First Impressions of New Manga

Written By Stephen Hohmann 09/19/05

Wow... She's

     Back when manga and primarily anime first started showing up on these shores, post Sailor Moon, (I know Speed Racer, Astroboy and all that but at the time they were just cartoons to everyone, not "anime") I bought into some of the hype. I had watched a lot of Sailor Moon in the mornings before school and got into it pretty heavily but this was before internet was all over so how into something could people really get in those days. I didn't understand a damn thing that was going on, timeline was out the window and if ever I mentioned its appeal to me, I was instantly looked at oddly for liking "a girl show." It would have been equated to watching My Little Pony. So, I gave up on Sailor Moon. A few years later, Dragonball Z showed up and by this time there was internet all over the place so when I started watching it on television, my thirst for knowledge on its many plotlines and characters was quenched, more or less accurately. Plus, it was all about fighting so my ninth grade chums liked it as well. The internet also told us that this wasn't a regular show, it was Japanese animation, or Japanimation as complete fucking idiots say, otherwise known as ANIME.
People first read
this when I was
like 3 or something...

     Over the next couple years, my interest in Dragonball Z grew and grew but I was afraid to branch out into any new series. The ones on Cartoon Network didn't really appeal to me, Knights of the Zodiac was one I think. Gundam Wing kind of interested me but it was too complicated for me to even think about wading into. I just bought the cool toys. Then, more and more anime came out and then manga started showing up here and people started calling themselves otaku. Little old me in the corner just liked his DBZ... Honestly, I was afraid to try anything new. I'm very closed-minded, come to think of it. My friends tried getting me into Rurouni Kenshin, Trigun, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Excel Saga... Each one I gave about a weeks worth of time to before I decided they weren't worth the investment and that I should just keep spending my money on DBZ stuff. Eventually, I stopped buying DBZ stuff all together as well. By this time, many people scoffed at Dragonball Z so I sometimes denied ever liking it in the first place. Anime in my eyes was a silly fad waiting to die out soon. I was pretty wrong, I think.
     In my article The Legacy of Dragonball, I go into detail about my falling out and then falling back in with Dragonball Z. For the purposes of this writing, let's just say over the past summer I fell back in love with Dragonball, and hard. Star Wars Episode III had just been shown and the buildup to that was monolithic. It was all I thought about for three months solid, all I spent my money on. Then, I saw the movie which kicked ass... And then I sort of felt empty. Do you know what I mean? I was completely satisfied by the movie and my time obsessing over it and yet, there was an emptiness waiting to be filled by my next big obsession. I'm a phase kind of guy. My interests go through phases, in with one thing, out with another and they recycle often. Dragonball's second pass was coming and after Episode III was the perfect opportunity.
     After going through all 16 volumes of Dragonball, I started to get that... empty feeling again. I'm still, at the time of this writing, making my way through the English dub of Dragonball as well as keeping up with the Dragonball Z DvDs, and yet, it wasn't enough. Dragonball sparked motivation to search for other manga, similar to Dragonball. Word of mouth on DaizEX mentioned that One Piece's author is heavily influenced by Akira Toriyama and DBZ's former popularity had been compared to the anime Naruto's current popularity. So, I read a volume of each. My mind being open once again to new anime, I watched an episode of Fullmetal Alchemist. It really blew me away. A friend recommended Bleach among others. So, now I'm dabbling in a few new mangas and I have finally gotten to the point of this article, my first impressions of each of the afformentioned titles.

