Tag Archives: Viz

This Week In Manga: 7/24-7/30/10

San Diego Comic Con Con’t

San Diego Comic Con wrap-up dominated the news this week. But this shouldn’t be too surprising considering the size and breath of the con. Friday night ended with the Eisners, where manga may have had great representation in nominations, but in the end, it was only Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life that was able to take away anything, and saw Naoki Urasawa shut out once again.  A Drifting Life won for Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia as well as Best Reality-Based Work. While I’m happy for Tatsumi and Drawn And Quarterly for their win, I think Pluto deserved more recognition than it got, and the Eisners need to look beyond tradition comic publishers for good titles.

Saturday brought the Tokyopop and Viz Media: Shonen Jump panels, the only other two publishers to have panels at SDCC. Tokyopop’s panel was filled with lots of announcements, including a new title from Min-Woo Hyung, the creator of the Priest manhwa, called Ghostface. They will be making more of their titles available digitally, including through Zinio and Overdrive. They announced three new licenses, Sakura no Ichiban, Pavane for a Dead Girl and Mr. Clean: Fully Equipped as well as providing more information on other titles previously announced/discovered. It’s good to see Tokyopop getting back into the swing of things, and I have to say I’m interested in all the new Yuna Kagesaki material. I really enjoyed Chibi Vampire.

The Viz Media: Shonen Jump panel didn’t have any new licenses to announce, which quick frankly surprised me. I was sure there would be an announcement for Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan. Maybe they’re saving it for NYCC. Most of the panel seemed to be about SJ branding and tie-in products which is disappointing to me. I want SJ to be more than just a marketing tool for things OTHER than manga. There are supposedly changes coming to the magazine, but none of them sound all that great. I don’t need more information on anime tie-ins. New, better manga would be nice. The panel also covered already announced titles, and announced a new omnibus edition of Death Note. Hiroyuki Takei, creator of Shaman King and Ultimo, made a surprise appearance. No Stan Lee at the panel. I’m disappointed in the SJ panel, but that isn’t really any surprise. I have been excited by an SJ panel since the first one. The mag just isn’t exciting to read anymore. It’s probably because I’m not their core audience.

Another license announcement to come out of the con, though they had no panel was from Drawn & Quarterly. They announced two titles from Shigeru Mizuki, the creator of GeGeGe no Kitaro. Onward Toward Our Noble Deaths is a semi-autobiographical story of the final days of World War II, and NonNonBa is about a young boy being introduced to the world of Japanese folklore by an old neighbor woman. Considering one of their license choices took an Eisner as well as getting a lot of acclaim, these are probably titles to watch out for.

The only other panel of interest in manga fans was the Comics and Digital Piracy on Sunday. The panel included prominent manga bloggers Deb Aoki and Jake Forbes. They discussed the problems of piracy and how it affects both comics and manga as well as digital manga in general. The Q & A brought up many of the same arguments we’ve been hearing from scanlators. The panel is interesting if you haven’t been following all the piracy posts lately, which considering the SDCC audience, probably don’t, so it’s good to see these things being talked about in another open forum.

After the con is over and everyone has recovered, that’s when the individual reports start going up. Deb Aoki of Manga.About has reports from Preview Night, Thursday, specifics of the Viz Kids panel and a roundup of manga at SDCC (so far). Also at the con looking at kid’s books was Eva Volin for the Good Comics For Kids blog. Anime Diet had a man on the floor that live blogged the Best/Worst Manga, Yen Press and Tokyopop panels. Daniella of All About Manga writes up about her first two days, and Heidi MacDonald of The Beat has her own coverage of the Piracy panel. Keep watching for more about people find time to write and upload their thoughts and reactions.

Sharp-Dressed Fan

While not strickly manga, but manga-related, is the Scott Pilgrim series. The Monday before SDCC, the final volume in the series was released, and at SDCC, there was heavy promotion for the movie. Now you can go to the movie, which will be released August13 with this contest being sponsored by Daniella of the All About Manga blog. Just tell her your favorite scene from the comic for a chance to win one of three t-shirts from the Mighty Fine t-shirt company. Run, don’t walk to the nearest computer and enter now! (Ad sponsored by Doctor Who SDCC 2010 con exclusive toy and Viz bag. Thank you Daniella! Again!)

Manga Movable Feast: Kissing Up to Paradise

Just as SDCC ended the Manga Movable Feast for July started up. Held this week at the Soliloqy in Blue blog run by Michelle Smith, this month’s title was Ai Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss. You’ll find the introduction to the series here, and an archive of all the links here. This seems to have been a slower Feast than some of the past ones, though it’s hard to tell if it’s because of the material (Paradise Kiss is out of print and not as easy to get a hold of) or because it’s coming on the heels of such a big event as SDCC. But there are still two days left, so keep watching for more entries and for the announcement of the next Feast.

NYT Best Seller List

The list for this week starts out as a truly dark day. Twilight: The Graphic Novel has been pushed not just from its top spot, but from the top 5 all the way down to #9 by mostly Green Lantern: Blackest Night tie-ins. What will Team Jacob and Team Edward do? Happier news awaits on the manga list as Fullmetal Alchemist, one of the best reads out there, debuts and takes the #1 spot with vol 23, pushing Naruto vol 48 back to #2. Ouran High School Host Club vol 14 subsequently falls back to #3 with pal Vampire Knight vol 10 at #4. Alice in the Country of Hearts vol 1 returns to the chart at #5 with the only survivor of CMX (which really doesn’t count as far as I’m concerned, since they were forced into the imprint and not really made for it) Megatokyo vol 6 at #6. The 8th volume of the VizBig edition of Vagabond debuts at #7 while Naruto vol 47 returns again to #8. The VizBig edition of Dragonball Z vol 8 debuts at #9 and Yu-Gi-Oh! R vol 5 ends the list at #10 and the series as well. This is an odd list indeed. The appearance of the VizBig editions are unusual in and of themselves, but to have two at the same time? That’s really weird! Some of the returning titles are odd too, though nothing is more odd that then complete disappearance of Black Butler, a staple to the list for so long. Can this be a sign of the apocalypse?

