Otaku Corner: Great Teacher Onizuka

Great Teacher Onizuka inspires kids, otaku alike

In this issue’s Otaku Corner, we’re going to time travel back to the late ’90s/early 2000s to focus on an anime classic that is situated in a high school setting. Instead of having a student wishing for their romantic sempai to notice, the main character is an interesting fellow: A former motorcycle gang leader who barely graduates from a lesser-known university who tries his luck in teaching high schoolers. Who is this man? He’s Eikichi Onizuka also known as “GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka.”
Based on the manga of the same name by Tohru Fujisawa, the anime takes viewers along Onizuka’s journey from former gang biker to game-changing teacher. Onizuka applies at Holy Forest Academy expecting that he would be teaching high school female students who would fall in love with him. Instead, he’s assigned to Class O, consisting of troublemakers and blackmailers. After saving a Class O student from committing suicide twice, Onizuka uses his skills of tough love to reach out to the students. After noticing Onizuka’s brave actions, the school’s Chairwoman offers Onizuka the teaching position, provided he would have to live in a school storage room.
As the anime continues, Onizuka befriends the class-o students who tried to get him kicked out and joins him in various typical anime situations ranging from helping a female student get her big break in acting, to keeping a promise to pay for a school field trip to Okinawa. Onizuka pulls through with his promises while driving the school principal Hiroshi Uchiyamada crazy with either Onizuka’s crazy luck or his precious Cresta sedan being totaled by Onizuka nearly every episode. In the anime’s last episode, Onizuka uncovers a sinister plot by a corrupt teachers union to pin a former Holy Forest student’s suicide on a Class O student. Onizuka takes matters in his own hands by taking the blame, exposing the teachers union’s actions and flees to America where he continues teaching at a California high school while showing his new students how he does things.
Let me state this: Onizuka is a teacher I wish I had in high school. Knowing when to dish out discipline and support to at-risk kids is an artform. GTO accomplish this goal as an anime high school series by showing that teachers can be among those who are major influences in kids’ lives. Noriyuki Abe, known for his work on “Bleach,” keeps true to Fujisawa-san’s original work – showing how Onizuka adds tough love and teaches life lessons to students while mixing comedic elements. I felt invested with each episode, which provided life lessons and fun along the way.
Credit goes to Tokyopop and its CEO Stuart Levy for maintaining GTO’s originality and casting impressive English voice actors such as Steve Blum to play Onizuka, Wendee Lee as school director Sakurai, and Onizuka’s love interest, Azusa Fuyutsuki. Levy showed excellent wisdom with additional top names such as Tony Oliver, Richard Epcar, Michelle Ruff, and the late Robert Papenbrook to play voices of various characters. Papenbrook gets special recognition for his role as Principal Uchiyamada whose beloved Cresta sedan is always either totaled or stolen during encounters with Onizuka’s exploits. The music for GTO is top-notch with the first session opening theme performed by L’ Arc-en-Ciel and the second opening theme done by Porno Graffiti. After seeing the complete series of GTO, I’m now in the hunt to acquire the manga volumes, if I can still find them.
“Great Teacher Onizuka” is a definitely among anime’s greatest series. For GTO to convince a non-high school anime viewer like me to take another look at this genre, I was impressed. I have a piece of advice for inspiring teachers-to-be: Study hard and follow the way of Eikichi Onizuka. And, for those current and former teachers who give their best to their students: Thank you for all you do. We at GI salute you!

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

Otaku Corner: Outlaw Star Ep. 1-26

Outlaw Star shines among anime of early aughts

I’m paying homage to an anime series that has made a major impact on otaku culture as well helped in the renaissance of anime in America.

First, I’ll give a little background. Sunrise Beyond Inc. is well known for its globally acclaimed series Gundam. It has also helped contribute to and worked with Cartoon Network with its Toonami/Adult Swim blocks, presenting new classics such as The Big O, Cowboy Bebop and Inuyasha. But Sunrise brought a series to Cartoon Network that helped anime rebound in American pop culture. That series is Outlaw Star.

