Tag Archives: manga

Review: Higurashi Beyond Midnight Arc 1

Higurashi Beyond Midnight Arc 1

Story by Ryukishio7

Art by Mimori

Reviewed by JMD Reid

In 2006, twenty-three years after the Hinamizawa Disaster, a group of strangers find themselves meeting up in the ruins of the city. Each has their own reason for being there. Can they actually even trust each other. One claims to be Mion Sonozaki, a resident of the village; another is Ryunosuke, a tabloid journalist writing a story on the haunted village; Yae and her boyfriend Takumi who just happened to drive out to this village; and Otobe, who got out of the car with his friends to relieve himself only to find them gone when he returned.

It’s a stormy night as these strangers gather. Are they telling the truth about their motivation? Is the spirit or entity that caused the mysterious murders in the past still around? Or is it a human agent that lurks in the darkness.

Because it is clear that these characters are not alone. Something still haunts the ruins of Hinamizawa.

This scenario is a version of The Atonement Arc. We get a tease of what happens in this arc in the talk of a terrorist incident at a school and the students who were killed before the disaster. If you’ve read the series, Mion Sonozaki present won’t be a surprise. There are some other hints to the true cause peppered about.

However, if you read this story knowing what is going on, the tension is a little lacking. It’s interesting. The art is drawn in a way to accentuate the tension of the story. The angular look to the characters is effective at the task. It’s several mystery tales all rolled into one and the ending leaves you wondering what will happen next.

For an additional arc, it gives you a taste of the Answer arcs to come with those little tidbits that make sense when you know the entire story. Higurashi keeps being an excellent mystery/horror series. The tension builds great in this arc.

If you’re a fan of these type of stories, check out this series!

You can buy Higurashi Beyond Midnight Arc 1 from Amazon.

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Review: BERSERK Volume 22

BERSERK 22

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Guts has rescued Casca and returned her to Godo’s place only to learn that the old blacksmith has died. Rickert and Erica are excited to see Guts’s success while Guts is wondering what to do next. He’s rescued Casca while he suspects Griffith has been reborn in the chaos of Albion Monastery.

When a mysterious, silvery-haired figure has come to visit, Guts learns his suspicious are true. Griffith is back in the flesh, apparently human once more. Will Guts finally have his chance for revenge? Will Guts once again throw himself down the path of vengeance?

While Guts faces Griffith, the Kushan army’s invasion worsens. They are butchering the peoples of midland. But there are those who have faith that the White Hawk will save them. Will Griffith be these peoples’ saviors, or the damnation?

Miura shifts gears into the third part of Berserk, and the longest. This part still isn’t done. The art continues to be amazing. The characters emotions continue to shine as their passions collide. Miura’s storytelling continues to expand his world-building, laying the foundations for the new story lines to come.

If you’re a fan of Fantasy, you should be reading BERSERK! It only gets better and better!

You can buy BERSERK Vol 22 from Amazon.

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Review: Higurashi Time Killing Arc 2

Higurashi Time Killing Arc 2

Story by Ryukishio7

Art by Yoshiki Tonogai

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Akasaka, a detective investigating the kidnapping of Japan’s defense minister’s grandson, has come to Hinamizawa. The village, protesting the government’s plan to build a dam that will flood their valley, have grown violent. The long shot that they might have kidnapped the kid has paid off.

Akasaka has a lead.

With Oishi, a local cop, Akasaka heads out. He’s about to find that the men who have the minister’s son are not your average citizens. They are armed and dangerous. Will he be able to survive. Rika has already promised that he’ll regret not going home. Is he going to die to save the kid.

Well, no, we know he lives. This is him talking to Oishi seven years in the future. So what does Rika mean? What will Akasaka regret?

This chapter is intriguing. We have Rika with knowledge of the future. She knows events that always happens, including her own murder. Something is definitely wrong in Hinamizawa. We have plenty of suspects, but the clues are not lining up. This is the perfect ending to the Questions Arcs. We’ll transition to the Answer Arcs and see if our theories match up.

The story is poignant. Especially the parts in the present as Akasaka realizes that Rika’s predictions of the future all came true. That this poor girl was crying out for help and he was too wrapped up in his own grief and life to come to her aid.

Whatever is going on, Rika is at the center of it.

The art is beautiful. The story is poignant. It goes from the action pack fight to the surrealness of Rika. The story is great. It leaves you wanting more. Higurashi continue excelling as an intriguing and engaging mystery series!

You can buy Higurashi Time Killing Arc 2 from Amazon.

