Tag Archives: Yen Press

Manga at Anime Expo 2015 Part 3


Anime Expo occurred over the Fourth of July weekend at the Los Angeles Convention Center, and there were certainly a lot of fireworks as publisher exploded with new license announcements. Over the four-day holiday weekend, Viz, Vertical, Crunchyroll, Kodansha Comics and Yen Press all announced titles, some of which nearly had fans swooning from shock and excitement.

Yen Press started out the last day of the con with an overload of licenses and announcements. They just piled on the titles, some digital only, some digital going print, some light novels, and plenty of manga.

HanadaKunStarting with print, a title that had been previously announced as a digital only at Sakura Con has moved up to print before even coming out. Handa-kun is the prequel series to Barakamon, which as been doing really well in Japan, reportedly better than the main series. I really liked Barakamon. I binge-read the first four volumes, so this series has moved up from a wait and see to a want. It was also announced to be a simul-pub which Yen Press will begin in October with several other Square-Enix titles.

My Youth My Youth Romantic ComedyRomantic Comedy is Wrong As I Expected started as a light novel series. It follows antisocial high school student Hachiman Hikigaya who has a distorted view of life. He has no friends or girlfriend and has a very pessimistic view on his classmates and his future. In order to change his twisted outlook, he his forced by one of his teachers to join the volunteer service club, which also has Yukino Yukinoshita, the school’s prettiest girl as the sole member. There are 11 volumes of the light novel series and four of the manga series, both of which Yen Press has licensed and scheduled for release in 2016. Despite the long and awkwardly worded title, this series sounds interesting as it looks at the psychological motives behind teen interactions in high school.

Log Horizon West WindLog Horizon: The West Wind Brigade is a side story to Log Horizon and follows Sojiro and the members of the West Wind Brigade. Yen Press already has the main manga and light novel series of the users of the online game Elder Tale being trapped in the game and having to fight to survive. There are 5 volumes so far, but no release date was announced. Fans of Log Horizon or this genre will enjoy the side story. I will pass.

SAO PhantomThese next two titles are no brainers. Sword Art Online: Phantom Bullet and Mother’s Rosario continue the 3rd and 4th story arcs of the light novel series Sword Art Online. Yen Press has already licensed and released several other manga adaptation and side stories, so these next to arcs should come as no surprise. Phantom Bullet is at one volume so far which will be released in September 2015 and Mother’s Rosario is at two with the first to be released in December 2015. I wasn’t impressed with SAO, so I don’t think these two titles will do anything to change that.

Demonizer ZilchDemonizer Zilch is a supernatural series that follows Io Haruomi. He is haunted by his past where his sister and friend died and he was powerless to help them. Despite his guilt, he tries to live a normal life as an average high school student, until he meets a girl with glowing red eyes known as an Eda. She has escaped from the “Seven Great Gospel Organizations” and shows Io that he is an Eda too, throwing him into the midst of the battle between humans and the devil. There is only one volume so far, and Yen did not announce a release date. I’m getting a “meh” feeling from this one.

Taboo TattooTaboo Tattoo is an action title about Justice Akazuka, aka Seigi, a young man who is good at martial arts. He rescues an old homeless man from some thugs and is given an object by him that imprints a tattoo on his palm. The tattoo imbues Seigi with supernatural powers such as warping space-time. He is then pursued by Ijii, a female American agent sent to retrieve the tattoos, which are actually secret weapons in an arms race. Seigi offers to help Ijii, and becomes entangled in a cross-nation conspiracy. This title sounds interesting, but has a lot of male-gaze potential as well. I hope the former will be greater than the latter. I’d give this one a read. I love conspiracy stories.

How to raise a boring girlfriendHow to Raise a Boring Girlfriend is a manga adaptation of a light novel series that surprising Yen did not license as well. It is about otaku Tomoya Aki who meets a beautiful girl over summer vacation. He models her after the heroine for his own doujin game he is working on for Comiket with two of his fellow students helping with the art and writing. She turns out to be his classmate that no one seems to notice. There are five volumes so far. I’m not seeing the point of this series. Tomoya has no talent for writing or art, and yet he wants to create this game? Is he the coder then? This is too much of a head scratcher for me to get behind.

another ep sAlong with My Youth Romantic Comedy, Yen Press licensed two more light novels. Another: Episode S is a spin-off of the horror novel Another, of which both the manga and novel was released by Yen. Episode S features the story of Mei and her cousin Fujioka Misaki before the start of the novel. It will be a hardcover like the first novel and will be bundled with manga Another 0, which is a prequel that tell the story of Kouichi’s mother’s time in Class 3. I loved Another and am totally looking forward to this, especially with the manga bundle. No release date was announced unfortunately.

BaccanoThe final OMG of the con was Yen Press’ license of Baccano!, a light novel series by Narita, the creator of Durarara!! The story takes place in America, 1930. Each story in the series involves unrelated plots that intersect, causing events to spiral further out of control. Rooted in a desire for immortality by some alchemists 300 years about, they have scattered around the world, and the incident on the soon-to-be-retired train Pussyfoot starts the chain reaction of atrocities. This series had an anime back in 2007 which propelled it to the top of many fan’s wish lists. The series is currently at 21 volume and is still ongoing. No release date was announced.

