My Week in Manga: November 6-November 12, 2017

My News and Reviews

The Bookshelf Overload for October was posted at Experiments in Manga last week, giving a quick summary of some of the interesting manga, anime, and other media that made their way into my home last month. Otherwise, it was a fairly quiet week at the blog, and it’s going to be even quieter this week. I’m currently work on my next in-depth review, but I suspect that it won’t be ready to reveal to the world until sometime next week. (Hopefully it will be worth the wait.) As for other interesting things recently found online: Brigid Alverson wrote up a recap of an interview with Fairy Tail creator Hiro Mashima from this year’s New York Comic Con for Barnes & Noble and over at Crunchyroll Evan Minto interviewed Frederik L. Schodt, a manga translator, scholar, and personal friend of Osamu Tezuka.

Quick Takes

Shirley, Volume 1Shirley, Volume 1 by Kaoru Mori. Only the first volume of Shirley was ever released in English. It’s now well out-of-print, but it’s also well-worth picking up. I would love to see Yen Press release the entire series in a handsome omnibus that would be at home next to the new edition of Mori’s Emma. I believe that most if not all of the short manga in the first volume of Shirley precede Emma, but the collection was only published after the first volume of Emma was released. The artwork is simpler than that found in Mori’s most recent series in translation, A Bride’s Story, but it is still quite lovely and evocative. As a whole, Shirley is a charming work. Mori’s love of maids is quite evident. The first volume collects five episodic chapters which follow Bennett Cranley and the titular Shirley Madison, a young maid that Bennett hires, in addition to two other stories unrelated by plot although they both also feature Edwardian-era maids. Shirley is only thirteen when she starts working for Bennett and they develop a close, if somewhat unusual, relationship as a result. While Shirley is a very capable maid she is still young–at times its as though she’s more like Bennett’s ward rather than her employee. She’s a sweet, likeable girl, so it’s easy to see why Bennett would be so taken with her.

The Witch BoyThe Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag. I first learned about The Witch Boy while at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival earlier this year. Ostertag was on the panel “LGBTQ Comics Abroad” along with several other creators when she mentioned the upcoming publication of the graphic novel; I immediately added it to my list of comics to pick up when it was released. Ostertag is probably best known as the artist of the ongoing webcomic Strong Female Protagonist and has collaborated as an illustrator on several other comics projects as well. However, The Witch Boy is her debut work as both author and artist. The graphic novel is aimed at middle grade readers, but the comic will be able to be appreciated by adult audiences as well. Aster comes from a family of magic users–the women are taught the secrets of witchery while the men are expected to learn how to shapeshift, a tradition which is strictly adhered to. Much to his family’s dismay, Aster would much rather study with the girls than roughhouse with the boys. Forbidden from learning the women’s magic despite his talent for it, Aster longs for his family to accept his true self. The Witch Boy is a beautiful story with a wonderful message; I hope to read more of Ostertag’s writing in the future.

Attack on Titan: The Anime GuideAttack on Titan: The Anime Guide by Ryosuke Sakuma and Munehiko Inagaki. Kodansha Comics almost exclusively publishes manga, although over time a few other things have been released as well, most of which are in some way a part of the massively successful Attack on Titan franchise. One of the more recent non-manga offerings is Attack on Titan: The Anime Guide, a full-color volume consisting of artwork, character designs, process overviews, and other background information relating to the first season of the Attack on Titan anime. The Anime Guide will mostly appeal to readers who are already devoted fans of Attack on Titan. What interested me most were the numerous interviews included in the book. The most notable is the lengthy interview with and conversation between Hajime Isayama and Tetsuro Araki, the original creator of Attack on Titan and the series director of the anime respectively. (Isayama saw the anime as an opportunity to improve upon or even correct aspects of the manga with which he wasn’t completely satisfied.) The interviews with the anime’s chief animation directors, Titan designer, action animation directors, scriptwriter, voice actors, and theme song musicians were also interesting to read.

My Week in Manga: October 16-October 22, 2017

My News and Reviews

Well, it was a very quiet week at Experiments in Manga last week. I was hoping to post my review of the first omnibus of Takako Shimura’s Sweet Blue Flowers, but a variety of things came up–little dude’s preschool open house, helping family members with their cross-country move, spending most of a day on the road for an out-of-state taiko performance, to name just a few. But never fear! I’ll almost certainly be posting the review later this week instead. I haven’t been online much recently either, but I did catch a couple of thing of interest last week. The first was an announcement from Dark Horse, which will be releasing Kentaro Miura’s official Berserk guidebook in March of next year. The second was Brigid Alverson’s discussion with Akira Himekawa, the two-person creative team behind most of the manga adaptations of The Legend of Zelda.

