Bookshelf Overload: November 2017

Since in a few weeks I will be retiring Experiments in Manga, this will be the final Bookshelf Overload posted here. However, I am thinking of ways that I might be able to feature some of the interesting media that I find by leveraging my Twitter account more effectively. As for the things that found their way into my home in November, I once again picked up more anime than I generally do. (Granted, two of those, Skip Beat! and Mind Game were the results of Kickstarters that I supported way back when.) November saw the release of several debuts that I was particularly excited about, including  ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department, Volume 1 by Natsume Ono, Arakawa Under the Bridge, Omnibus 1 by Hikaru Nakamura, To Your Eternity, Volume 1 by Yoshitoki Oima (okay, technically it was released on the last day of October), as well as the Parasyte tribute anthology Neo-Parasyte M. I also recently discovered that a small publisher based out of Yokohama, Black Hook Press, is releasing gekiga manga in translation, such as Takashi Fukutani’s Dokudami Tenement. One more acquisition from November that I’d like to highlight is Denise Schroeder’s The Good Prince, Volume 1 which collects the first three chapters of that  webcomic. My introduction to Schroeder’s work was through the utterly charming comic Before You Go, so I’m happy to get my hands on more of her work in print.

ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department, Volume 1 by Natsume Ono
Arakawa Under the Bridge, Omnibus 1 by Hikaru Nakamura
Complex Age, Volumes 3-4 by Yui Sakuma
Delicious in Dungeon, Volume 3 by Ryoko Kui
Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, Volume 3 by Haruko Kumota
Devilman Grimoire, Volume 1 written by Go Nagai, illustrated by Rui Takato
Dokudami Tenement, Volume 1 by Takashi Fukutani
Erased, Omnibus 3 by Kei Sanbe
Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma, Volume 19 written by Yuto Tsukuda, illustrated by Shun Saeki
The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún, Volume 3 by Nagabe
In This Corner of the World by Fumiyo Kouno
Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler, Volume 1 written by Homura Kawamoto, illustrated by Tōru Naomura
Land of the Lustrous, Volumes 2-3 by Haruko Ichikawa
Murciélago, Volume 4 by Yoshimurakana
Neo-Parasyte M by Various
Ōoku: The Inner Chambers, Volume 13 by Fumi Yoshinaga
A Polar Bear in Love, Volume 1 by Koromo
Requiem of the Rose King, Volume 7 by Aya Kanno
Shirley, Volume 1 by Kaoru Mori
Skip Beat!, Omnibus 2-12 by Yoshiki Nakamura
Sweetness and Lightning, Volume 8 by Gido Amagakure
To Your Eternity, Volume 1 by Yoshitoki Oima

After Laughter by Jonathan Djob Nkondo
As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman
Barbara by Nicole Miles
A Body Beneath by Michael DeForge
Elysium by Caroline Dougherty and Femi Sobowale
Everyone’s an Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun
The Good Prince, Volume 1 by Denise Schroeder
Goro, Issue 2 by Sarah Horrocks
A Long Distance by Jean Wei
Love Your Rogue by Billie Snippet
Men + Monsters, Volume 1 by Aero Zero
Musings of a Muslim Hipster by Areeba Siddique
The Pit of Tar by Jeremy Sorese
Sukibito Diary by Chu Nap
Super Tokyoland by Benjamin Reiss
What Is Left by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

Sari Sari by Corinne Caro and Issel De Leon

Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Volume 5: Mobilization by Yoshiki Tanaka

The Ise Stories: Ise Monogatari translated by Joshua S. Mostow and Royall Tyler
Panic and Deaf by Xiaosheng Liang

Genocidal Organ directed by Shukō Murase
In This Corner of the World directed by Sunao Katabuchi
Kaiba directed by Masaaki Yuasa
Mind Game directed by Masaaki Yuasa
Skip Beat! directed by Kiyoko Sayama
Tokyo Godfathers directed by Satoshi Kon
Your Name directed by Makoto Shinkai

