My Week in Manga: March 28-April 3, 2016

My News and Reviews

A couple of different things were posted at Experiments in Manga last week. For starters, since it’s the end of one month and the beginning of another, it’s time for another manga giveaway! There’s still an opportunity to enter for chance to win the first omnibus of Akiko Higashimura’s wonderful Princess Jellyfish. I also posted an in-depth review last week of The Autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa, which is an engaging work in addition to being surprisingly entertaining and humorous. Fukuzawa helped to shape modern-day Japan; I was inspired to pick up his autobiography after reading Minae Mizumura’s The Fall of Language in the Age of English.

Quite a few Kickstarter projects have caught my attention over the last week or so. I’m especially excited to see that Sparkler Monthly has launched a campaign to release the first volume of Jenn Doyle’s Knights-Errant in print. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund launched a project for She Changed Comics, a book that will profile women comics creators from around the world, including Moto Hagio, Machiko Hasegawa, Rumiko Takahashi, the Year 24 Group, and others. There’s an illustration zine inspired by and dedicated to gay manga called Burl & Fur that looks like it will be amazing. As promised, Digital Manga’s most recent classic manga Kickstarter is for a non-Tezuka title—Izumi Matsumoto’s Kimagure Orange Road. Finally, I wanted to take the opportunity to mention the campaign for the North American release of the Skip Beat! anime again. The series needs financial support in order to be dubbed, which is a requirement by the licensor for its release.

Quick Takes

CaramelCaramel by Puku Okuyama. The cover art of Caramel makes it look like a cute and sweet boys’ love one-shot, and at times that’s exactly what it is, but there’s enough about the story and the leads’ relationship that’s dubious and questionable that overall I can’t say that I really enjoyed it all that much. Part of the point of Caramel is the contrast between the two main characters, Roku and Iori, each of whom is childish in his own way. Roku is a successful businessman who is afraid of the dark and picky about his food. Iori has just moved to Tokyo to begin his first year of university, and being younger has had less experience in life and love. I think most of my annoyance with Caramel stems from Roku—I have little patience for and a difficult time sympathizing with adults who exhibit such an astounding lack of self-responsibility, not to mention that he’s an utter creep at first. I have no idea how he even survived before Iori became his roommate and eventual lover. Iori, on the other hand, I found to be much more likeable. He’s the oldest of four siblings and so has developed into a very responsible young adult. Iori also loves to cook and I liked how food was incorporated into Caramel.

Livingstone, Volume 1Livingstone, Volume 1-2 written by Tomohiro Maekawa and illustrated by Jinsei Kataoka. I’m not especially familiar with Maekawa, a respected playwright and director, but I recognized Kataoka as one of the creators of the manga series Deadman Wonderland. One of Maekawa’s short plays provides the inspiration for Livingstone, a largely episodic manga exploring themes of life, death, and the human soul. The series follows Sakurai and Amano who help to collect and preserve psycholiths, stones that are the physical manifestations of human souls after they have left their respective bodies. Though at this point frustratingly incomplete, I find the worldbuilding in Livingstone to be one of the most fascinating aspects of the manga, especially in regards to souls. There are a limited number of souls and the world is beginning to run out so that some people, like Amano, are born without them, which is one reason that the work of psycholith collectors is so important. Additionally, souls that are irrevocably damaged at the end of a person’s life will shatter, leaving behind psychic stains that will continue to contaminate others unless the cycle can be stopped.

Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer, Omnibus 3Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer, Omnibuses 3-4 (equivalent to Volumes 5-8) by Satoshi Mizukami. I’m definitely behind in reading Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer but I do enjoy the manga. It’s a rather peculiar series with oddball characters who are in the position to either save the world or destroy it—the line between heros and villains can be very thin. Most of the characters have something dark or tragic about their pasts, so their feelings about the world and the other people in it are understandably conflicted. Tragedy isn’t limited to their pasts, either. These two omnibuses include multiple deaths that have great impact, as well as other moments of pain and devastation. But the characters also grow and overcome many of these challenges, becoming stronger mentally and emotionally as well as physically. There are betrayals, both real and imagined, as well as love confessions as friendships and relationships change, some characters drifting apart while others are realizing that people might not be so bad after all. All of this interpersonal drama plays out against the backdrop of a literal battle against monsters as the series ramps up the danger in preparation for its finale.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.


