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Pick of the Week: Saiunkoku, NonNonBa, FLCL

KATE: Looking over Midtown Comics‘ brief shipping list, I’m not particularly interested in Blood Blockade Battlefront—though I admit it’s fun to say—and I haven’t read FLCL yet, so my pick is volume seven of The Story of Saiunkoku. I realize that “spunky” is one of the most abused adjectives in the manga critic’s lexicon, but Shurei, Saiunkoku‘s heroine, is spunky in the best sense of the word: she’s smart, determined, and upbeat without being Pollyannish. That she’s surrounded by an agreeable cast of bishonen makes Saiunkoku a special treat; no matter what your preference, there’s a cast member who will make your heart sing. (I’m a Minister Ko partisan, FWIW.) I’ve fallen a little behind with this series, but the release of a new volume offers me a fine incentive for diving back in.

SEAN: Yeah, I think I’m going to have to give Midtown’s list a pass this week. Half of what I’m getting is last week’s order late, anyway. I am excited for the appearance of Shigeru Mizuki’s NonNonBa from Drawn & Quarterly, though, which Diamond says it is shipping to me this week. We’re in a bit of a yokai renaissance right now, what with Natsume’s Book of Friends, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, and Kamisama Kiss. But no one can possibly top the creator of Gegege no Kitaro for yokai, both in scares, laughs, and pure strangeness. This book is half-autobiographical, and also touches on what life was like growing up in pre-World War II Japan. It’s a must buy.

MELINDA: Technically, I’m with Kate. The one book I know I’ll enjoy from this week’s tiny list is The Story of Saiunkoku. It’s one of my favorite currently-running shoujo series—probably one of my top three or four, in fact. But since Kate has already recommended it so thoroughly (my heart is singing already), I’ll throw my vote to FLCL. This is a bit of a risky pick for me. I enjoyed the anime series when I first saw it several years ago, despite the fact that it contains a number of elements that generally lose with me (mecha, maids, and a sort of fetishization of teen depression are just a few). And though I don’t tend to have a lot of confidence in manga adapted from anime (as opposed to the other way around), I’ll give this one a shot.

Readers, what looks good to you this week?

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  1. And here I thought I had my list of single omnibus manga (non re-issues) all finished up for the year when Nonnonba comes along and says “Nope! Buy this one too!”
    It is a big year for single big omnibuses though, there’s Olympos, Barbara, Message to Adolf, Sakuran, and Heart of Thomas (the only one I have on pre-order, which just got delayed to October), at least that’s everything I have off the top of my head.

  2. Holding it in my hand unread but it looks oh so enticing and the back cover holds a reference to my beloved Baudelaire so it’s got to be The Flowers of Evil by Shuzo Oshimi.

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