Upcoming 9/21/2011

Have you checked out the Manga Bookshelf Pick of the Week? Then we’re ready for a perusal of this week’s ComicList!

For me, the clear leader, at least in the Diamond-verse, is the fourth volume of Yumi Unita’s Bunny Drop (Yen Press). In this volume, single father Daikichi deals with the quirks of another member of his large family as he continues to learn to be a good parent to Rin, his late grandfather’s young daughter. It’s heartfelt and funny, and I highly recommend you try it if you haven’t already.

And I really must catch up on Yuu Watase’s very likeable shônen adventure, Arata: The Legend (Viz), though I’m nowhere near ready for the seventh volume, which arrives Wednesday. Fortunately, I can catch up via Viz’s iPad app. Now I can have menacing physical stacks of books and too many virtual ones in the queue.

For succinct assessments of some recent releases, check out the latest round of Bookshelf Briefs from the Battle Robot.


Upcoming 9/14/2011

You already know what I’d pick if I lived within shopping distance of Midtown Comics, but what if I was entirely dependent on the kindness of Diamond for my weekly comic fix? (Which I am!) Let’s take a look at the ComicList.

Leave it to Vertical to fill the relative void, even if it only takes the form of one book. But that one book is the ninth volume of Kou Yaginuma’s Twin Spica, so it does a lot of void filling.

The eighth volume was customarily enjoyable. As Yaginuma follows his group of young, would-be astronauts, he’s starting to fold some romantic elements into the narrative. There’s something very heartening about seeing Asumi confronted with the notion that there are some potentially wonderful things on Earth in addition to the promised wonders of the stars. Things we learn about brash, bossy Kei go a long way to soften that character’s rather stereotypical edges, which is a welcome development. Overall, this volume creates some additional spokes to the core cast’s shared dream, and they give added depth to that core dream by making it more complex and conflicted.

An interesting side effect of this shift in the content is how it reframes the relative success of Yaginuma’s illustrations. I very much enjoy the vulnerability he gives to his character designs, but that very vulnerability plays against their increasing emotional maturity. It’s not exactly a troubling counterpoint, but it does trigger a weirdly parental response to the notion of Asumi in love: “She’s too young for romance! She’ll always be too young!” I’m not sure if the counterpoint is entirely intentional, and I’m not sure if it will ultimately but successful, but it’s definitely an interestingly discordant note in a generally coherent presentation.

In other shopping choices, Viz offers the 58th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s Once Piece, which I covered in this week’s Bookshelf Briefs, along with the fourth volume of Kaori Yuki’s Grand Guignol Orchestra (also Viz) and the 13th volume of Hiroki Endo’s Eden: It’s an Endless World! (Dark Horse).


Upcoming 9/7/2011

As the Manga Bookshelf Pick of the Week can testify, Viz is publishing enough manga this week to choke a horse. It’s even more crowded over at the ComicList than it is at Midtown Comics.

This gives me the opportunity to save another highlight for my own blog: the third three-volume omnibus of Yellow Tanabe’s Kekkaishi (Viz). I’ve been enjoying the heck out of this tale of young exorcists finding their places in the family business, and I fully expect to keep enjoying it, especially since it’s so inexpensive, relatively speaking.

On the shôjo front, there’s the 10th volume of Karuho Shiina’s funky, sweet Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You (also Viz). Spooky-looking but sparkling-on-the-inside heroine Sawako decides to really express her feelings to down-to-earth dreamboat Kazehaya, which could turn out… any number of ways, to be honest.

Ah, but the ComicList offers a seinen option as well! Vertical releases the one-volume Velveteen & Mandala by Jiro Matsumoto. It’s about schoolgirls who cut class to battle zombies in a satirically dystopian future. As I noted in a recent Bookshelf Brief, this didn’t really work for me, but I think that the comic itself isn’t exactly in my taste spectrum. Fans of this kind of thing, and I know you are numerous, should be perfectly content. It originally ran in Ohta Shuppan’s Manga Erotics F, which has given me plenty of manga to enjoy, so I can hardly complain that this fifth-genre magazine doesn’t succeed for me every time.

Speaking of Bookshelf Briefs, this week’s column includes a brief look at a boys’-love title that I read thanks to your crowd-sourced feedback, Puku Okuyama’s Warning! Whispers of Love (DMP).

