My Week in Manga: March 14-March 20, 2016

My News and Reviews

I managed to post two in-depth manga reviews at Experiments in Manga last week, though it looks like I’ll only be posting one this coming week since taiko will be keeping me pretty busy with a number of different performances and related events. Inio Asano’s A Girl on the Shore was the first manga that I reviewed last week. Like the rest of Asano’s work that I’ve read, it can be emotionally intense and hard-hitting at times, but it’s very well done. As part of my monthly horror manga review project, last week I also took a look Mushishi, Volumes 8, 9, and 10, the final installment in the English-language release of Yuki Urushibara’s award-winning debut. Although I’ve reached the end of the series proper, I’m planning on at least more Mushishi-related post before I’m through.

Elsewhere online: The BBC has an interesting piece on Keiko Takemiya—The godmother of manga sex in Japan. Rokudenashiko was interviewed by the Anne Ishii of MASSIVE about controversial art and free speech. Otaku USA posted an interview with translator and scholar Frederik L. Schodt about his work and Osamu Tezuka. An interview with Steve Oliff, the colorist who worked on Marvel’s release of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira, was posted at Anime News Network. In licensing news, Dark Horse has picked up the Psycho-Pass: Inspector Shinya Kogami manga written by Midori Goto and illustrated by Natsuo Sai. Finally, the Skip Beat! crowdfunding effort that I mentioned a couple weeks ago has moved from Indiegogo to Kickstarter.

Quick Takes

Dream Fossil: The Complete Stories of Satoshi KonDream Fossil: The Complete Stories of Satoshi Kon by Satoshi Kon. Compiling fifteen of Kon’s short manga from between 1984 and 1989, as well as an essay by Susumu Hirasawa (which was a pleasant surprise), Dream Fossil is a somewhat peculiar volume which will probably be of most interest to Kon enthusiasts although other readers may find parts of it appealing as well. As is the case with so many collections, some stories are much stronger than others. Some of the unevenness can likely be attributed to the fact that Dream Fossil consists of Kon’s early works in which his narrative techniques were still being refined and developed. I actually found myself frustrated with some of the stories because they read less like manga and more like a storyboard or broad outline for a more involved work; some of the stories and ideas seem like they would have been better conveyed through animation rather than sequential art. Even so, as a whole I did enjoy Dream Fossil. While the storytelling itself was sometimes weak, the underlying concepts and imagery were great.

Master Keaton, Volume 2Master Keaton, Volumes 2-4 written by Hokusei Katsushika and Takashi Nagasaki and illustrated by Naoki Urasawa. It’s been some time since I read the first volume of Master Keaton, but being a fairly episodic series without much of an overarching story it wasn’t at all difficult to fall right back into the manga. I first picked up Master Keaton because of Urasawa’s involvement with the manga. This is still a major draw for me, but I continue to read the series because I genuinely enjoy the stories and characters. Keaton is sent all over the world to investigate a wide range of cases, so there’s plenty of variety in the manga’s stories as well. Although the series’ drama, action and adventure is certainly engaging, I especially like the chapters that take advantage of Keaton’s archaeological and academic interests.  Master Keaton, while fictionalized, makes use of actual people, places, and events, which I like. (I’ve even learned a few factual tidbits from the manga.) Occasionally the series does get bogged down in historical details that don’t necessarily further the story, though.

The Tipping PointThe Tipping Point edited by Alex Donoghue and Tim Pilcher. Published as part of the fortieth anniversary celebrations of the comics publisher Humanoids, The Tipping Point collects thirteen short works from creators influenced by Japanese, Franco-Belgian, and American comics traditions. The anthology specifically caught my attention due to the mangaka involved—Taiyo Matsumoto, Atsushi Kaneko, Naoki Urasawa, Keiichi Koike, and Katsuya Terada—although the European and American creators are notable in their own right. (Sadly, though the collection touts its own innovation and diversity, only male creators are represented, something that is quickly glossed over in the introduction.) I greatly enjoyed the individual comics which range in subject, genre, and tone, but as a collection The Tipping Point seems to be missing a sense of cohesiveness and context. In the end, I was left wondering why these particular creators and why these particular works were selected to be brought together. Perhaps the theme of a “tipping point” was simply too vague or broad.

