My Week in Manga: October 12-October 18, 2015

My News and Reviews

It was a two-review week at Experiments in Manga last week. First off, I reviewed the third and final volume of Hide and Seek by Yaya Sakuragi, which I enjoyed immensely. In general, I tend to like Sakuragi’s boys’ love manga, but I think that Hide and Seek has probably become my favorite. It’s a bit more serious and realistic than some of her other manga, but it still has a great sense of humor. The second review from last week, and the most recent addition to my ongoing monthly horror manga review project, was After School Nightmare, Volume 6 by Setona Mizushiro. The series continues to be both disconcerting and compelling; I’m looking forward to seeing how it continues to develop.

Elsewhere online: The Shojo Beat tumblr posted a short interview with Kyousuke Motomi. Tofugu presents Japanese Onomatopoeia: The Definitive Guide, which is pretty great. The BBC has a brief spot on Hajime Isayama. Coming out of the New York Comic Con, Women Write About Comics had a chat with Kodansha executives Hiroaki Morita, Kohei Furukawa, and Yasumasa Shimizu. Brigid Alverson reports on Kodansha’s panels at New York Comic-Con, which included Yohei Takami, the editor of Noragami, as a special guest. Masashi Kishimoto was in New York for NYCC as well. Deb Aoki covered Masashi Kishimoto’s NYCC visit for Anime News Network. Brigid Alverson reports on Kishimoto’s main panel. Weekly Shonen Jump Blog has some Kishimoto NYCC videos to share, including interviews and panels. Also, the recording from Kishimoto’s SoHo Apple Store visit is now available.

Quick Takes

Aron's Absurd Armada, Omnibus 2Aron’s Absurd Armada, Omnibuses 2-3 (equivalent to Volumes 3-5) by MiSun Kim. I read the first Aron’s Absurd Armada omnibus quite a while ago. I largely enjoyed the full-color manhwa, which I believe had its start as a webtoon, and have been meaning to get around to reading the rest of the series. I’m not sure that binge-reading Aron’s Absurd Armada was really the way to go for optimal enjoyment, though. I still find the series to be consistently or at least vaguely amusing, and it even managed to make me laugh out loud a few times, but it’s a little hard to take in large doses. The humor isn’t particularly clever, mostly relying on the fact that almost every single character in the manhwa is incredibly shallow or dimwitted. As such, there’s not much depth to the story or characters. Surprisingly enough, Aron’s Absurd Armada actually does have a plot, granted it’s very meandering and almost stream-of-conscious. There are pirates and treasure, kingdoms and political intrigue, and a whole mess of other complicating factors. Aron’s Absurd Armada is indeed absurd.

Citrus, Volume 2Citrus, Volumes 2-3 by Saburouta. Although I didn’t find some of the first volume of Citrus to be particularly realistic, I did find the intense emotions and drama to be engaging enough to be interested in continuing the series. The next two volumes follow in a similar vein—unbelievable in parts but still having the potential to become addictive. The series has begun to introduce prominent new characters as well. Not only is there another girl who has her eye on Mei, there’s also a young woman with designs for Yuzu. Mei’s father finally makes an appearance in the manga as well, albeit rather briefly. I’m not really entirely sure what to make of the man yet. Mei continues to be something of a mystery, too. One thing is for certain, though, a fair amount of Mei’s emotional issues, which have a huge effect on her interactions with other people, are tied up in her poor relationship with her father. As for the artwork, for the most part Citrus is drawn quite nicely in an overall attractive style that I like, but every so often there’s some weird anatomy going on which can be distracting.

Kiss Him, Not Me!, Volume 1Kiss Him, Not Me!, Volume 1 by Junko. Serinuma is on fairly good terms with many of the hottest boys at her school, but what most people don’t know is that in her spare time she enjoys fantasizing about them in relationships with each other. She’s also a huge fan of the anime Mirage Saga and she’s devastated when her favorite character dies. Locking herself in her room for more than a week, she wastes away. Nearly unrecognizable (on the outside), she begins turning the boys’ heads when she returns to school. Personally, I would have preferred another gimmick than sudden weight loss to bring Serinuma to the attention of her schoolmates, but at least it’s not at all played seriously. In fact, there is very little that is serious about Kiss Him, Not Me!. Its ridiculousness is what makes the manga work. And it is funny. The humor primarily revolves around Serinuma being a hopeless otaku, specifically a fujoshi. Junko herself, who is also a boys’ love mangaka (I believe Mr. Mini Mart is currently her only other work released in English), is a fujoshi as well, so happily the jokes never feel mean-spirited.

