Manga Giveaway: UQ Holder! Giveaway Winner

UQ Holder!, Volume 1And the winner of the UQ Holder! manga giveaway is… Jenni!

As the winner, Jenni will receive a copy of UQ Holder!, Volume 1 by Ken Akamatsu as published by Kodansha Comics. With recent series like UQ Holder! and Ajin: Demi-Human coming out, I’ve been thinking about immortals in manga, and so for this giveaway I asked people to tell me about some of their favorite immortals. Check out the giveaway comments for all of the specifics, or the even longer (but still select) list of manga below.

Some of the manga available in English featuring immortals of various types:
3×3 Eyes by Yuzo Takada
Ajin: Demi-Human by Tsuina Miura and Gamon Sakurai
Black Butler by Yana Toboso
Blade of the Immortal by Hiraoki Samura
Blood+ by Katsura Asuka
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion by Majiko!
Durarara!! written by Ryohgo Narita, illustrated by Akiyo Satorigi
Five Star Stories by Mamoru Nagano
Hellsing by Kouta Hirano
Hoshin Engi by Ryu Fujisaki
Kamisama Kiss by Julietta Suzuki
Immortal Rain by Kaori Ozaki
Lunar Legend Tsukihime by Sasaki Shounen
Mermaid Saga by Rumiko Takahashi
Olympos by Aki
Kieli written by Yukako Kabei, illustrated by Shiori
Mystique Mandala of Hell by Hideshi Hino
Phoenix by Osamu Tezuka
The Seven Deadly Sins by Nakaba Suzuki
Suikoden III by Aki Shimizu
Trigun by Yasuhiro Nightow
UQ Holder! by Ken Akamatsu
Vassalord by Nanae Chrono
Vampire Knight by Matsuri Hino
Vampire Princess Miyu by Narumi Kakinouchi and Toshiki Hirano
Wish by CLAMP
Ze by Yuki Shimizu

Thank you to everyone who shared your favorite immortals with me! I hope you’ll all join me again for the next giveaway.

My Week in Manga: February 23-March 1, 2015

My News and Reviews

February has come to an end, but there is still time to enter Experiments in Manga’s most recent manga giveaway for a chance to win the first volume of Ken Akamatsu’s newest series UQ Holder!, published in English by Kodansha Comics. (The winner will be announced on Wednesday, so get those entries in!) Also last week, I posted two in-depth reviews. The first was of Yaya Sakuragi’s manga Hide and Seek, Volume 1. Because Sakuragi was my introduction to boys’ love manga I tend to be interested in and enjoy her work, but I think Hide and Seek may very well be one of her strongest series yet. The second review I posted was of Richard Reeves’ nonfiction work Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II. Technically the book won’t be released until April, but I received an advance copy from the publisher. It’s an informative though strongly worded examination of the internment camps and the service of Japanese Americans in the military during the war.

Elsewhere online, MangaBlog‘s Brigid Alverson has a new gig writing about manga for Barnes and Noble’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog. The Comics Journal has an interview with Breakdown Press, which includes additional information about its manga releases. Paste Magazine posted an overview of Fantagraphics’ manga publishing efforts. Seven Seas made two license announcements: Eiji Matsuda’s My Monster Secret and Kashiwa Miyako’s The Testament of Sister New Devil. Yen Press snuck some license announcements in over the weekend as well: Ryukishi07 and Souichirou’s Rose Gun Days: Season 1, Takatoshi Shiozawa’s Final Fantasy Type-0: The Reaper of the Icy Blade, and Daisuke Hagiwara’s Horimiya. Also of note, Drawn & Quarterly will be publishing a new paperback edition of Seiichi Hayashi’s Red Colored Elegy (bringing it back into print) which will include an essay by Ryan Holmberg not found in the original hardcover release. Finally, Graham Kolbeins put together a short documentary, The House of Gay Art, about a private museum in Japan devoted to the preservation of homoerotic artwork.

