The First Date was a concept once used to on Anime Vice to discuss a brand new series. I originally thought it was sort of a silly name, but I finally understood it when I wrote an introduction on Anime Vice for the TRIAGE X series. It just seemed to fit. Like a first date, you're feeling each other out and getting to know the other person. I originally purchased my subscription to the digital English edition of WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP to follow series such as ONE PIECE. Along with this series came several others. One that has caught me completely by surprised is CROSS MANAGE created by KAITO.
I'd never so much as heard of it before, but it's really won a place in my heart.
" Talented but aimless Sakurai just can't find a place to belong. After trying - and failing at - one extracurricular activity after another, his life changes thanks to a chance encounter with lacrosse fanatic Toyoguchi, who thinks Sakurai has just what it takes to propel her girls' lacrosse team to victory! "
- VIZ Media
Most people seem to think shonen manga is little more than a boy's power trip fantasy, ala DRAGON BALL Z. However. last year SHONEN JUMP , the highest selling shonen magazine, released information that their readership is 50% male and 50% female. That seems to have effected the sort of series they publish. In fact, CROSS MANAGE only began in Japan back in September of 2012, and I came in at chapter fifteen. The cast is primarily all girls since the story is about a girl's lacrosse team. This isn't a romantic-comedy or filled with fan service. This is straight up a sports drama with some honestly funny comedy mixed in.
Basically, Sakurai was a young soccer prodigy who got injured, and even with surgery would never be back to the way he was. He gave up on the sport that he loved and seemed to lack a direction in his life. One day, he spotted Misora practicing lacrosse under a bridge and found himself offering her a tip that helped her improve. Since then, she was intent on getting Sakurai to be the manager/coach of the team she founded for school. Long story short, he kind of gets tricked into the job and discovers he enjoys it.
The girls of the Fujioka Lacrosse Team aren't what you'd call your average athletes. They're an assortment of all kinds, but what they have in common is a love of the sport and playing with their friends. They each bring some unique talent to the team. Misora is incredibly agile and full of energy, Nachi has strength and endurance, Junko is level headed and excels at making snap decisions, and Yurika is great at reading people's movements like a book. They're hardly the best, but Misora has the goal of winning the high school lacrosse tournament and defeat the Choran Girls' Lacrosse Team, who have held the title for the past ten years.
This is an inspired goal, but not hardly seems plausible. Currently, Choran has Namine Chihara on the team. She's the most skilled player in the nation and even earned a spot on Japan's national team. She has never lost a single game she's played in. The girls of Fujioka are really aiming for the top.
CROSS MANAGE has quickly become a favorite to read each week for me. It can be really entertaining to watch the friendship of the characters as they interact on and off the field. One of the best things about the series is that you don't need to know anything about lacrosse. The way the series is structured, the author slowly spoon feeds the audience the positions, rules, and tactics as they're needed. I sometimes wonder if these manga authors who make these sports series are already fans of the game, or do they just do an insane amount of research before beginning.
I really believe female comic readers who are tired of how women are treated in comics would find this refreshing. It's not about their dating life, and ever girl doesn't have the looks of a super model. It's about their bond as a team and supporting one another to try and do something big. Also, the only spiked heels you'll find in this series are on the cleats. A sports series about a girl's lacrosse team is something you'd never see get so much as a chance in a Western comic series.
Unfortunately, the only way you can currently read this series legally outside of Japan is on the subscription to WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP. A $26.00 subscription gets you a year of this weekly series translated into English. You can find more details and even read a free sample of this and many other at www.shonenjump.com. CROSS MANAGE is currently among the series that are being published same day digital with Japan.
If you're curious, you can still learn about the cast. I've been building up the cast in the wiki database on both Comic Vine and Anime Vice. You can't even find this level of information on Wikipedia. I hope you've enjoyed this first date with a brand new manga series that is well worth your attention.
