Manga Giveaway: Love at Fourteen Giveaway Winner

Love at Fourteen, Volume 1And the winner of the Love at Fourteen Giveaway is… wandering-dreamer!

As the winner, wandering-dreamer (whose writing I happen to follow at both Narrative Investigations and TheOASG) will be receiving a copy of Fuka Mizutani’s Love at Fourteen, Volume 1 as published in English by Yen Press. Love at Fourteen features a sweet story of first love, so for this giveaway I asked participants to tell me a little about some of their favorite romantic manga. Be sure to check out the giveaway comments for the detailed responses!

Some favorite manga love stories released in English:
Apothecarius Argentum by Tomomi Yamashita
Black-Winged Love by Tomoko Yamashita
A Bride’s Story by Kaoru Mori
Emma by Kaoru Mori
Hide & Seek by Yaya Sakuragi
Horimiya written by HERO, illustrated by Daisuke Hagiwara
Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances by Masami Tsuda
Kamisama Kiss by Julietta Suzuki
Love at Fourteen by Fuka Mizutani
My Love Story written by Kazune Kawahara, illustrated by Aruko
Nana by Ai Yazawa
Orange by Ichigo Takano
Sand Chronicles Hinako Ashihara
Strobe Edge by Io Sakisaka
Tramps Like Us by Yayoi Ogawa

So, if you’re looking for something a little romantic to read, the above manga may give you a good place to start. Thank you to everyone who shared your favorites with me; I hope to see you all around again for the next giveaway!

Manga Giveaway: Love at Fourteen Giveaway

January is almost over so here it is, Experiments in Manga’s first manga giveaway of the year! Let’s get right to it: For this giveaway you will all have the opportunity to enter for a chance to win Love at Fourteen, Volume 1 created by Fuka Mizutani and published in English by Yen Press. And, as always, the giveaway is open worldwide!

Love at Fourteen, Volume 1

Had I been thinking about it thematically, a giveaway for Love at Fourteen—a sweet and somewhat nostalgic story of first love—would have been nicely suited for a February or March giveaway because of Valentine’s Day or White Day, respectively. Then again, my love of manga and my love of spreading that love cannot be contained or limited to a single month! Looking at it that way, and following a peculiar train of logic, a manga giveaway featuring a love story would be more than appropriate any time of the year. Thus, Love at Fourteen! Because, why not?

So, you may be wondering, how can you win Love at Fourteen, Volume 1?

1) In the comments below, tell me a little about your favorite manga love story. (If you don’t have one, simply mention that!)
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! Each giveaway participant can earn up to two entries and has one week to submit comments. Entries can also be emailed directly to me at phoenixterran(at)gmail(dot)com if needed or preferred. I will then post the comments here in your name. The giveaway winner will be randomly selected and announced on February 3, 2016. Best of luck to you all!

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: Love at Fourteen Giveaway Winner

My Week in Manga: November 30-December 6, 2015

My News and Reviews

So, one of the many reasons that I’ve been incredibly busy lately (which led to me temporarily reducing the number of posts that I’ve been writing each week) is that I’m in the process of applying for a promotion at work. I’m currently putting the final touches on my dossier which is due later this week. At this point it’s already well over two hundred pages and has taken up a significant amount of my time; I’m really looking forward to being done and over with the whole thing so I can get back to reading and writing about things that I actually enjoy.

That being said, last week I announced the winner of the Kodansha Shoujo Smorgasbord manga giveaway. The post also includes a list of some of Kodansha Comics’ shoujo and josei manga, of which there’s a nice variety. The honor of the first in-depth review of the month went to Studio Kôsen’s Windrose, Volume 1 from Chromatic Press/Sparkler Monthly. Kôsen has had a few other releases in English, but I think that Windrose is probably my favorite so far. Finally, over the weekend I posted November’s Bookshelf Overload which will likely be the last list of its utterly ridiculous size for a while.

Elsewhere online in manga publishing announcements: Kodansha Comics manga are now available digitally on Overdrive, which is great news for libraries in Canada and the United States. Seven Seas is in the midst of celebrating ten days of licenses with some interesting as well as not-so-surprising choices. (At the moment, the new license tag on Seven Seas’ Tumblr may be the easiest place to see all of the new titles at once.) Yen Press probably made the biggest license announcement last week, though–Natsuki Takaya’s Fruits Basket is being re-released in English! Yen plans to release Takaya’s Liselotte & Witch’s Forest and Twinkle Stars as well.

