Snow Day. That’s not something we experience in Southern California, unless you live in the mountains or high desert. East Coast folks know it quite well though, especially after the last storm that just passed through. Manga knows about snowy days too. Here are a few where the world covered in white plays a role in the story.
Seventeen-year-old Chiyuki Matsuoka was born with heart problems, and her doctors say she won’t live to see the next snow. Toya is an 18-year-old vampire who hates blood and refuses to make the traditional partnership with a human, whose life-giving blood would keep them both alive for a thousand years.
It’s the beginning of a new year for Shonen Jump and they start it off with what they call another “evolution” I wouldn’t call what SJ did an evolution, but it is a definite improvement. Two new manga are added to the magazine, bringing the number of titles back to six, and the page count back those of the good old days. Subscribers also have online access to Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan. So let’s jump into it!
The magazine begins with all its ad stuff. Merchandise, DVDs, video games and TV/Online airings of Shonen Jump anime. There was also a free Yu-Gi-Oh! card. I only mention this because I had to buy this issue for my youngest daughter so she would stop asking for my card. Not that I collect the cards, I just like to keep my issues complete.
Psyren is the first manga and first new manga in the magazine. It’s about Ageha Yoshina, a high school boy who likes to fight. He picks up a call at a public phone booth and gets a red phone card with the world Psyren on it. It turns out Psyren is the name of a secret society, made of people who want to create a new paradise on Earth. It’s treated like an urban legend, but one of his classmates, Sakurako seems to be involved. Unable to keep his nose out of her business, he uses the card, and ends up being transported to another world, where he runs into Sakurako who is being attacked by a strange bug-like monster. Meeting up with others new to the world, he learns the psyren is some sort of game, and you can’t leave until you finish the level. I enjoyed these first two chapters. Ageha is the trouble-maker with a heart of gold. He helps people using his fists, and doesn’t tolerate bullying. We still don’t know much about Sakurako or how she got involved with Psyren, but with the two of them together in the game, hopefully next issue will give use some useful exposition.
Naruto starts with Kabuto making Madara a deal he can’t refuse, though we are kept in the dark about why. Meanwhile, it’s decided to hide away Naruto and Killer Bee to keep them safe from the Akatsuki, and they go off to a solitary island where Killer Bee learned to control his Biju. Naruto wants to learn to, so after a rocky start, he begins training. These chapters were too bad. I like the frog sages, so seeing more them is always a plus. I don’t know how much I like Bee. All the rhyming is fun, gets old pretty fast. Naruto’s enthusiasm is a nice change, and I’m interested to see how his training goes with Nega-Naruto.
I have only one thing to say about these chapters of One Piece: Oh.My.God. Whitebeard continues to try to hold off the marines so his men can get to safety. He splits the island in two so his men can’t keep trying to help him. The whole thing ends with Black Beard and his crew appearing. I dont’ want to say what happens in the middle with Luffy, but needless to say, I so did not see that coming!! It’s not a moment that bring tears, because your mind is so shocked by what happens that it never gets to that. I still can’t believe it, but if there was to be anything happen to shake Luffy’s faith, in himself, and in the world, I can see it being this.
In Ultimo, Vice decides to go on a killing spree. It seems he’s determined to upset Dustan’s plans as well, but only for self-preservation. He takes out Gauge, Slow, and Pardonner, while Yamato has rushed off to Sayama’s birthday party with Rune, not knowing that Rune has contracted with Jealousy. I have no idea where Ultimo is going, and frankly I really don’t care. It has moments that look like it will have potential, that then get swallowed up in pointless fighting. I can just see another time travel reset lingering in this series’ future.
Bleach continues to the battles between Byakuya and Zommari which takes up the whole of the two chapters. Byakuya wins, but not before Zommari runs off his mouth with some speech about Soul Reaper arrogance. The last chapter ends oddly, with Mayuri seemingly at Szayelaporro’s mercy. I find this hard to believe, even with Mayuri’s arrogance, I don’t see him falling so easily to Szayelaporro. He has to have something up his sleeve. I’m still waiting to see where this Soul Reaper invasion is going. Aizen’s true goal still hasn’t been revealed, so he won’t be defeated anytime soon. Perhaps the invasion will lead to a confrontation that will lead to a reveal? Or at least a better idea. I’m really getting tired of all this fighting.