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Review: BERSERK Volume 21

BERSERK 21

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The built up torture and pain around Albion Monastery has combined with the wish of the Behleit Apostle. The negative energy surges through the refugees, consuming all who encounter it. Father Mozgus, transformed into a pseudo-apostle, sees himself as an avenging angel. He believes burning the witch will stop the madness.

Only problem, the witch is Casca.

Guts won’t let any touch the woman he loves. He has fought through so much pain to reach this moment. But Father Mozgus may prove too much for Guts to conquer. And even if he defeats the “angel” how can they survive the tide of darkness sweeping across everything, consuming all life it touches.

And at the heart, the Godhand watches on as something new is birthed into the world, the final wish of the dying Behleit Apostle.

Miura delivers one powerful ending to this volume. The action explodes across the pages. His art can depict the horror of the dark ooze dissolving all it touches to the titanic battle between Guts and Father Mozgus. The characters have to band together, helping each other. Guts can’t do it all on his own.

He’s gaining his own followers. Like before, he’s learning to rely on people. First Isidro, but soon others. And at the end, when the dust settles, we’re left wandering now what? Where does the story go from here?

Good thing we can keep reading.

Once again this series shows how amazing fantasy graphic novels can be. Any fan of fantasy will love this series. It brims with beautiful words, horrific monsters, and engaging characters. It has it all!

You can buy BERSERK Vol 21 from Amazon.

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Review: Higurashi Time Killing Arc 1

Higurashi Time Killing Arc 1

Story by Ryukishio7

Art by Yoshiki Tonogai

Reviewed by JMD Reid

In 1985, two years after the Hinamizawa Disaster, a detective named Akasaka learns that the young child he met seven years ago on a case was murdered in the shrine the night before the volcanic eruption released the toxic gas that wiped out the village.

The story flashes back to 1978, when the village of Hinamizawa is in the middle of protesting the dam project that would see their village flooded beneath an artificial lake. A high profile politician’s son was kidnapped and the village’s protest group, known to be violent, is suspected. Akasaka is sent to investiage. There he meets Rika Furude, a little girl respected by the village. Akasaka isn’t happy to be on this assignment since his wife is in the hospital with complications from her pregnancy.

He gets to know Rika as he’s given a tour and learns about the village. They seem friendly and he has a hard time believing they could be behind the kidnapping. That is until Rika suddenly begins talking like an adult and warning him that he should leave before he regrets it. She predicts that the dam project will fail within the year and he’ll only find grief if he stays.

Undaunted, Akasaka soon learns that his cover is blown and he maybe in danger from the Sonozaki family. Will he stay, or will he leave?

This short arc provides a lot of the back story. It shows us there is something up with Rika. She’s shown herself to have a surprising maturity at times in the story, dropping her girlish act. Now we see her giving threats to Akasaka that have the young detective unnerved.

This arc has mystery and gives us clues, providing a great transition from the question section of the series and the answer part. We see that the Hinimizawa disaster and Rika’s murder happen in multiple timelines since the Oishi of this timeline doesn’t go missing in the woods while investigating Teppei Hojo’s murder like in the last arc. It’s a hint towards what is going on, though we are still struggling to understand it.

There is something evil in Hinamizawa. The question is this: is it Oyashiro’s curse or is there a human culprit working in the background. We’ve had both the Sonozaki family put forth as the human cause, and the curse punishing the wicked on the other end. But the story is murky, and like all good mysteries, nothing is what it seems.

The art is great. Young Rika is adorable and the artist captures her childish glee and enthusiasm. It has a mellow story, but the tension slowly builds as new information is revealed, leading us towards the ending driving us towards the ending.

What will Akasaka find with Oishi?

Higuarshi is an intriguing and engaging series. The characters are likable, making you feel for them when things go wrong over and over again. You are rooting for these characters to survive one of these summers. Will they?

You’ll just have to read this series to find out.

You can buy Higurashi Time Killing Arc 1 from Amazon.

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Review: Higurashi Curse Killing Arc 2

Higurashi Curse Killing Arc 2

Story by Ryukishio7

Art by Jiro Suzuki

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The first volume, we have come to know Satoko. Keiichi’s surrogate big brother relationship was really sweet. But this is Higurashi, and the happiness between the friends can’t last. Doom falls on the gang in the form of the return of Satoko’s abusive uncle Teppei Hojo.

A vile man who abuses and degrades her. As Keiichi and his friends want to help the girl, they find out that even the adults in their lives are powerless. Their teacher has done all she can. The government finds no evidence of child abuse. Keiichi becomes more and more desperate as he sees Satoko swallowed up by pain and suffering.

