This week’s bounty at Midtown Comics is especially diverse, though even that can’t quite satisfy the broad tastes of the Battle Robot. Check out our picks below!
KATE: Though VIZ is releasing several must-read manga this week — including Natsume Ono’s Tesoro and the tenth volume of Takehiko Inoue’s Real — my vote goes to the fourth volume of Hisae Iwaoka’s Saturn Apartments. This beautifully illustrated drama focuses on a handful of window washers aboard an enormous space station. The characters’ job grants them access to every nook and cranny of the joint, offering them a window (no pun intended) into the lives of their wealthy and eccentric clientele. At the same time, however, their job is incredibly dangerous: as Iwaoka amply demonstrates throughout the series, the characters face UV exposure, strong solar winds, and a variety of other hazards, all of which can send them plunging to their deaths. Lest I make Saturn Apartments sound like an Upton Sinclair novel set in space, rest assured that the story isn’t unrelentingly grim, thanks to Iwaoka’s playful, imaginative artwork and her lively cast of supporting characters. My only complaint about the series: VIZ doesn’t release it frequently enough!
MICHELLE: I considered picking volume two of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon this week—for, despite the fact that Midtown Comics is not receiving it, other retailers are—but figured that enough people would buy it or had already pre-ordered it that it didn’t need my help! So, instead, I will cast my vote for volume three of Tsuta Suzuki’s A Strange and Mystifying Story, which I reviewed in the October BL Bookrack column. The series’ first two volumes depict a relationship between a sickly guy and the guardian beast that heals him, but volume three signifies a welcome new direction for the series. Here’s what I had to say about it:
“Mangaka Tsuta Suzuki is wise enough to know when a story is played out and brave enough to risk angering her fans by taking things in an entirely new direction. Akio and Setsu appear but briefly, therefore, as Suzuki devotes the first half of this volume to the absolutely adorable love story between two of Akio’s coworkers and the second half to a teenager named Tsumugi who has just encountered a guardian beast of his own.”
Even if you’re not into guardian beasts per se, the first half alone is worth the price of admission.
SEAN: Honestly, there is some manga I’m getting this week, but nothing that really makes me jump up and say Pick Of The Week. So I’m going to talk about Pogo again. There’s just so much nostalgia wrapped up in this release, even if it is only of the first two years (the comic ran 24 years before Kelly passed away). The odd passive love triangle between Pogo, Porkypine and Mam’selle Hepzibah; Howland Owl and Churchy LaFemme’s continued ability to get sucked into any incredibly stupid scheme they come across; Albert Alligator, despite being a loudmouth jerk most of the time, being an alligator you can truly believe is not eating most of the native populace; and Deacon Mushrat, who in these early strips is the closest the comic has to a villain, though in later volumes – it’ll be Vol. 3, I believe – he is easily supplanted by far more sinister characters. Much as fans of literature always point you towards the classics, fans of comics – both Japanese and American – should know their Pogo.
DAVID: I could easily pick the 10th volume of Takehiko Inoue’s splendid Real, but I’m going to favor Natsume Ono’s Tesoro for a couple of reasons. The first is that Alexander (Manga Widget) Hoffman is hosting a Manga Moveable Feast dedicated to Ono’s work. The second is that Tesoro is really charming. It contains some of Ono’s earliest professionally published works, but you could never tell if you haven’t read some of her more recent comics. And, even if you’ve read her more polished titles, there’s still plenty here to enjoy. I’m going to post a review of the book today, so I won’t go into too much detail here, but if you like charming, character-driven comics, then you should do yourself a favor and pick this up. The stories here are uniformly sweet and sometimes satisfyingly sad.
MJ: Anyone who knows me well will know that I’m probably the least likely person on earth to stand up as a champion of sports… anything, but I find myself unable to resist the opportunity to be the one to stand up for Takehiko Inoue’s Real. Here’s what I said about volume 9: “Though I’m not a big fan of sports manga … this is really my kind of sports manga. It’s dark, gritty, and mature in the very best sense of the word … though the games are definitely dramatic, they are really not the focus of the series at all. Much more time is spent off the court than on, especially in recent volumes, and most of the drama revolves around the characters’ struggles that bring them to the game, rather than the game itself.” It’s been a year since the last volume was released, so seeing more of this series in the US really is a treat.
Readers, what looks good to you this week?