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Welcome to another Manga in Minutes! No new license announcements this week, though there are several interesting bits of news to be had.
Not every week can be full of exciting license announcements, but every week does have a Manga in Minutes review…
Attack on Titan: Before the Fall, Vol. 1
Art by Satoshi Shiji, Story by Ryo Suzukaze, “Attack on Titan” created by Hajime Isayama, Character Designs by Thores Shibamoto
Kodansha Comics, 192 pp
Rating: Older Teens (16+)
Set 70 years before the start of the main series, Attack on Titan: Before the Fall, Vol. 1 tells the story of a forgotten and covered up breach of the wall. A single Titan rampaged through a city, devouring a number of people before regurgitating them and then leaving the area. Among the half digested corpses was a pregnant woman and, against all odds, her unborn child is born alive! From Satoshi Shiju and Ryo Sukukaze comes a dark and horrific look into the past of Attack on Titan!
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Sorry for the absence, the holidays are a difficult time of year for me at work, and I also had to contend with switching jobs this year. But I now have my free time back, and I’m going to be trying new things with this column. Admittedly, one of the other problems I was having was that I was running out of topics.
This week, I’m going to be looking at the work of Fumi Yoshinaga. Yoshinaga is one of the few artists who does work aimed at adult women who is still being translated in the current English language manga market. Part of the reason is her popularity, I think, as she has many English-language fans already. But her appeal lies in the stories she writes, where she has a knack for capturing the mundane in entertaining ways. Her early work, in both Japanese and English, was mostly boy’s love one-shots and short series (which, for the uninitiated, are romance stories with gay male characters aimed at women). Even these, her earliest works, still had their touching, quiet moments. Yoshinaga is great at writing sympathetic characters, which makes her sometimes mundane subject matter that much better. Her art is also spare most of the time, but she does great character facial expressions, and the detail in Ooku and her food art is quite impressive.
Here’s the Essential Fumi Yoshinaga, along with some summaries of her other work. Also worth mentioning is the fact that her other current long-running series, What Did You Eat Yesterday, will be released by Vertical starting in March. The story of a gay couple and the dinners they share should prove to be a delightful slice-of-life story, despite what sounds like an unexciting premise.
There’s a genre one sees quite a bit of in manga that seem to appear rarely elsewhere – the magic shop story. These are usually very similar, with a proprietor or a set of characters that runs a shop full of magical items that are vended to unsuspecting patrons, often with ironic results. It’s a good framing device for series of unconnected short stories, usually horror-themed, and a kind of analogue to the horror collections that used to appear often among US comics. The US horror collections and these “magic shop” series are quite different, however. I’m going to cover the most popular “magic shop” series in this column, but there are so many that the topic will come up at least one more time. Also interesting is that the “flavor” of the series is often determined by the shop owner and characters – there is always an overarching plot and direction for the series, and all three of these are radically different, despite being horror-flavored collections of short stories united with a framing device.
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