I feel like I really ought to stop opening my mouth, because 2 weeks ago I was sounding so hopeful for a flush of new releases, and then last week we had only five. This week gets worse, there are only two books coming in, so I might as well cover them both. But first, can somebody please tell me if I jinxed this whole year? Because there have been so many minimalist release weeks, and we’re halfway through February already. Don’t get me wrong, the quality (for the most part) of the books coming seems to be much more discriminatory, and maaaaybe some of the reason is that in the last year or so, so many companies have gone out of business, so there just appear to be less books. I mean, we’ve seen Ice Kunion hit the road, we’ve said good-bye to Go Comi!, we haven’t heard hide nor hair from Net Comics, and CMX was flat out dissolved.
By Mat K.
Any one who ever bought manga or anime knows that as far as your wallet is concerned, crack is cheaper. I’m sure you’ve heard the very phrase, it’s been on wallets and messenger bags since I was in high school. And to many of you who feel the addiction, you know that satisfied feeling of self-medicating when you pick up the next volume of your favorite series. The reason I bring that up is to bring this up: this week’s releases are downright schizophrenic. It’s not a large week, but by golly the few genres coming in are all across the board. Continue reading
Any Joe Schmoe on the street could tell you without question that Harry Potter is a publishing phenomenon, but if you asked him about The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, he’d look at you like you were a crazy person. While Pottermania is perhaps a whole other monster, it’s still no small feat that the Haruhi light novels managed to sell over 4,300,000 copies in Japan alone. Finally (albeit a few years behind the bandwagon), we are getting the full taste of all that is Haruhi here in the States, and it’s about damn time!
So far, there are nine Haruhi novels and soon to be ten, four of which have already been printed in English. The books follow the (mis)adventures of the SOS Brigade, a ragtag after-school club that was created by the beautiful but eccentric Haruhi Suzumiya. The purpose of the club is to unearth paranormal phenomenon such as the existence of aliens, time travelers and espers, which, unbeknownst to Haruhi, are exactly the sorts of individuals that populate the rest of the brigade. The reason for their presence creates a sort of chicken-and-the-egg scenario, since Haruhi is also the unwitting creator of the world that we live in, and they have come to make sure that Haruhi remains content with the way things are so that she doesn’t end up re-imagining things to fit her ridiculous whims. But are they there because they were sent, or has Haruhi’s desire to meet aliens and the like exactly what drew them to her in the first place? Apathetic skeptic, Kyon, the club’s lone normal member and our cynical narrator, isn’t too sure he believes a word of it, but whether he likes it or not, he’s been sucked up into the Haruhi whirlwind, and it is doubtful he’s going to be let off any time soon. Continue reading
By Mat K.
The long drought is over. And hopefully the beginning of February will prove as fruitful in manga releases as the end of January, but we have quite a few bits of awesome in this week regardless. After the last 3 weeks of single digit releases, this time we’ve got a couple dozen showing up.
The first major “want” this week is the series premier of High School Of The Dead written by Daisuke Sato, and drawn by Shouji Sato. I know people have been catching wind of it online and bugging out over not being able to fulfill their needs via American publishers, mostly I know because the otakus have been raining down on me. In case you’re unfamiliar with the series it has hot girls and zombies in high school. A mysterious illness is spreading rapidly through the halls of Fujimi High School. In a matter of hours the campus is transformed from a place of learning into a hive of nightmares as the infected students collapse and are reborn as flesh-hungry zombies. Only a handful of students escape the initial outbreak, but how long can Takashi and the other students hope to survive when the whole school, and maybe the whole town, is out for their blood?
Next up on the list of awesome, (and believe me I struggled internally about which to write up first), is Black Butler Volume 4. Honestly, the popularity and speed in which the manga are selling are rivaling the initial Death Note obsession, though I think mostly with the female population. In book 4 Ciel, Sebastian, and Lau investigate a case where British citizens returning from India are attacked, stripped, and hung upside down outside Indian pubs in London. They are helped by the Indian Prince Soma and his butler Agni who are searching for Soma’s servant Meena. Although Agni is human, he is on par with Sebastian’s fighting skills. Their quest will take them into the home of Lord West and pit them against the villain in a curry contest. Continue reading
By Mat K.
I’m opening this week with sorry for missing everyone last week. There was a lot of post New Year’s counting and inventory that needed to be done, so I passed the torch to Shannon just that one time. Now I’m back and, well, there is not a lot to talk about. As this week’s title points out, it has been a slow January so far. a dozen or less books per week. Usually we’re used to the beginning of a month spitting out at least 20 books. Either way there is still some interesting stuff coming out. And oddly enough, there are no premier series. Usually there are at least one or two, but everything this week is at least the second volume of whatever it is.
