Manga vs. Anime: Black Butler

It’s time for another Manga vs. Anime edition. This time our star is Black Butler. I’ve watched almost all of the anime episodes and am shocked (okay maybe not that shocked) to see how fast the anime veers off-course from the manga. There are only 6 (soon to be 7) volumes of the mange out in the US right now, but after a bit of research there should be at least 12 volumes and it’s still marked as ongoing. So, who knows how many volumes it will eventually end up with. The anime only covers roughly the first five volumes, even though there are 24 episodes in season one. Honestly, this kind of excites me because I hated how the anime ended. I have renewed hope that the manga will end up on a completely different course.

Today I’m going to cover the first 3 volumes/6 episodes. There anime goes off in it’s own direction after that, but there are episodes later in the season that cover volumes 4 & 5, but I’m not sure I’ll cover it in a post. It’s a side story at best and I’m not sure I want to do the comparison, but we’ll see.

When I say that the anime covers the first five volumes, I should say roughly. Almost immediately they make up their own story line. In the manga chapter one is about introducing the main players and showing how good of a butler Sebastian is. Their guest, Chalus, is meant to be highly impressed and brings something important to Ciel that comes into play later. (More on this in a bit) It’s short and to the point, which is perhaps the problem.

There wasn’t enough meat to make this first chapter into a full episode so they needed to expand, but in the process completely changed it. Their guest is now an Italian man running one of their companies in India. It seems like he is reporting in, but in fact he has already sold the company and is trying to swindle Ciel out of more money. They also add in this horrific game where the pieces the man lands on (broken leg, ghosts, being burned in a fire) end up coming true. This episode has always kind of confused me, especially since at one point Sebastian is locking the man in an oven, but in the end he is seen limping away from the manor screaming. I wish they had kept the Chalus story line and just beefed it up a bit, especially since he comes into play in chapter 3 in the manga. However, we do still get to see how impressive Sebastian is including the very cool remove the tablecloth scene.

Chapters 2 and 3/4 are flopped in the anime. Episode two goes straight into the drug/kidnapping storyline that is told in chapters 3 & 4. This is where I’m not sure why they took out Chalus because the item he brings back from Italy is what helps Ciel nail the mobster. The flop in order would have made sense at that point since the two are so closely related. Although, I can still understand the change since chapter 2/episode 3 is kind of fluffy without much action. Beyond throwing in extra scenes with madam Red, Lau, and Grelle the episode is pretty spot on to the manga. Even the additional scenes, which are taken from later chapters, are pretty true to the manga. (Beyond moving them that is.)

Chapter 2 (aka episode 3) is another one that needed a lot of beefing up. Their solution? Throw in Grelle, a horrible butler, and get Sebastian to train him! (And the ah ha moment for why they intro’d them sooner than the manga) His ineptness is even worse than the normal crews! (I wasn’t sure that was possible.) He offers comic relief and the extra minutes they needed to make it a full episode. Beyond the Grelle moments, the episode is pretty spot on. Lizzie comes and takes over in her cute, yet annoying way. We learn she is Ciel’s betrothed and loves everyone/everything to look adorable. The only thing they really left out was that Lizzie is his cousin. They also add in some set-up for the next episode and throw in some more back-story on the Phantomhive family. All in all, the additions work and nothing feels too out of place.

Episodes 4 -6 are part of a big story arc and cover chapters 6-14. Ciel is called to London to investigate the Jack the Ripper case. There are several twist and turns and Ciel gets way more than he bargained for. If you’ve not read the series yet and don’t want to be spoiled…stop reading now. You’ve been warned…Ciel finds out that Jack the Ripper is non-other then his dear aunt, Madam Red, and Grelle. Oh, did I mention that Grelle is really a grim reaper?? Yeah.

I have to say the episodes stayed pretty close to the manga here, although I still feel as if the manga did it a hair better. There’s more back-story, especially to Madam Red that really fleshes out her story. Her cinematic record (think life flashing before your eyes at death) is a full chapter and really delves into how much she loves Ciel’s dad/her sister husband, but also how much she adored her sister and how she tried to make it all work. Losing everything she loved–her sister, brother-in-law, husband, and unborn child—really took a toll on her. It’s no wonder the poor woman snapped. I wish the anime hadn’t boiled it down to just the basic. There was such beauty in the full story and deserved to get the full airtime.

The only other thing they changed/added that really bugged me is when Grelle, who is about to be killed by Sebastian, shouts out that he knows who killed Ciel’s parents. This is not in the manga, although I’m not sure it if will be later. I do know it is a set-up for later story lines in the anime–ones that lead Ciel to the truth. And ones that I particular hated and hope does not end up in the manga. Or if it does, I hope it takes more time to fully explain it and flesh it out. (Still crossing fingers for something utterly different)

Whew. That my friends is basically the first three volumes/six episodes! The anime of course skips a couple of chapters, which made me a little sad. They weren’t important chapters in the be-all-end-all sense, but they’re good none-the-less. One chapter gave us more insight on Sebastian and how miserable…frustrated…trapped he really is, especially when it comes to the other manor staff. Plus it offered a couple of good laughs, especially with all the staff blunders. In the other one we met Lizzie’s mom/Ciel’s aunt. Okay, so I can see why they skipped this one, but it was fun to see someone give Ciel a run for his money when it comes to competitiveness. I hope sure hope that spunk comes out in Lizzie later.

