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Manga in Minutes: Countdown 7 Days, Vols. 1 – 3

Welcome to another Manga in Minutes! Not a ton of news this week, but there were a few pieces out of Japan that caught my eye!

With that out of the way, it’s on to this week’s review of Countdown 7 Days, Vols. 1 – 3!

Countdown 7 Days, Vol. 1Countdown 7 Days, Vols. 1 – 3
by Kemuri Karakara
DMP/Emanga
Rating: Young Adult (16+)

Kemuri Karakara’s Countdown 7 Days tells a tale of two worlds. The world of the living and Sheol, the world of the dead. Oddly enough they’re not that different from each other and even the dead souls never stop learning. Enter Mitamura, a teacher at the Sheol academy for the departed. On a supervised field trip he looses a student and is forced to recruit the recently deceased Hanasuke to help him find her. From there the duo’s paths seem entwined and they quickly find themselves sucked into conspiracy that threatens the existence of both worlds!
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Manga in Minutes: Taimashin: The Red Spider Exorcist, Vol. 3

Welcome to this weeks Manga in Minutes! It’s back to the single review format, as I take a look at Taimashin: The Red Spider Exorcist, Vol. 3, but first, some news from this past week.

On to the review!

Taimashin: The Red Spider Exorcist, Vol. 3Taimashin: The Red Spider Exorcist, Vol. 3
Story by Hideyuki Kikuchi, Art by Shin Yong-Gwan
DMP, 200 pp
Rating: 16 +

Akamushi begins to investigate a family haunted by a demonic face that appears upon its members periodically. For payment, he claims the family’s daughter as his bride. That’s not where it gets weird though, towards the end Akamushi’s determination to protect his future bride sees him… battling bullies in high school. Hideyuki Kikuchi and Shin Yong-Gwan’s weird and wild horror series continues, with Taimashin: The Red Spider Exorcist, Vol. 3!
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Manga in Minutes: Takasugi-San’s Obento, Vol. 1

Anime Boston By The NumbersWelcome to the latest Manga in Minutes column! Before we just into the news and review I have a small programming note. This weekend I’ll be attending and covering Anime Boston, which means next Wednesday the usual news/review will be pre-empted for a con report instead. Speaking of Anime Boston, here’s a little info graphic showing the conventions growth over the past decade, along with a little information regarding their attendee demographics.

It’s been a slow news week, manga wise, so only two items this week.

On to this week’s review!

Takasugi-San's Obento, Vol. 1Takasugi-San’s Obento, Vol. 1
Created by Nozomi Yanahara
DMP, 194 pp
Rating: Young Adults (13+)

Nozomi Yanahara’s Takasugi-San’s Obenton, Vol. 1 the tale of an unemployed graduate student, Harumi. Unfortunately for Harumi, things are about to become even more difficult! After the death of his aunt Miya, Harumi finds himself as the sole guardian of Miya’s 12 year old daughter, Kururi. Now, as Harumi struggles to become a fully functional member of society, he now also finds himself attempting to raise and connect with the taciturn and introverted Kururi!
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Manga in Minutes: Brave 10, Vol. 1

Welcome to another Manga in Minutes! We’re kicking off this weeks column with some more licensing announcements, and a few releases dates as well.

Definitely a busy and exciting month for manga news! And without further ado, this week’s Manga in Minutes review…

Brave 10, Vol. 1Brave 10, Vol. 1
Created by Kairi Shimotsuki
DMP/Emanga, 194 pp
Rating: Young Adults (16+)

With her temple burned to the ground and being pursued by the mysterious attackers, young shrine maiden Isanami chances across the down on his luck ninja, Saizo Kirigakure. Tossed together by fate, the duo soon find themselves caught up in the machinations of the warlords of the period as they vie for control of the mysterious power Isanami wields. With little choice they end up seeking the aid of the legendary warlord, Yukimura Sanada! All this, ninja battles, a giant snake and more in Kairi Shimotsuki’s Brave 10, Vol. 1!
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Manga in Minutes: Taimashin: The Red Spider Exorcist, Vols. 1 + 2

Welcome to another Manga in Minutes! Before jumping into the weekly review, here are a few manga related news items from the past week that caught my attention.

