Bookmarked: Satoshi Kon-a-thon

It’s not every day that an American publisher releases a manga by the late, great Satoshi Kon, so Brigid and I decided to mark the occasion with a roundtable discussion. Joining us is David Brothers, one our favorite comics journalists. David has written for Comics Alliance, Pop Culture Shock, Publisher’s Weekly, Wired, and The Atlantic Monthly, and currently works in the comics industry.

On our plate: Tropic of the Sea, which was published by Vertical Comics in 2013, and OPUS, which arrives in comic book stores today courtesy of Dark Horse. Both works date to an early stage of Satoshi Kon’s career, but explore themes present in such films as Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, and Paprika–most notably the boundary between reality and imagination.

KATE: Let’s start the conversation with a basic question: which did you enjoy more, OPUS or Tropic of the Sea, and why?

OpusDAVID: I definitely liked OPUS a lot more than Tropic of the Sea, I think owing to the fact that while both are stories in well-worn genres, OPUS is way more up my alley in general, since it was at least partly about storytelling as a creator. Tropic of the Sea felt fairly pat, with precious few surprises all the way down to the last panel. OPUS follows the blueprint of other stories in its genre, but it’s also funnier and warmer somehow, I suppose because it’s about the nature of free will and humanity, and to tackle those points you kinda have to have characters that are entertaining to watch.

I actually read these books back-to-back the first time I read both, Tropic of the Sea and then OPUS, with a break for cooking and dinner in-between. OPUS did a great job of sparking my imagination. I think it’s cool that the story works as both how we read it, as the story of a creator in his creation, and also a crazy deus ex machina ending for the manga Resonance. Tropic of the Sea sorta is what it is, which is a well-executed story to be sure, but OPUS goes places I really enjoy.

I’m focusing on OPUS, but I didn’t dislike Tropic of the Sea. It’s good, but it’s just not quite my bag. How was it for you two?

BRIGID: Wow, I’m actually feeling the opposite: I really liked Tropic of the Sea because I thought that it was very well done, even if the story had been done before. I’m finding OPUS much harder to follow, though. Maybe I’m just not good with action stories, but it seems like things are constantly exploding and flying apart without any visible cause. And right at the end of chapter 1 there’s this weird non-sequitur where Satoko’s leg is trapped under a stone column and then, without anything changing in the panel that I could see, she just pushed it off and jumped up. On the one hand, this manga has a pretty sophisticated sense of space, but on the other hand, I’m having a lot of trouble following the motion of people and things within that space, and in particular, why things are blowing up. As I write this, I haven’t finished the manga, so maybe there’s a resolution or explanation I’m not seeing yet, but right now it’s pulling me out of the story to have to stop and figure out what just happened. It’s weird, too, because you would expect an animator to be tighter about that kind of thing.

KATE: My experience tracks with yours, David: I liked OPUS more than Tropic of the Sea. I found the premise of Tropic of the Sea a little too familiar, in large part because the characters were all such obvious types–the skeptic, the unscrupulous developer, the wise old-timer–that none registered as individuals. The story’s length was also a contributing factor, as Kon didn’t have enough space to flesh out the cast beyond their specific plot functions. It’s a shame that the script wasn’t better, as the illustrations create a palpable sense of place.

As for OPUS, it irresistibly reminded me of the a-ha video for “Take on Me” and the Will Farrell/Emma Thompson flick Stranger Than Fiction, with a pinch of AKIRA for seasoning. I normally find these kind of meta-exercises tedious, but Kon infuses the story with a sense of playful urgency that thwarts the urge to deconstruct every page. (For me, at least; your mileage may vary.)

DAVID: Oh, I’m definitely knee-deep in that urge to deconstruct. Resonance feels like the anime and manga that was around when I was getting into this stuff, something halfway between Ryoichi Ikegami’s ’80s realism and Masamune Shirow’s willingness to blend weird tangents into his hard sci-fi worldbuilding. The haircuts, the fashion, the motivations, the poorly thought-out backstories, and somehow even the fourth wall breaking action are all my bag. Which I think is a big part of why I share the constant feeling of Things Are Happening All Over with you, Brigid, but have a different response to it. The story-in-the-story is something I know well and have read often (the cop mentor, the thug friend, the weird way the heroine keeps getting rescued instead of rescuing!), so I buy into that, and through that the rest of the story, maybe a little harder than others would. This feels a lot like a lost chapter of a comic I never read as a kid, from late enough in the story that doing a daring metafictional “let’s talk about comics stories by way of being in a comics story!” tale was not just feasible, but something you could dedicate 300+ pages to.

