My Week in Manga: January 9-January 15, 2012

My News and Reviews

I posted two reviews last week. The first was The Kouga Ninja Scrolls by Fūtaro Yamada. The novel was the basis for Basilisk and Shinobi: Heart Under Blade (see the quick take below) among other things. The second review was of Ryū Mitsuse’s Ten Billion Days and One Hundred Billion Nights, considered to be one of the greatest Japanese science fiction novels. I was so excited for this release that I bought the book in hardcover rather than waiting for a paperback edition. Also, the dust jacket glows in the dark, which is just cool. I had a particularly difficult time writing the review, but am very happy with how it turned out.

On to some fun stuff online! Digital Manga’s Kickstarter project to bring back Osamu Tezuka’s Swallowing the Earth was successful and so they’ve recently announced their next project to publish Tezuka’s Barbara in English. No Flying No Tights has another excellent list to peruse, this time focusing on must have anime titles for the uninitiated. And finally, Blog of the North Star has started a series of posts featuring mixed martial arts manga. Pay attention, there’s some great stuff, and three posts so far—Hopes for 2012: For chrissakes SOMEONE license an MMA manga, MMA Manga Top Contenders: Holyland, MMA Manga Top Contenders: Shamo.

And please remember! This coming Sunday, January 22, the Usamaru Furuya Manga Moveable Feast begins! This will be my first time hosting the Feast, so I hope you’ll all stop by and maybe even contribute. I’m nervous, but looking forward to it.

Quick Takes

Cromartie High School, Volumes 6-12 by Eiji Nonaka. The absurdity continues. Each chapter is rather short, but Nonaka starts to string more of them together as the series progresses. I think I actually preferred the shorter, but recurring jokes rather than the longer arcs, but they are still pretty amusing, too. Nonaka is parodying more than just juvenile delinquent manga with Cromartie High School, there are plenty of references to music and other pop culture as well. Only the first twelve volumes of a seventeen volume series made it into English translation. Fortunately, because the manga doesn’t have much an overarching plot, this isn’t too much of an issue. It would be nice to see the series finished, though.

Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo, Volumes 1-3 by Mahiro Maeda. I absolutely love the Gankutsuou anime and so was interested in seeing a slightly different imagining of the story. The manga starts out very similarly to the anime but soon goes off in its own direction, focusing more on the Count than on the younger generation. Some of the characterizations and story elements have also been changed. However, it did seem to me that the manga ended rather abruptly, just as the dénouement was about to begin. I certainly prefer the anime over the manga, but the manga does provide details not found in the anime, such as a more explicit exploration of who/what Gankutsuou is and the Count’s time imprisoned at the Chateau d’If. See the anime first, but the manga is also intriguing.

Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise directed by Hiroyuki Yamaga. Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise was a complete bomb at the box office when it was first released in 1987, but it has since been highly acclaimed and critically well received. The story follows Shirotsugh Lhadatt, a cadet in the space force only because his grades weren’t good enough to get into the navy. The space force is the joke of the military and no one really takes it seriously, including most of its members. Unexpectedly, Shiro volunteers to be the first man sent into space and the space force suddenly has a real purpose. The pacing is slow and deliberate and animation is fantastic. I really enjoyed it.

Shinobi: Heart Under Blade directed by Ten Shimoyama. Based on Fūtaro Yamada’s novel The Kouga Ninja Scrolls, the live action film Shinobi: Heart Under Blade continues the tradition of supernatural ninja. The Kouga and the Iga ninja clans have been fighting each other for centuries but a truce enforced by the Tokugawa shogunate has resulted in a temporary peace. When the truce is lifted, the clans find themselves once again at war, including Gennosuke and Oboro. They are the heirs of the rival clans, but they have fallen in love with each other. The ending is quite different from that of the novel, but is still very satisfying. The ninja battles are also highly entertaining.

My Week in Manga: January 2-January 8, 2012

My News and Reviews

It’s the first full week of the month, so as to be expected it’s a slower/less interesting week (for most people) here at Experiments in Manga. I announced the Manga Giveaway: Magical Girl Mania Winner, which also includes a list of some magical girl manga that has been translated into English. I also posted the Bookshelf Overload for December and did some updating and clean up on the Resources page. Normally, the next Library Love entry would have been posted last week, but since I’m busy preparing for the Usamaru Furuya Manga Moveable Feast to be held at the end of January, it looks like Library Love will have to wait until next month. But, if things keep progressing as smoothly as they have been (I’m working hard!), that should be the only post that I miss this month. Go me! I promise I’ll make up for it with a slew of posts during the Feast.

Quick Takes

Cromartie High School, Volumes 1-5 by Eiji Nonaka. I am really enjoying Cromartie High School. A ridiculous parody of yankī manga, the series is hilarious in a very deadpan, straight-faced sort of way. There’s not much of a continuing storyline or complicated plot although there are certainly plenty of running jokes. The artwork is deliberately reminiscent of Ryoichi Ikegami’s, which makes it even funnier. Cromartie High School is notorious for the number of juvenile delinquents and badasses in its student body. Supposedly Takashi Kamiyama (the only honor student at the school) is the main character, although he once didn’t make an appearance in the manga for two months straight during its serialization.

Expired Seafood: Stories Inspired by Mature Lovers by Various. I don’t remember how I first found out about Expired Seafood, but I’m glad I picked up a copy when I did since unfortunately it’s already gone out of print. If you ever wished the gentlemen of Gente and Ristorante Paradiso would start making eyes at each other rather than at the ladies, Expired Seafood is probably up your alley and worth trying to find. This original-English boys’ love (well, oyaji love) anthology collects eight comics and four pinups ranging from cute, sweet, goofy, and charming to tastefully raunchy. What the stories share in common is the love of older men in love (generally, with each other). After each comic, the creator is given space for a bit of freetalk and a chance to gush, which was a nice touch.

Goth directed by Gen Takahashi. Out of the three versions of Goth (the original novel, the manga, and the film), the film is the most different from the other two. Out of the original six stories, the film focuses on two. The film is deliberately slow in its pace, perhaps too slow for some viewers, and the amount of dialogue is minimal. The story is dark, but visually the film makes use of a lot of light and the color white, creating a very disconcerting effect. It is difficult to really get inside of the characters’ mindsets in the film, which is what made the novel so compelling. Still, the film has its own striking aesthetic and creepy atmosphere. The novel is still the best of the three versions, though.