This week I look at the news from Anime Boston and Fanime, some new license announcements from Seven Seas Entertainment, the Vizmanga.com top 10, and bid a final farewell to Jmanga.
This week I have some comments on Kodansha and their position on older Del Rey titles, and have a series review of the Yen Press title 13th Boy. Review copies provided by publisher.
I check out Baka-Updates Manga for occasionally for new and interesting titles. When I see an interesting title, I throw it into my wish list so I won’t forget it. This site is especially helpful for License Season at Vertical. I few weeks ago, I saw a title go by that made me raise my eyebrows and even comment about it on Twitter; Tanteiken Sherdock. I was attracted to it because of the “tantei” in the title, denoted this as a detective series. But when I clicked on the link, I was surprised to find what it was about! Sherlock Holmes is re-incarnated as a talking dog! His Watson/side kick is a high school boy named Takeru Wajima, who can understand him for some reason. I thought it was silly, but not to surprising considering the interest in Sherlock Holmes lately.
Imagine my surprise when I learned yesterday that Kodansha Comics has licensed this for the US! I was stunned, but in a good way! I’ve been bemoaning the fact that there aren’t a lot of good detective titles available in English. Detective Conan/Case Closed and Young Miss Holmes are about the only ones that come to mind. I’m thrilled that there will be another great detective roaming the bookshelves out there. Another reason to celebrate is the writer of the series. Yuma Ando is a pen name of Shin Kibayashi, who also penned Kindaichi Case Files, another detective series that I miss dearly. I loved Kindaichi, so I have high hopes for this series as well.
So, if Watson can become a female, why can’t Sherlock become a dog? He’s a cute dog too. Springer Spaniel by the looks of it. I’m thrilled that this series is coming to our shores and can’t wait for September to get here!
New York Comic Con, or NYCC, was this weekend, with all the manga publishers making appearances and announcements. Vertical, Viz, Yen Press, even Kodansha and Jmanga had panels to announce their new titles and new alliances.
I’ve been making license requests ever since I started blogging. In fact, one of my first posts was a plea to see City Hunter back in print. I’ve made wishes since then when titles by a creator I know about catch my eye, or certain subjects or other media tie-ins build my interest. Just recently I’ve notices that a few of my wishes have been granted!
Kodansha started things off when they announced Bloody Monday as one of their new licenses at NYCC in 2010. I wished for it a year earlier in October 2009. But I didn’t learn of the manga first. It was through the J-drama that I discovered this title and it’s manga roots. I really enjoyed the J-drama with the plus that is seems to have been faithful to the manga (so far). Another plus about this title is that it written by the same writer as Kindaichi Case Files and Drops of God, two other titles I really enjoyed. I was absolutely surprised and thrilled that this title was picked up. It’s a little over the top sometimes with the drama and suspense, but that’s part of the fun!
Jmanga is becoming a genie with the wish granting. One of their first new licenses was Edo Nekoe Jubei Otogizoshi, a title I learned about from Deb Aoki of manga.about.com after she returned from a trip to Japan. I knew next to nothing about except what she described, but I still wanted it! It was about cats! And Yokai! And Cat Yokai! I really couldn’t ask for anything more. Except to be able to read it. Which Jmanga obliged me with. And it has been just as fun to read as I had hoped it would be.
Then just recently, Jmanga granted another of my wishes. It’s a wish I’ve had for a while, but didn’t get around to writing about it until last July. Mythical Detective Loki has two things going for it that makes a must have for me; detectives and norse mythology. The anime for this series came out several years ago, and ADV manga made an abortive attempt to bring out the second series (only released two volumes that didn’t make much sense since it picked up where the first series left off). So, I’ve been wanting to read this series for about 7 years now. And then Jmanga, waving their magic license wand granted me that chance, making me not only a happy fangirl, but a loyal Jmanga reader for life!
These are three great ticks off my list, but there are still more to come, as well as license rescues, which Jmanga is proving to be a great source of. I will finally get to read more of tactics, from the artist of Mythical Detective Loki, and they promise more from Kodansha later. So I’ll keep wishing and hoping they’ll keep granting.
