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.
This month’s installment of the Shonen Jump drive-by is late because my subscription issue seems to have gone astray in the mail, and had to go buy one. The subscription provider’s answer to a missing issue is always “We’ll extend your subscription by a month.” But of course, that doesn’t help me get the mag! Fortunately, my local Barnes & Noble still had issues, so I could pick it up. The big news for this issue has already been all over the interwebs, but I’ll mention it here too. There will be two new titles added to the magazine. FINALLY! Psyren and Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D will start in the next issue, January 2010. I’ll be fighting to get the issue first now. My youngest daughter has discovered Yu-Gi-Oh! and has already gone through all my old Shonen Jumps. The other big news is that suppliment titles will be put up online for subscribers only to read online. There isn’t any more information on that other than some of the titles will be Bakuman, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan and Toriko. We also don’t know if these will be full series serializations, how long they will be available online, or just extended previews. Next issue will hopefully have more infor about that.
The layout at the beginning has been refined some, as the video games and anime sections are cleaned up a little, and become easier to read. And there’s a handy guide telling you where you can find Shonen Jump anime online. It’s on a quick and easy to read grid, if you like to watch your anime online.
The manga starts out with the final preview chapter of Genkaku Picasso. Sugiura’s problem is solved, and it turned out to be a rather unexpected resolution. The picture of Sugiura’s heart afterword has a lot of hope in it. The picture of his father’s heart was a nice one too. I enjoyed this preview, and this title will go on to my want to read list. I don’t know it it’s a must read, but I enjoyed these chapters enough to want to see how a whole chapter stands up.
Naruto is next with Sasuke bailing with Madara and takes his next step down to total darkness. The plot to get the Eight-tails beast by the Akatsuki, while the Daimyos of the 5 different lands ratify the alliance. With Danzo’s death, the issue of a new Hokage comes up, but proves to be less of an issue than thought. Naruto gets summoned back before the Giant Frog Sage and gains the key to the Fourth Hokage’s seal, allowing him to be able to free the Nine-Tails. Then Kabuto makes his move toward the Akatsuki. These chapters are all about tying up old threads and starting up the new ones for the comimg ninja battle. They feel a lot like moving pieces on a chess board. There’s plenty of information expounded, but not a lot of action. It’s the lull before the storm.
Bleach follows up with Ichigo continuing to get his butt kicked, Pesche and Dondochakka not getting to be as impressive as they could have been (which I consider disappointing), and the a suprise rescue comes in the form of several of the captains to rescue Ichigo and the gang. And of course, the captains are matched up against espadas that match their own talent. Kenpachi takes on Nnoitora, Mayuri against Szayelaporro, and Byuakuya against Zommari. Retsu and her assistant are only there to heal the wounded, friend and foe alike. The chapters in this issue end at 299, so the new year can start with 300 which looks to be another big, blowout fight. It’s a lot of posturing between the Captains and the espadas, as you would expect. I really didn’t care for the way Kubo had Nnoitora “gag” Orihime. It’s too easy to take it the wrong way.
Ultimo finishes up with Yamato returning from the past right back into the fight he just left. He tries to save Iruma again, but it’s all in vain. Musayama takes a hit and Jealosy tries to claim Yamato for being incompetant “the supreme evil”. But he’s stopped by what, or who, is in Yamato’s heart, and the past is set up to repeat itself again. Yamato and Musayama are saved by the Doctor Koun, who is parterned with Pardonner, on of the six perfections. He leaves with Ultimo while two other perfections, Machi and Hiroshi speak with the doctor. I was hoping Ulitmo would get better with the time traveling, and for a moment it almost seemed that it would, but a return to the present sends it back to the same old, same old. I don’t see any hope of this series getting better.
