April212014
Slightly Custom 30 Days of Manga Day SevenA manga you disliked enough to stop reading: Rosario + Vampire (Akihisa Ikeda)
It’s a bit shit, innit.
I had a real post where I tried to articulate what it was about Rosario + Vampire that didn’t work for me, talking about lazy harems, boring action and un-stimulating plotlines, but it was a half-arsed attempt at sounding mad about something I don’t have strong feelings about.
Some people like Rosario, and its “second season” of manga, but it just never clicked for me. It’s a rare thing that a comic I’ve bought is so dull for me that I never buy another volume, but Rosario has that distinction. So let’s applaud the boring, crappy thing, even if it isn’t as boring and crappy as I personally find it.

Slightly Custom 30 Days of Manga Day Seven
A manga you disliked enough to stop reading: Rosario + Vampire (Akihisa Ikeda)

  • It’s a bit shit, innit.
  • I had a real post where I tried to articulate what it was about Rosario + Vampire that didn’t work for me, talking about lazy harems, boring action and un-stimulating plotlines, but it was a half-arsed attempt at sounding mad about something I don’t have strong feelings about.
  • Some people like Rosario, and its “second season” of manga, but it just never clicked for me. It’s a rare thing that a comic I’ve bought is so dull for me that I never buy another volume, but Rosario has that distinction. So let’s applaud the boring, crappy thing, even if it isn’t as boring and crappy as I personally find it.
11PM

Slightly Custom 30 Days of Manga Day Six
My Favourite Character: Yui Nanasato (Koisome Momiji by Tadahiro Miura & Tsugirou Sakamoto)

  • Koisome Momiji was a surprisingly decent romance comic from Weekly Shonen Jump a few years ago that wasn’t good enough to live, and what elevated it in my esteem from decent cancelled comic to something I’ll remember forever was this character, the impeccably crafted Yui Nanasato.
  • Her design alone is inspiring, in how it provides a polar opposite to main love interest Sana Shinomiya. Sana is straight lines, long hair, a flatter chest. It’s all to create a straight line to her design. Yui is curves. Her hair is shorter and curves out, her hair is curvier, her eyes, eyebrows and mouth are all drawn on curves and have curves in them, and what’s more her figure is curvier. It’s intelligent design sense on a level far greater than anything you usually see from a comics creator, and credit really has to go to Miura on his work here.
  • Her character is just as well executed, and quite possibly one of the most beautifully tragic in Shonen Jump, at least without doing something horrendous to her. See, Yui was a quiet, reserved girl as a child, and had a huge crush on main character Shota, who reciprocated, but their young awkwardness prevented anything from occurring. So she changed. She cursed her old self and became much more outgoing, much more passionate, much more… erotic, really. She did all this to become someone the boy she liked would want to be with.
  • I can’t overstate that bit. What Nana did was outright alter who she was in such a core way, to the point of becoming a successful gravure idol, mostly down to the fact that she wanted Shota that badly. And, spoilers, it’s for naught. Shota liked her, loved her as she was. She didn’t need to change. And whilst that change didn’t alter what she means to Shota, he’s got a new love. It was just too late, and leads to the most heart-breaking, unsuccessful confession from Nana to Shota. It’s one of the most powerful scenes I’ve ever read in comics, and the panel above, of her hidden crying face, is burned into my mind as being one of the few comics panels that killed me, and it was all down to the weight of the moment. All of that effort, all of those feelings, everything she’s done to get close to the boy who means so much to her… It wasn’t enough. And she breaks. And we break.
  • She’s the best, and it’s that level of craft and skill that made her the best. A character might top her one day, but I can’t imagine it happening any time soon.

