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Pick of the Week: Short Stack

With only five new manga releases shipping to Midown Comics this week, what will our bloggers pick? See below to find out!

SEAN: It’s a smaller week this time around, but even if there were tons of titles, my pick would likely be the same. I found the first volume of Q Hayashida’s Dorohedoro to be my favorite out of all the SigIkki titles, and subsequent volumes have only added to my enjoyment. Its grim and unforgiving fantasy dystopia is lovingly detailed (you can pore through the backgrounds for hours), and its plot straight out of anyone’s nightmares (ever wake up with your head replaced with a giant lizard’s?). The reason that I can deal with its sordid underbelly is the wicked (and equally violent) sense of humor it has, with its main cast never seeming to let the bad things that happen to them crush their spirits. In fact, Ciaman and Nikaido, and their ‘evil’ counterparts Shin and Noi, can be quite jovial! Give this quirky series a try (if you don’t mind blood, it’s quite violent.) Plus, female creator!

MELINDA: This is a tricky pick for me, with nothing I’m really excited about shipping into Midtown Comics this week. With that in mind, I’m going to go completely off the list and get into the spirit of this week’s Manga Moveable Feast by recommending that everyone pick up something by Fumi Yoshinaga. My rereads this week include favorite older series Flower of Life and Antique Bakery, but there is plenty of newer or current Yoshinaga to check out if those are hard to find. Both Yen Press (Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy) and Viz Media (Ooku, All My Darling Daughters) have served up recent helpings of Yoshinaga that should be relatively easy to acquire. I recommend keeping some snacks handy. Reading Yoshinaga always makes me hungry.

DAVID: It might have escaped your notice, but our long, national nightmare is finally over, and the Eisner Awards have finally given a prize to Naoki Urasawa. After an enormous number of nominations, he won a 2011 Eisner for 20th Century Boys. Conveniently enough, the 16th volume of this series arrives this Wednesday. Equally convenient is the fact that this is my favorite Urasawa title to be released in English, so I have no problem recommending it. One of my few complaints with Urasawa’s work is his inclination toward over-seriousness, so the generally wry tone of this series is especially welcome. It’s a great thriller that doesn’t neglect humor as it spins its various yarns. (Oh, and if you happen to have the Viz app on one of your various devices, you can now read Oishinbo in that format. This is something that bears repeating.)

KATE: After reading Bluewater’s unauthorized bio-comic of Lady Gaga, I’m morbidly curious about Fame: 50 Cent. The Lady Gaga comic was almost impossible to describe: it featured a middle-aged rock journalist who reluctantly agrees to write an article about Gaga, only to have a surreal experience when he listens to “Bad Romance.” (He actually imagines that he’s Lady Gaga; the sight of a balding, hairy man in one of Gaga’s most outre costumes was worth the cover price alone.) I don’t know that the 50 Cent story lends itself to such an avant-garde presentation, but given the sheer weirdness of Bluewater’s other Fame comics, I can’t imagine it will be boring.

MICHELLE Sometimes I feel like the only person who likes Bokurano: Ours. Indeed, it is very grim—there are quite a few similarities with Ikigami, actually—and somewhat repetitive, as members of a group of children sit quietly in the background until it is their turn to sacrifice their life piloting a giant robot that is ostensibly defending Earth. As you might expect, this is very depressing, but some creepy circumstances surrounding the arrival of the aliens makes me question is any of this even real? In addition to being cruel and horrible, is all of this just futile? Just a game? It’s this underlying mystery that keeps me coming back despite the need for a fluffy shoujo transfusion I typically feel afterwards.

Readers, what looks good to you this week?

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  1. So not true, Michelle! I like Bokurano: Ours a lot too! I’m a bit behind on collecting the manga (I blame the fact that I’ve seen the entire anime for that, not that Viz’s ungodly slow release schedule for an already completed series is helping, I won’t spoil the manga for you on some of the twists!), but yeah, I really do enjoy Bokurano, I’m quite glad that at least the manga came over to America and that Viz didn’t suddenly realize that it wasn’t for kids despite the artwork like Dark Horse’s issue with Shadow Star, they clearly knew beforehand.

    • I actually didn’t realize there was an anime, that’s how far out of the anime loop I am. I agree wholeheartedly about the slooooow release schedule, though. As you say, this story is completed so there’s really no need for delay other than the fact that the whole SigIkki imprint is on this schedule. Must be a sales thing.

      I have recently acquired the volumes of Shadow Star that Dark Horse produced. Looks like I will be able to get 8+ in French too, though I wonder whether importing it is going to be a good idea…

    • I second that Bokurano endorsement! I’ve heard lots of people describe it as nihilistic, pointless, formulaic, etc. but even though it is admittedly a bit too grim to ever elicit feelings resembling anything like fondness or nostalgia there is something totally fascinating (in a kind of masochistic way) about a comic that explores how traumatic world-saving powers thrust upon children would undoubtedly be in real life. It’s like Evangelion with the angst and loss amped up and the catchy Christian/mystic symbolism toned down.

      Hitoshi Tomizawa’s Alien Nine does something similar (and similarly disturbing) but in an even more surreal/abstract manner. If you get antsy waiting for the next volume of Bokurano AN might be a serviceable substitute, plus it’s quite short/cheap.

      • Thanks for the recommendation! And I definitely agree that Bokurano doesn’t elicit feelings of fondness for the cast—we just don’t spend enough time with them—but it’s definitely fascinating all the same.

    • I’m another fan of Bokurano. It’s definitely in my top three SigIkki titles, although the order keeps changing. I hear it gets even better later on but I’ve not read ahead (I don’t even read the online serialisation as I’m not a fan of reading comics on computers). The slow release schedule is pretty frustrating and I think I’ll probably have to do a marathon with this volume, or the next, to remind myself of exactly what’s happened. Still, I don’t imagine it is a big seller so I’m just thankful it’s getting a release.

  2. My pick of the week is the 16th volume of Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys. I cannot stress how much I love this series. It is definitely one of the best and one of my favorites. I will be sad once it ends but I hope VIZ Media will acquire more titles by Naoki Urasawa.

  3. even though I did’nt like it as much as the first two volumes I have to go with the second Tenjo Tenge omnibus if only for the reltivelly good charcter devlopment of some of the secondery charcters.


  1. […] course, for those served by more diversely sourced comic shops, you can take a look at the Manga Bookshelf Pick of the Week roundup, and you can peruse this week’s Bookshelf Briefs for our takes on a variety of recent […]

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