Manga Review: “Case Closed” Volume 17

Case Closed Volume 17 focuses on first grade detective Conan Edogawa, who had previously been a high school detective named Jimmy Kudo. While investigating a case, Jimmy was discovered by a criminal organization and forced to take an experimental poison. Unknown to the criminals, Jimmy survived and shrunk down to his first grade self. He takes on the name Conan Edogawa to hide his identity, goes to live with his friend Rachel and her bumbling private detective father, and receives help and gadgets from his neighbor, Dr. Agasa. Conan’s overall goal is to find a way to return to his regular self again.

Case Closed Volume 17
Written by: Gosho Aoyama
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: May 15, 2007

Volume 17 continues the murder mystery that began at the end of Volume 16. In that mystery, the wife of an old and famous potter is found dead, and Conan ultimately has to prove that it was a murder and not a suicide. This story is executed in the typical fashion that readers have come to expect from Aoyama’s writing. It’s not to say that Aoyama has formulaic writing, though. There’s just a particular feel to the storytelling that I’ve come to associate with Case Closed. With this particular mystery, I had figured out who the guilty party was, but not how they carried out the murder.

The next three chapters in Case Closed Volume 17 take place at the beach, where Rachel tries once again to create a reconciliation between her parents. Her efforts are unsuccessful, but Conan, Rachel, Richard, and Eva meet a group of scuba divers. Two of the divers are engaged to marry, and one of them becomes the victim of an attempted murder. I appreciated seeing how Aoyama intertwined the interactions between Richard and Eva with the mystery that unfolds, and how there’s a parallel between the two couples and their motivations for their actions. I thought this added a nice touch to this particular mystery.

This is followed by a one-chapter story that takes place when Conan and the Detective Boys visit Richard in the hospital after he’s broken his leg. But this visit leads Conan to discovering a mystery that involves a kidnapping and extortion. Conan worked this particular case on his own, since the Detective Boys don’t pick up on what’s going on. It was a refreshing change of pace to not have a murder mystery or an attempted murder mystery.

The next three chapters of Volume 17 sees Richard, Ran, and Conan going to visit someone about mysterious happenings at their home after Richard receives a letter. This is actually another non-murder mystery, and it involves needing to figure out codes left behind by the original owner of the house. Not only does this story involve cracking a code, but it turns out there’s more going on than meets the eye. I really liked the twist that there was more to the story than what the reader was originally led to believe. I like it when Aoyama throws in twists to the mysteries, because the cases become harder for the reader to solve on their own before Conan explains everything.

Right at the end of the volume, there’s the beginning of another murder mystery when Richard, Rachel, and Conan meet an actor who wants Richard to mentor him on how to be a detective for an upcoming role. By the end of the volume, it’s clear to both Conan and the reader who the murderer is, but nothing has been revealed about how the murder was carried out. I’m sure that will be answered early on in Volume 18.

Even though I’m already familiar with these mysteries from watching the Case Closed anime series, I still found them to be just as enjoyable when I read them again in the original manga source material.

If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous volumes of the series, then I think you’ll enjoy reading Case Closed Volume 17.

Manga Review: “Attack on Titan” Volume Nine

Attack on Titan Volume 9 is set in an alternative middle-ages world that has been attacked by giant humanoid creatures called Titans. The remains of civilization are protected by three concentric walls that are about 50 meters tall. After building these walls, humanity has remained safe for 100 years and has basically become complacent. While there are people who want to go outside of the walls and explore the wall, many are discouraged from doing so. Eren Yeager and his friends Mikasa and Armin end up enlisting in the military forces after Unusual Titans attacked their city.

Attack on Titan Volume 9
Written by: Hajime Isayama
Publisher: Kodansha Ltd.
English Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: November 26, 2013

Volume 9 focuses very heavily on the Titan invasion after the breach of Wall Rose. One of the biggest surprises was the hairy Titan that can speak. We see this particular Titan on a couple of different occasions, but so far, nothing to explain what’s going on with this particular Titan. I’m very intrigued to find out what’s going with this unusual Titan, and hopefully we’ll find out in one of the upcoming volumes.

We also get to see some character development for Connie Springer, when he returns to his village after the Titans breach the wall. Something very unusual is found when he reaches his house, and if I’ve guessed what caused this is, there could be some very major repercussions in connection to this discovery.

There’s also some backstory and development for Sasha Blouse. I enjoyed seeing the flashbacks of when she was younger, because it definitely explains her obsession with food. It turns out that interest is food isn’t just for comic relief. Sasha gets an important story when she returns to her village and finds a Titan attacking it.

