This week I check out the Weekly Wish List, New manga app news, new titles on Crunchyroll and the Top 10 Department. Then I throw Viz some beads for their new license announcements.
What wonderful news to come home to! Viz Media has licensed Master Keaton the one manga from Naoki Urasawa that I’ve wanted ever since I first heard about it. It combines two of my most favorite things in the world into one title; mysteries and archaeology! I mean, how awesome is it to have a detective who can solve cases and is an archaeologist, always struggling to uncover the truth.
I didn’t think we’d ever get this title licensed in English. It had a few hurdles to get over for licenses today; it’s from the 1990s and is over 10 volumes. Then there was a disagreement over credits for the story, which actually sounded pretty petty of Urasawa to demand his name appear bigger than the original writer. But it looks like that problem has been solved, and Urasawa’s name is now known in the US. His work will sell no matter how old it is.
Another thing that will make this a big seller is that it hasn’t been scanlated by anyone beyond the first few chapters. Trust me, I’ve looked. The only way to enjoy this series previously was the anime licensed by Geneon back in 2003-04. I was lucky enough to be able to pick them up at Rightstuf. With this being the first time the manga is available in English in any format, that will guarantee sales.
It looks like Viz’s edition will be an omnibus of some sort as the original run was 18 volumes and Viz is soliciting this as 12. As part of the Viz Signature line, it is getting the deluxe treatment with 18 color pages , and will retail for $19.99 US. I don’t care. This is a series I have to own, and will pre-order. If only we didn’t have to wait until December! I want my Master Keaton noooowwwwwww!
This week I have out regular Departments Weekly Wish List and the Top 10, check out news stories after new titles from Yen Press, Viz Media and Kodansha Comics, and look at four new titles from 2013 that I was surprised I liked.
- Weekly Wish List
- In The News
- Top Ten Department
- Four Surprises of 2013
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Shojo Beat, Viz Media’s romance and drama imprint has a fun surprise for fans of Arina Tanemura. They have available quick flash games based on the manga Mistress Fortune and The Legend of Princess Sakura.
The Mistress Fortune game is a Whack-a-mole style game where you have to hit the EBE’s popping out of holes, but you don’t want to hit the bunnies! There is also a special attack when you fill up a status bar which can be used to hit all the EBEs on the screen. You get a rank at the end. I made Standard Angel on my first try.
The Princess Sakura game is a basic platformer. You control Princess Sakura with the left and right arrows, up to jump and space bar to strike the enemy monsters that inhabit the level. There is a spell, Thunder Strike that will freeze the monsters for a few minutes and a piece to pick up. I generally suck at platformers so after a few tries I could only get to level two. But it’s simple enough for any one to play and if you have more skill or patience, you can see how high the levels go.
I don’t know if these are temporary or if they’re going to be around for a while, so check them out while you can!
This week I check out some new stories, regular departments Weekly Wish List and top 10 at Vizmanga.com and the New York Times, and for Valentines Day I features some titles with couples that aren’t so lovey-dovey.
Kaya Satozuka prides herself on being an excellent secretary and a consummate professional, so she doesn’t even bat an eye when she’s re-assigned to the office of her company’s difficult director, Kyohei Tohma. He’s as prickly-and hot-as rumors paint him, but Kaya is unfazed…until she discovers that he’s a vampire!!
I’m picky about the vampire romances I read. Most I’ve read have been hit or miss. I hated Vampire Knight, but loved Millennium Snow. What sparked my interest most about Midnight Secretary was that it was a josei, a manga written for older women. It features not a high school girl, but a career woman and all the problems that come with working in an office. This part appealed to more than the romance.
Well, maybe. I’m not really sure how I feel about Kaya and Kyohei as a couple. As separate people, I can see why they think and act as they do. Kaya is very smart and capable, and doesn’t want to be judged based on her appearance. This is exactly what Kyohei does at first, but she proves to him that looks aren’t everything. Even after she learns his secret, she doesn’t flinch or back down from her work, which is what gets her into the compromising situation of starting to have feelings for him.
Kyohei starts off as an obnoxious jerk, and really doesn’t veer from that course. He is a vampire forced to live in the human world because of his mother’s decision to stay with his father. He is bitter about this and takes it out on everyone around him. It’s not right, but it is an understandable thing to do. He refused to admit he cares for any humans, and gives his brother, the Senior Director Masaki a hard time, but does show he cares. He chastised his brother for being soft, and tells him to learn to use people since he will lead the company someday. Kyohei does the “dirty work” so Masaki can keep his hands clean. He’s rude and cold, but cares in his own way.
