I have been on a fantasy craze as of late, narrowing my sights and choosing to hone in on all those stories regarding ancient lands and great battles and mystical forces and what not. But that wasn’t always the case. At one point in time, i used to read everything i came across. It just so happens that i haven’t been in the reading loop for a while and i find myself intrigued with certain fantasy series that i have tasked myself with catching up on. Some of these books i didn’t even know existed and discovering that there were entire series of them excited me and thus forced me into a world of none stop fantasy.
It isn’t fault really. There was a point in time where it became my problem to purchase these initially expensive novels for my self and rather than continue my literally hobby, i thought it a more worthy goal to invest in a computer, then finding myself spending more money on repairs and upgrades, then video games, then movies, then TV series, then anime and manga and so on. Soon i forgot about that pass time that would keep me entertained for so entire weekends and in returning to the literary fold, i found myself sorely behind. So yes, i intend to stay in my fantasy bubble for a while, unless i am recommended something intriguing that is worthy pulling myself away from fantasy.
But back then i was all about a great story and i would find it in any genre that i came across. But even then i would say that it was something that was forced upon me and thus molded me, not something i chose. In primary school, it was a well enforced rule that each student would pick a book from the library each Monday morning, read it through out the week and do a write up to be handed in by the next Monday morning. Then you returned your book and picked a new one. It didn’t matter if you were done with the book, you had to return it by week’s end and woe to anyone that hadn’t finished reading. We were each handed an exercise book to put our write ups in to be handed to the librarian to mark and rate out of ten (by who knows what rating system); we even had a summary prefect to enforce the borrowing, reading and summarizing of a book, and any that failed to meet this weekly requirement, along with other academic requirements that i would rather forget, would, as someone once put it, have the board of education applied to their seat of understanding.
While i initially hated this chore i eventually learned to make due with it by using my ten minutes to locate a really good title that i could stand to read in a week. Which is why i ended up reading all sorts of books in all sorts of genres that i thought i would never read or really enjoy. Sometimes i was lucky to find something really interesting to read, other times i had to settle for Nancy Drew, Hardy boys and the like, which i eventually tired of.
Past my primary school days, this kind of situation where, absent of any other entertainment medium, i would read whatever title was available to me continued. I wasn’t always able to go to the bookstore on Saturday and sometimes, for what ever reason, my father would find time to buy me a book or two out of the blue. Of course there was an assumption on his part that he knew wha it liked, which he didn’t, and he would end up purchasing a menagerie of books, of all sorts and kinds from one end of the spectrum to another.
One day he could bring me ‘The wind of fire’ a fantasy, then next day he would opt for ‘Holes’ an adventure about kids in a rogue juvenile centre that, rather than dig six feet deep holes haphazardly across a field day in and day out, begin planning their escape; then i would find myself reading a western, something along the lines of a sheriff defending his town against a group of thugs during one cold winter weekend in the mountains, next i am following a journalist fighting for his rights and all that. Basically i either read these titles or died boredom, and after some disgusted noises, i would eventually get down to reading everything that was thrown at me and for the most part i was surprised that i could enjoy this mishmash of stories (except for the one about Elvis returning from the grave to save humanity, i remember that one even to this day; holly hell, that book sucked.).
My point is i loved my books and i could really lose my self in them if the conditions were right. And when i would run out, i would send subliminal signals out that i needed more; it wouldn’t take my father that much time to figure out what i was trying to say when he found me reading Red wall for the eighth time (i just remembered how much i loved that book. Even when the pages came loose and it fell apart again and again, i was more than willing to stitch it back together.)
Anyway, there were certain types of books that would really pique my interest, certain genres that i would really look out for more than any other. Horror was one such genre. I loved reading anything remotely horror more than most other books. Sure i loved fantasy and mystery more back then, but third place was good enough for me to seek out these type of books, like a dog sniffing for a bone. And whenever i would find them, i would drop everything else to immerse myself in this new dark world.
It shouldn’t be a surprise then that i was one of those swept away by the Goosebumps craze. It has been said R.L. Stein is the Stephen King of kid’s horror and i have to agree because, back then, those books (at least some of them) were bone chillingly scary and rest were more than entertaining to make up for the lack of horror. Each book would some how manage to introduce a new set of heroes, villains and a monster vile enough to give the weak hearted a nightmare or two. I can remember spending endless hours trying to figure out those multiple ending type Goosebumps, kind of like how one would play a video game, trying to determine which ending i hadn’t yet read and which option or path presented, based on Goosebumps rules, had higher chance of ensuring my survival. Certainly things changed at later date, what with the novels taking of a lighter fluffier tone, no longer worth the hours of time i used to assign to them; and the fact that i could read them in 4 hours didn’t help their case, especially when i was buying one book every few weeks, it wasn’t the logical choice later on; but i still have my memories.
They were indeed very awesome books, though maybe i was simply too easy to please, with my excessively over active imagination. After all, i am the same person who as a ten year old, during my initial encounter with the harry potter series, way before the craze struck, spent August, September and October of that year waiting to receive an owl inviting to me to join Hogwarts school of witch craft and wizardry. It wasn’t that i believed that magic and the harry potter world existed of course, more like i was so immersed in the world that if it had existed, i wouldn’t be surprised and i was leaning heavily towards its illogical existence.
Anyway, horror, i have as of late began to wonder whether such a thing as horror even exists in novels these days, or maybe it is the lack that exists in the book store that i visit; but seriously, what the hell is going on? I might have only re entered the literary world of fantasy but i have actually been searching for a good horror book for ages now, especially with the lack in TV and movies, and so far i have been sorely disappointed.
