Fall 2012 Staff Pics

Natsume’s Book of Friends
Submitted by Marie.

Combine the variety and wonder of yokai from Mushi-shi with the loneliness and acceptance from Fruits Basket, wrap it in the nostalgic-even-though-you’ve-never- been-there scenery and atmosphere from ARIA, and you’ve got Natsume’s Book of Friends. My go-to anime whenever I’m in need of a smile, Natsume is episodic in nature, while still featuring over-arching character development and an ever-expanding cast of recurring characters - perfect for both a quick pick-me-up or a lazy Sunday marathon. With NISA’s beautiful packaging job for their premium edition, I couldn’t recommend it more.

Inu Yasha: The Final Act
Submitted by Christy, Marketing & Public Relations

The first installment of The Final Act continues the time- traveling, fantasy saga of Inu Yasha and Kagome on their quest to defeat Naraku. The story picks up essentially right where the original series left off, so rather than going through several filler episodes of exposition, the action kicks in immediately. Despite the years since the end of the original series, there’s no difficulty in reinvesting in the fates of characters onscreen - it immediately feels as though the viewer is revisiting old friends. This is a “must-watch” for all fans of Inu Yasha.

Shakugan no Shana
Submitted by Alison, Marketing & Public Relations

Shana is a Flame Haze, responsible for disposing of those who feed upon human souls and their potential. But when student Yuji Sakai gets caught in the crossfire, everything changes for both of them. Fans (and soon-to-be fans) of the sword-wielding “girl with fire in her eyes” have a lot to look forward to: action, drama, romance and supernatural adventure. With season 1 back in print (and newly available in HD) and with the movie, OVA, and TV sequels also on the way, there’s no better time to get into this series!

Piano: The Melody of a Young Girl's Heart
Submitted by Lisa, Customer Care

Piano is a great display of how things change and young girls can easily be distracted and lose sight of what is important. Miu Nomura is a teenager struggling to find her place and has become distracted, losing her passion for playing the piano along the way. Her music teacher, Mr. Shirakawa, has noticed her lack of interest in her music and tries to help her regain it by pushing her to excel.

Durarara!!
Submitted by Marie, Production

If you’ve seen its predecessor Baccano!, perhaps you’ll understand when I say Durarara!! is not an action show. Instead, it’s a show about character interactions, which are often violent (and entertaining) as a matter of fortuitous happenstance. Revelations about the plot come as they interact, each individual subplot weaves itself into the whole until we see Ikebukuro’s community as a vibrant web, with nodes you’d never expect connected by threads as strange as a Dullahan’s lost head and as ubiquitous as a chat board. And when those connections prove to have a little “tension”, the action is downright great.

Dirty Pair Flash
Submitted by Tony C., I.T.

When I first saw Kei and Yuri several years ago, I’d just watched Serial Experiments Lain and Cowboy Bebop and was gripped by a dark melancholy, burned out on existential angst and moody atmospheres. Dirty Pair Flash was the antidote I needed. It was the first time I was able to just relax, enjoy cute girls doing cute and sometimes unbelievably violent things and giggle insanely. Fiery Kei and sultry Yuri filled the screen with beauty, bravado and intermittent brutal mayhem. Now, with the re-release from Nozomi Entertainment, my Yuri crush has been rekindled. Where did I stash her desktop wallpapers?

Tazza: The High Rollers
Alison, Marketing & Public Relations

Capers and schemes are familiar territory for Director Choi Dong-hoon (The Big Swindle and The Thieves), and with Tazza, he digs deep into the world of professional gamblers and the characters that inhabit it, from rookies and masters to femme fatales and easy marks. Whether or not you know the Korean card games that serve as a backdrop for the action, you’ll find yourself seduced by this fast-paced drama that delivers a substantial story with inimitable style.

GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class
Submitted by Tony C., I.T.

It’s rare for me to dislike a 4-koma manga, but equally rare for me to read one again and again, rolling the little stories and jokes over in my mind, looking for the more subtle jewels of wit and truth. Along with Lucky Star, Geijutsuka is one of the latter. It’s full of observations - of life, of culture, of creativity - that might seem almost inconsequential until you realize how spot on they really are. It also helps that the writing and the characters are genuinely funny, full of energy, adventurousness and driven to create.

Shoulder a Coffin, Kuro
Submitted by Christy, Marketing & Public Relations

Kuro carries a small coffin strapped to her back as she travels from place to place on a quest whose purpose is shrouded in mystery. Her constant companions include a talking bat and two young, cat-eared girls. Though a coffin- toting heroine and her pals might not seem like the usual 4-koma fare, Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro is actually overflowing with adorably illustrated characters, and charming, humorous stories. Every so often, though, a hint of something just a little bit sinister surfaces, leaving the reader with a slight chill and wondering what will happen next.

Paradise Kiss
Submitted by Christy, Marketing & Public Relations

Yukari, who considers herself just a normal high school senior, suddenly finds her life mixed up with an eccentric crew of fashion design students whose friendship adds longed-for color and excitement to her days. Ai Yazawa’s art and designs keenly depict the group’s fashion-centric world, where the reader is quickly caught up in the drama and passionate natures of the characters. Part 1 of Vertical’s release features a brand new translation, color plates and a larger trim size, making it a “must-read” for both new and old fans of Paradise Kiss and Ai Yazawa.

Kekkaishi
Submitted by Marie, Production

All good things must come to an end, and Kekkaishi wraps up its run with everything it ever promised us. Each character’s individual paths come together as the foundations of their world are rocked with violent upheaval, and Yoshimori is finally given his chance to end his night job for good. Yellow Tanabe’s unique blend of the inventive and practical shines all the way through to her grand finale, deftly mixing action with sentiment (I confess one particular scene made me tear up) for a thoroughly satisfying conclusion.

Jack the Ripper: Hellblade
Submitted by Christy, Marketing & Public Relations

Scotland Yard is on the hunt for a madman dubbed Jack the Ripper, who leaves a trail of gruesome murder scenes behind him. What the inspectors don’t realize is that there’s far more to the nightly deaths than meets the eye. Je-Tae Yoo takes an already blood-spattered piece of history and adds to it even more layers of mystery, plus elements of the supernatural, which results in a debut volume full of heart-pounding horror and unexpected twists and turns. These first chapters promise to leave readers wanting more and undoubtedly asking, “Who is Jack the Ripper?”

Flowers of Evil
Submitted by Alison, Marketing & Public Relations

A middle-school bookworm’s boring life takes a turn for the bizarre when his female classmate witnesses a momentary lapse of judgment and proceeds to blackmail him. The Flowers of Evil mixes its coming-of-age story with a dose of psychological suspense that belies the ages of its characters. How much humiliation can protagonist Takao endure before he cracks? How does a girl like Nakamura come by such a penchant for sadistic mind games? There’s a lot of dysfunction to mine in the future volumes of this award-nominated manga.

Attack on Titan
Submitted by Alison, Marketing & Public Relations

Giants known as Titans have overrun the planet, and humanity (their preferred food) survives by remaining holed up in a massive walled fortress. Manga-ka Hajime Isayama jumps headfirst into the action: establishing the graphic brutality of the Titans’ attacks; showing that no character is truly safe; and providing the defense force’s recruits with motivation to dream of fighting back and seeing the world beyond the settlement’s walls. If you’re a fan of dark sci-fi and fantasy works like Biomega, Project ARMS and Berserk, you need to check out this series.