Eren doesn’t make an appearance in Attack on Titan Volume 9 until around halfway through, and even then, he doesn’t play a major role. However, the scenes with Eren and the others he’s traveling with have a couple of important revelations included. I was glad to see the idea of something being hidden in the basement of Eren’s house was mentioned here, and it looks like Eren may finally take some action in regards to getting there. Finally! It was starting to feel as if the plot point involving Eren’s basement had been forgotten. I feel rather confident that something rather important will be discovered there, but at this point, I have no idea how much longer it’ll take Eren to finally be able to make it back to that basement to reveal whatever secrets it holds. It’s also revealed that a character who’s basically been in the background up to this point actually has importance to the story and could have some potentially important information regarding the secret of the walls. So now we also have another potentially big revelation being teased to the audience, and it’ll be interesting to find out what it is when Isayama decides to reveal it.

The art in Attack on Titan Volume 9 is still as strong as it was in the first volume, and it maintains the unique feel that the series has. I especially liked some of the drawings of Sasha in her flashback, because I felt that Isayama took some care with them. Not only does she look a little younger, but Isayama made sure that these drawings grabbed the reader’s attention.

If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous eight volumes of the series, then you definitely won’t want to miss Attack on Titan Volume 9. It’s a strong continuation to the story, and it also includes some much needed character development for Connie and Sasha.

Manga Review: “One Piece” Volume 18

One Piece Volume 18 focuses on Luffy, a young man who dreams of finding the One Piece and becoming the King of the Pirates someday. As a child, he ate the Gum-Gum fruit, which turned his body into rubber and allows him to stretch himself in crazy ways. Unfortunately, this means that he is no longer able to swim and will drown if he goes into water. But Luffy is determined to achieve his dream, and he is accompanied by his pirate crew, who are known as the Straw Hats.

One Piece Volume 18
Written by: Eiichiro Oda
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: June 3, 2008

Volume 18 continues Luffy, the Straw Hats, and Vivi’s journey to Alabasta. During this volume, Luffy and his crew encounter two new characters: Bon Clay and Ace. One of these characters has a connection to Baroque Works, while the other has an important connection with Luffy.

But the main focus of this volume is on providing the reader with information about Alabasta and providing development for the country and its people. There’s also an important flashback included that provides backstory for Vivi, as well as for another character who appears will be playing an important role later in the story. There’s also some exposition for Baroque Works as well.

That’s not to say that One Piece Volume 18 is dull, though, because there’s still some action that takes place during the Straw Hats’ journey. It’s not as action-packed as some of the other volumes have been, but this volume is very important for helping the reader understand this new country and some of the newer characters who have been introduced to the series.

When it comes to the art, Volume 18 included several symbols that required an editor’s note to explain them. One of these editor’s note was very important, because it helped to head off potential controversy. Unfortunately, there’s a tattoo on Ace’s back that could have potentially caused readers to become very angry if they didn’t have the context for the tattoo’s design from the editor’s note.

Overall, I enjoyed One Piece Volume 18. It provided some much needed background information, and it also made me like the character of Vivi even more than I already did. Vivi was a fascinating character before this, but between getting the flashback of her past and the backstory for her country, it made Vivi an even more compelling character than she already was. This volume also provided a bit of a break from the action that’s usually prevalent in One Piece.

If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous volumes of the series, then I think you’ll want to read One Piece Volume 18.

Manga Review: “Dragon Ball Full Color” Volume Four

Dragon Ball Full Color Volume 4 includes the first volume of the Freeza Arc. Unlike the other releases of this manga, this one presents the story with full color in every panel.

Dragon Ball Full Color Volume 4
Written by: Akira Toriyama
Publisher: Shueisha Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: May 3, 2016

The fourth volume of Dragon Ball Full Color begins with Bulma, Kuririn, and Gohan heading for Planet Namek to try to find the Namekian Dragon Balls in order to bring their companions back to life. But after an injured Vegeta is healed, he begins his journey to Namek to find the Dragon Balls for himself.

This volume also introduces Freeza, the new villain for this story arc. He and Vegeta both have a goal of finding the Dragon Balls and wishing to live for eternity, and they also share a connection in their past. Over the course of this volume, it’s made very clear that Freeza is extremely evil and will do whatever it takes in order to obtain the Dragon Balls. We also get to meet some of the Namekians, and learn that as a race, they’re not evil like King Piccolo had been.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Dragon Ball volume if there weren’t fights of some kind happening. There’s nothing terribly epic here, since Goku isn’t at Namek yet. However, Vegeta manages to get some decent fights, and it was great to see him surprising all of his opponents.

