In Edo period Japan, a strange new disease called the Redface Pox has begun to prey on the country’s men. Within eighty years of the first outbreak, the male population has fallen by seventy-five percent. Women have taken on all the roles traditionally granted to men, even that of the shogun. The men, precious providers of life, are carefully protected. And the most beautiful of the men are sent to serve in the shogun’s Inner Chamber…
For some, high school represents the best days of their lives. For others, they would rather bury the memories in the deepest, darkest corner of their minds. For Harutaro Hanazono, the ball is still up in the air. Forced to enroll one month late after recovering from a serious illness, Harutaro does his best to remain optimistic about the whole situation. The other students try to make Haru feel welcome – especially his chubby, loveable pal, Shota – but Kai Majima, president of the manga club and all-around hard case, seems intent on making Harutaro’s high school life a living nightmare. Join Harutaro as he makes new friends, learns to draw mang and discovers surprising facts about his “kinda gay” teacher!
While I enjoyed my first Yoshinaga series, Antique Bakery, I wasn’t wowed by it like I expected to be. Yoshinaga has gotten a lot of praise from the mangasphere, but I just didn’t see it in Antique Bakery. But I’m always willing to give a creator another try, and with Yoshinaga’s series Flower of Life, I’m really glad I did. This 4 volume series is filled with quirky characters, funny and dramatic scenes, and a story that offers a portrayal of high school life that feels real.
Flower of Life revolves around Harutaro Hanazono. He has just recovered from leukemia, after getting a bone marrow transplant, and is starting high school late. He is an honest and forthright person, sometimes too much so for his classmates, as when in his introduction to the class, he tells them about his illness. He is friendly and in general easy to get along with. He is also rather possessive of his first friend, Shota Mikuni. Shota is quiet and shy when he first meets Harutaro, but through their friendship he starts to be more assertive. Kai Majima, who is also Shota’s friend is a full-blown otaku who doesn’t get along with people very well, and is always looking to turn any situation to his advantage. He is oblivious to other people or their concerns, and really not a likable character for the entire series.
In contrast, Harutaro’s family and classmates are quirky and fun. His older sister Sakura, is a bit of a shut-in, living at home and doing all the domestic chores. She loves to cook and bake, and has a thing for khaki clothes. His father works two jobs, his main one being as a chicken sexer. He looks tough but is really just a big softy. His mother is also a chicken sexer who is working overseas teaching her craft. As a family, they care for each other, but also bicker like the dickens! And it’s Mom who wears the pants in the family. At school, Sumiko Takeda becomes part of Harutaro’s circle of friends despite not being his class, when she is outed when Majima learns she likes to draw manga. She seems timid at first, but turns out to be more than a match for Majima. Tsuki is one of Harutaro’s male friends who likes to party and has a crush on Sakura. Harutaro’s teacher, Shigeru Saito, is just a bundle of issues, much like the students. Yoshinaga did a great job with Shigeru, keeping the character’s sex ambiguous all the way through the series, even after it’s revealed.
All these characters would be wasted without a great story, and that’s where this series really shines. Since it’s a slice of life, it doesn’t have a plot like you would normally think a story would have. Instead, every chapter is a glimpse into the life of Hartaro and his friends as they go through their first year of high school. I have to say, this is the best slice of life series I have ever read. Yoshinaga does a great job of capturing both the good and the bad moments of high school life, as well as showing all the teenage insecurities. The characters and situations she creates feel real, and that makes them all the more interesting. Even tired clichés, like the Cultural Festival become interesting and fun in her hands. It doesn’t matter if it’s humor or drama, she portrays them both with the playfulness or power needed to make the right impact without falling into the trap of silly or melodramatic.
It was such a pleasure to read this series. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. The ending was just right as well. I felt satisfied at the end. While I enjoyed all of the characters, I didn’t feel I had to have more. The four volumes felt just right (not that I wouldn’t read more if given the chance). Even in this school life series, Yoshinaga’s love of food still comes through in the characters of Sakura and Isonashi, one of Harutaro’s classmates. There is even a bonus chapter about how to make one of the breads featured in a chapter!
Flower of Life is a series I not only high recommend to manga readers, but I think the casual comic reader would enjoy it as well. The realistic characters and story and lack of manga tropes should make it more appealing to a casual reader. Yoshinaga does have some funny faces, but these are used in obviously comic moments and enhance the effect rather than distract from it. If you get the chance to read this series, do not pass it up.
