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Pick of the Week: Persuasion

With very little new manga shipping this week, we’ve decided to do something a little different. Instead of choosing something fresh off the presses, each of us will recommend a title we’ve reviewed in the past six months that we feel deserves a moment in the spotlight. Check out our Picks below!

KATE: I’m glad I’m going first this week, because that allows me to recommend a Manga Bookshelf staff favorite: The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko. The first volume of this delightful, snarky comedy arrived in the final weeks of December, too late to make my Best Manga of 2010 list, but just in time to redeem my opinion of Tokyopop’s recent licensing choices. Many critics have been making favorable comparisons between Lady Kanoko and Harriet the Spy, not least because both stories feature young girls who fill notebooks with observations about their peers. What makes Kanoko so appealing, however, isn’t just that it shares plot points with Louise Fitzhugh’s famous story; it’s Kanoko herself, who uses her position as a neutral observer to help her classmates better understand their own behavior. Kanoko refuses to be pulled into their power struggles and romantic travails, making her an uncommonly independent, powerful shojo heroine. (She’s also blisteringly funny.) Assuming Tokyopop’s recent layoffs haven’t had a significant impact on their release calendar, volume two will arrive in stores next week.

MELINDA: I’m going to go in a bit of an unexpected direction here and recommend Seven Days: Monday-Thursday, the first of a two-volume BL series by Rihito Takarai & Venio Tachibana, released rather quietly on DMP’s Juné imprint last year. Though the second volume won’t come out here for months still, I have to admit it’s been lurking around in the back of my mind since I reviewed it in November. It’s not a showy series by any means, and its primary charm is in its emotional messiness, something I know I tend to appreciate more than most. Though it starts with an unbelievable premise (a boy offers himself up as a joke to a classmate with a reputation for dating any girl who asks him) the plot is just an excuse to explore adolescent confusion and awkwardness in the very best way possible. This was one of my favorite new BL series last year, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

DAVID: My pick is a book that seemed to slide in under the radar: Oji Suzuki’s A Single Match from Drawn & Quarterly. It’s an intriguing and challenging collection of short stories that were originally published in Garo, and Suzuki has a sensibility that’s simultaneously dreamlike and gritty. Chris Mautner did a fine job describing the creator’s approach in a review for The Comics Journal, saying “Perhaps the key is that Suzuki isn’t as interested in telling stories, per se, as much as he is in capturing certain moments — of memory, of awareness — and the emotions that roil underneath.” If all of the stories collected here aren’t equally successful, the majority of them are certainly intellectually and emotionally striking enough to merit close reading (and rereading). If you’re looking for an ambitious change of pace, A Single Match would be a fine choice. I reviewed the book back in February. Widgets

Readers, recent title would you recommend?

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  1. I love Seven Days: Monday-Thursday. I fell in love with the characters, story and artwork. There is something about BL works that are not overly explicit. I actually love the interaction between the characters more than just shallow sex scenes. Seven Days is one of the few BL titles that makes me think and imagine what is not shown on the pages. Another series that gave me the same feeling is Chigusa Kawai’s La Esperanca. I love the subtle insinuations thrown there. Rihito Takarai and Venio Tachibana did an excellent job on Seven Days. Can’t wait for Seven Days: Friday-Sunday to come out!

  2. When I was buying books at the closing Borders near me, I saw Lady Kanoko sitting on the shelf. The synopsis was intriguing, and I had the faintest memory of Kate mentioning it on her blog somewhere. Maybe. I wasn’t sure. I bought it based on nothing but that, and it has to be one of the best impulse buys I’ve ever made.

    • Katherine Dacey says:

      Making recommendations can feel like howling into the wind — I’m never sure if anyone is listening. I’m glad to know it inspired you to give the book a try. (I’d say that I’m glad you enjoyed it, too, but I already know that from reading your delightful review at The Real Otaku Gamer.)

  3. Read the first volume of The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko and didn’t find myself enjoying it all that much. It is interesting and all but not something I would want to collect and reread.


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