Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 11

The light at the end of the Death Note tunnel is clear

Light, Light, Light. I keep finding more reasons for confining Mr. Yagami to a high-level mental health facility than having him in ANY level of employment in public safety. Throughout the entire series reviewing this manga series, the question of “How can one justify killing innocent people in order to make a better world,” keeps popping back in my head, with no credible answers.

Volume 11 begins with Light, Misa and the task force headed back to Japan to avoid capture by Near, the SPK and Mello. Light’s return to Japan provides him breathing room to set up his plans in controlling the Kira investigation and control Mikami’s movements as Kira. However, Near correctly deduces Light’s escape to Japan and follows suit to capture Kira in his own domain, using Hal Linder as a potential member of Kiyomi Takada’s female security team. At the same time, Misa is asked by Yoshida Productions to perform at the annual New Year’s show. Once Near arrives in Japan, he contacts Light to inform him that he is also in Japan to lure Kira out of hiding. Both L’s decide to use that call to begin preparations for their final plans to battle each other.

Further in the story, Light continues to use Takada to his advantage by exchanging written notes to avoid detection by the task force and communicate with Mikami. Takada is OK with the plan, but she began her own plan to secure her position with Light by asking Misa to join her for a late dinner. At the dinner, Mogi and Linder are present, but Linder was ordered by Takada to stand by in case Misa got belligerent. For the sake of time, I’ll say that the dinner didn’t not go well. Meanwhile, another SPK agent named Gevanni starts his stake out of Mikami and has noticed that he has killed a subway passenger for harassing a female passenger without using the Death Note. Acting on Gevanni’s report, Near and Rester began the final stages of planning to capture Kira/Light.

At the New Year’s show, Takada announces that Misa has not yet arrived, forcing Light and the task force to search for her and Mogi. At that moment, Near contacts Light stating that he has taken Misa and Mogi into protective custody. Light, inwardly enraged, acts concerned in front of the task force by telling Misa and Mogi that they are free to leave at any time they want.

At the same time, Gevanni follows Mikami to a local gym and was able to touch the Death Note that was in Mikami’s brief bag. With Gevanni’s report, Near decides to make a replica Death Note and set the date, time and place for the final battle: a warehouse near Daikoku Wharf in Yokohama. On the day of their meeting, Takada arrives at NHN Studio for her news program when Matt arrives firing a smoke grenade at Takada. While the security team surrounds her, Mello, disguised as a motorcyclist worshipper of Kira, tells Linder to place Takada on the bike. When Takada is on the bike with Mello, Linder has two security units to follow them while the remaining security team goes after Matt. When Takada was out of danger, Mello ignored requests from the security detail to hand her over to them and escapes into a narrow alley with Takada as his prisoner.

This volume is a nice way to setup a climatic end for the series. Every detail from artwork to storyline was strong enough to create their own impact without losing plot focus. I applauded the chess-like moves that Light and Near employed with Swiss clock-like precision in each of their plans giving them flexibility in each situation. Also, the development for each character was not stale, especially for Misa, Takada, and Linder, who all got equal scene time in each chapter. I found the dinner scene with Misa and Takada hilarious when Misa tells Takada that she and Kira will be killed when he is captured, and Takada counters with host authority of the New Year’s show to prevent Misa’s engagement to Light. Also, Linder was featured in superb multitasking as a most trusted bodyguard while being a double agent and referee between Kira’s two suitors. Ohba-san and Obata-san again showed their mastery in creating a worthwhile series. Credit is also owed to Tetsuichiro Miyazi, who performed adaptation and translation duties.

This is it. The battle that we waited for, dear readers, is here. L’s heirs and Light Yagami fighting to the death, not for praise but intellectual superiority. As I ready myself to write the final review of Death Note, I cannot find any reason why I should not re-read this series or re-watch the anime. Do shinigami really exist? Only time will tell. I can offer this analysis, though: A battle of anime and manga’s most intriguing intellectuals will end, with ONLY one left standing.

