Welcome to the weekly manga review here at Sequential Ink! Before we get this week’s review of My Little Monster, Vol. 2, let’s see what interesting tidbits we can dredge up from the San Diego Comi-Con flood, shall we?
- Udon Entertainment made a number of interesting licensing announcements this year, with their planned releases of the Kill La Kill manga and two Osamu Tezuka art books being the highlights for manga and anime fans.
- Drawn and Quarterly will be continuing to release works from Shigeru Mizuki, with his biographical manga Hitler, while also adding Tadao Tsuge’s Trash Market to their slowly growing library of manga.
- Kodansha also named two new series their 2015 line up, with the licensing of Yamada-Kun and the Seven Witches and Let’s Dance a Walts.
- Elsewhere, Wired UK ran an interview with DC Editor Jim Chadwick and translator Sheldon Drzka regarding the decision and process of releasing Jiro Kuwata’s Batman manga in the west.
- Also, earlier today Seven Seas announced two new acquisitions in the form of the Servamp and 12 Beast series.
- And of course, The New York Times Best Sellers List for the week for July 5th.
And now, onto this weeks review of My Little Monster, Vol. 2!
When we last left Shizuku and Haru, their relationship had taken an odd turn as Haru rejected Shizuku’s request for a date, causing her to vow to make him love her! Robico’s My Little Monster, Vol. 2 picks up immediately after this and continues to explore the tangled and awkward relationship that Shizuku and Haru’s share, while adding further complications such as a potential romantic adversary, and ominous hint about Haru’s home life.
Despite the San Diego Comicon begin right around the corner, the reviews just keep on coming! This week I’ll be taking a look at One Punch Man, Vols. 1 + 2, but first a rather anemic look at news stories that caught my attention this past week. No doubt next week’s line up will be more robust in the wake of the con.
- This past week saw the unveiling of the first teaser trailer to the live action adaption of Hitoshi Iwaaki’s classic manga, Parasyte!
- A new live theatrical presentation is about to have it’s Boston area premier, Astro Boy and the God of Comics will combine aspects of traditional plays and “live cartooning” to tell the story of Osamu Tezuka and Astro Boy.
- And of course, The New York Times Best Sellers List for the week for July 12th.
With that brief interlude done with, it’s time for this weeks featured review of One Punch Man, Vols. 1 + 2!
ONE and Yusuke Murata’s superhero comedy, One-Punch Man, is something of a critical darling. It’s garnered high praise from many anime and manga fans, but despite this has yet to really breakthrough into the larger anime/manga community. The series tells the tale of Saitama, a young man who’s trained himself to become a nigh unbeatable superhero capable of defeating any foe with a single punch. Unfortunately such training and power has led him to nothing but incredible boredom, and a seemingly unending hunt for a challenge. Lovingly skewering both Western superhero conventions, shonen manga tropes and tokusatsu shows, One-Punch Man has the potential to be a break out hit, appealing to American comic book fans as well as manga readers.
Another Wednesday means another review! This week I’ll be taking a look at The Seven Deadly Sins, Vols. 1 + 2 from Kodansha. Before we get into that, here are a few news items that have caught my attention over the past few weeks.
- Over the weekend Guillermo Del Toro held an AMA on Reddit, where he fielded a question about manga and anime.
- Earlier this mont, Publishers Weekly caught up with manga creator Moyoco Anno and had a chance to talk to her about her various works.
- A few weeks back the classic anime series Doraemon began airing in the US. Around the same time the translation team of Matt Alt and Yoda Hiroko gave a presentation on the challenges of adapting the series for a US audience and James Singleton of Nippon.com was there to cover it.
- The Japan Times recently ran a short interview with Hiroshi Sakurazaka, author of Edge of Tomorrow/All You Need is Kill. He talks a little bit about the movie and manga adaption’s of his original novel.
- And of course, The New York Times Best Sellers List for the week for July 5th.
A lot of those stories were slated to be linked to in last week’s column, but due to the flood of manga news they got bumped back until now. Better late than never! With that done, it’s onto this week’s featured review of The Seven Deadly Sins, Vols. 1 + 2.
