Upcoming 8/18/2010

August 17, 2010

It may not look like there’s any new manga of note on this week’s ComicList, but a lot of the stuff that I mentioned last week is actually shipping this week. Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey has a handy run-down, and she also has a timeless warning on Japanese comics to avoid. (How could I have forgotten Pretty Face?) And there are a couple of very promising items due for arrival on Wednesday.

Goldilocks and the Seven Squat Bears isn’t from Japan or Korea, the usual sources for books from Yen Press, but it’s been written and illustrated by Émile Bravo, so it’s likely to be very, very good. Bravo brilliantly illustrated My Mommy Is in America and She Met Buffalo Bill, written by Jean Regnaud and published in English by Fanfare/Ponent Mon.

I really enjoyed Aaron Renier’s Spiral-Bound (Top Shelf), and I sometimes find myself wondering when his next book will arrive. The answer is apparently “Wednesday,” thanks to First Second and in the form of The Unsinkable Walker Bean. Here are the details:

“Mild, meek, and a little geeky, Walker is always happiest in his grandfather’s workshop, messing around with his inventions. But when his beloved grandfather is struck by an ancient curse, it falls on Walker to return an accursed pearl skull to the witches who created it—and his path will be strewn with pirates, magical machines, ancient lore, and deadly peril.”

Update: I inexcusably missed this one, but I have to mention the new Vertigo graphic novel Dark Rain because it’s been drawn by the incredibly gifted Simon (Paris) Gane. It’s a thriller set in post-Katrina New Orleans, written by Mat (Incognegro) Johnson. There are some preview pages over at Techland.


Hit and miss

August 16, 2010

I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World on Saturday and really enjoyed it. I think the best movie adaptations of other properties are ones that capture the spirit of the original material while still functioning as an entertaining movie independent of that source material. I think Edgar Wright got it exactly right while still doing his own creative thing. (There’s a great interview with Wright in Time Magazine, which is one of the many major media outlets to give the apparent flop a very positive review.)

I also loved the supporting cast, particularly Ellen (Knives Chau) Wong, Kieran (Wallace Wells) Culkin, Alison (Kim Pine) Pill, and Ben (Other Scott) Lewis. The evil exes were all fun to varying degrees, and my only major complaint would be that things dragged a little at the end. But movies almost always drag a little bit at the end anymore.

I’m a little shocked at all of the schadenfreude over the movie’s box office performance, like coming in fifth – out of all of the movies in current release in the United States – is a bad thing. It doesn’t strike me as an instant blockbuster by design but as a movie that gains in reputation over time. Maybe Hollywood just hates sleeper hits or cult hits or whatever it is that I suspect the movie will become, but I don’t think the people who made the movie have anything to worry about in the long run. Shaun of the Dead didn’t rake it in right out of the gate either.

*

Speaking of movies adapted from other media, I could barely sit through Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Alice Sebold’s terrific novel, The Lovely Bones. It was painfully overwrought and grindingly slow at the same time. I did appreciate the presence of Susan Sarandon, doing that thing where actors of a certain stature give a performance that would fit the kind of movie they’d rather be making than the one they happen to be in.


License request day: More Minoru Toyoda

August 13, 2010

When contemplating today’s license request, I found myself thinking of Scott Pilgrim and his creator, Bryan Lee O’Malley. I remember, ages ago, looking through Previews and thinking that Minoru Toyoda’s Love Roma (Del Rey) sounded interesting. O’Malley confirmed that it was indeed awesome, and he was right, and sensible people have all read and enjoyed that really charming series about the bluntest pair of high-school sweethearts you’re ever likely to meet. But what else does Toyoda have in the wings?

According to Baka-Updates, the funny, idiosyncratic, dare I say O’Malley-esque Toyoda has two series that seem to be desirable candidates, working with the assumption that anything Toyoda does is worth licensing.

Tomodachi 100-nin Dekiru kana (which can be translated as I Wonder if I Can Make 100 Friends) is currently running in Kodansha’s Afternoon. It’s up to the three-volume mark, I believe. It seems to be about a person who has to prevent an alien invasion by making 100 friends, thus proving the existence of love in the world.

There’s a bit more information available on Flip-Flap, a one-volume series that also ran in Afternoon. It’s about a 20-something guy who falls for a girl who works in a pinball arcade. He tries to win her over, though her first love is pinball, and her love for the arcade game is fierce indeed.

The bottom line, though, is that Love Roma is really adorable and quirky and entertaining, and I see nothing to indicate that either of these titles isn’t also adorable and quirky and entertaining, so let’s get on with that licensing thing, shall we?


