Monday, October 12, 2009

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 10/10, Part One: Yen

Every month, there's one week where I get vastly more books in the mail than the other weeks. I have my theories as to why this might be the case -- publishers that have a single on-sale date for most of their monthly books; publicists with a monthly list of things to get done at particular times -- but it's been that way for the few years I've been blogging/reviewing/checking the mail.

This is that week for October, so this week's "Reviewing the Mail" post has been split in half again -- this post will cover books from Yen Press (which either got behind in sending out review copies, to me at least, or is publishing a huge number of books this month) and one to follow in a few hours will list everything else (mostly SFF books, with a couple of graphic novels).

And, again, the potted explanation: I haven't read any of these books yet, and there's a good chance I won't end up reading any specific one of them. So there's no way I'll be able to review them all. But I want to give them all at least a little attention -- I work in the book business, and part of my budget goes to sending books out to reviewers, so I have a keen appreciation of the odds against any specific book getting much recognition -- so I list them like this each Monday, and say whatever I can about them from a very brief perusal.

Even divisions can have sub-divisions, and so this Yen post will be divided, like Gaul, into three parts:

Imprimus: Beginnings

I have three books on hand that begin series, so I'll go through them first; they're obviously the most new-reader friendly, and so are likely to be of the most interest to the most people.

Soul Eater is by Atsushi Ohkubo, and launched out of Yen+ magazine -- I reviewed a lot of the material in this volume when I covered the first three issues of that magazine just over a year ago. It's an energetic supernatural series with spiky-haired boys and curvaceous girls, pretty typical decent shonen material right down the middle of the road. It's being published this month.

Hero Tales, by Hiromu Arakawa, is also launching out of Yen+, but I'm not familiar with this series; it didn't appear in the few issues of Yen+ that I saw. This one is a historical story, with lots of swordfighting and an astrological organizing principle -- there's a legend that there will be seven heroes corresponding to the stars of the Big Dipper, and so those will be the "stars" of this series. I'd expect Hero Tales to be at least moderately popular, since Arakawa has a following from his her previous series Fullmetal Alchemist (which I've never read, but I've certainly heard of). This is also publishing this month.

And last of the debut series is Jun Mochizuki's Crimson-Shell, coming in November. It seems to be contemporary, with evil "Black Roses" and good "Red Roses" battling across the landscape (of England, as far as I can tell), mostly with swords -- though I expect there's some supernatural stuff in here as well. (And if there aren't some suspiciously tentacle-esque prehensile rose vines eventually, I'll eat my hat.)

Secundus: Secundus

The second cluster of books are second volumes -- close enough to the beginning that it should be easy to figure out what's going on, but not quite as new as those shiny first issues. Some of these I've seen before, and some of these I haven't:

And first of those is a book I probably would have bought about a week ago when I went to Borders for their graphic novel "buy 4, get the 5th free" sale -- Sumomomo, Momomo> by Shinobu Ohtaka. (I can say that because I actually looked for this second volume there, and didn't find it.) It's a parody of the usual martial arts manga series, with a hero who just wants to become a public prosecutor but is saddled with a spunky super-saiyan girl who insists she's going to marry him to have super-saiyan babies, and I found the first volume very funny. This second one was published this month -- bug your local store if you don't see it; it should be there.

And then there's Nabari No Ou, which is close to being Sumomomo, Momomo done straight, and probably suffers by that comparison. It's by Yuhki Kamatani, also publishing in October, and was also included in my look at the first three issues of Yen+ last year.

Jack Frost is massively violent, but has a crisp shonen style that makes it go down easily -- it's by JinHo Ko, who also does the art for the only megaviolent Croquis Pop but also writes this one. (And so that implies that he's the one pushing the level of violence here.). I covered the first volume a few months ago; this one is publishing in November.

And I just recently looked at the first issue ofYuji Iwahara's Cat Paradise, which is already coming around with a second volume. It's got a quintessential manga high concept: the student council of a high school that allows each student to have one cat secretly protect the world against ancient supernatural evil, with the aid of those (transforming, natch) cats. This one's also coming in November.

I'm happy to see the second volume of Svetlana Chmakova's Nightschool: The Weirn Books, since I enjoyed the first one, and wanted to know what would happen next. It's an October book, so if you've been waiting as well, you can find it now.

13th Boy, SangEun Lee's love-triangle manga about young teens that I found surprisingly supernatural the first time around, returns for a second volume in October.

I somehow missed the first volume of Ryu Ryang's Sarasah, though I saw the first three installments of the story in that oft-linked Yen+ review. And now a second volume is coming in November.

And last of the second volumes is Sugarholic by Gong GooGoo. I didn't see the earlier part of this story -- and I can be certain of that, since I know I would have remembered that author's name if I'd seen it before. (And I can only hope that it sounds much less silly back in Korea.)

Tertius: The Story Continues

The third and final group of books are later volumes in series; these are probably mostly for people are already know and like this story. (Although Yen seems to keep all of their earlier volumes in print, so interested readers could drop back to the beginning of anything that intrigues them.)

Higurashi When They Cry: Curse Killing Arc looks like a #1 -- it has "1" prominently on the cover, inside a blood-like splash of red -- but it follows the "Abducted by Demons Arc" and the "Cotton Drifting Arc," so it's actually the fifth volume in the series. It probably stands alone better than most fifth volumes, though. Higurashi is another one of those Japanese omni-media properties, with light novels, video games, and probably tea towels and office furniture all bearing the same trademark and featuring versions of the same stories. The manga is credited to Ryukishi07 (story) and Jiro Suzuki (art), and this one will be out next month.

Zombie-Loan, from the Peach-Pit collective, comes in with a 7th volume this month. I've reviewed a couple of the earlier books -- here's a link to my write-up of #4 -- and generally found them entertaining, with a background that either I'd missed the important explanation of or which doesn't bear too much thinking about.

Very! Very! Sweet, a teen romance series with Japanese-Korean political undertones from the Korean creators JiSang Shin and Geo, hits its fifth volume in November. (I reviewed the first one, dog's years ago.) I also note that it's translated by Jackie Oh, who I imagine has already heard far too many dumb jokes based on her name, so I'll forbear from adding my own.

Also hitting a fifth volume in November is YoungHee Lee's You're So Cool, another Korean teen romance comic. I looked at the first volume of this one last year as well.

Coming in at #6 on the Hot Hundred is Legend by Kara and Woo SooJung, which seems to have some fighting early on, but is mostly made up of pages in which people with unfeasibly large eyes and ridiculously over-feathered hair emote at each other for long stretches. I find, from Googling my name and the title, that I reviewed the second volume, which I had forgotten completely. What did we do before Google?

Goong, the slightly alternate-historical Korean teen romance, gets a 7th volume in November. I looked at the second volume some time ago, if that helps.

I haven't read Lee Eun's The Antique Gift Shop, which gets a 9th volume in November. The back cover copy mentions a mermaid princess, a human prince, and a "domineering, morbidly obese ex-ballerina," which could make for a different take on the Hans Christian Andersen story.

And last from Yen this week -- my, they are publishing a lot of books this fall, aren't they? And they didn't even send me Kazuto Okada's Sundome, Vol. 6, which is also coming in November, hint hint -- is the tenth volume of Angel Diary by Kara and Lee YunHee. This is another one I haven't read, so you're on your own here.

And now I'll take a metaphorical break, and be back in a couple of hours with the rest of the mail for this week.
Listening to: Richard Thompson - Outside Of The Inside
via FoxyTunes

1 comment:

Katherine Dacey said...

Hiromu Arakawa is actually one of a handful of successful female manga artists working in the shonen field.

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