My Week in Manga: September 9-September 15, 2013

My News and Reviews

I posted two reviews here at Experiments in Manga last week. The first was for Yusuke Kishi’s novel of horror and survival The Crimson Labyrinth. Currently The Crimson Labyrinth is the only work by Kishi available in English, but Vertical will begin releasing the manga adaptation of his novel From the New World later this year. (The same From the New World recently had an anime adaptation, too.) I also posted my latest Blade of the Immortal review—Blade of the Immortal, Volume 25: Snowfall at Dawn. The last few volumes of Blade of the Immortal have been building up to the showdown between Shira and Manji; finally the time has arrived when they face each other.

There were a couple of interesting things that I came across online last week. First, there was an interview with Annaliese Christman, a freelance letterer for Viz Media. I didn’t know much about lettering, so I found it to be a very interesting read. The other item I wanted to mention was Dan Kanemitsu’s examination of the impact the upcoming Tokyo Olympics may have on censorship in Japan—Fear and Loathing in the Bold New Olympic Era. (Too long, didn’t read? CBLDF has a nice overview of the article with some additional commentary—Tokyo Olympics Emboldens Censors.)

Quick Takes

Fairy Tail, Volume 29Fairy Tail, Volume 29 by Hiro Mashima. This is only the second volume of Fairy Tail that I’ve had the opportunity to read in its entirety. At this point my general impression is that it’s a fun, but rather generic series. I just can’t seem to shake the feeling that I’ve seen it all before. I do like the variety of magic styles, though. Most of the twenty-ninth volume focuses on the battle between five young members of the Fairy Tail guild and Hades, the guild’s former grandmaster. Although not entirely unexpected, there were some great moments during fight that really show off the group’s teamwork. Fairy Tail moves along quickly with plenty of battles and action sequences. For the most part, Mashima’s art works nicely. However, all of the cuts and scratches that the characters end up with over the course of their fights make them look like they all have scales, which is a little odd. Although for some characters, like Natsu with his dragon abilities, it’s rather appropriate.

Nana, Volume 16Nana, Volumes 16-18 by Ai Yazawa. The more of Yazawa’s manga that I read, the more I am impressed by it. Nana is a fantastic series. The characters are complex and multilayered; the story is dramatic and absorbing without being overwrought. These particular volumes deal just a little less with the music industry and the bands as a whole. Instead, they delve more into the characters’ personal lives. Particularly important is the revelation of Nana and Shin’s pasts as well as their less than ideal family circumstances—something that proves to be very problematic. Also included in these volumes are two lengthy side stories. One shows Nobu and Nana’s relationship back when they were in school together. Similarly, Takumi’s complicated feelings for Reira is the focus of the other. The side stories are a really nice addition to Nana, giving the story even more depth. They show the importance of the characters’ relationships and how they developed over time to become what they are in the series proper. I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of Nana.

Saiyuki Reload, Volume 7Saiyuki Reload, Volumes 7-9 by Kazuya Minekura. While the early part of the series seemed directionless, by the end of Saiyuki Reload Minekura has a great narrative drive going. Some of the plot elements and storylines do unfortunately seem to have been dropped or forgotten (though perhaps she pulls them all back in for the finale) but the manga does benefit from having a stronger focus. What is particularly interesting about these volumes is that the yokai’s side of the conflict is shown in more detail. Although there have been exceptions, for the most part the yokai have simply been the series’ monsters. Minekura makes it very clear here that the yokai are really not all that different from humans and that it is the humans who are sometimes the real monsters. Looking back, this has actually been one of the recurring themes in the series. Although Saiyuki Reload is ten volumes long, only nine volumes were ever released in English. It’s particularly tragic since the ninth volume ends on one heck of a cliffhanger.

Smut PeddlerSmut Peddler by Various. Smut Peddler had its beginnings as a three-issue indie minicomic series back in 2003. In 2012, Smut Peddler returned as a full-length anthology collecting twenty-six short erotic comics. Smut Peddler is a phenomenal collection of sex-positive, lady- and queer-friendly comics. I was particularly happy to see the diversity included in the anthology, not only in terms of the characters’ various identities but in genre as well. Smut Peddler contains science fiction and fantasy as well as reality-based works, both historical and contemporary. The stories are short, sexy, and sweet. Some are more serious and others are more humorous, but they are all heartfelt. I was previously familiar with and already follow the work of many of the creators included in the anthology, but there were plenty of artists and writers who I was encountering for the first time. (I now have even more creators I want to seek out.) Work has already begun on a second Smut Peddler anthology, currently scheduled for release in 2014. I can’t wait.