NTY Best Sellers: Second Opinion

Matt Blind over at Rocket Bomber has something different to say about this week’s top 10 list:

1. Naruto 48
2. Ouran High School Host Club 14
3. Fullmetal Alchemist 23
4. Vampire Knight 10
5. Hellsing 10
6. Maximum Ride 1
7. Naruto 47
8. Maximum Ride 2
9. Bleach 31
10. Alice in the Country of Hearts 1

Notable differences: Matt has no VizBigs on his list. Hellsing, Bleach and Maximum Ride continue to persist on his list while they are no where to be seen on the NYT list. There’s no Yu-Gi-Oh! R and Fullmetal Alchemist didn’t make it to #1 on Matt’s list. This week’s list is a little more consistent with titles, if not with places, with 6 in common. It really makes me wonder what is going on with the NYT numbers that Maximum Ride doesn’t show up, but a lot of Viz new releases do.

Manga For Your Ears

Sesho’s Anime and Manga Reviews

This Week at Manga Village

What I’ve Been Reading

  • Swallowing the Earth
  • Yokai Doctor vol 1
  • Jack Frost vol 3

Review: Gestalt Volume 6

Ouri and Father Olivier are together again, but they’re not about to live happily ever after quite yet. Olivier’s nemesis Ender is back, and even the deadliest dark magic may not be enough to slow him down. he’s determined to bring Olivier back to his Order and force him to face up to the crimes of his past, but Olivier himself has another plan in mind. his best chance at redemption may be hidden somewhere in the forbidden realm of G.

By Yun Kouga
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen +
Genre: Fantasy
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★½☆☆
Buy This Book

Gestalt is an average fantasy/D&D-esque story complete with a group of adventurers that include a priest, a sorcerer, a dark elf and a knight. They are on a quest to find the realm of G. They are being chased by their nemesis and have to fight monsters along the way. It’s a very generic plot that did make it easy to jump into the series at volume 6, but doesn’t do much to make for an overly interesting story.

Fortunately, the characters make up for it. I got to like most of them. Like the plot, the characters aren’t very complex but definitely entertaining. The interactions between Ouri, the hero/heroine and Suzu the dark elf were fun. Ouri was angsty for about half of the volume, but it was a tolerable angst, since he wasn’t totally bemoaning his fate and trying to do something about it. Father Olivier is the very generic kind, gentle priest with a dark side, but I found I liked both sides, though Dark Olivier does win out slightly.

It’s mainly these three characters for two-thirds of the volume. Shazan, the knight, goes on a side quest and makes the jump suddenly in the middle of a fight between Ouri, Suzu and Dark Olivier against Ender. Shazan is searching for the Book of P and goes to a dungeon to face the Wings of Death to try to get the book. For two chapters we go through the whole story of Wings and Shazan helps the ghost Mifa to save Wings and retrieves the book. While I really enjoyed these two chapters, almost more than the main story, the transition to it and then back to the battle were not done well at all. They are very abrupt, especially interrupting a fight just as Dark Olivier comes out, and they are just as abrupt coming back, not even picking up where the battle left off, and just starting in a completely different place, with new characters just wandering in from the street (literally)! I also didn’t care for the gender-bending/BL aspect of the title. I don’t care for either and to have both thrown out at the same time, made for some less than appealing moments.

The art isn’t bad. Everyone is bishie, especially Father Olivier. Everyone, male and female has long, flowing hair, but it isn’t difficult to tell the boys from the girls, as the women are all dressed in skimpy outfits and have ample breasts. This is of course part of the fan service that this volume serves up, but it’s not as blatant as it could be, so I can take it or leave it. I did like some of the monsters. Kouga came up with some fairly cool designs for them. I especially liked Wings, with the large eyes on her head.

Overall, Gestalt is an average title. There’s nothing new in the story or characters, but they are entertaining enough to kill some time, and you won’t feel it’s been wasted. This isn’t a must have title, unless you are a fan of Kouga’s work and/or a completest.

This Week in Manga: 7/3-7/8/10

Anime Expo Con’t

Anime Expo continued on Saturday and Sunday, but there was only one panel the rest of the weekend of interest to manga readers. Viz Media held their panel on Saturday. Most of their news was just reiterations of previously confirmed titles through sightings on Amazon, but they did have some new titles, all from already known and published mangaka here in the US. Deb Aoki has the run down about the panel and new licenses.  She also takes a closer look at DMP’s new titles. Also announced at Viz’s panel was the streaming of a new anime series, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan. It’s published in Weekly Shonen Jump in Japan. Any bets on this being a new license to be announced at SDCC? Maybe it will be serialized in Shonen Jump magazine, and there will be something worth reading other than just One Piece! Am I just dreaming now? Probably.

AX’s Manga Evolution

Over at Robot6, Brigid Alverson takes a look at the evolution of manga publishers and their announcements at AX over the last 5-6 years. It’s an interesting bell curve, as you can see publisher attendance and announcements seem to wax and wane with the market. It’s a good history lesson, so go check it out.  I’ll wait.  What would be really interesting is to look at this trend and compare it to manga publishers at San Diego Comic Con. Does SDCC follow the same trend? Or would it show a different kind of graph? I think the announcements line would go up for SDCC, but publishers attending would go down. It takes money to exhibit at SDCC, and not everyone can make it every year.

THE Manga Database

Matt Blind, the Charles Schwab of the manga world, spent the holiday weekend putting together what must the definitive list of manga published in english since 2000. If you followed him on twitter, you would know of his trials of updating the list, and having enough beer. But what he created is truly wonderous. You won’t find a more comprehensive list anywhere else. And, being the generous man that he is, he has made it available for free in several different formats. If you’ve ever wondered just how many titles and/or volumes of manga have been published in english, this where you start. And it will make an AWESOME checklist, for those of us OCD enough to keep one.

