Archive for February, 2009

Tokyopop Releases: March

FLCL, Vol. 3 | Yoji Enokida
Fruits Basket, Vol. 22 | Natsuki Takaya
Luuna, Vol. 1 | Didier Crisse (New Series!)
Me & My Brothers, Vol. 7 | Hari Tokeino
NG Life, Vol. 1 | Mizuho Kusanagi (New Series!)
Peacemaker Kurakane, Vol. 1 | Nanae Chrono (New Series)

Star Trek: Ultimate Edition | Bettina Kurkoski
Warcraft: Legends, Vol. 3 | Carlos Olivares

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A Little Stormy on the Seven Seas

A short post for today. It may not sound like much, but it may affect some of your manga purchases if you shop only at physical stores rather than online.

Seven Seas Manga (publishers of Afro Samurai, Hayate X Blade, Inukami!, etc.) is having a few relationship issues with one of their distributors, Diamond. Diamond has recently instituted new shipping minimums, which Seven Seas simply can’t always meet. Diamond will still ship some of the high-profile titles through May, but besides that, Seven Seas will be gradually cutting their ties with them. They have other distributors and retailers, so hopefully there won’t be too huge of an impact.

I personally support Seven Seas’ decision to cut ties. Having worked closely with my boss when I worked in a local retail shop, I’ve seen how these things can affect companies. If we ordered from a distributor and not directly from the company, we would sometimes have to wait until a great product had been out for a few months so that we could place  a big order. Shipping minimums affect both the company making the product and the small retail stores buying the product. I understand that in this economy, sacrifices must be made, but it’s really a shame to see this happening.

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Arina Tanemura

(Sorry this is going up a little later than intended! I had a few medical issues to attend to, but all is well now! Enjoy!)

It would be a shock to find a shojo manga collection that didn’t contain a single work by the illustrious Arina Tanemura. Full Moon is no doubt one of the most popular shojo manga to hit shelves since Sailor Moon. Her stories are heart-warming, and looking through her works is evidence that there is true art to be found in manga. Since the recent US release of Time Stranger Kyoko by Viz Media, all six of her first works have been received in the US with open arms. With any luck, it won’t be long before we see Absolute Awakening Angel: Mistress Fortune hit our shores. Though I’d be willing to bet that it may be a while (yay for scanlations!). At any rate, her resounding success in the US should speak well for her talent.

One of my favorite things about reading Tanemura-san’s works is her notes. There are a ton of side-panel notes, comments on each chapter, etc. in all of her tankoban. I almost always enjoy reading what she has to say, even when her comments have nothing to do with the book! She really gives the reader a lot of insight into how the characters and their stories came to be.

What draws many into Tanemura-san’s manga was the art. One glance at pretty much any given cover will simply suck you into her beautiful world. When I read anything of hers, I can’t help but think wonder just how she sees the world around her. In some of her earlier stuff, there was a bit too much of an emphasis on decoration, but it never took away from the story (though I’ve caught myself more than once pausing in my reading to observe all of the details).

An issue I find between many of her works is similar character design. You might not notice if you read one series of hers, wait a month, and read another, but many of her leading female characters look a lot alike. Take Mitsuki and Kyoko, for example:

In addition to physical design, many of these lead female characters share personalities. Headstrong, wanting to help others, a little clumsy, in love with someone unreachable, etc. These characteristics do make for a loveable character  who is easy to connect with, but if you’re reading two series by Tanemura-san at once, it’s easy to get a little confused.

All in all, the works of Arina Tanemura are breathtaking in both art and story. Many are destined to become classics, and I look forward to reading more and more of her manga. Look for volume nine of The Gentlemen’s Alliance† hitting stores next month from Viz Media!

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CMX Manga Releases: March

Apothecarius Argentum, Vol. 7 | Tomomi Yamashita
Emma, Vol. 8 | Kaoru Mori
Go West! Vol. 2 | Yu Yagami
March on Earth, Vol. 1 | Mikase Yagashi
Orphina, Vol. 5 | Kitsune Tennouji
Penguin Revolution, Vol. 5 | Tsukuba Sakura
Tears of a Lamb, Vol. 5 | Banri Hidaka

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Misc. Manga Releases: March

Aurora Publishing
Queen of Ragtonia, Vol. 1 | Chika Shiomi (New Series!)