One of the more impressive books coming in this week is the second volume of the Jiro Taniguchi series Summit Of The Gods. It’s written by Yumemakura Baku, but let’s face it, everyone dies to find a Jiro Taniguchi book. On his third expedition in June 1924, Mallory and his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine, disappeared on the North-East ridge during their ascent, having been sighted only a few hundred meters from the summit. In 1993, in a small Nepalese store, Makoto Fukamachi, photographer for a Japanese expedition to conquer Mount Everest, stumbles across an old camera – a Vest Pocket Autographic Kodak Special. Could it be Mallory’s camera? Did it hold the secret of whether Mallory and Irvine made it to the summit almost three decades before Hillary? Continue reading
by Shannon Hochman
Two high school kids who drew a manga walk into the offices of Jump magazine, certain they’ve created the next biggest thing. The editor quietly reads over the pages they slaved so laboriously on and bluntly informs them that though there is potential, what they have created is not up to par. There’s no punchline to this little anecdote: that’s actually what happens in Bakuman, the newest collaborative project from writer, Tsugumi Ohba, and artist, Takeshi Obata, a team made famous for the hit series Death Note. It’s a manga about manga, and it’s awesome.
Not that manga that focuses on such a topic is really a new thing: after all, we have titles like Genshiken, or Eisner Award winning A Drifting Life to consider as well. But where Bakuman differs from other similarly themed manga is the fact that it portrays, in detail, the cogs and screws of the manga and anime machine that fuels Japan and all the giant, fighting robots they keep there. Though there are a number of subplots to help propel the characters through this process with a semblance of story, the main draw here is definitely the seemingly mundane process of creating an appealing manga, getting it published, and then seeing it go somewhere. Continue reading
By Mat K.
So, there’s not actually any kind of special TokyoPop event going on, so much as its just a major release week for them, and kudos to them for that. After last week’s minimal title list, we have at least 20 new books coming in this time, which is quite a nice little selection to choose from, and pretty average considering it’s the last week of the year. That’s right, the next time I write to you guys it will be 2011. I’m also not saying every book this week is TokyoPop, but I’m always so proud of them when they print more than 2 books. Okay, so Dark Horse is dropping the Oh My Goddess! Volume 16 reprint edition this week, and Udon is reprinting the Street Fighter and Street Fighter 2 Ultimate edition TPs, which are gorgeous, full-color, oversized, $60 collections of the comics, and totally worth it. Also, Street Fighter Gaiden Volume 2 shows up (which was amazingly quick after the first volume).
Now, on to the party. There are a couple series that Tokyopop is premiering this week, and first on the block is AiON (aka Hekikai No AiON) by Yuna Kagesaki who is notorious for Chibi Vampire (aka Karin). In Kagesaki’s new series Tatsuya Tsugawa loses his wealthy parents in the middle of high school. Trying to fulfill his father’s dying wish of his becoming an upstanding man, Tatsuya attempts to save a gril from obsessive bullies only to be consumed with intrigue and slight obsession himself. But eventually his good will and earnest efforts lead him into a twisted fantasy world infested with mermaids and mind-controlling parasites. And those channel 11 kids think they have it tough in high school. Continue reading
By Mat K.
There are quite a few sensual books coming out, from the final volume of Sundome, to the sexy vampires of Dance In The Vampire Bund, to a fair amount of yaoi, which is always sexy to some degree. So let us back up for a second to Sundome by Kazuto Okada, the most underrated popular series in the store. This series is definitely rated R since it starts with a boy and a girl in high school, and the girl basically takes a dominatrix role in the boys life, controlling him and teasing him with out ever any follow through. In the final volume Kurumi’s frequent absences stretch into weeks, Hideo goes to her apartment to check on her, only to find the object of his shameless passion curled up and in tears. Hideo is only too happy to comfort Kurumi however he can, but even his fond caresses cannot heal the illness that is slowly stealing her away.
Don’t get me wrong, not everything this week is sexy, there are a few things on the complete opposite end of that spectrum. For instance, Yotsuba &! Volume 9 finally came out. You can’t get more non-sexual than a super cutesy green haired little girl going on adventures intent on enjoying all the little things in life that we take for granted. So you know you know how Ena has a stuffed bear named Juliet? She’s so pretty, and Ena makes dresses for her and stuff and Yotsuba really wants one too! So daddy took Yotsuba to the bear store! They have big bears and little bears, and all kinds of bears! You have to hug’em to find out which one’s the bestest! But they’re all so cute! Does Yotsuba really have to pick just one? Yeah, cutesy. Continue reading
by Shannon Hochman
Imagine for a second that your entire family was murdered and you were presented with a chance to seek revenge. Would you do it no matter what the cost? Would you pay with your soul? Ciel Phantomhive did, and for the price, he’s gotten top-notch service. Mysteriously reappearing after the fire that took his parents, Ciel takes his place as the new Earl Phantomhive, a butler named Sebastian dressed all in black at his side.
