Monday, January 03, 2005

Quick Manga Reviews

Negima! vol. 2
by Ken Akamatsu
How can you not like a comic in which the first half is devoted to a saga called "The Baka Rangers and the Secret Library Island"? Negi and several of his students infiltrate the school's huge library (which, as the title suggests, takes up an entire small island in the bay) in order to access a magic book that will help the students ace the year-end exams and thus prevent the class from being split up and Negi from losing his job. But the library turns out to be riddled with traps, and with Negi's magic powers blocked they all must survive Indiana Jones style until they reach the tropical island study room deep in the bowels of the library (which of course provides plenty of opportunity for the girls to lose their clothes...) With the premise of the series established, Akamatsu starts to flesh out the large cast. His art is leps and bounds ahead of his work on Love Hina, with strong, consistant characters, excelent action and storytelling, and some lush, detailed backgrounds. Yes, there is a copious amount of fan service, but with the protagonist being a ten-year-old boy it all comes off as mostly playful and teasing, rather than creepy and perverted. The translation by Peter & Kathleen David remains one of the best manga translating jobs being done today.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Crayon Shichan, vol. 1
by Yoshito Usui
This collection of three-page strips feature Shichan, a five-year-old with a penchant for getting into trouble and annoying the adults around him. If you've spent any time around kids this age, you know that they have (in Freudian terms) massively developed egos and not much in the way of superegos. Shichan is no exception, and while he's not a bad kid, he can be humorously exasperating. As with most collections of this type, it is best enjoyed in small doses, as a certain amount of sameness can creep in if read all at once.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

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