Manga Sales are Up

tenshi kamoshirenai 01For the first time in her career, manga-ka Moto Hagio is collaborating with an artist. Hagio is writing the story for a new series, Tenshi Kamoshirenai (Might be an Angel), which will run in Shueisha’s YOU magazine, and Yū Hatano will draw it. [Anime News Network]

Are manga sales increasing? Signs point to yes, according to Justin Sevakis, who looks at some recent sales reports and discusses some possible reasons. [Anime News Network]

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

The fifth volume of One-Punch Man tops the New York Times manga best-seller list, with vol. 8 of Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal coming in second and vol. 66 of Bleach in third place. [New York Times]

How much money is lost to anime piracy? GoBoiano writer JenBae does some rough calculations, and the results are eye-opening. [GoBoiano]

French manga scholar Xavier Hebert is about to publish his own manga. [Asahi Shimbun]

Akita Shoten has plans to release all its magazines digitally (in Japan) as well as in print. [Anime News Network]

Kamisama Kiss is coming to an end. [Anime News Network]

Reviews: Ash Brown reviews Mechademia, volume 10: World Renewal, a collection of essays about manga, at Experiments in Manga.

Matthew Alexander on vol. 7 of Assassination Classroom (The Fandom Post)
Erica Friedman on the January 2016 issue of Comic Yuri Hime (Okazu)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Demonizer Zilch (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Helen on Futaba-Kun Change! (The OASG)
Katherine Parker on vol. 4 of He’s My Only Vampire (The Fandom Post)
A Library Girl on vols. 3 and 4 of His Favorite (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Muse on vol. 1 of Honey So Sweet (The OASG)
Anna N. on vol. 2 of Idol Dreams (Manga Report)
Erica Friedman on Junsui Adolescence Perfect Edition (Okazu)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 3 of My Hero Academia (The Comic Book Bin)
Matthew Warner on vol. 4 of So Cute It Hurts! (The Fandom Post)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 5 of So Cute It Hurts! (The Comic Book Bin)
Matthew Warner on vol. 2 of Ultraman (The Fandom Post)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 12 of Umineko: When They Cry (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Helen on vols. 1-5 of Vinland Saga (Narrative Investigations)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 4 of The World’s Greatest First Love (I Reads You)

Manga Market Madness

One-Punch Man 5Manga titles accounted for half of BookScan’s list of the top 20 graphic novels of February (bookstore sales): Four volumes of Tokyo Ghoul (vol. 5 was the number one seller), three volumes of One-Punch Man, the Naruto novel and the series sequel, Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring, and vol. 8 of Monster Musume. [ICv2]

Last week was Manga Week at the retailer website ICv2, and they had a ton of interesting content. Here’s the list:

“A Lot of People Are Paying Attention to Us Right Now”: New Trends in Manga
ICv2 Interview: Todd MacFarlane on His Anime/Manga Line [of toys]
2016 Yaoi Titles from SuBLime
Interview with the Dark Horse Manga Brain Trust, Part 1
Interview with the Dark Horse Manga Brain Trust, Part 2
Top 10 Manga Franchises—Fall 2015

Retailer Brian Hibbs has released his annual analysis of the previous year’s BookScan charts, and it looks like 2015 was a great year for manga. His article is lengthy but fascinating reading if you’re interested in the fine points of the graphic novel market, but if you’re not, here’s one fact that kind of sums it up: In terms of dollar sales, Viz was the number two publisher of graphic novels in bookstores. Hibbs links to the actual spreadsheet of the top 750 graphic novels, in case you want to look it over for yourself. [Comic Book Resources]

Lori Henderson finds some free manga on the Kindle. [Manga Xanadu]

Chuya Koyama talks about Space Brothers. [Kodansha Comics]

Lone Wolf and Cub creator Kazuo Koike has done an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit! His answers to many of the questions are kind of vague, but he does say he thinks Samurai Executioner is his best work, and he is working on a new manga—that will be published as a motion comic. [Reddit]

Massive editor Graham Kolbeins talks gay manga. [Girls Like Comics]

Arina Tanemura releases the details of her new manga, to be titled Akuma ni Chic×Hack. [Anime News Network]

Tite Kubo has come down with something, so Bleach will skip a week. [Anime News Network]

There’s a lot going on in the world of yuri, and Erica Friedman rounds it up for us in the latest edition of Yuri Network News. Also, Erica will be participating in an alt-manga symposium at Baruch College in New York on April 7—check it out if you’re in town! [Okazu]

You may have heard of Kazuto Tatsuta before—he’s the guy who got a job as part of the cleanup crew in the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear reactor, which was damaged during the 2011 earthquake, and made a manga about it, Ichiefu. (You can read the first chapter in English here.) With the fifth anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami coming up, Tatsuta talks about his manga and the problems it revealed. [Japan Times]

In case you needed another excuse to read Yotsuba&!, here’s an article explaining why it’s a good choice for learning Japanese. [Japan Info]

If you read French, check out this interview with Minetaro Mochizuki, creator of Chiisakobé. [Nostroblog]

Reviews: At Manga Xanadu, Lori Henderson takes a look at Kimetsu no Yaiba, the new series that has just started running in Shonen Jump.

Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 8 of Assassination Classroom (The Comic Book Bin)
L.B. Bryant on vol. 1 of Behind the Scenes (ICv2)
Gregory Smith on vol. 3 of Chaika the Coffin Princess (The Fandom Post)
Erica Friedman on the March 2016 issue of Comic Yuri Hime (Okazu)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 13 of Deadman Wonderland (WatchPlayRead)
Matt Brady on Junji Ito’s Fragments of Horror (Warren Peace Sings the Blues)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 77 of One Piece (The Comic Book Bin)
Gregory Smith on vol. 1 of Princess Knight (The Fandom Post)
Gregory Smith on The Secret Sakura Shares (The Fandom Post)
Justin on vol. 1 of Taboo Tattoo (The OASG)
Kory Cerjak on vol. 2 of Tokyo ESP (The Fandom Post)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 5 of Tokyo Ghoul (WatchPlayRead)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 5 of Tokyo Ghoul (The Comic Book Bin)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 3 of Ultraman (WatchPlayRead)

The Manga Revue: Brave Dan and FukuFuku: Kitten Tales

Do you own a cat tea cosy? Is there an enormous feline jungle gym in your living room? Have you lost entire afternoons to watching YouTube videos of cats opening doors, playing pianos, and riding Roombas? If you answered “yes” to at least one of the following questions, this week’s column is for you, as I’ll be reviewing two cat-centric comics: Osamu Tezuka’s Brave Dan–a boy-and-his-tiger story–and Kanata Konami’s FukuFuku: Kitten Tales–a manga about cats doing normal cat things.

brave_danBrave Dan
By Osamu Tezuka
Rated Teen, for readers 13 and up
Digital Manga Publishers, Inc., $15.95

Brave Dan begins as a rollicking adventure: Kotan, an orphaned Ainu boy, befriends Dan, a “man-eating” tiger, and embarks on a quest with him to find a valuable treasure. The pair dodges bullets, escapes from a helicopter, and tangles with guardian spirits in their search for the tomb of an ancient Ainu warrior. As the story enters its final act, however, a darker subplot emerges, one in which Dan is forced to confront the wisdom of associating with humans.

Though Tezuka makes frequent reference to Kotan’s Ainu heritage, this plot strand is more window dressing than serious thematic element; Kamuiroji’s tomb looks more like a set from a Flash Gordon or Tarzan serial than an authentic expression of Ainu culture. (Granted, it’s a pretty nifty tomb; Indiana Jones would have had a field day exploring it.) Tezuka is on firmer ground when staging a chase or a fight. In one memorable scene, for example, Dan plunges into a lake to save Kotan from an enormous spider-demon. Tezuka captures the fluidity and speed of Dan’s attacks with a few carefully chosen “snapshots” of him tumbling and twisting in the water, struggling to crush the monster with his paws. Small details–such as the trail of bubbles from each of Dan’s legs–remind us that in this underwater setting, Dan has a fleeting window of opportunity to save his friend. By the time that he and Kotan burst to the lake’s surface, we’re gasping for air, too–a testament to Tezuka’s ability to transport the reader to the scene of the action.

Tezuka’s artwork also plays an important role in garnering sympathy for Dan, establishing the tiger’s bravery, intelligence, and unwavering loyalty to Kotan. Though Tezuka can’t resist some ham-fisted touches–Dan actually shakes his paw at the sky in one scene–Dan’s essential tigerness is never compromised. The emphasis on Dan’s animal nature reminds us that his friendship with Kotan can only exist apart from human society; kind and smart as Dan may be, adults perceive him as a threat, to be killed or contained in a zoo.

The bottom line: If you still bear scars from reading The Yearling and Old Yeller, be warned: Dan is as doomed as those other noble animal protagonists. Less sensitive souls, however, can enjoy Brave Dan as both a gonzo adventure story and a meditation on the perils of interspecies friendships. Recommended for readers ten and up.