My Week in Manga: December 15-December 21, 2014

My News and Reviews

Last week was another week with two reviews here at Experiments in Manga. My monthly horror manga review project is now underway, so I took a look at Setona Mizushiro’s After School Nightmare, Volume 1, which is a very intriguing start to the series. Next month I’ll start in on the in-depth reviews for Yuki Urushibara Mushishi and continue to alternate between the two series until the review project is completed. Last week I also reviewed The Early Cases of Akechi Kogorō by Edogawa Rampo, which I was very excited to read. The volume collects four of the earliest stories featuring Rampo’s great detective. And over at Manga Bookshelf proper, I and the rest of the Manga Bookshelf bloggers talked a little about the Manga the Year of 2014, noting some of our favorite things from the past year. Like I did last year, later this week I’ll also be posting my own list of notable releases from 2014.

I’m still extraordinarily busy at work as I settle into being the temporary boss of my unit for the next seven months or so, so I’ve been a bit preoccupied and haven’t had a chance to closely follow what’s going on in the mangasphere these days. However, I did still manage to catch a few interesting things to read online. Jason Thompson’s most recent House of 1000 Manga column focuses on Learn English with JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, which I am now determined to track down. J. R. Brown has an introductory post to Boys in Skirts, her series of article and reviews focusing on otokonoko at Mode: Verbose. I also came across a fascinating post about the popularity of the Year 24 Group. I’m not familiar with the author or the blog, but it looks like it should have other promising manga articles as well.

Quick Takes

Angel Sanctuary, Volume 16Angel Sanctuary, Volumes 16-20 by Kaori Yuki. Here it is, the tumultuous conclusion to the epic Angel Sanctuary. By the end of the series, Yuki actually does manage to pull everything together in a way that mostly makes sense and proves that she actually can kill off a main character, something that I had my doubts about. I know a fair number of people who adore Angel Sanctuary, but while there were some things I really liked about the series, overall I found it pretty frustrating. Maybe I just wasn’t paying close enough attention, but more often than not I found Angel Sanctuary to be confusing and difficult to follow with a huge cast of characters, none of whom are exactly who they initially appear to be, and plot twist after plot twist. Granted, that did mean the series was consistently drama-filled. But with a little more editorial guidance, Angel Sanctuary could have been something phenomenal instead of just good. I did appreciate the manga’s core, however. Love is the driving force behind Angel Sanctuary. All of the characters are dealing with love in one way or another; it is the source of tremendous good as well as tremendous evil, but in the end it is shown to be a redemptive force.

Master Keaton, Volume 1Master Keaton, Volume 1 written by Hokusei Katsushika and Takashi Nagasaki and illustrated by Naoki Urasawa. One of the many reasons that I became so enamored with manga was thanks to Urasawa’s series Pluto, so I’m always curious and excited when a new work of his is licensed in English. Admittedly, Master Keaton, while newly translated, is one of Urasawa’s older collaborations that began in the late 1980s. The titular Keaton (technically Hiraga-Keaton) is a half-Japanese, half-English archaeology professor who works as an insurance investigator on the side. He also used to be a member of the British Army’s Special Air Service, which adds survival skills and combat experience to his already impressive and eclectic set of talents. I enjoyed the first volume of Master Keaton. The manga has a nice mix of action and adventure, mystery and detective work, and even a bit of family drama. Occasionally it can be a little heavy on politics and history which interrupts the series’ pacing, but generally the slower parts are interesting, too. It’s also worth mentioning that the book design and production quality of Viz’s release of Master Keaton is particularly nice.

Open Spaces and Closed Places, Parts 1-2Open Spaces and Closed Places, Volumes 1-6 by Saicoink. I don’t remember exactly when or how I first heard about the mini-comic series Open Spaces and Closed Places, but it was recently brought to my attention again when Saicoink released the sixth and final volume. I finally got around to reading the series, and I absolutely loved it. Jirou is the boss of the delinquents at his school. When he isn’t busy getting into fights, he’s pining for Oscar, the president of the student council. Oscar likes Jirou, too, but for various reasons doesn’t feel he can accept his love, and so spends much of his time teasing the other boy instead. It’s a delightful relationship, both adorable and sad at the same time. Soon after Open Spaces and Closed Places begins, fantastical elements are introduced and the series becomes more and more surreal as it goes, culminating in a spectacular dream sequence. Saicoink specifically mentions drawing inspiration from Suehiro Maruo and Usamaru Furuya. While their influence can be seen in Open Spaces and Closed Places, the series isn’t as grotesque or as graphic as some of their works, though its humor is still accompanied by some amount darkness and tragedy. It’s a sinister, strange, and wonderful series.