My Week in Manga: January 5-January 11, 2015

My News and Reviews

Well, last week unintentionally became a week filled with gay-themed manga here at Experiments in Manga, not that that’s something I’m going to complain about. But, first things first, the WataMote manga giveaway winner was announced. The post also includes a list of otaku manga available in English for anyone looking for something to read in that sub-genre. And now, back to the gay manga! I posted two in-depth manga reviews last week. The first review was of Takeshi Matsu’s English-debut More and More of You and Other Stories, a collection of gay erotic doujinshi. It’s both a fun and funny volume, so I hope to see more of Matsu’s work translated in the future. Over the weekend, I also posted a review of What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Volume 5 by Fumi Yoshinaga. I continue to really enjoy the series’ mix of food and contemporary gay life. The sixth volume was actually released last week, so I’m a little behind in my reviews, but it’s still a great series.

Elsewhere online, Digital Manga launched its first non-Tezuka Kickstarter project, an effort to reprint and restock the first six volumes of Ayano Yamane’s Finder boys’ love series. (Like many of Digital Manga’s recent Kickstarter projects, I have mixed feelings about this one.) In licensing news, Seven Seas and Yen Press announced quite a few new titles on social media. Sean has a nice roundup of the licenses over at A Case Suitable for Treatment. For those who are interested in the history of manga or are more academically inclined, be sure to check out Ryan Holmberg’s most recent What Was Alternative Manga? column, “The Fukui Ei’ichi Incident and the Prehistory of Komaga-Gekiga” at The Comics Journal and the second part of Nicholas Theisen’s manga studies essay “Takeuchi Osamu and Manga Expression” at Comics Forum.

Quick Takes

Alice in the Country of Hearts, Omnibus 2Alice in the Country of Hearts, Omnibuses 2-3 (equivalent to Volumes 3-6) by Soumei Hoshino. I was taken by surprise by how much I enjoyed the first omnibus of Alice in the Country of Hearts and so soon found myself tracking down the rest of the series. I became a little less enamored with the manga the more I read, but in the end I still thoroughly enjoyed the series and I definitely plan on picking up some of the spinoffs. Because Alice in the Country of Hearts is based on a romance adventure game, it’s not too surprising that Alice is eventually paired off with one of the multitude of people who have expressed intense interest in her. However, I didn’t really like who it was she ended up with in Alice in the Country of Hearts because he’s a violent jerk. Granted, I can say that and not really spoil too much since so many of the guys in the series are violent jerks—they feel so strongly for Alice that more than one of them actually wants to, or even tries to, kill her. This certainly adds to the ominous atmosphere of Alice in the Country of Hearts, which is one of the things I particularly like about the series. What I was hoping to see and what the manga doesn’t quite deliver on was more explanation about the world itself and about the “game” that is being played. I suspect some of the other Alice series may expand on this, though.

Citrus, Volume 1Citrus, Volume 1 by Saburouta. I know quite a few people who were very excited for Citrus, Seven Seas’ most recent yuri acquisition. I didn’t know much about the series, but I’m always interested in seeing, and reading, more yuri in English. Yuzu is boisterous young woman whose life has been thrown into turmoil after her mother remarries. She has a new name, a new high school, and even a new sister. Mei and Yuzu don’t really get along that well and their relationship gets even more complicated when Mei suddenly kisses Yuzu, but not out of any sort of true affection. Yuzu’s not entirely sure what’s going on with her new sibling, but after the kiss she can’t get her out of her mind and begins to develop non-sisterly feelings for Mei. Quite a few things in the first volume of Citrus strained my suspension of disbelief—I cannot and will never be convinced that Yuzu’s mother completely failed to mention before they all actually moved into the same household together that as part of her remarriage Yuzu would be gaining a stepsister—but it is an intriguing start to the series. The manga has great potential for melodrama. Mei is somewhat of a mystery at this point, and I’m curious to learn more about her. She puts up a good front for most people, but she’s incredibly manipulative and Yuzu’s one of very few people who knows about and has seen that side of her.

Orphan BladeOrphan Blade written by M. Nicholas Almand and illustrated by Jake Myler. After previewing some of Myler’s work in progress for Orphan Blade, I was really looking forward to reading the graphic novel. Unfortunately, while there were some aspects of the comic that I really appreciated (it’s nice to see a gay protagonist), overall I was disappointed with Orphan Blade, especially since it had such great potential. The setting is an alternate-universe, 17th-century Japan in which the world was overrun with kaijū. But now that most of the monsters have been destroyed, humans are once again at war with each other. Particularly coveted are Artifacts, weapons of immense power fashioned out of the bodies and bones of the defeated kaijū. Hadashi is a young man who comes into possession of one of those Artifacts, but it possesses him in return. For the most part, Myler’s artwork is excellent. The monster and character designs, while lacking cohesiveness, are great and I love the colors. Orphan Blade is surprisingly violent, bloody, and gruesome. There are plenty of dynamic battles, however the action is frequently confusing and difficult to follow which is particularly problematic since a large part of the graphic novel is devoted to fight sequences. I like the world and basic premise of Orphan Blade, but the story feels inexpertly cobbled together in places, which may be explained by the fact that Almand sadly passed away before the comic’s completion.