My Week in Manga: December 4-December 10, 2017

My News and Reviews

Last week at Experiments in Manga I announced the winner of the Cache of Kodansha Comics giveaway. The post also includes a list of Kodansha Comics’ manga debuts from 2017. Before the year is over and Experiments in Manga enters retirement I will be holding one last manga giveaway. This week, however, I will be posting the final Bookshelf Overload feature. As for other thing found elsewhere online: Anime Feminist has been posting some really interesting content lately, including but certainly not limited to an interview with Arina Tanemura. Iron Circus Comix recently revealed that it would be releasing Japanese creator Sachiko Kaneoya’s first English-language collection. And speaking of Iron Circus Comix, the publisher’s most recent Kickstarter for Niki Smith’s erotic graphic novel Crossplay may also be of interest. Another Kickstarter project that is worth taking a look at is for the second volume of Minna Sundberg’s fantastic comic Stand Still, Stay Silent. (I enjoyed the first book tremendously.)

Quick Takes

ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department, Volume 1ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Department, Volume 1 by Natsume Ono. My first encounter with Ono’s work was through the anime adaptation of House of Five Leaves. After watching it, I immediately sought out the original along with Ono’s other manga available in English. I was very happy when Yen Press announced it would be releasing ACCA (which itself recently received an anime adaptation). The country of Dowa is divided into thirteen separate districts, each of which independently operates a branch of ACCA, a civil service-orientated organization. Jean Otus works for ACCA’s Inspection Department which is always on the alert for and investigates possible corruption within the agency. When the situation demands it, Jean’s colleagues at the office are shown to be quite capable at their jobs, but most of their time seems to be spent bantering over pastries. This does reinforce the perception that the Inspection Department has become superfluous in a time of peace and prosperity, but I also find it to be a delightful bit of characterization. The first volume of ACCA is a slow burn, but it has incredible atmosphere and I enjoyed it greatly.

Neo-Parasyte MNeo-Parasyte M by Various. It’s been a while since I first read it, but I still remember the huge impression that Hitoshi Iwaaki’s horror manga series Parasyte made on me. (I really need to reread it again sometime in the near future.) Last year Kodansha Comics released Neo-Parasyte F, a shoujo/josei anthology created as a tribute to the original Parasyte. It was a fantastic anthology, so I was very excited when its shounen/seinen counterpart (and technically its predecessor) was also licensed. As a whole, I think that Neo-Parasyte F worked better or at least more consistently for me than Neo-Parasyte M, but there are still some terrific stories in the collection. The roster of contributors is rather impressive, too. Of particular note, a piece by Moto Hagio opens the volume. As is to be expected, most of the short manga in the anthology require at least a basic familiarity with Parasyte to be fully appreciated. The twelve stories in Neo-Parastye M take a variety of approaches. Some are more serious while others are more comedic, and a few can even be described as endearing. Not every contribution is successful, but overall Neo-Parasyte M is a great collection.

My Week in Manga: January 7-January 13, 2013

My News and Reviews

Last week I posted the most recent edition of Library Love, a recurring feature in which I take a quick look at the manga that I’ve been reading from my local library. I also reviewed Frederik L. Schodt’s newest work Professor Risley and the Imperial Japanese Troupe. It’s a fantastic book and very easy to recommend, especially if you’re interested in Japanese history and/or 19th-century popular culture. And speaking of Frederik L. Schodt, The Japan Times Online recently posted a great interview with him—Frederik Schodt: Japan’s pop culture ambassador to the world.

This week I’ll be gearing up for the Moyoco Anno Manga Moveable Feast which will be hosted here at Experiments in Manga. The Feast will begin on Sunday, January 20. If you haven’t seen the Call for Participation, please do check it out. I’d love to see as many people as possible contribute to the Feast. I hosted the Usamaru Furuya Manga Moveable Feast last year which I think was fairly successful. I hope that I can manage to pull it off again! I really appreciate everyone who has helped to get the word out about the upcoming Feast.

Quick Takes

Danza by Natsume Ono. I’m a fan of Ono and so was very excited to see Danza licensed. Danza is a collection of six of her short manga, originally serialized in Morning Two. I quite enjoyed the volume. Thematically, all of the stories in Danza feature male-bonding and relationships of one sort or another (fathers and sons, coworkers, brothers, and so on.) I didn’t find Danza to be particularly stunning, profound, or life-changing, but it was a very satisfying collection overall. The stories range from the delightfully charming to the melancholic and bittersweet. Ono also tries her hand at science fiction (specifically time travel), a genre I haven’t seen her work in before, which was interesting to see.

