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Pick of the Week: Cross Game & More

This week, Midtown Comics plays catch-up with several months’ worth of Kodansha Comics releases, giving the Battle Robot plenty to choose from. Check out our picks below!

KATE: Though I’m not sure why Kodansha felt it was necessary to release a third edition of Gon, I never miss an opportunity to recommend this beautifully illustrated series to new readers. Billed as “the tiny terror from the Jurassic era,” Gon is a little orange t-rex who has a talent for getting into trouble. He tangles with other predators; he eats psychedelic mushrooms; he swims with sharks; he builds a beaver dam. What makes Gon work are the illustrations: Masasahi Tanaka resists the urge to put words into his characters’ mouths, instead relying on his cartooning chops to convey what the participants are feeling and thinking. As a result, this animal-centric series is never too cute or saccharine, capturing the natural world in all its raw (and sometimes comic) glory.

MICHELLE: This week’s chart at Midtown Comics looks pretty bizarre, since they are finally getting in all those Kodansha releases they were missing before. I advocate strongly for quite a few of them—Sailor Moon, Arisa, Shugo Chara!…—but I am going to have to award my pick to the fifth volume of Cross Game, which comes out this week along with several other of VIZ’s Shonen Sunday titles. I enthused about this particular volume in a recent Off the Shelf column, where I concluded my remarks by saying, “If you like sports manga, you will like Cross Game. And if you don’t like sports manga, you will still like Cross Game.” And lo, Melinda subsequently read the first volume and proved me right!

SEAN: I hate to duplicate, but I’m going with Cross Game as well. This volume introduces a new plot twist that at first seems like the most cliched thing a reader has ever seen, but Adachi is an expert, and the way things play out is fascinating. The reactions of all the characters are one of the best reasons to get it, as Adachi milks so much from his minimalistic faces. Best of all, there’s a promise of more baseball. After finishing off Eyeshield this week, I’m in the moon for some more sports, and Adachi’s baseball games are thrilling stuff.

MELINDA: Honestly, I’m really tempted to third Cross Game, but I guess in the interest of spreading the love, I’ll go with volume three of Kim Hyung-Min and Yang Kyung-Il’s March Story. This dark, whimsical series got off to a shaky start, but its third volume is really solid, making the most of Kim Hyung-Min’s episodic storytelling and Yang Kyung-Il’s intricate artwork. There is perhaps a little less through-story than usually suits my taste, but though this volume focuses less heavily on March and her history than either of the earlier volumes, there are enough little nuggets of new information to get me by. And the stories we do get here really work, with a level of consistency absent from the first two volumes. In the beginning, I stuck with this series for the beautiful artwork. Now I’m in for good.

DAVID: I’m going to surprise myself by not third-ing Cross Game (SECRET CODE: I’m totally actually third-ing Cross Game by claiming that I’m not) by giving a little leg-up to a new shônen series from Kodansha by Ryou Ryumon and Kouji Megumi, Bloody Monday. Now, I wasn’t wildly enthusiastic about this book in last week’s Bookshelf Briefs, but I have to say that there’s always room for another stylish mystery featuring super-smart teens, which Viz seems to realize, given the fact that they keep re-releasing Death Note over and over again. The creators do a nice job setting up their complicated story and making a persuasive case that the stakes are high, something not everyone manages in a first volume. I wasn’t precisely blown away by the series debut, but I like mysteries, and I like comics about smart kids who have unique skills, and Bloody Monday fits both bills.

Readers, what looks good to you this week?

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  1. My pick for this week is volume 17 of Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys. Just five more volumes before this great series comes to an end and then it is time for the 2-volume 21st Century Boys. I am so excited to see how everything will be wrapped up.

    • Katherine Dacey says:

      I read the first ten or twelve volumes of 20th Century Boys, and while I loved it, I decided that I would wait until the series was finished before I sat down with it again. My plan is to read the whole thing in a week or two, so that I can really savor the skill with which it’s written. That’s what I did with Monster and Pluto, and I can’t wait to do it again with 20th Century Boys. Now if only someone would license Billy Bat

      • That’s what I did with Monster, too, and it was worth it. Still, I feel left out a little that I have no idea what’s going on with 20th Century Boys, so I may try to tackle most of the volumes at some point.


  1. […] The Manga Bookshelf team discusses their latest Pick of the Week. […]

  2. […] Melinda Beasi an entry point to this great baseball theory, so I think the Manga Bookshelf is now a full-fledged Cross Game Borg. Which is only appropriate, since the series is […]

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