My Week in Manga: December 5-December 11, 2011

My News and Reviews

Last week I posted December’s first in-depth manga review: Breathe Deeply by wife and husband creative team Doton Yamaaki. It’s the second manga to be published by One Peace Books. I quite enjoyed it and look forward to future manga releases by the publisher. I also posted the Give Me Some Gin Tama! Winner. The entry also includes a great list of recommended manga titles to make you laugh. And finally, apologies for the exceptionally brief news section this week! I’m still trying to get back into the groove of things after whatever bizarre illness I had.

Quick Takes

The Beautiful Skies of Houou High, Volume 1 by Arata Aki. I’m not as offended by The Beautiful Skies of Houou High as I know some people are, but I can’t say I particularly enjoyed the first volume of the manga, either. Kei Saeba, who literally gets sick in the presence of men, has been enrolled in a prestigious all-boys school by her mother after being dumped by her girlfriend in order to “fix” her daughters preferences. Even worse than that, if anyone discovers that she’s a girl while attending the school, Kei will find herself “disappeared.” I like that Kei likes girls; I like her bifauxnen character design. But that’s most of what I like about the manga. I’m not really enjoying the actual story at this point.

Dragon Girl, Omnibus 1 (equivalent to Volumes 1-3) by Toru Fujieda. Rinna Aizen’s dream is to lead Shoryu Senior High School’s ōendan, or cheering squad (not to be confused with a cheerleading squad). Fortunately for her, the all-boys school has recently gone co-ed. Nothing really stood out for me about Dragon Girl. Rinna and her friends are likeable enough, but the manga uses so many cliches and doesn’t do anything new with them that I actually found it to be rather boring. Long lost childhood love interest? Check. Evil student council? Check. (I could keep going, but I won’t.) However, I would like to thank Fujieda for introducing me to ōendan. That’s some cool stuff right there.

Megatokyo, Volumes 1-3 by Fred Gallagher and Rodney Caston. Megatokyo is a webcomic that began way back in 2000 and is still going. (You can read it here.) Personally, I prefer reading Megatokyo in print. I’ve been following Megatokyo for quite some time, but it’s been a while since I’ve gone back to the beginning. I now realize how many of the Japanese pop culture references went completely over my head the first time I read the comic. I get them now, but even if you don’t, Megatokyo is still great entertainment. Gallagher actually lives in the next town over from me and I’ve even met him on a couple of occasions. I like supporting local creators, which is yet another reason I appreciate Megatokyo.

Saihôshi: The Guardian Omnibus by Kôsen. Saihôshi is probably my favorite publication by Yaoi Press that I’ve read so far. Sure, there is plenty ridiculous about the comic, including odd clothing design choices, gratuitous magic tattoos, and one of the main character’s weapon of choice is basically a giant pair of scissors, but to me that is part of its charm. I’m not sure if it’s intentional or not, though. There are a few brief sex scenes, but Saihôshi‘s focus is on the story. Many of the fantasy elements used are fairly typical, but the plot is actually pretty decent. There was more humor in Saihôshi than I was expecting, too. High art it is not, but I honestly enjoyed Saihôshi. Kôsen is a two-person creative team from Spain made up of Aurora García Tejado and Diana Fernández.

5 Centimeters Per Second directed by Makoto Shinkai. 5 Centimeters Per Second is a gorgeous film. The animation is beautiful and frequently breathtaking—the snow, the rain, the sky, the cherry blossoms, the color and lighting, everything. The film is just over an hour long and consists of three shorts with Takaki Tōno at their heart: “Cherry Blossom,” “Cosmonaut,” and “5 Centimeters Per Second.” 5 Centimeters Per Second is suffused with melancholy and loneliness as its characters deal with intense emotions of love, longing, and loss. Be warned, if you’re looking for resolution and closure, you won’t find it here. 5 Centimeters Per Second left quite an impression on me; I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.