My Week in Manga: January 31-February 6, 2011

My News and Reviews

Like most weeks that occur at the ending of one month and the beginning of another, last week was pretty slow at Experiments in Manga. No new reviews, but there will be plenty coming up in the next couple of weeks, I promise. I did post January’s Bookshelf Overload and announced the Gantz Giveaway Winner (which also includes some interesting lists regarding manga and live-action adaptations).

The February 2011 Manga Moveable Feast, hosted by Sam Kusek at A Life in Panels, will begin on February 13 and features Keiji Nakazawa’s powerful manga series Barefoot Gen. I’ll be participating, reviewing Nakazawa’s autobiography as well as the first volume of Barefoot Gen. Otherwise, there’s not much news, either.

Quick Takes

Cute Beast by Amayo Tsuge. Cute Beast collects five of Tsuge’s boys’ love short stories, plus some extras. None of the stories are particularly outstanding, but they’re all pretty cute and most have some great moments of humor, except for the last story which features a skeazy English teacher. Fortunately, all of the uke exhibit a fair amount of backbone, confidence, and personality. My favorite story in the collection is probably the title story, particularly the bonus material that features its characters—I liked the goofy “tough-guy” who turns out to be an absolute sweetheart. The artwork is nice and clean but not particularly noteworthy except for some enormous eyes.

Fujoshi Rumi, Volume 1 by Natsumi Konjoh. I loved the first volume of Fujoshi Rumi so much that after finishing it I immediately put in an order for all of the other volumes currently available in English. There’s plenty of otaku humor and references, some that I didn’t always get on my own (granted, some of the characters didn’t always get it either), but the copious editor’s notes helped to keep everything straight. I thought it was hilarious. While Fujoshi Rumi pokes fun at otaku, it pokes fun at “normals,” too and Konjoh is never malicious. It’s a wonderful romantic comedy and I’m really looking forward to reading more of the series.

Gin Tama, Volumes 1-5 by Hideaki Sorachi. This is another new series for me with which I have fallen in love. I’m definitely going to be following it. Gin Tama is ridiculous, often absurd, and completely anachronistic—although I guess that is explained by the fact that aliens have invaded sometime during the Edo period. Obviously, technology will be more advanced. I mean, come on. The series is fairly episodic but there are plenty of recurring characters and running jokes that hold things together. I know there were references to other shōnen series that I probably missed, but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment one bit. The humor is very self-aware and strange, and I loved it.

Scandalous Seiryo University, Volume 1 by Kazuto Tatsukawa. I am not fond of rape being used as a comedic element. For the most part it is implied more than shown, but still; it’s an unfortunate choice, especially as it doesn’t really do anything to further the story. Scandalous Seiryo University collects three stories, one of which features a reversible couple which I am always a huge fan of. Occasionally, particularly in the final story, Tatsukawa’s artwork reminds me of Kazuya Minekura’s. I did like the couples and found most of the characters at least interesting, so I might try at least one more volume of the series. We shall see.

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  1. Ah, I love Fujoshi Rumi. Too many otaku books create a little world where everyone’s an otaku and focus the humour on the winks and nudges. Rumi’s natural setting makes it that much funnier and well-rounded and the reader isn’t expected to get all the references.

  2. You make a good point that many otaku series seem base their humor almost solely on the winks and nudges. I also think you’re right on calling Fujoshi Rumi well-rounded. I know that I certainly didn’t get all of the references made, but I was still able to enjoy the manga, which I think is a good sign. :D

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