The Seinen Alphabet: L

October 7, 2010

“L” is for…

Well, we have to start with Lone Wolf and Cub (Dark Horse), written by last week’s poster boy, Kazuo Koike, and illustrated by Goseki Kojima. It was one of the first manga series to be published in English, and it’s one of those series that many comics fans who don’t normally read manga might have read. It originally ran in Futubasha’s Weekly Manga Action and is 28 volumes long.

Koike collaborated with Kazuo Kamimura on Lady Snowblood (Dark Horse), a dark, sexy and violent revenge fantasy. The four-volume series originally ran in Shueisha’s Weekly Playboy.

Lots of people probably have some fond memories of Lupin III, written and illustrated by Monkey Punch and originally serialized in Weekly Manga Action. Tokyopop has published all 14 volumes of the series, and Cartoon Network used to broadcast episodes of the very likable anime adaptation of the capers.

I’m not sure how many people have fond memories of Lament of the Lamb, written and illustrated by Kei Toume. It’s a seven-volume vampire series that was originally serialized in Gentosha’s Comic Birz and was published in English by Tokyopop.

Sadly, Minoru Toyoda’s funny, sweet and quirky Love Roma is one of those series that may be in limbo thanks to the recent shifts between Del Rey and Kodansha. The five-volume series originally ran in Kodansha’s Afternoon.

Last Gasp publishes a lot of interesting prose and comics, some of them from Japan, and Junko Mizuno’s Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu was probably my favorite debut of 2009. The series originally ran in Enterbrain’s glorious Comic Beam. I would like the second volume now, please, thank you.

What starts with “L” in your seinen alphabet?


The Seinen Alphabet: K

September 29, 2010

“K” is for an awful lot of stuff, so I’ll try and be representative rather than comprehensive.

Kodansha! Where to even start with Kodansha? They used to work with a number of stateside publishers to license their properties, even going so far as to sharing a first-look agreement with in-limbo Del Rey, but then they ended that, yanked their licenses back from Tokyopop, and started a fairly tepid stateside publishing project of their own. They’ve got a panel scheduled at this year’s New York Anime Festival, so maybe they’re ready to kick things off properly. They’ve got a lot of great seinen magazines and properties, though.

Viz is serializing Kingyo Used Books, written and illustrated by Seimu Yoshizaki, on its SigIKKI site. It’s about the power of manga nostalgia. Other SigIKKI contributors include Mohiro Kitoh of Bokurano: Ours fame and Puncho Kondoh of Bob and His Funky Crew “fame.”

Yen Press will publish Kakiffy’s K-On! It’s a four-panel gag manga about a school music club. It originally ran in Houbunsha’s Manga Time Kiara, and I know a few people who really like the anime.

Speaking of four-panel manga published in English by Yen Press, they’ve got two from Satoko Kiyuduki. There’s the excellent Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro and GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class. I don’t know anything about GA, as I haven’t read it, as I resent it for being the apparent cause of Kiyuduki suspending work on Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro.

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service (Dark Horse), written by Eiji Otsuka and illustrated by Housui Yamazaki, originally started in a shônen magazine but currently runs in a seinen publication, Kadokawa Shoten’s Young Ace.

Kujibiki Unbalance (Del Rey) has kind of an odd provenance. It was the manga obsession of the characters in Kio Shimoku’s Genshiken (also Del Rey), and the popularity of Genshiken led Shimoku to collaborate with Keito Koume on an actual version of the fictional comic. It ran in Kodansha’s Afternoon.

Yuji Iwahara’s King of Thorn (Tokyopop) isn’t as good as his Chikyu Misaki (CMX), but he’s an amazing artist. King of Thorn ran in Enterbrain’s Comic Beam.

Kazuo Koike has written one of the most famous manga to be made available in English, Lone Wolf and Cub (Dark Horse), which was drawn by Goseki Kajima. Koike and Kajima also collaborated on Samurai Executioner and Path of the Assassin, both available in English from Dark Horse. Koike collaborated with Kazuo Kamimura on Lady Snowblood (Dark Horse) and Ryoichi Ikegami on Crying Freeman (Dark Horse). Koike also taught a college course in how to be a manga-ka.