After watching a few anime music videos centering on this anime, I found the action really impressive. I also liked the swordplay and the videos themes were seemingly about a romance between the male lead and a dark female. I went out on a limb and bought the first volume of the manga and after reading the first chapter, I'm glad I did. I really like the bits of humor and goofiness, like the note about the table being just part of the site gag and how Ichiro was wiping off the fake mustache on the floor. In addition to the humor, the action is really terrific. The main character is likable and if there is a romance between him and the girl then bring it on. Her reactions to his energy really remind me of Dragonball Z. "I cannot believe his power, I've never seen this in a human before, his sword is so big, etc. etc." Good stuff. Excited to see where this series goes.
First Impression Score -
This anime turned my head a while back but it wasn't enough to draw me in. I never actually watched an episode, it was just an incredible word of mouth I was hearing. An old friend of mine who was a long time anime-hater mentioned he was actually impressed by it. That was a very big surprise because he hates on EVERYTHING I like, be it DBZ, Harry Potter or Final Fantasy... Then there has been talks of it being the greatest anime ever made... I'm not sure about that because I'm pretty much a newb when it comes to anime but I watched an episode of it a few nights ago and it was great. The quality really stood out. I'm used to the half-assed filler episodes of the Freeza saga and anime has obviously come a LONG way since then. The other thing that REALLY surprised me about it was how dark it was. In the episode I saw a little girl gets bonded to a dog and becomes a tragic mutant in constant pain. This little girl! "Kill me..." I think she said. WHOA! That's dark shit. Then this guy in an alleyway explodes the thing against a brick wall. OMGWTF?!?! I haven't really begun on this series yet, I have the first volume but have yet to read the intro story or anything so I don't know much else about what's going on except that my pre-first impression on the "robot-guy" was wrong. I thought that the main character was a robot builder or something and the thing following him around was a robot he created as a friend. I had no idea it was actually his brother and if I'm not mistaken, he destroyed his brother's original body in a spell to bring back his dead mother? I'll find out later tonight probably. Anyway, I'm excited to see what Fullmetal Alchemist is really all about.
First Impression Score -
"Narutards" was the first reference to this manga I ever heard. Wow, the fans of this show are that respected? Cool. Friends of mine who are really into anime were raving about it a long time ago, "NARUTOOOOO!!! OMG, ITS SO GOODZORS~!!111oneone1!!!" I was above anime then and took it as the next big stupid anime. Perhaps this is still the viewpoint of others but I really like it myself. I'm in the middle of volume 2 right now and it's been a kick ass journey so far. What really hooked me was the twist/revalation that Naruto was actually the Nine-Tailed Fox. Whoa, that's cool. Plus, we all feel like an outsider once in while so it's really easy to relate to Naruto. It's humor hits just as hard as its drama/action. The two elements are nicely woven together. Nice surprises at every turn. I've seen the first two dub episodes and they are terrific and I'm currently at 65% of the first 25 subbed episodes on a torrent. Come on! Get done! Get done! NARUTOOOOOO!!!! YOU ARE THE PWNZOR! ALL MY BASE ARE BELONG TO YOU!!! Wait, did I just say that... I'm in fucking high school again... And I love it.
First Impression Score -
One Piece is maybe the one that impresses me the most of them all. I've read about just as much of it as Naruto and I'm having a tough time figuring out which one I like the best. Like Naruto, its action and humor are nicely balanced, yet One Piece seems a bit more silly. At the same time, its story so far has been so much more epic and adventuresome. I never thought pirates could be cool, but maybe I was wrong. The comparisons between One Piece and Dragonball are undeniable. Luffy and Goku have much the same spirit, they are out to prove what they've got and have some good times whilst doing it. The overall structures are the same, hunting for the dragonballs, hunting for one piece. It's still in it expository stages so I'll have to read more to find out just how similar they really are. The characters are great. Zoro is a nice counterpoint to Luffy's goofiness but they make a great team. Once they find a navigator, they will perhaps be unstoppable. How big is Luffy's crew going to get? How much treasure will they find along the way? What dangers await them on the Grand Line, if they ever get the map? So many questions and so many volumes of manga readily at my disposal. I love that feeling.
First Impression Score -

     In the coming months I'm going to have a lot of manga reading to do. Once I read several more volumes I'll perhaps do a follow up and see if their ratings increase or fall short of my initial impressions.

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