My Week in Manga: October 2-October 8, 2017

My News and Reviews

Last week at Experiments in Manga I announced the winner of the Assassin’s Creed manga giveaway. The post also includes a list of manga published in English that feature pirates of various types, including historical pirates, fantasy pirates, space pirates, and others. Then New York Comic Con (which is still going on) and Yaoi Con were held last week as well. I didn’t attend either event, but there were some announcements made by Kodansha Comics, Viz Media, and SuBLime Manga (which is technically Viz Media, too). Kodansha revealed plans to release Kenji Inoue and Kimitake Yoshioka’s Grand Blue Dreaming, Mitsurou Kubo’s Again!!, and Akiko Higashimura’s Tokyo Tarareba Girls in print. Among other things, Viz will be adding Hidenori Kusaka and Satoshi Yamamoto’s Pokémon Sun & Moon and Tenya Yabuno’s Pokémon Horizon: Sun & Moon and will be re-releasing Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys and 21st Century Boys in a hardcover edition in addition to speeding up the release of Kōhei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia. SuBLime announced a few new digital titles, but Ranmaru Zariya’s Coyote and Ogeretsu Tanaka’s Escape Journey will receive print runs, too.

Quick Takes

Aho-Girl, Volume 1Aho-Girl, Volume 1 by Hiroyuki. I only realized it after I finished the first volume of Ah0-Girl, but I’ve actually read another of Hiroyuki’s four-panel manga, Dojin Work, which was never released in its entirety in English. It’s been a long while since I’ve read Dojin Work, but I get the sense that in general I prefer that earlier series over this more recent one. Aho-Girl, while it did legitimately make me laugh on multiple occasions, tends to rub me the wrong way and I personally could have done without all of the sexual harassment being used as the basis for comedy. The dirty jokes I don’t particularly mind, though. As defined by first volume’s cover, “aho-girl” is Japanese for a clueless girl. Yoshiko Hanabatake, the series’ titular character, is indeed an astonishingly dense airhead. Oh, and she really, really likes bananas. Other major characters in the first volume of the manga include Akuru Akutsu, her long-suffering next door neighbor and supposed childhood friend (who doesn’t seem to have many friends in part due to his own unfortunate personality), her mother Yoshie, who would like nothing more than to see the two of the together, and Sayaka Sumino, a genuinely kind girl, classmate, and friend. As may safely be assumed, most of the humor of Aho-Girl revolves around Yoshiko’s sheer stupidity, for better and for worse.

Appleseed AlphaAppleseed Alpha by Iou Kuroda. An adaptation of sorts of the Appleseed Alpha anime, which itself is a spinoff of sorts of Masamune Shirow’s Appleseed manga, Kuroda’s Appleseed Alpha manga forms a prequel to the original story. Although to be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure exactly how the Appleseed Alpha fits into the larger Appleseed franchise since I’m not familiar with any of the other manga or anime. What drew me to the Appleseed Alpha manga was Kuroda’s involvement. It’s been a few years since I’ve read it, but I remember enjoying Kuroda’s alternative manga Sexy Voice and Robo, so I was glad to see more of the creator’s work with its distinctive illustration style released. Kuroda’s Appleseed Alpha was longer than I originally thought it was–Kodansha Comics’ hardcover edition is in fact an omnibus collecting the entire two-volume series, but somehow manages to look much shorter than it actually is. Appleseed Alpha is not a quick read although the plot and action moves at a fairly steady pace. The story follows Deunan, a very competent ex-SWAT officer, and her combat cyborg boyfriend Briareos as the couple makes their way through a dystopic cyberpunk Western version of the United States. Previous knowledge of Appleseed is not needed to enjoy Kuroda’s somewhat quirky contribution.

QQ Sweeper, Volume 1QQ Sweeper, Volumes 1-3 by Kyousuke Motomi. I greatly enjoyed Motomi’s earlier manga series Dengeki Daisy, so I was looking forward to giving another of the creator’s series a try, which is what ultimately led me to QQ Sweeper. (A few of the characters from Dengeki Daisy actually happen to make quick cameo appearances in the series, too.) Fumi’s dream in life is to find a prince charming to sweep her off her feet. Instead, she finds Kyutaro who has a fixation on literally sweeping. He has a pretty good reason for it, though. Kyutaro and his family are responsible for ridding the local area of dangerous infestations of malicious thoughts and psychological torment which manifest as bugs and physical cleanliness can go far to help with spiritual cleanliness. Of course, sometimes the bugs really are just bugs. For as seemingly silly and charmingly goofy as QQ Sweeper can often be–it can essentially be summed up as a supernatural cleaning manga–the series quickly becomes surprisingly dark. QQ Sweeper ends somewhat suddenly with the third volume and doesn’t really provide much of a satisfying conclusion, but fortunately the sequel series Queen’s Quality has been licensed as well. The series’ humor and seriousness occasionally seems a little off-balance, but I really liked QQ Sweeper and certainly plan on continuing with the story.

