Manga Power Rankings

Although it’s a little embarrassing to admit, I love manga and have probably read around 100 different series. Typically I enjoy manga featured in Shonen Jump, a weekly Japanese collaborative comic featuring one chapter from numerous ongoing manga. Usually the target demographic consists of high school students, but I started when I was in high school so I promise it’s not too weird to be older and still remain a fan!

Typically I enjoyed the battle manga genre the most, which probably has something to do with Dragon Ball Z being one of my favorite television show/anime growing up. Even with anime gaining popularity, reading manga has always been my preferred guilty pleasure because it’s quicker to binge and I enjoy reading more than watching. The online translations aren’t the best, especially some of the older chapters, as it’s usually illegally obtained ahead of the official Japanese release and legally the good translations don’t stay online for long.

I originally started writing this wanting to post my top 10 favorite manga, but I couldn’t decide a definitive 10th and figured I have an in with the editor so I could write an extra blurb about my 11th favorite. I tended to skew manga that have already been completed higher than the ones currently still in progress. There are many manga that I am currently reading that I enjoy immensely, but because they are still in progress and could decline in quality I can’t accurately rate them at this time. While I will continue to read new manga and could see this list changing, it’s a pretty concrete for me.
I read this manga when I was in high school and it holds a special place in my heart as it had one of the best premises, unfortunately, it never reached its full potential. Imagine a world where a magic school akin to Hogwarts existed in Japan, but you didn’t get accepted! Then through an impossibly convenient set of circumstances, accidentally break into the school and get accepted on a technicality, when in actuality, you can’t use magic at all! The ruse of being incapable of using magic, but his fellow students viewing the protagonist as a genius, spawned many humorous situations that forced the protagonist to overcome magical obstacles with cleverness and brute strength. It could have been so much better, but the universe wasn’t thought out and the author wrote himself into a corner with the amount of restrictions he placed on the story early on. I think it’s safe to assume there wasn’t a definite ending in mind when the author started and Mx0 devolved into a boring high school romance manga with some magic dashed in. There were some really enjoyable moments and arcs, but in the end I can understand why the manga was canceled before being able to tell it’s full story. I enjoyed the main character despite his bland motivations and overall similar character traits to other other Shonen protagonists. It’s not a genre I usually read, but it’s one I enjoyed and wonder what it could have been if handled a little better.

Art: B-
Story: C+
Characters: B-
Humor: B
Nostalgia Factor: A

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Read Red Rising

red denson starThis year I picked up the book Red Rising and couldn’t put it down until I finished the trilogy. From the first page “On Mars there’s not much gravity. So you have to pull the feet to break the neck. They let the loved ones do it.” I knew that this book was something special. The series is an epic fantasy that sprinkles in humor and is not afraid to cover darker topics.  The story is set on a futuristic Mars where protagonist Darrow rises from the lowest part of society, where the people are called Reds, to infiltrate and eventually overthrow the oppressive Gold upper class. I loved the simplicity of the color caste system to signify roles in society as well as the slang incorporated, such as gorydamn representing a curse word, which helped with the immersion into the world. I hate to use Hunger Games as a comparison because I thought Red Rising was better in every aspect, even as a love story, but the simplest way to describe the first book is Hunger Games in space.
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Death Nope

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I don’t think I’m breaking any ground here in saying that the Death Note Netflix adaption was an utter failure and embarrassment to the source material. Also it would be even worse without knowing the source material, so while it’s not worth watching, apparently it is worth writing about. Death Note originally ran in Shonen Jump back in 2003 and follows protagonist Light Yagami after he discovers a notebook with the ability to kill anyone who’s full name and face he knows. Light uses this book as a way to purge evil from the world under the surname Kira, while the police try to stop him. It’s probably one of my favorite completed manga of all time but the movie was one of the least favorite movies I’ve ever seen.

I can’t think of a single good thing leading man Nat Wolff has been in, and the deviations from the manga don’t make sense to me. Shortening the length of Death Note, which features over 100 chapters in written form, to fit an hour and a half movie can explain some of the questionable plot decisions, but turning this from masterful intellectual thriller to teenage drama certainly can’t be explained by time constraints and it wasted the source material in doing so.
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Harry Potter Book Power Rankings

harry potter coversschool covers

I have probably reread the Harry Potter saga over three times as a whole, with special attention to my favorite books in the series hitting near double digit rereads. It’s not a perfect series by any means, but it will always be my go to escape from reality. A sense of belonging and comradery with people that also read and grew up with the adventure is also something I will always cherish. These rankings don’t account for the movies at all and I put emphasis in the rankings on how likely I am going to reread the book over my first impressions of when I read it. Now, let’s start!
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Cursed Child Review

cursed jk rowling.pngA screenplay is essentially an unfinished product, the blue prints for a movie or a play, but unmistakably not a book. A screenplay is meant to be read by an actor or a director, and then adapted, but by selling it as a book, Cursed Child feels like an incomplete work and a desperate cash grab by the publishing company. My expectations were pretty low coming into it yet I was still disappointed.