Brandon Beatty is associate editor of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb[at]gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku Corner: Gundam Thunderbolt Vol. 1

Gundam side story delves deeper in the mecha ethos

“Only the dead know the end of war.” — Plato

As many of our readers know of my love for the Gundam series, I have mentioned the series’ legendary mark on anime and pop culture many times. Manga is no exception since numerous Gundam series were printed out and read by many Gundam fans and big robot lovers, alike.

On a recent trip to 2nd & Charles, I found one of a few English-translated adaptations of Gundam manga that was a side story set during the events of the original series. While the main characters were not present in this series, it nevertheless told of the widening conflict between the Principality of Zeon and the Earth Federation as seen through the eyes of two destined individuals, each with their own views of justice. “Mobile Suit Gundam: Thunderbolt “was my ticket to this latest chapter of the Gundam Universe.

Set in the Universal Century year 0079, the space colony Side 3 declared independence as conflict between Zeon and Earth began. One year later, both sides engaged in a battle for an area of destroyed space colonies known as the Thunderbolt sector. During this period, Daryl Lorenz, top sniper for a special unit known as the Living Dead Division, has enabled Zeon forces to control Thunderbolt sector without loss. However, his luck changes when Io Fleming, ace pilot for the Earth Federation’s Moore Brotherhood fleet, ambushes a Living Dead member, killing him and taking an enemy Zaku suit. As a result, Io is given a new mission to further disrupt Zeon control but with a new mobile suit: Gundam.

As the Living Dead discover that a Gundam is being used, the battle between Io and Daryl intensifies amid the wreckage of Io’s home colony, Side 4: More. With both sides hellbent on each other’s destruction, a new rivalry is set in the Gundam saga with various music types providing the soundtrack to a battle where there is only one victor.

Reading MSG: Thunderbolt is a new take on the battle between Earth and space. While Hajime Yatate and Yoshiyuki Tomino provided the original story, Yasuo Ohtagaki provided a fresh perspective via story and art. I felt invested in Daryl and Io because tragedy has taken away happier times in their lives. Both characters were born in affluent families who prospered as merchants, but war upended their lives. Daryl became a solider but was severely injured losing both legs, which gained his family the right to resettle on a Zeon colony and other benefits. He also had to adapt to using prosthetic legs to regain his ability to walk and to use a mobile suit.

Io lost his father, who was mayor of Side 4, to suicide during the Zeon assault. Fortunately, Io’s friends Claudia Peer, who is his commanding officer (and lover), and Cornelius Qaqa, the fleet’s engineer, are there with him to carry the task of avenging their lost home. Daryl also has the support of his unit, who are also dealing with the hellish results of war. Ohtagaki-san’s detail to story and art was excellent from start to finish, especially with the designs of the Gundam, Zaku and Rick Dom suits.

The in-between drama for Io and Daryl is also accurate in showing the types of problem that military servicemembers may deal with during and in between battles. At these points in the manga, I felt that pulling for both characters is justifiable as they are fighting a physical and psychological war on all fronts. Finally, the music selection closed the deal for me while reading Thunderbolt. Jazz and pop music set each chapter tone as if I was part of the battle. Viz Media did a great job on adaptation and translation of Thunderbolt with praise going to STAN! And Joe Yamazaki for carefully presenting Thunderbolt. They presented the side story carefully without compromising what Gundam is about.

MSG: Thunderbolt is one of the few Gundam manga adaptations I felt did justice to a series without sacrificing its crucial parts to tell its story. As Daryl and Io continue their battle, I plan to review their battles in the future.

Brandon Beatty is associate editor of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb[at]gaminginsurrection.com

We remember Kirby Morrow, 1973-2020

I’m dedicating this review to the memory of Kirby Morrow. Morrow — best known for voicing Trowa Barton from Gundam Wing, Billy Katagiri from Gundam 00, Teru Mikami from Death Note and Miroku from the Inyusha series and its recent spinoff Yashahime: Princess Half Demon — passed on Nov. 18, 2020. Rest in peace, Kirby. You are forever loved. You are forever remembered. You are forever Gundam.