One Piece ends the issue with even more serious fighting. I didn’t think things could get more tense than they already were, but Oda managed to do it. The struggle to reach Ace on the platform continues as White Beard’s pirates seem to be losing to the navy. Ace is about to lose his head when Luffy comes racing in, unintentionally using his Haki, which gives Ace a few more minutes, and gives him the full support of White Beard and his men. He nearly makes it to Ace but is blocked by Garp. It becomes grandfather vs grandson, but Luffy doesn’t stop, and it seems blood is thicker than water. Now it’s a race to free Ace and it becomes a tit-for-tat as everything Luffy tries is countered by the Navy, until Mr. 3 comes to the rescue. Then it’s Fire Fist and Straw Hat against the Navy! I have to say, I was surprised by this outcome, but I didn’t take Luffy’s haki into consideration. I was going by his bute strength, which didn’t seem to be enough. I love that Luffy just continued to earn the respect of the pirates and scorn of the navy, when all he wanted to do was save his brother. This has been some really awesome action, but I think I’m ready for a breather, and I’m sure Luffy is too.
I’m really looking forward to the next issue, with all the changes that have been promised. Yu-Gi-Oh! GX didn’t impress me (but the manga is waaaayyyy better than the anime), so hopefully 5D will be an improvement. And having a sci-fi oriented title in the magazine with Psyren will hopefully shake things up a bit. SJ has been dying on the vine with no new blood for so long. This time when they call the changes an evolution, they can actually mean it.
In the news this week; the November/December Manga Movable Feast begins! Critics become critical of the manga blogging community, but not in a constructive way, more digital news from both sides of the Pacific, news from Japan, podcasts, and the Manga Village Roundup. So make with the click-y…
Apparently, I’m in the minority when it comes to crossing over from manga to anime. Whenever I find out that an anime series I like is based on a manga, I want to search out that manga and visa versa. One place you can be sure to find crossover is in Weekly Shonen Jump. So many titles that appear in there get an anime series, where it’s a short thirteen episode series like Letter Bee, or a never-ending series like One Piece.
The One Piece anime started in 1999, about 2 years after the manga. It has gone non-stop since then and is at about 478 episodes. A complaint a lot of manga fans have about anime adaptations is that it’s not always faithful, and it has a lot of filler. Filler can’t be helped. Weekly anime takes up a lot more chapters than mangaka can put out, so the anime often catchs up to the manga and has to wait. In general, these are short arcs and the show gets back to the manga storyline as soon as it can. As for being faithful, well, for the One Piece anime, it is, mostly, with a few exceptions.
Something I’ve noticed Shonen title directors like to do, is not start the show where the manga does. I’m guessing it has something to do with pulling in an audience fast by jumping into the action first, and then going back and showing the beginnings/origins/etc. I’ve seen it in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Beet the Vandelbuster, and it happens with One Piece as well.
The manga for One Piece starts at the beginning, with Luffy as a little boy living in a sea-side village where “Red-haired” Shanks and his pirate have made a base. It shows how Luffy got the Gum-Gum Devil Fruit and his trademark straw hat. The story then jumps 10 years to a grown Luffy setting out to see to become the Pirate King, and his adventures start there.
The anime takes some liberties with this and changes a few things around in the first couple of episodes. It starts not in the past, but with the second chapter in the present, with Luffy already on his journey to find a crew and become the Pirate King. He doesn’t wash up on the shore of Lady Pirate Alvida, but is picked up at sea. The whole adventure with Luffy and Coby take place on Alvida’s ship, with changes made to accomodate that. Another change the anime makes, is that it introduces Nami to the audience. She is seen sneaking around Alvida’s ship, while everyone is distracted with Luffy and steal their treasure. She and Luffy never meet, and though she sees him, he never sees her. Most of the chapters with Zolo and Captain Morgan stay intact, with the change of seeing Zolo’s past. This too is put off, and instead we finally see Luffy’s back story. The Buggy the Clown arc is kept intact, as is the Black Cat Pirates arc. The single chapter story, “Strange Creatures”, which occurs between the Buggy and Black Cat Pirates arc in the manga, is moved up to after the Black Cat Pirates arc, as is Zolo’s back story.
