You Are Browsing ' shojo ' Tag

By otakuman5000 On 2 Nov, 2011 At 01:54 AM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarKodansha USA doesn’t make a showing this week, instead waiting until the middle of the month with the sequels to its heavy hitters, Sailor Moon and Sailor V. Viz Media more than makes up for it though, inundating Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat fans. The final volume of the special Death Note Black Edition, which is cool, except I stocked up on the original release years ago. Other gems, like Kimi ni Todoke, continue, along with mysteriously popular manga like Ai Ore!

Classic shojo manga from the master.

But even with the Viz onslaught, all my money this week is going to Vertical. First there’s the newest volume of Twin Spica, the best manga about astronaut high school there is. But on top of that, we get the release of Princess Knight, a shojo manga from Osamu Tezuka originally released in the fifties. Princess Knight has been on my list of manga I desperately wanted translated ever since I found out what it was, so this is a nerdy dream come true. I’m disappointed that Vertical won’t be giving this the VIP treatment, instead opting for a cheaper soft cover edition that all fans can afford, but that won’t keep me from buying it.

So that’s me. The rest of this week’s manga releases are listed below. What will you be buying this week?

801 Media

  • Fallen Saints Kiss by You Higashino

Vertical, Inc.

  • Princess Knight volume 1 by Osamu Tezuka
  • Twin Spica volume 10 by Kou Yaginuma

Viz Media

  • Death Note Black Edition volume 6 by Tsugumi Ohba, art by Takeshi Obata
  • Ai Ore! volume 3 by Mayu Shinjo
  • Black Bird volume 1 by Kanoko Sakurakoji
  • Claymore volume 19 by Norihiro Yagi
  • D. Grayman volume 21 by Katsura Hoshino
  • Dengeki Daisy volume 7 by Kyousuke Motomi
  • Kimi ni Todoke volume 11 by Karuho Shiina
  • Oresama Teacher volume 5 by Izumi Tsubaki
  • Story of Saiunkoku volume 5 by Sai Yukino
  • Tegami Bachi volume 7 by Hiroyuki Asada
  • We Were There volume 13 by Yuki Obata

Manga release information is gathered from Comixology and Amazon.

By Charles On 17 Jul, 2011 At 03:04 AM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Editorials, Old School Otaku, Reviews | With 2 Comments

No GravatarHow would you react if one day your entire world was throw upside down? Would you pull yourself together and face this daunting new task, or would you run and hide and pray for it all to end? Would you be strong enough to protect your fiends, or would you be selfish and think only of yourself. Would you have the willpower to see your journey through to the very end, as scary and dismal as it might be, or would you just give up and fade into anonymity as the world around you descended into madness and anarchy?

Goggle "OP Single Hikari to Kage" and feel your heart melt.

These are the questions put forth in the manga “Magic Knights Rayearth,” one of the earlier works by development team CLAMP. While they might be better known for series like “Chobits,” “Cardcaptor Sakura” and the pivotal “X,” Rayearth is a lovely little title (and I do mean little: it’s only 3 volumes) that came and went in the late 1990s with little real fanfare, but which built up a rather sizable following here in the United States, mostly courtesy of Tokyopop.

 

Introducing Mokona. Yes, THAT Mokona.

Rayearth holds a special place in my heart, because it was one of the first manga I ever read. While nowadays getting manga is as easy as walking into a bookstore, library, or browsing the internet, way back in the late 90s, it was still a very limited, very niche market. While we see Shonen Jump and Yen Press monthly digests with regularity, back then there was pretty much just one magazine, if you could find it: MiXXzine, put out by one Stu Levy, who would eventually introduce manga to hordes of fans and then close shop, leaving a lot of them hanging.

