Miku is a high school student with a passion for nails. She is enjoying an average day in her normal life when suddenly a car slams into her. When Miku awakens in hospital, she is visited by a Shinigami (Death God / God of Death) by the name of Sei who explains that he has come to take her to the other side. Cuffing Miku to him with a device known as Thanatos Lover, Sei whisks her away to the other world. But when they get there, it is discovered that a huge mistake was made and that Miku was not supposed to die yet. Sei returns Miku to the living world but there is a problem. The cuffs on Thanatos Lover will not unfasten until Miku’s true moment of death. Until that time, they are stuck together and must make the best of it.
The storyline is very predictable with no real plot twists or unexpected developments. There were very few chapters (14 over two volumes) and it felt to me like the story was being compressed and “rushed”. Because of this rushed pace, many of the scenes feel very unnatural and contrived. In fact the whole story has a sort of “forced” feeling about it most of the time.
The character development was weak. Even the two main protagonists came across a little two-dimensional and vague. Because I never got a chance to really “get to know” them, I felt no real connection to any of the players whatsoever.
I wasn’t too impressed by the artwork. The character art is a bit on the unoriginal side and there was little creativity with the POV (Point-Of-View). A lot of the time it felt as though there was a deliberate restriction on the number of panels used even though there was plenty of space.
The ending was rather sudden and flat which would leave any reader feeling disappointed. Although I’m the last person I’d expect to be standing by conventions, I do think that in the case of any story intended for entertainment value, there has to be a relatively dramatic or meaningful ending.
Shinigami Lovers is not a terrible story. The idea itself, while a little cliché, is not a bad one. In actuality I think the manga had potential but it occurs to me that the writer had the idea for where the story was going but not really how to get there. Had there been more fleshing out of the characters and had the events happened more smoothly instead of as abruptly as they did, I would probably have written a somewhat more positive review. Unfortunately it turned out the way it did so my advice is save this one for a really rainy day.
Japanese Title(s): “Living With …. [xyz monster girl]”, “Everyday Life with Monster Girls”
Living with Monster Girls is a mysterious set of eleven single page stories including a twelfth page gag-interview with the author who remains unknown (If anybody could track him/her down, I’ll give you an honorary mention). Each story revolves one of eight brothers (Who look identical right down to the hairstyle) living with a “monster girl”. The monster girls include a Harpy, a Centaur, an Arachne, a Dullahan, a Lamia, a Mermaid, a Minotaur and a Slime.
The manga creates humorous and sometimes quite sentimental situations by taking advantage of the basic differences between humans and these various fictitious creatures. The artwork is very amateur but not in a displeasing way, at least not within the context of this particular work. Although hentai factor is quite blatant on some pages, the series goes a little deeper and actually has quite a bit of substance to it.
Souichi Negishi is a gentle and naive country bumpkin who comes to the big city of Tokyo seeking fame and fortune as a pop musician. He succeeds…in a manner of speaking. Unfortunately for Negishi, the band he finds himself in is a death metal band, Detroit Metal City known by most simply as DMC. This is a far cry from the trendy pop career he’d envisioned for himself. Nonetheless Negishi refuses to give up his dreams and finds himself living a double life. One as Negishi the struggling pop musician singing songs of love and peace on street corners, the other of Krauser II the lead guitarist and vocalist of DMC singing songs of murder, rape and mayhem at large concerts crawling with scary fans. At first this seems an acceptable arrangement while Negishi follows his chosen career in his spare time but soon the two lives begin to clash. Life becomes worse as Negishi has less and less luck following his dream and with the appearance of an old college crush, things only become increasingly tense as the young man tries his best to keep his identity as Krauser II a secret from her and his family.
Detroit Metal City is hilarious and it’s predominantly humour that anybody could appreciate. There are a few more subtle references but missing them would in no way detract from the enjoyment of reading DMC. I didn’t like the character artwork very much, especially the female characters but the storyline does manage to make up for this shortcoming. The character development is a little stunted but not annoyingly so and all in all DMC is a very enjoyable experience. If you like comedy of any type, you’ll enjoy this manga; it is really one of those “for just anyone” works.
There’s both and anime and live action DMC out as well. Both of them are well worth a watch but it’s better to read the manga at least to the end of volume 3 before you do so. There are a lot of details that have been changed in DMC’s translation from paper to screen as well as the order of many events.
There are many different scanlators out there, be they individuals or groups. The quality of their work varies considerably from the terrible (looks like they faxed the thing) to the good (work has no signs of being scanned and has been cleaned up really nicely). Then there are certain things that you just don’t do.
Take note of the two scanlations. I’m sure all manga fans will agree that the sound effects are just as much a part of the artwork as they are in western comics. That’s the first thing to draw your attention to. In 1; the SFX are left in Japanese whereas in 2, it’s been shopped out and the Japanese SFX have been replaced with a western equivalent. This is the wrong thing to do. It is much better to put a translation note above, below or along the side of the panel (Although it’s not always necessary with the more obvious things). I’m afraid this is actually not the best example but if you’re a keen comic/manga reader you’ll know what I mean though.
Moving on to the overall appearance, we can see 2 is scanned because of the page bend towards the center. Now this is sometimes unavoidable in many cases without tearing the book apart (Not a very sane solution). So it boils down to how bad the page bend is. In 2, the page bend is actually not all that bad (Only in the case of a scanlation, a straight scan is a different ball game) because it hasn’t obscured the picture much. It only looks bad because it wasn’t cleaned up properly. By editing out the places where the scanners background shows through, it would have made it a lot less noticeable.
My biggest problem with 2 though is the fact that the image has been inverted to make it read like a western comic (Manga reads from right to left whereas western comics read from left to right). This is the worst thing anyone can do. It obscures perspective and direction as well as messing with the art – and we do not mess with the art! I don’t even know why somebody would feel the need to do this. It does not take a rocket scientist to see upon reading their first manga how it reads. Besides, people who have been reading manga for a while who are unfortunate enough to stumble upon one of these scan-fails get very irritated. I think this is heresy and there are plenty of people who will agree with me.
Before I get tons of angry comments, I’d just like to say to all the scanlators out there; I mean no disrespect. Without you guys and your sacrifice of large amounts of your time and labour, where would the rest of us be? Believe me, and I’m sure I speak for all manga fans, when I say that your work IS appreciated, even if it’s not one-hundred percent perfect, after all, nobody is – especially myself. Try to think of this more as a set of suggestions and not criticisms.
Ichijo Mashiro is a student at Kokoku High living a typical high school boy’s life – at least on the outside. You see Mashiro has an astonishing secret; he’s half female! If dealing with his own personal problems isn’t complication enough, Mashiro is thrown into a world of chaos and illusions when he is invited to join a special after school class in a section of Kokoku High that he’s sure was never there before. This is no ordinary class either. Here students all go to sleep to participate in a shared dream where they appear in their hearts’ truest forms which range from the bizarre to the horrific, competing against each other in order to obtain a key that will allow them to “graduate”.
One of the most interesting, gripping and original stories I’ve read in a long time; After School Nightmare will keep you on the edge of your seat from the first volume. It’s extremely atmospherically charged, often toying with the reader’s own sense of reality. The character development is first-class; allowing you to get to know all the characters thoroughly as the story unfolds. Dominated by an eerie feeling of loneliness and isolation and filled with suspense, romance, action and tragedy; it’s one of those things you just can’t help but resent being pulled away from, even if it’s 3am on a school or work night.