Judge (2010)

Are you ready to be judged for your sins?

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Source: judge-manga.wikia.com

Hi guys! Since today is Halloween, I thought I would share with you a manga with horror/mystery genre. Honestly, I’m not very fond of this genre, but I find this manga which I would share with you is very thrilling and interesting.

This manga is called Judge, written and illustrated by Tonogai Yoshiki, the same author who created Doubt in 2007 (I would make another review for it later). This manga told a story about 9 people who were kidnapped and confined in a room, where each of them wearing an animal mask. Their kidnapper informed them that it’s already time for them to be judged for their sins. They would have to judge one another as in every 12 hours, they had to choose one among them who would die until the ones who remained uncover the truth.

I find this story similar with Saw series especially where human psychology played a huge part for the story development, but without body-parts cutting scenes, which is a great relief. With only 17 chapters long, every bit of it was thrilling and interesting enough so you couldn’t stop until you finish the story. It is amazing how the author could create different characters close enough with reality so every judgment or decision they made on the manga was very realistic.

If in Doubt the characters were killed in random, it was more structural in Judge since the remaining characters were the ones to decide. So it was very intriguing to find out who will be killed next and what kind of reaction each of them would give. As someone who likes psychological play like me, this series was very satisfying. Though it would be more interesting if each character’s background was told in detail, it wasn’t a big deal. I’m still think that 17 chapters are great numbers.

Even though the idea is similar with the previous manga Doubt, this one is totally on a different level. When I read Doubt, I think it was quite easy to guess which one of them is the culprit. So basically I just reading the manga to find out how the crime was carried out and the motive behind the crime. But in Judge, the author did a good job to surprised me. The story was much more unpredictable and the biggest plot twist was put on the very end of the manga. When I finished it, I could say “Oh my that was amazing! I couldn’t see that coming at all!”.

For a Shounen manga, I think Judge has a very good art style. It was well drawn but still gave you the creeps, especially with those animal masks. From the manga cover, there’s already splotch of blood everywhere. Even so, the gore level for this manga is still far below Parasyte or Elfen Lied. So if you think you can’t really stand gore manga, this one is still safe. Even I don’t read Attack on Titan at all because I’m afraid it would be too much.

So, if you find a good reading for a mystery/horror manga, Judge probably would be perfect. It doesn’t take too long to finish the story, yet still giving you enough thrill and suspense.

Happy Halloween!

Donten ni Warau (2011)

Laugh!

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Source: amazon.com

So I just finished reading a series of manga called Donten ni Warau or Laughing Under the Clouds in English. I wondered where were I that I didn’t find this amazing series sooner, because it’s been there since 2011 and I just found it recently. But I’m still grateful that I had the chance to stumble upon this manga, because if I wasn’t I’m sure I will regret it. Thanks to MangaRock for the recommendation!

This manga is set in the 11th year of the Meiji era, where Japan was slowly changing because of the western influence and carrying swords were forbidden. But there were plenty of people who disagreed and thus the crime rates increased. The government solution was to create a prison called Gokumonjo in the middle of Lake Biwa. The protagonists, three Kumou brothers were assigned to transport the criminal through the lake to the prison. But their main job was never only transporting criminals. They had duty to prevent the rebirth of the Orochi, the legendary snake who appeared every 300 years and said to bring calamity to humankind.

At first, I thought this manga was just a series of one shot, telling the daily life of our protagonists. But at later chapters, the pieces are coming in place to create the bigger picture of the story. When I got the idea of the story, I just couldn’t stop myself from reading it until I finished. And finishing it didn’t take a long time, since it’s only 29 chapters in total. In my opinion, those numbers are just perfect, the plot wasn’t dragged with unnecessary plot and not too short either so it didn’t feel rushed at all.

The main idea itself is quite simple, but with some plot twists here and there, the story become unexpected and full of emotions. I laughed at the jokes, but I was also surprised this kind of manga could make me cry once or twice while reading through the chapters. Those element of surprises in the manga is one of the reasons why I say the story is unexpectedly very real, totally different from the other shoujo manga with the same theme.

It also has a very fitting ending, even though it’s not the kind of ending where everyone is come together and live happily ever after, but still, this kind of happy ending is fine. The manga still maintained its realistic element until the end and that’s what makes the manga even more amazing. This manga is totally one of that makes you want to read it again and again in the future.

In addition, the art was also beautifully drawn by Karakara Kemuri sensei. Her style is become one of my favorite immediately. Not to mention that almost all of her male characters are handsome (insert heart emoji here hahaha).

