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Say It With Manga – Fumi Yoshinaga Edition

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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.

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Manga in Minutes: Attack on Titan, Vols. 10 + 11

Attack on Titan, Vol. 10Attack on Titans, Vols. 10 + 11
by Hajime Isayama
Kodansha Comics
Rating: Teen (!6+)

The mystery of the Titans and their breach of the wall deepens as revelations abound in Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan, Vols. 10 + 11! Trapped in the ruins of Utgard Castle, a group sent to investigate the breach find themselves under siege from the small but steadily growing army of Titans. Low on fuel, blades and man power, can the group survive? Revelations abound in these two volumes of Attack on Titan!
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Manga in Minutes: Top 10 Comics of 2013

As you know by now, CBR has posted its list of Top 100 Comics of 2013. As one of the site contributors I took part in it, but naturally not everything I selected for my personal Top 10 made the list. With that in mind I thought I’d try something a little different to kick off the new year and post my personal Top 10 Comics of 2013 as my first column of 2014!

A little information regarding the criteria for this list. The comics/manga has to have come out in 2013 or, in the case of mini-series, the final issue had to have been published in 2013. Also, any foreign material that first saw print in the US during 2013 is eligible.

With that out of the way, here are my Top 10 picks, a runner up, and my thoughts and comments.
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Manga in Minutes: Triton of the Sea, Vol. 2

Triton of the Sea, Vol. 2Triton of the Sea, Vol. 2
Created by Osamu Tezuka
DMP, 436pp
Rating: Teen (13 +)

Osamu Tezuka’s tale of watery adventure and vengeance comes to its conclusion with Triton of the Sea, Vol. 2! Poseidon’s children have all fallen at the hands of Triton and the final showdown between the two rivals shall commence… or will it? Twists and turns send Triton’s tale into some rather unexpected directions in the final volume of the series.
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Manga in Minutes: Attack on Titan, Vols. 8 + 9

Attack on Titan, Vol. 9Attack on Titan, Vol. 8 + 9
by Hajime Isayama
Kodansha Comics
Rating: Teen (16+)

A disastrous expedition beyond the wall has led to a terrifying discovery, Eren’s not the only person capable of turning into a Titan! Now Levi, Eren and Mikasa must create a plan to trap and uncover the identity of the mysterious Female Titan. Just when things couldn’t get anymore confusing or tense, word comes that the worst case scenario may have occurred, the Titans have breached the wall! Twists, turns, revelations and action all come courtesy of Hajmie Isayama in volumes 8 and 9 of his hit series, Attack on Titan!
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Manga in Minutes: Triton of the Sea, Vol. 1

Triton of the Sea, Vol. 1Triton of the Sea, Vol. 1
Created by Osamu Tezuka
DMP, 484pp
Rating: Teen (13 +)

Digital Manga continues to build on their Osamu Tezukua line with Triton of the Sea, Vol. 1! Found abandoned in a cave, young Triton is adopted by a human family and raised as one of their own. But as he grows, he discovers his origins and the legacy of his true family. As the last surviving member of the underwater Triton clan, young Triton must train and prepare himself for the inevitable showdown with his ancestral enemies and those responsible for wiping out his biological family, the Poseidon clan!
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Say It With Manga – The Underground Anthology Edition

Mercy Flesh

I’ve always been amused by the lack of short story anthologies available in English for manga.  There’s a good reason for it.  The short story anthology graphic novel isn’t really a done thing in Japan, primarily because all manga is released serially in themed anthologies, and on any given week you can pick up hundreds of different ones with both chapters and short stories in any genre you want.  About the only type we see in English, aside from the infamous Four Shoujo Stories (a very rare and “unauthorized” graphic novel collection), are underground short story anthologies.  They appear very rarely, but are a fantastic place to see several artists and stories that usually don’t appear anywhere else.  Also, plenty of gross-out stuff.  Here are the four big ones I can think of off the top of my head, and all are worth checking out for at least a story or two.