Licensed by Bandai Entertainment in 1999 and broadcasted on Cartoon Network in 2001 and 2002, Outlaw Star tells the story of Gene Starwind and best friend-business partner James “Jim” Hawking, who run a jack-of-all trades business on the planet Sentinel III. Their lives are changed forever when an outlaw named Hot Ice Hilda hires them as bodyguards while recovering a stolen spaceship — later known as the Outlaw Star — and its navigational system to find the “Galactic Layline,” a fabled place which holds immense treasure, knowledge, and power. Outlaw Star has some similarities to Cowboy Bebop in the theme of a Space Western type of anime. Early on, I was introduced to the main characters, but I learned later that the makeup of the cast would change. When Gene, Jim and Hilda reach the hiding place of the Outlaw Star, they’re attacked by the Kei pirates, who are after Hilda for stealing the ship. Hilda battles the pirates, stalling for Gene and Jim to escape with the ship and its navigation system named Melfina. Hilda dies, unfortunately, when she activates a hidden bomb that vaporizes her and the pirates.

The series continues with Gene and crew taking on various jobs to manage maintenance and gaining new crew members, such as assassin “Twilight” Suzuka and former Ctarl-Ctarl government officer Aisha ClanClan. In addition to the Kei pirates, Gene must deal with the bounty hunting MacDougall brothers and the scheming Professor Gwen Kahn while uncovering the mystery surrounding Melfina and the Galactic Layline. Gene and company are always looking to make money while spending it and sometimes laugh at the escapades they get into while trying to do so.

The character designs are very good, but the stars of the show are the actual ships designed by Juniya Ishigaki and Shoji Kawamori, who designed the Outlaw Star. The show’s main and ending themes begin with a strong masculine theme then change to a child-like lullaby and a slow pop song that can calm the most frustrated otaku. The voice dub cast is excellent with Bob Buchholz as Gene, Brianne Siddall as Jim, Emily Brown as Melfina, Lenore Zann as Aisha, and Wendee Lee as Suzuka. Outlaw Star also benefited from having Beau Billingslea as the narrator and Mary E. McGlynn as Hilda. Another voice actor that contributed was Barbra Goodson, known for her work on “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as “Rita Repulsa,” as a guest voice. This series showed that Sunrise employed excellent voice actors with high quality designs and strong storytelling to bring a show that would have been overlooked to the forefront with enthusiastic fan support.

Outlaw Star is a show among the Toonami/Adult Swim lineup that kept the programing blocks alive in addition to reviving anime passion in America. Fortunately, you can find this classic series on the Funimation now and Hulu streaming services.

If anything, Outlaw Star teaches all otaku like me: Go forth, seek your fortune and do not fear failure.

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb[at]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

Otaku Corner: Tenchi Muyo Vol. 3

Dark Washu is draw in third volume of Tenchi Muyo

Brandon-2012-cutoutWelcome back to The Strip’s little section specifically made for great anime and manga, “Otaku Corner.” I know everyone’s getting back into the swing of things (school, work, college), but this is also a great time to enjoy a great manga series that has it all: comedy, action, adventure, cute female leads. One of my favorite series has all of those things including a main character that is a lucky man to have four beautiful women living in the same house. Tenchi Masaki and his gang of lovely women star in more great adventures in Volume 3 of the “All New Tenchi Muyo: Dark Washu.”

Written and drawn by Hitoshi Okuda and published by Viz Media, Dark Washu is the continuation of the last story in “Tenchi Muyo: Doom Time,” in which Washu Hakubi’s most powerful invention, the “black crystal,” designed as the perfect security system, was taken over by the evil Dr. Clay. Tenchi and company fought the black crystal who copied the real Washu. Despite winning the decisive battle, the dark crystal returns to exact vengeance: It becomes Washu vs. Washu, which takes up the entire third volume.

Fellow otaku, despite this smackdown of genius against genius, this is truly great work Tenchi Muyo Vol 3worthy of any Tenchi fan with no punches pulled on every page, complementing the well-thought out plotline and artwork. It was also great to see Tenchi’s father and grandfather make brief cameos, as it is rare to see them in manga form.

The battles also have their moments of heart tugging. When Tenchi and company rally to assist Washu in the final moments of the battle, Dr. Clay is vanquished for good and Dark Washu is rebuilt as a new character and Washu’s new lab assistant, Tama. The bonus story with Ryo-oh-ki facing the battle of the bulge, which has its own mix of cuteness and comedy, is also enjoyable. Viz Media also deserves credit for keeping Tenchi Muyo fun to read, thanks to the team of adaptation writer Freed Burke and translator Lillian Olsen, who remained on task. Tenchi is fun and action-packed minus the regular clichés.

The All-New Tenchi Muyo: Dark Washu is a great manga to read to celebrate the end of summer with a good mix of action, adventure and comedy. Now I have to take care of a craving for carrot cake, which makes me wonder am I becoming like Ryo-oh-ki?

