The previews that have been running in Shonen Jump have been intriguing. At least there aren’t any moe girls in this art title. Find out more after the break.
Did everyone have a good Halloween? Get lots of treats from Trick or Treating, or from your kids, as in our case? This week we have “big” announcements, digital manga, con reports, new licenses, new initiatives, and OEL manga.
I’ve been in love with Saiunkoku ever since I first saw the anime. The art is beautiful and story is fun, exciting and dramatic. I am so glad tht Viz licensed the manga, so I can read the whole thing! More after the break.
Viz has been hyping changes lately. Back in July, at SDCC, they promised big changes for Shonen Jump. Two weeks ago, they started hinting at “big changes” coming “soon”. Those “big changes” have finally been revealed. Shonen Jump will have some exclusive online manga that only subscribers can access, and they will be selling manga through an iPad app. Whoo. Big changes. Yeah….uh, no. There is nothing really big about these announcements, nor are they any real changes.
The countdown continues to the “big changes” promised for Shonen Jump. This issue is more of the same. At only 280 pages, it was a fast read, especially with most the titles being in big action scenes without a lot of reading necessary. The magazine has settled in to have all the TV and video game tie-in updates at the beginning before getting into the manga, which starts with the preview title.
It’s the second chapter of Genkaku Picasso. When last we left Picasso, he was just told by his guardian angel Chiaki that in order to stay alive he had to help people, but he has no idea how. A glance at a classmate reveals a dark aura that translates into a surreal scene under Piccaso’s pencil. He starts following this classmate, Sugiura, to try and find the meaning of the picture. Trying to figure it out, he and Chiaki get sucked into the picture, where they start to learn the truth. I’m starting to enjoy this title more. I wasn’t sure I was going to at the beginning, but this chapter really intrigued me. I’m now even more interested in seeing how it’s resolved. It will make or break if I buy the first volume.
Bleach is next, continuing the fight between Nelliel and Nnoitora and Szayelaporro and Renji and Uryu. The truth about what happened between Nel and Nnoitora is revealed, and Pesche and Dondochakka show themselves to not necessarily to be the goofballs that they first played at being. They take on Szayelaporro themselves as Renji and Uryu are getting walked all over. I hope Szayelaporro finds out how much of a bitch payback can be. I wasn’t too thrilled about the way the last chapter ended, however, if the reason for Nel changing back to a little kid is because of what I think it is, and not just to get Ichigo back in the fight, then I can forgive it. I’m almost interested in Bleach again. I loved Nel’s second transformation, but you might call me biased, being a Capricorn myself. If things go as I hope they will, Bleach might be able to win back some love from me.
Ultimo is up next with its single chapter. Yamato, trying to understand Iruda better has gotten himself stabbed by Jealousy, but gets some surprising help from the very person he is trying to stop. Dunstan appears and promises to help Yamato anytime he’s in trouble. He is looking forward to their final confrontation, or at least Ultimo’s. If there was any doubt about the inspiration for Dunstan, those doubts are dispelled in this chapter. I don’t care much for the meddling from Dunstan, but the shadow of doubt that his actions cast on Ultimo’s loyalty, actually all of the karakuris might be interesting. Or it might lead to a bad plot twist. Only time will tell.
The battle continues in One Piece,and the tide seems to be turning against the pirates. Sengoku prepared well, but no one is giving up. Whitebeard still has a suprise up his sleave that gets the pirates out of the water and into the plaza where Ace is, but there are still the Three Admirals in their way, and Garp who finally steps in. Luffy is getting the crap beat out of him, as he has no where near the power he needs to face off against the Three Admirals, but he absolutely refuses to give up. Here we are seeing where Luffy’s greatest strength is becoming his weakness as well. His devotion to family and friends has served him well up to now, but his determination to save Ace is making him make reckless decisions. He keeps getting back into the fight even though there’s no way he can win. He has always scraped by before, but I don’t see it happening this time. It’s going to take more than spirit, determination and talk to save Ace, and Luffy just doesn’t have what it takes. I also find myself wondering if Ace can be saved. For some reason, this battle feels different than the others. I think it would be shame though. I don’t think the world of One Piece should be without a decendant of Gold Roger.
