Manga Giveaway: Ema Toyama Twosome Winner

Manga Dogs, Volume 1Missions of Love, Volume 1And the winner of the Ema Toyama Twosome is… Coco!

As the winner, Coco will be receiving two manga by Ema Toyama: Manga Dogs, Volume 1 and Missions of Love, Volume 1. Both of those series feature protagonists who are professional storytellers, a mangaka and cell phone novelist respectively. So, for the manga giveaway, I asked participants to tell me a little about their favorite characters in manga who are writers. Check out the Ema Toyama Twosome comments for all of the characters mentioned, and check out the list below for all of the manga mentioned and then some!

Manga available in English featuring writers of various types:
Author’s Pet by Deathco Cotorino
Awaken Forest by Yuna Aoi
Bakuman written by Tsugumi Ohba, illustrated by Takeshi Obata
Barefoot Waltz by Romuko Miike
Blood Alone by Masayuki Takano
Fairy Tail by Hiro Mashima
Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya
Gerard & Jacques by Fumi Yoshinaga
Gravitation by Maki Murakami
Honey Blood by Miko Mitsuki
Junjo Romantica by Shungiku Nakamura
Kiss All the Boys by Shiuko Kano
Kinoko Inu: Mushroom Pup by Kimama Aoboshi
Kodocha: Sana’s Stage by Miho Obana
Liberty Liberty! by Hinako Takanaga
Love Machine by Amayo Tsuge
Manga Dogs by Ema Toyama
Me & My Brothers by Hari Tokeino
Missions of Love by Ema Toyama
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun by Izumi Tsubaki
No One Loves Me by Yugi Yamada
Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy! by Fumi Yoshinaga
Otomen by Aya Kanno
R.O.D.: Read or Die written by Hideyuki Kurata, illustrated by Shutaro Yamada
R.O.D.: Read or Dream written by Hideyuki Kurata, illustrated by Ran Ayanaga
The Times of Botchan written by Natsuo Sekikawa, illustrated by Jiro Taniguchi
The Strange Tale of Panorama Island by Suehiro Maruo
Two of Hearts by Kano Miyamoto
Utsubora: The Story of a Novelist by Asumiko Nakamura
La Vie en Rose by Sakurako Yamada
Welcome to the N.H.K. by Kendi Oiwa
Yukarism by Chika Shiomi

The above list isn’t quite comprehensive, but it does include most of the manga available in print that I know of that have characters who are writers. While compiling the list I was struck by how many boys’ love titles feature authors. I’m not entirely sure why that profession seems to be particularly popular in that genre, but there you have it. Thank you to everyone who shared your personal favorites with me; I hope to see you again for the next giveaway!

Manga Giveaway: Ema Toyama Twosome

June is almost here, and May is almost through, so it’s once again time to hold a manga giveaway at Experiments in Manga! This month you will all have the opportunity to win not one, but two manga created by Ema Toyama and released in English by Kodansha Comics: Manga Dogs, Volume 1 and Missions of Love, Volume 1. As always, the giveaway is open worldwide!

Manga Dogs, Volume 1Missions of Love, Volume 1

So far, mangaka Ema Toyama has had three of her original series released in English: I Am Here!, Manga Dogs, and Missions of Love. She was also one of several contributors involved with Shugo Chara Chan!. My introduction to Toyama’s work was through Missions of Love (which I find to be incredibly addictive with all of its over-the-top melodrama and twisted relationships). The only other manga of hers that I’ve read is the three-volume series Manga Dogs. The two series are very different from each other, but I find it interesting that they both feature young women as protagonists who are creative types. In the case of Missions of Love, Yukina Himuro is a cell phone novelist while in Manga Dogs, Kanna Tezuka is a shoujo mangaka. Though both Yukina and Kanna have other things to deal with in their lives, at least part of each manga series deals with their careers as professional storytellers.

So, you may be wondering, how can you win two volumes of Ema Toyama’s manga?

1) In the comments below, tell me a little about your favorite character in a manga who is an author, novelist, or some other type of writer. (If you’ve never come across one in your reading, 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).

It’s as easy as that! Each person participating in the giveaway can earn up to two entries and has one week to submit comments. If you prefer, or have trouble leaving comments, entries can also be sent via email to phoenixterran(at)gmail(dot)com. I will then post the entry here in your name. The giveaway winner will be randomly selected and announced on June 3, 2015.

