My Week in Manga: September 19-September 25, 2016

My News and Reviews

Last week at Experiments in Manga I posted an in-depth review of Human Acts, an incredibly beautiful, tremendously powerful, and absolutely devastating novel by South Korean author Han Kang. (Some may recognize Kang as the author of The Vegetarian which has earned her a fair amount of international attention and acclaim.) Human Acts is one of the best books that I’ve read in quite some time, but it’s a chilling and challenging read due to its subject matter. The book focuses on the violent Gwanju Uprising and its long-lasting aftermath, however it’s not at all necessary to be familiar with that particular incident to understand and appreciate the novel.

Elsewhere online, there was some very exciting licensing news: Pantheon Books will be releasing Gengoroh Tagame’s My Brother’s Husband! The impending English-language release has been hinted at, but now it’s official and I’m absolutely thrilled. Digital Manga’s Juné imprint also had a few licensing announcements from Yaoicon: Velvet Toucher’s Eden’s Mercy, the third volume of Yoneda Kou’s Twittering Birds Never Fly, and Junko’s The Prince’s Time. And over the weekend Yen Press slipped in an announcement for the acquisition of Tsukumizu’s Shojo Shumatsu Ryoko. A few other interesting things that I came across last include a video of Viz Media’s SDCC 2016 Panel, the Comic Book Resources feature “20 Years Ago, Dragon Ball Z Came to America to Stay,” and Otaku Champloo’s BL Manga Starter Kit. Also, a couple of recent queer comics Kickstarters caught my eye: Ngozi Ukazu’s already massively successful campaign to release Check Please!, Year Two and a project to raise funds for the final volume and omnibus edition of Jennie Wood’s Flutter.

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan, Volume 19Attack on Titan, Volume 19 by Hajime Isayama. For a while there I was starting to become a little weary of the sheer number of plot twists in Attack on Titan. Instead of renewing my interest in the story, I started to lose confidence in it. However, the more recent volumes of the series have regained some focus. The story developments and turns in the story are more exciting because of it, even if there are still a few major mysteries which have yet to be fully explained. The nineteenth volume of Attack on Titan is an exciting one as a massive confrontation between a contingent of intelligent Titans and the decimated Survey Corps begins. Eren, Mikasa, Armin, and the rest will have to directly face off against the Armored Titan and the Colossus Titan, knowing that the humans controlling them were once their comrades. It’s a kill-or-be-killed situation with very little room for negotiation. The action sequences in the nineteenth volume are dramatic and well-done, but the most notable aspect of the manga is probably the psychological impact that the battle for survival against one-time friends has on the characters. Also, for Attack on Titan fans who are interested in Levi and Erwin, the special edition of the nineteenth volume comes along with the second and final part of the No Regrets OVA anime adaptation. I haven’t had a chance to watch it myself yet, but I am glad that it’s available and am looking forward to seeing it.

CurveballCurveball by Jeremy Sorese. Although I’m only now finally getting around to reading Curveball, I’ve actually been meaning to for a while now. The comic was first brought to my attention when it became a finalist for the 2016 Lambda Literary Award for best LGBT Graphic Novel. And then at TCAF 2016 I had the opportunity to hear Sorese talk about Curveball specifically and queer science fiction in general. There are two things in particular that I especially love about Curveball. The first is the inherent queerness of the characters and worldbuilding. Numerous genders are represented in the comic and relationships, romantic and otherwise, occur in a multitude of combinations. The main character, Avery, is non-binary and there are a fair number of others who are genderqueer or genderfluid as well. This isn’t at all a big deal in the comic, it’s simply a natural and unobtrusive part of the setting. The second thing that I particularly enjoyed about the comic is Sorese’s use of color. The illustrations in Curveball are primarily grayscale except for the use of an extraordinarily vibrant and literally fluorescent orange to represent technology, and more specifically energy. The effect is very striking. Curveball is mostly about relationships, but the characters are also dealing with a developing energy crisis. The fluorescent orange and the occasional lack thereof is a constant visual reminder of this.

