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Weekly Recon: 8/1/07

Posted by: Katherine Dacey on July 29, 2007 at 9:39 pm

Congratulations to the winners of our very first Manga Recon giveaway! Four lucky folks snagged brand-spankin’ new copies of Alive: The Final Evolution, a Del Rey series making its debut on Wednesday. Our winners:

  • Celeste M., Victoria, TX
  • John J., Eden Prairie, MN
  • Ken H., Braintree, MA
  • Mike T., Spotsylvania, VA

And speaking of Del Rey, you’ll find new volumes of Air Gear, Kitchen Princess, Mushishi, Nodame Cantabile, Sugar Sugar Rune, and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles in stores this week, as well as a new shojo series from CMX, King of Cards; the latest installments of Dark Horse darlings Old Boy (now with Eisner Award validation!) and Eden: It’s An Endless World; a new light novel from Viz, Brave Story (yes, the same Brave Story that Tokyopop has licensed in manga form); and an indispensable addition to every fujoshi’s library, How to Draw Manga: Drawing Yaoi (Graphic-Sha). And if those titles don’t tempt, you’ll also find the latest installments of Viz’s Signature manga line gracing bookshelves, including volume ten of Golgo 13, volume ten of Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, and volume seven of The Drifting Classroom. Or should that read, THE DRIFTING CLASSROOM!!!!??

REVIEWED THIS WEEK:

SHIPPING THIS WEEK:

  • Air Gear, Vol. 5 (Del Rey)
  • Alive: The Final Evolution, Vol. 1 (Del Rey)
  • Brave Story (Viz)
  • Claymore, Vol. 9 (Viz)
  • The Drifting Classroom, Vol. 7 (Viz)
  • Eden: It’s An Endless World, Vol. 8 (Dark Horse)
  • Full Metal Alchemist, Vol. 14 (Viz)
  • Golgo 13, Vol. 10 (Viz)
  • Gundham Seed Destiny, Vol. 4 (Del Rey)
  • Guru Guru Pon-Chan, Vol. 9 (Del Rey)
  • Hana-Kimi, Vol. 19 (Viz)
  • How to Draw Manga: Drawing Yaoi (Graphic-Sha)
  • Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs, Vol. 4 (Viz; click here for a review of volume 3)
  • Kamui, Vol. 8 (Broccoli Books)
  • Kekkaishi, Vol. 10 (Viz; reviewed below)
  • King of Cards, Vol. 1 (CMX)
  • Kitchen Princess, Vol. 3 (Del Rey)
  • Mushishi, Vol. 2 (Del Rey; reviewed below)
  • Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, Vol. 10 (Viz)
  • Ninja High School, No. 151 (Antarctic Press)
  • Nodame Cantabile, Vol. 10 (Del Rey)
  • Old Boy, Vol. 7 (Dark Horse)
  • Omukae Desu, Vol. 5 (CMX; click here for a review of volume 1)
  • Pichi Pichi Pitch, Vol. 6 (Del Rey)
  • Sugar Sugar Rune, Vol. 6 (Del Rey)
  • Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles, Vol. 14 (Del Rey)


I Hate You More Than Anyone, Vol. 1

By Banri Hidaka
CMX, 190 pp.
Rating: Teen (mild profanity)

ihateyou.jpgSeventeen-year-old Kazuha Akiyoshi is the oldest of six children. With both her mother and father working full time, Kazuha functions as the de facto parent in her household, running errands, wiping runny noses, cooking meals, and shepherding the youngest to and from daycare. Like many harried parents, Kazuha has little time for herself, giving no thought to such normal teenage obsessions as boys or clothing. Her routine is upended when she meets Mizushima, a twenty-four-year-old teacher whose compliments leave the inexperienced Kazuha bewitched, bothered, and bewildered. Complicating the romantic picture is Mizushima’s pal Sugimoto, a hairdresser with a crush on Kazuha. Kazuha, however, finds Sugimoto singularly obnoxious, rebuffing his advances with the titular refrain: “I hate you more than anyone!”

