Thursday, August 25, 2011

The U.S. Anime Review and GEN Manga: A match made in heaven!

The first big announcement for the U.S. Anime Review relaunch is...a partnership with GEN Manga!

For those not aware: GEN Manga is a new American Publishing company that not only brings manga to our shores but brings new manga never before released ANYWHERE! And yes, that includes Japan. GEN Manga is a monthly magazine that will feature new chapters in on going stories. That right, just like manga anthologies in Japan. Each series and creator represent the Japanese manga underground. Think American indie comic books and you get the idea.

GEN Manga launched three months ago and provide legal online manga for all to enjoy. How does one read GEN Manga? There are two ways, well, technically three. The first way is to purchase their print magazines off of Amazon. These issues must be purchased individually and there is no subscription. The second way is to subscribe to the magazine via the GEN Manga website. A monthly subscription will get you access to each issue as soon as it is released as well as the entire back catalog. This leads directly into the third way to read GEN Manga. Read the U.S. Anime Review and receive a special DISCOUNT on GEN Manga subscriptions!

That's right, we have entered a partnership with GEN Manga that will allow readers of the U.S. Anime Review to subscribe to the online magazine at a discount! How do you subscribe? Easy. Click on the following link and you are off to the wonderful dojinshi races!

Subscribe to GEN Manga with a discount!

And just in case you are not sure what GEN Manga really truly is their official press release.

GEN Manga Entertainment, Inc. Announces the Release of GEN
GEN will be available nationwide June, 2011

NEW YORK, NY – GEN Manga Entertainment, Inc. announces the upcoming release of GEN. GEN 1 (ISBN: 978-0-9836134-0-4, Trade Paper, 136 pages, black and white, $9.95, Category: Graphic Fiction) will be available where fine books are sold June, 2011.

GEN 1 is presently available in digital format for FREE on the official website (

Indie manga from the Tokyo Underground released in North America, GEN, marks a shift in manga publishing strategy. This original work of graphic fiction boldly challenges the industry while breaking new ground. It presents what manga readers are hungry for, the release of fresh underground work from Japan. GEN marks the release of a new serial publication that will continue to introduce a variety of new underground stories to readers as it progresses.

GEN stories are published no where else in the world. They come straight from the artists in Japan to readers in America. GEN presents this rough yet vibrant work as “seinen” the next step up from “shonen” for the maturing manga reader.

Four hard-lined, unpolished stories are presented in the first of GEN. Wolf is the emotional story of a young man that heads to the city to avenge his childhood abandonment. VS Aliens is the story of an average student duped (or not?) into going on a wild alien chase. A mysterious masked stranger in KAMEN holds secrets to hidden powers to protect innocents from massacre. And a young woman explores her psyche in the metaphysical journey of Souls.

GEN puts on no airs about how grand their authors are. In fact, they readily admit that their authors are underground. GEN is manga the way it should be without the flash, for the fans, raw and fresh.

Presenting new indie manga circles from Japan, GEN, a monthly publication, will be released in the US in June. Digital format for GEN is available on Based in New York, GEN Manga Entertainment ( endeavors to publish new and unseen graphic work from Japan, being in the unique position to bring readers work first, more original and untamed manga will be sure to come!

For those still curious or unsure if GEN Manga is something you wish to spend your hard earned money on...never fear. That's why I'm here!

Currently issues 1 & 2 are available to view FOR FREE at GEN Manga. And with each passing month, and each new issue, a back issue will be available to view...for free!

But how do I know if the stories are any good? Again, let me take care of that for you. Coming soon I will be posting a review of the FIRST FOUR issues of GEN Manga. This review will look at each individual series, and with four issues in the bag one can get a pretty good view on their characteristics and qualities.

So there you have it. Are you excited? I sure as heck am! Stay tuned for reviews of GEN Manga, check out the first two issues for yourself, and subscribe to get the latest issues a discount! Everyone loves a quality product at a deal and GEN Manga and the U.S. Anime Review are here to provide!

Don't call it a comeback

So, it turns out I failed on my promises to get things rocking and rolling when that last podcast was posted. Life happens and there's not much one can do about it.

However, I would like to say that the U.S. Anime Review is NOT dead! Not by a long shot!

Why am I making this post? Is it to post a new podcast? No. Here at the U.S. Anime Review, some changes are going to be made. Podcasts will still be in our future; so for those who have been enjoying that kind of thing never fear. However, podcasts will no longer be the main focus of the site. I'm going to change it up to be more 'blog-like'. This means that here at the U.S. Anime Review you will find postings about anime/news (the ones that make an impression on me), written reviews, as well as podcasts as they are recorded.

I'm excited about this 'relaunch' because it will pull me from just focusing on podcasts to being more interactive with the site and readership. When my focus and goal was podcasting...well, we know how that turned out!