Quick Takes

Goodnight Punpun, Omnibus 6Goodnight Punpun, Omnibus 6-7 (equivalent to Volumes 11-13) by Inio Asano. It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve read the fifth omnibus of Goodnight Punpun, but in reality it’s only been a few months. Perhaps it seems so long since Goodnight Punpun can be such a hard-hitting, exhausting experience which requires time to fully recover between volumes. (At least, that tends to be the case for me.) Goodnight Punpun is a surreal and extremely dark coming-of-age story. The series is intense, easily earning its explicit content warning with the manga’s portrayal of emotional, psychological, and physical violence. But while much of Goodnight Punpun is incredibly bleak, there are also moments of hope. Granted, that hope can also be extremely painful. Goodnight Punpun worked best for me when it was exploring the inner turmoil of its titular protagonist. I was actually frequently reminded of Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human as the series approached its conclusion. The manga’s second major plot involving the cult wasn’t nearly as compelling or convincing, coming across as superfluous and tangential to me. But having now reached the end of Goodnight Punpun, I find that I want to read it again. The manga has multiple layers to it and I’m fairly certain there are elements that I either missed entirely or didn’t fully appreciate my first time through the series.

Waiting for Spring, Volume 1Waiting for Spring, Volume 1 by Anashin. Although the basic premise of Waiting for Spring makes it seem like the manga’s setup could easily slip into a reverse harem territory, after reading the first volume I don’t think that’s the direction Anashin will be taking with the series. However, it does still look like there will be at least some romantic rivalry involved. If there’s one thing that Mitsuki wants from high school, it’s to finally make some friends. She’s having a difficult time of it, though. The other young women in her class aren’t really hostile towards her, but she hasn’t been able to really connect with them, either. But things start to change when she gets mixed up with and is unexpectedly befriended by the four stars of the men’s basketball team. In general, most of the relationships in Waiting for Spring are very well done. The blossoming romance between Mitsuki and one of the basketball players is very sweet, but I’m particularly enjoying the friendships in the first volume. Mitsuki treats all of the guys like they’re real people. She isn’t blinded by their good looks and athletic talent (though she can still appreciate them) and doesn’t hesitate to give them what for when needed. This is actually something of a novelty for them, but it’s what allows their friendships with her to naturally develop. The already well-established relationships between the four young men are also very entertaining.

Attack on Titan Adventure: Year 850: Last Stand at Wall RoseAttack on Titan Adventure: Year 850: Last Stand at Wall Rose written by Tomoyuki Fujinami and illustrated by Ryosuke Fuji and Toru Yoshii. Growing up, I was a huge fan of the Choose Your Own Adventure series and other types of gamebooks. (I’ve even held onto a few particularly well-loved volumes from my youth.) And so I was very curious about Last Stand at Wall Rose, an interactive novel set during the Battle of Trost which takes place early on in Hajime Isayama’s original Attack on Titan manga. The mechanics of Last Stand at Wall Rose are interesting, incorporating elements of roleplaying games. Since I’m used to standard branching-plot stories, the book wasn’t as linear as I was expecting and in some ways was even more interactive than I thought it would be. Keeping pencil and paper nearby while reading can be very useful. Last Stand at Wall Rose was fun, but I did find some of the formatting and gameplay to be annoying. The most egregious issue was the amount of unnecessary flipping of pages which made the narrative more disjointed than it otherwise would have been. I also almost wish that page numbers hadn’t been included since the novel’s navigation is based on a system of independently numbered story sections rather than pages. (Also of note: Readers of the first printing of Last Stand at Wall Rose will want to refer to the errata posted online.)

My Week in Manga: November 21-November 27, 2016

My News and Reviews

With American Thanksgiving, traveling, and visiting family, last week was once again a quiet one at Experiments in Manga. However, I am at least still reliably posting the My Week in Manga feature. Yen Press, though, was a little busier than I was last week and announced three new licenses: Asari Endō’s Magical Girl Raising Project light novel, Mutsumi Okubashi’s Grimgar of Fantasy & Ash manga, and the first Sound! Euphonium novel by Ayano Takeda. Of the three, Sound! Euphonium is definitely the one that I’m most interested in and am looking forward to. Even if I wasn’t a brass player (fun fact: I actually have a degree in horn performance), that would probably still be the case.

