Category Archives: Manga Monday

Review: Yowamushi Pedal Vol. 1

yowamushi-pedal-coverFor the love of all things otaku–anime, video games, figures, you name it!

Power-pedaling Sakamichi Onoda has long been conquering the steepest slopes and regularly making the ninety-kilometer round-trip to Akihabara on a mommy bike!! But when his bike commute to his new high school lands him in a confrontation with the serious first-year road racer Imaizumi, Onoda has a major showdown on his hands! Can this meek geek really out-pedal the future ace of the school road-racing team?!

A manga about bicycling? Wataru Watanabde gives us Yowamushi Pedal a fantastic series that delivers in a hell of a lot of ways.

Focused on Sakamichi Onoda the first volume is a simple tale of a young boy who heads to high school where he feels like he can finally fit in by joining the anime/manga club, but it’s canceled. For a long time now he’s been heading to Akihabara to get the latest releases and due to the distance and the bike he’s been using he’s really good at biking. Challenged by a die hard bicyclist Imaizumi, this is a chance for Sakamichi to prove he’s more than an anime/manga otaku.

The series is a fun that’s relatable as it dives into the geek vs. jock dynamic so many of us are familiar with. But, it also has a lesson that appearances can be deceiving and even though he might look like a stereotypical geek, he’s really good at biking.

The first volume is a hell of a setup giving us reasons as to why Sakamichi is so good and more than enough to relate to him as well. Watanabe nails it as far as story and art drawing us in.

The art is fantastic with a great mix of action of quieter moments, but all of them in a way that’s engaging. What I personally really enjoy about this particular volume is that some of the translations and explanations of the original Japanese are in the margins on the page as opposed to being in the back of the manga (though there’s some of that too). So, you can spend a bit more time on the page appreciating everything and helping to understand some of the details.

While the lessons and themes of this first volume or simple, they’re also familiar, and due to that it makes this series relatable and one I can’t wait to read more of.

Story: Wataru Watanabe Art: Wataru Watanabe
Story: 8.85 Art: 8.85 Overall: 8.85 Recommendation: Buy

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Hunter X Hunter Set 2 Out February 28th

hunterxhunter-set02-bluray-beautyshotVIZ Media expands the home media library for the Hunter X Hunter anime series with the release of Hunter X Hunter Set 2 on February 28th.

The latest edition of the action-driven series will be released as DVD and Blu-ray sets that each contain 13 episodes (Episodes 14 to 26). The Hunter X Hunter Set 2 Blu-ray will carry an MSRP of $29.98 U.S. / $34.99 CAN; the Hunter X Hunter Set 2 DVD edition will carry an MSRP of $24.98 U.S. / $29.99 CAN.

The two-disc Blu-ray set includes uncut English dubbed as well as Japanese subtitled dialogue options along with series trailers and clean opening and ending segments. Special bonus content and premiums exclusive to the Blu-ray edition includes a digital art gallery and three full-color Hunter X Hunter postcards.

In the Fourth Phase of the Hunter Exam the participants must steal ID badges from each other—and anyone without enough badges at the end of one week fails! It will take trickery, unexpected alliances, and careful negotiations for Gon and his friends to succeed. In the Final Phase, the remaining Hunter candidates are matched up for one-on-one battles—but the only way to win this fight is to lose! After the exam, Gon discovers that Killua has gone back home, so he and his friends head to the Republic of Padokea to find him.

The Hunter X Hunter anime series reboots the popular Hunter X Hunter manga originally created by Yoshihiro Togashi. The anime adventure is broadcast in North America on Adult Swim’s Toonami and was produced by the famed animation studio, MADHOUSE. The fresh English voice cast includes the talented Erica Mendez as Gon Freecss, Cristina Vee as Killua Zoldyck, Keith Silverstein as Hisoka, and Erika Harlacher as Kurapika.

In the original Hunter X Hunter manga series, which is also published by VIZ Media, Hunters are a special breed, dedicated to tracking down treasures, magical beasts, and even other people. But such pursuits require a license, and less than one in a hundred thousand can pass the grueling qualification exam. Those who do pass gain access to restricted areas, amazing stores of information, and the right to call themselves Hunters.

Review: Kuma Miko Volume 1: Girl Meets Bear

kuma-mikoMachi is 14 years old and has spent her whole life in the Touhoku Mountains as a miko. Raised alongside a talking bear, Natsu, she knows nothing of modern life. But, she’s enthralled with its mysteries and determined to figure them out. Natsu attempts to prepare her for the trials and tribulations she will face entering the fast-paced city in this comical coming of age story of a backwoods girl in Japan.

