This Week in Manga: 8/28-9/3/10

Manga Movable Feast: Kid’s Table

This month’s Manga Movable Feast started this week and doesn’t feature just one title. It’s actually about all all ages titles, with Yotsuba&! as the focus, as well as another all ages title mainly just so the pun “Yotsuba & …” could be used. Thank Ed Sizemore of the Manga Worth Reading blog for that. It’s being hosted this time at the Good Comics For Kids blog, which specializes in news, reviews, articles and interviews about and with the people who make manga and comics for kids 16 and under. The introduction article is here, and the archive is here. Interestingly, a lot of the reviews and articles are about how Yotsuba&! isn’t really a kid’s title. I myself didn’t see it appealing much to a kid, but I think that’s because the appeal I found in it was the way it reminded me of my kids at that age. But if kids are anything, they are surprising. Check out the links for reviews of Yotsuba&! and other all ages manga.

Rolling Out Online Manga

Deb Aoki of spoke with Crunchyroll CEO Kun Gao to get the low down on Cruchyroll’s announcement of capital from Japanese cell phone publisher Bitway. What he had to say won’t get fans hopes up too high for a “Crunchyroll for manga”.  Cruchyroll is working with Bitway in a technology role, not publisher, so don’t expect to see Bleach or Naruto manga on the anime streaming site. One thing that would be nice to come out of this move though would be uniform platform for reading manga. Right now, everyone who is hosting manga legitimately is using different systems and different readers that can be platform specific. And in this world where the web is the platform, being told your Mac or Windows Mobile phone won’t work will make a lot of manga readers unhappy.  Theses different platforms can also make reading online frustrating. After weeks of seemless reading on eManga, the load times on Viz’s SigIkki were downright agonizing. I could only read three chapters where I can usually read twice that on eManga. It made reading a title I enjoy downright painful, and that’s not what digital manga should be about.

One Piece takes 4 week break; Oda takes 1

It was recently announced that One Piece will be taking a 4 week hiatus from Weekly Shonen Jump magazine.  There’s no reason given, but considering Oda has only taken occassional 1 week breaks over the life of the title, which started in the same year my 13-year-old daughter was born, I think he’s entitled to a month off. He’s certainly not like mangaka Yoshihiro Togashi who works for maybe 4 weeks and then takes years off.  But, apparently, Oda is a workaholic. After only one week, he’s back to work according to this tweet. If anyone has a link or can do a direct translation, it would be greatly appreciated. I’ve just started working on colors in Japanese. Maybe he’s just really excited to get some great stuff to us readers.

Is It A Curse?

The Harveys, the comic world version of the Academy Awards were announced at the Baltimore Comic Con. The category of Best American of Foreign Material was heavy once again with Naoki Urasawa manga, but was denied again as the award went to The Art of Osamu Tezuka by Helen McCarthy. The book, an overview of the life and work of Osamu Tezuka, is the most complete available in english. It’s a must have for any fan of Tezuka, or anyone interested in the history of manga. But Urawasa, who had two titles nominated this year, one co-incidentally based on an Osaum Tezuka story, was just shut out. This seems to be a disturbing pattern with Urasawa and American awards. By the rules of chance, he’s got to win eventually?  Right?

NYT Best Seller List

It’s a twister Auntie Em!  The best seller list for manga gets mixed up but not a lot of change. Starting on the hardback list, Twilight has dug into #6 and seems determined to stay there. Over on the manga list, Maximum Ride vol 3 holds on to the #1 spot. Naruto vol 48 makes it’s move back up to #2 and Rosario + Vampire: Season II vol 2 and Black Bird vol 5 keep up their buddy system by taking #3 and #4. Bakuman vol 1 moves up to take over #5 while the only new comer to the list, Chi’s Sweet Home vol 2 debuts at #6. Yeah for kitties! Negima! Magister Negi Magi vol 27 falls back two to #7 while D.Gray-man vol 18 holds on to #8. Spots #9 and #10 remain the same as well with Vampire Knight vol 10 and Black Butler vol 2 holding on.

NYT: Second Opinion

We’ve got two second opinions now! First if from Matt Blind at Rocketbomber:

1. Maximum Ride 3
Naruto 48
Rosario+Vampire Season II 2
Black Bird 5
5. Bleach Color Bleach+: The Official Bootleg
6. Negima! 27
7. Fullmetal Alchemist 23
8. Vampire Knight 10
9. Ouran High School Host Club 14
10. Maximum Ride 1

The top four still hold true between Matt’s and the NYT’s. Matt keeps Fullmetal Alchemist around and adds Ouran High School Host Club. Now Mangacast has posted the Book Scan numbers for this same week, and that give us:

  1. Maximum Ride vol 3
  2. Naruto vol 48
  3. Pokemon: Diamond & Pearl vol  7
  4. Rosario+Vampire II vol 3
  5. Black Bird vol 5
  6. BakuMan. vol 1
  7. Negima! vol 27
  8. Fullmetal Alchemist vol 23
  9. Black Butler vol 1
  10. Black Butler vol 2

The Book Scan list has more in common with the NYT list than the Amazon/B&N numbers, it only agrees with the top two spots, and it adds Pokemon: Diamond and Pearl to the mix. The interesting thing about seeing all three of these lists now is that you can be pretty sure about the top two titles, as well as the top five titles if not order. The differences are small, usually only by a title or two. I think that’s fairly significant.

Manga For Your Ears

Sesho’s Anime and Manga Reviews

This Week At Manga Village

What I’m Reading

  • I Am A Turtle ch 2-3
  • Children of the Sea ch 26-30
  • House of Five Leaves ch 5-7

Chi’s Sweet Home Volumes 1-2

Chi’s Sweet Home is the tale of a lost kitten finding a home with a young family. Despite not being able to keep pets in their apartment, they take the lost kitten in and try to find a home for her. Like most people who take in cats “temporarily” the kitten, who names herself Chi, wiggles her way into the house and hearts of the Yamada family.

by Konami Kanata
Publisher: Veritcal, Inc.
Age Rating: All Ages
Genre: Pet
Price: $13.99
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy These Books

I’ll say this upfront; I love cats. So this title already had a head start before I even cracked it open. Fortunately, I was not disappointed once I did started reading it. Chi, the main character, draws you in immediately. She is cute, but not the sugary-sweet, Hello Kitty kind of cute. She is cute the same way that a baby is. She is a baby cat after all, and acts like one. She is easily distracted (which is what gets her separated from her mother and siblings in the first place), trying new things, making mistakes, and learning from them. She and Yohei, the little boy who finds Chi, are very much a like in that way. Both being young children, they end up learning things together. Both Chi and Yohei learn to use the potty correctly.

