Otaku #07: Devil May Cry 3 Vol. 1

Devil May Cry 3 manga a great start for Dante

Brandon Beatty, contributing editor

In this issue’s Otaku Corner, I’m taking a look at manga based on popular video games. One of these manga is based on the third installment of Capcom’s best-selling game “Devil May Cry,” which allows DMC fans, for the first time, to experience the fast-paced action of the game series in graphic novel format in English thanks to the good people of Tokyo Pop Inc.

In the first volume of DMC3, everybody’s favorite demon slayer/bounty hunter Dante is unemployed and bored until his trusty manager Enzo sets him up with a missing person case with a reward of $4 million. All is not as it seems as Dante not only takes the job, but also faces a surprise attack by unknown demons that leads our hero on an adventure beyond his wildest imagination.

When I read the first edition of “DMC 3” from start to finish, I felt that I was on a nonstop thrill ride from the opening page to the last. Author Suguro Chayamachi did not take the

Devil May Cry 3 Vol. 1 / photo courtesy of Amazon

DMC3 saga lightly and perfectly mixed great art and story plot with the elements of a high-octane game. All of Dante’s swagger and cool gun/swordsmanship came intact as he flows through each page proving that he is worthy to be among the greatest video game characters of all time.

Tokyo Pop deserves a ton of the credit as translator Ray Yoshimoto and English adaptation writer Aaron Sparrow fluently brought DMC 3 to life without a hitch. Truly, Capcom did try a new method of bringing a popular franchise to fans without the usual hitches that most companies experience. Overall, I find DMC3 Volume 1 worth re-reading, guaranteeing absolute satisfaction.

Devil May Cry 3 Volume 1 is a perfect addition to any DMC’s fan collection. Dante retains the skills that make him the living nightmare for all demons and succeeds in his first travel though manga format thanks to creative collaboration between Capcom and Tokyo Pop.

This is a bold and trailblazing move for video game developers to make on their franchise knowing the risks. Keep reading Otaku Corner for more reviews of this series as we give gaming’s elite demon slayer five-star treatment in the world of Japanese comic art.

Brandon Beatty is contributing editor of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku #06: Robotech

Mech drama in space brings back memories

Brandon Beatty, contributing editor

I decided to follow in my GI comrades’ footsteps and begin a new segment where I review animated properties, but with a little anime flavor. While I will continue to review great manga that reaches our shores, I hope that all of you will like this new addition to Otaku. For now, I give a big hearty welcome to Otaku Corner Theater where the motto is “reviewing great anime for, by, and worthy of the otaku.” (patent pending).

To celebrate OCT’s grand opening, I’m starting off with a legendary anime series that is undisputedly considered not only as essential to an otaku’s collection, but also a required piece to introduce those who are new to the wonderful world of anime. This series has not only launched the careers of well-known voice acting veterans in the anime industry, but also is well known among sci-fi anime series such as “Starblazers” and “Mobile Suit Gundam.” It’s none other than “Robotech” from ADV films.

For those who are unfamiliar with this series, a bit of background information is in order. “Robotech” is an 85-episode series produced in the 1980s by Harmony Gold USA and Tasunoko Productions, also known for Karas, G-Force, Tasunoko All-Stars vs. Capcom.

Consisting of a rich story that spans three generations, “Robotech” has mankind engaged in battle with alien space forces for control of the “Protoculture,” a mysterious and powerful energy source. The first chapter of the series focuses on the “Macross Saga,” in which Earth, recovering from a brutal global civil war finds in its possession a highly advanced warship called the SDF-I, sent from space. Upon finding the SDF-I, humanity must defend its self from the Zentradi, a warlike race whose main goal to reclaim said ship by using SDF-I’s advanced technology. In addition to this great space opera, you are introduced to the exploits of amateur pilot Rick Hunter and his mentor Roy Fokker as they and the rest of the SDF-I’s human crew battle the Zentradi through space to protect the restored battleship, but also its innocent inhabitants and Earth itself.

As an anime fan growing up in the ’80s, “Robotech” met my needs for any great space-based anime. It had heroic characters and cunning villains, and it was the first, in my opinion, to boldly fuse concept designs of vehicles and mecha. For instance, the SDF-I and Veritech fighter jets took on actual designs of a naval carrier and its fighter jets and combined them with the designs of a fighting mecha, resulting in futuristic war machines of which my favorite hero Juggie would give his “custom made” seal of approval. The Zentradi’s ship design, also impressive despite their cucumber-shaped look, displays incredible speed and firepower that is also reflected through their “battle pods” design, which consists of a cross between a metal ostrich and a gattling gun.