  1. Not much in the way of Manga for me this week Winter Anime season is wrapping up and Spring is starting few chestnuts in Spring Bungo Stray Dogs (starts this Wednsday for Crunchyroll Premium Members I’ll wait a week since I’m a free member).

    About the super-powered versions of Japanese and World Novelists ranging from Ryūnosuke Akutagawa and Osamu Dazai to Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Dan Brown.

    Also Joker Game about a black-ops spy force and its members on the eve of WWII. Winter best things I saw were Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu about Rakugo performers in post WW II Japan and the 70s and 60s. Konosuba about a group of comicly inept adventures in a fantisy kingdom was amuseing.

    Last week was also when μ’s retired so I wrote a rather lengthy post on what Love Live meant to me so I’ve at least got Love Live Sunshine to look forward to in the Summer. Say I Love You got nominated for Best Shojo in the 40th Annual Kodansha Manga Awards ( Wich though I no longer collect it (lack of funds) this made me really happy.

    I hemmed and hawed about suppourting the Kimagure Orange Road Kickstarter but at $900 to potentialy get every volume too rich for my blood so I regretfuly pass. I’d still dearly love for DMP to Kickstarter a Classic Shoujo drive get some Glass Mask or Honey Honey in my life.

    Also odlly me being my cynical pessmistic self gained me the following of The Skip Beat Kick Starter’s twitter account over on Twitter thanks to a comment The Shoujo Bestseller Drought over at TheOASG go figure.

    • Ash Brown says

      I’ve sadly fallen behind on my anime viewing, though I hope to find time to watch something new (or at least new to me) soon. I’m not familiar with Bungo Stray Dogs, but super-powered novelists sounds highly entertaining. And I’ve heard great things about Shōwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjū which I’d really like to check out.

      I’ve becoming increasingly skeptical of and frustrated with DMP’s use of Kickstarter to fund projects and am losing confidence in the company as a publisher. Which is a shame because many if not most of individuals working there are great people who really care about what they’re doing and the manga they’re releasing.

      • Well you write semi-professionally and your focus is primarily on Manga so wouldn’t expect you to catch up on Anime also ANN just did an Anime spotlight on Bungo Stray Dogs Link in parenthesis ( As far as the DMP Kickstarter thing goes it is overused. Also, an odd bit of news looks like Project H is going to try and put out Kodomo No JIkan (

        I’m happy as a fan because Loli fanservice aside it tells a good story but good thing I’m CBLDF member though (LOL).

        • Ash Brown says

          I had heard rumors that Digital Manga/Project H had licensed Kodomo no Jikan, but it’s good to know that it’s been publicly confirmed. It will be interesting to see how it goes over, since there was such a strong negative reaction the first time a publisher tried to release it. I believe the plan is to crowdfund the series; I do wonder if DMP will be able to use Kickstarter or not due to the ecchi content. Granted, the the campaign for Yamatogawa’s Vanilla Essence was approved, so maybe that’s not a worry.

          • Well, Vanilla Essence had characters that were for all intents and purposes 18. Kodomo No Jikan has an Elementary School girl propositioning her teacher in the first few chapters.

            Not saying it couldn’t ever get done but online crowdfunding seems like the only way you get it out because brick and mortar stores don’t want to touch it but hay I’d fund it.

  2. I have been loving reading Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer. The characters are great and the whole atmosphere combing despair is entertaining. I heard it hasn’t been selling well though sadly.

    • Ash Brown says

      Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer is one of those series that I probably wouldn’t have ever gotten around to reading if were it not for the tremendous amount of word-of-mouth surrounding it. I’ve also heard that it hasn’t been selling particularly well, which is really too bad. The series was a pleasant surprise for me; I really like its weirdness, and it manages to have a good deal of heart, too.

      • Should have checked what I wrote before posting. What I meant to say was
        that I liked the atmosphere of despair and fun combined. People are dying but there is such a nice sense of hope and camaraderie even as some are planning betrayals and the body count increases. Its an oddly deep series masked as a typical shonen. Definitely one of my favorites of recent years.

        • Ash Brown says

          “An oddly deep series masked as a typical shonen”—I completely agree! Now I just need to get my hands on that final omnibus. :)

Speak Your Mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.