My News and Reviews
Last week I posted two reviews. The first was for The Vast Spread of the Seas, the third novel in Fuyumi Ono’s fantasy series The Twelve Kingdoms. I’ve really been enjoying reading The Twelve Kingdoms and this volume was no exception. I also reviewed Jen Lee Quick’s Off*Beat, Volume 1. Originally published by Tokyopop, the recently established Chromatic Press has rescued the series and I couldn’t be happier. The new Chromatic editions also include some additional bonus content as well.
Elsewhere online: Xavier Guilbert has published his interview with Taiyo Matsumoto from the 2013 Toronto Comic Arts Festival. The most recent episode of the Comic Books Are Burning In Hell podcast focuses on Suehiro Maruo. Kodansha Comics is offering two digital samplers containing the complete first chapters of many of its series. The Real sampler collects chapters from Kodansha’s “real-life” manga: Arisa, Bloody Monday, Danza, Genshiken, Genshiken: Second Season, I Am Here, Kitchen Princess, Missions of Love, and Vinland Saga. The Unreal sampler includes chapters from Kodansha’s fantasy, science fiction, and supernatural series: @ Full Moon, Attack on Titan, Cage of Eden, Fairy Tail, Mardock Scramble, Ninja Girls, No. 6, Sankarea: Undying Love, and Until the Full Moon.
Finally, this week is the Yun Kouga Manga Moveable Feast! Melinda Beasi of Manga Bookshelf is hosting this round and has already posted a marvelous introduction. For my contribution to the Feast I’ll be reviewing the first Loveless omnibus later this week. Loveless was originally published in English by Tokyopop, but Viz Media rescued the license last year (which made me very happy.) Although I enjoy Loveless, I haven’t actually read any of Kouga’s other manga. I look forward to seeing what everyone else has to say about her work.
Dog X Cat, Volumes 1-3 by Yoshimi Amasaki. Junya and Atsu have been friends since they were young. They’re in college now and their friendship becomes a little more complicated when Junya lets it slip that he’s actually in love with Atsu. Dog X Cat might not have the most original plot–I’ve seen the friends becoming lovers storyline many a time–but the two young men have a charming relationship with each other and a lot of sex. (Dog X Cat is part of Digital Manga’s more explicit 801 imprint, after all.) Some chapters are told from Junya’s perspective while others are from Atsu’s. It’s nice to see both sides of their story. Dog X Cat is an ongoing series; the fourth volume is scheduled to be released in English in 2014.
Mardock Scramble, Volumes 5-7 by Yoshitoki Oima. I’ve read Tow Ubukata’s original Mardock Scramble, but somehow managed to forget how pivotal child and sexual abuse was to the plot. The manga handles it fairly well and hasn’t turned it into something titillating. One thing that I didn’t forget from the novels was the lengthy casino scene. In particular, nearly two hundred pages worth of Blackjack which sorely tried my patience. Although some of the finer details and plot complications are glossed over in Oima’s adaptation, I much preferred reading the two volumes of manga covering the same material. This left one volume for Oima to bring everything to a quickly paced, action-packed close. For the most part, Oima’s interpretation of Mardock Scramble largely succeeds.
No. 5, Volumes 1-2 by Taiyo Matsumoto. Only two volumes of No. 5 were ever released in English in print. However, the entire series is now available digitally (on a platform I can’t use). I’ve come to love Matsumoto’s work in general and I particularly enjoy No. 5. The story follows Number Five, a member of the Rainbow Council of the International Peackeeping Forces, a small group of people with superhuman abilities. He’s fallen in love and gone rogue and now his teammates must hunt him down. While Number One and the rest of the Rainbow Council try to maintain control of the situation, there are others who are making the argument that the group is obviously dangerous and should no longer exist.
Black Lagoon, Episodes 13-24 directed by Sunao Katabuchi. Although I still enjoyed the second half of Black Lagoon anime, for some reason that I can’t identify I didn’t like it quite as much as the first. The anime follows the manga fairly closely, but takes a few of its own liberties while keeping the same tone as the original. I do think that I still prefer the manga slightly more than the anime, but the anime is entertaining as well. Additionally, the action is a little clearer and easier to follow in the anime. And I continue to be impressed by the sound design. The Black Lagoon anime tends to be violent and bloody and even the protagonists aren’t really “good guys.” They can be just as vicious as the other people they come up against.