Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, Vols. 1-3

August 31, 2018 1 comment

Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, Vol. 1Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, Vols. 1-3
by Clamp, translated by Kevin Gifford
Kodansha Comics
Rating: Teen (13 +)

Originally published in Japan in 1996, Cardcaptor Sakura used the premise of young Sakura and her friends— Tomoyo, Syaoran, Cerberus, and more—as they sought to capture the magical Clow Cards which were wreaking havoc in their town. While the premise may sound a bit tired and worn, fans and readers of the original series know it was so much more that. In the skillful hands of Clamp, an all woman Japanese art group, Cardcaptor Sakura used a fairly straight forward magical girl premise to launch into an exploration of love and friendship in all their different flavors. Now, two decades later, Clamp returns to continue the adventures of Sakura and company with Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card! Set shortly after the climax of the original series, Clear Card follows Sakura as she enters into a new phase of her life, middle school. With the Clow Cards under wraps, her life was slowly returning to normal, but Sakura’s hard earned peace doesn’t last for long and she soon finds herself faced with new two threats: the mysterious Clear Cards, and the hooded figure seemingly tied to their appearance.
Read more…


Guardians of the Louvre

July 24, 2018 1 comment

Cover to Guardians of the LouvreGuardians of the Louvre
by Jirô Taniguchi, Translation by Kumar Sivasubramanian
NBM Publishing, 136 pps.
Rating: Not Rated

Commissioned by the Louvre as part of The Louvre Collection—a series of graphic novels by various creators based upon the museum and its collection of works—Jirô Taniguchi’s Guardians of the Louvre is the tale of a Japanese artist’s fevered wanderings through the museum as he finds himself reliving moments from the history of the museums and its artwork.
Read more…

Neo-Parasyte M

July 16, 2018 Leave a comment

The Cover to Neo-Parasyte MNeo-Parasyte M
by Various Creators, Parasyte created by Hitoshi Iwaaki, Translation by Kevin Steinbach
Kodansha Comics, 288 pps.
Rating: Older Teen (16 +)

Following in the steps of Neo-Parasyte F, Neo-Parasyte M is an anthology of short works set within the world created by Hitoshi Iwaaki in his critically acclaimed sci-fi/horror series, Parasyte. The original series, published in the late 80s/early 90s, told the story of a teenage boy, Shinichi, and the parasitic alien organism which took control of his right hand. The series has had a surprisingly long and successful life, with no less than three different releases in the U.S. and a broadcast spot on Toonami for its anime adaptation back in 2015. Neo Parasyte M presents a smorgasbord of short stories from various creators, all paying homage in their own unique way to Hitoshi Iwaaki’s original series. Among the contributors are several names which should be recognizable to U.S. manga fans, such as Moto Hagio, Hiroki Endo, and Hiro Mashima. The tales range from speculative tales about what could happen next in the world of Parasyte, to sophomoric comedy tales, and beyond!
Read more…

To Your Eternity, Vols. 1 + 2

July 2, 2018 Leave a comment

The cover of To Your Eternity, Vol. 1To Your Eternity, Vols. 1 + 2
by Yoshitoki Oima, translation by Steven LeCroy
Kodansha Comics
Rating: Teen (13 +)

An immortal being wanders through the ages, taking on new shapes and forms, learning and growing, slowly becoming something resembling a human being, but what exactly does that mean? From Yoshitoki Oima, the creator of the critically acclaimed A Slient Voice, comes To Your Eternity, Vols. 1+2.
Read more…

Battle Angel Alita: Deluxe Edition, Vol. 1

June 18, 2018 Leave a comment

The cover to Battle Angel Alita: Deluxe Edition, Vol. 1Battle Angel Alita: Deluxe Edition, Vol. 1
by Yukito Kishiro, translated by Stephen Paul.
Kodansha Comics, 430 pp.
Rating: Older Teen (16 +)

The dystopian future presented by Yukito Kishiro is both horrific and strangely beautiful. The wealthy and powerful live in a floating city, tethered to the ground, while the rest of humanity literally live off the scraps and refuse they dump onto the land below. The sprawling city of Scrapyard is a cyberpunk favela, where life is rough, violent, and full of bizarre outcasts. Yet it’s also a place of dreams, success stories, and families who will kill to defend their loved ones. In this industrial nightmare landscape ugly desperation and moments of deep kindness intermingle. Into this world comes Alita, who starts off as nothing but a torso, but through the kindness and fatherly affection of Dr. Ido, is given a refurbished cybernetic body. Unfortunately, nothing can be done for her apparent lack of memories, or explain her innate knowledge of a lost martial arts form. With little left to do, she follows in Dr. Ido’s footsteps and becomes a bounty hunter. Originally published in 1990, and long out of print in the United States, Battle Angel Alita: Deluxe Edition, Vol. 1 presents Yukito Kishiro’s classic cyberpunk story in a beautiful, oversized, hardcover edition, with a new translation!
Read more…

