More Stone Than Flesh

[Contains Spoilers]

dw_forest_7_with_pp024_v3“Flesh and Stone”, the second part of the two-part story by Steven Moffat featuring his Weeping Angels wasn’t all I was hoping it would be. I do believe this is the first time that I wasn’t excited about a Steven Moffat two-parter. Some setups from the first part just didn’t pan out, and while we did finally get some Weeping Angel action, it wasn’t enough to save the episode. And the ending, that was just wrong. But I am really starting to like Matt Smith’s interpretation of the Doctor with this incarnation.

First, let’s get the not-so-good stuff out of the way. I was really hoping for more from the whole “eyes are not a window, but a door” set-up from the first part, but it just turned out to be a way to torture Amy and get the Doctor really mad, because Amy is being tortured. Another I really didn’t like was the retconning of the Angels to make this “eyes are a door” thing work. Amy wasn’t supposed to look in the eyes of an Angel, or else it gets stuck in there visual cortex, giving the angel the power to take her over and kill her. So, what about Sally Sparrow and all the times she stared at an Angel? Are they just going to say it was never in the eyes? Right…cause that’s not the first place you’re drawn too, espcially with pupil-less eyes. I know torturing the companion is right for writers on Doctor Who, it just didn’t pan out this time for me.

d11s01e05_wallpaper_30The Angels started on the move, and started to look more like their old selves, but it wasn’t until at least the middle, maybe more into the third act before they really started acting like the angels from Blink. Their best moment was when Amy had to walk past them and make them think she could see. The moments of the camera hitting the Angel, then away, then back to the angel, then away, and then the angel’s head moved, that was what I wanted to see more of. That’s what makes the Weeping Angels scary, the fact that you never know when they are going to move. There were some flashing lights with them moving in the darkness as well, but forest scenes were the best.

Even though we’ve seen glimpses of the Doctor’s temper in “The Beast Below”,  this episode shows just how angry he can get. It’s not the “I’m superior to you, so why are you all so stupid?!” kind of anger as the 6th Doctor portrayed. It’s more of a rage that runs underneath and then bubbles to the surface. It’s his most human quality in this regeneration. He gets angry, not when people are doing stupid things (he expects that I think from humans), but when he is stuck in a situation that he can’t immediately find an answer to. In this episode, it’s trying to save Amy from the Weeping Angels. The more impossible it seems, the more angry he gets. I think this is a very interesting aspect to the Doctor we haven’t seen. We’ve seen him as crotchety, as in the 1st and 5th Doctors, the 3rd and 6th were more superiority complexes, but for the 11th, there are some real anger management issues that may need to be addressed.

And the end of this episode, was just so unnecessary. I had more respect for Amy before she tried to jump the Doctor’s bones. While she’s not as bad as Rose or Martha, and I can see where Moffat is coming from in writing the scene, I just really didn’t care for it. I’d really like for the Doctor and Amy to stay as platonic friends, and not become a one-night stand just because Amy had a bad day or is on a time-traveling bachelorette party. Good reaction from the Doctor though.

Next episode is a location shot on Venice, with a new monster to face. While vampires aren’t new, hopefully this version will be.

Rin-Ne Volume 4

This volume starts off with a new arc about Rinne’s family, specifically his father. The truth behind Rinne’s constant debt is revealed, as is more about the criminal shinigami organization, the Damashigami, and Rinne’s connection to it. And there’s some tidbits thrown out about Rinne’s and Sakura’s relationship, and for once, it’s not what you’d expect from Takahashi.

By Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Supernatural/Comedy
Price: $9.99/Free Online (Chapters 29-38)
Rating: ★★★★☆

I’ve been disappointed by the previous volumes of Rin-Ne so far. It’s been so much “been there, done that,” but this volume is different. The quality went up for the chapters covered in this volume, to what I expect from a Takahashi series.  The weak start made getting this far difficult, but I’m glad I waited it out.

