My Week in Manga: May 23-May 29, 2016

My News and Reviews

Last week, I was rather preoccupied with my move. The rest of the family and I are now successfully living in the new house, but we aren’t through with moving and there’s still plenty left to do. However, amidst all of the chaos, I was able to post this month’s manga giveaway and there’s still time to enter for a chance to win a copy of Paradise Residence, Volume 1 by Kosuke Fujishima. (The winner will be announced on Wednesday.) Although I wasn’t online much at all last week, there were still a few things that I heard about. Digital Manga announced a new imprint, PeCChi, which will focus on ecchi manga of various types, starting with The Secret Devil-chan by Emu as well as Me and the Impish Devil by Hideaki Yoshikawa. Digital Manga’s most recent Kickstarter project will be released under the Pecchi imprint if it succeeds—Kaworu Watashiya’s controversial Kodomo no Jikan which was previously licensed by Seven Seas but never published. And, completely unrelated, the third part of “The Sparkling World of Shojo Manga,” which focuses on Riyoko Ikeda and The Rose of Versailles Manga, was recently posted at The Lobster Dance.

Quick Takes

Fairy Girls, Volume 1Fairy Girls, Volume 1 by Boku. Hiro Mashima’s Fairy Tail has inspired a fair number of spinoff manga  and adaptations, several of which have been released in English relatively recently. Fairy Girls, featuring four of the most popular female characters from the Fairy Tail guild—Erza, Juvia, Lucy, and Wendy—is one such spinoff. The series takes place immediately following the Grand Magic Games arc in the original series, but for the most part doesn’t actually require the reader to know much at all about Fairy Tail to follow along. Actually, those who are familiar with Fairy Tail and love these characters might end up more frustrated than not with Boku’s version. Fairy Girls almost reads like an unfunny parody, but I don’t think that was at all the intention. I wanted to like the manga much more than I actually did seeing as the basic premise had such promise. Many of the women in Fairy Tail are great characters, but in Fairy Girls they come across as extremely shallow versions of their true selves. The fanservice in Fairy Girls is somewhat odd, too. Without going back to check the entire volume page-by-page, I believe Boku has managed to completely avoid any panty shots (almost conspicuously so) but the manga does frequently seem to be fairly boob-focused.

LDK, Volume 2LDK, Volume 2 by Ayu Watanabe. I know a few people who really enjoy LDK and so I want to like it, too, but at this point in the series I find it to be more infuriating than anything else. Maybe the manga gets better as it goes along, but I can’t say that I’m particularly interested in finding out since there is very little about the first two volumes that I actually enjoyed. Probably my biggest issue with LDK is that the series’ leading man, Shusei, shows absolutely no respect for Aoi, the series’ heroine, despite supposedly having feelings for her. The second volume of LDK introduces a romantic rival who, likewise, doesn’t actually seem to care about Aoi’s feelings. And I still remain unconvinced that any of the people involved legitimately love or even like any of the others. I believe LDK is intended to be a romantic comedy, but it just doesn’t seem to work as one for me, probably because the characters have failed to win me over. Even though some of the scenarios and situations in LDK are admittedly ridiculous and over-the-top (though not especially original), for whatever reason the humor just isn’t very funny as a whole and the balance between it and the manga’s more serious aspects is off.

Tramps Like Us, Volume 6Tramps Like Us, Volumes 6-9 by Yayoi Ogawa. As the series progresses, the basic premise of Tramps Like Us doesn’t really become any easier to explain without making it sound stranger than it is. Takeshi Gouda is a brilliant dancer trained in classical ballet who is trying to break into modern dance, but he is also Momo, the pet of Sumire Iwaya, a successful journalist who is under a lot of stress in both her love life and career. Their relationship is a very complicated and curious one but it’s very important to them both, which is why it’s concerning for them when it begins to change and they slowly begin to realize that their feelings for each other are less platonic and more romantic. Occasionally Tramps Like Us does feel a little directionless in these particular volumes, as though Ogawa is starting to lose narrative focus or trying to stretch the series longer than it necessarily needs to be. Some of the more stand-alone chapters, while still enjoyable, tend to come across as filler or bonus manga rather than being crucial to the story proper. Even so, I love the characters of Tramps Like Us (Sumire, Iwaya, and all the others) so am glad to be able to spend as much time as I can with them. I am enjoying Tramps Like Us immensely and look forward to reading the final third of the series.

