My Week in Manga: October 1-October 7, 2012

My News and Reviews

Last week was one of the slower weeks here at Experiments in Manga. The winner of the Shojo Beat manga giveaway was announced. The post also includes a list of fan favorite Shojo Beat titles. Shojo Beat is a fairly large imprint, and so it’s nice to have a place to start looking for manga to read. The Bookshelf Overload for September was also posted last week. And for my first in-depth manga review in October, I took a look at Osamu Tezuka’s Message to Adolf, Part 1 published by Vertical. As I’ve mentioned here before, Adolf was the first manga I ever read. It’s still great, and I’m thrilled that the series is available in English again. Finally, Chic Pixel has posted the call for participation for October’s Manga Moveable Feast. Later this month we’ll be taking a look a vampire-themed manga.

Quick Takes

The Drops of God, Volume 4 written by Tadashi Agi and illustrated by Shu Okimoto. The Drops of God is marvelously dramatic even if it isn’t always particularly believable. The characters are so incredibly intense in their love for wine and in their efforts to show each other up. I find the series very entertaining and I learn a lot while reading it, too. While I quite happily drink wine, I actually don’t know much about it; I find The Drops of God to be educational in addition to being a tremendous amount of fun. The artwork is also great—the visual interpretations of the characters’ experiences drinking wine are particularly beautiful. It’s an effective technique that nicely conveys the emotional responses.

House of Five Leaves, Volumes 7-8 by Natsume Ono. I love the House of Five Leaves manga, but ultimately I think I prefer the anime adaptation slightly more. (But that may just be because I encountered it first.) Still, there’s quite a bit in the manga that doesn’t make it into the anime, including additional characters and more explicit backstories. I particularly enjoyed the incorporation of Masa’s brother Bunnosuke, who is only mentioned in passing in the anime. But probably what I like most about House of Five Leaves is the development of Masa and Yaichi’s characterizations and their relationship to each other. Although there is a plot and occasionally even some action, House of Five Leaves is primarily character-driven, and I love these characters.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Volumes 9-12 by Hirohiko Araki. For an action and adventure title, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure frequently comes across a lot like a travelogue. Except instead of charming encounters in foreign lands, the intrepid travelers are constantly facing painful and horrifying death. Even Iggy, the dog, can’t escape attempts on his life. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is often deliberately absurd and outrageous; Araki’s storytelling is both clever and funny without really being a comedy. I’m still loving JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure‘s mix of humor, horror, action, and supernatural powers. The series revels in its own unique style. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is highly entertaining and I am thoroughly enjoying the ride.

Scandalous Seiryo University, Volumes 2-4 by Kazuto Tatsukawa. Despite having “university” in the title, I’m pretty sure this series takes place in a high school. Sometimes I enjoy Scandalous Seiryo University, sometimes I hate it. I’m not fond of rape jokes, but I like the main couple well enough and the supporting cast is great. The fourth volume of the English release actually isn’t a part of the series proper; it’s a side story taking place eight years after Scandalous Seiryo University. It has an entirely different tone than the original series and, surprisingly enough, absolutely no sex. (Sex is a fairly frequent occurrence in the main story.) A few of the characters’ personalities have been completely changed, but I did get a kick out of seeing everyone all grown up.

My Week in Manga: January 31-February 6, 2011

My News and Reviews

Like most weeks that occur at the ending of one month and the beginning of another, last week was pretty slow at Experiments in Manga. No new reviews, but there will be plenty coming up in the next couple of weeks, I promise. I did post January’s Bookshelf Overload and announced the Gantz Giveaway Winner (which also includes some interesting lists regarding manga and live-action adaptations).

The February 2011 Manga Moveable Feast, hosted by Sam Kusek at A Life in Panels, will begin on February 13 and features Keiji Nakazawa’s powerful manga series Barefoot Gen. I’ll be participating, reviewing Nakazawa’s autobiography as well as the first volume of Barefoot Gen. Otherwise, there’s not much news, either.

Quick Takes

Cute Beast by Amayo Tsuge. Cute Beast collects five of Tsuge’s boys’ love short stories, plus some extras. None of the stories are particularly outstanding, but they’re all pretty cute and most have some great moments of humor, except for the last story which features a skeazy English teacher. Fortunately, all of the uke exhibit a fair amount of backbone, confidence, and personality. My favorite story in the collection is probably the title story, particularly the bonus material that features its characters—I liked the goofy “tough-guy” who turns out to be an absolute sweetheart. The artwork is nice and clean but not particularly noteworthy except for some enormous eyes.

Fujoshi Rumi, Volume 1 by Natsumi Konjoh. I loved the first volume of Fujoshi Rumi so much that after finishing it I immediately put in an order for all of the other volumes currently available in English. There’s plenty of otaku humor and references, some that I didn’t always get on my own (granted, some of the characters didn’t always get it either), but the copious editor’s notes helped to keep everything straight. I thought it was hilarious. While Fujoshi Rumi pokes fun at otaku, it pokes fun at “normals,” too and Konjoh is never malicious. It’s a wonderful romantic comedy and I’m really looking forward to reading more of the series.

Gin Tama, Volumes 1-5 by Hideaki Sorachi. This is another new series for me with which I have fallen in love. I’m definitely going to be following it. Gin Tama is ridiculous, often absurd, and completely anachronistic—although I guess that is explained by the fact that aliens have invaded sometime during the Edo period. Obviously, technology will be more advanced. I mean, come on. The series is fairly episodic but there are plenty of recurring characters and running jokes that hold things together. I know there were references to other shōnen series that I probably missed, but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment one bit. The humor is very self-aware and strange, and I loved it.

Scandalous Seiryo University, Volume 1 by Kazuto Tatsukawa. I am not fond of rape being used as a comedic element. For the most part it is implied more than shown, but still; it’s an unfortunate choice, especially as it doesn’t really do anything to further the story. Scandalous Seiryo University collects three stories, one of which features a reversible couple which I am always a huge fan of. Occasionally, particularly in the final story, Tatsukawa’s artwork reminds me of Kazuya Minekura’s. I did like the couples and found most of the characters at least interesting, so I might try at least one more volume of the series. We shall see.