Tag Archives: Manga

This Week in Manga 3/13-3/19/10

Hollywood, Here Comes Netcomics!

Netcomics, the Korean publisher that puts all their titles online for a per-chapter fee, is producing a film of their manhwa X Diary.  There’s not much news out yet, other than Variety’s report which includes the names of the writer of the script, one cast member and the producer from Netcomics.  But the news itself isn’t too surprising.  Ever since Hollywood started coming to SDCC, and they’ve found that there’s an audience for comics based books, practically every comic company has been looking to get a title into production.  Though, the premise of X Diary does make it a good candidate.  It’s about a cartoonist and musician who break up as a couple, but try to make it as friends.  It’s a topic that surpasses culture and could very well appeal to non-comic/manhwa readers.  We’ll have to wait and see how production goes.  Lots of titles get started only to stall not far into the process.

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Manga Drive By: Harlequin Manga @ eManga.com

eMangaI’ve never been much of a romance fan, and have never read a Harlequin romance novel in my life.  So, when I was given the opportunity to read some of the Harlequin manga released by DMP on their online manga site eManga, I decided to check some of the titles out.  I read 7 titles in total, that seemed to run the gambit from historical to modern settings, and from chaste fade-to-black love scenes to those slightly more explicit, but not enough to rate a M rating.

Some general observations first.  DMP’s eManga site is very well done.  The navigation is clean and concise, and easy to get around.  The reading list displays all of your titles, including how long your rental will last.  The manga reader is also easy to navigate.  It allows for either one or two page viewing, as well as zoom in and out.  The two page view fit my monitor just fine though, and I could read the text easily without zooming.  My only complaint here was about the bookmark feature.  It didn’t really work.  I tried to use it, but it didn’t remember my page when I came back the next day.  Luckily had written down my last page as well, so I wasn’t too inconvenienced.  It would have been nice though, if it had worked properly.

For the most part, I enjoyed the Harlequin titles.  They all went fairly quickly and make for good light summer reading, such as a relaxing day at the beach. They are very much wish fulfillment, with strong, independent women (in their own way) meeting men that seem jerky at first, but then turn out to be kind and great lovers. They were fun, but they’re not anything I’d be interested in re-reading.  They can get rather formulaic and cliche, which gets boring fast.  The only real problem I had with all of these titles was the text.  It doesn’t appear that much time or effort was put into it.  The text looks like it was typed in, and no effort was made to make the text fit in the word balloons.  You do get used to it after a while, but really, even scanlators do a better job.  For something you’re paying for, you expect a better presentation.

Honor’s PromiseRating: ★★½☆☆ – I liked most of the characters in this story,  especially the protagonist.  She was feisty and fun.  The plot wasn’t too over used, though the Greedy Family Lawyer as the villain was kind of obvious and cliche.  It’s a decent read, and was a pleasant introduction.  Would Trade For.

Keeping Luke’s SecretRating: ★★★½☆ – I really liked this one.  I enjoyed out the protagonist, who is a historian that was asked to write a long awaited biography, stays true to herself, and her work.  She’s not looking for money or fame.  The story ends with a bit of a twist and a fairy tale ending.  Must Buy.

Marriage Under An Italian SunRating: ★★★☆☆ – This one I also enjoyed.  It was a well written story and the setting in an Italian villa was nice.  The story had a nice mature feel to it, as it dealt with different kinds of loss and trying to make the right choices in order to be happy.  It had some nice twists that kept it from becoming predictable.  Must Buy.

Millionaire Husband: Justin’s StoryRating: ★★★½☆ – This was my second favorite story of the seven I read.  I liked the switch up of making a guy the protagonist instead of it being a woman.  I found his portrayal to be realistic considering his past and his slow by steady change to be well done.  Must Buy.

Prisoner of the TowerRating: ★★★★☆ – This was the best of the seven I read.  I love historical dramas, and this fit right into that.  The characters were well developed and very likable.  I found myself rooting Emma on and wanting to slap Baron Greystone.  The art is also a treat.  I highly recommend this title and a full review will be forthcoming.  Must Buy.