Naruto finishes off the issue, with Sasuke and Kakashi preparing to go at it before Naruto interrupts. It’s the meeting that we’ve been waiting volumes for. Both words and blows are exchanged and what’s said isn’t surprising. Naruto and Sasuke must fight to resolve their friendship and save Konoha from Sasuke, who believes its distruction is the only way to redeem the Uchiha. Sasuke talks big, but you have to wonder if any of Naruto’s words got through to him. It was nice to see him thinking about what everyone has said to him about dealing with Sasuke before he arrives. But enough with the Sakura trying to kill Sasuke. Not only does she not have the power, she doesn’t have the will. In a way, you can see that her friendship and feelings for Sasuke aren’t strong enough to do what must be done. Just killing Sasuke isn’t the answer. It doesn’t stop the cycle of hatred, which is Naruto’s ultimate goal.
Well, that’s it for this issue. Next issue should have the “big announcement” that Viz touted at SDCC earlier this year. Is it the same one that was touted on Twitter only a week or two ago? I’m of that opinion. Otherwise why put it off? The only other things that would cause an announcement to be put off would be a license or online announcement, and neither of those are the “game changers” they claimed it would be. The only real game changing announcement they could make would be a legal aggregator site of say, all Viz titles to be read online for a fee (ex. subscription), but I doubt they could pull that off. We should know soon enough though.
Yokai, the ghosts and monsters of Japanese folklore, appear alot in manga, but how often do they get to be one of the main characters? This list features titles where they yokai is the protagonist of the manga, and not just a monster to be beat up before the hero moves on.
Though I was slow to get on the Kaori Yuki bandwagon back when Angel Sanctuary came out, her titles such as The Cain Saga and Godchild have since convinced me how great her work is. So hearing that another one of her titles had been licensed thrilled me. That it features musician thrilled me even more. Find out more after the break.
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.
Once again, this month’s Shonen Jump feels light as it’s only at 280 pages. Along with the four regulars, there is a preview of a new series, Genkaku Picasso by Usamaru Furuya. He has had a few previous series’ published in English, including Short Cuts from Viz, nearly had 51 Ways to Save Her from CMX and will have Lychee Light Club from Vertical next year. This series was published in Jump SQ, and will have the first three chapters previewed in Shonen Jump.
Genkaku Picasso starts off by introducing the main character Hikari Hamura, the Picasso of the title. He isn’t very sociable and has just one friend, Chiaki Yamamoto. They have their own club, the Riverside Club, where Hikari draws and Chiaki reads books on psychology. A helicopter crash ends the club early, leaving Chiaki dead and Hikari miraculously alive, but not without a price. Hikari learns this in a rather shocking way, in class of course, from a small, winged Chiaki. He has to help people otherwise his body will decay. It’s an intriguing start to the series. Only a few titles start with killing off their protagonists. I do want to read more to see where the “helping people” goes. I’m guessing it has something to do with his artistic ability.
Naruto shows the end of Danzo with a flash back to his youth with the Third Hokage. It doesn’t really make him a more sympathetic character with just this flashback. If that is what Kishimoto was going for, more was needed before his last dying moments. He doesn’t have the same flare of revealing backgrounds at crucial moments as does Eiichiro. Sakura arrives claiming to want to join Sasuke but it’s just a ruse that doesn’t work. Kakashi then arrives to take on Sasuke with Naruto racing on his way. So it’s setting up for another clash between Naruto and Sasuke, with a big battle in between with Kakashi, or Sasuke’s gonna escape before he and Naruto can really get into it. I wish they would just get it over with between Naruto and Sasuke. All the emo-ness going on between Naruto and Sakura is getting boring. Sasuke isn’t going to just change his mind, and even Naruto fighting him isn’t going to be enough. I get the feeling that this is going to be a at-the-brink-of-death change of heart. With the way things have gone, I just don’t see how Sasuke can become friends again with them and still live with what he’s done.
One Piece continues the fight to save Ace. Luffy faces off with Mihawk, one of the Warlords of the Sea, who starts his attack by slicing the massive iceberg in half. Whitebeard sends his men in to keep Luffy free to reach his brother. An army of Kumas then appear and attack and Sengoku makes his move to execute Ace early. In the midst of all this, Whitebeard is attacked by Squard, on of his own men, who fell for a Marine ruse. But that doesn’t stop him from joining the fray, and really showing off the power of the Quake-Quake fruit. These chapters end with the Admiral Akainu using his power to melt the ice that the pirates have been using to get to the plaze where Ace is being held. These chapters are more fighting, but they also show how the World Government continues to try to keep the truth from the people. The truth that in many ways they are no better than the pirates they claim to be protecting them from as they shut off the broadcast so the rest of the world can’t see them execute Ace earlier than they announced. The more I see of the World Government and the Marines, the more I want Luffy and other pirates take them down. What the World Government does and has done is infinitely worse than any of the pirates we’ve seen so far.
