Fairy Cube, Volume 1 – Manga Review

Fairy Cube, Volume 1

Review by: Kiki Van De Kamp

Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat Manga)
Author: Kaori Yuki
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shojo)
MSRP: $8.99 US
Rating: T+
Release Date: Available Now

Animanga Nation EC Award

Seeing is believing and we like what we see.

Rare is the manga that not only keeps your attention to the very last panel but one that seems to rise above it’s intended target audience so members of all genders and nearly all ages can appreciate. Like this office’s current manga crush, Honey and Clover, the first volume of talented manga-ka Kaori Yuki’s Fairy Cube is nothing short of a surprising treat anyone who loves manga will love.

Yuki is no stranger to Shojo Beat Manga’s great lineup of shojo manga seeing as she is responsible for creating wonderful pieces of work such as Godchild and Angel Sanctuary just to name a few. So it came to no surprise that I would enjoy Fairy Cube but what is surprising is that I found myself loving it more than her past work that had made me a Kaori Yuki fan in the first place. Meant to be a short series, it’s close to 200 paged first volume has everything you would want in a manga … adventure, battles, romance and mystery. Believe me when I say that Fairy Cube pulls it off deliciously.

The volume introduces Ian Hasumi, a young man who has been able to see spirits and fairies for a long time. Nobody believes him, of course, and thus is stuck with the nickname “Ian the Liar.” Despite this, though, the gentle boy that he is doesn’t let it get to him. Just about the only one that does believe him is a girl named Rin who had actually seen the fairies when she and Ian were younger. In a way, their innocent peek into “another world” is reminiscent of the Cottingley Fairies photographs that were the cause of much debate in 1917 when two young English girls claimed they too pictures of real fairies.

Having been avoiding Rin since they parted so long ago as children, Ian suddenly finds himself feeling that she is special to him. His attention, however, falls to a string of deaths the media and police seem to call the Fairy Murders due to the fact that the bloody mess left behind looks like fairy wings around the body. It’s a mystery and somehow Ian believes is connected with a mysterious man in an eye patch who runs an antique store. On top of the murders, Ian has a spirit called Tokage (that somewhat resembles him) that is becoming more and more of a threat to him.

It isn’t until a traumatic event that Ian finds that he is no longer among the living and that his “other self” has assumed control of his physical body to become Ian and even steal his girl Rin. Assuming the man with the eye patch has something to do with his ghostly condition, he confronts this man only to find that he is guarded by a powerful and pretty fairy called Ainsel. Ian swears revenge on the spirit that had taken over his body and makes it his mission to reclaim all that he has lost.

Of course, Ainsel doesn’t think the boy has it in him so she decides to help him and convince the mystery man that had something to do with Tokage taking over Ian’s body. In a world of magic and the supernatural, Ian is able to get a new body and begin his quest to defeat Tokage and get his life back together. It’s not an easy task seeing as Ian’s new body belongs to a dead child and Tokage is using his time in the real world collecting an army of followers. Befriending Rin, Ian feels renewed strength and hopes to reveal that the spirit walking around in his old body is not who she thinks.

Fairy Cube is ripe with mystery and Yuki’s brand of gothic flavor that makes the quick pace of the book extremely exciting. The author not only takes her time peeling off the layers of the mystery behind to so-called Fairy Murders or what exactly is Tokage to Ian but she also weaves a story that’s intricate and fascinating. There are even battles, such as the one that takes place after Ian’s spirit (along with Ainsel) are transported to another realm. It’s also a tale of revenge in an almost classical sense (think “The Count of Monte Cristo”). In short, it’s a fantastical tale ripe with all the things we could ask for in a manga. Even the art is gorgeous.

In the end, Fairy Cube’s first volume is just the right ticket for anyone looking for a thoroughly entrancing and fascinating tale that is told wonderfully. You don’t have to be a fan of shojo to like this story because it seems to overstep genre to tell a quick-paced adventure that should satisfy all tastes. I think what I’m trying to say is that if you love manga as much as we do then you should really consider buying this volume right away.

 

REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A+
Original and genuinely enjoyable, Fairy Cube’s fantasy tale is simply too good to pass up even if you don’t like shojo. Yuki’s storytelling is as good as ever, which is no surprise seeing as how good her other work is … so put away your beloved, worn-out copies of Angel Sanctuary and pick this one up.

ART: A+
Beautifully detailed and lovingly drawn, Yuki’s characters and backgrounds look great. I’m glad she included a gallery at the end of the volume. Even the cover is just so darn lovely.

