We may have stepped into a wormhole this week at Midtown Comics, whose incoming manga list is comprised mainly of not-quite-fresh releases. Fortunately, this gives the Battle Robot an excuse to recommend some well-loved titles.
MICHELLE: This week’s new manga list at Midtown Comics is comprised mostly of Vertical titles, some of which have been available elsewhere for a while now. Still, this is a good opportunity to recommend No Longer Human, Usumaru Furuya’s intriguing adaptation of the novel by Osamu Dazai. Melinda and I devoted our most recent Off the Shelf column to the title, which I enjoyed far more than I expected to. Yes, it’s dark and rather depressing, but there’s enough distance and self-analysis from and by the protagonist that one can enjoy it without getting bogged down. I recommend the series heartily and look forward to volume three!
SEAN: I’m not quite sure why the 6th volume of sublime baseball manga Cross Game is three weeks later than it should have been, but that’s okay. It gives me another chance to rave about this very different type of shonen we’re seeing here. Make no mistake, this series is a classic example of everything that doesn’t sell well in North America: subtle character humor, low-key art, no fights, no supernatural content (unless you think Wakaba has reincarnated as Akane), and a bunch of baseball. And that’s what makes it one to cherish. As the market continues to contract and companies keep looking for things that the kids will buy, series like these that take chances will be fewer and farther between. Never mind that Adachi is a household name in Japan: here he’s a cult, and as such, deserves love.
KATE: Since I’m a proud owner of a cat, I feel duty-bound to recommend the seventh volume of Chi’s Sweet Home. It’s totally accessible to the feline-free, of course; I was an unabashed Dog Person at the time I reviewed volume one, and I thought it was utterly charming then. Now that I can compare my cat’s behavior with Chi’s, however, I have a new appreciation of Konami Konata’s artistry. She nails the small details, whether it’s the sound of Chi’s feet on a hard floor or Chi’s tendency to misconstrue everyday objects as “prey.” (So far, I’ve had limited experience with cat barf, though years of dog ownership have prepared me for the worst.) Not much happens in a typical volume of Chi’s Sweet Home, but the scenes are artfully staged, whether the intent is humorous or heart-tugging.
BRIGID: Hmpf. Midtown seems to be well behind the rest of the world, but given the list in front of me, I would go for one of the volumes of Twin Spica. I can’t say enough about how much I like this series, and the characters, and I also like that Vertical is releasing it in double-size volumes so we get a lot of pages for the money. Go Asumi!
MELINDA: With all these Vertical catch-up releases coming in, it’s tough to know which to choose, but I think I’ll take the opportunity to back up Michelle on this one and recommend No Longer Human. It’s the kind of series that leaves me mulling over it for days after I’ve finished a volume, so despite the fact that it “had me craving cheese puffs” (not so good for my waistline!), I highly recommend it.
Readers, what looks good to you this week?