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

My News and Reviews

Probably just about everyone already knows about this but if not I’m sorry to break the news: Tokyopop is shutting down its North American publishing division. Tokyopop wasn’t my favorite manga publisher, but this still saddens me deeply. I’m especially frustrated because it seems like as soon as I got really interested and passionate about something (in this case, manga) the entire industry tanks. Tokyopop is not the first manga publisher to go under but it is one of the biggest. I believe the news was first broke by The Beat on Friday—End of an era: Tokyopop shutting down US publishing division. Kate Dacey of The Manga Critic also has a great write up and index of related posts from around the web—A Few Thoughts About TOKYOPOP.

As for me, this past week I posted two reviews. The first was for Osamu Dazai’s very potent novel No Longer Human. Vertical will be releasing Usamaru Furuya’s manga adaptation of the novel later this year which I’m looking forward to reading. I also reviewed Death Note, Volume 9: Contact, making it my first in-depth manga review for April. There are only three more volumes in the series to go, and I’m interested in seeing how things turn out. Also, a reminder that the Rumiko Takahashi Manga Moveable Feast begins next week. I’ll be reading nothing but Rumiko Takahashi manga, watching InuYasha streaming on Netflix, giving away the first two volumes of Ranma 1/2, and reviewing in-depth the first volume of Mermaid Saga. It should be a good time.

Quick Takes

Princess Princess, Volume 1 by Mikiyo Tsuda. Princess Princess isn’t really a boys’ love manga, although it certainly has the potential and setup. The first volume was actually a bit better than I expected it to be, but I didn’t find it to be particularly outstanding. In an elite all-boys school, a few attractive first year students are selected to act as “Princesses,” becoming idols of the school and acting as a sort of cross-dressing cheerleader. Kouno is basically in it for the fringe benefits, Yutaka was forced into it, and Shihoudani seems to have come to actually enjoy it. Apparently, characters from Tsuda’s other works cross-over with Princess Princess but I haven’t actually read any of those involved.

X-Day, Volumes 1-2 by Setona Mizushiro. Polaris, 11, Mr. Money, and Jangalian first came together in a chatroom. Frustrated and fed up with life at their school, they decide to make it disappear, fantasizing and planning how to blow it up. I never got a really good handle on exactly who all of these characters were. I think that is somewhat the point, though. There are a few intense glimpses into their personal lives, but mostly the four of them are private people. Others, even those in their select group (at least to begin with), don’t realize or understand the depth of their personal struggles. But the four of them become a much needed support group for one other. Also included is an unrelated sidestory “The Last Supper.”

Yokai Doctor, Volumes 1-3 by Yuki Sato. I have recently developed a particular fondness for yokai, so I was looking forward to reading Yokai Doctor. I liked the premise—a boy raised by yokai reenters the human world while continuing to act and care for the yokai as their doctor with the granddaughter of an exorcist as his assistant. But, it’s just…boring and disappointing. The yokai, while cute, are generic. The constant boob jokes are tedious rather than amusing. Things start to get a bit more interesting plotwise and artwise in the third volume, but probably not enough for me to pursue the rest of the series if it’s released in English.

Your & My Secret, Volumes 1-3 by Ai Morinaga. I have mixed feelings about Your & My Secret. It seems as though Morinaga can’t quite decide whether to go for the comedy, the melodrama, or to address the gender issues involved more seriously. The excuse for Akira and Momoi’s personality/body/gender swap is a bit silly, but at least watching how everyone deals with it is interesting even if it is often extremely unfortunate. I feel bad for Akira since no one seems willing to recognize or care about how horribly he’s feeling about the whole situation. Also, why is it that every school festival must have a performance of Romeo and Juliet?