Odette is an android created by the young talented scientist Dr. Yoshizawa. Wanting to find the ultimate difference between humans and his android, Odette decides to persuade Dr. Yoshizawa to enroll her in a local high school. Follow Odette’s adventures as she ventures through high school, in search of the true meaning of being a human.
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.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcpQMgNXfJ0
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…
In this week’s news: September’s Movable Manga Feast, digital manga vs print, Twitter on AX, Del Rey’s future, manhwa, banned books week, New York Times best sellers, podcasts, and the Manga Village roundup.
Things are heating up in both worlds! Determined to prove himself a guy, Mashiro goes the distance to win Kureha. But will the new power of their bond survive the most shocking revelation so far – the true identity of the malevolent knight?
Manga Movable Feast: Kid’s Table
This month’s Manga Movable Feast started this week and doesn’t feature just one title. It’s actually about all all ages titles, with Yotsuba&! as the focus, as well as another all ages title mainly just so the pun “Yotsuba & …” could be used. Thank Ed Sizemore of the Manga Worth Reading blog for that. It’s being hosted this time at the Good Comics For Kids blog, which specializes in news, reviews, articles and interviews about and with the people who make manga and comics for kids 16 and under. The introduction article is here, and the archive is here. Interestingly, a lot of the reviews and articles are about how Yotsuba&! isn’t really a kid’s title. I myself didn’t see it appealing much to a kid, but I think that’s because the appeal I found in it was the way it reminded me of my kids at that age. But if kids are anything, they are surprising. Check out the links for reviews of Yotsuba&! and other all ages manga.
Rolling Out Online Manga
Deb Aoki of About.Manga.com spoke with Crunchyroll CEO Kun Gao to get the low down on Cruchyroll’s announcement of capital from Japanese cell phone publisher Bitway. What he had to say won’t get fans hopes up too high for a “Crunchyroll for manga”. Cruchyroll is working with Bitway in a technology role, not publisher, so don’t expect to see Bleach or Naruto manga on the anime streaming site. One thing that would be nice to come out of this move though would be uniform platform for reading manga. Right now, everyone who is hosting manga legitimately is using different systems and different readers that can be platform specific. And in this world where the web is the platform, being told your Mac or Windows Mobile phone won’t work will make a lot of manga readers unhappy. Theses different platforms can also make reading online frustrating. After weeks of seemless reading on eManga, the load times on Viz’s SigIkki were downright agonizing. I could only read three chapters where I can usually read twice that on eManga. It made reading a title I enjoy downright painful, and that’s not what digital manga should be about.
One Piece takes 4 week break; Oda takes 1
It was recently announced that One Piece will be taking a 4 week hiatus from Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. There’s no reason given, but considering Oda has only taken occassional 1 week breaks over the life of the title, which started in the same year my 13-year-old daughter was born, I think he’s entitled to a month off. He’s certainly not like mangaka Yoshihiro Togashi who works for maybe 4 weeks and then takes years off. But, apparently, Oda is a workaholic. After only one week, he’s back to work according to this tweet. If anyone has a link or can do a direct translation, it would be greatly appreciated. I’ve just started working on colors in Japanese. Maybe he’s just really excited to get some great stuff to us readers.
Is It A Curse?
The Harveys, the comic world version of the Academy Awards were announced at the Baltimore Comic Con. The category of Best American of Foreign Material was heavy once again with Naoki Urasawa manga, but was denied again as the award went to The Art of Osamu Tezuka by Helen McCarthy. The book, an overview of the life and work of Osamu Tezuka, is the most complete available in english. It’s a must have for any fan of Tezuka, or anyone interested in the history of manga. But Urawasa, who had two titles nominated this year, one co-incidentally based on an Osaum Tezuka story, was just shut out. This seems to be a disturbing pattern with Urasawa and American awards. By the rules of chance, he’s got to win eventually? Right?
