Tag Archives: Del Rey

This Week in Manga: 9/11-9/24/10

Due to illness, I was unable to do a roundup last week, so this week combines the two weeks. So what’s in store? More licenses found and announced from Viz and Vertical, several digital manga stories, some news from Japan and Korea, 2 weeks worth of best seller lists, podcasts and the Manga Village roundup.

Continue reading This Week in Manga: 9/11-9/24/10

This Week in Manga: 8/7-8/13/10

Too Much Good Stuff!

Deb Aoki of Manga.About.com continues posting her coverage of panels from SDCC. This week she adds an entry for the Best and Worst Manga panel including comments from the panelists. There are more Best and Worst and a whole page dedicated to Most Anticipated. It’s interesting that Twilight made the Best list, but Maximum Ride got put in the Worst. Both make tons of money for Yen Press, so yah there. And the cat manga Chi’s Sweet Home and Cat Paradise both definitely deserve to be in the Best list. I don’t know what I would add to this list. I have hard time saying something is the Best or Worst. Except One Piece. That’s definitely a Best!

Also added to her coverage is a complete transcript of the Online Piracy Panel. It’s NINE PAGES. The front page to it give the topics covered in the discussion, but getting the full transcript is almost the same as being there! Definitely thank Deb for her hard work in getting this up for everyone to read. This is a very relevant topic right now as fans and publishers bash heads over the best way to get comics and manga online. It’s going to continue to be a bumpy road for a while.

Del Rey: Will They or Won’t They?

News of more cancellations of books has people once again questioning Del Rey’s commitment to publish manga. Brigid Alverson over at Robot 6 put the question to Associate Publisher Dallas Middaugh. Middaugh’s response sounds a lot like a non-denial denial. He defends Del Rey by say they are publishing the same number of pages a year, but at the same time pushes their OEL titles, which isn’t what most fans want to here. They are supposed to have a panel NYCC, so we’ll have to wait and see if they make any announcements then.

Pet Peeves #1: Publisher Web Sites

As a blogger, fan and parent, trying to get information on publisher websites can sometimes feel like pulling teeth, when there is anything to find in the first place. Apparently, I’m not the only one to feel this way. Brigid Alverson expresses her own displeasure over at Robot 6 in a wonderfully worded rant that hits all the problems I and from the comments others have with publishers. The big question is, will it do any good. We can hope, but I’m not holding my breath. I’d like to add one more problem I have, mainly with Marvel and relates to the search and links. When I finally do find the link for the comic I’m looking for, usually a new release on the front page, it should send me to a page with information and age rating on the issue and not A BLANK PAGE! For heavens sake, you’ve had months to get the page ready, or worse, if it’s a coding issue (which is probably more likely considering how convoluted that page is already), then you’ve got some major problems.  FIX THEM! I want to read your comics, but if you can’t get me the information I need easily, then I don’t need to read your stuff!

Pet Peeves #2: Scanlations Sites ≠ Libraries

With the demise of OneManga, people are still whining about it being gone and trying to justify that reading manga there is the same as checking out a manga from the library. Librarian Robin Brenner has something to say about that. Four somethings actually, as she explains why libraries are not just relevent, but also why they are legal for reading manga for free, and Scanlations sites are not. Most of the commentors to the post are in answer to Deb’s request for a list of 10 manga every library should carry, but one (#21) argues:

The manga world is changing. We can keep up with it or fall behind trying to desperately keep the copyright alive.

While there is an argument for digital manga, it shouldn’t, and doesn’t have to be at the cost of copyright.

NYT Best Seller List

Wow! What a change in the list this week! Two OEL’s make it to the list this week, including one to take the top spot! Ravenpaw’s Path vol 3, an original story in the popular Warriors series takes the #1 spot. Never underestimate the power of cats! Rosario Vampire Season II vol 2 debuts at #2. Never underestimate the power of cute vampire girls either. Black Bird vol 5 debuts as well at #3 and the OEL series Return to Labyrinth vol 4 debuts at #4 and finishes the series as well. At #5 is Negima! Magister Negi Magi vol 27, hanging one through its second week, and Bakuman vol 1 charts at #6 on its first week. Naruto vol 48 finally makes its appearance at #7 while D.Gray-Man vol 18 debuts at #8. Fullmetal Alchemist vol 23 sadly falls back to #9 and the rare shojo title sans vampires makes its appearance with Skip Beat vol 23 coming in at #10. This is quite a turmultuous week with 7 debut titles. Tokyopop takes 2 of the top 5 spots with its debuts with Viz sandwiching 2 more debuts in between. Del Rey keeps a space on the spot, but Yen Press has been ousted completely. It’s nice to see some OEL chart though, especially an adaptation. I would like to see more adaptations, but for the older crowd. Cozy mysteries anyone?

