The AJ items are Barrage Rei Hiroe Artworks, Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex Solid State Society Visual Book, My-HiME & My-ZHiME figure special, My-ZHiME Saga ~Ayane Kourin ♥ Hen~, My:Otome Zwei vol.2 Limited Edition w/ Arika fig, Change 123 tank vol.4 and Lives "Raibusu" vol.1 were added last minute. I got Black Lagoon vol.6 HK version in the beginning of the month (@ YA) but added it in the pic to coincide w/ Barrage :D.
I'll start off w/ the Otome items first. Zwei vol.2 LE is the same old DVD & CD (w/ new ending song [storm]) but we get a actual fig this time (screw that lame mikoto fig). It's also my first fig in more than half a year i think. Of course, i didn't really want it, i just buy everything LE that is HiME/ZHiME :P. The fig is your standard CM trading fig kind. Now most CM HiME/ZHiME figs are crap quality. This one isn't too bad, it's one of the better ones like the ones that came in MH vol.6-8 R2. It comes w/ two bases actually, a rubber one and your standard plastic. The plastic hooks and sticks are included as well of course. Here's a shot:
It was a quick setup as i was too lazy to get the hooks and poles set up
The My-HiME & My-Otome figure special book is basically a book to show me how much awesome and crappy HiME/ZHiME related figs I missed out on buying but also reminding me how much money i saved (but spent elsewhere :P). So every single HiME/ZHiME figure ever released up till Jan/Feb is covered in detail, with some in more detail than others. A couple of future releases are taken as well (show in one of my samples below). The book also contains production sketches from both HiME and ZHiME. These are nothing new if you own the R2 DVDS, 1st two HiME mooks (or some of the other books) as well as the Otome Perfect guide. It does contain some new sketches and art at the time of it's release (as vol.2 zwei's insert booklet has some of these sketches as well). The most interesting sketch is the character comparison chart as we see the fumi silhouette.
The Ayane Kourin novel is basically the same as the MH Side-A & Side-B novels that I have. So, like a novel, it's mostly all text & story. Maruto is not in charge of the art this time but the artist known as Tachibana Seven (the artist responsible for the Feb 28th manga, My-Ztome Saga ryu to otome no namida). Unlike the Side A & B novels, the artwork isn't presented at the chapter titles but spreadout through the chapters. Seven's art basically mimics Hisayuki's style but is far more simple and less detailed. Seven also doesn't draw any background art. However, because he mimics Hisayuki's art, I've decided to get the manga now. Other art in the novel includes the usual insert coloured art in the beginning. For this novel, it's a fold out. It features a Hisayuki drawn Ayane Hazakura on one side, w/ a Tachibana Seven art featuring Ayane, Nicola ("ni-ko-ra") & "Ku-ra-ri-ssa" (i'll just call her Carissa). Nicola and Carissa are the other two main charas in the story. The back of the novel features Hisayuki sketches of the main charas and minor charas. So we see Ayane in her meister robe, sketches of Erstin's ancestor Carissa Ho and Nichola Rei Fran (Ayane's 14 year old classmates), Pearl no.1 Sophia amongst others. These sketches are all available at the Otome Big Bang site if ya didn't know. I haven't attempted to read the story as i just got it and it will take a me awhile to get thru. The manga will probably make things easier when released.
The GitS SAC SSS visual book is essentially the same as the other visual books detailing on some of the story aspects of the movie as well as recapping the laughing man and individual 11 stories. production art is mostly from the movie but some old production art from the 1st two visual books are shown as well. There's a talk/interview w/ kamiyama and another one w/ ohtsuka & yamadera. a page of gits products is shown. a lot of detail on the nissan as expected. there's also the usual comic at the end. i'm glad that they had a textless version of the cover art from the first 2 visual books shown on one page each as they're awesome. Sadly, they didn't have the cover for this book shown in glory.
Barrage Rei Hiroe Artworks is a fantastic artbook. It collects most of the works he's done. You get all his Black Lagoon cover art (in textless form) as well as the coloured interiors of the manga shown originally in GX. You also get all promo art he's done for BL. A lot of his other works are shown like his other mangas (ie. Shook up), some comiket art; covers drawn for novels & other mangas; game artwork that he's done. It's all amazing stuff if you're a mega fan like i am. Sadly none of his adult doujin stuff shown. Meh, i have most of 'em anyways, but sux for others. The other half of the artbook is actually a reprint of this manga he did in 2000, which got a limited release in 2003. The manga is Phantom Bullet and it's pretty sweet as I was trying to track it down on YJA a couple of years ago (prices were a ripoff though).
Finally I'll just mention Lives 'Lives' The Monster's World. Those following my blog know that i read a bunch of manga unknown to most, and have been purchasing them. Lives is the new one this time. I got this one simply for the cover...i mean come on, how hawt is that chick?! However, i knew Lives was by Masayuki Taguchi, therefore if the story sucked, i knew at least the art will be great. For those who don't know, Taguchi is the artist for the Battle Royale mangas. Unlike BR, he does the art AND story. So yeah, the guy can draw some very hawt females and some good looking dudes, but also some really nasty looking dudes. Judging so far from vol.1, Lives isn't as gory as BR (though there is gore), nor does it contain any explicit sex (like BR). There is nudity though but not so much as BR (no crazy mitsuko chara currently :P). With BR being the last art i've seen from Taguchi (don't want to touch the older baron gong battle, unless i find the HK version), his artwork has greatly improved over the past 6 years. I'll probably be picking up the future tanks as i'm interested in seeing where this will go, also i want to see more Hatsuki (hottie on the cover) & Kyoka (other hottie in the book).
I have other stuff that i haven't shown yet, but i'll save it for later as i got pics to use for 'em ^_~.