death note

Manga Gift Ideas For The Whole Family!

Why can’t Grandpa or Aunt Suzi enjoy manga? Well, because you haven’t found the right thing for them to read yet. Now manga can be for the whole family. Check out these titles for manga holiday gift ideas. Not only will it open up the old geezers to a fun new way to enjoy stories, but it will bridge the generational gaps and give you something to talk about at those long family gatherings coming up.

emmZFor grandma:

EMMA tells the story of a young Victorian maid and her forbidden love. If grandma likes Austen, Eliot, or Dickens, she’ll love this.

For grandpa:

THE MANGA BIBLE is an adaptation of the Christian holy book. If grandpa says he never reads anything but the bible, this is the perfect gift!

For mom:

THE MANGA COOKBOOK Filled with all those cute little meals you see in your mangas. Even if mom doesn’t read your books, maybe she can take pride in making fun foods and learning about Japanese culture.wolv

For dad:

Try one of the WOLVERINE mangas. These have been getting mixed reviews. Not all comic lovers can switch over, but what a better time to broaden dad’s horizons than the Holidays?

For older brother:

50 MANGA BABES TO DRAW AND PAINT Whether he is an artist or just likes to sit in his room a lot playing his X-box, this book has what most teen boys like. Mix up comics, computer games, and beautiful bodies, you’ll be his best friend at least through the holiday feast.

animaFor vampire-loving sister:

VAMPIRE KNIGHT This tale explores what would happen if vampires and mortals had to attend the same school. Though the vampires go at night and the mortals at day, what is unknown and mysterious draws the students together.

For your Yaoi fans:

ANIMA is the best Yaoi I’ve read to date (review coming soon). Take a male to male love story, sprinkle in some Steampunk and a bit of robotics? This Yaoi is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Warning: This book does have explicit adult content, please don’t buy it for granny.

bsiFor your bratty pre-teen nephew:

BSI: Muhyo & Roji's Bureau of Supernatural Investigation- This is a great starter for any pre-teen who likes ghosts, but the bratty little investigator in this book will especially appeal to your irritating, know-it-all nephew! Not that any of us know anyone like that.

For your cool college-age sister who’s kind of a hippie:

THE TAROT CAFÉ A cute, eclectic coffee shop owner reads Tarot cards for her supernatural guests. Emerian's Tarot Café review.

rozenFor your best friend who’s a Goth-Loli gal:

ROZEN MAIDEN A guy orders a doll online and she comes to life. The doll then involves him in a game with her other doll sisters where the playfulness can lead to injury, missing bedtimes, and death.

For that co-worker who loves Jane Austen men:

GODCHILD An English gentleman, heir to the Hargraves fortune, is the most eligible bachelor in town. What the public does not see is that solves murders and is a poison specialist. Many volumes to this and the best part is if they get hooked, you have another series THE CAIN SAGA to buy next year! Emerian's Godchild review.

For your friend who’s still a rocker at heart:

PRINCESS AI A rock star named Ai is searches for her true origin in this music-infused tale. Emerian’s Princess Ai review.

For anyone that likes smart writing:

DEATH NOTE A magical notebook will cause the death of anyone who is written in it. Light, a student aggravated with the justice system, uses the notebook to attempt to bring criminal activity to an end. The storyline in this manga is the best thought-out, most intricate plot you will read in manga format. Emerian’s Death Note Review.

Perhaps you are looking for a gift your horror manga-lover hasn’t seen yet? Try:

Bloody Kiss 2 ( Nov 2009) Pet Shop Of Horrors: Tokyo 6 (Nov. 2009) Chibi Vampire 14 (Oct 2009) Vampire Kisses (Sept 2009)

If your manga-lover is past the lover stage and into the… “Hey, I think I could make my own manga!” stage, check out these new manga-drawing instruction books: Drawing Manga Animals, Chibis, and Other Adorable Creatures (Nov. 2009) Shojo Fashion Manga Art School: How to Draw Cool Looks and Characters (Nov. 2009)

How To Choose A Manga

There are so many manga out, you may be asking, “How can I choose the manga that is right for me?” First you need to know what part of the manga you enjoy most. Do you love goth-loli art? A good story? Something with horror in it? It’s rare to find all these things in one manga series. Believe me, I’ve tried!

Some of you may rely on reviews such as this one to lead your way, but for those of you who are trying to create your own manga hunting style, here are some tips.

Know what you like

I look for good art first, story second.

Seems kind of weird for someone to say that about a book, but  unlike fiction books, mangas need to capture your eyes as well as your mind.

Good manga authors are a skilled, rare breed that can somehow create a tale and put it down in art in such a delicate fashion, you hardly realize you are reading what is basically a cartoon.  What good is a tale in a manga book without interesting art? They might as well have written a novel, let the publisher worry about the cover art, and stick to word writin’!

