Takeshi Obata Returns to Shonen Jump

Shonen Jump adds a new series to its lineup, and the artist is Takeshi Obata! The series is Gakkyu Hotei: School Judgment and the writer is Nobuaki Enoki. It’s about a school that has its own court; if that sounds familiar, it’s because the manga ran for a while as a smartphone-only series and just relaunched on December 1.

Kodansha has expanded into China with a local magazine, Jinmanhua, and homegrown manga by Chinese artists; the creative duo who go by Navar have seen their manhua Carrier: Xiedaizhe, go the other way—it is now running in Kodansha’s Bessatsu Shonen Magazine in Japan and has been published as collected editions there as well.

Got some last-minute shopping to do? Erica Friedman posts the Okazu Gift Guide, and she also has a fresh serving of Yuri Network News for us.

Laura reveals her favorite shoujo series at Heart of Manga, and she also looks at the series currently running in the magazine Be Love.

Reviews: The Manga Bookshelf team takes a quick look at recent releases in their newest Bookshelf Briefs post.

Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of Ajin (ANN)
Ash Brown on vol. 2 of Attack on Titan: No Regrets (Experiments in Manga)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 6 of Attack on Titan (Lesley’s Musings on Manga)
Lori Henderson on vols. 11-13 of Attack on Titan (Manga Xanadu)
Alice Vernon on Bloody Cross (Girls Like Comics)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 24 of Fullmetal Alchemist (Lesley’s Musings on Manga)
Kristin on The Garden of Words (Comic Attack)
Sarah on vol. 16 of Kamisama Kiss (nagareboshi reviews0
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 25 of Naruto (Lesley’s Musings on Manga)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 10 of Ooku: The Inner Chambers (Comics Worth Reading)
A Library Girl on vols. 1-3 of Pandora Hearts (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 4 of Phantom Thief Jeanne (The Comic Book Bin)
Erica Friedman on Philosophia (Okazu)
Lesley Aeschliman on the December 15 issue of Shonen Jump (Lesley’s Musings on Manga)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 4 of Soul Eater Not! (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 3 of Terra Formars (The Comic Book Bin)
AstroNerdBoy on vol. 2 of UQ Holder (AstroNerdBoy’s Anime and Manga Blog)

Quick Friday Manga Links

Once again, the fifth volume of Monster Musume tops the New York Times’ Manga Bestseller list, followed by the latest installments of Fairy Tail, Attack on Titan, and xxxHolic Rei, CLAMP’s sort-of sequel to xxxHolic.

Will the Kickstarter campaign for Ludwig B. reach its goal of $21,000? Johanna Draper Carlson investigates.

The Manga Bookshelf gang discuss next week’s big releases, from Master Keaton to Mobile Suit Gundham.

Look out, Wallace and Grommit–Moyocco Anno has launched an Indie GoGo campaign to adapt her manga Diary of O’Chibi into a stop-motion film.

Kodansha recently posted a brief video “trailer” for Noriko Ootani’s josei series Sukkute Goran, and it’s lovely.

Reviews: Ash Brown discusses Frederick Schodt’s landmark 1983 book Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics. Over at Anime News Network, Shaenon Garrity devotes the latest House of 1000 Manga column to Taiyo Matsumoto’s GoGo Monster.

Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 20 of Arata: The Legend (The Comic Book Bin)
Jordan Richards on vol. 1 of Assassination Classroom (Adventures in Poor Taste)
Rachel Tougas on vol. 1 of Assassination Classroom (Rachel Loves Comics)
Noel Thorne on vol. 1 of Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga (Comic Ally)
Rebecca Silverman on vols. 1-2 of False Memories (Anime News Network)
Marissa Lieberman on vol. 1 of Food Wars! (No Flying No Tights)
Eric Gaudette on Hellsing (Emertainment Monthly)
Megan R. on In Clothes Called Fat (The Manga Test Drive)
Nick Smith on vol.1 of Kiss of the Rose Princess (ICv2)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 9 of Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic (The Comic Book Bin)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 2 of My Love Story!! (Manga Worth Reading)
Johanna Draper Carlos on vol. 2 of Spell of Desire (Manga Worth Reading)
Kate O’Neil on vol. 3 of Sweet Rein (The Fandom Post)
Matthew Warner on vol. 19 of Vampire Knight (The Fandom Post)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 8 of Voice Over! Seiyu Academy (The Comic Book Bin)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of Witchcraft Works (Anime News Network)
Matthew Alexander on vol. 5 of Wolfsmund (The Fandom Post)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 1 of Yukarism (Manga Worth Reading)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Yukarism (A Case Suitable for Treatment)