My favorite Pilgrim pieces

August 13, 2010

I think I’m going to have to overcome my aversion to seeing movies in theaters for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, since two of my favorite writers seem to be encouraging me to do so.

First of all, you have to go read this piece by Linda Holmes in NPR’s Monkey See blog, which examines some of the “get off my lawn” responses to the movie:

“Hating Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is perfectly fine. It’s got a style; you sort of embrace it and dig it or you don’t. But when there’s too much effort given to tut-tutting the people you imagine to be enjoying it, or declaring and promising that only narrow categories of losers and non-life-havers and other stupid annoying hipsters could possibly be having a good time when you’re not, it sounds pinched and ungenerous. And, not to put too fine a point on it, a little bit jealous and fearful of obsolescence.”

Then there’s A.O. Scott’s review for The New York Times, who neatly sidesteps the pitfalls that Holmes identifies:

“There are some movies about youth that just make you feel old, even if you aren’t. “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” based on a series of sprightly graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley, has the opposite effect. Its speedy, funny, happy-sad spirit is so infectious that the movie makes you feel at home in its world even if the landscape is, at first glance, unfamiliar.”

Beyond the fact that I enjoy Scott’s writing enormously, I generally agree with his critical assessments. He also gets extra points for crediting the source material, which seems to be something of a block for people writing about the movie.


Bad manga

August 12, 2010

Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey is celebrating (observing?) Bad Manga Week, so I thought I’d mention a few of my least favorite titles. By way of disclosure, I’ll note that I’ve only read one volume of any of these series, but seriously, why would I read any more than that?

Earthian, written and illustrated by Yun Kouga, Blu: If I had to pinpoint the exact moment when I realized I never needed to consume another piece of romantic fiction featuring an angel, it would be at some point when I was reading Earthian. Now, this is not the worst shônen-ai series I’ve ever read. It’s not even close. But it features a number of things I’ve come to view as deal-breakers: angel romance; iffy anatomy and composition; quasi-religious hogwash; and too many mullets. It’s like Kouga was deeply influenced by some of the aesthetic elements of the Year 24 Group – ambiguous gender roles and an exploration of human nature and love – without being able to construct a coherent story or engaging characters.

Gakuen Prince, written and illustrated by Jun Yuzuki, Del Rey: Remember that “Mack Rangers” episode of Law & Order where this group of entitled private-school boys created a climate of fear at their high school and ended up raping their female classmates because they felt like it and nobody would stop them except for a teacher that they ended up murdering? Reverse the genders and try and pass it off as a romantic comedy, and you’d have something like this horrible comic. I don’t think that the systematic terrorizing of a minority community is appropriate fodder for wacky farce.

Kanna, written and illustrated by Takeru Krishima, Go! Comi: Over the years, Go! Comi published some wonderful, edgy shôjo and some perfectly terrible shônen. Not all of their shônen was awful, but it’s hard to remember the good stuff when creepy titles like Kanna move to the front of one’s memory. It’s about a mysterious little girl and the creepy adult males who are totally, unhealthily obsessed with her.

Tenjho Tenge, written and illustrated by Oh! Great, CMX: My hatred of this series is bimodal. For one thing, it’s a tediously sexed-up comic about dumb-asses who want to be the best fighters in their small pond of bottom-feeders. (There’s also an awful sequence where someone rapes one of their girlfriends to teach the boys a lesson, and she ends up comforting them over the blow to their manhood.) For another, it’s still thrown out by piracy addicts as proof that stateside publishers aren’t going to respect the purity of the artist’s vision and that they must resort to piracy to honor the creator (and see nipples). So it’s disgusting to me in terms of content, and it’s so damned irritating in terms of context that it may be my least favorite licensed manga ever.


The Seinen Alphabet: D

August 11, 2010

I started this project a while ago, but then I took a break because the manga industry was irritating me. My equilibrium has largely been restored, so let’s resume! In just a minute! After I relate the essence of an interesting conversation I had with Erica (Okazu) Friedman about seinen. She had recently written a piece for The Manga Critic in which she expressed an enduring fondness for seinen, but she noted that the seinen we tend to see isn’t representative of the vast majority of the category, which is much more “Clive Cussler audience” in nature than the art manga we tend to see. I’m not saying I’m dying for Clive Cussler audience manga, but I thought that was worth noting, at least to drive me to confess that I’m not as interested in the macho stuff as I am the off-brand stuff. All that said, “D” is for…

North American publishers Dark Horse and Del Rey (I hate your new web site!) have both published a number of seinen manga titles. Dark Horse in particular is well known for its releases in this category. Before it shifted its priorities primarily to shônen-ai and yaoi, Digital Manga published some nifty seinen titles. DC published a number of excellent seinen series under its CMX imprint, but then they killed the line because they can’t make all the profit off of crappy movie adaptations of Emma starring Jennifer Aniston. Okay, we should all be thankful for that.

