I’ll begin my look at this week’s ComicList with a request. If you’ve never actually read a volume of Natsuki Takaya’s Fruits Basket (Tokyopop), which concludes with its 23rd volume, I beg you to refrain from writing about the mega-hit in condescending, reductive terms. It’s not a cutesy romantic fantasy about people who turn into animals, or at least it hasn’t been since maybe its second or third volume. It’s actually a crushingly effective drama about breaking a generational cycle of emotional abuse and neglect, and it’s one of a very small handful of comics that has ever made me cry. It’s also a rare example of an extremely popular comic also being an absolutely brilliant comic, so in deference to the people who are going to miss new volumes rather terribly, please don’t call it “fluffy” or something equally inane.
With that off my chest, I can look to the future, which includes a new series from Yuji Iwahara, Cat Paradise (Yen Press). CMX published Iwahara’s three-volume Chikyu Misaki, which still ranks for me as one of the most underappreciated manga ever to be published in English. It’s a terrific blend of fantasy and mystery with wonderful characters and unusual, eye-catching illustrations. Iwahara’s King of Thorn (Tokyopop), was less successful for me, though I found it to be a very competent survival drama. Of course, it was coming out at roughly the same time as Minetaro Mochizuki’s utterly genius survival drama, Dragon Head (Tokyopop), so it was bound to suffer in comparison. Anyway, Cat Paradise seems to be about students and their pets fighting against demonic forces or something like that, but describing Iwahara’s comics never really does them justice, and his work is always worth a look.
I suspect the impact of its conclusion will be washed away in a sea of Fruits Basket tears, but I’ll also miss Kitchen Princess (Del Rey), written by Miyuki Kobayashi and illustrated by Natsumi Ando. It’s a cooking manga, which is enough to put it on my “read automatically” list, but it also became an increasingly effective melodrama as the series progressed. And there are recipes in the back. Try the Madeleine recipe. On the shônen front, Del Rey also offers a new volume of Hiro Mashima’s very entertaining Fairy Tail.
It’s also Viz’s week to remind me that I really need to hunker down and catch up with some series that I like very much: Hideaki Sorachi’s Gin Tama, Kazune Kawahara’s High School Debut, Ai Yazawa’s Nana, and Yuki Obata’s We Were There. In my defense, Viz keeps publishing great new manga, particularly in its Signature line, so it’s becoming increasingly impractical to keep up with ongoing series.