My Week in Manga: October 2-October 8, 2017

My News and Reviews

Last week at Experiments in Manga I announced the winner of the Assassin’s Creed manga giveaway. The post also includes a list of manga published in English that feature pirates of various types, including historical pirates, fantasy pirates, space pirates, and others. Then New York Comic Con (which is still going on) and Yaoi Con were held last week as well. I didn’t attend either event, but there were some announcements made by Kodansha Comics, Viz Media, and SuBLime Manga (which is technically Viz Media, too). Kodansha revealed plans to release Kenji Inoue and Kimitake Yoshioka’s Grand Blue Dreaming, Mitsurou Kubo’s Again!!, and Akiko Higashimura’s Tokyo Tarareba Girls in print. Among other things, Viz will be adding Hidenori Kusaka and Satoshi Yamamoto’s Pokémon Sun & Moon and Tenya Yabuno’s Pokémon Horizon: Sun & Moon and will be re-releasing Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys and 21st Century Boys in a hardcover edition in addition to speeding up the release of Kōhei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia. SuBLime announced a few new digital titles, but Ranmaru Zariya’s Coyote and Ogeretsu Tanaka’s Escape Journey will receive print runs, too.

Quick Takes

Aho-Girl, Volume 1Aho-Girl, Volume 1 by Hiroyuki. I only realized it after I finished the first volume of Ah0-Girl, but I’ve actually read another of Hiroyuki’s four-panel manga, Dojin Work, which was never released in its entirety in English. It’s been a long while since I’ve read Dojin Work, but I get the sense that in general I prefer that earlier series over this more recent one. Aho-Girl, while it did legitimately make me laugh on multiple occasions, tends to rub me the wrong way and I personally could have done without all of the sexual harassment being used as the basis for comedy. The dirty jokes I don’t particularly mind, though. As defined by first volume’s cover, “aho-girl” is Japanese for a clueless girl. Yoshiko Hanabatake, the series’ titular character, is indeed an astonishingly dense airhead. Oh, and she really, really likes bananas. Other major characters in the first volume of the manga include Akuru Akutsu, her long-suffering next door neighbor and supposed childhood friend (who doesn’t seem to have many friends in part due to his own unfortunate personality), her mother Yoshie, who would like nothing more than to see the two of the together, and Sayaka Sumino, a genuinely kind girl, classmate, and friend. As may safely be assumed, most of the humor of Aho-Girl revolves around Yoshiko’s sheer stupidity, for better and for worse.

Appleseed AlphaAppleseed Alpha by Iou Kuroda. An adaptation of sorts of the Appleseed Alpha anime, which itself is a spinoff of sorts of Masamune Shirow’s Appleseed manga, Kuroda’s Appleseed Alpha manga forms a prequel to the original story. Although to be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure exactly how the Appleseed Alpha fits into the larger Appleseed franchise since I’m not familiar with any of the other manga or anime. What drew me to the Appleseed Alpha manga was Kuroda’s involvement. It’s been a few years since I’ve read it, but I remember enjoying Kuroda’s alternative manga Sexy Voice and Robo, so I was glad to see more of the creator’s work with its distinctive illustration style released. Kuroda’s Appleseed Alpha was longer than I originally thought it was–Kodansha Comics’ hardcover edition is in fact an omnibus collecting the entire two-volume series, but somehow manages to look much shorter than it actually is. Appleseed Alpha is not a quick read although the plot and action moves at a fairly steady pace. The story follows Deunan, a very competent ex-SWAT officer, and her combat cyborg boyfriend Briareos as the couple makes their way through a dystopic cyberpunk Western version of the United States. Previous knowledge of Appleseed is not needed to enjoy Kuroda’s somewhat quirky contribution.

QQ Sweeper, Volume 1QQ Sweeper, Volumes 1-3 by Kyousuke Motomi. I greatly enjoyed Motomi’s earlier manga series Dengeki Daisy, so I was looking forward to giving another of the creator’s series a try, which is what ultimately led me to QQ Sweeper. (A few of the characters from Dengeki Daisy actually happen to make quick cameo appearances in the series, too.) Fumi’s dream in life is to find a prince charming to sweep her off her feet. Instead, she finds Kyutaro who has a fixation on literally sweeping. He has a pretty good reason for it, though. Kyutaro and his family are responsible for ridding the local area of dangerous infestations of malicious thoughts and psychological torment which manifest as bugs and physical cleanliness can go far to help with spiritual cleanliness. Of course, sometimes the bugs really are just bugs. For as seemingly silly and charmingly goofy as QQ Sweeper can often be–it can essentially be summed up as a supernatural cleaning manga–the series quickly becomes surprisingly dark. QQ Sweeper ends somewhat suddenly with the third volume and doesn’t really provide much of a satisfying conclusion, but fortunately the sequel series Queen’s Quality has been licensed as well. The series’ humor and seriousness occasionally seems a little off-balance, but I really liked QQ Sweeper and certainly plan on continuing with the story.

