My Week in Manga: July 6-July 12, 2015

My News and Reviews

So, apparently last week was Shark Week, an annual event on the Discovery Channel. I don’t watch much television or pay attention to programming schedules, therefore it was a complete coincidence that both of the manga that I reviewed last week happened to include sharks! First up was my review of the deluxe hardcover omnibus of Junji Ito’s (comedy?) horror manga Gyo: The Death-Stench Creeps. It’s an incredibly gross and absurd manga and will certainly not be to everyone’s taste. I was entertained by its outrageousness, but overall much prefer his earlier work Uzumaki: Spiral into Horror. The second review last week was of The Legend of Kamui, Volume 1, an influential historical drama by Sanpei Shirota. The manga was actually one of the earliest series to be released in English back in the 1980s. Fortunately, it’s still relatively easy to find even though it’s long been out-of-print. I really wish that more of the series had been translated, though; The Legend of Kamui is excellent.

A couple of interesting things that I came across last week: Shojo Beat’s tenth anniversary celebration continues with five questions for Julietta Suzuki and Haikasoru posted a translation of a conversation between authors Paolo Bacigalupi and Taiyo Fujii from 2013. (I recently reviewed Fujii’s debut novel Gene Mapper, and reviewed Bacigalupi’s novel The Windup Girl, which has been very well received in Japan, at my old review blog Experiments in Reading several years ago.) Last week was the San Diego Comic-Con, but most of the news and announcements seemed to be repeats of Anime Expo. However, there was one newly announced license that was huge: Udon Entertainment will be releasing Riyoko Ikeda’s influential shoujo classic Rose of Versailles! Among other good news, Udon rescued Moyoco Anno’s marvelous shoujo series Sugar Sugar Rune, which makes me very happy. (I reviewed Del Rey’s edition of the first volume a couple of years back.) Udon will also be releasing Yomi Sarachi’s Steins;Gate manga. Kodansha has picked up Kousuke Fujishima’s manga series Paradise Residence. Dark Horse will be re-releasing Hiroaki Samura’s epic Blade of the Immortal in an omnibus edition which is great news since some of the individual volumes are out-of-print and hard to find. (The series is also a favorite of mine.) A couple of other interesting SDCC/manga-related posts: myths from the Manga Publisher Roundtable and a summary of 2015’s Best and Worst Manga panel. Oh, and Shigeru Mizuki’s Showa: A History of Japan won an Eisner Award!

Quick Takes

The Demon Prince of Momochi House, Volume 1The Demon Prince of Momochi House, Volume 1 by Aya Shouoto. There were mainly two things that initially drew my attention to The Demon Prince of Momochi House, the beautiful and somewhat provocative cover illustration and the promise of beautiful and somewhat provocative yokai. Himari Momochi unexpectedly inherits a house when she turns sixteen. As an orphan, it’s the only connection that she has to a family that she has never known. But when she arrives, she discovers a couple of complicating factors: the house is a gateway between the human and supernatural realms, and it is already occupied. Honestly, the story’s setup feels a little forced and employs a few well-worn shoujo tropes; it remains to be seen whether or not Shouoto will do anything clever with them. However, the artwork is attractive and I actually really do like the underlying premise of the manga. Although I wasn’t blown away by the first volume of The Demon Prince of Momochi House, I did enjoy it. The series has great potential and the manga certainly delivers on its promise of beautiful spirits. While I’m not in a rush to read the next volume, I’ll likely continue with the series to see if it develops into something really special or if it will merely remain something that is enjoyable in passing.

Dengeki Daisy, Volume 13Dengeki Daisy, Volumes 13-16 by Kyousuke Motomi. It’s been awhile since I’ve read Dengeki Daisy, but it is a manga that I tend to enjoy. Since the final volume of the series was released in English relatively recently, I figured it was about time for me to catch up. Dengeki Daisy isn’t always the most realistic or believable series—frequently things will happen because they’re convenient for the sake of moving the story forward or are being used as a punchline rather than being a convincing development—but it’s still pretty great. The manga also handles the romance between Teru and Kurosaki very well, especially considering the eight-year gap in their ages. Interestingly, while the last volume quickly wraps up the main story, it’s actually mostly devoted to a small collection of side and bonus stories, generally of a humorous nature. The volume also includes Motomi’s debut manga, “No Good Cupid.” It’s kind of a fun send off for the series, especially as the final story arc is focused more on intense action and drama rather than the manga’s humor or the quirkiness of its characters. However, I always find Motomi’s author notes and commentary to be endlessly entertaining. I definitely plan on reading more of her work in the future.