This volume introduces Rinne’s father, Sabato Rokudo. He is key to a lot of the problems in Rinne’s life, specifically his debt and the Damashigami.  Sabato is a dead beat dad in every since of the word. He left Rinne with his parents after his wife (Rinne’s mom) disappeared. He is constantly withdrawing money from Rinne’s bank account using a forged stamp. He’s unlike any dad seen so far in a Takahashi series. None of them have ever been this bad. Genma and Ranma always fought, but there was still a feeling that Genma cared about Ranma. Inuyasha’s father left a legacy to his half-demon son so he could survive as well. Sabato doesn’t seem to care about Rinne except how he can use him to his own benefit. Conflict between fathers and sons are nothing new, but the level of animosity introduced between Rinne and Sabato is. One thing that is still cliche for a Takahashi series is Rinne’s mother “disappearing”. She did it Ranma 1/2, and I’m just waiting for something similar to happen again here.

The truth about the Damashigami is revealed in this volume as well. Rinne finds out he’s connected to them in a way he never would have expected, and it just makes him all the more determined to stop the organization. I’m looking forward to more confrontations with the Damashigami. The battles that were seen in this volume reminded me why I enjoy her titles so much. It’s the action and fighting that she does so well. They are imaginative and fun, and it’s what this series has been lacking. So I hope there’s more to come.

There’s also an interesting twist in the relationship between Rinne and Sakura that is shown in this volume. For once, it’s not the girl chasing after the uninterested guy. Rinne is shown to be the one developing feelings for Sakura, while she just thinks of them as friends. She’s not falling for him at all. I think this is a great change from all the girls-chasing-guys that always shows up in shonen titles, and might make the series more interesting to follow.

This volume of Rin-Ne turned out to be surprisingly strong. It had a lot of good action and fighting sequences, as can be expected from a Takahashi series. Sabato is incredibly annoying. I really disliked him, but that’s what makes him a good antagonist. I want to see Rinne beat him now. If Rin-Ne can keep this moment going, then it will turn out to be a really good series. The potential from the beginning is finally starting to pay off. I just wish it hadn’t taken so long to get here.

He IS the Doctor

11 DoctorAfter a year of specials that were more forgettable than not, it was nice to get a regular season of Doctor Who back.  Like the producers that came before him, Steven Moffat has started the 11th Doctor off with a fairly clean slate. New Doctor, new TARDIS, new companion and new adventure, “Eleventh Hour”.

This first episode played out much like a typical regeneration story, with the Doctor off kilter for most of it, as he gets his bearings on himself and then the situation. I have to say I had some mixed feelings about this episode. I miss the old orchestrated opening. The new one isn’t bad, it’s just that 3rd-4th series opening was better. I do like the new TARDIS interior, and new companion Amy Pond does get my approval. I particularly enjoyed the beginning with Amy as a child. Her interactions with the Doctor were great! I’m not to sure about the “Doctor’s Perspective” they presented with all the near stop-motion cam. It was interesting for the reboot, but I’m glad they haven’t used it since.

11_and_Amy_eatThe scene that not only made this episode, but cemented Matt Smith’s position as the Doctor was a the end, as he was choosing his new costume. It wasn’t from the TARDIS’ wardrobe this time, which is a departure from tradition. But it does suit him quite nicely. A lot of people had doubts about Matt Smith, since he’s the youngest actor to play him yet. But a lot of people had doubts about Peter Davison, and he turned out to be my favorite, so I wasn’t worried. Steven Moffat chose him, and he hadn’t steered me wrong yet, so “In Moffat I Trusted”.  And my trust was proven well placed. In the scene on top the hospital’s roof near the end, as the Doctor explains why the Atraxi should leave earth, there is a projection of the last 10 Doctors with Matt Smith walking through the 10th Doctor’s face to reveal this new look complete. It was his declaration that HE is the Doctor now. It was a fantastic moment! And after a year of doom and gloom with the 10th Doctor, it was great to have a triumphant moment like that again.

Honey Hunt Volume 4

As Yura continues her foray into the glamorous world of acting, she’s starting to learn that success is often marred with setbacks and compromises. Although she fails to land the lead role in a new drama penned by famous screenwriter Maki Todo, she does succeed in getting offered the part of the heroine’s friend. However, her boss Keiichi cautions Yura that her increasing popularity will result in greater scrutiny of her private life by the paparazzi. Can Yura continue growing as an actress while keeping her budding relationships with Q-ta and Haruka in check?

