My Week in Manga: September 5-September 11, 2011

My News and Reviews

I’m still recovering from last week’s misadventures, but that hasn’t stopped me from updating Experiments in Manga. Other than that, however, I don’t have much news. I announced the winner of the Joy of Josei manga giveaway. The post also includes a list of recommended josei and josei-esque manga licensed, so please check it out. There were some titles that I hadn’t heard of before that I look forward to giving a try. I also posted a review of Shogo Oketani’s semi-autobiographical novel J-Boys: Kazuo’s World, Tokyo, 1965 that I received from Stone Bridge Press through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers Program. It’s not the most engaging book, but I did find it to be interesting and informative. Anyway, that’s all for now!

Quick Takes

Gravitation EX, Volume 1 by Maki Murakami. Fun fact: the first print volume of Gravitation EX was released simultaneously in Japan and in the United States. The series is still ongoing, but only the first volume was ever published in English. It’s hard to tell from only one volume, but Gravitation EX seems to be very different in tone than Gravitation. I’d be hard pressed to actually put my finger on what exactly makes it different, though. The randomness and craziness is certainly still there, but feels a bit forced. Almost all of the major characters from Gravitation make at least a brief appearance, although once again some of the personalities seem to have been adjusted or changed.

Redmoon, Volumes 1-6 by Mina Hwang. As far as I know, Redmoon is one of the first examples of manhwa to be released in English. The series is eighteen volumes long, but only the first six volumes were published by ComicsOne before the company went defunct. I’ll admit, I didn’t really start to enjoy Redmoon until the fifth and sixth volumes when the story follows a major flashback. Before that, the confusing plot lines with random introductions of characters from out of nowhere developed far too slowly for me to really take an interest. However, I did like the characters. Philar’s development in particular is handled well. He starts as a fairly carefree high school student but has to come to terms with the fact that he’s sharing his body with another entity.

Riot, Volume 1 by Satoshi Shiki. I have no idea where I picked up Riot or why I even have it because, really, it’s not very good. The series only lasted for two volumes before being canceled. The world-building is a mess; Shiki can’t seem to decide between dark fantasy, post-apocalyptic, straight up science fiction, or Western. This could be fun, but Shiki isn’t quite able to pull it off. He does manage to cram a lot plot threads in a single volume. Some have decent potential, but I get the feeling that he’s being too ambitious and would have done better to focus on just one or two elements. I did like character design for Billy (a.k.a. Billy the Kid), but most everyone else’s, especially the women’s outfits, are fairly ridiculous.

Robot: Super Color Comic, Volume 1 edited by Range Murata. To me, Robot comes across more as an artbook rather than manga. It’s oversized and in full color. The first volume collects contributions from twenty different creators. Some of the works are one-shots or pinups while others are part of a continuing series. I was already familiar with some of the artists, Yoshitoshi Abe and Sho-u Tajima for example, but most were new to me. Many contributions are under ten pages, just enough to get a taste of what the creators can do. The storytelling varies tremendously in quality but the artwork is consistently top-notch. Granted, there is some unnecessary fanservice, too. But overall, Robot is a gorgeous collection to look at if not read.

Ultraman, Episodes 1-13. I’m surprised that I’ve never actually seen Ultraman until now. I’m really enjoying it so far. In case you weren’t already aware, Ultraman is a Japanese live-action television show, thirty-nine episodes, that was broadcast between 1966 and 1967. Ultraman in all its iterations continues to be a huge pop culture phenomenon to this day. The series focuses on the Japanese branch of the Science Patrol who are called upon to investigate odd and unexplained happenings. Inevitably, this leads them to confront the monster, or kaiju, of the week. The members of the Science Patrol are competent, but more often than not they need the aid of Ultraman. It’s a really fun show.