Archive for the ‘Manga of the Month’ Category


Manga of the Month: Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha

November 3, 2015

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha
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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Manga of the Month: The Morose Mononokean

October 1, 2015

The Morose Mononokean (不機嫌なモノノケ庵)
by Kiri Wazawa

narutaki_icon_4040 When a yokai attaches itself to you, who ya gonna call?

Ashiya find himself with an unintended supernatural companion after he helps a yokai one night. While in the high school infirmary, he spies a strange help wanted flier for an exorcist and decides to call. While on the call, Ashiya is asked for his location and then told to simply open the nurse’s office door. Instead of walking in to the hall, he ends up in a tea room with the aloof Mononokean Master Abeno.

After coming to understand his mistake with the first yokai he encountered, Ashiya becomes more sensitive to their requests. By the end of the first volume, Ashiya has become an apprentice to Abeno as he deals with yokai in the area and takes on requests from clients.

The stories of the yokai are tender portraits which tend toward melancholy as we come to understand them and their past connections. Ashiya’s naive helpfulness and Abeno’s matter-of-fact attitude lighten things up from time to time. And it is clear that mysterious Abeno has many secrets to share as the series goes on.

Wazawa’s yokai designs are well-crafted and have a tendency towards dramatic immensity. I’m looking forward to what the next will look like.

Following in the tradition of many great series about yokai, The Morose Mononokean adds a touch of humor and two more excellent personalities to the genre.

~ kate


Manga of the Month: OPUS

September 1, 2015

OPUS by Satoshi Kon

hisui_icon_4040 The death of Satoshi Kon has left an ever-present hole in anime fandom. He was unique visionary that was able to create movies that impacted the international film community in a way that transcended the medium. Movies like Paprika and Perfect Blue will surely be universally looked back on as masterpieces decades from now. So when he died far before his time due to cancer it only exasperated the loss of such a genius due to the knowledge that there was clearly so much more he could have done had he not died so tragically.

In response people  have gone back and tried to mine his career for anything that have gone overlooked before he died. While the first thing people looked for was any anime projects he worked on it was not to long before fans started to delve into his time as a manga artist. While Satoshi Kon has always been extremely humble about his career as a mangaka an audience that is extremely hungry for anything else from him has eagerly started digging into his work from that time. Partially to see where he came from as a creative artists, partially to understand his work as a whole, sometimes to guess how he would have grown, and mostly to just capture something from someone who was no longer here.

Opus is a manga that shows his transition from manga artist to an anime director. As it was his last full manga series that he worked on during Perfect Blue so it is the clearest picture of him in-between both mediums. So you your interested in learning more about Kon as a creator it is a unique insight to his development. You see not only see his influences on his sleeve but the strong direction that the rest of his work would take.

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Manga of the Month: Princess Jellyfish

August 14, 2015

Princess Jellyfish (海月姫) by Akiko Higashimura

narutaki_icon_4040 Ah, to be out on your own and among friends. Well, sort of. The women of the Amamizukan apartment house are a group of NEETs being supported by their parents and bound together by sisterhood (no men allowed!), geekery, and a rejection of trendy culture. But aspiring artist and jellyfish otaku Tsukimi inadvertently upsets the balance after bringing home the way-too-fashionable Kuranosuke.

Kuranosuke enters the house after helping Tsukimi rescue a jellyfish from a neglectful petstore. He is a cross-dresser, which Tsukimi doesn’t realize until the next morning, upsetting the balance even further. To top it off, once Kuranosuke meets the women of the house he gains a brash desire to pull Tsukimi and her friends into the real world.

The unlikely and unconventional friendship between Tsukimi and Kuranosuke is the crux of the series. These are two characters with a lot of complex issues to work through from their pasts on the way to who they want to be. They both feel the loss of their mothers keenly. Tsukimi is hiding away and Kuranosuke is hiding in plain sight.

The depiction of women geeks and groups comes from a place of clear understanding and doesn’t veer into fetishization. Likewise, Kuranosuke’s cross-dressing is thoughtful and his reasons for it are explored.

Throw in Kuranosuke’s brother who falls in love with Tsukimi after an impromptu makeover; the political spotlight that Kurnosuke’s family occupies; and the ensuing redevelopment project of the neighborhood, and you have a series that will tickle your funny bone and pull at your heart.

~ kate


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