My Week in Manga: July 20-July 26, 2015

My News and Reviews

I posted one in-depth manga review last week, Sengoku Basara: Samurai Legends, Omnibus 2 by Yak Haibara. It’s the final omnibus in the series, collecting the third and fourth volume of Haibara’s Sengoku Basara 2 manga adaptation. I get a huge kick out of Sengoku Basara. It’s incredibly over-the-top but actually does manage to incorporate some legitimate history. Samurai Legends stands fairly well on its own, too, so no previous knowledge of the franchise is necessary. The other post last week (other than the usual My Week in Manga feature, of course) was something a little different: I was tagged in a game of manga tag, so I had an excuse to talk a bit about my collection. It was fun, so I hope others found it interesting.

Otakon was last week and there were some pretty great licenses announced. Viz Media picked up Inio Asano’s Goodnight Pun Pun as well as Takeshi Obata’s artbook Blanc et Noir and Keiko Ishihara’s The Heiress and the Chauffeur. Vertical will be releasing Riichi Ueshiba’s Mysterious Girlfriend X, Ryo Hanada’s Devil’s Line, and Kaori Ozaki’s The Gods Lie. (Ozaki is also the creator of Immortal Rain, which I love, so I’m especially excited for this one.) Kodansha Comics has plans to publish Yui Sakum’s Complex Age, Nao Emoto’s Forget Me Not, and most notably Leiji Matsumoto’s classic manga Queen Emeraldas! Also of note, Sekai Project, which primarily releases visual novels, has a new manga publishing initiative, starting with Satoru Sao, Takumi Yanai, and Daisuke Izuka’s GATE.

Elswhere online, Viz posted an interview with Canadian comics creator Faith Erin Hicks talking about many things, including her love of manga. (Also, her comics are great and well-worth checking out.) Organization Anti-Social Geniuses interviewed Kurt Hassler from Yen Press’ at Anime Expo. (All those manga recently licensed for digital release? There is a possibility we’ll be seeing them in print!) Graham Kolbeins of MASSIVE posted an impassioned but thoughtful explanation of how online piracy negatively impacts creators of gay manga. Deb Aoki has posted the audio and transcript of the gay manga panel from TCAF earlier this year. (It’s was a great panel that I only touched upon briefly in my TCAF roundup, so I’m glad it’s now available for anyone to read/listen to!) Finally, I’d like to draw everyone’s attention to an excellent post by Christopher Butcher about “othering” in the comics industry: Shifts and Living History

Quick Takes

Incredible KintaroThe Incredible Kintaro by Naomi Guren. In Japanese folktales, Kintaro is a young boy with incredible strength who, among other things, runs around in the mountains with his trusty axe wearing nothing but a bib and wrestling bears. Those legends partly inspire The Inncredible Kinato, except that the youth is now a virile bishōnen. He does still spend a lot of time with very little clothing on and his junk hanging out, though. Currently, Kintaro is working as a janitor in order to protect his childhood love and friend Makoto. After his grandfather dies, Makoto is serving as the acting principal at the private high school where he is also a student, becoming a target of all the other men who would like to take control of the institute. And since the school’s motto is “Heart, Lust, Body,” that means it’s his virginity that’s at stake. The Incredible Kintaro is an intentionally ludicrous boys’ love manga. Makoto finds himself in all sorts of dubious situations, the teachers coming up with some rather creative scenarios to win his body if not his heart. The characters are shallow, so The Incredible Kintaro must rely on its bizarre premise and sense of humor to carry the story. Readers will need a high tolerance for the absurd to really enjoy the volume.

Johnny Wander, Volume 1Johnny Wander, Volume 1-3 written by Ananth Panagariya and illustrated by Yuko Ota. I was first introduced to the online comic Johnny Wander through several of the strips devoted to the cats in the character’s lives. They were hilarious and I was hooked. Johnny Wander isn’t always about cats, though. Actually, it really isn’t about anything. Johnny Wander is a sequence of short, one-page, autobiographically-inspired comics. Although there are recurring characters, scenarios, and even the occasional running joke, most of the individual comics stand completely on their own merits. They’re brief glimpses into somewhat nerdy, after-college, daily life and they’re very funny. The cast consists of family, friends, and roommates (and cats). The setting is made up of the various cities and apartments (some of which are kind of sketchy even if they’re fondly remembered) in which they’ve lived. It’s incredibly ordinary and wonderful at the same time. Johnny Wander is entertaining, delightful, and charming, made up of the types of stories and jokes that people who know each other well will reminisce about, and tell and retell over the years. I really do love this series, and it just recently began updating again!

Noragami: Stray God, Volume 5Noragami: Stray God, Volume 5 by Adachitoka. Although it hasn’t completely disappeared, at times I miss the quirky humor that was fairly prevalent in the early volumes of Noragami. But I must say, the drama in recent installments has been increasingly intense and engaging. The fifth volume in particular is an especially excellent addition to the series, and it ends on one heck of a cliffhanger. Although not everything has yet been revealed, the fifth volume delves into the unfortunate history between Yato and Bishamonten, which turns out to be much more complicated than many realize. Importantly, with Bishamonten finding it difficult to control her numerous shinki, it seems as though the two of them are now facing a very similar situation. It didn’t end well the first time, which ignited their current feud and Bishamonten’s desire for vengeance, and it looks like they are now on the brink of another tragedy. Kugaha is manipulating the entire situation, successfully igniting a confrontation between Yato and Bishamonten in the hopes that she will die in the process. The intrigue in Noragami has reached new heights and the battles between gods has become even more perilous; I need to know what happens next.