Tag Archives: Vertical

Two More To Vertical

Vertical joined the licensing mania from last week when they announced two new titles at their panel at Katsucon. In Vertical’s typical style, they are not your average manga, but fit perfectly into the catalog they’ve been building for the last couple of years.

kakisenKaikisen, also known as Tropic of the Sea is by re-known anime director Satoshi Kon, who passed away in 2010. Kaikisen was Kon’s first manga. In a seaside town there is a legend of a “sea people” who exist nearby. The townspeople made a promise to these legendary people, but resort developers now threaten to force the town to break their promise. This title is just one volume long and is scheduled to come out in September. Several of Kon’s anime have been released in the US, but this is his first manga. I’m intrigued by the premise of this title, so it’s getting a “can’t wait!”

sickness-unto-deathSickness Unto Death is a two-volume series by the creative team Hikari Asada, writer, and Takahiro Seguchi. It is about a young man, Kazuma, who has come to room at a mansion as he attends school, where he is studying clinical psychology. Also living in the mansion is a woman, Emiru, who suffered from deep despair, and is killing her slowly. Kazuma tries to learn the reason for Emiru’s despair before it is too late. The first volume of this title will come out in October. This is another title that sounds fascinating. It gets a “can’t wait” too!

Summer WarsWhile not announced, Vertical also confirmed back at the end of January to also have received the license for the 3 volume manga adaptation of Summer Wars, by Iqura Sugimoto. Eleventh-grader and math genius Kenji Koiso is asked by Natsuki Junnouchi to join her at her family’s home for a summer job. Having a secret crush on Natsuki, the shy Kenji agrees. He comes to find out his job is to pretend to be her fiancée for her family at their celebration for the matriarch’s 90th birthday. While Kenji is running around trying to keep up with Natsuki and her story, he receives a text with a math problem. But his solving it causes a hijacking of the social network through which most of the world’s social and business traffic flows. The movie was very popular not long again, so this adaption, which Vertical will release in 2 300 page volumes in October, should be as well. I’ll definitely give the first volume a try, and give it a “can’t wait!”


Paradise Kiss Volume 1-2

Yukari Hayasaka is a studious, straight-laced high school senior, racing toward college exams yet with no real sense of purpose in her life. One day she’s kidnapped by a troupe of fashion design students and whisked away to their lounge-like atelier. There they ask her to be their model for their school fashion show. At first she resists, scornful of the odd-looking design students, until George, the lead designer, uses his wiles to join them while forcing Yukari to take a good, hard look at her life.

parakiss1By Ai Yazawa
Publisher: Vertical, Inc.
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Fashion
Price: $19.95
Rating: ★★★★½

I first read Paradise Kiss two years ago for its Manga Movable Feast. The series was originally released by Tokyopop, who has since gone the way of the Dodo, and at the time I could only get a hold of the first volume. But Vertical, Inc. has, in its infinite wisdom, rescued this title and re-released it not only with a new translation, but also as an omnibus edition. With a much better translation and bigger chucks of story, these two volumes really delve into the characters and starts to give glimpses of the fashion world.

In these first two volumes, we not only meet all of the characters of Paradise Kiss, but see the complex relationships that Yazawa has set up. Miwako and Arashi are childhood friends who have become lovers. Arashi has piercings all over his face and looks scary, but is actually kind and the most responsible of the group. Miwako is very childlike and refers to herself in the third person. She becomes Yukari’s first close friend that she can confide into. Isabelle is a male transvestite who likes to cook and worries about Yukari as well, but doesn’t push too much. She really doesn’t get as much development as the others. And then there’s George, or Jorji. He is the leader of the group and prodigy designer. He is suave, handsome, and at times real jerk.

Yukari gets dragged into their world as her college exams approach. She doesn’t take their request for her to be their model, or even their work seriously at first. But when she learns about how hard they are working to make their dreams of creating their own label of clothes, she has more respect for them. They have a dream, a goal for their lives. She’s just been going through the motions, trying to appease her rank-hungry mother. Being with Parakiss and George, gets Yukari thinking about her life and her future, and what she wants to do with it rather than just what her mother wants. She also becomes romantically involved with George, who is a complex person. Yukari’s emotions get bounced around like a pinball as he manipulates her feelings leaving both the reader and Yukari wondering if his feelings for her are real.

parakiss2There is a third side to the Yukari-George relationship. Hiro Tokumori is a class mate of Yukari’s who also, co-incidentally is a childhood friend of Miwako and Arashi. He starts out as Yukari’s crush, and seemingly not interested in her, but as she gets more involved with Parakiss and George and less involved in school, he starts to worry about her. Hiro is the complete opposite of George. He is never manipulative of Yukari, but he does speak his mind, and his words get Yukari thinking rather than just reacting. As he becomes more involved in the story, I found I was liking him more and more. He’s a better match for Yukari than George. He is understanding her feelings without the manipulation.