Yen Press then announced eight digital only titles. Aphorism is a school survival story where the students of Nara Shika High School must fight to survive everyday. There are currently 13 volumes. It’s first volume will be out in November. Pass. I am so done with all the high school survivor titles. Sekirei is a male-gaze battle series that follows Minato Sahashi, a total loser until he discovers he is an Ashikabi, one who can master the 108 human-like creatures, who all turn out to be girls. It is 18 volumes and will also be out in November. Another pass, not doing a title where the girls are constantly getting their clothes ripped off.

sakiSaki is a game manga about Saki Miyanaga, a high school student who hates mahjong, but due to circumstances has learned to play a zero sum game. She gets dragged to her school’s mahjong club by an old friend. There are currently 14 volumes and the first volume will be out in November. I love gaming manga, and this is a series I’ve been interested in for a while. I will definitely be checking the first volume at least. Corpse Princess is about Makina Hoshimura an undead girl who must hunt down 108 corpses in order to go to heaven. It is complete at 23 volumes, and the first will be out in November. It’s about zombie killing, so I’ll give this a pass.

kurotanteiCrimson Prince is a romantic comedy about Kojiro Sakura, a demon prince who has come to Earth to start taking souls. Due to circumstances, he ends up meeting Hana Koumeda, starts living with her, and maybe having a change of heart. There are 16 volumes, but it has gone on hiatus indefinitely due to the artists’ health. The first volume is slated for November. This series looks sweet so I would give it a shot. I love detective stories, so Black Detective is another title that needs to go on my must have list. It is about naive Arata Toiro who is tricked into become the assistant to Yu Kuroba, aka The Black Detective, who likes to use his deductive powers to destroy his targets physically and mentally. There are six volumes so far, and the first volume will be available in December.

reneveAoharu x Machine Gun follows high school student Hotaru Tachibana, a girl disguised as a boy who gets drawn into the world of survival games by host Matsuoka and his childhood friend ero-manga artist Tohru Yukimura. There are seven volumes available, and the first will be released in December. Again, survival games, not interested. Renaissance Eve is a supernatural title about people who have strange blood that bestows special abilities. The story follows Chiaki Kaminaga who has blood type “C” for clairvoyance, and his friend Kaguya Daidoji who has blood type “D” for death. This is a short 4 volume series and the first volume will be out in December. This series looks interesting so it’s another I’d be willing to check out.

The final announcements from Yen Press was several titles would be starting simultaneous release with Japan starting in October. The titles include Black Butler, Today’s Kerberos, The Royal Tutor, and three new titles: Kake Gurui, a psychological drama that is currently at 3 volumes. My Monster Girl’s Too Cool for You is a comedy about a boy attending a human-yokai co-ed school who gets dumped by a Yuki Ono. There is only one volume out so far. Demon King Ena-sama Goes to Manga School is another comedy with two volumes out so far. I can’t find anything else about it.

None of these simultaneous releases really stand out which really makes me wonder why Yen Press is doing it, especially for the titles that are 2-3 volumes in and haven’t been released yet. And how are the releases going to work? I hope they aren’t going to continue their $2.99 a chapter like Secret was. It not worth it to buy chapters at $3 when the collected volume will be $10 in print or less in digital. But Yen Press has said so little about their digital initiative other than pile on the titles, it’s really hard to say where it will all go.



This Week’s Manga: 2×4

This Week's Manga

PandoraHeartsCauscusRaceIt’s like Noah’s Ark this week, as publishers march out their new releases 2×2 just before Anime Expo. Kodansha Comics releases the final volume of Maria The Virgin Witch. I’ve seen mixed reviews on this series, so it’s hard to tell whether this is good or bad. Fans will know either way this week. Also out from Kodansha is their Science of Attack On Titan reference book. This one might be interesting for new information about the world of Attack on Titan. Seven Seas debuts a new series, Non Non Biyori, a slice of life comedy about city girl Hotaru Ichijo and her having to readjust to a slower, rural life style. This series looks like it would fit in with the likes of Yotsuba& and Barakamon.

Just in time for Anime Expo, Veritcal Comics releases the art book of creator Makoto Shinkai, Sky Longing For Memories. He is both a film director and manga artist. Vertical released his manga 5 CM Per Second, which also has an anime adaptation. The series has done extraordinarily well for Vertical. Other anime of his include Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, and Garden of Words, which Vertical also released the manga adaptation of last year. Yen Press has another highly anticipated life novel out this week. Pandora Heart Caucus Race is a short story collection that delves deeper into the four great houses, and features not only new facts about the world, but also manga shorts by Jun Mochizuki, the title’s creator. I liked Pandora Hearts well enough that I’m looking forward to this novel.

Full List per Diamond Distributors:

Maria The Virgin Witch Volume 3 GN, $10.99
Science Of Attack On Titan MMPB, $10.99

Centaur’s Life Volume 6 GN, $12.99
Non Non Biyori Volume 1 GN, $12.99

Sky Longing For Memories The Art Of Makoto Shinkai SC, $34.95
Witchcraft Works Volume 5 GN, $12.95

Pandora Hearts Caucus Race Novel Volume 1 SC, $14.00
Sword Art Online Novel Progressive Volume 2 SC, $14.00

Demon From Afar Volume 1

An imperial capital in an era of splendor and romanticism… Orphaned in an earthquake, Sorath is taken in by Baron Kamichika, the lord of “Blood Blossom Manor.” There, he pledges eternal friendship with Garan, the Baron’s heir, and Kiyora, Garan’s fiancée. But their friendship turns grisly by events none of them could foresee. The tender feelings each secretly harbors, the machinations of Baron Kamichika and his strange and seductive female companion, and a fateful encounter with a young girl with bizarre powers…all draw them to the Walpurgis Night and the nightmare’s climax!

Demon From Afar Volume 1
Demon From Afar 1By Kaori Yuki
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Supernatural/Horror
Price: $18.00
Rating: ★★★½☆

In general, I’ve enjoyed more of Kaori Yuki’s works than not. Her blend of bishonen characters with elements of horror and a touch of humor usually appeal to me. In Demon From Afar, all of the elements are there, they’re just not striking the right chord for me.

