My Week in Manga: April 17-April 23, 2017

My News and Reviews

Well, I didn’t manage to post my in-depth manga review for April last week after all. Today I’m starting in a new position at a different library, meaning that last week I spent most of my time tying up as many loose ends as possible at my previous job. This included writing a lot of documentation. And since I was doing so much writing for work, by the time I got home I didn’t want to do anything but read, so that’s what I did. (Which goes to explain why I ended up finishing Cixin Liu’s excellent novel The Three-Body Problem much sooner than I had originally anticipated.) But never fear, I’ll be posting my review of Nagabe’s The Girl from the Other Side later this week in addition to the monthly manga giveaway.

In other news, Seven Seas continued its string of licensing announcements, adding Orikō Yoshino and Z-ton’s light novel series Monster Girl Doctor, Kazuki Funatsu’s Yokai Girls manga, and Saki Hasemi and Kentaro Yabuki’s To Love Ru and To Love Ru Darkness manga to the slate. Recent announcements from Viz Media included Sankichi Hinodeya’s Splatoon manga, a Hello Kitty coloring book, picture books of Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky and Princess Mononoke, as well as the My Little Pony: The Movie artbook. Kodansha Comics had a couple of announcements to make recently, too, such as the upcoming release of full-color hardcover edition of Gun Snark’s Attack on Titan: No Regrets (I’ve previously reviewed the series’ first English-language release) and a hardcover omnibus edition of Yukito Kishiro’s Battle Angel Alita. (The series was originally published in English by Viz Media but has been out-of-print for quite some time.)

I also came across a few other interesting things last week: Over at The OASG, Justin interviewed Mariko Hihara and Kotoyo Noguchi, two independent manga creators in Japan. Noguchi also had some questions to ask in return. Frederik L. Schodt (whose work I greatly enjoy) was recently profiled at The article takes a look at his involvement as an ambassador for manga over the last four decades. Caitlin from I Have a Heroine Problem presented a panel called “Is This Feminist or Not? Ways of Talking about Women in Anime” at Sakura Con 2017 and has made her slides available. A very nicely designed site called Persona Problems offers criticism of Persona 5‘s English localization and delves into translation theory and practice that even people who don’t play the game may find interesting. Finally, the author and designer Iku Okada has started a series of autobiographical essays called Otaku Girl and Proud which explores Japanese gender inequality and identity and how popular culture can impact that experience.

Quick Takes

Dorohedoro, Volume 17Dorohedoro, Volumes 17-20 by Q Hayashida. Despite being one of my favorite ongoing series currently being released in English, I seem to somehow always forget how incredibly much I love Dorohedoro. I tend to forget how tremendously horrific the manga can be, too, mostly because it simultaneously manages to be surprisingly endearing. Hayashida’s story and artwork is frequently and stunningly brutal, gut-churning, and grotesque, but Dorohedoro also carries with it a great sense of humor. Granted, the comedy in Dorohedoro tends to be phenomenally dark. Lately, as Dorohedoro continues to steadily progress along what I believe will be it’s final major story arc, the series has become fairly intense and serious, but it remains exceptionally weird and has yet to completely lose its humor. The plot of Dorohedoro does meander a bit and because it’s been so long since I’ve read the previous volumes I’m sure that I’ve forgotten a few important details as the story takes multiple convoluted turns along the way. Ultimately, it doesn’t seem to really matter though since the world and characters of of Dorohedoro follow and operate under their own peculiar sort of logic; Dorohedoro doesn’t need to make a lot of sense in order to be bizarrely enjoyable.

FukuFuku: Kitten Tales, Volume 1FukuFuku: Kitten Tales, Volumes 1-2 by Kanata Konami. Before there was Chi’s Sweet Home there was FukuFuku Funyan, Konami’s cat manga which started in the late 1980s. The series featured an elderly woman and her cat FukuFuku. More recently, Konami created FukuFuku: Kitten Tales, a spinoff of FukuFuku’s first series which, as can be accurately assumed by the manga’s title, shares stories from the loveable feline’s youth. While Konami’s artwork in FukuFuku: Kitten Tales is black-and-white rather than being full-color and the manga is only two-volumes long rather than being twelve, the series is otherwise very similar in format to Chi’s Sweet Home. It’s actually been quite a while since I’ve read any of Chi’s Sweet Home, but FukuFuku: Kitten Tales feels like it might be a little more episodic as well. However, it is still an incredibly cute series. Each chapter is only six pages or so but manages to tell a complete story, accurately portraying the everyday life and antics of a kitten. FukuFuku: Kitten Tales isn’t especially compelling or creative as far as cat manga goes, but it is an adorable series which consistently made me smile and even chuckle from time to time.

