My Week in Manga: July 11-July 17, 2011

My News and Reviews

As I am writing this, I’m sitting on the beach. Well, technically I’m sitting on a balcony overlooking the beach since I’m sure my laptop would hate me if I actually took it down to the sand. Either way though, I’m currently on vacation—the longest that I’ve been on in a very long time. Nearly two weeks!

Anyway. Last week I posted a couple of non-manga reviews. The first review was for Kaoru Kurimoto’s The Guin Saga, Book Two: Warrior in the Wilderness. I liked the second volume much better than the first and am starting to understand why this series is so well loved. The second review was for Ric Meyers’ newest book Films of Fury: The Kung Fu Movie Book. While mainly focused on Chinese films, I decided to include the review on this blog since Meyers’ addresses the portrayal of Japanese in kung fu movies among other things.

Coming soon is July’s Manga Moveable Feast (July 24-30). This month will feature Natsuki Takaya’s Fruits Basket. David Welsh at The Manga Curmudgeon will be hosting. I unfortunately won’t be participating this month, but I have read the entire series and look forward to seeing what everyone else has to say.

I’d also like to bring your attention to the latest Manga Out Loud podcast focusing on the first volume of Takako Shimura’s Wandering SonEpisode #41. As always, the podcast has some great conversation and discussion. I am terribly excited about this series’ release in English and will be posting my own review of the first volume later this week.

Quick Takes

Samurai Champloo: The Complete Series by Masaru Gotsubo. I adore the Samurai Champloo anime; it’s one of my favorites. Perhaps my expectations for the manga adaptation were set too high because of this. Overall, the manga just didn’t work for me and I found it to be rather dull. If I didn’t already care about the characters, I probably wouldn’t have cared about it at all. Even though most of the material after the first chapter is distinct from the anime, the manga still managed to feel like it was retreading old ground. It wasn’t all bad though, and I did like some of the characters that were introduced; both the unlikely magistrate and the Russian amused me greatly. Still, people will probably do better to just stick with the anime.

Seito Shokun!, Volume 1 by Yōko Shōji. Apparently, Seito Shokun is one of the very first shōjo manga to be published in English. Unfortunately, this means it’s somewhat difficult to find. I was extremely excited when I managed to get my hands on a copy of the first volume. It’s a bilingual edition, which makes it even cooler and makes for a nice Japanese language study aid. Naoko Kitashiro, who insists that everyone call her Nakki, is a delightful protagonist. She’s smart and energetic and utterly charming even if she is a little rough around the edges. Actually, her directness and honesty are some of the things that makes her so appealing. She’s a bit of a troublemaker, but that’s part of the fun.

Shout Out Loud!, Volumes 1-5 by Satosumi Takaguchi. Some people might find Shout Out Loud! to start out fairly slowly, and despite being a yaoi title, there is very little sex until towards the end of the series. But this series isn’t about the sex. Instead, it is about relationships and discovering the necessary balance between worrying about others and their needs and worrying about yourself and your own happiness. Shino is a voice actor who has been recently reunited with Nakaya, his high school-aged son. In order to support his son, who has moved in with him, Shino begins to take jobs he previously avoided, including boys’ love drama CDs. The art might not be spectacular, but Shout Out Loud! is a very well done manga.

S.S. Astro, Volume 1 by Negi Banno. Yonkoma, or four panel manga, tends to be pretty hit or miss for me, but I happened to really enjoy S.S. Astro. Many yonkoma available in English tend to feature cute girls doing whatever, but there aren’t that many that feature cute women (and men). S.S. Astro primarily follows four youngish female instructors and the various shenanigans they get into. Other teachers are introduced in a flurry about halfway through the book and I’d love a chance to get to know them as well as the main four protagonists, too. As far as I can tell, the series is on hiatus with only one volume released, but I definitely would pick up the next one if it’s ever published.

Manga Giveaway: Feast of Firsts Winner

And the winner of the Feast of Firsts manga giveaway is…Katherine Dacey of The Manga Critic!

As the winner, Katherine will be receiving the first volume of Eerie Queerie!, Gravitation, Love Mode, and Shout Out Loud! Oh, and if you haven’t already visited Katherine’s site The Manga Critic, you should really check it out; it’s a great one.

For the Feast of Firsts giveaway, I had people tell me a little about the first manga they read and the first shōnen-ai/boys’ love/yaoi/whatever you want to call it manga that they read. I’ll briefly mention them here because I like making lists, but if you’ve got a moment and are interested you should read the Feast of Firsts comments, too. So, here we go!

