Manga Giveaway: Read or Dream Giveaway Winner

And the winner of the Read or Dream Giveaway is…Dawn H!

As the winner, Dawn will be receiving the first volume of Hideyuki Kurata and Ran Ayanaga’s manga R.O.D: Read or Dream. I had previously read the related series, R.O.D: Read or Die, and was rather surprised when Read or Dream ended up being entirely different in tone. And so for this giveaway, I asked entrants to tell me about manga that surprised them or that wasn’t quite what they were expecting. Normally, I would simply suggest reading the giveaway comments, but since there were only five submissions this month, I’ve decided to simply share them here:

X by CLAMP (submitted by Dawn H):

I think one of the first manga series to really surprise me was x/1999. Back in the 90s, my first exposure to CLAMP was their series Magic Knight Rayearth, which was rather Sailor Moon-ish (though it did have giant robots & a twist ending). So when I saw that Animerica was running a comic in it by the same artists, I assumed (stupidly) that it would be similar to Rayearth (since I hadn’t seen or read Tokyo Babylon yet…this was pre-“everyone had the internet” days, so I didn’t know about it yet). Well…you can probably imagine my surprise when I first read it, heh. NOTHING like Rayearth, unless you count the art style. But I ended up liking it, anyway.

I recently started reading X myself. Even though I had been warned, I was still surprised by how graphically violent the series is.

Emma by Kaoru Mori (submitted by teaNrice):

When I first saw my Library’s copy of the first volume of Emma: A Victorian Romance I had a quick look at the blurb on the back and put it back down unimpressed by what I thought sounded like an immensely cliche plot. It wasn’t until years later that I would realize my mistake. Emma is surprising because it shows that even a seemingly cliche plot like a romance between the upper and lower classes can still shine when the execution is so superb.

Emma is another series that I’ve only started reading recently. The manga is tragically out of print in English, but my library fortunately has the entire series, too. And yes, it is very good.

Kokou no Hito written by Yoshiro Nabeda and Jiro Nitta, illustrated by Shinichi Sakamoto (submitted by Vito):

Kokou no Hito, it’s licensed in Italy under the name Climber and in France as Ascension, great stuff. The beginning is very misleading, young introverted protagonist transfers to a new school, classmates bullies by way of which he also introduces him to climbing and it all leads to a competition, by now it’s sort of leading you to believe it’s going to be a shounen sports competition manga, complete with a mystery progeny showing up. That quickly changes, the rest of the story explores the character, his growth, follows his various mountain expeditions etc. I do recommend reading it and the art is really really good.

I didn’t previously know about Kokou no Hito, but now I really want to read it! It sounds like a series I would really enjoy.

Death Note written by Tsugumi Ohba, illustrated by Takeshi Obata (submitted by KenshinGirl)

I completely overlooked Death Note when they ran a preview for it in Shonen Jump because the art didn’t appeal to me. I decided to go back and read it a while later when I had no other manga to read, and I was instantly hooked. After that, I couldn’t wait for the next volume and ended up recommending it to everyone I knew. My older brother had no interest in manga, but once I got him to read it, he couldn’t put it down either.

You know, I really need to finish the last couple of reviews for Death Note. Coincidentally, this is a series I managed to get my brother, who isn’t a big manga reader, interested in, too.

A Bride’s Story by Kaoru Mori (submitted by Literate.Ninja)

I’d say the most recent surprise I got from a manga was reading A Bride’s Story. I got it from my library after hearing about it online, and I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect, since I am somewhat familiar with the culture and time period the book is set in. However, when it turned out to be a warm, touching story of a family coming together to embrace a new member, I was completely charmed, and have since recommended it to all my friends and co-workers.

Another Kaoru Mori manga! A Bride’s Story was actually the first work by Mori that I read. I was absolutely astonished by the gorgeously detailed artwork.

Thank you all for sharing your manga surprises with me!

Manga Giveaway: Read or Dream Giveaway

It’s the end of the month, which means it’s time for another manga giveaway! This month I have a new copy of the first volume of Hideyuki Kurata and Ran Ayanaga’s manga series R.O.D: Read or Dream as published by Viz Media up for grabs. As always, the giveaway is open worldwide!

A few months ago I gave the R.O.D: Read or Die manga a try. Even more recently, I read the entire R.O.D: Read or Dream manga series. Both of the series are written by Hideyuki Kurata and both take place in the same universe and include paper masters, but the similarities between the two more or less end there. Based on my experience reading the Read or Die manga, Read or Dream was not at all what I expected. The two series are vastly different, especially in their overall tone. When I read a manga for the first time, I try to keep an open mind. But to be honest, I can’t help but have some sort of expectation, otherwise I probably wouldn’t be reading it to begin with. Occasionally, as with Read or Dream, a manga takes me by surprise by not being quite what I thought it would be. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes it’s bad, but it’s always an interesting experience.

