Manga Giveaway: Assassin’s Creed Giveaway Winner

Assassin's Creed: Awakening, Volume 1And the winner of the Assassin’s Creed: Awakening manga giveaway is… Sean Kleefeld!

As the winner, Sean (who does some great writing about comics) will be receiving a copy of the first volume in Takashi Yano and Kenji Oiwa’s Assassin’s Creed: Awakening as published in English by Titan Comics. Since pirates feature very prominently in the series, I wanted to learn about some of the giveaway participant’s favorite pirates from manga. Perhaps unsurprisingly considering the popularity of the series characters from Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece were mentioned several times, but some lesser-known pirates can be found in the giveaway comments, too.

Some of the manga released in English featuring pirates:
Assassin’s Creed: Awakening written by Takashi Yano, illustrated by Kenji Oiwa
Basara by Yumi Tamura
Berserk by Kentaro Miura
Black Lagoon by Rei Hiroe
Bodacious Space Pirates: Abyss of Hyperspace by Chibimaru
Captain Harlock by Leiji Matsumoto
Captain Harlock: Dimensional Voyage written by Leiji Matsumoto, illustrated by Kouiti Shimaboshi
Cirque du Freak by Takahiro Arai
Elemental Gelade by Mayumi Azuma
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass by Akira Himekawa
One Piece by Eiichiro Oda
Princess Knight by Osamu Tezuka
Queen Emeraldas by Leiji Matsumoto
Stone by Sin-ichi Hiromoto
Vinland Saga by Makoto Yukimura
Wanted by Matsuri Hino
Yona of the Dawn by Mizuho Kusanagi

I’m certain that the above list isn’t comprehensive, but I was a little surprised by how few series I was able to easily come up with that feature pirates! Still, it’s an interesting mix which includes historical pirates, fantasy pirates, space pirates, and more. Thank you to everyone who participated by sharing your personal favorites with me! I hope to see you all again for the next monthly giveaway.

Manga Giveaway: Assassin’s Creed Giveaway

The month of September brings a number of things along with it, such as the autumnal equinox (for us in the Northern Hemisphere, at least) and yet another manga giveaway at Experiments in Manga. For some, other September delights include International Talk Like a Pirate Day. As such, a manga about pirates would seem to be thematically appropriate for a giveaway, and so this month you all have a chance to win the first trade volume of Takashi Yano and Kenji Oiwa’s Assassin’s Creed: Awakening as published in English by Titan Comics. As usual, the giveaway is open worldwide!

Assassin's Creed: Awakening, Volume 1

Pirates, noble or otherwise, are a fairly popular character type in all sorts of media. The presence of pirates in a story generally brings along with it a promise of action, adventure, and sometimes even a bit of romance. Often their portrayal in fiction tends to be fairly glamorized when compared with historical and modern-day realities although there are certainly some stories that favor a more gritty approach.  When it comes to manga, there’s one particularly successful series that most people probably immediately think of when considering pirates (Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece), but there are plenty of other, lesser-known manga that feature pirates of one ilk or another as well. Part of Assasin’s Creed: Awakening, for example, takes place on the high seas during the early eighteenth century and, yes, there are most certainly pirates to be found.

So, you may be wondering, how can you win a copy of Assassin’s Creed: Awakening, Volume 1?

1) In the comments below, tell me a little about your favorite pirate from a manga. (If you don’t have a favorite, or haven’t read any, simply mention that instead.)
2) If you’re on Twitter, you can earn a bonus entry by tweeting, or retweeting, about the contest. Make sure to include a link to this post and @PhoenixTerran (that’s me).

And there you have it! Anyone participating in the giveaway has one week to submit comments and can earn up to two entries. Comments can also be sent to me directly at phoenixterran(at)gmail(dot)com if either needed or preferred. Those comments will then be posted here in your name. The giveaway winner will be randomly selected and announced on October 4, 2017. Good luck!

VERY IMPORTANT: Include some way that I can contact you. This can be an e-mail address in the comment form, a link to your website, Twitter username, or whatever. If I can’t figure out how to get a hold of you and you win, I’ll just draw another name.

Contest winner announced–Manga Giveaway: Assassin’s Creed Giveaway Winner

My Week in Manga: August 21-August 27, 2017

My News and Reviews

I was away last week traveling for work as well as for yet another family wedding (this year has been full of them), but I still managed to post a review before it was all said and done. It’s several month’s later than I really intended it to be since the manga was actually released back in May, but I’ve finally reviewed the first omnibus of My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame. The manga was easily one of my most anticipated releases for 2017. I’ve actually been collecting the series in Japanese (even though my reading comprehension of the language isn’t quite where it needs to be yet), but I am incredibly happy that it’s being translated into English. I’m not sure when the second and final omnibus is scheduled to be released, but there’s not question that I’ll be picking it up once it’s available.

