Of the new titles Viz is adding this month, two were already published by them in print: Cheeky Angel and Honey Blood Tale Zero. Flower of the Deep Sleep and Glass Wings are license rescues from the Tokyopop days while Eureka Seven is a Bandai Manga rescue. We haven’t seen one of those in a while. The bundles this month are a continuation of their big Shonen titles, with the Shaman King bundle completing the series while the One Piece bundle covers the “Baroque Works” and “Alabasta” arcs, both good arcs. I’d also recommend the Yu-Gi-Oh! bundle. I thought the first arc was the best of the series.
Dark Horse Comics debuts a new manga this week that has had tongues a-waggin’! Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt is a manga adaptation of the anime by the same name. The mix of mature language and situations with cute and cartoony art will hit readers with right about of shock and humor and appeal to Dark Horse’s main demographic. To appeal to a different type of reader they are also releasing Drug and Drop Vol 2 this week. A continuation of Legal Drug, it features two hot guys solving supernatural problems. Another must for CLAMP fans, and a different kind of gaze for others.
The title I’m most interested in this week is Heroic Legend of Arslan Vol 3. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this series initially, but I should never have doubted Hiromu Arakawa. I loved the series right from the start and torn through the first two volumes. Waiting for the next one has been difficult, but it great to have more Arakawa art to love. I would really like to get the new Ranma 1/2 2-in-1 Editions, but space has really become a concern for me. Even 2-in-1s, which don’t take up as much space are still pretty hefty when it comes to bookshelf space, especially for a 36 volume series. I really wish Rumiko Takahashi would let her titles be released digitally legally. They are already out there, being read digitally with questionable quality and translation. Wouldn’t it be better to have more control with a legal release?
Full List per Diamond Distributors
DARK HORSE COMICS
Drug And Drop Volume 2 TP, $10.99
Panty And Stocking With Garterbelt TP, $9.99
Heroic Legend Of Arslan Volume 3 GN, $10.99
SEVEN SEAS ENTERTAINMENT
Dance In The Vampire Bund Part 2 Scarlet Order Volume 2 GN, $12.99
Lucifer And The Biscuit Hammer Volume 3 TP, $18.99
Love Stage Volume 1 GN, $12.99
07-Ghost Volume 16 GN, $9.99
Ranma 1/2 2-In-1 Edition Volume 8 TP, $14.99
With titles leaving Weekly Shonen Jump, it’s time for a new round of Jump Start! titles to run and see if they can make the cut here and as well as in Japan. Viz is starting out with just two titles so far. Welcome to Shika High Competitive Dance Club will start on May 11, while the second series, Devily Man will start two Mondays after, May 25. These titles are being simulpubed with the Japanese Weekly Shonen Jump, so there is precious little information about them.
Welcome to Shika High’s Competitive Dance Club is obviously about competitive dancing. This seems like a surprising subject to put into a shonen magazine. It seems more like a shojo title like Kodansha’s Let’s Dance a Waltz. But knowing what I do know about the serialization meetings at WSJ (thanks to Bakuman), this series must have something interesting about it to make it into the magazine. I’m curious to hear what it’s about. Devily Man has an old school/retro feel to it, based only on the glimpse of the art from Weekly Shonen Jump. Like a Toriyama and/or comedic feel to it. I can’t even begin to guess that this title is about, but the alien/demon looking guy looks rather happy, hence the comedic vibe.
I’ve got my hopes up that Welcome to Shika High’s Competitive Dance Club with be something good and clever. Dance manga can certainly use a boost. I’ll have to wait and see on Devily Man. The field of possibilities are just too wide for it. The issues will be available for $.99 if you don’t have a subscription but still want to read them.
Most of the manga that comes out is rated Teen and up, but there are still some titles that are rated for all ages. Perfect Square is Viz Media’s imprint for all such titles, and this week sees the release of one of the most anticipated of the year. Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past is an adaptation of the Nintendo Game Boy Advance game of the same name. It was serialized in Nintendo Power magazine, and has seen print since 1993. It’s been on Amazon’s best-selling manga list since it first announced in February as a pre-order. How will it do as an official release? Also from Viz is the deluxe edition of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 1 Phantom Blood Vol 2 which follows the adventures of the first Joseph Jostar. It’s pretty amazing the third part of this series, thought to be the best, barely sold 10 years ago, but the first part is not only selling incredibly well, it’s doing it as a hardcover at twice the price!
