My Week in Manga: February 15-February 21, 2016

My News and Reviews

Last week was another one-review week at Experiments in Manga, but I should hopefully be back to the normal swing of things again soon. (Though it does seem as though one review per week is the new normal… ) As for the review itself, I took a look at the first omnibus of Planetes, an excellent series about space exploration and development by Makoto Yukimura. I don’t tend to double-dip when it comes to manga (Planetes was originally released in English by Tokyopop), but Dark Horse has done such a nice job with the new edition that I couldn’t help myself. I really enjoy Planetes and am very glad to see it back in print.

In licensing news, Jay’s manga adaptation of the BBC’s television series Sherlock will be released in English by Titan. Elsewhere online, Kodansha Comics posted an interview with Hiro Mashima and Viz Media’s Shonen Jump posted an interview with Kohei Horikoshi. The OASG hosted an interesting light novel roundtable in which my Manga Bookshelf cohort Sean Gaffney participated. And the Toronto Comic Arts Festival announced its second wave of featured guests, which includes Shintaro Kago and Faith Erin Hicks among other great artists.

Quick Takes

Chiro: The Star Project, Volume 1Chiro: The Star Project, Volume 1 by HyeKyung Baek. I picked up Chiro mainly for two reasons. The first was that the manhwa is one of Netcomics most recent releases. (Technically, it could even be considered a license rescue; Udon Entertainment published a few volumes of the series back in the day, which I also counted in its favor.) The second reason was that at some point Chiro apparently begins to play with gender in interesting ways. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen in the first volume and there is nothing else that does happen in the first volume that would convince me to read any further. No matter what directions the series might eventually take, I really did not like the beginning of Chiro at all. The lead is incredibly self-conceited and self-absorbed and her actions frequently make no logical sense whatsoever. The plot, too, seems to be lacking any real direction at this point and ends up being a mess of unfortunate cliches and tropes. At times I think Baek is intentionally attempting to be off-the-wall and absurd, but the humor and the series as a whole just isn’t working for me.

Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma, Volume 5Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma, Volumes 5-8 written by Yuto Tsukuda and illustrated by Shun Saeki. I tend to enjoy food manga, so it doesn’t really surprise me that I find Food Wars! to be entertaining. The fanservice is admittedly and purposefully ridiculous. People frequently lose their clothing not only figuratively but literally as their reactions to tasting exquisite food are nearly orgasmic. And there are plenty of delectable dishes to go around—these particular volumes bring to a conclusion the challenges of the school’s cooking camp and the beginning of the Fall Classic competition. One danger of a tournament-style manga like Food Wars! is the sheer number of characters that are introduced over the course of the series. Fortunately, Tsukuda and Saeki have so far managed to create a cast made up of characters who, while not necessarily being particularly nuanced or deep, are distinctive in their personalities and designs. Perhaps even more important is that they each have their own dramatic and over-the-top style of cooking. It’s especially interesting seeing the different approaches to cuisine pitted against one another.

Horimiya, Volume 1Horimiya, Volume 1 written by Hero, illustrated by Daisuke Hagiwara. Because I knew quite a few people who were very excited when Horimiya was first licensed I wanted to make a point to give the manga a try even though I didn’t really know much about it except for the fact that it was adapted from a webcomic. They were right to be excited—Horimiya is a delightfully sweet and charming series. The basic premise is similar to any number of other manga featuring a high school romance with quirky characters, but both the leads and Hagiwara’s execution of the story are so wonderful that I didn’t at all mind. At school, Hori presents herself as fashionable and upbeat, but she’s a bit frustrated with her family situation which requires her to be something of a homebody. Miyamura is a classmate whose reserved nature and social awkwardness hides the fact that he’s liberally tattooed and pierced. Neither of them are quite like the other expected but they fall into an easy and natural friendship with each other. I’m really looking forward to reading more of Horimiya. It’s cute, funny, and has a ton of heart.

