Monday, June 23, 2008

Reviewing the Mail, Week of 6/21: Comics

And this is the second half of the post listing the books I received for review last week, including comics and manga and other similar things. I saw large packages from both CMX Manga (part of DC) and from a manga publisher (one new to me) called Aurora, so I'll start with the latter, end with the former, and add the miscellaneous stuff in the middle.

Nephilim by Anna Hanamaki is the first book from my Aurora package: the main character Abel is from the Nephilim tribe, who all change from male to female at sundown every day (and, apparently, are required to kill people who see them at night, as women). Looks like this will turn into a romance between Abel and Guy (described on the back cover as "playboy/Imperial soldier"), with a fair bit of hurt/comfort and some mild domination. It was published this year.

Also from Aurora is Walkin' Butterfly, the first volume in a story about Michiko, an amazingly tall girl who has suffered for that...until she accidentally becomes a model. The chapter-opening art is a full-page view of Michiko, nude and scowling, which is a bit unusual. It's by Chihiro Tamaki, and was published last year.

Kaoru Ohashi's Nightmares For Sale is the third Aurora title, a series of horror stories about a pawnshop run by a mysterious man named Shadow. As usual with "mysterious shop" stories, I imagine that the people pawning their good get a lot more than they expect. Aurora published the first volume of Nightmares for Sale in 2007.

And also from Aurora is Flock Of Angels by Shoko Hamada, about a boy-band that wear wings onstage and people who got a disease called Angelosis, which made them grow real wings. Oh, and "being bitten by a radioactive spider" is vastly more plausible? (Comics have the weirdest set-ups imaginable; I don't know why, but it's true worldwide.)

Aurora also has imprints devoted to other manga subgenres, and they sent me a few books from Luv Luv, which focuses on romance stories for adult women -- rated "M" for mature. (Does that make these josei, or something more specialized? I need to get up to speed on my manga genres.)

First of the Luv Luv books is Hana Aoi's Love For Dessert, from which we see that having a man sticking his tongue out on a cover only very rarely works. Love for Dessert has six short stories of romance, which all seem to end in very tasteful sex scenes. (Luv Luv looks to me like the comics equivalent of sexy romance novels -- it's all about the woman: what she wants, what she thinks about things, what she fantasizes about.)

Also from Luv Luv is Real Love by Mitsuki Oda, which has the long title story and two shorter pieces. Again, just from poking through it, I see a whole lot of talking about the relationship, ending with sex. (The other way I can tell these books are by and for women? The good sex, at the end of the story, typically starts with just-off-panel cunnilingus.)

Last from Luv Luv is Kanae Hazuki's Voices Of Love, which is much the same: five stories of romance and sex, from women's points of view. (I wonder if this subgenre -- which I see from ads inside the books, once I got rid of the shrinkwrap, is called "Ladies' Comics" or Redikomi -- is always in short-story form? They seem to be all about the Happily Ever After ending, just like mainstream prose romances over here, and that would tend to keep the stories from getting too long...but they could still be as long as a tankubon or four without much trouble.) All three of the Luv Luv books were originally published this year.

Moving outside of my comfort zone, Aurora also publishes yaoi comics under the Deux imprint, and they sent me two titles from that line: Kiss All the Boys by Shiuko Kano and Yakuza In Love by Shiuko Kano. I'm not entirely sure if I'm ready for boy-boy sex in my comics, no matter how tastefully depicted (or how much some of the characters look like women to begin with), but how could I not read something called Yakuza in Love? (I ask you.) So look for my Manga Friday column this week to cover some explicit Japanese sex, and see how squicked out I get...

Moving away from adults-only comics for a while, First Second sent me Prince of Persia: The Graphic Novel, by Jordan Mechner, A.B. Sina, LeUyen Pham, and Alex Puvilland. It's related to the long-running game series and to the movie (based on the games to some degree) coming next summer, but seems to be a mostly original story told in that setting. The graphic novel version of the story will be available September 2nd.

SLG Publishing, the company once known as Slave Labor Graphics, published Muzz, Volume One by the interestingly-named FSc in May, but I only just saw it. Look for a review of it (by me) at ComicMix sometime later today -- or maybe tomorrow, if there's a lot of other stuff in the pipeline.

And now I turn to the CMX package, which, like the one that came last week, had no cover letter or other identifying information. (Hey -- getting the books at all is a big step, so don't think I'm complaining. Don't get the idea that I'm knocking the American system.) CMX sent me a book with my new favorite title, I Hate You More Than Anyone! (I'm particularly interested in the precise meaning -- does the speaker hate the object more than anyone else does, or does she hate him (I'm making assumptions about gender here that may not be warranted) more than she hates anyone else?) It's by Banri Hidaki, and the fifth volume (the one I have) is coming July 16th.

CMX also published Kiichi and the Magic Books,which looks like another entry in the now very popular "magic school" genre. The second volume is what I have on hand, and that's coming July 23rd. It's by Taka Amano.

Another second volume is Dorothea, coming July 16th for Mature readers. It's by the one-named "Cuvie," and features a medievaloid (or possibly actually medieval) warrior-woman, who -- as unlikely this may sound -- actually wears armor pieces that cover her torso. (Her legs look pretty naked, but we'll let that pass for now.) This is coming 7/16.

And last for this week is CMX's Tears of a Lamb. It will be published on July 16 as well and it's by Banri Hidaka. After staring at these manga covers all day, I'm now having trouble telling the boys from the girls. Dr. Andy self-diagnoses a case of manga overload, and that means it's it for me this week.

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