AX news, international manga award, and more

Advanced Media Network reports on the Seven Seas panel at Anime Expo. They announced a new yaoi line, with In the Gods Arms as the first title; a couple of yuri titles, First Love Sisters and Voiceful; the Wicked City novels, as well as a manga prequel to the live-action film; children’s novels; and some global titles: 10 Beautiful Assassins, Arkham Woods, Pandora, Invisible, Norman Prospect: Insurance Adjuster, Weird Magic, Witch Hammer. There’s lots of info at the link, including a summary of the Q&A. Erica has more on the yuri titles at Okazu.

New publisher Aurora announced two new titles, Flock of Angels, by Shoko Hamada, and Nightmares for Sale, by Kaoru Ohashi, and two more for their yaoi imprint, Deux: Spring Fever, by Yugi Yamada, and I Shall Never Return, by Kazuna Uchida. (Via Yaoi Suki.)

Anime News Network is gathering all their reports on a single page, and they report (no permalink) that Broccoli will be publishing an American version of the cosplay magazine Cosmode. Anime on DVD has a brief writeup on the Viz Media panel. And Julie from Manga Maniac Cafe has pictures. Can’t get there yourself? Ed Chavez will ask your questions for you.

Ed posts ICv2’s top 15 manga properties and adds a bit of commentary.

The envelope please…. Japan’s Foreign Ministry announced the winners of the International Manga Award, which is given to non-Japanese artists. First prize winner is Hong Kong artist Lee Chi Ching, and the runners-up were the singly-named Kai, from Hong Kong; Benny Wong Thong Hou, from Malaysia; and Madeleine Rosca, from Australia. Rosca’s manga Hollow Fields was just published by Seven Seas this week; you can check out a sample here.

Everyone is talking about the manga they’re not reading. David Welsh posts his list, Johanna adds to hers, Myk posts a longish comment at TZG 2.0, Alex Scott counts em down at Keromaru, and Estara only gets to G on her blog. And check the comments here from a couple of days ago for even more. What do we learn from all this? It seems like a lot of long series sort of stall after a while; the characters stop developing and the story gets repetitious.

Tokyopop 2.0 is NOT up; they’re still working the bugs out, so they put the old site back for now. But they put up a Mad Libs as a consolation prize.

The blog Rising Sun of Nihon is posting the manga Ello Bello with translations along the side. Page 1 is here; click the “ello bello” tag to get all the pages (three so far).

Reviews: Cons or no cons, some people are staying home and reading manga. Connie reviews vol. 1 of MPD Psycho, vol. 8 of Guru Guru Pon-Chan, and vol. 9 of From Eroica With Love. At Anime on DVD, Ariadne Roberts checks out vol. 1 of Blind Date, a Harlequin Violet manga. Dan Polley reviews vol. 10 of Swan and vol. 6 of Kage Tora at Manga Life. Active Anime’s Holly Ellingwood checks out vol. 2 of Millennium Snow, and Christopher Seamann reads the novel Calling You. At Yaoi Suki, Jen Parker reviews vol. 1 of Love Recipe. And Katherine Dacey-Tsuei reads vols. 1-7 of Eden: It’s An Endless World at PopCultureShock.

Pini’s Masque is up!

The Go!Comi people have upgraded their website and put up the first few pages of Wendy Pini’s new webcomic, The Masque of the Red Death, which takes Poe’s story as inspiration for a yaoi manga set in the future. To read it, you will need to register, which is relatively painless except that you are forced to choose or upload an avatar, which not all of us old folks have on hand. (I have a totally cool avatar, drawn for me by Tania del Rio, but if it weren’t for that I would have to choose a generic cartoon.)

I interviewed Pini for PWCW and Digital Strips earlier this year.

More MangaBlogCast

This week’s MangaBlogCast has a heavy emphasis on News of the Weird. It must be the heat going to everyone’s brains. Check it out at the MangaCast; links after the cut.

UPDATE: Hey! This was my 1000th post! I know WordPress says there have been more, but that refers to drafts or something. Anyway, as happy as that makes me, I’m even prouder of the 2,268 comments that you guys have taken the time to add. That’s what really makes this blog interesting. So cheers to all of us!

