My Week in Manga: May 16-May 22, 2011

My News and Reviews

I’m still being a slacker, so this section is going to be rather brief again. I promise to try to do a little better next week and find some interesting stuff for you all. Last week I showed a little love for Brigid Alverson’s MangaBlog as part of my Discovering Manga feature. I also posted a review of Issui Ogawa’s The Lord of the Sands of Time, one of Haikasoru’s debut titles from way back when (okay, 2009 really wasn’t that long ago…) I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of Ogawa’s works.

The Cross Game Manga Moveable Feast is already off to a great start so keep an eye on the index page over at The Panelists as it gets updated. As for me, I have a quick look at the first third or so of the anime adaptation and later this week I’ll be posting a review of the first Cross Game volume published by Viz (equivalent to the first three collected volumes in Japan.)

Quick Takes

Fujoshi Rumi, Volumes 2-3 by Natsumi Konjoh. I really hope we get more volumes of this series because I’m enjoying it tremendously. Abe has fallen for Rumi and hard, but the poor guy just doesn’t get otaku. He’s willing to learn, but he doesn’t always get it right and so their developing relationship is bumpy. I can’t help but root for him, though. Rumi is just starting to figure out she likes him. Chiba is having a bit more luck in his own romantic pursuits, but not by much. Both he and Matsui are incredibly stubborn. There are a ton of translations notes included to help readers keep track of all the pop culture references made, but even if you don’t take time to read them all the series is still funny.

King of RPGs, Volume 1 written by Jason Thompson and illustrated by Victor Hao. The second volume of King of RPGs is set for release this week, so I figured it was a good time reread the first volume. As a gamer, I really love this series and find it hilarious. A lot of the humor depends on at least a passing knowledge of RPGs and various other types of gaming and nerd culture. There are plenty of in-jokes and references, too, so someone not familiar with gaming will probably be lost. All sorts of nerdiness is displayed in King of RPGs: MMORPGs, table top RPGs, fantasy football, boardgames, collectible card games, miniatures, otaku, live action role playing, cosplay, Renaissance festivals, and more. And some of the characters, really, really get into what they’re playing.

Tokyo Babylon, Volumes 1-7 by CLAMP. I know quite a few people who love Tokyo Babylon, but I must admit I wasn’t particularly impressed by the early volumes. However, I did like the final few as things turn really dark and become less episodic. The series it’s actually pretty depressing; Subaru is never as successful as he would like to be and is very sensitive to those around him. And then there’s Seishirō, who proves to be problematic for him for a number of reasons. I liked CLAMP’s artwork in this manga which uses a lot of black space. I never quite got Hokuto’s sense of fashion, but I did like some of the outfits. Subaru and Seishirō’s story is apparently continued as part of CLAMP’s X series, which I haven’t read yet.

Azumi directed by Ryuhei Kitamura. Apparently the film is loosely based on Yū Koyama’s manga series Azumi, a fact I wasn’t aware of while watching the movie. Azumi is a member of group of orphans raised to be highly skilled assassians. Their mission is help secure the dominance of the Tokugawa clan by killing opposing leaders. However, the more Azumi becomes involved, the more she questions what they are doing. It’s an entertaining if somewhat mediocre film. The special effects are only okay and the choreography a bit awkward at times, although the huge battle towards the end of the film is pretty great. An interesting note on the language: Azumi speaks using a masculine form of Japanese.

Cross Game, Episodes 1-16 directed by Osamu Sekita. I’m not a huge sports fan and so I wasn’t sure if I would like the Cross Game anime or not. But from reading the manga, I did know that I at least liked the characters. So far, I find the anime a little slow going for my own personal taste, but I still enjoyed watching it and will probably watch more. The slower pacing works for the manga, but doesn’t transfer over to the adaptation quite as well. Or maybe it’s just that I can read through the baseball games (which don’t really interest me) more quickly than I can watch them. The anime does change up some things from the original, keeping it interesting even if you have read the manga.

My Week in Manga: January 31-February 6, 2011

My News and Reviews

Like most weeks that occur at the ending of one month and the beginning of another, last week was pretty slow at Experiments in Manga. No new reviews, but there will be plenty coming up in the next couple of weeks, I promise. I did post January’s Bookshelf Overload and announced the Gantz Giveaway Winner (which also includes some interesting lists regarding manga and live-action adaptations).

The February 2011 Manga Moveable Feast, hosted by Sam Kusek at A Life in Panels, will begin on February 13 and features Keiji Nakazawa’s powerful manga series Barefoot Gen. I’ll be participating, reviewing Nakazawa’s autobiography as well as the first volume of Barefoot Gen. Otherwise, there’s not much news, either.

Quick Takes

Cute Beast by Amayo Tsuge. Cute Beast collects five of Tsuge’s boys’ love short stories, plus some extras. None of the stories are particularly outstanding, but they’re all pretty cute and most have some great moments of humor, except for the last story which features a skeazy English teacher. Fortunately, all of the uke exhibit a fair amount of backbone, confidence, and personality. My favorite story in the collection is probably the title story, particularly the bonus material that features its characters—I liked the goofy “tough-guy” who turns out to be an absolute sweetheart. The artwork is nice and clean but not particularly noteworthy except for some enormous eyes.

Fujoshi Rumi, Volume 1 by Natsumi Konjoh. I loved the first volume of Fujoshi Rumi so much that after finishing it I immediately put in an order for all of the other volumes currently available in English. There’s plenty of otaku humor and references, some that I didn’t always get on my own (granted, some of the characters didn’t always get it either), but the copious editor’s notes helped to keep everything straight. I thought it was hilarious. While Fujoshi Rumi pokes fun at otaku, it pokes fun at “normals,” too and Konjoh is never malicious. It’s a wonderful romantic comedy and I’m really looking forward to reading more of the series.

Gin Tama, Volumes 1-5 by Hideaki Sorachi. This is another new series for me with which I have fallen in love. I’m definitely going to be following it. Gin Tama is ridiculous, often absurd, and completely anachronistic—although I guess that is explained by the fact that aliens have invaded sometime during the Edo period. Obviously, technology will be more advanced. I mean, come on. The series is fairly episodic but there are plenty of recurring characters and running jokes that hold things together. I know there were references to other shōnen series that I probably missed, but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment one bit. The humor is very self-aware and strange, and I loved it.

Scandalous Seiryo University, Volume 1 by Kazuto Tatsukawa. I am not fond of rape being used as a comedic element. For the most part it is implied more than shown, but still; it’s an unfortunate choice, especially as it doesn’t really do anything to further the story. Scandalous Seiryo University collects three stories, one of which features a reversible couple which I am always a huge fan of. Occasionally, particularly in the final story, Tatsukawa’s artwork reminds me of Kazuya Minekura’s. I did like the couples and found most of the characters at least interesting, so I might try at least one more volume of the series. We shall see.