Over the two volumes, Chi and the Yamadas learn to get along and live with each other. Chi slowly accepts the Yamadas as his new family, and she and Yohei get along very much like siblings. They play together and even compete for toys and food. It’s not all fun and games though, especially with Mom and Dad. Mom tortures Chi with a bath, and scolds her when Chi tries out her claws on the couch. Dad is worse, taking Chi to the vet, which earns him her scorn for several days after. It is sweet to see how the parents come to accept Chi as well. Dad is saddened by Chi avoiding him after the vet visit, and Mom takes Yohei to search for Chi when she gets out and can’t find her way home.

There is a lot of humor in this title, and much of it comes from Chi being a kitten and doing kitten-y things. From her liking the plastic bag more than the toys that came in it to chasing super bouncy balls, to playing with crumbled paper, Chi’s sheer joy is infectious and hard not to smile at. Of course, the not so nice things that happen to her can be funny as well. Her reaction to her introduction to dogs, cars and the hair dryer made me laugh out loud. A lot of this has to do with Kanata-sensei’s art. She puts so much expression into Chi, that even without the translation, one could figure out whether she was happy, sad, scared or angry.

I can’t speak for the accuracy of Vertical’s translations, but I think the localization is done very well. Chi’s speaking is portrayed with a little bit of baby speak, often making her sound like Tweety Bird, as she says things like “Fwuffy” and “gowing”. Fortunately, it’s used sparingly, so it doesn’t distract the reader as much as it could. I also like how Chi’s cat speech is also varied. She doesn’t just say “meow”. Her cat vocabulary also includes “miya”, “mew”, and “meowr” among others, giving the impression of different inflections, depending on her mood.

The art for this title is rather toonish, with the characters being drawn simply and without a lot of detail. Chi’s cuteness can not be denied whether it’s her usual wide-eyed expression as she goes exploring or it’s her narrowed-eyed, fluffed out fur when she’s upset. The simplicity of the art makes it easier to appeal to a non-manga audience, much like it’s subject matter should. Vertical’s editions are in color, done in a watercolor style, giving the books a gentle feel.

While Chi’s Sweet Home was originally serialized in a men’s magazine in Japan, it really feels like an all ages title. Chi is just so cute, it’s hard to imagine a child, male or female being able to resister her charms. The chapters are simple and short, but also fun and sweet. Cat lovers will melt for this title too, as Chi reminds them how much fun kittens are, even if they do eventually grow up to be cats. Even non-cat people can get something out of this series. They can see why cat lovers love their cats so much, even if they don’t get it.

Funny, and heart-warming, Chi’s Sweet Home is a title the whole family can enjoy,and is easily one of the best titles to come out this year.

Yotsuba&! The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

The Ranch wasn’t fun, hun? But maybe festivals will be less funner?! (Yotsuba’s playing opposites, ha-ha!) Yotsuba got uninvited to Fuuka’s School for a culr…a clart…a cultural festival! And she didn’t promise Yotsuba there wouldn’t be CAKE! Yotsuba doesn’t want a cake as biiiiiig as Jumbo, nope!! You won’t either, now would you?!

Yotsuba&! Volume 8
By Kiyohiko Azuma
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Ratting: All Ages
Genre: Slice of Life
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Buy This Book

Yotsuba&! is another title that gets a lot of praise from manga bloggers. It follows the everyday adventures of adopted 5-year old girl Yotsuba. In this volume we see Yotsuba go to a school cultural festive, help pull a shrine for the town’s festival, get blown away in a typhoon, see a man’s bare backside, and pick up acorns.

The appeal of Yotsuba&! is in its main character. Yotsuba is cute. She acts just like a real 5-year old. Many of the things she said and did reminded me of my youngest daughter. I could not only see a lot of her in Yotsuba, but I could see her doing the same things! This volume had some good laughs. Some of them, such as Yotsuba seeing a man’s bare backside at the festival are funny because they are so true. A kid her age would act exactly like she does. Other moments are funny because you could see them happening even if they might not be possible, such as Yotsuba being blown away as she tries to walk from the neighbor’s house back home during a typhoon. Yotsuba has a good supporting cast of friends and neighbors, whose job is to react to Yotsuba being cute, one they seem to take to heart. The chapter at the cultural festival has Fuuka spending most of it trying to meet Yotsuba’s overblown expectations of cake.

Overall, I liked Yotsuba&! but I was not blown away by it. It had its moments that made me smile, but this title feels more like a “borrow” than a “keeper” . There is nothing objectionable in its content, and kids will no doubt find Yotsuba’s antics funny and may even relate to her on some level. Adults though will probably find more to enjoy in this series. It’s slow paced, with no actual plot. It’s just moments sliced out from the life of Yotsuba and people around her, so you could pick up any number volume and still enjoy reading it. I found I liked it more for the way it reminded me of my daughter at that age than anything else. Parents can reminisce about what their kids were like while adults without kids of their own can live vicariously through Yotsuba’s adventures. Yotsuba&! was written for an older audience, and in the end I think that’s who will take more from it.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
By Akira Himekawa
Publisher: Viz Media – vizkids
Age Rating: All Ages
Genre: Video Game
Price: $7.99
Buy This Book

Link’s friend Tetra is taken prisoner by a ghost ship, and Link falls overboard when he tries to save her. When he wakes up, he finds himself embarked on another fantastic quest! The discovery of the Phantom Hourglass sets Link on a journey to rescue Tetra, find the Sand of Hours and break the curse of the Temple of the Ocean King. Come aboard with Link for an amazing adventure on the high seas!

This title, like all the titles in this series are based on the video games of the same name, and features the more cartoon-ish version of Link that had gamers in an uproar about when the designs were first released. The Legend of Zelda games are action/adventure games that first started on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The Player controls Link as he goes on quests and fights monsters in order to save the Princess Zelda. The story of the volumes adapts the plot of the game Phantom Hourglass that was releases for the Nintendo DS.

Phantom Hourglass was a lot of fun to read. Being based on a video game, it has a simple premise. Link must fight the monsters, free the Spirits trapped in them and collect the Sand of Hours. Himekawa does a good job of adapting this into a fun adventure on the high seas while actually incorporating some of the gameplay into the story, such as when Link is in the Temple of the Ocean King, and his life is being drained away. Just like the player would have to, Link figures out that he has to stay on the purple spaces on the floor to get through. I thought these elements really added to the story and paid a nice homage to the original source.

