News Round-Up for NYCC 2015

haikyuuGood news for manga readers: 2013-2014 was the first time since the mid-2000s that the industry enjoyed two consecutive years of sales growth. While the manga market isn’t as red-hot as it was in Tokyopop’s heyday, publishers released almost 800 new volumes in 2014, up 25% from 2013. [ICv2]

At its Friday panel, VIZ Media unveiled a diverse slate of titles that ran the gamut from shonen (Black Clover) to josei (Everyone’s Getting Married). Among the most interesting licenses were two sports manga: Haikyuu!, which focuses on a volleyball team, and Kurokuro’s Basketball. VIZ also confirmed that it will be publishing Seventh Garden, Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter, and fan favorite Yona of the Dawn. [Crunchyroll]

Yen Press announced five new manga at NYCC, including an adaptation of Space Dandy and a new series by Yuji Iwahara (Cat Paradise, King of Thorn) called Dimension W. Also joining the Yen line-up in 2016 are Scumbag Loser, a cautionary tale about lying to your peers; Corpse Party: Blood Covered, another entry in the teens-fight-to-the-death-in-an-alternate-universe genre; and Unhappy Go Lucky!, a comedy about a group of unlucky middle-school students. [Anime News Network]

Yen isn’t the only company on the Space Dandy bandwagon: Kodansha Comics will be publishing I Am a Space Dandy!, another manga spin-off of the popular anime. Kodansha also revealed plans to publish the 4-koma Spoof on Titan. [Anime News Network]

At the Crunchyroll panel, the company introduced fans to its newest offerings, which include Arakawa Under the Bridge, a drama by Saint Young Men creator Hikaru Nakamura; Gugure! Kokkuri-san, a comedy about a little girl who inadvertently summons a fox demon; and Cuticle Detective Inaba, a supernatural comedy-thriller about a detective who’s half wolf, half man. (The “cuticle” in the title refers to the character’s pronounced interest in hair. Oh, manga…) [Anime News Network]

In a further sign of manga’s global reach, two companies announced that they would publish comics inspired by a signature title in their catalogs. Kodansha’s Attack on Titan and Dark Horse’s Lone Wolf and Cub 2100 projects will feature original stories by Faith Erin Hicks, Gail Simone, and other creators active in the American industry. [A Case Suitable for Treatment]

Although Vertical Comics did not announce any new manga acquisitions, it did give con-goers a sneak peek at an intriguing new project: audio light novels with music, sound effects, and voice acting. Look for the product line’s debut in spring 2016. [Crunchyroll]

Tokyo Ghoul, One-Punch Man, and Attack on Titan are fighting for the top spot on this week’s New York Times Manga Best Seller list. [New York Times]

Reviews: Michelle Smith and Sean Gaffney post a new set of Bookshelf Briefs, with short reviews of Assassination Classroom, He’s My Only Vampire, and QQ Sweeper.

Lori Henderson on vols. 1-2 of Beast Master (Manga Xanadu)
Terry Hong on The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home: Part One (Book Dragon)
Richard Gutierrez on vol. 2 of Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (The Fandom Post)
Wolfen Moondaughter on vol. 23 of Kaze Hikaru (Sequential Tart)
Kat Stevens on vol. 1 of L-DK (AiPT!)
Terry Hong on vol. 1 of One-Punch Man (Book Dragon)
Amy McNulty on vol. 72 of Naruto (Anime News Network)
Megan R. on Neon Genesis Evangelion (The Manga Test Drive)
Jordan Richards on vol. 6 of Noragami: Stray God (AiPT!)
Sheena McNeil on vol. 1 of QQ Sweeper (Sequential Tart)
Kate O’Neil on vol. 1 of Rose Guns Days: Season One (The Fandom Post)
SKJAM on Sanctuary (SKJAM! Reviews)
Wolfen Moondaughter on vol. 6 of Seraph of the End (Sequential Tart)
Rebecca Silverman on vols. 1-3 of Servamp (Anime News Network)
Anna N. on vol. 3 of So Cute It Hurts! (The Manga Report)
Plutoburns on Terra Formars (Pluto Burns)
Richard Gutierrez on vol. 1 of Tokyo ESP (The Fandom Post)
Garrett Gottschalk on vol. 1 of Ultraman (No Flying No Tights)
Ken H. on vol. 6 of Vinland Saga (Sequential Ink)
G.B. Smith on vol. 7 of Witchcraft Works (The Fandom Post)
Lori Henderson on Yurei Attack! The Japanese Ghost Attack Survival Guide (Manga Xanadu)

