Super-size Me!: Angel Sanctuary

I was late in discovering Kaori Yuki’s work.  It wasn’t until Shojo Beat and Godchild, which was one of the debut titles, that I learned how great her work was.  But before Godchild and it’s prequel The Cain Saga, another series by Kaori Yuki was released in the US.  That was Angel Sanctuary.  This 20 volume series was first released by Viz in 2004 and completed it’s run in 2007.  The story is about Setsuna Mudo, the re-incarnation of the Organic Angel Alexiel.  Alexiel rebelled against heaven and as punishment was sentenced to be re-incarnated as a mortal and to live a life filled with pain and suffering.  Setsuna is discovered to be the latest re-incarnation and is pulled into the war between heaven and hell.

I’ve only read the first volume, and wasn’t quite ready for her style of writing then.  But after reading her other titles that are available in English, I would like to try this series again.  I was bothered by the incest introduced in the first volume of Angel Sanctuary, but now realize that is a common theme in her titles.  My only problem now is, the series is 20 volumes long!  20 volumes is a lot to track down, and take up a lot of space.  This is what makes Angel Sanctuary the perfect candidate for the VizBIG format.  It’s complete and it’s been so for a while, like several of the other titles we’ve seen come out.  It’s length makes it difficult to find in the individual volume format and will take up a lot of space.  9 volumes are a lot easier to handle and collect than 20.  And with several other of her titles out, it’s the perfect time to reintroduce her most influential work to a new audience, as well as the growing interest in titles for older readers.  While it’s rated Older Teen, it’s rating could go up, as other of her titles have.

Angel Sanctuary has all the making of a great addition to the VizBIG line.  Hopefully Viz realizes this and will re-release this series soon.

This Week in Manga 2/13-2/19/10

A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words

You hear that phrase all the time, but then you get hit with something that proves the truth of it.  GodLen of Anime Vice shows how some of the long running titles in Shonen Jump have changed over the 8 years it’s been around.  IE, not much.  The eternal cycle of shonen titles didn’t used to bother me that much, but they have started to get to me of late.  At least they have in Bleach.  GodLen totally got that one right.  I might argue with him over Naruto.  I don’t know that Naruto has gotten quite as emo as he portrays.  Ichigo is MUCH more emo.  At least Kishimoto showed Naruto’s change slowly over 40 volumes.  Ichigo goes emo at the drop of a hat.  One Piece…yeah, there’s not a lot of change except for the addition of more pirates.  But for that series I say, “If if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

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Tech Friday: You Won't Find These in Any Textbook


Learning Japanese from popular culture such as anime and manga is nothing new.  Mangajin, a magazine from the early 90’s used manga to teach lessons.  In fact, it’s exactly these things that inspire westerners to want to learn to read and speak Japanese.  The Japanese have recognized this and have created a website to help learners of their language.  But it’s not exactly what you’d expect.

The website, doesn’t show you manga panels with translations.  No, the purpose of the site is to help teach learners about colloquial expressions that often show up in anime and manga, but not in textbooks.  Languages are fluid, they are always changing.  Anime and manga, which are all about popular culture reflect these changes, which often stump new readers who don’t live in the culture and see and hear these changes. On the site, you can see and hear expressions from typical characters from anime and manga such as school age boys and girls, butlers, and samurai.  You can even hear an Osaka dialect from an old man!

I’ve heard people try to discourage others from using anime and manga as a resource for learning Japanese precisely because of the colloquialisms.  But in order to sound like a real native speaker, you should know them, and I think it’s great that the Japanese recognize this and are reaching out to foreign learners to help them.  Of course, I’m sure all the raw manga and anime these learners will buy to help their studies won’t hurt either.

Manga Drive By: Shonen Jump March 2010

87_largeThere’s no real news in this month’s Shonen Jump, which is kind of surprising.  You’d think they would want to start hyping any new titles coming soon now.  But not this month.  So what do we learn in this issue of SJ?  I learned that Bleach has entered the endless “lather, rinse, repeat” mode of shonen manga.  I still don’t find Gin Tama funny, and the magazine is going to get boring real fast if they don’t add something that isn’t just about fighting.

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Year of the Tiger

This week begins the Chinese New Year.  This traditional Chinese holiday is based on a lunar calendar and is associated with an animal in the Chinese Zodiac.  This year’s animal is the Tiger.  So, I went looking for manga with tigers in them.  Surprisingly, I couldn’t find a lot.  I extended it to any of the big cats, and that make the list grow some, but it’s really surprising how few manga have tigers in them.

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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.

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

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