Someone really needs to license Fumi Yoshinaga’s Kinô Nani Tabeta? It’s Yoshinaga’s first time writing for a seinen magazine (Kodansha’s Morning), and she’s writing about food again.


The Seinen Alphabet: J

September 22, 2010

“J” is for… well, not a whole lot, but…

Viz has published Jourmungand, written and illustrated by Keitaru Takahashi and originally serialized in Shogakukan’s Sunday GX.

The work of a number of spectacularly talented manga-ka is featured in Fanfare/Ponent Mon’s Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators, and many of them have created work for seinen magazines.

Araki Joh is well known for his libation-friendly manga series Bartender and Sommelier.

I would love it if someone published Iou Kuroda’s Japan Tengu Party Illustrated in English.

Also on the unlicensed front, Mitsuru Adachi’s Jinbē sounds like an interesting if tricky romance. It was originally published in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Original.

What starts with “J” in your seinen alphabet?


The Seinen Alphabet: I

September 15, 2010

“I” is for…

Ikki, which has always struck me as one of those magazines that’s more about great, varied comics than about serving a specific demographic (like Enterbrain’s Comic Beam), and I would probably buy every issue if I read Japanese and lived somewhere it might appear on newsstands. Ikki is published by Shogakukan, and Viz is serializing a number of its titles online.

Among those titles are I’ll Give it My All… Tomorrow, written and illustrated by Shunju Aono. It’s about a 40-year-old who decides to become a manga-ka to the horror of his father and daughter.

There’s also I Am a Turtle, written and illustrated by Temari Temura. It’s a slice-of-life look at a turtle who lives on a tea farm.

Daisuke Igarashi has a series on the SigIKKI site, Children of the Sea, which I like very much. His work also appeared in Fanfare/Ponent Mon’s Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators, and I’d love for someone to publish his Witches in English.

Hisae Iwaoka is the creator of the charming Saturn Apartments on the SigIKKI site.

Takehiko Inoue is probably one of the best-known manga-ka with work published in English for the very good reason that his work is excellent. On the seinen front, there’s basketball drama Real and samurai epic Vagabond, both published by Viz.

Another well-liked creator is Hitoshi Iwaaki, who created Parasyte (Del Rey). I would love for someone to publish Iwaaki’s Historie.

Motoro Mase’s Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit (Viz) originally ran in Shogakukan’s Weekly Young Sunday. It’s about a government program to teach people about the value of life by randomly killing young citizens. It swings from smart satire to wild melodrama, and I rather like it.

Yukiya Sakuragi’s Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs (Viz) originally ran in Shueisha’s Young Jump. It’s about a goodhearted (but rather dumb) young woman who works in a pet shop.

Shuichi Shigeno’s Initial D was originally serialized in Kodansha’s Weekly Young Magazine and was published in English by Tokyopop, but Kodansha reclaimed the license. It’s about street racing.

Tsutomi Takahashi’s Ice Blade was (I think) one of the first manga to be published in English in Tokyopop’s MixxZine. It originally ran in Kodansha’s Afternoon. It’s about a violent cop who plays by his own rules, as they are wont to do.

What starts with “I” in your seinen alphabet?

Updated:

I’m not sure of the exact provenance of the stories in here, but some of Jiro Taniguchi’s The Ice Wanderer and Other Stories (Fanfare/Ponent Mon) must come from seinen sources, mustn’t they? On the unlicensed front, Taniguchi collaborated with Moebius on Icaro, which ran in Kodansha’s Morning. There’s also Taniguchi’s pet-centric Inu o Kau, collecting stories that originally ran in Shogakukan’s Big Comic.

I’ve also forgotten Ryoichi Ikegami of Crying Freeman (Dark Horse) and Wounded Man (ComicsOne) fame.


The Seinen Alphabet: H

September 8, 2010

“H” is for…

High School Girls, written and illustrated by Towa Oshima, originally published by Futubasha and published in English by the defunct DrMaster. This one was subject to a lot of jokes, mostly along the lines of “Isn’t that what all manga is about?” But it’s a favorite of Ed (MangaCast) Chavez, so it deserves a place of honor.