Another Home Run for Manga

UK manga blogger Kimi-chan has an endorsement for manga as an aid for getting reluctant readers to pick up a book. Her son is lot like my youngest daughter. She would sit and read the video game manuals, but getting her to read prose books could be a chore. Kimi-chan’s manga of choice was Ninja Baseball Kyuma, an all ages title from Udon Entertainment. If you’re a teacher, librarian or parent, definitely read about her experience with her son and manga. One thing I found rather humorous, was her worrying about her son knowing about baseball. It’s obviously not as popular in the UK as it is in the US and Japan. Is there a cricket manga, do you think?

NYT Best Seller List

And now, on to the 10 manga list. Twilight on top of the Hardback Graphic Books? Check. Naurto #1 on the Manga list? Vol 48 Check! Vampire Knight vol 10 at #2? NO! WHAT?! The #2 spot is held by The Last Airbender, the graphic adaptation of the movie now out in theaters. This is probably better, shorter, and cheaper than the movie. Vampire Knight vol 10 has to settle for #3 with its new best friend Soul Eater vol 3 at #4. Can manga from two different publisher mingle like this? Black Butler vol 2 might have something to say about this as it leaps two to come in at #5. And what’s a butler without a maid? Maid-Sama vol 5 debuts at #6 to use some of that Bleach vol 31 which falls to #7. Proving that not all vampires are angsty is Hellsing vol 10 falls two to # 8, but hanging on for its 5th week. Who says manga is just for kids?! Naruto vol 47 reappears at #9, as does Yen Press’ most impressive butler, Black Butler vol 1, serving #10. Wow. All of Del Rey’s titles from last week got kicked, which in Fairy Tail‘s case is a crime. And speaking of crimes, two repeat offenders are two-timing the list! Can a butler beat a ninja? Stay tuned to find out.

Manga For Your Ears

Spiraken Manga Reviews

This Week at Manga Village

What I’m Reading

  • One Piece vol 41
  • One Piece vol 42
  • Vampire Hunter D vol 4
  • Culdcept vol 1
  • Gestalt vol 6

Shonen Jump August 2010

This month’s Shonen Jump is the thinnest issue I’ve received since the preview issue that came out at San Diego Comic Con back in 2002. 250 is quite a fall from the 400+ pages we were getting just a year ago. And yes, that is a $7.99 price on the picture. That not what showed up on the actual issue, and I think it’s kind of sloppy of Viz to have such a serious typo on the cover.  Anyway, on to the actual magazine.

It starts out with all the usual ads and anime on DVD/Streaming and video game promos. The manga to start out this month’s mag is One Piece. It’s all out war between White Beard’s pirates and the Navy. Luffy makes a grand entrance in his usual way of course. One of the things that makes Oda such a great mangaka, and One Piece a great manga is the way he incorporates back story scenes during a fight. I think his way of doing the flashbacks is what helps make these long fights so tolerable. The flashbacks aren’t long, but they are straight to the point, and make the impact of the outcome of each characters battle more poignant. Even when it’s a character you’ve only just meant, you care about him by the end. One Piece is still awesome.

Not so awesome is Ultimo.Yamato and Eco have a nice little talk as Eco presents his “third” option. It gets a little meta as Eco tries to help Musashi understand Yamato through manga, and Yamato then has a problem getting Ultimo back as Jealousy and his master Tomomitsu shows up. We learn a little more about who Musashi is and where he came from, but that’s about it for this chapter.

Naruto has Danzo and his men fighting Madara with lots of fancy jujitsu from the men that is completely ineffectual. We finally get to see what’s up with Danzo’s right arm, and then Sasuke appears to take on Danze himself. The angst is still running high, between Naruto agonizing over what to do about Sasuke, and Sasuke trying to get all his vengence. I’m ready to move on from the angst. If I were reading this in graphic novels only, I would have dropped it by now.

Bleach isn’t faring much better. The fight between Ichigo and Grimmjow is STILL going on, at least until espada #5, Noitora interrupts, deciding he wants to kill Ichigo now. The we get 2 pages of Renji and Uryu running in a circle and back to the espada they were fighting when Ichigo and Grimmjow’s battle first started. Bleach suffers from the same angst as Naruto it’s really killed the series for me.

Next issue Shaman King returns as a spotlight manga, but there are no new announcements for the magazine. This is the most disappointing issue so far. Viz had better do something. Their Naruto/Yu-Gi-Oh! card giveaways can only keep the magazine going so far. A price drop was announced at Anime Expo of $3.00 to make a year subscription $26.99 and the new title Genkaku Picasso will get a preview in September. But, I’m really hoping for a more permanent title. Kekkaishi might have been a  good addition, since the anime is showing on Cartoon Network right now, and that seems to be a prerequisite to be in the magazine anymore. Though, a new streaming anime they announced, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan does have potential of becoming a new addition. I’ll just have to wait to see what they announce at SDCC in two weeks.

This Week in Manga: 6/12-6/18/10

TWiM

Continuing to Live Up to Their Name

It was first announced over the weekend at  The Yaoi Review and then found further confirmation by the end of the week. Digital Manga Publishing is looking into an online manga plan that would allow scanlators to do their work legally. President and CEO of DMP Hikaru Sasahara made it official by talked with ANN more about the online venture that would allow fans to translate manga legally, with payment coming after the book shows a profit. They have “1000s” of titles lined up, but no details beyond that. Scanlators are skeptical, many calling it spec work, and thinking DMP is looking to rip them off. What is there to rip off though? They are already doing the same work for free, only this time it will be with the blessing of the creators who work they are taking, and if they do a good enough job, they’ll get more than online kudos. I just hope it won’t be mostly BL titles.

Manga Roll

Crunchyroll, the streaming site that went legit, is getting some more funding, this time from a book publisher. Bitway, an e-book publisher in Japan, is looking to extend it reach and use it’s know-how to get manga into the US. It has invested $750,000 in Cruchyroll, and will reportedly build a comic distribution platform within the site’s framework. This idea definitely has potential. There certainly is a market for online manga, and with both cellphone and tablet technology continuing to improve, now is the time to get a platform in place. Just as long as it’s not’ platform specific, and is open to all OSes and hardware. No DRM would be nice, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon, with publishers demanding the books be hobbled, so it takes pirates 25 hours instead of 24 to crack it, just to show they can.

