This Week in Manga 2/6-2/12/10

Moveable Manga Feast Moves Out

In a massive collaboration, several blogs have gotten together to review the same book on the same week, as suggested by David Welsh of the Manga Curmudgeon blog.  It kicked off this week, with Sexy Voice and Robo, with new reviews going up every day.  You can find an introduction to the book and all the reviews posted here.  From the long list of reviews, this turned out to be a big success with such a wide breadth of reviews, both good and bad.  This is a shining example of the power of social media.  An idea on Twitter became a week long celebration (or panning) of a title, bringing together the mangasphere.  I just think that’s cool.

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Tech Friday: Like Falling Dominoes

falling_dominos_smallJust days after Amazon conceded to MacMillian’s demands for an agency model for e-book pricing (ie, variable pricing), Robert Murdoch’s Harper Collins started rattling it’s saber that it wanted the same deal.  By the end of the week Hachette had joined Harper Collins.  So like dominoes, the major publishers are falling in line to continue their old publishing strategy of initial high price (hardback), price drop 1 (trade paperback) and price drop 2 (mass market paperback for digital books.  Since Amazon capitulated to MacMillian, they will have to do the same with the publishers.

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Black Jack Volume 6

Revenge and redemption seems to be the theme of this sixth volume of Black Jack. Whether it’s a Mob Boss taking revenge on a prideful and corrupt doctor, or a father and son reconciling during a volcanic eruption, Tezuka explores these issues through Black Jack’s dealings with his patients.

By Osamu Tezuka
Publisher: Vertical Inc.
Age Rating: Teen+
Genre: Medical Drama
Price: $16.95
Rating: ★★★★½
Buy This Book

Revenge can come in may forms.  Whether it’s the traditional “eye for an eye”, or in the name of justice, Black Jack ends up getting involved with people seeking revenge, and the patients often are the true victims.  In “Twice Dead”, Black Jack’s skills are sought to help save a boy just so he can be put on trial for murder.  “Brachydactyl” has a father trying to get revenge on his wife for cheating on him by denying their son the medical treatment he needs.  The ably titled “Revenge” has a Mob Boss punishing a doctor for not letting Black Jack help his son.  It’s Black Jack that administers the finale blow in this story.  “Terror Virus” has Black Jack and his rival Dr. Kiriko working to save men exposed to a biological weapon.  When Black Jack isn’t allowed to finish his work, Kiriko delivers “an eye for an eye” to the men who tried to condemn Black Jack’s patients.  While not commenting on whether revenge is right or wrong, Tezuka does an excellent job of eliciting an emotional reaction from the reader.

Through all this darkness of revenge and retribution there is the light of redemption, though endings are more bittersweet.  In “Brachydactyl”, while the father thought he wanted  revenge, he is given a chance at redemption thanks to an observation by Black Jack.  And in “Amidst Fire and Ash”, Black Jack’s resolve helps a father and son find reconciliation and redemption for the father.  “A Body Turning To Stone” has strong religious overtones to it, especially at the end.  But a father is again giving the chance at redemption with his first born, though the price ends up being higher than he intended.  While the redemption of these fathers with their sons is good to see, not all of the endings are uplifting.  But there is still a feeling of hope at the end that makes the reader feel that maybe the hardships will be worth it.

Throughout this volume of  Black Jack, Tezuka continues his social commentary on the medical community.  Perception is shown to be more valued than skill as Black Jack is denied a license to practice, and even jailed and kept there despite the need of his skills.  Though one again, he refuses a license on principle, and I can’t say I blame him.  There is also a subtle condemnation of experimenting on animals, and not so subtle one of man’s destruction of the environment.

Overall, this is another great collection of stories of the infamous doctor.  The diseases and situations Black jack must face continue to entertain as well as make you think.  There was only one scene that I found disturbing, during an operation, but is was only for one frame and could passed by quickly.  Don’t let the scenes of the operations dissuade you from reading this series.  Tezuka’s comment on the human condition far outweighs his portrayal of the human anatomy.  Don’t pass this series up.  You won’t be disappointed.

Review copy provided by publisher. Image © Vertical Inc.

Manga to Anime: 07-Ghost

Most of the time, when comparing a manga to an anime, the anime takes liberties that can make it less like its source, and often not as good.  07-Ghost is one of those rare exceptions.  The manga started in Japan in 2005 in the magazine Monthly Comic Zero Sum, the same magazine that publishes Saiyuki.  Eight volumes are available  The manga was licensed by Go Comi! here in the states, and there are 4 volumes published.  The anime ran from April to Septermber 2009, and went for 25 episodes.

