original English-language Manga Review

A group of five young interns are the newest members of the Las Vegas Crime Scene Investigation unit. Their very first case involves the brutal murder of a teen-age girl. As the interns get deeper into the case, it begins to take some surprising and frightening turns. The discoveries will head in a direction that will surprise them all.

This beautiful comic book from Tokyopop is a fine introduction into the exciting world of CSI. The plot is clever and alluring, and the artwork is crisp and a delight to behold. The reader will get drawn in rapidly into the world of the five young interns, and find out what makes each of them tick. They all have a fascination and zest for the case, and are doggedly determined to get to the bottom of this murder mystery. It's without a doubt a page turner that you just can't put down.

Reviewed by Saul Trabal, December 2009

Ghostbusters manga
Original English-language Manga Review

It was way back in 1984 when Ghostbusters burst upon the silver screens of America. Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd and Harold Ramos hunted wayward spirits in New York armed with the latest in science, technology and great special effects. A literate, intelligent script made the film more than a series of sight gags and silly antics. The result was a box office success that captured the imagination, as well as the funny bone, of the movie going masses.

Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, Egon Spengler and Winston Zeddmore continued to battle ghosts and fight demons in and around Manhattan through three animated TV series. Other tie-ins such as comic books and grahpic novels would follow. Novels, toys, games and coloring books appeared at shopping malls all over the world. The Ghostbusters can go on forever with a shelf-life as long as Star Wars.

It was only a matter of time before someone came up with a manga, and that's exactly what happened courtesy of TokyoPop. Ghostbusters: Ghostbusted features six exciting stories written by Nathan Johnson and Matt Yamashita. The artwork is more than readily handled by Chrissy Delk, Maximo V. Lorenzo, Michael Shelfer and Nate Watson. Its good to know that if there is something strange in the neighborhood, you still know who you're gonna' call.

Reviewed by Laurence Sufrin, March 2009

Battlestar Galactica: Echos of New Caprica
Battlestar Galactica: Echos of New Caprica
Original English-language Manga Review

It's an all new world. One that is a complete, polar opposite of the one we knew in the late 70's and the early 80's. Back then, the Star Wars movies were considered the greatest space adventures ever to roar across the movie screen. And by contrast, the television exploits of the Battlestar Galactica and its rag-tag fleet seemed a poor imitation, with sub-par plots and even worse acting.

Things change in thirty years, but who would have guessed that they would change like this? Nowadays Jar Jar Binks yuks it up with a young Obi-Wan Kenobi in a trilogy of movies that have made the Star Wars franchise an incredible embarrassment. Battlestar Galactica, on the other hand, got a major overhaul. One that made even the likes Harlan Ellison stand up and take notice. BSG transcended "sci-fi" to become one of the most-talked-about TV series of the decade.

A manga version of Star Wars was published a while back so it's no suprise to see a manga version of Galactica. TokyoPop has published an anthology of stories based on the series. Within this tome you will find three stories of heartbreak and violence, as the remnants of the twelve colonies try to carry on after their battle with the Cylons over New Caprica.

The stories are drawn by Chrissy Delk, Christopher Schons and Anthony Wu. They are written by Emi Salsfass, Mike Wellman and Rchard Hatch. (That's the *same* Richard Hatch who starred in the original Galactica series as Apollo, and guest starred in the new series as Tom Zarek.)

Galactica owes more than a nod to manga. The creators of the original series have admitted the similarities the show has to Reiji Matsumoto's classic Space Battleship Yamato. All of this has happened before (said the joker to the thief.)

Reviewed by Lawrence Sufrin, June 2009

Star Trek: The MangaAmazon.com
Star Trek: The Manga
Original English-language Manga Review

Of course. After 6 TV series, more movies than anyone can count (and more movies on the way!), books, magazines, toys, DVD sets, and more, very will few will ever argue that Star Trek is one of the most successful Sci-Fi franchises of all time. So, of course, a manga version seems... eminently logical, captain.