As Caesar Clown goes to retrieve the children ha had been experimenting on. An incredibly truth is revealed about the mysterious Vergo. Luffy and his gang may have been locked in a cage with Smoker and Tashigi, but the lighthearted hero sure doesn't seem to let that get him down.
If it wasn't a big enough shock to find out that mysterious Vergo introduced two chapters ago is a Vice Admiral for the Marines. He's actually a pirate who infiltrated their ranks as a spy 15 years ago. All as part of the will of his captain, Donquixote Doflamingo. Color me intrigued.
I should probably slap myself for not realizing who this "Joker" actually is. The name has been tossed around quite a bit recently. It was a nice feint in story telling. Code names aren't common in ONE PIECE. Joker is in actuality Donquixote Doflamingo, a member of the Shichibukai. Now that I look at how Doflamingo always has that creepy grin and controls his own men and government officials through fear of his powers. I wouldn't be surprised if he was partially based around the Clown Prince of Crime. Oda's based characters on Michael Jackson and ROCK HORROR cast. I wouldn't put it past him.
I was sensing some deja vu with the whole scene of Luffy locked in a cage with Smoker. It's funny that Robin is the one who points it out. Seeing how last time something similar to this happened, Robin was on the outside looking in. It's a nice touch of Oda to add. Anyone who's followed this series would make the same comparison. It also highlights the kind of protagonist Luffy is, as well. All this deep drama going on around him. A big new villain revealed, trapped with enemies, wrapped in chains that takes away his powers, and no apparent path of escape. And Luffy has a big grin, and he's laughing at the irony of his situation. Poor, self-serious Law trapped in the middle. Add that to the list why ONE PIECE is always a fun read.
The early pages do serve a purpose, but feels a bit off place. It just seems to hammer home that to most of the world Vergo is a trustful and loyal man to the Marines. All this to hide his part in a grand conspiracy. It's just the introduction of such a random character as Yarisugi in the middle of it was overkill - pun intended**
It's also a little frustrating that we still aren't even clear on why Luffy suddenly passed out while fighting Caesar a few chapters back. The conventional wisdom is that the gas got to him, but I'm not so sure.
The plot is thickening to an almost head spinning degree. No one can claim that Oda is slowing down or going in circles. Here I was ready for just another fun adventure on a strange island of fire and ice, but it's turning into a deep and meaningful plot with some incredible twists. One that's using some of my favorite characters in amazing ways. I just home we get a bit more action soon.
**See character Yarisugi character page for explanation of that joke.
Earlier today on Twitter, The Anime Network confirmed that Sentai Filmworks will be releasing the first part of the PERSONA 4 THE ANIMATION series to the US market with a full English dub for both DVD and Blu-ray. This will be on Sept. 18 2012. This is a month after the True End episode is released to the Japanese market. Still no cast announcements have been revealed.
This news also confirms another set of details. PERSONA 4 will apparently be sold as a two part collection. The release date information was labeled for "PERSONA 4 COLLECTION 1". That unsurprisingly also means that there will be a Part 2 to be released later.
Product details for the first part of the set was listed on ANN along with other future releases from Sentai Filmworks this year. There will be 12 episodes in this Part 1 Collection, and the pricing is set for DVD $59.98 SRP & BD $69.98 SRP.
SYNOPSIS: When Yu Narukami moves to the country town of Inaba to stay with his uncle and cousin, he's expecting a lot more peace and quiet than he's been used to in the big city. What he isn't expecting is for his uncle's job as a police detective to spill over into his own life. Or for the murders that are occurring across town to be somehow linked to Yu's own strange experiences, odd local weather patterns and a mysterious TV show world that seems to be attempting to get Yu to enter it! Now, together with a new group of friends, Yu must plunge into a bizarre alternate reality where he gains unique abilities that will either help him solve the riddle of the mystery killer, or lead him to his doom. Journey into the Velvet Room and beyond as the hit PlayStation 2® game becomes a spectacular anime in PERSONA 4 Collection 1!
There is currently no pre-order option on Amazon.com, but it can be found now on Rightstuf.com.
