SJ to Publish Boruto One-Shot and Series

Boruto

Shonen Jump will publish a Boruto one-shot, by Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto, and an ongoing Boruto series by Mikio Ikemoto and Ukyō Kodachi, this spring, simultaneously with the Japanese releases. [Anime News Network]

This was an unusually good year for new manga series; my roundup of my favorites includes Planetes, A Silent Voice, and Prophecy—plus a lot more. [Barnes and Noble Sci-Fi/Fantasy Blog]

I also picked some notable titles from this month’s new releases. [Barnes and Noble Sci-Fi/Fantasy Blog]

Log Horizon creator Mamare Tounu was placed under house arrest on Thursday due to allegations of tax evasion; the Toyko Public Prosecutor’s Office claims that his rights management company, m2ladeJAM, owes 30 million yen ($250,000) in unpaid taxes. In a statement made last April, when the case first came to light, Tounu said that he had cooperated with investigators and paid his back taxes. [Anime News Network]

The Manga Bookshelf team looks at the coming week’s new manga releases—both of them. [Manga Bookshelf]

Erica Friedman checks in with the latest edition of Yuri Network News. [Okazu]

Reviews

Ash Brown on vol. 7 of Afterschool Nightmare (Experiments in Manga)
Matthew Warner on vol. 4 of Akame ga KILL! (The Fandom Post)
A Library Girl on Alice in the Country of Clover (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
A Library Girl on Alice in the Country of Hearts: The Clockmaker’s Story (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
A Library Girl on vols. 1 and 2 of Are You Alice? (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
A Library Girl on vol. 2 of Attack on Titan: No Regrets (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
A Library Girl on vols. 15-20 of Black Butler (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Anna N on vol. 6 of Black Rose Alice (Manga Report)
Matthew Warner on vol. 8 of Bloody Cross (The Fandom Post)
Kristin on vol. 1 of Bloody Mary (Comic Attack)
Anna N. on Boys Over Flowers, Season 2 (Manga Report)
A Library Girl on vol. 11 of Chi’s Sweet Home (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
G.B. Smith on vol. 8 of The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan (The Fandom Post)
Ken H. on vol. 50 of Fairy Tail (Sequential Ink)
Erica Friedman on vol. 3 of Hayate x Blade 2 (Nyan) (Okazu)
Lori Henderson on vols. 1 and 2 of Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (Manga Xanadu)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 1 of L♥DK (Comics Worth Reading)
Sakura Eries on vol. 10 of My Little Monster (The Fandom Post)
A Library Girl on vol. 55 of Naruto (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
A Library Girl on vols. 1-8 of Natsume’s Book of Friends (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Planetes (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
A Library Girl on vol. 1 of Secret (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Sean Gaffney on Shigeru Mizuki’s Hitler (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
A Library Girl on vols. 33 and 34 of Skip Beat! (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 4 of So Cute It Hurts!! (ANN)
Rebecca Silverman on vols. 3 and 4 of Tokyo Ghoul (ANN)
Matthew Warner on vol. 3 of Ubel Blatt (The Fandom Post)
A Library Girl on vols. 1-5 of Wandering Son (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Nick Smith on vols. 1 and 2 of Yo-Kai Watch (ICv2)

The Manga Revue: Junji Ito’s Cat Diary

2015 has been a banner year for Junji Ito. In April, VIZ re-issued Gyo, Ito’s ick-tastic classic. Two months later, VIZ introduced readers to Fragments of Horror, the first new Ito title to arrive in the US in a decade. That was soon followed by the stateside debut of Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu, a humorous anthology published by Kodansha Comics. I first heard about Cat Diary back in 2011, when Ryan Sands posted a few images at Same Hat! It sounded like something I’d like–I’m on record as being an animal sap–so I was delighted when Kodansha announced plans to release it this year. Here are my somewhat biased thoughts on Yon & Mu.

Cat_DiaryJunji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu
By Junji Ito
Rated T, for readers 13+
Kodansha Comics, $10.99

On the surface, Junji Ito’s Cat Diary is a gag manga. J-Kun–a lightly fictionalized version of the author–reluctantly agrees to let his fiancee bring two cats into their home: Yon, a black-and-white cat with sinister markings on his back, and Mu, a Norwegian forest cat with a cute face and a wicked bite. Each story depicts Yon and Mu doing normal cat things, from coughing up hairballs to resisting unsolicited human affection. Readers familiar with Ito’s previous manga will get a chuckle at J-Kun’s over-the-top reactions to cat poop, scratched floors, and feather wands, as his grotesque facial expressions have been swiped from the pages of Gyo and Uzumaki. Surprisingly, these grimaces work just as well in the context of a domestic comedy, capturing the mixture of revulsion and love that cat behavior elicits. The uninitiated reader may also find these scenes amusing, if a bit excessive; surely a grown man realizes that cats can be jerks?

