One Piece Breaks a Record

One Piece 1One Piece makes the Guinness Book of World Records, setting the record for the most copies printed of a single title by a single author—the number of copies of the different volumes of One Piece stands at over 320 million. In a written statement, manga-ka Eiichiro Oda said, “Manga is an amusing way to pass time, but when I receive reports that say ‘through One Piece I made friends,’ or ‘through One Piece I found my sweetheart,’ I am really happy. I feel like this record number has the possibility to bring the same number of people together. I will not forget my predecessors in the manga world, the colleagues whom I work with, and my readers, and from now on I want to continue to draw a work that will not shame this record.”

At Organization Anti-Social Geniuses, Justin talks to four manga designers about their work.

The latest volumes of Naruto, Assassination Classroom, and Fairy Tail top this week’s New York Times manga best-seller list.

Also, in case you’re wondering, the Naruto spinoff is only going to be one volume long.

Lori Henderson has a license request: Mythical Detective Loki, please!

Kadokawa is publishing a bilingual English-Japanese edition of Sherlock: Pink-iro no Kenkyū, which is based on the BBC’s Sherlock series featuring Benedict Cumberbatch.

News from Japan: Bloody Cross will come to an end next month.

Reviews: Jocelyne Allen writes about Tsukuroitatsu Hito, a manga about sewing, at Brain Vs Book. Ash Brown looks back at the week in manga at Experiments in Manga.

Matthew Warner on vol. 6 of Bloody Cross (The Fandom Post)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 10 of Black Lagoon (The Comic Book Bin)
Kate O’Neil on vol. 3 of The Heroic Legend of Arslan (The Fandom Post)
Kristin on vols. 2-4 of Kiss of the Rose Princess (Comic Attack)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 4 of My Love Story!! (The Comic Book Bin)
John Rose on vol. 4 of Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro (The Fandom Post)
Dave Ferraro on vol. 1 of Spell of Desire (Comics-and-More)
Matthew Warner on vol. 1 of Sword Art Online: Girls Ops (The Fandom Post)
Kristin on vol. 1 of Tokyo Ghoul (Comic Attack)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 37 of Vagabond (The Comic Book Bin)
Erica Friedman on Watashi no Kiraina Otomodachi: Fatal Lies (Okazu)

The Manga Revue: One-Punch Man

Here in the US, VIZ has been in the vanguard of digital manga initiatives. VIZ was among the first publishers to make its catalog available across a variety of platforms, allowing readers to enjoy Dragon Ball and Vampire Knight on their device of choice. VIZ has also been using its app and website to re-release older titles, both from its own catalog–hello again, Basara!–and from Tokyopop’s. More recently, VIZ has experimented with digital-first titles such as Tokyo Ghoul, releasing two or three volumes online before introducing a print edition. Today’s column focuses on another digital-first title, ONE and Yusuke Murata’s tokusatsu spoof One-Punch Man.

One-Punch ManOne-Punch Man, Vols. 1-2
Story by ONE, Art by Yusuke Murata
Rated T, for teens
VIZ Media, $6.99 (digital)

In a scene that would surely please Jack Kirby, One-Punch Man opens with a pow! splat! and boom!, as Saitama, the eponymous hero, goes mano-a-mano with the powerful Vaccine Man, a three-story menace with razor-sharp claws. Though Vaccine Man is formidable, he has a pronounced Achilles’ heel: chattiness. “I exist because of humankind’s constant pollution of the environment!” he tells Saitama. “The Earth is a single living organism! And you humans are the disease-causing germs killing it! The will of the earth gave birth to me so that I may destroy humanity and their insidious civilization!” Vaccine Man is so stunned that Saitama lacks an equally dramatic origin story that he lets down his guard, allowing Saitama to land a deadly right hook.

