My Week in Manga: December 31, 2012-January 6, 2013

My News and Reviews

Probably the most important thing to take away from Experiments in Manga last week is the fact that I will be hosting January’s Manga Moveable Feast! This month, from January 20 through January 26, we will be focusing on the work of Moyoco Anno. I’d love to have as many people contribute to the Feast as possible, so please do check out the Call for Participation and the Archive.

Also announced at Experiments in Manga last week was the Shoujo Science Fiction giveaway winner. The post also includes a list of shoujo manga with science fiction elements that have been licensed in English. I revealed the ridiculous amounts of manga and anime I managed to acquire last month in December 2012’s Bookshelf Overload. Finally, I posted the first in-depth manga review of 2013! The honor goes to Ryo Hanada’s Good-bye Geist from Gen Manga. Even though some of the storytelling is a little awkward, I’m actually quite fond of Good-bye Geist as a whole.

Robot 6 posted quite a few previews and exclusives over this past week, including Shigeru Mizuki’s Kitaro from Drawn and Quarterly (which I’m looking forward to and already have preordered), Inio Asano’s Nijigahara Holograph from Fantagraphics (which looks amazing; I’ll definitely be ordering it), and the Western comics adaptation of Cyborg 009 from Archaia (which could either be great or go horribly wrong).

Elsewhere online, Noah Berlatsky of The Hooded Utilitarian wrote a great article on Moto Hagio’s The Heart of Thomas for The AtlanticThe Gay Teen-Boy Romance Comic Beloved by Women in Japan (Noah didn’t get to choose the article title). This led me back to an article I had forgotten about at The Hooded Utilitatraoin from a few years ago by J. R. Brown—1000 Years of Pretty Boys. Last week’s Jason Thompson’s House of 1000 Manga was particularly interesting, looking at The Greatest Manga Censorship Fails. Finally, I was recently reminded that The Golden Ani-Versary of Anime project has started. A group of anime bloggers are tackling anime’s timeline and devoting at least one post to each year beginning with 1963.

Quick Takes

Bad Teacher’s Equation, Volume 1 by Kazuma Kodaka. After reading the first volume of Bad Teacher’s Equation, I’m not entirely convinced that Kodaka knew what she was doing with the series at first. It also feels a bit dated, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Bad Teacher’s Equation is boys’ love with shounen influences. There’s a lot going on that doesn’t quite mesh yet—delinquents, basketball, car chases, cross-dressers, host/ess clubs, fujoshi, awkward relationships, etc. But despite it’s random goofiness, or maybe because of it, I actually really enjoyed the first volume of Bad Teacher’s Equation. I’ve heard that the manga gets much better from here, so I’ll definitely be checking out more of the series.

GTO: 14 Days in Shonan, Volumes 1-4 by Tohru Fujisawa. It’s been a few years since I read Fujisawa’s original Great Teacher Onizuka manga, but I do remember enjoying it. Fujisawa isn’t really doing anything new or different with 14 Days in Shonan. The artwork might be a bit more polished and the supporting characters and location have changed, but Onizuka is still Onizuka. There are plenty of other parallels to the original series, too. 14 Days in Shonan takes place in the middle of Great Teacher Onizuka, during the summer vacation after Onizuka was shot by fellow teacher Teshigawara. 14 Days in Shonan is fairly easy to jump into even if you haven’t read the original manga. The story and characters are still outrageous, over-the-top, and highly entertaining.

Please Save My Earth, Volumes 8-14 by Saki Hiwatari. I am still loving this series. These few volumes spend quite a bit of time delving into Shion’s backstory. He’s an extremely tragic character. His past has twisted him so much as a person that, while it is easy to feel sympathy for him, it’s difficult to actually like him. As fascinating as Rin and the rest of the characters’ past live are, it’s how they are dealing with those memories and leftover feelings in their current lives that I find particularly engaging. Their past lives are causing more and more trouble for them. The story of Please Save My Earth has become increasingly complicated and involved; I’m very curious to see how Hiwatari will bring things to a close.

Uzomuzo edited by Adam Pasion. Uzomuzo is a comics collective based in Nagoya, Japan made up of a group of international creators. The Uzomuzo book came about as a result of a Kickstarter project. Included in the collection are twelve hour comics, short stories, jam comics, and Kickstarter commissions. Most of the book is in English, but there is some untranslated Japanese as well. The contributors to Uzomuzo originally hail from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan. Uzomuzo is an interesting and somewhat curious collection of alternative and experimental comics and manga. I was particularly intrigued by the improvisational jam comics in which a different artist was responsible for each panel, riffing off of whatever came before.

King of Thorn directed by Kazuyoshi Katayama. Although I quite enjoyed Yuji Iwahara’s King of Thorn manga series, I do remember it being somewhat convoluted. The animated film adaptation is no less bewildering. In fact, it may even be more so. The film and the manga start out very similarly, but by the end they’ve gone in different directions. The pacing of the film seemed a little awkward. In the beginning, it’s almost tortuously slow, so the ending ends up having to be rushed in order to fit all of the plot twists in. Ultimately, I wasn’t always entirely sure what was going on, but there were some nice action sequences and the animation was pretty good, too. I do prefer the manga, though.

My Week in Manga: July 25-July 31, 2011

My News and Reviews

In my latest manga giveaway, I’ve got a brand new copy of Saki Okuse and Sankichi Meguro’s Ghost Talker’s Daydream, Volume 1 up for grabs. The contest ends this Wednesday, so you still have a couple of days to get your entries in! (Manga Giveaway: Ghost Talker’s Giveaway) Also this week, I managed to sneak in my second in-depth manga review for July. Usamaru Furuya’s Lychee Light Club left quite an impression on me. It’s definitely not a manga for everyone due to its highly graphic nature, but it is well done.

