Category Archives: Articles

Stories and musing about specific manga titles or manga in general.

Second Chance Manga

Going digital can be a big decision, especially if you are like me, and still like to hold paper in your hands. But there are times when buying digital is an advantage, as is when a publisher, like Viz, has a big backlist of titles that are lengthy or difficult to find. One thing you can say about Viz, they have been working hard to make their backlist titles available again in digital. With Viz having their 20% off holiday sale, now is a good time to catch up on some older titles you may have missed out on.

Dragon Ball 1 bigViz really made a name for itself with Shonen Jump and bringing over many of the well-known and loved titles from that magazine. Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z is probably the most beloved series to come out of Weekly Shonen Jump. The first half is action and comedy, while the second half all action that set the standard for fighting shonen manga for years to come. It is 42 volumes, but if you haven’t checked it out yet, what are you waiting? Rurouni Kenshin was another series that helped establish shonen manga in the US. This title brought both men and women, with it’s heavy action, historical backdrop and hints of romance that is realized in the end. It is 28 volumes over 3 story arcs. Yu Yu Hakusho came on the heels of Rurouni Kenshin in the world of anime on Cartoon Network, and was one of the debut titles in the US Shonen Jump. It is a mix of supernatural and action, with a punk lead and an ensemble cast to please any taste. It’s shorter at only 19 volumes. Shaman King was another debut title in Shonen Jump, and is also a supernatural action series. It veers more into the ghost and spirits side of the supernatural, and has a health dose of comedy to balance the more serious action. It’s a healthy 32 volumes.

Hikaru no Go 1Hikaru no Go is a very different kind of shonen, as it’s battles take place on the Go board instead of an arena. It’s smart and intense writing matched with beautiful art keeps is a must for any gaming manga fan. It’s 23 volumes and worth every one. Black Cat is an action title that skirts the supernatural, but is more about being true to yourself and following the path you’ve made despite where others think you should go. It’s the shortest, at only 20 volumes. Almost all of these titles are complete at vizmanga.com, except for Black Cat, and Yu Yu Hakusho which has been coming out for past several weeks and making the top 5 titles every week.

Basara 1Viz isn’t one to ignore the lovers or drama and romance. Over the years they have brought out a lot of shojo titles. Basara is a historical title that thrusts a young woman into the role of her brother to protect the oppressed while gaining allies against her enemies. A late 90s-early 2000s title, volumes for this series are hard to come by, and later volumes can go for big bucks on eBay or Amazon. This digital release puts the series back in a more reasonable price range. It is 27 volumes. Boys Over Flowers is another early shojo title. It is a poor girl against the elite boys story, though the girl is no shrinking violet and stands up to the boys. It been made into live dramas all around Asia and even has an adaptation coming out in America. It is a whopping 37 volumes. From Far Away is a big hit with librarians, who like to recommend it for tween girls looking for action and romance. It features a girl from modern-day being swept away into a fantasy world of adventure. She is rescued by a boy who holds a great evil that she can unleash, binding the pair together. It is only 14 volumes. Fushigi Yugi is the title that started the girls swept to a fantasy world plot and is often the one most other titles are compared to. A teenage girls is pulled through a book to a world where she is believed to a priestess to one of the four gods and must find her seven warriors to save the kingdom before she can go home. It is available in the VizBIG edition in digital, which was a high quality three-in-one release. It only 6 volumes, but are double the price.

Here is Greenwood 1Hana Kimi is a girl disguises as a boy to get close to the boy of her dreams at an all boys school, and has to keep her gender a secret. It’s got lots of humor using the gender-bending a lot, though is more a romance than comedy. It is 23 volumes. Here is Greenwood is another cross dressing all boys school story, but this time, it’s a boy cross dressing as a girl. The boy lead is trying to escape heartache at home, and is thrown into the craziness that is Greenwood dormitory. It is another early aughts series that can be difficult to find volumes of, though it ended after only 9. Please Save My Earth is a rare sci-fi/romance story. A group of teenagers start having the same, recurring dreams of being alien scientists observing the Earth. It deals with love and fate and is another title that is difficult to get volumes of. It is 21 volumes. Red River is a historical romance for the older teen to young adult. It features another modern girl drawn to past to fulfill a destiny, but this time, the past is ancient Mesopotamia, which is in conflict with Egypt. It’s romance is more mature and throws plenty of action. It’s 28 volumes.

