Quick Thoughts On: A Proper Wife by Chikae Ide

A Proper WifeA Proper Wife by Chikae Ide

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I loved Chikae Ide’s artwork. There were so many large splash pages that are just begging to be coloured… even though this is obviously not a colouring book. Everything is so crisp and clear! Plus, I am so pleased with the constant barrage of flowery backdrops!

As for the plot, it was short, and very undeveloped compared to most other shoujo/josei manga I’ve read. But compared to other Harlequin manga, it has one of the stronger stories. It was light, fast-paced and completely ridiculous. I had a lot of fun reading it!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a digital copy for review.

*Originally posted on GoodReads

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Quick Thoughts On: A Girl Called Echo, volume 2 by Katherena Vermette

Red River Resistance

Red River Resistance by Katherena Vermette

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This title is an absolute must for any school library or public library in Canada. With the 150th anniversary of the Red River resistance occurring in 2019, and the major focus of the Canadian government on reconciliation, this comic couldn’t have come at a better time. I am so pleased to be finding so many new comics and graphic novels by indigenous creators, and the fact that is title focuses on Métis history is fantastic!

This title is the second in a series about a young Métis girl, Echo, who finds herself in some sort of foster care. While there she is attending high school and “experiencing” the history of the past, most notably the events surrounding the controversial and tumultuous Red River resistance.

I did read the first volume of this series, and I was very excited about this next installment. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I think my main problem is that this seems to be focusing on telling the story of the Red River resistance very quickly, but in doing so, it has forgotten to develop the characters. It also takes for granted that you have some background in this history.

Sadly, this means that the characters are little more than shells. Even the main character, Echo has less than a personality. I feel like she was beginning to be explored in the first volume, but her personality just fell flat in this one. There is so much more that could be done with this story without exaggerating or undermining the important history that is being explored. I wanted so much more!

Because of this, I feel like it’ll lose some of its audience. This comes off more as an educational work, and less as something to pick up for pleasure. However, as an educational work it is invaluable, and would do very well to be included as supplemental material in Canadian elementary and high school classrooms.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing a digital copy for review.



View all my GoodReads reviews

24 Hour Manga Readathon : Tezuka’s 90th Birthday Edition | #24HRTezuka

Surprise! We decided to host a quick 24-hour readathon on what would be Osamu Tezuka’s 90th birthday (affectionately known as the “godfather of manga”).  Join us on Saturday, November 3rd to read as much manga as you can in the span of 24-hours!

We encourage anyone to participate. The only goal of this readathon is to read manga sometime during the day. We know not everyone will be able to read for the full 24-hours with us, but we hope that if you have a few hours to spend during the day, you’ll spend that time reading manga (and hanging out with us on social media, of course).

*We’ve invited Shae from YouTube/Instagram to help us plan and host this readathon. Please go and follower her on YT and Instagram. Thanks so much for joining us Shae!

Watch the host’s videos on YouTube for all of the details:


Please note: we do not support the reading of scans/scanlations/illegal or fan translations. Please help us support the industry by ONLY reading legally licensed/published/distributed manga for this readathon. Thank you. 


READING CHALLENGES:

The reading challenges are completely optional, they are just here to help you pick books to read if you don’t already have an idea. But also, we think they’re fun to try and complete. These challenges were inspired by some of Osamu Tezuka’s most famous manga. And of course, you could always try reading some books by Osamu Tezuka as well.

  1. Astroboy: Read a manga feature robots or machines
  2. Kimba the White Lion: Read a manga featuring animals, or nature
  3. Buddha: Read a historical manga, or a manga with religious themes
  4. Princess Knight: Read a romance, or adventure manga
  5. Phoenix: Read a short story, or manga featuring reincarnation/past lives
  6. Black Jack: Read a suspense manga, or a manga with medical themes

Watch Laura’s & Shae’s YouTube for reading recommendations!

 


SCHEDULE:

Date: November 3 (10:00AM MST) -November 4, 2018 (9:59AM MST)

Start Time: 10:00AM MST (Everyone starts at the same time. Find out what the start time is in your timezone, using the Time Zone Converter.

Follow us on Twitter: @MangaReadathon

 


The Manga Readathon was created by sisters (Laura) MangaHoarder and (Jennifer) Shelf Space Fleeting to inspire a love for all things manga.

