My News and Reviews
I posted two reviews last week, neither of which have anything to do with manga whatsoever. As I've mentioned before in passing, I study traditional Okinawan karate kobudō. Because of this I was interested in learning more about Okinawan history. George H. Kerr's study Okinawa: The History of an Island People was exactly what I was looking for. It is the first and one of the only comprehensive histories of Okinawa available in English. My second review was for Todd Shimoda's novel Subduction with artwork by his wife L. J. C. Shimoda. The illustrations and overall design of the book were some of my favorite parts of the novel.
Digital Manga has launched their latest Kickstarter project. The company hopes to publish Osamu Tezuka's Unico in English and in full color. The project already has a ton of support and I'm expecting it to be successful. Plus, if the project meets it's goal quickly, Digital Manga will announce yet another Tezuka manga to be licensed. As much as I love seeing Tezuka available in English, I hope that Digital Manga will consider other titles to fund through Kickstarter, too. Another project I'd like to draw your attention to is for Laurianne Uy's Polterguys, Volume 1, a fun manga-inspired comic. You can learn more about Laurianne and read Polterguys at her website Laurbits.com.
This week is the Takehiko Inoue Manga Moveable Feast! Anna and Michelle, the co-hosts for this month's Feast, have a nice kickoff post. Below, I have a quick take for the first couple of volumes of Inoue's series Slam Dunk. I previously reviewed the first Vagabond omnibus and later this week I'll be reviewing the second. Buried in some of my past Library Love posts, I have a couple of quick thoughts on Real, which is probably my favorite series by Inoue. Happy Feasting, everyone!
Calling by Miu Otsuki. Calling was a really nice surprise. I wasn't expecting much out of the manga, but it turned out to be an excellent boys' love one shot. One of the best things about Calling is that Otsuki avoids many of the unfortunate and often used tropes of the genre, especially those dealing with rape. When Kazuaki tells Kira to stop, Kira stops. (Seriously, consent is hot.) The story is much better for it, too. The men's relationship deepens and matures more naturally than it would have otherwise. The two obviously care for each other and make for a very affectionate couple. There are conflicts and misunderstandings in Calling, but it is a very sweet manga with well-developed characters.
Sanctuary, Volumes 1-4 written by Sho Fumimura (Buronson) and illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegami. Akira Hojo and Chiaki Asami are two ambitious young men who are determined to transform Japan together, Hojo working through the underground and Asami working through the political system. Their struggle to rise to power is fraught with challenges as they confront corruption and very real danger. They have literally put their lives on the line to reach their goal. Sanctuary is thrilling. Hojo and Asami advance only to be pushed back again. They just barely manage to hang on to control of the situation. One wrong move and all of their efforts will come to nothing. This series is fantastic and I'm really looking forward to reading the rest.
Slam Dunk, Volumes 1-2 by Takehiko Inoue. Slam Dunk was the first of Inoue's manga to be translated into English. Initially published by Raijin Comics, the license was later rescued Viz Media. Slam Dunk was Inoue's breakthrough manga. The story follows Hanamichi Sakuragi, a big guy and high school delinquent who joins the basketball team in order to win the affection of a girl. Except, he doesn't really know much about basketball. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how funny the series is. It was also interesting to see Inoue's earlier, more simple (but still dynamic) style of drawing. Although I don't feel compelled to rush out to find out what happens next, I enjoyed these first two volumes and would like to read more.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Episodes 14-26 directed by Kenji Kamiyama. It's been a while since I've watched any Stand Alone Complex, but because so many of the episodes stand on their own, I found myself falling back into the series fairly easily. Unfortunately, some of those episodes can be rather tedious; although there's some good world building, there's a lot of talk and not much action. I would find my attention wandering, making it difficult to follow some of the political machinations that become important later on. But when the series actually gets around to kicking into gear, it's great. The animation quality is excellent, too. And I'm never going to complain about a soundtrack by Yoko Kanno.