My Week in Manga: December 19-December 25, 2016

My News and Reviews

Nothing other than the usual My Week in Manga feature was posted last week at Experiments in Manga. However, I still have a few things in store before the year is through. Later this week you’ll want to be on the lookout for the monthly manga giveaway for December. I’ve also been hard at work on my list of notable manga, comics, and other books that I’ve read that were released in 2016. That list should be ready to post in the very near future as well!

Quick Takes

The Demon Prince of Momochi House, Volume 2The Demon Prince of Momochi House, Volumes 2-6 by Aya Shouoto. It was the beautiful artwork and yokai that first drew The Demon Prince of Momochi House to my attention and that continues to be a large part of the series’ appeal for me. I’m also enjoying the story’s melancholic atmosphere as the manga explores themes of loneliness and the desire to belong. Himari, who is an incredibly sweet and caring person, is steadily building her relationships and friendships with the locals, ayakashi and humans alike. However, more the romantic elements of the series are admittedly less convincing. Although there is an underlying story about the mysteries surrounding Aoi and Himari’s efforts to free him from his tragic fate, The Demon Prince of Momochi House frequently almost seems episodic in nature as Himari is introduced to a variety of supernatural wonders and dangers. The seemingly directionless and less-than-cohesive storytelling can be frustrating and sometimes even feels a little shallow, but overall I find the series to be alluring and provocative and look forward to reading more.

What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Volume 9What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Volumes 9-11 by Fumi Yoshinaga. I am incredibly happy that What Did You Eat Yesterday? is being released in English, so it makes me sad that the series doesn’t seem to be doing especially well in translation. It’s a shame, because it really is a wonderful manga. While I certainly appreciate the food aspects of What Did You Eat Yesterday?, I particularly love the realistic and nuanced characterizations found in the series. The food is all well and good, not to mention beautifully illustrated, but it’s the characters and their relationships that really make the series work. Shiro’s character development has probably been the most interesting and satisfying. I’m very glad to see his relationship with his parents improving even after some significant setbacks. While he’s still not out in his professional life, it is clear that he is becoming more comfortable publicly expressing his sexuality. Fortunately, Shiro and his long-term boyfriend Kenji have the love, support, and acceptance of others which makes that easier. More recently, rather than their homosexuality, what they’ve had to worry about are Shiro’s aging parents and the rising cost of living.

Yowamushi Pedal, Omnibus 3Yowamushi Pedal, Omnibuses 3-4 (equivalent to Volumes 5-8) by Wataru Watanabe. Out of the recent spate of new sports manga being released in North America, Yowamushi Pedal is currently one of my favorites. I have seen a fair amount of the anime adaptation so at this point I am very familiar with where the plot is heading, but even so I still find the original manga to be immensely engaging. Before Yowamushi Pedal, I actually didn’t realize how much of a team effort cycling could be; it’s interesting to learn about the various strategies that can be used to win a race. These couple of omnibuses largely focus on Sohoku’s intensive training camp and also introduce some of the major competition. The characters are fun, some of them are frankly pretty cool, too, and they all have distinctive personalities. The Sohoku team especially is made up of a group of quirky but likeable and talented young cyclists. Art-wise Yowamushi Pedal could almost be described as ugly, but I really like its highly dramatic and energetic style. Watanabe probably uses more speedlines than any other artist I’ve seen, but the effect is great.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Volume 2: AmbitionLegend of the Galactic Heroes, Volumes 2-3 by Yoshiki Tanaka. Despite the nearly constant war and political upheaval present in the Legend of the Galactic Heroes novels, the series isn’t really that action-oriented. I suspect some people will actually find it to be rather dry and perhaps even textbook-like. With only the occasional bout of melodrama, the series quickly moves from one event or venue to the next and the cast of characters only continues to grow. (Granted, as this is war, not all of them survive very long after being introduced.) Because the scope is so sprawling sometimes it feels as though Legend of the Galactic Heroes lacks depth of story and characters, instead opting for a wider view and summary of major events. However, Tanaka does show how the complexities of societal, political, economic, and militaristic influences can impact one another. The books frequently read like a popular history, and the series actually reminds me a bit of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, too. So far I’m really enjoying the series and find its story and characters interesting. I like the focus on tactics and strategy as well as the influence that real-life history has had on the series.

My Week in Manga: July 6-July 12, 2015

My News and Reviews

So, apparently last week was Shark Week, an annual event on the Discovery Channel. I don’t watch much television or pay attention to programming schedules, therefore it was a complete coincidence that both of the manga that I reviewed last week happened to include sharks! First up was my review of the deluxe hardcover omnibus of Junji Ito’s (comedy?) horror manga Gyo: The Death-Stench Creeps. It’s an incredibly gross and absurd manga and will certainly not be to everyone’s taste. I was entertained by its outrageousness, but overall much prefer his earlier work Uzumaki: Spiral into Horror. The second review last week was of The Legend of Kamui, Volume 1, an influential historical drama by Sanpei Shirota. The manga was actually one of the earliest series to be released in English back in the 1980s. Fortunately, it’s still relatively easy to find even though it’s long been out-of-print. I really wish that more of the series had been translated, though; The Legend of Kamui is excellent.