The characters really give the story life. Link is your typical hero character, charging off into danger to fight any and all who get in his way. He’s portrayed as earnest and always willing to help anyone in trouble. Tetra is the damsel in distress, who like Link, dives headlong into danger, which is what makes her need saving. Linebeck is the anti-hero who helps out Link in order to get the treasure that’s supposed to be on the Ghost Ship, but by the end is changed into a more heroic character because of Link’s influence.

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is written to appeal to kids 12 and under. The art is simplistic, but cute, giving it appeal to younger readers. Link is seen fighting monsters, which are turned into sand when defeated, and there is a scene with zombies, but there’s nothing really objectionable or scary in the volume. This is a great title for kids, and for any fan of the Legend of Zelda video games, young or old.

Rating: ★★★★½

This Week In Manga: 8/21-8/27/10

Open Mouth. Insert Foot

Get a bunch of creative people together for a gripe session, and sometimes magic happens! That’s what happened on Twitter recently as several manga creators through out their own two cents (yen) about not just illegal uploading, but the people doing it. When someone posted on twitter of having uploaded Rei Hiroe’s entire manga Black Lagoon, the mangaka, in jest, wished pancreatic cancer on the uploader. Fellow mangakas Kazuki Kotobuki and Kouta Hirano joined in, coming up with more imaginative forms of death on the uploader. Bet that guy is sorry he tweeted that. I still don’t get all this disrespect people want to show the creators of the books they claim to love. While I don’t think they need to be worshipped, how about just some common decency? Or is that to outmoded for the 21st century?

Not As Easy As It Looks

People are always complaining about the translations in manga, that it’s not literal enough, or that it’s too “Americanized”.  At SDCC, several translators in the industry got together for the panel Manga: Lost In Translation panel. It features many well known translastors and was moderated by William Flanagan, who is about as old school as manga translations can get. Deb Aoki of Manga.About.Com has a full transcription of the panel. They take on topics such as getting into the business, the above mentioned dreaded localization, and of course, piracy and scans. It’s an interesting read, especially about the advocacy many of the translators have for lesser known titles.

There Might Yet Be Hope

In a recent interview with ICv2, co-publishers Dan Dido and Jim Lee spoke about the recent changes at DC, and the subject of CMX and their licenses came up. Specifically, did either man know what was going to happen to them. Lee mentioned they’d had inquiries from “a couple of interested studios that were interested in taking over the role on a couple of books.” This then brings up the questions, “Who’s asking and for what titles?” I was little surprised that this didn’t start a discussion on twitter among manga bloggers. My top pick for doing a rescue would be Tokyopop, as we’ve seen them do it before. And some of CMX’s tween titles seem like they would be a good fit with the company’s catalog. Viz has too good of a pick of he crop to be interested in some second tier titles, and we already know Yen Press isn’t interested in rescues at all, despite already doing two. So that leaves an interesting quandary as to who else might be interested. DMP? Manga Factory? A completely new player? And what titles? CMX had several licenses that had just started to release or had planned to release such as 51 Ways to Save Her and Stolen Hearts. Are these the targets of the inquiries? Will any of the old school shojo like From Eroica, With Love or Swan get to see their ends? There is some much one can speculate from just a few sentences. The good thing about all this is that DC/Warner Bros is at least interested in getting some of their investment back, and for us fans that might be good news!

Cloud Manga

Dreams of manga on an e-reader are finally starting to come true. Comicloud is a new manga magazine with titles by Japanese artists and are available in both English and Japanese on the Kindle. It’s inaugural issue is $4.99 and is available for download now. It currently features four stories and you can download a preview before you buy. Summaries of the stories are available at the magazine’s official English website. This is an e-book to watch. If it does well, it might finally prove to publishers that not only is there a market for online manga, but that people will pay for it! And one of the best things about putting it on the Kindle, is that Amazon has enough versions of their Kindle software that just about anyone, with or without a Kindle can read it. It’s not the ideal solution, but it is the best we’ve got at the moment.

NYT Best Seller List

Another week, another best seller list. This week starts with Twilight holding on to #6 on the Hardback list. Over on the manga list, Maximum Ride returns with vol 3 debuting in the #1 spot. Rosario + Vampire Season II vol 2 moves back to #2 to accommodate.  Black Bird vol 5 moves back to #3 along with Naruto vol 48 to # 4. Negima! Magister Negi Magi vol 27 holds on to #5 for its third straight week, with Fullmetal Alchemist vol 23 also keeping its #6 spot. Bakuman vol 1 falls back 3 to #7 along with D. Gray-man vol 18 who moves back two to #8. Vampire Knight vol 10 keeps the #9 spot as does Black Butler vol 2 which keeps its #10. There not a lot of changes this week, the biggest being Skip Beat vol 21 falling off and Maximum Ride taking the top spot.

NYT List: Second Opinion

Now let’s take a look at the top ten titles according to Rocket Bomber’s Matt Blind:

1. Maximum Ride 3
2. Rosario+Vampire Season II 2
3. Black Bird 5
4. Naruto 48
5. Negima! 27
6. Bleach Color Bleach+: The Official Bootleg
7. Fullmetal Alchemist 23
8. Maximum Ride 1
9. Vampire Knight 10
10. Skip Beat! 21

The top 5 titles on both lists match spot on! I don’t know if this is a first, but it is an interesting result. Maybe the NYT list isn’t so off as a lot of people have suspected. This is by no means conclusive, but I do see it as being significant. All but three titles are the same between lists. Once again Matt’s list favors Maximum Ride over Black Butler, and the NYT tossed Skip Beat to keep Bakuman and D.Gray-man.

Manga For Your Ears

Sesho’s Anime and Manga Reviews

This Week at Manga Village

What I’m Reading

  • MachGoGoGo: Speed Racer vol 1
  • MachGoGoGo: Speed Racer vol 2
  • Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass
  • Gente vol 1

Bakuman Volume 1

Average student Moritaka Mashiro enjoys drawing for fun. When his classmate and aspiring writer Akito Takagi discovers his talent, he begs Moirtaka to team up with him as a manga-creating duo. But what exactly does it take to make it in the manga-publishing world?

Moritaka is hesitant to seriously consider Akitos proposal because he knows how difficult reaching the professional level can be. Still, encouragement from persisitent Akito and movitvation from his crush push Moritaka to test his limits!