On a deeper level, however, Cat Diary is a meditation on human relationships. Though the ostensible plot focuses on J-Kun’s struggle to overcome his dislike of cats, the real story is Yon and Mu’s role in bringing J-Kun closer to his fiancee. J-Kun comes to love the cats–spoiler alert!–but the way in which he expresses those feelings demonstrates his journey from “me” to “we,” as his selfish concerns about the house give way to a shared sense of responsibility for the cats’ welfare. This human dimension of Cat Diary infuses it with a warmth that’s frequently missing from Ito’s work, and prevents the stories from reading like a collection of cat GIFs. (I can haz laffs now!)

On a totally shallow note, reading Cat Diary made me want to get my own Norwegian forest cat. I’m not sure if that’s an endorsement of Ito’s comedy chops, but it’s proof that he can draw the hell out of cute, furry things.

The verdict: You don’t need to be a cat person–crazy or otherwise–to enjoy this idiosyncratic manga, though a healthy respect for cats definitely helps.

Reviews: In the mood for shojo? Megan R. of The Manga Test Drive has you covered with in-depth reviews of The Demon Prince of Momochi House, First Love Monster, LDK, and Requiem of the Rose-King. Comics Alliance contributor Tom Speelman reflects on the legacy of Naruto, one of the world’s most popular manga.

Michael Burns on vol. 4 of Akame ga Kill! (Ani-TAY)
Megan R. on The Angel of Elhamburg (The Manga Test Drive)
Jordan Richards on vols. 5-7 of Assassination Classroom (AiPT!)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 7 of A Bride’s Story (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Sheena McNeil on vol. 56 of Case Closed (Sequential Tart)
Lindsey Tomsu on vols. 1-3 of Dictatorial Grimoire (No Flying, No Tights)
Nick Smith on vol. 1 of Dragons Rioting (ICv2)
Michael Burns on vol. 8 of Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma (Ani-TAY)
Justin Stroman on vol. 1 of Horimiya (Organization Anti-Social Geniuses)
Lindsey Tomsu on vols. 1-9 of Kanokon (No Flying, No Tights)
Jordan Richards on vol. 2 of Komomo Confiserie (AiPT!)
Karen Maeda on vol. 4 of Master Keaton (Sequential Tart)
Sarah on vol. 1 of Merman in My Tub (Anime UK News)
L.B. Bryant on vol. 1 of Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun (ICv2)
Sarah on vol. 1 of Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun (Anime UK News)
Austin Lanari on vol. 7 of New Lone Wolf & Cub (Comic Bastards)
Chris Beveridge on vol. 1 of Planetes (The Fandom Post)
Matt on vol. 2 of Prison School (Ani-TAY)
Matt on vol. 1 of School-Live! (Ani-TAY)
Josh Begley on vol. 6 of Vinland Saga (The Fandom Post)

Fruits Basket Is Back!

New Fruits BasketBig news from Yen Press: Fruits Basket is coming back! One of the top selling shoujo manga of all time, Fruits Basket helped create the shoujo manga fanbase in North America, plus it’s a really great series, but it has been out of print since the last volumes of Tokyopop’s editions left the shelves. Yen is bringing it back in the same format as the “collectors edition” that Hakusensha just started releasing in Japan; that means two-in-one omnibus volumes (the original series was 23 volumes, the new one is 12) and a new translation. Yen also announced they have licensed two other series by Natsuki Takaya, her current one, Liselotte & Witch’s Forest (Liselotte to Majo no Mori), and the older Twinkle Stars. [ANN]

The Good Comics for Kids bloggers immediately convened a roundtable to discuss this piece of news. [Good Comics for Kids]

Seven Seas, meanwhile, has announced another new license: My Girlfriend Is a T-Rex. [ANN]

Jonathan Soble writes about the life and legacy of the late Shigeru Mizuki, who died last week at the age of 93. [New York Times]

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

One-Punch Man and Tokyo Ghoul get three volumes each on this week’s New York Times best-seller list. [New York Times]

Kodansha Comics are now available via the library e-book service OverDrive. [Manga Xanadu]

