As I looked through my piles of manga, I realized I had more unread Viz Signature titles than I thought. I actually have more, but these were single volumes and made for quick enough reads that I could get them in. While they are two different titles in tone, they do not differ very much when it comes to my reactions to them. I am a sci-fi fan, but can I be a fan of these two titles? Read on to find out.
In a city so dismal it’s known only as “the Hole,” a clan of Sorcerers have been plucking people off the streets to use as guinea pigs for atrocious ‘experiments” in the black arts. In a dark alley, Nikaido found Caiman, a man with a reptile head and a bad case of amnesia. To undo the spell, they’re hunting and killing the Sorcerers in the Hole, hoping that eventually they’ll kill the right one. But when En, the head Sorcerer, gets word of a lizard-man slaughtering his people, he sends a crew of “cleaners” into the Hole, igniting a war between the two worlds.
I discovered Dorohedoro through the Sigikki.com site. I’m so glad it was put up there, because, based on the volume description, I would have completely bypassed this series, and that would have been a serious crime. While this volume does have violence and some gore, it also introduces some of the best characters I’ve read about in a long time.
The volume description makes Dorohedoro sound like a serious battle title, with Caiman and Nikaido hunting down and killing sorcerers and En and his sorcerers fighting back. It sounds like a slaughter fest, but that description is misleading. Caiman is searching for the sorcerer who changed him and killing any he finds. And En does call his best cleaners, Shin and Noi to put them on Caiman and Nikaido’s trail, but that’s all that’s happened so far. This volume is more about introducing the world, the characters, and what they are capable of in a fight.
Of course, even if this title had more fighting, it still would be meaningless unless it had a good cast of characters, and Dorohedoro has them in abundance! I loved Caiman from the first page. The volume starts with a sorcerer’s head in Caiman’s mouth. It’s a pretty dramatic way to introduce him, but it’s soon shown Caiman isn’t all about the drama. Unlike so many shonen characters seen nowadays, Caiman isn’t dark or depressed about his situation. He makes the best he can of it and keeps a good attitude. He also has a healthy appetite, so it’s a good thing Nikaido runs a restaurant. She’s not only Caiman’s meal ticket, she’s his friend and partner. While Caiman is the excitable type, Nikaido is more calm and cool. She keeps her head in any situation, and is capable of taking care of herself. They make a good team.
Even the bad guys in this series are likable. Fujita, the partner of the sorcerer who is first seen getting Caiman’s treatment is a lackey to En, the head sorcerer. Like all henchmen, he’s a bit of a bumbler and has bad luck. He tries to do his best, and you can help but feel sorry for him. He really looks up to Shin and Noi, En’s top cleaners. They are the efficient killers you expect them to be, but under their masks, look and act normal. I really enjoyed watching them at their dinner with En. Trying to read the menu, and looking for the expensive items since their boss was paying not only make them more human, but also entertaining.
What I really enjoy about Dorohedoro is the fact it doesn’t take itself too seriously. While we do see Caiman and Nikaido continue the search for one specific sorcerer, just as much of the book shows them at work, and taking it easy. It isn’t just about the fighting, it’s about all aspects of the characters lives, and for me, that differentiates it from so many of the other titles out there. Dorohedoro deserves its mature rating with graphic fights that send body parts and internal organs flying, and a bit of swearing, but if you can get past those two things, you will be rewarded. I’ve enjoyed this volume even after multiple reads, and look forward to reading more.
Moveable Manga Feast Moves Out
In a massive collaboration, several blogs have gotten together to review the same book on the same week, as suggested by David Welsh of the Manga Curmudgeon blog. It kicked off this week, with Sexy Voice and Robo, with new reviews going up every day. You can find an introduction to the book and all the reviews posted here. From the long list of reviews, this turned out to be a big success with such a wide breadth of reviews, both good and bad. This is a shining example of the power of social media. An idea on Twitter became a week long celebration (or panning) of a title, bringing together the mangasphere. I just think that’s cool.
Viz’s SigIkki website isn’t just an experiment in manga for mature readers. Going to the site does more than let you read some great manga. You, the reader, can make a difference in which manga will get published. Your clicks and reviews can make all the difference in the world for a title seeing print.
In Japan, the fate of a manga is decided not just by circulation, but also by what the readers say. Survey cards are checked and titles can live or die by what readers say in these. Viz has taken this idea and applied it to the web. The titles at SigIkki are not guaranteed to see a print edition unless enough people show interest through page views and reviews that readers can leave. While this is a good idea for a small market as these Ikki titles will attract, that also means that your favorite title manga get a print edition unless YOU do something.
Just like pre-ordering, this is putting your money were your mouth is, just without so much of the risk. Going to the site and reading chapters is easy, but if you really love a title, so much so that you want to see it in print, then put in a good word. The editors give a lot of weight to reviews and comments left for titles.
And, just because a title gets a future solicitation, as many of the SigIkki titles seem to have at Amazon, that’s not really a guarantee of publication. Ask Tokyopop about that.
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.
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.