My Week in Manga: July 11-July 17, 2011

My News and Reviews

As I am writing this, I’m sitting on the beach. Well, technically I’m sitting on a balcony overlooking the beach since I’m sure my laptop would hate me if I actually took it down to the sand. Either way though, I’m currently on vacation—the longest that I’ve been on in a very long time. Nearly two weeks!

Anyway. Last week I posted a couple of non-manga reviews. The first review was for Kaoru Kurimoto’s The Guin Saga, Book Two: Warrior in the Wilderness. I liked the second volume much better than the first and am starting to understand why this series is so well loved. The second review was for Ric Meyers’ newest book Films of Fury: The Kung Fu Movie Book. While mainly focused on Chinese films, I decided to include the review on this blog since Meyers’ addresses the portrayal of Japanese in kung fu movies among other things.

Coming soon is July’s Manga Moveable Feast (July 24-30). This month will feature Natsuki Takaya’s Fruits Basket. David Welsh at The Manga Curmudgeon will be hosting. I unfortunately won’t be participating this month, but I have read the entire series and look forward to seeing what everyone else has to say.

I’d also like to bring your attention to the latest Manga Out Loud podcast focusing on the first volume of Takako Shimura’s Wandering SonEpisode #41. As always, the podcast has some great conversation and discussion. I am terribly excited about this series’ release in English and will be posting my own review of the first volume later this week.

Quick Takes

Samurai Champloo: The Complete Series by Masaru Gotsubo. I adore the Samurai Champloo anime; it’s one of my favorites. Perhaps my expectations for the manga adaptation were set too high because of this. Overall, the manga just didn’t work for me and I found it to be rather dull. If I didn’t already care about the characters, I probably wouldn’t have cared about it at all. Even though most of the material after the first chapter is distinct from the anime, the manga still managed to feel like it was retreading old ground. It wasn’t all bad though, and I did like some of the characters that were introduced; both the unlikely magistrate and the Russian amused me greatly. Still, people will probably do better to just stick with the anime.

Seito Shokun!, Volume 1 by Yōko Shōji. Apparently, Seito Shokun is one of the very first shōjo manga to be published in English. Unfortunately, this means it’s somewhat difficult to find. I was extremely excited when I managed to get my hands on a copy of the first volume. It’s a bilingual edition, which makes it even cooler and makes for a nice Japanese language study aid. Naoko Kitashiro, who insists that everyone call her Nakki, is a delightful protagonist. She’s smart and energetic and utterly charming even if she is a little rough around the edges. Actually, her directness and honesty are some of the things that makes her so appealing. She’s a bit of a troublemaker, but that’s part of the fun.

Shout Out Loud!, Volumes 1-5 by Satosumi Takaguchi. Some people might find Shout Out Loud! to start out fairly slowly, and despite being a yaoi title, there is very little sex until towards the end of the series. But this series isn’t about the sex. Instead, it is about relationships and discovering the necessary balance between worrying about others and their needs and worrying about yourself and your own happiness. Shino is a voice actor who has been recently reunited with Nakaya, his high school-aged son. In order to support his son, who has moved in with him, Shino begins to take jobs he previously avoided, including boys’ love drama CDs. The art might not be spectacular, but Shout Out Loud! is a very well done manga.

S.S. Astro, Volume 1 by Negi Banno. Yonkoma, or four panel manga, tends to be pretty hit or miss for me, but I happened to really enjoy S.S. Astro. Many yonkoma available in English tend to feature cute girls doing whatever, but there aren’t that many that feature cute women (and men). S.S. Astro primarily follows four youngish female instructors and the various shenanigans they get into. Other teachers are introduced in a flurry about halfway through the book and I’d love a chance to get to know them as well as the main four protagonists, too. As far as I can tell, the series is on hiatus with only one volume released, but I definitely would pick up the next one if it’s ever published.