Archives for October 2008

Tricks and treats

Happy Halloween! If you’re just now getting into the spirit of the season, Lori Henderson lists some Halloween-friendly manga at Manga Xanadu.

The DramaQueen folks clarify the timing of their first new release in a while, vol. 1 of Tyrant Falls in Love: It’s coming out this November, not next September. They will be publishing a heap of yaoi titles first, possibly getting RUSH back into action in December, and then working on their manhwa titles (which are excellent and don’t attract enough attention, IMHO). If registration is required for that link, go to Kuriousity, where Lissa Pattillo has the full scoop.

At Comics Worth Reading, Johanna Draper Carlson talks to Kat and Mouse creator Alex de Campi about her book and the situation at Tokyopop. Also: The upcoming issues of Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat will include video game coverage, and Johanna applauds them for covering video games for girls.

MangaNEXT is this weekend. I went to the first MangaNEXT—it was my first con—and had a great time. Unfortunately, election time is my busy season so I won’t be able to make it this year, but the Ninja Consultants will be there, and lots of other great folks besides, so check it out if you can take the time off.

On the other coast, if you’re heading to APE this weekend, be sure to stop by the Bang Gang table and pick up a copy of Electric Ant, the new zine by the guys who brought you Same Hat! Same Hat! And they whet our appetite with an excerpt from their interview with manga maven Frederick Schodt.

Words fail me: A Japanese man has gathered over 1,000 signatures on a petition to allow marriage between humans and comic characters. It seems to me that this would also force the government to allow polygamy (or, more likely, polyandry).

Reviews: Get Backers and Papillon are fodder for the Manga Pulse podcast. Noah Berlatsky is not too impressed with vols. 1-2 of The Guin Saga Manga: The Seven Magi at Hooded Utilitarian. Leroy Douresseaux reads a seasonal pick, I Luv Halloween: Ultimate Twisted Edition, at The Comic Book Bin. Michelle Smith reads vol. 8 of Ghost Hunt at Soliloquy in Blue. New reviews at Manga Life: Joy Kim on vol. 5 of Venus in Love, Ysabet Rienhardt MacFarlane on vol. 9 of Crimson Hero, and David Rasmussen on vol. 6 of the Inu Yasha Ani-Manga. At Okazu, Erica Friedman gives her take on vol. 1 of Octave and vol. 1 of Hayate Cross Blade. Julie reads vol. 6 of My Heavenly Hockey Club at the Manga Maniac Cafe. At Kuriousity, Lissa Pattillo takes a look at vol. 2 of Kieli and vol. 7 of Ghost Hunt.

Review: Hitohira, vol. 1

Hitohira, vol. 1
By Idumi Kirihara
Rated T, 13+
Aurora, $10.95

“Some things just aren’t meant to be,” a character exclaims toward the end of Hitohira. “They say that if you work hard, you can do anything. Well, that’s complete bull!”

“Sssh!” responds another character. “You’re contradicting the message of this whole manga!”

Indeed, the story of Hitohira is the story of an apparently pointless struggle against incredible odds. Mugi, the main character, is so shy that she loses her voice whenever she is embarrassed or tense. So naturally, she joins the drama club. It’s either disastrous or brilliant! Since this is manga, we can expect some of each.

The story relies on that hoary manga cliché, the dueling high school clubs. In this case, Kumataka Art Academy has two theater clubs, but only one will survive. There’s the regular Theater Group, which is officially sanctioned, and the splinter Theater Research Group, which has only three members when the story opens: Takashi, Risaki, and their leader, Nono. The assertive Risaki dragoons her kid brother Kai into joining, but they must recruit one more member in order to exist at all. When they hear Mugi belt out her delight at passing the entrance exam… well, a plot is born. Nono asks Mugi to join the club, and Mugi has a panic attack and signs the paper just to get everyone to go away.

The stories and complications that follow will seem familiar to anyone who has lived through high school or read a shoujo manga. Fears are overcome, girls from rival groups become friends, former friends become bitter enemies, etc. There is a schoolgirl crush (on another girl) and a possibly debilitating but certainly not fatal disease. By the end of the volume, the characters have begun to take on definite personalities and the story has been set up. There is just one story that is a disappointing: Nono bets the club’s funding that the members will all score in the top fifty on their exams, but when the results come out, Risaki simply runs off with them and the story is never really resolved. Aside from that episode, Hitohira is a solid high school story that brings the reader into a circle of likeable, if somewhat bland, characters.

