JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has had a difficult time in the west. The first print run of Part 3 didn’t do so well back in the aughts. The release of the series in digital along with an anime simulcast on Crunchyroll propelled the series into the fan spotlight. While Part 1 has been available in digital for a while, anticipation for this deluxe hardcover has been stewing for a while, as a check of Amazon.com’s top ten list will show.
Viz Media gets a huge selection of titles onto Comixology from publisher Shogakukan which includes Shonen Sunday titles as well as some shojo and josei. Comixology readers can now enjoy the likes of Case Closed and Happy Marriage?! as well as the classic Drifting Classroom. Many of these titles are also complete, so there’s no waiting for the next volume to come out.
If you’re like me and have never read the first series, then you should check out the specially priced bundle Viz is running for the first 10 volumes of Boys Over Flowers. I’m interested in reading this new series. I was intrigued by the first chapter of the original, so hopefully this second series will be just as enticing.
Shogakukan’s Monthly Flowers magazine announced in its March issue that Yuu Watase will be launching a new manga in the Fushigi Yugi universe. Fushigi Yugi: Byakko Ibun, or Fushigi Yugi: The Curious Tales of Byakko, will start in the next issue due out at the end of February. It will have a color first page and will be featured on the cover.
Little is known about the story, other than it is about the Priestess of Byakko, the White Tiger of the West, and the only Priestess whose story hasn’t been told. While the announcement said the chapter in February would “begin” a new series, Yuu Watase said on her blog that the manga wasn’t going to be a full story. This implies that it will either be a one-shot or a short story containing several chapters. I hope it’s the latter, for two reasons; 1) A one shot will only tell a sliver of the Priestess of Byakko’s story, and 2) several chapters can become a volume and more likely to get licensed and released. I don’t want to see a one-shot end up in a volume of Arata, assuming it starts up again. I don’t need one volume of a series just for the one-shot. I’ve been lucky so for that most of the one-shots I’ve wanted have been in volumes of titles I collected anyway.
In any event, this is a series I’m interested in reading, and with Watase’s continued popularity here in the West, I’m sure Viz Media will figure out a way to get it out for fans to read.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Viz Media has announced several licenses, with a bit of “something old, something new” to them. Three of the titles are Tokyopop rescues for the Viz Select line, and two are brand new licenses from mangaka who have already had titles released in the West to quite a bit of success.
From Tokyopop, Viz Media continues their CLAMP releases with two of their titles returning; The One I Love and Wish. The One I Love is a one-volume collection of 12 short stories that tell stories about the many sides of love. All of the stories are told from a woman’s perspective, and deal with the doubts, insecurities and ultimately the joy of love. It sounds like a fun series, though perhaps best taken in smaller doses. The romance may get monotonous, even for romance lovers. It will be released February 10th.
Wish is a four volume series that follows Shuichiro, who after saving an angel, Kohaku, from a tree one moonlight night, is offered a wish as a reward. Shuichiro refuses the wish, saying he can get what he wants on his own. But he and the angel soon find out there are some wishes that can not be granted on their own. This series is a typical bitter-sweet romance that has a happy ending of sorts, but the kind that Western readers are used to. The first volume will be released February 17th.
Someday Dreamers is a two-volume series, and is not done by CLAMP. It is about Yume, a girl who wants to follow in the footsteps of her mother, and become a magic user. She practices her magic by helping people she finds in need; a struggling soccer player, the wrongly accused, and a student who wants to share a lunar eclipse with his teacher on cloudy night. While the story is about Yume working to be a full mage, there is a current of romance that is left unresolved. The art is as gentle as the story, and is one I’ve considered picking up several times. The first volume will be released February 24th.
The two brand new titles have not gone completely unnoticed. The first title, QQ Sweeper, is by Kyousuke Motomi, the creator of Dengeki Daisy. It was almost exactly a year ago when this new title was announced in Shogakukan’s Betsucomi magazine. The cleaning and sweeping of the series’ title seems to have a supernatural bend. Kyutaro Horikita is the cleaning expert of Kurokado High. The tall, dark, and handsome cleaner meets transfer student Fumi Nishioka, where he shows her how to clean the spirits from the school and also maybe her heart. I was already interested in this series because it was from Motomi, but the addition of a supernatural element only makes it more appealing to me. The first volume will be released in October.
