My Week in Manga: June 8-June 14, 2015

My News and Reviews

Two reviews were posted last week at Experiments in Manga. First up was my review of the short comic The Ring of Saturn by Kaiju, a creative team made up of Kate Rhodes and Jennifer Xu. I had previously read the comic online at Sparkler Monthly and loved it, but now it’s available in print! The second review was of Takako Shimura’s Wandering Son, Volume 8. The series is an incredibly important one to me, and I’m very glad that it’s being released in English. The eighth volume ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, and I have no idea when the ninth volume will be released, so now I’m doubly anxious.

Elsewhere online, the MASSIVE/Gay Manga tumblr talks a bit about the success of Gengoroh Tagame’s first manga for a general audience, My Brother’s Husband. It sounds like there’s an ongoing effort to license the series for an English-language release, which I really hope happens! Drawn & Quarterly made an interesting licensing announcement of its own, Yeon-sik Hong’s Uncomfortably, Happily. You don’t hear about many new manhwa being released in English these days. (Although Netcomics does seem to be making a quiet comeback.) Frederik L. Schodt spoke briefly on To the Best of Our Knowledge about Osamu Tezuka and his works. Finally, Organization Anti-Social Geniuses continues its Manga Advice series, this time interviewing four manga designers.

Quick Takes

My Little Monster, Volume 8My Little Monster, Volume 8 by Robico. The last volume of My Little Monster got my hopes up as the series seemed to be regaining its momentum. I wouldn’t say my hopes were dashed reading the eight volume since there were plenty of funny and dramatic moments, not to mention the introduction of a new character as well as several confessions of love, but the series still isn’t going anywhere fast. Both Robico and the characters know this, too, and even comment on the fact that nothing has really changed all that much from the beginning of the story. Although, I do suppose that it’s an important development that Shizuku and Haru are now officially a couple. (Except that I thought they already were? Guess I was wrong.) My Little Monster does frustrate me a little with all of its one step forward, one step back approach to storytelling and relationships, and it seems to have forgotten some of the major plot threads that were started earlier, but I do still like the series as a whole. My Little Monster can be very funny at times and the quirky characters continue to amuse me. So, I’ll likely keep reading.

Say I Love You, Volume 7Say I Love You, Volume 7 by Kanae Hazuki. Although Mei and Yamato are clearly the main characters of Say I Love You, large portions of the series are actually devoted to their friends, classmates, and families. After showing the outcome of Mei and Yamato’s date (which his sister crashed before his older brother was able to drag her away) and the result of their first night spent completely alone together, the seventh volume largely focuses on Megumi’s story. After Megumi was rejected by Yamato, who remains devoted to Mei, she has been trying to ruin all of Mei’s new-found friendships. She actually ends up making herself miserable in the process and ends up withdrawing more and more from the people who legitimately care about her. Like many of the characters in Say I Love You, Megumi is dealing with some pretty serious personal issues. Her self-confidence has been destroyed, she doesn’t trust other people, and her relationships are falling apart. As unlikeable as she can be at times, it’s still heartbreaking to see her intense unhappiness. But the growth and development of the characters in Say I Love You is excellent.

Wuvable OafWuvable Oaf by Ed Luce. I was introduced to Ed Luce and his work thanks to TCAF 2014’s Queer Mixer where I learned that Fantagraphics would be releasing a collection of his most well-known creation, Wuvable Oaf. The volume opens with “Music Is My Boyfriend,” the first major Wuvable Oaf story arc which follows the titular Oaf, an ex-pro wrestler who now spends his time crafting handmade dolls (stuffed with his own body hair) and working at Oaf’s Home for Wayward Kitties Who Are Really Cute & Need Lotsa Love, and his relationship with Eiffel, a much smaller and extremely surly fellow who is the lead singer of Ejaculoid, a disco grindcore band. The volume also includes a collection of Wuvable Oaf short stories and “The Official Handbook to the Oafiverse,” which contains detailed (and humorous) character profiles among other things. Oaf himself is adorable and an absolute sweetheart. Although occasionally kind of gross, Wuvable Oaf can be surprisingly sweet and charming, filled with all sorts of marvelous queerness. Wuvable Oaf is also very, very funny. And it just so happens to be a cat comic, too!

Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Volume 2Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Volume 2 by Miki Yoshikawa. Despite the manga’s title, the witches of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches have yet to make their presence known, though I’m assuming it’s only a matter of time. I enjoyed the first volume Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches a great deal. I enjoyed the second as well, but it didn’t manage to leave as big of an impression on me. The fanservice seemed a little more forced in the second volume, too. Still, the series is a comedy more than anything else and I continue to find it to be highly entertaining. (But then again, I do have a proclivity towards stories that include body-swapping and gender play.) Yamada has discovered that he has a strange ability that allows him to switch bodies with another person if they kiss. He doesn’t know why he has this power, nor does he completely understand how it works. But even so, he and the few people who know about it are more than willing to use Yamada’s peculiar skill to their advantage, whether it’s appropriate or not. (Often it’s not.) This of course means there’s all sorts of kissing and other antics going on.