So is the premise of Yana Toboso’s manga Kuroshitsuji, or simply Black Butler for those who are not familiar with the Japanese title. The story chases Ciel and Sebastian as they take Victorian England by storm, tearing through the underworld that soils the Queen’s empire in search of the ones that destroyed Ciel’s childhood. Playing off his demonic talents as the expected duties of a good butler, Sebastian gives Ciel the upper hand in this quest as they combat everything from Jack the Ripper to Ciel’s obnoxious fiancée, Elizabeth.
The appeal in Black Butler obviously lies mainly in the Faustian relationship between Ciel and Sebastian, who both have their own dark motivations that tie them together. But more so than that, the dark, intriguining story is balanced incredibly well, easily transitioning from flesh-ripping action for a well-placed laugh or a sentimental moment, keeping this manga in the nebulous realm that hovers between shonen and shoujo. The artwork is also a treat, and though it is not quite as tight as your typical shonen title, it hits the mark when it needs to. Toboso does not take any shortcuts when it comes to drawing action scenes and doesn’t shy away from backgrounds or detail. If anything, sign on for the incredible Victorian era wardrobe, which is authentic enough to place the period, but modernized with a flair of Loli-Goth that is rather fitting for some of the story’s darker tones and the stuff of cosplay fantasies.
The manga is now being printed by Yen Press and definitely worth checking out, even if you have already seen both seasons of the anime (the first of which is being released in North America in early 2011). The manga’s story goes in a completely different direction than that of the anime, much like Full Metal Alchemist. Though already popular on the convention circuit, it’s clear that Black Butler is on the cusp of exploding onto the mainstream scene, so be sure to jump onto the bandwagon quickly so that you can say you were there before it was cool.
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. Continue reading
By Mat K.
This is a good one, so I hope the title got your attention. What in the Universe am I talking about? Well let’s start with this is a pretty small week, which a tad disappointing, but at least some very interesting titles show up. I know some people don’t like spoilers, but this week’s Biomega Volume 4 by Tsutomu Nihei is pretty crazy. So if you’re up to date you know about all the mutant zombies that work for the government (kind of) are trying to reform all of mankind into their image. Then you introduce this special fluid that deconstructs anything it comes into contact with and restructures it on a cellular level. But the missing key is what exactly is the fluid programmed to transform the raw materials into. Without revealing too much about what’s really happening I’ll tell you about the heroes on motorcycles driving up the bridge to the stationary satellite while being chased by a giant glob-monster that sprung directly from a mutant zombie flesh-mass. There’s a seed, and something punches a hole through the planet, and then the Earth sprouts what can only be called (for multiple reasons) a planetary penis. That is the medical term, by the way. And it’s 4.8 Billion kilometers long. And then even crazier stuff happens. Dig it. Continue reading
By Mat K.
What work? Well, Katsura Hoshino’s D Gray Man Volume 19 comes in this week, and I still love this series. Every volume ends on a cliffhanger, and reveals something new and interesting. And frankly, the keeps getting better and better. Allen Walker and Yu Kanda (and Lenalee Lee for the gentlemen in the series) have become celebrity heart throbs amongst the Black Order. Not that this is part of the story or any big deal is made of it, but now and then you catch glimpses of how the other characters perceive them and work themselves to the standards of their “celebrities”. The are also definitely moe moments. They’re the hotties of the Black Order. In this volume we really start to get some pieces of why Allen and Kanda are special. Allen’s pieces are forming an interesting picture, while Kanda’s are still putting together the frame. Not to mention a fairly handsome gentleman in a big silly top hat appears. No spoilers. Read and enjoy.
Also continuing this week is Bakuman (finally), by the creators of Death Note Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata. In Volume 2 of Bakuman Moritaka and Akito venture to publishing house Shueisha in hopes of capturing an editor’s interest. As much potential as these two rookies have, will their story impress the pros and actually get printed? I know everyone has been in love with the first volume, so here’s hoping the love affair continues with the second book.
