Manga of the Month: Flying Witch

Flying Witc(ふらいんぐうぃっち) by Chihiro Ishizuka

hisui_icon_4040_round If you were hoping for a trifecta of titles where the anime and manga are radically different I feel this pick will sadly disappoint you. Flying Witch has a very consistent feel between its various iterations. No matter how your experience Flying Witch you will get a similar relaxed down home feel with vibrant magic, warm friendships , and hilarious family bonding. The manga provides all of this in spades and the anime merely uses the original as a spectacularly solid template.

Flying Witch is the exemplar of magical slice of life shows. It is hardly the first in the genre. Heck most of the original magical girl manga would actually be classified as magical slice of life manga if they were made today. The thing is if you want a title that perfect encapsulates the idea of slice of life with witches then there are few other manga that are so close to a platonic ideal. Other than Makoto and Chinatsu trying to be witches there is nothing even resembling an overarching plot but magic is omnipresent in the manga. This is not Kimagure Orange Road with its almost aggressive disinterest in its super natural aspects. It is a careful balance of the mundanity of country living and fantastical awe of magic. They are seemingly opposite ideas that blend together surprisingly well for a greater whole.

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Manga of the Month: Tokyo Tarareba Girls

Tokyo Tarareba Girls by Akiko Higashimura

Are you in the Olympic spirit like me? Then enjoy Tokyo Tarareba Girls! I’m sure a dramedy about single 30-somethings discussing their lives and loves isn’t the first series that seems relevant to an international athletic competition, but these women have a plan: get married before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

From the creator of Princess Jellyfish comes a hilarious and searing look into the concepts of youth, beauty, love, sex, and society’s expectations on women, especially as they age. Successful screenwriter Rinko and her friends meet-up to commiserate their “old age” and play the what-if game of continuously rehashing their past decisions and speculating on how things could have turned out differently. Their feelings about their failed relationships and their desires to find love are complex. They embrace society’s demands of them while also trying to reject those demands; it’s a tough and true place they find themselves in.

Funny, heartbreaking, a little too on the nose at times, and over the top at the right points, Tokyo Tarareba Girls speaks with authenticity about the actual experience of your 30s VS what you thought it would be like in your 20s. Just because life didn’t turn out the way you planned doesn’t make it wrong, but will Rinko learn this herself by the end?

~kate

Manga of the Month: Cells at Work!

Cells at Work! by Akane Shimizu

narutaki_icon_4040_round If someone told me that my new favorite manga would be about the internal workings of the cells in the human body, I wouldn’t have believed it. But here we are!

In Cells at Work!, Akane Shimizu takes the many cells that keep our bodies running and imagines them as humanoid characters working in complex company systems. For example, the red blood cells are depicted as a shipping company ala Fedex with hundreds of workers running here and there with carts of packages to be delivered.

Our leads are Red Blood Cell  (RBC from here on) and White Blood Cell (WBC from here on), you have to know them by sight since there are hundreds of other red and white cells running around the series. WBC is a no-nonsense, precise, doer who goes to any length to protect and eradicate any threat to the body. RBC a hard-working, bright newbie to the delivery company and often runs into WBC on her errands around the body. RBC is often the point-of-view character to what all is happening.

The stories are episodic with a chapter, sometimes two, taking on various illnesses or other happenings in the human body. I’ve thus far learned about allergies, the creation of cancer cells, what happens when the body gets a scrape, and more! Each chapter has some asides which are no intrusive to explain terminology or give more information about a given subject.

Learning is great! But the thing that makes Cells at Work!, well . . . work, is the comedy. Each character has an over-the-top personality and everyone takes their jobs very seriously. Bickering, side comments, rivalries, mishaps, and everything in between pepper this series with a big dose of humor.

Cells at Work! is a delightful, laugh-out-loud way to learn about the mysterious inner workings of the human body.

~ kate