David leads us off this week, in our second group Pick of the Week with the Manga Bookshelf gang & special guest Michelle Smith! This week comes down to a showdown between a new series and a long-running favorite. Who will come out on top?
From David: I’m very happy to go first this week, because I’m fairly sure I won’t be the only person to choose the second volume of Mitsuru Adachi’s Cross Game (Viz), and I don’t want to seem like a copycat. I was so pleasantly surprised by the first multi-volume collection, with its slice-of-life blend of comedy and drama. If the prospect of a story about sports (baseball, in this case) triggers your fight-or-flight instinct, and I would be very much in sympathy if it does, I urge you to try and suppress the response. Adachi is the real deal as a manga-ka: a versatile original who earns laughs and tears with equal facility and surprising subtlety. Come to think of it, I don’t care if I seem like a copycat. The more people who sing this book’s praises, the merrier. Looking at Cross Game‘s inclusion in Deb Aoki’s round-up of the Critics’ Choice: Best Manga of 2010, it seems like the merriment is off to a great start.
From MJ: I expect you’re right, David, though it won’t be me (only because I haven’t read the first volume!), and in fact, it’s a bit of a difficult week for me, with nothing from ComicList piquing my interest, though I did find an exciting item elsewhere. I took a peek at Comicopia’s list where they claim to be expecting the second volume of Yumemakura Baku and Jiro Taniguchi’s Summit of the Gods from Fanfare-Ponent Mon. The series’ first volume was stunningly beautiful, and despite the fact that it sometimes feels like an illustrated novel rather than a comic (I’ll point to Kate’s review for a thoughtful discussion of the series’ strengths and flaws), it’s definitely a must-read. This volume has been due out for quite a while, so I was surprised to see it on the list. I’ll definitely be looking to pick one up!
From Kate: Cross Game and Summit of the Gods are both on my must-read list, but I’m going with a sentimental favorite this week: InuYasha. The final volume — that’s number 56, for folks who are still keeping track after all these years — arrives in stores on Wednesday. After so many story arcs, villains, and recovered jewel shards, it will be interesting to see how Rumiko Takahashi brings the whole thing to a close. I suspect that many readers have expectations for how and with whom the characters ride off into the sunset, making it a sure bet that someone will be disappointed in the conclusion. (Look for a surge in InuYasha fan-fic in the coming weeks…) I’m confident, however, that Takahashi will deliver a satisfying finale. InuYasha gets kicked around a lot by manga cognescenti– “It’s not as good as Lum or Ranma or Maison Ikkoku,” they insist — but InuYasha represents Takahashi at the top of her game, not least for its terrific cast of characters. There are manga I like more than InuYasha, but there are few fictional characters — in comics, anyway — that have as strong a claim on my loyalty as InuYasha and Sango.
From Michelle: For me it’s a toss-up between Cross Game—the bittersweet first volume of which I truly loved—and the final volume of InuYasha, a series I’ve been following for years. Mitsuru Adachi versus Rumiko Takahashi… who will reign supreme? While I love both equally, I think in the end I’m also going to have to come down on the side of InuYasha. Like Kate, it’s the characters that have earned my loyalty here rather than ingenious plotting—indeed, the series is rather notoriously repetitive—but I am looking forward to the storyline actually coming to a point where the nefarious villain is finally unable to escape. Perhaps the best testament I can make in favor of this series is that, even though it’s 56 volumes long, I can still easily imagine the day when I will undertake a marathon reread and enjoy luxuriating in its comfy goodness.
Readers, what’s your Pick of the Week?