Unfortunately, the art is rather weak. Kirihara relies too much on barely modulated tones, which makes the drawings look flat and cartoony. The figures are shaky, particularly in the first part of the book; although the poses are ambitious and lively, the anatomy doesn’t always quite hang together. This does get better as the book goes on, however. What doesn’t improve is the difficulty of telling who is who and who is speaking; Kirihara’s character designs are too similar and her word balloons don’t always point at the speaker. There are also a few obvious bloopers, where a piece of the background is visible through a figure—appropriate in a ghost story, but not here.

In terms of production values, Hitohira is very basic. The print quality of the cover and the interior are pretty good, and the paper is decent, too—which is just as well, because rough newsprint would kill all that toning. There are no color pages or translator’s notes. The book does wind up with a series of 4-koma comic strips about the characters, which is a nice little coda but possibly not enough to justify the extra dollar. In fact, at under 200 pages, the book feels a bit thin.

Hitohira is a decent shoujo title that entertains without demanding too much of the reader. The story is well told, and Kirihara does a nice job of drawing the reader into high-school life. It may not be great literature, but it is a fine way to kill an hour or two.

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

PR: Manga before fruitcakes

Wait! It’s not even Halloween yet, and Viz is already suggesting manga for holiday giving? Oh well, eggnog is already showing up in supermarkets here in New England, so the snow can’t be far behind. Read on for a selection of old and new titles that will please both the naughty and the nice.


New Manga Series, Profiles, Art Books, Kids Manga and Chapter Books and SHONEN JUMP Collector’s Editions and Box Sets That Highlight Best-Loved Series Are Sure To Top Holiday Wish Lists

San Francisco, CA, OCTOBER 29, 2008 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry’s most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, has announced a variety of new manga (graphic novel) titles, art books, manga series box sets, kids chapter books and special collectors editions that will make unique gift ideas this holiday season.

“We are extremely pleased to offer a variety of new titles perfect for gifts for this holiday season,” says Gonzalo Ferreyra, Vice President, Sales & Product Marketing, VIZ Media “By themselves, each of these releases makes a thoughtful and modestly-priced gift for a friend, loved-one or colleague, and multiple titles may be bundled for something more extravagant for that extra-special someone. Special box set editions for smash hit properties like DEATH NOTE, BLEACH and NARUTO will make the ultimate gift to delight that favorite fan this year. And for younger readers, we also offer a variety of new titles under our VIZKIDS imprint featuring THE LEGEND OF ZELDA, NARUTO Chapter Books as well as a selection of Where’s-Waldo-style LET’S FIND POKÉMON books, POKÉMON MAZES AND PUZZLES books, and the two-volume COMPLETE POKÉMON POCKET GUIDE.”

Gift Ideas:

NARUTO MANGA BOX SET• Rated “T” for Teens •
MSRP: $174.99 US / $192.99 CAN
This exciting collection bundles the first 27 volumes of the smash hit manga series by Masashi Kishimoto about a young boy training to become a ninja. A special 2-sided full-color poster and an exclusive 8-page Shinobi Mini-Guide are included as bonus features. The set comes with attractive custom illustrated packaging and is the ultimate collection for the serious NARUTO fan!

BLEACH MANGA BOX SET• Rated “T” for Teens • MSRP: $149.99 US / $164.99 CAN
This 21-volume box set showcases the complete first story arc of the hit supernatural action-packed series from Tite Kubo. BLEACH tells the story of Ichigo, a young man with the ability to see ghosts who dedicates his life to protecting the innocent from malevolent lost souls called Hollows. Bonuses include an exclusive double-sided full-color poster and collector’s booklet.

DEATH NOTE MANGA BOX SET• Rated “T+” for Older Teens •
MSRP: $99.99 US / $109.99 CAN
A very special collection featuring all 12 volumes of the hit supernatural crime thriller by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, as well as DEATH NOTE: HOW TO READ 13, the encyclopedic guide to the manga series that has swept North America by storm. The exclusive bonus for this box set is Death Note: How To Use It, a 64-page compilation of all the rules for using the mystical Death Note. This is the ultimate DEATH NOTE collection for the serious fan or a substantial and thoughtful gift idea for the reader that has yet to explore the series.