OVERALL: A+
By the end of this volume you’ll be praying the release of the second volume will come quickly because this one leaves you wanting more. That might sound like an exaggeration but seeing as the story and art are amazing you should see for yourself why we picked this one for an Editor’s Choice Award.

 

Honey and Clover, Volume 2 – Manga Review

Honey and Clover, Vol. 2

Review by: Sophie Stevens

Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat)
Author: Chica Umino
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shojo)
MSRP: $8.99 US
Rating: T+
Release Date: Available Now

 

A second helping of something sweet.

It didn’t take much convincing to nominate the first volume of Honey and Clover for our Editor’s Award seeing as everyone in the office practically fell in love with Chica Umino’s brilliant manga. When the boys in the office are excited about the upcoming release of a shojo manga then something must be up and, well, it’s hard not to blame them. I’ve even taken the precaution of waiting for the mail myself so fellow reviewer Clive Owen wouldn’t scoop it up first. Sorry, Clive, you wait your turn like the others.

Part of what made the first volume such a delightful read was the fact that it was genuinely funny, brilliantly written and contained characters you almost instantly fall in love with. By the end of the manga, you’re already a fan of these young art school students that find themselves trying to get by and as well as try to make heads of tails of love. Mayama loves an older woman while Yamada loves Mayama … and then there’s Hanamoto who might have a spot in his heart for said older woman. Then there’s Takemoto and Morita who are falling for the pixie-like Hagu. Whew, quite a few love triangles here, aren’t they?

Yet unlike most shojo manga, Honey and Clover isn’t just about love, romance and dating but rather about living and experiencing the power of friendship, family and life in general. In the beginning of the second volume, Takemoto returns to his hometown after having been away for so long. His mother is a nurse who re-married after his father’s death and he can’t quite come to liking his stepfather. A decent man with his heart in the right place, Takemoto’s stepfather is a bit on the loud side and – to him – also annoying. Yet his stepfather lets the young man know that he was never out to replace anyone and he is never one to get in the way of a mother-son relationship. In the end, Takemoto accepts his stepfather for who he is and appreciates him a little more.

Once back in Tokyo, Takemoto discovers that one of the lottery tickets the loveable oddball Morita handed out during Christmas has won enough money that Professor Hanamoto decided to take their little group of five out on a field trip of sorts. Their first stop is an inn with a hot springs bath, it is during dinner that Morita crashes into a wall and destroys a painting so using some soy sauce he paints a replacement that manages to astonish not only Hanamoto but also Hagu. It’s clear to Hagu, who is an artistic genius, that Morita is talented beyond words.

During the trip, it also comes to Hanamoto’s attention that Yamada is in love with Mayama. He feels sorry for the lovely young girl because he knows that the young man has fallen hard for Rika. The first volume touched a bit on Mayama’s affections for the older woman but in this volume Hanamoto reveals a bit of his past to Mayama. The young Professor was once a friend of another art student named Harada who not only took in lost animals but he also took in Rika and Hanamoto into his home. The three were inseparable friends even well into the marriage of Rika and Harada until one evening the pair got into a horrible car accident that killed Harada and badly scarred Rika. Hanamoto was there for Rika but he felt he needed to give her some space so he recommended Mayama to help her out. Thus is born a complex and sad love triangle.

While the first volume was a lovely introduction to the wit and humor of the series, this one simply ups the ante to new and delightful heights. It also, however, shoots for themes that any reader will come to identify with like the dread of turning in final projects and slowly realizing how lonely a giraffe must be seeing as Japan’s various zoos are only allowed one of its kind. While the others turn their final projects in on time, it is Morita that skips his final project to make money and once again fails to graduate. Meanwhile, Mayama not only manages to graduate but also find work in a high-paying architecture firm.

As I mentioned above, the humor that made the first such a fun read is still very much present here. Umino is great at taking tender, sad, warm or romantic moments and injecting them with her charming sense of humor. After Hanamoto decides to accept a job with an old colleague and leave Hagu on her own, the group comes to see the many odd culinary delights Hagu is use to making such as a sliced pumpkin she popped into a microwave and filled with chocolate mint ice cream. When the group forgets that they got together to celebrate Takemoto’s birthday, Morita runs into Hagu’s room and comes back with a homemade version of the party game Twister. What was meant to be a fun party game becomes a torturous Twister duel between Takemoto and Morita.

Oh, and I will catch some office flak if I do not mention Midori. When Takemoto decided to keep Hagu company when Yamada isn’t able to he encounters Hagu accompanied by a giant male poodle named Midori. Umino even translates some of Midori’s growls that becomes clear to Takemoto that if he so much as tries something with Hagu that he’s in for trouble. Midori is even the focus point of a little part in the end of the manga that readers should definitely not miss.