There are so many more titles available at Vizmanga.com, but these are taste of older titles that you might not have heard or known about. Many of these are from the 90s and the art might seem a little dated, but the stories are strong, with some of them being the basis for whole new sub-genres. There’s a lot her to take in, so take your time in checking them out. They all feature first full chapters to give you an idea what the stories and art is like. The 20% off sale lasts until December 31, 2013, so don’t take too long. But definitely give some of these titles a try.

 

Why I Don’t Read BL – Manga Movable Feast

I’ve never understood the whole Boys Love phenomenon. I’m not a shipper, so I don’t see the appeal of putting two characters together, let allow two characters of the same-sex. But to be honest, I’ve never read any BL either. I’m not someone who goes out of their comfort zone easily, and I was going to skip this month’s Manga Movable Feast. But then I remembered I had one volume of BL I had received as a review copy back from when Aurora was still around. I had kept it to try, and then it got buried in a box of half read/half unread manga. So I pulled it and decided to read it.

Two of HeartsTwo of Hearts is by Kano Miyamoto. It is one volume long and comes from Aurora’s Deux imprint. It is about Haruya Ito, a writer for an arts magazine who writes articles month to month, but doesn’t seem to have any ambition beyond that. One day, he meets a troubled teenager, Maki Hidaka on the beach near his home. Maki has issues; he’s a germaphobe, OCD about washing his hands, hates to be touched and is malnourished as his mother is an alcoholic and doesn’t provide meals or enough money for Maki to get his own. Haruya becomes interested in Maki, both professionally and personally. He has become a sort of muse for Haruya and he starts working on a novel. His partner and editor, Yasigawa, doesn’t care for the attention Haruya gives Maki which leads to some melodrama, but it’s too late. Haruya has chosen Maki, which Yasigawa finally accepts. The story ends happily with Maki turning his life around, and Haruya being able to write again.

At its most basic level, this is the story of two lost and broken people finding and healing each other. The gender of the characters aren’t really important. It would work just as well with a man and woman, or two women, because the basic relationships are the same. I didn’t have a problem with the story. It’s actually a kind of story I enjoy. But I can’t say I enjoyed this one. The problem for me was the characters. I really couldn’t connect with any of them. It’s not that they were badly written. On the contrary, the characters were portrayed very realistically. However, they felt very dull to me. For me to really enjoy a story, I like to feel some kind of connection to at least one character, but I really felt nothing for any of them. They were exactly as they appeared on the page; flat characters that didn’t speak to me. If they looked more in the  story as they did on the cover, I might have liked it more.

Now, this could just be this individual story. Maybe this one wasn’t the one for me. Maybe it didn’t have the right hook. But I have to be honest, I just don’t get it. I don’t see what’s so great about putting two guys together in bed. The descriptions on some many of the BL books I see usually has one character dominating and forcing himself on the other. This kind of thing is usually decried when it’s a heterosexual couple. What makes it better when it’s a homosexual couple?

I can now truthfully say I’ve tried BL, but it just isn’t my bag. I’m going to stick to my shojo and josei manga for my relationship drama. The closest I think I will ever get to BL is shonen-ai, with stories like Godchild by Kaori Yuki, where the relationship is implied and can be read either as BL, or bromance by the reader. I’m happier that way.

If you want to take home this manga, leave a comment on the post and I will pick one at random to win it. MUST BE 18 OR OLDER.

 

 

Manga Dome Podcast Episode 13: Too Many Alices!

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This week I’ve got a few short news stories, the goings on at Vizmanga.com and I look at the similarities of three Yen Press titles that are based on or inspired by Alice in Wonderland: Are You Alice?, Alice in the Country of Hearts and Pandora Hearts.

The podcast is on Facebook now too! Like it there too for new episodes and updates about what’s coming up!

Continue reading Manga Dome Podcast Episode 13: Too Many Alices!

Manga Dome Podcast Episode 8: Jmanga A Final Farewell

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This week I look at the news from Anime Boston and Fanime, some new license announcements from Seven Seas Entertainment, the Vizmanga.com top 10, and bid a final farewell to Jmanga.