Honey Hunt v4By Miki Aihara
Publisher: Viz Media/Shojo Beat
Age Rating: Teen+
Genre: Romance/Drama
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★½☆☆
Buy This Book

The short answer? No. When I started reading Honey Hunt in Shojo Beat magazine, I thought it had a lot of potential. I really enjoyed the first 2 1/2 volumes. They concentrated on the building of Yura’s career and her confidence as an actress, with just bits of budding relationships thrown in here and there. Volume 4 reverses that trend, and not in a good way.

Yura seemed to be on track to start her career. She showed she had guts by telling her parents off on TV, and then decided to be an actress herself despite her shy personality and the sheltered life she lived until then. She had shown she had talent and got the gig to start in a series of ramen noodle commercials. She was finally starting to go somewhere. At the start of this volume, the commercials were successful, and her face was starting to be seen everywhere. She auditioned for a part on a prime time TV drama, and even though she didn’t get the lead, she did get a part, and it’s soon to premiere.

But instead of continuing on the strong career story line, this volume careers off into the relationships with twin bothers Q-ta and Haruka, and then, just for good measure, and because a love triangle isn’t enough, Yura’s boss, Keiichi, is introduced as a possible love interest.  Huh? This comes out of absolutely nowhere. Every scene we’ve seen with Keiichi, is him pushing Yura to concentrate on building her career, but with a few panels, it all gets twisted around, and made to look like his interference with her relationships with the twins is personal. It makes what he’s done seem like petty jealousy. I really didn’t like this twist on Keiichi. He really didn’t deserve it. I became interested in this title to see Yura best her mother, not to her fall for every guy that comes around and visa-versa.

And Yura shows herself to be pretty dumb. This disappoints me too, since I thought she was smart. She gives up her chance to have her first “family” celebration while watching her debut on the prime time TV drama to run off and be with Q-ta, and she lies to do it. Sure, you can chalk it up to her sheltered upbringing, and being naive, but is she serious about her career or just having a boyfriend? I’m getting to like Yura less and less.

I did like the bonus chapter at the end that was the first episode of the drama. In a manga all about making TV shows with scripts and rehearsals that we only get glimpses of, it’s nice to be able to actually see the full story. Aihara’s art has a rather distinct style.  It’s clean and simple. It also appears to be more refined from her previous series Hot Gimmick. I enjoy it more.

Honey Hunt was on a good track, but if it continues in a direction that emphasizes Yura’s relationships over her career, then I’m not interested. She needs to smarten up and fly right, because I want to see her show up her mother on the stage, and not in the bedroom.

Review copy provided by publsher. Images © Viz Media

This Week in Manga 4/24-4/30/10


April’s Movable Manga Feast

The third edition of the Movable Manga Feast began this week, with Ed Sizemore of Manga Worth Reading taking over the hosting duties. The series this time is Mushishi published by Del Rey Manga. An introduction to the series can be found here, while the full list of participates can be found here. The Feast lasts until Sunday, so keep watching for more posts on the series.  I made my first contribution to the MMF with this series, which you can read here. If you have had any interest in this series, definitely check out some of the perspectives on it. You might be surprised.

How Much would you Pay?

Last week Yen Press announced they would be publishing Yen Plus as a digital magazine. This week Deb Aoki of Manga.About.Com has a poll asking how much would you pay for an online anthology. The results so far aren’t too surprising. I myself wouldn’t pay more than $5 for an online magazine the size of Yen Plus since I don’t enjoy reading manga online. I need it to be portable and an e-reader or tablet isn’t in my future anytime soon. What this poll does show is summed up pretty well by a comment made by David Welsh (@mangacur) on Twitter:

Just that manga purchasers seem kind of like public radio members these days. They opt to pay.

And just like public radio, it’s too bad more people don’t opt to pay as enjoy the content.

Chibi Vampire: Axis Powers

Tokyopop has been putting their Facebook page to use by announcing new licenses on it first.  Last week came word of a new Chibi Vampire (Karin) volume called Airmail, that is comprised of short stories published after the main series ended. It will include side stories about the main characters as well as stories about some that were never seen. This week finally comes the announcement every has suspected but hadn’t been able to confirm.  Tokyopop will be publishing the Hetalia: Axis Powers manga. Hints have been coming from the publisher for a while now, but it was made official on Friday.

Go Comi! Forums Down…But Are They Out?