Still Talking Scanlations

The coalition of manga publishers that was announced last week is still in the news. Debates about scanlations are still going on in comments of blogs and on forums. Manga Fox, one of the big scanlation sites (usually in the top ten of a google search for a manga title) has started pulling titles. They started with the Viz titles, but it soon snowballed as individual scanlation groups began asking for their own titles to be pulled as well, irrespect of whether it was licensed or not. Kind of like rats leaving the sinking ship, it seems no one wants to be around when the boom falls, if indeed it does. It’s been rumored that the owners of Manga Fox, a Chinese company, is looking to negotiate with the coalition.

Of course there are plenty of cries of “Foul!” from readers of these sites. Not surprisingly, many of the commentors were well aware that what they were doing was illegal, proving education isn’t the issue. Any they see the free ride is coming to an end. Others seem to think they are fighting the good fight and still shout out their sound bites for justifying scanlations. Lissa Pattillo of Kuriousity takes on many of these, and gives her own rebuttal. It’s a long post that she obviously put a lot of time and thought into. It’s worth the time check out. Personally, I think the topic is starting to run in circles. We know why scanlations exist and why sites like Onemanga and Manga Fox exist. What we need now is for publishers to deliver a solution, that greatly reduces the need for these. I’m hoping that is what eventually comes from this coalition. Not just cooperation to get the aggregators, but to work together to create something that will make everyone happy. A happy internet is a profitable internet.

Shonen Jump Price Hike?

This story comes from the comments of my own blog. If you’re a regular reader, then you know I’m a subscriber to Shonen Jump magazine. I’ve made it a regular feature to talk about the latest monthly issue. A comment by John on my latest post pointed out something on the next issue; a price hike. It seems that Shonen Jump will be going from $4.99 to $7.99. With these difficult times, especially for publishing, something like may seem inevitable. But what makes this worse, is that along with the price hike, the page count is going down, from an average of around over 300 down to 250. There hasn’t been anything on the net about this (that I could find), but then I’m sure this is something Viz doesn’t want to advertise either. A look at future issues does show the price still at $4.99, but then they were still advertising for Shojo Beat after announcing it’s end, so I don’t put as much stock in pre-order pricing. Personally, if Viz does this, then my current subscription will be my last. If they were adding something like another series along with the price hike, it would be easier to swallow. But if it stays at the titles it’s currently running now, no way. They should just go digital like Yen Plus.

NYT Best Seller List

This week’s list looks a lot like last week’s.Viz continues their dominance with 5 of the 10 spots belong to their books. But first, hitting its 13th week at #1 is Twilight: The Graphic Novel over on the Hardback lists. Those Twilight legions are strong! Over on the manga list, the top three spots still belong to Naruto vol 48, Vampire Knight vol 10, and Bleach vol 31 respectively. Hellsing vol 10 moves up 3 spots to #4, quite a showing for a Dark Horse title. Black Butler vol 2 continues to hold the #5 spot and is Yen’s only title on the list. Yu-Gi-Oh! R vol 5 holds on to #6 as well, while Alice in the Country of Hearts vol 3 moves up one to #7 and is Tokyopop’s only title. Del Rey’s Negima! Magister Negi Magi vol 26 falls another four to #8. Naruto vol 47 returns to the list at #9 and the only debut title, Battle Angel Alita: Last Order vol 13 comes in at #10. Not surprisingly, the One Piece titles from last week have fallen off again. I just don’t get why this series can get any traction. It’s easily better than Naruto or Vampire Knight! I don’t expect much change in the list for the next few weeks, as there hasn’t been a lot of titles coming out. I think we’ll see some old friends return as the shiny-ness of new release wears off on some of these titles.

Manga For Your Ears

Sci-Guys Podcast

  • Episode 24 – Tiamat’s Disciple/Art Books – 55:00

Sesho’s Anime and Manga Reviews

This Week at Manga Village

Shonen Jump July 2010

91_largeIt’s more of the same old, same old from Shonen Jump this month. I actually read this a few weeks ago, but just haven’t felt that push to write about it. With June’s end coming up closer than I thought, I figured it was time to get down to work and write this post. After once again wading through all the pretty color pages of SJ anime, CCG and video game “reviews”, we finally get to manga.

Once again, SJ starts with the preview of Bakuman, and it’s the last installment. Akito and Moritaka go to Moritaka’s Uncle’s studio/apartment, and Akito finally gets to see what a storyboard is. Even though they see how daunting the task they are taking on will be, they remain enthusiastic and even vow to get them manga made into an anime before they’re 18! There’s not much going on in this chapter unless you like strolls down memory lane. I’m still undecided on this title. The talk of Geniuses and the women in the previous chapter soured it some for me.  It will probably take at least a full volume to make a definite decision.

Bleach ‘s chapter is all about angst and background of Grimmjow. Orihime worries and wonders about Ichigo in his hollow state. We see how Grimmjow started on his road to become Arrancar, all the while Ichigo and Grimmjow keeps fighting. In other words, nothing interesting happened. I might have been interested in Grimmjow’s past at one point, but now, I’m just bored. Some real story would be nice.

Ultimo has Yamato back in the past, reliving the day he found Ultimo. He remembers the previous time line, and notices differences and Murayama, the boy from the future transfers into his class. We get some more background on Dunstan (shown in a kimono with a spider on it) and Yamato has to choose between saving the world and Ultimo. The info on Dunstan doesn’t help anything, though I’m interested in what Eco has to say to Yamato, but this series is still just a time passer.

One Piece remains on top of its game with Luffy and his band of escaped pirates all heading for Navy Headquarters to rescue Ace, where the truth of his past is revealed not just to the reader, but to the whole world, and man, is it an exciting reveal! This information tides the reader over until the moment everyone, including the navy has been waiting for; the arrival of White Beard. And he’s got some plans for the Navy for taking his son. These are some great chapters of One Piece. I love learning more about Ace’s background, and finally getting to meet White Beard, after hearing so much about him. And he’s got a pretty impressive Devil Fruit power too.

