About Katherine Dacey

Kate Dacey has been writing about comics since 2006. From 2007 to 2008, she was the Senior Manga Editor at PopCultureShock, a site covering all aspects of the entertainment industry from comics to video games. In 2009, she launched The Manga Critic, where she reviewed Japanese comics and novels until 2012. Kate’s resume also includes serving as a panelist at ALA, New York Comic-Con, and Wondercon; penning reviews for the School Library Journal’s Good Comics for Kids blog; and writing the introductory chapter of CBDLF Presents Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices, which Dark Horse published in 2013. Kate works in Boston, MA as a musicologist, and currently contributes to MangaBlog.

Seven Seas to Publish Franken Fran

A10967-5This just in: Seven Seas announced that it will be publishing Franken Fran in February 2016. Part Black Jack, part Reiko the Zombie Shop, Katsuhisa Kigitsu’s macabre comedy (macamedy?) focuses on Fran, a scientist with a knack for creating grotesque creatures in the lab. Seven Seas will be issuing the story in a four-volume omnibus format.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, a new big-screen adaptation of Death Note is in the works with director Adam Wingard (The Guest, You’re Next) at the helm. That sound you’re hearing? It’s the anguished cries of Light Yagami fans protesting the Americanization of yet another beloved manga franchise.

Vertical Comics has a new Twitter feed: @vertical_comics. Follow them for the latest licensing and reprint news, as well as sneak peeks at new releases.

Jonesing for a ninja fix? VIZ has you covered with Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring which debuted on Monday in the digital edition of Weekly Shonen Jump.

Over at the B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, Brigid Alverson delves into the history of Ultraman.

Backers of DMP’s most recent Kickstarter campaign will be happy to learn that both Clockwork Apple and Brave Dan are now slated for publication. Next up is a reprint edition of Tezuka’s dark fable Barbara.

This year’s Eisner nominations were announced on April 23rd, and manga made a good showing. In the Best US Edition of International Material–Asia category, VIZ nabbed nominations for Master Keaton, One-Punch Man, and All You Need Is Kill, while Fantagraphics’ Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It, got a nod for Best Anthology. The winners will be revealed on July 10th.

News from Japan: Akira Toriyama has teamed up with Kazuhiko Toriyama to produce a new series for Shueisha’s Young Jump. And speaking of manga magazines, Japan’s most popular titles–including Weekly Shonen Jump and Weekly Shonen Magazine–have seen a 10% decline in circulation over the last twelve months.

Reviews: Jason Thompson reviews Kakukaku Shikajika, an autobiographical manga by the creator of Princess Jellyfish, while the Manga Bookshelf gang tackle the latest volumes of Genshinken: Second Season and Magi. Over at Brain vs. Book, Jocelyn Allen flips through the December issue of Bijutsu Techo.

Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of 12 Beast (Anime News Network)
Ken H. on vol. 3 of All-Purpose Chemistry Club (Sequential Ink)
Ken H. on vol. 15 of Attack on Titan (Sequential Ink)
Katie Skelley and Mike Dawson on The Book of Human Insects (The Comics Journal)
Allen Kesinger on vols. 1-2 of Girls und Panzer (No Flying No Tights)
Erica Friedman on vol. 5 of Golondrina (Okazu)
L.B. Bryant on Gyo: 2-in-1 Deluxe Edition (ICv2)
Thomas Maluck on Jaco the Galactic Patrolman (No Flying No Tights)
Rebecca Silverman on The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Anime News Network)
Megan R. on Monkey High! (The Manga Test Drive)
Lori Henderson on vol. 1 of Orange Junk (Manga Xanadu)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 10 of Voice Over: Seiyu Academy (Comic Book Bin)
Joseph Luster on vol. 5 of World Trigger (Otaku USA)

Vinland Saga Is Back; Licensing News Galore

cat_diaryIf you’ve been anxiously waiting to learn the fate of Vinland Saga, we have good news for you: Kodansha confirmed that the critically lauded series would be returning from hiatus in September. Kodansha also unveiled an interesting line-up of new titles that includes Devil Survivor and Ninja Slayer Kills. TCJ regular Joe McCulloch explains why Kodansha’s decision to license Cat Diary: Yon & Mu is especially awesome. (Hint: the man on the cover is Junji Ito.)

