Category Archives: Articles

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

San Diego Comic Con: Highs and Lows

Another San Diego Comic Con has come and gone, and it’s left us with a lot of announcements to sort through. Viz Media, Yen Press, Kodansha Comics and newcomer Jmanga all had panels filled with news and announcements. But who had exciting announcements and who were more ho-hum? Read on to find out more!

Viz Media started off their first panel by announcing that their digital manga would be available on android devices. That seemed like an exciting announcement until you go to the Google Play site and get the message that the app isn’t compatible with your device. It seems Viz has made their app for only phones and not tablets. This really disappointed me, since I prefer reading comics and manga on my tablet, but at least android users can finally download their Vizmanga.com manga. They really should have just said phones instead of “devices”. That was really misleading. I’ll be satisfied when they’re available for any device. The only other big announcements from Viz was from their Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha panel. Blue Exorcist, a current title will be joining the digital magazine as a monthly title as will a new series, Takama-Ga-Hara, which just started in WSJ. It’s about a boy with superhuman powers who wants to become a mangaka rather than a fighter like his brothers. It might be interesting.

Jmanga.com was the big winner for me with its announcements. They also announced their manga would be available on android devices, but they really mean “devices”; both phones and tablets will be supported, and will be available in October. I very excited about this! They also announced, and only got permission to do so minutes before the panel, that they would be releasing Kodansha titles previously released by Tokyopop and Del Rey. This is great news too! There were a lot of good titles that went OOP when Tokyopop lost the Kodansha licenses. On my personal wish list of titles to return are Kindaichi Case Files, which ended before its last volume as did Dragon Voice. And it’s a crime that Fruits Basket is no longer available. This title really needs to return digitally. On the Del Rey side, seeing Nodame Cantabile return would be awesome too. One other license that Jmanga announced was Mythical Detective Loki, by Sakura Kinoshita, the artist of tactics. I’ve been wanting this series ever since I first found out about it at least 7 years ago! I can’t wait for this to come out.

Yen Press has been a staple at SDCC since 2007. They don’t seem interested in making their manga available to everyone. Their position for not going on android is that they are “waiting for it to work right.” What does that even mean? Android seems to work just fine. Mainstream comics have no problem with it, Dark Horse has a great app, and Viz and Jmanga are moving to it. What of it doesn’t work? They did promote their Nook app, that only works on Nook devices (not the app for other devices or web), so it keeps it to a small audience and will never grow. Their license announcements weren’t too exciting either. Not really interested in any more James Patterson titles, and getting more YA supernatural titles will get just as tiresome.

Of their Japanese licenses, BTOOOM! sounds like .hack meets Survivor, and not too interesting. Another might be interesting if the mystery side is played up as much as the horror. Welcome to the Erotic Bookstore looks the most intriguing. It’s the memoirs of a woman working in a bookstore that opens up an erotic section. It sounds like it’ll be really fun. Another interesting statement was that they seem to be backtracking on their “no license rescues” stance. They say they are looking at some Tokyopop titles, even though they declared they wouldn’t after TP closed and fans asked them to.

Kodansha spent their panel talking mostly about their current line up, with little in new titles. They didn’t even bring any digital initiatives, and remain iOS only. There was a lot of talk of Sailor Moon, and Negima ending. Of their new titles, there were a few. Along with Negima‘s last volume will come a spin-off, Negiho, which puts Negi as a teacher of young girls. Yeah, still just as disturbing. Natsume Ono fans will be glad to get her collection of short stories, Danza. And I don’t know if this is a new announcement or not, but it’s new to me. Missions of Love is a shojo about a cellphone novelist who gets involved with the most popular boy in school.

Winners and losers for San Diego 2012? Jmanga takes it for me all the way. They had the most announcements that really excited me. Loser would be Kodansha with nothing that even piques my interest. Viz beats out Yen Press by at least making an effort to reach out to android fans. But con season isn’t over yet. With Otakon and NYCC still come, there are still chances for more and exciting announcements.

 

Go Orange

If you’re any kind of reader of this blog, you’d notice by now that I like themes. I like creating posts based on some theme, and I like to feature posts on the blog based on a theme, usually from the current month. While I already have a few for April already, Easter and April Fools Day, I’m always on the look out for more. While clearing out my email, I discovered a new one. April is the ASPCA’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month. I’m a big animal lover, so this is something I take very seriously. Our last two rescues were dogs that were obviously abused. The are very submissive, and for a couple of months one of them would cower and roll ever when I just walked by him. So, to show my support, I have made what changes I can to both my blogs to incorporate the color orange into it.

