I was at my LCS a few weeks back and found this manga among their relatively small section. Little Battlers Experience has been like finding a small new world. I read the first volume and wondered why I had never heard of the series because it seemed like a perfect mainstream series to make into a million offshoots. Upon further research, that is pretty much the case.
Littler Battlers Experience, LBX for short, came out in 2011 (a decade ago!). However, it is pretty tough to say what the initial idea was. Wiki claims the series is based off of a game developed by Level 5 (one of my favorite video game studios). The first game came out on PSP in June of 2011. The manga predates that by 5 months. But maybe Level 5 wanted a manga out to introduce kids to the series before the game’s release? The anime came out in March of the same year, both predating the original game. By my calculations, there’s no ongoing anime, but a series called LBX Girls just wrapped up their first season. It has spawned several video games, spin off mangas and anime adaptions.
So, what is Little Battlers Experience? This game came out late in what I call the “kids anime” genre. Think Pokemon, Digimon and even Bakugan. A lot of those animes came out in the late 90’s and early 2000s. Most kid animes did not take off after that time period. Bakugan is probably an exception, coming out in 2007. And it just missed the DS/3DS revival. Yokai Watch kind of became the next generation’s Pokemon in a way. The DS and 3DS helped give a lot these made for kids animes a place to branch off into games. LBX tells the story of how little robots were built for kids to battle with. They’re customizable robots and the stages are cardboard dioramas. Our main character’s, Van, father was a creator of LBXs. He would die in a tragic airplane accident. 5 years later a woman holding a mysterious briefcase shows up being chased by 3 men. She hands the briefcase to Van and tells him to run. The briefcase is revealed to have an LBX created by Van’s father. Later it is also discovered that Van’s father hid a blueprint to an unlimited energy source in the robot. Van’s father is also alive and being held captivate by the evil organization introduced earlier. Van must win a tournament to claim the key needed for the infinite energy machine. For exchange of the key, the organization will release Van’s father.
The story is nothing special or groundbreaking, but it does not need to be. The manga is mostly for kids and to help sell the video game. On that front, I think it does a fine job. The art is good, the characters are likable but not really unique and the story doesn’t drag on. In fact, one of my complaints is the story progresses pretty quickly. Another knock is that, for now, the characters are only passable. The good guys are heroic with reckless abandonment and the villains are corny levels of cliché. This won’t matter to kids who are just enjoying robots killing each other. Volume 1 is fine as far as the setting, the scope, and grand scheme of the story. I feel like volume #2 may help in those departments as the LBX tournament is about to start.
But on the plus side, this is a great starter manga for kids. It only ran 6 volumes so it should be easy to collect. It is pretty action pack to keep the kids’ attention. The battlers are similar to Pokemon or any of those kind of mangas. There’s no foul language, no blood and guts, no perverted comments or degrading of women. It is just a good, clean fun manga.
Recap: To reiterate, this a fun manga if you are into series like Pokemon, Zatch Bell or anything that seems similar to those. If you like those adventures, you’ll feel right at home with this one.
Action: This manga has action in every chapter. And its robot action too!
Romance: No hints of romance currently.
Plot: Again, this is a kids series. The plot is deeper than say Pokemon, but it is not the main draw here.
Characters: I like the characters. Right now, they are all pretty stereotypical. We have the stubborn hero, the jaded grandson, the cartoon villain, the buddies through it all pals. But they are likable and well written for what they are.
The World: The world is like ours, but with mini fighting robots.
Humor: This isn’t your typical edgy humor Shonen but it has moments of being funny.
Verdict: 7 out of 10. It is not perfect but I enjoyed my time with it. My LCS has 2-4. I’ll probably pick them up at some point. I recommend checking this one out for sure if it sounds interesting to you.
I think this is our second manga haul. These are some of our newest pickups and I’ll do some later ones that are like retroactive pick ups. So let’s get right into it.
These mangas are Gantz Volume #1, No Longer Human and Smashed. No Longer Human and Smashed are both from the mind of Junji Ito, one of the most respected horror mangaka. Gantz sounds like a trip and a half. I’m just going to quote Wikipedia on this one, because, honestly, they said it best. “It tells the story of Kei Kurono and Masaru Kato, both of whom died in a train accident and become part of a semi-posthumous “game” in which they and several other recently deceased people are forced to hunt down and kill aliens armed with a handful of futuristic items, equipment, and weaponry.” Like what!? This manga sounds insane. Smashed seems to be a collection of stories by Junji Ito including I Don’t Want to be a Ghost, Death Row Doorbell, and Smashed.
AOI House is an original English Manga about two guys that start living in a dorm with girls who are fans of yaoi. Blade of the Immortal follows the story of Manji who kill 1,000 evil men to become mortal again. It sounds kick butt and I bet my brother would enjoy it a lot. The Promised Neverland is a book Jessica has been looking for for a while now. The story revolves around orphaned kids as they learn the truth behind their purpose. I assume there is some level of magic elements in it.