Funeral Parade of Roses directed by Toshio Matsumoto

My Week in Manga: December 4-December 10, 2017

My News and Reviews

Last week at Experiments in Manga I announced the winner of the Cache of Kodansha Comics giveaway. The post also includes a list of Kodansha Comics’ manga debuts from 2017. Before the year is over and Experiments in Manga enters retirement I will be holding one last manga giveaway. This week, however, I will be posting the final Bookshelf Overload feature. As for other thing found elsewhere online: Anime Feminist has been posting some really interesting content lately, including but certainly not limited to an interview with Arina Tanemura. Iron Circus Comix recently revealed that it would be releasing Japanese creator Sachiko Kaneoya’s first English-language collection. And speaking of Iron Circus Comix, the publisher’s most recent Kickstarter for Niki Smith’s erotic graphic novel Crossplay may also be of interest. Another Kickstarter project that is worth taking a look at is for the second volume of Minna Sundberg’s fantastic comic Stand Still, Stay Silent. (I enjoyed the first book tremendously.)

Quick Takes

ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department, Volume 1ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department, Volume 1 by Natsume Ono. My first encounter with Ono’s work was through the anime adaptation of House of Five Leaves. After watching it, I immediately sought out the original along with Ono’s other manga available in English. I was very happy when Yen Press announced it would be releasing ACCA (which itself recently received an anime adaptation). The country of Dowa is divided into thirteen separate districts, each of which independently operates a branch of ACCA, a civil service-orientated organization. Jean Otus works for ACCA’s Inspection Department which is always on the alert for and investigates possible corruption within the agency. When the situation demands it, Jean’s colleagues at the office are shown to be quite capable at their jobs, but most of their time seems to be spent bantering over pastries. This does reinforce the perception that the Inspection Department has become superfluous in a time of peace and prosperity, but I also find it to be a delightful bit of characterization. The first volume of ACCA is a slow burn, but it has incredible atmosphere and I enjoyed it greatly.

Neo-Parasyte MNeo-Parasyte M by Various. It’s been a while since I first read it, but I still remember the huge impression that Hitoshi Iwaaki’s horror manga series Parasyte made on me. (I really need to reread it again sometime in the near future.) Last year Kodansha Comics released Neo-Parasyte F, a shoujo/josei anthology created as a tribute to the original Parasyte. It was a fantastic anthology, so I was very excited when its shounen/seinen counterpart (and technically its predecessor) was also licensed. As a whole, I think that Neo-Parasyte F worked better or at least more consistently for me than Neo-Parasyte M, but there are still some terrific stories in the collection. The roster of contributors is rather impressive, too. Of particular note, a piece by Moto Hagio opens the volume. As is to be expected, most of the short manga in the anthology require at least a basic familiarity with Parasyte to be fully appreciated. The twelve stories in Neo-Parastye M take a variety of approaches. Some are more serious while others are more comedic, and a few can even be described as endearing. Not every contribution is successful, but overall Neo-Parasyte M is a great collection.

Manga Giveaway: A Cache of Kodansha Comics Winner

Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, Volume 1Kigurumi Guardians, Volume 1
Land of the Lustrous, Volume 1Love and Lies, Volume 1

And the winner of the manga giveaway for a cache of Kodansha Comics is… Dawn!

As the winner, Dawn (whose terrific Anime Nostalgia Podcast also happens to be hosting a giveaway right now) will be receiving the first volumes of Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju by Haruko Kumota, Kigurumi Guardians by Lily Hoshino, Land of the Lustrous by Haruko Ichikawa, and Love & Lies by Musawo, all of which debuted in English from Kodansha Comics this past year. In addition to its print releases, Kodansha Comics has also had a particularly good showing in 2017 digitally. And so for this giveaway, I asked participants to tell me a little about their own reading habits and preferences when it comes to print versus digital manga. The responses were really great, so be sure to check out the giveaway comments!