I’m never exactly sure where the demarcation point is between gekiga and seinen, though I would assume that gekiga can be viewed as a subset of seinen. Thus, a nod must go to Drawn & Quarterly for publishing a great deal of work by Yoshihiro Tatsumi, who helped create gekiga and whose autogiobraphy, A Drifting Life, recently won a few Eisner Awards.

On the licensed front, there are several Viz titles worth mentioning.

Detroit Metal City, written and illustrated by Kiminori Wakasugi and originally serialized in Hakusensha’s Young Animal, is a hilarious parody of death metal, its providers and adherents.

Shirow Miwa’s Dogs, originally serialized in Shueisha’s Ultra Jump, has some amazing art and takes an interesting approach to ultra-violence.

Q Hayashida’s Dorohedoro blends ultra-violence, comedy and the supernatural. It originally ran in Shogakukan’s Ikki magazine and is serialized on Viz’s SigIKKI site.

Fanfare/Ponent Mon has published Jiro Taniguchi’s A Distant Neighborhood about a man who gets the chance to relive his early teens. The comic was originally published in Shogakukan’s Big Comic.

They’ve also published Hideo Azuma’s autobiographical Disappearance Diary, originally published by East Press.

And there’s Doing Time, Kazuichi Hanawa’s autobiography of his stint in prison.

We came this close to not seeing all of it in print, but dedicated fan nagging resulted in Tokyopop releasing all of Minetaro Mochizuki’s amazing survival drama Dragon Head, which originally ran in Kodansha’s Young Magazine.

On the unlicensed front, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Drops of God, written by Tadashi Agi, illustrated by Shu Okimoto, serialized in Kodansha’s Weekly Morning, and profiled in roughly one million news articles.

Kio Shimoku, gifted creator of Genshiken, has a new series in Kodansha’s Afternoon called Digopuri, which is about a newborn and the frazzled adults around her.

Delcourt publishes some awesome manga in French, some of it seinen.

I’m never sure about the magazine Dengeki Daioh, published by Media Works. Most of the resources list it as shônen, but it’s widely described as basically being for perv-y grown men perhaps best represented by the male teacher in Azumanga Daioh, which ran in Dengeki Daioh. And here lie the perils of discussing categories! Does one go with the official publisher line? The on-the-ground reality? Or the general, filtering perception that reaches North American shores?

So, what starts with the letter “D” in your seinen alphabet?

Updated:

Commenter Jim mentioned Naoki Yamamoto’s Dance Till Tomorrow, a seven-volume series published by Viz and originally serialized in Shogakukan’s Weekly Big Comic Spirits. It was serialized in Viz’s Pulp up until its cancellation.


Upcoming 8/11/2010

August 10, 2010

Looking at this week’s ComicList, I’m reminded that Viz publishes some of the best manga for grownups through its Signature line. I’m also forced to ask why they feel the need to release so much of it at once. I obviously don’t have to buy it all at once, but still…

If you enjoyed Natsume Ono’s Ristorante Paradiso (and I did), you should pick up Ono’s Gente, which explores the lives and loves of the bespectacled gentlemen who staff the Casetta dell’Orso.

Naoki Urasawa received roughly a dozen Eisner Award nominations this year and didn’t win a one of them. This shouldn’t stop you from enjoying his comics, particularly 20th Century Boys, which is my favorite of his comics to be licensed to date. The tenth volume arrives Wednesday.

I’ve been looking for an excuse to link to Deb (About.Com) Aoki’s highlights from the “Best and Worst Manga” panel from Comic-Con International, and this is the moment. I do this because I agree with both Christopher Butcher and Shaenon Garrity’s assessments of Fumi Yoshinaga’s Ôoku: The Inner Chambers:

Christopher Butcher: “I love Fumi Yoshinaga. I’ve been waiting for this to come out for a long time and I’m sorry, I didn’t like the translation at all. I’m sorry. I can’t deal with this manga the way it’s written. Everyone speaks like friggin’ Thor. It’s terrible. The story is amazing. I fought my way through the first volume, the second volume was just too much for me with all the “thee’s” and “thou’s””

Shaenon Garrity: “Don’t listen to him. Ignore him. Ooku is awesome.”

Unlike Butcher, I’ve managed to look past the Fakespeare for the brilliant concept and intense emotional connections, but it’s a constant struggle. Maybe it’s as clumsy in the original Japanese? I have no idea, but I’m sticking with it. The fourth volume arrives Wednesday.


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