My Week in Manga: April 4-April 10, 2011

My News and Reviews

There’s not much news from me this week, not that there ever really is, but I did announce the winner of the Omnivorous Old Boy manga giveaway. Not very many people entered this time ’round, which makes me sad, but there were some good entries. The other post from last week was my review of Royall Tyler’s translation of Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji. Reading The Tale of Genji has been a goal of mine for a while now and I am very proud of myself for completing it. It is a project, but I’d encourage others to give The Tale of Genji a try. However, while I was very happy with Tyler’s translation, it might not be the right one for you. I found a fantastic post at Kitsune’s Thoughts that is very helpful in deciding on a translation to pursue: How to Choose English Translation of The Tale of Genji.

As for other great things online, The Manga Critic posted about The 2011 Eisner Nominees for Manga and Manhwa. I read and enjoyed Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition by Stan Sakai, so a recently completed four-part interview with him at The Daily Cross Hatch caught my eye: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Also, coming up later this month is the Manga Moveable Feast for April 2011. Instead of focusing on a specific series, this time we’ll be focusing on a specific creator—Rumiko Takahashi. Rob McMonigal of Panel Patter will be hosting the Feast and has put out the First Call for Call for the Rumiko Takahashi Manga Moveable Feast! Also of note is Rob’s year long Takahashi spotlight: A Year of Rumiko Takahashi.

Quick Takes

The Tyrant Falls in Love, Volumes 1-2 by Hinako Takanaga. The Tyrant Falls in Love is a spin-off/continuation of Takanaga’s debut series Challengers. It is however, much more explicit than the first series. The tone, too, is much more serious, although some of the humor from the original series remains. The Tyrant Falls in Love follows two side characters from Challengers but happily Tomoe and Kurokawa have a brief guest appearance, too. Tatsumi is still an incredibly violent homophobe and Morinaga reveals just how much of a manipulative bastard he can be (sad, but true.) Morinaga’s character is further developed in volume two when we get to learn a bit more about his family and past. 

Utahime: The Songstress by Aki. I don’t remember where I first heard about Utahime, but this one-shot manga was a very pleasant surprise. I wasn’t blown away by it by any means, but it is a solid fantasy that I thoroughly enjoyed. I also liked the artwork and character designs. Their personalities and interactions were also very well done. Kain’s very existence as an unheard of male songstress calls into question the validity of his country’s policies regarding the treatment of songstresses. Finally, the assumptions and traditions begin to be challenged. In addition to the main story, there is unrelated short included in the volume called “Darika” that I also quite enjoyed.

Vassalord, Volume 4 by Nanae Chrono. So, Vassalord still doesn’t make a lot of sense, although it looks like a semi-coherent plot-line might actually be developing out of the bizarrely addicting mess. A few story elements are starting to pull together, but it really feels like Chono is just making things up as she goes. Though, I guess that’s probably not too surprising for a series that was based on a pinup illustration. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, her artwork and characters make for great eye candy with some pretty heavy boys’ love and yuri-ish overtones. So, yeah, I’ll probably keep reading it if Tokyopop keeps publishing it in English. The relationships between characters are certainly fascinating.

Wish, Volumes 1-4 by CLAMP. Wish is a delightful, lesser known short series from the immensely popular creative team CLAMP. I know quite a few people who absolutely hate the translation decisions made for this series, particularly the choice of pronouns (the demons and angels are technically genderless.) I didn’t find the translation to be too bad, but the lettering is absolutely terrible. It unfortunately distracts from what is otherwise a very nice series with a lovely story, endearing characters, and great art. CLAMP throws in some interesting red herrings but when the truth is finally revealed it all makes sense. I kind of hope Dark Horse picks up this series for one their fabulous CLAMP omnibus treatments.

Chi’s Sweet Home: Chi’s New Address, Episodes 53-104 directed by Mitsuyuki Masuhara. I love the Chi’s Sweet Home manga series so it’s probably not surprising that I really enjoy the anime adaptation, too. They are both so freakin’ adorable. Although the animation is fairly simple, sticking close to the charming artwork of the original, they don’t forget to include wonderful details like the flicking of Chi’s ears. Also, the anime’s theme song is marvelously catching; I’m willing to watch the opening for every episode, and it makes me giggle every single time. Each episode is only about three minutes long (including the opening), but the bite-sized installments seem somehow appropriate for the pint-sized Chi.