Kodansha Comics’ 2017 Print Manga Debuts
Aho-Girl by Hiroyuki
Appleseed Alpha by Iou Kuroda
Battle Angel Alita by Yukito Kishiro
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card by CLAMP
Clockwork Planet by Kuro
Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju by Haruko Kumota
Fairy Tail: Rhodonite by Kyouta Shibano
Fairy Tail: S by Hiro Mashima
Frau Faust by Kore Yamazaki
Ichi-F: A Worker’s Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant by Kazuto Tatsuta
Kigurumi Guardians by Lily Hoshino
Kiss Me at the Stroke of Midnight by Rin Mikimoto
Land of the Lustrous by Haruko Ichikawa
Love and Lies by Musawo
Neo Parasyte M by Various
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime written by Fuse and illustrated by Taiki Kawakami
To Your Eternity by Yoshitoki Oima
Toppu GP by Kosuke Fujishima
Waiting for Spring by Anashin
Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty by Megumi Morino

Kodansha Comics’ 2017 Digital Debuts
Ace of the Diamond by Yuji Terajima
All-Out by Shiori Amase]
All-Rounder Meguru by Hiroki Endo
Altair: A Record of Battles by Kotono Kato
Aoba-kun’s Confessions by Ema Toyama
Ayanashi by Yukihiro Kajimoto
Beauty Bunny by Mari Yoshino
Black Panther and Sweet by Pedoro Toriumi
Blame! Academy and So On by Tsutomu Nihei
Chihayafuru by Yuki Suetsugu
Cosplay Animal by Watari Sakou
Days by Tsuyoshi Yasuda
Deathtopia by Yoshinobu Yamada
Domestic Girlfriend by Kei Sasuga
Drifting Dragons by Taku Kuwabara
Drowning Love by George Asakura
Elegant Yokai Apartment Life written by Hinowa Kouzuki, illustrated by Waka Miyama
The Full-Time Wife Escapist by Tsunami Umino
Giant Killing written by Masaya Tsunamoto, illustrated by Tsujitomo
Grand Blue Dreaming written by Kenji Inoue, illustrated by Kimitake Yoshioka
GTO: Paradise Lost by Toru Fujisawa
Hotaru’s Way by Satoru Hiura
House of the Sun by Taamo
Hozuki’s Coolheadedness by Natsumi Eguchi
I Want to Hold Aono-kun So Badly I Could Die by Umi Shiina
I’m in Love and It’s the End of the World by Taamo
Kasane by Daruma Matsuura
Kokkoku: Moment by Moment by Seita Horio
Koundori: Dr. Stork by You Suzunoki
Love’s Reach by Rin Mikimoto
Lovesick Ellie by Fujimomo
Magical Sempai by Azu
Museum by Ryousuke Tomoe
My Brother the Shut In by Kinoko Higurashi
Our Precious Conversations by Robico
Peach Heaven by Mari Yoshino
PTSD Radio by Masaaki Nakayama
Rave Master by Hiro Mashima
Real Girl by Mao Nanami
Shojo Fight! by Yoko Nihonbashi
A Springtime with Ninjas by Narumi Hasegaki
Tokyo Tarareba Girls by Akiko Higashimura
Tsuredure Children by Toshiya Wakabayashi
Until Your Bones Rot by Yae Utsumi
Wave, Listen to Me! by Hiroaki Samura

Assuming that I didn’t miss any (I’m sure I have and some of the digital titles probably haven’t even been revealed yet), Kodansha Comics had twenty print debuts last year (most if not all of which are also available digitally) and forty-five digital debuts (a few of which will eventually be released in print, too). By the end of the year, Kodansha Comics will have debuted more than sixty-five new titles in addition to its other continuing series! It’s great to see how much is being published in English these days in print and digitally, and not just by Kodansha Comics. Thank you to everyone who shared your reading preferences with me! Both digital and print manga have their pros and cons, so I found all of your responses very interesting. I hope to see you again at the end of December for one last giveaway here at Experiments in Manga!