*Indicates YouTube review



Naruto app

This is a big week for Naruto fans, as the 72nd and final volume of the series comes out in print, the the one-volume sequel Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring is released in digital, and creator Masashi Kishimoto appears as a special guest at New York Comic Con, where the film Boruto: Naruto the Movie also gets its North American premiere.

Viz is also launching a dedicated Naruto app for iOS and Android devices that will feature a new chapter of the manga every day for free (each chapter stays up for seven days). The app syncs with their VizManga digital service, and for the month of October, Viz is offering discounts on Naruto volumes, with the first five volumes going for just $1.99 each. They also have some sweet bundles, and any purchase will get you an e-book of digital extras, including Kishimoto’s original pilot that ultimately turned into Naruto.

Here’s Kishimoto-sensei’s New York Comic Con schedule—and stay tuned for update and reports from the show:

Masashi Kishimoto NYCC

The Manga Revue: Say I Love You

This week, I’m catching up with Say I Love You, a shojo romance that’s been garnering strong reviews here and elsewhere since Kodansha began publishing it last August.

sayiloveyou3Say I Love You, Vols. 1-3
By Kanae Hazuki
Rated OT, for older teens
Kodansha Comics, $10.99

Back in the 1980s, filmmaker John Hughes peddled an intoxicating fantasy to thirteen-year-old girls: you might be the class misfit–the kid who wore the “wrong” clothes, listened to the “wrong” music, and had the “wrong” friends–but the hottest guy in school could still fall for you. Better still, he’d like you for being a “real” person, unlike the two-faced girls who inhabited his social circle. You’d have a bumpy road to your happily-after-ever, of course, since his friends felt compelled to say that you weren’t in his league. In the end, however, your sincerity and quirkiness would prevail.

Say I Love You reads a lot like a manga version of such John Hughes masterpieces as Pretty in Pink or Some Kind of Wonderful, right down to the meet-cute between Mei, a moody loner, and Yamato, the most popular guy in school. In an only-in-manga scenario, Mei mistakenly believes that Yamato tried to peek up her skirt, and responds with a powerful roundhouse kick. Though Yamato’s friends demand an apology from her, Yamato is intrigued by Mei’s display of bravado and asks her out.

Mei is initially bewildered by Yamato’s courtship: why would someone as outgoing, handsome, and well regarded find her interesting? As Mei soon discovers, however, Yamato’s dating history is more complicated than she assumed; his good looks belie an earnest, thoughtful person who lost his virginity before he met someone he really cared about. Small wonder he puts up with Mei’s tearful, angry outbursts and mixed signals.

And speaking of mixed signals, Say I Love You is refreshingly honest in acknowledging the full spectrum of teenage desire. Some characters embrace their feelings in healthy ways; others use sex to fill a void in their emotional lives; and still others are just beginning to explore their sexuality. Though many of the sexual encounters in the series are ill-advised, the teenage logic that underpins them rings true; an adult may feel an uncomfortable pang of recognition while reading Say I Love You.

