Emma, Vol. 1 – Manga Review

Emma vol1

Review by: Sophie Stevens

Publisher: CMX Manga
Author: Kaoru Mori
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shoujo)
MSRP: $9.99 US
Rating: T+ (Teen Plus)
Release Date: Now Available

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A very Victorian romance.

There are few mangaka who are able to pull off telling a story set outside of Japan and do so brilliantly enough that you find yourself absorbed but the story and characters rather than pointing out the shortcomings in the setting. For example, very few mangaka can pull of the Wild West era of America. Still, when one does manage to pull it off, as in the case of Volume 1 of Emma, the story is enriched by it and makes it all the more special.

Kaoru Mori has often expressed her love for all things English and more so in the Victorian era just as new innovations become common place. The story finds a handsome young man from the wealthy Jones family about to knock on the door of his old live-in governess who practically raised him only to have his hat knocked off and his head bumped by the door that is opened by the young live-in maid.

Her name is Emma and in the very instant their eyes lock, William Jones is completely smitten. She’s beautiful and graceful in the manner that well trained maids are graceful and even with her glasses the beauty shines through. His old governess, Kelly Stownar, notices his attraction to her immediately and even though she was harsh on the boy when he was growing up she so really wants to see the young man happy. So begins the unusual romance between a young aristocrat and a maid.

If this story sounds like it’s been told before in other manga, I would agree with you but what makes Emma such a rare breed of shoujo manga is in the uniquely slow manner in which the romance blossoms. You see, William isn’t the type of man that is prone to simply professing his love to a girl nor does he flirt. He simply is just there hoping for a chance that he could one day tell her how he feels. Emma is also quite different seeing as she doesn’t really recognize her beauty despite the fact that she is often being courted by many admirers.

William finds himself wanting to see Emma again and he does visit but his awkward nature doesn’t really push him into making a confession. Instead, he offers to buy her a new pair of glasses when he notices that Emma didn’t see him waving from far away. Having suffered from poor eye sight, Emma is rather attached to her current glasses thanks to her employer so she asks William for something else instead.

Things get interesting when William’s friend from India shows up with a crew as well as four of his best elephants. He is Hakim, a young man much like William who comes from a very wealthy family. His friend decides to stay for a week but when an elephant ride turns sour for William it is Emma who takes care of him. In an instant, however, Hakim sees Emma and falls in love with her. So taken by the beautiful maid that he dresses like a true English gentleman and pays her a visit and make a surprising confession to her. William, we can see, is clearly uncomfortable with that.

The story also touches on the life of Kelly Stownar who didn’t have the chance to have children with her husband who died before his time. Instead, she has grown to think of both William and Emma as her own. She had taught both of them and, despite her strict nature, both William and Emma appreciate all she has done for them. Even William’s father decides to pay their old governess a visit after Kelly takes a nasty tumble.

As I mentioned in the beginning, Mori does a marvelous job of invoking the period, the customs and the setting perfectly. Whether its looking through the books at Mudies or William clashing with his father over an arranged marriage, the feel of the Victorian era is everywhere in this manga. Mori even adds her delightful sense of humor.

Volume 1 of Emma is an impressive and pleasant manga that doesn’t fall under the same shoujo trappings of other series. What we have here is an enchanting and enjoyable read and a series that started off perfectly thanks to the wonderful characters and setting. If the other volumes are like this then consider is hooked on Emma.

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A+
Visiting his old live-in governess, a young man from a prominent family named William Jones meets and becomes totally smitten by her maid named Emma. While William isn’t the sort of chap who goes about announcing his intentions, Emma finds the young gentleman to be interesting … even more so when William’s wealthy friend from India comes to town.

ART: A+
Kaoru Mori’s art is exquisite when it comes to the gorgeous backgrounds and the attention to detail she pays to every aspect of the characters’ appearance and other details. What a delightfully well-drawn manga.

