My Week in Manga: June 20-June 26, 2011

My News and Reviews

Last week was the Wild Adapter Manga Moveable Feast, hosted by Manga Bookshelf. I was already very fond of Kazuya Minekura’s Wild Adapter and so was very excited to read everyone’s contributions. In addition to a few comments about the series as a whole in last week’s My Week in Manga, I also reviewed the first volume and posted some random musings about mahjong in relation to the series—Random Musings: Mahjong, Kubota, and Wild Adapter. I was very pleased with how well my mahjong post seemed to go over. Next month’s Manga Moveable Feast will feature Natsuki Takaya’s Fruits Basket and will be hosted by David Welsh at The Manga Curmudgeon.

And briefly, for a much better and complete look at the manga Hot Gimmick which I provide a quick take for below, see Jason Thompson’s recent House of 1000 Manga column: Hot Gimmick.

Quick Takes

Isle of Forbidden Love by Duo Brand. I’ve only read one other Duo Brand manga, but I tend to like their artwork. Isle of Forbidden Love is a nice but not outstanding one shot. I found the science fiction trappings, creating a legitimate excuse to mix Edo period Japan and firearms, to be much more interesting than the boys’ love elements. The romance itself felt too rushed to me to be realistic and I wasn’t convinced by how quickly the characters fall for each other. But other than that, I did like the story as a whole. The omake included are pretty great, too, especially the three “On the Edge” segments where Duo Brand discuss their sword and spear fetishes and how they like to incorporate them into their works.

Hanako and the Terror of Allegory, Volume 1 by Sakae Esuno. I’m a fan of Japanese folklore and urban legends and so am always interested in manga that explore them in some way, which is how I found out about Hanako and the Terror of Allegory. And with a title like that, I couldn’t pass up opportunity to give the series a try. The first volume features stories about the man with an axe under the bed, the slit mouthed woman, and the human-faced fish. I like the concept of the series where allegories and legends literally haunt people and Esuno does some interesting things with it. I particularly like Detective Aso. He’s completely fed up with investigating these strange cases and happens to be haunted himself. Also, he has an impressive porn collection.

Hayate X Blade, Omnibus 2 (equivalent to Volumes 4-6) by Shizuru Hayashiya. I’m really enjoying this series and hope that Seven Seas is able to license more of Hayate X Blade. It’s fun and goofy, plus, you know, it has cute girls and sword fighting. I appreciate the fact that there are so many unique and individual characters and that they all get a chance to shine. With such a large cast, there is plenty of opportunity for craziness and drama. Each pair of sisters-in-arms have their own issues to work out. The only thing that disappoints me about the omnibus collections is that the excellent translation and editors’ notes from the individual volumes are not included for some reason.

Hot Gimmick, Omnibus 1 (equivalent to Volumes 1-3) by Miki Aihara. Holy cow, Hot Gimmick is one extraordinarily twisted but addictive manga series. I’ve seen it described as a bodice-ripper in manga form and from what I’ve seen so far that seems to be pretty accurate. Poor Hatsumi is surrounded by utter assholes who only want to use her as a means to an end. Every once in awhile it seems like they might redeem themselves, but no, they’re still assholes. Even when she gets up the courage to stand up for herself it never works out for her. The only decent guy in her life seems to be her older brother, but that relationship has some complications to it as well. If only she hadn’t agreed to buy that pregnancy test for her younger sister…

Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Student Council Saga directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara. The Student Council Saga is the first of three boxed sets to be released by Nozomi and consists of the first twelve episodes of the Revolutionary Girl Utena anime. I had never seen the anime before but I have absolutely fallen in love with this series. It’s surreal and strange, but also extremely compelling. It is also frequently hilarious and always dramatic. There’s a lot plot-wise that hasn’t been explained, and I don’t know if it ever will be, but I don’t care. I can’t wait for the next box set, The Black Rose Saga, to be released. Revolutionary Girl Utena has easily become one of my favorite anime series.