My Week in Manga: July 17-July 23, 2017

My News and Reviews

Although I’ve started to include Quick Takes of novels as part of the weekly My Week in Manga feature, it’s been a little while since I’ve actually written and in-depth review of a novel here at Experiments in Manga. However, last week featured my review of Tomoyuki Hoshino’s ME, one of my most anticipated literary releases of 2017. Much like the rest of Hoshino’s work available in translation, ME is challenging and can demand quite a bit from the reader, but I found it to be worth the effort. The novel is an incredibly surreal but thought-provoking exploration of identity, self, and society. Hoshino’s fiction definitely isn’t for everyone, but I hope to see even more of it translated in the future.

Last week there were also some manga-related licensing announcements made at the San Diego Comic Con. Among other things, Udon Entertainment has picked up Virginia Nitōhei’s manga adaptation of Otherwordly Izakaya “Nobu,” will be adding Romeo & Juliet, Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Adventures of Huckleberry Fin to its Manga Classics line, and will be releasing Mega Man MasterMix, a full-color edition of Hitoshi Ariga’s Mega Man Megamix. Vertical Comics will be publishing Kinoko Natsume’s Chi’s Sweet Adventure, a spin-off of Konami Kanata’s Chi’s Sweet Home. And finally, Viz Media announced that it would be releasing Tsuyoshi Takaki’s Black Torch, Inio Asano’s Dead Dead Demon’s Dededededestruction (I’m definitely interested in this), Aka Akasaka’s Kaguya-sama: Love is War, and Koyoharu Gotouge’s Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.

Elsewhere online, a recent episode of the Manga Mavericks podcast provides an overview of the licensing news from Anime Expo in addition to digging into Kabi Nagata’s My Lesbian Experience in Loneliness and Gengoroh Tagame’s My Brother’s Husband. Over at The OASG, Krystallina expresses some valid concerns and criticisms of Digital Manga’s most recent crowdfunding efforts. And speaking of crowdfunding campaigns, there have been several less dubious projects that have caught my eye recently: Deer Woman is an anthology featuring comics created by Native and Indigenous woman which are inspired by traditional Deer Woman stories; Gothic Tales of Haunted Love is a collection of full-color gothic romance comics; and then of course there’s Sparkler Monthly Magazine: Year 5 which is particularly important to me. With every year that passes Sparkler Monthly just keeps getting better and better. I’ve featured a small selection of some of the magazine’s content before, but there’s so much more that I’ve never even mentioned here and it’s all great stuff. Please consider contributing to the campaign if you’re able!

Quick Takes

After Hours, Volume 1After Hours, Volume 1 by Yuhta Nishio. Recently there has been a notable surge of yuri and other lesbian-themed manga being released in English, mostly by Seven Seas, although other publishers have been licensing some as well. After Hours, for example, is the first yuri title from Viz Media if not ever at least in a very long time. That certainly caught my attention, but even more so was the fact that After Hours is not a schoolgirl manga and is instead about adult women (although the cover art does make Emi in particular look fairly young). Emi is invited out to a club by her friend but is generally left to fend for herself once she’s there. That’s when Kei more or less comes to her rescue. The two women hit it off and Emi ends up going home with Kei that night, one thing leading to another. It’s incredibly refreshing that Emi and Kei’s mutual attraction isn’t treated like an aberration or made out to be like it’s a big deal simply because they’re both women. After that first night their relationship continues to naturally develop, largely without angst, as they get to know each other better, Kei introducing Emi to her friends, the local music scene, and her passion as a DJ. The release of second volume of After Hours hasn’t been publicly announced yet, but there is no question that I’ll be picking it up; I absolutely loved the first volume and look forward to reading more.

Blindsprings, Volume 1Blindsprings, Volume 1 by Kadi Fedoruk. Sadly, I was unable to contribute to the Blindsprings Kickstarter campagin which raised funds to release the first print volume of the webcomic, so I was thrilled when I had the chance to pick up an early copy and chat a little with Fedoruk at this year’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival. In addition to first five chapters of the comic, the first volume also includes twenty-six pages of bonus content, artwork, and character profiles. Blindsprings is a beautifully illustrated, full-color comic with an engaging story, a diverse cast of characters, and an intriguing, complex, and well-developed world. (I especially appreciate how a variety of genders and sexualities are naturally and unobtrusively incorporated into the story.) Princess Tamaura is about to complete her 300-year agreement to serve the as an Orphic priestess for the sake of her sister, but her contract with the Spirits is broken when she is “rescued” against her will by a young man determined to prove a point. Tammy is torn from her sanctuary and thrust into a modern world in which Orphic traditions and their practitioners are harshly oppressed, the Academists and their magic now largely in control of what was her homeland. But there are still those who resist, and Tammy soon finds herself caught up in the conflict.