NYT Best Seller List
It’s a twister Auntie Em! The best seller list for manga gets mixed up but not a lot of change. Starting on the hardback list, Twilight has dug into #6 and seems determined to stay there. Over on the manga list, Maximum Ride vol 3 holds on to the #1 spot. Naruto vol 48 makes it’s move back up to #2 and Rosario + Vampire: Season II vol 2 and Black Bird vol 5 keep up their buddy system by taking #3 and #4. Bakuman vol 1 moves up to take over #5 while the only new comer to the list, Chi’s Sweet Home vol 2 debuts at #6. Yeah for kitties! Negima! Magister Negi Magi vol 27 falls back two to #7 while D.Gray-man vol 18 holds on to #8. Spots #9 and #10 remain the same as well with Vampire Knight vol 10 and Black Butler vol 2 holding on.
NYT: Second Opinion
We’ve got two second opinions now! First if from Matt Blind at Rocketbomber:
1. Maximum Ride 3
2. Naruto 48
3. Rosario+Vampire Season II 2
4. Black Bird 5
5. Bleach Color Bleach+: The Official Bootleg
6. Negima! 27
7. Fullmetal Alchemist 23
8. Vampire Knight 10
9. Ouran High School Host Club 14
10. Maximum Ride 1
The top four still hold true between Matt’s and the NYT’s. Matt keeps Fullmetal Alchemist around and adds Ouran High School Host Club. Now Mangacast has posted the Book Scan numbers for this same week, and that give us:
- Maximum Ride vol 3
- Naruto vol 48
- Pokemon: Diamond & Pearl vol 7
- Rosario+Vampire II vol 3
- Black Bird vol 5
- BakuMan. vol 1
- Negima! vol 27
- Fullmetal Alchemist vol 23
- Black Butler vol 1
- Black Butler vol 2
The Book Scan list has more in common with the NYT list than the Amazon/B&N numbers, it only agrees with the top two spots, and it adds Pokemon: Diamond and Pearl to the mix. The interesting thing about seeing all three of these lists now is that you can be pretty sure about the top two titles, as well as the top five titles if not order. The differences are small, usually only by a title or two. I think that’s fairly significant.
Manga For Your Ears
Sesho’s Anime and Manga Reviews
This Week At Manga Village
What I’m Reading
- I Am A Turtle ch 2-3
- Children of the Sea ch 26-30
- House of Five Leaves ch 5-7
The Ranch wasn’t fun, hun? But maybe festivals will be less funner?! (Yotsuba’s playing opposites, ha-ha!) Yotsuba got uninvited to Fuuka’s School for a culr…a clart…a cultural festival! And she didn’t promise Yotsuba there wouldn’t be CAKE! Yotsuba doesn’t want a cake as biiiiiig as Jumbo, nope!! You won’t either, now would you?!
Yotsuba&! Volume 8
By Kiyohiko Azuma
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Ratting: All Ages
Genre: Slice of Life
Buy This Book
Yotsuba&! is another title that gets a lot of praise from manga bloggers. It follows the everyday adventures of adopted 5-year old girl Yotsuba. In this volume we see Yotsuba go to a school cultural festive, help pull a shrine for the town’s festival, get blown away in a typhoon, see a man’s bare backside, and pick up acorns.
The appeal of Yotsuba&! is in its main character. Yotsuba is cute. She acts just like a real 5-year old. Many of the things she said and did reminded me of my youngest daughter. I could not only see a lot of her in Yotsuba, but I could see her doing the same things! This volume had some good laughs. Some of them, such as Yotsuba seeing a man’s bare backside at the festival are funny because they are so true. A kid her age would act exactly like she does. Other moments are funny because you could see them happening even if they might not be possible, such as Yotsuba being blown away as she tries to walk from the neighbor’s house back home during a typhoon. Yotsuba has a good supporting cast of friends and neighbors, whose job is to react to Yotsuba being cute, one they seem to take to heart. The chapter at the cultural festival has Fuuka spending most of it trying to meet Yotsuba’s overblown expectations of cake.
Overall, I liked Yotsuba&! but I was not blown away by it. It had its moments that made me smile, but this title feels more like a “borrow” than a “keeper” . There is nothing objectionable in its content, and kids will no doubt find Yotsuba’s antics funny and may even relate to her on some level. Adults though will probably find more to enjoy in this series. It’s slow paced, with no actual plot. It’s just moments sliced out from the life of Yotsuba and people around her, so you could pick up any number volume and still enjoy reading it. I found I liked it more for the way it reminded me of my daughter at that age than anything else. Parents can reminisce about what their kids were like while adults without kids of their own can live vicariously through Yotsuba’s adventures. Yotsuba&! was written for an older audience, and in the end I think that’s who will take more from it.
