[Manga] Shinrei Tantei Yakumo – Akai Hitomi wa Shitteiru

A manga adaptation of Kaminaga Manabu’s novel of the same name, Shinrei Tantei Yakumo tells the stories of Saitou Yakumo who is born with a red left eye that enables him to see ghosts and spirits alike. However, he does not have the ability or power to exorcist them to complement his ability to see them.

After hearing some rumours that Yakumo has spiritual abilities, Ozawa Haruka consulted or rather, “hired” him to solve a case involving her three friends who met with misfortunes (one went into coma, another mysteriously disappeared, and the third one had supposedly committed suicide) after entering a deserted house said to be haunted just for the fun of it.

From that point onwards, they got closer as they solve many more mysteries to come…

  • Case #1: The Locked Room – The deserted house in question was haunted by a woman who had been left in the basement to death. Bloody scratches are all over the basement that indicates that the woman must have been struggling to get out of her confinement. The woman is one of the student in the university and she had an affair with a professor and when he called it quits, she wouldn’t have it and threatened to reveal their affair to his wife. In desperation, he accidentally killed her or so he thought. She was actually alive but thinking that she was dead, he placed her in the basement where she eventually died. Coincidently, Haruka’s friends was at the scene of the crime and the professor had no choice but to silent them for good; it was fortunate for the girl who only landed in the hospital and the guy who went missing was actually hiding but not so fortunate for the guy who had supposedly committed suicide; he was murdered by the professor and was passed on as a suicide case.
  • Case #2: The Dark Tunnel – Ghosts and spirits of hit-and-run victims manifest in this tunnel and driving motorists to their death. Yakumo saw a spirit of a woman bleeding in her forehead, possibly a victim of hit-and-run. They found a body of a woman who had been thrown down the cliff to cover the fact that she was a victim of hit-and-run. Later, they also found out that an acquaintance of Haruka who has been haunted by a ghost of a boy is actually the culprit in a hit-and-run case where the boy was the victim. He had left the boy under a tree and throw in some branches so that it appears that the boy died from falling off the tree rather than from being hit by a car. His reasoning is that by the time they reach the hospital the boy would have died anyway from the serious injuries and that it’s not worth it to destroy his future just because of an accident. (My inner thought: heartless person like that should just rot in prison =.=)
  • Case #3: Message from the dead – Haruka’s close friend, Shiori suddenly appeared in front of Haruka in spirit form. Fearing the worst, she called her on the cell phone and rushed to her apartment but still couldn’t find her. At the same time, Yakumo’s police detective friend told him that he is investigating a murder case where a charred body of a woman said to be Katou Emiko is found. After some investigations, they found out that Shiori was having an affair with Emiko’s husband who is also dead of poisoning. It only made sense that she who had an affair with the deceased husband is the murderer in both cases. As it turned out, Emiko is very much alive and the charred body that they found is actually Shiori who was pregnant at the time of her death. Emiko had been conspiring with her brother-in-law to fake her death with Shiori as her stand-in and with that, her brother-in-law would be able to collect the inheritance money left by her husband and they would split it between them. The plan appears to be foolproof except that the charred body belongs to someone who had been pregnant at the time of her death and Emiko is said to be barren; in short, the body couldn’t have been Emiko’s.

Interesting read, this manga is. Some may say that it is similar to Ghost Hunt but I would say that this one shines in its own way. I wouldn’t say that it’s better than Ghost Hunt but it is a good read nonetheless. Nice artwork, interesting characters and simple storyline that doesn’t bore you half to death with long explanations. A good read when you’re not in for heavy reading. Too bad that it lasted only in two volumes…it would be great if there’s more.

[Anime] Bakemonogatari

Bakemonogatari In English Bakemonogatari is literally translated as ghostory and thinking that it is a ghost story, my interest has somewhat peaked; and moreover, seeing as there isn’t much interesting anime for this summer season, I don’t see why not give this a shot.

Tried as I might, by the fourth episode, I decided to put it on hold. It just does not live up to my expectations but then again, there are some who find it interesting. Maybe it’s just me who’s not used to this type of anime, or to be more precise, the way the anime is presented. Plus, the pantyshot scene (among many other “fanservice”) turned me off.

