Shonen Jump July 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bunny Drop Volume 1

Going home for his grandfather’s funeral, thirty-year-old bachelor Daikichi is floored to discover that the old man had an illegitimate child with a younger lover! The rest of his family is equally shocked and embarrassed by this surprise development, and not one of them wants anything to do with the silent little girl, Rin. In a fit of angry spontaneity, Daikichi decides to take her in himself! But will living with this overgrown teenager of man help Rin come out of her shell? And hang on, won’t this turn of events spell doom for Daikichi’s love life?!

BUNNYDROP_1By Yumi Unita
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: 16+
Genre: Drama
Price: $12.99
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy This Book

When I first heard about this title, I didn’t think it would appeal to me. But, after seeing so many comments recommending it, I decided to give it a chance, and I’m glad I did. Bunny Drop turned out to be a well written story with engaging characters that evolve over the course of this first volume.

Bunny Drop looks at the lives of two people. Daikichi is a 30-year-old bachelor. He is the section chief at a clothing manufacturer, so he works longs shifts and has no social life, or prospects of one anytime soon. Rin is a quiet 5-year-old girl. She is shy around other adults, and is the daughter of Daikichi’s 80-year-old grandfather, essentially making Rin Daikichi’s aunt. At Daikichi’s grandfather’s funeral, his family is arguing over who should take in Rin, as no one knows who the mother is. Daikichi, disgusted by their attempts to push the child off onto each other, impulsively decides to take her in himself. Here is where the story really starts.

In order to properly care for Rin, Daikichi’s whole life has to change. He can no long live the life of a bachelor, working until late into the night, and leaving his porn magazines around. He has to keep the apartment relatively clean, learn to shop for Rin, find her daycare, and even transfer to another department at his job to get lesser hours. But the changes he experiences aren’t just external. Internally, he is changing as well. In order to care for Rin, his whole way of thinking has to change. He needs to think more like a parent. Slowly, he begins to understand Rin and her needs, such as helping her deal with the concept of death, and that he’s not going to die so soon as her father/his grandfather did. Helping Rin also makes him look at his life and health, which starts him thinking about the future differently.

This was a fantastic story. I really enjoyed it a lot. It was very touching in a lot of ways, with the way Daikichi reaches out to Rin, not knowing what he is getting into, and really tries to care for her without overcompensating. The characters and story are rendered realistically, making the whole title believable. There’s nothing weird or disturbing about the way the situation is presented. The changes in the characters occur gradually, naturally. Watching Daikichi’s adjustments from bachelor to “Dad” are both amusing and touching. It’s hard to put into words, but the whole volume just felt good to read.

The art suits the story very well. It’s has a mostly realistic look to it, with some weird faces showing up, but these are just moments of exaggerated emotion and well within the range of reality.

I highly recommend Bunny Drop. It’s a title that both men and women can enjoy and relate to. The characters are great and the situations have humor mostly because they are so true. Anyone who has had to get daycare on a moment’s notice can really relate to Daikichi’s predicaments. It’s well written, well drawn, and just plain a pleasure to read.

Review copy provided by Publisher

Chew on This


[Contains Spoilers]

The Doctor’s wonky piloting of the TARDIS once again lands him some place he don’t intend to be, but needs to be in this 8th episode of the new series, “The Hungry Earth”. I’ve come under the distinct impression that the TARDIS has a mind of its own, and makes some of the side trips herself. Anyway, instead of landing to Rio de Janeiro, as promised, the TARDIS lands in the near future in a Welsh village, where a drill is set to pass the 21km mark, the furthest anyone has drilled before. But the Earth doesn’t seem to happy about this, as it first takes a night watchman, and then Amy, sucking them down underground. A barrier then surrounds the village, blocking out the sun, and allowing something to lurk in the ensuing darkness.

This episode is the first of a two parter, so it’s all about set-up. No one really knows what is going on, as strange minerals seep to the surface, and graves are emptied seemingly from underneath. The Doctor, Rory and Amy arrive just as it appears that the ground is fighting back. It’s a good atmospheric episode. There is a lot of suspense as the enemy goes unseen for most of it. The sticking door of the church, while cliché for this kind of episode is put to good use. And no, the sonic screwdriver still doesn’t work on wood.

d11s01e08_wallpapers_13The reboot of the Silurians aren’t bad so far. Their introduction harkens back to their original appearance back in the 70’s with the 3rd Doctor, as we see things from their perspective, through a mask with an electronic display. Their appearance immediately brought to mind the Narn from Babylon 5, mostly in the shape of the head. The scales and coloring was well done, giving them a very reptilian look. The first Silurian we meet is Alaya, a member of the Warrior class, she spends all of her time (after getting a good verbal smack from the Doctor), taunting the humans, predicting one of them will kill her and start a war between them.