By the way, this manga also came up with two other series. One is Donten ni Warau Gaiden, which consists of few side stories before and after what happened at Donten ni Warau. Another one is Rengoku ni Warau, a prequel manga set in 300 years before Donten ni Warau. Go check it out, another amazing works by Kemuri sensei 🙂

Score: 9/10

 

Nagi no Asukara (2013)

Would you choose friendship over love?

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Source: crunchyroll.com

Title: Nagi no Asukara (凪のあすから)

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Slice of Life

Studio: P. A. Works

Number of Episode(s): 26

Songs:

  • lull ~Soshite Bokura wa~ by Ray (1st Opening)
  • Ebb and Flow by Ray (2nd Opening)
  • Aqua Terrarium by Yanagi Nagi (1st Ending)
  • Mitsuba no Musubime by Yanagi Nagi (2nd Ending)

Plot:

Manaka, Hikari, Chisaki and Kaname were 14 years old middle school students from the sea village Shioshishio. They had to go to Mihama Junior High on the surface since their old school has been closed down. At first, they did not get along very well with their classmates because of the fundamental separation between the sea and land people. But soon after they joined Tsumugu to build the Ojoshi-sama for Ofunehiki festival, they started to overcome their differences and worked together with the rest of the class. But the problem was not only how they adjust to the completely new environment, they also had to deal with their complicated feelings toward each other which they feared would ruin their friendship.

Then there was a bigger problem, the salt-flake snow which was supposed to fall only on the sea, started to fall on the surface. This occurrence was predicted to bring disaster to humankind as the surface will become very cold so the land people would die because they could not stand the cold while the sea people would be hibernating until the salt-flake snow stopped falling. It was believed that it happened because the Sea God lost some of his power so he became weak.

As the situation became more serious, they decided to hold the real Ofunehiki festival with expectation that it would help the Sea God restores his power and the disaster could be avoided. But the festival itself was a disaster. There was a terrible storm just when the group arrived in the middle of the sea. Manaka ended up became the Ojoshi-sama, the offering to the Sea God instead of Hikari’s sister. Hikari who failed to save Manaka, could not make it to the surface and gone in the middle of the storm. Kaname also fell to the sea after helping Chisaki saved Tsumugu. Chisaki, being the one left on the surface, could not go back to Shioshishio as the sea people already started hibernating and all access to Shioshishio has been blocked to protect the villagers. She ended up live with Tsumugu and his grandfather because she did not have anywhere to go on the surface.

Five years later, the story continued. While Chisaki and Tsumugu has grown up as a college student, Hikari, Kaname, and Manaka did not age at all because of the hibernation. The salt-flake snow is still falling on the surface too. Once again, they had to deal with their complicated feelings toward each other which was not resolved yet and the disastrous Ofunehiki festival which gonna be held again to finish what they started five years ago.

Review:

Personally, this is my favorite anime of the respected season besides Kyoukai no Kanata. Because I really like it, I watched all of the episodes in one day. I was totally lacking in sleep but it was worth the watch. In my opinion, this anime is very well made in all components. The soundtracks fit perfectly with the anime.

For the art, it is amazingly detailed, from the environment until the character design. What I love most from the anime is the psychological development of each character of the anime. They successfully deliver complex and deep character so throughout the series we are drawn to fully understand each characters and their feelings.

And for the story, I must say that it is indeed very beautiful and touching tale of friendship and love. It can bring you into tears and smile at the same time. We can really feel the character’s emotion as the story progresses. One thing that’s bugging me is I didn’t really satisfied with the ending, in my opinion it’s kinda rushed and it could be better than that. But it doesn’t really matter, the happy ending is still delivered nicely. Even though the plot is kinda slow at the beginning, it’s still worth the watch. Very recommended!

Orange (2015)

If you’re given a chance to save someone you love, will you live differently?

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Title: オレンジ (Orenji) / Orange

Genre: Friendship, Drama, Romance, School Life

Main Cast(s):

  • Tsuchiya Tao as Takamiya Naho
  • Yamazaki Kento as Naruse Kakeru
  • Ryusei Ryo as Suwa Hiroto
  • Yamazaki Hirona as Chino Takako
  • Sakurada Dori as Hagita Saku
  • Shimizu Kurumi as Murasaka Azusa

Running Time: 139 minutes

Orange is a 2015 Japanese teen drama movie adapted from a manga with the same title, written and illustrated by Takano Ichigo. It tells a story about group of six high school friends in their school life while trying to save one of them from depression.