What makes this second volume so endearing, however, are the parts that other shojo manga would have made too over sweetened. Instead, we find a moment where friends go that extra length for each another such as the time Yamada, Morita, Mayama and Takemoto try to help Hagu find a four-leaf clover she planned on giving Hanamoto before he left on his trip. Another moment is rather heartbreaking as Mayama carries a very drunk Yamada on his back as she tells him how much she loves him.

“I love you so much, Mayama.” She tells him as silent tears stream down her cheeks.

“Thank you.” He replies.

That, my friends, is just a small part of what makes Honey and Clover the thing that true shojo manga is really made of and it proves it once again in this second volume. It’s becoming apparent that the series is more about life and the little things in-between them that become a part of who these people are and how it is shaping them as they go about their lives. It’s also one of the reasons we can’t put down this manga and why Clive can’t help but try to take it from out of my desk.

To Clive I can only quote Midori-chan: “Don’t move a muscle, buster!”

REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A+
Takemoto reconciles with his stepfather and we get a wee peek into what Hagu’s life was like before Hanamoto-sensei brought her to Tokyo. There are a number of really memorable sequences that really stand out … two of which even appeared in the movie (like their stay in an inn and Takemoto, Mayama, Yamada and Morita helping Hagu look for a four-leaf clover). It’s great stuff, indeed.

ART: A+
I can spend the entire day chatting about art in manga and even more so how much I enjoy Umino’s original art that makes every panel and manga cover so eye-catching. It’s different and different is definitely most welcome.

OVERALL: A+
If the first volume didn’t convince you that Honey and Clover is one of those rare artistic works of art then you are seriously missing out on a true manga gem. This second volume delves a bit deeper into the lives of these interesting characters and fleshes them out in ways I wish more shojo manga would do. Consider this one another Must Have.

High School Debut, Vol. 3 – Manga Review

High School Debut, Vol. 3 Cover

Review by: Faith McAdams

Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat Manga)
Author: Kazune Kawahara
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $8.99 US
Rating: T
Release Date: Now Available

Maybe two opposites can make a positive.

In my last review, I mentioned that Volume 2 lacked in the humor department and fall into heartbreak (thank you very much clueless Fumi and rotten Asa) that made it kind of hard to see our favorite gal Haruna’s spirit sink in the middle chapters. Ah, but Volume 3 is another ballgame altogether and the series is back in full Volume 1 mode that made the first chapter such a warm, humorous and surprising shojo book with a lot to offer.

Haruna isn’t your typical shojo protagonist that is easily defeated even when things don’t go in her favor and from the last volume it is her determined spirit that changed her love coach Yoh from isolated hottie to a more sociable person. By the end of the second chapter, Haruna comes to the inevitable conclusion that the reason she’s not looking for other guys because it’s Yoh who she likes. Of course, there’s her pact she made with him in the park in the first volume that made Haruna promise him that she wouldn’t fall for him. What’s a girl to do when you made a promise like that?

Well, she can act all weird in front of him and try to avoid him and that’s exactly what Haruna does … to Yoh’s annoyance. Yoh suddenly suspects that something might be wrong with Haruna and tries to coax her into telling him what’s on her mind. Even when Haruna invites him to the movies after having won the tickets for winning a softball game, Yoh notices her discomfort. It isn’t until they walk past the very park where Haruna convinced him to be her coach that Haruna does the most unlikely thing … she fires Yoh! She figures if he’s no longer her coach she can dissolve the pact and make her feelings known to him officially.

Hurt from her rather brash dismissal, Yoh doesn’t even want to acknowledge Haruna’s existence. Her plan backfired but Yoh forgives her. The day they went to the movies, Haruna gave him a present she picked out with Yoh’s other friend Asaoka and that led him to believe that her firing him had a much deeper meaning. So Haruna shoves aside all her fears of losing Yoh, she tells him that she likes him and that she’ll chase him even if he shoots her down. Surprisingly enough, Yoh responds by telling her he’s actually happy that she likes him. I definitely saw this coming but it didn’t stop me from jumping out of my seat with a hearty cheer and startling everyone in our office. Good for you, Haruna!

Yet the following day, Yoh doesn’t seem to acknowledge the event. He seems the same as always and this frightens Haruna to the point that she thinks she dreamt it all. If it wasn’t for the necklace he gave him that night, she would have went on believing it was a dream. When she confronts him, Yoh confesses that while he’s had many female admirers he knows nothing about carrying on a relationship between a boyfriend and girlfriend. A love coach that knows nothing about actually being in a relationship is quite funny, actually.

