Viz Media gets a huge selection of titles onto Comixology from publisher Shogakukan which includes Shonen Sunday titles as well as some shojo and josei. Comixology readers can now enjoy the likes of Case Closed and Happy Marriage?! as well as the classic Drifting Classroom. Many of these titles are also complete, so there’s no waiting for the next volume to come out.
Rinne once again has his hands full as he has to take care of the young Shinigami Shoma during the boy’s homestay, but if Masato the demon has anything thing to do about it, it won’t be easy. Tsubasa’s failure to exorcise the evil spirit of a beautiful girl brings him more misfortune, and as usual, it’s up to Rinne to bale him out.
I kind of took a short break from Rin-ne, ie, I stopped reading the chapters online. The series has been all hit or miss for me, but since I’ve enjoyed so much of Takahashi’s work, I want to keep giving the series another chance. So when these two latest volumes became available for review, I decided to give the series another go.
Nothing has really changed. Rinne is still helping spirits to the afterlife, pining for Sakura and being dirt poor. He’s also still fending off Ageha’s advances and battling Tsubasa for Sakura’s affections. The demon Masato still tries to make Rinne’s life hell with more debt, and his father continues to try to take the souls of his classmates. The stories are still hit and miss. The “being poor” jokes still rub me the wrong way. Rinne taking Shoma to eat bread crumbs thrown by an old man for the birds or hoping that Home Ec doesn’t work out so he can have all the burnt food doesn’t strike me as funny, just sad. But I did like the story of the “magic square” (the kotatsu) as well as Sakura learning to knit to try to lure out the strangling scarf.
One thing I have come to realize is that the Shinigami are big on gadgets; devices that help them move spirits to the afterlife. Rokumon is always popping up with some strange gadget that usually helps Rinne with problem spirits. The Demon-Tool-Cutting-Shears, the Ghost Trap Box, the Tsukumogami Net and Capturing Bolas, the Childhood Channeling Balloon, the Splitting Incense, and the Single Use Spirit Path all come in handy as Rinne takes on a Tsukumogami, helps a boy give peace to a childhood friend, and tries to stop the misguided Shoma from helping Masato. I’ve come to like the gadgets. Some of them seem obvious, but others, like the Childhood Channeling Balloon and the Single Use Spirit Path are clever.
When I first started reading Rin-ne, I couldn’t help comparing it to Takahashi’s earlier series Urusei Yatsura. The more I read, the more the comparison seems to fit. Like UY, Rin-ne is a gag manga. It’s got its cast of characters, its running jokes (Rinne’s financial situation, Tsubasa’s failure to exorcise anything), and its out-of-the-ordinary situation (the supernatural). When you think it about it, there are too many parallels to be a coincidence. This series is the UY for a new generation, but much more toned down. It has all the wackiness and comedy of its predecesor without the sheer insanity that was UY. Whether that is good or bad is anyone’s guess. I don’t think I’ll every love Rinne, but I guess I do have to admit to liking it enough to read it, just not keep it.
Ageha, a young shinigami girl with a serious grudge against the evil Damashigami Company, searches for her missing sister with Rinne’s help. Ageha is head over heels for Rinne, but he’s got Sakura Mamiya on his mind. And how does Sakura feel about this odd ghost-busting love triangle?
In the city of Nekota, where rapid modernization threatens everything the longtime residents hold dear, one young man has stood up to oppose progress. Inukai and his team of vigilantes, known as Grasshopper, protect the citizens from the rising crime wave and the greedy hands of businessmen bent on turning every block into a modern strip mall. But what is this public hero’s true motive? Is this angelic man actually a devil in disguise?
High school student Ando has the special ability to make others say out loud what he’s thinking. But will this be enough to uncover Inukai’s secrets and stop the plot to control the city?
Change is unavoidable. It’s a contradictory constant. But the forces for change can be either good or bad. This first volume of Maoh: Juvenile Remix shows how words can bring about change, but leaves the question of its benefit open to interpretation.
The volume starts by introducing the protagonist, Ando, a high school student in the 11th grade. Because of an incident when he was young, he tries not to stand out. He has the ability to make people say what he’s thinking and was ridiculed by his classmates for it. Now, he likes to blend in with the crowd, and not get involved with other people’s business. He is a bystander to the world around him.
Enter Mr. Inukai, the leader of a vigilante group known as Grasshopper. His is good-looking, confident and charismatic. He always has a benign expression and gentle smile on his lips. He and his followers patrol Nekota City, protecting the people from harm. Inukai’s greatest weapon in this fight seems to be his words. He can sway a crowd to his way of thinking or inspire individuals to action. Even Ando, who sees him in action one day. Inukai’s claim that anyone can change the world if they believe it enough, stirs Ando from his inaction. Using his ability, he helps a girl being groped on a train, and tries to help a classmate who is being bullied.
