Bookshelf Overload: September 2017

Another month, another collection of interesting stuff made its way into my domicile! It’s been a while since I’ve gotten a box full of review copies, but Kodansha Comics did send a few things my way in September. Of those, I was most excited to see the debut of Kore Yamazaki’s Frau Faust, which I already had my eyes on due to my fondness for the creator’s other series in English, The Ancient Magus’ Bride. The other September debut that I was particularly happy to see, and one of my most anticipated releases of the year, was the first omnibus of Takako Shimura’s Sweet Blue Flowers. (I should hopefully have my review of that written up and posted soon.) On the other end of the spectrum, last month I also managed to snag complete sets of a couple of out-of-print and somewhat difficult to find manga series for a good price–Mizuho Kusanagi’s NG Life and Makoto Kobayashi’s What’s Michael?–which pleased me immensely.

Aho-Girl, Volume 1 by Hiroyuki
Appleseed Alpha by Iou Kuroda
A Bride’s Story, Volume 9 by Kaoru Mori
Blame, Omnibus 3 by Tsutomu Nihei
Bungo Stray Dogs, Volume 4 by Kafka Asagiri
Captain Harlock: Dimensional Voyage, Volume 1 written by Leiji Matsumoto, illustrated by Kouiti Shimaboshi
Fairy Tail: Rhodonite by Kyouta Shibano
Frau Faust, Volume 1 by Kore Yamazaki
Golden Kamuy, Volume 2 by Satoru Noda
Haikyu!!, Volume 16 by Haruichi Furudate
Kigurumi Guardians, Volume 1 by Lily Hoshino
Kiss Me at the Stroke of Midnight, Volume 1 by Rin Mikimoto
NG Life, Volumes 1-9 by Mizuho Kusanagi
Princess Jellyfish, Omnibus 6 by Akiko Higashimura
Sweet Blue Flowers, Omnibus 1 by Takako Shimura
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime written by Fuse, illustrated by Taiki Kawakami.
Waiting for Spring, Volume 1 by Anashin
What’s Michael?, Volumes 1-11 by Makoto Kobayashi
Yona of the Dawn, Volume 8 by Mizuho Kusanagi

Breaks, Volume 1 by Emma Vieceli and Malin Ryden
The Clerics of Midsummer by Victoria Grace Elliott
Empowered, Omnibus 3 by Adam Warren
Finding Molly: An Adventure in Catsitting written by Justine Prado, illustrated by Jenn St-Onge
Finding Peace by Jordan Alsaqa and Marie Enger
Fresh Romance, Volume 2 edited by Maytal Gilboa
Galahad and the Far-Off Horizon written by Hansel Moreno
M.F.K. by Nilah Magruder
Minority Monsters by Tab Kimpton
The Mystery of La Luna written by Rhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein, illustrated by Ainsley Yeager
Not Stray by Wai Au
Off the Ice by Wai Au
Sex Fantasy by Sophia Foster-Dimino
Taproot by Keezy Young
Venture Forth by Ainsley Yeager
Verona written by Emily Dell, illustrated by Bryndon Everett and Mollie Helms
White Rice Fish by Wai Au

Bubbly by Meredith McClaren

Attack on Titan Adventure: Year 850: Last Stand at Wall Rose by Tomoyuki Fujinami
The Black Tides of Heaven by Jy Yang
Death’s End by Cixin Liu
Last Words from Montmartre by Miaojin Qiu
Quantum Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner, Volume 2 by Yu Godai
The Part of Me That Isn’t Broken Inside by Kazufumi Shiraishi
The Red Threads of Fortune by Jy Yang
Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa
Yesterday by Felicia Yap

The Ginza Ghost and Other Stories by Keikichi Osaka
Into the Light: An Anthology of Literature by Koreans in Japan edited by Melissa L. Wender

Womansword: What Japanese Words Say About Women by Kittredge Cherry

Manga Giveaway: Assassin’s Creed Giveaway Winner

Assassin's Creed: Awakening, Volume 1And the winner of the Assassin’s Creed: Awakening manga giveaway is… Sean Kleefeld!