Manga Giveaway: Kodansha Shoujo Smorgasbord Winner

LDK, Volume 1Let's Dance a Waltz, Volume 1
My Little Monster, Volume 1Say I Love You, Volume 1

And the winner of the Kodansha Shoujo Smorgasbord manga giveaway is… Rebecca!

As the winner, Rebecca will be receiving four first volumes of shoujo manga published by Kodansha Comics: LDK, Volume 1 by Ayu Watanabe; Let’s Dance a Waltz, Volume 1 by Natsumi Ando; My Little Monster, Volume 1 by Robico; and Say I Love You, Volume 1 by Kanae Hazuki. Kodansha usually isn’t the first publisher I think of when I think of shoujo, but I’ve really been enjoying some of the shoujo manga that it has licensed. For this giveaway, I asked that participants tell me a little about their favorite Kodansha shoujo manga. As was pointed out by several people, Kodansha also releases quite a few shounen series which have tremendous shoujo crossover appeal. Check out the the giveaway comments for all of the responses!

Some of the shoujo (and josei) manga available from Kodansha Comics:
Arisa by Natsumi Ando
Attack on Titan: No Regrets by Hikaru Suruga
Codename: Sailor V by Naoko Takeuchi
Fairy Tail: Blue Mistral written by Hiro Mashima, illustrated by Rui Watanabe
I Am Here by Ema Toyama
Kiss Him, Note Me! by Junko
Kitchen Princess by Natsumi Ando
LDK by Ayu Watanabe
Let’s Dance a Waltz by Natsumi Ando
Manga Dogs by Ema Toyama
Missions of Love by Ema Toyama
My Little Monster by Robico
No. 6 by Hinoki Kino
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: Short Stories by Naoko Takeuchi
Princess Jellyfish by Akiko Higashimura
Say I Love You by Kanae Hazuki
Shugo Chara! by Peach-Pit
Shugo Chara Chan! by Peach-Pit
Tokyo Mew Mew written by Reiko Yoshida, illustrated by Mia Ikumi
Tokyo Mew Mew a la Mode by Mia Ikumi
The Wallflower by Tomoko Hayakawa

Thank you to everyone who shared your favorite Kodansha shoujo manga (or shounen manga with a shoujo flair) with me. I hope to see you all again for the next giveaway!

Manga Giveaway: Kodansha Shoujo Smorgasbord

The end of November is almost here, and you know what that means! It’s time for another manga giveaway at Experiments in Manga. As is tradition for November’s giveaway, in celebration of Thanksgiving in the United States (my favorite holiday) I’m offering up a manga feast. You all will have a chance to win not one, but four volumes of manga this month: LDK, Volume 1 by Ayu Watanabe; Let’s Dance a Waltz, Volume 1 by Natsumi Ando; My Little Monster, Volume 1 by Robico; and Say I Love You, Volume 1 by Kanae Hazuki–a veritable smorgasbord of shoujo from Kodansha Comics! And, as always, the giveaway is open worldwide.

LDK, Volume 1Let's Dance a Waltz, Volume 1My Little Monster, Volume 1Say I Love You, Volume 1

When I used to think of Kodansha Comics, shoujo manga never really came to mind. However, over the last couple of years, the publisher has made a point to expand its shoujo offerings. As a result, Kodansha has started to develop a nice catalog of shoujo manga, including titles that feature science fiction, mystery, action, romance, comedy, drama and more. For the most part, I’ve really been enjoying Kodansha’s shoujo series and I like seeing the variety in the manga.

So, you may be wondering, how can you win a Kodansha Shoujo Smorgasbord?

1) In the comments below, tell me a little bit about your favorite shoujo manga released by Kodansha Comics. (If you don’t have one yet, simply mention that.)
2) If you’re on Twitter, you can earn a bonus entry by tweeting, or retweeting, about the contest. Make sure to include a link to this post and @PhoenixTerran (that’s me).

And there you have it! Each person can earn up to two entries for this giveaway and has one week to submit comments. If you have trouble leaving comments, or if you would prefer, entries can also be emailed to me at phoenixterran(at)gmail(dot)com. I will then post the comments here in your name. The giveaway winner will be randomly selected and announced on December 2, 2015. Good luck to you all!

VERY IMPORTANT: Include some way that I can contact you. This can be an e-mail address in the comment form, a link to your website, Twitter username, or whatever. If I can’t figure out how to get a hold of you and you win, I’ll just draw another name.

