My Week in Manga: February 28-March 6, 2011

My News and Reviews

The Manga Moveable Feast for March is coming up in a couple of weeks (March 20-26), which I believe will be hosted by Linda at Animemiz’s Scribblings. The feast will be focusing on Aria by Kozue Amano. I’ve been meaning to read the series for a while now, so this will be a perfect excuse to finally get around to it.

Arguably the biggest happening in the world of manga last week was the news that Tokyopop will be laying off more of its staff. Brigid Alverson at Robot 6 wrote a passionate response (Tokyopop lays off senior editors) that got quite a few people talking. Daniella Orihuela-Gruber, a freelance editor at Tokyopop, offers a personal response to the news at All About MangaLife of a (Rookie) Editor: Love and Job Security.

A couple of weeks ago, Jason Thompson (Manga: The Complete Guide) wrote a post for io9 that I almost missed about the insane political satire and mahjong manga The Legend of KoizumiThe Legend of Koizumi: Japanese Politics, Mahjon Action and Space Nazis. It’s not currently available (legally) in English, but I hope that one day it will be. I tried to put a bug in Vertical‘s ear last time they were looking for license requests, but I’m not sure it was noticed.

Last week I announced the Have Some Hetalia Winner and posted the Bookshelf Overload for February. Also, a few more resources have been added to the Resources page: Animanga Nation, Anime, Manga and Manhwa Reviews, Animemiz’s Scribblings, and A Life in Panels (which I thought was already listed, but I guess not). And apparently green was the featured color for this week’s manga quick takes.

Quick Takes

Legal Drug, Volumes 1-3 by CLAMP. Currently, Legal Drug is on hiatus; there hasn’t been a new volume released since 2003. The first two volumes are somewhat episodic, although hinting at an overarching plot, while the third volume is primarily devoted to a single story. Things can be a bit confusing at times, and occasionally the plot is a little hard to follow, but I do like the overall story so far. Even more, I like the characters. Though, having only three volumes makes it difficult to really get to know them. But they certainly all have their own distinct personalities, and it’s a lot of fun to watch them interact. I found the artwork to be quite nice as well.

MPD-Psycho, Volumes 7-9 written by Eiji Otsuka and illustrated by Shou Tajima. I’m still not quite sure I understand everything that’s going on in MPD-Psycho, but I’m still completely fascinated by it. The artwork, too, while vaguely disconcerting is enthralling; it helps emphasize the creepy qualities of the story. I would really like to know what’s going on, so I hope that Dark Horse publishes another volume soon. The series is up to fifteen volumes in Japan, but the the last volume in English was released almost two years ago. Towards the end of last year I heard that Dark Horse planned to resume publishing, but I haven’t seen anything since then.

Natsume’s Book of Friends, Volumes 1-3 by Yuki Midorikawa. It’s been a while since I read the first volume of Natsume’s Book of Friends; I had forgotten how much I enjoy the series. It was first recommended to me because I liked Yuki Urushibara’s series Mushishi. Both series are primarily episodic, although Natsume’s Book of Friends has more recurring characters. They also both have a sort of nostalgic, melancholy feel to them. Natsume’s Book of Friends tends to have a bit more humor than Mushishi and is more approachable and straightforward for younger readers. But that doesn’t mean older readers won’t enjoy it, too. I know that I certainly do.

Saturn Apartments, Volume 2 by Hisae Iwaoka. Mitsu continues learning more about himself and his father in this second volume of Saturn Apartments. I’m enjoying watching as he allows himself to grow closer to the people he works with. I’m not entirely sure why, but I absolutely adored the entire conversation revealing Tamachi’s obsession with eggs. It’s amusing to watch everyone hang out and rib on each other. I’m glad the Mitsu is beginning to feel like part of the group, but I do still worry about him. There’s still a fair amount of mystery surrounding his father’s accident; I’m particularly interested in learning more about this aspect of the story.