Word quickly spreads around their school that Yoh and Haruna are a couple and Haruna discovers notes in her desk calling her an idiot, her gym shoes glued to her locker and her gym uniform stolen. Passing down the hall, Asa notices that people slapped notes on Haruna’s back and she tell her that it is more likely that she is being bullied by the numerous girls that have been chasing Yoh. In one of the volume’s most memorable moments, the very girls who are bullying Haruna call her up on the roof of the school and exchange words with her. When they don’t seem to come to an agreement, Haruna rolls up her sleeves and throws down. Hilariously, Haruna comes out of the fight with minor scrapes after having thrashed the other girls that run away in fright. You better believe that the bullying stopped after that. God, I love this girl.

In the second half of the volume, the two go on their first date to the beach but it doesn’t really feel like a date. Yoh felt as if he were watching over a child who excitedly moved about the beach in a sort of daze. She’s so happy that she hilariously runs into a wall, almost gets hit by a car and loses her ice cream only to have Yoh give her half of his. Haruna comes to realize that the date didn’t seem like one and promises Yoh that the next one will be special. While inexperienced being a boyfriend, Yoh is sweet enough to ask Haruna for her shojo manga to learn more as well. “You’re not alone in this,” he tells her.

The second date doesn’t come out the way Haruna planned at all and in a most pivotal moment she is about to tell him that this is not working. Then somebody whacked a softball that was heading in Yoh’s direction when she catches it. It turns out that it’s a girl’s softball team from Haruna’s old Junior High and all the young girls on the team are surprised to see her. Yoh is pleasantly surprised how much the younger girls admire Haruna. At last, Haruna is the one that impresses him rather than the other way around. He tells her that things seem rather awkward but he’s willing to keep giving it a shot if she’s willing to do it too.

Yes, we saw this coming yet Kawahara somehow didn’t fail to surprise us anyway. The beauty of High School Debut, Volume 3, is that it just made us fall in love with the characters all over again. We’ve been rooting for Haruna since Day One and now we’re rooting for Yoh as well. If Kawahara manages to pull off more like this then you can expect us to keep us an eye on the awkward development of this fine romance.

 

REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: B+
Haruna finally lets Yoh know how she feels about him and score a homerun in the game of romance. Yoh might know what guys look for in a girl but he’s clueless about what happens when they do hook up. There are fights and there are dates. Whew, this one has it all.

ART: B+
Stylistically speaking, this third volume looks just as good as the first volume. There’s nothing wrong with the art in the second volume but it tended to use panels from the first more than once. It still very good, though

OVERALL: B+
Ok, we saw the eventual hook up between Yoh and Haruna coming but Kawahara tossed us a curveball when the love coach himself is new to the boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. The humor and appeal of the first volume is back in this third one so here’s hoping the series keeps it going.

 

Naruto, Vol. 29 – Manga Review

Naruto, Vol. 29 Cover

Review by: Edward Zacharias

Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Masashi Kishimoto
Genre: Action (Graphic Novel)
MSRP: $7.95 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Available Now

Secrets and revelations and why we love this older Naruto.

And here I thought nothing could beat the surprising sight of an older Naruto and Sakura in Volume 28. Considered the second chapter in the Naruto saga, we got to see older versions of Team Kakashi and sans Sasuke the pair runs off with Kakashi on a mission to discover what happened to Gaara … the new Kazekage of the Sand Village. In Volume 29, we get a peek at the enemy known as the Akatsuki and what they have planned with the captured Gaara.

At the end of the last volume, Team Guy was also called in to support Team Kakashi and is was great to see the older versions of Rock Lee, Tenten and Neji. They are sent on their way to discover the location of the Akatsuki and they do so with the aid of Pakkun who has already caught Gaara’s scent. Meanwhile, Sakura shows off her medical ninja skills she learned from being a direct apprentice of the Lady Hokage. Her skills are able to successfully aid Kankuro who was poisoned during the battle that led to Gaara’s capture. Sakura’s skills even impress Granny Chiyo who decides to go with Team Kakashi after having heard the name of one of Gaara’s attackers.

Granny Chiyo still has old unresolved feeling about the Leaf Village and is baffled by Naruto’s need to save Gaara. It becomes apparent to her that there’s something not quite normal about our spiky haired hero and she makes inquires about him along the way. Yet during a ceremony performed by members of the Akatsuki, the clan’s leader dispatches two fearsome foes to delay both teams. Stepping out to meet Team Guy is none other then the shark-faced Kisame while Team Kakashi confronts none other than Sasuke’s older brother, Itachi Uchiha. Oh yeah, it’s one of those moments that will have you rubbing your eyes wondering if you’re seeing things correctly.

