I’d heard about this series when the anime came out, and was curious, until I read about how graphic it was, and was about the flesh-eating undead. Not my cup of tea. But fans of the series have been pre-ordering this series like gangbusters, even with releasing the digital version early, so Viz has another potential hit on their hands. This is one series I’ll have to watch from the sidelines, but readers with no qualms about characters that don’t eat just brains, but the rest as well should check this series out.
Crunchyroll, the anime and manga streaming service, continues to add manga titles to their all-you-can-eat manga service. This time, they are pulling titles from the Square-Enix library, and are available world-wide.
Aizawa-san Multiples is a rom-com harem series. The frail beauty of the school Shino Aizawa confesses her feeling for Souta Mizutani. Soon after another Aizawa appears, and another, and another! Each one is slightly different, but they are all Aizawa. Are they twins? Clones? Dopplegangers? This series sounds like it takes the comedy in romantic comedy very serious. It might be interesting to see how this gag manga handles the harem model with the boy being surrounded by several of the same girl. There are currently 2 volumes of the series out so far.
Father and Son is a slice of life shonen comedy. It follows former gangster You-san who has to take care of his wild and unpredictable son Shou and the eventful everyday life of the lively pair. This series sounds like it would not just make a good light comedy, but could also be suitable for younger readers, with slap-stick as part of the otherwise easy-going comedy. It would be a good pick up for Yen Press as an Yotsuba&-esque title, if it does well. There are currently 4 volumes available.
Tales of Wedding Rings is a fantasy series. Sato has been in love with his childhood friend Hime since she and her grandfather became his neighbor 10 years ago. When she suddenly says good-bye, he chases after her and is transported to a fantasy world. He catches her and they marry, leading Sato to become the legendary Ring King. This series is created by the duo Maybe, who also created Dusk Maidens of Amnesia, a manga that got an anime adaptation recently. The title initially caught my eye, but the description didn’t do anything to pull me in. But, I am intrigued by Dusk Maidens, so there might be something more here, that not coming through in translation. The series has two volumes out so far.
Donyatsu is probably one of the strangest titles I’ve ever seen. It is about an animal/snack hybrid, in this case a cat who looks like a donut, living in a post-apocalyptic world where all the humans are gone. He is joined by other animal/snack hybrids such as Bengaru, and feline bagel composite. This titles just sounds completely bizarre. I know cat manga can be weird, but combining them with snack foods is just plain out of this world! Such a quirky cat title is hard to pass up. This title so needs a print edition. There are five volumes available.
It’s interesting that all of these titles are relatively new. This should make catch-up easy. The longest is Donyatsu at five volumes, and I can’t imagine it being dialog heavy. It’s also good to see more publishers get on board with Crunchyroll’s all-you-can-read streaming. There is such a wide variety of titles available, and if streaming the only way we can get some of them, (I’m looking at you Donyatsu), then I’m all for it.
Viz has raided the old Tokyopop vaults to come up with three new titles to debut under their Select digital imprint. Welcome to the N.H.K. was one of the first light novel manga adaptations to come to the states, and arrived shortly after the anime, giving the title a lot of name recognition. Aion is by Yuna Kagesaki, the creator of Chibi Vampire. This follow-up didn’t do as well as Chibi Vampire, a sentiment I agree with. I didn’t find the first volume all that great. Metamo Kiss is by a mangaka not previously published here, and is a gender/body switching shojo, if you’re into that sort of thing.
They’ve got some good bundles this month too. Saint Seiya, Knights of the Zodiac, is an awesome series that didn’t get the love it deserved in print. That can be corrected with one of the two bundles they have available: vol 1-14, or the whole thing, 1-28. Also available is the older teen historical, time travel series Red River, filled with action and romance. A very addictive series. I recommend both!
Publisher Seven Seas Entertainment recently made another license announcement on their Twitter feed and Tumblr blog. They have picked up another title that fits into their “dark and violent take on kid’s franchises” line.
