My News and Reviews
Last week saw the beginning of the most recent manga giveaway here at Experiments in Manga. This time around I’m giving away a copy of Higasa Akai’s The Royal Tutor, Volume 1 which was recently released by Yen Press in print after having previously only been available digitally. The winner will be announced this coming Wednesday, so there’s still a little time left to enter for a chance to win; simply tell me a little about one of your favorite members of royalty from a manga. Otherwise, it was fairly quiet around here last week, although one of my many cousins got married so I did spend a long weekend in Pittsburgh with my parents and siblings. Pittsburgh’s a really interesting place and we had good time. I’m really glad I wasn’t the one driving, though; Pittsburgh’s roadways are intense!
Anyway. Elsewhere online, Japanese author Hiromi Kawakami was recently interviewed for the Huffington Post–”The Stories Behind Ordinary Lives and Things.” I definitely need to read more of Kawakami’s work, but I have reviewed her novel Manazuru in the past. She’s also a frequent contributor to the literary magazine Monkey Business which I enjoy a great deal. Udon Entertainment hasn’t made many public comments regarding the status of The Rose of Versailles, but Nick Rowe recently talked to the publisher and it sounds like the manga might finally be released sometime next year. If you didn’t make it to the San Diego Comic Con, Jamie Coville has posted audio recordings of many of the panels including Manga Superheroes: Super Differences Between Japan and US. Heidi MacDonald, Deb Aoki, and Brigid Alverson recorded a few more episodes of Three Women in a Hotel Room at SDCC, too, talking about all sorts of things related to comics, manga, and pop culture in North America.
Don’t Be Cruel: Plus+, Volume 1 by Yonezou Nekota. I’ve been meaning to read Nekota’s boys’ love manga series Don’t Be Cruel, but I haven’t actually had the opportunity to yet. However, I did recently find myself in the possession of the first volume of Don’t Be Cruel: Plus+, a manga which more or less collects the main series’ side stories along with some additional content. I’m sure that Plus+ would be more meaningful to someone has read Don’t Be Cruel proper, but I was pleasantly surprised by how accessible it was even though I haven’t. (It probably does help that I have read a fair amount of boys’ love in general, though.) I don’t know how much humor is in the main series, but Plus+ is definitely not attempting to be serious. The manga basically brings Nekota’s Don’t Be Cruel doujinshi together, and some of them are intentionally unrealistic and over-the-top ridiculous, including one in which the characters switch bodies. There’s also a fair amount of sex, too. The stories focus on the physical and emotional relationships that have developed between Maya and Nemugasa, two young men with vastly different personalities. Even though I haven’t read Don’t Be Cruel, I found myself consistently amused by the surprisingly sweet mix of silliness and smuttiness in Plus+.
The Venus Wars, Volume 1 by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko. Not very many of Yasuhiko’s manga have been released in English and of those only one Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin is currently available in print. In Japan, The Venus Wars was four volumes long. One volume was released in English, but as far as I can tell, Dark Horse actually published about half of the series as individual floppy comic issues. The Venus Wars is similar in genre, tone, and illustration to Yasuhiko’s work on Gundam, but I didn’t find myself quite as engaged by it. (I may have felt differently if more had been translated.) However, I did really like the series’ setting and basic premise. After Venus is struck by an asteroid in 2003, the planet is so greatly changed that it becomes possible for humans to terraform and colonize it. By 2089, the two major powers on Venus–Ishtar and Aphrodia–are drawing closer to all-out war and Earth is far enough away that its government and military can do very little to effectively intervene. Ken Seno is a young man who has been scouted by an elite unit of the Aphrodia military. He eventually joins, although initially it seems that his decision is based less on of any sort of patriotic duty than it is on his interest in the powerful, high-tech battlebikes that will come along with his assignment.
Wolf Children: Ame & Yuki by Yu. I haven’t actually seen Mamoru Hosoda’s film Wolf Children, so I have no idea how Yu’s adaptation compares with the original anime, but I can definitely say that I enjoyed the manga. Originally a three-volume series, Wolf Children has been collected into a single, hardcover omnibus for it’s English-language release. At its heart, Wolf Children is a lovely, bittersweet tale about love, family, and growing up. Hana is a young woman in college who becomes romantically involved with a man who is half-wolf. They eventually marry and have two children together who, like their father, can also transform into wolves. After he dies unexpectedly, Hana finds it more and more difficult to provide for and protect her daughter and son. In order to keep them and their secret safe, Hana ultimately moves the family to the secluded countryside where, for the first time, they truly become part of a community. Wolf Children is largely told by Yuki, the oldest of the two siblings, tracing both her family history and her and her brother Ame’s childhood. Over time, Yuki and Ame grow and change, their lives taking drastically different paths as they struggle with being part-wolf and part-human. But through everything, their mother Hana and her immense love for them is always there.