My Week in Manga: August 29-September 4, 2011

My News and Reviews

So, I had a bit of an ordeal yesterday. I went on a canoe trip with a small group of people. We were having a great time until we somehow lost the river and ended up in the middle of a cedar bog. We have no idea how that happened or where we were. We ended up being lost in the wetlands for a good four hours where we weren’t so much canoeing as hauling ourselves and boats through extremely difficult terrain. And I was barefoot. And there was a rainstorm. And there was muck that we would sink into up to our thighs. And being northern Michigan it was on the cool side. Fortunately, there weren’t any mosquitoes. But I did bring home a pet leech. Understandably, I’m extremely tired and sore; my feet and legs are an absolute mess and my back hates me. But we did manage to make it out alive and home without having to be rescued. So, what does this have to do with manga? Absolutely nothing. But if I die from gangrene later on and can’t continue this blog, you’ll have a pretty good idea why.

Anyway, back to manga. Last week was one of the expected slow weeks at Experiments in Manga. I posted the August 2011 Bookshelf Overload. Since Borders is going out of business my manga buying habits will have to change significantly. Also, don’t forget about the Joy of Josei giveaway. The winner of a brand new copy of Yumi Unita’s Bunny Drop, Volume 1 will be selected and announced on Wednesday. As always, the contest is open world-wide, so please enter!

Quick Takes

Crown Royale: A Boys’ Love Fairy Tale Anthology by Various. I am so glad I picked up a copy of Crown Royale when it first came out in 2010. Only 250 copies were printed, profits going to the GLBT National Help Center, and they are long gone. And it is a fantastic collection. Crown Royale is an original-English anthology that takes its cue from Japanese dōjinshi. It collects eight comics and three pinups inspired by a variety of fairy tales that have been given a comedic boys’ love twist ranging from quirky, to goofy, to sarcastic. It’s a lot of fun and I highly recommend picking up Crown Royale if you ever see it. I absolutely loved the anthology. (Side note: The cover is much prettier with details in gold foil, my scanner is just crappy.)

Detroit Metal City, Volumes 1-4 by Kiminori Wakasugi. Soichi Negishi, a timid hipster wannabe with dreams of becoming a popstar instead finds himself the lead singer and guitarist for the much more successful evil-core death metal group Detroit Metal City. He tries to keep his alter ego, Johannes Krauser II, a secret when he’s not on stage. Detroit Metal City is an incredibly vulgar manga and I was highly entertained for the first volume or so. For me, Detroit Metal City is probably best in small doses. After reading four volumes straight, I wasn’t convinced that Wakasugi was going anywhere with the story and the humor was dependent on slight variations of the same jokes. They were funny, even hilarious, the first few times, but frankly I was actually starting to get a little bored.

Dojin Work, Volumes 1-4 by Hiroyuki. Dojin Work (man, it makes me cringe that the title’s not transliterated properly) is a four-panel manga focusing on a small group of dōjinshi creators, many of which specialize in hentai manga. Najimi’s mostly in it for the money, although she comes to enjoy the work; unfortunately she’s terrible at drawing. But that doesn’t stop her from gaining some fans. Her friends are much more successful and less concerned with profit. It’s such a delightfully dirty, dirty manga with near constant sexual innuendos and gags. I probably won’t need to read Dojin Work again (technically there were two more volumes released in Japanese), but I was greatly amused by the series.

Dororo, Volumes 1-3 by Osamu Tezuka. Every time I read a work by Osamu Tezuka, I am always struck by what a skilled storyteller he is. This was my first time to read Dororo but I liked it so well that I have a feeling I’ll be coming back to it again. It has a great story with likeable characters, plenty of demons, and exciting sword fights. Tezuka’s art style tends toward the cartoonish, but he still manages to pull off some genuinely creepy imagery. Hyakkimaru travels the countryside hunting demons in order to earn back the body his father sacrificed to them, in the process gaining the companionship of a young thief named Dororo. Dororo was originally published by Vertical in three volumes but there will be an omnibus edition released in 2012. Buy it!

Fullmetal Alchemist: Season 1, Part 1 (Episodes 1-16) directed by Seiji Mizushima. I really enjoy Fullmetal Alchemist. I haven’t read the manga series yet to know how it compares, but I hear it’s pretty great, too. What I like about the anime is that there are so many layers going on. There’s the Elric brothers’ personal journey, the clash between science and religion, the debate about what science should be used for and the perils associated with it, as well as a few things that haven’t been fully revealed yet. I like just about every character introduced. Although Alphonse does seem awfully mature for how old he is supposed to be, I appreciate his relationship with his brother.