Fuku Fuku Kitten TalesFukuFuku: Kitten Tales, Vol. 1
By Kanata Konami
All Ages
Vertical Comics, $10.95

FukuFuku: Kitten Tales is perfectly calibrated to elicit an “awwww” and a chuckle on every page. The title character–a spunky calico–does predictably cute things: she falls asleep in odd places, escapes from a sudsy bath, plays with her food, and snatches a fish from the table. Unlike Chi, star of Konami’s other hit manga, FukuFuku doesn’t voice her thoughts about her new owner, or the strangeness of her new surroundings; she simply does what she pleases. Konami’s minimalist artwork captures the nuances of FukuFuku’s moods surprisingly well, however, as Konami bends and stretches the kitten’s moon-shaped face into an astonishing range of smiles, scowls, and grimaces. Absent a plot or a deeper sense of how FukuFuku sees her world, the story hits fewer emotional notes than Chi’s Sweet Home, focusing almost exclusively on the kind of ordinary cat behavior that’s been documented copiously on YouTube. You may find that the vignettes–charming as they are–have a sameness about them that prevents them from being genuinely funny or surprising.

The bottom line: As with Chi’s Sweet Home, Konami demonstrates a talent for drawing winsome kitties doing winsome things. She’s also cornered the market on disdainful feline reaction shots.

Reviews: ANN columnist Rebecca Silverman posts an early review of Inio Asano’s critically lauded drama Goodnight Pun-Pun, while Seth Hahne, host of Good OK Bad, tackles another Asano work: A Girl on the Shore.

Mark Pelligrini on vol. 3 of AKIRA (AiPT!)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 7 of Blood Lad (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Adrienne on vol. 1 of Bloody Mary (Heart of Manga)
Sean Gaffney on The Boy and the Beast (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Julie on The Cinderella Solution (Manga Maniac Cafe)
Julie on Crowns and a Cradle (Manga Maniac Cafe)
ebooksgirl on vol. 1 of FukuFuku: Kitten Tales (Geek Lit Etc.)
Karen Maeda on vol. 1 of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Part 2: Battle Tendency (Sequential Tart)
Wolfen Moondaughter on vol. 23 of Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You (Sequential Tart)
Nick Creamer on vol. 3 of My Hero Academia (Anime News Network)
David Brooke on vol. 5 of One-Punch Man (AiPT!)
Ash Brown on vol. 1 of Persona 4 (Experiments in Manga)
Jordan Richards on vol. 1 of Pokemon Adventures (AiPT!)
Sheena McNeil on vol. 2 of QQ Sweeper (Sequential Tart)
Wolfen Moondaughter on vol. 1 of Gakyuu Hotei: School Judgment (Sequential Tart)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 3 of Umineko When They Cry Episode 5: End of the Golden Witch (Anime News Network)
Austin Lanari on issue no. 13 of Weekly Shonen Jump (Comic Bastards)

Seven Seas Licenses ‘Re:Monster,’ Cops Bust File-Sharers

remonsterSeven Seas has announced another new license: Haruyoshi Kobayakawa’s Re:Monster, about a teen who dies and is reborn as a goblin in a swords-and-sorcery fantasy world. The first volume will be out in November. [Anime News Network]

The Japanese National Police Agency has arrested 44 people on charges of illegally uploading and sharing files; among them are five men accused of uploading volumes of Attack on Titan, Bleach, and other manga via Share. [Anime News Network]

Viz and Seven Seas go 60/40 on the New York Times manga best-seller list, with six Viz titles and four from Seven Seas. The top seller is vol. 5 of Tokyo Ghoul, with vol. 8 of Monster Musume coming in second. [New York Times]

ICv2 lists the top ten manga properties for the fall of 2015; it’s a mix of old and new series, with Attack on Titan topping the list. [ICv2]

Lauren Orsini decides not to go on a doujinshi shopping spree in Japan, given the legal problems that she might run into bringing erotic manga back to the States. [Forbes]

Tomoko Ninomiya is returning to Nodame Cantabile, more than five years after the original series ended, with a one-shot chapter in Kiss that looks at Noda as she is about to turn 30. [RocketNews24]

OrangeIchigo Takano is working on a spinoff of her manga Orange, which will run in Futabasha’s Monthly Action magazine. Seven Seas is publishing the original series in English. [Anime News Network]

The Naoki Urasawa show at the Setagaya Literary Museum in Tokyo features over 1,000 original drawings, including four chapters of 20th Century Boys and the entire final volume of Monster—which brought back some unfortunate memories: “When I was working on the final stage of this manga, the membrane of my eyes and nose became swollen, and I was a total mess,” Urasawa said. “Looking at those pages still reminds me of my obsession at the time and almost makes me sick.” [The Japan Times]