Guest Post: The Infernal Devices Vol 1: Clockwork Angel: Manga Review

Not too long ago I reviewed The Infernal Devices, Volume 1: Clockwork Angel, HyeKyung Baek’s graphic novel adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s novel by the same name. While I am familiar with The Infernal Devices, I haven’t actually read any of the original trilogy. I do, however, know people who have and thought it might be interesting to get another perspective on the work. And so I decided to bribe my good friend Traci with manga in exchange for her thoughts on the adaptation. The video below (a first for Experiments in Manga) is the result. I’m extremely excited that she agreed and am very pleased to welcome Traci to Experiments in Manga!

Hello, all. My name is Traci and I am the mastermind behind the alwynuu channel and Traci Reads vlog on YouTube. I am a photographer by passion and trade and a wanderer, philosopher, and reader by desire and happenstance. I enjoy most things geeky and nerdy, odd literary adaptations, and any genre that includes some form of magic or supernatural business. Don’t be shy. Drop in on occasion and see what I’ve gotten up to and where I’ve wandered.

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The Infernal Devices, Volume 1: Clockwork Angel

Creator: HyeKyung Baek
Original story: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Yen Press
ISBN: 9780316200981
Released: October 2012

The Infernal Devices is a three-volume series of novels written by Cassandra Clare as a sort of prequel to her popular and longer series The Mortal Instruments. Now, I actually haven’t read either series myself, but because of their popularity and the fact that my youngest sister and some of my close acquaintances devour the novels, I am not entirely unfamiliar with them. I took notice when Yen Press announced that The Infernal Devices had been selected to receive a manga-style graphic novel adaptation. Manhwa artist HyeKyung Baek is adapting and illustrating The Infernal Devices for Yen Press. I’m not familiar with Baek’s previous work, but Yen Press has published her series Bring It On! and she is also working on Yen Press’ Gossip Girl adaptations. Clockwork Angel, the first volume of The Infernal Devices graphic novels which adapts the first novel of the original trilogy, was released in 2012.

After the death of the aunt who was looking after her, Tessa Gray leaves New York to join her brother Nathaniel in London. Upon her arrival she is almost immediately abducted. While being held captive by the Dark sisters, Tessa learns something she never knew about herself—she’s a shape-changer and not quite human. Suddenly, she’s thrust into a supernatural world of vampires, warlocks, and werewolves. And then there are the Shadowhunters—the Nephilim—who fight against the demonic forces that exist in the world. The Shadowhunters have taken a great interest in Tessa, as well, and take her in after rescuing her. She becomes particularly close with two young Shadowhunters, but Will and Jem both hide their own secrets. Tess isn’t the only one having a hard time in London, either; her brother has also disappeared. The only family she has left, Tessa will do everything she can to find him.

Since I haven’t read the original Clockwork Angel, I can’t really comment on how the graphic novel compares or even works as an adaptation. However, I do get the impression that readers who are already familiar with The Infernal Devices novels will be able to appreciate the graphic novel more than those who are not. Despite the often text-heavy adaptation, the magic system and mythology of Clockwork Angel is never thoroughly explained, which left me somewhat confused in places. The storytelling is a bit uneven as well, most likely the result of trying to incorporate too much of the original volume into a single graphic novel. But one of the things that frustrated me the most was that part of the reasoning behind the nefarious plots and schemes in Clockwork Angel was something that wasn’t even hinted at until it was reveled during the climatic final battle. The complete lack of lead-up irked me immensely.

But not all is bad in the Clockwork Angel graphic novel adaptation. I particularly appreciated the clever uses of Tessa’s shape-changing abilities. The graphic novel might be a little heavy on the dialogue, but there are some great one-liners, too. (However, the humor sometimes feels a bit out of place in what is predominantly a dark story.) At this point I’m not entirely convinced by the potential romance between Tessa and Will, but they do have some of the more interesting character interactions. Jem and Tessa have some great moments, too. But to be honest, Jem and Will’s stories interest me much more than Tessa’s. While some of Jem’s secrets have been revealed in Clockwork Angel, Will is still something of an enigma. I can’t say that the Clockwork Angel graphic novel has inspired me to seek out future volumes or even the original novels, but I am left intensely curious about Will. The graphic novel is choppy, but Clockwork Angel can be engaging and it ends with quite a hook.