Good news for Wild Adapter fans! After being put on hiatus for so long, the series has found a new home! See Wild Adapter Moves to Ichijinsha at Manga Bookshelf for more information. If you enjoyed my post about Mahjong, Kubota, and Wild Adapter and like mahjong, you might also be interested in a post mentioned by a recent commenter. Ranith at Livejournal has a very cool and detailed breakdown and analysis of an important mahjong game that takes place in Saiyuki: Part 1 and Part 2. Well, I think it’s cool anyway, but then I love mahjong.

Last week was the Fruits Basket Manga Moveable Feast. I wasn’t able to participate this time around, but there were some fantastic contributions from other manga bloggers. You can check out the archive at The Manga Curmudgeon. In other Feast news, The Manga Critic has kindly posted the schedule for the upcoming Manga Moveable Feasts (Manga Moveable Feast Schedule, 2011-12.) You’ll even see my name listed there as a host! I’m both very excited and very nervous about it.

Quick Takes

Kizuna, Volumes 1-3 by Kazuma Kodaka. There was a lot of excitement from fans when Digital Manga rescued Kizuna from the Be Beautiful imprint of the now defunct Central Park Media. As for me, I wasn’t familiar with the series until now. So far, I’m liking the characters and, for the most part, the story. The balance between the yakuza elements and the boys’ love elements is handled fairly well. The art, however, is atrociously inconsistent and oftentimes just bad, especially early on in the series. But as the manga progresses, the artwork improves immensely and some of the bonus chapters show off Kodaka’s more current and much more polished style. I’ll probably follow Kizuna a bit further.

Tetragrammaton Labyrinth, Volume 1 by Ei Itou. Tetragrammaton Labyrinth ended up being a bit more fetishy than I originally anticipated, but I guess I’m not all that surprised. The manga has a slight yuri flavor to it, but it certainly isn’t the primary focus. The artwork is probably the best thing about this particular manga, but that’s not really saying much and the action sequences are often difficult to follow. Tetragrammaton Labyrinth is somewhat of a mess, and it just didn’t work for me. I haven’t been convinced by it the plot or the characters yet. I have no problem with fan service, but Itou has an unfortunate tendency to focus this service on Angela. She might not actually be a twelve-year-old girl, but she is in the body of one.

Tokyo Tribes, Volumes 1-2 by Santa Inoue. Tokyo Tribes is another manga that just didn’t work for me this week, albeit for slightly different reasons. Inoue’s artwork is nicely stylized and the English translation and adaptation is very well done. I even really like the covers for this series. However, the manga seems to glorify gang violence and all of the women in it are treated terribly. I actually liked Tokyo Tribes less and less the more I read of it. I don’t care about any of the characters or what might happen to them. In fact, there were several characters that I actively disliked. After two volumes, I don’t feel like I want to or even need to read any more of Tokyo Tribes and so I won’t be.

Two Flowers for the Dragon, Volume 1 by Nari Kusakawa. After several disappointments this week, I was very pleased to discover that the first volume of Two Flowers for the Dragon is absolutely delightful. I definitely want to track down the rest of the series, which will unfortunately be a bit expensive since CMX is gone and the manga is out of print. The final volume sadly never even made it into English. Shakuya is the next leader of the Dragon Clan. With the blood and power of a dragon running through her veins, she’ll be responsible for protecting the Oasis. But at the moment, she needs to choose between her two fiancés. Two Flowers for the Dragon has a lovely mix of fantasy and romance. And dragons!

Cross Game, Episodes 23-35 directed by Osamu Sekita. I never expected that I would come to care about baseball so much. Not that I ever had anything against the game, I just was never really all that interested in it. Cross Game has changed that. Because baseball is important to the characters, and the characters are important to me, baseball has also become important to me (at least in the context of Cross Game.) And I’ve learned a lot about the game from the anime—I never realized how much strategy was involved. But while Cross Game is to some extent about baseball, it’s still really more about the characters. I was a little hesitant about the introduction of Akane, but so far it’s been handled well.

Manga Giveaway: Crazy Karate Contest Winner

And the winner of my first ever manga giveaway is…PB!

As the winner of the Crazy Karate Contest, PB will be receiving a free copy of Rumiko Takahashi’s Ranma 1/2, Volume 11: Creative Cures.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the contest and got the word out to others; it is greatly appreciated. I hope to do more giveaways in the future and see an even bigger response. In the meantime, those of you who enter have a really good chance of winning some free manga.

So, this contest was about naming some martial arts manga and martial artist manga characters. Here’s what we came up with:

Samejima Ranmaru from Kazuma Kodaka’s yaoi series Kizuna: Bonds of Love is a skilled kendōka. Kendo is a martial art based on traditional Japanese sword fighting with a history dating back to at least the 12th century.

Asuka Masamune, “the manliest of men,” from Aya Kanno’s romantic shōjo comedy Otomen also studies kendo. He’s the captain of his team and has gone on to compete in the national championship tournament. He also excels at judo, a martial art that focuses on throwing and grappling, and karate.

In Yuu Watase’s Fushigi Yûgi: Genbu Kaiden, another shōjo series, Takiko Okuda is very competent with a naginata, a weapon that in Japan is generally associated with women, traditionally of the samurai class. A naginata is a pole weapon with a curved blade—sort of a mix between a short sword and a spear—that can be used to slash, stab, hook, or bludgeon an adversary.

Juline, the eponymous character of Narumi Kakinouchi’s Juline manga series, studies kung fu. A Chinese martial art, kung fu has a number of different styles that can vary widely from one another. I’m not familiar enough with Juline to identify which style is involved, but my dōjō offers training in both Hung Gar-Sil Lum (also known as the Tiger-Crane style) and Wing Chun.