Two of Seven Seas Entertainment’s new titles are coming out this week. Ancient Magus’ Bride is one that a lot of fans have been looking forward to, including me. It’s a supernatural shonen romance and was nominated for the Manga Taisho award this year. The first has me interested, but the second has me excited to read it! Evergreen is by the creator of Tora Dora, also published by Seven Seas. It’s another shonen rom-com. I would be remiss if I didn’t give a plug to What Did You Eat Yesterday Vol 8 from Vertical Comics. This series is filled with such a sweet, honest relationship, it’s hard to not want to pick up the newest volume. Don’t let all the food porn scare you off.
Full List per Diamond Distributors
Tsubasa Omnibus Volume 4 GN, $19.99
Yamada Kun And The Seven Witches Volume 2 GN, $10.99
LBX Little Battlers Experience Volume 5 New Hope GN, $9.99
Legend Of Zelda A Link To The Past GN, $19.99
Pokemon Adventures Volume 28 GN, $9.99
SEVEN SEAS ENTERTAINMENT
Ancient Magus’ Bride Volume 1 GN, $12.99
Evergreen Volume 1 GN, $12.99
What Did You Eat Yesterday Volume 8 GN, $12.95
Black Rose Alice Volume 4 GN, $9.99
Bleach 3-In-1 Edition Volume 11 TP, $14.99
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 1 Phantom Blood Volume 2 HC, $19.99
Kiss Of The Rose Princess Volume 4 GN, $9.99
Millennium Snow 2-In-1 Edition Volume 2 TP, $14.99
Naruto 3-In-1 Edition Volume 11 TP, $14.99
Nisekoi False Love Volume 9 GN, $9.99
Rosario+Vampire Season II Volume 14 GN, $9.99
Spell Of Desire Volume 4 GN, $9.99
Yu-Gi-Oh 3-In-1 Edition Volume 2 TP, $14.99
Viz Media’s Weekly Shonen Jump has been seeing plenty of changes, just as the Japanese magazine does with titles coming and going. Lately, Viz’s WSJ has added two new regular titles to their line-up; Black Clover and the Naruto spin-off Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring.
Black Clover is about a boy named Astra. He and another boy named Yuna were abandoned at the same time at the same place as babies and have since become best friends both with the same goal; to become the next Wizard King. The only problem with their plan is while Yuna his highly skilled at using magic, Astra can’t. Astra isn’t discouraged, even at a coming-of-age ceremony, where Yuna receives a magic book with the legendary four leaf clover while Astra receives nothing. Sometime later, when Yuna is nearly defeated in battle, Astra’s true power is revealed as he is able to call on a book with a black five-leaved clover and wield powerful anti-magic. Astra never sees the book, but the pair head out into the world together to continue to compete for their goal.
Black Clover started as a three chapter preview for Viz’s Jump Start program back in February and became a regular at the end of March. It’s not too surprising with the superficial similarities to Naruto. A boy who can’t use the power everyone else can who wants to be the strongest, and a best friend who is better than him who is also his rival. Yeah, doesn’t sound like the setup for Naruto at all. /sarcasm. I haven’t read any of Black Clover yet, but it does sound like it has the makings of a hit for Viz.
Naruto recently ended its serialization after 15 years, but it seems you can’t keep an orange ninja down. The new spin-off, Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring picks up where the original manga left off. Naruto is now Hokage, with his image on the mountain side like he always dreamed. But in a karmic twist, he has a son, Boruto, who is just as bratty and stubborn as he was. The series features not just Naruto’s son, but all the other children of the heroes of Konoha.
Naruto was one of Viz’s biggest hits, so it’s no surprise that it would continue the franchise along with the Japanese Weekly Shonen Jump. Long time Naruto fans can stave off withdrawal for a little while longer, at least until summer, according to an interview with Kishimoto back in November.
But with these additions, at least one title will be leaving. Gakkyu Hotei: School Judgement, the court drama set in an elementary school, is ending serialization in the issue out May 11. The series started as a Jump Start! series last summer and was added to the magazine in December. It was about Abaku Inugami, a student defense lawyer at his elementary school where students can take their fellow students court in the government sanctioned School Judgement System. The series is drawn by Takeshi Obata, and written by Nobuaki Enoki. I really enjoyed the chapters I was able read in the free issues Shonen Jump made available in January for their anniversary. I’m definitely going to be picking up the collected volumes no matter what format they are released in.