Hayate X Blade, written and illustrated by Shizuru Hayashiya, serialized in Shueisha’s Ultra Jump and published in English by Seven Seas. It’s a favorite of Erica (Okazu) Friedman.

House of Five Leaves, written and illustrated by Natsume Ono, serialized in Shogakukan’s IKKI and on Viz’s SigIKKI site. It’s a favorite of… well… mine. And of lots of other people, I’m sure.

Lest you think that all seinen published in English has been created by women, there’s Hellsing, written and illustrated by Kouta Hirano. Hellsing is about a secret organization that protects England from various supernatural threats. Published in Japanese in Shonen Gahosha’s Young King Ours, it’s published in English by Dark Horse.

Hakusensha is best known in my neck of the woods as the publisher of terrific shôjo, but they also publish seinen in magazines like Young Animal, home to comics like Detroit Metal City and Berserk. There’s also Houbunsha, with seinen magazines like Weekly Manga Times and lots of four-panel stuff in the Manga Time family.

There are several fine-sounding series in the unpublished category.

Hataraki Man, written and illustrated by Moyoco Anno, recently resumed publication in Kodansha’s Weekly Morning.

Historie, written and illustrated by Hitoshi (Parasyte) Iwaaki, runs in Kodansha’s Afternoon. It’s about life in ancient Greece and Persia. Jason (King of RPGs) Thompson wrote about it for ComiXology.

I’d never heard of Human Crossing before, but it sounds kind of great. It was written by Masao Yajima and illustrated by Kenshi Hirokane, and it ran in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Original, winning a Shogakukan Manga Award. Another update: It seems strangely remiss of me not to specifically note that Hirokane is the godfather of salaryman manga, having created white-collar wonder Kôsaku Shima.

There’s something about the cover and concept of Hanamaru Kindergarten that I find perfectly terrifying, but perhaps this is because I’ve been listening to Ed Sizemore and Erica Friedman’s delightful podcast on moe. It’s written and illustrated by Yuto and published in Square Enix’s Young Gangan. I readily admit that I have no idea if where it falls on the cute-creepy spectrum. Updated yet again: A commenter informs me that this is very likely just cute instead of possessed of any leering intent.

What starts with the letter “H” in your seinen alphabet?

Updated to add some other titles mentioned in the comments and on Twitter by various kind folks:

  • Homonculus, written and illustrated by Hideo Yamamoto, originally published in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Spirits, which Scott Green describes as “the only manga to make [him] feel physically ill”
  • Hen, written and illustrated by Hiroya (Gantz) Oku, originally published in Shueisha’s Young Jump
  • Happy! written and illustrated by Naoki (Monster, 20th Century Boys, Pluto) Urasawa, originally published in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Spirits

  • The Seinen Alphabet: G

    September 1, 2010

    “G” is for…

    Let’s start with Gantz (Dark Horse), written and illustrated by Hiroya Oku and originally serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Young Jump. It’s about a mysterious super-computer that plucks random people from the moment of their imminent deaths and forces them to weapon up and try and kill aliens. It’s packed with gratuitous violence and nudity, which makes it the platonic ideal of one definition of seinen.

    You can’t leave off Ghost in the Shell (Kodansha USA), written and illustrated by Shirow Masamune and originally serialized in Kodansha’s Young, mostly because it’s one of the seinen titles that people who don’t read comics have probably heard of because the anime has run on Adult Swim. It’s about hot cyborgs fighting technological crime in a future near-dystopia. It was originally published in English by Dark Horse, then it was reclaimed by Kodansha who’s busily republishing an early Dark Horse version of the book, which apparently is meant to mark their big effort in publishing their own comics in English.

    Gankutsou: The Count of Monte Cristo (Del Rey), written by Mahiro Maeda and illustrated by Yuri Ariwara, offers a sci-fi take on the classic adventure novel. It was originally published in Kodansha’s Afternoon.

    Four-panel manga can be seinen, as demonstrated by GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class (Yen Press), written and illustrated by Satoko Kiyuduki. It’s about five cute girls who study art, and it’s serialized in Houbunsha’s Manga Time Kiara Carat.

