I mentioned in the review for "Girl Who Leapt Through Time, After" that I'd gotten some manga from a guy that was cleaning his shelves off at his family's home before returning to school in the U.S. I kind of cherry-picked titles from some photos he'd given me, so what I got was either stuff that I wanted to read (Acony, Gunslinger Girls) or that caught my eye and I was curious about (Black God, Girl Who Leapt Through Time). There are a couple books that I don't feel like doing full reviews of, so I'll just comment on them here.
Gunslinger Girl is probably the most infamous of the titles in the U.S., so I don't need to go into much detail. It is an action-filled story, and if you like weapons, you'll probably want to read this one. My problem with it isn't from the ethical angle of having young girls mechanized and turned into government-sponsored assassins, but instead is more art-related. Basically, the artist can not draw cigarettes. The adult characters almost all smoke, and the cigarettes all look like little twigs in their hands. This inability to cope with scale often includes the sizes of the weapons, so that an adult holding an Uzi looks like they've got a toy prop. This distracts me from the rest of the story.
I've seen Black God many times at the bookstores in the U.S., and I just can't get past the cover art on volume 1. Is that supposed to be a boy or a girl? Is she really fighting people on the streets barefoot? And her fighting style is boxing? So, I wanted to get volume 1 just to get a little more of a feel for the manga. And yeah, it's dumb. Doesn't help that it's a fake manga by two Koreans. I've written before about how I think that manwha that tries to copy the look and feel of manga just doesn't work for me. In part it's because the art's not all that good, but it's also that it feels like a cheap rip-off storywise. The incidental male characters in Black God are mostly jerks, which I find boring. No interest in reading this one any further.
Manga Fox has HandxRed, which I read scanilated before getting first two volumes of the original Japanese books. The story is by Hideyuki Kurata, and the art is from Hoshi Itsuki. I haven't seen anything from Hoshi before, but Hideyuki is pretty well-known, with Cloth Road, R.O.D. - Read or Dream, and Train+Train. Actually, I thought Train+Train had a really good premise and some decent artwork. It's a shame that the ending was so godawful weak. I could never get into R.O.D., though, which I considered silly with uninteresting character designs. Which brings me to HandxRed. Jim and Luca live in a fantasy universe where magicians at a specific school are raised to fight on the front lines of a war. Luca learns some forbidden arts and betrays Jim in order to get immortality. As a victim of a curse, Jim spends 100 years in limbo, and is only allowed 10 days on earth trying to track down Luca before the curse kicks in again. It's not really a bad storyline or plot, and the art is fairly decent. Most of the characters are likable, while still able to be irritating, too. The problem is that after following Jim through some time-hopping adventures and laying down the basic premise, the manga gets lost in a flashback for 1.5 volumes and wrapped up in a twisted future that doesn't seem to be going anywhere. I'll probably follow any new chapters that show up on Manga Fox, but I won't go out of my way to do so.
Along with "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time - After", I also received the manga version of the original 2006 movie - Toki o Kakeru Shojo The story is described pretty thoroughly in the wiki page. The artwork in the manga isn't bad; certainly better than for "After". It's an easy read, and the character designs are pretty clean. My problem with it is that the story is dumb. A girl learns to travel through time literally by leaping through it, and then uses up all her chances by repeatedly doing all-night karaoke and cheating on her tests. The "time slip" method seems to simply let her consciousness travel through her body to an earlier period (she can go back but not forward), and her body never seems to age. There's at least one other time slipper who can travel physically, but the author doesn't bother with the danger of him meeting himself. When she discovers that the number of times she can time slip is limited, she wastes them by trying to keep her two male friends from trying to date her (which would break up the current group dynamic), only to cause one or the other of the boys to die in a train accident. At the end, she acknowledges that liking the boys is ok, but that's about as far as she gets. Granted, Japanese 17-year-old girls have a reputation for being self-absorbed airheads, but this is a bit much for me to swallow. Still, the movie is very popular here, which I guess means something one way or the other.
(The initial accident where the heroine learns to time slip.)
Finally, I present Telepathy Girl Ran. Originally a light novel by Atsuko Asano, TGR has been adapted for manga by Toshitsugu Iida, and as an anime TV series. I'd tried watching the anime on NHK a number of times, but it struck me as being a little too juvenile. But, I had a shot at vol. 3 of the manga, so I figured that I might as well at least try checking it out. And yeah, it's aimed at young girls. Young Ran Isozaki can read people's thoughts when she touches them. Midori Naha is a new transfer student that develops a crush on Ran's older brother. She has similar powers to Ran's, but the two of them don't always see the same supernatural stuff around them the same way. In volume 3, A friend of Ran's father invites him out to his cabin in the mountains, and Midori, Ran, and Ran's friend Rui tag along on the trip. At the cabin, they meet the man's pet monkey, and hike out to an area where some flowers are growing under some rocks. The flowers seem to be connected to an incident in the man's past, and they attack Midori when she gets too close, cutting a gash in her hand. At the end of the book, the group returns to the cabin without resolving anything. The artwork is good, if stylistic and aimed at a young female audience. Both Ran and Midori and look very cute at times, but the other characters often come off more poorly. Not my cup of tea.