lolita

Manga Review: Rozen Maiden by Peach-Pit

rozen2 Calling all goth-loli girls and Alice enthusiasts! Rozen Maiden is going to make you want to buy every single one of these volumes.

A boy named Jun, who has decided to no longer attend school, becomes addicted to mail ordering. He accidentally orders a doll who takes over his life. The doll then involves him in a game with her other doll sisters where the playfulness can lead to injury, missed bedtimes, and death.

In the first volume, the package arrives and the doll, Shinku, awakes. She starts ordering Jun around and commands that he swear to protect her. When he refuses, Shinku sends a butcher knife wielding, foaming-at-the-mouth teddy bear after him. Jun reluctantly agrees to her demands and she brings all of his action figures to life to kill the teddy bear. This opening scene tells you, you aren't reading any old manga... this one is going to be good!

Just when Jun gets used to having the irritating doll around, others start showing up. Jun’s sister, Nori, is no help as she adores the dolls and makes them all the little sweets and tea they want.

Even though they do tackle deeper issues such as depression and human frailty, there remains an element of little girl silliness to the story line. In volume three, a standoff ensues between the youngest doll and the other dolls. Their threat is cutting her off from the sweets!

“Listen up. We’ve secured the kitchen and fridge. If you ever want sweets again, you will give yourself up!”

This manga is more than a chaotic romp in a doll’s fantasy “Alice” game. It is a comment on teens who sequester themselves away from others in hopes to hide from ridicule from mean classmates. The message in these volumes is that if you go too far, your spirit and all your talents that make you special will be lost. While the authors seem to agree that there are some social situations that make us all want to cower in the attic, they also show us that we can’t let those haters keep our creative spirit down.

For you horror lolita’s, there are several freaky aspects I think you’ll enjoy. The first being Suihuintoh, the spooky doll sister who has black wings and tries to destroy the other dolls by terrorizing them in a mirror world called LaPlace.  In LaPlace resides a freaky rabbit in a tux and top hat. He is what they call the Demon of LaPlace and seems to be there more to confuse them than attack them.

Although Jun thinks the dolls have ruined his life, they really save it by making him face his fears and come out of hibernation. By the end of volume three, the story has changed to a serious nature when Suihuintoh kills one doll and takes a part of Shinku.  Jun risks his life to retrieve the part of Shinku and in the process learns more about his depression.

By the end of volume four, the creator has added another doll for comic relief. She speaks to a kitty cat about how she is going to infiltrate the house and begin killing dolls. It’s a throw back for me to those comics of Snoopy when he pretended to be in combat and snuck through the bushes to the enemy camp.  I think perhaps she was brought in for volume five in which Jun goes into a massive depression and the book is rather dismal if you don’t count the breaks they take to bring in the silly doll on a quest.

Spookiness (and Jun) return in volume six when an new doll is discovered. She has to be the scariest doll yet, wearing all white with a rose and thorny vines growing out of her right eye.

Over all this manga is very entertaining, but perhaps has a more dismal storyline than others I’ve read. The ups and downs in this plot might make you more emotional that you would think. The art is detailed and beautiful. As for extras, there aren't many.  Volume three has a few interesting collaboration comics with the mangas Zombie Loan and DearS. Volume four contains a cute comic on how the manga is made.

If you'd like to check these manga's out, they are available at: Amazon.com

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