The series’ greatest strength, however, is that author Kanae Hazuki is unusually generous with her supporting players. We’re privy to both Mei and Yamato’s thoughts, of course, but Hazuki also pulls the curtain back on other characters’ interior lives. In volume two, for example, mean girl Aiko becomes the temporary focus of the story, narrating her own transformation from a plump, pretty girl to a skinny, angry young woman who is furious that Yamato doesn’t like her. Her blunt self-criticism and body hang-ups remind younger readers that everyone wears a mask in high school; even students who seem outwardly blessed with good looks or talent are wrestling with the familiar demons of self-doubt and self-loathing.

If I had any criticism of Say I Love You, it’s that the plot twists are a little too by-the-book, with beach visits, Valentine’s Day agita, and misunderstandings of the “I saw you kiss her!” variety. In volume three, for example, Hazuki introduces Megumi, a model who’s hell-bent on making Yamato her boyfriend. When a direct approach doesn’t work–Yamato, of course, rebuffs Meg’s initial proposition–Meg transfers schools and ropes Yamato into becoming a model himself. I realize that “model,” “celebrity,” or “singer” epitomize a thirteen-year-old’s dream job, but the artifice and obviousness of diving into the modeling world feels like an unnatural direction for such a finely observed romance.

Perhaps the best compliment I could pay Say I Love You is that it has all the virtues of Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful: it’s got a proud, tough heroine who’s skeptical of popularity, a sincere hot guy who can see past her bluster, and a veritable Greek chorus of peers who chart the ups and downs of their relationship. All it needs is a killer soundtrack.

Reviews: At Brain vs. Book, Joceyln Allen sings the praises of Takehiko Moriizumi’s Mimi wa Wasurenai, an untranslated short story collection. “It’s okay if you don’t read Japanese,” she explains, “you can just stare at the beauty on every page. Moriizumi makes manga like nothing I’ve ever seen before.” Go see for yourself!

Saeyong Kim on vol. 1 of 21st Century Boys (No Flying No Tights)
Jessikah Chautin on Awkward (No Flying No Tights)
SKJAM on vols. 1-2 of Captain Ken (SKJAM! Reviews)
Kat Stark on vol. 1 of Devil Survivor (AiPT!)
Jessikah Chautin on vol. 1 of Durarara!! Yellow Scarves Arc (No Flying No Tights)
SKJAM on Gimmick! (SKJAM! Reviews)
Kat Stark on vol. 1 of Kiss Him, Not Me! (AiPT!)
Ian Wolf on vol. 1 of the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Omnibus (Anime UK News)
David Brooke on vol. 1 of Ninja Slayer Kills (AiPT!)
Anna N. on vol. 2 of Requiem of the Rose King (The Manga Report)
Ian Wolf on vol. 2 of Requiem of the Rose King (Anime UK News)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of Rose Guns Days, Season One (Anime News Network)
Marissa Lieberman on vol. 1 of Seraph of the End (No Flying No Tights)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 11 of Umineko: When They Cry (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Ash Brown on vol. 2 of Wayward: Ties That Bind (Experiments in Manga)
Ken H. on vol. 3 of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches (Sequential Ink)

BookWalker to Relaunch, Death Note Team Start New Series

Platinum End

Platinum End

Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba, the creators of Death Note and Bakuman, have a new series in the works, Platinum End, which they describe as the story of “a human and an angel,” with a central character who “does not seek out hope in order to live.” No word yet on any licenses, but it’s hard to believe Viz wouldn’t pick this up.

Some big digital news: Kadokawa is going to relaunch its BookWalker e-book service next week with a broader line of manga and light novels, including works from other publishers. No word on any changes to their ComicWalker app, which offers first and most recent chapters of a lot of different manga for free.

Dark Horse has licensed Kengo Hanazawa’s zombie series I Am a Hero.

Manga journalist par excellence Deb Aoki posted three major stories recently: She talks to editors of Kodansha Comics and Alvin Lu of the new digital publisher Kodansha Advanced Media about the success of Attack on Titan and Kodansha’s digital publishing plans; she interviews Tokyopop CEO Stu Levy about his return to publishing, with both new books and a new app; and she has a lively interview with Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi, creators of the latest Ultraman manga.

