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Manga Before Flowers — 10 Happy-Making Things

The last few weeks, I’ve been sadly AWOL from the blog, so in order to remind myself why I love anime and manga I’m stealing a page from OtakuUSA and doubling their usual “Otaku Top 5″ for a list of 10 manga and anime-related things that have brightened my day recently. Feel free to list your top 5 picks as well….

1. Flower of Life vol 4 has been scheduled for release. Yeah, I’ve already link-blogged this, but my love of Fumi Yoshinaga has no shame. I might just mention this once a week until DMP actually delivers on the book mid-2009. I’m obsessive that way.

2. Skip Beat! has an anime. No, I haven’t watched it, it could be crap. (The mangaka’s designs don’t scream “Animate me!” to be honest). It just makes me very happy to know that such a thing exists. Also, people need to get over the first chapter of Skip Beat and realize 30 pages of a girl acting like a doormat is nothing compared to 19+ volumes of a girl being so completely AWESOME. Seriously, Kyoko will own your soul if you give her even the smallest chance. Generally speaking, Skip Beat! is always on my list of things that make me happy so its recent anime-status just makes gives me the excuse to talk about one of my top five shojo manga of all time.

3. Papillon vol 1, released by Del Rey. It’s so completely over-the-top — twins! Perverted guidance counselor! Enormously stupid, easily-manipulated love interest! Your physical qualities will define your entire life! I mean what else can you expect from the creator of Peach Girl. In spite of all that, Papillon reminds me why melodramatic shojo can be a true guilty pleasure.

4. Pluto vol 1, to be published by Viz. Urasawa, who is pure awesome, takes one of Tezuka’s playthings out for a one helluva test drive. I have no idea what the actual manga is about — only that it is connected to Tezuka’s Astroboy– but I’m sold on the whole thing because 1) Urasawa. and 2) the cover art for volume one is pretty much the best thing ever.

5. Ouran Host Club Animated Series part 1 will finally be released in two weeks. I feel like I’ve been waiting forever on this (seriously, Funimation, two years is two years too long for this show). While the manga is certainly good, I think the story is benefited greatly by being animated. Also I’m really curious about the English dub…it could be pretty great or hilariously awful. Either way, the show will be hilarous.

6. Shonen Ai Harem manga! Tokyopop’s releases of Silver Diamond and Kyo Kara Maoh! are pretty damned awesome (color pages! Great translation! Great paper / ink quality!) Other than sharing a genre, these manga are pretty different but both are great reads and make me just generally happy that manga continues to be my primary playground.

7. Go! Comi. Go! Comi is always a friend as far as I’m concerned but they’ve recently brought out some fantastic volumes of series that were only just *good* before and now have improved to damn near “great” series. (Expect some discussion about recent twists & turns in flagship Go! Comi series Black Sun, Silver Moon and Her Majesty’s Dog very, very soon).

8. Future Lovers published by Deux Press. Future Lovers itself is certainly a very good volume of yaoi, but more significantly it is the first time Saika Kunieda’s work has been published in English. She’s pretty much up there with Fumi Yoshinaga as far as I’m concerned, so consider this high praise indeed from this Yoshinaga-lover. Future Lovers is a fairly strong piece of yaoi, even though its strength is simply in the fact its characters are very believable and it maintains fairly realistic depictions of gay identity and relationships. Then there’s the funny, which helps things along quite a bit. I really hope we eventually see the second volume of this series and more of Kunieda’s work in the future.

9. Solanin published by Viz. Viz publishing Josei? Awesome. Viz publish Josei in a done-in-one-prestige-edition? Really freakin’ awesome. Sadly, Diamond didn’t ship this to my store last week and it isn’t scheduled to arrive this week either. I’ll keep the faith, though, and look forward to the day I can buy this from my local comic book shop.

10. Melinda Beasi’s blog, particularly its focus on her recent NANA obsession. Melinda does lovely posts explaining why some of my favorite manga series — Banana Fish, NANA, xxxholic — should also be everyone’s favorite manga series. Also, I’m envious of her use of images / scans, which I would like to incorporate into my own blogging but get overwhelmed by my own ambition. It is quite lovely to see just the right amount of ambition pay off in blogging and Melinda’s recent NANA spree is really a thing of joy to behold.


Wow, this really made my day. Such kind words! Thank you!

Glad to see Manga Before Flowers back, I’ve missed in the last month-ish. You always make me want to read some more of the obscure-ish titles, although I am probably buying too many manga and comic books as they come out to add on series. You do make me want to start up Skip Beat. If I ever see the first volume or a run at a good bargain price I will definitely be picking it up.

