Archive for the ‘Manga’ Category

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Manga of the Month: Memoirs of an Amorous Gentleman

October 2, 2014

Memoirs of an Amorous Gentleman
(鼻下長紳士回顧録) by Moyoco Anno

narutaki_icon_4040 Following in the footsteps of many of Moyoco Anno’s other works, Memoirs of an Amorous Gentlemen centers around a brothel and its employees and patrons in early 20th century Paris. I supposed you could call it a “slice-of-life” series but obviously the setting gives it a much more colorful angle, much like Ms. Anno’s Sakuran.

The story is told by Colette, a young working girl, with a way of observing those around her with calm despite the many odd, emotional, and dramatic happenings.

You may at first find yourself wondering why it is called Memoirs of an Amorous Gentleman if our narrator is Colette. And considering the state of her relationship with her boyfriend Leon, you’d hardly consider him the “amorous gentleman” of the title either. But it just so happens that Colette is writing down her thoughts in a borrowed book from one of her clients who encouraged her to write.

“I just knew I had to try to write these feelings down . . .
or the pain would never leave me.”

Moyoco Anno discusses some harsh realities of the girls while also portraying their friendships and loves. Many moments of levity come from the bizarre patrons of the brothel. Ms. Anno perfectly moves between these many moments and to deftly create the feeling of life’s many ups and downs.

~ kate

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The September 2014 Line-Up

September 30, 2014

narutaki_icon_4040 Nostalgia rated highest this month for me!

hisui_icon_4040 Wow! That is a lot of Type-Moon licenses. I guess everything is coming up Alain.

The Line-Up is a monthly rundown of new anime, manga, light novel, artbook licenses, streaming/broadcasting announcements, crowdfunding projects, anime/manga projects, and live-action anime/manga adaptions.

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Manga of the Month: GTO – Paradise Lost

September 2, 2014

GTO – Paradise Lost (GTO パラダイス・ロスト)
by Tohru Fujisawa

hisui_icon_4040 He’s back because there are always new delinquents that need a lesson from teacher.

Tohru Fujisawa’s career really took off with Shonan Junai Gumi. (Unless Adesugata Junjou Boy was some sort of critically acclaimed masterwork that no one ever talks about in the US.) In Shonan Junai Gumi we find Eikichi Onizuka and Ryuji Danma as two rough and tumble bikers trying to lose their virginity while fighting the worst delinquents in Japan. The series was popular enough that it got spun off into a sequel series, called GTO, where Onizuka becomes a teacher and Danma makes some guest appearances. While Shonan Junai Gumi was popular it never even dreamed of being the smash hit that GTO was. Since GTO ended Tohru Fujisawa has drawn other manga like Rose Hip Rose and Animal Man, just been the writer on manga like Eyaminokami – The Plague Princess and Shonan Seven, and even tried to spin-off other Shonan Junai Gumi characters into stand alone manga like Danma and Saejima Despite all of that in the end it seems like the character he always come back to is Onizuka.

If you remember GTO Shonan 14 Days was a Manga of the Month on the blog all the was back in 2011 but it was technically not a sequel. It is actually a side story that improbably takes place in two of the weeks between the penultimate and final chapter of the original GTO manga. But this time we get the true continuation of Onizuka’s mythos.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #241

September 1, 2014

narutaki_icon_4040 Raqiya (vols. 1-2) by Masao Yajima and Boichi is like a yakuza manga if all the yazuka were part of obscure subsects of Christianity. The series combines intense violence, conspiracy theories, priests, destruction, demons, cults, virgins, and the impending apocalypse.

Boichi’s hyper realistic artwork is astounding. His attention to detail goes from the makes and models of guns and cars to the wrinkles on a person’s face and clothing, nothing is left unattended. Every moment of action, of which there are many, gets the same treatment. You could easily lose yourself in Boichi’s line work.

The story revolves around Luna, a young woman who, after her family dies in a horrible accident, is visited by Abraxas, a demon with the body of a woman and some strange headdress. Luna is revealed to be a “descendent of Norea” and will play an important role in the destruction of the world. A group fronted by the Nitobe corporation is kidnapping virgin women looking for “the goddess” and end up coming after Luna.

The real main character, as I like to call him, Toshiya doesn’t actually show up until chapter 4. He is the good-looking, priest-in-training, who is basically a badass and a genius. He has his best friend Isa who provides the comic relief and, of course, the super hot Luna who he must protect but can never have.