COLLECTOR’S EDITIONS • MSRP: $19.99 each / $23.50 CAN •
VIZ Media SHONEN JUMP Collector’s Editions celebrate some of manga’s most notable series with premium versions of the first volumes featuring gorgeous hard covers, full-color dust jackets, heavier paper stock and larger-sized presentations (5.75 x 8.25 inches) that include several full-color pages not featured in the original volumes. SHONEN JUMP COLLECTOR’S EDITIONS include BLEACH, NARUTO, YU-GI-OH!, DEATH NOTE, DRAGON BALL and DRAGON BALL Z.

Rated “A” for All Ages • MSRP: $7.99 US / $10.50 CAN
Based on the best-selling adventure video games from Nintendo, THE LEGEND OF ZELDA manga series is being made available for the first time in North America. THE LEGEND OF ZELDA series details the adventures of Link as his destiny is revealed starting with the Ocarina of Time. Beloved by millions of fans around the world, the game’s storyline and characters will be expanded upon with the additional details that are available nowhere else but in the manga series.

NARUTO: THE BOY NINJA Vols. 1-4 • Recommended for Ages 7-10 •
MSRP: $4.99 US/$5.99 CAN
The NARUTO Chapter Book series is the latest addition to the company’s VIZKIDS imprint designed for younger readers. It tells the action-packed saga of a boy named Naruto Uzumaki who dreams of becoming the world’s greatest ninja. Naruto’s younger fans will be captivated by these exciting stories that are divided into easy-to-read chapters and feature illustrations from the manga on which they are based. The stories are designed to reinforce positive messages about friendship, teamwork, resilience and overcoming adversity through a variety of adventures inspired by the original manga series.

MSRP: $14.99 US / $17.50 CAN
Get the inside scoop on BLEACH! This profile book is packed with extensive information on the characters and story arcs from the hit manga series vols. 1-22. It also includes exclusive stickers, a full-color poster, the original BLEACH one-shot story pilot, and a rare interview with creator/artist Tite Kubo! BLEACH is Kubo’s second title and has achieved phenomenal success internationally as a manga series and animated series. BLEACH remains a mainstay in the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump in Japan and SHONEN JUMP magazine in North America. The series is also the winner of the prestigious Shogakukan Manga Award in the “shonen” (boys) category.

MSRP: $19.99 US / $23.50 CAN
See the world of BLEACH in a blast of color! This art book contains Tite Kubo’s vibrant illustrations, including art from Volumes 1-19 of the series, as well as an annotated art guide and extra character information.

MSRP: $19.99 US / $23.99 CAN
A comprehensive collection of Arina Tanemura’s distinctive art from the hit shojo manga series FULL MOON, as well as art from KAMIKAZE KAITO JEANNE, SHORT-TEMPERED MELANCHOLIC, and I•O•N. Fans of this popular shojo manga creator, whose works also include THE GENTLEMEN’S ALLIANCE ✝ and TIME STRANGER KYOKO, will delight in the detail and beauty of her character illustrations.

SOLANIN • Rated “T+” for Older Teens • MSRP: $17.99 US / $21.00 CAN
College graduates struggle to cope with the real world and music offers refuge in this modern manga with an American indie comic attitude. Meiko Inoue is a recent college grad working in a job that she hates and having issues with her freeloading boyfriend. Straddling the line between her years as a student and the rest of her life, Meiko struggles with the feeling that she’s just not cut out to be a part of the real world. SOLANIN was written and illustrated by award-winning creator Inio Asano and was originally published as a two-volume series but will be released by VIZ Media as a single omnibus edition and includes six color pages.

Information on and other titles from VIZ Media (including POKÉMON) – perfect for this gift-giving Holiday season available upon request.

Signs of life at DramaQueen, more on Yen and Orbit

After a long, long hiatus, LadyQ posts on the DramaQueen forums that they are back in action:

It has been a very rocky year for DQ, but I’m very happy to let you know first on the forum, that we’re getting back to printing.

