Manga Take-Out

Manga Takeout is a branch off of Anime Takeout. Similar to Netflix, you rent manga by mail. You can have two books out ($25.95/mo) or four ($41.95/mo) at a time. The service is great for those who are low on money but prefer to keep their manga reading legal, or simply prefer holding a book in their hands.

A while back, I joined Manga Takeout. I used the 2-out plan for three months. Here’s a brief documentation of my experience:

May 27 – Joined, filled queue with about 30 titles
June 10 – Received two books (2)
June 11 – Mailed books back
June 23 – Received two books (4)
June 24 – Mailed books back
July 10 – Received two books (6)
July 11 – Mailed books back
July  27 – Received two books (8)
July 30 – Mailed books back
August  8 – Received two books (10)
August 10 – Mailed books back
August 23 – Received two books (12)
August 24 – Mailed books back and cancelled membership

Money spent – $25.95 x 3 = $77.85
Per volume – $77.85 / 12 =  $6.49

It should be noted that I live in Tennessee, and Manga Takeout ships from California. I used the quick-ship function each time, meaning that they took my word that I  had mailed my books back and sent me my next shipment. I spent $6.49 for each volume I read, so I only save a couple of dollars on each one.

Perhaps if you live closer, shipments are quicker. And if you have four out at a time, you would spend $5.24 a volume, with similar shipping times. However, if you live as far away from the shipping center as I do, I suggest you just look for bargain buys on your manga. It’ll be about the same.

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Coming This Month to Itsumo Manga

Just wanted to let you guys know what I plan on doing this month in the way of posting, in no particular order.

  • Review of Spice & Wolf light novel by Isuna Hasekura (may actually be next month, we’ll see)
  • Review of Black Butler manga volume one
  • My experience with Manga Takeout
  • Scanlations and fansubs

I’m also really hoping to get at least one shonen review from a guest reviewer. If you’re interested, please e-mail me (eleat dot yo at gmail dot com) or contact me on Google Wave (eleat.yo on there, too) and we’ll talk.

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Spice and Wolf US Cover

This is long overdue, but as the book was recently actually released, I decided to write and post it anyways.

In September, Yen Press announced that they would be publishing the Spice and Wolf light novel. The light novel market in the US is barely in existence, and most of that comes from Yen Plus and their sister company, Little Brown. They have begun publishing the Haruhi novels to a very limited success that stemmed from the previous fanbase for the Haruhi anime.

In an attempt to appeal to a larger fanbase, Yen Plus took it upon themselves to release the light novels with a custom cover, seen below. There has been an virtual riot at the release of this cover which has filled the comment sections of Yen Plus’s blog posts concerning the light novel. In the end, the company took steps to try to calm their readers, but to little avail. Most ‘fans’ of the series are still moaning about how horrible the cover is, and how the offered dust jackets simply aren’t enough.

In this post, I’ll be restating many of the things I’ve said within the comments of Yen Plus. Try to bare with me if you’ve followed those comment pages.

To start with, I personally rather like the cover. When I saw it, I immediately thought of the art book I own, imported from Japan. Unfortunately, I gave away the art book to a friend who is a bigger fan of the series than I. Let me describe the cover to you, though: Holo is nude, lying down, smiling mischievously, and artfully covered up. Hmm. Sounds familiar. I don’t feel that Yen Plus’s cover is far from the images presented within the light novel itself, nor really throughout the series. No, Holo is not always nude. But she is in the beginning, and this is the beginning.

Past that, I really admire that Yen Plus took the steps they did to satisfy their fanbase. Few companies care nearly enough to include a dust jacket with the original art as a bonus in their magazine (I do not feel that this was only to garner magazine sales, but rather the only reasonable way to get the dust jacket to their customers). Hardly any would even think of contacting online retailers and ask them to provide the dust jackets with future sales. But no, this is simply not enough for ‘fans’ of Spice and Wolf. The ‘fans’ apparently expected Yen Plus to throw away every copy so far printed of the books and make completely new ones, and have the available by the already promised date.

Frankly, if companies relied on these sorts of people, pretty much everyone would be run into the ground. If EA Games scrapped and remade every game that people complained about they’d probably still be in business. But for the most part, no one can afford to make the finicky people happy. It just can’t be done.

You may notice that I’ve been setting off ‘fans’ with those apostrophes. I have my reasons, I promise.

