My Week in Manga: October 6-October 12, 2014

My News and Reviews

Last week Experiments in Manga saw the introduction of a new feature—Adaptation Adventures. Basically, the feature is intended to explore and compare different versions of the same story, which I think should be an interesting approach. I specifically had things in mind like the Parasyte anime adaptation that recently began airing  (readers of Experiments in Manga have expressed interest in some sort of Parasyte comparison in the past), but I quickly realized that the feature provides nearly endless options. For the first Adaptation Adventures column, I took a look at Udon Entertainment’s Manga Classics, a line of manga-style graphic novel adaptations of classic literature. I was pleasantly surprised by the Manga Classics editions of Pride & Prejudice and Les Misérables and look forward to seeing future releases. I also posted an in-depth manga review last week of Yaya Sakuragi’s Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love, Volume 4, the last volume in the series. Sakuragi was my introduction to boys’ love manga and I’m always happy to see more of her work available in English. Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love isn’t my favorite Sakuragi manga, but I did enjoy its goofiness.

Elsewhere online, I was extremely happy to see that the one and only Manga Critic (Katherine Dacey) has come out of “retirement” and joined forces with Brigid Alverson at MangaBlog. Kate was one of my major inspirations for starting Experiments in Manga, so I’m very happy to see her return and look forward to reading her commentary. This also means that MangaBlog will be updated more regularly again, which will be great. In other news: Sean Gaffney at A Case Suitable for Treatment has a roundup of Seven Seas recent license announcements. Over at Comics Forum, the most recent Manga Studies column has been posted—Takeuchi Osamu and Manga Expression pt. 1: Tezuka Osamu as Manga Locus by Nicholas Theisen. Also, October’s issue of Sparkler Monthly is now available. It includes the launch of the third and final volume of Tokyo Demons as well as some additional bonus stories for the series. (Since I love Tokyo Demons, I’m particularly excited for and dreading the beginning of the end.)

The New York Comic Con took place over the weekend, and there was plenty of excitement to come out of that. Sean was there this year and has written up some notes on the panels he was able to attend. Vertical is spinning off Vertical Comics as a separate imprint to focus on manga and related material while Vertical continues to release prose and nonfiction. Vertical also licensed more Attack on Titan light novels, which will probably do pretty well. Viz Media also had a few new licenses to announce, as did Kodansha Comics. In addition to several other licenses, Yen Press has rescued Kaoru Mori’s Emma for a deluxe hardcover omnibus release! I only discovered Emma after CMX’s edition went out of print (and became extremely expensive), so I’m thrilled that I’ll finally be able to own the series in such a lovely format. (If you’re curious about Emma, I recommend checking out the archives for the Emma Manga Moveable Feast.)

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan: Before the Fall, Volume 2Attack on Titan: Before the Fall, Volume 2 written by Ryo Suzukaze and illustrated by Satoshi Shiki. I have largely been enjoying Attack on Titan‘s prequel manga Before the Fall, but I think I like it even more now that I have read the first Before the Fall novel that was recently released by Vertical. (My review of that volume can be found here.) Other than both being prequels to Attack on Titan, the stories of the novel and the manga aren’t directly related, but small references are made to the novel’s plot and characters in the manga. Which makes a fair amount of sense since the Before the Fall manga series is based on the second and third Attack on Titan light novels written by Suzukaze. In the second volume of the Before the Fall manga, Kuklo and Sharle have made their escape—Kuklo from the dungeons and Sharle from her overbearing father—but they are now faced with surviving among the common people. They actually make a pretty good life for themselves at first, but then Kuklo becomes obsessed with wanting to see a Titan for himself which, as anyone who is familiar with Attack on Titan will know, is an absolutely terrible idea that probably won’t end well for anyone involved.

My Love Story!!, Volume 2My Love Story!!, Volume 2 written by Kazune Kawahara and illustrated by Aruko. I absolutely adored the first volume of My Love Story!!, so much so that I was actually a little afraid to read the second volume since my expectations had been set so high. However, I am very pleased to report that I also loved My Love Story!!, Volume 2. The entire series just makes me so extremely happy to read. Takeo and Yamato’s love is incredibly pure and sweet and the two of them are utterly endearing and charming together. Misunderstandings do happen on occasion, but forgiveness is quick in coming and no harm is done. My Love Story!! has the potential to be sickeningly sweet, but the romance and characters are handled with such humor and lightheartedness that, at least for me, the manga hasn’t reached that point. There isn’t much nuance or subtlety to the characters—Takeo is a manly many with a sensitive heart, Yamato is adorable and earnest, Suna is cool and aloof—but I like them all so much that I don’t mind. My Love Story!! is ridiculous and over-the-top and I love it. I’m still not sure how the story will be able to be sustained for an entire series now that the basic conceit has been so well-established, but I look forward to finding out.