Last week, Yen Press made news at Sakura-Con with five new manga acquisitions: Sakura no Himegoto, Dragon’s Rioting, Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun, Yowamushi Pedal, and Aldnoah Zero Season One. Yen also revealed that it would be offering digital editions of eight Square Enix titles that have never been released in English.

VIZ has been quietly adding more Tokyopop titles to its digital line-up. New this month are Red Hot Chili Samurai and Grenadier, both of which will be available on April 21st. VIZ also announced a new print acquisition, Noriyuki Konishi’s Yokai Watch, a kid-friendly series that’s currently running in Coro Coro.

GyoBrigid rounded up some new April manga releases at the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi/Fantasy blog; they include the last volume of Blade of the Immortal, the first volume of Your Lie in April, and a nice new one-volume edition of Junji Ito’s Gyo.

And speaking of new releases, the Manga Bookshelf gang looks at next week’s arrivals, from Kuroneko to My Neighbor Seki.

Another week, another Kickstarter campaign: DMP began fundraising for a print edition of Osamu Tezuka’s Clockwork Apple, a collection of horror, fantasy, and sci-fi stories.

In his latest House of 1000 Manga column, Jason Thompson sings the praises of Kazuhiko Shimamoto, author of the untranslated Blazing Transfer Student.

Justin Stroman interviews Dark Horse editor Brendan Wright about the forthcoming edition of Planetes, and Yen Press editor Abigail Blackman about the challenges of lettering, translating, and editing manga.

Are US publishers licensing less shojo manga? Johanna Draper Carlson investigates.

YaoiCon will be hosting prolific manga-ka Makoto Takeno, author of Yellow, Happy Boys, Blue Sheep Reverie, and A Murmur of the Heart.

The Nepali Times reports that young adults in Kathmandu are discovering manga, thanks to entrepreneurs such as Wataru Ram Shrestha, proprietor of Nepal’s first manga bookstore, and Shalini Rana, Kavin Shah, and Krishant Rana, founders of Nepal’s first manga magazine.

News from Japan: The latest volume of One Piece, volume 77, has a print run of fewer than 4 million copies for the first time in four years. Publisher Shueisha attributes the drop to the increased popularity of digital manga. Kodansha has announced the nominees for the 39th Annual Kodansha Awards; they include Knights of Sidonia, The 7 Deadly Sins, and Kiss Him, Not Me. Japanese newspaper The Christ Weekly is using manga to educate readers about Christian fundamentals.

If you ever thought Death Note would be improved with a few song-and-dance numbers, you’ll be happy to learn that a musical version of Tsugumi Oba and Takeshi Obata’s perennially popular manga debuted in Tokyo on April 6th.

Reviews: Ash Brown posts a thoughtful review of Your Lie in April, a new drama from Kodansha Comics, while Sean Gaffney gives us the low-down on another eagerly anticipated title, Yamada-Kun and the Seven Witches. The Manga Bookshelf gang offers a concise round-up of the latest volumes of Assassination Classroom, Dengeki Daisy, and UQ Holder!

Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 5 of Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma (Comic Book Bin)
Kristin on vols. 4 and 5 of Gangsta (Comic Attack)
Lori Henderson on The Garden of Words (Manga Xanadu)
Jocelyn Allen on Henshin (Brain vs. Book)
Erica Friedman on vol. 5 of Himawari-san (Okazu)
Erica Friedman on vol. 2 of Kampfer (Okazu)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Let’s Dance a Waltz (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 13 of Library Wars: Love & War (Comic Book Bin)
Alice Vernon on vol. 1 of Love at Fourteen (Girls Like Comics)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 3 of Manga Dogs (Comics Worth Reading)
Ash Brown on vol. 1 of Maria the Virgin Witch (Experiments in Manga)
Sheena McNeil on vol. 18 of Oresama Teacher (Sequential Tart)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of Requiem of the Rose King (ANN)
Wolfen Moondaughter on vol. 17 of Rin-ne (Sequential Tart)
Megan R. on School Rumble (The Manga Test Drive)
Nick Smith on Seraphim: 266613336 Wings (ICv2)
Sarah on vol. 24 of Soul Eater (Nagareboshi Reviews)
Karen Maeda on vol. 5 of Terra Formars (Sequential Tart)
Tony Yao on Time Killers (Manga Therapy)
Khursten Santos on Yatamono (Otaku Champloo)
Anna N. on vol. 2 of Yukarism (Manga Report)

Dark Horse Rescues Planetes

planetesGood news for sci-fi fans: Dark Horse announced that it will be reissuing Makoto Yukimura’s award-winning series Planetes, which was originally published by Tokyopop ten years ago. Look for an omnibus in stores on December 23rd.