OVERALL: A+
One of the most enchanting romance stories to come from the mind of Kaoru Mori, Volume 1 of Emma is a charming manga that is wonderfully original and totally fun to read. Very few shoujo manga manages to capture the feel and era of a setting outside of Japan but Emma manages to do so perfectly enough that you will find yourself consumed by the story. Consider this a real Must Have.

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FUNimation Entertainment has announced the English track directors and cast of the megahit anime series “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”

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“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” is produced by the acclaimed Japanese studio Bones and set in a fictional world where alchemy – the transmutation of raw materials into objects – is science and the way of life. The series follows the Elric brothers Edward and Alphonse on their perilous journey in search of the legendary Philosopher’s Stone. They set forth in the hope that the magical artifact can restore their bodies after a failed attempt to revive their dead mother cost Edward’s left leg and right arm; as well as Alphonse’s entire body, leaving his soul affixed to a suit of armor.

Line Producer: Mike McFarland

ADR Directors: Mike McFarland and Caitlin Glass

Reprising their roles from the first series:

Edward Elric – Vic Mignogna

Winry Rockbell – Caitlin Glass

Roy Mustang – Travis Willingham

Lust – Laura Bailey

Envy – Wendy Powell

Gluttony – Chris Cason

Maes Hughes – Sonny Strait

Fuhrer King Bradley – Ed Blaylock

Riza Hawkeye – Colleen Clinkenbeard

Jean Havoc – Mike McFarland

New Cast Members:

Alphonse Elric – Maxey Whitehead (Antonio from Romeo x Juliet, Czeslaw

Meyer from Baccano)

Scar – J Michael Tatum (Eneru from One Piece, Isaac from Baccano)

Isaac McDougal – Bryan Massey (Ladd from Baccano, Nino from Gunslinger

Girl: Il Teatrino)

Aaron Dismuke will be featured in another role later in the series.

FUNimation Entertainment will release “Fullmetal Alchemist:Brotherhood” on DVD beginning in Spring 2010.

FUNimation currently streams high-quality, free, original Japanese dialogue and English subtitled episodes of the series within days of Japanese television debut via http://funimation.com/video as well as key video-sharing partners.

D. Gray-Man, Season One Part Two – DVD Review

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Review by: Faith McAdams

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $59.98 US
Running Time: 300 minutes
Genre: Supernatural/Action
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now

The power of Innocence compels you!

It’s not easy being an Exorcist and even more so when you’re the youngest member of the Black Order that has spent the majority of your childhood learning the arts from a General that is a tough mentor and a man that’s not quite playing with a full deck of cards. Allen Walker has had a shaky beginning but in Part Two of Season One of D. Gray-Man his career as an Exorcist is just starting to kick into overdrive.

Beginning with Episode 14, Allen Walker is recovering nicely from his injuries that he received during his last assignment with fellow Exorcist Lenalee. As a result, Allen gets another mission to uncover the mystery behind the strange weather patterns that has been affecting a small village. It would be snowing at one moment then winding in another and then sunny within seconds. The cause, according to Chief Komui might be that Innocence is near while many of the locals believe it has something to do with the fabled Leaf of Revival that is so powerful it can bring the dead back to life.

A man and his daughter believe the rumors that the Leaf of Revival is nearby that they brave the horrible snow storm and are almost killed if it wasn’t for Allen, Kanda and Lavi (who, along with Bookman, decided to tag along). It becomes clear to Allen that the father-daughter team might get themselves killed so attempts to find the Innocence before they do but what he wasn’t counting on was the father following close behind them and a group of Akuma that happens to be looking for the Innocence as well. There’s a clash between the group that makes this a tough assignment for the Exorcists.

In another mission, Kanda has gone missing after having accepted an assignment in Rome. Allen and a still-ticked-off Lenalee is sent to look into the matter only to find out that Kanda’s disappearance might have something to do with an old legend of a beautiful Princess and a swordsman. When the pair get to Rome they find out the daughter of a very affluent man has been kidnapped and has offered a reward to a massive group of bounty hunters that have come to the city.