Otaku Corner: Tokyo Tribes Vol. 2

Tokyo prepares for all-out gang warfare in Tribes Volume 2

In a previous Otaku Corner column, I reviewed the first volume of the manga series “Tokyo Tribes.” Tokyo Tribes is the first manga series I’ve read that perfectly combines Japanese comic art with the raw power of urban American pop culture, mainly hip-hop and R&B music. When I last reviewed Tokyo Tribes, it morphed from a standalone work to a trilogy, giving way to various spinoffs, a live-action movie, and a in-development TV series supervised by creator Santa Inoue.

A short recap: The story is set after a time where riots occurred in Tokyo where gangs known as “tribes” control certain areas via a shaky truce. Kai of the “Saru” and Mera of the “Wu-Ronz” are sworn enemies, whose history sets the stage for all-out war involving all tribes for control of Tokyo’s streets.

On the way to drop off Saru’s leader Tera to work, Mera and the Wu-Ronz ambushed Kai, Hasheem and Steno, resulting in Tera being seriously injured. Kai goes after Mera through Shibuya’s rooftops leading to a bat vs. katana battle between the former friends. During the battle, both men nearly fall from a building. Iwao, leader of the Hands, show up with military-grade weaponry, shooting Mera down. Skunk and the other Wu-Ronz rush to Mera’s aid, but Iwao and a few Hands members intervene, demanding payback for Mera cutting off a Hands member’s arm.

While onlookers and police are distracted, Mera miraculously survives his fall, and attempts to kill Hasheem as Hasheem guides Kai to a safer exit from the building. Kai and Tera rush to Hasheem to protect him from Mera but Tera is beheaded by Mera and more chaos ensues. Hasheem, feeling responsible for Tera’s death, attempts suicide while a few of Saru’s members rampage through Shibuya looking for payback against Wu-Ronz members. They find an opportunity through Unkoi, son of the Wu-Ronz benefactor Big Bubba, at a local karaoke bar. While the Saru members made short work of other Wu-Ronz members, Unkoi gravely injures two members, while his personal bodyguard Galileo chases the third to the final page of the book. Meanwhile, Kai is dealing with troubles of his own as his father appears determined to remove him from the Saru for good.

During this volume, I still felt the awesome vibe from the first one, but more meat was in the storyline. Inoue-san gave readers a better explanation why both characters have this vengeful hate toward each other beyond Mera blaming Kai for his girlfriend’s death. During a brief backstory, Bubba’s corruption took Mera’s moral compass and the lives of his parents, which made me feel a little sorry for him since he not only hates Kai but also wants to destroy Bubba’s life as well. I also felt Kai’s pain after Tera’s death since Tera was also a mentor to all the Saru members.

Inoue-san also showed his special skill of adding certain pop-culture references such as Tower Records and displaying renditions of hip-hop and R&B artists’ album covers. The artwork was also top notch, especially when showing Unkoi’s ruthless side as he fought the Saru members. It was as if I was reading the battle scene from Kill Bill Volume 1. Tokyo Pop’s dedication to Tokyo Tribes remains strong, thanks to Alexis Kirsch and David Walker handling translation and adaptation, along with Stuart Levy collaborating with Inoue-san as executive producers, ensuring that this hip-hop vision continues without compromise.

With the Saru in turmoil without a leader, and the Hands and Wu-Ronz preparing for all-out war in Tokyo’s streets, what will happen? Can Kai and Mera triumph over their personal issues and make peace? We’ll revisit the scene of gang warfare in Volume 3.

