Discovering Manga: Organization Anti-Social Geniuses

Organization Anti-Social GeniusesIn 2010, around the same time that I started writing at Experiments in Manga, another blog also came into existence, Organization Anti-Social Genuises (OASG). Originally co-founded by Justin Stroman (the current Editor-in-Chief of OASG and an occasional guest writer at Manga Bookshelf) and the now retired LCMoran, the site is currently a team effort with a group of writers (mostly from the United States and France) working on features, articles, interviews, and reviews of Japanese pop culture, including manga, anime, video games, and more.

The site’s associated Twitter account, OrganizationASG sums it up pretty nicely: “We’re anti-social geniuses that try and highlight those people behind the scenes in anime and manga.” I’ve more or less been following OSAG since its beginning, so why am I making a point of featuring it now? I’ve always enjoyed OSAG, and it did a fantastic job hosting the Naoki Urasawa Manga Moveable Feast back in February 2013, but recently I’ve been particularly impressed by the manga-related content that the team has been posting.

I’ve already repeatedly mentioned hat OASG is a team effort. So, who exactly is writing about manga at OASG? Justin does a ton of writing for OASG in general and is also one of the site’s most prolific manga writers. He conducts interviews, reviews manga, and writes many of the manga articles. Maggie has earned her title of manga reviewer while Manjiorin (who also has her own blog, Manga Connection, which I quite enjoy) is another of the site’s primary manga columnists. Naru mostly writes anime reviews at OASG, but she also posts manga reviews from time to time. As for past writers, LCMoran wrote some manga-related content and from 2011 to 2013 Sweetpea had the more or less weekly manga column Bookmarked.

When it comes to manga, OASG is largely divided into two main categories. There are the Manga Articles and there are the Manga Reviews, which can also be browsed by demographic: Shounen, Shoujo, Seinen, and Josei. (Sadly, there’s no index to the reviews. An excellent index has been added!) However, those categories aren’t the only places to find manga-related material on OASG. One of the other places where manga content regularly shows up is in the site’s section for Interviews. Justin talks with all sorts of people from the manga industry: translators, letters, editors, publishers, critics, bloggers, and so on. OASG also maintains a list of the year’s US manga releases organized by release date and publisher. The list specifically focuses on the six major manga publishers in the United States: Digital Manga, Kodansha Comics, Seven Seas, Vertical, Viz Media, and Yen Press. Explore OASG further and manga content can be found all over the place.

As much as I enjoy the manga reviews at OASG, my favorite posts tend to be the manga-related interviews, columns, and articles simply because I don’t know of many other sites that feature that type of content. OASG’s Resources page collects links to some of the site’s most helpful posts, including plenty of manga-oriented material. Occasionally, OASG will have an ongoing series of manga articles, as well. For example, Justin just very recently launched The Manga Artists Who Stopped By and Left Forever which I’m looking forward to a great deal.

So that was the long of it. The short of it? Organization Anti-Social Geniuses is a great site for manga-related content, some of it not found anywhere else, and you should really consider checking it out.

Discovering Manga: Podcasts, Part 3

Manga Dome PodcastOver the last few years, I’ve made an effort to track down podcasts that feature manga. I haven’t found that many that focus on manga exclusively, but there are anime and comics podcasts that address manga at least on occasion. A few months ago I posted Discovering Manga: Podcasts Redux which was a quick update and overview of podcasts that I had discovered and written about in the past. The post also included a list of podcasts that I was aware of but hadn’t written about yet. And so, as promised, here is a quick look at a few of the podcasts from that list, all of which happen to have started in 2013.

The first episode of the Manga Dome Podcast was released in April 2013. The podcast generally updates weekly around Sunday and is the work of Lori Henderson of Manga Xanadu, a manga blog that I’ve been following for a few years now. The blog has written posts as well, but nowadays the focus seems to be on the podcast. Generally, Manga Dome is a one-person show although recently the podcast had its first guest. Each episode is around ten minutes or so in length and features news, reviews, and other commentary. As might be implied by its name, the focus of Manga Dome is on manga. Lori knows her own taste in manga quite well but is still willing to try manga that might be out of her comfort zone. She doesn’t tend to enjoy manga with heavy ecchi elements, nor is she a particular fan of horror and gore. Shoujo, mysteries, and fantasy are more to her liking. What I probably appreciate most about Manga Dome is Lori’s emphasis on digital manga. It’s nice to be able to get a quick rundown on the digital landscape as well as other manga news.