 

MiXX contained four stories. In addition to Rayearth, there was an early translation of “Sailor Moon” (in which she was named “Bunny,” more accurate than Serena, but also not very serious for a hero), “Parasyte,” which was a violent, gritty story of alien invasions that I also still read and “Iceblade,” a story about an emotionless cop, which I haven’t seen since MiXX vanished. But of the four titles, it was Rayearth that I enjoyed the most, since it was a “MiXX” (hawhaw) of themes that I liked, right down to the JRPG feel of the quest, which appealed to the Final Fantasy/D&D dork inside. (The cute girls didn’t hurt either: I admit to having a huge crush on Hikaru. I was 16. Sue me.)

 

Can you blame me, she's cute.

So when I found a copy of the Omnibus for sale at this year’s Anime Mid-Atlantic, I had to get it, if only to take a brief trip down memory lane. (Also, I needed to finish the story. MiXX only published 1-2 chapters at a time, and I never got past the first volume of the story by the time the magazine vanished from my local stationery store.)

 

The story behind Rayearth is rather typical of a girl’s adventure manga. Three middle school students, Hikaru, Umi and Fuu, are pulled from the real world into the magical land of Cephiro by the Princess Emeraude, and tasked with rescuing her from her captor, the priest Zagato. You see, in Cephiro, everything is controlled by willpower, and it was the will of the Princess that kept it functioning orderly. But after her abduction, the world was thrown into disarray, with monsters appearing everywhere, and great heroes attempting to save her, with results almost uniformly in vain. Because the only ones who CAN save her are people summoned from another world- only then can they awaken the legendary gods of Cephiro, the Mashen, and stop the evil of Zagato.

 

One of these characters is Zagato. Can you guess which?

 

At least, that’s the story at the beginning. Over three volumes, the manga actually does begin to resemble a fantasy RPG (and for the record, one does exist, for the SNES, and you can find translated ROMs online for it. It’s short and mildly entertaining, moreso if you’re a fan of the source material), with the three main characters openly saying such. There are moments of “leveling up,” plenty of monsters to encounter and fight, and clearly defined “dungeons” and “bosses” to overcome. As the tale unfolds, the three girls must confront new allies, new enemies, and ultimately themselves if they wish to proceed, moving all the way to the battle with Zagato at story’s end. And, in case you’re wondering, there is a twist hidden in there as well, and the ending is somewhat unforseen. Vintage CLAMP, if you ask me, and very welcome.

 

Said "Uber Wizard Guru Clef." Think Yoda, with better hair.

The real issue at heart when looking at this series is pacing. Though I never noticed it when I was reading it digest-style, it moves too fast at times in omnibus form, and the story seems very rushed. Interesting allies appear only once, leave indelible marks on the main characters, and then vanish, only to be mentioned causally again later in the story, if at all. (Seriously, why make Guru Clef seem so uber-awesome, then forget he existed?) Progression from normal girls into Magic Knights also seemed to move too quickly, almost like the story was taking place in a single afternoon, rather than across days (though judging time in Cephiro is extremely difficult as well). While this is fine for something plainly geared at teenage girls, it inevitably leaves the manga feeling a bit forced at times, not quite inaccessible to adults, but also lacking that special something. Given the subject matter and the interesting nature of both Cephiro as a world governed by willpower, and the girls as outsiders forced to survive there, I felt that not enough time was given to exploration and discovery, and everything they needed to progress was plainly there when they needed it. The story was so linear, it almost handicapped it from reaching its full potential, and potential did it have!

 

However, Rayearth is not a bad manga by any stretch. While not as developed or possessing the same impact as later titles like “X” or “xXxholic,” it still offers a glimpse into how CLAMP progressed from doujinshi artists into the team they are today. Each of the girls serves as a blueprint for the protagonists in many of their future series (Hikaru and “Cardcaptor” Sakura are inherently the same at times), and it is easy to see where CLAMP started to build their roots as mangaka and storytellers.