Quick Takes

His Favorite, Volume 1His Favorite, Volumes 1-7 by Suzuki Tanaka. I didn’t realize it at first since His Favorite is so completely different, but I actually read (and enjoyed) another of Tanaka’s boys’ love manga several years ago—her collection of short stories Love Hurts. Whereas Love Hurts tended to be a little on the dark side, His Favorite is most definitely a comedy. For the most part, it’s fairly chaste as well. I had actually intended to only read a few volumes last week, but I found myself enjoying the series so much that I ended up reading everything that is currently available in English. There’s really not much of a plot to His Favorite, just an entertaining set up and cast of characters. I especially adore Yoshida, the series’ protagonist who, with his short stature, unpopularity, and somewhat strange appearance, is an extraordinarily atypical boys’ love lead. Then there’s Sato, the other half of the manga’s main couple, who makes all the girls (and some of the guys) literally swoon. Honestly, although he has good looks, Sato is not a very nice person. He does, however, love Yoshida dearly. Of course, since he’s also a sadist, he loves tormenting and teasing him, too. While some aspects of their relationship are questionable, His Favorite is a genuinely amusing series.

Prophecy, Volume 2Prophecy, Volume 2 by Tetsuya Tsutsui. I was very impressed by the first volume of Prophecy and so was looking forward to reading the second a great deal. One of the reasons Prophecy works so well is that the intense social drama the manga deals in feels incredibly relevant. Paperboy’s desire for justice is understandable, but the methods employed by the group of vigilantes really can’t be condoned, though there are many who find their actions satisfying and even entertaining. The sudden shift in Paperboy’s popularity, the increase in the support of the group despite its blatant criminal activity, the appearance of copycats, the Anti Cyber Crimes Division becoming the villains in the eyes of the public, and many of the other developments found in the second volume of Prophecy are frighteningly believable. Internet culture can be extremely toxic and the manga presents a plausible scenario resulting from that. Though I didn’t find the second volume to be quite as compelling the first—much of the manga is focused on the chase rather than the character’s underlying motivations—Prophecy continues to be an excellent series; I’ll definitely be picking up the third and final installment.

The Seven Deadly Sins, Volume 4The Seven Deadly Sins, Volumes 4-6 by Nakaba Suzuki. Currently, the fights in The Seven Deadly Sins are probably what appeal to me most about the series, but they can also be a rather frustrating part of the manga. The problem is that when everyone is so incredibly overpowered, and because Suzuki seems to be making up new abilities and powers on the fly, the battles have a tendency to lose their meaning; it never feels like anyone is in danger of actually losing anything of significance. So far, when supposedly important deaths and sacrifices do occur in the series, it tends to be side characters who have barely managed to establish themselves that are falling victim. As a result, the impact isn’t as great as it could or should be. These particular volumes of The Seven Deadly Sins feature a good number of battles, which admittedly can be entertaining. Unfortunately, for the most part the plot falls by the wayside and the protagonists don’t even approach the fighting tournament that they have entered intelligently. However, I was happy that the fourth volume included a side story that explores Ban’s background a bit more since he continues to be my favorite character in The Seven Deadly Sins.

Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II

InfamyAuthor: Richard Reeves
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
ISBN: 9780805094084
Released: April 2015

I was never taught as a part of my school curriculum about the incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans on United States soil during World War II. I found out about it quite by accident while visiting an American history museum. I was astounded and continue to be astounded that so many U.S. citizens never learn about that particular part of the war, which is why I believe books like Richard Reeves’ Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II are so important. Reeves is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author of more than a dozen long-form works on American politics and history. Infamy, published by Henry Holt and Company in 2015, is a book that he had wanted to write for years. I was very happy to have the opportunity to read an advance copy of the work.