Join Kirk, Spock and Bones McCoy where they bold go where few American TV shows have gone... into a manga edition!

Five all-new "episodes" take you "where no one has gone before" — The last survivors of a gender war live on as spirits in machinery and take control of the Starship Enterprise; in an attempt to combat a fatal disease, a dying race unwittingly creates an unstoppable villain that may seem eerily familiar to readers; a small colony tries to cheat death by uploading their consciousness into a satellite and reconstructing their bodies on another planet; warring planets exchange peace offerings via the Enterprise, but one "gift" may be more than what it seems; and lastly, a group of teen, warrior-robot pilots becomes restless in times of peace, turning to pillaging for thrills.

Top artists and writers from "Sector 001" have gathered to create five Star Trek episodes in the distinctive manga format. Featuring the interstellar talents of Joshua Ortega (Top Cow Comics, The Necromancer), Jim Alexander (DC Comics, Birds of Prey), Chris Dows (Malibu Comics, Star Trek:Deep Space Nine), Rob Tokar (Comiculture Magazine), Mike W. Barr (DC Comics, Star Trek), Jeong Mo Yang (Chronicles of Koryo), EJ Su (Transformers), Gregory Giovanni Johnson (Rising Stars of Manga), Michael Shelfer (Rising Stars of Manga), and Makoto Nakatsuka (Juror 13), Star Trek: The Manga offers something for everyoneóhard-core Trekkers, avid manga readers, comic book fans, and anyone who enjoys a great story.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, July 2007

Star Trek The Next Generation MangaStar Trek The Next Generation Manga
Star Trek The Next Generation
Original English-language Manga Review

The characters of the Star Trek: The Next Generation TV shows and movies star in these global manga adaptions of their adventures. This anthology collects new stories, including a tale written by David Gerrold, the writer of the (in)famous "Trouble With Tribbles" episode and contributing writer to the first Star Trek manga stories.

This highly popular television series is now an action-packed, beautifully-illustrated comic book that is sure to grab your attention. It will keep you glued to its pages to find out what's happening next. Jean Luc Picard and his crew continue their adventures on the Starship Enterprise, encountering an assortment of challenges that will test them and open up new possibilities and new worlds to explore and learn from.

Be sure to pick up a copy! Join in the continuing saga of Jean Luc Picard and the crew of the Starship Enterprise, as they explore the cosmos and confront the mysteries and adventures that await them.

Reviewed by Saul Trabal, July 2009

Star Wars Manga
Star Wars: A New Hope Manga
Original English-language Manga Review

Hey! What is Star Wars doing in the middle of an Anime website? Well dear reader, this is Star Wars as rendered by Hisao Tamaki in a "manga" style - making it what Star Wars would look like if it were populated by anime characters. As the Star Wars universe is essentially a comic-book done as live-action, the series lends itself surprisingly well to a manga adaptation.

Star Wars MangaAs Star Wars was (loosely) based on the Japanese film "The Hidden Fortress", it is fitting that the epic come full circle by being serialized as manga. Furthermore, the samurai-like Jedi finally come to their own under this adaptation, with a style and grace not matched until recently, when computer generated characters could finally use martial-arts moves during swordplay in the newer 3 films.

You may remember the Marvel Star Wars comics, which were populated by so-so artwork and left huge gaps in the storytelling. Not so with this set of books - the art is flawless in every detail and the comic breaks down the original script - even going as far as to include scenes that didn't make the final cut of the film.

Originally drawn and published for the Japanese market, Dark Horse Comics has faithfully re-translated the whole thing back into English, including panel-mirroring to read from left to right (except where action sequences dictate leaving the artwork alone).

In all, this is simply the best Star Wars comics money can buy and is a must-have for any Star Wars fanatic, as well as being a stylish and stunning example of how excellent a manga can be for those who are un-used to reading manga.

Oh, and yes, Han fires first.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, July 2006

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