Sorath, the protagonist, is a boy with no memory of his past and is saved by Garan, the heir to Baron Kamichika, after a terrible earthquake strikes the capital. There really isn’t anything remarkable about Sorath. He is devoted to Garan, taking responsibility for anything Garan might get punished for, and always holding himself back to make Garan look good. He acts as a bodyguard to Garan and his fiancée Kiyora. But beyond that, nothing seems to motivate him. He is content in his role, not interested in finding the meaning behind the symbol on his hand or learning about his past. He’s the character we are supposed to be most invested in, but there’s nothing interesting about him.

Garan and Kiyora aren’t much better. Kiyora seems more like comedy relief with her inept social skills and love of eating. Of course, she is more interested in Sorath than her fiancée, and Garan is oblivious to the differing feelings. Baron Kamichika is about as one-dimensional as the paper he’s printed on. The evil villain who care about no one but his own ambitions, not even his own heir. Everything and everyone is a tool for him to use to reach his goal; immortality. I didn’t really hate him as much as I hated his shallow motives. His demon servant Liece/Mephistopheles wasn’t much better, playing along, but helping to betray the Baron at the end.

What I did like was some of the horror elements. The belief by locals that the spider lilies that surround the Baron’s manor are red from soaking up human blood was made all the more creepy by the discovery that Sorath makes when he finally starts investigating what the Baron is up to. I also like the idea of the yin/yang miko, with the darker one becomes, the more pure the other. The way Noella was restored wasn’t what I was expecting and definitely one the disturbing side.

I didn’t dislike Demon From Afar, but it didn’t hook me either. This first volume feels like a prologue. It’s setting up the background and characters before getting to the real story. It feels more like it’s just spinning its wheels as it doesn’t set Sorath up with any kind of goal or motivation. The higher price for this volume is because it is printed in hardcover with a dust jacket. There is one color plate. More would have been better. Overall, it is a nice presentation and worth the extra dollars. I’ll give this series another chance and check out the next volume, but something had better happen soon.

This Week’s Manga: Impossible to Choose

This Week's Manga Let's Dance A Waltz 2For the last week of the month, this is quite a haul from manga publishers! Fans of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service can rejoice as they get their yearly volume with Vol 14 out from Dark Horse. Seven Seas Entertainment has a new volume for Toradora fans who have been waiting quite a while, though not as long as KCDS fans. Vertical Comics is one more step closer to the end of their surprisingly successful (to just about everyone) edition of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, with Vol 10 out this week. Only two more volumes after this.

If I had to choose just one of Kodansha’s releases this week it would be really hard. I really enjoyed Let’s Dance a Waltz and can’t wait to find out what happens in volume 2. The same with Your Lie In April. The characters were so fun and refreshing in that one, I can’t wait to see how the recital goes. I binge read vols 2-4 of Noragami Stray God and am now hooked on the title. I really want to see Yato start to get somewhere. I really just have to have all of them.

Alice in Murder Land 1This week is Yen Press’ big week, and they’ve got a couple of debut titles. Alice in Murderland is Kaori Yuki jumping on the “Alice in Wonderland” bandwagon with her own peculiar take on the story. Chaika The Coffin Princess is the adaptation of the action, fantasy light novel series of the same name, and looks interesting. Isolator is a new light novel series by the writer of Sword Art Online and Accel World. It has a sci-fi premise that also seems to have potential. Other regular titles I want to check out include Love at Fourteen vol 3, Demon From Afar vol 3, Barakamon vol 5, Secret vol 2, and Void’s Enigmatic Mansion vol 2.

Full List per Diamond Distributors:

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Volume 14 TP, $12.99

Let’s Dance A Waltz Volume 2 GN, $10.99
Noragami Stray God Volume 5 GN, $10.99
Your Lie In April Volume 2 GN, $10.99

Alice In The Country Of Hearts Junk Box GN, $13.99
Toradora Volume 7 GN, $12.99

Mobile Suit Gundam The Origin Volume 10 HC, $29.95

Alice In Murderland Volume 1 GN, $17.00
Are You Alice Volume 9 GN, $13.00
Barakamon Volume 5 GN, $15.00
Bloody Cross Volume 7 GN, $11.99
Chaika The Coffin Princess Volume 1 GN, $13.00
Demon From Afar Volume 3 GN, $18.00
He’s My Only Vampire Volume 3 GN, $13.00
Isolator Volume 1 HC, $20.00
Love At Fourteen Volume 3 GN, $15.00
Secret Volume 2 GN, $13.00
Void’s Enigmatic Mansion Volume 2 GN, $18.00

Goong: The Royal Palace Volume 9-10

Yul continues his machinations against Shin, determined to get both Chae-Kyung and the title Crown Prince. His mother only cares about him becoming prince, and even sets him up in an engagement with the daughter of a powerful business man who is possibly more horrible that her. Shin and Chae-Kyung’s relationship continues down a rocky road as they alternate between loving and alienating each other, and causing the royal family public humiliation. Add to that the King who won’t show his feeling for his own son and royal baby on the way that could just complicate things further, and  you have just another day at the Royal Palace.

Goong: The Royal Palace Volume 9-10
Goong 9By SoHee Park
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romance
Price: $18.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

The drama continues to crank up, as if that’s possible, in these two volumes. The soapiness just froths over like a wrongly loaded washing machine from a sitcom. The power plays and political intrigues start coming to the forefront, while Shin and Chae-Kyung’s relationship hit more bumps than smooth patches. While I still find Goong a compelling read, it isn’t as satisfying as it once was.

