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)

Cocoa Fujiwara RIP

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Cocoa Fujiwara, the creator of Inu x Boku SS, has died. Although she was only 31 years old, she had a number of manga credits: The short story “Calling,” which was published when she was just 15, Stray Doll, Watashi no Ookami-san, dear, Ojousama to Youkai Shitsuji, Inu x Boku SS, and her current series, Katsute Mahō Shōjo to Aku wa Tekitai Shiteita, which ran in Young Gangan, as did Inu x Boku SS. According to her Wikipedia page, she was friends with fellow Square Enix artists Jun Mochizuki (Pandora Hearts) and Yana Toboso (Black Butler).

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)

A Certain Seven Seas License; Aya Kanno Coming to TCAF

A Certain Scientific Accelerator

Seven Seas announced yesterday that it has licensed A Certain Scientific Accelerator, one of the many manga spinoffs of the light novel series A Certain Magical Index (which has been licensed by Yen Press).

Aya Kanno, creator of Otomen, Blank Slate, and Requiem of the Rose King, will be a guest at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) in May.

I wrote about the life and work of the late Yoshihiro Tatsumi at the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog.

At The Guardian, Jennifer Allan writes about what she learned from Tatsumi’s works.

Justin talks to Ken Niimura, author of Henshin, at Organization Anti-Social Geniuses.

The Manga Bookshelf bloggers discuss their pick of a very good week and what we can expect next week. Lori Henderson looks at this week’s manga at Manga Xanadu.

Hiroya Oku says his Inuyashiki manga, which Kodansha will start publishing in the U.S. in August, will run to 10 volumes.

The Japanese anti-piracy project Manga-Anime Guardians reports some results:

In the five month period between August and January, MAG deleted 447,096 manga files and 264,601 anime files from various video sharing, online reading, torrent and other sites. For manga, that represents a 60% delete rate, while for anime, that’s a 89% delete rate, though it’s not clear whether these results include English-language sites.

I don’t go to scanlation sites, but I haven’t noticed any decrease in the frequency with which they show up in Google results, but maybe MAG is hitting Japanese-language sites harder. They also note that 12% of Japanese readers and 50% of U.S. readers use bootleg sites.

Crafty Lori Henderson looks at some sewing manga. I didn’t even know that was a thing!

13th Dimension has a preview of Jiro Kuwata’s Batmanga #38.

News from Japan: The Naruto spinoff mini-series Naruto Gaiden: Nanadaime Hokage to Akairo no Hanatsuzuki will start running in Shonen Jump with the April 27 issue. Shigeru Mizuki is bringing his autobiographical manga Watashi no Hibi to an end in the next issue of Big Comic. Princess Jellyfish creator Akiko Higashimura has won the Manga Taisho award for her series Kakukaku Shikajika. Children of the Sea manga-ka Daisuke Higarashi has a new series in the works, titled Designs. ANN has the latest Japanese comics rankings.

Reviews: The Manga Bookshelf team files their report on some recent releases in the latest edition of Bookshelf Briefs. Ash Brown recaps the week’s reading at Experiments in Manga.

Matthew Warner on vol. 1 of Akame ga KILL! (The Fandom Post)
Kate O’Neil on vol. 14 of Attack on Titan (The Fandom Post)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 15 of Attack on Titan (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Sean Gaffney on vols. 1 and 2 of Captain Ken (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Toshi Nakamura on Inuyashiki (Kotaku)
Steve Bennett on vol. 1 of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (ICv2)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 3 of Kokoro Connect (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Erica Friedman on Kono yo ni tada Hitori (Okazu)
Justin on Maria the Virgin Witch (Organization Anti-Social Geniuses)
Lori Henderson on vol. 1 of Master Keaton (Manga Xanadu)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 2 of Master Keaton (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Alice Vernon on Milkyway Hitchhiking (Girls Like Comics)
Kristin on vol. 3 of My Love Story (Comic Attack)
Manjiorin on vol. 1 of My Neighbor Seki (Organization Anti-Social Geniuses)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 47 of Oh My Goddess (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Drew McCabe on Our Reason for Living (Comic Attack)
Anna N on vol. 1 of Requiem of the Rose King (Manga Report)
Helen on Spirit Circle (Organization Anti-Social Geniuses)
Ash Brown on vol. 6 of What Did You Eat Yesterday? (Experiments in Manga)

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.

