My Week in Manga: April 7-April 13, 2014

My News and Reviews

With all of the various review project that I recently have had going on, it’s been a while since there’s only been two posts at Experiments in Manga for any given week. (Not counting the My Week in Manga feature.) Last week I posted a review of Chōhei Kambayashi’s science fiction novel Yukikaze. Although interesting from the start, it did take me a few chapters to really get into the book, but ultimately I was very impressed with the depth of Kambayashi’s ideas. The sequel Good Luck, Yukikaze has also been translated and released in English. I’ll be making a point of reading it, as well. My other post last week was a part of the Discovering Manga feature which explores some of the ways that I learn about and learn more about manga and the manga industry. This time around I talked about the site Organization Anti-Social Geniuses which has some great manga-related content—not just reviews, but articles and interviews, too. If you’re not already familiar with OASG, it’s definitely worth checking out.

As for other things worth checking out online: Justin Stroman’s most recent guest post at Manga Bookshelf focuses on manga adapters and the history of manga adaptation. Vertical is hinting at a new license. (A huge volume of 1980s manga, possibly in hardcover? Yes, please.) Manjiorin of Manga Connection has started her Swan review project. I recently finished reading all of Swan that was published in English. I absolutely loved the series, so am looking forward to reading her reviews. A Bento Books newsletter is now available for those interested in staying on top of Bento Books and its releases. The Kodansha Comics tumblr weighs in on piracy from a publisher’s perspective. And finally, Ryan Holmberg takes a look at 1930s shoujo manga with his article Matsumoto Katsuji and the American Roots of Kawaii.

Quick Takes

Beast & FeastBeast & Feast by Norikazu Akira. After a somewhat dubious first chapter, Beast & Feast ends up being a rather cute and sweet boys’ love manga, although it does seem a little odd to describe it using those words. Considering the seriousness of the yakuza storyline and the violence (mostly implied rather than seen), the manga can actually be surprisingly lighthearted. This is mostly due to the characters. Despite their differences, and despite the fact that Hyodo is a yakuza and Kazuha is a police detective, the two of them ultimately make a great couple and they care about each other tremendously. There’s also a fair amount of explicit sex. Hyodo’s sexual appetite is insatiable, making Beast & Feast a very apt title for the manga. While I wasn’t blown away by Beast & Feast, it was solidly entertaining in addition to having attractive artwork. I enjoyed the manga and its characters. So much so that I plan on picking up Honey Darling, the only other manga by Akira currently available in English. (Actually, now that I think about it, she also collaborated on Clan of the Nakagamis.)

Bride of Deimos, Volume 1Bride of Deimos, Volumes 1-7 written by Etsuko Ikeda, illustrated by Yuho Ashibe. There is something about shoujo horror that I find irresistible; maybe it’s just that so much of it seems to have close ties to Gothic literature and Romanticism and emphasizes the emotional and psychological aspects of the story. Bride of Deimos is an interesting example of this type of shoujo horror. It’s from the 1970s and so it also has that fabulous classic shoujo style, too. Only seven of the seventeen volumes were ever released in English. However, the manga tends to be mostly episodic, so it’s not as though the story feels terribly incomplete. I do wish more had been translated though; I ended up really enjoying the series. The framing story for Bride of Deimos focuses on Minako, a young woman whom the androgynously beautiful devil Deimos is determined to make his bride. Many of the individual tales in some way involve love and generally end very badly for those involved. Bride of Deimos somewhat strangely incorporates both Japanese and Greek mythology as well other elements of traditional Western horror and the supernatural.

Panorama of HellPanorama of Hell by Hideshi Hino. And then there’s Panorama of Hell, a horror manga of a completely different sort from 1982. As can probably be determined from the cover alone, Panorama of Hell is extremely gruesome, bloody, violent, and visceral. Panorama of Hell is legitimately terrifying and frightening, and probably one of the best horror manga that I have read. But because it is so graphic and disturbing, and because the humor is so exceptionally dark, Panorama of Hell is definitely not something that I would recommend to just anyone. It takes a reader with a strong heart and stomach to really appreciate the manga. Panorama of Hell is the story of an unnamed painter who has an obsession with blood which he uses in the creation of his artwork. The manga explores his paintings before turning to his family, his past, and all of the abuse and insanity which has had a tremendous influence on him. Hino mixes surreal imagery with historic events in Panorama of Hell. The results are hellish, driving home just how terrible reality can be. Some of Panorama of Hell is actually based on Hino’s life, which in itself is terrifying.