The main problem I have had with these two volumes is that everyone has become unlikable. Chae-Kyung spends all of her time whining about not wanting to be in the Palace while still pining for Shin. She is so completely selfish that she falls for Yul’s manipulations and betrays Shin even after he tells her it’s what he fears most. This isn’t how you’re suppose to treat someone you claim to like. Shin isn’t blameless in any of this though. His big mouth and bigger pride keeps him from actually showing Chae-Kyung his true feelings, which leads in part to her betrayal. So much of their problems come from their inability and/or unwillingness to talk to each other. It’s become more frustrating than entertaining at this point.

I really disliked Yul for using Chae-Kyung against Shin, despite his claims to love her. You don’t win someone’s love by hurting the person they love, even if it the hot-and-cold relationship Shin and Chae-Kyung have. And then he has the gal to think Shin manipulated Chae-Kyung for not telling her about her grandfather, after all he’s done to try to sabotage her and Shin’s relationship? As much as I hated Mi-Roo Oh, Yul’s chosen fiance, she is exactly who Yul and the Daebi-mama deserve for their manipulations. The King isn’t much better, with the way he keeps favoring Yul over Shin for so many personal reasons and none of them good. Whether it’s because of his feeling for the Daebi-mama, the promise he made to his older brother or some of reason we haven’t heard yet, none of them are excuses for ignoring the good of the country, which putting Yul and Daebi-mama in charge may jeopardize. Hyo-Rin proves she’s on the same level as Daebi-mama, as she manipulates Shin by first exposing the truth of Shin and Chae-Kyung’s engagement, then pleading with Shin to divorce Chae-Kyung for her own good. Despite her situation, she isn’t someone I feel sympathy for.

Goong 10The only people who I still have any respect for are the Queen and the Queen-Mother. They are the only two without any secret agendas, who actually care about others and aren’t afraid to admit their feelings. The Queen has to plead with the King to allow Shin and Chae-Kyung to move to Changduck palace not as the Queen but as Shin’s mother. They are the only two who think to investigate the Daebi-mama as a possible suspect in her own arson. Honestly, I think they are the two smartest in the series and the Queen should be leading instead. She dealing with a difficult pregnancy and is still the most rational person in court at the moment.

I’d really like to see more political intrigue than relationship drama. Shin’s position as Crown Prince has been iffy at best for most of the series, but as soon as decides to take his duties seriously, is when the King seems to really turn against him. Most of the time the problems come from Chae-Kyung. The mention of divorce on National TV and the revelation of their engagement pushes the King to seriously consider demoting Shin. Yul and his mother want to push for a stronger monarchy which doesn’t make them very popular with many in the National Assembly, giving Shin more support. It is going to be tough to get any support for Yul to become Crown Prince. I hope this will be explored more in future volumes.

While these two volumes of Goong didn’t leave a favorable impression on me over all, I did still enjoy reading them. Soaps are supposed to have characters you love to hate, but I don’t think you’re suppose to hate everyone. Hopefully future volumes will change this and give me someone to sympathize with and root for. I still love all the costumes and the detail Park puts into them. I also really like the different fashions Chae-Kyung gets when she’s in everyday clothes. Even though I’ve grown weary of the miscommunication and manipulation in the personal relationships. I will keep reading. It’s like the train wreck you can’t look away from.

Review copies provided by publisher.

This Week’s Manga: A Silent Week Before the Fall

This Week's Manga

A Silent Voice 1Last week of the month means a short list, but publishers sometimes save the best for last. Kodansha has a new series debuting this week. A Silent Voice started as a streaming title on Crunchyroll, so while readers asked, not many believed it would get a print edition from Kodansha. We were all pleasantly surprised when we got just that. The story of a deaf girl and her tormentor from elementary school that wants to reconnect has gotten a lot of praise from readers and critics as being powerful and a great read. It’s probably why it got the license. I know I want to read it too, but am hesitant after hearing other talk about how brutal the bullying seemed. But I will read it.

Kuklo UnboundVertical has the second volume of the Attack on Titan Before the Fall novel series, Kuklo Unbound. The volume is an omnibus of the two remaining volumes and is the basis for Kodansha’s manga series Attack on Titan Before the Fall. This series is also unrelated to the first Before the Fall novel. I wish the first novel had gotten a manga adaptation. I really liked it and the main character Angel. But if you’ve been enjoying the Kodansha manga, you can now read the source material. Vertical also has the next volume in their Cardfight! Vanguard series. This is a fun series with a Yu-Gi-Oh-esque feel, but really stands on its own. It’s a great all ages title.

Emma dlx 1Because it’s a slow week, I’m gonna pop in a mention of a title that I can’t believe I missed last week! Yen Press finally released their hard cover deluxe edition of Emma, the Victorian romance by Kaoru Mori. The series went out of print with CMX, but Yen Press has rescued the title and printed up beautiful hardcovers to match their other Kaoru Mori hardcover series, A Bride’s Story. I was able to pick up the first volume of the CMX series and loved it, so I’ve been waiting with bated breath for this new release. That’s why I can’t believe I missed featuring it last week! Luck was on my side that with a short week this week and I could sneak it. The presentation and story make it well worth the price. Don’t pass this one up.