The series can be watched in its entirety on either The Anime Network - HERE or HULU - HERE. Nick and I also wrote reviews for all but the last episode. The list of these reviews can be found on the PERSONA 4 THE ANIMATION main page on AnimeVice.com.
Source: The Anime Network & ANN HERE
Back when I first saw the original tutorial trailer for the soon to be release PERSONA 4 ARENA fighting game. I was shocked at the level of depth in the systems they were creating for this game. Well, it was only recently that ATLUS USA released a trailer for the advanced tactics behind the game. In this tutorial trailer, Mitsuru Kirijo, one of the heroines from PERSONA 3, gives step by step instructions behind some of the tactics that could make you a P4A grand master.
I remember that the guys of Giant Bomb pretty much laughed this game off when it was first revealed as little more that gimmick, but this is looking pretty impressive. I already find fighting games intimidating. There are normally just so many systems to learn and combos to hit. If you don't master them or at least become proficient. You're often going to get slaughtered in online play. I was shocked when status ailments were added in the PERSONA 4 anime, but they are also mixing them into this game play.
PERSONA 4 ARENA is due out in the US for the PS3 and XBox 360 in August 7, 2012 (July 26 in Japan), and is currently available for preorder at Amazon.com.
Adding Image covers to galleries may not be as automatic as you think. There's a small glitch on the site. This is actually an issue about dealing with a big of a bug on the site. Normally, I would write these up in a post for the Bug Report section of the forums, but those don't often get taken care of too quickly. Not that I doubt the staff can't or wont. It's more a matter of having bigger fish to fry, as it were.
I've found some work-aronuds that should help you out. I'm going to use the Dakara Boku-ha, H ga Dekinai manga page I added recently as an example.
Firstly is a pretty minor issue. When creating a new manga series, you should see that the cover image wont appear on the main series page.
This is an easy fix. Just go to the first volume and fill out the release date. Go back to the main page and you'll see the cover image.
Some of you may or may not have noticed this next one. Here's bigger problem. I'm seeing users adding a lot of new volumes to the series page, and that's great. The problem is that there is a bug on the site that doesn't sent the images of ever cover you add to the Image Gallery of that series. If you look on the image below, you can see that there are ZERO Images in the gallery when I mouse over it.
Since there are no pictures in that gallery, if you were to do an image search for this series to say use the cover for the wiki page information. It would show no images in that gallery. Up can't easily search for those images anywhere. The only place they are in now is in your own personal gallery when the user who uploaded them.
In the left had tool bar, there is no obvious way to get into that Image Gallery. Here's what you need to do. Just click on the cover image and it sends you to the images. You can see it in the picture below.
Just add the picture from your personal images into the gallery. It's now searchable in the gallery for that series. If you go to the gallery now, you can find the images for both covers in the series. That's why you can always search for series I work on and find all the covers I've uploaded.
If you've been adding volumes all this time, Those pictures aren't in the series gallery.
If you've been adding a lot of covers and you don't like the idea of trying to dig through all your pictures. Just go into your profile's Image Gallery and create an Album called Covers. That way you can add all the covers into in an album that's easy to get to when adding pictures to galleries. This will make searching faster.
Just don't delete the images from that gallery when you're done. That can sometimes remove the image from your personal gallery completely. Just delete the album.
Here's another bug that's easily fixed for users. The first image of the volume added are never sent to the Franchise page, providing there is one. Though oddly enough, any picture added to that volume page will be sent to the franchise.
First, you need to make sure the franchise is linked on the main series page.
Even though the cover image already appears on the page. Hit the "Edit This Page" on the individual volume. Above the cover you you'll see the next "Upload images for this book". This is how you add additional cover images. Just select this again, and add the original cover image once more. That will send it to the franchise page.
This also automatically created a "(Manga)" album for that series in the Image gallery of the Franchise Page.
Maybe some day the staff will be able to fix some of these issues. In the mean time, these should help you work out these issues.