One of the things I really enjoyed was the Doctor’s endless faith in the human race. He sees the encounter with Alaya as an opportunity for humanity to be their best and show the Silurians they are ready for live together in peace. All that has to happen for this is Rory, Ambrose and Tony to keep Alaya safe and unharmed. Is it jaded of me to have spent the entire time thinking that as never going to happen?

Overall this was a good set up for action in the next episode. Rory is really showing himself to be a good companion. Please let us keep a multi-companion TARDIS! Please!!

This Week in Manga 6/5-6/11/10


About Freakin’ Time!

The big news of the week was announced on Tuesday. Manga publishers in both the US and Japan have banded together to create a coalition to fight online piracy. They are starting with manga aggregator sites  with make it easy  for scanlators to put their titles up in one place and for readers to find and read them easily. 30 sites have been targeted, though no names have been mentioned. Though you can be sure Onemanga will be one of them, as they got a lot of press last week about making Google’s top 1000 websites. The Mangasphere had a lot to say about this, and you can find a lot of the reactions rounded up here. Bloggers have been going on about this for a while, and it’s about time publishers did something. For all we know, this might have been in the works for a while, to first get the Japanese publisher to band together, and then bring in the US publishers. While this initiative won’t complete wipe out piracy online, as long as gets the aggregator sites off as the first result in Google when searching for some titles, I’ll be happy.

Looking for Solutions

Stopping aggregator sites is a short-term and answer to a problem, it doesn’t really address the real issue that aggregator sites seemed to be an answer to. Readers want to be able to read more manga online. Once the current aggregators are gone, if manga publishers don’t address this problem, they will start appearing again, this time in places where the coalition doesn’t have as much sway. Jake Forbes, manga editor and writer of Return to Labyrinth has a very digital suggestion that would allow scanlators, creators and publishers to work together and address some of the issues scanlators say they have with licensed titles.  Scanlation site Manga Helpers, which was in the news last year for trying to reach out manga publishers, has simultaneously announced it will stop hosting scanlations and will start a new business model called Open Manga. Details are vague on the business model, and they might be premature in announcing it without any details. Without the scans though, Manga Helpers does appear it can be a useful site, if it returns to concentrating on helping translators improve their skills.

Meanwhile, Erica Friedman of Okazu has been working on the solution to scanlations for while and posts her article. It’s long but filled with a lot of good information about the history of scans, why they were a solution to a perceived problem, and what the solution to the solution should look like. Finding the right solution will not be easy, and I suspect publishers will not find it for a while. Apple and iPad are not the answer, nor totally is a web-based solution. It’s going to take technology, creators and publishers working together to get digital manga where it’s available for all, and that’s what really want, isn’t it?

Masters of Manga

Marc Bernabé, a professional translator and writer (mostly in spanish) has started work on a book, not just about manga, but it’s creators, the mangaka that come up with and drawn all our favorite titles. He has interviewed and filmed 30 mangaka, many of whom are well-known in the US, including Ken Akamatsu, Kaiji Kawaguchi, Umezu Kazuo, and Naoki Urasawa. He’s now putting up some of his filmed interviews, translated on his blog. If you’re interested in learning what goes on in the heads of mangaka, go check out this site.

NYT Best Sellers List

This week, Viz takes back its dominance of the list, but only just. It has a lot of new volumes to the list, but not all of them have the stamina to stick around long. First, over on the Hardback list, Twilight is spending its 12th week there at #1 again. Manga’s new #1 is no surprise. Naruto vol 48 jumps right into the top spot. Following behind it is Vampire Knight vol 10 debuting at #2. Also debuting at #3 is a series no stranger to the list, Bleach, with vol 31. Last week’s #1, Negima! Magister Negi Magi vol 26 falls three to #4, with Black Butler vol 2 holding right being at #5. Debuting at #6 is Yu-Gi-Oh! R vol 5 as does Dark Horse title Hellsing vol 10, coming in at #7, and is the final volume in that vampire series. Tokyopop returns to the list with vol 3 of Alice in the Country of Hearts at #8, and spots #9 and #10 are held by new volumes of One Piece, 50 and 49 respectively. Viz gets 6 of the 10 posts this week, with Del Rey, Yen Press, new comer Dark Horse and Tokyopop all getting just one. It’s hard to say which titles will make to next week, as most of the titles here have a history of hanging on. My guess would be that Hellsing and Negima will be the first to go, as could the two One Piece volumes. I don’t think Yen Press can stand to have just one title on the list for long.