Full List per Diamond Distributors

Air Gear Omnibus Volume 5 GN, $19.99
Seven Deadly Sins Volume 8 GN, $10.99
Silent Voice Volume 1 GN, $10.99

Aquarion Evol Volume 2 GN, $11.95

Attack On Titan Before The Fall Kyklo Novel SC, $14.95
Cardfight Vanguard Volume 6 GN, $10.95

Yotsuba & ! Volume 1 GN (New Printing), $13.00

This Week’s Manga: A Certain Dream Fossil

This Week's Manga

Dream FossilThere a good selection of titles from publishers this week. One publisher that sort of faded away is back; Netcomics. The manhwa heavy publisher was among the first to offer titles digitally, and rented chapters as well as selling volumes. Their first title back was Give to the Heart, which has volume 3  coming out this week. Joining it is Sweet Blood, a gender-bender/BL vampire title, and a license rescue, Chiro Volume 1 Star Project. This title was originally published by Udon Entertainment under their short-lived manga line. Hopefully it will do better this second time around. Vertical Comics has a hefty title this week with Dream Fossil The Complete Stories of Satoshi Kon. The collection of short stories by the manga creator and anime director has been highly anticipated by fans. Vertical has proven time and again they know how to not only pick great content but present it in a way that makes it worth the price.

Goong 18It’s a Yen Press heavy week, with the publisher releasing the majority of its titles. This week debuts the manga versions of two popular light novels, A Certain Magical Index and Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon. If you’ve been wondering about the titles, but not willing to commit to prose, now’s your chance. I will admit some curiosity over A Certain Magical Index so I’ll probably check it out. Also out this week from Yen is the final volume of Goong The Royal Palace. This complicated, and quite frankly soapy tale of a regular girl marrying into the Korean Royal Family can be frustratingly addicting. You want to know how things are going to turn out, but more often than not want to yell at the characters for their poor decision-making. I got sucked in, and now I have to find out how things end, so this title is a must.

Full List per Diamond Distributors

Chiro Volume 1 Star Project GN, $11.99
Give To The Heart Volume 3 GN, $11.99
Sweet Blood Volume 1 GN, $11.99

Alice In The Country Of Clover Twin Lovers GN, $13.99
World War Blue Volume 8 GN, $12.99

Dream Fossil The Complete Stories Of Satoshi Kon GN, $24.95

Gangsta Volume 6 GN, $12.99
Resident Evil The Marhawa Desire Volume 4 GN, $12.99
Terra Formars Volume 6 GN, $12.99

Ani-Imo Volume 3 GN, $13.00
Blood Lad Omnibus Volume 6 GN, $20.00
BTOOOM Volume 10 GN, $14.00
Certain Magical Index Volume 1 GN, $13.00
Certain Magical Index Volume 3 Light Novel SC, $14.00
Emma Volume 1 HC, $35.00
Goong Volume 18 GN, $25.00
Gou-Dere Sora Nagihara Volume 3 GN, $15.00
High School DxD Volume 5 GN, $13.00
Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon Volume 1 GN, $13.00
No Matter How I Look At It It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular Volume 7 GN, $13.00
Sword Art Online Girls’ Ops Volume 1 GN, $13.00
Trinity Seven Volume 1 GN, $13.00
Ubel Blatt Volume 2 GN, $20.00
Umineko When They Cry Episode 5 End Of The Golden Witch Volume 1 GN, $20.00
Until Death Do Us Part Volume 9 GN, $25.00

New License and Rescue Roundup

With Con Season is full swing, the license announcement are coming at a fairly steady rate. Whether in between cons, or publishers not planning on panels, the word of new licenses and rescues still make the steady rounds of news sites, and especially social media like Twitter and Tumblr.

Shield HeroOne Peace Books is a boutique publisher that has been dabbling in manga with such titles as Whispered Words, Aquarion Evol, and Crayon Shin Chan. This time, the publisher picked up a light novel series and its manga companion. The Rising of the Shield Hero is a light novel series that is currently at 10 volumes and ongoing. It is about Naofumi Iwatani, an otaku who is whisked away to a parallel dimension where he discovers is he one of four heroes equipped with a legendary weapon and tasked with saving the world from its prophesied destruction. Naofumi starts out as the Shield Hero, the weakest of the four, and soon finds himself alone, penniless and betrayed. He must now start his journey to become the legendary Shield Hero the world needs. The first volume will be out September 15 with the second being released October 20. The first volume of the manga, which is at 3 volumes and ongoing, will be out in November. This plot is very standard for fantasy novels, so unless it does something really interesting, I will probably skip it. I would be more inclined to check out the manga first, since I wouldn’t be as much as a time suck for me.

planetesDark Horse isn’t know for making license rescues, until it’s a CLAMP title. So their announcement that they picked up Planetes came as a bit of a surprise. Planetes was originally published by Tokyopop back in 2004, and even back that it was a difficult title to collect. It’s by Makoto Yukimura who is also the mangaka of Vinland Saga, which Kodansha is currently publishing in 2-in-1 deluxe hardback editions. Dark Horse will publish Planetes as 2 omnibus editions complete with bonus color pages. The story centers around Hachimaki, a member of a space-garbage crew, who collects everything from satellites to screws, anything that could damage a spacecraft when traveling at high speeds. Hachimaki dreams of owning his own spaceship, and decides there’s better money in joining the first manned mission to Jupiter. It’s been a long time since I last read Planetes, but it was a fun short series and very good sci-fi. The first omnibus will be out in December, just in time to put under the Christmas tree.

School LiveYen Press just popped up with two new licenses on their Twitter feed, both of which fit right into the publisher’s catalog. School-Live! is a horror/slice of life series. It follows four girls, Yuki Takeya, Kurumi Ebisuzawa, Yuri “Riisan” Wakasa, and Miki “Miikun” Naoki, who camp out at their school and end up the only survives of a zombie attack. They decide to stay at the school and make it their home. Yen has really embraced the zombie/school survival titles, starting back with Highschool of the Dead. This series appears to feature cute little girls, but the premise may have a darker edge to it. There are currently five volumes and the series is ongoing. It might be interesting to check out the first volume, which will be released in November.