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan: Lost Girls, Volume 1Attack on Titan: Lost Girls, Volume 1 written by Koji Seko and illustrated by Ryosuke Fuji. Considering how well Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan has been doing in North America, it’s not too surprising that most of the various spinoff series have been licensed as well. I actually didn’t know much about Lost Girls before reading it except that the series focuses on some of the more prominent female characters of Attack on Titan. The first volume of Lost Girls is a complete story in and of itself featuring Annie during the time she served as part of the Military Police Brigade. (Interestingly, it’s one of the few spinoff stories to take place within the context and timeline of the original series.) What I didn’t anticipate was that the first volume of Lost Girls is basically a murder mystery, or at least that’s what it turns into after Annie agrees to investigate the disappearance of a young woman. I’ll admit, I was pleasantly surprised by the first Lost Girls; it’s actually pretty great. The manga follows Annie as she searches for clues, uncovering some of the seedier aspects of the city and kicking ass as necessary. It also delves into her backstory. After reading the first volume of Lost Girls, I’ve come to appreciate even more how interesting a character Annie is.

Fire Force, Volume 1Fire Force, Volume 1 by Atsushi Ohkubo. Although Fire Force isn’t the first manga by Ohkubo (who is probably best known as the creator of Soul Eater) to be released in English, it is the first one that I’ve actually read. I really like the basic premise of Fire Force. In order to fight back against something akin to demonic possession combined with spontaneous human combustion, brigades of Fire Soldiers have been formed. These teams are essentially exorcism units with unique firefighting capabilities, including pyrokinetic members who can control and create fire. The series’ main character is Shinra, a young fire user with a tragic past who has recently joined one of these brigades and who has the unfortunate habit of grinning maniacally whenever he’s nervous. Fire Force has the potential to be a fun and exciting manga with some great action sequences, but the first volume managed to extinguish most of my enthusiasm for the series. Ohkubo’s exposition is incredibly heavy-handed, frequently stating the obvious and relying on forced conversations to tediously explain everything that is going on rather than using more natural methods of worldbuilding or allowing the artwork to convey the action on its own.

His House, Volume 1His House, Volumes 1-3 by Hajin Yoo. If I recall correctly, the first manhwa that I ever read was Yoo’s boys’ love series Totally Captivated and it remains a series of which I am quite fond. And so, when I learned that Netcomics was releasing His House, one of Yoo’s most recent full-color manhwa, I was immediately interested. The series follows Gangyoo, an orphan trying to finish college while struggling to make ends meet. In order to earn enough money for room, board, books, and tuition, he’s been renting himself out to women who for one reason or another temporarily need a fake boyfriend. Fortunately, his most recent gig pays so well that he won’t have to worry about his finances for a long time, however it’s a challenging and strange situation–not only is his client Soohyun a man, he doesn’t seem to actually like Gangyoo or even be interested in his services. The strongest points of Yoo’s manhwa tend to be the lead characters and their well-developed personalities. The stories, while engaging with excellent pacing, can sometimes run a little wild and end up somewhat convoluted. This is true of His House, too, but I still enjoyed the series. The manhwa is a page-turner as Gangyoo and Soohyun’s relationship evolves and their hidden pasts and true motivations are slowly revealed.

My Love Story!!, Volume 7My Love Story!!, Volume 7-10 written by Kazune Kawahara and illustrated by Aruko. I absolutely love My Love Story!! and yet I still somehow manage to forget just how much I enjoy the series between readings. This, of course, means that I get to rediscover my love for the manga on a fairly regular basis which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. My Love Story!! is one of those series that just makes me incredibly happy to read it and sometimes that’s just exactly what I need in a manga. It’s a funny, charming, and upbeat series with loveable and endearing characters which, incredibly, doesn’t come across as being overly sweet or idealistic. Takeo and Yamato’s earnest and pure romance is marvelously refreshing. But while I have no doubt that their relationship will continue there is still some uncertainty in it and it still takes communication and work on both of their parts. They have moments when they feel insecure or lack confidence, often because they love each other so much and want the absolute best for the other. Takeo and Yamato’s friendships with the other characters in My Love Story!! are likewise wonderful. I especially appreciate Sunakawa’s presence in the series and the closeness that exists between him and Takeo. I continue to adore My Love Story!!.