Sale of Return BrideRating: ★★☆☆☆ – This was the most cliche of all the stories I read, both in story and in characters.  I was predicting every story element before they happened, and the ending was no surprise.  It wasn’t badly written or anything like that.  It was just predicatable, and that lowered the enjoyment for me.  Good Way to Kill an Hour.

The Sheikh’s Reluctant BrideRating: ★★½☆☆ – This was another average title.  The Middle Eastern setting and situation with the female protagonist was different from the other titles I read, and I did find it refreshing.  Again, the characters are well written and the story isn’t as predictable, but neither is it very interesting.  The old school feel of the art was a nice touch too.  It just wasn’t all that appealing to me.  Good Way to Kill an Hour.

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Lucky Charms

St. Patrick’s Day is a decidedly American holiday that really isn’t celebrated or even mentioned outside of the US.  But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any good manga you can enjoy with your green beer and corn beef and cabbage.  Now, admittedly, some of these titles are a stretch, but in the spirit of good fun, here are some titles you might find in a pot of manga gold.

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Noted Women of Manga

Women creators in manga isn’t as an unusual thing as they are here in the US.  Over here, publishers have special events to show that women can create comics, while in Japan no one even bats an eye at the idea.  With March being Women’s History month, I thought I would highlight some of the women manga creators who have been influential in the medium in Japan and the US.

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Digital Review: Rin-Ne Volume 3

This set of chapters starts out stumbling under the weight of more “been there, done that”, but manages to shake some of it off by the end, leaving a volume of work that is at least palatable.

By Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Supernatural/Comedy
Price: $9.99/Free Online (Chapters 19-28)
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Buy This Book

Chapter 19 starts out with another typical shtick of Takahashi’s; the rival love interest. Every one of her romantic comedies has one, all the way back to Urusei Yatsura, and Tsubasa Jumonji is right out of that boiler plate.  He tries to look cool and in control, but in reality he’s just a bumbling fool.  He’s ineffectual as a exorcist, his soul dust only causing people and spirits to cough, but not get rid of them.  Of course, he fell in love with Sakura when they were children.  Sakura was nice to him after he transferred to her school for a few days, and it was enough that now he’s declaring his love for her, and treating Rinne as his rival.

These chapters also introduce the damashigami.  They are rogue shinigami that take the life of a person who isn’t meant to die to fill their quota.  I found them to be an interesting development.  I prefer there to be some sort of antagonist outside the group rather than the infighting that usually runs through Takahashi’s romantic comedies, or a new random ghost-villain every few chapters.  It’s good to have a reason for all the rivals to come together and fight a common foe rather than each other all the time.

I still get a “meh” feeling about this series.  The introduction of the rival is another typical plot device that feels very tired to me.  Tsubasa just screams Mendo to me so much, it’s not even funny.  However, I did enjoy the stand alone stories in this volume, especially the final one with the “ghost” haunting the art students.  These chapters play out as a nice little mystery, with an ending you might not expect.  The quality of the stand alone stories are improving, and if a plot other than Rinne’s poorness is introduced, it could break up the “ghost of the week” feel the first two volumes had.  It’s enough for me have hope for further improvement of the series as a whole, and to keep reading.

Why Not?

I was reading the comments on this post at Anime Vice.  Most of the debate over justification for scanlations didn’t interest me, as I’ve seen them all before, but one comment did sort of bother me.  Fellow Manga Village reviewer and blogger John Thomas had joined the conversation and made a simple statement.  “Why not just learn to read Japanese?”  It was the response to this that made me go “Huh?”

I have to confess, that is the one answer I loathe seeing in scanlation debates, and it appears every time.

He goes on to give excuses of no time, too expensive, too difficult, etc., which then steers the conversation toward learning Japanese.