When ever i would cross to the horror section of the bookstore in the past few years, the titles that would fleet across my eyes would disturb me because none of them where what i expected them to be. Here is what all the stories, at least 80% of them, seemed to boil down to; a couple of high school teens who stumble upon a supernatural world, or ancient beings that look like high school kids, or adult characters, all built like super models, both male and female, who happen to be supernatural creatures but whose primary focus, and the core of the story, is the great love triangle or lust that exists between certain characters, a desire that they can hardly resist and which will threaten the very existence of their kind or the world.
Basically that is what the synopsis of every book that i keep coming across boils down to, at least a good percentage of them, and reading the titles usually lives me speechless; the idea that someone out their believes that all it takes to make a horror centric story is a good collection of unique supernatural creatures, probably with unique names and attributes and once you have that down, you have pretty much nailed the nucleus of the horror bit of a story and now you can do what you want and everyone will consider it horror. WHY? THERE IS MORE TO HORROR THAT BEAUTIFUL YOUNG PEOPLE HAPPENING TO BE UNDEAD.
But a large number of people out their do not get this idea and it infuriates me.
Let’s back track a bit so i can fume a little at one specific irritation. Why does 50% of the horror shelf have to be about vampires? When exactly did the vampire become the poster child for all things horror. Do not get me wrong, i am not complaining about the entire idea of vampires. I was very much into vampires back then, when vampires were actually vampires, ancient undead creatures reborn to cause havoc and chaos; now, i do not know what we have but they are not vampires, more like super powered mutants with sharp teeth and an allergic reaction to garlic and the sun. I hate what they have done to these once majestic creatures of the dark. I shudder at the thought of what Dracula would look like in a movie today. There was a time when the word vampire was synonymous with great fear and even death. If i was to choose a word to describe what has been done to he idea of the vampire, i would say that they have defanged, denied their true place as monsters and instead forced into the skin of cute puppies with a louder bark than bite.
I do not know what happened to the days of reading a horror novel for the sake of being horrified. Now, everything is about great loves that can’t be denied. Maybe i am imagining it, maybe it is my book store, or maybe someone has forgotten what it means to scare the living brains out of their readers. I still remember this one book, i don’t know if it was called Rose or Red, but i know i was 13 when i first came across it and i don’t know who gave it to me. Basically you had a kid possessed by the devil and a mother trying to keep a lid on things while also managing her crazy son.
It might sound like basic omen, take over the world, kind of the stuff, but it isn’t. In fact the situation was more localized, more domestic really, with no apocalyptic intentions in play. The mother was pregnant, and the devil possessed son was intent on preventing the birth of the child, and he willing to do all sorts of…disturbing things to achieve his objectives, no matter who, kin or kith, intent on helping the poor woman out, he had to burry. And he was pretty effective, especially with his ability to pass his possession on to the mother who then began to wonder who was possessed and who she really had to destroy.
It fascinated me to no end, while also scaring the hell out of me; based on some of the actions the kid took, especially while the mother slept (especially this one thing with a metal rod) , i am also quite sure it was inappropriate for my age. But i loved it and i spent a good year when i was 14 looking for it to no avail. But that was real horror. What i am reading now is…i don’t know what to call it but it is absurd. An example; i came across a novel taking place in a post apocalyptic time period, during which a zombie plague had overrun the world. This one girl finds herself pinned down by a horde of zombies only to be saved by a mysterious stranger who she immediately falls in love with. Now if that doesn’t sound absurd and unrealistic (with the kind of paranoid tendencies people who live in such times tend to develop), consider the fact that this mysterious savior turns out to be a freakin zombie; yes, she is in love with a zombie, oh but it isn’t that simple, the book claims, because he isn’t like other zombies and... i won’t go into it, just know that it is the same old crap. Really, when i read that synopsis, i laughed my head off; i do not know if i disrupted the piece of the usually quite location, because i usually have my ears plugged, but someone must have noticed me. Because really, first it was vampires, and now they intend to defang even the zombies? (not to mention all the ridiculous complications in play) WHY?
This will not end, i tell you. It is like some sort of plague; authors out their are deceiving us, writing…well, deceiving themselves into believing that they are horror writers, but choosing to basically pen romance novels with supernatural elements in them. I do not mind romance material, whatever the case, but i do mind when someone slaps a horror tag onto it just so i can stumble in on one hot afternoon, looking for something to read to pass the hours of darkness as power repairs take place in my area, only to pick up the first novel that catches my eye and conveniently titled ‘blood moon’; after which i carry it out and waste precious coin paying for it all because i didn't notice the words ‘can you resist her fire’ written somewhere in the corner, usually in tiny letters so people like me, even bespectacled, do not see them.
It infuriates me to no end. When will this end? When will i get my old horror stories back? I want my horror back NOW?.
It is funny, my interest in horror novels was inflamed because i couldn’t anything to feed my hunger in movies either. It is like horror has dried up everywhere. No one knows how to make good horror, not in novels, and certainly not in movies. I do not know how many movies i have purchased all in the name of getting some good horror, only to dispose of them immediately after realizing that what i was watching wasn’t horror, it was a murder fest. Really, who tells these directors that all you need to make a good horror movie is lots of blood and flying body parts? Someone out their tell these people that more blood doesn't equal to more horror. I can’t be the only one that gets this.
