This year, next year

December 30, 2010

The indefatigable Deb (About.Com) Aoki has rounded up and ranked critics’ choices for the Best Manga of 2010, and it’s a fine and varied list. I’d also like to point you to Deb’s picks for Best Continuing Manga of 2010, since there’s a lot of overlap between her favorites and mine. I’m particularly pleased by her inclusion of Kaoru Tada’s Itazura na Kiss (Digital Manga); I did some catch-up reading on that one over the weekend, and it just gets better as it goes along.

Looking at Deb’s previews of promising manga due in 2011, I can’t help but pick the five that sound best to me, even if some of them counted as my most anticipated in 2010:

and one that wasn’t on Deb’s list, but I’m very eager to read:

Did some of your favorites from this year not make the critics’ round-up or Deb’s list of ongoing series? What about exciting books due in 2011?

Upcoming 12/29/2010

December 28, 2010

I’m still decompressing upon reentry to normal world as opposed to holiday sparkle world, and, to be honest, looking at this week’s ComicList is roughly akin to trying to read something written in ancient possum. My brain just isn’t there yet. I’ll rely instead on two trustworthy souls, and take their recommendation to seek out a copy of The Secret Notes of Lady Kanako (Tokyopop), written and illustrated by Ririko Tsujita. I’ve been excited about this since Melinda (Manga Bookshelf) Beasi discussed it with Michelle Smith in a recent Off the Shelf column. And Sean (A Case Suitable for Treatment) Gaffney points out that it’s from Hakusensha’s LaLa DX, which is a fine font of manga even by Hakusensha’s generally excellent standards.

I’m coherent enough to enjoy the writing of other bloggers, even if I can’t yet conjure the mental acuity to formulate a shopping list. First up are the new inductees to Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey’s Manga Hall of Shame. And, as usual, there’s a lot of overlap between my favorites and the Best Manga of 2010 list at Manga Worth Reading.

Apple of their eyes

December 20, 2010

With all the recent talk of new digital initiatives and anti-piracy efforts, I was interested to see this piece by Caleb Goellner at Comics Alliance:

“The consortium [of Japanese publishers and publishing trade organizations] basically says that Apple isn’t doing enough to defend against their material being pirated and sold through various apps for the iPhone and iPad. Apple says it’s impossible to check for all copyrighted material as it screens each submitted app, but the group says it’s unconvinced.”

If you do an app search, you’re almost certain to find an app that trades in pirated content at or near the top of your search results, just like pirated versions of popular manga will top results of any Google search you conduct. These apps usually aren’t free, so the app creators are making at least some marginal profit off of pirated works, which I think just about everyone not actively doing that sort of thing agrees is uncool. So it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me for these publishers to ask for Apple to step up, at least in the case of aggregation apps, particularly when some of the apps undoubtedly in question trade in nothing but pirated material.

Your thoughts?

License Request Day: Tezuka Appreciation Week edition

December 17, 2010

In observation of Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey’s Tezuka Appreciation Week, I thought I’d devote this week’s license request to a round-up of enticing, as-yet-unpublished-in-English works by the man in the beret.

This is certainly not the first time Osamu Tezuka has been the focus of this feature. Sick as you may be of hearing me say it, I won’t be fully satisfied as a nerd until someone publishes Princess Knight in English.

Among the many wonderful things we can learn from the French is just how much great Tezuka manga there still is to be licensed. Among the horrible things we can learn from the French is how far behind them we are.

Gringo was a finalist for the 2009 Prix Asie.

Sarutobi has been recognized at Angoulême in 2010.

And earlier this year, I was motivated to cherry-pick four other unlicensed Tezuka titles for discussion and pining, including La Femme Insecte, which I love for its cover alone. [Update: Kindly folks on Twitter reminded me that this has been licensed by Vertical and will be published as The Book of Human Insects.]

The comments of that last post drew my attention to one of Tezuka’s works for a younger audience, which I tend to neglect in favor of his deranged and sordid tales for adults. I’m talking about the seven-volume, awesomely titled Rainbow Parakeet.

It’s about a brilliant actor who uses his talents for thievery. The invaluable Tezuka in English summarizes the series as follows:

“In addition to being a cops-and-robbers action manga, the series Rainbow Parakeet is also a thorough examination of theater and film on the part of Osamu Tezuka, who was fascinated by both.”