In Infamy, Reeves explores the history of Japanese residents of the United States and Japanese American citizens during World War II. While a large focus of the book is on their evacuation from the West Coast and their internment within concentration camps, the work also devotes some time to the efforts made by the U.S. government to relocate and detain people of Japanese descent living in Latin America (which before reading Infamy I had not known about), as well as to the service of Japanese Americans in the military as translators, support personnel, and combatants. The narrative of Infamy is largely chronological, beginning with Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and the signing of Executive Order 9066 soon after in February 1942, which allowed for the establishment of the camps, and ending with V-J Day in August 1945, going on to examine some of the immediate and lasting impacts the internment had on individuals and on the country as a whole.

In writing Infamy, Reeves relies heavily on existing interviews, newspaper articles, and first-hand accounts as well as on official government and court documentation. Infamy is only one among hundreds of works about the Japanese American internment; its extensive notes and bibliography will aid in guiding readers who are interested in learning more to other sources. Stylistically, Infamy is intended for a broad, general audience. It’s approachable, engaging, and easy to read, requiring very little previous knowledge of the subject matter. However, readers looking for an academic or impartial approach will likely be disappointed—Reeves has very strong feelings about the people and events surrounding the internment. While Infamy is factual, Reeve’s personal opinions on the matter are readily clear in his writing; he is outraged and it shows. Initially I had worried the work would be sensationalistic—the subtitle isn’t just “the story of” but “the shocking story of”—but it’s more that Reeves is simply emphatic.

Many factors led to the Japanese American internment during World War II, but the two most prominent to be addressed in Infamy are racism—something that the United States continues to struggle with—and the additional fear and hysteria cause by the war itself. While some German and Italian American citizens and resident aliens were detained, those of Japanese descent were the only ones to be imprisoned or forced to relocate en masse and nearly all of them were innocent of any wrong-doing. In addition to racial tensions, generational conflict was also a significant component that complicated the mass imprisonment. The different generations of Japanese Americans experienced the war and the camps differently, but they were all betrayed by the country in which they lived. Reeves makes a point to address those differences in Infamy in addition to other aspects of the internment. Overall, Infamy is both a readable and informative examination of a part of American history that shouldn’t be forgotten but that is often overlooked.

Thank you to Henry Holt for providing a copy of Infamy for review.

Hide and Seek, Volume 1

Hide and Seek, Volume 1Creator: Yaya Sakuragi
U.S. publisher: Viz Media
ISBN: 9781421555720
Released: July 2013
Original release: 2012

Ever since reading and enjoying Hey, Sensei?, my introduction to boys’ love manga, I have made a point to follow the work of Yaya Sakuragi in English. And so I was particularly pleased when Hide and Seek—one of her most recent series, completed at three volumes in Japan in 2014—was licensed. The first volume of Hide and Seek was published in Japan in 2012 while the English-language edition was released in 2013 by Viz Media’s Sublime Manga. Hide and Seek is a spinoff of another of Sakuragi’s boys’ love series, Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love, which in turn is tangentially related to her earlier four-volume manga Tea for Two. (Tea for Two and Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love share a supporting character while another supporting character in Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love is one of the leads of Hide and Seek.) Although technically all three series are loosely connected, it is not necessary to have read the first two series in order to understand or enjoy Hide and Seek. However, those who have read Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love will better appreciate some of the secondary characters and minor references that are made.

Shuji Tanihara is single, divorced, and currently the parent who is primarily responsible for taking care of Chii, his young daughter. Granted, sometimes it seems as though she is really the one taking care of him. Between Chii, tending the small candy store he owns, and the occasional drink with friends, Shuji doesn’t have much else going on in his life. He’s happy, but also a little bored. But that changes when his shop unexpectedly gains a new customer—Saji, a young, successful doctor whose serious and reserved personality is the complete opposite of Shuji’s relaxed, easy-going attitude. Saji is gay and Shuji, while not usually attracted to other men, has developed an interest in him as well. Though in the past he was a notorious heartbreaker, it’s been a while since Shuji has dated anyone. He intends to enjoy his fling with Saji, but what he didn’t anticipate was actually falling for the guy.