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: Ema Toyama Twosome Winner

My Week in Manga: April 13-April 19, 2015

My News and Reviews

Two more in-depth manga reviews were posted at Experiments in Manga last week, and once again they were both for manga. Though, unlike the week before which featured newer manga, last week’s reviews focused on a couple of older titles, one of which is actually out of print. That would be After School Nightmare, Volume 3 by Setona Mizushiro. This is the last volume in the series that I had previously read before embarking on my monthly horror manga review project, so I’m particularly curious to see where the manga goes from here. But, since next month’s horror manga review will be Mushishi, Volume 3, I’ll have to wait until June to find out. The other review posted last week was for Yak Haibara’s Sengoku Basara: Samurai Legends, Omnibus 1. Technically, it’s an adaptation of the Sengoku Basara 2 video game, but no familiarity with the games are needed and it stands alone as its own work. In addition to the incredibly over-the-top and badass characters and fight sequences, there’s actually some legitimate history mixed in as well. I find the series highly entertaining.

There wasn’t a lot in the way of manga news and announcements that I saw last week. (Granted, I was pretty busy paying attention to more pressing matters). If I missed something noteworthy, please do let me know! I would, however, like to mention Vertical’s account, which continues provide a bit of fun in addition to excellent insight into the North American manga industry. I was particularly interested in the answer to a question about the impact of libraries on book sales since I happen to be a librarian. Also, Seven Seas has an account, too, which I tend to forget about for some reason. Elsewhere online, Organization Anti-Social Geniuses has an interesting article about a used bookstore owner who nabbed more than 400 volumes of manga without even really knowing a thing about manga. Finally, two of Deb Aoki’s manga articles for Publishers Weekly were recently released from behind a paywall: Manga Publishing Update, Spring 2015 and Manga Publishers Try Games, Erotica to Grow Market.

Quick Takes

Karneval, Omnibus 1Karneval, Omnibus 1 (equivalent to Volumes 1-2) by Touya Mikanagi. Gareki is a fairly successful thief, but when a burglary doesn’t exactly go according to plan, he becomes the accidental protector of a strange young man called Nai and the both of them suddenly find themselves drawing the attention of Circus, a powerful association charged with dealing with criminals and situations regular law enforcement can’t handle. When Karneval was licensed, a resounding cry went up from its fans. I can definitely understand the appeal of the series. It has action and adventure, some sweetness as well as darkness, heroes with tragic backstories, mysteries and secret (and not-so-secret) organizations, quirky and attractive characters and designs (mostly men, but a few women as well), and so on. But although I thoroughly enjoyed parts of the first omnibus of Karneval, it didn’t quite grab my attention as much as I was hoping, or expecting, it would. I think this may be because the worldbuilding doesn’t feel as cohesive as I would like it to be. Mikanagi is smashing together some interesting and engaging elements and ideas, but they’re not quite meshing yet. However, I suspect the connections will become clearer as the series progresses.

Manga Dogs, Volume 3Manga Dogs, Volume 3 by Ema Toyama. The third volume of Manga Dogs is also its last. It’s an amusing gag manga, but I think three volumes is just about right for the series. If it was stretched out for too much longer, it would likely become tiresome. Manga Dogs requires a high-tolerance for shallow characters, foolish comedy, and general absurdity. Although there is something of an overarching storyline, Manga Dogs tends to be fairly episodic, relying on the jokes to carry the manga more so than the characters or plot. As for the plot, at this point in the series Tezuka’s manga Teach Me Buddha is unsurprisingly in danger of cancellation as is the school’s manga program. Tezuka and the three air-headed male students who have attached themselves to her must work together in order to stop that from happening. Anyone who has read the first two volumes of Manga Dogs probably already has a pretty good idea of how well that works. I find Manga Dogs to be funniest when the humor directly ties into the manga industry or the mangaka’s creative processes. Although it’s taken quite seriously by Tezuka and the others, I’d actually be interested in reading Teach Me Buddha as a parody of shoujo manga; it has the potential to be funnier than Manga Dogs manages to be.

Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Volume 1Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Volume 1 by Miki Yoshikawa. I first learned about Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches when it was added to Crunchyroll Manga. I heard very good things about it at the time, and it sounded like something that I would enjoy, so I was very pleased when Kodansha Comics picked it up for print release. I’ll admit, I tend to enjoy body-swap manga, especially when there is some gender-swapping involved. (Which, now that I think about it, is probably more often the case than not.) Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches is one of the most entertaining examples of that particular subgenre that I’ve read recently. At this point, the series is definitely being played as a comedy. The trigger for the body-swapping is kissing, and there certainly is plenty of that in the first volume. Girls kissing guys. Guys kissing other guys. (Perhaps later on in the series, there will even be girls kissing other girls.) There are kisses for everyone! Not unexpectedly, there is also a bit of fanservice. However, for the most part it doesn’t tend to be overly sexualized and generally makes sense within context of the manga. Yoshikawa used to be an assistant to Fairy Tail‘s Hiro Mashima; some of that influence can easily be seen in the artwork of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches.

My Week in Manga: March 9-March 13, 2015

My News and Reviews

Two reviews at Experiments in Manga last week! First up, I finally got around to reading Kouhei Kadono’s Boogiepop at Dawn. Technically the sixth Boogiepop novel, and the fourth to be released in English, it actually serves as a prequel to the entire series. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read of the Boogiepop series and found Boogiepop at Dawn to be particularly satisfying. I’m hoping to do a Boogiepop Adaptation Adventures post once I have a chance to read the manga and watch the anime and live-action adaptations. The second review posted last week was of Yuki Urushibara’s Mushishi, Volume 2. Mushishi is one of my favorite manga, and the second volume includes some of my favorite stories in the series. The review is part of my monthly manga review project focusing on horror manga. Next month will feature Setona Mizushiro’s After School Nightmare again.

Sparkler Monthly has been getting some good press recently, which I’m happy to see. Jason Thompson delves into the comics side of the magazine in the most recent House of 1000 Manga. Lianne Sentar was interviewed by Brigid Alverson at Robot 6 about Marketing to the Female Gaze. Sparkler has been adding a bunch of new comics lately. The most recent is actually a rescue from the closure of Inkblazers, Heldrad’s Orange Junk. More comics and more print releases will be announced in the very near future (I’m particularly looking forward to the Tokyo Demons Cherry Bomb collection), so now is a better time than ever to consider becoming a member to support the creators and the rest of the Sparkler team.

Last week was apparently “manga week” at ICv2, which included interviews with Dark Horse’s Mike Richardson (Part 1 and Part 2) and Viz Media’s Kevin Hamric (Part 1 and Part 2). The Comics Journal has been collecting and posting tributes to the late Yoshihiro Tatsumi, and Ryan Holmberg has written an in-depth article on Tatsumi for the site as well. Elsewhere online, Comics Forum posted Masafumi Monden’s article Shōjo Manga Research: The Legacy of Women Critics and Their Gender-Based Approach and Reflecting Lights has a nice publisher spotlight on Vertical Comics. Finally, Sean has a roundup of all the manga and light novel licenses that have recently been announced.

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan: Before the Fall, Volume 3Attack on Titan: Before the Fall, Volume 3 written by Ryo Suzukaze and illustrated by Satoshi Shiki. An adaptation of a series of light novels, Before the Fall is a prequel to Hajime Isayama’s immensely popular and successful manga Attack on Titan. It takes place well before the original series, during a time in which humanity is facing the Titans, but has yet to really find a way to effectively deal with them. At this point, the Survey Corps at least knows how to destroy the Titans, but it is lacking the resources—specifically the three-dimensional maneuvering gear—that greatly aids in actually accomplishing the feat. Apparently, as the extra manga at the end of the third volume implies, Kuklo will somehow be involved in reclaiming that crucial bit of technology. However, most of the volume is devoted to the intense battle and tragic outcomes of the Survey Corps and Kuklo’s unfortunate confrontation with a Titan outside of the walls. There’s some plot and story development as well, but the action takes precedence this time around. In general, I don’t find Before the Fall to be quite as compelling as the original Attack on Titan, but it is interesting to see more of the overall worldbuilding and backstory that has been created for the franchise as a whole.