My Week in Manga: October 17-October 23, 2016

My News and Reviews

Last week was yet another week during which I wasn’t online much, though this time it was because I was on a short family vacation in Ohio to visit my folks. I did however still manage to post my review of the absolutely wonderful children’s book Are You an Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko. The book, fully illustrated by Toshikado Hajiri, combines a biographical narrative of Kaneko’s work and life written by David Jacobson along with a selection of Kaneko’s poems presented in both the original Japanese and in English translation. Are You an Echo? is a beautiful book that adults will be able to appreciate, too; I wasn’t previously familiar with Kaneko’s poetry and am incredibly glad to have been introduced to it.

Although I was busy with family last week, a few things did catch my eye online: Vertical’s Fall 2016 manga licensing survey is now live for those interested in suggesting titles that they’d like to see the company publish in English; The Mystery Writers of Japan have released a very useful website in English which includes great information such as an outline of the group’s history and a list of recent English translations of the members’ works; As for cool queer comics Kickstarters, there is a newly launched campaign to collect Tab Kimpton’s delightful Minority Monsters comics in a single volume along with additional bonus content.

Quick Takes

Fairy Tail, Volume 55Fairy Tail, Volume 55 by Hiro Mashima. With all of the recent developments in Fairy Tail it seems like the series might in fact be reaching its final story arcs. Granted, Mashima could just as easily stretch things out for quite a bit longer as he has repeatedly done in the past. Often Fairy Tail feels rather directionless to me, as though the creator is making things up as he goes (which he has admitted to) or isn’t sure exactly what he wants to do with the series. That being said, when Mashima actually manages to bring together disparate storylines and plot developments together in a way that makes sense and seems planned from the beginning (even if it actually wasn’t) the results can be thrilling. The fifty-fifth volume of Fairy Tail opens with one of the biggest game-changing reveals in the series as Natsu and Zeref face each other down. It’s a dramatic encounter and works tremendously well. Sadly, the rest of the volume isn’t quite as strong as its opening and many of the other plot twists and backstories feel forced at best. Still, this most recent story arc is probably my favorite out of those that I’ve so far read. (I started reading Fairy Tail part way through, so there are several arcs that I’ve missed.) I especially appreciate how it gives the tournament arc, which grew increasingly tedious, a greater purpose in the series as a whole. The action sequences and battles continue to be an exciting part of the manga as well, and there are plenty of those to be found in this volume.

intense1Intense, Volume 1: Night on the Red Road by Kyungha Yi. I’ve deliberately been keeping a lookout for new print releases from Netcomics, but even if I wasn’t Yi’s Intense would have caught my attention. The series’ cover artwork is stunning and the manhwa’s production values and quality is some of the best that I’ve seen from Netcomics. Intense was originally released in six digital volumes, but the print edition has been collected into four. The interior artwork, though it’s not in color, is just as beautiful, striking, and moody as Yi’s cover illustrations. The story is likewise very moody and at times can be extremely dark and violent. The series follows Jiwoon, an assassin and bodyguard for a crime syndicate who has been temporarily assigned to a red-light district. There he encounters and is drawn to the mysterious Soohan who works there as a sort of handyman. With their melancholic, slightly detached personalities, it seems as though the two young men likely share a fair amount in common, so much so that the tragic backstory revealed in the flashbacks interspersed throughout the first volume could easily belong to either of them. If nothing else, Intense is certainly well named. The manhwa is heavy and intense both emotionally and psychologically, moreso than many other boys’ love stories I’ve read. I definitely plan on reading the rest of the series and I’m very curious to see how the relationship between Jiwoon and Soohan develops.

Paradise Residence, Volume 3Paradise Residence, Volume 3 by Kosuke Fujishima. Admittedly, it has been quite some time since I’ve read the first two volumes of Paradise Residence, but I really don’t remember the characters being especially infatuated with motorbikes and motorcycles which is something that is quite prominent in the third and final volume. Maybe I just completely missed it before and that’s why it seemed to suddenly come out of nowhere, but the resulting story is nice. However, it’s another sudden development that becomes the dramatic focus of the rest of the volume–due to some unfortunate circumstances, the dorm is scheduled for demolition rather than renovation and the young women living there must do all that they can to save their beloved home. They come up with a rather creative solution to their problem that, while it strains believability, is impressively audacious and clever. Paradise Residence is a series that I enjoyed much more than I thought or expected I would. It doesn’t really have a lot of substance or depth to it, but it’s a pleasant slice-of-life manga set in an all-girls high school. Though not particularly nuanced, most of the characters are generally likeable. Even with the occasional bit of drama, Paradise Residence tends to be a fairly quiet and low-key series. The artwork is attractive, too, although Fujishima seems fond of drawing characters with one eye closed; I’m not sure if they’re supposed to be winking or what.