Seven Deadly Sins, Volume 15The Seven Deadly Sins, Volume 15 by Nakaba Suzuki. The stakes can’t get much higher than they are at the moment in The Seven Deadly Sins seeing as the fate of the entire world is in grave peril now that the extraordinarily powerful demons known as the Ten Commandments have been released. Granted, just about everyone and everything in The Seven Deadly Sins is extraordinarily powerful, so it’s sometimes difficult to get a good feel for the grand scale of the series; the shock and awe is frequently lost. Despite the tremendous abilities that everyone has and despite the massive amounts of damage dealt to both people and property, it ends up coming across as common rather than impressive. Recently Suzuki has resorted to having Hawk actually announce the combat classes and magic levels of the various characters are, but that just seems superfluous when there is effectively no difference between a class level of 3,370 and 5,500 on the page. Even so, the fight scenes and battle sequences somehow still manage to be engaging and entertaining and are honestly one of the best things about the series. The fifteen volume of the manga sees the Seven Deadly Sins starting to fight off the Ten Commandments on two separate fronts. First they must try to fend off the Commandment’s minions and are largely successful, but eventually one of the demons appears to confront them directly. By the end, things aren’t looking good for the Deadly Sins.

Yona of the Dawn, Volume 1Yona of the Dawn, Volume 1 by Mizuho Kusanagi. Even if it wasn’t for the fact that I tend to enjoy epic fantasy series with strong female leads, the amount of excitement surrounding the anime adaptation and the licensing announcement for the original manga series in English would have been enough for Yona of the Dawn to catch my attention and interest. Admittedly, Yona spends a large part of the series’ first volume in shock and barely able to function. The reason is understandable–she has witnessed the murder of her beloved father the king at the hands of one of the people she most loved and trusted in the world. The unexpected betrayal leaves her stunned; the only reason she avoids a similar fate is that her personal guard whisks her away from the palace. However, the very beginning of the volume implies that Yona will take control of her own destiny. That’s the story that I really want to read. I want to see Yona overcome her tragic circumstances, to find the strength to protect herself and those she loves. If the manga is able to deliver its promise (and I suspect that it will), Yona of the Dawn will indeed be a series well-worth following. While Yona comes across as weak and helpless for a significant portion of the first volume of Yona of the Dawn, showing Yona at her lowest does provide the necessary setup required for dramatic story and character developments. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of Yona of the Dawn.



My Week in Manga: June 13-June 19, 2016

My News and Reviews

Okay. So I don’t usually get very personal here at Experiments in Manga, but I feel it’s needed this time. Last week I had every intention of posting an in-depth review of Dawn, the first novel in Yoshino Tanaka’s renowned space opera Legend of the Galactic Heroes. But Thursday came along and I’d only managed to write a quarter of it and I finally had to admit to myself that it just wasn’t going to happen. And so while driving to and from taiko rehearsal that evening I took the opportunity to reevaluate some things and to try to find a sustainable solution for Experiments in Manga.

The last year and a half or so has been rough on me. Without going into unnecessary details, I have been under tremendous amount of stress at work, at home, and just in general with more and more responsibilities to take on and less and less time for myself. While my anxiety issues are fortunately mostly in check at the moment, being stressed out feeds directly into my depression which in turn feeds into being stressed out. It’s a miserable cycle that’s difficult to break. And it makes doing all of the things that I want to do nigh impossible, even if I actually had the time to do all of those things (which I don’t).

I can’t do much about the situation at work right now, and my options outside of work are limited, too, but one thing that I have complete control over is my blogging. While there are some very strong arguments to be made for me to completely give up writing at Experiments in Manga, that’s not really something that I’m prepared to do yet. However, I will be drastically changing my approach and will be writing less, at least for the time being. I’m hoping this won’t be permanent, but I will have to see how things go as I try to find some balance in my life.

And so: For now the My Week in Manga feature will continue to be posted as normal, as will the monthly manga giveaways. The Bookshelf Overload feature will still make an appearance every month, too. However, in-depth reviews and other long-form features will by necessity be posted more sporadically and won’t necessarily adhere to a specific schedule. To make up for this somewhat, the Quick Takes section of My Week in Manga will be expanded slightly to include my thoughts on novels and nonfiction works among other things. Even though overall I will be writing less, this means that I’ll be able to read more, and hopefully relax more, which will be very good for me.