Just last month, i purchased a Lake Placid DVD. There are four movies in the series if you didn’t know, following the story of a town neighboring a small lake, Placid, and the giant alligators within that will from time to time rise to feast on the towns people, and after four movies, they are still living there (why?). I had already watched the second and third movies ages ago, so i started by watching the fourth and final installment, released late last year. And wow, was i pissed? The movie sucked and everyone but the primary male and female protagonist, died. Now you might wonder why that matters?
Well, i watched Lake Placid 1, the first movie released in 1998 or something and i loved it. But here is the thing, only two people and a bear died in this one. Even the alligator survived being blown up in some neat fashion, and was instead captured. Yet the movie was funny and scary. How does a movie that old manage to do something a movie so recent, in which some characters were chewed up and spat out so they could survive 30 more minutes in agony before they were swallowed again?
Clearly someone out there doesn't know what it means to make a good horror movie. IN fact i believe there is such a thing as a sophisticated horror movie, one that isn’t about ridiculous amounts of blood and gruesome deaths. To think that this movie and cabin in the woods are the best horror movies i have seen in more than 7 years. That is more than seven years of crap.
Okay so maybe those are the best horror movies i have seen in 7 years. There was that one movie i saw just last year and thought was called ‘the last house of the left’, but then i realized that i was wrong. It is a shame that i do not remember the name of movie; i know it revolves around a couple who drag their daughter and her best friend to a cabin on an island, then the girls wonder off, ran foul of a family of murderous lunatics who go on to rape and murder the girls, only for a freak storm to force them to seek shelter at the home of the parent’s of the very girl they just killed. Unfortunately for them though, the daughter survives, barely, and returns home to tell a story. Things do not take the turn you think however with lunatic serial killers tormenting weak prey. No, in this movie, there are no usual horror movie factors at play; there is a means of transport available, both a car and a boat and even the phone works so they could have called for the authorities. But they do not, not when the very monsters that nearly killed their daughter are in the guest house next door, not when the couple’s vengeance is burning so hot. Man, i loved how this movie changed things up and turned the hunters, the serial killers, into the prey, and the punishment was almost too cruel.
Now that was a movie, not excessively violent, but just right. What happened to those movies; what happened to the likes of jeepers creepers, an actually scary Freddy Kruger in nightmare on elm street, night of the living dead, and so on. These were true horror movies, the kind that, when watching at night, had every cell in your body screaming at you to turn the damn lights on, yet (logic) was warning you against putting your feet on the floor, lest whatever was lying in wait beneath the bed or table made its move. Those were crazy but fun times, watching the clown in IT terrorize those kids and then wondering yourself if taking that shower, hygiene in this case, was worth the risk at that time of evening. Even the first mummy movie is a better horror movie than everything i have seen in recent years, where the characters have to be intentionally stupid for the monsters to murder them senselessly.
I do not think i have seen a horror movie as good as ‘The mist’ for a decade now; maybe the exorcism of Emily Rose comes close, but that came out a while back. Now we have movies like the final destination where you know that EVERYONE will die in the end. I mean, what the hell is the point? Point out Saw and i still see not difference with final destination except for the first one that was pretty good.
Books are just the same. I can’t find any non fickle material. I met someone last year that was kind enough to donate what he termed as a phenomenal horror novel to me; he termed it as a horror mystery; some PI is hired to locate a missing girl who, it turns out, was involved in the occult, with the intent of raising the dead; so basically a detective zombie story. I wasn’t convinced, but with zombies and gods in the mix, i thought that it was something i would eventually enjoy. Three chapters in i returned the book which, i realized, was more erotica than anything.
I showed this post to a friend of mine to read through and give me his opinion before i posted it. He was sure i was wailing against twilight. I assured him that i wasn’t. All i know of twilight is the story that i gleaned from the movies and while i agree that it is bad, i have never read the books and cannot say that they are bad, so this isn’t about twilight as he assumed. I have come across these titles that i have described; they do exist and they sound just as silly.
Someone out there might say that if i am searching for a good horror novel, i should have already discovered Stephen King by now. Well, i am pretty apprehensive about Stephen King novels. When i was around 14, i came across a Stephen King book which i think was titled Goo. Now i do not remember what it was about, besides the fact that i keep picturing an obese man sitting on a couch watching TV and i do not remember what he had to do with anything. What i do remember is the fact that i hated that book. Sure i read a good part of it, but that was because i hadn’t had a new book to read for months and i eventually forced myself to tackle it. But other than that, i wouldn’t have touched it. But like i said, i hated that book to death and i am still unsure about Stephen King Horror novels to this day.
So i am still searching for a good horror novel and i will take any good recommendations. I miss the days of finding a comfortable spot in my bed, opening my book under torch light (not for any dramatic effect but because i didn't want to have to get up to switch the light off once it was time to sleep, too lazy) and getting so immersed in the book that i couldn't help but wonder if that light scratching sound reaching my ears was snoring from the next room, or the tooth fairy, whispering my name as she attempts to cut through the security bars, intent on claiming my soul as vengeance for something or the other.
Sure they freaked me out but i also loved it. Now, the last time i remember looking behind me, wondering whether or not i was alone, was the last time i was playing Silent hill, which was last year (and i actually had to stop, because that game is chilling to the core. I need to find time to return to it.) If anyone out there has read any actually good horror titles, i would like the names, because i am loosing faith here. maybe we have reached the end. Maybe this is a horror itself, the end of horror itself.
Something irritating has been happening with fairy tail for the past few weeks. Maybe irritating is too strong a word, maybe not. But somehow somewhere i feel like Hiro is starting to mess a few things up in this story, or maybe my hopes were too high. I normally like writing fairy tail reviews, good or bad. But for a while now i haven’t felt like there was anything worth writing about.
