Manga Giveaway: Fullmetal Alchemist Giveaway Winner

Fullmetal Alchemist, Omnibus 1And the winner of the Fullmetal Alchemist Giveaway is…Naomi!

As the winner, Naomi will be receiving a copy of the first Fullmetal Alchemist omnibus released by Viz Media which collects the first three volumes of Hiromu Arakawa’s excellent manga. Because Fullmetal Alchemist is such a great series, and because Arakawa is such a great mangaka, for this giveaway I asked participants to tell me about some of their other favorite women mangaka. The responses were fantastic and I highly recommend reading the Fullmetal Alchemist Giveaway comments for all of the details. As usual, I also took the giveaway as an opportunity to compile a list. In this particular case, a list of some great shounen and seinen manga which are written or illustrated by women and are available in English.

Some great shounen and seinen manga by women mangaka:
Angelic Layer by CLAMP
Afterschool Charisma by Kumiko Suekane
Black Butler by Yana Toboso
Blue Exorcist by Kazue Kato
Blood+ by Asuka Katsura
Bloody Cross by Shiwo Komeyama
A Bride’s Story by Kaoru Mori
Code: Breaker by Akimine Kamijyo
Chobits by CLAMP
Chi’s Sweet Home by Kanata Konami
D. Gray-Man by Katsura Hishino
Deadman Wonderland written by Jinsei Kataoka, illustrated by Kazuma Kondou
Dorohedoro by Q Hayashida
Drug & Drop by CLAMP
Emma by Kaoru Mori
ES: Eternal Sabbath by Fuyumi Soryo
Flowers & Bees by Moyoco Anno
Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa
Gangsta by Kohske
Hikaru no Go written by Yumi Hotta, illustrated by Takeshi Obata
House of Five Leaves by Natsume Ono
Inu x Boku SS by Cocoa Fujiwara
InuYasha by Rumiko Takahashi
Kekkaishi by Yellow Tanabe
Lament of the Lamb by Kei Toume
Magi by Shinobu Ohtaka
Maison Ikkoku by Rumiko Takahashi
Mermaid Saga by Rumiko Takahashi
Mushishi by Yuki Urushibara
Nabari no Ou by Yuhki Kamatami
Noragami: Stray God by Toka Adachi
Pandora Hearts by Jun Mochizuki
Ranma 1/2 by Rumiko Takahashi
Reborn! by Akira Amano
Saiyuki by Kazuya Minekura
Sakuran by Moyoco Anno
Tactics by Sakura Kinoshita and Kazuko Higashiyama
To Terra… by Keiko Takemiya
Tsubasa by CLAMP
What Did You Eat Yesterday? by Fumi Yoshinaga
Wolfsmund by Mitsuhisa Kuji
xxxHolic by CLAMP
Zombie-Loan by Peach-Pit

This list is by no means exhaustive! Phenomenal women mangaka have created tons of great manga, far to many for me to list here. Also, thank you to everyone who shared their favorite women mangaka creators with me! I hope to see you again for the next manga giveaway, too.

Manga Giveaway: Fullmetal Alchemist Giveaway

It’s the last Wednesday of April (not to mention the last day of April) which means it’s time for the monthly manga giveaway here at Experiments in Manga to begin! This month you have the opportunity to win the first omnibus of Hiromu Arakawa’s wonderful manga series Fullmetal Alchemist as published by Viz Media. The omnibus collects the first three volumes of the series in one convenient package and makes a great introduction to Fullmetal Alchemist. (And for you collectors who like your manga to match, never fear! The final volume of the omnibus edition is currently scheduled for release this November.) As always, the giveaway is open worldwide!

Fullmetal Alchemist, Omnibus 1

Gender has been a fairly hot topic in comics over the last few years (if not longer). The discussion isn’t just about who is represented in comics, but who’s reading and creating comics as well. Amazing women creators are out there, and they have been for a long time.  This is not only true for comics in general, but for manga specifically. Women are and have been creating for all demographics. I am aware of plenty of women mangaka working in seinen and shounen, which are primarily aimed at men and boys, not to mention those who are working in josei and shoujo, which are primarily aimed at women and girls. Of course there are all of those manga that don’t neatly fit into one of the four main demographics and women are creating those, too.

Now, when I’m looking for manga to read, I’m looking for great characters, great stories, and great art. Whether the creator is a woman or a man (or any other gender for that matter) can be important, but for me it usually isn’t a deciding factor when it comes to choosing what to read. Sadly, that’s not true for everyone. I know of readers who will intentionally avoid the work of women creators, authors, and artists simply because they’re women. And they’re missing out on some fantastic material because of it. Take Fullmetal Alchemist as an example.

So, you may be wondering, how can you win a copy of the first Fullmetal Alchemist omnibus?

