Bookmarked! The Best Manga of 2014

File this week’s Bookmarked! column under the heading Better Late Than Never. Brigid and I sat down this week to review our favorite manga of 2014, from swashbuckling Viking sagas to goofy shojo comedies. We also chatted about the series we thought we’d love but didn’t, and looked ahead to potential candidates for the Best Manga of 2015.

JUN131345 Brigid: When I was compiling my best of the year list for Robot 6, I mentioned three manga—Kyoko Okazaki’s Helter Skelter, Moyoco Anno’s In Clothes Called Fat, and Inio Asano’s Nijigahara Holograph—but I’m smacking my head because I somehow spaced on Vinland Saga. Even though Kodansha Comics has temporarily put the series on hold, it’s well worth a read. It’s a really well done story with a complex plot—lots of double-crosses and surprises—and some interesting characters. It’s also beautifully drawn, and Kodansha Comics has gone the extra mile in terms of production quality, with double-size hardback volumes and some little touches that make it feel really special. I simply disappeared into these books over the Fourth of July, and now I want to go back and read all the way through Volume Five.

Kate, what was your standout pick for the year?

974d10d54b54987b252eb2fece9827d4_1394065624_full_a3d4c3086a7e1d355a3b27f0c4f2091cKate: I’m also a Moyocco Anno fan, though I preferred Memoirs of Amorous Gentleman. I found Anno’s depiction of Colette, the prostitute-heroine of Memoirs, less mean-spirited than her depiction of Noko, the binge-eating heroine of In Clothes Called Fat; when I read Noko’s story, I had a difficult time distinguishing the author’s feelings about Noko from the other characters’. The other reason I liked Memoirs better: the artwork! The story takes place in a fin-de-siecle brothel in Paris, which provides Anno with a swell excuse to draw extravagant clothing, accessories, and lingerie. Her attention to detail doesn’t end with the clothing, either; the character designs are more soft and sensual than in her earlier series like Flowers & Bees.

Other titles making my best-of list would include Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga, which DC Comics has presented in a smart-looking, unflipped edition; Master Keaton, an older Naoki Urasawa title about a globe-trotting, crime-solving insurance agent; My Love Story!!, a goofy shojo comedy that offers a teenage boy’s perspective on first love; and OPUS, a manga-within-a-manga by the late animator Satoshi Kon. Honorable mention goes to the final volume of Thermae Romae, which managed to wring a surprising amount of story from a slender premise.

If you could only pick one of the titles from your list as “the best manga of 2014,” which one would it be?

Yamazaki_ThermaeRomae_V3_HCBrigid: I think Vinland Saga truly was the best manga of the year, but let me go back to your honorable mention of Thermae Romae. It’s hard to give that the best-manga tag, because the art is a bit odd and the story wobbled all over the place, yet there’s something really wonderful about that manga. I think it reflects our own reality in a way, because just like Lucius, we are taking artifacts from Japanese culture and making them our own—only for us, it’s manga, not bathrooms. I thought this was an amazing series and kudos to Yen Press for publishing it in such a beautiful edition.

Attack on Titan hardly needs a boost from me, but I have to say it was one of the series I turned to when I just wanted to relax and enjoy a good story. I also really liked Nisekoi in the same way—it’s not deep, just a fun read.

Were there any series you were reading just for fun?

Kate: VIZ tends to be my go-to label for fun series. I already mentioned My Love Story!!, which usually makes me laugh out loud, but I also enjoyed the first volume of Assassination Classroom. I won’t make any grand claims for Classroom; the story has a sentimental streak a mile wide, even though the premise is subversive. Koro-sensei’s preposterous assignments, dedication to his craft, and super-human grading skills, however, provide a reliable stream of chuckles even when the author loses his nerve and goes for the “awwww” moment instead of risking offense.

142156906XAnother series in my “just for fun” pile was Naoki Urasawa’s Monster. When VIZ began reissuing Monster last year, I dusted off my old set and revisited it for the first time since 2008. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the series was almost as good as I remembered. The crack pacing and twisty plots held my attention, as did the plight of the enormous cast of supporting characters. (And oh, those characters! No one draws a nose, a brow, or a paunch with the same elan as Urasawa.) The only thing that disappointed was the ending, which felt more suitable for an episode of Scooby-Doo than the conclusion of a thriller exploring the underbelly of the former Soviet bloc.

