Manga Giveaway: Tokyo ESP Giveaway Winner

Tokyo ESP, Omnibus 1And the winner of the Tokyo ESP manga giveaway is… AshLynx!

As the winner, AshLynx will be receiving the first omnibus in Hajime Segawa’s manga series Tokyo ESP as published in English by Vertical Comics. Tokyo ESP is a relatively recent example of a manga that’s about psychics and espers. The subgenre doesn’t seem to be quite as common as it once was in translation, but it’s certainly still around. And so for this giveaway, I asked that participants tell me a little about their favorite espers and psychics from manga. Mob from Mob Psycho 100 was mentioned the most frequently (I really hope an English-language publisher will license that series soon!), but there are other really great characters mentioned in the giveaway comments, too!

Some of the psychic/esper manga available in English:
A, A’ by Moto Hagio
Akira by Otomo Katsuhiro
Alive: The Final Evolution written by Tadashi Kawashima, illustrated by Adachitoka
Baoh by Hirohiko Araki
Betrayal Knows My Name by Hotaru Odagiri
Beyond the Blindfold by Sakura Tsukuba
A Certain Magical Index written by Kazuma Kamachi, illustrated by Chuya Kogino
A Certain Scientific Accelerator written by Kazuma Kamachi, illustrated by Yamaji Arata
A Certain Scientific Railgun written by Kazuma Kamachi, illustrated by Motoi Fuyukawa
Clover by CLAMP
Descendants of Darkness by Yoko Matsushita
Drug & Drop by CLAMP
Domu by Otomo Katushiro
ES: Eternal Sabbath by Fuyumi Soryo
From the New World written by Yusuke Kishi, illustrated by Toru Oikawa
Ghost Hunt by Shiho Inada
Hands Off! by Kasane Katsumoto
I.O.N. by Arina Tanemura
Jihai by Toshimi Nigoshi
Kimagure Orange Road by Izumi Matsumoto
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service written by Eiji Otsuka, illustrated by Housui Yamazaki
Legal Drug by CLAMP
Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer by Satoshi Mizukami
Mai, the Psychic Girl written by Kazuya Kudo, illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegami
Maoh: Juvenile Remix by Megumi Osuga
Mistress Fortune by Arina Tanemura
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya written by Nagaru Tanigawa, illustrated by Gaku Tsugano
Night Head Genesis by You Higuri
Please Save My Earth by Saki Hiwatari
Psychic Power Nanaki by Ryo Saenagi
Psycho Busters written by Tadashi Agi, illustrated by Akinari Nao
Psyren by Toshiaki Iwashiro
Rasetsu by Chika Shiomi
Spiritual Police by Youka Nitta
Telepathic Wanderers written by Yasutaka Tsutsui, illustrated by Sayaka Yamazaki
To Terra… by Keiko Takemiya
Tokyo ESP by Hajime Segawa
Tokyo Babylon by CLAMP
Wild Com. by Yumi Tamura
Yurara by Chika Shiomi
YuYu Hakusho by Yoshihiro Togashi

That’s quite a list, and I’m certain that’s not all of the manga with psychics and espers to have been released in English. Even so, I think there’s a nice variety of genres and even types of psychics represented, and you’ve got to start somewhere. Thank you to everyone who participated and shared your favorite espers with me. I hope to see you again for the next giveaway!

My Week in Manga: February 20-February 26, 2017

My News and Reviews

In a few more days and March will be here and in a few more days the winner of the Tokyo ESP manga giveaway will be announced. Never fear though, there’s still a little time left to enter for a chance to win the first omnibus in the series! Simply tell me a little about a favorite psychic/esper from a manga. (A quick note: Normally I announce giveaway winners on Wednesday mornings but, because I have an all-day job interview on the 1st, this time the announcement will likely be made sometime on Wednesday evening instead.)

As for some interesting things I came across last week: The National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo has created an online archive of early Japanese animation. An English-language version of the site is currently in the works, but even if you can’t read Japanese if you click around enough you’ll find the some of the videos available for viewing. The University of Michigan’s Center for Japanese Studies recently hosted two master rakugo artists–Yanagiya Sankyo and Yanagiya Kyonosuke–and has posted a video of one of their events. The video includes a brief introduction to rakugo, a demonstration and performance, and a question and answer session.