1) In the comments below, simply name one of your favorite women mangaka and tell me what you enjoy about her work.
2) For a second entry, name a shounen or seinen manga series (which hasn’t been mentioned by me or by someone else) that is written and/or illustrated by a woman.
3) If you’re on Twitter, you can earn a bonus entry by tweeting about the contest. Make sure to include a link to this post and @PhoenixTerran (that’s me).

And there you have it! Each person participating in the giveaway can earn up to three entries and has one week to submit comments. If you have trouble leaving a comment, or if you would prefer, entries may also be submitted via e-mail to phoenixterran(at)gmail(dot)com. I will then post the comments in your name. The giveaway winner will be randomly selected and announced on May 7, 2014. Good luck!

VERY IMPORTANT: Include some way that I can contact you. This can be an e-mail address, a link to your website, Twitter username, or whatever. If I can’t figure out how to get a hold of you and you win, I’ll just draw another name.

Contest winner announced—Manga Giveaway: Fullmetal Alchemist Giveaway Winner

Fullmetal Alchemist, Omnibus 1

Creator: Hiromu Arakawa
U.S. publisher: Viz Media
ISBN: 9781421540184
Released: June 2011
Original release: 2002
Awards: Seiun Award, Shogakukan Manga Award

My introduction to Fullmetal Alchemist was through the first anime series. The franchise is so popular that it has spawned a second anime series, films, light novels, drama CDs, and video games, among other merchandise, but it all began with Hiromu Arakawa’s manga series. Somehow, I am only now getting around to reading the Fullmetal Alchemist manga. Fullmetal Alchemist began serialization in Monthly Shōnen Gangan in 2001 and would later win the Shogakukan Manga Award for shōnen in 2004. The first three volumes of the series (out of twenty-seven) were originally released in Japan in 2002. Viz Media initially published the individual volumes in 2005 before releasing a “3-in-1” omnibus edition in 2011. I really enjoyed the first anime series (I haven’t seen the second one yet, though I do plan to); I saw the omnibus as a perfect way to finally give the original manga a try. And as much as I love the anime, I think the manga might be even better.

In alchemy, one of the most important rules that must be followed is the law of equivalent exchange—in order to gain something, something of equal value must be given. Even working within this constraint the science of alchemy is capable of amazing things, but it is still not able to solve all of humanity’s problems. Edward and Alphonse Elric learn this difficult lesson the hard way when their attempt to bring their dead mother back to life goes horribly wrong. Human alchemy is forbidden and the two brothers have paid the price. Al has lost his body and Ed lost one of his legs, further sacrificing an arm to save his brother’s soul. Now, in an effort to return their bodies back to normal, the brothers are searching for the philosopher’s stone. Ed even became the youngest state alchemist to have ever been certified in order to pursue the stone. It’s a military position of prestige, but more importantly it’s a position with research money and access to restricted resources.

I don’t know how far ahead Arakawa had the story planned when beginning Fullmetal Alchemist, but the world it takes place in is solid form the very start. Her artwork is strong and clear and is fairly straightforward with excellent page layouts that ease the flow of the story and help to emphasize emotional climaxes. Occasionally the fight scenes could have used an extra panel or two to clarify the action a bit more. While Arakawa’s artwork isn’t overly detailed, the world and characters of Fullmetal Alchemist are marvelously complicated and complex. There is a palpable tension between alchemy and religion and no easy answers are given. Science can be used for good or for ill; the alchemists have to make personal and moral choices and compromises and then deal with the consequences of those decisions. Science is capable of wondrous things, and it is also capable of terrible things. The fact that most alchemical research is funded by the military only complicates matters further.

The story of Fullmetal Alchemist is actually fairly dark, dealing with serious matters of life, death, sin, war, and responsibility. However, Arakawa includes enough humor that it never becomes overwhelmingly depressing. And even though the Elric brothers have a tragic past they don’t wallow in self-pity. Instead, while always being very conscious of their circumstances, they are determined to reach their goals, pushing forward one step at a time, showing tremendous strength of character. But while they are mature for their ages and have been through a lot together, they are still young. Most of the other characters in Fullmetal Alchemist are also dealing with difficult situations although some of them certainly handle it better than others. Fullmetal Alchemist is a fantastic series and an engrossing read. From these first three volumes alone I know that I want to see the story through to its end.

My Week in Manga: November 28-December 4, 2011

My News and Reviews

It took two weeks, but it looks like I’m nearly completely recovered from my headache of doom. I still wasn’t able to read for very long periods of time last week, but at least I could start to watch things again. Subtitles are still a bit of a strain though, as I discovered while watching Toward the Terra. Last week I posted the November 2011 Bookshelf Overload as well as a review of Osamu Dazai’s breakthrough novella Schoolgirl. Also, don’t forget about my latest manga giveaway, Give Me Some Gin Tama! Enter for a chance to win the first three volumes of Gin Tama.