Kodansha Comics Licenses ‘Your Lie in April’

yourlieinapril1
Kodansha Comics announced a new license out of the blue on Wednesday: Naoshi Arakawa’s music-romance story Your Lie in April. Here’s the blurb:

Kosei Arima was a piano prodigy until his cruel taskmaster of a mother died suddenly, changing his life forever. Driven by his pain to abandon piano, Kosei now lives in a monotonous, colorless world. Having resigned himself to a bland life, he is surprised when he meets Kaori Miyazono, a violinist with an unorthodox style. Can she teach Kosei not just how to play, but how to start living again?

The anime is already running on Crunchyroll, Aniplex Channel, and Hulu, and apparently it’s quite popular; Kodansha may be banking on the same anime/manga synergy that made Attack on Titan such a hit. There’s more at the anime website, including trailers for an upcoming movie.

More on Digital’s Kickstarters; New Naruto Novels

At Publishers Weekly, I talked to Digital Manga Publishing CEO Hikaru Sasahara about their ambitious Kickstarter, which would have raised over half a million dollars to publish 31 volumes of manga by Osamu Tezuka. I also talked a bit about their new Kickstarter, which is closer to the older model. At Eeepers Choice, Phillip questions the wisdom of their plans to hold another Kickstarter to fund a new printing of Unico, Swallowing the Earth, and Barbara.

The Manga Bookshelf team discusses this week’s new releases.

Volume 72 of Naruto will be the final volume; it will be out in February in Japan and sometime in 2016 in the U.S. Also, Shueisha has announced the full list of post-manga Naruto novels, which will continue the story and feature art by manga-ka Masashi Kishimoto.

One Piece is taking a one-week hiatus from Shonen Jump (in Japan, so presumably from Viz’s Shonen Jump as well) so author Eiichiro Oda can do some research.

Erica Friedman brings us up to date with a new Yuri Network News post at Okazu.

Lori Henderson posts the weekly top ten lists from Viz’s digital site and the New York Times, plus a list of the manga that appeared in BookScan’s top 20 list for November.

Lori also posts a Manga Gift Guide at Manga Xanadu, and she gives her take on the past week’s new manga.

News from Japan: Da Vinci magazine revealed its list of the top manga of the year, based on votes by over 4,000 readers, retailers, and reviewers, and Attack on Titan was number one for the second year in a row. Inio Asano is taking a break from his current series, Dead Dead Demon’s Dededededestruction; it will return to Big Comic Spirits in the spring.

Reviews

Erica Friedman on Ashita no Kimi ni Hanabata wo (Okazu)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 5 of Attack on Titan (Lesley’s Musings on Manga)
Dan Greenfield on vol. 1 of Batmanga (13th Dimension)
A Library Girl on vols. 1-4 of Durarara!!! (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Drew McCabe on E-Robot (Comic Attack)
Erica Friedman on Himitsu no Kakera (Okazu)
Laura on vol. 1 of Kiss of the Rose Princess (Heart of Manga)
Ash Brown on vol. 7 of Mobile Suit Gundam (Experiments in Manga)
A Library Girl on vols. 1, 2, and 5-18 of Monster (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Lori Henderson on vols. 15-21 of Pokemon Adventures: Ruby and Sapphire (Good Comics for Kids)
Anna N on vol. 3 of Seraph of the End (Manga Report)
Matthew Alexander on vol. 5 of Sherlock Bones (The Fandom Post)
Sean Gaffney on Showa 1944-1953: A History of Japan (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Kristin on vol. 2 of Spell of Desire (Comic Attack)
TSOTE on vol. 2 of Swallowing the Earth (Three Steps Over Japan)
Josh Begley on vol. 4 of Vinland Saga (The Fandom Post)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 1 of Yukarism (I Reads You)

VIZ Nabs New Junji Ito Manga

fragments_of-Horror-itoExciting news: VIZ will publish Junji Ito’s latest manga, Fragments of Horror, in 2015. VIZ promises that Fragments has something for everyone, “from the terrifying to the comedic, from the erotic to the loathsome.” Look for a hardcover edition next summer.

The latest volume of Monster Musume edges out Attack on Titan for the top spot on this week’s New York Times Manga Bestseller list.

Toshi Nakamura thinks the new Parasyte movie doesn’t stack up against the manga.