Brandon Beatty is Editor-At-Large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 9

Death Note wrapping up in its usual suspense-filled way

Brandon-2012-cutoutScholarly. Resourceful. If I had to describe Light Yagami, I would use these words to characterize him as well as to say that I could see him becoming a future minister of justice for Japan. However, since Mr. Yagami (aka Kira) has possession of the Death Note, I could only think of two words to describe him: tyrant and murderer. In the ninth volume of “Death Note,” Light’s actions fit my latter descriptions of him as his actions continue to have devastating reactions on the United States and Japan.
At the end of Volume 8, Light’s plan to use U.S. Special Forces to attack Mello’s hideout failed greatly because of the involvement of the shinigami Sidoh, the use of the ransom Death Note and use of the Shinigami Eyes by one of Mello’s henchmen. As a result, the Special Forces members along with current U.S. president David Hoope were killed. Reeling from Mello’s brilliant attack, Light devises an attack plan using Misa’s Death Note and having Soichiro make a deal with Ryuk for the Shinigami Eyes. Light’s plan worked successfully in eliminating Mello’s henchmen in addition to recovering the Death Note and finding out Mello’s true identity, but Soichiro was killed by one of Mello’s men, who faked his own death.
During these events, the SPK discovers that they are being disbanded amid a declarationDeath Note Vol. 9 cover of surrender to Kira by acting U.S. President George Sairas. This forces Light to go through a combined barrage of attacks by  Near and Mello in order to disrupt and expose Kira within the Japanese task force. During this three-way battle, Light’s, Mello’s and Near’s tactics result in  decisive wins for each man. In the final chapter, Light ultimately comes out on top by using Demegawa and Sakura TV to reach Kira supporters and rally them to siege the SPK headquarters while taunting Near to escape while he is able.
Like all of the other Death Note volumes I’ve read, Volume 9 still keeps the intriguing mix of supernatural horror and mystery. However, this volume had me thinking that Ohba-san and Obata-san wrote and drew this volume while watching a marathon of the show “24.” While reading, I noticed that while Light has his keen ability to take on many challenges, he also knows that he has Near and Mello standing in his way. I also like how Ohba-san and Obata-san set up Mello and Near as cooperative rivals. Mello tells Near that he is not a tool to capture Kira and threatens to shoot him, but they exchange clues regarding the Death Note when Near gives Mello the only picture available of him. As the Death Note saga begins to close, Light is so close to his dream, yet so far with Near and Mello on his heels.
Credit again goes to Viz Media as they continue to do an excellent job of translation and adaptation, this time assigning the tasks to Tesuichiro Miyaki. Miyaki continues the challenging-yet-successful task of presenting Death Note to the English audience.
I’m getting close to the end of reviewing the Death Note manga series. With only three volumes left, I’m kind of torn between rooting for Light’s noble cause to eradicate evil and L’s heirs continuing his legacy of genius. However, after all that Light has done to criminals and non-criminals alike, I can only take one side: Team Ryuzaki.