KATE: I agree with Brigid that the draftsmanship in Tropic of the Sea is crisper–in fact, I think that’s part of the reason that I’m so focused on the creakier aspects of the story. The illustrations are almost… well, “invisible” isn’t quite the right word, but they don’t call attention to themselves in the same way that the illustrations in OPUS do. I don’t always respond well to flashy artwork, but I found OPUS engaging enough that I didn’t linger on the busier images.

As for the story, I’m with you, David: OPUS is a fun throwback to the kind of manga that Dark Horse and VIZ were publishing in the 1990s, right before the Sailor Moon/InuYasha revolution. OPUS isn’t as gonzo as some of the Koike/Ikegami manga from that era, but it still has that same breathless, hyperbolic quality. I’m kind of surprised that I liked it better than Tropic of the Sea, actually, as Tropic seems like it would be more in my wheelhouse. But I thought the script was too on-the-nose–a little ambiguity would have made the ending more satisfying, and more in keeping with Kon’s mature work. (An aside: I wondered what Rumiko Takahashi could have done with the premise of Tropic of the Sea… sigh.)

Switching gears, how did you react to the ending? Was Dark Horse right to include Kon’s unfinished sketches, or should the manga have been left incomplete?

DAVID: I came into OPUS cold, not even knowing it was unfinished, so I was both surprised, disappointed, and glad to see them. Surprised at the lack of an ending, disappointed at the same, but glad there was some kind of resolution, even if it’s just a metafictional one. For a story about stories to end with “Welp, and I guess I just didn’t finish this one, but I might one day!” is the kind of serendipity you can’t plan for, but is sometimes thematically correct for the work. It worked here, and I especially liked to see the pages Kon did with no faces. I thought that was a cool and creepy touch, and when combined with the rest of the backmatter, it made for a satisfying, though not all the way satisfying, ending.

The Problem with Doraemon

OpusZainab Akhtar posts a preview of Satoshi Kon’s Opus, which is due out this week from Dark Horse.

At Eeeper’s Choice, Phillip weighs in on Digital’s new Tezuka Kickstarter, which is considerably more modest than the last one.

Doraemon is the most iconic children’s character in Japan, if not all of Asia, so why have publishers been so slow to bring him over here? Roland Kelts looks at the problem, with input from translators Matt Alt (who is translating the manga, which is being released digitally), and Matt Thorn.

This week’s Pick of the Week at Manga Bookshelf comes down to two very different manga.

Erica Friedman recommends the digital magazine Sparkler Monthly.

Laura looks at this month’s new shoujo manga releases at Heart of Manga.

At Organization Anti-Social Geniuses, Justin and Manjiorin discuss five fears they have about buying manga. Any dedicated manga reader will relate!

A Library Girl notes a mini-revolt going on in the Crunchyroll forums because the company did not offer its traditional Black Friday discount on the All Access pass. Why are we writing about this on a manga blog? Because the All Access pass is what you use to read manga; if a substantial number of customers drop their subscriptions or convert to the anime-only service, it could hurt their digital manga program.

Peking University in Beijing, China, has opened a manga library.

News from Japan: This year’s best selling manga were One Piece, with 11,885,957 volumes sold, and Attack on Titan, with 11,728,368, but the numbers drop off quickly after that; Naruto, in the number six slot, had only half the sales of One Piece. Princess Resurrection manga-ka Yasunori Mitsunaga has a new series, Kako to Nise Tantei (Kako and Detective Nise), set to debut in the next issue of Young Jump.

