14 Jun, 2008

Manga Reviews: Reborn! Vol. 7, Hikaru No Go, Vol. 12

By: Erin F.

This month I’ve been catching up on reviewing later volumes of long-running series. Below are my reviews of the adequate Reborn! Vol. 7 and the fantastic Hikaru No Go Vol. 12.

Reborn, Vol. 7

By Akira Amano
Published by Viz
Rating: Older Teen

rebornv7.jpgI heavily mocked Reborn volume 1 in my 2006 review, but I was more of a greenhorn then, and I had not yet attended Comiket. At Fuyu Comic Market 2006 I realized Reborn is a force to be reckoned with. It is a Shonen Jump title with an attached anime property, therefore, it commands a huge army of fangirls who are all in love with Tsuna, the protagonist. I had assumed that Reborn was meant for junior high kids high on sugary breakfast cereal, but it’s actually meant for girls writing slash fan fiction.

I read volume seven on the heels of reading some really bad manga (In the End and Wild Ones vol. 2). Reading Reborn volume seven had me on my hands and knees kissing the ground and thanking god for Shonen Jump’s high production values. My god, Reborn has actual backgrounds and plots that make sense (insomuch as comedy plots make sense) and characters that easy on the eyes! Some of the jokes are actually funny.

Reborn volume seven consists of independent chapters featuring Japanese-summer-paint-by-numbers plots. The characters go to the pool, participate in the Tanabata festival (you might remember from Nana) and go on a ghost-hunting walk (kimodameshi, a popular Japanese summer pastime). A lot of manga do not handle summer story arcs very well, giving the impression that all Japanese people have the same summer experiences (or at least the fictional characters do). But Reborn manages to pull off the same set of summer chapters without being boring or feeling derivative.

The humor in Reborn grows gracefully from the characters. Tsuna’s friends try to teach him to swim, but due to character flaws, they are all terrible swim coaches. In a weaker manga, a pool plot would be nothing more than a weak excuse to see the characters’ bathing suits.

In the kimodameshi chapter, only Tsuna and Lambo agree to be scared, while the rest of the cast insist on dressing up like ghosts. Even though I’ve seen/read similar episodes elsewhere, Amano sets it up with good gags, nice character moments and solid artwork.

Reborn isn’t so awesome that I’m going to run out and buy volumes two through six, but I’m willing to give the series a second chance based on volume seven. It doesn’t set my life on fire like Yakitate!! Japan, but I was never bored reading it.

Volumes 1-7 of Reborn! are available now. Volume 8 will be available July 1st, 2008.

Hikaru No Go, Vol. 12

By Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata
Published by Viz
Rating: All Ages

HNGv12.jpgI have not kept up with the Hikaru No Go manga series, but the anime is very near and dear to my heart, ranking among my top ten favorite titles of all time. Unfortunately, the anime series release has been stalled in North America while Viz decides what format in which to continue it in (along with Prince of Tennis).

Since the manga follows the anime so closely I was able to pick up volume 12 without missing a beat. I am surprised at how engrossing the manga is. I was immediately drawn into the world of competitive Go - so much so I was worried I would miss my subway stop. The art (by Takeshi Obata of Death Note) and the storytelling (Yumi Hotta, thank got it’s not by Death Note writer Tsugumi Ooba!) is so solid that the book completely shuts out reality. Truly, that is a sign of great manga - possibly one of the best titles I have ever read. (Hikaru No Go won a Tezuka award in 2003.)

Before the manga series began publication in the U.S., I started watching the anime series as a joke. How could a series about a chess-like board game be interesting? But after episode four I was completely taken in and involved with the characters (I cannot say the same of mah-jongg anime Akagi). By the end of the series I was inspired to learn how to play Go, and I even started my own short-lived Go Club. After being walloped by three ten-year-old boys in the Hoboken Go tournament, I lost my interest in Go, but I still love Hikaru No Go, and this volume made me realize how much I need to go back and read the entire series.

Volume 12 takes place after the end of a major spoiler event in volume 11. The series is 23 volumes long, and volume 12 marks the beginning of foreshadowing of the events to come at the end. [Spoilers from here on out.] Hikaru lets Sai play a very exciting game, but how much longer can he keep Sai a secret now that Hikaru is a professional Go player? The later chapters of the book were adapted into filler-like episodes of the anime series, but HNG is so delightful to read these chapters don’t feel like filler at all, particularly in the manga. Instead, after the stress of Hikaru’s first professional match, the silly chapters are a welcome relief. Hikaru and Sai thwart a shady Go board dealer at a convention, and even though that sounds terribly lame, Hotta still manages to introduce a low-ranking professional who becomes an important character later. The overweight Kurata-sensei is a 6-dan, and he is worried about the “new wave” of young Go players like Hikaru.

Volumes 1-12 of Hikaru No Go are available now. Volume 13 will be available in October 2008.

Categories/Tags: Blogs, Manga Recon, Manga Reviews, Reviews,

5 Responses to "Manga Reviews: Reborn! Vol. 7, Hikaru No Go, Vol. 12"

1 | Chris A

June 14th, 2008 at 6:56 pm

Avatar

Agreed, HnG easily stands as one of the best series out there. Has Yumi Hotta done anything since Hikaru no Go?

2 | Khursten

June 16th, 2008 at 3:09 am

Avatar

Erin, I guess this experience has taught us never to underestimate anything with a first impression. :3 These two mangas are really hard to get by especially with their first impressions. A baby assasin. A ghost possesing you to play go. lol. They’re definitely major lulz, right?

I too was caught in the Reborn WTF beginnings, but it does grow on you and despite SJ’s knack for overextending arcs, this series just jumps back to prove to me over and over again that it’s worth reading. And yes, they’re the new fujoshi fodder after Prince of Tennis. But this is leaps and bounds better in terms of character development and story compared to Shaolin tennis *cough* Prince of Tennis. :3 Glad that you’re enjoying Reborn! and Hikago! :3

3 | Erin F.

June 19th, 2008 at 6:40 pm

Avatar

Oh no! I’m worried if Khursten is praising me… am I on the Otome Road to becoming a fujoshi!?

4 | Khursten

June 29th, 2008 at 9:30 pm

Avatar

… maybe yes… maybe no?

XDD

5 | Tama

September 12th, 2008 at 12:36 am

Avatar

what can i say, i really loved HNG, after 4 episodes i was completely hooked! lol

Comment Form

The Bruce Timm Gallery

  • Bruce Timm Gallery
  • Bruce Timm Gallery
  • Bruce Timm Gallery
  • Bruce Timm Gallery