As the winner, Sean (who does some great writing about comics) will be receiving a copy of the first volume in Takashi Yano and Kenji Oiwa’s Assassin’s Creed: Awakening as published in English by Titan Comics. Since pirates feature very prominently in the series, I wanted to learn about some of the giveaway participant’s favorite pirates from manga. Perhaps unsurprisingly considering the popularity of the series characters from Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece were mentioned several times, but some lesser-known pirates can be found in the giveaway comments, too.

Some of the manga released in English featuring pirates:
Assassin’s Creed: Awakening written by Takashi Yano, illustrated by Kenji Oiwa
Basara by Yumi Tamura
Berserk by Kentaro Miura
Black Lagoon by Rei Hiroe
Bodacious Space Pirates: Abyss of Hyperspace by Chibimaru
Captain Harlock by Leiji Matsumoto
Captain Harlock: Dimensional Voyage written by Leiji Matsumoto, illustrated by Kouiti Shimaboshi
Cirque du Freak by Takahiro Arai
Elemental Gelade by Mayumi Azuma
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass by Akira Himekawa
One Piece by Eiichiro Oda
Princess Knight by Osamu Tezuka
Queen Emeraldas by Leiji Matsumoto
Stone by Sin-ichi Hiromoto
Vinland Saga by Makoto Yukimura
Wanted by Matsuri Hino
Yona of the Dawn by Mizuho Kusanagi

I’m certain that the above list isn’t comprehensive, but I was a little surprised by how few series I was able to easily come up with that feature pirates! Still, it’s an interesting mix which includes historical pirates, fantasy pirates, space pirates, and more. Thank you to everyone who participated by sharing your personal favorites with me! I hope to see you all again for the next monthly giveaway.

Bookshelf Overload: August 2017

Over the last few months my manga buying habits have been slowly changing. In general I’m preordering less (which is rather unfortunate as that’s one of the best ways to support the manga industry), opting to wait to catch up on series until there’s a good sale of some sort. And so, in August I ended up finally picking up more of Akane Shimizu’s delightfully entertaining and educational Cells at Work! and Haruichi Furudate’s upbeat sports manga Haikyu!! among other things. As for older series that are new to me, I discovered that Izumi Tsubaki’s Oresama Teacher has a mix of humor and heart that I find irresistible. However, there were a few August releases that I was particularly looking forward to, like Delicious in Dungeon, Volume 2 by Ryoko Kui, Otherworld Barbara, Omnibus 2 by Moto Hagio, and the comic Fantasy Sports, Volume 3 by Sam Bosma. I also decided to give the anime Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace directed by Seiji Kishi a try, mostly because I came across a set for a great price and because I have an affinity for all things even tangentially related to Edogawa Rampo.

Assassin’s Creed: Awakening, Volume 1 written by Takashi Yano, illustrated by Kenji Oiwa
Blame!, Omnibus 4 by Tsutomu Nihei
Cells at Work!, Volumes 2-3 by Akane Shimizu
The Crater by Osamu Tezuka
Delicious in Dungeon, Volume 2 by Ryoko Kui
Drifters, Volume 4 by Kohta Hirano
Fruits Basket, Omnibus 3 by Natsuki Takaya
Girls’ Last Tour, Volume 2 Tsukumizu
Goodnight Punpun, Volume 7 by Inio Asano
Haikyu!!, Volumes 13-15 by Haruichi Furudate
Iceland by Yuichi Yokoyama
I Am a Hero, Omnibus 4 by Kengo Hanazawa
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Part 3: Stardust Crusaders, Volume 4 by Hirohiko Araki
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time by Akira Himekawa
Love and Lies, Volume 1 by Musawo
Nirvana, Volume 1 by Jin and Sayuki
Melody of Iron and Other Short Stories by Osamu Tezuka
Murciélago, Volume 3 by Yoshimurakana
My Love Story!!, Volume 13 written by Kazune Kawahara, illustrated by Aruko
Of the Red, the Light, and the Ayakashi, Volumes 6 by Nanao
Oresama Teacher, Volumes 2-13 by Izumi Tsubaki
Otherworld Barbara, Omnibus 2 by Moto Hagio
Queen Emeraldas, Volume 2 by Leiji Matsumoto
Record of the Glass Castle by Osamu Tezuka
She and Her Cat written by Makoto Shinkai, illustrated by Tsubasa Yamaguchi
Sweetness and Lightning, Volumes 6-7 by Gido Amagakure
Survival in the Office, Volume 1 by Risu Akizuki
Under the Air by Osamu Tezuka
What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Volume 12 by Fumi Yoshinaga
Wolfsmund, Volume 8 by Mitsuhisa Kuji
Yona of the Dawn, Volume 7 by Mizuho Kusanagi
Yowamushi Pedal, Omnibus 6 by Wataru Watanabe

