It’s another strong week for manga shipping into Midtown Comics. Check out our Picks below!
MJ: This is a tough pick for me, with new volumes of both Karakuri Odette and Natsume’s Book of Friends shipping this week. But I’ll put in my vote for volume nine of Shiho Sugiura’s BL-lite fantasy Silver Diamond, out this week from Tokyopop. From my review of volumes 1-4, “There is so much charm to Silver Diamond, I hardly know where to begin … Though characters are what I read stories for, Silver Diamond also benefits from strong world-building and a solid (if not wholly original) fantasy plot … Sugiura’s art is honestly gorgeous, with lovely character designs and just exactly enough detail to be both beautiful and easy to read.” Though I’d consider this series a casual read, sometimes that’s just the read a weary mind most requires. In times like these, Silver Diamond hits the spot.
DAVID: It is a tough week, or it would be if not for my personal curve breaker, Mitsuru Adachi’s Cross Game. The third omnibus, which collects the sixth and seventh volumes of the series, arrives this week, and it’s a treat. There’s a several significant turning points in this installment, all of which are wonderfully handled by Adachi. I’ve reviewed the first and second collections in this series, and I’ll probably review the third, because I will not rest until more people are reading this wonderful series.
KATE: Oh, the dilemma! After several weeks of slim pickings, I hardly know where to start: volume three of Cross Game? volume six of Karakuri Odette? volume six of Natsume’s Book of Friends? But if I had to choose only one title, it would be volume four of Neko Ramen, which is quite possibly the best manga Tokyopop is publishing right now. I know, I know: “cat opens noodle shop” sounds like a one-joke premise, but most of the humor stems from feline hero Taisho’s ill-advised promotions, unappetizing specials, and inability to learn from his mistakes as he tries to expand from humble stand to national chain. Yes, there are jokes about hairballs and scratching posts, and jokes that just aren’t funny, but on the whole, Neko Ramen is a smart comedy that’s edgy but never mean-spirited, poking fun at the absurdity of Taisho’s ideas while honoring his ambition and hustle.
MICHELLE: The plus side to going last this week is that each of you has cleared one possible contender from my list, and I heartily second each of your recommendations. While I am tempted to select the seventh volume of Shinobi Life, a shoujo tale about the romance between a modern girl and a ninja that is way better than one would expect, I think I will be the one to formally select the sixth and final volume of Karakuri Odette as my pick this week. I’ve enjoyed this quirky slice-of-life series a great deal, and even though I was less than enthused by the addition of wife-seeking robot Travis in volume five and am therefore somewhat troubled by Odette’s bridal attire on the cover, I’m still eagerly looking forward to seeing how it all ends.
So readers, what are your Picks this week?
Jim saysApril 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm
I’ve got the first two volumes of cross game and really liked the first one. The second one was just too much Baseball for my liking! What’s the ratio like in Vol 3? If it’s just one loooong baseball game I think I’ll have to give it a miss.
David Welsh saysApril 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm
It’s about half baseball, half interpersonal stuff, but the baseball half is charged with interpersonal stuff too, and it has a great subplot where people get what they deserve. I’ll say no more than that, and that I find baseball crushingly dull and love, love, love Cross Game.
CJ saysApril 11, 2011 at 3:55 pm
Borders only had one of the three I wanted: Future Diary 10.
The other two I wanted were NG Life 9 (final volume) and Kekkaishi 25 (though I tend to prefer buying Kekkaishi “in bulk” two or three volumes at a time anyway)
John Jakala saysApril 11, 2011 at 4:01 pm
I just read the first volume of Cross Game last week and loved it. The library still doesn’t have the second volume so I’m getting close to breaking down and actually buying something!
David Welsh saysApril 11, 2011 at 4:31 pm
Yay! Not that your library doesn’t have the second volume, but that you liked the first. It does seem like the kind of thing you’d enjoy.
Dan saysApril 12, 2011 at 12:15 am
Okay, full disclosure: even though I am a self-avowed fan of anything that might be construed as “classic” manga/the work of a “classic” mangaka I never would have picked up the first volume of Cross Game had it not been for A) the (well-deserved) praise of Kate Dacey and B) its insanely discounted price at a going-out-of-business branch of Borders (40% off for a 3-in-one volume) but I am so, so, so very glad that I decided to give this series a shot.
Admittedly, I am gay man, so my investment in sports-related manga may be perceived as inherently less than the general, imagined audience for a series “about” baseball, However, despite the fact that (for reasons other than my homosexuality) baseball is absolutely my least favorite athletic pursuit I have found this series to be utterly charming. I think that in order to sell its appeal to the presumably less sports-inclined comics crowd Cross Game’s focus on baseball has been downplayed, but the whole vibe of “I am training hard at a game to gain a more fully realized expression of myself” is really no different from 99.9% of shonen manga whether it be Hikaru No Go or Slam Dunk.
This has been stated many times by writers more eloquent than I, but Adachi’s work unfolds slowly and sumptuously, frequently indulging in Tezuka-esque meta-humor about the sometimes slap-dash relation of plot points and the life of an artist on a tight produciton schedule. Really, what’s not to love? Judged solely on its own merits this is an exceptional series, but even in comparison to other (scanlated) works by Adachi this is a mature and heart-wrenching tale.
David Welsh saysApril 12, 2011 at 7:05 am
I just wanted to state that this is not me posting under a different name, though I agree with every single word Dan has said. Hail and well met, fellow gay male Cross Game fan!
Katherine Dacey saysApril 12, 2011 at 9:46 am
Glad to know the recommendation was helpful, Dan! I’ve never been a big baseball fan, but I’ve been an Adachi fanatic since I read Short Program. Now if only VIZ would license Touch…
Noura saysApril 12, 2011 at 2:16 am
My pick of the week is definitely none other than the third omnibus of Mitsuru Adachi’s Cross Game. I read the first two and loved them. Well, I am a huge fan of Mitsuru Adachi, so I just have to get anything by him.
Other than this one, nothing has caught my interest and I already got volume 6 of Yuki Midorikawa’s Natsume’s Book of Friends two weeks ago.