Continue reading Manga Dome Podcast Episode 8: Jmanga A Final Farewell

The Best Sellers We Won’t See

Dragon Ball 1When publishers started to seriously bring manga over from Japan, they started with the creme-of-the-crop. For a lot of people that meant titles from Weekly Shonen Jump. Just in the last thirty years, that has included a lot of manga. But if we look at this article from Rocket News, which looks at the top 20 Shonen Jump best sellers of all time, there are a lot of familiar titles to American readers. Death Note (20), Rurouni Kenshin (12), One Piece (2), and Dragon Ball (1) are among the titles featured on the list. In fact  of the 20 best-of-the-best sellers 14 have been released in the US, and have (mostly) been completed. Of the Viz Media releases, only Jo Jo’s Bizarre Adventure (7) did not get a full release. Only the third part of the story, “Stardust Crusaders”, which was 16 volumes on its own, was released. But at least the whole part was released.

City Hunter 1So that leaves 6 titles, but haven’t we see some of these non-Viz released titles? Sacrilege you say? How could anyone other than Viz have released Shonen Jump titles? Back when Shonen Jump was just starting, another manga magazine was starting as well; Raijin Comics. Backed by Sega Corp, this magazine was able to snag 3 Shonen Jump titles; City Hunter (17), Fist of the North Star (9), and Slam Dunk (5). City Hunter, a mid 80s title only got 5 volumes released. The same was released for Slam Dunk. Fist of the North Star fared better as wasn’t serialized in Raijin, so it could come out faster. Nine color “Master Editions” were released. Slam Dunk was able to find new life at Viz Media, with the company picking up the series, and is near completion in releasing it. But what about City Hunter and Fist of the North Star? Both have very dedicated fan bases in the US, though they are much smaller than say Naruto (4) or Bleach (6). It is probably highly unlikely that these titles will ever see print release, which I think is a real shame. Fist of the North Star is practically legendary for its blood and violence, while City Hunter combines fun and sexy comedy with action. I would so love to see both of these titles at least get digital releases. For more information about why I think these won’t be coming out, check out this ANNcast from 2011 with Jonathan Tarbox who worked at Raijin before moving to CMX. He’s got a lot of great insider information.

DragonquestTheAdventureOfDai_vol1_CoverSo that leaves 4 titles (technically) that we haven’t seen in US, and will most likely never see. Rokudenashi Blues (17) is a coming of age sports title. For some reason, in the US, sports title=no sales. This includes Prince of Tennis (15) as well as Slam Dunk, both popular sports in the US, but not on the bookshelf. Rokudensahi is also another mid 80s title, which gives it its second strike. No one, it seems, what to read “old” manga. This is a shame. Rokudensahi sounds like a fun title. It’s a comedy that uses famous musicians and athletes as character models and for many of the jokes in the stories. This probably makes the title “too Japanese” to market, giving it its third strike. Dragon Quest (11) is based on a popular series of video games of the same name in Japan, and to a lesser extent in the US. You’d think that would give it some traction here in the US, combined with the fact that Akira Toriyama of Dragon Ball fame did the character designs for the game. But, again it’s a late 80s title and 37 volumes long, so no chance in print.

captain-tsubasaIf sports manga about basketball, football, baseball, or tennis doesn’t do well, you can well imagine a manga about a sport that isn’t very popular, like soccer, wouldn’t do well at all. Enter Captain Tsubasa (8). This title is a big hit all over world, even making into Arabic countries, where the main character can been seen on the side of delivery trucks. But, as another early 80s title and over 30 volumes long, you can bet it’s a no-go here. The last series, Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Koen Mae Hashutsujo (3), is not only the longest running series in Weekly Shonen Jump, it’s earned a Guinness Book of World Record for the longest running series in a youth magazine! And at 37 years and 184 volumes and counting, it certainly deserves such an honor. Kochikame is about a police office in stationed in downtown Tokyo. The series combines slapstick humor with pop culture references and a touch of drama. It also has a lot of strikes against licensing. Length and subject being the two biggest. Only a hardcore group of fans would be interested, or may even have heard of it before now. And then, at 184 volumes and counting, where do you start?

kochikameAll in all, that’s not too bad, to have only 4 titles total to have never been licensed in the US at some point. We’ve been lucky that Viz Media has been committed to publishing complete all the WSJ titles they license. With sometimes very different audiences on this side of the Pacific, some of Japan’s biggest hits haven’t fared as well here. Dr. Slump (16), Akira Toriyama’s title before Dragon Ball was never a popular title here. And One Piece, which is enjoying immense popularity in Japan, has only been a blip here in comparison. Yu-Gi-Oh! (19) and Yu Yu Hakusho (13) enjoyed some popularity here thanks to a boost from the anime showing on Cartoon Network first. Hunter x Hunter, by the same artist as Yu Yu Hakusho, Yoshihiro Togashi, might be more popular here is he could keep a consistent release schedule, and not disappear for months (or years) at a time. I’m really not too surprised that a title like Bastard (18) with its mix of dark fantasy and heavy metal music hasn’t been a big hit. It might have found greater appeal 15-20 years ago. But 21st century audiences aren’t going to get or appreciate it. But since it’s closer to a mature title for content, that would put it closer to the right audience, but it also a much smaller one.