Reviews: The Manga Bookshelf bloggers round up some quick takes on recent releases in the latest edition of Bookshelf Briefs. Ash Brown sums up a week’s worth of manga reading at Experiments in Manga. At Brain Vs. Book, Jocelyne Allen reviews Fumiko Fumi’s Memento Mori, which hasn’t been translated into English. Johnanna Draper Carlson takes a look at the how-to book Kawaii Manga: Adorable! at Comics Worth Reading.

Ash Brown on All You Need Is Kill (Experiments in Manga)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 2 of Black Rose Alice (The Comic Book Bin)
Erica Friedman on the September issue of Comic Yuri Hime (Okazu)
Sakura Eries on vol. 6 of GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class (The Fandom Post)
TSOTE on Heureka (Three Steps Over Japan)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 1 of Manga Dogs (Comics Worth Reading)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 14 of Neon Genesis Evangelion (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 16 of Rin-ne (The Comic Book Bin)
A Library Girl on vols. 7-9 of The Story of Saiunkoku (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)

VIZ, DMP, and Crunchyroll Announce New Titles


In the aftermath of its failed Kickstarter campaign to raise $380,000, DMP has announced a more modest project: the publication of Ludwig B., Osamu Tezuka’s two-volume biography of Ludwig van Beethoven. DMP seems to have listened to fans’ complaints about previous fundraising efforts, offering more low-cost options for supporting the project and getting paper copies of the books. Johanna Draper Carlson weighs in on the new campaign.

VIZ announced the acquisition of Yoshiaki Sukeno’s Twin Star Exorcists, which will join the Shonen Jump imprint in summer 2015, while Crunchyroll recently added Hoshino Taguchi’s Maga-Tsuki to its growing manga catalog.

Holy guacamole, Batman–Yuusuke Murata’s One-Punch Man has sold more than 4.5 million volumes since its 2012 debut!

Books-a-Million reports that third-quarter manga sales were strong, buoyed by consumer interest in Attack on Titan.

And speaking of Attack on Titan, the latest volume tops this week’s New York Times Manga Bestseller list, followed by new installments of Nisekoi: False Love, Bleach, and Fairy Tail.

Wondering what books arrive at the comic shop next week? The Manga Bookshelf gang sifts the wheat from the chaff.

Japanese tennis pro Kei Nishikori finished a strong year on the court with an awesome off-the-court surprise: a portrait drawn by Prince of Tennis author Takeshi Konomi.

How have your favorite manga characters’ appearances changed through the years? Brian Ashcraft offers side-by-side comparisons of Sgt. Frog, Shin-chan, and other popular characters from the 1980s and 1990s.

White Fox, a Marvel superhero created specifically for the Korean webtoon market, will make her Stateside debut with the Avengers. The character was inspired by the kumiho, a nine-tailed fox demon from Korean folklore.

News from Japan: Taishi Tsutsui will be penning an official Nisekoi spin-off for Shonen Jump+; the first chapter goes live on Monday. Also launching a new series is Kaiji Kawaguchi, author of Zipang, a time-traveling adventure set at the Battle of Midway. His new project, which will appear in Big Comic, will focus on a state-of-the-art Japanese aircraft carrier.

Reviews: Break out the ice pick and crampons–Shaenon Garrity’s latest House of 1000 Manga column examines Jiro Taniguchi’s mountaineering saga The Summit of the GodsHere at MangaBlog, our colleagues Melinda Beasi, Sean Gaffnery, Anna N., and Michelle Smith joined me and Brigid for a conversation about our favorite food manga.

Sakura Eries on vol. 6 of Are You Alice? (The Fandom Post)
Nic Wilcox on vols. 3-5 of Are You Alice? (No Flying No Tights)
Ken H. on vol. 4 of Brave 10 (Sequential Ink)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 6 of A Bride’s Story (Lesley’s Musings on Anime & Manga)
A Library Girl on vols. 9-10 of Chi’s Sweet Home (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 4 of Gangsta (Comic Book Bin)
Kory Cerjak on vol. 1 of Honey Blood (The Fandom Post)
Megan R. on Joan (The Manga Test Drive)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 16 of Kamisama Kiss (Lesley’s Musings on Anime & Manga)
Megan R. on Ludwig II (The Manga Test Drive)
Lori Henderson on Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice (Good Comics for Kids)
Guy Thomas on Opus (Panel Patter)

Bookmarked: Setting the Table

On the eve of Thanksgiving, we decided to whet our appetite for tomorrow’s dinner with a conversation about our favorite food manga. Our guests around the table today are the Manga Bookshelf bloggers: Melinda Beasi, who runs Manga Bookshelf and blogs there as well, Ash Brown of Experiments in Manga, Michelle Smith of Soliloquy in Blue, Anna N of Manga Report, and Sean Gaffney of A Case Suitable for Treatment. Bon appetit!

