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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Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Director: Rian Johnson

Writer: Rian Johnson

Starring: Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson, and Dave Bautista

Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is back for the second Knives Out Mystery, Glass Onion, which takes its name from a Beatles song. Like the first film it’s written and directed by Rian Johnson and features a great ensemble cast, as well as a blend of comedy and suspense as Blanc solves his next great case.

An eccentric billionaire, Miles Bron (Edward Norton) sends out puzzle boxes to his closest friends, and once they solve them, they’re invited to his mansion, the Glass Onion, on his private island to participate in a murder mystery night. Somehow Benoit Blanc also receives an invite, despite Miles not having invited him. Once they’re all on the island they find there’s a greater mystery than Miles’s game.

There are so many twists throughout the film, to the point that even the actual mystery Blanc is solving isn’t really fully revealed until late in the game. Everyone has a secret, and once the pieces start to fall into place it works really well. It does hold most of major clues until a lengthy flashback sequence, so it’s not quite satisfying to find the solution, since it seems to obvious once the clues are there. You spend more time trying to figure out what Blanc is actually investigating, rather than getting to the bottom of it. Even so, it’s still very funny and entertaining to watch and it does feel like you’d get more out of rewatching the film.

Everyone in the cast is absolutely brilliant, as you’d expect. It’s great to see Daniel Craig back as Blanc, who’s introduced sitting in a bath while playing Among Us with friends while in lockdown. Without any challenges or cases to solve, he’s resorted to practically living in the bath. The film is set during the pandemic, which is strange to see so present in the film. Especially seeing all of the characters in masks as they arrive on the boat to the private island.

Glass Onion is a good sequel to Knives Out but it doesn’t top the brilliant of the original. It’s still a fun murder mystery and is more evidence that Benoit Blanc deserves his place alongside the likes of Poirot and Sherlock Holmes as one of the best fictional detectives ever created. Hopefully the third film is just as good.

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Strange World – Film Review

Director: Don Hall

Writer: Qui Nguyen

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Jaboukie Young-White, Gabrielle Union, Lucy Liu

Rating: ★★★★

Strange World, which is directed by Don Hall and written by Qui Nguyen, is the latest film from Walt Disney Animation Studios. Despite this, it’s one of the worst marketed Disney films in recent years. I go to the cinema a fair bit, and I haven’t seen a poster or a trailer for this once. It makes no sense, because the film has gorgeous animation, a crazy imaginative world filled with weird and wacky creatures, and a great cast of characters.

Avalonia is completely surrounded by mountains that have never been crossed. Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) goes missing while trying to cross the mountains with his son Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), who returns with a new plant that revolutionises Avalonia’s way of life. Twenty-five years later and that same plant is suffering from a diseases that is threatening everything about the utopia that Avalonia has become. While trying to discover the cause of the disease Searcher finds that there’s a whole new world living just under the surface of Avalonia.

The film is one big adventure, filled with great amounts of peril, some funny moments and a sentimental story about fathers and sons. Searcher doesn’t want to end up like his dad, and not understand his son, but in the end he’s very similar, he just can’t see it. There are parallels throughout the three generations. The film is also about the ever timely topic of climate change and living harmoniously with nature.   

Everything about the Strange World that the characters explore is filled with excellent creature design and wild imagination. The animation is simply amazing and stunning to watch. There’s so much detail in the little things, and the creature design is wildly imaginative. The visuals and designs give a lot of hope that Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga could one day be adapted as an animated series and completely work.

Since there’s a new Disney film, there’s a new lovable mascot to go along with it. This one comes in the form of Splat, a blue flubber like creature that helps the main character on their journey. It can’t speak but makes beeping noises that sound like BB8 from Star Wars, and it’s simply adorable as well as really funny. It’s not even subtle that Splat was designed to sell toys, they even joke about it in the film with one character saying he wants to merchandise Splat.

It’s another straight up Disney animated classic, and one that will probably find an audience once it’s inevitably released on Disney Plus. It’s a great family adventure film that feels like it has stakes. It’s not toned down for kids and is completely entertaining to watch as an adult. It’s definitely worth watching this, whether it’s on the big screen or streaming.  

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