My News and Reviews
Not much news here, not that there ever really is, but I did post a review last week for The Journey to the West, Volume 3. I only have one more volume to go in Anthony C. Yu's translation of this Chinese classic. However, the post that I'm particularly happy with from last week is Random Musings: 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die--Japan. I found an excuse to not only make a list, but a spreadsheet!
And now for fun things online: Connie of Slightly Biased Manga has a great list of Medical Manga that I would recommend checking out. Also, Yaoi-con was this weekend. Arguably the biggest news to come out of the con this year is that Viz Media is starting a boys' love imprint called SuBLime. (Note the BL in the name.) It's starting out as digital, but print manga is expected to launch this coming spring. The link to Anime News Network's article on the announcement can be found here.
The Horror Manga Moveable Feast begins today! I've got a vampire-filled quick takes section for your enjoyment here (plus Samurai 7 because I felt like watching it). Later this week I'll be posting an in-depth review of the manga adaptation of Otsuichi's award-winning novel Goth. The Feast will be running through the 31st, so I'll have another batch of horror themed quick takes ready for next week, too.
Hellsing, Volumes 1-8 by Kohta Hirano. What do you get when you have fanatical groups of Catholics, Protestants, and Nazis, with vampires and werewolves thrown in for good measure, who all want to kill each other? You get the insanity that is Hellsing. There's not really much of a plot beyond that, but none is really needed. Hirano is obviously having a lot of fun with this series and the readers are in for one hell of a ride. There's plenty of blood, gore, and violence, but Hirano's artwork is well suited for what is asked of it. My favorite character is easily Alucard and I wish that he would show up more in the series than he actually does. But when he does make an appearance it is extremely memorable.
Taimashin: The Red Spider Exorcist, Volume 1 written by Hideyuki Kikuchi and illustrated by Shin Yong-Gwan. I'm not really sure what's going on yet in Taimashin, but I don't really care because I'm so enthralled by the titular red spider exorcist. I think that is somewhat the point, though. Megumi doesn't really know what's going on either, but for some reason she's being pursued by demons. She is told to seek the aid of Akamushi, an elegant Noh dancer gifted with astounding supernatural abilities. Some of the scenes are actually pretty creepy. Yong-Gwan's art is very clean and attractive, Akamushi in particular. I'd like to see where things go with Taimashin, and I'd like to see more of Akamushi, so I'll be picking up the next volume in the series.
Vampire Hunter D, Volume 1 by Saiko Takaki. Not having read the Vampire Hunter D novels, I don't know how the manga adaptation compares. I can say that it does make me want to give the original a try, though. D is certainly the most compelling character, which is understandable; he is the hero of the series, after all. He's dark and brooding and beautiful. As a vampire hunter, he's also a talented fighter. I like the setting of Vampire Hunter D, a post-apocalyptic far future where humanity is just barely hanging on. Vampires, known as the Nobility, who rule over the humans and hold much of the power are now in decline as well. But that doesn't mean they are any less dangerous.
Vampire's Portrait, Volume 1 by Hiroki Kusumoto. For as sexy as the vampire Sein is supposed to be, there is absolutely no chemistry between him and his supposed romantic interest Lou. I actually found the Vampire's Portrait to be rather frustrating for just that reason. It's supposed to be a boys' love title but the characters' development is completely lacking and their relationship is unconvincing. Don't let the cover fool you. The best part of the volume is the showdown between Sein and his brother, particularly when Sein's "true face" is finally revealed to Lou and the readers. The scene and his appearance is fantastically frightening. In fact, I would consider Kusumoto's artwork to be the highlight of this manga.
Samurai 7 directed by Toshifumi Takizawa. Samurai 7 is a very interesting interpretation and adaptation of Kurosawa's classic film Seven Samurai. I quite enjoyed it and found the anime to be very engaging. Occasionally some of the parallels seem a bit forced, but at other times they're pulled off brilliantly. The series is at its best when it doesn't try to adhere to strictly to the original story and is free to be itself. The animation and production values are consistently high throughout. Samurai 7 grants some new takes on the characters involved in the story, as well. The portrayal of Katsushiro as an eager young man who matures and grows drastically is particularly well done.