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PotW: Insects, Dogs, & Other Stories

It’s a quiet week at Midtown Comics, but the battle robot’s choices are clear!

MELINDA: We’ve hit a slow week again at Midtown Comics, but there’s at least one standout in the mix. This week, we’ll see the release of Osamu Tezuka’s Book of Human Insects, which was announced in Vertical’s panel at last year’s New York Comic Con. There’s no way I’d be willing to miss this, though it’s an interesting pick for me. I have a feeling it’ll be one of those books that blows me away with its artistry while simultaneously killing me with its outlook on humanity. A bleak Tezuka can be hard on us optimistic types, but it’s impossible to reject his genius, and I’d be a fool to try. This is absolutely my must-buy manga for the week.

DAVID: I should try and spread the wealth, but I just have to second Melinda’s choice. This is my very favorite kind of Tezuka: crazy plotting and intense social commentary, with some indelible characters. I found Ayako disappointing, but Book of Human Insects is right up my alley.

KATE: Since David and Melinda have taken up the cause of Human Insects, I’m going to plug Stargazing Dog. I don’t know if Takahashi Murakami was inspired by Vittorio DeSica’s Umberto D., but like that 1951 film, Stargazing Dog features a down-on-his-luck man whose only companion is his dog. Yes, I know, that sounds horribly mawkish, but Murakami manages to tug on the heartstrings without being sentimental. More impressive still, he pulls off that feat while allowing us to be privy to the dog’s thoughts, something DeSica didn’t have the stones to try. Highly recommended for dog-fanciers, though be warned: have tissues handy, as you will need them.

MICHELLE: Aw man, I was going to pick Stargazing Dog! I guess I will just have to second what Kate says here, and note that despite the fact that I am a bona fide cat lover, I am totally weak against endearing canines in fictional form. One interesting thing to note is that at the same time that Stargazing Dog is coming out in print, courtesy of NBM Publishing (who’ve also released some quality manhwa), it’s also available on as Star Protector Dog.

SEAN: If I had to rely on Midtown’s lists for my PotW, I’d never mention Kodansha at all. And I already mentioned Sailor Moon and Sailor V two weeks ago. So I will once again go to the Negima well. Last volume was rather depressing, with all sorts of horrible things happening to our heroes. Naturally, that means that this volume is the one where our heroes step up and start kicking ass. I feel I should note that Volume 31 features my favorite scene in all of Negima to date. A scene so awesome that the entire cast comments later on about how awesome it was. And yes, there will be more fanservicey nudity here too. It’s Negima, that’s how it rolls.

Readers, what looks good to you this week?

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  1. Man, what is taking Amazon so damn long to get in their Book of Human Insects? It was estimated to be at my house by today! But my friend said he got a copy on eBay, and there was a page print error where two pages got printed earlier then they should’ve, then were duplicated (in the right place) later. He’s not sure if any pages were left out as a result. And the pages were across from each other, not a front and back page, so it can’t be fixed by just ripping it out. I’m wondering if said problem my friend brought up is why I’m still waiting on something from Amazon of all places.

  2. Book of Human Insects is really awesome. I truly think it’s the most accessible Tezuka title of the Vertical line, insofar as appealing to adult non-comic book readers. I could easily picture this story as a novel, one of those airport page turners. Of course, Tezuka’s got such a knack for visuals, it wouldn’t be the same without his trippy panels. yeah, it’s very pessimistic, but I actually find the heroine tremendously entertaining. And funny! In a black humour sort of way. So it’s not all bleak, if you have a nasty sense of humour.

  3. I’m very interested in Stargazing Dog, but considering I can’t watch 10 minutes of Bolt without tearing up, it may not be the best choice for me.

    • Katherine Dacey says:

      Hi, Angela! I’m the same way: you’d think I was watching Schindler’s List from the amount of Kleenex I use whenever I sit through a movie with a dog, a cat, an elephant, a chimpanzee, or a dolphin in peril. (I found the ending of Marley & Me positively traumatic, even though it was telegraphed from a mile away, and handled in a very mawkish fashion. Still!) But if you can accept the fact that Stargazing Dog will make you teary, it’s worth a read.


  1. […] we delve into the current ComicList, I just have to reinforce my Midtown Comics Pick of the Week: Osamu Tezuka’s Book of Human Insects (Vertical) is amazingly good pulp. Of course, I’m rather […]

  2. […] As Sailor Moon finally arrives in his comics shop, David Welsh takes a look at the best of this week’s new arrivals, and all the Manga Bookshelf bloggers discuss their Pick of the Week. […]

  3. […] chose Human Insects as a Pick of the Week just over a month ago, and at the time my expectation was that it would “be one of those […]

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