Sakura was never a character that interested me in the original Naruto manga, as she appeared to be more interested in Sasuke as husband material than really making it as a ninja in her own right. This may have changed later in the series, but this novel definitely does, as it give her not only the spotlight, but a mystery to solve!
As an old-time anime fan, Legend of the Galactic Heroes is a series often spoken about, but chances of an English release seemed slim. Space operas about military and political intrigue doesn’t seem like something that would appeal to anime and manga fans. But with light novels on the rise, and a very vocal US fan base, Viz Media has heard and the series will finally be out this week. Even more exciting, is the release of an audio book version, so even if you can’t look at the page, you can still be reading this amazing series.
At the beginning of March, Yen Press announced three new manga via their Twitter feed. They had teased the announcements in February and finally ended the suspense with the official announcement on March 1.
The first title they whipped out was Rose Gun Days Season One. This is another series by Ryukishi07, the creator of the visual novel games Higurashi When They Cry and Umineko When They Cry, both of which Yen Press has licensed and published the manga adaptations. Rose Gun Days is another visual novel game adaptation. This time, the story takes place just after the end of World War II. Devastated and defeated, the Japanese government accepts the allies’ reconstruction plan. Japan begins to recover, but the United States and China taken control through the local governments. Chinese and American immigrants flood in, making the Japanese a minority in their own country. Rose Haibara works at Club Primavera, helping out her countrymen. Leo Shishigami is an repatriated soldier with a reputation with the ladies. Everything begins to change when Rose and Leo meet in the spring of 1947. This series is different from Ryukishi07’s other works, as it is more of an action romance. The first season is 4 volumes long, and the first is scheduled to ship in the fall. I like the sound of this series. It looks like it will be a nice change from the mystery and horror of Higurashi and Umineko.
The second volume picked up was Final Fantasy Type 0 Side Story: The Reaper of the Icy Blade. This is a prequel to the video game Final Fantasy Type 0 for Playstation Portable. The story takes place nine years before the events of Final Fantasy Type 0. It follows Kurasame Susaya and his time as a student at the magic academy Peristylium Suzaku and as a member of the “Four Heavenly Kings of Suzaku.” The series is five volumes with the first volume scheduled to ship in July. The release of the remastered game coming out this month, hype for the series should build up to a nice launch in the summer, where fans hungry for more will want to pick it up. I don’t know if I’ll be one of them. I’ve never had much interest in the Final Fantasy franchise.
The third series was a confirmation, no doubt from an early solicitation by Amazon. Horimiya is a spin-off of the 4koma manga Hori-san to Miyamura-kun. This manga follows the same basic premise of the original. Hori is a pretty and popular girl at school. Miyamura is a glass-wearing, introverted boy. But both have another side to themselves that they don’t want to get out. Hori is actually a laid-back, family oriented girl, while Miyamura is a handsome boy with pierces and tattoos. When they discover each other’s secrets, an unexpected friendship develops. The series is currently at 6 volumes and ongoing. The first volume is slated for release in October. I haven’t found a shonen rom-com that I like as of yet, but this series looks like it might have potential. It’s at least worth checking out.
Just over a week later, Yen Press is back with two more titles to announce, a light novel and manga. This has become a norm for Yen Press, to get both the light novel and manga adaptation. Well, almost in this case.
Irregular at Magic High School is a light novel series that started in 2008. It takes place in a world where magic is recognized as a technology rather than the occult or lore. The story follows Tatsuya Shiba, an underachieving student, as he tries to navigate school life at the National Magic University First Affiliate High School where he is looked down upon by the higher performing students except for his sister Miyuki, who might more than sibling love for him. The series is still ongoing and the 16th volume will be published in Japan in May. There is also a 2014 anime series which was licensed by Aniplex America. Yen Press will release the first volume in October.