Quick Takes

Alley of First LoveAlley of First Love by Ellie Mamahara. I picked up Alley of First Love without knowing much about the manga except that it was a boys’ love one-shot. Sometimes that can a risky proposition ripe with potential for disappointment, but Alley of First Love ended up being a pleasant surprise. After graduating high school, Shusuke’s best friend (and crush) Atsushi left to study abroad in England with no intention of returning to Japan. But six years later he unexpectedly comes back and Shusuke must once more face the fact that his feelings for Atsushi go far beyond friendship. There were quite a few things that appealed to me about the Alley of First Love: the leads are adult men, the prominence of their tightly-knit families and community (and the realistic rumor mills that accompany those), the touches of humor and overall heartwarming nature of the story, and so on. Readers looking forward to steamy love scenes will be left wanting as they are mostly implied rather than shown (Mamahara jokes in her notes that she’s terrible at drawing them), but the emotional connection between Shusuke and Atsushi is definitely there.

Love at Fourteen, Volume 3Love at Fourteen, Volumes 3-4 by Fuka Mizutani. I didn’t anticipate that I would enjoy the first couple of volumes of Love at Fourteen nearly as much as I actually did. However, although I also enjoyed the third and fourth volumes, my compulsion to read more of the series has somewhat diminished. Tanaka and Yoshikawa may be the leads, but I think they may actually be some of the least interesting characters in the series. But even though their personalities aren’t particularly strong, I do like them. And I like their relationship and the portrayal of the slow development of young love. But in the end, I find that I’m more intrigued by the supporting characters and their stories. Perhaps I’m not the only one who felt this way—Mizutani adds even more of them to the series in these two volumes. My favorite character has turned out to be Nagai, a delinquent with a talent for singing. However, the way that the music teacher manipulates and leads him on is troubling. She’s supposedly fallen in love with her fourteen-year-old student. I’m not sure if Mizutani intends for it to be tragically romantic, humorous, or what, but the way it plays out and is shown in the manga comes across as creepy more than anything else.

My Love Story!!, Volume 3My Love Story!!, Volume 3-6 written by Kazune Kawahara and illustrated by Aruko. I absolutely loved the first two volumes of My Love Story!! and so have made a point to collect the manga even though I’ve fallen behind in actually reading it. At first, I wasn’t really sure how long the series would be able to last before the gimmick was completely played out and became tiresome. After all, the manga was initially intended to be a one shot. Happily, My Love Story!! has yet to lose its charm for me. It continues to be funny and sweet, earnest and endearing. The story is beginning to expand more, as well. While Takeo and Yamato’s incredibly adorable and wholesome romance is at the heart of it all, the manga is now exploring the lives and relationships of their friends and family members as well. At one point it seemed as though My Love Story!! was going to be somewhat episodic, but some longer, continuing storylines are being introduced as are new, recurring characters. My Love Story!! always manages to make me happier just by reading it, so I’ll definitely continue following it.

My Week in Manga: May 11-May 17, 2015

My News and Reviews

Well, I was hoping to post the recap of my recent visit to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival last week, but I haven’t actually managed to finish writing it yet. (Things have been very busy at work and home, and the taiko performance season is ramping up, too.) So, the plan is to post it sometime later this week instead. Fortunately, I did have a couple of in-depth manga reviews in reserve for last week just in case the TCAF post fell through. The first review, Yuki Urushibara’s Mushishi, Volume 3, is a part of my ongoing monthly horror manga review project. Mushishi continues to be one of my favorite series. This particular volume is notable as it reveals some of Ginko’s backstory. Last week I also reviewed the most recent installment of Bruno Gmünder’s Gay Manga line, Mentaiko Itto’s Priapus, which is a highly entertaining collection of gay erotic manga. The volume marks Itto’s official English-language debut and contains some pretty ridiculous stories and characters.

