Quick creep note

July 21, 2006

I’m probably over-reacting, but there’s an interesting reference to manga in the review of Azumi by Manohla Dargis in The New York Times (free registration required).

“Adapted from the manga of the same title, this 2003 action flick tracks the blood-spurting adventures of its title character, a young female assassin who wields a lethally mean sword.”

What’s interesting to me is that Dargis and her editors don’t feel the need to trot out a definition of manga, which strikes me unusual. Maybe it’s because manga is in the dictionary now? Or because it has sufficient cultural currency in general?

The stacks

July 21, 2006

The American Library Association’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens committee has added some new entries to their list of nominees (found via MangaBlogCast). As usual, there are some great additions, some that don’t inspire much of a reaction either way, and some that make me blink my eyes in complete bafflement while thinking that surely they won’t make the final cut.

I mean, House of M? None of the critical response indicated that this was one for the ages. (I admit that the fact that it’s an Avengers: Disassembled follow-up drastically colors my sight-unseen assessment of its worthiness.)

But the great stuff is really great. Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting seems like it should be a lock for the final roster, and I’m delighted to see J.P. Stassen’s Deogratias: A Tale of Rwanda get a nomination. It’s nice to see books like Deogratias, La Perdida and Pyonyang: A Journey in North Korea on the list. The nominators obviously respect their audience and want to encourage them to read challenging, complex material.

That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of fun stuff on display as well. Raina Telgemeier’s adaptation of Ann M. Martin’s The Baby-Sitters Club has received a nomination, as has Yuu Watase’s Absolute Boyfriend. (I tend to lose track of what’s been nominated when, so if I’m covering old territory or nominees from previous rounds, I apologize.) Amelia Rules! is always a delight, and the Super Heroes collection should represent the series well.

From a purely selfish point of view (and what other point of view do I ever adopt?), seeing pet titles like Fruits Basket, Nana and Antique Bakery listed here makes me do the happy dance. On the flip side of that, where the heck is Fullmetal Alchemist? It’s a great coming-of-age fantasy-adventure. Of course, it isn’t like it needs the added attention. (Ditto Naruto.)

There’s a surprising amount of shônen-ai and yaoi in evidence, but these nominations represent some of the better books in the category. La Esperanca is a surprisingly involving character study and very pretty to look at. You Higuri takes another slot on the list with Gorgeous Carat. (I’m crazy about Higuri, but I’m not sure eroticized torture scenes scream “young adult” to me. But it’s been a long time since I was in high school, and I don’t really know what the kids are up to these days.)

There’s an unfortunate dearth of Oni books. Scott Pilgrim, Northwest Passage and Polly and the Pirates are all several orders of magnitude more worthy of attention than stuff like Absolute Batman: Hush, which is just a horribly written story on so many levels, or the drippy Socrates in Love.

But these are still just nominations, and I’m sure there will be additions (and deletions) before the final list comes out in Midwinter 2007. I think this is a great effort, and it will be fascinating to see the recommendations that finally emerge.