Tag Archives: Review

Review: Higurashi Abducted by the Demon Arc 1

Higurashi Abducted by the Demon Arc 1

Story by Ryukishio7

Story by Karin Suzuragi

Reviewed by JMD Reid

“Please don’t be sad,

Even if the world doesn’t forgive you, I will forgive you.

Please don’t be sad,

Even if you don’t forgive the world, I will forgive you.

So please tell me,

What shall I do so that you’ll forgive me.”

—Frederica Bernkastel

If you know the story the above poem that opens the series is stunning. Who is Frederica Bernkastel? What is going on in his series? You’ll have to read to find out.

Keiichi Maebara is newly transferred to the sleepy mountain village of Hinamizawa in the summer of 1983. He’s quickly made friends with some of the local girls, Rena, Satako, Rika, and their leader, Mion. He feels like he has a new life. A new start from living in the city of Tokyo.

But there is something dark lurking beneath the surface of Hinamizawa, a dangerous past that his new friends are hiding from him. Why don’t they want him to know the truth of the village? What are the concealing from him?

As Keiichi discovers more of the village, can he truly trust his new friends? Are Rena and Mion wanting to protect him, or are they setting him up to be the next victim?

Higurashi is a rather interesting story. IT starts out light and fun, the characters introduced well. They have a fun atmosphere, hyper-competitive but in a good-hearted way. You can see that they know each other and are welcoming the newcomer Keiichi.

And then he hears rumors about the village’s past. Suddenly his friends are acting weird. A sense of unease slowly pervades the story. Paranoia steps in as things grow more and more dire. The story has a mystery that keeps you reading while the characters keep you engaged. What is going on? What will happen? Are Rena and Mion truly his friends, or are they something else?

These questions will be begging to be answered over the course of this manga.

The art is great, bouncing between the playful to the tense with skill. The artist captures both with ease. If you’ve played the doujin visual novel this is based off of, you’ll see the story is being faithfully adapted.

Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni is one of the best mystery series in Japanese pop culture. Whether it’s the anime, the original doujin novels, or this manga series, it’s worth checking out!

You can buy Higurashi Abducted by the Demon Arc 1 from Amazon.

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Reveiw: Darkblade Savior(Hero of Darkness 6)

Darkblade Savior(Hero of Darkness 6)

by Andy Peloquin

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The Hunter has finally reached Enarium and he has finally found his wife. The mysterious woman who has haunted his memory, vestige of life he lived before his memory was repeatedly whipped for the last five thousand years.

But is Taiana the same woman he loved. Can he trust the woman who plunged a dagger into his chest despite what he feels for her? Does he have much choice? Because the world is about to end. The demonic Sage has also arrived in Enarium. His forces hold the city. The energy gathers in its bowels.

Soon, it will be unleashed along with the Destroyer.

The Hunter will have to figure out what is going on, how to save the young boy Hailien, and stop the Sage from unleashing the embodiment of entropy onto the world? After all the Hunter has learned, he’s about to discover he knows nothing.

This concludes the first arc of the Hunter’s story. And it is amazing. The story flows form twists and turns, peeling back the obscuring millennia that has hidden the truth of the story. The characters are great. Peloquin has already made you care for the Hunter and Hailien, now he has new characters to flesh out. You ache for the Hunter and his wife to have their reunion, but not even you the reader can trust her. It gives a sense of impending doom looming over everything. That one false step, and it will all come crashing down.

This series was a satisfying read. It hurtled you along, carrying you from one breathless action piece to the next. Each one built and built towards the epic conclusion. It was a great ride, and I’m glad that the Hunter story isn’t over. I’m eager to see where the story goes next!

Fans of fantasy, you have to check out one of the up and comers in the indie fantasy market! Andy’s works are astounding!

You can buy Darkblade Savior from Amazon. Check out Andy Peloquin’s website, connect on Linked In, follow him on Google Plus, like him on Twitter @AndyPeloquin, and like him on Facebook.

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Review: BERSERK 14

BERSERK 14

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Newly recovered from his injures suffered from the eclipse, Guts has to face his new life living in the boundary between life and death. Thanks to the brand he received when Griffith offered him a sacrifice, evil spirits seek to devour his soul.

And he’s not the only one branded.

Caska, her mind reduced to that of a child after being raped by the demonic Griffith, has no idea the danger she’s in. Guts has to race to her fast to protect her from the demons. But will it matter? Even if he saves her, she now fears and hates him, so traumatized by her experience. Her mind is broken. Nothing is ever the same.

All that is left for Guts is vengeance. The Black Swordsman we met at the beginning of this series is born.