Stoy by Tsugumi Ohba; Art by Takeshi Obata
Publisher: Viz Media – Shonen Jump
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Buy This Book

Moritaka knows it isn’t easy to become a successful manga creator. He watched his uncle try to die from overwork in the attempt. Akito, his classmate, knows next to nothing about creating manga, but thinks he’s smart enough to learn and succeed. Miho is another classmate that Moritaka has a crush on, and who wants to become a voice actor. The three of them make a pact. If Moritaka and Akito make their dream of becoming successful manga creators come true before Miho becomes a voice actor, Miho will marry Moritaka. This starts the two boys down a whirlwind journey to learn how to create a story and final draft for presentation to Weekly Shonen Jump magazine.

The concept of Bakuman, with its manga meta elements is fairy interesting. It gives a lot of details, facts and even figures about how many manga creators are really successful, what goes into creating a manga, and even the process of going from first to final draft for submission. It almost feels like the creators are giving a lecture on how to create a manga through Moritaka and Akito. These parts of the story are well done and very interesting. I really enjoyed learning about the beginning process of creating a manga. I also liked the touch of romance that was added to the story, with Moritaka and Miho’s relationship mirroring that of Moritaka’s uncle and his first love from middle school. It was a cute touch, and creates a romantic element without getting all lovey-dovey. It can draw in girls with out driving away the boys.

I only had one problem with this title, and unfortunately it’s a big one. In the second chapter, Akito, who claims to be smart, explains to Moritaka what he thinks is the difference between “smart” and “dumb” people, especially women. Miho is smart because she doesn’t act too smart with her nose in a book, and is graceful “like a woman should be.” This whole chapter really turned me off from the series. It felt like the author was espousing his views on women in a monologue rather than it be Akito talking, came really close to offending me, a difficult thing to do in general. I don’t mind if a mangaka decides to lecture his audience through his characters about somethings, but don’t try to tell me “what a woman should be like”. If the romantic elements were supposed to lure female readers in, this chapter could easily stop them from even getting to them.

Takeshi Obata’s art is spot on. I like how he gets in a lot of the tropes of shonen manga such as speed lines for emphasis without there being any real action. Another cool thing was seeing how pages went from storyboard to finished piece in between chapters. It really helped to illustrate what Moritaka was trying to explain to Akito about storyboards and drafts.

Overall, I did enjoy Bakuman. All the talk about creating a manga was interesting. I really liked the analogy of aspiring mangaka to gamblers. Working to become popular is a big gamble. There is no guarantee and a lot of luck as well as work is needed to make it. I even liked all the exposition Moritaka kept spouting off about being a mangaka and creating a manga that didn’t seem natural for a middle school boy to say. But the second chapter keeps me from recommending this title. If you can get past it, then there is a good story forming. If it could be less misogynist and little more meta, then I would like a lot more.

Wish List: Ai Yazawa’s Shared Universe + 1

Finally getting to read another Ai Yazawa series and seeing how connected her characters are in her world, really makes me crave more! There are at least 3 of her previous titles that I would love to see licensed, two in her shared universe and one with a supernatural twist.

Tenshi Nanka Ja Nai – This series was originally serialized in Ribon magazine starting in 1991 and was the beginning of the shared universe that would soon grow. It’s a high school slice of life/romance about Midori Saejima and Akira Sudo that chonicles their four years in school, both their relationship and adventures with friends. Seeing how addicting Nana is with young adults as the leads, I would love to see what she does with teens.  This title kicks off what becomes a series of connected titles through its characters without being a sequel or focusing on the characters. It’s 8 volumes and in 1994 got an anime OVA adaptation. It’s the start of Yazawa’s world, where characters get to roam and mess with each other in and out of the stories.

Gokinjo MonogatariDavid Welsh of Manga Curmudgeon has already made a plea for this series, but I’d like to do it in the context of its relationship to both Tenshi Nanka Ja Nai and Paradise Kiss. This series also ran in Ribon and went from 1995 to 1998. It ran for 7 volumes. Even though this series is about a whole new cast of characters with Mikako Koda and Tsutomu Yamaguchi as the leads, the main characters from Tenshi Nanka Ja Nai make an appearance, and the lead vocalist Tsutomu is supposed to resemble, Ken Nakagawa, was Midori’s friend. It’s another slice of life/romance which Yazawa has shown to have a such a good grasp of. It got a 50 episode anime series in 1995.

Kagen no Tsuki – This series doesn’t connect to the universe of the other two. It’s just a 3 volume series that ran in Ribon between Gokinjo Monogatari and Paradise Kiss from 1998-1999. It’s a supernatural romance that straddles the line between dream and reality. Only read the wikipedia entry if you want to be spoiled about this series, but even so it sounds to be an intriguing read even before meeting Yazawa’s characters. It got a live action movie made out of it, which was licensed here by Geneon. It seems to be out of print unfortunately.  A search for used DVDs in the usual places should bring it up.

I really hope publishers give these titles some serious consideration (I’m looking at you Viz!) Ai Yazawa has a real gift for creating engaging characters and interesting situations. It would be so cool to see her shared universe all in English, so an omnibus of Paradise Kiss would be in order, so they all look so nice lined up on a bookshelf. With Nana doing so well, and Paradise Kiss getting so much love recently, it’s hard to believe that more of Ai Yazawa’s work hasn’t been licensed yet. That really needs to be fixed.

This Week in Manga: 8/14-8/20/10

Hetalia: Axis Powers Does Digital

Tokyopop, who has tried to be a leader in digital manga, takes a step to try to reclaim that title. Hetalia: Axis Powers is a title that been highly anticipated by fans, but the print copy won’t be out until Sept 21. But if you don’t mind reading manga on a computer screen, you can get it now through the Zinio service. Tokyopop has made this title available early through the download service and for about half the price, $5.99. But that not all! Hetalia will also be available through the Overdrive, the digital checkout service for libraries. If you’re library uses Overdrive, but doesn’t have Hetalia, tell Tokyopop. They get a digital copy to them for free! I was going to pass on this title initially, but if I can check out a digital copy from my library, yeah, that would be worth it. It would be nice if publishers made more titles available digitally through Overdrive. With libraries budgets getting slashed by cities, online will be about the only way 9-5 workers can get library books. I know I can’t get to my local library now with their hours slashed to closing at 5PM most days.

Where Do They All Keep Disappearing To?

