Manga Giveaway: Give Me Some Gin Tama!

Happy belated Thanksgiving, and happy end of November! Which means, yes, yet another manga giveaway here at Experiments in Manga! Keeping with tradition (if you can call it happening once before a tradition), November’s giveaway will be a batch of manga. Enter for a chance to win not one, not two, but three volumes of Hideaki Sorachi’s hilarious Gin Tama. As always, the contest is open world-wide!

Comedic manga can be a tough sell since individual readers, and manga, each have their own sense of humor. What is funny for one person is not necessarily funny for another. Finding the perfect match can sometimes be difficult. Among other sorts of humor, I tend to particularly enjoy the absolutely absurd and ridiculous which makes Gin Tama a good fit for me. I mean, it’s got samurai and space aliens, not to mention all of the pop culture parodies and historical references. The series makes me incredibly happy, which is sometimes just what you need when reading manga. So for this giveaway, I’d like to share a bit of Gin Tama love and learn about what sorts of manga make other people laugh.

So, you may be wondering, how can you win the first three volumes of Gin Tama?

1) In the comments below, tell me about your favorite comedy or parody manga.
2) For a second entry, you can simply mention a comedic manga that hasn’t been named yet by me or by someone else.
3) If you’re on Twitter, you can earn a bonus entry by tweeting about the contest. Make sure to include a link to this post and @PhoenixTerran (that’s me).

You can earn up to three entries for this giveaway and you have one week to get your comments in. If you have trouble leaving comments, or if you would prefer, feel free to e-mail me your entries at phoenixterran(at)gmail(dot)com. I’ll make sure the comments are posted. The winner will be randomly selected and announced on December 7, 2011. Good luck!

VERY IMPORTANT: Include some way that I can contact you. This can be an e-mail address, 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: Give Me Some Gin Tama! Winner

My Week in Manga: November 14-November 20, 2011

My News and Reviews

Not much news from me today; I’ve been spending most of my time reading Haruki Murakami’s most recent novel 1Q84 in order to have a review ready for later this week. It’s a long book. Although I’ve been busy reading, I also managed to post two reviews last week. The first was my second in-depth manga review for November, Natsume Ono’s House of Five Leaves, Volume 1. The review was part of the Natsume Ono Manga Moveable Feast, which was held last week. There were some great contributions for a great creator, so you should check it out! I also reviewed Otsuichi’s Shirley Jackson Award nominated short story collection Zoo. If I wasn’t an Otsuichi fan before, I certainly count myself as one now.

Oh! There is one bit of news I want everyone to know about. Bento Books‘ first release, Math Girls by Hiroshi Yuki will be going on sale this Wednesday. Appropriately enough, it’ll be Fibonacci Day. 

Quick Takes

Gin Tama, Volumes 15-23 by Hideaki Sorachi. No matter how bad of a mood I’m in, reading Gin Tama always makes my day a little better. It’s often goofy and absurd and frequently makes me laugh out loud. Sorachi makes fun of himself, the series, current events, popular culture, and even historical figures. The number of references and nods in Gin Tama is astounding. Some are fairly obvious, but I know I’m not catching them all. The cast of characters is huge, but they all get a chance to shine. It saddens me greatly that Viz Media ended the English publication of the series with the twenty-third volume; Gin Tama has reached forty volumes and is still going in Japan. Guess I’ll just have to start watching the anime.

I’ll Give It My All…Tomorrow, Volumes 1-2 by Shunju Aono. Shizuo Oguro is a loser, a likeable loser, but a loser nonetheless. He quits his job at the age of forty and decides to become a manga creator. Except that he doesn’t really have the talent or discipline to succeed. But that doesn’t keep him from trying. I’ll Give It My All…Tomorrow is a slice of life story with short story arcs that hold together well on their own. Perhaps because of this I don’t feel compelled to rush out and read more of the series, I’m not dying to know what happens next, but I really did enjoy these first two volumes quite a bit. I’ll Give It My All…Tomorrow has a subdued, self-effacing humor to it that is wonderfully effective. Plus, Shizuo gets into a fistfight with God.