Mystery and intrigue, crime and punishment, uncovering the truth–all in a day’s work for the ace defense attorney Phoenix Wright and his beautiful assistant Maya Fey. Based on the hit game series, Ace Attorney brings new adventures to the games’ colorful cast. Can Nick successfully swing the gavel of justice or will he be crushed by the weight of incriminating evidence?
There’s not a lot of mystery manga available in English (unfortunately), so when a new series does come out, I like to check it out. Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright is based on a video game of the same name, and features many of the characters from it. It’s a decent police procedural, but the goofy characters, both in design and personality throws it off-kilter for me.
This first volume of Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright features one-and-two-thirds cases, which serve to introduce most of the characters. The first case has Nick defending his old friend from elementary school who doesn’t have the best luck with the ladies, as he is accused of murdering his new girlfriend’s old boyfriend. The second is much longer, and has Nick meeting a potential client, only to have the client killed in a locked room scenario.
Both stories are well written. The first takes place mostly in the court room, and uses several elements from the video game, including Nick’s “Objection!” pose. The comedy is played up more, particularly between Winston Payne, the prosecutor and Larry Butz, the defendant. In between there is murder and a woman scorned, but the impact of the case is lessened with the more comedic acts in the courtroom. The full impact doesn’t hit until the last page of the story. The second mystery takes itself much more seriously, possibly since it doesn’t take place in the courtroom, and Nick can be more of the detective than attorney. A lot of time is spent setting up the scene and the suspects, with the actual crime not happening until the end of the volume. It’s a good cliffhanger to get the reader back to find out more.
The art is on the cartoonish side, but most of this is because of the source material. The characters all look like their video game counterparts, which does sometimes swing on the silly side. Nick’s hair looks like it was blown back by a hurricane and stuck like that permanently. Larry always looks good with big red cheeks and a lot of cartoonish expressions. I know this can’t be helped as it is the way they characters were designed for the video game, but the whole look didn’t work as well as a manga for me.
I did enjoy the mysteries presented in this first volume of Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright, but I’m still on the fence about getting more. If it were available digitally, I wouldn’t be so hesitant since it wouldn’t take up precious shelf space. For now, Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright will have to sit on the back burner unless I get a craving for some more mysteries.
Another San Diego Comic Con has come and gone, and it’s left us with a lot of announcements to sort through. Viz Media, Yen Press, Kodansha Comics and newcomer Jmanga all had panels filled with news and announcements. But who had exciting announcements and who were more ho-hum? Read on to find out more!
Viz Media started off their first panel by announcing that their digital manga would be available on android devices. That seemed like an exciting announcement until you go to the Google Play site and get the message that the app isn’t compatible with your device. It seems Viz has made their app for only phones and not tablets. This really disappointed me, since I prefer reading comics and manga on my tablet, but at least android users can finally download their Vizmanga.com manga. They really should have just said phones instead of “devices”. That was really misleading. I’ll be satisfied when they’re available for any device. The only other big announcements from Viz was from their Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha panel. Blue Exorcist, a current title will be joining the digital magazine as a monthly title as will a new series, Takama-Ga-Hara, which just started in WSJ. It’s about a boy with superhuman powers who wants to become a mangaka rather than a fighter like his brothers. It might be interesting.
Jmanga.com was the big winner for me with its announcements. They also announced their manga would be available on android devices, but they really mean “devices”; both phones and tablets will be supported, and will be available in October. I very excited about this! They also announced, and only got permission to do so minutes before the panel, that they would be releasing Kodansha titles previously released by Tokyopop and Del Rey. This is great news too! There were a lot of good titles that went OOP when Tokyopop lost the Kodansha licenses. On my personal wish list of titles to return are Kindaichi Case Files, which ended before its last volume as did Dragon Voice. And it’s a crime that Fruits Basket is no longer available. This title really needs to return digitally. On the Del Rey side, seeing Nodame Cantabile return would be awesome too. One other license that Jmanga announced was Mythical Detective Loki, by Sakura Kinoshita, the artist of tactics. I’ve been wanting this series ever since I first found out about it at least 7 years ago! I can’t wait for this to come out.