A couple of interesting things that I came across last week: Shojo Beat’s tenth anniversary celebration continues with five questions for Julietta Suzuki and Haikasoru posted a translation of a conversation between authors Paolo Bacigalupi and Taiyo Fujii from 2013. (I recently reviewed Fujii’s debut novel Gene Mapper, and reviewed Bacigalupi’s novel The Windup Girl, which has been very well received in Japan, at my old review blog Experiments in Reading several years ago.) Last week was the San Diego Comic-Con, but most of the news and announcements seemed to be repeats of Anime Expo. However, there was one newly announced license that was huge: Udon Entertainment will be releasing Riyoko Ikeda’s influential shoujo classic Rose of Versailles! Among other good news, Udon rescued Moyoco Anno’s marvelous shoujo series Sugar Sugar Rune, which makes me very happy. (I reviewed Del Rey’s edition of the first volume a couple of years back.) Udon will also be releasing Yomi Sarachi’s Steins;Gate manga. Kodansha has picked up Kousuke Fujishima’s manga series Paradise Residence. Dark Horse will be re-releasing Hiroaki Samura’s epic Blade of the Immortal in an omnibus edition which is great news since some of the individual volumes are out-of-print and hard to find. (The series is also a favorite of mine.) A couple of other interesting SDCC/manga-related posts: myths from the Manga Publisher Roundtable and a summary of 2015’s Best and Worst Manga panel. Oh, and Shigeru Mizuki’s Showa: A History of Japan won an Eisner Award!

Quick Takes

The Demon Prince of Momochi House, Volume 1The Demon Prince of Momochi House, Volume 1 by Aya Shouoto. There were mainly two things that initially drew my attention to The Demon Prince of Momochi House, the beautiful and somewhat provocative cover illustration and the promise of beautiful and somewhat provocative yokai. Himari Momochi unexpectedly inherits a house when she turns sixteen. As an orphan, it’s the only connection that she has to a family that she has never known. But when she arrives, she discovers a couple of complicating factors: the house is a gateway between the human and supernatural realms, and it is already occupied. Honestly, the story’s setup feels a little forced and employs a few well-worn shoujo tropes; it remains to be seen whether or not Shouoto will do anything clever with them. However, the artwork is attractive and I actually really do like the underlying premise of the manga. Although I wasn’t blown away by the first volume of The Demon Prince of Momochi House, I did enjoy it. The series has great potential and the manga certainly delivers on its promise of beautiful spirits. While I’m not in a rush to read the next volume, I’ll likely continue with the series to see if it develops into something really special or if it will merely remain something that is enjoyable in passing.

Dengeki Daisy, Volume 13Dengeki Daisy, Volumes 13-16 by Kyousuke Motomi. It’s been awhile since I’ve read Dengeki Daisy, but it is a manga that I tend to enjoy. Since the final volume of the series was released in English relatively recently, I figured it was about time for me to catch up. Dengeki Daisy isn’t always the most realistic or believable series—frequently things will happen because they’re convenient for the sake of moving the story forward or are being used as a punchline rather than being a convincing development—but it’s still pretty great. The manga also handles the romance between Teru and Kurosaki very well, especially considering the eight-year gap in their ages. Interestingly, while the last volume quickly wraps up the main story, it’s actually mostly devoted to a small collection of side and bonus stories, generally of a humorous nature. The volume also includes Motomi’s debut manga, “No Good Cupid.” It’s kind of a fun send off for the series, especially as the final story arc is focused more on intense action and drama rather than the manga’s humor or the quirkiness of its characters. However, I always find Motomi’s author notes and commentary to be endlessly entertaining. I definitely plan on reading more of her work in the future.

NightSNightS by Kou Yoneda. Only a few of Yoneda’s boys’ love manga have been released in English, but I enjoy her work immensely and would love to see even more of it licensed. NightS is a collection of stories: “NightS,” about a transporter for the yakuza and an older man with whom he becomes entangled (in more ways than one); “Emotion Spectrum,” a high school romance with a bit of a twist on the usual sort of love triangle; and “Reply,” featuring the blossoming relationship between a car salesman and a mechanic. Although the anthology is called NightS, “Reply” is actually the longest and most involved work in the volume. But even the shorter manga feature well-developed stories and characters. They each come across as an individual with a distinctive personality. This is a particularly important aspect of Yoneda’s manga since the plots tend to be very character focused and driven—people and their relationships, romantic or otherwise, are key to her stories. There is a maturity to the storytelling, as well. And a great sense of humor. Though they aren’t comedies, at times the manga collected in NightS can be quite funny. Also, Yoneda’s artwork is excellent; especially impressive is her use of light and shadow to create drama, mood, and atmosphere.