There are also a few podcasts worth mentioning (though I haven’t actually had the opportunity to listen to most of them yet): The most recent episode of Comic Books Are Burning in Hell is devoted to the late Jiro Taniguchi. Tofugu started a podcast not too long ago and recently talked with Alexander O. Smith about What Makes a Good Japanese Translator? (Smith does a fair amount of video game translation but translates novels and manga as well. He’s also one of the founders of Bento Books.) Vertical Comics recently started a podcast, too, and the first episode of the Mangocast is now available for listening.

As for crowdfunding efforts for queer comics, the end of February has seen quite a few Kickstarter projects launch: The Husband & Husband campaign is hoping to publish the first volume of the cute and funny webcomic in print. The Dates anthology, which focuses on queer historical fiction, is back for a second volume. (Though I haven’t written a quick take for it yet, I have the first volume and it’s great.) The Go Get a Roomie! project is raising funds to print the second volume and reprint the first volume of the webcomic. And finally, Digital Manga’s most recent Kickstarter has launched–Juné Manga is working with Velvet Toucher, a Japanese artist living in the United States, to release Eden’s Mercy.

Quick Takes

Guardians of the LouvreGuardians of the Louvre by Jiro Taniguchi. I’ve read most but not quite all of Taniguchi’s manga that has been released in English, but his recent passing reminded me that I hadn’t yet read Guardians of the Louvre, the latest one to have been released. One of the most remarkable things about Guardians of the Louvre is its full-color artwork. The volume is actually part of the “Louvre Collection,” a series of comics commissioned by the Louvre that feature the museum and its collections. (Hirohiko Araki’s Rohan at the Louvre is part of the same series.) Taniguchi is an extremely versatile creator; while some of his manga are action-packed, others are more introspective. Guardians of the Louvre is definitely one of the latter. The story is a quiet and contemplative exploration of art and inspiration, following a manga creator who is visiting Paris on his own for a few days. He falls ill soon after he arrives but pushes through in order to visit the Louvre. And so when he seems to start slipping through time, meeting artists and historical figures associated with the museum, not to mention the embodiments of some of the works housed there, he’s never quite sure how much of his visit is based in reality and how much is a fever dream.

He's My Only Vampire, Volume 1He’s My Only Vampire, Volumes 1-3 by Aya Shouoto. While I don’t actively avoid vampire manga, I also don’t actively seek it out. Usually there has to be something a little “extra” to catch my attention. In the case of He’s My Only Vampire, I had decided to seek out more of Shouoto’s work available in English while waiting for more of The Demon Prince of Momochi House to be released. He’s My Only Vampire is kind of an odd series and at this point the manga doesn’t seem to have a clear direction. It’s as if Shouoto is either trying to do too much at once with the story or hasn’t quite decided where it should go yet. It can still be pretty entertaining from time to time, though. Shouoto’s artwork, even though anatomy seems to occasionally go out the window, can be lovely and sensual, too. So far the best part of the manga is the three main characters–Kana, the strong and spunky heroine, Aki, the titular vampire and Kana’s long-lost childhood friend, and Jin, a high-school delinquent who has recently discovered that he is at least part werewolf. Personality-wise and the relationship-wise they’re all sort of goofy and their interactions can be quite amusing. The story is taking some darker turns, but I think I prefer its humor.

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Volume 1Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Volumes 1-4 by Shinobu Ohtaka. I know quite a few people who love Magi and have heard plenty of great things about the series but despite those facts it’s still taken me this long to finally get around to reading the manga. Magi more or less starts out as a dungeon crawl which, while highly entertaining, isn’t exactly the most compelling narrative for a series that’s already over thirty volumes and still ongoing. But after the first dungeon crawl (and I suspect that there will likely be more of those in the future) Ohtaka begins delving into the characters and their motivations while exploring the vast world in which the live. In part Magi is inspired by One Thousand and One Nights but Ohtaka does not strictly adhere to those stories and characters, instead creating a complex world that is reminiscent of but distinct from that work. Magi really is a great series, with plenty of magic, mystery, and adventure; I can easily understand why it’s so well-loved. The artwork is clear and attractive, the settings and characters are interesting and well-realized, and the story, worldbuilding, and action are engaging. I also particularly appreciate that the women can be just as badass as the men in the series and in some cases are even more so.

