My Week in Manga: February 21-February 27, 2011

My News and Reviews

February is a short month, but I was still able to get in two in-depth manga reviews, woo! I’ve been able to reach my goal for several months now. It seems to be a good pace for me, especially as I review other materials in addition to manga. Eventually, I’d like to do more in-depth manga reviews, but I’m going to stick with at least two a month for now. My second review for February was Hisae Iwaoka’s science fiction slice of life manga Saturn Apartments, Volume 1.

My monthly manga giveaway is underway and you still have a couple more days to Have Some Hetalia. Enter for a chance to receive a brand new copy of the second volume of the global phenomenon Hetalia: Axis Powers by Hidekaz Himaru. The winner will be announced Wednesday, March 2.

This past week, LibraryThing posted an interview with Japanese translator Alexander O. Smith that I helped out with under the name PhoenixTerran. Smith is one of my favorite translators working today and he is incredibly versatile, so I was thrilled to have a chance to ask him some questions.

A while back I had a feature on Experiments in Manga called As Seen Online where I posted interesting things that I found online. I haven’t been doing much with it recently, and so I have decided to incorporate a version of it into the “My News and Reviews” section. Each week I’ll mention a few cool links. The first thing I want to bring your attention to (although you’ve probably already seen it) is a very interesting and informative post by a senior editor at Tokyopop about why series go on hiatus. And since I read AX: Alternative Manga, Volume 1 this week, I also wanted to revisit the AXed Twitter transcripts.

As promised, I’ve added a handful of new manga reviews and news sources to the Resources page: Angela L. Eastman, A Case Suitable for Treatment, Emily’s Random Shoujo Manga Page, Heart of Manga, Manga Cast, Manga Life, Manga Village, Otaku Champloo, Yuri no Boke. I’ve also added We Read Comics which isn’t specifically about manga but fairly regularly comments on manga. It’s run by the folks at Vault of Midnight, some of my very favorite people. If you’re a manga blogger or reviewer and would like to be added to the list, please just let me know.

Quick Takes

All Nippon Air Line: Paradise at 30,000 Feet by Kei Azumaya. Oh, All Nippon Air Line, you are such a silly, silly manga. It is a collection of short comics by Azumaya, some original to the volume and some previously published, all centering on the All Nippon Air Line or A.N.A.L. Yes, that’s right, A.N.A.L. Every single employee in the company is male and the large majority of them also happen to be gay. Let the bad puns and ridiculousness commence! Themed flights, diverse obsessions and fantasies, and more than a few workplace romances, A.N.A.L. has it all. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the artwork, but I didn’t mind too terribly much because I was so highly amused by the manga as a whole.

AX: Alternative Manga, Volume 1 edited by Sean Michael Wilson. A wonderfully diverse anthology by thirty-three creators of alternative manga. I didn’t always “get” some of the contributions, but there were plenty of others that I was able to more fully appreciate. Even when I didn’t understand what was going on, I loved seeing all of the different art styles. One of the most frustrating things about the collection is that most of the creators probably won’t have much of their other work published in English and I’d really like to see more. I’ll definitely be picking up the second volume of AX, currently scheduled to be released this coming November.

Lone Wolf and Cub, Volumes 1-4 written by Kazuo Koike and illustrated by Goseki Kojima. Once serving as the executioner for the Shōgun, Ogami Ittō now travels the path of the assassin accompanied only by his young son Diagorō. Ogami is an extraordinary swordsman and a brilliant tactician. The series tends to be just slightly more episodic than I would wish, but I still find myself absorbed in Koike’s story and Kojima’s art. Actually, the cinematic artwork is one of my favorite things about the manga. The fight sequences are kinetic and the landscapes detailed and serene. My only complaint is that the books, and therefore the panels and text, are small which with my bad eyesight can be problematic.

Black Jack, Episodes 1-17 directed by Makoto Tezuka. It’s been a while since I’ve read any of the Black Jack manga, but I vaguely remember Black Jack being more of a bastard than he is portrayed in the anime. I do wish that he’d get a bit more screen time though since he’s my favorite character. Some of the episodes I recognize from the manga while others are original to the anime series. Some familiarity with the original comic is expected (exactly who Pinoko is is never explicitly stated, for example) but even newcomers should be able to enjoy the Black Jack anime. The series is fairly episodic and each episode is mostly self contained although there are some recurring characters.