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I liked this one. Pokemon manga has always had the slight weakness that the excitement of the battles could never match that in the videogames or the anime. The strength of the manga really relies on if you like the characters and stories going on. The first volume of Pokemon: Black and White realizes this, and although there is some Pokemon fighting (which is just as good as any fights depicted in other Pokemon manga), the first volume concentrates more on the characters and their backgrounds, giving us a much stronger entry into the world of Pokemon than previous comics. The story, of course inspired by this year’s best-selling video games Pokemon: Black and Pokemon: White for the Nintendo DS, tells the tale of Black, a young boy who lives in the Unova region. He comes of that certain age in Pokemon tales where he sets off on a quest to become the greatest Pokemon trainer while filling a pokedex for Professor Juniper, with the starter Pokemon Tepig (an adorable fire-type pig Pokemon) and a few others.
The manga first starts out letting us get to know the three starter Pokemon that are given away and Professor Juniper. We are then introduced to our main cast with Black being our main guy. The writers this time around gave Black the interesting problem of his head being so full of dreams and hopes that to concentrate on his battle, Black’s Munna has to sit on his head to clear it (Munna is a Pokemon that eats dreams). This odd problem, aside from providing us with some “what the?!?!” visuals, helps the character stand out from previous leads (like Ash of the original Pokemon stories) and gives the story a slightly different feel compared to other tales, as well.
The writing was good; as mentioned, they concentrate more on the characters thus far in this one, which will help appeal to some older readers. The art by Yamamoto is great and has a great lock on capturing the emotions of the numerous Pokemon that battle across the pages. The first volume is also a good starting point for new comers to the series, as it’s a brand new story and cast and no previous knowledge of Pokemon is needed to enjoy and get into this. The first volume of Pokemon: Black and White is out now.
This title can best be described as one part Hairy Potter mixed with one part The Bugaloos, and that is an enjoyable mix indeed. The first issue of Baneberry Creek Academy for Wayward Fairies tells the story of Iris, a fairy who doesn’t seem to have the ability to fly, who is shipped off by her parent to Baneberry Creek Academy, a place where fairies who seem to go off the traditional fairy track get sent. After being saved from some nasty punk rock fairies by another fairy named Gloss, Iris and Gloss both go to Baneberry Creek for their first day of enrollment. After they look around the school grounds, Iris meets her other two roommates, Sierra and Link. Iris quickly learns that they have heart and understanding, and all four of these fairies are here for reasons their parents didn’t like, but honestly aren’t very good or caring reasons (well, from a human point of view; maybe it’d be different if I was a fairy). However, in the shadows a villain is watching over them, and it seems she may have arranged the four of them to room together for a certain reason.
C.W. Cooke creates a great introductory story to these characters here with a handful of great story moments. Although there is a lot of set-up, it gives us everything we need for the adventure to take place the next few issues. Leon does great landscapes and backgrounds. I wasn’t a fan of his character designs, however, that doesn’t mean you won’t be, and you shouldn’t write off picking up the book just because I’m not a fan of his artwork.
Overall I think Baneberry Creek Academy for Wayward Fairies has a lot of promise, and now that the good set-up is out, the issues can just keep getting better. Fans of Betty and Veronica, Harry Potter, and more can find a lot of appeal in this book, and if you like those you should give this a peek.
I don’t know anything about the book series Percy Jackson which this is a parody of, but I do know I laughed a lot and enjoyed very muchly so this odd graphic novel. With the humor of The Garbage Pail Kids’ trading cards and the swagger of an indie comic, Percy Jerkson is a hysterical little book, and if the ridiculous title didn’t give it away, it’s a lot of demented fun. The plot follows Percy Jerkson, bully turned hero who wields a spork he received as a young child, along with with his buds Rover and Bananabreath, as he fights against the evil McKronos and his army of oddities (all based off food).
This book is 65 pages of ridiculousness, and that’s a good thing. Petrucha’s sense of humor is great, a little dark and off-beat at times, but as I mentioned, it’ll appeal to fans of such things as The Garbage Pail Kids and Invader Zim. It works excellently both as a parody (as I’m told by a friend who has read the Percy Jackson books), and as its own thing (says me, who as mentioned never read a Percy Jackson book). The thing I love-love-love-love the most about this is Rick Parker’s artwork. His pictures are cartoon perfect yet edgy. McKronos, his Ronald McDonald parody on crack, is bizarre and nightmare induced. The other food brought-to-life characters he draws are soooooooooooooo weird I couldn’t look away. Petrucha and Parker put together makes the perfect team, and when a living empanada suddenly appears, I laughed over and over for minutes. The combination of humor and art really make this title.
So basically, the long short I’m getting at here is this parody is fun for everyone, regardless of if you know the source material, and for the price you can’t go wrong, so check it out.
So a while back we checked out Hayao Miyazaki’s first film Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, so I thought, “Hey, let’s check out his son Goro’s first film now that it’s available in North America!” Tales From Earthsea, based loosely off the novels by Ursula K. Le Guin, has been a film loved by some and bashed by others. To keep the plot brief, the film tells the tale of young Arren, who accompanies the great wizard Sparrowhawk as he tries to find himself. His destiny seems entwined with a young girl named Therru and a land ruled by an evil wizard named Cob, who seems to have an old score to settle with Sparrowhawk. So how did the film rank with this reviewer? I think, to put it best, Tales From Earthsea is a good anime film, but NOT a good Studio Ghibli flick. There was nothing wrong with the film. Visually it’s great and the score is beautiful. The plot is entertaining and has a good balance of action and story, so in the end it’s an entertaining movie to watch.
The difference between this and other Studio Ghibli flicks is that we don’t feel as connected to the heart of the characters. The beautiful moments just aren’t there enough, and Arren’s journey of finding himself I just don’t care about; he’s not a likeable enough character, and I didn’t care if he lived or died. Goro Miyazaki must have it tough to live in the shadow of his father, who is the greatest living animation director since Walt Disney; it is simply that his directorial debut here isn’t bad, it’s just not in the caliber the films the elder Miyazaki or Isao Takahata have churned out from that studio. The English dub cast, if you don’t do subtitles, is solid, with former James Bond Timothy Dalton as Sparrowhawk, and Willem Dafoe as evil wizard Cob, with great syncing and solid delivery. Your something to watch this weekend is Tales From Earthsea.
That’s it for this week! See you next! Sending you kaiju-love from Rome!
A copy of Pokemon: Black and White volume 1 was provided by Viz Media.