Go Comi! is a publisher that a lot of people have worried about lately. They’ve been quiet, maybe too quiet. Kate Dacey of The Manga Critic caught on Twitter that their forums are down. This isn’t a good sign. Their blog has been silent since the fall, and their twitter account hasn’t seen an update since February. The forums was the last place we heard anything from the publisher and with it gone…maybe that ad a few weeks ago for a manga publisher for sale was Go Comi! I do hope it isn’t. They have some good titles that many would like to see finished.

NY Times Best Seller List

The balance of power shifts once more with new releases from Yen Press on this week’s list. First, let’s check on Twilight. Still #1 on the Hardback list? No?? The Hardback of Kick Ass, which debuted in theaters recently, has taken #1, relegating Twilight to #2. The Paperback list has another movie related title at #1 with Losers. Comics do benefit from movie tie-ins. We’ll see how long it lasts.  Over in manga land, #1 belongs to Rosario Vampire Season II vol 1 once again. Yotsuba& vol 8 debuts at #2, sending Naruto vol 47 back one to #3. Spice and Wolf  vol 1 also debuts at #4, and Black Butler vol 1 move up one to #5. Gentlemen’s Alliance Cross vol 11 falls three to #6 as does Yu-Gi-Oh! R vol 4 to #7. Nightschool vol 3 debuts at #8, Alice in the Country of Hearts vol 1 returns once again to #9 and Soul Eater vol 2 falls back one to #10. It’s quite a respectable showing for Yen Press, with 3 debuts, including an OEL title that not based on a novel series.  They dominate with 5/10, and three of those being in the top 5.

Manga For Your Ears

Sci-Guys Podcast

  • Episode 20 – 27:43 – Twin Spica/Vampire Hunter D on the PSP

This Week at Manga Village

What I’m Reading

  • Black Bird vol 3
  • Black Bird vol 4
  • Goong vol 2
  • Goong vol 3

Japanese Journal: Change of Plan

SmartfmSome changes in RL has forced me to re-evaluate my Japanese studies. In other words, I have too many other things to keep up the pace I started last month. It hit me that had to come up with another plan when it was almost half way through the month and I hadn’t done anything to complete my kana studies.  So, I did what any other sane person would do. I went online to find something more structured, and joined I’ve head about this site for while, but my lack of progress convinced me that it might not be a bad idea to check them out.  And, they’re actually not too bad. I’ve started my first goal, which is of course, Mastering Hiragana.  This goal is a better way to learn the kana, because it not only takes you through the hiragana, it has audio, shows you the proper strokes for writing it, and has a typing of the romanji on the keyboard.  And it doesn’t go in order, like I was doing with my memorizing. This has been really helpful in teaching me to identify characters faster. It quizzes with multiple choice and by having you type the romanji. If you mess up, it takes you back to study the kana and then throws it back into the mix, quizzing you again until you get it right. I recommend checking out this site and goal.

So what have I been doing instead? Well, you might notice some changes to the blog. This is something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while, and I just sat down and did it finally.  I chose this theme so I could start to accommodate writing about more than just manga.  Manga will always be the focus of this blog, and will always be the featured article, but I wanted to be able to write about some of my other interested too, such as TV and books.  Manga updates and reviews will continue to be Mon-Wed-Fri-Wknd and and other interests will be on Tues-Thurs.  I just couldn’t keep up two blogs.  Right know you’ll notice a lot of Doctor Who posts.  I’m catching up and will then stay up-to-date through the end of the series. I hope if you share some of my other interests, you’ll enjoy these posts too.  But don’t worry, manga will stay my main focus. The pile of books next to my desk demand that it be so!

So, I’d love to hear what you think about the changes, the non-manga posts, and I’ll try to be more on the ball with the Japanese. Though, it might be more lucrative for me career-wise to start learning Mandarin Chinese.

This River Isn’t Flowing For Me

Doctor Who Time of Angels 2“Time of the Angels”, the 4th episode of the new series of Doctor Who brings back one of my personal favorites of the new monsters; the Weeping Angels.  In the episode “Blink” from the 3rd Series with the 10th Doctor and Martha Jones, Steven Moffat introduced these eerie beings that move in an instant, but quantum lock when they are looked at by a sentient being.  “Blink” was such an awesome episode, that we were all dying for their return.  And they do, but with some missteps.

