Tag Archives: Christmas

Manga Gift Guide 2014

It’s that time of the year again, where you have to go shopping for the manga readers in your life, but have no idea what to get them. No worries, here’s just one more gift guide to give you ideas of what to buy for who. For suggestions from previous years (some titles maybe out of print or digital only), check out my guides from 2013, 2010, and 2009.

Cardfight Vanguard 1Card Game Lover – The king of card game manga is Yu-Gi-Oh!, but it is far from the only title worth reading out there. Cardfight! Vanguard is from Vertical Comics and is about timid Aichi Sendou who knows all about the card game Vanguard, and even has a deck, but has never played. When his most prized card is stolen, he ventures into a card shop to battle for his card back. While some would call this series a derivative of Yu-Gi-Oh!, there are enough differences in character and plot to really veer it onto its own path. The emphasis on having fun and making friends eclipses the  more competitive aspects of playing games which I think is a good thing. There are currently 4 volumes available.

Another MangaMystery/Thriller Lover – Everyone loves a good mystery. Another from Yen Press is a great mystery with the right amounts of thrill and horror. It is the adaptation of the novel by the same name, which is also available from Yen Press. Middle school student Koichi Sakakibara has transferred into Yomiyama North Middle School, to live with his grandparents while his father goes off to work in India. Something is strange about his class though. It is cursed. On random years someone from the class how had died previously would come back, and everyone’s memories would be altered so no one suspected. Then at least one person connected with the class would die in mysterious and sometimes gruesome ways. Koichi is determined to find a way to end the curse, and is helped by Mei Misaki, a girl outcast from the class as a charm to ward off the curse. I loved this story. The mystery is elegantly built up, and the identity of the “Casuality was a complete surprise, but when you go back and read it again, all the clues are there, and make perfect scene. It’s a single volume omnibus. Also check out the novel, since some changes were made to the story for the manga.

AoT 1Action/Horror Lover – There are plenty of action/horror titles, but only one can stand at the top of the pile; Attack on Titan from Kodansha Comics. This story of humanity’s attempt to survive after the apocalypse brought on by the appearance of Titans, giants that have only one goal; eat humans. Humanity has been at peace for 100 years, hiding being their 50 meter tall walls, keeping the Titans at bay. Until, one day, a Colossal Titan appears and kicks open the door in Wall Maria, releasing the Titans, and forcing humanity back. The story follows Eren Yeager and his friends Mikasa and Arwin, as they train and join the Survey Corps, the group that fights Titans. This series took the west by storm last year, and hasn’t given an inch since. Its story and characters are well written enough that the poor art can be forgiven. There are currently 14 volumes of the main series, and three spin-off series, including a light novel from Vertical.

What did you eat yesterdayFood Lover – Food comics is a genre particular to manga. There are tons of about finding, making and eating food. What Did You Eat Yesterday? is from Vertical Comics and is created by well-known foodie mangaka Fumi Yoshinaga. It is about a gay couple, one is an outgoing hair stylist Kenji and the other is a more reserved lawyer Shiro. Each chapter is a slice of life about their jobs, family and friends, and a detailed description of the  meal Shiro prepares each night. You can almost use the chapters as a cook book with how detailed Yoshinaga gets. The relationship between Shiro and Kenji is just as interesting as it shows the realities of living gay in Japan. Some people might mistake this series for BL, especially considering the creator, but it is far from it. The only love going on in this series is for the food. There are currently 5 volumes available.

Insufficient DirectionUber Geek – Do you know someone who think they know everything about anime, manga, and tokusatsu? Then Insufficient Direction from Vertical Comics is the title for them. It is a sort-of autobiography by mangaka Moyoko Anno about her marriage to ultimate otaku Hideaki Anno, best known as the director of Neon Genesis Evangelion. The book is filled with references to old school anime and tokusatsu shows such as Super Sentai and Kamen Rider. It tells the story of the slow evolution of a (pseudo) normal wife into a full otaku-wife. It’s done in one volume.

