My Week in Manga: November 19-November 25, 2012

My News and Reviews

I was traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday last week, but I managed to post a review before heading off to my folks’ house. More specifically, I took a closer look at Kotaro Isaka’s award-winning novel Remote Control, which was published under the title Golden Slumber in Japan. I had high hopes for the book, and it started out great, but ultimately I found it to be rather frustrating. Last week was also November’s Manga Moveable Feast—A Thankful Manga Feast, hosted by Matt Blind at Rocket Bomber. I ended up getting a little more personal than I usually do here at Experiments in Manga, but I was happy with my contribution—Random Musings: A Note of Thanks for Wandering Son. (To be completely honest, posting it was a little nerve-wracking for me, too.) I believe next month’s Feast will be focusing on Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata’s series Hikaru no Go (which I love) and other game manga. I’m looking forward to it.

Quick Takes

Beautiful People by Mitsukazu Mihara. I’m rather fond of The Embalmer, so I figured I should look into the other works by Mihara that are available in English. Beautiful People is a collection of six short manga: “Princess White Snow,” “World’s End,” “Electric Angel,” “The Lady Stalker,” “beautiful people,” and “Blue Sky.” While the stories are technically unrelated, they all share a sense of melancholy and poignancy with just a touch of darkness. Mihara also tends to incorporate intriguing little plot twists into most of the stories. The six manga in Beautiful People range from magical realism and fantasy, to science fiction and post-apocalyptic settings, to stories that are grounded more in reality. It’s a fairly solid collection.

Blue by Kiriko Nananan. I had previously read a couple of Nananan’s short works, “Heartless Bitch” and “Painful Love,” which were collected in Secret Comics Japan; both pieces, and particularly Nananan’s artwork, left an impression on me. Blue is currently her only full-length work available in English. It’s a fairly simple story of first love: Kayako Kirishima is fascinated by Masami Endō, the girl who sits in front of her, and the two of them eventually become more than just friends. They obviously care for each other, but their relationship is troubled by jealousy and their inability to be completely honest and open with each other. Nananan’s artwork is simple yet striking. Blue has a reflective, poetic, and almost lyrical quality to it.

A Place in the Sun by Lala Takemiya. I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting from A Place in the Sun, an anthology of five short boys’ love manga (“Topping Boys,” “Dustbin Space,” “Afraid to Love,” “My Manga Sensei,” and the titular “A Place in the Sun”), but I was pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t previously familiar with any of Takemiya’s work, but I enjoyed this collection. There’s not much external action in A Place in the Sun; most of the drama consists of the characters’ inner turmoil. The stories are unrelated but all feature quirky characters (which I tend to favor) and generally bittersweet endings. I appreciated that the resolutions to the stories were more complex than a simple “happily ever after.”

Worst, Volumes 1-3 by Hiroshi Takahashi. It’s cruel that only three volumes of Worst were published in English; I doubt that any more of this thirty-volume and still ongoing series will be released in translation. Worst is a spinoff from Takahashi’s series Crows but stands completely on its own. I love Hana Tsukishima, Worst‘s protagonist. He’s seriously the nicest, most endearing guy that will ever beat the shit out of someone else. Worst is a quickly paced manga, moving from one story arc to the next without any hesitation. There is some humor, but the plot mostly focuses on the school and gang wars. The series is violent and the fights are actually pretty realistic. I liked Worst but there are a lot of characters and hierarchies to keep track of.