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

Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 8

L continues to inspire justice in Death Note Volume 8

Brandon-2012-cutoutFour years after his death, the world’s greatest detective L continues to challenge Light Yagami in the most intense  game of cat and mouse via his successors. Will L and company triumph or will Light have the last laugh? The answer to these questions awaits in Death Note Volume 8: Target.
Written by Tsugumi Ohba, drawn by Takeshi Obata and published by Viz Media, Death Note Volume 8 lives up to its subtitle. At the end of Vol. 7, we left Light (Kira/the second L) — the newest member of the NPA’s intelligence bureau — unchallenged in making his idea of a crime-free world come to fruition. However, he was unprepared for a two-pronged attack from Mello and Near, L’s true successors. Mello joins with an organized crime group to kidnap Light’s sister, Sayu, while Near gains the support of the president of the United States to form the SPK (Special Provision for Kira). Both parties’ main objective is to capture Kira and the Death Note.
For a brief period, Light and Near cooperate to rescue Sayu while Light’s father, Soichiro, leaves for Los Angeles to deliver their Death Note to Mello’s henchmen. Although Sayu was safely recovered, the notebook fell into the hands of Mello, allowing him and the gang’s boss, Rod Ross, to eliminate individuals who sold various illegal goods without Ross’ permission as well as three senior members of the SPK.
As the psychological warfare continues, U.S. President David Hoope gets thrown into the fray via Mello, whoDeath Note Vol. 8 cover states that his group would give the U.S. Kira’s notebook in exchange for funding, weapons and shared use of the SPK’s satellites. Facing a potential global crisis, President Hoope briefly complies with Mello’s requests but also notifies Light. Light promised to protect the president but also requests use of special forces soldiers to combat Mello and his group. Unfortunately, Mello was able to use the shinigami Sidoh to eliminate the soldiers at the same time President Hoope was eliminated, possibly by Kira (aka Light).
Volume 8 continues the tried-and-true formula that made Death Note a smash success: A great storyline that combines action and mystery with elements of supernatural horror. I still can’t keep my jaw from dropping to the floor when I read about Light and his plans to keep him steps ahead of the task force, Mello and Near while acting as L and Kira. As Death Note continues, you will form a view of Light Yagami: On one side, you admire Light’s intelligence and his just goal to make the world a better place, while on the other side you despise him and root for his downfall.
The art by Obata-san is flat-out awesome, from character design to the locations in America. You will have to give Mello and Near credit; they’ve made some game-changing moves of their own such as Near letting Light take the lead while he still has authority over U.S. law enforcement, while Mello uses the mafia and resources to force the U.S. president to give him money and other support to slow down Kira and Near to stay on top. Viz media, again, did an excellent job of adapting and translating, this time entrusting both tasks to Tetsuichiro Miyaki.
Volume 8 continues the nonstop battle of good vs. evil with the victor claiming the  weapon to END all weapons. While reading, I felt like I got a front-row seat to a three-way battle of devious minds that are determined to be triumphant. Who will prevail?

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached via email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku Corner: Tenjho Tenge Vol. 2

Tenjho Tenge heats up in second volume of action

Brandon-2012-cutoutWelcome back to another installment of Otaku Corner. This time, we’re going back to school, which means we’re enrolling again at the renowned Todo Academy where students learn the three basics: Reading, writing and ass-kicking (yes, I said ass-kicking.) So, grab your backpacks, bento lunches and your grappling gear because it’s time to check in with the Juken Club in the latest installment of Tenjho Tenge Volume 02: The Battle Bowl.

Based on the manga series by Oh! Great and released by Geneon Entertainment (USA), Tenjho Tenge follows the story of Soichiro Nagi and Bob Makihara (aka the Knuckle Bombs), who plan to add Todo Academy to their list of conquered territory. Their plan quickly falls apart when they meet Aya and Maya Natsume, members of the Juken Club, which stands against the student Executive Council. After altercations with the council, Soichiro and Bob join Aya and Maya along with Masataka Takayanagi to fight the council, unaware that they are now locked in a 400-year battle that has yet to be resolved.

Tenjou Tenge Vol. 2

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

During golden week (Japanese May holiday), the Juken Club begins their training to prepare for future attacks from the Executive Council. At this time, Maya has a great idea to go bowling to give the club a break from training. Unfortunately, the council makes immediate plans to send their forces led by its most terrifying members to crush the Juken Cub for good. In three episodes, the Juken Club are separated from each other facing off the council’s most feared “executioners,” who consist of vice chairman Emi “The Black Blade” Isuzu, who hates Maya with INTENSE passion; Shirō “The Last Samurai” Tagami, who gives Aya a major battle; and, Koji “Saga Mask” Sagara, who challenges Soichiro for free passage into the rest of the bowling alley.

Meanwhile, Bob and Masataka deal some serious damage to the Council’s army while protecting Bob’s girlfriend, Chiaki Kounoike. After their separate victories, the Juken Club looked as if they were going to escape a vicious gauntlet, until the Council’s president shows up ready to deal his own brand of justice.