And so it goes with the other villains in One-Punch Man: Saitama’s unassuming appearance and matter-of-fact demeanor give him a strategic advantage over the preening scientists, cyborg gorillas, were-lions, and giant crabmen who terrorize City Z. Saitama’s sangfroid comes at a cost, however: the media never credit his alter ego with saving the day, instead attributing these victories to more improbable heroes such as Mumen Rider, a timid, helmet-wearing cyclist. Even the acquisition of a sidekick, Genos, does little to boost Saitama’s visibility in a city crawling with would-be heroes and monsters.

If it sounds as if One-Punch Man is shooting fish in a barrel, it is; supermen and shonen heroes, by definition, are a self-parodying lot. (See: capes, spandex, “Wind Scar.”) What inoculates One-Punch Man against snarky superiority is its ability to toe the line between straightforward action and affectionate spoof. It’s jokey and sincere, a combination that proves infectious.

Saitama is key to ONE’s strategy for bridging the action/satire divide: the character dutifully acknowledges tokusatsu cliches while refusing to capitulate to the ones he deems most ridiculous. (In one scene, Saitama counters an opponent’s “Lion Slash: Meteor Power Shower” attack with a burst of “Consecutive Normal Punches.”) ONE’s script is complemented by bold, polished artwork; even if the outcome of a battle is never in question, artist Yusuke Murata dreams up imaginative obstacles to prevent Saitama from defeating his opponents too quickly, or rehashing an earlier confrontation.

Is One-Punch Man worthy of its Eisner nomination? Based on what I’ve read so far, I’d say yes: it’s brisk, breezy, and executed with consummate skill. It may not be the “best” title in the bunch–I’d give the honor to Moyocco Anno’s In Clothes Called Fat–but it’s a lot more fun than either volume of Showa: A History of Japan… Scout’s honor.

The verdict:  Highly recommended. Binge-readers take note: seven digital volumes are now available. The first two print volumes arrive in stores in September.

Reviews: Are you crafty? If so, then Jocelyn Allen’s glowing appraisal of sewing manga Tsukuroitatsu Hito will be right in your wheelhouse. Here at Manga Bookshelf, Michelle Smith, Anna N. and Sean Gaffney post short reviews of new releases, from D. Frag! to Seraph of the End.

Nick Creamer on vol. 1 of The Ancient Magus’ Bride (ANN)
Allen Kesinger on vol. 1 of Big Hero 6 (No Flying No Tights)
Megan R. on Death Note (The Manga Test Drive)
Joe McCulloch on Dream Fossil (The Comics Journal)
Helen and Justin S. on Father and Son (Organization Anti-Social Geniuses)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 12 of Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic (Comic Book Bin)
Wolfen Moondaughter on vol. 12 of Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic (Sequential Tart)
Lori Henderson on vol. 3 of Manga Dogs (Manga Xanadu)
ebooksgirl on vol. 2 of My Neighbor Seki (Geek Lit Etc.)
Ash Brown on The Ring of Saturn (Experiments in Manga)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 5 of Seraph of the End (Comic Book Bin)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of So Cute It Hurts! (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Sheena McNeil on vol. 1 of So Cute It Hurts! (Sequential Tart)
Ian Wolf on vol. 1 of So Cute It Hurts! (Anime UK News)
Hillary Brown on Trash Market (Paste Magazine)
Shea Hennum on Trash Market (This Is Infamous)
Sheena McNeil on vol. 8 of Voice Over! Seiyu Academy (Sequential Tart)
Ash Brown on vol. 8 of Wandering Son (Experiments in Manga)
Ken H. on vol. 3 of Witchcraft Works (Sequential Ink)

The internet is a big place, and it’s easy to miss a good manga review! If you’d like to see your work featured in our weekly link round-up, leave a comment below.

One Punch Man Goes to Print; Avengers/Attack on Titan Crossover Now Available

Unlimited FafnirCrunchyroll is adding Unlimited Fafnir to its digital manga lineup.

Viz announced last week that they will publish a print edition of One Punch Man, and Zainab Akhtar explains why she’s pysched. this series is nominated for an Eisner Award, and as far as I can tell it’s the first digital-first manga to get the nomination.

The Manga Bookshelf team takes a look at this week’s new manga.

