Out and about

October 13, 2009

adncontest

Oh, to be 14 again and able to drink like that! Ah, nostalgia. Anyway, just a reminder that I’m giving away a copy of the first volume of Jiro Taniguchi’s A Distant Neighborhood (Fanfare/Ponent Mon). Click here for details, or… y’know… scroll down a little bit.

In other Taniguchi news, Kate Dacey has posted a thoughtful review of Taniguchi’s other recent release, The Summit of the Gods. Over at About.Com, Deb Aoki offers a manga-rich preview of this weekend’s Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco. Fanfare will be there, along with other providers of high-quality comics from Japan. And you should buy a copy of the new hardcover of Fumiyo Kouno’s Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms from Last Gasp, because it’s one of the most beautiful comics ever made.


Addenda

August 26, 2009

lfgp

I overlooked a choice item on this week’s shipping list, as it was part of Diamond’s Adult roster of arrivals. (I hope I’m in the minority.) It’s Junko Mizuno’s Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu from Last Gasp, and it’s easily the pick of the week:

“Artist Junko Mizuno unleashes her unique graphic storytelling sensibilities on a tale that’s frequently adorable, sometimes grotesque, and surprisingly moving.”

It sounds like vintage Mizuno, in other words. Deb Aoki has an interview with Mizuno up at About.Com conducted at a signing at New People in San Francisco. Ryan Sands has some photos of the event over at Same Hat! Same Hat! (Oh, and Sands is interviewed by Kai-Ming Cha in the latest Publishers Weekly Comics Week about his upcoming Last Gasp project, Suehiro Maruo’s The Strange Tale of Panorama Island.)

iamaturtle

In other fringe manga news, Viz has added another series to its SIGIKKI line-up, Temari Tamura’s I Am a Turtle:

“Follow this turtle down a Zen path through the wondrous natural world of Japan. Witness his simple life on a tea farm with his young master. Meet other animals such as his neighbor, the Sea Dog, an owl, a family of boars and, of course, more turtles! Come see how much better life can be when you’re a turtle.”

I don’t think that was ever really in question, was it? Looks like a quirky, well-drawn, reasonably charming offering to me.

Oh, and utterly unrelated, while looking around Diamond’s site, I noticed this article on the best fictional schools and was scandalized to find not a single entry from any manga series. This seems egregious, given the volume of such institutions available for consideration.


Upcoming 7/15/2009

July 14, 2009

It’s a slim one, but let’s take a quick look at this week’s ComicList:

swallowingThe week’s standout (at least in terms of items actually confirmed to be shipping through Diamond) is Osamu Tezuka’s Swallowing the Earth (DMP). Early reviews have been mixed on some points, most notably a rather un-evolved portrayal of women, but we all know that any newly translated Tezuka is worth reading. And when it’s crazy early gekiga from Tezuka, it’s even worthier. Here’s part of the plot summary: “What brought this woman to conspire for decades against patriarchal society – against an entire gender – and can anything be done to stop her plans?”

littlemouseI don’t see it on the ComicList, but the weekly arrivals e-mail from the local shop indicates the arrival of Jeff Smith’s Little Mouse Gets Ready (Toon Books). As with Tezuka, anything from Smith is worth reading, and this book looks adorable: “There’s lots to do before Little Mouse is ready to go visit the barn. Will he master all the intricacies of getting dressed, from snaps and buttons to Velcro and tail holes?” Yes, it’s a book for children, but that’s never stopped me before, and it certainly isn’t going to stop me now.

If you find yourself with extra cash in the comics budget and a surfeit of new arrivals to meet your needs, you might head on over to Twitter and check out the weekly #mangamonday tweets. The recommendations range from hot-off-the-press items to vintage oddities.

And while it isn’t a new release yet, I’m thrilled to read Deb Aoki’s news that Last Gasp will be publishing a hardcover version of Fumiyo Kouno’s exquisite, extraordinarily moving Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms. I already own the softcover, but I’ll definitely go for the hardcover as well, then donate the paperback to the library.


More braiiiiiiiiiiins

December 8, 2008

After the rich visuals and general uplift of Takehiko Inoue’s manga, I decided I needed a change of pace. So this week’s Flipped focuses on Tokyo Zombie (Last Gasp).


Upcoming 7/30/2008

July 29, 2008

Hey, why didn’t anyone tell me it was Weird Manga Week? At least that’s what it seems like after a quick glance at tomorrow’s ComicList.

Fortunately, this week’s Flipped at The Comics Reporter looks at the strangeness that is Akira Hiramoto’s Me and the Devil Blues (Del Rey). Weird enough for any week, you say? But wait! There’s more!

Del Rey also delivers the fourth volume of Hitoshi Iwaaki’s Parasyte, for that tried-and-true, old-school manga weirdness.

And you can pretty much guess that anything released by Last Gasp is going to be at least a little bit unusual, and it will probably also be pretty great. At least that’s my theory about Yusaku Hanakuma’s Tokyo Zombies. And the title is apparently entirely accurate. And Ryan Sands, of Same Hat! Same Hat! fame translated it, and his credentials in the area of weird manga are absolutely impeccable.


The best graphic novel of 2007

December 30, 2007

In a comment, Huff expressed the opinion that the publication of Fumiyo Kouno’s Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms was one of the manga events of 2007. Huff goes on to regret the fact that not nearly enough people have read it, and I have to agree. While I can’t say definitively that it was the best graphic novel published in English in 2007 (as I haven’t read all of them and don’t have any intention to try), I can say without hesitation that it was the best graphic novel published in English in 2007 that I read.