Kuma Miko: Girl Meets Bear is a cute manga starring a young girl and a bear in a magical world. Written and art by Masume Yoshimoto, the manga series is adorable and pretty weird.

Much of this first volume is a slice of life in a way focused on Natsu who wants to escape her role and small time life for the fast-paced city. At its core, the story is a parent dealing with their rebellious teenager, but in this case the parent is a talking bear.

Filled with lore, rituals, and a spiritual world, this first volume is very Japanese and I have a feeling the more familiar with the culture and world you are, the more you’d appreciate the series and manga.

I mentioned the story is weird and there’s an odd sexual tone throughout the manga, including a story about people with bears, and a lot of sexual harassment. But, that harassment is constantly called out and it is mentioned multiple times that Natsu is underage. It’s a bit weird to read and I can only think things might flow a bit better in the original Japanese. The English translation at times is a bit stilted and some things are quite clear.

The art is lovely in a kids story sort of way. The art perfectly matches the tone of the manga’s story though nothing really stands out. Still, there’s lots of detail and the characters are very distinctive.

The first volume isn’t pulse-pounding action and that slower pace stands out. It’s not something I find regularly in the world of manga. There’s a focus on tradition here in many ways. For those interested in Japanese culture, this is a manga that might be right up your ally.

Story: Masume Yoshimoto Art: Masume Yoshimoto
Story: 6 Art: 7.70 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

One Peace Books provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

VIZ Media Details February Digital Manga Update

socuteithurts_01cvrVIZ Media spreads the love this February with brand new digital manga content that includes the latest updates to a variety of acclaimed and fan favorite series.

Notable additions this month are highlighted by the latest volumes for several continuing titles including Vol. 2 of The Children Nowadays, Vol. 8 of the sports drama, HAIKYU!!, along with Vol. 2 of the action/adventure, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Part 3: Stardust Crusaders and Vol. 11 of the smash hit horror series, Tokyo Ghoul.

Readers and shojo manga fans will not want to miss a special manga sale in anticipation of Valentine’s Day with special pricing on all volumes of So Cute It Hurts!! for a limited time. Additional shojo series will be featured each week throughout the month in celebration of the season of love. Readers are encouraged to check back regularly for newly discounted titles.

Readers are also invited to explore a wide range of digital manga series that are featured in current issues of Weekly Shonen Jump with special FREE chapters

Shojo Manga Sale

  • So Cute It Hurts!! Digital Manga Sale

Kick off February’s promotion featuring an array of popular shojo manga series with So Cute It Hurts!! All volumes of the fan-favorite series will be on sale for only $4.99 per volume. Available through February 13th across all digital platforms.

jojosbizarreadventure-pt3-stardustcrusaders-gn02Check VIZ.com each week throughout the rest of February for additional shojo manga titles to be featured in this month’s digital sales!

Weekly Shonen Jump Free Chapter Previews

  • Explore a wide range of acclaimed manga series currently featured in the world’s most popular manga magazine – Weekly Shonen Jump! New additions for February include six new Jump Start series! Check out Hungry Marie by Ryuhei Tamura, Stone World written by Riichiro Inagaki with art by Boichi and Robot X Lazerbeam by Tadatoshi Fujimaki.

Catch Free Chapter highlights of a variety of popular Weekly Shonen Jump series.

Free chapters are available now for the following series:

  • Boruto
  • Dragon Ball Super
  • élDLive
  • HAIKYU!!
  • Hunter X Hunter
  • Seraph of the End
  • And more!

Digital manga updates for February include new volumes for 19 continuing VIZ Media series. Notable new releases this month include not-to-be-missed volumes for Assassination Classroom (Vol. 14), Black Clover (Vol. 5), Food Wars! (Vol. 16), One Piece (Vol. 81) and Ultraman (Vol. 7). New additions to ongoing shojo series include Kamisama Kiss (Vol. 23), Maid-Sama! 2-in-1 (Vol. 7), So Cute It Hurts!! (Vol. 11), and Yona of the Dawn (Vol. 4).

The free VIZ Manga App continues to be the top application for reading digital manga and features a massive library of the most popular series in the world. Through the innovative VIZ Manga digital platform registered users are able to use one account to view their purchased manga across more devices than ever. New series and volumes are added every Tuesday. Fans can also find these titles and more for the NOOK, Kindle Fire, and Kobo eReaders, as well as in the comiXology, iBooks and Google Play Stores.

Most manga volumes are available for purchase and download in the U.S. and Canada within the VIZ Manga application starting from only $4.99 (U.S. / CAN) each. Readers can also explore free Chapter 1 previews of most series.

