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!
The Aniblog Tourny is currently underway and this time around Sequential Ink is taking part in it. For those of you who don’t know, the Aniblog Tourny is a semi-annual tournament pitting different anime/manga blogs against each other. The sites are paired off and the one with the most votes moves onto the next round, and so forth and so on until only one remains.
Currently Sequential Ink is taking part in a first round match up against the fine folks over at Shonen Beam. So, if you haven’t already, please take a look around here and then go check out the competition before swinging by the Round 1: Matches 17 – 20 bracket and voting for one of us.
So, recently the existence of the Manwha Creator Bank and it’s accompanying Facebook page has come to my attention. It’s a joint project conceived by Netcomics and Seoul Animation Center in an attempt to help promote Manwha in other countries. The basic idea behind the site is that it’s a catalogue of about 49 Manwha series, containing brief synopses and short previews for each one. Some of these titles were familiar to me as US reader while others are completely new and unheard of. They ran the gamut from slice of life drama, historical action, fantasy, horror and more.
Here are three of the titles that caught my eye..
Namhansansung – Created by Gaya Kwon, Namhansansung is a piece of historical fiction set during the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592. I have to admit that I like the idea of a historical piece of fiction dealing with one of the various conflicts between Japan and Korea throughout the ages. While many are aware of Japan’s actions towards its Asian neighbors in the 20th century, this seems like it might give a bit of a glimpse at the deeper issues and length of the hostility between the two nations. On top of that Gaya Kwon’s artwork looks incredibly pretty, a bit stiff, yes, but still the brief preview had me wanting to see more and find out more about this tale and historical event.
3 Grams – Created by Jisue Shin, 3 Grams promises to to tell the story of a woman’s battle with ovarian cancer. The official summery says “This project was started with the intention of giving hope to those battling illnesses, but hopefully it will send a positive message to all the people going through tough times.” While a bit vague I’d by lying if I said I wasn’t interested in it in the same way I was interested in With The Light, it’s not a topic that’s usually covered in sequential art released in the US and seems more like something you’d see in a movie or novel, so the chance to see the material covered in this medium is one that intrigues and interests me. I have to admit that I’m rather fond of the simplistic looking artwork in the preview as well.
Green Smile – Created by Hyukjoo Kwon, Green Smile is a full color web series from Korea focusing on a young harp seal’s search for his mother after they’re separated following an encounter with hunters in the arctic. I have to admit that I’m something of a sucker for talking animal stories and the idea of Umbi, the young harp seal, looking for his mother kind of tugs on my heart strings a bit. The fact that it deals with seal hunters, whalers and more gives it a hint of social relevance that also appeals to me. The art in the preview does look awfully cartoonish but not enough to lessen my desire to see and read more of the series.
After talking about those titles I do feel the need to mention one other thing. This site really doesn’t seem to have been created with the fans in mind. Certainly potential fans can peruse the titles, look at the previews and then bug local publishers about possibly bringing some over, but the preview catalogues are clearly intended for licensing purposes. The previews are incredibly short, only a page or two at the most, and the entries include contact information for rights acquisitions and more. It’s certainly an interesting idea and there’s nothing wrong with attempting to promote your countries entertainment abroad but the short previews don’t do much more then whet your appetite for these series. The lack of press about it also makes me wonder how effective it’ll be, hence this entry being my attempt to help give it some attention and get some eyes on it. If nothing else the previews, summaries and story information should help give us an idea of how varied Manwha can be in both style and content.
Written by Adam Gallardo, Art by Nuria Peris and Sergio Sandoval
DarkHorse, 96 pp.
Rating: 8 +
Teresa’s trials and tribulations continue in the second volume of Gear School. After her spectacular showing during an alien attack, Teresa finds her confidence in piloting the giant war machines known as gears increasing. Sadly everything else seems to be dropping off. Her grades are down, athletics are down and she still can’t get up the courage to admit to her crush on a fellow classmate!