It’s takes 19 episodes of the anime to tell the chapters in the first four and a half volumes of the manga. While the changes above might make it not worth it to some to see it, I still enjoy seeing the story in motion. A lot of shonen manga like One Piece has a lot of fighting, action and moves that may look good in the manga, but become ten times better in the anime. You can imagine what Luffy’s arm looks like when he’s retracting it after a long punch in the manga, but in the anime you can actually see it happen. And for so many of the awesome moves Oda comes up with, not just for Luffy, but for everyone, that makes the anime so much more fun. The animators of the manga also use the title pages that Oda comes up with that often tell a story in and of themselves, and incorperate them into the filler episodes, so they don’t feel so unnatural, as so many filler arcs can.
And then of course, there are the openings. One Piece has had a lot of great music that does a good job of showing the humor, fun and adventure that’s going to happen in the series. The first opening, We Are! is fun and bouncy. The second opening Believe which takes the show through the Alabasta arc is fast moving with a lot of drive, as are the episodes. Hikari E is just a great song, with visuals to match. Bon Voyage does as good job of showing the friendship theme that runs though the series, and Kokoro no Chizu, which covers the first half of the Water Seven arc is one of the best songs, with the first opening shots depicting the crew’s personalities perfectly. The openings really do a good job of matching the music and animation and really fitting the story arc at the time.
The One Piece anime is available online for free at both Vizanime.com and Funimation, both of which premieres new episodes only an hour or so after broadcast in Japan. I encourage you to check out the anime, even if it isn’t where your interest lies. You will only miss out on some time in your life, but it’s totally worth it.
As a child, Monkey D. Luffy was inspired to become a pirate by listening to the tales of the buccaneer “Red-Haired” Shanks. but hislife changed when luffy accidentally ate the fruit of the Gum-Gum Tree, and gained the power to stretch ike rubber…at the cost of never being able to swim again! Years later, still vowing to become the king of the pirates, Luffy sets out on his adventure…one guy alone in a rowboat, in search of the legendary “One Piece”, said to be the greatest treasure in the world…
What with Thanksgiving being this week, it seems the mangasphere has taken the week off, so it’s going to be a short edition of the news. So we’ve got shopping advice, eating until you explode, OOP and doujinshi digital manga in Japan, podcasts and the Manga Village roundup, all after the bread…err…break.
Thanksgiving is a traditionally US holiday. It’s a harvest festival that has roots in a religious celebrations of family, friends and a bountiful harvest. It has since moved away from those beginnings, and today, Thanksgiving is seen as a time for families to get together, to eat lots of turkey, and to watch football. If you’re not into all of that, but still want the day to have a Thanksgiving feel, here are some manga that can put you into that Turkey-Day mood.
Bread is a staple of most American meals, so no Thanksgiving can be complete without some hot rolls. And of course, there’s the stuffing for the turkey, and the weeks of turkey sandwiches afterwards. So we start with Yakitate! Japan, a battle manga about bread. Kazuma Azuma wants to create the national bread of Japan. The series starts with him going to Tokyo to work at Pantasia, and then follows his exploits with his co-workers. originally, Yakitate!! Japan explains a lot about bread making the baking industry, but as the series goes on, it gets heavily into gags, especially puns, of which the title is included.
There are plenty of dishes to go with the main course at a Thanksgiving dinner. Finding the right combinations for a family isn’t easy. In the world of Hunter x Hunter, Hunters are people who specialize in finding rare and/or difficult things. One such Hunter is the Gourmet Hunter, who specializes in rare ingredients to create a special meal. Gon, the protagonist of this title, as part of his Hunter exam, must satisfy two Gourmet Hunters in order to move on. This turns out to not be easy, as they are very picky, but Gon and his friends to finally succeed. This part of the exam can be found in Volume 2
The main course, is of course, the turkey, whether it’s roasted or fried, or however else you like to cook your turkey, no Thanksgiving can really be complete with that golden bird on the table. Toriko is another title that goes for the meat. Toriko is a Gourmet Hunter in the same vein as Hunter x Hunter. In his world, gourmet food is all the rage, and hunting the best and most rare beasts is left to Hunter like him. Toriko himself is also after the ultimate dinner course with only the best of the best ingredients making it up. Komatsu, a timid chef joins Toriko in his hunts and search for perfect ingredients. This title is very over-the-top, with lots of time spent eating, sometimes leaving the characters in an overstuffed stupor, also a common occurrence at Thanksgiving.