Anyway! In happier news, according to the series’ translator, the second volume of Quantum Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner is scheduled for release later this year. (I reviewed the first volume when it was released and liked it so well that it made my list of notable works of 2014.) Kodansha Comics’ most recent creator spotlight features an interview with Akiko Higashimura. The latest manga Kickstarter campaign to launch is a project by Fakku and Toshio Maeda to release a remastered edition of Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend. Some pretty big news for fans of BL in translation, Japanese publisher Libre has cut its ties with Digital Manga. Sadly, though perhaps not especially surprising at this point, Digital Manga’s press release comes across as very passive aggressive and unprofessional.

Quick Takes

Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, Side: P3, Volume 2Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, Side: P3, Volume 2 by So Tobita. I haven’t actually played the Persona Q video game, but from what I hear from others, the manga adaptation remains true to its tone and main storyline. My knowledge of the original Persona Q, as well as my knowledge of Persona 3 and Persona 4 which directly tie into Persona Q, is admittedly cursory. Those who do not have at least some familiarity with the Persona franchise will be at a significant disadvantage when reading Persona Q, especially when it comes to understanding the characters and their personalities. Fortunately, I know enough to be able to appreciate the Persona Q for what it is—a fun and slightly silly adventure with puzzles, labyrinths, and cute artwork (much like the game itself, which I suspect I would greatly enjoy playing). The manga is very clearly an adaptation of an role-playing game as some of the side quests, boss fights, and other elements of gameplay remain quite evident, but the ways in which they are incorporated into the story are generally unobtrusive and make sense within the context of all that is going on.

Red Red Rock and Other Stories, 1967-1970Red Red Rock and Other Stories, 1967-1970 by Seiichi Hayashi. As far as creators of alternative manga go, Hayashi is fairly well represented in English with several volumes of manga available in translation. The most recent is Red Red Rock and Other Stories, a collection of thirteen of Hayashi’s short avant-garde manga as well as an accompanying essay by the volume’s editor and manga historian Ryan Holmberg. Most of the stories come from the influential alternative manga magazine Garo, but two of the selections were actually created for the magazine A Woman’s Self. Out of all of Hayashi’s manga currently available in English, Red Red Rock and Other Stories is probably one of the least immediately accessible. While Hayashi’s imagery can be stunning and appreciated by all, some of the short manga in Red Red Rock and Other Stories will likely be nearly impenetrable for a casual reader. But that’s where Holmberg’s informative essay comes in handy, explaining some of the references and historical context needed to fully understand the collection. I enjoyed the manga in Red Red Rock and Other Stories, but I also appreciated being able to learn more about them.

The Seven Deadly Sins, Volume 12The Seven Deadly Sins, Volumes 12-14 by Nakaba Suzuki. It’s been a while since I’ve read any of The Seven Deadly Sins, but I picked up the series again just in time for a major showdown. Granted, just about any of the fights that occur in The Seven Deadly Sins become epic battles simply because all of the combatants involved are so incredibly powerful. The action sequences are impressive, although sometimes it can be difficult to tell exactly what is going on. Some of the characters move so quickly only the results of their martial techniques are apparent. Occasionally Suzuki absolutely nails these sequences and they can be thrillingly effective, but just as often the action ends up being confusing. Suzuki also seems reluctant to actually kill anyone off which means the stakes don’t seem as high they should be. Well, except for the potential end of the world. At first it seems as though an apocalypse has been averted in these few volumes, but soon it become apparent it that it may have only been delayed. The Seven Deadly Sins still have plenty of fighting left to do, not only for the future of their world but also to overcome their past mistakes.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Volume 1: DawnLegend of the Galactic Heroes, Volume 1: Dawn by Yoshiki Tanaka. Thanks to Viz Media’s speculative fiction imprint Haikasoru, Tanaka’s award-winning Legend of the Galactic Heroes novels are finally getting an official English-language release. Although Dawn is largely a standalone novel, it feels even more like an extended prologue to the ten-volume work as a whole, providing an introduction to the setting and the war that is the focus of the series. Much of Dawn is devoted to two opposing factions, the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance, but there’s also the Phezzan Dominion, a third faction which ultimately isn’t as neutral as it first appears. While the cast of characters in Legend of the Galactic Heroes is fairly large, at this point the most is known about two rival strategists—the reluctant hero Yang Wen-li and the ambitious genius Reinhard von Lohengramm—and their closest cohorts. With strategists as some of the main characters, a fair amount of legitimate battle strategy is included in Dawn which I particularly liked. There’s also a significant amount of politics involved in the story and none of the factions come out of the first volume looking very good with their warmongering ways.

