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.

This Week in Manga: 7/31-8/6/10

And the Con Goes On

It’s been two weeks since Comic-Con, but reports are still coming out with video and transcripts from the manga panels that were held that. While that might be bad (and stressful) for the writing and transcribing them, it a bonus for those us of who couldn’t go! Deb Aoki posts about the manga events on Friday and takes a closer look at the Yen Press announced titles. Comics Journal has video of the Manga for Grown-Up panel and Carlo Santos from Anime News Network talked with guest Moto Hagio. And yes, there will be more links coming. But if you couldn’t make it to the con, they will be worth it.

Stuck in SDCC’s Shadow

One week after SDCC was Otakon over on the East Coast, in Baltimore, MD.  There wasn’t a huge manga presence there in either publishers or journalists. Ed Sizemore of the Manga Worth Reading blog not only held his own panel on Anime Journalism, but he also did writes up on Manhwa at the con for Manhwa Bookshelf, and days Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Audio from his panel can be found here, a transcript from Anime Diet here, and a report from Animemiz on it. Otakon also had a spin-off con: Baltiport. Comprised of Otakon attendees who were stuck in the Baltimore Airport, the 5 hour impromptu gathering also resulted in a license announcement. Bandai Entertainment will be releasing the Code Geass spin-off manga A Record of the Strange Tales of the Bakumatsu Era: Code Geass. You just never know when or where a new con will pop up.

Digital Manga Roundup

Yen Press’ move of their magazine Yen Plus to the digital world has really had people talking. Deb Aoki had a Q&A session JuYoun Lee, the Senior Editor about the changes in the magazine and some readers concerns. Brigid Alverson of Robot 6 then took on Kurt Hassler, the Editorial Director and pressed for more, specifically about whether any of the Japanese titles such as Black Butler would be returning…. OneManga did indeed do what they said they would, and pulled all manga from the site by Monday morning. Manga Fox is still going strong as of this writing… BL Manga Kindle readers can rejoice as Animate USA puts up another round of digital manga from Broccoli and CPM’s former catalog. I’ll have my own review of the new Yen Plus this week, but let me just preface it by saying thank you Yen Press for making your site readable on mobile devices. I will be more likely to keep up with your releases than the others you use flash.

NYT Best Seller List

So, what does the New York Times list have in store for us this week? Starting with the hardbacks, the sparkly-vampires are getting their butts beat by guys with sparkly rings as Twilight vol 1 remains at #9, well behind several Green Lantern books. Over on the manga list, there’s been quite a shake up! Del Rey finally decided to release some books and 3 of the 5 top spots are filled by them. Negima! Magister Negi Magi vol 27 debuts at #1. Right behind it is the CLAMP title Tsubasa: Resevoir Chronicle vol 27 debuting at #2. Naruto vol 48 at least keeps a top 5 spot by coming in at #3, followed by Fullmetal Alchemist vol 23 at #4. Shugo Chara! vol 9 takes up the #5 spot with Ouran High School Host Club vol 14 falling another three to #6. Vampire Knight vol 10 takes #7, staying ahead of Megatokyo vol 6 which is now at #8. Debuting at #9 is vol 2 of the Spice and Wolf manga, and the apocalypse is averted as Black Butler vol 2 returns at #10.

NYT Best Seller: Second Opinion

The manga rankings have gone up over at Rocket Bomber. Let’s see how the top ten stack up:

1. Naruto 48
2. Fullmetal Alchemist 23
3. Ouran High School Host Club 14
4. Vampire Knight 10
5. Maximum Ride 1
6. Hellsing 10
7. Negima! 27
8. Naruto 47
9. Maximum Ride 2
10. Bleach 31

Only 5 of the 1o titles between the two lists are consistent. Four of the Viz titles and 1 Del Rey. Once again, the NYT list features more of the newly released Del Rey titles than RB. If you remove the Del Rey titles then the NYT would match RB’s top four. RB does have Negima charting, but it’s the only Del Rey title to make it to the list.  Maximum Ride and Hellsing continue to hold on in RB’s list, but not Black Butler or Spice and Wolf. They don’t show up until 22 and 48 respectively. If the RB list only gets its data from the three biggest sellers online and retail (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders), where is the NYT data coming from to skew their list so far toward new releases?

Manga For Your Ears

Sesho’s Anime and Manga Reviews

Spiraken Manga Review

This Week at Manga Village

What I’ve Been Reading

  • Paradise Kiss vol 2
  • One Piece vol 43-44
  • Natsume’s Book of Friends vol 2
  • Himeyuka and Rozione’s Story
  • My Cat Loki vol 2
  • Yen Plus vol 3 issue 1
  • Shonen Jump  September 2010

20th Century Boys Volume 9

The year is 2014, and Neo Tokyo is completely under the control of the Friend. Kanna has decided to stand up and avenge Kenji-will she be able to muster up enough support for her cause? Kanna makes her way to a mafia-operated casino and quickly finds herself at a high stakes table. Is she lucky (and smart) enough to turn the odds in her favor at the bizarre and fast-paced game of Rabit Nabaokov?

While Kanna marshals her forces, Koizumi Kyoko experiences true horror at the reeducation camp known as Friend Land. Going back in time in their “Virtual World”, she meets Kenji and his pals as boys in 1971 and sees something that is strictly taboo: the Friend’s childhood face! Will she live to report back on the Friend’s identity?

By Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: Viz Media – Signature
Age Rating: Teen+
Genre: Thriller
Price: $12.99
Rating: ★★★★☆
Buy This Book

The more Urasawa reveals in 20th Century Boys, the less we know about what’s really going on. What seemed obvious a couple of volumes ago now gets turned on its head, making you doubt everything you’ve seen up to now.

In this volume, Kanna, who Kenji and Shogun believed to be “the last hope”, decides it’s time for her to take matters into her own hands and steps out into the spotlight. Back at the beginning of the series, it was set up that Kanna had an uncanny ability, possibly a psychic power to guess what people were thinking. We finally get to see this come into play as she goes to a mafia-run casino to try to enlist more people to the cause. Showing some amazing leadership skills, she is able to bring together warring factions of Chinese, Thai, and Japanese gangs and get them to agree to work together for her cause. When she’s speaking to the gang members, she seems to be more charismatic than usual. This other side to Kanna makes her a more interesting character than just the rebellious, hot-headed teen looking for revenge for her uncle that she appeared to be in previous volumes.

But, in usual Urasawa fashion, he shakes things up and they many not be what they seemed at the beginning. A New Book of Prophecy is introduced in this volume. One of the prophecies from it tells of a public meeting in a church in 2014 where the “savior” will be killed. Every sign points to Kanna and her gathering of the gangs. But, by the end, you’re left feeling not so sure about Kanna and her role. Everything we’ve been led to believe up to now may be completely wrong. It’s an eerie feeling have the rug seemingly pulled out from under you after 9 volumes.

This is one of the things that makes Urasawa’s titles so compelling. The ease with which he turns the whole story on its head and leaves you wondering “What now?”, just increases that need for the next volume to find out what’s gonna happen next. It’s his ability to keep the mystery going even when he’s giving up more information, such as with the Friend’s identity. More information was given about who or what he might be, but there are many reasons to doubt the source of the information. But then again, there are just as many reasons not to. Koizumi did see the Friend’s face, but also suffered brain damage when she was pulled from the virtual world. Can we believe what Koizumi saw? I’m inclined to think so, but there’s just enough uncertainty that I can’t say for sure. This uncertainty is what makes the story so infuriating, but at the same time, addicting.

Overall, this volume of 20th Century Boys was a great read. Seeing Kanna in action at the casino made for some very compelling scenes, and there was a lot of anticipation built over Kanna’s biggest gamble, whether anyone would show up the next day. This is the kind of drama I enjoy. The end of the volume created some real shock and awe as characters and readers alike are informed of the return of a surprise character that up until now has only been seen in memories or flashbacks. Oh, and Shogun is still cool. I’m really looking forward to the next volume now.

Straight Up Great Titles

I was sorely tempted by the last Rightstuf sale of Viz titles, but RL is kicking my checkbook with back-to-school stuff for the kids. Their newest sale is on Vertical titles, and even though I can’t really dive into this sale either, that doesn’t mean I can’t try to convince the rest of you to spend YOUR hard-earned money!

Veritcal has really been doing a good job of building a quality and diverse selection of titles. Sci-fi, action, horror, drama and even cuteness can be found in their growing selection. Here are just a few of my favorites that I would gladly recommend.

Andromeda Stories – I really enjoyed this sci-fi story, that one the surface appears to be a story of man vs. machine, but by the end becomes something different. The first volume can seem a little slow and without direction, but once you get into volume 2, the ride really starts bringing you to a satisfactory end in volume 3.

Black Jack – You hear people say how great this series is (including me) but you really don’t get it until you read it. There’s just something about the rogue doctor that’s really appealing. Whether it’s the comeuppance that he likes to deal the legitimate medical community, the rights he wrongs or the hard-as-steel surgeon with a heart of gold, Black Jack is a great character and the stories Tezuka puts him in makes any volume of this series a great read.

Dororo – Staying with the Tezuka theme, Dororo is an action series that is criminally short at 3 volumes. It easily could have gone 10.  Hyakkimaru’s and Dororo’s adventures in feudal Japan are filled with action as Hyakkimaru battles demons to regain his stolen body parts and some of the usual Tezuka examination of the human condition.

Chi’s Sweet Home – One of Vertical’s newest titles, Chi is one of the funnest titles you will read, all the more if you’re a cat lover. Flipped and in color, watch as Chi first wins the hearts of the Yohei and the Yamada family and then as she wins yours! The stories are short, but can be laugh out loud funny. Kanata’s art is cute without being cutesy. One of the best new titles of the year.

Cute Dogs/Cute Pups – These are part of Vertical’s craft line. Both books feature cute dogs and puppies, and even accessories for them that you can make on your own. The designs are fairly simple and everything is hand-sewn. Kids 10 and up can enjoy making these as well as the crafty dog lover.

Guin Saga/The Seven Magi – If you miss fantasy stories with big burly men with leopard heads than the Guin Saga is for you! The original novels tell a sweeping story of Guin and the two twins he is protecting from the evil Mongauli empire. The manga, a side story set sometime after the first five novels has some great art, and a fast-moving story that can feel a little daunting without knowing much about the world, but still enjoyable none the less.

Twin Spica – This coming of age space story has some strong characters and great drama. It looks at the realities of becoming an astronaut with Asumi, and upbeat and earnest girl who has dreamt of going to the stars ever since she was little. The first volume really draws you in and a great story and some flashback short stories that have tragic elements without become melodramatic. I can’t NOT recommend this title highly.

These are just a few of the titles from Vertical that I’ve read and have enjoyed. What are some of your favorites, or are you looking forward to buying?

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