If you liked the Jump Start! of Cyborg Roggy, don’t hold your breath for it to join the magazine. It is ending in the same issue as Gakkyu Hotei. The Japanese Weekly Shonen Jump is debuting three new titles with these endings, so we will have to see if there will be another round of Jump Start! for them.
TCAF is the premiere comics festival in North America. Other shows aspire to be like them, so it isn’t so surprising that they can get such great artists to attend. It’s a great place to meet artists and talk about comics in an open and friendly atmosphere. If you ever get a chance to go, take it.
Manga publishers have been hit or miss with the Free Comic Book Day promotion. Dark Horse sometimes has had a preview of a title or two included with their regular comics and Yen Press has made previews of their original books available in the past. Kodansha is joining in this year with a preview of Attack on Titan as well as some of their other high performing titles Fairy Tail, Seven Deadly Sins and Noragami, but Viz Media has been the most consistent publisher to participate, and this year is no different. They have titles in both the Gold and Silver categories ranging from all ages to older teen. If you have time and comic shop or library participating near you this year, you should definitely go check it out. It can be a lot of fun, and you never know, you might find a new book to read for you and/or your kids!
This week the Wil Eisner Comic Industry Awards panel of judges announced their nominees this week. Manga essentially gets its own category in the US Edition of International Material – Asia. The category was created to keep manga from dominating the US Edition of International Material category. Five titles and six volumes received nods.
All You Need Is Kill has been getting a lot of attention this year. It is from Viz Media and was one of the 8 manga titles to make the YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens list this year. It is an adaptation of the Japanese sci-fi novel what was also the basis of the Hollywood film Edge of Tomorrow. Keiji Kiriya is a new recruit thrown into a suit of battle armor called a jacket and sent to fight the invading alien race, the Mimics. He dies on the battle field only to be revived every day to relieve the day and die again. On his 158th return, he is contacted by another soldier, known as the Full Metal Bitch. Is she his friend or foe. The art is by Takeshi Obata, a popular artist here in the US. With the art and story being so well-known, it probably has a good chance of winning.
In Clothes Called Fat from Vertical Comics. It is about Noko, a young woman with a good job and loving boyfriend. Beneath this seemingly happy veneer, Noko is struggling with issues of self-image and self-confidence as she fights to keep her weight down. A gain of a mere 5 pounds can send Noko miles away from happiness in her love life and work place. This single volume story was created by Moyoco Anno, who is well-known name in Japanese women comics. This title is closer in spirit to many US indie comics with its searing look at women with self-image problems. It also has a good chance of with Eisner voters.
Master Keaton Vol 1 is another title from Viz Media. It follows the adventures of half-Japanese, half-English insurance investigator Taichi Hiraga-Keaton. Keaton is a man of many talents. He graduated from Cambridge with a degree in archaeology, joined the British SAS for several years, and now teaches at a Japanese college. He uses his many talents and experience to investigate insurance claims and help people along the way. I loved this volume of Master Keaton, both for the problems Keaton takes on and for the Cold War era feel of the manga. I don’t know how well this title will go over with voters. It’s by Naoki Urasawa, who has been nominated several times and even one once. Either way, it’s got my vote!
One Punch Man is the third Viz Media title to be nominated. It is about Saitama, a superhero who is so strong, he can knock out most villains with just a single punch. He trained so hard to hone his skills that he lost all his hair, but now, he is so strong, he can’t find a worthy opponent, and fears he will be doomed to superhero boredom. This is a digital only title and has a lot of human. It was the start of the superhero boom that Viz seems to have going on right now. This title is rather light and filled with plenty of human, at least at the beginning. Being a more tradition superhero comic Eisner voters may favor it.
Showa 1939-1944 A History of Japan and Showa 1944-1953: A History of Japan are two separate titles in the same series from Drawn and Quarterly. They are an auto biographical and historical account of Japan by creator Shigeru Mizuki. These two volumes cover the Japan of World War II and the subsequent occupation afterward. On a personal level, it shows Mizuki’s struggles with the strict disciple of the Japanese officers on the island of Rabaul in Papua New Guinea and whether or not to return to Japan after the war to follow his dream of becoming a cartoonist despite losing an arm. The first volume in this series was nominated last year, but didn’t win. The story in these two volumes are no doubt more compelling as it deals with the devastation of war and its aftermath. Maybe this year will be its lucky year.