With digital rights being a big deal, not just with books and publishers now, but with music and movies for over 10 years now, you would think a publisher like PC World would know a copyright infringing site when it saw it. Apparently, even the tech industry has no respect for manga. I guess that makes them no different from most other manga fans. On their website they ran a review of an android app, Manga Browser. Now, normally I wouldn’t expect a tech journalist to know everything about the manga world, but this guy sounds like a manga fan. He’s familiar with what manga is, where to find it online, and what some of the most popular titles are. And what’s his biggest complaint of the software? It relies on scanlation sites. And he’s not upset that it’s scanlation sites it’s linking to, he upset because sites go down and are “unreliable”. Yeah, good sense of reporting there, guy. No mention that the titles he’s mentioning and reading are illegally posted, just that it’s a lot more work to get to them. And if he’s been reading on OneManga (which he bemoans the loss of at the beginning of the review), he surely knows why OneManga went down. But like so many other fans, he just doesn’t care, and gives the scan sites just that much more legitimacy to the rest of the world who doesn’t know better.

Bad Manga Fans!

Black Butler is a popular manga and anime series in both the US and Japan. And for good reason; it’s a fun title. But when mangaka Yana Toboso calls foul on fans that send her letters saying how much they enjoyed reading and/or watching her series for free on streaming/scan sites, what is the reaction from fans in the US on the ANN Forums? To completely diss the mangaka and call her things like “Overly dramatic”, a “complete idiot” and my personal favorite “…insane catlady.” Yeah, good job US manga fandom. You have succeeded in making me ashamed to even be associated with you. Really? You are going to diss on a creator who makes something you like just because she wants to defend her work? How absolutely self-centered and entitled can you be? Honestly? She has to be crazy to want to make money from her hard work? And you call yourself fans? The thread for this story went 28 pages before being locked. But one commenter went through the trouble to translate the original blog post, which you can see here. There’s nothing there that makes me think she’s an idiot or insane. Just very upset. And I certainly don’t blame her.

Called It!

Spotted on Twitter first. Entries for Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan have been spotted on both Simon and Schuster’s website as well as Tentative release date is set for February 2011 from Viz Media. I’ve been saying since they announced the streaming of the anime at SDCC, that there had to be an announcement of the licensing of the manga. There is no way Viz would release an anime and not have the rights to the manga as well. These entries pretty much prove I was right. But with a release of the first volume in February kills my hopes that it would be added to Shonen Jump. It’s a WSJ title with an anime showing in the US. It just screams SJ material. I was really hoping it would give me another reason to keep subscribing to SJ. Oh well.

NYT Best Seller List

Both of Tokyopop’s gains from last week are gone this week. Twilight is still hanging on the Hardback list. It moves up 2 to #6. With the Scott Pilgram craze slowing down, Twilight seems to be move slowly back up. Guess who rules the manga roost. No, it’s not Naruto. Last week’s #2, Rosario + Vampire: Season II vol 2, moves into the #1 spot vacated by Warriors: Ravenpaw’s Path vol 3. Black Bird vol 5 stays right behind its fellow blood sucker to #2. Naruto vol 48 moves up 4 to #3 and Bakuman vol 1 moves to #4, also just vacated by Return to Labyrinth vol 4Negima! Magister Negi Magi vol 27 holds on to #5 while Fullmetal Alchemist vol 23 moves back up 3 to #6. D. Gray-Man vol 18 moves up 1 to #7 and Skip Beat vol 21 moves up 2 to #8. Returning to the list are two titles never far away, Vampire Knight vol 10 comes in at #9 and Black Butler vol 2 at #10. Once again Viz Completely dominates the list taking 8/10 spots. Tokyopop is removed completely and Yen Press and Del Rey just hold on with their biggest sellers.

NYT List: Second Opinion

What’s Matt Blind’s list got to say about all that? Not too much. The top two are the same and one the list only three titles are different. His list still favors Maximum Ride over Black Butler from Yen, and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle seems to do better in his numbers than the NYT’s.

1. Rosario+Vampire Season II 2
2. Black Bird 5
3. Negima! 27
4. Naruto 48
5. Fullmetal Alchemist 23
6. Maximum Ride 3
7. Maximum Ride 1
8. Vampire Knight 10
9. Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle 27
10. Skip Beat! 21

And if you’re interested in how Yen Press is doing over all, check out Matt’s breakout of that publisher by manga, manhwa and OEL.

This Week At Manga Village

What I’m Reading

  • One Piece vol 45

How Do You Say Good-bye?

[Warning: Contains spoilers for One Piece volume 44]

It’s hard to lose a character you love in a series. It’s even harder when you don’t realize how much you’ll miss that character until you see them go. Creators kill off characters all the time, sometimes it’s because they don’t know what to do with them anymore, sometimes it’s just for the shock it creates in readers, and sometimes, though rarely,  it’s even to move the story along.

In volume 44 of One Piece, a very important character is lost. A companion and shipmate that has been with the crew since the 3rd volume; the Merry Go. That’s right, the Straw Pirate’s ship is lost forever. You normally wouldn’t think of a ship as a character. There didn’t seem to be anything special about the Merry Go. It was a small ship compared to many of the other pirate and marine ships. Its figurehead looks like a smiling ram. There’s nothing magical about it except that it kept surviving all the punishment the Luffy and his crew put it through. It was just a ship, right? Not in the hands of Eiichiro Oda.

At the start of the “Water Seven Arc”, the Straw Hats take the Merry Go to the Shipwrights of Water Seven to have her repaired. There they find out the Merry Go is no longer seaworthy, and it is thought lost in the Aqua Laguna. But before the crew can do anything about her, they are distracted by having to save Robin from CP9. It’s an epic battle that levels Enies Lobby, and by the end, Luffy is unable to move after his battle with Lucci, the leader of CP9, and the rest of the crew is surrounded by Marines with no way out.

And then the Straw Hats seem to hear a voice that calls out to them. A voice from the sea that beacons to them. It is their way out, with their last shipmate. It is the Merry Go. She has appeared, as if out of nowhere to help with the rescue. And with Nami navigating, their escape is complete. But all is not well, as the front of the Merry Go breaks away just as they meet up with a ship from Galley-La. It is here that we learn how the Merry Go was able to reach and help her shipmates on her final voyage.

All of this happens in only the last few chapters at the end of the volume. But what’s really amazing about the whole thing is the range of emotions that Oda-sensei is able to evoke throughout them. There’s the joy the whole crew feels when they are not just rescued from certain doom, but rescued by the Merry Go. Then there’s relief and comfort after they are safe from the navy and Luffy takes his “seat” on the Merry Go’s figurehead. Then it is shock and finally acceptance that it’s time to let her go. And then there are the final heart-breaking moments of the Merry Go before she is sent to her final rest.