Sunny, Volume 2Sunny, Volumes 2-3 by Taiyo Matsumoto. Sunny is another manga that draws inspiration from the creator’s life. Set in Japan in the 1970s, Sunny can be almost overwhelmingly melancholic. Although there are heartwarming moments there are just as many scenes that are absolutely heartbreaking. Sunny follows the lives of the children at the Star Kids Home. Some are orphans, some have been completely abandoned by their parents, and some have only been temporarily separated from their families. The story also follows the adults in their lives, both those who are positive influences on the children and those who have caused them harm. The people at Star Kids Home, the children and the adults, form an odd sort of family with all of the benefits and disadvantages that that entails. Out of all of the manga by Matsumoto that has so far been released in English, Sunny is the most realistic and therefore probably the most readily accessible for a casual reader. It lacks much of the surrealism present in his other works. Instead Sunny relies even more heavily on the complexities of the characters and their relationships with one another.

My Week in Manga: July 8-July 14, 2013

My News and Reviews

Last week I posted two reviews. The first was for The Vast Spread of the Seas, the third novel in Fuyumi Ono’s fantasy series The Twelve Kingdoms. I’ve really been enjoying reading The Twelve Kingdoms and this volume was no exception. I also reviewed Jen Lee Quick’s Off*Beat, Volume 1. Originally published by Tokyopop, the recently established Chromatic Press has rescued the series and I couldn’t be happier. The new Chromatic editions also include some additional bonus content as well.

Elsewhere online: Xavier Guilbert has published his interview with Taiyo Matsumoto from the 2013 Toronto Comic Arts Festival. The most recent episode of the Comic Books Are Burning In Hell podcast focuses on Suehiro Maruo. Kodansha Comics is offering two digital samplers containing the complete first chapters of many of its series. The Real sampler collects chapters from Kodansha’s “real-life” manga: Arisa, Bloody Monday, Danza, Genshiken, Genshiken: Second Season, I Am Here, Kitchen Princess, Missions of Love, and Vinland Saga. The Unreal sampler includes chapters from Kodansha’s fantasy, science fiction, and supernatural series: @ Full Moon, Attack on Titan, Cage of Eden, Fairy Tail, Mardock Scramble, Ninja Girls, No. 6, Sankarea: Undying Love, and Until the Full Moon.

Finally, this week is the Yun Kouga Manga Moveable Feast! Melinda Beasi of Manga Bookshelf is hosting this round and has already posted a marvelous introduction. For my contribution to the Feast I’ll be reviewing the first Loveless omnibus later this week. Loveless was originally published in English by Tokyopop, but Viz Media rescued the license last year (which made me very happy.) Although I enjoy Loveless, I haven’t actually read any of Kouga’s other manga. I look forward to seeing what everyone else has to say about her work.

Quick Takes

Dog X Cat, Volume 1Dog X Cat, Volumes 1-3 by Yoshimi Amasaki. Junya and Atsu have been friends since they were young. They’re in college now and their friendship becomes a little more complicated when Junya lets it slip that he’s actually in love with Atsu. Dog X Cat might not have the most original plot—I’ve seen the friends becoming lovers storyline many a time—but the two young men have a charming relationship with each other and a lot of sex. (Dog X Cat is part of Digital Manga’s more explicit 801 imprint, after all.) Some chapters are told from Junya’s perspective while others are from Atsu’s. It’s nice to see both sides of their story. Dog X Cat is an ongoing series; the fourth volume is scheduled to be released in English in 2014.

Mardock Scramble, Volume 5Mardock Scramble, Volumes 5-7 by Yoshitoki Oima. I’ve read Tow Ubukata’s original Mardock Scramble, but somehow managed to forget how pivotal child and sexual abuse was to the plot. The manga handles it fairly well and hasn’t turned it into something titillating. One thing that I didn’t forget from the novels was the lengthy casino scene. In particular, nearly two hundred pages worth of Blackjack which sorely tried my patience. Although some of the finer details and plot complications are glossed over in Oima’s adaptation, I much preferred reading the two volumes of manga covering the same material. This left one volume for Oima to bring everything to a quickly paced, action-packed close. For the most part, Oima’s interpretation of Mardock Scramble largely succeeds.

