My Week in Manga: August 5-August 11, 2013

My News and Reviews

The Boys’ Love Manga Moveable Feast came to an end last week. Khursten at Otaku Champloo did a fabulous job as the host and posted some great content. Sadly, it may be the last Manga Moveable Feast to be held, at least in the foreseeable future. I did have one last offering for August’s Feast before it ended: I announced the 801 Manga Giveaway Winner. The post also includes a wishlist of boys’ love manga. (And speaking of manga giveaway winners, the winner of the Umineko giveaway from a few months ago created a video of the unboxing of her prize.)

Last week I also posted two in-depth reviews. The first was for Suehiro Maruo’s The Strange Tale of Panorama Island. I have literally been waiting for this manga for years and am thrilled that it is finally available in English. Last Gasp has done a beautiful job with the release. The manga is an adaptation of Edogawa Rampo’s novella Strange Tale of Panorama Island which I reviewed earlier this year. The second review that I posted last week was for Isuna Hasekura’s light novel Spice & Wolf, Volume 8: Town of Strife I. Although I had previously enjoyed the series, with this volume Spice & Wolf has finally lost its charm for me.

I also updated the Resources page, adding a couple of sites. Last week I mentioned Deb Aoki’s new site Manga Comics Manga which is definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already. I also recently discovered Seth T. Hahne’s review site Good Ok Bad. I really like the site which includes reviews of manga in addition to other comics and graphic novels.

On to other interesting things found online! has the very interesting article Urasawa Naoki Talks with Top European Artists. The most recent Speakeasy podcast at Reverse Thieves is about American comics recommended for manga readers. Reverse Thieves also posted a review with Melissa Tanaka talking about her work translating Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin. (I loved the first volume of the series and my review of the second should be coming soon.) If you’re interested in what Viz Media is up to these days, ICv2 has a two part interview with Leyla Aker and Kevin Hamric and Comic Book Resources has an interview with Ken Sasaki.

Also last week was Otakon. Sean Gaffney at A Case Suitable for Treatment takes a quick look at some of the recent manga announcements. Vertical has licensed Fumi Yoshinaga’s What Did You Eat Yesterday? which I am extremely excited about. Viz Media is bringing Naoki Urasawa’s Monster back into print in a deluxe omnibus edition. I already own the series and probably won’t be double-dipping, but I’m very happy to see this re-release. Finally, Seven Seas will be publishing Milk Morinaga’s most recent yuri series Gakuen Police. I really enjoyed Morinaga’s Girl Friends and Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry Blossoms Pink, so I plan on picking up Gakuen Police, too.

Quick Takes

Animal Land, Volumes 1-4 by Makoto Raiku. I’m not sure why I was so reluctant to read Animal Land but after repeated urging from a few fans of the series I decided to finally give it a try. And I’m very glad that I did. It took me a volume or so to really settle into the story, but I definitely want to read more. Taroza is a human who was abandoned as a baby only to be rescued and raised by a young female tanuki in a world of animals. The art in Animal Land is kind of strange, mixing realism, anthropomorphism, and just plain goofiness even within the same species. Despite its cuteness, the story in Animal Land can be very dark. It’s also not particularly subtle, but it is engaging. Animal Land surprised me; so far it’s a great series.

Ichiro by Ryan Inzana. Ichiro is a young man living with his Japanese mother in New York City after his American father dies. When her work takes them both to Japan, Ichiro has the chance to get to know his grandfather who he’s never met and learn more about the country’s history and culture. One night he unexpectedly stumbles into an even stranger world. I did find the sections dealing with Ichiro’s real life to be much more compelling than his adventures in the land of the gods and immortals. However, I really liked the blend of story, mythology, and reality in Ichiro and I loved the artwork. Inzana smoothly shifts his style of art and use of color throughout the graphic novel depending on the tale being told in a very effective way.

Limit, Volumes 5-6 by Keiko Suenobu. Limit has been very hit-or-miss for me. Overall, I did like it, but I had a few problems with the story. There weren’t plot holes per se, but significant suspension of disbelief is required. (I’m still trying to figure out how Usui’s bandage ended up on the ground and why no one seemed to hear the helicopters.) But the series had some truly great moments and intense, dramatic group dynamics. The fear that the characters deal with as they struggle to survive is almost palpable. I liked most of the fifth volume which revealed some great plot twists, but found the final volume to be rather unsatisfying. Everything is tied up too neatly and nicely and there’s a fair amount of moralizing.

Triton of the Sea, Omnibus 1 (equivalent to Volumes 1-2) by Osamu Tezuka. I was delighted when Triton of the Sea was licensed as part of one of Digital Manga’s Kickstarter projects. Although I don’t have a particular affinity for merfolk, I have always enjoyed stories involving oceans and other bodies of water. Triton is a merman, one of the last of his kind when his clan is wiped out by Poseidon, the king of the sea. Unaware of his true nature, Triton is adopted by a human family. As he grows older he is drawn into a fight against Poseidon. Triton of the Sea isn’t as strong or as innovative as some of Tezuka’s other manga, but it’s still a solid adventure story. I particularly enjoyed Triton’s relationship with his family and his interactions with humans.