I will also be writing a couple of posts here involving manga and the mistreatment of animals. Sadly, as in real life, it can and does happen in manga. Fortunately though, in manga, the perpetrators also usually get what they deserve. That’s not always true in real life.

There’s no Manga Wrap Up once again this week, but there will be the next week. I’ll be finishing up the last few volumes of Honey and Clover and Sand Chronicles. I had hoped to have Honey and Clover done this week, but no such luck.

Rescued! 07-Ghost

What a wonderful treat to find in my mailbox! Viz Media has rescued 07-Ghost, a title originally published by Go! Comi before they went out of business. I know 07-Ghost wasn’t a popular title with everyone. Even I had a few difficulties with the first volume, but I was still sucked into the story and absolutely loved the character designs. I’ve only been able to get a hold of the first three volumes, the third being a lucky find at a Borders not long before every store was closed. I’ve wanted so much to read more, but never though anyone would pick it up. This is a wonderful Spring gift, and just before Wondercon. I wonder if Viz will have more surprises there. November can’t come fast enough! Thank you Viz!

Manga Wrap Up Week Four: Black Cat

Here we are at week four of the great Manga Wrap Up, and thanks to being sick on Monday, I was able to get through four volumes of the next series I’ve decided to finish, Black Cat. I was off by how many volumes I had to read. I thought I had to start at volume 14, but I actually had to go back to volume 10 to find anything I remembered, so the extra time came in good use, but the being sick sucked.

Black Cat is about Train Heartnet, a former Chonos assassin who gives up his life of killing turns Sweeper, or bounty hunter. His weapon of choice is a gun that he can make fast and impossible shots with. His partner, Sven Vollfied, a former IBI agent also turned Sweeper. He possesses a “Vision Eye” that allows him to see a few seconds into the future, and makes all kinds of gagdets to help them catch their quarry. Joining them is Eve, a young girl whose body is filled with nanites that she can control and transform into any kind of weapon. She was created as an ultimate weapon, until Train and Sven freed her. Now, she travels with them, wanting to be a Sweeper as well. Train’s past comes back to haunt him in the form of Creed Diskenth, also a former Chonos assassin who want Train to join him in taking over the world, along with his revolutionary group, Apostles of the Stars.

I really enjoyed reading the back half of this series. All of the introductory of plot and important characters was done and it could get straight to the problem at hand; stopping Creed. One of the things I really like about Black Cat is that it doesn’t have a bunch of multiple arcs with multiple big bosses to beat. Through the 20 volumes there is only Creed and his minions. That isn’t to say that there aren’t obstacles, but the series doesn’t have to be a series of battles, powers up and more battles that I’ve started to grow tired of in shonen manga. Train only gets one major power up throughout the series, and it’s just at the half way point. He’s already strong enough, and smart enough, to take on all of Creed’s lieutenants. He only needs the power up to stop Creed, and even then, he still has aces to pull out of his sleeve before resorting to that power up to finally defeat Creed.

The story is tightly written. Once Train and his friends decide to go after Creed once and for all, the story is dedicated to following that path. The characters, which have seen some growth up to now, really come into their own in not only prepare for the battle, but in accepting who they are the path they have chosen. Sven finally accepts his “Vision Eye” as his own, and not just a gift from a friend. Eve grows not just in her ability to transform herself, but also accepts the path of protecting instead of just killing. And Train throws away the ideas of revenge and decides to take Creed alive so he can pay for his crimes. And along the way, as they battle the Apostles of the Stars, our heroes are able to reach out to the misguided members and show them there is another way to live.

These back volumes also give us more of Train’s past, as we learn about what happened to Saya, the Sweeper that pushed Train off the assassin path, and there’s even a bonus story that shows how Train and Sven met and became partners. The final volume ties up loose ends nicely as we get a glimpse of where our heroes, and villains, are a few years into the future, and things seem to be looking well everyone. It’s a happy ending, and not at all forced.

Yabuki called this series “Part 1″, implying that there would/could be more stories with these characters. I really hope so. He created a great bunch, and I would love to read more about them. I especially liked Train, with all of his cat-like traits, and his love of milk is really cute. Yabuki has a great sense of humor that borders on wicked. I loved one scene when they are attacking Creed’s hideout, and Eve uses a new attack that renders the guards….naked. The strategic positioning of some cats was hilarious! Black Cat is a series I may have second thoughts about giving away.