There is nothing wrong with viewing content which is not licensed in your country for free. However, no matter how legal it used to be to read the Spice and Wolf light novels online, or read the manga, or watch the anime, it still does not contribute money to the author. Hasekura Isuna is a very talented and very hardworking creator. Does Hasekura-san not deserve money for her work? Of course she does. I personally have imported a few of the light novels from Japan, even though I can only read so much of them in Japanese, because I enjoy the series and believe it’s worth the money. Clearly, not everyone can do this. Importing can be difficult and is almost always expensive. I understand that. But many ‘fans’ have said they are boycotting the series until Yen Plus fixes their mistake. In doing this, you are not just hurting Yen Plus. You are hurting Yen Plus, Hasekura-san, and the light novel industry itself. You are preventing the further publishing of light novels.

Please, don’t boycott the series. Buy it anyways, and tell Yen Plus how you feel. Boycotting the series doesn’t say, “I don’t like this cover.” It says, “I don’t like this series.” Yen Plus is young enough that they can listen to our complaints. By the time the announcement was made, it was far too late for them to do anything more than they have done. However, I have no doubts that if they publish the next installment in the light novel series, it will be with a veritable option for the original cover. However, as a fan of their replacement artwork, I look forward to the new artwork they might come out with.

Oh, and by the way, guys, her name is indeed Holo. If you don’t understand how the Japanese phonetic system, you can’t speak on what her name is. Anyone who listens to Japanese regularly with the ability to understand it can watch the anime and hear clearly that her name is Holo. She even writes it in Roman letters as Holo. So no, Yen Plus didn’t ‘change’ it just because your fanlators said her name was Horo

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Apology, and Phantom Dream Review

Keeping up with a blog is sort of like working out. Everything’s going great, you have your routine, etc. But then something comes up – like final exams. You figure, “Alright, I’ll focus on studying for  week or two, and pick back up when I have time.” From there, things just start going downhill.

So here I am, a month after final exams finished, coming back from hiatus. I didn’t mean to neglect my beloved blog for so long, but stuff happens. I’m sorry.

And now, to Phantom Dream! (The review I wrote a month ago!)

Author: Takaya Natsuki
Release Date: December 2008
Genre: Shojo, Fantasy
Publisher: Tokyopop

Back in 2001, the western world was introduced to Takaya Natsuki through Fruits Basket. Lovingly dubbed ‘Furuba’ by it’s huge fanbase, it quickly became a classic in both the worlds of anime and manga. It was a rare, monumentous occasion for us English-speaking fans that both of the western renditions turned out wonderfully. The manga translations are amazingly close to the originals, and I think I speak for a large part of the anime community when I say that better English dubbing is hard to find.

To celebrate the coming of the end for the Furuba manga in the US, Tokyopop gave us a nice little treat – one of the first works of Takaya, Phantom Dream. When it was announced, Furuba fans in the west squealed in anticipation, and some of us may have peed our pants a little. Or was that just me? Needless to say, as soon as volume one hit shelves, I snagged it.

Phantom Dream centers around Tamaki Otoya, descendant of a line of summoners destined to exorcise demons called jaki. Jaki feed on negative emotions until they possess their host. His childhood friend Asahi never fails to provide him with the inner strength he needs.

First off, let me make clear that the storyline for this manga really appeals to me. Modern demon fighting? Awesome. However, when I cracked it open, I found it surprisingly hard to get into.

I really try to only review manga I like, because on the internet, you get flamed for your dislikes more than for your likes. That being so, this won’t be much of a review.

The story was great all the way through, and the romance between Tamaki and Asahi was intriguing. However, it moved at an odd pace. Again, I just couldn’t get into it. By the end of the volume, I was forcing my way through for the purpose of this review. I wanted to know what was going to happen, but not badly enough to be motivated by that.

The art had a 90s feel to it, but was in general pretty good, if plain. There is little decoration except for when Tamaki is doing his thing. When you see the great effects there, you get kind of jaded about the rest of the art. I honestly didn’t feel like Takaya-sensei was putting a whole lot of effort into the work.

I think a Phantom Dream anime would turn out alright, but the manga wasn’t for me. I don’t want to discourage you from picking it up, but I won’t be grabbing later volumes.

