My Week in Manga: December 19-December 25, 2011

My News and Reviews

This past week I posted two in-depth reviews, neither of which were for manga. Courtesy of a review copy sent to me by Digital Manga, I reviewed Hideyuki Kikuchi’s novel Yashakiden: The Demon Princess, Volume 2. I think it improves upon the first volume and will most likely continue reading the series. The second review I posted was for Math Girls by Hiroshi Yuki. If you love math, you should really check out the novel. Math Girls also happens to be the first book to be released by the new publisher Bento Books. I’m really looking forward to seeing what else they’ll bring to English-reading audiences.

On to fun things online! SuBLime manga’s website is now up and running. They also announced a new license for their digital line (Yebisu Celebrities written by Kaoru Iwamoto and illustrated by Shinri Fuwa) and their newsletter. Lissa Pattillo of Kuriousity has thrown together two lists of manga that were published in 2011. One is organized by month and one is organized alphabetically by title. I love lists, and these are very useful, so I had to share.

The Sailor Moon Manga Moveable Feast is this week, hosted by Sean Gaffney at A Case Suitable for Treatment. For my contribution, I’ll be posting a review of the first volume of Naoko Takeuchi’s Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon later on in the week. I’ll also be giving away the first volume of the series for this month’s manga giveaway (which will start Wednesday). In preparation for next month’s Feast, which will be hosted right here at Experiments in Manga and will feature Usamaru Furuya, I’ve created a new page—Manga Moveable Feast Archives. The page was in part inspired by the MMF Archive page at The Manga Critic.

Quick Takes

Aqua Bless by Yamatogawa. Although I have read more since, Aqua Bless was my introduction to hentai manga. Fortunately for me, I managed to pick a good one. It probably goes without saying, the artwork is very explicit and the title is certainly for adults only. I’ll admit though, it’s a nice change of pace from the “cones of light” that predominate most of the other mature manga that I’ve read. I like Aqua Bless because the characters all have actual personalities and there’s a bit of story to go along with all the sex. Some of the stories are intentionally silly, ridiculous, or over the top, but most have an lighthearted, quirky charm to them. Aqua Bless is a fun volume.

F*X*T Magazine, Issues 1-2 edited by Fawn Lau. F*X*T was the first Kickstarter project that I ever supported and I am very pleased with how the magazine has turned out. Each issue is printed in beautiful full-color and contains chapters from continuing stories, a one-shot comic, an in-depth interview with an artist/creator, and a gallery of illustrations inspired by a particular theme. The individual issues are wonderful, oversized volumes on good paper which show off the artwork very nicely. Contributors to F*X*T come from all over the world. I enjoyed the first issue, but I liked the second issue even more. The magazine was planned to be quarterly, but I’ve only seen the first two issues so far. I really hope to see more volumes of F*X*T published in the future.

Seiho Boys’ High School!, Volumes 1-2 by Kaneyoshi Izumi. Unlike most other all boys schools that I’ve seen portrayed in shoujo manga, the students that attend Seiho Boys’ High School tend not to be as idealized (although they all do still happen to be rather attractive). They’re teenage guys acting like teenage guys, and yes they can be quite crass at times. I actually found it to be rather refreshing. In the first volume, the main character’s three closest friends are featured, each having a chapter or two devoted to them. The second volume is almost entirely about Maki’s backstory. The first volume is generally goofy while the second is more serious, so I’m not really sure which direction Izumi plans on taking the series.

Yawara!: A Fashionable Judo Girl, Episodes 22-40 directed by Hiroko Tokita. I’ve really been enjoying the Yawara! anime, so I’m rather sad that only the first forty episodes of the one-hundred-twenty-four episode series are available in English. But even though the boxset from AnimEigo ends abruptly at the start of a new story arc, I still think it’s worth checking out. I really enjoy the mix of martial arts, personal growth, and romantic comedy in the series. I find most of the characters to be extremely likable, even when they happen to be jerks (sometimes that’s what makes them so entertaining). The only exception is Kuniko, who annoys me to no end. She is a newer character, though; with time I suspect she might grow on me. I really do like the series.

