My News and Reviews
Life has gotten to be rather hectic again for me, though hopefully things should settle back down soon. In the meantime, I’ve returned to a reduced posting schedule for a little bit. Last week I only posted one in-depth review, but it was for the most recent installment in one of my favorite series currently being released—Aya Kanno’s Requiem of the Rose King. In this volume a tenuous peace has been established while the story moves away from the battlefield to delve into the dangerous political intrigue of the court.
Elsewhere online, The Organization of Anti-Social Geniuses (which has moved, by the way), posted a short interview with Casey Brienza, the author of the recently released Manga in America (which I hope to review in the not too distant future). The wonderful folks behind MASSIVE have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund The Queer Japan Project documentary, which should be phenomenal. In manga news, Kodansha Comics has announced that its release of the final volume of My Little Monster will include an additional sixty pages of content. Over the weekend, Vertical announced the addition of a few more titles: the Bakemonogatari novels by Nisioisin, the manga Immortal Hounds by Ryo Yasohachi, the master edition of Tsutomu Nihei’s manga Blame!, and (the one I’m most excited about) the josei horror manga Dissolving Classroom by Junji Ito. Not to be left out, Seven Seas snuck in a license announcement on Sunday as well—Nakatani Nio’s yuri manga Bloom Into You.
Batmanga, Volume 1 by Jiro Kuwata. Back in the 1960s, Kuwata was commissioned to create a manga series featuring the iconic American masked vigilante Batman specifically tailored for a Japanese audience. This series was nearly forgotten in the United States but was rediscovered and introduced in translation relatively recently. DC Comics is now releasing the entire series in English. Although I do enjoy Batman and grew up with the franchise, I don’t really consider myself to be a huge fan or aficionado. But I was very interested in the publication history of Batmanga, and it’s not very often that an older manga is licensed. Kuwata’s Batmanga is understandably most reminiscent of the 1960s television series starring Adam West than any of Batman‘s more recent incarnations (the sixties apparently saw a Batman craze in Japan). The manga is a lot of fun with plenty of ridiculous action, camp, and wordplay. I believe that all the villains are unique to the manga, their origin stories often having something to do with devious scientific innovations or experiments gone awry.
False Memories, Volumes 1-2 by Isaku Natsume. A few of Natsume’s boys’ love manga have been released digitally, but I believe False Memories is only the second one to be released in print. It’s been a while since I’ve read any of Natsume’s manga, so I was surprised by how charming and touching False Memories ended up being. Nakano and Tsuda drifted apart soon after they slept together in high school. Ten years have passed since their graduation, but they suddenly find themselves assigned to work together on the same project by their respective companies. The misunderstandings surrounding their high school days continue to prove problematic, though. The two men will at least need to pretend to be friendly, but old feelings can be difficult to ignore. I enjoyed False Memories more than I expected I would, largely because I found the characters to be so likeable and relatable. Nakano’s insecurities are understandable, having unintentionally been hurt by Tsuda in the past. As for Tsuda, he’s a well-meaning goofball. The two of them do honestly care for each other, it just takes them a little while to figure that out.
Firefighter! Daigo of Fire Company M, Volume 1 by Masahito Soda. I recently happened across the first volume of Firefighter! and so picked it up. It’s been out-of-print for some time now, but the entire series is now available digitally from Viz Media. When Daigo Asahina was a child, he almost died in a fire but was rescued by a heroic local firefighter. Ever since then, it has been his dream to become a firefighter himself. Fresh out of training he’s eager to prove himself, only the station that he’s been assigned to deals with very few major fires. While this would normally be considered to be a good thing, for Daigo it’s frustrating, especially when his rival at another company has already seen plenty of action. Despite the seemingly relaxed atmosphere of Company M, Firefighter! quickly ramps up the excitement. Only one volume in and Daigo’s had to rescue a cat, help prevent a potential gas explosion, fight multiple fires, and face the fact that he’s not nearly as well-prepared as he thought he was. The veterans of Company M know their stuff, though, and are very good at what they do.