All posts by Lori Henderson

Lori Henderson is the writer and reviewer for the manga blog, Manga Xanadu. She also keeps a personal blog at Fangirl Xanadu, and a writing blog at Muse of Xanadu. She contributes to the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. As the mother of two teen daughters, she needs all the escape she can get, which reading and writing about manga gives her.

This Week In Manga 5/8-5/14/10


Have We Lost Our Soul?

Monday started out with a bang as new spread quickly on twitter and then the blogs that Go! Comi’s website had expired. Gia Manry of Anime Briefs caught the expiration first, and attempted to contact someone through voice, but couldn’t get ahold of anyone. No official word has come back from any reps of the company, which doesn’t bode well for its future. The speculation that the manga company for sale in Southern California was Go! Comi gets stronger by the minute. Even though this news wasn’t all that surprising, it is still a bit of a shock, and I hope there are some publishers out there willing to “troll” the Go! Comi licenses and give us some hope of seeing them through to the end. Jus don’t look to Yen Press for that.

Another Tremor in the Manga Market

And the news didn’t improve any on Tuesday, as Publishers Weekly broke the news that Viz Media had laid off 60 employees, or 40% of their total. The Doomsayers didn’t come out for this, but there was a lot of worry for the Signature/Ikki line, since it’s not a cash cow in regards to sales. Viz later posted on their blog that the layoffs were a part of a company restructuring, and that no titles were in danger of being cancelled. They must have gotten a lot of worried inquiries in order to post a message like that. It’s good to hear that none of our favorite titles will be going away anytime soon, but also sad that so many people had to lose their jobs. Here’s wishing them well and that they find new work soon.

The Path to Hell…

David Welsh of The Manga Curmudgeon writes about an email he received advocating a “new” way to get manga piracy sites shut down; tell the site advertisers that the site has child p_rn on it. While I’m sure the person/persons who came up with this approach had good intentions in wanting to stop the pirates and help manga publishers, I have to say it’s a terrible idea. I’m in complete agreement with David when he says this approach will demonize the content, which is the last thing we need. Manga and anime are still fighting the perception that is filled things bad for children to read (see next story), so we don’t need actual “fans” adding to that bad image. Publishers need to do the work to stop these sites from putting up their rightful content, and they don’t need this kind of “help” which would very likely backfire and make their product nearly impossible to shelf and sell since the perception will be that manga is for child p_orn.

Death Note:1 Book Banners:0

ANN reports on the results of an attempt to ban the manga Death Note from high schools in the Albuquerque Public School District. In short, a parent complained about the death in Death Note, going so far as to compare it to the Columbine shooting. This is a clear example of a parent either not reading or understanding what the title is about.  There is not comparison between the two. Death Note is about justice and morality. Just who should get to decide who lives and who dies. Columbine was revenge. Death Note can get a kid thinking about things they probably never thought about before with respect to justice, and the death penalty, which as an adult they will have to deal with as a voter and juror. These are things that can’t be taught. But if presented properly can get the wheels turning so one can come to their own decision. That is the value of a series like Death Note.

Did You Remember to Call?

Sunday was Mother’s Day. Did you remember to call your mother and wish her a happy day? She could be lying on the floor of the kitchen right now, unable to get help and you would never know… Jason Yadao remembered Mother’s Day by giving a list of mothers in manga. While I didn’t do it this year, the previous two years I did posts about moms in manga as well. Jason hits a lot of moms I didn’t so check out all the lists for some great moms in manga. And for goodness sake, call your Mother. She’s worried about you.

NYT Best Seller List

Despite of, or maybe because of, Viz holds the 8 of the 10 slots again this week, and the biggest shock of it, Naruto is nowhere to be found on it! Let’s start off with checking in on Twilight in the Hardcover list. Is it back at #1? You betcha! Over in manga, Black Bird vol 4 holds the #1 slot, a book I wouldn’t have thought would make or deserve it, but it does, on both counts. Otomen vol 6 takes the #2 slot with D. Gray-man vol 17 coming in at #3. One Piece vol 44 takes the #4 position, with the only Yen Press title, Yotsuba&! vol 8 taking #5. One Piece cuts its way through again with vols 46 and 45 at #6 and #7 respectively while last week’s #1, Tsubasa vol 26, falls back to #8.  One Piece then finishes out the list with vols 47 and 48 taking #9 and #10 spots. It’s another list of debuts, with Yotsuba&! and Tsubasa being the only titles to hold over from last week. All of the Viz titles are debuts. We’ll see how long this will last though. One Piece never seems to last past the first release week, though it is good to see all five making the cut again. But with Yen Press’ Black Butler coming out this week, I’m sure the #1 title next week will have Black in the title, it just won’t be a bird.

This Week at Manga Village

What I’m Reading

  • Black Jack vol 7

Review: Maoh: Juvenile Remix Volume 1

In the city of Nekota, where rapid modernization threatens everything the longtime residents hold dear, one young man has stood up to oppose progress. Inukai and his team of vigilantes, known as Grasshopper, protect the citizens from the rising crime wave and the greedy hands of businessmen bent on turning every block into a modern strip mall. But what is this public hero’s true motive? Is this angelic man actually a devil in disguise?

