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.

Possible Marketing Strategy for Sony?

e-reader-pocketSony, in an attempt to be competitive with the Amazon and it’s Kindle, announced this week it would be releasing two new versions of it e-reader and a price drop on it’s books.  The Reader Pocket edition is slightly smaller than the original e-Reader, with a 5 in diagonal screen, and a price point of $199, $100 lower than the Kindle 2.  The Touch Edition will have the standard 6in diagonal screen  and has a touch screen with virtual keyboard.  The touch screen will give the reader a more book like experience with page turns and the ability to highlight and add notes with a finger or stylus.  And Sony will now match Amazon’s price on new, bestsellers of $9.99.

e-reader-touchWhile the drop in prices are nice, and may attract more people to Sony, it still doesn’t have a wireless connection.  Users of the Sony E-Reader have to download their books to their computers and then upload them to the E-Reader.  After Amazon’s “1984” fiasco, is that really a bad thing?  Sure, it might be convenient to be able to download a book anytime (in the US only), but Amazon has shown it can and will take back books from the Kindle.  Even though they’ve said they won’t do that again, can they really be trusted?

I think Sony marketing should grab up this ball and run with it!  Turn the lack of Whispernet into an advantage, instead of the disadvantage everyone keeps making it.  “The Sony e-Reader: No Takebacks.”  Push that the user has control over the device and what goes on, AND comes off it.  I personally prefer to have control over the content I buy and put on the hardware I buy.  I’m enough of an adult to take responsibility for what I download and install, and don’t need a “big brother” looking over my shoulder.  If Amazon wants to be another Apple, then Sony should try to be a Google.

Review: Naruto Volume 32

Naruto Volume 32
By Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Action
Price: $7.95
Rating: ★★★★½

A new ninja causes trouble among the ranks of Team Kakashi when they return from the battle against Sasori.  The secrets this stranger hides could be disastrous for Naruto.  Meanwhile, Naruto’s old nemesis Orochimaru has troubles of his own-his stronghold may be infiltrated by a spy!

After saying their goodbyes at the Sand Village, Teams Kakashi and Guy return to the Hidden Leaf.  Kakashi is laid up since his new jutsu takes so much out of him, so a new leader is needed for the team as well as member to even it out to four members.  There’s only six days left until the rondevou Sasori told them about.  Naruto goes searching out his old friends to get them to join, and we see Choji, Shino, Kiba and Hinata.  But the team has already been decided.  Sai, a member of the Foundation of the Black Ops is chosen, and Yamato, also Black Ops, is chosen to lead.  Sai gets on Naruto’s nerves immediately, and on Sakura’s only a few moments later.  But, in order to accomplish the mission, both try to tolerate Sai.

Continue reading Review: Naruto Volume 32

Ask Manga Mom: The “Just Say No” Edition

This question came in from Kyle just this week:

where can i download manga directly and for free xcept for (stoptazmo & animea)….. where can i download pig bride manhwa & captive heart for free????
pls. help me

Um…no Kyle.  Just….no.

Pig Bride and Captive Hearts are licensed titles in the US.  If you can not find scanalations to download, that is a good thing.  If you want to read these titles you need to either buy the books, or borrow them from a friend or the library.  Many public and even school libraries are adding and building up collections of manga and graphic novels.  The value of these books is finally being recognized, not just for stories, but because they also help encourage reading.  If your local library doesn’t have the books you want, ask about inter-library loan.  Get your friends to ask too.  The more interest librarians see in a type of book, the more likely they are to add them.

If you want to read manga online, then check out Viz’s Shonen Sunday website, where new chapters of mang are put up weekly.  Or you can read some new titles straight from Japan with Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump, which has some old favorites as well as new titles.  The more we show these sites to be successful, the more likely it will be that we get manga online legitimately.

This Week in Manga 7/25-7/31/09

San Diego is over and now everyone is preparing for the New York Anime Fest.  But in this week’s round up there’s still plenty of SDCC news to get out and some real thought provoking discussions going on that you don’t want to miss out on.