NewsPrintsNewsPrints by Ru Xu. My introduction to Xu’s work was through the beautifully illustrated webcomic Saint for Rent. However, NewsPrints is her debut graphic novel. Published by Scholastic the comic is aimed towards middle grade readers but it can be appreciated by older readers, too. NewsPrints, while still being very approachable, actually tackles some pretty weighty subject matter–war, propaganda, identity, and so on. The comic is about Blue, an orphan who is hiding the fact that she is a girl so that she can work as a newsboy for the Bugle, one of the only newspapers that actually reports the truth. The Bugle has taken in and cares for other orphans as well, but Blue is afraid that she won’t be able to hide her secret much longer and may lose her newfound family because of it. The city she lives in has very firmly entrenched ideas about what is and is not appropriate for girls to do. Blue is embroiled in an extremely dangerous situation when she meets and becomes friends with Crow who is also hiding a secret, one that could greatly influence the course of the war. Though NewsPrints tells a complete story the ending is left fairly open. Apparently a sequel is currently in the works; I’m very curious to see where Xu takes the comic next.

Manga Giveaway: Tokyo ESP Giveaway

The end of February is almost here which means it’s yet again time for another giveaway at Experiments in Manga. This month everyone will have the opportunity to win the first omnibus of Hajime Segawa’s manga series Tokyo ESP. (Published in English by Vertical Comics, the omnibus collects the first two volumes of the original Japanese edition.) As always, the giveaway is open worldwide!

Tokyo ESP, Omnibus 1

Growing up I absolutely loved stories about psychic powers. (Did anyone else read The Girl with the Silver Eyes Willo Davis Roberts? That was a favorite of mine and I frequently reread it.) I no longer deliberately seek out that particular subgenre in the same way that I used to, but I do continue to enjoy stories with ESP as a prominent feature. At one point in time, it actually seemed like it was impossible to get away from manga series revolving around characters with psychic powers. While they don’t seem to be nearly as common as they once were, manga with psychics and espers are still regularly released in English, Tokyo ESP being just one example

So, you may be wondering, how can you a copy of the first Tokyo ESP omnibus?

1) In the comments below, tell me a little about one of your favorite psychics or espers from a manga. (If you don’t have a favorite or don’t know of any, simply mention that.)
2) If you’re on Twitter, you can earn a bonus entry by tweeting, or retweeting, about the contest. Make sure to include a link to this post and @PhoenixTerran (that’s me).

That’s pretty straightforward, right? Everyone participating has one week to submit comments and can earn up to two entries for the giveaway. Comments can also be sent directly to phoenixterran(at)gmail(dot)com if needed or preferred. Those entries will then be posted here in your name. The giveaway winner will be randomly selected and announced on March 1, 2017. Good luck, everyone!

VERY IMPORTANT: Include some way that I can contact you. This can be an e-mail address in the comment form, a link to your website, Twitter username, or whatever. If I can’t figure out how to get a hold of you and you win, I’ll just draw another name.

Contest winner announced–Manga Giveaway: Tokyo ESP Giveaway Winner

My Week in Manga: February 13-February 19, 2017

My News and Reviews

Hooray! I managed to write and post another in-depth review at Experiments in Manga. Even if I’m not writing as much as I once was, it still feels pretty good to get back into the (slow) swing of things. Anyway, last week I took a look at Jen Lee Quick’s dark fantasy Western Gatesmith, Volume 1. The comic is off to an intriguing start though it can also be a little frustrating. The series is currently on break, but I hope that there will be more soon.

As many people are probably aware, the prolific and versatile mangaka Jiro Taniguchi passed away earlier this month. Despite not being particularly well known in English, a fair number of his manga have been released in translation. Kate Dacey of The Manga Critic has a nice guide to Taniguchi’s work for those interested in what is currently available. At The Comics Journal, Taniguchi was the subject of a recent article by Joe McCulloch and an obituary written by Zack Davisson. Other comic sites like The Beat have recently honored Taniguchi as well. I’ve read most but not quite all of Taniguchi’s work in English, my personal favorites being A Distant Neighborhood and his collaboration with Baku Yumemakura The Summit of the Gods. Way back when there was a Manga Moveable Feast devoted to Taniguchi, too. Some of the links are no longer work, but many of the features can still be tracked down.