Magia the Ninth, Volume 2Magia the Ninth, Volume 2 by Ichiya Sazanami. I enjoyed the first volume of Magia the Ninth immensely. I’m not really sure I could call it a good manga per se, and I don’t think I would necessarily recommend it broadly, but personally I got a huge kick out of it. That being said, I can’t say that I’m surprised that the series only lasted two volumes. (I don’t know for certain, but I get the feeling that Magia the Ninth was cancelled.) What did surprise me was how well Sazanami was able to pull everything together to conclude the manga in a coherent (and almost satisfying) fashion when obviously it was intended to be a series on a much grander scale. To be honest, Magia the Ninth probably would have done much better for itself if the manga had had that level of focus from the very beginning. Magia the Ninth is a strange and somewhat goofy little series about demons, magic, and music. While the series wasn’t always the most comprehensible, it’s stylishly drawn, has tremendous energy, and even manages to effectively incorporate legitimate music history into the story. Magia the Ninth may not have lived up to its potential, but I had fun with it.

The Prince in His Dark Days, Volume 2The Prince in His Dark Days, Volumes 2-3 by Hico Yamanaka. More and more of The Prince in His Dark Days seems to revolve around Itaru, but at this point I would still consider Atsuko, who is serving as Itaru’s double, to be the real lead of the manga. Unfortunately, Atsuko is casually threatened with sexual violence on a regular basis in the series which frankly makes me uncomfortable. In general, the power dynamics in The Prince in His Dark Days tend to be fairly disconcerting. It doesn’t really help when other characters’ try to play it off as a joke, either. If anything, it only seems to emphasize the fact that so many of them are unrepentant jerks. I know that I’m supposed to empathize with some of their personal struggles, but I find it difficult to spare a lot of sympathy for entitled assholes. However, the themes that Yamanaka explores in The Prince in His Dark Days are of tremendous interest to me, most notably those of gender expression and sexual identity. I also appreciate the manga’s melancholy mood and the slow blossoming of love in unexpected places. There’s only one volume left in The Prince in His Dark Days and despite some of my reservations about the series I am curious to see how it ends.

The Three-Body ProblemThe Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. If my memory serves me right, The Three-Body Problem is actually the first contemporary Chinese novel that I’ve read. It initially came to my attention when it became the first work in translation to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel. Interestingly, when The Three-Body Problem was translated into English by Ken Liu, the order of the chapters was restored to what the author originally intended and a few additional changes were made in consideration of some of the real-world scientific advances that had developed since the novel was first published in China. As a novel that leans heavily on hard science, I found The Three-Body Problem to be fascinating. (At one point in my life, I actually considered going into theoretical physics.) But what makes The Three-Body Problem so compelling are the social aspects of the narrative. In particular, China’s Cultural Revolution and the characters’ responses to it play a critical role in the story’s development. The Three-Body Problem is the first book in a trilogy, Remembrance of Earth’s Past, and so while largely being a satisfying novel on its own, it’s obviously only the beginning of a larger work. I definitely plan on reading the rest.

Manga Giveaway: Kodansha Comics Collection Winner

Happiness, Volume 1Nekogahara: Stray Cat Samurai, Volume 1
The Prince in His Dark Days, Volume 1Welcome to the Ballroom, Volume 1

And the winner of the Kodansha Comics Collection manga giveaway is… Amaya!

As the winner, Amaya will be receiving not one but four of Kodansha Comics print debuts from 2016: Shuzo Oshimi’s Happiness, Hiroyuki Takei’s Nekogahara: Stray Cat Samurai, Hico Yamanaka’s The Prince in His Dark Days, and Tomo Takeuchi’s Welcome to the Ballroom. As I was reflecting back on the manga of 2016, I found that I was particularly impressed by the increased variety in Kodansha Comics titles. And so, for this giveaway, I asked that participants tell me about their favorite 2016 Kodansha Comics manga, debuts or otherwise. Akiko Higashimura’s Princess Jellyfish seems to have garnered the most love and attention, but be sure to check out the giveaway comments for everyone’s excitement over all of the great manga released by Kodansha Comics this year!