If you’re not into the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, there are other options. Oishinbo is about Shiro Yamaoka’s search for the ultimate menu for the 100th anniversary of Tozai News newspaper. In the a la carte series Viz released, you can enjoy Japanese Cuisine, Fish, Shrimp and Sashimi, Ramen, Rice and even Saki. There lots of different dishes in each volume, and the stories present them in a way that makes learning about the food and it’s preparation interesting. Yamaoka is a great character to follow, though the battles with his father can be a little tedious, the dishes they feature more than make up for it.
For dessert, check out my Themed Manga post Trick or Treat and scroll down to check out titles Antique Bakery and Kitchen Princess, both of which feature lots of pies and cakes to finish off your Thanksgiving feast.
Now that you’ve stuffed yourself and are in a Turkey coma, it’s time to move on to the other Thanksgiving tradition; football. There’s only one manga that can satisfy this need; Eyeshield 21. It’s about Sena Kobayakawa, who after entering Diemon Private Senior High School, is spotted by the captain of the American Football team, Yoichi Himura. He isn’t big or power, but he is fast and agile, skills that land him as the teams running back. Because Yoichi is afraid some other team might try to recruit him away, he has Sena wear a helmet with a green-tinted eyeshield, so no one will be able to see his face. The Diemon team then goes on to face several different school teams as they struggle to go to the Spring and then Fall tournaments. The teams are a little wacky, with plays that sound more like shonen attacks, but the series is a lot of fun, and if you keep from taking the sport too seriously, you will really enjoy this title.
So, whether you enjoy Thanksgiving for the food and family, or are just spending a quiet night at home, this list will hopefully get you through the day.
After Moritaka and Akito collaborate on a manga together, they venture to publishing house Shueisha in hopes of capturing an editor’s interest. As much potential as these two rookies have, will their story impress the pros and actually get printed?
Story by Tsugumi Ohba; Art by Takeshi Obata
Publsiher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
The boys have their first final draft down and meet with an editor from Weekly Jump. Hattori is impressed with potential and encourage them to bring their work to him. They submit for the next Tezuka award, and make it to the final eight but aren’t chosen for an award. They are still encouraged to go ahead and try to get a one-shot in Akamasu Jump, a quarterly special magazine. In the meantime, they have graduated middle school and applied and started high school. Moritaka and Miho have started talking, first through notes in class and then through email. Akito has gained a girlfriend too, Miho’s friend Mayashi.
I liked this volume better than the first one. It focuses on the process of getting a manga into a publisher and much of the hierarchy of the Weekly Jump offices. In their talks with Hattori, Moritaka and Akito learn how stories are chosen for the monthly contests, what publishers and judges look for in the Tezuka contest, and the biggest hurdle of all, placing in the reader survey. I found all of this information fascinating. Watching the boys process the information and adjust accordingly in the manga creation really drew me in. I really liked Hattori, the editor at Jump who talks to the boys. He is very grounded and straight-forward with them. He doesn’t pull punches with either his criticism of their work, or their chances. He wants to take them on a slow and steady course while they boys are looking for fast and furious. This will no doubt lead to difficulties later.
This volume also finally introduces Eiji Nizuma, the “once-in-a-decade” genius manga creator. He is not what I expected. He is shown always drawing manga, as if he can’t stop. He has a very juvenile attitude, calling out sound effects as he draws. His condition for coming to Tokyo to start a weekly series, is to have the ability to cancel any series he personally doesn’t like. I found him dislikable from the beginning, and hard to believe he could create anything really great. Entertaining yes, since he seems to have the same mentality (or lower) as his audience, but nothing that could reach beyond it. He is obviously being set up at Moritaka’s and Akito’s rival, so he is probably not meant to be liked, but I don’t think I would like him even if he wasn’t.
There was no blatant anti-woman message in this volume, though there was one scene that is borderline, if you think about it. After Akito is suspended for fighting, Iwase and Miyoshi come to visit him. The “smart” girl, Iwase, is portrayed as the more unreasonable of the two. She assumed after shaking hands with Akito in their freshman year that they were going out (a stupid assumption since they never interacted). She has the “normal” person reaction of telling Akito he was making a mistake by trying to become a manga creator and that he will regret the choice. So, what was the point of this scene except to show how “dumb” (by Akito’s standards) Iwase was. At least it was short and more subtle this time.