I really enjoyed these first two volumes of Paradise Kiss. It was great watching Yukari start to grow as a person, and face some of the things she’s been avoiding. She finally finds something she wants to do, modeling, thanks to Miwako’s sister, Mikako, who is already a famous fashion designer. She confronts her mother about her life’s direction, and finally wins some freedom. She even learns that, once it is her own choice, college might not be as bad she thought. But she is still growing up in other ways, especially emotionally. She makes George angry at her over a choice she made that was more about her inexperience than anything else.

If you missed Paradise Kiss the first time around, don’t make that mistake again. Vertical has done a terrific job with this re-release. The volumes are larger than a regular manga volume, and just thick enough to give good chunks of story, and still be comfortable to hold. And you won’t want to put these volumes down. The story is very addicting, as you have to know what happens next. It was very difficult to reach the end of volume 2 and realize I had to wait for the next. Ai Yazawa’s artwork is realistic with a few comedic moments, which mostly involve Arashi punching George. The series is also rather self-aware, at least among the Parakiss crew, as George and Isabelle are seen reading the magazine the series was serialized in, and are constantly making references to events being in previous chapters. Paradise Kiss is a fun, funny, and sometimes frustrating series, but it is worth every moment.

Review copies provided by publisher.


Manga Wrap Up Week Seven

With February’s Manga Movable Feast being about Osamu Tezuka, I spent this week concentrating on the few titles I had left that I hadn’t reviewed yet. In going back and looking for the links of older reviews, I couldn’t believe how much Tezuka I had actually read over the years. The first manga by Tezuka I ever read was MW, which was a serious eye-opener for me. Next came Dororo, a title I enjoyed a lot, and thought was criminally short. And then there came Black Jack. I loved it from the first volume, and I have managed to review all but one of the 17 volumes that Vertical released. In between all that amazing medical work came the bizarre Swallowing the Earth. There were some titles I could have read but chose not too, like Ayako. I almost passed up on Book of Human Insects, but curiosity got the best of me, and I was sucked in.

This week, I read Princess Knight Parts 1 and 2, and Apollo’s Song. Princess Knight was a title I was looking forward to, and was glad to get a hold of the volumes before the MMF. I loved this series. It was a lot of fun and made a great fairy tale of a modern world. In stark contrast to this series, I then read Apollo’s Song. This isn’t the first time I’ve read this title, or tried to review it. My first attempt just left me with a bunch of jumbled thoughts that I couldn’t get to come together. Hopefully this second attempt will be better. I really didn’t like Apollo’s Song as much of most of the other Tezuka titles I’ve read. I’ll try to get my thoughts out to explain why.

In between these two titles, I squeezed in a new Viz title, The Earl and the Fairy. I remember when the anime for this series was announced, and at the time, the premise didn’t sound too interesting. But I was still intrigued enough to want to read the manga. And I am glad I did. The story was fascinating, and I really liked the characters. I look forward to reviewing this title and reading more.

I also read the latest issue of Yen Plus. I think I’m going to be skipping Witch and Wizard. As much as like Sveltlana’s artwork, the story is just too melodramatic for me. And I hate stories with villains who seem to be so powerful and without any kind of flaw. I’m hoping Infernal Devices starts going somewhere. It’s not nearly as fun or exciting as Soulless. I do like Soul Eater Not more than Soul Eater, and it’s nice that Yen Press has been able to get on simultaneous release with Japan, but the Japanese side has again become woefully small. As in, Soul Eater Not is the ONLY title on the Japanese side. It would be nice to get some symmetry back.

For the next week, I’m going to get back on my catch-up reading. I’m going to work on another Tokyopop title, one that was sadly never completed. Dazzle is a title I picked up on some recommendation I read, and did enjoy the first 4 volumes that I read. The interaction of the main characters reminded me a lot of Saiyuki. But it went on a long release schedule, so it kind of fell to the weigh-side for me. But I have gradually picked the remaining volumes, and just recently got the final volume Tokyopop released, though sadly not the final volume in the series, number 10. So I’ll be finished up this series this week.