With Shonen Jump here in the US going day and date with Japan, there will probably still be titles we won’t see here, either because of content or popularity. We’ve already see 2 titles in WSJA go down after a volume or two. But maybe we’ll at least get to see more than we would have before.

 

 

 

 

This Week In Manga: Goodbye Jmanga

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Gundam Seed Destiny AstrayI have some good news and bad news…which do you want first? The good news? Okay! According to ANN, over in Japan, the official Gundam portal site has announced the return of the Gundam Seed Astray manga side stories. Gundam Seed Destiny Astray R and Gundam Seed Destiny Astray B will be returning and will feature the characters Lowe Gear, a member of the Junk Guild, and Gai Murakumo, a mercenary with their respective Astray suits. More details about the titles and their starting dates will be in the new issues of Hobby Japan and Dengeki Hobby Magazine later this month. The Gundam Seed Astray manga were published in the US by Tokyopop back in the mid 2000s. I have all of the Astray side stories and really enjoyed them. They fit very well within the Gundam Seed Universe and the characters are a lot of fun; at least in Frame A and B, with Lowe and Gai. They are definitely worth tracking down if you are a fan of the Gundam Seed Universe. They much better than the Del Rey Gundam Seed Destiny manga. It’s too bad though that Gundam doesn’t have the audience to warrant they being licensed here.

As my next story shows, getting any new niche manga at all will be even harder now. After almost two years, the digital only manga site, Jmanga will be shutting down for good in May. Their sister site Jmanga7 is already gone, and the purchasing of manga by member with existing points will continue until March 26. All access to the site will end by the end of May, so members have until then to read the manga they have purchased. No downloads of purchased manga will be provided, but Amazon gift cards will be given to members with balances.

jmanga_logoThis news came about suddenly, and was quite frankly a shock to me. I’ve been a big supporter of Jmanga. They not only made available titles that most publishers wouldn’t try to print, but also rescued a lot of titles from defunct publishers Tokyopop and Del Rey, and even translated new volumes that furthered or completed some of these canceled titles. While I wasn’t thrilled with the online-only reading they provided, their promise of apps with offline reading filled me with hope. They are the third publisher to put the manga on a 10″ Android tablet, but the only one that had a lot of titles I wanted to read. They brought over some fun cat manga with Edo Nekoe Jubei Otogizoshi and Poyopoyo’s Observation Diary. They continued tactics, a Tokyopop title I loved but was left incomplete, as well as licensing Mythical Detective Loki by the same creator.  They released Takao Saito classics that wouldn’t otherwise see the light of day like Japan Sinks, and some great otherwise unknown josei like Urameshiya. I admit I was angry when I heard the news. I didn’t want it to be true, because I didn’t want these wonderful titles, or the promise of more, to go away. I couldn’t wait for Thursdays to see when the next volume in one of my series’ was coming out, or to see what new titles they had. It really brought me down all day.

Edo Nekoe Jubei 1That isn’t to say Jmanga was perfect. I had my issues with them, such as being able to read their site on my tablet before and after the release of the app. Their price point at the beginning was rather high, especially when they were only giving 5 page previews, sometimes with no dialog at all! I didn’t care for the point system either, and as I said about the no-download option, this situation is exactly the reason I was wary at first. But I took the chance anyway, because I wouldn’t have been able to read any of these titles otherwise. I don’t regret any of the titles I’ve purchased, not even the poorly translated/localized ones. Jmanga  has such a diverse line of titles that could really appeal to just about anyone.

One of the things that make me sad about this has been some of the manga community’s reaction. There have been people gloating over the closing, with “I told you so”s and they deserved it. No, they did not deserve to be shut down like this. Not only are their people out of work now, but there is also less manga available to read legally. Whatever you thought about the site and their policies, they had some great service, both through the site and on social media. They were quick and responsive (unlike some publishers **Kodansha**), and they really tried to solve the issues, sometimes successfully, and sometimes not. But just having that feeling that someone is listening can really go a long with people.

