My Week in Manga: May 28-June 3, 2012

My News and Reviews

The most recent manga giveaway is underway here at Experiments in Manga. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, so there’s still some time to enter. Plus, there aren’t many entries yet, so the odds are really good! Stop by the Read or Die Giveaway and tell me about your favorite bibliophile for a chance to win. I know that at least a couple of people enjoy my Bookshelf Overload posts, which is one of the reasons I keep writing them. If you’re one of those people, May’s Bookshelf Overload is now available for viewing. Over the weekend I posted my review of Matthew Meyer’s book The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons: A Field Guide to Japanese Yokai. It’s a fantastic volume with great artwork that any yokai lover should enjoy. Be sure to check out his website for examples of his art, too. I haven’t been this excited about a book in a very long time; I absolutely loved it.

Quick Takes

Basilisk, Volumes 1-5 by Masaki Segawa. This manga series is an adaptation of Fūtaro Yamada’s semi-historical novel The Kouga Ninja Scrolls. I had previously read and enjoyed the novel, which is probably one of the reasons I didn’t appreciate the manga as much in the beginning—I missed having a lot of the background information the novel included. However, by the end of the series I was completely engaged. I’ve often heard the basic premise of the story described as “Romeo & Juliet…with ninja,” which is accurate up to a point. The large cast of ninja, each with their own special abilities, provide plenty of opportunities for intense battles and underhanded assassination attempts.

Brody’s Ghost, Books 2-3 by Mark Crilley. I believe Brody’s Ghost is planned to be a six volume series, so this brings us to the halfway point. Volumes two and three follow Brody as he gets his life back together while he undergoes training to gain control over his emerging supernatural powers. He’s also given some real motivation to pursue the Penny Murderer, something that was previously lacking. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen of the series so far, but I have no idea when the next book is due to come out! I’ll definitely be picking it up once it does, though. One thing I really like about Brody’s Ghost is the extra material that Crilley includes at the end of each volume which explores his creative processes and decisions.

Gerard & Jacques, Volumes 1-2 by Fumi Yoshinaga. After a very uncomfortable beginning, Gerard & Jacques eventually turns into an great historical drama. Despite the title being Gerard & Jacques, the focus is really on Gerard. He is certainly the most thoroughly developed character in this short series, but Yoshinaga doesn’t slack off when it comes to writing the other characters, either. Even the secondary characters have their defining moments. The story itself ranges from the heavy and dark to the light and comedic which can be jarring, but enjoyable. I’m not particularly interested in the French Revolution but it serves as a good backdrop for the series and ultimately becomes very important to the plot as well.

Twin Spica, Volumes 9-10 by Kou Yaginuma. For such a gentle seeming series Twin Spica can also be incredibly heart-wrenching. The manga has always had a melancholic air to it as the characters struggle to accept their pasts while striving to achieve their dreams. Even years after the Lion disaster people are still having to deal with the consequences of the shuttle’s crash. As graduation draws closer for Asumi and her friends at the space school they’ve all come to realize how important they are to one another. They also know that soon the time will come when they have to say goodbye. I’m really looking forward to reading the final two volumes in Vertical’s release of the series.

Welcome to the N.H.K. directed by Yūsuke Yamamoto. I loved Tatsuhiko Takimoto’s original Welcome to the N.H.K. novel and I must say, the anime adaptation is excellent. Although the humor is still there, I didn’t find the anime to be as outrageously funny as the novel. But even with the anime’s more serious tone there are moments of hilarity which are needed to keep the series from becoming too depressing. The anime stays true to the novel while expanding parts of the storyline and characterizations. The plot arc dealing with the pyramid scheme was a little tedious, but for the most part the changes made for the anime worked very well. The characters may sometimes be extreme, but they’re very human, too.

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  1. I’m one of the people that likes your Bookshelf Overload posts. :) I like seeing what hidden gems you dig up every month.

    I’m curious to see what you’ll think of the end of Twin Spica. The series really pulled at my heartstrings, watching kids follow their dreams. It made me emotional enough that I think it would be a tough reread for me.

    I completely agree with the pyramid scheme arc. It was a kind of “what?” moment in the series. Just when you think the main character is making progress, he hits rock bottom with that. I feel like the series gets really dramatic; I like that kind of stuff, but I could see how it would put someone off mid-series who might have been expecting just a straight comedy about a seemingly loser guy. At first he’s a funny self-insert character, but once you see what a hole he’s in…that’s the strength of the series, I think. “Here’s this funny otaku nerd guy who has a real issue!”

    Yesh, I’m rambling!

    • Oh, good! You are one of the Bookshelf Overload elite. Thanks for letting me know. I’ll try to stop feeling so guilty about the posts, then. :)

      I haven’t picked up the last two volumes of Twin Spica yet, but as soon as I do you can look forward to a final quick take. Already for me it’s been an emotional read, and strangely nostalgic, too.

      I completely agree with your comments about about the Welcome to the N.H.K. anime. What really frustrated me about the pyramid scheme was that Satou doesn’t fall for it at first but then turns around and goes along with it. Plus, the arc seemed like it gave away parts of the ending which made the series feel like it was repeating itself rather than foreshadowing. Still, I really like the anime and the arc had some great moments.

      Feel free to come by and ramble any time! ^_^

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