It’s a new year, and Midtown Comics gets things started with a hefty shipment of new manga. See what Michelle, Sean, Kate, and Melinda are looking forward to this week!
MICHELLE: It’s the first pick of the new year! There are actually several likely candidates on the list of manga due to arrive this week, including Kimi ni Todoke, One Piece, and Oresama Teacher. But I am going to have to award my pick to a shoujo manga that I continue to love even as it approaches its 30th volume: Skip Beat!. In practically any other series, the fact that the heroine, Kyoko, is still oblivious to the hero’s feelings for her would be series-droppingly annoying by this point, but somehow, Skip Beat! makes it work. It helps that Kyoko is spirited, determined, and focused on her career, and the funny moments (pretty much any time Kyoko wears a chicken costume) are also worth the price of admission.
KATE: I’m just getting up to speed with Skip Beat!, so my vote goes to Government Issue: Comics for the People, 1940s – 2000s. This anthology has actually been available for a couple of months, so it’s a little surprising to see it appear on the Midtown Comics list this week. But if you missed it when it was originally released in November, now’s your chance to see how the American government has harnessed the comics medium to educate its constituents about a range of topics, from nuclear war to AIDS. The book is divided into four sections: comics about the military; comics about employment and economics; comics about civil defense, safety, and health; and comics about landscapes and lifestyles. Though the contextual essays are a little too brief to be truly revelatory, the comics speak for themselves, offering readers a fascinating window into twentieth-century history.
SEAN: It’s getting so that every new volume of Oresama Teacher is making me even happier than the last. The author has a flair for writing very dumb characters in such a way that you not only like them but root for them, and yet at the same time your jaw drops every time they miss the blatantly obvious. It also manages to ride a very fine line, not quite being supportive of young teenagers being in gangs, but at the same time showing the deep bonds of friendship that exist within such structures. As for Mafuyu’s various relationships with the various males in the series, I can honestly say I have absolutely no idea who she’ll end up with, if anyone. Which is a rarity for most manga both shonen and shoujo, where the end pairing always seems set in stone from the very beginning. And she kicks everyone’s ass as well. Fantastic series.
MELINDA: Though this week is chock full of (mostly Viz) goodness, I find myself drifting to a book I picked up from last week’s list, volume two of Takako Shimura’s Wandering Son from Fantagraphics. I absolutely loved the first volume of this series, and I was thrilled to see this pop up a couple of weeks ahead of what I’d thought was its official release date. This is one of those highly-anticipated series that turned out to be even better than I expected, which is a pretty rare treat. Though its beautiful hardcover presentation puts it in a higher price bracket than most manga, it’s required reading as far as I’m concerned, deserving of a nice, long shelf life. Definitely worth saving up for.
Readers, what looks good to you this week?