EDIT: OH YEAH I TOTALLY DID AN EPISODE ABOUT THIS COMIC WHERE I TALK ABOUT NANA AT GREATER LENGTH! CHECK IT OUT HERE

10PM
Slightly Custom 30 Days of Manga Day FiveA Manga You’d Recommend to Anyone: Buso Renkin (Nobuhiro Watsuki)
I’ve talked about Buso Renkin before at some length, but I feel like I can never articulate this one thing about it, the simple fact that it is the *ideal* manga to recommend to anyone, regardless of comics experience.
For beginners, Buso Renkin has the advantage of a wide scope of genre. It’s an action title at its core, but bleeds quite heavily into romance, comedy and slice-of-life. There’s something for a huge variety of tastes.
It’s also got the advantage of a (mostly) clean, easy to read style. Reading Japanese comics isn’t a picnic, particularly when considering things like the change in reading direction, and this level of clarity in the visuals does wonders for newcomers.  There’s only a few licensed titles I’d hold up as being this accomplished in such a regard.
And it’s JUST the right length, at that. Weekly manga have a horrible habit of being horrendously long, running around 6 volumes/1200 pages a year, give or take, and that stacks up with the more popular titles, which weighs on the wallet somewhat over time, more so if we’re talking a 5-10 year hit. Other manga are cancelled too quickly, batting about three volumes before being abruptly cancelled, the sort of thing that gives a title the worst ending, ruining whatever may have come before. Buso Renkin runs 10 volumes, and even though it was eventually cancelled , the ending was allowed to breathe across a few sizeable one-shots wrapping up the story in then-sister anthology Akamaru Jump. So what we get is a well-structured, three arc title that doesn’t break the bank. *Super* ideal.
But that’s just newbies, and there’s so much for more experienced readers, and that mostly comes from the extra pages included in each volume. Watsuki throws out three different types of background material in these; character profiles, with vital statistics and detailed breakdowns of what the author was trying to accomplish with their designs and personalities, weapon profiles, with… the same sort of deal, really. The third type is the most important though. Nobuhiro Watsuki presents, at the end of each volume, chapter by chapter notes about authorial intentions, creative decisions made, artistic difficulties (you’ll never believe a man can regret making a huge lance a protagonist’s weapon as much as he does), and so much more. It’s a one-of-a-kind look behind the curtain of a legendary creator, and helps make a scarcely above-average title into something crucial for most comics fans and newbies alike.

Slightly Custom 30 Days of Manga Day Five
A Manga You’d Recommend to Anyone: Buso Renkin (Nobuhiro Watsuki)

  • I’ve talked about Buso Renkin before at some length, but I feel like I can never articulate this one thing about it, the simple fact that it is the *ideal* manga to recommend to anyone, regardless of comics experience.
  • For beginners, Buso Renkin has the advantage of a wide scope of genre. It’s an action title at its core, but bleeds quite heavily into romance, comedy and slice-of-life. There’s something for a huge variety of tastes.
  • It’s also got the advantage of a (mostly) clean, easy to read style. Reading Japanese comics isn’t a picnic, particularly when considering things like the change in reading direction, and this level of clarity in the visuals does wonders for newcomers.  There’s only a few licensed titles I’d hold up as being this accomplished in such a regard.
  • And it’s JUST the right length, at that. Weekly manga have a horrible habit of being horrendously long, running around 6 volumes/1200 pages a year, give or take, and that stacks up with the more popular titles, which weighs on the wallet somewhat over time, more so if we’re talking a 5-10 year hit. Other manga are cancelled too quickly, batting about three volumes before being abruptly cancelled, the sort of thing that gives a title the worst ending, ruining whatever may have come before. Buso Renkin runs 10 volumes, and even though it was eventually cancelled , the ending was allowed to breathe across a few sizeable one-shots wrapping up the story in then-sister anthology Akamaru Jump. So what we get is a well-structured, three arc title that doesn’t break the bank. *Super* ideal.
  • But that’s just newbies, and there’s so much for more experienced readers, and that mostly comes from the extra pages included in each volume. Watsuki throws out three different types of background material in these; character profiles, with vital statistics and detailed breakdowns of what the author was trying to accomplish with their designs and personalities, weapon profiles, with… the same sort of deal, really. The third type is the most important though. Nobuhiro Watsuki presents, at the end of each volume, chapter by chapter notes about authorial intentions, creative decisions made, artistic difficulties (you’ll never believe a man can regret making a huge lance a protagonist’s weapon as much as he does), and so much more. It’s a one-of-a-kind look behind the curtain of a legendary creator, and helps make a scarcely above-average title into something crucial for most comics fans and newbies alike.
April172014

daveclarkeart:

A fanart piece I did for the manga series WaqWaq by Ryu Fujisaki.
Its a fun battle manga with really cool designs but also an oddly compelling bleak and dark undercurrent. It was an interesting challenge to try and communicate the designs into something more representational and less stylized. Also manga hair always looks kinda stupid when done realistically :P

It was recommended to me by my friend Maxy Barnard ( thedespondent ), who does a great podcast on manga series and their cultural impact. He even dedicated an episode to this series, http://friendshipeffortvictory.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/fev27/. Well worth a listen if you get the chance :)

April162014

Whoops

lost a couple posts of the 30 days of manga in a computer crash. Expect them in a few hours

April152014
Teppei Fukushima returns to print in Miracle Jump’s June issue, with the new title Amaryllis, and Jesus look how pretty that it. So effin’ pretty.
For those who don’t know, Teppei Fukushima is Jump’s best kept secret, a phenomenal talent with only one middling-to-successful serialisation to their name, Samurai Usagi. In the time since, they’ve published a pile of tidy one-shots that I rate up their with the very best, and a small story for Jumps mobile app Jump LIVE.
This return to doing something a bit more substantial is super welcome, and will get me to at least try that issue of Miracle Jump when it comes out.

Teppei Fukushima returns to print in Miracle Jump’s June issue, with the new title Amaryllis, and Jesus look how pretty that it. So effin’ pretty.

For those who don’t know, Teppei Fukushima is Jump’s best kept secret, a phenomenal talent with only one middling-to-successful serialisation to their name, Samurai Usagi. In the time since, they’ve published a pile of tidy one-shots that I rate up their with the very best, and a small story for Jumps mobile app Jump LIVE.

This return to doing something a bit more substantial is super welcome, and will get me to at least try that issue of Miracle Jump when it comes out.

April142014
Slightly Custom 30 Days of Manga Day FourA character you feel you are most like (or wish you were): Manabu Yukimitsu (Eyeshield 21)
Anything less would be egotistical. Yukimitsu is a weak, fragile, untalented player for the Deimon Devil Bats, the star team of Riichiro Inagaki and Yusuke Murata’s Eyeshield 21. He’s almost entirely terrible, statistically speaking, and the clear weak link of the team.
Despite all this, Yukimitsu gets by through sheer will, and that makes him valuable in his own right. As long as he kept trying, he could accomplish something, even if it was just becoming a black sheep reserve player. And in the end he pulled off something spectacular in one of the most important games of the series.
I don’t know if I’d say I’m most like him (outside of my self-deprecating sense of a lack of talent or skill), but I almost definitely wish I were more like him. There’s something brilliant in the characterisation of Yukimitsu, that unstoppable want to do more and be more in the face of endless faiure to actually be good enough, that unending will to just… Continue… I’d love to be that strong a person.
…. I’m glad to not have his characteristic receding hairline though. That I can do without.
 

Slightly Custom 30 Days of Manga Day Four
A character you feel you are most like (or wish you were): Manabu Yukimitsu (Eyeshield 21)

  • Anything less would be egotistical. Yukimitsu is a weak, fragile, untalented player for the Deimon Devil Bats, the star team of Riichiro Inagaki and Yusuke Murata’s Eyeshield 21. He’s almost entirely terrible, statistically speaking, and the clear weak link of the team.
  • Despite all this, Yukimitsu gets by through sheer will, and that makes him valuable in his own right. As long as he kept trying, he could accomplish something, even if it was just becoming a black sheep reserve player. And in the end he pulled off something spectacular in one of the most important games of the series.
  • I don’t know if I’d say I’m most like him (outside of my self-deprecating sense of a lack of talent or skill), but I almost definitely wish I were more like him. There’s something brilliant in the characterisation of Yukimitsu, that unstoppable want to do more and be more in the face of endless faiure to actually be good enough, that unending will to just… Continue… I’d love to be that strong a person.
  • …. I’m glad to not have his characteristic receding hairline though. That I can do without.