On the first day of school in the second year of high school, Takamiya Naho receives a mysterious letter from herself ten years in the future. The letter tells her that now her future self is living with a lot of regrets and wants her younger self to prevent her biggest regret from happening. The letter itself contains predictions of what’s going to happen next in current Naho’s time to help her so that she won’t make the same mistakes. Most of the predictions are related to the transfer student from Tokyo, Naruse Kakeru.

At first, Naho didn’t believe in the letter. But after several things happened as written on the letter, she starts acting differently in hope that she can at least lessen the regrets carried by her future self. She also learns from the letter that ten years from now, Kakeru is no longer with them. In parallel, ten years in the future, Naho, Hiroto, Chino, Hagita, and Azu visiting Kakeru’s house in memorial of him. They learn the bitter truth from Kakeru’s grandmother, that Kakeru’s death is not pure accident but suicide.

Later, Hiroto confessed to Naho that he got the same letter from his future self. The content of the letter is almost the same with Naho’s, a request to save Kakeru. They realizes that even though they can’t save Kakeru in their future self’s world, at least they can create a parallel world where Kakeru will live. Both of them ask the others to help them achieve that goal, together they celebrate Kakeru’s birthday and join the relay race, where Kakeru finally reveals the truth about his mother.

On the New Year’s Eve, the time when Kakeru will commit suicide according to the letter, they make promise to go to the shrine together. But when Kakeru’s late, they start searching for him through the streets in panic. Before at home, Kakeru finds a recording of his mother who confessed that she commit suicide so Kakeru won’t feel burdened by her and wished that he will find happiness somewhere. The recording causes him a mental breakdown and he goes out of the house in his bicycle thinking that he will go after his mother. Right when he is about to get hit by the truck, the memories of his friends flash before him. He dodges the truck at the last minute, at the same time when his friends found him. He apologizes to everyone for having a thought of suicide. He confesses that he doesn’t want to die knowing that he won’t see all of them again.

Usually I always find something wrong in a live action movie, especially when I really like the manga. Because I do have my expectations when it comes to live action. The settings, the actors and actresses, the scripts, everything. But it is different with this movie. I can say I really love this live action version. This movie successfully left a deep emotional impact for me. It managed to bring me on the verge of tears in many scenes.

It might be because the manga is not that long, only for 22 chapters so that it felt like nothing has been left behind. There are scenes from the manga which is cut from the movie for sure, but it’s not a big deal. The movie still can be enjoyed as a whole without missing something.

Yamazaki Kento will always be my favorite anime guy. He often got the lead role of the live action movie of mostly favorite shoujo manga and never disappoints me. Even though I don’t really know the rest of the casts, I think they really suit their character. Overall, this movie is not that kind of tearjerker movie, but still leave a big impact to the viewer. If you ever disappointed with live action movie of your favorite manga, trust me you will not disappointed with this one. So I think this movie should be on the must watch live action movie list.

A Silent Voice (2016)

When life hits you hard, will you fight for it?

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Source: otakutale.com

Title: 聲の形 / A Silent Voice

Genre: Animation, Drama, Friendship

Production Company: Kyoto Animation

Running Time: 129 minutes

Koe no Katachi or in english titled A Silent Voice, is a 2016 japanese anime movie produced by Kyoto Animation, the same studio which produced popular anime such as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Clannad, K-On!!, Hyouka, etc. The movie is based on a manga with the same title written and illustrated by Yoshitoki Ōima.

It tells a story about Ishida Shoya who bullied a deaf girl named Nishimiya Shoko alongside his classmates back then in elementary school. The bullying continues to the point that Nishimiya has to transfer school. His classmates and the teacher blamed Ishida for what happened to Nishimiya, made him a scapegoat despite his classmates role in bullying her.

This results in Ishida being bullied and shunned by his classmates until he decides to isolate himself up until high school. He thinks that there is no point of having friends again and even considering suicide by jumping off the bridge. But then he decides to continue living after he reconciles with Nishimiya and sets to a path of redemption by trying to reconnect Nishimiya and their old classmates.

While Ishida tried to make Nishimiya befriend the others again, they realizes that they still haven’t changed from back then and so they along with the others from elementary school have a break down. They still blame each other for being ignorant of Nishimiya’s bullying, resulting in Nishimiya’s attempt to suicide by jumping off from her apartment because she blames herself for causing Ishida lost all of his friends.