Sparkler Monthly, New Licenses, Manhwa, and More

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At Robot 6, I interviewed Lianne Sentar of Chromatic Press, who is serious about publishing manga-influenced comics for a female audience. Their flagship publication is Sparkler Monthly, and if you’re curious, check it out now, because the archives are available for free. And Melinda Beasi breaks another bit of Sparkler Monthly news at Manga Bookshelf: They have just picked up the series Orange Junk, which formerly ran on Inkblazers.

Yen Press announced that it has licensed the Irregular at Magic High School (Mahōka Kōkō no Rettōsei) light novels and the spinoff manga Mahōka Kōkō no Yūtōsei (The Honour at Magic High School).

Sean Gaffney rounds up all the recent license announcements and tells us a bit about each title.

ICv2 declared last week Manga Week, and their coverage included interviews with Mike Richardson, Carl Horn, and Mike Gombos of Dark Horse, who said their manga line is doing well and they have plans to expand this year with more titles and omnibus editions of older works; Kevin Hamric of Viz, who also says sales are good and notes that sales of shoujo manga have gone up in comics shops; and Matt Lehman, owner of Boston’s Comicopia, who talks about selling manga in the direct market. ICv2 also analyzes last year’s manga sales, which appear to be up for the second year in a row.

A treasure trove of manhwa in an abandoned storage locker has been donated to the University of Washington, where librarian Yi Hyo-kyoung is organizing then, putting together a symposium featuring Misaeng creator Yoon Tae-ho—and reminiscing about reading manhwa on the sly when she was a child.

The Manga Bookshelf team discusses this week’s new manga and their picks of the week.

Erica Friedman updates us on all things yuri at Okazu and at Manga Bookshelf, she looks at Mangatime Kirara ☆ Magica, a Japanese magazine dedicated entirely to the Puella Magi Madoka Magica franchise.

At Heart of Manga, Laura looks at the shoujo manga that have been licensed over the past two years, notes some recent trends, and shares her own list of series she would like to see licensed. And then explains the shoujo trope of kate don.

News from Japan: The Japanese government’s Agency for Cultural Affairs has awarded Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto their Rookie of the Year award; apparently he qualifies because Naruto is his first series, although it ran for 15 years. Attack on Titan took the top slot in the manga category of the Sugoi Japan Grand Prix, in which readers voted on the manga and anime they thought should be shared with readers outside Japan. The mayor of Yokote, in Akita Prefecture, is planning to beef up the collection of the Yokote Masuda Manga Museum to turn it into a “manga mecca” with a collection of over 100,000 works of art. A new Cardfight!! Vanguard series is in the works.

Reviews: Khursten Santos reviews Sayonara, Sorcier, a manga about Theo Van Gogh (Vincent’s younger brother) which, sadly, has not been translated. Somebody grab this one! Ash Brown rounds up the week’s manga news and offers some quick takes on new titles at Experiments in Manga. The Manga Bookshelf team check in with some short reviews of recent releases in their latest edition of Bookshelf Briefs.

Laura on vol. 2 of Attack on Titan: No Regrets (Heart of Manga)
Kristin on vols. 2 and 3 of Black Rose Alice (Comic Attack)
Lori Henderson on vols. 1-5 of Bloody Cross (Manga Xanadu)
Ollie Barder on Gundam: The Origin (Forbes)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 25 of Hayate the Combat Butler (The Comic Book Bin)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Maria the Virgin Witch (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Dave Ferraro on vol. 1 of Meteor Prince (Comics-and-More)
Ash Brown on vol. 2 of Mushishi (Experiments in Manga)
Helen on Orange (Organization Anti-Social Geniuses)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 18 of Oresama Teacher (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 2 of Prophecy (Comics Worth Reading)
Ken H. on vol. 2 of Prophecy (Sequential Ink)
Kristin on vol. 1 of Requiem of the Rose King (Comic Attack)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Servamp (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Laura on Strobe Edge (Heart of Manga)
Erica Friedman on Wakemonaku Kurushikunaruno (Okazu)
Erica Friedman on vol. 3 of Whispered Words (Okazu)
Ken H. on vols. 1 and 2 of xxxHolic Rei (Sequential Ink)
Justin on Zone-00 (Organization Anti-Social Geniuses)