The truth behind the kidnapping is definitely not what it seems as Allen and Lenalee find Kanda recovering from his battle with what he claims to be the swordsman of the old legend. What they find instead is a deeply poignant love story that makes the two-episode story arc one of the best the series has produced. It’s also one of the more well-written episodes with a surprising twist in the end.

The series even adds another wacky episode involving Chief Komui who is outraged over the idea that his beautiful young sister, Lenalee, is dating an older and very married man working for the Black Order‘s Science Division. His suspicions become confirmed when he follows the two out in town and little does he know that an Akuma is also after his sister.

In another lengthy story arc that takes up six episodes, Allen, Tavi and Bookman find themselves heading out into a village where a Count is said to feed off villagers. They all call the man a vampire and while the young Exorcists do not believe in vampires they witness Count Arystar Krory draining a villager of his blood right before their eyes. The two frightened Exorcists proceed with caution only to find the castle contains man-eating plants, a mysterious and beautiful woman and the rumor that Allen’s mentor passed into town to meet the vampire. The Exorcists find themselves in a battle as they uncover the secret behind Krory and the woman named Eliade.

In the final episode of the vampire story arc, Allen and Tavi walk out with a new member and it comes in the form of the vampire himself. Krory has been trained in the arts to the point that he qualifies to become an Exorcist, a fact that the man comes to terms with in the aftermath of the battle. While we got to see a scary side to Krory, his more natural state is a lot more kooky and hilarious. The guy is a cry baby who, because he has been living in the castle, is easily conned by the people he meets. He gets a welcome much like Allen does when they show up in the Black Order headquarters but finds himself glad he chose to join them in the end.

In the final episodes, Allen meets another General who kindly offers the boy good advice and offers perspective on the reason why Allen Walker became an Exorcist. Both men have demons they are trying to overcome but when the Millennium Earl sends out his Clan of Noah followers to attack the General while he sends a message to all Exorcists that the end is coming soon for them.

This second half of Season One of D. Gray-Man does a slight step ahead of the first half of this season and is even more exhilarating as well. As Allen Walker’s becomes more comfortable as an Exorcist and his past begins to flesh him out to become a good lead character, the series becomes even more fun to watch. With the Millennium Earl ready to unleash his plan, things can only get interesting with Season Two.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: B+
Allen Walker finds himself taking on more responsibilities and missions in this second half of the first season whether he’s helping a father and daughter searching for a legend, looking into a castle said to be the home of a vampire or rid the city of Rome of a ghost swordsman. The Millennium Earl and his followers also makes their move against the Exorcists.

VIDEO QUALITY: B+
The animation is outstanding and is somewhat true to the manga and that’s a very good thing. I still love how all the Akuma looks in this series and on DVD it looks gorgeous enough.

AUDIO QUALITY: B
Like Clive said, the English dub voices aren’t bad but they fall out of synch with the setting so the Japanese voices is the way to go. This show certainly has some great opening and closing songs. “Pride of Tomorrow” by JUNE is still one of my favorite closing theme songs and the new opening theme, “Brightdown” sung by Nami Tamaki is absolutely fabulous.

EXTRAS: C
There’s an audio commentary track for Episode 18 and its worth a listen to seeing as it points out the special guest voice of Michael Sinterklass (who does the voice of Dean Venture in The Venture Brothers). Then there are the clean opening and closing themes and a few trailers to look forward to in the second disc.

OVERALL: B+
Season One Part Two of D. Gray-Man is a slightly more exciting and compelling half of the season that makes this one just as fun as the manga itself. There’s a deeper look into Allen Walker as his character is fleshed out and there’s more than enough action and hilarity to make this first season well worth the price of admission.

Black Lagoon, Vol. 6 – Manga Review

 BlackLagoon6

Review by: Clive Owen

Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Rei Hiroe
Genre: Graphic Novel (VIZ Signature)
MSRP: $12.99 US
Rating: M (Mature)
Release Date: Available Now

Greenback Jane and the gunslinger maids … it’s a busy time for the Lagoon Traders.