Spice & Wolf: Season One directed by Takeo Takahashi. The first season of the Spice & Wolf anime covers the first two volumes of the light novel series. The anime stays true to the heart of the original but also includes some nice changes, interpretations, and twists of its own. Overall, I wasn’t particularly taken with the primary animation and character designs although I really liked the backgrounds and landscapes. I did find the economic theories and strategies easier to follow in the anime than I did in the books, but that may have been because I already knew what was going on. The near constant bantering and teasing between Holo and Lawrence is still there; I really adore those two together.

My Week in Manga: October 4-October 10, 2010

My News and Reviews

Experiments in Manga has been going for two months now! So far I’ve been pretty happy with how things have turned out, but I am going to try to start posting more full length manga reviews. Unfortunately, the site search still isn’t working as well as I would like it to and I can’t seem to fix it—very frustrating. Just as a heads up: I’ll be posting the October giveaway next week and this time you’ll only have one week to enter instead of two. You have been warned.

This past week I posted a review for Natsuhiko Kyogoku’s novel Loups-Garous, published under Viz Media’s Haikasoru imprint. It’s an oddly fascinating piece of science fiction mixed with mystery. Library Love, Part 3 gives you a glimpse at some of the manga I’ve been borrowing from my local library—they’ve even thanked me for helping out with their circulation statistics, that’s how much manga I read. And finally, over on Experiments in Reading I reviewed the second book in Jane Lindskold’s Breaking the Wall series, Nine Gates. It’s heavily influenced by Chinese legend and mythology, but most importantly mahjong!

Quick Takes

Library Wars: Love & War, Volumes 1-2 by Kiiro Yumi. Based on the light novel series by Hiro Arikawa, which I really want to read now but it’s not currently available in English, this is one of two manga adaptations. The armed Library Defense Force has been established to protect books against censorship and defend readers’ rights. As a librarian myself, I really couldn’t pass up on such a great story concept. Iku is passionate about her work, but I really wish she wasn’t quite so scatterbrained. The second volume is better than the first so I’ll definitely be picking up the rest of the series and I hope it continues to improve.

MPD-Psycho, Volumes 1-3 written by Eiji Otsuka and illustrated by Shou Tajima. I’ve been reading and enjoying Otsuka’s The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service and thought I would give his more controversial MPD-Psycho a try. It’s gory, disturbing, and absolutely fascinating. Tajima’s art fits the story perfectly—it’s stylish and quite often disconcerting. After killing the serial murderer that attacked his girlfriend, Detective Yosuke Kobayashi’s multiple personality disorder is triggered and Kazuhiko Amamiya becomes the dominant personality. His complicated past is slowly revealed and I’m looking forward to reading more of the series to see where things are going to go.

Twin Spica, Volume 1 by Kou Yaginuma. This is really a lovely and heartfelt start to a manga series. I’ve heard so many good things about Twin Spica and they are all true. Asumi does seem to me to be too childlike for a fourteen-year-old, but she is a wonderful character and her interactions with other characters, especially her father, are great. I want to cheer her on as she pursues her dream to become an astronaut. While the art is on the cute side, the story is wistful and realistic near-future science fiction. I have a feeling I’ll be following this manga through to the end. Even after only reading the first volume, I highly recommend this series.

Vassalord, Volumes 1-3 by Nanae Chrono. This series got its start as a pinup illustration. No, really, it did. It’s a strange mish-mash of things that Chrono just felt like throwing together, and in an odd sort of way it works. When I heard that one of the main characters was a gay cyborg vampire who wants to be a priest and who works as a mercenary for the Vatican, I couldn’t pass it up. It’s outrageous, ridiculous, and frequently sacrilegious, but certainly unique. The action and plot are often confused and don’t always make much sense, but Chrono’s artwork provides some great eye-candy—especially with the sexy, sexy vampires Rayflo and Rayfell.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Episodes 1-13. The Ghost in the Shell film was one of the first anime that I ever saw and it made a big impact on me. So, I was excited when a television series came out based on Masamune Shirow’s original manga, but it wasn’t until now that I’ve gotten a chance to sit down and watch the whole thing. Yoko Kanno, one of my absolute favorite composers, is responsible for the soundtrack and it’s fantastic. Stand Alone Complex is divided into two different types of episodes, “Stand Alone” which stand alone and “Complex” which follow the Laughing Man plot line. I find that I really have to pay attention while watching otherwise I miss something important, but it’s good stuff.