While ADV and Harmony Gold did do a outstanding job in remastering this series, they do deserve credit for retaining renowned voice actors. Tony Oliver and Dan Woren to reprise their original roles as Rick and Roy, respectively. I also give ADV and Harmony Gold credit for not only keeping the storyline intact, but also keeping the original music and sound effects refreshed using Dolby Digital. There’s also unseen bonus footage, ensuring that “Robotech” stands the test of time as an anime series. This means a lot to me because during my first time viewing Robotech when it was released on VHS, the tape cut off mid-play, leaving me with unanswered questions about the SDF-I and how Earth played a critical part in regard to Protoculture. However, watching Robotech Vol. 1 got me caught up, and I give ADV and Harmony Gold my highest praise for doing so. Although the “Shadow Chronicles” saga has revived “Robotech” for a new generation of otaku, the original will show its viewers how the saga started and, without fail, show the brilliance of a world-renowned animation studio.

If you would like more info on Robotech, visit the official website at www.robotech.com.

Brandon Beatty is the contributing editor of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku #05: Death Note Vol. 3

‘Death Note Volume 3’ adds faces, intrigue to Light’s saga

Brandon Beatty, contributing editor

This quarter in the Otaku corner, I’m continuing the review of the biggest battle of good versus evil ever seen in Japanese animation in Volume 3 of “Death Note.”

A word of advice: Buckle your seat belts because new players arrive on the scene to shake things up and  set the foundation for more intense battles in the manga’s future.

A small recap: “Death Note” is the tale of Light Yagami, an ace high school student with great prospects who is completely bored with his life. That changes when he finds the “death note,” a notebook with the power to kill anyone whose name is written in it. Light, using the name Kira, vows to use the death note to rid the world of crime, resulting in criminals dropping dead. This leaves authorities no choice but to send in world-renowned detective L to solve the case.

photo courtesy of Amazon.com

In volume 3, Light has discovered that L has placed 64 surveillance cameras and microphones in his home. Once again, however,  Light/Kira manages to evade capture: He uses a bag of barbecue potato chips with a miniature TV inside and acts as though he is preparing for college entry exams as Ryuk, original owner of the death note and companion to Light, searches for the cameras and microphones. L, not completely fooled by Light’s tactics, decides to up the ante by enrolling at the same university that Light is attending using the name of Hideki Ryuga.

The mind games are temporarily stopped when Light’s father is sent to the hospital with the speculation that Kira caused his heart attack. At this point in the story, I consider both the mind games and Soichiro Yagami’s heart attack to be a filler break , leading readers to an action-packed stand off that results in the arrival of a “new” Kira as the femme fatale who, unknowingly to  Light and L, will have a major impact in upcoming chapters.

Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata continue to keep the perfect fusion of paranormal action and mystery through precise writing and energetic art in “Death Note,” refraining from the use of fan service elements usually found in anime and manga. While reading Death Note, you will be challenged to think more about their personal morals while at the same time evolving their appreciation for innovative storylines.

We’ll get further along with more Death Note action in future editions of Otaku, so keep an eye out for more commentary and analysis on the tale of Light, L and Ryuk. By the way if you rooting for “Team Light,” be like Kira and support your local shinigami by buying them apples. They’ll thank you for it.

Brandon Beatty is contributing editor for Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by e-mail at gicomics@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku #04: The All-New Tenchi Muyo

Tenchi Muyo’s habit of chasing love comes back in new manga

Brandon Beatty, contributing editor

I’m dusting off a legendary anime throwback. Doing this brings back memories of Cartoon Network’s hit show Toonami, which brought its viewers the best action shows around. Of course, great anime helped complement Toonami, along with its host Tom the Robot and the baddest ride around, the starship Absolution. However, one of its anime shows had a guy who was not only the standard of what heroes should be, but he was also popular with women from outer space. Yes, otaku, I’m talking about Tenchi Masaki, and he and his friends are back in volume one of The All New Tenchi Muyo published by Viz Media.