I was certain that Fumi Yoshinaga’s What Did You Eat Yesterday? would be on my “fun” list, too, but I’ve found it oddly unengaging. The problem, for me, lies with the ratio of interpersonal to culinary shoptalk. Though Shiro and Kenji’s travails as a middle-aged couple are compelling, the endless panels of recipes, food preparation, and grocery shopping are too run-of-the-mill to hold my attention, even if some of the ingredients are exotic from an American’s perspective. I liken it to reading a manga about household chores: unless the character has a talking robot vacuum cleaner or uses depth charges to clear a messy bedroom, it’s hard to make such routine tasks interesting on the printed page.

What series didn’t live up to your expectations?

1421575892Brigid: Shockingly, Naoki Urasawa’s Master Keaton. I really loved his other series (although I agree with you about the end of Monster), so I was really looking forward to this one. The setup is great: The main character is an archaeology professor who moonlights as an insurance investigator, which gives him plenty of excuses to solve mysteries, but the plots have holes you could drive a Mack truck through. Still, Urasawa on his worst day is better than most other creators on their best. His art is great, although not quite as sophisticated as in his later books, and his lead character, who is sort of a combination of Sherlock Holmes and McGyver, is fun to watch.

Another manga that I felt was solid but didn’t quite live up to its hype was Barakamon. The premise is solid: A talented calligrapher punches the wrong guy and exiles himself to a remote island to hone his craft in solitude, but the locals keep intruding into his life. The city-boy-in-the-country humor works, and Satsuki Yoshino does a nice job of establishing a sense of atmosphere with the backgrounds and settings. The weak point was the way figures were drawn—they often looked like piles of clothes with no structure underneath. Also, while I understand the decision to have the locals speak in dialect, I don’t really agree with it. It makes the story hard to read. I think this series is just hitting its stride, though, and I have the second volume queued up on my reading stack.

Jaco 1To end on an up note, though, I already have a favorite manga of 2015, and it’s one I had low expectations for: Jaco the Galactic Patrolman. It’s a one-shot by Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball, which is not really my kind of book, so I didn’t have high expectations, but I was really impressed by the art. Toriyama knows how to set a scene, with clear lines and just the right amount of detail. All his characters looked very different, with strong personalities of their own. The plot is a ridiculous pileup, but Toriyama pulls it off, and his earnest but vain galactic patrolman is a perfect foil for the cranky Omari and the spunky Tights. (Yes, that’s her name.) There is a bit of a Dragon Ball crossover, plus a bonus Dragon Ball story at the end, but you don’t have to have read that series to enjoy this book. It was a real treat, and I highly recommend it for one of those gray winter days when you just need a laugh.

*  *  *  *  *

Now we turn the floor over to you: what were your favorite new manga of 2014? What titles disappointed you the most? Inquiring minds want to know!

VIZ Rescues More CLAMP Titles

shirahime-syoPull up a chair and pour yourself a strong cup of coffee–today’s super-sized post rounds up the best news stories, manga reviews, and personal essays from around the web!

VIZ is reissuing two CLAMP titles from the Tokyopop catalog: Duklyon: CLAMP School Defenders and Shirahime-Syo: Snow Goddess. As with VIZ’s other Tokyopop license rescues, Duklyon and Shirahime-Syo will be digital-only releases.

Sean Gaffney reports on the latest licensing news from Seven Seas and Yen Press, from light novels to 4-koma novelties such as Merman in a Tub. 

Over at Organization Anti-Social Geniuses, Justin Stroman interviews former Tokyopop editor Lillian Diaz-Pryzbyl about her experiences in the manga industry.

Manga scholar Ryan Holmberg posts a lengthy essay on Osamu Tezuka’s Manga Classroom, a how-to series that appeared in Manga Shonen from 1952 to 1954.

Unofficial Hatsune Mix tops this week’s New York Times Manga Bestseller list, followed by the first volume of Assassination Classroom and the second volume of Attack on Titan: No Regrets.

