I’m sensing one of those seasonal disturbances in the force where people start to get knowingly pessimistic about The State of Manga and Its Future, so I thought I’d just highlight some of the great books coming out during the remainder of 2009 in the hopes of nipping this round of gloom in the bud. Nouvelle manga, award winners, classic shôjo, an alternative anthology… things are looking pretty terrific from where I’m sitting. Expensive, but terrific.
A Distant Neighborhood vol. 1, Jiro Taniguchi, Fanfare/Ponent Mon, $23.00, sometime soon: “Who hasn’t thought about reliving their past, correcting perceived mistakes or changing crucial decisions? Would this better your life or the lives of those closest to you? Or would your altered actions prove even more harmful? One man gets the chance to find out… Middle-aged Hiroshi Nakahara is on his way home from a business trip when he finds himself on the wrong train heading for his childhood hometown. His footsteps take him to his mother’s grave and it’s there that he is catapulted back into his life as an 8th grader – but with all his adult memories and knowledge intact. As he struggles to make sense of his predicament his adult memories of his childhood return but are somehow subtly changed. The questions start to form … would his father still disappear without explanation? would he still marry his wife?”
Ôoku: The Inner Chamber, Fumi Yoshinaga, Viz – Signature, $12.99, Aug. 18: “In Edo period Japan, a strange new disease called the Red Pox has begun to prey on the country’s men. Within eighty years of the first outbreak, the male population has fallen by seventy-five percent. Women have taken on all the roles traditionally granted to men, even that of the Shogun. The men, precious providers of life, are carefully protected. And the most beautiful of the men are sent to serve in the Shogun’s Inner Chamber…”
Moyasimon vol. 1, Mayasuki Ishikawa, Del Rey, $10.99, Sept. 29: “BACTERIA TO SCHOOL: Tadayasu is a new, fresh-faced university student hiding a bizarre secret: He can see germs with the naked eye. Between the machinations of an eccentric professor determined to unlock the power of the microbial world and the doomed agricultural experiments of his fellow students, will Tadayasu ever find the cool college atmosphere he so desires?”
Itazura na Kiss vol. 1, Kaoru Tada, Digital Manga, $16.95, Nov. 4: “High school senior Kotoko Aihara has had a crush on Naoki Irie since freshman year. Unfortunately, there a few things are discouraging her from to him: he’s a member of ‘Class A,’ the top ranking class in school, whereas she’s in ‘Class F’; he gets the top score on every exam; and he’s so smart, popular and handsome that he’s been class president every year. When Kotoki finally musters up the courage to present him with a love letter, though, Naoki outright refuses it, telling her point blank–with a look of disgust and boredom—that he doesn’t like ‘stupid girls.’ Poor Kotoko’s worst nightmare! Her heart is broken, but then a change in circumstance forces Naoki and Kotoko to be together every day…!?”
Ax (vol. 1): A Collection of Alternative Manga, $29.95, Dec. 29: “Ax is the premier Japanese magazine for alternative comics. Published bi-monthly for over ten years now, the pages of Ax contain the most creative and cutting-edge works of independent comics in the world’s largest comics industry. Now Top Shelf presents a 400-page collection of stories from ten years of Ax history, translated into English for the first time! This groundbreaking book includes work by 33 artists, including Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Akino Kondoh, Kazuichi Hanawa, Shinichi Abe, and many many more!”