The second series is Of the Red, the Light and the Ayakashi. It’s basedOf the Red. on a doujin game released in Japan back in 2011. The manga adaptation started in 2012. It is about Yue, a boy born and raised in a certain shrine on the outskirts of Utsuwa City. His close childhood friend, Kurogitsune takes him to the winter festival, where he experiences the outside world for the first time, and meets a mysterious boy. Seven volumes have been released so far. Yen Press also loves their visual novel stories, from Higurashi and Umineko. This series is a must read. I had it on my wish list at Baka-Updates Manga for who knows how long, but I enjoy titles with spiriting away themes and supernatural mysteries. This first volume will debut in December.



Pandora Hearts Volume 12-20

The truth behind the tragedy of Sablier, and the identities of Jack Vessalius, Glen Baskerville, Oz, and Alice are all finally revealed in these 9 volumes. But the path to these truths is filled with twists and turns, and danger hides around every corner where friends become foes, allies fall, and hope seems completely lost at times.

Pandora Hearts Volume 12-20
PandoraHeartsV12_TPBy Jun Mochizuki
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Fantasy
Price: $13.00
Rating: ★★★★☆

Reading these nine volumes of Pandora Hearts was a lot like eating potato chips; you can’t read just one. I had let this series pile up, which in retrospect was probably a good thing. I ended up binge reading these volumes. So much was revealed in each volume, that I had to keep going. Things start with the calm before the storm; a tea party for Oz and his friends, and Oz’s society debut at the mysterious Isla Yura’s residence in a neighboring state. Things pretty much go down hill from there, rolling like a snowball, growing in size and showing no sign of stopping.

Pandora13_FINAL I loved all of the revelations that were made in these volumes. The truth of so many things is finally uncovered when Oz is able to see Jack’s memories. It all starts when Jack first meets Lacie as a young homeless boy. She gives him the encouragement he needs make something of himself, but he becomes obsessed with her, and that starts Jack down the path of destruction that leads straight to the Tragedy of Sablier. The memories also show the truth about the Baskervilles and their connection to the Abyss, as well as the origins of the B-Rabbit chain, and how Alice really died. Gilbert and Alice both gets their memories back as well, filling in a few more pieces. Finally seeing the whole picture of what lead of the tragedy of Sablier was the highlight of these volumes. Having only seen fragments so far, it was fascinating to finally see everything in order, as well as the twisted logic that led to it.

Pandora14_FINAL As I read these volumes, I started wondering if Mochizuki was a fan of either Joss Whedon or George R.R. Martin, with the way characters, some I really liked, were being taken out. Yes, people die in these volumes. Some death are only of personality, others are mortally wounded. Some aren’t any real big loss, like Yura. Others fall to the mysterious head hunter. A few make you go “Noooo!!!” at their passing. The first big “no” moment is very well-built up. A second has had the previous 19 volumes that not only drives the knife in, but it twists it hard.

Pandora15_FINAL-198x300 The truth about Jack turns the world upside for a lot of people, with some who were one considered allies becoming foes, and Pandora turning on Oz/Jack. But while supposed allies turn, the true power of these volumes is in showing how important it is to connect with people. Every important choice made by many of the characters ends up being based on the importance of the others to them. Elliot is able to do what he must because of Leo. Oscar helps Oz because Oz, Gil, and Ada all saved him from his grief. Gil is able to reject his past role and embrace his new life because of Oz. Oz is able to accept who and what he is and choose to live because Elliot, Leo, Gil, Ada, Oscar and Alice all accepted him. It also give Oz the power to resist Jack, and maybe even defeat him.

These nine volumes of Pandora Hearts were a thrilling, gripping, heart wrenching ride. So many things make sense now, with most of the pieces of the puzzle put together, forming the true picture, but there is still more to learn. The Abyss and it’s center, The Intention are pieces yet to be fit in, and they are the most fascinating parts. The endgame is so close now, with only two volumes left to round things up. I will definitely be there to see the last pieces put into place.







Review copies provided by publisher.

Manga at the Eisners: Nominees

eisner_awardsThis week the Wil Eisner Comic Industry Awards panel of judges announced their nominees this week. Manga essentially gets its own category in the US Edition of International Material – Asia. The category was created to keep manga from dominating the US Edition of International Material category. Five titles and six volumes received nods.

AllYouNeedIsKill_Omni01_CatalogAll You Need Is Kill has been getting a lot of attention this year. It is from Viz Media and was one of the 8 manga titles to make the YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens list this year. It is an adaptation of the Japanese sci-fi novel what was also the basis of the Hollywood film Edge of Tomorrow. Keiji Kiriya is a new recruit thrown into a suit of battle armor called a jacket and sent to fight the invading alien race, the Mimics. He dies on the battle field only to be revived every day to relieve the day and die again. On his 158th return, he is contacted by another soldier, known as the Full Metal Bitch. Is she his friend or foe. The art is by Takeshi Obata, a popular artist here in the US. With the art and story being so well-known, it probably has a good chance of winning.

In Clothes Called FatIn Clothes Called Fat from Vertical Comics. It is about Noko, a young woman with a good job and loving boyfriend. Beneath this seemingly happy veneer, Noko is struggling with issues of self-image and self-confidence as she fights to keep her weight down. A gain of a mere 5 pounds can send Noko miles away from happiness in her love life and work place. This single volume story was created by Moyoco Anno, who is well-known name in Japanese women comics. This title is closer in spirit to many US indie comics with its searing look at women with self-image problems. It also has a good chance of with Eisner voters.

MasterKeaton-GN01-3DMaster Keaton Vol 1 is another title from Viz Media. It follows the adventures of half-Japanese, half-English insurance investigator Taichi Hiraga-Keaton. Keaton is a man of many talents. He graduated from Cambridge with a degree in archaeology, joined the British SAS for several years, and now teaches at a Japanese college. He uses his many talents and experience to investigate insurance claims and help people along the way. I loved this volume of Master Keaton, both for the problems Keaton takes on and for the Cold War era feel of the manga. I don’t know how well this title will go over with voters. It’s by Naoki Urasawa, who has been nominated several times and even one once. Either way, it’s got my vote!