The Manga Bookshelf team looks over this week’s sparse array of new releases. [Manga Bookshelf]

Erica Friedman collects all the yuri news in one place for us with the latest edition of Yuri Network News. [Okazu]

Reviews

Ash Brown on vol. 8 of After School Nightmare (Experiments in Manga)
Mark Thomas on vol. 4 of Appleseed (The Fandom Post)
Kanta Ishida on Blue Giant (The Japan Times)
Katherine J. Parker on vols. 3 and 4 of Btooom! (The Fandom Post)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 1 of Fuku Fuku: Kitten Tales (Comics Worth Reading)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 2 of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 20 of Kamisama Kiss (The Comic Book Bin)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 3 of Kiss Him, Not Me! (Comics Worth Reading)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 16 of Magi (WatchPlayRead)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 3 of Master Keaton (Comics Worth Reading)
Sakura Eries on vol. 5 of Master Keaton (Comic Attack)
Kristin on vol. 1 of Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun (Comic Attack)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 2 of Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vols. 5 and 6 of My Neighbor Seki (Comics Worth Reading)
Anna N on vol. 2 of QQ Sweeper (Manga Report)
Helen on vols. 2 and 3 of ReLIFE (The OASG)
Richard Gutierrez on vol. 3 of Twin Star Exorcists (The Fandom Post)
Matthew Warner on vol. 2 of Yo-kai Watch (The Fandom Post)

The Manga Revue: Handa-Kun

VIZ isn’t the only manga publisher experimenting with digital-first releases; Yen Press has also rolled out new titles in digital form before introducing print editions. One of the latest Yen titles to make the leap from web to page is Handa-kun, Satsuki Yoshino’s comedy about a talented teen calligrapher. If the premise sounds familiar, that’s because the title character also stars in Yoshino’s later series Barakamon–which begs the question, is Handa-kun just for fans, or will it appeal to the uninitiated? Read on for my verdict.

handakunHanda-kun, Vol. 1
By Satsuki Yoshino
Rated T, for teens
Yen Press, $15.00

By the time we meet Sei Handa in the first pages of Barakamon, he’s a twenty-something jerk who bristles at criticism, resents authority, and resists overtures of friendship. The tenth-grader we meet in Handa-kun isn’t as curmudgeonly, but he has a problem: he constantly misreads other people’s motives, whether he’s interpreting a love letter as a threat or perceiving a job offer as a “shady” attempt to unload stolen clothing. For all his weirdness, however, Handa’s classmates worship him, viewing his odd behavior and sharp calligraphy skills as proof of his coolness.

Author Satsuki Yoshino wrings a surprising number of laughs from this simple premise by populating the story with a large, boisterous cast of supporting players. Though the outcome of every chapter is the same–female suitors and male rivals alike profess their sincere admiration for Handa–the path to each character’s epiphany takes unexpected turns. Yoshino complements these humorous soliloquies with expressive, elastic artwork that sells us on the characters’ transformations.

In the volume’s best chapter, for example, Yoshino pits Handa against a bespectacled nerd named Juniichi. Juniichi’s entire self-image is rooted in his years of service as class representative–that is, until one of his peers nominates Handa for the honor. Yoshino makes us feel and smell Juniichi’s desperation by showing us how Juniichi sweats, grimaces, and paces his way through the vote-counting process, flagging or rallying with each ballot. By chapter’s end, Juniichi’s cheerful declaration that “Right now, I feel the best I have ever felt in my life” seems like the natural culmination of this fraught emotional journey–even though, of course, his feeling is rooted in a false sense of Handa’s moral rectitude.

My primary concern about Handa-kun is that the series will overstay its welcome. Handa seems fundamentally unable to learn from his interactions with peers, and his classmates seem just as clueless in their blind adoration of him. If Yoshino doesn’t take steps to change this dynamic–perhaps by introducing a character who is genuinely unimpressed with Handa–the series risks settling into a predictable routine. For a few volumes, however, the current set-up will do just fine, offering the same brand of off-kilter humor as Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto.

The bottom line: The first volume is funny enough to appeal to newbies and die-hard Barakamon fans.

Reviews: Megan R. jumps in the WABAC machine for a close look at two BL titles from the mid-00s: Brother (originally published by Drama Queen) and Love Pistols (originally published by BLU Manga). At The OASG, Justin Stroman convenes a round table discussion of Kentaro Miura’s Giganto Maxima.