In happier news, SuBLime announced three new licenses last week: Akane Abe’s Am I In Love or Just Hungry? (digital-only), Scarlet Beriko’s Jackass!, and Tsuta Suzuki’s A Strange and Mystifying Story. (I’m very curious about Jackass! and I’m very happy about A Strange and Mystifying Story which is actually a license rescue. The first three of seven volumes were originally published in English by Digital Manga; I remember quite liking them.) The Toronto Comic Arts Festival has started announcing its featured guests for the year which will include Gengoroh Tagame among other fantastic creators. The OASG talked to Kodansha Comics about the licensing of Chihayafuru. While still probably unlikely, a print edition of the series isn’t completely off the table. As for Kickstarter campaigns for queer comics that have recently caught my attention, Megan Lavey-Heaton has launched a project to print the third volume of Namesake.

Quick Takes

Blood Blockade Battlefront, Volume 1Blood Blockade Battlefront, Volumes 1-7 by Yasuhiro Nightow. I wasn’t initially planning on reading Blood Blockade Battlefront–I wasn’t a huge fan Nightow’s Trigun–but I kept hearing great things about the anime adaptation and then I came across a “complete” set of the manga on super sale, so I picked it up. The series is actually ten volumes long; supposedly Dark Horse has plans to release the final three at some point. In general the manga tends to be fairly episodic, so even if the rest of the series isn’t translated at least readers aren’t left with an unresolved story. It wasn’t until partway through the second volume of Blood Blockade Battlefront that the series started to click with me, but once it did I found myself really enjoying the manga. Its mix of goofy everyday life and action-heavy sequences actually reminded me a bit of Cowboy Bebop. The manga is essentially about a semi-secret group of monster hunters working in what used to be New York before it was destroyed by the sudden appearance of an interdimensional portal. The character designs of the main cast are sadly simple and plain compared to the series’ fantastic setting and creatures, but their distinctive personalities mostly make up for that.

The Box ManThe Box Man by Imiri Sakabashira. The North American manga industry is primarily focused on publishing more popular, mainstream works, but occasionally an alternative or independent work is released as well. The Box Man was originally serialized in Ax, an alternative manga magazine in Japan which was the basis for the Ax: Alternative Manga English-language anthology. Examples of Sakabashira’s work can be found in that anthology and in the earlier collection Sake Jock, but The Box Man is his first long-form work to be translated. Granted, there’s very little dialogue that actually needs to be translated–for the most part the manga is an entirely visual experience. Even the story is fairly limited in scope. The narrative follows a kappa-like cat accompanying a man on a scooter who is transporting a box which turns out to contain something rather peculiar. The strangeness of The Box Man doesn’t end there, but the point of the manga seems to be less about telling a story and more about creating a visual spectacle. The artwork incorporates popular culture references (some of which I’m sure I completely missed) and at times can be rather bizarre, violent, or erotically-charged.

Giganto MaxiaGiganto Maxia by Kentaro Miura. Though it certainly has its problems, Miura’s Berserk is one of my favorite series. I have been significantly less enamored with the other manga by Miura that have been released in English–specifically his collaborations with Buronson Japan and King of Wolves–but I was still very curious about Giganto Maxia. Whether it’s intentional or not, the dark fantasy manga shares some similarities with Attack on Titan and Terra Formars and also appears to be heavily influenced by professional wrestling. Miura’s artwork in Giganto Maxia is tremendous but the story, while it isn’t awful, struggles to match the caliber of the illustrations. I almost wonder if Giganto Maxia was originally intended to be longer than a single volume since so much about the manga’s world and characters are left unexplained in the end. Giganto Maxia does more or less tell a complete story, but it feels like a single episode taken from the middle of a larger narrative. At one time a slave forced to battle to the death in a gladiatorial arena, Delos is now fighting against the empire itself. Joining forces with Prome, a powerful spirit who takes the form of a young girl (and who is constantly trying to get him to drink her “nectar” ), Delos can transform into the mythic titan Gohra in order to do battle.

Lake JehovahLake Jehovah by Jillian Fleck. Lake Jehovah, Fleck’s debut graphic novel, first came to my attention due to the fact that Jay, the comic’s protagonist, is genderqueer. While themes of identity, gender, and sexuality are integral to the comic’s story they aren’t the primary focus of Lake Jehovah. Instead, the comic is about the end of the world, both literally and figuratively. Human civilization has already succumbed to multiple apocalypses but Jay unexpectedly becomes the prophet for the next impending disaster while dealing with even more personal and existential crises. Jay struggles with intense depression and anxiety which slowly destroys xis relationship with xis fiance. Eventually she leaves, no longer able to cope with Jay’s instability, and Jay is left recover and come to terms with everything alone. Lake Jehovah actually handles the topic of mental illness better than many other comics I’ve read. It’s an emotionally tumultuous work, tempering despair with humor as the characters search for meaning in their lives even while everything is falling apart around them. Some turn to sex or drugs while others find comfort in poetry or art. Lake Jehovah is a somewhat strange but undeniably compelling comic.

