To note, or not?

I was lucky enough to take part in a lively discussion on Takako Shimura’s Wandering Son (Fantagraphics), which will air at Manga Out Loud sometime soon. We all took a few minutes to ponder the usefulness of end notes. I’m very pro on the subject. I think they almost always add value and let the translator and adapter focus on flow and voice rather than info-dump. But I wanted to throw the topic out for discussion. Notes: yay, nay, or depends?


Random weekend question: independents day

There’s a ton of excellent manga that fits neatly into certain categories and story genres. And there’s vast variation within those narrow-only-on-paper segments of the market. But what are some of your favorite manga that defy easy categorization?

Here are three that come to my mind:

  • Love Roma, by Minoru Toyoda, Del Rey, five volumes: With its chunky, low-fidelity art and funky comic rhythms, this series turns high-school romance on its head in some delightful ways.
  • Peepo Choo, by Felipe Smith, Vertical, three volumes: It’s a junkyard dog of a comic that you can’t help but love in spite of the fact that it will probably try to bite you at least once.
  • Red Snow, by Susumu Katsumata, Drawn & Quarterly, one volume: Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s indie shorts get most of the love when it comes to gekiga, but this rural-focused collection of magical-realist tales is my clear favorite among D&Q’s manga offerings.

What are your picks?

Random weekend question: alphabetical orders

I can’t believe I’m nearing the end of The Josei Alphabet, but there are only five letters left. So it behooves me to start thinking of the next tour from A to Z. I’m currently vacillating between two choices: a “favorites” alphabet where I list my best-loved book that starts with a given letter, or an Awful Alphabet, where I go in what we might call a different direction. But what would you like to see in the next alphabet?


Random weekend question: hot stuff

While revisiting Kazuya Minekura’s Wild Adapter (Tokyopop) for the upcoming Manga Moveable Feast, I’m reminded that it’s simply one of the sexiest manga I’ve ever read. The visual style, the design and conception of characters, the plot and pacing… everything about it is just cool. It’s a sleek, remorseless predator of a comic.

So I’m curious: what, in your opinions, are some of the sexiest comics you’ve read? I don’t necessarily mean books that contain a lot of sexual content. Manga Sutra (Tokyopop) is one of the least sexy comics I’ve ever read, for example. But what series have you found that have given off that vibe?


Shônen dump

Sadly, last month offered insufficient dubious manga to assemble a poll. More sadly, your choice in the first of these polls, Maid Shokun, was undone by the shuttering of Tokyopop. (I ended up ordering the runner-up and will be reviewing it in this week’s Bookshelf Briefs installment.) On the bright side, the June 2011 Previews catalog offers a number of suspect debuts that are far enough outside of my comfort zone to earn candidacy. Let’s begin!

Tales of the Abyss: Asch the Bloody, by various, Bandai: Based on Namco’s role-playing game, Tales of the Abyss! Asch is the lost prince of a country torn asunder by prophecy. Cloned and replaced by a new prince, Asch finds himself among the ranks of God-General, fighting to destroy the very prophecy for peace that his clone will fulfill. War, magic, and science clash, but at their heart stands Asch the Bloody.

I must first “thank” Sean Gaffney for pointing out this listing. “Thank” you, Sean. Based on the cover, this seems like one of those books where the creators (various as they may be) spent more time on character design than anything else. I’m not instinctively averse to properties based on games, since Monster Collection (CMX) proved that even commercial spin-offs of this nature can be delightful. Still, Tales of the Abyss seems to emit a generic fug.

Bloody Monday, written by Ryou Ryumon, illustrated by Koji Megumi, Kodansha Comics: Takagi Fujimaru may seem like a regular high school student, but behind the cheery facade lies a genius hacker by the name of Falcon. When his father is framed for a murder, Falcon uses his brilliant hacking skills to try and protect his sister and clear his father’s name. However, he finds that his father, an agent in an elite government agency, was involved with something far more complex than a simple murder. A terrorist group is plotting against the city of Tokyo and it is up to Falcon, with the help of his friends to unravel the twisted plans set in place to kill millions of people.

