By Mat K.
Welcome otaku boys and girls, and I’m dry on article titles for now. Moving forward, this week isn’t very tremendous in terms of quantity of new books coming out, despite it being the first week of December, but there are definitely some desired or at least intriguing books coming in. I’ll start with some small mentions. TokyoPop puts out Lagoon Engine Volume 7 this week, a record 3 years after volume 6, (that’s right, six came out in 2007 folks), but I ranted enough about that last week. They also put out NG Life volume 7. From the Del Rey side of things, they’re continuing their omnibus editions playing catch up with their titles with Papillon Volume 5 and 6 together, and Psycho Busters volumes 6 and 7 together. I still think these are pretty neat, except you lose the art for the covers of the inside volumes. Also, Inukami Omnibus and Inubaka Crazy For Dogs volume 17 show up this week, and we are listing them as new because even though they were supposed to arrive a couple weeks ago, due to mix ups they did not, but are here now.
Now for some big ones. The sweet new premier this week is Osamu Tezuka’s Ayako, coming to us from Vertical Publishing. Ayako defies the conventions of Tezuka’s previous mangas by utilizing a completely original cast and relying solely on historical drama to drive the plot. Set in the aftermath of World War II, Ayako focuses its attention on the Tenge clan, a once powerful family of landowners living in a rural community in northern Japan. The war and American occupation have begun to erode the fabric that binds them all together. And when the family seems to have completely fallen apart, they decide to turn their collective rage on what they believe to be the source of their troubles, the newest member of the Tenge family, the youngest sister Ayako.
There are a couple smaller premiers showing up this week as well. The one-shot manga Hagakure: The Code of the Samurai is the first-ever graphic treatment of the most influential of all samurai treatises, and is sure to delight manga fans, martial arts enthusiasts, and students of Japanese culture. Hagakure is a collection of tales and anecdotes that offer instruction and insight into the philosophy and code of behavior that foster the true spirit of bushido, the “Way of the Warrior”.
Meanwhile, the last premier title this week is on the opposite end of the spectrum. I Am Here is a new series by Ema Toyama who you might remember for the short series called Pixie Pop. In Toyama’s new series Hikage Sumino is shy and insecure about herself. Due to her introverted personality, she has a tough time making friends and she spends most of her time alone. The only place Hikage feels comfortable expressing herself is her blog that she maintains, and there she has two friends online who support her emotionally. One day a popular male student, Hinata confesses his romantic interest to Hikage. As she grows closer to Hinata, Hikage starts to gain confidence. Will Hinata help Hikage overcome her insecurities and blossom into the person she always wanted to be?