As Amazon ships its Kindle 2.0, bloggers and tech sites, just to be contradictory, have been talking a lot about the alternatives to the Kindle. And it’s usually the iPhone that gets the spotlight. Sorry, the iPhone is not Job’s gift to man. There are plenty of other small screen devices that can do the job without the stranglehold.
I’m gonna try and make this a weekly feature, rounding up the stories from the week I found most interesting from the web and twitter. Of course, I’ll be adding my own two cents with some commentary on the news items.
Anime Expo – 7/2-7/5/09
Normally associated with anime (obviously), manga pubs usually have a presence at AX, as a booth and/or panel. Though, with the tough economy, smaller pubs seem to be fleeing the crowds and expense of SDCC, in favor of a more targeted audience. Here ae some items I want to highlight.
Gimmick! Volume 3
By: Youzaburou Kanari & Kuroko Yabuguchi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: T+ (Older Teens)
Gimmick! is the story of Kohei Nagase, an up-and-coming young makeup and special effects artist who loves his work and is capable of amazingly intricate work. If you ever saw the movie F/X, starring Bryan Brown and Brian Dennehy, you get the idea. If you didn’t see it, go out, rent the movie and watch it right now. Go. I’ll wait.
This volume finishes the “Over the Rainbow” story started in the last volume, plus most of a second story, “TB Confidential” and a one-shot. There aren’t any spectacular reveals in “Over the Rainbow”, it’s obvious it was simply room that prevented it from being printed in the previous volume and it’s a bit disappointing to have waited a couple of months for what is essentially wrap-up. At least this time, “TB Confidential” ended on a cliffhanger, but I can’t help wondering why they didn’t just put the complete story into this volume and move the one-shot elsewhere?
I’m sure everyone’s heard by now about Viz’s insane idea to catch up One Piece with the Japanese releases. They announced at Anime Expo that they will release 30 volumes in six months starting in January 2010. That’s 5 volumes a month! Back in May, when it was first announced that current One Piece chapters would start showing up in Shonen Jump, I wrote what I thought of that decision. Viz was nuts. I thought they would try to do it in the span before the chapters came out. I was wrong about that. But their response is no better.
Eagle: The Making of an Asian American President Volume 4
By: Kaiji Kawaguchi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen+ (16+)
I know it’s been a while, but I’ve only go 2 volumes left of this series, and I’m determined to finish it! Okay, so this volume ends the cliffhanger from the last about Yamaoka possibly having an affair, and that Rachel was the result. Takashi helps clear that up, as he had a personal stake in the possibility. Then it’s on to the National Convention in Chicago. Here we see Bill Clinton step in, trying to get his wife “Ellery” the vice-president nomination. He goes to Noah first, who turns him down outright, so it’s off to Yamaoka, who seems more receptive. With the political weight of the Clintons behind him, Yamaoka takes the nomination, but instead nominates Noah for VP. With the Democratic players in place, the campaign can move to the national front, and we finally meet the Republican Candidate Richard Grant. He’s a Lt. General in the Air Force Reserve, former Astronaut and Senator from Colorado. He is also very much a flag-waving republican and supporter of the military complex. Yamaoka starts off a controversy at a Remembrance Ceremony at the Vietnam Vets Wall, denouncing the war. After some uproar, Yamaoka clarifies his statements by declaring he wants the US to stop being the world police and build up the UN to do it. He does this by courting his former CO, General Kerrigan, who is Special Advisor to Peacekeeping Forces to the UN. The volume ends with a trip to Seattle to see Yamaoka’s family and meet the next hurdle, the unions who represent the military and aerospace workers.
It is a sad day in Xanadu. Having only just discovered the over-the-top manli-goodness that is Sengoku Barasra, aka Basara Devil Kings, the anime, I had to search to see if there was a manga for it. And, joy of joys, there was! It was licensed too! Udon Entertainment, the purveyor of Video Game and Capcom comics has licensed it. At least, that’s what everyone thought.
I thought it was odd at first, that a google search for the manga didn’t land an Amazon hit in the first 10 links. A search of Amazon did reveal the book , but as unavailable, but with a shipping date of September of 2008. A search of other sites gave another date of April 2008, or available for pre-order. Not even the Udon site had a listing. This confused me, so, since a web search wasn’t doing me any good, I went to the next best place for manga knowledge; Twitter.
A query there didn’t get me any answers, but it did get a response from Udon that they would find out. A few days later, I got a response from Stacy King, Marketing Manager for Udon. Here’s what she told me:
UDON hasn’t published or even translated any of this manga; although the contract was announced while it was in talks, things fell through with the final negotiations.
Stacy wasn’t sure why negotiations fell though, or if Basara Devil Kings will come up again in the next round of negotiations, but they are keeping it in mind when they look at possible licenses later in the year.