So tell all your friends that we are back! That we are alive and kicking! That there will be a new purpose and reason to visit the site aside from the occasional podcast!

Welcome Back!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lucky #13

Hello Internet Wonderland!!!

I bet you thought we were gone! No chance buddy, we are here and as long as I breathe, and function properly with all my extremities, we are here to stay!

First, a brief apology for the extreme delay in releasing this episode, life happens, I deal with it so you can deal with it.

Download the Episode here!!

This episode we have a group discussion about Peepo Choo Volume 1, thank you Ed Chavez and Vertical Inc., and then we talk about the anime film Golgo 13: The Professional. This was a pretty weird episode as we all had quite differing view on our topics, but it is all in fun because YOU can decide for yourselves!!

If you are interested in any of the titles be sure to pick up your own copy to love and cherish for the rest of your lives! Here, I'll even given you some image links!!

Alright, since I'm back on the wagon, stay tuned for our next episode!!

Oh, and just to make sure you guys are reading these posts all the way, you remember that contest I told you guys about a while back? Well, the contest rules are in this episode!! Listen, learn, and partake in the super awesomeness that is our first contest sponsored by Vertical Inc.!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bokurano Ours Vol. 1

I love me some giant robots! The bigger the better, the less “real” the better I say as well. These are just my personal preferences when it comes to robots in anime and manga. Give me Go Nagai over Gundam any day and I will be very happy! I also really enjoyed Evangelion which is quite a bit different than what my preferences suggest.

Perusing my local bookstore I stumbled upon Viz’s release from their Sig Ikki line, Bokurano Ours. I looked at the cover and read the very short synopsis and decided to give it a try. Maybe it will hit my Eva nerve and intrigue me, but at least it should entertain, right?

Bokurano starts off very quickly by introducing the main characters, 15 junior high kids, and immediately getting them involved with the giant robot. The kids wander into a cave and find a secret hideout that belongs to a strange man named Kokopelli. Kokopelli offers the children the opportunity to play a game in which they will pilot a giant robot and defeat alien enemies. Immediately 14 of the 15 kids sign a contract stating that they will play the game, thinking that it is just that, a game.

The children then appear back on the beach and assume it was all a dream, or in this case a mass hallucination. That is until a giant spider-like robot appears in the ocean and the kids find themselves in the cockpit of the creature. Kokopelli uses the robot to defeat an alien that appears as sort of a tutorial for the kids as they will have to pilot the robot by themselves next time. Kokopelli disappears and the kids are back home safe and sound.

While reading this volume I was extremely underwhelmed. As I said, I love my giant robots and this was nothing special. The kids were largely unlikeable, there was no character development whatsoever, and with the way the story was being told it sorely needed it, unlike Go Nagai where development doesn’t really need to exist. The artwork, while very well done, used too much white space and it almost seemed lazy to me as all the detail was put to the characters and not the world. Even the robot isn’t very well detailed and it is kind of hard to distinguish what it even looks like.

Then the kids have to fight their first alien alone. Only one child, Takashi Waku, is allowed to pilot it because he was the one who was called upon. Before the fight starts some time is put into Waku’s character, some back-story and motivation to set him up as the main character. He is flawed but strong willed and the perfect candidate to run this story to its end. Once the fight is over...Waku gets killed!! WTF!!?!?!?

I instantly became intrigued, what was this story doing, where was it going, what is really going on here? I don’t know how he did it but author Mohiro Kitoh took a bland, generic, and uninteresting story and over the course of two pages got me hooked and addicted! The last chapter in the volume begins with more back-story and motivation on one of the other kids who is then called to pilot the robot in another alien fight. This is the best chapter in the book as the author has clearly hit his stride and with the knowledge of earlier events interwoven into the new story line, a denser, more interesting manga is starting to form.

All I have to say is...I have to wait till September for the next volume! WTF!?!

P.S. If you think I’ve gone and spoiled the book for you, go buy it and see for yourself! In other words... I didn’t spoil shit!

Pick up Bokurano Ours Vol. 1 Today!

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Twin Spica Vol. 1

Continuing along with the review copies provided by Vertical Inc., Twin Spica is the first of Vertical's new licenses to see print this year (as of this writing volume 2 has already hit stores).

The story focuses on 14-year old Asumi Kamogawa, a child of tragedy who's sole dream is to become an astronaut. In the year 2010 Japan's first "all Japan made" spacecraft suffers a malfunction and crashes into the heart of a city killing the crew and many innocent bystanders, including Asumi's mother. Asumi's father continues to try and support the family through construction jobs that leave Asumi alone most of the time.

Asumi has always dreamed of becoming an astronaut and decides to not tell her father that she has applied and successfully passed the entrance exam to the Tokyo Space School. After an emotional, heart breaking encounter when her father finds out; Asumi heads to the school and begins a practical exam that would finalize her entrance into the academy.