My Week in Manga: May 4-May 10, 2015

My News and Reviews

Despite spending a long weekend in Canada for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival and generally being very busy, I still managed to post a few things here at Experiments in Manga last week. To begin with, the winner of the Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches manga giveaway was announced. The post also includes a list of some of the manga available in English that feature witches. As for reviews, two were posted. The first was for Blade of the Immortal, Volume 31: Final Curtain, the last volume of Hiroaki Samura’s epic manga series. With that post, I have now written a review for every Blade of the Immortal trade collection in English. (At some point, I do hope to work on an Adaptation Adventures feature for the Blade of the Immortal anime, as well.) Last week’s other review is only very tangentially related to manga. I finally read Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, which is simply marvelous and I highly recommend the novels. I specifically read (and reviewed) Seven Seas’ recent omnibus edition which includes hundreds of delightful illustrations by International Manga Award-winning artist Kriss Sison.

As previously mentioned, I spent a portion of last week at TCAF and so was rather preoccupied. (I hope to post some random musings about the event later this week, most likely on Friday if I can’t manage to get the feature together that quickly. Otherwise, I’ll aim for next week.) Still, I did catch some interesting things online. For example, a recent episode of the Inkstuds podcast features Anne Ishii and Graham Kolbeins, the editors of the Massive anthology, talking about gay manga, its creators, and other related topics. Tofugu posted a couple of manga-related articles recently: an interview with Araki Joh and Exploring Shueisha. A few licenses were announced last week as well. Coinciding with the news that Masashi Kishimoto will be a guest at this year’s New York Comic-Con, Viz also announced new Naruto light novels, an artbook, and a box set. Seven Seas slipped in another license announcement, too: Tsukasa Saimura’s manga series Hour of the Zombie. And not to be left behind, Yen Press also made two license announcements on Twitter: Of the Red, the Light and the Ayakashi by HaccaWorks* and Nanao, and School-Live! by Sadoru Chiba and Norimitsu Kaihou.

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan: Before the Fall, Volume 4Attack on Titan: Before the Fall, Volume 4 written by Ryo Suzukaze, illustrated by Satoshi Shiki. Although Before the Fall has kept my attention since the beginning of the series, the fourth volume is the first volume that really excited and engaged me. Part of that is likely due to the introduction of a new character, Cardina Baumeister, who is much more capable than he initially appears. (Although, maybe it’s a bad thing that I find him more interesting than the series’ protagonist…) He and Kuklo are both prisoners who will soon be quietly and secretly sent to their deaths. The method of their planned execution? Abandonment outside of the walls, left to be consumed by the Titans. Fortunately for Kuklo, there are people who are invested in keeping him alive. But even considering that, surviving still won’t be an easy feat. At this point in the series, Before the Fall is beginning to tie in a little more closely with the established history and worldbuilding of Attack on Titan as a whole, which I like to see. The fourth volume reveals a bit more about the political and social settings of Attack on Titan in addition to having some exciting action sequences. I don’t really care much for how the Titans are drawn in Before the Fall, though. Or Sharle’s character design, for that matter.