Quick Takes

Assassin's Creed: Awakening, Volume 1Assassin’s Creed: Awakening, Volume 1 written by Takashi Yano and illustrated by Kenji Oiwa. There have been numerous Assassin’s Creed comic adaptations published by Titan Comics, so including Yano and Oiwa’s Awakening  as part of its catalog seems an obvious choice to make even though the publisher doesn’t typically release many manga. Admittedly, I’ve not played very much of any of the Assassin’s Creed video games (although what I have played I’ve largely liked) and I’m not especially familiar with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, the installment upon which Awakening is loosely based. What primarily drew me to the series was the involvement of Oiwa, one of the creators behind the manga adaptations of Otsuichi’s Goth and Welcome to the N.H.K., both of which I greatly enjoyed. Awakening alternates between two stories taking place in different time periods which turn out to be deeply connected to each other although the depth of that connection isn’t immediately clear. The first, and the one I prefer, is set in the early eighteenth century and follows Edward Kenway, a pirate captain who gets caught up in the conflict between the Templars and Assassins. Centuries later, that conflict is still ongoing, impacting the life of Masato Yagyu and his family in unexpected ways.

The Backstagers, Volume 1: Rebels without ApplauseThe Backstagers, Volume 1: Rebels without Applause written by James Tynion IV, illustrated by Rian Sygh, and colors by Walter Baiamonte. I believe The Backstagers first came to my attention when it was featured on a list of ongoing comics series which included trans characters. And indeed, one of the characters in The Backstagers–and an important main character at that–is a transguy, something that is almost unheard of in mainstream comics. (Also of note, the series’ co-creator and illustrator is also trans, which I hadn’t initially realized.) That was enough to make me interested in the series, and the first volume was more than enough to make me a fan. The Backstagers is set at an all-boys high school and largely follows the stage crew of the drama club. Jory, a recent transfer student, who at first he thought he wanted to be an actor ultimately finds himself swept up in the magic of what happens behind the scenes. Quite literally, actually. The Backstagers is a tremendous amount of high-energy fun with brightly colored artwork and sparkles, blushing, and flowers galore. The comic is also delightfully queer and diverse, breaking down gender stereotypes by presenting a wide variety of masculinities. I absolutely loved the first volume of The Backstagers and definitely look forward to more.

Nirvana, Volume 1Nirvana, Volume 1 by Jin and Sayuki. Due to her selflessness and devotion to volunteer efforts, Yachiyo Hitotose has become known as the Modern-Day Florence Nightingale. While on a trip to help those in need overseas, Yachiyo’s flight crashes and she suddenly finds herself reincarnated in another world known as Gulgraf. Believed to be the new embodiment of the divine goddess Sakuya, the bringer of light, Yachiyo has naturally taken upon herself to rescue and protect the residents of Gulgaf from the powers of darkness. As well-meaning as she is, Yachiyo will still need plenty of help if she wants to make a difference, especially as there are those who already want her dead. And so she sets off on an adventure, traveling across the world in search of allies as she learns to control the new powers she has been granted. Nirvana does seem to at least in part be be inspired by Buddhist and Hindu mythologies and mysticism–which honestly is what compelled me to give the series a try–but at this point they seem to be used mostly as a veneer and to provide the series’ most basic narrative structure and worldbuilding. I wasn’t as captivated as I was hoping to be with Nirvana, but I was still entertained by the first volume which takes a much more comedic approach than I was expecting.

My Week in Manga: June 15-June 21, 2015

 My News and Reviews

I was on vacation last week, much of which was spent in the middle of the woods in the middle of Ohio camping with my family. This meant I had very little Internet access. But even so, I did manage to post two reviews last week. My monthly horror manga review project continued with a review of After School Nightmare, Volume 4 by Setona Mizushiro. This was the first volume in the series that I hadn’t previously read before embarking on the review project. The second review was of Satoshi Wagahara’s prize-winning light novel The Devil Is a Part-Timer!, Volume 1 which is very amusing and silly. But, having watched the anime series last year, I already knew that.

