Manga adaptation of Fûtaro Yamada’s novel Against the gods, set in Tokugawa-era Japan. To settle a dispute, the Tokugawa rulers arrange a match between two rival ninja clans, each represented by their ten best ninja. The chapters proceed in a quick, bloody elimination, with each group plotting to eliminate the other in the most underhanded fashion (as opposed to the typical ritualistic manga fighting tournament). Meanwhile, caught in the middle are Oboro and Gennosuke, star-crossed lovers torn apart by the war between their respective clans. The real attraction is Segawa’s artwork, which uses obviously computer-generated backgrounds to focus attention on the foreground action involving grotesque superpowered ninja: a limbless ninja who crawls like a worm, a woman whose blood oozes from her pores and turns into fog, a spider ninja who spits gluelike phlegm. Solid, inventive action violence.
Hobbyist manga involving a rebellious fishing pro who gives up the big time to go back to small-town life. Ranmaru competes in fishing competitions, provides readers with fishing tips and techniques, and promulgates a nostalgic, pseudo-mystical appreciation of the art of bass fishing. The manga does a good job of explaining key terms (heavy fishing jargon permeates every chapter), but as a general read it’s predictable and uncompelling. The e-book also suffers from a number of glaring typos.
Shônen manga meets Dungeons & Dragons meets Kill the lights. Besieged by armies of orcs and lizard men, the defenders of the kingdom of Meta-Rikana (aka “Metallicana”) unleash their secret weapon: the fiendish sorcerer Dark Schneider, whose powers can be unlocked only by a virgin’s kiss. Although Bastard!!’s central character dynamic is similar to that of Inu-Yasha—a former villain is magically bound to obey a young girl—Dark Schneider is far more destructive, an extremely horny, extremely foulmouthed bad-ass who kills everybody and makes fun of his corny enemies in self-referential “What’s up, doc?” fashion. He also looks like a long-haired metalhead and frequently goes around naked. Originally published in Weekly Shônen Jump (watch Dark Schneider turn defeated enemies into pals), Bastard!! was later moved to magazines for an older readership, possibly because of Hagiwara’s obvious pleasure at baiting censors with increasingly sleazy and finally pornographic humor. Halfway through the series, the story takes an abrupt turn into the realm of angels and devils, almost like Angel Sanctuary. The artwork starts out terrible but slowly improves after volume 4, eventually becoming unbelievably polished; however, the plot is a train wreck, and many important details are told only in Hagiwara’s untranslated dôjinshi. Most of the names are heavy metal music references. In Japan, the early volumes of Bastard!! were rereleased in a “Complete Edition” with heavily redrawn art and much more explicit sex, but Viz’s English edition uses the original, tamer art in places.