The Seinen Alphabet: B

The inaugural installment of The Seinen Alphabet taught me that I’ll almost always forget something essential, so I’ll note right now that I reserve the right to update these posts within an inch of their lives. Now, let’s move on to the letter “B.”

We’ll start with Shogakukan’s BIG COMIC family of seinen magazines. Launched in 1968, they’ve provided a showcase for a lot of Osamu Tezuka’s comics for grown-ups including Ayako and MW. Takao Saito’s Golgo 13 is still going strong almost 150 volumes later. It was also the magazine home of Taiyo Matsumoto’s Tekkonkinkreet, originally published in English and still subtitled as BLACK AND WHITE. Another member of this magazine family, BIG COMIC SPIRITS, is the home of series like Oishinbo and Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit.

Shogakukan’s partner in Viz but rival otherwise, Shueisha, offers BUSINESS JUMP. Shueisha also published a magazine named BART during the 1990s. There’s not a lot of Business Jump manga available in English, is there? What am I missing?

I don’t know a lot about the publisher known as BUNGEISHUNJÛ, except that they publish a seinen magazine called Shukan Bunshun and that they’ve been offering a manga award since the 1950s.

On the license request front, I’ve already discussed the apparently pasta-riffic manga BAMBINO! and BAMBINO! SECONDO, written and illustrated by Tetsuji Sekiya. What’s food without drink, one must wonder? That’s why I’ve asked for someone to license Araki Joh’s BARTENDER. And since there can never be enough Tezuka in English, I’ll renew my call for a licensed translation of BARBARA.

Moving onto the license requests that have lived only in my secret heart, there’s Naoki Urasawa and Takashi Nagasaki’s BILLY BAT, which is currently being serialized in Kodansha’s Morning magazine. It’s a period thriller about a comic creator who realizes he may have unintentionally plagiarized a similar manga. It’s also Urasawa, so it has to be good, right?

On the list of unfinished series that I would love to see start up again, Atsushi Kaneko’s BAMBI AND HER PINK GUN would be somewhere near the very top. It originally ran in Enterbrain’s Comic Beam, which we all know is a source of joy and wonder.

BATTLE ROYALE, Koushun Takami and Masayuki Taguchi’s tale of teens forced to murder each other, was originally serialized in Akita Publishing’s Young Champion. It’s received regular and prestige printings in English from Tokyopop, though I recall not everyone being happy with the translation and adaptation. It’s perennially popular, though, and I seem to recall it doing well in comic shops, which tend to be seinen-friendly settings.

Dark Horse ensures that we have no shortage of starts-with-“B” bloodbath titles. There’s BERSERK, written and illustrated by Kentaro Miura and originally serialized in Hakusensha’s Young Animal. There’s also Hiroku Samura’s BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL, still going strong in Kodansha’s Afternoon.

But what if you’re in a more philosophical place? Worry not, as Vertical has published handsome hardcover and paperback editions of Osamu Tezuka’s masterful BUDDHA, originally serialized in a few magazines from Ushio Shuppansha and later collected by Kodansha, I believe.

It’s difficult to imagine, but what if your needs for hilarious pirate violence aren’t entirely met by One Piece? If that’s the case, or if you want your hilarious pirate violence to have a more adult edge, then look no farther than Rei Hiroe’s BLACK LAGOON (Viz), originally serialized in Shogakukan’s Sunday GX.

The aforementioned Taiyo Matsumoto may be consistently critically acclaimed, but his commercial record is a bit more inconsistent. Take BLUE SPRING, originally published by Shogakukan and later licensed and translated by Viz. It was not, I gather, a sales blockbuster.

But Viz keeps trying to sell seinen. Their SigIKKI site, featuring titles from Shogakukan’s IKKI magazine, is an excellent example. One of those titles is BOKURANO: OURS, written and illustrated by Mohiro Kitoh. It’s a grim-and-gritty take on giant fighting robots filled with plucky kids, and I can’t say it’s my favorite in the SigIKKI rotation, running a little too Mark Millar for my tastes. I’ve only seen one chapter of Puncho Kondoh’s BOB & HIS FUNKY CREW on the same site, and let’s just say that I don’t exactly feel the void from the absence of subsequent installments.

So, what starts with the letter “B” in your seinen alphabet?

14 Responses to The Seinen Alphabet: B

  1. Sean G says:

    Business Jump has a lot of beloved romantic comedies that have never been licensed over here, mostly as they’re more mature, have many volumes, and are realistic rather than wacky, all of which adds up to high risk for Viz. My favorites include Yume de Aetera and Orange Yane no Chīsana Ie, by Noriyuki Yamahana; Yesterday o Utatte, by Toume Kei, who wrote Kurogane; and of course GUNNM, better known over here as Battle Angel Alita, whose sequel/continuation is now running in Viz’s Ultra Jump.

  2. davidpwelsh says:

    Mature, realistic romantic comedies sound great to me. Thanks for the background!

  3. Rij says:

    Three notable omissions come to mind. Bamboo Blade, Berserk and Blame. I’ve only read Bamboo Blade of the three and I’ve enjoyed it somewhat, despite the moe filled premise. At least there’s no fanservice.

  4. […] Welsh counts all the seinen manga beginning with the letter B at The Manga Curmudgeon. David also posts his take on this week’s new releases, and at […]

  5. Vivian says:

    I enjoyed Bow Wow Wata, the veterinary manga, while it lasted. I wish someone would release the rest of it in English.

  6. James Moar says:

    Okay, the comparison of One Piece and Black Lagoon is making me imagine what a crossover would be like (ill-advised, for starters).

  7. […] request day: Noriyuki Yamahana In this week’s installment of The Seinen Alphabet, I wondered about the dearth of licensed titles from Shueisha’s Business […]

  8. Ed says:

    [poof] You called…

    Hmm let’s see, where do I start?

    First Black Lagoon is a shounen title.

    Bar Lemon Heart is the king of cocktail/alcohol/food manga. This is the standard and exactly what every other manga that has followed it should replicate. It focuses on the drink, wraps an fast fun story around it and the hits the reader with a nostalgia that forces them to want to taste…even if they’ve never experienced it before.

    Battle Angel Alita: Last Exile has all the tools to be huge in the US–sci-fi, vampires, rollerball–but it’s been going on for far too long. Continues to be a guilty pleasure of mine.

    Believers from my second favorite artist Naoki Yamamoto takes a look at cults and pop-culture and adds just enough eros to make it even more mind bending. Pure genius and unpossible to license. Yes, unpossible.

    Boku no Shokibou no Seikatsu (My Life of Little Hope) was the best manga of 2008 and features the best look at the modern manga industry out there right now. Screw Bakuman most mangaka have no hope, no life, no love…just work! (running in Morning)

  9. Ed says:

    Sunday GX is a spin-off of Shounen Sunday. Specifically it is the media-mix arm of Sunday that acts as a stepping stone to seinen mags Young Sunday (now defunct) and then to the Big Comics line.

    Maybe now with Young Sunday out of the picture most are treating the more advanced art-styles and story-telling of GX as seinen when it is at most a Young mag.

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