Gear School is very much a coming of age, high school tale set against a sci-fi backdrop. Teresa continues to contend with a wide variety of problems that most teens have to. Keeping up grades, peer pressure, a desire to fit in, a burgeoning love life and more. It’s just that her education also happens to include piloting giant war machines. One of the core issues in the second volume is Teresa’s problems with her more popular classmates. We had some glimpses of this in the first volume, fellow students insulting her friends, her abilities and the like. It’s a problem that causes her to take a rather large risk in this volume in an attempt to keep get them off her back. It’s an interesting idea and I’m sure most folks can certainly relate to wanting your more obnoxious and vocal classmates to leave you alone but we don’t really get to see much of the harassment in this volume and it makes her decision in the second half feel a bit odd for someone who’s generally been portrayed as fairly level headed.
The artwork continues to be lovely. There’s the vaguest hint of Japanese influence to it. I continue to love the character designs, particularly for the staff. The large amount of cybernetic implants and artificial limbs, combined with the creative designs for said prosthetics, make for some very unique and memorable appearances, even for characters that only appear for a panel or two. The land mech’s aren’t quite as cool or memorable looking as the the aerial ones from the previous volume. They look less like war machines and more like some of kind of awkward construction robot.
I enjoyed Gear School, vol. 2 even though I don’t think the story is quite as tight as it was in the first volume. I would like to have seen some more example of Teresa’s problems with her classmates, but given the slim size of the volumes I can kind of understand why we don’t see much of it here. Still, I did enjoy and hope to see more of this fun little series.
Gear School, Vol. 2 is available now from Dark Horse Comics.
By Gakuto Coda, Translated by Andrew Cunningham
Tokyopop, 232 pp
Rating: Teen (13 +)
The second of the thirteen volume Missing series brings more of the supernatural weirdness and magical theory that marked the initial volume. But this time Aki Kidono takes center stage, as her friends at the Literature Club race to solve the puzzle of a mysterious cursed fax which threatens her sanity and her life!
In the first volume, Aki Kidono played a rather crucial role. Being one of the two most capable and intelligent members of the five man literature club she was key in rescuing Kyoichi Utsume from the nebulous “other world.” During the course of the story it was mentioned that Kidono had a rather interesting link to the supernatural herself, and it’s that link and the cursed fax that brings it to the surface, which is the focus of this volume. That’s not the only thing that Gakuto Coda brings back from the original novel, as several supporting characters reappear and are expanded upon, including a mysterious “witch” who attends the same school as our protagonists. The horror in this volume felt a bit more tangible than in the original volume. I’m not sure if it’s just me; maybe I’m just more susceptible to the idea of being watched rather than being lost and confused, but about halfway through the volume is a fantastic sequence involving Aki and Ryoko that was wonderfully tense, creepy and paranoia inducing. The story is again clothed in the feeling of realism and research that made the original novel so enjoyable.
Unfortunately it’s not all roses, as it drags a bit in the beginning while the group attempts to establish whether or not the cursed fax is genuine, or whether it’s all in Kidono’s head. Speaking of Aki Kidono, she suffers the curse that seemingly all openly strong and capable female characters suffer from in Japanese fiction. Namely it’s all just a show and she’s not as strong as she presents herself. Also, after reading this I really had to wonder what the big deal about Kyoichi Utsume was in the original volume. He certainly comes across as an intelligent and capable person, but unfortunately he also comes across as pretty cold and unlikable, not to mention being a bit too perfect.
While the characters still feel fairly stock-ish, and the plot takes a little bit to really get going, I think the worst thing about this book is the last fifteen pages or so. No, they’re not the climax to the story, but a preview to the third volume that will probably never be printed. It’s a horrible, horrible tease of something that most likely will never come. In the end though, I was pretty glad that we at least got the first two volumes in English. They’re flawed, but still fairly entertaining, and the mysteries and the world that Coda is building are fascinating and I’d love to see more of them both.
Missing, vol. 2: Letter of Misfortune is available now.