Garden Dreams by Fumi Yoshinaga. Garden Dreams was the only work by Yoshinaga currently available in English that I hadn’t read yet. It’s a collection of four closely connected stories (although they might not appear to be related at first) surrounding the life and tragic loves of Baron Victor Bianni as well as the young man who becomes his personal bard. The artwork in Garden Dreams is fairly sparse, with very little use of backgrounds. This was a little disappointing since the manga takes place in a historical setting which I would have loved to have actually seen. But her characters are all attractive and their designs are all easily distinguished. Garden Dreams isn’t Yoshinaga’s strongest work, but it was still enjoyable. I particularly liked the manga’s trick ending.

Rurouni Kenshin, Omnibus 5 (equivalent to Volumes 13-15) by Nobuhiro Watsuki. A continuation of the long Kyoto story arc, the fifth omnibus of Rurouni Kenshin begins a sequence of duels as Kenshin and his allies begin to face Shishio and his underlings head on. These volumes are fairly action-packed and battle heavy, which I enjoyed. Granted, some of the fights can be rather ridiculous and over the top, but they’re exciting, too. Occasionally Watsuki’s action sequences can be difficult to follow, but many of the duels feature some very cool moves and techniques. I was very pleased to see Okinawan kobudō (which I study) show up. There’s also a fight in a library and even a cross-dresser in this omnibus for good measure.

Umineko: When They Cry, Episode 1: Legend of the Golden Witch, Volume 1 written by Ryukishi07, illustrated by Kei Natsumi. The first volume of Yen Press’ edition of Umineko collects the first two volumes of the original Japanese release. The manga is based on a series of visual novels (none of which I have played). Perhaps I would have a better opinion of the manga if I was more familiar with the franchise, but Umineko just isn’t working for me. Eighteen characters stuck on an island bickering over inheritance issues and I don’t care about or like a single one of them. Nearly 400 pages pass before anything even remotely interesting happens in the manga. Granted, the big revel is suitably and effectively shocking, but I’m not sure that the buildup was worth it.

My Week in Manga: October 1-October 7, 2012

My News and Reviews

Last week was one of the slower weeks here at Experiments in Manga. The winner of the Shojo Beat manga giveaway was announced. The post also includes a list of fan favorite Shojo Beat titles. Shojo Beat is a fairly large imprint, and so it’s nice to have a place to start looking for manga to read. The Bookshelf Overload for September was also posted last week. And for my first in-depth manga review in October, I took a look at Osamu Tezuka’s Message to Adolf, Part 1 published by Vertical. As I’ve mentioned here before, Adolf was the first manga I ever read. It’s still great, and I’m thrilled that the series is available in English again. Finally, Chic Pixel has posted the call for participation for October’s Manga Moveable Feast. Later this month we’ll be taking a look a vampire-themed manga.

Quick Takes

The Drops of God, Volume 4 written by Tadashi Agi and illustrated by Shu Okimoto. The Drops of God is marvelously dramatic even if it isn’t always particularly believable. The characters are so incredibly intense in their love for wine and in their efforts to show each other up. I find the series very entertaining and I learn a lot while reading it, too. While I quite happily drink wine, I actually don’t know much about it; I find The Drops of God to be educational in addition to being a tremendous amount of fun. The artwork is also great—the visual interpretations of the characters’ experiences drinking wine are particularly beautiful. It’s an effective technique that nicely conveys the emotional responses.

House of Five Leaves, Volumes 7-8 by Natsume Ono. I love the House of Five Leaves manga, but ultimately I think I prefer the anime adaptation slightly more. (But that may just be because I encountered it first.) Still, there’s quite a bit in the manga that doesn’t make it into the anime, including additional characters and more explicit backstories. I particularly enjoyed the incorporation of Masa’s brother Bunnosuke, who is only mentioned in passing in the anime. But probably what I like most about House of Five Leaves is the development of Masa and Yaichi’s characterizations and their relationship to each other. Although there is a plot and occasionally even some action, House of Five Leaves is primarily character-driven, and I love these characters.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Volumes 9-12 by Hirohiko Araki. For an action and adventure title, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure frequently comes across a lot like a travelogue. Except instead of charming encounters in foreign lands, the intrepid travelers are constantly facing painful and horrifying death. Even Iggy, the dog, can’t escape attempts on his life. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is often deliberately absurd and outrageous; Araki’s storytelling is both clever and funny without really being a comedy. I’m still loving JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure‘s mix of humor, horror, action, and supernatural powers. The series revels in its own unique style. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is highly entertaining and I am thoroughly enjoying the ride.