Seven Deadly Sins, Volume 7The Seven Deadly Sins, Volumes 7-8 by Nakaba Suzuki. Happily, by the beginning of the seventh volume, the largely pointless tournament arc of Seven Deadly Sins is done and over with and the series is getting back on track with an actual plot. More of Meliodas’ personal history is revealed as are the motivations of the Holy Knights who are trying to incite a massive war. Another of the legendary Seven Deadly Sins is introduced in these volumes as well: Gowther, a rather peculiar young man known as the Goat Sin of Lust. I still haven’t been able to figure out the significance of the animals or even the sins as the relate to the warriors, which seems like a lost opportunity for Suzuki’s worldbuilding. Perhaps there really is no greater meaning, and the names are just supposed to sound cool. It’s also rather curious that, despite having been comrades who fought closely together in the past, the Seven Deadly Sins don’t seem to actually know who each other are. They don’t seem to pay attention to each other either; for example, Meliodas seems very surprised to discover a demon he is fighting used to be a Holy Knight when Gowther stated that very fact at the end of the previous chapter. But, while Seven Deadly Sins can be frustrating, there are very entertaining parts as well, like when Diane simply chucks her teammates forty miles when they need to cover distance quickly.

Your Honest Deceit, Volume 1Your Honest Deceit, Volumes 1-2 by Sakufu Ajimine. I believe that the short boys’ love series Your Honest Deceit is the only work by Ajimine to have been released in English. It’s a largely enjoyable manga, but for me it wasn’t a particularly spectacular one. However, I did appreciate that for the most part the story revolves around grown, adult men with well-established careers. In this particular case, Your Honest Deceit is about lawyers and their professional assistants. (Granted, if I’m in the mood to read about gay lawyers, I would generally prefer Fumi Yoshinaga’s Ichigenme… The First Class Is Civil Law. Or What Did You Eat Yesterday?, for that matter.) Kuze is the younger of the two men of the series’ primary couple. He went to law school and did exceptionally well in his classes, but he seems to not be interested in becoming a lawyer and is content working as a secretary for the older Kitahara, the lawyer and object of his affections and one of the school’s lecturers. Your Honest Deceit has its serious moments and misunderstandings, but Ajimine incorporates a fair amount of humor in the manga. At the same time, I’m not really sure that I would call it a comedy; Kuze and Kitahara’s burgeoning relationship is threatened by their own jealousies as well as by interference from other people, so it can be rather dramatic at time.

My Week in Manga: February 23-March 1, 2015

My News and Reviews

February has come to an end, but there is still time to enter Experiments in Manga’s most recent manga giveaway for a chance to win the first volume of Ken Akamatsu’s newest series UQ Holder!, published in English by Kodansha Comics. (The winner will be announced on Wednesday, so get those entries in!) Also last week, I posted two in-depth reviews. The first was of Yaya Sakuragi’s manga Hide and Seek, Volume 1. Because Sakuragi was my introduction to boys’ love manga I tend to be interested in and enjoy her work, but I think Hide and Seek may very well be one of her strongest series yet. The second review I posted was of Richard Reeves’ nonfiction work Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II. Technically the book won’t be released until April, but I received an advance copy from the publisher. It’s an informative though strongly worded examination of the internment camps and the service of Japanese Americans in the military during the war.

Elsewhere online, MangaBlog‘s Brigid Alverson has a new gig writing about manga for Barnes and Noble’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog. The Comics Journal has an interview with Breakdown Press, which includes additional information about its manga releases. Paste Magazine posted an overview of Fantagraphics’ manga publishing efforts. Seven Seas made two license announcements: Eiji Matsuda’s My Monster Secret and Kashiwa Miyako’s The Testament of Sister New Devil. Yen Press snuck some license announcements in over the weekend as well: Ryukishi07 and Souichirou’s Rose Gun Days: Season 1, Takatoshi Shiozawa’s Final Fantasy Type-0: The Reaper of the Icy Blade, and Daisuke Hagiwara’s Horimiya. Also of note, Drawn & Quarterly will be publishing a new paperback edition of Seiichi Hayashi’s Red Colored Elegy (bringing it back into print) which will include an essay by Ryan Holmberg not found in the original hardcover release. Finally, Graham Kolbeins put together a short documentary, The House of Gay Art, about a private museum in Japan devoted to the preservation of homoerotic artwork.