Sherlock Holmes 1So what went wrong? I know this will be discussed for the next few days and weeks. We will probably never know for sure considering how tight-lipped Japanese companies can be about failures. One thing we know for sure from a tweet from the @Jmanga_official account, is that they ran out of money. Some will say scanlations were the cause, I’ll agree with that, up to a point. I don’t think it was the scanlations that killed it, but that a lot of people probably didn’t know about the site in the first place. There have been plenty of examples of people asking publishers to license things that are already licensed, or that they have been publishing themselves! Awareness of ways to obtain legal manga still seems to be low. It’s not too surprising when a search on Google for a manga will result in the first page being almost all scanlation sites, and no sign of the legal publisher until the 2nd or even 3rd page in. Studies show most people won’t go past the first page, so this really hurts discovery of the publishers.

Part of the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” is that the site should have either had mobile apps out and/or been a Netflix type of site with all manga available for a low subscription price. I’ve thought about this second option, and while it seems like a good idea, it occurs to me that sites like Netflix and even Viz being able to sell their digital manga at half print price is that, in both cases, the creators of the media have already gotten their initial investment back. The movies have already been made and shown in theaters, DVD/Blurays sold, and the manga has been translated, edited and published before going online digitally. Jmanga was trying to do this from scratch at the price of titles that were already funded. I’ll admit to being one of those who decried Jmanga’s price at the beginning. But with hindsight being 20/20, and more information coming out about how much really goes into releasing manga digitally, Jmanga was probably selling their manga for too little.

Japan SinksWill we see another site like Jmanga again? Not anytime in the near future. The manga market continues to be too unstable for experiments like Jmanga, and publishers too conservative to take that kind of risk. Right now, I would just be glad to have publishers make their titles available for ALL platforms and not just the few niches they have remained in, to give EVERYONE, REGARDLESS OF PLATFORM, the same reading options. Digital Manga Publishing has taken steps in this direction with their e-Manga site that allows you to download the titles in the reader format of your choice. Of course you pay for that privilege, but that may be the only way for DRM-free manga to thrive.

So, goodbye Jmanga. It was fun while it lasted, and know that you will be sorely missed.

Two More To Vertical

Vertical joined the licensing mania from last week when they announced two new titles at their panel at Katsucon. In Vertical’s typical style, they are not your average manga, but fit perfectly into the catalog they’ve been building for the last couple of years.

kakisenKaikisen, also known as Tropic of the Sea is by re-known anime director Satoshi Kon, who passed away in 2010. Kaikisen was Kon’s first manga. In a seaside town there is a legend of a “sea people” who exist nearby. The townspeople made a promise to these legendary people, but resort developers now threaten to force the town to break their promise. This title is just one volume long and is scheduled to come out in September. Several of Kon’s anime have been released in the US, but this is his first manga. I’m intrigued by the premise of this title, so it’s getting a “can’t wait!”

sickness-unto-deathSickness Unto Death is a two-volume series by the creative team Hikari Asada, writer, and Takahiro Seguchi. It is about a young man, Kazuma, who has come to room at a mansion as he attends school, where he is studying clinical psychology. Also living in the mansion is a woman, Emiru, who suffered from deep despair, and is killing her slowly. Kazuma tries to learn the reason for Emiru’s despair before it is too late. The first volume of this title will come out in October. This is another title that sounds fascinating. It gets a “can’t wait” too!

Summer WarsWhile not announced, Vertical also confirmed back at the end of January to also have received the license for the 3 volume manga adaptation of Summer Wars, by Iqura Sugimoto. Eleventh-grader and math genius Kenji Koiso is asked by Natsuki Junnouchi to join her at her family’s home for a summer job. Having a secret crush on Natsuki, the shy Kenji agrees. He comes to find out his job is to pretend to be her fiancée for her family at their celebration for the matriarch’s 90th birthday. While Kenji is running around trying to keep up with Natsuki and her story, he receives a text with a math problem. But his solving it causes a hijacking of the social network through which most of the world’s social and business traffic flows. The movie was very popular not long again, so this adaption, which Vertical will release in 2 300 page volumes in October, should be as well. I’ll definitely give the first volume a try, and give it a “can’t wait!”