And now, I am absolutely thrilled to report that the House of Five Leaves anime has finally been licensed for a Region 1 DVD release! I cannot begin to express how incredibly happy this makes me—NIS America News. And other news that I’m happy about—Jen Lee Quick to Resume OffBeat. This news is actually a bit old, but I just recently found out about it. I’m really looking forward to seeing the final volume of this series. Also of note, Brigid Alverson of MangaBlog (as well many, many other awesome sites) has been named as one of the judges for this year’s Eisner Awards—Judging time! And finally, Deb Aoki has a post on 12 Cooking Manga Good Enough to Eat. It’ a great list with some great manga on it. And if you like food manga (like I do), keep an eye out for the February 2012 Manga Moveable Feast to be hosted by Khursten Santos of Otaku Champloo which will feature Oishinbo and other food manga.

Quick Takes

Cardcaptor Sakura, Omnibus 2 (equivalent to Volumes 3-6) by CLAMP. There is definite potential that Cardcaptor Sakura could be too sugary sweet, but CLAMP skillfully balances the adorably cute with more serious themes of love and loss. I find Cardcaptor Sakura to be an incredibly enjoyable series to read. The characters are all very likeable. Even the secondary characters play important roles in the story and have very distinct personalities. I’m particularly fond of Yamazaki and his delightful tendency to make up completely ridiculous origin stories for just about anything. This omnibus marks the halfway point for the series and I’m eagerly awaiting Dark Horse’s next omnibus release scheduled for next year.

Hero Heel, Volume 1 by Makoto Tateno. Works by Tateno tend to be fairly hit-or-miss with me, and so I was somewhat surprised by how much I liked this first volume of Hero Heel. Minami has been working as an actor for three years and has yet to really make a name for himself. Although he’s not particularly enthusiastic about it, his agent convinces him to audition for a superhero show and he lands the heroic lead. His attitude starts to change when he realizes how talented and serious his openly gay coworker Sawada is about his work. Unfortunately, Minami’s admiration and curiosity turn into unwelcome infatuation. Tateno creates an interesting dynamic between Sawada and Minami and I’d like to see where things might go next.

King of Wolves written by Buronson and illustrated by Kentaro Miura. I wasn’t particularly impressed by Japan, another manga that Miura and Buronson worked on together, so I didn’t have high expectations for King of Wolves. The manga turned out to be kind of fun though, even if I couldn’t bring myself to take it too seriously and it was fairly predictable. The narrative does have some issues, particularly with pacing and flow. Some plot developments, like Iba’s domination of the north, are done and over so quickly that it makes me wonder why they were even included to begin with. It feels like the creators were simply shoving too much story into a single volume.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Season 2, Part 2 (Episodes 41-51) directed by Seiji Mizushima. Fullmetal Alchemist really is a fantastic series. I was very glad to see the Elric brother’s father finally introduced and all the disparate story elements are tied together nicely by the final episodes. Fullmetal Alchemist has a complex, engaging story and great, well-rounded characters. The good guys have their flaws and the bad guys have their admirable points. The series does a wonderful job exploring the grey areas of science, religion, morality, ethics, philosophy, war, revenge, and more. The characters are forced to repeatedly confront and take responsibility for their past mistakes.

Hetalia: Axis Powers, Season 2 directed by Bob Shirohata. Hetalia is probably not for the easily offended. Fortunately, I’m not at all easily offended so I quite often find it to be hilarious. I think the second season of Hetalia is even more consistently funny than the first. Even though the accents can sometimes be shaky, I really love the English dub of the series. The second season features more antagonism between Britain and France and other repeat appearances from the established cast. And Canada, oh Canada! finally gets a bit of screen time. One of the things I like best about Hetalia is that I actually do learn a bit of world history along the way in spite of (and sometimes because of) all the crazy antics.

Toward the Terra directed by Hideo Onchi. Toward the Terra is based on Keiko Takemiya’s award-winning manga series, published in English as To Terra… I was actually impressed by how much of the original story was able to be included in the anime adaptation. Granted, there were some plot developments in the movie that I only understood because I had already read Takemiya’s manga series. But, I do like the story and the anime catches most of the highlights. A utopian society has been established in order to protect the Earth but a new race of humans with psychic powers, known as the Mu, have evolved, posing a danger to the system. Also, Nozomi Entertainment’s remastered version of the film both looks and sounds great.