Tomodachi x Monster is a recent series by Yoshihiko Inui and is published in Futabasha’s seinen magazine Manga Action. The story follows middle school student Wataru, who hears a mysterious voice after wandering away from school in his mountainous village in rural Japan. He discovers a new “friend”, a monster from the mountain, and one of many that want to befriend young kids like Wataru. This new friendship may transform Wataru’s life, or it may shorten it, as he is needed for his “friend” to participate in a horrifying death match.
If you’ve ever dreamed of being able to kill the Pokemon, or trainers in the video game, then this is probably the series for you. Tomodachi x Monster is described as an “ultra-violent, dark parody” of the Pokemon series, as if the blood-splattered cover wasn’t enough of a clue. It fits in with Magical Girl Apocalypse, taking on the kids-with-monsters genre in a smiliar fashion. Kids with no conscience get a hold of monsters. What could possibly go wrong?
There are two volumes out, with a third scheduled for release in Japan in June. Seven Seas plans on releasing their first volume in February 2016. I don’t know if this is a series I’ll be picking up. I’ve never wished Pokemon any harm (but I’ve never played the video games either), and I do like the Pokemon manga. Really I just don’t know how to feel about a series whose description can put “cute” and “gore” not just in the same sentence, but connected as well! Maybe I’ll have to give this series a pass.
As much as you love a title, at some point it’s got to come to an end, usually. There are the few exceptions that got 10, 20, 45 years, but they are not the rule. Most manga titles do (and should) have an end. Lately, the end for some titles released here have been announced to be ending serialization in Japan.
Chi’s Sweet Home is a cute, heartwarming series about a family who find and adopt a grey and white tabby kitten. Each short chapter shows the family and kitten, Chi, interacting as well as Chi’s adventures with other pets in their apartment complex and neighborhood. The series recently when on a year hiatus and only just returned. It has now been announced that the next volume to be released, Volume 12, would be its final. The series was being released by Vertical Comics, and has been a big hit for the company, with fans of all ages picking it up. The series has been fun, heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking, but always a great read. I will certainly miss it when it’s gone. Vertical will release the final volume in August, and will follow-up with a re-release of the series in omnibus editions.
Mission of Love is a romantic comedy from Kodansha Comics. The series is about a high school girl named Yukina who has the reputation of being an ice queen at school, but is also the author of a very popular cell phone novel. To help her writing, she blackmails popular fellow student Shigure into helping her complete “missions of love” to improve her writing. Kodansha’s Nakayoshi magazine has announced the series will end in the issue out in June. There have been 17 volumes released so far, with the series most likely ending at 18. Kodansha USA has only released 10 so far. Frankly, I’m surprised the series went for so long. The last volume I read, vol 9, felt very stale and repetitive. It’s not a series I’m going to miss.
Most recently announced was the that the final chapter of QQ Sweeper would be released in Shogakukan’s Betsucomi magazine out May 13. It is a supernatural romance about Kyutaro Horikita, the tall, dark and handsome cleaning expert of Kurokado High School. He soon meets transfer student Fumi Nishioka. With Kyutaro’s help, Fumi will learn how to cleanse the spirits from the school and maybe from her heart as well. The newest series by mangaka Kyousuke Motomi, creator of the recently ended Degenki Daisy, just started last March, and Viz only just announced its license in February. Also included with the announced ending, was that a sequel series would in the August issue out in July. It seems kind of odd to me to end one series just to continue it a few months later. I don’t have an opinion on QQ Sweeper yet. The first volume isn’t scheduled to be released until October. But, I’ve like her titles I’ve read so far, so I think I will probably like this one as well.
Gender-Bender titles aren’t usually my thing, but because it’s twins switching places rather than some science/magic causing it, it might not be too bad. We’ve seen lots of titles of a girl passing off as a boy in an all-boys school plenty of times. Seeing how a boy deals with pretending to be a high school girl would be much more interesting. Hopefully it won’t hurt to read.
