My Week in Manga: June 13-June 19, 2016

My News and Reviews

Okay. So I don’t usually get very personal here at Experiments in Manga, but I feel it’s needed this time. Last week I had every intention of posting an in-depth review of Dawn, the first novel in Yoshino Tanaka’s renowned space opera Legend of the Galactic Heroes. But Thursday came along and I’d only managed to write a quarter of it and I finally had to admit to myself that it just wasn’t going to happen. And so while driving to and from taiko rehearsal that evening I took the opportunity to reevaluate some things and to try to find a sustainable solution for Experiments in Manga.

The last year and a half or so has been rough on me. Without going into unnecessary details, I have been under tremendous amount of stress at work, at home, and just in general with more and more responsibilities to take on and less and less time for myself. While my anxiety issues are fortunately mostly in check at the moment, being stressed out feeds directly into my depression which in turn feeds into being stressed out. It’s a miserable cycle that’s difficult to break. And it makes doing all of the things that I want to do nigh impossible, even if I actually had the time to do all of those things (which I don’t).

I can’t do much about the situation at work right now, and my options outside of work are limited, too, but one thing that I have complete control over is my blogging. While there are some very strong arguments to be made for me to completely give up writing at Experiments in Manga, that’s not really something that I’m prepared to do yet. However, I will be drastically changing my approach and will be writing less, at least for the time being. I’m hoping this won’t be permanent, but I will have to see how things go as I try to find some balance in my life.

And so: For now the My Week in Manga feature will continue to be posted as normal, as will the monthly manga giveaways. The Bookshelf Overload feature will still make an appearance every month, too. However, in-depth reviews and other long-form features will by necessity be posted more sporadically and won’t necessarily adhere to a specific schedule. To make up for this somewhat, the Quick Takes section of My Week in Manga will be expanded slightly to include my thoughts on novels and nonfiction works among other things. Even though overall I will be writing less, this means that I’ll be able to read more, and hopefully relax more, which will be very good for me.

Anyway! In happier news, according to the series’ translator, the second volume of Quantum Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner is scheduled for release later this year. (I reviewed the first volume when it was released and liked it so well that it made my list of notable works of 2014.) Kodansha Comics’ most recent creator spotlight features an interview with Akiko Higashimura. The latest manga Kickstarter campaign to launch is a project by Fakku and Toshio Maeda to release a remastered edition of Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend. Some pretty big news for fans of BL in translation, Japanese publisher Libre has cut its ties with Digital Manga. Sadly, though perhaps not especially surprising at this point, Digital Manga’s press release comes across as very passive aggressive and unprofessional.

Quick Takes

Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, Side: P3, Volume 2Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, Side: P3, Volume 2 by So Tobita. I haven’t actually played the Persona Q video game, but from what I hear from others, the manga adaptation remains true to its tone and main storyline. My knowledge of the original Persona Q, as well as my knowledge of Persona 3 and Persona 4 which directly tie into Persona Q, is admittedly cursory. Those who do not have at least some familiarity with the Persona franchise will be at a significant disadvantage when reading Persona Q, especially when it comes to understanding the characters and their personalities. Fortunately, I know enough to be able to appreciate the Persona Q for what it is—a fun and slightly silly adventure with puzzles, labyrinths, and cute artwork (much like the game itself, which I suspect I would greatly enjoy playing). The manga is very clearly an adaptation of an role-playing game as some of the side quests, boss fights, and other elements of gameplay remain quite evident, but the ways in which they are incorporated into the story are generally unobtrusive and make sense within the context of all that is going on.

Red Red Rock and Other Stories, 1967-1970Red Red Rock and Other Stories, 1967-1970 by Seiichi Hayashi. As far as creators of alternative manga go, Hayashi is fairly well represented in English with several volumes of manga available in translation. The most recent is Red Red Rock and Other Stories, a collection of thirteen of Hayashi’s short avant-garde manga as well as an accompanying essay by the volume’s editor and manga historian Ryan Holmberg. Most of the stories come from the influential alternative manga magazine Garo, but two of the selections were actually created for the magazine A Woman’s Self. Out of all of Hayashi’s manga currently available in English, Red Red Rock and Other Stories is probably one of the least immediately accessible. While Hayashi’s imagery can be stunning and appreciated by all, some of the short manga in Red Red Rock and Other Stories will likely be nearly impenetrable for a casual reader. But that’s where Holmberg’s informative essay comes in handy, explaining some of the references and historical context needed to fully understand the collection. I enjoyed the manga in Red Red Rock and Other Stories, but I also appreciated being able to learn more about them.