Dark Horse Comics
Berserk, Vol. 28 | Kentaro Miura
Blood+, Vol. 4 | Ryo Ikehata, Chizu Hashii
MPD-Psycho, Vol. 8 | Eiji Otsuka, Shoju Tajima

Go! Comi
07-Ghost, Vol. 2 | Yuki Akemiya, Yukino Ichihara
A-I Revolution, Vol. 5 | Yuu Asami (Last Volume!)
Ultimate Venus, Vol. 4 | Takako Shigematsu

Seven Seas
Inukami, Vol. 2 | Mamizu Arisawa, Mari Matsuzawa

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Logo/Possible Shirt Design

Hey, guys! I have a cute design that I’d like to use for the blog’s logo, as well as a possible future shirt design. I like the design and how it looks in general, but the lines aren’t nearly smooth enough, and there area  few details I don’t trust myeslf with.I think this would be a fairly easy project for anyone that knows what they’re doing in PhotoShop, but I’m pretty inept.

If you’re interested, shoot me an e-mail (eleat dot yo at gmail dot com) and I’ll send you the current PhotoShop file. Or, you can just do a whole new one based on this and send it to me! Thanks, guys!

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Shojo Beat/Shonen Jump vs. Yen+

In an e-mail, a reader asked me for my opinion on whether Yen+ or Shojo Beat was the better buy. As a subscriber to Shojo Beat and Yen+, I don’t really have a bias. Not everyone can afford to buy twoor three magazines a month plus all of their other manga each month, though, so I’m going to try to help all of you decide which fits you better. I have only read a few issues of Shonen Jump, and is about the same as SB, only with shonen manga instead of shojo. I’ll be grouping SJ and SB together, as both are published by Viz. I’ll only actually be comparing SB with Yen+. As I said, I’ve never read SJ, and at any rate, it doesn’t seem to be nearly as popular as its sister magazine.

Covers from Yen+ and Shojo Beat

Covers from Yen+ and Shojo Beat

First, I may be able to save you from having to read much further. Do you like shojo manga and only shojo manga? Pick up Shojo Beat. Do you hate shojo manga with a passion? You better stick with Yen+. If you don’t fit into either of these categories explicitely, you should read on.

Shojo Beat is more established, having been around since July 2005. It has so far serialized some of the most popular manga in the US: NaNa, Vampire Knight, Absolute Boyfriend, and more. Each issue has about 350 pages or more, and contains chapters from 6 manga, along with one or two preview chapters from other Viz shojo titles. Having read SB since August 2006, I’d say that from each issue, I tend to read chapters from 5 different series. Though this won’t sound like much when compared to Yen+, SB makes up for it with great articles. Each issue has a DIY section, a few beauty spots, a little fan interaction, some culture info, and a few special features. That’s a lot of extra stuff! When you subscribe, you also tend to get a little furoku, though nothing near the scale of Japanese magazines. Usually a sheet of stickers, a manga cover, a poster, etc. Nothing big, but hey, extra is extra!
Outside of the manga itself (which is printed in alternating pink and blue), most pages are in full color. Every other month or so there will typically be a theme issue. Whether you view this as a good or bad thing will vary, depending on whether you like that month’s theme. Sometimes an issue will focus on a particular series (this past issue was focused on Sand Chronicles, and it was pretty fantastic); there have been several great music issues in the past; a couple of issues have focused on anime; there have been a few cooking issues. The themes go on and on. For the most part, I rather enjoy theme issues, except for cooking. My cooking typically results in utter failure.

Yen+ is but a toddler beside Shojo Beat. It first hit the streets in August 2008 – over three years after Shojo Beat did. There were originally a whopping 11 series in each issue, and a preview was added to each after a few issues. Now, one series has been dropped (only from serialization – Higurashi: When They Cry is still coming out in tankoban form), but TWO were added in its place! I read and enjoy all but one or two of the series in the magazine right now, and I always read the previews. However, the only ‘extras’ in Yen+ are an editorial section, fan art, and a few manga spotlights. Unlike SB, Yen+ doesn’t only feature Japanese manga – there are also comics from the US and manhwa from Korea (though generally I’ll be referring to them as manga collectively). This is the real selling point to me. Though we see a lot of manga from Japan nowadays, most US comics are superhero-based and not all that story-based like so much stuff from Japan is. And as for the manhwa, Yen Press is the only publisher I know of that is actively putting any out.
The manga here are in plain black and white, which can be a relief from the bright colors in SB, but it’s also a lot harder to find a particular manga if you’re skipping ahead. There are more glossy pages than are found in SB, as well, but fewer extras to be shown in all color.

In the end, I love both Yen+ and Shojo Beat. Yen+ has a lot more to offer in the way of manga, but it’s also more expensive. The cover prices are $8.99 USD for Yen+ and $5.99 for SB. To be honest, if I had to give up one, I’d give up Shojo Beat. Though I am much more connected to the stories there, there is so much more to be read in Yen+. If I were short on money, though, I’d stick with SB. It’s a tough decision, and I’d regret it either way. If you can, buy both. If you can’t, I hope that this post will help you decide which one to get.

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