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Vampire Knight, Vol. 6 Review

This week, we have a guest review by KanjiGirl. Check out her awesome blog! We’ll hopefully be seeing more from her in the future. If you’re interested in doing guest reviews for ItsumoManga, let me know, and we’ll get you set up. ^.^

Author: Matsuri Hino
Release Date: March 2009
Genre: Shojo, Vampires, Romance
Publisher: Viz Media

To start off, I’d like to say that Vampire Knight is unlike any Shojo Manga I’ve ever read. In fact, the first time I saw it on my local bookstore shelves, I wasn’t really interested and didn’t even think about buying a copy. However, after reading a feature article all about it in Shojo Beat I thought twice about skipping Vampire Knight. With a renewed interest, I decided once and for all to head to the bookstore and snap up the first few volumes of the title. Fast forward a few months and now I’m hooked to the series! It’s got a lot of things I love about a shojo manga series, great characters, romance, and page-turning suspense.

There are three main characters in Vampire Knight. Yuki Cross is a strong, yet sometimes naive girl who somehow always gets herself wounded and bleeding, which unfortunatly tends to agitate the vampires around her. Kaname Kuran is a pure-blood vampire, who saved Yuki from a vampire attack 10 years before the start of the story. Zero Kiryu, my favorite character in the series, is a guy with deep hatred towards vampires… with good reason.

It’s not all lovey-dovey vampire-human romance like I used to think it was. There are many layers in this series. Each character has an equally interesting and compelling history which really pulls you into the story. With each chapter, a little bit of the mystery is chipped off. However, the story never becomes predictable.

In volume 6, the focus is shifted from Zero to Yuki. Kaname gets paired up with another pure-blood vampire which makes Yuki jealous. Yet, she understands that because of her status, she could never be with Kaname even if she gets turned into a vampire herself. When she sees the two of them together she gets into trouble and I’ll let you find out just what happens afterwards. It’s a bit juicy, if you get my drift.

Moving on, it was revealed in Volume 1 that Yuki doesn’t remember anything prior to the day she was attacked by a vampire when she was just a little kid. In volume 6, she and Zero start a search for her missing childhood. Although the truth about Yuki’s parents’ death are not fully revealed, a little light is shed on Headmaster Cross, her foster father who took her in after that fateful vampire attack 10 years ago.

On another note, the Night Class go on their school break and head to Hanabusa’s home. There’s a part about the history of Kaname and Hanabusa’s friendship, which is really refreshing and sheds new light on Hanabusa’s personality. Unlike most friendships, they didn’t hit it off right away, and We learn more about his loyalty towards Kaname.

My final verdict for this series and this volume specifically is a resounding “awesome”! If you like vampire and occult stories then you’re sure to enjoy Vampire Knight. Even if you don’t, I still suggest you get the first volume and see… who knows, you might get hooked just like me!

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Yen+, March Issue Review

March’s Yen+ features the return of Maximum Ride, complete with several colored pages and a wonderful interview with Narae Lee, the illustrator.

The interview was definitely interesting. It provided a good insight into how manga- and manhwa-ka are born. Though Narae Lee’s story is far from typical, it’s inspiring none-the-less. She’s a very talented artist, especially for being so young, and I don’t think I’m alone in expecting some really great work from her in the future. I think it was interesting for many to realize that though the story is American, the artist lives in Korea. Speaking of the story, it would have been nice to see an interview with James Patterson, to see how the story was formed, and not just art and character design.

Many of us Yen+ readers were frustrated that rather than picking up with Maximum Ride where January’s issue left off, a chapter was actually skipped. To be honest, it doesn’t sound like Narae Lee took a month off to me, but rather that Yen Press wanted to force us to pick up volume one of Maximum Ride to read that last chapter. I don’t know this for a fact, but several other readers share this opinion with me. However, Yen Press did give a little present with a few full color pages to open up the chapter. I wonder if these will also appear in the second volume of the manga? We won’t find out for a while.

Another full color surprise was the fanart section. There’s a really great picture of Jack Frost that I think fans of the comic will really enjoy. I’m a little disappointed in some of the selections the Yen Press crew makes, as I’m certain they must get some really great pieces that get left out. In the future, I really hope that keep up with the colored fanart section.

This issue also featured a new little blurb called “Otaku Pimp,” which is apparently written by a friend of the editor’s. Hmm… At any rate, I was far from impressed. It was really a waste of paper in my eyes. It was merely the ramblings of some guy who likes Japan, wants to be a pimp, and think’s he’s pretty awesome. You could find that guy in just about any comic book store. Maybe the section will get better, but if it continues to be exactly what it was in this issue, I’ll simply be skipping over it in the future.