Taimashin, Vol. 1Taimashin: The Red Spider Exorcist, Vols. 1 + 2
Story by Hideyuki Kikuchi, Art by Shin Yong-Gwan
DMP
Rating: 16 +

From Hideyuki Kikuchi, the mind behind Demon City Shinjuku and Vampire Hunter D comes Taimashin: The Red Spider Exorcist. Megumi is your typical office lady and she leads a fairly non-descript life, until one unfortunate night she finds herself the prey of an enigmatic, leather clad, inhuman, whip wielding woman by the name of Inran and her associates. Stumbling through the dark alleys of a popular Korean shopping distract, Megumi chances across the one person who can save her. Akamushi Fujiwara, the Red Spider Exorcist!
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Manga in Minutes: Erementar Gerade: Flag of the Bluesky, Vol. 1

Erementar Gerade: Flag of the Bluesky, Vol. 1Erementar Gerade: Flag of the Bluesky, Vols. 1
By Mayumi Azuma
DMP/Emanga, 184pp
Rating: Teen (13 +)

Mayumi Azuma returns to the world of Erementar Gerade in Erementar Gerade: Flag of the Bluesky, Vol. 1. Following an attack on the desert Kingdom of Fuajarl by Edel Garden, Princess Achea and a small group of survivors seek to reclaim the Kingdom from its usurpers and avenge her father’s death! Unbeknownst to Achea and her comrades however, Edel Garden’s forces are set to return to find what they were looking for in their initial attack upon her kingdom, her father’s Edel Raid, Jeen, who also happens to be one of the Seven Glittering Jewels, one of the most powerful Edel Raid’s in existence!
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Manga in Minutes: The Strange Tale of the Twilight Demon

The Strange Tale of the Twilight DemonThe Strange Tale of the Twilight Demon
Created by Midori Hagi
DMP/Emanga, 41pp
Rating: Young Adults (16 +)

The Strange Tale of the Twilight Demon is a very short story from creator Midori Hagi, which follows a boy named Imaru as he investigates the disappearance of a classmate and its connections to a strange urban legend. It’s my first exposure to the work of Midori Hagi and probably my last.
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Manga in Minutes: Erementar Gerade, Vols. 17 + 18

Erementar Gerade, Vol. 18Erementar Gerade, Vols. 17 + 18
By Mayumi Azuma
DMP
Rating: Teen (13 +)

After a long, hard road the conclusion to Mayumi Azuma’s Erementar Gerade is here. Cou and Rin have finally made it to Edel Garden, only to discover that it was far from the paradise it was rumored to be. Separated from the rest of their friends, Cou and Ren must do battle with some of the most powerful members of the mysterious Orga Night, while their friends… pretty much do the exact same thing. Surely all the questions will be answered in these final volumes!
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Manga in Minutes: Happy-Go-Lucky Days, Vols. 1 + 2

Happy Go Lucky Days, Vol. 1Happy-Go-Lucky Days, Vols. 1+ 2
by Takako Shimura
DMP/Emanga
Rating: Mature (18+)

Not having read anything from Takako Shimura before, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from Happy-Go-Lucky Days. What I found is a two volume anthology that’s a bit of a mixed bag. The series collects a number of short stories focusing on the relationships and sexual awakenings of a variety of different characters, ranging from a teacher who falls for his students, to coming of age tales, to ghost stories. While there’s no central plot holding the series together, most of the stories are thematically linked through their focus on relationships, and a couple of stories are even connected via familial ties.
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Manga in Minutes: Erementar Gerade, Vols. 15 + 16

Erementar Gerade, Vol. 16Erementar Gerade, Vols. 15 + 16
By Mayumi Azuma
DMP
Rating: Teen (13 +)

Cou and Ren finally arrive in Edel Garden, but what unfortunate secrets does the mysterious land hold, and what does it mean for the duo? With only four volumes remaining, Mayumi Azuma’s Erementary Gerade heads towards it conclusion with flashbacks to Ren’s past, unexpected reunions and more.
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Manga in Minutes: Erementar Gerade, Vol. 14

(Quick note before we get to the review! I recently recorded an episode of The Speakeasy podcast with The Reverse Thieves, about American comics for Manga fans. The episode is now up, so I thought I’d engage in shameless plugging. You can check it out here! – Ken)

Erementar Gerade, Vol. 14Erementar Gerade, Vol. 14
By Mayumi Azuma
DMP, 174pp
Rating: Teen (13 +)

Mayumi Azuma’s Erementar Gerade enters into it’s end game as Cou and Company crash just outside of their final destination, Edel Garden! Alas things are never easy for them, and they soon find themselves caught up in a battle with the mysterious sniper who’s been following them around, and the forces of Orga Night!
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Manga in Minutes: Erementar Gerade, Vols. 12 + 13

Erementar Gerade, vol. 13Erementar Gerade, Vols. 12 + 13
By Mayumi Azuma
DMP
Rating: Teen (13 +)