Tokyo Ghoul: PastTokyo Ghoul: Past written by Shin Towada Sui Ishida and illustrated by Sui Ishida. Viz Media doesn’t publish many novels outside of its Haikasoru imprint, but considering the popularity of Ishida’s Tokyo Ghoul manga series, it’s not too surprising that Towada’s trilogy of light novels were released as well. Although Past is Towada’s third Tokyo Ghoul novel (well, technically it’s more of a collection of vaguely-related short stories), the volume serves as a prequel to Tokyo Ghoul as a whole, the six chapters delving into the backstories of many of the Tokyo Ghoul‘s prominent characters. Despite taking place before the main series, Past is definitely not an introduction. It is intended for readers who are already invested in the franchise–a few of the stories don’t absolutely require prior knowledge in order to follow them, but others are nearly incomprehensible without at least some basic familiarity with Tokyo Ghoul. The general premise of Past is great, the volume allowing fans of Tokyo Ghoul the chance to spend more time with and gain a better understanding of some of the characters, especially as Past is able to tell stories that wouldn’t have immediately fit in the primary series. It’s unfortunate then that the actual writing is frustratingly awful much of the time with drama and angst frequently favored over plot developments that make logical sense.

Manga Giveaway: Tokyo Ghoul Trio Winner

Tokyo Ghoul, Volume 1
Tokyo Ghoul, Volume 2
Tokyo Ghoul, Volume 3

And the winner of the Tokyo Ghoul Trio manga giveaway is… Briell Saunders!

As the winner, Briell will receive the first three volumes of Sui Ishida’s manga series Tokyo Ghoul as published in English by Viz Media. For this giveaway, I asked that participants tell me a little about their favorite half-human characters from manga. Kaneki Ken, the protagonist of Tokyo Ghoul, was mentioned a fair number of times, but he’s not the only well-liked half-human. Check out the giveaway comments for everyone’s details responses, and check out the list below for some of the manga that feature half-humans of various types.

Some of the manga licensed in English featuring half-humans:
Bleach by Tite Kubo
Blue Exorcist by Kazue Kato
Ceres: Celestial Legend by Yuu Watase
Cirque du Freak by Takahiro Arai
Claymore by Norihiro Yagi
D.Gray-man by Katsura Hoshino
Dawn of the Arcana by Rei Toma
The Devil Is a Part-Timer by Akio Hiragi
Franken Fran by Katsuhisa Kigitsu
Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa
InuYasha by Rumiko Takahashi
Jiu Jiu by Touya Tobina
My Girlfriend Is a T-Rex by Sanzo
My Monster Secret by Eiji Masuda
Negima by Ken Akamatsu
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan by Hiroshi Shiibashi
Parasyte by Hitoshi Iwaaki
Rin-ne by Rumiko Takahashi
Rust Blaster by Yana Toboso
That Wolf-Boy Is Mine! by Yoko Nogiri
Three Wolves Mountain by Bohra Naono
Tokyo Ghoul by Sui Ishida
Übel Blatt by Etorouji Shiono
Wolf Children: Ame & Yuki by Mamoru Hosoda
YuYu Hakusho by Yoshihiro Togashi

Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway and took the time to share your favorites with me. I hope to see you all again!

Manga Giveaway: Tokyo Ghoul Trio

Not only is it the last Wednesday of August, it’s the last day in August which means it’s yet again time for Experiments in Manga’s monthly giveaway! This month you’ll all have the opportunity to win not one, not two, but three volumes of Sui Ishida’s Tokyo Ghoul as published in English by Viz Media. The giveaway is open worldwide, too!

Tokyo Ghoul, Volume 1Tokyo Ghoul, Volume 2Tokyo Ghoul, Volume 3

Tokyo Ghoul has been doing very well for Viz Media. The first volume has currently been on the New York Times’ Best Sellers list for fifty-nine weeks strait. The eighth and most recent volume is currently at the top of that list, and other volumes are frequently found on it, too. While I haven’t followed the series closely beyond the first few volumes, there are still quite a few things I like about the manga. In addition to the series’ dark and gritty aesthetic, I particularly appreciate that the protagonist must come to terms with who he is, struggling to find his new identity after a near-death experience leaves him part-ghoul and part-human. In general I find explorations of personal identity to be engaging and Tokyo Ghoul‘s supernatural variation on the theme to be interesting.

So, you may be wondering, how can you win the first three volumes of Tokyo Ghoul?

1) In the comments below, tell me a little about your favorite half-human from manga. (If you haven’t encountered any half-humans, simply mention that.)
2) If you’re on Twitter, you can earn a bonus entry by tweeting, or retweeting, about the contest. Make sure to include a link to this post and @PhoenixTerran (that’s me).