Only the Ring Finger Knows written by Satoru Kannagi and illustrated by Hotaru Odagiri. So, I may have called Only the Ring Finger Knows major plot twist long before it was actually revealed (granted, there was a fair amount of foreshadowing), but I didn’t really mind because the turn of events made me happy. Senior Yuichi Kazuki is considered by most of the high school to be a perfect man—smart, popular, handsome, and nice to everyone. Everyone, that is, except junior Wataru Fujii after it is discovered that they both wear matching rings. Wataru suddenly finds himself the subject (and source) of a number of rumors, and he’s not too happy with how Kazuki is treating him, either.

To Terra…, Volumes 1-3 by Keiko Takemiya. To Terra… won the first Seiun Award that was given for manga in 1978 and went on to win the Shogakukan Manga Award the following year. After reading the first volume, I wasn’t sure why, but after finishing the series I was convinced. If you like old school space opera, which I do, To Terra… is a great example. The manga starts out a little slow, but quickly picks up the pace once the intense struggle for survival begins between the humans and the Mu—humans with mutations that give them a range of psychic abilities for which they are feared and reviled. It’s sometimes difficult to say whose actions are right and whose are wrong; each side in the conflict has legitimate justifications.

Yawara!: A Fashionable Judo Girl, Episodes 1-21 directed by Hiroko Tokita. I am really loving this series. It’s got great writing, is genuinely funny, and has wonderful characters. Yawara! is based on the manga series by the same name, created by Naoki Urasawa—easily one of my favorite mangaka. The manga by Urasawa that has been translated into English tend to be more serious than not, so I was curious to see how one of his series with a more comedic bent would turn out. Very well, as a matter of fact. Yawara is a judo prodigy, having been trained by her grandfather since she was very young. Despite her talent, she doesn’t really care about judo and would much rather lead the life of an ordinary girl.

My Week in Manga: July 4-July 10, 2011

My News and Reviews

Not much news (surprise!) other than I’m preparing to go on an extended vacation later this week. I’ve got posts ready to go while I’m away, and supposedly there will be web access where I’ll be, so there shouldn’t be too much interruption here at Experiments in Manga. (Fingers crossed.) In other news, last week I announced the winner of the Rurouni Kenshin manga giveaway. I also took the opportunity to make a couple of lists of samurai manga licensed in English, so if you’re looking for some to read, check it out. I also posted a review of the first volume of Anthony C. Yu’s translation of The Journey to the West. Since The Journey to the West is Chinese and not Japanese, I debated whether or not to include the review here. But because it’s such an influential work and there are so many references and adaptations of the story in Japanese literature I decided that I would go ahead. So there.

Quick Takes

Ghost Talker’s Daydream, Volumes 1-3 written by Saki Okuse and illustrated by Sankichi Meguro. Overall, Ghost Talker’s Daydream feels very disjointed to me; it hasn’t quite managed to pull itself together yet within the first three volumes. The action sequences are often difficult to follow, which is particularly unfortunate as the fight scenes were some of my favorite parts. I also appreciated the S&M elements of the story although they are not incorporated into the work as a whole very well. Misaki does somewhat frustrate me as a character since she hates both her job as a dominatrix and as a necromancer but doesn’t seem willing to make an effort to change the status quo.

Gin Tama, Volumes 6-14 by Hideaki Sorachi. I really do love this series. It’s ridiculous and absurd and genuinely funny if you’re into that sort of thing (which I am.) The cast of characters is huge and they all have their own distinct quirks and personalities. You will never confuse one with another. Despite recurring gimmicks, I haven’t yet gotten bored with Gin Tama. The diverse imaginings of Sorachi impress me greatly, especially considering that Gin Tama is a weekly serialization. Frequently it parodies other established series (and I know I’m missing some references) but it also parodies commonly used tropes. Sorachi doesn’t hesitate to break the fourth wall and I find his omake (which is usually text) to be hilarious.

Go West!, Volumes 1-4 by Yu Yagami. Yagami has a talent for taking a tremendously silly concept, running with it, and making it work. In the case of Go West! we have Red Bullet—a horse that will only travel west in a straight line no matter what obstacles are in the way. Added to that is Naomi, a girl who has come to the West to search for her long lost parents. Pairing up, she and Red Bullet face many challenges together. Not the least of which is a bounty hunter and a wanted man who both claim to be related to her despite the complete lack of any evidence. Plus there’s plenty of gunfights, explosions, and general chaos and destruction that make Go West! highly entertaining. It’s goofy, but that’s not a bad thing.

