Manga of the Month: Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer

Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer (パ惑星のさみだれ) by Satoshi Mizukami

hisui_icon_4040_round The title of manga is often the series first foot forward. Much like a beautiful cover or a striking character design the title has the ability to catch a reader’s imagination in an instant. Most titles are functional with maybe a little hook. Just looking at the top manga on My Anime List you find titles like Berserk,  Fullmetal Alchemist,  Monster, One Piece, Slam Dunk that are all slightly descriptive and mildly intriguing but rely much more on their art work and plot description to draw people in. None of those titles hurt their respective series but they also don’t do any sort of heavy lifting. Then you have the infamous super lengthy light novel title that spells out the premise in almost press release levels of detail. I just linked to an article about some of the longer ones because body has time for a list of four of them. Those titles are the very essence of does exactly what is on the tin.

 In contrast Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure almost demands that you pick up the series just to see what it is about. It only gives you the vaguest idea what the series is about and piques all but the dullest curiosity. Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer is one of those titles as well. You have a Judeo-Christian fallen angel and a device for making mochi. Not two things you normally associate with each other. It is a title that invites anyone who see a volume at least a reason to give it a second glance. You probably want to at least know the general plot if nothing else.

I had actually heard about Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer several years back. It was generally one of those titles that had a small but vocal fanbase that usually would throw it out as a series that needed to get licensed. The passion of the fans mixed with the memorable title definitely kept it as something I should remember. When I saw that my local library had the complete series I felt it was finally time to see what everyone had been talking about. I truly think that if the title has been less memorable I might have not had anywhere as strong an inclination to read this series which would have been quite the shame.

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Kizumonogatari: Beware That, When Fighting Monsters, You Yourself do not Become a Monster…

hisui_icon_4040_round This post is four reviews for the price of one. You can’t beat value like that. Mind you this site is free but I still think the economical nature of this post is undeniable.

I decided that I would review all three Kizumonogatari movies as well as the original novel in one post. While I was given a copy of the Kizumonogatari novel right after I saw the first movie I decided that I would wait to read it until after I watched all three movies. It is a well-known phenomenon that visual adaptations tend to get much harsher reviews if the critic has read the source material first. I wanted to give both versions as fair as shake as I can so that is why I am bundling all four reviews into one review.

As this is a Nisio Isin series that focuses on vampires there is absolutely no chance of Kate participating in this review. Much like crosses and vampires, I’m fairly certain that Kizumonogatari actually acts as a ward against Kate and possibly does 2d6 damage under the right circumstances.

I also wanted to mention that these Kizumonogatari movies have been in a bit of limbo for a while. The films were originally announced all the way back in July 2010. After several delays and the release of later books as TV series, the release of Kizumonogatari became a bit of a running joke among fans of the series as it was trapped in development hell. In fact, Shaft released 2 multi-part seasons of different parts of the Monogatari series before they released these three movies. More and more points of the anime referenced the plot in Kizumonogatari with the assumption that people had read the book so anyone who only watched the anime just had to piece what happened in the third book by inference. That too became a bit of a running joke with English-speaking fans.

I don’t really know why the movies got delayed as long as they did. It is certainly not a Duke Nukem Forever train wreck despite being delayed so long. In fact, it is on par with everything else that has come before it with a bit more theatrical polish. I mostly wanted to mention that as a bit of history especially if anyone reads this post years after the movies come out it would be very easy to not ever realize how much later these movies came out then it was originally scheduled.

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Manga of the Month: The Ghost and the Lady

The Ghost and the Lady (黒博物館 スプリンガルド) by Kazuhiro Fujita

hisui_icon_4040_round I have generally made it a rule not to randomly attend industry panels anymore. For the longest time, you can see almost any announcements instantly thanks to Crunchyroll News and Anime News Network when they cover conventions. On top of that between fans, bloggers, journalist, and industry reps I have found that Twitter covers all of your other bases. You can even often ask the people running the panel a question over Twitter. But I recently realized I might have spoken a little too soon. What I should have said is that anime panels are not that big a priority but there are some unexpected benefits to going to manga panels.

I say that because I realized that streaming makes people aware of 95% of what is playing in Japan at any time. Other than kids shows and some odd exceptions you can watch almost every major TV show and most of the minor ones. Therefore I feel most hardcore fans have a decent awareness of what is available and what anime is out there. On the other hand, manga is still mostly an ocean of undiscovered country. You need to be able to read Japanese and have access to manga magazines and manga apps to even have a decent overview of what comes out every week in manga.

This problem is only compounded by the fact that I always feel the manga localization companies are mediocre at making people aware of anything but their most prominent titles. Vertical is probably the best about advertising their whole catalog but at most I can only name the big titles from most companies unless I have a personal investment in some of their other series. I am regularly shocked when I see half of  VIZ’s catalog because I was totally unaware that many of their titles exist let alone they were licensed.  I don’t claim to be an advertising wizard that has the solution to this lack of penetration but it is clearly a case where most fans who care have to put in the work otherwise they can easily miss some gems.

One of those diamonds in the rough is The Ghost and the Lady. I had been trying to see as much anime and manga content at NYCC in 2016 one of the panels I attended was the Kodansha Comics panel. There I saw several titles I was totally unaware of. The one that interested me the most was a historical supernatural tale that teamed up Florence Nightingale with Man in Grey of Drury Lane. It has secret histories, magic, dueling, and mystery. SOLD!

If I had not gone to that panel I would have never known this existed. That would distinctly be a shame because this is all up my alley. (I also might have gotten Florence Nightingale as a Servant in Fate/Grand Order so I am doubly interested in various interpretations of her now. That is sort of silly but it is true none the less.)

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