    No one has published an English version of award-winning mecha classic Galaxy Express 999, written and illustrated by Leiji Matsumoto, though five apparently published five volumes of one of the title’s sequels at some point. The original was serialized in Shogakukan’s Big Comic.

    Viz has published Gimmick!, written and illustrated by Youzaburou Kanari and illustrated by Kuroko Yabuguchi. It’s about a special-effects expert who helps people avoid difficult and potentially dangerous circumstances through the art of disguise. It was originally published in Shueisha’s Weekly Young Jump.

    My very favorite English-language seinen starting with the letter G would have to be Kio Shimoku’s Genshiken (Del Rey), which originally ran in Kodansha’s Afternoon. It’s an awesome slice-of-life series about a college club that takes an equal opportunity approach to geekery.

    It never actually ran in a magazine, but Taiyo Matsumoto’s GoGo Monster probably would have run in a seinen magazine if it had ever been serialized instead of being dropped on an eager public in its whole and perfect state.

    The beauty of Junji Ito’s Gyo (Viz) is that it manages to be both ridiculous and horrifying at the same time. It’s about fish with robotic exoskeletons who surge out of the ocean and attack people, and it’s absurd and scary in equal parts. It originally ran in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Spirits. The cover image above is from Viz’s second version of the series. The first version is less sleek, but I like it better, since it captures the story’s cheesy charm.

    And I’d be totally remiss if I didn’t mention Japan’s more ruthless answer to James Bond, Golgo 13 (published in part by Viz), written and illustrated by Takao Saito, which has been running in Shogakukan’s Big Comic since shortly after the earth cooled. Seriously, there are over 150 volumes of this series, and it’s still running. This is actually an even more platonically ideal example of a very common definition of seinen, because it’s got a super-cool salaryman whose job just happens to be killing people.

    Was the legendary alternative comics magazine Garo seinen in a technical sense? Probably not, but I suspect a lot of its readers were adult men. Here’s a piece at Same Hat! about an exhibit featuring work from Garo.

    Again, I don’t know if you can specifically define gekiga as a subset of seinen, but I suspect the dramatic stories for grown-ups had a significant audience of adult males.

    So what starts with “G” in your seinen alphabet?

    Updates:

    I was reminded of a previous license request for Osamu Tezuka’s Gringo, which was nominated for a Prix Asie and originally ran in Big Comic.


    The Seinen Alphabet: F

    August 25, 2010

    I’ll tell you right now that I have the feeling that I’m going to forget something critical in this installment of the Seinen Alphabet, so feel free to amend in the comments. The “F” entry for the the Shôjo-Sunjeong Alphabet was crazy huge, but Seinen? Well, “F” is for…

    Fan service… but fan service isn’t unique to seinen, obviously. Every category features ways its creators can cater to their audience.

    Tokyopop has published a couple of seinen manga that starts with “F.”

    Futari Ecchi, written and illustrated by Katsu Aki, was published in English as Manga Sutra, and golly, did I find the first volume to be boring.

    And there’s FLCL, adapted by Hajime Ueda.

    Takuya Fujima’s Free Collars Kingdom (Del Rey) doesn’t immediately look like seinen, but it ran in Kodansha’s Magazine Z. Here’s Fujima’s profile on Baka-Updates, with more seinen titles in his portfolio.

    Media Blasters has published at least three volumes of Natsumi Konjoh’s Fujoshi Rumi.

    On the unlicensed front, I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on Jiro Matsumoto’s Freesia.

    There’s apparently a seinen version of Fist of the North Star that has yet to be published in English. It was serialized in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Superior. And there’s another seinen version running in Shinchosa’s Comic Bunch.

    But what does “F” stand for in your Seinen Alphabet?


    The Seinen Alphabet: E

    August 18, 2010

    We’ve reached a great letter in the seinen alphabet, at least in terms of licensed manga. “E” is for…

    We’ll start with Eden: It’s an Endless World! (Dark Horse), written and illustrated by Hiroki Endo, which is a dense and violent science fiction tale of the world after a pernicious outbreak. The human population has been decimated and is trying to rebuild itself while military and corporate forces scheme in the background. It’s great stuff, if not wildly commercially successful, which is too bad. It originally ran in Kodansha’s Afternoon.

