Manga Giveaway: Yumi Tamura Giveaway Winner

Chicago, Volume 1: The Book of SelfChicago, Volume 2: The Book of JusticeAnd the winner of the Yumi Tamura Giveaway is… Olivia!

As the winner, Olivia will be receiving a complete set of Yumi Tamura’s shoujo action thriller Chicago as published by Viz Media back in the day. I came across Chicago because Tamura was also the creator of Basara, a series that I love. And so for this giveaway, I asked that participants tell me about the mangaka whose work they always make a point to read. Check out the giveaway comments for the detailed responses, and check out below for the list of mangaka mentioned in addition to a selection of their works that are available in English!

The Angel of Elhamburg
Utahime: The Songstress

Moyoco Anno
In Clothes Called Fat
Sakuran: Blossoms Wild
Sugar Sugar Rune

Cardcaptor Sakura

Usamaru Furuya
Genkaku Picasso
Lychee Light Club
No Longer Human

Kyoko Hikawa
From Far Away

Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima
Lone Wolf & Cub
Path of the Assassin
Samurai Executioner

Mitsukazu Mihara
The Embalmer
IC in a Sunflower

Setona Mizushiro
After School Nightmare
Black Rose Alice

Jun Mochizuki
Pandora Hearts

Kaoru Mori
Anything and Something
Bride’s Story

Takeshi Obata
All You Need Is Kill
Death Note
Hikaru no Go

Yayoi Ogawa
Tramps Like Us

Atsushi Ohkubo
B. Ichi
Soul Eater
Soul Eater Not!

Eiji Otsuka
The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service

Yumi Tamura
Wild Com.

Arina Tanemura
Idol Dreams
Phantom Thief Jeanne
Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura

Jiro Taniguchi
A Distant Neighborhood
The Summit of the Gods
The Walking Man

Osamu Tezuka
Message to Adolf

Yana Toboso
Black Butler
Rust Blaster

Naoki Urasawa
Master Keaton

Yu Yagami
Go West!
Hikkatsu!: Strike a Blow to Vivify
Those Who Hunt Elves

Fumi Yoshinaga
Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy!
Ôoku: The Inner Chambers
What Did You Eat Yesterday?

For the sake of space, I’ve limited the lists of works to up to three releases each in English, but many of the creators have other manga available in translation, too. And hopefully we’ll continue to see more of all of these mangaka! Thank you to everyone who took the time to participate in the giveaway and share some great mangaka with me. Hope to see you all again for the next giveaway!

Manga Giveaway: Yumi Tamura Giveaway

It’s almost the end of the month which means it’s yet again time for another giveaway at Experiments in Manga. This month I’m offering up an entire series: Yumi Tamura’s two-volume shoujo action thriller Chicago! The series was released in English by Viz Media a decade or so ago, but is now out of print. This month’s giveaway will give you a chance to snag a complete set of the manga. And, as always, the giveaway is open worldwide!

Chicago, Volume 1: The Book of SelfChicago, Volume 2: The Book of Justice

Chicago probably wouldn’t have come across my radar if it wasn’t for the fact that it was created by Yumi Tamura. Tamura is also the mangaka of Basara, a series that I absolutely love. Back when I was trying to track down some of the harder-to-find print volumes of Basara (the print edition is going out of print, but a digital version is now available), I discovered that Tamura’s Chicago and Wild Com. had also been translated. And so, simply because I enjoyed Tamura’s work so much on Basara, I picked them up. There are other mangaka whose work I will read no matter what it is, too, including but certainly not limited to Moyoco Anno, Usamaru Furuya, Fumi Yoshinaga, and Takeshi Obata. It can be interesting to see both the similarities and differences among the manga created by the same person; some mangaka have an incredible range.

So, you may be wondering, how can you win Yumi Tamura’s Chicago?

1) Are there any mangaka whose work you enjoy so much that you make a point to read anything they create? If so, tell me a little about them and what you like about their manga in the comments below. (If not, you can simply mention that.)
2) If you’re on Twitter, you can earn a bonus entry by tweeting, or retweeting, about the contest. Make sure to include a link to this post and @PhoenixTerran (that’s me).

There you go! It’s as easy as that. You all have one week to submit comments and each person can earn up to two entries for this giveaway. If you have trouble with the comment form, or if you would prefer, entries can also be sent directly to me at phoenixterran(at)gmail(dot)com. I will then post the comments here in your name. The giveaway winner will be randomly selected and announced on September 2, 2015. Good luck to you all!

VERY IMPORTANT: Include some way that I can contact you. This can be an e-mail address in the comment form, a link to your website, Twitter username, or whatever. If I can’t figure out how to get a hold of you and you win, I’ll just draw another name.

Contest winner announced–Manga Giveaway: Yumi Tamura Giveaway Winner

My Week in Manga: January 6-January 12, 2014

My News and Reviews

Two reviews were posted at Experiments in Manga last week! The honor of the first in-depth manga review of the month (and of the year, for that matter) goes to Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki’s Oishinbo, A la Carte: Fish, Sushi & Sashimi. I love food, I love manga, and so I love Oishinbo, too. I happen to really like fish and sushi as well, so I particularly enjoyed this volume. I also posted a review for Edogawa Rampo’s mystery adventure The Fiend with Twenty Faces which is the first novel in his series The Boy Detectives. I’ve read some of his stories and essays written for adults, but this was his first work for younger audiences that I read. It’s a lot of fun.

