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.
Vertical Comics, the comics imprint of Vertical, Inc., announced through their Tumblr that they had acquired a new manga license, Tokyo ESP. Vertical had the title confirmed since just after New York Comic Con, but retailers were starting to put solicitations out for the first volume, so there was little reason to sit on it any longer.
The story follows Rinka Urushiba, a high school student who works a part-time job to help her father make ends meet. One day she sees a penguin chasing some glowing fish flying through the sky. She is touched by one of the fish and loses conscious. When she wakes up, she has a supernatural power; she can walk through inanimate objects. She is not the only one to gain powers, and she joins up with another high school student, Kyotaro Azuma who can teleport. They take on other powered people who have decided to use their powers for evil. The series is published by Kadokawa Shoten in their magazine Shonen Ace and is currently 11 volumes.
There is an anime adaptation that ran last summer that Crunchyroll streamed and Funimation licensed. This title was also one of the debut titles in Kadokawa Shoten’s Comic Walker app with an English translation. I read the first chapter and thought it had potential, so I’m thrilled Vertical has licensed it. They will be releasing the title as two-volume omnibuses and first volume will be available in the Fall.
On Friday Yen Press announced new licenses for their manga and Light Novel lines through their Twitter account. There are a total of 8 titles; 3 Light Novels and 5 manga, but two of those are adaptations of the light novels. Still, that is a lot of content to commit to in 2015.
The first manga announced was Rust Blaster. This was the debut work of Yana Toboso, the creator of the very popular Black Butler series that Yen Press also publishes. The story follows the most unvampire-like vampire Aldred and a human transfer student Kei. They meet by chance at a vampire academy, but there meeting wasn’t just an accident, it was fate. The one volume series ran in Square Enix’s G-Fantasy. There was no release date announced. Vampires are really my thing, but at one volume I’d be willing to give this series a go.
The next two manga titles are from the Puella Magi Madoka Magica series. Puella Magi Homura Tamura is a slice of life 4 koma comedy series. This spin-off is based on the main manga series by Magical Quartet. It ran in Houbunsha’s Manga Time Kirara Magica and there is one volume available. Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Homura’s Revenge has both Homura and Madoka traveling through time. This series also ran in Houbunsha’s Manga Time Kirara Magica, and is complete in two volumes. No release date was announced for these titles. I will definitely be checking out these titles. I love the Puella Magi * series and spin offs. The 4 koma sounds especially fun.
Black Bullet is a light novel series that also has a manga adaptation. The series follows Rentaro, a boy growing up in a world where an alien parasite, Gastrea, has killed most of the human population. Rentaro is a high school student living near Tokyo 10 years later. He is a member of the Civil Security, and with his childhood friends Enju Ahari and Kisara Tendo, fight against the Gastrea, using the special powers they gained by being infected by the virus at birth. The light novel series has seven volumes and is ongoing, while the manga adaptation only went four volumes. It also had an anime adaptation which was licensed by Sentai Filmworks. No release dates were announced for either format. I can’t say this title sounds interesting to me. I’m not big on post apocalyptic titles.
Strike the Blood is another light novel series with an ongoing manga adaptation. This series is about Yukina Hirameki, an apprentice “sword shaman.” She was selected to watch over, and possibly hunt, Kojou Akatsuki, the “fourth-progenitor”, a vampire from legend that is said to be the strongest and will bring disaster to humanity. Armed with a powerful anti-progenitor spear, she goes to Itogamijima, a demon city located in a special zone to find him. There are eleven volumes of the light novel and the manga has five volumes. No release dates were announced for either format. I’m not seeing any fireworks with these titles either.
The last light novel series announced is one that we’ve been waiting to hear about for a while. Durarara is a manga series that Yen Press has been releasing for a while. It is based on a light novel series, and so far the manga has only adapted 3 of the 13 volumes currently out. But now, we won’t have to rely on the manga adaptation since Yen Press has FINALLY announced the light novel series! Of all the light novels that have been announced for the YenOn line, this is the one series I am most excited about. I fell in love with Durarara after the end of the first manga adaptation, and now do not want to wait to read more. This is so exciting and the best news that Yen Press could give. The first novel is scheduled to be released in July, 2015.
That’s quite a windfall to start the new year with. Yen Press is fully behind their YenOn line, and Durarara could be their cash cow that helps carry the rest of the line. All of the titles announced fit perfectly with their catalog, so no fan will be disappointed.
Viz picks up more of the former publisher Tokyopop’s catalog. Two CLAMP titles join the Viz Select line, including Duklyon: CLAMP School Defenders. I’ve been interested in this title, as a lover of tokusatsu shows. Also added is The Third, a series that is based on an anime that was well liked back in the day.
While the premise of this series doesn’t wow me, seeing who the creator is makes me reconsider. Meca Tanaka has created several titles, some of which has been licensed by publishers no long in business. The title I am most interested in is Omukae Desu which was published by CMX. If this series does well, it would be great to see Omukae Desu return as a Viz Select title.