Reviews

Erica Friedman on Before You Go 2 Halfway There (Okazu)
Anna N on vol. 1 of Bloody Mary (Manga Report)
Kate O’Neil on vol. 3 of Demon From Afar (The Fandom Post)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of Devil Survivor (ANN)
Justin on vol. 1 of Dragons Rioting (Organization Anti-Social Geniuses)
Lori Henderson on vol. 1 of Horimiya (Manga Xanadu)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of Idol Dreams (ANN)
Helen on vol. 1 of Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun (Organization Anti-Social Geniuses)
Sakura Eries on vol. 6 of My Love Story!! (The Fandom Post)
Matthew Warner on vol. 19 of Rin-Ne (The Fandom Post)
Matthew Alexander on vol. 2 of Trinity Seven (The Fandom Post)
Ash Brown on vol. 1 of Windrose (Experiments in Manga)
Ardo Omer on vol. 1 of Yo-Kai Watch, vol. 1 of Horimiya, and vol. 1 of Monthly Girls Noazki-kun (Panels)

RIP Shigeru Mizuki

NonNonBaWe have lost a true manga master: Shigeru Mizuki, author of GeGeGe no Kitaro, NonNonBa, Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, and the massive, four-volume Showa, has died at the age of 93. Born in Osaka in 1922, Mizuki was drafted into the Japanese army during World War II, and he chronicled the miseries of that life in Onward Toward Our Noble Deaths. Mizuki’s body of work includes some serious nonfiction but he is probably best know in Japan for his yokai stories, which draw on his memories of growing up in a small coastal village as well as extensive research into Japanese folklore. Manga such as GeGeGeNo Kitaro and NonNon Ba helped popularize the genre, and his hometown of Sakaiminato has put up not only a Mizuki museum but also 153 bronze statues of yokai to honor him (and attract tourists). [The New York Times]

Benkei in New YorkJinpachi Mori, the writer of Benkei in New York, has died at the age of 57. His series Kasai no Hito ran in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Original magazine and was adapted into a drama in 1993; his most recent series is Kasai no Hito kara Kimi e no Yuigon: Sasebo Kōichi Dōkyūsei Satsugai Jiken to Shōnen-hō, a history of Japanese juvenile law. Our own Kate Dacey called Benkei “the best manga you’re not reading” in a 2012 review. [Anime News Network]

Viz has announced two new digital-only licenses: Crown of Thorns, by Boys Over Flowers manga-ka Yoko Kamio, and the 1990s CLAMP title Man of Many Faces (20 Mensou ni Onegai!), which was previously published by Tokyopop. [ANN]

Yen Press Tweeted out news of some new licenses yesterday: The manga and light novel The Asterisk War, the manga and light novel Re: Zero, and the light novel Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Sword Oratoria. [ICv2]

Seven Seas has announced three new manga licenses: Lord Marksman and Vanadis, My Pathetic Vampire Life, and Love in Hell: Death Life. [ICv2]

Oh, and one more for Seven Seas: Holy Corpse Rising. [Crunchyroll]

Just in time for gift-buying season, I checked out a stack of manga artbooks. [Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi/Fantasy Blog]

The Manga Bookshelf team discuss their Pick of the Week. [Manga Bookshelf]

Reviews: Haven’t you heard? It’s the latest edition of Bookshelf Briefs! Ash Brown discusses a week of manga reading at Experiments in Manga.

Stergios Botzakis on vol. 1 of Black Jack (Graphic Novel Resources)
Katherine J. Parker on vol. 1 of BTOOOM! (The Fandom Post)
Kristin on vol. 2 of The Demon Prince of Momochi House (Comic Attack)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 8 of The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Kate O’Neil on vol. 2 of Karneval (The Fandom Post)
J. Caleb Mozzocco on vol. 1 of Kiss Him, Not Me (Every Day Is Like Wednesday)
Sean Gaffney on vols. 9 and 10 of Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Anna N on vol. 1 of Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun (Manga Report)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Isaac Akers on vol. 2 of My Hero Academia (The Fandom Post)
Kristin on vols. 15 and 16 of Oresama Teacher (Comic Attack)
A Library Girl on vols. 1 and 2 of A Silent Voice (A Library Girl’s Familiar Diversions)
Sakura Eries on vol. 11 of Spice and Wolf (The Fandom Post)

The Manga Revue: Deadman Wonderland and Livingstone

The November release of Jinsei Kataoka and Tomohiro Maekawa’s Livingstone provided me a nifty excuse to try Deadman Wonderland, an earlier series written and illustrated by Katoaka. Fans of Deadman Wonderland may know its complex licensing history here in the US: Tokyopop was its first publisher, releasing five volumes before going bankrupt in 2011. VIZ acquired the series in 2013, and is now just two volumes shy of the series’ grand finale, which arrives in February 2016. Whether you’re new to Kataoka’s work or have been a long-time fan, this column has something for you–so read on!

deadman_wonderland1Deadman Wonderland, Vol. 1
Story & Art by Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou
Rated T+, for Older Teens
VIZ Media, $9.99

In the not-so-distant future, visitors flock to Deadman Wonderland, a prison-cum-theme park in Tokyo Bay where inmates fight to the death in front of paying crowds. Our guide to this Roman circus is newly minted prisoner Ganta Igarashi, an ordinary fourteen-year-old who’s been wrongfully convicted of murdering his classmates. Ganta’s fundamental decency is challenged at every turn; try as he might to cling to his humanity and clear his name, the prison’s arbitrary rules and roving gangs make it hard to be principled.