First manga:
Emma by Kaoru Mori. I have heard a lot of good things about this manga, and know a lot of people who really enjoy it.

Hellsing by Kohta Hirano. The tenth and last volume of this manga was published by Dark Horse this past May.

Hot Gimmick by Miki Aihara. I haven’t read this one yet although I do have the first omnibus volume. It’s despised by many and a complete guilty pleasure for others.

Inuyasha by Rumiko Takahashi. I’ve seen a bit of the anime but haven’t had the chance to read the manga. I am a huge fan of Takahashi’s Ranma 1/2, though.

The Wallflower by Tomoko Hayakawa. I keep seeing this manga mentioned, so I guess it’s about time I pick it up. My library has it, so I have no excuse.

First boys’ love manga:
Fumi Yoshinaga is a creator of many excellent manga, several of which feature gay characters or are specifically boys’ love manga.

The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese by Setona Mizushiro. I would really like to see this one available in English and I’m not alone.

Crimson Spell by Ayano Yamane is getting a little hard to find, especially the second volume, but rumor has it Media Blasters plans on printing more.

Gorgeous Carat by You Higuri was actually mentioned by two different people. I haven’t read it (yet) but I have read Higuri’s Cantarella.

Room Share by Sakyou Yozakura isn’t currently licensed in English, but Tokyopop’s Blu Manga imprint recently published Yozakura’s Blood Honey.

Tokyo Babylon by Clamp is sitting on my shelf at home; I should probably get around to reading it at some point.

X-Kai- by Asami Tohjoh. I’ll admit, I hadn’t even heard of this manga before this giveaway; I’ll have to check it out.

Manga Giveaway: Feast of Firsts

Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving here in the United States, probably my absolute favorite holiday seeing as it centers around food. So, I’m feeling particularly giving this month and am giving away a set of four, count them, four boys’ love/yaoi first volumes to one lucky winner. The giveaway is open world-wide but you must be over the age of 18 to enter. (Also, please don’t be asking me to be doing something illegal by sending this to your country.) So, if you’re interested in a chance to win some free manga, read on!

First, a little about of the books. Love Mode is brand new, Shout Out Loud! is used but still in good condition, and both Eerie Queerie! and Gravitation are library discards that I rescued. All of the books are quite different and should give you an opportunity to sample some of the variety of boys’ love that’s out there.

Shuri Shiozu’s Eerie Queerie! was nominated for a Gaylactic Spectrum award in 2005 and then again in 2007 when it was shortlisted. Other than Sanami Matoh’s Until the Full Moon, Eerie Queerie! is the only manga that I know of that has been nominated for this award so far.

Maki Murakami’s Gravitation is a pretty substantial property with both light novels and an anime adaptation in addition to the manga. It’s a ridiculous series and makes me laugh and has quite a following. I believe the individual volumes of Gravitation are actually no longer being printed but the series is being republished in omnibuses as Gravitation Collection.

Of the four manga being offered in this sampler, Yuki Shimizu’s Love Mode is the most explicit, and I promise the art is better than what the cover might make you think. At eleven volumes, Love Mode is one of the longest yaoi series that I’m familiar with available in English.

Last month I posted my response to the NYAF/NYCC panel Gay for You? Yaoi and Yuri Manga for GBLTQ Readers. Satosumi Takaguchi’s Shout Out Loud! was included in the panelists’ list of recommended titles and is well worth checking out.

Since I’m giving away a bunch of first volumes, I thought I’d share a few of my manga firsts. (There’s some sort of logic there, I swear.) For the longest time, I thought that Hiroaki Samura’s Blade of the Immortal was the first manga that I had read and it remains one of my favorites. However, in the process of setting up Experiments in Manga, I realized that the honor in fact goes to either Osamu Tezuka’s Adolf or Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell. As for yaoi, my introduction to the genre was Yaya Sakuragi’s Hey, Sensei? which I’m still fond of. Around the same time I randomly picked up Sanami Matoh’s Fake from the library without realizing it was a boys’ love title.

So, you may be wondering, how can you win a sampler of boys’ love first volumes?

1) In the comments section below, tell me about one of the first manga that you read.
2) For a second entry, tell me about the first boys’ love/yaoi manga you read, OR if you’ve never read boys’ love before just mention that.
3) 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).

Pretty easy? One person can earn up to three entries for the giveaway. The winner will be randomly chosen and announced on December 1, 2010 (hey, another first!)—so you’ve only got one week to get your entries in this time. Good luck!

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: Feast of Firsts Winner