Previously, Natsu had abandoned naked Lucy to execute some mysterious plan to change the tide of battle against Rogue. We learn what that plan was. A little distance off, we see Laxus making no headway against the fire dragon atlas flame as his lightening attacks seem to have little to no effect and even with backup from the rest of fairy tail, he is clearly losing the match. In drops Natsu, from the sky, proclaiming his plan to eat Atlas flame’s flames to rejuvenate his powers. And he goes on to do just that but not before advising laxus to go find Wendy and lend her some assistance against Zirnocis.
Atlas flame tries and fails to shake Natsu off and soon begins to sense a familiar feeling from Natsu’s attempts to eat his flames. He had experienced the situation before, when he went up against his friend Igneel, the fire dragon king. Recognizing Natsu as Igneel’s son either negates Rogue’s manipulation magic or allows Atlas to break free because he immediately changes sides, allowing Natsu to ride him into battle against Rogue, who is clearly flustered at the sudden change in events.
This is the problem i have with what Hiro has been doing for the past few weeks. Minus a few revelations such as Achnologia’s role in the arc, i haven’t really been impressed by what i have seen so far of this dragon human war. I had pretty high expectations for what was to come and i would have been fine with Hiro meeting even a portion of those expectations. So far he hasn’t even been close. And i don’t understand why. We have dragons, we have humans and they are obviously going to fight. How hard can that be to make a few epic chapters? I mean, this war is no where near as intense as i hoped it would be, and i had been looking forward to seeing some dragons ever since i began reading the manga. This isn’t the sort of treatment i was hoping they would get, and i think i know why these events simply haven’t impressed me.
Hiro is making the war a little to light. The tone simply isn’t serious enough, and it almost feels like there is a sense of fun and excitement in the air, rather than an anticipation of fear and destruction.
Some one suggested that Hiro is putting way too many jokes into a situation that should be rather dark and serious and i am inclined to agree. I get that this is fairy tail and that there should be a sense of fun, but there is a limit. I want to feel like there is an actual threat hanging over everyone’s head.This might not be Achnologia but no one seems to be taking the situation seriously. And i don’t get why Natsu is fighting Rogue when he isn’t capable of winning. He can’t be the only mage in the vicinity. Why aren’t more powerful mages trying to take him down; instead they waste their strengths on fighting the dragons, which they can’t beat.
Hiro is writing events in a way that they just don’t seem logical. And there is simply no coordination and team work among the different teams. I will not lie, this chapter wasn’t bad but i was getting bored.
Admittedly i loved that shot of Igneel and Atlas flame and it mostly made this chapter worth the read for me. For that page i can give Hiro some respect. He is clearly talented. But the story needs to move, and the strategies at play need to make some more sense. I am not dismissing this arc just yet as the dragons only arrives a few chapters ago; i am still more than patient with regards to waiting for things to improve because the chapters themselves have not been bad, just boring.
…….i can’t think of anything to say about this.
Highlight:> Natsu calling Atlas flame uncle…i sniggered at that
I sat down to write about this week’s fairy tail chapter. This came out instead, probably because there is nothing worth talking about in this week’s fairy tail chapter; not that it was bad, or even good; there was simply nothing in it that happened that is worth writing about, besides the fan service. I expect things to pick up in the next chapter.
Anyway, Hungry Joker is finally over. Pitiful, i say. All that potential, wasted, which leaves me wondering if i should bother with any new manga releases from shonen jump; after all, hungry joker isn’t the only new manga that was highly acclaimed by fans on the internet but which simply didn’t make the cut. Several others have fallen, some before hungry joker, some shortly after, and some expected to follow soon.
Maybe i shouldn’t rush into manga anymore. I have this rule where by i don’t watch a new TV series until it is at least ten episodes into its season, unless it has only 13 episodes in which case i wait until its first season ends before i begin watching it. Because it is around that time (sometimes i will wait till the fifteenth episode) that it is announced whether or not the series will have a second season. If i hear news of cancellation, i don’t bother. Why get so caught up in a show when it is only going to get cancelled. Which is why i didn’t bother with last resort after watching only two episodes, because Alcatraz, while not having the best finale, had none the less intrigued me enough to want to watch more and they cancelled it. So why bother.
I am going to apply this to new manga. If i had waited a few months to hear of Hungry joker’s impending doom, i would have avoided this frustration. None the less since it is over, i thought i would review it as a whole series.
THE PLOT: in case you don’t know…
Haji is a a young genius, spending his days in the lab, assisted by the intern chitose as he delves into the world of the supernatural, in an attempt to discover the truth behind his hidden past, of which he only remembers standing in a field surrounded by shining corpses as a masked figure in black robes smiles. Events pick up when Haiji is called to a similar scene to the one in his memories, with a the body of murdered man found in a random alley way, shining.
With the discovery that there is more truth to his addled mind’s memories than he assumed and further exploration into the black apple, Haiji is thrown into a new world of gods and god like humans. Eureka, of which his apple is one, are powerful tools that, once used/consumed, reveal the truth of God by granting the user great knowledge. For those geniuses of old such as Einstein and Pascal, the Eureka only revealed to them great knowledge. For special humans like Haiji with special bodies, the Eureka grant them great power with which they can combat the Mavro, black gods that seek only to toy with humanity for their pleasure before destroying them over and over again. But the use of Eureka isn’t without consequences as the gallons of blood Haiji is seen to regurgitate each time he consumes more of the apple to gain more of its power prove. None the less he vows to push ahead no matter the consequences in search for the answers he seeks. Who is he and why does he exist?