    Endo’s two-volume Tanpenshu, collecting varied short stories, has also been published by Dark Horse. These stories also first appeared in Afternoon.

    Some people find it difficult to believe that Kaoru Mori’s lovely Emma (CMX) originally ran in a seinen magazine (Enterbrain’s near-perfect Comic Beam), but it did. It’s a glorious tale of a Victorian maid and her romance with a young man from the emerging upper middle class. Roughly 1,000 bloggers wrote about it in this installment of the Manga Moveable Feast.

    Fuyumi Soryo may be more well known for her shôjo work, but she has at least one brilliant seinen series available in English: ES: Eternal Sabbath (Del Rey). It’s about powerful psychic clones trying to figure out where they fit in human society with sometimes violent and disturbing results. Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey wrote about it in this piece on “The Best Manga You’re Not Reading.” ES originally ran in Kodansha’s Weekly Morning.

    Ask any random group of manga diehards what series they’d like to see rescued from publishing limbo, and you’re likely to hear a lot of them answer Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga, a delightfully blistering industry satire from Koji Aihara and Kentaro Takekuma. Viz published one volume of it, and the second and third volumes still lurk out there, teasing us all. It was originally serialized in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Spirits.

    I’ll confess to only a passing familiarity with Rikdo Koshi’s Excel Saga (Viz), which is serialized in Shonen Gahosha’s Young King OURs. Please feel free to jump in the comments and try and convince me that I should expand my knowledge of this series.

    Many of my license requests come from Kodansha’s seinen magazines, but I don’t recall asking for much from Evening yet. I think Masayuki Ishakawa’s Moyasimon (Del Rey) was picked up before I started the feature. Still, Endo has another series from Evening called All Rounder Meguru that might be promising. It’s about mixed martial arts. Here’s Evening’s Japanese site.

    What starts with the letter “E” in your seinen alphabet?


    The Seinen Alphabet: D

    August 11, 2010

    I started this project a while ago, but then I took a break because the manga industry was irritating me. My equilibrium has largely been restored, so let’s resume! In just a minute! After I relate the essence of an interesting conversation I had with Erica (Okazu) Friedman about seinen. She had recently written a piece for The Manga Critic in which she expressed an enduring fondness for seinen, but she noted that the seinen we tend to see isn’t representative of the vast majority of the category, which is much more “Clive Cussler audience” in nature than the art manga we tend to see. I’m not saying I’m dying for Clive Cussler audience manga, but I thought that was worth noting, at least to drive me to confess that I’m not as interested in the macho stuff as I am the off-brand stuff. All that said, “D” is for…

    North American publishers Dark Horse and Del Rey (I hate your new web site!) have both published a number of seinen manga titles. Dark Horse in particular is well known for its releases in this category. Before it shifted its priorities primarily to shônen-ai and yaoi, Digital Manga published some nifty seinen titles. DC published a number of excellent seinen series under its CMX imprint, but then they killed the line because they can’t make all the profit off of crappy movie adaptations of Emma starring Jennifer Aniston. Okay, we should all be thankful for that.

    I’m never exactly sure where the demarcation point is between gekiga and seinen, though I would assume that gekiga can be viewed as a subset of seinen. Thus, a nod must go to Drawn & Quarterly for publishing a great deal of work by Yoshihiro Tatsumi, who helped create gekiga and whose autogiobraphy, A Drifting Life, recently won a few Eisner Awards.

    On the licensed front, there are several Viz titles worth mentioning.

    Detroit Metal City, written and illustrated by Kiminori Wakasugi and originally serialized in Hakusensha’s Young Animal, is a hilarious parody of death metal, its providers and adherents.

    Shirow Miwa’s Dogs, originally serialized in Shueisha’s Ultra Jump, has some amazing art and takes an interesting approach to ultra-violence.

    Q Hayashida’s Dorohedoro blends ultra-violence, comedy and the supernatural. It originally ran in Shogakukan’s Ikki magazine and is serialized on Viz’s SigIKKI site.