The Seven Deadly Sins, Volume 12The Seven Deadly Sins, Volumes 12-14 by Nakaba Suzuki. It’s been a while since I’ve read any of The Seven Deadly Sins, but I picked up the series again just in time for a major showdown. Granted, just about any of the fights that occur in The Seven Deadly Sins become epic battles simply because all of the combatants involved are so incredibly powerful. The action sequences are impressive, although sometimes it can be difficult to tell exactly what is going on. Some of the characters move so quickly only the results of their martial techniques are apparent. Occasionally Suzuki absolutely nails these sequences and they can be thrillingly effective, but just as often the action ends up being confusing. Suzuki also seems reluctant to actually kill anyone off which means the stakes don’t seem as high they should be. Well, except for the potential end of the world. At first it seems as though an apocalypse has been averted in these few volumes, but soon it become apparent it that it may have only been delayed. The Seven Deadly Sins still have plenty of fighting left to do, not only for the future of their world but also to overcome their past mistakes.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Volume 1: DawnLegend of the Galactic Heroes, Volume 1: Dawn by Yoshiki Tanaka. Thanks to Viz Media’s speculative fiction imprint Haikasoru, Tanaka’s award-winning Legend of the Galactic Heroes novels are finally getting an official English-language release. Although Dawn is largely a standalone novel, it feels even more like an extended prologue to the ten-volume work as a whole, providing an introduction to the setting and the war that is the focus of the series. Much of Dawn is devoted to two opposing factions, the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance, but there’s also the Phezzan Dominion, a third faction which ultimately isn’t as neutral as it first appears. While the cast of characters in Legend of the Galactic Heroes is fairly large, at this point the most is known about two rival strategists—the reluctant hero Yang Wen-li and the ambitious genius Reinhard von Lohengramm—and their closest cohorts. With strategists as some of the main characters, a fair amount of legitimate battle strategy is included in Dawn which I particularly liked. There’s also a significant amount of politics involved in the story and none of the factions come out of the first volume looking very good with their warmongering ways.

My Week in Manga: June 6-June 12, 2016

My News and Reviews

Last week at Experiments in Manga I posted May’s Bookshelf Overload. Largely in part due to my trip to TCAF and the generosity of Kodansha Comics, I ended up with a lot of comics and manga to add to my shelves in May. I was actually out of the state traveling for work for most of the week, but while I was gone I did manage to post an in-depth review of Yui Sakuma’s Complex Age, Volume 1 which is scheduled to be released later this month. I was completely taken by surprise by how strongly the manga resonated with me.

As for some of the interesting reading that I came across online last week: Kodansha Comics’ most recent creator spotlight, which includes links to interviews, videos, and more, focuses on Yoshitoki Oima. ICv2 interviewed Stu Levy about Tokyopop’s return to print publishing. At The OASG, Jenny McKeon shared part of her story about becoming a manga translator in comic form. Also, the most recent installment of The Sparkling World of 1970s Shojo Manga highlights Keiko Takemiya and her work.

Quick Takes

Kiss Him, Not Me!, Volume 3Kiss Him, Not Me!, Volumes 3-4 by Junko. I can’t help it. I do have some reservations about the occasional emphasis placed on Serinuma’s weight (although it does reflect more poorly on the other characters than it does on Serinuma herself), but Kiss Him, Not Me! honestly makes me grin. The story is ridiculous and over-the-top, as are Junko’s illustrations. The characters’ facial expressions and extreme reactions can be pretty spectacular. But there’s also some legitimate character development in the series to go along with the comedy. At times it can even be quite touching. One of the things that makes Kiss Him, Not Me! particularly refreshing is that although Serinuma is basically dealing with a reverse-harem situation, she doesn’t really have any sort of romantic interest in any of the other characters. Like the title suggests, she’d much rather her fujoshi fantasies be indulged. But at this point she does care a great deal about them all as friends, and she makes a great friend even if her suitors would like something more. The four boys and now also the one girl (who is a fantastic addition to the series) are slowly changing for the better and are becoming better people simply by knowing her.