Know what you don't like

I am emphatically against talking animals in manga. I hate them. Bats and spiders are sometimes ok, but bunnies and doggies and 300-year-old kitties reincarnated from a once great vampire god? Don’t get me started! However, my best friend adores animals talking and absolutely loves the manga (that shall remain nameless) with the vampire kitty. My point?

Know your tastes and just because your best friend urges you to buy her favorite manga because it has vampires in it, don’t automatically assume you will in enjoy it.  There may be a wisecrackin' bunny hidden in the pages, and we all know what that leads to!

Hone your skills

Here are some tips on how to narrow the competition down.

  1. Go to a store with a large manga selection.  This shouldn’t be too hard as it seems manga is the only hot selling item in bookstores these days.
  2. Stand back from the manga shelves and scan.  If any cover draws your notice from a few yards back, it’s worth a look.
  3. Check out the front cover in full. Are you a chibi lover, or do you enjoy killer cyborgs with little chibi interference? Make sure the cover speaks to your taste. If you see one character you don’t like, put it in the maybe pile. There is a good chance that character is going to be throughout the book and will irritate you every time you turn the page and see them.
  4. Once you have narrowed down a few of the great covers, glance over the description on the back. Don’t put too much stock in the description because they don’t usually relate very closely to the tale. I’ve found that often manga covers seem to be written about the whole series and not about the one volume you are purchasing. As long as there are no talking vampire kitties, you are safe to go on.
  5. Flip through the book and check out the art. Is the detail inside as good as the cover art? Is it appealing to you? Is the printing bad, or is it crisp and clean? Do you stop every so often to let a “wow” or a “ooooohhhh” slip from your lips? If you realize it’s a steampunk fantasy once you get inside and you don’t like that sort of tale, please don’t buy it just because you like the cover. You will be disappointed.
  6. Finally, the tale. Read at least the first four pages to make sure you like the story. Does the character cuss like a twelve-year-old boy trying to show off to his mates? Does the dialog not flow? Is there some sort of back story you just don’t like? Don’t buy it. It will not get better. Unfortunately, in some stores (especially in Japantown) they seal the books. In this case, you either take your chances, or get smart and browse them online first. Sites like Amazon and Toykopop allow you to read the first couple of pages before you buy.

I tell you all these things because, like you, I once was a manga investigator trainee. I still get caught buying a stinker once in awhile. It’s all about:

  • Knowing what you want
  • Believing in your first instinct and
  • Sticking to it, no matter how much the commerce bug has got you itching!

For those of you who still can’t decide, I’ve made a list of my top five series. Check out the reviews, see if you might like them, and then put on your manga p.i. hat and get shopping!

  1. God Child by Kaori Yuki
  2. The Tarot Café by Sang Sung Park
  3. Princess Ai by Courtney Love and DJ Milky
  4. Death Note by Tsugumi Oba
  5. Millennium Snow by Bisco Hatori

DVD Releases: June 23, 2009

Out this week we have two DVDs to feature:  Death Note: Re-Light, Inkheart.inkheart.jpg

  • Death Note: Re-Light, Vol. 1 - Visions of a God:  a redux of the Death Note anime series giving a different take on familiar events.
  • Inkheart:  I haven't watched this one yet but it's a renter for me... Based on a German Novel called Inkheart.  When Mo reads aloud from books, he has the ability to make the characters come out of the book, into real life. Mo discovered his power when his daughter Meggie, was just a baby. Mo read aloud from the book Inkheart, which caused several of the book’s wicked characters, including Capricorn, to literally come to life. But while he read them out of the book, he accidentally read Meggie’s mother, Teresa into the story. For more check out Theater or Renter: January 2009.

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Death Note Mania

dn1I officially have Death Note mania.  I've just watched Death Note and Death Note Movie II: The Last Name live  action movies.  These are two of the best Japanese made movies I have ever seen.  I am so in love with these films that I am recommending them to non-anime/manga fans as well, because they can stand on their own as great cinema.  For those of you who haven't given in to Death Note mania yet, let me fill you in on a little background information. The story of Death Note is an intoxicating one.  What if you had the power to kill criminals who somehow went free after committing horrible crimes?  You could kill murderers who laughed at surviving family members as they cried that their loved ones had not been avenged.  You could kill any criminal, even if the police couldn't find them, as long as you had a picture and their name.  But where would you draw the line?  What would the constant killing do to you and your soul?  Death Note centers around Light Yagami, a brilliant student who stumbles across a notebook lost by a spirit of death.  This notebook enables the owner to cause death to any human as long as he can picture their face and write down their correct name.  What starts as a vigilante experiment for Light, becomes an obsession which gains him acclaim as the hero Kira.  Japan goes crazy.  dn4 Some people think Kira is a god, while some see him as the devil.  Soon, the famous detective known simply as "L" is called in to investigate.  You goth-lolita fans will love the character Misa Misa.  She comes into the story in manga book 4 as a blonde, punk-style lolita.  In the live action movies, she is Japanese, but still embodies the cute lolita style, just toned down a bit.

