Review: Yotsuba&!, vol. 6

yotsuba_6Yotsuba&!, vol. 6
By Kiyohiko Azuma
Rated All Ages
Yen Press, $10.99

Yotsuba&! has become such a phenomenon in the manga world that it is impossible to write a truly objective review. Everybody loves the little green-haired kid!

The phenomenon might be a little harder for those new to manga to understand. The basic premise of the comic—cute kid misunderstands things in a humorous way—is so simple as to be universal. It’s the underpinning of countless newspaper comic strips and children’s books, and Yotsuba&! never strays too far from that premise. What makes it special is that it is done so well, with solid writing and beautiful, clear artwork.

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Review: CSI: Intern at Your Own Risk

51QCECk36RLCSI: Intern at Your Own Risk
Story by Sekou Hamilton
Art by Steven Cummings
Rated T, for Teen, 13+
Tokyopop, $12.99

I’m going to confess up front that I have only watched the CSI TV show a few times, and I didn’t really care for it; the close-up shots of innards always struck me as a bit cheesy. My tastes lean more toward Law and Order, Bones and NCIS, which go a bit lighter on the bodily fluids.

Fortunately, Tokyopop’s CSI manga doesn’t lean much on the TV show. Instead, it’s geared for teen readers with a group of high-school students who get the awesome experience of being interns at the Las Vegas CSI labs, with the characters from the show playing the part of their kindly but distant instructors.

If you haven’t already suspended disbelief, please do so now.

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Review: Four-Eyed Prince, vol. 1

Four-Eyed PrinceFour-Eyed Prince, vol. 1
By Wataru Mizukami
Rated T, ages 13+
Del Rey, $10.99

Four-Eyed Prince is a cliché-ridden story of a girl who admires a classmate from afar, confesses her love, gets rejected, and goes home to find out that he is her stepbrother. Sachiko is yet another of those plucky orphans who is being dumped on a random family member, in this case, the mother who abandoned her as a baby. The prince, Akihiko, is your usual spectacles-wearing manga guy, cool and aloof, and he wants nothing to do with his klutzy, emotional new stepsister. (Note: Although they go to the same school, Sachiko had no idea this guy was her mother’s stepson until she walked in the door of their house. He, of course, knew it all along. Like life, manga isn’t fair.)

Warning: Spoilers and indignation after the cut

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Review: Crown, vols. 1 and 2

crown1largeCrown, vols. 1 and 2
Written by Shinji Wada
Art by You Higuri
Rated OT, for Older Teens (16+)
Go! Comi, $10.99

When I first looked at the cover of the first volume of Crown, my heart sank a bit. Could you get any more cliched than that—two hot guys with a girl in the center? Then I turned to the title page…
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Reviews: Sinner theater

Hell Girl, vol. 1
By Miyuki Eto
Rated OT, for Older Teens (16+)
Del Rey, $10.99

Nightmares for Sale, vol. 1
by Kaoru Ohashi
Rated OT, for Older Teens (16+)
Aurora, $10.99*

Presents, vol. 1
By Kanako Inuki
Rated M, for Mature readers (18+)
CMX, $12.99

One of the most interesting mini-genres of manga what John Jakala brilliantly named “comeuppance theater,” in which we get to watch someone behave badly and then pay a creative and usually bloody price for their sins.

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Review: Yokai Doctor, vol. 1

Yokai Doctor, vol. 1
By Yuki Sato
Rated OT, ages 16+
Del Rey, $10.99

In Japanese folklore, yokai are unseen, often mischievous spirits that interfere in people’s lives in unexpected ways. They aren’t just vague spiritual entities—yokai usually have an odd mix of human and animal characteristics and often have very specific functions, such as cutting mosquito netting or licking out pots.

Yokai figure in a number of manga, including Koge-Donbo’s Kon Kon Kokon (unfortunately abandoned for other projects) and Nina Matsumoto’s Yokaiden. So the idea of a manga about a yokai doctor, someone who understands these odd creatures and knows what makes them tick, sounds like it would have to be a winner.

Unfortunately, Yokai Doctor falls somewhat short of greatness. It isn’t terrible by any means, but the creator relies too much on slapstick and fan service for cheap laughs at the expense of developing the story and the characters.

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