Oda-sensei uses the visuals to great effect to really bring these emotions home. He interjects panels showing the Merry Go’s figurehead, essentially the face of the ship, in the scenes where it’s prominent or when someone is talking about the ship. It’s amazing how a single expression, a gentle smile, can be used to inspire hope, joy and sadness. It really hits you at the end, as the ship is burning, and the panels alternate between memories from the crew of their time with her and the ship in flames. If you don’t have at least a tear in your eye during these last pages, you ARE NOT HUMAN!

Another thing that really makes these scenes believable is how sparingly Oda-sensei uses the Merry Go talking. The ship doesn’t come alive, it’s more of a disembodied voice that speaks only when she needs to be heard. Before the crew realizes the Merry Go has come for them, they all hear a voice calling to them, telling them to look down, but it’s not shown. Only the crew’s reactions to the voice is shown. She was only shown speaking when she begged Iceberg to fix her, once during the rescue and at the end when she said her final farewell to the crew, her shipmates, her friends.

The final chapter of this volume is heart-breaking, but not in a melodramatic way. You don’t expect to have cared so much for the Merry Go. It was just the Straw Hat Pirate’s ship. It’s after you see her going that you realize how much she really meant to both them and the reader. As Usopp says, “We must all part someday,” but there’s nothing unnatural or forced about this parting. The Merry Go had a good life with shipmates who cared about her. And she was able to get her final wish, to sail the seas one last time with them. It was a fitting end to a well-lived life.

As sad as it is to see The Merry Go go, it is a satisfying closure to a character’s story. How do you say goodbye?  Just like this.

Gone But Not Forgotten

Even though CMX was taken from us so swiftly, they still live on through the many titles they released for the last four years. If you missed out on CMX when it was around, now is a good time to catch up with Rightstuf having a sale on their titles from now until Thursday. Some of the titles I would personally recommend are Canon, Kiichi and the Magic Books, King of Cards, Lizard Prince, Two Flowers for the Dragon,  and one-volume-wonders My Darling! Miss Bancho and Stolen Hearts.

But a sale like this is a good time to check out new titles and get a taste of some of the titles people have been talking about. For me, that would be these titles:

CMX titles ran the gambit of all different genres and age ratings. Just in that list there’s fantasy, sci-fi, romance, historical, and action all with age ratings ranging from Everyone to Mature. CMX had so much potential once it was put into the hands of people who knew what to do with it. Too bad DC and many fans didn’t realize it soon enough.

The sad thing about this sale is the low availability of titles. Since DC has discontinued the CMX line, there are no new stock coming in to replace the old, so order now, or else they’ll all be gone. Already you can see on the list that there are volumes missing within some series’ such as Emma Moon Child and Name of the Flower, and even some of those that do show up aren’t in stock and have to be hunted down. You can get 6-8 titles for around $50 and then get free shipping (US), and with some of these series’ that could be a couple of them complete! Don’t let these fun and entertaining books pass you by.

This Week in Manga: 8/7-8/13/10

Too Much Good Stuff!

Deb Aoki of continues posting her coverage of panels from SDCC. This week she adds an entry for the Best and Worst Manga panel including comments from the panelists. There are more Best and Worst and a whole page dedicated to Most Anticipated. It’s interesting that Twilight made the Best list, but Maximum Ride got put in the Worst. Both make tons of money for Yen Press, so yah there. And the cat manga Chi’s Sweet Home and Cat Paradise both definitely deserve to be in the Best list. I don’t know what I would add to this list. I have hard time saying something is the Best or Worst. Except One Piece. That’s definitely a Best!

Also added to her coverage is a complete transcript of the Online Piracy Panel. It’s NINE PAGES. The front page to it give the topics covered in the discussion, but getting the full transcript is almost the same as being there! Definitely thank Deb for her hard work in getting this up for everyone to read. This is a very relevant topic right now as fans and publishers bash heads over the best way to get comics and manga online. It’s going to continue to be a bumpy road for a while.

Del Rey: Will They or Won’t They?

News of more cancellations of books has people once again questioning Del Rey’s commitment to publish manga. Brigid Alverson over at Robot 6 put the question to Associate Publisher Dallas Middaugh. Middaugh’s response sounds a lot like a non-denial denial. He defends Del Rey by say they are publishing the same number of pages a year, but at the same time pushes their OEL titles, which isn’t what most fans want to here. They are supposed to have a panel NYCC, so we’ll have to wait and see if they make any announcements then.

Pet Peeves #1: Publisher Web Sites

As a blogger, fan and parent, trying to get information on publisher websites can sometimes feel like pulling teeth, when there is anything to find in the first place. Apparently, I’m not the only one to feel this way. Brigid Alverson expresses her own displeasure over at Robot 6 in a wonderfully worded rant that hits all the problems I and from the comments others have with publishers. The big question is, will it do any good. We can hope, but I’m not holding my breath. I’d like to add one more problem I have, mainly with Marvel and relates to the search and links. When I finally do find the link for the comic I’m looking for, usually a new release on the front page, it should send me to a page with information and age rating on the issue and not A BLANK PAGE! For heavens sake, you’ve had months to get the page ready, or worse, if it’s a coding issue (which is probably more likely considering how convoluted that page is already), then you’ve got some major problems.  FIX THEM! I want to read your comics, but if you can’t get me the information I need easily, then I don’t need to read your stuff!

Pet Peeves #2: Scanlations Sites ≠ Libraries

With the demise of OneManga, people are still whining about it being gone and trying to justify that reading manga there is the same as checking out a manga from the library. Librarian Robin Brenner has something to say about that. Four somethings actually, as she explains why libraries are not just relevent, but also why they are legal for reading manga for free, and Scanlations sites are not. Most of the commentors to the post are in answer to Deb’s request for a list of 10 manga every library should carry, but one (#21) argues:

The manga world is changing. We can keep up with it or fall behind trying to desperately keep the copyright alive.

While there is an argument for digital manga, it shouldn’t, and doesn’t have to be at the cost of copyright.