At Organization Anti-Social Geniuses, Justin talks to three manga editors about their jobs—breaking in, what they do, and what the challenges are.

Erica Friedman has some updates on yuri manga in Japan in the latest edition of Yuri Network News at Okazu.

The Manga Bookshelf team discusses their picks of the week, including the long-awaited new volume of Vinland Saga.

News from Japan: The city of Kushiro, in Hokkaido, is bankrolling the creation of a shoujo manga set there in hopes of attracting tourists. 9: Kimi Ga Iru Machi De Koi O Shita (9: I Fell in Love in the Town Where You Live) will include many local sites of interest in its story. Kizuku Watanabe and Jō Aoto have created an Assassination Classroom spinoff, Koro-sensei Q!, which will launch in Friday’s issue of Saikyō Jump. And Ema Toyama has a new series in the works.

Reviews: Ash Brown sums up a week’s worth of manga reading at Experiments in Manga. Sean Gaffney and Michelle Smith dive into a big pile of recent releases in the Bookshelf Briefs column at Manga Bookshelf.

Naru on Emma (Organization Anti-Social Geniuses)
Sakura Eries on vol. 6 of Kiss of the Rose Princess (The Fandom Post)
L.B. Bryant on vol. 1 of Komomo Confiserie (ICv2)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of RoseGunsDays Season 1 (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Kanta Ishida on Terra Formars (The Japan News)
Kory Cerjak on vol. 1 of Tokyo ESP (The Fandom Post)
Lori Henderson on vols. 6-9 of What Did You Eat Yesterday? (Manga Xanadu)
Ken H. on vol. 3 of Yamada-Kun and the Seven Witches (Sequential Ink)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of Your Lie in April (ANN)
Erica Friedman on vol. 2 of Yuri Kuma Arashi (Okazu)

The Manga Revue: Rose Guns Days Season One

In principal, a video game or visual novel ought to be a solid foundation on which to build a manga: the designers have already done the hard work of creating characters, endowing them with powers (or weapons), and setting them loose in a richly detailed environment. In practice, however, many game-franchises-cum-manga are a dreary affair, with thin plots and two-dimensional characters. I’ve largely sworn off the genre, but when my Manga Bookshelf colleague Sean Gaffney sang the praises of Rose Guns Days Season One, I thought I’d take it for a test drive.

Ryukishi07_RoseGunDays_1Rose Guns Days Season One, Vol. 1
Story by Ryukishi07, Art by Soichiro
Rated OT, for older teens
Yen Press, $13.00

Rose Guns Days has an intriguing premise: what if Japan had surrendered to the Allied Forces in 1944 instead of fighting until the bitter end? In Ryukishi07’s scenario, American and Chinese troops occupy Japan, carving out distinct spheres of influence. Japanese citizens are struggling to get by: work and food are scarce, and the Allies’ efforts to rebuild the country are erasing its history, creating an environment in which criminal enterprise–smuggling, prostitution–flourishes.

Sounds good, no? If only the actual story was as compelling as the alternate universe in which it unfolds! The principal character, Leo Shisigami, is a Spike Spiegel wannabe: he’s got the skinny suit and tousled hair, but lacks Spiegel’s presence. After a meet-cute that’s shown not once but twice, Leo becomes a bodyguard for Rose Haibana, a pretty madam whose establishment caters to foreigners. The next 100 pages are a riot of kidnappings, fisticuffs, and golden-hearted hookers–no cliche goes unturned.