No. 5, Volume 1No. 5, Volumes 1-2 by Taiyo Matsumoto. Only two volumes of No. 5 were ever released in English in print. However, the entire series is now available digitally (on a platform I can’t use). I’ve come to love Matsumoto’s work in general and I particularly enjoy No. 5. The story follows Number Five, a member of the Rainbow Council of the International Peackeeping Forces, a small group of people with superhuman abilities. He’s fallen in love and gone rogue and now his teammates must hunt him down. While Number One and the rest of the Rainbow Council try to maintain control of the situation, there are others who are making the argument that the group is obviously dangerous and should no longer exist.

Black Lagoon, Episodes 13-24 directed by Sunao Katabuchi. Although I still enjoyed the second half of Black Lagoon anime, for some reason that I can’t identify I didn’t like it quite as much as the first. The anime follows the manga fairly closely, but takes a few of its own liberties while keeping the same tone as the original. I do think that I still prefer the manga slightly more than the anime, but the anime is entertaining as well. Additionally, the action is a little clearer and easier to follow in the anime. And I continue to be impressed by the sound design. The Black Lagoon anime tends to be violent and bloody and even the protagonists aren’t really “good guys.” They can be just as vicious as the other people they come up against.

My Week in Manga: May 20-May 26, 2013

My News and Reviews

Last week was the Yumi Tamura Manga Moveable Feast, hosted at Tokyo Jupiter. For my contribution to the Feast, I reviewed Tamura’s Chicago, Volume 1: The Book of Self and Chicago, Volume 2: The Book of Justice. Chicago was the first of Tamura’s manga to be officially released in English. The series had great potential, so it was shame that Tamura prematurely ended it after only two volumes. Anna of Tokyo Jupiter also took a look at Beauty and Grit in Tamura’s Chicago, with a particular focus on the use of music in the series.

While paging through the August 2013 issue of Otaku USA I came across a review for Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices. I don’t know how I missed the fact that this book was being published; there currently seems to be very little information about it available. It’s being edited by Manga Bookshelf‘s Melinda Beasi for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Contributing authors include Katherine Dacey, Shaenon Garrity, Sean Gaffney, Ed Chavez, Erica Friedman, and Robin Brenner. The book is being funded by a gift to CBLDF from The Gaiman Foundation. I might have just heard about Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices, but I’m already very excited for its release.

I recently came across two manga review projects while wandering around on the Internet. The anime blog The Cart Driver has begun a series of Manga Driver posts focusing on, but not limited to, great manga series that haven’t yet been adapted into anime. The queer literature blog I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read? has a new intern exploring LGTBQ Teen Manga. Aaron’s list of manga to review includes boys’ love and yuri as well as manga from other genres. (The reviews can be found by browsing the blog’s manga tag.)

I mentioned a few months ago that Vertical’s contract for Keiko Takemiya manga will soon come to an end, meaning that her two series To Terra… and Andromeda Stories will sadly be going out of print. (Additionally, any remaining stock that Vertical has after the cutoff dates will be destroyed.) Right Stuf has a little more information and is currently offering the manga at 40% off. To Terra… in particular is a fantastic series. If you haven’t already read Takemiya’s manga, this would be a good time to pick them up for a great price before they’re gone for good.

Finally, the manga blog Manga Weekend is hosting a Manga Olympics for Bloggers (MOB). Unfortunately, I won’t be able to participate due to my personal and work schedules. I’ll be doing a lot of traveling in June; it’ll be tough enough just to keep Experiments in Manga’s posts on schedule. I do plan on keeping my eye MOB, though, and hope to discover some new manga blogs in the process.

Quick Takes

Heroes Are Extinct!!, Volumes 1-3 by Ryoji Hido. I was taken completely by surprise by how entertaining and funny Heroes Are Extinct!! was. Sentai fans in particular will appreciate the series, but others should enjoy it, too. Heroes Are Extinct!! begins as a fairly standard parody but as it progresses Hido incorporates inter-galactic politics and court intrigue as well. Grand Galactic General Cassiel of the Bazue Empire has been charged with conquering Earth, but is disappointed by the lack of heroes. (He may have watched a little too much Earth television as a child.) With no suitable foe present, he begins training the Earth Force Terra Rangers to make his invasion a little more interesting.