    Fanfare/Ponent Mon has published Jiro Taniguchi’s A Distant Neighborhood about a man who gets the chance to relive his early teens. The comic was originally published in Shogakukan’s Big Comic.

    They’ve also published Hideo Azuma’s autobiographical Disappearance Diary, originally published by East Press.

    And there’s Doing Time, Kazuichi Hanawa’s autobiography of his stint in prison.

    We came this close to not seeing all of it in print, but dedicated fan nagging resulted in Tokyopop releasing all of Minetaro Mochizuki’s amazing survival drama Dragon Head, which originally ran in Kodansha’s Young Magazine.

    On the unlicensed front, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Drops of God, written by Tadashi Agi, illustrated by Shu Okimoto, serialized in Kodansha’s Weekly Morning, and profiled in roughly one million news articles.

    Kio Shimoku, gifted creator of Genshiken, has a new series in Kodansha’s Afternoon called Digopuri, which is about a newborn and the frazzled adults around her.

    Delcourt publishes some awesome manga in French, some of it seinen.

    I’m never sure about the magazine Dengeki Daioh, published by Media Works. Most of the resources list it as shônen, but it’s widely described as basically being for perv-y grown men perhaps best represented by the male teacher in Azumanga Daioh, which ran in Dengeki Daioh. And here lie the perils of discussing categories! Does one go with the official publisher line? The on-the-ground reality? Or the general, filtering perception that reaches North American shores?

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

    Updated:

    Commenter Jim mentioned Naoki Yamamoto’s Dance Till Tomorrow, a seven-volume series published by Viz and originally serialized in Shogakukan’s Weekly Big Comic Spirits. It was serialized in Viz’s Pulp up until its cancellation.


    The Seinen Alphabet: C

    May 12, 2010

    We’re already up to the letter “C”! That means I can write about one of my favorite magazines that I’ve never actually read!

    That would be Enterbrain’s COMIC BEAM, which I’m sure I’d read regularly, because the comics it serializes are so amazing. Or at least the ones that have been licensed for publication in English, like Kaoru Mori’s Emma (CMX), Junko Mizuno’s Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu (Last Gasp), and Takako Shimura’s Wandering Son (coming up from Fantagraphics). Given the range of titles Comic Beam has fostered, I’m guessing it’s more of a magazine for comic geeks than for the adult male demographic. That’s just a theory, though.

    Other “starts-with-C” anthologies include Media Factory’s COMIC FLAPPER, which is noteworthy to me mostly for having given the world Kazuhiro Okamoto’s Translucent (Dark Horse) and the recently released Twin Spica (Vertical).

    Back in the late 1960s, Osamu Tezuka started COM as a venue for alternative manga (and to compete with Garo).

    On the licensed front, Dark Horse has published CRYING FREEMAN, written by the legendary Kazuo Koike and illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegami. It originally ran in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Spirits. Dark Horse scores a double-“C” hit by re-releasing CLAMP’S CHOBITS, which originally ran in Kodansha’s Young Magazine.

    CMX has published the vulgar and hilarious CRAYON SHIN-CHAN, written and illustrated by the late Yoshito Usui and serialized by Futubasha in Weekly Manga Action and Manga Town. (It was originally published in English by the defunct COMICSONE, which published seinen titles like High School Girls and Wounded Man.) Of course, CMX has published some fine seinen, much of it from the aforementioned Comic Beam.

    Viz has at least two fine seinen entries that fall under the letter “C.” There’s Kazuo Umezu’s CAT-EYED BOY, handsomely collected in two volumes and originally serialized in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Special.

    And Viz’s SigIKKI site essentially launched with Daisuke Igarashi’s CHILDREN OF THE SEA, a beautifully drawn story of coming of age and environmental peril.

    And Vertical will amaze and delight with the publication of CHI’S SWEET HOME, written and illustrated by Konata Komani and originally serialized in Kodansha’s Morning.

    On the license request front, I’m always game for more work by Natsume Ono, so how about COPPERS, serialized in Kodansha’s Morning Two?

    What’s filed under “C” in your seinen alphabet?