One Piece is taking a week off.

One volume or another (usually more than one volume, actually) of Attack on Titan has been on the New York Times manga best-seller list for 100 weeks now.

If you missed the Avengers/Attack on Titan crossover comic that came out on Free Comic Book Day, you can now download it for free.

Erica Friedman posts the latest Yuri Network News at Okazu.

Matthew Meylikhov counts down ten manga everyone should have on their shelves. Of course, the main purpose of a list like this, I always say, is to give people something to argue about, and the readers deliver in the comments.

Sean Kleefeld posts an interesting video about the history of manhwa and North Korean comics.

13th Dimension has an exclusive preview up of Batmanga #49.

News from Japan: ANN has a list of the biggest print runs from three of the biggest manga publishers in Japan. Tohru Fujisawa is taking a break from his latest GTO spinoff GTO: Paradise Lost, until this winter. The 13th volume of Five Star Stories will be out in July, the first volume in nine years.

Reviews

G.B. Smith on vol. 2 of The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan (The Fandom Post)
Ken H on Dream Fossil (Sequential Ink)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 14 of Itsuwaribito (The Comic Book Bin)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 21 of Kimi ni Todoke (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Steve Bennett on The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (ICv2)
Laura on vols. 1 and 2 of Love at Fourteen (Heart of Manga)
A Library Girl on Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Matthew Warner on vol. 6 of Say I Love You (The Fandom Post)
Julia Smith on vol. 2 of Spell of Desire (The Fandom Post)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 6 of Wolfsmund (ANN)

The Manga Revue: The Ancient Magus’ Bride and Evergreen

Are there publishers whose work you avoid? I’ll cop to feeling that way about Seven Seas, a company whose manga generally tilt too far towards the ecchi end of the spectrum for an old broad like me. In the last few months, however, the company has made some unexpected licensing announcements–The Ancient Magus’ Bride and Orange among them–that made me wonder if I’d unfairly dismissed their catalog. In an exploratory spirit, therefore, I’m dedicating this week’s column to two new Seven Seas titles: The Ancient Magus’ Bride and Evergreen.

magus1 The Ancient Magus’ Bride, Vol. 1
By Kore Yamazaki
Rated OT, for Older Teens
Seven Seas, $12.99

One part The Name of the Flower, one part Apothecarius Argentum, The Ancient Magus’ Bride freely commingles elements of romance, fantasy and horror, then seasons the mix with old-fashioned melodrama. The title refers to Chitose, a fifteen-year-old orphan with an unwanted gift: she can see fairies, ghosts, and other supernatural beings. For most of her life, she’s been passed between relatives and shunned by her peers. When sorcerer Ellias Ainsworth purchases her from an unscrupulous aunt and uncle, however, Chitose embarks on a new life as his apprentice and, perhaps, his bride-to-be.

I’d be the first to admit that the storylines often feel like they’ve been pinched from other fantasy manga, right down to a scene in which Ainsworth rescues Chitose from a malicious fairy. (Quick–name two Shojo Beat titles with a similar plot twist!) Though the plot has a been-there, read-that quality, Kore Yamazaki’s imaginative character designs and meticulously rendered backgrounds do not; his vision is so particular that the reader is plunged into Ainsworth and Chitose’s world as a participant, not a casual observer. The series’ other redeeming strength is its emotional honesty. Yamazaki convincingly depicts the characters’ grief and isolation without resorting to voice-overs or pointed dialogue–an impressive feat, given the plot’s reliance on such Victorian-lit staples as dead mothers and callous relatives.

The verdict: Although I’m not wild about the prospect of a May-December relationship between Chitose and Ainsworth, I’ll gladly soldier through another volume.

evergreen1Evergreen, Vol. 1
Story by Yuyuko Takemiya, Art by Akira Kasukabe
Rated OT, for Older Teens
Seven Seas, $12.99

Full disclosure: I usually loathe the costume failures, manic pixie dream girls, and improbable harems that are stock-in-trade of shonen romances. Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered Evergreen, a smart coming-of-age story that devotes twice as many pages to the hero’s complicated emotional life than it does the heroine’s predilection for wearing swimsuits.