Say I Love You 1My little Monster 1Teen Romance Lover – There are a lot of romances out there, but Kodansha Comics has managed to release two titles that sound similar, but take very different paths. My Little Monster and Say I Love You both are about a girl who was betrayed by “friends” when she was younger, and has grown up thinking she doesn’t need any. Then they meet a boy who gets to them and slowly peels away their armor to win their friendship and maybe even heart. The two titles verge from each other in their characters and the way they look at relationships among them. My Little Monster is more like a teeter-totter, with the two main characters see-sawing up and down about their feelings. Say I Love You takes a realistic look at teenage relationships as the main character’s slowly grow closer. There are four volumes of each series currently available.

happy marriageMature Romance Lover – There aren’t a lot of romance titles for readers ready to move up from the teen/high school romances, but that is slowly changing. Viz Media has started to license more of these. Happy Marriage?! is about Chiwa Takanashi, an office lady who is forced to marry the president of the company she works for, Hokuto Mamiya, in order to pay off her father’s debts. Their marriage starts off on a bumpy road, as they barely know each other, and have to keep their relationship a secret at work. They butt heads a lot, but Chiwa slowly starts to see Hokuto isn’t as bad as he may seem, and Hokuto stops being so much of a jerk. The office environment is  a nice change from school, and the problems faced by Chiwa are easier to relate to for older readers. There are nine volumes currently available. The series is complete at ten.

SparklerSamplerIssue_coverOEL Lover – With the demise of Yen Plus, there really haven’t been any publishers releasing original English language created works. Enter Sparkler Monthly, a digital monthly magazine published by Chromatic Press that features prose stories, audio, and comics created by western artists. The magazine is in its second year and has completed several of their debut titles. There are no limits on genre; the stories range from supernatural to science fiction and any kind of romance can be found in its pages. The magazine has strong female gaze leanings, but the stories are far from female exclusive. The magazine is subscriber supported, though new content is made available for free to read online for a few weeks each month. A gift subscription would make the perfect gift for the discerning reader that keeps giving all year, and more subscriptions guarantee more great content!

INUxBOKU_SSv1_TPYokai Lover – Yokai are monsters particular to Japan, and are a lot of fun to boot. Inu x Boku SS from Yen Press is about Ririchiyo Shirakiin, a girl from a family of old money who also has Ayakashi blood running through her. Wanting to live on her own, she moves into the apartment building Maison de Ayakashi, which is occupied by others like her, who have members of the building’s Secret Service protecting them. Ririchiyo is assigned Soushi Miketsukaim, who is very protective of her. Ririchiyo learns to open up to others and makes friends while something sinister haunts in the background. The series has a nice variety of yokai, and most of the characters are fun and interesting. Some you will either love or hate. There are currently five volumes available, with the sixth out in January.

Vinland Saga 1Non-Manga/History Lover – Vikings have been quite a hit lately, so it is perfect timing that Kodansha Comics has started releasing Vinland Saga. The series follows Thorfinn as he seeks revenge for his father’s death at the hands of mercenary Askeladd. The series portrays life in the Nordic lands with all the harsh realities and violence of the time. Nothing is sugar-coated, and it can be graphic at times, but it also tells a gripping story of war, survival, history and honor. Each volume is a 2-in-1 omnibus hardback, with its presentation as good as it’s content.The strong historical basis will appeal to the history buff, while the non-manga lover will enjoy the epic story and earthy art. There are currently five volumes available.

 

Manga Dome Podcast Episode 37: Sweet Rein

Manga Dome header

Seasons Greetings! This week there are regular features the Weekly Wish List, the Vizmanga.com update and the New York Times Bestseller List. And keeping with the season, I review Sweet Rein from Viz Media.

Continue reading Manga Dome Podcast Episode 37: Sweet Rein

Season’s Screamings: Grand Guignol Orchestra & March Story

When one thinks of the holiday season, it tends to be of being merry, giving gifts, and celebrating the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. But the holiday season also has a history of ghostly stories and ghoulish things. So in that spirit, here are two titles to make you clutch your blanket closer on these cold, dark winter nights.