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This Week in Manga 2/27-3/5/10

And the Battle Rages On

The debate over scanlations continued this week, coming out of the brouhaha over Nick Simmon’s “homage” (his words) to Bleach.  It grew out of the post by Deb Aoki at Manga.about.com, where comments exploded, with readers of scanlations coming to scans defense, while anti-scans tried to convince them otherwise.  This “debate” led to a post on Anime Vice by a guest writer who tried to defend his reason for reading scans.  More debate continues in the comments there as well.  Watching people’s reactions to the scanlation debate has been interesting to say the least.  It’s like discussing religion, politics, or “dubs vs subs” in the anime community.  There is no real debate going on, because there are two groups with a set of beliefs that they are a prepared to defend to the death it seems.  It’s become a shouting match with both sides making points and counterpoints to each other’s arguments.  So, it becomes like talking to a wall, with neither side gaining ground or able to claim victory.  While it does appear to be a wasted effort, these debates can be useful.  You don’t argue with a fanatic to change their mind, you argue in the hopes that a fence-sitter, or newbie who doesn’t know better will see your arguments and be persuaded by them.  That’s what makes all the frustration and sometimes anger you feel worth it.

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Tech Friday: Japanese E-Mags to come to US

logo_solmareE-books have been in the news a lot lately, what with the iPad, Amazon vs Publishers, and the Nintendo DSi XL all relating to e-books or e-readers in someway.  But none of this news has really had much of an impact on manga readers except to build up hope that we might one days see manga on these platforms.  Well, finally news comes from Japan through mobile manga provider NTT Solmare, that 3 publishers will not only be bringing out manga magazines for mobile devices in Japan, but that they plan to release these for the US as well.

These magazines won’t just be re-releases of previously printed material, as most mobile manga has been.  These will have new titles premiering on the mobile platform.  NTT Solmare has released some mobile manga already, but only on the Apple apps store for iPhone/iTouch users only.  This new inititive intends to reach out to other mobile platforms and to e-readers such as the Kindle.

True Forbidden FairytalesWhat really makes this announcement exciting is some of the creators that are being tapped for the debut.  One of the creators is Sakura Kinoshita.  I love her work even through it hasn’t done so well over here.  She’s only had two titles licensed so far, Mythical Detective Loki Ragnorok and tactics.  Both were licensed by ADV Manga and only had two volumes released before they stopped publishing.  tactics was picked up by Tokyopop, but has been a slow seller.  To get to read a new series from her would be totally awesome!  And the title of one of the proposed magazines, Takeshobo’s Shin Kindan Grimm Dowa (Grimm’s True Forbbiden Fairy Tales) sounds like it will be full of cool titles as well.  I love the Japanese take on fairy tales.

This is an announcement to really look forward to.

The Truth Is Out There…

conspiracy-theoristsYou know you’ve hit it being online when you’re thought to be part of some big conspiracy.  I’ve always wondered about conspiracy theorists.  Why do they feel the need to concoct some big, elaborate theory or have some big shadow corporation controlling everything?  There are people who believe NASA’s trips to the moon were hoaxes (Mythbusters disproved their theories).  And there are people who believe the US government was behind the 911 attacks (yeah, like our government could co-ordinate something so well planned and keep it a secret.)   And now, manga bloggers are in cahoots with publishers to bring down the scanalation community.

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Review: Nightschool: The Weirn Books Volume 1

Schools may lock up the the night, but class is in session for an entirely different set of students.  In the Nightschool, vampires, werewolves, and weirns (a particular breed of witches) learn the fundamentals of everything from calculus to spell casting.  Alex is a young weirn whose education has always been handled through homeschooling, but circumstances seem to be drawing her closer to the Nightschool.  Will Alex manage to weather the dark forces gathering?

Nightschool 1Nightschool: The Weirn Books Volume 1
By Svetlana Chmakova
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Supernatural
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★★★

[May Contain Spoilers]

Mystery, magic, and a little mayhem have always made for a good combination in a story.  Nightschool: The Weirn Books provides all of these elements in a way to make an intriguing world and a great cast of characters to live in it.

