Archives for January 2015

Spell of Desire Vol 3

Spell of Desire Volume 3 by Tomu Ohmi

Well, there have been plenty of suggestive scenes in the first couple volumes of Spell of Desire, but finally in the third volume accidental witch Kaoruko and her mother’s favored protector Kaname get it on, due to witchy aphrodisiacs, necessary spell casting, and their growing yet not fully acknowledged feelings for each other! What more would a reader want in a josei paranormal romance?

Kaoruko has been delivered to the coven, and they decide it is necessary for her to fully become a black witch in order for her to gain some control over her powers. Black witches can’t be virgins, so they’ve decided to set Kaoruko up with an incubus in order for her to start down the path towards black magic. Kaoruko is drugged into compliance, but she’s still not cool with the idea of being with anyone but Kaname, and fortunately her knight protector decides to intervene in the ritual deflowering, breaking several rules in the process.

Kaname and Kaoruko end up seeking refuge in a house in the woods owned by an impressive looking white wolf (this is a crossover appearance with a character from a series that hasn’t been translated into English yet), and Kaoruko learns a bit more about Kaname’s background and why he’s so devoted to her mother. As always in this series, Kaname’s commitment to the Witch Queen causes Kaoruko to have doubts about their future. When the couple return to the coven, Kaoruko meets more of her mother’s knights, and Kaname is punished horribly. Kaoruko is determined to learn more about witchcraft so she can protect him.

A bunch of new characters get introduced in this volume, and the plot grows more complex as Kaoruko starts to learn more about the differences between white and black magic. It’ll be interesting to see what she can accomplish once she’s fully in command of her powers. I continue to enjoy Ohmi’s art, and I enjoy the way Kaoruko’s power still manifests as vine-like tendrils that curve around the panels of the manga. This series is only 5 volumes long, and this volume served as an effective middle volume, showing Kaoruko about to start gathering more knowledge and power. I recommend this series for any fans of paranormal romance manga!

Master Keaton Volume 1 Giveaway!

I have an extra copy of Master Keaton, so I’m going to give it away!

Leave a comment with the profession you would use as your back-up job while spending most of your time globetrotting on action-packed insurance investigations!

Professor? Etsy Crafter? Bike messenger? Foghat roadie??

Contest will be open for one week!

US residents only please.

Commenter #5, Angel won the giveaway! Stay tuned for another giveaway soon!

Master Keaton Vol 1

Master Keaton Volume 1 by Naoki Urasawa, Takashi Nagasaki, and Hokusei Katsushika

I don’t have the best track record of finishing Naoki Urasawa series. I own all of 20th Century Boys and mean to read it all the way through again. I’ve checked out a couple volumes of Pluto and the first few volumes of Monster. One of these days I will finish an Urasawa series! This failing on my part didn’t stop me from trying out Master Keaton, and I enjoyed the first volume, even though there were a few aspects of the manga that didn’t quite come together for me.

Taichi Hiraga Keaton is a half Japanese half British archaeologist, apathetic professor, and insurance investigator with a unique set of survival skills due to his background in the SAS. He bounces between giving lectures and handling cases for Lloyd’s of London. Many reviewers have referred to Keaton as a mash-up between Indiana Jones and Macgyver, and that’s a good way to sum up the series. Keaton seems to have a bit more inner turmoil than a action hero though, and that’s what makes this series entertaining. We’re introduced to Keaton when a man named Leon Pappas with a substantial life insurance policy dies in Greece. Keaton is dispatched to investigate the murder, but he only has a certain number of days he can allocate to the task, since he has to get back into the classroom the following week.

Keaton’s sensitivity towards antiquities and his excellence in creating weapons out of random kitchen implements are showcased in this story, as he uncovers more facts about the subject of his investigation when he meets Pappa’s girlfriend and manages to fend off some unscrupulous and armed business associates. The rest of the volume is a bit meandering, as different chapters have Keaton explore new mysteries, deal with his teenage daughter, and confront a significant figure from his own past. Aspects of the story here and there are a bit didactic, as the reader is informed about illegal weapons trade, aspects of art forgery, desert survival tactics, and the opium trade. I enjoyed the way the manga skipped around from topic to topic, but I generally enjoy manga with infodumps more when there is some genuine enthusiasm behind conveying all the information. I would happily read chapters upon chapters of a Fumi Yoshinaga where the characters discuss nuances of vegetable chopping, but in Master Keaton I have to admit I found my attention wandering at times.

Keaton’s personality is so reserved and unaffected for the most part. He tends to create a random gadget that saves the day very casually, which is amusing, but it is difficult to see how his adventures are having any impact on him personally. I was glad when his daughter showed up and drew him into an adventure protecting an archeological site, and Keaton’s odd reflexive anxiety about his ex-wife getting married again hints at some deeper emotions. While Urasawa’s art isn’t as polished as his later works, the character designs are all unique and enjoyable and the action scenes are all capably handled. Early Urasawa art is way above the quality of what most artists could aspire to. The over ized deluxe signature edition is really nice, with color pages and a sound effects glossary in the back. I’m curious to see what the next volume of this series is like. In some ways, I liked the shift in focus from unraveling a mystery to family, back to a thriller type story dealing with the drug trade, but at the same time I’m wondering how well that will pan out if the plot continues to skip around like that too much in subsequent volumes.

I’m giving away a copy of this volume, so you can check it out yourself!

Kiss of the Rose Princess Vol 2

Kiss of the Rose Princess Volume 2 by Aya Shouoto

I enjoyed the first volume of this series, but it was a bit on the light and fluffy side. When I finished reading this volume, I felt much more invested in this series because this volume BROUGHT THE ANGST! And while a funny paranormal manga might be a disposable distraction, I find myself much more intrigued by a funny paranormal manga that is also serving up a side dish of emotional trauma.

All along there were some hits of something dark in the first volume of this series, as Anise’s anxiety about losing her rose necklace and her memories of her father threatening to punish her seemed a bit extreme. This volume fills in the background of the Rose Princess and her Knights, introduces a new character/romantic rival, and establishes that Anise’s father is indeed very evil. So many shoujo manga set in high school get livened up with the the addition of a new transfer student, and in this case it is Haruto, and old acquaintance of Anise’s from Osaka who announces that he’s transferred to her school because she is the perfect foil to team up with in a comedy duo tournament. Reverse harem shenanigans ensue, as Anise’s Rose Knights end up challenging Haruto. Unfortunately Haruto is somewhat unscrupulous and poisons Kaede with an expired juice box.

Horrible things seem to happen to the Rose Knights after Haruto comes to town, most notably Mizuki being mysteriously attacked. It turns out that Haruto is the yellow rose of jealousy. It turns out that the Rose Knights of the past used the yellow rose as a sacrifice to seal away a demon lord, and now the seal needs to be redone. Anise’s father and Haruto are clearly on the side of evil, but the angst comes in when one of Anise’s knights decides that it is his role to serve as the new sacrifice.

This volume alternated between comedic high school shenanigans involving goofy contests and giving classmates chocolate, but there were a few good moments of character development along the way. Kaede is always steadfast, the reader gets a peak into Mizuki’s point of view, and Anise is growing stronger and stronger, determined not to give in to a predetermined destiny that was placed on her with the role of Rose Princess. This second volume was more entertaining than the first, so I’m hoping that this trend continues in future volumes!