Orange, Omnibus 2Orange, Omnibus 2 by Ichigo Takano. The first manga to really floor me this year was the debut of Orange. I was a little worried how the second half of the series would turn out, but Takano handles the story very well, finding a good balance between hopefulness and bittersweetness. Orange is a series that deals very frankly, realistically, and powerfully with heavy subject matter like depression and suicide. Takano captures extraordinarily well what it can be like to have depression and how extremely difficult it can be not only for that person but for their loved ones as well. Orange recognizes that issues surrounding mental health are complicated and simple fixes don’t really exist. The manga is not always an easy read—honestly, it can be devastating and I’ll admit to reading through tears on multiple occasions—but it most definitely is a worthwhile series. The second omnibus is filled out by one of Takano’s earlier manga Haruiro Astronaut, a romantic comedy which plays around with shoujo tropes. After the hard-hitting emotional drama of Orange, Haruiro Astronaut comes across as a little frivolous, but it’s enjoyable and in the end I rather liked it’s goofiness.

Paradise Residence, Volume 2Paradise Residence, Volume 2 by Kosuke Fujishima. I’m a little surprised by how much I’m enjoying Paradise Residence. Perhaps it’s because the series reminds me of some of the better parts of living in a dormitory and leaves me feeling a bit nostalgic for my college days. (Paradise Residence is about an all-girls high school, though, so the experience isn’t quite the same.) I was particularly fond of the chapter in the second volume in which everyone shows off their culinary skills and creations using low-budget ingredients and super-simple cooking techniques. (Actual recipes are included in the volume as well, which is a nice touch.) Paradise Residence is a fairly low-key comedy that relies more on the charming nature of its cast rather than on over-the-top humor, although sometimes the manga can be pretty ridiculous. The characters are generally likeable and their interactions are entertaining, providing much of the series’ appeal. However, their characterization does come across as somewhat shallow; some of the girls seem to be little more than a “type” or are stuck with a single gag instead being allowed to be fully-realized characters.

Complex Age, Volume 1

Complex Age, Volume 1Creator: Yui Sakuma
U.S. publisher: Kodansha Comics
ISBN: 9781632362483
Released: June 2016
Original release: 2014
Awards: Tetsuya Chiba Award

I almost passed over the English-language debut of Yui Sakuma’s Complex Age, but I’m very glad that I took the opportunity I had to read it. Complex Age, Volume 1 was first released in Japan in 2014 while the English-language edition of the volume was released in 2016 by Kodansha Comics. I believe that Complex Age is currently the first and only professional work by Sakuma to have been released. The manga began in 2013 as a one-shot which won the Tetsuya Chiba Award. (That one-shot is also included in the first volume of Complex Age.) Then, in 2014, Complex Age was relaunched as a series. While the original one-shot and the longer series don’t appear to be directly related when it comes to characters and plot, they do share a similar basic premise—an adult woman who is growing older and coming to terms with what that means for her hobbies and interests. I actually didn’t know that was what Complex Age was really about before reading the first volume. I thought it was simply about cosplay and since cosplay—the passion of the series’ main character—isn’t a particular interest of mine, I wasn’t anticipating that the manga would be story that I would end up so closely identifying with.

Nagisa Kataura is twenty-six years old, lives with her parents, and works as a temp worker for a tutoring agency, but in her spare time she is an accomplished and admired cosplayer. Her favorite character to cosplay is Ururu from the anime Magical Riding Hood Ururu who represents everything she wants to be as a person. Nagisa pours herself into her creations and is known for her attention to detail and high-quality work. She does all that she can to achieve perfection and to completely embody a character. However, despite cosplay being such a huge part of her life, she keeps her hobby a secret from her family and coworkers. Now that she’s an adult it’s become even more difficult for Nagisa to share her passion with people who aren’t already accepting of cosplay; it’s considered by many to be a frivolous hobby more suited for much younger fans. As she ages, Nagisa becomes more and more self-conscious about her cosplaying and the criticism that she receives becomes harder and harder for her to take. And yet Nagisa still loves what she does and cosplay is a very important part of who she is.