Elsewhere on the Manga Bookshelf mother ship, where all of our robot limbs wait gleaming in hangars between battles, I contribute a review to the inaugural Going Digital column. A reasonable price and the lack of a physical copy to clutter my shelves entices me to try the first volume of the classic Lone Wolf and Cub (Dark Horse) by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima.


Upcoming 8/31/2011

Hey, look up there! It’s the cover to my Pick of the Week! Haven’t seen one of those in a while, have we? Perhaps it bodes well for this week’s ComicList!

A week can’t be all bad when it features a new two-volume collection of Kaoru Tada’s quirky, funny Itazura na Kiss (Digital Manga), can it? Kotoko tries to hang on to the gains she’s made in her relationship with Naoki, and I think we can all guess how well that’s going to go for the poor dear.

Kodansha releases the 10th volume of Koji Kumeta’s sharp, satirical Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, promising lots of field trips and ultimately dispiriting life lessons!

And Viz rolls out a few Signature titles. The one I’m most eager to read is the fourth volume of Q Hayashida’s gritty yet strangely charming horror series, Dorohedoro. That book has really grown on me since its debut.

Sci-fi, romance, satire, and horror… a nice mix, in the end! What looks good to you?


Elsewhere update

The daily-life mayhem continues to prevent me from being a productive blogger. (We just had a very mild earthquake. In West Virginia. Seriously. This is getting ridiculous.) But I am still holding forth in other venues!

I joined the Manga Bookshelf crew to discuss Fumi Yoshinaga’s ceaselessly wonderful Flower of Life (DMP) for the recently concluded Manga Moveable Feast.

I also make my pitch for the jManga title that interests me most… at the moment. I may soon be distracted by something sparklier.

I contribute a review of a smart and suspenseful horror comic for the latest Not By Manga Alone column, too.

And, if you’re curious as to what I like the look of from the current ComicList, you need only look to last week’s Pick of the Week.


Upcoming 8/17/2011

If your comic shop is of the Diamond dependent stripe, you may be disappointed by this week’s ComicList, as there’s next to no manga in evidence. Never fear, though! There is one exciting arrival to please the discerning comics reader.

That would be the fourth volume of Lewis Trondheim’s Little Nothings: My Shadow in the Distance (NBM). Trondheim’s self-deprecating, autobiographical comics are always funny and observant in just the right ways. I reviewed the third volume, Uneasy Happiness, for the inaugural Not By Manga Alone column.

Of course, for those served by more diversely sourced comic shops, you can take a look at the Manga Bookshelf Pick of the Week roundup, and you can peruse this week’s Bookshelf Briefs for our takes on a variety of recent releases.

By the way, a new alphabet begins this week, but I think I’ll keep the theme a surprise. I’m sneaky that way!


Upcoming 8/10/2011

I have no idea who sells this wonderfully horrifying thing, but they are doing the work of the angels. Kate Dacey very kindly tweeted this in my direction with her customary perfect timing, as my ComicList pick of the week — the 15th volume of Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack from Vertical — relies heavily on the participation of creepy little Pinoko for some of its spectacular highs. I discussed some of those heights in this week’s Bookshelf Briefs.

And that’s really the best that Diamond has to offer this week, so why not take a look at what some people think is the best the whole comics medium has to offer? The Hooded Utilitarian continues to populate its International Best Comics Poll index, and there’s a delightful piece by Shaenon Garrity on what she deems “The HU Lady List.” Over at the Manga Bookshelf, Melinda Beasi ponders the process and discusses her choices.


Upcoming 8/3/2011

Given the vagaries of comic distribution timing, I’ve already read two of the titles I’m most eagerly anticipating off of the current ComicList. So I guess I’m not eagerly anticipating them so much as fondly remembering them. Anyway, you might still be undecided, so…

First up was the fourth volume of The Story of Saiunkoku (Viz), Kairi Yura’s lovely adaptation of Sai Yukino’s light novels. It’s entirely possible that I love this series so much that I can no longer see its flaws, but I think it equally likely that there are no meaningful flaws to be seen. This arrival was particularly welcome during the debate over the debt ceiling, as it suggested a world where people go into governance for the right reasons, and the best and brightest are rewarded with responsibility and authority. So, yes, clearly it’s a fantasy, but it’s a lovely and reassuring one, and the creators reinforce its ultimately feminist message by moving their heroine closer to her dream, even if it damages the romantic prospects of the man who loves her. That’s not the kind of conundrum you see every day in entertainment, which makes this series just about priceless.

