My Week in Manga: February 23-March 1, 2015

My News and Reviews

February has come to an end, but there is still time to enter Experiments in Manga’s most recent manga giveaway for a chance to win the first volume of Ken Akamatsu’s newest series UQ Holder!, published in English by Kodansha Comics. (The winner will be announced on Wednesday, so get those entries in!) Also last week, I posted two in-depth reviews. The first was of Yaya Sakuragi’s manga Hide and Seek, Volume 1. Because Sakuragi was my introduction to boys’ love manga I tend to be interested in and enjoy her work, but I think Hide and Seek may very well be one of her strongest series yet. The second review I posted was of Richard Reeves’ nonfiction work Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II. Technically the book won’t be released until April, but I received an advance copy from the publisher. It’s an informative though strongly worded examination of the internment camps and the service of Japanese Americans in the military during the war.

Elsewhere online, MangaBlog‘s Brigid Alverson has a new gig writing about manga for Barnes and Noble’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog. The Comics Journal has an interview with Breakdown Press, which includes additional information about its manga releases. Paste Magazine posted an overview of Fantagraphics’ manga publishing efforts. Seven Seas made two license announcements: Eiji Matsuda’s My Monster Secret and Kashiwa Miyako’s The Testament of Sister New Devil. Yen Press snuck some license announcements in over the weekend as well: Ryukishi07 and Souichirou’s Rose Gun Days: Season 1, Takatoshi Shiozawa’s Final Fantasy Type-0: The Reaper of the Icy Blade, and Daisuke Hagiwara’s Horimiya. Also of note, Drawn & Quarterly will be publishing a new paperback edition of Seiichi Hayashi’s Red Colored Elegy (bringing it back into print) which will include an essay by Ryan Holmberg not found in the original hardcover release. Finally, Graham Kolbeins put together a short documentary, The House of Gay Art, about a private museum in Japan devoted to the preservation of homoerotic artwork.

Quick Takes

His Favorite, Volume 1His Favorite, Volumes 1-7 by Suzuki Tanaka. I didn’t realize it at first since His Favorite is so completely different, but I actually read (and enjoyed) another of Tanaka’s boys’ love manga several years ago—her collection of short stories Love Hurts. Whereas Love Hurts tended to be a little on the dark side, His Favorite is most definitely a comedy. For the most part, it’s fairly chaste as well. I had actually intended to only read a few volumes last week, but I found myself enjoying the series so much that I ended up reading everything that is currently available in English. There’s really not much of a plot to His Favorite, just an entertaining set up and cast of characters. I especially adore Yoshida, the series’ protagonist who, with his short stature, unpopularity, and somewhat strange appearance, is an extraordinarily atypical boys’ love lead. Then there’s Sato, the other half of the manga’s main couple, who makes all the girls (and some of the guys) literally swoon. Honestly, although he has good looks, Sato is not a very nice person. He does, however, love Yoshida dearly. Of course, since he’s also a sadist, he loves tormenting and teasing him, too. While some aspects of their relationship are questionable, His Favorite is a genuinely amusing series.

Prophecy, Volume 2Prophecy, Volume 2 by Tetsuya Tsutsui. I was very impressed by the first volume of Prophecy and so was looking forward to reading the second a great deal. One of the reasons Prophecy works so well is that the intense social drama the manga deals in feels incredibly relevant. Paperboy’s desire for justice is understandable, but the methods employed by the group of vigilantes really can’t be condoned, though there are many who find their actions satisfying and even entertaining. The sudden shift in Paperboy’s popularity, the increase in the support of the group despite its blatant criminal activity, the appearance of copycats, the Anti Cyber Crimes Division becoming the villains in the eyes of the public, and many of the other developments found in the second volume of Prophecy are frighteningly believable. Internet culture can be extremely toxic and the manga presents a plausible scenario resulting from that. Though I didn’t find the second volume to be quite as compelling the first—much of the manga is focused on the chase rather than the character’s underlying motivations—Prophecy continues to be an excellent series; I’ll definitely be picking up the third and final installment.

The Seven Deadly Sins, Volume 4The Seven Deadly Sins, Volumes 4-6 by Nakaba Suzuki. Currently, the fights in The Seven Deadly Sins are probably what appeal to me most about the series, but they can also be a rather frustrating part of the manga. The problem is that when everyone is so incredibly overpowered, and because Suzuki seems to be making up new abilities and powers on the fly, the battles have a tendency to lose their meaning; it never feels like anyone is in danger of actually losing anything of significance. So far, when supposedly important deaths and sacrifices do occur in the series, it tends to be side characters who have barely managed to establish themselves that are falling victim. As a result, the impact isn’t as great as it could or should be. These particular volumes of The Seven Deadly Sins feature a good number of battles, which admittedly can be entertaining. Unfortunately, for the most part the plot falls by the wayside and the protagonists don’t even approach the fighting tournament that they have entered intelligently. However, I was happy that the fourth volume included a side story that explores Ban’s background a bit more since he continues to be my favorite character in The Seven Deadly Sins.

My Week in Manga: October 11-October 17, 2010

My News and Reviews

Finally, I have posted my first in-depth manga review in over a month—Brilliant Blue, Volume 2. I’m really going to try to post more manga reviews in addition to all of the reviews I post for novels and nonfiction. My goal right now is two in-depth manga reviews per month. Eventually I’d like to do one a week, but that would be pushing it for me right now.