Michelle: I’ve thoroughly been enjoying What Did You Eat Yesterday?, especially the idea that this is everyday fare that a person on a budget might be able to make, were they so ambitious. Somehow it’s so refreshing to see someone using powder mixes! I love Shiro’s shopping trips and his sense of triumph upon scoring a good deal. My one regret is that I really can’t imagine how the vast majority of what he makes actually tastes.

Another food manga I enjoy, somewhat despite myself, is Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma. I kind of feel like I should be more bothered by the fan service than I am, but to me it seems purposefully ridiculous and not meant to titillate, but I suppose it could be doing both things at once. Anyway, this manga is basically Prince of Tennis with food. You’ve got the cocky protagonist, whose father possibly is a famous cooking ninja or something, who immediately takes on and bests his classmates at an elite culinary school. And being that it’s kind of sports manga with food, it is completely up my alley.

oishinbo1_coverAsh: I love food and I love manga, and so when the two come together in the same work I’m always going to check it out. More often than not, I end up enjoying it, too. My first food manga was Oishinbo: A la Carte, and it remains one of my favorite food series. With its food and family drama, Oishinbo is both informational and highly entertaining. Occasionally it can be controversial as well. Despite being a best-selling food manga in Japan, back in May publication of the series was suspended after its depiction of health issues in the Fukushima area. The series can be very opinionated, and at times those opinions aren’t widely held or popular. Another example is the support shown in favor of whaling. But I appreciate a work that can take a strong stance; even if I don’t necessarily agree with it I usually learn something by reading it.

Currently my go-to food manga is What Did You Eat Yesterday? Granted, it’s not just the food that particularly appeals to me about the series; I also welcome its realistic portrayal of gay life in contemporary Japan. Food frequently has an important role to play in Fumi Yoshinaga’s manga, as can be seen in Antique Bakery and Not Love But Delicious Foods among others, but What Did You Eat Yesterday? takes it to a whole new level. I know plenty of readers who don’t really enjoy the detailed food preparation and recipes found in the manga, but I’m one of those people who can happily watch cooking and food shows for hours at a time (if I actually had the time, that is) so it doesn’t bother me at all. And I especially like how the creation of a dish is shown to be a method of personal expression and communication.

What Did You Eat Yesterday 5Melinda: I’ll pipe up here to add myself to the list of folks who are rabidly consuming What Did You Eat Yesterday? There’s pretty much nothing I love more than the combination of Fumi Yoshinaga and food. As a food-lover who does not cook, I suppose I especially appreciate the fact that even food-preparation serves to move the story along in a Yoshinaga manga, so I’m never left to face my inadequacies in the kitchen alone; there’s always a little bit of human drama to keep me company. Actually, I think that’s a significant part of what always drew me to CLAMP’s xxxHolic as well. It’s not a food manga by any means, but there’s an enormous amount of food and food-preparation involved in the story. These things are inextricable from the character’s lives.

Brigid: Michelle, I’m right there with you on Food Wars. It’s so over the top that it’s hard to take seriously, and it must be said that the delicious food has the same effect on guys as on girls, although somehow it’s funnier with the guys. Anyway, it’s one of those manga I enjoy in spite of my better judgment. And the food is interesting.

