My News and Reviews
Last week the Read or Dream Giveaway Winner was announced. The post also includes some stories of surprising manga that were shared as part of the contest. As it was the beginning of the month, the Bookshelf Overload for August was also posted last week. And just to make things a little more interesting, I reviewed Shige Nakamura's boxing manga Wolf. Although I'm interested in martial arts, I've never been particularly interested in boxing. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed Wolf. I also updated the Resources page last week. It's been a while since I've added anything, but I recently came across a couple of interesting blogs: Brain Vs. Book (book and manga reviews and such from Japanese translator Jocelyne Allen) and Lesley's Musings…on Manga. I've also updated the Manga Moveable Feast Archives page so that it now includes more of the upcoming Feasts that have been scheduled.
Onto good stuff I've found online! Vertical has posted a licensing survey polling readers for licensing suggestions for the summer of 2013. The poll will be available until September 26, so do check it out. Blog of the North Star and The Land of Obscusion tackled the English edition of Fist of the Blue Sky, a prequel to Fist of the North Star. I actually haven't read Fist of the Blue sky yet, but their conversation makes me want to read it sooner rather than later. Okazu is starting a new series of posts taking a look at the history and study of yuri, beginning with Prologomena to the Study of Yuri, Part 1. Finally, Ken Liu, contributor to the Haikasoru speculative fiction collection The Future is Japanese (which I previously reviewed), has posted his story notes for "Mono no aware," one of my favorite stories in the anthology.
Chi's Sweet Home, Volumes 8-9 by Konami Kanata. Chi's Sweet Home is a series that always manages to make me smile. As someone who owns (or perhaps is owned by) a couple of cats, I frequently find myself chuckling out loud while reading the manga. Sometimes, that sort of levity is just what I need and Chi's Sweet Home consistently provides it. These couple of volumes see Chi's relationship with Cocchi, a stray kitten, grow. He and Chi explore the outside world together and they get into all sorts of trouble. It's adorable how he's just as out of place among people as Chi is among the outdoor cats. They make a very entertaining pair. If you like cats, Chi's Sweet Home is a very cute series.
Right Here, Right Now, Volume 2 by Souya Himawari. Although Right Here, Right Now isn't an outstanding series, I've become rather fond of it. Takakage can be endearingly affectionate (and horny) but he also has quite a temper. He does seem to shift between these two aspects of his personality a bit too easily, though; the series changes quickly from being amusingly silly to rather serious depending on his mood. Some of the time traveling tropes in Right Here, Right Now seem forced and irrelevant to the story as a whole, but overall it's a solid little two volume series. Largely taking place during the Warring States period of Japan, I like how Himawari has incorporated the political turmoil and intrigue of the era into the plot.
Strain, Volumes 1-5 written by Buronson and illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegami. I absolutely loved Sho Fumimura and Ikegami's manga series Sanctuary, so when I learned that they had worked on another series together I knew I had to read it. Although not nearly as good as Sanctuary (which came first), I still found Strain to be a very engaging series. The trust and connections between characters are constantly shifting. Loyalty--to family, to comrades, to country--is a huge theme in the series. Some elements, such as Angel's sexual proclivities, seem to only be introduced for their shock value and are forgotten by the end of the series. And, as always, Ikegami's often photo-realistic artwork is marvelous to behold.
X, Omnibus 2-3 (equivalent to Volumes 4-9) by CLAMP. X is so deliciously epic. Yes, it's over-the-top, confusing, and the dialogue is ridiculous, but nonetheless I'm enjoying X immensely. The fight scenes are visually interesting even if it is difficult to follow the action. The plot developments don't always make a lot of sense, but the pace is quick and the story is enthralling if you don't mind the chaos. At times deadly serious and melodramatic, the manga is occasionally broken up by moments of humor, usually when Sorata is around. The omnibus editions include color artwork that was previously unreleased in North America, which is a very nice touch. I have no idea if or when the next omnibus volume will be published, but I'll definitely be picking it up if it ever is.
Kamui Gaiden directed by Yoichi Sai. I was sadly disappointed with Kamui Gaiden. Based on Sanpei Shirato's manga that was released in English as The Legend of Kamui, the original is so much better than the adaptation. I still like the overall story, but Kamui Gaiden is almost tedious to watch and some of the jumps in the narrative are hard to follow if you haven't read the manga. Many of the special effects are distracting and lacking in quality, making the ninja's movements seem awkward rather than natural. Some of the fight choreography still manages to be entertaining, though. And I did like Kenichi Matsuyama as Kamui. He plays vaguely melancholic characters well and I did enjoy watching him. Plus, fundoshi!