One Punch Man 01One Punch Man is the third Viz Media title to be nominated. It is about Saitama, a superhero who is so strong, he can knock out most villains with just a single punch. He trained so hard to hone his skills that he lost all his hair, but now, he is so strong, he can’t find a worthy opponent, and fears he will be doomed to superhero boredom.  This is a digital only title and has a lot of human. It was the start of the superhero boom that Viz seems to have going on right now. This title is rather light and filled with plenty of human, at least at the beginning. Being a more tradition superhero comic Eisner voters may favor it.

Showa 1939-44Showa 1939-1944 A History of Japan and Showa 1944-1953: A History of Japan are two  separate titles in the same series from Drawn and Quarterly. They are an auto biographical and historical account of Japan by creator Shigeru Mizuki. These two volumes cover the Japan of World War II and the subsequent occupation afterward. On a personal level, it shows Mizuki’s struggles with the strict disciple of the Japanese officers on the island of Rabaul in Papua New Guinea and whether or not to return to Japan after the war to follow his dream of becoming a cartoonist despite losing an arm. The first volume in this series was nominated last year, but didn’t win. The story in these two volumes are no doubt more compelling as it deals with the devastation of war and its aftermath. Maybe this year will be its lucky year.

Hosoda_WolfChildren_HC_V1Wolf Children: Ame and Yuki is published by Yen Press and was also on the YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens list. It is based on the animated movie of the same name. Hana is a young woman who falls in love with a man who is part wolf. They start a family with two children, but Hana’s husband is tragically killed, leaving Hana as a single mother to raise her two children who stand on the fine line between man and beast. This is a story that is both heartwarming and melancholy as it shows the exploration of identity and balancing being from multiple cultures. Eisner voters will find a lot to love here.

The winners will be announced Friday, July 10 during the San Diego Comic-Con at a gala ceremony.

This Week’s Manga: April Showers

This Week's Manga

Clay Lord 1 Lots of titles debuting this week. Kodansha starts out with two new titles. Let’s Dance A Waltz is by Natsumi Ando, the mangaka of Kitchen Princess, and the recently ended Arisa. I have yet to read an Ando title, though Kitchen Princess is on my “someday” list, but I’ll definitely give the first volume of this series a try. Your Lie In April was Kodansha’s last announced license of 2014. It’s a music title that has been compared to Nodame Cantabile, which was only partially published by Del Rey back in the day. I’m looking forward to giving this volume a try as well. Seven Seas has two debuts as well. 12 Beast is another monster girl title, and is by the same mangaka as their runaway hit Monster Musume.  I expect this title to do just as well, I just won’t be experiencing it first hand. Clay Lord: Masters of Golems is much more my type. It’s a fantasy with plenty of adventure and competition.

DevilIsAPartTimerV1_Prose_TPYen Press is the serious player this week with four new light novels and 2 new manga debuting. Yen On gets a big push with Devil is a Part-Timer, Kagerou Daze, No Game, No Life, and Log Horizon all debuting their first volumes this week. No Game No Life and Log Horizon has seem a bit of hype from fans, but Devil is a Part-Timer is the one I’m most interested in. I don’t know why but the thought of a demon lord working in fast food just sounds really funny to me. Of the new manga, the title I’m looking forward to the most is of course Puella Magi Tart Magica. This time it’s a magical girl from the past, so I’m looking forward to how the historical setting works. Also out this week is the final volume of Tena on S-String. I never thought this title would ever be finished. Before its return in December, the last volume was released in 2010. That volume finished well enough that it could have been the end, but there is a proper ending now, which I’m looking forward to reading.

Full List per Diamond Distributors

Let’s Dance A Waltz Volume 1 GN, $10.99
Your Lie In April Volume 1 GN, $10.99

12 Beast Volume 1 GN, $12.99
Clay Lord Masters Of Golems Volume 1 GN, $12.99

Witchcraft Works Volume 4 GN, $12.95

Vagabond Volume 37 GN, $9.95

Akame Ga Kill Volume 2 GN, $13.00
Barakamon Volume 4 GN, $15.00
Devil Is Part-Timer Light Novel Volume 1 SC, $14.00
Inu X Boku SS Volume 7 TP, $11.99
Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon Novel Volume 2 SC, $14.00
Kagerou Daze Volume 1 GN, $13.00
Log Horizon The Beginning Of Another World Light Novel Volume 1 SC, $14.00
No Game No Life Light Novel Volume 1 SC, $14.00
Puella Magi Tart Magica The Legend Of Jeanne D’Arc Volume 1 GN, $13.00
So I Can’t Play H Volume 1 GN, $13.00
Spice And Wolf Novel Volume 14 SC, $13.00
Sword Art Online Progressive Volume 2 GN, $13.00
Tena On S-String Volume 7 GN, $30.00

Yen Press at Sakura-Con

YenPress_logoEaster weekend was a busy one for conventions. On the east coast was Anime Boston, and on the west coast, Wondercon was held in Southern California and Sakura-Con up north in Washington State. Manga publishers split up to cover the anime cons, with Yen Press taking Sakura-Con.

Yen Press has already been busy this year with the manga and light novel announcements, and their appearance at Sakura-Con was no different. They stuck with just manga licenses this time, announcing a whopping 13 titles to be released in either print of digital.