Gatesmith, Volume 1

Gatesmith, Volume 1Creator: Jen Lee Quick
Publisher: Chromatic Press
ISBN: 9781987988079
Released: July 2016
Original run: 2014-2015

My introduction to the work of Jen Lee Quick was through her comic Off*Beat. The first two volumes of the series were originally published by Tokyopop after which the comic sadly languished unresolved until it was rescued by Chromatic Press, becoming one of the publisher’s flagship titles. After completing Off*Beat with Chromatic Press, Quick began working on a second comic series with the publisher called Gatesmith. The origins of Gatesmith actually date back to Quick’s Tokyopop days as well, but the ideas for comic have significantly changed since then. At least one thing has remained the same though–Gatesmith is a dark fantasy Western drastically different from Off*Beat. Gatesmith began serialization in Chromatic Press’ digital magazine Sparkler Monthly in 2014. The first volume concluded in 2015 and the serialized content was subsequently collected as an ebook along with an exclusive epilogue comic and the short prequel comic “Hungry.” A small print run of Gatesmith, Volume 1 was released in 2016. As a fan of Quick’s work, I was very happy to snag a copy.

Edgeward is a western frontier town undergoing a transformation as its residents slowly build it into a successful mining city. But Edgeward is also the home to numerous strange happenings, phenomena which some people attribute to the area’s large deposits of mythrilite, a promising but potentially dangerous new energy source which hasn’t yet been thoroughly studied. Modernization can carry along with it tremendous risks, but there seems to be something even more primal, ancient, and bizarre at work in Edgeward. On the outskirts of town, strange lights can be seen in the middle of the desert. Peculiar trees spontaneously emerge where no tree has any right growing. Rumors circulate about monsters and creatures of legend roaming about. Ranchers are losing livestock and are uncertain whether or not to blame humans or something much more diabolical. Whatever it is that is going on in Edgeward may very well have a greater meaning and far-reaching impact than anyone realizes.

Gatesmith, Volume 1, page 72The setting of Gatesmith, while beautiful, is also a harsh and frequently brutal one. Survival is certainly not guaranteed in such an unforgiving environment. The comic opens with an attack on a covered wagon that leaves everyone directly involved in the incident dead and the violence in the story doesn’t end there. At this point virtually everything is unknown in Gatesmith, and the unknown is very apt to get someone killed. Gatesmith, Volume 1 offers very few answers as Quick layers mystery upon mystery. In the series, myth, folklore, and the supernatural are closely intertwined with scientific, social, and technological progress. The anxieties surrounding the changing times are very real and sometimes manifest in unexpected ways. When humans are attempting to deal with things that they don’t completely comprehend or understand trouble naturally follows, but it’s not always the inhuman that people have to worry about–unintentionally or not, civilization can be just as destructive and isn’t necessarily always a positive force. Tremendous resilience and adaptability will be required of any of the characters who hope to reach the end of Gatesmith alive.

Gatesmith is off to an incredibly intriguing start with its first volume; I am intensely curious to see how the comic continues to develop from here. However, part of what makes Gatesmith so appealing and engrossing is also what makes the comic somewhat frustrating. Quick is working with several storylines and a marvelously diverse cast of characters, but this early on in the series the connections between them all are not immediately clear. With the many strange occurrences and often stranger characters involved in Gatesmith, the ultimate direction and drive of the story is somewhat obscured at the moment and the worldbuilding hasn’t yet been established in its entirety. What has been revealed so far is enticing and tantalizing, though. Gatesmith is an interesting blend of genres. Quick draws on traditions of Westerns, folklore, horror, and other speculative fiction without relying heavily on preexisting elements or well-worn tropes, combining them together in striking ways. Currently Gatesmith is on a break as Quick concentrates on a few other creative projects, but I hope to see more of the weirdly wonderful and wonderfully weird Western soon.