Sankarea: Undying Love, Volume 9Sankarea: Undying Love, Volume 9 by Mitsuru Hattori. Sometimes Sankarea is all about its horror, sometimes it’s all about its peculiar romantic comedy, and sometimes it manages to be about both. The ninth volume is generally successful in balancing the series’ two opposing aspects, though the comedy has definitely taken a turn for the serious. Hattori does still find plenty of opportunities to add a bit of fanservice to the manga, this time mostly in the form of dressing Rea up in a variety of revealing costumes and outfits, often for no better reason than she looks cute in them. But even with those largely unnecessary diversions, the plot does continue to move along nicely in the ninth volume. Chihiro and most of the rest of his group have made their escape from ZoMA and return to Japan. Rea is suffering from amnesia though and doesn’t remember Chihiro or their relationship. Often I’m annoyed by the memory loss trope in manga—frequently it’s the result of bad or lazy writing—but for the most part it actually works pretty well in Sankarea. I still like the quirkiness of the characters in Sankarea, but Bub the undead cat remains my favorite by far.

My Week in Manga: May 13-May 19, 2013

My News and Reviews

Last week I posted my monthly Blade of the Immortal review. This month I took a look at Hiroaki Samura’s Blade of the Immortal, Volume 21: Demon Lair II, which is the second and final volume of the finale of the fourth and penultimate major story arc of the series. It’s a great conclusion; I’m really looking forward to the next volume. As promised, I also posted about my first time attending the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. The article ended up being longer than I really intended, but there was a lot that I wanted to talk about: my general experience, Taiyo Matsumoto, Gengoroh Tagame, IKKI magazine, queer comics, and more. If you don’t feel like reading the entire thing, the take away is that TCAF is an amazing festival and I’m already making plans to go again next year.

Early last week I tweeted about a note in the RightStuf catalog indicating that Yaya Sakuragi’s boys’ love series Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love was being seized by Canadian customs. Lissa Pattillo at Kuriousity saw the tweet and wrote an article on the subject (RightStuf Warns of Boys’ Love Book Seizing at Canada Customs) and the story was subsequently picked up by Anime News Network (BL Manga Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love Sold in Canada Despite Seizure) and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (Online Retailer Won’t Send Some Manga to Canada Because of Customs Seizures). It was kind of neat to see the ripple effect of the tweet.

Elsewhere online, Kathryn Hemmann of Contemporary Japanese Literature (which is one of my favorite blogs) posted the article In Defense of Fujoshi. As Kathryn warns at the beginning of the post, it is not safe for work. However, it is definitely worth reading and is an excellent and  engaging look at some of the controversies surrounding bara and boys’ love manga. About a month ago I mentioned Kansai Club Publishing. Well, their Kickstarter project to release Osamu Tezuka’s short story collection The Crater has now launched.

Also, the Yumi Tamura Manga Moveable Feast is this week! Keep an eye on Tokyo Jupiter for updates. For my contribution to this month’s Feast, I’ll be reviewing at least the first volume of Tamura’s Chicago (and hopefully the second as well!)

Quick Takes

21st Century Boys, Volumes 1-2 by Naoki Urasawa. Although the title has changed to 21st Century Boys, these two volumes are actually the ending to 20th Century Boys. I thought they were a decent conclusion to a good series, but ultimately I enjoyed the earlier volumes much more than the later volumes. Even though I liked the manga, after twenty-four volumes of twists and turns and convoluted storytelling, I feel like Urasawa was somehow cheating. I’m not convinced he had a clear idea when he began 20th Century Boys where he was going with the story and where it would end up. However, most of the plot threads he introduced are at least addressed if not completely tied up in 21st Century Boys.

Hetalia: Axis Powers, Volume 3 by Hidekaz Himaruya. Despite the fact that the manga and the anime cover the same material, the manga seems to be less inherently offensive. I’ll admit though, I do prefer the Hetalia anime over the original. For some reason, the manga is more difficult for me to follow. Not that there’s a complicated story or anything—Hetalia tends to be more a series of gags than anything else. Hetalia works best for me when the focus of the manga is on actual history rather than the countries acting as characters. The third volume introduces even more countries with a particular emphasis on medieval history, Poland and Lithuania, and the Nordic States. The artwork, or perhaps just the reproduction of the artwork, seems improved over previous volumes, too.

