Random Sunday question: career advice

I had the vague notion of following up last week’s query with a similarly themed one: what professions would you like to read about in manga form? As is so often the cast, I found out that my answer – wedding planner – already exists and sounds even more awesome than I could have imagined. Erica (Okazu) Friedman pointed me to it in her answer last week’s question:

The women of Renai Joshikka, all of whome work as hard as they can to create the most perfect weddings for the kinds of heterosexual couples that they themselves will never be a part of. It’s a lovely, girly series about lesbian love at a wedding planning company, with lots of modeling wedding dresses and worrying about flowers and rings and other totally femme stuff.

So that would be my answer, and there’s a manga ready made to slake my curiosity. What are your dream jobs, at least in terms of watching other people do them?

(And yes, I’m aware that Banri Hidaka’s excellent V.B. Rose from Tokyopop takes place in a bridal salon, which is a good start, but I want to see the full event planning process.)


Random Sunday question: worker bees

I’ve ticked off a gruesome number of errands and chores this morning, from rolling change to bathing dogs, and it got me to thinking: while many manga characters are known for their domestic sloth, there are some who seem to live by the motto “If you can lean, you can clean.” (I’m more partial to “Why stand when you can sit, and why sit when you can lie down?”)

One of my favorites from this category has to be Yukari from Sakura Tsukuba’s Penguin Revolution (CMX). Her career goal — “I want to be… a CIVIL SERVANT!” — remains one of the funniest dream declarations I can recall in manga.

Who are some of your favorite, fictional worker bees?


Blood, brains, or brawn

The new Previews catalog is here, so it’s time once again for me to throw myself at the mercy of you, my readers, to help me pick from three questionable manga prospects. Let’s begin!

Moon and Blood vol. 1, written and illustrated by Nao Yazawa, Digital Manga Publishing, page 281:

When high schooler Sayaka awoke one morning, to her surprise, she found an unexpected guest at the family kitchen table – Kai. A cool, handsome and aloof character, a so-called family friend of Sayaka’s father, his temporary stay in her household and attendance to Sayaka’s school, is more than she’s bargained for. But what secrets does Kai hold and what are his true intentions for his sudden appearance into Sayaka’s life? Why does he excel so well in school but sleep through every class? Here does he disappear every night? Will Sayaka find her answers? Or will her curiosity get her into trouble? And what is up with that black cat?

This generic-sounding title from the creator of Wedding Peach (Viz) originally ran in some magazine from some publisher that I cannot unearth in any of the usual sources. It almost certainly involves vampires. I almost always hate vampires.

A Certain Scientific Railgun vol. 1, written by Kazuma Kamachi and illustrated by Motoi Fuyukawa, Seven Seas, page 314:

Welcome to a world where mysticism and science collide, and supernatural powers are derived from either science or religion. In Academy City, an advanced metropolis populated by scholars, the majority of students are enrolled in the city’s “Power Curriculum Program,” where they must learn to master their latent psychic powers. Out of several million students, only seven are deemed powerful enough to have Level 5 status. Mikoto Misaka, the third most powerful Level 5 esper in Academy City, delves deep into the dark heart of the scientific sprawl she calls home – and uncovers secrets she wishes she hadn’t!

Aside from an awkward title and (again) generic premise, this series came to be in Media Works’ Dengeki Daioh, which has produced some great manga but has an uncomfortable fixation on little girls. Also, use of the word “esper” bugs me.

Kampfer vol. 1, written and illustrated by Yu Tachibana, Tokyopop, page 318:

Senou Natsuru is an everyday school boy, who wakes up one day to discover that he’s been chosen to be a Kampfer (fighters) whose objective is to fight other Kampfer. There’s just one catch: In order to fight others, he must turn into a girl!

Seeing as Tokyopop couldn’t be bothered to spell the name properly in its catalog listing, I don’t know why I should be expected to feign enthusiasm. Kampfer originally ran in Media Factory’s Comic Alive, which foisted Maria Holic on the world.

Those are your choices for the month. I’ll take a much more optimistic look at catalog on Monday. For now, please vote in the comments!


Random weekend question: flicks

It’s Oscar night! Can you feel the excitement? I can’t, but I’m kind of a bad gay in that respect. Still, I’ll take the occasion of the movie industry’s biggest night of self-adulation to ask the following: what comic would you like to see adapted into a film that could claim Oscar gold? Put aside your memories of Astro Boy and your fears about Akira and emphasize the positive, if you can.

I think Fumi Yoshinaga’s Ichigenme: The First Class Is Civil Law (DMP) could be made into one of those independent sleeper films that draw unexpected commercial and critical acclaim. And it has hot, smart gays getting it on and none of that maudlin, problem-movie nonsense of Brokeback Mountain. Of course, I can also imagine Makoto Yukimura’s Planetes (Tokyopop) getting turned into some overblown James Cameron thing that doesn’t really resemble the source material but still makes a ton of money.