Complex Age, Volume 1, page 32At first, I wasn’t sure that I really liked Nagisa. The opening chapter begins with her preparing for an event at which she will be cosplaying Ururu, putting an incredible amount of effort into making sure that everything is just right. But while she is at the event she is exceptionally rude and judgemental of the other people there, her behavior culminating in an outburst in which she harshly and publicly criticizes another cosplayer for not respecting the hobby and for not taking it seriously enough. However, as Complex Age progresses, Nagisa becomes a much more sympathetic, or at least understandable, character. The reason she is so sensitive is that her confidence, self-worth, and personal identity are almost irrevocably intertwined with her cosplaying. And so what Nagisa perceives as an insult to the hobby becomes an insult to her personally; when someone else is more talented or more physically suited to portray her favorite characters, she can only see her own faults and limitations being emphasized in comparison. She’s genuinely afraid that she is getting too old for cosplay and that voluntarily giving it up or being rejected by others because of her looks or age would result in her losing a large part of herself.

Before reading Complex Age I didn’t know much at all about the behind-the-scenes work that goes into cosplay, but the manga generally  incorporates those sorts of interesting details quite nicely into the story. I’m still not particularly interested in or personally invested in cosplay myself, but Complex Age still resonated with me a great deal. Like Nagisa, I’m an adult interested in media and hobbies that many people look down upon or generally associate with a younger age group (in my case, manga and comics among other things). I also know quite well and understand the dangers of allowing a passion to define one’s self or to impact one’s self-esteem. I have dealt with and, if I’m completely honest, continue to deal with many of the same uncertainties, insecurities, and struggles that Nagisa faces in Complex Age. While so far I do like the series, I think that the Complex Age one-shot about Sawako, a thirty-four-year-old woman letting go of her passion for dressing in Gothic Lolita fashion, made an even greater impression on me. (Also, Sawako’s husband is pretty great.) I’m very curious to see if Sakuma will take Nagisa’s story in a similar direction or if ultimately the Complex Age series will be a little less bittersweet than its predecessor.

Thank you to Kodansha Comics for providing a copy of Complex Age, Volume 1 for review.

Bookshelf Overload: May 2016

I will be the first to admit that  the amount of manga, comics, and other delights I acquired in May was kind of ridiculous, especially when compared to recent months in which I’ve deliberately tried to curb my spending. However, I expected and planned for a bump in May, mainly because the month includes my annual trip to TCAF. I picked up so many independent comics and zines while in Canada! And it made me very happy. I was also pleasantly surprised to receive an enormous box of review copies from Kodansha Comics at my new address. I really wasn’t expecting to see one so soon after the last box that arrived. (But thank you!) All that combined with a few preorders and other bargains meant that May was a big month for me.

As for some of the highlights from May: Kazuo Umezu’s manga series The Drifting Classroom appears as though it may be going out of print. Volume 11 is becoming particularly difficult (and expensive) to find, but I was able to nab a stray Canadian copy. After a several-year delay, Masahiko Matsumoto’s Cigarette Girl was finally released by Top Shelf last month. Likewise, it’s been a few years since Drawn & Quarterly published its initial collection of Shigeru Mizuki’s Kitaro, but now there’s The Birth of Kitaro which I loved. There are several other May release which I’m excited about and hope to review in the future, too, including Lianne Sentar and dee Juusan’s short comic Shut In Shut Out from Chromatic Press/Sparkler Monthly, Requiem of the Rose King, Volume 4 by Aya Kanno from Viz Media, and Another: Episode S/0 from Yen On which contains both Yukito Ayatsuji’s novel and Hiro Kiyohara’s manga. My in-depth review of Yui Sakuma’s Complex Age, Volume 1 should be posted later this week as well; I didn’t anticipate that it would resonate with me as much as it did. Oh, and the Dororo anime is now available, too!