Comics and manga publisher Dark Horse made a surprise appearance at Anime Central, a Mid-west con held in Chicago, IL. They had an even bigger surprise for attendees as they announced four new titles to ship in 2016.
Giganto Maxima is a one shot volume by Kentaro Miura, who is best known in the west for the series Berserk, which is also published by Dark Horse. The series takes place 100 million years in the future, and is about the war between the forces led by Zeus, and the Nether forces led by the giant Alcyoneus. The series is the first original work from Miura in 24 years, since the start of Berserk, and fans will either be happy or disappointed that this volume will be more light-hearted and idealistic. Dark Horse will publish this series in February 2016.
Danganronpa: The Animation is the manga adaptation of the TV series which is based on a video game. The series follows a group of high school students, each of whom possess a different exceptional talent. They are all locked in at school, and told that the only way to escape is to kill a fellow student without getting caught. After a student is murdered, they hold a trial to find out who is responsible while their own lives are on the line. My oldest daughter was obsessed with this series for a while, so I’m familiar with it somewhat, which just makes me more interested in reading the manga. Or at least I can say I’m getting it for her and then just read it myself. The series is complete in four volumes with the first volume set to be released in March 2016.
I Am A Hero is a bit of a coup for Dark Horse. The series is published by Shogakukan, whose titles are almost exclusively published by Viz Media. It is the company’s first Shogakukan title since they published Godzilla back in 1988. I Am A Hero is about Hideo Suzuki, a struggling manga artist who might also be mentally unstable. One night, he sees the victim of an auto collision with a twisted leg and broken neck, get up and walk away. As more of Tokyo’s dead start to rise, there are two things that allow a crazy man like Suzuki to survive; the belief that he is destined to be a hero, and something that is a rarity in Japan, a gun. The series has quite a pedigree as it was nominated for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Manga Taisho Awards, and won the 58th Shogakukan Manga Award in the General Category in 2013. I’m on the fence about this one. I’m not excited about more zombie manga unless there’s a good twist, and I don’t know if Suzuki will be enough of one to make it interesting. But all those award nominations make me think there might be more here. I might check it out. There are currently 16 volumes out, and Dark Horse will publish the series in a 2-in-1 omnibus format starting in April 2016.
The final series is a CLAMP title rescue. RG Veda was CLAMP’s debut title. It was originally published here by Tokyopop ten years ago, so needless to say, it is very out of print. The story is about Yasha-o, the Guardian Warrior of the North who discovers the last child of the Ashura-o clan, Ashura. The pair go on a quest to find the Six Stars and defeat the tyrantical King of Heaven, Taishakuten. The series features elements of Vedic mythology, and takes its name from one of the four Vedas. This series was the first CLAMP manga I read that I liked enough to read to the end. It was originally published in 10 volumes, but Dark Horse is basing its release on the 5 volume omnibus version released by Kadokawa. They are further condensing the series down to 3 omnibus volumes of around 600 pages each like their editions of Cardcaptor Sakura and Tokyo Babylon. These will be killer books. The first volume will be out in August 2016.
One of the advantages to digital manga is exactly this; being able to quickly and easily sample titles. Sampler packs were one of the things I really looked forward to picking up at SDCC. All the manga publishers would have them, though supplies could be limited, so it was best to get them on the first or second day. Even my kids, who really are manga readers would grab one for the ride on the shuttle back to the car or hotel. This new pack from Viz only features shonen titles, but not only do they offer the first chapters of some of their most popular titles, it previews the next big chapters in the stories, such as after time jumps in One Piece and Naruto, and a new story arc in Bleach. While I do like this sampler pack, I hope Viz will do one for Shojo as well.
For the past two weeks Seven Seas Entertainment has been raining down manga license announcements. Four titles have been announced. Some were surprising not just for Seven Seas to get, but just to plain see in print in the US. The collection does have a little something for everyone.