Berserk directed by Naohito Takahashi. I am more or less obsessed with Kentaro Miura’s manga series Berserk, so it was only a matter of time before I picked up the anime as well. The storyline has been streamlined and focused but there were definitely parts that I missed. Some of the emotional impact is reduced, but there were still moments that gave me chills. Susumu Hirasawa’s soundtrack is great. Overall, it’s a fantastic adaptation; the most important aspects and themes of the story remain intact although the supernatural elements are downplayed (at least until the end). The anime does end rather abruptly; it probably could have used one or two more episodes to tie everything together better.

My Week in Manga: October 11-October 17, 2010

My News and Reviews

Finally, I have posted my first in-depth manga review in over a month—Brilliant Blue, Volume 2. I’m really going to try to post more manga reviews in addition to all of the reviews I post for novels and nonfiction. My goal right now is two in-depth manga reviews per month. Eventually I’d like to do one a week, but that would be pushing it for me right now.

In other news, I also reviewed the first Haruhi Suzumiya light novel, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Although it has a few issues, overall I found the book to hilarious and quite enjoyable. Also, be on the lookout for my next manga giveaway starting later this week. Enter for a chance to win a nice copy of Mushishi, Volume 6.

Quick Takes

Chi’s Sweet Home, Volumes 1-2 by Konami Kanata. This series is just so incredibly cute and adorable. Kanata has perfectly captured the felineness of Chi and the loving cluelessness of her adopted human family. The artwork, while simple, is marvelous. I’m very glad that Vertical chose to keep it in color—I think it would have lost some of its effectiveness otherwise. Chi’s babytalk really annoyed me at first, but I eventually grew used to it or was at least able to ignore it for the most part. I’m not sure how much this series will appeal to those who aren’t cat people, but I absolutely love it.

Love Hurts: Aishiatteru Futari by Suzuki Tanaka. Love Hurts is a collection of four stories, three of which are vaguely boys’ love and all of which are slightly on the dark side. The first two stories are very loosely related to each other while the others are completely separate. It’s kind of a strange collection with murderers, superheros, and aliens all playing their part. It’s not great but it’s certainly not horrible and I did enjoy reading it. Plus Koharu has simply got to be one of the cutest manga guys I’ve seen in a while and fortunately for me, he shows up in two of the stories.

MPD-Psycho, Volumes 4-6 written by Eiji Otsuka and illustrated by Shou Tajima. This series is turning out to be quite different than what I was expecting, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. From the first few volumes I thought it would be mostly about Kazuhiko Amamiya, but it turns out he’s a very small part in a very big picture that has yet to be complete revealed. Although the story is becoming more complex and convoluted, it is still utterly fascinating and I can’t help but want to read more. Tajima’s artwork continues to be fantastically unsettling, as does Otsuka’s story.

Song of the Hanging Sky, Volumes 1-2 by Toriko Gin. Published by the now defunct Go! Comi, only the first two volumes of what I believe is a four volume series have been released in English. Toriko’s character designs, which appear to be heavily influenced by Native American cultures, are simply beautiful. The story can be a little confusing at times, but things become more clear as the series progresses. The first volume introduces the characters while the second volume looks more closely at the tragic history of the ancient race of bird-people. I really hope someone picks up this license—it’s very different from most of the other manga I’ve read so far and quite lovely.

Yellow, Omnibus Editions 1-2 by Makoto Tateno. I had previously read the first omnibus edition but had forgotten how funny it was. The second volume takes a much darker turn, although some of the humor remains. Yellow is by far my favorite work by Tateno that I’ve read so far. Taki and Goh are simply marvelous together and the secondary characters are great as well. It’s starts off rather episodic, but by the end there’s a solid plotline going on. Sometimes the solutions to the riddles posed are rather ridiculous, and the drama can be over the top and completely unrealistic, but the series is a lot of fun to read. I’ll definitely be looking into Yellow 2.

Mushishi, Episodes 1-26. I love Yuki Urushibara’s manga series Mushishi and was excited to learn that an anime series of the story was also made. This has to be one of the most literal anime adaptations that I’ve seen—it’s like reading the manga except it has sound and color. The backgrounds and landscapes are absolutely gorgeous and the music lovely and atmospheric. Although the stories appear in a slightly different order, they’re all original to the manga. It’s not a series for everyone—it’s slow and episodic, and rather strange at times, but I love it.