So there you have it. These books were traded in to our work so we picked them up while we could. Be on the look out for more Manga Monday reviews and hauls!
As discussed, this last Monnday was the last of the year. Meaning no more Manga Mondays for 2020. I thought it would be fun to recap what all we read.
Read But Not Reviewed: Eden Zero Volume 1-3.
Rebirth Volume #1. Reviewed January 6th. Last Christmas my brother got me the first 22 volumes of Rebirth. We reviewed the first one to start the year off. It scored an 8 out 10. It wasn’t groundbreaking but it was just very solid for what it was. Read the full review here.
Rave Master Volume #1. Reviewed May 11th. This manga was a bit more up my alley as from as the genre. It plays out like most action orientated mangas of the late 90’s. Staring a teenage male who comes into possession of mystical, world saving weapons and items. This was the manga that helped jumpstart Hiro Mashima, writer of Fairy Tail, into the world renowned Mangaka he is today. It scored a 7.5 out of 10. Read my full review here.
Dragon Eye Volume #1. Reviewed June 8th. Take the same description from above. Boy comes into possession of a mystical, world saving weapon and item. Only this manga felt a lot more gritty and serious kind of in the same way Naruto could be really serious compared to One Piece. We gave Dragon Eye a 7 out of 10. Read my full review here.
Jujutsu Kaisen Volume #1. Reviewed October 19th. Maybe my favorite manga I reviewed this year. That’s very tough to call. However, this really felt like you were reading the next big thing. I did thoroughly enjoy this manga. This is backed up by the fact I scored it a 9 out of 10 stating it had all the makings of a classic. Read the full review here.
Zombie Powder Volume #1. Reviewed December 22nd. Again we find ourselves retracing roots. This was the debut manga from famous Mangaka Tite Kubo, author and creator of Bleach. The writing can be weird at times but if you enjoy early Dragon Ball mangas, you are going to love this manga. I scored it a 7 out of 10. Read the full review here
Psyren Volume #1. This manga started off all over the place and almost lost me several times. By the end of it, I was glad I stuck with it and finished it. I actually enjoyed it a lot. This book feels like it might have a lot going for it as the story progresses. Definitely worth the read. I rated it 7 out of 10. Read the full review here.
Average score: 7.583
Honestly, the main reason so many scored 7’s is because I felt like I enjoyed them a lot but the general public might not as much. Honestly, Rave Master might be my favorite I reviewed all year, but I know it got lost in the shuffle of the Narutos, One Pieces, and Bleach of the world. All in all, I liked every book I read. It is amazing how many mangas I bought this year and just how few reviews I did. It is really indictive of how hard momentum could be to keep this year.
Let me know what mangas I should review next year! Thank you for reading and have a great day.
Tite Kubo is a household name as far as mangas go. He created Bleach, very long, previously ongoing series. Bleach ran for 74 volumes over the course of 15 years! He has since gone on to write Burn the Witch! If I sound excited, is it because we recently reviewed the anime- which I loved. Check out my review of Burn the Witch here. But, as the title suggest, this isn’t about Bleach or Burn the Witch. This is about Tite Kubo’s origin story, his debut, Zombie Powder!
Over the summer, I stumbled upon this manga in a 2nd and Charles. I did not recognize the name because I had never experienced Bleach and Burn the Witch had yet to release. Though, reading the back revealed the author’s impressive history and a plot I wanted to dive into. Needless to say, at $3.50, I dove in. This is a book that kept on giving. 7 chapters and nearly 200 pages of sheer manga action. The second half of the book was a thrill ride much like the first half. However, the second half takes place exclusively in a bandit’s compound. Meaning, with tight rooms, black and white art, and insane energy from sword fights, sometimes the plot and even the action was hard to follow. But that really was my only complaint. The writing is borderline juvenile but hey, he was 22 years old when he wrote this and I find the childish nature of these mangas charming. The characters are perfect for this style of book. They all can be very funny, very personal, easily enraged, and eager to fight. Throw all these characters together, the good guys and the bad guys, and you have a real recipe here. Factor in the fact the setting is a Western with over the top guns and kickbutt swords with fighting scenes that do not hold back, and this is a real page turner.
The story centers around two guys on a quest for the 12 Rings of the Dead which can either revive the dead or grant the living eternal life. Gamma Akutabi is the main character. He is motivated by the thought of immortality. Elwood on the other hand is on a mission to revive a dead family member. They are a very genuine duo and I think that’s what I really appreciate about the manga. There’s a lot subtly in the dialogue. Akutabki and Smith are talking about how they would never partner with someone who would get themselves killed so easily. Yes, Akutabki and Smith are addressing each other but they are saying this to Elwood, who is a young, goodhearted kid. This scene really makes it appear Akutabki appreciates and respects Elwood despite the age difference. I just really like how to two play off of each other.
