Manga Review – Baby Birth and Gakuyaura Oji

Baby Birth

Most likely a failed anime pitch, Baby Birth is an unintentionally ridiculous mash-up of stereotypical plot elements. Hizuru, a teenage singer/figure skater, meets Takuya, an arrogant young pianist whose piano playing awakens her hidden power to fight demons by singing (and improves her self-esteem, etc.). As lizard monsters, big-nosed warlocks, and sleazy tentacled beings invade the earth, Takuya and Hizuru team up to musically fight them, vanquishing the enemies in a brilliant screentone lightshow, while a little winged angel gives them advice. As the artist, Mikimoto turns in his usual professional performance: attractive and individualistic in the anime style he helped pioneer, but hectic and hard to follow, the work of an illustrator rather than a manga artist. Shokugeki no Soma Manga

Gakuyaura Oji

Akari is a regular, plain high school girl who gets lost one day and tumbles into the backstage of a kabuki theater. There, she meets kabuki heartthrob Ryusei Horiuchi, a misanthropic actor who can only connect with his cat, Mr. Ken—and now her. Akari becomes Ryusei’s assistant and girlfriend, but everyone else seems to be out to stop their love. Each of the chapters in this short series could stand alone, and there isn’t much variation on the Romeo and Juliet love obstacle plotline. But it’s refreshing to see Akari playing an equal role in the romance, initiating the make-out scenes as often (if not more) than Ryusei. The story doesn’t break any new ground, but it’s a good choice for a quick, light read. The art is typical shôjo, with lots of kimono shots. Read more


Bass Master Ranmaru

Hobbyist manga involving a rebellious fishing pro who gives up the big time to go back to small-town life. Ranmaru competes in fishing competitions, provides readers with fishing tips and techniques, and promulgates a nostalgic, pseudo-mystical appreciation of the art of bass fishing. The manga does a good job of explaining key terms (heavy fishing jargon permeates every chapter), but as a general read it’s predictable and uncompelling. The e-book also suffers from a number of glaring typos.