My Week in Manga: December 22-December 28, 2014

My News and Reviews

The end of the year is drawing near and because of the holidays I’ve been traveling quite a bit to see family. Despite being in a part of the country with less than ideal and spotty Internet access for most of the week (middle-of-nowhere Ohio), I still managed to post a few things. The honor of the final in-depth manga review of the year goes to Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It, one of my most anticipated releases of 2014. Technically it’s more than just manga—the anthology includes photography, essays, creator profiles, and more. It’s a fantastic work, and highly recommended for anyone even remotely interested in gay manga. Last week I also posted my list of notable releases from 2014. Massive is on the list, as are many other works, including comics and prose in addition to manga. It’s the second year I’ve done a list like this and I enjoyed making it, so I think it’ll probably become an annual feature.

One of the other notable manga that made my list was Makoto Yukimura’s marvelous Vinland Saga. Sadly, Kodansha Comics announced on Twitter that publication of the series has been temporarily suspended. No official explanation or reason has been given at this time (although there has been plenty of speculation), but Kodansha hopes to have more to say about the situation come the new year. Elsewhere online, Mangabrog has posted a lengthy translation of Brutus magazine’s interview with Hajime Isayama from its November 2014 Attack on Titan special issue. And although it’s not exactly manga news, the Smithsonian has begun putting the Pulverer Collection online—an impressive collection of Japanese illustrated books—along with related essays and videos. There were probably some other interesting things happening last week, but like I mentioned I’ve been traveling and visiting with family, so let me know if I missed something!

Quick Takes

Missions of Love, Volume 7Missions of Love, Volumes 7-9 by Ema Toyama. It’s been a little while since I’ve read Missions of Love, but it didn’t take me very long at all to fall back into the twisted relationship drama of the series. I’m actually glad that I had a few volumes saved up to read all at once since I tend to speed through the manga so quickly. Missions of Love is a series that has me easily turning page after page just to see how audacious the storyline can be without actually crossing the line into something blatantly indecent. The series is smutty and extremely suggestive. The characters are terrible people, selfish and manipulative. Their relationships are a twisted, tangled mess. But I can’t seem to turn away from the outrageousness of the series. Several confessions of love are made over the course of these particular volumes which only serve to complicate further an already complicated situation. And on top of that, Yukina’s preschool teacher, who unintentionally traumatized her when she was his student, is back in the picture which creates even more turmoil. Missions of Love certainly isn’t the most wholesome manga series, but it is an addicting one.

Punch Up!, Volume 1Punch Up!, Volumes 1-4 by Shiuko Kano. Although Punch Up! is a technically spinoff of Play Boy Blues, which was never completely released in English, knowledge of the earlier series isn’t necessary; Punch Up! stands perfectly well on its own. Kouta is a young but skilled construction worker who, thanks to a missing cat, ends up becoming the roommate of Motoharu, a successful and sought-after architect. Eventually, and not too surprisingly since this is a boys’ love manga, the two of them hook up as well. And since they both enjoy sex, it’s a frequent occurrence in the series. (One of Motoharu’s most prominent and amusing character traits is how horny he is.) Punch Up! also features a lengthy amnesia arc. Normally this isn’t a plot device that I’m particularly fond of, but it actually does provide for some interesting character development in the manga, so I’m a little more forgiving than I might otherwise be. Punch Up! has a fair amount of humor to it and a large cast of interesting secondary characters. And cats. For the most part I enjoyed the series, but there were a few things—like the treatment of Kouta’s older transgender sibling—that left something to be desired.

Silver SpoonSilver Spoon, Season 2 directed by Kotomi Deai. It’s unlikely that Hiromu Arakawa’s award-winning manga series Silver Spoon will ever be licensed in English (although I would love to see it released), but at least the anime adaptation is available. I thoroughly enjoyed the first season of Silver Spoon and the second season is just as good if not better. Silver Spoon is a wonderful series. For me, part of the anime’s appeal is that it actually reminds me of home—I grew up in a small, rural farming community—and I can greatly empathize with the plights of the series’ characters and their families when tough decisions must be made. The importance of family is actually one of the second season’s particular emphases. Farming is not an easy or forgiving profession and deserves much more respect than it is often given. Silver Spoon doesn’t sugarcoat the harsh realities of agricultural work, but at the same time it isn’t overly pessimistic, either. There are humorous, cheerful, heartwarming, and even inspiring elements that nicely balance out the anime’s seriousness and occasional tragedy and sadness. Silver Spoon has great characters and character growth. I only wish that there was more of the series!