MPD-Psycho, Volume 10 written by Eiji Otsuka and illustrated by Shou Tajima. At the end of 2011 the tenth volume of MPD-Psycho was released by Dark Horse after a two year hiatus. Since then there has been no word if any later volumes will be published. There were some pretty big plot reveals in volume ten, so I sincerely hope that more of the series will be seen in English. The manga isn’t without its problems, but I do find it engaging overall. MPD-Psycho is a graphic, violent, and dark series with an increasingly strange and convoluted plot. Clones, bizarre murders, cults, eugenics, and secret organizations all play important roles even when it’s not immediately clear what those roles are. Tajima’s creepy art style suits the disconcerting story nicely.

Only Serious About You, Volumes 1-2 by Kai Asou. Although Only Serious About You is a boys’ love series, it’s just as much about Nao trying to raise his young daughter Chizu as a single parent as it is about his developing relationship with Yoshi, an openly gay man who freqents the restaurant where Nao works. The initial circumstances surrounding the two men getting together seemed a little forced to me. (Coming down with a fever seems to be a really big deal in Japan.) However, their bond develops very realistically from there. Only Serious About You is a charming and sweet manga. With its emphasis on family and cooking, it’s also one of the most domestic boys’ love stories that I’ve read.

Sunny, Volume 1 by Taiyo Matsumoto. I have become rather fond of Matsumoto’s work and so was excited when Viz announced it would be publishing his most recent manga series Sunny, and in a beautiful hardcover edition no less. The manga follows a group of kids living in a children’s home who either don’t have families or have been separated from them for one reason or another. The narrative isn’t straightforward; instead, Sunny is more a collection of impressions. Many of the vignettes are rather melancholic—none of the kids’ situations are anywhere close to being ideal. But there are moments of cheerfulness and genuine caring as well. Although some might find it ugly, I really enjoy Matsumoto’s artwork. His color pages in particular are lovely.

Dear Brother, Episodes 1-20 directed by Osamu Dezaki. Dear Brother is a thirty-nine episode anime adaptation from the early 1990s based on Riyoko Ikeda’s classic yuri manga. Nanako Misonoo is a first year at Seiran Academy, an elite all-girls school. There she is caught up in the drama surrounding three of the most popular girls in the school. As the series progresses the relationships between the characters are revealed to be incredibly complicated. They can also be very tragic, angst-ridden, and twisted. At times the Dear Brother anime is almost ponderous in its pacing while at other times it’s marvelously melodramatic. I’m really looking forward to watching the second half of the series.

Random Musings: Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2013

© Taiyo Matsumoto

I first learned about the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) in 2011 when Usamaru Furuya and Natsume Ono were invited to the event as featured guests. (As a side note: translations of their diary manga from the trip are included in the 2013 TCAF program guide.) It took me two years to finally work up the courage to attend TCAF myself and get my passport in order. 2013 marked TCAF’s tenth anniversary. This year’s festival featured over four hundred creators from nineteen different countries, including mangaka Taiyo Matsumoto and Gengoroh Tagame. While there were festival events throughout May, TCAF 2013’s main exhibition took place on Saturday, May 11th and Sunday, May 12th.

In order to keep the cost of the trip as low as possible, I crossed over the border into Canada from Michigan early Saturday morning along with my good friend Traci (who contributed a guest post here at Experiments in Manga not too long ago.) I arrived in Toronto in time to see The World of Taiyo Matsumoto, an exhibition at The Japan Foundation featuring original artwork by Matsumoto (creator of Blue Spring, Tekkon Kinkreet, GoGo Monster, and the recently released Sunny.) Matsumoto himself was in attendance for a special interview and artist’s talk. The turnout was huge—standing-room only and some people even had to be turned away. Matsumoto admitted that he never expected so many people to turn out to see him and that he was greatly honored. The event and exhibit, which focused on Matsumoto’s artwork, were marvelous. I certainly learned quite a bit: Matsumoto and Santa Inoue (creator of Tokyo Tribes) are cousins and they regularly talk about manga and help each other out; Tekkon Kinkreet was originally intended to be six volumes long, but ended after three since it wasn’t popular enough to continue (although Matsumoto said that he is satisfied with its conclusion and has no desire to revisit the story); in the beginning, Matsumoto was actually reluctant and even resentful working on Ping Pong, which became his breakout manga; and while Matsumoto has always been an innovative artist, more recent developments in printing technology have allowed him to experiment with different drawing materials and techniques, moving even further away from the use of screentone.