Yen Press has been a staple at SDCC since 2007. They don’t seem interested in making their manga available to everyone. Their position for not going on android is that they are “waiting for it to work right.” What does that even mean? Android seems to work just fine. Mainstream comics have no problem with it, Dark Horse has a great app, and Viz and Jmanga are moving to it. What of it doesn’t work? They did promote their Nook app, that only works on Nook devices (not the app for other devices or web), so it keeps it to a small audience and will never grow. Their license announcements weren’t too exciting either. Not really interested in any more James Patterson titles, and getting more YA supernatural titles will get just as tiresome.
Of their Japanese licenses, BTOOOM! sounds like .hack meets Survivor, and not too interesting. Another might be interesting if the mystery side is played up as much as the horror. Welcome to the Erotic Bookstore looks the most intriguing. It’s the memoirs of a woman working in a bookstore that opens up an erotic section. It sounds like it’ll be really fun. Another interesting statement was that they seem to be backtracking on their “no license rescues” stance. They say they are looking at some Tokyopop titles, even though they declared they wouldn’t after TP closed and fans asked them to.
Kodansha spent their panel talking mostly about their current line up, with little in new titles. They didn’t even bring any digital initiatives, and remain iOS only. There was a lot of talk of Sailor Moon, and Negima ending. Of their new titles, there were a few. Along with Negima‘s last volume will come a spin-off, Negiho, which puts Negi as a teacher of young girls. Yeah, still just as disturbing. Natsume Ono fans will be glad to get her collection of short stories, Danza. And I don’t know if this is a new announcement or not, but it’s new to me. Missions of Love is a shojo about a cellphone novelist who gets involved with the most popular boy in school.
Winners and losers for San Diego 2012? Jmanga takes it for me all the way. They had the most announcements that really excited me. Loser would be Kodansha with nothing that even piques my interest. Viz beats out Yen Press by at least making an effort to reach out to android fans. But con season isn’t over yet. With Otakon and NYCC still come, there are still chances for more and exciting announcements.
The Wallflower got off to a rough start with me, but by the end of volume 10, I was starting to warm up to the series. I still had 5 volumes left to get through, and these were going to make-or-break the series for me.
I have to admit, this series is really starting to grow on me. The problems I had with the first five volumes are gone. The stories in these volume vary quite a bit, as the boys get their own spotlight instead of focusing solely on Sunako. Takenaga and Noi’s relationship takes some baby steps forward. Ranmaru continues to try to come to terms with his new fiancée Tamao. He continues his womanizing, but can be made to feel guilty about it by her honest and naive personality. There is definitely potential for them. Yuki’s younger siblings are introduced, and he is shown to be a good older brother. He also gets a boost of confidence, but of course, at the wrong time. Kyohei just keeps being Kyohei, and that’s just fine with me. Sunako starts to show some progress as well. She makes some friends at school outside of the boys and Noi. She’s able to move on from some of the past that has haunted her, and start to accept herself.
And the person most responsible for this change is Kyohei. Their relationship continues to be more combative, and in my opinion, the most fun. I love watching them battle, and the way they competed in the Sports Day competitions was great. Both continue to refuse to admit they have any interest in each other, but Kyohei continues to be there to help Sunako, either with his actions or blunt words.Sunako shows she cares for Kyohei in her own way, even if she still clings to the thought that she’s just biding time until his life is hers. Even though their relationship is progressing at a snail’s pace, I’m fine with it. At this point it would seem more out of character to see either of them even thinking any kind of romantic feels for the other. I actually think it would be out of character for them to do so at all, but I do want to seem them together, eventually. That’s probably where the series should end. Once you get them together I just don’t think there’ll be anything more left to say.
I want to also take a moment to mention the author’s comments at the end of the volume. Hayakawa likes to do long notes at the end, mostly about her favorite jpop musician, some of which she based the bishonen boys on. I really didn’t care for these, because I’m not that kind of fan girl, and don’t really care about reading other people’s obsession over celebrities. I usually just scanned this section, until Hayakawa got a kitten. A Scottish Fold, a breed that is popular in Japan for some reason. She added real photos as well as little tidbits about the kitten, names Ten. So, by the time I got to these volumes, I did want to read the notes, but only for those about Ten. Yes, I am destined to be a crazy cat lady.
I’ve definitely turned around from my feelings about The Wallflower at the beginning. It’s a series I would like to continue, if I could borrow it or get it digitally. I liked it, but not enough for it to keep taking up space on my bookshelf. So if Kodansha ever releases this title digitally and/or for a non-iOS device, I’ll be there. While I’m not interested in keeping it, I would recommend this title to anyone with my more twisted sense of humor and romance. Just push through the first five volumes because it does get better.