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds is the second new title to join the print magazine. It takes place in 20XX, on a satellite. The new hero is Yusei, a cool and confident-looking guy whose hair is throwback to the original Yugi, with duo-tone spikes. Duel Monsters is now played on Duel Runners, motorcycles that the players race on while they throw out their cards. Their speed is dependant on how well they play. We see one race, Yusei vs Sect, his seeming sidekick/rival. The chapter ends with the appearance of an urban legend come to life, the Skeleton Knight who challenges Yusei. I actually liked this first chapter. Not a lot has been explained about the world or the games, but I like Yusei, and that’s enough to make me want to see the next chapter.
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan is the first online only manga for Viz that only subscribers can access. The first two chapters are available online. It starts by introducing Rikuo when he is 8-years-old. He’s loves playing with the yokai in his grandfather’s mansion and is really gung-ho about one day succeeding his grandfather as the Lord of Pandemonium. He thinks yokai are good. A presentation at school suggests that they aren’t. A powerful yokai tries a power play, and attempts to assassinate Rikuo by destroying his school bus. Rikuo wasn’t where and now his classmates are trapped. Rikuo’s yokai blood reacts to the danger and he leads a group of yokai to rescue his friends and stop the rouge yokai. Fast forward 4 years later. Rikuo has done a complete 360. Now he wants nothing to do with yokai while all of his classmates at school believe in and love yokai. They all go to a local abandoned building to look for them, as Rikuo tries to keep the yokai away from his classmates. I really liked the first chapter, and was feeling a lot of good potential coming fromt his title. Then I got to the second chapter. I did not like the total change in Rikuo. He’s become a “nice” guy, offering to do things for kids at school, which almost looks like he’s being bullied and/or taken advantage of. He really comes off as weak and useless, and reminds me a lot of Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh! I really didn’t like him, and preferred the stronger, more confident “Other Yugi.” I’m getting the same vibe here from Rikuo. It’s only two chapters in, so things might change for the better again. I’ll wait and see.
This was definitely a good issue. The new manga greatly improved the magazine in general, and now I have more reasons than just One Piece to read it. I can’t really say the same for the online side though. Viz pushed that other manga would be available to SJ subscribers, but that’s turned out to be “extended previews” of upcoming volumes, and will only be available when the volume is actually releases. There still no world at how long the previews will last, or if previous chapters of Nura will remain on like or if they will be taken down when the volume comes out. I’m guessing it’s gonna be the latter. But, I’m not subscribing for the online content, so it’s no big deal…for now.
When one thinks of the holiday season, it tends to be of being merry, giving gifts, and celebrating the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. But the holiday season also has a history of ghostly stories and ghoulish things. So in that spirit, here are two titles to make you clutch your blanket closer on these cold, dark winter nights.
It’s been another quiet week, with just a few stories, all being digital related. I almost think I should have just done a Digital Friday post with these stories. Of course, I almost didn’t get this posted at all. I just want to say, that migraine headaches SUCK! But, please do still enjoy stories on digital guilds, advice, revamps, and some Japan news, and of course, all the regulars you’ve come to expect; podcasts and the Manga Village roundup. More after the break.
This month’s installment of the Shonen Jump drive-by is late because my subscription issue seems to have gone astray in the mail, and had to go buy one. The subscription provider’s answer to a missing issue is always “We’ll extend your subscription by a month.” But of course, that doesn’t help me get the mag! Fortunately, my local Barnes & Noble still had issues, so I could pick it up. The big news for this issue has already been all over the interwebs, but I’ll mention it here too. There will be two new titles added to the magazine. FINALLY! Psyren and Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D will start in the next issue, January 2010. I’ll be fighting to get the issue first now. My youngest daughter has discovered Yu-Gi-Oh! and has already gone through all my old Shonen Jumps. The other big news is that suppliment titles will be put up online for subscribers only to read online. There isn’t any more information on that other than some of the titles will be Bakuman, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan and Toriko. We also don’t know if these will be full series serializations, how long they will be available online, or just extended previews. Next issue will hopefully have more infor about that.