I am angry that this manga was treated as such. I love all sorts of manga but their is something about battle manga, that is mostly about heroes that fight again and again while getting stronger each time, that endears itself to me. it is the kind of entertainment that can pick me up no matter what my mood is because, even with complex stories, the purpose of each chapter is to entertain you as much as possible with mind blowing action, awesome power ups and insidious villains. I love shonen and specifically battle manga. But i have to wonder if it isn’t a dying breed of manga. When all the popular stuff ends what will come after.
I once spoke of what would replace the big three, but i never considered it seriously until now that there might be nothing to replace them. Maybe Japanese tastes are changing. Actually i will fault the Japanese for their shallow taste. I have come across some of the manga that was chosen over Hungry joker and while it wasn’t bad, a lot of it simply wasn’t on hungry joker’s level in terms of complexity.
What it did offer was very quick and immediate gratification, with instant revelations, power ups and fights. I have said it before that naruto and One peice would never have survived past ten chapters if they were released today. Like hungry joker these two series required a considerable amount of time to set up their worlds and rules before getting down to the point. New manga, most of what i have seen, doesn’t do that anymore because no one has the patience of that. Hungry joke felt rushed because it needed time to set up its world and to create new characters. That wasn’t acceptable i guess. Now i am getting a little irritated, probably because i have done this before, started a manga that i thought sounded interesting based on the synopsis and dropped it three chapters later because it was not gratifying me instantly.
So i guess the landscape of manga is changing . As otaku we are no longer patient, or willing to wait for a series to pick up to speed from a slow start. We want to be satiated instantly and that is leading us to miss out on some really good manga just because they like to take their time. Or maybe recent manga is very shallow, unwilling to create complexity because it doesn’t think we as otaku would stand by it. I get that it is shonen but it has been a while since mindlessly violent manga in which characters fought for the sake of fighting was popular.
Hungry joker is one casualty of this. I would rate the story with a perfect 5/5 not because of what it became but because of what it could have become. There was so much potential in the plot, so many places that Tabata could have gone, yet he was forced to make compromises and produce a shallow rushed story because of the fear of being cancelled. The world was interesting, with the Mavro who masqueraded as gods but whose story would have been an interesting one to explore. The characters were fun. Haiji was so clueless and stoic that everything that came out of his mouth was almost always funny depending who he was interacting with. He attracted people to himself the way Luffy does in one piece, collecting this conflicting and contrasting group of Eureka users each with their own failings beside which they were still willing to fight day in and day out to save humanity.
Each had a story that could have gone so far, possibly making them iconic characters in manga. But we will never see any of it, learn of Vivie’s life as the feared and loathed daughter of a rich family because of her eureka power, understand what Nils’ life was like in his former town and exactly who her grandmother was in the grand scheme of mavro Vs. humanity; then there is Haiji’s brother and the reason he did what he did to his sibling. We knew we would see Haiji change and become something other than what he was, and we see that at the end but again it doesn't make sense because we haven’t seen any of these so called bonds he speaks about.
I won’t even bother with the last chapter because it was so rushed. It irks me that we stopped after a one page time skip just as the invasion was about to begin; we didn’t even get to see the Mavro world. But tabata did his best to show us as much of his Hungry joker story as he could before time ran out. I can’t really complain. The first 15 chapters were all perfect, constantly building upon what they had created before and just entertaining the hell out of me.
Of course the action is one of the manga’s highlights, not only because of the unique nature of the powers but because of Tabata’s art. I found it nebulous and somewhat off the first time i read hungry joker. But five chapters in something changed. I began to see the uniqueness of each page, the idea of what Tabata was trying to do. Most mangaka might think that making a good manga comes down to the most detailed and impeccable art. i think it is all about bringing a new experience to the reader. Tabata did that. Every chapter detailed every battle as briefly as possible while keeping things fresh and eye catching. I will miss it.
Ultimately though, i might conclude that Tatabata might have been his own worst enemy. Sure he was being pressured with the idea of cancellation; but he was cancelled at chapter 24 not 2. Maybe if he had stuck to his guns and continued to write and draw the story exactly as he had planned it, with the exact kind of pacing he wished it to have, it would have thrived. Maybe it is because he rushed that he sealed his own fate. It might have been better to show us what he had in mind and hopefully some otaku out their might have been convinced that the series wasn’t the confused mess they believed it to be. Then again i might be saying that because i was just recently watching Bakuman and a similar situation happened in which mashiro and takagi had to choose between changing things up to hook readers and increase their rankings or sticking to their original pacing and seeing what happens.
I think Tabata made a mistake in letting the pressure get to him. But i might be wrong.
I am not sure who to blame, the readers or shonen jump? I will choose to blame the readers because shonen jump is a business that exists to make money. They had to make decisions based on what will increase profits, not to take leaps of faith. I will also blame Tabata for giving into pressure and messing up his own story. I can’t say i am optimistic about the future of manga. I am all for intricately plotted series with mature themes, but i love my battle manga. I want to be stunned by a cool move or have my jaw dropped by an unexpected defeat or victory. I love the excitement of a good battle manga as much as i love being blown away by a great story. Sometimes i can get both. Either way, this is the end and i am disappointed.