Velveteen & MandalaVelveteen & Mandala by Jiro Matsumoto. Reading Velveteen & Mandala was a rather odd experience for me. I was consistently engaged while I was reading it, but I wasn’t sure that I actually liked it. But after finishing Velveteen & Mandala I couldn’t seem to get it out of my head which to me is a sign of a good manga. The more I think about it, the more I want to read it again—it’s like a lingering and intense fever-dream (or nightmare.) Velveteen & Mandala is a very strange horror manga with strong psychological elements, extremely black humor, frequent pop culture references, and characters who all seem to be at least slightly insane. The ending’s big twist was something that I suspected from the very beginning of Velveteen & Mandala but that doesn’t make it any less effective. Velveteen & Mandala easily earns it’s 18+ rating—it’s gruesome, violent, and sexually explicit. The manga’s off-beat, weird, and bizarre horror and humor definitely aren’t for everyone, but if you can stomach it Velveteen & Mandala is a strangely intriguing work.

My Week in Manga: August 19-August 25, 2013

My News and Reviews

Well, the biggest news from last week (at least for me and Experiments in Manga) is that I have officially joined the Manga Bookshelf family of blogs. I posted an introductory post for new readers and anyone else interested in learning a little more about me or Experiments in Manga. I’m still getting used to WordPress, and I still have some cleaning up to do, so if you notice anything amiss, I’d appreciate you letting me know!

I also posted a review of Edogawa Rampo’s collection of short stories Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination. Originally released in 1956, the volume was Rampo’s English-language debut. I had previously read and enjoyed Rampo’s novella Strange Tale of Panorama Island which is why I sought out more of his work. (And on a related note: Suehiro Maruo’s The Strange Tale of Panorama Island is also marvelous.)

I also had the opportunity to help out manga critic Jason Thompson last week (who I credit as one of the major reasons I became so interested in manga.) If you’re in Vancouver, Washington this coming Sunday, Jason is presenting “Manga Hell: The Worst Manga Ever Translated” at Kumoricon. It should be pretty great. I was able to provide some images of choice pages from Kazuo Koike and Ryoichi Ikegami’s notorious manga series Wounded Man. (I first learned about Wounded Man thanks when it was selected for Kate Dacey’s Manga Hall of Shame.)

On to a few interesting things found online! I either completely missed this when it was first announced or simply forgot about it, but Bento Books has licensed five novels from Hayakawa Publishing: Hiroko Minakawa’s Pleased to Dissect You, Yuka Nakazato’s Silver Wings of the Campanula, Yu Godai’s, Quantum Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner, Volume 1, Akimaro Mori’s The Black Cat Takes a Stroll, and Issui Ogawa’s Many Many Sheep. It’s an intriguing mix of fantasy, science fiction, and mystery and quite a change of pace from Bento’s first release Math Girls.

In other licensing news, Sean Gaffney has a roundup of the Japan Expo announcements from this weekend. Finally, if you have the time I recommend giving the most recent ANNCast episode a listen—Super Manga Pals Forever. The always marvelous Deb Aoki and Rebecca Silverman join host Zac Bertschy to talk about the manga they’ve been reading and discuss the use of rape and taboos as plot elements in entertainment media. (Warning: Spoilers for the ninth volume of Yumi Unita’s Bunny Drop if by some chance you haven’t been spoiled already.)

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan, Volume 6 by Hajime Isayama. Despite the issues that I have with the art in Attack on Titan, which admittedly has been improving, I continue to be utterly absorbed and engaged by the story. The sixth volume picks up right where the fifth volume left off with the appearance of a new, seemingly intelligent, but still incredibly dangerous titan. It’s mostly one long action sequence as the titans tear through the ranks of the Survey Corps. Unsurprisingly, there are quite a few messy deaths. However, there’s a bit of character development as well. In particular, more is reveled about the members of the Special Operations Squad charged with guarding Eren who are also responsible for killing him should he get out of hand. The ending sets things up nicely for some major plot reveals in the next volume. Fortunately Kodansha has sped up the series release, so it won’t be too long of a wait to find out what happens next.

