Library Love, Part 14

Support manga, support your library!

Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Emma, Volumes 7-10 by Kaoru Mori. I didn’t realize that the main story of Emma concludes in the seventh volume of the series and so was taken a little by surprise when the ending seemed to come along so suddenly. I like that Mori didn’t go for a trite “happily ever after”; the ending is much more complicated than that and realistically addresses the challenges that Emma and William will face due to their class differences. The final three volumes are actually a collection of short side stories, mostly featuring established characters although some simply feature the established locale and time period. Emma is a wonderful series; I really hope to see its license rescued. Thankfully, my library had a complete set.

Nana, Volume 5-8 by Ai Yazawa. I continue to be greatly impressed by Nana and Yazawa’s work in general. Her characters are marvelously complex and multi-faceted. In Nana, the assholes aren’t complete assholes and the angels aren’t complete angels, either. Yazawa eschews stereotypes and the results are naturally unpredictable. The readers and the characters might expect one thing only to be proven wrong. Because the characters are so complex their relationships are just as complicated if not more so. Selfishness and possessiveness create believable and often heartbreaking situations that the characters have to deal with either together or on their own. Life and relationships are messy and Yazawa doesn’t allow her characters to take the easy way out.

Ode to Kirihito by Osamu Tezuka. Ode to Kirihito is probably one of the stranger Tezuka manga that I have read. It’s a mix of medical drama and some sort of horror, with a bit of a revenge tale thrown in for good measure. Kirihito Osanai is a young doctor investigating Monmow, an incurable disease that causes a person’s body to take on dog-like characteristics. His theory is that it is an endemic condition while his superior is adamant that the disease is both viral and contagious. Osanai’s life is changed forever when he himself contracts Monmow. Ode to Kirihito is an engaging read with some real-life parallels to how people with various medical problems are treated and even shunned by others.

Stargazing Dog by Takashi Murakami. I did enjoy Stargazing Dog but I don’t seem to be quite as taken with it as so many other people are, although I can certainly understand its appeal. What impresses me the most about the manga is how Murakami captures the importance and significance that human-canine relationships can have. Stargazing Dog is about people and the dogs who love them. The manga collects two loosely related stories together, both of which are rather bittersweet. Because Stargazing Dog stands so well on its own and feels satisfyingly complete I was surprised to discover that there is actually a second volume. NBM only released the first volume of the series in print, but both volumes are available digitally from JManga under the title Star Protector Dog.


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