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Manga Before Flowers — March Manga Madness: Previews Version!

Okay, it’s probably been too long since I’ve done a previews pick post but honestly, previews are one of my favorite things about reading comics and being part of the whole Wednesday-crowd experience.  A good healthy list of manga titles I’d want to buy — even three or four months in the future — makes me happy.  Maybe there is something particularly fun about the way previews builds anticipation…and after all, if you’re disappointed with the actual product, well, every month there are new previews to keep you hooked occupied.

My pick of the month is Fumi Yoshinaga’s Flower of Life volume 4, published by DMP.  The long national nightmare of no new Yoshinaga manga will finally end.  FoL is pure joy as far as I’m concerned — as long as Yoshinaga is behind the wheel, high school seems like the place to be.  This would even be my pick of the year of we didn’t have Yoshinaga’s new series Ooku to look forward to in August.

CMX introduces Ballad of a Shingami — I’m not as big a fan of manga featuring death gods as a lot of folks I know, but I tend to like CMX manga and I’m more likely to try out one of their new titles than from almost any other publisher.

Bandai’s one offering for the month is also a fan favorite, the first volume of Lucky Star.  The few episodes of the anime I watched were sheer insanity and I can’t help wondering if this story even needs to be animated.  We’ll see how endless discussions about how exactly one should eat a chocolate-filled pastry play out on the printed page.

Del Rey’s has a much meatier line up — volume seven of the beautiful Mushishi, volume 3 of the cracked-out high school melodrama that is Papillon, and the second volume of everyone’s favorite suicidally-depressed teacher, Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei.

Tokyopop’s offerings are slim pickings this month, as I’m just going to order the re-solicted third and final volume of Jyu-Oh-Sei.  These volumes are over 300 pages and represent some of the best shojo sci-fi around.   I can’t recommend them highly enough.

As always, Viz offers an embarrassment of riches — even on an “off” month (the months they don’t offer my favorites NANA, Skip Beat, High School Debut, and Gin Tama) I can still find a ridiculous amount of titles worth ordering.  First up — a new entry into the Signature line with Daisuke Igarashi’s Children of the Sea.  I don’t know this artist or his work but the cover art is intriguing and Viz hasn’t gone wrong with this imprint yet.  The third volume of Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys is already being offered, but I think a fast release schedule will benefit this complex and intricately plotted tale.

Long running shonen favorites Bleach and One Piece have new volumes offered, and on the shojo side, Boys Over Flowers finally wraps up its monumental run.  We also get a new release of Ouran High School Host Club and Viz also introduces the first volume of the sequel to its supernatural shojo taleYurara, Rasetsu.  Since Rasetsu features my favorite character from Yurara, the cool and collected Yako, I’m quite excited to see what our young exorcist has been up to now that he’s on his own.

Finally, Viz also offers the first volume of Detroit Metal City.  It looks weird.  I’m so totally there.

Last but not least, Yen Pess finally releases some of its better on-going Yen Plus titles, including the first volume of Bamboo Blade (girls do kendo!) and Nabari No Ou (non-Naruto / kinda noir-ish ninjas!).  Yen Press also begins releasing the “Cotton Drifting” arc of Higurashi: When They Cry.  I’m curious to see how the arcs differ from each other — how do the creators tell the story differently in each arc?  There’s also been some chatter about the History of the West Wing, which appears to mix Chinese politics and romance.  Sounds good to me!

14 Comments

Yotsuba?

….

No Yotsuba.

Children of the Seaaaa~! Hooray, hooray. I’ve been looking forward to this ever since it was announced. I swear to god if someone had told me I’d see Igarashi Daisuke licensed any time this decade I’d have assumed they’d got their facts wrong.

Thanks for the Jyu-Oh-Sei recommendation – I’ve been pining for a sci-fi shoujo doorstopper (oddly specific pine, I know), and that looks just the thing.

Based off what I’ve watched of the Higurashi anime so far, it seems like they’re just completely rebooting the storyline and going in a completely different direction every arc. At least this is the pattern for the “Question” arcs. I haven’t gotten to watching the “answer” arcs yet.

They’re always going to have the same general cast of characters and Tomitake is always going to wind up dead, but the relationships between characters and the events leading up to and occurring after Tomitake’s death will change completely from arc to arc. For example, while the Abducted by Demons arc had some minor harem-ish overtones and focused mainly on paranoia as a storytelling device, the Cotton Drifting arc has a much more pronounced romantic plotline and makes the supernatural elements hinted at in the Abducted by Demons far more overt.

Thanks for bringing the series to my attention with your reviews, by the way. It’s not like it’s the greatest Horror manga I’ve ever read, but it is an entertaining diversion, and the sheer ballsiness of some of the shock scenes is always good to gawk at. I don’t know if it’s in the manga, but the first episode of the Cotton Drifting arc in the anime opens with one of the most absurdly violent non-sequiturs I’ve ever seen outside of the guro genre, and the rest of the plot doesn’t begin to follow up on or even attempt to acknowledge it.

Hey there,

Do you have any other recommendations? What is Bleach about? I’ve seen it around and my friends have read it but i still have no idea. I’m kinda lost here.

Danielle Leigh

March 17, 2009 at 3:51 am

MarkAndrew – September for Yotsuba. I can’t manufacture previews orders that haven’t been offered! ;-)

Danielle Leigh

March 17, 2009 at 3:52 am

Ellie — ohhh, glad to have another Jyu-Oh-Sei convert. I like the anime quite a bit as well, it’s very lush and engaging. Both versions are worth checking out.

Now I’m *really* curious about checking out Children of the Sea!

Danielle Leigh

March 17, 2009 at 3:55 am

hi Dave, I’m glad my reviews have helped! Your explanation is helpful as one of the thing that interests me the most is how the “tone” will change via the different arcs. The fact that characters/setting/basic set up doesn’t really change is fine with me, so long as there is something that makes each individual arc interesting (and changing up the story-telling techniques works for me).

Danielle Leigh

March 17, 2009 at 4:01 am

Theroto — I think of Bleach as a manga that would interest the superhero set, particularly people who like team books. Bleach is about a young man who can see ghosts, Ichigo — thanks to this “ability” he ends up accidentally taking over for a kind of death god/exorcist named Rukia. Rukia belongs to a “soul society” that is responsible for exorcising ghosts that have turned evil, i.e. haven’t moved on after death.

He kind of develops his own team of “superhero”-like individuals, who all have their own special talents to help him — in the first arc at least — save people from these hollows, which normal human beings can’t see.

[...] Leigh makes her picks from Previews in her latest Manga Before Flowers column at Comics Should Be [...]

I think I’m planning to buy everything you listed except for Lucky Star and the Yen Press titles, but I am kind of interested in Bamboo Blade, so that’s a possibility there.

What actually is Lucky Star about, anyways?

Danielle Leigh

March 17, 2009 at 5:47 am

hi Michelle! seriously, “Lucky Star,” as far as I can tell is a bunch of high schools girls having conversations about “nothing.” It is completely random and insane (i.e. how do you eat cake? Do you save the strawberry on top or do you eat it first? And this can go on and on….for half an hour. It is either really hilarious or really boring. I haven’t decided yet.)

Amusingly, even though I’ve listed all this great manga I’ll probably order half of it (and rely on the local library for the rest).

OMG Michelle I love Lucky Star more than life itself.

Well, that would seem to indicate I should check it out! :)

Michelle – I haven’t read the manga at all, just seen the anime. But I’m really looking forward to the manga coming out here. It’s a 4-koma.

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