NYT Best Seller List

Wow! What a change in the list this week! Two OEL’s make it to the list this week, including one to take the top spot! Ravenpaw’s Path vol 3, an original story in the popular Warriors series takes the #1 spot. Never underestimate the power of cats! Rosario Vampire Season II vol 2 debuts at #2. Never underestimate the power of cute vampire girls either. Black Bird vol 5 debuts as well at #3 and the OEL series Return to Labyrinth vol 4 debuts at #4 and finishes the series as well. At #5 is Negima! Magister Negi Magi vol 27, hanging one through its second week, and Bakuman vol 1 charts at #6 on its first week. Naruto vol 48 finally makes its appearance at #7 while D.Gray-Man vol 18 debuts at #8. Fullmetal Alchemist vol 23 sadly falls back to #9 and the rare shojo title sans vampires makes its appearance with Skip Beat vol 23 coming in at #10. This is quite a turmultuous week with 7 debut titles. Tokyopop takes 2 of the top 5 spots with its debuts with Viz sandwiching 2 more debuts in between. Del Rey keeps a space on the spot, but Yen Press has been ousted completely. It’s nice to see some OEL chart though, especially an adaptation. I would like to see more adaptations, but for the older crowd. Cozy mysteries anyone?

NYT List: Second Opinion

Matt Blind’s chart for the top 10 sellers from Rocket Bomber looks very different from the NYT, but not so much so from last week:

1. Negima! 27
2. Naruto 48
3. Fullmetal Alchemist 23
4. Vampire Knight 10
5. Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle 27
6. Black Bird 5
7. Ouran High School Host Club 14
8. Maximum Ride 1
9. Rosario+Vampire Season II 2
10. Shugo Chara! 9

Only four titles changed hands on Matt’s list from last week; Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Black Bird, Rosario+Vampire Season II and Shugo Chara! replaced Hellsing, Bleach, and second volumes of Maximum Ride and Naruto. But compared to the NYT list, only two of the debuting titles match up; Black Bird and Rosario+Vampire Season II. Check out his full post for all the specifics.

Broader Best Sellers

Matt is now taking requests for analysis on titles as he compiles his weekly lists. Follow him on Twitter at ProfessorBlind to make your request. This week he got a request for Viz’s Signature line, which he provided, and went ahead and did a few other popular genre: manhwa and global manga. Check them out to see what are the best sellers in these categories.

Manga For Your Ears

Sci-Guys Podcast

Sesho’s Anime and Manga Reviews

This Week At Manga Village

What I’ve Been Reading

  • Tena on S-String vol 3
  • Mixed Vegetables vol 7
  • Black Jack vol 8
  • Gentleman’s Alliance Cross vol 11
  • Alice the 101st

Shonen Jump September 2010

It’s a new month, so that means a new Shonen Jump. Too bad there’s nothing new inside the pages of this mag. There was nothing new announced at SDCC, which was disappointing to say the least. I was so sure Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan would have been announced as a new title. Oh well, maybe at NYCC. It was hinted that changes may be coming at the end of the year. I sure hope so. The page count is slightly up this month with a Spotlight chapter on Shaman King, a graduate from these very pages.

The issue starts off with a better organization of their promotion of all the anime titles playing of the SJ properties. It’s now divided up by Streaming, TV Broadcast and DVDs. The Naruto TCG and video game info-ads are at the beginning as well, so you don’t just skip them after reading the manga. No, if you’re like me, you skip them to get to the manga.

This issue starts out with Naruto, and continues the battle between Sasuke and Danzo. It’s a lot of sharingan one-upmanship,right up to the very end. Sasuke takes his jutsu to the next level of Susano’o during the battle, and shows his dark side at the end. Honestly, there wasn’t anything interesting in this battle as Sasuke and Danzo keep trying to outdo each other. This is the very thing I hate about battle tournament manga. It’s also what keeps Naruto on it’s downward spiral.

Bleach then steps up with even more prolonged battles. Renji and Uryu are still fighting Szayelaporro. Only now they have to fight duplicates of themselves. Yeah. That’s original. Ichigo continues his fight Nnoitora, which is basically him being a punching bag again. This is so Nel can return to her old espada self. While I’m interested in finding about Nel’s past, I can’t say I have hope it will help the series as a whole.

The shining light in this mostly dark magazine is One Piece, and it really shines this time! Luffy and the escapees from Impel Down interrupt the battle momentarily as they every one regroups and takes on new opponents. The exchange between Luffy and Whitebeard is especially fun, with Luffy being himself as he stands next to the most powerful pirate in the world and telling him not ot get in HIS way. It’s just great! There is just too much going on to even explain. You have to read it to believe it! It all ends with Luffy facing off against Hawkeye, a Warlord of the Sea.

Ultimo surprisingly didn’t disappoint me this time. Ultimo awakens in time to save Yamato, which turns into a battle between him and Jealousy. Murayama appears to hold them off so that Yamato and Ultimo can go back in time, to the 12th Century to find out what really happened back in that time. Finding out about everyone’s backstory has me more interested in the title now. I don’t really care about their current reincarnations, but the glimpses to the past have been the most interesting parts of this title so far, so I’m hoping a marked improvement with this jump back in time.

The spotlight title this month is Shaman King. The chapter comes from volume 30, which is nearing the end of the title. It only went 32 total, so hopefully the fight gets resovled before the title does. Though, with talk of a second round starting, that’s probably not going to happen. This is a typical hot spring chapter, with everyone wandering about in just towels (no girls in this chapter, btw), including Hao, who pops in to enjoy the spring as well. Yoh, in his typical, laidback fashion, isn’t bothered by his rival’s appearance. It’s a nice filler chapter, and makes me want to catch up on Shaman King.

The issue ends with it’s usual Yu-Gi-Oh! free card and strategy article, video game article and brain teaser. For next issue, the spotlight will be on new series Genkaku Picasso, a title some in the mangasphere has been looking forward to. It’s drawn by the same mangaka as the ill-fated 51 Ways to Save Her that people were also looking forward to from CMX. That’s at least something to look forward to, other than just One Piece.

Yen Plus: 2 Years Later

It was starting to become a tradition for me. Going to San Diego Comic Con and by Saturday afternoon, stopping by the Yen Press booth and picking up the anniversary issue of Yen Plus. I didn’t go to SDCC this year, and by the same token, Yen Plus wasn’t given out this year. It had gone digital, with a free preview available until September 9th, so I am still able to do my annual One Year Later post.

So, what’s changed in the move from print to digital? First off, the August/Preview issue has no Japanese-licensed titles in it. It’s all Korean/OEL manga. Compared to the last two years, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I didn’t care for the Japanese offerings in the premiere issue, but there was definite improvement by the 1st anniversary (namely Black Butler and Hero Tales). But the Korean/OEL side still held sway over me, so having this issue be mostly that didn’t bother me.