And then he remembers Oyashiro’s curse. For the last four years, one person has been murdered and one person disappeared on the night of the Cotton Drifting Festival. Oyashiro, the shinto deity who protects the village, punishes those who try to harm it.

So why not Teppei Hojo this year?

Not wanting to relay on the nebulous “curse,” Keiichi plans to use the superstition to his advantage. He’ll save Satoko. He’ll murder Teppei Hojo.

This is one of the most heartbreaking stories to read. The artist and writer have captured the way Satoko crumbles beneath the abuse, how she tries to be strong, to pretend nothing is going wrong even as she grows more and more dead, wliting. The bubbly, happy, outgoing girl crushed beneath Teppei’s curelty. It crashes into the unfairness of the world. Into the grinding pace of a government bureaucracy. Into the limitations of modern life to defend your neighbors.

Keiichi’s transition from student to murderer makes sense. It flows down the path. You’re rooting for him, so it’s so tragic when it all goes wrong. And that ending. That gut punch at the shrine then the “disastor” only makes you have more question.

Just what happens in this village? What is going on wrong? Why did the disaster happen this time and not in the last scenario. Mion no longer seems to be in charge of the killings like she was last time. But once again, Tomitaki dies and Takano is murdered/goes missing. Only this time, we get something more with her. Something sinister.

For the most part, the art is better in this volume. The style fits the more depressing shift in the story. There were a few times it didn’t work, like with Takano. All in all, this was a powerful story. It leaves you hoping there is a way out for these friends, to survive the summer of 1983. This is the last of the question arcs. Up next is an arc to get some back story and set up the ending, and a filler one that gives us a spooky story set in the aftermath of this arc.

You can buy Higurashi Curse Killing Arc 2 from Amazon.

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Review: BERSERK Volume 19

BERSERK 19

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Guts has arrived at Albion Monastery to find Caska, accompanied by the young Isidora. Though he finds Lucia and has a lead on Caska, he is too late. The cult who think Casca is their witch has already snagged her. Now he has to race against time to secure Casca before Farnesse and her Holy Iron Chain Knights raid the heretics lair.

Worse, night is about to fall and the evil spirits that swarm around Casca will be searching for hosts. Franesse, her knights, and Guts are in for a fight as demonic spirits surge. And through it all, the eyes continue to watch and the tortures led by Mozgus continue to brutalize their captives.

Evil builds at Albion as night falls. The trap has been laid and snaps shut.

19 is a wild ride. You are right there with Guts, so hopeful that he’s finally found Casca only for the cowardly Nina to ruin everything. Miura does a great job in this volume from the action, to Guts’s duel with Serpico on the ledge. The action is building as the various characters are all thrust into the crucible. Isidora shows his mettle, too.

Then the real action begins. Miura has our characters in peril. He has you wanting to read more. Volume 19 propels the story forward and leaves you wanting more. I want to dive right into volume 20! If you’re a fan of fantasy, you should check out the BERSERK graphic novel series!

You can buy BERSERK Vol 19 from Amazon.

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Review: Higurashi Curse Killing Arc 1

Higurashi Curse Killing Arc 1

Story by Ryukishio7

Art by Jiro Suzuki

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Once again, everything has reset. Keiichi (newly moved to the village three weeks back) has just returned from that two day trip back to Tokyo. Things appear to be playing out the same as the last two times only now we’re focusing more on Satoko. Things have shifted, allowing Keiichi to get to know Satoko before.

She’s adorable beneath her hyperactive facade. She’s looking for love, abandoned by her family who have died or vanished. In Keiichi, she’s finding what she lost a year ago when her older brother Satoshi “transferred schools.” Satoshi and Keiichi have a great relationship. The playfulness and bit of sibling rivalry is capture well, along with a level of affection that will inform the second half of this story.

As always, Keiichi learns of the villages dark secret and Oyashiro’s curse. Clues are dropping as we, the reader, are struggling to understand what is truly going on. What leads to these “demonic” possession and the friends turning on each other in horrible ways.

Beneath it all lurks something nefarious. A woman has been found brutally murdered. The police are investigating. It’s something new to story. Is this the even that triggers off this scenario? How does these events relate. The questions are building and building.

The mystery of Hinamizawa continues.

Now, while the story is sweet and heartwarming (for now), there’s a problem using different artist for the scenarios. The last two produced some great, high-quality art, the characters looked great. This artist isn’t as skilled. The characters are little more cheaply drawn and less detailed. It’s a shame because I think the last artist could have really captured Satoko and Keiichi’s relationship better.

