Archive for the ‘Manga of the Month’ Category

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Manga of the Month: Honey So Sweet

February 4, 2016

Honey So Sweet (ハニー) by Amu Meguro

narutaki_icon_4040 Every now and then I just need a very simple, very sweet romance between two adorable kids. This time around kind-hearted Nao and delinquent-with-a-heart-of-gold Taiga fill that niche perfectly.

Nao sees a beat-up boy in the rain, she can’t bring herself to speak to him but she leaves him her umbrella and box of bandages. Unbeknownst to her, that boy turns out to be scary-faced Taiga who asks Nao out soon after they start high school. Nao ends up accepting out of fear, but soon realizes that Taiga is a good-hearted person and confesses that she just wants to be friends.

Nao’s honesty at the beginning of the series is really endearing and it creates a bond of trust between her and Taiga. Plus, the cards are on the proverbial table about their feelings. What starts off as kind of an oddball friendship becomes the cornerstone to their school life as they navigate fitting in and other high school experiences. They rely on each other when faced with the not-overly-dramatic obstacles in their paths.

Taiga’s nervousness around Nao is more than a little adorable. You’ll be hard-pressed not to be warmed by the way he sends her texts or how he reacts when she calls him for the first time. For Nao’s part, she is a very open and kind person but willing to stand-up for her friends. And of course we get the chance to watch her fall in love with Taiga.

An irresistibly super cute romance at its finest.

~ kate

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Manga of the Month: Ad Astra Per Aspera

January 8, 2016

Ad Astra Per Aspera (アド アストラ ペル アスペラ)
by Kenjiro Hata

hisui_icon_4040 Look. Lets just get this out-of-the-way. Kenjiro Hata is writing a new manga. It involves giant robots in a space opera. It was going to wind up here in Manga of the Month. It was pretty much its destiny. It would take something like a manga about table top RPGs written by Kinoko Nasu and drawn by Rumiko Takahasi to knock this series out of this spot. I mostly was just waiting for a few chapters to come out before I wrote it up. So if you want a totally objective recommendation free of prejudice that simply beaks down why this series deserves to be counted as a Manga of the Month that is not going to happen.

  1. Because your never really going to get that anywhere. You’re just going to get someone who tries to divorce themselves from their feelings despite the fact that columns like this always exist as a subjective opinion.
  2. This blog has never been that coldly analytical.
  3. This is a Kenjiro Hata manga, and I am me, so that probably never happen even if it were the tone of the blog.

So if you want to hear me gush about a comedy manga here you go. Otherwise just chalk it up to me just actually liking Japanese comedy manga.

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Manga of the Month: Buddy Strike

December 4, 2015

Buddy Strike (バディストライク) by Kaito

narutaki_icon_4040 The creator of Cross Manage brings us a new sports manga about a pitcher and catcher duo (known as a “battery”). Buddy Strike features Ryo a pitcher whose throw is so fearsome even he can’t control it. And Kaname who can catch any pitch but asks for the pitcher’s soul in return.

As you can see Buddy Strike likes to be melodramatic. And that’s what I like about it. Once we start seeing pitches they are over the top interpretations of how characters look and react on a grand scale. The artwork is also hyper-detailed in these moments giving them intensity. We may end up with a more power-based sports series than a more down-to-earth one.

The mantra of sports series now seems to be “you can’t play x sport alone.” Buddy Strike makes this a central focus as Ryo has gone through many catchers who simply can’t play with him. Kaname with his skull-shaped birthmark and eccentric personality is really the only way to go for Ryo if he wants to become the best. Kaname is very mysterious so far and feels like the star of the show (but maybe I’m just showing my bias towards catchers).

Buddy Strike is neither too serious or too silly. Kaito created an excellent balance between sports drama and comedy with Cross Manage as well so I am hopeful that we’ll be seeing more of Buddy Strike.

Buddy Strike is the latest in VIZ’s “Jump Start” selections which feature new series hot off the presses in Japan.

~ kate

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Manga of the Month: Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha

November 3, 2015

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha
(いなり、こんこん、恋いろは)
by Morohe Yoshida

hisui_icon_4040 If you want to set yourself up as a soothsayer for the manga industry there is one simple rule that will make you look like you can read the stars with perfect accuracy: Look what happened to the anime industry 5 years before and then just predict the same will happen with the manga industry. You will be the Nostradamus of manga. In that respect we are finally moving into aperiod with the simulpubs of manga as well as a far more robust marketplace for digital manga. While the demand for physical manga has not become the complete niche collectors market that the anime sphere has become there is a growing demand and preference for a digital option. That means new companies popping up to meet that demand.

The thing is all these new services need titles to hook potential costumers into trying their services. A title to draw in readers when they could be buying physical books, using other manga services, or just spending their time and money elsewhere. If you remember the launch of Crunchyroll manga you will remember they came out swinging with titles like Fairy Tail and Attack on Titan. Viz has all its best-selling Jump manga. But beyond that you need a good base of good series that are not a big marquee titles but are enough of a draw that hopefully people will look into them when they are done with books that drew them in. At least that seems to be standard formula.

It seems that Book Walker has gone done a different path. Instead of having one or two killer series and backing them up with a handful of other series they seem to have gone with a wide breadth of solid mid-tier manga. They have a lot of series with have anime and good reputations but nothing that is guaranteed to sell like Naruto or Sword Art Online. It is not that these titles can’t get that popular it is just that they are much more likely just to do well as opposed to selling like gangbusters. But that also means there are some titles in their lineup that are extremely good but for one reason or another that have been passed over by the transitional physical manga publishers.

One of those series is definitely Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha. We wrote about the anime in 2014 but the anime was only part of the story. But now that you can get all of the series in English I felt like it was worth talking about the manga again.

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