Manga!
As Many As There Are Stars by Miecohouse Matsumoto
Attack on Titan, Volume 16 by Hajime Isayama
Bakuman, Volumes 3-5 written by Tsugumi Ohba, illustrated by Takeshi Obata
Bleach, Volume 1 by Tite Kubo
Cigarette Girl by Masahiko Matsumoto
Complex Age, Volume 1 by Yui Sakuma
The Drifting Classroom, Volume 11 by Kazuo Umezu
Fairy Tail, Omnibus 2 by Hiro Mashima
Fairy Tail, Volumes 52-54 by Hiro Mashima
Forget Me Not, Volume 2 written by Mag Hsu, illustrated by Nao Emoto
Genshiken: Second Season, Volume 8 by Himoku Kio
Inuyashiki, Volume 3 by Hiroya Oku
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Part 2: Battle Tendency, Volume 3 by Hirohiko Araki
Kiss Him, Not Me, Volumes 3-4 by Junko
Kitaro, Volume 1: The Birth of Kitaro by Shigeru Mizuki
My Little Monster, Volume 13 by Robico
Noragami: Stray God, Volumes 10-14 by Adachitoka
Ouran High School Host Club, Volumes 4-16 by Bisco Hatori
Paradise Residence, Volume 2 by Kosuke Fujishima
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, Side: P3, Volume 2 by So Tobita
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, Side: P4, Volumes 1-2 by Mizunomoto
Planetes, Omnibus 2 by Makoto Yukimura
Real Account, Volume 2 written by Okushou, illustrated by Shizumu Watanabe
Requiem of the Rose King, Volume 4 by Aya Kanno
Say I Love You, Volumes 12-13 by Kanae Hazuki
The Seven Deadly Sins, Volumes 12-14 by Nakaba Suzuki
A Silent Voice, Volume 7 by Yoshitoki Oima
Tract by Shintaro Kago
UQ Holder, Volume 7 by Ken Akamatsu
What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Volume 10 by Fumi Yoshinaga
Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Volumes 7-8 by Miki Yoshikawa
Your Lie in April, Volumes 6-7 by Naoshi Arakawa
Ze, Volume 11 by Yuki Shimizu

Comics!
Always Raining Here, Volume 1 by Hazel and Bell
Avialae, Chapter 1 by Lucid
Bad Company, Part 2 by Guilt | Pleasure
Before the Snows Come by Kat Verhoeven
Cautionary Fables and Fairy Tales: Asia Edition edited by Kel McDonald and Kate Ashwin
Foundations of Chinese Civilization: The Yellow Emperor to the Han Dynasty by Jing Liu
Foxfire by Carolyn Gan
GQutie, Issue 1 by Ronnie Ritchie
Human Plantation by Various
If There Be Magic by Kez
Is This a Fetish?: A Weird Aesthetic Zine by Sfé R. Monster
Leveret written by Andrew Wheeler and illustrated by Tory Woollcott
Life on the Hill 5 by Love Love Hill
Magical Beatdown, Volume 2 by Jenn Woodall
Muddlers Beat, Volume 1: Literally Everything Is Outside My Comfort Zone by Tony Breed
Nameless & the Scientist, Volumes 1-2 by Amei Zhao
Portals, Chapter 1: Twenty Minutes by Kori Michele Handwerker
The Prince and the Swan, Volumes 1-2 by April Pierce and Gareth Cj. Wee
Pupa: A Bug Anthology edited by Lawn and Saicoink
Romeo X Julien, Act 1: The Family by Marina
Shitty Horoscopes: The Anthology by Amrit Brar
Shut In Shut Out written by Lianne Sentar, illustrated by dee Juusan
This Will Be Worth It by Sfé R. Monster
Those Spaces Between by Kez
Up Until Now by Akimiya Jun
Valley of the Silk Sky, Part 1: The Long Run by Dylan Edwards
Wayward, Volume 3: Out From the Shadows created by Jim Zub and Steve Cummings

Artbooks!
Samurai 2.0: A Tribute to Men by Various
Take My Revolution!: A Revolutionary Girl Utena Fanzine by Various
Yuko Shimizu
by Yuko Shimizu

Novels!
Another: Episode S/0 by Yukito Ayatsuji
Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure by Hideo Furukawa
The Secret Biwa Music That Caused the Yurei to Lament by Isseki Sanjin

Anime!
Dororo directed by Gisaburō Sugii

My Week in Manga: May 30-June 3, 2016

My News and Reviews

Since it was the end of one month and the beginning of another, there were a couple of different things posted at Experiments in Manga in addition to the usual My Week in Manga feature. First of all, the Paradise Residence Giveaway Winner was announced along with a list of some manga licensed in English that feature boarding schools, dormitories, or other communal living arrangements. As for the first in-depth manga review of the month, I was absolutely thrilled to write about Shigeru Mizuki’s The Birth of Kitaro, the first volume of Drawn & Quarterly’s new Kitaro series designed to appeal to readers of all ages. I am so incredibly happy that more Kitaro manga is being released in English. I loved Drawn & Quarterly’s original Kitaro collection from back in 2013 (it was one of my most notable releases of the year), but if The Birth of Kitaro is any indication, I’m going to love this series even more.