Our anti-hero is pursued by a determined woman detective, which sounds like a refreshing change of pace. And if all of that hasn’t convinced you, let’s head back to Tezuka in English for this persuasive fact:

“Each story in the manga is based upon a famous play or movie, with a wide range of source material, including Shakespeare, Noh drama, Greek tragedy, Kabuki comedy, film, theater of the absurd, and others. Tezuka was an expert in various types of drama, and therefore wove tremendous amounts of knowledge and thought on the subject into each issue of Rainbow Parakeet.”

It originally ran in Akita Shoten’s Shônen Champion.

I believe the imaginary children are the future

December 15, 2010

For those who care about such things, which I hope is all of you, the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly has passed its Youth Healthy Development Ordinance Bill, which Tom (The Comics Reporter) Spurgeon rightly describes as “extremely depressing and… deeply unnecessary.” Kevin Melrose has additional details at Robot 6.

The must-read piece on the legislation comes from Roland Kelts, writing for The Comics Journal:

“In other words: When the welfare of real children is at stake, the government turns the other cheek. But if you dare illustrate gay or trans-generational love, watch your back. Watch what you draw is akin to watch what you think. Brave new world?”

Here’s hoping Tokyo gets a swift economic kick in response to this.

Upcoming 12/15/2010

December 13, 2010

Yen Press rules the anticipatory roost this week, at least in my neck of the woods.

Fumi Yoshinaga’s Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy arrives fashionably late to the Best of 2010 mixer, I suspect. I haven’t read it yet myself, but it’s by Yoshinaga, but it seems to be in her “irresistibly, effortlessly charming” mode. Some early responses are available from Johanna (Manga Worth Reading) Draper Carlson and Manga Bookshelf’s Off the Shelf duo of Melinda Beasi and Michelle Smith. The book inspired Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey (who reviews the book here) to host a contest, asking readers to name their favorite culinary comics.

Still on the topic of irresistibly charming comics, Yen will also release the ninth volume of Kiyohiko Azuma’s Yotsuba&!, which really requires no additional endorsement beyond just saying that it will soon be available for sale. Kind of like new Yoshinaga manga, come to think of it.

I don’t really know anything about it qualitatively, but there’s something about the cover of Yuuki Iinuma’s Itsuwaribito (Viz) that would probably make me pick it up in a store and browse a few pages. I suspect it’s the cheerful woodland creature.

What looks good to you?

Crossing the Pacific either way

December 11, 2010

Here are a couple of articles to enjoy on what I hope is a relaxing Saturday morning for you:

Over at The Comics Journal, Roland Kelts finds a new way to look at an old, old topic, “Manga versus Comics.” Kelts talks to Felipe (Peepo Choo) Smith, agent Yukari Shiina, and Tokyopop’s Stu Levy. (That last source is especially interesting, because I can’t be the only person who assumed the creepy, opportunistic North American publisher in the first volume of Peepo Choo had to be based at least a little on DJ Milky, right?)

“Smith’s is an exceptional story, to be sure, as is the story of Peepo Choo itself—a US-Japan culture clash comedy that both mocks and celebrates fans of comics and manga, illustrated in riveting and sometimes surrealistically violent detail. His achievement would seem many a foreign manga fan’s dream. But the artist remains frustrated by the us-vs-them mentality pervading the manga industry in Japan and overseas.”

It’s a solid article, not least for whatever subtext you may be inclined to add to the formal narrative. (Peepo Choo ran in Kodansha’s Morning Two, a seinen anthology spun off from, yes, Morning.)

So that breaks down some of the stumbling blocks for comics moving westward across the Pacific Ocean. What about in the other direction? At The Hooded Utilitarian, Sean Michael Robinson ponders the difficulties comics about sports have when trying to gain traction with North American audiences, as viewed through the prism of Mitsuru Adachi’s glorious Cross Game (Viz).

“With the exception of some very popular young adult sports fiction in the fifties and sixties, there’s not a very long tradition of sports fiction in America, and certainly little to no tradition of sports comics. In the eyes of many marketing strategists, a general audience uses a genre label as an aid to enter the story, a convenient short hand that serves as a hook on which to hang the other elements of the story. How do you sell a piece of fiction that most easily fits into a genre that doesn’t exist for its target audience?”