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Vol. 1

June 4, 2018 Leave a comment

Cover to "That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Vol. 1"That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Vol. 1
Written and created by Fuse, art by Taiki Kawakami, character designs by Mitz Vah, translated by Stephen Paul
Kodansha Comics, 240 pp.
Rating: Older Teen (16 +)

Satoru Mikami’s your typical Japanese office worker whose life is stuck in something of a rut until he becomes the victim of a random stabbing! Instead of the cold embrace of death, however, he awakens to find that he’s been reincarnated in a fantasy world as a ball of slime! With only his own wits and a mysteriously computerized voice to help guide him through his new existence, Mikami must find his way out of the cave he’s trapped in, figure out a way to deal with the dragon who’s living in the cave, and more! Based on the light novel series of the same name comes the manga adaption of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Vol. 1!
Read more…

Otomo: A Global Tribute to the Mind Behind Akira and Ghost in the Shell README: 1995-2017

May 26, 2018 Leave a comment

Cover to Otomo: A Global Tribute to the Mind Behind AkiraOtomo: A Global Tribute to the Mind Behind Akira
by Various Artists, translated by Kevin Steinbach
Kodansha Comics, 160 pp.
Rating: Mature (18 +)

Originally released as part of the Angouleme Interanational Comics Festival Grand Prix, a French comics expo, Otomo: A Global Tribute to the Mind Behind Akira was part of a larger celebration focused around the work of Katsuhiro Otomo and the 35th Anniversary of his groundbreaking work, Akira. Expanded upon for an international release, the edition available from Kodansha Comics includes contribution from over 80 artists from across three continents!

Otomo is essentially a coffee table art book full of wonderful, large, full color artwork from some of comics/manga/etc. brightest talents. While many of these will be new names to American fans, others are internationally acclaimed creators in their own right, arguably on par with Otomo himself. The contributions range from Masamune Shirow to Stan Sakai to Kin Jung Gi and more. For the most part, each tribute follows a fairly standard two page layout, with the left page consisting of a short bio of the artist, complete with published work, and then a large full page piece on the opposing right page. Occasionally this is broken up and varied with a short piece about the artists first encounter with Otomo’s work, or what Otomo’s work means to them, and a few even have thumbnails of other tribute art or an unfinished version of the larger piece. The most enjoyable and interesting entries are those with the little essays on Otomo’s influence as they give readers an idea of the scope of his influence in the global comics scene.

It’s an enjoyable book to flip through, and seeing contributions from some very big names in the manga scene was a real treat. It’s also fascinating to see what works get highlighted by whom and which get overlooked. Akira clearly outweighs his other work when it comes the American and European artists, but some of the Japanese and European contributions highlight works that have never made their way to the U.S., providing tantalizing glimpses into Otomo’s works outside of Akira, Domu and his anime contributions. Sadly, no one seemed to highlight his Cup Ramen work.

Cover to Ghost in the Shell README: 1995-2017Ghost in the Shell README: 1995-2017
by Drillmaster, translated by Kevin Steinbach
Kodansha Comics, 160 pp.
Rating: Mature (18 +)

Released in the lead up to the release of the live action Ghost in the Shell movie, Ghost in the Shell README: 1995-2017 takes a look back at the various anime incarnations of Shirow Masamune’s Ghost in the Shell franchise. In addition, there are two short roundtable style interviews: one featuring Atsuko Tanaka and Maaya Nakamoto, the two Japanese voice actresses who have portrayed Major Motoko Kusanagi over the years, and the other with Mamoru Oshii, Kenji Kamiyama, and Kazuchika Kise, the directors of the various anime adations.

The bulk of the book is made up of chapters focusing on each Ghost in the Shell adaption, with different subsections focusing on story summaries, character designs, and sections highlighting some of the common questions regarding the themes and plots. The visuals are probably the biggest draw, but unfortunately they’re a little lacking. The various character, mechanical, and set designs are engaging and intriguing to look at, and seeing the designs laid out in such a matter of fact fashion can also lead to some new appreciation to the visual themes running through the different adaptions. It’s also worthing noting, that while the material on the anime adaptions are probably the draw, the book actually opens with a chapter about the live action adaption, including some interesting visual comparisons between the movie and the various anime, plus brief tantalizing sections on the decision making process behind what to include and what not to.

While the book offers a nice, little, behind the scenes glimpse into the Ghost in the Shell franchise, it’s also a bit lighter on information that one might hope. All the material presented is interesting and engaging, but there just isn’t enough of it to really make Ghost in the Shell README: 1997-2017 feel like a must have.

Otomo: A Global Tribute to the Mind Behind Akira and Ghost in the Shell: Read Me: 1995-2017 are available now from Kodansha Comics. Review copies provided by the publisher.

%d bloggers like this: