My Week in Manga: November 18-November 24, 2013

My News and Reviews

I’ve never run a poll before, so I’m probably more excited about this than I should be, but you all currently have the opportunity to vote on my next monthly manga review project. I’ve narrowed it down to five different options—a mix of individual series and thematic collections—and am letting readers decide which manga I will be focusing on next. Check out the post for all the details. The poll will run through the end of November, so please come and vote!

Last week I posted my review of Hinoki Kino’s manga No. 6, Volume 3. I am very happy to be able to say that the series continues to improve. I’m really looking forward to the next volume. And for your reading pleasure, here are a couple of interesting articles that I happened across online last week: A Short History Of Japanese Sign Language (with a fascinating connection to manga) and Are Comics Too Hot For Apple?, about the impact of Apple’s inconsistent policies when it comes to digital comics, including manga.

Quick Takes

Darkside BluesDarkside Blues written by Hideyuki Kikuchi and illustrated by Yuho Ashibe. I think I’ve suspected it for a while, but reading Darkside Blues seems to confirm it—Kikuchi may have some great ideas and settings for his stories, but he can’t quite seem to focus long enough to pull them all together into something coherent. Darkside Blues features many of the elements that I’ve come to expect from Kikuchi’s work: a mix of near-future technology, magic, and bizarre horror; evil organizations bent on taking over the world, crushing those that would stand in their way; a tall, dark, and handsome (well, androgynously beautiful) anti-hero. I’m fairly certain the manga is related to Kikuchi’s Demon City universe, or at least it makes reference to it. There are some great scenes here and there, but the story as a whole is a mess and doesn’t make much sense. Kikuchi claims that the story is complete, but it feels like a small part of something much larger. However, I did like Ashibe’s artwork, and so will probably look into tracking down Bride of Deimos because of that.

Fairy Tail, Volume 32Fairy Tail, Volume 32 by Hiro Mashima. Now that the preliminaries are over, the Grand Magic Games proper have begun. Eight teams will be competing in the Games which consists of a mix of event challenges and battles. The teams themselves represent guilds that have been encountered in the series before as well as a few new ones. One thing that irked me a little was that there are actually two teams from Fairy Tail participating. That in itself didn’t bother me, but the fact that it was played up as a surprise (to both the readers and the characters) was unconvincing. Also, it has been established that Fairy Tail has always been one of the weakest guilds to participate in the Games, so I find it a little difficult to believe that not one but two teams made it past preliminaries this year. That annoyance aside, the event challenge in this volume was actually pretty interesting. I appreciate that the players have to put some actual thought and strategy into it instead of simply relying on who can out-magic the other. Magical skill certainly helps, but being clever is important, too.

I'll Be Your SlaveI’ll Be Your Slave by Miki Araya. I’ll admit it. I laughed. Several times. Out loud, even. I’ll Be Your Slave is so incredibly ridiculous, and intentionally so, that I just couldn’t help it. Moriya is having a difficult time finding the perfect model for his project when he happens across Ouno, a beautiful but extraordinarily lazy teenager. Fortunately, Ouno’s job will basically amount to him sitting around and looking pretty. He’s easily tired and loses interest in things quickly, but if he doesn’t want to put the effort into doing something he simply lets someone else do it for him. (This even includes walking from place to place.) Moriya is more than willing to pamper Ouno. Mopping up sweat? Check. Foot massages? Check. Sex? Sure, why not! I’ll Be Your Slave is definitely more of a comedy than it is a romance. The humor is great and the over-the-top reaction shots—complete with dramatic poses and bursts of sparkles—are hilarious. The characters admittedly don’t have much depth to them, but that’s also part of what makes the manga so funny.

Swan, Volume 1Swan, Volumes 1-3 by Kyoko Ariyoshi. While I appreciate and admire dance and dancers, and even watch dance performances from time to time, I’ve never had a particular interest in ballet. That’s probably the primary reason that it took me so long to get around to reading Swan. (It’s also out of print and some of the volumes can be a little hard to find.) But, I kept hearing how wonderful Swan was, so I finally made a point of seeking it out. I should have done it sooner, because it really is a fantastic series. I may not be a dancer but I am a trained musician; there are many parallels between the two arts seen in Swan with which I can personally identify. The importance of basics. The grueling practices that push the body, mind, and soul to their breaking points. The good-natured competition and the vicious rivalries. The passion, drama, frustration, and desire that go hand in hand with creative expression. The complete joy experienced with success and the utter despair felt at failure. Swan is incredible; I can’t wait to read more.