  • Princess Knight Part 1-2
  • Apollo’s Song
  • The Earl and the Fairy Volume 1
  • Yen Plus February 2012

No Longer Human Volume 1-2: Manga Movable Feast

I wasn’t going to read No Longer Human. I’m one of those people who hears “literary classic”, and my brain shuts down. I’ve never been big on the drama and tragedy that usually permeates these kinds of books, but I’m making an effort to “expand my horizons”, so I decided to at least give the first volume a chance. What I found was a compelling human drama that didn’t feel like homework at all.

By Usamaru Furuya; Based on the novel by Osamu Dazai
Publisher: Vertical, Inc.
Age Rating: 16+ (Older Teen)
Genre: Drama
Price: $10.95
Rating: ★★★★★

No Longer Human, written by Osamu Dazai, originally took place just after Japan’s defeat in World War II. Furuya takes this story and updates it for the 21st century, making it relatable to modern-day readers. He starts the title with a great hook. While he is surfing the internet for ideas for his next manga, Usamaru Furuya stumbles onto a link to Yozo Oba’s “Ouch Diary”, a blog about his life. This was a great way to start out the story since it’s so believable. Web surfing can lead to some strange places, and the fact that he gets sucked in in spite of himself was another great touch.

I think the choice of setting the story in modern times was the right one. It makes what Yozo goes through more relevant to the audience. While the themes of the story may be universal, a setting from over 60 years ago can make it too far removed to grab the reader. The original story will still bring in readers, but modernizing it will bring in more.

Furuya also does an excellent job of portraying Yozo’s emotions. At the beginning, Yozo doesn’t know what emotions really are, or what it means to feel them. He doesn’t understand what it means to be human and Furuya shows this by depicting Yozo as a puppet. He dances on the strings to fit into whatever situations he’s in. When he tries to commit suicide with Ageha, he is shown as a doll breaking apart. It’s after this incident that he starts to understand emotion and is no longer depicted that way.

In some way, these first two volumes show Yozo maturing backwards emotionally through the women he meets and lives with. When he’s with Ageha, he ready to give up on life, thinking there’s nothing left to experience or live for. When he lives with Shizuko and her daughter Shiori, he gets a taste of what being married could be like. And, when he runs away to Mama, he can finally be a teenager. She acts like a real mother figure to him, one he doesn’t seem to have ever had. When he meets Yoshino, he acts like a schoolboy with a crush, which really shows his emotional growth. Before, he looked at women as objects to have sex with, not understanding, or even trying to understand their feelings. With Yoshino, he doesn’t seem to feel that way at all.

Things seem to be looking up for Yozo by the end of volume 2. He has a home where he is accepted unconditionally, and he seems to have found true love. The words at the end though seem to hint at more bad times to come. After he has started to rise up, it seems that Yozo is destined for a fall. But while the words are ominous, it’s Furuya’s panels on the last page that really gives meaning to the darkness in them. The last panel almost makes you shudder at the implications.

No Longer Human is a classic in the truest sence of the word. It tells a story that is not only universal, but also timeless. The feelings and experiences of Yozo can be found in any time period and any society. Dazai’s story is compelling on its own, but Furuya’s art just drives home the story that much more. His imagery adds so much to the words and expresses what words alone can’t. I can’t recommend this title more highly.

Manga Wrap-Up: Week One

“Manga wrap-up, manga wrap-up
Let’s finish up these series
Manga wrap-up, manga wrap-up
Cause there’s no more room in here!”

“Manga wrap-up, manga wrap-up
Let’s finish up these series
Manga wrap-up, manga wrap-up
Cause there’s no more room in here!”

“Cause there’s no more room in here!”

Hey! Welcome to my first post of the new year chronicling my attempt to catch up on all the titles I’ve fallen behind on and may even give away! I even have a theme song! (Bronies will recognize the tune. I blame my youngest daughter for its creation. :) ) Anyway, this first week didn’t go quite the way I had planned, but that should come as no surprise.

I started 2012 by preparing for the January Manga Movable Feast. This month features the works of Usamaru Furuya. I’ve been saving Genkaku Picasso for this and finally read volume 1. I will have to get 2-3 now. I really liked it. Too bad it’s not available digitally, but at only 3 volumes it won’t be so hard to fit on the shelf. I hadn’t planned on reading Furuya’s version of No Longer Human from Vertical, but I decided it wouldn’t hurt to check out the first volume. I flew through that one, as well as volume 2. I really didn’t think I would like it, as I don’t care much for “classics”, this one was a compelling read, and well worth the time.