A New Season of Young LeavesA New Season of Young Leaves written by Venio Tachibana and illustrated by Akeno Kitahata. Ever since reading the two-volume boys’ love manga series Seven Days (which I loved) I have made a point to seek out more of Tachibana’s work available in English. And so I was very excited when A New Season of Young Leaves was licensed. I’ll admit, at first I was actually a little disappointed with A New Season for Young Leaves. I simply didn’t understand the relationship and odd power dynamics between the super popular Mariya and the socially awkward Nachi. But then about halfway through the volume, during an extensive flashback that explores the evolution of their strange friendship, the manga finally clicked for me. I found it to be incredibly compelling and I immediately wanted to read it again, which I take as a very good sign. I didn’t realize it when I initially began reading A New Season for Young Leaves, but it’s actually the first manga in a series that is at least three volumes long. While there were definitely a few plot lines introduced that were left unresolved, for the most part A New Season of Young Leaves does tell a complete story. But I really do hope more of the series is licensed; I am very curious to see how things continue to develop between Mariya and Nachi and the rest of their classmates.

My Week in Manga: December 10-December 16, 2012

My News and Reviews

The end of the month and the end of the year seem to be approaching very quickly. But even with the chaos which accompanies that, I posted two in-depth reviews last week. First up was my review for The Twelve Kingdoms, Volume 2: Sea of Wind by Fuyumi Ono. I’m really enjoying the series; I’ll definitely be reading (and reviewing) the rest of the novels that were translated into English before Tokyopop’s implosion. I also reviewed Hiroaki Samura’s Blade of the Immortal, Volume 16: Shortcut. My Blade of the Immortal review project is steadily progressing. At the rate the series is being published in English, I should be caught up in less than a year. Next week, beginning on December 26, is this month’s Manga Moveable Feast. This Feast will be focusing on Hikaru no Go and other game manga. I have a couple of things in mind that I’m working on, including a review of the first volume of Hikaru no Go. Elsewhere online, Comics Alliance has a fabulous introduction to the work of Shotaro Ishinomori—Shotaro Ishinomori Is A Big Deal: An Action-Packed Primer For New Readers.

Quick Takes

Blood Sucker: Legend of Zipangu, Volumes 5-7 written by Saki Okuse and illustrated by Aki Shimizu. I enjoyed the first four volumes of Blood Sucker and so was looking forward to reading more. The long, multi-volume flashback finally comes to an end with volume five. I’ll admit, I found the earlier volumes more compelling. It seems like important plot points and developments were either forgotten or lost along the way. But I still like Blood Sucker. It’s quickly paced and packed with gory action. The artwork is good, too, but occasionally difficult to follow during fights. Only seven of the twelve volumes of Blood Sucker were published in English, but it’s still probably worth tracking down for fans of vampires or action-horror.

Fist of the Blue Sky, Volumes 1-4 written by Nobuhiko Horie and illustrated by Tetsuo Hara. Fist of the Blue Sky is a prequel to Fist of the North Star. The protagonist, Kenshiro Kasumi, is the uncle and namesake of Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star. The two series are vaguely similar in tone with over-the-top scenarios, gang warfare, and fantastical martial arts, except that Fist of the Blue Sky largely takes place in Shanghai in the 1930s instead of in a post-apocalyptic world. Kenshiro has a sort of Indian Jones vibe going on at the beginning, but that seems to be quickly left behind as the series progresses. Fist of the Blue Sky ended in Japan with twenty-two volumes, four of which were released in English before Raijin folded.

Please Save My Earth, Volumes 1-7 by Saki Hiwatari. So far, I’m loving Please Save My Earth, the shoujo science fiction epic. Seven students in Japan discover that they are the reincarnations of seven alien researchers who died on the moon. This might seem like a silly premise for a story, but the manga is actually very engrossing. At first the students are fascinated and excited about their shared history, but slowly the guilt, memories, and emotions from their past lives begin to intrude upon their current lives, causing all sorts of difficulties for them. Sometime, the results are tragic. The artwork is a little rough at first, but steadily improves. I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Seven Days: Friday-Sunday written by Venio Tachibana and illustrated by Rihito Takarai. Seven Days is an absolutely beautiful story; I enjoyed it immensely. Because I loved the manga so much, a part of me wishes that there was more—it’s only two volumes long—but another part of me is completely satisfied. Seven Days is a fairly quiet and somewhat melancholy manga. In the first volume, Shino asked Seryou out almost accidentally. It was a joke and he certainly didn’t expect him to say yes. They’re only guaranteed to date for one week, and now that that one week is drawing to a close, both of them are conflicted. They’ve gotten to know each other better and neither one of them wants their relationship to end, but it can’t continue on like it has been, either.