It’s to Banri Hidaka’s credit that Sugimoto gradually evolves from overbearing creep to prospective boyfriend in a plausible way. Alas, his transformation is one of the few elements of the story to receive adequate development. The supporting cast comprises an undistinguished group of one-note characters; neither Kazuha’s siblings nor her classmates make much of an impression, a problem compounded by their androgynous appearance. (In fact, I sometimes had difficulty distinguishing Kazuha from Sugimoto, as they have nearly identical hairstyles and body types. Tip: Sugimoto is the cool cat in the John Lennon sunglasses and ponytail; Kazuha is the cutie sporting the vintage Dorothy Hamill ‘do.) The layout, too, leaves something to be desired. Hidaka’s tendency to pack every panel with unspoken thoughts and comments directed at the reader leads to busy pages with very small print; I found myself wishing she’d let the artwork convey her characters’ inner turmoil. The bottom line: I Hate You More Than Anyone shows some promise of moving beyond the usual opposites attract premise, but is hampered by cluttered design and a lack of interesting subplots.

Volume one of I Hate You More Than Anyone is available now; volume two will be released in September.

Kekkaishi, Vol. 10

By Yellow Tanabe
Viz, 192 pp.
Rating: Teen

kekkaishi10.JPGIf Kekkaishi were a TV show—say, penned by Tim Kring or J. J. Abrams—the promo for volume ten would sound something like this: “Tonight on Kekkaishi: battles will be fought. Friendships will be tested. And one of our demon slayers must come face to face with the ultimate enemy: himself.” The catalyst for this barn-burner of an episode is the Kokoburo’s arrival at the Karasumori. With their ailing, fox-tailed princess in tow, the ayakashis engage Gen, Tokine, and Yoshimori in barrier-busting combat. Though I’m not usually a big fan of protracted battles, Tanabe masterfully stages the fight scenes, enlivening the action with a parade of fantastic monsters while building towards a tense, emotional climax that only J. K. Rowling or Philip Pullman would have the guts to pull off in a work of juvenile lit. Perhaps as a palette cleanser, volume ten also includes one of Yellow Tanabe’s signature extras: a gag strip that answers the question, what do manga artists do all day? (A hint: the answer involves marshmallows and microwaves.) You’ll never again wonder why the next installment of your favorite series has been delayed.

Volume ten of Kekkaishi arrives in stores on August 1st. Click here for a review of volumes 1-9.

Mushishi, Vol. 2

By Yuki Urushibara
Del Rey, 233 pp.
Rating: OT (16+)

mushishi2.JPGMushishi_interior.JPGThe first volume of Mushishi introduced readers to Ginko, a laconic, chain smoking, trenchcoat-wearing wanderer who’d be equally at home in A Fistful of Dollars or Kwaidan. Spurred by his insatiable curiosity and armed with a traditional healer’s knowledge, Ginko traveled the backwoods of Japan in search of mushi (literally, “bugs”), antediluvian parasites who cause their human hosts all sorts of ailments. Volume two follows the same episodic structure as volume one, as Ginko uncovers a nest of mushi in an ancient library, debunks a cult centered on an afflicted woman, and combats a resilient organism with shape-shifting abilities. Most of these stories tap the same spooky vibe as a good installment of The X-Files, with a visceral jolt or two and a little extemporizing about such perennial themes as man vs. nature and faith vs. science. The notable exception is the first chapter. Though beautifully illustrated, the story is a perplexing mess, marred by stiff, unnatural dialogue and several logical gaps in the narrative. (It’s hard to tell if the problem resides with the translation or is an artifact of the original Japanese.) My suggestion: skip it and let the other four tales work their eerie, graceful magic on you.

Volume two of Mushishi arrives in stores on July 31st. Click here to read a review of volume one.

Mushishi © 2000 Yuki Urushibara/ KODANSHA LTD. All rights reserved.

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