NYT List: Second Opinion

Matt Blind’s chart for the top 10 sellers from Rocket Bomber looks very different from the NYT, but not so much so from last week:

1. Negima! 27
2. Naruto 48
3. Fullmetal Alchemist 23
4. Vampire Knight 10
5. Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle 27
6. Black Bird 5
7. Ouran High School Host Club 14
8. Maximum Ride 1
9. Rosario+Vampire Season II 2
10. Shugo Chara! 9

Only four titles changed hands on Matt’s list from last week; Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Black Bird, Rosario+Vampire Season II and Shugo Chara! replaced Hellsing, Bleach, and second volumes of Maximum Ride and Naruto. But compared to the NYT list, only two of the debuting titles match up; Black Bird and Rosario+Vampire Season II. Check out his full post for all the specifics.

Broader Best Sellers

Matt is now taking requests for analysis on titles as he compiles his weekly lists. Follow him on Twitter at ProfessorBlind to make your request. This week he got a request for Viz’s Signature line, which he provided, and went ahead and did a few other popular genre: manhwa and global manga. Check them out to see what are the best sellers in these categories.

Manga For Your Ears

Sci-Guys Podcast

Sesho’s Anime and Manga Reviews

This Week At Manga Village

What I’ve Been Reading

  • Tena on S-String vol 3
  • Mixed Vegetables vol 7
  • Black Jack vol 8
  • Gentleman’s Alliance Cross vol 11
  • Alice the 101st

This Week in Manga 4/24-4/30/10


April’s Movable Manga Feast

The third edition of the Movable Manga Feast began this week, with Ed Sizemore of Manga Worth Reading taking over the hosting duties. The series this time is Mushishi published by Del Rey Manga. An introduction to the series can be found here, while the full list of participates can be found here. The Feast lasts until Sunday, so keep watching for more posts on the series.  I made my first contribution to the MMF with this series, which you can read here. If you have had any interest in this series, definitely check out some of the perspectives on it. You might be surprised.

How Much would you Pay?

Last week Yen Press announced they would be publishing Yen Plus as a digital magazine. This week Deb Aoki of Manga.About.Com has a poll asking how much would you pay for an online anthology. The results so far aren’t too surprising. I myself wouldn’t pay more than $5 for an online magazine the size of Yen Plus since I don’t enjoy reading manga online. I need it to be portable and an e-reader or tablet isn’t in my future anytime soon. What this poll does show is summed up pretty well by a comment made by David Welsh (@mangacur) on Twitter:

Just that manga purchasers seem kind of like public radio members these days. They opt to pay.

And just like public radio, it’s too bad more people don’t opt to pay as enjoy the content.

Chibi Vampire: Axis Powers

Tokyopop has been putting their Facebook page to use by announcing new licenses on it first.  Last week came word of a new Chibi Vampire (Karin) volume called Airmail, that is comprised of short stories published after the main series ended. It will include side stories about the main characters as well as stories about some that were never seen. This week finally comes the announcement every has suspected but hadn’t been able to confirm.  Tokyopop will be publishing the Hetalia: Axis Powers manga. Hints have been coming from the publisher for a while now, but it was made official on Friday.

Go Comi! Forums Down…But Are They Out?

Go Comi! is a publisher that a lot of people have worried about lately. They’ve been quiet, maybe too quiet. Kate Dacey of The Manga Critic caught on Twitter that their forums are down. This isn’t a good sign. Their blog has been silent since the fall, and their twitter account hasn’t seen an update since February. The forums was the last place we heard anything from the publisher and with it gone…maybe that ad a few weeks ago for a manga publisher for sale was Go Comi! I do hope it isn’t. They have some good titles that many would like to see finished.