Also not on the long-term reading list, but still a volume I’ve had for several months, I read volume 4 of Degenki Daisy. It s a series I like, but since it’s available digitally, I’m going to move it over to that realm as a space saver. I’m not sure how much of a re-read it will be, so going digital with it is probably the best option. Volume 4 will be my last physical copy. If Viz has another good sale, I’ll probably replace 1-4 as well.

It took me until Friday night to finally get into the pile I want to work on. I picked up Rurouni Kenshin, but it had been soooo long since I read it, I wasn’t sure what volume I had stopped on. I know I had finished the Kyoto arc and was starting on the final. I ended up re-reading volumes 18 and 19 before determining volume 20 is where I want to start. I finally got to that Saturday afternoon.

I knew this was going to be a long, uphill battle. With so many other books to distract me, it might be harder than I anticipated to get through this pile. But I am determined to do it. As my new theme song says, there is no more space. So, the final tally for the week is:

  • No Longer Human v1-2
  • Genkaku Picasso v1
  • Degenki Daisy v4
  • Rurouni Kenshin v18-20

Check back next week to see how far I get with Kenshin. Only 7 more to go, in this series.

Cautiously Optimistic

The first day of panels at NYCC/NYAF was certainly full of surprises. And it started right off first thing in the morning for me, at 6:30 am (PST) when news started on Twitter about Viz Media’s big announcement. Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha will be a digital manga magazine that will run new chapter of the manga Bakuman, Bleach, Naruto, Nura, One Piece, and Toriko two weeks after they run in Japan. The magazine will be available through Vizmanga.com and through the iOS apps. The price is $25.99 for 48 issues, or you can rent single issues for .99 for 4 weeks. I’m a little confused on the .99 rental though. I’ve seen it described as .99 a month, which implies only paying .99 for four issues which is a lot better than 25.99 for a year, unless of course, the year subscription means you can keep the issues permanently. Whether the weekly issues are for keeps or for a limited time as the Nura serialization is now hasn’t been clarified. The digital magazine will start in January 2012, with the print magazine ending with the March issue.

I can’t say I’m thrilled with the new line up. One Piece and Bakuman are the only ones I’m interested in, and the fact that I can only stream the titles, since no one wants to even try to make an android tablet app (hint: if it’s so hard to do an app with all the different flavors of Android, then just do what most pub do now anyway; make just a tablet app on Honeycomb), this severely limits my ability to take the mag and “read anywhere”, something I can currently do with my print mag. I’m going to need more details before I decide to stay with the digital magazine. I’ll also admit that I’ll miss reading Psyren and Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds. They aren’t titles I want to actively go after, but I enjoyed reading them in the magazine. Now, Shonen Jump is returning to it “only the top sellers can appear” approach, which is a shame, since going digital should be the opportunity to experiment. And I agree with others on Twitter, that a Shojo Beat digital magazine would be awesome.

Next came Yen Press and Seven Seas with new license announcements. Yen Press announced Soul Eater Not, a side story to Soul Eater. I wasn’t impressed with the first series, so I don’t anticipate caring much for this one. They’ve also announced it will appear in the current issue of Yen Plus, but is that going to be permanent, or just a couple of chapters to push the series as High School of the Dead Color was, and a way to pad the scant Japanese side? I like that Yen is continuing to adapt YA novels, the newest editions being Infernal Devices, which sounds interesting, and a Dark Hunters side story Infinity. And I’ll admit to some curiosity to the Japanese licenses Madoka Magica and Until Death Due Us Part. I might check out Alice in the Country of Hearts, a Tokyopop license rescue (that they said they wouldn’t do…) I missed it the first time around.

Then Seven Seas hints at a new license through anagrams again on Twitter, which turns out to be the sequel to Alice in the Country of Hearts, Alice in the Country of Clover. This was a pleasant surprise and a boon for AitCoH fans. Seven Seas also announced the new title from the creator of Dance in the Vampire Bund. Angel Para Bellum takes on christian mythology with a battle between heaven and hell brewing and only a boy named Mitsuru holds the key to preventing it. I think Supernatural has killed my interest in such stories, but I’ll check ou the first volume if given the chance.

Kodansha announced two new licenses, Attack on Titan and Miles Edgeworth. I don’t know how much Attack on Titan will appeal to me, but if I like the Phoenix Wright manga, I might check out the Miles Edgeworth. They also announced omnibuses of former Del Rey titles Genshiken and Kitchen Princess, two good titles to keep in print. And then there was the obligatory iOS app announcement (yawn).