SDCC Days 3 & 4

Manga Blog has more roundups of the manga panels from Del Rey, Dark Horse and CMX.  CMX is really working to get my money, and with the sounds of their titles, they are going to succeed.  Del Rey might win a few with two of their new titles Panic x Panic and Pink Innocence.

Continue reading This Week in Manga 7/25-7/31/09

PlayPlay

I Just Don't Get It

I’ve been going on a lot about the Twilight/Fanboy debate, mainly because it really irks me.  But the reason for that is that I’ve never experienced any real prejudice in my comic shopping, or at cons.  Several commentors on the Robot 6 blog article about Girls and Fandom gave anticdotes about their experiences with Fanboys and in comic shops, and quite frankly, it shocked me that they were meeting any kind of resistance from the other patrons and/owners.

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Oishinbo a la Carte: Fish, Sushi, and Sashimi

Yamaoka and his father Kaibara Yuzan, have never enjoyed an ideal father-son relationship.  In fact, it’s about as far from ideal as possible, and when they start arguing about food–which they inevitably do–the sparks really fly.  In this volume of Oishinbo, the subject of dispute is fish, starting with the question of whether mackerel can ever be truly good sashimi.  Later, things come to a head during the “Salmon Match” which pits father against son in an epic contest to develop the best dish before a panel of judges.  Will Yamaoka finally defeat Kaibara?  Or will he once again be left in his father’s shadow?

Story by Tetsu Kariya; Art by Akira Hanasaki
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Food
Price: $12.99
Rating: ★★★★½

The overall premise of Oishinbo is that Yamaoka and his partner Kurita are compiling the “Ultimate Menu” of Japanese cuisine for the 100th anniversary of the publishers of Tozai News.  Each volume of Viz’s compilation of this long running series is centered around a type of food. This volume is all about fish.  The stories are episodic, and can be broken down into two types; Yamaoka helping someone out or putting someone in their place about food, and Yamaoka vs. Kaibara, his father, over some kind of food dish.

Yamaoka comes off as lazy and a cynic, but at heart he really is a good guy.  Whether it’s coming to the defense of a young boy’s opinion, helping a man get over being dumped by a girl, or a student accept getting into his second choice college instead of the first, Yamaoka finds a way through food.  I really enjoyed these stories, as they showed both Yamaoka’s knowledge and skill as well as his good heart.

What I didn’t enjoy were the stories with Yamaoka competing with his father Kaibara.  Now, I don’t mind the competitions themselves.  They require both skill and knowledge, with much of the latter being imparted to the reader.  What makes a good sashimi, why salmon and other fresh water fish shouldn’t be used as sushi and what’s really important when making a meal for someone are all topics covered in this volume.  While I found the information interesting and informative, I just couldn’t stand Kaibara.  His overly smug attitude toward Yamaoka, and people in general really struck me the wrong way.  I know I’m not supposed to like him, but his whole demeanor made some of these chapters just unpleasant to read.

The art in Oishinbo isn’t very realistic.  It’s rather simplistic, with a newspaper comic feel to it.  There aren’t a lot of the manga conventions you see in a lot of other titles, making this very friendly to a non-manga reading audience.  The food and the fish are very realistic, on the other hand, showing the emphasis is on the food more than the people.

Overall I found Oishinbo A la Carte to be an enjoyable read, though Kaibara did drag it down some.  Other people may not be bothered by Kaibara so much, so this is still a title I recommend.  If you’ve ever wanted to try a manga without all the baggage, or are just curious about Japanese cuisine, this is a title you definitely want to check out.

Review: Naruto Volume 31

Naruto Volume 31
By Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Action
Price: $7.95
Rating: ★★★★★

Naruto and his fellow ninja engage in deadly conflict with the enemy.  If any of them makes the wrong decision, it could be one of Naruto’s closest friends who pays the ultimate price.