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Angel Sanctuary Volumes 1-4

Setsuna Mudo has some serious problems. He is always getting into fights, doesn’t care for authority, and worst of all, has incestuous feeling for his sister, Sara. To top all this off, he also seems to be the reincarnation of the angel Alexial, who is being punished by God for rebelling against him. Now, Alexial’s twin, Rosiel is trying to kill Setsuna before Alexial awakens, the demon Kurai wants Alexial to awake and lead the demons against heaven, and all Setsuna wants to do is run away with Sara.

Buy This Book

Angel Sanctuary Volume 1-4
By Kaori Yuki
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Shoujo
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★☆☆

I read the first volume of Angel Sanctuary a few years ago, and at the time didn’t care much for it. But after reading, and enjoying, other works by the same creator, Kaori Yuki, I decided to give the series another try, and read a few more volumes to give it a real chance.

Buy This Book

The story revolves around Setsuna Mudo, your typical angst-ridden teenage boy with the usual problems you’d expect a teenage boy to have; getting into fights and not caring for authority. But the one problem he does have, that makes him unusual, is the incestual feelings he has for his sister, Sara. He tries not to express them, coming off more like an overprotective brother, but his inner thoughts are consumed by her. This has completely alienated him from his mother, who seems to sense there’s something wrong with her son, and doesn’t trust him with Sara. This plotline dominates the first four volumes, as Setsuna struggles with his growing feelings and finally gives in to them, convincing Sara to run away with him.

But Setsuna has another problem. He is also the reincarnation of the Archangel Alexial. The demons, led by Kurai, want to awaken Alexial, so she can lead them against the armies of heaven. But the angels fear Alexial, and one angel, Katan, takes it upon himself to use forbidden magic in the form of a computer program, Angel Sanctuary, to free Rosiel, the only angel that has a chance going up against Alexiel. Rosiel is too consumed by revenge and himself to care much for heaven’s problems, and will use anyone or everyone to kill Alexiel.

Buy This Book

When I first read this series, I was bothered with the incest angle. But after reading more of Yuki’s titles, I came to realize it was just a plot device she used to create angst in her characters. And there is a lot of angst in this series. I nearly lost all interest in the series, as the first three volumes is consumed with Setsuna and Sara willing to sacrifice their own happiness for the sake of the other. The actual angel plot took a back seat to this as the importance of Setsuna’s and Sara’s relationship was emphasized, as it becomes the catalyst for Alexiel’s awakening. I understand the need to emphasize a point, but was 3 volumes of angst-ridden teens really that necessary?

The angels of Angel Sanctuary are not your typical “dressed in white with halos and hands together in prayer”. They are little different from humans, with many of the same desires and animosities. They are also the biggest jerks you could ever imagine. They think nothing of raping a demon survivor of a massacre they had just done. Female angels are persecuted for being temptresses, and they have little to no interest in humanity. They seem to be more preoccupied with a power struggle of who will be in charge now that God has had to go to sleep as his power weakens. They will go to any length to succeed. The entire time I was reading these volumes, I couldn’t help but notice the striking similarity between the way these angels acted and the angels in the TV series Supernatural. The angels in that show were in a struggle with each other to cause Armageddon while God was absent. The Supernatural angels were just as big of jerks, and cared just as much about humanity. I wonder if the creators of Supernatural were familiar with this manga?

Buy This Book

My interest returned with the fourth volume, as the story turned toward a more traditional quest plot. Setsuna is determined to rescue Sara, and must take a Orphean journey to the underworld to find her. Along the way, he will have gain followers, both angel and demon and return before his time is up (literally). He starts out with a familiar face as a guide, and while he may have it in for Setsuna, there do seem to be indications that he may become Setsuna’s first follower. The quest plot was infinitely more entertaining than the angst-ridden teenagers of the first three volumes. I may continue with the series, but only because of this turn of events. If I had stopped reading at three, I wouldn’t have considered continuing.

The art is ver recognizable as Yuki’s, with longs of beautiful boys and long, stringy, flowing hair. You can tell this was written early in her career, as the art is rougher and not as refined as Godchild. It doesn’t look bad, but you can tell it’s not her latest work.