High school student Ando has the special ability to make others say out loud what he’s thinking. But will this be enough to uncover Inukai’s secrets and stop the plot to control the city?

Maoh JR 1By Megumi Osuga
Publisher: Viz Media/Shonen Sunday
Age Rating: Teen+
Genre: Mystery/Drama
Price: $9.99/Free Online
Rating: ★★★★☆
Buy This Book

Change is unavoidable. It’s a contradictory constant. But the forces for change can be either good or bad. This first volume of Maoh: Juvenile Remix shows how words can bring about change, but leaves the question of its benefit open to interpretation.

The volume starts by introducing the protagonist, Ando, a high school student in the 11th grade. Because of an incident when he was young, he tries not to stand out.  He has the ability to make people say what he’s thinking and was ridiculed by his classmates for it. Now, he likes to blend in with the crowd, and not get involved with other people’s business. He is a bystander to the world around him.

Enter Mr. Inukai, the leader of a vigilante group known as Grasshopper. His is good-looking, confident and charismatic. He always has a benign expression and gentle smile on his lips. He and his followers patrol Nekota City, protecting the people from harm. Inukai’s greatest weapon in this fight seems to be his words. He can sway a crowd to his way of thinking or inspire individuals to action. Even Ando, who sees him in action one day. Inukai’s claim that anyone can change the world if they believe it enough, stirs Ando from his inaction. Using his ability, he helps a girl being groped on a train, and tries to help a classmate who is being bullied.

Ando’s fascination with Inukai gives him a glimpse in a darkness that seems to exist in Inukai and the Grasshoppers. Instead of being scared away by this revelation, Ando becomes more interested in Inukai and determined to find out what his real motives are.

When I first started reading this title online at, I didn’t think much of it. Reading the first volume however, has really changed my opinion. There is a lot going on here, between And’s ability and Inukai’s true intentions.  Inukai seems helpful, and to have good intentions toward the people of Nekota City. But like other charismatic leaders from the past, he may have more sinister motives. Ando says it as he’s talking to his classmate Kaname and asks what if Inukai is the devil? It’s a powerful question and gives the reader a lot to think about.

The panel layout is easy to follow, and the art is decently done. It was difficult at first to figure out Inukai’s gender, and he has several female qualities, but I found the ambiguity about his gender added to the mystique of his character.

Maoh: Juvenile Remix isn’t an action title but neither is it boring. There is a bit of talking, both in internal dialog and in discussions between characters, but it’s not just exposition. There is a real story going on here, one that’s definitely worth checking out.

Review copy provided by publsher. Images © Viz Media

National Pet Month Manga

What's MichaelMay, among other things, is National Pet Month. It’s goal is to promote the benefits of pet ownership and support pet adoption. I know these benefits very well, and support them, as every dog and cat in our house was either from a shelter or a stray we took in. Manga is no stranger to pets either. Here are just a few titles that feature either the benefits of pet ownership, or shows strays finding a home, with humans or otherwise.

Inubaka 1In manga, there are two ways to typically find a pet. The first is the obvious one; a pet shop. Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs is a Teen+ title from Viz Media. It’s about a girl, Suguri Miyauchi, who has an amazing affinity for dogs and gets a part-time job at the pet store “Woofles”. The stories often feature different dog breeds available at the pet store, and matching the right people to the right dog. Petshop of Horrors, another Teen+ title from Tokyopop also matches people to the most appropriate pet, but in a “comeuppance theater” sort of way. Count D has the perfect pet for every customer, and sees that everyone gets the pet they deserve, which doesn’t always end well for the for the people.

One Fine Day 1But can you really blame the animals for wanting some payback? More often than not, pets such as dogs and cats are shown being dumped in deserted areas or left in boxes with signs saying “Please take me home.” Many pets in manga start out as strays and find a home this way. In Kimi ni Todoke a Teen title from Viz Media, Kazehaya and Sawako find a puppy in the rain. Kazehaya takes the dog in, and he and Sawako share in its care. Rin, from the Teen title Dragon Voice from Tokyopop, gets adopted by a stray cat that he feeds once and then keeps coming back for more. My mother has acquired more than a few cats this way. In One Fine Day, the All Ages title from Yen Press, the cat Guru is lonely until he is befriended by Nanai the dog and Rang the mouse, and finds a home with them and No-ah.

Free Collars Kingdom 1Not all animals want to be adopted by humans though. Free Collars Kingdom, a Teen+ title from Del Rey Manga, portrays the world of stray cats, showing how they have to find food, shelter, and fight and defend their territory. While this title is more light-hearted in the way it shows this world, making all the cats otaku of some sort, there is a more serious theme at its core. Many of the Free Collar cats don’t want to ge back to being a pet to a human. They were abandoned by their humans, even the protagonist Cyan, though he is the only one that holds onto his faith in humans. The rest are jaded and disillusioned, a feeling you can’t help getting sometimes when looking at some of the animals at the shelter.

