My News and Reviews
Well, I’m back from the beach, but I still have a couple of days to recuperate and do laundry before I head back to work. While I was vacationing last week, I posted two reviews. The first, as promised, was for Takako Shimura’s Wandering Son, Volume 1. This was actually a difficult manga for me to review since the subject matter hits so close to home for me. My review does it no justice, but the volume is a wonderful start to what I expect (and hope) to be a wonderful series. The second review was for Otsuichi’s award-winning light novel Goth. I had previously read the manga adaptation and liked it so well that I wanted to track down the source material. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a very dark and disconcerting work, but very good. Finally, the Fruits Basket Manga Moveable Feast starts this week, so keep an eye out for some good stuff! (Unfortunately, I won’t be participating this time around.)
Azumanga Daioh by Kiyohiko Azuma. I know a lot of people who adore Azumanga Daioh. While I enjoyed Yen Press’ omnibus edition, I wasn’t quite as taken with the series as most other people seem to be. If I had to choose, I prefer Azuma’s Yotsuba&! Still, I did find Azumanga Daioh to be amusing and some of the four panel strips even managed to make me laugh out loud. The series has a goofy sense of humor that depends a lot on the personalities of the characters. If you don’t like the girls, you won’t like the manga. Azumanga Daioh can get a bit repetitive, and maybe I shouldn’t have ploughed through the omnibus as quickly as I did, but I was fairly consistently entertained.
Clover by CLAMP. Although Clover is technically an unfinished series, Dark Horse’s omnibus collects the completed material in one gorgeous volume. In my opinion, the artwork is some of CLAMP’s best and the experimental nature of the manga is beautifully done. However, I did find the constant reuse of song lyrics to be tedious in the long run, to the point I wasn’t even really reading them anymore. The manga is wonderfully dark in tone and takes place in a dystopian future. We’ll probably never see the final two volumes released, which is unfortunate because I’d really like to read more of the manga. But despite some of its flaws and even given its incompleteness, Clover may actually be my favorite work by CLAMP that I’ve read so far.
Four Shōjo Stories by Keiko Nishi, Moto Hagio, and Shio Sato. Four Shōjo Stories shouldn’t exist. Viz put together and published the anthology without first securing the rights to do so and soon after were required to pull the books off the shelf. If you do come across a copy though, it’s worth picking up. The book collects four stories: “Promise” and “Since You’ve Been Gone” by Nishi, “They Were Eleven” by Hagio (the initial reason I tracked down the anthology), and “The Changeling” by Sato (perhaps my favorite). All four stories were translated by Matt Thorn, who also provides a nice introduction to the volume as a whole. The collection is an interesting mix of stories, but they are all very strong and I enjoyed each one.
Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms by Fumiyo Kouno. Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms is a critically acclaimed, award winning manga that well deserves its accolades. The manga is about a family that must deal with the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima for generations. It is a gentle story even if it is heartbreaking as the survivors and their descendants try to continue on with their lives. The manga is told as two interconnected stories, “Town of Evening Calm,” which is set in 1955, and “Country of Cherry Blossoms,” which takes place in 1987 and 2004. Kouno’s line work is simply lovely. Although some of the events portrayed are understandably terrible, the artwork is never really graphic but still remains very effective emotionally.