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
By Akira Himekawa
Publisher: Viz Media – vizkids
Age Rating: All Ages
Genre: Video Game
Buy This Book
Link’s friend Tetra is taken prisoner by a ghost ship, and Link falls overboard when he tries to save her. When he wakes up, he finds himself embarked on another fantastic quest! The discovery of the Phantom Hourglass sets Link on a journey to rescue Tetra, find the Sand of Hours and break the curse of the Temple of the Ocean King. Come aboard with Link for an amazing adventure on the high seas!
This title, like all the titles in this series are based on the video games of the same name, and features the more cartoon-ish version of Link that had gamers in an uproar about when the designs were first released. The Legend of Zelda games are action/adventure games that first started on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The Player controls Link as he goes on quests and fights monsters in order to save the Princess Zelda. The story of the volumes adapts the plot of the game Phantom Hourglass that was releases for the Nintendo DS.
Phantom Hourglass was a lot of fun to read. Being based on a video game, it has a simple premise. Link must fight the monsters, free the Spirits trapped in them and collect the Sand of Hours. Himekawa does a good job of adapting this into a fun adventure on the high seas while actually incorporating some of the gameplay into the story, such as when Link is in the Temple of the Ocean King, and his life is being drained away. Just like the player would have to, Link figures out that he has to stay on the purple spaces on the floor to get through. I thought these elements really added to the story and paid a nice homage to the original source.
The characters really give the story life. Link is your typical hero character, charging off into danger to fight any and all who get in his way. He’s portrayed as earnest and always willing to help anyone in trouble. Tetra is the damsel in distress, who like Link, dives headlong into danger, which is what makes her need saving. Linebeck is the anti-hero who helps out Link in order to get the treasure that’s supposed to be on the Ghost Ship, but by the end is changed into a more heroic character because of Link’s influence.
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is written to appeal to kids 12 and under. The art is simplistic, but cute, giving it appeal to younger readers. Link is seen fighting monsters, which are turned into sand when defeated, and there is a scene with zombies, but there’s nothing really objectionable or scary in the volume. This is a great title for kids, and for any fan of the Legend of Zelda video games, young or old.
San Diego Comic Con Con’t
San Diego Comic Con wrap-up dominated the news this week. But this shouldn’t be too surprising considering the size and breath of the con. Friday night ended with the Eisners, where manga may have had great representation in nominations, but in the end, it was only Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life that was able to take away anything, and saw Naoki Urasawa shut out once again. A Drifting Life won for Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia as well as Best Reality-Based Work. While I’m happy for Tatsumi and Drawn And Quarterly for their win, I think Pluto deserved more recognition than it got, and the Eisners need to look beyond tradition comic publishers for good titles.
Saturday brought the Tokyopop and Viz Media: Shonen Jump panels, the only other two publishers to have panels at SDCC. Tokyopop’s panel was filled with lots of announcements, including a new title from Min-Woo Hyung, the creator of the Priest manhwa, called Ghostface. They will be making more of their titles available digitally, including through Zinio and Overdrive. They announced three new licenses, Sakura no Ichiban, Pavane for a Dead Girl and Mr. Clean: Fully Equipped as well as providing more information on other titles previously announced/discovered. It’s good to see Tokyopop getting back into the swing of things, and I have to say I’m interested in all the new Yuna Kagesaki material. I really enjoyed Chibi Vampire.
The Viz Media: Shonen Jump panel didn’t have any new licenses to announce, which quick frankly surprised me. I was sure there would be an announcement for Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan. Maybe they’re saving it for NYCC. Most of the panel seemed to be about SJ branding and tie-in products which is disappointing to me. I want SJ to be more than just a marketing tool for things OTHER than manga. There are supposedly changes coming to the magazine, but none of them sound all that great. I don’t need more information on anime tie-ins. New, better manga would be nice. The panel also covered already announced titles, and announced a new omnibus edition of Death Note. Hiroyuki Takei, creator of Shaman King and Ultimo, made a surprise appearance. No Stan Lee at the panel. I’m disappointed in the SJ panel, but that isn’t really any surprise. I have been excited by an SJ panel since the first one. The mag just isn’t exciting to read anymore. It’s probably because I’m not their core audience.
