Since Shojo manga doesn’t tend to get the attention shonen does, its encouraging when it gets a big update like this, especially to a site mainly known for US comics that doesn’t cater to feminine tastes. There are a lot of really good titles in this update. I would personally recommend Library Wars: Love and War, Otomen, and Skip Beat. Please Save My Earth and Ouran High School Host Club are on my list to check out as well. They all should be on yours too if you haven’t. Most of them are complete and there’s no waiting for the next volume.
Taichi Hiraga-Keaton, the son of a Japanese zoologist and a noble English woman, is an insurance investigator known for his successful and unorthodox methods of investigation. Educated in archaeology and a former member of the SAS, Master Keaton uses his knowledge and combat training to uncover buried secrets, thwart would-be villains, and pursue the truth… When a life insurance policy worth one million pounds takes Master Keaton to the Dodecanese islands of Greece, what will he discover amidst his scuffles with bloodthirsty thieves and assassins?
Master Keaton Volume 1
By Naoki Urasawa; Story by Hokusei Katsushika, Takashi Nagasaki
Publisher: Viz Medial
Age Rating: 16+
Master Keaton is one of those licenses that was always talked about but never dreamed it would become reality. Or maybe, dreaming was all fans of the series could do. A 24 episode anime was released here by Pioneer/Geneon back in 2003, but that was as much of the story as fans could hope to get. I was so thrilled when Viz Media announced it last year. It is one of the few titles I will pre-order, sight unseen.
I almost had my doubts at first. Urasawa has been hit and miss with me. I loved Pluto, but didn’t care for Monster or the latter half of 20th Century Boys. But I am happy to say I was not disappointed with Master Keaton. What initially drew me to the series was the title character, Taichi Hiraga-Keaton. He is both an archaeologist and an insurance investigator, combining to things I love; archaeology and mysteries. I really liked Keaton as the absent-minded professor type. He is easy-going, and a bit of a dreamer, but behind this non-threatening facade, is a keen eye and a sharp wit. Even though it is a convenient plot point, I love his quirk of taking seemingly random things that end up helping him get through his current adventure.
Most of the chapters are stand alone cases, with a few multi-chapter stories. Sometimes Keaton gets a case due to his knowledge of archaeology, but in almost every case his skills as a former S.A.S. member and survival skills trainer come into play. Both these skills mesh nicely in the two-part story “Hot Sands, Black and White” and “Qehriman of the Desert.” Not every chapter is a case. This volume also introduces Keaton’s daughter Yuriko and his father. These stories are more about his relationships with his family. He helps out Yuriko when she has problems with a teacher at school, and a girl who thinks his father is also her father. These chapters were just as enjoyable as the more action-oriented chapters. They give more insight to Keaton’s character. “Journey With a Lady” was another wonderful chapter where Keaton’s patience is tested, and ultimately rewarded.
This series is from 16 years ago, but the art is still very Urasawa. The characters are recognizable as his work, and match well with the story. Urasawa’s more technical skills are put to the test as he has to draw, old ruins and life-like statues to fit the archaeological side of the story, and he does it well. The backgrounds are very detailed too, giving the feeling of the place Keaton is in, whether it is England, Italy or the Taklamakan Desert.
Master Keaton is a great series. The stories are well written, and very engaging. I didn’t want to put it down once I started. The investigations are readily solved, with all the piece set in place before hand. There is plenty of action and mystery to keep fans of both happy. I certainly am. I highly recommend it.
Back in September it was announced that Hiroshi Shiibashi’s latest original manga, Illegal Rare was ending, and the final two volumes were to be released in October and November. Shiibashi is the creator of Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, a series about Yakuza yokai and ran for 25 volumes.
Illegal Rare is another ensemble series about the supernatural. Humans and supernatural creatures live together in the same world, but these “Rares” are being hunted to extinction. To protect them, the Illegal Rare Counter-Protection Unit was formed. It is championed by Fukumen, a police officer that wears a mask. He goes to Axl, a member of the very rare and highly hunted Black Vampyr clan, to help him. In the first chapter, he rescues a mermaid, Mirror and she joins the unit as well.
Illegal Rare is similar to Nura. It has a big cast, and features supernatural monsters. The monsters have branched out beyond the traditional Japanese monsters, yokai, and now include western monsters such as vampires, mermaids, and werewolves. The lead is a good-looking monster, and the main female is timid by loyal to the lead. Maybe it was too similar to Nura, and that’s why it didn’t succeed. I liked Nura, especially as it got into the later volumes. It’s too bad this series didn’t get the same chance. With Nura‘s final volume coming out in February, maybe Viz will pick up this series as well. I hope so. I’d really like to read it, even only digitally.
Viz announces lots of new debuts in digital including digital editions of print titles as well as new additions to the Viz Select line, all former Tokyopop titles. They are offering more bundles, mostly starter sets this time featuring classic manga, Signature titles, and mature manga. All have good titles and at $20, they’re a good deal if you looking to sample.
