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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Fate/Grand Order: First Order – Cú Chulainn is the Eternal Top Dog

hisui_icon_4040_round Mobile Games are big business. I just had to type in the sentence into google and then pick from the dozens of links to find something I wanted to use to verify that last statement. There is a whole WORLD of criticism about the models that free to play games use to monetize their players to be profitable. This is not a video game blog so I will talk instead about the one major potential upsides. When these games do well they can generate a tremendous amount of revenue which in turn is then often funneled into an anime in which to promote the game and hopefully draw in new players. These productions can vary wildly. Rage of Bahamut: Genesis is still the gold standard of what these shows can be. Overall they can be utter drek to surprisingly fun material with most of the titles being middle of the road work for hire material. Neither grand or horrible but utterly serviceable in their complete banal mediocrity.

The main problem is most of these free to play games have a very loose plot. Just enough to propel the story forward but not much more depth than is needed. They use character designs and a loose bit of lore in place of substance and hope that fanon fills in everything else. Fate/Grand Order being a Type-Moon property means that unlike your standard mobile game there is a visual novel’s worth of story in the game alongside the volumes of material surrounding all the established characters in the Nasuverse. It is as if Lord of the Rings or Star Wars made a new full-fledged leg of the series solely told within a mobile game. While this means it has a very substantial feel it cannot escape the fact that it is an anime based on a video game. Anime based on video games have an oh so slightly better track record than movies based on video games but not THAT much better.

Fate/Grand Order: First Order is an adaption of the prelude chapter of the Fate/Grand Order. As it is the opening section it has the most exposition but it also has the most room to maneuver. In many ways, it is the best test of how well an animated Fate/Grand Order would fly. This is the time for Lay-duce to either show that they can make something enjoyable from Fate/Grand Order or add another example of why companies should avoid carelessly pumping out anime based on video games.

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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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