For being the first of a 16 volume series, one doesn't expect the plot to move along at high speed. When I began reading this book I expected character, plot, and motivation introductions to help draw me in to the story and become interested in how it will develop. What I didn't expect is how great yet minimal these introductions would be. No the plot doesn't move along quickly; in fact in retrospect very little happens over the volume's four chapters, but so much detail and development is brought forward that it doesn't matter at all. The bulk of the book is the practical exam and so much time is spent with the characters simply interacting that it feels extremely realistic and I even wanted it to spend more time than it did, but I'm okay with this (remembering it is a 16-volume series).

The art style definitely helps out in this department as well. While the art style isn't hyper-realistic like Ryoichi Ikegami's, it is far from the prototypical "manga style" that many potential readers tend to shy away from. As simplistic as the style might seem at first, Kou Yaginuma manages to perfectly pull the proper human emotion out of the characters, tied with the highly plausible setting and plot only heighten our involvement as readers. Each of the main characters as so distinct in their personalities, with just enough hidden at this point, that we can identify with them all in some form or another. Yaginuma's style compliments the emotion and identification perfectly because we are kept within the confines of the story. We never get pulled out due to "cartoony" drawings or any sort of absurdity in the setting or story. We are kept close and begin to feel as if the story is entirely plausible and begin to feel for the characters and become interested in how the plot will evolve.

As great as the story is, it is the side stories that really knock this volume out of the park. The main story is great and I for one cannot wait to see how it will turn out, but the side stories (which are actually pilots for Twin Spica) are so well written and executed that they pack all the emotional punches one can handle thereby sealing the deal in reading Twin Spica.

2015: Fireworks is the first story presented. This was the initial work of Kou Yaginuma that started his mangaka career. The story centers on Asumi's first meeting with her "imaginary" friend The Lion. Since this is a one-shot, it doesn't directly tie into the Twin Spica canon but helps us understand more about Lion and his relationship with Asumi and the main story. The focus is more on Lion than Asumi but not once does it fail to hit the perfect note. It feels like a movie almost. You know, the big Oscar-bait films that are extremely good but focus on drama and characters? It is pitch perfect and a welcome addition to the volume.

The second story is the first chapter of a mini-series launched after the success of 2015: Fireworks, Asumi. The series of stories focus on Asumi's childhood before the events of Twin Spica. This chapter tells the story of Asumi coping with her mother's death. As with Twin Spica and 2015: Fireworks, the art work is so genuine and realistic in its story telling that the plot of this chapter never feels absurd or "crazy", it is just perfect. Emotionally powerful from start to finish, Asumi adds to the main story even more and creates a deeper emotional connection with the main character that made me re-read the volume!

That is the beauty of Twin Spica; engaging and wonderful on its own merits but combined with the additional stories giving background and "insider" information, it becomes a series that not only should be read, but should be read multiple times. An emotional powerhouse that invokes feelings typically reserved for the greatest of films, Twin Spica comes to grand life in exquisitely detailed black and white pages. Don't pass on this series, if you do you may be missing out on a series many manga publishers would never release because it doesn't pander to a specific fandom but instead gives a full, deep story independent of other manga and one that truly stands out from the pack in terms of quality and uniqueness.

Pick up Twin Spica Vol. 1 Today!


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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Welcome Back Space Cowboy

As promised we have returned!! Never fear as we will never leave as long as there is anime to talk about! So...

Download the Episode Here!

Also as promised we finally talk about one of the biggest "gateway drugs" anime has ever had...Cowboy Bebop! We know this is a fan favorite but this is the first time Chris has seen the whole thing and of course the first time Dan has seen ANY of it. So, do our views and opinions validate your love of the Bebop, or did we just make a few enemies???

Buy the complete series of Cowboy Bebop today!

Oh yeah, we also watched and talked about the Cowboy Bebop movie!! That's right, here at the U.S. Anime Review we got you covered!

Buy the Cowboy Bebop Movie today!

That's it for this time, join us next episode when we talk about the world's greatest assassin....Golgo 13!!
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Chi's Sweet Home Vol. 1

Writing this review has been one of the most difficult tasks I have been charged with. One of my main goals with the U.S. Anime Review is not just to talk about anime and manga but also to talk about how to introduce someone to anime and manga. I understand fully that everyone’s tastes are different and no one is going to like the same thing simultaneously.

Usually when I review something, I am very convicted in my opinions. If I like something and appreciate it then it is quite easy for me to express these views and opinions. Chi’s Sweet Home is one of the newer releases by Vertical Inc., and much like this website, Vertical is more concerned about reaching out to new audiences who may not particularly be a manga fan, than simply pandering to the existing fan base. After much deliberation, I have decided to write this review in sections. These sections will help provide a well rounded scope of what this book contains and can provide to potential readers.