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This Week in Manga 1/30-2/5/10

One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall

Last Friday night, news started coming in over twitter that Amazon had pulled the buy buttons from all of publisher MacMillian’s books from their website.  The books could only be purchased there from 3rd party sellers, and this was for both print and digital books.  This included all of their imprints such as First Second books, Tor, and Seven Seas Entertainment.  The New York Times then broke the story that Amazon and MacMillian were arguing over Amazon’s $9.99 pricing for e-books.  MacMillian, one of the 5 publishers who had signed on to Apple’s iBooks store with the tiered pricing plan, now wanted Amazon to do the same.  Amazon’s reaction was to pull MacMillian’s books.  You can get a lot of links to reactions here.  By Sunday, Amazon had posted to their blog that they would have to give in to MacMillian’s demands, and as of this writing, the publisher’s books were being made available again.  This has been brewing for quite some time, and it seems only with the advent of the Apple iPad and iBooks store that publishers seem to be embolden enough to push for the tiered pricing.  While the iPad/iBooks is an alternative, I don’t think it’s going to be as definitive as they believe.  But the fact that Amazon has admitted it will cave shows they knew this was inevitable, and held the line as long as they could.  Whether readers will go along is another matter all together.

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Tech Friday: Doing More

Here in the US, we’re all excited about getting more devices to carry around to read books on.  In Japan, they’re taking existing devices that people are already carrying and adapting them to not just read books but to also enhance that reading experience.  They are letting the content take advantage of the platform instead of making devices to conform to the content.

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Review: The Lizard Prince Volume 1

Lizard Prince 1
The Lizard Prince Volume 1
By Asuka Izumi
Publisher: CMX
Age Rating: Everyone
Genre: Romance/Fantasy/Comedy
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★☆

Canary is the princess of the kingdom of Linaria.  Her father, the king has promised her hand in marriage to Heath, the handsome prince of the kingdom of Gazania.  Canary isn’t crazy about this, because Heath has a bad reputation.  The Prince has his own reservations, and gets his brother Sienna to pose as him on their first date, convinced he’ll drive her away.  But the plan backfires when chemistry ignites between the two.  The only problem is, Sienna’s been under a spell, which turned him into a lizard.  And once he’s done posing as his brother, he reverts back to that form!  Will love really conquer all in this mixed up triangle?

The Lizard Prince is a fairy tale turned quirky romance.  It starts out much like the Frog Prince, but is able to transform itself into a funny and charming romance with wide spread appeal.

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20th Century Boys Volume 7

Out in the middle of Tokyo Bay, a man called Shogun is trying to break out of Umihotaru Prison, a maximum-security island fortress, so he can save the world. Accompanied by a frightened young manga artist, these two men are prepared to risk everything as their daring escape plan grows deadlier by the minute. However, the prison authorities will do whatever it takes to return Shogun and his reluctant companion to custody.

Shogun’s ultimate goal: Tokyo, where a girl he calls the “final hope” lives, but a murder in Kabuki-cho has triggered a chain reaction of terror. Can Shogun reveal the truth about the false peace created by the Friends? And what are the facts behind the disaster that took place in the final moments of the 20th century?!

20th Century Boys 7
20th Century Boys Volume 7
By Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen Plus
Genre: Drama/Mystery
Price: $12.99
Rating: ★★★★☆

 

What happened December 31, 1999?  The events of that night start to unfold as both Shogun and Kami tell the tale to two young people who want to know the truth.  But will learning these facts bring us any closer to the truth?  Once again, Urasawa poses more questions than he answers in this volume.  Why are the Friends rebuilding the 1970 Exhibition?  What exactly happened on December 31, 1999?  Even as we delve further into those events, answers are not forthcoming.

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This Week in Manga 1/23-1/29/10

But Is It Contagious?

Love to love it, or love to hate it, the release of the Twilight manga is eminent. Manga fans have been expressing (mostly) their disdain for the series and a NIBY attitude about it.  Shaenon Garrity, a respected writer about manga points out that the themes in Twilight are nothing new.  In fact, the themes in Twilight are not only prevalent in shojo, a lot of it has been done before!  So quit whining about it.  In the end, it’ll do more good than harm.  Someone needs to be able to challenge Viz, and right now, it seems like Yen Press’ adaptations are the only ones with the steam power.  See the NYT Bestseller List below.

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And So It Begins

Late Friday night, reports started coming in about a dispute between Amazon and publisher MacMillian.  According to the New York Times, Amazon has “temporarily” pulled all books by MacMillian, including all imprints such as First Second, Seven Seas Entertainment, and Tor, because MacMillian is pushing for a raise in price of their e-book on the Kindle to $15.  The grousing between Amazon and publishers has been going on for a while now, so that this has finally happened is no surprise.  Nor is it a surprise that it happens right after Apple announced it’s iPad, which MacMillian is one of the publishers that signed on to provide books for.

To get a full range of the story, he’s some links to check out.

Johanna Draper Carlson posts about it at Comics Worth Reading.  Check out the comments for interesting information on the breakdown of who gets what in the publishing pie.

Business Insider has a look at the dispute from the Apple side of the equation.

Cory Doctorow, a big proponent of e-books, has his own take at BoingBoing.  Definitely check out his post for how the whole battle affects consumers.  He’s got some really interesting insights.

The Los Angeles Times has some quotes from publishers about Amazon’s pricing, basically defending MacMillian.

Back at the New York Times, their technology blog Bits has more details on the dispute between Amazon and MacMillian, getting the heart of the problem.

Edit: As the weekend has gone on, more people have been speaking out about this, including authors.  Here are two takes on the supply chain issue that really put the whole pricing of e-books into perspective.  If you really want to understand this issue, read Charlie Stross‘ and Tobias Buckell’s posts for detailed insights.

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