Story: 3/5, my rating after I managed to clear my mind of bias for a few seconds
I am ambivalent over this manhwa. I caught up with all 43 available chapters within two days of last week, so there is no denying the entertainment value. Clearly it had the entertainment quality to keep me hooked to my computer. Yet that doesn’t change at all the fact that it is colored with quite a few faults that i can’t help but notice. The best manga and manhwa are the ones that will present me with clear failures during their endless chapters but which i will either ignore or fail to notice, because everything else is that good as compared to the faults. As such i will say right now that i do not hold the same attitude as numerous otaku out their that this is the best manhwa out their. But before that;
The manhwa takes place in a time when the power of the gods acts prominently in the lives of humanity. Acting under the leadership of the mighty power of Tian (not sure if its the humongous dragon or the man himself or a place even) the numerous divisions of deities, distinguished by their various attributes serve under their separate masters in enslaving humanity and seeing their will done. The mighty Shang dynasty is one such empire, that has for years done the bidding of the high ones, trusting multitudes of its people to slavery in the mines, unearthing a mysterious mineral that the gods so desire.
But the Shang dynasty now serves under a new ruler, one that will not stand for the impudence and superiority of the gods in subjugating its people, and it is this leader, in declaring war against these heavenly forces, that sets off a spark of rebellion; humanity will no longer be enslaved to the gods, they will no longer be murdered and manipulated and forced to continue in misery so long as they will to exist outside the god’s influence; humanity will now fight back.
Wu geng, prince of a once mighty empire fights to lead this charge, as a promised one, a future savior, born of god and human, and prophesied to bring about the end of the gods. But is this truly a path that humanity seeks? To see the gods fall? For before the gods, before their glorious power, existed a darkness that once eclipsed all light in the land, a darkness that, with great sacrifices from the elder gods of whom only one, Tian, still lives, were vanquished; and a darkness that has fostered its hate in the underworld and which plots its return. it is this enemy that lurks in the shadows, behind wu geng and the fallen gods attempts to bring about justice and fairness. Before long, he will have to question his resolve and determine if vengeance for all that has befallen him under the gods is worth it, for the price to be paid.
The positives: there isn’t an otaku alive that has come across this manga, who hasn’t been awed by its existence. It is a truly beautiful creation. Of course i am talking about the art. This manga stands at the head of my list of greatest drawn manga and manhwa and it indeed deserves that position. I don’t know how much work goes into making this manhwa or how much time, clearly more than a week, but it deserves a large portion of the praise it attracts. The art is superb; unlike so many manga series
that i come across, every character, young and old, male and female, is distinct in their look and nature, where as with most series it is necessary to bring up a name, style of fighting or object such as a weapon they always carry to link them to, in order to jog the memory of the reader. And the human beings always look like human beings; i say this because every manga and manhwa that i have read will have those awkward shots and panels where, maybe it was an exceptionally difficult angel to draw or the situation and surroundings complicated things, but the characters look a bit off, maybe too big or a little twisted. It’s rarely that big of a deal, yet i noticed in this manhwa that all that was absent. It’s like someone takes the time to look at every image within a panel, be it a cup in the distance or a fly hanging in an awkward way, and ensures that everything is perfect.
Maybe its a korean thing. The backgrounds are as they should be, backgrounds that actually create an understanding of one’s environment and clearly convey the idea of movement and change, that the characters in question have changed locations and the each location has enough distinct features to enable one to at the very least attempt to recognize a location if they had ever seen it before. This is why i always said claymore had the best art i had ever seen. No matter how much detail was provided in any manhwa and manga i read, the backgrounds were all too static and generic; feng shen ji avoids this and brings the world around a character to life, be it in a calm situation or within chaos; no matter the occurrence, it is reflected in the world around.
The color is beautiful. I have come across colored manga and manhwa, though maybe manhwa only, the most recent being noblese and god of high school. But here is the thing, both of those have always seemed to me to be of average to low quality. This is manga. it is always black and white so a little color goes a long way to making these two series look astounding. But none the less, neither of them is particularly impressive color wise. Feng shen ji is an exquisite production; the colors are rich and fluid and detailed so as to enhance the purpose of each panel. I haven’t read a series quite as good looking as this one. This kind of material is visually on par with a comic book and those guys put quite some effort, money and man power into making their books.
I can’t heap enough praise to elucidate on just how magnificently drawn this book is. especially the great battles. Sure i love seeing the lush open fields and luxuriant lands, but the battles take it to another level. The powers are displayed in mouth watering detail, you just want to reach out and touch them. The explosions, earth shattering summons, mighty weapons, weather manipulating powers, eccentric moves, they are all a marvelous wonder. This manhwa is simply that good to look at. You just want to drink it in.
The characters: are an eccentric bunch, Wu geng is fun to watch from his ignorant beginnings and the life changing journey he undergoes to become the man he is now. You might hate him at the
start but he becomes a character worthy of your respect and support. You want to see him rise higher, challenge his difficulties and become a better man, meeting the expectations of those that follow him. The gods are…intriguing. There is an attempt to play most of them off as simply arrogant and egotistical but many are downright evil and worthy of contempt. Some play the good guy, claim to feel remorse for their actions and even criticize their own kind’s evils, before doing exactly the same soon after. Basically all talk and no action, and thus evil.
It is clear they want to be understood but betray their own selves. The clearly evil gods are fun to behold; they revel in their vileness against humanity and rather than challenge you to like them, will endear themselves to you more easily that the ‘attempting to be good but not really trying' kind. You might route for them during impending danger, to see them put up a greater fight so that their defeat can be that much more sound and satisfying. There is no doubt however that they are all doomed; i expect they will all die cruel deaths, but not before showing us their divine powers. These can sometimes be the most gratifying events to watch, seeing a god unleash his unique ability and unleashing untold devastation. It is worth any chapter just to see this. I think my favorite divine power so far as monochrome, as was performed originally in the first chapters. Then there is wu geng’s uncle’s sword smelting aura technique; marvelous to watch.