Not too difficult, is it? Participants in the giveaway can earn up to two entries and have one week to submit comments. If you have trouble with comment form or if you prefer, comments can be sent directly to phoenixterran(at)gmail(dot)com. The comments will then be posted here in your name. The winner of the giveaway will be randomly selected and announced on September 7, 2016. Best of luck to you all!

VERY IMPORTANT: Include some way that I can contact you. This can be an e-mail address in the comment form, a 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: Tokyo Ghoul Trio Winner


My Week in Manga: October 26-November 1, 2015

My News and Reviews

A few different things were posted at Experiments in Manga last week. The most recent manga giveaway is currently underway, for one, and here’s still time to enter for a chance to win Barakamon, Volume 1 by Satsuki Yoshino. Last week I reviewed Vinland Saga, Omnibus 6 by Makoto Yukimura. The series continues to impress me a great deal with its story telling and character development. The fate of the series in English will be in part determined by how well the sixth and seventh omnibuses do (the seventh omnibus is currently scheduled to be released in December); I truly hope that Kodansha will be able to release more because Vinland Saga is fantastic. Finally, over the weekend, I posted the Bookshelf Overload for October.

I’ve been extremely busy with all sorts of life stuff, so while I’m sure there were plenty of interesting things going on in the realm of manga online, there were only two that really caught my eye last week: Shojo Beat posted a short interview with Rinko Ueda and Chris Butcher wrote about his experience interviewing Masashi Kishimoto at New York Comic Con. Also as a heads up, because I am so extraordinarily caught up in things going on at work and at home right now, I’ve decided to go a little easier on myself with my blogging schedule for November (and probably for the first half of December as well). Instead of the usual Monday-Wednesday-Friday posting schedule, in the upcoming weeks I may just be posting on Monday and Thursday. Hopefully things will calm down and I can get back to writing more soon!

Quick Takes

Fairy Tail, Volume 50Fairy Tail, Volume 50 by Hiro Mashima. After so many arcs in which the Fairy Tail guild was fighting to save the world, I’m particularly enjoying the beginning of this most recent arc in which Fairy Tail doesn’t technically even exist anymore. Although there are some epic, world-altering developments occurring in the background, for the moment the story is focusing on the much more personal crises of the disbanded guild as it rebuilds itself. It’s a nice change of pace, though I’m fairly certain it won’t last for very long. A year or so has passed since the members of Fairy Tail parted their separate ways. Quite a few of the magic users have managed to power up during that time, allowing Mashima the opportunity to come up with some exciting and interesting new skills for them in order to show just how badass they’ve become (and they were strong to begin with). Some of the fan service focusing on the female characters in Fairy Tail continues to feel very out-of-place and distracting, but at least the women are frequently some of the strongest and most well-developed characters. The male characters are the subject of fan service from time to time, too, though never to the same extent.

Tokyo Ghoul, Volume 1Tokyo Ghoul, Volume 1-3 by Sui Ishida. The glut of vampire and zombie manga continues—and I’m not really a devotee of either of those subgenres—so I especially appreciate that Tokyo Ghoul makes use of an entirely different creature, the titular ghoul. In the case of this particular manga series, ghouls largely pass as normal humans assuming that they can master their intense hunger for human flesh. After an encounter with a ghoul that nearly leaves him dead, Kaneki finds himself in the unique position of partly belonging to both the human world and the world of the ghouls, and yet it will be a struggle for him to survive in either of them. In Tokyo Ghoul, humans are just as capable of being monsters. And Ishida isn’t afraid of killing off prominent characters, whether they be human or ghoul, so there is a constant sense of danger. Sadly, I think the emotional impact of the deaths was somewhat diminished since readers hadn’t yet had the chance to really get to know the characters involved as individuals. Still, kudos to Ishida for potentially making good use of some shocking, unexpected developments, especially as some early parts of the first volume were a little predictable.

Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Volume 4Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Volume 4 by Miki Yohsikawa. Although the fan service in Fairy Tail tends to bug me, the fan service in Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches doesn’t really bother me at all, probably because it’s better incorporated into the story itself. Admittedly, it can still be gratuitous from time to time. Since the manga in part deals with body-swapping, it makes sense that there would be some focus on the characters’ physical traits. Plus this particular volume includes the obligatory beach and onsen scenes. One thing that really impresses me about Yoshikawa’s artwork in the Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches is that it’s obvious from the characters’ facial expressions and body language when there has been some swapping going on. This actually ends up being explicitly pointed out in the series when one character develops a crush on a specific combination of personality and body type. The witch count continues to grow in the series as does Yamada’s group of friends while he begins to work out a theory explaining why everyone has the powers that they do. I’m still really enjoying Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches. Though largely a comedy, it has some heart to it as well.