Still, this is a great series. The characters continue to be great, their personalities consistent (until things start going crazy). The clues to what is going on are scattered throughout, placed so well it’s only in hindsight that you can really make sense of the true story happening in the background.

If you’re a fan of mystery and horror, Higurashi is one of the best manga (and properties) in the genre. You can’t go wrong with reading the original visual novels, playing the game, watch the anime, or read the manga, you can’t go wrong.

You can buy Higurashi Curse Killing Arc 1 from Amazon.

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Review: BERSERK Volume 18

BERSERK 18

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Guts is on the trail of the missing Casca. His lover, her mind broken by the brutality of the eclipse, has escaped from her refuge and wanders like a child. Abandoning his quest, Guts has realized what is truly important to him. What does killing Griffith matter if Casca suffers?

Around Albion Keep, refugees arrive, fleeing plague and war. The Kushan have invaded the midlands, the Easterners butchering all before them. Starving and needing sustenance, they turn to the church. But Mozgus, the inquisitor, has now sympathy for their plight. He is here to do Gods work, punishing the wicked and rooting out heresy. There is no forgiveness in his heart. All who are wicked are tortured, purified of their sins.

In Albion, horrors are performed in the name of God that would rival the acts of the demons of the world.

Farness and her Holy Chain Knights are keeping order while a group of prostitutes have taken in “Elaine,” as they call Casca. She’s in as much danger from the church as the demons as she wanders through the suffering in innocence. Can Guts arrive before tragedy strikes.

And what does such a gathering of people portend? Have the Godhand summoned them all for the slaughter.

The world continues to be brutal as we are shown just how much of a monster Mozgus is while doing “good.” He has found a way to justify his evil in the name of god. He has no compassion in his heart for the starving refugees. They should just do God’s work, even if it means dying. Because their reward will be found in the next life. He’s one of the most depraved characters in the book. If any one is a secret demon in this part of the story, it’s him.

And despite that, Miura shows a moment of humanity in him, like he has with many of the monsters. The count, Rosine, and now Mozgus. They don’t seem themselves as monsters even if their actions are horrendous.

Human weakness is on full display. Fear and lust, zealotry and flagellation. From Farness to Nina, we’re shown how circumstances bend and twist us. We all make decisions we regret. We all do acts that later horrify us. It takes a brave artist to bare that part of the human soul to the world.

This is why BERSERK stands apart from the other fantasy manga out there. It’s powerful and visceral storytelling that any fan of fantasy, especially grimdark fantasy, should read!

You can buy BERSERK Vol 18 from Amazon.

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Review: Higurashi Cotton Drifting Arc 2

Higurashi Cotton Drifting Arc 2

Story by Ryukishio7

Art by Yutori Houjyou

Reviewed by JMD Reid

It’s the night of the Cotton Drifting Festival. Keiichi Maebara, newcomer to the village, wants to watch the ceremony, but Shion (twin sister of Keiichi’s friend Mion) wants to show him something. They find two individuals breaking into the sacred storeroom for the shrine. With everyone in the village watching the ceremony, it’s the perfect time to break in.

Inside, Keiichi learns the dark past of Hinamizawa. A history of human torture of those who break the rules. For the last four years, the village has been punishing those who supported the dam project that would have seen village destroyed.

This year, they’ll have to punish the four people who entered the sacred shrine.

As Keiichi realizes just how bad the situation is when he learns that the two people who broke into the shrine with him and Shion have been murdered. Worse, other people whom Keiichi and Shion confided in have gone missing. It’s clear the secret leadership of Hinamizawa is cleaning house. How much longer before they come for Keiichi?

While the first volume of this story is rather peaceful, things ramp up fast in here. Paranoia sets in and things get nuts. After the last volume, we saw that Mion and Rena were possessed by demons. It seems that same force is at work as we learn more about the history of the village. The tragedy plays out to the bitter end. The horror is intense.

But it’s all so tragic. Once again, close friendships have ended in bloody murder. The culprit is different, but the results are just the same. There is something wrong with this village. What is the truth of what is going on?

What will happen when the time resets for the next arc? As always, look for the things that stay the same. There are little clues for what is really going on.

This arc, while tragic, is well done in what it’s purpose is. Ryukishio7 has created a scenario that serves to fuel the mystery. The art is great. I especially like the color drawings at the start. I like how they use different artists for the arcs, matching them up with the corresponding answer arc.

You can buy Higurashi Cotton Drifting Arc 2 from Amazon.

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