Manga Giveaway: Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches Giveaway Winner

Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Volume 1And the winner of the Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches manga giveaway is… Anna!

As the winner, Anna will be receiving a copy of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Volume 1 by Miki Yoshikawa as published by Kodansha Comics. There seem to have been quite a few manga released recently that feature witches, so for this giveaway I asked participants to tell me a little about their favorite witches in manga. Check out the giveaway comments for all of the detailed responses, and check out below for a list of additional witchy manga!

Some manga featuring witches that have been licensed in English:
The Ancient Magus’ Bride by Kore Yamazaki
Berserk by Kentaro Miura
The Big Adventures of Majoko by Tomomi Mizuna
Cowa! by Akira Toriyama
Dragon Knights by Mineko Ohkami
The Good Witch of the West written by Noriko Ogiwara, illustrated by Haruhiko Momokawa
Himeyuka & Rozione’s Story by Sumomo Yumeka
Innocent W by Kei Kusunoki
Knights by Minoru Murao
Kurohime by Masanori Katakura
MÄR by Nobuyuki Anzai
Maria the Virgin Witch by Masayuki Ishikawa
Princess Knight by Osamu Tezuka
Puella Magi Kazumi Magica: The Innocent Malice by Magica Quartet
Puella Magi Madoka Magica by Magica Quartet
Record Of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch written by Ryo Mizuno, illustrated by Yoshihiko Ochi
Rosario+Vampire by Akihisa Ikeda
Rosario+Vampire: Season II by Akihisa Ikeda
Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro by Sato Kiyuzuki
Soul Eater by Atsushi Ohkubo
Soul Eater Not! by Atsushi Ohkubo
Spell of Desire by Tomu Ohmi
Sugar Sugar Rune by Moyoco Anno
Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle by CLAMP
Ultra Maniac by Wataru Yoshizumi
Umineko: When They Cry written by Ryukishi07
Witchcraft Works by Ryu Mizunagi
xxxHolic by CLAMP
xxxHOlic: Rei by CLAMP
Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches by Miki Yoshikawa
Zone-00 by Kiyo Kyujyo

Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway and shared your favorite witches with me. I hope to see you again for the next one!

Manga Giveaway: Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches Giveaway

The end of April is almost here, which means it’s time for another manga giveaway! With thanks to Kodansha Comics, this month you will all have a chance to win a copy of Miki Yoshikawa’s Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Volume 1. (I unintentionally ended up with two copies, so my gain is also your gain!) As always, the giveaway is open worldwide.

Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Volume 1

What with the recent releases of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Maria the Virgin Witch, and Witchcraft Works, it seems as though manga featuring witches are becoming increasingly prevalent in English. And that’s not even to mention all of the series that don’t actually have the word “witch” in the title. Now, despite it’s cover and title, after only one volume Yamada-kun doesn’t seem to necessarily have anything to do with witches, but I’ve been assured by others that they are indeed a part of the series.

As with vampires, I don’t have a particular interest in witches, though that’s certainly not going to stop me from reading a manga. (Interestingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, vampires appear to be more prevalent in manga intended for women while witches appear to be more prevalent in manga intended for men.) I have no idea why witches seem to have become so popular recently, but they’ve actually been around in manga for a while.

One of my favorite witch manga is the sadly out-of-print Sugar Sugar Rune. Berserk, another favorite series of mine, also features a young witch as a main character in its recent story arc. The two series are drastically different from each other, though; just because a manga has a witch in it doesn’t mean it will be like any of the others!

So, you may be wondering, how can you win the first volume of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Volume 1?

1) In the comments below, tell me about your favorite witch from manga. (If you don’t have one, or have never read a manga about a witch, you can simply mention that instead.)
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 person can earn up to two entries for this giveaway and has one week to submit comments. If you have trouble with the form, or if you would prefer, entries can also be sent to me via email at phoenixterran(at)gmail(dot)com. I will then post the comments here in your name. The giveaway winner will be randomly selected and announced on May 6, 2015. Good luck!

