This Week in Manga 7/25-7/31/09

San Diego is over and now everyone is preparing for the New York Anime Fest.  But in this week’s round up there’s still plenty of SDCC news to get out and some real thought provoking discussions going on that you don’t want to miss out on.

SDCC Days 3 & 4

Manga Blog has more roundups of the manga panels from Del Rey, Dark Horse and CMX.  CMX is really working to get my money, and with the sounds of their titles, they are going to succeed.  Del Rey might win a few with two of their new titles Panic x Panic and Pink Innocence.

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PlayPlay

I Just Don't Get It

I’ve been going on a lot about the Twilight/Fanboy debate, mainly because it really irks me.  But the reason for that is that I’ve never experienced any real prejudice in my comic shopping, or at cons.  Several commentors on the Robot 6 blog article about Girls and Fandom gave anticdotes about their experiences with Fanboys and in comic shops, and quite frankly, it shocked me that they were meeting any kind of resistance from the other patrons and/owners.

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Oishinbo a la Carte: Fish, Sushi, and Sashimi

Yamaoka and his father Kaibara Yuzan, have never enjoyed an ideal father-son relationship.  In fact, it’s about as far from ideal as possible, and when they start arguing about food–which they inevitably do–the sparks really fly.  In this volume of Oishinbo, the subject of dispute is fish, starting with the question of whether mackerel can ever be truly good sashimi.  Later, things come to a head during the “Salmon Match” which pits father against son in an epic contest to develop the best dish before a panel of judges.  Will Yamaoka finally defeat Kaibara?  Or will he once again be left in his father’s shadow?

Story by Tetsu Kariya; Art by Akira Hanasaki
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Food
Price: $12.99
Rating: ★★★★½

The overall premise of Oishinbo is that Yamaoka and his partner Kurita are compiling the “Ultimate Menu” of Japanese cuisine for the 100th anniversary of the publishers of Tozai News.  Each volume of Viz’s compilation of this long running series is centered around a type of food. This volume is all about fish.  The stories are episodic, and can be broken down into two types; Yamaoka helping someone out or putting someone in their place about food, and Yamaoka vs. Kaibara, his father, over some kind of food dish.

Yamaoka comes off as lazy and a cynic, but at heart he really is a good guy.  Whether it’s coming to the defense of a young boy’s opinion, helping a man get over being dumped by a girl, or a student accept getting into his second choice college instead of the first, Yamaoka finds a way through food.  I really enjoyed these stories, as they showed both Yamaoka’s knowledge and skill as well as his good heart.

What I didn’t enjoy were the stories with Yamaoka competing with his father Kaibara.  Now, I don’t mind the competitions themselves.  They require both skill and knowledge, with much of the latter being imparted to the reader.  What makes a good sashimi, why salmon and other fresh water fish shouldn’t be used as sushi and what’s really important when making a meal for someone are all topics covered in this volume.  While I found the information interesting and informative, I just couldn’t stand Kaibara.  His overly smug attitude toward Yamaoka, and people in general really struck me the wrong way.  I know I’m not supposed to like him, but his whole demeanor made some of these chapters just unpleasant to read.

The art in Oishinbo isn’t very realistic.  It’s rather simplistic, with a newspaper comic feel to it.  There aren’t a lot of the manga conventions you see in a lot of other titles, making this very friendly to a non-manga reading audience.  The food and the fish are very realistic, on the other hand, showing the emphasis is on the food more than the people.

Overall I found Oishinbo A la Carte to be an enjoyable read, though Kaibara did drag it down some.  Other people may not be bothered by Kaibara so much, so this is still a title I recommend.  If you’ve ever wanted to try a manga without all the baggage, or are just curious about Japanese cuisine, this is a title you definitely want to check out.

Review: Naruto Volume 31

Naruto Volume 31
By Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Action
Price: $7.95
Rating: ★★★★★

Naruto and his fellow ninja engage in deadly conflict with the enemy.  If any of them makes the wrong decision, it could be one of Naruto’s closest friends who pays the ultimate price.

This volume finishes up the rescue of Gaara arc started back in volume 28.  Granny Chiyo and Sakura are fighting Sasori of the Red Sand, and Granny Chiyo’s grandson.  Meanwhile Naruto and Kakashi are chasing Deidara to get Gaara back.  Kakashi uses his Sharigan eye to get Deidara to drop Gaara, and then his new technique when Deidara tries to blow everyone up.  But is there any chance of saving Gaara?

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This Week in Manga 7/18-7/24/09

I know this is late, but SDCC threw everything off schedule.  Everything will back by this week.  I hope.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Otakon ran this weekend.  Did you notice?  There were no announcements from manga publishers, and really not a lot of announcements in general.  Whoever planned for this years Otakon really blew it.  Placing it between the biggest industry cons was a serious mistake.  Attendance was barely changed from last years numbers.  Even with this economy, AX showed a reasonable rise, and SDCC sold out at least two months sooner than last year.  So it’s not that people aren’t going to the cons, they just need more time in between to replenish cash reserves.  Otakon, stay in August.