 

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Manga in Minutes: Sailor Mon Short Stories, Vol. 2

Sailor Moon Short Stories, Vol. 2Sailor Moon Short Stories, Vol. 2
Created by Naoko Takeuchi
Kodansha Comics
Rating: Teen (13 +)

At long last the Kodansha Comics release of Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon comes to an end, with Sailor Moon Short Stories, Vol. 2. The second in a two volume collection of short stories contains “Princess Kaguya’s Lover”, a touching story of a cat and the man she loves, “Casa Blanca Memory”, which gives us some insight into the life of Rei/Sailor Mars, and wraps up with the comedic “Parallel Sailor Moon” It’s love, loss and wacky hijinks in the second and final volume of Sailor Moon Short Stories!
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Say It With Manga – The Most Horrifying of the Rest Edition

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This month I’ve been spotlighting horror manga artists who have several series translated into English.  I’ve covered a few of the best and most classic mangaka, so this week, I thought I’d cover a few series that are worth reading, but are mostly one-offs from the artists in English.  The fantastic header image is the art of Yuho Ashibe, one of the demons in Bride of Deimos.

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Say It With Manga – Junji Ito Edition

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I’ve looked at two great horror artists already this month, Kazuo Umezu and Hideshi Hino.  Both have had at least one must-read story translated into English (Drifting Classroom for Umezu, Panorama of Hell for Hino), and both are quite famous and worth exploring for different reasons.  But for my money, you won’t find another horror mangaka as consistently good as Junji Ito.  When he’s good, he’s terrifying.  And even his most mediocre stories are still pretty great reads.  Sadly, we haven’t seen a new Junji Ito work in English since 2006, but we were very lucky before that.  Two of his series are must-reads, and the other two series I’m going to talk about are story collections.

 

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Say It With Manga – The Many Lives of Hideshi Hino Edition

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Continuing on with my October feature of horror manga artists in English, this week I’m going to be looking at Hideshi Hino.  Hino probably has more one-shot volumes than any other manga artist translated into English, thanks to the efforts of DH Publishing.  Most of his books are available in a series called “Hino Horror,” although there’s a few outliers from other publishers that I’ll be looking at in this article as well.

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Say It With Manga: Kazuo Umezu Edition

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I know it can be tedious to read through all the Halloween-themed articles that happen in October, and I’m going to be doing a series of them.  But I dearly love horror manga, and it’s unfortunately something that had its heyday some years ago in English.  So for the next couple weeks, I’ll be doing artist spotlights for a few of the classic horror manga artists that are available in English, most of whom haven’t seen a new work translated into English in years.

 

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Say It With Manga – Love Gone Wrong Edition

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I’ve always liked the concept of “love gone wrong,” since it can imply anything from a simple messy and dramatic breakup to something like a kingdom-destroying war.  Below I present to you three romance manga (which all happen to be for the teenage boy demographic in Japan) that offer… three somewhat difficult relationships.  To put it mildly.

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Say It With Manga – Apocalypse Edition

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While many manga series (and other comics, and novels, and movies…) take place after some apocalypse or other, series that are actually about an apocalypse are much rarer, comparatively speaking.  There’s plenty of stuff that deals with zombie apocalypse, but unspecified military, social, or freak occurrence apocalypses always make for interesting reads, espeically when a group of characters is trying to prepare for or prevent it.

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Say It With Manga – Year 24 Group Edition

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In the US, there’s been a recent surge in teen fiction – novels that are written specifically for and about a teenage audience.  Fifteen years ago, it didn’t exist, but now it’s one of the hottest-selling categories of literature.  While there are several mainstream hits, browsing the section at any bookstore will tell you that most of these titles are aimed at teenage girls.  They feature more complex emotional themes, characters that one can easily relate to, and are (debateably) only a step removed from adult literature.  And the category covers a variety of genres, as well.  A similar thing happened to manga for girls in the 1970s.  A group of female artists, who themselves grew up on the popular manga series for young girls, decided that there should be manga for a slightly older female audience as well.  The name “Year 24 Group” refers to the fact that many of the artists were born in 1949, or Showa Year 24.  A lot of the series written during this time period by these artists remains classic to this day, but criminally little of it has been translated into English.  This week, I’m going to feature 3 very different series by 3 Year 24 Group artists that are available in English.  And honestly, there’s not a whole lot more than this.

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