My Week in Manga: December 6-December 12, 2010

My News and Reviews

I don’t have much manga news for this past week, but there was some One Piece Manga Moveable Feast carryover, including an episode of the Manga Out Loud podcast devoted to the series. The Manga Curmudgeon, as the host, is keeping track of everything still trickling in. As for me, I posted Part 5 of my Library Love series. I do apologize for it being a bit more spoilery than usual, but that can be difficult to avoid when writing about middle volumes. I also posted a review of Ryu Murakami’s Popular Hits of the Showa Era (also known as Karaoke Terror) due to be released by W. W. Norton in January. The novel is a dark satire, absurd, and potentially offensive, but I quite enjoyed it.

Quick Takes

Cain, Volume 1 by Le Peruggine. I’m sorry to say, but the first volume of Cain, which was originally an Italian publication, did almost nothing for me. I didn’t get a good feeling for what was going on and I didn’t get attached to any of the characters or care about their relationships. Perhaps if I had read all three volumes of the series together, I might have a better opinion. I like the cover art, but the illustration work inside doesn’t reach the same quality and is sometimes difficult to follow. There are hints that Cain may be something other than human, which could be interesting, but I probably won’t follow up with the rest of the series.

Chi’s Sweet Home, Volume 3 by Konami Kanata. This series is simply wonderful and gets my vote for one of the best new series released in 2010. For cat lovers at least, Chi’s Sweet Home is a must. Much of Volume 3 explores Chi’s relationship with Blackie, or the Bear-Cat as the humans call him. Chi learns a lot about what it means to be a cat from Blackie and as much as Chi can annoy him, he’s grown quite fond of the kitten. As for Chi, she’s become quite attached to Blackie and her human family. Unfortunately, cats aren’t allowed at their apartment complex and the super is on a mission to track down the offending tenants.

D. N. Angel, Volumes 1-13 by Yukiru Sugisaki. D. N. Angel was one of the first and favorite manga series that my youngest sister read. Daisuke Niwa has a rather unusual condition—whenever he experiences intense romantic feelings, he transforms into the legendary Phantom Thief Dark, just like his ancestors before him. Sugisaki can’t seem to decide whether D. N. Angel is a romantic comedy or a darker, more serious fantasy and it sometimes feels like she’s just making things up as she goes along. However, I still found the series to be fun and enjoyable to read if I didn’t think too hard about it. The artwork is very appealing, although occasionally inconsistent.

Happy Mania, Volumes 1-5 by Moyoco Anno. Shigeta wants nothing more in life than a boyfriend. Unfortunately, she’s obsessive, self-absorbed, and goes a little bit crazy once she sets her sights on a guy. It’s hard to see why Shigeta has any friends at all. Even Takahashi, who desperately loves her and who she can’t seem to admit is perfect for her, questions his devotion. She ends up sleeping with plenty of men, but has yet to find a satisfying relationship. Even when she knows better, poor Shigeta makes one bad decision after another. It might be terrible, but Shigeta’s self-destructive tendencies make for one hilarious manga. Happy Mania is a great josei series and I’ll definitely be picking up the rest of the volumes.

Spirit Marked, written by Colter Hillman and illustrated by Yishan Li. While I liked the art (for the most part), Spirit Marked doesn’t have a particularly original story. This English language manga had a lot of potential but it unfortunately doesn’t deliver. Instead of a single volume, it probably would have worked better as a longer series which would allow more exploration of the characters and a chance to differentiate its plot. As it is, Spirit Marked seems more like an outline or a proposal rather than a finished work—the plot feels rushed and incomplete. In addition to the title story, the book also includes an unrelated bonus story called Clockwork Heart.

My Week in Manga: October 11-October 17, 2010

My News and Reviews

Finally, I have posted my first in-depth manga review in over a month—Brilliant Blue, Volume 2. I’m really going to try to post more manga reviews in addition to all of the reviews I post for novels and nonfiction. My goal right now is two in-depth manga reviews per month. Eventually I’d like to do one a week, but that would be pushing it for me right now.

In other news, I also reviewed the first Haruhi Suzumiya light novel, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Although it has a few issues, overall I found the book to hilarious and quite enjoyable. Also, be on the lookout for my next manga giveaway starting later this week. Enter for a chance to win a nice copy of Mushishi, Volume 6.

Quick Takes

Chi’s Sweet Home, Volumes 1-2 by Konami Kanata. This series is just so incredibly cute and adorable. Kanata has perfectly captured the felineness of Chi and the loving cluelessness of her adopted human family. The artwork, while simple, is marvelous. I’m very glad that Vertical chose to keep it in color—I think it would have lost some of its effectiveness otherwise. Chi’s babytalk really annoyed me at first, but I eventually grew used to it or was at least able to ignore it for the most part. I’m not sure how much this series will appeal to those who aren’t cat people, but I absolutely love it.

Love Hurts: Aishiatteru Futari by Suzuki Tanaka. Love Hurts is a collection of four stories, three of which are vaguely boys’ love and all of which are slightly on the dark side. The first two stories are very loosely related to each other while the others are completely separate. It’s kind of a strange collection with murderers, superheros, and aliens all playing their part. It’s not great but it’s certainly not horrible and I did enjoy reading it. Plus Koharu has simply got to be one of the cutest manga guys I’ve seen in a while and fortunately for me, he shows up in two of the stories.

MPD-Psycho, Volumes 4-6 written by Eiji Otsuka and illustrated by Shou Tajima. This series is turning out to be quite different than what I was expecting, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. From the first few volumes I thought it would be mostly about Kazuhiko Amamiya, but it turns out he’s a very small part in a very big picture that has yet to be complete revealed. Although the story is becoming more complex and convoluted, it is still utterly fascinating and I can’t help but want to read more. Tajima’s artwork continues to be fantastically unsettling, as does Otsuka’s story.

Song of the Hanging Sky, Volumes 1-2 by Toriko Gin. Published by the now defunct Go! Comi, only the first two volumes of what I believe is a four volume series have been released in English. Toriko’s character designs, which appear to be heavily influenced by Native American cultures, are simply beautiful. The story can be a little confusing at times, but things become more clear as the series progresses. The first volume introduces the characters while the second volume looks more closely at the tragic history of the ancient race of bird-people. I really hope someone picks up this license—it’s very different from most of the other manga I’ve read so far and quite lovely.

Yellow, Omnibus Editions 1-2 by Makoto Tateno. I had previously read the first omnibus edition but had forgotten how funny it was. The second volume takes a much darker turn, although some of the humor remains. Yellow is by far my favorite work by Tateno that I’ve read so far. Taki and Goh are simply marvelous together and the secondary characters are great as well. It’s starts off rather episodic, but by the end there’s a solid plotline going on. Sometimes the solutions to the riddles posed are rather ridiculous, and the drama can be over the top and completely unrealistic, but the series is a lot of fun to read. I’ll definitely be looking into Yellow 2.

Mushishi, Episodes 1-26. I love Yuki Urushibara’s manga series Mushishi and was excited to learn that an anime series of the story was also made. This has to be one of the most literal anime adaptations that I’ve seen—it’s like reading the manga except it has sound and color. The backgrounds and landscapes are absolutely gorgeous and the music lovely and atmospheric. Although the stories appear in a slightly different order, they’re all original to the manga. It’s not a series for everyone—it’s slow and episodic, and rather strange at times, but I love it.