The land of Brittania is in turmoil! A group known as the Holy Knights have overthrown the King, forcing Princess Liones to seek help from the legendary group of knights known as The Seven Deadly Sins. Unfortunately for her, the group has been declared outlaws for nearly a decade following an attempted coup of their own. Struggling to save her kingdom Liones must track down these outlaws and uncover the conspiracy surrounding the Holy Knights actions, in Nakaba Suzuki’s The Seven Deadly Sins, Vols. 1 + 2.
It’s Wednesday, which means it must be time for another review! With the recent release of Knights of Sidonia on Netflix, I figured now would be a good time to revisit the series with a look at Knights of Sidonia, Vols. 5 + 6. Before we get to the review though, there’s a ton of manga news out of Anime Expo from this past weekend. Below are a few manga highlights from the con.
- Darkhorse has announced plans to release the Panty & Stocking manga, a Satoshi Kon art book, and Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service omnibus collections. Later on during the convention, they also announced that they’ll be releasing a new Neon Genesis Evangelion parody manga as well.
- JoJo fans rejoice! Viz announced its plans to release JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency, Phantom Blood and Stardust Crusaders, both in digital and physical release forms. They’ve also added several titles to their Shojo Beat line, including Vampire Knights: Life and Meteor Prince among others.
- DMP also has some announcements to make, including the fact that Osamu Tezuka’s Captain Ken Kickstarter has reached its goal of $13k. In addition they’ll be releasing Tezukua’s Mr. Cactus through their Digital Manga Guild program.
- Rounding out Anime Expo’s manga announcements is Vertical announement that they’ve licensed Dream Fossil: The Complete Satoshi Kon. It’s a massive single volume that every other Satoshi Kon manga that hasn’t already been licensed or published in the US.
- And finally, The New York Times Best Sellers List for the week for June 28tht, which sees Attack in Titan: No Regrets, Vol. 1 making it’s debut on the best sellers list.
That’s just a taste of the news that came out of the convention, if you want more I highly recommend swinging by Anime News Network and checking out their full coverage. Before you go running off to do that though, stay and take a look at this week’s featured review of Knights of Sidonia, Vols. 5 + 6!
Set in the distant future when mankind has been forced to the stars in massive ships like the Sidonia as they battle for their very existence against the biological nightmare knows as the Gauna, Knights of Sidonia is a sci-fi/horror series from the brilliant Tsutomu Nihei, creator of Blame! and Biomega. As a meteor controlled by the alien Gauna threatens the Sidonia, Tanikaze and the other young pilots of the mecha’s known as Garde’s find themselves facing off against a veritable army of Gauna’s, and even if they can survive the initial wave of Gauna guarding the meteor, can any of them stand against the enigmatic and unique Gauna dubbed the Hawk Moth? All this and looming threat from within awaits in Knights of Sidonia, Vols. 5 + 6.
Welcome to the latest review at Sequential Ink! This week I’ll be taking a look at Say I Love You, Vol. 2, but first, please enjoy some news-y tidbits!
- Starting this weekend, Netflix will be streaming Knights of Sidonia, the anime adaption of Tsutomu Nihei’s sci-fi manga currently being released in the US by Vertical.
- DC Comics has announced that it plans to release the 1960’s Jiro Kuwata Batmanga in the US. The series is currently slated to be released as a digital series, and later in a three volume collection. The series debuts this weekend on DC Comics app, and similar digital comic sites.
- Kodansha Comics is giving you a chance to win original artwork with it’s Vinland Saga contest. For creating an interesting and compelling character who could exist in the world of Vinland Saga, you could own one of three character portraits from the series creator, Makoto Yukimura, featuring Thorkell, Askeladd or Thorfinn!
- And finally, The New York Times Best Sellers List for the week for June 21st, topped by Vertical’s release of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, Vol. 6!
With the news roundup out of the way, it’s onto this weeks featured review of Say I Love You, Vol. 2!
With volume 2 of Say I Love You, Kanae Hazuki continues to use Yamatao and Mei’s growing relationship and their circle of friends to explore the rocky shores of teenage relationships. With the introduction of several new characters, she takes the opportunity to look at body issues, teen sex, and more in this fascinating shojo series.