Cursed Child has positive reviews as a performance, but numerous subpar reviews as a “book.” It’s understandable that the response to the screenplay would be so negative though, nobody chooses to read the screenplay for Fast and Furious when they can watch the physics defying car stunts. It’s refreshing to read about Harry and the gang, even if it wasn’t a story that lived up to their past adventures, but honestly I think it was the way the book was framed as the next installment by JK Rowling that may have set many fans up for disappointment. The high price certainly didn’t help tamper expectations either.  Continue reading

Done with Dune


Dune is one of the most ubiquitous fantasy novels ever written and maybe because of this reason, I found the book incredibly boring. Undoubtably author Frank Herbert created an expansive and unique universe; however, when the central themes revolve around the intricacies and political bodies of space spice-mining operations, well, it isn’t particularly captivating. The giant sandworms are a fascinating concept and were my favorite part of the novel, but these creatures didn’t feel too original. In the science fiction world if there’s sand, chances are high there’s also something massive below the surface. Dune came out in the 60s and it had such an impact on people that there are still references to it even today, even if younger generations don’t realize it. This was the first book to have giant sandworms, but today it feels like everyone has used these creatures.  Heck, there’s even an episode of Spongebob referencing giant sandworms. The universe crafted by author Frank Herbert doesn’t feel original because it’s been emulated in the science fiction genre so often.
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The World of Ice and Fire: It’s a Small World After All

the world not a world
The enormity of the book reminds me of my old 9th grade AP history textbook, but with content much more interesting. The format and story is more similar to a non-fiction book than a work of fiction, but its visuals make the book a little easier to read. Honestly I enjoyed the art more than the content, however, it can be cumbersome to read at times and it somehow it feels like it has a dearth of information. Depraved and thirsty for more A Song of Ice and Fire material I went to this book to satisfy my cravings, but came away hungry for more. That’s the thing with this story, I don’t think it’s possible to be satisfied.

George RR didn’t write this, but he did edit it. The “story” is written from the perspective of a fictional maester, so everything included isn’t technically fact because this is a character’s interpretation of history, but for the most it’s safe to assume the content is accurate. The book has a never ending output of names, especially at the Targaryen Dynasty, so it can be hard to differentiate characters and it can be a little overwhelming for some readers.
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Book vs Movie: The Martian

martian book cover vs book cover
They changed the book cover of The Martian to Matt Damon’s face and his eyes stare into your soul as you read the book, it’s a little unnerving. I never pictured Damon as main character Mark Watney during my read, despite having his face shoved down my throat by the cover, but I enjoyed his performance in the movie. I usually don’t read books like this, but I enjoyed the fiction and sort of non fiction fusion that the story tells. The book was an easy read as most of story is told through Watney self narrating his thought process on how to survive on Mars. The Martian is basically a mix between survivor tv shows, with Mars being the tough terrain, and some Myth Buster explosive science thrown in. I felt like I learned something reading this book.

Matt Damon handled the character well, but too often I was watching Matt Damon trapped on Mars instead of the Mark Watney in The Martian. An actor of his caliber made me grow attached and feel his raw emotion as he tries to survive on Mars. His performance put me on the verge of tears even though I read the book prior to the movie and knew he would survive. The humor of the character felt a little forced at times in the book, but Damon made it feel more natural. Humor was a huge reason the audience grew attached to Watney, so that was a key trait to the character. Damon’s character appeared to lose a ton of weight through the course of the movie, but apparently that was just CGI. It’s okay Matt, I’ll give you a slide, you did a good job. Just stay off the book cover next time.
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Dunk and Egg: A Must Read

dunk and egg and an actual egg...there were not many good pictures out there

Waiting for Winds of Winter to come out sometime before I die of old age, I started craving for more A Song of Ice and Fire material so I finally got around to reading all three Tales of Dunk and Egg novellas. They were amazing. It only took 2 days, the Hedge Knight was the longest at ~90 pages, but that’s nothing considering how much George RR usually writes. I haven’t reread the books in a while, but I’ve read numerous fan theories and as much of the wiki page as I could, it’s not the same!, but reading these novellas felt like a new book coming out early. I didn’t read them until now because…well I didn’t think I’d care about the events that happened in the past considering how I know how every turns out and they’re kind of hard to obtain, but I was wrong on both accounts.

The events in the Tales of Dunk and Egg occur roughly a hundred years before the Mad King and the downfall of the Targaryen dynasty. These two live in an entirely different Westeros than the one we’ve grown accustomed too. Martin released these novellas attached to other short story collection books, but I think it’s possible to purchase them individually on kindle or find PDF versions online. It’s still possible to understand and enjoy these novellas if one hasn’t read the books. Spoiler ahead, but I won’t ruin the plot to any of the novellas.
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Book vs Movie: Lord of the Rings

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Tolkien spends pages upon pages describing scenery that filming in New Zealand can accomplish in one frame. The narrative is tedious and exhaustingly descriptive while the dialogue feels pretty cheesy and annoying at times, something I never noticed during the movies. I breezed through the A Song of Ice and Fire series, but this book took me longer than I care to admit. I first fell in love with the movies and I wanted to love the books so badly, but the books were awfully boring by comparison. I wanted to learn more about the Tolkien universe but watching these videos answered a lot more questions than reading the trilogy and it only took 10 minutes.

The movies probably feature the best soundtrack I’ve ever heard and it multiplies breathtaking cinematography. The books aren’t devoid of music as there are songs and poems every other page, but it’s not the same. It’s not the same! Seriously though the book is half songs and poems…
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