Kodansha Digital Debut – Tokyo Tarareba Girls by Akiko Higashimura, Chihayafuru, and A Springtime with Ninjas launching on Valentine’s Day

kodanshacomics_logo_bubble_blktxtKodansha Comics continues its ramp-up of digital manga debuts for 2017 on February 14th with Tokyo Tarareba Girls, Akiko Higashimura’s hilarious follow-up to her best-selling Princess Jellyfish. Along with being one of the most requested titles in Kodansha Comics’s history, Princess Jellyfish was a regular on The New York Times Manga Best Seller list and was named by the New York Public Library as one of its “50 Best Books for Teens” and by Amazon as one of the “Best Comics and Graphic Novels of 2016.”

With Tokyo Tarareba Girls, Higashimura continues to sharpen her razor wit on the lives of young women in the big city, this time honing in on one single thirtysomething and her dystopian dating problems—”One day I woke up and I was 33”—just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Also going on sale February 14th is the long-awaited debut of Yuki Suetsugu’s Chiyahafuru, the story of adolescent lives and emotions playing out against the high drama of karuta—traditional Japanese card-playing. Chihayafuru, a long-running bestseller in Japan, was the basis of the surprise-hit anime of the same name that streamed on Crunchyroll.

Rounding out the trio of debuts on the 14th will be Narumi Hasegaki’s A Springtime with Ninjas, a shojo romantic comedy about one strong-willed rich girl and her “smoking-hot” ninja bodyguard!

The Valentine’s Day digital debuts round out Kodansha Comics’s entire month’s focus on shojo manga, with ongoing sales on select shojo titles every week throughout the month of February.

Review: Behind the Scenes Vol. 1

behind-the-scenes-vol-1Ranmaru Kurisu comes from a family of hardy, rough-and-tumble fisher folk, and he sticks out at home like a delicate, artistic sore thumb. It’s given him a raging inferiority complex and a permanently pessimistic outlook. Now that he’s in college, he’s hoping to find a sense of belonging. But after a whole life of being left out, does he even know how to fit in?!

It’s two months into Ranmaru’s college career, and if he’s learned one thing, it’s that he’s really uncomfortable around other people. But when he stumbles into a zombie mob attack, he’s forced out of his comfort zone in the most dramatic way possible! Of course, it’s just a movie shoot, but when he wakes up from his ignoble faint, he’s been whisked away behind the scenes with the Art Squad! Could this group of weirdoes be what Ranmaru’s been looking for all his life?!

So far, I’ve really enjoyed my dive into the world of manga, but sooner or later I had to come across a series or volume that just didn’t sit right with me, and Behind the Scenes Vol. 1 written by with art by Bisco Hatori is just that.

Reading the first volume I found a narrative that was packed with ideas and situations throwing in too much and creating a jumble of an experience where I found it difficult to figure out who was saying what at times. Not knowing who was talking was an issue, but the story itself bounces from situation to situation for an experience that is almost ADHD. Sit in a room where hundreds are talking and this is the narrative presented in this first volume.

The story itself is interesting as we learn more about the world Ranmaru has been thrown into. There’s some glimpses of an interesting story involving someone sabotaging the movie production, but that storyline is quickly resolved. And that’s the thing that sticks out to me. This volume clearly feels like short vignettes collected into one package as opposed to an ongoing narrative. Nothing lasts too long as if each chapter break is a shiny object to distract us.

Hatori’s art is at times fantastic and at other times WAY too much packed into a panel or page. I couldn’t tell what’s going on with some pages and like the dialogue, there’s just so much thrown in there and a lot of it isn’t clear as to what’s going on.

The concept of this manga really drew me in and I wanted to see what it was all about. But, after reading this first volume it’s not one I think I’ll be exploring much after this, especially when there’s so much more out there. If you really love the idea of a manga about stage crew, go for it, but a lack of focus hurts the overall story.

Story: Bisco Hatori Art: Bisco Hatori
Story: 4 Art: 5.4 Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass

VIZ Media Expands Digital Manga Offerings On Overdrive Reading Platform

onepunchman_gn01_coverVIZ Media has announced that it has expanded its relationship with the digital reading platform, OverDrive. An impressive collection of newly added digital manga titles by some of the genre’s most popular and renowned creators are now available at participating public and school libraries in the United States and Canada on the platform.

OverDrive is a leading digital reading platform, supplying the industry’s largest catalog of eBooks, audiobooks, streaming video and periodicals to 36,000 libraries, schools and retailers worldwide, including 90 percent of all public libraries in the U.S.

New VIZ Media / OverDrive series debuts for January 2017 include a genre-spanning collection of more than 48 titles, comprising over 650 volumes.

