My Week in Manga: April 11-April 17, 2011

My News and Reviews

Probably just about everyone already knows about this but if not I’m sorry to break the news: Tokyopop is shutting down its North American publishing division. Tokyopop wasn’t my favorite manga publisher, but this still saddens me deeply. I’m especially frustrated because it seems like as soon as I got really interested and passionate about something (in this case, manga) the entire industry tanks. Tokyopop is not the first manga publisher to go under but it is one of the biggest. I believe the news was first broke by The Beat on Friday—End of an era: Tokyopop shutting down US publishing division. Kate Dacey of The Manga Critic also has a great write up and index of related posts from around the web—A Few Thoughts About TOKYOPOP.

As for me, this past week I posted two reviews. The first was for Osamu Dazai’s very potent novel No Longer Human. Vertical will be releasing Usamaru Furuya’s manga adaptation of the novel later this year which I’m looking forward to reading. I also reviewed Death Note, Volume 9: Contact, making it my first in-depth manga review for April. There are only three more volumes in the series to go, and I’m interested in seeing how things turn out. Also, a reminder that the Rumiko Takahashi Manga Moveable Feast begins next week. I’ll be reading nothing but Rumiko Takahashi manga, watching InuYasha streaming on Netflix, giving away the first two volumes of Ranma 1/2, and reviewing in-depth the first volume of Mermaid Saga. It should be a good time.

Quick Takes

Princess Princess, Volume 1 by Mikiyo Tsuda. Princess Princess isn’t really a boys’ love manga, although it certainly has the potential and setup. The first volume was actually a bit better than I expected it to be, but I didn’t find it to be particularly outstanding. In an elite all-boys school, a few attractive first year students are selected to act as “Princesses,” becoming idols of the school and acting as a sort of cross-dressing cheerleader. Kouno is basically in it for the fringe benefits, Yutaka was forced into it, and Shihoudani seems to have come to actually enjoy it. Apparently, characters from Tsuda’s other works cross-over with Princess Princess but I haven’t actually read any of those involved.

X-Day, Volumes 1-2 by Setona Mizushiro. Polaris, 11, Mr. Money, and Jangalian first came together in a chatroom. Frustrated and fed up with life at their school, they decide to make it disappear, fantasizing and planning how to blow it up. I never got a really good handle on exactly who all of these characters were. I think that is somewhat the point, though. There are a few intense glimpses into their personal lives, but mostly the four of them are private people. Others, even those in their select group (at least to begin with), don’t realize or understand the depth of their personal struggles. But the four of them become a much needed support group for one other. Also included is an unrelated sidestory “The Last Supper.”

Yokai Doctor, Volumes 1-3 by Yuki Sato. I have recently developed a particular fondness for yokai, so I was looking forward to reading Yokai Doctor. I liked the premise—a boy raised by yokai reenters the human world while continuing to act and care for the yokai as their doctor with the granddaughter of an exorcist as his assistant. But, it’s just…boring and disappointing. The yokai, while cute, are generic. The constant boob jokes are tedious rather than amusing. Things start to get a bit more interesting plotwise and artwise in the third volume, but probably not enough for me to pursue the rest of the series if it’s released in English.

Your & My Secret, Volumes 1-3 by Ai Morinaga. I have mixed feelings about Your & My Secret. It seems as though Morinaga can’t quite decide whether to go for the comedy, the melodrama, or to address the gender issues involved more seriously. The excuse for Akira and Momoi’s personality/body/gender swap is a bit silly, but at least watching how everyone deals with it is interesting even if it is often extremely unfortunate. I feel bad for Akira since no one seems willing to recognize or care about how horribly he’s feeling about the whole situation. Also, why is it that every school festival must have a performance of Romeo and Juliet?

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  1. Anonymous says

    Wow, there must be a lot of boob jokes in Yokai Doctor, you have a fairly thick skin for that. This is one of the books I’ve been meaning to pick up for a long time, but it never realy grabbed me, for whatever reason. Nice to know I’m not missing much.

    Don’t worry, the manga industry is still chugging along despite some setbacks. It isn’t going away. A lot Tokyopop of faithfuls may be turned off manga altogether, but IMO, Tokyopop did more harm to the industry than good. Just yesterday I read someone defending scans because ‘publishers constantly drop series,’ but that was more TP’s problem than anyone else. The other publishers have less of a cancel rate than other medias like TV. Not to start any arguments about scans, that’s just an example of one area where TP was giving a false impression of the whole industry.

  2. I really loved X-Day. It was kind of a sleeper series, but one of my personal favorites that has gotten quite a few rereads. Your and My Secret I read the first volume, but just haven’t had a chance to continue reading it.

  3. Aw, Inuyasha! I am such a sucker for that anime. If only my library collected anime/manga, I could watch it at work!

  4. Oh, wow! Thank you to everyone who has visited recently, and especially to those who commented. I generally don’t get many comments, so this makes me happy. ^_^

    Anonymous—I really don’t mind boob jokes, except in this case they were used to try to make a character more interesting than he actually was. I was vaguely amused at first, but it just turned out to be lazy characterization. I was really hoping for better with Yokai Doctor.

    And you’re right, the manga industry isn’t completely gone. Although I did like quite a few of Tokyopop’s series (many of which were unfortunately dropped part-way through), I haven’t really been following many of Tokyopop’s newer titles. They did some great things for the industry, but as you mentioned, they did some significant harm, too.

    beckafly—It took me a little while to get into X-Day, but by the end I liked it quite a bit. As for Your & My Secret, I’ve decided to read the rest of the series despite some of my misgivings. We shall see how it goes.

    Jason—I’ve never actually watched InuYasha until now, but I’m really enjoying it so far!

    Thanks again everyone for stopping by and commenting!

  5. Anonymous says

    I’ve been a fan of your blog for a while, commented a few times, but Kate actually linked to this post yesterdayish:

  6. Well, I certainly appreciate your readership! :D

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