As for news and other interesting things found online: The English translation of Toh EnJoe’s Self-Reference Engine (one of my most notable release of 2013) has been nominated for a Philip K. Dick Award. The University of Michigan will be hosting an international conference on Natsume Sōseki from April 18 through April 20. (If you happen to be in Michigan around then, it’s be free and open to the public!) After months of no news, it looks like those who supported the Kickstarter for Osamu Tezuka’s The Crater may actually receive their rewards. And finally, Joe McCulloch takes a look at some of Suehiro Maruo’s most recent work over at The Comics Journal. Now if only more of his manga would be licensed in English!

Quick Takes

Basara, Volume 6Basara, Volumes 6-10 by Yumi Tamura. I love this series so much! It really is a shame that Basara is going out-of-print in English, but at least Viz has begun to release it digitally as well. The story is epic and engaging and the characters are complex and multi-layered. These particular volumes of Basara include the Okinawa story arc, which I especially enjoyed. It’s very interesting to see how Tamura is using events and politics from throughout Japan’s history to inform her post-apocalyptic world and culture. There are definite echos from the Warring States period, World War Two, and so on. Just as it was historically, in Basara Okinawa is a separate country from Japan that maintains its own traditions, relies heavily on trade, is largely at the mercy of foreign military influence, and is beset by natural disasters. Also, it’s the homeland of karate, which plays a part in some of the battles. (As a karateka myself, I couldn’t help but appreciate this.) I’m really looking forward to reading more of the series.

Entangled CircumstancesEntangled Circumstances by Kikuko Kikuya. I ended up enjoying Entangled Circumstances much more than I thought I would. I found the first chapter or so to actually be a little boring, but by the end of the volume Entangled Circumstances had managed to turn itself into a rather funny, and even a little sweet, boys’ love story. Actually, bonus chapters after the main story were the funniest and probably the favorite part of the manga for me because of that. Shibui and Himeko were once college classmates, but now they work at the same advertising agency. Himeko’s been in love with Shibui for a while now, but after a past awkward love confession, things have been strained between the two men. Often they seem to act like high schoolers rather than full-grown adults, so it’s difficult to take Entangled Circumstances completely seriously. It’s a lighthearted and fluffy sort of manga. The manga is nothing extraordinary, and I don’t know that I will necessarily need to read it again, but it was quite enjoyable.

ZooZoo by Andy MacDonald. I haven’t read the original novel Zoo, a science fiction thriller written by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge, but MacDonald’s graphic novel adaptation somehow came into my possession, so I figured I’d give it a try. Since I haven’t read the original, I can’t definitively say how the graphic novel works as an adaptation, but I get the impression that MacDonald has been very faithful to the source material. The Zoo graphic novel can be somewhat text-heavy and some of the plot lines are a little compressed (though not exactly rushed) but I was never confused as to what was going on. Even so, I may have rolled my eyes a bit at the plot’s development and some of the rather predictable “twists.” Unfortunately, Zoo just doesn’t have that original or great of a story to begin with and I had a difficult time suspending my incredulity. The ending in particular was rather disappointing. Zoo starts out as a fairly action-packed, and bloody, doomsday scenario, but its heavy-handed moral can be a bit much.

MeganebuMeganebu! directed by Soubi Yamamoto. I already knew that I enjoyed Yamamoto’s visual style from her previous work and so I wasn’t disappointed by Meganebu!‘s brightly colored and slightly eccentric animation. Even so, it took a few episodes for the series to really grow on me. There’s not really much of a plot to Meganebu!. There are the members of the Glasses Club and their continuing efforts to create a pair of glasses with X-Ray vision (with some very unexpected and explosive results) but mostly the series just follows their daily lives and the trouble they all get into. Once I got over the fact that Meganebu! is fairly pointless, I could sit back and enjoy its peculiar sense of fun. As a glasses wearer myself, I could particularly appreciate all of the humor surrounding eyeglasses. To the members of the Glasses Club, glasses are more than just a fashion accessory. Neither are they simply used to correct vision. Glasses have the power to change the world. Meganebu! is an absurd anime, but I’ll admit to enjoying it.

Library Love, Part 16

Support manga, support your library!

Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Basara, Volumes 1-5 by Yumi Tamura. After reading only the first five volumes of Basara, I am already convinced that I want to own the entire series. Unfortunately, parts of it are tragically out of print. What’s also unfortunate? My library only has the first five volumes. Basara might be difficult to find but I think it’s worth tracking down. Set in a post-apocalyptic Japan, Basara follows a young woman named Sarasa. She hides the fact that her twin brother Tatara, the “child of destiny” prophesied to save their people from tyrannical imperial rule, has died by taking his place. So far, Basara is a quickly paced series featuring complex characters (including kick-ass women) and a fair amount of violence and tragedy for good measure.