Welcome to the latest review at Sequential Ink! This week I’ll be taking a look at Battle Royale: Angel’s Border, but first some news items and things that caught my eye during the week.
- NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour takes a look at Edge of Tomorrow , the big budget live action adaption of All You Need is Kill and other movies in a show about “noble flops”.
- David Brothers has a nice little write up about the manga series, Ajin: Demi-Human. The series is currently serialized digitally on Crunchyroll, and is set to receive a physical release from Vertical at some point in the future.
- And finally, The New York Times Best Sellers List for the week for June 14th.
And now onto the featured review of Battle Royale: Angel’s Border!
Created in 1999, Battle Royale was the debut novel of Koushun Takami. It’s a brutal tale set in an alternate authoritarian version of Japan which holds a yearly contest known only as “The Program.” Once a year a 9th grade class is picked to take part in “The Program” which forces the students to fight to death until only one remains. Now, for the first time in nearly a decade, Koushun Takami returns to his international sensation with Battle Royale: Angel’s Border. This single volume manga’s a collection of two short stories set around the events of the original Battle Royale novel. In Episode I, Toushun explores the friendship between Yukie and Haruka, the two girls who helped organize the all girl group that hid inside the lighthouse in the original novel. Episode II likewise takes a character from the all girl group, Chisato, and expands upon her relationship with the athletic computer genius, Shinji Mimura.
Welcome back to Sequential Ink, or just welcome for those visiting for the first time. For those wondering, I’ve spent the last year or so writing Manga in Minutes column for Comics Should Be Good, part of Comic Book Resources. My association with them is now at an end, but my review writing isn’t! With that in mind I’ll be dusting off this blog and posting weekly manga reviews every Wednesday night between 6 and 7 PM EST. As time goes on I may expand a bit and return to mixing in American comic reviews and novel reviews as well, but first things first.
Now that that’s taken care of, let’s take a look at a few news items that caught my eye this past week.
- Over the weekend Yen Press announced several new licenses, including Kingdom Hearts II, Secret a series from the creator of Doubt and Judge, Sword Art Online Progressive and more!
- ANN’s reporting that Takehiko Inou’s Vagabond will be delayed until the Fall. The series has been on hiatus in Japan since Feb. and was originally set to return this week.
- And finally, The New York Times Best Sellers List for the week for June 7th sees Attack on Titan, Vol. 1 mark a full year of being present upon the best sellers list!
Speaking of Attack on Titan, with the news out of the way it’s time to take a look at Attack on Titan: No Regrets, Vol. 1!
Adapted from a visual novel included with the Japanese Blu-Ray release of Attack on Titan, Jikaru Sugura’s Attack on Titan: No Regrets, Vol. 1 delves into the history of Levi, one of the more popular characters in the series, and promises to show how he met Commander Erwin, joined the Survey Corps and became the character fans know and love.
Errantry: Strange Stories, a collection of short, strange stories is the latest release from Elizabeth Hand. This collection is comprised primarily of tales about normal people and their encounters with things far beyond the norm.
Being a short story collection each tale is ultimately different, dealing with different characters and ideas, though many are unified by shared themes. The most obvious among them being encounters with the supernatural and otherworldly, and the recent loss of a loved one. This turns up again and again in the volume, most notably in the opening story, “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon“, “Uncle Lou” and the deeply unsettling “Near Zennor”. In addition Hand often sets the stories in the wilderness or at the edge of civilization. Isolated Maine communities, something fans of her Cassandra Neary stories should be familiar with, hard to reach, rural English towns, abandoned islands in the South and more. Hand uses these lonely, natural settings as “soft spots” areas where the skin between the “mundane” real world we all know and the “other” world is at its thinnest and where they often interact. They’re the areas one expects and associates legends of fairy mounds, hauntings, big foot encounters and more. These encounters almost always occur without explanation which, bizarrely, lends them a certain grounded feeling. As a result, each feels less like some spectacular, over the top urban fantasy story, and instead carry the same feeling as modern accounts of encounters with ghosts, UFO’s and other unexplained phenomena. It’s a smart move and one that makes the encounters that much more effective and genuine.