This volume finishes up the rescue of Gaara arc started back in volume 28.  Granny Chiyo and Sakura are fighting Sasori of the Red Sand, and Granny Chiyo’s grandson.  Meanwhile Naruto and Kakashi are chasing Deidara to get Gaara back.  Kakashi uses his Sharigan eye to get Deidara to drop Gaara, and then his new technique when Deidara tries to blow everyone up.  But is there any chance of saving Gaara?

Continue reading Review: Naruto Volume 31

This Week in Manga 7/18-7/24/09

I know this is late, but SDCC threw everything off schedule.  Everything will back by this week.  I hope.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Otakon ran this weekend.  Did you notice?  There were no announcements from manga publishers, and really not a lot of announcements in general.  Whoever planned for this years Otakon really blew it.  Placing it between the biggest industry cons was a serious mistake.  Attendance was barely changed from last years numbers.  Even with this economy, AX showed a reasonable rise, and SDCC sold out at least two months sooner than last year.  So it’s not that people aren’t going to the cons, they just need more time in between to replenish cash reserves.  Otakon, stay in August.

Continue reading This Week in Manga 7/18-7/24/09

I’m Too Old For This: SDCC Day 3

Yeah, I should have written this last night, but I didn’t get home until after midnight and was exhausted.

Saturday was a struggle to wake up, but we managed it, had another nice breakfast, and checked out.  We made it to the convention center just in time for the Women in Manga panel, the only manga panel I was able to make it to all con.  That’s just the way it goes.  I’m not lamenting.  Lots of other people were there to cover the manga panels, and if I’ve got anything to add, I’ll do it in my weekly news post.

Continue reading I’m Too Old For This: SDCC Day 3

Wish You Were There? SDCC Day 1

Even though this strip is 3 years old, it still describes the experience of SDCC fairly well.  The only thing that needs to be added are the lines.  Yes, the infamous SDCC lines were back this year and worse than ever.  We got to the con at sometime after 10am and walked the Exhibit Hall for most of the morning.  My husband took lots of pictures of toys, including a few for me.

Continue reading Wish You Were There? SDCC Day 1

Diamond Not Distributing

It’s that time of month again when I have to place my Previews order.  But now, besides my usual problems of deciding what to buy, I have to wonder if the books I order will be canceled.  Diamond Distributing has had their red pen going at break-neck speed, what with canceling the entire Yen Press solicitation from last month’s order.  They’re back again and while not the only publisher to get red-lined, they just the most jaw-dropping. So, do I chance another manga order through Previews?  I want to support what titles I can with pre-orders, but is it a losing battle with Diamond who seem happy to slash their catalog back to the stone age of  just DC, Marvel, Dark Horse and Image?

If I want a manga to survive, and I want the publishers to know I enjoy the title by pre-ordering it, will the publisher still get my message even after Diamond cancels my order?  Do the publishers see the numbers before the cancellation order comes down?  Am I wasting time pre-ordering with Diamond and risking my favorite, not so popular manga to an untimely death?

I ponder these questions even as I prepare my next order.  I’m playing it fairly safe, though, that’s just the way it came down, and not because I chose not to order from anyone in particular for fear of the titles getting canceled.  These are my orders for this month:

  • CMX – Two Flowers for the Dragon v5
  • Tokyopop – Chibi Vampire v14
  • Viz Media – Gimmick! v9
  • Viz Media – Knights of the Zodiac v27
  • Viz Media – Wild Ones v8
  • Viz Media – Pokemon Diamond & Pearl v5

Chibi Vampire is a must, as it’s the final volume, and the same goes for Gimmick! Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya is on the penultimate volume, and there is no way I am missing out seeing this title finish!  I still really enjoy Wild Ones even if no one else seems to, and Two Flowers for the Dragon has the double bonus of being good and having a good discount.

I hope Diamond lives up to their name, and keeps distributing the manga, not just comics, we love.  I can see the divide between manga and comic readers growing if Diamond continues to feel the need to cancel manga from their catalog.  And that’s something we really don’t need.  There is already a wide chasm, that those of us that read both can barely straddle.  We shouldn’t be forced to chose one over the other.