My Week in Manga: November 12-November 18, 2012

My News and Reviews

Two reviews went up last week. The first was for Jirō Nitta’s historical novel Phantom Immigrants. It’s about Jinsaburo Oikawa, salmon fishing, Canada, and immigrant smuggling. The novel is somewhat difficult to find in print, but the translator has made a digital edition available. For the most part, I picked up Phantom Immigrants because I wanted to read more of Nitta’s work. (I read another of his historical novels, Death March on Mount Hakkōda, not too long ago.) The second review I posted was part of my Blade of the Immortal manga review project. This month I took a look at Blade of the Immortal, Volume 15: Trickster. Although I was a little disappointed with some of the fight scenes, I’m still enjoying the series.

Speaking of disappointment, Digital Manga has announced that it would be putting almost all of its print releases on hiatus (the exceptions are those works that were funded by Digital Manga’s Kickstarter projects). Digital Manga’s president Hikaru Sasahara stressed that the licenses haven’t been canceled, just that the print releases have been delayed. Digital Manga has also indicated that at least some of the titles will be available digitally before they’re available in print.

It’s a late notice, but Matt Blind has posted the call for participation for November’s Manga Moveable Feast to be hosted at Rocket Bomber later this week. It’ll be a short Feast, running from November 21 to November 25. Since the Feast will coincide with Thanksgiving in the US, we’re doing something a little different this month, focusing on manga that we’re thankful for, so do check it out!

And one last side-note: October’s manga giveaway winner Stephanie recently posted about winning at Rodeo Bucket (and said some nice things about Experiments in Manga, too)—Right-Brain Living & Winning!

Quick Takes

Battle Royale: Ultimate Edition, Volume 1 (equivalent to Volumes 1-3) written by Koushun Takami and illustrated by Masayuki Taguchi. I love Takami’s original Battle Royale novel, but it took me a while to get around to reading the manga. The loose English adaptation, which attempts to establish the program as a reality television show, is unfortunate; I wish the story had been left alone. I also wasn’t particularly fond of the more sexualized elements of the Battle Royale manga. And the manga’s program administrator is my least favorite version of that character. Taguchi’s artwork is at its best when portraying extreme violence and gore. The “ultimate edition” includes some great extras, including an interview with Takami.

Full House, Volumes 1-4 by Sooyeon Won. After reading Won’s manhwa series Let Dai, I made a point to seek out more of her work. I was looking forward to reading Full House. The first volume was okay, but I can’t say I enjoyed the series much at all except for the character designs. Even for a romantic comedy (at least that’s what I think the series is supposed to be), the plot makes little believable sense. The main character is an absolutely terrible person—she’s malicious, vindictive, and incredibly selfish for no good reason. I couldn’t bring myself to like her or to even feel sorry for her plight, which could easily be solved if she would simply be honest. Only the first four volumes of Full House were released in print in English but more are available digitally from Netcomics.

K-ON!, Volumes 2-4 by Kakifly. I’ll admit that I enjoy K-ON!. But although the first volume of the series made me tremendously happy, I wasn’t quite as taken with the rest of K-ON!. As a musician, I personally enjoy the series the most when music is somehow involved which, as it turns out, really isn’t all that often. As far as yonkoma go, K-ON! is fairly story driven which I can appreciate. Granted, there’s not much of a plot to the series. It mostly consists of a group of high school girls enjoying each other’s company; I don’t see anything wrong with that. At four volumes, I think K-ON! is just the right length. Yen Press also has plans to release both K-ON!‘s sequel K-ON! College and its spinoff K-ON! Highschool.

Secretary’s Love by Tohko Akiba. If I hadn’t picked up Secretary’s Love for a couple of bucks way back when Borders was shuttering its doors, I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to reading this boys’ love one-shot. It simply wasn’t a title that I was particularly interested in. And I was right. Secretary’s Love is incredibly boring. It could have been cute, but instead of focusing on Tanemura and Tanizaki’s relationship, Secretary’s Love seems to be more about their being secretaries. There’s not much romance to be found in the manga, mostly a few chaste kisses in the workplace and vague allusions to more carnal nocturnal activities. If it wasn’t explicitly stated, it would be hard to guess that the two men have been dating for eight years; there’s just no passion.

