The choices are meaty this week at Midtown Comics, and choosing just one has given most of us a bit of heartache. See what we settled on below!
SEAN: As I noted in my shipping post earlier in the week, Fullmetal Alchemist is up to its penultimate volume. And you know what that means. That means the apocalypse is upon us. I had missed this series for quite some time because of a plot point early on that frankly creeped me out so much that I never wanted to go near the thing again (you can probably guess which one), but I have caught up, and am glad I did. With lots of awesome moments (both for men and women alike – FMA has some of the most badass heroines in manga) and a plot that rarely gets sidetracked, we should be headed up to one hell of a finale. If everyone can survive this book, that is.
MJ: I’m really torn this week, because though I feel it’s urgent that someone choose the fourth volume of Natsume Ono’s House of Five Leaves, if I really could buy only one volume of manga this week, it would have to be Fullmetal Alchemist. One of this series’ biggest draws for me is the fact that Hiromu Arakawa has really never strayed from her heroes’ primary objective, which means that we’re truly reaching the climax of the entire series. And with so much work and planning put toward building this up, you better believe it’s a doozy. I decided a long while ago that I was in this series for the long haul, and I’ve never regretted it. There’s no way I’d give it up now, even for the likes of Ono. Thankfully, in the real world, I don’t actually have to choose.
DAVID: It is hard to pass up on either Fullmetal or Five Leaves, but I can never seem to resist throwing my support to boutique publisher Fanfare/Ponent Mon and its mainstay manga-ka, Jiro Taniguchi. Now, I unexpectedly find myself liking Taniguchi’s manly-man meditations, books like The Quest for the Missing Girl, just a little bit more than his more subdued pieces like A Distant Neighborhood. In my perfect world, we’d be getting a new volume of The Summit of the Gods before the debut of A Zoo in Winter, which is basically a portrait of the artist as a young assistant. That’s just splitting hairs, obviously, as anything by Taniguchi hovers near the top of my must-have list, and I know we’ll be getting more Summit before too long. Fans of Bakuman might appreciate this alternate take on the subject, which will probably be more Sundance Channel than Shonen Jump.
KATE: I second David’s recommendation! I, too, like Taniguchi’s manly-man manga, whether he’s paying tribute to film noir (Benkei in New York, Hotel Harbour View) or writing a man-against-nature saga (Summit of the Gods), but I think Taniguchi is at his best when writing about more prosaic subjects. A Distant Neighborhood, for example, was a lovely meditation on adolescent awkwardness, while A Zoo in Winter, his latest, is about joining the world of adult responsibility. There are a few overdetermined moments, but on the whole, it’s a thoughtful, semi-autobiographical story about a young man who discovers that being a manga-ka is a lot more work than he ever imagined. Taniguchi’s art is crisp and evocative, and the script heartfelt but never saccharine.
MICHELLE: I intend to buy every single book mentioned above, but I’m going to have to award my pick to volume seven of Yuu Watase’s Arata: The Legend. I dove into this series just recently and fell in love with it in a big way. It’s got all your shounen adventure trappings—a modern-day teen in a fantasy world who is chosen by the most awesomest sword-god around and tasked with saving the princess—but with a real shoujo flair, as romances gradually develop, past trauma plays a part in present conflicts, and handsome guys regularly walk around bearing their studly midriffs. While I like certain of Watase’s shoujo works—I steered clear of Absolute Boyfriend but positively adore Fushigi Yûgi—I’m starting to think that shounen is where she really belongs!
Readers, what looks good to you this week?