NY Times Best Seller List

The balance of power shifts once more with new releases from Yen Press on this week’s list. First, let’s check on Twilight. Still #1 on the Hardback list? No?? The Hardback of Kick Ass, which debuted in theaters recently, has taken #1, relegating Twilight to #2. The Paperback list has another movie related title at #1 with Losers. Comics do benefit from movie tie-ins. We’ll see how long it lasts.  Over in manga land, #1 belongs to Rosario Vampire Season II vol 1 once again. Yotsuba& vol 8 debuts at #2, sending Naruto vol 47 back one to #3. Spice and Wolf  vol 1 also debuts at #4, and Black Butler vol 1 move up one to #5. Gentlemen’s Alliance Cross vol 11 falls three to #6 as does Yu-Gi-Oh! R vol 4 to #7. Nightschool vol 3 debuts at #8, Alice in the Country of Hearts vol 1 returns once again to #9 and Soul Eater vol 2 falls back one to #10. It’s quite a respectable showing for Yen Press, with 3 debuts, including an OEL title that not based on a novel series.  They dominate with 5/10, and three of those being in the top 5.

Manga For Your Ears

Sci-Guys Podcast

  • Episode 20 – 27:43 – Twin Spica/Vampire Hunter D on the PSP

This Week at Manga Village

What I’m Reading

  • Black Bird vol 3
  • Black Bird vol 4
  • Goong vol 2
  • Goong vol 3

Manga Movable Feast: Mushishi Volume 1

Some live in the deep darkness behind your eyelids. Some eat silence. Some thoughtlessly kill. Some simply drive men mad. Shortly after life emerged from the primordial ooze, these deadly creatures, mushi, came into terrifying being. And they still exist and wreak havoc in the world today. Ginko, a young man with a sardonic smile, has the knowledge and skill to save those plagued by mushi…perhaps.

Mushishi v1By Yuki Urushibara
Publsiher: Del Rey Manga
Age Rating: 16+
Genre: Drama
Price: $12.95
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy This Book

The back cover text make this book sound more sinister than it actually is. This first volume introduces the concept of the mushi, and the man we will follow who has the arcane knowledge to deal with them, Ginko, the Mushishi. Through a series of episodic stories, we see how mushi and men can interact, and how Mushishi bridge the gap and try to foster understanding between them.

Ginko is a wandering Mushishi. He studies and tries to understand mushi. He is often called to a village that needs his expertise, but can also stumble upon people in need of help, even if they don’t realize it themselves. Strange and ancient, mushi are not actually malicious, but like so many other creatures, they can be parasitic. But because they are so strange and mysterious, their work is often mistaken as the supernatural. Mushishi know the signs and diagnose the problem, almost like a doctor. Ginko, like the mushi he studies, is also a bit of a mystery. Little is given away about him, except for the clues that wherever he goes, mushi react to his presence, and the cigarettes he smokes aren’t filled with nicotine, but a special mushi that can trap other mushi or drive them away. He’s also missing an eye, and perhaps has just a little too much knowledge about the source of life, something mushi are closer to than humans.

What makes Mushishi an interesting series is that the focus isn’t solely on Ginko. The mushi get quite a bit as well.  As Ginko identifies the mushi that is the cause of each problem, he also explains about them, though it never feels like a lecture. Mushi are so strange and different, it’s interesting to find out about them, both to the characters and to the reader.  While they are often portrayed as being parasytes that can take a person’s sight, hearing, or even their life, not all are like that.  In a few instances, mushi are shown to have a sentience, that can lure humans in to turn them into mushi, or can show emotion, as in the story of “The Traveling Bog.” A mushi that is making it’s last journey home to die, saves a girl who was sacrificed to a Water God to save the village.

Mushishi is a very well written series.  It’s easy to get drawn into the stories and it’s open world. We only see Ginko as he travels in the wild, going from village to village.  There are no big cities, and while everyone is dressed in traditional kimonos, Ginko has a more western style.  By keeping the setting of the series open, Urushibara gives herself a lot of leeway with her stories. The mushi are very diverse and interesting, though at times, their expulsion can be a little disturbing.  The enigma of Ginko is another draw. We know little of him beyond him being a Mushishi. An interesting story seems to be waiting behind that.