But wait–there’s more! Masashi Kishimoto sits down for another interview about Naruto, this time with Mezamashi TV.

Deb Aoki files a report from the 2014 International Manga Festival in Tokyo, while Khursten Santos posts an in-depth look at the Manga Futures conference, which was held at the University of Wollongong last month.

Organization Anti-Social Geniuses is looking for a Manga Features Writer.

To help shojo fans get into the Christmas spirit, Anna N. is giving away volumes 1-3 of Sweet Rein.

Which new Seven Seas titles are you eagerly anticipating? Lori Henderson offers her two cents on the company’s latest acquisitions.

Librarian Mikhail Koulikhov discusses the pros and cons of using Google Scholar to research anime and manga topics.

News from Japan: Mayumi Azuma (Elemental Gelade) and Tatsuro Nakanishi (Crown) have teamed up for Amadeus Code, a new series for Monthly Comic Garden.

Reviews: Anime News Network officially retires its Right Turn Only!! column this week with mini-reviews of Afterschool Charisma, From the New World, and Whispered Words. Elsewhere at ANN, Jason Thompson looks at Japan Sinks, a natural disaster story from the 1970s.

Alice Vernon on Are You Alice? (Girls Like Comics)
Sakura Eries on vol. 3 of Aron’s Absurd Armada (The Fandom Post)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Assassination Classroom (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Matt Wilson on Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga (Comics Alliance)
Sarah on vol. 62 of Bleach (nagareboshi reviews)
Kate O’Neil on vol. 52 of Case Closed (The Fandom Post)
Megan R. on Hatsune Miku: Unofficial Hatsune Mix (The Manga Test Drive)
Allen Kesinger on vols. 1-4 of Judge (No Flying No Tights)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 4 of Millennium Snow (Comic Book Bin)
Lori Henderson on vols. 15-21 of Pokemon Adventures: Ruby & Sapphire (Good Comics for Kids)
Matthew Warner on vol. 3 of Puella Magica Madoka Magi: The Different Story (The Fandom Post)
Scott Cederlund on vol. 13 of Real (Panel Patter)
Mad Manga on chapters 1-26 of Salty Studio (Cartoon Geek Corner)
Ken H. on vols. 3-4 of Say I Love You (Sequential Ink)
Megan R. on The Seven Deadly Sins (The Manga Test Drive)
Mad Manga on chapters 2-3 of Takujo no Ageta (Cartoon Geek Corner)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 8 of Voice Over! Seiyu Academy (Lesley’s Musings on Anime & Manga)

Bookmarked: Satoshi Kon-a-thon

It’s not every day that an American publisher releases a manga by the late, great Satoshi Kon, so Brigid and I decided to mark the occasion with a roundtable discussion. Joining us is David Brothers, one our favorite comics journalists. David has written for Comics Alliance, Pop Culture Shock, Publisher’s Weekly, Wired, and The Atlantic Monthly, and currently works in the comics industry.

On our plate: Tropic of the Sea, which was published by Vertical Comics in 2013, and OPUS, which arrives in comic book stores today courtesy of Dark Horse. Both works date to an early stage of Satoshi Kon’s career, but explore themes present in such films as Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, and Paprika–most notably the boundary between reality and imagination.

KATE: Let’s start the conversation with a basic question: which did you enjoy more, OPUS or Tropic of the Sea, and why?

OpusDAVID: I definitely liked OPUS a lot more than Tropic of the Sea, I think owing to the fact that while both are stories in well-worn genres, OPUS is way more up my alley in general, since it was at least partly about storytelling as a creator. Tropic of the Sea felt fairly pat, with precious few surprises all the way down to the last panel. OPUS follows the blueprint of other stories in its genre, but it’s also funnier and warmer somehow, I suppose because it’s about the nature of free will and humanity, and to tackle those points you kinda have to have characters that are entertaining to watch.

I actually read these books back-to-back the first time I read both, Tropic of the Sea and then OPUS, with a break for cooking and dinner in-between. OPUS did a great job of sparking my imagination. I think it’s cool that the story works as both how we read it, as the story of a creator in his creation, and also a crazy deus ex machina ending for the manga Resonance. Tropic of the Sea sorta is what it is, which is a well-executed story to be sure, but OPUS goes places I really enjoy.

I’m focusing on OPUS, but I didn’t dislike Tropic of the Sea. It’s good, but it’s just not quite my bag. How was it for you two?