Another license announcement to come out of the con, though they had no panel was from Drawn & Quarterly. They announced two titles from Shigeru Mizuki, the creator of GeGeGe no Kitaro. Onward Toward Our Noble Deaths is a semi-autobiographical story of the final days of World War II, and NonNonBa is about a young boy being introduced to the world of Japanese folklore by an old neighbor woman. Considering one of their license choices took an Eisner as well as getting a lot of acclaim, these are probably titles to watch out for.
The only other panel of interest in manga fans was the Comics and Digital Piracy on Sunday. The panel included prominent manga bloggers Deb Aoki and Jake Forbes. They discussed the problems of piracy and how it affects both comics and manga as well as digital manga in general. The Q & A brought up many of the same arguments we’ve been hearing from scanlators. The panel is interesting if you haven’t been following all the piracy posts lately, which considering the SDCC audience, probably don’t, so it’s good to see these things being talked about in another open forum.
After the con is over and everyone has recovered, that’s when the individual reports start going up. Deb Aoki of Manga.About has reports from Preview Night, Thursday, specifics of the Viz Kids panel and a roundup of manga at SDCC (so far). Also at the con looking at kid’s books was Eva Volin for the Good Comics For Kids blog. Anime Diet had a man on the floor that live blogged the Best/Worst Manga, Yen Press and Tokyopop panels. Daniella of All About Manga writes up about her first two days, and Heidi MacDonald of The Beat has her own coverage of the Piracy panel. Keep watching for more about people find time to write and upload their thoughts and reactions.
While not strickly manga, but manga-related, is the Scott Pilgrim series. The Monday before SDCC, the final volume in the series was released, and at SDCC, there was heavy promotion for the movie. Now you can go to the movie, which will be released August13 with this contest being sponsored by Daniella of the All About Manga blog. Just tell her your favorite scene from the comic for a chance to win one of three t-shirts from the Mighty Fine t-shirt company. Run, don’t walk to the nearest computer and enter now! (Ad sponsored by Doctor Who SDCC 2010 con exclusive toy and Viz bag. Thank you Daniella! Again!)
Manga Movable Feast: Kissing Up to Paradise
Just as SDCC ended the Manga Movable Feast for July started up. Held this week at the Soliloqy in Blue blog run by Michelle Smith, this month’s title was Ai Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss. You’ll find the introduction to the series here, and an archive of all the links here. This seems to have been a slower Feast than some of the past ones, though it’s hard to tell if it’s because of the material (Paradise Kiss is out of print and not as easy to get a hold of) or because it’s coming on the heels of such a big event as SDCC. But there are still two days left, so keep watching for more entries and for the announcement of the next Feast.
NYT Best Seller List
The list for this week starts out as a truly dark day. Twilight: The Graphic Novel has been pushed not just from its top spot, but from the top 5 all the way down to #9 by mostly Green Lantern: Blackest Night tie-ins. What will Team Jacob and Team Edward do? Happier news awaits on the manga list as Fullmetal Alchemist, one of the best reads out there, debuts and takes the #1 spot with vol 23, pushing Naruto vol 48 back to #2. Ouran High School Host Club vol 14 subsequently falls back to #3 with pal Vampire Knight vol 10 at #4. Alice in the Country of Hearts vol 1 returns to the chart at #5 with the only survivor of CMX (which really doesn’t count as far as I’m concerned, since they were forced into the imprint and not really made for it) Megatokyo vol 6 at #6. The 8th volume of the VizBig edition of Vagabond debuts at #7 while Naruto vol 47 returns again to #8. The VizBig edition of Dragonball Z vol 8 debuts at #9 and Yu-Gi-Oh! R vol 5 ends the list at #10 and the series as well. This is an odd list indeed. The appearance of the VizBig editions are unusual in and of themselves, but to have two at the same time? That’s really weird! Some of the returning titles are odd too, though nothing is more odd that then complete disappearance of Black Butler, a staple to the list for so long. Can this be a sign of the apocalypse?
NTY Best Sellers: Second Opinion
Matt Blind over at Rocket Bomber has something different to say about this week’s top 10 list:
1. Naruto 48
2. Ouran High School Host Club 14
3. Fullmetal Alchemist 23
4. Vampire Knight 10
5. Hellsing 10
6. Maximum Ride 1
7. Naruto 47
8. Maximum Ride 2
9. Bleach 31
10. Alice in the Country of Hearts 1
Notable differences: Matt has no VizBigs on his list. Hellsing, Bleach and Maximum Ride continue to persist on his list while they are no where to be seen on the NYT list. There’s no Yu-Gi-Oh! R and Fullmetal Alchemist didn’t make it to #1 on Matt’s list. This week’s list is a little more consistent with titles, if not with places, with 6 in common. It really makes me wonder what is going on with the NYT numbers that Maximum Ride doesn’t show up, but a lot of Viz new releases do.