Peach Fuzz 1If you’re willing to take the time and care, the benefits of pet ownership can be very rewarding. Don’t think it’s going to be a walk in the park though. The All Ages OEL title Peach Fuzz from Tokyopop that shows some of the trials and triumphs of owning a pet. Amanda and Peach the ferret both have to learn to how to get along with each other, but once they do, they are like the best of friends.  The same goes for Ryusei and Mr. Ken, the human-cat pair of Viz Media‘s Teen+ title Backstage Prince. Ryusei doesn’t like people, so it’s up to Mr. Ken to find him a friend. Akari, a girl from his school, becomes first a friend and then becomes his girlfriend. Cats can be really smart when they want.

For an as-close-to-real-as-it-gets look at pet ownership in manga, look no further than What’s Michael?, an All Ages title from Dark Horse Comics. Michael, the title character, is a large, orange-striped cat, who is portrayed as doing all the cats are want to do; eating, sleeping, playing, and generally causing trouble for his owners. What’s Michael? is truly a comedy, for most of the things Michael is seen doing are the EXACT SAME THINGS cat owners see everyday. It’s funny because it’s true. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find volumes of this series. Here’s hoping Dark Horse releases an omnibus very soon.

Chis Sweet Home 1While cats are cute, kittens are cuter, and that exactly what you get in Chi’s Sweet Home, Vertical, Inc.’s first All Ages title, which will be released in June. It’s about a kitten that gets separated from her mother and siblings, and is adopted by a young family. Chi is really cute, but not in a saccharine sense, and the family has a lot to learn about taking care of a kitten, and most importantly, how much a part of the family a pet can become. Just like its title, it’s sweet and funny and heartwarming.

Like all good things, owning a pet isn’t always easy, but it’s always satisfying. If you are considering getting a pet, please consider adopting one from a local shelter rather than a pet store or breeder. Some of the best cats I have ever had never came with papers, and finding a purebred at a shelter is unfortunately just as likely as a mutt. You can also check out for a shelter or rescue near you.

Shonen Jump June 2010

90_largeIt’s a new month and that means a new issue of Shonen Jump, the soon to be last bastion of manga magazine’s in print. This month continues the preview of Bakuman, spotlights Claymore, and gives a lot more of the same battle manga that has dominated the magazine for the year. Yeah, I can’t say I was all the enthusiastic to pick it up. But let’s start at the beginning. Once you get past all the ads and more ads disguised as “news” you get to some actual manga.

First up is the second chapter of Bakuman. At the beginning there is a short blurb on how kanji can be pronounced in different ways and have different meanings. This will be interesting if you enjoy word games or plays on words. The actual chapter has Akito and Moritaka still debating about becoming manga artists. While the first chapter did pique my interest, this second chapter manages to squash it. Akito gives a lengthy lecture about how the love of Moritaka’s life, Miho, is smart because she doesn’t act too smart, and is just passing time until she gets a husband. Yeah. The whole thing nearly bordered on offensive as far as I’m concerned, and does not impress me in any way.

Naruto was on the less-than-impressive side this month as well. The fight between Killer Bee and the Akatsuki Kisame begins, while Sakura goes to Naruto to confess her love for him, because she thinks that will stop Naruto from chasing after Sasuke. Apparently she thinks Naruto will just give up because she tells him too. And her confession is light on any real feeling. I wasn’t buying what she was saying, and I’m glad Naruto didn’t either. I’ve never cared for Sakura, and this just reinforces my feelings.

The one bright moment in the magazine continues to be One Piece. Luffy’s and Buggy’s groups back out of Impel Down, only to have the ships sailing away. It’s up to Jimbei, Crocodile and Daz to secure a ship while Luffy keeps Magellan at bay. He figures out a way to fight Magellan with Mr. 3’s help. Jimbei shows some of his power as he hits the sea to help everyone. More good action here. And I like that Luffy uses his brain instead of just brawn to keep Magellan back. But it’s Bon’s sacrifice at the end that proves his friendship with Luffy and makes for a great ending.

Bleach starts the actual fight between Ichigo and Grimmjow. It’s 57 pages of one-upping. Ichigo only fights as much as he has to, and Grimmjow just keeps upping the ante, that is until he threatens Orihime and Nel, and of course that’s when the hollow mask comes out. Grimmjow takes on a panther like shape, and battle goes on.

Ultimo continues into territory I don’t care for, with all the evil karakuri doji killing all the good karakuri doji, forcing Yamato to play exactly into their hands. I HATE that good always has to be shown as weak and lose against evil. It’s become a plot device that I’ve really grown to hate, just as I have this series.

The showcase manga this week is Claymore. The chapter shown in this issue is from the upcoming volume 16. If it’s meant to draw me into the manga and check it out, this chapter doesn’t do a very good job of it. I spent more time scratching my head, wondering what was going on that being drawn in. There’s a seven-year jump in the manga, which is where volume 16 starts. This chapter starts with Clare (the protagonist) and a few other Claymores taking to a bald guy, and then it switches to two more Claymores, watching three fight off a huge Yoma. The two spend all their time commenting on he abilities of the other three. There’s nothing to really latch onto in this showcase. It shows the action, but I get more than enough action as it is, and often done better.