Overall, this volume was an improvement over the last. I really liked all the Weekly Jump references that were seen all over the book, especially in the Jump offices. There are posters all over featuring Jump titles, and even the cover has Akito holding Naruto, One Piece and Bleach volumes, all very clear what series they are. I’m actually looking forward to the next volume, to see if the boys can come up with a more Shonen Jump character and story and really get on their road to serialization.
It’s been awfully slow in the news department lately. Maybe everyone is busy with holiday preparations. But fear not! All is not lost as the news this week features unexpected licenses as well as confirmations of some found in the wild. Half confirmations of rumors, and trying to reach out to the casual manga fan join regular features of best sellers, podcasts and roundups.
So what’s a girl to do with the power of an immortal god? it’s a tough decision, especially with the fate of Ouri’s homeland at stake. She and Father Olivier are going to fight an ancient battle all over again. And if they win? It just might mean that everyone–from the gods all the way down to Olivier himself– will find what they’ve been searching for. If they don’t… well, one way of the other, their journey is coming to a spectactular conclusion.
by Yun Kouga
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen+
Buy This Book
It’s been a while since I read a volume that was a total let down, especially with being the final volume, but Gestalt managed to do just that. With the world doomed to end and powerful gods descending to earth to battle it out over said doom, you’d expect more exciting fight scene, and really, just more fighting! Instead we are treated to a lot of selfish talk and inward reflections, and a instead of ending with a bang, the titles goes out in a whimper.
Ouri, Olivier and friends have reached Gestalt, the island where the great beast is said to lay. It is also Ouri’s homeland. He goes in search of his father to tell him he has the great beast inside him, and has for years. But, it seems Ouri was mistaken, as his father informs him, and reveals to him the truth. Meanwhile, everyone else is fighting a seemingly resurrected Father Messiah. Black Olivier is in charge, while Olivier is buried deal in his subconscious, facing the truth of his past and coming to accept Father Messiah’s death. Everyone tries to fight Messiah and fails until Ouri arrives, in sexy underwear to save the day. True identities are revealed, and the world is saved. Yup. Pretty much just like that.
I was really hoping for more from this final volume. But all anyone does in this supposed action-fantasy is talk. The battle scene that takes up about half of the volume is mostly Olivier, as either himself or Black Olivier talking to Messiah, telling him he’s going to stop him. There is some magic thrown around that stops Shazan, but the most exciting part of the battle is when Ouri’s father joys the fray and gets thrown across the room and makes an imprint in the wall. And the final confrontation between Gestalt and Salsaroa? Non-existent. Well, that’s not completely true. They do confront one another, but the best Salsaroa can manage is to threaten the body he inhabits, which is already did. And then poof, they’re gone. And no one cared. It was just “huh, they’re gone,” and move on to the end. I couldn’t believe this seemingly big build up to the confrontation would just go **poof**.
The characters that I had liked in volume 6 weren’t so great in this volume. Ouri showed himself to be selfish and self-centered, something that I probably would have gotten if I had read the series from the beginning, but seeing it now, when the end of the world is nigh doesn’t work so well for me. It was probably completely in character for his whole problem with letting Gelstalt in was that he didn’t want to lose himself, and he still had things he wanted to do. Well, if the world ends, you won’t get to do those things anyway. And it went on for pages, his whining like a kid. Any of the good I saw in volume 6 was sucked out in this one.
The ending of Gestalt seems to at least be consistent with the rest of the series. The scene cuts are badly done, especially with the fight scenes. If Kouga didn’t want to draw fights, she shouldn’t have done a fantasy series with a lot of confrontations. It seems every time she has a fight, she flashes over to some else for a while, and then returns to the fight, mostly at the pauses in the action. I can’t really see anyone other than fans of Kouga really enjoying this title. I think the initial premise was good, but the execution was not.