The layout at the beginning has been refined some, as the video games and anime sections are cleaned up a little, and become easier to read. And there’s a handy guide telling you where you can find Shonen Jump anime online. It’s on a quick and easy to read grid, if you like to watch your anime online.
The manga starts out with the final preview chapter of Genkaku Picasso. Sugiura’s problem is solved, and it turned out to be a rather unexpected resolution. The picture of Sugiura’s heart afterword has a lot of hope in it. The picture of his father’s heart was a nice one too. I enjoyed this preview, and this title will go on to my want to read list. I don’t know it it’s a must read, but I enjoyed these chapters enough to want to see how a whole chapter stands up.
Naruto is next with Sasuke bailing with Madara and takes his next step down to total darkness. The plot to get the Eight-tails beast by the Akatsuki, while the Daimyos of the 5 different lands ratify the alliance. With Danzo’s death, the issue of a new Hokage comes up, but proves to be less of an issue than thought. Naruto gets summoned back before the Giant Frog Sage and gains the key to the Fourth Hokage’s seal, allowing him to be able to free the Nine-Tails. Then Kabuto makes his move toward the Akatsuki. These chapters are all about tying up old threads and starting up the new ones for the comimg ninja battle. They feel a lot like moving pieces on a chess board. There’s plenty of information expounded, but not a lot of action. It’s the lull before the storm.
Bleach follows up with Ichigo continuing to get his butt kicked, Pesche and Dondochakka not getting to be as impressive as they could have been (which I consider disappointing), and the a suprise rescue comes in the form of several of the captains to rescue Ichigo and the gang. And of course, the captains are matched up against espadas that match their own talent. Kenpachi takes on Nnoitora, Mayuri against Szayelaporro, and Byuakuya against Zommari. Retsu and her assistant are only there to heal the wounded, friend and foe alike. The chapters in this issue end at 299, so the new year can start with 300 which looks to be another big, blowout fight. It’s a lot of posturing between the Captains and the espadas, as you would expect. I really didn’t care for the way Kubo had Nnoitora “gag” Orihime. It’s too easy to take it the wrong way.
Ultimo finishes up with Yamato returning from the past right back into the fight he just left. He tries to save Iruma again, but it’s all in vain. Musayama takes a hit and Jealosy tries to claim Yamato for being incompetant “the supreme evil”. But he’s stopped by what, or who, is in Yamato’s heart, and the past is set up to repeat itself again. Yamato and Musayama are saved by the Doctor Koun, who is parterned with Pardonner, on of the six perfections. He leaves with Ultimo while two other perfections, Machi and Hiroshi speak with the doctor. I was hoping Ulitmo would get better with the time traveling, and for a moment it almost seemed that it would, but a return to the present sends it back to the same old, same old. I don’t see any hope of this series getting better.
One Piece ends the issue with even more serious fighting. I didn’t think things could get more tense than they already were, but Oda managed to do it. The struggle to reach Ace on the platform continues as White Beard’s pirates seem to be losing to the navy. Ace is about to lose his head when Luffy comes racing in, unintentionally using his Haki, which gives Ace a few more minutes, and gives him the full support of White Beard and his men. He nearly makes it to Ace but is blocked by Garp. It becomes grandfather vs grandson, but Luffy doesn’t stop, and it seems blood is thicker than water. Now it’s a race to free Ace and it becomes a tit-for-tat as everything Luffy tries is countered by the Navy, until Mr. 3 comes to the rescue. Then it’s Fire Fist and Straw Hat against the Navy! I have to say, I was surprised by this outcome, but I didn’t take Luffy’s haki into consideration. I was going by his bute strength, which didn’t seem to be enough. I love that Luffy just continued to earn the respect of the pirates and scorn of the navy, when all he wanted to do was save his brother. This has been some really awesome action, but I think I’m ready for a breather, and I’m sure Luffy is too.