A young stray kitten gets separated from its (feline) family one day. A kind family, the Yamadas, find the kitten and take her home, despite the fact that there apartment complex has a strict “no pets” policy. This volume introduces the kitten, later named Chi, and the Yamadas; as the focus is on their everyday life and the growing up experiences of Chi.

The Facts
Chi’s Sweet Home is presented in full color by Vertical Inc. and it looks amazing. The paper quality and the color palettes match perfectly with the tone of the material. This is a fun light-hearted book that uses author Konami Kanata’s art style to its full potential. The character designs of the human characters are very basic to say the least. Every aspect of the humans is very plain and not exactly what I would call detailed; but the artwork is never ugly. The main focus of this series is of course Chi and she is drawn very nicely. While not realistic is her design, Chi has all the details and nuances of what a great comic feline should have. The author has to be a cat lover because each scenario Chi is placed in is realistic in how it plays out; how a cat plays, potentially thinks, and feels.

Needless to say, Chi is adorable. The design and character of this cat is genetically engineered to be relentlessly adorable and strike the perfect nerve for the target demographic. The translation by Vertical is also pretty top notch. The wording fits perfectly into the English language and never presents an awkward feeling in its flow. The choice to make the vernacular of Chi extremely cutesy is a little less than perfect though. As with Vertical’s release of Black Jack, they use strange spellings to reflect the immaturity and speech nuances of young characters. Chi constantly speaks with this pattern, words such as “pway (play)”, “miulk (milk)”, and “scarewy (scary)” are used to the point of excess. While reading the book if you “speak” the words in your head it is easy to imagine this being animated. You can hear the nuance and it adds to the cute factor ten-fold. However, because it is used so much it can become over bearing and slightly annoying at times. In Black Jack the only character with this translated nuance is Pinoko and she isn’t heavily involved in each story so it is easier to take there; where as here the main focus is Chi and there practically isn’t a single panel that doesn’t at least show Chi.

This is a book that understands its material perfectly and is flawless in how it presents the story. Each chapter is only around eight pages, each making for perfect relaxation material or a great escape when light-hearted super cute is the mood you’re in. Each story gives a believable perspective that makes the series all the more relatable. The way Chi thinks and acts will make anyone who even knows a cat start to wonder if this is what they are really thinking when the cat acts a certain way.

Solid writing with just enough humor make this volume a great start to a series that has a lot of potential to touch hearts and crack smiles the world over.

My opinion
I LOVED this book!! I am a cat person, I have always owned a cat, and I really enjoy just ENJOYING a book every once in awhile; one that doesn’t push the boundaries of my imagination or intellect. I think that it is strange that this is a seinen manga (older men) because this is on the level with any successful children’s book ever created. Being an adult I don’t have an issue with this because I didn’t find the book condescending in any way, it was just simple fun with intelligent writing that really makes each story pop. Also, the fact that my own cat does very similar things as Chi not only makes me wonder about my own cat’s motivations but also connects me closer to Chi and love each chapter even more!

I highly recommend this book to anyone that will enjoy it because I have read this volume twice so far and really enjoy just getting lost in the absolute cuteness of it all. I also feel that Vertical has hit another one right out of the park! Sticking to their guns of not strictly going for the pre-existing manga fan, they present another series for everyone else to enjoy. Like Peepo Choo, which can draw in the sex and violence American comics crowd, Chi has the ability to draw in another crowd. Yes children will love this series, it is a great way to introduce small kids to the world of Japanese comics and possibly make a future convert out of them. Also, I know plenty of adults who either don’t know about anime/manga or straight out don’t like these mediums. However, they love watching videos of animals doing cute things and/or are huge animal/cat lovers. This book is for them. It could very well be a cross over series that can help break down barriers and open up the possibilities of manga in America! The fact that the book if oriented from left to right, as opposed to the traditional Japanese format of right to left, proves that it is this demographic that Vertical is aiming for.

Will pre-existing manga fans love this series? Yes, if this sounds enjoyable to you and you think you would have fun following Chi on her many adventures by all means buy this book! If you are some irrational “purist” who will only read manga in its original right to left format then obviously you won’t pick it up, but you will be missing out of one of the more heartwarming and fun experiences released this year!

That being said…

For everyone else
If you are not a cat lover, if you are not under the majestic spell of cute animals doing cute things…don’t even bother! Not only will you probably hate this book but you might assault however it was that told you this book was great and recommended it to you. If you are not the type of person this book is meant for not only will you not fully enjoy it, or enjoy it at all, but you will probably hate your life while reading it.

It is not a super intense story full of mystery, intrigue, action, and/or mind-bending puzzles. It is intended to be fluff; highly enjoyable fluff if you think this is something you might possibly enjoy. Otherwise, you have been warned! However, if you fit this description and know someone who would enjoy this series, well you already know the best book to recommend.


Take this Kitty home today!!

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