Death Note was created by writer Tsugumi Oba and illustrator Takeshi Obata.  It first appeared in 2003 in the form of a serialized manga comic in Weekly Sho-nen Jump magazine.  The series was then adapted into live action films released in Japan starting June 2006.  An anime version, a novel by Nisio Isin, and a video game followed.  Death Note has been optioned for a film produced by Hollywood, but I can't seen them making this flick better.

ryukSince it's release, Death Note fans have grown in the millions.  It's become so popular that there have been many cop-cat crimes overseas and in the US.  Students in US schools have been suspended for possessing self-made death notebooks with names of their teachers and classmates inside.  In early 2005, Death Note was banned in the capital of China to, according to Beijing media, "protect the physical and mental health of it's youngsters".

The live action films are so right on the manga, any fan is instantly floored at the detail.  From the attitude of Light, to the eccentricities of "L", the director of this film nailed it at every turn.  The shinigami, or spirit of the dead, is excellent animation and spooks me to the core.  I've always found the shinigmi, whether in the mangas or in the live action version, to be the type of creature that can make you laugh or scream.  His simple nature and love of apples make me view him as a huge skeleton-shaped stuffed animal.  But when he begins to laugh and fly up with those horrifying wings, I want to hide under the covers!  dn2

These movies do have some differences in them from the comics, but they are explained well.  Although the second movie is not as good as the first, they make a nice pair.  Unlike the Harry Potter movies, these films seem to flow right into each other as if no time has passed.  You can buy these two excellent movies at a really good price right now on Amazon.com.  A plus is that they are English dubbed, so you don't have to read subtitles unless you want to.  The subtitles do not match the dubbing, so if you are hard of hearing, I suggest turning it up louder rather than using the assistance of the close captions.  I will be looking for an English dubbed version of the third movie, L: Change The World, but to warn you, the reviews are less than favorable.

The real concept of this tale leaves questions we can all ask ourselves.  When you get so obsessed with righting wrongs, where do you draw the line?  How do you know when to quit before innocents are hurt?  And if a mortal man was given the power to kill, even in the name of justice, how long would he stay good?

You can buy all these Death Note goodies here at Amazon.com You can also buy all of the mangas here at amazon.com

Watch Death Note series streaming live online here

DVD Releases: February 10th, 2009

Friday_13_series2This weeks DVD releases brings us seven progressive speculative fiction movies and TV shows:  Afro Samurai: Resurrection, Death Note Movie II: The Last Name, Kiss: Resurrection, Tales from the Darkside: The First Season, Friday the 13th - The Series - Season Two, Dragon Ball Z: Season Eight (Babidi & Majin Buu Sagas), and Against the Dark.

  • Afro Samurai: Resurrection:  The second season is out for this action-packed animated series.  I’m very curious to try this out and have heard great things about the series.   Samuel L. Jackson returns as the voice of the tortured titular character who learns that the body of his father has been stolen from its grave.  Afro and his sidekick, Ninja Ninja (also voiced by Jackson), set off a bloody trek through futuristic Japan to exact revenge.  Inspired by the work of manga artist Takashi Okazaki.
  • Death Note Movie II: The Last Name:  The second live action movie based on the anime series which is based on the manga.  For more on the anime series and to watch it streaming online read: Death Note: Streaming Online Anime.  For more on the manga read: Review: Death Note.  In this live-action sequel to Death Note, the battle of wits between enigmatic detective "L" (Ken'ichi Matsuyama) and teenage vigilante Light (Tatsuya Fujiwara) escalates as Light infiltrates L's inner circle of investigators to divert suspicion away from himself. Meanwhile, popular television host Misa (Erika Toda) finds a second Death Note notebook and uses it to become Light's deadly disciple.
  • Kiss: Resurrection:  This was a really good concert and worth Netflix, Inc.checking out as a renter.   After ditching their makeup and costumes in the 1980s, rock band Kiss reformed in '96 with their classic look and style. Through this documentary's behind-the-scenes footage and candid interviews, explore this exciting period in the band's history. All four of the original members, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, return for this amazing reunion and show the world they still rock.
  • Tales from the Darkside: The First Season:  This series was a pseudo knock off of Tales from the Crypt, that said this was an entertaining series and fun to watch.  I would highly recommend renting it.  A macabre anthology series features adapted stories by Stephen King, Clive Barker and other horror writers with eerie tales about a levitating boy, an endlessly ringing phone, an undead grandpa, a vengeful genie and a bookie whose life depends on a bet populate.
  • Friday the 13th - The Series - Season Two:  This is a great show really enjoyed watching it and recommend renting it.  A supernatural mystery series where Johnny Ventura teams with Micki and Ryan in their endless quest to track down the cursed relics of Lewis Andredi, who forged an unholy alliance with Satan. Joined by ex-magician Jack Marshak, the gang pursues -- among other things -- a voodoo mask, John Wilkes Booth's makeup case, vampire bees and a hexed camera.
  • Dragon_Ball_Z_8Dragon Ball Z: Season Eight (Babidi & Majin Buu Sagas):  This is a crazy series that grows on you, for fans they already know this one is an owner, for non fans do yourself a favor and start at the beginning, rent it wait a while and you too will get sucked into this series.  Dragon Ball Z is great fun with copious amounts of super smashing action and humor.  This season contains the Babidi and Majin Buu sagas… lol like any one can “contain” Majin Buu.  Supreme Kai comes to Earth to help the Z fighters thwart villainous Babidi's evil plan to revive the monstrous Buu. As the epic battle unfolds, Goku, Gohan and the others must face the underworld ruler Dabura, and Vegeta makes the ultimate sacrifice to break free of Babidi's mind-controlling influence.
  • Against the Dark:  This movie sounds so craptastic that if I were sitting on the couch flipping channels I would have to stop and watch this suspected train wreck of a movie… Let me set the stage bloodthirsty vampires wreaking havoc and our only savior Steven Seagal… ROFL.  On a slightly more serious side if you have seen this let me know how it was.

