My Week in Manga: June 24-June 30, 2013

My News and Reviews

As I’m posting this I am at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago and have been for the last several days. I was hoping to pick up an early copy of Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund while I was here, but unfortunately the books were lost in the mail and never made it to the conference center. Even though I kept very busy in Chicago, I still somehow managed to post two reviews last week. The first was for Yoshitaka Amano’s debut novel Deva Zan: The Chosen Path, which for me worked better as an artbook than as a novel. I’m a long-time fan of Amano’s artwork. I also reviewed Takako Shimura’s long-delayed Wandering Son, Volume 4 from Fantagraphics. I was sad to see some of the editing errors that made it through even after the delay (scattered typos and the description on the back cover is actually for volume five), but I am glad to finally have the book in my hands. And Shimura’s work is as wonderful as always. I should also mention that Experiments in Manga’s June manga giveaway is currently under way. There’s still time to enter for a chance to win both a copy of No. 6, Volume 1 and Attack on Titan, Volume 5!

Quick Takes

Knights of Sidonia, Volumes 2-3 by Tsutomu Nihei. While I thoroughly enjoyed the first volume of Knights of Sidonia, I wasn’t really blown away by it. Still, I was interested enough in the series to stick it out for a least a couple more volumes to see how things would develop. And now after reading the next two volumes I can honestly say I can’t wait for more of Knights of Sidonia. Nihei is pulling things together very nicely; there were some great twists and worldbuilding in these two volumes. The Gauna are marvelously creepy adversaries and the human society on the Sidonia has its own mysteries and secrets. I’m also starting to really dig the cleaner, more simplified artstyle that Nihei uses for this series.

Mardock Scramble, Volumes 2-4 by Yoshitoki Oima. When I read Tow Ubukata’s Mardock Scramble, a trilogy of strange cyberpunk-ish novels, I was convinced that a visual adaptation of the story would be fantastic. The original Mardock Scramble is a massive work, so I am actually quite surprised and impressed by how coherent Oima’s manga adaptation manages to be. She sticks to the story’s highlights, particularly focusing on the more action-oriented sequences and battles. After four volumes, the manga adaptation is about halfway through the original work. Due to the constraints of the medium, some of the elements found in the novels have been glossed over, but the major themes are still there. The world of Mardock Scramble is an odd one, but I like Oima’s interpretation of it.

Words of Devotion, Volumes 1-2 by Keiko Konno. Although they are extremely close, Tachibana and Otani aren’t always the best at communicating with each other. Some of their acquaintances joke around and suspect that they might actually be more than just friends, but the two young men can’t quite admit their own feelings aloud to each other let alone tell anyone else. Tachibana and Otani’s rocky relationship is already established before the first volume begins. They have trust and control issues, insecurities and jealousies, but there is no question that they care about each other. The second volume actually serves as a prequel, largely exploring Tachibana and Otani’s highschool days.

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