 

While this series has been out of print for a while now, it’s well worth the time to track it down and give it a read. While not perfect, it is at its core entertaining and lighthearted, and a lovely diversion for a summer afternoon. There have also been two anime series devoted to the material, both of which allow for more time exploring the characters and the expanded story of Cephiro than the original manga did

 

Pretty girls with swords: a geek's fantasy

 

 

 

 

 

By otakuman5000 On 2 Jun, 2011 At 02:18 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarIn Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura, Princess Sakura has been betrothed to Prince Ouran since she was born, but she can’t see how she could possibly love a man she has never met. The day before she is to leave, the priestess Byakuya reminds her that she is never to look at the full moon, but as she runs away she gazes at the night sky. A demon attacks her, looking for her ancestor Princess Kaguya. Sakura discovers that she is the inheritor of the Cherry Blossom Sword, and is the only one that can defeat these man-eating creatures.

Sakura Hime Volume 1 by Arina Tanemura

Arina Tanemura is a veteran shojo manga artist (Full Moon O Sageshite, Gentleman’s Alliance), but at the beginning of chapter one this seems to hurt her more than help. She takes a paint-by-numbers approach to the story that I can imagine she did in her sleep. I’ve seen the cute heroine and cheeky male lead in just about every shojo manga I’ve ever picked up, and Sakura’s desperate situation, along with her adorable sidekick, feel all too familiar.

This could also be why Sakura Hime moves at such a brisk pace, skimming over little things like character development and world-building. However, this actually works in the sense that shojo fans have seen much of this before, so Tanemura gives herself little chance to bore her readers with explanations of recycled character types.

The quick pace also allows the manga to hit its most surprising and exciting turn halfway through the first volume. Sakura comes under attack, and it’s not the sinister man we might have expected, but someone whom she’s come to trust. This twist is sudden, but this early betrayal gives Sakura Hime an emotional charge that sticks you in the heroine’s corner as you wonder how she’ll ever get a happy ending out of this.

The series also has a decent amount of action as Sakura uses her new found powers to fight Youko – man-eating demons. These monsters, while holding different appearances, have a boring monster-of-the-week feel, and are so bland that I had to flip back through the pages to remember what each one looked like. Battles are disappointingly quick, despite Sakura’s inability to make her magical sword obey her, but as Sakura’s personal danger increases we can hope for more satisfying fights.

No one can say that Arina Tanemura isn’t a skilled artist. Costumes are intricate, and backgrounds are highly detailed. But that is also where her flaws show, as backgrounds are filled with so many flowers and trees and swirling cherry blossoms as to make scenes confusing. In all the detail and shading characters get lost and lose focus on the page, not a good thing when the reader is trying to follow a fight scene.

Character designs are also very well done, though they look similar to people we’ve seen in her other manga. Tanemura also takes the “big-eyed heroine” idea too far, as Sakura’s plate-sized eyes take up a third of her face. And when ninja-girl Kohaku comes into the story, the only thing helping me tell them apart is their hairstyles.

Characters start this volume barred in by stereotypes, and the fights are disappointingly limited. But with the interesting turn in the plot the characters gain an extra chance for growth, as Sakura has to prove not just her love but her humanity. Even with its obvious shortcomings, Sakura Hime might prove itself to be a shojo manga worth sticking around for.

ISBN: 9781421538822 • MSRP: $9.99 • VIZ Media • 182 pages • Released April 5 2011

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

By otakuman5000 On 20 May, 2011 At 01:54 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarIn their May 18, 2011 newsletter, Digital Manga Publishing announced that their online manga website, eManga.com, will no longer have the option to “rent” manga – instead, every manga purchased remains in the user’s account forever.

Speed Racer Manga on eMangaThe majority of the offerings on eManga consist of yaoi titles (manga with a focus on male homosexual relationships). There is some variety to the selection, though, with shojo titles like Nao Yazawa’s Mizuki, classic manga like Speed Racer and Vampire Hunter D, and a large collection of Harlequin manga available for purchase. eManga also offers samples for many of DMP’s print-only manga, along with free reads like Pop Japan Travel: Essential Otaku Guide.