Wolf Children: Ame and Yuki is published by Yen Press and was also on the YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens list. It is based on the animated movie of the same name. Hana is a young woman who falls in love with a man who is part wolf. They start a family with two children, but Hana’s husband is tragically killed, leaving Hana as a single mother to raise her two children who stand on the fine line between man and beast. This is a story that is both heartwarming and melancholy as it shows the exploration of identity and balancing being from multiple cultures. Eisner voters will find a lot to love here.
The winners will be announced Friday, July 10 during the San Diego Comic-Con at a gala ceremony.
I’ve only read one of the four Viz Media titles that have been nominated for this year’s Eisners, Master Keaton, and to be honest, it’s the one I hope wins. I plan on reading All You Need Is Kill because it was on the YALSA GGNT list, and this just adds another reason. I know a lot of people like One-Punch Man, but the chapters I read of it back in January just didn’t do much for me. But it’s a superhero title, so that might make it more appealing to Eisner voters. The Hello Kitty graphic novels Viz’s Perfect Square imprint have done have been good for early readers, so the tribute Hello 40 is no doubt done just as well. I might have to check that one out too.
I have really grown to like digital manga. Considering the lack of space I currently have, and the difficulty I have in letting things go, being able to stack digital files is a lot easier than physical books. And they’re a lot easier to carry. I can carry several different titles to suit what ever my mood is in just my tablet, and it’s a lot easier to eat and read on a tablet that can stand on its own and doesn’t need one of my hands to hold it open.
The Vizmanga app has been one of these platforms that I’ve been buying my manga on, though reluctantly lately. One of my problems with it is that there is no way to back up the titles I purchase. They can only be downloaded and viewed through the app. This isn’t so much a problem if something happens to my device. I can just download them again on the new one. But what if something happens to Viz and their servers go down? They say everything will still be available and working through the app.
Well, that’s not entirely true. Viz’s mature titles are not available to download and read through the app. They can only be read online through a PC/Mac with flash. This is actually very limiting. The whole purpose of digital manga is to be able to read it anytime, anywhere, just like the print, but more conveniently. Limiting the ability to read manga I supposedly own is not convenient. I am more often in an environment where I can’t get online with my device and the available PC is not flash enabled. Yes, I can read something else, but that isn’t really the point. I love digital manga because it’s supposed to give more freedom in what I read and when. Viz banning their own titles from their own app is actually ludicrous to me. If you are going to sell Mature manga on your site that is supposed to be available through your app than make ALL OF IT available. Don’t say “You can read all of these titles you’ve bought anytime, anywhere, but don’t even think about those titles.”
I’ve partially solved this problem by not buying anymore Mature manga through the Vizmanga app or website. I should be able to read any title I’ve bought anytime I want, and should not be limited by whatever hangups a publisher has about their own titles. But this now means I have my digital manga divided up between apps, and even some series. I shouldn’t have to have multiple apps to get titles from the same publisher, but to make digital manga work for me, I just have to, and I really think that’s wrong.
Viz’s Select line adds 2 former Tokyopop titles that I’m familiar with, but met with two different ends. Grenadier is a five-volume series I picked up because a friend has seen the anime, and told us about the most intriguing element of the story. The lead, a buxom blond, kept her bullets in said bosom and would reload her gun with some jiggling. Not joking. I picked up Red Hot Chili Samurai because it was a historical detective series. In the end, I gave Grenadier to said friend, and chased down the last two volumes of Red Hot Chili Samurai I could find. Tokyopop published 5 of the 8 volumes, but only four were easily found. I guess I’ll be finishing up the series with Viz.
Gyo is one of those titles, that just one look inside stays with you forever. The story of nature gone horribly wrong features some the most disturbing images, such as fish running around on crab/lobster/spider legs, as well as some of the most absurd, like a man being stalked by a shark. A shark head peering around a corner is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Together, you get a title that is quite frankly unforgettable, and well deserving of the hardcover deluxe omnibus Viz is giving it.