Blood on the Tracks: Volume 1 – Manga Review

Before reading Blood on the Tracks, I’d not read much by Shūzō Oshimi, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I had a feeling it was going to be weird and a little messed up, but the story was completely shocking. The manga follows Seiichi, a shy teenager who has an incredibly overprotective mum, Seiko. Right from the opening scenes, with Seiko waking up Seiichi, you know that things aren’t quite right. There’s something very sinister about her, but I wasn’t expecting where the manga was going. It’s dark and subtle, at least in the first volume.

The art throughout this volume is incredible, the facial reactions from the mother say so much and make her into such a sinister character. When the big moment happens towards the end of the book every panel is so well done. The look on her face, the look of Seiichi when he’s not quite sure what he’s seen. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s a brilliant moment and seriously well done. The only bit that I didn’t like was the character designs for Seiichi and his school friends were too similar, so I couldn’t tell who was who in some panels. But they weren’t a major part of the story so it doesn’t matter.

I read the first volume in about twenty minutes to half an hour. It’s very light on dialogue, although the story is still very gripping. I’ll definitely be checking out more of the series as well as other manga by Shūzō Oshimi.

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Ten Years Later

I realised earlier today that I must be reaching ten years of writing on this blog, and it turns out that I’ve just missed that anniversary. My first post was on the 27th November 2012. I can’t believe how quicky a decade has passed, but while I’m a little late I just wanted to mark the occasion with a big thank you to everyone who’s read anything I’ve posted on here.

Ten years ago I was coming up to half way through my second year of university, and I was editing my book, To The Other, which was then released in June 2013 and is currently free on kindle if you want to check it out. (UKUSA)

The memories of writing those early posts are very strong in my mind. In the years since, I’ve published 1037 posts on here, with over half of those in the last 18 months when I started writing film reviews. Today also marks 547 days in a row with a post.

I’ve enjoyed writing on here, and feel that it’s always been a good outlet, whether that’s just writing about stuff I’ve been doing or sharing what I love about a certain film or book. It’s also been great to share the stories I’ve written and receive wonderful responses. The posts I’m most proud of are my short stories, and every time I put on up, I get nervous that there will be a ton of errors or people will hate it, but that hasn’t happened yet.

The first short story I put up on her I actually wrote when I was still in school, The Valley of the Shadow of Death, and put it on here the day I started the blog. You can take a look here:

https://ashleymanning.com/short-stories/the-valley-of-the-shadow-of-death/

Much more recently, I put up Best Friends Forever, which I put up on 11th August this year, just after my birthday. You can read that one here:

https://ashleymanning.com/2022/08/11/best-friends-forever-short-story/

I’ll let you decide if I’ve gotten better or worse with writing. Hopefully better.

Moving forward I have plenty of new stories in the works, both short stories and longer pieces. I’m even working on a sequel to Best Friends Forever, as some feedback I received inspired the follow-up. I have a sci-fi story that I’m about half way through writing, and another that’s about a quarter of the way there. There will also be more film, book, and manga reviews, as always.

Again, I just want to say thank you to everyone who’s read anything I’ve written. I truly appreciate it and every like, comment, and follow I receive means the absolute world to me. Thank you and here’s to the next ten years!

Thanks,

Ashley

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My Current Favourite Manga Series

My favourite manga series currently is without a doubt Asadora! and I can’t wait for volume 6 which comes out just before Christmas. Naoki Urasawa is my favourite mangaka, and I’ve pretty much loved everything he’s created. Monster has been my favourite manga series for over 10 years now, but Adadora! may take its place. It’s a great period story that’s set in post war Japan, following Asa who loses her family during a devastating tsunami. As she grows up she becomes a pilot who helps the government in stopping a potential kaiju (giant monster) from attacking mainland Japan. It’s a great blend of fantasy and action combined into a really solid period drama. If your looking for something a little different then it’s definitely worth checking out. Even if you’ve not read manga before, I think this series would be a great introduction to the medium.

Another manga that I’ll definitely be getting as soon as I see it in stores is the next Zom 100. The series follows Akira works a dead end job that’s draining every second out of his day. While everyone else is terrified of the zombie apocalypse, Akira sees it as a chance to live life to the full writing out a bucket list of things to do before he gets turned into a zombie. At face value this is absolutely silly fun and very funny, and it would be completely brilliant if that’s all it was, but there’s also some great characters as well as some interesting commentary about the modern work life. I also really like how the story arcs are very short, often only being a handful of chapters at most.