Kaze Hikaru, Volumes 1-3 by Taeko Watanabe. I enjoy a good period manga and I’ve recently developed a particular interest in the Shinsengumi, so it was about time I gave Kaze Hikaru a try. (Plus, it has cross-dressing!) The series was Watanabe’s first foray into historical manga and she put a ton of research and reference work into the story and art. Kaze Hikaru follows Tominaga Sei, a young woman who has disguised herself as a boy in order to join the Mibu-Roshi which will later become the Shinsengumi. What she lacks in skill she makes up for in enthusiasm; for personal reasons, she is determined to become a great swordsman. Like all of the Shinsengumi manga that I’ve read, there are a lot of characters to keep track of in Kaze Hikaru. But I am enjoying Watanabe’s take on the era.

Nana, Volumes 13-15 by Ai Yazawa. I am still absolutely loving this series. (In fact, I finally caved and purchased an entire set. It’s just that good.) The characters and their relationships continue to grow and evolve as the series progresses. Some of them have even closer connections than I initially realized—the lives of the members of Trapnest and the Black Stones all intertwine and have been for quite some time now. Trust issues and jealousy show just how tenuous a relationship can be even when people are deeply in love. Since the beginning the narration of Nana has been somewhat ominous, implying some sort of impending tragic event without yet revealing what has happened. At this point, I’m starting to really worry.

Saturn Apartments, Volumes 3-6 by Hisae Iwaoka. It’s been a while since I’ve read any Saturn Apartments; I had forgotten how much I enjoy this quieter science fiction slice-of-life tale. At first the series seems to be fairly episodic, but as the manga develops an over-arching plot is established. Mitsu continues his training as a window washer of the ring system—a dangerous job, but one that he has come to love. Through his work the likable young man has made many connections and friends. At the same time, the tension between the working class of the lower levels and the upper class residents continues to increase. The sixth volume of Saturn Apartments is particularly excellent. I’m looking forward to seeing how Iwaoka brings everything to a close.

Chicago, Volume 2: The Book of Justice

Creator: Yumi Tamura
U.S. publisher: Viz Media
ISBN: 9781569318294
Released: May 2003
Original release: 2001

As part of the Yumi Tamura Manga Moveable Feast, I decided to take a look at the first of her works to be released in English—a short, two-volume series called Chicago. The second volume of Chicago, The Book of Justice, was initially serialized by Viz Media between 2002 and 2003 in its monthly shoujo manga magazine Animerica Extra and was subsequently released as a trade collection later in 2003. The volume was first published in Japan in 2001. Tamura is probably best known for her series Basara; I have seen almost nothing written about Chicago despite the work being her first official introduction to English-reading audiences. The two volumes of the series are now also out of print in English. I read the first volume of Chicago, The Book of Self and was intrigued enough by it to track down the second volume as well.

Operating out of a bar called Chicago in south Shinjuku is a privately organized team of agents who take on rescue missions that the police won’t or are afraid to touch. Originally Rei and Uozumi were a part of the Self-Defense Force’s Rescue Squad Four, a rescue team that was wiped out after the Great Tokyo Earthquake. The only survivors of the squad, Rei and Uozumi have been recruited by Chicago, joining the reserved but talented gunman Shin and Zion, a pilot who seems happier making gyoza than he does flying. The members of Chicago’s rescue squad might need to work a bit on their teamwork, but there is no denying that they are all very good at what they do. As the team takes on more rescue missions a troubling pattern emerges: they all appear to somehow be connected to the demise of Squad Four and Rei and Uozumi’s pasts. Rei and Uozumi are determined to uncover the truth, but digging any deeper may very well end up costing more than just their lives.

Much like the first volume of Chicago, The Book of Justice is filled with outrageous but entertaining and engaging action sequences as the team members carry out their rescue missions. It’s great fun even when it’s not particularly believable. What is more believable are the characters themselves and their complicated and frequently antagonistic relationships with one another. I enjoyed watching them interact (and get on each other’s nerves) a great deal. Sadly, since not much is revealed about Shin other than a few ominous comments and implications, he largely remains a mysterious, handsome stranger. However, The Book of Justice does reveal more of Rei and Uozumi’s history, including how they met and came to work together and why they’re so close. Even Mika, Uozumi’s boyfriend, is given a chance to briefly take center stage in The Book of Justice.

Because Chicago has so much going for it—an intriguing mystery, great action scenes, interesting character dynamics—it’s particularly disappointing and frustrating that Tamura ended the series just as things were pulling together so nicely. The second volume of Chicago is much more even and focused than the first; Tamura seemed to be hitting her groove with the story and characters. Unlike in the first volume, all of the character and plot elements serve a distinct purpose and the more awkward attempts at humor are missing. Tamura ties up most of the major plot points in The Book of Justice, but the series is still brought to an abrupt and rushed close. She assures readers that Chicago wasn’t cancelled—she just felt that it was time to move on, which I find almost worse. It’s a shame Tamura decided to end the series after only two volumes. Chicago had great potential and I would have liked to have seen more.