Netflix, Inc.Netflix lets you rent, watch and return DVDs from home - Try free for 2 weeks

Death Note: Streaming Online Anime

death_note_5 Are you looking for some anime to watch? Bob The Elementalist asks

I love anime but I don't know what I should watch. does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks to Emerian Rich for recommending Death Note!

Death Note is streaming online here on Hulu.

death_note_4 The entire first season is up with all 37 episodes in a non-dubbed format.  Death Note is about Light Yagami an ace student with great prospects but he's bored out of his mind. All that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal...or his life?

Netflix, Inc.For our Netflix users Death Note is available there.  They have the entire first season, all 9 discs!  Plus both live action movies

Read Emerian’s Review of Death Note Manga here

Get your copy:

Thanks for the recommendations!  Do you have any more recommendations or questions for anime to watch?  Please share them with us, would love to know.

Review: Death Note

Death Note is an intelligent tale about a Japanese student, Light, who finds a notebook dropped by a shinigami (demon). According to the rules, whoever holds the notebook is given the power to cause the death of anyone who is written in it as long as he/she can picture the face of the victim. If circumstances are not written in the book, the victim will simply pass away from a heart attack. If the circumstances of the death are written in, the victim will die exactly how it is written. Just like all magical tools of the underworld, Light learns to be careful what he wishes for. When Light writes his first circumstances in, he is not specific enough and causes injury to innocents involved in the accident. Things get tricky when special agent “L” is assigned to figure out who is mysteriously killing criminals. How is the culprit sneaking into jail cells without detection? Is someone drugging the criminal’s food?

Light, who starts as a superhero trying to rid the world of the worst criminals in jail, begins to turn evil as he kills people who may find him out and begins calling himself by the name “Kira” who is some kind of savior in the minds of Japanese citizens. It appears, though I haven’t read the other volumes yet, that the book is slowly eating away at his soul. Perhaps it’s the act of killing that is destroying his good nature or maybe the power of killing is turning him into a monster. Whatever the cause, Light—or Kira, allows the lines of justice to be blurred when he feels he may be found out.

His conversations with the shinigami, the demon who lost the death note, are entertaining. The demon in this story pretty much sits back and watches the destruction caused to this noble teen by his greed for justice. The shinigami’s explanation of hell and how the demons are all bored of using the Death Note is interesting.

I found this manga appealing and though the art is not traditional Goth-Lolita with the big dresses and curls, I found it beautiful nonetheless. The shinigami’s and their world are done in intricate drawings opposed to the straight lines of the human world. Excellent concept and I look forward to reading the other volumes that are out.

I’ve just recently heard of a Death Note movie. I haven’t been able to find too much about it except that there were two Death Note movies released in 2006 in Japan. The posters for these films are very exciting. Per Wikipedia, North American release for Death Note: The Last Name is slated for release in American theaters for two nights only, October 15th and 16th, 2008. A DVD release will soon follow. I also saw at imdb.com a Death Note movie quoting a release date of 2010. Perhaps an american remake?

Get your copy of the Manga here

For more information on the Death Note manga, anime, and live action movie, visit these sites:

Official Death Note Website http://deathnote.viz.com/

Death Note Movie at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_Note_(film)

Death Note Anime TV http://www.deathnote.tv/

Death Note Movie Trailer (In Japanese) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpnX9GEh4VM

Death Note 2: The Last Name Trailer (with English subtitles) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwcLh94laeo