Welcome to this pre-U.S. Thanksgiving edition of my midweek manga reviews! This week I’ll be looking at Brave 10, Vol. 4 by Kairi Shimotsuki and published by DMP. But first, some news!
- Last week it was revealed that Tsutomu Nihei’s Blame! would be receiving an anime adaption, but in an odd twist the adaption would be within the second season of Knights of Sidonia. The details became clear a few days ago with the release of the first trailer for Blame!
- How on the heels of the Marvel/Attack on Titan crossover, Marvel has announced that White Fox, a character created for a Marvel web series in Korea, will be appearing in Marvel’s American comics as part of the Avengers.
- And finally, the New York Times Best Sellers List for the week of Nov. 23rd.
With the news out of the way, it’s time for this week’s review of Brave 10, Vol. 4!
The fourth volume of Kairi Shimotsuki’s historical fantasy, Brave 10, furthers the continuing adventures of Saizo, Isanami, Sarutobi Sasuke and the rest of the warriors who comprise Yukimura Sanada’s Ten Braves, as they attempt to fend off attempts by rival warlords and their minions to capture Isanami and the mysterious power of the Kushitama. This volume features crazy monks, mysterious ninjas, internal rivalries and Saizo excerise a surprising amount of self awareness as the plot thickens and one of the Braves takes his leave.
After last weeks small delay, I’m back on track with my midweek manga reviews! This time around I’ll be taking a look at Kimagure Orange Road, Vols. 2 + 3, but first some news…
- More information regarding the Attack on Titan/Marvel cross over has come out, including the fact that it’s set to appear in the next few days in the pages of Brutus magazine in Japan.
- Over at Manga Xanadu, Lori Henderson has a nice write up about Vertical Comics upcoming digital releases for a number of their Tezuka series.
- Viz Media has opened it’s Fall 2014 Anime and Manga survey its anime/manga licensing survey. It’s rife with questions about buying, viewing and reading habits, and also has a section for license suggestions. Taking it will also give you a chance to win a $400 prize package.
- And finally, the New York Times Best Sellers List for the week of Nov. 16th.
And now, onto this weeks review of Kimagure Orange Road, Vols. 2 + 3..
Izumi Matsumoto’s classic 80s teen romance manga series continues with Kimagure Orange Road, Vols. 2 + 3! These volumes are full of the romantic comedy hijinks you’d expect, as missed signals, misunderstandings and more plague Kyosuke as he wrestles with his feeling for Ayukawa despite his ongoing relationship with her best friend, Hikaru. While the first volume felt a bit flat and bland, the humor and development in these two volumes helps with that problem tremendously, as does Matsumoto’s decision to grow out the supporting cast with in the form of Ayukawa’s boss at a restaurant, and by the introduction of Yuu, a childhood friend of Hikaru and Ayukawa’s who’s got designs on winning Hikaru’s heart.
Welcome to another midweek manga review! This week I’ll be looking at 1980s romantic comedy, Kimagure Orange Road, Vol. 1, but first, there’s quite a bit of news out of New York ComiCon from this past weekend…
- Last Thursday Viz announced plans to release Sui Ishida’s Tokyo Ghoul and Go Ikeyamada’s So Cute It Hurts.
- Yen Press had a slew of license announcements at NYCC, among then were Chaika the Coffin Princess, Prison School, Alice in Murderland, a re-release of Kaoru Mori’s Emma, and many more.
- Meanwhile, Kodansha Comics announced plans to release a number of series as well. Highlights include Inuyashiki from the creator of Gantz, Hiroya Oku; the Fairy Tail spin off series, Fairy Tail: Blue Minstral; and CLAMP’s Tsubasa WoRLD CHRoNiCLE. The Kodansha Comics news doesn’t end there, as news/rumor site Bleeding Cool snagged a short interview with editor Ben Applegate about the Attack on Titan franchise.
- Vertical revealed plans to continue releasing the Attack on Titan light novels, with announcements of Attack on Titan – Before the Fall: Kyklo and Attack on Titan: Harsh Mistress of the City. Perhaps the biggest news out of Vertical, is the creation of Vertical Comics, an imprint focusing on their manga releases while Vertical, Inc. will return to their prose fiction roots.
- And of course, last but not least is, The New York Times Best Sellers List for the week for October 19th, which sees Vertical’s Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, Vol. 7 taking the number one spot in a list with no less than four Attack on Titan books!
And now, the midweek manga review of Kimagure Orange Road, Vol. 1!
Originally created in the mid 80s, Izumi Matsumoto’s Kimagure Orange Road blends psychic powers, high school life, and teenage romance into a series that, as Jason Thompson put it in his House of 1000 Manga column, “was THE archetypal shonen rom-com”. Now, thanks to DMP and Emanga, this classic series is available for the first time in the US, and we’re finally able to take a look at the romantic misadventures of the love triangle made up of the secret psychic Kyosuke, the energetic tom-boyish Hikaru, and her best friend, the cool and aloof Ayukawa!
Welcome to another midweek manga review! This week I’ll be taking a look at Brave 10, Vols. 2 + 3. It’s been a bit of a slow news week, but there were still a few items that caught my eye.
- Roland Kelts authored a short article looking at some of the new markets for Japanese manga, with an eye towards India.
- Japan’s Sendai Airport will be sporting a 258 square foot mural from Katsuhiro Otomo, creator of Akira.
- Finally, The New York Times Best Sellers List for the week for October 5th.
