My Week in Manga: May 30-June 5, 2011

My News and Reviews

I was away for most of last week and the beginning of this week in order to attend a conference for work. (NASIG for those of you who are curious.) I had a good time in St. Louis and learned lots of useful things, but this did mean I didn’t get as much manga and anime in as I would have liked. It also means that this week’s “My Week in Manga” is a bit late. Forgive me, but I needed to do laundry and sleep.

Fortunately for me, last week was one of my lighter weeks at Experiments in Manga. I announced the winner of the Oh, Ono! manga giveaway and manged to successfully schedule May’s Bookshelf Overload to post while I was away. I also added two new resources to the Resources page: The Fandom Post and Manga Bubbles. For your online reading enjoyment, I would like to bring your attention to Manga Artifacts: Pineapple Army by Kate Dacey over on The Manga Critic; it’s a much better look at the manga than my quick take below provides.

Quick Takes

King of RPGs, Volume 2 written by Jason Thompson and illustrated by Victor Hao. The second volume of King of RPGs was one of my most anticipated releases for 2011. I loved the first volume so it didn’t come as much of a surprise to me that I loved the second as well. Most of the plot centers on MMORPGs and tabletop RPGs in this volume but there are still plenty of references other geek cultures, too. My favorite parts are when the role-playing insanity bleeds over into reality. Shesh, more than ever, is the main focus of this volume. However, new characters are also introduced, including the noble gold farmer Baijin Gangshi who I fairly adored. I really hope to see more volumes of King of RPGs; it’s a riot.

Pineapple Army written by Kazuya Kudo and illustrated by Naoki Urasawa. I primarily picked up Pineapple Army because of Naoki Urasawa’s involvement with the manga. In Japan, the series ran for eight volumes. You wouldn’t know this by looking at Viz’s single volume edition, though—it collects ten chapters selected from throughout the original series. They mostly stand alone, though I suspect there may be some recurring characters that I would have liked to get to know better. I’d like get to know the protagonist Jed Goshi better, too. I happened to particularly like his beefy character design and found his personality to be appealing as well. It will probably never happen, but I wouldn’t mind the rest of this series available in English.

Pretty Face, Volumes 1-6 by Yasuhiro Kano. It’s a ridiculous premise—Masashi Rando, high school karate champion, is nearly killed in a terrible bus accident. In the process of recovery, his plastic surgeon gives him the face of the girl he has a crush on since he only had her photo as a reference. Or something like that. Oh! And his crush just happens to have a missing twin sister, so Rando takes her place. Perhaps not too surprisingly, there is plenty of fan service, especially in the first few volumes although it does carry through the entire series. Narrative-wise, Pretty Face is very episodic and somewhat directionless, but there were a few moments here and there that made me genuinely laugh out loud.

Cross Game, Episodes 17-22 directed by Osamu Sekita. So, I still don’t really care about baseball all that much, but I do care about the characters of Cross Game tremendously. And since they care about baseball, I find myself at least interested in what is happening and cheer them on in their efforts. I’ve been very happy with how the characters are developing. I’m particularly fond of Azuma who turns out to be much more complicated person than he initially appeared. I’m also interested in seeing where the newer characters, like Mizuki and Azuma’s older brother, go. I’ll definitely be watching more of this series even if I don’t end up picking up more of Adachi’s original manga.

My Week in Manga: May 16-May 22, 2011

My News and Reviews

I’m still being a slacker, so this section is going to be rather brief again. I promise to try to do a little better next week and find some interesting stuff for you all. Last week I showed a little love for Brigid Alverson’s MangaBlog as part of my Discovering Manga feature. I also posted a review of Issui Ogawa’s The Lord of the Sands of Time, one of Haikasoru’s debut titles from way back when (okay, 2009 really wasn’t that long ago…) I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of Ogawa’s works.

The Cross Game Manga Moveable Feast is already off to a great start so keep an eye on the index page over at The Panelists as it gets updated. As for me, I have a quick look at the first third or so of the anime adaptation and later this week I’ll be posting a review of the first Cross Game volume published by Viz (equivalent to the first three collected volumes in Japan.)

Quick Takes

Fujoshi Rumi, Volumes 2-3 by Natsumi Konjoh. I really hope we get more volumes of this series because I’m enjoying it tremendously. Abe has fallen for Rumi and hard, but the poor guy just doesn’t get otaku. He’s willing to learn, but he doesn’t always get it right and so their developing relationship is bumpy. I can’t help but root for him, though. Rumi is just starting to figure out she likes him. Chiba is having a bit more luck in his own romantic pursuits, but not by much. Both he and Matsui are incredibly stubborn. There are a ton of translations notes included to help readers keep track of all the pop culture references made, but even if you don’t take time to read them all the series is still funny.

King of RPGs, Volume 1 written by Jason Thompson and illustrated by Victor Hao. The second volume of King of RPGs is set for release this week, so I figured it was a good time reread the first volume. As a gamer, I really love this series and find it hilarious. A lot of the humor depends on at least a passing knowledge of RPGs and various other types of gaming and nerd culture. There are plenty of in-jokes and references, too, so someone not familiar with gaming will probably be lost. All sorts of nerdiness is displayed in King of RPGs: MMORPGs, table top RPGs, fantasy football, boardgames, collectible card games, miniatures, otaku, live action role playing, cosplay, Renaissance festivals, and more. And some of the characters, really, really get into what they’re playing.

Tokyo Babylon, Volumes 1-7 by CLAMP. I know quite a few people who love Tokyo Babylon, but I must admit I wasn’t particularly impressed by the early volumes. However, I did like the final few as things turn really dark and become less episodic. The series it’s actually pretty depressing; Subaru is never as successful as he would like to be and is very sensitive to those around him. And then there’s Seishirō, who proves to be problematic for him for a number of reasons. I liked CLAMP’s artwork in this manga which uses a lot of black space. I never quite got Hokuto’s sense of fashion, but I did like some of the outfits. Subaru and Seishirō’s story is apparently continued as part of CLAMP’s X series, which I haven’t read yet.

Azumi directed by Ryuhei Kitamura. Apparently the film is loosely based on Yū Koyama’s manga series Azumi, a fact I wasn’t aware of while watching the movie. Azumi is a member of group of orphans raised to be highly skilled assassians. Their mission is help secure the dominance of the Tokugawa clan by killing opposing leaders. However, the more Azumi becomes involved, the more she questions what they are doing. It’s an entertaining if somewhat mediocre film. The special effects are only okay and the choreography a bit awkward at times, although the huge battle towards the end of the film is pretty great. An interesting note on the language: Azumi speaks using a masculine form of Japanese.

Cross Game, Episodes 1-16 directed by Osamu Sekita. I’m not a huge sports fan and so I wasn’t sure if I would like the Cross Game anime or not. But from reading the manga, I did know that I at least liked the characters. So far, I find the anime a little slow going for my own personal taste, but I still enjoyed watching it and will probably watch more. The slower pacing works for the manga, but doesn’t transfer over to the adaptation quite as well. Or maybe it’s just that I can read through the baseball games (which don’t really interest me) more quickly than I can watch them. The anime does change up some things from the original, keeping it interesting even if you have read the manga.