The book has gotten under my skin, and I’ve read it repeatedly since its publication in March. And while I really do try and avoid being one of those nags that pops a vein when I find out that people haven’t read this or that book, this one is so good that it’s sparked my generally suppressed comics activist tendencies. So, in the hopes of persuading more people to read Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms, here are some examples of what people have said about it. (If you’ve read and written about it, please feel free to send me the link or post it in the comments, and I’ll update this entry.)

New York Magazine’s Dan Kois names it one of the best comics of 2007.

Jason Thompson discusses the book in Otaku USA:

“As plot summaries, Kouno’s tales sound melodramatically sad: a struggling young woman lives with her mother in the shantytowns of 1955 Hiroshima; a young girl in modern-day Tokyo learns more about her family’s past. But Town of Evening Calm is not a predictable lesson about prejudice, or a weepy melodrama; the plot feels real. The romances between the characters are charming, fitting nicely with the sweet artwork. The scenes of daily life—sitting on a grassy riverbank, sewing, children playing—are welcoming. The antiwar message is unspoken, and comes naturally from the desire not to see the characters die. Only occasionally does it become explicit, as when a dying victim of radiation sickness asks bitterly, ‘I wonder what the people who built the bomb are thinking … ‘Hooray, got another one’?’”

Nick Mullins reviews the book at nijomu blog:

“This is a quiet little book that I can see easily slipping beneath most people’s radar. And that’d be a pity, because Kouno has given us such a wonderful reading experience. She is a master craftsperson with a keen eye on the strength and fragility of the human heart. Her kind of artistic honesty will always be needed, but seems especially poignant for people in the U.S. these days.”

Shaenon K. Garrity features the book in an installment of her Overlooked Manga Festival:

“Manga fans may be a little taken aback by Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms. In stark contrast to the fast-paced, plot-driven approach of most mainstream manga–and, for that matter, a lot of alternative manga–it’s slow, casual, subtle, and largely plotless. Kouno invites you to spend some time with her characters and their city, and then she steps aside. But what a visit.”

Katherine Dacey-Tsuei gives it an A+ at Manga Recon:

“Kouno’s refusal to impose an obvious dramatic structure on either story, her deft manipulation of time, and her emphasis on small, everyday moments, inoculate Town of Evening Calm against sentimentality and mawkishness. The artwork is clean and simple, with enough background detail to bring the streets of Hiroshima to vivid life. Kouno’s character designs have a slightly rough, clumsy quality to them; the adults’ large heads and large feet seem to belong to bigger bodies. Yet these awkward proportions don’t detract from the beauty of the work; if anything, the illustrations make Kouno’s characters seem more vulnerable, more imperfect, more fragile—in short, more human and more believable. And that honest vulnerability, in turn, makes it possible for readers from all walks of life to enter sympathetically into Kouno’s haunting yet life-affirming story.”

Dacey-Tsuei subsequently includes it in her list of favorite manga from 2007, also at Manga Recon.

I beg readers to buy it in a Flipped column:

“So, you should buy this book, because it’s good in every way that matters. Reading it will give you genuine pleasure, and that pleasure will only be enhanced by the worthiness of the subject matter and Kouno’s intelligence and sensitivity in dramatizing it.”

Jog recommends it in his inimitable fashion at his blog:

“In the end, this is a deeply affirmative book, one eager to seat the reader on its final image of a train barreling toward the future, unsatisfied with merely soaking in the miserable facts of life and collecting awards for it – this book wants to address the here and now as well, and confront issues of society through its beguiling style.”

Christopher Butcher sings its praises:

“This right here? This is one of those important manga that you hear about every once in a while. Two short stories about the after-effects of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, years after the blast. I’ve already had the good fortune to read this and it’s absolutely incredible.”

The book is nominated for inclusion in the Young Adult Library Services Association’s list of Great Graphic Novels for Teens.


Manga chic

March 13, 2007

Manga Month may still be down the road a ways, but it seems like it’s Boutique Week on the ComicList, with welcome arrivals from smaller publishers.

Take the pick of the week, Fumiyo Kouno’s Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms from Last Gasp. The U.S. publisher of Keiji Nakazawa’s legendary Barefoot Gen offers another perspective at Japan after the atomic bomb, and I’ve heard nothing but enthusiastic responses from people who’ve read it in scanlation or Japanese.

Fresh on the heels of MangaBlog’s interview with Stephen Robson, Fanfare/Ponent Mon releases the third volume of Times of Botchan, scripted by Natsuo Sekikawa and conceived and drawn by the superb Jiro (The Walking Man) Taniguchi, and re-offers Yukiko’s Spinach, written by Frédéric Boilet and drawn by the fabulous Kan (Kinderbook) Takahama.

Gullywasher offers Danica Novgorodoff’s Isotope Award-winning mini-comic, A Late Freeze, which I really enjoyed.

Okay, CMX is an arm of DC, so it’s not really boutique-y, but Kaoru Mori’s Emma feels boutique-y, and I’m holding on to this theme with my fingernails. The third volume ships on Wednesday, and it’s lovely.

And Blu offers Hirotaka Kisaragi’s Innocent Bird, which I bought over the weekend because it seemed like it would be enthusiastically tawdry but turned out to be sort of interesting and thoughtful instead. I liked it, but I can’t say I’m not a little bit disappointed by the smut shortage. Stupid plastic wrap.