News From Japan

Bunny Drop goes Live

Bunny Drop, a josei manga that has just started release here in the US through Yen Press, has just been given the green light for a live action movie adaptation in the Japan. The manga follows the story of Daikichi, a 30 year-old bachelor who takes in his deceased Grandfather’s illegitimate 5-year-old daughter. The first volume of this title was fantastic, so I have high hopes for both the film and it’s eventual US release. The story is funny and warm and well written. If an adaptation can keep all that, this will be film well worth getting.

Manga For Your Ears

Sesho’s Anime and Manga Reviews

This Week at Manga Village

What I’m Reading

  • The Color of Water
  • The Color of Heaven

After the Party is Over

Stolen Hearts v1It’s been a few weeks since DC announced the end of CMX Manga, and the mangasphere has had something to say about it, including me. And then there’s been the inevitable analysis of why CMX failed. Some have said it was because they didn’t have a recognizable brand or specific line. Others have said it was because one person was choosing the licenses. Hindsight is 20/20, so it’s easy to try to come up with different reason but were they really the cause?

It’s been suggested that one of the reasons CMX failed was because they couldn’t find an audience. Their licenses were all over the place, from 70’s shojo to senien to horror. There was no focus to titles chosen, and therefore no audience to focus on. Is this really a bad thing though? I thought CMX has a great catalog because of all the variety. You could find something for everyone in it. Something for kids and tween, comedy romance, drama, horror, even historical. Variety is the spice of life! And putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea. Having a diverse catalog is just what a good manga publisher should have. And CMX diversified well. If manga were stocks, any financial advisor would be proud!

It’s also been suggested that because one person, Asako Suzuki, was chosing the licenses for the company, and that she was only choosing titles she liked  but didn’t necessarily sell well. I really can’t agree with this. One person chosing the licenses is probably more the norm than the except with manga publishers. And after one person making decisions, well, look at Kurt Hassler when he was at Borders. He is credited with creating the manga selection at Borders and was at one point called one of the most important/influential people in manga/comics. He chose the titles he liked and thought would sell well. Asako no doubt did the same, and I think she did a good job. I certainly found a lot of her choices good!

King of Card Volume 2So what was it that made CMX fail? It’s been said over and over before, but I’ll say it again. It’s parent company, DC didn’t do anything to market that line. Putting a solicitation in Previews is not marketing. DC claimed they would bridge the manga and comic store gap, yet did nothing to help retailers or promote the books to bloggers, bookstores or librarians, their three strongest avocates. You can’t buy or recommend books you don’t know about. While there were other factors that contributed to its ultimate end, the mishandling of the imprint in its first year, and then being completely ignored for the rest was the main factor in its lack of sales.

And it’s such a shame too, as they were on the verge of releases some really promising titles. Word was getting out to reviewers. They were one of the few active publishers on Twitter interacting with reviewers and fans. If no one can or will rescue these, here are the titles that will never see an official english translation:

  • Nyankoi
  • Shisso Holiday
  • The Phantom Guesthouse
  • Tableau Gate
  • 51 Ways to Save Her
  • Polyphonica: Cardinal Crimson
  • Nadeshiko Club

Even though we mourn the lost, there is still plenty alive to celebrate about. While I’m disappointed some titles may never get finished, I am glad for the ones I have been able to read and review, even for just the first volume. These are the titles I’ve been able to review for far, and will continue to review. As long as there are volumes available somewhere, I will continue to recommend the work, not for DC, but for the staff that really cared and put all their time and effort into getting these titles out for us.