Cage of Eden, Volume 16Cage of Eden, Volume 16 by Yoshinobu Yamada. It’s been a while since I’ve read any of Cage of Eden, though the sixteenth volume seems to be pretty par for the course. I enjoy a good survival story, but the manga is just not as enthralling as I want it to be. It doesn’t help that the fanservice tends to be narratively awkward; the sixteenth volume includes not one but two naked bath scenes of buxom middle school girls that interrupt the flow of the story. As for the story itself, there have been a few interesting developments. Having split into separate groups to investigate the spire and the pyramid on the island, the survivors have been able to begin piecing together exactly where they are as they uncover more and more secrets. Considering the number of deaths in Cage of Eden so far, it’s probably a safe bet that not everyone is going to survive to the end of the series. Especially taking into account the fact that the dinosaurs and other beasts aren’t the only dangerous creatures on the island. Humans can also be extremely deadly. And manipulative, too. It’s this menacing human element that the sixteenth volume of Cage of Eden focuses on. Trying to survive on the island has definitely taken its toll on the characters both mentally and physically.

Missions of Love, Volume 10Missions of Love, Volume 10 by Ema Toyama. To be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Missions of Love nearly as much as I do, but here I am, ten volumes later, still completely hooked on the series’ melodrama and exceptionally twisted train wrecks of relationships. And there are some pretty momentous developments in those relationships in this volume, specifically a confession of love that can’t be mistaken or ignored. It seems as thought the time is drawing very near in which Yukina will have to choose either Shigure or Akira, but she’s only now realizing that might mean losing one of them completely. Partially in an attempt to avoid having to make an immediate decision, she challenges them both with a mission: to take her on a date as boyfriend and girlfriend. Missions of Love has always been suggestive, often skirting the edge of what would be deemed appropriate behavior and occasionally crossing over the line, and the tenth volume is no different. The relationships in the series aren’t healthy ones and never have been. Seeing as how many of them were initially based on manipulation and blackmail that probably isn’t too surprising, but it is interesting to see the characters develop legitimate feelings of affection for one another. They just don’t always go about expressing it in the best fashion.

xxxHolic, Omnibus 1xxxHolic, Omnibuses 1-2 (equivalent to Volumes 1-6) by CLAMP. I read the first few volumes of xxxHolic when the manga was originally being published by Del Rey Manga but never got around to finishing the series before it went out of print, so I’m happy that Kodansha Comics is releasing the omnibuses. xxxHolic is a manga of extremes. One moment it’s ridiculously comedic and the next it’s deadly serious. The manga can be a strange mix of humor and horror; sometimes the balance between those two aspects of the series works better than others. I like the incorporation of yokai in xxxHolic since I have a particular interest in yokai. Generally, CLAMP’s renditions of the traditional stories are much more contemporary and free-form in nature. Yokai and folk tales serve more as a source of loose inspiration rather than a rigid structure for the manga to build upon. xxxHolic and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle are directly related to each other, although they can be read separately without to much of a problem. So far, I find the Tsubasa references to be some of the least interesting in xxxHolic, but I do get a kick out of some of the throwaway nods to other CLAMP manga. For example, the leads from Legal Drug make a brief appearance with a minor (yet arguably crucial) role selling a hangover cure.

My Week in Manga: January 12-January 18, 2015

My News and Reviews

I posted two reviews at Experiments in Manga last week. The first review was of Manazuru, Hiromi Kawakami’s first novel to be translated into English. It’s a slightly surreal but moving work about memory, loss, letting go, and moving on. I had previously read and enjoyed some of Kawakami’s short stories, but Manazuru is her first long-form work that I’ve read. The other review posted last week was a part of my monthly horror manga review project. In December I took a look at took a look at Setona Mizushiro’s After School Nightmare, Volume 1, but this month I started digging into Yuki Urushibara’s award-winning Mushishi, which happens to be one of my favorite manga series. (Next month will be After School Nightmare‘s turn once again, and I’ll continue to alternate between the series.)

On to other interesting news and reading! Sparkler Monthly has a new subscription model for the new year, which means even more of its content is now free. (But if you like what you see, please consider becoming a member!) Kodansha Comics announced several new licenses, including a new series from Blade of the Immortal‘s Hiroaki Samura among other intriguing manga. Amazon leaked Vertical Comics’ most recent acquisition announcement, Hajime Segawa’s Tokyo ESP. And speaking of Vertical, here’s a list of Vertical manga that may be going out of print in the near future. And completely unrelated, Gayumbos has an interview with Kazuhide Ichikawa, one of the creators featured in Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It.