Usually I like romances where one or both of the partners have a bit of a “bite” to their personality. I like more banter and snarky remarks flying back and forth, but that’s not really what happens here. Kyohei is more abusive of Kaya, dismissing her coldly and leaving her to think of her own reasons for his actions. I did like that both had to discover their feelings for the other, especially Kyohei. He couldn’t believe he would have feelings for a human, but a frank conversation between he and Kaya did finally get him to admit his desire for her blood had more to do with his feelings than he thought. I’ll admit, I’m still waffling on them as a couple. I’ll have to see what happens in the next volume.
One thing I really appreciated was how Kaya’s job as a secretary wasn’t dismissed as simple or fluff. She is seen not only keeping Kyohei’s appointments, but also organizing the materials he needs for meetings and even accompanying him to outside functions such as dinners. Kyohei appreciates her work and skill, respecting her professionally before things start to get personal. I also liked how she showed the President of Erde Company, a member of the Tohma Group, how useful a secretary could be to help the whole company work more efficiently. So much attention is put on things such as sales, that it the support they get from the back office is often overlooked. I liked that it got some acknowledgement.
I’m on the fence about Midnight Secretary. There are a lot of elements I like in it, but I’m having a hard time seeing Kaya and Kyohei as a couple, and as a romance, it’s a major component of the story. But there is enough here that I am willing to give it a few more volumes. If Kyohei could be less of an arrogant jerk, at least to Kaya, I would probably like it more.
Review copies provided by publisher.
A condensed retelling of the beloved samurai tale–one of the best-selling manga series of all time—released in conjunction with a new live-action movie.
During the violent upheaval of the Bakumatsu era, Hitokiri Battosai was a feared and ruthless assassin. But now that the Meiji Restoration has begun to heal the wounds of civil war, Battosai has taken up a new name…and a new calling! He is now Himura Kenshin , a rurouni wanderer who has vowed to only draw his sword to protect those in need. But not everyone is pleased with Kenshin’s new direction, and enemies from his dark past have vowed to bring him down!
By Nobuhiro Watsuki
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Historical Fantasy
It took a while, but I finally read all of Rurouni Kenshin last year. With a live action movie having been released last year in Japan, a re-imagining of the manga was created by original creator Nobuhiro Watsuki. This can sometimes lead to new and interesting directions for the title and characters to go. Too bad that’s not what happened here.
It uses the same characters, but the story has been turned around a bit. Himura Kenshin is still a rurouni who stumbles upon a man masquerading as the Hitokiri Battosai, but this time it is during a tournament run by a merchant Takeda Kanryu. He is buying out the rights to dojos and using the leaders of them in the tournaments with the promise that they can buy their land rights back. Kaoru Kamiya is of course one of the participants. Yasuhiro works for Takeda, and is used as a reverse hostage to keep Kaoru in line. Kenshin gets involved of course, and defeats Takeda, who then hires eighteen assassins to kill Kenshin. In this volume Sanosuke and Saito are introduced with their stories greatly compressed. It also includes a chapter zero, which tells a tale of Kenshin before he arrives in Tokyo.
The volume is rather lean for a shonen jump title, coming in at 142 pages. I read all of these chapters in Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha where they ran monthly. I didn’t care for this re-imagining then, and I still don’t now. I don’t have anything against re-imagining titles in general. I like to check out remakes, and can enjoy them and the originals separately. This new Rurouni Kenshin rubbed me the wrong way. Everyone seems angrier this time around. The art is also much sharper and more spartan. I didn’t enjoy reading it or looking at it. This is definitely not the “meiji swordsman romance” and is much more a harder action title. I’m sure this will please a lot of the Shonen Jump crowd, but as I’ve grown tired of all but the best of shonen, it doesn’t please me. If you think Kenshin would have been better with more of an edge and less of the character development, then this is the title for you.
Review copy provided by publisher.
This week I check out some news and regular features Weekly Wish List, Vizmanga.com update and the New York Times Bestseller List. I then rant about a reviewer’s comments about Wedding Peach.
This week I take a look back at 2013 and some of the trends in manga that were seen over the year; What became popular, who started and who stopped publishing and comment on what I’d like see more of in 2014. I also have regular features the Weekly Wish List, Vizmanga.com update and the New York Times Bestseller List.
Going digital can be a big decision, especially if you are like me, and still like to hold paper in your hands. But there are times when buying digital is an advantage, as is when a publisher, like Viz, has a big backlist of titles that are lengthy or difficult to find. One thing you can say about Viz, they have been working hard to make their backlist titles available again in digital. With Viz having their 20% off holiday sale, now is a good time to catch up on some older titles you may have missed out on.
