Category Archives: Manga Monday

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).

Review: Haikui!! Vol. 1

haikyu-vol-1Ever since he saw the legendary player known as “the Little Giant” compete at the national volleyball finals, Shoyo Hinata has been aiming to be the best volleyball player ever! Who says you need to be tall to play volleyball when you can jump higher than anyone else?

After losing his first and last volleyball match against Tobio Kageyama, “the King of the Court,” Shoyo Hinata swears to become his rival after graduating middle school. But, what happens when the guy he wants to defeat ends up being his teammate?!

Just like Shoyo Hinata I’m not the tallest, in fact I’m pretty short at 5’6″. I also love playing volleyball and have fond memories playing it during the summer with friends even briefly considering attempting to join a team. All of that had me excited to check out Haruichi Furudate‘s volleyball manga Haikyu!!. And, I was pleasantly surprised as to what I found.

The manga begins setting up the Shoyo/Tobio dynamic as the two face off in a tournament in middle school. The story is a bit choppy which made it a little hard to follow but the flow felt a little like the beginning of a film setting up the main story to come. But, once that main story starts going it’s really good and not at all what I expected.

I didn’t read the blurb of the manga so seeing the story actually being about these “rivals” having to work together is a chance. I went in expecting an action filled manga filled with action scenes of matches, imagine the end of the first Karate Kid with all of the different matches, but volleyball. But no, the story really is about two people having to work together and get along, not the actual matches and action.

There’s something that feels very “Japanese” about the story as it is about stamping out individualism, working as a team, and falling in line with leadership, all characteristics I’ve come across in my dealing with the corporate culture.

The art by Furudate is fantastic. Even when characters are arguing and not playing there’s something that’s captivating about it and what I really enjoyed is that Furudate makes sure to emphasize how much smaller Shoyo is compared to everyone else. It’s an important part of the story and the art reiterates that.

If you like volleyball, this is one to check out and shows there’s manga for everyone. It’s not the action filled focus I expected, instead, its heart is about what it takes to create a team.

Story: Haruichi Furudate Art: Haruichi Furudate
Story: 7.95 Art: 8.05 Overall: 7.95 Recommendation: Read

Review: One Punch-Man Vol. 1

one-punch-man-vol-1_cA manga series that packs quite the punch!

Nothing about Saitama passes the eyeball test when it comes to superheroes, from his lifeless expression to his bald head to his unimpressive physique. However, this average-looking guy has a not-so-average problem—he just can’t seem to find an opponent strong enough to take on! Every time a promising villain appears, he beats the snot out of ’em with one punch! Can Saitama finally find an opponent who can go toe-to-toe with him and give his life some meaning? Or is he doomed to a life of superpowered boredom?

From the web to the printed page (and to the screen in an anime) One and Yusuke Murata‘s One Punch-Man definitely delivers a punch in this first volume. For a while now I’ve heard about this manga series and hadn’t taken a look, so it felt like a smart idea to dive into the first volume for a “Manga Monday” review.

I honestly knew very little going in other than it stars a bald-headed character that packs a punch. And after finishing the first volume, I’m not sure there’s a lot more than that. One Punch-Man feels like it has a goal to spoof Western superhero comics and over the top manga. The character literally just walks up to the enemy and punches him.

It’s pretty straight forward, yet there’s still something deeper that can be debated about the series. Is it really about a search for purpose? For challenge? For satisfaction? Or is it just about punching things? It’s hard to say if the series gets much deeper than this since I just read the first volume, but on the surface, it’s not too deep… but could be.

There is a choppy flow to the manga which I wasn’t too keen on. I’m not sure how much of that was the original writing and how much is the translation by John Werry. It’s been years since I could read Japanese, so can’t really say, but it’d be interesting to see how the flow of the narrative differs between the Japanese and English dialogue.

Murata’s art is dynamic though. For as sparse as the dialogue is at times, the art speaks for the story. The power of the punch, the flow of what’s going on, it’s all there in the art. There’s sections where the comic is silent it feels like, but the story of the battle is still conveyed.

The first volume is interesting and I can see the appeal of the manga. There’s a goofy simplicity and innocence to it all that’s entertaining and fun. It’s a quick read, though you’ll linger staring at the art, and most importantly it’s entertaining and has me wanting to check out more.

Story: One Art: Yusuke Murata
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Viz Media provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: School Judgement Vol. 1, Gakkyu Hotei

school-judgement-vol-1-gakkyu-hoteiAt Tenbin Elementary, there is only one way to settle a dispute – in a court of law! All quarrels bypass the teachers and are settled by some of the best lawyers in the country… who also happen to be elementary school students.

The accused this time is a boy named Tento. His crime? The murder of a beloved member of the classroom! Luckily for him, the state has sent him a defense attorney – Abaku Inugami. But is this wild young lawyer skilled enough to ronpa his client off the hook?

Kids acting like lawyers? The concept might sound bizarre, but the manga works for so many reasons and I found myself wanting more immediately when I finished this first volume. Thankfully there’s a few more already released for me to dive into.

Written by Nobuaki Emoki, School Judgement: Gakkyu Hotei takes mock-trial to a whole new level with what feels like real stakes, but what could be a serious tone has enough weird thrown in (baby judges!) to get you to smile and laugh. Emoki has put together what feels like a real world with a set of rules and a system of how to deal with everything that feels fleshed out and has had some real thought put into it.

The dealing with witnesses and gathering of evidence feels like it’s out of Sherlock Holmes, but the excitement amps up every time as scenes, like witnesses on the stand, feel like a battle is being waged. The manga has visuals worthy of any “battle” comic out there, except in this case it’s a battle with evidence and through words.

That excitement and battle sense is due to artist Takeshi Obata‘s work which just looks amazing. There’s an energy and excitement about the entire comic and the panels that I found myself really enjoying the series. And the infusion of style by Obata had me actually contemplating cosplaying as Abaku Inugami by the time I got to the end of the first volume.

And thankfully there’s more to come! More ronpa, more mystery, more manga please! No excuse me while I figure out how to get my hair right…

Story: Nobuaki Emoki Art: Takeshi Obata
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Viz Media provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review