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Pick of the Week: Barbara & More!

KATE: Once again, you could count this week’s new arrivals on one hand. But, oh, those arrivals! DMP’s long-awaited edition of Barbara is now available through traditional retail outlets. Like most of Osamu Tezuka’s mature fiction of the 1970s, it’s equally fascinating and infuriating, with passages of sublime beauty and passages of sheer, WTF?! ridiculousness. I’m not sure I “liked” it exactly; a simple “good/bad” rating really doesn’t capture Barbara‘s weirdness, or its ambition, or its compulsive readability. Perhaps the best compliment I can pay Barbara is to say that it elicited a very strong response from me every time I’ve read it—and that’s not something I can say about 98% of the manga I review.

MICHELLE: It’s not on Midtown’s list, but Amazon shows that the latest volume of Vertical’s wine-tasting/sports manga, Drops of God, is due out this Tuesday. Subtitled “New World,” this installment jumps ahead in the storyline to a segment focusing on Napa Valley wines, which should be pretty interesting and which will hopefully garner enough interest to fill in the missing volumes in the near future!

SEAN: If we’ve decided to go rogue and pick stuff in bookstores but not comic shops this week, I think I will go with the first omnibus edition of Ai Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss. A semi-sequel to a shoujo manga from Ribon (as yet unlicensed), this features a young high school girl running into a group of eccentric young fashion designers and finding that she has talent as a model… but is the world of modeling really the safest choice? Pure soap opera, with riveting characters, this was most people’s introduction to Yazawa in North America back in the Tokyopop days, and paved the way for Nana to be an even bigger hit. Glad to see Vertical putting it back in print so it can get the attention it deserves.

MELINDA: I’ll just chime in here to say that I’m with Sean! I’m all about Paradise Kiss this week!

BRIGID: I never finished the first run of Genshiken, so I think I’d spring for the second volume of the Genshiken omnibus from Kodansha. It is an otaku’s otaku story, filled with all sorts of in-jokes, but the basic premise is universal, and I’ll learn a lot from the translator’s notes.

Readers, what looks good to you this week?

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  1. Barbara was quite amazing, so glad DMP got it! Most certainly a better venture than Swallowing the Earth.
    I rented Paradise Kiss from my university library many years back, and I’m still the only person I know who didn’t like it :(

  2. I’m curious why you guys always stick to comic stores (or one specific comic store/chain? I’m honestly not totally clear on what the whole Midtown thing is) anyway. It makes more sense to me when talking about what manga is out this week to talk about all the releases, especially when Midtown often seems to have a more limited selection as opposed to what’s actually available…

    • Really, it’s just so that we’re all choosing from the same pool (though on weeks like this we often cheat). Availability is really all over the place each week when it comes to manga, depending on the store and where you live, and everything is *eventually* available at Midtown (unlike many stores, they get all new manga releases), so if we all choose that as our base, we don’t end up repeating titles week-to-week depending on what’s available near each of us (or whatever). What makes Midtown in particular an easy choice (besides the fact that they order everything), is that they post their incoming list reliably, well in advance. When I was writing for the Boston edition of the Examiner, I used to use Compicopia for my source, but honestly it was rough, since they often didn’t get their list up in time. Midtown Comics offers consistency. :) Titles from Vertical (and sometimes Kodansha) are often a week later getting to Midtown than to, say, Amazon, but all those Vertical titles will get there next week. The disadvantage to “cheating” like we have this week, is that now we run the risk of someone choosing them all over again next week, which isn’t the greatest deal for readers.


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