Graphic Novels

Naruto Vol. 1 by Masashi Kishimoto


A guest review from Teen Room Staff Brandon!

Lots of kids are shunned by their classmates, but how many can say they are shunned by the entire town? Naruto, a young upstart ninja from the Konohagakure village, the village hidden in the leaves, is determined to succeed, despite his dark past, one which he didn’t choose. As an infant, Naruto was chosen as the host for the nine-tailed fox demon that was ravaging the village, but was defeated by the first hokage. Naruto has bigger plans than just acceptance from the village. He is determined to become the hokage, the greatest ninja his entire village. The book opens to show how Naruto is shunned by the village, except for a few people. He learns of one of those people very quickly, his teacher, Iruka, when Iruka protects him from the evil Mizuchi. Iruka is injured protecting Naruto, so the tables turn and Naruto has to protect Iruka. After Naruto defeats Mizuchi, Iruka gives Naruto a leaf-village headband, and recognizes him as a full-fledged ninja. After becoming a ninja, Naruto is put into a team with Sasuke and Sakura, fellow ninja. Sasuke is set on revenge for the murder of his clan, and Sakura is more concerned with love than ninjutsu. Team chemistry is not very high, and thus at first the team does not perform well; especially with the difficult Master Kakashi as their sensei. The book ends with a test given by Master Kakashi to determine whether or not the team is ready for missions; and he determined…they fail…

What will volume 2 have in store? Is this the end for the three ninja? Simply put….no. Kishimoto weaves an intricate tale with his first volume, which transcends beautifully into a complete series of over 40 volumes. Naruto is a very intriguing tale of Naruto’s journey to become hokage, Sasuke’s quest for vengeance, and Sakura’s ongoing search for a path in life.


--Brandon

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Battle Angel Alita by Yukiro Kishiro


A guest review from Teen Room Staff Brandon!

In a futuristic society, humans, androids, and cyborgs have learned how to coexist, Daisuke Ido is a mechanic just trying to scratch out a living while pursuing his hobby of finding scraps in the junkyard to invent new things. While out scavenging, Ido stumbles upon the destroyed body of a female cyborg, with the brain still intact, in a state of hibernation. He brings the head back to his shop, and fixes the girl up. He re-awakens her brain, but cannot recover her lost memory, and takes her under his wing as a daughter; his first act as her “father” is to name her Alita.

Daisuke creates a new body for Alita, and soon she is following in his footsteps. Soon she finds out that Daisuke has a night job as well as his mechanic profession; he is a hunter-warrior, a futuristic bounty hunter. As soon as Alita discovers his true profession, she decides she wants to be a hunter- warrior as well. She goes against Daisuke’s wishes and registers to become a hunter herself. In her first bounty hunt, with Daisuke watching, she discovers she knows the Panzer Kunst, a fighting technique developed for cyborgs centuries ago.

After Alita loses a battle against Makaku, the biggest bounty around, Daisuke outfits her with a berserker body, a cyborg body used in the wars many years ago. With it she gains great power, and chooses to go after Makaku again. Using her new body, she is able to use the Panzer Kunst to defeat Makaku.

I enjoyed Battle Angel Alita, with its snappy art style and witty dialogue, along with some great action-fight scenes. It is a manga, but follows the American layout of left to right reading.

--Brandon

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Death Note Volume 1 by Tsugumi Ōba


Death Note volume 1 is the story of a very bright Japanese student, Light, who finds the Death Note, a notebook belonging to a death god. Possessing the notebook gives Light the power to kill anyone, and he decides to use that power to rid the earth of dangerous criminals. The deaths of the criminals doesn’t go unnoticed, and Light finds himself trying to stay hidden from the government who seeks to find him.

At first I had trouble getting used to the manga style of reading, but the story was so intriguing that I soon got the hang of it. The graphics were done in black and white and were very detailed. I had trouble with some of the images in that they were so detailed, but printed so small that they were hard to see. I wondered if I was missing important details, or was not getting all the information I should have from the images.

I think Death Note would create a lot of discussion in an adult or teen book group about human rights and the death penalty. It is also a great mystery story--who is Light and will he be caught? And who is the mysterious "L" character? I would recommend it.

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I Luv Halloween Vol. 1 by Keith Giffen and Benjamin Roman


A guest review from Teen Room Staff Brandon!

I Luv Halloween is not a normal persons’ manga. It is read left to right in the traditional American comic style, but I must warn any potential readers, the content is quite a bit gruesome.

With that disclaimer out of the way, I have to say that I Luv Halloween was a fun book to read. It takes place in a little neighborhood where the local children are trick or treating on Halloween. The entire book takes place on the night of Halloween, but follows several different story arcs within that time period.

The main story revolves around Finch, and his group of friends, Pig Pig, Mr. Kitty, and Devil Lad. Soon after the opening, Finch loses his sister, and falls victim to the dreaded “Apple Jack Curse.” (If you receive an apple or other non-candy item at the first house, it’s bad luck for the rest of the night.)