What’s arriving in comic book stores this week? The Manga Bookshelf gang lists the good, the bad, and the ho-hum.

Erica Friedman shares the latest yuri manga news at Okazu.

Khursten Santos has compiled a handy list of “the most dangerous BL titles of 2015,” complete with charts, cover art, and analysis.

Charles Pulliam-Moore explores the world of bara, manga by and for gay men.

In case you missed it: Chris Randle interviews translator Anne Ishii about her experience working on the new anthology Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It.

Using Tokyo Ghoul as a jumping-off point, Tony Yao explores Japanese fans’ changing taste in manga.

Wondering what josei fans are reading in Japan? Heart of Manga explores the current issue of Cookie magazine, from Rin Saito’s Back Alley Animal Clinic to Miho Obana’s Honey Bitter.

On Wednesday, January 14th, Kodansha Comics USA will be holding a special event at the midtown Manhattan Kinokuniya. Expect licensing announcements, manga giveaways, and Q&A with the Kodansha editorial staff.

Manga n00b Christina Negroni files a report on her visit to the Kyoto Manga Museum. While some of her reactions are stereotypical–who knew there was smutty manga?–her discussion of the museum’s collection is worth a read.

News from Japan: As part of its efforts to promote the Kindle platform in Japan, Amazon just launched a new service that gives customers free access to manga magazines via smart phones, tablets, and laptops. Kodansha is also getting into the e-manga game with simultaneous digital and print editions of Monthly Shonen Magazine, Weekly Shonen Magazine, and Young Magazine.

When asked, Which manga series would you most like to see end this year?, Japanese fans overwhelmingly cited Kochira Katsushika-ku Kamearikouen-mae Hashutsujo, which began serialization in 1976, and Detective Conan (a.k.a. Case Closed), which began serialization in 1994. And speaking of final volumes, the following series will be posting their last chapters in 2015: Ai Morinaga’s Kirara no Hoshi, which currently runs in Bessatsu Friend; Ryoichi Ikegami’s Tenshi wa Maioritawhich currently runs in Weekly Manga Times; Mako Kamao’s Ange Verge Linkage, which currently runs in Dragon Age; and Tsutomu Mutsuki’s Is This Girl for Real?!, which currently runs in Comic High!

Reviews: Shaenon Garrity devotes the latest House of 1000 Manga column to Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It. Here at Manga Bookshelf, Michelle Smith, Anna N., and Sean Gaffney offer pithy assessments of D-Frag!, Knights of Sidonia, and other recent releases.

Ken H. on vol. 2 of Ajin: Demi-Human (Sequential Ink)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of Ani-Imo (ANN)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 1 of Assassination Classroom (Comic Book Bin)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of Assassination Classroom (ANN)
Julia Smith on vol. 2 of Black Rose Alice (The Fandom Post)
Matthew Warner on vol. 12 of Blue Exorcist (The Fandom Post)
Chris Kirby on vol. 10 of Bunny Drop (The Fandom Post)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 14 of Dengeki Daisy (Comic Book Bin)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Drug & Drop (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Kate O’Neil on Garden of Words (The Fandom Post)
Kory Cerjak on vol. 2 of Honey Blood (The Fandom Post)
Katie Skelly on In Clothes Called Fat (The Comics Journal)
Joseph Luster on vol. 12 of Knights of Sidonia (Otaku USA)
Sean Gaffney on Legal Drug Omnibus (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of Love at Fourteen (ANN)
Kathryn Hemmann on Marshmallow Bungaku Girl (Contemporary Japanese Literature)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 1 of Master Keaton (Comic Book Bin)
Laura on vol. 1 of Meteor Prince (Heart of Manga)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Meteor Prince (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vols. 1-2 of Monster: Perfect Edition (Manga Worth Reading)
Ash Brown on More of You and Other Stories (Experiments in Manga)
Matthew Warner on vol. 6 of Nisekoi: False Love (The Fandom Post)
Ken H. on vol. 1 of Norigami (Sequential Ink)
Jessica Chautin on vol. 1 of Phantom Thief Jeanne (No Flying No Tights)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 1 of Prophecy (Manga Worth Reading)
Joseph Luster on vol. 1 of Prophecy (Otaku USA)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of Prophecy (ANN)
Erica Friedman on vol. 16 of Rakuen Le Paradis (Okazu)
Julia Smith on vol. 1 of Resident Evil: The Marwha Desire (The Fandom Post)
Matthew Warner on vol. 16 of Rin-ne (The Fandom Post)
Chris Kirby on vol. 21 of Toriko (The Fandom Post)
Megan R. on Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles (The Manga Test Drive)
Ash Brown on vol. 5 of What Did You Eat Yesterday? (Experiments in Manga)
Lori Henderson on vol. 1 of xxxHolic Rei (Manga Xanadu)