Kodansha Comics 2016 print debuts:
Attack on Titan: Lost Girls written by Koji Seko, illustrated by Ryosuke Fuji.
Attack on Titan Coloring Book by Hajime Isayama
Attack on Titan Anthology edited by Ben Applegate and Jeanine Schaefer
Cells at Work by Akane Shimizu
Complex Age by Yui Sakuma
Fairy Tail: Twin Dragons of Saber Tooth by Kyouta Shibano
Fairy Tail: Zero by Hiro Mashima
Fire Force by Atsushi Ohkubo
Forget Me Not written by Mag Hsu, illustrated by Nao Emoto
The Ghost and the Lady by Kazuhiro Fujita
Happiness by Shuzo Oshimi
In/Spectre by Chashiba Katase
Interviews with Monster Girls by Petos
Maga-Tsuki by Hoshino Taguchi
Nekogahara: Stray Cat Samurai by Hiroyuki Takei
Neo Parasyte F by Various
Paradise Residence by Kosuke Fujishima
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, Side: P3 by So Tobita
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, Side: P4 by Mizunomoto
The Prince in His Dark Days by Hiko Yamanaka
Princess Jellyfish by Akiko Higashimura
Queen Emeraldas by Leiji Matsumoto
Real Account written by Okushou, illustrated by Shizumu Watanabe
Spoof on Titan by Hounori
Sweetness and Lightning by Gido Amagakure
That Wolf-Boy is Mine! by Yoko Nogiri
Welcome to the Ballroom by Tomo Takeuchi

As always, thank you to everyone who took the time to participate in the giveaway and for sharing your favorite Kodansha Comics manga with me. 2016 was a great year for manga and 2017 looks like it should be pretty darn good, too. But before we get to that, I hope to see you again for this year’s last giveaway!







Manga Giveaway: Kodansha Comics Collection Giveaway

Both the last Wednesday and the last day of November has arrived, so it is once again time for a giveaway at Experiments in Manga! Last week was Thanksgiving in the States which happens to be my favorite holiday. (I really enjoy the delicious food and spending time with my family. The extra sleep helps, too.) As is now tradition, I like the giveaways for November to involve a whole feast of manga in order to celebrate. This year you all have the chance to win four first volumes of manga released in English by Kodansha Comics in 2016: Shuzo Oshimi’s Happiness, Hiroyuki Takei’s Nekogahara: Stray Cat Samurai, Hico Yamanaka’s The Prince in His Dark Days, and Tomo Takeuchi’s Welcome to the Ballroom. And, as always, the giveaway is open worldwide!

Happiness, Volume 1Nekogahara: Stray Cat Samurai, Volume 1The Prince in His Dark Days, Volume 1Welcome to the Ballroom, Volume 1

As the end of 2016 steadily approaches I’m starting to think about the manga published in the last year that I found particularly notable. Inevitably, I’m asked what my favorite manga is and I generally try to get away with mentioning a single publisher rather than a single title. This year, I’ve especially been impressed by the manga that Kodansha Comics has been licensing and releasing. Over the last few years Kodansha has been successfully expanding its catalog and demographic reach, offering titles that were at one point rumored to either be unliscensable or otherwise highly risky. Josei? Kodansha has it. Classic manga? Kodansha has it. Sports manga? Kodansha has it. Food manga? Kodansha has that, too. In fact, some of my most anticipated manga releases for 2016 were published by Kodansha Comics and looking forward to 2017 it seems as though that will likely be the case next year, too.

So, you may be wondering, how can you win a collection of Kodansha Comics?

1) In the comments below, tell me a little about a manga released by Kodansha Comics in 2016 that you particularly enjoyed and what you liked about it. (If you haven’t read or enjoyed any, 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! Participants in the giveaway have one week to submit comments and can earn up to two entries. If needed or preferred, comments can also be submitted directly to phoenixterran(at)gmail(dot)com and I will then post them here in your name. The giveaway winner will be randomly selected and announced on December 7, 2016. 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: Kodansha Comics Collection Winner


My Week in Manga: October 31-November 6, 2016

My News and Reviews

Last week at Experiments in Manga the winner of the Sweetness & Lightning manga giveaway was announced. The post also includes a list of some of the manga available in English that feature notable fathers or father figures. As for more in-depth features, I’m (still) currently working on some random, but rather personal, musings about Ichigo Takano’s manga series Orange. Progress on that post is a little slower than I would like it to be, but hopefully I’ll have something to share in the relatively near future.

As for interesting things that I’ve recently found online: The Honolulu Museum of Art recently hosted a series of lectures and discussions called Manga in Japan, Hawai‘i, and Throughout the World; many of the recordings can now be watched online. The proceedings of the Manga at a Crossroads symposia are available to read or download from The Ohio State University. Anna Madill has also posted the slides from her 2016 Comics Forum keynote address–Genre, genealogy, and gender: Reflecting on Boys’ Love manga–which includes some interesting results from her BL Fandom Survey. And speaking of boys’ love, Digital Manga’s Juné imprint is seeking the print rights for Asumiko Nakamura’s Classmates (Doukyusei).