 

Manga License Mania

It started with Kodansha announcing they licensed Sherdock, and then the unconfirmed (but hopefully true) license by Seven Seas of Dictatorial Grimoire. But starting on Valentines Day, February 14, it started to rain manga licenses from Viz Media and Seven Seas Entertainment (officially).

yoroshiku-master-1Viz announced at total of 5 titles, 4 shojo/josei and one shonen. The two shojo titles are by creators who have already been published in the US. Yoroshiku Master, or Sweet Rein as Viz is calling it, is by Sakura Tsukuba. Two of her titles, Land of the Blindfolded and Penguin Revolution were originally published by CMX. It’s a 3 volume title about a girl and boy who bump into each other and become bound together, and the boy tells the girl, Kurumi, that is a Santa Claus and his master. This one looks a little shaky for my taste. I don’t quite get the obsession the Japanese seem to have to make Santa Claus a cute girl, so this one will have to get a “wait and see.”  This title will be available in November. Seems appropriate to come out right before Christmas.

Seiyuu Academy 1Voice Over! Seiyuu Academy has a little more appeal to me. This 11 volume shojo series was created by Maki Minami who created Special A, which I wasn’t impressed with, so I’m hoping this one is better. The subject matter is already more appealing. It’s about a girl, Hime Kino who enrolls in Hiiragi Academy to follow her dream to become a voice actress. Stories that go behind the scenes of anime and manga creation interest me, so this one will be one I “can’t wait to read!” This title will be out in October.

Midnight_Secretary_vol01Midnight Secretary is one of the josei titles. It’s release will be the debut of its creator Tomu Ohmi. It’s a 7 volume supernatural series about an excellent secretary, Kaya Satozuka, who is assigned to be the personal secretary to the difficult managing director of Touma Foods, Kyohei Touma. Being the professional that she is, Kaya takes Kyohei’s attitude in stride, and soon learns the reason for it; he’s a vampire. I like the sound of the premise of this series, and that it’s in a more professional environment appeals to my aging side. This is another “can’t wait.”

happy-marriageHappy Marriage sounds like something out of a Harlequin romance, so I have my reservations about it. This 10 volume series is by Maki Enjoji, another new creator to US audiences. Chiwa Takanashi agrees to an arranged marriage to company president Hokuto Mamiya, a man she doesn’t even know, in order to save her father from debt. Chiwa doesn’t think the arrangement is binding, but Hokuto seems to think otherwise. I find Harlequin-esque romances to be a guilty pleasure at best, so I don’t hold a lot of hope for this one. I also find it going 10 volumes a little hard to believe, so it gets a “wait and see.” It comes out in August.

MagiCover01Also coming out in August is a new Shonen Sunday title, something we sadly haven’t seen for a while. Magi is ongoing with its 16th volume having just come out a week ago. It’s by Shinobu Ohtaka whose previous series Sumomomo Momomo was published complete by Yen Press. Magi is based on characters from One Thousand and One Nights, and re-imagines them for a new adventure. Aladdin is searching for the Dungeon, a place where untold riches are told to be kept. With his genie Hugo, and his friend Ali Baba, he sets out into the desert to find his fortune. This is a good title for Viz to bring out, as it currently has an anime that is streaming here, and is getting a lot of good word-of-mouth about it. My only worry is that, I really didn’t like Sumomomo Momomo. I hope she learned her lessons from that, and judging by the good things I’ve heard about Magi, she just might have. This is another “can’t wait.”

A-Centaurs-Worries-1-JPSeven Seas Entertainment also announced three new titles with a romantic theme. All three feature creators that haven’t been published in the US yet and all have a supernatural bent. A Centaur’s Life is a slice-of-life comedy series about a centaur girl Himeno, her dragon-winged friend Nozomi, and spiral-horned Kyoko dealing with the issues of life and love in a high school setting. It’s an ongoing series by creator Kei Murayama, with 3 volumes out and will be released in November. Of the three Seven Seas titles, this is the one I am most interested in. It at least seems the least scary. I like mythical creatures, and slice-of-life stories, so this one gets a “can’t wait.”

Love-in-Hell-1-JPLove in Hell is also an ongoing series with only 2 volumes out so far. It’s by Reiji Suzumaru and will come out in October. It’s about regular guy Rintaro Senkawa who gets himself kills after drinking too much. He gets sent to hell and into the hands of sexy succubus Koyori, who acts as his guide. Rintaro must either repent the sins of his past, or spend the rest of his afterlife eternally tormented and teased by a scantily clad devil with a spiked club. Yeah, I don’t see this one leaping to the top of my reading pile any time soon. Comedy and spiked clubs don’t make good bed partners as far as I’m concerned. This one gets a “wait and see.”