Spoof on Titan, Volume 1Spoof on Titan, Volume 1 by Hounori. In general the manga spinoffs of Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan depend on readers having at least some familiarity with the original series, although to varying degrees. Spoof on Titan perhaps requires a little more than many of the others as the humor relies heavily on knowledge of the characters and their personalities. Unlike Attack on Titan: Junior High, the other Attack on Titan comedy series, Spoof on Titan is firmly set in the world of the original manga. Granted, it’s a much more friendly version of that world–the Titans, though mentioned frequently, barely make an appearance and the death, destruction, and violence has been greatly toned down. The gore and darkness of Attack on Titan aren’t really to be found in Spoof on Titan. Hounori’s illustrations and character redesigns are pretty cute, too. Spoof on Titan is a four-panel comedy manga which is a format that I tend to really like when it’s done well, but the comics in Spoof on Titan tended to be fairly hit-or-miss for me. Some of them legitimately made me laugh while I barely cracked a smile at others. Overall, though, I am largely enjoying the series and find it amusing. I’m not sure that I would necessarily want to binge-read Spoof on Titan, but the series can be fun in small doses. The first volume reads like a collection of comedic Attack on Titan bonus manga, which is essentially what it is even if Isayama himself isn’t directly working on the series.


My Week in Manga: October 3-October 9, 2016

My News and Reviews

Last week at Experiments in Manga, the Yona of the Dawn Giveaway Winner was announced. The post also includes a list of a variety of shoujo fantasy manga available in English that have compelling female leads. That was about it from me last week other than the usual My Week in Manga post, but I am currently working on a feature for Ichigo Takano’s Orange and a review of Are You an Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko which I should hopefully be ready to share soon.

In licensing news, Viz Media will be releasing Yuhta Nishio’s After Hours yuri manga and has announced the acquisition of Sui Ishida’s Tokyo Ghoul:Re, Matsuri Hino’s Vampire Knight Memories, and Satoru Noda’s Golden Kamuy (which is the one I’m most interested in). Kodansha Comics announced a whole slew of licenses at New York Comic Con: Regarding My Reincarnation as a Slime by Fuse, Fairy Tail: Rhodonite by Shibano Kyouta, Kigurumi Defense Squad by Lily Hoshino, Kiss Me at the Stroke of Midnight by Rin Mikimoto, Waiting for Spring by Anashin, Love and Lies by Musawo Tsumugi, Ahogaru: Clueless Girl by Hiroyuki, Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty by Mei Morino, Frau Faust by Kore Yamazaki (the creator of The Ancient Magus’ Bride, so I’ll definitely be trying the series), and Land of the Lustrous by Haruko Ichikawa.

As for Kickstarter projects, Digital Manga announced that Under the Air and The Crater will be part of it’s upcoming Osamu Tezuka project, though I’m not sure when that will actually take place. As for a few projects that are currently underway that have caught my eye there’s the contemporary comics essay zine Critical Chips, the Johnny Wander omnibus Our Cats Are More Famous Than Us, and the second volume of O Human Star, which is a fantastic science fiction comic with queer themes.

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan AnthologyAttack on Titan Anthology edited by Ben Applegate and Jeanine Schaefer. While I wouldn’t consider myself to be a diehard of Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan, I do largely enjoy the series. One of the things that I actually find most interesting about the series is how it has become a worldwide phenomenon. Attack on Titan Anthology is a prime example of that, bringing together works by numerous Western comics creators which explore the world and characters of Isayama’s original Attack on Titan. There are some pretty big names among the contributors from both mainstream and independent comics. The result is spectacular and even better than I expected. I love the variety found in the works included in Attack on Titan Anthology. The stories range from darkly comedic to deadly serious (Asaf and Tomer Hanuka’s “Memory Maze” actually almost made me cry), and each work is different from the others in both style and tone. Some take place directly in the world that Isayama has created while others parody or completely reimagine it. Attack on Titan is an exciting and engaging collection. As someone who is a fan of both Western and Japanese comics, I greatly enjoyed seeing some of my favorite creators tackle Attack on Titan in their own unique ways. I suspect the anthology will appeal most to people who are already familiar with Attack on Titan, but others might be drawn to it simply due to the specific creators involved. Either way, Attack on Titan Anthology is simply fantastic. The volume’s production-quality is probably the best that I’ve seen from Kodansha Comics, too.