Honestly, at the beginning I kept looking names and references up on the internet. At points, the series just glosses over things as if we are all knee-deep in obscure Christian lore. But then at other times does a decent enough job of telling you what you need to know without going into full-blown exposition. I realized after a while that the series would reveal itself in due time and to just go along for the ride. I’m sure you’d get a lot out of it if you know this stuff or read Wikipedia alongside it, but that doesn’t sound enjoyable to me and shouldn’t be, and isn’t, necessary to enjoy the series.

Raqiya has the super-seinan quality that we don’t get too much of here in the U.S. One Peace Books is a very small publisher so I hope it reaches the manga audience, they need to know about this series. I can imagine this also doing well if you put it into the hands of comic readers.

hisui_icon_4040 If you read manga long enough you being to see little trademarks and tells that other people might not pick up on. You might be able to tell just by a few pages which magazine a title ran in or which manga-ka worked as an assistant for another.  After reading a chapter or two of Raqiya my first thought was, “I think this is a Korean Manhwa” just from the art alone. It turns out I was partially correct. After I read the first two volumes I went online to see if I was right about the origin of the material. At first it seemed like my comic senses were off. Raqiya ran in Kodansha’s Morning magazine. But then I remember that Morning has been making an effort to hire artists from outside of Japan. That is how we got titles like Peepo Choo. While the author Masao Yajima is Japanese the artist Boichi is South Korean.

I just wanted to pat myself on the back for figuring that out before I did any research. I was mostly able to tell because while the men and peripheral women all have a hard seinen manga feeling the heroines and important female characters have this softer ethereal vibe you usually only get from korean comics. It is closer to the way women are depicted in josei or shojo manga but it is not the same. Also the rapid shifts into super deformed even during super serious scenes was another other hint. I’m not saying that all Korean manhwa look like that. While any detailed examination of a country’s comics will show a multitude of styles there tends to be a stereotypical style that most people know that country for. Japan tends to be known for that Shonen Jump style art whereas the US is usually associated with the Marvel and DC super hero comics flavor. In that way I usually think of this style of art when I think of manhwa.

That said the art is great. In fact Boichi’s Sun-Ken Rock is currently available from Crunchyroll manga. I just thought it was worth mentioning.

I will admit that unlike Kate I read Raqiya on the train and followed most of the weird terms without the Internet but that is because I am an old school table top role player. The number one secret you learn as table top role player is your three best and cheapest sources of game supplements are history books, mythology books, and religious texts. They have everything you need for a life time of campaigns, monsters, and organizations.  The thing is the more esoteric and heretical the religious text the better it is. Everyone around your table probably knows the story of Noah and the flood but now many people are well versed in who Abraxas is (unless they are Kunihiko Ikuhara.)  So I admit while I am generally familiar with gnostic references and Vatican assassin conspiracy theories I’m going to guess that is not the case for most people.

That said they seem fairly well researched. Being that most of the Christian mythos here is based on heretical and apocryphal texts it is really hard to call any of it wrong. There is no real King James Version of Gnosticism or Hermeticism. So there is not that much you can get “wrong” but everything I have read so far seems “right.” You are not getting any One-pound Gospel misunderstandings of Christianity. The story is centered around real fringe groups and crazy offshoots and it does that well.

The character dynamic is not what you might initially suspect. At first the story seems firmly centered on Luna. She is the key to either mankind’s salvation or doom. She is the one possessed by Abraxas. She is the one all the crazy cults are looking for. But overall she quickly seems more like a MacGuffin. While she is not totally just a plot device that moves along with the flow of the story she more often than not carried by other character’s choices more than her own. Isa then look like he might be the hero but he quickly seems to move into the side-kick position. It is clear that while Luna is the main character it is Toshiya who is going to be our hero. He is the best fighter, the most well read, and has the most character conflicts. They could surprise us if Luna gets more control over Abraxas’ power but I somehow doubt that will be the case.

The action is really the selling point of series. You get a lot of gun play, explosions, super natural powers, and assassins of all stripes. Also because the series deal with crazy cults and gnostic magic there is a whole lot of sex and nudity (although not usually of the consensual kind). I think Kate put it best when she said this was a real manime title. It distinctly scratches the itch of people who want the testosterone of Mad Bull 34 mixed with the conspiracy elements of The Da Vinci Code.  If that seems up your alley than you might want to check this out.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching, reading, or playing outside of our main blog posts. We each pick three things without much rhyme or reason; they are just the most interesting things since the last OI.

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