The biggest misstep for me is the return of River Song.  In “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead”, River was a great character.  She knew the Doctor and had a journal of her adventures with her even through he didn’t know her.  “Forest of the Dead” was her last.  In “Time of the Angels”, she’s back as a past incarnation of herself.  And this past River is really obnoxious.  She’s brash, and very forward with the Doctor.  Yes, I know they were married, and he’s trusted her some really important things (like his name), but seeing her in this episode really makes you wonder what he saw in her.

Doctor Who RiverI know Moffat has a plan for River and the Doctor, and we will no doubt she her again.  In SitL, River mentioned several adventures that it turns out Moffat has all planned out, and this story is the first of those mentioned.  I just hope it’s not this incarnation again.  It’s almost like she’s a Time Lord that doesn’t change appearance, only personality.  And it really bugged me that she had that journal.  Sometimes I don’t deal too well with all the “timey-wimey” stuff, and all this with River and her journal just makes my head hurt.  I could handle Blink because I could see the progression from beginning to end.  This whole thing with River having all the Doctor’s future in a journal that he can’t see while she gets to jump around his lives like nothing’s different from one to another?  I don’t like it.

I’m really looking forward to the next episode, and hope we get a lot more Weeping Angel action.  They’re who I really want to see more than River Song.  And Moffat better have something good set up with the “eyes aren’t the windows to the soul, they are the door” thing, or I’ll be really disappointed.

Review: The World I Create Volume 1

Being a “Projectionist” can bring lots of money and fame, but only if you are good at it. If you want o become one, first you need to have the power to cast a four-dimensional image. The it is really important to be able to hone and perfect you projecting abilities. The best place to do that, of course, is at a high school filled with other aspiring projectionists. Step into this multi-dimensional world with a very special student body and see how each student deals with his or her special gifts!

World I Create v1By Ayami Kazama
Publisher: CMX
Age Rating: Everyone
Genre: Romance/Fantasy
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Buy This Book

It’s an interesting world that is created in The World I Create, where completely realistic “projections” are created for entertainment.  It’s a lot of hard work, and can be very rewarding.  In this volume, we are introduced to 8 students, all attending school to learn to perfect their abilities.  The all have different reasons for wanting to be a projectionist, but in the end this title just doesn’t distinguish itself well enough from other rom-com titles.

The first volume is comprised of 4 stories that feature two characters each it. It’s usually a boy and girl, and they are all from different grades in the school.  All have different motivations (or none at all) to be Projectionists.  The first story is about a boy and girl who keep failing their first year final and must work together to get a passing grade. The second is about a boy who calibrates other student’s lanterns, and a prodigy girl who only has one projection left in her. The third story is about a boy of meager means who accidentally angers a girl with height issues, who then tries to sabotage his tests.  The last story is about a boy who hates projectionists, and must come to terms with his female best friend becoming one.  Each story is self-contained, though characters from the other stories can make cameo appearances.

Overall, I enjoyed this first volume.  The characters are well developed and each couple compliments each other.  They are different from one another, but not so much that they can’t get along. And none of the main characters are annoying or dumber than bricks. My favorite story of the four was the second one with Akitsu the lantern cleaner and upperclassman Kawanami, the prodigy with only one projection left in her.  Akitsu is quiet and reserved, while Kawanami is more outgoing.  Their story is touching, and while it’s kind of a sad ending, it’s a good kind of sad.

While there’s nothing really bad about this volume, the characters are well written and stories are competent enough, there’s really nothing great about them either.  Nothing about this title really inspired me or got me excited to read more.  It was entertaining and I don’t regret the time I spent with it, it just isn’t a memorable read.  There’s nothing remarkable about the art either.  It’s decent enough, but also very standard.

The World I Create is still a good title, and I would recommend it for the tween-to-teen crowd.  The stories aren’t too complex or overwrought with melodrama.  This title would make a great addition to an elementary and/or middle school library, where the readers may get more out of it that I did.  This isn’t a title that should be passed up.  It has some good stories to tell, just don’t expect to be wowed.

Review copy provided by publisher. Image © CMX Manga

She’s Got Some Guts!

Doctor Who Beast Below“The Beast Below”, the second episode of the new Doctor Who series is one that takes the Doctor and Amy to the far future, where humanity has been forced to leave the Earth, and whole countries become space ships searching for a new home.  Of course, they land on Britain’s ship, where the Doctor immediately pulls Amy into mystery and adventure in an underworld that is dark in more ways than one.