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

Strip Talk #15: I’ve learned a few lessons from cosplaying

Lyndsey-101612-cutoutI had a reason to cosplay once again. I usually only have the urge to dress up and take on different characters once a year, and that’s because I’m going to NashiCon. My first and only anime convention to date, I popped my NashiCon cherry in 2009 with an attempt to dress up as Akuma. The next year, I went as Afro from Afro Samurai. I managed to miss 2011 and 2012 for various reasons, but I made a special trip to the convention this year. NashiCon is held every year in my hometown of Columbia, S.C., so I have every reason to go and celebrate anime.

For reasons known only to myself, I decided that I would attempt to cover NashiCon 2013 for GI. You may have even seen our coverage on the front page of GI.com. Next year will be different, I promise, because I’ve got a mission to uphold. Next year involves a new character to cosplay from any of the various anime that I’ve finished and all-day photography from the minute the doors open on both days.

This year, as I wandered through the halls of the convention and escaped outside for a little while, I took note of the elaborate work needed to pull off some characters. Cosplaying is hard work, something to put dedication and efficiency into to make complete. And to my surprise, there were so many different series represented that I knew. I have never regarded myself as particularly knowledgeable about anime, but this year I recognized so many characters from series new and old that I finally felt anime smart. That has always been step No. 1 in improving my cosplay technique and efficiency.

Step No. 2 will come in the form of preparation. This year taught me a good lesson: Having a plan in place if you’re going to cosplay is a good idea. Also, it’s fine to cosplay by yourself. You don’t have to cosplay in a group and trying to coordinate costumes is all fine and well, but it’s not always feasible. One of the pitfalls of the weekend was the fact that I couldn’t attend both days with fellow GI member Brandon. Add to that the problem that when we did make it there the second day, it was near the end. I also ran into the problem of not being able to visit more of the panels that I had planned to see. If I’d stuck to my original plan, things might have turned out better. Planning is everyone’s friend.

The final step is dedication. I have realized that in recreating a character there has to be a high level of dedication to seeing it through until the end, the end being when I walk out of the convention hall for the final time. There were people who were completely in character, perfect down to the strands of hair placed correctly. That takes work folks. A lot of work. But if you’re going to do something such as dress as a completely ridiculous character, be prepared to go all the way or go home.

So, with my steps in mind, next year’s issue will be ready well ahead of time, and I’ll have all the time in the world to enjoy dressing up as some inane comic book or anime character I’ve only dreamed of being.

Lyndsey Hicks is the editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached at gicomics@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 6

Light learns a few lessons while wheeling and dealing in Death Note Vol. 6

Brandon-2012-cutoutWelcome back for another edition of Otaku Corner! As all of you know, this is my little corner of GI where I bring you the best in manga and anime that will keep you entertained and free from having reader’s remorse in time and money spent.

I’m continuing the most epic battle of wits mixed with a splash of ethics and a good pinch of the supernatural. We’re following up with Death Note, written by Tsugumi Ohba and drawn by Takeshi Obata.

Death Note volume six continues the story of Light Yagami, a high school genius who obtains a Death Note, a notebook belong to the death god Ryuk. With the Death Note and Ryuk, Light vows to rid the world of crime. However, when criminals worldwide began to die in record time, the ICPO calls in L, a legendary detective to bring in the serial killer. With L closing in each day, how long will Light be able to retain his noble goal and his life?

In volume six subtitled “Give and Take,” the task force was able to determine that Death Note Vol 6 coverthe new “Kira” has been working to commit murders among the Japanese business community that not only benefit himself, but also the Yosuba Group. However, there is debate among the task force members about the methods of capture, which causes a brief rift. Light and Ryuzaki decide to use Misa to further gain information on the current Kira and the seven Yosuba members’ plans. During an interview to become a Yosuba spokesperson, Misa was briefly reunited with her Death Note’s shinigami, Rem, who tells Misa not only about Light being the real Kira, but also reveals the current Kira: Higuchi.

Upon learning that Higuchi was the third Kira, Misa pretends to go on date with Higuchi while secretly recording him stating that he was behind the recent killings of Yosuba’s rivals and regular criminals. As a result, Ryuzaki plans to use Sakura TV to trap Higuchi using Matsuda as bait. When Higuchi discovers that Matsuda is still alive, he sets off a high-speed chase throughout Tokyo, while at the same time trying to kill Mastuda. In the end, Higuchi fails miserably as the task force and a small contingent of police officers led by Aizawa and Ide trap Higuchi, which leads to major changes for all of the main characters in the next volume.