Besides all these titles, some of which I still have volumes left to review, there are still more I haven’t gotten to yet. Key to the Kingdom, Fire Investigator Nanase, Two Flowers for the Dragon, Canon, Kiichi and the Magic Books, Recipe for Gertrude, VS, and Venus Capriccio are all yet to be reviewed. And there’s still more I want to pick up volumes of and read still:

  • Apothecarius Argentum
  • Astral Project – Tsuki no Hikari
  • Ballad of a Shinigami
  • Moon Child
  • Name of the Flower

Are there any other titles I should check out? I know there are. People on Twitter listed off their favorite titles and there were several I’d love to check out, but can’t remember! So, leave me a comment and tell me what other CMX titles I’m missing out on.

My Darling! Miss Bancho Volume 1

Souka and her recently divorced mother are looking for a fresh start, so they move to a new place where no one knows them. Souka embraces the idea of starting over and takes it as an opportunity to leave her private school days behind and enroll in the local tech school. The first day of school is nothing quite like she imagined it would be — she is the only female around! Unfortunately, not everyone welcomes Souka with open arms, including the school leader who tries to ambush her. But when she takes him down in front of everyone, Souka becomes the new school leader!

mydarlingmissbanchoBy Mayu Fujikata
Publisher: CMX Manga
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romance/Comedy
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★★

My Darling! Miss Bancho is a romantic comedy where there’s more comedy than romance going on in this first volume. It’s got a lot going for it with a good cast of characters, cute art, and a just plain fun story.

Souka, the female protagonist, is trying to be a responsible daughter and help her recently divorced mother, by deciding to go to a public technical school, which will cost a lot less than the private high school she had been attending. Even though she researched the schools thoroughly, she didn’t check the student body. The school she choses, Tokugawa Tech turns out to be full of delinquents.

Souka is a strong female lead, just the way I like them to be. She isn’t easily intimidated. She returns to the school even after seeing the delinquent students, and classes ending early on her first day due to fighting. She can certainly hold her own somewhat with the boys, especially in her class, as she has some violent tendencies of her own, though, they only seem to come out when Katou is in trouble. Trying to help him is what gets her into her predicament in the first place.

Katou is a fun male lead and love interest for Souka. He is the leader of Sophomore class and is a tough fighter, even daring to take on the bigger seniors. He’s also very motherly to his fellow classmate. He’s constantly scolding them about their appearance, and fixing their uniforms. He even fixes Souka’s tie on her first real introduction to him. This dichotomy in his character comes across as very funny, as it’s easy to see.

The chapters in this first volume mostly document Souka’s gradual, and accidental take over Tokugawa Tech and then Toyotomi Agricultural. She never means to get involved with the fighting, but a simple iron plate in her book bag, given for her protection, becomes the vehicle to her rise in power. And it’s still funny the second time around, even when you see it coming. Souka is constantly trying to deny her position as bancho, but she does show an affinity for the position, especially in the chapter where they all go to the beach. One of the funnier moments in the title, is how it keeps track of Souka’s growing minions. I really enjoyed those.

The romance takes a backseat throughout the volume to all the comedy about Souka’s new title. There is an attraction between Souka and Katou, but neither of them see it. They both act as if they’re trying to protect each other out of duty or friendship, but the strange feelings Katou gets when Hideyoshi shows an interest in Souka are obviously not based on duty alone. I have to say, I prefer it this way. Their inability to see their romantic potential really suits the characters, and it keeps the romance from getting in the way of the comedy. It actually adds to it, as we the audience see in the Beach chapter that Katou is reacting to Hideyoshi’s advances towards her, while Souka thinks she’s don’t something to make him mad at her.

The art, like the story, is light and fun. All the characters have a cute appearance rather than anyone looking hot. And there are some ugly guys too so far. Some of the characters make funny faces, but it never goes so far as to going chibi.

This first volume of My Darling! Miss Bancho is a great start to what looks to be a fun series. Unfortunately, we will never know, as the second volume was scheduled to come out in July, AFTER DC’s publishing cut off date. It’s a real shame too, since this title was shaping up to be another great tween title, and CMX seemed to be the only publisher to find titles that really appealed to this demographic. This is a title definitely worth a license rescue. Check out volume 1, even if there might not be any hope of a second. The characters and story are a lot of fun, and since the final chapter ends neatly, it will still be a satisfying read.

Why Was This Necessary?


