Manga Giveaway: Arisa Giveaway Winner

Arisa, Volume 1Arisa, Volume 11And the winner of the Arisa manga giveaway is…Ana Death Duarte!

As the winner, Ana will be receiving copies of the first and most recent volumes of Natsumi Ando’s manga series Arisa to be released in English. (Namely, the first and eleventh volumes.) Because Arisa features a set of twins, for this giveaway I asked that entrants tell me a little about the twins that they’ve encountered while reading manga. Do check out the giveaway comments for all of the responses. And thank you to everyone who shared and participated!

Now, because I use giveaways as an excuse to compile lists, here are some of the manga licensed in English that feature twins:

Another written by Yukito Ayatsuji, illustrated by Hiro Kiyohara
Arisa by Natsumi Ando
Ax: Alternative Manga by Various
Basara by Yumi Tamura
Black Lagoon by Rei Hiroe
Blue Exorcist by Kazue Kato
Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love by Yaya Sakuragi
A Bride’s Story by Kaoru Mori
Cage of Eden by Yoshinobu Yamada
Deadman Wonderland written by Jinsei Kataoka, illustrated by Kazuma Kondou
Chobits by CLAMP
Clover by CLAMP
D.N. Angel by Yukiru Sugisaki
A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by Moto Hagio
Fushigi Yûgi: Genbu Kaiden by Yuu Watase
Ghost Hunt by Shiho Inada
Goth written by Otsuichi, illustrated by Kendi Oiwa
Grand Guignol Orchestra by Kaori Yuki
GTO: 14 Days in Shonan by Tohru Fujisawa
Hayate X Blade by Shizuru Hayashiya
Higurashi: When They Cry written by Ryukishi07
Jiu Jiu by Touya Tobina
Jyu-Oh-Sei by Natsumi Itsuki
King of Thorn by Yuji Iwahara
Knights of the Zodiac by Masami Kurumada
Mars by Fuyumi Soryo
Miracle Girls by Nami Akimoto
Monster by Naoki Urasawa
MW by Osamu Tezuka
No. 5 by Taiyo Matsumoto
Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori
Pandora Hearts by Jun Mochizuki
Papillon by Miwa Ueda
Pretty Face by Yasuhiro Kano
Revolutionary Girl Utena by Chiho Saito
Tokyo Babylon by CLAMP
Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle by CLAMP
The Twin Knights by Osamu Tezuka
Utahime by Aki
Utsubora by Asumiko Nakamura
Vampire Knight by Matsuri Hino
Vassalord by Nanae Chrono
xxxHolic by CLAMP
Zatch Bell by Makoto Raiku
Ze by Yuki Shimizu

The above list is mostly made up of manga that I have either read or that were mentioned by those participating in the giveaway. Although lengthy, it is by no means comprehensive; there are many, many more manga with twins (licensed and unlicensed) that could have been named. Thank you again to everyone who entered the giveaway! I hope you’ll stop by again when it’s time for the next one.

My Week in Manga: September 23-September 29, 2013

My News and Reviews

There were a few different things going on at Experiments in Manga last week. First off is the Arisa manga giveaway. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, so you still have a little time to enter for a chance to win the first and eleventh volumes of Natsumi Ando’s Arisa. The most recent Library Love feature was posted last week, too, which is basically a collection of quick takes of manga that I’ve borrowed from my local library. My quest to read all of Edogawa Rampo’s material available in English also continued. This time I took a look at The Edogawa Rampo Reader, which is a nice introduction to his life and work. The volume collects eighteen of his short stories and essays from over a span of thirty years.

A few interesting things found online: Brigid Alverson interviewed Charles Brownstein of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund about its new manga guide which will be released later this year. (I reviewed Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices not too long ago and found it to be a great resource.) And speaking of the CBLDF, Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen was recently highlighted as part of the Using Graphic Novels in Education feature. Finally, Vertical made some licensing announcements at Anime Weekend Atlanta: Tetsuya Tsutui’s manga Prophecy (interestingly enough, Tsutui approached Vertical directly about the license) and Shinobu Hashimoto’s biographical novel Compound Cinematics: Akira Kurosawa and I.