As previously mentioned, I was occupied with other things last week, so I probably missed out on all sorts of interesting reading, news, and announcements. However, there were a few things that came across my radar before I left for Ohio. Kathryn Hemmann at Contemporary Japanese Literature wrote about The Cultural Cross Pollination of Shōjo Manga. And speaking of shōjo manga, Digital Manga’s most recent Tezuka Kickstarter is aiming to publish Storm Fairy. (The project also aims to reprint Unico with better image and color quality, which makes me wonder why Digital Manga didn’t do that for the first printing, but I’ve given up trying to understand Digital Manga’s decision making.) Finally, Udon Entertainment announced a new manga license: Shuji Sogabe’s adaptation of Persona 4.

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan: Junior High, Omnibus 3Attack on Titan: Junior High, Omnibus 3 (equivalent to Volumes 5-6) by Saki Nakagawa. Out of all the various Attack on Titan spinoffs, Junior High is the one that probably has the smallest audience overall and is the one that is the most uneven for me specifically. Sometimes the manga can be a slog to get through, but sometimes it’s absolutely hilarious. At its best, Junior High can actually make me laugh out loud; I keep reading the series for those moments because when Junior High is funny, it is very funny. The manga continues to be a very weird mix of Attack on Titan and a generic school setting with all of the standard tropes that that entails. Sometimes the combination works better than others. This particular omnibus features the school culture festival, a battle of the bands, eating contests and cooking competitions, club activities, lots of cleaning, and school rivalries among other things. I was very pleased to see that characters and storylines from other Attack on Titan spinoffs like No Regrets are now being incorporated into Junior High as well.

Lies Are a Gentleman's Manners, Volume 1Lies Are a Gentleman’s Manners by Marta Matsuo. Since for whatever reason Digital Manga often seems to be hesitant to include “Volume 1” in the title of a new manga, I didn’t initially realize that Lies Are a Gentleman’s Manners is actually an ongoing series in Japan. The first volume stands well enough on its own, but I do hope that any subsequent volumes will be licensed as well. Despite the fact that neither of the leads in this boys’ love manga are particularly likeable—Jonathan, an unscrupulous medical student selling drugs to his fellow classmates, and Paul, his equally unscrupulous (and married) college professor who uses that fact to blackmail him into a relationship—I actually do want to read more. Though some of the situations are unquestionably unsavory, the manga can also be very funny and even sexy on occasion. One of the most interesting things about Lies Are a Gentleman’s Manners is its setting. The manga takes place on America’s modern East Coast among the country’s wealthy, aristocratic upper class. While certainly a fictional representation, some of the social dynamics ring true.

TowerkindTowerkind by Kat Verhoeven. Originally self-published as a series of mini-comics, Towerkind was recently collected and released by Conundrum Press in a single volume. I was not previously familiar with Verhoeven’s work; Towerkind was a TCAF-inspired impulse buy. I’m very glad that I picked it up though because I’m loving this comic to pieces. Towerkind certainly won’t be to everyone’s liking, but there’s just something about the comic that I find oddly compelling. It’s surreal, strange, chilling, and ominous. Verhoeven effectively uses a small format to create a claustrophobic atmosphere that emphasizes the feeling of impending doom experienced by the characters. The volume opens with a foreword by Georgia Webber explaining the importance of the backdrop of Towerkind—Toronto’s first vertical neighborhood of high-rise apartments St. James Town—which helps to set the stage and tone for the comic itself. Towerkind follows a group of children gifted with unexplainable supernatural abilities who live in the towers of St. James Town while what may be the end of the world approaches.

Welcome to the N.H.K., Volume 5Welcome to the N.H.K., Volumes 5-8 by Kendi Oiwa. Having already read the original Welcome to the N.H.K. novel by Tatsuhiko Takimoto and having already seen the Welcome to the N.H.K. anime series (which, it turns out, was based on both the novel and Oiwa’s manga adaptation), I am already quite familiar with the story and characters Welcome to the N.H.K., but I somehow managed to forget just how dark and hard-hitting it can be. Ostensibly Welcome to the N.H.K. is a comedy, and it can be quite funny in a painful sort of way, but it deals with some pretty heavy subject matter including (but not limited to) drug use, self-harm, suicide, and mental illness. The second half of the series, while at times outrageous, tends to fall on the more serious side of things. Although I’ve always considered Welcome to the N.H.K. to be Satou’s story, the manga also places particular emphasis on Misaki’s story. It’s been a while since I’ve read or watched them, but I believe the manga actually has a unique ending that’s different from both the novel and the anime. All three version of Welcome to the N.H.K. are very good.

