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).
Good 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)
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.
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.
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)
Tokyo 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.
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.
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.
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)
Manga-ka Yoshihiro Tatsumi has died at the age of 79. Paul Gravett broke the news on his blog, saying that he got an e-mail from director Eric Khoo, who directed a documentary about the artist, saying simply, “Sensei is dead.”
Tatsumi was a pioneer of manga for adults, which he called “gekiga,” or “dramatic pictures,” as opposed to “manga,” which means “whimsical pictures.” During the course of his long career he won numerous awards, including the Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize (Japan), the Angouleme Prix Regards Sur le Monde (France), and numerous Eisner, Harvey, and Ignatz awards (U.S.). Drawn and Quarterly has published six of his works in English: The Push Man and Other Stories, Abandon the Old in Tokyo, Good-Bye, Black Blizzard, A Drifting Life, and Fallen Words.
As word of his death spread, several people shared their stories of meeting Tatsumi.
Peggy Burns of Drawn & Quarterly, Tatsumi’s publisher:
I was lucky enough to spend two weeks with him and his wife on his two trips to North America, two of the most fulfilling times of my career. He was gentle, sweet and kind and would always get me to tell him stories about my kids. Anne Ishii and I spent two days with him stock signing in NYC, where he would do the most ornate drawings in each books, over hundred of books received this special treatment. We kept trying to get him to speed up, and tried to tell him he didn’t have to do such ornate drawings. He told us: If when in his twenties, when he was broke and trying to make it as an artist that in his 70s, he and his wife would be flown to the USA, the very least he can do, is a drawing for each of the people who will buy the books.
Alex Cox remembers meeting Tatsumi and his wife when they visited his Brooklyn comics shop. At that time, Tatsumi was only beginning to realize how popular his early works were in this country:
As Tatsumi left, I had no idea how to address him, unaccustomed as I am to Japanese etiquette. I bowed and said “Arigato, Tatsumi-Sensei,” hopefully using the correct honorific (and pronunciation) to address a master of his craft. He stalled momentarily before shaking my hand warmly.
Closing in on age 70, he was still getting used to the idea that he was considered Sensei by thousands of people on the other side of the world.
Adrian Tomine, Tatsumi’s editor at Drawn and Quarterly:
It didn’t take long for me to discover that, despite differences of age, geography, history, etc., Tatsumi-sensei reminded me very much of all the other great cartoonists I’ve had the fortune of becoming friends with. He could be taciturn and occasionally inscrutable, but in the right circumstances, he’d open up with humor, inquisitiveness, and an unflagging excitement about the process of making comics. I’d studied and learned from his work since I was a teenager, but I think Tatsumi’s humility, generosity, and artistic determination were as inspirational to me as any of his stories. I had several occasions–usually when one of us was dashing off to catch a plane–to offer my best attempt at a bow and to say “thank you,” but I always felt that I hadn’t been clear or emphatic enough, and that he was too modest to fully accept all that I was thanking him for.
Here’s a handful of other links about Tatsumi; post your favorites in the comments and I’ll add them here.
Deb Aoki’s 2009 interview with Tatsumi
Ryan Sands covers Tatsumi’s 2009 appearance at TCAF
The Toronto Star’s 2009 interview with Tatsumi
Dwight Garner’s review of A Drifting Life in the New York Times
Update: Here are some more posts and tributes that have appeared in the week after Tatsumi’s death:
Jocelyne Allen, who was Tatsumi’s translator at TCAF and also the translator of Fallen Words, shares some memories and discusses his short story collection Kessakusen
Ryan Holmberg’s obituary at The Comics Journal, a detailed account of Tatsumi’s life that also puts his accomplishments in context
Gary Groth’s very in-depth interview with Tatsumi, first published in 2007
Bruce Weber’s obituary in the New York Times
Elaine Woo’s obituary in the Los Angeles Times