Manga For Your Ears
Sesho’s Anime and Manga Reviews
This Week at Manga Village
- A Drifting Life
- My Girlfriend’s A Geek vol 1
- The Clique
- Manga Sutra vol 4
- Taimashin: The Red Spirder Exorcist vol 2
- Weekly Picks
What I’ve Been Reading
- Swallowing the Earth
- Yokai Doctor vol 1
- Jack Frost vol 3
Yukari wants nothing more than to make her parents happy by studying hard and getting into a good college. One afternoon, however, she is kidnapped by a group of self-proclaimed fashion mavens calling themselves “Paradise Kiss.” Yukari suddenly finds herself in the roller coaster life of the fashion world, guided by George, art-snob extraordinaire. In a glamorous makeover of body, mind and soul, she is turned from a hapless bookworm into her friends’ own exclusive clothing model.
When Paradise Kiss first came out, I passed on it, thinking it wouldn’t be a series I would be interested in, and quite frankly, I was turned off by the cover art. This was before I knew how awesome Ai Yazawa and her work was. Paradise Kiss is about a group of fashion design students trying to make their own line with normal exam student Yukari as their model, but this first volume is more about the relationships of this group of new friends than fashion, and as is typical of a Yazawa manga, the relationships are anything but simple.
Yukari Hayasaka is a high school student preparing for exams for college. She walks around with her nose in a book, goes to prep-school, and just generally worries about doing well and getting into a good school, just like everyone else around her. In Yukari’s world, your rank in school equals your rank in life. She doesn’t have any dreams or ambitions beyond getting into college. Her whole world revolves around this single goal. Until she meets the members of Paradise Kiss.
As one would expect for a group of art-school students, Paradise Kiss is filled with some eccentric characters. Arashi looks and speaks like a British punker, complete with safety-pin piercings and slang. Miwako looks and acts like a little girl, often referring to herself in the third person. Isabelle is a tall, male transvestite who also likes to cook, and takes any opportunity to make rice balls. And then there’s George, the leader of Parakiss.
George is a mysterious character. He always has a straight face, making it difficult to tell what he’s thinking, or when he’s being serious. He’s impossible to read or predict. The members of Parakiss are used to him and can just go with it, but Yukari becomes intrigued with George. He starts out playing with her, to get her to come back to the studio and convince her to be their model, but she gets completely caught up in him and his games. Yukari’s thoughts become dominated by thoughts of George, but she also wonders if he’s just playing with her. In the end, she can’t stop herself from falling for him.
Yukari also becomes friends with Miwako, who is a childhood friend with a boy in Yukari’s class that she’s had a crush with from afar, Tokumori. Without getting into the whole tangled mess of that relationship, it’s Yukari and Miwako’s friendship that plays a big role in Yukari finally deciding to help them. Through Miwako she has come to understand what Parakiss is trying to do. They have dreams and goals, and aren’t just the slackers she thought of them at first. She is able to see past the surface, and is even a little envious of the group. They have a dream they are working to achieve, while Yukari is just going through the motions. By choosing to become their model, she has taken the first step toward her own freedom, and making her own decisions for her life.
The art of Paradise Kiss doesn’t seem very different from Nana, Yazawa’s current manga series. I can see a lot of Nana O. in Yukari. The fashions Yazawa comes up with are sometimes outrageous, but always fitting of the character. Her realistic style works well with the fashions, but I do still enjoy the comedic faces she comes up with. Though I hope to never see one of them on George. It just wouldn’t feel right.
Just like with Nana, I was pulled into this series from the first chapter and hooked by the characters. Their complex relationships really draw you in, as does the enigmatic George. It’s easy to get just as caught up in his games as Yukari does. Like Yukari, I made the mistake of judging this title by its outward appearance. I’m glad the MMF gave me a push to check out this series. I’m now looking forward to reading more and seeing the fashion come into play, as well as where George and Yukari’s relationship will go, or if it will last.