Manga of the Month: The Ancient Magus’ Bride

The Ancient Magus’ Bride (魔法使いの嫁) by Kore Yamazaki

hisui_icon_4040_round As someone who has been playing tabletop role-playing games for decades, I am always a fan of a good magic setting. I love exploring magic systems, learning about magical organizations, and thinking about spell possibilities. So fantasy series in anime and manga certainly scratch this itch. Kate and I usually give all but the most lecherous and/or despicable fantasy series a chance to see what they have to offer. While I love the standard sword and sorcery medieval setting my preferred setting is series where magic lies hidden beneath the world we know today. There is a strong appeal to the idea that magic is hiding just around the corner right outside of your vision. In my humble opinion, it is a reason Harry Potter is so popular. I know it is the reason I like Mage: The Ascension and Type-Moon material.

Therefore I was naturally inclined to see out The Ancient Magus’ Bride. It’s a rich magical world set in the shadowlands of England where a half fae mage takes in a young lady as his new apprentice and his wife. The Ancient Magus’ Bride is a stunning combination of fantastic art, rich world building, and subtle storytelling draw fans of fantasy into a beautifully melancholy dream of fairyland.

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Manga of the Month: Kuroko’s Basketball

Kuroko’s Basketball (黒子のバスケ) by Tadatoshi Fujimaki

narutaki_icon_4040_round Kuroko’s vision of basketball is pretty simple: create ultimate teamwork to defeat teams reliant on star players. Kuroko experienced the later during his middle school years as he played the mysterious 6th man on his team nicknamed The Generation of Miracles. Kuroko observed the crumbling of his former team before each of them moved on to rival high schools.

Now Kuroko has joined Seirin’s still fledgling basketball club with some talented 2nd years and a unique coach. There he meets the returned from America Taiga whose potential is palpable spurning Kuroko to make him a bold promise to “make you the best in Japan.” They vow to confront the Generation of Miracles as they make their way to nationals.

Tadatoshi Fujimaki’s version of basketball sometimes borders on magic, much like the escalation of shonen battle manga. And that is also reflected in the detailed artwork of the sports scenes. His character Kuroko adds a very unique take on sport as well.

At first, I didn’t know what to expect of a quiet, mild character like Kuroko. He is a fare-cry from the stoic or hot-blooded character you’d imagine in the lead role. On the basketball court, he plays a nearly invisible player whose strength lies in passing the ball. Still Kuroko is a genius-type, but he is such a genius that many times only the other geniuses can tell how good he is. That being said, at the beginning of the story he can barely make a layup or any other play beyond passing or stealing the ball.

Kuroko’s desire to create a team that works in perfect unison means he puts a lot of focus on the improvement of others, which mirrors his ability on the court to divert attention from himself. In most instances, he doesn’t seem concerned about himself at all which is shocking. But there is no doubt as the series goes on that this beautiful ideal of Kuroko’s makes him shine brightly.

The rapport between the Seirin members is exactly what Kuroko is looking for in a team and exactly what I want as a reader. I’ve never found myself more interested in basketball!

~ kate

Manga of the Month: Sweetness and Lightning

Sweetness and Lightning (甘々と稲妻) by Gido Amagakure

hisui_icon_4040_round If you have ever talked to anyone who licensed manga you know the holy grail of titles is a series that is getting an anime. Not every manga that gets an anime becomes profitable but any series that has an animated version will be more profitable than it would have been if it has to stand on its own. While manga has a distinct presence and fandom in the English-speaking world it could be argued that manga often acts as an add-on to anime which is the opposite of how it usually works in Japan. If nothing else, that is how I found Sweetness and Lightning.

While I regularly read several series on Crunchyroll manga I have found that I am slow to start new series. I check in every Tuesday to read Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches and The Seven Deadly Sins. When I remember I catch up with GTO: Paradise LostSpace BrothersPrincess Jellyfish, and The Heroic Legend of Arslan. With all of that, it makes it a bit daunting to start a new series. Sweetness and Lightning was a series that I was thinking of starting but I just never mustered the momentum to try it. After watching the anime I went back and have started reading through the archives. I mostly realized I should have started when I first had the chance.

This gives me a new way of reading a series. I often either read the manga before watching the anime or watch the anime and then use the manga to continue the story. This is the first time I am reading the manga alongside the anime. Every time I watch an episode of the anime I then go back and read up to that point in the anime. I am curious to see how this method changes the way I look at both versions.

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