My Week in Manga: June 1-June 7, 2015

My News and Reviews

Happy June, everyone! I’ve been super busy (I seem to say that a lot, don’t I?) but was still able to post a few things here at Experiments in Manga last week. The winner of the Ema Toyama Twosome manga giveaway was announced. That post also includes a list of manga available in English that feature novelists and other writers. The honor of the first in-depth manga review for the month of June goes to Masayuki Ishikawa’s Maria the Virgin Witch, Volume 2. Ishikawa seems to be trying to do a lot with such a short series (it’s only three volumes), maybe a bit too much. Even if he’s not able to successfully pull everything off, I still find Maria the Virgin Witch to be an intriguing series and want to read the rest of it. Finally, over the weekend I posted the Bookshelf Overload for May. I had a pretty big haul of manga and comics last month; I largely blame TCAF.

Elsewhere online there’s been some interesting reading to be found. Justin interviewed Kate Dacey (aka The Manga Critic) over at Organization Anti-Social Geniuses. Kate was one of my biggest manga blogging inspirations, so I’ve been very happy to see her recent return. Sean Kleefeld brought my attention to a panel on the history of manhwa. Drawn & Quarterly recently released the massive anthology Drawn and Quarterly: Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels. Joe McCulloch specifically looks at the volume’s manga content. Mangabrog has a translation of a conversation between Naoki Urasawa and Hisashi Eguchi. Last but not least, two licensing announcements were made last week that I’m very excited about: Viz Media is finally releasing a print edition of One-Punch Man by ONE and Yusuke Murata and Drawn & Quarterly is releasing more of Shigeru Mizuki’s GeGeGe no Kitaro! (I loved the publisher’s first Kitaro collection.)

Quick Takes

Welcome to the N.H.K., Volume 1Welcome to the N.H.K., Volumes 1-4 by Kendi Oiwa. Originally published in print by Tokyopop, Viz Media recently announced that it would be releasing Welcome to the N.H.K. digitally in the very near future. Tatsuhiko Takimoto’s original Welcome to the N.H.K. light novel was fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed the anime adaptation, too. It was only a matter of time before I read Kendi Oiwa’s manga adaptation, though I am a little surprised that it’s taken me this long to get around to it. It has been a while since I’ve read or watched the other versions of Welcome to the N.H.K., but so far the manga is closer to the anime than it is to the novel, except that it seems a little more streamlined and perhaps even a little raunchier. Satou is a college dropout and hikikomori who has been targeted by Misaki, a young woman who is determined to rehabilitate him despite her own oddities and personal issues. In some ways, the more recent Watamote is reminiscent of Welcome to the N.H.K. Both series feature protagonists who are extremely socially awkward and both series can be hilarious, but they can also be somewhat depressing and painful to read at times, too. But, I am enjoying the manga version of Welcome to the N.H.K. a great deal.

xxxHolic: Rei, Volume 3xxxHolic: Rei, Volume 3 by CLAMP. Initially, I felt that it wasn’t necessary to have read xxxHolic in order to enjoy xxxHolic: Rei. However after reading the third volume, I feel I need to revise that opinion. It’s still not absolutely necessary to have read xxxHolic, but Rei makes a lot more sense and is much more meaningful if a reader has that background. I’ve actually not finished reading the entirety of xxxHolic, so while I was able to get the basic gist of what was going on in Rei, I did feel I was missing out on some important context while reading the third volume. However, I really like what CLAMP is doing with the series and I’m looking forward to reading the part of xxxHolic where Rei ties in directly. Rei has developed a marvelously ominous atmosphere that has a surreal, dreamlike quality to it. CLAMP’s high-contrast artwork in the series is great, too. At first, Rei felt directionless as though CLAMP didn’t really know what to do with the series, but the third volume begins to bring everything together in a way that actually makes sense. Of course, this also means the Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles connection is becoming more pronounced as well, which can sometimes feel forced.

Ze, Volume 7Ze, Volumes 7-9 by Yuki Shimizu. Despite it being a series that I tend to enjoy, it’s actually been a few years since I’ve read any of Shimizu’s supernatural boys’ love manga Ze. Although there is some dubious content (which doesn’t really surprise me much at this point), these three volumes reminded me what it is about Ze that I like so much: Shimizu has a knack for creating fascinatingly intense and complex relationship and power dynamics. The seventh and eighth volumes explore the backstories of Kotoha and Konoe; I was very satisfied with the explanation of their peculiar relationship and personalities. (Granted, most of the characters and relationships in Ze are pretty strange.) Ze, Volume 8 focuses on Shoui and Asari. Most of the story arcs have been two volumes long, but perhaps because their relationship has been developing in the background over the course of the series, the eighth volume is the only one specifically devoted to the couple. These three volumes are also very important in setting up the next and what I believe is the final story arc which will reveal more of Waki’s tragic history. I had forgotten how much of an asshole he can be, so I am curious to find out what made him the person he is.