Theron Martin on vol. 1 of Angel Beats!: Heaven’s Door (Anime News Network)
Matt on vol. 1 of Die Wergelder (Ani-TAY)
Matt on vol. 1 of Dimension W (Ani-TAY)
Julie on vol. 1 of FukuFuku: Kitten Tales (Manga Maniac Cafe)
Helen on vol. 1 of Ga-Rei (The OASG)
Sarah on vols. 2-3 of Kiss Him, Not Me! (Anime UK News)
Sheena McNeil on vol. 8 of Kiss of the Rose Princess (Sequential Tart)
Karen Maeda on vol. 3 of Komomo Confiserie (Sequential Tart)
Terry Hong on vol. 5 of Master Keaton (Book Dragon)
Ken H. on vol. 7 of Noragami (Sequential Ink)
SKJAM! on vols. 10-11 of Ooku: The Inner Chambers (SKJAM! Reviews)
Plutoburns on Parasistence Sana (Plutoburns)*
Marissa Lieberman on vol. 1 of School-Live! (No Flying No Tights)
Matt on vol. 2 of School-Live! (Ani-TAY)
Kane Bugeja on vol. 7 of Seraph of the End (Snap 30)
Sarah on vol. 4 of Servamp (Anime UK News)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of Taboo Tattoo (Anime News Network)
Nic Creamer on vol. 3 of UQ Holder! (Anime News Network)
Michael Burns on vols. 5-6 of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches (Ani-TAY)

* Denotes a video review

New Licenses: Blame, Sherlock Holmes, Bloom Into You

sherlockmangaTitan Comics is bringing the Sherlock Holmes manga A Study in Pink to English-language readers. [Comics Worth Reading]

Vertical announced three new manga licenses at its Katsucon panel on Friday: Tsutomu Nihei’s Blame (which was published by Tokyopop back in the 2000s); Yōkai Kyōshitsu (Dissolving Classroom), by the horror master Junji Ito (Gyo, Uzumaki); and Ryō Yasohachi’s Shinazu no Ryōken (Immortal Hounds). Vertical is currently publishing Nihei’s Knights of Sidonia. [Anime News Network]

Seven Seas has licensed the yuri series Bloom Into You. [Anime News Network]

Fuku Fuku Kitten TalesThe Manga Bookshelf team discuss this week’s new releases, a bumper crop that includes new volumes of Air Gear, Inuyashiki, and Blood Lad, plus the debut of Fuku Fuku Kitten Tales. [Manga Bookshelf]

The Japanese serialization of Assassination Classroom will end in the 16th issue of Weekly Shonen Jump, due out in March. [Anime News Network]

Bkub Okawa trolls his readers. I’m not gonna spoil it—just go read! [Crunchyroll]

Erica Friedman rounds up the latest yuri news. [Okazu]

Reviews: The Manga Bookshelf team files a romantic set of Bookshelf Briefs. Ash Brown posts some short takes at Experiments in Manga.

Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 8 of Assassination Classroom (WatchPlayRead)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Behind the Scenes!! (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Kristin on vol. 1 of Behind the Scenes (Comic Attack)
Anna N on vol. 1 of Behind the Scenes!! (Manga Report)
DJ Horn on vol. 2 of Black Bullet (The Fandom Post)
A Library Girl on vols. 1-3, (omnibus edition) 4, and 5 of Blood Alone (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Kory Cerjak on vol. 9 of Deadman Wonderland (The Fandom Post)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Fate/Zero (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Sean Gaffney on vols. 1 and 2 of Franken Fran (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Helen on vol. 1 of Ga-Rei (The OASG)
Manjiorin on Giganto Maxia (The OASG)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 27 of Hayate the Combat Butler (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
A Library Girl on vols. 1 and 2 of His Favorite (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 2 of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Part 2: Battle Tendency (Anime News Network)
A Library Girl on vol. 3 of Mixed Vegetables (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 3 of My Hero Academia (WatchPlayRead)
Ken H. on vol. 7 of Noragami (Sequential Ink)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 77 of One Piece (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
A Library Girl on vol. 2 of One-Punch Man (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Ollie Barder on The Osamu Tezuka Story (Forbes)
Ash Brown on vol. 1 of Planetes (Experiments in Manga)
Scott Cederlund on vol. 1 of Planetes (Panel Patter)
Matthew Warnter on vol. 2 of Puella Magi Suzune Magica (The Fandom Post)
Ash Brown on vol. 3 of Requiem of the Rose King (Experiments in Manga)
Helen on vol. 1 of Samurai Drive (The OASG)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of School Judgment: Gakkyu Hotei (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Lori Henderson on vol. 1 of School Judgment: Gakkyu Hotei (Manga Xanadu)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of Taboo Tattoo (Anime News Network)