Misunderstandings and a return to the sky feature prominently in the 12th and 13th volumes of Mayumi Azuma’s Erementar Gerade! With Cou and company stuck in Nad Lezen, a tiered and gentrified city near Edel Garden, the only way out may require a raid on a nearby mining facility. Meanwhile Cou and Ren’s relationship threatens to break under the weight of a horrible misunderstanding, and a foe from their past!
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Manga in Minutes: Erementar Gerade, Vols. 10 + 11

Erementar Gerday, vol. 11Erementar Gerade, Vols. 10 + 11
By Mayumi Azuma
DMP
Rating: Teen (13 +)

Created by Mayumi Azuma, Erementar Gerade tells the tale of former sky pirate Cou, and his attempts to help a young woman named Ren get to a place known as Edel Garden. The twist? Ren’s a living weapon known as an Edel Raid, and an extremely powerful and rare one at that! With the help of their allies from Arc Ailie, a group dedicated to protecting Edel Raids, Cou must fend off numerous attempts from various groups and individuals to kidnap and use Ren’s powers for their own ends. The tenth and eleventh volumes of the series see the conclusion of a battle with one of those individuals and his harem of Edel Raids, and finally reveals the secret behind Ren’s desire to reach mysterious Edel Garden as well.
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Manga in Minutes: Unico

UnicoUnico
By Osamu Tezuka
DMP, 392 pp
Rating: Not Rated

The lastest book from DMP’s Kickstart projects is the adorable, all ages tale, Unico! Created by Osamu Tezuka. Unico tells the tale of an adorable little unicorn who incurs the ire of Venus, the Greek goddess of love. The jealous goddess banishes him, and has the North Wind carry him from time to time, and place to place.
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Manga In Minutes: Planet Ladder, Vol. 2

Planet Ladder, Vol. 2Planet Ladder, Vol. 2
By Yuri Narushima
DMP, 210 pp
Rating: Teen (13 +)

The story of Princess Kaguya continues in the second volume of Yuri Narushima’s Planet Ladder. Sent to another world and pursued by numerous groups and individuals, Kaguya stumbles across a castle inhabited by a young woman known as Bambi. While there, secrets will be revealed and more questions will be raised.

I wasn’t terribly keen on the first volume, but figured I’d give it a second try to see if it improves and begins to make any sense. Good news, it does begin to make a little sense. Bad news, it’s still not that good. Most of this volume is dedicated to a massive info dump courtesy of Bambi, who explains the nature of reality, the various alternate worlds and the political situations on each. She also unveils the reason everyone in creation is hunting down Kaguya, and it’s not good. Burdened with the horrific revelation of her existence Kaguya continues to do what she did last volume… nothing. She angsts, whines, and continues to be utterly helpless, naive and lacks any agency whatsoever. Kaguya is simply swept up in the events of the plot and floats along, continuing to be a rather bland and boring character in the process. The series feels incredibly plot heavy, with events happening because they need to happen rather than feeling like they’re happening because of decisions and choices the individual characters make. Due to this the characters seem incredibly flat, lacking in any notable character traits or personalities.

Yuri Narushima’s artwork has improved slightly from the debut volume. The visuals are still lifeless and bland, but at leas they’re not as horribly obscured by toning as they were in the first volume. Still, there’s not much in the way of visual flow, and a few sequences and transitions are just downright weird. The placement and use of word bubbles makes things worse, since they’re often simply floating on top of panels with little indication to who was speaking at the time. The fact that nearly everyone sounds exactly alike, lacking any real personality or distinctive voice doesn’t help this matter at all. There’s also a few instances where the narration is obscured by it’s placement on top of certain splotches of toning and the like, making them difficult to read.

This is the first time I’ve tried reading something on the new Emanga site, and I have to say that I kind of miss the old set up. There’s a strange loading time issue, and it lacks the ability to skip ahead to specific pages. I also deeply miss the ability to enlarge the page size to fit my screen, which added to my issues with reading the obscured bits of of narration mentioned above. It’s true that you can click on pages and view them with a magnification option, but that feels very awkward due in part to the reversed controls (ie. up is down, left is right, etc).

Overall, Planet Ladder is shaping up to a rather forgettable read. It was originally licensed by TokyoPop and it feels like one of the B or C level series they flooded the market with in their heyday. With bland characters and murky, listless artwork, Planet Ladder is a disappointing read.

Planet Ladder, Vol. 2 is available now from Emanga.com. Digital review copy provided by the publisher.

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