Upcoming 12/8/2010

December 7, 2010

After a shônen-heavy week, rewarding as it was, it will be nice to spare a little attention for shôjo and even josei in this week’s ComicList:

Viz debuts Julietta Suzuki’s Kamisama Kiss, about a girl who unwittingly becomes a local goddess. It happens. The series originally ran in Hakusensha’s Hana to Yume, which is a good sign, and Suzuki also created Karakuri Odette (Tokyopop), a well-liked series that will be the subject of the next Manga Moveable Feast, to be hosted at Manga Report.

On the josei front, there’s the fifth volume of Yuki Yoshihara’s smutty, ridiculous, and endearing Butterflies, Flowers (Viz). In this volume, our completely insane protagonists go furniture shopping, which will surely devolve into madness. The series originally ran in Shogakukan’s Petit Comic.

That’s not a very substantial shopping list, but other bloggers are willing and able to help you part ways with your discretionary income:

  • First up is Melinda (Manga Bookshelf) Beasi, who offers this excellent gift guide with many useful categories.
  • And if I were to write a Best of 2010 list, it would look very much like Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey’s, except mine wouldn’t be written as well. Still, book for book, I can’t find many points of disagreement. Maybe the order of a couple of items?

  • MMF: The Great Shônen Manga Gift Guide for 2010

    December 4, 2010

    Daniella (All About Manga) Orihuela-Gruber is picking up the baton of the Great Manga Gift Guide, and I thought I’d take the opportunity of the One Piece Manga Moveable Feast to offer a shônen-flavored version that takes One Piece’s tone and content and creator Eiichiro Oda’s career arc into account. Now, many shônen series are great, but they’re just plain long, so it’s with some reluctance that I would suggest them as a gift when, if the gift is received well, it would require the recipient to spend a ton of money completing a series. That’s very “first hit’s free,” don’t you think? But sometimes that kind of recommendation is unavoidable, and since this list is conceived at least partly with the One Piece admirer in mind, I’m not going to be too rigid about it.

    I will be rigid about one thing: use what you know about the recipient to guide your choice of gifts. If you know they like comics, great. If you know you want them to like comics, tread carefully, and pair the comic gift with something you know they actually like. Holidays are always creepy when they’re tinged with evangelism, I think.

    It’s widely known that Oda took great inspiration from Akira Toriyama, so it seems reasonable to recommend Toriyama’s Dragon Ball, which is available in bulky, gift-worthy VizBig editions. It offers “a wry update on the Chinese ‘Monkey King’ myth, introduces us to Son Goku, a young monkey-tailed boy whose quiet life is turned upside-down when he meets Bulma, a girl determined to collect the seven ‘Dragon Balls.’ If she gathers them all, an incredibly powerful dragon will appear and grant her one wish. But the precious orbs are scattered all over the world, and to get them she needs the help of a certain super-strong boy…” Less adventure and more jokes can be found in Toriyama’s Dr. Slump (Viz). Toriyama and Oda have collaborated on a Dragon Ball/One Piece crossover called Cross Epoch.

    Oda began his career as an assistant to Nobuhiro Watsuki, who was working on Rurouni Kenshin (Viz) at the time. Viz declares, “Packed with action, romance and historical intrigue, Rurouni Kenshin is one of the most beloved and popular manga series worldwide. Set against the backdrop of the Meiji Restoration, it tells the saga of Himura Kenshin, once an assassin of ferocious power, now a humble rurouni, a wandering swordsman fighting to protect the honor of those in need.” It’s also available in VizBig format.

    Another of Watsuki’s assistants at the time was Hiroyuki (Shaman King) Takei, who’s currently at work on Ultimo (Viz) with Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee. I found the first volume of Ultimo unsatisfyingly creepy, but Erica (Okazu) Friedman liked it when she reviewed it for About.Com, finding that the series “provides a solid reading experience with characters you want to know more about, in a situation you want to see resolved well.”

    If you liked the whole “travel by water” notion and were particularly taken with the aesthetic of Water Seven, I would strongly suggest you take a look at Kozue Amano’s Aria (Tokyopop), which follows gondoliers on Mars. It’s the absolute tonal opposite of One Piece, but manga fans cannot live on crazy hyperactivity alone, and Aria and its prequel, Aqua, are really beautiful.