Sakura is the only member of the team that doesn’t recognize Itachi but Naruto knows him well seeing at both Itachi and Kisame infiltrated the Leaf Village to capture him. While seeing Kisame again is great, it’s the return of Itashi that will have you sitting up. After all, he is the very reason Sasuke left the Leaf Village to join Orochimaru and their first battle was interrupted. Things are different, as Itachi confesses, and Naruto’s fighting skills have improved but during the battle it is Naruto who falls under the spell of Itachi’s Genjutsu. During this nightmarish state, Naruto fears of having failed both Sakura and Kakashi-sensei comes into light. This is one of the finest moments in the volume and when the Genjutsu if broken by Sakura and Granny Chiyo, it takes Naruto some time to react and ends up beating Itachi with a one-two combo between Naruto and Kakashi.

On the other side, Team Guy goes up against Kisame who is completely annoyed with the fact that Might Guy doesn’t remember him. The battle is as fierce as the Itachi battle and when Neju, Rock and Tenten are disabled by Kisame’s clones, Might Guy unleashes his true power that ends the intense battle violently. In the end, however, we come to a major disappointment about Kisame and Itachi. Oh well, the battle was impressive and we’re sure to Itachi and Kisame again.

Yet the best part of the volume are the revelations of the Akatsuki true intentions. It seems that much like Naruto, Gaara possesses a Biju … which in Naruto’s case is the Nine-Tailed Fox that was sealed in him since he was an infant. There is a way of extracting the Biju but at the cost of the life of the host body. In short, extracting Gaara’s Biju would mean Gaara’s death. This, of course, trouble Sakura who fears for Naruto. It’s a tender scene and one that seems to indicate that Sakura is slowly seeing Naruto in a different light than when they were younger. We knew Naruto had a major crush on Sakura but could things be changing in Naruto’s favor now that Sasuke is no longer in the picture? It’s too early to tell be this is why we love the two year jump.

I’m usually not a fan of cliffhangers – in fact, I downright despise them if you have to wait two or so months for the next volume – but this one pulls off a cliffhanger ending that will seriously have you really waiting for Volume 30. Naruto, Volume 29, already contains memorable moments that stand out. If you thought 28 was a good number for Naruto then you will definitely love this one.

 

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A
The 28th volume of the series was an interesting start that kicked off a new chapter in the Naruto saga but this volume peels off some of the layers that make up the mystery that is the Akatsuki. There are two major fights in this volume and is Sakura’s feelings for Naruto more than just worry?

ART: A
Visually impressive fight sequences are broken up a bit in this one but you have to love the detail and the sequence where Might Guy unleashes his true strength. Is it me or is the art just getting better and better?

OVERALL: A
Naruto’s continuing quest to save Gaara reveals much about him and the enemy that had pursued him in the past in Volume 29. While the last volume was a re-introduction (of sorts), this one picks up the pace like past storylines and boy Naruto’s encounter with Itachi Uchiha will not fail to impress.

 

BLEACH: The Blade of Fate Review

The Blade of Fate

Editor’s Note: This game came out last year but we just had to include a review for it to go with this month’s appreciation for all things BLEACH. On a related note, SEGA has announced a sequel to The Blade of Fate called BLEACH: Dark Souls.

Platform: Nintendo DS
Published by: SEGA
Developed by: Treasure
Rating: T for Teen
MSRP: $29.95 on Release day (might be cheaper depending on where you look)

Review by: Edward Zacharias

As a fighting game enthusiast and a fan of the BLEACH series, it was exciting to find a brawler that had you controlling Ichigo and company on a handheld platform. Having been disappointed by some fighting games on the DS and surprised by others, I approached BLEACH: The Blade of Fate with caution. Would it be as disappointing as the DS version of Naruto: Path of the Ninja or would it be as decent as Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors? It turns out that The Blade of Fate is not only a great BLEACH game but it’s also one of the best fighting games on the DS.