From my thumbnail description, you might conclude that Deadman Wonderland was cobbled together from parts of Judge Dredd, Rollerball, and Escape from New York–and you wouldn’t be wrong. What prevents Deadman Wonderland from reading like Rollerball 2: The Revenge is imaginative artwork. Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou have created a Bizarro World Disneyland with rides, concessions, grinning animal mascots, and attractions like the Happy Dog Run, a lethal obstacle course featuring swinging blades and spike-filled pits. The characters who inhabit this landscape are a motley crew: though some telegraph their bad-guy status with tattoos and goofy haircuts, there are enough ordinary-looking prisoners that it’s impossible to judge who’s trustworthy. That uncertainty creates a strong undercurrent of tension in every scene, making Ganta’s routine activities–a conversation in the bathroom, a trip to the cafeteria–as fraught with peril as an actual contest.

The manga’s other great strength is pacing. Kataoka and Kondou resist the temptation to dole out too much information in the first volume; we’re never more than a clue or two ahead of Ganta, though perceptive readers may finish volume one with some notion of the prison’s true purpose. The authors’ expert timing also prevents us from dwelling on the story’s most shopworn elements, instead focusing our attention on how Ganta responds to new characters and new challenges.

All of which is to say: Deadman Wonderland is more fun than it has any right to be, considering the high body count and recycled plot points. Count me in for the next twelve volumes!

The verdict: Great art, smart pacing, and an appealing lead character make Deadman Wonderland a winner. (A note to parents, teachers, and librarians: this manga’s rating is justified.)

livingstoneLivingstone, Vol. 1
Story  by Tomohiro Maekawa, Art by Jinsei Kataoka
Rated 16+
Kodansha Comics, $10.99

Livingstone is a handsomely illustrated bore, the kind of manga in which the writer has dressed up a simple concept with a profusion of fussy details that don’t add depth or interest to the story. The title refers to human souls–or, more accurately, the rock-like form that human souls take after a person dies. Sakurai and Amano, the manga’s protagonists, work together to harvest livingstones, thus ensuring that a soul is properly passed from one person to the next. If a person dies before his appointed time, however, his soul curdles into a gooey blob of bad juju.

The manga has the rhythm of a cop show: in each chapter, Sakurai and Amano solve or prevent one unscheduled death, usually by negotiating with someone who’s planning to kill himself. Livingstone‘s intense fixation on suicide is off-putting; none of the would-be victims are particularly sympathetic, and Sakurai and Amano’s ministrations are so tone-deaf that it’s hard to know what message author Tomohiro Maekawa is hoping to impart to readers. Sakurai and Amano’s antagonistic bickering is supposed to inject a note of levity into the proceedings, I think, but the timing of the jokes and the staleness of the characterizations do little to offset the dour tone. By the end of volume one, I found myself feeling bummed out and irritated–never a good sign for a series that’s exploring a subject as serious as death.

The verdict: Nice art, lousy script; I liked this story better when it was called The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service.

Reviews: At Comics Worth Reading, Johanna Draper Carlson dives into the eleventh volume of Fumi Yoshinaga’s Ooku: The Inner Chambers, which she describes as “something like Macbeth in kimonos.” Megan R. of The Manga Test Drive offers an in-depth assessment of Oishinbo, “the longest running food manga in Japan,” while Seth Hahne, proprietor of Good OK Bad, weighs in on Yamada-Kun and the Seven Witches. Feeling crafty? Vertical Comics shares some early reviews of their latest Arnazi Aronzo book Cuter Stuff.

