My Week in Manga: June 10-June 16, 2013

My News and Reviews

Another week at Experiments in Manga, another couple of reviews. Kaori Ekuni’s award-winning novel Twinkle Twinkle was recently brought to my attention and so I decided to read it. (Vertical is celebrating it’s tenth year of publishing, and Twinkle Twinkle was the first book it ever published.) I absolutely loved Twinkle Twinkle. It’s a peculiar love story between a woman and her gay husband who mostly married to get their parents off of their cases. It’s one of the best things I’ve read recently. As part of my Blade of the Immortal review project, I took a look at Hiroaki Samura’s Blade of the Immortal, Volume 22: Footsteps. The volume marks the beginning of the final major story arc in the series. Blade of the Immortal has ended in Japan but there are still a handful of volumes that remain to be released in English.

And speaking of manga series ending, after ten and a half years Takako Shimura’s Wandering Son will be reaching its conclusion in Japan at the end of July. The fourth volume of the English-language edition of manga was recently released by Fantagraphics. I hope the entire series will be able to be translated as Wandering Son is a particularly important manga to me. Elsewhere online, there were a couple of podcasts of particular interest: Ed Sizemore returned with a one-time special episode of Manga Out Loud, which went on hiatus last year, and the Comic Books Are Burning In Hell podcast devoted an episode to Taiyo Matsumoto and his work. Also, Manga Xanadu’s podcast is now up to ten episodes! Oh, and one more thing—this week is the Skip Beat! Manga Moveable Feast!

Quick Takes

Cage of Eden, Volume 10 by Yoshinobu Yamada. I enjoy a good survival story, which is why I was looking forward to Cage of Eden when it was first released. Unfortunately, I found very little to like about the first volume and haven’t read any more of the series until now. The tenth volume is better than the first, but I’m still not convinced that Cage of Eden is worth my time even though I want it to be. By this point in the series the dialogue seems to have improved and there weren’t as many glaringly convenient coincidences and plot holes. The fanservice is still a bigger part of the manga than it really needs to be, though. Personally, I’m more interested in the action and mystery than I am in middle schoolers’ panties.

Godzilla: The Half-Century War by James Stokoe. Although I followed Stokoe’s Godzilla comic as it was being released in single issues, I still made a point to pick up the trade collection, too. I don’t have a particular interest in Godzilla, but I love Stokoe’s detailed and spectacularly colored artwork, which is what initially drew me to the comic. The Half-Century War is told from the perspective of Ota Murakami who in 1954 faces Godzilla as a member of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and becomes obsessed with the creature. The following chapters take place in different decades and locations: 1967 Vietnam, 1975 Ghana, 1987 Bombay, and 2002 Antarctica. The comic is pretty great with a quick pace and a good sense of humor. And Godzilla isn’t the only kaiju to make an appearance, either.

Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry Blossoms Pink by Milk Morinaga. After reading Morinaga’s yuri series Girl Friends, I knew I needed to read her earlier work Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry Blossoms Pink. Although overall the manga isn’t quite as sophisticated in its story as Girl Friends, it is just as sweet, charming, and romantic. In fact, I think I probably enjoyed Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry Blossoms Pink even more than I did Girl Friends. The omnibus collects two volumes and nearly a decade’s worth of stories about the young women who attend the all-girls high school Sakurakai. There’s love and romance, friendship and affection with just a touch of the bittersweet. It’s a wonderful yuri collection.

The Two Faces of Tomorrow by Yukinobu Hoshino. I loved Hoshino’s 2001 Nights, so I’ve made a point to track down more of his work available in English. The Two Faces of Tomorrow manga is actually an adaptation of British science fiction author James P. Hogan’s 1979 novel of the same name. Scientists have developed a highly advanced artificial intelligence system that could be an incredible boon to human society, but there are fears that system could gain sentience and then turn against its creators. And so what is supposed to be a carefully controlled experiment is staged on a space station. The Spartacus AI is deployed and then deliberately provoked in order to determine how it will react and evolve. For fans of classic science fiction, The Two Faces of Tomorrow is well worth checking out.

Un-Go directed by Seiji Mizushima. I really wanted to like Un-Go, but after only a few episodes I found myself incredibly bored by it. It poses as a mystery series, but fails to actually engage the viewers in any of the investigations. I did find it interesting that the anime is loosely based on the novels and stories of Ango Sakaguchi. I was also fascinated by Inga. Actually, one of the reasons I finished the series was that I hoped to learn more about Inga and Shinjūrō’s relationship and their history. Unfortunately, none of this is ever explored in any sort of detail. In the end, I was more curious about the characters backstories than I was in whatever they were currently doing. Un-Go didn’t really work for me.

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  1. Too bad you didn’t like Un-Go. While it’s reach exceeds it’s grasp in that it tried to take a lot of source material and cram it into a relatively short series, I think it’s ultimately a really terrific meditation on the merits of “beautiful lies” versus the bitter truth — all the more resonant in these days of NSA spying revelations. Anyway, there’s an OVA Episode 0 that came out after the end of the series which rather fully explains the back stories of Inga and Shinjuuro. Not sure if you should bother if you so disliked the main show, but I highly recommend it!

    • I’m actually a little surprised that I didn’t enjoy Un-Go more than I did since there were so many individual elements in the show that I actually liked—the mix of supernatural and science fictional elements, the near-future setting, the characters, and so on.

      As you mention, the tension between beautiful lies and bitter truths is one of the things that Un-Go does really well. I think I would have liked the series better if it had focused on that a bit more. To me, the exploration often seemed to be an afterthought, but Un-Go worked best for me when it was brought to the foreground instead of being relegated to the background.

      Thank you for the information about the OVA! I actually would be interested in seeing it. Un-Go was by no means an awful series. I’m glad I watched it, but it’s probably not something that I’ll need to watch again. I’m still very curious about Inga, though.

      Thank you for your comments and stopping by!

  2. I really Liked kisses, sighs, and Cherry Blossom pink. I had bought the book about two weeks ago and I really enjoyed it because I really like milk’s other work, girlfriends which I had also bought And read XD

    • I really hope that more of Milk Morinaga’s works are licensed in English! Both Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry Blossoms Pink and Girl Friends were great. ^_^

  3. I have to agree with you in that Inga is a really fascinating character. Un-Go does have a OVA-0 which explains a lot including Inga and Shinjuurou. Really recommend.

    when I watched this really thought since its a somewhat serious and occasionally long in the mystery cases so for some it wouldn’t be their cup of tea. Its really a quiet paced series so not a lot of action which some viewers may not like.

    Although agree with Dan. Really like the overall message that there is all types of truths for everyone and not just one truth. People have their reasons. Its definitely a very philosophical anime series.

    • Sounds like I really should track down the Un-Go OVA! The slower pacing of the series didn’t really bother me. I think it was that the mysteries simply weren’t as mysterious as I wanted them to be. I did really appreciate the show’s exploration of truth, though.

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