Every now and then, a clueless soul enters Roanapur thinking that there are laws to protect them and that common sense rules supreme only to be rudely awakened by the fact that in Roanapur these things don’t even exist. It’s a place where the dead walk and where bullets speak louder than words and where the local church would rather see you dead than lend a helping hand. In Volume 6 of Black Lagoon, two major events prove that Roanapur is a definitely one of the more exciting and dangerous places to visit.

Somewhere in the city of Roanapur, a talented and dedicated counterfeiter named Janet Bai (better known as Jane) who has been working for the Nuevo Laredo cartel creating counterfeit American green so precise that the bills look like they were officially minted back in the United States. The problem is that Jane is a bit of a perfectionist and quickly angers her employers to the point that the man in charge (named Mister Elvis) shoots her data manager. Jane goes on the run and the first place she looks for protection is a church. Oh but this is no ordinary church … it’s the rip-off church where the “nun” named Eda is sharing a hard drink with Revy.

Within seconds, her pursuers arrive and – having come from Florida – begins shooting up the church which brings the wrath of the Sisters down on the poor fools. Mister Elvis definitely learns the hard way that in Roanapur there are some people and places you do not cross. They’re lucky they escape with their lives. Jane asks the church for help while setting an outrageous compensation fee hardly worth the effort, but Eda has a trick up her sleeve that actually works and so Jane ends up accepting Eda and the Lagoon Traders’ aid.

On the other end, though, the cartel asks their “trouble shooter” named “Groovy Guy” Russell to round up some assassins to take on Eda and the Lagoon Traders to get Jane back. The cowboy picks an assortment of professionals such as a Goth girl named Sawyer the Cleaner, a fancy shooter named Lotton the Wizard, Claude “Torch” Weaver and Shenhua (the freelance assassin Revy and Rock met in Volume 3). These assassins come knocking on the offices of the Lagoon Traders and a fierce firefight breaks out with Eda, Revy, Rock and Jane struggling to stay alive. With all these professionals at work, things certainly get crazy.

Even when the four make it to Benny’s boat, the survivors manage to climb on to the Black Lagoon for a final showdown as Revy takes on “Torch” and his flamethrower and Eda takes on “Groovy Guy.” Speaking of Eda, the cowboy makes an interesting connection and finally reveals something about the nun that is actually quite surprising and will, hopefully, come up at some point later on in the series. Overall, these few chapters are one of the more exciting moments.

In the next story, however, we find a return to the killer maid Roberta as she witnesses the demise of her employer and the man who had given her a second chance in life. With Venezuela in bad shape thanks to a new government change, war is waged on Colombian drug cartels and the victim is a man who had taken Roberta in when she had no place to go and was hunted by the authorities. So, in an effort to repay the debt she owes the Lovelace family, Roberta sets off to Roanapur.

When rumors of the crazy maid are whispered throughout Roanapur, everyone is on alert … as is Revy who is still itching for another fight with Roberta. Rock is quick to point out that her first visit to the dangerous city had a meaning behind it but what was the purpose of this visit? Before questions can be answered and sense made out of the maid’s reappearance, a cute young maid shows up. We thought Roberta was one mean killing machine but Fabiola Iglesias is just as fierce. It’s great to see Roberta again and another killer maid just makes this new story line even more enticing to the point that we cannot wait for Volume 7.

Once again, Rei Hiroe tops himself with Black Lagoon, Volume 6, that simply raises the bar in terms of the action and storytelling that will have you on the edge of your seat. The chapters ooze coolness from each page and never losing sight of the plot and the characters that make this action manga so unique. This is definitely a volume you need to pick up, Black Lagoon fans.

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A
A master counterfeiter named Jane manages to piss off the men who hired her and makes a run for it only to find herself asking the rip-off church for help only to involve the Lagoon Traders in a fight against vicious assassins. In the next story, the killing machine that is the maid called Roberta is out for bloody revenge and back in Roanapur.

ART: A+
There’s plenty of action in this volume and it all looks spectacular enough to splash across the panels in true Rei Hiroe fashion. He definitely makes action scenes look amazing.