While I have seen all 24 episodes of the anime, and enjoyed it, the manga is better hands down. I’m excited to see all the story lines the anime skipped and where it’ll end up overall. I may still do the last few comparisons, but most likely I’ll just review volumes 6 on up on their own merit.

If you’ve seen/read Black Butler, be sure to let me know what you think

Manga Review: The Wallflower


Manga Review: The WallflowerThe Wallflower by Tomoko Hayakawa
Series: The Wallflower #1
Release Date: Aug. 2012
Publisher: Kodansha America, Incorporated
Pages: 224

MAKEOVER OF THE CENTURY It's a gorgeous, spacious mansion, and four handsome, fifteen-year-old friends are allowed to live in it for free! There's only one condition-that within three years the guys must transform the owner's wallflower niece into a lady befitting the palace in which they all live! How hard can it be? Enter Sunako Nakahara, the agoraphobic, horror-movie-loving, pockmark-faced, frizzy-haired, fashion-illiterate recluse who tends to break into explosive nosebleeds whenever she sees anyone attractive. This project is going to take more than our four heroes ever expected: it needs a miracle! This volume of The Wallflower includes special extras after the story!

This one ended up being an epic fail for me for several reasons. In fact, I barely made it through volume one. I have been told it gets better, but after the first volume I have no desire to go on.

The first thing that gave me the hardest time was the artwork. Most of the time I can look past drawing. After all, I’m not expecting acts of genius from mangas, but this one just really bugged me for some reason. I think it was the lips. I felt like ever character had these Botox-injection huge lips. And then there were times when it looked like a bunch of clowns had walked into the storyline. I kid you not. My teens and I joked about it at Anime Club last week. I mean I know it’s not supposed to be a serious manga, but a lynch mob of clowns just kind of freaks me out.

Also, the whole “ugly girls make me sick” made me want to SCREAM. If it was just the guy who broke her heart who had said it, I could have let it pass. However, on several occasions the main characters say it as well. I don’t care if you are model-gorgeous teenage boys, saying something like that is extremely shallow. Yes, I know it plays into the ugly duckling into swan thing, but I don’t know it really hit a nerve with me. The only redeeming quality is they do seem to start to care for Sunako in their own weird way. Also, there is a mention that it’s her negativity that makes her ugly and not she herself her is ugly. I did like that the other three boys almost killed the one who used the ugly word with her.

While there was a lot I didn’t like, I did like the brief moments where Sunako went into kick butt moments. She took on this fierce role where she became unstoppable. It was quite enjoyable to see her enter those modes. Unfortunately, it is just not enough to make me pick up volume 2 and continue the series.

Have you read The Wallflowers? Am I truly giving up too soon?

Manga Review: W Juliet


Manga Review: W JulietW Juliet by Emura
Series: W Juliet #1
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC

Makoto Amano wants to become an actor, but his stern father has decreed that the only way Makoto can pursue his dream is to spend the last two years of high school as a girl! He quickly makes friends with popular tomboy Ito Miura, another drama enthusiast at this new high school and the only student to find out his secret--but are they more than pals?

If you’ve been paying attention to my summer reading posts you may have guessed I’ve been a bit stressed/in a mental overload. Since my new found love for manga (thank you Fruits Basket) I find when I need an easy read/mental break manga is the place to go. Since Fruits Baskets and After School Charisma are the only series I have read I have a lot to choose from. My anime teens have thrown a lot of suggestions at me, but I have to confess I’ve been picking what manga to read by what is in. I literally scan the shelves to see which series have book one in. Seriously…but amazingly it’s worked quite well so far.

My latest selection was W Juliet by Emura. While this is an older series, it was one I had never heard of and am so glad I gave it a go. W Juliet is about two teens, Ito and Makoto, who are not as they appear. Ito may look and act like a boy, but underneath is all she is a woman. And Makoto, well, he may look like a girl, but he is all man. Ito may not have a excuse beyond being a tomboy, but Makoto disguise is the key to his future. As the only son he is expected to take over the family dojo, but the only thing Makoto wants to be is an actor. Makoto’s father disapproves, but eventually makes a deal with him; if he can live and graduate high school (2 years) as a woman without anyone finding out he may go after his dream. Makoto knows it is the only way out of his father’s control and accepts the deal.

Ito, of course, finds out about Makoto’s secret right away (by accident) and vows to help him make it though. After all, it’s a pretty big feat to accomplish on ones own, especially with all the obstacles that get thrown in his way. But the question still remains…will it be enough? Can Makoto live as a woman for two years without anyone finding out the truth, especially when Iko and Makoto start to fall in love?

