My Week in Manga: December 6-December 12, 2010

My News and Reviews

I don’t have much manga news for this past week, but there was some One Piece Manga Moveable Feast carryover, including an episode of the Manga Out Loud podcast devoted to the series. The Manga Curmudgeon, as the host, is keeping track of everything still trickling in. As for me, I posted Part 5 of my Library Love series. I do apologize for it being a bit more spoilery than usual, but that can be difficult to avoid when writing about middle volumes. I also posted a review of Ryu Murakami’s Popular Hits of the Showa Era (also known as Karaoke Terror) due to be released by W. W. Norton in January. The novel is a dark satire, absurd, and potentially offensive, but I quite enjoyed it.

Quick Takes

Cain, Volume 1 by Le Peruggine. I’m sorry to say, but the first volume of Cain, which was originally an Italian publication, did almost nothing for me. I didn’t get a good feeling for what was going on and I didn’t get attached to any of the characters or care about their relationships. Perhaps if I had read all three volumes of the series together, I might have a better opinion. I like the cover art, but the illustration work inside doesn’t reach the same quality and is sometimes difficult to follow. There are hints that Cain may be something other than human, which could be interesting, but I probably won’t follow up with the rest of the series.

Chi’s Sweet Home, Volume 3 by Konami Kanata. This series is simply wonderful and gets my vote for one of the best new series released in 2010. For cat lovers at least, Chi’s Sweet Home is a must. Much of Volume 3 explores Chi’s relationship with Blackie, or the Bear-Cat as the humans call him. Chi learns a lot about what it means to be a cat from Blackie and as much as Chi can annoy him, he’s grown quite fond of the kitten. As for Chi, she’s become quite attached to Blackie and her human family. Unfortunately, cats aren’t allowed at their apartment complex and the super is on a mission to track down the offending tenants.

D. N. Angel, Volumes 1-13 by Yukiru Sugisaki. D. N. Angel was one of the first and favorite manga series that my youngest sister read. Daisuke Niwa has a rather unusual condition—whenever he experiences intense romantic feelings, he transforms into the legendary Phantom Thief Dark, just like his ancestors before him. Sugisaki can’t seem to decide whether D. N. Angel is a romantic comedy or a darker, more serious fantasy and it sometimes feels like she’s just making things up as she goes along. However, I still found the series to be fun and enjoyable to read if I didn’t think too hard about it. The artwork is very appealing, although occasionally inconsistent.

Happy Mania, Volumes 1-5 by Moyoco Anno. Shigeta wants nothing more in life than a boyfriend. Unfortunately, she’s obsessive, self-absorbed, and goes a little bit crazy once she sets her sights on a guy. It’s hard to see why Shigeta has any friends at all. Even Takahashi, who desperately loves her and who she can’t seem to admit is perfect for her, questions his devotion. She ends up sleeping with plenty of men, but has yet to find a satisfying relationship. Even when she knows better, poor Shigeta makes one bad decision after another. It might be terrible, but Shigeta’s self-destructive tendencies make for one hilarious manga. Happy Mania is a great josei series and I’ll definitely be picking up the rest of the volumes.

Spirit Marked, written by Colter Hillman and illustrated by Yishan Li. While I liked the art (for the most part), Spirit Marked doesn’t have a particularly original story. This English language manga had a lot of potential but it unfortunately doesn’t deliver. Instead of a single volume, it probably would have worked better as a longer series which would allow more exploration of the characters and a chance to differentiate its plot. As it is, Spirit Marked seems more like an outline or a proposal rather than a finished work—the plot feels rushed and incomplete. In addition to the title story, the book also includes an unrelated bonus story called Clockwork Heart.