    If the goofy humor and occasional satirical bent of One Piece are to your liking and you’d like a slightly more mature (sometimes just coarser) take on them, I’d recommend Hideaki Sorachi’s Gin Tama (Viz). It’s about a swordsman-for-hire living in a world that’s been handed over to greedy, corrupt aliens. Like One Piece, it veers from flat-out goofy to surprisingly serious, and Sorachi does some entertaining world building.

    If you like Oda’s distinct, detail-packed artwork, give Yuji Iwahara’s Cat Paradise (Yen Press) a look. It’s your basic Hellmouth story – plucky young people must fend off demon invasion while keeping up with Algebra – with the bonus of helpful, heroic felines. It’s not Iwahara’s best work, but his pages are always easy on the eye.

    And now we start with shônen I’d recommend under any circumstances, first being Osamu Tezuka’s three-volume Dororo (Vertical). It’s disappointingly short, as Tezuka abandoned it much earlier than he had intended, but it’s creepy, funny, sad and wonderful. The lead character’s father sold his son to demons, part by part, and the kid has to kill all of the demons to get his body back. He hooks up with a young thief along the way.

    Far and away the best new shônen I read this year and one of the best sports manga I’ve ever read is Mitsuru Adachi’s Cross Game (Viz), which I reviewed here. Beyond being really good in every way, it’s a big, fat package that makes it very gift-worthy.

    What if you just like stories about pirates? Well, you can’t go wrong with Ted Naifeh’s Polly and the Pirates (Oni). A proper schoolgirl is shocked to discover that she’s got a pirate-queen legacy to live up to in this completely charming, hilarious comic.

    Chris Schweizer’s Crogan’s Vengeance (Oni) takes a more scholarly approach to how pirates actually plied their trade, but it doesn’t downplay the adventure in the process. It’s a smart romp, which I reviewed here.


    Links to Great Manga Gift Guides

    November 27, 2009

    Lots of folks have posted their contributions to the Great Manga Gift Guide with varied approaches and a wide range of books. The easiest way to track them is to check the #gmgg hashtag over at Twitter, but I’ll post links here as often as post-Thanksgiving bloat permits.

    About.com – Shojo

    About.com – Shonen

    About.com – Otaku

    About.com – Gift Books

    AICN Anime

    All About Comics

    animemiz’s sciribblings

    A Radical Interpretation of the Text

    Confessions of a Retconned Fangirl

    Emily’s Random Shoujo Manga Page

    Extremely Graphic

    Extremely Graphic – The Adult Alternative

    Flowerstorm

    fujochic

    i ♥ manga

    Japanator

    Joy Kim

    MangaBlog

    Manga Bookshelf

    Manga Maniac Cafe – Boys Love Edition

    Manga Maniac Cafe – Fantasy Edition

    Manga Maniac Cafe – For the Girls Edition

    Manga Widget

    Manga Worth Reading

    Manga Xanadu

    Okazu

    Otaku Ohana

    Panel Patter

    Poisoned Rationality

    Precocious Curmudgeon

    Sean Gaffney

    TangognaT

    The Manga Critic

    yuri no boke


    2009 Great Manga Gift Guide

    November 26, 2009

    With Black Friday just around the corner, you may be trying to think up gift ideas for greed season, and some people on your list may be open to receiving the gift of manga. Here are some possibilities for your consideration. I stress that friends don’t give friends comics unless that friend has expressed an interest in receiving them. If friends insist on doing that, they at least keep the receipt.

    For the House fan in your life: Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack (Vertical). Decades before Hugh Laurie’s fictional physician was saving lives and alienating people, Tezuka’s outlaw surgeon was wrestling with bizarre maladies and guaranteeing that just about nobody liked him any better for it. You can pick up any volume of this series and not worry about being lost, since it’s all largely episodic. If you know someone with a taste for the medically gruesome and interpersonally abrasive, look no further.

    For the foodie in your life: Oishinbo (Viz), written by Tetsu Kariya and illustrated by Hanasaki Akira. Aside from its microscopic attention to Japanese food and drink, this series lets you subdivide the recipient’s interests even further. Do they tipple? Try the Sake volume. Do they hold forth on buying locally and sustainably grown produce? There’s a volume for that. When you ask what they want for lunch, is their answer always “Sushi”? Do they blanch at the idea of a low-carbohydrate diet? Voila! As with Black Jack, there’s no real order to any of these volumes, so you can pick at random.