Quick Takes

Arisa, Volume 8Arisa, Volumes 8-11 by Natsumi Ando. The true King has been revealed! As has that person’s motivations and back story, which are suitably dark and dramatic. Arisa and its characters are all pretty twisted—the King isn’t the only one with serious issues. The most stable character in Arisa is probably Tsubasa, but sometimes I wonder about her, too. It’s not just anyone who would pretend to be someone else, after all. At times Arisa can be extraordinarily over the top with its action and melodrama, but that’s probably one of the reasons I find the series so absorbing. Some of it comes across as unintentionally ridiculous, though. But for every development that’s laughable, there’s another that is effectively disturbing. Arisa is a series that’s really easy to tear through. Despite all of the twists and turns in its plot (or maybe because of them) the manga reads very quickly. With only one volume left to go in the series, I’m very curious to see how things will play out.

Black Jack, Volume 7Black Jack, Volumes 7-9 by Osamu Tezuka. Every once in a while I get the urge to read a bunch of Black Jack. Since the series is fairly episodic, it’s easy to pick up even if it’s been a while since I’ve read any of the manga. There were a couple of things that particularly struck me about these volumes. First of all, Black Jack should really stay away from cliffs as he seems to have a habit of falling off of them. Secondly, since Black Jack is an unlicensed doctor, it probably shouldn’t be too surprising that he would have a tendency to become involved with criminals. Often this works out quite well for him—he is able to demand his high prices and the other parties want to keep things quiet, too. However, on occasion Black Jack’s association with organized crime comes back to bite him and he ends up a little worse for wear. As always, I adore Black Jack as a character. I enjoy how much of a bastard he can be while still maintaining a strong sense of integrity.

Cyborg 009Cyborg 009 written by F. J. DeSanto and Bradley Cramp and illustrated by Marcus To and Ian Herring. Working closely with Ishimori Productions, Cyborg 009 is a single-volume, hardcover graphic novel adapting Shotaro Ishinomori’s Cyborg 009 manga with a Western audience in mind published by Archaia. The comic is in full-color with updated character designs closer to some of the more recent anime adaptations than the original manga. Actually, the artwork was one of my favorite things about the Cyborg 009 graphic novel. Story-wise it would have benefited from either being a little more focused or a little bit longer. As it is, the graphic novel is very compressed and not all of the plot lines introduced are adequately developed. But it is fun and quickly paced, not to mention beautifully presented; hopefully it will encourage readers to seek out the original material. Also of note: the back cover indicates that Cyborg 009 is “Ishimori Universe Book 1.” I know that I’d be very interested in seeing more collaborations between Archaia and Ishimori.

The Day I Become a ButterflyThe Day I Become a Butterfly by Sumomo Yumeka. Although The Day I Become a Butterfly was released under Digital Manga’s Juné imprint, two of the six collected stories aren’t at all boys’ love and a few of the others could be argued not to be as well. Yumeka describes the short manga in The Day I Become a Butterfly as inexplicable (she also admits to not liking them), but I think I would call them poetic. Instead of being straightforward narratives, the stories are quiet and almost impressionistic. They tend to be fairly introspective and melancholy; the desire for acceptance from others is a recurring theme throughout the volume. Yumeka’s artwork is lovely, although some of the character designs seem to be reused from one story to the next. Normally this might not be much of a problem, but because some of the stories in The Day I Become a Butterfly are interrelated it was sometimes confusing when the characters from an unrelated story looked like some of the recurring characters.

AkagiAkagi, Episodes 1-13 directed by Yuzo Sato. I love mahjong and Akagi is one of the mahjong series. I was thrilled when Crunchyroll picked up the anime for streaming. (I hold no illusions—mahjong manga and anime is very niche and unlikely to ever receive a physical release in North America.) Watching Akagi has actually improved my game a bit. It has also taught me how to cheat…not that I would. People who are at least vaguely familiar with mahjong will probably get more out of Akagi than those who aren’t, but it’s not necessary to understand the minutia of mahjong to enjoy the anime. The series can be surprisingly brutal at times and the games are intense—high stakes, crooked cops, yakuza, violence, manipulation. A huge emphasis is put on the psychological elements of the game. Akagi is a brilliant player and absolutely ruthless, both at the table and away from it. He seems to be afraid of nothing and is extremely ballsy. I’m really looking forward to watching the series’ second half.

