manga bookshelf

Thank you. Here, have some monsters.

Thank you all for the warm reception to my introductory post! It was great to read the comments and discussions. Ed and Grace, I’ll definitely have to post my thoughts about Ranma ½ when I read more volumes. And Jun is definitely tempting me toward Boys Over Flowers. My library does not have Basara or One Thousand and One Nights so I’ll have to be on the lookout for used volumes.

I also have a question for everyone. I’m considering going to Sakuracon here in Seattle this April. It will be my first anime-con so I am interested to hear if you have any advice or opinions about this particular convention or anime-conventions in general.

As promised, I’ve returned to talk about Life Volumes 1-8, Canon, and Seimaden Volumes 1-10. Of the series I have started this year, there have been some standouts, like Life and Only the Ring Finger Knows (which I’m going to save for my next post). And then there are the series I just have to shrug my shoulders over and even find myself giggling about inappropriately, like Canon and Seimaden. Spoilers after the jump if you have not read these series

Canon Volumes 1-4 (complete) by Chika Shiomi published in English by CMX
Canon Himuro is the only survivor-turned-vampire of an attack that resulted in the deaths of her 39 classmates. Six months later, accompanied by a talking vampire-crow named Fui, seeking answers and vengeance, she meets a vampire named Sakaki. Sakaki gives Canon the name of her attacker – Rod – and offers to become her ally. But Sakaki’s true intentions with regard to Canon are much more sinister. In fact it was Sakaki who murdered Canon’s classmates, turned her into a vampire, and altered her memories. He plans to use Canon, whom Rod has shown a weakness for, as a weapon in his own quest for revenge against Rod, who murdered Sakaki’s parents. Will these two wacky kids overcome their differences and find true love?

Canon is a likeable – if sometimes frustratingly wishy-washy – heroine and Shiomi has some interesting takes on the vampire mythology – which are used to drive most of the plot forward. My main issue with the series is the character/relationship development between Canon and Sakaki. Shortly after discovering the truth about her past and Sakaki’s intentions, Canon confesses to herself that she loves him. Why? What has he done to inspire any feelings approaching love? Did I skip a chapter? If I don’t believe what characters are professing, I’m not going to buy into what occurs as a result of those feelings. Maybe Canon’s arrival at love would have been less rushed and more convincing if Shiomi had more volumes to spread the story out. But the way it was thrown at me along with slap-dash plotting left me unimpressed and unsatisfied. Ah well.

Seimaden Volumes 1-10 (complete) by You Higuri published in English by CMX
Seimaden. Oh, where to begin. This fantasy romance, about what one man will endure to be with the woman he loves is incredibly problematic. Laures, through a convoluted series of events, became the Lord of Demons in order to save the soul of his beloved Elis. He has finally found her again, reborn as beautiful dancer, Hilda. But the course of true love never did run smooth; otherwise there would be no story to tell, right? Roddrick, a rival for Hilda’s love, Tetius, a jealous, loyal servant, Zadei, the usurped Lord of Demons, Karon, the Lord of Hades, the soul of a calculating priestess named Marka, and a whole host of others conspire to take out Laures, Hilda, and perhaps the world. Not that Laures is undeserving of such enmity. In his all-consuming love for Hilda/Elis, he has slaughtered countless numbers without remorse. Nothing matters to him except Hilda/Elis. Laures is a difficult character to like, something Hilda struggles with as well.

In terms of plot, Higuri seems to have bitten off more than she can chew. There is a lot of story crammed into these 10 volumes, and that story does not always come through clearly. Scene changes are often abrupt and unclear, characters (entire dimensions in fact) are hastily introduced, the characters’ memories of events and past betrayals are worse than mine, and the passage of time is fuzzy. Plus, there were some rather annoying editing issues [for example: a minor character’s name kept changing volume to volume from Kuckle to Kunkle, to Knuckel].

And yet I kept reading. I have to admit that I had very little interest in the Hilda-Laures love story. In the end, I was far more intrigued by the machinations and motivations of Laures’ unfailingly loyal servant, Tetius, who I think wins the contest for suffering the most torment and indignities of any Seimaden character. He was the character I kept rooting for through everything else. Not one for my keeper shelves though.

Life Volumes 1-8 by Keiko Suenobu
Life is difficult to recommend. In fact this was the most difficult series for me to write about. Not because it isn’t good. It just invokes such a strong emotional response in me that is difficult to put into words. It is painful and gut-wrenchingly compelling and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next volume. But after reading it, you will probably need some serious cheering up and possibly a shower.