The schedule is that we will print 1 book every 6-8 weeks until we pick up again with multiple titles. The first book to arrive in September is Tyrant Falls in Love v01 – FINALLY!!!!

This actually seems a bit odd—11 months until their first title? But the main activity in their forums has been fans clamoring for this book. LadyQ also noted that they are trying to pull together the next issue of the manga anthology Rush. The Boys Next Door bloggers are adopting a wait-and-see attitude. Kudos to Lissa Pattillo for spotting this.

ICv2 interviews Yen Press publishing director Kurt Hassler about parent company Hachette’s decision to fold Yen into its Orbit sci-fi imprint. Kurt’s take: This is an internal move and most people won’t notice the difference—the number of books will stay the same, and even the logo won’t be altered.

David Welsh posts his picks from this week’s new releases at Precocious Curmudgeon.

Frank Santoro writes about Bat-Manga for PWCW.

Deb Aoki hops on the Halloween bandwagon with a list of 13 manga featuring ghosts and zombies.

Khursten is psyched about Naoki Urasawa’s Billy Bat at Otaku Champloo.

The academic journal Mechademia is taking submissions for their next issue. (Via The Comics Reporter.)

The offensively named but otherwise interesting roundtable at ANN takes on fan art and copyright issues.

I am linking to this picture simply because it is awesome.

Reviews: At Precocious Curmudgeon, David Welsh enjoys the “soapy, slightly nasty sister act” that is vol. 1 of Papillon. The Manga Recon crew post a new set of Manga Minis. Leroy Douresseaux looks at vol. 3 of Fairy Cube at The Comic Book Bin. Sabrina reviews vol. 1 of Millennium Snow and Charles Tan checks out vol. 7 of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service at Comics Village. Connie keeps on readin’ with posts on vol. 1 of Black Jack (the deluxe hardcover edition), vol. 8 of Sugar Sugar Rune, Hino Horror 11: Gallery of Horrors, and vol. 7 of Monster. Let’s fall asleep looks at Tekkonkinkreet. D.M. Evans reads vol. 1 of Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives at Manga Jouhou. Kris reads Lover’s Pledge, Passionate Theory, and vol. 1 of Kabuki at Manic About Manga. Emily finds a You Higuri manga in Japanese, Ramen Ikaga!?, at Emily’s Random Shoujo Manga Page. Ferdinand reads vol. 1 of Suihelibe! at Prospero’s Manga. Lori Henderson reviews vol. 8 of Hellsing at Manga Xanadu. Michelle Smiht reads vols. 6 and 7 of Ghost Hunt at Soliloquy in Blue. Tiamat’s Disciple checks out vol. 1 of Ballad of a Shinigami. New posts at Active Anime: Rachel Bentham on Total Surrender, Scott Campbell on vol. 11 of D.Gray-Man, and Holly Ellingwood on vol. 1 of Captive Hearts. Julie checks out vol. 13 of Claymore at the Manga Maniac Cafe. Lissa Pattillo reviews vols. 1-3 of Innocent W and likes it a lot better than I did.

Off-topic: Get ready for Election Day!

I’m going off topic for a brief time because this is so important.

As you know, November 4 is Election Day. This year, there will probably be a strong voter suppression effort to keep certain people—college students, people of color, people in urban districts—from voting. There are news articles about various regions, but really, anyone is vulnerable.

This problem is much more easily dealt with before Election Day, so please, if you have recently moved or haven’t voted in a while, or if you just like to nail things down, take some time today to make sure your voter registration is in order. is a website that lists voter registration deadlines and other information for all 50 states. Use it to find out whether you can still register, whether you can vote early, and even what kind of ballot your state uses. For some states, you can verify your registration online. If you’re not lucky enough to have that, call or (even better) drop in on your local elections office and double-check that all is in order. This is their busy season, so be cheerful and patient!

If you have made up your mind, rock-solid, and your state allows early voting, consider doing that. It’s quicker and you’re less likely to be challenged.

If you can take the day off, consider working at the polls. It’s a great experience! You will get paid a small stipend, the work is pretty easy, and somebody usually brings donuts. Ask at your elections office if they need workers—they probably do.

If you can only spare 15 minutes or so, drive a friend or neighbor to the polls. Or check with your favorite local political organization (hint: they’re usually in the phone book) to see if they need volunteer drivers.