My Week in Manga: April 15-April 21, 2013

My News and Reviews

Well, I didn’t end up posting any in-depth manga reviews last week, but I did review a couple of novels. The first review was for Tokyo Demons, Book 1: You’re Never Alone by Lianne Sentar. I’m actually so excited about the series that I’ll be writing more about the project later this week; I couldn’t fit it all into one review. I also reviewed Toh EnJoe’s Self-Reference Engine, which may or may not actually be a novel. Whatever it is, I loved it. The book is smart, funny, and clever science fiction.

The 2013 Eisner Award nominees were announced last week. There are some really great comics and creators up for an award this year. Manga nominees include Osamu Tezuka’s Barbara, Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, Shigeru Mizuki’s NonNonBa (which I previously reviewed), and Mari Yamazaki’s Thermae Romae. Katsuya Terada also received a nomination for his work on The Monkey King.

Other interesting things seen online: It appears as though there may be a new manga publisher on the horizon—Kansai Club Publishing. Lissa Pattillo of Kuriousity shared some thoughts on the effort, which is where I first learned of it. Supposedly, Kansai Club will be launching a Kickstarter soon for its first release. Elsewhere, the most recent episode of The Cockpit podcast is devoted to Vertical’s release of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin. Ed Chavez, the marketing director at Vertical, discusses the series’ licensing, production, and promotion efforts among other things. (I’ll be posting my own review of the first volume in the near future.)

Jason Thompson’s always excellent House of 1000 Manga column featured Takako Shimura’s Wandering Son last week. (It’s a series that is personally very important to me.) And as usual, the article is great. Back in March, Tofugu had an entertaining post about common visual tropes used in manga. A followup article was posted last week—Manga Tropes Revisited. Finally, this week is the Kaori Yuki Manga Moveable Feast! The Beautiful World is hosting this month’s Feast and has posted an introduction. Later this week I’ll be reviewing the first volume of Yuki’s Grand Guignol Orchestra as my contribution to the Feast.

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan, Volumes 3-4 by Hajime Isayama. For the most part I am enjoying Attack on Titan. However, its unevenness in art and storytelling can be a bit jarring. At times the manga is genuinely thrilling while at other times it seems to be just a little off. Granted, the effect is disconcerting and does add to the dark, oppressive atmosphere of the manga. A significant portion of the fourth volume is a flashback devoted to the military training of the young soldiers. It was interesting to see this and it was a great way to get to know some of the trainees better, but it may have been more effective earlier on in the series since so many of those characters are already known to end up dead.

Black Jack, Volumes 4-6 by Osamu Tezuka. I really do adore Black Jack as a character. He can be an utter bastard, but he’s also incredibly compassionate underneath his harsh exterior. An unparalleled surgeon, he wields his skill as he chooses. Well, except when he’s blackmailed into it. But then again, he’s just as likely resort to extortion. Perhaps because of Tezuka’s medical background, a lot of attention is given to the actual operations that Black Jack performs. Although there are recurring characters in Black Jack, generally the individual stories stand alone. As with any work, some stories are stronger than others. Personally, I prefer the more plausible scenarios, although the more fantastical ones can still be enjoyable.

Eyeshield 21, Volumes 15-19 written by Riichiro Inagaki and illustrated by Yusuke Murata. In these volumes, the Deimon Devil Bats continue to advance in the fall Tokyo tournament, hoping to reach and play in the Christmas Bowl at the end of the year. I’ll admit, the artwork in Eyeshield 21 is still what appeals to me most about the series. I love Murata’s dynamic action sequences and the ridiculous imagery that often accompanies them: tidal waves, knights in armor, steam engines, etc. Each team has a visual theme that coincides with their team name, mascot, or style of play. So the Bando Spiders have spiders and webs, the Kyoshin Poseidon have water motifs, and so on. It’s really a lot of fun.

Laugh Under the Sun by Yugi Yamada. I picked up Laugh Under the Sun primarily because I tend to enjoy Yamada’s boys’ love manga. Also, it has boxing! After seriously injuring an opponent, Sohei has been reluctant to return to the ring. For the last ten years he’s managed to get by on his good looks, but he’s tired of having no direction in his life. His more successful friend Chika (who is in love with Sohei although Sohei is oblivious to it), encourages him to take up boxing again. He does, but it’s not easy—the younger boxers at the gym don’t respect Sohei much and his confidence is lacking. Laugh Under the Sun isn’t particularly deep or complicated but it is an enjoyable one-shot with a bit of romance and humor to go along with the fighting sports.

Limit, Volumes 3-4 by Keiko Suenobu. After their bus crashes on a school trip, five high school girls struggle to survive the accident and each other while waiting to be rescued. When another survivor happens upon the group, the power dynamics shift dramatically, setting off an extreme backlash from some of the members. Honestly, I didn’t like these volumes quite as much as I did the first two; some of the characters’ actions weren’t as nearly as convincing. At the same time, they are all under a tremendous amount of stress and so maybe it shouldn’t be too surprising that some of their behaviors are less than rational. Still, Limit is intense and I’m very interested in seeing how Suenobu wraps everything up in the final two volumes.

