My Week in Manga: June 25-July 1, 2012

My News and Reviews

Last week was the Takehiko Inoue Manga Moveable Feast. For my contribution, I reviewed the second Vagabond omnibus. Vagabond is a phenomenal series based on Eiji Yoshikawa’s epic historical novel Musashi. Expect to see more reviews for the series here in the future. My most recent manga giveaway has also been posted. The winner will be randomly selected on Wednesday, so there’s still time to enter for a chance to win Yasuko Aoike’s From Eroica with Live, Volume 1!

Digital Manga’s Unico Kickstarter has reached both its initial goal and its first stretch goal, which means we’ll be seeing an English edition of Osamu Tezuka’s manga Unico as well as Atomcat. The next stretch goal, set at $47,000 (more than double the original goal), is for Tezuka’s manga series Triton of the Sea. Personally, I’m more excited about the possibility of Triton than I am about Unico and Atomcat combined. I’m also a little disappointed to see Triton of the Sea added as a secondary goal instead of receiving its own project.

As with Digital Manga’s other Kickstarter projects, the Unico project has caused debate within the online manga community as to whether an established publisher should be taking advantage of the platform. Alexander Hoffman has some More Thoughts on Kickstarter over at Manga Widget. There is also an excellent Manga Out Loud podcast episode that outlines some of the issues. The episode was released after Digital Manga’s Barbara Kickstarter project; Ed Sizemore is planning another episode on the subject, so keep an ear out for it.

Anime Expo took place over the weekend. I wasn’t able to attend, but there were a few announcements made that caught my attention. Rigtstuf has established a new division, Lucky Penny, which will allow them to release more anime. I’m particularly excited about two of the Lucky Penny licenses: the anime adaptation of Natsume Ono’s Ristorante Paradiso, to be released fall 2012, and Aoi Hana, based on the manga by Takako Shimura (the author of Wandering Son), to be released sometime in 2013. It was also announced at Tokyopop’s panel that the fourth and fifth volumes of the Hetalia manga will be released in English, although no definite plans have been set for their publication.

Quick Takes

The Flowers of Evil, Volume 1 by Shuzo Oshimi. I initially didn’t plan on picking up The Flowers of Evil, middle school drama isn’t generally my thing anymore, but after seeing the positive reactions from several other manga bloggers, I decided to give it a try. I’m glad that I did, because it’s a really intriguing title. One afternoon, Kasuga ends up stealing the gym clothes of a girl he likes (mostly by accident) and is seen by another classmate, Nakamura, who is intent on blackmailing him. I’m interested in seeing where Oshimi will take the series. I’m particularly curious about Nakamura, who’s a bit of a sadist; it’s hard to tell what’s going through her head and what her motivations and ultimate goals are.

Jyu-Oh-Sei, Volumes 1-3 by Natsumi Itsuki. I’ll readily admit that I’m a fan of shōjo science fiction, especially from the seventies and eighties. Jyu-Oh-Sei, serialized between 1993 and 2003, is reminiscent of the classics in the genre. Although there were parts that I enjoyed immensely, I didn’t find the series to be nearly as successful as some of those older works. Itsuki has a tendency to infodump instead of naturally incorporating plot and background details into the story. Not to mention that there were some inconsistencies in her world-building. Still, it is an entertaining series with gripping character dynamics. The third volume is particularly good as Itsuki ramps up the action, revealing several important plot developments in the process.

One Thousand and One Nights, Volumes 6-11 written by Jeon JinSeok and illustrated by Han SeungHee. The second half of One Thousand and Nights focuses a bit more on the development of the framing narrative. Sehara’s stories in the second half of the series are even more varied than in the first, ranging from Greek history to Romance of the Three Kingdoms to original tales. Unfortunately, they aren’t incorporated as well and the series isn’t as cohesive as a result. While I appreciate what JinSeok was attempting to do with the stories and that take place in the modern era, ultimately they don’t mesh well with the series as a whole. I did, however, really like the final twist to the story.

Rideback directed by Atsushi Takahashi. Rin Ogata is talented ballerina whose career is brought to halt due to an injury. She ends up joining her school’s rideback club where her exceptional sense of balance is an asset. Little does she know that this will lead to her being swept up in the political and military turmoil surrounding her country. The ridebacks are very cool machines (even considering the fact that they should really have a third wheel). A cross between a motorcycle and a humanoid robot, they are extremely maneuverable. I actually wish they were put through their paces a bit more in the series because they’re exciting to watch. Although some of the character development is rushed, Rideback is tightly plotted and highly engaging. Overall, it’s an excellent series.