I whipped through this series (14 volumes) in about a week. I will admit that the story lines are kind of predictable and repetitive, but something about them drew me in. Perhaps it the romantic heart of mine that enjoyed seeing Ito and Makoto fall for each other. Or my need to have a happy ending that kept me going to make sure it would all turn out okay. While undoubtedly those both played a role, it was more than that. There was a lot of humor that kept it light, but there was some more serious issue thrown in as well. Yes, some of the characters annoyed the crap out of me, but there was never a time where I didn’t want to see what happened next. I also loved the hidden identity aspect of it as well. The whole “double” Juliet plot just really intrigued me for some reason.

Sadly, this one does not have an anime attached to it. It would have been fun to do a Anime vs. Manga comparison, but it was not meant to be. I do believe that fans of Fruits Basket/shojo will eat this series up. While it is certainly not flawless, it has enough charm to make it an easy recommendation to all manga lovers.

Manga vs. Anime: Fruits Basket

I have a confession to make. I have been an anime fan for well over 15 years, but until last month I never touched the manga. While I fully support and advocate graphic novels, they have always been hard for me to read. There have been some exceptions like Rapunzel’s Revenge, but for the most part I’ve stayed away from actually reading them. And when it came to manga I didn’t see a point, especially since I usually watched the anime.

After suffering two years of teasing/harassment from my Anime Club teens, I broke down and promised I would read one. I decided on Fruits Basket (aka Furuba) since I had seen part of the anime, which I adored. And since it was a finished series I wouldn’t have wait months for the next volume to come out.

To make a long story short, I ended up falling in love with Furuba. If you’re library doesn’t own it, I would buy it right now. Seriously. My teen girls adore it and it’s one of my higher circ’ing mangas; even though it’s a couple of years old it’s still rarely on the shelf. I will admit that artistically it is nothing amazing, but storyline wise it has such a good message. Of course, I may have a soft spot for the love conquers all type books.

Remember how I said I didn’t read the manga because I watched the anime? After all, they’re basically the same, right? Wow, could I have ever been more wrong this time around. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little. Overall, the anime does a great job at adapting the manga until the very end. Without giving too much away, let’s just say I have several WTH moments. There were several things that they changed/added that totally changed Tohru’s and Yuki’s personality and relationship with Kyo. They also add in a threatening scene with Akito that never happens in the manga. These were the biggest changes for me and shifted the storyline to a different path; part of me wonders if this is why the anime stopped at season one.

Other than that, the changes are rather small. Some events are combined or left out completely. Two of the zodiac character never make it into the anime. Of course, this is largely do the fact that the 26 episodes only cover events that happen in the first 8 volumes. Yup, that’s right, the anime never makes it past volume 8! If I hadn’t decided to read the manga as well I would have missed out on 18 volumes worth of story. When you consider each manga is roughly 200 pages–well that’s a lot of story to miss.

Which, naturally, leads me to my next dilemma. How much have I missed in other series that I’ve watched? I know Furuba is most likely not the exception to the case, especially since I’ve heard some of my teens complain a bit about it. I guess this means there shall be more manga in my future! Oddly enough, this excites me.

 

If you have any titles of manga you would like me to review, please leave them in the comments! I’ll use them to guide my Manga vs. Anime posts in the future.

 

GN Inspection: Cairo


GN Inspection: CairoCairo by G. Willow Wilson
Release Date: February 13th 2009
Publisher: Paw Prints
Pages: 160

In bustling modern-day Cairo, the lives of a drug runner, a down-on-his-luck journalist, an American expatriate, a young activist, an Israeli soldier, and a genie are interwoven as they navigate the city's streets and spiritual underworld to find a stolen hooka sought by a wrathful gangster-magician.

The Short of It: All in all, I liked this GN. The story was intriguing and fast paced and the illustrations well done. I was even surprised that it held my attention during a second read through! I had only meant to skim it to refresh my memory on what had happened and instead ended up reading the entire thing again.

Story: The story is what really won me over. I love the mythical/fantasy aspect with the Jinn, underworlds, and mysterious boxes. During my second read I was quite impressed with how the story flowed and weaved together. There are truly three story lines going on at once and the way they switched back and forth and then came together was virtually seamless. I do miss the extra words and deeper emotions that a novel allows, but I finished the book feeling like I knew all six of the main characters. I cheered as they took on the bad guys and was sad when tragedy struck; I even smiled a little seeing that most got the happy ending they deserved. There were a couple of confusing moments that I didn’t get until the second read-through, but all in all Wilson delivered an excellent story.

Illustrations: I’ve gone back and looked at the illustrations several times now, trying to form a good opinion about them. At first I was going to state that they were all black and white illustrations with little detail. However, I realize that’s not the case for all the panels. There are some, especially when entering a new setting, where the illustrations are quite detailed. There were several things, like pictures on the wall, that I missed the first time that really made me smile.  And, honestly, when there is a lack of detail, the illustrations/actions pop more off the page than they would have if they were burdened with lots of little details. Overall, I enjoyed Perker’s style and thought he did an excellent job of bringing the characters and story to life.

Librarian Mode: This is going to appeal easily to fantasy or actions lovers. It will go over better with the boys, but I think it’ll still hold enough interest for some of the girls, too. Those who enjoy Holly Black’s Good Neighbor series will most likely enjoy this one as well.