New Year, New Manga: January Releases

WDYEY 6We’re launching a new feature here at MangaBlog: An annotated monthly roundup of upcoming releases, based on the Previews catalog. That means the dates are release dates to comic shops and digital media; if you buy your manga in a bookstore, your mileage may vary.

January 7

Vertical

What Did You Eat Yesterday? vol. 6
Fumi Yoshinaga’s slice-of-life tale has gotten a lot of blogger love both for the food and for the nuanced interaction of the central couple. It got plenty of upvotes in our food manga roundtable, and Johanna Draper Carlson said “I adore Fumi Yoshinaga’s art, and her combination of recipe how-tos and small moments of daily life for a gay couple works well,” although Kate Dacey admitted to being “mildly disappointed” in the series in that same post.

Jaco 1Viz

Bleach, vol. 10 (3 in 1)
Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, vol. 1: New series from Akira Toriyama, creator of Dragon Ball Z.
Kiss of the Rose Princess, vol. 2
Meteor Prince, vol. 1: New shoujo series from the creator of Omukae Desu and Pearl Pink.
My Love Story, vol. 3: A MangaBlog favorite!!
Naruto, vol. 10 (3 in 1)
Nisekoi: False Love, vol. 7: High school comedy about the son and daughter of two warring Yakuza families who must pretend to be boyfriend and girlfriend, even though they can’t stand each other… or maybe not.
One Piece, vol. 73

January 14

Noragami 3Kodansha

Noragami: Stray God, vol. 3: This started out in the first volume as sort of a slapstick comedy about a homeless god who is at the very bottom of the totem pole and is picking up odd jobs in order to earn enough to get a place to live and work his way up the ladder. It’s a good premise and I’ll be interested to see how the story develops.
The Seven Deadly Sins, vol. 6

Vertical

My Neighbor Seki, vol. 1: A new comedy about a schoolgirl who cannot ignore her classmate’s elaborate games and projects. The anime, Tonari no Seki-kun, is available on Crunchyroll.

My Neighbor SekiViz

07-Ghost, vol. 14
Case Closed, vol. 53
Ranma 1/2, vol. 6 (2 in 1)

January 21

Kodansha

Missions of Love, vol. 10
My Little Monster, vol. 6

Viz

Monster, vol. 3 (Perfect Edition)
Resident Evil: The Marhawa Desire, vol. 2
Terra Formars, vol. 4

Yen Press

Takahiro_AkameGaKill_V1_FINAL
Akame ga Kill!, vol. 1: A new series for the new year. Here’s the blurb:

Teenage country bumpkin Tatsumi dreams of earning enough money for his impoverished village by working in the Capital— but his short-lived plans go awry when he’s robbed by a buxom beauty upon arrival! Penniless, Tatsumi is taken in by the lovely Lady Aria, but just when his Capital dreams seem in reach yet again, Lady Aria’s mansion is besieged by Night Raid—a team of ruthless assassins who targets high-ranking members of the upper class! As Tatsumi is quick to learn, appearances can be deceiving in the Capital, and this team of assassins just might be…the good guys?!