Contest winner announced–Manga Giveaway: Kodansha Shoujo Smorgasbord Winner

My Week in Manga: October 19-October 25, 2015

My News and Reviews

I posted a couple of different things at Experiments in Manga last week in addition to the usual My Week in Manga feature. Having recently read and enjoyed Yukito Ayatsuji’s debut novel The Decagon House Murders, I made a point to finally get around to reading and reviewing his first novel released in English, Another. Though I felt a little cheated by one of the plot twists, overall the novel is a great mix of horror and mystery. I enjoyed the story so much that I plan on checking out the manga and anime versions, too. (Seems like a good candidate for an Adaptation Adventures feature.) My other post last week was some random musings on A Moment of Respite in Kohske’s Gangsta. Basically, a single scene from the sixth volume of the manga (more specifically, a sequence of three panels from that scene), inspired me to write more than a thousand words about some of the things that I particularly appreciate and love about the series.

A few things of interest found online last week: First of all, the most recent entry in Ryan Holmberg’s What Was Alternative Manga? column, Gottfredson’s Illegitimate Heirs: Tezuka Osamu and the Great Wall of 1945, was posted at The Comics Journal. Speaking of Tezuka, Stone Bridge Press will be publishing the manga The Osamu Tezuka Story: A Life in Manga and Anime in a single, massive volume. In other licensing news, NBM Publishing continues to release graphic novels in the Louvre Collection. Hirohiko Araki was the first Japanese creator to contribute to the series with the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure spinoff Rohan at the Louvre, but In 2016, Jiro Taniguchi’s full-color Guardians of the Louvre will be translated.

Quick Takes

A Centaur's Life, Volume 4A Centaur’s Life, Volumes 4-5 by Kei Murayama. I love the world that Murayama has created for A Centaur’s Life. A fair amount of the worldbuilding can be found within the series’ narrative, but there’s also a ton of supplementary material between chapters—lessons in history and biology and such. The full introduction of a new character in these volumes, a transfer student who’s also an Antarctic snake person, allows for even more worldbuilding to be incorporated directly into the manga as she is learning about cultures outside of her own while the other students are learning about hers. The issues of race and discrimination that come up fairly frequently in A Centaur’s Life can sometimes be a little heavy-handed or simplistic, but the lessons learned are good ones. The series does tend to be fairly episodic, and even the individual stories and chapters can be fairly fragmented. They give glimpses into the characters and their lives without there necessarily being much of a plot. Generally, A Centaur’s Life is fairly charming and sweet though it has moments that, for one reason or another, are vaguely disturbing, too.

LDK, Volume 1LDK, Volume 1 by Ayu Watanabe. I’ve largely enjoyed most of Kodansha Comics’ recent shoujo series (or at least found something about them that I’ve liked even if as a whole they didn’t work for me), so I was looking forward to giving LDK a try. I believe that LDK is Watanabe’s first manga to be released in English. I’m not especially familiar with her or her series, but she seems to primarily work in shoujo romance. LDK falls squarely into that category. However, after only one volume, I remain completely unconvinced by the supposed romantic chemistry between who will obviously become the lead couple after they end up living together. Part of my difficulty probably stems from the fact that I don’t particularly like either of the characters involved. Shusei is frankly a jerk with apparently no sense of how to express his interest in another person without being an absolute creep. And sadly Aoi is so concerned about doing right by her best friend that she doesn’t actually listen to what she says or needs. On top of that, so far LDK is just a little too generic in both its story and artwork for me to feel truly engaged with the series.

Passion, Volume 1Passion, Volumes 1-4 written by Shinobu Gotoh and illustrated by Shoko Takaku. I actually read the first volume of Passion several years ago, but the series begins so unpleasantly (opening with what appears to be a rape scene) that it took me this long to get around to finishing it. I gave it a second chance for two reasons: I was assured by others that the series improves and I’m loving the artist’s more recent series I’ve Seen It All. While it’s still not a favorite of mine, Passion does get significantly better. That opening scene which was so awful has repercussions for everyone involved and ends up being handled rather well by the creators. Hikaru is a high school student who is desperately in love with Shima, one of the teachers at his school. He forces himself on Shima and, after a peculiar turn of events, the two initially pretend to be lovers. But then their relationship continues to deepen. It turns out Shima is terribly manipulative, but he does recognize that about himself and is extremely troubled by it. Passion takes place over the course of multiple years. It’s interesting to see how the characters grow and evolve while dealing with their bad decisions.