Another story focuses on Finch’s lost sister, Moochie, who is dressed up as the tooth fairy. She traipses around town in search of molars, which she usually pulls from live people after knocking them unconscious. A local boy, Spike joins Moochie later on in the story.

Yet another story focuses on the neighborhood bullies, and their conquest of the neighborhood kids, and their candy supply. Unfortunately for them, they cross paths with Moochie, who decides she wants their molars. She proceeds to knock them out, and they swear revenge when they wake up.

The final story is very minor, but it is the saga of two local high school kids, Biff and his girlfriend. They first encounter Moochie, who steals a certain undergarment of Biff’s girlfriend to use as a slingshot while they are engaging in some promiscuous business in the bushes. Biff and his girlfriend then enlist Finch to find his sister, and retrieve the undergarment.

I Luv Halloween is a very interesting tale of an alternate version of Halloween. The kids pile up quite a body count, between their quest for candy, and Moochie’s search for molars, in some very disturbing scenes. I Luv Halloween is certainly not for the faint of heart, but if you can stomach it, provides some laughs as well.

--Brandon

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Priest by Min-Woo Hyung


A guest review from Teen Room Staff Brandon!

Priest is a no-holds barred, shoot first; ask questions later kind of graphic novel. The protagonist, Ivan Isaacs, is a former priest who has sold half his soul to the devil, Belial, to attempt to save his love, Gena. Priest opens with Ivan riding on a train through the west with a criminal accompanied by four marshals (law enforcement). The criminal turns out to be the boss of the local gang, Rebel Angels. Being the boss of the local gang has its perks, and Lizzie (the boss) is the target of a rescue by her gang. The gang takes over the train, kills the crew and marshals, and robs the passengers, and loot the rest of the train; but when they attempt to rob Ivan, they find a little bit more resistance than they bargained for. While demanding that Ivan comply, the gang’s second in command, Kacho, hears his scouts scream from the rear of the train, where they have discovered a chained car, in which they assume are treasures.

Unluckily for the scouts, there is no treasure present, but a horde of undead zombies, who have been awakened by the bloodshed of the train’s inhabitants. These undead serve the fallen archangel, Temozarela, who Ivan knows as Jarbilong. He knew the contents of the final car, and prophesized the gang’s demise if they did not leave the train. Of course, they didn’t listen to him, and attempted to fight the undead horde they unleashed. Their struggle was in vain as they fought the immortal soldiers of Temozarela. Ivan finally steps in after the zombies have killed all but Lizzie, and defends her because she reminds him of Gena. Ivan takes a mortal wound while protecting Lizzie, and she realizes he is immortal. The wound triggers him to call upon his demonic power, driving him into a frenzy in which he kills all the zombies, and nearly kills Lizzie. His memories of Gena are the only thing that saves her. He tells her to flee the train because more undead soldiers are approaching, and subsequently blows it up.

Priest presents a fast paced novel with many action-packed gunfights. As I stated before, it is a graphic novel, but rather than Japanese style, it is read from left to right. I enjoyed Priest for its main storyline featuring Ivan’s quest to regain his soul and join Gena in the afterlife, but I think many people would enjoy it for its shoot-em-up nature.

--Brandon


***

One Piece Vol. 1: Romance Dawn by Eiichiro Oda


A guest review from Teen Room Staff Brandon!

Can you remember a time when comic books were the coolest thing since sliced bread, to be cliché? Well, their time has come once again, but in a different form. The new craze sweeping the teen scene is manga, which is Japanese for whimsical pictures can be loosely translated to comics outside of Japan. Manga is different in its style as well as its format. Traditional books are read left to right, but manga comics are read right to left, beginning with what (in the American style) would be the back cover. If that doesn’t sound like your style, then you might just want to skip this review and move onto the next. That said, let’s move onto the book.

Romance Dawn opens the One Piece saga with a young Monkey D. Luffy, the protagonist. He is always seen trying to join his idol, Shanks’ pirate ship, but Shanks won’t let him. Thus, he hangs out with Shanks at the local tavern where he accidentally eats the Gum-Gum Fruit, which allows his body to stretch, much like a rubber band or piece of chewed gum. This presents a problem because Luffy is determined to find the One Piece, the greatest treasure in the world, and eating one of the Devil Fruits (there are many) deprives the eater of their ability to swim.

The book fast forwards to Luffy when he has grown and goes out to sea. He befriends a couple of rogue sea people, a bounty hunter turned pirate, and a thief who steals from pirates. Romance Dawn follows their adventures on the East Blue Ocean.

The first volume in the series, Romance Dawn establishes the wonderful writing and illustration style of Oda. Driving dialogue help propel and keep the reader interested in the several substories present underneath Luffy’s grand quest for the One Piece.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and all its subsequent volumes. It is well written and has appeal to many age groups, from youth to adult.


--Brandon

P.S. from Melissa--even if you don't think you'll like Manga, give one a try! You might really be surprised!
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