OVERALL: A
Pushing the action envelope to its fullest, Volume 6 of Black Lagoon is back to its bullet-fueled mayhem and you’ll love every panel. There are some exciting moments in this one and there are some returning characters that will make this one volume you won’t forget too soon. We already can’t wait for the next one.

Ikki Tousen, The Complete Series – DVD Review

IkkiTousen

Review by: Clive Owen

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $49.98 US
Running Time: 325 minutes
Genre: Action
Rating: TV MA
Release Date: Available Now

Who knew that school girl outfits could explode like that?

Before we could even get to know the main protagonist of this story or what her personality is really like we see her pick a fight with some mean boys but also lost most of her school outfit that left very little to the imagination to begin with but is now in tatters. She still manages to whip her opponents but aside from looking good in her bra and panties there is very little else meaningful or interesting about Hakufu Sonsaku in The Complete Series of Ikki Tousen.

Interestingly enough, Ikki Tousen is a unique twist on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms story with many of the familiar characters from the story transformed into sexy and bosomy young High school girls. Ikki Tousen actually recreates key moments from that story with High school students standing in as the reincarnated characters that are fated to meet in battle. Instead of different providences at war, the story is set up as seven schools that are at odds with each another and the battles mere fistfights that determine what school dominates the other.

We meet Koukin Shuyu from Nanyo Academy who is awaiting the arrival of his very attractive cousin Hakufu Sonsaku to the school. In Hakufu’s first day, she gets into a fight with a few tough boys only to trun her school uniform into tatters. She’s not a smart girl and often jumps into problems even when Koukin tells her to be careful. Hakufu would have been really annoying if she wasn’t a sexy girl who doesn’t even flinch when an opponent tears her clothes away or if she lands in a very provocative pose … mainly all of which involves panty flashing.

As word of her fighting prowess spreads throughout the school, Hakufu is challenged by fighters that are ranked as members of the Big Four. Meanwhile, Koukin comes to realize that his attractive cousin is being targeted and he gets cryptic messages from his fellow classmate, Genpou Saji, who seems shifty and is not a good person seeing as he practically feels up every girl he encounters. Hakufu even meets Ryomou, a deadly fighter who sports an eye patch and favors wrestling-styled moves. When Ryomou is asked to take down Hakufu, the girl awakens a “dragon” within Hakufu that makes the dumb girl lose control of herself and thus gives Ryomou quite a thrashing.

Not sure of what to make of her uncontrollable rage or what it means, Hakufu rushes out into the street only to meet two other fighters that include a slacker named Kakoton and a girl in a very revealing school girl outfit named Kanu Uncho. Normally, this is the point where a character would go on a little soul searching journey but Hakufu is too dumb for something like that and ends up treating the upcoming Big Fighter’s Tournament like a fun event. She doesn’t even train like Koukin does yet somehow she becomes to main target of a hidden foe named Totaku.

The best fights come when the tournament finally arrives and pits Nanyo Academy against the six other schools. The once foe Ryomou joins Hakufu and Koukin in the fights as well as the once big bully Gakushu. In the middle of the tournament, we dive into the drama created by Totaku who playfully tortures his allies such as the beautiful Hosen. Their plan is to unleash the dragon within the clueless Hakufu until Koukin, Ryomou and Gakushu uncover the real mastermind behind the plot.

While the battles are street brawls, they try to fall into the historic battles that were fought in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms … particularly the ones that have key players going up against each another. There are also deaths in this anime and the blood certainly flies during the more brutal fights that have characters coughing up blood or – at one point – getting their heads bashed in like a ripe watermelon.

Violence aside, there’s also the heavy fan service I mentioned that would have made this anime a guilty pleasure had the panty flashes and torn clothes been amusing. Instead, it’s overused and stops being sexy very quickly to the point that it becomes comical for all the wrong reasons. Gee, I never thought I would say that about a show with cute, bouncy girls. There’s also nudity and sex, which certainly makes this a series that earns its TV MA rating.