Toriyama told the story in such a way that it keeps the reader interested and makes them want to keep going. I appreciated getting to read the manga version of this story, since it allows me to see how the story was intended to be told. In the anime adaptation, fights tended to be drawn out to ridiculous levels in order for the manga to get far enough ahead for the story to make significant progress. While I understand the necessity for the anime needing to stretch itself out, it can make for frustrating viewing at times. So getting to see the original manga proves that there’s a well-written and tight story that kind of gets lost in the anime adaptation.

When it comes to the art, the colors are vibrant and make the reader take notice. As I read the volume, I noticed that the colors looked rather similar to the shades that were used for the anime adaptation. Sometimes, I found myself thinking that I was looking at stills from the anime that had speech bubbles added to them. Obviously, that’s not the case, but that’s how this full color version felt at times. Not that that’s a bad thing, but as someone who’s seen the anime, I can’t help but think that way.

I would recommend Dragon Ball Full Color Volume 4 to fans of the Dragon Ball franchise, especially to those who want to own every version of the various manga volumes. If you’ve already got the original black and white manga versions of these chapters, you might only be interested in this if you’d rather replace them with color versions. If you don’t care whether or not your Dragon Ball manga has color, it may be harder to justify double dipping just to get the same material in color.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Manga Review: “My Love Story!!” Volume Eight

My Love Story!! Volume 8 focuses Takeo Goda, a large high school boy who believed he would never have a girlfriend. Now he’s going out with Rinko Yamato, and the series primarily focuses on their relationship.

My Love Story!! Volume 8
Written by: Kazune Kawahara
Publisher: Shueisha Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: April 5, 2016

Volume 8 begins with Takeo encountering Rinko’s father for the first time when he carries Rinko home after she injures her foot. This leads to Takeo being invited over to Rinko’s house to meet her family. This is a plot point that needed to eventually happen, and this seems to be the right time to introduce it, since at this point in the story, Takeo and Rinko have been going out for a year. As a reader who’s been following this series from the beginning, it was just as nice for us to meet Rinko’s family as it was for Takeo. This storyline was handled well, by including the nervousness that Takeo feels and combining it with the light-hearted humor that this series is known for.

The majority of My Love Story!! Volume 8 actually focuses on Makoto’s older sister, Ai, who’s had a crush on Takeo. At college, she’s being pursued by her classmate Oda, and she keeps turning him down. But in this volume, Ai seems to be starting to accept the idea that nothing can ever happen between her and Takeo, but yet she’s not sure she can give Oda a chance. When Ai comes home from Golden Week, Oda crashes with Takeo in order to be near Ai. After a bit of drama, this particular storyline seems to basically be resolved. And with the way this particular arc ends, it gives the impression that a potential obstacle for Takeo and Rinko’s relationship has been removed. And honestly, I’m glad about that. Maybe it’s just me, but I thought Ai’s interest in Takeo bordered a little on the creepy side. Yes, Oda may not much better, since he was stalking Ai so much, but at least he’s much closer to Ai’s age.

However, with the resolution of that storyline, a new potential obstacle is introduced. Rinko has always enjoyed making sweets, and when a part-time position opens at a cake shop that she really likes, she applies for and gets the job. But there’s a highly respected male chef who works there, and he misinterprets Rinko’s interests in his sweets for interest in him. This storyline is just getting started when Volume 8 ends, so I think it’s very safe to say that this new arc will continue in Volume 9.

Fans of the series will not want to miss out on My Love Story!! Volume 8, because this is their opportunity to finally see Rinko’s family and what type of environment Rinko comes from. Also, readers won’t want to miss out on the resolution of the arc about Ai and her interest in Takeo. This volume is an enjoyable read that helps to progress the overarching story.

Manga Review: “Shugo Chara!” Volume Two

Shugo Chara! Volume 2 focuses on Amu Hinamori, a girl who discovers three eggs that hatch into her three Guardian Characters: Ran, Miki, and Su. Each of the Guardian Characters claim to be the peron that Amu really wants to be. Amu becomes the fifth member of her school’s student council, and the members are referred to as the school’s Guardians. She is recruited to help find a special egg called the Embryo, as well as to search for and purify X Eggs and X Characters.