Avialae, Chapter 1Avialae, Chapters 1-2 by Lucid. Every once in a while, I pick up a comic knowing nothing about it other than the fact that I really like the cover art. That’s how I came to find out about Avialae–I saw the first chapter at the Toronto Comics Arts Festival in 2016 and had to read it. Avialae is actually a webcomic, the second chapter of which was just recently released in print. The artwork in the series is absolutely gorgeous, easily on par with the cover illustrations, and is able to effectively convey both body horror as well as erotic encounters as demanded by the story. The comic follows Gannet, a gay high school student who suddenly, and quite painfully, grows a pair of wings. Initially his next-door neighbor and classmate Gilbert is the only one who knows about Gannet’s transformation. As a result, their relationship undergoes some significant changes, too, and eventually becomes rather intimate. As far as sex goes, the first chapter is fairly tame while the second is much more explicit, easily earning the comic its 18+ rating. Avialae is marvelously sex-positive, the steamy scenes are entirely consensual, the sex is loving, and there’s plenty of communication between those involved. I find both Gannet and Gilbert to be endearing and I’m enjoying seeing how their relationship develops both physically and emotionally. Actually, all of the characters and their relationships, whether familial, romantic, or platonic, are incredibly well-realized  in Avialae. Also, much to my delight and surprise, Avialae includes a transguy and his portrayal is excellent.

Complex Age, Volume 2Complex Age, Volume 2 by Yui Sakuma. The first volume of Complex Age surprised me. Since I don’t have a particular interest in cosplay which is a major part of the manga’s premise, I was completely taken aback by how much I was able to identify with the series and Nagisa, its main character. Complex Age is about cosplay and reading the manga has even been somewhat educational, but to an even greater extent the series is about adult fans who have hobbies that many people feel are more suited to a younger age group. It’s about women in fandom and about keeping up appearances. It’s about finding a balance between work, family and friends, and personal interests and happiness. The first volume of Complex Age also included the Sakuma’s original one-shot manga “Complex Age” which deals with similar themes. It wasn’t initially clear exactly how or if the series would tie into the original. I was very happy to discover in Complex Age, Volume 2 that the one-shot and the series actually are directly related to one another–Sawako (from the one-shot) is in fact Nagisa’s mother. I’m excited to see Sawako’s story explored more in Complex Age. It’s interesting, and in some ways a little heartbreaking, to see the impact her decision to let go of her hobby has had on her life. Now that Nagisa knows more about her mother as a person I wonder how the knowledge of Sawako’s past will influence Nagisa’s own decisions in regards to her pursuit of cosplay. Complex Age continues to surprise and impress me; I’m looking forward to reading more.

The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Volume 4The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Volumes 4-5 by Hiromu Arakawa. Neither the characters or the story of The Heroic Legend of Arslan are especially nuanced and they come across as fairly standard for the genre, but the series is nevertheless engaging and the battles are exciting. That and I’ll always glad to see more work by Arakawa (and in this case by proxy Yoshiki Tanaka) available in English. At this point in the series, Arslan and his small group of allies are fighting for their lives as they try to reach what remains of the Parsian forces along the border hoping to find reinforcements. They must face the Lusitanian invaders, confront Parsians with dubious loyalties, and contend with unknown powers working against them from the shadows. Not only that, the legitimacy of Arslan’s claim to the throne has been called into question. I enjoy historical fantasies which incorporate court and political intrigue, and The Heroic Legend of Arslan certainly has plenty of that. The forces of both Pars and Lusitania are fragmented and suffer from betrayals and infighting. The chaos this causes makes the situation increasingly dangerous and unpredictable; it is difficult know exactly what will happen next as alliances are made only to fall apart again. The Heroic Legend of Arslan can actually be pretty brutaldeath, whether from battle or assassination, is a frequent occurrence. Arakawa’s artwork, while not being overly grotesque or gruesome, does still show enough blood carnage that there’s no question as to what is happening. The horses have a very rough time of it, too.