The art is drawn realistically, with none of the manga trappings.  No one makes goofy faces or goes chibi.  It’s an understated style without a lot of detail.  Like the stories, it is simple and straightforward, and at times rather dark.  Mushishi is a slow paced series.  There are no fights against the mushi, and no melodramatic relationships.  It’s more about thinking things through and solving the puzzle of the mushi.  Brains are more important than brawn, and at times it can be rather contemplative.  It’s a great change of pace.

This Week in Manga 4/10-4/16/10


More Simon and Schuster Sightings

The sharp eyes of Michelle Smith of Soliloquy in Blue has spotted some more manga listings on Simon and Schuster from Viz.  Two of them we already knew about; Grand Guigol Orchestra and Cross Game.  But then four new titles showed up scheduled to come out at the end of the year.  Kurozakuro is scheduled for November, and the rest, Kamisama Kiss, Psyren, Itsuwaribito are scheduled for December. I can’t say any of them really inspire me, but I’ve been surprised before.  I am saddened by the news of no sign of Story of Saiunkoku.  I loved the anime, and am so dying to read the manga!  Hopefully the new Kaori Yuki title, Grand Guigol Orchestra, will help to pass the time.

Del Rey Ousts X-Men: Misfits & Wolverine: Prodigal Son

The weekend ended with a bit of downer as news and confirmation of the cancellation of first X-Men: Misfits and then Wolverine: Prodigal Son came out on Twitter. This seemed to be surprising news as X-men: Misfits seemed to have sold fairly well, hitting the New York Times best seller list for a few weeks.  But the creators of both series say Del Rey cited poor sales as the reason for pulling the plug.  While I wasn’t all that impressed with the first volume of Wolverine, it was more from Wolverine overkill than poor writing or art.  Others have speculated that the Marvel/Disney buyout may have affected the licensing fees for the titles and made them unfeasible for Del Rey to continue with.  But, wouldn’t the contract remain in effect for the whole series?  Could the fees really be changed because of a change in owners?  Who knows if we’ll ever know the truth.  It’s not like Del Rey cares about the fans or anything.

Speed Up Done Right

Found via Twitter.  It seems Yen Press is joining the Speed Up Releases Race.  Volumes of Goong, a popular manhwa title will start coming out as two-volumes-in-one as of volume 9 (the next scheduled release).  This is a boon for fans of the series.  Volume 8 just came out while in Korea they are up to volume 18.  By doing the 2-in-1 omnibus speed up, Yen Press can catch up the series faster (presumably to reduce the need for scanlations), and fans can keep up with it with out the major payout of money and shelf space.  The 2-volume omnibuses will be less than buying two volumes regularly.  This is a responsible way to speed up a series without leaving so many readers being and in the dust.

DMP on your PSP

Digital Manga Publishing has teamed up with IDW to put their manga on the PSP, starting with their Vampire Hunter D manga.  I think this is terrific news.  The more platforms publishers reach out to the better.  And while the PSP hasn’t been the stellar gaming platform that Sony hoped it would be, fans of the platform has been putting comics on their devices for a while now.  And while DMP is the first to put manga in the official Sony Playstation store, Seven Seas has several preview chapters of their original titles formatted for the PSP.  You can direct download them from Seven Seas.

Sometimes It’s Nice to Just Be Asked

Last month there was a lot of talk/debate about scanlations and their effects on the manga industry.  Well, the Japanese have finally spoken out on the subject.  In the latest issue of Weekly Shonen Jump, there was a message to the fans, asking them to stop scanning its manga. A full translation of the message is available at the link.  One site has responded.  It’s a US site that provided raws.  Now whether they closed down because of a sudden change of heart or because they feared legal repercussions we’ll never know.  But, it is nice to see a company appeal to the fans better nature instead of heading straight to the lawyers to deal with a problem.

