SEAN: After a very, very busy first two weeks of November, you’d think the manga industry would let us off easy before Thanksgiving, but no. There’s an awful lot to bite into this week.
First of all, Midtown seems to have caught up with Diamond Comics. If you’re looking for the 2nd week Viz releases or the Seven Seas titles, we discussed them last week.
That still leaves a lot. Starting, as ever, with Dark Horse, who are bringing out the first of their Trigun Maximum volumes. While I always tended to prefer the anime adaptation of this story, I do still have a soft spot for Vash and company, and if you haven’t tried the title out yet, you might want to. Meryl and Milly are a stitch!
MICHELLE: I never have been able to muster much enthusiasm for Trigun, even though I have vaguely good feelings towards it.
SEAN: Digital Manga Publishing has one BL titles and two non. Starting with the BL, we first have Honey Smile, a title from Nihon Bungeisha’s Karen Magazine. Aside from appealing to women named Karen, the premise sounds quite sweet, and the cover only adds to that impression.
MJ: It’s so rare that I like the cover for a BL manga (even when I end up liking the manga), but for once this actually does look like My Kind of BL, right from the start. I’ll definitely be looking out for this.
MICHELLE: Oh, that *is* pretty adorable-looking!
SEAN: I had thought that Lovephobia, Vol. 2 of which is out next week, fell into the BL category as well, mostly as it runs in the hideously named Comic B’s Log KYUN!. But it’s apparently a regular old shoujo title that features vampires. As you know, Congressional Act Pub-L 111-369 decrees that all vampire manga must be licensed for North American audiences, so here we are. Do they sparkle?
MJ: Hmmm, I’m torn between my love for the words “old shoujo” and my increasing weariness with vampires. Which feeling will win?
MICHELLE: I keep mentally conflating Lovephobia with Toko Kawai’s Loveholic, so I’ve been thinking of it as BL as well.
SEAN: I’m not used to seeing DMP dipping its toes into the waters of Media Factory’s Comic Alive, which is usually the purview of our friends at Seven Seas. Here they are, though, with Vol. 1 of Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat. It apparently features a perverted protagonist *and* a tsundere, but we’ll give it a shot anyway.
MJ: This sounds like it could either be awesome or horrible, and I’ll probably wait for someone else to read it first. I’m looking at you, Sean.
MICHELLE: Ugh. Not for me.
SEAN: 3 titles next week (well, this week, but it’s Kodansha, we know the deal) from Kodansha Comics. Animal Land has hit Vol. 6. For some reasons, I always assume this title is geared towards little kids in Japan, but it runs in Monthly Shonen Magazine, also home to Flowers of Evil and Attack on Titan, so I could be wrong. Are there at least animals? In a land?
MJ: There are, but I couldn’t even make it through the first volume, so that’s about all I can tell you.
MICHELLE: I made it through the first one, but never did continue. It’s got tons of poop jokes, so you’re probably right about its intended audience.
SEAN: Love Hina’s omnibus re-release hits Vol. 4, and introduces two of its most controversial plot points. a) Kanako Urashima, Keitaro’s younger sister, and b) Keitaro’s leave-of-absence from the series, and subsequent return with a personality transplant. Still, it has a new translation, and probably better scans, so Love Hina fans (like me) will get it anyway.
Miles Edgeworth: Ace Attorney Investigations hits Vol. 3, and sadly still lacks most of the cast of the games themselves, being content only with Dick Gumshoe. Still, even though Edgeworth is not as silly as Phoenix, he surrounds himself with silly suspects.
Apologies to BL fans: when porting over Viz’s 2nd week releases last week, I missed the two SubLime BL titles. So here they are. Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love has Vol. 2, with a cute feminine little guy trying to attract the grumpy, chain-smoking big manly guy. (I really need to come up with better ways to describe BL.) As for the cover of Vol. 2 of Starting with a Kiss… do necks even BEND like that? Oh my God!
MJ: I admit I’ve been pretty wishy-washy on SuBLime releases in general. I love what they are doing and how they’re doing it (Viz has proven they really get digital distribution, including how it works best for particular audiences—in this case, BL fans), but for the most part, their licenses are simply not to my taste. I am not the BL fan they are publishing for, and titles like Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love really drive that point home. Given the response I’ve seen from BL fans at Manga Bookshelf (and elsewhere), I’m pretty sure they’re making strong choices for the larger fanbase, but I just really don’t care for these titles.
MICHELLE: I have genuinely liked at least one (The Bed of My Dear King) and was unexpectedly intrigued by another (Punch Up!), but on the whole I must agree. I prefer a kinder, gentler sort of BL. And egads, that Starting with a Kiss cover is creepy!
SEAN: Viz also has a few 3rd week releases. Bokurano: Ours has hit Vol. 7, and is still doing what Bokurano does quite nicely. Its uplifting and life-affirming message requires the reader to sit through piles and piles of trauma, and thus I’ve given it a miss.
MJ: Oooh, I bet Michelle has a response to this!
MICHELLE: There’s no denying Bokurano is grim, grim, grim, and that one doesn’t get to learn much about the cast of kids until it’s their turn to pilot the robot and subsequently die. But it’s the mystery of why this is all happening that keeps me fascinated.
SEAN: REAL is still ongoing in Japan, albeit at a very slow rate, and now North America gets Vol. 11. This volume actually promises to feature Nomiya, the delinquent protagonist who got most of the beginning of the series before the focus moved away from him. Still a good story well-told, as you’d expect from Inoue.
MJ: Hurray! Seriously, that’s the only possible response to a new volume of REAL.
MICHELLE: I disagree. I think “Huzzah!” works equally well!
SEAN: And Saturn Apartments, one of the quieter SigIKKI titles, has hit Vol. 6. I think 7 is the last, so it must be getting close to wrapping things up.