Quick Takes

Haikyu!!, Volume 3Haikyu!!, Volumes 3-5 by Haruichi Furudate. The new Karasuno team has made it through its first game, but the members still have some practicing to do before they can completely shed the nickname of the fallen champions. But considering their tremendous talent and potential, that might not take them too long. With these volumes, a few more Karasuno veterans are introduced, as are their rivals, before the series quickly moves from training to tournaments. Although there are some very exciting moments, I actually find the games to be the least interesting part of Haikyu!!, which may (but not necessarily) present a problem in the long run for what is primarily a sports manga.  Some of the action was a little difficult for me to follow until I got used to Furudate’s visual language, probably because I’m not actually all that familiar with volleyball gameplay. Growing up, my family’s anything-goes backyard games followed vastly different rules; Haikyu!! is actually teaching me how volleyball as a sport is really played. However, I am still enjoying Haikyu!! immensely. I particularly love the series’ focus on teamwork and even more so its unflagging positivity. Haikyu!! manages to be competitive without being mean. I also really like the distinctive personalities of the characters, and Furudate’s sense of humor and comedic timing is great. The manga continues to be great fun.

Neo-Parasyte fNeo-Parasyte F by Various. Hitoshi Iwaaki’s series Parasyte happens to be not only one of my favorite horror manga, but one of my favorite manga in general. That’s probably the main reason I was so excited that the Parasyte shoujo tribute anthology Neo-Parasyte F was licensed, but the list of contributors is exciting in and of itself, too. I was especially happy to have the chance to read more of Asumiko Nakamura’s work, but there are other creators that English-reading fans will likely recognize as well, such as Ema Toyama, Kaori Yuki, and  Yuri Narushima among others. Neo-Parasyte F collects fifteen short manga that in one way or another pay tribute to Parasyte. Some of the stories take place within the same world as Parasyte–Shinichi and Migi, the main characters of the original series, even make a few appearances–while others are set completely apart. Many of the manga are still horror-themed, but there are a surprising number that actually take a more humorous approach. Ever wonder what Parasyte would be like as an otome game? Neo-Parasyte F presents one possible interpretation of just that. Overall, the volume is a great anthology containing an excellent variety of genres and styles. Neo-Parasyte F will likely appeal most to readers who are fans of or at least familiar with Parasyte, although a few of the contributions can stand completely on their own.

The Prince in His Dark Days, Volume 1The Prince in His Dark Days, Volume 1 by Hico Yamanaka. In Japan, Yamanaka is probably better known for her boys’ love manga, but that’s not all that she’s done. For example, The Prince in His Dark Days, Yamanaka’s English-language debut, does not fall into that particular genre. However, it is poised to explore gender and sexuality in interesting ways, which is what first brought the series to my attention. The story follows Atsuko, a high school student from a broken and abusive family who is struggling to make ends meet. She is more or less coerced into becoming the stand-in for Itaru, the wealthy heir to a major corporation who has gone missing. Very possibly he ran away due to some of his own unfortunate circumstances. Until Itaru is found, Atsuko will be taking them on in his place. Although she’s not exactly leading a life of luxury–parts of Itaru’s own life are less than ideal–at least she’s no longer quite as miserable as she once was. The initial setup of The Prince in His Dark Days is a little rough and feels a somewhat forced, but it does establish understandable reasons for everything that follows. Admittedly, the whole situation is rather strange, but once Atsuko has adopted her new role she devotes herself completely to it. In the process, she begins to create meaningful if somewhat peculiar relationships with the people around her. I’m not entirely sure where The Prince in His Dark Days is heading, but I do know that I want to find out.

Princess Jellyfish, Omnibus 3Princess Jellyfish, Omnibus 3 (equivalent to Volumes 5-6) by Akiko Higashimura. I am still incredibly pleased that Princess Jellyfish manga series is being released in print. I thoroughly enjoyed the anime adaptation and was left wanting more after it ended, so I’m thrilled to finally have the chance to read the original manga. The anime began around the same time that the sixth volume was originally being released in Japan, so from this point on more and more of what is seen in the manga will either be new or significantly different. It has been a while since I’ve watched the anime so I may be misremembering parts of it, but already I can identify where notably different choices were made as to plot and characters. However, the heart of both the manga and the anime are definitely the same. Despite the various romantic and relationship dramas, Princess Jellyfish is largely a comedy. Serious matters like familial and social expectations are addressed and explored in the series, but Higashimura primarily does so through humor, sometimes more successfully and sometimes less so. Princess Jellyfish is an energetic manga that can be over-the-top and ridiculous, but it can also be very touching. As the women of Amamizukan search for a way to save their beloved home they are finding new ways to express themselves through skills and talents that they never realized they had, slowly coming out of their shells in ways they never expected.