Idol Dreams is by Arina Tanemura, a very popular shojo artist. Viz Media has already published at least 7 of her titles. This series turns the premise of some old school magical girls on their ear. Chikage Deguchi is a 31-year-old office worker who feels she’s missed out on her chances for love and success. She wishes she could go back to a time when she was young and popular, and is given that chance when she takes an experimental drug that changes her appearance to that of a 15-year-old. She takes the opportunity to re-do things in her life, including becoming and idol. Besides changing up the old school magical girl formula, Idol Dreams appears to borrow from Case Closed, though that series doesn’t hold the license on getting younger, it’s just the first thing that comes to mind. I’ll check out this first volume if I get a chance when it comes out in November.
These were some good titles for Viz to pick up. I’m happy to see the new Motomi title. I was really hoping it would get picked up. Idol Dreams is new to me, and has my attention by starting the series with a mature woman as the lead. It will be interesting to see how her older self deals with the younger problems of a new generation. I’m looking forward to this round.
February is the month to celebrate your relationship or singleness, which ever you embrace. Viz Media is sharing in that celebration with lot of new titles and offers from their Vizmanga digital site. What is especially enticing are the Shojo bundles. Three titles of 10 volumes each for $40.00. And they are really good titles too. Honey & Clover, Sand Chronicles and Strobe Edge. All three are amazing titles in their own way. If you haven’t read any of them, this is the perfect opportunity to get them all at a great price.
Weekly Shonen Jump, both the US digital and the Japanese print magazines have announced titles to begin and end in their respective magazines in the coming weeks. Starting in the US, Viz’s Weekly Shonen Jump will debut My Hero Academy by Kohei Horikoshi, the creator of the short-lived series Barrage. My Hero Academy follows Izuku Midoriya, a boy with no powers in a modern-day world where people with super powers have become common place. The series started in July of 2014, and Viz will run the first chapter in the February 2 issue, and begin simultaneous release in the next issue out February 9. Both of these issues will be free to read as part of Viz’s Weekly Shonen Jump Third Anniversary.
Over in Japan, the sports medical manga Sporting Salt ends in the first issue of Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump out in February. It will end at three volumes. The story follows Hiroyuki Shioya, a high school student who decided to become the best sports doctor in Japan, and starts out by helping athletes in trouble with their issues and improving their performance. Sporting Salt was the first series run in the Viz’s “Jump Start” initiative, but didn’t make the cut as a regular series.
While one series ends, another four begins. Starting in the issue out February 9, four new titles will debut over the next four weeks. Kagamigami, Mirror God, is by Toshiaki Iwashiro, the creator of Psyren. His detective story will debut that week. Black Clover by Yuki Tabata will debut February 16. Kaizo Ningen Rogy, Cyborg Rogy by Yuu Miki will start in the issue out February 23, and Ultra Battle Satellite by Yusuke Utsumi will debut last on March 3. There’s been no announcement, but hopefully some of these titles will be previewed in Viz’s Weekly Shonen Jump as part of their “Jump Start” initiative. Kagamigami is the title I’m most interested it. We can’t have enough detective manga.
Digital Manga Publishing has announced the next Osamu Tezuka Kickstarter. It’s been a month since the last Kickstarter for Ludwig B ended. It’s another two volume series, and was featured as a stretch goal in the failed Tezuka World Kickstater; Alabaster.
The story follows former athlete James Block, now a famous villain who is out for revenge against all things “beautiful.” While in prison, he learns of a weapon, the F-Laser, that can turn any carbon based organism invisible. When he gets out, he steals it, and tries it on himself. Instead of turning invisible, only his skin is affected. He then takes on the name Alabaster, and is joined by Ami, the granddaughter of the scientist who invented the laser, who is also completely invisible thanks to experiments her grandfather did on her mother while she was pregnant. They go on a vicious revenge spree, pulling off several heists, but Ami’s innocents could be Alabaster’s downfall.