BRIGID: Wow, I’m actually feeling the opposite: I really liked Tropic of the Sea because I thought that it was very well done, even if the story had been done before. I’m finding OPUS much harder to follow, though. Maybe I’m just not good with action stories, but it seems like things are constantly exploding and flying apart without any visible cause. And right at the end of chapter 1 there’s this weird non-sequitur where Satoko’s leg is trapped under a stone column and then, without anything changing in the panel that I could see, she just pushed it off and jumped up. On the one hand, this manga has a pretty sophisticated sense of space, but on the other hand, I’m having a lot of trouble following the motion of people and things within that space, and in particular, why things are blowing up. As I write this, I haven’t finished the manga, so maybe there’s a resolution or explanation I’m not seeing yet, but right now it’s pulling me out of the story to have to stop and figure out what just happened. It’s weird, too, because you would expect an animator to be tighter about that kind of thing.

tropic-of-the-sea-cover
KATE: My experience tracks with yours, David: I liked OPUS more than Tropic of the Sea. I found the premise of Tropic of the Sea a little too familiar, in large part because the characters were all such obvious types–the skeptic, the unscrupulous developer, the wise old-timer–that none registered as individuals. The story’s length was also a contributing factor, as Kon didn’t have enough space to flesh out the cast beyond their specific plot functions. It’s a shame that the script wasn’t better, as the illustrations create a palpable sense of place.

As for OPUS, it irresistibly reminded me of the a-ha video for “Take on Me” and the Will Farrell/Emma Thompson flick Stranger Than Fiction, with a pinch of AKIRA for seasoning. I normally find these kind of meta-exercises tedious, but Kon infuses the story with a sense of playful urgency that thwarts the urge to deconstruct every page. (For me, at least; your mileage may vary.)

DAVID: Oh, I’m definitely knee-deep in that urge to deconstruct. Resonance feels like the anime and manga that was around when I was getting into this stuff, something halfway between Ryoichi Ikegami’s ’80s realism and Masamune Shirow’s willingness to blend weird tangents into his hard sci-fi worldbuilding. The haircuts, the fashion, the motivations, the poorly thought-out backstories, and somehow even the fourth wall breaking action are all my bag. Which I think is a big part of why I share the constant feeling of Things Are Happening All Over with you, Brigid, but have a different response to it. The story-in-the-story is something I know well and have read often (the cop mentor, the thug friend, the weird way the heroine keeps getting rescued instead of rescuing!), so I buy into that, and through that the rest of the story, maybe a little harder than others would. This feels a lot like a lost chapter of a comic I never read as a kid, from late enough in the story that doing a daring metafictional “let’s talk about comics stories by way of being in a comics story!” tale was not just feasible, but something you could dedicate 300+ pages to.

KATE: I agree with Brigid that the draftsmanship in Tropic of the Sea is crisper–in fact, I think that’s part of the reason that I’m so focused on the creakier aspects of the story. The illustrations are almost… well, “invisible” isn’t quite the right word, but they don’t call attention to themselves in the same way that the illustrations in OPUS do. I don’t always respond well to flashy artwork, but I found OPUS engaging enough that I didn’t linger on the busier images.

As for the story, I’m with you, David: OPUS is a fun throwback to the kind of manga that Dark Horse and VIZ were publishing in the 1990s, right before the Sailor Moon/InuYasha revolution. OPUS isn’t as gonzo as some of the Koike/Ikegami manga from that era, but it still has that same breathless, hyperbolic quality. I’m kind of surprised that I liked it better than Tropic of the Sea, actually, as Tropic seems like it would be more in my wheelhouse. But I thought the script was too on-the-nose–a little ambiguity would have made the ending more satisfying, and more in keeping with Kon’s mature work. (An aside: I wondered what Rumiko Takahashi could have done with the premise of Tropic of the Sea… sigh.)

Switching gears, how did you react to the ending? Was Dark Horse right to include Kon’s unfinished sketches, or should the manga have been left incomplete?

DAVID: I came into OPUS cold, not even knowing it was unfinished, so I was both surprised, disappointed, and glad to see them. Surprised at the lack of an ending, disappointed at the same, but glad there was some kind of resolution, even if it’s just a metafictional one. For a story about stories to end with “Welp, and I guess I just didn’t finish this one, but I might one day!” is the kind of serendipity you can’t plan for, but is sometimes thematically correct for the work. It worked here, and I especially liked to see the pages Kon did with no faces. I thought that was a cool and creepy touch, and when combined with the rest of the backmatter, it made for a satisfying, though not all the way satisfying, ending.