Always Raining Here, Volume 2 by Hazel and Bell
By Chance or Providence by Becky Cloonan, colors by Lee Loughridge
Dates, Volume 2 edited by Zora Gilbert and Cat Parra
Fantasy Sports, Volume 3: The Green King by Sam Bosma
Fallen, Volumes 1-2 by Burukku Ogawa
How to Be Alive by Tara Booth
Mirror Mirror, Volume 2 edited by Julia Gfrörer and Sean T. Collins
Monster Pop!, Volumes 1-2 by Maya Kern
Moonshot, Volumes 1-2 edited by Hope Nicholson
Short Gay Stories by Hanna-Pirita Lehkonen
Sound of Snow Falling by Maggie Umber
Starfighter, Chapter 4 by HamletMachine
Titty-Time, Volume 2 by Amanda Lafrenais

The Book of the Dead by Shinobu Origuchi

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood & Battle Tendency directed by Naokatsu Tsuda and Ken’ichi Suzuki
Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace directed by Seiji Kishi

Manga Giveaway: A Variety of Vertical Comics Winner

Devils' Line, Volume 1Flying Witch, Volume 1
Mysterious Girlfriend X, Omnibus 1Nichijou: My Ordinary Life, Volume 1

And the winner of the Variety of Vertical Comics manga giveaway is… Michelle Gauthier!

As the winner, Michelle will be receiving the first volume of four manga series released by Vertical Comics: Ryo Hanada’s Devils’ Line, Chihiro Ishizuka’s Flying Witch, Riichi Ueshiba’s Mysterious Girlfriend X, and Keiichi Arawi’s Nichijou: My Ordinary Life. Since this giveaway focused on Vertical Comics, I asked participants to tell me a little about their favorite Vertical manga, too. Check out the giveaway comments for everyone’s detailed responses, and check out below for a list of some of Vertical’s manga.

Manga from Vertical Comics:
Arakawa under the Bridge by Hikaru Nakamura
Blame! by Tsutomu Nihei
Chi’s Sweet Home by Konami Kanata
Devil’s Line by Ryo Hanada
Dissolving Classroom by Junji Ito
Dream Fossil by Satoshi Kon
Flying Witch by Chihiro Ishizuka
The Flowers of Evil by Shuzo Oshimi
FukuFuku: Kitten Tales by Konami Kanata
The Garden of Words written by Makoto Shinkai, illustrated by Midori Motohashi
A Girl on the Shore by Inio Asano
The Gods Lie by Kaori Okazaki
Helvetica Standard Bold by Keiichi Arawai
Immortal Hounds by Ryo Yasohachi
Imperfect Girl written by Nisioisin, illustrated by Mitsuru Hattori
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing written by Katsuyuki Sumizawa, illustrated by Tomofumi Ogasawara
My Neighbor Seki by Takuma Morishige
Mysterious Girlfriend X by Riichi Ueshiba
Nichijou: My Ordinary Life by Keiichi Arawi
Ninja Slayer written by Yoshiaki Tabata, illustrated by Yuuki Yogo
Prophecy by Tetsuya Tsutsui
She and Her Cat written by Makoto Shinkai, illustrated by Tsubasa Yamaguchi
To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts by Maybe
Tokyo ESP by Hajime Segawa
Witchcraft Works by Ryu Mizunagi

The above list only includes the manga that have been released (or will be released very soon) under the Vertical Comics imprint which was launched in 2014, but Vertical began publishing manga well before then. (I’m fairly certain that Vertical’s first manga was Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha back in 2003, but I could be wrong.) Even before specifically devoting an imprint to manga and anime-related titles, Vertical has always had a strong catalog of titles which are well-worth reading. Thank you to everyone who shared your particular Vertical favorites with me! I hope you’ll all participate in the next giveaway, too.