My Week in Manga: February 15-February 20, 2011

My News and Reviews

This past week was the February 2011 Manga Moveable Feast, hosted by Sam Kusek over at A Life in Panels. It was a great feast featuring Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen; even Last Gasp, the publishers for the series in English, participated. I had three related posts, including reviews of Nakazawa’s autobiography Hiroshima: The Autobiography of Barefoot Gen and my first in-depth manga review for February for Barefoot Gen: A Cartoon Story of Hiroshima.

I really need to updated the Resources page—I’ve a bunch of new sites to add—so I’ll try to get around to that this week. Also coming up this week: Wednesday will start my monthly manga giveaway. I haven’t quite decided which manga it will be yet, so you’ll just have to drop by on Wednesday to find out. I’m also excited for Wednesday to roll around since Kodo will be in town for a performance, and I have tickets!

Quick Takes

Dog Style, Volumes 1-3 by Modoru Motoni. The first volume of Dog Style is a bit sporadic and difficult to follow at times, but by the end of the third volume Motoni had completely won me over. As the series progresses, both Motoni’s art (which was pretty good to begin with) and writing improves greatly. The story gets a bit angsty at times, and it’s not exactly romantic, but I enjoyed seeing Teru and Miki’s relationship develop. Teru and his friends are delinquents, so he tends to get involved in violent fights, and Miki has his own problems and past to deal with. The two start out as strangers but come to rely on each other; complete with some killer kisses and more. (Also, bonus points for use of condoms.)

Japan written by Buronson and illustrated by Kentaro Miura. The primary reason I picked up Japan was that Berserk‘s creator, Kentaro Miura, worked on it. Also, the setting interested me since post-apocalyptic fiction is one of my favorite sub-genres. There were some nice story elements in Japan that could have made a great short series. Unfortunately, in this one-shot they’re overshadowed by the constant and unnecessary, semi-political commentary on what it really means to be “Japanese.” I think Miura’s art works best in the post-apocalyptic setting; I wasn’t quite as convinced by his modern environments.

K-ON!, Volume 1 by Kakifly. This may just be the best yonkoma manga that I’ve read so far. I laughed so much. Granted, as a musician, I felt a particular fondness for the girls in the pop music club as they try to put together their own band. I found Yui, the accidental guitarist, particularly amusing since she doesn’t know a thing about music but she’s still very enthusiastic about the whole thing. Actually, I like all of the characters that have been introduced up to this point. K-ON! makes me very happy and I can easily see why this series is so popular. I’ll definitely be reading future volumes as they are released in English.

Chi’s Sweet Home: Chi’s New Address, Episodes 1-52 directed by Mitsuyuki Masuhara. Chi’s New Address is the second Chi’s Sweet Home anime. I’ve never seen the first, but I have been reading and loving the original manga series. And I’m loving the anime, too. The season is 104 episodes long, but each episode is under three minutes long. At first, the baby noises that Chi makes annoyed me, but I soon got over it. The anime is every bit as cute and adorable as the manga. The animation is simply delightful and almost every episode made me laugh. And it didn’t matter how many times I watched the opening—I giggled every single time.

Monster, Episodes 40-60 directed by Masayuki Kojima. While I’m still enjoying the anime adaptation of Monster, I think I can safely say at this point that I prefer the manga. The slow, deliberate plot development that worked so well in the original comes across as tedious and ponderous in the anime. It’s a problem of the anime trying too faithfully to recreate the manga. It probably would make a better series if the story was trimmed and focused a bit more. However, it’s not all bad. Grimmer, probably my favorite character in the entire series, makes his first appearance in these episodes. And Nina and Johan’s backstory, the truth behind everything that is going on, begins to be revealed.