Manga is purchased with eManga “points”, which can be bought in bulk for greater savings (example: $5.50 buys you 500 points, but $50 buys you 5,500 points). Taking a look at eManga.com, it does look like the point cost for books has gone up. Where many of the rentals had cost 200 to 300 points, it now costs somewhere between 350 and 499 points to own a digital book. This is still less than $5.00 per book, and considering that you get to keep the book forever, versus 90 days, this is a reasonable price jump.

Learn more about Digital Manga Publishing and eManga from digitalmanga.com and emanga.com.

By otakuman5000 On 22 Mar, 2011 At 01:12 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Reviews | With 2 Comments

No GravatarEvery story needs an observer, and Kanoko Naedoko is the person for the job in The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko by Ririko Tsujita. A third-year in junior high school, Kanoko has no friends, but who needs them? They would just get in the way of her 100% objectivity as she observes, records and studies all the juicy information on her classmates. But as Kanoko finds out, just because you don’t want any friends doesn’t mean people won’t still come to you. As she gets close to her classmates will she let the things she sees go by, or will she do something about it?

The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko sets up one of the more unique premises I’ve seen in shojo manga. The genre is saturated with stories about girls with love problems and spunky girls with dreams that are too big, but Kanoko is a girl who just likes to watch all those stories unfold. Not bogged down by an unrequited love or devastating drama, Kanoko is able to see how all the threads connect, the only one who really understands what’s going on behind all the love triangles and misunderstandings.

Even though Kanoko likes to paint herself as an observer, it doesn’t mean Tsujita gave her heroine a bland personality. She has a hard edge that, working with her intelligence, makes her more than a match for anyone she goes against, student or teacher. And her blunt delivery of the facts to her clueless subjects shows her secret inability to remain impartial, and is amusing to boot. Even her preference for solitude isn’t a tacked on trait, as some well-placed back-story shows how her experience with unfaithful friends made loneliness so much more appealing.

Kanoko the Observer

The only thing that truly irked me in this manga is that Kanoko transfers to another school in each chapter. On the one hand this allows Kanoko to slip back into the role of objective observer even after she’s made connections and – dare I say t? – friends. But unfortunately Tsujita is uncommonly good at getting you to care about a character within pages, and it’s heart-wrenching to see these new friends abruptly left behind.

Thankfully, not everyone is forgotten. Tsubaki, the popular boy from chapter one, reappears in each chapter to help Kanoko with her latest scheme. And all three of Kanoko’s first friends are back in the last chapter when Kanoko visits the cultural festival at her old school. Since Tsujita keeps bringing these old favorites back, it’s possible the manga will settle into an overarching story rather than these episodic chapters. But even if that’s not the case, that’s fine. Lady Kanoko tops out at three volumes, so I feel safe assuming the manga will end before Kanoko’s travels through schools get repetitive.

Character designs are what we’ve come to expect from shojo manga. The girls, aside from Kanoko, are round-eyed and beautiful, and the generically handsome boys are appealing, but a little difficult to tell apart from chapter to chapter. Our bespectacled heroine has a plainer look that would have normally been left to someone meant to fade in the background (something Kanoko would be glad to hear) but Tsujita gives her sharp eyes and a shrewd smile that remind us how smart and conniving she is. As for the backgrounds, Kanoko changes schools each chapter, but it’s impossible to tell the classrooms apart. But even though they don’t give a good sense of place, Tsujita adds enough detail and movement to keep the backgrounds interesting.

Ririko Tsujita’s manga a unique twist on the shojo genre that will likely attract fans finding themselves bored with the usual cookie-cutter heroines. While attachment to characters that are easily left behind can be an issue for some readers, The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko is a great series to pick up.

ISBN: 978-1-4278-2011-2 • MSRP: $10.99 • Published by Tokyopop • 208 pages