My News and Reviews
Last week at Experiments in Manga the winner of the Tokyo ESP manga giveaway was announced. The post also includes a list of some of the manga available in English about psychics and/or espers. That was it for the blog, but as I previously mentioned, I had an all-day job interview last week which took up a fair amount of my time and attentions. Well, it turns out that they liked me, and I liked them, so it looks like I’ll be starting in a new position at a different library in May. It’s both very exciting and very nerve-wracking, but I think (hope!) it’s a good move for me. My day job will still have absolutely nothing to do with manga, though.
Elsewhere online last week there was ICv2’s annual Manga Week. A number of interesting manga-focused articles and interviews were posted, including a mention of some of Vertical Comics’ most recent licensing announcements: Arakawa Under the Bridge by Hikari Nakamura (the one I’m most excited for), Gundam Wing: The Glory of Losers by Tomofumi Ogasawara, Helvetica Standard by Keiichi Arawi, and Voices of a Distant Star by Makoto Shinkai and Mizu Sahara (technically a rescue as the manga was originally published in English by TokyoPop back in the day). Kodansha Comics recently made some announcements at ECCC. In addition to adding even more fantastic series to its digital initiative, Kodansha Comics is working on a Ghost in the Shell anthology similar to the Attack on Titan Anthology released last year. Should be interesting!
Anonymous Noise, Volume 1 by Ryoko Fukuyama. I will pretty much give any manga a try if it’s even tangentially related to music, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that I would be interested in Anonymous Noise. The series follows Nino Arisugawa (called Alice, by some) who loves to sing. Expressing herself through music is an important part of who she is, but perhaps more importantly it’s how she connects to the people who mean the most to her. First there was Momo, Nino’s close childhood friend with a proclivity for making bad puns, and then there was Yuzu, who helped soothe Nino’s heartbreak with his own music when Momo’s family unexpectedly moves away. But after developing feelings for Nino, Yuzu suddenly disappears from her life, too. Fast forward a few years and the three of them are attending the same high school, although initially they don’t realize it. Most of the first volume feels like a prologue more than anything else, so I’m curious to see the direction the story proper will take from here. In addition to music, it seems that unrequited love will also be a major theme of Anonymous Noise. Complicated feelings of love, longing, loss, and loneliness set the tone for the series.
Big Kids by Michael DeForge. Due to my interest in alternative and independent comics, I’ve been aware of DeForge’s work for quite some time. However, I’ve never actually read any of DeForge’s comics until picking up Big Kids. To be honest, I think I was probably a little intimidated since DeForge is such a highly acclaimed and well-regarded artist. I recently came across Big Kids on display at my local comic book shop where flipped through a few pages before putting it back. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it and so ultimately brought a copy home with me. The small volume’s bright yellow cover burned itself onto my retinas, and it’s content has burned itself onto my soul. I’ve read through the comic several times now and I still can’t stop thinking about it. I don’t know that I completely understand everything about it, but Big Kids is a work that is both surreal, verging on abstract, and powerful. In part, the comic about growing up. After being dumped by his boyfriend, Adam wakes up one day to discover that he has become a tree. The world itself is still the same, it’s just that Adam now views it from a vastly different perspective. But while being a tree has its benefits, there’s also a sense of sadness and loss associated with it.
Haikyu!!, Volumes 6-9 by Haruichi Furudate. Out of all of the sports manga currently being released in print in English, Haikyu!! is definitely one of my favorites. Admittedly, I was a little worried that as the series entered its first tournament arc and became more focused on the games themselves I would lose some of my enthusiasm (I’m not especially interested in volleyball), but my fears appear to have been mostly unfounded. Occasionally Haikyu!! will get a little bogged down in the particulars of volleyball, but this is usually completely offset by the series’ incredibly engaging characters. I’m immensely enjoying seeing them grow and evolve not just as players, but as people. I absolutely love the manga’s approach to and emphasis on teamwork. Some of the characters are prodigies, but it is made very clear that a single person cannot win on their own. Often it’s the unassuming, “ordinary” players who dramatically shift the course and tone of a game. Everyone has their own talents and abilities and everyone has an important role to play. Haikyu!! may be a series about volleyball, but its themes and message are much more universal than that. The manga has great positivity and energy which makes it fun to read, too.