My Week in Manga: May 23-May 29, 2011

My News and Reviews

Last week was the May 2011 Manga Moveable Feast which focusing on Mitsuru Adachi’s Cross Game. I posted a review for the first English volume (equivalent to the first three volumes published in Japan). Next month’s Feast will feature Kazuya Minekura’s Wild Adapter, which is one of my favorites. I’ve got a couple things planned for it that I’m excited about. Or at least I am amused by them.

Since it’s towards the end of the month, I am once again holding a manga giveaway: Oh, Ono! The winner will be announced Wednesday, so you’ve only a couple more days to enter to win a copy of the first volume of Natsume Ono’s first volume of Natsume Ono’s Gente: The People of Ristorante Paradiso from Viz Media. On a related note, Blogger is having issues posting comments. If you have trouble submitting, please send me an email with the comment and I’ll make sure you get entered in the contest.

I promised I would start posting links again to interesting things I’ve come across recently, so I would like to bring your attention to a great interview with Cathy Hirano: Catching Up with Cathy Hirano. Hirano is the translator for Haikasoru’s editions of Noriko Ogiwara’s Tales of the Magatama (which I haven’t read yet). She also translated the first two Moribito novels by Nahoko Uehashi which I adore (I’ve also reviewed both books). Hirano talks a bit about both series in the interview.

Quick Takes

Andromeda Stories, Volumes 1-3 written by Ryu Mitsuse and illustrated by Keiko Takemiya. Ryu Mitsuse is an award winning science fiction author and Keiko Takemiya is an award winning mangaka who is no stranger to science fiction, so it is fabulous that the two of them were able to come together to collaborate on Andromeda Stories. I loved Takemiya’s artwork in this series. The character designs are attractive and the space imagery is gorgeous. The storyline might not be particularly innovative, and a few shortcuts in plot and characterization are necessary to tie everything together in three volumes, but I still found the manga to be engaging and I particularly liked the ending.

Japan: As Viewed by 17 Creators by Various. Japan is an interesting, and I would say successful, joint effort between French and Japanese comics artists. The French contributors who were invited to visit Japan and their Japanese counterparts each penned a short comic offering their own unique perspective on the country. I wasn’t familiar with most of the creators involved with Japan, but I was very excited to see that both Moyoko Anno and Joann Sfar made contributions. The great thing about anthologies is that they allow readers to get acquainted with a number of different creators and potentially discover artists whose work they would like to follow. At least, I know that was the case for me reading Japan.

Maiden Rose, Volume 2 by Fusanosuke Inariya. I didn’t find the second volume to be quite as strong as the first, but it is still very good. More characters are introduced, but personally I would have liked to see those already established further developed. However, I am interested in seeing how Inariya will bring the new plotlines together. Although there is less graphic sex than in the first volume, the relationship between Taki and Klaus continues to be a very intense and complicated one. I have no idea how things are going to turn out for them and the war makes their relationship even more difficult. I hope we get to see more of this series (which I believe is currently up to four volumes in Japan) available in English.

Between the Folds directed by Vanessa Gould. Origami is a traditional Japanese artform that has become a world-wide phenomenon not only as art but as science. It is incredible what people are able to accomplish and create with a single piece of paper, from very simple shapes to extraordinarily complex ones. The field continues to evolve and develop and more and more practical applications are being discovered. Between the Folds examines and exhibits the work being done by artists, mathematicians, educators, and scientists; the variety and creativity is stunning and beautiful. The documentary is a fantastic and fascinating look at what origami is accomplishing today. I highly recommend watching it!

My Week in Manga: August 23-August 29, 2010

My News and Reviews

I’ve become a reviewer for Netcomics! If you’re a manga blogger and are interested in reviewing and working with Netcomics you can send them an e-mail at info (at) netcomics (dot) com for more information. I had read several of Netcomics manga and manhwa titles before becoming an “official” reviewer and really enjoyed them.

Several more blogs have been listed in the News and Reviews section of the Resources page. First is All About Manga, written by Daniella Orihuela-Gruber, currently a freelance editor for Tokyopop. Manga Maniac Cafe is run by fellow manga fan and Michigander Julie. I recently discovered Tony Yao’s very cool site Manga Therapy which takes a look at the psychological aspects of manga, anime, and video games. Finally, the blog of one of my Twitter buddies, Ryu’s Dreams—I’m not sure how I missed that one the first time.

As for reviews posted this past week, I give you the first volume of the Spice & Wolf light novel series. Also this week, my first Library Love post features quick comments on manga that I’ve borrowed from the library. Over on my other book blog, Experiments in Reading, I have a review for Alex Bellos’ Here’s Looking at Euclid: A Surprising Excursion through the Astonishing World of Math. Although not related enough to cross-post the review here at Experiments in Manga, I mention it because the book has some interesting sections on Japanese counting, origami, Sudoku, soroban (Japanese abacus), and Japanese mathematicians, among other things.

Quick Takes

GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka, Volumes 1-7 by Tohru Fujisawa. I have huge admiration for teachers and what they do. Unfortunately, they don’t often get the respect and credit they deserve. Enter 22-year-old, ex-gang member Eikichi Onizuka who hates teachers but decides to become one, initially as an excuse to chase high school skirt. However, it turns out he makes an awesome, although unconventional, teacher who really cares about his students. Outrageous, often inappropriate, and utterly unrealistic, the manga is shaping up to be even better than the anime (which I thoroughly enjoyed as well).

Hikkatsu!: Strike a Blow to Vivify, Volume 1 by Yu Yagami. I enjoy crazy karate manga, so it makes sense that I would pick up Hikkatsu. Shota’s convinced that he can perfect the repair blow and on occasion pulls it off to great effect. Most of the time though he just ends up shattering things beyond recognition. The manga’s not particularly deep, but it’s funny with good comedic timing. Shota is definitely my favorite character although Asuka, introduced at the very end of the volume, is pretty bad-ass, too. The art and backgrounds tend to be rather busy, but I like Shota’s somewhat mopey character design. The characters are one-dimensional, and their single-minded focus makes them come across as a bit air-headed, but so far I don’t mind as long as the comedy is there.

Maiden Rose, Volume 1 by Fusanosuke Inariya. I’m almost surprised that this title wasn’t published under Digital Manga’s 801 division instead of the Juné imprint—the sex scenes are intense to say the least and Klaus has a tendency to be rather forceful. I feel bad for poor Taki who is obviously conflicted over their relationship. His reasons are revealed by the end of the first volume, much to the shock and dismay of Klaus. He never knew how much Taki was risking so that they could be together. The character designs are lovely, although the art occasionally has some minor continuity issues. The ending raises some questions about where Klaus’ loyalties lie. I’ll definitely be taking a look at the next volume.

Thirsty for Love written by Satosumi Takaguchi and illustrated by Yukine Honami. This one volume manga is mature and melancholy. Three high school boys are consumed by the loss of the girl they love and who loved them in return. The story is dark and heavy with complicated relationships. The three manage to find discordant comfort in each other, an intense mixture of love and hate as they grieve.  Honami is the same artist who worked on Rin! which I read last week, and I’ve really grown to like her style.

Kurau: Phantom Memory, Episodes 10-16. I have continued watching this wonderful anime since last week. The beginning of the series seemed a little more episodic, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but this middle third of the series is much more cohesive plot wise. The strong characters are something that I love about this series. I still adore Kurau, Christmas is becoming more mature, and I was happy to see that their father plays an important role in story at this point. If you enjoy thoughtful science fiction, you should really give Kurau: Phantom Memory a try.