On Wednesday, Seven Seas Entertainment announced on their Twitter feed several new licenses set to be released in October and November of this year. Four titles were announced, all either having an anime adaptation, or are an adaptation of a light novel series, a trend that is continuing from last year.
Akuma no Riddle: Riddle Story of Devil follows Haru Ichinose, an ordinary student at an all female boarding school filled with assassins. She is the target of the other students; “The Hare.” Tokaku Azuma, an assassin who transfers into the school to join the hunt, but after meeting Haru, is drawn to her, and begins to protect her. The series is published in Kadokawa Shoten’s Newtype and is currently 3 volumes. It has a 12 episode anime adaptation that has been licensed by Funimation. This description doesn’t move me, but it doesn’t sound bad either. It was written by Yun Kouga, the creator of Loveless and Gestalt, neither series that I had much interest in, but a lot of other people have. It also has a lot of elements that make it fit the Seven Seas library.
Golden Time is a light novel series by Yuyuko Takemiya, the creator of Toradora. It follows Banri Tada, a college student who lost his memories after graduating High School. He goes to a private law school in Tokyo and meets Mitsuo Yanagisawa and Kouko Kaga. Kouko and Mitsuo are childhood friends, and as children promised to marry. Mitsuo seems to have second thoughts and goes to the college to escape Kouko, but she has followed him and enrolled as well. This romantic comedy follows them and their friends at the college. It is published in Monthly Comic Dengeki Daioh, and there are seven volumes out. An anime adaptation was licensed by Sentai Filmworks. This series seems to lean toward male-gaze and romantic comedies rarely appeal to me, so I don’t see this series calling to me.
Merman in a Tub is a 4-koma slice of life series. Tatsumi is a high school student who lives by himself. Wakasa is a handsome merman who moves into Tatsumi’s bath tub. Wakasa is a cute but self-centered, while Tatsumi is the cool but caring busybody. The series offers a peek into their life together. It is published in Comic Gene, and the collected volumes by Media Factory, and there are currently 5 volumes. Crunchyroll streamed the anime adaptation last season. I like the sound of this one. It looks like it will have a lot of humor, and I’m certainly not against seeing hot mermen.
Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation is a fantasy series based on a light novel series. It follows a 34-year-old virgin NEET who is kicked out of his house. Penniless, he comes to regret the decisions he’s made over his life. While saving some high schoolers from a speeding truck, he is killed . He is then reincarnated into another world of sword and magic. He resolves to live his new life to the fullest and use his knowledge from his previous life. He is joined by a small girl who is a magic tutor and a beautiful quarter-elf with green hair. The series is published in Comic Flapper, and the first volume was just released in November. This series has some potential, but it can easily fall into harem territory. I’ll just wait and see.
This is a good Fall line-up for Seven Seas. It will appeal to a variety of readers, as well as their core. I’m happy to see this list even if they aren’t all titles I’m personally interested in.
It was announced in the second volume of Secret, a psychological horror series by Yoshiki Tonogai, that the series would end in the third volume, scheduled to be released in Japan in April. The series, like Tonogai’s other two titles, Doubt and Judge, is about people trapped in a situation where they must root out a perpetrator to escape.
Secret puts six survivors of tragic bus accident to the test. Three of them are murderers. They all have one week to discover who the murderers are. These three must then show remorse for their crimes and find a way to atone for them, or evidence of their sins will be given to the police. But when everyone has a secret, it isn’t easy to know who to trust.
Tonogai, who contributed to the series Higurashi: When They Cry, seems to be have been strongly influenced by its psychological horror and mystery aspects, as all three of his titles involve these elements. Reception of Doubt and Judge has been mixed here in the West, with Judge just edging out Doubt.
Yen Press, who licensed Doubt and Judge, also licensed this series, and has been simulpubing the individual chapters digitally beginning with chapter 7. I couldn’t find them on the Kindle, but they did show up in the Nook store for $1.99 each. The first volume will be released this month in both print and digital, with the digital pricing being a very reasonable $2.99. If you were curious about this series, this is definitely the way to go.
Back in September, it was announced that the manga Library Wars:Love & War was going to end in the December issue of Hakusensha’s LaLa magazine. That very same issue, with the final chapter of the series, is now also announcing the title’s return. Toshokan Senso: Love & War Bessatsu-hen, Library Wars: Love & War Extra, would begin as a new series in the May issue of LaLa out in March.
It’s hard to say what this new series would cover. The main series went 15 volumes and could have easily covered all 4 of the original light novels. A second series of light novels, titled Bessatsu Toshokan Senso, Supplemental Library Wars, was published from 2008-2009. Considering the similarity in the titles, I think it makes sense that this new series will be based on the second. All we know for sure is that it will continue the adventures (and loves) of Iku, Dojo, Shibasaki, Tezuka, Komaki and Marie.
Back when it was announced that the first series was ending, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. I hate the Media Betterment Committee and everything they do to undermine or outright attack the Library Forces. But I love all of the characters, so in the end I’m gonna say a new series of Library Wars: Love & War is a good thing. If there are more stories to tell about these characters, I want to read them.