Over at Robot 6, Brigid Alverson interviews Blade of the Immortal editor Philip Simon about the final volume of this long-running series, which Dark Horse licensed in 1996.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, VIZ announced that it would be releasing a new edition of Junji Ito’s Gyo on April 21st. VIZ also revealed that it will be adding Yuki Tabata’s Black Clover to the digital edition of Weekly Shonen Jump.

Erica Friedman shares all the yuri news that’s fit to print.

The Manga Bookshelf gang discuss this week’s best new manga.

Brigid’s latest contribution to the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi blog examines Western pop culture through the lens of manga.

News from Japan: Already in Naruto withdrawal? Fear not: Shonen Jump just announced a new Naruto Gaiden story, “The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring Month,” which will debut in the April 27th issue. After a nine-month hiatus, Kanata Konami will resume work on Chi’s Sweet Home. Yoiko Hoshi’s Aisawa Riku was awarded the Grand Prize by the 19th Annual Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize committee.

Reviews: Sean Gaffney and Michelle Smith post brief reviews of Love at Fourteen, Sankarea, and other recent releases.

Joseph Luster on vol. 3 of Ajin: Demi-Human (Otaku USA)
Sakura Eries on vol. 2 of Barakamon (The Fandom Post)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 4 of Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma (Manga Worth Reading)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 5 of Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma (Anime News Network)
Matthew Warner on vol. 9 of Happy Marriage?! (The Fandom Post)
Sakura Eries on vol. 2 of Kiss of the Rose Princess (The Fandom Post)
Megan R. on Kyo Kara Maoh! (The Manga Test Drive)
Ash Brown on Lêttera (Experiments in Manga)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of Log Horizon (Anime News Network)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 2 of Meteor Prince (Manga Worth Reading)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 1 of My Neighbor Seki (Manga Worth Reading)
Thomas Maluck on vol. 1 of My Neighbor Seki (No Flying No Tights)
AJ Adejare on vol. 47 of Oh! My Goddess (The Fandom Post)
Andrew Shuping on Princess Mononoke: The First Story and The Art of Princess Mononoke (No Flying No Tights)
Ken H. on vol. 3 of Prophecy (Sequential Ink)
Erica Friedman on vol. 1 of Puella Magi Tart Magica: The Legend of Jeanne d’Arc (Okazu)
Ash Brown on vol. 1 of Requiem of the Rose King (Experiments in Manga)
Kate O’Neil on vol. 1 of Requiem of the Rose King (The Fandom Post)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 25 of Soul Eater (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Katherine Dacey on vol. 1 of Tokyo Ghoul (MangaBlog)
Matthew Warner on vol. 26 of Toriko (The Fandom Post)
Helen on Yamada-Kun and the Seven Witches (Organization Anti-Social Geniuses)

Review: Tokyo Ghoul, Vol. 1

tokyo_ghoul_viz_coverTokyo Ghoul, Vol. 1
By Sui Ishida
Rated T+, for Older Teens
VIZ Media, $8.99 (digital edition)

Tokyo Ghoul opens with Ken Kaneki, a mild-mannered college student, impulsively deciding to go on a date with a beautiful stranger. As Kaneki soon discovers, however, Rize isn’t even a person–she’s a ghoul, a violent predator who feeds on human corpses. A freak accident spares Kaneki from becoming Rize’s next meal, but he has a new problem: the ER doc who saved his life used a few of Rize’s organs to do so. Within days, Kaneki begins craving flesh, too, forcing him to decide whether he’ll succumb to his ghoulish impulses or cling to his humanity.

Tokyo Ghoul‘s first chapter is the strongest, thanks in part to manga-ka Sui Ishida’s crack pacing. In less capable hands, the introduction might have been a tedious information dump; Ishida, however, is sparing with details, allowing us to learn about ghouls through the unfolding of the story. Ishida also demonstrates considerable skill in creating suspense, artfully manipulating light and shadow to amplify the contrast between well-lit, “safe” spaces such as the cafe where Kaneki likes to study, with the dark, remote areas where Rize likes to hunt–you’d be forgiven for screaming “Run away!” every time Rize steers Kaneki toward a quiet, empty street.

What should have been chapter one’s most dramatic moment, however, is executed clumsily. Ishida piles on the speed lines and close-ups, but it’s almost impossible to determine what Rize looks like in her true form: an angel with charred wings? a spider? a four-legged octopus? Compounding the confusion is the lack of background detail, a shortcoming that becomes painfully obvious near the end of the scene, when a pile of I-beams falls on Rize and Kaneki. The artwork never hints at this potential outcome, cheating the reader of the opportunity to guess what happens next–Ishida seems to be making it up as he goes along, rather than deliberately preparing an important plot twist.

Kaneki’s transformation is handled in a similarly pedestrian fashion. We see Kaneki sweat, cry, scream, and vomit like Linda Blair, but his moral crisis is painted in such broad strokes that it’s hard to feel genuine sympathy for him. When Kaneki faces a terrible choice–eat his friend or starve–Ishida resorts to a deus ex-machina to save his hero from the indignity of snacking on someone he knows. Although this plot twist makes Kaneki seem more human, it blunts the true horror of his dilemma by making him too likable; our allegiance to the hero is never really tested.

Any pretense that Tokyo Ghoul might be a character study is shed in the the final pages of volume one, when Ishida introduces a secret ghoul organization. This plot development feels like the first step towards a more conventional battle manga pitting demons against humans. More disappointing still is that Ishida seems to think that splattering the reader with entrails is scarier than asking, What really makes us human? Kaneki’s liminal status between the human and demon worlds makes him a natural vehicle for exploring this question, but Ishida shies away from the tough ethical or moral issues posed by Kaneki’s new dietary needs. The resulting story reads like a low-cal version of Parasyte, stripped of the complexities and conflict that made Hitoshi Iwaaki’s body-snatching manga so compelling.

Volume one of Tokyo Ghoul is available in ebook form now; the first print volume will be released in June.

The Shojo Beat Goes On… With New Licenses

Before we get to this week’s news round-up, we have news of our own: Manga Blog turns ten this month! Brigid has some anniversary features in the works, so stay tuned and help her celebrate a memorable decade of blogging. Now for the links…

Bloody-Mary

Shojo lovers rejoice: VIZ has just licensed Akaza Samamiya’s vampire drama Bloody Mary and Amu Meguro’s romantic comedy Honey So Sweet. The former drops in December 2015, the latter in January 2016. Also joining the VIZ line-up are several digital-only offerings: Calling You, Girls Bravo, Ratman, and Someday’s Dreamers: Spellbound. All four series debut this month, alongside the first volume of Tokyo Ghoul.

Seven Seas unveiled two new acquisitions this week, The Testament of Sister New Devil and My Monster Secret. Both series are scheduled for publication in early 2016.

That’s Life When You’re a Woman, a candid look at what it’s like to be a single, 31-year-old woman in Japan, is now available via the free Manga Box app.

Three manga crack the BookScan Graphic Novel Bestseller Chart for February 2015. Spoiler alert: one of them is Attack on Titan.

Akame ga KILL! tops this week’s New York Times Manga Best Seller list.

Kodansha Comics is looking for summer interns at their New York office.

Over at the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Brigid Alverson shines a spotlight on March’s most exciting new manga releases.

Jiraiya, whose work was featured in Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It, will be visiting Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York this month to meet with fans.

TCJ columnist Joe McCulloch pays tribute to Golgo 13 creator Taiko Saito, one of the last “living connections to the early gekiga generation of Japanese comics.”

Deb Aoki reports from Tokyo on the symposium following the Manga Translation Battle Awards; she breaks it down into a couple of topics, then sums up the discussion of each one (localization, manga sales in Japan vs. the U.S., what makes a good translation) in a series of Tweets and responses from translators and others. Deb also compiles an excellent Storify post on Mahou Shounen Breakfast Club, a webcomic that, as Heidi MacDonald explains, triggered a fierce debate about authenticity, appropriation, and the “white gaze.”

News from Japan: Shiro Amano is bringing Kingdom Hearts II to an end with the 10th volume. Monthly Newstype will be publishing manga adaptations of two Project Itoh novels: Harmony and the impossible smutty-sounding Genocidal Organ. Both novels have translated and published in English by VIZ’s Haikasoru imprint.

Reviews: Shaenon Garrity dedicates this week’s House of 1000 Manga column to one of my favorite manga, the weirdly wonderful Apocalypse Meow. Manjorin and her fellow Anti-Social Geniuses discuss what they read last month, while the Manga Bookshelf team posts brief reviews of Cage of Eden, Magi, and One Piece.

Megan R. on The All-New Tenchi Muyo! (The Manga Test Drive)
Ken H. on vol. 3 of Attack on Titan: Before the Fall (Sequential Ink)
Lori Hendrson on vol. 2 on Attack on Titan: No Regrets (Manga Xanadu)
Wolfen Moondaughter on vol. 3 of Black Rose Alice (Sequential Tart)
Wolfen Moondaughter on vol. 10 of Happy Marriage?! (Sequential Tart)
Ash Brown on vol. 1 of Hide and Seek (Experiments in Manga)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Anna N. on vol. 1 of Meteor Prince (Manga Report)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 8 of Nisekoi: False Love (Comic Book Bin)
Ash Brown on Oishinbo A la Carte: Vegetables (Experiments in Manga)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 2 of Prophecy (Manga Worth Reading)
Sean Gaffney on vols. 13-14 of Ranma 1/2 (A Case Suitable for Treatment)

The Newcomer’s Guide to Attack on Titan

Just discovered Attack on Titan? Wondering what all the fuss is about? Brigid Alverson has you covered with an in-depth article discussing the characters, settings, and numerous spin-off products inspired by this world-wide phenomenon.

ICv2 lists the ten best-selling manga properties of the fall 2014/holiday season. Not surprisingly, Attack on Titan tops the list. What is surprising: the continued popularity of Death Note, which finished its North American print run in 2007.

DMP successfully raised the money to publish Osamu Tezuka’s 1970 thriller Alabaster. Backers can expect to receive both volumes in September 2015.

The forecast for next week’s new manga releases: light rain, with scattered omnibuses and final volumes from Dark Horse and VIZ.

Casey Baseel lists the ten most common shojo manga scenarios.

Kristina Pinto interviews VIZ editor Hope Donovan about licensing, lettering, and translating manga.

Paste Magazine explores the history of Fantagraphics’ manga imprint, from Sake Jock to Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It.

YALSA just released its 2015 list of Great Graphic Novels for Teens. Manga makes a good showing on this year’s list, with titles as varied as All You Need Is Kill and My Little Monster getting a nod from librarians.

News from Japan: When Rakuyo Technical High School and Fushimi Technical High School decided to merge, they hired manga artist Zakuri Sato (Taihen Yoku Dekimashita) to design the new uniforms.

Reviews: Jason Thompson dedicates this week’s House of 1000 Manga to Aya Kanno’s Otomen.  Over at Heart of Manga, Laura posts brief reviews of ongoing series in Japan, from Yayoi Ogawa’s Ginban Kishi to Touko Minami’s ReRe Hello.

Ash Brown on vol. 2 of Ajin: Demi-Human (Experiments in Manga)
Ken H. on vols. 7-8 of Brave 10 (Sequential Ink)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 53 of Case Closed (Comic Book Bin)
Megan R. on Happy Mania (The Manga Test Drive)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 10 of Happy Marriage?! (ANN)
Matthew Alexander on vol. 11 of Knights of Sidonia (The Fandom Post)
Charles Solomon on Jaco the Galactic Patrolman (Indie Wire)
Allen Kesinger on vols. 1-2 of Monster Musume (No Flying No Tights)
Sakura Eries on vol. 6 of My Little Monster (The Fandom Post)
Lori Henderson on vol. 1 of Prophecy (Manga Xanadu)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Requiem of the Rose King (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
A Library Girl on Vampire Academy (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Erica Friedman on World Canvas (Okazu)
Sheena McNeill on vol. 4 of World Trigger (Sequential Tart)