In Naruto, the battle between Bee and Kisame finally ends, and Naruto learns the truth behind Sakura’s less-than-convincing confession last issue. And Naruto’s not too thrilled about it. But news of what happened at the summit means Kakashi must return to Konoha, and Naruto has an new protector in Gaara, and the cliff hanger is Danzo revealing his right arm in a fight against Madara. Naruto has lost its punch and fallen into a hole of angst as Naruto fusses over Sasake and Sakura. Not even the ending battle between Bee and Kisame could save these chapters. I’m just not feeling it with Naruto right now. I know it’s set up for the next big battle, but it’s starting to wear.  Something needs to happen.

And…that’s it for the mag. No Spotlight chapters, and no news if there are any changes coming up in the issue. The last pages just pimp the battles coming up (or continuing) in the next issue. I guess maybe the Spotlight chapters weren’t so popular? Are they staying with just 4 manga titles so they can keep the chapter count up for Naruto and One Piece? Anyone else think there’s a Bleach speed up in the future? The anime just went streaming. Man though, has the page count dropped! They’re pushing 312 pages for $4.99? Really? Not so long ago it was over 400! Does SJ have a future as a print magazine, or will it go the way of Yen Plus? It’s loosing it’s worth to me with every issue like this. I’d rather just get the One Piece GNs and not bother with the mag if it’s gonna keep dropping like this.

Memorial Manga

eagle-v4-2Memorial Day is a national holiday in the US, the day when we remember all the people who gave their lives in the service of the country. If you look hard enough, you can find this theme in manga as well. Even though Memorial Day is celebrated with parades and ceremonies at cemetaries honoring the fallen, it can also be celebrated through the actions of the living, who carry on the memories of the dead.

In Eagle: The Making of an Asian American President, the protagonist, Yamaoka was a soldier in Vietnam, and decides to become the President of the United States when he returns. In volume 4 of the series, he attends a Remembrance Service at the Vietnam Vet wall, where he denounces war. This upsets a lot of people, but really, what better way is there to honor those who died in war, than to try to keep any more sons and daughters from dying in it?

Pluto 1Pluto: Tezuka x Urasawa is a retelling of the Astro Boy storyline “Greatest Robot in the World”. When Tezuka first wrote the story, he was writing of the Vietnam war as well. In Urasawa’s version, argument can be made that he is discussing the Iraq War, a much more recent, but no less violent conflict. In Pluto, the 39th Central Asia War was fought by robots, but that doesn’t make them any less worthy to be remembered. As the story opens, people are mourning the death of Mont Blanc, a soldier from that war who turned to helping people afterwards. Pluto‘s theme is also one of anti-war, where the memories of the conflict and those who were killed greatly affect the survivors.

Fullmetal 15Fullmetal Alchemist is another title that denounces war. Many of the characters in this title were soldiers in a terrible war against the Ishbalans. In volume 15, we hear the whole story. Roy Mustang was so profoundly affected by the war, that like Yamaoka in Eagle, he decides he must become the leader of Ametris so something like that can never happen again. Though, unlike Yamaoka, there is no democratic way to the top, and Mustang must still be soldier to make his way up. But the memories of what happened, and the vow he made have never been forgotten by him or his subordinates and friends who help him.

This Memorial Day, take some time to think about the men and women who have died to keep this country free, but also think about things we can do so no one else has to mourn a father, mother, sister, brother, son or daughter in such conflicts ever again.

This Week in Manga 5/22-5/28/10

TWiM

May Movable Manga Feast

This month’s movable manga feast featured the Vertical title To Terra… a sci-fi shonen from the 70’s. It was hosted by Kate Dacey of The Manga Critic blog. Reviews for the title were a lot more varied than on previous titles. People definitely had their opinion of this series and had no problem expressing it. You’ll find an introduction to the series and all the links to the participating reviews at the top link.

Well, That’s a Surprise

Here’s something that shouldn’t shock reader of Hunter x Hunter. It’s going on hiatus. Again.  What is this? Once a year at least, this title has to stop? Is this something in Togashi’s contract? If he hates writing this series so much, why doesn’t he just cancel it. Or hand it off to an assistant. At least do something to give fans closure. This is like a bad relationship, and someone’s gotta stop the vicious circle.

This Actually Is!

Dark Horse, which has started to feature titles on Facebook, recently had one entry on Ghost Talker’s Day Dream, which included the news that the series would be returning in September. The title was previously reported cancelled, so this is very good news for fans. It is a seinen horror action, so it’s written for adults. It can also be rather graphic, so be warned if you’re thinking of checking out this title.

Talkin’ ’bout a Solution

Over on Twitter, Erica Friedman of Okazu blog decided to take things into her own hands (sort of), and start crowd sourcing for a solution to the problem of illegal distribution of manga. After outlining the “Problem”, responses started to come in for a “Good Solution”. After the first session, the conclusion was:

To reiterate: The first wave of the Good Solution for Manga: Browser platform, pay and POD are a must, open-source on language and region…

…creator community, rewards to creators from user focus.

To see more of the responses, search Twitter for “yuricon”, “Problem”, “solution” and you’ll get most of the conversations.

Back to the Problem

Robot 6 helps to point out why illegal distribution is a problem, and why publishers need to implement their own “Good Solution”. Google recently released its list of the 1000 most visited websites based on their Double Click Ad Planner, and One Manga, the aggregator site that hosts illegal scans, placed at 935. It beat out many corporate sites such as NFL.com and ToyRus.com. If this doesn’t convince publishers that a “Hulu of manga” is needed, nothing will.