I love to do crafts and have dabbled in quite a few, including beading. I’ve made mostly earrings back when my eyes could see the tiny beads and my more nimble hands could hold them and string them on the needle and thread. Now, I am more content to read about it.
Otokomae! Bead Club is a one shot volume by Kyousuke Motomi. Her name is well-known among western shojo manga fans. Two of her titles, Beast Master and Dengeki Daisy were licensed and released in the US by Viz Media. Her newest title, QQ Sweeper has also just been picked up, with the first volume out later this year. This title is an earlier series first published in 2004 in Shogakukan’s Betsucomi magazine. It ran for three chapters, and the compiled volume includes a side story and extra.
The story follows Oikawa Ibuki, a high school girl who has just transferred schools so she can start over. She is very strong and versed in the martial arts, but she wants to be more gentile and feminine, and find a boy who is stronger than her. On her way to her first day, she meets Takumi Urabe, a mysterious boy who carries a shovel and seems able to command crows. In her introduction, she claims to like to do beading, and is then introduced to the beading club, an eccentric group of kids who all share a secret. And Ibuki has just been made a member!
I was drawn to Otokomae! Bead Club just because of the title, but when I learned who the mangaka was, this title became an instant want. I’m really surprised it hasn’t been licensed by Viz yet. It’s only one volume, and features a lot of elements that have proven popular in other titles; a boy who commands crows, a girl who is really tough be wants to be seen as gentle. Throw in Motomi’s fun characters and playful art, and it’s got to be a sure seller! Maybe if QQ Sweeper does well, we can get this title as well.
I have been waiting for this series since is was announced in Japan. I’ve always had a fascination with the War of the Roses, and with Richard III being in the news lately, my interest in the much maligned monarch has grown. I’m really interested in seeing this mangaka’s take on the character and the time period.
I already gave my two cents on these two titles over the weekend, so check out that post. Otherwise, here’s the official announcement.
There has been plenty of new titles announced for Viz’s Shonen Jump line, especially with the new Jump Start for Weekly Shonen Jump, but this week Viz Media let Shojo Beat shine with the announcement of two new titles to join the drama-based line.
The first title announced was Bloody Mary. This supernatural series is about 400-year-old vampire “Bloody” Mary who has tired of life and just wants to die. He has been searching for one who would inherit the “Blood of Maria”, that would give them the power to kill him. He finally finds an exorcist who has inherited the power, but he doesn’t know how to use it. But because he possess the power, he becomes the target of lots of other vampires. Mary makes a deal with Maria. He will be his body-guard until Maria can figure out how to use his power and end Mary’s life. The series is only four volumes so far, and will be published quarterly starting in December 2015. This title has two potential strikes against it. One, it’s about vampires. I really am done with the whole vampire thing. Two, the series is a shounen ai/BL series. It’s only four volumes in, and so far the story has pushed the shounen ai and not stumbled into full BL territory. So far. I’m more tolerate of shounen ai that of BL. I don’t mind the flirting and the tension, so as long it keeps on that track I might like it.
Honey So Sweet was the second series and is the kind of teen romance one would expect from Shojo Beat. It is about Nao Kogure, who in Middle School left an umbrella and bandages for injured delinquent Taiga Onise. They meet again in High School, and while Nao doesn’t want anything to do with violent Taiga, he surprises her with a bouquet of flowers and request that she date him. It’s a bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold series, but that’s not so bad. It’s a romantic comedy about love and friendship with an ensemble high school cast. The art looks cute too. Viz has done well with this genre with titles such as Kimi ni Todoke and Strobe Edge, so the chances of this one being just as entertaining is very good. There are six volumes available and this series will also be published quarterly starting in January 2016. I’m more inclined to try out this series as I’m more attracted to the gentle romances than vampire dramas.
Both of these titles will be available in both print and digital as same day releases.
Back in January, the nominees for the 8th Manga Taisho awards were announced. This year there are 14 titles, and again, there are several titles manga readers will be familiar with. Koe no Katachi, A Silent Voice has been announced for print from Kodansha Comics, and was streamed digitally on Crunchyroll. Maho Tsukai no Yome, The Ancient Magus’ Bride has been licensed by Seven Seas Entertainment, and Boku no Hero Academia, My Hero Academy has just been announced by Viz Media to run simultaneous with the Japanese releases. The rest of the nominees include Innocent, Osama-tachi no Viking, Kakukaku Shikajika, Kasane, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, Kodomo wa Wakatte Agenai, Dimitri Tomkins, Blue Giant, Houseki no Kuni, Ballroom e Youkoso, and Boku dake ga Inai Machi.