Volume 14 also jumps us to two years later, putting is after the events of the early volume. Guts, now traveling with Puck, is about to find another one of the demonic apostles. He has another chance to find vengeance.

Miura’s epic continues. For those who watched the original anime, this volume carries it beyond what that started. From here on out, the story isn’t known. We don’t know if Guts will survive his vengeance. We don’t know if Caska will ever regain her sanity. All we can do is march with Guts ever on, trying to defy fate in a world that has lost all hope and given in to evil.

You can buy BERSERK Vol 14 from Amazon.

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Review: BERSERK 13

BERSERK 13

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The demonic horde has been unleashed upon the Band of the Hawk. Griffith has sacrificed his former followers to achieve his dream. While he incubates to become a dark god, Guts, Caska, and the rest battle for their survival.

But the odds are against them. Nightmarish monsters abound. They are all hungry for the feast. The hundreds of soldiers, the best trained army in Midland, are no match for their foes. One by one they fall. Familiar faces we’ve come to love perish one by one until it’s only Guts and Caska left.

Guts’s fury carries him far, but even he has finally found his limits here. In the nightmare, forced to watch as Griffith is reborn and comes to ravish Caska. Pinned by demon, his arm ripped off, his eye blind, we finally see the moment that births the Black Swordsman.

A man impotent to save the woman he loves from being destroyed by the man he once thought of as his friend. Thirteen volumes have built up to this moment. We have finally arrived at what shaped Guts into that cold, murderous beast at the start hunting demons, searching for Griffith to enact his vengeance.

Everything good in Guts’s life was snuffed out in a moment. By the selfish choice of one man. And now Guts only has his rage to fuel him. Though he’ll survive the eclipse, he’ll be forever trapped in the boundary between life and death. Can he ever get vengeance?

Can he ever move on with his life?

Will his rage destroy him?

BERSERK continues to astound and amazed. The depth of the characters and writing shines here. It’s powerful to witness it all come undone. How it flows towards this one moment. It feels almost inevitable. Fate has made its decree and though Guts has defied it for now, can he defy it forever. As Slan says, “A fish jumping out to the fiver does little more than ripple the surface.”

If you’re not reading BERSERK, you should be. This story is breathtaking in its scope and themes.

You can buy BERSERK Vol 13 from Amazon.

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Review: The Line of Illiniel (Mageborn Book Two)

The Line of Illiniel (Mageborn Book Two)

by Michael G. Manning

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Mordecai, newly discovered to be both one of the last living mages and the heir to a small noble family, is trying to rebuild his family estate with the help of his adopted father and his fiancee, Penny. When people start disappearing in the night, Mordecai has to hone the craft of his self-taught magic to face it.

But a darker threat looms on the horizon: war.

When Penny has a vision that Mordecai will be slain in six months atop his castle walls, it’s confirmation to the rumors. The Gododdin are preparing for their invasion. Using what remaining time is left, Mordecai devotes it to protecting his people even if that means defying his king. Or his fiancee.

The Line of Illeniel expands on the world created in The Blacksmith’s Son, building on the magic and history hinted at. Mordecai has to face new problems, including his impending death. Penny’s visions are never wrong. That knowledge provides much of the tension between the characters. How can Mordecai have any hope of the future when his own fiancee is eager to die with him. He wants there to be something left to remember him, like any of us would.

Drowning in sorrow, you can feel his pain as he prepares to use his magic to kill thousands. The book mixes wry humor and harsh realities. It flows fast, the emotions bursting off the page, plunging towards the ending.

There is one subplot that is given a lot of weight in the beginning and is all but abandoned by the characters in favor of the war, with only a little tease that it’s going to be a much bigger problem in the future. It feels like a plot that could be excised from this book without changing it, but this is a larger part of a series, so I’m hoping for payoff down the road.

All in all, if you liked The Blacksmith Son, this gives even more of the characters you come to know and fleshes out a few who didn’t get much time in the last book. On another note, the epilogue and afterward were touching.

You can buy The Line of Illiniel from Amazon.

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Review: BERSERK 8

BERSERK 8

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Griffith has gambled everything on his Band of the Hawk taking the impregnable Doldrey Castle. If his mercenaries can’t prevail against the indomitable Holy Purple Rhino Knights and their skilled commander, they are doomed. Guts is at a disadvantage. His sword, damaged from fighting the hundred mercenaries a few weeks ago, has shattered. He faces off against the enemy general armed only with a knife.

His death seems inevitable. But Guts isn’t the type of man to give up.

