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: May 23-May 29, 2011

My News and Reviews

Last week was the May 2011 Manga Moveable Feast which focusing on Mitsuru Adachi’s Cross Game. I posted a review for the first English volume (equivalent to the first three volumes published in Japan). Next month’s Feast will feature Kazuya Minekura’s Wild Adapter, which is one of my favorites. I’ve got a couple things planned for it that I’m excited about. Or at least I am amused by them.

Since it’s towards the end of the month, I am once again holding a manga giveaway: Oh, Ono! The winner will be announced Wednesday, so you’ve only a couple more days to enter to win a copy of the first volume of Natsume Ono’s first volume of Natsume Ono’s Gente: The People of Ristorante Paradiso from Viz Media. On a related note, Blogger is having issues posting comments. If you have trouble submitting, please send me an email with the comment and I’ll make sure you get entered in the contest.

I promised I would start posting links again to interesting things I’ve come across recently, so I would like to bring your attention to a great interview with Cathy Hirano: Catching Up with Cathy Hirano. Hirano is the translator for Haikasoru’s editions of Noriko Ogiwara’s Tales of the Magatama (which I haven’t read yet). She also translated the first two Moribito novels by Nahoko Uehashi which I adore (I’ve also reviewed both books). Hirano talks a bit about both series in the interview.

Quick Takes

Andromeda Stories, Volumes 1-3 written by Ryu Mitsuse and illustrated by Keiko Takemiya. Ryu Mitsuse is an award winning science fiction author and Keiko Takemiya is an award winning mangaka who is no stranger to science fiction, so it is fabulous that the two of them were able to come together to collaborate on Andromeda Stories. I loved Takemiya’s artwork in this series. The character designs are attractive and the space imagery is gorgeous. The storyline might not be particularly innovative, and a few shortcuts in plot and characterization are necessary to tie everything together in three volumes, but I still found the manga to be engaging and I particularly liked the ending.

Japan: As Viewed by 17 Creators by Various. Japan is an interesting, and I would say successful, joint effort between French and Japanese comics artists. The French contributors who were invited to visit Japan and their Japanese counterparts each penned a short comic offering their own unique perspective on the country. I wasn’t familiar with most of the creators involved with Japan, but I was very excited to see that both Moyoko Anno and Joann Sfar made contributions. The great thing about anthologies is that they allow readers to get acquainted with a number of different creators and potentially discover artists whose work they would like to follow. At least, I know that was the case for me reading Japan.

Maiden Rose, Volume 2 by Fusanosuke Inariya. I didn’t find the second volume to be quite as strong as the first, but it is still very good. More characters are introduced, but personally I would have liked to see those already established further developed. However, I am interested in seeing how Inariya will bring the new plotlines together. Although there is less graphic sex than in the first volume, the relationship between Taki and Klaus continues to be a very intense and complicated one. I have no idea how things are going to turn out for them and the war makes their relationship even more difficult. I hope we get to see more of this series (which I believe is currently up to four volumes in Japan) available in English.

Between the Folds directed by Vanessa Gould. Origami is a traditional Japanese artform that has become a world-wide phenomenon not only as art but as science. It is incredible what people are able to accomplish and create with a single piece of paper, from very simple shapes to extraordinarily complex ones. The field continues to evolve and develop and more and more practical applications are being discovered. Between the Folds examines and exhibits the work being done by artists, mathematicians, educators, and scientists; the variety and creativity is stunning and beautiful. The documentary is a fantastic and fascinating look at what origami is accomplishing today. I highly recommend watching it!