Other books you love that are coming out this week? How about XXX Holic, Ultimate Muscle, Otomen, Lucky Star and Hikaru No Go just to name a few. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of other stuff too. I just figured I would entice you with the biggies first. Though I will bottom out the article this week with a look at a new series premiering. Continue reading
By Mat K.
Why is it so busy? Good question, but not really the point. The delicious fact is that after last week’s short release list, this week is chock full of books for you to pick up. So lets start off with the premier titles, at least the interesting looking ones. Oh, one quick mention DARK HORSE IS REPRINTING CARDCAPTOR SAKURA. That’s right, in an omnibus edition just like they did with Clover, and Chobits. Dark Horse knows good Clamp when they see it. But I digress into my childhood. Moving on. This week we’re not just getting one, but two Haruhi Suzumiya books. The first one is The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya Volume 7, the direct continuation of the main series. And the second is Melancholy Of Suzumiya Haruhi-Chan Voulme 1. “What’s the difference?” you might ask? It’s the SOS Brigade like you’ve never seen them before! Witness the untold adventures of Haruhi Suzumiya’s quest to uncover aliens, time travelers, and espers in this cute, four-panel comedy.
Next on the list is March Story written by Hyung Min Kim and illustrated by Kyung Il Yang. Among the quiet villages and towns of 18th century Europe, demons known as the Ill hide within the most beautiful works of art, sparked to life by the torment of their creators. Attracted by their jewel-like allure, the unwary find themselves possessed by the Ill and driven to horrific acts of violence. Only the hunters of the Ciste Vihad can dispel the Ill. I have to admit, the art in this one is really nice looking. Almost looks like Godchild meets D Gray Man. Definitely potential for a fun read. Yay demons, art, and violence! Continue reading
By Mat K.
Before we jump into the review, here’s what’s what with this week. There are a good handful of manga coming in this week, but that is all. I know the last couple weeks were a little bit spoiling what with the dozens of titles released at a time. I’ll mention a couple things real quick, Gantz Volume 13 (yay for Gantz being on the fast track these days), and the new Cross Game Volume 1 by Mitsuru Adachi. The series centers around a boy named Ko, the family of four sisters who live down the street and the game of baseball. This poignant coming-of-age story will change your perception of what shonen manga can be. Or it could just be a mis-labeled shojo series about baseball. But really that’s for you to read and figure out. It does look cute. Anyway, other than that there’s Inu Yasha, Case Closed (finally), Kekkaishi, Lucky Star, Yakitate Japan, and some Dean Koontz book turned into a manga.
No really, that’s pretty much it. Maybe just one or two other things. So now it’s time for a book review, since I have run out of things to say about this week’s releases. So let’s talk about Deadman Wonderland written by Jinsei Kataoka and drawn by Kazuma Kondou. If you’re an avid reader of this little article series, you might remember when I introduced the first volume some months ago, well, now we’re on to the third volume and the real mysteries are just getting under way. For those of you who missed out and have no idea what I’m talking about: Ten years have passed since the Great Tokyo Earthquake, and the people’s memories of the disaster have faded. Ganta Igarashi, a middle school evacuee, has finally begun to live a normal life…That is, until the day “Red Man” appears at his school and Ganta’s fate is changed forever. His entire class is brutally murdered, and although innocent of the crime, Ganta is sentenced to death and sent to the bizarre prison known as “Deadman Wonderland.” An insane and brutal game of prison survival begins! Continue reading
By Mat K.
So, there is a lot of interesting stuff coming in this week, surely not the kind of week to scoff at, and definitely the kind of week in which you should just muster the energy to get out of the house and come around here. I know, I know, it’s been rainy and gray for the last week and a half. Well, get over it, a little rain never melted anyone.
So, if you’re wondering what this week’s title is talking about, let me introduce you to a promising new series called 7 Billion Needles by Nobuaki Tadano. Loosely based on Hal Clement’s golden age title Needle, this gripping homage follows the life of a teenage girl whose melancholy days are dramatically changed when her body becomes host to an alien life form caught up in an intergalactic manhunt. Always sporting her headphones to try to close out the people and the world around her, Hikaru is a somewhat reclusive teenage girl. Within her body resides another lifeform known as Ciel, a hunter in search of an intergalactic murderer intent on wiping out humanity. In 7 Billion Needles, two lives share one heart as they race to protect each other and the memories they cherish. So, get it? Yeah when I first looked at it I thought “7 billion, that’s an awfully specific number of needles.” Then I read the description and realized it was a planet-wide manhunt, therefore searching for the proverbial one in a haystack. Also, as someone who has been blocking out humanity with headphones since i was 11, this book looks awesome. Continue reading