Quick Takes

His Favorite, Volume 1His Favorite, Volumes 1-7 by Suzuki Tanaka. I didn’t realize it at first since His Favorite is so completely different, but I actually read (and enjoyed) another of Tanaka’s boys’ love manga several years ago—her collection of short stories Love Hurts. Whereas Love Hurts tended to be a little on the dark side, His Favorite is most definitely a comedy. For the most part, it’s fairly chaste as well. I had actually intended to only read a few volumes last week, but I found myself enjoying the series so much that I ended up reading everything that is currently available in English. There’s really not much of a plot to His Favorite, just an entertaining set up and cast of characters. I especially adore Yoshida, the series’ protagonist who, with his short stature, unpopularity, and somewhat strange appearance, is an extraordinarily atypical boys’ love lead. Then there’s Sato, the other half of the manga’s main couple, who makes all the girls (and some of the guys) literally swoon. Honestly, although he has good looks, Sato is not a very nice person. He does, however, love Yoshida dearly. Of course, since he’s also a sadist, he loves tormenting and teasing him, too. While some aspects of their relationship are questionable, His Favorite is a genuinely amusing series.

Prophecy, Volume 2Prophecy, Volume 2 by Tetsuya Tsutsui. I was very impressed by the first volume of Prophecy and so was looking forward to reading the second a great deal. One of the reasons Prophecy works so well is that the intense social drama the manga deals in feels incredibly relevant. Paperboy’s desire for justice is understandable, but the methods employed by the group of vigilantes really can’t be condoned, though there are many who find their actions satisfying and even entertaining. The sudden shift in Paperboy’s popularity, the increase in the support of the group despite its blatant criminal activity, the appearance of copycats, the Anti Cyber Crimes Division becoming the villains in the eyes of the public, and many of the other developments found in the second volume of Prophecy are frighteningly believable. Internet culture can be extremely toxic and the manga presents a plausible scenario resulting from that. Though I didn’t find the second volume to be quite as compelling the first—much of the manga is focused on the chase rather than the character’s underlying motivations—Prophecy continues to be an excellent series; I’ll definitely be picking up the third and final installment.

The Seven Deadly Sins, Volume 4The Seven Deadly Sins, Volumes 4-6 by Nakaba Suzuki. Currently, the fights in The Seven Deadly Sins are probably what appeal to me most about the series, but they can also be a rather frustrating part of the manga. The problem is that when everyone is so incredibly overpowered, and because Suzuki seems to be making up new abilities and powers on the fly, the battles have a tendency to lose their meaning; it never feels like anyone is in danger of actually losing anything of significance. So far, when supposedly important deaths and sacrifices do occur in the series, it tends to be side characters who have barely managed to establish themselves that are falling victim. As a result, the impact isn’t as great as it could or should be. These particular volumes of The Seven Deadly Sins feature a good number of battles, which admittedly can be entertaining. Unfortunately, for the most part the plot falls by the wayside and the protagonists don’t even approach the fighting tournament that they have entered intelligently. However, I was happy that the fourth volume included a side story that explores Ban’s background a bit more since he continues to be my favorite character in The Seven Deadly Sins.

My Week in Manga: September 29-October 5, 2014

My News and Reviews

Last week at Experiments in Manga there were three posts in addition to the usual My Week in Manga feature. To start with, the winner of the Triton of the Sea manga giveaway was announced. The post also includes a list of some of the manga available in English that feature mermaids and/or mermen. Next was my review of Ryo Suzukaze’s novel Attack on Titan: Before the Fall, which is a prequel to Hajime Isayama’s original Attack on Titan manga series. I liked the premise of the novel much more than I did its execution, but it should still be pretty interesting for Attack on Titan fans. And finally, over the weekend, September’s Bookshelf Overload was posted. As for other interesting things online…I’ve been so busy at work lately that I’ve not really been able to keep up with all that’s going on. However, I do know that Seven Seas is currently in the process of revealing seven new licenses via Twitter. I’m pretty sure that Sean will be doing a wrap-up at A Case Suitable for Treatment soon which I’ll link to, but in the meantime you can always check out Seven Seas’ Twitter timeline. (There have been some really interesting choices so far!)

