My News and Reviews
Last week was the first week of the temporary adjustment in my posting schedule at Experiments in Manga. I’ve got a lot going on right now and not enough time to do everything that I need to or would like. Hopefully I’ll have some good news to share soon, though! (I don’t want to jinx anything by saying too much, yet.) Anyway! Last week I reviewed Mushishi, Volume 6 by Yuki Urushibara as part of my monthly horror manga review project. I’ve read the series before so I already know that I like it (in fact, it’s a favorite of mine), but I’ve really been enjoying my reread.
A few interesting things that I came across online last week: Netcomics hinted on Twitter that it would have some exciting licenses to announce soon. Dark Horse has confirmed that it will be releasing Kenji Tsuruta’s Wandering Island. And Kodansha Comics has licensed Hiro Mashima’s Fairy Tail Zero prequel. The English Light Novels site has an interview with light novel translator Stephen Paul. And Shojo Beat posted the first part of an interview with Arina Tanemura.
Monster Musume: Everyday Life with Monster Girls, Volume 4 by Okayado. I suspect it’s at least in part due to the enormous success of Monster Musume that Seven Seas has been able to expand its catalog and take a few more risks with its licenses of late. Monster Musume has been a bestseller since the release of its very first volume. I’m not exactly a member of the manga’s target audience though and so I haven’t really been keeping up with it. But I can easily understand why it’s so popular. And there actually are a few things that I like about the series in addition to the things that I don’t particularly care for. I enjoy the absolutely atrocious puns and wordplay, for one. I also appreciate the variety of monster girls and that new races are always being introduced. Considering the highly-sexualized nature of the manga and the obsession with breasts and nipples, the story can at times be surprisingly sweet and endearing. Kimihito is a legitimately nice guy who honestly cares for the well-being of the liminals that he meets and is put in charge of. Ultimately however, there’s no question that Monster Musume is an ecchi harem fantasy.
Noragami: Stray God, Volumes 6-7 by Adachitoka. The fifth volume of Noragami ended with one heck of a cliffhanger so I was very much looking forward to reading more of the series. The sixth volume is excellent and probably my favorite volume of the manga to date. It brings Yato and Bishamonten’s battle to an effective close, but there will still be lingering consequences and repercussions of the fight that will have to be dealt with moving forward. After the intense drama, emotions, and action of the sixth volume, Adachitoka takes the seventh in a different direction, bringing back some of the manga’s humor and goofiness while still building the underlying tension of the series. As the next story arc begins, new characters and antagonists are introduced and additional backstories are explored. One particularly important revelation is that Yato’s very existence is somewhat precarious, which is why maintaining his ties to other people is so critical. I’ve largely enjoyed the series since the beginning, but Noragami is starting to get really good. I’m like seeing the evolution of the characters and the changing dynamics of their relationships.
Showa: A History of Japan, 1953-1989 by Shigeru Mizuki. Each volume of Showa has been massive, but this final installment covers the longest period of time. In fact, the fourth volume provides an outline of more years than the first three volumes combined. 1953-1989 follows Japan through the country’s postwar period, the falls and rises of the economy, and the political turmoil and change of the era. Woven into the history of Japan is Mizuki’s own personal story. One of the reasons that the fourth volume of Showa especially appealed to me was that it explores a bit of manga history as well, following Mizuki’s start and growth as a mangaka including the management of a studio of assistants. Sanpei Shirato, Ryoichi Ikegami, Yoshiharu Tsuge, and many other prominent creators and editors all make appearances. Mizuki’s interest in yokai is shown to become increasingly important as well. The final volume of Showa also includes some of Mizuki’s color work, which I’d never seen before. Mizuki’s black and white manga is great, but some of the color illustrations are simply stunning.