My News and Reviews
This week is the Manga Moveable Feast for Karakuri Odette, hosted by Anna at Manga Report. I'll have in-depth review of the first volume up on Wednesday and a related silly something to post on Friday. Technically, today's post features a quick take of the first five volumes. That means every post this week will have at least a little something to do with Karakuri Odette and the Manga Moveable Feast, so go me! I happen to really like androids and had never read Karakuri Odette before, so I'm particularly interested in seeing what people have to say.
In not-so breaking news, I won a ticket to the Gantz World Premiere event taking place on January 20th! In honor of this, my giveaway for the month will be a brand new copy of the first volume of the Gantz manga. The contest will open next Wednesday, the 26th, and run for a week, so be on the look out.
As for last week, I posted some tips on effectively finding and buying manga at Borders--Finding Manga: Borders. I love Borders and really hope they're able to pull through their troubles. I'm doing my part by buying lots of stuff from them, manga and otherwise. I also posted a review of a financial thriller that takes place in Tokyo, At the Sharpe End, which was sent to me by the author Hugh Ashton.
Beyond My Touch by Tomo Maeda. I was a little surprised by how much I enjoyed Beyond My Touch. The volume collects three stories, all with a sort of melancholy feel to them. The titular story was probably my favorite. A young man is haunted by the ghost of a recently deceased classmate and discovers just how alone he was before. Maeda could have gone for the tragically sad ending, but instead goes for a more bittersweet one. What could have simply been silly and goofy was actually rather touching. I wasn't quite as fond of the second two, shorter stories ("Cool Lips" and "Recipe"), although I did enjoy them as well. It's a cute collection.
Crying Freeman, Volumes 1-5 written by Kazuo Koike and illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegami. Yo Hinamura is the world's greatest assassin and as the appointed heir to the criminal syndicated known as the 108 Dragons, there are plenty of people after his and his loved ones' lives. For some inexplicable reason, all fights apparently must be conducted either nearly or completely in the nude. But Ikegami's bodies are gorgeous and his fight scenes beautiful, so I must say I'm not going to complain too much (at least about that). The large tattoos that cover many of the characters are stunning and intricate I don't envy Ikegami having to illustrate them panel after panel.
Deadman Wonderland, Volume 1 written by Jinsei Kataoka and illustrated by Kazuma Kondou. I haven't heard much about Deadman Wonderland and don't remember why I picked it up, but I'm glad that I did--this was another manga that I was surprised by how much I liked it. Ganta is a survivor of the Great Tokyo Earthquake which sank 70% of the city. Ten years later, he's the only suspect in the massacre of his middle school class and is sentenced to Deadman Wonderland, a privately owned detention facility cum violently bizarre theme park. I have no idea what is really going on at this point (granted, neither does Ganta), but I want to know!
Karakuri Odette, Volumes 1-5 by Julietta Suzuki. Perhaps surprisingly, Odette is actually not my favorite character in Karakuri Odette. That honor probably goes to either Professor Yoshizawa or Chris and I liked the story best when at least one of them was around. Although, Asao is pretty great, too. I found that I enjoyed the heavier science fiction aspects of the series than I did the school life aspects, but overall the series is quite charming. My biggest complaint about Karakuri Odette is that characters seem to be introduced only to disappear (and sometimes reappear) with very little justification. Still, I like the series and look forward to the final volume.
Seven by Momoko Tenzen. Separated after the orphanage they were institutionalized in burned down, Mitsuha has been unsuccessfully searching for his younger brother for years when he meets a young man with an eerily similar background and name. Meanwhile, his brother has his own reasons for not reaching out to find his older brother. The most interesting aspects of the manga, the mysterious backgrounds of several of the characters, are actually only hinted at and mostly left up to the imagination. The dialogue can be a bit difficult to follow at times and it's not always clear who is speaking. Overall though, I did like the general atmosphere of the manga.
Hula Girls directed by Lee Sang-il. Based on a true story and winner of quite a few film awards, Hula Girls is heartfelt and inspiring. I first learned about the film because ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro (who I am a huge fan of) was responsible for most of the music and soundtrack. A small mining town in rural Japan is slowly dying as the world turns away from coal to embrace oil. The company initiates a plan to build a Hawaiian themed spa in an attempt to keep at least some of the workers employed. They face adversity, and most of the town is against the retreat, but the coal miners' daughters pour their hearts and souls into the project.
Planetes: Complete Collection, directed by Gorō Taniguchi. Many of the things and moments that I loved from the manga were absent from the anime, but the animated series has its own charms. The two start out very similar, but the ending of the anime is quite different and more thoroughly explores aspects of the Planetes universe that the manga only touches on. The manga and the anime complement each other nicely and are different enough that it's hard to say which I prefer. If I had to choose, I would probably say the anime, but I really liked them both. Planetes is great, believable, near future science fiction with plenty realism and a lot of heart.