While other may be excited to get the new Dragon Ball Z content, I’m just glad to get new Akira Toriyama that isn’t Dragon Ball Z. There is more to Toriyama than Dragon Ball and I’m always happy when we get it.
It was recently noticed by readers that online retailers were either pulling or dates were set back for the sixth volume of Kodansha’s deluxe hardback title Vinland Saga. On Monday, Kodansha confirmed the title was on “temporary suspension.” No reason was given for the suspension, but many people jumped straight to poor sales. Vinland Saga is a seinen title, with a higher price point due to it being a premium edition. This isn’t necessarily the reason, but it isn’t too far-fetched to believe either. It is more expensive than most manga, and a genre that has been typically a hard sell, even though there have been nothing by rave reviews about it.
While the H-Word (hiatus) hasn’t been uttered yet, it seems readers are ready to assume the worse. On at least one forum, one poster was ready to dive by into scanlations, assuming the series was already gone for good. Of course, if poor sales is the issue, this kind of thinking just exasperates the problem and creates a vicious circle of people reading scans, not buying a series, and justifying their reading of scans because no one is buying the series. I don’t know that I can completely take fault with people jumping to this conclusion. Too many times, Western readers have been told a series has been “put on hiatus”, or “suspended,” and it turns out the series has been cancelled or relegated to hiatus-hell. But I do think it’s a little early to be crying that the sky is falling. Vinland Saga was close to catching up to the Japanese releases. There are two more volumes, counting this one before we are caught up, and with the series being monthly, it’s going to be a while before there is a volume 8 anyway.
For now, I want to believe that Kodansha is considering more than just sales in dealing with this series. Perhaps they are weighing the idea of spreading the releases out further, and have to discuss it with Kodansha Japan and/or the mangaka first. I find this thought much more appealing that seeing this powerful and well-written title go down the hiatus black hole.
Just in time for year-end, Kodansha announced one last title on its Tumblr account. Your Lie In April is by Naoshi Arakawa, a relative unknown to Western readers, and currently has an anime airing in Japan that is also streaming on Aniplex Channel, Hulu, and Crunchyroll.
Your Lie in April is about Kosei Arima, a piano prodigy until his cruel taskmaster of a mother dies suddenly. His life forever changed, he abandons piano, and resigns to live in a colorless, monotonous world. His bland world is shaken when he meets Kaori Miyazono, a violinist with an unorthodox style, and possibly the only one who can teach him not only to play, but to live again.
This series is currently at 10 volumes, with the 11th due out in May 2015. Kodansha plans to publish the first volume here in Spring 2015. This series looks really cute, and it features music, so it’s got my attention. It also won the Best Shonen Category at Kodansha’s 37th Annual Manga Awards last year. With the anime preceding it, it will at least have some name recognition when it comes out to draw people in and good writing to keep them. I’m looking forward to it.
Viz Media has been bringing back a lot of older titles that have gone out of print. Most of the titles have been from former English publisher Tokyopop through Japanese publisher Kadokawa Shoten. Last week Viz announced another three titles from the Toykopop/Kadokawa Shoten licenses.
Mikansei No. 1 is a two-volume series by creator Majiko, whose other titles include St. Lunatic High, which was also published under Viz Select, and Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion originally published here by Bandai. I really wouldn’t surprise me to see that one show up at some point. Mikansei No. 1 is about a girl named Neo who was born into the wrong century. She loves to sing and wear short skirts despite the more modest fashion of the 23rd century. Accidentally transported back in time to the 21st century, she teams up with the handsome Saya, and becomes half of singing duo. But to make it big, they need to put on a concert. It’s up to Neo to keep time on their side. At two volumes it might be interested in checking it out. I didn’t care for St. Lunatic High, her only other original title I’ve read, but this one sounds like it has potential.
Hands Off! is an eight volume shojo series by Kasana Katsumoto, whose other works lean toward the smutty side of josei, so needless to say, we won’t be seeing anything else from her any time soon. Hands Off! follows Kotarou Oohira, a boy with a clueless touch-he can transmit a kind of ESP through physical contact. He accidentally give it to his cousin Tatsuki, and comes to realize there more to his gift than he imagined. I’m not quite sure what to think of this series. I’ve seen volumes of it go by on trading site such as Paperback Swap, so it definitely got around. The action and intrigue does sound interesting, the gentle boy touching, not so much. This series also had a prequel, Hands Off: Don’t Call Us Angels.
The title I’m most excited to hear about it Sgt Frog by Mine Yoshizaki. Tokyopop released 21 volumes, with the 21st being among the last titles released by the company. Sgt. Frog follows the misadventures of Sgt. Keroro, a frog-like alien and his platoon of misfits from the planet Keron. Sent to Earth to conquer it, instead, Keroro blows his cover and loses his top-secret weapon, cutting him off from his home world. On top of that, he’s lost his platoon! He makes a deal with the Hinata family, and in exchange for doing chores around the house, he gets his own room from which to plot his next secret plan to take over the world. And build Gundam models. Sgt. Frog is a great gag manga with a crazy cast of characters. I will definitely pick up the volumes I’m missing of this series. Maybe I’ll go back and read all the previous volumes in order to be ready!