What distinguishes Evergreen from, say, Suzuka, is its principal character’s palpable angst. Hotaka bears a figurative and literal scar from childhood: not only did he lose his father at an early age, Hotaka also had open-heart surgery to treat the very condition that claimed his father’s life. (In other words, he’s earned the right to be unhappy, unlike the heroes of Suzuka, Love Hina, and countless other shonen romantic comedies who brood without real cause.) As a result, Hotaka vacillates between fierce self-loathing and cautious optimism in a way that seems genuinely adolescent. His conversations, nightmares, and interior monologues reveal the degree to which Hotaka’s fear of being judged prevents him from forging a meaningful connection with dream girl Niki Awaya, the “tawny haired” captain of the girls’ swim club.

Lest I make Evergreen sound like a colossal bummer, rest assured that Hotaka’s angsty monologues are balanced by slapstick and jokes. Hotaka’s fellow manga club members, for example, bring a welcome jolt of comic energy to the proceedings, functioning as the series’ low-rent Greek chorus. There’s also a soupçon of fanservice for folks who like that sort of thing; artist Akira Kasukabe never misses an opportunity to depict Awaya in her bathing suit. (Actually, it’s a pretty chaste suit by shonen manga standards; you could swim laps in it without flashing anyone.) Awaya’s objectification is balanced by a positive portrayal of On-Chan, the sole female member of the manga club and Hotaka’s self-appointed wingman. On-Chan’s can-do attitude, enthusiasm for manga, and mean left hook aren’t novel traits, exactly, but taken as a whole, make her one of the more appealing, empowered female characters in the Seven Seas catalog.

The verdict: A pleasant surprise; count me in for volume two.

Reviews: TCJ columnist Joe McCulloch takes an in-depth look at Drawn and Quarterly: Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary Cartooning, Comics and Graphic Novels, focusing on contributions from Yoshihiro Tatsumi and Shigeru Mizuki. Elsewhere on the web, Ken H. reviews Dream Fossil, a collection of short stories by Satoshi Kon, while Tony Yao tackles Orange, a time-traveling drama that offers a candid look at teen depression.

Sarah on vol. 1 of The Ancient Magus’ Bride (Anime UK News)
Tessa Barber on Anomal (No Flying No Tights)
Wolfen Moondaughter on vol. 4 of Black Rose Alice (Sequential Tart)
Megan R. on Bloody Monday (The Manga Test Drive)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 6 of Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma (Comic Book Bin)
Megan R. on Girl Friends (The Manga Test Drive)
Lori Henderson on vols. 9-10 of Goong: The Royal Palace (Manga Xanadu)
Sheena McNeil on vol. 3 of Hide and Seek (Sequential Tart)
Joseph Luster on vol. 13 of Knights of Sidonia (Otaku USA)
Seth Hahne on vol. 1 of Last Man (Good OK Bad)
Alice Vernon on vol. 1 of Log Horizon (Girls Like Comics)
Sean Gaffney on vols. 5-6 of Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Ash Brown on vol. 2 of Maria the Virgin Witch (Experiments in Manga)
Jason Thompson on vols. 1-2 of Meteor Prince (ANN)
Joseph Luster on vol. 2 of My Neighbor Seki (Otaku USA)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 70 of Naruto (Comic Book Bin)
Amanda Vail on vols. 1-4 of Noragami: Stray God (Women Write About Comics)
Ian Wolf on vol. 1 of A Silent Voice (Anime UK News)
Theron Martin on vol. 1 of Sword Art Online: Girls’ Ops (ANN)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of Tokyo Ghoul (ANN)
Sheena McNeil on vol. 27 of Toriko (Sequential Tart)
Terry Hong on vol. 8 of What Did You Eat Yesterday? (Book Dragon)
Sakura Eries on vol. 2 of Yukarism (The Fandom Post)

Are you a blogger who regularly reviews manga? Want to see your reviews included in our weekly round-ups? Leave a comment below so we can keep tabs on your latest reviews!

