April 2015 Books Completed

April books! I read 9 titles this month, but I’m a little bit behind. (Just by two.)

Cress by Marissa Meyer. The Lunar Chronicles series (young adult speculative fiction) is an easy read — not challenging or thought-provoking, but a fun ride. 3 out of 5 stars

Rin-ne Vol. 1-5. The first three volumes of this one were a re-read, but Vol. 4 & 5 were new to me and also good developments for the series. It’s still not as good as Inuyasha, but it’s an enjoyable series with the same art style from Rumiko Takahashi I’ve really come to love. There’s a full review available here. 3 out of 5 stars

Food Wars! Vol. 5. Next volume in the Food Wars! manga continues the training camp from hell for the first-year students. There wasn’t enough Erina in this one for me. 3.5 out of 5 stars

Lola Levine is Not Mean! by Monica Brown. Another book for my internship – a chapter book about a girl who loves soccer, but sometimes can be too aggressive. 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Princess Who Had No Kingdom by Ursula Jones. Another picture book, this time about a princess without a kingdom who goes around on a bit of an adventure as she seeks her kingdom. 5 out of 5 stars

What were your favorite books this April?

Read or Drop? Rinne Vol. 1-5

When I reviewed Food Wars!, I mentioned that I’m not typically a huge shounen series lover – with the exception of all work by Rumiko Takahashi, the mangaka of series like Inuyasha and Ranma ½. Rinne, Takahashi’s newest manga, revisits many of the same themes addressed in both series I mentioned, and that thrills me beyond belief.

KYOKAI NO RINNE © 2009 Rumiko TAKAHASHI/SHOGAKUKAN

KYOKAI NO RINNE © 2009 Rumiko TAKAHASHI/SHOGAKUKAN

One reason I fell so deeply in love with the Inuyasha series was because of how the series treated its protagonist and titular character, a teenage boy who is half-demon and half-human. Inuyasha is a loner, ostracized by humans for being half-demon and looked down on by demons who see his human half as less worthwhile.

Like Inuyasha, the titular character – Rinne Rokudo – is a mixed-race character, though rather than half-demon, he’s part human and part Shinigami. The Japanese Shinigami is something like a grim reaper, a supernatural being whose duty it is to guide the dead to the afterlife. In Rinne, Shinigami also have other duties, mainly dispatching evil spirits and making sure nothing supernatural goes terribly awry. But Rinne, who is part Shinigami and part human, has diluted supernatural abilities, making him more dependent on devices than other Shinigami.

Takahashi’s work rarely has a hero who is also the protagonist, and the true protagonist of the series is a girl named Sakura Mamiya, who sees ghosts and spirits but is otherwise ordinary.

The first five volumes so far have served to introduce the series’ major players: the protagonist Sakura, the titular character Rinne, each of the two’s other primary love interest, and Rinne’s father, who seems to be the Big Bad of the series. These volumes also set up most of the running gags of the series: Rinne’s extreme poverty and subsequent stinginess, Tsubasa Jumonji’s obtuse one-sided crush on Sakura, and the Shinigami Ageha’s unrequited love for Rinne.

(It wouldn’t be a Rumiko Takahashi story without a love hexagon or three.)

One of my grievances with this series, though, is that I’m five volumes in and have no idea what the overarching plot is about. It seems to be more in line with a Ranma ½ style situational/romantic comedy, but the Shinigami plot feels more like Inuyasha’s more epic style, which is a bit confusing. No quest has appeared so far, and the largest issue (besides Rinne being extremely broke) is whether or not Sakura and Rinne are into one another.

The series is very funny, though, and I’ve enjoyed the whole thing. The art style is pretty typical of Takahashi’s, which has been so consistent over the course of different series that you practically expect Ranma and Inuyasha themselves to pop up at some point.

I’m not sure if too many people would be falling over themselves for this series, but lovers of Ranma’s light tone and Inuyasha’s supernatural elements will love it.

Story: 2.5 out of 5

Art: 3.5 out of 5

Overall: 3 out of 5

Spring Anime 2015: The Launchboard

It’s been over a week since the spring anime season started, but my schedule’s been so loaded I haven’t had the chance to write about the anime I’ll be starting this spring!  The list is pretty long, so check it out and see if there are any series you’re watching as well.

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Souma. There wasn’t a way I wouldn’t watch this – it’s been on my list since I picked up the first volume of manga! You can find more of what I have to say about Food Wars here.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?. I picked up the light novel version of this series back in December just based on how ridiculous that title is. As it turns out, it’s a fun read, filled with great action scenes and good world-building. I’m just hoping the show won’t disappoint.

My Love Story! (Ore Monogatari!). This series may seem like a total 180 from the types of series I normally enjoy: it’s about a tall and scary-looking guy who just wants to have a sweet love story with a nice girl. I’ve got the first volume of the manga, which is published as My Love Story! by Viz, and I’m looking forward to seeing it as a show because I think it’s absolutely hilarious.

Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches. This is another series I’ve been looking forward to since reading the manga – it was available on Crunchyroll Manga for quite some time, and I think it’s still available for premium users. A shonen comedy – but I’ll let you check it out on your own.

Rinne. Confession: I freaking love Rumiko Takahashi. So much. Inuyasha was my first anime, and Rinne – which features a boy who’s part Shinigami – so far handles a lot of themes I love seeing in Takahashi’s work, especially the experiences of someone who’s biracial. But more on that later.

Uta no Prince-sama Maji Love 3000%. Yeah. That title. This series is about a boy idol group whose members are all in love with the same girl. Yeah… but the music is fun, and it’s a series you’ll just have fun with. This is the third season.

With my time at graduate school coming to an end, I’m looking forward to checking out tons of anime with all the free time I’m expecting to have. (Ha!) What anime are you watching this spring?