This Night’s Everything by Akira Minazuki. After enjoying Minazuki’s collection of boys’ love manga Tonight’s Take-Out, I decided to pick up This Night’s Everything, her only other work currently available in English. Although I was left with an overall favorable impression of This Night’s Everything, I didn’t enjoy it quite as well. In fact, I wasn’t sure I even liked it at all until after finishing the entire manga. But in the end, and after a few key plot revelations, I was satisfied with it as a whole. There is a deliberate coldness to the characters which is somewhat unpleasant but eventually explained. The world-building is such that This Night’s Everything actually feels like it could be part of a much larger work.

X, Omnibus 5 (equivalent to Volumes 13-15) by CLAMP. For as much action, death, and destruction as there is in X, the plot itself doesn’t seem to be moving along very quickly. Even so, I’m completely addicted to the series and its over-the-top epic-ness. The dialogue does seem to have gotten better, or at least it doesn’t seem quite as ridiculous as it did in earlier volumes. The cast of characters in X is fairly large and they all have their own tragic backstory. But because there are so many of them, only a few are able to be developed in depth. Because of this, the impact of some of the deaths in X is lessened. Out of all of the characters, Subaru is one of the most fully realized, but then he had the entirety of Tokyo Babylon, the predecessor to X, to evolve.

Kids on the Slope directed by Shinichirō Watanabe. I adore Yoko Kanno and her music and was very excited to learn that she was working with Watanabe on Kids on the Slope, an adaptation of Yuki Kodama’s award-winning manga. I was not disappointed at all by the music in the series. The anime’s pacing is a little on the slow side, especially in the beginning, but I did like the story. The ending, however, ties everything up a bit too neatly and nicely (even if it did make me smile.) For me, the real draw of Kids on the Slope (apart from Watanabe and Kanno’s involvement) was its emphasis on music, how people express themselves through it, and the bonds people forge because of it.

My Week in Manga: April 22-April 28, 2013

My News and Reviews

Last week was rather busy here at Experiments in Manga. In addition to usual My Week in Manga feature, there were four other posts. (Normally, there are only two or three.) First off, you still have a couple more days to enter April’s manga giveaway. Tell me about your favorite English license rescue for a chance to win the first omnibus as well as the ninth volume of Yun Kouga’s Loveless.

About a month ago, I reviewed The Infernal Devices, Volume 1: Clockwork Angel, HyeKyung Baek’s graphic novel adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s novel by the same name. I hadn’t read the original novel, and so was thrilled when my good friend Traci (who has) agreed to share her thoughts on the adaptation. She made a video, a first for Experiments in Manga!

Last week was also the Kaori Yuki Manga Moveable Feast. For my contribution, I reviewed Grand Guignol Orchestra, Volume 1: Overture. I’ll admit, I think I like the series better in concept than in execution. And last but certainly not least, I posted some random musings on Tokyo Demons, one of my most recent obsessions. Not too long ago I reviewed the first novel in the series, but ended up with more that I wanted to say. And even now, I’m not sure that I said everything that I wanted to.

On to some interesting things found online! I recently reviewed and loved Toh EnJoe’s Self-Reference Engine. I thought Terry Gallagher’s work as the translator for the book was particularly remarkable. Haikasoru posted a Q/A with a translator: Terry Gallagher which I found very interesting. And speaking of Japanese literature in translation, translator Allison Markin Powell (who worked on Osamu Dazai’s Schoolgirl among other things) has created a searchable database of Japanese Literature in English. Entries are still being added but it’s already a fantastic resource.

Elsewhere online, The Comics Reporter interviewed Christopher Butcher, “the driving force behind the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.” Two of the featured guests this year will be mangaka Taiyo Matsumoto and Gengoroh Tagame. I mentioned last week that the 2013 Eisner Award nominees had been announced. Over at No Flying No Tights, the contributors shared their reactions to the list both good and bad, including their disappointment over the lack of manga in some of the categories. Finally, the Dark Horse manga zone takes a look at the release, and re-release, of Lone Wolf & Cub as part of the Dark Horse Manga Timeline.

Quick Takes

20th Century Boys, Volumes 20-22 by Naoki Urasawa. Don’t be fooled: these last three volumes in 20th Century Boys are not the end of the story, there are still two more volumes of 21st Century Boys to go. While it has been a long and convoluted journey, things are starting to fall together. The major players in the series have all returned and the final showdown has begun. And I’m thoroughly enjoying it now that it is here. Music has always been a part of the series and an important touchstone, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so crucial to the plot in the end. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised though since there were plenty of clues in the manga. As a musician, it makes me immensely happy.