[Contains Spoilers]

In this 7th episode of series 5 of Doctor Who (or series 1 in the UK, season 31 for old school fans), “Amy’s Choice”, the Doctor, Amy and Rory are trapped by a man calling himself the Dream Lord, and gives them a difficult choice; choose the real world. In one world, it is 5 years later, and Rory and Amy are married, living in a quaint country village where Rory is a doctor, and Amy is pregnant. In the other, they are still traveling in the TARDIS. Both face dangerous situations. They must decide which world is the dream and which is reality.

I liked the idea for this episode when it started, with the Doctor going back and visiting an old companion and all. Amy and Rory are living in the English country side in a quiet town. Their home is a quaint stone house with ivy and roses climbing around it, and geese running around in the yard. The scenes in this town had some good moments, including Amy trying to run whild pregnant (something I can relate to), and having old people as the enemy was just awesome. But these moments weren’t enough to balance out the problems I had with it.

The first problem I had with it was that it continues the guilt trip on the Doctor. All through the d11s01e07_wallpaper_02episode, when the Dream Lord appears, he taunts the Doctor about what he does, the companions he chooses, and the effect he has on them. At one point, the Dream Lord taunts that the Doctor doesn’t know who he is. The Doctor responds that he does; he is the one person he hates most in the universe. That is a curious comment if you have been following the series, and seen all the Doctor’s personal enemies knocked off one after another (the Master, Davros, etc). It’s explained at the end, and that explanation just pissed me off. The Doctor is not, and should not be portrayed as someone filled with self-loathing. It’s all just so completely wrong about the character. He can have self-doubts, but in the end he has to be sure he is doing the right thing, otherwise all his journeys in time and space become pointless. I ABSOLUTELY HATE this direction Moffatt has continued the Doctor in.

The other problem I had with this episode became apparent at the end, and related to the title. It came down to Amy to choose which reality was the right one. She made her choice only after Rory “died” in the village world, because she didn’t want a reality where she couldn’t be with Rory. So the whole point of the episode seems to have been to prove to Rory and the audience that Amy really did love Rory. The joy she found with the Doctor and traveling in the TARDIS is purely platonic. Her heart belongs to Rory. Did we really need a whole episode to explain that to us? Really? We’ve already seen that the Doctor and his companions can just be friends. They all aren’t Rose and Martha. We get it. So please stop hitting us over the head with it!

The next two episodes are a two-parter and updates an old enemy from the Classic Series, the Silurians, which hasn’t been seen since the 80’s. An update of them will be very interesting visually with 21st century special effects.

This Week in Manga 5/29-6/4/10


Cons for the Holiday

Two cons ran over the long Memorial Day weekend. Anime North is a Canadian convention, and blogger Lissa Pattillo attended. She has two extensive posts about the con, dealer room, and panels she attended, with a third for the last day possibly on the way. Over on the US west coast was Fanime. Several west coast manga bloggers attended and had a meetup. Deb Aoki has a photo gallery of her three days there. There were no big announcements from either con, but with Anime Expo and San Diego Comic Con coming up in a month, that’s understandable. Still check out the posts for what smaller, reasonable cons are like.

Stretching the Manga Buck

I’ve talked about before several times. It a great site to get remainder books for a decent price. The problem with the site has been that it’s mostly only Tokyopop manga that ‘s been available. Not that I haven’t gotten some good titles at great prices, but some variety would be nice. Blogger Tangogant recently discovered another publisher has joined Tokyopop. Yen Press titles, particularly their Korean manhwa titles have appeared on the site. The books are available at 60% off, which puts the books at $3.99. This is a great deal, and is a great chance to catch up on some of Yen Press’ older titles.

A Tragic Loss

I came home from work Friday to some sad news. UK manga blogger, Tiamat’s Disciple had died. He had been fighting prostate cancer, and finally succum to it Tuesday night. His brother was kind enough to post the news on Tiamat’s blog. It’s always sad to hear of someone’s passing. It’s sadder still when you knew the person. I’d had several interesting conversations with Tiamat, including a debate with him on my own blog over library vs parent responsibility, and on Twitter over both anime and manga. I even spoke him on his last night on Twitter, encouraging him to keep with Macross Frontier, and defending it against his preference to Macross 7. Even though he could sometimes be abrasive, and very opinionated, talking with him was never boring, and I will miss him. Brigid Alverson over at the Manga Blog has a remembrance post which includes information about making donations to the CBLDF in his name as a memorial.

