Monday, November 03, 2008

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 11/1, Part One: Yen

As you read this -- assuming you're reading it soon after I posted it and not, say, in the year 2679 as part of some dreary archival studies -- I'm on an airplane to sunny Florida, and so I'm not expecting to respond to comments, answer e-mails, or interact with anyone electronically for a solid week.

But the show must go on, so here are the latest week's collection of books in the mail. I review books, which means books come in the mail to review -- unfortunately (or fortunately, since I'm an acquisitive and inquisitive sort), more of them than I could ever manage to read. So I post every Monday morning, so all of the books are at least noted and mildly celebrated -- even the ones that I'll end up not managing to read.

This week, there was a big package from Yen, containing a lot of manga and manwha that they're publishing in November. In fact, it was so big that it's getting its own post. Everything else will be in a separate post, going up in a couple of hours. But, for now, it's all Yen all the time:

There's a "final" plastered below the issue number on the cover of Freak: Legend of the Nonblonds, Vol. 4 by Yi DongEun and Yu Chung, which I gather means that this is the epic conclusion of the story. However, when I reviewed the last volume for ComicMix, I didn't have much context, so I doubt I'll be able to explain much better this time. However, the back cover copy does say that, in this one, the Nonblonds head to the seaside to locate "the tears of the mermaid" -- so it's got that going for it.

I liked Shiro Ihara's Alice on Deadlines a lot to begin with -- as a guilty pleasure, very much so, but a silly, light one -- but I liked Vol. 2 less well than Vol. 1, and Vol. 3 even less well than that, as the characters multiply beyond my ability to place them and silly drama began to outweigh silly comedy. This one looks like it's getting even more dramatic, with amazing revelations about the true tragic past of the lecherous death-angel Lapan, and nasty machinations by his bureaucratic masters. So it may be more of interest to those whose tastes differ from mine -- I was perfectly happy with this as a silly, smutty, sexist little creampuff of a comic.

I've read several installments of Higurashi When They Cry in Yen's Yen+ magazine (and reviewed the first three issues of that magazine about six weeks ago), but it's now making the leap to tankubon form. (First of any of the serials in Yen+, I believe.) The series is by Ryukishi07 and Karin Suzuragi, and this volume collects the three installments that I reviewed in Yen+ -- which means that this series is still at the point of explaining itself; I found it had a lot of strengths, but I wasn't sure at all where it was going to go. (On the other hand, so many manga are so obvious that not knowing is a big plus.) One last thing, which may mean something to some of you: this volume is subtitled "Abducted by Demons Arc."

Yen dives in yaoi for the first time with the Mature-rated Love Quest by Lily Hoshino -- I think this is only their second M-rated book, after the Sundome series. Love Quest doesn't have a volume number on it, so I think it's complete in this book. It's a fantasy story, in which two high-school enemies find themselves in a "magical realm" where "the key to [their] survival is...the exchange of their bodily fluids." (The copy immediately mentions "swapping spit," so I suspect "fluids" is meant as titillation, and it's not super-explicit. On the other hand, I haven't opened the shrink-wrap yet, so I could be wrong....)

Another series I've seen before: Black God, Vol. 4 by Dall-Young Lim and Sung-Woo Park. (I reviewed Vol. 2 and Vol. 3.) It's another shonen series with a lot of violence -- well-executed, in a crisp, clear style -- and the usual superpowered good and bad guys battling for control of various things.

And here's another one I've read -- Sunshine Sketch, Vol. 2 by Ume Aoki -- so I can kick you to my review of the first volume. It's a light, cute 4-panel series about high school girls, much more down-to-earth and realistic than most high school manga, and I liked the first one quite a bit.

I also read and reviewed the last volume of Goong: The Royal Palace, Vol. 3 by Park SoHee, a romantic manwha series set in a slightly alternate world where Korea still has a monarchy, and our heroine has just married the heir for dynastic rather than love reasons.

But I've never read any of the earlier volumes of Moon Boy, Vol. 5 by Lee YoungYou, which is some kind of supernatural story about battling (human, or humanoid) Rabbits and Foxes.

And then there's Comic, Vol. 4 by Ha SiHyun, the latest in a series about romances at a manwha school.

I also saw and reviewed the first volume of Very! Very! Sweet, Vol. 2 by JiSang Shin and Geo, about an arrogant rich Japanese boy transplanted to Korea and the Korean girl (our viewpoint character, generally) he's going to be in love with eventually.

And last from Yen is Hissing, Vol. 5 by Kang EunYoung. It's another romance story, with back cover copy describing the tensions among Sun-Nam, Da-Eh, Da-Hwa, and others -- which is doubly confusing to me, because I really don't know the gender markers in Korean names. (Poor me.)

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