At the last minute, Ishida managed to save her at the cost of his life. He is the one who fell from the veranda instead of Nishimiya. When Ishida is not conscious yet, Ueno stands by him all the time and forbids Nishimiya from visiting him. But his accident becomes a turning point for Nishimiya and his friends. When Ishida wakes up, he realizes that all of his friends are there waiting for him and he’s not alone. Together with Nishimiya and the others, he fight his biggest fears and enjoy the school festival. He decides to not ignore his surroundings anymore and moves on.

Koe no Katachi was one of the most anticipated movie in my must watch list. The movie aired in Japan around September 2016, not too long ago after Kimi No Na Wa which is aired on August 2016. So I expected the same thing happened. But even after Kimi No Na Wa finished airing in my country, it took few months later until this movie is coming out on the theater. I already finished reading the manga when I watched the movie. I can say the production house did a good job adapting the manga into a whole movie. Even people who haven’t read the manga can enjoy the movie in almost the same excitement with the people who did.

It was a journey full of mixed feelings for 2 hours. It showed us how bad bullying can affect someone’s life, even for someone who acted as the bully. It also told us that life is not all good all the way. Sometimes we are above the others, but the next seconds the situation could turn around drastically. That’s life for us.

Through Nishimiya character, we were taught that how bad our condition is, we should learn to love ourself. By doing that, not only we will live happier, people around us would also feel happy. Suicide was not a solution, it could only bring despair to people who love us. While through Ishida character, we were taught that running away is not an option. We shouldn’t be ignorant to our surroundings and never give up. There is always people like Nagatsuka who is willing to accept us as who we are. If we just open up a little and let the others come in.

There are different supporting characters with different personalities. In my opinion, those personalities are the examples of people in real life. We can’t judge the others as only good or bad. For example, Ueno. I think we are all agree that she’s a b*tch by the way she acted towards Nishimiya. But I can’t bring myself to really hate her, because I found a little bit of truth in her words. I think people are like that, not all good and not all bad.

Honestly I can’t love this movie as much as I love Kimi No Na Wa. Maybe because in Kimi No Na Wa case, I have nothing to compare except for Shinkai’s previous works. But in Koe no Katachi, which previously known as manga, people (including me) unconsciously will compare the movie with the manga. In my opinion, the transition between scenes were to fast. So it didn’t leave a deep emotional impact even on the saddest scenes. Maybe they tried so hard to fit those 60+ chapters of manga into a 2 hours long movie. I know it’s hard. In my opinion, for a story like this, the manga has already quite compact and I can say almost all of the scenes are important. So if you want to know the story in more detail I suggest you to read the manga.

So if we want to compare objectively as a standalone movie, I can say both Koe no Katachi and Kimi No Na Wa were masterpieces. Both of them had a strong emotional impact for the viewers and has such beautiful story. But if you seek more life lessons, then Koe no Katachi is better.

 

Kuzu no Honkai (2012)

They found comfort in each other, even if it’s just temporary.

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Source: mangaupdates.com

I’ve been curious about this manga for quite some time until I decided to give it a go. I just started reading this manga when it had reached chapter 42, only few chapters left until the end.

This manga tells a story about 17 years old couple Yasuraoka Hanabi and Awaya Mugi. Both of them had hopeless unrequited love for another person. Mugi loved Minagawa Akane, a young teacher and used to be his home tutor while Hanabi loved her teacher who was also her childhood friend. Hanabi was cute and Mugi was popular, both of the seemed like a perfect couple, but no one knows they were going out just to soothe their loneliness from their unrequited love. As someone who shared the same feelings, they found comfort in each other and so it led to loneliness-driven physical intimacy.

Continue reading “Kuzu no Honkai (2012)”

Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan (2007)

In the midst of the darkest path of their life, they saved each other.

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Source: mangaupdates.com

I stumbled upon this manga accidentally when I was looking at Manga Rock’s editorial collection about tragic heartbreak stories. There were 5 mangas on the list and this manga was number 4. I read this manga right away and can’t stop until I reached the end. Lucky this manga only had 8 chapters so it didn’t take a lot of time to finish.

Apparently this manga is an adaptation of a novel by South Korea’s most popular female novelist, Gong Ji-young. It tells a story of a woman and a man who had tried to kill themselves several times. The woman was a famous pianist but stopped at the age of 16. On the other hand, the man was a murderer of 3 innocents people and was sentenced to death. He had such a tragic past that led him to the murders. They ended up talking to each other every Thursday at 10AM for 30 minutes. The stories they shared to each other changed them and they who once had given up to live starting to had hope again.

Continue reading “Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan (2007)”