It’s a pretty full week for manga, according to Midtown Comics. So bundle up, pour some cocoa, and take a look at this week’s Picks from the Manga Bookshelf bloggers and special guest Michelle Smith!
From Michelle: Wow, there’s quite a lot coming out this week! I’ll be buying several items on the list—I’ve been waiting for the second volume of Close the Last Door for a long time, and hoarding volumes of Gakuen Alice for probably about as long—but the release that most excites me is the second volume of Yuuki Fujimoto’s The Stellar Six of Gingacho. The first volume was surprisingly charming, and actually made me verklempt in its portrayal of six friends who drifted apart in middle school but reunite to help a neighbor in need. Bonus points for its positive depiction of an overweight character! I’ve been eagerly awaiting this second volume, so its purchase is a no-brainer!
From MJ: I have to agree with Michelle, there’s a lot worth buying this week! Big draws for me include new volumes of Bride of the Water God (Dark Horse), Pandora Hearts (Yen Press), and Michelle’s Pick, The Stellar Six of Gingacho (TOKYOPOP). I think this week, though, my Pick will have to be one that doesn’t appear on Midtown Comics’ list, but whose arrival was announced by the publisher via Twitter, volume thirteen of Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack from Vertical, Inc. I got into Black Jack later than most. After receiving a copy of volume ten, I marathoned the series from the beginning to catch up, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Black Jack (like Dororo) is rare among what I’ve read of Tezuka’s work as a series I’d feel comfortable recommending to nearly anyone (teen or older), even as a first comic. It’s immediately compelling, easy to jump into at nearly any point, and though the story and its protagonist can both get quite dark, its episodic structure allows that to be consumed in small doses, to taste.
From David: I’m going to step out of my usual wheelhouse, whatever that is, and pick a yaoi title this week. It’s not that there isn’t a lot of manga in this category that I enjoy; it’s more a case that I tend to have to put titles through a fairly careful vetting process to make sure they eschew some popular plot elements that can sour a yaoi title for me. But based on some Twitter chatter from reliable sources like Kristin Bomba and Danielle Leigh, I’m going to make a point of seeking out Kou Yoneda’s No Touching At All (Digital Manga). According to Danielle, this one can be summarized thusly: “Adults acting like adults fall in love.” And that is pretty much exactly my yaoi wheelhouse. I’m very favorably inclined toward salaryman yaoi.
From Kate: For me, this week’s must-buy title is the eighth volume of Pet Shop of Horrors Tokyo (Tokyopop). The premise is pure comeuppance theater: troubled people seek out the eccentric Count D, who furnishes them with exotic “pets” — usually, a demon or magical creature with shape-shifting abilities — that are always more than the buyer bargained for. What makes these little morality plays work so well is that Matsuri Hino doesn’t just punish her characters for being weak, vain, or foolish; she explores what drove them to seek Count D’s help in the first place. The results are much more nuanced and unpredictable than most stories in the wish-granting-emporium genre, and can be genuinely moving. Best of all, you don’t need any background on Count D to fully appreciate what’s happening; aside from a few perfunctory scenes documenting his run-ins with local authorities, the stories are self-contained.
So readers, what are your picks this week?