NYT Best Seller List

Here is a first for the NYT list.  And it’s not just about dominance.  Viz holds 9 of the 10 slots on this weeks list, and 5 of those belong to one series: One Piece.  That is quite an accomplishment for a series that usually only makes it to the list occasionally.   It’s also exceptional that all but two of the titles on the list are debuts.  But first, Twilight once again holds the #1 spot of the Hardback list.  Over in manga, Rosario Vampire: Season II vol 1 debuts at #1.  Yu-Gi-Oh! R vol 4, featuring the original cast, debuts in at #2. Naruto vol 47 stays in the top five by falling to #3, while another newcomer, Gentleman’s Alliance vol 11, the final, comes in at #4.  Spots 5-9 all belong to One Piece, in the order of Vol 40, Vol 39, Vol 41, Vol 43, and Vol 42.  Rounding off the list is that black suited gentleman of Yen Press, Black Butler vol 1 holding on to #10.  This is quite a nice surprise.  Naruto waves may have appeared on the list, but they were only three at a time.  One Piece is pushing five.  But it is also supposed to be an amazing arc, these volumes, all about Nico Robin.  Perhaps people are finally realizing how great One Piece really is.  It’s about time!

Manga For Your Ears

Manga Out Loud

  • Episode 6 Part 1 and Part 2 – Pluto Series Discussion with spoilers and special guest


Spiraken Manga Reviews

This Week at Manga Village

What I’m Reading

  • Bunny Drop
  • Legend of the Five Rings: Unicorn: The Second Scroll

And Friday was my Dad’s 74th Birthday.  Happy Birthday Dad!

What’s Up with Del Rey Manga?

X-Men Misfits 1This is something that’s been wondering around in the back of my mind for a while now, but found a voice on Twitter this week.  With the news of Del Rey’s cancellation of their X-Men manga reboots, the question came up asking if Del Rey was having problems.  That seems a very valid question.  A look at Del Rey’s sporadic release schedule and the fact that they’ve gone to releasing omnibuses to complete some series’ does suggest problems.  But that wasn’t my take.  Del Rey is a division of Random House, one of the power house publishers, so I don’t think it’s a financial problem.  I think it’s more of an attention span issue.

Continue reading What’s Up with Del Rey Manga?

Review: Pichi Pichi Pitch Mermaid Melody Volume 1-7

Lucia is the new girl at school. She and her sister run a public bath that’s all the rage. When Lucia meets a terrific-looking surfer boy, there’s just one little problem: Lucia is a mermaid–not just any mermaid, but a princess on an important mission to save the seven seas from an evil force bent on taking control of the marine world. Such a responsibility doesn’t leave much time for romance. But Lucia vows to protect her world and win the heart of handsome Kaito.

Mermaid Melody 1By Pink Hanamori
Publisher: Del Rey
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Price: $10.95
Rating: ★★★½☆
Buy This Book

This series is a a magical girl-fantasy-romance.  Mermaids exist and live in the seven seas.  Each sea has a princess with a pearl that gives them special powers.  For not only can mermaids appear as human and walk on land, the princesses can transform into Idols, microphones and all.  This series centers around three of the princesses.  Lucia is the pink Princess of the North Pacific.  She has come to land to find her pearl before her coming of age ceremony.  She gave it to a boy she saved from a ship wreck when she was young.  Hanon is the blue Princess of the South Atlantic and Rina is the green Princess of the North Atlantic.  They join Lucia after escaping the destruction of their kingdoms and protecting their pearls from the mysterious Gakuto, who is determined to get all the mermaid princesses’ pearls and rule the seven seas.

Along side the fighting Gakuto’s evil minions and protecting their pearls, the three princesses’ lives are complicated by the human males they meet.  Lucia is in love with Kaito, the boy she gave her pearl to.  Kaito is in love with her too, but only her mermaid side.  Of course, Lucia can’t tell Kaito who she really is, or else she’ll turn to sea foam.  Hanon is likewise smitten with the music teacher at school, but he only has eyes for another mermaid he saw several years previously.  Rina, the tomboy, doesn’t claim to like anyone human boy, but one persistent, older boy seems to capture her attention.  The chapters mostly alternate between the romance and the fight against Gakuto.