At its heart it is the story of Ayumu Shiba and her struggles to survive the emotional and physical perils of life. But overall, it is a story about the cruelties people can inflict upon one another and the cycle that feeds. So many horrible things happen to Ayumu that at times it almost defies belief and I find myself wondering if it might be considered exploitative. However, the artwork and story telling are superb and weighty issues of depression, self-punishment, abuse, and bullying are presented honestly albeit to incredible extremes. Keiko Suenobu has created a horrifyingly believable story of the hellish reality that life can become when the monsters we fear the most have human faces.

After a devastating falling-out with her middle-school best friend, Ayumu begins to cope with her pain by cutting herself. The first friend she makes in high school, Manami, has a boyfriend, Katsumi, who discovers Ayumu’s secret and uses that to subjugate her and abuse her. The rest of her classmates accuse Ayumu of trying to steal Katsumi from Manami and proceed to make her life even more of a living hell. The tension and drama are almost constant in Life and the world looks very grim. Thank goodness for Ayumu (and the reader), some light, some hope arrives in the form of fellow outcast classmate Miki Hatori, whose kindness and confidence inspire Ayumu to begin to stand up for herself. Still, with so many people out to make Ayumu (and now Hatori) “pay” for imagined wrongs, there is an ever-present danger of this hope being snuffed out.

The first two volumes include a succinct but well-written postscript by a clinical psychologist who addresses issues that arise in the manga. These postscripts are noticeably absent from later volumes. There are genuinely disturbing and upsetting events that occur in these volumes. The first five are labeled OT Older Teen Age 16+ and volumes 6-8 are labeled M Mature Age 18+. I’m curious why Tokyopop stopped including the postscripts.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.

About Deanna Gauthier

Deanna Gauthier is a hardworking Library Assistant and aspiring writer with two cats. She is an avid music lover and finds that the best way to destress is to sing along with her iPod, Toto, at the top of her lungs (while no one else is around). She has found her true passion in life is manga and is doing her best to work it into every aspect of her work and personal life. Her family and friends have been heard to joke from time to time about the need for an intervention. Besides manga, Deanna enjoys baseball, roller derby, concerts, and movies (all of which have taken a backseat to manga lately).

Comments

  1. Ed Sizemore says:

    “I’m curious why Tokyopop stopped including the postscripts.”

    My first thought is because Toykopop is evil. Most likely because the age rating changed. Since only adults are suppose to be able to buy the manga there is no need to help younger readers cope with what their reading.

    My convention advice 1) Expect anything: young girls dressed up in inappropriate costumes for their age, DDR players that refuse to shower, rambunctious yaoi fans, bewildered parents, little kids in the cutest costumes, Final Fantasy cosplayers with seven foot tall weapons, etc. 2) Enjoy the madness 3) Sit down with the convention program and map out what you really want to see each day. Keep your program on you at all times and don’t forget your convention map. 3) Figure out what you’re willing to spend, have that in cash on your person, leave your credit cards at home, when you run out of cash you’ll be forced to stop spending. It’s easy to bust a budget in the dealer’s room. 4) Enjoy the madness.

    Warning conventions can be habit forming.

    • Deanna Gauthier says:

      Ed -

      “My first thought is because Toykopop is evil. Most likely because the age rating changed. Since only adults are suppose to be able to buy the manga there is no need to help younger readers cope with what their reading.”

      Heh. Tokyopop is evil? Remember I’m still a relative newbie. Is there something I should know? The postscripts dissappeared several volumes before the age rating changed, so I don’t know. And I would not have been looking for, let alone expecting the postscripts if Tokyopop had not included them to begin with, but I thought they were an impressive touch. The reader could ignore them, but they were there if you wanted to read them.

      Thank you for all of your fantastic convention advice. In particular -

      “3) Figure out what you’re willing to spend, have that in cash on your person, leave your credit cards at home, when you run out of cash you’ll be forced to stop spending. It’s easy to bust a budget in the dealer’s room.”

      will be key for me and I thank you for that! :)

      • Ed Sizemore says:

        Deanna,

        I’m being unduly harsh on Tokyopop. Until about four years ago they were a good and influencial company. They and Viz got me hooked on manga. Unfortunately, Tokyopop thought that manga had unlimited growth potential. At one point they were releasing 10-15 books a week. Needless to say, reality and finances finally caught up with them. They get a lot negative press because they handled their layoffs poorly and there were a lot of series that never got complete runs. They’re back to the size they were when they first got started. Hopefully, they will sit back and learn from all their past mistakes. With more Japanese publishers either signing exclusive deals with US publishers or deciding to publish their material directly, you have to wonder what future is left for Tokyopop.