Since I finished up Black Cat so quickly, I decided to keep with the “Black” theme and also finished off Black Jack by reading the last two volumes. I’ll be doing a full review of these two volumes, but let me just say I felt these were the weakest of all the volumes I’ve read. Not bad, just not as good.

  • Black Cat volume 11-20
  • Black Jack volume 16-17

Next up is Chibi Vampire. I know I stopped on volume 7 on this series, so I only have seven more to go. If time permits, I will finish up another series, though not one I’ve been reading regularly, Zombie Loan.

Manga Wrap-Up Week Three: Bizenghast

Three weeks into the new year and I’ve wrapped up my second series. Bizenghast is an eight volume series that was among Tokyopop’s first original titles, and was also the longest. I first discovered it when Tokyopop ran the first few chapters online. It’s a fantasy mystery series about a young girl, Dinah, who lost her parent when she was young. With her only friend Vincent, she discovers the Mausoleum, and accidentally enters into a contract with it, and must solve riddles to free trapped spirits. It’s a coming of age story for Dinah as she learns to live again and starts to become someone who can rely on herself. Both the story and the art are uneven, especially at the beginning, but improve as the story goes on. The improvement in the art is very telling, especially in the last volumes.

I enjoyed watching Dinah’s journey overall, but did have some problems with it. It felt rushed at times and dragged at others. I would have liked to have seem more about Bizenghast’s past more in the first volumes, so that it doesn’t seem like a thrown on after thought at the end. I also didn’t really care for the way Vincent’s fate was handled. It was too abrupt and passed over too quickly to really make an impact. Despite these problems, the characters really make this series shine. The first guardian Dinah gains is Edaniel, and some of his lines and antics can make a volume worth the read. He is usually seen as a demon cat, but in human form is a total bishie. I prefer his cat form. He makes a lot of pop culture references, but it was the Mythbusters one that not only caught me off guard, but totally sold me on him.

I was going to donate this series to my library. It seems perfect for teens and I think they would really enjoy the series, until I got to the end of volume 7. It wasn’t the end of the series like I thought. It ends on a big cliffhanger, and while there is a post on LeGrow’s blog about being in talks with Tokyopop about getting volume 8 out (it was scheduled for release in July 2011), that post was from September with no updates. So my question to all you readers is, do I donate this series knowing it may never end and leave all its new readers hanging? Is that really fair?

  • Bizenghast Volumes 1-7

This week I also read the first volume of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. In a previous post I had said I couldn’t bring myself to take the chance of buying it and then find out I didn’t like it. I had seen plenty of reviews and opinions, and people seemed split about it. But, thanks to Ash Brown of Experiments in Manga, I won a copy of volume 1! I have to admit that I did like the first volume, but only because I listened to Erica Friedman on the Manga Outloud podcast about it. She explained that the series was based on Tokusatsu shows like the Super Sentai series. When I read it with that in mind, I could not only totally see the Super Sentai influence, I could also see past a lot of the problems people had with the volume. I’ll go into that more in my full review. I may look into further volumes.

  • Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Volume 1

In the next week I will be starting on Black Cat, a shonen series from Viz. I got to volume 14, though I may have to go back a volume or two since I haven’t read a volume since 2007 or 2008. I’m going to be interspersing some newer manga in this week as well, so I can keep up on reviews too. Maybe some Black Jack or Zombie Loan.

 

Manga Wrap-Up Week Two: Rurouni Kenshin

Week two ends on a better note than last week. After so much talk, I finally finished reading Rurouni Kenshin. I can’t really say I cared much for the last arc. I liked all the flashback scenes and Watsuki did a good job of balancing it’s telling with the present. But there was so much fighting, and lot of it seemed pointless. The big battle with Enishi and his “allies” was just to show how powerful everyone had grown over the series. And the battle against the 4 Stars felt like it was just filler. The ending did tie up everything nicely. I liked that everyone went their separate ways, following their own paths instead of staying together in Tokyo. I was glad to see some hope for resolution for Enishi as well. That is one of the things I liked about the series overall. There was feeling of hope and redemption all the way through the series. Kenshin never gave up one anyone, and redemption was always in reach, if one chose to reach for it.

The ending did have a cliché feeling to it, especially with Kenshin and Kaoru’s son Kenji being such a crybaby, mama’s boy, the exact opposite of Kenshin. It wasn’t bad, it just felt meh. But I like Watsuki’s suggestion for a sequel even less. I would rather like to see Kenji and Yahiko and Tsubame’s son fighting together as buddies but competitive rather than against each other.