NYT Best Seller List

It’s mixin’ it up again on this week’s list. It’s starts out as usual, with Twilight holding on to the #1 spot on the hardback list. Over on the manga list, one Del Rey’s few continuing titles (or so it seems), Negima! Master Negi Magi vol 26 debuts at #1. Black Butler vol 2 takes a step back one to #2 with Black Bird vol 4 right behind at #3. Naruto vol 47 also holds out at #4, pushing Pandora Hearts vol 2 back to #5, which in turn pushes Black Butler vol 1 back one to #6. Seven Seas makes a surprising appearance with Dance in the Vampire Bund vol 7 at #7, while new CLAMP title Kobato vol 1 rests at #8. Rosario Vampire Season II vol 1 moves up one to #9 and Spice and Wolf manga vol 1 returns to the list at #10.  Yen Press wins the battle for dominance this week, holding 5 of the spots on the list. Viz only hold 3, with two in the top 5. Now to see if Del Rey and Seven Seas can hold spots into next week, with another Naruto volume coming out as well as the last of the One Piece blitz.

Manga to Anime

Kekkaishi on Adult Swim

Cartoon Network and Adult Swim continues it’s on-again, off-again relationship with anime by starting to air Kekkaishi, a series based on a manga that is being released by Viz Media. It’s a kind of odd series to start showing though. The manga has been coming out from Viz since 2005 and other than with bloggers, it hasn’t been a big hit. With the 21st volume coming out this month, will Kekkaishi experience a “Cartoon Network Effect” for earlier volumes? Will anyone be able to find the earlier volumes in bookstores if they wanted?

Bleach on Crunchyroll

Joining older brothers Naruto and One Piece, Bleach will begin to have its latest episodes simulcast on Crunchyroll starting next Tuesday with episode #274. It will be available to premieme subscribers 1 hour after airing in Japan in HD, and a week later in SD for free. It will also be available, not just in the US, but in Central and South America, as well as several European countries. Anime companies must feel that simulcasting is doing something for them as they continue to add titles. Are more people watching them than the fan subs? Does giving the fans what they want actually work?

Manga to Live Action

K-drama of Itazuka no Kiss

Itazuka no Kiss, a shojo manga from the 1990’s is getting the live action drama treatment in Korea, to be aired in the Fall of this year. This manga has a sad history to it, as it was never finished because the manga-ka died in an accident. The manga has been made into a live action series twice, once in Japan, and in Taiwan, and it was animated in 2008. The Korean production will be done by the same people as the adaptation of Boys Over Flowers, so there’s at least some experience with adapting manga. Digital Manga Publishing is currently releasing the manga in the US in an omnibus format, and just released the second volume this month. We really need more K-Dramas/J-Dramas to come out here. They are shorter and have been infinitely more entertaining than US TV lately.

Manga For Your Ears

Manga Out Loud

This Week at Manga Village

What I’m reading

  • Itazuka no Kiss vol 1
  • Color of Earth

Tech Friday: The Tablet Wars Have Begun

asus_tabletThe first shot in the tablet wars began with Apple’s release of the iPad, and technology companies have responded. At Computex, a computer and technology show several companies were showing off new devices, some to be available as early as this Fall.

The big announcement that everyone is touting is from the creator of the netbook, Asus. They announced three tablets.  The Eee Pad will come in two versions. The EP101TC will come with a 10 in screen and the EP121TC will have a 12 in screen. Both devices will be able to playback multimedia, read e-books, browse the web, and with a keyboard can be used as a computer. Asus is promising 10 hours of battery life with these devices. Exact specs or release date haven’t been announced yet.

The Eee Tablet is the Asus e-reader. It uses a reflective LCD screen instead of e-ink, and is in grey scale instead of color. It will include a touch screen and style for note taking. It uses Wacom’s pen input technology for more precise and accurate notes. Asus is aiming this device at students. It will include a webcam, microSD slot and USB slot. It will also have a 10 hour battery life and will be available in the Fall.