My Week in Manga: November 14-November 20, 2011

My News and Reviews

Not much news from me today; I’ve been spending most of my time reading Haruki Murakami’s most recent novel 1Q84 in order to have a review ready for later this week. It’s a long book. Although I’ve been busy reading, I also managed to post two reviews last week. The first was my second in-depth manga review for November, Natsume Ono’s House of Five Leaves, Volume 1. The review was part of the Natsume Ono Manga Moveable Feast, which was held last week. There were some great contributions for a great creator, so you should check it out! I also reviewed Otsuichi’s Shirley Jackson Award nominated short story collection Zoo. If I wasn’t an Otsuichi fan before, I certainly count myself as one now.

Oh! There is one bit of news I want everyone to know about. Bento Books‘ first release, Math Girls by Hiroshi Yuki will be going on sale this Wednesday. Appropriately enough, it’ll be Fibonacci Day. 

Quick Takes

Gin Tama, Volumes 15-23 by Hideaki Sorachi. No matter how bad of a mood I’m in, reading Gin Tama always makes my day a little better. It’s often goofy and absurd and frequently makes me laugh out loud. Sorachi makes fun of himself, the series, current events, popular culture, and even historical figures. The number of references and nods in Gin Tama is astounding. Some are fairly obvious, but I know I’m not catching them all. The cast of characters is huge, but they all get a chance to shine. It saddens me greatly that Viz Media ended the English publication of the series with the twenty-third volume; Gin Tama has reached forty volumes and is still going in Japan. Guess I’ll just have to start watching the anime.

I’ll Give It My All…Tomorrow, Volumes 1-2 by Shunju Aono. Shizuo Oguro is a loser, a likeable loser, but a loser nonetheless. He quits his job at the age of forty and decides to become a manga creator. Except that he doesn’t really have the talent or discipline to succeed. But that doesn’t keep him from trying. I’ll Give It My All…Tomorrow is a slice of life story with short story arcs that hold together well on their own. Perhaps because of this I don’t feel compelled to rush out and read more of the series, I’m not dying to know what happens next, but I really did enjoy these first two volumes quite a bit. I’ll Give It My All…Tomorrow has a subdued, self-effacing humor to it that is wonderfully effective. Plus, Shizuo gets into a fistfight with God.

Only the Ring Finger Knows written by Satoru Kannagi and illustrated by Hotaru Odagiri. So, I may have called Only the Ring Finger Knows major plot twist long before it was actually revealed (granted, there was a fair amount of foreshadowing), but I didn’t really mind because the turn of events made me happy. Senior Yuichi Kazuki is considered by most of the high school to be a perfect man—smart, popular, handsome, and nice to everyone. Everyone, that is, except junior Wataru Fujii after it is discovered that they both wear matching rings. Wataru suddenly finds himself the subject (and source) of a number of rumors, and he’s not too happy with how Kazuki is treating him, either.

To Terra…, Volumes 1-3 by Keiko Takemiya. To Terra… won the first Seiun Award that was given for manga in 1978 and went on to win the Shogakukan Manga Award the following year. After reading the first volume, I wasn’t sure why, but after finishing the series I was convinced. If you like old school space opera, which I do, To Terra… is a great example. The manga starts out a little slow, but quickly picks up the pace once the intense struggle for survival begins between the humans and the Mu—humans with mutations that give them a range of psychic abilities for which they are feared and reviled. It’s sometimes difficult to say whose actions are right and whose are wrong; each side in the conflict has legitimate justifications.

Yawara!: A Fashionable Judo Girl, Episodes 1-21 directed by Hiroko Tokita. I am really loving this series. It’s got great writing, is genuinely funny, and has wonderful characters. Yawara! is based on the manga series by the same name, created by Naoki Urasawa—easily one of my favorite mangaka. The manga by Urasawa that has been translated into English tend to be more serious than not, so I was curious to see how one of his series with a more comedic bent would turn out. Very well, as a matter of fact. Yawara is a judo prodigy, having been trained by her grandfather since she was very young. Despite her talent, she doesn’t really care about judo and would much rather lead the life of an ordinary girl.