Seven Days: Monday-Thursday written by Venio Tachibana and illustrated by Rihito Takarai. Every Monday morning, Seryou agrees to go out with the first girl to ask him out. If he doesn’t develop any feelings for her by the end of the week, they break up. As a joke Shino, an older male schoolmate, asks Seryou out and is surprised when he says yes. Shino treats the whole thing like a game, buy Seryou is quite serious about it, especially when he discovers he actually likes Shino. The premise might sound irrational, but it actually works and makes sense in context. I was quite taken with the first volume of Seven Days and look forward to the second and final volume, Seven Days: Friday-Sunday.

Yo-yo Girl Cop directed by Kenta Fukasaku. Yo-yo Girl Cop is based on the manga Sukeban Deka by Shinji Wada (who sadly passed away just last week), making it the third live action film to be based on Wada’s series. A skilled and strong brawler, a teenager from New York is deported and recruited by a Japanese police organization to help track down a group of terrorists. Given the codename Asamiya Saki and a steel yo-yo as her only weapon, she heads undercover as a high school student. Yo-yo Girl Cop is a fun movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Asamiya is pretty badass and there are some fight sequences, especially towards the end, that make really nice use of the yo-yo.

My Week in Manga: January 31-February 6, 2011

My News and Reviews

Like most weeks that occur at the ending of one month and the beginning of another, last week was pretty slow at Experiments in Manga. No new reviews, but there will be plenty coming up in the next couple of weeks, I promise. I did post January’s Bookshelf Overload and announced the Gantz Giveaway Winner (which also includes some interesting lists regarding manga and live-action adaptations).

The February 2011 Manga Moveable Feast, hosted by Sam Kusek at A Life in Panels, will begin on February 13 and features Keiji Nakazawa’s powerful manga series Barefoot Gen. I’ll be participating, reviewing Nakazawa’s autobiography as well as the first volume of Barefoot Gen. Otherwise, there’s not much news, either.

Quick Takes

Cute Beast by Amayo Tsuge. Cute Beast collects five of Tsuge’s boys’ love short stories, plus some extras. None of the stories are particularly outstanding, but they’re all pretty cute and most have some great moments of humor, except for the last story which features a skeazy English teacher. Fortunately, all of the uke exhibit a fair amount of backbone, confidence, and personality. My favorite story in the collection is probably the title story, particularly the bonus material that features its characters—I liked the goofy “tough-guy” who turns out to be an absolute sweetheart. The artwork is nice and clean but not particularly noteworthy except for some enormous eyes.

Fujoshi Rumi, Volume 1 by Natsumi Konjoh. I loved the first volume of Fujoshi Rumi so much that after finishing it I immediately put in an order for all of the other volumes currently available in English. There’s plenty of otaku humor and references, some that I didn’t always get on my own (granted, some of the characters didn’t always get it either), but the copious editor’s notes helped to keep everything straight. I thought it was hilarious. While Fujoshi Rumi pokes fun at otaku, it pokes fun at “normals,” too and Konjoh is never malicious. It’s a wonderful romantic comedy and I’m really looking forward to reading more of the series.

Gin Tama, Volumes 1-5 by Hideaki Sorachi. This is another new series for me with which I have fallen in love. I’m definitely going to be following it. Gin Tama is ridiculous, often absurd, and completely anachronistic—although I guess that is explained by the fact that aliens have invaded sometime during the Edo period. Obviously, technology will be more advanced. I mean, come on. The series is fairly episodic but there are plenty of recurring characters and running jokes that hold things together. I know there were references to other shōnen series that I probably missed, but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment one bit. The humor is very self-aware and strange, and I loved it.

Scandalous Seiryo University, Volume 1 by Kazuto Tatsukawa. I am not fond of rape being used as a comedic element. For the most part it is implied more than shown, but still; it’s an unfortunate choice, especially as it doesn’t really do anything to further the story. Scandalous Seiryo University collects three stories, one of which features a reversible couple which I am always a huge fan of. Occasionally, particularly in the final story, Tatsukawa’s artwork reminds me of Kazuya Minekura’s. I did like the couples and found most of the characters at least interesting, so I might try at least one more volume of the series. We shall see.