My Week in Manga: December 10-December 16, 2012

My News and Reviews

The end of the month and the end of the year seem to be approaching very quickly. But even with the chaos which accompanies that, I posted two in-depth reviews last week. First up was my review for The Twelve Kingdoms, Volume 2: Sea of Wind by Fuyumi Ono. I’m really enjoying the series; I’ll definitely be reading (and reviewing) the rest of the novels that were translated into English before Tokyopop’s implosion. I also reviewed Hiroaki Samura’s Blade of the Immortal, Volume 16: Shortcut. My Blade of the Immortal review project is steadily progressing. At the rate the series is being published in English, I should be caught up in less than a year. Next week, beginning on December 26, is this month’s Manga Moveable Feast. This Feast will be focusing on Hikaru no Go and other game manga. I have a couple of things in mind that I’m working on, including a review of the first volume of Hikaru no Go. Elsewhere online, Comics Alliance has a fabulous introduction to the work of Shotaro Ishinomori—Shotaro Ishinomori Is A Big Deal: An Action-Packed Primer For New Readers.

Quick Takes

Blood Sucker: Legend of Zipangu, Volumes 5-7 written by Saki Okuse and illustrated by Aki Shimizu. I enjoyed the first four volumes of Blood Sucker and so was looking forward to reading more. The long, multi-volume flashback finally comes to an end with volume five. I’ll admit, I found the earlier volumes more compelling. It seems like important plot points and developments were either forgotten or lost along the way. But I still like Blood Sucker. It’s quickly paced and packed with gory action. The artwork is good, too, but occasionally difficult to follow during fights. Only seven of the twelve volumes of Blood Sucker were published in English, but it’s still probably worth tracking down for fans of vampires or action-horror.

Fist of the Blue Sky, Volumes 1-4 written by Nobuhiko Horie and illustrated by Tetsuo Hara. Fist of the Blue Sky is a prequel to Fist of the North Star. The protagonist, Kenshiro Kasumi, is the uncle and namesake of Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star. The two series are vaguely similar in tone with over-the-top scenarios, gang warfare, and fantastical martial arts, except that Fist of the Blue Sky largely takes place in Shanghai in the 1930s instead of in a post-apocalyptic world. Kenshiro has a sort of Indian Jones vibe going on at the beginning, but that seems to be quickly left behind as the series progresses. Fist of the Blue Sky ended in Japan with twenty-two volumes, four of which were released in English before Raijin folded.

Please Save My Earth, Volumes 1-7 by Saki Hiwatari. So far, I’m loving Please Save My Earth, the shoujo science fiction epic. Seven students in Japan discover that they are the reincarnations of seven alien researchers who died on the moon. This might seem like a silly premise for a story, but the manga is actually very engrossing. At first the students are fascinated and excited about their shared history, but slowly the guilt, memories, and emotions from their past lives begin to intrude upon their current lives, causing all sorts of difficulties for them. Sometime, the results are tragic. The artwork is a little rough at first, but steadily improves. I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Seven Days: Friday-Sunday written by Venio Tachibana and illustrated by Rihito Takarai. Seven Days is an absolutely beautiful story; I enjoyed it immensely. Because I loved the manga so much, a part of me wishes that there was more—it’s only two volumes long—but another part of me is completely satisfied. Seven Days is a fairly quiet and somewhat melancholy manga. In the first volume, Shino asked Seryou out almost accidentally. It was a joke and he certainly didn’t expect him to say yes. They’re only guaranteed to date for one week, and now that that one week is drawing to a close, both of them are conflicted. They’ve gotten to know each other better and neither one of them wants their relationship to end, but it can’t continue on like it has been, either.

Black Lagoon, Episodes 1-12 directed by Sunao Katabuchi. I was late to the Black Lagoon anime party and so missed out on the series’ initial release, which is why I’m so glad that both seasons are now available on DVD again. At this point, I think that I still slightly prefer the manga, but the anime adaptation is great. I was particularly impressed by the quality of the animation and sound design. Black Lagoon is a lot of fun, with violent and foul-mouthed protagonists, plenty of explosions and gun battles, and a dark sense of humor. I don’t find it to be particularly compelling as a story, but it is highly entertaining. I’m really enjoying watching the series.

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  1. Of all of these, ‘Please Save My Earth’ will likely be higher on my list. I am strongly Sci-Fi inclined.

    Perhaps you could point me to a post you have written regarding “Tokyopop’s Implosion’? I don’t know anything about it. Are they out of production now?

    All I do know is, Jen Quick visited the Comicon here 2 years in a row and I collected signed versions of prints from her manga. I have six on my wall and two I gave away. I know she was at Tokyopop at that time, maybe 2007-8. I never did read her manga though, I just fell in love with the art.

    • I’m really enjoying Please Save My Earth. The series was fairly influential in Japan. Unfortunately, some of the volumes are getting hard to find in English. If you enjoy science fiction, I’d also recommend Keiko Takemiya’s To Terra… which was published by Vertical. It gets off to a bit of a bumpy start, but turns quickly into a fantastic space opera. I personally love Takemiya’s work. It’s a shorter series, too, only three volumes and all currently in print.

      I haven’t written a specific post devoted to Tokyopop, although I’ve mentioned it in passing before (like I did here.) Tokyopop closed its North American publishing branch in May 2011. Right now, Tokyopop is sort of, kind of back in business with a print-on-demand program coordinated by Right Stuf for a few of their titles. Tokyopop has a panel scheduled for Anime Los Angeles in January, so there should be more news then.

  2. I’ll have to check out the sci fi you mention here. You know, I don’t even know who all the main players are in terms of publishing in the U.S. or anywhere. I should try searching a list. I know that some of my Parasyte is split up by different publishers. Someone ‘borrowed’ a couple of them and I had to replace them. YIKES! One of them cost $35.00 for the 2009 version I wanted. I wasn’t pleased.
    Is there major coordination between the International market and the U.S. market? Does each publisher decide which series they are going to try to translate or does the Japanese rights owners advertise them as available?
    I ask a lot of questions, ey? :)

    • Ask away! I enjoy the interaction and will try do my best to answer your questions. ^_^

      Parasyte was originally published by Del Rey Manga, which no longer exists. Kodansha picked up some but not all of the series Del Rey was publishing. I believe Kodansha uses the same notes and translations that Del Rey used. Parasyte is a personal favorite, so I’m glad that Kodansha is keeping it in print. As a collector, I do like my books to match and look nice on the shelf, though…

      I unfortunately don’t know as much about the business side of manga as I would like. I think it may be a combination of U.S. publishers seeking out titles they would like to pursue and Japanese publishers pushing titles they would like to see in translation. I would expect that each company would approach licensing and translation in slightly different ways depending on their core audience and financial position. I do know that there is a lot of negotiating and politics involved in acquiring a license.

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