My Week in Manga: December 3-December 9, 2012

My News and Reviews

Last week was another three post week here at Experiments in Manga! (In addition to the usual My Week in Manga, that is.) First up was the announcement of the Music Manga Giveaway Winner. The post also includes a list of manga that has been licensed in English that incorporate music. The other two posts were reviews. The honor of the first in-depth manga review of December goes to Dororo, Volume 2 by Osamu Tezuka. Dororo remains one of my favorite Tezuka manga. The second review posted was for Keigo Higashino’s mystery novel Salvation of a Saint. The novel is a part of his Detective Galileo series. Only one other novel in the series, The Devotion of Suspect X, is currently available in English, but there are plans to release A Midsummer’s Equation, as well. I’m a fan of Higashino’s work (so far, Naoko is my personal favorite); I’m looking forward to reading more.

It’s been a while since I’ve pointed out interesting things that I’ve found online, but I’m hoping to get back into the habit. Last week there were two things that particularly caught my attention. First of all, there’s another My Week in Manga in town! Melinda Beasi kicked off a new video feature at Manga Bookshelf—My Week in Manga, Episode 1. Over at Yuri no Boke, Katherine Hanson is reviewing Paros no Ken (Sword of Paros)—a three volume manga series which I’m fairly certain takes place in the Guin Saga universe. It will probably never, ever be licensed in English, but the reviews really make me want to read it. Also, Linda of Animemiz’s Scribblings has posted the call for contributions for December’s Manga Moveable Feast! This month’s Feast will feature Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata’s wonderful series Hikaru no Go as well as other game-oriented manga. The Feast will take place between December 26 and December 31.

Quick Takes

Here Is Greenwood, Volumes 3-5 by Yukie Nasu. Although I loved the first two volumes of Here Is Greenwood, I wasn’t quite as taken with these three volumes. I like the series best when it is being utterly absurd, and there wasn’t quite as much of that going on here. I still enjoyed these volumes, though; the series manages to make me laugh on a fairly regular basis. The various story arcs are fairly episodic and there doesn’t seem to be an over-arching plot to be concerned about, although the continued development of the characters’ personalities is important. All of the scenarios usually found in a series centering around a school are present here—ghost stories, school festivals, summer vacations, and so on.

Limit, Volumes 1-2 by Keiko Suenobu. For some reason I wasn’t initially going to pick up Limit (it might’ve been the schoolgirl angle), but I’m really glad that I did—the series is right up my alley. A terrible bus accident claims the lives of nearly an entire class of high school students on their way to a secluded campground. Five of the surviving girls team together while waiting to be rescued. Well, “team together” might be stretching it. The girls carry a lot of hostility and can barely get along. They’ll not only have to survive the situation in which they find themselves but survive each other as well. The power and relationship dynamics in Limit are intense and exceptionally well done. Limit can be brutally realistic at times. I’ll definitely be following the rest of the series.

Sensitive Pornograph by Ashika Sakura. Sensitive Pornograph is a collection of six short, unrelated boys’ love manga. The title story and “Trophies Belong In the Bedroom” (which were probably my favorite two), were later made into an OVA. “Please, Kiss Me” is one of Sakura’s older works. The artwork isn’t as accomplished as it is in the other stories, but it’s light fun. “Non-Adult Situations” seemed like something I’d read before. “Indirect Youth” is unfortunately rape-y, but still manages to have its cute moments. “Come Home” has a nice family-oriented twist to it. Published under Digital Manga’s 801 imprint there’s plenty of explicit, uncensored sex in Sensitive Pornograph, but there’s a bit of plot, too.

Thermae Romae, Omnibus 1 (equivalent to volumes 1-2) by Mari Yamazaki. Yen Press’ deluxe hardcover release of Thermae Romae is fantastic and the content more than lives up to its presentation. Yamazaki’s personal notes included after each chapter are also a delightful addition. Thermae Romae manages to be both extremely entertaining as well as somewhat educational. Lucius is a Roman bath engineer from the Hadrian era who has a tendency to slip, fall, and almost drown in the baths on a regular basis. This somehow causes him to time-travel to various baths and hot springs in modern Japan. Lucius transforms the bizarre experiences he has in Japan into architectural and bathing innovations upon his eventual return to ancient Rome.

Berserk: The Golden Age, Arc I: The Egg of the King directed by Toshiyuki Kubooka. Kentaro Miura’s Berserk is one of my favorite manga series, particularly the “Golden Age” arc. I was very excited about the new series of anime films. The first film is a decent adaptation. It moves very, very quickly, taking the story up through the assassination of Count Julius. Unfortunately, the pace does mean that the characters have lost some of their depth. However, most of the important plot points make it into the film. I wasn’t overly fond of the sequences that relied heavily upon 3D CG animation, although occasionally it is used to great effect. The fight choreography in particular is exciting and very nicely done.