I’m really looking forward to the next issue, with all the changes that have been promised. Yu-Gi-Oh! GX didn’t impress me (but the manga is waaaayyyy better than the anime), so hopefully 5D will be an improvement. And having a sci-fi oriented title in the magazine with Psyren will hopefully shake things up a bit. SJ has been dying on the vine with no new blood for so long. This time when they call the changes an evolution, they can actually mean it.
As a child, Monkey D. Luffy was inspired to become a pirate by listening to the tales of the buccaneer “Red-Haired” Shanks. but hislife changed when luffy accidentally ate the fruit of the Gum-Gum Tree, and gained the power to stretch ike rubber…at the cost of never being able to swim again! Years later, still vowing to become the king of the pirates, Luffy sets out on his adventure…one guy alone in a rowboat, in search of the legendary “One Piece”, said to be the greatest treasure in the world…
After Moritaka and Akito collaborate on a manga together, they venture to publishing house Shueisha in hopes of capturing an editor’s interest. As much potential as these two rookies have, will their story impress the pros and actually get printed?
Story by Tsugumi Ohba; Art by Takeshi Obata
Publsiher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
The boys have their first final draft down and meet with an editor from Weekly Jump. Hattori is impressed with potential and encourage them to bring their work to him. They submit for the next Tezuka award, and make it to the final eight but aren’t chosen for an award. They are still encouraged to go ahead and try to get a one-shot in Akamasu Jump, a quarterly special magazine. In the meantime, they have graduated middle school and applied and started high school. Moritaka and Miho have started talking, first through notes in class and then through email. Akito has gained a girlfriend too, Miho’s friend Mayashi.
I liked this volume better than the first one. It focuses on the process of getting a manga into a publisher and much of the hierarchy of the Weekly Jump offices. In their talks with Hattori, Moritaka and Akito learn how stories are chosen for the monthly contests, what publishers and judges look for in the Tezuka contest, and the biggest hurdle of all, placing in the reader survey. I found all of this information fascinating. Watching the boys process the information and adjust accordingly in the manga creation really drew me in. I really liked Hattori, the editor at Jump who talks to the boys. He is very grounded and straight-forward with them. He doesn’t pull punches with either his criticism of their work, or their chances. He wants to take them on a slow and steady course while they boys are looking for fast and furious. This will no doubt lead to difficulties later.
This volume also finally introduces Eiji Nizuma, the “once-in-a-decade” genius manga creator. He is not what I expected. He is shown always drawing manga, as if he can’t stop. He has a very juvenile attitude, calling out sound effects as he draws. His condition for coming to Tokyo to start a weekly series, is to have the ability to cancel any series he personally doesn’t like. I found him dislikable from the beginning, and hard to believe he could create anything really great. Entertaining yes, since he seems to have the same mentality (or lower) as his audience, but nothing that could reach beyond it. He is obviously being set up at Moritaka’s and Akito’s rival, so he is probably not meant to be liked, but I don’t think I would like him even if he wasn’t.
There was no blatant anti-woman message in this volume, though there was one scene that is borderline, if you think about it. After Akito is suspended for fighting, Iwase and Miyoshi come to visit him. The “smart” girl, Iwase, is portrayed as the more unreasonable of the two. She assumed after shaking hands with Akito in their freshman year that they were going out (a stupid assumption since they never interacted). She has the “normal” person reaction of telling Akito he was making a mistake by trying to become a manga creator and that he will regret the choice. So, what was the point of this scene except to show how “dumb” (by Akito’s standards) Iwase was. At least it was short and more subtle this time.