This episode is a good example of why I enjoy Steven Moffat’s writing style so much.  He throws the characters into an unknown situation, usually with a dark or menacing feel to it, but is able to turn it around at the end, and it doesn’t feel forced.  There is a dark secret on Starship UK, one that keeps the people in check with creepy Smiler enforcers, and in blissful ignorance.  I won’t say anymore, as I try to keep these impressions as spoiler free as possible, but suffice to say, it’s a national shame, all the more because it didn’t have to be that way.

Doctor Who SmilerAmy really shines in this episode, as she first tries to save the Doctor from the truth, and then later saves him from making the biggest mistake of his life.  Even though she’s good in the first episode, it’s in this episode that she proves she’ll be a great companion.  She’s smart and sassy, and is willing to stand up to the Doctor when necessary to tell him he’s wrong.  Or in this episode’s case, shows him since he won’t listen. She seems to have a knack for putting pieces of information together. Pieces the Doctor misses, mostly because they have to do with him, and only an outsider could put the pieces together. This episode is an affirmation as to why the Doctor needs a companion. And best of all, there’s not any “lovey-dovey” stuff developing between them! That’s the worse thing one can do to a companion.  They may feel something for the Doctor.  It’s hard not to love him for all his quirks and arrogance, but please spare us the meaningful looks.

Overall this was a strong second shot for the season, boding well for Moffat’s inaugural series.

Manga Movable Feast: Mushishi Volume 1

Some live in the deep darkness behind your eyelids. Some eat silence. Some thoughtlessly kill. Some simply drive men mad. Shortly after life emerged from the primordial ooze, these deadly creatures, mushi, came into terrifying being. And they still exist and wreak havoc in the world today. Ginko, a young man with a sardonic smile, has the knowledge and skill to save those plagued by mushi…perhaps.

Mushishi v1By Yuki Urushibara
Publsiher: Del Rey Manga
Age Rating: 16+
Genre: Drama
Price: $12.95
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy This Book

The back cover text make this book sound more sinister than it actually is. This first volume introduces the concept of the mushi, and the man we will follow who has the arcane knowledge to deal with them, Ginko, the Mushishi. Through a series of episodic stories, we see how mushi and men can interact, and how Mushishi bridge the gap and try to foster understanding between them.

Ginko is a wandering Mushishi. He studies and tries to understand mushi. He is often called to a village that needs his expertise, but can also stumble upon people in need of help, even if they don’t realize it themselves. Strange and ancient, mushi are not actually malicious, but like so many other creatures, they can be parasitic. But because they are so strange and mysterious, their work is often mistaken as the supernatural. Mushishi know the signs and diagnose the problem, almost like a doctor. Ginko, like the mushi he studies, is also a bit of a mystery. Little is given away about him, except for the clues that wherever he goes, mushi react to his presence, and the cigarettes he smokes aren’t filled with nicotine, but a special mushi that can trap other mushi or drive them away. He’s also missing an eye, and perhaps has just a little too much knowledge about the source of life, something mushi are closer to than humans.

What makes Mushishi an interesting series is that the focus isn’t solely on Ginko. The mushi get quite a bit as well.  As Ginko identifies the mushi that is the cause of each problem, he also explains about them, though it never feels like a lecture. Mushi are so strange and different, it’s interesting to find out about them, both to the characters and to the reader.  While they are often portrayed as being parasytes that can take a person’s sight, hearing, or even their life, not all are like that.  In a few instances, mushi are shown to have a sentience, that can lure humans in to turn them into mushi, or can show emotion, as in the story of “The Traveling Bog.” A mushi that is making it’s last journey home to die, saves a girl who was sacrificed to a Water God to save the village.

Mushishi is a very well written series.  It’s easy to get drawn into the stories and it’s open world. We only see Ginko as he travels in the wild, going from village to village.  There are no big cities, and while everyone is dressed in traditional kimonos, Ginko has a more western style.  By keeping the setting of the series open, Urushibara gives herself a lot of leeway with her stories. The mushi are very diverse and interesting, though at times, their expulsion can be a little disturbing.  The enigma of Ginko is another draw. We know little of him beyond him being a Mushishi. An interesting story seems to be waiting behind that.

