My Week in Manga: October 13-October 19, 2014

My News and Reviews

Only somewhat unintentionally, last week ended up being a yuri-filled week here at Experiments in Manga. My friend Jocilyn was inspired to write a guest review of Takako Shimura’s Sweet Blue Flowers, Volume 1 by Takako Shimura, which is currently only available digitally. (I’m hoping that one day the series will be available in print, but as Jocilyn points out, a few fixes may be needed for that to happen.) As for the manga review that I posted last week, I took a look at Chiho Saito’s Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Adolescence of Utena for my Year of Yuri monthly review project. Revolutionary Girl Utena is one of my absolute favorite anime series and I was quite pleased with Saito’s The Adolescence of Utena, finding it to be an incredibly compelling work in its own right. And speaking of my Year of Yuri project, I only have one more review to go! I haven’t quite decided which manga (or comic) my final review will tackle, so if you have any requests or would like to see something in particular, let me know! I also posted one other (non-yuri) review last week: Monkey Business: New Writing from Japan, Volume 4. Monkey Business is a literary journal featuring a mix of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and even a bit of manga. The stories tend to be a little strange, but that also tends to be something that I enjoy.

Elsewhere online, New York Comic Con articles are still being posted. At Publishers Weekly, Deb Aoki has a general roundup of the manga industry’s presence at NYCC. Justin of Organization Anti-Social Geniuses has a few interesting things from his time at NYCC, including why publishers and fans think it’s worth it to buy manga and an interview with Gen Manga’s Robert McGuire. Vertical also posted a bit more information about the Vertical Comics imprint. Unrelated to NYCC but still interesting reading, at Contemporary Japanese Literature Kathryn Hemmann has an excellent critique of Helen McCarthy’s A Brief History of Manga, specifically addressing the male-centric focus of the work. (I’ve had the volume on my “to be read” pile since its release; I should really get around to actually reading it one of these days) Also, Frederick L. Schodt wrote a bit about the history of his groundbreaking work Manga! Manga!. (Exceptionally good timing, as I am just about to start reading it.) And last but not least, Digital Manga has licensed ninth and final volume of Hinako Takanaga’s The Tyrant Falls in Love! (I mistakenly thought the eighth volume was the series’ end, so I’m doubly happy for this license.)

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan, Volume 13Attack on Titan, Volume 13 by Hajime Isayama. Although I have largely been enjoying Attack on Titan since the beginning of the series, the thirteenth volume is a particularly good installment of the manga. As the series has progressed, mystery on top of mystery and twist on top of twist has been added, which is something that can only be sustained for so long. But with the thirteenth volume it feels as though some progress has actually been made with the plot and some answers are finally being given—or at least some convincing and appropriately disconcerting theories are being offered. The thirteenth volume begins with the aftermath of the Survey Corps’ rescue of Eren. The number of deaths and casualties incurred by the group is severe. Eren must come to terms with just how much ensuring his safety costs and just how much depends on him in the battles to come. The focus of Attack on Titan has shifted from confronting the Titans themselves to confronting the corruption within the government while trying to discover who or what is even behind the existence of the Titans. It’s a particularly effective development—the prospect of fighting Titans has a significantly different psychological impact than that of fighting, and even killing, humans.

A Love Song for the MiserableA Love Song for the Miserable by Yukimura. Many of the boys’ love manga released in English are about high school or middle school students, so it’s always a refreshing to encounter a story about adults. A Love Song for the Miserable is one of those stories. Asada is hoping to work in events planning while Nao is studying to become a patissier. After a chance meeting, the two of them become friends and Asada ends up acting as Nao’s taste tester, developing feelings for the other man in the process. Sadly, Asada would much rather completely ruin any chance of a relationship with Nao than risk the possibility of being rejected after opening up. Their friendship ends badly which puts them both in an awkward position three years later when Asada meets Nao again while on the job. A Love Song for the Miserable captures Asada’s personality and insecurities extremely well and the complexities of his feelings are very realistic. It’s understandable that Asada’s lack of confidence in himself and his jealousy over Nao’s success when his own career is going nowhere would interfere with him developing a stable relationship. Asada has very good reasons for being miserable, and Nao has very good reasons for being upset with him, but they might just be able to make something work.

World Trigger, Volume 1World Trigger, Volumes 1-2 by Daisuke Ashihara. In an interesting move, Viz decided to simultaneously release two volumes of World Trigger. It certainly caught my attention, so I guess the gambit was a successful one. There were several things that I liked about World Trigger. For example, I particularly appreciate that strategy and tactics come into play in the fights and that the battles aren’t all about who happens to have the greatest brute strength or power. I also liked Yuma—since he is a Neighbor his perspective is very different from that of the other characters and it shows—although I can easily see how he might get on some readers’ nerves. Other aspects of the manga didn’t work quite as well for me. Right off the bat Border is described as a mysterious organization; the general population seems oddly accepting of its presence and seems to require no further explanation as long as Border continues to fight against the Neighbors, which I found a little difficult to believe. I assume this is probably something the series will explore in the future, but as it is the lack of information is frustrating, especially when other things are over-explained. For the most part I did enjoy the first volume, but the second didn’t do much to retain my attention. Though it has its good points, World Trigger hasn’t quite managed to set itself apart from other series yet and seems a little generic so far.