Overall, this volume was an improvement over the last. I really liked all the Weekly Jump references that were seen all over the book, especially in the Jump offices. There are posters all over featuring Jump titles, and even the cover has Akito holding Naruto, One Piece and Bleach volumes, all very clear what series they are. I’m actually looking forward to the next volume, to see if the boys can come up with a more Shonen Jump character and story and really get on their road to serialization.
It’s been awfully slow in the news department lately. Maybe everyone is busy with holiday preparations. But fear not! All is not lost as the news this week features unexpected licenses as well as confirmations of some found in the wild. Half confirmations of rumors, and trying to reach out to the casual manga fan join regular features of best sellers, podcasts and roundups.
So what’s a girl to do with the power of an immortal god? it’s a tough decision, especially with the fate of Ouri’s homeland at stake. She and Father Olivier are going to fight an ancient battle all over again. And if they win? It just might mean that everyone–from the gods all the way down to Olivier himself– will find what they’ve been searching for. If they don’t… well, one way of the other, their journey is coming to a spectactular conclusion.
by Yun Kouga
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen+
Buy This Book
It’s been a while since I read a volume that was a total let down, especially with being the final volume, but Gestalt managed to do just that. With the world doomed to end and powerful gods descending to earth to battle it out over said doom, you’d expect more exciting fight scene, and really, just more fighting! Instead we are treated to a lot of selfish talk and inward reflections, and a instead of ending with a bang, the titles goes out in a whimper.
Ouri, Olivier and friends have reached Gestalt, the island where the great beast is said to lay. It is also Ouri’s homeland. He goes in search of his father to tell him he has the great beast inside him, and has for years. But, it seems Ouri was mistaken, as his father informs him, and reveals to him the truth. Meanwhile, everyone else is fighting a seemingly resurrected Father Messiah. Black Olivier is in charge, while Olivier is buried deal in his subconscious, facing the truth of his past and coming to accept Father Messiah’s death. Everyone tries to fight Messiah and fails until Ouri arrives, in sexy underwear to save the day. True identities are revealed, and the world is saved. Yup. Pretty much just like that.
I was really hoping for more from this final volume. But all anyone does in this supposed action-fantasy is talk. The battle scene that takes up about half of the volume is mostly Olivier, as either himself or Black Olivier talking to Messiah, telling him he’s going to stop him. There is some magic thrown around that stops Shazan, but the most exciting part of the battle is when Ouri’s father joys the fray and gets thrown across the room and makes an imprint in the wall. And the final confrontation between Gestalt and Salsaroa? Non-existent. Well, that’s not completely true. They do confront one another, but the best Salsaroa can manage is to threaten the body he inhabits, which is already did. And then poof, they’re gone. And no one cared. It was just “huh, they’re gone,” and move on to the end. I couldn’t believe this seemingly big build up to the confrontation would just go **poof**.
The characters that I had liked in volume 6 weren’t so great in this volume. Ouri showed himself to be selfish and self-centered, something that I probably would have gotten if I had read the series from the beginning, but seeing it now, when the end of the world is nigh doesn’t work so well for me. It was probably completely in character for his whole problem with letting Gelstalt in was that he didn’t want to lose himself, and he still had things he wanted to do. Well, if the world ends, you won’t get to do those things anyway. And it went on for pages, his whining like a kid. Any of the good I saw in volume 6 was sucked out in this one.
The ending of Gestalt seems to at least be consistent with the rest of the series. The scene cuts are badly done, especially with the fight scenes. If Kouga didn’t want to draw fights, she shouldn’t have done a fantasy series with a lot of confrontations. It seems every time she has a fight, she flashes over to some else for a while, and then returns to the fight, mostly at the pauses in the action. I can’t really see anyone other than fans of Kouga really enjoying this title. I think the initial premise was good, but the execution was not.