The preview of Goong is getting a little old. It appears for its third installment in this issue, which seems a bit ridiculous. I love that Yen Press decided to implement previews, and I plan on buying Legend due to its preview a few issues back, but it’d be nice to see more variety. Perhaps much of my ill-will towards it lies in my not liking Goong (the art irks me and the story doesn’t do much to make up for it to me), but even if this were something I liked, I would be getting tired of it. I wish that if YP were going to practically serialize volume one of something, they could at least stick in another preview in the third issue. On top of this, instead of previewing something new next month, it looks like we won’t be getting a preview at all.

Chapter Spotlights
Pig Bride
was interesting. We got to see a side of Doe-Doe that we haven’t seen much of. I’ve been looking forward to see more of that harshness, more of who she really is.

Time and Again is seeming pretty interesting so far. Like a lot of the stuff that’s come over from Korea so far,  it has a nice historic, traditional basis. The characters seem to have quite the backgrounds from this month’s chapter. Can’t wait to see more of that!

In Nabari no Ou, we’re being shown more about how the secret world works, which I definitely love. I like the way in which they’re presenting that, rather than having explained it all from the beginning. It gives us a chance to really feel like we’re in Miharu’s shoes. I imagine we have quite a lot to expect from this one, since it’s been in serialization for about four and a half years in Japan now.

I think my favorite chapter from this month was Soul Eater. A lot of plot development is going on (something I didn’t really expect to see here), but the flavor of comedy is still totally there. I’m anxious to see where this goes.

All in all this was a pretty good issue with some great chapters. However, there was room for improvement (like not skipping a chapter of something!).

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Canon, Series Review

I’m so sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted. I’ve been sick and had a lot going on with school. I have another post about half-written, so I should definitely have something for Tuesday. But if anyone would like to volunteer to write something, that’d be great!

Author: Chika Shiomi
Release Dates: ’07-’08
Genre: Suspense, Vampires
Publisher: CMX Manga

Seven months ago, a classroom of high school kids was found dead. 39 lifeless bodies were found with no visible wounds, and autopsy reports found no cause of death. One student escaped this mysterious fate, Canon Himuro. The man that had killed her classmates had decided to leave her alive, as a vampire. Now Canon lives a life of returning newly created ‘servant’ vampires back into humans, always searching for the man with the silver hair and blue eyes that had slaughtered her friends. She then meets Sakaki, a half-human, half-vampire that appears to share her hatred of the man with silver hair and blue eyes. But the world of vampires is a world of deception. Everyone is telling her that Sakaki is at fault for her fate, but she remembers seeing the silver haired, blue eyed vampire kill her classmates. Who should Canon trust?

A while back, I picked up the first volume of a manga about vampires. I never read it, but after seeing it on my shelf, a friend bought me the rest of the series – a whopping three more volumes – for Christmas. When I began writing a story about vampires a couple months ago, I thought it might be a good idea to give that vampire manga a shot, if only for research. What I didn’t expect was to be drawn into the amazing world of Canon.

Canon is no newbie. Though the series only came out in the US during 2007 and 2008, it was first serialized in Japan from 1994 to 1996. At first, the 90s style of speech and clothes stuck out to me, the way it does when I watch something like Saved by the Bell. By the end of the first volume, though, I was completely sucked in. The older look of the art reminded me of the anime I watched as a kid, and it’s a style you don’t often see anymore. It’s comparable to the Sailor Moon manga, especially in the cover art.

The story isn’t particularly unique. A girl is saved from her terminal illness by a vampire with a weakness for humans, and then another vampire turns her into a vampire to fight for him. Despite how cliche it may sound, the twists and deceptions are what really make Canon a fantastic story. I’m usually pretty good at pacing myself with manga, but it was very, very hard here. I just had to know what was going to happen next. Shiomi-san spaced the story out just about perfectly. It’s on the shorter side at only four volumes, but after finishing the series, I don’t think I’d have wanted it to drag much longer. Honestly, I would have liked if it had moved a little more slowly, because there were times when I couldn’t keep up with all that had happened.

In the end: If you like vampires, check out this manga. Don’t expect it to be filled with romance like Twilight, and it doesn’t have nearly as much plot as does Vampire Knight. This is a short, casual read. If you use a manga rental service, it’s definitely a rental, though I think it is well worth the money to buy. If you’re not into the vampire trend, this won’t hold much for you, as very, very little takes place that doesn’t involve vampires.

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