My News and Reviews
Despite spending a long weekend in Canada for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival and generally being very busy, I still managed to post a few things here at Experiments in Manga last week. To begin with, the winner of the Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches manga giveaway was announced. The post also includes a list of some of the manga available in English that feature witches. As for reviews, two were posted. The first was for Blade of the Immortal, Volume 31: Final Curtain, the last volume of Hiroaki Samura’s epic manga series. With that post, I have now written a review for every Blade of the Immortal trade collection in English. (At some point, I do hope to work on an Adaptation Adventures feature for the Blade of the Immortal anime, as well.) Last week’s other review is only very tangentially related to manga. I finally read Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, which is simply marvelous and I highly recommend the novels. I specifically read (and reviewed) Seven Seas’ recent omnibus edition which includes hundreds of delightful illustrations by International Manga Award-winning artist Kriss Sison.
As previously mentioned, I spent a portion of last week at TCAF and so was rather preoccupied. (I hope to post some random musings about the event later this week, most likely on Friday if I can’t manage to get the feature together that quickly. Otherwise, I’ll aim for next week.) Still, I did catch some interesting things online. For example, a recent episode of the Inkstuds podcast features Anne Ishii and Graham Kolbeins, the editors of the Massive anthology, talking about gay manga, its creators, and other related topics. Tofugu posted a couple of manga-related articles recently: an interview with Araki Joh and Exploring Shueisha. A few licenses were announced last week as well. Coinciding with the news that Masashi Kishimoto will be a guest at this year’s New York Comic-Con, Viz also announced new Naruto light novels, an artbook, and a box set. Seven Seas slipped in another license announcement, too: Tsukasa Saimura’s manga series Hour of the Zombie. And not to be left behind, Yen Press also made two license announcements on Twitter: Of the Red, the Light and the Ayakashi by HaccaWorks* and Nanao, and School-Live! by Sadoru Chiba and Norimitsu Kaihou.
Attack on Titan: Before the Fall, Volume 4 written by Ryo Suzukaze, illustrated by Satoshi Shiki. Although Before the Fall has kept my attention since the beginning of the series, the fourth volume is the first volume that really excited and engaged me. Part of that is likely due to the introduction of a new character, Cardina Baumeister, who is much more capable than he initially appears. (Although, maybe it’s a bad thing that I find him more interesting than the series’ protagonist…) He and Kuklo are both prisoners who will soon be quietly and secretly sent to their deaths. The method of their planned execution? Abandonment outside of the walls, left to be consumed by the Titans. Fortunately for Kuklo, there are people who are invested in keeping him alive. But even considering that, surviving still won’t be an easy feat. At this point in the series, Before the Fall is beginning to tie in a little more closely with the established history and worldbuilding of Attack on Titan as a whole, which I like to see. The fourth volume reveals a bit more about the political and social settings of Attack on Titan in addition to having some exciting action sequences. I don’t really care much for how the Titans are drawn in Before the Fall, though. Or Sharle’s character design, for that matter.
The Seven Deadly Sins, Volumes 7-8 by Nakaba Suzuki. Happily, by the beginning of the seventh volume, the largely pointless tournament arc of Seven Deadly Sins is done and over with and the series is getting back on track with an actual plot. More of Meliodas’ personal history is revealed as are the motivations of the Holy Knights who are trying to incite a massive war. Another of the legendary Seven Deadly Sins is introduced in these volumes as well: Gowther, a rather peculiar young man known as the Goat Sin of Lust. I still haven’t been able to figure out the significance of the animals or even the sins as the relate to the warriors, which seems like a lost opportunity for Suzuki’s worldbuilding. Perhaps there really is no greater meaning, and the names are just supposed to sound cool. It’s also rather curious that, despite having been comrades who fought closely together in the past, the Seven Deadly Sins don’t seem to actually know who each other are. They don’t seem to pay attention to each other either; for example, Meliodas seems very surprised to discover a demon he is fighting used to be a Holy Knight when Gowther stated that very fact at the end of the previous chapter. But, while Seven Deadly Sins can be frustrating, there are very entertaining parts as well, like when Diane simply chucks her teammates forty miles when they need to cover distance quickly.
Your Honest Deceit, Volumes 1-2 by Sakufu Ajimine. I believe that the short boys’ love series Your Honest Deceit is the only work by Ajimine to have been released in English. It’s a largely enjoyable manga, but for me it wasn’t a particularly spectacular one. However, I did appreciate that for the most part the story revolves around grown, adult men with well-established careers. In this particular case, Your Honest Deceit is about lawyers and their professional assistants. (Granted, if I’m in the mood to read about gay lawyers, I would generally prefer Fumi Yoshinaga’s Ichigenme… The First Class Is Civil Law. Or What Did You Eat Yesterday?, for that matter.) Kuze is the younger of the two men of the series’ primary couple. He went to law school and did exceptionally well in his classes, but he seems to not be interested in becoming a lawyer and is content working as a secretary for the older Kitahara, the lawyer and object of his affections and one of the school’s lecturers. Your Honest Deceit has its serious moments and misunderstandings, but Ajimine incorporates a fair amount of humor in the manga. At the same time, I’m not really sure that I would call it a comedy; Kuze and Kitahara’s burgeoning relationship is threatened by their own jealousies as well as by interference from other people, so it can be rather dramatic at time.