My Week in Manga: August 12-August 18, 2013

My News and Reviews

Two reviews, and some big news! First up was my review of Blade of the Immortal, Volume 24: Massacre by Hiroaki Samura. As you might suspect from the title, it’s a rather bloody volume. It also features what I think is one of the best visually executed battles in the series. I also reviewed Yukio Mishima’s novel Forbidden Colors which is a bit twisted but extremely engrossing and very good. Like his earlier novel Confessions of a Mask, it deals with homosexual themes and includes autobiographical elements.

As for the big news! Over the weekend Experiments in Manga celebrated it’s third anniversary and I wrote quite a lengthy post about it. If you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, here’s the really important bit: I am delighted to announce that in the very near future Experiments in Manga will be joining the Manga Bookshelf network of blogs!

I was traveling quite a bit last week (a couple of my friends were getting married), so I’m a little out of touch when it comes to some of the most recent manga news. However, there is one thing that I want to be sure to pass along. I personally don’t read much manga digitally, but Organization of Anti-Social Geniuses has a fantastic post looking at all the legal ways to read digital manga in 2013.

Quick Takes

The Last of the Mohicans by Shigeru Sugiura. The Last of the Mohicans is the first volume in editor Ryan Holmberg’s Ten-Cent Manga series, exploring classic manga influenced by popular culture and comics from the United States. In addition to the manga itself, the volume also includes an article by Sugiura and an extensive essay by Holmberg which puts The Last of the Mohicans into context. For me, this was probably the greatest appeal of the volume. I more or less enjoyed the manga, but I valued to an even greater extent learning about its history and Sugiura’s influences. I don’t know that The Last of the Mohicans will necessarily entice casual manga readers, but for those interested in comics history it’s great.

Math Girls Manga, Volume 1 written by Hiroshi Yuki and illustrated by Mika Hisaka. Based on the Math Girls series of novels, the manga focuses a little more on the romance and a little less on the math, but it still can teach a thing or two about it. Unfortunately, errors slipped into the English edition and some of the mathematical symbols are missing. Seeing as Math Girls is about, well, math, this is somewhat problematic. But if you can ignore that, Math Girls is a rather delightful and charming manga. Math lovers in particular will appreciate it, but as with the novels it’s possible to skip over the math-intensive sections and just enjoy the story. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of the Math Girls manga, but I suspect there won’t be another volume released anytime soon.

Strawberry Chan, Volumes 1-2 by Ai Morinaga. I picked up Morinaga’s Strawberry Chan manga on a whim. The series consists of two volumes, The Gorgeous Life of Strawberry Chan and The Super Cool Life of Strawberry Chan. The manga is fairly episodic and each chapter is very short. The titular Strawberry Chan is a small pet frog owned by Taro Akiyoshi, a sadistic high school student who delights in tormenting him. Despite his cruelty, Strawberry Chan adores his master. And then there’s Taro’s roommate who’s legitimately in love with Strawberry Chan and a masochistic classmate who just wants Taro to abuse him instead of the frog. Strawberry Chan is utterly ridiculous, random, and all sorts of wrong. I loved it.

Three Wolves Mountain by Bohra Naono. So far, only two of Naono’s manga have been released in English. Yokai’s Hunger largely frustrated me but I thoroughly enjoyed Three Wolves Mountain; it’s easily my favorite manga out of the two. It’s an odd mix of comedy, drama, and the supernatural, but Naono makes it work this time. Kaya Susugi is a cafe owner by day and a grave keeper by night who ends up taking in Tarou and Jiro Tsukihara, two werewolf brothers. Susugi is used to being alone but becomes very close with both of the brothers, but especially with Jiro who has fallen in love with him. I wasn’t expecting Three Wolves Mountain to become such a family affair, but parents, siblings, and even cousins all have their role to play in the story. Three Wolves Mountain is great stuff.