My Week in Manga: November 27-December 3, 2017

My News and Reviews

The most recent manga giveaway at Experiments in Manga is currently underway! The winner will be announced on Wednesday, so there’s still a little time left to enter for a chance to win four of Kodansha Comics’ print debuts from 2017: Haruko Kumota’s Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, Lily Hoshino’s Kigurumi Guardians, Haruko Ichikawa’s Land of the Lustrous, and Musawo’s Love & Lies. (Also, a couple other giveaways are going on right now that I would like to highlight: The Manga Test Drive’s annual holiday giveaway and Taneka Stott’s third annual queer comics giveaway.) Last week I finally managed to post the in-depth review that I’ve been working on for a while now, taking a closer look at Knights-Errant, Volume 1 by Jennifer Doyle. Knights-Errant is a fantastic comic, a queer-positive, dark historical fantasy with a compelling story and characters. I highly, highly recommend the series. (It can also be read online for free at Sparkler Monthly!) Initially I was intending to write one more in-depth review before the year was over (and before I retire Experiments in Manga), but after some thought I think that Knights-Errant will have the honor of receiving the last. However, I am still working on and will be posting my random musings on some of year’s notable releases, so there is that to look forward to.

Quick Takes

Arakawa Under the Bridge, Omnibus 1Arakawa Under the Bridge, Omnibus 1 (equivalent to Volumes 1-2) by Hikaru Nakamura. My introduction to Arakawa Under the Bridge was through its anime adaptation, an incredibly quirky and bizarre work which I found to be highly entertaining. Only later did I discover that the creator of the original manga was also the creator of Saint Young Men, a series that I hope might one day be translated as well. (Despite interest from fans and publishers alike, Saint Young Men has been unlicensable for the North American market, but I can’t help hoping that if Arakawa Under the Bridge is successful that might change.) Arakawa Under the Bridge is an absolutely ridiculous manga and I enjoyed it immensely. The chapters are short and somewhat episodic so the narrative flow can be disjointed, but Nakamura eventually develops a nice rhythm as more of the increasingly large, and strange, cast is introduced. The absurdity of the characters is really what makes Arakawa Under the Bridge work. I’m particularly fond of Sister, an ex-mercenary who crossdresses as a nun, but the manga is filled with astonishing personalities.

A Polar Bear in Love, Volume 1A Polar Bear in Love, Volume 1 by Koromo. Stories about star-crossed lovers aren’t especially rare, but none in my experience are quite like A Polar Bear in Love. Granted, at this point only one of the pair is actually in love. As impossible as it seems, Mr. Polar Bear as fallen for Li’l Seal. Understandably, considering the normal order of the food chain, Li’l Seal is a bit concerned by this. They’re both males, too, but the real issue is that Li’l Seal expects to be eaten at any moment. The power dynamics are a little tricky, but over the course of the first volume, Mr. Polar Bear demonstrates the earnestness of his love and at least tries not to be too pushy about his feelings. Li’l Seal slowly realizes he might not actually be on the menu, but that’s not going to solve everything about their relationship, either. A Polar Bear in Love can be both incredibly adorable and surprisingly dark, occasionally even at the same time. Even while being anthropomorphized, Li’l Seal and and Mr. Polar Bear also have to face more realistic concerns of survival. On the surface A Polar Bear in Love is delightfully silly manga, but it also has a thing or two to say about love and relationships.

To Your Eternity, Volume 1To Your Eternity, Volume 1 by Yoshitoki Oima. I have been following Oima’s progress as an artist and storyteller with great interest. Oima’s first major work was the manga adaptation of Tow Ubukata’s novel Mardock Scramble, parts of which I actually greatly preferred over its source material. However, what really impressed me was her powerful original series, A Silent Voice. When Kodansha Comics announced it would be releasing To Your Eternity, Oima’s current ongoing series, I immediately took note and looked forward to reading it with great anticipation. The first chapter of To Your Eternity is one of the most beautifully devastating narratives that I’ve read in a while and it seems as though it may only be a prelude for what is to come. (It also includes a fairly significant plot twist which makes the series a little difficult to discuss without giving away major spoilers.) Oima has created a complex fantasy world complete with it’s own legends and lore exploring the meaning of life and loyalty to family and community. To Your Eternity is absolutely heartbreaking, unsettling, and striking in both its story and artwork. I definitely plan on reading more.