I’m still on the fence about Ultimo. This month’s chapter starts off with Yamato getting the usual stuff about time travel; arriving naked, limited time, no changing events, etc. Then he gets to the estate and actually meets Iruma, and finds out, he’s not such a bad guy after all. The lord of the estate is rather familiar as well. The arrival of Dunstan with Jealousy changes Iruma as he gives in to the envy in his heart. It will be interesting to see how Yamato reacts/deals with this and if he can resist getting involved.
Bleach has the newly transformed Nel with the number 3 emblazoned on her back taking on Number 5 Nnoitora. She intends to protect Ichigo, but she might not be up to current Espada standards. Renji and Uruyu are still fighting Szayel-Aporro, though Renji does bring the house down, so to speak. This causes Szayel to release this true power, voodoo dolls that allow him to crush his opponents innards. So, how are Ichigo, Renji and Uruyu going to get out of this? Or should I say who’s going to pull their butts from the fire this time? A miraculous recovery from Chad or Rukia? Or maybe someone else? Or even more cliché, Ichigo powers up again. Meh.
There were some changes to the features in the magazine as well. All of the anime at the front is now divided between DVD, TV and Streaming, and only features SJ titles. But at least it features all the SJ titles, including Hikaru no Go, Prince of Tennis and Buso Renkin. The other noticeable change is in the New SJ Manga and In the Next Issue… sections. Reduced to just a few titles and one page each, it does look kind of sad when the In the Next Issue especially used to span two pages. But that’s when there was more titles. Changes were promised in the December issue which is coming up fast. And NYCC/NYAF is only a few weeks away, so hopefully there will be more news on what those changes are, and especially hope they will be good. This mag needs an infusion of Fresh, and soon!
Finally getting to read another Ai Yazawa series and seeing how connected her characters are in her world, really makes me crave more! There are at least 3 of her previous titles that I would love to see licensed, two in her shared universe and one with a supernatural twist.
Tenshi Nanka Ja Nai – This series was originally serialized in Ribon magazine starting in 1991 and was the beginning of the shared universe that would soon grow. It’s a high school slice of life/romance about Midori Saejima and Akira Sudo that chonicles their four years in school, both their relationship and adventures with friends. Seeing how addicting Nana is with young adults as the leads, I would love to see what she does with teens. This title kicks off what becomes a series of connected titles through its characters without being a sequel or focusing on the characters. It’s 8 volumes and in 1994 got an anime OVA adaptation. It’s the start of Yazawa’s world, where characters get to roam and mess with each other in and out of the stories.
Gokinjo Monogatari – David Welsh of Manga Curmudgeon has already made a plea for this series, but I’d like to do it in the context of its relationship to both Tenshi Nanka Ja Nai and Paradise Kiss. This series also ran in Ribon and went from 1995 to 1998. It ran for 7 volumes. Even though this series is about a whole new cast of characters with Mikako Koda and Tsutomu Yamaguchi as the leads, the main characters from Tenshi Nanka Ja Nai make an appearance, and the lead vocalist Tsutomu is supposed to resemble, Ken Nakagawa, was Midori’s friend. It’s another slice of life/romance which Yazawa has shown to have a such a good grasp of. It got a 50 episode anime series in 1995.
Kagen no Tsuki – This series doesn’t connect to the universe of the other two. It’s just a 3 volume series that ran in Ribon between Gokinjo Monogatari and Paradise Kiss from 1998-1999. It’s a supernatural romance that straddles the line between dream and reality. Only read the wikipedia entry if you want to be spoiled about this series, but even so it sounds to be an intriguing read even before meeting Yazawa’s characters. It got a live action movie made out of it, which was licensed here by Geneon. It seems to be out of print unfortunately. A search for used DVDs in the usual places should bring it up.
I really hope publishers give these titles some serious consideration (I’m looking at you Viz!) Ai Yazawa has a real gift for creating engaging characters and interesting situations. It would be so cool to see her shared universe all in English, so an omnibus of Paradise Kiss would be in order, so they all look so nice lined up on a bookshelf. With Nana doing so well, and Paradise Kiss getting so much love recently, it’s hard to believe that more of Ai Yazawa’s work hasn’t been licensed yet. That really needs to be fixed.