Scandalous Seiryo University, Volumes 2-4 by Kazuto Tatsukawa. Despite having “university” in the title, I’m pretty sure this series takes place in a high school. Sometimes I enjoy Scandalous Seiryo University, sometimes I hate it. I’m not fond of rape jokes, but I like the main couple well enough and the supporting cast is great. The fourth volume of the English release actually isn’t a part of the series proper; it’s a side story taking place eight years after Scandalous Seiryo University. It has an entirely different tone than the original series and, surprisingly enough, absolutely no sex. (Sex is a fairly frequent occurrence in the main story.) A few of the characters’ personalities have been completely changed, but I did get a kick out of seeing everyone all grown up.

My Week in Manga: April 16-April 22, 2012

My News and Reviews

Another week, another couple of reviews. I had the opportunity to review an advanced copy of Patrick W. Galbraith and Androniki Christodoulou’s Otaku Spaces from Chin Music Press. It’s a great volume that lets otaku speak for themselves. The book is easy to recommend. I also reviewed Blade of the Immortal, Volume 8: The Gathering by Hiroaki Samura. This is part of my project to review the entire series, so expect to see another Blade of the Immortal post sometime next month. I’m still loving the Blade of the Immortal.

A quick Aniblog Tourney update: Shameful Otaku Secret! won its first round match which means that it and Experiments in Manga will be facing off in the second round next week. The poll will open on May 1st. If you enjoy participating and voting in these sorts of things, make sure to check out Shameful Otaku Secret!—there’s some great stuff going on over there. I’ve been getting a kick out of discovering new writers to follow from the tournament. I do get the impression that the anime blogging community is larger than the manga blogging community though, so I’m wondering how the manga blogs will fair considering that. There are certainly fewer manga-centric blogs in the tournament.

This week is April’s Manga Moveable Feast! This month we’re focusing on the Viz Signature imprint. The Manga Critic is kind enough to host. My quick takes this week feature manga from the SigIKKI line (basically, titles from Ikki magazine published under the Signature imprint). Wednesday is the start of Experiments in Manga’s monthly giveaway; you’ll have a chance to win the first volume of I’ll Give It My All…Tomorrow (also from Viz Signature). Finally, I’ll be posting an in-depth review of the Dorohedoro, Volume 1 on Friday. Happy Feasting, everyone!

Quick Takes

Children of the Sea, Volumes 1-4 by Daisuke Igarashi. I once gave Children of the Sea a cursory glance in a bookstore and then put it back on the shelf when it didn’t immediately grab my attention. That was a mistake. I’m glad I gave the series another chance because I’ve fallen in love with it. While Igarashi’s artwork is excellent from the very beginning, the story of Children of the Sea develops very slowly and deliberately (with the occasional infodump). I love how Igarashi mixes mythology and legend with reality to create an intriguing and almost mystical tale. The series is still ongoing in Japan. I’m not sure if or when we’ll see more volumes in English, but I really hope that we do.

Dorohedoro, Volumes 1-3 by Q Hayashida. I’m not sure why it took me this long to finally give Dorohedoro a try. I’ll definitely be picking up the rest of this series. Hayashida is a phenomenal artist. Her work is highly detailed and very graphic, perfect for the story’s violence. Dorohedoro is a rather strange manga. It’s goofy in a lot of ways, too, without really being a comedy. The series has a dark sense of humor with great dialogue and memorable characters. Caiman’s head has been transformed by a sorcerer into a lizard’s. With the help of his companion Nikaido, he’s searching for whoever cast the spell on him, killing plenty of other sorcerers along the way. Understandably, the sorcerers aren’t happy about this and so a pair of assassins are sent to take care of him.

House of Five Leaves, Volumes 5-6 by Natsume Ono. My introduction to House of Five Leaves was through the anime adaptation, but my love for the anime easily carries over to the manga. The series is actually my favorite manga created by Ono. I am enjoying seeing a slightly different perspective on the story. Most notable is the addition and development of characters outside of the core members of the Five Leaves. The characters and their relationships with one another are still the most important elements in House of Five Leaves. The plot is almost non-existent but becomes more apparent as characters’ motivations are slowly revealed. I’m really looking forward to the release of final two volumes.