My Week in Manga: December 1-December 7, 2014

My News and Reviews

There were a few different things posted at Experiments in Manga last week. First up was the announcement of the Seven Seas Sampler manga giveaway winner. The post also includes a list of some favorite titles published or soon to be published by Seven Seas. The honor of the first in-depth manga review for December goes to Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, Volume 7 by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko. Even if you’re not particularly interested in Gundam (I’ll readily admit to not being a devotee of the franchise, myself), I’d still highly recommend the series to readers looking for some great science fiction manga. The Origin is consistently great, and Vertical’s edition remains one of the best-looking manga releases in English. Also, over the weekend, I posted November’s Bookshelf Overload for those of you interested in what made it onto my shelves last month. (Granted, it doesn’t all actually fit on my shelves at the moment, thus the “overload.” There are a few strategically placed piles and boxes in my room, too…)

Elsewhere online, Digital Manga has a survey soliciting Tezuka Kickstarter Feedback. According to a recent e-mail newsletter, Digital Manga is expecting to launch a Kickstarter project sometime in 2015 to reprint Unico, Swallowing the Earth, and Barbara, all of which have previously been Kickstarted. Philip of Eeeper’s Choice expresses some of the concerns over these recent developments. Also interesting, a Publishers Weekly article about Digital Manga’s recent Kickstarter efforts notes that Digital Manga is apparently not planning on actually distributing the Tezuka manga outside of direct sales and the library market. This means that individuals who want the manga will either have to back a successful Kickstarter project, or purchase them directly from the publisher. I’ve been extremely busy at work lately (my immediate supervisor retired on Friday, which more or less leaves me in charge of my unit for the time being), so I wasn’t able to follow much more than the Digital Manga drama, but I did see that Viz made a new license announcement: Junji Ito’s Fragments of Horror! And speaking of licenses, Reverse Thieves has compiled a list of all of the manga, light novels, and anime licenses that were announced in 2014.

Quick Takes

Angel Sanctuary, Volume 11Angel Sanctuary, Volumes 11-15 by Kaori Yuki. It took more than half of the series, but Angel Sanctuary has finally grabbed a hold of me. I’ve enjoyed Yuki’s artwork since the beginning, I’ve always liked the series’ exploration of overarching themes of love, destiny, and personal responsibility, and I can certainly appreciate the tremendous amount of research Yuki has put into creating her mythology, but the story itself has been somewhat of an unfocused mess up until this point. Now things are starting to pull together in a very satisfying way though. I’m actually looking forward to reading the conclusion of Angel Sanctuary instead of just feeling obligated to finish the manga. It’s getting really good and the drama is epic. Yuki still has the tendency to be a little haphazard in her narrative structure, but the series has become much easier to follow. It probably helps that her editors wouldn’t allow her to introduce any more new characters. The cast of Angel Sanctuary is huge, and so it’s understandably challenging to present all of their backstories while maintaining the series’ forward momentum. Fortunately, as it approaches its turbulent end, Angel Sanctuary seems to have found its center and drive.

Manga Dogs, Volume 1Manga Dogs, Volume 1 by Ema Toyama. Up until now, the only other manga that I’ve read by Toyama is her ongoing series Missions of Love, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Manga Dogs. Turns out it’s a very different series, probably best described as gag manga about making manga and the manga industry. While for me it was never laugh-out-loud hilarious, I was generally amused and consistently entertained by the first volume of Manga Dogs. It’s silly fun. Even though she’s only fifteen, Kanna Tezuka recently made her manga debut. Granted, her series isn’t doing so well and is in danger of cancellation. Her high school has a new major specializing in manga, though it’s incredibly poorly run, which is where three pretty boys attach themselves to her. Fumio Akatsuka, Fujio Fuji, and Shota Ishinomori are more interested in the fame and fortune they associate with successful mangaka rather than the sweat and stress it takes to get there, though. As can be seen with the characters’ names, Manga Dogs has plenty of nods and references to established mangaka, but most of the humor comes from the three young men’s misguided efforts to become famous artists without actually putting in any effort.

