Monday, August 08, 2016

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 8/6

Another big stack this week -- this time, all comics or things related to comics (i.e., light novels) -- so I'll waste no time in fripperies here up front.

  • these books came in my mail
  • I didn't expect them
  • I haven't read them yet
  • but here's what looks interesting about them
(Most of the below are from the hard-working folks at Yen Press, so I'll lead off with the other things and then indicate when this list becomes all-Yen all-the-time.)

First up is the new book by the mad genius of comics, Jason Shiga. It's called Demon, Vol. 1, the first of four volumes collecting the webcomic of the same name. It's a trade paperback from First Second, on sale in October, and it's got something to offend you. (I've only read the webcomic intermittently -- I was waiting for it to be collected like this -- but I read enough to know that much.) Shiga constructs his stories, and the implications of his character's choices, with the precision of a great mathematician, and has a joy in both complicated construction (see Meanwhile) and massive destruction (see later in this series, and, more conventionally, his great library-cop graphic novel Bookhunter). What is Demon about? It's hero, Jimmy Yee, commits suicide on the first page...and wakes up in bed a few pages later. All of the rest of Demon is a working out of what that means, and what Jimmy Yee can do with the power of not dying. One small spoiler: he can do a hell of a lot.

Also from First Second: The Last Man, Vol. 6: The Rescue, the latest in the manga-inspired series from France about high-stakes fighting tournaments in a dystopic world. Like always, the series is by the single-named triumvirate of Balak, Sanlaville, and Vives, and it will be available in November.

Next up are three books from Vertical, continuing popular manga series. Nichijou: My Ordinary Life, Vol. 4 comes from Keiichi Arawi, and it's...about kids at school, I think? The back-cover copy is aggressively opaque, starting off "the denizens of the fey kingdom must placate their princess," but the book seems to be about kids in school.

And from Ryu Mizunagi (again, via Vertical) comes Witchcraft Works, Vol. 9, which is presumably about witches doing witchery, which they wouldn't wish on a wench. Or something like that.

Then there's Tokyo ESP, Vol. 6, by Hajime Segawa, in which people with ESP live in Tokyo. Oh, and fight monsters, I think. They don't just have ESP; that would be boring.

From here on it, it's all Yen Press. I believe all of these books publish this month, too, so they should be available via your pointing device immediately. I'll list these in mostly alphabetical order, broken up by size, which won't make sense to those of you not looking at the large stack of books on my desk. (And those of you who are look at the large stack of books on my desk: stop spying on me!)

So I start with Cotoji's Anne Happy, Vol. 2, which seems to be about a group of unlucky girls in high school. (Presumably, massively, comedically unlucky.)

Then we get Yuji Iwahara's Dimension W, Vol. 3, which has an admirably trippy cover. It seems to be set in a world full of servitor robots, which may or may not be murderous -- and there are also ghosts, or at least rumors of ghosts.

Dragons Rioting, Vol. 4 is by Tsuyoshi Watanabe, but does not contain, as far as I can tell, actual dragons or an actual riot. I think this one is about a school for tough girls, into which our nebbishy male hero is thrown for plot-sufficient reasons in the first volume.

Want your manga to be about making manga? Then check out Monthly Girls' Nozaki-Kun, Vol. 4, in which the title character is a manga-ka and the rest of the cast (mostly) is his assistants. It's from Izumi Tsubaki.

Want your manga to be about the zombie apocalypse? But want it to be funny? Well, then you might like School-Live!, Vol. 4, though I think it's not wall-to-wall ha-ha. It comes from Sadoru Chiba on art and Norimitsu Kaihou (Nitroplus) on story, and is about the last surviving club in a Tokyo highschool and the few young women who belong to it.

And then there's Trinity Seven, Vol. 6, from Kenji Saito and Akinari Nao, which is about a magical school, the impending apocalypse, and other related matters.

(The books from here on are both from Yen and larger in format. Exciting!)

The Asterisk War, Vol. 1 is subtitled "Encounter with a Fiery Princess," and is a light novel by Yuu Miyazaki, with illustrations by okiura. (A manga based on the novel came out a month or two ago, so you might have heard about it already. It's about a city full of magical schools, and the magical battles that everybody engages in all of the time -- I think in an organized, tournament-style system. Our hero is the usual ordinary guy thrown into the deep end.

Deeper into a light novel series is Black Bullet, Vol. 4, by Shiden Kanzaki with illustrations by Saki Ukai. In a post-apocalypse world, a few humans skulk around Tokyo (of course), either hiding out from or battling the bizarre monstrous things that destroyed/conquered the rest of the world. Our heroes are cops -- I think, more or less.

More light novels! Kazuma Kamazhi brings us A Certain Magical Index, Vol. 8, about yet another school for magicians. Gosh! I have no idea what might have inspired all of these stories!

This next book is a manga, and I don't think the word "light" should be used to describe it: Corpse Party: Blood Covered, Vol. 2 by Makoto Kedouin and Toshimi Shinomiya. A group of middle-school kids decided to do a harmless little ritual in their school at the end of a break period, which called up the previous school on that location, which was haunted and evil and all that kind of bad stuff. The title tells you the rest of the story.

Somewhat more happily, here's also the conclusion of a popular love story: Kaoru Mori's Emma, Vol. 5, finishing up the reprinting of the story of a Victorian maid and her lordly boyfriend in larger hardcovers.

Also reprinted in double-size books: Fruits Basket Collector's Edition, Vol. 4, from Natsuki Takaya. This one -- about people who change sex when they have water thrown on them, or something like that -- is in the middle of its reprinting here.

The very best rhetorical question disguised as a title is back in light-novel form: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, Vol. 6 by Fujino Omori with illustrations by Suzuhito Yasuda. I have no idea which dungeon the characters are crawling through, or how many girls have been picked up (or left sitting there, since the picker was unsure of the etiquette).

One last light novel for this week: Sword Art Online, Vol. 8: Early and Late, by Reki Kawahara with art by abec. This series started out about a group of intrepid adventurers trapped in an online MMO and threatened with real death there -- you know the drill -- but those characters seem to still be playing those kinds of games, despite being trapped and nearly/actually killed several times. Guess adventure heroes are required by law to be slow learners.

And last last is a big fat manga volume: Wataru Watanabe's Yowamushi Pedal, Vol. 3, continuing the thrilling story of a nebbish and his school bicycle-racing club. And, no, I am not kidding.

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