The good guys are, well, good. I kind of expected them to exist in more of a grey area considering the kind of cruel world they live in. None the less it is nice to watch them sort of fight to keep their dreams alive by rejecting their former glory and struggling down here with mere mortals. They are just as vicious as impressive as the villains and equally determined to free humanity as the gods are to subjugate them. Wu geng leads the pack; as the protagonist his story and progression will keep you hooked to the pages, especially in the beginning where you are more interested in seeing him become a better human being rather than simply being powerful.
of course within each simple story is a conspiracy. These are the gods after all and, light or dark, they will use every pawn in their arsenal, be it human or fellow god; most operate under a specific philosophy while a few harbor greed and human like lusts that they will kill and betray god and man alike to see fulfilled.
The concept, while not particularly new or unique, is a fascinating one, and possesses a lot of potential. Achieving greatness will lie in Jien He’s ability to tap into this potential and lay it bare. Gods and humans fighting isn’t new. We have seen the whole ‘human rises to fight the gods’ story before, the terrible wrath of the titans being the most recent example. This story focuses on the intricate details involved in the conflict between these two parties, why they are fighting, why neither is willing to yield and why the eventual war will change the face of the land. The story isn’t that clear cut.
When i really like a manga/anime and i am hooked by the story, it pains me to point out its criticisms. For instance i am not keen to point out how appalling i found the fourth great shinobi war to be in Naruto so far. It is a disgrace that the fillers were the best parts i have seen so far in this war besides the asuma business. I am yet to watch any Naruto beyond the Naruto Tsunade raikage contention but i have been assured that the war gets better. I only hope that isn’t a lie. But that aside, that failing is something i will struggle to see and even when i finally accept its existence, i will find a way to enervate the level at lousiness presented.
With Feng shen ji i have no problem with blurting out what exactly the faults are because they are simply so egregious that i can’t ignore them. First;
1. The story- It took me a while to determine the word or statement that i wanted to use in referring to the story in this manhwa. At first i considered the fact that their is really no story, or rather no
worth while plot to sink your teeth in. But i decided that that wasn’t the case. There is indeed a story, with gods fighting humans and humans trying to oppose the mighty force.There is a hook as well, to see how far into the realm of the gods Wu geng can reach. I thought i could call it mindless because to a point it is, and that is the first criticism. I finally figured out what my qualms with the story was. It is too shallow.
Remember what i said up their in the positive section. I didn’t say that the series had a good story. I said the story had the potential to be great. It isn’t a unique concept but it is well executed; yet the author fails to fully explore the concepts he introduces in the chapters. He will frequently introduce very vague ideas and plots which, instead of elucidating upon in the future, simply brushes them aside and glazes over, assuming that since this fellow knows that fellow and that fellow hates that other guy for that reason and he has told you that in a few statements, his part is done; now they can all fight again and again and again now that we know. That is why i say that this manhwa is actually mindless. There is a lack of focus on the story. Relationships are simply swept aside with brief introductions. Reasons, objectives and intentions are given scanty attention.
Sure i wanted to see Wu geng finally make it back to see Bai cai, but even if he didn’t make it back, i couldn’t have cared less; and that’s because their relationship doesn’t matte than much 43 chapters in. So what if Wu geng is willing to do anything, go to impossible lengths to rescue his grandfather? I don’t care much because i personally haven’t seen the relationship between them blossom in such a way that i could understand his dedication. Think about God of high school and Jin mori’s relationship with his grandfather.
How many times do you hear Jin mori speak about his grandfather? Not that many times. And even when he talks about rescuing him, their is no weeping or passionate discourse about how he will not stop till he rescues his only family. But even in the few words he uses, you can understand the passion he displays and the lengths he will go to to see the mission completed. And the old man, in one hundred something chapters, gets less screen time or about as much as the old priest does in 43 chapters. And anyone who has read G.O.H knows that it’s story could never be described as deep. Yet there is enough material to realize that the story drives the action and the action wouldn't matter much without the story.
Every opponent Jin mori faces enters the ring against an opponent they cannot beat to achieve a dream and in a few pages of a flashback you understand their souls and what drives them. Feng shen ji fails to do this. The action takes precedence over the story. In fact the story doesn’t matter whatsoever. So long as you know what the good guys want and the bad guys stand for, with this series you are set. And that isn’t enough. I am not asking for endless ridiculously complicated drama. I am asking for a story that matters. If you woke up tomorrow and wu geng had been transformed into wizard that sold insurance while protecting farmer's’ crops from pests, it wouldn’t make one bit of difference so long as the level of art and action scenes stayed the same. IN a series like breaker:new waves, it would make all the difference in the world because the story drives the battles; there are certain factors that make Shion’s victories and losses impact hard, and if those factors where absent, then the fights wouldn’t matter as much.
Things weren’t so bad in the beginning. I was hooked with the first chapter and the rebellion that followed within. And the mine arc was pretty well paced and intriguing in following Wu geng’s growth
. Everything after that was just a mess. First of all the arc that followed was paced badly. Too many unnecessary scenes were shown while a number that should have appeared didn’t. By the time Wu geng was calling his new residence home, i was struggling to believe him, because according to him, we had witnessed a considerable amount of months pass during which he had bonded with his new comrades. To me it seemed like two days. Most well executed series don’t have to tell us that two weeks or two months have gone by. Sure it has to be confirmed but in a period of a few chapters we are usually able to tell using events happening that time is passing. Feng shen ji couldn't do that and as such Wu geng’s so called growth was simply not believable to me. IN fact at one point it seemed a little too out of the blue and sudden, yet if you considered the time that had passed it was fairly logical. I don’t like being told that something happened, especially if it affects every facet of a story. I like to be shown. This series fails miserably at that.