Black Lagoon, Episodes 1-12 directed by Sunao Katabuchi. I was late to the Black Lagoon anime party and so missed out on the series’ initial release, which is why I’m so glad that both seasons are now available on DVD again. At this point, I think that I still slightly prefer the manga, but the anime adaptation is great. I was particularly impressed by the quality of the animation and sound design. Black Lagoon is a lot of fun, with violent and foul-mouthed protagonists, plenty of explosions and gun battles, and a dark sense of humor. I don’t find it to be particularly compelling as a story, but it is highly entertaining. I’m really enjoying watching the series.

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

My News and Reviews

Not much news (surprise!) other than I’m preparing to go on an extended vacation later this week. I’ve got posts ready to go while I’m away, and supposedly there will be web access where I’ll be, so there shouldn’t be too much interruption here at Experiments in Manga. (Fingers crossed.) In other news, last week I announced the winner of the Rurouni Kenshin manga giveaway. I also took the opportunity to make a couple of lists of samurai manga licensed in English, so if you’re looking for some to read, check it out. I also posted a review of the first volume of Anthony C. Yu’s translation of The Journey to the West. Since The Journey to the West is Chinese and not Japanese, I debated whether or not to include the review here. But because it’s such an influential work and there are so many references and adaptations of the story in Japanese literature I decided that I would go ahead. So there.

Quick Takes

Ghost Talker’s Daydream, Volumes 1-3 written by Saki Okuse and illustrated by Sankichi Meguro. Overall, Ghost Talker’s Daydream feels very disjointed to me; it hasn’t quite managed to pull itself together yet within the first three volumes. The action sequences are often difficult to follow, which is particularly unfortunate as the fight scenes were some of my favorite parts. I also appreciated the S&M elements of the story although they are not incorporated into the work as a whole very well. Misaki does somewhat frustrate me as a character since she hates both her job as a dominatrix and as a necromancer but doesn’t seem willing to make an effort to change the status quo.

Gin Tama, Volumes 6-14 by Hideaki Sorachi. I really do love this series. It’s ridiculous and absurd and genuinely funny if you’re into that sort of thing (which I am.) The cast of characters is huge and they all have their own distinct quirks and personalities. You will never confuse one with another. Despite recurring gimmicks, I haven’t yet gotten bored with Gin Tama. The diverse imaginings of Sorachi impress me greatly, especially considering that Gin Tama is a weekly serialization. Frequently it parodies other established series (and I know I’m missing some references) but it also parodies commonly used tropes. Sorachi doesn’t hesitate to break the fourth wall and I find his omake (which is usually text) to be hilarious.

Go West!, Volumes 1-4 by Yu Yagami. Yagami has a talent for taking a tremendously silly concept, running with it, and making it work. In the case of Go West! we have Red Bullet—a horse that will only travel west in a straight line no matter what obstacles are in the way. Added to that is Naomi, a girl who has come to the West to search for her long lost parents. Pairing up, she and Red Bullet face many challenges together. Not the least of which is a bounty hunter and a wanted man who both claim to be related to her despite the complete lack of any evidence. Plus there’s plenty of gunfights, explosions, and general chaos and destruction that make Go West! highly entertaining. It’s goofy, but that’s not a bad thing.

Seven Days: Monday-Thursday written by Venio Tachibana and illustrated by Rihito Takarai. Every Monday morning, Seryou agrees to go out with the first girl to ask him out. If he doesn’t develop any feelings for her by the end of the week, they break up. As a joke Shino, an older male schoolmate, asks Seryou out and is surprised when he says yes. Shino treats the whole thing like a game, buy Seryou is quite serious about it, especially when he discovers he actually likes Shino. The premise might sound irrational, but it actually works and makes sense in context. I was quite taken with the first volume of Seven Days and look forward to the second and final volume, Seven Days: Friday-Sunday.

Yo-yo Girl Cop directed by Kenta Fukasaku. Yo-yo Girl Cop is based on the manga Sukeban Deka by Shinji Wada (who sadly passed away just last week), making it the third live action film to be based on Wada’s series. A skilled and strong brawler, a teenager from New York is deported and recruited by a Japanese police organization to help track down a group of terrorists. Given the codename Asamiya Saki and a steel yo-yo as her only weapon, she heads undercover as a high school student. Yo-yo Girl Cop is a fun movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Asamiya is pretty badass and there are some fight sequences, especially towards the end, that make really nice use of the yo-yo.