One complaint the manga developed over time was an uninspired plot an unoriginal character designed. Personally, neither of these bothered me at all. I can get gripes if you do not like this genre or maybe even getting burned out of the genre. However, if you really like this area of manga, this going to feel like home. In fact, part of the manga felt like those old school Dragon Ball adventures. The manga only ran for about a year so it should be easy to complete and read.
This manga is perfect for anyone who wants to relive the glory days of the early 90’s into the 2000. Naruto and One Piece were beginning to make their ascension into the goliathes of manga while Kubo was starting to make a name for himself. Filled with likable characters, questionable jokes and more severed heads and disembodied bad guys than you can shake a chainsaw sword at, Zombie Powder proves to be a nonstop joyride from the first page to the end of the chapter.
I’ll give it a very solid 7 out of 10. The criticism was all about how easily forgettable and lost in the shuffle this manga was. Now, while I enjoyed the first volume, no one ever talks about this series (I’m not sure how many even know it exist). Meaning, the critics, I guess, were right. However, I would love to find volume 2 for roughly the same price one day.
Today’s Manga Monday will examine Jujutsu Kaisen. Jujutsu Kaisen was written and drawn by Gege Akutami. It began serialization in 2018. It was brought stateside thanks to Viz Media.
Spoilers: Only regarding the first manga. Nothing series wide.
Plot: The plot centers around a young protagonist named Yuji Itadori. For the sake of not just regurgitating the story, we will paraphrase. Yuji Itadori and fellow classmates recover an ancient talisman, a cursed finger. Well, time has passed and the protection thought to be derived from the talisman is beginning to fade. With it fading, demons and curses are attracted to the negative energy school yards attract. All of this is explained by a jujutsu sorcerer to Itadori. Understanding the dire situation, and while facing very strong curses, Itadori consumes the cursed finger. With this, the super graded demon lord, Sukuna the King of Curses possess Itadori. Now, just like in Tokyo Ghoul and Parasyte, our main hero is also the antagonist.
Yuji Itadori- As a lead character, I don’t think we’ve seen him fully developed of course. However, as a person, we have a lot to go off of. He is extremely selfless. With two of his classmates life on the line, he rushes into combat. He has no powers, yet. Still he aggressively fights high grade curses with no regard for his own life. This attitude continued through the 7 chapter volume. When he comes face to face with another high level curse, he buys his teammates enough time to escape from the curse. I cannot wait to see Itadori keep evolving into a great lead character.
Jujutsu Sorcerers- Most of the other characters we spend time with are jujutsu sorcerers. Think of these people almost as ninja’s infused with chakra in Naruto. These sorcerers can sense curses, use “magic” (I guess?), and ultimately fight the evil curses. These characters are Satoru Gojo, Nobara Kugisaki, and Megumi Fushiguro (pictured below, respectively). Fushiguro is the character with the most panel time, but I don’t remember if he got fleshed out yet. However, when the characters are together, in any capacity really, they are enjoyable. The chemistry is good, the dialogue is enjoyable, and they get to fight a good bit of curses throughout these early chapters.
The World: The world is pretty similar to ours but there is a big difference. Spirits, demons, and curses are all real and materialized. There is a Jujutsu Sorcery school where people are trained to become elite sorcerers. Personally, I hope the school and the rest of the sorcerers get more panel time as the series goes on.
Recap: Jujutsu Kaisen is the next in Shonen Jump’s signature action packed comedy realm that they just exceed at. Akin to other shonens of the past like Naruto, Jujutsu Kaisen is an easy to jump into kind of manga.
Action: Plenty. Definitely a strong suit for the manga.
Romance: None at the moment. At least I did not pick up on any.
Plot: I like it. I’ve read a few super natural mangas and this ranks with the best of them.
Characters: I really like the 4 main characters. The villains seem interesting but I’m mostly projecting here.
The World: While similar to ours, there is enough uniqueness to make the world cool.
Humor: The manga is funny, but not nearly as funny as some of the others we’ve reviewed. You will certainly chuckle at some parts though.
Verdict: It is a great time to jump in as the anime is only about 3 episodes deep as of the posting of this blog. This manga follows in the long line of epic Shonen Jump’s from decades past. A must for fans of the genre.
Score: 9 out of 10. This manga has all the makings of a classic. It has humor, action, and likeable characters. The first chapter was a little slow. The fight scenes and some of the more hectic panels are hard to follow but that can be a weakness in a lot of black and white manga. I think it assorted itself as a clear top tier manga while falling just short of some of the heavier hitters like Tokyo Ghoul. I am excited for the anime and to follow the manga closely.
Thanks for reading! Have a great day!
Continued Reading Below!