Friday, July 3, 2009

Manga Review: Bamboo Blade.

Manga Review # 001
Title: Bamboo Blade
MSRP: US $ 10.99 (CAN $ 11.99)

Hello again my few and scrappy fans! I'm your Navigator Richard J., deranged and twisted as ever.

Today I am reviewing Bamboo Blade by writer Masahiro Totsuka and artist Aguri Igarashi! This one is a lot of fun and quite lovely. Here's the manga front to back!

The front cover features our heroine, Tama-chan!


The back cover does too as well as Kojiro-sensei but more on him later!


Now, on to the main event! As you know, we here at Blog of A Heretical Dub Lover like to have special guests for reviews and this one is no exception!

However, my guest reviewer is late getting here. (She probably overslept.) So I'll start us off!

First, let me tell you about this manga! Bamboo Blade is the story of Kojiro, a teacher at Muroe Private Senior High School. He's lax, not very pulled together and, as a fellow teacher describes him "an enthusiastic, sort of dim-witted teacher" who may be able to "shake things up."

Kojiro is also the comedy relief of the series. In spades.

The series starts, however, with our heroine Tamaki Kawazoe. After showing off her Kendo skills briefly, we switch to Kojiro as he makes a bet with his sempai, a fellow teacher. They will take their respective Kendo clubs' female members and conduct a match. If Kojiro wins, he gets a year's worth of free-sushi from his sempai's father's restaurant! (What does Kojiro give up if he loses? You'll have to read to find out!)

Realizing only afterward that he has only two girls in his Kendo club, the hyper Kirino Chiba and the ever-absent Saya, he quickly comes to the conclusion that it's time for new recruits! Unfortunately, his sudden EXTREME enthusiasm for Kendo scares people more than anything else but he soon learns of Tama-chan from Nakata, a boy who wants to join! She's a childhood friend and someone he's tried to get to join school Kendo clubs before.

Tama-chan lives at a dojo and sees Kendo as more of a chore than anything else. However, it's a chore she's mastered. Without breaking a sweat, she can take down anyone. Kojiro tries to gain her membership but her complete lack of interest early on may mean his dream of easy sushi might not come true!

Bamboo Blade is a well-balanced mix of slice-of-life, comedy and Kendo badass-ary. The fight scenes are extremely energetic and very well drawn in my opinion. The humorous moments with Kojiro are spastic enough to easily draw a laugh. However, what makes this series worth reading are the quiet moments.

One of my favorite scenes is a simple one. Tama-chan had tried to record a show but recorded a comedy routine instead. As she watches it anyway, she gets a little smile on her face. It's just a few panels but that smile tells you so much about her. It's also a decided contrast from her Kendo stance face, which would be at home on Musashi Miyamoto.

This is a Yen Press title so you can expect color pages. This series is no exception from the norm. Here's the lovely color page (the next page is also color but it's a table of contents, not a nice shot of Tama-chan so who cares right?)


Also, the paper quality is good, the pictures are very clear with stand out ink, even in shade and line heavy scenes of Kendo. The writing is fluid and easy to get into. Another quality product from a quality company.

The character designs are distinctive within the manga, meaning you can easily tell characters apart. More attention is given to the cute girls in this manga but don't underestimate the men. Kojiro and Nakata each get to look good and the first not-so-nice character gets multiple images of his SADIST face.

The contrast between expressions in general in this series is quite well done. The characters are very expressive, even Tama-chan in her own stoic way.

I already mentioned that the writing can pull you in. It also has a flowing plot that advances at a natural pace. The jokes don't feel out of place and the characters have plenty of personality.

Ah! My special guest has just arrived! What the heck kept you?

Yurie Hitotsubashi: Sorry. I fell asleep.

Richard J.: Why do you have a cat in your hands?

Yurie: This is Tama-chan. I thought you wanted to review her.

Richard J.:. . . .


Yurie: I'm just being silly. Please, let me start by introducing the characters now!

Richard J.: Well, I kinda did that but okay.

Yurie: Thanks! Here is Kojiro-sensei. He's in it for the sushi. He's our debt-ridden hero.


Yurie: This is Tama-chan. She's our disinterested heroine and goddess of victory!


Yurie: Here with have Kirino. She reminds me of my friend Matsuri. She's our energetic heroine!


Yurie: Oh, here's a Kendo scene from the manga.


Yurie: That's all!

Richard J.: Wait, aren't you leaving out a character? Where's Miya-miya?

Yurie: Oh. . . um. . . do I have to? I do, don't I.


Yurie: I'm glad I'm on this side of the manga. She scares me. She's our dark goddess of victory?

Richard J.: Thanks for the helping hand Yurie!

Yurie: Thank you for inviting me! Kamichu!

Will our heroine's heroic fighting spirit be awakened? Will she join the club and use her bamboo blade to kick some villain's butt? Will any other girls join? What does Kojiro's sempai want if he loses? Who is the mysterious Saya? Who is Miya-miya?

Find out most of the answers in the first volume of Bamboo Blade!

Also, check out the anime when Funimation releases it! 26 episodes of Kendo and cute girls! (You can also find more of Yurie by checking out Kamichu!, once available from Geneon but now coming at you from the same awesome company bringing us the Bamboo Blade anime!

The first volume of the manga is available now Robert's Anime Corner Store, The Right Stuf, Amazon and Books-a-Million! Don't hesitate to buy this one folks!

Oh, since no one entered, no one won the contest for the Afro Samurai Resurrection DVD.


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