So, you may be wondering, how can you win R.O.D.: Read or Dream, Volume 1?

1) Tell me about a manga that wasn’t what you expected and how it took you by surprise.
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).

And there you have it! Each person can earn up to two entries for this giveaway. As usual, there is one week to submit your entries. If you have trouble leaving comments, or if you would prefer, feel free to e-mail me your entry at phoenixterran(at)gmail(dot)com. I will then post the comment in your name. The winner will be randomly selected and announced on September 5, 2012. Best of luck to you all!

VERY IMPORTANT: Include some way that I can contact you. This can be an e-mail address, 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: Read or Dream Giveaway Winner

My Week in Manga: August 20-August 26, 2012

My News and Reviews

This week is The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Manga Moveable Feast! Eeeper’s Choice Podcast is hosting the Feast for the first time. I’ve already submitted one contribution—a review of the first volume in the series. I’ve read The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service before but had forgotten how darkly funny the series is. I’ll be posting another contribution to the Feast latter this week, most likely on Friday.

I did have one other post this past week that seems to be going over pretty well. It’s a part of my infrequent Finding Manga feature in which I give some tips on finding and buying manga. This time around I took a look at one of the largest anime and manga specific retailers in  North America—Finding Manga: Right Stuf. Right Stuf happens to be one of my favorite places to buy manga and anime.

Quick Takes

Drifters, Volume 2 by Kohta Hirano. Other than their names, Hirano doesn’t provide much background on any of the characters in Drifters. The series really works best if you already have an good handle on the their historical inspirations outside of the manga itself. Otherwise, they just come across as very unbalanced and slightly insane. However, considering some of their histories and the fact that they’ve inexplicably been thrown into a completely unfamiliar world, I can’t really blame them. The worldbuilding is progressing slowly and there is still plenty about Drifters that hasn’t been explained yet. I might not understand everything that’s going on, but I am thoroughly enjoying Drifters‘ chaos.

R.O.D: Read or Dream, Volumes 1-4 written by Hideyuki Kurata and illustrated by Ran Ayanaga. The contrast between the Read or Die manga and the Read or Dream manga is astounding. Both are written by Kurata and both technically take place in the same universe (there’s even a cameo made by Yomiko Readman in Read or Dream), but they are vastly different in tone. Read or Dream is often silly and heartwarming with delightful yuri overtones. Michelle, Maggie, and Anita make up the Paper Sisters Detective Agency. They specialize in finding solutions to problems that have something to with books, their owners, or authors. As a fellow bibliophile I particularly enjoyed the emphasis given to the love of books in the series. (I was also very fond of Maggie’s “bifauxnen” character design.)

Shirahime-Syo: Snow Goddess Tales by CLAMP. Shirahime-Syo collects three short manga that are framed by the legend of the Snow Princess. Each of the stories is a tragic tale of love and loss. None of them are directly related to one another, but they all make references to the Snow Princess. One of the things I enjoyed the most about Shirahime-Syo was the artwork. (I actually find this to be true for most of CLAMP’s manga.) I’m not sure who the lead artist was on this particular CLAMP work, but she has taken obvious inspiration from traditional Japanese ink paintings. The style works especially well in Shirahime-Syo because it helps to emphasize the folktale-like atmosphere of the stories.

Ze, Volumes 5-6 by Yuki Shimizu. Following the pattern set by the previous volumes of Ze—every two volumes Shimizu explores the relationship of a newly introduced pair—these two volumes turn their attention to the story of Moriya and Ryuusei. Moriya is a kami desperately in search of a master while Ryuusei desperately wants to deny his power as a kotodama user. I liked both of Moriya and Ryuusei’s backstories, but I wasn’t entirely convinced by the chemistry that was supposed to exist the two of them. Some of the most climatic and dramatic moments in their story were reminiscent of those from previous volumes which unfortunately lessened their impact. I’m still enjoying Ze, though. I like the modern setting and supernatural elements.

Hetalia, Season 3: World Series directed by Bob Shirohata. I like Hetalia best when it’s dealing directly with history rather than just playing around with national stereotypes. Admittedly, I still laugh. Yes, I know that Hetalia is incredibly offensive to some people. But (fortunately?) I’m very hard to offend and don’t take the series too seriously. I often find that I learn something while watching it, too. Hetalia: World Series follows Hetalia: Axis Powers. Other than not emphasizing World War II to the same extent that the original series does, there’s really not much of a difference between the two. Granted, World Series introduces a few more characters/countries.