Game Screenshot 1

The game’s main Story mode doesn’t follow the series from the very beginning but rather it concentrates on the anime and manga’s story arch involving Soul Reaper Rukia Kuchiki’s impending execution and Ichigo Kurosaki and his friends infiltrating the Soul Society. Having been sentenced to death by her fellow Soul Reapers for aiding Ichigo, Rukia finds herself in the Repentance Cell awaiting her execution. Meanwhile, Ichigo (along with classmates Chad, Orihime and Uryu) enter the Soul Society with the help of a mysterious talking black cat named Yoruichi (who is much more than just a cat, actually). The five set out rescue Rukia but it won’t be easy since their arrival has sparked a response from the members of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads. In order to save Rukia, Ichigo and his loyal companions must battles squad Lieutenants and their Captains.

If you’re a BLEACH fan (like us) then you’re in for a treat seeing as not only are there a great number of familiar characters present but so are all the memorable fights from the series as well. That means you will be battling Renji Abarai, Kenpachi and Rukia’s coldhearted brother Byakuya Kuchiki. You’ll even get to recreate Ichigo’s comical battle against Ganju (who uses his boar as a special attack). You can even take control of Chad, Uryu and perky Orihime in battle.

The good news is that each character in the game has is own unique ability and attack that is true to the character. If you need a powerhouse who packs quite a wallop, Chad is your man. Need a fighter who is fast on his feet and strikes quickly then Byakuya has you covered. Need to perform long-distance attacks the Uryu has his arrow attacks. Even Orihime contributes in battle with her somewhat effective powers and her ability to form a triangle-shaped shield. Other characters include the human form of Youichi as well as Captain Hitsugaya, Soifun and even that dastardly Aizen just to name a few of the extra characters.

Screenshot02

Control-wise, the game is easy to pick up and easy to get into thanks to the solid control scheme. The game utilizes the touch screen to make use of Spirit Cards and Special Attacks. You are given a deck that contains cards with temporary power-up abilities. One card might make you faster while another will increase the damage you cause with your Zanpaku-to. As I mentioned above, every character has his or her own unique attack and Spirit Cards add the right effect to balance out your fighter’s abilities. Ichigo’s Flash Step (ability to quickly dodge) can be increased to compete with fast-moving foes. You can also perform combo attacks, which comes in use when you go up against two opponents at once.

The game’s graphics are easily one of the most colorful and detailed DS games around. You’ll instantly recognize characters during fights and it’s great to see that the cut scenes use Tite Kubo’s great artwork. The game looks so much like the anime during the cut scenes and the Spirit Cards have secondary characters printed on them. The game’s soundtrack is very limited but that’s understandable seeing as this is the Nintendo DS we’re talking about. Still, the game used some voice clips so the English dub actors make an appearance.

Aside from Story mode there’s also Arcade mode that should be familiar to most fighting game fans. It basically allows you to pick any character and pit them against a string of opponents in any environment. So you can play take control of Aizen if you like or come up with dream matches of your own. Have you ever wanted to know what would happen if Rukia and Byakuya fought to the death? Well, now you can. There’s also Challenge mode that sets a condition that allows you to get by just be stringing together enough combo attacks. You can also play against up to three friends (for a total of four on screen if you like) wirelessly or online with game’s Versus Mode (although you will find it hard to find a challenger online).

Screenshot03

Surprisingly inventive and loads of fun, BLEACH: The Blade of Fate for the Nintendo DS is a brilliant BLEACH game and a seriously addictive fighting game. With very little in terms of flaws, it’s almost the perfect fighting game for portable gaming fans so you don’t really have to be a fan of the Shonen Jump anime or manga. If you are a fan – man oh man – you are in for a pleasant surprise.

VITAL STATS

Gameplay: 8.5
Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 8.0
Replay Value: Medium
Overall: 8.5

 

 

VIZ MEDIA AND KONAMI DIGITAL ENTERTAIMENT, INC. ANNOUNCE LICENSING DEAL

VIZ, VIZ, BABY!
VIZ Media Licenses BLUE DRAGON Trading Card Game Rights
To Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.
For North America


San Francisco, CA, June 18, 2008
– VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry’s most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, and Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. (KDE), a leading publisher of mass market video games and manufacturer of trading card games (TCG), today announced that KDE will exclusively manufacture and distribute the BLUE DRAGON Trading Card Game and Trading Card Game Accessories in North America. The agreement further extends the scope and popularity of the BLUE DRAGON franchise. VIZ Media is the master North American licensor for the television, home video and non-video game merchandising rights for BLUE DRAGON.

The BLUE DRAGON animation is based on the Xbox 360 video game Blue Dragon, developed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of “Final Fantasy”, and featuring character designs by Akira Toriyama, the creator of the best-selling DRAGON BALL series of manga (which is published in North America by VIZ Media and featured in SHONEN JUMP Magazine). The new trading card game is also based on the Xbox 360 video game.

