My Week in Manga: January 23-January 29, 2012

My News and Reviews

So, last week, Experiments in Manga hosted the Usamaru Furuya Manga Moveable Feast. It was a lot of work, and I stressed out about it quite a bit, but in the end I think I’d call it a success. I think I can even say that I enjoyed myself. I certainly have a sense of accomplishment. It will take me a little bit to completely recover, but I think it was worth it. February will mostly be reviews, but once March comes around I should be prepared to start reintroducing other features again. Please do check out the archive page; there were a lot of posts last week. Also, check out this month’s manga giveaway for Usamaru Furuya’s Genkaku Picasso, Volume 1. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, so you still have a couple of days to enter!

Quick Takes

Goong: The Royal Palace, Volume 1 by Park SoHee. I’ll admit, high school romances aren’t really my thing, but I still enjoyed the first volume of Goong. Probably because I enjoy a bit of court intrigue. The concept is interesting: What if a monarchy still existed in Korea? Chae-Gyung, a commoner, finds herself an unwilling participant in an arranged marriage with the Crown Prince Shin Lee. He’s not particularly happy about it either, mostly hoping that she’ll at least give his family a hard time. Shin Lee comes across as a jerk most of the time, but he fortunately isn’t a complete ass. It’s really hard to tell sometimes, though. The first volume also includes a lengthy interview with the creator, which is a nice touch.

Love Pistols, Volumes 1-5 by Tarako Kotobuki. Love Pistols (the title is actually Sex Pistols) is just so…entertainingly bizarre. Male pregnancy, animal souls, constantly shifting sexuality, gender and sex—I couldn’t help but like it. “Zoomanity” is generally more concerned about breeding than love, resulting in some very strange relationship dynamics and convoluted extended families. Fortunately, Kotobuki eventually provides a much needed family tree to help sort everything out. Kotobuki’s artwork sometimes leaves a bit to desire; body proportions, especially in earlier volumes, are frequently off. Tokyopop published the first five volumes of the still ongoing series; currently SuBLime is offering a digital edition, with the possibility of bringing the manga back into print.

Tesoro by Natsume Ono. Tesoro, which is the Italian word for “treasure,” collects fourteen stories and a gallery of Ono’s illustrations, mostly from earlier in her career. Many of the stories were previously only published in dōjinshi anthologies. Some of the elements that feature heavily in Ono’s later work are already evident here. Her love of food, gentlemen with glasses, family and interpersonal relationships, New York and Italy are all present. I found the stories to be delightfully charming and endearing. Some are funny and heartwarming while others are a touch melancholy or sad. Ono’s artwork is as distinctive as ever. It’s a lovely collection, certainly a must-have for any Ono fan. 

Redline directed by Takeshi Koike. Redline is one of the best looking anime that I have seen in a long time. Animated completely by hand, it is absolutely gorgeous. I love the color palette chosen. The anime’s got style and is an impressive achievement. However, I never really felt engaged by the story. Perhaps it’s my own fault as I’m not especially interested in racing. Despite the creative worldbuilding and fantastic character designs, I didn’t find the film to have much substance to it. I never felt particularly attached to any of the characters, either, even though I did like them. Still, Redline is a highly entertaining film and a lot of fun. I enjoyed watching it, and will probably watch it again. Visually, it is absolutely fantastic.