YowamushiPedalStarting with print manga, one of the biggest announcements and surprise was Yowamushi Pedal. This is not only a sports manga, but also a long running series, currently at 39 volumes, features that tend to make publishers shy away from a title. Yowamushi Pedal though is already fairly well-known among Western readers. The anime was streamed by Crunchyroll, and fujoshi have been obsessing over the manga for a while. The story is about Sakamichi Onoda, an otaku whose passion for figures and anime was so great that he would ride his bicycle 60-miles round trip to Akihabara to shop there. His bicycling skills get him into competitive bike racing. I’ve seen plenty of references to Yowamushi Pedal on my Twitter feed, but I never knew what it was about, nor had much interest in finding out. Now, I think I’d like to check it out. It will be published in 2-in-1 omnibuses.

MonthlyGirlsMonthly Girl’s Nozaki-kun is another manga that fans have been clamoring for. The anime was also streamed by Crunchyroll, and quickly became popular with viewers. It is about high school girl Sakura Chiyo, who confesses her feeling to classmate Nozaki. Nozaki mistakes her as a fan of his shojo manga, and ends up recruiting her to help him with it. The series is at 6 volumes and is just as much about creating manga as it is a rom-com, so there’s little wonder it was popular. This is a title I’ve been waiting and hoping would be licensed, and figured it was just a matter of time.

SakuraNoHimegoto Sakura no Himegoto is a short two-volume shojo. It is about a girl, Aoi, who comes from a prestigious family, and Kei, a boy with a mysterious background. Thanks to a debt Aoi’s grandfather owes to Kei, Aoi is stuck repaying it as she gets pulled into a master-pet relationship with him. While this is a short story, it doesn’t hold a lot of interest for me. I don’t care for the master-pet/rich girl under poor boy’s power plots that seem to pop up in shojo manga lately. I will probably give this one a pass unless some of my fellow bloggers rave about its virtues.

DragonsRiotingDragon Rioting is another titles I think I can do without. It centers around Rintaro, a boy who has been diagnosed with a disease that could kill him if the gets too sexually aroused. So, what happens to him? He gets accidentally enrolled in an all girls school and has to deal with the three “Dragons”, the three girls who control the school. If the cover wasn’t enough to make me back away, the “getting sexually aroused could kill disease” certainly did. There are five volumes out that will be passing up.

AldnoahZeroAldnoah.Zero Season One has a lot more potential. It also has an anime. It is a sci-fi mecha series about a hypergate to Mars being found on the moon. Colonists to Mars discover advanced tech on Mars and form an Empire that declares war on Earth. The Moon is destroyed in the war, creating a debris field around the Earth. Martian fighters set up bases in the debris field and a truce is called, until 15 years later the life of Vers Empire Princess is threatened and the Empire declares war again, intent on taking Earth this time. This title sounds really interesting, and fits historical context really well. It has three volumes out so far that I’m looking forward to reading.

HanadaKunOn the digital side, 8 Square-Enix titles that have not appeared in English previously were announced. Handa-kun is a spin-off of Barakamon, another Yen Press title. It is about Sei Hanada, a second year high school student and calligrapher. His is admired around his school for his cool charisma, but he thinks everyone at school hates him. It is three volumes so far. I want to check out Barakamon before I pass any judgement on this title, but so far it sounds like it has potential.

Today’s Kerberos is a title I’ll give wide berth. It a harem comedy, a genre I rarely find funny. Chiaki is a boy who no longer feels joy or fun after a childhood incident. His traveling father sends him a gift. Inside is a girl who calls herself Cerberus, and has three personalities. She vows to protect Chiaki from all harm. It’s currently three volumes and is ongoing. This will be an easy title to pass up.

Shut-In Shoutarou Kominami Takes on the World is a senien series about shut-in Shoutarou Kominami who, instead of getting the allowance he was expecting from his mother, gets a note telling him he’s been cut off. Shoutarou hasn’t left his place in months, but must now go out into the world and get a job. The series is complete in three volumes and sounds interesting. I’d be willing to read the first volume.

Servant X Service is a 4koma as well as being another senien. This slice of life comedy follows the staff of the Health and Welfare section of a ward in the fictional city of Mitsuba, Hokkaido, and their everyday hijinks in the office. It is complete in 4 volumes. I’m really intrigued by this series. It seems to be aimed at an older working person like me.

UnknownUnknown is a supernatural shonen action series. It follows Ox and Ivan, a pair of “wisemen”, who collect “wisdoms” that are too powerful and too dangerous in the wrong hands. The series is complete in 4 volumes, and is a title that would like to check out.

When a Magician’s Pupil Smiles is about Ouka Namae, a boy devoid of emotions. He must learn what it means to be alive, and to feel. The cover art work and hint of a mystery makes this a title I’d be willing to check out. It is complete in 3 volumes.

The Royal Tutor is about Haine, a newly minted Royal Tutor ready to get to work. But he’s in for more than he expected when his new charges, four princelings are more interested in testing his patience than their knowledge. This series could be interesting, but I don’t know. I’ll have to read the first volume to see. It is ongoing and there are 3 volumes out so far.

ScarletEmpireScarlet Empire is a time-bending historical, martial arts shonen. Souzou Sagara is the leader of the Sekihoutai in the Bakumatsu era. Kotetsu Miyasaka is a kendo student in the modern era aiming to be at the top with his younger brother. These two men are connected by the red string of fate as their struggle to protect and change their prospective worlds transcends time. Key words historical and martial arts are enough to pull me into this series enough to check out the first volume. It is at 3 volumes and going.

While no release dates were given with these announcements, I think we can expect titles to begin coming out in late 4th quarter or early next year. The digital titles could come out even sooner. Hopefully Yen Press will update their site with direct links to the digital titles. The easier they make it for reader to find, the quicker they’ll make the sale.