Awkward Silence, Volumes 1-3 by Hinako Takanaga. I tend to be fond of Takanaga’s boys’ love manga and so was happy when SuBLime picked up one of her ongoing series. Normally, I’m annoyed by manga where the plot hinges on a problem that would immediately be solved if the characters would just talk to one another. But in the case of Awkward Silence I didn’t mind as much because there is a very good reason that the characters don’t—Satoru has a difficult time expressing himself. It’s an integral part of his character and integral part of the story. One of the points of the series is that he and his boyfriend Keigo learn to overcome this. Their relationship is really quite sweet. Beginning with the third volume Awkward Silence starts to focus more on two of the secondary characters. (At least they started out as secondary characters.) Personally, I don’t find their relationship to be nearly as interesting. While still enjoyable, it feels more generic. Unlike the main couple, so far it’s missing something to really set it apart.

Saiyuki Reload, Volumes 4-6 by Kazuya Minekura. Although I was a little disappointed with the first three volumes of Saiyuki Reload, much preferring the earlier series Saiyuki, I think that Minekura has started to find her stride again. These volumes finish up the long flashback/backstory segement which included a look at Gojyo and Hakkai’s past when they were living together. (I’m a sucker for Hakkai, so I rather enjoyed that.) From there, Saiyuki Reload starts in on a new story arc, giving the plot the focus and direction that it needed. While the first few volumes of the series didn’t seem to be going anywhere, with the introduction of Hazel things are starting to get a bit more interesting. Sanzo and crew are faced with several moral conundrums and suddenly their journey west has some urgency behind it again. And speaking of The Journey to the West—the influences of the original work can definitely be seen. They aren’t always particularly prominent and Minekura is often very free with her interpretations, but The Journey to the West can still be found in there somewhere.

Tough, Volumes 1-6 by Tetsuya Saruwatari. Only six volumes of Tough were ever released in English. The series is actually a translation of Saruwatari’s Kōkō Tekken-den Tough and shouldn’t be confused with its sequel series which in Japan was called Tough. The fights are by far the best thing about Tough. Although the martial arts are taken to the extremes there are some legitimate styles and techniques being used. The manga is ultimately over-the-top, although dubious plausibility is maintained. Tough is violent and frequently brutal. The fighters deliver and sustain immense amounts of damage. Saruwatari doesn’t hesitate to show the resulting blood and broken bones. The few women, too, are shown to be martially capable. (Unfortunately they don’t make much of an appearance after the first volume.) The story, on the other hand, is nearly nonexistent and the attempts at humor fall flat. For the most part the plot is just an excuse to have men beat each other to a pulp. The actual fights are much more interesting than the weak justifications behind them.

X, Omnibus 6 (equivalent to Volumes 16-18) by CLAMP. Well, here it is, what is very likely to be the last volume of X. The series went on hiatus in 2003 and it doesn’t seem that CLAMP will be returning to it anytime soon. I read the first volume of X a few years ago but didn’t think much of it. I gave the series another try when Viz began to release the omnibus volumes and I’ve been hooked ever since. There are many fans frustrated by the series’ lack of ending, waiting for the final battle which may never come; I suppose I can now be counted among them. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed X in all of its epic, melodramatic, twisted, and tragic glory even if it can be a bit ridiculously excessive at times. CLAMP also uses some of the most intriguing page layouts that I’ve seen. They are very effective in conveying the emotional and dramatic moments in the story, of which the series has more than its fair share. Love and death are very closely intertwined in X and there is plenty of heartbreak to be had.

FujikoMineLupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine directed by Sayo Yamamoto. This series has style—the animation is distinctive but appealing, the jazz-influenced soundtrack fits it perfectly, the storytelling is mature and has both darkness and levity. Familiarity with the Lupin III franchise isn’t necessary to enjoy the series; The Woman Called Fujiko Mine is a different take on the characters and story and can stand alone. Fujiko Mine is a thief and femme fatale. She is very much in charge of her sexuality and is more than willing to use it to get what she wants. It shouldn’t be too surprising, but nudity is a fairly frequent occurrence in the anime, but it is handled tastefully and artistically. In the last four episodes, things take a surprising turn for the strange when the revelation of Fujiko’s backstory really beings. Up until that point the series seemed largely to be an episodic collection of the various heists with which Fujiko was involved. There were hints of what was to come and most everything is tied together rather nicely in the end.