 

April132014
Slightly Custom 30 Days of Manga Day ThreeMy Favourite Creator: Masanori Morita
Choosing a favourite creator for this was like the hardest thing. It’s like picking your favourite anything, in that you are a fluid human being whose opinions are affected by time, changes in taste, changes in the thing itself, so on and so forth. So I reserve all rights to totally backtrack from this choice if Morita turns out to be a huge arsehole or something.
That said, Masanori Morita is currently, at this moment in time, one of my favourite creators. His work, particularly on ROOKIES and Beshari Gurashi, has been some of the most interesting to read, and eye-blisteringly beautiful to look at over my entire decade spent reading comics. There’s something to his style, his use of weird, pouty expressions, his carefully crafted delinquents and high levels of detail that just means I can stare at his work for hours on end.
His character work’s great as well, even as far back as Good-for-nothing BLUES (Rokudenashi BLUES to some), which considering that title was basically about a really stupid thug is really saying something, but in Morita’s typical approach to characters, especially his delinquents, he’s able to show that everyone, no matter how one-note they may seem, have several layers to their personality that makes you care deeply about them.
ROOKIES is best for this. It’s an ensemble book, with the majority of perspective coming from an outider, the new baseball coach and teacher Koichi Kawato. So what we get is a look at what appears to be a team full of abrasive arseholes, as it would appear to an outsider, but as time passes and Koichi gets close to his team, and helps them with various problems, he learns that all of them are special, full of personality, and far more than their reputation would dictate. It’s something hard to pull off, but Morita does this with aplomb, and few other creators can claim to do the same.
If you’ve not read any Morita before, I recommend ROOKIES above all, but his other Jump titles are excellent in their own right, BLUES showing a rougher, fresher creator, and Beshari Gurashi showing a more mature Morita, telling immature jokes. No, for real it’s a drama about stand-up comedy, and a lot of the jokes are brilliantly immature. Some aren’t, but are funny all the same. I love it.

Slightly Custom 30 Days of Manga Day Three
My Favourite Creator: Masanori Morita

  • Choosing a favourite creator for this was like the hardest thing. It’s like picking your favourite anything, in that you are a fluid human being whose opinions are affected by time, changes in taste, changes in the thing itself, so on and so forth. So I reserve all rights to totally backtrack from this choice if Morita turns out to be a huge arsehole or something.
  • That said, Masanori Morita is currently, at this moment in time, one of my favourite creators. His work, particularly on ROOKIES and Beshari Gurashi, has been some of the most interesting to read, and eye-blisteringly beautiful to look at over my entire decade spent reading comics. There’s something to his style, his use of weird, pouty expressions, his carefully crafted delinquents and high levels of detail that just means I can stare at his work for hours on end.
  • His character work’s great as well, even as far back as Good-for-nothing BLUES (Rokudenashi BLUES to some), which considering that title was basically about a really stupid thug is really saying something, but in Morita’s typical approach to characters, especially his delinquents, he’s able to show that everyone, no matter how one-note they may seem, have several layers to their personality that makes you care deeply about them.
  • ROOKIES is best for this. It’s an ensemble book, with the majority of perspective coming from an outider, the new baseball coach and teacher Koichi Kawato. So what we get is a look at what appears to be a team full of abrasive arseholes, as it would appear to an outsider, but as time passes and Koichi gets close to his team, and helps them with various problems, he learns that all of them are special, full of personality, and far more than their reputation would dictate. It’s something hard to pull off, but Morita does this with aplomb, and few other creators can claim to do the same.
  • If you’ve not read any Morita before, I recommend ROOKIES above all, but his other Jump titles are excellent in their own right, BLUES showing a rougher, fresher creator, and Beshari Gurashi showing a more mature Morita, telling immature jokes. No, for real it’s a drama about stand-up comedy, and a lot of the jokes are brilliantly immature. Some aren’t, but are funny all the same. I love it.
April122014
Slightly Custom 30 Days of Manga Day Two:My Favourite Manga: Our Transformations (Fumiko Fumi)
As I’m sure anyone who knows me is aware at this point, I’m more than a little bit obsessed with gender and all its surrounding… things. I’m not the most articulate at talking about it, and heck knows I haven’t a clue what’s going on with my own one, but series like this, series this accomplished, are absolutely flawless in the way they approach the topic.
This is basically a title about three male-born characters who either dress or identify as women, each for their own unique reason, and that alone is enough to intrigue, providing three different approaches to the same fundamental action, and whilst they might lean towards weird drama a bit too often (one characters motivation for dressing up as a girl is, uh… Well, SPOILERS, it’s to dress up as his deceased sister, seemingly to placate the misery of his grieving mother. A bit over the top, but captivating all the same) they are almost certainly excellent, well-formed motivations for the sort of decent representation so rarely seen in comics.
That’s only the surface though. As the story has gone on into the latest couple of volumes it’s become clear that this trio may not be the only characters whose gender identities might be getting dealt with over the title, and that’s EXCELLENT, more than anything because there is a slight need for different direction than just mtf, no matter how uh relevant that particular type of identity confusion may be to me.
Our Transformations is bloody gorgeous, as well. Even in its darkest moments (and holy crap this gets dark) this comic is sheer joy to gaze at. It’s so well laid-out, and presented with such clarity and beauty that it boggles the mind. And again, on more than a few occasions you can’t help but see the influences of legends like Tezuka (particularly his more psychological works) on the book’s art.
It is the best. Super important, too. But it being the best, being my favourite even, is what matter here.