Ando’s fascination with Inukai gives him a glimpse in a darkness that seems to exist in Inukai and the Grasshoppers. Instead of being scared away by this revelation, Ando becomes more interested in Inukai and determined to find out what his real motives are.
When I first started reading this title online at Shonensunday.com, I didn’t think much of it. Reading the first volume however, has really changed my opinion. There is a lot going on here, between And’s ability and Inukai’s true intentions. Inukai seems helpful, and to have good intentions toward the people of Nekota City. But like other charismatic leaders from the past, he may have more sinister motives. Ando says it as he’s talking to his classmate Kaname and asks what if Inukai is the devil? It’s a powerful question and gives the reader a lot to think about.
The panel layout is easy to follow, and the art is decently done. It was difficult at first to figure out Inukai’s gender, and he has several female qualities, but I found the ambiguity about his gender added to the mystique of his character.
Maoh: Juvenile Remix isn’t an action title but neither is it boring. There is a bit of talking, both in internal dialog and in discussions between characters, but it’s not just exposition. There is a real story going on here, one that’s definitely worth checking out.
Review copy provided by publsher. Images © Viz Media
Manga Publishers Go APE!
Even though APE, the Alternate Press Expo, is mostly for comics and graphic novels, a couple of manga publishers showed up to pawn some of their less mainstream wares. Vertical, Inc. had a table there, with Ed Chavez hocking their books, and selling out titles left and right. By the end of Sunday, the last report from him was Guin Saga manga and Black Jack v2-7 were all that was left. Not bad! Viz was there too, with titles from their Signature line, and reports from the floor sounded favorable to them. They also had a panel on Sunday for their Ikki line. Deb Aoki was on the floor both days reporting, so check out her twitter page if you don’t follow her already.
One Piece in BIG Bites?
Found via Twitter. @swanjun found these entries for One Piece at Simon and Schuster. At 600 pgs each, and combining three volumes a piece, they sure do sound like VizBIG editions, even if the solicitations don’t actually say so. With the speed up of One Piece coming in January, this is the perfect time for Viz to put out BIG editions of the series. Catching up is a lot easier with the BIG editions than trying to hunt down individual volumes, especially for a series that has been going since 2003. One Piece premiered with Shonen Jump. However, a look at the Previews solicitations makes these appear to be bundles rather than BIG editions. Previews calls them “GN sets” and advertise “get three volumes for the price of two.” Either way, it’s a good deal. The first two scheduled for Dec and Jan releases, with 7-9 scheduled for March 2010, and 10-12 for May 2010.
Viz’s second big foray into the online world of manga is Shonen Sunday. It’s based on another manga magazine from Japan. Several popular titles came from this magazine, such as most of Rumiko Takahashi’s works (Urusei Yatsura, Ramna 1/2, Inuyasha, Mermaid Saga), Detective Conan, Zatch Bell, and Yakitate!! Japan, just to name a few. Now Viz has brought some titles from the magazine online.
RIN-NE Volume 1
By Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Price: $9.99/Free online
Ever since a childhood incident Sakura Mamiya has had the power to see ghosts. Now her life has gotten a lot more complicated with the arrival of her mysterious classmate Rinne, who seems to know a thing or two about detecting ghosts himself!
Having enjoyed so far Takahashi’s shonen titles since Urusei Yatsura, I was thrilled to hear that we in the US would not only be getting her newest, Rin-ne, at the same time as Japan, but it would available for free online to read. Having now read the first volume’s worth of chapters, I have to say my initial excitement may have been premature.
I know this is late, but SDCC threw everything off schedule. Everything will back by this week. I hope.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Otakon ran this weekend. Did you notice? There were no announcements from manga publishers, and really not a lot of announcements in general. Whoever planned for this years Otakon really blew it. Placing it between the biggest industry cons was a serious mistake. Attendance was barely changed from last years numbers. Even with this economy, AX showed a reasonable rise, and SDCC sold out at least two months sooner than last year. So it’s not that people aren’t going to the cons, they just need more time in between to replenish cash reserves. Otakon, stay in August.
I’m gonna try and make this a weekly feature, rounding up the stories from the week I found most interesting from the web and twitter. Of course, I’ll be adding my own two cents with some commentary on the news items.
Anime Expo – 7/2-7/5/09
Normally associated with anime (obviously), manga pubs usually have a presence at AX, as a booth and/or panel. Though, with the tough economy, smaller pubs seem to be fleeing the crowds and expense of SDCC, in favor of a more targeted audience. Here ae some items I want to highlight.