Overall, Rurouni Kenshin is a great series and really deserves the praise it has gotten. I think the first volumes and the Tokyo arc are the strongest of the series. At least, they are the volumes I enjoyed the most. The light humor was more prevalent in these volumes. I don’t mind the darker elements that were introduced as the series progressed, especially since the series still ended on a happy note, but I do like the lighter elements more.

  • Rurouni Kenshin Volume 21-28

Next up, I’ll be starting the Tokyopop series Bizenghast volume 1-7. I’ve only read the first volume of this series, and it was several years ago, so I’ll be starting back at the beginning.

Manga Wrap-Up: Week One

“Manga wrap-up, manga wrap-up
Let’s finish up these series
Manga wrap-up, manga wrap-up
Cause there’s no more room in here!”

“Manga wrap-up, manga wrap-up
Let’s finish up these series
Manga wrap-up, manga wrap-up
Cause there’s no more room in here!”

“Cause there’s no more room in here!”

Hey! Welcome to my first post of the new year chronicling my attempt to catch up on all the titles I’ve fallen behind on and may even give away! I even have a theme song! (Bronies will recognize the tune. I blame my youngest daughter for its creation. :) ) Anyway, this first week didn’t go quite the way I had planned, but that should come as no surprise.

I started 2012 by preparing for the January Manga Movable Feast. This month features the works of Usamaru Furuya. I’ve been saving Genkaku Picasso for this and finally read volume 1. I will have to get 2-3 now. I really liked it. Too bad it’s not available digitally, but at only 3 volumes it won’t be so hard to fit on the shelf. I hadn’t planned on reading Furuya’s version of No Longer Human from Vertical, but I decided it wouldn’t hurt to check out the first volume. I flew through that one, as well as volume 2. I really didn’t think I would like it, as I don’t care much for “classics”, this one was a compelling read, and well worth the time.

Also not on the long-term reading list, but still a volume I’ve had for several months, I read volume 4 of Degenki Daisy. It s a series I like, but since it’s available digitally, I’m going to move it over to that realm as a space saver. I’m not sure how much of a re-read it will be, so going digital with it is probably the best option. Volume 4 will be my last physical copy. If Viz has another good sale, I’ll probably replace 1-4 as well.

It took me until Friday night to finally get into the pile I want to work on. I picked up Rurouni Kenshin, but it had been soooo long since I read it, I wasn’t sure what volume I had stopped on. I know I had finished the Kyoto arc and was starting on the final. I ended up re-reading volumes 18 and 19 before determining volume 20 is where I want to start. I finally got to that Saturday afternoon.

I knew this was going to be a long, uphill battle. With so many other books to distract me, it might be harder than I anticipated to get through this pile. But I am determined to do it. As my new theme song says, there is no more space. So, the final tally for the week is:

  • No Longer Human v1-2
  • Genkaku Picasso v1
  • Degenki Daisy v4
  • Rurouni Kenshin v18-20

Check back next week to see how far I get with Kenshin. Only 7 more to go, in this series.

Looking Ahead to 2012

Looking back over 2011, I realize it didn’t quite turn out as I had intended it. RL seriously intruded on my blogging and reviewing, though I have tried to at least update once a week. My company’s move to a new computer system not only took up a lot of time, but sucked a lot of life out of me. (BTW, if you ever hear the word ‘Oracle’ at your company, run away. Very fast. Or stock up on alcohol. I’ve heard that helps a lot.) I even missed this blog turning 4 in November! That’s how out of it I was!

With all of that behind me, I know look ahead to 2012, and my plans for the new year. In my last anniversary post, I said I was going to donate some of the manga I wasn’t reading anymore to my local library. In the last week of 2011, I finally did it. I took 71 volumes to the children/teen librarian after communicating my wishes. A look at the library’s graphic novel collection showed that it really needed some help. I took over mostly completed series’ or one shots, so that there wouldn’t be gaps of hangings. The only exceptions to this were Detective Conan/Case Closed and Ranma 1/2, of which I had the first 5 volumes of, and the first volume of Twilight. If Twilight proves popular (yeah, if), I’ll try to see about getting the second volume for them. It was still hard for me to do this, even after I had made up my mind, put the books in a separate book and even put the box by my desk. Even now, I feel pangs of regret, even though I know the title I gave away are things I won’t read again. It’s hard to be a packrat/collector.