Viz really made a name for itself with Shonen Jump and bringing over many of the well-known and loved titles from that magazine. Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z is probably the most beloved series to come out of Weekly Shonen Jump. The first half is action and comedy, while the second half all action that set the standard for fighting shonen manga for years to come. It is 42 volumes, but if you haven’t checked it out yet, what are you waiting? Rurouni Kenshin was another series that helped establish shonen manga in the US. This title brought both men and women, with it’s heavy action, historical backdrop and hints of romance that is realized in the end. It is 28 volumes over 3 story arcs. Yu Yu Hakusho came on the heels of Rurouni Kenshin in the world of anime on Cartoon Network, and was one of the debut titles in the US Shonen Jump. It is a mix of supernatural and action, with a punk lead and an ensemble cast to please any taste. It’s shorter at only 19 volumes. Shaman King was another debut title in Shonen Jump, and is also a supernatural action series. It veers more into the ghost and spirits side of the supernatural, and has a health dose of comedy to balance the more serious action. It’s a healthy 32 volumes.
Hikaru no Go is a very different kind of shonen, as it’s battles take place on the Go board instead of an arena. It’s smart and intense writing matched with beautiful art keeps is a must for any gaming manga fan. It’s 23 volumes and worth every one. Black Cat is an action title that skirts the supernatural, but is more about being true to yourself and following the path you’ve made despite where others think you should go. It’s the shortest, at only 20 volumes. Almost all of these titles are complete at vizmanga.com, except for Black Cat, and Yu Yu Hakusho which has been coming out for past several weeks and making the top 5 titles every week.
Viz isn’t one to ignore the lovers or drama and romance. Over the years they have brought out a lot of shojo titles. Basara is a historical title that thrusts a young woman into the role of her brother to protect the oppressed while gaining allies against her enemies. A late 90s-early 2000s title, volumes for this series are hard to come by, and later volumes can go for big bucks on eBay or Amazon. This digital release puts the series back in a more reasonable price range. It is 27 volumes. Boys Over Flowers is another early shojo title. It is a poor girl against the elite boys story, though the girl is no shrinking violet and stands up to the boys. It been made into live dramas all around Asia and even has an adaptation coming out in America. It is a whopping 37 volumes. From Far Away is a big hit with librarians, who like to recommend it for tween girls looking for action and romance. It features a girl from modern-day being swept away into a fantasy world of adventure. She is rescued by a boy who holds a great evil that she can unleash, binding the pair together. It is only 14 volumes. Fushigi Yugi is the title that started the girls swept to a fantasy world plot and is often the one most other titles are compared to. A teenage girls is pulled through a book to a world where she is believed to a priestess to one of the four gods and must find her seven warriors to save the kingdom before she can go home. It is available in the VizBIG edition in digital, which was a high quality three-in-one release. It only 6 volumes, but are double the price.
Hana Kimi is a girl disguises as a boy to get close to the boy of her dreams at an all boys school, and has to keep her gender a secret. It’s got lots of humor using the gender-bending a lot, though is more a romance than comedy. It is 23 volumes. Here is Greenwood is another cross dressing all boys school story, but this time, it’s a boy cross dressing as a girl. The boy lead is trying to escape heartache at home, and is thrown into the craziness that is Greenwood dormitory. It is another early aughts series that can be difficult to find volumes of, though it ended after only 9. Please Save My Earth is a rare sci-fi/romance story. A group of teenagers start having the same, recurring dreams of being alien scientists observing the Earth. It deals with love and fate and is another title that is difficult to get volumes of. It is 21 volumes. Red River is a historical romance for the older teen to young adult. It features another modern girl drawn to past to fulfill a destiny, but this time, the past is ancient Mesopotamia, which is in conflict with Egypt. It’s romance is more mature and throws plenty of action. It’s 28 volumes.
There are so many more titles available at Vizmanga.com, but these are taste of older titles that you might not have heard or known about. Many of these are from the 90s and the art might seem a little dated, but the stories are strong, with some of them being the basis for whole new sub-genres. There’s a lot her to take in, so take your time in checking them out. They all feature first full chapters to give you an idea what the stories and art is like. The 20% off sale lasts until December 31, 2013, so don’t take too long. But definitely give some of these titles a try.
Seasons Greetings! This week there are regular features the Weekly Wish List, the Vizmanga.com update and the New York Times Bestseller List. And keeping with the season, I review Sweet Rein from Viz Media.
Nisekoi: False Love started as a digital only title for Weekly Shonen Jump and became a surprise hit for Viz Media. The digital volumes are consistent best sellers on the Vizmanga.com site, hanging on for several weeks, a feat usually reserved for big titles like Naruto, Bleach, Black Bird and Demon Love Spell. Now, the gang of Nisekoi are breaking through the digital barrier and coming to a bookshop near you. The print version of volume 1 will be available January 7, 2014, bringing with it the promise of making the New York Times Best Seller List. Find more details after the break.