 

Review/Rant: 100 Manga Artists by Amano Masanao

100 Manga Artists.jpg100 Manga Artists / by Amano Masanao ; edited by Julius Wiedemann.

Köln : Taschen GmbH, [2017] ©2017

9783836526470

Original edition published as: Manga Design. Amano, Masanao. Köln : Taschen, c2004.

 

Before you get too far into this review, know that this is effectively the WORST book I’ve read on anime/manga… and I’ve read my fair share! It’s poorly written (I hope the parallel French and German text were better), is inconsistently formatted, provides no useful information, and is an unbalanced and creepy curation that leans heavily toward the over-sexualized.

I was fooled. I was fooled by photographs of a kindly online recommendation. I was fooled by the cover design/title (which I’ll get to later). I was fooled by the publisher whose works I usually appreciate (At least as coffee table books). And, I was fooled by the $10 price tag. I should have known better.

So before I get too far into rant mode, I should probably describe the book. This is a relatively small-trim sized 5.7 x 7.9 inches and chunky 672 pages hardcover book. As far as coffee table books go, it is appealing: a fun size crammed with black and white manga illustrations. Inside, each artist is introduced in a short paragraph with parallel text in English (first), followed by French and German, and 3 to 6 full page examples of that artist’s manga on thick glossy pages.

The actual publishing quality of the book is good, but the content leaves a lot to be desired.

 

Design:

I was originally hesitating to pick this up because of the hideous cover design, and also I’m not usually very interested in these types of encyclopedic surveys of anime and manga. I know because I read them. But, a little push from an online recommendation, and the $10 price tag were enough to reel me in. I’m always weak-willed to any books about manga.

The title “100 Manga Artists” sounds like it will be an encyclopedic work (which it is), featuring 100 different manga artists (which it does) and talking about those artists and/or why they are important (which it doesn’t). There are 100 manga artists named, and their work shown, but there is little to information about the artists themselves or why they were even included in this book. The text was merely there to briefly describe the plot of one or two of that artists’ more notable manga (notable, according to the author).

manga designThis lack of biographical information had me questioning the title. Why was it called 100 Manga Artists? I quickly realized that this had everything to do with marketing, and nothing to do with content. This is actually a “revised” edition of a previous book published by Taschen. That book was called “Manga Design”. Though, I would also take issue with that title, it is definitely more appropriate to the content of this book than “100 Manga Artists”. The Artists aren’t given any importance in this book. It is not at all about Manga Artists.

Book titles are changed for one reason – to make money. You most often see book titles change when there is a movie to tie-in (for example “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” was recently re-published under it’s movie name, “Love, Simon”). It also happens a lot when books are published in different countries (for example “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone”. There are a few other reasons, but these are the easiest examples to think of.

There was no reason to change the title of the book “Manga Design” except that the author or publisher wanted to make money. Best way to do that, especially if people have already read the first edition and realize they don’t need another copy, is to change the name and fool the idiots (i.e. me) who didn’t do their homework before picking it up.

This appears to be a quality published book, by a publisher who often puts out respected coffee-table style art history books. I have always trusted them to produce beautiful, well written books for the layperson. But, the quality of the content of this book is so poor, and the fact that they had to change the title of the book for no visible reason except to trick potential patrons, seriously damages my trust in this company.

 

Writing:

The first sentence of the introduction had me immediately excited, “Manga are Japanese comics created for Japanese readers.” Oddly enough, the term manga is rarely defined in these type of books as anything more than Japanese comics. Even academia seems to forget this important sentence when they are writing about manga for academic journals and other research papers. So, when I read this statement I was anticipating great things! Not only is it rare to get a definition about manga in writings on manga, but it is doubly rare for me to agree with said definition. This author has caught the most important defining aspect of what manga is in their first sentence, “for Japanese readers.” I’ve never read anyone write that before… except me. Unfortunately this wave of brilliance soon departed. The rest of the writing in this book, which I will say is fairly lean, is not brilliant. It is poor. And, I found myself having to read passages aloud to my sister (who was baking pies in the kitchen at the time) in exasperation.

The most hair-pulling example of this writing comes from the paragraph introducing Jiro Taniguchi (page 540).

Jiro Taniguchi is a talented artist who is always breaking new ground with different kinds of images for every new story or theme he pursues. He thoroughly researches each of his stories. When he was first starting out, he created interesting hard-boiled action pieces. He then experimented with a variety of themes. […]

ARE YOU KIDDING?!! A grade-schooler could construct better sentences than this! Forget that Jiro Taniguchi “researches each of his stories”, this makes me wonder whether this author researched for their book at all!