I’m going to toss out a few more titles to get your reactions: Back when it first came out, I read the first couple of volumes of Yakitate!! Japan, a shonen manga about a guy who wants to create the national bread of Japan—it’s funny because Japan is a rice culture, not a bread culture—and it was sort of interesting how he had these bread-baking beatdowns with other would-be bakers. Then there’s Kitchen Princess, a super-shoujo drama about a good-hearted orphan girl, Najika, who has perfect taste, the way some people have perfect pitch, and can make really delicious, classic dishes out of cheap ingredients. This story is very much about the emotional side of food, as it’s basically a soap opera in which all problems are solved by Najika’s cooking. I also really like Toriko, the story of gourmet hunters in search of the world’s rarest and most elusive foods, just because the plants and animals the author comes up with are so imaginative. And finally, an oldie but a goodie, Iron Wok Jan, sort of a manga version of Iron Chef that’s set in a Chinese restaurant. Does anyone have any thoughts on these, or am I the only one who read them?

Michelle: I have the complete runs of Kitchen Princess and Yakitate!! Japan, but haven’t read them. I did, however, watch a few episodes of the latter’s anime and what I remember also kind of reminds me of Food Wars, in that it’s a big sports manga-ish (maybe what I really mean here is simply that it’s thoroughly shounen) and there are over-the-top reactions to food, though not so much fanservicey as wacky. Like Drops of God or something. :) I definitely intend to read both series one of these days.

Kitchen_Princess_vol01Ash: Yakitate!! Japan is a series I’ve been meaning to read, but haven’t quite got around to yet. Kitchen Princess, on the other hand, I have read. It’s deliciously melodramatic, and the food is tasty, too! I’ve actually seen more of the Toriko anime than I’ve read of the manga, but I do enjoy the series. It’s a lot of fun. As you mentioned, Brigid, the flora and fauna are incredibly imaginative. The gourmet hunters and their prey are both fantastically over-the-top. And I really like Toriko himself—he’s a powerful and skilled fighter, but he also has a respect for life and a childlike delight in food. It’s been a while since I’ve read Iron Wok Jan (it was one of my very first food manga), but I do remember some pretty epic and intense battles in that series, too!

Anna: I enjoyed the first few volumes of Yakitate!! Japan, mostly due to the horrible puns and the baking competitions. Iron Wok Jan I read several volumes of many years ago, and it had a bit of a fiercer edge to the cooking competitions, just because the main character was so intense. There was a little less humor and more over the top cooking aggression from what I remember from that series. I read most of Kitchen Princess, and I enjoyed being able to read a foodie manga in a shoujo setting, because it seems like more often when food manga comes out here, it comes with an Iron Chef-like series of shonen competitions.

I have to say that for food manga now I do prefer the works of Fumi Yoshinaga, just because her enthusiasm for food is so genuine it ends up getting reflected so well in the way her characters react to their meals. I’m a little less than enthused about Food Wars due to the fanservice, but there still is something entertaining about the combination of cooking mastery and an elite school for young chefs.

I do also enjoy food manga that are a bit more didactic or instructive in addition to the variations of battle manga. I was really glad to have the chance to read some translations of Ekiben Hitoritabi when JManga was up and running. I’ve also enjoyed a few volumes of Drops of God and Oishinbo.

Sean: I enjoy a lot of food manga, but not necessarily for the food—I’m honestly a McNuggets kind of guy. I like how it shows that anything can be adapted to fit the manga style. The titles like Food Wars and Yakitate Japan all are very much shonen fighting/training/making friends series, just about food.

Most of the seinen food manga we’ve seen consist of “talk about food preparation/eat food/exult about how delicious food is”, with close ups of amazed faces. Though Yoshinaga’s What Did You Eat Yesterday? at least does have characters, much as I don’t care for Shiro. With Oishinbo, characterization was so irrelevant that Viz could simply release seven omnibuses from all over the spectrum, with Kurita going from vaguely attracted to Yamaoka to already having kids and back depending on the food “theme.” (Also, lots of Shiros in food manga.)

As for series like Mixed Vegetables and Kitchen Princess, the food is a vital ingredient, but it isn’t the plot, like with Food Wars or What Did You Eat Yesterday? The standard shoujo romance and high school traumas take the front seat, though food may be used to advance those plots.

And josei, well, that’s Yoshinaga as well, right? Not Love But Delicious Foods?

Michelle: Oh, Ekiben Hitoritabi! I forgot about that one, but I also really liked it. Too, JManga had Gokudou Meshi, in which a bunch of prisoners had a yearly tradition of telling each other about delicious food they had eaten. I’m sad I won’t get to read more of either of those.

