My Week in Manga: February 20-February 26, 2012

My News and Reviews

Last week was the Osamu Tezuka Manga Moveable Feast, hosted by Kate Dacey at The Manga Critic. There was a good turn out this month. As for me, I managed to post two in-depth reviews related to the Feast. The first was Helen McCarthy’s Harvey Award-winning The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga. It’s a great introduction to Tezuka and his works, plus its a lot of fun to look at with hundreds of images. I also reviewed the first volume of Dororo, which is one of my favorite series by Tezuka.

I’ve added two new blogs that I enjoy to the Resources page, neither of which is specifically about manga but occasionally features a title: Nihon distractions: Readings in translated Japanese Literature and BookDragon, a part of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program. I’d also like to point out a list of Yuri Manga Titles Available Outside of Japan put together by Erica Friedman over at Okazu. The list focuses on manga that is currently or will soon be in print.

I should probably mention that Experiments in Manga has been selected to compete in the second Aniblog Tourney. (I have no idea how they found out about me.) The first tournament focused on anime blogs, but this year manga-oriented blogs will be included as well. I’m mostly interested in learning about blogs that I don’t already know about through the tournament.

And as a complete side note, the fact that all of my manga quick takes for this week have something to do with boxing and/or wrestling was completely unintentional. However, now I really want someone to license Ashita no Joe. I tend to be particularly interested in karate since that is what I study, but I do enjoy series about martial arts and combat sports in general as well.

Quick Takes

Gen, Issues 1-6 by Various. Gen is primarily touted as a digital manga magazine, but the issues are also eventually made available in print (which is how I read them). The magazine collects seinen indie and dōjinshi manga from Tokyo. There is a nice mix of stories: sports (boxing and sumo), comedy, drama, fantasy. I’ve never read a manga magazine before; I’ve always waited for a series to be collected. I am really enjoying Gen, though. I’ve been introduced to manga that I probably wouldn’t have thought to pick up otherwise. I only have one major complaint about Gen so far and that is that there is an overabundance of spelling errors in the translation. If I notice them, you know it’s bad.

Love Round!! by Hinako Takanaga. I am fond of Takanaga’s work, and Love Round!! is no exception. It’s a silly little boys’ love one-shot, but is quite amusing and has likeable leads. Kubo is a high school boxing champion with dreams of going pro. His classmate, the effeminate looking Kaoru, turns out to be a flyweight powerhouse with a punch that can even knock out Kubo (and does so repeatedly). Kubo does his best to convince Kaoru to join his gym and the two end up becoming friends (and eventually a bit more). Kubo is a endearingly dense and his big mouth gets him into trouble on more than one occasion. Kaoru on the other hand, while cute, is a little spitfire. It’s easy to forget that they’re both high school students since most of the story takes place in the gym.

Super Pro K.O.! by Jarrett Williams. For a comic about professional wrestling, and despite Williams’ fun artwork, I actually found Super Pro K.O.! to be rather boring. This makes me sad, because I really wanted to like it. Maybe it’s just because I don’t have a particular interest in pro wrestling. I think that Williams was a little too ambitious for the debut volume. So many plot elements and characters were introduced that there wasn’t enough time to thoroughly develop any of them. I did like Joe Somiano, the supposed lead (I say supposed since he doesn’t appear much). Once a track star, he gave track up in order to pursue professional wrestling. He’s inexperienced and guileless, but very enthusiastic.

InuYasha: Season 1, Episodes 20-27 directed by Masashi Ikeda and Yasunao Aoki. It’s been a while since I watched the first part of the first season of InuYasha, but there’s enough recapping in each episode that I caught up pretty quickly. In fact, I feel that in general there’s too much recycling. While I’m sure it was useful when the series was being broadcast, it makes marathoning a bit of a slog since it slows down the pacing of the narrative. By the end of the first season, all of the main protagonists have been introduced as well as Naraku, the primary antagonist. I’m enjoying InuYasha, but at the same time I don’t really feel compelled to pursue the series, especially considering it’s length. Still, I’ll probably give the second season a try at some point.

Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion directed by Hideaki Anno and Kazuya Tsurumaki. Long story short, The End of Evangelion is an alternate ending to the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime series, “replacing” the controversial final two episodes. Although there were parts of Neon Genesis Evangelion I really enjoyed, I think that to some extent I’ve lost my patience with the franchise. The End of Evangelion does explain some things that were not made explicitly clear in the original series, which I was very grateful for, but at the same time there are still parts that are terribly perplexing and there are still plenty of questions that have answers that are left up to interpretation.