Quick Takes

My Little Monster, Volume 3My Little Monster, Volume 3 by Robico. I have been thoroughly enjoying My Little Monster and its cast of rather quirky characters. However, the third volume doesn’t seem to really move the plot along much, nor does it really develop the characters further. If anything, the series has lost its forward momentum and undoes some of the progress that has been made. After the various confessions of love from the previous volumes, Haru and Shizuku spend most of the third going through it all again. Shizuku has once more decided that she doesn’t have time for friendships or romantic relationships and wants to focus on her studies. Haru is fitting in a little better at school and is actually able to put the fact that everyone except Shizuku is terrified of him to good use, although he’s still fairly volatile and his behavior and obliviousness of others occasionally causes some real problems. So overall, not much has really changed in My Little Monster except that a few more hints have been dropped about Haru’s brother, whom I’m very curious about. I’m still enjoying the series and find its deadpan humor amusing, but I do hope to see more plot and character development in future volumes.

The Seven Deadly Sins, Volume 3The Seven Deadly Sins, Volume 3 by Nakaba Suzuki. As can be safely assumed from the cover, the third volume of The Seven Deadly Sins heavily features the newly introduced Ban, the Fox Sin of Greed. I’m okay with this because, well, I actually like Ban as a character. Despite being one of the Seven Deadly Sins and therefore being one of the series’ heroes (or at least one of its protagonists), Ban’s really not that nice of a guy. Frankly, he’s an unapologetic jerk (with a very nice set of abs and a fondness for alcohol, though he really can’t hold his drink). But, like the other Sins, Ban has a tragic past to go along with his arrogant personality. He’s also kind of a goofball. One of the things that I particularly enjoy about The Seven Deadly Sins is the ridiculously overpowered battles between the ridiculously overpowered characters. The action can sometimes be a little difficult to follow, but the resulting destruction is quite obvious. I’m also rather impressed by how well Suzuki visually handles Diane, the giantess of the Seven Deadly Sins. She’s huge, but her presence always seems very natural on the page and Suzuki does a nice job of incorporating her into the artwork.

The Shadow HeroThe Shadow Hero written by Gene Luen Yang and illustrated by Sonny Liew. Initially I wasn’t planning on picking up The Shadow Hero, most likely because I’m generally not that interested in superheroes. Fortunately I realized that was a very silly reason not to read the comic, especially considering that Yang is a fantastic writer and I really like Liew’s artwork and use of color. Long story short, I absolutely loved The Shadow Hero. The story of The Shadow Hero was inspired by an obscure superhero from the 1940s called the Green Turtle which was created by Chu Hing, one of the first Asian Americans to work in American comics. (The volume also contains a reproduction of the first Green Turtle comic, which was a nice addition.) The Shadow Hero serves as the Green Turtle’s origin story. Hank Chu is the son of a Chinatown grocer who looks forward to taking over his father’s store. His mother, however, has much bigger plans for her son and has decided that he will become a superhero, despite the complete lack of any superpowers. With a great story and great art, and plenty of humor to balance the more serious aspects of the comic, The Shadow Hero is definitely recommended.

Sleeping Moon, Volume 1Sleeping Moon, Volumes 1-2 by Kano Miyamoto. I tend to really enjoy Miyamoto’s work, so I was pretty excited when SuBLime licensed her short boys’ love series Sleeping Moon. I was particularly looking forward to it due to its supernatural elements, but in the end I didn’t find it as compelling as some of her other manga which are more firmly based in reality. Part of that is probably because much of the romantic relationship between two of the leads felt as though it was tacked on simply because the series was supposed to be boys’ love. Still, there were parts of Sleeping Moon that I enjoyed, and Miyamoto’s artwork is as lovely as ever. Akihiko’s family is cursed—the male heirs all die young, never making it past their thirties. And since his thirtieth birthday is fast approaching, Akihiko has a vested interest in discovering the truth behind the curse in order to prevent his own death and the death of his cousin. And that’s when the time slips begin—Akihiko finds himself spontaneously traveling to the Meiji era where one of his distant relatives is trying to unravel the same mystery. The moody supernatural and horror elements work better than the manga’s romance and the time traveling is handled quite well, too.