Vertical had the biggest surprises for me. The licenses lately haven’t been my cup of tea, with Princess Knight being the only new title I really wanted to read. But in their announcements at their panel, they had two that really piqued my interest. I”ve heard a lot about Osamu Tezuka’s Adolf (Messages to Adolf), but it’s been out of print for so long, I didn’t hold by breath at ever reading it. Until now. It will be releases in 2 hardback volumes next year. Sakuran really looks intriguing too. It’s a historical title about courtesans in the Edo era. And I can’t resist historical titles.

While all of these announcements sound great, I’m going to remain cautiously optimistic about them. What looks good in a press release might not be so great in reality. So I’ll watch and wait for now. Most of the books announced won’t be out until next summer, so there’s plenty of time for things to change. Only the digital announcements have any immediacy, and only Viz’s really concerns me. But it’s still nice to see things to get excited about again.

Some Wine for the Princess

Vertical is a publisher that never fails to surprise, or deliver. Whenever licensing time comes up, Marketing Director Ed Chavez would get on Twitter and ask for license requests. In variably, there would be several people who would pipe up with Princess Knight, Osamu Tezuka’s first shojo, and invaribly, Ed would shoot the request down. Now we know why. On Anime News Network’s AnnCast, Ed was a guest where he announced not one, but two licenses, one of which was the oft-requested Princess Knight. The other was Drops of God, a wine manga that has been getting some press in the media for the affect it can have on a wine’s price that is featured in the title. It was hinted at last April by the creators that the manga had been licensed in the US, but no publisher had stepped up. Now we know why.

I have to give Ed a lot of credit. He has quite the poker face/text. From his tweets in the last wrong, I got the distinct impression that Princess Knight was off the table as a request. He had said they were working on a Tezuka license, but with his catalog, that could mean just about anything! From the reaction to the news when it broke on twitter, I don’t think anyone suspected Vertical would get either of these titles! That is being a good marketing manager. Vertical really scored when they got Ed for that position.

I myself am looking forward to Princess Knight. I read the preview that was run in Shojo Beat for it’s 5(?) anniversary, and I really liked it. It definitely has a lot of merit beyond its historical significance. Drops of God….I’m not so sure about. I don’t drink wine. I have no interest in wine, so a manga devoted to going out and finding the 13 best wines doesn’t sound all that interesting. But, I’ve been wrong before. Most of the praise that it has gotten is for its detail about the wines, but according to one twitter-er, the title is written by the same time as writes Bloody Monday, another title that I’m really looking forward to, so this is a wait and see.

For more information about these two titles, check out the license requests by David Welsh.

This Week in Manga: 9/11-9/24/10

Due to illness, I was unable to do a roundup last week, so this week combines the two weeks. So what’s in store? More licenses found and announced from Viz and Vertical, several digital manga stories, some news from Japan and Korea, 2 weeks worth of best seller lists, podcasts and the Manga Village roundup.

Continue reading This Week in Manga: 9/11-9/24/10

Chi’s Sweet Home Volumes 1-2

Chi’s Sweet Home is the tale of a lost kitten finding a home with a young family. Despite not being able to keep pets in their apartment, they take the lost kitten in and try to find a home for her. Like most people who take in cats “temporarily” the kitten, who names herself Chi, wiggles her way into the house and hearts of the Yamada family.

by Konami Kanata
Publisher: Veritcal, Inc.
Age Rating: All Ages
Genre: Pet
Price: $13.99
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy These Books

I’ll say this upfront; I love cats. So this title already had a head start before I even cracked it open. Fortunately, I was not disappointed once I did started reading it. Chi, the main character, draws you in immediately. She is cute, but not the sugary-sweet, Hello Kitty kind of cute. She is cute the same way that a baby is. She is a baby cat after all, and acts like one. She is easily distracted (which is what gets her separated from her mother and siblings in the first place), trying new things, making mistakes, and learning from them. She and Yohei, the little boy who finds Chi, are very much a like in that way. Both being young children, they end up learning things together. Both Chi and Yohei learn to use the potty correctly.

Over the two volumes, Chi and the Yamadas learn to get along and live with each other. Chi slowly accepts the Yamadas as his new family, and she and Yohei get along very much like siblings. They play together and even compete for toys and food. It’s not all fun and games though, especially with Mom and Dad. Mom tortures Chi with a bath, and scolds her when Chi tries out her claws on the couch. Dad is worse, taking Chi to the vet, which earns him her scorn for several days after. It is sweet to see how the parents come to accept Chi as well. Dad is saddened by Chi avoiding him after the vet visit, and Mom takes Yohei to search for Chi when she gets out and can’t find her way home.