The series is divided into two arcs.  The first four volumes are devoted to the Aqua Regina arc.  The mermaid princess’ are charged by the mermaid deity, Aqua Regina, to stop Gakuto, save the other princess’ and protect the humans from the devastation Gakuto and a mysterious woman with him plans to wreck on the world.  This first arc has some good twists which lead up to an exciting and climatic battle.  If I were to rate just this first arc, I would give it 5 stars.  It was well written and everything led up to the ending, tying all the loose ends together for a happy ending.  And it should have ended there.

Instead, the series goes into a second arc.  Much like the unplanned sequel to a successful movie, Kaito and Lucia are separated.  Kaito gets amnesia and disappears, causing them to start their relationship all over.  I really hate stories that resort to this kind of plot.  This second arc, the Resurrection of Michel, is only two volumes.  Michel is an ancient being known as a Winged One.  He wants to destroy the human world and and bring back his race.  Lucia and the other mermaid princesses declare they will fight Michel instead of joining him, and it’s a race now to find all the pieces of the Orange Princess pearl to help the new princess be born before Michel can and be resurrected.

This second arc didn’t hold a lot of interest for me.  The story seemed sloppy and thrown together instead of carefully plotted out.  It takes the power of everyone we’ve encountered over the entire series, enemies and all, working together to defeat Michel. It tries to make it feel like it was planned all along, but that isn’t how it comes off.  This arc is filled with a lot of melodrama, between Kaito’s guilt for wanting to leave the young girl Michal that has latched on to him, and Lucia constant attempts to win him back.  Once again, the story arc is tied up neatly, so I will give credit where it’s due.  Hanamori does a good job of bringing her story to an end, and does so satisfactorily. The final volume is filled with one shots more than having a specific story arc.  It ties up some left over romance and gives a glimpse into Kaito and Lucia’s future.

Overall, Pichi Pichi Pitch Mermaid Melody is a decent series.  It stresses themes of friendship and true love that kids like to read, and that teens should see more often than the “mean girl” stories that seem to get more play.  The romance is cute with lots of blushing and light kisses traded between couples.  It’s filled with fashion and while the music can’t be heard, their pop idol personas are still full of energy and fun.  This is a great title for tween-to-teens and would make a great edition to any teen library collection.  For older readers, it’s a fun read that really rocks at the beginning, but starts to drag at the end.  Only pick this up if you like mermaids/magical girl manga.

Review: Princess Resurrection Volume 3

Princess Resurrection 3
Princess Resurrection Volume 3
By Yasunori Mitsunaga
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Age Rating: 16+
Genre: Supernatural
Price: $10.95
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Mummies, vampires, and a ghost ship: a typical day in the life of Princess Hime, monster slayer extraordinaire.  But when her kid sister visits, Princess Hime may have finally met her match.  Now she’s facing her toughest battle of all: sibling warfare!

The campiness we saw in the first two volumes of this series starts to get toned down in the third.  The fight between Hime and her brothers goes past simply sending hordes of monsters to something more serious.  It’s not going to be all fun and games from here on out.  It’s too bad the fan service doesn’t also take a hike.

Continue reading Review: Princess Resurrection Volume 3

Review: Princess Resurrection Volume 1

Princess Resurrection 1
Princess Resurrection Volume 1
By Yasunori Mitsunaga
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Supernatural
Price: $10.95
Rating: ★★★★☆

Werewolves, demons, monsters, vampires – all these ferocious creatures are afraid of the same thing: the beautiful Princess Hime, an awesome warrior who fights the forces of evil with a chainsaw and a smile.  Not only does she look great in a tiara, she has magical powers that allow her to raise the dead.  She’s a girl on a mission, and with the help of her undead servant and a supercute robot, there’s no creature of darkness she can’t take down!

Take a Princess with a chainsaw, an androids in maid costume and a bit of a loser student who gains semi-immortality by accident and throw them into a battle with monsters out of a drive-in double feature and you have the first volume of Princess Resurrection, a series that balance’s campy horror with a more serious fight to become the King of Monsters.

Continue reading Review: Princess Resurrection Volume 1

Review: Yokaiden Volume 1

Yokai…Japanese spirits.  Most people fear them, and a few people even hunt them, thinking they are horrible monsters to be destroyed at all costs.  But young Hamachi wants to be friends with them!  He sees them as mischievous creatures that could co-exist peacefully with humans if only given a chance.  When his grandmother dies under mysterious circumstances, Hamachi journeys into the Yokai realm.  Along the way, he encounters an ogre who punishes truant children, and angry water spirit, and a talking lantern.  Will Hamachi be able to find his grandmother’s killer, or will he be lost forever in another world?