And now, onto this week’s review of Brave 10, Vols. 2 +3!
Historical fiction is a genre that manga and anime seems to excel at. Of course, they tend to be pretty liberal with the fiction aspect, and Kairi Shimotsuki’s Brave 10 is no exception to this. Loosely based upon historical events and a group that may or may not have existed, the series follows the ninja Saizo Kirigakure, as he gets caught up with Isanami, a temple maiden who’s the sole survivor of a Tokugawa ninja attack upon her temple. Together the two find themselves caught up in the tumultuous events of the era. After the events of the volume one, the two find themselves aligned with the warlord, Yukimura Sanada, as he attempts to uncover the reasons behind the attack on Isanami’s temple and the secret behind the strange power she seems to wield.
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.
Shotaro Ishinomori’s manga classic, Skullman, is available for the first time in the US thanks to the fine folks at Comixology! This singe volume story tells the tell of a dark, masked avenger carrying out a war against a massive, secret organization that seemingly controls the world. Unlike his spiritual brothers in the Kamen Rider franchise, Skullman presents a rather grim take on the concept.
This is something I’ve been wanting to read for a while now and there’s something of an urban legend feel to it’s creation. The story goes that Ishinomori was asked to create a new hero for a kids show Toei was putting together. He presented them with this, Skullman, a dark, grim and possibly insane man waging a war against a secret organization. Reportedly the executives rejected it as being too violent and scary, so Ishinomori went home and after a few days he tweaked the concept and thus was born Kamen Rider. Indeed it’s hard to look at Skullman and not see quite a bit of Kamen Rider present in it. But make no mistake, the executives were right on this account; Skullman is surprisingly dark and he’s definitely not a knight in shining armor, he’s not even a knight in slightly tarnished armor, he’s a driven man who seems to take sadistic glee in the lives he takes and at one point even claims that genocide is an acceptable means to his ultimate end.
Shotaro Ishinomori’s artwork is lovely and effective. His action scenes are easy to follow but exciting and he does a fantastic job at conveying motion, speed and energy throughout the book. At times the cartoony style does seem to clash with the grim nature of the story and there are a few moments which lose a little impact because of it. In addition there’s another small issue with Skullman when it comes to visuals, namely… Skullman himself. His costume is fine, the all black clothing and the jacket that is vaguely evocative of some kind of military dress suit and the cape all work wonderfully together. It’s the helmet that really threw me a loop though. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the recent Skullman anime series, but Skullman’s helmet in this just doesn’t scream scary or skull to me. It’s a large, white helmet which covers most of his face, leaving his mouth and jaw exposed, with two giant red eyes. It’s not terribly skull-like and actually made me think of Riderman rather than.. a scary, skull like monstrosity. Still, despite this and the odd cartoony style I did love the book and it has some absolutely gorgeous moments. The opening with the giant bat in particular is visually impressive and memorable.
I’m incredibly glad that this is finally available in the US and I’m very thankful for both Ishinomori Productions and Comixology for getting it out to us, along with several other series of his that I’ve been interested in. While I did have some minor issues with the visuals as I mentioned above, and the ending feels a bit sudden and anti-climatic, I did enjoy reading this and I can see myself going back to it again and again in the future as well. Fans of classic manga, tokusatsu shows like Kamen Rider or the Power Rangers, and superhero fans in general should definitely give this a look.
Skullman is available now from Comixology.
Hush A Bye Baby
By Yuriko Matsukawa
DMG, 198 pp
Rating: 13 +
Hush A Bye Baby is a collection of three short stories from Yuriko Matsukawa, each focuses on a young woman and the man she loves. The title story is about a young woman working at an all night store who ends up handcuffed to a former member of a biker gang who’s out to clear his name. The two stories that follow it, “No Saint of Soupe” and “Professional Passion” take place at a French restaurant called Poete and focus on romances involving it’s two French chefs.
The three stories are rather run of the mill romances and follow the same formula, a young woman finds herself flustered by a pretty boy only to eventually realize that she has feelings for him. In “Hush A Bye Baby” this budding romance is set against the young man’s fight to clear his name for murder, while in “No Saint of Soupe” it’s set against the young man’s attempt to prove himself as a chef to his older brother and in “Professional Passion” it’s set against a young woman’s struggle to prove herself as a reporter. They’re not terribly memorable and all three male leads and female leads felt awfully alike.
Yuriko Matsukawa’s artwork is rather forgettable and unmemorable. There’s no stand out scenes and it all feels like the stereotypical shojo manga style, pretty boys, borderless panels, sparkles and toning scattered about. There’s little panel to panel flow and at times I had trouble following the flow of dialogue as the word bubbles were often accompanied by bubbleless internal dialogue scattered about, narration boxes and more. In addition to this none of the characters look particularly amazing, memorable or impressive and often look eerily similar to each other at times. Most of the book is composed of talking heads and upper body shots floating against white, grey or minimal backgrounds, giving the whole thing an oddly ungrounded feel.
Hush A Bye Baby ultimately did nothing for me whatsoever. None of the stories were particularly interesting and the book didn’t do much to make me want to seek out further works by Yuriko Matsukawa. I get that I’m not the target audience for shojo, but surely there are better and more memorable romance stories than this out there. Itazura Na Kiss, springs immediately to mind. At any rate the bland artwork and bland stories resulted in a wholly forgettable read.
Hush A Bye Baby is available now from Emanga.com. Digital review copy provided by the publisher.