The artwork is a similarly pedestrian. Though the supporting characters are rendered with loving attention to costumes, facial features, and body types, Rose looks like something pilfered from a twelve-year-old’s Deviant Art account: she barely has a nose or mouth, and her face is framed by two immobile locks of hair. The backgrounds, too, run the gamut from meticulously rendered to barely-there. Only a few panels capture the disruption and poverty caused by the occupying forces; most scenes appear to be taking place in a no man’s land of Photoshop fills and traced elements. What’s most disappointing, however, is that the artwork does nothing to bring depth or nuance to the original visual novel concept. Each scene feels like a collection of artful poses, rather than a dynamic presentation of a story with fistfights and car chases. With so little effort to adapt the material for a different medium, it begs the question, Why bother?

The verdict: Unless you’re a devotee of the visual novel series on which Rose Guns Days is based, skip it.

Reviews: Seth Hahne posts an in-depth assessment of Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit, while Erica Friedman reviews the Japanese edition of Rose of Versailles. Over at Snap30, Frank Inglese test drives the new Weekly Shonen Jump series Samon the Summoner, which debuted on September 21st.

Mark Pelligrini on vol. 1 of AKIRA (AiPT!)
Tyler Sewell on Bat-Manga! The Secret History of Batman in Japan (AiPT!)
Michael Burns on vol. 1 of Black Bullet (AniTAY)
Connie on vol. 31 of Blade of the Immortal (Slightly Biased Manga)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of Chiro: The Star Project (Anime News Network)
Lori Henderson on vol. 1 of The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home (Good Comics for Kids)
ebooksgirl on Cromartie High School (Geek Lit Etc.)
Vernieda Vergara on Gangsta (Women Write About Comics)
Patrick Moore on Fragments of Horror (Bento Byte)
Erica Friedman on vol. 2 of Iono The Fanatics, Special Edition (Okazu)
Helen on King’s Game: Origin (Organization Anti-Social Geniuses)
Jennifer Wharton on vol. 1 of Kiss of the Rose Princess (No Flying No Tights)
Kristin on vol. 1 of Komomo Confiserie (Comic Attack)
Megan R. on La Esperanca (The Manga Test Drive)
Thomas Maluck on The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (No Flying No Tights)
Nic Wilcox on vol. 1 of Log Horizon (No Flying No Tights)
Amy McNulty on vol. 71 of Naruto (Anime News Network)
Sean Gaffney on vols. 1-2 of One-Punch Man (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Connie on vol. 5 of Phantom Thief Jeanne (Slightly Biased Manga)
Ian Wolf on vol. 2 of Requiem for the Rose King (Anime UK News)
Jordan Richards on vol. 1 of Rose Guns Days Season One (AiPT!)
Karen Maeda on vol. 1 of Ultraman (Sequential Tart)
Austin Lanari on issue #43 of Weekly Shonen Jump (Comic Bastards)
Adam Capps on vol. 6 of Witchcraft Works (Bento Byte)
Connie on vol. 4 of X: 3-in-1 Edition (Slightly Biased Manga)
Lori Henderson on vol. 1 of Yu-Gi-Oh: 3-in-1 Edition (Good Comics for Kids)

The Manga Revue: Komomo Confiserie

Apologies for missing last week’s deadline – the first week of the semester is always chaotic, and manga reviewing took a back seat to lesson prep. Now that school is underway again, however, the Manga Revue will run weekly on Fridays, as it did this summer.

komomo_confiserieKomomo Confiserie, Vol. 1
By Maki Minami
Rated T, for teens
VIZ Manga, $6.99 (digital)

Flip through The Big Book of Shojo Plotlines, and there – between “I’m Having an Affair with My Homeroom Teacher” and “I’m a Spazz Who’s Inexplicably Irresistible” – you’ll find another time-honored trope: “I Was Mean to My Childhood Friend, and Now He’s Hot!” Komomo Confiserie embodies this plot to a tee: its wealthy heroine, Komomo, was spoiled rotten as a child, with an army of servants at her disposal. It was her special delight to order fellow six-year-old Natsu to make her sweets–he was the pastry’s chef son, after all–and terrorize him when he didn’t comply. When Komomo turns fifteen, however, her family loses everything, forcing her to get a job and attend public school. Natsu–now a successful baker in his own right–makes a seemingly chivalrous offer of employment to Komomo, who’s too guileless to realize that she’s walking into a trap.

