Archives for May 2010

Review: Toriko, vol. 1

Toriko1Toriko, vol. 1
By Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro
Rated T, for Teen
Viz, $9.99

There is something very primal about Toriko: It’s a story about hunting for food, and although there is a veneer of gourmet sensibility over some of the quests, it always comes down to the massive, overmuscled Toriko having a showdown with some enormous animal over who is going to eat who.

Other food manga, such as Oishinbo and even Kitchen Princess, hinge on the main character’s refined palate and esoteric knowledge. Toriko’s world is much simpler: The best foods are the ones that are hardest to get. Deliciousness, it seems, scales with difficulty, and the prizes in the first two volume present formidable challenges: Garara Gator, a huge, dinosaur-like creature, and Rainbow Fruit, which grows on a tree protected by massive four-armed apes.

Toriko is a basic shonen battle manga, in which the battles take place between Toriko and the creatures he plans to eat, or who are getting in the way of a meal. His companion on his hunts is Komatsu, a chef at a hotel run by the International Gourmet Organization. Komatsu is small and more at home in a kitchen than a jungle, and he spends most of the first adventure cowering in fear, but his reactions are an important part of the story. (Presumably the creator’s choice to name him after a brand of construction equipment was deliberate irony.)

Although he seems to spend a lot of his time eating, Toriko does have a plan, of sorts: He wants to construct an ideal multi-course meal of the best foods on earth. His quest to track down the hard-to-find foods, in order to determine whether they are worthy of this meal, adds a bit of structure to the series. Also, the characters mention that Toriko is one of Four Heavenly Kings, the four top gourmet hunters, although the others aren’t seen in this volume.

Like many shonen heroes, Toriko combines crudeness, strength, and extraordinary knowledge: When a leech attaches itself to Komatsu, for instance, he squeezes the juice from a mangrove leaf onto it; the juice contains salt, which leeches cannot tolerate. Later on, he makes a rather remarkable leap of logic: Just as the Komodo dragon (a real creature) has bacteria in its saliva that weaken its prey, so the Garara Gator (not a real creature) allows leeches to live in its mouth, because the leeches travel and draw blood from potential victims, and the scent of blood leads the gator to its prey. There is an interesting sort of reasoning that runs through the book, and for someone who rips things apart with his bare hands and tears into raw animals with his teeth, Toriko has quite the philosophical streak. He won’t kill the four-armed apes, for instance, because he doesn’t plan to eat them; instead, he stuns them with a double needle.

There is a lot of food in this manga, but most of it is imaginary: Plants that grow leaves of bacon, banana cucumbers, cod with the claws of a crayfish, and the wondrous Rainbow Fruit, which changes its flavor seven different times in the process of being eaten. Toriko has an enormous appetite and seems to be constantly eating, but he doesn’t so much prepare his food as rip it out by the roots and tear it apart. Then he rips a branch from the cigar tree and lights up. Toriko has a penchant for fine old brandies bourbon as well; he can slice the bottom off the bottle with his bare hand and down the contents in a single gulp.

At its heart, Toriko is a battle manga, so all this talk of rare fruits and delicate tastes is accompanied by depictions of the gargantuan Toriko slobbering as he shoves hunks of meat into his massive jaws. The art style is also crude, with strong emphasis on the grotesqueness of the creatures and the action of the fights.

With its Rabelaisian hero and imaginative array of preposterous foods, Toriko is a fun read, and it’s not surprising that it is one of the top five series in the Japanese Shonen Jump. It is clearly pitched at teenage readers, and the nonstop shonen action doesn’t stray far from the confines of the genre, but older readers may enjoy the flashes of wit and the portrayal of the ultimate iron-man gourmet.

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

Moto Hagio heading to SDCC

Moto Hagio's The Heart of Thomas

Moto Hagio's The Heart of Thomas

Awesome news: Moto Hagio will be a guest at San Diego Comic-Con in July.

Ed Sizemore kicks off the weekend with a thoughtful essay on the tragic flaw in To Terra: The belief that humans have unlimited control of the world around them. Sam Kusek compares To Terra to The X-Men, and Kate Dacey rounds up the rest of this week’s Manga Moveable Feast links. All this inspires David Welsh’s latest license request, Song of the Wind and the Trees.

Sadie Mattox contemplates the “manga is a fad” meme that has been making the rounds lately.

Global manga creator Misako Takashima, a.k.a. Misako Rocks!, talks to Mainichi about the differences between creating manga in the U.S. and Japan:

“I was surprised to see editors and others discuss whether it is acceptable to print pictures of a girl wearing a tank top before publishing. It was interesting to learn even that could be a problem in this country,” Takashima said.

