My Week in Manga: February 13-February 19, 2012

My News and Reviews

Two reviews for you all this past week! I took a look at the penultimate volume of the “The Marches Episode,” The Guin Saga, Book Four Prisoner of the Lagon by Kaoru Kurimoto. The more I read of The Guin Saga, the more I like the series, so I’m sad to be getting close to the end of the portion of the series that’s available in English. I also reviewed Takako Shimura’s Wandering Son, Volume 2—my first in-depth manga review for February. I love Wandering Son very much and can’t wait for the next volume to be released by Fantagraphics.

This week is the Osamu Tezuka Manga Moveable Feast, hosted by Kate Dacey at The Manga Critic!  I’ve got a bunch of Tezuka quick takes for you here. (I was actually hoping to have more, but my folks came to visit me this weekend; I spent most of my time hanging out with them and eating good food instead of reading manga.) Later this week I’ll have reviews up for The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga by Helen McCarthy and the first volume of Tezuka’s Dororo, which happens to be a personal favorite of mine.

Quick Takes

Black Jack, Volumes 1-3 by Osamu Tezuka. Black Jack is one of Tezuka’s most beloved characters, and I have to admit I’m rather fond of the rogue doctor myself. The series also allows Tezuka to make good use of his medical background, having studied to become a doctor himself at one point. In fact, Tezuka (as a character) repeatedly appears in Black Jack as a doctor. Although there are recurring characters, each chapter of Black Jack stands alone as its own story. The tales all reveal a little bit about Black Jack and his background, but they aren’t told in chronological order which can occasionally be confusing. He can come across as a bit of a bastard at times, but a loveable one.

The Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka. The Book of Human Insects is one of Tezuka’s darker manga intended for adult audiences. Toshiko Tomura is an incredible mimic, a genius that can quickly and effectively copy and make use of the skills and talents of her targets. This has allowed her to win multiple awards in various disciplines and has propelled her into the media’s spotlight. But even with all of the attention she has gained, she remains a mystery. And despite all of her accomplishments, she seems to lack a true identity of her own. I quite enjoyed The Book of Human Insects. It’s shorter and more focused than many of Tezuka’s other adult works. I was particularly struck by Tezuka’s use of panels and page layouts in this volume.

Princess Knight, Parts 1-2 by Osamu Tezuka. Historically, Princess Knight is an important series in the development of shōjo manga. I didn’t enjoy the series as much as I was hoping or expecting to, but I still like the series quite a bit. And the lead, Sapphire, is delightful, as are many of the other characters in the cast. But, holy cow, Tezuka hardly stops to let the readers catch their breath. He introduces plot point after plot point, storyline upon storyline, before ever really resolving or thoroughly developing the events that have already been set in motion. Princess Knight is fun, but dizzying with the amount of material that Tezuka crams into the short series. Somehow though, it remains coherent.

Swallowing the Earth by Osamu Tezuka. Despite some of the weighty issues that Tezuka addresses in Swallowing the Earth—racism, economic disparity, crime, etc.—I find it difficult to take the manga seriously as a whole. Part of this is due to the goofy nature of Gohonmatsu Seki, one of the major characters. He’s a drunkard, but I do like the guy. And Swallowing the Earth is entertaining even if it is a rather strange manga. It’s an interesting mix of seriousness and silliness. Tezuka does have a habit of going off on story tangents that don’t immediately appear to tie back into the main plot, but eventually they always do. Swallowing the Earth was recently brought back into print by Digital Manga through a Kickstarter project.

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  1. Works by Osamu Tezuka to me are new reading material but will want to read. All of them look great!
    Thanks again for the reviews.

    • I’m glad that you enjoy them!

      Tezuka’s Adolf was actually one of the very first manga I read. I’m thrilled that Vertical will be bringing the series back into print this year. There’s a lot of Tezuka available in English that I haven’t read yet that I’d really like to try.

      If you’re interested in Tezuka and his work, I hope you’ll check out the Osamu Tezuka Manga Moveable Feast which is going on right now! I’ll be posting a couple of Tezuka related things this week, too. ^_^

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