Watching Bakemonogatari triggers my sense of déjà vu for somehow, this anime reminds me of another…

Right. Come to think of it, I remember reading somewhere that the studio that produces Bakemonogatari is the same one that produces Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. It’s no wonder that I find Bakemonogatari somewhat familiar. And in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei’s case, I didn’t manage to finish this off either no matter how good the reviews that it receive. Do I even need to mention that the premise of the story (Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei) is interesting but it somehow didn’t meet my expectations? Then again, it’s probably just me. One more similarity between these two animes: the voice actor for the main character of Bakemonogatari is Hiroshi Kamiya who is also the voice actor for Itoshiki Nozomu (the depressing high school teacher who constantly thinks of suicide) of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei.

Anyways, back to Bakemonogatari…

Bakemonogatari, or loosely translated as ghostory in English is about this high school student Araragi Koyomi who became a human again after he became a vampire (??). One day, out of the blue, he stumbled upon Senjogahara Hitagi who fell down the stairs and into his arm. Surprisingly for him, Senjogahara weights next to nothing or is as though as if she is weightless which is impossible.

Later on, he learnt that Senjogahara became weightless after she encountered a mysterious crab (??). To help her solve her problem of her being weightless, he brought her to Oshino Meme who had once helped him became human again after being made into a vampire.

After some weird rituals, Oshino managed to help Senjogahara get her weight back. From then onwards, Senjogahara hangs around with Araragi (and they became fast friends?). If you think that weirdness stops there, think again as more peculiarities ensue.

At one glance, yeah, Bakemonogatari does look awfully interesting but somehow I got bored of it. On a second thought, I might just finished it off once the series is completed…who knows, I might just like it (the same case applies to Ga-rei Zero).

On a random note, I like the ending theme Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari by Supercell featuring Nagi 🙂

[Anime] Ga-rei Zero

In the distant future, Japan seems to be infested by monsters and as such, the Ministry of Defense has established a special group called the Paranormal Disaster Countermeasure Headquarters just to deal with these paranormal creatures.

Tsuchimiya Kagura and Isayama Yomi both hail from distinguished families that have been wielding spiritual beasts for centuries. It is a duty for those who inherit spiritual beasts to use it against the said paranormal creatures, and in the event of their fathers’ deaths, they both inherited the spiritual beasts as well as the duty to rid the world of supernatural creatures.

Kagura and Yomi were childhood friends, they were as close as they can get to the point that screams “yuri!!!!!” but then all hell broke lose one day.

Yomi’s cousin, Mei was envious of Yomi who will inherit the Isayama family’s heirloom, a sword called Shishio. It was unthinkable that Yomi who doesn’t have a drop of Isayama blood in her veins get to inherit the sword whereas she, the one with Isayama bloodline running in her veins is denied of such privilege. With anger and jealousy built up within her, she was enticed into accepting the death stone. This stone promises its user great power but in the process, the user’s soul will be consumed by the stone. Mei, already consumed by the stone started killing Yomi’s father and eventually going after Yomi as well later on but she was killed by Yomi in the end. Right after killing Mei, Yomi confronted the true source of Mei’s madness, Kazuhiro Mitogawa who gave Mei the death stone. After the confrontation, Yomi was found severely injured and has then lost the ability to move and speak…she was nothing but a living doll. In the event of her father and Mei’s death, suspicions that Yomi may be the murderer arises. To top it all off, the Izunas cancelled of her engagement with Noriyuki whom she loved dearly. With all that shit, she is bound to burst anytime and somewhere along the way, Kazuhiro appeared again and this time around, he had successfully enticed Yomi into accepting the death stone and ever since then, everything changes.

With Yomi going berserk, her former colleagues were given the task of exterminating her, her former fiancé, Noriyuki included. Given that they both had history together, it is inevitable that killing Yomi is an impossible task for Noriyuki, the same can be said for Kagura who had tough time killing her as well.

