NEPHYLYM VOL 1, DARK EDGE VOL 7,8,9

NEPHYLYM VOL 1, DARK EDGE VOL 7,8,9
Written and Drawn by Rei Kusakabe, Yu Aikawa
Published by
DrMaster

Part of the charm of manga is its wondrous diversity, illustrated quite well by these two titles from DrMaster. Of course, with diversity, you also get a diverse level of quality, and that is also well illustrated by these two books.

NEPHYLYM teels the story of a young boy named Shun born with the power to give off static electric charges to metals. But as odd as that is, he is visited by a strange winged bird-girl named Air that chooses him to be her “Answerer”- in essence, Shun will act as an avatar for Air’s power in the fight against evil, which takes the form ofg humans and is comprised of a black, crystalline substance. Shun feels lost until he discovers that one of his classmates also has one of these winged partners. But before love can find traction and evil can be battled, he must deal with another classmate who fights the black crystals as well… and who loathes him.

Fun, charming manga set-up. Fairly bland art, but nothing distracting from telling the story. No fanservice. In short, this should feel like a solid book aimed at the younger female audience. The violence is even pretty subdued, not graphic. But…. wow. Just when you think, this book could work and go somewhere, Tsukasa, the third fighter, enters the picture and the book completely derails. This is one of the single most annoying characters in a manga I have ever seen- and you’re talking to someone who owns over 200 volumes. And has read over three hundred. I was so flabbergasted at how awful the character was that I lost my taste for the book completely. Maybe NEPHYLYM will improve as the series moves forward, but I’m in no hurry to find out.

On the flip side, DARK EDGE is an absolutely fine action-horror book. Set in an academy where the occult and supernatural reign supreme, there are vampires on staff, and being sealed in a coffin can make the rest of the world forget you exist, Aikawa has produced a dandy little bit of soap opera as well. DARK EDGE, with its love of vampires, should be an easy sell to the TWILIGHT crowd. But what really jumps out at you is the art, which handles emotion and gore with equal grace. Throw in characters that entertain and entrance, and you have a reading experience quite the opposite of NEPHYLYM.

And that is the beauty of manga.

Marc Mason

KING OF FIGHTERS ART BOOK

THE KING OF FIGHTERS ART BOOK
Drawn by Wing Yan and King Tung
Published by
DrMaster

I openly admit that the volumes of THE KING OF FIGHTERS manga series have never really floated my boat. I’m not a gamer, and had no investment fro the property in that direction, and the heavy emphasis on action and relatively low emphasis on character isn’t the type of manga that I enjoy. But one thing I could always appreciate was the art, and the amazing color palette used in the series. With this lovely art book, you get a chance to see more of that and in a very nice format.

Printed at 9×12, and on thick paper that saturates the colors brilliantly on the page, THE KING OF FIGHTERS ART BOOK is a really nice-looking work, and demonstrates the power of manga-style art in a way you can’t always get on the smaller, 5×7.5 page in black and white. These images show off the depth of the figures particularly well, and also bring them a bit closer to human; at this size and in color, the things you tend to associate with manga such as over-sized eyes, are given a blunt edge. It’s something of a surprising effect, really.

The book isn’t perhaps for everybody, but for those who are manga fans or who simply have a curiosity about ways the form can be done, this is a reasonably priced way to try it out.

Marc Mason

PURI PURI VOL 3-4

PURI PURI VOL 3 AND 4
Written and Drawn by Chiaki Taro
Translated and Adapted by Daniel Sullivan and Asako Otomo
Published by
DrMaster

Kamioda’s quest to enter the priesthood got slightly derailed at the end of volume two, as a demon exposed Kamioda to the perversity that lived in his heart. Shaken to his core, he now considers giving up; after all, the girls at the divinity school want him gone anyway, so they can have their environment back as it was. But somehow he struggles through it and continues on his quest. His next challenges include joining the school’s Templar knights, helping potential love interest Ayano learn to sing, and trying not to get caught in all the wacky female flesh-baring situations he finds himself in. What’s a poor boy with a lifetime of celibacy ahead of him supposed to do?

One of the things that has set PURI PURI apart from other fanservice manga (and I think at this point, we have to squarely put the book in that category) is the character of Kamioda himself. Many fanservice mangas focus on boys who have less than honorable intentions about girls, even if they’re unable to act on them. But Kamioda is different; he is struggling with his attraction to Ayano, as he knows that his life as a priest would preclude any sort of relationship with a member of the opposite sex. He’s going through puberty, so his hormones are screeching, but ultimately he’s just confused… and no longer always certain of his purpose. That makes him more relatable than many other manga characters.

Artistically, Taro’s gift for fanservice certainly has… developed. The book looks so much more polished as volume four rolls around, as opposed to volume one. The one place where the book actually does go completely wrong is actually in Taro’s “liner notes” bits at the back of volume three. He informs the readers of his newfound passion for “maid cafes” and that he spends his days off looking for the perfect one. Um, dude? So didn’t need to know your personal fetish.

Marc Mason