In other news, I also reviewed the first Haruhi Suzumiya light novel, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Although it has a few issues, overall I found the book to hilarious and quite enjoyable. Also, be on the lookout for my next manga giveaway starting later this week. Enter for a chance to win a nice copy of Mushishi, Volume 6.

Quick Takes

Chi’s Sweet Home, Volumes 1-2 by Konami Kanata. This series is just so incredibly cute and adorable. Kanata has perfectly captured the felineness of Chi and the loving cluelessness of her adopted human family. The artwork, while simple, is marvelous. I’m very glad that Vertical chose to keep it in color—I think it would have lost some of its effectiveness otherwise. Chi’s babytalk really annoyed me at first, but I eventually grew used to it or was at least able to ignore it for the most part. I’m not sure how much this series will appeal to those who aren’t cat people, but I absolutely love it.

Love Hurts: Aishiatteru Futari by Suzuki Tanaka. Love Hurts is a collection of four stories, three of which are vaguely boys’ love and all of which are slightly on the dark side. The first two stories are very loosely related to each other while the others are completely separate. It’s kind of a strange collection with murderers, superheros, and aliens all playing their part. It’s not great but it’s certainly not horrible and I did enjoy reading it. Plus Koharu has simply got to be one of the cutest manga guys I’ve seen in a while and fortunately for me, he shows up in two of the stories.

MPD-Psycho, Volumes 4-6 written by Eiji Otsuka and illustrated by Shou Tajima. This series is turning out to be quite different than what I was expecting, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. From the first few volumes I thought it would be mostly about Kazuhiko Amamiya, but it turns out he’s a very small part in a very big picture that has yet to be complete revealed. Although the story is becoming more complex and convoluted, it is still utterly fascinating and I can’t help but want to read more. Tajima’s artwork continues to be fantastically unsettling, as does Otsuka’s story.

Song of the Hanging Sky, Volumes 1-2 by Toriko Gin. Published by the now defunct Go! Comi, only the first two volumes of what I believe is a four volume series have been released in English. Toriko’s character designs, which appear to be heavily influenced by Native American cultures, are simply beautiful. The story can be a little confusing at times, but things become more clear as the series progresses. The first volume introduces the characters while the second volume looks more closely at the tragic history of the ancient race of bird-people. I really hope someone picks up this license—it’s very different from most of the other manga I’ve read so far and quite lovely.

Yellow, Omnibus Editions 1-2 by Makoto Tateno. I had previously read the first omnibus edition but had forgotten how funny it was. The second volume takes a much darker turn, although some of the humor remains. Yellow is by far my favorite work by Tateno that I’ve read so far. Taki and Goh are simply marvelous together and the secondary characters are great as well. It’s starts off rather episodic, but by the end there’s a solid plotline going on. Sometimes the solutions to the riddles posed are rather ridiculous, and the drama can be over the top and completely unrealistic, but the series is a lot of fun to read. I’ll definitely be looking into Yellow 2.

Mushishi, Episodes 1-26. I love Yuki Urushibara’s manga series Mushishi and was excited to learn that an anime series of the story was also made. This has to be one of the most literal anime adaptations that I’ve seen—it’s like reading the manga except it has sound and color. The backgrounds and landscapes are absolutely gorgeous and the music lovely and atmospheric. Although the stories appear in a slightly different order, they’re all original to the manga. It’s not a series for everyone—it’s slow and episodic, and rather strange at times, but I love it.

Random Musings: 365 Days of Manga Loot

Jason Thompson, author of the hilarious King of RPGs, Manga: The Complete Guide, and reviewer for Otaku USA, is currently running a contest and review series called “365 Days of Manga” over at Suvudu (scroll down, the entry form is in the right most column—one winner is chosen per day and you can enter once a day until you win). The contest is getting close to it’s end, but if your entry is selected, you win five free manga from Jason’s collection along with the opportunity to receive five more by posting your picture with your loot. (Official rules)

I won without even knowing it. I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to get an e-mail notification but instead, a package full of free manga just magically appeared on my doorstep. I was not going to complain.

So, what did I get?

The first thing I pulled out was Yuki Urushibara’s Mushishi, Volume 6 which really confused me since I already own the entire run of Mushishi—this was before I realized what was going on and that I had won. Mushishi is a fantastic series, by the way. Next out of the package was Koichi Ohata’s M.D. Geist, complete in one volume, and the first edition of No Need for Tenchi!, Volume 11: Ayeka’s Heart by Hitoshi Okuda. I wasn’t particularly familiar with either of those titles, although I vaguely remember a Tenchi anime airing on Cartoon Network at some point. I also received a volume from the notoriously bad .hack manga franchise, .hack//4koma by Koichi Sumimaru, which actually manages to be funny at times (at least if you’re a gamer and I more or less am). Finally, lurking in the depths of the package, I discovered  Kurohime, Volume 6 by Masanori Ookamigumi Katakura. It’s part of an highly episodic series rumored to be cheese-tastic, so I looked forward to trying it out.

Like a good little manga addict, I posted my photo online and wouldn’t you know it, another package full of free manga magically appeared on my doorstep, this time containing Love Hurts by Suzuki Tanaka and Black Lagoon, Volumes 2-5 by Rei Hiroe. I must admit, as excited as I was to win the first time, I was absolutely thrilled with my second package; I really wanted to read Black Lagoon but hadn’t coughed up the cash for it yet and I’ll certainly never turn down yaoi. So, yeah, very happy with my free manga.

Thanks, Jason!