Monday, January 25, 2010

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 1/23

As usual, this is a listing of books that came in my mail last week, sent by various folks hoping to have me review them. I haven't read any of them yet, but here's what I can tell you about them from a quick glance and whatever I already know. (Though, as usual, what I "already know" may turn out to be wrong.)

Most of what I saw this week was from Tokyopop, but I'll lead off with the one thing that wasn't: a new graphic novel from James Sturm called Market Day. Drawn & Quarterly will publish it in April as a slim hardcover. (It's just under a hundred pages, and looks to be just slightly smaller than the typical comics trade paperback.) Sturm's previous work -- The Golem's Mighty Swing, Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow -- have mostly been historical stories set in America, and this one is also historical (and shares an element of Judaica with Golem), but it's set in Eastern Europe about a hundred years ago. It looks like a quiet book, about a rug-maker who finds that the world is changing in ways that make his work less valuable.

And then the rest of these books are all coming from Tokyopop in February, so you'll forgive me if I don't re-type that every time...

Portrait of M & N, Vol. 1 is the first book in a new series by Tachibana Higuchi, whom Tokyopop reminds me is the creator of Gakuen Alice. (That's very nice of them, but it doesn't help, since -- benighted soul that I am -- I've never read, or even seen, Gakuen Alice. M&N is some manner of romance (set in high school, naturally), with a young woman who's an "extreme masochist who finds delight in brutal beatings" and a young man "whose one true pleasure [is] gazing at his beautiful reflection in a room full of mirrors." I'm hoping this is a parody of something I don't recognize, or is otherwise less than completely serious, since that level of masochism gets deeply icky (to use the technical term) if not handled very carefully. I may have to read it just to find out if I should be offended...

Next is Deadman Wonderland, Vol. 1 by Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou, which looks like some kind of distant relative to Battle Royale. Ganta is a middle-schooler sentenced to death after someone else kills his entire class, and sent to a "tourist prison" called Deadman Wonderland -- and this all, to make it even more distinctive, is set ten years after The Great Tokyo Earthquake, the epicenter of which was rebuilt as that prison. Oh, and by the way -- the cover I grabbed has an "art not final" stamp on it, but it looks just like the actual book in my hands.

Phantom Dream, Vol. 5 is by Natsuki Takaya, the creator of the popular Fruits Basket series, and it's the end of this romance series that I suspect is also historical. (There's a lot of people in fancy long kimonos, and at least one swordfight.)

From the BLU imprint comes Croquis, a yaoi (or maybe "Boys Love," since I hear that's now the preferred term) love story by Hinako Takanaga, about an art school student and the model he falls in love with. It looks like a standalone story; that's pretty common in yaoi -- much more than in other genres of manga.

Alice in the Country of Hearts, Vol. 1 is yet another modern reworking of Lewis Carroll, this time by Quinrose (story) and Soumei Hoshino (art). As usual, Alice Liddell falls into Wonderland, but this version -- being manga -- is full of cute men who are all passionately in love with Alice. They're also at war with each other, which makes things more dangerous and complicated -- the better for this series to run a long time, I expect.

I saw the first volume of Julietta Suzuki's Karakuri Odette a while back -- and I reviewed it, briefly, for ComicMix, last month -- and now I've got the second one here as well. As the tag line on the back cover has it: "She's a hot robot in high school: What's the worst that could happen?"

Tokyopop isn't just publishing the usual manga-size volumes, of course -- they also publish in other formats, and I've got a couple of those books as well. On the large size is Fruits Basket Ultimate Edition, Vol. 4, which binds together volumes 7 and 8 of the regular-sized series into hardcovers at a slightly larger size. Fruits Basket, by Natsuki Takaya, is the #1 shojo manga in America -- and there's a bunch of fan-art pages in here to prove it. (And seeing pages and pages of art from girls is a wonderful thing.)

Last for this week is Remember by Benjamin, a full-color original graphic novel (in the larger trim size more typical of Western comics) that reads from left-to-right. Remember collections two short stories, each with their own afterword, plus a preview of Benjamin's upcoming graphic novel Orange. (And, after poking through this book and it's moody blue-green art a bit more, I suspect that Benjamin is Chinese -- the introduction by Ma Rong Cheng of Hong Kong's Tian Xia Books implies but doesn't quite say that.)
Listening to: Audra Mae - The River
via FoxyTunes

No comments:

Post a Comment