Blue Exorcist, Volumes 5-8 by Kazue Kato. While I’m still enjoying Blue Exorcist to some extent, I did prefer the earlier volumes a bit more. Blue Exorcist works best for me when Kato finds a balance between the humor and the darker story elements. In these volumes, the balance was a little off and the more serious side of Blue Exorcist overwhelmed its goofier aspects. Personally, I like the series best when it’s being just a little sillier. To be honest, I was actually a little bored with this story arc. In part, I think it’s because the focus of the story shifts away from Rin. However, even if the pacing was slow, it was nice to see some of the other characters’ back stories filled in. Fortunately, the humor returns the action starts to ramp up again in the eighth volume.

Dorohedoro, Volumes 8-9 by Q Hayashida. I am still loving Dorohedoro. It’s just so delightfully weird and off-beat. Somehow the series manages to be incredibly gruesome and utterly charming all at the same time. In the past, Dorohedoro‘s story has been all over the place and hasn’t always been particularly cohesive, but at this point in the series the plot has developed some forward and almost linear momentum. It’s still wonderfully strange, though. The eighth and ninth volumes begin to delve further into the characters’ pasts and their connections to one another. The tone is rather ominous at the end of the ninth volume, so I’m anxious to see what developments Hayashida has in store next.

A Fallen Saint’s Kiss by You Higashino. A Fallen Saint’s Kiss is certainly one of the kinkiest yaoi I’ve come across in print in English. And because it is part of Digital Manga’s 801 imprint, it is also very explicit. A Fallen Saint’s Kiss is a one-shot featuring three interrelated couples in sadomasochistic relationships (which, as a heads up, includes student-teacher relations.) There’s bondage and humiliation and all sorts of sex toys (something I haven’t seen much of before.) Two chapters are devoted to each couple’s relationship. What works particularly well about the first two stories is that each chapter is told from a different partner’s perspective, allowing both sides of the relationship to be seen. Unfortunately, the third story breaks this pattern.

To directed by Fumihiko Sori. To is a collection of two short films (Elliptical Orbit and Symbiotic Planet) which are based on two standalone chapters of Yukinobu Hoshino’s science fiction manga 2001 Nights. I adore 2001 Nights. The films are very faithful adaptations of original stories and not many changes were made. Of the two films, I preferred Symbiotic Planet—overall, its pacing was better; Elliptical Orbit suffered from too many long, awkward, dramatic pauses. To is completely animated using CGI with mixed results. The ships and environments are absolutely gorgeous. Sadly, this makes the more stylized and less detailed humans feel flat and incomplete in comparison.

My Week in Manga: April 1-April 7, 2013

My News and Reviews

Last week was one of the slower weeks at Experiments in Manga. I announced the winner of the historical manga giveaway and took the opportunity to ramble on a bit about historical manga as well. I also posted the Bookshelf Overload for March, if you’re interested in seeing the embarrassing amounts of manga and such that I managed to acquire over the month. The honor of the first in-depth manga review for April goes to Baku Yumemakura and Jiro Taniguchi’s The Summit of the Gods, Volume 2. It’s a fantastic series with stunning artwork. It looks like the fourth and penultimate volume might be released in English this year; I’m really looking forward to it.

I believe I’ve mentioned in the past my love for Jen Lee Quick’s Off*Beat. The first two volumes were originally published by Tokyopop and the series was sadly never completed. Happily, the newly established Chromatic Press is bringing Off*Beat back into print and fans will finally see the third and final volume published. A pre-order Kickstarter has been launched for the new Chromatic Press editions, which include bonus material. Any extra funds raised will be going towards the launch of Sparkler Monthly, Chromatic Press’ digital anthology, and Jen Lee Quick will get a nice bonus, too.

I’m starting to really take notice of PictureBox and its planned manga releases. For starters, The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame is one of my most anticipated English manga releases of the year (it should be out later this month.) The publisher also recently confirmed that in addition to its new “Ten-Cent Manga” line, it will also start a “Masters of Alternative Manga” series. I’m very interested in seeing how PictureBox’s manga plans continue to develop.