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

Otaku Corner #11: Mezzo Vol. 1

Mezzo combines gunplay, teamwork in mystery-drama

Brandon Beatty, editor-at-large

Hello, my fellow otaku, welcome back to Otaku Cinema. This is the section of Otaku Corner where GI brings you the best anime this side of the rising sun. In a previous issue, I presented the classic anime series Robotech. Don’t worry, good otaku, I will do another review of this masterpiece in a future issue. Right now, I’m reviewing a “new classic” series where you can get “Kill Bill” plus your favorite PI TV all rolled into good anime. The result of this concoction: Mezzo: Danger Service Agency from the good folks at ADV films.

In this mystery/adventure series, Mikura Suzuki, Kenichi Kurokawa and Tomohisa Harada are a team known as the Danger Service Agency, an investigative agency known to take up any job, no matter how dangerous. And, in the first volume of Mezzo, the DSA delivered no-holds barred action in the first five episodes ranging from stopping a vengeful lover to uncovering Mikura’s past life. The DSA gets though unscathed all the while busting a few heads and getting paid in the process.

As far as action goes, I’m impressed by the

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

perfect mix of martial arts, arsenal of guns and bullets and the references to classic mob movies provided by the Mezzo project team under the direction of Yasuomi Umetsu. I also liked that in each Mezzo episode, you can get to know more about the team. Mikura is the combat/expert marks woman of the team who is VERY trigger happy and will deal a healthy amount of fear into those who cross her. She also has a unique ability to see into the future in brief glimpses. Kurokawa is an ex-police detective who is a pasta fanatic with contacts in setting up the team’s assignments, inside knowledge of the criminal underground and getting much-needed ammo, making him top banana.

Finally, Harada is the team IT guy/inventor who’s a genius in robotic tech and whose love for useful gadgets has pulled DSA out of many a scrap. ADV has added good stuff to the first volume of Mezzo such as clean opening/closing animation scenes, previews of future ADV releases and sketches of each episode from person to object. Also, what I really like about this DVD is that the English and Japanese recordings were processed in Dolby Digital Sound. Finally, the ADV cast of voice professionals really sealed the deal for me. Luci Christian, Andy McAvin and Jason Douglas performed the English dub perfectly. I would really be a complete idiot if I did not include Vic Mignogna, whose performance of the villainous barber Mugiyama was enough to make me want to background check my own barber.

Fellow otaku, Mezzo is a series that is ESSENTIAL to your collection. Unfortunately, at press time, ADV is not in business, and Mezzo’s owners has not authorized a reissue of the series stateside. But, if you do see a copy, pick it up, get comfortable and enjoy it. Or, Mikura and company will employ ways to ensure that you don’t live long enough to eat dinner.

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large of Gaming Insurrection. Contact him by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku Corner #10: Eagle Vol. 2

Political appeal comes through in second volume of Eagle

Brandon Beatty, editor-at-large

Welcome back to “Otaku Corner,” where GI showcases the best in Japanese comic art and animation. I am happy to announce that GI editor-in-chief Lyndsey Hicks Mosley will debut the Anime Lounge where she will review various anime that new and veteran fans will enjoy.

In a previous issue, I reviewed a manga that foretold the election of the first black president of the United States, Barack Obama. Now, in the spirit of the 2012 presidential election, I’m reviewing the second volume of that manga that not only showcases the main character as a unique underdog, but also shows what can result when Japanese comic art collides with American politics. This is “Eagle: The Making of an Asian-American President.”

In “Eagle Volume 2: Scandal,” by Kaiji Kawaguchi and published by Viz Media, the road to the White House continues as Kenneth Yamaoka, a third-generation Japanese-American senator from New York, vies for the Democratic nomination in the 2000 U.S. presidential race before the New Hampshire primary. Joining Kenneth for the whirlwind ride is the Photo courtesy of Amazon.comsecond main character, Takashi Jo, a Japanese reporter assigned to cover Yamaoka’s campaign. Jo early on learns that Yamaoka is his long-lost father as a result of an affair that Yamaoka had in Okinawa before heading into the Vietnam War. Upon arriving in Boston, Takashi is introduced to Yamaoka’s family where Takashi learns that his long-lost dad not only has strong financial backing, but also he has a kindred spirit in his adopted sister, Rachel, who is the press secretary for the campaign, and a younger brother, Alex, who is testing Takashi’s patience and skills as a journalist while trying to prove to his father that he can take the pressure of the political campaign. Meanwhile, as the campaign moves into Manchester, N.H., Yamaoka plots and succeeds in not only luring the Republican Party’s top strategist, but also derails a top Democratic rival’s campaign with proof of an affair.