My Week in Manga: October 4-October 10, 2010

My News and Reviews

Experiments in Manga has been going for two months now! So far I’ve been pretty happy with how things have turned out, but I am going to try to start posting more full length manga reviews. Unfortunately, the site search still isn’t working as well as I would like it to and I can’t seem to fix it—very frustrating. Just as a heads up: I’ll be posting the October giveaway next week and this time you’ll only have one week to enter instead of two. You have been warned.

This past week I posted a review for Natsuhiko Kyogoku’s novel Loups-Garous, published under Viz Media’s Haikasoru imprint. It’s an oddly fascinating piece of science fiction mixed with mystery. Library Love, Part 3 gives you a glimpse at some of the manga I’ve been borrowing from my local library—they’ve even thanked me for helping out with their circulation statistics, that’s how much manga I read. And finally, over on Experiments in Reading I reviewed the second book in Jane Lindskold’s Breaking the Wall series, Nine Gates. It’s heavily influenced by Chinese legend and mythology, but most importantly mahjong!

Quick Takes

Library Wars: Love & War, Volumes 1-2 by Kiiro Yumi. Based on the light novel series by Hiro Arikawa, which I really want to read now but it’s not currently available in English, this is one of two manga adaptations. The armed Library Defense Force has been established to protect books against censorship and defend readers’ rights. As a librarian myself, I really couldn’t pass up on such a great story concept. Iku is passionate about her work, but I really wish she wasn’t quite so scatterbrained. The second volume is better than the first so I’ll definitely be picking up the rest of the series and I hope it continues to improve.

MPD-Psycho, Volumes 1-3 written by Eiji Otsuka and illustrated by Shou Tajima. I’ve been reading and enjoying Otsuka’s The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service and thought I would give his more controversial MPD-Psycho a try. It’s gory, disturbing, and absolutely fascinating. Tajima’s art fits the story perfectly—it’s stylish and quite often disconcerting. After killing the serial murderer that attacked his girlfriend, Detective Yosuke Kobayashi’s multiple personality disorder is triggered and Kazuhiko Amamiya becomes the dominant personality. His complicated past is slowly revealed and I’m looking forward to reading more of the series to see where things are going to go.

Twin Spica, Volume 1 by Kou Yaginuma. This is really a lovely and heartfelt start to a manga series. I’ve heard so many good things about Twin Spica and they are all true. Asumi does seem to me to be too childlike for a fourteen-year-old, but she is a wonderful character and her interactions with other characters, especially her father, are great. I want to cheer her on as she pursues her dream to become an astronaut. While the art is on the cute side, the story is wistful and realistic near-future science fiction. I have a feeling I’ll be following this manga through to the end. Even after only reading the first volume, I highly recommend this series.

Vassalord, Volumes 1-3 by Nanae Chrono. This series got its start as a pinup illustration. No, really, it did. It’s a strange mish-mash of things that Chrono just felt like throwing together, and in an odd sort of way it works. When I heard that one of the main characters was a gay cyborg vampire who wants to be a priest and who works as a mercenary for the Vatican, I couldn’t pass it up. It’s outrageous, ridiculous, and frequently sacrilegious, but certainly unique. The action and plot are often confused and don’t always make much sense, but Chrono’s artwork provides some great eye-candy—especially with the sexy, sexy vampires Rayflo and Rayfell.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Episodes 1-13. The Ghost in the Shell film was one of the first anime that I ever saw and it made a big impact on me. So, I was excited when a television series came out based on Masamune Shirow’s original manga, but it wasn’t until now that I’ve gotten a chance to sit down and watch the whole thing. Yoko Kanno, one of my absolute favorite composers, is responsible for the soundtrack and it’s fantastic. Stand Alone Complex is divided into two different types of episodes, “Stand Alone” which stand alone and “Complex” which follow the Laughing Man plot line. I find that I really have to pay attention while watching otherwise I miss something important, but it’s good stuff.