There are a few manga adaptations of this series, but the one that Yen Press licensed isn’t the usual retelling of the main story. Mahoka Koko no Yutosei is a side story that focuses on Miyuki’s viewpoint and experiences of the events that take place in the main story. This is an interesting choice for Yen Press. Instead of having the two titles compete against each other, the manga and light novel compliment each other, giving two different perspectives of the same events. This can actually be pretty cool. The Gundam Seed Astray manga did this with the main Gundam Seed story and it worked out really well. The manga is at 5 volumes and ongoing. No date was announced for the manga, but it will probably be in October as well. I don’t know if I’ll be picking up either of these titles. I’m not a fan of the “more than sibling love,” but I might check out the manga. If I like it, it might be worth checking out the light novel.
At their panel at Katsucon over Valentine’s Day weekend, Vertical Comics showed readers the manga love with three new licenses; 1 manga and 2 light novel series.
Kizumonogatari is part of the Monogatari light novel series by writer NisiOisin. While Kizu is the third novel in the series, it is a prequel to the first, Bakemonogatari. It tells the story of how protagonist Koyomi was turned into a vampire by the female vampire Shinobu, and his journey to return to being human. I’ve heard about the Monogatari series, but never knew what they were about. With the description of mystery and supernatural, I’m now interested. So far, only this volume of the 18 available so far has been licensed. More will depend on how well this one does. It will ship in November of this year.
Seraph of the End is a series already familiar to manga fans. Viz Media has been releases the manga and running concurrent chapters with Japan in Weekly Shonen Jump. This license from Vertical, Guren Ichinose, Catastrophe at 16, is another prequel to the main story. It follows Guren Ichinose in his early days, before he became a Lieutenant Colonel in the Japanese Imperial Demon Army. There are currently 4 light novels, and Vertical plans to publish them as 2-in-1 omnibus editions. I have to read more of the manga to see if these light novels will hold any interest for me. I wasn’t impressed with the first volume, but the first three volumes made it to the YALSA GGNT list, so I’m going to give the series a second chance. No release date was announced for omnibus editions, but I would expect another end of the year release for it.
Ninja Slayer: Machine of Vengeance is the final license announced by Vertical Comics. It is a manga based on a light novel series originally written by Americans Bradly Bond and Phillip Ninj@ Morzez and translated and published in Japan. This is the first of two manga adaptations published. Ninja Slayer takes place in a dystopian future where ninja souls have been resurrected and now wreak havoc on the city of Neo-Saitama. The story follows Kenji Fujikido, a salary man who lost his wife and daughter to a ninja turf war, and in nearly losing his life, is possessed by an enigmatic ninja soul. Fujikido survives and becomes a Ninja Slayer, destined to kill evil ninja and takes on the Soukai Syndicate. Ninja Slayer sounds like a title fans of sword wielding story like Blade of the Immortal or Crying Freeman would enjoy. It’s not really my cup of tea, so this is one I will pass one. It is scheduled to be released in October.
It’s an interesting selection from Vertical. Light Novel fans have much to rejoice, but they will only see more if they put their money where their mouth is. More titles are promised to be on the way, so here’s hoping there will be more manga announcements this time around.
Before the fall, and before the trials of “the Titan’s son” Kyklo, a young smith by the name of Angel Aaltonen grapples with the giants as only a craftsman could…
Attack on Titan Before the Fall
Created by Hajime Isayama; Written by Ryo Suzukaze; Art by Thores Shibamoto
Publisher: Veritical, Inc.
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Light Novel/Horror
I’m usually hesitant about reading spin-off material of a series that doesn’t involve the characters that made me enjoy a series, but Attack on Titan is different. The world that Isayama created is so big and full of questions that spin-offs and prequels are a must for fans craving more. This novel is one of those must haves. It tells the tale of the creation of the 3-D maneuvering gear used by the Survey Corps, at a time when they were little more than “meals on wheels” to the Titans.
Angel Aaltonen is a craftsman living in Shinganshina District. He has two childhood friends, Maria Carlstedt who is in the Garrison and guards the gate of Wall Maria, and Solm, who is in the Survey Corps. Angel works in a workshop that contracts with the military to make weapons to defend the walls from the Titans, giant creatures that by all appearances are unkillable. Angel wants to create weapons to help the Survey Corps and his friend survive their encounters with the Titans, and maybe even find a way to kill them. Given the new materials Iron Bamboo and Iceburst stone, Angel begins developing an idea, but in order to really find its practical applications, he needs to go on an expedition with the Survey Corps, go beyond the walls and face the greatest terror known to Man.