“Eagle” has not missed a step ever since I started reading, thanks to a strong and fresh plot and characters. Kawaguchi retains his golden touch of combing fictional writing with real-world politics while presenting the possible future of a American minority who could hold the position of “leader of the free world.”

As a political wonk, “Eagle” appealed to me, showing that comics in general can have sway in readers’ opinions on certain world events. Credit goes to Carl Gustav Horn and Yuji Oniki for an excellent mix of adaption and translation of this political manga that has a deserving spot in my manga collection, but guarantees that otaku will want to grab this series and never let go.

Brandon Beatty can be reached by email at gicomics@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku Corner #09: Death Note Vol. 4

Death Note Vol. 4 slows action

Brandon Beatty, editor-at-large

Readers, welcome back to Otaku Corner. In this issue we continue to look at the worldwide smash manga series “Death Note.” For those that have just started to read Otaku Corner and Death Note, I would like to get you up to speed.

Death Note is the perfect blend of gothic horror fused with an intriguing storyline in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes, only this time it is in manga form. So far, I have reviewed three volumes of Death Note and took some time off to only review other animated series to keep from exhausting Death Note. So, hold one and get ready: Your friendly neighborhood otaku will once again present to you a battle of wits between high school achiever Light Yagami and ace detective L, two chosen men brought together by the Death Note, a notebook that will kill anyone whose name is written in it. Light aka Kira, who has one copy of the death note, vows to rid the world of violent criminals, while L vows to stop Kira’s numerous killing sprees and restore justice.

In the fourth volume of Death Note, written by Tsugumi Ohba, illustrated by Takeshi Obata and published by Viz Media, we last left L (aka Ryuzaki) and Light (Kira) recovering from an attack on TV news personalities. Light’s father, a top officer in Japan’s National Police Agency, was instrumental in uncovering evidence at a local TV station of a second Kira. As a result, the two dueling geniuses called a truce to track down the second Kira, who is later revealed as Misa Amane, a up-and-coming model/actress who not only has her own death note, but the shinigami with her, Rem, has given her the ability to see people’s true identities. The drawback is that it would cost half of her lifespan.

Light, as a member of Ryuzaki’s team and Kira, is found quickly by Misa who offers to help him kill L in exchange for Light becoming her boyfriend. Light, at first, tries to threaten Misa with death, but Rem threatens to kill if any harm falls upon Misa. At the same time, Light tries to balance life as Kira, an investigator and college student while plotting to kill L. When Misa arrives at Light’s college and tells him L’s real name, Light seems ready to declare victory. However, L’s wits strike again as Misa is taken into custody by the NPA and is held by L in an undisclosed location.

Light, noting that the odds are against him, acts on his plan to keep suspicion from himself and Misa by begging Ryuzaki to confine him for a period of time. Light’s father, Socihiro, protests Light’s decision, which results in him requesting confinement as well. L agrees to Soichiro’s request except that his confinement would be different in that Sochiro would still have access to information, while Light is separated and cut off.

DN Vol. 4 keeps all of the thrills and mystery intact, complete with the psychological tactics that L and Light use, which are associated with high risk and high rewards. L decides to go underground to protect himself, while Light, who has a an ally in Misa, ponders if she is either a liability or an asset to his plans as Kira.

Obata’s illustrations are still top notch, capturing every character’s emotion, while at the same time Obha’s story line remains flawless by keeping the fusion of supernatural and mystery elements intact. I also like the backstory to Misa in how she received her death note and Rem via another shinigami’s death in which Rem killed her stalker. In short, the fourth volume of Death Note, while short on high-octane action, continues its lure of preparing readers for the next action-filled volume.

Volume 4 has take a break from the fast-paced action and focuses mainly on emotions, yet continues the strong pace of supernatural horror and mystery. You should be warned that the action and mind games will pick up again in its high-paced style with even more twists and turns that will keep you guessing who has who. My fellow otaku, come back to “Otaku Corner” for more Death Note reviews. A piece of advice: be wary of the gothic blondes. They are VERY possessive.

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