Pluto’s a retelling of one of the most famous Astro Boy story arcs (“The Strongest Robot On Earth”) in a darker, murder-mystery style, and it is very good. Urasawa also does a great job of keeping the Astro Boy characters as themselves despite the more serious and realistic tone of the story — I especially like his Uran.

I’ll admit reworking a kid’s story as a grim adult’s one is rather like what’s wrong with a lot of superhero comics (and I could name a couple of small strained points in the approach), but it’s Urasawa and it’s a definite one-off.

[…] [Commentary] Melinda Beasi explains why Ai Yazawa’s Nana is so fucking awesome. (Above: sequence from the first volume of the series, ©1999 Yazawa Manga Seisakusho. Link via Danielle Leigh.) […]

[…] Leigh looks on the bright side with a list of ten manga and anime things that make her happy in her Manga Before Flowers column at Comics Should be […]

Grico — I know, I kept thinking, ohmygod, this whole post is just so damn consumerist!!!! (Particularly know that the American economy is in the toilet….and I just can’t help myself I suppose share the love of objects sometimes…that is also why I included a link to “free” enjoyment as well, Melinda’s blog).

Melinda — hee. Got you linkblogged via journalista. I now officially rock as your cheerleader!

James — thanks for the kind explanation. I would probably buy this no matter what it is about but going into the experience with knowledge will probably help out greatly.

The first episode of the Skip-Beat anime seemed to live up to the manga pretty well; it gets far enough into the story to cover Kyoko’s transformation, so anyone watching it will have a sense of what the series is really like (which was a problem with Shojo Beat’s preview of the manga). One advantage to animating it is that we finally get to see the bright pink LMU uniforms in color; the manga tries to convey how horrifying they are through peoples’ reactions, but it just doesn’t come through as well in B&W. (I am concerned that unless they’re planning to run this for a year or more, it’s going to be another of those series where they have to either make up an ending or find a good stopping point without resolving anything.)

Go, Melinda! :)

I’ve been under the impression that solanin is seinen, since it ran in Young Sunday. The blogging community seems fairly split on that, it seems.

hi Doug — yeah, that Shojo beat preview did a lot more harm than good *sigh* One thing I have seen for the anime is the opening which looks very…well. Serviceable. Which kind of makes me sad. I don’t like to use that word in relation to Skip Beat at all! As for the scary possibility of filler….we have to hope it never comes to that *shudder* Luckily there are at least 19 volumes of story to work with so we have to hope that will be enough. I just can’t imagine the series ending anytime soon, though,….Ren & Kyoko have a long way to go!

Jun– whoops! I didn’t even consider that…oh well. We need more josei so I’ll just call it that, even if the sensibility of the manga is actually seinen (and I suspect it is, as that was the vibe I got when I thumbed through it yesterday at my indie bookstore)

Maybe we just need to make up a category called “manga for grown-ups” and leave it at that. :)

I now officially rock as your cheerleader!

You really do! :D Between you and Michelle, I’m all a-squee!

Danielle–I think there’s a trailer that’s making the rounds as well, which shows some clips from the actual story portion of the show and lets you hear Kyoko’s voice in both normal and psycho modes. My worry isn’t so much filler as that they’d only let it run to 26 episodes, which wouldn’t get nearly enough of the story in. (NANA wasn’t able to reach any real resolution in 47, but at least they found a decent pausing point.)

Oh, and I got my Ouran DVDs from Right Stuf today…(The official street date according to Amazon is the 28th, but this isn’t the first time TRSI has gotten something to me well in advance.)

Doug. OH I’M SO JEALOUS RIGHT NOW. You must report back about the english dub….very, very curious about this.

We’ll see about the 26 episodes issue…they won’t confirm episode length right now, so I assume they will look at ratings and decide.

Your list is full of Good Things.

-the Skip Beat anime? first episode looks like it could be a good series. The seiyuu for all three leads are utterly utterly perfect, esp Ren which is going to be critical for this. I am looking forward to the next episode and this actually getting licensed in the near future. [seriously, I’m surprised it hasn’t been already]

-more Miyamoto Kano getting published. I rate her up with Fumi Yoshinaga and Saika Kunieda. In fact Deux are impressing me with their licensing decisions- they are picking good titles but not the enormously long series that could cause them to over-commit.

– I’ve recently started reading The Young Magician solely based on the recommendation of Lianne from Sleep is for the Weak. I can’t get over how GOOD it is. The first couple of vols are *good* but then you hit 3 and the awesome goes exponential. Yet Another CMX title that needs more love.

You really do! Between you and Michelle, I’m all a-squee!

Hooray for a-squee usage!

Hooray for a-squee usage!

I thought you’d like that. :D

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