Now, not all of the blame can lie on the original author. This was originally written in Japanese (as far as I can tell), so the translator also gets to share in the brunt of my annoyance.

“He thoroughly researches each of his stories.”

I’m assuming that the author meant that he does research before working on a story, or researches for each of his stories, but to say “he researches his stories” implies that he goes back after the story is written and collects any articles or papers that discuss them.

I could go on.

On top of the plethora of problems with this writing there is also no style. If they had to write each sentence in a passive voice, and start 90% of the sentences (this may be an exaggeration, I’m really frustrated and don’t feel like counting) with the word “He”, wouldn’t it have been a better option to just use bullet points to organize?

But then, what is there to put into bullet points? Try this experiment: ask yourself what concrete information you have learned when you read the short paragraph above.

Give up?

Let me give you a hint:

Jiro Taniguchi created more than one art thing.

That’s it! This statement may seem a bit facetious, but NOTHING else is stated in these sentences. The rest is supposition and posturing with none of the necessary details or explanation which give concrete meaning to the words.

This wouldn’t frustrate me so much, except that I feel like these words are a complete waste of space (and waste of my time). This block of text is 1/3 of the description used for Jiro Taniguchi. The remaining 2/3 of text is a quick list of some of his more famous titles and their topics (NOT their themes). And to top it off, of all of the works listed, not one of them includes what anyone would call a “hard-boiled action piece.”

So the writing is poor. The content is non-existent. And I still have another objection! [Can you hear my voice getting louder, because it is!] That problem is inconsistent formatting.

I haven’t mentioned yet, but in addition to the short paragraph to introduce the artist (or whatever it’s doing, I’m not really sure), there is a short list of facts for each artist (in English only). These facts can include: when and where they were born, their debut work, their best known works, anime adaptations of their works, and some prizes they’ve won.

But the use of these facts is inconsistent, and therefore untrustworthy. In the category for anime adaptations, for example, some artists who have known anime adaptations of their works have a short listing, but some don’t. This is also true of the awards listings.

The listings of “best known works” is what tipped me off to this issue in the first place. Back to the example of Jiro Taniguchi:

Best known works

“Unu o kau” [Owning a Dog]

“Kamigami no itadaki”

“Botchan no jidai”

Umm…

So, someone explain to me why the first title was translated into English, but the other two weren’t? Especially considering that the other two titles are BOTH published in English, this wouldn’t have been difficult to resolve.

And if we ignore that gross oversight, why weren’t these titles printed in Japanese with the plain phonetic pronunciation beside them, instead of the phonetic pronunciation alone? Why?! Why, I ask you?!

 

Curation:

The last thing I want to talk about is the creepy curation. I don’t understand why certain artists were included, and some artists weren’t. And, why certain manga illustrations were included instead of something else. After reading this book, I did go online and check other people’s reviews, and some of them stated that they liked the variety of artists discussed. So, this may be more subjective than my other arguments. But let me at least describe what I see:

Page 6: Flipping to the introduction, the illustration to the left comes from (I’m assuming by the art style) Mitsuru Adachi where a girl appears to be boxing (probably from the manga Katsu), falls over, and lands with her panties exposed while a bunch of men watch.

Page 25: Koji Aihara. The illustrations used directly beside the introduction is a 4-koma sequence that ends in a rambunctious theesome.

Page 31: Ken Akamatsu. The illustration used directly beside the introduction is from Negima. The little wizard boy performs some magic, and the girl in question’s clothes blow off.

Page 49: Moyocco Anno. The illustration used directly beside the introduction is from Flowers and Bees. If you can’t read Japanese or haven’t read the original story, this wouldn’t look like much. But, this is the moment that the two female hairdressers proposition the main boy and suggest that having sex with them will make him more appealing to women (right before they rape him).

Page 79: Kiyohiko Azuma. The illustration used directly beside the introduction is from Azumanga Daioh. Again, you’d need to know the series or Japanese to get it. But, this is a sports scene where Tomo tells Sakaki-san to step back because her boobs give her too much of a lead when they race.

 

In my opinion there is an over-use of unnecessarily sexual content. Mitsuru Adachi, and Kiyohiko Azuma are far from artists who I would think of when I would discuss fan service. Yes, I know, it’s a major part of shonen manga, blah blah blah… but… there are much better, and more memorable aspects to these stories that could have been included.