D+Q Announces Seven Volumes of ‘Kitaro’

kitaro.cover_vol1

Drawn and Quarterly announced seven new volumes of Shigeru Mizuki’s Kitaro manga today. All will be in a “kid-friendly” format—standard manga trim size, 150 pages, black and white, $12.95 per volume—and each will collect new (to us) short stories from Mizuki’s extensive back catalog, translated by Zack Davisson, who will also contribute an essay to each volume. The first one, Birth of Kitaro, a collection of early stories, will be out in March 2016, and D+Q will issue a new one each season after that.

Also, more digital license rescues from Viz, which has picked up three former Tokyopop titles: Welcome to the NHK, Metamo Kiss, and AiON.

Justin Stroman talks to MangaBlog’s own Kate Dacey at Organization Anti-Social Geniuses. Learn how Kate got her start as a manga blogger, why she took a break, and what she’s doing now that she has jumped back in!

Also at OASG, Justin talks to translator Dan Luffey, who worked on Manga Reborn for a while and has translated over 1,000 chapters of manga.

The Manga Bookshelf team discuss their Picks of the Week. Lori Henderson gives her take on this week’s new releases—just call it shoujo-riffic!—at Manga Xanadu. Lori also says farewell to three series that are drawing to a close.

Laura looks at the new shoujo titles debuting in June at Heart of Manga.

Caitlin McGurk of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at Ohio State University interviews Maureen Donovan, OSU’s Japanese Studies librarian, who is retiring after 37 years on the job, part of which involved establishing one of the premier manga collections in the U.S.

News from Japan: Apparently there’s no such thing as too much Naruto: Saikyo Jump magazine has announced that Kenji Taira, creator of the Naruto spinoffs Rock Lee no Seishun Full-Power Ninden and Uchiha Sasuke no Sharingan Den, will create a manga based on the new movie Boruto -Naruto the Movie- for the September issue. Detective Conan (Case Closed) is going on hiatus for a few weeks. ANN has the latest Japanese comics rankings as well as the top selling manga for the first half of the year by volume and by series.

Reviews: At Brain Vs. Book, Jocelyne Allen takes a peek inside the massive tome that is vol. 1 of Comitia 30th Chronicle, a collection of comics honoring the 30th anniversary of this massive doujinshi festival. Sean Gaffney and Michelle Smith go over some recent releases in the latest Bookshelf Briefs column at Manga Bookshelf. Ash Brown looks back at a week’s worth of manga reading at Experiments in Manga.

Matthew Warner on vols. 2 and 3 of Ani-Imo (The Fandom Post)
Kory Cerjak on vol. 1 of The Devil Is a Part-Timer (The Fandom Post)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 5 of Food Wars (The Comic Book Bin)
Ken H on vols. 43-48 of Fairy Tail (Sequential Ink)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 6 of Food Wars (Comics Worth Reading)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 2 of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 11 of Magi (The Comic Book Bin)
Sakura Eries on vol. 2 of Milkyway Hitchhiking (The Fandom Post)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 3 of Prophecy (Comics Worth Reading)
Julia Smith on vol. 2 of Resident Evil: The Marhawa Desire (The Fandom Post)
John Rose on vol. 3 of Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro (The Fandom Post)
Anna N on vol. 1 of So Cute It Hurts! (Manga Report)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 6 of Terra Formars (Lesley’s Musings… on Manga)
Matthew Alexander on vol. 1 of Trinity Seven (The Fandom Post)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 10 of Umineko When They Cry (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Erica Friedman on vol. 3 of What Did You Eat Yesterday? (Okazu)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vols. 7 and 8 of What Did You Eat Yesterday? (Comics Worth Reading)

The Manga Revue: Love at Fourteen

Thanks to everyone who responded positively to last week’s inaugural Manga Revue! This week’s column focuses on Love at Fourteen, a romance manga that’s garnered good reviews around the web. I’ve also rounded up the week’s most notable manga criticism below. If you’d like to see your reviews here, leave a note in the comments.