There is a lot of humor in this title, and much of it comes from Chi being a kitten and doing kitten-y things. From her liking the plastic bag more than the toys that came in it to chasing super bouncy balls, to playing with crumbled paper, Chi’s sheer joy is infectious and hard not to smile at. Of course, the not so nice things that happen to her can be funny as well. Her reaction to her introduction to dogs, cars and the hair dryer made me laugh out loud. A lot of this has to do with Kanata-sensei’s art. She puts so much expression into Chi, that even without the translation, one could figure out whether she was happy, sad, scared or angry.

I can’t speak for the accuracy of Vertical’s translations, but I think the localization is done very well. Chi’s speaking is portrayed with a little bit of baby speak, often making her sound like Tweety Bird, as she says things like “Fwuffy” and “gowing”. Fortunately, it’s used sparingly, so it doesn’t distract the reader as much as it could. I also like how Chi’s cat speech is also varied. She doesn’t just say “meow”. Her cat vocabulary also includes “miya”, “mew”, and “meowr” among others, giving the impression of different inflections, depending on her mood.

The art for this title is rather toonish, with the characters being drawn simply and without a lot of detail. Chi’s cuteness can not be denied whether it’s her usual wide-eyed expression as she goes exploring or it’s her narrowed-eyed, fluffed out fur when she’s upset. The simplicity of the art makes it easier to appeal to a non-manga audience, much like it’s subject matter should. Vertical’s editions are in color, done in a watercolor style, giving the books a gentle feel.

While Chi’s Sweet Home was originally serialized in a men’s magazine in Japan, it really feels like an all ages title. Chi is just so cute, it’s hard to imagine a child, male or female being able to resister her charms. The chapters are simple and short, but also fun and sweet. Cat lovers will melt for this title too, as Chi reminds them how much fun kittens are, even if they do eventually grow up to be cats. Even non-cat people can get something out of this series. They can see why cat lovers love their cats so much, even if they don’t get it.

Funny, and heart-warming, Chi’s Sweet Home is a title the whole family can enjoy,and is easily one of the best titles to come out this year.

Straight Up Great Titles

I was sorely tempted by the last Rightstuf sale of Viz titles, but RL is kicking my checkbook with back-to-school stuff for the kids. Their newest sale is on Vertical titles, and even though I can’t really dive into this sale either, that doesn’t mean I can’t try to convince the rest of you to spend YOUR hard-earned money!

Veritcal has really been doing a good job of building a quality and diverse selection of titles. Sci-fi, action, horror, drama and even cuteness can be found in their growing selection. Here are just a few of my favorites that I would gladly recommend.

Andromeda Stories – I really enjoyed this sci-fi story, that one the surface appears to be a story of man vs. machine, but by the end becomes something different. The first volume can seem a little slow and without direction, but once you get into volume 2, the ride really starts bringing you to a satisfactory end in volume 3.

Black Jack – You hear people say how great this series is (including me) but you really don’t get it until you read it. There’s just something about the rogue doctor that’s really appealing. Whether it’s the comeuppance that he likes to deal the legitimate medical community, the rights he wrongs or the hard-as-steel surgeon with a heart of gold, Black Jack is a great character and the stories Tezuka puts him in makes any volume of this series a great read.

Dororo – Staying with the Tezuka theme, Dororo is an action series that is criminally short at 3 volumes. It easily could have gone 10.  Hyakkimaru’s and Dororo’s adventures in feudal Japan are filled with action as Hyakkimaru battles demons to regain his stolen body parts and some of the usual Tezuka examination of the human condition.

Chi’s Sweet Home – One of Vertical’s newest titles, Chi is one of the funnest titles you will read, all the more if you’re a cat lover. Flipped and in color, watch as Chi first wins the hearts of the Yohei and the Yamada family and then as she wins yours! The stories are short, but can be laugh out loud funny. Kanata’s art is cute without being cutesy. One of the best new titles of the year.

Cute Dogs/Cute Pups – These are part of Vertical’s craft line. Both books feature cute dogs and puppies, and even accessories for them that you can make on your own. The designs are fairly simple and everything is hand-sewn. Kids 10 and up can enjoy making these as well as the crafty dog lover.