No news in this volume about any up coming changes to the magazine, and there no Showcase manga next week.  There will be Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s card though. Look forward to that. As it stand now, I read Shonen Jump just to have post to write, not because I look forward to the titles anymore (other than One Piece). With the end of the Bakuman preview next month, I’m hoping once again, for some kind of good announcement about some new title being added to the magazine. I would seriously consider canceling and switching to Yen Plus, but not with it stopping its print edition (my prefered method of reading). It’s starting to look like manga magazines are going to the way of the dinosaur, which is a shame.

This Week in Manga 5/1-5/7/10


Shopping Alert!

Deep is having a sale on some manga titles in their book section. As well as discounting the books, they are doing a “buy 3, get 1″ free promotion on certain titles. This is a comparable deal as Amazon, and better than Borders “buy 4, get 1 free”. Their shipping is free, and the books are discounted as well. The best discounted deals are on D. Gray-man from Viz, Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi from Yen Press, and later volumes of Black Jack from Vertical. Also included in the sale are several of the VizKids titles such as Pokemon; Adventures and Diamond and Pearl, Leave It to PET, and Legend of Zelda, as well as Udon’s Big Adventures of Majoko. Vampire fans can pick up most of Vampire Knight, you can catch up on the latest volumes of Skip Beat!, or pick up most of Record of a Fallen Vampire which just finished this month. BL fans can get Junjo Romantica and Loveless. If you’ve got some spare cash, definitely check out this sale.

How Bad Is It?

Via Twitter. Builder, a ZDNet Japan blog, has posted the second part of an interview with Misaaki Hagino, President and CEO of Voyager, a e-book developer.  Hagino talkes abou the problems with DRM and getting manga on Apple devices, because of the strict restrictions Jobs and Apple has put on content, and the arbitrary way in which it’s enforced. The interview talked mainly with Hataraki Man (Working Man), a senien manga about a woman working in the publishing industry, which was rejected because of some nudity, but it also mentions that up to 30% of the titles submitted to Apple is rejected. ANN discusses the article, and added more info about iTunes from Twitter comments. This is precisely why I have a problem with Apple and Steve Jobs. I don’t believe they, or anyone else has the right to decide what anyone else can read or watch on their own personal hardware. I don’t care how pretty the hardware or software is. There are some lines that just can not and should not be crossed for any reason. Censorship is one of them.

The End is Near!

While there hasn’t been any official word from Arakawa or Square Enix, the director of the Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood anime has stated on his twitter account that Arakawa has an ending for FMA ready to go and that he and his staff are in the process of animating it. This is both good and bad news. It’s good that the anime ending will match the manga ending, as FMA:B has (for the most part) been following the manga really well up until now. But it’s sad that FMA will be ending. It’s been quite a 5 year ride with this manga, and I’m going to miss Ed and Al dearly. Since Irie has spilled the beans, I wonder how long it will be until there’s a confirmation/announcement from the publisher? I’m sure they don’t want to the series to end either. UPDATE: Sighting on Twitter of confirmation.

We Need More Of This…

And not necessarily for the reason you’re thinking. US comic publishers got together, and with the FBI’s co-operation, got a pirate comics site shut down. What’s probably the most amazing thing about this is that comic publishers got together and made something happen. On twitter there was some buzz about it and how manga publishers should get together and do the same thing to manga aggregator sites that feature licensed titles. Simon Jones of Icarus Publishing (NSFW) has some suggestions for scanlators who want to avoid this fate. While I do believe sites that host licensed titles should be forced to take them down, what I would really like to see, and I’m sure many others would too, is comics and manga publishers coming together to create aggregator sites where people can legally go to get their fix. But that’s probably not going to happen any time soon, is it? It’s easier to destroy than create.

The End is Here!

The dog manga, Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs, has ended it run in the May issue of Young Jump this last week. It will complete at 22 volumes, and was one of the few dedicated dog manga available in the US. Inubaka isn’t a bad title, and might have taken off better if it wasn’t for the fan service that pushed its rating up to a Teen+. Dog lovers will need to go somewhere else not for their fix of cute dogs and girls taking care of them. Viz will have published 16 of the volumes in July, and will hopefully complete it’s run for US fans.

NYT Best Seller List

It’s a serious shift on the list this week! First, Twilight continues to hold on at #2 on the Hardback Comics list. Then over in manga, Yen Press dominates the list while Del Rey takes back the top spot. At #1 is Tsubasa vol 26. One of the few Viz titles (wow, I don’t think I’ve EVER said that!) is Naruto vol 47 at #2. Yotsuba&! vol 8 falls back one to #3 while last week’s #1 Rosario Vampire Season II vol 1 falls back three to #4 . Black Butler vol 1 stays in the top 5 at #5 while Tokyopop returns with Fruits Basket: Banquet, a primer for the series at #6. Yu-Gi-Oh! R vol 4 stays at #7 while Spice and Wolf vol 1 falls 4 to #8. Nightschool vol 3 falls back one to #9 and Soul Eater vol 2 hold on to #10. All the big players make it this week.  Yen Press and Viz continue to show they have the strongest catalog while Tokyopop and Del Rey stick to one-hit-title-wonders. Just like in investing, it’s diversify or die, guys.