Knights-Errant, Volume 1

Knights-Errant, Volume 1Creator: Jennifer Doyle
Publisher: Chromatic Press
ISBN: 9781987988239
Released: November 2016
Original run: 2015-2016

Jennifer Doyle’s series Knights-Errant had its beginnings as a webcomic in 2009. It was Doyle’s first attempt at a long-form comic. Somewhat unsatisfied with how the story’s structure was developing, Doyle decided to reboot the series as Knights-Errant: Pavane. The subtitle was eventually dropped and Knights-Errant ultimately became a part of Chromatic Press’ online multimedia magazine Sparkler Monthly in 2015. As a beautifully illustrated, queer-positive historical fantasy with compelling characters and engaging story, Knights-Errant was a perfect addition to the lineup. In 2016, the first volume of Knights-Errant was released in both print and digital formats. The book is in full-color and collects the first three chapters of Knights-Errant serialized online between 2015 and 2016 in addition to content not previously released: a short comic, “Anton & Beppe,” exploring the backstory of those characters, and a short story, “Justice,” written by Doyle’s partner Ursula Wood and featuring the characters Kadeen and Oswald.

The city of Adigo in North Vetal is under siege by the army of its own king. The population is slowly starving, essentially being held hostage by an influential but traitorous margrave whose loyalty to his god comes before his faith in the monarchy. Not all of the margrave’s soldiers share or support their commander’s fervent beliefs, however. At least one guard, Beppe, is working to end the deadly impasse by conspiring with a criminal. Wilfrid, after some amount of convincing, has become vital to Beppe’s plans. Jailed for stabbing two men, Wilfrid is given a choice: certain death by hanging for the crime or almost certain death by attempting to guide the king’s forces into the city. But only the latter gives Wilfrid the chance of surviving long enough to seek retribution and exact revenge. Wilfrid’s fundamental goals may only temporarily align with those of the soldiers who are are hoping break the margrave’s self-destructive control over the city and its people, but it is a risk that they are all willing to take.

Doyle has on occasion described Knights-Errant as a “hate/love letter” to Kentaro Miura’s Berserk. While that influence and inspiration can be seen in the comic, Knights-Errant is more than just a response to a single series–it is a brilliant work based completely on its own merits and worth. One of the many things that I particularly love about Knights-Errant, and one of Doyle’s intentions behind its creation, is the inclusion of queer themes and representation. Notably in the first volume, Wilfrid’s gender is naturally complex and Beppe’s closest and most intimate relationship is with his fellow guardsman Anton. But these sorts of personal qualities make up only one aspect of the series’ believably imperfect and multi-faceted characters. The layered portrayal of both the antagonists and protagonists–many of whom are dealing with traumatic pasts, grim presents, and potentially tragic futures–is excellent. The evocative artwork, colored with subdued but striking tones, seems to effortlessly carry and support the emotional weight demanded by the story. However, in part due to the comic’s admittedly dark and sardonic sense of humor, Knights-Errant does manage to avoid being overly oppressive.

Knights-Errant is a nuanced tale of politics, religion, intrigue, and revenge. It’s amazing how high the stakes have already risen in the first volume with the main players and the beginnings of the underlying plot having only just been introduced. The fate of a city and the lives both within and outside of its walls are at stake, and the threat of psychological and physical violence that the series’ main characters must personally face is tremendous. The entire situation is extremely volatile and everyone knows it–whatever happens next will not only have a major impact on the people who are directly involved, it may very well change the course of history for the kingdom as a whole. The tension and pacing in the first volume of Knights-Errant is magnificent, the intertwining complexities of the characters’ individual stories unfolding within the context of a much larger narrative developing on an even grander scale. Everything about Knights-Errant is intense in the best way possible, from the sophisticated dynamics of the characters’ relationships, to the intricacies of the plot and fully-realized setting, to the dramatic and expressive artwork. The comic is incredibly easy to recommend.