In the end, though, it is the story that is handled poorly to the point that the ending will make you shake your head wondering what was the point of fighting. Ikki Tousen, The Complete Series, is simply an unsatisfying series that could have been great had the story and characters been the driving force being the series rather than the mindless fan service that stops being fun to watch. If this series sound interesting, I recommend renting this one first.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: D
An intriguing take on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms story, we follow Hakufu Sonsaku, a bubbly and bouncy young High school girl who will fulfill the prophecy laid before her as a fighter for Nanyo Academy. She goes up against some skilled fighters along the way only to find herself in the middle of a fighter’s tournament and a plot to overthrow the leader of the school. Plus, there’s loads of fan service that goes from plentiful to excessive.

VIDEO QUALITY: C+
I would like to say that the animation is Ikki Tousen’s best feature but it’s just plain generic in that seen-this-all-before kind of way. At least the girls are cute in this series and if you like to see them rip each another’s school girl outfits then you are definitely in luck.

AUDIO QUALITY: C-
With the exception of Carrie Savage, the rest of the English dub cast does a somewhat decent job but I would go with the original Japanese voice for this series. The music isn’t amazing but at least it does a good job of making the action scenes feel more dramatic.

EXTRAS: D
There’s only the trailers to be found in the second disc and nothing else. Unfortunately, the DVD easter eggs from the individual DVDs are not included.

OVERALL: D
How can a series with cute girls and loads of fan service be so devoid of anything that would have made this an appealing action series? Ikki Tousen is an interesting concept but with characters that are quite bland and a story that fails to keep the momentum to make the fight scenes good enough to enjoy. What we have here is an anime series with a lot of flash but no substance.

One Piece, Season Two: First Voyage – DVD Review

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Review by: Edward Zacharias

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $49.98 US
Running Time: 320 minutes
Genre: Action
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now

Welcome to the Grand Line … the strangest place in the world.

In the first season of One Piece, Monkey D. Luffy has swore to become the greatest pirate and in order to do that he decided to follow in the footsteps of the best and head to the Grand Line in search of the “One Piece.” The journey has been a long one and Luffy recruits new crewmates willing to help him achieve his goal as they get even closer to the Grand Line. Now, in the First Voyage of Season Two, the series places the Going Merry and its determined crew on a course beyond the Grand Line itself.

First Voyage of Season Two covers episodes 54-66 as a little girl named Apis makes a daring escape from the clutches of the Marines who have taken her from her island village. You see, Apis is the one clue to finding the elixir of immortality or, as it’s really called, Dragonite. So you can imagine how badly the fleet’s Commodore wants her back so badly. Yet, having escaped on a dinghy only to be found by the Straw Hats.

While, at first, Apis is afraid of the pirates she comes to realize that these guys aren’t so bad. They even promise to take her back home to her home village on Battleship Island . Meanwhile, the Marines go after them only to lose them in the Calm Belt … a spot in the sea where nothing moves and the sea life is dangerous. Thankfully, Apis’ quick thinking gets them out of it and on to her island where we discover the little girl’s secret. You see, Apis has been hiding and feeding an elderly dragon she calls Grandpa Ryo. The dragon, as Apis’ grandfather mentions, belongs to the Lost Island where a dragon’s nest will heal the senile dragon.

While Sanji and Zolo don’t agree on doing another free job, Luffy drags them along taking the dragon to his home island. Unfortunately, the Marines are still after them and the Commodore sends a mercenary who calls himself Eric the Whirlwind. As Eric tracks them down, the Straw Hats find an isolated island that is hidden by an invisible barrier only to discover the real location of the Lost Island was a lot closer than they thought. Battles are fought between the Marine fleets and the Going Merry but the real fight comes when Zolo takes on Eric who reveals he has Devil Fruit abilities.

The Dragon’s Nest story arc goes on a bit too long but at least it has a very satisfying conclusion and one that leads to an action-packed finale and tragedy. Having made a new friend in Apis and her fellow island inhabitants, it is off to the Grand Line again. Seeing as Battleship Island wasn’t far from where they meant to travel in the first place, they discover that the entrance to the Grand Line is actually a surreal water staircase that will lead them up a channel and down another. When they do break through they find a giant black whale waiting at the bottom that swallows the ship.

