Del Rey Chibis: Kamichama Karin Chu 3, Princess Resurrection 4 & 5, Negima!? Neo, Yozakura Quartet 3 & 4

Review by Ed Sizemore

All books are priced at $10.99 US and were provided by the publisher, Del Rey, for review.

Kamichama Karin Chu Book 3

Kamichama Karin Chu Book 3 cover
Kamichama Karin Chu Book 3
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by Koge-Donbo; adapted by The Twins (Alethea & Athena Nibley)

Karin and her three male friends are incarnations of the Greek gods. They fight against Rika, who controls the seeds of chaos. Kazune, Karin’s love interest, has gone into the future to discover how best to defeat these seeds. When he returns, Kazune becomes distant and won’t discuss what he discovered. His attitude is causing Karin great distress; this in turn threatens to destroy the bond among all four gods.

I’m coming into this story very late. This isn’t just the third volume of a series; it’s the third of the sequel to another series. So I was a little unclear on some of the specifics. For example, what exactly are the seeds of chaos and what threat do they pose to the earth? However, since this volume revolves around discovering what Kazune saw in the future that disturbed him, I didn’t need those details to understand the storyline.

I didn’t find Kamichama Karin Chu that interesting. The characters weren’t that sympathetic. They seemed obsessed over their relationships with each other. Of course, they didn’t actually talk to each other about how they felt. No one confronts Kazune over the discord he’s causing among the group. Also, they didn’t really seem worried about the seeds of chaos. If the fate of the world rests in their hands, the outlook is dubious at best.

The artwork is average for a shojo series. There was too much use of the chibi style. Instead of interjecting humor, its frequency became annoying. It felt like the story lacked focus and the chibi was used to as filler to keep up the page count. If this volume is typical of the series, then I advise readers to avoid Kamichama Karin Chu. There are a wealth of wonderful shojo series that are much better.

Princess Resurrection Books 4 & 5

Princess Resurrection Book 4 cover
Princess Resurrection Book 4
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by Yasunori Mitsunaga; adapted by Joshua Hale Fialkov; $10.99 US

Princess Lilianne is a member of vampire royalty. Hiro is her knight, a high-school-aged boy who appears to be still developing his skills. Her acquaintances include Riza, a werewolf, and Reiri, a non-royal vampire. There is a survival contest among the vampire princes and princesses. They have to prove their fitness to rule by killing off the competition. The lone survivor is crowned king/queen. The manga details Lilianne’s adventures as she attempts to win the throne.

Princess Resurrection Book 5 cover
Princess Resurrection Book 5
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Princess Resurrection is a fast-paced series with plenty going on to keep you interested. There’s a good mix of action and horror story elements to keep the series fresh. In these two volumes, you get a zombie story, a classic caught-in-a-nightmare tale, and a rescue mission. It’s definitely a plot-driven series, where even character development is used to drive the story forward.

Mitsunaga has created a solid cast of characters. Each has a distinctive look and personality. You can tell it’s more alliances of necessity than actually friendship among the group. This makes for some intriguing relationship dynamics. The artwork is average. At times, characters look flat or anatomy is slightly off, but these mistakes are rare. The splash pages are very good and add a nice visual punch to the stories.

Princess Resurrection is a good escapist series. I enjoyed what I read, but there isn’t enough there to make it a must-read. For action/horror fans, this could be a good series to pick up for a change of pace or to take a break from heavier material.

Negima!? Neo Book 1

Negima!? Neo Book 1 cover
Negima!? Neo Book 1
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story by Ken Akamatsu; art by Takuya Fujima; adapted by The Twins (Alethea & Athena Nibley)

Negi Springfield is a 10-year-old magical prodigy who has already completed all his wizard schooling at this young age. As part of his apprenticeship, he has been assigned to teach English at a private Japanese academy. He is also the homeroom teacher to an all-girl junior high school class. Negi’s real challenge is having to live in the same dormitory as his students, who treat him more as a younger brother than a teacher.

Negima!? Neo is an adaptation of the second anime based on the Akamatsu manga, Negima! Magister Negi Magi. This version of the Negima universe is much more plot-driven. I know Akamatsu critics will scoff, but a lot of the nuance and character development of the original manga is taken out. Also removed is most of the risqué humor. In essence, it’s an abbreviated retelling of the original manga with some minor changes to make the story move quicker.

Fujima’s art is very similar to Akamatsu’s. Since this is based on an anime, the character designs have been slightly simplified. Perhaps the biggest change is the toning down of the fan service. Note, I didn’t say removed, but there is significantly less. Fujima’s artwork overall is excellent. He does great exaggerated expressions during the humor scenes. The action sequences are dynamic and flow well. You have to admire Akamatsu’s eye for talented artists.

If you’re currently reading the original manga, there isn’t anything to recommend this book to you. However, if you’ve avoided Akamatsu’s work because of the fan service, then you might want to give this book a try. You will be able to get a sense of the story and characters with greatly reduced amounts of panties and cleverly concealed nudity. After all, this is a streamlined version of Negima designed to appeal to a larger audience.

Yozakura Quartet Books 3 & 4

Yozakura Quartet Book 3 cover
Yozakura Quartet Book 3
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by Suzuhito Yasuda; adapted by Nunzio DeFlippis & Christina Weir

Sakurashin is a town where demons and humans live together. Until recently, the town has enjoyed a pretty quiet existence. The mayor of a neighboring town has shown up with a mysterious stranger who wants to be the mayor of Sakurashin. If Hime, the current mayor, doesn’t willingly surrender her office, then the stranger will take it by force. Hime and her friends have until sundown to figure out how to defeat the stranger and his goons. Of course, if they conquer this challenge, there is a bigger problem threatening the town’s very existence awaiting them.

I previous reviewed the first two volumes of this series. Now that Yasuda has a firm handle on the characters and the story, the problems that plagued the first two volumes are gone, and the strengths of the series begin to shine through. He has created a cast of endearing characters. The main attraction of the series is the deep affection the characters all have for each other and the town they live in. Yasuda does a great job of making the relationships feel authentic. He’s able to communicate that informality and familiarity that only longtime friends share.

Yozakura Quartet Book 4 cover
Yozakura Quartet Book 4
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The key to making these relationships so believable is the judicious use of flashbacks. It’s not easy to do well, because the flashbacks have to be brief enough not to interrupt the main storyline. The best example is when he shows us how Hime acquired her trademark scarf and what it’s meant to her through the years. Once we understand the significance of the scarf, then Hime doesn’t have to go into a long speech about how much she loves it and what sacrificing the scarf proves. Instead, she tells Akina that if it’s a choice between the scarf or the town, then the town comes first. That simple sentence provides a wealth of information. The flashbacks allow Yasuda to keep the dialog between characters natural while filling us in on the true meanings behind the words.

The artwork is superb in this series. The action scenes burst with energy and tension. Yasuda is very adept at conveying the subtler emotions like timidity, doubt, and regret. It’s obvious that Yasuda puts a lot of thought and planning into his pages. They all have a nice clean layout. It makes for quick and easy reading.

At the end of each volume is about ten pages of bonus manga. These are a true treat. In volume three, we learn how much work Yasuda puts into converting the manga from serialization format to book format. Artwork is retouched, or if needed, redrawn; additional screen tones are added; even dialogue is edited or rewritten. You get the feeling that the serialized version is simply the final rough draft of the book version.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed these two volumes. Yozakura Quartet gets better with each book. It’s worth a second chance if you tried it before and wasn’t impressed. I look forward to watching Yasuda continue to grow and mature as a manga writer.


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