Manga For Your Ears

Manga Out Loud

This Week at Manga Village

What I’m Reading

  • Shonen Jump June 2010
  • Pig Bride vol 1-3

Tech Friday: An eReader For Mom?

With Mother’s Day this Sunday, all the ads lately have been about what to get Mom. One common element I’ve seen (beyond the usual of appliances, jewelry, and gardening) is e-readers. has the Kindle on their front page again, touting how it’s the perfect gift for Mom. It’s $259 for the 6″ screen, and includes a wireless connection to Amazon for instant downloading (and gratification).

Sony, maker of the e-Reader, has been pushing it’s low end reader, the Pocket Edition, which has the least number of features. You can find this device at Office Depot, Staples and Best Buy going for $149 through Mother’s Day. You have to connect it to a computer to get the e-books on it, but it also now comes in a “special” pink edition. Ooooo…. Yeah, I’m not impressed by that either. I’ve looked over the Pocket Edition, and wasn’t really impressed with it compared to it’s price. But it’s the least expensive e-ink device out right now.

Aluratech ebookThen, I found out about a new device. The Aluratek Libre e-Reader. It’s a low tech e-reader, that’s also low priced. Online it can be found for around $150, but K-Mart will have it for only $120 through this weekend. It has all the basic function of an e-reader, but the big difference on this device is that it doesn’t use e-ink. It’s actually a black & white LCD screen they call e-paper. The plus about this is that there isn’t the flash that e-ink devices have on page turns, and it’s still fairly quick. It also can view images and play mp3s, even while you’re reading, something the other don’t do. It comes with a 2Gig SD card with 100 public domain books on it to start. It’s rather stripped down like the Sony Pocket Edition. What makes this a better device (to me) is the SD card slot, and lower price. With the Libre, you can have different SD cards for different reading material. One for e-books, one for images (or comics), and one for audio books (or mp3 if you perfer. That makes this a more versatile device, even if it can’t go online.

For someone that just wants to read ebooks and doesn’t need a backlit screen, dictionary, make annotations, or go online, you know like the experience a paper book gives you, this actually looks like a pretty good deal. It’s not difficult to use, so non-tech savvy moms that want to get in on the e-book revolution can with little work. Aluratek also has a step-by-step guide to getting books from, and comments on product reviews of this device suggest that it will read ebooks borrowed through libraries. Here’s a fairly thorough review of the device:

YouTube Preview Image

Think carefully about what your Mother would want and/or could handle. Don’t buy what you think she would want. An e-Reader is a personal device, much like a book. It needs to be tailored to the reader’s needs. Don’t go for all the bells and whistles just because that’s what YOU would want. You want what you give Mom to be used and appreciated, and not left in the box, stuffed in a corner of the closet because she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings by returning it or giving it away. It’s Mother’s Day for a reason. Make sure it’s something she wants.

Rin-Ne Volume 4

This volume starts off with a new arc about Rinne’s family, specifically his father. The truth behind Rinne’s constant debt is revealed, as is more about the criminal shinigami organization, the Damashigami, and Rinne’s connection to it. And there’s some tidbits thrown out about Rinne’s and Sakura’s relationship, and for once, it’s not what you’d expect from Takahashi.

By Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Supernatural/Comedy
Price: $9.99/Free Online (Chapters 29-38)
Rating: ★★★★☆

I’ve been disappointed by the previous volumes of Rin-Ne so far. It’s been so much “been there, done that,” but this volume is different. The quality went up for the chapters covered in this volume, to what I expect from a Takahashi series.  The weak start made getting this far difficult, but I’m glad I waited it out.

This volume introduces Rinne’s father, Sabato Rokudo. He is key to a lot of the problems in Rinne’s life, specifically his debt and the Damashigami.  Sabato is a dead beat dad in every since of the word. He left Rinne with his parents after his wife (Rinne’s mom) disappeared. He is constantly withdrawing money from Rinne’s bank account using a forged stamp. He’s unlike any dad seen so far in a Takahashi series. None of them have ever been this bad. Genma and Ranma always fought, but there was still a feeling that Genma cared about Ranma. Inuyasha’s father left a legacy to his half-demon son so he could survive as well. Sabato doesn’t seem to care about Rinne except how he can use him to his own benefit. Conflict between fathers and sons are nothing new, but the level of animosity introduced between Rinne and Sabato is. One thing that is still cliche for a Takahashi series is Rinne’s mother “disappearing”. She did it Ranma 1/2, and I’m just waiting for something similar to happen again here.

The truth about the Damashigami is revealed in this volume as well. Rinne finds out he’s connected to them in a way he never would have expected, and it just makes him all the more determined to stop the organization. I’m looking forward to more confrontations with the Damashigami. The battles that were seen in this volume reminded me why I enjoy her titles so much. It’s the action and fighting that she does so well. They are imaginative and fun, and it’s what this series has been lacking. So I hope there’s more to come.