Hetalia: Axis Powers Does Digital
Tokyopop, who has tried to be a leader in digital manga, takes a step to try to reclaim that title. Hetalia: Axis Powers is a title that been highly anticipated by fans, but the print copy won’t be out until Sept 21. But if you don’t mind reading manga on a computer screen, you can get it now through the Zinio service. Tokyopop has made this title available early through the download service and for about half the price, $5.99. But that not all! Hetalia will also be available through the Overdrive, the digital checkout service for libraries. If you’re library uses Overdrive, but doesn’t have Hetalia, tell Tokyopop. They get a digital copy to them for free! I was going to pass on this title initially, but if I can check out a digital copy from my library, yeah, that would be worth it. It would be nice if publishers made more titles available digitally through Overdrive. With libraries budgets getting slashed by cities, online will be about the only way 9-5 workers can get library books. I know I can’t get to my local library now with their hours slashed to closing at 5PM most days.
Where Do They All Keep Disappearing To?
With digital rights being a big deal, not just with books and publishers now, but with music and movies for over 10 years now, you would think a publisher like PC World would know a copyright infringing site when it saw it. Apparently, even the tech industry has no respect for manga. I guess that makes them no different from most other manga fans. On their website they ran a review of an android app, Manga Browser. Now, normally I wouldn’t expect a tech journalist to know everything about the manga world, but this guy sounds like a manga fan. He’s familiar with what manga is, where to find it online, and what some of the most popular titles are. And what’s his biggest complaint of the software? It relies on scanlation sites. And he’s not upset that it’s scanlation sites it’s linking to, he upset because sites go down and are “unreliable”. Yeah, good sense of reporting there, guy. No mention that the titles he’s mentioning and reading are illegally posted, just that it’s a lot more work to get to them. And if he’s been reading on OneManga (which he bemoans the loss of at the beginning of the review), he surely knows why OneManga went down. But like so many other fans, he just doesn’t care, and gives the scan sites just that much more legitimacy to the rest of the world who doesn’t know better.
Bad Manga Fans!
Black Butler is a popular manga and anime series in both the US and Japan. And for good reason; it’s a fun title. But when mangaka Yana Toboso calls foul on fans that send her letters saying how much they enjoyed reading and/or watching her series for free on streaming/scan sites, what is the reaction from fans in the US on the ANN Forums? To completely diss the mangaka and call her things like “Overly dramatic”, a “complete idiot” and my personal favorite “…insane catlady.” Yeah, good job US manga fandom. You have succeeded in making me ashamed to even be associated with you. Really? You are going to diss on a creator who makes something you like just because she wants to defend her work? How absolutely self-centered and entitled can you be? Honestly? She has to be crazy to want to make money from her hard work? And you call yourself fans? The thread for this story went 28 pages before being locked. But one commenter went through the trouble to translate the original blog post, which you can see here. There’s nothing there that makes me think she’s an idiot or insane. Just very upset. And I certainly don’t blame her.
Spotted on Twitter first. Entries for Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan have been spotted on both Simon and Schuster’s website as well as Amazon.com. Tentative release date is set for February 2011 from Viz Media. I’ve been saying since they announced the streaming of the anime at SDCC, that there had to be an announcement of the licensing of the manga. There is no way Viz would release an anime and not have the rights to the manga as well. These entries pretty much prove I was right. But with a release of the first volume in February kills my hopes that it would be added to Shonen Jump. It’s a WSJ title with an anime showing in the US. It just screams SJ material. I was really hoping it would give me another reason to keep subscribing to SJ. Oh well.
NYT Best Seller List
Both of Tokyopop’s gains from last week are gone this week. Twilight is still hanging on the Hardback list. It moves up 2 to #6. With the Scott Pilgram craze slowing down, Twilight seems to be move slowly back up. Guess who rules the manga roost. No, it’s not Naruto. Last week’s #2, Rosario + Vampire: Season II vol 2, moves into the #1 spot vacated by Warriors: Ravenpaw’s Path vol 3. Black Bird vol 5 stays right behind its fellow blood sucker to #2. Naruto vol 48 moves up 4 to #3 and Bakuman vol 1 moves to #4, also just vacated by Return to Labyrinth vol 4. Negima! Magister Negi Magi vol 27 holds on to #5 while Fullmetal Alchemist vol 23 moves back up 3 to #6. D. Gray-Man vol 18 moves up 1 to #7 and Skip Beat vol 21 moves up 2 to #8. Returning to the list are two titles never far away, Vampire Knight vol 10 comes in at #9 and Black Butler vol 2 at #10. Once again Viz Completely dominates the list taking 8/10 spots. Tokyopop is removed completely and Yen Press and Del Rey just hold on with their biggest sellers.