Guin Saga/The Seven Magi – If you miss fantasy stories with big burly men with leopard heads than the Guin Saga is for you! The original novels tell a sweeping story of Guin and the two twins he is protecting from the evil Mongauli empire. The manga, a side story set sometime after the first five novels has some great art, and a fast-moving story that can feel a little daunting without knowing much about the world, but still enjoyable none the less.

Twin Spica – This coming of age space story has some strong characters and great drama. It looks at the realities of becoming an astronaut with Asumi, and upbeat and earnest girl who has dreamt of going to the stars ever since she was little. The first volume really draws you in and a great story and some flashback short stories that have tragic elements without become melodramatic. I can’t NOT recommend this title highly.

These are just a few of the titles from Vertical that I’ve read and have enjoyed. What are some of your favorites, or are you looking forward to buying?

This Week in Manga: 7/17-7/23/10

Twitter This

The week started out with a bang, and just kept on going! Seven Seas started it off with license announcements on Twitter in anagram form with one clue. All three were guessed correctly by ANN and confirmed by Tuesday, the day of the last announcement. The three titles are ToraDora, Amnesia Labyrinth, and A Certain Scientific Railgun. Two of these titles have anime tie-ins, with ToraDora having already released its first disc earlier this month, and Funimation just announcing the license of A Certain Scientific Railgun at this past Anime Expo. Amnesia Labyrinth also has ties to a previously published work. Nagaru Tanigawa, who is the author of the Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi light novels, is also the author of this series. Most of these titles came from ASCII Media Works, which Seven Seas seems to be mining. I’m definitely interested in Amnesia Labyrinth, and not just because it’s by the author of the Haruhi books, which I’ve enjoyed the manga of, but it’s also a mystery. And we can’t get enough of those!

One Manga Down, 1000 Manga To Go

Wednesday, One Manga, the top scanlation aggregator site on the web announced it would be taking down ALL manga, not just titles licensed/owned by coalition members. This was quite a surprise as visitors were greeted with a pop-up message explaining the situation before they even got to any titles. They intend to keep their forums up and running, but it remains to be seen if anyone will still come around with all the manga gone. Reactions to the shut down have been varied and quite frankly extreme in some cases, as a perusal of the comments section of the manga.about.com article shows:

I have not stopped crying since i heard about this yesterday.. what am i going to do from now on?.. my reason to live from one Friday to the next is now gone.. i am deeply saddened.

What am i gonna do with the 36 series’ that I’m curetly reading right now? Im addicted. At 13 I fail to see anything more important than manga right now.. I seriously feel like someone close to me has a fatal disease, and that person is slowly crawling to their death.

Yeah…okay. I love manga too, but it’s not the be all, end all of my life. I was disappointed when some of my favorite titles were cancelled thanks to Kodansha yanking them from Tokyopop, but the world didn’t end because of it. And the world won’t end now without One Manga or 1000 Manga, or any of the other aggregators that may go down. I know teens like to be melodramatic and all, but sheesh! It’s just manga guys!

What Goes Down Must Come Up

The same day that One Manga announces its demise, Square Enix announces a new digital manga store for NA and France.  The site will go live in the Fall, but a preview with the first chapters of Fullmetal Alchemist, Black Butler, Soul Eater and O-Parts Hunter (666 Satan) are available right now for download. They are also running demos at their booth at SDCC. This is an interesting development, since Square Enix doesn’t license to just one company here in the US. The four titles mentioned are split between Yen Press and Viz, but both manga publishers have said they are working with Square Enix in this endeavour. No price has been set yet, but it is nice to another publisher not only making titles available online, but to also be portable.

SDCC is Here!

That right, the San Diego Comic Con started this week. And it started off at a run. Wednesday is dubbed Preview Night, where the exhibit hall is open in the evening, and Vertical wasted no time in announcing a license and the first official one of the con. They will be releasing Lychee Light Club, by Usamaru Furuya, who is also the author of the highly anticipated 51 Ways to Save Her, which was announced at last SDCC by CMX, and cancelled before the first volume could be released. It’s a single volume and is about some students at an all boys school who create a robot to find beautiful women but run into a problem when the robot become sentient.

The first official day of the con brought more licenses. At the Bandai Entertainment panel, Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens was announced. Not too surprising, since it was a cult hit on the internet and the anime has already been released. Top Shelf, a comics publisher announced it would be releasing Cigarette Girl, a collection of short stories from an early artist of the gekiga movement, Masahiko Matsumoto. There were several manga related panels that ANN covered; Manga For Grown Ups, Best and Worst Manga 2010, and Manga: Lost in Translation.