I’m moving on to Spiral: Bonds of Reasoning next. I think I will have to go back a volume or two for a refresher, since it seems to have been quite a while. I also want to get some pet manga read and reviewed, and then there’s the next MMF, which I plan on participating in. Where I’m going to find the time is anyone guess.
- The Wallflower Volume 11-15
- Yen Plus April 2012
ANN has two news stories today that make me go “Want Want Want Want!” Two new manga series are starting, or more accurately, re-starting in Japan. And there’s probably a better chance of a snowball fight happening in hell before we see either of them in English.
Kindaichi Case Files is a murder mystery series that was originally licensed by Tokyopop. They released 18 volumes and then put the series on hiatus. Then Kodansha yanked the license back, along with all their other titles, leaving fans (few as we may have been) sad and bereft. Another 18 volumes of manga exist that we will probably never see in English since the first attempt did so poorly. Though, I would lay some of that blame on Tokyopop, as they did not market the manga very well. Now, as the series turns 20, the title is returning to the pages of Weekly Shonen Magazine with the same writer and artist team. It was bad enough that I had to lament not being able to read the original series, but now there will be MORE that I won’t be able to read?! Kodansha! Bring back Kindaichi Case Files! Even if you just pick up where Tokyopop left off, or even go digital only on Jmanga! Kindaichi Case Files is a fun whodunnit with great characters and mysteries that appeal to the supernatural, but always have a natural explanation. We deserve to get to read more of it!
Master Keaton is a manga series I have wanted ever since I first heard about it. The son of a Japanese zoologist and well-born English woman, studies to be an archeologist and solves mysteries. A mystery solving archeologist is sooooo up my alley! Add Naoki Urasawa to the mix, and you have a manga made in heaven! But due to some posturing by both Urasawa and a friend of the original writer, we will probably never see this series in English. It is such a dumb reason to be deprived of what looks like a great series. And now, to add insult to injury, a sequel, Master Keaton Remaster, will be starting in Japan, in Shogakakun’s Big Comic Original, 18 years after the first series ended serialization. This is so unfair! Not only is Urasawa returning to draw the manga, but Takashi Nagasaki, who supervised Pluto, another awesome series, will be writing the story. This is just awesome piled on top of awesome! Can I have some hope that since the series is getting a sequel, it might be available for licensing? Do I dare hope such a thing? Viz, omnibus editions of Master Keaton would look so good on my bookshelf. If it is possible, you must make this happen! The English-speaking world should no longer be deprived of this series!
The first day of panels at NYCC/NYAF was certainly full of surprises. And it started right off first thing in the morning for me, at 6:30 am (PST) when news started on Twitter about Viz Media’s big announcement. Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha will be a digital manga magazine that will run new chapter of the manga Bakuman, Bleach, Naruto, Nura, One Piece, and Toriko two weeks after they run in Japan. The magazine will be available through Vizmanga.com and through the iOS apps. The price is $25.99 for 48 issues, or you can rent single issues for .99 for 4 weeks. I’m a little confused on the .99 rental though. I’ve seen it described as .99 a month, which implies only paying .99 for four issues which is a lot better than 25.99 for a year, unless of course, the year subscription means you can keep the issues permanently. Whether the weekly issues are for keeps or for a limited time as the Nura serialization is now hasn’t been clarified. The digital magazine will start in January 2012, with the print magazine ending with the March issue.
I can’t say I’m thrilled with the new line up. One Piece and Bakuman are the only ones I’m interested in, and the fact that I can only stream the titles, since no one wants to even try to make an android tablet app (hint: if it’s so hard to do an app with all the different flavors of Android, then just do what most pub do now anyway; make just a tablet app on Honeycomb), this severely limits my ability to take the mag and “read anywhere”, something I can currently do with my print mag. I’m going to need more details before I decide to stay with the digital magazine. I’ll also admit that I’ll miss reading Psyren and Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds. They aren’t titles I want to actively go after, but I enjoyed reading them in the magazine. Now, Shonen Jump is returning to it “only the top sellers can appear” approach, which is a shame, since going digital should be the opportunity to experiment. And I agree with others on Twitter, that a Shojo Beat digital magazine would be awesome.