As for other good stuff online: The newest of Jason Thompson’s House of 1000 Manga columns, which is always worth a read, features Shin Mashiba’s Nightmare Inspector: Yumekui Kenbun. (I quite like the series and wrote a little about it myself a while back—Random Musings: Nightmare Inspector.) The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has a short documentary that’s well worth watching—Defending Manga: The Ryan Matheson Story. Over at Good E-Reader, Brigid Alverson posted an insightful interview with Ed Chavez on Vertical’s Digital Manga Strategy. And finally, the call for participation for April’s Manga Moveable Feast has been posted! The Feast, held from April 20 through 26, will feature Kaori Yuki and her work. The Beautiful World will be hosting for the first time.

Quick Takes

20th Century Boys, Volumes 17-19 by Naoki Urasawa. The series is nearing it’s conclusion, but that’s okay: 20th Century Boys is starting to feel rather drawn out. I’ll admit that I am still enjoying it, though. Urasawa employs a really interesting narrative technique in 20th Century Boys that I haven’t seen used very often. The manga has its cast of main characters, but the series frequently follows their story indirectly by following the secondary characters instead. The plot is often seen from their perspective. This can be a little messy at times though since it introduces even more characters that readers need to keep track of and 20th Century Boys is fairly complicated to begin with.

Boy Princess, Volumes 1-5 by Seyoung Kim. When the princess elopes with a stable boy two days before a crucial arranged marriage between two kingdoms the youngest prince is disguised and sent in her place. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t take long for the switch to be discovered. Boy Princess starts out as a comedy but at the point where I stopped reading it seems to be veering off towards something more tragic. Personally, I think the series works best when it’s being a little silly. Boy Princess has a nice fantasy setting with a good if often confusing attempt at court intrigue. Kim’s artwork is unfortunately uneven, but improves immensely as the series progresses. Some panels are frankly gorgeous and the costume designs are consistently lovely.

Genshiken, Omnibus 3 (equivalent to Volumes 7-9) by Shimoku Kio. When I wasn’t paying close attention, Genshiken naturally developed into a full-fledged otaku love story. And it’s absolutely wonderful. Much of this third and final omnibus is devoted to Ogiue, her backstory and self-hatred, and her changing relationships with the other members of the Genshiken. There are plenty of serious and touching moments, but the humor and goofiness of the series are still there, too. I’ll admit, I’ve grown rather fond of the characters in Genshiken and all of their quirkiness; I think we’d probably get along pretty well in real life. I’ve really enjoyed this series and look forward to continuing it with Genshiken: Second Season.

I Kill Giants written by Joe Kelly and illustrated by J. M. Ken Niimura. Last year, I Kill Giants became the first comic from the United States to win the International Manga Award. With bullies at school and problems at home, Barbara is going through some very difficult times. A bit of misfit and an outsider, her fantasies give her a way to escape some very harsh realities. It’s easier to hunt and kill giants than it is to face the truth, but some things in life simply can’t be stopped or ignored. Niimura’s art and Kelly’s writing are great and mix Barbara’s fantasies together with her reality in very effective ways. Her confrontation and showdown with the Titan in particular is phenomenal. At times dark and disconcerting, I Kill Giants is a very powerful and personal work.

Blue Submarine No. 6 directed by Mahiro Maeda. Discotek announced earlier this year that it had rescued the license for Blue Submarine No. 6 (originally released by Bandai), so I was curious. The four-episode OVA adapts a manga by Satoru Ozawa from 1967. The series is a bit confusing and rushed in places, and almost none of the characters were as well developed as I wanted them to be, but it pulls itself together pretty nicely in the end. I particularly liked the series’ post-apocalyptic ocean setting. Despite the occasionally awkward computer graphics, there were still some very nice visuals and great character designs. I enjoyed Blue Submarine No. 6 well enough, but it’s not a series that I’ll need to own.

Shigurui: Death Frenzy directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki. Based on a manga by Takayuki Yamaguchi, which in turn adapts a novel by Norio Nanjō, Shigurui is an extremely brutal, graphic, and violent series. Nearly all of the characters are detestable and their actions are appalling. The series definitely isn’t for everyone and will offend many. To say it’s intense is to put it mildly. After the first episode, most of the anime is a long flashback; unfortunately, the bloody tale of power and revenge never quite comes full circle. Visually, the series is very distinctive in its style with creepy motifs and merciless fight scenes. I found Shigurui to be incredibly absorbing and even compelling. It’s been a while since an anime has left such a profound impression on me.