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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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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Baccano! Novel 1: The Rolling Bootlegs—Immortal Gangsta’s Paradise

hisui_icon_4040_round I was recently at the Kinokuniya Bookstore since it is on the way to the Mid-Manhattan Library. After looking at the new English-language manga I sent out two tweets. The first was the cover of  Queen Emeraldas manga and the second was the cover of the Baccano! novel. I asked if anyone had read either book and what they thought of it. Interestingly enough the Queen Emeraldas manga got quite a few responses but I did not see any conversation around Baccano! That was not the expected reaction at all.

I say that because I always thought that American fandom (or at least the anitwitter portion) loved Baccano! Whenever Durarara!! comes up it seems like someone always has to bring up that “they are fine with more Durarara!! but what they are really waiting for is more of the far superior Baccano!” It even has all the classic hallmarks for mainstream popularity: It has a Western setting, it has lots of violence, it can be sexy but it does not have excessive fan service. Not every series that has that combination is popular, they still have to be good, but any show that has all three is far more likely to be very popular.

It seemed like a formula for instant success. Now it might have been that I posted my tweet at a time that all the Leiji Matsumoto fans were out in full force but the Baccano fans were AFK but it made me extremely eager to read the first book. Was the silence just bad timing, a sign that Baccano! fandom has sadly died off since there has been no new anime since 2007 or is the book itself the weak link in the chain.

narutaki_icon_4040_round Baccano! like its (more?) well-known cousin Durarara!! is based on a very long running series of novels by Ryohgo Narita. But unlike DRRR!!, Baccano’s anime only finished up a couple of story arcs before ending. Though many of us still hold out hope that more anime is in-store, we’re lucky enough to now have access to the original novels in case those hopes are never met.

The first Baccano! novel covers some familiar ground and characters of the anime but in a more linear fashion.

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