While I haven’t managed to fully report back on TCAF 2015, other TCAF posts are already being made. The Comics Reporter is making an effort to create an index of stories and references, but I specifically wanted to point out the recordings of some of the panels at The Comics Beat. Other items of interest from elsewhere online include Ryan Holmberg’s most recent What Was Alternative Manga? column at The Comics Journal—Blood Plants: Mizuki Shigeru, Kitaro, and the Japanese Blood Industry—and the 2015 edition of Advice on Manga Translation from Manga Translators over at Organization Anti-Social Geniuses. As for licensing news, Kodansha Comics announced a deluxe omnibus edition of Fairy Tail and Dark Horse will be adding a few new titles: Kentaro Miura’s Giganto Maxia, Spike Chunsoft and Takashi Tsukimi’s Danganronpa, and Kengo Hanazawa’s I Am a Hero, in addition to rescuing CLAMP’s RG Veda.

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan, Volume 15Attack on Titan, Volume 15 by Hajime Isayama. Although it certainly has its moments and its own peculiar charm, Isayama’s artwork has never really been one of the strengths of Attack on Titan. There has certainly been improvement over the course of the series, and some of the individual panels and sequences are fantastic, but the artwork in this particular volume is terribly inconsistent and sometimes doesn’t even make sense to the point of distraction. But what Attack on Titan lacks in artistic finesse, the series makes up for with its large, engaging cast of characters and its constantly evolving story. Granted, with plot twist after plot twist after plot twist, the story is frequently on the verge of getting out of hand. Fortunately, Isayama reins it in a bit with this volume, allowing several of the story threads to play out and come to some sort of resolution before throwing something completely new into the mix, once again ending with a cliffhanger. Sometimes I miss the days when Attack on Titan was closer to being straight up horror, but all of the recent political intrigue can be interesting, too.

Fairy Tail, Volume 47Fairy Tail, Volumes 47-48 by Hiro Mashima. Thanks to Mashima’s afterword in the forty-seventh volume, I think I’ve finally figured out why Fairy Tail has been frustrating me recently—it’s his admitted lack of foreshadowing. The sudden plot developments that seem to come out of nowhere, although some of them are admittedly pretty great, make the series feel very disjointed and to some extent even directionless. Instead of inspiring feelings of excitement in how the story is progressing, Fairy Tail often inspires bafflement over its twists and revelations. In the same afterword Mashima indicates that he hopes to improve the foreshadowing, but he also says that he’ll be including plenty of red herrings as well, so I’m not sure how much that’s going to help. But even considering the unevenness of the series’ narrative, there’s still some good fun to be had in these two volumes. There are dragons, epic battles, and plenty of opportunities for the characters to demonstrate just how powerful they have become and just how badass they can be. Mashima is even able to work in some additional backstory for some of the characters amidst all the chaos.

Love at Fourteen, Volume 1Love at Fourteen, Volumes 1-2 by Fuka Mizutani. I was actually taken by surprise by how much I ended up enjoying the first two volumes of Love at Fourteen. I had heard good things about the series, but I didn’t really expect that I would be so taken with a series about the romantic turmoils of middle school students. Tanaka and Yoshikawa have been close friends for some time and that friendship has started to blossom into something greater. They are becoming more aware of themselves and of each other. But their school doesn’t allow dating at such a young age, so they do what they can to keep their relationship a secret. So far the series is a chaste, slowly developing romance, but realistically that’s how it should be. Love at Fourteen is charming and somewhat nostalgic without being syrupy sweet. There’s even some queer representation—a girl who has fallen in love with another girl—which I’m always happy to see. However, I will admit that I am a little concerned about how the relationship between the music teacher and one of the other students may develop since some of her behavior towards him has been has been borderline if not blatantly inappropriate.

Carried by the Wind: Tsukikage RanCarried by the Wind: Tsukikage Ran directed by Akitaro Daichi. I am just now discovering Carried by the Wind; I completely missed when it was first released and happened across the thirteen-episode series more by accident than anything else. I’m glad that I did, though, because it is a tremendous amount of fun. Carried by the Wind is a comedic homage, without quite being a parody, of samurai films and television series. Tsukikage Ran, a skilled swordswoman, is a wandering ronin who would much rather drink a good bottle of sake and take a nap than get into a fight. Meow is a talented Chinese martial artist who means well but tends to get herself into trouble with her meddling. Although their attitudes and personalities are almost complete opposites—Ran is cool and collected while Meow is brash and prone to outbursts—the two end up becoming traveling companions of sorts. Each episode of Carried by the Wind stands completely on its own and generally follows a somewhat predictable story arc with Ran and Meow righting some sort of wrongdoing. But with its humor, marvelous lead characters, and great fight scenes, Carried by the Wind is a highly entertaining series.