I’m still keeping plenty busy at home and at work, but there were I couple things in particular that caught my eye online last week. For one, the fourth part of “The Sparkling World of 1970s Shojo Manga,” focusing on Moto Hagio, was posted at The Lobster Dance. Also, Seven Seas made a slew of new licensing announcements over the course of the week. The one that I’m most excited for is The Girl From the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún by Nagabe (coincidentally, Jocelyne Allen recently reviewed the first volume at Brain vs Book and it sounds fantastic), but Seven Seas has also picked up four more yuri manga—Milk Morinaga’s Secret of the Princess and Hana & Hina After School, Hiromi Takashima’s Kase-san and…, and Hachi Ito’s Kindred Spirits on the Roof—as well as Seiju Natsumegu’s Ghost Diary, Tsukasa Saimura’s Tokyo Undead, Kawakami Masaki and Hato’s There’s A Demon Lord on the Floor, and a collaboration with Mamenosuke Fujimaru to create an English-first manga, Captive Hearts of Oz.

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan, Volume 16Attack on Titan, Volumes 16-18 by Hajime Isayama. It’s been a little while since I’ve read Attack on Titan proper as opposed to one of the spinoff manga or novels. Granted, part of that is because the North American release of the manga has more or less caught up with the Japanese release; with number twists and turns in the series’ plot, I find that Attack on Titan generally works better for me if I can read several volumes at once. These three volumes delve into the backstories of several of the characters including Levi and, probably more importantly, Historia. There are also several important reveals regarding the nature of the world and of the Titans. Overall, an exciting few volumes with some legitimately interesting developments. Although the series is still ongoing, it feels as though Isayama is beginning to set up the series’ finale. I’m hoping for a satisfying conclusion, and I’m starting to believe that Isayama might actually be able to pull one off. With the sixteenth volume, Kodansha Comics has also started releasing special editions which are packaged with other merchandise. Some of the extras, like playing cards, I’m not personally interested in but others, like the No Regrets anime, I’m definitely glad to have.

Fairy Tail: Blue Mistral, Volume 2Fairy Tail: Blue Mistral, Volume 2 by Rui Watanabe. Recently, I’ve been sampling quite a few of Fairy Tail‘s spinoff manga being released in English. Some I’ve actually liked while others I’ve merely tolerated, so it was anyone’s guess as to whether or not I’d appreciate the franchise’s shoujo offering, Blue Mistral. I’m happy to say that, for the most part, it’s not a bad series at all. The plot of Blue Mistral, Volume 2 may seem to oversimplify what is really a rather complicated situation and some of story’s resolutions feel like they come a little too easily, but considering that the series original intended audience was preteens and early teens I don’t necessarily consider that to be a true fault. Actually, it’s kind of refreshing to read such a sweet, cheery, and bright version of the world and characters of Fairy Tail. Blue Mistral follows the adventures of Wendy Marvell, an impressively skilled twelve-year-old sky-dragon slayer magic user. She’s a likeable and earnest protagonist who believes in friendship and in helping others whenever she is able. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Blue Mistral‘s shoujo version of Wendy may be even more adorable than Fairy Tail‘s shounen version, in part because Watanabe’s artwork tends to be fairly cute.

Wild ButterflyWild Butterfly by Hiroki Kusumoto. It wasn’t until I was about halfway through reading Wild Butterfly that I realized that I had previously read another of Kusumoto’s manga, the first volume of Vampire’s Portrait. I didn’t especially like Vampire’s Portrait (I never got around to reading the second and final volume), but it did have one thing in common with Wild Butterfly—when called upon, Kusumoto can draw some fantastically frightening scenes with shocking reveals. Wild Butterfly is a collection of five unrelated short manga. Despite the fact that, because the volume was released under Digital Manga’s June imprint, “yaoi manga”  is emblazoned on the front cover, only one of the five stories could even arguably be considered boys’ love. Most of the stories have a bit of horror or some supernatural elements, although the titular “Wild Butterfly” is more of a period piece about the tragedy of war. There aren’t really any overarching themes in Wild Butterfly, but the stories do tend to be fairly melancholic and somber. The collection isn’t outstanding or particularly refined, but there are some interesting aspects to the stories. I did at least enjoy Wild Butterfly much more than I did the beginning of Vampire’s Portrait.