It appears that there was a tiny bit of conscience within Yomi. She started to question herself – did the stone really grant her wish? If so, did the stone really know what her wish was? Her true wish was to protect Kagura from harm even if she was the cause of harm…with that, she died in Kagura’s hands.

Fast forward two years later, we see Kagura and Kensuke (who eventually became the main protagonist in the manga) battling a monster at the Tokyo Tower.

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My Thoughts:

I was already following the manga before the anime was out and before I knew it, I got bored (with the manga) and I put it on hold for a while. Watched the anime Ga-rei Zero and by the sixth episode I decided to stop there ‘cos I’m not accustomed to watching yuri. There are hints of yuri, all right! And plus, since this anime is targeted at shounen audience, there are some “fan service” that I’m not too keen on (probably because I’m not a guy). That was a couple of months back, and yesterday, I finally watched it till the end…I’m glad I did. Hmm…I still can’t stand Mei’s bitchiness though, and come to think of it, if it wasn’t for her, Yomi wouldn’t go bad…boohoo!

Putting all that yuri stuff aside, the show is action-packed, fast-paced and not to mention, gory what with all the bloodbaths. Cool. At least for me, this is enjoyable compared to mecha-based animes (will have to give it another shot when I have the time…Code Geass or Gundam maybe?).

Ga-rei Zero served as a prequel to the manga version of the series, and it really does a fine job in detailing the stuffs that happened prior to the main storyline of the manga, especially the details on how Yomi became what she is the manga, to be more precise, how she went bad. And oh, did I mention that I see an eye-candy in Kensuke (episode 12)? Haha! Noriyuki isn’t too bad either…I like his personality better in the manga.

I’m quite satisfied with Ga-rei Zero and now I’m off to the manga…ciao!

[Anime] Tactics

Necratoholic is one awesome vampire-yaoi manga that I had come across a while back. Not to mention that the bishounens are well-drawn. Naturally, when you like a certain work by a particular mangaka, you tend to search for his/her other works and that was how I came across Tactics by the same author of Necratoholic.

Tactics is a “joint venture” between mangakas Kinoshita Sakura and Kazuko Higashiyama (whose penname is Wasabi Maguro as yaoi mangaka). If I recall correctly, they each came up with a character design – Kantarou and Haruka.

There’s an anime adaptation and honestly, I have yet to read the mangas but I do however, completed watching all 25 episodes of the anime.

Kantarou has the ability to see and communicate with youkais since he was little. Since he’s weak and small, more than often he got bullied and he would confide in his youkai friends. From his youkai friends, he found out that there’s a great oni-eating tengu out there but is sealed due to its violent nature and ever since then he has been on lookout for him and hoping that he’ll get to meet it someday and unseal it. True enough. He found the rock where he was supposedly sealed in and managed to release it. He then named the infamous oni-eating tengu as Haruka and thus, bind it to him on a contract. You see, when a youkai is given a name, it is automatically bind to its master, the person who give it a name. As such, Haruka has no choice but to follow Kantarou’s order(s) as his master.

Much of the series focused on Kantarou’s youkai-busting jobs. Some youkais are bad-natured and as such, in cases like this, Kantarou is called upon to exorcise it. Seeing as he is weak at times, Haruka acts as his bodyguard and accompanied him to job site at all times. He does have a day job – a folklore writer and as one, he has put Reiko, his editor in much stress.

Other interesting characters include:

  • Youko – a lonely youkai who pretended to be Kantarou’s husband. Kantarou of course realised this but being kind-hearted as he has always been, he took her into the household and ever since then Youko has been doing his house chores diligently and even cooked for him.
  • Suzu – a little girl who has been following him (even to job sites) since…(I don’t remember when). She had quite a crush on Haruka (so does most of the girls throughout the series). In the end of the series, the truth about her is revealed…
  • Hasumi Ryoukan – a fellow expert of the same field as Kantarou. He however, dismissed the existence of youkais to the extend of referring one as foreigner when he does in fact, sees Muu-chan, a youkai. Source of comic relief at times. Lol.
  • Rosalie – Hasumi’s adoptive daughter whom he first met on his assignment in London. She does have spiritual power of her own and is easily possessed.
  • Sugino – a youkai, Muu-chan’s husband. A white tengu (Haruka’s a black tengu).

tactics

My thoughts:

In the beginning of the series, there doesn’t seem to be much plot development, it’s more on Kantarou and co.’s youkai-busting actions. Thankfully, the real plot started to show by the 14th episode (if I remember correctly).