Black Butler, vol. 19: Everyone’s favorite butler, Sebastian, is kickin’ ass and pourin’ tea in this latest volume, which kicks off a new adventure for him and his boss, Ciel Phantomhive.
Goong, vol. 17: A Shocking Secret is revealed in the latest volume of the long-running manhwa.
Inu x Boku SS, vol. 6: This is a weird ensemble story filled with light and dark moments; watch for a review of the first five volumes soon.
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, vol. 5: The final volume in this series.
The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi-Chan, vol. 9: More 4-koma Haruhi-ness. Can there be such a thing as too much Haruhi? Apparently not.
Milkyway Hitchhiking, vol. 2
No Matter How You Look At It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular, vol. 6
Secret, vol. 1: Like Yoshiki Tonogai’s other manga, Judge and Doubt, this one features schoolchildren in giant animal heads involved in some sort of cat-and-mouse game, this one involving three murderers who are in their midst. This is a two-volume series, with the second one out in June.
Sword Art Online Progressive, vol. 1
Ubel Blatt, vol. 1
Uminkeo When They Cry, Episode 4: Alliance of the Golden Witch
Until Death Do Us Part, vol. 8

January 28

Kodansha

Fairy Tail, vol. 46

Prophecy 1Vertical

Prophecy, vol. 1: Another new series. Here’s the blurb:

A newspaper-masked vigilante who broadcasts his acts of vengeance before committing them. A newly-formed police division tackling the new frontier of internet-based crime. As the sun rises on the Era of Information, can a group of people who found themselves at the bottom of the food chain rattle society through the web and avenge a fallen friend?

Yen Press

Soul Eater, vol. 24: If you have fallen away, it’s time to get back on board, as it’s the beginning of the end—the final showdown begins, and it all comes to a head in volume 25, the last volume in the series.

Quick Reviews and Links, 1/2/15

Did you receive an Amazon or RightStuf gift certificate this holiday? If so, this post is for you! Below, I’ve reviewed the first volumes of three series that debuted in 2014, offering a quick-and-dirty assessment of each. Already read Food Wars? Fear not–I’ve also rounded up reviews from around the web to help you find the perfect title.

thumb-10857-FDW_01_webFood Wars, Vol. 1
Story by Yuto Tsukada, Art by Shun Saeki
Rated T+, for Older Teens
VIZ Manga, $9.99

Food Wars begins with an only-in-manga scenario: Soma Yukihira’s dad shutters the family’s greasy spoon restaurant and lights out for America, leaving his son behind. With no place to go, Soma enrolls at Totsuki Culinary Academy, a hoity-toity cooking school that prides itself on its wealthy alumnae, rigorous curriculum, and high attrition rate. Soma’s working-class background is a major handicap in this environment, but his can-do attitude and culinary instincts allow him to triumph in difficult situations, whether he’s salvaging an over-salted pot roast or wowing an unscrupulous developer with a simple potato dish.

In theory, I ought to hate Food Wars for its cartoonish characters and abundant cheesecake. But here’s the thing: it’s fun. Soma repeatedly shows up bullies and snobs with his ability to transform everyday dishes into haute cuisine, proving that good food doesn’t need to be fancy. (Pro tip: Don’t read Food Wars on an empty stomach.) Though Soma’s foes are stock types–the Busty Bitch, the Rich Mean Boy, the Teacher With Impossibly High Standards–Shun Sakei’s crisp caricatures make them seem like fresh creations. I wish I could say the same for Sakei’s abundant fanservice, which quickly wears out its welcome with porny images of women enjoying Soma’s cooking. These pin-up moments are supposed to be funny, I guess, but the heavy emphasis on heaving cleavage and bare skin seems more like a concession to teenage male taste than an organic part of the story.

The verdict: I can’t decide if Food Wars is a guilty pleasure or a hate read, but I’ve just purchased volumes 2-4.

Manga Dogs 1Manga Dogs, Vol. 1
By Ema Toyama
Rated T, for Teens
Kodansha Comics, $10.99

Manga Dogs has a terrific premise: a teenage artist decides to enroll in her school’s manga program, only to discover that her teacher is inept, and her classmates are pretty-boy otakus with no skill or work ethic. When Kanna’s classmates discover that she’s actually a published artist, Fumio, Fujio, and Shota glom onto her in hopes of breaking into the business–even though her debut series is on the verge of being cancelled.