The placement of these images is also a bit creepy to me. The majority of the more “tantalizing” illustrations are on the first page to a section, next to the introductory paragraph where you’ll spend the most time. There are of course exceptions.

I’m not offended by sexual content. But I don’t like the subtle leaning towards the so-called “male-gaze” that I feel all over this curation. I feel too much of the author’s “interest” in manga in this curation and in his writing. As an encyclopedic work this should have been more neutral.

Some of the illustrations are appropriate as a representation of an artist’s work. In my opinion, both the illustrations for Ken Akamatsu and Moyocco Anno fit fairly well.

And there were a few surprises. Shintaro Kago, for example, doesn’t really have any example art in this book that I would consider overly-sexual. I can’t read the Japanese, so can’t be sure about the content. But, for someone known for his EroGuro (grotesque erotica), and who often sells as pornography, there is only one small image of a naked woman being pulled apart by school children using her legs as rope in a tug-of-war. But that’s it. And that very much is indicative of his art.

Gengoroh Tagame who is a notable gay-manga (bara) artist has some of his non-censored work included in this book. These types of scenes are fine to include as a representation of his work, but they also make me nervous. This book doesn’t have any external clues that it’s intended for adults only. The least that could have been done is a rating on the back, like any respectable English-language manga would get.

[Also, before you congratulate this book on its inclusivity, just note that Tagame was only included in this book because he’s recently gotten popular outside of the gay-manga genre. The same is true for the inclusion of Fumi Yoshinaga. There aren’t any strictly yaoi, yuri, or gay-manga artists in this book.]

 

Conclusion:

This reads like a self-published mess. But, the art is nice, and the price tag of $10 for about 500 pages of glossy art seems relatively reasonable as someone who likes to do paper crafts. I wouldn’t be surprised if this didn’t meet my scissors in some mad crafting afternoon sometime.

 

Game:

Do you see what I see? Find the glaring omission. [hint: the original edition was published in 2004. This “revised” edition was published in 2017.]

obata scan update

obata scan update2obata scan update3

Manga Review: Platinum Garden (vol. 1-6) / by Maki Fujita

platinum garden 1Platinum Garden, volumes 1-6  / by Maki Fujita

Translated from the Japanese by Egan Loo. English Adaptation by Sarah Dyer.

Published in English by Tokyopop, 2006

First published in Japanese by Akita Publishing Co., 2001

1598163612 (volume 1)

Rated: 2.5/5 Stars


From GoodReads:

When Kazura is sent to live in Mizuki’s house, she learns that she’s really there to become his wife! Furious, Kazura tries to leave, but discovers that she was given as payment for her deceased grandfather’s debts. But things aren’t what they seem to be in this household–Mizuki can call back people’s souls, and Kazura wants him to bring back her grandfather! Maki Fujita’s shojo comedy is filled with delicious family secrets, dreamy high school romance, and plenty of spirited fun!


I picked up Platinum Garden to read because it’s on the next shelf that I’ve picked for my monthly bookshelf tours (video will go up beginning of April). My sister owns this series, and neither of us have finished reading it. Which I guess is okay, considering how it was dropped at the half-way point. There are still 7 volumes which never got an English release. She owns the first 6 volumes, which is what I’ll be discussing:

I remember picking up the first volume years ago… probably when she started buying it (in 2006) and being too bored to continue. I thought it would be a good time to try this again.

It was. I was pleasantly surprised by how good this title was. Was it great? No. It’s pretty average. But it’s better than I remember… and everything from story, art and translation improves as you progress into the later volumes.

Continue reading

Manga Review : Ajin Demi-Human (vol. 1-8) / story by Tsuina Miura, art by Gamon Sakurai

ajinAjin Demi-Human, volume 1-8 (ongoing) / story by Tsuina Miura, art by Gamon Sakurai.

Translated from the Japanese by Ko Ransom.

