My Week in Manga: April 2-April 8, 2012

My News and Reviews

It’s the beginning of the month which means the usual couple of posts. First, the winner of the monthly manga giveaway was announced—Manga Giveaway: Cross Game Giveaway Winner. Check out the post for a list of sports and game themed manga licensed in English. I also posted the Bookshelf Overload for March. I had a pretty good month finding out of print manga on ebay. On top of these two posts, I also reviewed The Moon Over the Mountain and Other Stories, a collection of short works by Atsushi Nakajima. I really enjoyed the volume and wish more of his work was available.

An update on the Aniblog Tourney II: The final bracket for the tournament has been announced. The tournament will begin on April 15th (all of the dates can be found here.) Experiments in Manga has been seeded in the second round of the green bracket and will be facing off with either Shameful Otaku Secret! or O-New on May 1st. There are a lot of really interesting blogs in the tournament that are worth taking a look at. And if it’s your thing, make sure to vote.

Elswhere online: Over at Okazu Eriaca Friedman has a fantastic and illuminating post about the licensing, translating, and editing of manga—Invisible Layers of Manga. The 2012 Manga Readers’ Choice Award Winners have been announced as have the nominees for the Eisner Awards. Brigid Alverson of MangaBlog (among other places) is one of the Eisner jurors this year. Also, Viz has licensed the new Berserk film trilogy!

Quick Takes

Black Butler, Volumes 1-4 by Yana Toboso. Black Butler takes its time to settle in. It starts off as a rather goofy series before introducing the more serious aspects of the story. Although I am greatly amused by the comedic elements, I actually prefer the darker atmosphere. Some of the supporting characters, while initially endearing, can be somewhat annoying. The story takes place in Victorian England but includes plenty of fun anachronistic details. The attention Toboso gives to the characters’ clothing is fantastic. I also love Sebastian’s bishōnen design. I’m not completely sold on Black Butler yet, but there’s still enough to the series that interests me that I’ll probably give a few more volumes a try.

The Drops of God, Volumes 2-3 written by Tadashi Agi and illustrated by Shu Okimoto. The characters in The Drops of God all have very strong and very distinct personalities. Their utter passion and devotion to wine can be a little hard to take sometimes but I do like them as people. The series can be a rather absurd and ridiculous from time to time—wine apparently can cure all ills and fix any problem. Still, I am enjoying the books and learning quite a bit about wine in the process of reading them. One of my favorite things about the series is the art. Although there are a lot of panels which consist primarily of talking heads, the visual interpretations of the characters’ experiences drinking wine are marvelous.

Two of Hearts by Kano Miyamoto. Like the other works by Miyamoto available in English, Two of Hearts has a certain sadness to it. Haruya is an aspiring writer who has given up completing his novel and now makes his living writing for a magazine. By chance, he meets Maki, a troubled young man from difficult family circumstances. As the story progresses it becomes clear that Haruya genuinely cares for Maki but early on it almost seems like he is taking advantage of the young man. While ultimately it is a good relationship for both Haruya and Maki, which makes me happy, Miyamoto really skirts the uncomfortable with the characters and their situations. Ultimately though, I think it’s handled fairly well.

Pom Poko directed by Isao Takahata. At nearly two hours long, Pom Poko is a little too lengthy and somewhat tiresome but the film does have its moments. As a fan of yokai, I am glad that I watched it. The film features tanuki, including their infamous testicles and multi-purpose scrotum (innocently called a “pouch” in the English dub, but there’s really no question what they’re actually talking about if you’re paying attention.) Other yokai, such as kitsune, also make appearances. And the yokai parade is wonderful. In order to protect their forest from encroaching human development, the racoons (tanuki) of Tama Hills must master the art of transformation in an attempt to scare the humans away from their lands.

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