Monster-Musume-1-JPMonster Musume is ongoing and also at 2 volumes so far. It’s by Okayado and will also be coming out in October. It’s about teenager Kurusu Kimihito who is “volunteered” in the government exchange program for mythical creatures after they are discovered to be real. The snake woman Miia is sent to live with Kurusu, and it’s his job to take care of her and help integrate her into society. Only problem; she’s hot and there is a strict rule against inter-species breeding. Add a flirtatious harpy and ravishing centaur, and you’ve got the makings of a harem comedy. The first thing that tells me this isn’t a series for me, besides the word harem, is the size of the girl’s breasts. This is definitely meant to cater to a male audience. I’ll give this series a “wait and see, bordering on hell no!”

After this landslide of manga, Seven Seas World War Blue 1announced one more license. World War Blue is a 9 volume fantasy manga. It’s by Crimson and Anastasia Shestakova and re-imagines the video game console wars in a fantasy world. In the land of Consume, the kingdoms of Segua and Ninteruda fight for dominance. Ninteruda, led by their Emperor Marcus on his dinosaur steed are pushing Segua back, until a boy named Gear, who brags of his great speed appears and starts to turn the tide. The first volume will come out in July with subsequent volumes coming out in August and November. Included in the volumes will be extras such as color maps and features on video game history. While it can often come off silly to make inanimate objects into people, I like this concept. We have a lot of video games and consoles, and opinions on which are the best to match. This definitely gets a “can’t wait!”

Kingyo Used Books 1With some much new manga coming out in the last half of the year, it’s sad to also have to say goodbye to another series. Kingyo Used Books has been cancelled in English. The series, which started serialization online as part of the SigIkki experiment by Viz Media, was like a primer in manga history, as it covered different titles through the people who came through a used manga bookstore. While the title no doubt had low sales, it was licensing difficulties that ultimately did the title in, as reported by Shaneon Garrity in a series review she did recently. This saddens me, as I really enjoyed the series. I loved learning about the different manga, and really enjoyed the stories where people’s love of their favorite manga was rekindled. And I would LOVE to have the underground storage to store all my manga!

 

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Over at Good E-Reader, Brigid Alverson recently conducted an interview with Kevin Hamric, the director of publishing, marketing and sales about Viz Media’s digital strategy. We learn that Viz’s digital titles are selling strong on all the platforms it is available on, that digital rights are now just as important as print rights, and that recent WSJ title Nisekoi was digital only, but Viz is now going back for print rights. It was good to see that Viz recognizes that DRM is only harmful to consumers and that just making titles available in the format people want will fight piracy better than just trying to stamp out scanlation site. On the whole is a good informative article, and I was with it all the way until this quote from Kevin:

The more you make it easy for everybody, the more you are going to sell stuff. We want to make our product available in any format [readers] want. Whatever way they want it, we are going to give it to them.

Okay Kevin, I and a lot of other people judging from the comments on the Google Play site for the Viz Manga app, want it available on 10″ Android tablets. When is that going to happen? Why would you make it available first on Android devices with screens 7″ and smaller first when you did the exact opposite for iOS devices? You talk in the Good E-Reader article about getting manga on black and white devices. How about finishing the job for color Android devices? Put your money where your mouth is.Viz Manga

A Different Kind of Grimm

Dictatorial-Grimoire-1-JP-coverSeptember is shaping up to a good month for new releases. All-Fiction.net dug up a new solicitation on Amazon for a new series from Seven Seas. Dokusai Grimoire, or Dictatorial Grimoire as Seven Seas is calling it is a three-volume manga series. It follows Grimm Otogi, a far-flung descendant of the original Brothers Grimm, has inherited a mansion from the deceased father he never knew. Along with that inheritance comes a curse; his ancestors made a deal with the mystical beings known as Marchen Demons who now have a claim on his soul. Otogi, with the help of a male Cinderella, must find a way to free himself by unlocking the power of a manuscript and stop the demons before they get him.

I had found a love for fairy tales back in college, when for a paper, I had to write about Andrew Lang, an inspiration for Joseph Campbell, the well-known mythologist. Since then, I grab up titles that have something to do with fairy tales, which makes this title a must have for me. Over the course of the volumes Otogi will have to deal with tales featuring Cinderella, Snow White, and Little Red Riding Hood. While this title might not seem to be breaking new territory, it does appear to have two things going for it. One, it has bishies, and two, it’s a supernatural story that isn’t a romance! As much as I enjoy supernatural romances, it’s nice to take a break every now and then.

How Much Is That Detective In the Window?