The animated series debuted in Japan on TV Tokyo on April 7, 2007 and is produced by Studio Pierrot, which is well known for its work on NARUTO and BLEACH, also licensed by VIZ Media. The highly anticipated BLUE DRAGON animated series, rated TV Y7FV, debuted across the United States on Cartoon Network on Saturday, April 5, 2008 and now airs regularly at 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings.

The BLUE DRAGON video game and animated series is a classic adventure story of magical Shadow powers, flying air fortresses, and unbounded heroism! Brought together by fate, Seven Soldiers of Light must awaken the Shadow within themselves in time to overcome a despotic power and bring peace to their land. Their ensuing journey through a rich fantasy world is also an internal journey to awaken the great power within each of them. Journey with them into the world of BLUE DRAGON!

“Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. welcomes the opportunity to further build the popularity of the BLUE DRAGON franchise with this licensing agreement with VIZ Media and is thrilled to have the opportunity to work on its first ever role playing card game with a dynamically advancing game mechanic,” said Yumi Hoashi, Vice President, KDE’s Card Division. “We look forward to reaching out to an array of players of all ages and sharing the excitement of the group-oriented role playing card game, Blue Dragon. It is our expectation that the character designs of esteemed creator Akira Toriyama, combined with the unique game play of Blue Dragon, will create countless new fans within the card game community.”

Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. is a leading developer, publisher and manufacturer of card and electronic entertainment properties. The most notable of KDE’s card genre is the wildly popular Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game, which is welcoming its 10th anniversary this year. In addition to Yu-Gi-Oh!, KDE’s other titles, although released only in Japan, include such hits as The Prince of Tennis, D. Gray-man, MÄR, Eyeshield 21 and more.

“The creative forces behind BLUE DRAGON include some of the most notable talents from the worlds of gaming, animation and manga/graphic novels,” says David Rewalt, Senior Director – Licensing and Retail Development, VIZ Media. “The continued development of BLUE DRAGON from a video game to an animated series and now a Trading Card Game demonstrates the successful convergence of all these entertainment and media genres. With established legacies in these arenas, VIZ Media and KDE will continue to develop the BLUE DRAGON brand through a variety of innovative and fun products.”

About Konami
Konami is a leading developer, publisher and manufacturer of electronic entertainment properties. Konami titles include the popular franchises Metal Gear Solid®, Silent Hill®, Dance Dance Revolution® and Castlevania®, among other top sellers. The latest information about Konami can be found on the Web at www.konami.com. Konami Corporation is a publicly traded company based in Tokyo, Japan with subsidiary offices, Konami Digital Entertainment, Co., Ltd. in Tokyo, Japan, Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. in the United States and Konami Digital Entertainment GmbH in Frankfurt, Germany. Konami Corporation is traded in the United States on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol KNM. Details of the products published by Konami can be found at www.konami.com.

About VIZ Media, LLC
Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), is one of the most comprehensive and innovative companies in the field of manga (graphic novel) publishing, animation and entertainment licensing of Japanese content. Owned by three of Japan’s largest creators and licensors of manga and animation, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan Production Co., Ltd. (ShoPro Japan), VIZ Media is a leader in the publishing and distribution of Japanese manga for English speaking audiences in North America and a global licensor of Japanese manga and animation. The company offers an integrated product line including magazines such as SHONEN JUMP and SHOJO BEAT, graphic novels, videos, DVDs and audio soundtracks, and develops and markets animated entertainment from initial production, television placement and distribution, to merchandise licensing and promotions for audiences and consumers of all ages.

VIZ MEDIA BRINGS UNIQUE AND EXCITING PROPERTIES FOR ALL AGES AND INTERESTS TO 2008 LICENSING INTERNATIONAL EXPO

VIZ Media baby!

San Francisco, CA, June 5, 2008 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry’s most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, brings some of the hottest anime properties to the Licensing International Expo, taking place June 10 through June 12 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City. VIZ Media will be located in Booth # 4505.

The Licensing International Expo is the largest and most important annual event for the more than $180 billion licensing industry. It features more than 500 leading licensors and agents, representing more than 6,000 properties and brands, with upwards of 25,000 attendees expected including key decision-making retailers, manufacturers, and marketing professionals across all consumer and product categories.

VIZ Media is a key licensor delivering manga and animated content to a fast growing international audience. The company offers a diverse selection of unique animated properties designed for diverse interests and viewers of all ages including children, teens and young adults and adults.