Less rewarding was the fourth volume of Julietta Suzuki’s Kamisama Kiss (Viz). I generally like this series very much for the evenhanded approach Suzuki takes with her male and female protagonists. She treats them with equal respect, and she gives each specific strengths which make their relationship much more interesting than some victim-rescuer dynamic would be. That balance slips a bit this time around, which is disappointing, though hardly fatal. I still like the characters a lot, but certain complications screw up their dynamic and make it depressingly… conventional. (Misunderstanding! Secrecy! Alienation!) I count on Suzuki’s quirky good sense to reassert itself next time around.

In other Viz news, this week sees the delivery of the third volume of Kazue Kato’s very promising Blue Exorcist, the eighth volume of Yuki Midorikawa’s lovely Natsume’s Book of Friends, and the second volume of Mayu Shinjo’s sure-to-be-repulsive Ai Ore!

Oh, and in the category of things I’m still eagerly anticipating, there’s the second volume of CLAMP’s Cardcaptor Sakura (Dark Horse). I can’t believe I’ve yet to see this series in a Barnes & Noble.

What looks good to you?


Upcoming 7/20/2011

There isn’t a ton of material shipping via Diamond this week. Highlights are Natsume Ono’s professional debut, La Quinta Camera (Viz), which I reviewed here, and my current Pick of the Week, the sixth volume of Fumi Yoshinaga’s Ôoku: The Inner Chambers (also from Viz).

Another book on my radar is the third volume of Natsumi (Kitchen Princess) Ando’s Arisa from Kodansha. I quite enjoyed the first volume of this mystery series back when Del Rey released it, and it’s always been my intention to continue with it, but I haven’t had any luck finding it on bookstore shelves, so I guess I’m just going to have to buck up and order the second and third online. (I sometimes get fixated on the notion that I should be able to find a given series in a brick-and-mortar shop. I should probably never assume that about anything, should I?)

Speaking of books that aren’t all that easy to find, this week also sees release of the sixth and final volume of Time and Again by JiUn Yun (Yen Press). I really wish Yen would add this series to its iPad application, as I would happily pay to read it by those means.

I did read the ninth volume of Kiyohiko Azuma’s Yotsuba&! via the app, and I found the experience entirely equivalent in terms of delight to the dead-tree approach, with the slight advantage that I didn’t have to kill any trees to do so. I wrote a (belated) blurb about the book for this week’s Bookshelf Briefs, also discussing the fourth book in Viz’s release of Mitsuru Adachi’s Cross Game, which collects the eighth and ninth volumes of the series. Someone else sharing the Adachi love this week is Christopher (Comics212) Butcher for Robot 6’s latest round of What Are You Reading?

Elsewhere in the world, The Japan Times unveils a rich vein of Osamu Tezuka manga made available to iPad users.

And for those of you wondering what Bryan Lee O’Malley would do next now that Scott Pilgrim (Oni) has reached its conclusion, we at least know (courtesy of Publishers Weekly Comics Week) that he’ll be publishing it through Villard.

Upcoming 7/13/11

I generally like to highlight different titles in the Manga Bookshelf Pick of the Week and in these trawls through the ComicList, but sometimes I just have to repeat myself.

Even if this week didn’t mark the inaugural Pick of the Week contribution of Sean (A Case Suitable for Treatment) Gaffney, I’d still be in lockstep with his choice, the fourth collection (containing the eighth and ninth volumes) of Mitsuru Adachi’s Cross Game from Viz Media. Viz is publishing some other perfectly likeable manga this week, but it’s hard for anything not to pale in comparison to Cross Game. To avoid repeating myself, I’ll simply link to myself: here are my reviews of the first, second, and third collections, and here’s my contribution to the Cross Game Manga Moveable Feast.

Speaking of Manga Moveable Feasts, you all know that I’m hosting the July installment on Natsuki Takaya’s transcendent Fruits Basket (Tokyopop), right? The feast will start on Sunday, July 24, and end on Saturday, July 30. I’d be happy to host pieces here, if that would work better for you. Just drop me a line.

And, speaking of critical examination of manga, there’s a jam-packed edition of Bookshelf Briefs for your perusal. I take an look at Natsume Ono’s La Quinta Camera and a feels-belated look at the second Kekkaishi 3-in-1 collection by Yellow Tanabe. Most importantly, Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey reads the second volume of Ai Ore! so I don’t have to. EVER.