Archive for the ‘Manga of the Month’ Category

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Manga of the Month: Fate/Strange Fake

May 1, 2015

Fate/Strange Fake (フェイト/ストレンジフェイク)
by Ryohgo Narita and Shizuki Morii

It was only a mater of time before I got a proper Type-Moon manga in the Manga of the Month. (I did Take Moon but that is a total joke manga). The only problem is most of the manga based on Type-Moon properties are lesser adaptations of the works they are based on. The Tsukihime manga is far better than the infamous anime but that is faint praise indeed. I enjoy the various Melty Blood related manga but I’m not sure I would put any of them in this section any time soon. Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA is Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA. Yeah. So it is nice to get a full-fledged Type-Moon related manga in here without any guilt.

I will admit that I have only read the first chapter as of writing this post but given Fate/Strange Fake’s pedigree, what I saw of the chapter that has been translated, and the additional information I know let me be fairly confident in making it a Manga of the Month. Just in case it does all fall part in the end I will apologize in advance but so far so good.

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Manga of the Month: My Little Monster (Have You Seen My Love?)

April 14, 2015

My Little Monster (となりの怪物くん) by Robico

narutaki_icon_4040 I think there have been a lot of noteworthy romance manga of late, and this is one of them. It starts off seemingly simple but grows a lot over the course of the series.

Shizuku is single-minded in her pursuit of academic success to the point of ignoring all else. Haru is, well, sort of a mess, with a long school absence, a quick temper, a complicated family situation, and a lack of understanding of social cues. Those factors are what lead Shizuku to visit him on a teacher’s orders. Haru quickly professes his love to her as casually as someone else might say, “I’m hungry.” And for her part, Shizuku dismisses him as acting on momentary feelings, causing Haru to dig in his heels.

It is rather refreshing to have the feelings out in the open so early in this series. While there is still the occasional uncertainty, it comes more from Shizuku not trusting her own feelings and not trusting those around her. Shizuku’s ongoing conflict within isn’t just about Haru either; she makes more connections with others as the story goes on, which causes her to reevaluate her approach to people.

The series also boasts a fantastic supporting cast. Lonely blogger Natsume who feels she can’t become friends with other girls practically steals the spotlight. Perceptive Sasayan who isn’t phased by the conflicts (both wacky and true) emerges as the last sane person. Cool Mi-chan who acts as a father figure to Haru takes everything in stride. And there are many others who come into Shizuku’s orbit.

I like that My Little Monster is about friendship, what that truly means and how to nurture it, as much as it is a love story. At first, it may strike you as the story of a good girl taming a wild guy but it is a lot more. Despite how different Shizuku and Haru seem at the beginning, inside they are actually quite similar.

~ kate

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Manga of the Month: Mobile Suit Gundam The Origin

March 7, 2015

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin
(機動戦士ガンダム THE ORIGIN) by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko

hisui_icon_4040 While several series might have been laid the foundations Yoshiyuki Tomino’s anime Mobile Suit Gundam is the father of the real robot genre. The anime brought an unpredicted level of realistic politics, warfare, and characterization to a genre that was previously filled with near magical (or is the case of Brave Raideen actually magical) giant robots fighting monsters. The idea that mecha could be mass-produced machines of war like tanks or planes changed the way those stories are told in a myriad of ways.

But there are two things to remember. The first was while Gundam was revolutionary it still had its feet half way in the genre that spawned it. There series still has some major super robot elements. The MA-04X Zakrello sums that up perfectly. The second is that Tomino is an odd duck. The good luck charm section of the Gundam novels is a prime example. While Gundam has been memorialized as a game changing series it is hardly perfect.

Jump ahead to June 2001. Yoshikazu Yasuhiko starts the Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin manga. It is pretty much proof that hindsight is 20/20. It is a retelling of the original story twenty-two years later. As the original character designer for Mobile Suit Gundam Yoshikazu Yasuhiko was intimately involved with the orignal production of the series. Therefore he knew the ins and outs of the series including what worked, what they had to cut, and what had not aged well with the original production. Overall the story is the same but this time Yoshikazu Yasuhiko has had over two decades of criticism, analysis, experience to make an updated version of one of the most famous Japanese science fiction stories of all time.

Could this remake live up to the original?

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Manga of the Month: Wolfsmund

February 11, 2015

Wolfsmund (狼の口 ヴォルフスムント)
by Mitsuhisa Kuji
Wolfsmund

narutaki_icon_4040 Wolfsmund spins a tale from mid-17th century Europe centering around the St. Gotthard Pass (a fortress nicknamed Wolfsmund) in the Alps and the ensuing Swiss peasant rebellions. The story takes us from the whispered words of unrest through (so far) all-out assault on the odious fortress known as Wolfsmund.

There are many character threads being pulled in different directions by the master of the fortress, Wolfram, and the hope of the peasant cause, Walter, son of Wilhelm Tell. Walter runs as hot as Wolfram runs cold and that distinction becomes more and more pronounced with each passing death. But Wolfram emerges as the more interesting character of the story despite Walter’s role as would-be hero. Wolfram is established early on as a fascinating, but truly villainous, character and nothing about the series suggests a heroic happy-ending for the rest of the cast.

Wolfsmund is incredibly violent in a hundred different ways. In an odd twist, scenes of the fortress being attacked are actually less gruesome than many earlier, smaller, attempts to snuff out rebels. Not to mention the truly vile and disturbing methods of Wolfram himself.

In the hands of Mitsuhisa Kuji, Wolfsmund’s emerges as a brutal historical fantasy with razor-sharp art. From harrowing scenes of people climbing the mountains in an attempt to skirt the pass to Wolfram’s unnerving calm as he quietly questions travelers, the reputation of Wolfsmund as a place without mercy and a master who is beguiling in how frightening he is is executed to perfection.

~ kate

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