Prophecy, Volume 1Prophecy, Volume 1 by Tetsuya Tsutsui. Before reading the first volume of Prophecy I actually didn’t know much about the manga except that Vertical was approached to publish it directly by the author. Prophecy is a mature, chilling, and realistic series dealing with cyber crime, social media, how quickly people can turn on one another, and the terrible things that can be done under the guise of anonymity. A small group of vigilantes are taking matters into their own hands, viciously striking out against those who have trespassed against others online. While their methods are extreme, their motivation is easy to understand and even empathize with; the world can be a cruel, cruel place. It’s an entirely different sort of case than the members Anti Cyber Crimes Division of the Metropolitan Police are usually involved in. Specializing in internet crime, they more commonly deal with copyright and intellectual property infringement. But in this particular war of information, people’s lives are at stake, not just their livelihoods. The first volume of Prophecy was exceptional. In my opinion, it’s one of the strongest series to debut this year. I’ll definitely be picking up the rest of the manga.

My Week in Manga: March 17-March 23, 2014

My News and Reviews

Experiments in Manga featured two manga reviews as well as something a little different last week. First up, I took a look at Saki Nakagawa’s Attack on Titan: Junior High, Omnibus 1. It’s a rather absurd and ridiculous series, but I was amused. The manga does require some familiarity with both Attack on Titan and Attack on Titan fandom to fully appreciate it, though. Not too long ago, I read Jeffrey Angles’ Writing the Love of Boys which introduced me to the work of Kaita Murayama. Not much about Murayama has been written in English, and only two of his short stories have ever been translated, but I was interested in learning more about him and his work. The result was a Spotlight on Kaita Murayama. (I’m actually very happy with how the post turned out!) Finally, as the actual March Madness begins, I posted the penultimate review in my own Manga March Madness—Real, Volume 4 by Takehiko Inoue, which delves more deeply into Togawa’s past. Real is a fantastic series, and one of my favorite manga.

And now for a few things found online! Vertical’s tumblr often has something interesting to read. Last week’s response to a question about licensing old Tokyopop titles was particularly informative. I enjoy House of 1000 Manga, but the most recent column focuses on Usamaru Furuya and his work, which I’m always happy to read more about. Sequart has a great interview with Kumar Sivasubramanian, the translator of some of my very favorite manga. Gay Manga posted an excellent article about the censorship of a billboard designed by artist Poko Murata promoting HIV awareness which also addresses some of the history of gay artwork in Japan. And in other censorship news, it looks like the manga series Barefoot Gen, after running into some trouble last year, may end up being banned again in parts of Japan.

Quick Takes

Brody's Ghost, Book 4Brody’s Ghost, Book 4 by Mark Crilley. It’s been quite a while since I’ve read any of Brody’s Ghost, but I do enjoy the series. Each installment is frustratingly thin though (each is less than a hundred pages) and only one book is released per year. Once the story is finished, I’d love to see Brody’s Ghost collected into a single omnibus. I think the series would benefit from being read in larger chunks or all at once. Which is not to say the individual books aren’t enjoyable. Each one has a great mix of action, story, and character development. I enjoy Crilley’s artwork, too. I also enjoy the bonus content that Crilley includes, outlining some of his design choices and storytelling decisions. In this particular volume of Brody’s Ghost, Brody is doing everything that he can to track down the Penny Murderer, including impersonating a detective. His ex-girlfriend, who he still cares about, may very well be the next victim and he is desperate to prevent that from happening. Things are even more complicated now that he has discovered that Talia—the ghost who pressured him into the investigation—has been lying to him.

FlutterFlutter by Momoko Tenzen. I appreciate it when a boys’ love manga includes a character who is actually openly gay, so that aspect of Flutter particularly appealed to me. Mizuki is that man—a respected and skilled project leader at his company. He presents himself as someone who is extremely well put together, but that public face is deliberately crafted to hide his weaknesses and insecurities. Asada is one of Mizuki’s coworkers. He finds himself inexplicably drawn to Mizuki. After the two of them are assigned to the same project they get to know each other, first as friends and then as something possibly more as Mizuki begins to drop his guard around Asada. Flutter is a slowly paced and relatively quiet manga, which is somewhat surprising as Mizuki’s backstory is fairly melodramatic. However, that melodrama is completely lacking from Mizuki and Asada’s somewhat awkward relationship; I enjoyed watching it develop. Asada’s personality is very kind and candid and his inability to hide what he is thinking and feeling is adorable. This open honesty is just what Mizuki needs, whether he realizes it or not.