The first title announced was Franken Fran. This dark parody series is about Fran Madaraki, the “daughter” of a highly skilled surgeon who has disappeared. Fran, takes up the family profession by performing surgeries in her secluded gothic home with her “sister” Veronica and a monstrous entourage. If you are willing to pay her price, Fran will perform any operation, including bringing back the dead. Her creed, “Lives must be saved, no matter the cost,” means the end justifies the means when fulfilling her duties. The title will be released in 4 2-in-1 omnibuses and will include color inserts. This title has gotten a lot of good word of mouth recommendations, so I’m looking forward to checking out the first volume at least. It will be coming out February 16, 2016.
Their next pickup was Not Lives, a “virtual gender-bender” manga. It is about game designer genius and high school student Mikami whose next big project is a romance game. Among the materials he received for research was a game he didn’t remember getting. Curiosity gets the better of him and his plays it, only to find himself thrust into a survival game and transformed into a girl. And in this game, it isn’t just his character on the line, but also his own life. This series sounds a like BTOOOM! meets Sword Art Online meets any generic gender-bender series. None of these titles really interest me so this looks like a series will pass up on. There are currently 7 volumes and the series is ongoing. The first volume will be released with color inserts on March 29, 2016.
The third license announced was Orange, a time-travel shojo. In this series, 16-year-old Naho Takamiya receives a letter from herself 10 years in the future. In the letter, she tells of an incoming transfer student named Kakeru Naruse, and that her biggest regret was that Kakeru was no long with them. She asks her past self to look after him. Naho didn’t believe the letter at first, but as things in the letter start to come true, including Kakeru’s transfer, she has to decide what the letter means for herself and Kakeru’s future. The series will be printed as 2 omnibus volumes with wraparound covers and color inserts. They will each be 380 pages long, or the equivalent of 2.5 Japanese manga, confirming the length of the series at 5 volumes. There are currently 4 in print. I was intrigued by this series when Crunchyroll announced it would stream it digitally. But now that it’s coming out in print, I will definitely be checking it out. The first volume will be released January 26 and the second in May, 2016.
The final series announced was Hour of the Zombie. Guess what genre this title is from. The story is about Akira, a typical high school student who has dreams and aspirations like everyone else, an unrequited crush on his childhood friend Kurumi, who seems to be more interesting in his best friend Umezawa. Their love triangle is trival in comparison to the drama that hits their school. Students start to turn into zombie, eating their friends and fellow students alike, and just as quickly, stop. Soon the school is divided between the turned and the unbitten, with unanswered question looming; how long will this peace last, and why did the students turn in the first place? I’m not normally interested in Zombie manga. Much like vampires, I feel they’ve run their course, but this series has some intriguing aspects that I might just want to check out. There are two volumes out and it is ongoing. The first volume will be released with color inserts April 5, 2016.
Of the new titles Viz is adding this month, two were already published by them in print: Cheeky Angel and Honey Blood Tale Zero. Flower of the Deep Sleep and Glass Wings are license rescues from the Tokyopop days while Eureka Seven is a Bandai Manga rescue. We haven’t seen one of those in a while. The bundles this month are a continuation of their big Shonen titles, with the Shaman King bundle completing the series while the One Piece bundle covers the “Baroque Works” and “Alabasta” arcs, both good arcs. I’d also recommend the Yu-Gi-Oh! bundle. I thought the first arc was the best of the series.
With Con Season is full swing, the license announcement are coming at a fairly steady rate. Whether in between cons, or publishers not planning on panels, the word of new licenses and rescues still make the steady rounds of news sites, and especially social media like Twitter and Tumblr.