The Secret World of Arrietty directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi. Based on The Borrowers, a series of childrens’ fantasy novels by Mary Norton, The Secret World of Arrietty is the most recent film from Studio Ghibli to be released in the United States. The story focuses on a family of small people known as Borrowers and a human who wants to befriend them. While the animation is beautiful, the garden and plants are particularly lovely, the pacing of the film very slow. I found myself paying more attention to the visual details of the world that was created rather than the actual story. I loved seeing how the Borrowers repurposed and used the items they found. My favorite part of the film was how liquids (tea, water, etc.) were handled as large droplets as opposed free-flowing fluids.

My Week in Manga: April 18-April 24, 2011

My News and Reviews

It is time for the Rumiko Takahashi Manga Moveable Feast! The feast begins today and will end on Sunday. Rob McMonigal at Panel Patter will be hosting. Rob has also been running a spotlight on Takahashi that is worth checking out. There is also a fantastic Takahashi fansite, Rumic World, that has a ton of great information available about Takahashi and her works. As for me, I spent all last week immersing myself in Takahashi manga and anime in order to prepare for the Manga Moveable Feast. So, all of my quick takes feature Takahashi. My manga giveaway for this month (starting on Wednesday) will be the first two volumes of Ranma 1/2. And on Friday, I’ll be posting an in-depth review of the first volume of Mermaid Saga. I’ll should also mention a review that I previously posted for Ranma 1/2, Volume 1: Battle of the Sexes.

As for last week’s posts, I reviewed Eiji Yoshikawa’s epic historical novel Musashi and Isuna Hasekura’s light novel Spice & Wolf, Volume 3. I’m really enjoying the Spice & Wolf series more than I thought I would; I absolutely adore Lawrence and Holo. Musashi is the basis for numerous films as well as Takehiko Inoue’s Vagabond. I promised myself I would read the novel before starting the manga series, and now I have. It’s a very long book, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Quick Takes

InuYasha, Omnibus 1 (equivalent to Volumes 1-3) by Rumiko Takahashi. I’m not sure if it’s because I saw the anime before I read the manga, but I think I actually prefer the anime in this case. Granted, I’ve not read or seen enough of InuYasha to be able to know for sure. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy the manga because I did. It’s certainly not my favorite work by Takahashi, though. Although, some things do make more sense in the manga than they do in the anime. However, the manga feels like it’s rushing from battle to battle without taking time to really develop the characters or story. It reads very, very quickly which is both a good and a bad thing. The yōkai are varied and their fights are entertaining.

Mermaid Saga, Volumes 1-4 by Rumiko Takahashi. Mermaid Saga is one of Takahashi’s shortest series. It’s also dark, creepy, disconcerting, and utterly fantastic. If you couldn’t tell, I loved it. Eating the flesh of a mermaid potentially grants the gift of immortality, but those who aren’t so lucky die a painful death or are transformed into monstrous “lost souls” from the poison. But even life as an immortal may be more of a curse than a blessing. Yuta has been alive for five hundred years, dying and returning to life dozens of times, and is tired of his lonely existence. As he searches for a way to return to normal he occasionally comes across other immortals, each with their own tragic history. Messing around with life and death never ends well.

Ranma 1/2, Volumes 2-14 by Rumiko Takahashi. Oh, Ranma 1/2, how I adore you. This series is one of the first manga I fell in love with and collected in its entirety. It was also my introduction to Takahashi. Some of the humor is going to be hit and miss simply due to personal preference—I, for one, can barely stand the principal. Still, I am impressed by how long Takahashi can keep the joke going without it feeling too repetitive. Ranma 1/2 is absurd and ridiculous and a tremendous amount of fun. Even though I had previously read the series, I still found it to be amusing. Full of gender swapping, not to mention species swapping, and an abundance of crazy and insane martial arts, I can’t help but love it.

InuYasha: Season 1, Episodes 1-19 directed by Masashi Ikeda and Yasunao Aoki. Although I enjoyed the anime from the beginning, initially it felt too episodic to me. But as the series progresses an overarching plot is introduced. This is what I needed to really invest myself in the story. Although I really like the Higurashi family and appreciate when they get some screen time, I greatly prefer the episodes that take place during the Warring States period over those that take place during the modern era. Actually, I like most of the characters—their strong personalities make for some great interactions. While I might not continue reading the manga, I’ll probably be watching more of the anime.

Urusei Yatsura, Episodes 1-4 directed by Mamoru Oshii. I don’t even remember when or where I got this DVD, but fortunately the Manga Moveable Feast reminded me that I owned it. It’s really too bad that I took so long to finally watch it, because it has some very funny stuff in it. In fact, I found myself maniacally giggling out loud on several occasions. I’ve only seen these four episodes (out of one hundred ninety five) but I can safely say I would like to see more. It’s a weird and strange story about obnoxious aliens that intend to invade Earth but are stopped when they are defeated in a game of tag by a lecherous high schooler. Some of the aliens stick around and hijinks ensue.