Inside the castle, Caska has lead in her soldiers in a surprise attack to seize the fortress while most of the defenders are trying to capture Griffith. However, she has come across the very man who offered the bounty on her life. She’ll have to defeat the treacherous Count Corbowitz to win the day for her and her men.

If Griffith plan succeeds, he and his men will be hailed as heroes, delivering the final blow that will end the hundred year war, if they fail…

Miura plunges us into the action in this part as well as the characters. The past few volumes have built up for the climax of this action. Guts has grown from that haunted youth fighting to hide the vulnerable pain in his heart to a man wanting to stand on his own two feet. Not to follow Griffith, but to be his friend and equal. Miura shows the changes in his character in those final moments, mirroring a scene from earlier.

It’s an incredible journey to be had and when you finish this manga, you have to be wandering if this was the moment that changed everything. Is this what lead to that future where Guts is the maimed and scarred Black Swordsman hunting down the inhuman Griffith. The calm, mature man we see in his volume lost to the rage and hatred of a many utterly betrayed. Of a man who only has vengeance.

Miura was smart to show us that future. To let us know where these characters end up and have us wonder how that could possibly happen. Griffith is a driven man, but he’s not heartless. He cares about his soldiers even as he’s willing to spend their lives for his ambition.

The art continues to be great. The action and the characters continue to shine. From fear, to passion, to determination all is captured in Miura’s detailed art. BERSERK continues to impress and amaze me!

You can buy BERSERK Vol 8 from Amazon.

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Review: Darkblade Slayer (Hero of Darkness 5)

Darkblade Slayer (Hero of Darkness 5)

by Andy Peloquin

Reviewed by JMD Reid

For the Hunter, all his goals converge in Enarium, the lost city of the ancient Serenii. It is the destination of the demon known as the Sage who plans on unleashing the Destroyer upon the world. It is the only place where a cure can be found for Halien, the six-year-old boy who has become a son to the immortal assassin. And, lastly, it is where She awaits. The woman from his lost memories.

His wife.

He doesn’t know what he will find in Enarium or how he will even find it. It is lost. Treasure hunters for thousands of years have roamed the Empty Mountains searching for it. But he has something they don’t, a clue given by happenstance from Sage. A clue that an ancient play might hold the cipher for the journey. If he can figure it out.

At the same time, old enemies have returned. They have followed the Hunter’s trail across the world. Can he convince them that they have the same goals, or will he be forced to kill them and further weaken himself in the process.

The Hunter is no hero, but he’ll save the world anyways.

The penultimate novel of the Hero of Darkness series is a wild ride. Old friends and foes are back as everything is leading towards Enarium. The secrets of the past are bubbling to the surface along with the Hunter’s memories. A climatic ending is in the works if he can reach it. But the obstacles are large.

As always, Peloquin’s books move fast, plunging you forward through his dark, fantasy world. There are no easy decisions to be found. It’s a brutal world where the fortunes of one can change in an instant. It builds towards its ending and leaves you eager for the conclusion.

If you’re a fan of grimdark fantasy, then you have to try out Peloquin’s work. He’s an indie author worth reading!

You can buy Darkblade Seeker from Amazon. Check out Andy Peloquin’s website, connect on Linked In, follow him on Google Plus, like him on Twitter @AndyPeloquin, and like him on Facebook.

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Review: BERSERK 6

BERSERK 6

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Thanks to Griffith’s leadership, and Zodd retreating from the battlefield after delivering his prophecy to Guts, the Band of the Hawk find themselves heroes. Griffith has the recognition of the king himself while attracting the notice of the king’s young daughter, Princess Charlotte. But such rise in station makes enemies.

While Guts just wants to swing his sword and fight, the Band of the Hawk find themselves in lesser guard duty, protecting Griffith from the machinations swirling around them. Griffith has only one person he trusts to carry out his darker deeds.

Guts will have to become more than a swordsman. But so long as his friend Griffith needs him, he’s happy. Content where he is. Can he stay that way forever? Is he truly Griffith’s friend, or does Griffith expect?

Volume 6 brims with political intrigue and poignant moments. Guts clutching the dying boy’s hand is moving and harrowing at the same time, but the most pivotal moment in the entire series, the catalyst for the train of events that leads to the Black Swordsman happens in this book, in a conversation between Griffith and Princess Charlotte. His words to her will spark something in Guts.

Miura continues to develop his characters in this volume, with Caska getting her backstory fleshed out. We get to see another layer to Griffith. He’s a complex character, still possessing his a boyish playfulness that seems at odds with his cold, ruthless tactics. His charisma shines through even when he’s giving orders that lead to more violence and death.