The All New Tenchi Muyo is part of the original Tenchi Muyo storyline from which the series itself spans and contains movies, TV series and spin-offs. It is considered among the greatest anime series of all time. The entire main

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

cast is back in this series, starring in several adventures in the first volume, which is subtitled Alien Nation. Each of Tenchi’s lovely lady friends has their own story from Ryoko getting a job, Sasami baking a delicious cake that holds a special meaning to her and Ayeka (Sasami’s sister) to Tenchi and Ayeka going on a date. Also Mihoshi, the galactic police officer, crashes her spaceship in Masaki Lake, the super genius Washu stops a burglary attempt by two space thieves, and in the final chapter, Ryo-oh-ki transforms into a sexy and adult form of herself to go on a date with Tenchi as a reward for learning to walk in her adult form.

As a Tenchi Muyo fan, I was very pleased that Hitoshi Okuda kept the formula intact that made this series loved globally by anime fans from the beginning. Each page is guaranteed to bring back the great memories fans have of seeing Tenchi and company’s adventures on Toonami. All the characters and settings stayed true to the original storyline without any missing links. To be fair, I must also give Viz Media’s Fred Burke and Lillian Olsen credit for a flawless English adaptation and translation in this return of Tenchi and company to fans outside of Japan.

In short, The All New Tenchi Muyo: Alien Nation did not let me down as a Tenchi fan. Until Tenchi and crew return to U.S. airwaves for their second conquest via Ryo-oh-ki Airlines, this volume will please all Tenchi fans who believe that this series is not a fad but a true icon among anime. Tenchi now, Tenchi tomorrow, Tenchi forever!

Brandon Beatty contributes Otaku each quarter of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by e-mail at brandongi@gaminginsurrection.com.

Otaku #03: Death Note Vol. 2

Death Note Volume 2 fills out its pages with interesting twists

Brandon Beatty, contributing editor

Previously in Otaku, I reviewed the manga Death Note, which tells the story of high school ace Light Yagami who finds a death note, a notebook with the power to kill anyone whose name is written in it.

Light, learning of the death note’s powers, decides to use it to kill off criminals. However, when criminals worldwide start dying simultaneously, the authorities send in L, a legendary detective to track down the killer. In volume two, the battle between Light aka “Kira” and L rages on when Light uses Kirchro Osoreda, one of his reserved criminals to lure out Raye Pember, a member of the FBI team sent to Japan at L’s request to investigate members of the NPA’s Kira Task Force who are suspected of leaking information on Kira. When Osoreda dies and Pember’s identity is known, Light quickly hatches a plan which results in not just Pember but all of the FBI agents in Japan dying simultaneously. As a result, L is forced to not only reveal himself, but also to rely on the remaining six members of the NPA task force, including Light’s father.

Death Note Vol. 2/Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

At this point in the story, I’m still in awe of how Light has evolved from a model high school student to an individual of pure evil, who believes that his actions are shaping a better world. He proves this when he kills Naomi Misora, Rayes’ fiancé and a former FBI agent who was close to revealing Light as Kira. As volume 2 continues, L, now going by the name Ryuzaki, is not out of the battle yet by providing the task force with fake police IDs in addition to making his hotel room the secret HQ for the Kira investigation.

Suspicious that Kira can still access classified information from the NPA, Ryuzaki increases the psychological warfare by placing a hidden camera and listening devices in the final two homes Pember was investigating where the Yagami family are suspects. Light, in the final pages of volume two, discovers that he is under surveillance and hatches a plan to counter Ryuzaki’s efforts using Ryuk to find the cameras. Readers picking up the second volume of Death Note will not be disappointed, since Tsugumi Obata has kept the plot fresh from the start of the series. His writing has ensured that Death Note is more than a regular who-done-it mystery.

The master talents of artist Takeshi Obata will not disappoint manga otaku. He regularly successfully mixes supernatural and physical elements with few hitches. The stage is set. Two chosen people are fighting in a battle destined to be one of ages. Who will win? Stay tuned as we continue to review a supernatural mystery manga that’s taking the world by storm.

Contributing Editor Brandon Beatty can be reached via e-mail at gicomics@gaminginsurrection.com.