Does every shônen magazine need to try and come up with its own version of Death Note? No, I mean, do they really need to try that? It almost never works.

Mardock Scramble, written by Tow Ubukata, illustrated by Yoshitoki Oima, Kodansha Comics: Rune Balot is a prostitute who is nearly murdered by Ciel, an enigmatic casino manager, who suffers from a disease that forces him to remove and store his memories. A victim for most of her life, Rune faces a choice. While on the brink of death, she is given the opportunity to live. It is not a simple choice for a victim, but Rune takes it. A professor brings Rune back to life as a cyborg with the ability to control electronics and partners her up with a self-aware universal tool named Oeufcocque. Together they begin to unravel the mystery behind Ciel and Rune sheds the role of the victim, but must struggle between seeking justice and vengeance.

Putting all other things aside, “Rune Balot” is one of the most annoying protagonist’s names I’ve seen in many a moon. Also, that cover suggests to me that Rune may not be as empowered as the solicitation suggests. Also, I cannot see myself happily typing “Oeufcocque” over and over again, should circumstances demand I review it. Also, the plot sounds as familiar as familiar gets.

So, those are our candidates. If you would, please cast your vote in the comments. You can pick something because you think I might actually end up enjoying it, or you can pick something because you’re a schadenfreude addict, or you can pick something for any reason that tickles your fancy. Just pick!

Random weekend question: sporty

In honor of the just-launched May Manga Moveable Feast discussing Mitsuru Adachi’s excellent Cross Game (Viz), what are your favorite sports manga?

I’m going with a fairly loose definition, so I’d peg mine as board-game epic Hikaru no Go (Viz), ballet battle Swan (CMX), and (obviously) Cross Game.


Random weekend question: on your mark, get set…

This may be in kind of poor taste, but I realize I’ve never asked this or discussed it much. In light of this week’s gross attempt to take advantage of fans of much-missed manga publisher Go! Comi, I was wondering which of their unfinished titles you’d most like to see rescued by another imprint?

For me, it would have to be Crown, written by Shinji (Sukeban Deka) Wada and illustrated by You (Cantarella, Ludwig II) Higuri. It was such a pleasantly ridiculously surprise, and it displayed a real gift for the sneaky tease. (I wonder if Kodansha Comics is going to pick up Night Head Genesis, which Higuri drew for George Iida?)


Random Saturday question: Ono-philes

This weekend, Natsume Ono is taking the Toronto Comic Arts Festival by storm. (So is Usumaru Furuya, but I’m shamelessly partisan, and it’s my blog.) Which of Ono’s licensed titles — Gente, House of Five Leaves, not simple, or Ristorante Paradiso — is your favorite? And which of Ono’s unlicensed titles would you most like to see picked up for release in English? I realize this leaves two titles — La Quinta Camera and Tesoro — out in the cold, as they’ve been announced but not yet published, but if you have particularly strong feelings for either, don’t hold back.



Random Sunday question: Takahashi

The next round of the Manga Moveable Feast begins this week, hosted by Rob (Panel Patter) McMonigal and focusing on the works of the wonderful Rumiko Takahashi. Rob has been conducting ongoing examination of her work with his Year of Takahashi project.

For today’s question, what’s your favorite work by Takahashi? There are lots to choose from, though some are sadly out of print. Is there an unlicensed work you’d like to read?


Fond memories

In the wake of yesterday’s sad news about Tokyopop, I thought I’d use this random weekend question to look back on the positive. Regardless of our individual opinions of the company and our varied reactions to its fate, it published some great comics during its run. So I’d like to ask what your favorite Tokyopop title was?

For me, the answer is surprisingly easy: Ai Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss, a heartfelt and sophisticated look at the lives of budding designers and the girl who serves as their model and muse. This series was among those that really expanded my idea of what comics could be in terms of style, tone, and content, beyond being a wonderful and memorable story in its own right.

How about you? What Tokyopop title stands above the rest in your memory?