Archive for the ‘Manga of the Month’ Category

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Manga of the Month: Orange

April 1, 2014

Orange (オレンジ) by Ichigo Takano

narutaki_icon_4040 This was the first title on the Crunchyroll Manga subscription that was on my “most wanted” list. It takes off from a common idea: what if you could tell your high school self some important information and change the future. In this case, Naho receives a mysterious letter in the mail from her future self which quickly proves itself to be real by predicting the events of that day perfectly. A new student arrives, Kakeru, who instantly becomes a part of Naho’s group of friends. But the letter warns Naho that Kakeru will not make it to his 18th birthday and begs her to prevent this from happening.

“From here on in, please make Kakeru happy
as often as you can.

I’m sure that’s what will save him.”

There is a darkness, a sadness, in Kakeru after his mother’s suicide, which we learn happened on his first day of transferring to the new school. He hints at his pain and his smile is always melancholy but he never opens up. That is he doesn’t in the past that Naho is reading about, but slowly she starts to gain the confidence to ask Kakeru about his life and his feelings. Along with her friends she might just be able to pull him back from the brink.

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Manga of the Month: Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru

March 4, 2014

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru (And Yet the Town Moves)
(それでも町は廻っている) by Masakazu Ishiguro

hisui_icon_4040 Kate and I were just talking about the fact that Crunchyroll manga site is probably the greatest boon for the Manga of the Month that has ever existed. It has a wide selection of lesser known manga that you can easily recommended with minimal financial  cost while talking about titles that are getting legitimate release. Theoretically  you can also do that with Weekly Shonen Jump but Jump titles are almost universally (with a few exceptions) the series that need the least amount of hype. Plus with titles like Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches (which you should be reading) there is a lot to recommend. So I should start with Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru.

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru is plucky fighter who keeps getting knocked down but gets up again in the English manga scene. It has always been a series that has been a long shot. Quirky comedies are never the best-selling genre for manga in the United States outside of a very select few exceptions. So when JManga picked up the manga for the site it was just a part of the off-kilter nature of their lineup. But sadly JManga shut down it was  unfortunate but not that unexpected. While Soredemo was one of the most popular titles on the site it seems as if destined to be one of those series that got a brief time in the sun but little more than that. Then almost out of nowhere it seems that Soredemo has risen from the ashes like a phoenix. It is available legitimately once again on Crunchyroll manga and is even being simulpubed.

That is a comeback kid story.

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Manga of the Month: Basara

February 4, 2014

Basara (バサラ) by Yumi Tamura

narutaki_icon_4040 Before anyone even thinks it, I know this series is woefully out-of-print. However, I was finally able to read more of it thanks to the library so I’m hoping others can do the same. And amazingly, it is available digitally!

Basara is a classic, fantasy series set in a future (yup!) Japan which has been devastated by war and environmental destruction. A loss of energy and technology has pushed people back to a simpler time and allowed for the country to be conquered by the harsh, oppressive Saffron Clan. In the desert region controlled by The Red King, there is a small village with a prophecy about The Child of Destiny that will lead the people against their oppressors.

That child is a young boy named Tatara. But unlike some other stories, this king does not let it go unchecked or laugh it off, oh no he roots out the rebellion while the child is still young. Tatara is killed when the village is attacked; the army leaves believing they have eliminated their problem. (This part, by the way, is very violent and sets the tone for much of the series.) But Tatara’s twin sister Sarasa makes a hasty decision: pretend she was killed instead, and become “Tatara” with the help of a small group who know the truth. Sarasa sets out to unite the villages and bring down the tyrants who have taken so much from her.

Sarasa becomes “Tatara” in everyday life, so much so she can start to forget herself. The exception is when she sneaks away to the secluded hot springs; on one such visit she meets a boy her age and ends up starting a distant love affair. Little did she know the man she met is The Red King whom she has sworn to destroy; and little did he know she is The Child of Destiny he is so desperately trying to snuff out.

Sarasa is wonderfully headstrong, and so fearless to the point of undervaluing her life. She has lost her identity and it shows so well as she becomes the idea of “Tatara.” Sarasa struggles with all the aspects of her life she has lost: the villages’ relief that Sarasa died instead; the constant masquerade; not being able to experience developing into womanhood in any normal way. But even if it stemmed from a lie, she is truly changing the course of her world and doing things she never thought herself possible of. She is surely a better “Tatara” than the namesake ever would have been.

The melodrama is high as the manga barrels toward revolution. Sarasa sets in motion a bloody conflict, spanning the continent, which is fraught with secrets and danger. And of course many surprises along the way, do not believe for a second The Red King is what he seems. An epic fantasy sure to satisfy.

~ kate

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Manga of the Month: Sgt. Frog

January 1, 2014

Sgt. Frog (ケロロ軍曹) by Mine Yoshizaki

hisui_icon_4040 As I mentioned in last month’s pick there are a few selections for Manga of the Month’s early run that we never archived and are now lost to the annals of history. I could try to deep dive the collective unconscious of the Internet and find those old posts but I rather just write some of them over now that we have a few years at this under our belts. Lets start with Sgt. Frog. It was always a bit of a strange manga license back in the day. It was clearly one of those titles that would have only been picked up at the height of the manga bubble when manga publishers in the US were trying anything and everything. It sort of existed with a minor US fanbase and it even got some of the anime released with a dub. But as time went on the series never really caught on and has pretty much faded from the collective fandom’s memory.

Since Sgt. Frog is getting a new anime series this year it seems like a good a time as any to revisit the show.

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