My Week in Manga: January 21-January 27, 2013

My News and Reviews

Last week was a very busy week here at Experiments in Manga—I was the host of the Moyoco Anno Manga Moveable Feast. For an overview of the Feast, you can check out the Roundup One, Roundup Two, Roundup Three, and A Final Farewell posts. In addition to my hosting duties, I also wrote a bunch of reviews: Happy Mania, Volume 1, Flowers & Bees, Volume 1, Sakuran: Blossoms Wild, Sugar Sugar Rune, Volume 1, and Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators. Not as many people turned out for this Feast as turned out for the Usamaru Furuya Manga Moveable Feast last year, but there were still some fabulous contributions. Thank you everyone for helping to make the Feast a success! I had a good time and hope others enjoyed it as well.

Vertical has opened it’s Winter 2013 Survey, looking for licensing suggestions and asking about fans’ buying habits and what they would like to see from Vertical in the future. Vertical followed this up with a post about the Early Survey Results, ending with the comment “Oh and remember this isn’t a popularity contest. The higher a title ranks, the more likely we will not be able to license it (various reasons).” Otaku Champloo’s Khursten wrote a great response looking at what some of those reasons might be and Vertical later expounded on the subject as well.

In other manga news, PictureBox has revealed the first two books in its new Ten-Cent Manga series: Shigeru Sugiura’s The Last of the Mohicans (which I already have preordered) and Osamu Tezuka’s The Mysterious Underground Men. I’m very excited to see more classic manga being translated into English, though I’ll admit that I’m getting a little burned out on Tezuka as brilliant as he can be.

Over at The Hooded Utilitarian, Ng Suat Tong takes a look at the recent release of Moto Hagio’s The Heart of Thomas and isn’t impressed—Heart of Thomas, Heart of Tedium. Although some of the points Tong makes are good ones, I don’t personally agree with all of them. However, I do think it’s valuable to consider the opinions, criticisms, and perspectives of others. Melinda Beasi and Michelle Smith also took a look at The Heart of Thomas for Manga Bookshelf’s BL Bookrack feature. Their response to the work is closer to mine, but I hope to post my own review of The Heart of Thomas sometime in the near future.

Quick Takes

Kaoru Mori: Anything and Something by Kaoru Mori. This is a rather odd collection celebrating the ten years of Mori’s work since the debut of her series Emma. The volume feels like one giant omake, and in part that’s exactly what it is. There are a few delightful stand-alone short manga included, but about half of the volume is devoted to bonus materials and illustrations. The volume will particularly appeal to fans of Emma. If there’s one thing that this collection does it gets my hopes up that Yen might consider rescuing the license for Emma—I’d love to see a that series get the same deluxe treatment that this and A Bride’s Story has received—but there’s been no official news on that front.

Please Save My Earth, Volumes 15-21 by Saki Hiwatari. At last, I have finished Hiwatari’s shoujo science fiction epic Please Save My Earth. It did feel a little long and directionless in places, but I was very satisfied with how Hiwatari pulls everything together in the end. Overall, I really loved the series. In part, these final volumes explore Mokuren’s backstory and show previously established events from her perspective. This is certainly important, but I find the storyline that takes place in the present—how the characters are now dealing with their past lives as they are interfering with their current ones—much more compelling. By the end of Please Save My Earth the past, present, and future all collide in an exciting, action-packed finale which is followed by a quieter epilogue.

A Strange and Mystifying Story, Volumes 2-3 by Tsuta Suzuki. The first volume of A Strange and Mystifying Story felt a lot like a one-shot, but it ended up growing into a seven volume series. Unfortunately, only the first three volumes have been licensed in English so far. Personally, I’d love to see more. I enjoy the manga’s supernatural elements and Suzuki’s artwork. The second volume fills in some of Setsu’s history and his relationship with Aki. Much of the third volume focuses on the developing relationship between Tetsu and Kei (who stole the show in the first volume despite being a side character) which made me very happy. It’s the sweetest, most awkward romance that I’ve read in a while and I loved it.

Twilight of the Dark Master by Saki Okuse. I honestly don’t remember why I picked up this one-shot horror manga, though I must have had some reason. Perhaps it was because I had previously read Okuse’s other manga in English: Ghost Talker’s Daydream and Blood Sucker: Legend of Zipangu. I can’t say that I enjoyed Twilight of the Dark Master much at all. Reading it feels like being thrown into the middle of a larger, more complex story without any explanation. There might have been a coherent plot in Twilight of the Dark Master somewhere—something to do with oni, drugs, and organized crime maybe?—but I couldn’t be bothered to figure it out. Reading the author’s notes, it doesn’t seem as though Okuse thought the manga was very good either.

Toriko, Episodes 1-13 directed by Akifumi Zako. I read and enjoyed the first few volumes of the Toriko manga, but I’m only now getting around to checking out the anime adaptation. It’s pretty great. Although some vegetarians and vegans may want to proceed with caution: at its heart, this is a show about battling, killing, and eating monstrous creatures and other extreme foods. Toriko is a highly skilled and sought after Gourmet Hunter who risks his life pursuing dangerous ingredients. He’s a marvelous character—a powerful, muscular fighter with a childlike delight in food and an immense respect for life. Toriko is outrageous and a lot of fun with great, ridiculous battles; I’m enjoying it immensely.

My Week in Manga: November 21-November 27, 2011

My News and Reviews

So, I had a pretty miserable week last week. Monday I was hit with a completely debilitating headache that only showed minor improvement by Tuesday. A trip to the doctor resulted in being prescribed medication that helped tremendously with the pain, but left me feeling like crap. I couldn’t really do anything but sit around being useless. I couldn’t read (which is simply devastating for me) and I couldn’t watch anything, either. I was very, very bored in addition to being in pain. The headache still hadn’t gone away after a week. Another trip to the doctor resulted in a different set of prescriptions which look like they might actually be working. (Fingers crossed!) Which is why this week’s My Week in Manga is not only late, but rather brief, too. Assuming that the drugs work like they’re supposed to, my posts at Experiment in Manga should still be (mostly) on schedule. I’m going to do my best, anyways!

Even with all of that suckiness going on, I did manage to post two reviews last week (not that I actually remember much about doing so.) If you’re looking for a long novel to read, I have reviews for both Eiji Yoshikawa’s epic historical novel Taiko as well as Haruki Murakami’s newest novel 1Q84 for your reading pleasure.

Quick Takes

A Strange and Mystifying Story, Volume 1 by Tsuta Suzuki. An oddly appropriate boys’ love manga for me to be reading this week. Akio’s family is cursed with a painful, incurable illness. All alone, he is the last of his bloodline when a spirit charged with protecting his family appears to devour the disease. I actually really enjoyed this manga—it has a nice blend of supernatural fantasy mixed in with the plot. I also really like Suzuki’s artwork. But it’s the museum director, Akio’s boss, that really steals the show with his astoundingly good-natured open-mindedness. The first volume seems fairly self-contained, so I’m not really sure where the second volume is going to take the story, but I plan on finding out.

Toriko, Volumes 1-2 by Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro. Toriko may not be vegetarian friendly, but it’s still a lot of fun. I loved Shimabukuro’s muscle-bound character designs which don’t seem to show up in English translated manga all that much recently. It is the Gourmet Era, a time when humanity pushes the limits of exotic (and generally very dangerous in one way or another) cuisine. I’m fond of Toriko and his almost childlike delight and innocence in the food that he eats, even if it means an epic confrontation or battle with what is on the menu. I also like that the Gourmet Hunters’ powers are a natural, if fantastically over-the-top, extension of the skills they need to be successful in their work capturing and acquiring rare ingredients.