Otaku #02: Eagle

‘Eagle’ takes prophetic look at United States political process

Brandon Beatty, contributing editor

Eagle is a series with clairvoyance. No one could have known that it would predict President Barack Obama’s election eight years after it was published. In 2000, author Keji Kawaguchi, best known for his best-selling graphic novel “The Silent Service,” which goes into detail about the post-Cold War era, wrote a story about the 2000 U.S. presidential election. It evolved into what we know today as Eagle:The Making of an Asian-American President.

“Eagle” was originally introduced in “Big Comic,” one of Japan’s biggest manga magazines and simultaneously published by Viz Media. It focuses on Japanese journalist Takeshi Jo, who after dealing with the tragic loss of his mother, is assigned by his newspaper to go to Washington, D.C., to cover New York Sen. Kenneth Yamaoka, the first Asian American to run for the U.S. presidency. In the first chapter readers are introduced to Takeshi and his back story involving him and his mother and his search to find the U.S. Marine that is his father. The second, third and fourth chapters reveal more about Sen. Yamaoka.

Cover of the manga Eagle
Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Yamaoka reveals to Takeshi that he is, in fact, Takashi’s father, which forces Takashi to be more involved in the story than he bargained for.

While reading Eagle, I gained a new and powerful perspective on how U.S. politics are conducted beyond regular print and TV headlines. At the same time, Kawaguchi has captured both possible scenarios of the 2000 and 2008 U.S. presidential campaigns that manga fans and non-manga readers will enjoy.

Will Kenneth Yamaoka become president? Can Takashi Jo manage both an irresistible career opportunity and a shaky family connection to the man who could be the first Asian American to lead the free world?

These questions are inevitably answered in future editions.

Brandon Beatty is contributing editor of Gaming Insurrection. Contact him by e-mail at gicomics@gaminginsurrection.com.

Otaku #01: Death Note

Death Note Vol. 1 a stroke above

Brandon Beatty, contributing editor

I’m going to throw in a little manga for all of you otaku out there. Don’t worry Marvel and DC comic fans, GI will always have you covered since we know both companies have made a major impact on not only the comic world, but also on worldwide pop culture. For now, though, it’s manga’s time to shine, so I’m kicking it off by asking you to name five of the worst people you can think of. Next, imagine if you had a notebook that could kill them just by thinking of the images of the people you chose plus writing their names in that notebook. If you guessed that I’m reviewing the first volume of Death Note, you’re in the right place.

Death Note is a 12-volume series created by writer Tsugumi Ohba and artist Takeshi Obata, who is best known for his work on the Shonen Jump series “Hikaru no Go.” The English adaptation of the Hikaru no Go and Death Note series are published and licensed by Viz Media. In the first volume of Death Note, readers are introduced to Light Yagami, an ace high school student with great potential who finds the Death Note, a notebook of death dropped on earth by a shinigami or Japanese god of death. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies and Light decides to use the Death Note as a weapon to eliminate evil. But when criminals around the world started dying back to back, the International Police Organization sends in a legendary detective known as “L” to hunt down Light who is using a new persona, “Kira.” Be warned that the first volume of Death Note sets the stage for 12 volumes of both supernatural and psychological cat and mouse games.

The first two chapters introduce Light, L, and the discoveries of both the Death Note and the shinigami Ryuk, who is attached to light. Also, readers are shown the methods that Light is using to kill criminals. The third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh chapters look at the methods both Light and L use to outwit each other ranging from Light’s method of killing criminals while leaving cryptic clues, and L’s use of agents from both Japan’s National Police Agency and the FBI to investigate Kira. Ryuk’s deal with Light to use his shinigami eyes to expose fake names is also explored.

While reading, I learned that both Light and L have a strong sense of justice, but their level of intelligence during their battle will make readers think of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Moriarty, only this time they are both claiming to be defenders of justice. Readers will find that Death Note’s plot is a first in manga to combining three of the most popular storytelling elements that will please both manga and non-manga fans. In addition it combines sci-fi, horror and mystery genres that will have its readers hooked from volume one to the end. If you are looking for a mix of sci-fi, horror and mystery with nail-biting battles of wits, then Death Note is for you. Will Light Yagami see his dream of an evil-free world come true, or will L deliver on his promise to bring Kira to justice? Stay tuned for further reviews on Death Note as this new classic in manga begins its rise to the top.

Brandon Beatty is contributing editor of Gaming Insurrection. Contact him via e-mail at brandongi@gaminginsurrection.com.