My Week in Manga: July 15-July 21, 2013

My News and Reviews

Last week I posted two in-depth manga reviews here at Experiments in Manga. The first review was for Hiroaki Samura’s Blade of the Immortal, Volume 23: Scarlet Swords. Now that Manji has made his escape from the dungeons under Edō Castle the series has started to focus a bit more on the Ittō-ryū once again, which I’m happy to see. My second review last week was my contribution to the Yun Kouga Manga Moveable Feast. I took a closer look at Viz Media’s new release of Kouga’s Loveless. I had previously read Loveless when Tokyopop published the first eight volumes years ago, but Viz’s first omnibus quickly reminded me why I find the manga so peculiarly compelling.

Last week was also the San Diego Comic-Con. Seeing as it’s clear across the country from me and it’s unlikely that I’d ever be able to handle such a huge event, I wasn’t in attendance. However, I did pay attention to some of the news and announcements coming out of SDCC. I was most interested in Haikasoru’s plans for a graphic novel adaptation of All You Need Is Kill (I reviewed the original a few years ago), a new translation of Battle Royale (I reviewed the previous translation a few years ago, too), and a collection of essays on Battle Royale. In other news: Viz is relaunching the Viz Kids imprint as Perfect Square; Kodansha is adding more shoujo titles to its catalog, including some Del Rey license rescues; and Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys won its second Eisner Award this year.

Oh! And the next Manga Moveable Feast will soon be upon us! Khursten of Otaku Champloo is hosting August’s Feast early in the month in order to coincide 8/01 (a.k.a. “yaoi day.”) Khursten’s calling it a fujojo fiyaysta and the Feast will be focusing on boys’ love and yaoi. So, join us from August 1 to August 10 for a good time, giveaways, and more!

Quick Takes

Honeydew Syndrome, Volumes 1-2 by New Shoe. I thoroughly enjoyed Honeydew Syndrome, particularly it’s quirky and true-to-life characters. Initially released as a webcomic, the boys’ love series was later collected in print in two volumes with additional bonus content. The first volume focuses on the somewhat awkward relationship between Metis and Josh which only gets its start after Josh hauls out and punches Metis in the face. The second volume partly overlaps with the first—some of the same events are seen from different perspectives—and focuses on their friends. Honeydew Syndrome doesn’t really have a driving plot; instead, it’s much more about relationships (and not just the romantic ones.)

Saiyuki Reload, Volumes 1-3 by Kazuya Minekura. Though the manga changed names, magazines, and demographics, Saiyuki Reload is a direct followup to Minekura’s Saiyuki. While I enjoyed the slightly ridiculous Saiyuki, for some reason Saiyuki Reload doesn’t seem to be clicking as well with me. Despite a few flashbacks delving into Sanzo’s past, these early volumes just don’t feel like they’re going anywhere with either the story or the characters. It’s as if Sanzo and his crew are simply playing their previously established roles; the character development seems to be missing. However, the artwork in Saiyuki Reload is more polished than that in Saiyuki. (It is a more recent series after all.) The action sequences tend to be clearer and easier to follow, too.

Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei: The Power of Negative Thinking, Volumes 9-10 by Koji Kumeta. Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei was originally released in English by Del Rey, but it is one of the series that Kodansha now continues to publish. It’s a slow seller—there hasn’t been a volume released in over a year—but I can understand why. The series tends to be episodic, has a very specific sense of humor, and the sheer number of cultural references it uses makes the series challenging to translate and adapt. Despite the fact that I often find Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei to be hilarious in a darkly absurd way, I can only read a volume or two at a time without it feeling like a chore. But I do like the series and am glad that it’s available.

Here Is Greenwood directed by Tomomi Mochizuki. Based on the shoujo manga series by Yukie Nasu, Here Is Greenwood is a six-episode OVA. Although it is a mix of strict adaptation, new material, and slight re-imaginings of the stories in the original, the anime stays very true to the tone of the manga. I read and enjoyed Here Is Greenwood and I enjoyed the anime as well, but I don’t think that it will hold much appeal to those who aren’t already familiar with the characters. Here Is Greenwood is fairly episodic but the stories all revolve around the perpetually stressed-out high school student Kazuya Hasukawa, his oddball dorm and class mates, and the often absurd situations they find themselves in. The series is quirky and funny and made me laugh on several occasions.