In the news this week: manga print on demand, more details on DMP’s Digital Manga Guild and the changes in Shonen Jump, a possible manga portal for English readers, news stories from Japan, and all the rest of the usual features. Continue reading This Week In Manga: 11/06-11/12/10
Ah, Pocky, that tasty treat, the preferred snack of otaku everywhere! November 11th, or 11-11 is Pocky Day! Can you guess why? This “holiday” was started in South Korea, with their version of pocky, Pepero, where it is similar to Valentine’s Day. Pocky Day hasn’t taken off in Japan like Pepero has in Korea. I heard about it from the SciGuys podcast. I like the idea, so here are some manga titles that give a heads up to that biscuit cookie dipped in chocolate (or an assortment of other flavors), Pocky!
There are a lot of manga titles where characters are seen nomming on a stick of pocky. Card Captor Sakura, Gravitation, Tramps Like Us (Kimi Wa Pet), Harlem Beat, Nodame Cantabile and The Wallflower (Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge) all feature scenes of characters loving their pocky! But here are five titles I’d like to focus on where pocky gets more of a spotlight.
Onegai Teacher – This was originally an anime that was adapted to a manga and light novel series. Mizuho is half-alien, half-human. She has been sent to Earth by the Federation to watch over it and keep humans from making the same mistakes. Mizuho is seen eating pocky a lot. Her father died when she was young, and her only memory of him is related to a pocky box, so she eats pocky to be reminded of him. There are two volumes of this manga available, that were published by the now-defunt ComicOne, but you can probably find copies on trading sites or at used bookstores.
Zatch Bell (Kojiki no Gash) – In this shonen battle manga, every 1000 years, 100 Mamodo come to Earth to battle out for the title of King of the Mamodo. To do battle, Mamodo need a human partner to read the spells they use. Zatch Bell is one such Mamodo, and is the hero of the series, with his human partner Kiyo Takamine. Volcan 300 is Zatch’s cardboard toy robot friend, made out of an empty box of pocky and some disposible chopsticks. There have been several versions of the Volcan 300, but you’ve got to empty though boxes first, before you can make a new one! Viz Media released 25 of the 33 volumes of Zatch Bell before discontinuing the series.
Dramacon – This is a 3 volume OEL series created by Sveltana Chmakova. The series is about fledgling writer Christie Leroux and her first experiences at a big anime convention. In this series, we see pocky used as comfort food. Christie celebrates being at the con by buying lots of pocky, as well as drowns her sorrows by buying lots of pocky. This is the best, and probably most realistic portrayal of the use of pocky by most anime and manga fans in the US. Dramacon was released by Tokyopop and is among the few celebrated titles of OEL manga. You can get the whole series in one omnibus volume.
Lucky Star – This title is a 4-koma, or 4 panel series, much like the comic strips in American newspapers. It follows 4 Japanese girls as they go through high school. There is no real ongoing plot and the strips are mostly about the girls daily lives. The leader of the group is Konata Izumi, a smart and athletic girl, but who would rather play video games and read manga than study or compete. But for this article, we want to look at Kagami Hiiragi, the older of the Hiiragi fraternal twins. Like Konata, Kagami likes to play video games, and she reads light novels. She also indulges in that more favorite to Otaku treats, pocky! She can often be seen munching on pocky sticks. Lucky Star has eight volumes, and is being released by Bandai Entertainment.
Vampire Knight – When I asked for suggestions on Twitter for titles with Pocky in it, this series kept coming up, so I’ll include it. Vampire Knight is about Yuki Cross, the adopted daughter of the Headmaster of Cross Academy and her run-ins/relationships with the Night Class, a special class for Vampires to learn how to co-exist with humans. Shiki Senri is a member of the Night Class and is apparently “Pocky mad”. He is seen eating it several times throughout the manga. Vampires eating pocky. I wonder, does he stick the pocky in his mouth and pretends he has reaaalllllyyyy long fangs? Just kidding. Viz Media releases Vampire Knight and there are currently 10 volumes out. Thanks to @ShroudDancer, @aicnanime, @girlg33k_Kris and @PhoenixTerran for their suggestions and help!
These are just a few examples of pocky in manga. For more, and/or to find pocky in anime, check out these sites, which were I also used for several references:
Know of a series with scene I missed? Leave a comment about it!