Nana Volumes 1-7

Ai Yazawa’s Nana is a little slow-starting, but the result is more than worth the time invested. A few volumes in, it becomes incredibly addictive. Like many manga series these days, the first volume is prologue, leading into a simple premise. Two girls named Nana come to Tokyo to follow their dreams and in search of love; they wind up rooming together and learning from each other. Volume one is made up of two stories, each one introducing a different […]

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Baby & Me Volume 1

For every girl who’s ever dreamed of having a real life baby doll, here’s the story of a female-less family. Takuya’s mother has passed away, and his dad needs him to take care of his baby brother. The baby is completely adorable, all big head and huge eyes, barely able to walk or speak. How can anyone resist a little boy asking to make the “owwie go away” or saying he’s “sawwee”? That’s a good thing, because it keeps Takuya […]

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Erica Sakurazawa — Her Works

(This overview was originally published in The Comics Journal #269.) Earlier this year, Tokyopop announced a promotional push called “Manga After Hours”, an attempt to market some of their more mature female-oriented titles to “chick lit” buyers. Some of the first titles in this line are the works of Erica Sakurazawa. From 2003 to early 2004, six of her books were released. Although manga publishers do cross-promote based on creators — a recent volume of Maison Ikkoku shipped with a […]

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Rurouni Kenshin Volume 8

The series’ new direction begins in earnest with this volume by Nobuhiro Watsuki. Kenshin has left his friends to go to Kyoto to prevent an assassination. They react as suits their temperaments: the fighter Sanosuke with rage, the caring Kaoru with depression. They feel abandoned, although duty prevents Kenshin from doing anything else. He’s trying to protect them, in his way. I was impressed by the author’s confidence in his characterization. Kenshin doesn’t even appear until halfway through the book, […]

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Rurouni Kenshin Volume 7

This volume marks a major turning point for the wandering samurai. It begins with him having a flashback to the past, before he gave up killing, and ends with a new direction for the series by Nobuhiro Watsuki. Kenshin’s thinking of the past foreshadows the appearance of an enemy with similar history. Fujita Goro was formerly a captain of a military unit of fearsome swordsmen. Now, he’s changed his name and meekly works for the police. He also takes on […]

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Rurouni Kenshin Volume 4

Kenshin, the former assassin who’s vowed never again to kill, sets out to rescue Megumi. She’s a former doctor’s assistant being held hostage by Kanryu because of her knowledge of opium creation. Now, Kenshin has to fight past members of Kanryu’s private army of spies and freaks. Superhero fans who’ve been wondering about manga will find this a great starter volume. For one thing, at $7.95, it’s very reasonably priced, cheaper than even the standard manga price but of high […]

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Rurouni Kenshin Volume 1

Subtitled “Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story”, Rurouni Kenshin is a fighting manga set during the 1860s (the Meiji Era). It’s against the law to carry a sword, but the title character, a former assassin who’s become a wanderer, carries a reversed blade that can’t hurt anyone. He encounters Kaoru, a woman trying to maintain the reputation of her dead father’s fighting school in the face of a murderer damaging their name. After he helps her keep ownership of the school, he […]

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Ranma ½ Volume 2

As we learned in the first volume, Ranma Saotome, while undergoing martial arts training with his father, fell into a magical hot spring. Now, whenever he gets wet, he turns into a girl (because the spring was cursed when a young girl drowned in it). To change back, he has to be dowsed with hot water. Conveniently, there were hundreds of these cursed springs. Ranma’s father, for example, turns into a panda when he gets wet. It’s a flexible gimmick […]

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