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I’m Too Old For This: SDCC Day 3

Yeah, I should have written this last night, but I didn’t get home until after midnight and was exhausted.

Saturday was a struggle to wake up, but we managed it, had another nice breakfast, and checked out.  We made it to the convention center just in time for the Women in Manga panel, the only manga panel I was able to make it to all con.  That’s just the way it goes.  I’m not lamenting.  Lots of other people were there to cover the manga panels, and if I’ve got anything to add, I’ll do it in my weekly news post.

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Wish You Were There? SDCC Day 1

Even though this strip is 3 years old, it still describes the experience of SDCC fairly well.  The only thing that needs to be added are the lines.  Yes, the infamous SDCC lines were back this year and worse than ever.  We got to the con at sometime after 10am and walked the Exhibit Hall for most of the morning.  My husband took lots of pictures of toys, including a few for me.

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Diamond Not Distributing

It’s that time of month again when I have to place my Previews order.  But now, besides my usual problems of deciding what to buy, I have to wonder if the books I order will be canceled.  Diamond Distributing has had their red pen going at break-neck speed, what with canceling the entire Yen Press solicitation from last month’s order.  They’re back again and while not the only publisher to get red-lined, they just the most jaw-dropping. So, do I chance another manga order through Previews?  I want to support what titles I can with pre-orders, but is it a losing battle with Diamond who seem happy to slash their catalog back to the stone age of  just DC, Marvel, Dark Horse and Image?

If I want a manga to survive, and I want the publishers to know I enjoy the title by pre-ordering it, will the publisher still get my message even after Diamond cancels my order?  Do the publishers see the numbers before the cancellation order comes down?  Am I wasting time pre-ordering with Diamond and risking my favorite, not so popular manga to an untimely death?

I ponder these questions even as I prepare my next order.  I’m playing it fairly safe, though, that’s just the way it came down, and not because I chose not to order from anyone in particular for fear of the titles getting canceled.  These are my orders for this month:

  • CMX – Two Flowers for the Dragon v5
  • Tokyopop – Chibi Vampire v14
  • Viz Media – Gimmick! v9
  • Viz Media – Knights of the Zodiac v27
  • Viz Media – Wild Ones v8
  • Viz Media – Pokemon Diamond & Pearl v5

Chibi Vampire is a must, as it’s the final volume, and the same goes for Gimmick! Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya is on the penultimate volume, and there is no way I am missing out seeing this title finish!  I still really enjoy Wild Ones even if no one else seems to, and Two Flowers for the Dragon has the double bonus of being good and having a good discount.

I hope Diamond lives up to their name, and keeps distributing the manga, not just comics, we love.  I can see the divide between manga and comic readers growing if Diamond continues to feel the need to cancel manga from their catalog.  And that’s something we really don’t need.  There is already a wide chasm, that those of us that read both can barely straddle.  We shouldn’t be forced to chose one over the other.

Space Manga

July 20, 1969:  The day mankind first walked on the moon.  Just as with the assassination of JFK, and 9-11, you can ask someone (old enough to remember) what they were doing when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, and they could tell you.  With the 40th Anniversary of this event coming up, I thought I would look at some manga that takes a more realistic approach to mankind’s reach into space.

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This Week in Manga For 7/11-7/17/09

Manga’s version of the “Sub vs Dub” debate

Found this on Twitter via aicnanime: Helen McCarthy weighs in on the OEL manga label debate, and she puts into words something I’ve always thought but don’t think I’ve ever expressed properly:

And that’s the reason. Semantics is the study of meanings, and to writers and historians, meanings matter. Fans and businesses exploiting the power of the word ‘manga’ are tapping in to one of the oldest magics known to man – the belief that real names have real power, and that attaching a name to a thought or act can give it weight, can bring it into being. But to me, attaching the word ‘manga’ to non-Japanese comics doesn’t change anything important about those comics, and  may well dilute and weaken the power of the word in its original form.

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Review: Naruto Volume 28-29

Naruto Volume 28-29
By Masashi Kishimoto
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Action
Price: $7.95
Rating: ★★★★★

Volume 28 marks the start of Part Two of the Naruto saga.  Two years have passed since the end of volume 27.  Naruto returns to the Hidden Leaf Village after training with Jiraiya.  No soon does he get back that he, Sakura and Kakashi are sent off on a mission.  The Akatsuki have attacked the Sand Village and kidnapped Gaara, now Kazekage.  Distracted from Sasuke, Naruto is determined to save him.  He understands Gaara’s pain, and will do whatever it takes.  On the way, Kakashi’s team, now including Granny Chiyo from the Sand Village confront Itachi while Guy’s team, sent by Tsunade to help Kakashi’s team face another Akatsuki, Kisame.  They are diversions, sent to keep Kakashi’s team from reaching the Akatsuki base before they finish extracting the One-tailed demon from Gaara.

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