Kate: I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one mourning the demise of JManga–that was my go-to source for off-beat food manga! I was a big fan of both Ekiben Hitoritabi and Gokudou Meshi, in part because neither had fanservice, over-the-top battle sequences, or idiot savants whose one great gift was making awesome cakes. Of the two, I had a slight preference for Gokudou, as the script was a deft blend of slapstick comedy and culinary shop-talk, with characters waxing poetic about their last meal “on the outside,” or favorite comfort food. Ekiben unfolded at a more leisurely pace that, at times, bordered on snoozy; how much is there to say about the food at train stations? Still, Ekiben captured the feeling of train travel, and made me sad that the food options at Penn Station are so abysmal.

gourmetAnother JManga title that I loved was Kodoko no Gourmet, quite possibly the least manly-man title ever illustrated by Jiro Taniguchi. Its hero, Goro Inoshigara, is a traveling salesman who spends most of his time checking out new restaurants in each city he visits. (If he actually transacts any business during the course of the series, I missed it.) Each chapter is just a few pages long, but gives us a window into a variety of different types of restaurants, from mom-and-pop noodle joints to upscale bistros. Taniguchi does a terrific job of conveying the atmosphere of each place that Goro visits–something that frequently gets overlooked in competition-oriented food manga, where the tastiness of the food trumps all other considerations.

I’d also like to join the chorus of folks praising Fumi Yoshinaga. Though I share Sean’s opinion of What Did You Eat Yesterday?, I adored Not Love But Delicious Foods. The story consists of fifteen vignettes, each centered around a particular eatery: a Korean restaurant, a French bistro, a bagel bakery. (Call me a recovering New Yorker, but I hate to think of what passes for a decent bagel in Tokyo.) The meals are an important ingredient in every story, but it’s the conversation that really pops; Yoshinaga does a great job of demonstrating the power of wine and food in bringing people together, smoothing over disagreements, and giving people license to break taboos.

Still hungry? Back in 2012, Khursten Santos hosted a Manga Moveable Feast devoted to food manga; click here to view the entire archive.

DMP Kickstarter Fails, Yen Confirms New Licenses

Johanna Draper Carlson has some commentary on Digital Manga’s Tezuka World Kickstarter, which failed to reach its goal last week. Lori Henderson shares her thoughts as well at Manga Xanadu.

Some sharp-eyed folks spotted a couple of unannounced manga on Amazon, and Yen Press confirmed it: They will publish Sword Art Online: Girls Ops in May and Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Rebellion Story in June. They also announced that they will publish Tomoco Kanemaki’s Kingdom Hearts light novel series in a single volume.

What’s good this week? The Manga Bookshelf bloggers have some recommendations.

Lori Henderson rounds up the Viz and New York Times best-sellers in one handy post.

Erica Friedman looks at the latest issue of Eureka Magazine, which focuses on “The Current State of Yuri Culture,” and she updates us on just that with the latest edition of Yuri Network News.

Help Ash Brown decide what series to write about next at Experiments in Manga.

Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Shinji Ikari Raising Project will end this summer.

News from Japan: Matsuri Hino wrapped up Vampire Knight a little while ago, but now she’s back with a new chapter that will run in the March issue of LaLaDX. Shueisha’s Miracle Jump magazine announced that there are now 4.5 million volumes of One Punch Man out there. Crunchyroll has a preview of Peach-Pit’s first shonen manga, Wandering Wonder World, which will debut in the January issue of Shonen Ace. Kaiji Kawaguchi (Zipang, Eagle) will launch a new series, Kūbo Ibuki (Aircraft Carrier Ibuki), in Big Comic Magazine in December.

Reviews: Streamline your reading by checking out this week’s Bookshelf Briefs at Manga Bookshelf. Ash Brown has more short takes and a roundup of a week’s worth of manga reading.

