Shônen dump

Sadly, last month offered insufficient dubious manga to assemble a poll. More sadly, your choice in the first of these polls, Maid Shokun, was undone by the shuttering of Tokyopop. (I ended up ordering the runner-up and will be reviewing it in this week’s Bookshelf Briefs installment.) On the bright side, the June 2011 Previews catalog offers a number of suspect debuts that are far enough outside of my comfort zone to earn candidacy. Let’s begin!

Tales of the Abyss: Asch the Bloody, by various, Bandai: Based on Namco’s role-playing game, Tales of the Abyss! Asch is the lost prince of a country torn asunder by prophecy. Cloned and replaced by a new prince, Asch finds himself among the ranks of God-General, fighting to destroy the very prophecy for peace that his clone will fulfill. War, magic, and science clash, but at their heart stands Asch the Bloody.

I must first “thank” Sean Gaffney for pointing out this listing. “Thank” you, Sean. Based on the cover, this seems like one of those books where the creators (various as they may be) spent more time on character design than anything else. I’m not instinctively averse to properties based on games, since Monster Collection (CMX) proved that even commercial spin-offs of this nature can be delightful. Still, Tales of the Abyss seems to emit a generic fug.

Bloody Monday, written by Ryou Ryumon, illustrated by Koji Megumi, Kodansha Comics: Takagi Fujimaru may seem like a regular high school student, but behind the cheery facade lies a genius hacker by the name of Falcon. When his father is framed for a murder, Falcon uses his brilliant hacking skills to try and protect his sister and clear his father’s name. However, he finds that his father, an agent in an elite government agency, was involved with something far more complex than a simple murder. A terrorist group is plotting against the city of Tokyo and it is up to Falcon, with the help of his friends to unravel the twisted plans set in place to kill millions of people.

Does every shônen magazine need to try and come up with its own version of Death Note? No, I mean, do they really need to try that? It almost never works.

Mardock Scramble, written by Tow Ubukata, illustrated by Yoshitoki Oima, Kodansha Comics: Rune Balot is a prostitute who is nearly murdered by Ciel, an enigmatic casino manager, who suffers from a disease that forces him to remove and store his memories. A victim for most of her life, Rune faces a choice. While on the brink of death, she is given the opportunity to live. It is not a simple choice for a victim, but Rune takes it. A professor brings Rune back to life as a cyborg with the ability to control electronics and partners her up with a self-aware universal tool named Oeufcocque. Together they begin to unravel the mystery behind Ciel and Rune sheds the role of the victim, but must struggle between seeking justice and vengeance.

Putting all other things aside, “Rune Balot” is one of the most annoying protagonist’s names I’ve seen in many a moon. Also, that cover suggests to me that Rune may not be as empowered as the solicitation suggests. Also, I cannot see myself happily typing “Oeufcocque” over and over again, should circumstances demand I review it. Also, the plot sounds as familiar as familiar gets.

So, those are our candidates. If you would, please cast your vote in the comments. You can pick something because you think I might actually end up enjoying it, or you can pick something because you’re a schadenfreude addict, or you can pick something for any reason that tickles your fancy. Just pick!


Recent events force me to hold a runoff in my most recent dubious manga poll. What say you? Drifters (Dark Horse) or Kannagi (Bandai Entertainment)? They tied for second in the first round.


Gods and monsters

It’s time again for you to choose among three dubious debuts in the new Previews catalog! I’m not saying all of these candidates sound awful, but each has enough of a “not for me” vibe emanating off of it to make me suspicious. Let’s begin!

Drifters vol. 1, written and illustrated by Kohta Hirano, Dark Horse: First he pitted the Catholic church against vampires, Nazis, and Great Britain, bathing London in a flood of blood. But Hellsing creator Kohta Hirano still had something crazy up his sleeve when he created his new series, Drifters.

Imagine a world of magic, full of elves and hobbits and dragons and orcs. Inside this world of magic and wonder there is a great war being waged, using warriors from human history as chess pieces in a bloody, endless battle. Hirano’s new concept gathers famous warriors throughout history and puts them on both sides of good and evil, and then turns them loose in a bloody melee of madness.

Okay, I might have been unable to resist a little copy editing in that blurb. For instance, “new concept” sounds like a rather generous turn of phrase for what sounds like a mash-up of at least five existing properties, so maybe “current concept” would be more apt. I’m not a big fan of body-count balderdash, though the series does sound like it could have some amusing distractions. And it’s a nominee for the current round of Manga Taisho awards, reasonable predictors of manga that could be much worse, at the very least. Drifters is running in Shônen Ganosha’s Young King OURs.

Kannagi vol. 1, written and illustrated by Eri Takenashi, Bandai Entertainment: Nagi’s a strange young girl – and not just because she popped out of a tree! She tells Jin (who’s a perfectly normal high school boy) that she’s a goddess. But is she really? As a matter of fact, she is! Normal girls, even strange ones, don’t come from trees, you know. And soon, the odd pair start living under the same roof together. Thus begins the first volume of a bizarre manga tale that wends it way through both the comical and serious! More or less.

I almost dozed off halfway through typing that paragraph, so generic is the description it provides. Also, that’s less of a skirt than it is a flared cummerbund that’s slipped. Kannagi is running in Ichijinsha’s Comic REX, though it’s apparently on hiatus.

The Diary of a Crazed Family vol. 1, written by Akira and illustrated by wEshica, Tokyopop: A thousand years ago, Enka, the god of destruction, died vowing that its “child” would one day destroy the world. in order to prevent this, “Operation Cozy Family” is implemented in which the children who are potentially prophesied as the “Child of Enka” are forced to live together. This impromptu family contains all children, human and otherwise, as well as an official of the bureau and a self proclaimed goddess who act as the parents of the household. The goal of “Operation Cozy Family” is to discern who the prophecy applies to, as well as to teach them all about the love of family in hopes of convincing the “Child of Enka” not to destroy the world. but with all families, there’s bound to be mishaps and adventure – especially when the fate of the world is at hand!

I confess that my objections to this one are pretty arbitrary: I think the character design of the girl on the cover is annoying, and I’m not a fan of dippy pen names. The plot actually sounds like it could be kind of fun. The series is currently running in Enterbrain’s FB Online.

So which of the above would you like me to order and endure? Please vote in the comments!