My Week in Manga: July 30-August 5, 2012

My News and Reviews

I had three posts for you all last week here at Experiments in Manga. First was the announcement of the Love Hina Giveaway Winner which also includes a brief list of some of the harem and reverse harem manga that have been licensed in English. I also posted July’s Bookshelf Overload. I managed to restrain my impulse buys over the last month (for the most part). And finally, I reviewed Frederik L. Schodt’s The Astro Boy Essays. I actually haven’t read or watched much Astro Boy, but Schodt’s book is a fantastic introduction to Astro Boy and Osamu Tezuka.

Many boys’ love fans celebrated “Yaoi Day” on August 1st, or 8/01. (With a little Japanese wordplay, 801 can be pronounced as “yaoi.”) I saw a lot of love for est em last week, and for a good reason—she’s a fantastic creator. Jocelyne Allen translated and posted a portion of her interview with est em from 2010 at her site Brain Vs. Book. Over at Otaku Champloo, Khursten Santos had a special spotlight on est em. And, while not part of the yaoi day celebrations, Jason Thompson’s House of 1000 Manga featured est em a few weeks back.

Also! The call for participation for August’s Manga Moveable Feast has been posted! Later this month the manga blogging community will be taking a closer look at Eiji Ōtsuka and Housui Yamazaki’s The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service.

Quick Takes

Fist of the North Star: Master Edition, Volumes 7-9 written by Buronson and illustrated by Tetsuo Hara. Gutsoon Entertainment was only able to publish nine volumes of Fist of the North Star before going defunct. I would absolutely love to see more of the series available in English. When I first started reading Fist of the North Star, it seemed like the series was heading towards a bad-guy-of-the-week sort of story. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I was very happy to see it evolve an engaging overarching plot. Plus, I love the gloriously over-the-top martial arts. These last few English volumes further develop Kenshiro and his brothers’ backstories and introduces one of the primary antagonists of the series.

My Cute Crossdresser by Mitohi Matsumoto. A part of Digital Manga’s new hentai imprint Project-H, My Cute Crossdresser falls into the genre known as otokonoko. Generally written for a male audience, otokonoko features cross-dressing guys, often in somewhat compromising situations (it is ecchi, after all). I quite enjoyed My Cute Crossdresser. For the most part, the sexual content is actually fairly mild. The first and longest story, “Raising Decoy,” in which a guy dresses as a girl to catch gropers on the train in order to bring them to justice, ends up being rather sweet. “Spilled Milk” and “Leo and the Night Sky of Summer” are partially excuses for suggestive crossplay. The collection also includes “An Angel’s Flight” and “Actress.” The volume is fun and even a bit fluffy.

Sexy Voice and Robo by Iou Kuroda. It’s difficult for me to adequately capture my response to reading Sexy Voice and Robo, or to even describe what this manga actually is about. It’s a strange and rather unusual story, but I found it be appealing and immensely enjoyable. Nico, aka “Sexy Voice,” is a bright fourteen-year-old girl who wants to be spy when she grows up, or maybe a fortuneteller. She finds other people intensely fascinating and can’t help but meddle in their affairs, often putting herself in some very dangerous situations as a result. The endearing and hapless “Robo,” who is frequently caught up in her escapades, is one of many men she met while working for a tele-club dating scam.

Tactics, Volumes 1-2 by Sakura Kinoshita and Kazuko Higashiyama. First published by ADV Manga, then Tokyopop, and now available through JManga, Tactics is one of the few manga that I’ve read that takes place during Japan’s Taishō era. Kantarou is a young folklorist who is occasionally called upon to exorcise yokai that are causing problems for people. The plot moves a little too quickly at times and is nearly as hyperactive as its protagonist. The stories tend to be fairly benign even when they include slightly more menacing elements. Personally, I prefer my yokai tales to have a little more bite to them, but there were parts of Tactics that were genuinely fun. I was particularly amused by the tengu Haruka’s extreme attachment to his rice bowl.