NightSNightS by Kou Yoneda. Only a few of Yoneda’s boys’ love manga have been released in English, but I enjoy her work immensely and would love to see even more of it licensed. NightS is a collection of stories: “NightS,” about a transporter for the yakuza and an older man with whom he becomes entangled (in more ways than one); “Emotion Spectrum,” a high school romance with a bit of a twist on the usual sort of love triangle; and “Reply,” featuring the blossoming relationship between a car salesman and a mechanic. Although the anthology is called NightS, “Reply” is actually the longest and most involved work in the volume. But even the shorter manga feature well-developed stories and characters. They each come across as an individual with a distinctive personality. This is a particularly important aspect of Yoneda’s manga since the plots tend to be very character focused and driven—people and their relationships, romantic or otherwise, are key to her stories. There is a maturity to the storytelling, as well. And a great sense of humor. Though they aren’t comedies, at times the manga collected in NightS can be quite funny. Also, Yoneda’s artwork is excellent; especially impressive is her use of light and shadow to create drama, mood, and atmosphere.

My Week in Manga: April 9-April 15, 2012

My News and Reviews

This past week I posted two reviews. My first in-depth manga review in April was for Rohan at the Louvre by Hirohiko Araki. It’s a handsome hardcover volume with pages in full color. Araki’s artwork is fantastic. I really enjoyed the manga. Fun fact: It was commissioned by the Louvre Museum. I also reviewed the original Welcome to the N.H.K. novel by Tatsuhiko Takimoto which has had both anime and manga versions made from it. I enjoyed the novel so much that I’ll definitely be tracking down the adaptations as well.

Heads up! April’s Manga Moveable Feast, hosted by Kate Dacey at The Manga Critic, will begin on April 22nd. This month we’ll be focusing on Viz Media’s Signature imprint, home to some great series like Pluto and Vagabond just to name a couple. Also, voting started yesterday for the second Aniblog Tourney if you’re into that sort of thing. (Experiments in Manga has been included in the tournament this year.) Last week I mentioned that the nominees for this year’s Eisner Awards had been announced. Brigid Alverson, one of the judges, gives a sneak peek into the award process in Best Job Ever: My Six Months As An Eisner Judge.

Quick Takes

No Touching At All by Kou Yoneda. One thing that I’ve seen mentioned in most reviews for No Touching At All are problems with the translation; I’ll admit, it’s not the best that I’ve seen. But for me, the strength of the story and strength of the characters ultimately won out—I loved No Touching At All. Shima’s awkward introversion actually reminded me a lot of myself which was probably one of the reasons that I connected so well with the manga. He has difficulty accepting his own feelings and even more trouble accepting the feelings of others. Togawa on the other hand is more confident and straightforward. I found both of the lead characters to be realistic and their relationship believable.

Rumic World Trilogy, Volumes 1-3 by Rumiko Takahashi. Rumic World Trilogy is a collection of short manga of varying lengths by Rumiko Takahashi, mostly from early in her career. As with most short story collections, the stories tend to be hit-or-miss but Takahashi generally hits. Most of the stories in the Rumic World Trilogy tend towards the comedic although there are a few that are more serious, too. Rumic World Trilogy is not my favorite manga by Takahashi, but for the most part I enjoyed it. Probably my least favorite story was “Wasted Minds.” I found parts of it to be very amusing, but the five-part series seemed to drag on too long. I preferred the shorter stories which forced Takahashi to focus her storytelling a bit more.

Twin Spica, Volumes 5-8 by Kou Yaginuma. It makes me sad that the English release of Twin Spica hasn’t been more successful; I think it’s a wonderful series. From the very beginning of the newly established astronaut training program in Japan it has been made clear that only a few students will actually be given the opportunity to go to space. Asumi and her friends are mostly concentrating on their immediate coursework, but things will soon get more competitive—they all want a chance at space. Twin Spica primarily focuses on the feelings and relationships of its characters. Even with all of the science fiction elements (which I love), they feel like authentic people.

The Irresponsible Captain Tylor: OVA Series directed by Kōichi Mashimo and Naoyuki Yoshinaga. I had a lot of fun watching the initial anime series of The Irresponsible Captain Tylor and so made a point to seek out the OVA series as well. Unfortunately, the OVA series somehow lacks the charm of the original and I wasn’t as impressed by it. However, it was great to have the opportunity to spend more time with the characters. The OVA episodes, which take place not long after the original series ends, tend to focus on individual characters rather than the crew as a whole. I think this might be where the series goes astray—the characters seem to work better as a cast ensemble than on their own. Still, even if I didn’t like the OVA series as much as the original, I was entertained.