MSI is determined to not be left out, and has announced its own tablet, the WindPad 110. This is a 10 in with multimedia in mind. It will have a webcam and HDMI support, as well as USB slots. MSI will have its own UI over Windows 7. No word on battery life or release date.

asus-eee-tabletAlso announced this week, but not at Computex is that Amazon will be releasing a slimmer version of the Kindle, with sharper images and faster page turns, supposedly in response to the iPad. But without a touch screen or color, this seems kind of pointless. The Kindle and iPad are for two different markets. Kindle is for e-reading exclusively, while the iPad is a multimedia device. Amazon is just throwing away money trying to compete with that. But they are doing something right by getting the Kindle into a retail store. Starting on Sunday, Target stores nationwide will be selling the Kindle after a trial program.

And it seems publishers aren’t too thrilled with the Apple/Amazon battle. Both companies want to hold a monopoly on e-books by making them available in formats that only their readers can read. Publishers are coming out and saying they don’t want proprietary formats for their e-books. They want one standard across all platforms. I’m happy to hear this from publishers. Books have always been open and available to everyone. They should remain this way in the digital age as well, not trapped in Apple and Amazon’s walled worlds. Though I do wish they would stop worrying about DRM. Pirates will get around it no matter what they do. Just worry about getting them to people in an easy and legal way, and the pirates won’t be an issue.

Summer of Tokyopop

It’s been tough to be a manga fan lately, with one bad piece of bad news after another, and publishers being yanked out from under us. But there is one company that’s weathered the storm of fans and economy and is slowly, but surely making its way back. Back in 2008, when Tokyopop did their whole restructuring, many doom sayers didn’t they could return to be the company they once where. That part is try, but in a good way, that’s a good thing. Tokyopop before the restructuring was a mess, stretched out too far, and using the “throw it against the wall and see if it sticks” method of licensing.

Pick of the Litter 5But after two years of streamlining, they have been coming back to life as it were, and bringing with it some titles some of the fans never thought we would see again. One of the titles I thought never be finished was Pick of the Litter, a B-grade comedy about cats and an alternate world. I really liked the comedy, but I’m sure it wasn’t a spectacular seller. Still, Tokyopop finished it last month by releasing the last two volumes in an omnibus edition.  Another title that I didn’t think would EVER be completed is B’TX, the title Masami Kurumada did after finishing Saint Seiya. It’s been sitting at 15 of 16 volumes for years! But now there is a solicitation for the final volume to be released in November. It is such a relief to see the light at the end of what was a dark tunnel for so long.

And the titles keep returning! On their twitter feed came this tweet, announcing that Genju no Seiza would be returning with volume 8, which Amazon has scheduled for August. This title by Matsuri Akino is such a good title, that it had to come back! I’m happy to see that Tokyopop agreed. And right behind it you can get Pet Shop of Horrors volume 7 which is scheduled for September. Another title that’s been in limbo but has been getting a lot of talk from bloggers is Gatcha Gacha, which has had its 8th volume scheduled for early November. To find out why, check out Sean Gaffney’s reviews at his blog A Case For Suitable Treatment. There are reviews of the first three volumes, but by November you can bet all 7 available will be there.

I think it is absolutely awesome that Tokyopop is doing its best to bring back these titles, even though most of them were not stellar sellers. Whatever else you say about Tokyopop, they really do care about the fans. The fact that they bringing these titles out really speaks volumes. But for Tokyopop to succeed, they need our help.

TOKYOPOP: @swanjun Yes, it is. However, retailers are lukewarm on supporting it, so please tell all your friends to order it early&often.

While this tweet was directed at Gatcha Gacha, I think it really applies for all these titles. They wouldn’t have been put on hiatus if they didn’t need more support. The best way to do this is by pre-ordering the titles and then telling all your manga friends to pre-order too.  With manga publishers dropping like flies (or so it seems), we as fans should support the ones that continue, especially when they show they are putting out the effort for us. We as fans of the titles should do the same. With all these titles reappearing, it’s like 2010 will be the summer of Tokyopop.

Now if we can just talk them into rescuing some CMX titles. I could see Stolen Hearts, My Darling! Miss Bancho and Nyankoi! fitting into their catalog really well.

Memorial Manga

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

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

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

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

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

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


May Movable Manga Feast

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

Well, That’s a Surprise

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

This Actually Is!

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

Talkin’ ’bout a Solution

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

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

…creator community, rewards to creators from user focus.

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

Back to the Problem

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

NYT Best Seller List

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

News From Japan

More Manga We’ll Never See

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

Manga For Your Ears

Anime Today


Spiraken Manga Review

This Week at Manga Village

What I’ve Been Reading

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

Manga News, Reviews and Commentary