There’s also an interesting twist in the relationship between Rinne and Sakura that is shown in this volume. For once, it’s not the girl chasing after the uninterested guy. Rinne is shown to be the one developing feelings for Sakura, while she just thinks of them as friends. She’s not falling for him at all. I think this is a great change from all the girls-chasing-guys that always shows up in shonen titles, and might make the series more interesting to follow.

This volume of Rin-Ne turned out to be surprisingly strong. It had a lot of good action and fighting sequences, as can be expected from a Takahashi series. Sabato is incredibly annoying. I really disliked him, but that’s what makes him a good antagonist. I want to see Rinne beat him now. If Rin-Ne can keep this moment going, then it will turn out to be a really good series. The potential from the beginning is finally starting to pay off. I just wish it hadn’t taken so long to get here.

Honey Hunt Volume 4

As Yura continues her foray into the glamorous world of acting, she’s starting to learn that success is often marred with setbacks and compromises. Although she fails to land the lead role in a new drama penned by famous screenwriter Maki Todo, she does succeed in getting offered the part of the heroine’s friend. However, her boss Keiichi cautions Yura that her increasing popularity will result in greater scrutiny of her private life by the paparazzi. Can Yura continue growing as an actress while keeping her budding relationships with Q-ta and Haruka in check?

Honey Hunt v4By Miki Aihara
Publisher: Viz Media/Shojo Beat
Age Rating: Teen+
Genre: Romance/Drama
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★½☆☆
Buy This Book

The short answer? No. When I started reading Honey Hunt in Shojo Beat magazine, I thought it had a lot of potential. I really enjoyed the first 2 1/2 volumes. They concentrated on the building of Yura’s career and her confidence as an actress, with just bits of budding relationships thrown in here and there. Volume 4 reverses that trend, and not in a good way.

Yura seemed to be on track to start her career. She showed she had guts by telling her parents off on TV, and then decided to be an actress herself despite her shy personality and the sheltered life she lived until then. She had shown she had talent and got the gig to start in a series of ramen noodle commercials. She was finally starting to go somewhere. At the start of this volume, the commercials were successful, and her face was starting to be seen everywhere. She auditioned for a part on a prime time TV drama, and even though she didn’t get the lead, she did get a part, and it’s soon to premiere.

But instead of continuing on the strong career story line, this volume careers off into the relationships with twin bothers Q-ta and Haruka, and then, just for good measure, and because a love triangle isn’t enough, Yura’s boss, Keiichi, is introduced as a possible love interest.  Huh? This comes out of absolutely nowhere. Every scene we’ve seen with Keiichi, is him pushing Yura to concentrate on building her career, but with a few panels, it all gets twisted around, and made to look like his interference with her relationships with the twins is personal. It makes what he’s done seem like petty jealousy. I really didn’t like this twist on Keiichi. He really didn’t deserve it. I became interested in this title to see Yura best her mother, not to her fall for every guy that comes around and visa-versa.

And Yura shows herself to be pretty dumb. This disappoints me too, since I thought she was smart. She gives up her chance to have her first “family” celebration while watching her debut on the prime time TV drama to run off and be with Q-ta, and she lies to do it. Sure, you can chalk it up to her sheltered upbringing, and being naive, but is she serious about her career or just having a boyfriend? I’m getting to like Yura less and less.

I did like the bonus chapter at the end that was the first episode of the drama. In a manga all about making TV shows with scripts and rehearsals that we only get glimpses of, it’s nice to be able to actually see the full story. Aihara’s art has a rather distinct style.  It’s clean and simple. It also appears to be more refined from her previous series Hot Gimmick. I enjoy it more.

Honey Hunt was on a good track, but if it continues in a direction that emphasizes Yura’s relationships over her career, then I’m not interested. She needs to smarten up and fly right, because I want to see her show up her mother on the stage, and not in the bedroom.

Review copy provided by publsher. Images © Viz Media

This Week in Manga 4/24-4/30/10


April’s Movable Manga Feast

The third edition of the Movable Manga Feast began this week, with Ed Sizemore of Manga Worth Reading taking over the hosting duties. The series this time is Mushishi published by Del Rey Manga. An introduction to the series can be found here, while the full list of participates can be found here. The Feast lasts until Sunday, so keep watching for more posts on the series.  I made my first contribution to the MMF with this series, which you can read here. If you have had any interest in this series, definitely check out some of the perspectives on it. You might be surprised.

How Much would you Pay?

Last week Yen Press announced they would be publishing Yen Plus as a digital magazine. This week Deb Aoki of Manga.About.Com has a poll asking how much would you pay for an online anthology. The results so far aren’t too surprising. I myself wouldn’t pay more than $5 for an online magazine the size of Yen Plus since I don’t enjoy reading manga online. I need it to be portable and an e-reader or tablet isn’t in my future anytime soon. What this poll does show is summed up pretty well by a comment made by David Welsh (@mangacur) on Twitter:

Just that manga purchasers seem kind of like public radio members these days. They opt to pay.

And just like public radio, it’s too bad more people don’t opt to pay as enjoy the content.

