Tuesday news roundup

At Rocket Bomber, Matt Blind takes a look at 2008 online manga sales with charts of the top releases of the year, the sales numbers for Naruto, a publishers’ scorecard, nonfiction sales, and a look at manga-related novels.

ANN reports that after being pulled because a panel showing a character reading a verse from the Koran proved offensive to some readers, part 3 of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is back in a revised edition.

Erica Friedman catches up on the week’s yuri news at Okazu.

Jonathan posts the German publisher Carlsen’s top sellers for 2008 at Manly Manga and More.

News from Japan: Ed Chavez has the weekly manga rankings from Taiyosha at MangaCast. Good news for Junko Mizuno fans: Now you can buy Junko Mizuno condoms, each featuring a cute character with a distinct personality. (Hat tip: Simon from Condomunity, a blog about condoms—yes, it is a big internet.) ANN has lots of comings and goings for us: The magazine Pianissimo is folding; the webcomic Hetalia Axis Powers will go to print in Comic Birz; a new Tomo Matsumoto manga, Bozu Love, is launching in LaLa magazine; and five series from the ill-fated Magazine Z will continue in other Kodansha magazines.

Reviews: Two of my favorite manga reviewers go meta: Ed Sizemore reflects on what he has learned after a year of reviewing manga at Comics Worth Reading, and Erica Friedman discusses objectivity (or, more accurately, the lack thereof) in reviews at Okazu. Both posts are great reading for reviewers, would-be reviewers, and readers of reviewers, which I think covers just about everybody. I somehow missed this when it went up, but Ed reviewed vol. 1 of 20th Century Boys last week. Erica also recently posted her take on the yuri light novel vol. 2 of Wild Bouquet. Over at The Comics Reporter, David Welsh sings the praises of Parasyte. At Manga Recon, Erin Finnegan reads vols. 1 and 32 (but not 2-31) of Boys Over Flowers, the best-selling shoujo manga of all time (in Japan), and the staff pitches in on some Manga Minis as well as The Blade of the Courtesans and vol. 1 of Faust. Justin Colussy-Estes gives Kiriko Nananan’s Blue a perfect 10 but Alex Hoffman is less sold on vol. 1 of Air Gear at Comics Village. Julie reads vol. 1 of Otomen at the Manga Maniac Cafe. Michelle Smith posts her thoughs on vols. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 of Her Majesty’s Dog at Soliloquy in Blue but saves vols. 10 and 11 for Manga Recon. (Yes, I did link that twice.) Lissa Pattillo reads vol. 4 of Legend at Kuriousity. Emily clues us in on Binkan Ryouiki and Hatsukoi Shinan at Emily’s Random Shoujo Manga Page. Greg McElhatton reviews Solanin at Read About Comics. Ed Chavez’s latest podcast is his take on vol. 2 of Venus Versus Virus at MangaCast. Connie reads vol. 6 of Human Club and vol. 1 of Basara at Slightly Biased Manga. Diana Dang checks out Heaven’s Will at Stop, Drop, and Read! Be prepared for spoilers if you read Oyceter’s review of vols. 8 and 9 of Saiyuki Reload at Sakura of DOOM. Casey Brienza has lots to say about vol. 1 of Black Jack at her kethylia LJ. Tangognat reviews vols. 1 and 2 of Happy Hustle High.

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  1. BakaTanuki says:

    I’ve read quite a few reviews of 20th Century Boys lately. I _have_ to read this; it sounds brilliant.

  2. Whoa…re: the JoJo thing, since when is manga respectful of Judeo-Christian-Muslim religion? Is this going to be a new thing? Because I also get really bothered when manga villains use the Bible for no good reason, when the Judeo-Christian-Muslim God and His angels are characters with flaws, when characters are crucified for aesthetic reasons…but I never assumed it was going to change because a.) that Western religious imagery only means something to about 1% of the Japanese population and b.) they use blasphemous religious imagery with their OWN local religions. I assumed it was just a matter of individual mangakas’ tastes, and no one felt the need to police it because it fell under freedom of speech laws. Over in the West, we have blasphemous stuff in our fiction as well, but I think it’s far less prevalent because it’s considered to be in bad taste.