Another podcast devoted to manga is the Weekly Shonen Jump Podcast which started in May 2013. This podcast is put together by a crew of manga editors and others who work for Viz Media. It provides an insider’s look into Viz’s digital Weekly Shonen Jump and includes a recap of the most recent issue. Released on Mondays, each episode is around an hour in length and generally follows the same format, starting out with introductions (which is handy as different people participate each week), followed by news, the Weekly Shonen Jump review, and ending with questions from listeners (gathered from the show comments, Twitter, Facebook, and surveys.) Although the focus of the Weekly Shonen Jump podcast is on Weekly Shonen Jump, it’s also about manga in general. I particularly like listening to the Weeekly Shonen Jump podcast to learn more about the publishing side of the manga industry, but everyone participating are fans as well. Since there is a group involved the podcast’s style tends to be somewhat conversational, which I enjoy.

As part of August 2013’s 801 Manga Moveable Feast, Otaku Champloo’s Khursten Santos invited two of her fellow fujoshi to talk with her about boys’ love manga. It went over very well and she had so much fun that the Fujojocast was born. Fujojocast doesn’t have a set schedule and there have only been three episodes so far, all over an hour in length. Despite some sound and microphone issues, I’ve enjoyed them all. Fujojocast features fans, translators, and academics from all over the world who share an unabashed love for boys’ love. I appreciate the women’s enthusiasm and intelligent conversation immensely. As the host, Khursten sets the episodes’ themes and leads and organizes the discussions. Fujojocast isn’t always about manga specifically, and it’s not always strictly about boys’ love, either. Other topics discussed include anime (the second episode is all about Free!: Iwatobi Swim Club, for example), conventions, merchandise, shipping, and general fujoshi fandom. I’m definitely looking forward to future episodes, whenever they might come out.

Discovering Manga: Podcasts Redux

Over the last few years I have been looking for manga podcasts to listen to. Sadly, podcasts that exclusively focus on manga seem to be rather difficult to find. However, I have written a couple of posts in the past about the podcasts that I’ve discovered that at least feature manga somewhat regularly. Considering how popular those particular posts continue to be, I don’t think I’m the only person out there looking for manga podcasts. So, here are some brief updates on the podcasts that I’ve written about before. (For more information and my thoughts about the individual podcasts, please refer to the Discovering Manga posts linked to below.)

Discovering Manga: Podcasts
Anime 3000
20 Questions: On hiatus
A3K Radio: Updating weekly
Manga Corner: Updating irregularly
Anime Today: No longer updating; archives available
Manga Out Loud: No longer updating; archives available

Bonus! Japanator Radio: No longer updating; no archives, but track lists still available (I would consider Nihongaku Radio to be its direct successor if you’re looking for some great Japanese music!)

Discovering Manga: Podcasts, Part 2
ANNCast: Updating weekly
Manga Pulse: Updating weekly
The Speakeasy: Updating monthly

Over the next few months I’m planning on listening to and posting about other podcasts I’ve come across that feature manga. Here is the list that I’ll be working from:
Friendship! Effort! Victory!
Manga Dome Podcast
Otaku in Review Podcast
Weekly Shonen Jump Podcast

Do you know of a great manga podcast (either ongoing or archived) that I’ve missed? Please let me know in the comments, because I’d love to give it a listen!

Discovering Manga: Podcasts, Part 2

Not quite a year and a half ago I wrote the post Discovering Manga: Podcasts which continues to be fairly popular (or at least has frequent page views). I’ve always had the intention to write follow up posts as I had the opportunity to discover and listen to more manga podcasts. As I mentioned in the original post, podcasts devoted exclusively to manga are actually rather difficult to find. Often the subject of manga is only touched upon in podcasts that normally devote themselves to anime or Japanese pop culture in general. The purpose of this post is to point out some podcasts that regularly feature manga, even if it isn’t always the main focus. If you know of any podcasts that I have missed or that I should check out, please let me know! Hopefully, I’ll be able to write more followups in the future (and not take so long to do so this time).