Finally, I wanted to draw everyone’s attention to the Female Goth Mangaka Carnival which is currently under way and will continue through the end of January. Hosted by the The Beautiful World, which previously hosted the Kaori Yuki Manga Moveable Feast, the Carnival is focusing on Fujiwara Kaoru, Kusumoto Maki, Mitsukazu Mihara, Junko Mizuno, Asumiko Nakamura and their works. I have a few things in mind for the Carnival, including a spotlight on Mitsukazu Mihara, a manga giveaway that ties into the Carnival, and a review of Asumiko Nakamura’s Utsubora. Assuming all goes according to plan, my Carnival posts should start showing up by Friday.

Quick Takes

Ani-Imo, Volume 1Ani-Imo, Volume 1 by Haruko Kurumatani. I often enjoy body-swap manga, but I was somewhat wary of Ani-Imo. I’ll admit, the first volume actually wasn’t as terrible as I anticipated it would be. There were even parts of it that I legitimately liked. Still, overall I really can’t say that I enjoyed the manga. There’s a lot about Ani-Imo that frankly makes me uncomfortable. I’m actually not bothered by the potential incest itself (although the manga’s excuse that makes it not really incest seems awfully convenient and not particularly believable). However, I intensely disliked the doctor in the manga. He comes across as extremely predatory and unfortunately his bisexuality is used to emphasize that point. Also, the young women in the series, despite being high schoolers, look more like elementary grade students, which makes the sexual overtones of Ani-Imo even harder to take. Some of the manga’s creepiness I’m sure is intentional, but since the series seems to be trying to be a comedy. The balance of the series’ tone doesn’t seem quite right and the manga ends up being a bit off-putting.

Manga Dogs, Volume 2Manga Dogs, Volume 2 by Ema Toyama. Since Manga Dogs is more of a gag manga than anything else, there isn’t really much of a driving plot to the series. Instead there’s the initial setup (a high school with a new, but abysmally supported manga program) and the introduction of the main players (Tezuka and the three classmates who have attached themselves to her, as well as a small handful of supporting cast members) which serve as the starting point for all of the hijinks in the series. I’m not really sure where Manga Dogs is heading, or even if it is heading anywhere, but I do find it amusing. Granted, much of the humor depends on a reader having a deeper interest in and understanding of manga and its creation than the casual fan might generally possess. The other major source of the series’ comedy are the goofball antics of Tezuka’s enthusiastic yet delusional devotees—Specs, Prince, and Dream Kid. But, surprisingly enough, although they’re usually air-headed idiots, every once in a while the three of them actually do exhibit some common sense.

Witchcraft Works, Volume 1Witchcraft Works, Volumes 1-2 by Ryu Mizunagi. Witches seem to be showing up in anime and manga more and more often these days, but I don’t have a particular interest in them. I almost passed over Witchcraft Works because of that. But since it’s a manga being released by Vertical Comics, I was a little more inclined to check it out. That and I generally liked the artwork; the cover in particular is striking, but the interior art looks great, too (even if some of the character designs tend to be absurdly buxom). So far, Witchcraft Works is a delightfully strange and quirky manga, it’s ridiculousness and weirdness making it a lot of fun. I’m especially enjoying the reversals in the usual gender roles—Honoka, the male lead, is the one who needs saving and protecting while Ayaka, the female lead, is the strong and stoic hero. (I also love that she’s at least a head taller than him.) Ayaka is an incredibly powerful fire witch which means many of the action sequences are done and over with before they’ve really had the chance to begin, but at least she puts an end to things with flair. And often literally with flare.

TaishoBaseballGirlsTaisho Baseball Girls directed by Takashi Ikehata. Although I’ve discovered that I generally enjoy sports anime, I was particularly interested in Taisho Baseball Girls because of its historical setting. Not many series take place during the Taisho era, a time period in which Japan was becoming increasingly Westernized and there was some societal anxiety caused by that. Although the twelve-episode anime is based on an ongoing series of light novels written by Atsushi Kagurazaka, it tells a complete and very satisfying story. A group of nine high school girls band together to form a baseball team in order to challenge an all-boys team and prove that women’s place in the world shouldn’t be and isn’t limited to the household. The problem is that very few of the girls actually have any experience playing baseball. Taisho Baseball Girls is a charming and heartwarming series without being overly sentimental. Some of the girls’ family members, friends, and teachers oppose what they’re doing and their unladylike behavior while others are incredibly supportive of them and their hard work.