Sexy Voice and Robo MMF: Matt Blind

February 15, 2010

Matt (Rocket Bomber) Blind not only reviews Sexy Voice and Robo

“It’s a great mix of art and story and character, and I can only imagine what it’s reception would have been if Kuroda had been an American comicker in 2008 rather than a manga-ka in Japan in 2001.”

… he demystifies the “Moveable Feast” as it applies here:

“So our adaptation and use of the term ‘A Manga Moveable Feast’ could be considered as both a celebration with no fixed date (or location) and also a collection of voices and perspectives that may have no other common associations past the fact that they happen to cohabit the same space at the same point in time, and that they engage each other for so long as all inhabit the same moment. (But, of course, with manga.) (and trying to catch a little bit of that Paris magic.)”

Click here for a running list of entries to this edition of the Manga Moveable Feast.

Sexy Voice and Robo MMF: Ed Sizemore

February 15, 2010

At Manga Worth Reading, Ed Sizemore draws some interesting comparisons between Sexy Voice and Robo and the work one of the defining creators of gekiga:

“Gegika chronicled the new social realities of the post-World War II industrial revolution in Japan. In particular, gegika focused on the underbelly of Japanese society that emerged as a result of Japan’s swift transformation from a rural and agrarian economic base to an urban and industrial one. By contrast, Sexy Voice and Robo’s neo-gegika explores the unseemly side of Japanese society that emerges in the wake of the computer revolution in the 1990s and 2000s. Japan is now shifting from an industrial economic base to a computerized one.”

Click here for a running list of entries to this edition of the Manga Moveable Feast.

From the stack: Reversible vol. 1

February 15, 2010

Reversible (Juné) is a collection of short boys’-love stories by new-ish creators. It sounded ideal for a picky boys’-love reader like me, a chance to speed-date different manga-ka without having to commit to 200 pages of work that didn’t click. Unfortunately, a lot of the work feels like an audition, demonstrating a boys’-love skill set rather than exhibiting a specific voice or point of view.

That isn’t to say that the work contained here is ever particularly bad. The stories are polished for the most part. They’re also kind of generic.

Things start well with Saki Takari’s “Tell Me You Like Me,” a cheerfully smutty tale of salarymen at an awkward, early stage in their relationship. Takari’s pages have a lot of energy and a nice sense of composition, plus a sprinkling of character-driven humor.

Next up is an unremarkable story about an unrequited schoolboy crush, Goroh’s “Perfect Age.” Haruki Fujimoto’s “Boyfriend” covers the same territory later with equally unremarkable results. This trend of bland treatment of identical subjects recurs with Saito’s “Catch” and Kometa Yonekura’s “Caged Bird,” both of which feature curious bottoms and the aggressive tops who go a little faster than they’d like. (Just a little, though, and these stories are about as close as the volume comes to the “no… no… yes” stuff that leaves me cold.)

There are some fun bits in the mix. One is Neiri Koizumi’s “Sakuragawa University Cheer Squad,” which has the benefit of a quirky, ill-tempered protagonist. His crush on his nephew’s teacher is repeatedly undone by circumstances. Even more odd is the lead of Tomoko Takakura’s “Office Mermaid,” a tropical-fish-loving, germ-fearing salaryman who falls for the ethereal new guy in the server farm. “I’ll bet he doesn’t sweat at all,” swoons the fussbudget. Neither of these stories hews too closely to genre tropes, and both seem to indicate a level of personality and idiosyncrasy on the creators’ part. I’d read more by either of them.

Of the rest, I liked Shiori Ikezawa’s “It Falls at Night” about a pair of high-school boys trying to salvage some romantic time at the end of a too-busy summer vacation. There’s some awkwardness to the narrative, but the characters have nice chemistry and I liked the twist on the abandoned-school dare.

Misora Hatori’s “Dear Boys” is the most like a try-out first chapter of a longer series and, coincidentally, the one I’d be least likely to read in longer form. It seems to be about one of those weirdly coercive student councils that hopefully only exist in manga, an awkward mash-up of Ouran High School Host Club and Gakuen Prince with a little of Setona Mizushiro’s visual flourish. And it may not say anything about the empirical quality of the material, but there are few subjects less interesting to me than romantic relationships between humans and angels, no matter the gender mix, so Midori Nishiogi’s “Happiness, Fun, Kindness” lost me at the gate.

Is “I don’t regret buying this book” a positive review? I guess it must be in some sense, and I did like about a third of the work here and didn’t find the remainder offensive. There’s just a lot of competent porridge collected here, and it needed more spice.