This is a huge election, so if you vote on Election Day, the lines are likely to be long. Please don’t take it out on the poll workers! Bring a nice manga to read while you wait. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon are the slowest times, so if you can, plan to go then. But if it’s suddenly 7:50, and the polls close at 8, go anyway! If you are standing on line when the polls close, you should be permitted to vote.

If someone challenges your right to vote, be pleasant but firm. It is probably helpful to bring along not just a photo ID but a recent utility bill or other proof of address. The poll worker should be on your side, and if he or she is not, ask for the warden or supervisor. Keep working your way up the ladder. If that fails, call a national voting rights hotline. I’m still researching these, but I’ll post a list closer to Election Day.

If all else fails, but only if all else fails, insist on casting a provisional ballot. This is your right under the Help America Vote Act. Don’t be discouraged if the poll worker says they won’t count it. If the race is a close one, the ballot will be opened, and if it is determined that you were properly registered, your vote will indeed be counted. I have seen this happen. The mayor of my city was elected by a single vote, and the provisional ballots were opened and counted as part of the recount. Your vote counts the most in a close election, so don’t let yourself be talked out of this.

One final thing: Everyone is focused on the presidential election, but most states have other races and ballot questions as well. If you haven’t had time to think about these, now would be a good time to start. I will confess that I still haven’t made up my mind about several ballot questions in my state, so I plan on reading up on the topics and talking to some friends whose judgment I respect over the weekend.

So go, prepare to vote. This is a big one, and you don’t want to miss it!

Quick news roundup for Tuesday

Jean-Marie Bouissou has an interesting meditation on why manga became so popular worldwide in this month’s Eurozine. The article draws on Bouissou’s experience of growing up reading BDs—and leaving them behind as he got older, with his sisters abandoning comics even earlier than he did. He also contemplates a number of cultural factors that make manga unique. Good stuff to read over your morning coffee.

Japanator lists this week’s new releases.

Christopher Butcher has a peek at the covers of the first two volumes of 20th Century Boys.

Let’s fall asleep, a web seminar on josei manga, winds up with an overview and some interesting notes about the josei manga holdings of a few major libraries.

Kris of Manic About Manga visits the Artists Alley at Anime Banzai.

News from Japan: Ashita no Joe creator Tetsuya Chiba will draw a 90-page manga, Tomogaki, which will run in two parts in Young Magazine. Two manga series, Jinki- Shinsetsu- and Dokuro-chan Ripiru, are coming to an end. And Kairi Shimotsuki, creator of the Devil Kings Basara manga is starting a new series, Death Edge, in Dengeki Maoh magazine.

Reviews: David Welsh casts his vote in favor of Solanin, and he explains why at The Comics Reporter. Carlo Santos turns his sharp eye on a crop of new titles in his latest Right Turn Only!! column and pens a longer review of vols. 1 and 2 of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion at ANN. Casey Brienza reviews vols. 1 and 2 of Zig*Zag there as well. At Comics Worth Reading, Ed Sizemore has some short reviews of recent releases. Let’s fall asleep reviews one of my favorite manga, vol. 1 of After School Nightmare. Deb Aoki takes a look at an unusual manga, vol. 1 of Ghost Talker’s Daydream, at Connie checks out vol. 1 of Evylon: Ocean Fantasy, vol. 3 of Fairy Cube, Ohikkoshi, and vol. 3 of Dororo at Slightly Biased Manga. Dave Ferraro reads vol. 1 of Black Jack. Julie checks out vol. 1 of Captive Hearts at the Manga Maniac Cafe. Lissa Pattillo continues her Halloween theme with a look at vol. 4 of Nightmare Inspector at Kuriousity. At the Boys Next Door blog, Cynthia reads vol. 1 of Kabuki, vol. 2 of Mister Mistress, and vol. 3 of Kiss All the Boys. Oyceter takes a look at The Voices of a Distant Star and vol. 2 of Silver Diamond at Sakura of DOOM. At Manic About Manga, Kris unwinds from Anime Banzai by reading vols. 2, 3, and 4 of Passion, vol. 2 of Sunflower, Romantic Illusions, and vol. 2 of Pathos.