Sherdock 1I check out Baka-Updates Manga for occasionally for new and interesting titles. When I see an interesting title, I throw it into my wish list so I won’t forget it. This site is especially helpful for License Season at Vertical. I few weeks ago, I saw a title go by that made me raise my eyebrows and even comment about it on Twitter; Tanteiken Sherdock. I was attracted to it because of the “tantei” in the title, denoted this as a detective series. But when I clicked on the link, I was surprised to find what it was about! Sherlock Holmes is re-incarnated as a talking dog! His Watson/side kick is a high school boy named Takeru Wajima, who can understand him for some reason. I thought it was silly, but not to surprising considering the interest in Sherlock Holmes lately.

Imagine my surprise when I learned yesterday that Kodansha Comics has licensed this for the US! I was stunned, but in a good way! I’ve been bemoaning the fact that there aren’t a lot of good detective titles available in English. Detective Conan/Case Closed and Young Miss Holmes are about the only ones that come to mind. I’m thrilled that there will be another great detective roaming the bookshelves out there. Another reason to celebrate is the writer of the series. Yuma Ando is a pen name of Shin Kibayashi, who also penned Kindaichi Case Files, another detective series that I miss dearly. I loved Kindaichi, so I have high hopes for this series as well.

So, if Watson can become a female, why can’t Sherlock become a dog? He’s a cute dog too. Springer Spaniel by the looks of it. I’m thrilled that this series is coming to our shores and can’t wait for September to get here!

Window Shopping: January 2013

There’s a lot of manga out there to read, and not a lot of time or shelf space for it all. But just because I can’t have it all doesn’t mean I can’t dream! Every month I’ll go through the new releases and pick one or two titles that best fit in three categories: What I’m Going to Read is for those titles I collect, or already know I want. What I Want to Read are for those that I’ve read at least one other volume of and am curious for more, and What I’m Interested In is for those that I’m become curious about, either through word of mouth or description.

07ghost02What I’m Going to Read: 07-Ghost is a license Viz rescued from GoComi! Even though I already have the first two volumes, I had to have the new Viz editions because 1) I want to read the new translation and see if the story makes any more sense, and 2) so I have a nice, consistent look on my bookshelf. I loved 07-Ghost even with its confusing story, mostly for the bishi, and for its similar look to Saiyuki, another favorite of mine. Volume 2 is out this month. I’m really looking forward to reading Strobe Edge volume 2. I was surprised by how much I liked volume 1, so I have to see if volume 2 can continue the momentum of the first. Even though it sounds like your average shojo, it really felt different to me. I hope it can keep it up.

Jiu Jiu 3What I Want to Read: Jui Jui was a title I wasn’t impressed with, but thought I saw enough potential that I thought reading future volumes would be in order, just not in print. I would like to read volume 2 and 3, which is the current volume out this month, but only digitally. Since it didn’t grab me that much, going digital is fine for it. I also want to read 21st Century Boys, but I really shouldn’t until I get caught up with volumes 6-22 of 20th Century Boys. Only time will tell if I can hold off or just say spoilers be damned!

Jack the Ripper 3What I’m Interested In: I don’t generally like horror, but I still have a strange fascination for it. Even more so when a creator can take a historical figure and put a new spin on them. Jack the Ripper: Hell Blade sound exactly like that. It’s got the supernatural twists with Jack the Ripper perhaps not being a villain. It seems to have a Hellsing feel to it. I just hope it’s not like Jack Frost from Yen Press. The third volume is out this month from Seven Seas, and serves as a reminder that I’d like to read it sometime. And with it being available digitally, I can pick up this manhwa whenever I like.

The Complete Break Down:

Read:

  • 07-Ghost Volume 2
  • A Bride’s StoryVolume 4
  • Afterschool Charisma Volume 7
  • Black Butler Volume 12
  • Bloody MondayVolume 9
  • Crazy For You Volume 5
  • Fairy Tail GN Volume 23
  • Mythical Detective Loki Volume 3
  • PoyoPoyo’s Observation Diary Volume 6
  • Strobe Edge Volume 2

Want:

  • 21st Century Boys Volume 1
  • Case Closed Volume 45
  • Dengeki Daisy Volume 11
  • Jiu Jiu Volume 3
  • Otomen Volume 14
  • Sailor Moon Volume 9

Interested:

  • Book Gir Novel 6: Book Girl and the Undine Who Bore a Moonflower
  • Jack the Ripper: Hell Blade Volume 3