Cross-dressing manga

Wai Wai checks out Comic Yell
Matthew looks at shoujo manga for guys
Comic Yell home page

Manga your blog

New Sony system converts blog posts to manga

Manga goes to the movies

Jason DeAngelis blogs about movie licensing

New titles

Tokyopop confirms 38 new titles
CPM books finally scheduled to hit shelves

Review: King of Thorn

King of Thorn, vol. 1
By Yuji Iwahara
Rated OT, Older Teen (16+)
Tokyopop, $9.99

I’m one of those tiresome people who goes on and on about how great Chikyu Misaki is, so naturally when I heard that Tokyopop was publishing another manga by the same author, I was filled with gleeful anticipation.

Unfortunately, King of Thorn is not only disappointing in comparison with Chikyu Misaki, it’s disappointing even when taken on its own merits. Iwahara takes the basic horror formula of a group of people stranded in a perilous situation and does absolutely nothing interesting with it, at least not in this first volume. (And I should issue the caveat that a lot of volume 2s are better than volume 1s, so all may not be lost.)

The story starts out with a promising if not exactly novel concept: A mysterious illness, dubbed the Medusa disease, is spreading throughout Japan, turning its victims to stone. There is no cure, but there is one slender hope: The government has chosen a handful of disease victims to be deep-frozen until a cure is developed. Our heroine, Kasumi, is one of the chosen few, but her twin sister, Shizuku, is not. With regrets and doubts, Kasumi steps into her cryogenic capsule, puts on a bracelet that indicates the progress of the disease, and goes to sleep.

When she wakes up, everything has gone wrong. Instead of white-coated doctors with vials of medicine, Kasumi is greeted by thorny vines that snake through the capsules. A few other disease victims stumble out, and it quickly becomes clear that they are the only ones there. Almost immediately, the perils begin. Giant lizards keep attacking them, and those damn thorns pop out from every nook and cranny, so our heroes are so busy fighting them that they don’t have much of a chance to advance the plot. By the end of the first volume, Kasumi and co. have prevailed through several hair-raising situations but still have no idea of what is really going on. And neither does the reader.

Of course, much of the dramatic interest in a story like this comes from the interplay of different personalities. Again, nothing new here. Kasumi is sweet and determined. Her companions include a selfish, pushy middle-aged guy; a woman and child who quickly fall into a mother-son relationship; and a couple of generic but sensible males. The most interesting character is the dark, simmering, tattooed stranger who is sorta good and sorta bad, which is not exactly breaking the mold. In other words, we have the standard horror story with the standard cast of characters.

Iwahara’s art, which worked so beautifully in the country setting of Chikyu Misaki, is one of the high points of this book. He uses straight pen and ink, with very little toning but lots of hatching and fine detail, but the art never comes across as stiff or fussy. His fluid style is actually well suited to this sort of subject matter. The characters are well defined, each with a different look and personality, and the winged lizards and flowing thorns are just as believable. On the first reading, though, I had trouble figuring out the geography of the story. Iwahara has put everyone into a fortress on an island, but again, there’s so much going on that it’s initially hard to figure out exactly how the space is configured and how they are moving through it.

Tokyopop obviously knew they were on to something with this book; the cover is well designed, with a matte finish and a restrained palette, making the book feel a bit more sophisticated than it actually is. They include four color pages in the front and two black and white bonus pages in the back. On the downside, the large areas of black that Iwahara uses so effectively don’t stand up well on the industry-standard paper, so the dark areas aren’t as dark as they should be, and there are light streaks on some pages.

If you liked The Drifting Classroom and Dragon Head, you may enjoy King of Thorn. Then again, you may just find it frustrating, as I did. By the end of the volume, I still had no idea how this group of people had gotten into this situation, who (if anyone) put them there, and what the title refers to. In short: Too much suspense, not enough plot. It’s a good setup, and I’m willing to give volume 2 a try; if I’m still lost after that, though, I’ll give the rest of the series a pass.

This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

Links for a hazy summer day

What to read this week? The MangaCast crowd post the full list and their picks.

David Welsh picks out the good stuff from Diamond Previews.