Missions of Love, Volume 1Missions of Love, Volumes 1-4 by Ema Toyama. I’ll admit it, I’m addicted to Missions of Love. I actually began reading the series with the fifth and sixth volumes, but I enjoyed them enough that I wanted to go back and read it from the beginning to learn how the whole mess between Yukina, Shigure, Akira, and Mami came to be. Missions of Love isn’t the most believable series and some of it is admittedly silly, but I don’t think I would enjoy the manga as much as I do if Toyama took a more serious or realistic approach. The story itself might be somewhat ridiculous, but the complicated relationships and emotions are real enough. Ultimately, that’s what appeals to me about Missions of Love—the intensity of the characters’ feelings paired with a plot that can be over-the-top. In the beginning, Yukina and Shigure don’t even like each other which is what allows them to resort to blackmail and manipulation. But as the series progresses, they come to care for and rely on each other in a way that is incredibly twisted. All of the relationships in Missions of Love are like that. I can’t help but want to watch the emotional chaos and turmoil unfold.

The Mysterious Underground MenThe Mysterious Underground Men by Osamu Tezuka. The Mysterious Underground Men is the second volume in Ryan Holmberg’s Ten-Cent Manga series which explores classic manga influenced by classic American comics and cartoons. Tezuka, often called the grandmaster of contemporary manga and anime, has had many of his works released in English. Granted, only a small fraction of his total output has been translated. As much as I appreciate Tezuka’s manga and his importance as a creator, I’m actually much more interested in the work of other classic mangaka who are less likely to be licensed. Initially, I wasn’t even planning on reading The Mysterious Underground Men. But because I was so impressed by the first volume of Ten-Cent Manga, I decided to give it a try after all. I’m glad that I did, not so much for the manga itself (which I did enjoy), but more for the supplementary material—Tezuka’s afterword, in which he describes The Mysterious Underground Men as his first story manga, and Holmberg’s essay which puts the manga into historical context, specifically noting its Western pop culture influences.

Time of EveTime of Eve directed by Yasuhiro Yoshiura. It’s not a secret that I have a fondness for stories about androids, so it probably shouldn’t be too surprising that I liked Time of Eve, a six episode anime series that was first released online. The series revolves around an unusual cafe, the titular Time of Eve, where humans and androids can interact while ignoring the laws that normally separate them. The cafe has only one rule, that there is to be no discrimination between the two groups. Rikuo discovers the cafe while looking into the unexpected behavior of “Sammy,” his household’s android. Along with his close friend Masaki, Rikuo’s assumptions about androids and how humans treat them are challenged as he gets to know the other customers at the cafe. Time of Eve doesn’t break any new ground when it comes to androids and makes good use of Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics. I’ve read and watched so much android fiction that nothing about the series surprised me (including what were supposed to be dramatic reveals), but I still found the anime to be immensely enjoyable.

My Week in Manga: January 20-January 26, 2014

My News and Reviews

Last week I declared it to be Usamaru Furuya Week here at Experiments in Manga. Ostensibly, it was to celebrate Furuya-sensei’s birthday, but mostly it was just an excuse for me to finally get around to reviewing more of his manga. I have now written an in-depth review of all of Furuya’s manga currently available in English. As for last week’s Furuya reviews, I have for your reading pleasure Short Cuts, Volume 2 (the final volume of one of my favorite gag manga), the second and third volumes of Genkaku Picasso (probably the most accessible entry into Furuya’s English manga), and the second and third volumes of No Longer Human (an excellent adaptation of Osamu Dazai’s novel No Longer Human). I’d love to see more of Furuya’s work translated. Although there are no immediate plans, I know that Vertical has expressed interest, so I am hopeful that someday we’ll see more.

Elsewhere online, manga translator and scholar Matt Thorn has an excellent piece Regarding Inio Asano’s gender identity. (He also talks a bit about his own gender identity.) And speaking of the complexities of gender, sexuality, and translation, a few months back I attended the lecture “Out Gays” or “Shameless Gays”? What Gets Lost, and What is Gained, when U.S. Queer Theory is Translated into Japanese? and posted some random musings about queer theory, Japanese literature, and translation. Well, the video of the lecture was posted earlier this month and is freely available to view. The most recent ANNCast, Vertical Vortex, features Ed Chavez from Vertical and included a license announcement for Takuma Morishige’s comedy manga My Neighbor Seki. In other licensing news, Seven Seas has acquired Kentarō Satō’s horror manga Magical Girl Apocalypse. Also, Seven Seas will soon be announcing licenses for a new yuri manga and a doujinshi (which is very unusual in English). Finally, Shawne Kleckner, the president of Right Stuf (one of my favorite places to find manga), recently participated in a Reddit Ask Me Anything.