    For the comic strip fan in your life: Kiyohiko Azuma’s Azumanga Daioh (Yen Press). I think I recommended this in a previous gift guide, but it’s still awesome, and Yen Press is coming out with a freshened translation and production in December, so I think I’m allowed to repeat myself. This massive tome collects Azuma’s very funny strips about a group of classmates making their way through high school, and it’s a great mix of the recognizable and the absurd.

    For the autobiography buff/young artist/cultural historian in your life: Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life (Drawn & Quarterly). Tatsumi was one of the progenitors of gritty, grown-up comics in Japan, and the story of his evolution as an artist (and the associated evolution of comics publishing in Japan) is fascinating. For bonus points, Tatsumi opens a window on the economic and cultural evolution of postwar Japan as a whole.

    For the fan of films in limited release in your life: Jiro Taniguchi’s A Distant Neighborhood (Fanfare/Ponent Mon). So you’re thinking of buying a graphic novel for someone you know who likes to read but isn’t entirely familiar with the whole “words and pictures” category. You know that Asterios Polyp is brilliant, but it’s so dense with visual reference that the recipient might not make it past the title page. Stitches is great, but it’s non-fiction and a big downer. But you’re determined. So why not try this beautifully drawn, undemanding tale of a middle-aged guy who gets the chance to relive his adolescence? It’s flipped, so there’s no barrier there, and the story should be very familiar from a number of similar examples. It’s smart but not too literary, it’s only two volumes long but still hefty enough to count as a decent gift, and the publisher deserves your money.

    For the freak in your life: Junko Mizuno’s Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu (Last Gasp). Do you have a friend who’s forlornly waiting for the next installment of Prison Pit? Do you want to help them pass the time? Then really, anything by Mizuno qualifies for recommendation, but Pelu is her newest available-in-English work. I don’t know if this book is remotely appropriate for anyone not wholly conversant in alternative comics, but man, how could such people not love it? I certainly do. I think it’s my favorite comic of 2009.

    For the Death Note fan in your life: Motoro Mase’s Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit (Viz). In her review of the series, Johanna Draper Carlson astutely noted the crossover potential between this series and the shônen mega-hit. Death Note has been over for a while, and many members of its audience may have reached the recommended age for this largely winning tale of government-sponsored murder. Try and keep it out of the hands of Glenn Beck fans, though, as they’ll turn it into a book of prophecy.

    For the environmentalist in your life: Daisuke Igarashi’s Children of the Sea (Viz). Have you ever noticed how some pro-nature stories can be really preachy and shrill and have next to no attractive drawings in them? Do you know of someone who enjoys tales with this kind of message and want to support them in their interests, but you’re still scarred by Captain Planet and don’t know where to turn? Look no further than Igarashi’s gorgeous, seaside fable.

    For the young fan of romantic fantasy in your life: Natsune Kawase’s The Lapis Lazuli Crown (CMX). If I had a teen-aged daughter (or son), I’d absolutely support them in just about whatever they chose to read. I’d probably voice my opinion about Black Bird, but I wouldn’t stop them from reading it. And my expression of that opinion might possibly spoil their fun in reading Black Bird, but I certainly couldn’t be held responsible for their overreaction to harmless, well-intended remarks that are entirely within my rights to state. And while they could spend their allowance on anything they wanted, they’d find this two-volume charmer in their stockings.

    For the hardcore Japanophile in your life: Koji Kumeta’s Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei (Del Rey).This is one of the densest licensed comics from Japan you’re likely to find on a bookstore shelf. It’s packed with cultural references, scrupulously annotated in extensive end notes. It’s also very, very funny. I only get about a third of the jokes, and I still think it’s hilarious. Plus, I enjoy reading the annotations, so it’s really like getting two books in one. If you know someone who loves, loves, loves Japan and is still willing to giggle at its foibles, this is the gift for them.

    Over at Okazu, Erica Friedman is tracking the various gift guides that will be unleashed upon an unsuspecting world over the next week or so.


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