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CSBG Archive

Say It With Manga, 11/29/12

Hello and welcome to Say It With Manga, where I’ll be talking about a handful of manga in brief every week. I’ll read just about anything, and here I’ll be discussing it by genre.  The genres should shift every week, although it’s likely that action and romance will make frequent appearances, as there are many fine series that fall into those categories.



ACTION: Tenjo Tenge – Oh! great?
There are plenty of people that hate Tenjo Tenge, and for good reason.  The first few volumes are rough, and it’s difficult to believe it gets good after it sets up a fairly un-interesting school fighting story, then puts two female characters in compromising/rape-y situations.  But the best thing about Tenjo Tenge is that it’s clear, once Oh! great has gotten past the part where he lures readers in with enormous breasts and constant action, that he has a very clearly defined direction for the story.  It’s obvious from the first flashback sequence that the story is going somewhere, and Tenjo Tenge is destined for more than just a 22-volume fighting tournament.  Granted, it’s not the most original story in the world, but the plot concerning the characters reconciling the past and present, the hierarchy of well-respected fighters, and the eventual bizarre outcome of a bad guy trying to take over the world with an army of supernatural fighters all works well in this series.  It helps that Oh! great has very nice-looking art and knows how to draw an action scene. The Viz edition has just caught up to where CMX left off in English, so readers will be treated to the last four volumes after a wait of three years.


ROMANCE: 13th Boy – SangEun Lee
Admittedly, I am a romance manga junkie, and easy to please.  It’s difficult to explain the appeal to a general audience, but I think for me it’s the fact that there wasn’t really an English equivalent when manga companies started releasing them here, and I simply kept reading them.  13th Boy isn’t technically a manga, as it is Korean, but it’s close enough, and it’s a fine example of a romance comic.  Hee-So is a young girl who is addicted to having a boyfriend, and has gone through more than a dozen before she’s entered high school.  13th Boy begins when she asks out her 12th boyfriend, and then is reunited with her first, who is still one of her favorites.  And then we find out the first boyfriend is a sullen boy who has some sort of wish-granting magical power that has no place in the otherwise reality-based series.  Also, Hee-So has a talking cactus that lives with her, and transforms into a human boy during the full moon.  It’s fairly straight-faced about its fantasy elements, and weaves them into the narrative beautifully.  Otherwise, it’s a perfect balance of funny and very individual characters (very important!), a love story with ups and downs, and just friendship in general.  It’s a good general audiences book, as it is fairly safe for tween-ish readers, too.


SPORTS: Slam Dunk – Takehiko Inoue

The better Takehiko Inoue series is Real.  Real is fantastic, but Slam Dunk is the one I read this week.  I should preface this by saying that I have zero interest in basketball, and my only experience with the sport is watching a handful of games in high school.  Somehow, Slam Dunk is still ridiculously addictive, despite being about nothing but basketball on every page.  Perhaps it’s because it’s a relatively simple story about the main character, Hanamichi Sakuragi, and his hilarious selfish desire to be the best player on his team and win the championship.  Perhaps it’s because the characters are a perfect balance of quirky and dead serious about the sport.  And maybe it’s because Inoue has a God-like ability to make the basketball games come to life on the page.  Whatever it is, I can’t put it down, and it feels like a volume takes about three minutes to read.  Fun fact: They don’t actually play a game until volume 4, and they only play 3-4 games over the course of the 31-volume series.  They are very long games.


Oh Great is the perfect example of an artist who shouldn’t write ever.

“And maybe it’s because Inoue has a God-like ability to make the basketball games come to life on the page. ”
Which he did by tracing some panels. He’s still a fantastic artist though, I just wish I actually enjoyed any of his work as much as others seem to.

Love Slamdunk. I have the 31 volumes in Spanish. It’s my second favorite manga ( being Rurouni Kenshin #1). It’s sad that it doesn’t sell too many copies here. It was cancelled once and now Viz Media is trying to realize the whole series. Basketball is huge here, so I don’t understand why people don’t buy this, but I could be that the same people who love the sport a lot, don’t buy mangas or don’t really appreciate this series.

good start for the article! looking forward to more. I’ll probably check out Tenjo Tenge, because it would hardly be the first manga full of gratuitous T&A and uncomfortable rape-y subtext, and that can be tuned out if there is indeed a good story.

“he has a very clearly defined direction for the story.”

Did we read the same manga. For me Oh Great! is the worst example of planning; he is an excelent artist, probably in the top 10 easily of current mangaka, but his plots unravel and lose all cohesion, becoming a muddle of interesting but nonsensical ideas. Air Gear had the same problem.

Even if the first flashback arc for TT was probably the high point and was exciting on it’s own, it has flashbacks inside flashbacks inside flashbacks; that should tell you how wrong it can go. And then we get the other flashback arcs later that suffer from it even worse. And what about the flashforward that didn’t go anywhere?

The best thing I can say about his stories is that at least they finish, unlike others that went on hiatus or had problems of other kind. But he really needs someone else to plot or script his ideas.

“Which he did by tracing some panels.”

Hang on, when? I remember some years back another manga artist got caught tracing some Slam Dunk panels, but this is the first I’ve heard of Inoue doing it.

I don’t considered that tracing. Those moves are normal when you play Basketball. I used to play when I was in high school and those moves were part of the basic things. I consider it a tribute to the players who are in those pictures.

Artists do need to reference things from time to time, which is what he seems to have done in those examples. It’s different from tracing.

Yeah, I’d have to agree with those images. Most manga artists do use their own photos for reference, but I can see how that wouldn’t produce desirable results in the case of Slam Dunk. You just can’t get those kind of action shots unless it’s a professional game and professional photography, and you’d need that for the kind of dynamic art that he’s got in that series. And he definitely didn’t trace them, which is where I’ve seen a handful of artists get in trouble over the years.

Also, re: Tenjo Tenge – I feel like I’d have to go on for a long time to explain why I like Tenjo Tenge despite some of its flaws. Yes, there’s a two volume flashback that was just covered in the Viz edition that was absolutely wretched, and the handful of volumes before that were only okay, but did introduce an interesting concept for the villain and main character. But the flashback that starts the series is really amazing, and that goes on for about 8 or so volumes. Oh! great’s art is also some of the best you’ll see in an action manga, which means that almost all his fight scenes are fantastic. Volume 2 is an entire volume where all the characters fight in a bowling alley, and it’s awesome. Maya has the best fight in the series right before that awful ancient Japan flashback, and Sugano has the second-best right after it. It’s plot is never more than okay, but it also never tries to be about anything but the fighting, which is its strongest point.

[…] on Thursday evening every week.  The first column went up last week, and you can read it here.  I didn’t post entries here last week, but often the column will probably coincide with […]

I don’t think I’ll be persuaded to touch anything by Oh Great, after the bizarre experience of trying to read Air Gear. Oh Great is really good at drawing, but his writing is awful. What a poor, senseless storyline! What a mess!

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