I won’t spoil it in my effort to prove how shallow the story is. But even the betrayals that happen are simply ridiculous and unbelievable. Jien simply paces the story horribly. Someone was recently craving for some more Feng shen ji and didn’t care if they were raws with no english translations because according to them, they didn’t matter. I thought they were crazy. One, who read a manga without proper translations and whose story didn’t matter? What was the point? Secondly after reading ten chapters i was certain that there were events that needed to be explained for the chapters to make some sense. 43 chapters later i am shocked to discover that they were right. The words don’t matter. You can read most of the series easily with minimal explanation over what is happening. This is what i did. For most of the last ten chapters i was flipping through pages without paying attention to the words in the page (which i noticed were banal and uninteresting and either badly written or badly translated; either way the dialogue and basic narration is boring as hell) and i still had a basic idea of what was happening.
I don’t know if the author is responsible for both the art and the story but either he needs to get himself a writer and give up on involving himself with the story telling or he should rethink his relationship with this writer. if i compare this series with G.O.H, then i would say that the GOH author is a brilliant artist and storyteller; the feng shen ji author on the other hand is simply a genius artist. The story is the one failing that unfortunately heavily weighs down on the series. He needs to do something about it.
I ranted on far too long about this point. Let me break it down like this. I don’t choose my manga based on how they look. I like a good looking manga/manhwa but so long as the art is bearable and i can follow each the story from panel to panel i am good so long as the story hooks me. If feng shen ji keeps sacrificing a good story for the visuals, i will keep reading it for however many hundred chapters it goes on, but i will seize to respect it.
2. The action: It might be strange and even controversial that i would fault the fault the action of feng shen ji and i wouldn't say that i fault it exactly; with the manhwa so beautifully colored, you could say that there are some failings that are more easily noticeable than they would be if the manhwa was colorless. When it comes to the story it will be hard to find someone that denies its shaloow nature. But with the action, it’s probably more subjective, in that i doubt anyone will share the view.
Either way, in comparing the manhwa with other series i have come across, i find that when it comes to the action scenes, i am not blown away as most people claim to be. The art makes every action seem that much more mind blowing, but here is the thing. I have inferred above that i think Feng shen ji is inferior to the breaker and G.O.H; what i will state unequivocally is that i think Feng shen Ji is far far inferior to those two titles. The reason is partly due to the superior stories of the two series. The other reason is the actions scenes. Both manage to present a totally unique experience with regards to visuals relating to battle.
The battles in Feng shen ji aren’t badly drawn or anything. if i am to try and express my criticism, i would say that they are ordinary and unoriginal. when i come across a battle related series that is said to be spectacular, i look at what new experience it brings to the table. With G.O.H i am yet to read a series that creates images so swift and fluid as those presented in this series. There is a celerity and pliability to even the most ordinary move executed in each page. And with G.O.H we are talking about a series more grounded in reality than Feng shen ji The series will for the most part make use your average martial arts styles found in Asia but with a twist. But the way the author displays the fights, the angles he chooses to attack a panel from and the positions that he displays a character executing a simple kick from are unique in style and execution. it isn’t something you see everyday and each fight seems as fast paced and dynamic as it would be in an anime.
With breaker, you can expect highly destructive battles that affect everything within the panel; the artist displays each shot in such a way that it displays the impact of each action as if you were there and experiencing it first hand. Besides that, both G.O.H and breaker bring a fresh breath of air to two or more opponents duking it out, with a unique means with which each strike and special move looks and is executed. Just like with bleach, both authors want you to get a different experience when witnessing a character unleash a destructive punch from what you would experience from reading other manga. And they all pull it off perfectly. The way Sado unleashes an ordinary attack isn’t the same way Shion would do it; same for the speed effects and all that.
Feng shen ji is ordinary in the way it executes battles. It is a unique manhwa so of course you can expect specifically crafted powers and techniques. But the way they are displayed seems so ordinary and average. I don’t think i can really explain it. it’s probably something that i just happen to see. I mean, all the summoned weapons, monsters and attacks are cool, especially when unleashed, but average blow by blow battle is disappointingly ordinary. Maybe i have been biased by previous series that i have come across. The last series i read before feng shen ji was witch hunter, and watching Tasha dispatch a couple of ordinary goons was as fun to read as it was to watch Xing take on the main villain Lee.
In manga there shouldn’t be such a thing as filler fights, to pass the time, just because someone has to fight the goons. It is the author’s job to keep things as interesting as possible no matter what is happening. While the fights were not boring, they simply didn’t reach the apex of what they could have been, or maybe i shouldn’t be comparing some of these series.
Story- 1.5/5; should have been better
art - 10/5 mind blowing times a thousand
characters – 3/5; managed to shine despite the story but could have been better with a good story; otherwise some of them where way too vapid and generic for my taste
action -5/5 or 2/5; i actually can’t decide; on the one hand, they are mind blowing; on the other hand, he could do more with them.
Overall rating – 3/5
Verdict: This is a manhwa that every otaku must read. I recommend it for its purely entertainment value. Once you start, you might not stop. I will however say that, unlike many that have said it, Feng shen ji is nowhere near the best manhwa. It is a good manhwa.