After watching this volume of Tenjho Tenge, I felt that although the battles were drawn out, they still kept the action intact. I personally like the way episodes were written to give the Juken members a chance to test their new skills while allowing the backstory of the executioners to come full circle, showing the reasons why they fight for the council so much. You’ll still get the usual fan service moments, but the stage is set for future episodes that will deepen the story line. Also, adding more punch for the dollar, three new series coming from Geneon and the non-title ending made me feel that I was not getting a case of buyer’s remorse. Geneon USA and Bang Zoom! Entertainment deserve credit as well with a smooth English adaptation and translation as well as having excellent voice acting from Steve Staley (Soichro), Wendee Lee (Maya) Stephanie Sheh (Aya), Johnny Yong Bosch (Masataka) and Jamison Price (Bob). Credit also goes to Kate Higgins, Paul St. Peter and Dave Mallow for their respective roles of Emi, Tagami and Sagara.

Tenjho Tenge continues to keep its successful blend of school drama with intense martial arts action that puts the series in a class by itself. Will the Juken Club survive the wrath of the Council’s president? Keep it here in Otaku Corner to find out.

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

Otaku Corner: The All-New Tenchi Muyo Vol. 5

Tenchi Vol. 5 provides enjoyable escapades

Brandon-2012-cutoutTenchi, Tenchi, Tenchi. As a college-aged otaku, I remember when Tenchi and company graced Cartoon Network’s airwaves in 2000 when I had my first experience with harem anime, a kind of compromise that gave Toonami’s male and female viewers what they wanted without sacrificing the focus of that block. A young high school guy loved by an alien space pirate, two alien princesses, a mad-yet-chibi-sized genius and a tanned space detective that would give Inspector Gadget a serious run for his money, plus new daily chances for adventure? I was sold. Now an older and more mature otaku, I look back on my love for Tenchi and thought “Yeah, it’s that time for Otaku Corner to experience Tenchi Muyo once more.”
Written and drawn by Hitoshi Okuda and published by Viz Media, Point and Shoot has Tenchi, Ryoko, Ayaka, Sasami, Washu and Mihoshi doing their usual: having fun while at the same time getting themselves out of some crazy mishap. This starts with celebrating Mamemaki (traditional Japanese demon-fighting ceremony), during which whoever hits Tenchi dressed up as a demon is boss for a day. Ryoko goes all out to win (let’s say she has deep plans for Tenchi), and nearly destroys home and occupants alike. This ends with Sasami winning for the sake of world peace.

Next, the gang finds out that Sasami has a special guardian assigned to her by the King of Jurai and must help her remain in Sasami’s grade level. Also, the gang gets a little exercise in babysitting thanks to a mishap that

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

involves a variety of books, a photo album of Tenchi at age 3, bio-medical equipment from outer space, and Mihoshi’s clumsiness. Her clumsiness results in the running of pint-sized Tenchis that must be caught before permanent damage is done to Tenchi and the frail fabric of time and space. Ryoko gets some focus in the last two chapters as she is taught a lesson in moderate drinking by Tsunami (Sasami’s protective spirit), who also awards her with a year’s supply of sake for helping with expenses and dueling with a self-proclaimed “king of revolving sushi.” She wins by using slight-of-hand tactics but ultimately must undertake a fishing expedition outside of Japan for three months or until the next volume.

Point and Shoot continues the same Tenchi formula used in previous manga editions and the anime: great story and artwork with a mix of comedy and learning crucial life lessons. As always, Okuda-san never skips a beat or overuses his characters in scenes to gain attention. To me, that’s always a sign of great animators, comic artists and writers who know how to get the reader’s attention without being too focused on selling x number of volumes in a series. Viz Media gets credit as always since they stayed true to Tenchi Muyo, thanks to the excellent work of English adaptation and translation from Fred Burke and Lillian Olsen. Credit should also go to Shaenon Garrity for taking the helm of series editor.

She shows that Tenchi is a major staple in her anime experience and presents strong female lead characters who are not present during the early days of manga and anime.