Published by Vertical, 2014

Originally published as Ajin, in good! Afternoon magazine (Kodansha, Ltd.), 2012-

9781939130846 (volume 1)


From GoodReads:

High school student Kei Nagai is struck dead in a grisly traffic accident, but immediately revives to learn that he may not be like every other human. Instead, he may be a mysterious, almost immortal being, granted not only the powers of rejuvenation, but the abilities to see supernatural beings. Scared, he runs away, and is aided in his escape from society by his friend. Unfortunately for Kei, the manhunt is on and he will soon be caught within a conflict between mankind and others like him as they prepare to fight a new war based on terror.  Continue reading

Manga Review : Alice 19th / by Yuu Watase

alice 19Alice 19th, Volumes 1-7 (complete) / by Yuu Watase

Translated from the Japanese by Lance Caselman

Viz, 2003-2004.

Originally published as “Alice 19th”
by Shogakukan, Inc., 2001

9781591162155 (volume 1)


Verso (volume 1):

Alice Seno is a seemingly shy and meek girl who always seems to be outshined by her older sister Mayura. One day, Alice has an encounter with a mysterious and magical rabbit girl, and her life is turned upside down. Alice discovers that certain words have power, and that she has the potential to be master of a set of sublimely powerful words called the Lotis Words. But power always comes with a price, and the price may turn out to be Alice’s sister Mayura.

*also, I copied this image off of GoodReads. My copy has the correct spelling of “story” (not “sroty”) on the cover. If you’ve got a first edition of this manga, I’d love to know if it was sent out with this spelling error… because that’d be hilarious! Continue reading

Light Novel Review : Genshiken : Return of the Otaku / by Iida Kazutoshi & Kio Shimoku

genshikenGenshiken : Return of the Otaku / by Iida Kazutoshi & Kio Shimoku

Based on the manga by Kio Shimoku

Translated from the Japanese by Katy Bridges, 2010.

Del Rey Manga/Kodansha Trade Paperback Edition, 2010

Originally published in Japan as Genshiken : Hairu Ranto no Yabo~Return of the Otaku, 2008

223 pages

978-0345516275

Stars: ★ / 5


From GoodReads:

The deafening whack-whack-whack of a helicopter above campus is the first indication that the balmy tranquility of the Genshiken Club is about to be disturbed. The chopper brings handsome Ranto Hairu: transfer student, scion of a powerful Japanese conglomerate, and newly named chairman of the on-campus club organization committee.

Hairu has strong ideas about the kind of clubs that deserve to survive (earnest, industrious) and the kind that don’t (arty, frivolous), and he’s a big fan of brute force. For Madarame, Kousaka, Ohno, and the others, the idea of losing their cherished club is the ultimate nightmare—but it’s only the first of many.
 
Fortunately, the Genshiken boys and girls have a few tricks of their own, including a certain swordfighter summoned from ancient times who could prove very handy Continue reading

Novel Review: Strange Weather in Tokyo / by Hiromi Kawakami

strange weatherStrange Weather in Tokyo / by Hiromi Kawakami

Translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell, ©2012

Published by Portobello Books, ©2014

Originally Published in Japan in 2001 under the title センセイの鞄 (Sensei no kaban) by Bungei Shunju, Tokyo

978-1-84627-510-4

Stars: ★★★★ / 5

 


From GoodReads:

Tsukiko is in her late 30s and living alone when one night she happens to meet one of her former high school teachers, ‘Sensei’, in a bar. He is at least thirty years her senior, retired and, she presumes, a widower. After this initial encounter, the pair continue to meet occasionally to share food and drink sake, and as the seasons pass – from spring cherry blossom to autumnal mushrooms – Tsukiko and Sensei come to develop a hesitant intimacy which tilts awkwardly and poignantly into love. Continue reading

Manga Review: Flying Witch, Volume 1 by Chihiro Ishizuka

31172294Flying Witch, volume 1 by Chihiro Ishizuka

Translated by Melissa Tanaka

Published by Vertical Comics, ©2017

Originally Published in Bessatsu Shonen Magazine, Kodansha Ltd., ©2013-

978-1-945054-09-9 

Stars: ★★ / 5

 

Flying Witch is a slice-of-life shounen manga about a 15-year-old witch, Makoto Kowata, who has left her home (with her black cat familiar); as is the “right-of-passage” custom to become a fully-fledged witch (think Kiki’s Delivery Service). I loved the characters in this series – they are so fun, quirky and just like-able. I particularly love the way the characters react to Kowata upon learning she is a witch and even more so, Kowata’s naivety in adjusting to her new surroundings. I think a lot of people will really love this cute, calm, and cheerful slice-of-life manga.

BUT… there are some major issues with it for me.

Continue reading