Chibi Vampire: Axis Powers

Tokyopop has been putting their Facebook page to use by announcing new licenses on it first.  Last week came word of a new Chibi Vampire (Karin) volume called Airmail, that is comprised of short stories published after the main series ended. It will include side stories about the main characters as well as stories about some that were never seen. This week finally comes the announcement every has suspected but hadn’t been able to confirm.  Tokyopop will be publishing the Hetalia: Axis Powers manga. Hints have been coming from the publisher for a while now, but it was made official on Friday.

Go Comi! Forums Down…But Are They Out?

Go Comi! is a publisher that a lot of people have worried about lately. They’ve been quiet, maybe too quiet. Kate Dacey of The Manga Critic caught on Twitter that their forums are down. This isn’t a good sign. Their blog has been silent since the fall, and their twitter account hasn’t seen an update since February. The forums was the last place we heard anything from the publisher and with it gone…maybe that ad a few weeks ago for a manga publisher for sale was Go Comi! I do hope it isn’t. They have some good titles that many would like to see finished.

NY Times Best Seller List

The balance of power shifts once more with new releases from Yen Press on this week’s list. First, let’s check on Twilight. Still #1 on the Hardback list? No?? The Hardback of Kick Ass, which debuted in theaters recently, has taken #1, relegating Twilight to #2. The Paperback list has another movie related title at #1 with Losers. Comics do benefit from movie tie-ins. We’ll see how long it lasts.  Over in manga land, #1 belongs to Rosario Vampire Season II vol 1 once again. Yotsuba& vol 8 debuts at #2, sending Naruto vol 47 back one to #3. Spice and Wolf  vol 1 also debuts at #4, and Black Butler vol 1 move up one to #5. Gentlemen’s Alliance Cross vol 11 falls three to #6 as does Yu-Gi-Oh! R vol 4 to #7. Nightschool vol 3 debuts at #8, Alice in the Country of Hearts vol 1 returns once again to #9 and Soul Eater vol 2 falls back one to #10. It’s quite a respectable showing for Yen Press, with 3 debuts, including an OEL title that not based on a novel series.  They dominate with 5/10, and three of those being in the top 5.

Manga For Your Ears

Sci-Guys Podcast

  • Episode 20 – 27:43 – Twin Spica/Vampire Hunter D on the PSP

This Week at Manga Village

What I’m Reading

  • Black Bird vol 3
  • Black Bird vol 4
  • Goong vol 2
  • Goong vol 3

Japanese Journal: Change of Plan

SmartfmSome changes in RL has forced me to re-evaluate my Japanese studies. In other words, I have too many other things to keep up the pace I started last month. It hit me that had to come up with another plan when it was almost half way through the month and I hadn’t done anything to complete my kana studies.  So, I did what any other sane person would do. I went online to find something more structured, and joined I’ve head about this site for while, but my lack of progress convinced me that it might not be a bad idea to check them out.  And, they’re actually not too bad. I’ve started my first goal, which is of course, Mastering Hiragana.  This goal is a better way to learn the kana, because it not only takes you through the hiragana, it has audio, shows you the proper strokes for writing it, and has a typing of the romanji on the keyboard.  And it doesn’t go in order, like I was doing with my memorizing. This has been really helpful in teaching me to identify characters faster. It quizzes with multiple choice and by having you type the romanji. If you mess up, it takes you back to study the kana and then throws it back into the mix, quizzing you again until you get it right. I recommend checking out this site and goal.

So what have I been doing instead? Well, you might notice some changes to the blog. This is something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while, and I just sat down and did it finally.  I chose this theme so I could start to accommodate writing about more than just manga.  Manga will always be the focus of this blog, and will always be the featured article, but I wanted to be able to write about some of my other interested too, such as TV and books.  Manga updates and reviews will continue to be Mon-Wed-Fri-Wknd and and other interests will be on Tues-Thurs.  I just couldn’t keep up two blogs.  Right know you’ll notice a lot of Doctor Who posts.  I’m catching up and will then stay up-to-date through the end of the series. I hope if you share some of my other interests, you’ll enjoy these posts too.  But don’t worry, manga will stay my main focus. The pile of books next to my desk demand that it be so!

So, I’d love to hear what you think about the changes, the non-manga posts, and I’ll try to be more on the ball with the Japanese. Though, it might be more lucrative for me career-wise to start learning Mandarin Chinese.

Review: The World I Create Volume 1

Being a “Projectionist” can bring lots of money and fame, but only if you are good at it. If you want o become one, first you need to have the power to cast a four-dimensional image. The it is really important to be able to hone and perfect you projecting abilities. The best place to do that, of course, is at a high school filled with other aspiring projectionists. Step into this multi-dimensional world with a very special student body and see how each student deals with his or her special gifts!

World I Create v1By Ayami Kazama
Publisher: CMX
Age Rating: Everyone
Genre: Romance/Fantasy
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Buy This Book

It’s an interesting world that is created in The World I Create, where completely realistic “projections” are created for entertainment.  It’s a lot of hard work, and can be very rewarding.  In this volume, we are introduced to 8 students, all attending school to learn to perfect their abilities.  The all have different reasons for wanting to be a projectionist, but in the end this title just doesn’t distinguish itself well enough from other rom-com titles.