The properties VIZ Media will be highlighting at 2008 Licensing International Expo:

NARUTO

NARUTO has become the hottest animated series across North America and is one of VIZ Media’s most successful manga and animated properties in terms of sales. Created by Masashi Kishimoto, the series depicts the adventures of a young boy named Uzumaki Naruto who trains to become a ninja. But the boy is cursed with the spirit of a nine-tailed fox demon and is forced to live a bullied life discriminated against by his fellow villagers. But Naruto is resilient and undaunted in his quest to become a master ninja and his determination often inspires those around him. Through amazing adventures, the young ninja learns the importance of friendship, teamwork, loyalty, hard work, creativity, ingenuity, and right vs. wrong. Dedicated website at www. naruto.viz.com. Rated T for Teens.

BLEACH
BLEACH is an animated, epic action series aimed at teens. Ichigo Kurosaki is an ordinary 15-year-old boy who happens to be able to see ghosts. His fate takes an extraordinary turn when he meets Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper who shows up at Ichigo’s house on the trail of a Hollow, a malevolent lost soul. Drawn to Ichigo’s high level of spiritual energy, the Hollow attacks Ichigo and his family, and Rukia steps in to help but is injured and unable to fight. As a last resort, Rukia decides to transfer part of her Soul Reaper powers to Ichigo. Ichigo, now a full-fledged Soul Reaper, and Rukia, minus her powers, join together to face the challenges that lie ahead. Dedicated website at www.bleach.viz.com. Rated T for Teens.

DEATH NOTE
DEATH NOTE is currently one of the hottest animated titles in Japan. The series depicts the adventures of Light Yagami, an ace student with great prospects but who is bored out of his mind. All of that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals mysteriously begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to investigate, and he is soon hot on the trail of Light, who must now reevaluate his one noble goal. Dedicated website at www.deathnote.viz.com. Rated T+ for Older Teens.

BLUE DRAGON
Based on the popular Microsoft Xbox 360 video game developed by Hironobu Sakaguchi (the creator of Final Fantasy) and featuring character designs by Akira Toriyama (the creator of Dragon Ball), the BLUE DRAGON animation is a classic adventure story of magical Shadow powers, flying air fortresses, and unbounded heroism! Brought together by fate, Seven Soldiers of Light must awaken the Shadow within themselves in time to overcome a despotic power and bring peace to their land. Their ensuing journey through a rich fantasy world is also an internal journey to awaken the great power within each of them. Journey with them into the world of BLUE DRAGON! Dedicated website at www.bluedragon.viz.com. Rated A for all ages.

KILARI
Kilari is a happy-go-lucky 14 year-old schoolgirl. Unlike her friends, she is more interested in food and shows no interest in good-looking boys. One day, however, she accidentally bumps into Seiji, a pop idol, and develops a crush on him at first sight. Realizing how difficult it would be for her to become friends with him, Kilari makes an extraordinary decision, to become a star herself to be close to him! Thus begins her pop star adventure! Rated A for all ages.

Other featured properties include:
BUSO RENKIN, DETECTIVE CONAN, DEKO BOKO FRIENDS, HONEY AND CLOVER, HUNTER X HUNTER, INUYASHA, NANA and more.

About VIZ Media Europe, S.A.R.L. (VME)
Headquartered in Paris, France, VIZ Media Europe (VME) is a subsidiary of San Francisco-based VIZ Media, LLC. VME specializes in managing the development, marketing and distribution throughout Europe of Japanese animated entertainment and graphic novels (manga). It handles some of the most popular Japanese manga and animation properties from initial production, through television placement and distribution to merchandise licensing and promotions for consumers of all ages. Current VME animated properties include BLEACH, DEATH NOTE, BLUE DRAGON, HONEY & CLOVER, M.A.R, ZOIDS GENESIS and KILARI. Contact VIZ Media Europe at 9, avenue de l’Opéra, 75001 Paris, France Phone +33 1 72 71 53 53; Fax: +33 1 42 96 97 36; and web site at www.vizeurope.com.

About VIZ Media, LLC
Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), is one of the most comprehensive and innovative companies in the field of manga (graphic novel) publishing, animation and entertainment licensing of Japanese content. Owned by three of Japan’s largest creators and licensors of manga and animation, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan Production Co., Ltd. (ShoPro Japan), VIZ Media is a leader in the publishing and distribution of Japanese manga for English speaking audiences in North America and a global licensor of Japanese manga and animation. The company offers an integrated product line including magazines such as SHONEN JUMP and SHOJO BEAT, graphic novels, videos, DVDs and audio soundtracks, and develops and markets animated entertainment from initial production, television placement and distribution, to merchandise licensing and promotions for audiences and consumers of all ages.