The art is drawn realistically, with none of the manga trappings.  No one makes goofy faces or goes chibi.  It’s an understated style without a lot of detail.  Like the stories, it is simple and straightforward, and at times rather dark.  Mushishi is a slow paced series.  There are no fights against the mushi, and no melodramatic relationships.  It’s more about thinking things through and solving the puzzle of the mushi.  Brains are more important than brawn, and at times it can be rather contemplative.  It’s a great change of pace.

This Week in Manga 4/17-4/23/10


Who’s Going Down?

ICv2 reports that manga sales will drop to below 1000 volumes for 2010.  The drop in sales was seen more in bookstores than in the direct market, and they speculate that shojo fans getting older, distracted by other things (Twilight) and lack of hit shonen anime is hurting sales more than scanlations.  Some of these elements make sense.  I can see the drop in sales from bookstores being more, since ordering through the direct market through Previews can often net you a 30% discount on many titles.  It’s my preferred way to buy.  And fans, male or female, have priorities shifts as they get older, especially in the 20’s, where kids become adults and must establish themselves in the real world.  I know that’s where I stopped collecting comics and watching anime.  Work and starting a family became much more important.  I wonder though how much the “Cartoon Network” effect really drove sales.  I can see it driving the sales for first volumes, but like the anime that they are based on them, once a series hits a lather, rinse, repeat cycle, no amount of TV promotion will keep a series selling.  Personally, I’m not concerned about the drop in available volumes.  There was too much coming out in 2007, and most of it was mediocre.  We’re just seeing the reaction to that as fans put their money with the good series.  I am concerned about some of the mid-level publishers who have gone silent.  They provide a good alternative to all the mega long, mega his titles.  I hope they can weather this economic storm.

Don’t Hold Your Breath

C2E2, a new comics and entertaiment convention in Chicago was this last weekend.  There weren’t any manga panels, but Brigid Alverson caught up with Dark Horse comics and asked about the CLAMP Mangaettes that were announced at SDCC 2007, and have yet to materialize.  The word?  They are “on hold”, while Dark Horse builds up their association with CLAMP through reprints of several of their older titles.    So if you were hoping for some new CLAMP, you’ll have to go elsewhere.  You won’t find it at Dark Horse any time soon.

Yen Plus Goes Paperless

Found via Twitter.  Yen Press announced it first through its twitter feed.  Yen Plus, their anthology magazine would be going digital.  Details are still sketchy, but the gist of it is that the last print issue of the magazine will come out in July, and then go to a digital distribution.  Current subscriptions to the print will be refunded, but there’s speculation that digital version will require a subscription, and not be free like the Viz Signature line from Ikki Comix.  This is an understandable move by Yen Press.  Manga magazines are more about promotion than making money, and going digital takes out a lot of the risk.  But I’m with a lot of the commentors on the blog post.  I prefer to read on paper than digital.  Digital just isn’t portable enough yet.  I can pick up a magazine and take it anywhere to read.  A digital version will need a device to read it on, and could greatly limit the audience that can read it.  We’ll just have to wait for more details.

More Scanlations on the iPhone/iPad

With the release of the iPad, software like Manga Rock is getting more and more attention.  This software for the iPhone/iTouch (and by default, the iPad), let’s you not only read scanlations from, it keeps track of what your reading, where you left off, and let’s you download it to read later.  This isn’t the first app to appear on the Apps store as both Jason Thompson and Brigid Alverson have pointed out, and probably won’t be the last.  Publishers (US and Japanese) have to come to terms about digital distribution and get their official work out at reasonable prices before these apps become too entrenched.  One interesting thing I noticed about this Manga Rock app though.  It doesn’t allow access to some of the bigger release titles.  Commentors on the iTunes store have mentioned that there’s no Naruto or Bleach or Shaman King.  That makes me wonder.  Are these guys blocking licensed manga, or are the more popular manga reserved for the paid, “full version” of the app?  Any one with an iPhone/iTouch/iPad wanna drop the $1.99 to find out?