In order to continue to reduce my manga collection, I have to really start to read more. I have several completed titles that I’ve read most, half, a few volumes or even none of! I’m making it a goal this year to get through these titles and see more of them go to the library. It should come as no surprise that most of these are shonen titles. I finding I’m not as enthusiastic about shonen as I was 10 years ago. There are exceptions of course, such as One Piece, but reading the latest Shonen Jump made me realize how much I didn’t care about the story or characters in most of them. I’m kind of glad Viz went digital with Shonen Jump. Now I can read them with out having piles of magazines cluttering up my house. In order to help me keep up on this, I’m going to keep track of the titles I read here, and maybe even do a short review consisting of a couple of lines if the mood hits me.

And speaking of digital, I will be trying to get more manga that way, at least as much as the publishers will allow me. I’m going to rant now for a few lines (paragraphs). I want to support publishers and their move to the digital realm. Digital manga is great, doesn’t take up shelf space and on the right devices, can actually look as good as print. The problem is that publishers AREN’T making their digital manga as available as their print. Viz, Yen, and new comer Kodansha are keeping their manga on mostly proprietary devices. iOS devices still get the preferential treatment, and recently both Viz and Yen put manga on Barnes and Nobles Nook tablets. Yet they continue to ignore Android. Just over Christmas, 1.3 million android devices were activated. Do they really think it’s a good business plan to continue to ignore this market? Yes, they give lip service to Android, saying they’re “working on it”, but I’m really tired of that excuse. Just as I’m tired of “Android is difficult to program for.” Sorry, that doesn’t cut it any more. Nook tablets and readers are Android based. If they can make their manga for those devices, they can make it regular Android devices. I want to be a legal buyer of manga, but right now, the aggregators and scanlators hold the Android market. How is that helping their cause? And if they give the excuse of the Japanese publishers are keeping them from going it, and then Jmanga gets an Android app out before them, then they should just hang their heads in shame. Both the US and Japanese publishers who are limiting the readership.

And before anyone says I should vote with wallet and not support the publishers, let me say I AM. I will not buckle under and buy the hardware they are putting their manga on. Content should never be limited to a hardware platform, and yet that is EXACTLY what all the manga publishers are doing. If you don’t buy this other company’s hardware, you can’t have our books. That’s not the way to expand readership. That’s how you limit it to an elite few, and I don’t believe books should ever be limited to one group over another.

And while I’m ranting, Jmanga, GET SOME VOLUME 2s OR MORE UP! It’s nice that you are getting titles up, but there have been hardly any second volumes go up since the site started. I’m not going just keep getting the first volumes of titles if there is no hope of the titles continuing! Yen Press, even if you do finally put your manga out on a platform I can read, I’M NOT PAYING $8.99 FOR THEM! I wouldn’t pay Jmanga that much, what makes you think I’ll pay you that? And Square Enix…just get over yourself. Did anyone notice your site was down and unavailable? No? That should tell you something. Alright, I’m done.

I’m looking forward to a more productive year here at Manga Xanadu. And while I do feel a little prideful at the size of manga collection, logistically it’s not feasible for me to have over 1000 volumes (which I probably had at one point this year). I’m hoping for more manageable shelves, and to fill more digital shelves. This will also hopefully mean more content for this blog. I hope you’ll continue to follow me into the new year.

BTW, little known fact. 2012 and the end of the Mayan calendar wasn’t originally meant to mean the end of the world. It was supposed to be when the Maya, who are actually beings from the star Arcturus in the Pleiades cluster, will return to earth via their “galactic synchronization beams” and transform reality. So, no worries about the world ending. :) (Source: Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries; Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology by Kenneth L. Feder, 1990 edition.)

 

Horror MMF: Zombie Apocalypse

Zombies, once creatures of voodoo, have evolved into something more sinister and scary ever since George Romero got a hold of them and created Night of the Living Dead. Ever since the introduction of the slow-moving, decaying, brain-eating monsters, they have grown in popularity, until the turn of the 21st century when they started popping up in hordes everywhere; movies, books, comics, and manga!

Continue reading Horror MMF: Zombie Apocalypse

Horror Manga Movable Feast: Day 7 Links

It’s the night before Halloween, with parents heads filled with all the little monsters that will be coming to their doors and children dreaming of the haul of candy that also fills the dreams of dentists. But here at the Manga Movable Feast, Horror is still at the forefront.

Continue reading Horror Manga Movable Feast: Day 7 Links