My Week in Manga: March 10-March 16, 2014

My News and Reviews

I managed to post three in-depth reviews last week, and two of them were for manga! First up was my review of Mieko Kanai’s delightful novel Indian Summer. Technically, it’s the third book in her Mejiro series, following Oh, Tama!, which I also recently read and enjoyed. However, Indian Summer was actually her first novel to be translated in English. As part of my Year of Yuri review project, I took a look at the omnibus edition of Milk Morinaga’s manga Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry Blossom Pink. So far it has been my favorite yuri manga by Morinaga to have been released in English. It’s very cute, sweet, and romantic. And to wrap things up, over the weekend I posted the next review in my “Manga March Madness” project which focuses on Takehiko Inoue’s wheelchair basketball series Real. It was the third week in March, so I reviewed Real, Volume 3. I still think that Real is one of the best comics currently being released in English.

Quick Takes

HeartHeart written by Blair Butler and illustrated by Kevin Mellon. At one point Oren “Rooster” Redmond was a run-of-the-mill office worker. Bored with his job, he decides to take control of his life. Following in the footsteps of his older brother he starts by becoming an amateur MMA fighter. After months of grueling training he finally has the opportunity to go pro, but that’s when the hard work really begins. Heart follows the rise and fall of Rooster and the sacrifices that he makes. There’s too much face punching, blood, and machismo to call Heart sentimental, but it is a very human story. Rooster’s fights both in the cage and internally with himself are also representative of anybody’s struggle to accept themselves for who they are. Sometimes, no matter how hard someone tries or how much they improve, it will simply never be enough. It’s how someone deals with that fact that really determines who they are as a person. Heart is a great comic and one that I personally found to be inspirational, and not just because I’m a martial artist.

Prince of Cats, Issue 1Prince of Cats, Issues 1-4 by Kori Michele Handwerker. Prince of Cats is an ongoing webcomic that is free to read, however the print edition of the series includes some bonus content not available online. I knew going into Prince of Cats that the comic was a queer love story, but what I didn’t realize is that the series also features a transgender character, which I was rather pleased to discover. Handwerker hand paints each page of the comic and the watercolors are beautiful. The story itself is also lovely, focusing on the relationship between Lee and Frank who were once very close but who are starting to drift apart. Despite the high school drama, Prince of Cats tends to be quiet and subdued but very realistic (with the exception of talking cats, of course.) I could easily empathize with the characters and the portrayal of growing up in a conservative, rural area. It’s hard enough trying to fit in to begin with, let alone while also being a member of a minority (of any sort). I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of Prince of Cats.

Sherlock Bones, Volume 4Sherlock Bones, Volume 4 written by Yuma Ando and illustrated by Yuki Sato. In previous volumes of Sherlock Bones the answer to the various mysteries were known from the beginning. The challenge was simply to find evidence to prove who was guilty. However, in the fourth volume Sherdog and Takeru actually have to do some legitimate investigation and sleuthing. Granted, in all but one case the readers are already aware who the culprit is. I’m still enjoying Sherlock Bones more than I expected I would. The silliness of the premise is a bit at odds with the seriousness of many of the crimes (homicide, accidental and otherwise, is the one that is most frequently encountered), but for the most part it somehow works; Sherlock Bones can be unexpectedly entertaining. I would like to say that I will be extremely disappointed if Meowriarty doesn’t make another appearance in the series. As if Sherlock Holmes as a small puppy wasn’t ridiculous enough, Moriarty as a bruiser of a cat is marvelously absurd. Also, Sherdog needs an arch-nemesis.

Stone Collector, Volume 1Stone Collector, Book 1 written by Kevin Han and illustrated by Zom-J. Stone Collector is Gen Manga’s first manhwa series, but it reads from right to left, which is a little odd. I was rather surprised when I saw the first volume of Stone Collector; I’m used to the smaller trim sizes used by Gen Manga and hadn’t realized that Stone Collector was going to be so much larger. The oversized format shows off Zom-J’s artwork, which is very clean and fairly dynamic with great facial expressions. Frequently, I found that I was vaguely reminded of Kohta Hirano and especially Hellsing. Some of the battle sequences in Stone Collector are a little difficult to follow, and the lack of backgrounds often made it seem more like a storyboard than a fully realized comic. More attention is given to the fights and monsters than is given to a completely comprehensible plot or well-developed characters. However, it is a quickly paced, action-packed series. I could see a film adaptation of Stone Collector actually doing quite well.