Ah, Pocky, that tasty treat, the preferred snack of otaku everywhere! November 11th, or 11-11 is Pocky Day! Can you guess why? This “holiday” was started in South Korea, with their version of pocky, Pepero, where it is similar to Valentine’s Day. Pocky Day hasn’t taken off in Japan like Pepero has in Korea. I heard about it from the SciGuys podcast. I like the idea, so here are some manga titles that give a heads up to that biscuit cookie dipped in chocolate (or an assortment of other flavors), Pocky!
There are a lot of manga titles where characters are seen nomming on a stick of pocky. Card Captor Sakura, Gravitation, Tramps Like Us (Kimi Wa Pet), Harlem Beat, Nodame Cantabile and The Wallflower (Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge) all feature scenes of characters loving their pocky! But here are five titles I’d like to focus on where pocky gets more of a spotlight.
Onegai Teacher – This was originally an anime that was adapted to a manga and light novel series. Mizuho is half-alien, half-human. She has been sent to Earth by the Federation to watch over it and keep humans from making the same mistakes. Mizuho is seen eating pocky a lot. Her father died when she was young, and her only memory of him is related to a pocky box, so she eats pocky to be reminded of him. There are two volumes of this manga available, that were published by the now-defunt ComicOne, but you can probably find copies on trading sites or at used bookstores.
Zatch Bell (Kojiki no Gash) – In this shonen battle manga, every 1000 years, 100 Mamodo come to Earth to battle out for the title of King of the Mamodo. To do battle, Mamodo need a human partner to read the spells they use. Zatch Bell is one such Mamodo, and is the hero of the series, with his human partner Kiyo Takamine. Volcan 300 is Zatch’s cardboard toy robot friend, made out of an empty box of pocky and some disposible chopsticks. There have been several versions of the Volcan 300, but you’ve got to empty though boxes first, before you can make a new one! Viz Media released 25 of the 33 volumes of Zatch Bell before discontinuing the series.
Dramacon – This is a 3 volume OEL series created by Sveltana Chmakova. The series is about fledgling writer Christie Leroux and her first experiences at a big anime convention. In this series, we see pocky used as comfort food. Christie celebrates being at the con by buying lots of pocky, as well as drowns her sorrows by buying lots of pocky. This is the best, and probably most realistic portrayal of the use of pocky by most anime and manga fans in the US. Dramacon was released by Tokyopop and is among the few celebrated titles of OEL manga. You can get the whole series in one omnibus volume.
Lucky Star – This title is a 4-koma, or 4 panel series, much like the comic strips in American newspapers. It follows 4 Japanese girls as they go through high school. There is no real ongoing plot and the strips are mostly about the girls daily lives. The leader of the group is Konata Izumi, a smart and athletic girl, but who would rather play video games and read manga than study or compete. But for this article, we want to look at Kagami Hiiragi, the older of the Hiiragi fraternal twins. Like Konata, Kagami likes to play video games, and she reads light novels. She also indulges in that more favorite to Otaku treats, pocky! She can often be seen munching on pocky sticks. Lucky Star has eight volumes, and is being released by Bandai Entertainment.
Vampire Knight – When I asked for suggestions on Twitter for titles with Pocky in it, this series kept coming up, so I’ll include it. Vampire Knight is about Yuki Cross, the adopted daughter of the Headmaster of Cross Academy and her run-ins/relationships with the Night Class, a special class for Vampires to learn how to co-exist with humans. Shiki Senri is a member of the Night Class and is apparently “Pocky mad”. He is seen eating it several times throughout the manga. Vampires eating pocky. I wonder, does he stick the pocky in his mouth and pretends he has reaaalllllyyyy long fangs? Just kidding. Viz Media releases Vampire Knight and there are currently 10 volumes out. Thanks to @ShroudDancer, @aicnanime, @girlg33k_Kris and @PhoenixTerran for their suggestions and help!
These are just a few examples of pocky in manga. For more, and/or to find pocky in anime, check out these sites, which were I also used for several references:
Know of a series with scene I missed? Leave a comment about it!
The previews that have been running in Shonen Jump have been intriguing. At least there aren’t any moe girls in this art title. Find out more after the break.