I really liked Angel. He was passionate about both his work and his beliefs that humans should be trying to find a way to defeat the Titans instead of hiding away behind the walls. His motivations run deeper that just freeing humanity. He wants to help his friend Solm, and protect him the only way he knows how; by giving him the tools to kill Titans. His determination is so great that even after seeing a Titan in action, and how unstoppable they are, he still wants to go on an expedition with the Survey Corps, despite the paralyzing fear the Titans inspire in him. He is a man of conviction, who never stops trying, even when it may cost him his life.
I enjoyed watching Angel’s journey to create new, effective equipment for the Survey Corps. He grows with every obstacle to overcome, and there are plenty. Opposition to the government nearly impedes his trip to the Factory City where they learn of the Iceburst stone and first process the iron bamboo. Forces within the government are also pressuring to end the Survey Corps expeditions. When it’s impossible to kill a Titan, why bother? Despite all this, Angel continues to press on, and finds plenty of help along the way from fellow craftsman Xenophon and his assistant Corina. Solm and Maria are his moral support and part of his motivation to keep trying. It is thanks to his perseverance that the Survey Corps not only get their maneuvering equipment, but also find the Titan’s one weak spot, thus preserving hope for humanity.
There were plenty of good scenes in this volume. Having already read the first volume of the manga for the second part, it was neat to see the Titan attack on Shinganshina from another perspective. Watching Angel start to work out the concept of the Equipment was interesting. Angel’s first attempt using the Equipment was funny, though it quickly became serious as he tried to work how the Survey Corps would use it. As part of the Attack on Titan Universe, Before the Fall is also filled with plenty of gory scenes. Titans shoot half-digested heads over the wall of fallen Survey Corps members. People are flattened to pulps of meat, and brains, guts and body parts are strewed everywhere. While these scenes tend to be few and far between, they still leave an impact. Reader discretion is advised.
Fortunately, the illustrations for this volume chose not to portray any of these scenes. Instead we get illustrations of Angel, some with Solm, Maria and even Xenophon. There isn’t one with a Titan, which I am just fine with. Angel’s visage is much more pleasant to look at. Shibamoto’s art is well done while still feeling like it belongs in the Titan Universe. The adaptation is smooth and reads well in English, but that’s a given with Vertical titles.
I wish this first part of Attack on Titan Before the Fall had gotten a manga adaptation like the other two volumes in the series. Angel’s journey is filled with just as much excitement, action, and danger, and really deserved the same treatment. It makes me doubly glad that Vertical gave us this volume so we can at least read it. If you love Attack on Titan, you owe it to yourself to pick up this volume. It’s an important moment in the world’s history, and one that should not be passed up.
Amazon once again takes the wind out publisher’s sails with some solicitations outing unannounced licenses. This time, Yen Press, who has just recently resolved its issued with the online retailer, had some pre-orders go up for two new manga titles and one light novel. All three new titles are related to existing licenses and just expand on their libraries.
Sword Art Online: Girl Ops just started last year in Dengeki Bunko Magazine and only has one volume out so far. It follows the girls of Sword Art Online: Aincrad in their real life adventures at the SAO Survivor School and their online adventures in ALFheim. This series looks cute, if the cover art is any indication. I liked the manga adaptation of the novel, though I wasn’t enthralled with it. I haven’t checked out the other spin-off, Fairy Dance, but it’s in my to-be-read pile. Sword Art Online has been doing well for Yen Press, so this is a good, if obvious pick up for them. Amazon has it scheduled to be released in May 2015.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Rebellion Story is an adaptation of the movie by the same name and is three volumes. After the end of the TV series/movie recaps, Madoka, Homura, and the rest of the magical girls appear in Mitakihara, fighting creatures called Nightmares. Homura realizes something it wrong, but the truth turns out to be worse than she can imagine. I’ve liked all of the Madoka spin-offs so far. The series is just ripe for alternate universes and spin-offs. This one is based on a scenario by series creator Gen Urobuchi, and isn’t a spin-off but continuation. I hope it connects to the original three-volume series, like the movie does with the TV series. Amazon has the first volume scheduled to be released in June 2015.