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: Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches Giveaway Winner

My Week in Manga: April 13-April 19, 2015

My News and Reviews

Two more in-depth manga reviews were posted at Experiments in Manga last week, and once again they were both for manga. Though, unlike the week before which featured newer manga, last week’s reviews focused on a couple of older titles, one of which is actually out of print. That would be After School Nightmare, Volume 3 by Setona Mizushiro. This is the last volume in the series that I had previously read before embarking on my monthly horror manga review project, so I’m particularly curious to see where the manga goes from here. But, since next month’s horror manga review will be Mushishi, Volume 3, I’ll have to wait until June to find out. The other review posted last week was for Yak Haibara’s Sengoku Basara: Samurai Legends, Omnibus 1. Technically, it’s an adaptation of the Sengoku Basara 2 video game, but no familiarity with the games are needed and it stands alone as its own work. In addition to the incredibly over-the-top and badass characters and fight sequences, there’s actually some legitimate history mixed in as well. I find the series highly entertaining.

There wasn’t a lot in the way of manga news and announcements that I saw last week. (Granted, I was pretty busy paying attention to more pressing matters). If I missed something noteworthy, please do let me know! I would, however, like to mention Vertical’s account, which continues provide a bit of fun in addition to excellent insight into the North American manga industry. I was particularly interested in the answer to a question about the impact of libraries on book sales since I happen to be a librarian. Also, Seven Seas has an account, too, which I tend to forget about for some reason. Elsewhere online, Organization Anti-Social Geniuses has an interesting article about a used bookstore owner who nabbed more than 400 volumes of manga without even really knowing a thing about manga. Finally, two of Deb Aoki’s manga articles for Publishers Weekly were recently released from behind a paywall: Manga Publishing Update, Spring 2015 and Manga Publishers Try Games, Erotica to Grow Market.

Quick Takes

Karneval, Omnibus 1Karneval, Omnibus 1 (equivalent to Volumes 1-2) by Touya Mikanagi. Gareki is a fairly successful thief, but when a burglary doesn’t exactly go according to plan, he becomes the accidental protector of a strange young man called Nai and the both of them suddenly find themselves drawing the attention of Circus, a powerful association charged with dealing with criminals and situations regular law enforcement can’t handle. When Karneval was licensed, a resounding cry went up from its fans. I can definitely understand the appeal of the series. It has action and adventure, some sweetness as well as darkness, heroes with tragic backstories, mysteries and secret (and not-so-secret) organizations, quirky and attractive characters and designs (mostly men, but a few women as well), and so on. But although I thoroughly enjoyed parts of the first omnibus of Karneval, it didn’t quite grab my attention as much as I was hoping, or expecting, it would. I think this may be because the worldbuilding doesn’t feel as cohesive as I would like it to be. Mikanagi is smashing together some interesting and engaging elements and ideas, but they’re not quite meshing yet. However, I suspect the connections will become clearer as the series progresses.

Manga Dogs, Volume 3Manga Dogs, Volume 3 by Ema Toyama. The third volume of Manga Dogs is also its last. It’s an amusing gag manga, but I think three volumes is just about right for the series. If it was stretched out for too much longer, it would likely become tiresome. Manga Dogs requires a high-tolerance for shallow characters, foolish comedy, and general absurdity. Although there is something of an overarching storyline, Manga Dogs tends to be fairly episodic, relying on the jokes to carry the manga more so than the characters or plot. As for the plot, at this point in the series Tezuka’s manga Teach Me Buddha is unsurprisingly in danger of cancellation as is the school’s manga program. Tezuka and the three air-headed male students who have attached themselves to her must work together in order to stop that from happening. Anyone who has read the first two volumes of Manga Dogs probably already has a pretty good idea of how well that works. I find Manga Dogs to be funniest when the humor directly ties into the manga industry or the mangaka’s creative processes. Although it’s taken quite seriously by Tezuka and the others, I’d actually be interested in reading Teach Me Buddha as a parody of shoujo manga; it has the potential to be funnier than Manga Dogs manages to be.

Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Volume 1Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Volume 1 by Miki Yoshikawa. I first learned about Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches when it was added to Crunchyroll Manga. I heard very good things about it at the time, and it sounded like something that I would enjoy, so I was very pleased when Kodansha Comics picked it up for print release. I’ll admit, I tend to enjoy body-swap manga, especially when there is some gender-swapping involved. (Which, now that I think about it, is probably more often the case than not.) Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches is one of the most entertaining examples of that particular subgenre that I’ve read recently. At this point, the series is definitely being played as a comedy. The trigger for the body-swapping is kissing, and there certainly is plenty of that in the first volume. Girls kissing guys. Guys kissing other guys. (Perhaps later on in the series, there will even be girls kissing other girls.) There are kisses for everyone! Not unexpectedly, there is also a bit of fanservice. However, for the most part it doesn’t tend to be overly sexualized and generally makes sense within context of the manga. Yoshikawa used to be an assistant to Fairy Tail‘s Hiro Mashima; some of that influence can easily be seen in the artwork of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches.