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.

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 the mild-mannered Ken Kaneki impulsively deciding to go on a date with a beautiful stranger. As Kaneki soon discovers, 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.

The 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 dreary information dump; Ishida, however, is sparing with details, allowing us to learn about ghouls through the natural unfolding of the story. Ishida also demonstrates considerable skill in creating suspense. Throughout the first chapter, he artfully manipulates 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. The individual panels lack the detail that would convey a sense of where the action is unfolding–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, leaving me to wonder if that’s how the scene originally ended.

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 pausing to ask the question, What really makes us human? Kaneki’s liminal status between the human and demon worlds makes him a natural vehicle for exploring this dilemma, 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)

 

VIZ Acquires Ultraman and My Hero Academia

Ultraman_2011Big news from VIZ: the publisher has licensed Ultraman, a manga update of the 1960s TV show. Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi’s story focuses on the original hero’s son, a seemingly ordinary teen who discovers that he’s inherited his father’s superpowers. Look for the first volume of Ultraman in August alongside the first volume of VIZ’s other new acquisition, My Hero Academia.

What’s arriving at your LCS next week? The Manga Bookshelf bloggers discuss their picks and pans.

Should the lead character in Ghost in the Shell by portrayed by an Asian American actress? That’s the issue raised in an open letter to DreamWorks, which asks the studio to reconsider casting Scarlett Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi in an upcoming film adaptation.

Helen (a.k.a. Wandering Dreamer) raves about the big screen version of Thermae Romae.

Jocelyn Allen, author of Brain vs. Book, samples the latest doujinshi offerings from Japan.

Over at Contemporary Japanese Literature, scholar Kathryn Hemmann deconstructs the Vampire Knight franchise, using Vampire Knight: Fleeting Dreams as her point of entry.

News from Japan: The Mori Arts Center Gallery in Tokyo will be sponsoring an exhibit of Naruto artwork and objects from April 25th to June 28th. One person who won’t be attending that show is Haruki Murakami, who recently told readers that he no longer has time to read manga or watch anime.

Artist Shun Matsuena has chosen an unusual platform for launching his new martial-arts manga: the walls of Tokyo’s Kichijouji Station. The non-profit organization NPO Lighthouse will be distributing copies of Blue Heart, a free manga that discusses sexual violence prevention for teens.

Reviews: Sean Gaffney finds Nurse Hitomi’s Monster Infirmary better than expected, while Rebecca Silverman argues that the first volume of Akame ga KILL! doesn’t live up to its full potential.

Kate O’Neil on vol. 1 of Demon from Afar (The Fandom Post)
Shaenon Garrity on Helter Skelter and Pink (ANN)
Kate O’Neil on vol. 2 of Heroic Legend of Arslan (The Fandom Post)
Justin Stroman on Jaco the Galactic Patrolman (Organization Anti-Social Geniuses)
Megan R. on Junjo Romantica (The Manga Test Drive)
Ken H. on vol. 2 of Kotoura-San (Sequential Ink)
Rebecca Silverman in vol. 1 of Meteor Prince (ANN)
Matthew Warner on vol. 1 of My Neighbor Seki (The Fandom Post)
Justin Stroman on Phantom Street (Organization Anti-Social Geniuses)
Sheena McNeill on vol. 6 of Pokemon Adventures: Black & White (Sequential Tart)
Sheena McNeill on vol. 26 of Pokemon Adventures: Emerald (Sequential Tart)
Sheena McNeill on vol. 1 of Pokemon XY (Sequential Tart)
Helen on Seraphim 266613336 Wings (Organization Anti-Social Geniuses)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 3 of Spell of Desire (Comic Book Bin)
Lori Henderson on vols. 1-6 of Spice and Wolf (Manga Xanadu)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 26 of Toriko (Comic Book Bin)
Thomas Maluck on Unico (No Flying No Tights)
Erica Friedman on Comic Yuri Hime January 2015 (Okazu)

Manga Over Flowers

BoysOverFlowers2_colorTwelve years after completing Boys Over Flowers, manga-ka Yoko Kamio is hard at work on a sequel, Sunshine After Flowers: Flower Boys Next Season. The new series will be released simultaneously in English and Japanese via the web; Heart of Manga has more details. Look for the first chapter on February 15th.

The latest installments of Assassination Classroom and Food Wars! top this week’s New York Times Manga Best Sellers chart, while the first volume of Attack on Titan makes its 84th appearance on the list.

Thanks to a new partnership with ComiXology, over 60 VIZ series are now available through the popular digital comics platform.

DMP has successfully funded the reprint of two yaoi titles—Finder and A Foreign Affair—through Kickstarter.

Justin Sevakis takes a trip down memory lane to recall a job interview for the now-defunct Central Park Media.

Over at Organization Anti-Social Geniuses, Justin Stroman catalogs the ten weirdest moment in Majiko’s Mikansei No. 1. Guest blogger Laura M. (Heart of Manga) offers her 2015 shojo manga forecast.

What’s new in bookstores next week? The Manga Bookshelf gang has the lowdown on everything from Nurse Hitomi’s Monster Infirmary to Cage of Eden.

Reviews: Ash Brown jumps in the WABAC machine for a look at Setona Mizushiro’s Afterschool Nightmare.

Joseph Luster on vol. 2 of Ajin: Demi-Human (Otaku USA)
Ken H. on vol. 7 of From the New World (Sequential Ink)
Erica Friedman on vol. 2 of Hakugin Gymnasium (Okazu)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 25 of Hayate the Combat Butler (Lesley’s Musings on Anime and Manga)
Joseph Luster on Jaco the Galatic Patrolman (Otaku USA)
Shaenon Garrity on Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It (Otaku USA)
Joseph Luster on vol. 1 of Master Keaton (Otaku USA)
Jason Thompson on vol. 1 of Master Keaton (ANN)
Lori Henderson on vols. 1-3 of Mobile Suit Gundham: The Origin (Good Comics for Kids)
Kathryn Hemmann on Nickelodeon (Contemporary Japanese Literature)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 1 of Pokemon XY (Lesley’s Musings on Anime and Manga)
Jessikah Chautin on vols. 1-2 of Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Different Story (No Flying No Tights)

New Shojo Beat Titles Announced

qqsweeperVIZ announced two new acquisitions: Kyousuke Motomi’s QQ Sweeper, and Arina Tanemura’s Idol Dreams. Both manga will be published under the Shojo Beat imprint, and will debut in fall 2015.

Speaking of new licenses, Crunchyroll just added Persona Q Shadow of the Labyrinth: Side P4 to its manga line-up.

Never underestimate a ninja’s powers: volume 68 of Naruto ranked fifth on the Nielsen BookScan Graphic Novel Chart for January 2015. Other manga making the top 20 included the first volume of Attack on Titan and the omnibus of All You Need Is Kill.

Johanna Draper Carlson breaks down the numbers for DMP’s latest Kickstarter campaigns.

Erica Friedman compiles the latest yuri news from around the web.

Over at Nagareboshi Reviews, Sarah compares Soul Eater with its prequel Soul Eater NOT!

Ash Brown catalogs his January manga acquisitions, then posts some brief reviews.

Manga expert Helen McCarthy offers a sneak peak at her latest publication, How to Draw Manga Made Easy, due out in April.

Don’t click on an empty stomach! Ed Chavez shares some mouth-watering photos from the official What Did You Eat Yesterday? blog. Also at the Vertical Tumblr: a candid Q&A session about licenses, sales, and beer pairings (!) for shonen, josei, gekiga, and cat mangaClick here for part one; click here for part two.

What’s it like to work for Crunchyroll? Justin Stroman interviews software engineer Evan Minto about his transition from manga blogger to industry insider.

Police in Burrell, PA are investigating a fifth grade student for posting a Death Note-inspired message inside Stewart Elementary School last week. Local media outlet WPXI reports that the school has notified the parents of the six boys listed on the so-called “death note,” and is taking additional measures to address the situation. According to Anime News Network, this incident marks the seventh time that an American student has faced disciplinary action for imitating the hero’s actions in Death Note.

News from Japan: Katsumasa Enokiya’s Hibi Rock and Satol Yuige’s Ku – Neuntöte Vampire are wrapping in February and April, respectively. The final chapter of You Higuri’s Gakuen Heaven: Double Scramble will appear in the March 7th issue of Monthly Magazine BExBOY.

To mark the release of the first volume of Tsubasa: World Chronicle, CLAMP has penned a bonus chapter for the February 17th edition of Shonen Magazine.

Shojo manga-ka Io Sakisaka is having a busy year: in addition to writing an epilogue for the now-completed Strobe Edge, she’s also at work on a new series for Bessatsu Margaret. Look for the first chapter in the July issue.

Kazuma Kamaichi’s popular Heavy Object novels are getting the manga treatment again; look for Heavy Object A (Ace) in the February 27th issue of Dengeki Maoh. Million Doll, a manga about an idol otaku, is being adapted for television by Asahi Production for a July premiere.

Reviews: Put on your scuba gear—Shaenon Garrity devotes the latest House of 1000 Manga column to Daisuke Igarashi’s atmospheric Children of the Sea. Over at Okazu, Erica Friedman reviews Whispered Words, an all-too-rare example of yuri in English.

Sheena McNeil on vol. 13 of 07-Ghost (Sequential Tart)
Nic Wilcox on vols. 1-2 of Alice in the Country of Hearts: The Mad Hatter’s Late-Night Tea Party (No Flying No Tights)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 7 of Deadman Wonderland (Comic Book Bin)
Alice Vernon on vol. 1 of Dorohedoro (Girls Like Comics)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 4 of Food Wars! (Comic Book Bin)
Nick Creamer on vol. 2 of Genshinken: Second Season (ANN)
Erica Friedman on vol. 1 of Hakugin no Gymnasium (Okazu)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 10 of Happy Marriage?! (Comic Book Bin)
A Library Girl on The History of the West Wing (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Kory Cerjak on vol. 1 of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Phantom Blood: Part One (The Fandom Post)
Sheena McNeil on vol. 16 of Kamisama Kiss (Sequential Tart)
ebooksgirl on vol. 1 of My Neighbor Seki (Geek Lit Etc.)
Sheena McNeil on vol. 6 of Nisekoi: False Love (Sequential Tart)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 9 of No. 6 (ANN)
Matthew Warner on vol. 73 of One Piece (The Fandom Post)
Kayleigh Hearn on Sakuran (Deadshirt)
Josh Begley on vol. 5 of Vinland Saga (The Fandom Post)
Julia Smith on vol. 1 of Witchcraft Works (The Fandom Post)