My Week in Manga: February 1-February 7, 2016

My News and Reviews

I posted a few different things at Experiments in Manga last week. For starters, the Love at Fourteen Giveaway Winner was announced. The post also includes a list of some of the manga available in English which feature a bit of romance. Last week I also reviewed Tokyo Decadence: 15 Stories by Ryu Murakami which in some ways is about love, or at least lust. Due to be published later this year, the collection is engaging but definitely not for everyone as some of the stories are quite disturbing. Over the weekend January’s Bookshelf Overload was posted for those of you curious about what made it onto my shelves last month. I also had a taiko gig over the weekend that took up a fair amount of time. As a result of that and other some other life stress, I’ve fallen a bit behind on my writing (just when I thought I’d finally gotten ahead!), so there’ll likely only be one review coming this week instead of the two that were originally planned.

Quick Takes

Orange, Omnibus 1Orange, Omnibus 1 by Ichigo Takano. I had heard very good things about Orange and so was greatly looking forward to reading the manga, but I honestly didn’t anticipate that the series might become one of my favorite releases of the year. (It all depends on exactly how the story plays out in the second and final omnibus.) Orange sensitively deals with some fairly heavy subject matter, including suicide and crippling regret, but at the same time the manga also has a lighter sweetness to it. The manga is both heartwrenching and heartwarming, a melancholic story about close relationships and human connection. Admittedly, Naho is incredibly dense when it comes to recognizing other people’s feelings for her, even when they basically come right out and tell her, which can be a bit exasperating. But overall, the feelings and emotions in Orange ring true, especially as the series progresses and it’s revealed just why everyone is behaving in the ways that they are. I can see Orange ending either in tragedy or in happiness and I’m very curious to see which it will be.

Prison School, Omnibus 2Prison School, Omnibus 2 by Akira Hiramoto. The first omnibus of Prison School established the manga as a series that is simultaneously appalling and strangely engaging. This of course assumes that readers aren’t immediately offended by its highly sexualized and incredibly vulgar nature to begin with. Prison School is definitely not a series for everyone even if, surprisingly, it has its sweet moments. The second omnibus very much continues in the same vein, so the initial shock caused by the manga’s obscenity, over-the-top fanservice, and ridiculous premise has diminished some. Even so, Prison School is a page-turner. The series has been building up to Kiyoshi’s escape attempt, resulting in a situation that gets progressively worse as time goes by. Seeing just how bad things can possibly get (which is pretty bad) is one of Prison School‘s major draws. That and Hiramoto’s impressive skills as an artist. The manga’s content will certainly not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s hard to deny Hiramoto’s talent.

SuperMutant Magic AcademySuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki. Originally a webcomic, the best of SuperMutant Magic Academy has now been collected into a single volume along with newly-created content. I hadn’t actually read any of the comic while it was being released online, but I was obviously missing out—SuperMutant Magic Academy is great stuff. The comic takes place in a high school where students study magic and learn to control their superpowers (sort of an odd mix between Harry Potter and X-Men that bizarrely works), all while dealing with the more normal sorts of teenage angst and anxiety. Except for the series’ lengthy finale, created specifically for the collected volume, most of SuperMutant Magic Academy consists of single-page, and in some cases single-panel, gag comics.There’s no real overarching plot, but there are recurring characters and running jokes. Some of the social commentary can be fairly biting, but SuperMutant Magic Academy is very funny, frequently absurd, and wholly enjoyable.

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  1. I liked Orange it reminded me of Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day except with Sci-Fi instead of Magical Realism. While not falling in the “Misery Porn” tropes found in series like Clannad or Kanon. While also avoiding the plight of feeling plotted like a Nakige Visual Novel as well.

    Personally I hope for a sad ending as I can’t really see a happy ending making sense without it feeling like an inauthentic grab at giving the audience what they want as opposed to what they need.

    Than again I tend to lean toward a more pessimistic “vale of tears” view of life so it may just be that I want a “sad” ending so I guess I’ll have to see what happens in volume two.

    • I haven’t seen Anohana yet, but I’ve been meaning to give it a watch. For me, Orange had a bit of a The Girl Who Leapt Through Time vibe to it, which I don’t at all think is a bad thing. I suspect that even if Orange does have a happy ending, it will be a bittersweet one; I don’t think that the story will be able to completely escape its sadness.

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