Quick Takes

The Drifting Classroom, Volume 1The Drifting Classroom, Volumes 1-3 by Kazuo Umezu. An award-winning horror manga from the early 1970s, The Drifting Classroom is a series that I’ve been meaning to read. After a bizarre earthquake, Yamato Elementary School along with more than 860 students and staff disappear, leaving behind an enormous hole in the ground and very few clues as to what has happened. From the students’ perspective, everything outside the school has been turned into a wasteland. The situation they find themselves in may be extreme and unbelievable, but the consequences that follow are terrifyingly probable. The series’ setup allows Umezu to freely explore humanity’s darkness. The Drifting Classroom isn’t frightening because of the unknown; the true horror comes from how people react out of fear to the unexplainable. There are immediate concerns for survival, such as the lack of food and water, but even more problematic is the violence the erupts among the school’s survivors. The Drifting Classroom is an intense horror and survival manga with extremely dark psychological elements. I’ll definitely be reading more.

Missions of Love, Volume 6Missions of Love, Volume 6 by Ema Toyama. I started reading Missions of Love in the middle of the series. Although there is some background information that I am missing, I was still able to pick up on the major plot points fairly quickly. I really should go back and read the earlier volumes, though, as I’m enjoying the series much more than I anticipated. None of the characters are particularly nice people; their relationships are a twisted and tangled mess because of how they are all manipulating one another. And in the process, they’re confusing their own personal feelings as well. Missions of Love is intentionally scandalous and deliberately suggestive. However, it’s not exactly what I would call fanservice since it is meant more for the story and characters’ sakes rather than for the readers’. There are intimate moments and scenes of extreme vulnerability that challenge appropriateness but never quite cross the line, although Toyama frequently pushes the limits. I’m just waiting for something really terrible to happen. At this point, I can’t imagine that any of the characters in Missions of Love will be able to make it through the series unscathed.

Red Colored ElegyRed Colored Elegy by Seiichi Hayashi. Another manga from the early 1970s, originally serialized in the alternative manga magazine Garo, Red Colored Elegy is only one of two volumes of Hayashi’s work available in English. The story follows Ichiro and Sachiko, two young animators in love and living together, but who are struggling to make ends meet as life slowly drives them apart. Hayashi’s artwork is deceptively simple and often free of backgrounds, placing the emphasis on the characters and their tumultuous lives and relationships. He conveys a tremendous amount of emotion through a minimalist, almost stream-of-conscious approach. Hayashi’s style in Red Colored Elegy can make it feel a bit disjointed from page to page, as though it were a collection of closely related vignettes rather than a single continuing story, but the overall melancholic mood created by the manga is consistent. Red Colored Elegy is about falling into and out of love and about pushing through life’s tragedies, both small and large. Emotionally compelling and beautifully crafted, Red Colored Elegy stands up to multiple readings.

Yowamushi PedalYowamushi Pedal, Episodes 1-14 directed by Osamu Nabeshima. The Yowamushi Pedal anime series is based on an ongoing manga by Wataru Watanabe. Sakamichi Onoda is an otaku trying to revive the anime club at his new high school, but he quite unexpectedly finds himself caught up in the bicycle racing club instead. He has some natural talent at cycling—his frequent 90 km trips by bike to Akihabara probably didn’t hurt—but he has had no formal training. That’s about to change, though. The series so far has mostly focused on Onoda and the Sohoku High School racing club. The other teams that they will be facing have only been shown briefly. However, now that Onoda has started to get the basics of cycling down, the other cyclists are becoming more prominent in the story. I particularly like Yowamushi Pedal‘s casting; all of the characters have very distinctive speech patterns and voices which are very entertaining. I’m enjoying the series a great deal. Although I never was a racer and I don’t cycle as much as I used to (once upon a time, it was my primary mode of transportation), Yowamushi Pedal makes me want to get my bike out again.

My Week in Manga: November 11-November 17, 2013

My News and Reviews

Last week was apparently “Blade of the Immortal Week” here at Experiments in Manga. I finally got around to reading and reviewing Blade of the Immortal: Legend of the Sword Demon, a novel written by Junichi Ohsako with illustrations by Hiroaki Samura, which is a re-imagining of the early part of the manga series. Honestly, I was disappointed with it and would only recommend the novel to fellow Blade of the Immortal completists. I also reviewed Blade of the Immortal, Volume 27: Mist on the Spider’s Web. With that review, I have now caught up with the English released of the Blade of the Immortal manga series. And so, I wrote some random musings on Wrapping Up the Blade of the Immortal Monthly Review Project.