Kingyo Used Books, Volumes 1-4 Seimu Yoshizaki. As a book lover, and a manga lover, I can’t help but be fond of Yoshizaki’s Kingyo Used Books. While one of my life’s dreams is to own a bookstore; reading Kingyo Used Books makes me want to own a manga shop or cafe. The chapters are fairly episodic (although they do frequently feature recurring characters) but they all celebrate the love and importance of reading and manga in people’s lives. Yes, these tales can be a little over dramatic from time to time, but I generally found them to be delightful. The volumes also include extensive notes on the specific titles that are featured in the stories. The only real “problem” is that many of the manga highlighted aren’t available in English and now I want to read them.

Norwegian Wood directed by Tran Anh Hung. I haven’t actually read Haruki Murakami’s breakthrough novel Norwegian Wood (shocking, I know), so I can’t really compare it with the film’s interpretation of the story. Kenichi Matsuyama, who I happen to enjoy watching, is cast well as the lead in a tale of love, loss, and sexuality set in 1960s Japan. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the soundtrack is quite good. The narrative is somewhat fragmented but the cinematography is lovely and has a slight art house feel to it. Large portions of the film have little dialogue or story development but simply sit with the characters. Overall, it’s a beautiful film although some of the more emotionally climactic scenes are overwrought.

My Week in Manga: January 23-January 29, 2012

My News and Reviews

So, last week, Experiments in Manga hosted the Usamaru Furuya Manga Moveable Feast. It was a lot of work, and I stressed out about it quite a bit, but in the end I think I’d call it a success. I think I can even say that I enjoyed myself. I certainly have a sense of accomplishment. It will take me a little bit to completely recover, but I think it was worth it. February will mostly be reviews, but once March comes around I should be prepared to start reintroducing other features again. Please do check out the archive page; there were a lot of posts last week. Also, check out this month’s manga giveaway for Usamaru Furuya’s Genkaku Picasso, Volume 1. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, so you still have a couple of days to enter!

Quick Takes

Goong: The Royal Palace, Volume 1 by Park SoHee. I’ll admit, high school romances aren’t really my thing, but I still enjoyed the first volume of Goong. Probably because I enjoy a bit of court intrigue. The concept is interesting: What if a monarchy still existed in Korea? Chae-Gyung, a commoner, finds herself an unwilling participant in an arranged marriage with the Crown Prince Shin Lee. He’s not particularly happy about it either, mostly hoping that she’ll at least give his family a hard time. Shin Lee comes across as a jerk most of the time, but he fortunately isn’t a complete ass. It’s really hard to tell sometimes, though. The first volume also includes a lengthy interview with the creator, which is a nice touch.

Love Pistols, Volumes 1-5 by Tarako Kotobuki. Love Pistols (the title is actually Sex Pistols) is just so…entertainingly bizarre. Male pregnancy, animal souls, constantly shifting sexuality, gender and sex—I couldn’t help but like it. “Zoomanity” is generally more concerned about breeding than love, resulting in some very strange relationship dynamics and convoluted extended families. Fortunately, Kotobuki eventually provides a much needed family tree to help sort everything out. Kotobuki’s artwork sometimes leaves a bit to desire; body proportions, especially in earlier volumes, are frequently off. Tokyopop published the first five volumes of the still ongoing series; currently SuBLime is offering a digital edition, with the possibility of bringing the manga back into print.

Tesoro by Natsume Ono. Tesoro, which is the Italian word for “treasure,” collects fourteen stories and a gallery of Ono’s illustrations, mostly from earlier in her career. Many of the stories were previously only published in dōjinshi anthologies. Some of the elements that feature heavily in Ono’s later work are already evident here. Her love of food, gentlemen with glasses, family and interpersonal relationships, New York and Italy are all present. I found the stories to be delightfully charming and endearing. Some are funny and heartwarming while others are a touch melancholy or sad. Ono’s artwork is as distinctive as ever. It’s a lovely collection, certainly a must-have for any Ono fan. 

Redline directed by Takeshi Koike. Redline is one of the best looking anime that I have seen in a long time. Animated completely by hand, it is absolutely gorgeous. I love the color palette chosen. The anime’s got style and is an impressive achievement. However, I never really felt engaged by the story. Perhaps it’s my own fault as I’m not especially interested in racing. Despite the creative worldbuilding and fantastic character designs, I didn’t find the film to have much substance to it. I never felt particularly attached to any of the characters, either, even though I did like them. Still, Redline is a highly entertaining film and a lot of fun. I enjoyed watching it, and will probably watch it again. Visually, it is absolutely fantastic.