My News and Reviews
Two in-depth manga reviews were posted last week! As part of my monthly horror manga review project, I took a look at Yuki Urushibara’s Mushishi, Volume 5. I still love this series tremendously and wish it wasn’t out-of-print, but at least it’s available digitally from Kodansha Comics now. The second review last week was of Masayuki Ishikawa’s Maria the Virgin Witch: Exhibition, which is a collection of side stories, both prequels and sequels, focusing on the characters of Maria the Virgin Witch. For fans of the original series, it’s a very nice addition. The volume probably won’t appeal to or make much sense to anyone who hasn’t read the main manga, though.
There were a ton of interesting articles, reviews, and news announcements that I saw last week. Deb Aoki has been busy at Anime News Network with a two part interview with various Kodansha folk, mostly focusing on the Kodansha Advanced Media digital manga efforts, as well as an interview with those involved with the new Ultraman manga series, including the creators Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi and Mike Montesa from Viz Media and Ai Shimizu from Hero’s Magazine. Over at Publishers Weekly, she takes a closer look at Tokyopop’s most recent efforts. Elsewhere, Kristin of Comic Attack interviewed Arina Tanemura at Anime Fest; AM Cosmos writes about the different perspectives of bullying found in A Silent Voice and Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto; and Organization Anti-Social Geniuses concludes its Advice on Manga series with advice on manga editing from manga editors.
In licensing news, the fine folk of MASSIVE will be working with Koyama Press to translate What Is Obscenity?, the comic memoir of sculptor and mangaka Megumi Igarashi (aka Rokudenashiko). In addition to the three original short manga, the English-language edition will have additional content, such as a new introduction by the artist and an interview between Rokudenashiko and Sion Sono. Yaoi Con was held over the weekend and there were some other licensing announcements made. SuBLime Manga picked up Rihito Takarai’s Ten Count, Bohra Naono’s Midnight Stranger, and Yonezou Nekota’s Don’t Be Cruel. (I’m especially looking forward to Ten Count, but am always happy to see more of Naono’s work translated.) As for Digital Manga, the Juné imprint is adding twenty-four new titles… except that they’re all digital, no print. (Interestingly, Project H’s recent license announcements were all digital-only as well, which really makes me wonder about DMP, especially as it’s starting to gear up for its next Tezuka Kickstarter.) And speaking of yaoi and BL, Kathryn Hemmann’s academic article “Queering the Media Mix: The Female Gaze in Japanese Fan Comics” takes a look at BL doujinshi based on CLAMP’s works.
Devils and Realist, Volumes 3-4 written by Madoka Takadono and illustrated by Utako Yukihiro. Sometimes the two major aspects of Devils and Realist (it’s humor and it’s drama) mesh well and sometimes they make the manga seem like it’s trying to be two entirely different series. Despite the demons that have become students in order to be closer to him, William’s school life remains fairly mundane, though humorous. That part of the story isn’t so different from any other school-based manga. What makes the series more interesting is the drama, politics, and intrigue surrounding the selection of the next ruler of hell. Heaven is getting involved now, too. Not only does William have to deal with demons vying for his attention, and in some cases his life, angels are beginning to make their presence known, causing even more problems for him. Also, angels can be just as big of jerks as their fallen brethren. Although I’m not in a rush to find out what happens next, I am still enjoying Devils and Realist; the art and character designs are pretty and I generally find the series to be entertaining.
King City by Brandon Graham. The first half of King City was initially published by Tokyopop but the series, like so many of the publisher’s other original English comics, was left unfinished. However, unlike all but a very select few of the series that met that particular fate, King City found a new home and was able to be completed, in this case thanks to Image Comics. Although there are some dramatic battles and rescues in King City, there really isn’t much in the way of a plot. What there is a bizarre futuristic city filled with some very strange residents. The comic focuses on Joe, his friends and acquaintances, and Earthling, his extremely intelligent and multi-talented cat. Joe is a Catmaster—with a little help from an injection, Earthling can turn into or do anything. What I love most about King City, besides Earthling and the rest of the cats, is that it is absolutely crammed with wordplay and visual puns. It’s worth taking time to thoroughly examine every page because Graham has incorporated so much humor in the small, seemingly inconsequential details. King City is very strange, but it’s the kind of strange that I tend to enjoy.
Pandora Hearts, Volumes 1-3 by Jun Mochizuki. I know so many people who absolutely adore Pandora Hearts that I’ve been meaning to try the series for a while now. To be honest, After reading the first volume, I wasn’t so sure about the manga—I found it to be extremely chaotic and confusing, and almost nonsensical (maybe I just wasn’t reading closely enough)—but after the second volume it started to click for me and by the third I was completely hooked on the series. Mochizuki’s artwork is pretty great, too. I definitely plan on reading more of Pandora Hearts. I’ll admit, I’m still not entirely sure what’s going on yet, but that mystery is part of the point. Most of the characters don’t understand everything, either, and those who do know at least part of the truth aren’t necessarily sharing that information anyone else unless it serves their own purpose. Tragedy and psychological trauma are major components of Pandora Hearts. There is violence and horror, betrayals and lies, but also obsessive loyalty and kindness. The characters are struggling with loneliness and the intense desire and need to belong and feel wanted.