Random weekend question: comebacks

I’m seriously considering selling my copy of Osamu Tezuka’s Swallowing the Earth (DMP). Copies are going for a small fortune on Amazon, and opportunism may overcome my tendency to hoard. This leads me to ask which books you’d like to see back in print from the sad limbo of licensed titles that have faded from active publication.

I’d have to go with Viz’s Four Shôjo Stories, a collection featuring the work of Moto Hagio, Keiko Nishi, and Shio Satô. Copies are expensive, and it seems like something that should be more readily available. In fact, there are a fair number of really interesting, old Viz books that I’d like to see make a comeback, but this one tops my list.

What’s your choice?

Random weekend question: the classics

I’m having a very classic-manga weekend. I just finished drafting a post on Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen (Last Gasp) for this week’s Manga Moveable Feast. I’m due to participate in a podcast on Osamu Tezuka’s Ayako (Vertical) this afternoon. And I’ve been catching up on recent volumes of Tezuka’s excellent Black Jack (Vertical).

So I’m curious: what are your favorite manga classics that have been published in English? My list would probably be topped by Tezuka’s Dororo (Vertical), Susumu Katsumata’s Red Snow (Drawn & Quarterly), and Kyoko Ariyoshi’s Swan (CMX).

And what classics would you like to see published in English? Now that Tezuka’s Princess Knight is in the pipeline courtesy of Vertical, my most feverishly anticipated property would have to be Riyoko Ikeda’s The Rose of Versailles.

Men or maids?

It’s time again for you to help me choose a title from the current Previews catalog. Here are this month’s candidates:

Your Story I’ve Known, written and illustrated by Tsuta Suzuki, Digital Manga (page 278):

High-school student Matsumoto Haato has fallen in love with his abusive mother’s ex-boyfriend, yakuza Shibusawa, who was nice to him in the past. When he has nowhere left to go he turns to the gruff but kind older man. A three chapter love story that details the changing relationships between the two men over the years.

I admit that I don’t find this description entirely problematic. I do tend to like to investigate yaoi titles fairly thoroughly to see if they meet my rather specific standards (which are very similar to Melinda Beasi’s), and I’m not familiar with this one, its creator, or the magazine from which it springs (Takeshobo’s Reijin).

Maid Shokun, written by Nanki Satou and illustrated by Akira Kiduki, Tokyopop (page 311):

This slice-of-life manga is a lovely exploration of the inner workings of a Maid Cafe, filled with laughter and romance, joy and heartbreak. Maybe you’ve wondered what the ‘maids’ are like before or after work? Or perhaps you’ve wondered how they deal with a job where pleasing the customer is their top priority? Well, let’s introduce you to an adorable, delicate, attractive girl who gets drawn into such a job – and see this unusual story, filled with warmth and pathos, unfold!

I like slice-of-life manga! I like stories set in eateries! I’m utterly indifferent to maid panties. Also, boobies. Also, the Japanese cover to the third volume has to be seen to be believed. Also, Tokyopop’s solicitation text is sometimes singularly useless in evaluating a book’s true nature and the likelihood that I’ll enjoy it. Maid Shokun originally ran in Comic Gum from Wani Books.

So there are your choices. Please vote in the comments, either because you think I’ll be pleasantly surprised or because you want to see me suffer.

Random Sunday question: josei to Z

I’ve just polished off the Seinen Alphabet, and I finished the Shôjo-Sunjeong Alphabet ages ago, so I’m gearing up for the next, and I would appreciate some advice as I map out the Josei Alphabet in my head. Since the category is taking a while to establish itself in English, I’m inclined to focus on unlicensed properties, maybe about three per letter. Of course, I’d also like to at least list josei titles that have been published in English, just so people know what’s commercially available. I’m always curious about Japanese manga magazines, so I’ll probably at least list those as well.

But I’d love to hear what you’d like out of the Josei Alphabet. Any thoughts or preferences come to mind? (A big part of the fun of doing these alphabets is reading comments about things I’ve omitted in the comments, so I’m not going to kill myself in the name of thoroughness.)

Random weekend question: blogita

I’m thrilled to be a part of the Manga Bookshelf consortium, and just looking at the front page makes me happy. The only down side is that the nicely organized home site makes my individual blog feel kind of dowdy and difficult to navigate. It feels like I should find some better way to display regular features and new content. So for this random weekend question, I’d love to get your suggestions on how my blog can be improved from a design perspective. I’m leaning towards a magazine-style layout, but I’m absolutely open to any ideas you may offer.

Random Sunday question: sidebar

In the interests of improving my blogroll, what are some of your favorite comics or pop culture blogs that I haven’t already linked? It seems greedy to ask for more great reading, but… well… I am greedy.