MJ: Wow, I’m behind in this series. I need to remedy that, pronto.
MICHELLE: Me, too. I really like it, but I’ve fallen behind by several volumes now.
SEAN: There’s a new omnibus out for CLAMP’s classic shoujo series X, containing Vols. 10-12, and more preparation for the complete and total apocalypse that we still haven’t actually quite seen yet. Still, the preparation is absolutely gorgeous.
MJ: Despite my lukewarm feelings for this series, these omnibus releases are a must-buy. If there’s one thing I really do love about X, it’s the gorgeous, shoujo-tastic artwork, and these volumes show that off to its best advantage.
MICHELLE: I still have yet to read beyond volume one of this series, despite owning it in its entirety and having the first two omnibus editions. I’ve seen the anime, though.
SEAN: Lastly, I had wondered why Diamond didn’t ship it this week with the rest of Yen’s titles, but no matter: The long awaited Thermae Romae Vol. 1 (a two-volume omnibus) is out next week in glorious hardcover. Far more than just a take of Roman baths, this series is another reason why North Americans keep wanting more and more from Comic Beam (also home to Emma and Wandering Son).
MJ: I can’t wait to read this!
MICHELLE: Me, neither! Coming soon to an Off the Shelf near you!
SEAN: It’s Thanksgiving Week for The U.S.! What titles are you thankful for?
Myrah saysNovember 16, 2012 at 12:05 am
I have to agree on SuBLime’s licenses. The only one I’ve been excited about so far is Awkward Silence. Everything else is just… eh, not for me, I guess.
On a happier note, I read the first Thermae Romae omnibus and it was AMAZING.
Melinda Beasi saysNovember 16, 2012 at 8:39 am
I have my copy sitting here, and I can’t wait to have a free hour so I can dig into it! It’ll be my Saturday morning treat!
Fin saysNovember 16, 2012 at 1:33 am
I am also a very big fan of gentler stories, but I’m fairly flexible with what I’m willing to read. I’ve enjoyed “The Bed of My Dear King,” and “Punch Up!” took me until volume 2 to really enjoy fully (I’ve bought and read both volumes in one day, and I think it’s really volume 2 where it’s more domestic and the characters’ insecurities really comes out). However, it’s really “The Scent of Apple Blossom” that really strike the right note with me.
I would say, give “The Scent of Apple Blossom” a try. The art is not my favorite, but I was definitely pleasantly surprised by the series. I find Haruna’s involvement with his boyfriend’s family very endearing. That was one of the few times where I actually bought digital manga.
Sublime has to be careful about publishing more than they can sell. They’re also very new. That’s probably why they want a diverse spectrum of manga and limited print release. Like how the above commenter and many others like “Awkward Silence,” I don’t really like it, but there are other titles that I am interested in. “His Favorite” is also a big one, I think, but again, not really my taste. “Starting With A Kiss”—no. Fans within US already have different taste, not to mention trying to reach international fans.
After Tokyopop’s Blue crashing back then, DMP delaying print release now…etc… BL manga in print doesn’t seem to do that well in general. I’ll take what I can get, I guess.
Melinda Beasi saysNovember 16, 2012 at 8:53 am
Romance is a tricky genre, because it’s very personal for people, so it’s not surprising that readers might have vastly different tastes. I used to be wary of even calling myself a BL fan, because there was so little published in English that I actually liked at all, and I felt like there was a huge disconnect between me and other fans. Most of the BL I used to encounter was geared towards tastes that were just not at all in line with mine. Just as I was a romance fan who never liked Harlequin romances, as a BL fan, I felt drowned in a sea of books I simply couldn’t enjoy. But now that we’re seeing a lot more variety in the market, there is plenty of material that speaks to me and contains all the elements I like in romance manga (and manga in general—which, incidentally, isn’t specifically “gentler” stories, though those often do fit the bill).
The SuBLime licenses, generally speaking (I’ve enjoyed one or two), seem to me to be geared towards that original BL fanbase that I couldn’t relate to—and honestly, this is not surprising at all to me. My tastes were usually out of sync with The Yaoi Review, too. This is not a bad thing for SuBLime. I think there is a bigger fanbase for the titles they are putting out than there is for the titles I like most. They are licensing smart. Jennifer is doing a great job. It’s just mostly not for me, so far at least.
Michelle Smith saysNovember 16, 2012 at 9:14 am
I had forgotten all about The Scent of Apple Blossoms! I actually did read it, and liked it!
Fin saysNovember 17, 2012 at 6:50 pm
Yay! It’s a very charming series.
CJ saysNovember 16, 2012 at 4:50 am
Hmm, perhaps I should have put Thermae Romae on my recent TRSI order during the Yen sale… I still think it’s safest to rent from the library first, even though I look Latin in high school and enjoy roman architecture
Melinda Beasi saysNovember 16, 2012 at 8:53 am
You’ll be seeing plenty about it here in the next week or so, I imagine, so hopefully we can give you an idea of whether you’d like it or not! :)
P-chan saysNovember 25, 2012 at 10:13 pm
SuBLime is licensing a lot of titles that are/were hits in online BL communities. Three Wolves Mountain was a well-known 1-volume story. Love Pistols, Youka Nitta, and Haruka Minami are pretty famous. Bond of Dreams Bond of Love, His Favorite, and Awkward Silence are huge hits. Toko Kawai has a great reputation. But the content is pretty broad. Youka Nitta and Haruka Minami are mostly erotic content, but His Favorite is a light comedy were nothing more than a occasional PG smooch happens on page. Lots of comedies, but there are some nice dramas coming out soon too.
SuBLime doesn’t have much I read, but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on them.
Also, looking forward to Trigun Maximum. I missed getting the volumes the first time. The anime was amazing.