One Peace Books is a boutique publisher that has been dabbling in manga with such titles as Whispered Words, Aquarion Evol, and Crayon Shin Chan. This time, the publisher picked up a light novel series and its manga companion. The Rising of the Shield Hero is a light novel series that is currently at 10 volumes and ongoing. It is about Naofumi Iwatani, an otaku who is whisked away to a parallel dimension where he discovers is he one of four heroes equipped with a legendary weapon and tasked with saving the world from its prophesied destruction. Naofumi starts out as the Shield Hero, the weakest of the four, and soon finds himself alone, penniless and betrayed. He must now start his journey to become the legendary Shield Hero the world needs. The first volume will be out September 15 with the second being released October 20. The first volume of the manga, which is at 3 volumes and ongoing, will be out in November. This plot is very standard for fantasy novels, so unless it does something really interesting, I will probably skip it. I would be more inclined to check out the manga first, since I wouldn’t be as much as a time suck for me.
Dark Horse isn’t know for making license rescues, until it’s a CLAMP title. So their announcement that they picked up Planetes came as a bit of a surprise. Planetes was originally published by Tokyopop back in 2004, and even back that it was a difficult title to collect. It’s by Makoto Yukimura who is also the mangaka of Vinland Saga, which Kodansha is currently publishing in 2-in-1 deluxe hardback editions. Dark Horse will publish Planetes as 2 omnibus editions complete with bonus color pages. The story centers around Hachimaki, a member of a space-garbage crew, who collects everything from satellites to screws, anything that could damage a spacecraft when traveling at high speeds. Hachimaki dreams of owning his own spaceship, and decides there’s better money in joining the first manned mission to Jupiter. It’s been a long time since I last read Planetes, but it was a fun short series and very good sci-fi. The first omnibus will be out in December, just in time to put under the Christmas tree.
Yen Press just popped up with two new licenses on their Twitter feed, both of which fit right into the publisher’s catalog. School-Live! is a horror/slice of life series. It follows four girls, Yuki Takeya, Kurumi Ebisuzawa, Yuri “Riisan” Wakasa, and Miki “Miikun” Naoki, who camp out at their school and end up the only survives of a zombie attack. They decide to stay at the school and make it their home. Yen has really embraced the zombie/school survival titles, starting back with Highschool of the Dead. This series appears to feature cute little girls, but the premise may have a darker edge to it. There are currently five volumes and the series is ongoing. It might be interesting to check out the first volume, which will be released in November.
The second series is Of the Red, the Light and the Ayakashi. It’s based on a doujin game released in Japan back in 2011. The manga adaptation started in 2012. It is about Yue, a boy born and raised in a certain shrine on the outskirts of Utsuwa City. His close childhood friend, Kurogitsune takes him to the winter festival, where he experiences the outside world for the first time, and meets a mysterious boy. Seven volumes have been released so far. Yen Press also loves their visual novel stories, from Higurashi and Umineko. This series is a must read. I had it on my wish list at Baka-Updates Manga for who knows how long, but I enjoy titles with spiriting away themes and supernatural mysteries. This first volume will debut in December.
With titles leaving Weekly Shonen Jump, it’s time for a new round of Jump Start! titles to run and see if they can make the cut here and as well as in Japan. Viz is starting out with just two titles so far. Welcome to Shika High Competitive Dance Club will start on May 11, while the second series, Devily Man will start two Mondays after, May 25. These titles are being simulpubed with the Japanese Weekly Shonen Jump, so there is precious little information about them.
Welcome to Shika High’s Competitive Dance Club is obviously about competitive dancing. This seems like a surprising subject to put into a shonen magazine. It seems more like a shojo title like Kodansha’s Let’s Dance a Waltz. But knowing what I do know about the serialization meetings at WSJ (thanks to Bakuman), this series must have something interesting about it to make it into the magazine. I’m curious to hear what it’s about. Devily Man has an old school/retro feel to it, based only on the glimpse of the art from Weekly Shonen Jump. Like a Toriyama and/or comedic feel to it. I can’t even begin to guess that this title is about, but the alien/demon looking guy looks rather happy, hence the comedic vibe.
I’ve got my hopes up that Welcome to Shika High’s Competitive Dance Club with be something good and clever. Dance manga can certainly use a boost. I’ll have to wait and see on Devily Man. The field of possibilities are just too wide for it. The issues will be available for $.99 if you don’t have a subscription but still want to read them.