Love-at-Fourteen-Volume-1Love at Fourteen, Vol. 1
By Fuka Mizutani
Rated T, for Teens
Yen Press, $15.00

Love at Fourteen is an earnest, uneventful chronicle of first love. The teenagers in question are Tanaka and Yoshikawa, the tallest, smartest, and most responsible students at their middle school. Although they earn high marks and dutifully erase boards after class, they share a secret: they long to be as goofy and carefree as their peers. Their desire to cast off the yoke of maturity in favor of spontaneity becomes the catalyst for a chaste romance.

So far, so good: the premise has legs, and if Fuka Mizutani had better storytelling chops, Love at Fourteen might have offered young readers a meaningful alternative to the romantic histrionics of Kare First Love or Kare Kanno. Unfortunately, Mizutani relies heavily on interior monologues and pointed conversations to reveal what Tanaka and Yoshikawa are feeling, draining most of their scenes of tension, excitement, or ambiguity–the very qualities that make first love so memorable. Mizutani’s few attempts at generating drama fall painfully flat; moving Tanaka to a different row in the classroom hardly constitutes a meaningful impediment to her relationship with Yoshikawa, yet Mizutani dedicates two chapters to exploring the consequences of this new seating arrangement.

There’s nothing wrong with Mizutani’s commitment to charting the normal ups and downs of a teenage romance, of course; too many manga lean on false suitors, jealous rivals, or monstrous parents to prolong the inevitable union of the principle characters. Without a lively supporting cast, however, Love at Fourteen sinks under the weight of its principle characters’ personalities: surely one of them has a weird hobby or affectation, or wants to break into voice acting. Generic artwork and stock scenes contribute to the impression of blandness, making this a tough sell for readers who demand more than from a story than sincerity.

The verdict: Tweens and young teens feel like the right audience for this book; older readers may find it too pat to hold their interest.

Reviews: Over at The Manga Test Drive, Megan R. takes two older titles for a spin: Cafe Kichijouji De and V.B. Rose. Shaenon Garrity devotes the latest House of 1000 Manga column to Taiyo Matsumoto’s Sunny.

Matthew Warner on vol. 3 of Ajin: Demi-Human (The Fandom Post)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 4 of Assassination Classroom (Comic Book Bin)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 10 of Black Lagoon (ANN)
John Rose on vol. 2 of Bloody Brat (The Fandom Post)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 13 of Blue Exorcist (Comic Book Bin)
Erica Friedman on Chou Chou Nan Nan (Okazu)
Kate O’Neil on vol. 2 of Demon From Afar (The Fandom Post)
Sakura Eries on vol. 16 of Dengeki Daisy (The Fandom Post)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Emma (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
A Library Girl on vol. 1 of Inu x Boku SS (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
A Library Girl on vol. 2 of Inu x Boku SS (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Sheena McNeil on vol. 17 of Kamisama Kiss (Sequential Tart)
Ian Wolf on vol. 1 of Let’s Dance a Waltz (Anime UK News)
Helen on Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer (Organization Anti-Social Geniuses)
Nick Creamer on vols. 3-4 of Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer (ANN)
Ken H. on vol. 2 of My Neighbor Seki (Sequential Ink)
Matthew Warner on vol. 74 of One Piece (The Fandom Post)
Ian Wolf on vol. 1 of Oreimo: Kuroneko (Anime UK News)
G.B. Smith on vol. 7 of Seven Deadly Sins (The Fandom Post)
G.B. Smith on vol. 8 of Seven Deadly Sins (The Fandom Post)
Matthew Warner on vol. 5 of Terra Formars (The Fandom Post)
Sheena McNeil on vol. 1 of Tokyo Ghoul (Sequential Tart)
manjiorin on Tony Takezaki’s Neon Genesis Evangelion (Organization Anti-Social Geniuses)
Sarah on vol. 1 of The World’s Greatest First Love (Anime UK News)