Random Musings: Seven Years of Experiments in Manga

As of today, I have been writing at Experiments in Manga for SEVEN YEARS. And of those, four have been spent as a contributing member to Manga Bookshelf and its cohort of blogs. I have spent much of this past year trying to find a balance between my writing and reviewing and the multitude of other responsibilities requiring my focus and attention. I had to cut back significantly on my posting, more than I really would have liked, but was still largely happy with what I was able to achieve both with Experiments in Manga and in other areas of my life. Among other things, over the past twelve months I’ve been granted the rank of shodan in traditional Okinawan karate, was hired for a new job at a different library, and started teaching introductory taiko classes. It’s all been rather tumultuous. But perhaps most importantly, at least for the sake of this post, I am now able to celebrate the seventh anniversary of Experiments in Manga!

Unlike past years, there weren’t really any big projects or special features at Experiments in Manga this time around. In fact, much to my dismay, I actually even stopped writing in-depth reviews for a few months. However, I re-found some of my inspiration to write after reading and reviewing the eighth omnibus of Makoto Yukimura’s Vinland Saga after which I finally started to post long-form features a little more regularly again. Other reviews from the past year that were personally memorable or meaningful to me in some way include those for the marvelous children’s book Are You an Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko, Yeon-sik Hong’s autobiographical manhwa Uncomfortably Happily, and most recently Kazuki Sakuraba’s soon to be released novel A Small Charred Face. I also continued two annual features that I especially enjoy, my random musings on notable releases for the year and my Toronto Comic Arts Festival adventures.

I started writing at Experiments in Manga seven years ago as a way to more actively engage with the online manga community. To some extent, I was successful with that. Not all of my experiences have necessarily been positive ones, but Experiments in Manga has given me the opportunity to meet and interact with a wide variety of people that otherwise I never would have. I especially cherish the friendships that have been fostered because of it. While I primarily write for myself, I also love sharing my excitement for manga and such with people; it makes me incredibly happy to know that at least from time to time others have found Experiments in Manga interesting, entertaining, or useful.

And so, while I am celebrating seven years of Experiments in Manga, it is with some amount of sadness that I am also announcing my semi-retirement from manga blogging. I will continue to regularly write at Experiments in Manga through the end of 2017, but once 2018 arrives I will no longer be actively posting here. However, I’ll still be a contributor at Manga Bookshelf, chiming in on the Manga the Week of and Pick of the Week features, and starting in January my quick takes on manga will be included as part of the Bookshelf Briefs. I’ll likely be a little more active on my Twitter account, too, using it as an additional outlet for my thoughts on a variety of topics. This all was an extremely difficult and even heart-wrenching decision for me to make, but while I remain conflicted, I do feel that it was ultimately the right choice. There are a number of different reasons behind it, but perhaps the most obvious is that the demands on my time only seem to increase with every year that goes by. And at this particular point in my life, I find I most want to return to my roots in music and to be able to devote more of my attention to studying, performing, and teaching taiko.

To conclude, I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and Experiments in Manga over these last seven years–my readers, colleagues, contributors, friends, family, publishers, industry contacts, the creators I’ve met, and anyone else who has taken the time to care, participate, comment, provide feedback, or share. Experiments in Manga truly couldn’t have lasted this long without your encouragement; I am incredibly grateful and appreciative of you all. Writing here has been an illuminating experience and I’ve learned a lot along the way. I’m also going to miss it tremendously. Experiments in Manga and I have had our ups and downs, but I am honestly proud of some of the things that I have been able to accomplish both with and through it. Going forward I won’t be writing as much, but I will certainly be reading even more and hope to continue finding ways to share my love of manga, Japanese literature, and all of the other wonderful things that mean so much to me.