Library Love, Part 17

Support manga, support your library!

Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Arisa5Arisa, Volumes 5-7 by Natsumi Ando. As ridiculous and unbelievable as Arisa can be, I’ll have to admit that I actually am rather enjoying the series. The number of plot twists that Ando works into the manga is astounding. I know that they’re coming, but I have no idea where Arisa is going. I’ve learned not to stress out about it and just sit back and enjoy the absurdity as it develops. However, I can’t help but wonder where all the adults are in all of this. Occasionally a teacher, parent, or guardian is seen, but none of them seem very involved in the students’ lives at all. But then again, that might be part of the point of the series. The students in class 2-B have issues (they have a lot of issues) and King Time began in part because their needs and concerns weren’t being addressed elsewhere. More and more of their secrets are being revealed, but I’m not sure we’re any closer to actually learning who the King really is. Arisa continues along its dark and twisted path and I can’t help but be oddly mesmerized by the whole thing.

Cowa!Cowa! by Akira Toriyama. Cowa! had completely slipped under my radar until just recently. It’s a shame that I didn’t read it sooner because it is a terrific and highly enjoyable manga appropriate for kids as well as adults. The first few chapters are fairly episodic and start out with Paifu, a young half-vampire/half-werekoala, and his best friend and ghost José Rodriguez getting into all sorts of trouble. But then the manga develops a continuing story—Paifu’s hometown of Batwing Ridge is suffering from an epidemic of the Monster Flu. It’s up to Paifu, José, their not exactly friend Apron, and Maruyama, a grumpy ex-sumo wrestler, to save the day. Together they travel in search of the cure and it ends up becoming quite an adventure. There’s action and danger, bad guys and monsters. The interactions between Maruyama and the youngsters are simply marvelous. The manga is a lot of fun and funny, too. It may be silly at times, but it’s also heartwarming and has a good message. Cowa! is an absolute delight and definitely worth a look.

Slam Dunk, Volume 7Slam Dunk, Volumes 7-10 by Takehiko Inoue. I am a huge fan of Inoue’s manga. While Slam Dunk isn’t my favorite of his series, I still find it to be a great manga. Slam Dunk was Inoue’s breakthrough work and is immensely popular and influential. The basketball games in Slam Dunk are extremely well done, but so far what appeals most to me about the series is the characters. I particularly enjoy all of the delinquents that show up in the series and on Shohoku’s basketball team. The guys are just as capable in a fist fight as they are on the court. Granted, Sakuragi still has a lot to learn about basketball. He has some natural ability and potential, but I’m not sure anyone has actually taken the time to explain all the rules to him. Realistically, this is somewhat unbelievable, but it does provide a certain amount of humor. In general, Slam Dunk is much more comedic than Inoue’s other manga available in English. However, there’s still some seriousness and plenty of heartfelt passion in the series, too.

Time LagTime Lag written by Shinobu Gotoh and illustrated by Hotaru Odagiri. I didn’t realize it at first, but Odagiri is also the artist for Only the Ring Finger Knows, which I quite enjoyed. Time Lag is a slightly older work, and not quite as memorable, but still enjoyable and rather sweet. Satoru and Shirou used to be very close growing up, but after junior high they’ve grown apart despite Satoru repeatedly professing his love for the other young man. Satoru can’t seem to figure out what went wrong, but when a letter from Shirou arrives three years late he may have one last chance at setting things right. However, complicating matters even further is a love-triangle involving Seichii, another classmate. Plots that revolve around a giant misunderstanding often annoy me, but in the case of Time Lag I think it was handled very well. Some of the smaller misunderstandings were still frustrating, though. Granted, those deliberately created by Seichii and his jealousy make a fair amount of sense in the context of the story and the resulting drama is understandable.

Manga Giveaway: Arisa Giveaway

It’s just about the end of the month, which means it’s time for another manga giveaway here at Experiments in Manga! This month’s giveaway is for not one, but two volumes of Natsumi Ando’s manga series Arisa—both the first and the most recent volumes published in English. (I’ll explain my odd thought process for this below.) As always, the contest is open worldwide!

Arisa, Volume 1Arisa, Volume 11

Okay, so why the first and eleventh volumes? Because Arisa has a set of twin sisters. Volume 1, because it’s the first volume. (In general, I like to give away first volumes.) And what do you get when you have two 1s? 11. And there you have it. (I told you I’m a bit odd.) Anyway.