So that is the sad tale of the Basara Devil Kings manga as of this moment. I do hope it does get licensed eventually. It’s only three volumes long, and even though the manga doesn’t appear to be as outrageous as the anime, the characters and story are still interesting enough for me to want to check out. And who knows, may be later on in the manga I’ll get to see Takeda Shingen ride up a vertical castle wall standing on two horses while holding his battle axe in front of him.
June and July 2009 mark the end of a four year run of Shojo Beat magazine. Not that you could tell by reading them. These last two issues feature more great previews, features and of course, chapters of manga. Though nothing is said explicitly, there does appear to be some indication that the magazine was ending, but you wouldn’t know it if you weren’t really paying attention.
Gimmick! Volume 2
ByYouzaburou Kanari & Kuroko Yabuguchi
Publsiher: Viz Media
Rating: T+ (Older Teens)
Volume 2 opens with the continuation of the Alien Panic storyline, Kohei and his partner Kannazuki are hot on the trail of the criminals who tricked him into constructing a complex alien animatronic creature in the last issue. Now they’re using the prop as a diversion while they commit crimes and Kohei is none to happy about it. What’s worse, the criminals have framed Kohei for their crimes! Next, in The Mask of Del Fuego one-shot, Kohei helps a famous actor disguise himself from a stalker, only to find that she’s not the only one out to get him. Finally, in the beginning chapters of Over the Rainbow, a young woman named Mone is convinced that Kohei killed her father. He has to find the truth and discovers it’s closer than he thought.
Honestly, all I can say is if you liked the first volume, you’ll enjoy this one as well, it’s more of the same entertaining stories. Kohei comes up with an endless array of nifty gadgets and gizmos, most of them pretty over-the-top, to save his never-ending list of clients. I’ll have to admit, however, that the “oh no, the police are after me” started to run very thin as time wore on in Alien Panic. Also, I have to wonder where Kohei gets the time to create some of these masterful appliances, does he always wear a blood squib chestpiece, just on the off-chance he might get shot? Some stories are a bit long on the “ooh, ah” factor, a little short on the logic.
That’s not to say these aren’t fun, light-hearted manga, the character of Kohei is wonderful, Kannazuki is fun to read about, and seeing how they get out of the various jams is always interesting, so long as you don’t think about it too hard. Just accept that whatever happens, happens, don’t wonder why, don’t try to figure out how, it just does. If you can do that, you’ll have a good time and blow some time chuckling.
With the manga market getting tighter, we as readers will start to see some of our favorite titles get longer times between volume releases, if at all. Slow seller are always the first to go. Despite the cries of protest from it’s small but loyal fan base, companies need to stay in the black, or else we’ll have no manga to buy at all.
But, we’re not helpless in this situation. Fans can show companies what titles they want to keep coming out. The easiest way is of course through pre-orders. Whether it’s through Amazon, Rightstuf or Diamond Distributor’s Previews, ordering a title ahead of time gives publishers a good idea on the demand they can expect for a title. The lives of titles can be saved or extended through pre-orders better than all the ranting and raving on blogs and forums. We as fans have to put our money where our mouths are.
When times get tough, and bank accounts become lean, that’s when you have to start slashing the non-essentials from the budget. As much as I hate to say it, manga is one of those non-essentials. With not much hope for recovery in the next six months, or if the state will be solvent (I live in California), that’s meant I’ve had to cut down on the manga I pre-order. In happier, healthier times, my average order is 7-10 volumes, depending on who has what (ie Viz doesn’t flood me) or if there are title for others in the family (Husband and kids). With pre-order discounts, that averages around $70 a month in manga.
Zombie Powder Volume 4
By: Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media/Shonen Jump Manga
Ratng: T+ (Older Teen)
Wolfina fights a solo battle for her brother’s life as Emilio, his body fused to a locomotive racing across the desert, faces a fate worse than death. Luckily, Gamma and C.T. Smith manage to stop the train just before it plows into Alcantara and we get a happy ending and an obvious way for the story to continue…
Dragonball: Evolution Junior Novel
Adapted by Stacia Deutsch & Rhody Cohon
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: All Ages (9-12)
Goku thought he was a normal high school student until he found out he’s actually a martial-arts whiz with all kinds of powers. Now he and his fellow teen warriors are on a quest to find all the Dragon Balls before they fall into the wrong hands. But they may already have! Goku must battle the evil madman Piccolo with all he’s got to save the planet Earth!
Taking the title and character names from a manga does not make it “based on”, as it says on the front cover of this book (in very small letters). Not even the description from the back cover has much to do with the story inside. This story takes only the barest of elements from Akira Toriyama’s original manga and weaves them into a generic and boring story that has none of the charm or fun of the source material.