With such a ripe set-up, it’s a pity that Manga Dogs is DOA. Part of the problem is that the script panders to the reader at every turn, whether it’s poking fun at reverse-harem tropes or saddling the characters with pun-tastic names inspired by famous manga creators. The author spends too much time patting the reader on the back for “getting” the jokes and not enough time writing genuinely funny scenarios or imbuing her characters with more than one personality trait each. The other issue is pacing: the story and artwork are both frenetic, with characters screaming, jumping, and flapping their arms on almost every page. By the end of the third chapter, I felt as if someone had beaten me up for my lunch money while asking me, “Do you think I’m funny? No? Now do you think I’m funny?”

The verdict: Just say no.

1421575906Yukarism, Vol. 1
By Chika Shiomi
Rated T, for Teen
VIZ Media, $9.99

Yukarism combines the supernatural elements of Rasetsu with the historical drama of Sakuran, then adds a dash of gender-bending weirdness for good measure. The story revolves around Yukari, a best-selling author whose novels explore the history of Edo’s red-light district. Though fans attribute the abundant details in his writing to research, Yukari has an even better strategy for learning about the past: he visits it! When he returns to the 1800s, however, Yukari becomes Yumurasaki, a top-earning oiran (or courtesan) enmeshed in a web of political intrigue, lust, and violence.

Given the complexity of the plot, it’s not surprising that the first volume of Yukarism is a bumpy ride. The tone see-saws between broad physical comedy and brooding melodrama, making it difficult to know if Yukari’s plight is being played for laughs or sniffles. The script, on the other hand, is too pointed; manga-ka Chika Shiomi is so intent on telling us what Yukari is thinking and seeing that she forgets the old dictum about showing, not telling. The same kind of editorial interventions result in at least one character waxing profusely about how handsome and cool Yukari is, just in case we haven’t realized that he’s supposed to be handsome and cool. Now that the basic parameters of the story have been established, however, Shiomi can dispense with the heavy-handed dialogue and do what she does best: write sudsy supernatural romances with beautiful characters in beautiful costumes.

The verdict: Pure guilty pleasure.

Reviews: Here at Manga Bookshelf, Michelle Smith, Sean Gaffney, and Anna N. post a fresh crop of mini-reviews. Further afield, Megan Purdy discusses est em’s Carmen, a swell-looking manga treatment of the Bizet opera.

Laura on vol. 1 of Ani-Imo (Heart of Manga)
Kate O’Neil on vol. 2 of Attack on Titan: No Regrets (The Fandom Post)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 1 of Barakamon (Manga Worth Reading)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 6 of A Bride’s Story (Manga Worth Reading)
Jenny Ertel on vols. 1-13 of Dorohedoro (No Flying No Tights)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 14 of Dorohedoro (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 1 of Drug & Drop (Manga Worth Reading)
Johanna Draper Carlson on The Garden of Words (Manga Worth Reading)
Matthew Alexander on vol. 25 of Higurashi: When They Cry (The Fandom Post)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of Milkyway Hitchhiking (ANN)
Kory Cerjak on vol. 1 of Prophecy (The Fandom Post)
Lori Henderson on vols. 1-6 of Strobe Edge (Good Comics for Kids)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 8 of Umineko: When They Cry (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Megan R. on vol. 1 of What Did You Eat Yesterday? (The Manga Test Drive)

Digital’s Latest Tezuka Kickstarter Exceeds Its Goal

Digital Manga’s Kickstarter campaign to publish Osamu Tezuka’s Ludwig has surpassed its goal by $1,000. This was Digital’s comeback round after the failure of its ambitious Tezuka’s World Kickstarter, which would have raised over $500,000 to publish 31 volumes of Tezuka’s work.

The first volume of Attack on Titan tops this week’s New York Times best-seller list. Vol. 68 of Naruto is the number two seller, and the first volume of Assassination Classroom takes the number three slot.

World Trigger, which is carried in both the Japanese and North American versions of Shonen Jump, will skip an issue because of manga-ka Daisuke Ashihara’s health problems.

Erica Friedman posts her final edition of Yuri News Network for 2014.

The Manga bookshelf team discusses this week’s new manga, including digital releases.