The All-New Tenchi Muyo! Volume 5: Point and Shoot is another piece of manga goodness that hits all the right chords without being too serious. Any veteran otaku or budding novice SHOULD have this manga and its anime counterparts in their collection or at least watch and read a few volumes. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a dessert date with a fellow connoisseur during which carrot cake will be consumed. Don’t judge me.

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

Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 7

Death Note Vol. 7 digs deeper with shocking results

Brandon-2012-cutoutWelcome to Otaku Corner, the spot of The Strip where we bring you the finest manga and anime. I’m continuing my review of the series “Death Note,” the mystery/supernatural manga of geniuses Light Yagami and L, the legendary detective. When Light finds the death note dropped in the human world by a shingami named Ryuk, he uses it to kill off criminals, hoping to create a crime-free world. When criminals worldwide begin to drop dead, L (Ryuzaki) is called in to find the murder known as “Kira” (Light).

Written by Tsugumi Ohba, drawn by Takeshi Obuta and published by VIZ Media, Death Note Volume 7 continues where the previous volume ended with Light, Ryuzaki and the rest of the task force finally capturing Kyosuke Higuchi, the latest Kira. Upon recovering the death note, Light regains his memories as the original Kira allowing him to continue his main goal: killing L.

Using a hidden piece of the death note placed in his watch, Light — without anyone watching — kills Higuchi, thus focusing his attention to L. In the next set of pages, Light shows how far he is willing to use not only his “girlfriend” Misa Amane and her shinigami Rem, but also to have Ryuk write two fake rules about using the death note. Sensing that there are two fake rules, Ryuzaki attempts to have another country test the fake rules, but he and Watari are killed by Rem, who is also killed because of her actions that allowed Misa to live longer. Before his death, L erases all of the investigative data on the task force computers, but Light is able to recover the information, allowing him to kill Ryuzaki’s associates Aiber and Wedy as well as the remaining members of the Yosuba group who were involved in the Kira killings. Light, during this time, plays the roles of Kira and L while joining the NPA’s Intelligence section, securing his position as murderer and law officer.

Unknown to Light, however, L’s proteges have begun to avenge their fallen mentor. One of them, Near, gathered enough

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

evidence to convince the U.S. government to set up a Kira investigation unit known as SPK. The other, known as Mello, joins up with a major mafia organization to acquire the death note and to also become No. 1 over Near. While Light is enjoying his long-awaited victory, Mello has taken the NPA director hostage and when the director is killed, Mello orders his henchmen to kidnap Light’s sister Saiyu. When Saiyu goes missing, Light deals with two new adversaries who are determined to destroy Kira at any cost.

Death Note continues to be a smash hit, thanks to its perfect mix of mystery, horror and supernatural elements. I guarantee that you will be in complete awe as you witness Light’s complete transformation from a young man who hates evil to a murderer who will kill anyone in his way to create his perfect world. L, while not entirely evil, did himself justice despite his willingness to test the death note among other questionable tactics to solve the case, leaving a legacy for his heirs to fight one of the greatest evils ever known. Viz Media also gets credit as well, as Alexis Kirsch performed excellently with handling translation and adaptation writing duties.

Death Note Volume 7 left me feeling sad and happy about its continuation. Although I’m pleased that the story will continue with new plot twists and nonstop action, I’m saddened that a great main character has fallen at such an early point in the series. Yet, I am confident that he will be avenged thanks to the efforts of his proteges. Keep reading Otaku Corner for more reviews of Death Note as its second act begins. RIP Ryuzaki and Watari. You WILL be avenged.

 

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

Otaku Corner: Tokyo Tribes

Gang warfare takes over Tokyo’s streets

Brandon-2012-cutoutWelcome to another of Otaku Corner, GI’s own little spot of The Strip where we bring you the finest manga and anime this side of the gaming world. I’m sharing a great series that led the recent pop culture marriage of Japanese manga art and American urban hip-hop into a worldwide phenomenon, Tokyo Tribes. Tokyo Tribes has set the stage for great titles like “Samurai Champloo” and “Afro Samurai” to gain their well-deserved popularity.