NYT Best Seller List

It’s all out war on the list this week, between Viz and Yen Press.  Starting with the Hardback books, Twilight has once again reclaimed the top spot from Kick Ass. Down on the manga list, Yen Press has also reclaimed the #1 spot with Black Butler vol 2 with Black Bird vol 4 falling back to #2. Pandora Hearts vol 2 debuts and takes the #3 spot, forcing Naruto vol 47 back to #4. Black Butler vol 1 holds on to #5, as D. Gray-man vol 17 falls three to #6. Kobato vol 1, the new CLAMP series, and debuts on the list at #7 followed by Rinne vol 3 at #8. Yotsuba&! vol 8 holds onto #9 and Rosario Vampire: Season II vol 1 falls four to #10. Interesting list, as Yen Press and Viz alternate up the list with Yen taking all the odd number and Viz getting all the evens. It’s also the start of the battle of the blacks. We’ll have to see if next week, the Butler can hold out, or if the Bird will take back it’s #1 spot.

News From Japan

More Manga We’ll Never See

ANN reports of a new manga launching in Japan that we’ll never see legally stateside. It’s a shojo title for the movie of the TV series Macross Frontier, the 25th anniversary TV series, and sequel to the original Macross, which was one of the three series’ that made up Robotech. This particular title is actually about one of the characters, Sheryl, who is the pop idol at the beginning of the series. This manga tells of her beginnings. Due to lawsuits over copyright issues, the US has never had an official release of a Macross series since Macross Plus, and it doesn’t look like things will be changing any time soon, which is a real shame, because is any series could popularize mecha titles in this country, it would be Macross.

Manga For Your Ears

Anime Today

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Spiraken Manga Review

This Week at Manga Village

What I’ve Been Reading

  • Tena on a S-String vol 2
  • Yotsuba&! vol 8
  • Shonen Jump July 2010

This Week in Manga 5/15-5/21/10

TWiM

Do you “Size” Up?

Inspired by a conversation on Twitter about what it means to be a fan, Ed Sizemore of the Manga Worth Reading blog tries to clarify his position. I bring this up because there has been a lot of talk about digital piracy and it’s effects on manga publishers. Ed’s view is basically that you can only call yourself a fan if you invest yourself, time and money, in the thing that you love. While I can see where he’s coming from, I can’t say I completely agree with his position. I don’t think there should be parameters put on what makes someone a fan of something. Being a fan of something, whether it’s TV, movies, or manga, shouldn’t be contingent on how much time you spend talking up a show or buying everything sight that branded with it. I’m a fan of Castle, but I don’t feel a burning need to buy the book or DVDs. I’m fine with watching the show every week. Does that make me less of a fan than someone who makes Lego Castle and Beckett figures? I don’t think so. By the same token, people or borrow manga from a friend or the library can still be fans of manga without actually buying the books, or obsessing over them. I would say you could start to draw the line at people who read licensed material at illegal aggregator sites, but I would still be reluctant to do so. Stealing the material doesn’t mean you’re still not a fan.  You’re just a bad fan. Trying to put up walls about what makes someone a fan will only keep more people out than what should be the desired effect, to get more people in.

When It Rains, It Pours

What a depressing way to come home from work. The news about DC pulling the plug on CMX not only shocked me, it completely ruined my week. Yes, the news of other publishers going under was sad, but most of them hadn’t released a title in at least 6 months, some longer. CMX was not only continuing to release titles, they were putting up new titles.  They were active on Twitter. There was nothing, no sign to indicate that there was a problem. The way it looks is that DC is run by a bunch of asshats who don’t like anything that doesn’t appeal to the male 13-21 demographic, and if anything like that still exists at the company, it must be stamped out immediately.  But don’t just take my word for it. Check out the many articles and blog posts people have written about it, expressing their feelings as well. DC really struck a nerve with this one, and not in a good way. But that’s “business as usual” for them, isn’t it?

Cross Game Online

On Monday, Viz started the serialization of Cross Game, a coming of age story and the game of baseball. The first two chapters are up and can be read for free online. I guess Viz’s experiment with online manga is working for them, or else we wouldn’t keep seeing new titles being introduced. I’m curious to see how successful this title turns out to be. Sports manga hasn’t traditionally done well in the US, despite us being a very sports oriented culture.

Peer Pressure

Manga companies and fans alike would do well to listen to the words of Audrey Taylor, former creative director of Go! Comi. She delves out some advice from her experience at Go! Comi, much of which has been said before, but perhaps coming from a fellow publisher, the words won’t go unheeded. While most of the advice is directed at publishers, readers can take something away from her words too. Once a book has been licensed and published, you don’t need to “build an audience” for it anymore. Posting legal copies online DOES hurt the company you are supposedly trying to help. If you want to “build an audience” then promote the publisher. Don’t scan their book to put online, and don’t continue to scanlate them. I know some people will claim they have to keep scanlating since there’s no guarantee the publisher will complete the series, but that’s just a self-fulfilling prophesy. By continuing to make illegal copies available, less people will buy the books, which makes it harder for the publisher to stay in business, so that when they go out of business you can justify your illegal acts.

Tokyopop-ing Up

Finally we are seeing some progress from Tokyopop’s restructuring from 2 years ago. First TP announced a film based on the manhwa Priest, and now they have plans in the works for The Dreaming, an OEL manga by Queenie-Chan, to become a film.  It will be interesting to see if this venture pans out. The Priest production has gone through a lot to get to a release date. Hopefully, The Dreaming won’t have the same problems.

Two possible new licenses were also sighted on Amazon this week, purported to be coming from Tokyopop. Both are shojo titles from Hakusensha. Sorairo Kaigen is a high school romance about a girl who is rescued on a bus by a boy who may be from her past. It’s complete at 6 volumes. Kirameki Gingachou Shoutengai is a little long at 10 volumes and is a romantic comedy about 6 friends who grew up in the Galaxy Street Shopping Center. Both look interesting, and with the loss of CMX, we need a new source of Hakusensha titles.