The first volume is comprised of 4 stories that feature two characters each it. It’s usually a boy and girl, and they are all from different grades in the school.  All have different motivations (or none at all) to be Projectionists.  The first story is about a boy and girl who keep failing their first year final and must work together to get a passing grade. The second is about a boy who calibrates other student’s lanterns, and a prodigy girl who only has one projection left in her. The third story is about a boy of meager means who accidentally angers a girl with height issues, who then tries to sabotage his tests.  The last story is about a boy who hates projectionists, and must come to terms with his female best friend becoming one.  Each story is self-contained, though characters from the other stories can make cameo appearances.

Overall, I enjoyed this first volume.  The characters are well developed and each couple compliments each other.  They are different from one another, but not so much that they can’t get along. And none of the main characters are annoying or dumber than bricks. My favorite story of the four was the second one with Akitsu the lantern cleaner and upperclassman Kawanami, the prodigy with only one projection left in her.  Akitsu is quiet and reserved, while Kawanami is more outgoing.  Their story is touching, and while it’s kind of a sad ending, it’s a good kind of sad.

While there’s nothing really bad about this volume, the characters are well written and stories are competent enough, there’s really nothing great about them either.  Nothing about this title really inspired me or got me excited to read more.  It was entertaining and I don’t regret the time I spent with it, it just isn’t a memorable read.  There’s nothing remarkable about the art either.  It’s decent enough, but also very standard.

The World I Create is still a good title, and I would recommend it for the tween-to-teen crowd.  The stories aren’t too complex or overwrought with melodrama.  This title would make a great addition to an elementary and/or middle school library, where the readers may get more out of it that I did.  This isn’t a title that should be passed up.  It has some good stories to tell, just don’t expect to be wowed.

Review copy provided by publisher. Image © CMX Manga

Manga Movable Feast: Mushishi Volume 1

Some live in the deep darkness behind your eyelids. Some eat silence. Some thoughtlessly kill. Some simply drive men mad. Shortly after life emerged from the primordial ooze, these deadly creatures, mushi, came into terrifying being. And they still exist and wreak havoc in the world today. Ginko, a young man with a sardonic smile, has the knowledge and skill to save those plagued by mushi…perhaps.

Mushishi v1By Yuki Urushibara
Publsiher: Del Rey Manga
Age Rating: 16+
Genre: Drama
Price: $12.95
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy This Book

The back cover text make this book sound more sinister than it actually is. This first volume introduces the concept of the mushi, and the man we will follow who has the arcane knowledge to deal with them, Ginko, the Mushishi. Through a series of episodic stories, we see how mushi and men can interact, and how Mushishi bridge the gap and try to foster understanding between them.

Ginko is a wandering Mushishi. He studies and tries to understand mushi. He is often called to a village that needs his expertise, but can also stumble upon people in need of help, even if they don’t realize it themselves. Strange and ancient, mushi are not actually malicious, but like so many other creatures, they can be parasitic. But because they are so strange and mysterious, their work is often mistaken as the supernatural. Mushishi know the signs and diagnose the problem, almost like a doctor. Ginko, like the mushi he studies, is also a bit of a mystery. Little is given away about him, except for the clues that wherever he goes, mushi react to his presence, and the cigarettes he smokes aren’t filled with nicotine, but a special mushi that can trap other mushi or drive them away. He’s also missing an eye, and perhaps has just a little too much knowledge about the source of life, something mushi are closer to than humans.

What makes Mushishi an interesting series is that the focus isn’t solely on Ginko. The mushi get quite a bit as well.  As Ginko identifies the mushi that is the cause of each problem, he also explains about them, though it never feels like a lecture. Mushi are so strange and different, it’s interesting to find out about them, both to the characters and to the reader.  While they are often portrayed as being parasytes that can take a person’s sight, hearing, or even their life, not all are like that.  In a few instances, mushi are shown to have a sentience, that can lure humans in to turn them into mushi, or can show emotion, as in the story of “The Traveling Bog.” A mushi that is making it’s last journey home to die, saves a girl who was sacrificed to a Water God to save the village.

Mushishi is a very well written series.  It’s easy to get drawn into the stories and it’s open world. We only see Ginko as he travels in the wild, going from village to village.  There are no big cities, and while everyone is dressed in traditional kimonos, Ginko has a more western style.  By keeping the setting of the series open, Urushibara gives herself a lot of leeway with her stories. The mushi are very diverse and interesting, though at times, their expulsion can be a little disturbing.  The enigma of Ginko is another draw. We know little of him beyond him being a Mushishi. An interesting story seems to be waiting behind that.

The art is drawn realistically, with none of the manga trappings.  No one makes goofy faces or goes chibi.  It’s an understated style without a lot of detail.  Like the stories, it is simple and straightforward, and at times rather dark.  Mushishi is a slow paced series.  There are no fights against the mushi, and no melodramatic relationships.  It’s more about thinking things through and solving the puzzle of the mushi.  Brains are more important than brawn, and at times it can be rather contemplative.  It’s a great change of pace.