Yokaiden Volume 1
By Nina Matsumoto
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Age Rating: 13+
Genre: Supernatural/Humor
Price: $10.95
Rating: ★★★½☆

The plot of Yokaiden sounds very generic.  Orphaned hero goes off to another realm filled with monsters to avenge his grandmother’s death.  But Yokaiden turns out to be much more than it’s basic plot.  It’s a showcase for many of the strange and sometimes playful, sometimes dangerous creatures that make up Japanese folklore.  The interplay with these beings often overshadows the plot, and its clueless main character.

Hamachi is your typical happy, often oblivious protagonist.  Despite losing his parents at  young age, and being cared for by his harsh grandmother, he’s a good-natured and obedient boy.  He has a bit of a temper, but his anger is very short lived.  He gets angry at a Ronin Samurai who comes to the village to offer his services as a yokai killer, but just as quickly asks for forgiveness.  And I guess it could be determination to find his grandmother’s killer that he doesn’t really grieve for her death, other than a single outburst.  He really doesn’t have much of a personality outside of his yokai obsession.  I didn’t find him interesting at all, especially when compared to all the yokai he encounters.

It’s in his search to find the kappa he thinks could have killed his grandmother and the yokai realm that we get to see the wide range of yokai.  It’s these encounters that make up the high points of this volume.  Right after finding his grandmother dead, Hamachi runs in a Grime Licker and a Bean Washer.  Upon entering the forest where the entrance to the yokai realm is believed to be, he encounters all kinds of smaller yokai, such as the Shin-Rubber which trips people, and the Namahage, an ogre that skins the feet of delinquent children.  Inside, Hamachi first befriends a Tsukumo Gami, in the form of a paper lantern, is chased by a Chimera and meets another Tsukumo Gami, this time, a one-legged, one-eyed paper umbrella that has just come to life, and was once the property of Hamachi’s grandfather.  All of these encounters, and the short facts about them at the end of each chapter are what kept me interested in this volume.  Hamachi’s quest was just the vehicle to meeting all these interesting creatures.

Yokaiden isn’t a serious title.  There are touches of humor all through the volume, usually from Hamachi and his interactions with yokai. The kappa that he rescues at the beginning has some great sarcastic barbs that seem to go right over Hamachi’s head.  Many of the yokai he meets and tries to be friends with think he’s weird.  Little jokes are thrown in all over, such as Hamachi talking back to the narrator, or King Enma rising up with a portal to hell when Hamachi is looking for the portal to the yokai realm.  The villagers have their laughs too, such as the gossiping women who sound sympathetic to Hamachi’s hardships, but really don’t care, or the discussion the villagers get into about what kind of irony it is that Hamachi’s grandmother was killed by a yokai.

I liked Nina Matsumoto’s art.  It uses all the best elements from manga without going overboard.  There aren’t any chibis or sweat drops, but there are some starry looks, which aren’t so bad.  And the yokai all look great.  With so much variety, Matsumoto does a great job making them look different, not just from each other, but also from what we as westerners expect monsters to look like.

Overall, Yokaiden was a good time killer.  I loved seeing and reading about all the yokai, but the overall story of Hamachi and his quest to avenge his grandmother, not so much.  I didn’t really like the grandmother, and didn’t feel bad when she had died.  If you like yokai and enjoy a chuckle or two, then Yokaiden is worth the time.  If you’re looking for more than a light read, then this title isn’t for you.

This Week In Manga 9/26-10/02/09

New York Anime Festival Days 2 & 3

Days 2 & 3 of NYAF brought publishers Del Rey and Viz with more licenses and news.  Del Rey remains conservative with only a few new licenses, but shows it’s still got some cred with Kodansha.  Viz has a little something for everyone in each of their lines, including some interesting suprises.  What isn’t surprising is the number of titles from already known mangaka.  Easier to sell a known than unknown quantity, I would say.

Continue reading This Week In Manga 9/26-10/02/09