Wednesday, February 22, 2017

February Manga Challenge 2017 | Week 2

The challenge put out by YouTubers @YuriInRealLife is super simple:
1. Read one volume of manga (or the equivalent) every day for the month of February. 
2. No skipping days. 

Check out their full video here: YuriInRealLife's February Manga Challenge

Here's what I read in Week Two:

Sunday 2/12/17

Tropic of the Sea
Satoshi Kon

Rating: 5/5

Yosuke's family runs a shrine in a small beach side town.  For generations his family has made a deal with the Mermaids to protect their egg in the shrine.  Every 60 years the egg is brought back to the sea and exchanged for a new one.

Unfortunately, Yosuke's father is too absorbed in developing this sleepy fishing village into a vacation destination to believe in Mermaids.

I loved the environmental angle to this story, as well as, the conflict between generations.  There are those who love the natural landscape the way it is, and those who only see the potential profit.  There are those who can't wait to move away to the big city, and those who have come running back home.

Wrapping up all those very real world issues with the supernatural mystery of the mermaids pact adds a very engaging layer to the story.  And a hard line in the sand for characters to come down on either side of.  There was also a cinematic action sequence.

This manga is from the 90s and I thought it was interesting how it read differently from current manga.  There are many panels depicting the passage of time where only snippets of conversation will occur or be cut short.  I can't think of many manga today which use that method.

Monday 2/13/17

Masamune Shirow

Rating: 2/5

A police squadron who drive tanks patrol a futuristic city, with poisonous air, and chase a Looney Tune-esq bad guy--I just could not.  It's like everything I have zero interest in rolled into one manga.  There's even characters with big 80s hair. 

I only read this manga because it comes from Masamune Shirow, so I did not expect it to be so goofy.  I think this is a work that you will only enjoy if you come to find it charming, because it does not have much else to offer.

Tuesday 2/14/17

Wandering Island, Vol.1
Kenji Tsuruta

Rating: 5/5

Mikura fly's an open air sea plane, delivering packages all over Japan's islands in the Pacific.  She runs this company with her grandfather, and lives alone with her cat Endeavor.

After her grandfather dies, she keeps the business alive.  And pursues a new dream.  Her grandfather has left a package for her to deliver to "Electric Island".  The only problem is that to her knowledge no such island exists.

This story of Mikura searching for the mysterious wandering island is one of risk taking and determination, two qualities she definitely has.  The vibe of this story was a wonderful juxtaposition between the easygoing way of life on a small island, where you live in a bikini and know everyone in town, and the forces of nature that can easily destroy that life.

Her cat reminds me exactly of my own.

I can't wait to continue this journey in the next volume.

Wednesday 2/15/17

That Wolf-Boy is Mine, Vol.1
Youko Nogiri

Rating: 4/5

I had no plans to read this series.  The title is terrible, the cover is boring, and the volume is very short--and then Bookoutlet was selling it for really cheap and I had already lost the ability to stop myself from adding things to the cart.

Luckily!  It was actually quite good!

I was terrified this story was going to resemble Wolf Girl/Black Prince, because I hated that story, but actually, this manga has a feel that much more resembles Fruits Basket.

I love that Komugi has just moved back to the country from Tokyo and is living with her estranged father in his Udon shop.  There's something very whimsical about that in a magical-realism sort of way.  And I am also loving that there are actually more animal-boys than just Wolf Boy.

I get the impression that on the spectrum of animal boys, these boys lean near the good natured (dare I say innocent?) end of the spectrum, rather than the moody, lecherous (malicious?) end.  And yet, they do still seem more animal than human.  I find this angle refreshing.

There are hints of a larger animal network in the surrounding mountains, and one can only assume that Komugi will find herself mixed up in that world somehow.

I am intrigued to find out more.

Thursday 2/16/17

Black Bird, Vol.1
Kanoko Sakurakouji

Rating: 2/5

I picked up volumes one and two of Black Bird at a used book store not knowing anything about the plot.  I've always assumed it was a good series, since I see it in many people's collections, and because it is sold in a box-set.

Unfortunately, I was not feeling this first volume at all.  Misao is now 16 and the spirits she has been able to see her whole life are starting to become aggressive towards her.  She has been waiting for her neighbor Kyo to return for ten years.  He promised her that she would be his bride someday, and even though it's silly, she still hopes he will keep his promise.

Well, Kyo is back, and he has kept his promise.  He intends to make Misao his bride, but the information which was originally left out is that he is a demon lord, and by marrying Misao his clan will gain favor.  Misao wonders if he ever loved her at all.

I did not connect to this story.  I felt utterly indifferent to Misao's plight because her character was wholly underdeveloped.  I felt nothing for Kyo because I do not find his character design to be attractive or expressive, and because he came on the scene strong as a jerk.

Also, the wound licking doesn't do it for me.  I probably would have found it sexier if I had read this series when I was younger, but now it's lack of context and emotions leaves me seeing it as it is: practical.  Why waste time healing your inconvenient wounds if the jerk demon is willing to lick them all?

Friday 2/17/17

Black Bird, Vol.2
Kanoko Sakurakouji

Rating: 3/5

This volume was better.  Both characters suddenly have personalities and backstories.  Members of Kyo's clan are introduced, as well as, the story behind how he became the clan leader.

The weird thing is, now I feel like I have no idea where this story will go during the rest of the 16 volumes.  Forreal.  This second volume blew through a bunch of plots that I originally assumed would be drawn out throughout the series.  It also ended resolutely, without setting up the plot to come.  I do find this question of what's to come intriguing.  

I am not emotionally invested in the story enough to feel like I need to continue it immediately, but I will keep an eye out for the rest of the volumes.

Saturday 2/18/17

Tsubaki chou Lonely Planet, Vol.4
Mika Yamamori

Rating: 5/5

I feel like I cannot give spoilers for this series.  So I will just reiterate how much I love it. 

Fumi is in highschool but must become a live in house keeper for a reclusive writer after her father's debts get them turned out of their home.  Akatsuki is a young historical fiction novelist who agrees to take on the house keeper as a favor to the chief editor.

Neither one expected the other to be so young, and therefore, neither one was prepared to live together.  It's a pretty steep learning curve for both of them.

Fumi is such a mature and introspective female protagonist and Akatsuki intrigues me with his professional writing, love of history, mysterious past, unavailable emotions, and gorgeous hair.  

This series has great character designs, clothing, and scenery.  It's a quiet, serious, and deeply felt, romance story about two people who are so used to being lonely that falling in love confuses them.

Tsubaki chou Lonely Planet, Vol.5
Mika Yamamori

Rating: 5/5


This Mangaka really needs an English release.

See you in week three!

Thanks for reading!