My News and Reviews
Last week was rather busy here at Experiments in Manga. In addition to usual My Week in Manga feature, there were four other posts. (Normally, there are only two or three.) First off, you still have a couple more days to enter April’s manga giveaway. Tell me about your favorite English license rescue for a chance to win the first omnibus as well as the ninth volume of Yun Kouga’s Loveless.
About a month ago, I reviewed The Infernal Devices, Volume 1: Clockwork Angel, HyeKyung Baek’s graphic novel adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s novel by the same name. I hadn’t read the original novel, and so was thrilled when my good friend Traci (who has) agreed to share her thoughts on the adaptation. She made a video, a first for Experiments in Manga!
Last week was also the Kaori Yuki Manga Moveable Feast. For my contribution, I reviewed Grand Guignol Orchestra, Volume 1: Overture. I’ll admit, I think I like the series better in concept than in execution. And last but certainly not least, I posted some random musings on Tokyo Demons, one of my most recent obsessions. Not too long ago I reviewed the first novel in the series, but ended up with more that I wanted to say. And even now, I’m not sure that I said everything that I wanted to.
On to some interesting things found online! I recently reviewed and loved Toh EnJoe’s Self-Reference Engine. I thought Terry Gallagher’s work as the translator for the book was particularly remarkable. Haikasoru posted a Q/A with a translator: Terry Gallagher which I found very interesting. And speaking of Japanese literature in translation, translator Allison Markin Powell (who worked on Osamu Dazai’s Schoolgirl among other things) has created a searchable database of Japanese Literature in English. Entries are still being added but it’s already a fantastic resource.
Elsewhere online, The Comics Reporter interviewed Christopher Butcher, “the driving force behind the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.” Two of the featured guests this year will be mangaka Taiyo Matsumoto and Gengoroh Tagame. I mentioned last week that the 2013 Eisner Award nominees had been announced. Over at No Flying No Tights, the contributors shared their reactions to the list both good and bad, including their disappointment over the lack of manga in some of the categories. Finally, the Dark Horse manga zone takes a look at the release, and re-release, of Lone Wolf & Cub as part of the Dark Horse Manga Timeline.
20th Century Boys, Volumes 20-22 by Naoki Urasawa. Don’t be fooled: these last three volumes in 20th Century Boys are not the end of the story, there are still two more volumes of 21st Century Boys to go. While it has been a long and convoluted journey, things are starting to fall together. The major players in the series have all returned and the final showdown has begun. And I’m thoroughly enjoying it now that it is here. Music has always been a part of the series and an important touchstone, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so crucial to the plot in the end. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised though since there were plenty of clues in the manga. As a musician, it makes me immensely happy.
Blue Exorcist, Volumes 5-8 by Kazue Kato. While I’m still enjoying Blue Exorcist to some extent, I did prefer the earlier volumes a bit more. Blue Exorcist works best for me when Kato finds a balance between the humor and the darker story elements. In these volumes, the balance was a little off and the more serious side of Blue Exorcist overwhelmed its goofier aspects. Personally, I like the series best when it’s being just a little sillier. To be honest, I was actually a little bored with this story arc. In part, I think it’s because the focus of the story shifts away from Rin. However, even if the pacing was slow, it was nice to see some of the other characters’ back stories filled in. Fortunately, the humor returns the action starts to ramp up again in the eighth volume.
Dorohedoro, Volumes 8-9 by Q Hayashida. I am still loving Dorohedoro. It’s just so delightfully weird and off-beat. Somehow the series manages to be incredibly gruesome and utterly charming all at the same time. In the past, Dorohedoro‘s story has been all over the place and hasn’t always been particularly cohesive, but at this point in the series the plot has developed some forward and almost linear momentum. It’s still wonderfully strange, though. The eighth and ninth volumes begin to delve further into the characters’ pasts and their connections to one another. The tone is rather ominous at the end of the ninth volume, so I’m anxious to see what developments Hayashida has in store next.
A Fallen Saint’s Kiss by You Higashino. A Fallen Saint’s Kiss is certainly one of the kinkiest yaoi I’ve come across in print in English. And because it is part of Digital Manga’s 801 imprint, it is also very explicit. A Fallen Saint’s Kiss is a one-shot featuring three interrelated couples in sadomasochistic relationships (which, as a heads up, includes student-teacher relations.) There’s bondage and humiliation and all sorts of sex toys (something I haven’t seen much of before.) Two chapters are devoted to each couple’s relationship. What works particularly well about the first two stories is that each chapter is told from a different partner’s perspective, allowing both sides of the relationship to be seen. Unfortunately, the third story breaks this pattern.
To directed by Fumihiko Sori. To is a collection of two short films (Elliptical Orbit and Symbiotic Planet) which are based on two standalone chapters of Yukinobu Hoshino’s science fiction manga 2001 Nights. I adore 2001 Nights. The films are very faithful adaptations of original stories and not many changes were made. Of the two films, I preferred Symbiotic Planet–overall, its pacing was better; Elliptical Orbit suffered from too many long, awkward, dramatic pauses. To is completely animated using CGI with mixed results. The ships and environments are absolutely gorgeous. Sadly, this makes the more stylized and less detailed humans feel flat and incomplete in comparison.