Upcoming 4/7/2010

Perhaps looking through this week’s ComicList will distract me from the fact that I have a perfectly miserable cold. Perhaps not, but I should at least write this up before I start self-medicating.

Fanfare/Ponent Mon releases the fourth volume of The Times of Botchan, written by Natsuo Sekikawa and illustrated by Jiro Taniguchi. Here’s what the publisher has to say about the series:

“The Meija Era (1868-1912) was probably the most defining period in Japanese history. It was a time of massive change from the more traditional; Takugawa era to a positioning of Japan in the modern world. Contemporary writer, Soseki Natsume, suffered due to all the social and cultural changes and expressed his feelings through his character Botchan, a classic in the vein of Mark Twain or Charles Dickens.”

I believe the seventh issue of Brandon Graham’s King City (Image) marks the start of material that hasn’t been previously published by Tokyopop, so if you were waiting for the new stuff, tomorrow is the day. Of course, if you’ve been waiting, you’ve missed the handsome pamphlet packaging. I won’t judge either way.

And, since it’s the first week of the month, Viz will try to crush us all with new arrivals.

New on the shôjo front is Rinko (Tail of the Moon) Ueda’s Stepping on Roses, which is being serialized in Shueisha’s Margaret magazine. It’s about a desperately poor young women who agrees to marry a snotty aristocrat so that he can snag an inheritance. Viz sent me a review copy, and, while it’s got aggressively attractive art, it’s one of those stories about a powerless girl who gets yanked around by a jerky guy. It’s not as distasteful as Black Bird, but my attention quickly drifts from punching-bag romances unless the creator does something really interesting and self-aware.

Much more to my liking, at least based on the first volume, is the second installment of Yuki Midorikawa’s Natsume’s Book of Friends, which is currently being serialized in Hakusensha’s LaLa magazine. Generally speaking, I prefer Hakusensha’s shôjo to almost anyone else’s. For bonus points, this one’s about a kid who can see supernatural creatures. It’s executed very well, which makes up for the fact that none of the stories are particularly groundbreaking. (For example, a group of kids sneak into a haunted school in this volume, which has been done a million times. That doesn’t mean no one should ever do it again, of course.)

Last, and certainly not least, is the latest wave of Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece, volumes 39 to 43. These have been out in bookstores for a while, so I already own them and have read them, because I’m addicted. Sean (A Case Suitable for Treatment) Gaffney tweeted that “if you could only save 5 One Piece volumes from a fire, these would be [his] choice.” I haven’t read all of the available volumes yet, so I don’t know if I’d agree, but I can say that these volumes represent Oda in very fine form – big, crazy action, surprisingly wrenching, character-driven drama, and lots of laughs.