He has a dream, and he won’t let anything stop him from reaching it. Not even the Band of the Hawk, his loyal followers.

If you’re not reading one of the masters of Grimdark Fantasy, you should be! Berserk is no simple tale. It’s not playful and light like many Japanese Manga. It’s rooted deep in Western storytelling and setting, with mature themes that resonate with the truths they tell.

You can buy BERSERK Vol 6 from Amazon.

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Review: BERSERK 4

BERSERK 4

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Before Guts became the Black Swordsman, he was just a boy raised by an abusive mercenary. Like a beaten dog, Guts doesn’t know any better. However, his life is changed when he learns just how terrible a father Gambino really is. Guts is sent on a path that leads him right into the path of Griffith.

The man Guts is on a mission to kill in the present. The man who became an inhuman demon of such power that Guts, despite all his vaulted strength and prowess as a demon killer, is nothing more than an insect to. Here, in the fateful encounter during the fall of a castle, Guts discovers what he has been searching for all his life.

And what will send him into such anger and hatred when he loses it.

The Golden Age Arc is underway. It is one of the best parts of Berserk. You know that it is going to end badly. You know that the young, charismatic Griffith who has inspired his loyal Band of the Hawk, is going to do something that changes him and brands Guts as a sacrifice. As we learned in the last volume, to become a demon, you have to sacrifice someone you love. What do you have to sacrifice to become the GOD of the demons?

Miura introduces us to the characters that we’re going to love and hate over the next volumes. The brash and surly Corkus, Casca who gave up being a woman to be a soldier, the quiet by gentle Pippin, the joking and intelligent Judeau, little Rickert eager to help support everyone else. And Griffith himself. BERSERK isn’t just about the violence (which there’s plenty of) or the gore (lot of that), it’s about characters. And Miura is a master at not only giving his characters depths through their dialogue and actions, but through his art itself. He brings these characters to life as he lulls you into a world that you don’t ever want to leave.

But in the back of your mind, you remember what is coming and you ask yourself, how did that happen? Miura is about to show us.

You can buy BERSERK Vol 4 from Amazon.

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Review: BERSERK 2

BERSERK 2

by Kentaro Miura

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Guts, The Black Swordsman, is on a quest of vengeance that has lead him to a town under the dark grip of a demonic count. A monster of cruelty who butchers and tortures “heretics” in his quest to purify his town. Vargas, a man whose family was consumed by the count before him, begs Guts to slay the count and free the town. Guts will do it, but not for Vargas.

Guts has his own reasons to kill the count. His own vengeful past.

The count, however, won’t sit around and wait for Guts. He has created a monster of his own, an extension of his demonic powers, and unleashed him on the town. Guts will have to use all his skills and wits to survive the machinations.

The second volume shows us the strength in Miura’s writing. While the violence and gore can suck a reader in, it’s the strength of his characters that keep you reading. Guts is a man consumed by hatred. He shows no compassion, even to a crippled character like Vargas. He despises Vargas, and you catch small glimpses why. Guts is in many ways like Vargas. Both are maimed and scared. Both have suffered torture, and the reader is getting an inkling that this torment came at the hands of the demonic entities behind creating the Count: the Godhand.

The characterization is subtle, but great. We have the count, an absolute monster who struggles to hide the truth of his demonic nature from his young daughter. He wants to keep her safe from the ugly realities of this world. You can see glimpses of the man he once was before he summoned the Godhand with the behleit. From his daughter, you start to understand how his quest for killing heretics has mutated into something far, far worse as his demonic nature has corrupted him.

The world of BERSERK continues to be bleak. There is no hope. No chance for any heroics. Like an grimdark story, the hero doesn’t get to be pure good. He has to roll in the mud with the enemies. He has to stand by and let good men die.

Puck continues to be a great foil against Guts. The small fairy, while on the surface just providing comic relief, has a great deal of insight. He has some great moments in this volumes of compassion and empathy, catching glimpses of the true man trapped in the cage of anger and rage Guts is trapped in. The story keeps you reading. You want to find out why Guts is this way, where his weapons came from, how has survived so long with the mysterious “brand” on his neck. Though some questions were answered, more are needed.

If you like grimdark fantasy, you NEED to read BERSERK. If you like good fantasy storytelling, the violence and gore is graphic, but what’s beneath it is full of all those things that make humans great: love, passion, friendship, hope and more. Just in a world this dark, it is buried by the muck and mire and has to be freed once again.

You can buy BERSERK Vol 2 from Amazon.

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