I wanted to like Angel Sanctuary, since I’ve enjoyed so many of Kaori Yuki’s other titles, but the first three volumes made it really hard. A little bit of angst I can take to establish a conflict. Spread it out over length of the story, such as Godchild does, if you must, but concentrating so much at the beginning really turns me away. I think I will investigate further volumes of this series, just to see where it goes, but I think I’ll borrow, or if it ever becomes available digitally. I want to know better what I’m getting before investing in a 20 volumes series, especially with such a shaky start.

Hark! The Manga Angels Sing!

Christmas isn’t exactly a holiday that gets titles dedicated to it. There are often chapters with a Christmas theme, especially in romance titles, since in Japan the holiday is more for lovers. But it finally occurred to me, that there are titles with angels, and there is no Christmas in the US without angels in song or on a Christmas tree. So here are some manga with/about angels!

Continue reading Hark! The Manga Angels Sing!

2010 Manga Gift Guide

Continuing the tradition from last year, I’ve decided to put together a new gift guide for the manga reader(s) in your life. I changed up some of the types this year, and am featuring all new titles. Check out last year’s guide for some other types that might not be on this list or for more variety. And check out All About Manga for other lists part of the Great Manga Gift Guide for 2010.

Continue reading 2010 Manga Gift Guide

Christmas Haul

Well, the most stressful part of the holiday season is over!  Christmas has come and gone, and all that’s left are wads of wrapping paper, stray bows and lots and lots of manga!  At least that’s how my Christmas turned out.  Check it out!

Christmas Manga

How’s that for a good haul?  In fact, I missed a few!  Pig Bride Volume 2 as well as Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 20-21 should have been included in that picture too.  12 volumes in all.  Woo Hoo!

Now, while manga is nice and all, and I do appreciate getting the books I did, what I really loved wasn’t something that was purchased but that was made.  My husband works with wood, and he made me these four wooden scroll puzzles, all from oak in different finishes.  Aren’t they awesome?

Puzzles

So, what’s you get for Christmas?

2009 Manga Gift Guide

After the NYT posted a graphic novel gift list now with manga on it, David Welsh sent out a call to action on Twitter, for manga gift guides.  This is my response to that call.   I’ve decided to put together a manga gift guide for 10 different possible types of people in your life.  I really could have kept going with this list.  There are so many good titles to recommend, but I’ll leave those to my fellow bloggers who also answered the call.

Continue reading 2009 Manga Gift Guide

What's Been Going On

Some of you out there may be wondering about my lack of posts lately.  Most of you probably haven’t, but anyway…  With the holidays and work, I’ve been really bogged down and quite frankly stressed, which tends to kill my creative juices.  Distractions by things other than manga can also do it.

Continue reading What's Been Going On

Twelve Manga of Christmas: Twelfth Day

“On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Twelve Ecliptic Zodiac Keys,”


Lucy Heartphilia has always dreamt of joining the  guild of mages known as Fairy Tail.  While searching for the guild, she meets up with Natsu Dragonil and Happy, a blue talking cat.  They are both members of Fairy Tail, though Lucy doesn’t know it at first.  They have a few adventures together, where Lucy shows him her magic.  She is a Stellar Spirit practitioner.  She collects keys that allow her to summon spirits from another world and make contracts with them.  The rarest of these keys are the gold Ecliptic Zodiac keys.  At the start, Lucy already has two; Aquarius and Taurus.  Natsu then invites Lucy to join the Fairy Tail guild, where the two are often paired together for assignments.

Fairy Tail is a new series this year, and one I was hooked on from the first volume.  It’s a great action adventure title with lots of comedy as well.  Natsu is very much like Luffy or Goku.  He doesn’t care about a lot of things, but the things that he does, he cares a lot.  Lucy is very outgoing and determined.  The spirits she contracts with in her keys can be pretty entertaining too, talking back, and even refusing to help without some concession from Lucy.  Of course, having a blue talking cat that can grow wings and the promise of dragons doesn’t hurt either.  I really enjoyed this title and it’s quickly become a must have.  If you like stories with fun, action and adventure, then Fairy Tail is the one title you must get!