    If this is going to set a new standard, a LOT of manga are going to have to start rethinking “Hey, I’ll have the Archangel Michael as a sexy love interest just because!” It makes me wonder.

  3. @Lianne

    I’m also not into blatant disrespect of Judeo-Christian religious themes, but I feel like its rarely actually meant to be disrespectful. I don’t expect those who don’t share my beliefs to be portray religious imagery in a way that I would.

    If its just something used as mere imagery in the story and nothing is really meant, like having Satan in the Shin Megami Tensei games.. I don’t care. The crucifixion scenes? Like in One Piece and FMA? I didn’t see that as any more than showing that the characters were to be executed. Its not as if Jesus’s crucifixion was the only one. I really don’t think that the mangaka was actually making a comparison.

    Now, something like “Archangel Michael as a sexy love interest”.. THAT I would find highly offensive.

  4. I think publishers in Japan are seriously beginning to care how their titles are viewed outside of Japan for the simple reason they want to sell those titles to overseas publishers. Therefore it would make sense that at least the publishers would be more aware of non-Japanese standards and tastes. Redoing the artwork for a single frame is a pain in the butt, and it doesn’t sound like Shueisha put up much of a fight.

  5. BakaTanuki:

    Yeah, the imagery isn’t inherently insulting all the time, but it toes that line a lot. A few examples:

    “Cross,” (Tokyopop), a manga about a Catholic exorcist, includes a chapter image where the main character is posing in a sexy crucifixion.

    “The Demon Ororon,” (Tokyopop), although largely based off Christian mythology rather than Christian beliefs, involves the angel Michael having a child with a human woman.

    “Messiah,” (unlicensed), an 18+ BL game from Core-Orbit, has things like sexual assaults in church, but possibly the biggest kicker is the artbook, where the three boys involved in the game’s incredibly graphic love triangle are posed in Nazi chic under the artbook’s title: “Trinity.” (Ouch.)

    And there was this BL drama CD I heard a few years ago, can’t remember the name now, that literally involved angels (by name) raping each other. I think the couple in the CD I got ahold of was Michael x Lucifer.

    I agree with you that one person considering something sacred doesn’t mean everyone else has to consider it sacred, and I enjoyed all of the titles mentioned above (well…except the last one) despite the blasphemous stuff bothering me personally and pushing me to ignore certain aspects of the work. But as John says, if Japan wants to sell more stuff overseas, it has to realize that that kind of thing can insult people and hurt sales. Specificially criticizing a religion is one thing. Offhanded blasphemy that results from general cultural/religious insensitivity is just a shame.

    (Note: It’s not like Japan is alone in that kind of thing…I always considered Battle Pope more crude than critical.)

  6. You left off my pie chart!

    There was a whole afternoon and a fair bit of math wasted on that joke… [sigh]

    genius is never appreciated in it’s own time. ;p

  7. Well, as a semi-practicing cafeteria Catholic, I have gotten a kick out of the way manga creators bring in religion when they obviously know nothing about it—my own extreme example would be Judas, a Tokyopop title that mashed up an enormous amount of religious imagery without any reference at all to its actual meaning. And Black Sun, Silver Moon, which takes a rather, um, whimsical view of the priesthood.

    IIRC, the whole Jojo thing came up shortly after an Arabic fansub started making the rounds and some folks noticed that the producers unwittingly included actual text from the Koran in a scene in which a character is ordering another to be killed. That’s another level of offensive, as it links a sacred text with an evil act. Also, other cultures tend to place different values on freedom of speech vs. cultural norms than Americans do. Given the context of this particular incident, I think the producers did the right thing.

    But in general, the more irreverence, the better. Saint Young Men FTW!

    Matt, sorry about that. Mornings have not been good around here, what with the kitchen and… hell, just the kitchen is totally discombobulating me. I’ll link to it tomorrow, as it gave me quite a chuckle once I saw it.