Beauty Unbound

Contrary to what Peter Jackson’s Tolkien adaptations may portray, more often than not the sensational worlds found within the fantasy genre are filled with many beings who are equally hideous on the outside as they are within. Monsters, whether they be goblins, ghouls or liches hide around every dark corner, waiting to prey on those who live in the light. And as more advanced games have shown, sometimes creatures can get the upper-hand by startling their opponents on appearances alone. But in our latest release, Queen’s Blade: Perfect Visual Collection, while also possessing its share of evil-doers, only the fairest and the strongest can rule supreme!

Beauty overflows in this gorgeous full-color hardcover artbook by Hobby Japan. Featuring more than one-hundred pages of character art by the many original character designers from this infamous role-playing game Queen’s Blade is set to unleash an alluring and sensual side to the fantasy genre. And it is that element, that has made the Queen’s Blade brand such a sensation world wide. Spawning numerous games, comics and animated cable series, this Lost World module, teases and titillates fans as they cheer on their favorite warrior through their fictional life-or-death tournament. Also included, for more traditional table-top gamers, are details about the world of Queen’s Blade, to make the experience engaging whether or not fans have played the original card-based RPG.

Now many have said, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Queen’s Blade: Perfect Visual Collection is no exception to that. We understand that this might not make its way into every stocking hanging by the fire this winter. However, whether or not you’ve seen Risty clash against Echinda on the small screen or been battled to a critical against The Ancient Princess Menace, there is no denying the high quality of Vertical’s first art book collection. We just hope this beauty will win enough of your hard earned dollars to let us try other art books in the future.

A Manga Institution

Much like Thanksgiving, Toru Fujisawa’s GTO has been a namesake in pop-culture. While Americans have long come together around the holiday bird in November, manga readers across the globe have been partaking in a feast of nail-bats, minotaur cosplay, and potty jokes that has made the Great Teacher Onizuka franchise one of the most beloved properties over the last two decades.

In the sixth volume of GTO 14 Days In Shonan, we’re treated to nonstop action and tension as it’s up to the Great Teacher to help keep the peace. With the Oedipus club continuing to terrorize, to the point where actual lives start hanging in the balance, even some of their own are realizing they’re going too far. As always, the fists are flying and whether he’s at the giving or receiving end, Onizuka still stands to protect those who need his help.

So this holiday season, stuff your stockings and brighten your Fridays with a copy of GTO. Complete with intense fist-action, emotionally charged and compelling characters, and a rather gratuitous amount of fanservice, GTO: 14 Days in Shonan is stuffed with everything you could want out of standout shounen manga, minus the filler or tryptophan found in other comics.

Pressure Internalized

Like most Vertical authors, Keiko Suenobu is no stranger to writing works that addresses serious issues facing today’s youth, by often placing characters into some serious situations. Her previous manga, Life, earned her the prestigious Kodansha Manga Award, and her latest work, Limit, more than lives up to the standards set by it.

This second volume will continue to disrupt you at the core level, leaving you unable to put this book down even when you’re past your breaking point. From the start volume two is more introspective than the previous. That doesn’t mean it isn’t just as tense and terrifying, however. While the first volume of Limit directly dealt with the themes of bullying, this volume deals with the depths of this small band of characters. With the world of high school cliques and popularity they used to live in now demolished, these girls need to figure out how they’re going to survive this horrible ordeal. How are they going to deal with that pressure? They can’t hold out forever, will they ever be rescued? Will they all survive? Characters collide and true intentions are revealed in this thrilling volume of Limit!

“I can’t remember the last time I was this freaked out by a manga… Remember the hubbub over the 2002 non-fiction book, Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughters Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence by Rosalind Wiseman? Parents had quite the shocking wake-up call about what their little girls could really be like among their so-called friends. Limit strips away all that made-up glamour and privilege, and throws the girls into a brutal 21st-century Lord of the Flies survival-of-the-most-desperate-setting. Thus the nightmare begins… I’m still shaking (and with that cliffhanger-ending, can hardly wait to see what happens next).”–The Smithsonian Institute’s Book Dragon