NYT Best Seller List

Viz holds 8 of the 10 titles on this week’s list again, and it’s back to business as usual. First, over in the hardback comics list, Kick-Ass and Twilight have switched places again, with Twilight falling back to #2.  Over on the manga list, Black Bird vol 4 keeps hold of the #1 spot for a second week, while Naruto vol 47 returns after a brief stint off last week at #2. D.Gray-man vol 17 holds on to #3 and Inuyasha vol 48 debuts at #4. Black Butler vol 1, one of the two non-Viz titles, returns at #5 as does Rosario Vampire: Season II vol 1 at #6. Falling 5 spots to #7 is Otomen vol 6, while Viz Signature title Biomega vol 2 debuts at #8. Yotsuba&! vol 8, the othe non-Viz title falls back 4 to #9, and only one One Piece, vol 46, hangs onto the list at #10. So Viz continues to dominate with Yen Press being the only other publisher able to hold their own against them week to week. Most of the changes are in which Viz titles will make it to the list, and while not a lot of changes are surprises, it’s nice to see some of the older titles like Inuyasha charting, as well as a Signature title.

Manga For Your Ears

Manga Out Loud

  • Episode 07 – Mechamedia with the Reverse Theives

Sci-Guys Podcast

Spiraken Manga Reviews

This Week at Manga Village

What I’m Reading

  • Otodama v1
  • Antique Bakery v1-2
  • Dinosaur King 1-2

This Week In Manga 5/8-5/14/10

TWiM

Have We Lost Our Soul?

Monday started out with a bang as new spread quickly on twitter and then the blogs that Go! Comi’s website had expired. Gia Manry of Anime Briefs caught the expiration first, and attempted to contact someone through voice, but couldn’t get ahold of anyone. No official word has come back from any reps of the company, which doesn’t bode well for its future. The speculation that the manga company for sale in Southern California was Go! Comi gets stronger by the minute. Even though this news wasn’t all that surprising, it is still a bit of a shock, and I hope there are some publishers out there willing to “troll” the Go! Comi licenses and give us some hope of seeing them through to the end. Jus don’t look to Yen Press for that.

Another Tremor in the Manga Market

And the news didn’t improve any on Tuesday, as Publishers Weekly broke the news that Viz Media had laid off 60 employees, or 40% of their total. The Doomsayers didn’t come out for this, but there was a lot of worry for the Signature/Ikki line, since it’s not a cash cow in regards to sales. Viz later posted on their blog that the layoffs were a part of a company restructuring, and that no titles were in danger of being cancelled. They must have gotten a lot of worried inquiries in order to post a message like that. It’s good to hear that none of our favorite titles will be going away anytime soon, but also sad that so many people had to lose their jobs. Here’s wishing them well and that they find new work soon.

The Path to Hell…

David Welsh of The Manga Curmudgeon writes about an email he received advocating a “new” way to get manga piracy sites shut down; tell the site advertisers that the site has child p_rn on it. While I’m sure the person/persons who came up with this approach had good intentions in wanting to stop the pirates and help manga publishers, I have to say it’s a terrible idea. I’m in complete agreement with David when he says this approach will demonize the content, which is the last thing we need. Manga and anime are still fighting the perception that is filled things bad for children to read (see next story), so we don’t need actual “fans” adding to that bad image. Publishers need to do the work to stop these sites from putting up their rightful content, and they don’t need this kind of “help” which would very likely backfire and make their product nearly impossible to shelf and sell since the perception will be that manga is for child p_orn.

Death Note:1 Book Banners:0

ANN reports on the results of an attempt to ban the manga Death Note from high schools in the Albuquerque Public School District. In short, a parent complained about the death in Death Note, going so far as to compare it to the Columbine shooting. This is a clear example of a parent either not reading or understanding what the title is about.  There is not comparison between the two. Death Note is about justice and morality. Just who should get to decide who lives and who dies. Columbine was revenge. Death Note can get a kid thinking about things they probably never thought about before with respect to justice, and the death penalty, which as an adult they will have to deal with as a voter and juror. These are things that can’t be taught. But if presented properly can get the wheels turning so one can come to their own decision. That is the value of a series like Death Note.

Did You Remember to Call?

Sunday was Mother’s Day. Did you remember to call your mother and wish her a happy day? She could be lying on the floor of the kitchen right now, unable to get help and you would never know… Jason Yadao remembered Mother’s Day by giving a list of mothers in manga. While I didn’t do it this year, the previous two years I did posts about moms in manga as well. Jason hits a lot of moms I didn’t so check out all the lists for some great moms in manga. And for goodness sake, call your Mother. She’s worried about you.

NYT Best Seller List

Despite of, or maybe because of, Viz holds the 8 of the 10 slots again this week, and the biggest shock of it, Naruto is nowhere to be found on it! Let’s start off with checking in on Twilight in the Hardcover list. Is it back at #1? You betcha! Over in manga, Black Bird vol 4 holds the #1 slot, a book I wouldn’t have thought would make or deserve it, but it does, on both counts. Otomen vol 6 takes the #2 slot with D. Gray-man vol 17 coming in at #3. One Piece vol 44 takes the #4 position, with the only Yen Press title, Yotsuba&! vol 8 taking #5. One Piece cuts its way through again with vols 46 and 45 at #6 and #7 respectively while last week’s #1, Tsubasa vol 26, falls back to #8.  One Piece then finishes out the list with vols 47 and 48 taking #9 and #10 spots. It’s another list of debuts, with Yotsuba&! and Tsubasa being the only titles to hold over from last week. All of the Viz titles are debuts. We’ll see how long this will last though. One Piece never seems to last past the first release week, though it is good to see all five making the cut again. But with Yen Press’ Black Butler coming out this week, I’m sure the #1 title next week will have Black in the title, it just won’t be a bird.

This Week at Manga Village

What I’m Reading

  • Black Jack vol 7

Review: Maoh: Juvenile Remix Volume 1

In the city of Nekota, where rapid modernization threatens everything the longtime residents hold dear, one young man has stood up to oppose progress. Inukai and his team of vigilantes, known as Grasshopper, protect the citizens from the rising crime wave and the greedy hands of businessmen bent on turning every block into a modern strip mall. But what is this public hero’s true motive? Is this angelic man actually a devil in disguise?

High school student Ando has the special ability to make others say out loud what he’s thinking. But will this be enough to uncover Inukai’s secrets and stop the plot to control the city?