Chainsawman is pure chaotic brilliance and I’m so glad the manga is back and better than ever. I started reading this because of its name back when it was still quite new. I saw it on the Shonen Jump app and caught up straight away. The name didn’t disappoint. It’s about a guy, Denji, who makes a contract with the chainsaw devil to continue living. He’s a normal human It’s quick and easy to read, with a lot of funny moments. There’s nothing serious about the manga series at all. The artstyle is also really cool, with a rough around the edges look. Tatsuki Fujimoto has also written some really great one-shots that I wouldn’t have found without Chainsawman. Would definitely recommend checking those out as well.

Spy x Family has been consistently brilliant right from chapter one, well almost. I really struggled with the arc set on the cruise ship. It felt like it just went on forever, but as soon as that finished I started really enjoying it again. It’s so funny and the art is fantastic. It’s a story where a master spy acts goes undercover as an average man, Loid Forger for a mission, where he adopts a young girl, Anya, who is also a mind-reader but doesn’t let Loid know. To make the cover convincing he fake-marries Yor, an elite assassin. It’s a little bit like Mr and Mrs Smith, but better. If your a manga fan and haven’t given this a go, then you need to. The anime isn’t bad either, but I prefer the manga.

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Update – 27/11/2022

I was very optimistic at the beginning of November about hitting the 50K word count target on the story I’m writing (currently titled Once), but now as the month is coming to an end I don’t think I’ll be hitting that target. I’ll be close and I’ll let you know how I do on December 1st. There’s just not enough time in the day for everything, and work and not feeling great got in the way.

I haven’t really read that much this month, which is going to my big focus in December once I’ve finished with writing. I want to take a break before I go back and edit the story, so I’m going to just focus on reading for December, finish up another writing project in January, and then come back to Once to start editing hopefully in February.

On top of that this morning I woke up after a dream, that was pretty much a fully fledged story in itself. I don’t normally remember dreams, but this one was so vivid in my mind that I made notes straight away before it started to fade. It’s similar to The Creature from the Black Lagoon, which is probably my favourite Universal Monster Movie, competing with the 1931 Dracula. I have the beginning, middle and ending. I’m hoping to get started with actually writing it after editing Once. It’s a great feeling to have so many ideas and am excited to start actually writing them, which is actually what I’m going to go and do now.

Thanks for reading and until next time,

Ashley

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Beastars: Volume 3 – Manga Review

Legoshi is a wolf at Cherryton Academy, a school with a mixture of carnivore and herbivore animals. Volume 3 of Beastars by Paru Itagaki, continues his story, and in this volume he starts to become friends with Haru, a rabbit who he almost killed in volume one. Haru doesn’t know that Legoshi almost killed her, but there’s still a natural instinct to be scared of Legoshi. It’s a strange relationship that’s growing between them, although they only share brief scenes together in this volume.

More interestingly we get to see a look at the wider world for the first time in this volume as Legoshi leaves the academy to go into town to help prepare for the Meteor Festival. It’s a really wide and varied world and it feels like we’re only just scratching the surface. The art during this section is also really strong and really gives you the sense of how lively the world is. I hadn’t really thought about the wider world beyond the school grounds, so really enjoyed this part of the story. The carnivores go to a darker side of town, where they can buy herbivore body parts, showing a much darker side of the city.

The murder that kicks off the whole series, isn’t mentioned really at all. There’s still a lot of tension between the carnivores and herbivores, but it’s linked to another murder that has taken place. When I read the first pages of the series I thought this was going to turn into a murder mystery fast, but that seems to be the slow-burn plot point, that I’m guessing is going to become more important as it goes on.

There is a really strange chapter in this volume about a hen, Legom, who sells her eggs to the school shop for egg sandwiches. The chapter features Legoshi only as a side character, and instead does some world building. It also gives a nice break from the main story. I hope there’s more of these side chapters throughout the series, as it makes everything seem more real and that there’s more going on outside of the main few characters. It makes Cherryton Academy feel more alive.

Volume 3 definitely widens the world of the manga further and still continues to be focused on a great set of characters. I really love this manga, and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get round to reading it. There’s so much going on with it, that I’m completely hooked. It’s a dark story, with so many great characters. Everything about it is really well done, and I’m excited to continue.

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