Slightly Custom 30 Days of Manga Day Two:
My Favourite Manga: Our Transformations (Fumiko Fumi)

  • As I’m sure anyone who knows me is aware at this point, I’m more than a little bit obsessed with gender and all its surrounding… things. I’m not the most articulate at talking about it, and heck knows I haven’t a clue what’s going on with my own one, but series like this, series this accomplished, are absolutely flawless in the way they approach the topic.
  • This is basically a title about three male-born characters who either dress or identify as women, each for their own unique reason, and that alone is enough to intrigue, providing three different approaches to the same fundamental action, and whilst they might lean towards weird drama a bit too often (one characters motivation for dressing up as a girl is, uh… Well, SPOILERS, it’s to dress up as his deceased sister, seemingly to placate the misery of his grieving mother. A bit over the top, but captivating all the same) they are almost certainly excellent, well-formed motivations for the sort of decent representation so rarely seen in comics.
  • That’s only the surface though. As the story has gone on into the latest couple of volumes it’s become clear that this trio may not be the only characters whose gender identities might be getting dealt with over the title, and that’s EXCELLENT, more than anything because there is a slight need for different direction than just mtf, no matter how uh relevant that particular type of identity confusion may be to me.
  • Our Transformations is bloody gorgeous, as well. Even in its darkest moments (and holy crap this gets dark) this comic is sheer joy to gaze at. It’s so well laid-out, and presented with such clarity and beauty that it boggles the mind. And again, on more than a few occasions you can’t help but see the influences of legends like Tezuka (particularly his more psychological works) on the book’s art.
  • It is the best. Super important, too. But it being the best, being my favourite even, is what matter here.
April112014

Anonymous asked: In that "Slightly Custom 30 Days of Manga Day One" you did you said "Takei successfully managed to have at least three core characters lose their virginity off-panel", I understand that you meant Anna and Yoh but who is the third character? I MUST KNOW, how would I miss such a thing ugh? I've read Shaman King so many times :(

The other character was Horohoro! He has his own special little side-story in volume 11 where he meets the park ranger, Bluebell. That story basically wraps up with her holding him and it cutting to him meeting up with the gang again where he totally mirrors the scene following Yoh and Anna’s night together back in volume 9 (though of course for Horohoro it’s too obvious a change in personality to be all relaxed and pretending to be mature, so Ren beats him up, but still).

It’s thin, to be sure, but the parallel  between the two moments has always left me believing it’s the case.

(I should really provide pictures, but I stay away from scans and my own collection is in an attic a couple miles away. Which makes my recall of all this a bit terrifying)

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