Melinda Beasi ponders the question of who is buying manga at

Job board: Tokyopop is looking for an assistant to the CEO. The description is worth a read—whether it would be endlessly exciting or aggravating depends a lot on your point of view.

News from Japan: Ko Ransom posts the biggest manga print runs for the three biggest publishers in Japan. One Piece #57 tops the list.


Susan S. on vol. 10 of The Antique Gift Shop (Manga Jouhou)
Lissa Pattillo on vol. 1 of Deka Kyoshi (Kuriousity)
Diana Dang on vol. 1 of Flower in a Storm (Stop, Drop, and Read!)
Ng Suat Tong on Gantz (The Hooded Utilitarian)
Rob McMonigal on vol. 7 of Nana (Panel Patter)
Julie Opipari on vol. 2 of Sarasah (Manga Maniac Cafe)
Kristin on vol. 10 of Vampire Knight (Comic Attack)
Erica Friedman on vol. 20 of Yuri Himeori (part 2) (Okazu)

Hassler talks Twilight, Dark Horse brings one back

At Comic Book Resources, Kiel Phegley talks to Yen Press co-publisher Kurt Hassler about the manga market overall and the success of Twilight: The Graphic Novel. And yes, he does ask about the lettering. More importantly, Kurt points out that despite the gloomy news this week, manga made up 60% of graphic novel sales tracked by Bookscan last year.

Kate Dacey provides us with the day’s links to Manga Moveable Feast posts about To Terra, and she also reviews another series by the same creator, Andromeda Stories. David Welsh’s essay on To Terra goes beyond the book itself to consider questions of genre and audience and to note that although it’s a shonen manga it has a hint of shonen-ai.

Dark Horse is running a series right now at Facebook where editors talk about their favorite manga; the latest selection is Tim Ervin on Ghost Talker’s Daydream, and it includes a bit of news—the series, which was cancelled a year and a half ago, will be returning in September.

Dave Carter looks at DC’s decision to close CMX Manga in the context of the company as a whole and where they expect to make their money—from properties they own and can spin into movies and TV shows, not from properties they license and can only make into comics. The future he predicts for DC is kinda grim.

Meanwhile, Julie Opipari lists the CMX manga worth seeking out before they disappear.

Gottsu-Iiyan looks at the manga slump and traces it back to problems in the anime industry and a lack of good content in Japan.

The Yaoi Review has the latest Yaoi-Con updates.

Reviews: Carlo Santos leads us through the good, the bad, and the mediocre in his latest Right Turn Only!! column at ANN.

Lori Henderson on vol. 1 of Broken Blade (Manga Xanadu)
Zack Davisson on vol. 2 of Deadman Wonderland (Japan Reviewed)
Penny Kenny on vol. 1 of Flower in a Storm (Manga Life)
AstroNerdBoy on vol. 10 of Gakuen Alice (AstroNerdBoy’s Anime and Manga Blog)
Zack Davisson on Haru Hana: The Complete Collection (Manga Life)
Rachel on vol. 1 of Hey Class President! (Manga Jouhou)
Anna on vol. 1 of Library Wars: Love and War (2 screenshot limit)
Connie on vol. 8 of Real (Slightly Biased Manga)
Shannon Fay on vol. 1 of Right Here, Right Now (Kuriousity)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 1 of Saturn Apartments (The Comic Book Bin)
Snow Wildsmith on vol. 1 of Stepping on Roses and vol. 1 of Flower in a Storm (Good Comics for Kids)
Connie on vol. 7 of Vagabond (VizBig edition) (Slightly Biased Manga)
Connie on Vagabond Illustration Collection: Sumi (Slightly Biased Manga)
Erica Friedman on vol. 20 of Yuri Hime (Okazu)

Pictures and conversations

ToTerra2The Manga Moveable Feast keeps on rollin’ with reviews of Keiko Takemiya’s To Terra; Kate Dacey rounds up all the links at The Manga Critic.

A host of bloggers join Melinda Beasi for the Banana Fish Roundtable, this time concentrating on vols. 3 and 4, at Manga Bookshelf.

Brad Rice and David Welsh look at this week’s new releases; check David’s piece for some links to the latest round of online opinion-mongering as well.

Librarian Robin Brenner says farewell to CMX and advises fellow librarians on what series to pick up before they disappear.

A host of pundits have called for publishers to put out more manga for adults in order to save the flailing manga industry, but Simon Jones begs to differ.