My Week in Manga: October 3-October 9, 2011

My News and Reviews

The winner for Experiments in Manga’s latest manga giveaway was announced last week—Manga Giveaway: Hikaru no Go Giveaway Winner. As part of the contest I asked people to tell me about the manga that inspires them. There were some great responses, so I hope you’ll take the time to check them out. I also posted the September 2011 Bookshelf Overload, if anyone cares about that particular feature.

There are a few links I’d like to point out this week. First is an essay posted on the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund website that was written by Melinda Beasi of Manga BookshelfVoicing an Opinion: Manga Bookshelf’s Melinda Beasi Talks Canada Customs Case. Beasi’s arguments are very well stated and I support them fully. I also read an interesting interview with Sean Michael Wilson, who edited the first volume of AX: Alternative Manga among other things—From Scotland to Japan. There was also an nice look at Takehiko Inoue’s Vagabond that I came across—‘Vagabond’: Takehiko Inoue creates a samurai masterpiece. Vagabond is a fantastic series and I highly recommend it. I’ve reviewed the first omnibus volume as well as Eiji Yoshikawa’s novel Musashi on which the series is based.

Finally, there have been some blogs added to the Resource page, so give them a look: Chou-Dori, Nagareboshi Reviews, OtakuStew, Read About Comics.

Quick Takes

Don’t Blame Me, Volumes 1-2 by Yugi Yamada. Don’t Blame Me is the first of Yugi Yamada’s works that I’ve read. It took a little while for the artwork to grow on me, but the story telling is excellent from the beginning. Don’t Blame Me doesn’t end with everything tied up nicely. Relationships are messy, complicated, and far from perfect. Yamada does a very nice job portraying this while still crafting a very satisfying ending. Additionally, Don’t Blame Me doesn’t just focus on the potential romance between the lead couple. Instead, there is a whole cast of characters that play an important part in the story. It’s nice to see everyone’s interactions and developing relationships.

Kekkaishi, Omnibus 1 by Yellow Tanabe. I really enjoyed my first taste of Kekkaishi; its a lot of fun. A few things make it stand out for me among shōnen fighting series. First and foremost are the two main characters. Both are very strong in their own ways and complement each other nicely. Yoshimori may be more powerful, but his rival and potential love interest Tokine is more knowledgeable, practiced, and generally more competent than her younger neighbor. They are both well-rounded characters, especially Yoshimori. Another thing I really like about Kekkaishi is the magic system used. Tanabe comes up with some really creative uses and applications for the cuboid force fields that Yoshimori and Tokine can create.

Kiichi and the Magic Books, Volumes 1-5 by Taka Amano. As a librarian, I feel a certain affinity for Kiichi and the Magic Books. Mototaro reminds me a bit of Ginko from Mushishi, which is not a bad thing at all. The series starts out as a solid little fantasy, but ends up going in some strange directions. While there were some elements I really liked—especially the power granted to books and librarians—ultimately, I’m not sure I completely got or was really convinced by the world’s mythology. Still, I enjoyed the manga, particularly the earlier volumes. I think Kiichi and the Magic Books will probably appeal more to younger readers than older audiences, but there’s good stuff to be found and the artwork is nice.

Kurozakuro, Volumes 1-2 by Yoshinori Natsume. I haven’t figured out exactly why, but Kurozakuro is surprisingly entertaining for such a mediocre series. There’s really nothing that makes it stand out story-wise or art-wise in these first two volumes and I’ve seen most of the plot elements before. Even the message the series is sending seems to be mixed. Mikito finally has the power to stand up for himself, but is basically told that he has to remain an underdog or die. However, I do like the change in art style between the dream sequences and reality, although the more abstract dream style occasionally bleeds over. Kurozakuro is only seven volumes, so it might be worth pursuing to see how and if it might improve.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Season 2, Part 1 (Episodes 29-40) directed by Seiji Mizushima. While I have seen the first season of Fullmetal Alchemist several times, this is the first time I’ve watched the second season. Much of this season is spent exploring the homunculi and their origins. I’m still not sure if there’s a deeper meaning to naming them after the seven deadly sins or not, but the symbolism certainly has the potential to be significant. There were a few twists thrown in that I probably should have seen coming but didn’t. Even if they were somewhat unexpected, they still make a lot of sense in the context of what came before. We learn more about Scar and his brother in these episodes, too.

Seven Samurai directed by Akira Kurosawa. Seven Samurai was the first film by Akira Kurosawa that I ever saw and it remains my favorite. If you’ve never seen Seven Samurai before, you should really take the three and a half hours to watch it. Not only is it a good film, it’s also a highly influential one. The premise is fairly simple: a group of samurai is hired by a farming village to protect it from bandits. But first the villagers will have to find samurai willing to fight for them for very little pay and no glory. Fortunately, they come across the charismatic Shimada and are able to win him over to their cause. Soon, more samurai follow, each for their own reasons. That’s when the real battle starts.