Several of these titles look interesting, the problem with most them being they are seinen. One of the titles that isn’t and should be a no-brainer for license is Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. This comedy series follows Sakura Chiyo who tries to confess to her crush Nozaki, a shoujo manga artist, but instead he asks her to help him with his manga. The anime of this series was streamed here and was well received. It’s from Square Enix, so Yen Press really needs to get on licensing this one!
Ballroom e Youkoso is one of those unusual sports manga that might make it here, especially with the popularity of Dancing with the Stars. The story follows middle school student Fujita Tatara who has no goal in life until he is saved from some delinquents by a mysterious man. He leads him to a dance studio where Fujita becomes inspired to join in dancesport. This shonen could be the one to break the sports manga curse. This is from Kodansha.
Innocent is a historical series about an executioner during the French Revolution, while Osama-tachi no Viking follows a genius hacker and a spoiled rich kid who join forces. Blue Giant appears to be about a school-aged jazz musician who plays the tenor saxophone. All three of these are seinen titles that Viz would have to be convinced to look at. Houseki no Kuni, Kingdom of Gems is a fantasy series about a new life form known as Gems who have to fight to keep from being made into decorations. This seinen series is from Kodansha.
Since three of these nominees have already be licensed, there’s a good chance some of these others will be too. I was pretty good with predictions last year, when the two titles I highlighted ended up getting licensed, so I hope at least a couple of the titles I mentioned will get the nod.
The Manga Taisho Award nominees are nominated by bookstore staff in charge of their stores manga section. Manga titles released in 2014 and that are under 8 volumes are eligible for nomination. There will be second round of voting that will decide the winner, and will be announced later this year.
It’s a big Viz week with both their shonen and shojo titles as well as plenty of Pokémon from their kid imprint Perfect Square. Everyone else is slumming it with one volume each. Dark Horse has New Lone Wolf and Cub Vol 4, while Kodansha releases the 5th omnibus of xxxHolic. Whispered Words from One Peace Books and is a yuri series about a girl who is secretly in love with her best friend, but who isn’t her type. It keeps getting good word of mouth, so it might be worth picking up even with the higher price point
Viz’s avalanche of shonen and shojo is hard to escape. I recently re-read the first volume of Kamisama Kiss, and now I’m feeling the itch to binge read, but catching up will hurt the pocket-book with volume 17 coming out this week, even if it were available as an e-book! Rose lovers have two titles to choose from this week, with Kiss of the Rose Princess Vol 3 being released, but even more exciting, and a week early, is Requiem of the Rose King Vol 1. This historical shojo by Aya Kanno, the creator of Otomen, is based on Shakespeare’s play Richard III, and is about one of England’s most hated and most misunderstood monarchs. I so can’t wait to read it, but I wasn’t planning for it until next week! Now I have grabby hands!!
Full list per Diamond Distributors:
DARK HORSE COMICS
New Lone Wolf And Cub Volume 4 TP, $13.99
xxxHOLIC Omnibus Volume 5 TP, $19.99
ONE PEACE BOOKS
Whispered Words Volume 3 GN, $16.95
LBX The Super LBX Volume 4 GN, $9.99
Pokemon Adventures Volume 27 GN, $9.99
Pokemon XY Volume 2 GN, $4.99
07-Ghost Volume 15 GN, $9.99
Arata The Legend Volume 21 GN, $9.99
Claymore Volume 26 GN, $9.99
D.Gray-Man 3-In-1 Edition Volume 6 TP, $14.99
Dragon Ball 3-In-1 Edition Volume 8 TP, $14.99
Eyeshield 21 Volume 1 GN (New Printing), $9.99
Kamisama Kiss Volume 17 GN, $9.99
Kiss Of The Rose Princess Volume 3 GN, $9.99
Naruto Volume 69 GN, $9.99
Nisekoi False Love Volume 8 GN, $9.99
Oresama Teacher Volume 18 GN, $9.99
Ranma 1/2 2-In-1 Edition Volume 7 TP, $14.99
Requiem Of The Rose King Volume 1 GN, $9.99
Resident Evil Marhawa Desire Volume 3 GN, $12.99
Rin-Ne Volume 17 GN, $9.99
Seraph Of The End Vampire Reighn Volume 4 GN, $9.99
Skip Beat 3-In-1 Edition Volume 10 TP, $14.99
Terra Formars Volume 5 GN, $12.99
Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s Volume 7 GN, $9.99
Ultraman has been in a bit of a revival with the many incarnations of the TV series coming to DVD and streaming on Crunchyroll. This manga is a sequel to the first TV series, and just started in 2011, effectively updating the 1960s series for a 21st century audience. I’m really looking forward to seeing it later this summer.
My Hero Academia was already announced to have joined the Weeky Shonen Jump line up, but this new announcement makes the series available to more readers beyond the WSJ base. But with the simultaneous chapter releases, fans will have to wait until August to actually read what happens in between the first chapter and chapter 24, when it starts. Recaps are okay, but just not as good as the actual chapters.