This Kickstarter is a little more than Ludwig B. Digital copies of Alabaster are $8 each. For an additional $11 you can get the digital companion. To get print copies you need to pay $36, or $18 a volume. The reason of for this higher price seems to be for better paper quality. It sounds like this came up in the survey they did after the Tezuka World Kickstarter failed. What seems odd is that this puts the print books $6 above the reported MSRP, which for both volumes is only $29.90. If you look at this tier as a pre-order, it seems DMP is making you pay for the privilege of pre-ordering or their Free Shipping is built into it.
Once again there are plenty of incentives for the higher tiers with more Tezuka goodies, including Black Jack toilet paper, an Astro Boy tote bag, and wooden coins commemorating Alabaster‘s printing. The tiers I really like though, are the ones that donate sets to a library of the backers choice. If you’re going to spread the Tezuka love, there is no better way!
There is one stretch goal on this Kickstarter. For an additional $9,800 DMP is looking to reprint Swallowing the Earth on the same better stock paper. No rewards this haven’t been announced yet other than a color wallpaper for backers. I have doubts about this stretch goal being met. The number of people who want to see Swallowing the Earth on higher grade paper probably aren’t $9800 worth. Ludwig B didn’t go very far past its initial goal, and it took to the last 4 hours to get there. These Tezuka Kickstarters seem to be about Tezuka fans getting books, not subsidizing DMP’s print runs.
After only a day, the Kickstarter is already at $8,455, with 165 backers. Both pledges and backers are up from Ludwig’s start. Most of the backers are on the pre-order print tier. But it’s kind of surprising that two of the limited tiers over $100 are already gone, but they were very limited, only needing 6 backers to get them. Still, Alabaster seems to be off to a good start. Fans really do seem to be looking forward to this series. We’ll see how consistent the backers keep pouring in.
Earlier this month Kodansha held an event at the Kinokuniya Bookstore in New York, a popular venue for East Coast publishers, and announced 7 new titles to be published this year. There are plenty of familiar faces in this bunch, as well as at least on Attack on Titan license. I don’t think it’s possible for Kodansha to make license announcements without at least one from that series.
Masamune Shirow’s Appleseed starts the batch with a series that is not written or drawn by Shirow. Appleseed α is a prequel to the original series, and follows Deunan’s and Briareos’ early days searching for the legendary city of Olympus. Iuo Kuroda, the creator of Sexy Voice and Robo, launched the series just this year in July in Kodansha’s Morning Two magazine. Just when you thought they couldn’t do anything more with Appleseed…though this title could be interesting is you liked Deunan and Briareos as a couple. And I seem to recall I did. Kodansha does not have a release date for this series yet.
Maria the Virgin Witch Exhibition is the sequel to the Kodansha license Maria the Virgin Witch. It started in July of this year in Kodansha’s Good! Afternoon and just ended in December, with its only volume releasing in Japan earlier this month. Creator Masayuki Ishikawa is best known to US readers for the short-lived Del Rey release of Moyashimon. It will be released in August after all of the original series volumes have come out. I couldn’t find any information about what the sequel is about or if it picks up any particular story line from the original. It’s a mystery right now.
Fairy Girls is a shonen spin-off of Fairy Tail and is drawn by BOKU. It focuses on the “two strongest girls in the world,” and follows Erza, Lucy, Wendy, and Juvia. The series just started in Kodansha’s Magazine Special, a monthly shonen magazine in November. The first volume will be out in the fall. I like that there is a series that focuses on the women of Fairy Tail, but the fact that it runs in a magazine for teenage boys does have me concerned about how dominating the male gaze element will be, but I’ll just have to wait and see. I will at least check out the first volume.