Kokoro Media takes a look at DC’s investment in Japanse manga publisher Flex Comics:

What interests me is that DC and Flex seem to be following the scanlation model of marketing: they want Web-heavy advertising before converting manga titles to print. But I question how they plan on getting the word out about Flex — the readers who watch BitTorrent and scanlation sites for the next big manga title don’t necessarily think to visit a corporate site. (On the other hand, Tokyopop has any number of manga readers on its mailing list.) And in order to earn purchasing decisions, DC/Flex will have to include something extra with their bound editions: new colour illustrations, interviews, gift certificates for related merchandise, or something similar.

Johanna hops on the Jump the Shark Express and lists the manga series she has stopped reading. As this is clearly the conversation of the week, I’ll ask you all: Which series have you dropped? Let me know in comments.

The Daily Telegraph has more on those Kaplan vocab guides from Tokyopop.

Sexism roundup: Two bloggers express concerns about the depiction of girls and women in manga; another blogger responds. There are some interesting conversations in the comments sections. (Via When Fangirls Attack.)

Reviews: Lots of brief reviews today. The Anime on DVD folks serve up another helping of Small Bodied Manga Reviews, and Carlo Santos takes on Tezuka and Yotsuba&! in the latest Right Turn Only!! Chris Mautner looks at Fanfare/Ponent Mon titles at Panels and Pixels. At Comics 212, Christopher Butcher checks out three yaoi titles from 801, Affair, Bond(z), and vol. 1 of Ichigenme: The First Class is Civil Law… At the MangaCast, Ed Chavez has an audio review of vol. 2 of Sweety and vol. 2 of Chun Rhang. Reviewer Holly Ellingwood has a busy day at Active Anime, posting reviews of vol. 7 of Skip Beat, vol. 5 of Kami Kaze, and the yaoi anthology Othello. Bill Sherman of Blogcritics reviews vol. 12 of Death Note; there is a spoiler, so don’t look if you haven’t already figured out how it ends. At Coffeeandink, Mely turns her discerning eye on The Building Opposite. Manga Life’s Dan Polley checks out vol. 12 of Wallflower, vol. 7 of Pastel, vol. 1 of Dragon Eye, and vol. 1 of Aquarian Age Juvenile Orion. At the Mangamaniaccafe, Julie posts mini-reviews of vol. 3 of Zombie Powder and vol. 4 of Emma. Kethylia finds a lot not to like about vol. 1 of Beck.

Gon fishing

In this week’s issue of PWCW, I talk to Jim Chadwick and Asako Suzuki of CMX about their new edition of Gon, the wordless tale of a mischievous dinosaur, and Kai-Ming Cha concludes her two-part interview with David Wise and Audry Taylor of Go!Comi.

Inspired by David Welsh’s recent look at long-running series, John Jakala tallies those that have jumped the shark.

Christopher Butcher posts this week’s shipping list.

MangaCast has all kinds of news: Anime Expo schedules for DrMaster and Go!Comi; lots of info on Kyohaku Dogs, announced this week by Infinity; a handful of previews; and this week’s MangaBlogCast—I’ll post the liner notes later today.

Same Hat! Same Hat!! links to an online scanlation of Shintaro Kago’s Abstraction. The usual Same Hat warnings apply, i.e., if it’s posted there it’s probably not a good manga to read at work.

The creators known as Peach-Pit apologize for the abrupt ending of Rozen Maiden on their blog.

I imagine this will be happening in a lot of places: 7-7-07 will be 707 International Nana Day in the Philippines. (For the uninitiated: “Nana” is Japanese for “seven.”)

Reviews: Mangaijin reviews chapters 1 and 2 of Birdy the Mighty, which is available only in scanlation. At the BasuGasuBakuhatsu Anime Blog, Hung checks out vol. 2 of Kamichama Karin, vol. 5 of Nodame Cantabile, and vol. 1 of Hayate the Combat Butler. Otaku Champloo looks at two manga about lying and cooking, Liar Game and Bambino. Emily’s Random Shoujo Manga Page is back with reviews of two manga in Japanese, TsunDere! and Switch Girl!! At Okazu, Erica Friedman reviews another unlicensed title, vol. 1 of Applause. Back to manga in English: At Prospero’s Manga, Ferdinand reviews vol. 1 of Time Guardian and Miranda reads vols. 1-6 of Death Note. At the MangaCast, Readilbert checks out two vol. 4’s, of Dragon Voice and Platinum Garden, and Ed does a podcast review of Solfege and Jazz.