At 2 screenshot limit, Anna posts a pic of her CMX collection and explains why it’s so awesome.


Kris on vol. 5 of Breath (Manic About Manga)
Bill Sherman on vol. 1 of Diamond Girl (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Andre on vol. 1 of Dorohedoro (Kuriousity)
Nick Smith on vol. 1 of I’ll Give It My All… Tomorrow (ICv2)
Bill Sherman on Isle of Forbidden Love (Blogcritics)
Kristin on vol. 1 of Kingyo Used Books (Comic Attack)
Briana Lawrence on Kiss Your Hair (
Snow Wildsmith on vols. 1 and 2 of Kurashina Sensei’s Passion (Fujoshi Librarian)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 35 of Oh My Goddess! (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Susan S. on vol. 2 of Raiders (Manga Jouhou)
Julie Opipari on vol. 4 of Rasetsu (Manga Maniac Cafe)
Michelle Smith on vols. 1 and 2 of Switch (Soliloquy in Blue)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 1 of Twin Spica (Comics Worth Reading)

Pushback on pushback

You know, there is a section of the blogsophere where DC Comics has become known chiefly as the company that shut down CMX. If you’re wondering why everyone is so bummed about this, check out Kate Dacey’s roundup of their tween- and teen-friendly titles at Good Comics for Kids. At, three editors put together their list of 20 must-have CMX series. I’m seeing more reviews pop up of individual CMX titles as well; it would be ironic if their sales went up now that DC has shut them down—and even taken down their website. In fact, DC has already airbrushed all their books right off their site, as if they never existed—they don’t even show up in the search engine, although they are supposedly not shutting down CMX until July 1. Classy.

For the bigger picture, check out former Yen Press co-publisher (and former DC vp of sales) Rich Johnson’s essay on what’s going on with the manga market. It’s good stuff, for the most part, although I argue with him a bit at Robot 6.

Sesho pushes back on the criticism of CMX, maintaining that manga simply isn’t popular. It’s an interesting point of view, maintaining that manga is a niche rather than trying to be the manga missionary to the world, like most of the rest of us do.

The Manga Moveable Feast continues, and Kate Dacey posts another round of links to reviews of To Terra at The Manga Critic. Checking in with new entries are Daniella Orihuela-Gruber and Sean Gaffney.

Melinda Beasi has all the latest manhwa news, including some discussions of scanlation, in this week’s Manhwa Monday update.

Kate Dacey looks at this week’s new manga.

J. Caleb Mozzocco uses the manhwa Comic as a window into the Korean comics industry. Maybe not a very good window…

Patrick Macias posts a sampling of Go Nagai’s art from a Japanese artbook at his blog.

News from Japan: Hunter x Hunter will be going on hiatus, according to Canned Dogs.

Reviews: Speaking of J. Caleb Mozzocco, as we were just a minute ago, he reviews the first volumes of Comic and Alice 19th at Every Day Is Like Wednesday. Johanna Draper Carlson looks at some manga-influenced graphic novels (including Red String doujinshi!) at Comics Worth Reading. Bad Jew has two ultra-micro-mini reviews of new Viz releases at Sleep Is For the Weak. And the Manga Recon bloggers take a quick look at some new titles in their latest Manga Minis column.

Sophie Stevens on vol. 2 of Biomega (Animanga Nation)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 2 of Black Butler (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Jennifer LeBlanc on vol. 5 of Breath (The Yaoi Review)
Jones on vol. 1 of Detroit Metal Cityle (Let’s you and him fight)
Leroy Douresseaux on Dry Heat (The Comic Book Bin)
Johanna Draper Carlson in vol. 1 of Flower in a Storm (Comics Worth Reading)
Tangognat on Fruits Basket Banquet and Songs to Make You Smile (Tangognat)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 1 of I’ll Give It My All… Tomorrow (The Comic Book Bin)
Lissa Pattillo on vol. 1 of The King of Cards (Kuriousity)
Greg McElhatton on vol. 1 of Kingyo Used Books (Read About Comics)
Deb Aoki on vols. 1 and 2 of Kobato (
Alex Woolfson on Loud Snow (Yaoi 911)
The Four-Eyed Stranger on MW (PopMatters)
Anna on vol. 1 of My Girlfriend’s a Geek (2 screenshot limit)
Nick Smith on vol. 1 of My Girlfriend’s a Geek (ICv2)
Zack Davisson on vol. 1 of Neko Ramen (Japan Reviewed)
Nick Smith on vol. 1 of Neko Ramen (ICv2)
Nick Smith on vol. 1 of Ratman (ICv2)
Lori Henderson on vol. 1 of Samurai Commando: Mission 1549 (Manga Xanadu)
Zoey on vol. 2 of Sarasah (Manga Jouhou)
Connie on vol. 10 of Slam Dunk (Slightly Biased Manga)
Dave Ferraro on vol. 1 of Stepping on Roses (Comics-and-More)