Meanwhile, at Manga Xanadu, Lori Henderson looks back at the past week’s new releases.

Ash Brown looks back at the most notable manga of the year at Experiments in Manga.

News from Japan: CLAMP will draw new covers for Cardcaptor Sakura, to celebrate Nakayoshi magazine’s 60th anniversary. Your Lie in April, which Kodansha Comics will start publishing in North America in the spring, is coming to an end. GTO creator Tohru Fujisawa has a new series in the works, Soul Reviver South. MPD-Psycho will end with volume 22, not volume 21, as was originally announced.

Reviews

Anna N on vol. 1 of Assassination Classroom (Manga Report)
Sarah on vol. 14 of Attack on Titan (nagareboshi reviews)
Erica Friedman on the November issue of Comic Yuri Hime (Okazu)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 25 of Fullmetal Alchemist (Lesley’s Musings on Manga)
Erica Friedman on Hakkou Snowflake (Okazu)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of He’s My Only Vampire (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vols. 1 and 2, and Tale 0, of Honey Blood (Comics Worth Reading)
Khursten Santos on In Clothes Called Fat (Otaku Champloo)
Matthew Warner on vol. 2 of Little Battlers Experience (The Fandom Post)
Ash Brown on Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It (Experiments in Manga)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Master Keaton (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Kristin on vol. 4 of Millennium Snow (Comic Attack)
Erica Friedman on MURCIÉLAGO (Okazu)
Lori Henderson on vol. 1 of Nisekoi: False Love (Manga Xanadu)
Anna N on vol. 1 of Yukarism (Manga Report)

Vinland Saga “temporarily suspended”

Vinland_Saga_volume_01_cover

Bad news for Vinland Saga fans: The sixth volume has been removed from sales listings, and Kodansha Comics says the series has been “temporarily suspended.” In case you aren’t already reading the series, Johanna Draper Carlson explains why this is bad.

Good news for Shonen Jump readers: This week’s issue will include the one-shot story RKD-EK9 by Medaka Box writer NisiOisin and Death Note artist Takeshi Obata.

The Manga Bookshelf team look back at the most important manga of 2014.

Also at Manga Bookshelf, Erica Friedman has a nice introduction to the Japanese magazine Dengeki Daioh.

Twenty-five years after his death, Osamu Tezuka lives on in Japan, celebrated by murals, subway chimes, inventors, and the merchants in his old neighborhood, who trade Astro Money for civic-minded acts and serve up his favorite dish.

Erica Friedman posts a fresh edition of Yuri Network News at Okazu.

Happy blogiversary to Organization Anti-Social Geniuses, which turned four years old last week; if you haven’t checked it out from the links here, go take a look now!

News from Japan: Naoki Urasawa is taking a break from Billy Bat; the series, which has already had several interruptions, will go on hiatus until April. Library Wars: Love & War may just have ended in Japan, but artist Kiiro Yumi already has a new series, Toshokan Sensō: Love & War Bessatsu-hen, in the works. Plans are in the work for a Kabuki play based on Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece.

Reviews: The Manga Bookshelf team posts another round of quick reviews in their latest Bookshelf Briefs. Ash Brown looks back at The Week in Manga at Experiments in Manga.

Ash Brown on vol. 1 of Afterschool Nightmare (Experiments in Manga)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 3 of Food Wars (Comics Worth Reading)
Anna N. on vols. 1 and 2 of Honey Blood (Manga Report)
Johanna Draper Carlson on Mail (Comics Worth Reading)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 2 of Manga Dogs (Comics Worth Reading)
Lori Henderson on vol. 1 of Noragami (Manga Xanadu)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 4 of Say I Love You (Comics Worth Reading)
Erica Freidman on Stretch (Okazu)
Lori Henderson on vols. 1-3 of Sweet Rein (Good Comics for Kids)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 3 of Sword Art Online: Fairy Dance (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Erica Friedman on vol. 3 of Tsuki to Sekai to Etoile (Okazu)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 8 of Umineko: When They Cry (ANN)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 5 of What Did You Eat Yesterday? (Comics Worth Reading)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of Yukarism (ANN)