Almost every fangirls out there are literally screaming for more Haruka x Kantarou. Haha. From my point of view, there’s no indication or whatsoever that Tactics has BL themes in it but the fangirl in me saw some hints pointing to Haruka and Kantarou’s “closeness” (or was it just pure friendship?). Still, the creators of Tactics did managed to tease us fangirls with hints of shounen-ai between our favourite characters, Haruka and Kantarou. Lol.

And to top it all of, the seiyuu for Haruka is Takahiro Sakurai who happened to be my favourite (since D.Gray-man’s Kanda Yu). His voice gives out the manly and stoic impression and often, he voices cool anime characters. I still, however, can’t imagine that the voice of Junjou Romantica’s Misaki is his…oh well…

In conclusion, Tactics isn’t the anime that I would consider to watch again but it was enjoyable the first time nonetheless.

[Manga] The World God Only Knows

I like the premise of the series – a boy who hates girls in general but is forced to make girls fall for him? This sounds interesting.

The World God Only Knows (Kami no Mizo Shiru Sekai)

Katsuragi Keita is obsessed with dating simulation games. In his hand, there’s always at least a PFP (it does looked awfully a lot like a Sony PSP) with one of his dating simulation game on, even in class to the point that his teachers no longer care. In the game world, he’s the kamisama (God) of capturing (girls in the dating sim, that is) but in real life, he hates them and perceive them as less than perfect than their virtual counterparts and thus, he’s known as otamegane (a combination of otaku and glasses (megane)).

Along came Elsie, a devil from hell who is tasked with capturing runaway spirits. Here’s the thing, these spirits hide within girls’ hearts. Keita entered into a contract with Elsie unwittingly and thus he is to make those girls fall in love with him in order to release those spirits from the girls’ body.The logic is, once the girls’ heart is filled with love, there will be no space for these spirits to live in. After the runaway spirits residing in those girls’ body is released and contained, the girls’ memories of ever interacting with Keita is then erased.

As the series go along, Keita interacts with host of female characters which include his classmates and even his teacher.

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My thoughts:

My first thought was, there are hardly any ecchi elements (common in most shounen mangas) at all. Not too fond of ecchi though, as a matter of fact, it turns me off (probably because I’m not a guy?). I’m glad that it’s almost nonexistent.

Elsie may be a devil but she’s a clumsy and incompetent one at that! More than often she became the source of joke. For instance, to stay closer to Keita, she actually went to his house and proclaimed that she’s the illegitimate daughter of Keita’s father which of course prompted Keita’s mom to contact and threaten Keita’s dad (his mother is supposedly a former member of a gang in her younger days). Instead of throwing a fit and shooing a certain “pest” out of the house, Keita’s mom became affectionate towards Elsie and accept her into the household. Lol.

If you’re looking for fun and entertainment, you should try this out. I’m in purely for the fun and not some serious reading.

Cheers!

[Anime] Natsume Yuujinchou

From the drawing and mellow songs as its opening and ending themes, I thought that this one is gonna be a bore. Storyline is good and it has this sentimental feeling, if you get what I mean and it turned out good – left me with warm feelings inside. And come to think of it, the drawing is really beautiful.

Natsume Takashi has the ability to see youkais (spirits) since he was little. His late grandmother, Reiko also had the same ability.

Natsume is an orphan and is often tossed from one relative to another. They thought that there’s something seriously wrong with him what with him kept saying that he sees things that ordinary human beings can’t. Adults around him thinks that he say all those “nonsense” just to get their attention.

After being tossed from one family to another, he finally ended up with the kind Fujiwaras. From that point on, he decided to keep his ability a secret so as to not burden his foster parents who were so kind enough to take him in. Unfortunately for him, his ability can be quite a hindrance sometimes.