Created by Santa Inoue and published by Tokyopop, Tokyo Tribes Volume one follows the exploits of four “tribes” or gangs, who dominate sections of Tokyo’s most known locales as a result of a peace truce established after riots nearly destroyed the city. The series focuses on Kai, second in charge of the Musashinokuni Saru, and Mera, head of the Bukuro Wu-Ronz. They were once friends but are now mortal enemies because of the untimely death of Mera’s girlfriend for which Kai is blamed. This hatred is reignited when three Saru Shibuya members are killed in Bukuro by the Wu-Ronz.

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Hearing the news, Kai wants payback, but wisely follows the advice of Tera, Saru’s leader, to not act. Meanwhile, the Wu-Ronz head to Musashinokuni on illegal errands requested by their benefactors. Along the way, they instigate battle with the Shinjuku Hands by injuring one of their members. Not knowing that the Wu-Ronz are in town, Kai takes Tera to the local train station and while buying food at a local burger joint, Tera is attacked by Mera. Tera survives, but instead of getting medical help, Tera goes after Kai along with two other Saru members, Hashem and Steno, to stop him from chasing Mera. The manga ends with Kai and Mera facing each other before a rooftop battle.

Readers will not be disappointed with Volume one. As an original work, it’s main theme of urban life in Tokyo is a refreshing approach from the picture-perfect images presented in other manga. Inoue-san, fusing hip-hop and manga, also pays homage to R&B artists Mary J. Blige and Anthony Hamilton, who have a huge following in Japan. Tokyopop deserves credit as publisher Stuart Levy, translator Alexis Kirsch and adaptation writer David Walker stuck with the theme of Japanese edge and hip-hop charm instead of imitating other series for sales.

Tokyo Tribes is the first manga to ignite the destined mash up of hip-hop and comic art in modern media. Its storyline will hook you and leave you wanting more. Will Saru survive the flames that will erupt in Tokyo? Keep reading Otaku Corner to find out.

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

Otaku Corner: Onimusha: Night of Genesis

Capcom manga continues Onimusha saga

Brandon-2012-cutoutWelcome back to Otaku Corner, where we bring you the finest anime and manga this side of the Northern Hemisphere. Previously, I reviewed the first installment of Capcom’s samurai adventure series Onimusha. It did not take long for a manga adaptation to not only tie-in the series, but also to present new characters in the recent Onimusha game, Dawn of Dreams. This adaptation is “Onimusha: Night of Genesis.”

Written and drawn by Mitsuru Ohsaki and published by Udon Comics, “Night of Genesis” follows two new Onimusha warriors who are destined to face the notorious genma forces, but for different reasons. At the beginning of the first chapter, Hideyasu Yuki and Jubei-Akane Yagyu face off with each other. As the manga goes on, these warriors discover that while they have different adversaries to battle, they awaken the awesome power inside them that would not only destroy their respective foes, but also would remove the even greater threat of the genma destroying Japan and the world.

Night of Genesis” is a radical take on the Onimusha series that remains loyal to the games’ storyline. While reading, I

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

found that although the character’s back stories and relevant elements of Japanese history are entwined, Oshaki-san took great care to keep these elements from overlapping. This is important since fans of certain games discover that when their favorite title and characters appear in graphic novels, very little or none of the game’s story remains as the main story. I also give credit to Udon Comics’ team of Gala Ferrire and Jim Zubkavich, whose English adaptation maintained understanding of the manga’s plot; and Mike Youngberg, whose translations were helpful, especially when sword-fighting techniques needed explanation. Overall, Onimusha fans and otaku looking for a good samurai manga won’t be disappointed.

Onimusha: Night of Genesis is the first official tie-in to a gaming series that really does not disappoint its fans. This goes to show that with great stories and comic art, transitions of video games to comic format can be a successful formula if all involved parties focus on quality not quantity. Udon did it, and you can, too, Capcom. I’m looking at you, Kenzo Tsujimoto.

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