© Maurice Vellekoop

From The Japan Foundation, I headed over to the spotlight on Gengoroh Tagame, a highly influential gay manga artist. Joining Tagame were Anne Ishii, Chip Kidd, and Graham Kolbeins to celebrate Tagame and his work and to discuss the recent release of The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame, which they all had a hand in bringing into being. The panelists were all very enthusiastic and had a great senses of humor. Because of this, the spotlight was engaging and entertaining in addition to being informative. Apparently, there was a rumor that Tagame did not want his work translated into English. He assured us all that this was not true. In fact, he was surprised that it took until now for a collection of his manga to be released in English. It is possible that the rumor may have had a chilling effect on the licensing of Tagame’s materials. Like so many other people (myself included), he is very excited about the publication of The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame. He is also unbelievably happy that others share enjoyment in his fantasies. Tagame is unusual in that very few gay manga artists in Japan are able to make their living on their artwork alone, most hold at least a second job. The panel ended with a very interesting conversation about gay manga and bara (manga typically geared towards gay men) and boys’ love and yaoi (manga typically geared towards women.) It’s difficult to generalize about the genres and the distinction between them isn’t always as clear as some people claim or would like; there can be considerable grey area, crossover, and overlap between the two. For a time, yaoi served as an outlet for gay manga before bara became more publicly acceptable and gay manga magazines were established. Tagame actually started out by submitting his work to yaoi magazines when he was eighteen and he continues to have a large number of female fans. In line for his signing after the talk were people of all (adult) ages, genders, and sexualities, which was wonderful to see.

After having my copy of The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame signed, Traci and I met up together again. We made our way down to The Beguiling Books & Art which is an astounding, award-winning comics store. If you find yourself in Toronto, I highly recommend stopping by The Beguiling. It has new comics, old comics, out-of-print comics, mainstream comics, alternative comics, independent comics, domestic comics, international comics (including the largest selection of manga that I’ve ever seen in one place), and more, more, more. And since the shop was across the street from Koreatown, Traci and I took the opportunity to chow down on some delicious Korean food before heading over to Church on Church to catch the tail end of the TCAF Queer Mixer. Unfortunately, we missed the reception and artist talks, but we still were able to see the exhibit Legends: The Gay Erotic Art of Maurice Vellekoop and Gengoroh Tagame which was well worth the trek across town. (Honestly, I was more interested in the art than I was in the mixer itself, anyways.) On a more personal note, I have never had the opportunity to walk around a queer neighborhood before. It was an awesome and somewhat surreal experience for me; it made me very happy just to be in the Church Wellesley Village area.

On Sunday, I attended the Comics Editing International panel which brought together four comics editors from different countries and backgrounds: Thomas Ragon from Dargaud (the oldest comics publisher in France), James Lucas Jones from Oni Press, Mark Siegel from First Second Books, and Hideki Egami from IKKI/Shogakukan. The group talked about the similarities and differences between their work as editors and the comics markets in their countries. The panel was fascinating. I love IKKI manga, and so was very excited to hear editor-in-chief Egami speak. IKKI is different from most magazines in Japan; it appeals to mangaka who want more control over their work and artistic vision as well as those who want to escape the factory-like system associated with so many of the other magazines. Egami mentioned that the manga industry in general is in decline in Japan, and so publishers are beginning to look outside of the country more and more where once they were almost exclusively focused on the domestic market. IKKI has even started to experiment by publishing left-to-right comics with horizontal text, hoping that they will be more easily adapted, translated, and distributed in other countries. I also attended Sunday’s Queer Comics panel which featured Zan Christensen (who is utterly delightful), Erika Moen, Justin Hall, Chip Kidd, and Gilbert Hernandez and Jaime Hernandez. They talked about queer comics specifically and the representation of queer characters in comics in general, with a particular emphasis on non-binary and fluid sexualities and genders, which I personally appreciated. It was a great group and a great discussion.

My very small, TCAF haul

For the most part, I intentionally flew under the radar while at TCAF. I saw several of my fellow manga lovers around (Deb Aoki, Brigid Alverson, and Jocelyne Allen, just to name a few) and I know that there were even more of us there, too, but I tend to keep to myself and didn’t seek anyone out. I did, however, wander around the exhibitors’ area for a bit. Because I promised that I would, I made a point to introduce myself to the wonderful ladies of Chromatic Press and Tokyo Demons, which is one of my more recent obsessions. (I had been invited to the Chromatic Manga Mixer on Friday night, but I sadly wasn’t in town yet.) I also chatted with Alex Woolfson about  Artifice and The Young Protectors and stopped by Jess Fink‘s table long enough to awkwardly profess my love for her work. Ryan Sand’s new publishing effort Youth in Decline made it’s official debut at TCAF, so I picked up a copy of the first issue of Frontier to show my support. One of the best things about TCAF, other than the chance to see so many fantastic artists who I already follow all in one place (and there were a lot of them there), was the opportunity to discover creators who I wasn’t previously aware of. This is how I ended up bringing home Andrew Fulton‘s minicomic Pubes of Fire, Pubes of Flame which continues to greatly amuse me.