New VIZ Media /Overdrive manga series include:

  • Blue Exorcist
  • Dragon Ball
  • One-Punch Man
  • Tokyo Ghoul
  • JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure – Parts 1, 2, & 3
  • Rurouni Kenshin
  • My Love Story!!
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!

And scores more!

Additional manga titles will continue to be added throughout 2017.

Kodansha Comics Digital Debut – New Oima Series, Descending Stories and More!

toyoureternity_cover_ch_001Kodansha Comics kicks off 2017 with the digital debut on January 24th of Yoshitoki Oima’s newest manga serial, the spiritual fantasy To Your Eternity. Following the critically acclaimed A Silent Voice—which was nominated for an Eisner and named one of 2016’s “Great Graphic Novels for Teens” by the American Library Association—Oima goes in a completely new direction with this compelling tale of an abandoned native boy journeying alone in the frozen north with only a mysterious wolf for a companion.

The first 10 chapters of To Your Eternity will be available on January 24th as digital editions only on comiXology and Kindle. They are currently available for preorder. January 24th is the same day Chapter 10 appears in Japan; new chapters will follow every week in simultaneous timing thereafter. Chapters will be priced at 99 cents each.

Also going on sale January 24th is the new series by legendary manga artist Hiroaki Samura (Blade of the Immortal, Die Wergelder), Wave, Listen to Me! Something of a departure for the action-oriented Samura, Wave turns its attention to modern life in the big city, as a despondent young woman inadvertently finds herself the host of a hit talk-radio show.wavelistentome_001_cover

Rounding out the trio of debuts on the 24th will be Deathtopia, the latest gonzo thriller from Cage of Eden’s Yoshinobu Yamada, about a young man who gains supernatural powers from an accident but then finds himself embroiled with a serial killer with a disturbing fondness for eyeballs and a band of intriguing beauties in hot pursuit.

January also saw the digital release of Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, the surprise-hit drama about the art of traditional Japanese storytelling, whose anime Season 2 is currently simulcast on Crunchyroll. The print edition of Descending Stories had been previously announced for May 2017, but digital readers can jump into Volume 1 right now.

Volume 1s of Wave, Listen to Me! and Deathtopia are available January 24th across all Kodansha Comics digital book channels: BookWalker, comiXology, iBooks, Kindle, Kobo, and nook.

deathtopia_001_cover rakugo-shinju_001_cover

Berserk is Back!

berserk-vol-38After over three years of anticipation by fans, from creator Kentaro Miura comes Berserk Volume 38, a sprawling adult fantasy epic of fierce imagination!

On July 5, Guts the Black Swordsman and company will reach the isle of Skellig in hopes that elven magic can cure the afflicted Casca, but the cure could come at a deadly cost. Meanwhile, Guts’s Band of the Hawk comrade Rickert journeys to the city of Falconia, the seat of power for Griffith, the resurrected former Hawks commander. But the glittering towers of Falconia cast the darkest of shadows, and a legion of demonic monstrosities dwell in the darkness!

This is one of the most popular and longest-running seinen manga series ever published in North America, with over a million copies sold. Berserk has also recently reemerged on the New York Times best-selling manga list!

VIZ Media Invests In Anime Start-Up Company KITSU

kitsu-logoKitsu, a startup changing the way the community experiences anime, has announced that it has raised six hundred thousand dollars in a seed round between San Francisco, California-based entertainment company VIZ Media, LLC, and Manila, Philippines-based entrepreneur Bernard Chong. Kitsu will use these funds to build out its world-class content discovery platform at kitsu.io, led by Kitsu founder and CEO, Josh Fabian, who started the project under the Hummingbird name. Josh previously was Lead Designer, Groupon Stores, and Lead Designer, oBaz.

As part of the investment, Bernard Chong as well as Brad Woods, VIZ Media’s Chief Marketing Officer, will join the Kitsu board. VIZ Media’s Rob Pereyda, Vice President of Business Development, led the deal at the company and will serve as Senior Advisor.

Built atop the modern web frameworks Ruby on Rails and Ember, the Kitsu platform (formerly Hummingbird) will remain open-source and be available to other entrepreneurs to use to drive their own discovery and social capabilities. The seed round investment from Bernard Chong and VIZ Media coincides with a ground-up rewrite and redesign of the Kitsu platform, now placing a greater emphasis on the social component of a user’s experience.

While a key selling point of the platform for many users has been the functionality to track the anime and manga they’ve seen and are planning to see, “Version 3” of the platform heavily focuses on the social aspect, leveraging a robust machine learning engine to surface content users will be more likely to enjoy, including not just one-to-one, show-to-show recommendation pairings, but sophisticated taste-based content cohorts (interest clusters).

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