        • Deanna Gauthier says:

          What I don’t know yet about the manga industry and its history could fill volumes, I’m sure, so this is all very helpful information.

      • Aside from what Ed said, TokyoPop has a history of trying to scam young artists who don’t know any better into really bad contracts for their OEL manga. Here’s a post with a lot more links and info.

  2. Oh yay, a post! I was just feeling guilty about not having been able to post for a couple of days, and here you are to save the day! Lovely, Deanna, thank you!

    My convention advice: First, I’ll echo everything Ed already said. And add this:

    WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES.

    Seriously. Even for someone like me, who spends most of the convention in panels, there is so much walking around and standing. YOU WILL HATE YOUR LIFE if you do not wear comfortable shoes.

    Also, don’t carry much in–just the necessities–and leave room in your bag for purchases. Whatever the season, it gets warm in any place with that many bodies, so dress accordingly. Plan to carry water. Plan for long lines, and arrive early for anything you think might be popular.

    Probably the best thing Ed said up there (and he said a lot of great things) is “enjoy the madness.” Go with the flow. Don’t let yourself get too upset if you can’t get into something you were looking forward to, and let yourself change your own plans on a whim. Crowded places are always more fun if you’re not in a hurry, and if you are willing to take whatever comes at you. :)

    • Ed Sizemore says:

      The best shoes for anime conventions are black with red shoe laces and alchemy symbols on them :-)

    • Deanna Gauthier says:

      I postponed blogging until I had read 6-10 of Seimaden and 5-8 of Life, but I did not mean to go so long between posts :) And this post was a bit of a struggle as I’m still working on finding my voice and becoming more comfortable sharing my opinions and articulating them clearly. Its a work in progress :)

      As for the comfy shoes front, I’m on my feet most of the time for my job, so I feel pretty prepared for convention standing. I am a little bit concerned about the crowd factor as I get a bit claustrophobic if I am packed in by people and don’t have a visible escape route. (damn being short!) But your advice and Ed’s are going a long way toward preparing me for what to expect and how to take it all in :) Thanks especially for the “what to pack” advice.

      • Ed Sizemore says:

        Deanna,

        Just keep writing and I think your voice will come through naturely. I been reviewing for a year now and I’m still striving to improve my writing style. I think writing is one of those disciplines you spend the rest of your life trying to perfect. It helps to remember that. For me the key is learning to enjoy the process of writing.

        I look forward to more of your reviews and to hear about your first convention experiences. I was lucky and my first anime convention was a small local one with only about 600 people. The next year I went to Otakon and hit with culture shock. Now I enjoy the energy and otherworldliness of anime conventions. They’re a nice break from reality.

      • Deanna, I think I will be working on finding my voice FOREVER. :D So you at least are in good company? I see Ed has come through with some inspirational words here, as always. :) I am really *so* glad you have come on board here with me! We must remember to keep it fun!

        I completely relate on the claustrophobia! Living in NYC helped me battle that a lot, but conventions are a whole different animal. If it’s a multi-day convention, Saturday will be the crowded day, so you can expect more personal space the rest of the time. I tend to hide in panels most of the time on days like that.

        • Deanna Gauthier says:

          If I can consider myself in *your* company, I am indeed truly fortunate :) I am glad to be here too and although the post was difficult I still *loved* writing it.

          “If it’s a multi-day convention, Saturday will be the crowded day, so you can expect more personal space the rest of the time. I tend to hide in panels most of the time on days like that.”

          That is such great advice. Sakuracon is a 3-day convention, so I will keep that in mind when making my plans.

          • Well, I think you obviously *are* in my company, because… look! :) Here we both are. And I’m so happy that you enjoyed writing the entry, even if it was hard. That’s the most satisfying kind of thing there is, isn’t it?



Trackbacks

  1. [...] gotta go. Be sure to check out Deanna’s post from earlier today! Tags: 20th century boys, a a’, manga, manga [...]

  2. [...] Pluto, and vol. 6 of Le Chevalier d’Eon at Slightly Biased Manga. Deanna Gauthier discusses Canon, Life, and Seimaden in a guest post at there it is, plain as daylight. Snow Wildsmith reviews Candy at Fujoshi [...]



Before leaving a comment at Manga Bookshelf, please read our Comment Policy.

Speak Your Mind

*