Maoh JR 1By Megumi Osuga
Publisher: Viz Media/Shonen Sunday
Age Rating: Teen+
Genre: Mystery/Drama
Price: $9.99/Free Online
Rating: ★★★★☆
Buy This Book

Change is unavoidable. It’s a contradictory constant. But the forces for change can be either good or bad. This first volume of Maoh: Juvenile Remix shows how words can bring about change, but leaves the question of its benefit open to interpretation.

The volume starts by introducing the protagonist, Ando, a high school student in the 11th grade. Because of an incident when he was young, he tries not to stand out.  He has the ability to make people say what he’s thinking and was ridiculed by his classmates for it. Now, he likes to blend in with the crowd, and not get involved with other people’s business. He is a bystander to the world around him.

Enter Mr. Inukai, the leader of a vigilante group known as Grasshopper. His is good-looking, confident and charismatic. He always has a benign expression and gentle smile on his lips. He and his followers patrol Nekota City, protecting the people from harm. Inukai’s greatest weapon in this fight seems to be his words. He can sway a crowd to his way of thinking or inspire individuals to action. Even Ando, who sees him in action one day. Inukai’s claim that anyone can change the world if they believe it enough, stirs Ando from his inaction. Using his ability, he helps a girl being groped on a train, and tries to help a classmate who is being bullied.

Ando’s fascination with Inukai gives him a glimpse in a darkness that seems to exist in Inukai and the Grasshoppers. Instead of being scared away by this revelation, Ando becomes more interested in Inukai and determined to find out what his real motives are.

When I first started reading this title online at Shonensunday.com, I didn’t think much of it. Reading the first volume however, has really changed my opinion. There is a lot going on here, between And’s ability and Inukai’s true intentions.  Inukai seems helpful, and to have good intentions toward the people of Nekota City. But like other charismatic leaders from the past, he may have more sinister motives. Ando says it as he’s talking to his classmate Kaname and asks what if Inukai is the devil? It’s a powerful question and gives the reader a lot to think about.

The panel layout is easy to follow, and the art is decently done. It was difficult at first to figure out Inukai’s gender, and he has several female qualities, but I found the ambiguity about his gender added to the mystique of his character.

Maoh: Juvenile Remix isn’t an action title but neither is it boring. There is a bit of talking, both in internal dialog and in discussions between characters, but it’s not just exposition. There is a real story going on here, one that’s definitely worth checking out.

Review copy provided by publsher. Images © Viz Media

Shonen Jump June 2010

90_largeIt’s a new month and that means a new issue of Shonen Jump, the soon to be last bastion of manga magazine’s in print. This month continues the preview of Bakuman, spotlights Claymore, and gives a lot more of the same battle manga that has dominated the magazine for the year. Yeah, I can’t say I was all the enthusiastic to pick it up. But let’s start at the beginning. Once you get past all the ads and more ads disguised as “news” you get to some actual manga.

First up is the second chapter of Bakuman. At the beginning there is a short blurb on how kanji can be pronounced in different ways and have different meanings. This will be interesting if you enjoy word games or plays on words. The actual chapter has Akito and Moritaka still debating about becoming manga artists. While the first chapter did pique my interest, this second chapter manages to squash it. Akito gives a lengthy lecture about how the love of Moritaka’s life, Miho, is smart because she doesn’t act too smart, and is just passing time until she gets a husband. Yeah. The whole thing nearly bordered on offensive as far as I’m concerned, and does not impress me in any way.

Naruto was on the less-than-impressive side this month as well. The fight between Killer Bee and the Akatsuki Kisame begins, while Sakura goes to Naruto to confess her love for him, because she thinks that will stop Naruto from chasing after Sasuke. Apparently she thinks Naruto will just give up because she tells him too. And her confession is light on any real feeling. I wasn’t buying what she was saying, and I’m glad Naruto didn’t either. I’ve never cared for Sakura, and this just reinforces my feelings.

The one bright moment in the magazine continues to be One Piece. Luffy’s and Buggy’s groups back out of Impel Down, only to have the ships sailing away. It’s up to Jimbei, Crocodile and Daz to secure a ship while Luffy keeps Magellan at bay. He figures out a way to fight Magellan with Mr. 3’s help. Jimbei shows some of his power as he hits the sea to help everyone. More good action here. And I like that Luffy uses his brain instead of just brawn to keep Magellan back. But it’s Bon’s sacrifice at the end that proves his friendship with Luffy and makes for a great ending.

Bleach starts the actual fight between Ichigo and Grimmjow. It’s 57 pages of one-upping. Ichigo only fights as much as he has to, and Grimmjow just keeps upping the ante, that is until he threatens Orihime and Nel, and of course that’s when the hollow mask comes out. Grimmjow takes on a panther like shape, and battle goes on.

Ultimo continues into territory I don’t care for, with all the evil karakuri doji killing all the good karakuri doji, forcing Yamato to play exactly into their hands. I HATE that good always has to be shown as weak and lose against evil. It’s become a plot device that I’ve really grown to hate, just as I have this series.

The showcase manga this week is Claymore. The chapter shown in this issue is from the upcoming volume 16. If it’s meant to draw me into the manga and check it out, this chapter doesn’t do a very good job of it. I spent more time scratching my head, wondering what was going on that being drawn in. There’s a seven-year jump in the manga, which is where volume 16 starts. This chapter starts with Clare (the protagonist) and a few other Claymores taking to a bald guy, and then it switches to two more Claymores, watching three fight off a huge Yoma. The two spend all their time commenting on he abilities of the other three. There’s nothing to really latch onto in this showcase. It shows the action, but I get more than enough action as it is, and often done better.

No news in this volume about any up coming changes to the magazine, and there no Showcase manga next week.  There will be Yu-Gi-Oh 5D’s card though. Look forward to that. As it stand now, I read Shonen Jump just to have post to write, not because I look forward to the titles anymore (other than One Piece). With the end of the Bakuman preview next month, I’m hoping once again, for some kind of good announcement about some new title being added to the magazine. I would seriously consider canceling and switching to Yen Plus, but not with it stopping its print edition (my prefered method of reading). It’s starting to look like manga magazines are going to the way of the dinosaur, which is a shame.