I really do not do well in unstructured, social settings; simply attending TCAF was a huge deal for me and a tremendous personal achievement. I largely consider my first TCAF experience to be a success. I am very happy to report that Traci and I both had a phenomenal time. After only a few hours of being there, I was already making plans for a return visit for next year’s show. Seriously, TCAF is amazing. There was so much going on that I had to make some extremely tough decisions about which programs to attend over others. I saw a ton of incredible work from incredible creators from all over the world and I still feel like there was more that I didn’t get to see. So next year, I’ll be showing up no later than the Friday before the main exhibition and preferably earlier. I’ll be scheduling more time to spend exploring every nook and cranny of the exhibitors’ area. I’ll also be carrying around some snacks with me during the festival; I was so busy and engaged by the programming and exhibits that I actually forgot to eat for most of the day. Next year, I hope to have the guts to actually introduce myself to everyone and maybe even socialize a bit more, too. (Please do not be offended if I didn’t say hello to you this year!) As long as there’s a TCAF, you can expect me to be there.

My Week in Manga: February 25-March 3, 2013

My News and Reviews

February seemed to pass by quickly. Granted, it is the shortest month of the year. But because it is the end of one month and the beginning of another, it does mean it’s time for another manga giveaway! The winner will be announced this coming Wednesday, so there is still time to enter for a chance to win the hardcover edition of Osamu Tezuka’s Ayako.

For those of you who are interested in my absurd manga-buying habits, February’s Bookshelf Overload was also posted last week. The most recent Library Love feature—basically a bunch of quick takes of manga that I’ve borrowed and read from my local library—is now available, too.

A few things that I came across online this past week: Brigid Alverson has a lengthy interview with Stu Levy, the CEO of Tokyopop, at MangaBlog. Vertical announced two new manga licenses at Genericon—From the New World and Pink. And speaking of Vertical, keep an eye on the publisher’s tumblr for a new questions and answers column.

Quick Takes

A Bride’s Story, Volume 4 by Kaoru Mori. I absolutely love Mori’s artwork. The attention she gives to detail and historical accuracy is superb. If nothing else, A Bride’s Story is gorgeous. But I also enjoy Mori’s storytelling. The fourth volume in the series is a little more lighthearted and comedic than previous volumes. The story turns its focus to Laila and Leyli, twins with very outgoing personalities who are in search of husbands. Personally, I prefer the earlier volumes, but this was a fun one, too. The English release of A Bride’s Story has now almost caught up with the Japanese release. I have no idea when the next volume will be published, but I’m looking forward to it immensely.

Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl, Omnibus 1 written by Satoru Akahori and illustrated by Yukimaru Katsura. Kashimashi is a very odd yuri series. Hazumu is an effeminate high school boy who has been brought back to life by aliens after they crash land their spaceship on him. Only now Hazumu is female all the way down to her DNA. The series follows Hazumu as she adjusts to being a girl and the new relationship dynamics that brings. The girl she had a crush on and was rejected by as a guy is now interested in her, and her best friends are conflicted over the romantic feelings they have developed for Hazumu. As for Hazumu’s parents and teachers: the adults in Kashimashi are much more immature and annoying than the teenagers. Fortunately, they’re not around all that much.

Tekkon Kinkreet: Black & White by Taiyo Matsumoto. Dark, surreal, and compelling are characteristics that I’ve come to expect from Matsumoto’s manga. His award-winning Tekkon Kinkreet is a fantastic example of this. It’s one of his more approachable works, as well. But as a warning, Tekkon Kinkreet can also be disturbingly violent. Black and White are two orphans living on the streets of Treasure Town who come into direct conflict with the yakuza who are trying to take control of the city. Black is tough and streetwise while White is childlike in his innocence. But they both need each other. The manga is about balance. Balance between good and evil, right and wrong, darkness and light, Black and White.