Friday brought the Yen Press Panel, which had more new licenses to announce. Aron’s Absurd Armada, High School of the Dead, Higurashi: When They Cry: Demon Exposing Arc, and Otoyome-Gatari: The Bride’s Story. High School of the Dead is another no brainer as its anime was licensed and announced at Anime Expo. Fans were happy to hear about Otoyome-Gatari. It’s the new title from Kaoru Mori, the mangaka of Emma. It sounds like it with get the Twilight treatment with a hardback, larger size treatment.

Yen also finally revealed the fate of Yen Plus. It has its own website which has gone live with a beta. Most of the titles up right now are Yen’s original titles; Maximum Ride, Nightschool, Gossip Girl, and the first 2 chapters of Daniel X. Two Korean titles from the print magazine are there now, Time and Again and Jack Frost, and a special short story, Haunted House Call from the creator of Hollow Fields, Madeleine Rosca. There are no Japanese titles at the moment, but if you go back up one story you may see why for at least two of them. The cost will be $2.99 a month, paid by Paypal subscription, and will keep the last two recent issues available.  This is looking like a good deal and the reader on the computer isn’t bad. It’s not flash-based, so the reader may be friendly for mobile devices. Some have said that teens will be left out because of the online payment, but any parents who refuse their kids a $2.99 investment for them to read is doing them a great disservice.

Manga related panels included The Future of Manga with Jason Thompson and Dallas Middaugh was on Publishing Comics representing Del Rey. Del Rey didn’t have a panel at the show this year and with the news of Ali Kokmen, the marketing manager who did a lot of to get Del Rey Manga going being laid off, makes more real the speculation that Del Rey is winding down their manga division. Sony held a panel on their adaptation of the Tokyopop published manhwa Priest, and Moto Hagio had a focus panel where she was also presented CCI’s Inkpot award.

NYT Best Seller List

It’s that time again, so let’s look at what’s going on with this week’s list of  best sellers. And a check of the Hardback list shows…What?! No Twilight at #1? Who’s this green dude that’s taken the first three spots, leaving Twilight to come in at #4? Bahhhh.  Over on the manga list, Naruto vol 48 retakes it’s #1 spot from Ouran High School Host Club vol 14, which falls to #2. Vampire Knight vol 10 moves back up to #3 with Black Butler vol 2 right behind at #4. New comer Black Lagoon vol 9 debuts at #5 while The Last AirBender falls another 2 to #6. Black Butler vol 1 moves back up one to #7 while another debut, Inuyasha vol 50 arrivals at #8. Soul Eater vol 3 is another newbie arriving at #9 while One Piece vol 54 holds on but falls 7 to #10. Viz hold a majority of 6/10 on the list with Yen Press’ strongest titles holding 3/10. Black Lagoon is a surprise as a more adult title, but is very welcome addition. It would be nice to see more adult titles taking on the massive teen machines of Naruto and Vampire Knight.

NYT Best Sellers: Second Opinion

A lot of people question the New York Times Best Seller List for its accuracy. They never full explain where they get their numbers from, so there’s plenty of doubt about how real they are. One person to not only feel that way, but does something about it Matt Blind of Rocket Bomber. He compiles his own list and explains exactly where the numbers come from. So, here’s a comparison of the this week’s lists:

  1. Naruto vol 48                                                                                              1.  Naruto vol 48
  2. Ouran High School Host Club vol 14                                                    2. Ouran High School Host Club vol 14
  3. Vampire Knight vol 10                                                                              3. Vampire Knight vol 10
  4. Black Butler vol 2                                                                                       4.  Hellsing vol 10
  5. Black Lagoon vol 9                                                                                    5. Maximum Ride vol 1
  6. Last Air Bender                                                                                          6. Naruto vol 47
  7. Black Butler vol 1                                                                                       7. Maximum Ride vol 2
  8. Inuyasha vol 50                                                                                          8. Bleach vol 31
  9. Soul Eater vol 3                                                                                          9. One Piece vol 54
  10. One Piece vol 54                                                                                      10. Negima! vol 26

It’s an interesting comparison when seen side by side. The top three are the same, but Maximum Ride is missing from the NYT, and Black Butler is missing from RB. Interesting exchange, but from same company. Viz still holds 6 spots, while Yen is down to 2. Adult comics still get their representation on th RB with Hellsing, but there’s no Last Air Bender. It will be interesting to continue to do these comparison and see if/how things change between them.

This Week At Manga Village

What I’m Reading

  • Black Butler vol 2
  • Fairy Nagivator Runa vol 1
  • Dramacon vol 3