After the death of Reiko, Natsume inherited her “book of friends” or what you would refer to as yuujinchou. The book of friends isn’t any ordinary book. It contains the names of youkais that Reiko had collected when she won the duels with those youkais. With their names, one can just summon any of the youkais to do his/her bidding or even kill the youkai itself. Because of this, Natsume is pursued by just about every youkais in his neighbourhood; each of them either wanted to get their names back or to obtain the book for themselves and among those youkais is Madara.

Madara is a powerful and strong spirit but due to some reasons (which I don’t remember), his power has weakened and he is not able to assume his normal form permanently and instead he takes the appearance of a cat.

Unable to obtain the book from Natsume, they made a deal that after Natsume’s death, the book will be given to Madara. And may I add, due to his current appearance of a cat, Natsume named him Nyanko-sensei and from then on, Madara is to be his bodyguard against spirits that intends to harm him until his death.

Some random images of the series taken from various sources on the internet (I do not own these images):

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From episode 4 of Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou (it is so adorable, don’t you just wanna hold this little guy in your palms?):

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For your knowledge, this little guy pictured here is a tatsumi (if I recall correctly), a type of youkai similar to dragons in which they are left on their own once they are born. Once hatched, tatsumis will take on the appearance of the very first living creature they see (in this case, it’s Natsume) and when they are old enough, they assume their actual form.

Note: thank goodness that Nyanko-sensei isn’t the first thing that this little guy saw. lol.

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Natsume Yuujinchou is based on a manga series of the same name by Midorikawa Yuki and is licensed in English by Viz.

[J-Drama] Vampire Host

I enjoyed Kaori Yuki’s Bloodhound and looking for more of it even. Too bad it only lasted for 4 chapters. But hey, there’s a live action TV series based on the manga  renamed as Vampire Host (a.k.a Vampire Gigolo).

vampirehost 

Similar to its manga counterpart, the story opens with Rion, a high school girl in search for her missing best friend, Shiho. The only clue she has is the name card of a certain vampire host club and the last telephone call from her asking for help and that the vampire, a real vampire has her (Shiho). Her search leads her to Kranken Haus (it sounds German to me), a host club banking on women’s fascination with vampirism. There, she met Suou, one of the host in Kranken Haus (in the manga, he was the owner of the host club) and also a true vampire. Convinced that Suou definitely know something of Shiho’s whereabouts, she broke an expensive Don Perignon liqour on purpose (in order to be hired as a part-timer in the host club so that she could keep and eye on Suou whom she suspected had something to do with Shiho’s disappearance) and was subsequently hired by the host club boss as a part-timer in order to pay off what she had broke. One thing leads to another and in the end, it was found that the culprit is their (Rion and Shiho’s) high school teacher who has a certain fetish with blood (ewwwww).

In the live action series, the story doesn’t end there.

Rion continues to work at Kranken Haus and never fails to tease Suou by calling him “eternally-number-two” for failing to secure the top spot as the top host every time and whenever Suou pisses her off, she would simply give him a kick. As the story goes on, more mysteries popped up. There’s a werewolf, a so-called witch, a shinigami (God of death), an invisible man stalker in which they all amounted to nothing in the end. And along the way, it appears that the once indifferent (towards human, that is) Suou seemed genuinely care for Rion and even worries for her safety at some point.

Note: In the manga, it is found that Rion is actually the reincarnation of a woman whom Suou is in love with long ago.

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My thoughts:

The part where Suou transform into a super-vampire  is tad unnecessary. The transformation scene alone took about a minute or two and he will say the same old line over and over again (it annoyed Rion to no end. lol.). It looks superficial and kinda reminded me of Sailormoon. And oh, Suou’s personality also reminded me of another host, Ouran High School Host Club’s Tamaki. Lol. 

And also the sound effect sounded so wrong. If I hear correctly, the sound effect that was played during Suou’s transformation sounds like that of a roaring tiger/lion/whatever. It doesn’t sound vampire-like at all.

Overall, in my opinion, Vampire Host is just a cheesy offering and sort of entertaining if you don’t take it too seriously.

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Note:

There are 12 episodes in total (6 stories) and the series is licensed in English as Bloodhound by Bandai Entertainment.