My Week in Manga: October 31-November 6, 2011

My News and Reviews

This is the time of month my entries on Experiments in Manga probably tend to be a little boring for most people. I announced the winner of the Sugar Sugar Rune giveaway (Manga Giveaway: Happy Hollowe’en! Winner) and posted the October 2011 Bookshelf Overload. To help make things a little more interesting, I’m starting up my Library Love feature again. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted one. Basically, it’s similar to my weekly quick takes except that it focuses specifically on manga that I’ve borrowed and read from the library. I think I’ll try to make it a monthly feature. Anyway, here’s Part 7!

I know that some of my readers were excited to hear about Viz Media’s entry into the boys’ love genre with their new imprint SuBLime. Deb Aoki has posted further information about the venture over at Manga. Part 1 is a transcript of the SuBLime panel and question and answer session that was held at Yaoicon. Part 2 features interviews with two of SuBLime’s editors: Leyla Aker (who is also vice-president of publishing at Viz) and Jennifer LeBlanc (whose blog The Yaoi Review may be familiar to some of you).

Also, completely unrelated, Takehiko Inoue has started work on Vagabond again! The series had been put on hold due to his health concerns among other factors. I’m very happy to see he’s working on the series again and hope this means he’s feeling better, too.—Takehiko Inoue Now Drafting Return of Vagabond Manga.

And as a heads up! The Natsume Ono Manga Moveable Feast will be held from November 13 to November 20. The Feast is being hosted by Alexander Hoffman of Manga Widget. I thought it was going to be later this month, so I was caught a little off guard. Still, I’ll should have a small bunch of Ono quick takes ready for next week as well as an in-depth review of the first volume of House of Five Leaves (my introduction to and favorite series by Ono).

Quick Takes

Cage of Eden, Volume 1 by Yoshinobu Yamada. Part of the problem that I have with Cage of Eden is probably the result of having just recently read a couple of very good survival manga. I may have enjoyed the series a little more if I hadn’t. But then again, there are plenty of things that would annoy me about Cage of Eden regardless. The worst offense is probably the dialogue. This is manga, the text should be working to enhance the artwork, not describing every single detail that I can obviously see right there on the page. I don’t care about any of the characters at this point. They can just go ahead and get eaten by dinosaurs for all I’m concerned. Actually, the dinosaurs and other creatures are kinda cool. Go, team dinosaurs!

Close the Last Door, Volumes 1-2 by Yugi Yamada. One of the things that I like best about the works by Yamada that I’ve read so far is that the characters’ relationships are complicated and messy. There are no simple solutions and they all have to face the problems that they create for themselves in their lives. Nagai has been in love with his younger coworker Saitou for years. After acting as the best man at Saitou’s wedding, Nagai finds himself drowning his sorrows at a bar along with Honda, an ex-boyfriend of the bride. Things get more complicated from there. I liked Close the Last Door quite a bit. I also found it extremely amusing that Nagai’s moments of fantasizing/agonizing while in the office break room were constantly being interrupted.

Code:Breaker, Volumes 1-2 by Akimine Kamijyo. Only the first two volumes of this series have been published; I’m not sure if Kodansha plans on continuing it where Del Rey left off or not. I thought the first volume was significantly better than the second, but I would still really like to see where this series is going. Sakurakouji is one of the better female characters I’ve come across recently in a shōnen series. For starters, she’s not stupid or there just to be ogled (although there is some inexplicable boob gropage in volume two). I particularly like the fact that she is an accomplished martial artist. She is also definitely her own person. The story is told from her perspective, but the focus is really on Ogami at this point.

Dengeki Daisy, Volumes 1-3 by Kyousuke Motomi. I had heard good things about Dengeki Daisy, but I was still pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the first few volumes of the series. Sure, there is some silliness and a certain amount of suspension of disbelief is needed, particularly in the first volume. But, there are also some really interesting elements. The series seems to be less about the potential romance between Kurosaki and Teru, although that is certainly an important aspect, and more about the mystery surrounding the death of Teru’s brother Souchirou and his work. Many of the characters in Dengeki Daisy have some sort of connection to Souchirou. I want to know what happened and why Kurosaki feels so conflicted and guilty.

Guin Saga, Episodes 14-26 directed by Atsushi Wakabayashi. The English dub of the Guin Saga anime was never its strong point but it’s especially uneven in the second half. Malius in particular is simply terrible. (And for a minstrel, he really can’t sing.) However, ignoring that, I have been enjoying Guin Saga in all its epic glory. Although there is still some fighting, the second half moves away from the battlefield and deals more with court politics. The series still feels like a watered down version of a more complex narrative, but I’m just happy to have any version of such an influential story available in English. They did find a decent stopping place, but it’s obvious that there is plenty more story to go.