My Week in Manga: December 1-December 7, 2014

My News and Reviews

There were a few different things posted at Experiments in Manga last week. First up was the announcement of the Seven Seas Sampler manga giveaway winner. The post also includes a list of some favorite titles published or soon to be published by Seven Seas. The honor of the first in-depth manga review for December goes to Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, Volume 7 by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko. Even if you’re not particularly interested in Gundam (I’ll readily admit to not being a devotee of the franchise, myself), I’d still highly recommend the series to readers looking for some great science fiction manga. The Origin is consistently great, and Vertical’s edition remains one of the best-looking manga releases in English. Also, over the weekend, I posted November’s Bookshelf Overload for those of you interested in what made it onto my shelves last month. (Granted, it doesn’t all actually fit on my shelves at the moment, thus the “overload.” There are a few strategically placed piles and boxes in my room, too…)

Elsewhere online, Digital Manga has a survey soliciting Tezuka Kickstarter Feedback. According to a recent e-mail newsletter, Digital Manga is expecting to launch a Kickstarter project sometime in 2015 to reprint Unico, Swallowing the Earth, and Barbara, all of which have previously been Kickstarted. Philip of Eeeper’s Choice expresses some of the concerns over these recent developments. Also interesting, a Publishers Weekly article about Digital Manga’s recent Kickstarter efforts notes that Digital Manga is apparently not planning on actually distributing the Tezuka manga outside of direct sales and the library market. This means that individuals who want the manga will either have to back a successful Kickstarter project, or purchase them directly from the publisher. I’ve been extremely busy at work lately (my immediate supervisor retired on Friday, which more or less leaves me in charge of my unit for the time being), so I wasn’t able to follow much more than the Digital Manga drama, but I did see that Viz made a new license announcement: Junji Ito’s Fragments of Horror! And speaking of licenses, Reverse Thieves has compiled a list of all of the manga, light novels, and anime licenses that were announced in 2014.

Quick Takes

Angel Sanctuary, Volume 11Angel Sanctuary, Volumes 11-15 by Kaori Yuki. It took more than half of the series, but Angel Sanctuary has finally grabbed a hold of me. I’ve enjoyed Yuki’s artwork since the beginning, I’ve always liked the series’ exploration of overarching themes of love, destiny, and personal responsibility, and I can certainly appreciate the tremendous amount of research Yuki has put into creating her mythology, but the story itself has been somewhat of an unfocused mess up until this point. Now things are starting to pull together in a very satisfying way though. I’m actually looking forward to reading the conclusion of Angel Sanctuary instead of just feeling obligated to finish the manga. It’s getting really good and the drama is epic. Yuki still has the tendency to be a little haphazard in her narrative structure, but the series has become much easier to follow. It probably helps that her editors wouldn’t allow her to introduce any more new characters. The cast of Angel Sanctuary is huge, and so it’s understandably challenging to present all of their backstories while maintaining the series’ forward momentum. Fortunately, as it approaches its turbulent end, Angel Sanctuary seems to have found its center and drive.

Manga Dogs, Volume 1Manga Dogs, Volume 1 by Ema Toyama. Up until now, the only other manga that I’ve read by Toyama is her ongoing series Missions of Love, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Manga Dogs. Turns out it’s a very different series, probably best described as gag manga about making manga and the manga industry. While for me it was never laugh-out-loud hilarious, I was generally amused and consistently entertained by the first volume of Manga Dogs. It’s silly fun. Even though she’s only fifteen, Kanna Tezuka recently made her manga debut. Granted, her series isn’t doing so well and is in danger of cancellation. Her high school has a new major specializing in manga, though it’s incredibly poorly run, which is where three pretty boys attach themselves to her. Fumio Akatsuka, Fujio Fuji, and Shota Ishinomori are more interested in the fame and fortune they associate with successful mangaka rather than the sweat and stress it takes to get there, though. As can be seen with the characters’ names, Manga Dogs has plenty of nods and references to established mangaka, but most of the humor comes from the three young men’s misguided efforts to become famous artists without actually putting in any effort.

Prophecy, Volume 1Prophecy, Volume 1 by Tetsuya Tsutsui. Before reading the first volume of Prophecy I actually didn’t know much about the manga except that Vertical was approached to publish it directly by the author. Prophecy is a mature, chilling, and realistic series dealing with cyber crime, social media, how quickly people can turn on one another, and the terrible things that can be done under the guise of anonymity. A small group of vigilantes are taking matters into their own hands, viciously striking out against those who have trespassed against others online. While their methods are extreme, their motivation is easy to understand and even empathize with; the world can be a cruel, cruel place. It’s an entirely different sort of case than the members Anti Cyber Crimes Division of the Metropolitan Police are usually involved in. Specializing in internet crime, they more commonly deal with copyright and intellectual property infringement. But in this particular war of information, people’s lives are at stake, not just their livelihoods. The first volume of Prophecy was exceptional. In my opinion, it’s one of the strongest series to debut this year. I’ll definitely be picking up the rest of the manga.

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