And now for a few interesting things found online last week. SciFi Japan has a great interview with Zack Davisson, the translator for the recently released Showa: A History of Japan by Shigeru Mizuki. The School Library Journal’s Good Comics for Kids has an interesting roundtable on Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers & Saints. Takako Shimura’s Wandering Son, Volume 4 is one of the nominees for the 2014 Rainbow Book List. (As is Julie Maroh’s Blue Is the Warmest Color, for that matter.) And finally, Kodansha Comicss participated in Reddit’s Ask Me Anything. I haven’t had the chance to read through all of the comments yet, but what I’ve read so far has been interesting.

Quick Takes

Battling BoyBattling Boy by Paul Pope. I have enjoyed Paul Pope’s work in the past and so I was very excited for the release of Battling Boy, his most recent graphic novel. What I didn’t realize was that it was the first volume in what will be at least a two-volume series, not including the recently announced prequel The Rise of Aurora West. It was a little frustrating to reach the end of Battling Boy just when things were really starting to pull together only to discover that it stops without any sort of conclusion and not even much of a cliffhanger. Still, Battling Boy is a tremendous amount of fun and I did enjoy it. I appreciate Pope’s offbeat humor and slightly surreal and absurd storytelling. The artwork’s pretty great, too. Following the eponymous demigod Battling Boy as he struggles to complete his coming-of-age ceremony and become a hero, the graphic novel is Pope’s original take on the superhero origin story. While he brings his own touch to the genre, there are plenty of influences from other comics (such as Batman and Thor to name two) that can be seen in the work.

Endless RainEndless Rain by Yuuya. I’ve not had particularly good luck with the boys’ love that I’ve been reading recently and Endless Rain hasn’t changed that. I can’t say that I enjoyed this one-shot much at all. Despite having a happy ending (which I am not at all convinced would happen) the manga isn’t particularly pleasant and includes what basically amounts to forced prostitution. The plotting is sloppy, the narrative is difficult to follow and at times doesn’t make any sense, and the characterization is inconsistent. With Hyougami’s vendetta against the Kasuga family and the bad blood between Akira Kasuga and his father Endless Rain had some potential, but Yuuya doesn’t quite pull it off. Maybe if the manga was a little longer it wouldn’t have been such a mess. As it is, Yuuya tries to cram in too much and it ends up rushed. The only part of Endless Rain that I really liked was Iwao—a scarred and severe-looking yakuza who dotes on Akira’s younger brother. Contrary to his appearance, he’s actually a very sweet guy. Unfortunately, he only briefly shows up as a side character.

Missions of Love, Volume 5Missions of Love, Volume 5 by Ema Toyama. Although I am familiar with the basic premise of Missions of Love, I haven’t actually read any of the series until this volume. When I heard the manga described it seemed so trope-filled that I just couldn’t muster up any interest in it despite the rather provocative covers. But now I’m kind of sorry that I missed out on the earlier volumes. Yes, there are quite a few tropes being used, but the twisted romantic relationships are mesmerizing even if they aren’t particularly healthy. None of the characters are really very nice people and their interactions are a mess of lies and manipulation. Missions of Love is very suggestive and scandalous even though all that really happens in this volume (well, except for the emotional exploitation) is a bit of ear nibbling. I can see why others call Missions of Love addicting; I know that I want to read more. The only thing that really annoyed me about Missions of Love is how Yukina’s glasses are drawn (or rather how the aren’t drawn)—the lines used are so minimal that they barely seem to exist at all.

Silver SpoonSilver Spoon directed by Tomohiko Ito. Based on the award-winning manga series Silver Spoon by Hiromu Arakawa (which was in part inspired by her experiences growing up on dairy farm), the Silver Spoon anime adaptation is quite well done. The series is very forthright and honest about where food comes from, including the raising and slaughtering of animals for meat. I know that particular subject will distrub some viewers, but I think it is something that is important for people to understand and the anime does handle it very well. Many of its characters are also conflicted over it. One of the major story lines of Silver Spoon has to do with Hachiken, the protagonist, trying to come to terms with what it is he eats. However, life and the taking of it is treated with immense respect in the series. I myself grew up in a farming community among the cows, corn, and soybeans (my neighbors actually happened to be dairy farmers), and so I could appreciate Silver Spoon‘s realistic portrayal of the challenges faced by those who make their living caring for animals and crops.