While all the stories are entertaining and enjoyable, the stand out in this volume is easily “Near Zennor”. The story starts off normally enough and focuses on a man dealing with the death of his wife. What starts out as an attempt to clear out her belongings leads him on a quest with disturbing implications regarding her childhood, and ultimately leads to one of the most terrifying and disturbingly realistic paranormal encounters I’ve ever come across in fiction. It’s a moment that left me deeply unnerved, and something that haunted my dreams and left me with an unsettled feeling which lingered for several days after having read it.
Errantry seems like it would be a decent introduction to her work for newcomers, while appealing to her already existing fanbase by collection some of these wonderful gems in one handy location. All in all, it’s an enjoyable and solid collection with “Near Zennor” along being worth the price of admission.
Errantry: Strange Stories is available now from Small Beer Press. Review copy provided by the publisher.
Those of you are regular visitors, or who happen to have this site in your blog feed, may have noticed that updates have been few and far between in recent months. Initially this was mainly due to changes in my personal life and other demands upon my time. In the past month or so though, it’s been due to the fact that I’ve begun writing Manga reviews for the Comics Should Be Good blog over at Comic Book Resources. As things stand now, my Manga reviews will be exclusively appearing in the Manga in Minutes I’m writing for the blog. It’s usually updated every Wednesday evening, but I’ll be taking the next few weeks off due to the Holidays.
So where’s that leave Sequential Ink? At the moment I have no intention of closing the blog down, though I won’t be reviewing Manga here for the foreseeable future. I still hope to update this when I have the chance, but the reviews will most likely be limited to American comics and the odd Japanese novel, including light novels, that I come across.
I just wanted to take this chance to let those of you who do follow this blog know what was happening, and to thank those of you who have been visiting and reading the blog over the past few years.
Thank you, and I hope everyone has a good Holiday season!
Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters
By August Ramone
Chronicle Books, 200 pp
Rating: Not Rated
Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters is a look back at the life and career of one of the most influential names in Japanese cinema. Perhaps best known in the west as one of the co-creators of Godzilla, Tsuburaya’s legacy goes far beyond that and August Ramone does a fantastic job at illuminating other aspects of this legendary creator’s life and career.
The bulk of the book focuses on the different eras of Tsuburaya’s career, beginning with a biographical like look back at Tusburaya’s childhood, his family and more before it segues into his career in special effects. While the early days of his life certainly hold some interest it’s Tsuburaya’s film career that’s the main attraction here, and what a career it is. As I mentioned above, if people have heard of Tusburaya in America it’s mostly likely as a co-creator of Godzilla, but August Ramone shows that he’s gone far beyond on that and makes a good case for Tsuburaya being an incredible innovator and driving force behind key trends in Japanese pop culture; not to mention laying the ground work for Japanese visual effects and creating techniques, methods, and even camera rigs, which are still used to this day. Along the way he touches bases with all of his famous movies, and a fair amount which Western audiences are probably ignorant of. The Godzilla and Ultraman franchise both figure heavily into the book, but along the way are other movies and TV shows he was involved with as well, including his propaganda films and works such as Booska, a children’s TV series.
In addition to the main chapters focusing on different parts of Tsuburaya’s career, there’s a number of essays and articles from other writers, critics and contemporaries. These range from brief looks at the toys based upon Tsuburaya’s creations, to a look at the careers of his associates like Ishiro Honda and Akira Ifukube, to accounts and remembrances of working at Tsuburaya Productions from his son, Akira Tsuburaya.
If all this wasn’t enough, the book is also full of absolutely gorgeous, eye catching, high quality photographs, giving readers a lovely look behind the scenes of shows like Ultra Q, the Godzilla movies and more. Images of Tsuburaya at work, various movie posters, toys, statues and more litter almost every page of the book, making it a visual treat as well as an engaging read.
After reading Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters, I found myself wishing that more of these movies and TV shows were available in the US. While several of the major ones, a large chunk of the Godzilla cannon is currently unavailable, as are a number of movies and TV shows he had worked on. To make matters worse, the book isn’t available anymore either! Still, this is most definitely a must have for hardcore fans of Tsuburaya’s various creations and is worth tracking down through your local library system if you don’t feel like paying through the nose for it.
Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monters was published by Chronicle Books.