Archive for March 22nd, 2010

Long Introduction Post

Welcome to Manga Kaleidoscope, yet another blog dedicated to reviewing manga (and possibly a few anime series in the future)!

Hello, my name is Zoe Alexander, and I am a mangaholic. Feel free to call me Zoe. It’s not my real name, but that’s the beauty of the Internet — you can be anybody you want to be.

I’ve been a fan of manga for, oh…going on about thirteen years, I believe. Like a lot of older anime and manga fans, I was (and still proudly am) a Moonie. Sailor Moon was my gateway drug into the world of anime. I was utterly devastated when the series was taken off the air in syndication, so a couple of years later, when I learned that the manga version would be serialized in a new manga anthology called Mixxzine, I immediately subscribed.

I have to admit, those first few years were all about Sailor Moon. I liked a couple of the other titles in Mixxzine, like Magic Knight Rayearth (which I eventually bought about a decade later) and Parasyte (which I have yet to pick up again), but I was just a poor student, so all my meager funds went into buying Sailor Moon manga and super-expensive Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura videotapes.

It wasn’t until around the time I graduated high school (in 2002) that I began to branch out and try other series, anime and manga-wise. My next manga series was either Ceres: Celestial Legend or Fushigi Yugi. I can’t quite remember which I started reading first — I have oversized, flipped editions (remember those?) for the first few volumes of both — but they introduced me to my all-time favorite mangaka, the fabulous and talented Yuu Watase. The rest, as they say, is history.

I became addicted to manga.

Shoujo manga tends to be my drug of choice, although I have started craving more josei and seinen titles as of late. As a general rule, I stay away from shonen — not out of any real dislike for the genre (though it’s true that most shonen titles don’t appeal to me), but because of the sometimes insane lengths of shonen series like Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece. I just don’t have the money to support that kind of habit, you know? I have been known to break that rule on occasion with some shorter shonen series, however. I also don’t tend to read titles with a strong BL/yaoi focus. Nothing wrong if that’s your thing; it’s just not something (to continue with this whole “manga is a drug” metaphor I have going on) I get high on.

When I decided to create this blog, I wanted to do something a little different from the majority of manga review blogs out there. Most manga reviews focus on single volumes. They’re fun to read because the reviewer can concentrate on the events of that particular volume, but (with the possible exception of first volume reviews) I can’t imagine them being very helpful to general manga consumers looking for manga to buy. Not only are reviews of later volumes likely to reveal spoilers, but how many people out there read a bad review of a volume from a series they’re already collecting and decide not to buy it, especially when those volumes might have important plot points? (For episodic and/or series with a lot of filler, I suppose it would be easier to skip a bad volume or two.) I feel those kinds of reviews are best either for people who have already read the volume and are curious about other people’s opinion on it or those who don’t mind spoilers. (I have to confess that I am one of them, as I often seek out spoilers on purpose, but I can understand why some people like to stay clear of them.)

Personally, I’m a completist. If I start collecting something — whether it be manga, anime, or something else altogether — I have this overwhelming need to complete the collection, even if it’s not something I particularly like. (Needless to say, it also annoys me when a series I’m collecting gets dropped mid-way through translation or goes on hiatus.) I’m not someone who can buy the first few volumes of a manga series, decide I don’t like it, and then give away/resell those volumes to somebody else. In fact, if possible, I prefer to wait until a series is completely released, then scoop it up all at once. (I do have a handful of series I collect as they are released, but the majority are from mangaka whose works I know I’ll like and I feel reasonably sure won’t be cancelled mid-way.)

That’s why the majority of the reviews on this blog will cover completed series. (Should I ever be sent review copies, I will be happy to review them as single releases, but anything from my own collection will be reviewed as a complete series.) This is a blog for those manga readers who want to know if a series might be worth their time and money. I’m not arrogant enough to say that my opinion is the end all and be all — after all, people have different likes and dislikes, and there is no such thing as a manga that absolutely everybody will love — but I do hope my reviews will be helpful to those who may (or may not, as the case may be) share my tastes. 

What are my tastes? Well, lessee… I enjoy romance, drama, comedy, slice-of-life, magical girls, and the supernatural — stories about ghosts, witches, angels, demons, and the like. (However, I’m not generally a fan of vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc.) A little action is good, as long as it isn’t too, too violent and it’s balanced with other things. I don’t like gore; gross-out, crude humor is an out with me as well. I like artwork to be pretty, and the male leads to be even prettier. Interesting characters are a must; a great plot filled with emotion even better. Not really into science fiction. With pure fantasy stories, it depends. For those curious:

Top Five Favorite Mangaka

Watase Yuu
Yazawa Ai
Takaya Natsuki
Shiomi Chika

Top Five Favorite Manga Series

Fruits Basket
Death Note

Each review I write will be given a score on a scale from 1-10, based on how much I personally enjoyed it. These are not solely critical-based scores. I’m sure there are some incredibly well-written and/or well-drawn manga out there that may just not be my cup of tea; likewise, there are some manga that I realize may be lacking in some regards, yet I can’t help loving them. Objective critique will be a factor in the score, but overall, I’m looking at the entertainment value of a series. Did I enjoy it? Do I think others will like it, too? Would I recommend it?

I’m borrowing the ranking system for

1 – Unreadable
2 – Horrible
3 – Very Bad
4 – Bad
5 – Average
6 – Fine
7 – Good
8 – Very Good
9 – Great
10 – Masterpiece

Everything given a four or below, I would not recommend at all. Fives and sixes will be given to series I think are relatively okay — not terrible, yet not something I would personally recommend. Sevens and eights are titles I would recommend on a case-by-case basis, while nines and tens are series I would recommend to everybody without hesitation. I will also post a “Recommended For” list with each review, to highlight other titles and genres that are similar to the reviewed title.

I think that’s about it for now. Onto the reviews!
(Note: For the first couple of weeks, I will be reposting some reviews I posted on my LiveJournal, so bear with me.)

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