Purely based on my own experience, comic books were something you were interested in instead of sports, not in addition to sports. Being a gifted jock isn’t routinely an aspirational thing for comics fans here, I don’t think. Since comics reach a less specific audience in Japan, there’s more crossover between the kids who read them and the kids who admire sports stars or want to be them, possibly since comics are significantly less uncool among kids in Japan and (I suspect) professional jocks aren’t quite as glorified there. Just a theory. And Cross Game is great, and you should buy it.

Oh, and if you’re in the Manhattan area tomorrow (12/12/2010) and want to hear about Kodansha’s plans to release comics in English, swing by the Kinokuniya Bookstore at 2 p.m.

One Piece MMF: Appendix I

December 9, 2010

Here’s a round-up of some posts on One Piece that arrived shortly after the conclusion of the Manga Moveable Feast:

Jammer’s AniMovie Blog begins to unravel “The Threads of One Piece.”

Connie (Slightly Biased Manga) compares One Piece and Dragon Ball.

Sam (A Life in Panels) Kusek thinks Usopp looks a little jaundiced and asks you to vote for your favorite Straw Hat Lantern.

The gracious Ed (Manga Out Loud) Sizemore hosted a One Piece podcast with me, Erica (Okazu) Friedman and Sean (A Case Suitable for Treatment) Gaffney.


DeBT (Sunday Comics DeBT) marvels at the sometimes astonishing displays of violence in One Piece.

Upcoming 12/8/2010

December 7, 2010

After a shônen-heavy week, rewarding as it was, it will be nice to spare a little attention for shôjo and even josei in this week’s ComicList:

Viz debuts Julietta Suzuki’s Kamisama Kiss, about a girl who unwittingly becomes a local goddess. It happens. The series originally ran in Hakusensha’s Hana to Yume, which is a good sign, and Suzuki also created Karakuri Odette (Tokyopop), a well-liked series that will be the subject of the next Manga Moveable Feast, to be hosted at Manga Report.

On the josei front, there’s the fifth volume of Yuki Yoshihara’s smutty, ridiculous, and endearing Butterflies, Flowers (Viz). In this volume, our completely insane protagonists go furniture shopping, which will surely devolve into madness. The series originally ran in Shogakukan’s Petit Comic.

That’s not a very substantial shopping list, but other bloggers are willing and able to help you part ways with your discretionary income:

  • First up is Melinda (Manga Bookshelf) Beasi, who offers this excellent gift guide with many useful categories.
  • And if I were to write a Best of 2010 list, it would look very much like Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey’s, except mine wouldn’t be written as well. Still, book for book, I can’t find many points of disagreement. Maybe the order of a couple of items?

  • One Piece MMF: Thanks, and farewell!

    December 6, 2010

    With more than 50 fresh blog posts generated over a seven-day period, the One Piece installment of the Manga Moveable Feast has reached its conclusion. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s contributions and how delighted I am that so many people took the time to chime in on the series with their own varied thoughts. I also appreciate all of the links to the various Manga Moveable Feast updates and articles.

    Just to have them all in one place, here’s a list of the daily link updates:

  • Day One Links
  • Day Two Links
  • Day Three Links
  • Day Four Links
  • Day Five Links
  • Day Six Links
  • Day Seven Links
  • Appendix I
  • And for posterity’s sake, here are all of the Manga Moveable Feasts so far:

  • After School Nightmare (Go! Comi), hosted by Sean (A Case Suitable for Treatment) Gaffney
  • Paradise Kiss (Tokyopop), hosted by Michelle (Soliloquy in Blue) Smith
  • The Color Trilogy (First Second), hosted by Melinda (Manga Bookshelf) Beasi
  • To Terra… (Vertical), hosted by Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey
  • Mushishi (Del Rey), hosted by Ed (Manga Worth Reading) Sizemore
  • Emma (CMX), hosted by Matt (Rocket Bomber) Blind
  • Sexy Voice and Robo (Viz), hosted by me
  • If you still have some unexpressed thoughts on the series, I’ll be doing the occasional appendix post this week for folks whose schedules didn’t allow them to get their thoughts posted during the “official” period.

    The next Manga Moveable Feast will be hosted by Anna at Manga Report. Watch that site for details!

    Update: The topic and dates for the next Manga Moveable Feast have been announced!