Friday, December 23, 2011

Steampunk and Fullmetal Alchemist

Back in college, I think I was a sophomore, some of my anime watching buddies started talking about Fullmetal Alchemist and how "awesome" it was. Many of my friends had started getting into anything that was steam punk or cyberpunk styled and the only good thing I saw about either style was that it was fun to look at, but that was about it. And as a result of this, I had never read or watched Fullmetal when it was at its height of popularity.

A couple weeks ago I was doing a manga-title search of tsutaya, which it where I always end up doing my manga-title searches, when I saw the Fullmetal display at the front of the section. I stood there for a little while and checked out the covers and decided that I would add it to my list of manga to read. It was such a commercial success that it seemed strange not to read it and see what all the fuss was about.

I completely understand why this manga was such a success.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The New "Modern Family" in Miyuki

Adachi Mitsuru. He's name evokes dozens of different titles compiled in a career that has spans decades and is not finished yet. And I am completely late to the party. I was absolutely oblivious to Adachi Mitsurus works until my advisor handed me a book called 『マンガ論』by Yoshimoto Takaaki, who happens to be a very famous writer and father to Yoshimoto Banana (who is a very famous contemporary Japanese fiction writer). One of his essays talks about gender and family issues in a couple of older manga and Miyuki was one of them.

After I read the essay, I didn't immediately rush to my laptop and start googling up a storm but I started thinking about how little older manga series I have read. One of my habits is to head to tsutaya or book off and take pictures of manga covers that I think look interesting. It makes it so easy, maybe a little TOO easy, to look up the manga later. My "manga I want to read" folder in my bookmarks is ridiculously long now.

Back to the topic at hand, I was at book off when I saw the rather large section of Adachi Mitsuru manga. Since I was curious I looked through to see what titles they had and I saw Miyuki right away. Deciding that this was sign from the manga god himself, I took a picture of it and started reading it right after I finished Basara. How could I have lived to long as a manga reader without reading or even KNOWING his name?! I hang my head in shame and will redeem myself by reading as many of his manga as I can get my hot little hands on.

We shall start with the manga that started this movement Miyuki

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Maturity of a Mangaka - Basara and 7 Seeds

In my previous post, I did a review and essay on Tamura Yumi's 7 Seeds. After I finished reading it, it was brought to my attention (via the internet) that she had another successful manga that I hadn't read before, Basara. While 7 Seeds is intended for an older audience, Basara was obviously intended for the shojou crowd. Basara consists of 27 tankoban written from 1990 - 1998 and with my current situation, it was not so easy to find it as a complete set, so I searched the internet for an online reader site that was able to deliver the goods for me.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Unexpected Depth of 7 Seeds

Quite honestly, I am not really sure how to start of this blog post. I wish to clear up something really quick. I believe that have given off the impression that I only enjoy seinen or shonen manga. This is not entirely the case. While, yes, I do prefer these genres on a personal level, I am open to all types and genres. While I have yet to get into some of them, I have every intention of writing about every genre. Which shall start now!

A couple weeks ago, I had a friend randomly send me a message asking me if I was reading 7 Seeds, by Tamura Yumi and I had to honestly answer no and that it was on my list of "manga to read" (which basically gets updated every other day). The truth of the matter is that I had seen the manga at Book-Off for months now, but I looked at the art style and it kinda turned me off to the manga. I know my mother always told me, "Don't judge a book by its cover", but I was judging the art style. Tamura draws in a VERY old shojou style, I'm talking Sailor Moon style, which, while I was in middle and high school, was a style I was attracted to, now I am not.

After my friend asked me, I decided to check it out so that we could talk about it. I was so surprised about the depth of this manga. While it is a josei manga, that means it comes with emotional twisting drama and characters, it is also ment for older girls and young women and it dives into a theme that I haven't really seen any other josei or shoujo dive it, the apocalypse. After a little research, I learned that this manga has been running 10 years strong, which is only a little shorter than Naruto, and that it's an award winner. It's the 2007 Shogakukan Manga Award winner for shoujo manga and it is well deserved.


Friday, December 2, 2011

The Reality of Gaku: Minna no Yama

Recently, I have started really enjoying manga that portrays reality. As much as I enjoy and devour being taken to new worlds that allow people to walk up trees, or summon a demon, or live with elves ( not the keebler kind) there is just something much more gratifying and rewarding when I read manga that showcases realistic characters in realistic situations. While I feel that all mangaka get reality across in their manga in different senses, there are some that just do it better. In particular,  Ishizuka Shinichi in his wonderful and award winning manga Gaku: Minna no Yama.

I find it surprising and not so surprising that there aren't any scanlation groups that have picked up this manga. Gaku is a pretty popular manga that got made into a movie just last year with Oguri Shun and Nagasawa Masami in the leading roles. Plot wise, the manga has everything. There's drama, danger, sadness, character development, real life issues, and rememberable characters. I understand that most American or English readers of manga are not all that interested in a plot that revolves around mountain climbers and rescuers in the Northern Japanese Alps, but they really should. Ishizuka has opened the door to a part of Japan that I feel everybody, Japanese or Foreigner, gets to see or appreciate; which is why I think it's so popular here. There really aren't that many manga out right now with this type of storyline.

Umizara, or Sea Monkeys, came out in the late 90s and early 2000s and was successful. It revolved around the Japanese Coast Guard and their numerous rescues and private lives. 3 movies and 2 seasons of the drama later it has proved that its a marketable and popular plot. Gaku follows this type of story and should be as successful.

Yet, I was unable to find scanlations for either of these mangas. I know that there isn't any moe or crazy cute girls in there, but that should not be the most important point in reading manga. There are so many more and interesting levels to manga, not just Shounen Jump and Margaret Comics. Please manga readers and scanlators, pick up more some seinen manga!