Shugo Chara! Volume 2
Written by: Peach-Pit
Publisher: Kodansha Ltd.
English Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: August 21, 2012

Volume 2 opens with Amu undergoing an unexpected Character Transformation (where one of her Guardian Characters merges with her), and it really rattles her to the point where Amu appears to now be afraid of change. Meanwhile, her classmate Yuki will be sent away to go to school in America, and Yuki is afraid of all the changes that will happen because of the move. I really appreciated seeing how these two storylines came together after Yuki is possessed by an X Character, and how seeing what happens to Yuki makes Amu come to a realization.

This volume also introduces a new character, who is a new teacher for Amu’s class. He is Yuu Nikaidou, and from the first time he was introduced, I had a suspicion that there was more to him than what appeared on the surface. Sure enough, a very important detail was revealed about this character that proved that my suspicions were correct. While I hadn’t completely predicted what was making me think there was something off about this character, I had a basic idea of what I thought his secret might be.

My least favorite part of Shugo Chara! Volume 2 was the chapter that focused on Amu and the other members of the student council having a story at the beach. The only important thing that happened in it was Peach-Pit establishing that Tadase seems to have some kind of feelings for Amu. Outside of that, this particular story felt like a waste of time. I know that building on a potential relationship for Amu and Tadase needs to happen, but I wish they could have found a better story to establish this with.

But it does seem there could be the potential for a love triangle to develop in Shugo Chara! Amu has some run-ins with Ikuto Tsukiyomi, a high school boy who is contracted by the Easter Company to find the Embryo. We see him rescue Amu at one point in the volume, and there’s also a scene where it’s revealed that Amu’s Humpty Lock is paired with Ikuto’s Humpty Key. The particular scene where this revelation is made strongly hints at a potential love interest angle, although it’s a little on the creepy side since Amu is only a fifth grader while Ikuto is in high school.

Overall, I have to say that Volume 2 is a strong continuation for the series. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that I thought it was even better than the first volume. Now that the main concept has been established, this volume could focus more on fleshing out the characters and their relationships. And the way this volume ends with a cliffhanger, it makes the reader want to move on to Volume 3 in order to find out what’s going to happen next.

Shugo Chara! Volume 2 will have the strongest appeal to younger female readers, because they will be able to relate to Amu and her friends. The story and the art style used for this series will also have a strong appeal to a younger female demographic.

Manga Review: “Horimiya” Volume One

Horimiya Volume 1 focuses on a popular girl named Kyouko Hori and a boring guy named Izumi Miyamura, and on how these two completely opposite characters become closer after discovering that the other has a secret.

Horimiya Volume 1
Written by: HERO
Publisher: Square Enix Co., Ltd.
English Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: October 27, 2015

Volume 1 introduces both Kyouko and Izumi, and establishes just how different the two of them are. But the reader quickly discovers that Kyouko is at home, she doesn’t wear makeup and tends to not dress up as much as she does at school. It turns out that Kyouko’s parents work a lot, so it’s up to her to keep the house clean and to take care of her little brother, Souta. One day, when Souta falls and gets hurt, he is brought home by a boy with piercings and wild hair, who just happens to be Izumi. The two of them discover that the other has a different image outside of school that they hide for the other kids at school.

Souta likes Izumi, and keeps wanting him to come over and spend time with him and Kyouko. As the two main characters spend time together outside of school, they start becoming friends. And one of them seems like they could be developing feelings for the other. But it turns out that a boy in their class likes Kyouko, and Kyouko’s best friend unknowingly develops a crush on Izumi when she sees him from behind one day when he’s out and about with Kyouko.

Horimiya Volume 1 does a great job of establishing the characters and setting up their world and their story. HERO makes these characters very relatable and likable, and as a reader, I found myself wanting to continue reading in order to find out what would happen to them. By the end of the volume, I was also shipping Kyouko and Izumi.

When it comes to the art, the characters have very distinct looks, and the reader can’t easily confuse them. I also thought there was very noticeable difference with the two different looks that Kyouko and Izumi have at school and at home. With the art, I found it believable that on the rare occasions that someone from school might see them in their out of school looks, that they wouldn’t be easily recognized.

Horimiya Volume 1 comes across as an “opposites attract” kind of story, yet it has the twist of the two opposites not being who others actually think they are. The characters and story are appealing, and I found myself wanting to read the next volume. I think Horimiya will appeal to manga readers who appreciate stories that focus on high school protagonists and potential love triangles. It’s interesting to note that this is apparently classified as a shonen manga series, which I wouldn’t have picked up on from the storytelling and the art. Yes, the art doesn’t evoke the typical shojo style, but from the story, I would have assumed it was shojo. But even though Horimiya is classified as shonen, it should still hold a lot of appeal to shojo readers.