The world of Nightschool is one divided between the normal, human world of the day, and the magical, supernatural-filled world of the night.  As is usual for this type of world, the daytime world is unaware of the nighttime world, while the reverse is the opposite.  The Nighttime world is filled with the usual suspects as well.  Vampires, witches, demons and seers all roam the world of this first volume.  But there are some new creatures of the night as well.  Rippers are vampires that have become nothing but shells of their former selves and crave blood for the touch of life it gives.  And of course weirns, a witch with a different kind of familiar.  It’s the latter of these that is the focus of the story.

Alex Treveny is a weirn.  She lives with her older sister Sarah, who works as the Night Keeper at the Nightschool.  Alex, however, is home schooled, for reasons that are left unclear.  She works on her assignments while Sarah is at work with her Astral, a black and white smokey-like creature.  The Astral has no name, and acts like an extension of Alex, but is still an independent character.  She can be like a conscious to Alex, but also easily bribed.  The two work together to accomplish things such as getting Alex over a tall fence, and the Astral seems to be aware of things about Alex that even she herself isn’t.

Because there is something strange about Alex.  A hooded figure seems to be shadowing her.  This is just one of the mysteries this first volume presents.  Along with the shadowy figure come powers that Alex isn’t aware she possesses, and a prophecy of her and others like her bringing down disaster on the world.  There’s also the not just disappearance, but erasure, of her sister, seemingly from existence.  All traces of Sarah disappear both physically as well as from people’s minds, until it’s only Alex that has any memory of her.  Could these two events be tied together?

Part of the strength of Nightschool‘s story is the characters.  Alex is a strong female lead.  She is serious and determined, though for some reason there are attempts to make her seem tough, which I don’t really see as necessary.  Alex stands just fine on her own strengths.  We don’t need other characters tell us that she’s tough on the outside, but really a softie on the inside.  Sarah, Alex’s sister is more of a ditz, but obviously really cares for her.  She adds some humor in this first volume, with her inability to get up, running an anime/manga club at the school, and her encounter with Mr. Roi, one of the teachers.  Hunters, which the Night folk seem to fear, are humans that patrol the night and protect other humans from the Night.  A group of them are introduced as well as a seer, and they become connected to Alex and prophecy in more ways than one.

Nightschool: The Weirn Books is a shining example of what OEL can and should become.  It has a well written story that hooks the reader in right from the beginning and builds on it creating a strong foundation for the series.  The mix of silly and serious moments balance each other out to make an entertaining drama that doesn’t drag or feel overdone.  Svetlana’s art is that perfect style of feeling like manga but definitely being of her own design.  I especially enjoy the look of the Astrals.  They look so completely non-human, and yet are still very expressive. Definitely check this series out.  It’s a keeper.

So You Wanna Read Japanese Manga?

Sanen KimengumiWith a long list of wish lists and license requests, and not too good a prospect on getting a lot of those titles in English for whatever reason (too long, too old, too niche, etc), it makes a manga fan seriously consider learning to read Japanese.  Why go through a middleman when you can go straight to the source?  And Japanese tankoban are cheaper, even with the exchange rate, to buy.  But learning a new language can be intimidating, especially when the letters that look nothing like you’re used to.  Fortunately the internet is filled with resources to help you buy and read your Japanese manga.

One really good resource is Rainbow Hill Language Lab which features entries about Japanese language and culture.  Recently the blog has been featuring several entries about reading manga as an aid to learning Japanese.  One such entry was a list of tools to help you start reading manga.  This list featured both resources that could be found online as well as books and study aids, all with links. He gives resources to the basics of the alphabet, basic grammar and vocabulary and kanji.

If you’re serious about your manga, and don’t want to wait for a license that might never come, then learning to read Japanese is the way to go.  And if you don’t have a lot of time to take a class, this is a good way to start.  I know I’m sorely tempted to pull out the Highschool Kimengumi manga we have and try this out!