My Week in Manga: May 27-June 2, 2013

My News and Reviews

In addition to the usual My Week in Manga feature, last week there were three posts here at Experiments in Manga. First off was the opening of the most recent manga giveaway. There’s still time to enter for a chance to win the first omnibus of Umineko: When They Cry. All you have to do is tell me about a manga based on a video game, visual novel, or dating sim. Next up was my review of Leslie Helm’s family memoir Yokohama Yankee: My Family’s Five Generations as Outsiders in Japan. It’s a fascinating and engaging book. And, like all of Chin Music Press’ publications, it’s beautifully designed as well. Finally, for those of you who are interested in my manga-buying habits, the Bookshelf Overload for May was also posted.

Quick Takes

Eyeshield 21, Volumes 20-23 written by Riichiro Inagaki and illustrated by Yusuke Murata. All of the first round games in the Kanto Tournament are covered at least briefly in these volumes, but the game between the Shinryuji Nagas and the Deimon Devil Bats is the one that receives the most attention. This makes sense, since the Devil Bats are the “home” team in Eyeshield 21, but some of the other games are so abbreviated I’m not sure it was necessary to include them at all. Honestly, I would have liked to have seen them played out in more detail and I’m not even a huge football fan. Even so, I’m still enjoying Eyeshield 21. The characters are great and the artwork is fantastic. Overall, it’s simply a fun series.

Fairy Tail, Volume 26 by Hiro Mashima. Although I am vaguely familiar with Fairy Tail, the twenty-sixth volume is the first volume that I’ve actually had the opportunity to read. Even though I haven’t read the previous volumes, I can tell that this particular volume plays a pivotal role in the story with at least one huge plot twist and several possible deaths. (I say possible, because the characters seem to be extraordinarily resilient.) In this volume two guilds of magic users face off, Grimoire Heart and Fairy Tail, so there are plenty of battles to be had and over-the-top magic to be seen. Some of the individual fights have their moments but I wasn’t really wowed by any of them. Others seem to have been skipped over entirely, which was a little disappointing and anticlimactic in a few cases.

Love Share by Aoi Kujyou. Love Share is a collection of short boy’s love manga which all feature the same protagonists—the level-headed Kazushi and his more free-spirited friend and lover Izumi. There is no overarching plot to the volume; each story is a small (and sometimes confusing) glimpse into the two men’s lives at different points in their relationship. What appealed to me most about Love Share was the fluidity of Izumi and Kazuishi’s sexualities. Neither one of them is consigned to being the top or the bottom. Instead, they allow themselves to be caught up in the moment and let things proceed as they will. Both of them are completely capable of taking charge and they do. 

Saiyuki, Volumes 6-9 by Kazuya Minekura. There may be plenty of parallels to The Journey to the West, the Chinese classic on which Saiyuki is very loosely based, but the original story is often nearly unrecognizable. The characters, too, tend to be quite different from their counterparts. I’ll admit though, I get a kick out of Saiyuki. I do find some of the intentional anachronisms that Minekura includes to be rather odd; they don’t always blend very well with the religious and magical aspects of the series. But then again, I seem to have no problem with Sanzo’s revolver or the fact that Jeep turns into, well, a jeep. Although the ninth volume concludes a major story-arc, Saiyuki doesn’t end here—after changing magazines (and demographics), the story continues in Saiyuki Reload.

My Week in Manga: April 8-April 14, 2013

My News and Reviews

This past week I reviewed We, the Children of Cats, a volume collecting five short stories and three novellas by Tomoyuki Hoshino. It’s a difficult collection, troubling and even disturbing at times, but it’s also mesmerizing and very good. In the preface, Hoshino describes the desire for the stories to “lodge themselves within the bodies” of the readers; with me at least he was successful.

I also reviewed Demon Lair, the twentieth volume in the English-language release of Hiroaki Samura’s award-winning manga series Blade of the Immortal. There’s not much plot development in this volume, but there is plenty of action. Normally, my monthly Blade of the Immortal review would have been posted later this week, but I’ve been shifting my usual schedule around a bit in order to accommodate a guest post which should be ready to go soon.