People are fascinated by twins. It’s probably not too surprising that twins, both fraternal and identical, make frequent appearances in manga, often with an important role to play in the story. Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, Yumi Tamura’s Basara, and Rei Hiroe’s Black Lagoon are just a few examples off the top of my head. It wouldn’t take me long to come up with even more. (And I will next week.) In Arisa we have Tsubasa Uehara and Sonoda Arisa, identical twin sisters who have been separated by their parents’ divorce. Tsubasa takes Arisa’s place at school to try to discover why her sister would attempt to commit suicide, uncovering some very disturbing goings-on in Arisa’s class in the process.

So, you may be wondering, how can you win a copy of Arisa, Volumes 1 and 11?

1) In the comments below, tell me a little about a set of twins that you have encountered in manga and in which manga they appear. (If by chance you’ve never come across twins, simply mention that.)
2) If you’re on Twitter, you can earn a bonus entry by tweeting about the contest. Make sure to include a link to this post and @PhoenixTerran (that’s me).

It’s as easy as that. For this giveaway, each person can earn up to two entries. As usual, there is one week to submit comments. If you have trouble leaving comments, or if you would prefer, you can e-mail me your entries at phoenixterran(at)gmail(dot)com and I will post them in your name. The giveaway winner will be randomly selected and announced on October 2, 2013.

VERY IMPORTANT: Include some way that I can contact you. This can be an e-mail address (which if you submit through the comment form won’t be publicly displayed), 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: Arisa Giveaway Winner

Library Love, Part 13

Support manga, support your library!

Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Arisa, Volumes 2-4 by Natsumi Ando. I found the first volume of Arisa to be quite intriguing and darker than I expected, and so I was looking forward to continuing the series. As much as I enjoyed these volumes, they also frustrated me. They are very engaging and make for quick reading, but not much seems to have actually happened. As many twists and turns as Ando packs into each volume, and there are a lot, somehow the plot as a whole seems to be progressing very slowly. It’s an odd sort of dissonance. Tsubasa continues to investigate the mystery surrounding her sister Arisa’s attempted suicide and the strange ritual known as “King Time.” She has some help, but it’s becoming more and more difficult to tell who’s an ally.

Emma, Volumes 4-6 by Kaoru Mori. I’m a little heartbroken that I missed this series when it was first being published. Emma is absolutely wonderful and unfortunately very out of print. Mori’s attention to historical detail is fantastic and her artwork is gorgeous. She has really captured Victorian-era England and has created an immersive setting. By this point in Emma, the series has left its episodic roots behind in favor of an increasingly involved (but not overly complicated) romantic storyline. It seems that whatever happens as a result of their love, it won’t be easy for either Emma or William. Because of their class differences, pursuing their relationship will have consequences not only for themselves, but for their families and acquaintances as well.

Jiu Jiu, Volumes 1-2 by Touya Tobina. I ended up liking Jiu Jiu much more than I expected. Takamichi becomes the next heir in a family of Dark Hunters, responsible for killing demons, when her twin brother dies protecting her. Soon after, Snow and Night, part demon themselves, become her jiu jiu, aiding in her hunts. This is a fairly dark setup, but Jiu Jiu is unexpectedly fun and funny. The darker elements still show up, but don’t completely mesh yet. Snow and Night are delightfully endearing. They’re shape-shifting wolves, but maintain their dog-like personalities even when in human form: they’re loyal and excitable and love frisbees and walks. Left to their own devices, they also tend to wander around naked.

Monokuro Kinderbook by Kan Takahama. With a background in contemporary art and later becoming a part of the Nouvelle Manga artistic movement, Takahama made her manga debut in the alternative manga magazine Garo with the story “Women Who Survive.” That story and nine others (some if not all of which were also published in Garo) are collected in Monokuro Kinderbook. The stories, though unrelated, all tend towards the darker, messier side of life. This is emphasized by Takahama’s artwork, which I love. Her style is reminiscent of ink wash painting. What particularly stands out to me about her stories are their realism; Takahama doesn’t go for the easy endings. Some of the pieces in Monokuro Kinderbook also incorporate autobiographical elements.