One of the things about going digital that might not be as Yen Press planned is how much easier it is for me to skip over the titles I don’t want to read. In print form, I would generally start at the beginning and read through all the chapters, whether I really liked them or not. I’m going through every page, whether I’m actually reading them or not. I’ll skim the things I’m not all that interested in, but that usually ended up with me reading the whole chapters anyway. This meant I gave titles I wasn’t too interested in more of a chance, because I’d at least read them. With the digital version, I had no problem just skipping past Maximum Ride, a title I have read chapters from and didn’t really care for, and Gossip Girl, one I haven’t even tried to give a chance.

Actually, my reading of the this issue had me skipping all around, something I don’t think I’m going to do again. The way the digital magazine is set up is identical to the print version, with articles and ads interspersed between chapters, and as I prefer to read print, this made the flow of the digital version much easier to get into. It felt like the print magazine on the screen which is an experience I prefer. So, let’s take a look at the chapters I did read.

This title continues to be a strong anchor for the magazine. Even though I haven’t read vol 3 yet, reading this chapter made me want to go out and get it. The sohrem and their hosts, Alex and Ronee had been captured and nearly had the power sucked from them by Night Lords, but they are rescued by Marina also a sohrem host, and some of the Hunters. The person responsible their capture is also responsible for breaking their seal. He is caught when things don’t go according to plan and turns out to have an interesting connection to Mr. Roi, who had sealed the sohrem away in the first place. Very good chapter that kept the action and story going.

This is a new title based on another series by James Patterson. It’s got a sci-fi feel to it. As this was the debut of the series, we get to chapters to introduce Daniel and his special powers. He can change his shape as well as create people and things out of thin air. And not just holograms, real, flesh and blood people with independent thought and memories. The story has Daniel going after Most Wanted #6, Ergent Seth, who is currently in Malibu, CA, working in the film industry. Daniel enrolls in a local high school as a cover and is distracted by a girl, Phoebe. Meanwhile Ergent Seth strikes, and there’s a cat in his house. The story has me intrigued, so I’ll keep reading it. The characters are interesting too, and the art is really nice. I’m taking to this one much better than Maximum Ride.

This story is a one shot by Madeliene Rosca, the creator of Hollow Fields, a OEL series published by Seven Seas. It’s about a young girl, Catherine, who is learning to be a Ghost Hunter, like her father. One night when he goes out to work, the police come looking for her father, but Catherine decides to take on the haunting herself. With her book, lantern and bell, she pieces together what’s really going on. It’s a cute story with a funny ending. I don’t know that I’d want to see more of these characters, but more from Rosca would most certainly be welcome!

This is a color 4-koma, or comic strip, series. It’s about a rich, spoiled young man who decides to become a pirate. His only crew is Robin, a guard from Aron’s estate that will do anything for money. He is a good fighter, and quickly increases the crew after a show of force when another pirate ship tries to take them over. It’s cute and funny, in the way that clueless leads who beleaguer their smarter subordinates can. It’s good for a quick read, but it’s not anything I would want to keep for the long run.

I’ve read the first three volumes of this title and it’s still just as awesome. This is the best of the manhwa titles. Baek-On Ju is a traveling exorcist who is accompanied by Ho-Yeon Won, his bodyguard. The tales in this title are mostly episodic, with Baek-On being presented with a problem, and him solving it without making a bit of trouble for Ho-Yeon along the way. The overarching stories in this title have to do with the main characters past. This chapter relates to a past wrong Baek-On committed and can’t forgive himself for. It’s an emotional chapter as are most of the chapters dealing with him. It’s an excellent read, and a series that is easy to jump into at any time.

Not a great title, but one of the originals from the magazine’s beginning. Jack Frost is a horror title that likes lots of gore and panty shots, but not so much on plot. This chapter has the North side recouping from an attack from the South Side and Helmina and Jack scheming for more fighting. And a new character Avid decides to going to battle to take on Jack Frost for title of most powerful in Amityville. I’m not sure why I keep reading Jack Frost, for all the lackluster writing and characters and fanservice, but I think I’m being hopelessly optimistic for a real story to come out. Well, since it comes with the magazine, I guess I’ll keep following it. Just on the off-chance it surprises me.

The reading experience wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. I’ve tried Yen Plus out on three different monitors. My 19″ LCD at home, 17″ CRT at work and my 4.3″ HTC HD2 phone. All the regular manga chapters looked good on all three screens. Yes, surprisingly, even the HD2 was readable. The popout window made everything crystal clear, and zooming on the HD2 worked well. The only problem I had was with Aron’s Absurd Armada. The only way to be able to clearly read this title was by going Full Size in the popout window, and even then I was scrolling up and down and back and forth on the screen, especially on the 17″ monitor at work. It’s enough to give one carpel tunnel! So Yen, even if it’s on a desktop computer, Zoom is a necessary option, especially with a 4-koma where the windows are smaller and the text gets lost in the background. The reading experience needs to be at least as good as the print, in that it shouldn’t feel like work for me to read the pages. If I have to get closer because of my eyesight, that’s one thing, but if it’s blurry even then, then the problem is on your end.

Other issues I had were also minor, such as a page “sticking” in Daniel X. The previous page appeared twice, but after going out and going back it fixed itself. And some screentone just doesn’t work online. If you want to go blind, just view the Jack Frost chapter. The plaid screentone used through most of it is painful.

I like the navigation bar on the side for chapters and the pulldown menu at the top that also lists the articles. The side bar is only available in main browser window. If you go to the popout window, you will have to use the pulldown menu. There is a minor page turn animation as you flip through the magazine which you can do with a click on the page. It will take you back and forth through the magazine, though jumping chapters was easiest with the side bar. There are arrows at the top that will also control page turns, but the most ideal would be arrow keys on the keyboard.

And as for archiving, I don’t think that’s necessary. The digital magazine is for marketing. To make an archive available would be the same as saying “Don’t buy the books, just read your manga here for super cheap”, and I don’t think that is Yen Press’ intention. Now, I could see them selling digital copies of the books when they come out at a discount for Yen Plus subscribers. Maybe as a bonus for being a subscriber. But I don’t see a reason for Yen archiving the issues themselves. I did once, but with years of Shonen Jump and the thought of digging them out to read One Piece doesn’t make it worth it. I would rather buy the collected books than try to read a series through the mags.

Overall, this first version of a digital Yen Plus isn’t bad. Neither is the price. At $2.99 a month, I don’t mind paying to read even just the three titles I enjoyed the most.  It’s still a good deal as far as I’m concerned.  And with more on the way, Yotsuba!& has been hinted at, there is a lot of potential here. I think I’m going to stick it out this time and see how it progresses.

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