Next came Yen Press and Seven Seas with new license announcements. Yen Press announced Soul Eater Not, a side story to Soul Eater. I wasn’t impressed with the first series, so I don’t anticipate caring much for this one. They’ve also announced it will appear in the current issue of Yen Plus, but is that going to be permanent, or just a couple of chapters to push the series as High School of the Dead Color was, and a way to pad the scant Japanese side? I like that Yen is continuing to adapt YA novels, the newest editions being Infernal Devices, which sounds interesting, and a Dark Hunters side story Infinity. And I’ll admit to some curiosity to the Japanese licenses Madoka Magica and Until Death Due Us Part. I might check out Alice in the Country of Hearts, a Tokyopop license rescue (that they said they wouldn’t do…) I missed it the first time around.
Then Seven Seas hints at a new license through anagrams again on Twitter, which turns out to be the sequel to Alice in the Country of Hearts, Alice in the Country of Clover. This was a pleasant surprise and a boon for AitCoH fans. Seven Seas also announced the new title from the creator of Dance in the Vampire Bund. Angel Para Bellum takes on christian mythology with a battle between heaven and hell brewing and only a boy named Mitsuru holds the key to preventing it. I think Supernatural has killed my interest in such stories, but I’ll check ou the first volume if given the chance.
Kodansha announced two new licenses, Attack on Titan and Miles Edgeworth. I don’t know how much Attack on Titan will appeal to me, but if I like the Phoenix Wright manga, I might check out the Miles Edgeworth. They also announced omnibuses of former Del Rey titles Genshiken and Kitchen Princess, two good titles to keep in print. And then there was the obligatory iOS app announcement (yawn).
Vertical had the biggest surprises for me. The licenses lately haven’t been my cup of tea, with Princess Knight being the only new title I really wanted to read. But in their announcements at their panel, they had two that really piqued my interest. I”ve heard a lot about Osamu Tezuka’s Adolf (Messages to Adolf), but it’s been out of print for so long, I didn’t hold by breath at ever reading it. Until now. It will be releases in 2 hardback volumes next year. Sakuran really looks intriguing too. It’s a historical title about courtesans in the Edo era. And I can’t resist historical titles.
While all of these announcements sound great, I’m going to remain cautiously optimistic about them. What looks good in a press release might not be so great in reality. So I’ll watch and wait for now. Most of the books announced won’t be out until next summer, so there’s plenty of time for things to change. Only the digital announcements have any immediacy, and only Viz’s really concerns me. But it’s still nice to see things to get excited about again.
With the new release of Sailor Moon by Kodansha coming out this week, my Twitter feed has been full of tweets from people really excited by it. I know Sailor Moon is a big deal to a lot of people. It’s a classic in the magical girl genre, and it was a gateway to anime and manga for many folks. But it wasn’t for me. I never watched the anime, and new nothing about the manga release, as it was before I started reading manga seriously. I knew about it of course. I first heard about it from a friend in the 90s. He was reading the Japanese manga volumes obsessively at SDCC. I didn’t get the appeal for it then, and I still don’t get the appeal for it now.
Anyway, I had the chance recently to pre-order the first volume. Twice, in fact. But, I just couldn’t do it. I will admit to some curiosity about the series. I know basically what it’s about, but I have too much doubt about how I would react to it. I’ve never been impressed by the synopses I’ve read about it. And the last thing I need is to buy a book that I don’t know if I’m going to like. My time and space is already very limited. Adding Sailor Moon, with my mind already fairly set against it isn’t going to help things. Now, I know I can be wrong. I thought I would hate Yu-Gi-Oh!, thanks to the TCG hype and anime, but I actually ended up really liking the manga. I know Sailor Moon could turn out to be like that, but I just couldn’t get myself to take the chance.
When a high-ranking government official is kidnapped, the Prime Minister must call in his top crime fighting force know as Section 9. Lead by the beautiful (and deadly) Major Kusanagi, the cybernetically enhanced squad must use all their skill to take down the kidnappers and rescue the hostages. But that’s only half of the mission; can Kusanagi and company find out who’s behind the kidnapping, and, more importantly, just what they’re after?