Connie on Alice in the Country of Hearts: Ace of Hearts (Slightly Biased Manga)
Lindsey Tomsu on The Celebration of Haruhi Suzumiya (No Flying No Tights)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 5 of A Certain Magical Index (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Wolfen Moondaughter on vol. 27 of Claymore (Sequential Tart)
Allen Kesinger on vols. 1-2 of D-Frag (No Flying No Tights)
ebooksgirl on vol. 2 of The Devil Is a Part-Timer! High School! (Geek Lit Etc.)
Ken H. on vol. 1 of Devil Survivor (Sequential Ink)
Connie on vol. 32 of Eyeshield 21 (Slightly Biased Manga)
Kory Cerjak on vol. 50 of Fairy Tail (The Fandom Post)
Troy Nikandler on vol. 1 of Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (Otaku Review)
Holly Saiki on Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu (Examiner)
Karen Maeda on vol. 1 of Komomo Confiserie (Sequential Tart)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Log Horizon: Game’s End (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Connie on vol. 1 of Meteor Prince (Slightly Biased Manga)
Wolfen Moondaughter on vol. 2 of My Hero Academia (Sequential Tart)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vols. 4-6 of My Love Story!! (Comics Worth Reading)
Justin Stroman on Oh! My Goddess (Organization Anti-Social Geniuses)
Kane Bugeja on vol. 6 of Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign (Snap 30)
Matthew Warner on vol. 18 of Tegami Bachi (The Fandom Post)
Wolfen Moondaughter on vol. 8 of Tiger & Bunny (Sequential Tart)
Frank Inglese on vol. 7 of World Trigger (Snap 30)
Sheena McNeil on vol. 1 of Yo-Kai Watch (Sequential Tart)
Dustin Cabeal on vols. 1-2 of Yo-Kai Watch (Comic Bastards)
Paige Sammartino on vols. 1-2 of Yo-Kai Watch (Women Write About Comics)

PS: Our Manga Bookshelf colleague Ash Brown is giving away the first volumes of four awesome shojo titles from Kodansha Comics, including LDK, Let’s Dance a Waltz, My Little Monster, and one of my personal favorites Say I Love You. Don’t dally; the contest closes on December 2nd!

More Books on BookWalker

School-LiveWondering what to read? I picked some promising titles from November’s new releases. [Barnes & Noble Sci Fi/Fantasy Blog]

Viz owns this week’s manga-best-seller list: Volume 1 of Tokyo Ghoul is in the number one slot, and volume 3 is lurking at number 4. All three volumes of One-Punch Man are there, as well as the latest volumes of One Piece, Bleach, Naruto, and My Hero Academia, and vol. 1 of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency. [New York Times]

BookWalker just added 35 more manga volumes, including Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer, Sun-Ken Rock, and And Yet the Town Moves (Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru), a favorite of mine since I interviewed the creator, Masakazu Ishiguro, and his editor at NYCC a couple of years ago. [Anime News Network]

AstroNerdBoy writes about scanlation in the wake of several arrests in Japan, one of a deliveryman who was stealing magazines en route from the printer to the newsstand, the other of five other people who were uploading scans to the web before the release date. He talks a bit about how bootleg sites operate and also points out that two scanlation groups have closed up shop, although the arrests may have just hastened the inevitable. [AstroNerdBoy’s Anime and Manga Blog]

Erica Friedman lines up all the latest yuri manga news in this week’s edition of Yuri Network News. [Okazu]

Gangsta is going on hiatus because the manga-ka, Kohske, is having health problems. [Anime News Network]

Shiro Amano has confirmed that his Kingdom Hearts series is over. [Anime News Network]

Reviews

Matthew Warner on vol. 6 of Ajin (The Fandom Post)
Sakura Eries on vol. 6 of Barakamon (The Fandom Post)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 65 of Bleach (WatchPlayRead)
Kate O’Neil on vol. 56 of Case Closed (The Fandom Post)
Erica Friedman on Cider to Nakimushi (Okazu)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 27 of Claymore (The Comic Book Bin)
Matthew Alexander on vol. 6 of High School DxD (The Fandom Post)
Richard Gutierrez on vol. 1 of The Honor Student at Magic High School (The Fandom Post)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 1 of Idol Dreams (WatchPlayRead)
Connie on vol. 1 of Idol Dreams (Slightly Biased Manga)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 1 of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency (I Reads You)
Connie on vol. 10 of Junjo Romantica (Slightly Biased Manga)
Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 7 of Kiss of the Rose Princess (WatchPlayRead)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Helen on vol. 2 of The Morose Mononokean (Organization Anti Social Geniuses)
Connie on vol. 7 of No. 6 (Slightly Biased Manga)
Matthew Warner on vol. 5 of Noragami (The Fandom Post)
Matthew Warner on vol. 8 of Say I Love You (the Fandom Post)
Rebecca Silverman on vol. 1 of School-Live! (Anime News Network)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 3 of Secret (Comics Worth Reading)
Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 3 of The World’s Greatest First Love (Comics Worth Reading)