Lori Henderson on Another (Manga Xanadu)
Sarah on vol. 18 of Black Butler (nagareboshi reviews)
Anna N on vol. 2 of Black Rose Alice (Manga Report)
Erica Friedman on vol. 2 of Bousou Girlsteki Mousou Renaiteki Suteki Project (Okazu)
Kory Cerjak on vol. 5 of Deadman Wonderland (The Fandom Post)
Damion Julien-Rohman on Gangsta (The State Press)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 26 of Higurashi: When They Cry (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Matthew Warner on vol. 5 of Inu x Boku (The Fandom Post)
Matthew Warner on vol. 4 of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (The Fandom Post)
Steve Bennett on vol. 1 of LBX: New Dawn Raisers (ICv2)
Kate O’Neil on vol. 17 of Natsume’s Book of Friends (The Fandom Post)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 25 of Pokemon Adventures (Lesley’s Musings on Manga)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 1 of Resident Evil: The Marhawa Desire (I Reads You)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 17 of Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee (The Comic Book Bin)
Ash Brown on vol. 5 of Vinland Saga (Experiments in Manga)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 7 of Voice Over (The Comic Book Bin)

More from Masashi Kishimoto

zone00Viz has picked up Zone-00, originally licensed by Tokyopop, as a digital release.

Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto talks about his plans for the next few months, which include a Naruto spinoff that will launch in April, some other Naruto-related business, and spending some quality time with his wife and child. He will start working on a brand-new series in the summer, but he cautions fans that he is turning 40 and may not be up to the rigors of another monthly series.

Wondering what’s in the pipeline for next year? The Fandom Post shares VIZ’s April 2015 release list.

If you’re a Weekly Shonen Jump reader, you may have noticed that VIZ just added a new title to the mix, Takujo no Ageha: The Table Tennis of Ageha. In the coming weeks, VIZ will launch two more series: Ryohei Yamamoto’s E-ROBOT (11/24) and Nobuaki Enoki and Takeshi Obata’s Gakkyu Hotei: School Judgment (12/1).

The Manga Bookshelf gang strongly recommend the latest volume of Takehiko Inoue’s Real, which arrived in stores this week, and preview next week’s coming attractions.

The Q2 gallery in Los Angeles threw a party to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Dragon Ball‘s publication.

In her latest House of 1000 Manga column, Shaenon Garrity explores the GEN Manga catalog.

Good news: translator Jocelyne Allen is posting reviews again, focusing on offbeat, funny, and weird manga that haven’t yet crossed the Pacific. On her nightstand: Mahoshojo Ore, a series featuring magical girl men, and Yume Kara Sameta, a collection of short stories by Natsujikei Miyazaki.

News from Japan: Ken Akamatsu, Tetsuya Chiba, and Hideaki Anno were among the manga and anime insiders who were guests at the first meeting of the Japanese Parliamentary Association for manga, anime, and games, a.k.a. Manga Giren. The Association, which is mostly made up of councilors from the Liberal Democratic Party, will promote tax breaks for the industry and work toward relaunching the mothballed International Media Art General Center.

Rei Toma, author of Dawn of the Arcana, will be launching a new series in the February issue of Shogakukan’s Monthly Cheese! Also in the works: an anime adaptation of Rumiko Takahashi’s Rin-ne, which will debut in spring 2015.

Reviews: Remember Top Shelf’s AX anthology? One of the stand-out contributions, “Rainy Day Blouse and The Umbrella,” was by Akino Kondoh. Indie publisher Retrofit Comics has just published a new collection of her stories in English, with translations by manga scholar Ryan Holmberg. Alex Hoffman has a review at Sequential Slate.

Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Ani-Emo (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 12 of Blue Exorcist (Comic Book Bin)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 23 of Full Metal Alchemist (Lesley’s Musings on Anime & Manga)
Sakura Eries on vol. 16 of Goong (The Fandom Post)
Megan R. on Lovers in the Night (Manga Test Drive)
Sean Gaffney on vols. 1-2 of Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 24 of Naruto (Lesley’s Musings on Anime & Manga)
Nicholas Smith on Naruto (Ka Leo)
Ken H. on vols. 6-7 of No. 6 (Sequential Ink)
Mad Manga on Takujo no Ageha (Cartoon Geek Corner)
Melinda Beasi on They Were Eleven (Manga Bookshelf)
Matthew Warner on vol. 00 of Ubel Blatt (The Fandom Post)