You can guess the rest: Natsu revels in his new-found position of power, directing Komomo to perform menial tasks and scolding her for lacking the common sense to sweep floors or boil water. The fact that he’s cute only adds salt to the wound; Komomo vacillates between plotting her escape and speculating that Natsu bullies her out of love.

Whatever pleasure might come from witnessing Komomo’s comeuppance is undermined by the author’s frequent capitulations to shojo formula. Though Natsu frequently declares that bullying Komomo is his privilege – and his alone – he routinely helps her out of jams, bakes her sweets, and behaves a lot like someone who’s harboring a crush on her. Komomo, for her part, behaves like such a twit that it’s hard to root for her; even when she has an epiphany about friendship or hard work, her insights are as shallow as the proverbial cake pan.

The series’ redeeming strength is the artwork. Though Maki Minami frequently resorts to pre-fab backgrounds and Photoshopped elements, she does a fine job of representing the emotional rush that a sugary treat can elicit in even the most jaded adult. Komomo’s food reveries are a swirl of flowers, tears, and lacy doilies that neatly suggest the mixture of joy and sadness she experiences whenever a macaroon or a petit-four stirs up childhood memories. Too bad the rest of the story isn’t as sharply observed.

The verdict: Saccharine plotting and unsympathetic leads spoil this confection.

Reviews: Sean Gaffney and Michelle Smith post a fresh crop of Bookshelf Briefs, while Claire Napier kicks the tires on Ichigo Takano’s ReCollection and Kate O’Neil reminds us why a new installment of Kaze Hikaru is worth the wait. At Contemporary Japanese Literature, Kathryn Hermann posts a glowing review of Yurei: The Japanese Ghost, a collection of essays by manga scholar and translator Zack Davisson.

Erica Friedman on 2DK, G Pen, Mezamashidokei (Okazu)
Matthew Warner on vol. 5 of Ajin: Demi-Human (The Fandom Post)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of Alice in Murderland (Anime News Network)
Jordan Richards on vol. 1 of Attack on Titan: Colossal Edition (AiPT!)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 16 of Dorohedoro (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Jordan Richards on vol. 1 of Inuyashiki (AiPT!)
Justin Stroman on vol. 1 of Inuyashiki (Organization Anti-Social Geniuses)
Megan R. on Here Is Greenwood (The Manga Test Drive)
Saeyoung Kim on K-On! High School (No Flying No Tights)
Sheena McNeil on vol. 2 of Love Stage!! (Sequential Tart)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 3 of Love Stage!! (Comics Worth Reading)
Anna N. on vols. 1-2 of Maid-sama! (The Manga Report)
Ash Brown on Maria the Virgin Witch: Exhibition (Experiments in Manga)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 4 of Master Keaton (Watch Play Read)
Matthew Warner on vol. 3 of My Neighbor Seki (The Fandom Post)
Ash Brown on vol. 5 of Mushishi (Experiments in Manga)
Al Sparrow on vol. 1 of Nurse Hitomi’s Monster Infirmary (ComicSpectrum)
Joseph Luster on One-Punch Man (Otaku USA)
Sheena McNeil on vol. 4 of Pokemon X.Y. (Sequential Tart)
Sean Gaffney on vols. 19-20 of Ranma 1/2 (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Matt on vol. 1 of Rose Guns Days: Season One (AniTAY)
Vernieda Vergara on The Science of Attack on Titan (Women Write About Comics)
Ken H. on vol. 2 of A Silent Voice (Sequential Ink)
Matt on vol. 3 of Sword Art Online Progressive (AniTAY)
Frank Inglese on vol. 7 of Terraformars (Snap30)
David Brooke on vol. 1 of Vinland Saga (AiPT!)
Frank Inglese on vol. 6 of World Trigger (Snap30)