Welcome to the action manga roundup, a look at five recently released manga. I've touched on each of these series on Anime Sentinel (check out the archives link ;) in the past giving an impression of each series and it's merits. Go back and take a read, I'll wait ... good, so now onto the manga. SPOILERS AHEAD, so be warned I do touch on plot points.

Hunter x Hunter vol. 17 – A great series in the vain of Dragon Ball Z with its action, journey, power-ups and all out fighting. Volume 17 of Hunter x Hunter finds the dodge ball game between Gon, Killua and Hisoke against Razor and his 14 Devils in full swing and about to come to it's conclusion. After the battle Gon's team acquires one of the rarest cards in Greed Island as well as learning some info about Gon's father from Razor. Now the stage is set for a confrontation with Genthru and his gang. Tsezguerra and his buddies do all they can to distract Genthru, but ultimately its come to a showdown between Gon's team and Genthru's team. Has the training Biscuit put Gon through going to pay off? How will Gon, Killua and Biscuit measure up in 1 on 1 fight with Genthru's team? What is up with Biscuit's true form ... massage? How will the death of the wife of the billionaire running Greed Island affect the outcome of the game? These are all questions we're left with at the end of volume 17. Great art, engaging story still going strong after 17 volumes, Hunter x Hunter is truly a special series.

King of Hell vol. 17 – The journey of Majeh is not to be missed. Volume 17 picks up with the fate of the Insane Hounds in the balance, well not really. They kick some bandit butt and then get tricked into some quicksand and poof, no more Insane Hounds in this volume. No, the meat of volume 17 lies in the life of Majeh. As he gets ready to set out to find the Insane Hounds he reflects. We see the father of Majeh, learn about his fate and that of the Dawn of Taoism, a group that trained Majeh and his father, a group that is now hunting down Majeh because of political orders. The back-story of Majeh is a manga in itself. For being such a feared and great swordsman someone sent Majeh to the underworld, and now we begin to see how that story unfolds, we see a younger innocent Majeh scared for his fate, confused as to why his friends are now hunting him. The story is just beginning in volume 17 and I for one cannot wait for volume 18. King of Hell is one of my favorite series with great art, action and story. It's worth investing in, say 1-2 volumes a month to catch up then enjoy.

D.Gray-Man vol. 7 – There are times I find D.Gray-Man very confusing. The background story sometimes confuse me, the Millennium Earl, Innocence, all of it. That being said I would not miss a volume. In volume 6 Allen tried to help a former exorcist turned akuma and it cost him dearly, his Innocence and his life. Almost. Somehow Allen's Innocence protected his heart, kept him from dying, but it turned to mist. With his arm gone he is no longer an exorcist, but that is something Asian Branch Director Bak Chan plans to change. Bak reveals to Allen that his Innocence is not gone. It's in mist form, but did not disappear like Innocence in that form usually do. Allen's task is to recapture, re-from his Innocence, but it's not going as planned and now he has to enlist the dangerous training of Fo, the guardian deity at the Asian Branch. So enough about Allen. He may be down and out but Lavi, Lenalee and the rest of the Exorcist teams journey continues as the search out generals. Miranda Lotto replaces Allen and she's depressive as always but has a power to create pockets in time, very hand for repairing a damaged ship. Of course an Akuma attacks the ship, but thanks to Miranda's time skill those killed are brought back to life. Lenalee battles an Akuma, one that may cost her as dearly a price as Allen paid in his last battle and that's it, the end of volume 7. So we're left with a life-or-death battle, Allen's recovery and the continuation of a great manga.

Archlord vol. 3 – Three volumes in just about a year. It's hard to keep up with a series with this kind of release schedule, but volume 3 makes it much easier. The humor and action found in the first two volumes starts to hit its stride in volume three with more of the world, people and politics of Archlord revealed (and Jin-Hwan Park's great art never hurts either). The battle continues from volume 2 as Father Kanneth has appeared to protect John, Arin and Ugdrasil, and he almost succeeds before biting the big one, Obi-Wan style. He does give enough of a distraction that some local Lycanthrope's get involved (thing werewolves) allowing the trio to escape, with the help of Nail. Nail is the little elf girl that's with the bad guys, but decides to switch sides since John seem more fun. Life and death, she switches on a whim. Ernan returns to the royal palace where we see the quips and gripes of royal court, and learn that a certain someone's mommy is still alive. Ernan gets his hand back, in a less than desirable parasitic form and convinces the king to set off on a journey to dangerous lands. Ernan is joined on his new journey by Ewan, and old wizard guy who know about the other legendary weapons, of which the sword Brumhard is just one. Next up, go figure, John, Nail, Arin and Ugdrasil get separated only to be reunited as prisoners of some gypsies to be sacrificed to the Lizardman leader Master Ingo. Oh, did I not mention John killed a Lizardman bringing on their wrath and being betrayed by the Gypsies he's sworn to protect. Good times. So the volume ends with John facing off against Ingo and a whole lot of political intrigue about to unfold. The politics are so-so, not my cup of tea, but the journey of a boy who can't quite seem to find his 'inner-power' is a trip, one well worth going on. Now if only we can get volumes faster, a fact they even make fun of in the manga.

Beet the Vandel Buster vol. 12
– The fight between Beet and Sir Baron wraps up with Beet having his butt kicked, and Sir Baron retreating. Beet unleashes an unseen power from his saiga, one that damages Sir Baron and forces the retreat. The fight is marred by Hystario interfering. He wants his turn with Beet and thinks by killing Sir Baron he can get his shot sooner. Problem is he does not count on Sir Baron's little secret, one kept under the helmet called Zanga. This is the biggest case of split personality I've ever seen. Zanga is a separate vandal attached to Sir Baron's head, as much a part of Baron as his arm or leg. Once a month, or when he blacks out, Zanga takes over Baron's body, a
nd as Beet damages Baron Zanga takes over, rips Hystario to pieces and is forced to retreat. See Zanga is a beast, one that protects Baron, and hates his noble ways of fair play and fair fights. Not an issue later in the volume as Sir Baron decides to just kill Beet as he recovers. Milfa calls in a few buddies, other Broad Busters, to help protect Beet but they are cast aside like leaves in the wind. Enter Kissu, fresh off his meltdown and the last line of defense for Beet. That's how the volume ends and sets the stage for 13. A good story, basic action fare, but it's addictive.