If you haven’t come across it yet, Brigid Alverson’s article Manga 2013: A Smaller, More Sustainable Market for Publishers Weekly is a must read. Christopher Butcher also posted a followup to the article, The Manga Industry 2012-2013, which is also well worth reading. Curious as to what it’s like to work as a mangaka’s assistant? Jamie Lynn Lano has collected all of her assistant stories into one convenient list—Working as an Assistant on the Prince of Tennis.

Over the weekend, Lori Henderson of Manga Xanadu debuted the first episode of the Manga Dome Podcast. It’s a nice short episode focusing on recent manga news and a few brief reviews. There aren’t many podcasts out there that I know of that focus specifically on manga, so I’m very happy to see the start of a new one. I’ve added Manga Dome to podcast list on the Resources page. (I also removed Otaku USA’s Friday ACE podcast from the list, which is now defunct.)

I’ve written a couple of posts about podcasts in the past which still get quite a few page hits: Discovering Manga: Podcasts and Discovering Manga: Podcasts, Part 2. I’d love to do another podcast post in the future, so if you know of any manga related podcasts that I haven’t yet mentioned, please do let me know!

Quick Takes

Blue Exorcist, Volumes 1-4 by Kazue Kato. After a bit of a rough start (about which I had been warned), I’m starting to really enjoy Blue Exorcist. It’s not my favorite shounen series, but I can definitely understand its wide appeal. Blue Exorcist is a fun manga with likeable characters and solid artwork. Rin Okumura is the bastard son of Satan who decides to become an exorcist after his guardian dies protecting him. The series follows him and his fellow classmates as they begin their exorcist studies. The fact that he’s part demon is something that he tries, unsuccessfully, to keep hidden. Blue Exorcist has some nice, dynamic fights. There is also a good balance between the series’ humor and its darker elements.

Kiss Blue, Volumes 1-2 by Keiko Kinoshita. I absolutely loved this two volume series. It’s certainly more realistic than most of the boys’ love manga that’s out there. The character development in particular is exceptional. Tomosaka and Noda have been best friends for years, but recently Tomosaka has come to the realization that he’s actually in love with Noda. Tomosaka struggles with his feelings, wanting to preserve their friendship while at the same time being torn apart by it. Noda, too, is conflicted and unsure of how to deal with the situation. On top of all this, Tomosaka is being sexually harassed by his manager at work who, it turns out, is caught up in his own unhappy love story. The relationships are all handled very well. Kiss Blue really is excellent.

Saiyuki, Volumes 1-5 by Kazuya Minekura. Loosely based on The Journey to the West, Saiyuki gives the beloved folk heroes new personalities, motivations, and bad-boy attitudes. Quite a few of these earlier volumes are devoted to revealing Hakkai’s tragic backstory, which is substantially different from the original. Of the main characters Hakkai is probably my favorite, so I didn’t mind this too much. (Although if you want to be picky, Gojyo and Hakkai’s stories and personalities seem to be reversed from The Journey to the West.) Minekura incorporates strange anachronisms into the story and magic and mysticism are found alongside science and technology. Saiyuki is kind of ridiculous, but I’ll admit to enjoying it.

Unico by Osamu Tezuka. Unico is the second Tezuka manga to be licensed and produced by Digital Manga through a Kickstarter project. My initial interest in the manga was based on the fact that it was being released entirely in color and that its artwork extends beyond the edge of the page. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to like Unico as much as I did, but it’s really quite wonderful. The stories follow the titular Unico, a unicorn with the power to bring happiness and good luck to those who love him. In addition to using various historical, contemporary, and futuristic settings, the manga is influenced by legends, mythology, and fairy tales. Unico is in turn delightful, heartbreaking, charming, and bittersweet.

No. 6 directed by Kenji Nagasaki. No. 6 is an eleven-episode anime based on a series of novels by Atsuko Asano. I’m rather fond of utopian/dystopian fiction, so I was looking forward to No. 6. Shion is an elite member of the city No. 6 who loses his privileges and status when he saves the life of Nezumi, a young fugitive. The relationship between Shion and Nezumi is marvelous; the two grow and change as the series progresses and as Shion learns the truth about No. 6. Although there are some fantastic moments in the last episode, the ending is unfortunately rushed and therefore somewhat disappointing. Still, up until that point I was really enjoying the series. So much so that I plan on giving the manga a try.