NYT Best Seller List

I didn’t think it would last.  Last week the list was dominated by One PieceThis week, nary a sign of the Straw Hat Pirates. Not one volume survived.  Oh well.  Let’s check in on Twilight.  Still #1 on the Hardback Comics list?  Yup.  There’s at least one thing you can count on.  Another? That Viz will hold the top five, starting with Rosario Vampire Season II vol 1 at #1 again.  Naruto vol 47 retakes it’s #2 spot, and Gentleman’s Alliance Cross vol 11 moves up to #3, while Yu-Gi-Oh! R vol 4 falls back two to #4.  New Viz Signature title Dogs vol 3 debuts at #5, while Black Butler vol 1 moves back up to #6.  Inuyasha vol 47 debuts at #7, and Vampire Knight vol 9 returns at #8.  The only other non-Viz title, Soul Eater vol 2 returns at #9, and Bleach vol 30 rounds things out at #10.  Viz still dominates the list with 8/10 titles, but it’s not too surprising that it was a Yen Press title that helped keep them from taking the 9th again.  Yen doesn’t have the behemoth catalog that Viz does, but it’s got some titles with sticking power.

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Sesho’s Anime and Manga Reviews

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  • Legend of the Five Rings: The Crane Scroll 3
  • Mushishi Vol 1

Review: Olympians: Zeus: King of the Gods

Zeus CoverHere’s where it all starts: the beginning of the everything–the world, the gods, and even humanity.  Mighty Kronos, the most terrifying of all the Titans, reigns as the unchallenged tyrant of the cosmos… until his son, the god Zeus, stands up and takes on his own father in a battle intense enough to shatter the universe! Who will emerge triumphant?

By George O’Connor
Publisher: First Second
Age Rating: All Ages
Genre: Action/Mythology
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★★
Buy This Book

A recent re-watching of the classic Clash of the Titans has inspired me to write this review.  I’ve been in love with mythology since I was first introduced to the Greek myths in the 5th Grade.  They were my gateway to other mythologies, such as Norse and Egyptian.  Now, the Greek myths are getting a face lift of sorts.  They are being retold in the way they were meant to be told; as tales of action and adventure, with monsters to be fought and maidens to be rescued.  Zeus: King of the Gods tells the tale of not just Zeus’ beginnings, but also of the world and the Olympian gods themselves.

The Greek gods are like the original superheroes.  They possess super powers such as invulnerability and the ability to transform, and yet were just as fallible as the humans they ruled.  They suffer from all the same emotions and faults that humans do.  When he is first introduced, Zeus is shown to be just as active and full of energy as any youth in his prime would be.  He is impatient, reckless and a bit of a rake, as he chases the nymphs that watch over him and flirts with Metias.  These are not the traits one would usually associate with their supreme being, but Zeus was all this and more.  He was also brave and shows himself to be a born leader as he faced his father and freed his siblings.

There’s plenty of action in this volume, with Titans battling the Olympians, Zeus going on a quest to gain his birthright, and the final battle with Kronos, though most of it’s toward the end.  The beginning is just that; the beginnings of the universe and the world.  Gaea and Ouranos, and their children, the Titans Kronos and Rhea, and Kronos’ reign all have to be set up so that Zeus and his siblings have some to fight, and something to fight for.  It also sets up a cycle of father against son, and warns you don’t anger Mother Earth.

Zeus: King of the Gods is great retelling of the original myth.  It emphasizes the action and adventure that makes the myths thrilling, while still imparting it’s lessons. The other gods are introduced, with just the brothers Hades and Poseidon helping Zeus in the battle against Kronos and his brothers.  It’s good to see the women show some sense and let the men bash their brains out.  I liked how each sibling, when spit out, landed in an area that would become their domain; Poseidon in the sea, Hades under ground, Demeter in a field of grain.  I also really enjoyed the small seeds that were planted through out the story, hinting to connections to other myths.

The art was very well done.  O’Connor does a great job bringing the creatures of myth to life, especially the Cyclops and the Hekatonchieres, creatures with 50 heads and 100 hands.  The Titans are just otherworldly enough to make the transition from Earth and Sky to the human sized Olympians.

If you love Greek mythology or are just a fan a tales of adventure, then this book is definitely for you.  It’s definitely safe for a middle school library.  Kids will love not just the story, but the extras at the end that give the stats for key characters, like a trading card, and parents and teachers will like the study guide and bibliography.  There’s even included reading for younger readers.  I highly recommend this title.  It’s a great resource, and just plain great reading.

Check out the Good Comics for Kids Book Club for more on this title.

Review copy provided by publisher. Images © First Second

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