Translation talk, Tamai, and To Terra

The past couple of weeks have been tough ones for the manga world, with the disappearance of Go! Comi, the summary execution of CMX, and the staff cuts from Viz. But Matt Blind looks at the history of manga sales in the U.S. and finds some reason for cheer, if only because we are way ahead of where we were ten years ago. Meanwhile, the comments in Julie Opipari’s farewell to CMX at Blog@Newsarama turn into a smackdown between CMX-haters and professional translator William Flanagan. It is either interesting or tiresome, depending on how much you have followed the scanlation debates.

The Manga Moveable Feast begins today, and this month’s subject is Keiko Takemiya’s To Terra. Kate Dacey gets us started with a history and summary, and Jason Yadao has a nice overview at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Lori Henderson boils down this week’s manga news to a handy digest form at Manga Xanadu.

Helen McCarthy has been having some fun researching manga creators who are relatively unknown in English-speaking countries; her latest find is Yukio Tamai, the creator of Omega Tribe and one of the creators protesting a recent attempt to ban depictions of characters that appear to be under 18 in “sexually provocative” situations.

Pod-castic: Tokyopop editor Cindy Suzuki talks about their new title, Neko Ramen, in the latest Anime Today podcast. And Lissa Pattillo guests on the latest ANNCast, discussing the demise of CMX and Go! Comi.

Jacob Martin reflects on the death of heavy metal rocker Ronnie James Dio, who, like Osamu Tezuka, died of stomach cancer, and then he takes a look at a documentary on Tezuka that was made near the end of his life.

Udon Entertainment will be publishing the manga Darkstalkers / Red Earth: Maleficarum, based on the video games Darkstalkers and Red Earth, in the fall.

Ready for a laugh? Erin Finnegan has some Initial D humor for you.

New website alert: is exactly what the name says—sort of a Bartlett’s Quotations for the otaku set. Check it out if you’re looking for that perfect epigraph—or maybe just inspiration.

Reviews: Christopher Mautner reviews a trio of recent graphic novels, including Black Blizzard, at Robot 6.

Kelly on vol. 1 of Alice in the Country of Hearts (kelkagandy’s ramblings)
Todd Douglass on vol. 3 of Alice in the Country of Hearts (Anime Maki)
Kate Dacey on vol. 1 of AX: A Collection of Alternative Manga (The Manga Critic)
Julie Opipari on vol. 2 of Black Butler (Manga Maniac Cafe)
Connie on vol. 5 of Blade of the Immortal (Slightly Biased Manga)
Rob McMonigal on vol. 5 of Bleach (Panel Patter)
Bill Sherman on vol. 1 of Diamond Girl (Blogcritics)
Kristin on Dry Heat (Comic Attack)
Shannon Fay on Dry Heat (Kuriousity)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 12 of Excel Saga (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Connie on vol. 6 of Gentlemen’s Alliance+ (Slightly Biased Manga)
Connie on vol. 7 of Gestalt (Slightly Biased Manga)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 19 of Hikaru no Go (Comics Worth Reading)
Connie on vol. 8 of I Hate You More Than Anyone (Slightly Biased Manga)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 3 of Karakuri Odette (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
AstroNerdBoy on vol. 2 of Kitchen Princess (AstroNerdBoy’s Anime and Manga Blog)
Connie on vol. 1 of Kobato (Slightly Biased Manga)
Connie on vol. 2 of Mad Love Chase (Slightly Biased Manga)
Julie Opipari on vol. 6 of Mixed Vegetables (Manga Maniac Cafe)
Noah Berlatsky on vol. 1 of Monster (The Hooded Utilitarian)
Lissa Pattillo on vol. 1 of My Girlfriend’s a Geek (ANN)
Tangognat on vol. 1 of Neko Ramen (Tangognat)
Rob McMonigal on vol. 1 of Nightschool (Panel Patter)
Sean Kleefeld on Ode to Kirihito (Kleefeld on Comics)
Tiamat’s Disciple on vol. 2 of One Fine Day (Tiamat’s Manga Reviews)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 1 of Ratman (Comics Worth Reading)