NYT List: Second Opinion
What’s Matt Blind’s list got to say about all that? Not too much. The top two are the same and one the list only three titles are different. His list still favors Maximum Ride over Black Butler from Yen, and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle seems to do better in his numbers than the NYT’s.
1. Rosario+Vampire Season II 2
2. Black Bird 5
3. Negima! 27
4. Naruto 48
5. Fullmetal Alchemist 23
6. Maximum Ride 3
7. Maximum Ride 1
8. Vampire Knight 10
9. Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle 27
10. Skip Beat! 21
And if you’re interested in how Yen Press is doing over all, check out Matt’s breakout of that publisher by manga, manhwa and OEL.
This Week At Manga Village
What I’m Reading
- One Piece vol 45
[Warning: Contains spoilers for One Piece volume 44]
It’s hard to lose a character you love in a series. It’s even harder when you don’t realize how much you’ll miss that character until you see them go. Creators kill off characters all the time, sometimes it’s because they don’t know what to do with them anymore, sometimes it’s just for the shock it creates in readers, and sometimes, though rarely, it’s even to move the story along.
In volume 44 of One Piece, a very important character is lost. A companion and shipmate that has been with the crew since the 3rd volume; the Merry Go. That’s right, the Straw Pirate’s ship is lost forever. You normally wouldn’t think of a ship as a character. There didn’t seem to be anything special about the Merry Go. It was a small ship compared to many of the other pirate and marine ships. Its figurehead looks like a smiling ram. There’s nothing magical about it except that it kept surviving all the punishment the Luffy and his crew put it through. It was just a ship, right? Not in the hands of Eiichiro Oda.
At the start of the “Water Seven Arc”, the Straw Hats take the Merry Go to the Shipwrights of Water Seven to have her repaired. There they find out the Merry Go is no longer seaworthy, and it is thought lost in the Aqua Laguna. But before the crew can do anything about her, they are distracted by having to save Robin from CP9. It’s an epic battle that levels Enies Lobby, and by the end, Luffy is unable to move after his battle with Lucci, the leader of CP9, and the rest of the crew is surrounded by Marines with no way out.
And then the Straw Hats seem to hear a voice that calls out to them. A voice from the sea that beacons to them. It is their way out, with their last shipmate. It is the Merry Go. She has appeared, as if out of nowhere to help with the rescue. And with Nami navigating, their escape is complete. But all is not well, as the front of the Merry Go breaks away just as they meet up with a ship from Galley-La. It is here that we learn how the Merry Go was able to reach and help her shipmates on her final voyage.
All of this happens in only the last few chapters at the end of the volume. But what’s really amazing about the whole thing is the range of emotions that Oda-sensei is able to evoke throughout them. There’s the joy the whole crew feels when they are not just rescued from certain doom, but rescued by the Merry Go. Then there’s relief and comfort after they are safe from the navy and Luffy takes his “seat” on the Merry Go’s figurehead. Then it is shock and finally acceptance that it’s time to let her go. And then there are the final heart-breaking moments of the Merry Go before she is sent to her final rest.
Oda-sensei uses the visuals to great effect to really bring these emotions home. He interjects panels showing the Merry Go’s figurehead, essentially the face of the ship, in the scenes where it’s prominent or when someone is talking about the ship. It’s amazing how a single expression, a gentle smile, can be used to inspire hope, joy and sadness. It really hits you at the end, as the ship is burning, and the panels alternate between memories from the crew of their time with her and the ship in flames. If you don’t have at least a tear in your eye during these last pages, you ARE NOT HUMAN!
Another thing that really makes these scenes believable is how sparingly Oda-sensei uses the Merry Go talking. The ship doesn’t come alive, it’s more of a disembodied voice that speaks only when she needs to be heard. Before the crew realizes the Merry Go has come for them, they all hear a voice calling to them, telling them to look down, but it’s not shown. Only the crew’s reactions to the voice is shown. She was only shown speaking when she begged Iceberg to fix her, once during the rescue and at the end when she said her final farewell to the crew, her shipmates, her friends.
The final chapter of this volume is heart-breaking, but not in a melodramatic way. You don’t expect to have cared so much for the Merry Go. It was just the Straw Hat Pirate’s ship. It’s after you see her going that you realize how much she really meant to both them and the reader. As Usopp says, “We must all part someday,” but there’s nothing unnatural or forced about this parting. The Merry Go had a good life with shipmates who cared about her. And she was able to get her final wish, to sail the seas one last time with them. It was a fitting end to a well-lived life.
As sad as it is to see The Merry Go go, it is a satisfying closure to a character’s story. How do you say goodbye? Just like this.