Hide and Seek, Volume 1, page 135Hide and Seek may very well be one of Sakuragi’s strongest manga yet. And, if the first volume is anything to judge by, it’s also one of her works with the most sexual content. What is perhaps most thrilling about that is the sex in Hide and Seek is completely consensual between two mature, adult men. There are absolutely no dubious connotations, means, or coercion involved. (Sadly, all of this seems to be somewhat rare in boys’ love manga.) Both Shuji and Saji know what they want in bed and they actually communicate, going on to enjoy themselves without shame; Shuji is sexually adventurous and Saji, it turns out, is an especially skilled, experienced, and considerate lover. Though they have their differences, the two men enter into their relationship as equals. Most importantly, they respect each other, which is wonderful to see. Their interactions both inside the bedroom and outside of it reveal a lot about them as individuals.

The sex in Hide and Seek is great (Shuji and Saji would be the first to admit this), but the series’ drama and heart is found elsewhere. While there is still plenty of humor and lightheartedness to be seen in the first volume, Hide and Seek is one of Sakuragi’s more serious manga, especially when compared to its immediate predecessor Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love. Shuji in particular comes across as a slightly more responsible adult than he did in that earlier series, although he is still very carefree and gets a kick out of provoking people to get a reaction out of them. His personality both conflicts with and complements Saji’s. This becomes the basis of much of the series’ humor. It’s also the source of the manga’s drama. Saji, despite his kindness and thoughtful nature, can be socially awkward and has been rejected many times before by other flighty partners reluctant to take a relationship too seriously. Shuji and Saji are a mismatch but seem perfect for each other. I’m anxious to see how their relationship continues to develop.

Manga Giveaway: UQ Holder! Giveaway

Despite being the shortest month of the year, for me February always seems to stretch on forever. With that in mind, I thought it oddly appropriate to offer for this month’s giveaway a manga that features immortals. Specifically, this month you will all have the chance to enter for a chance to win the first volume of Ken Akamatsu’s most recent series UQ Holder!, a sequel of sorts to his manga Negima!: Magister Negi Magi, as published in English by Kodansha Comics. (Don’t worry if you’ve never read Negima!, UQ Holder! can be easily read on its own.) As always, the giveaway is open worldwide!

UQ Holder!, Volume 1

At this point it’s probably not much of a secret that I enjoy manga about immortals and the consequences of immortality. Hiroaki Samura’s Blade of the Immortal was one of the very first manga that I read and it continues to be a favorite. (It was even the focus of my first monthly manga review project.) More recently, manga series like Ken Akamatsu’s UQ Holder! and Tsuina Miura and Gamon Sakurai’s Ajin: Demi-Human have caught my attention specifically because immortals are involved. Granted, there are other elements in both of those series that intrigue and appeal to me as well. When it comes to immortals, UQ Holder! is interesting in that it features a variety of characters with different types of immortality; most series I’ve read tend to stick to just one.

So, you may be wondering, how can you win a copy of UQ Holder!, Volume 1?

1) In the comments below, tell me a little about your favorite immortal from a manga. (Never encountered an immortal in your manga reading? Simply mention that instead.)
2) For a second entry, name a manga featuring immortals that hasn’t yet been mentioned by me or by someone else in the comments.
3) If you’re on Twitter, you can earn a bonus entry by tweeting, or retweeting, about the contest. Make sure to include a link to this post and @PhoenixTerran (that’s me).

It’s as easy as that. Each person is able to earn up to three entries for this giveaway and has one week to submit comments. Giveaway entries can also be emailed to be directly at phoenixterran(at)gmail(dot)com. (I will then post your comments here in your name.) The giveaway winner will be randomly selected and announced on March 4, 2015.

VERY IMPORTANT: Include some way that I can contact you. This can be an e-mail address in the comment form, a link to your website, Twitter username, or whatever. If I can’t figure out how to get a hold of you and you win, I’ll just draw another name.

Contest winner announced–Manga Giveaway: UQ Holder! Giveaway Winner