Kingdom Hearts is a license rescue that Yen Press has truly embraced. They have licensed all of the manga, releasing many in omnibus editions. Now it adds the 2 volume light novel series, which will also be an omnibus and will be released through their Yen On line. The light novel is an adaptation of the original game, following Sora, Donald and Goofy as they battle the Heartless and Disney Villains as they search for their friends Kairi, Riku, and King Mickey. With this license, all Yen Press has left to complete the Kingdom Hearts print collection is to get the Kingdom Hearts II light novel. I’m sure that won’t be too far off. This volume will be released in March, 2015.
Just this week, Yen Press released the first volume of Durarara!! The Yellow Scarves Arc. This is an adaptation of the third light novel and continues the outrageous story of Mikado, Shizuo, Izaya, Celty, Anri, Kida and more. However, in the October issue of Square Enix’s Monthy G Fantasy magazin that came out in September, it was announced that the manga will end in the November issue out next month. The final chapter will feature a color page, and it looks like the series will be three volumes total.
Seems Yen Press picked the perfect time to pick up this series, as it’s just started. But with their first two volumes coming out in quick succession, there’s no tell when the last volume will be out. I hope it won’t be long. I hope even more that Yen Press will license the Durarara!! light novels soon. This is the last manga adaptation. How will I get my Shizuo fix after this?!
Wow. I thought I was stretching it last week. This week there is hardly any manga being released. Kodansha and Viz Media are about the only companies with anything coming out, and barely any at that. So let’s spotlight some related-but-not-manga titles.
Kodansha releases the first to 2 books about Attack on Titan. Attack on Titan Guidebook: Inside and Outside is a look behind the scenes of the manga and anime. At nearly 400 pages, it features interviews with creator Hajime Isayama, his editor and staff of the anime adaptation, concept art from both the manga and anime, and an exhaustive guide to the characters and world of Attack on Titan. There is even a papercraft kit to make your own Colossal Titan head! This is a must for any Attack on Titan fan.
Vertical, Inc. isn’t just a manga publisher. They also print novels, so it’s of no surprise that their leap onto the Attack on Titan bandwagon was to get the light novel series, Attack on Titan Before the Fall. This first novel is a prequel not only to the Attack on Titan series, but also to the manga of the same name as well. This first novel focuses on a blacksmith named Angel who helps to fight the Titans the only way he know how. If you’re hungry for new Titan material that also expands the world more, this is the title for you.
The one manga was announced on Twitter. Karneval follows the mysterious young boy Nai, who knows nothing but his name and Karoku. With only Karoku’s bracelet from “Circus,” he goes in search of Karoku. He is helped by an older boy Gareki and after an incident, they are recruited by the National Defense Agency Circus. As they travel, searching for Karoku, they meet new people and find new opportunities along the way. A lot of people were excited for this license when it was announced. There was an anime that aired last year, which was streamed and licensed by Funimation. I’m not really seeing anything from the description that excites me, but that’s nothing new. This is a title I will have to wait and see. It is currently 13 volumes and is scheduled for release in March 2015.
Adding to their YenOn imprint is So, I Can’t Play H!, a romantic comedy light novel series. This one follows Ryuosuke Kaga, a high school student who is both a hopeless romantic and hopelessly perverted. One day he meets a beautiful girl in the rain and invites her back to his house. He offers her anything she needs; dry clothes, help changing out them…but the girl, Lisara Restole has other plans. She stabs him in the chest. Lisara is a shinigami, and Ryuosuke has thoughtlessly offered his essence to allow her stay int he world, and the part of his she seems interested in taking is his lecherous side. Yeah, can’t say I’m surprised Yen Press got this series. It fits in perfectly with their other heavy male-gaze titles. Which makes it another title I will let pass by. There are currently 11 volumes of this series out, and Yen Press will release the first one in English in April 2015