Die Wergelder is another series that features women. Hiroaki Samura of Blade of the Immortal fame started the series in 2011 in Kodansha’s quarterly magazine Nemesis. It is an action story that revolves around battle for money between three women: Nami, the passionate, psychedelic revenger, Je-Mao, the Chinese-dress wearing killing machine, and Shinobu Aza, a female gang leader. The main story arc of this series ended last year, and Kodansha will release the first volume in the fall. I never got into Blade of the Immortal, so I don’t know if this series will appeal, but readers hungry for more Samura, now that BotI is over, will no doubt pick this one up.
Livingstone is a fantasy adventure series written by Tomohiro Maekawa with art by Jinsei Kataoka, the creator of Deadman Wonderland. This supernatural series follows two men, Sakurai and Amano, who try to stop people from dying deaths not decreed by fate, or in failing to do so, collecting the “living-stones,” the soul stone that is created. There are three volumes so far, and the first will be released in the west in the fall. This series sounds really interesting, with supernatural and murder mystery elements. And it features two good-looking guys.
Kiss Him, Not Me is by Junko, a BL creator known here for the series Mr. Mini-Mart. It was first announced by Crunchyroll and is being simulpubed digitally through them. The series follows Kae Serinuma, a fujoshi. She like to imagine boys she likes getting together instead of getting with her. After her favorite anime character dies, and she loses a ton of weight from the trauma, she becomes popular with four good-looking boys at school. But she would rather see them go out with each other than try to court her. There are five volumes so far, and the first volume will be released here in print in the fall. I don’t see the appeal of fujoshi, so I don’t think I’ll find much in this title either.
Finally, it’s the new Attack on Titan title. It’s not another manga, but a tie-in. The Science of Attack on Titan is filled with facts and illustrations about the Attack on Titan universe such as how hot a 60 meter titan would be, and who would win in a fight between a titan and Ultraman. It’s mostly fun but useless facts that die-hard fans of the series will enjoy. The book will out in June. Also announced was the second Colossal omnibus of the main series, which will collect volumes 6-10. It will be out in September and cost a titanic $49.99
This is an interesting mix of titles that Kodansha has announced. What I like most about them is that they don’t lean heavily on one genre or demographic. There’s shonen and seinen, fantasy, action, and adventure. It it shaping up to be a really good fall for reading manga, but bad for pocket books.
Viz Media continues its omnibus re-releases with another oldie-but-goodie. I was never impressed with the Yu-Gi-Oh anime, but when Viz started serializing it in Shonen Jump, I found I enjoyed the series. At least the first arc of the first seven volumes. As 3-in-1’s you won’t be able to get the arcs cleanly, but after reading one or two, you may decide to get them all anyway. The only obstacle for these are space!
Shokakugan’s Monthly Cheese! is announcing in their March issue out today that mangaka Rei Toma is starting a new manga titled Suijin no Hanayome, Bride of the Water God. This new title has the same name and basic premise as the Korean manhwa being published by Dark Horse here in the US. A young girl is chosen as a sacrifice to the water god by her village to appease him.
I’m intrigued by this announcement. There are often titles that follow the same basic premise, and Bride of the Water God really is pretty basic, but it’s rare that you get them also using the same name. Of course Toma’s title may be completely different, especially with the characters and plot beyond the premise. But the similarities are far too close to avoid comparison. I wonder if this series does well, if Viz will consider bringing it over. Viz just finished Toma’s other series, Dawn of the Arcana in September, and it certainly got a lot of buzz among fans and critics online. I don’t think Bride of the Water God has done well for Dark Horse, but that could be because of demographic, and not necessarily the title. I’ll give them credit for continuing to release it even if it is on a glacial schedule.
But I wonder if Viz did decide to pick it up, would it keep the original name? I’m sure they wouldn’t want their title to be confused with the Dark Horse title. I know this is all purely speculation, since the first chapter won’t be out until next month, but with such a similarity, I can’t help myself!
Even though it’s Weekly Shonen Jump‘s anniversary, readers get the presents! I’ve been moving away from shonen manga mostly, but I’m definitely going to check out the special they’re running for the next few weeks. I don’t know if it will be enough for me plop down the money for a subscription, but it’s definitely worth a look.