Ok, so this isn’t the best welcome to the Grand Line but as Luffy attempts to save his friends from the inside of the scarred whale (that has doors and corridors) he realizes that there are two very unfriendly people inside as well. It is here that we meet Mister Nine and the lovely Miss Wednesday who are trying to kill the whale to feed their village. Their unusual names mean something to Zolo, he points it out to his friends but it isn’t until the ship escapes the whale’s belly and heads out to the port village of Whiskey Peak that Zolo actually confronts them.

The people in Whiskey Peak, while offering a warm welcome, reveal themselves to be something else entirely as Zolo faces off against them. He calls them Baroque Works, a group of mercenaries-for-hire that tried to hire him but when two new members of Baroque Works shows up to confront the leader about a royal from the kingdom of Alabasta hiding within the ranks of Baroque Works. It’ll come as a big surprise who this royal is and, in the end, Nami is the one who accepts the job of taking said royal back to Alabasta. Those who know the manga knows the Alabasta story arc is one of the more exciting ones in the series and is what will make us look forward to the Second Voyage.

Season Two’s First Voyage of One Piece is an adventure that’s off to a good start but while the first few episodes seem to drag a story arc a bit too long you will love the rest of the episodes that set up what will be a memorable, action-packed season. The Grand Line certainly is an unusual place and, thusly, makes for interesting story lines that will have you enjoying the later episodes and have you waiting for the next few episodes with much anticipation.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A-
Luffy and his Straw Hat crew come even closer to the Grand Line when a detour takes them to an island where a little girl protects a secret that could lead to an elixir of immortality. As they battle to protect the secret, they make new enemies within the Marines. Then, at the Grand Line itself, the Straw Hats accept a new assignment that will lead them down a dangerous path.

VIDEO QUALITY: A
The animation is still very true to Eiichiro Oda’s art and you just have to love the interesting scenery that the Grand Line has to offer.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The voice acting for the English dub is still one of my favorite ways of watching this show, although the original Japanese voices really come off brilliantly in this first half of the season. Once again, the music is amazing on this show and you have to love the theme songs.

EXTRAS: C+
Once again the season box set comes with the Marathon Play feature, a few trailers and the clean opening and closing theme songs. Thankfully, they also includes a commentary track for Episode 60 with ADR Director Jason Grundy and voice actors Brittany Karbowski (Apis) and Sonny Strait (Usopp).

OVERALL: A-
The First Voyage of Season Two of One Piece brings the Straw Hat pirates to a new territory that opens up even more interesting story arcs that continues to make this such a fun series. While a tad on the lengthy side, the first story arc does have plenty of exciting moments but it’s the later episodes that will have you glad you’re a One Piece fan.

Welcoming A New Member of the Family: Comic Revolution

In our household, you were either reading Hawthorne out loud before dinner or reading quietly in our favorite room in our home. Of course, my tastes ran more towards manga than my young sister who preferred comics such as Justice League of America or X-Men.

Funny thing is that my sister, one of the most girliest girls I know (next to Sophie Stevens), loved guy comics. At our school, she had boys hanging on her every word as she talked comics and one of her first jobs was working at a comic book store (where I bought most of my manga at half price … score!). She loves Wolverine and loves comics with plenty of gore. This from a girl who was a cheerleader in Middle School and High School. How can a girl that loves shopping, shoes and was a contender for Miss Teen California love horror comics and Sin City with a passion?

I think what I’m trying to say is that my sister, Eden, is the perfect choice to be the Editor-in-Chief for Comic Revolution. A new blog site dedicated to reviewing comics. While Animanga Nation covers the manga and anime front. Comic Revolution will dedicate itself to this front so if your interests also include comics that aren’t manga then Comic Revolution will have you covered. Also, our own Faith McAdams will have a hand in keeping Comic Revolution busy.

Here’s hoping that Comic Revolution will have a long and happy life.

You can find Comic Revolution on our Blog Roll but I’m including the link right here on WordPress:

http://comicrevolution.wordpress.com