The first podcast I would like to mention is Reverse Theives’ The Speakeasy Podcast, which is a part of the Anime 3000 network (and a personal favorite of mine). Although there are plenty of bonus episodes (S.W.A.T. Reviews and Crime Scene Investigations), The Speakeasy itself is a monthly podcast that began in January 2010. Kate (aka Narutaki) and Alain (aka Hisui) are the delightful hosts. (I will be absolutely heartbroken if they ever get into a fight and don’t make up; I want them to be friends forever.) Occasionally they will have guests, but more often than not The Speakeasy is just the two of them having intelligent conversations about anime and manga. They both have their own viewpoints but also allow each other to disagree. The Speakeasy isn’t a review podcast. Although they may tackle a particular title or show during an episode, their approach is much more “meta,” addressing larger, overarching themes and concepts. The show notes are also fantastic and very thorough with lots of links.

Next up is Manga Pulse, a weekly manga-centric spin-off from Anime Pulse. This is not a podcast to listen to if you’re afraid of your favorite manga being trashed. The hosts, Weltall and Tim, are very opinionated and do not hold back. It can be entertaining, but they can be pretty harsh. I actually appreciate their ability to rip into a title and tear it apart and then turn around and admit that there were still parts they enjoyed. Their taste in manga is often quite different than mine, so personally I don’t always agree with their analyses. Manga Pulse started out as a manga review podcast way back in September 2007, but more recent episodes seem more like a personality show to me; the manga reviews have become a much smaller part of the whole. Personally, I prefer the earlier episodes which focused more on manga. If you give Manga Pulse a try and their rating system confuses you, simply listen to the first episode and all will be explained.

Finally, I would like to bring your attention to Anime News Network’s ANNCast which began in August 2009. As might be expected, ANNCast tends to focus quite a bit on anime. However, since September 2010 it has regularly featured episodes with “Super Manga Pals” in which the focus is on manga. Even when it isn’t the main subject, manga frequently comes up as a topic on ANNCast. Episodes generally begin with a news section after which the guest (or guests) joins in. The show ends with them answering questions sent in from Twitter. Guests range from contributors to Anime News Network to people involved in all levels of the anime, manga, and other Japanese pop culture industries (fans, publishers, distributors, translators, editors, etc.) I am rather fond of Zac Bertschy as the main host. He’s knowledgeable, holds and defends his own opinions, and is not afraid to ask guests tough questions. He’s willing to at least listen even if he doesn’t end up agreeing with them. There are usually three or four ANNCast episodes each month, although there may be more.

Discovering Manga: MangaBlog

If you follow only one manga blog, make it MangaBlog, run by Brigid Alverson.

In addition to writing original material, Alverson is also one of the best, if not the best, manga link bloggers out there. I was absolutely thrilled when Experiments in Manga made it onto Alverson’s radar and started to be linked to from MangaBlog. Updated very regularly (often almost daily), Alverson keeps track of a number of other manga blogs, manga news abroad and in Japan, and manga reviews. Alverson began posting at MangaBlog beginning March 4th, 2005 and has been writing about manga ever since. Reading MangaBlog and following the links posted is absolutely one of the best ways I’ve found to stay on top of what’s happening in the world of manga and to discover other manga bloggers and reviewers.

Can’t get enough of Alverson? In addition to MangaBlog, Alverson also writes about manga and comics for many other websites including Robot 6, MTV Geek, Graphic Novel Reporter, Good Comics for Kids, Publishers Weekly Comics World, and more. You can also follow Alverson on Twitter: @BrigidAlverson.

I really can’t recommend Alverson’s work and MangaBlog enough. With smart content and thoughtful writing, Alverson is definitely someone to follow if you’re interested in manga.

(Incidentally, Alverson’s birthday was yesterday. I was already planning to write this brief post, but it was a nice coincidence. So, a happy belated birthday to you, Brigid!)