Eleven Band Member Battle,
Ten Inukami,
Nine-tailed Fox Spirit,
Eight Dragon Priestess Guardians,
Seven Dragon Balls,
Six Girl Volleyball Team,
Five Bronze Saints!
Four Friends in Winter,
Three Siblings Cards,
Two Girls named Nana,
And a One Piece for the Pirate King.”

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

The Twelve Manga of Christmas: Eleventh Day

“On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Eleven Band Member Battle,”


Rin Amami has a dream of becoming a singer like his mother, but it’s an impossible dream.  He has the voice of a frog.  He has all but given up on his dream until a chance meeting with a new boyband, the Beatmen and their manager rekindles his hopes.  He may possess the legendary Dragon Voice.  He begins training with the Beatmen, his abrasive personality causing problems, but some how they keep on climbing up the charts.

Dragon Voice is a series I was late coming to, but I’m really glad I did!  A “male version of Jem and the Holograms” doesn’t even come close to doing it justice.  The characters have great personalities that don’t always mesh well, which only increases the fun.  The situations are a little outrageous, but with some of the Tokusatsu shows that have been seen recently, could a Voice Rangers really be that far out?  Dragon Voice also has one of the best volumes I’ve ever read.  In volume 7, there is a big battle of the bands between three groups; The Beatmen, Privee, and Baby Naked.  They are competing for the right to play at Koshien, the big High School Baseball Tournament.  All three bands perform at once, with the audience deciding who’s the best throughout the show.  There are twists and turns as the bands struggle to keep a lead, increasing the tension with every chapter.  I was just WOW’ed by the end.

Dragon Voice has been greatly underrated by both Tokyopop and the fans.  It’s a fun music based title that doesn’t take itself too seriously, so the reader can have fun with the characters.  If you’re a fan of music or Tokusatsu then definitely pick this up.

Ten Inukami,
Nine-tailed Fox Spirit,
Eight Dragon Priestess Guardians,
Seven Dragon Balls,
Six Girl Volleyball Team,
Five Bronze Saints!
Four Friends in Winter,
Three Siblings Cards,
Two Girls named Nana,
And a One Piece for the Pirate King.”

Twelve Manga of Christmas: Tenth Day

“On the Tenth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Ten Inukami,”


Keita Kawahira is from a family of Inukami tamers, people who contract with dog-spirits to vanquish evil, but he is considered a failure since he couldn’t make a contract with one.  One day, his grandmother and head of the clan, tells Keita that there is an Inukami that is willing to contract with him.  He goes to meet Yoko, a beautiful girl with green hair and a big, bushy gold tail.  He’s thrilled at first, until he finds out how difficult Yoko is to handle.

Inukami is based on a series of light novels, and has only one volume out from Seven Seas so far, but I have high hopes for the manga after having seen the 2006 anime (in fansub only).  Inukami is not a harem manga.  It is closer in relation to a series like Urusei Yatsura.  It’s a romantic comedy about Keita and Yoko’s relationship.  She wants to be his girlfriend, but he has a roaming eye.  None of the other females want anything to do with Keita, not that Yoko will let him be with anyone.  She can shoot fire from her finger and teleport anything, though mostly it’s Keita, sans his clothes.  So there’s plenty of comedy, but there are some more serious moments, as Keita and Yoko work out their relationship.  The first volume is just about the creation of this relationship, though at the very end, there is the introduction of Kaoru Kawahira, Keita’s cousin, and his ten female Inukami, all of whom are completely devoted to him.  If you wanted a harem label for this series, pin it on this character.

I really enjoyed this first volume.  The balance of comedy to drama is just right, and the fanservice is evenly metted out as well.  Seeing Keita trying to find his clothes makes up for all the Yoko shots.  It’s definitely more for the older teen audience, at 16+, but it’s definitely worth the read if you like romances that involve denial and pain.

Nine-tailed Fox Spirit,
Eight Dragon Priestess Guardians,
Seven Dragon Balls,
Six Girl Volleyball Team,
Five Bronze Saints!
Four Friends in Winter,
Three Siblings Cards,
Two Girls named Nana,
And a One Piece for the Pirate King.”