Archive for the English Manga Category


LGBTQ: Legend of Korra Turf Wars, Part One Preview on Amazon (English)

July 17th, 2017

Via Senior YNN Correspondent Eric P. we have some really exciting news today.  Legend of Korra: Turf Wars, Part One is due to hit shelves at the beginning of August and Amazon has a preview of the first chapter.

You know how I am with managing expectations, but for once, I have very high hopes that this book will break ground. And, from the glimpses I’ve had from the preview and the of-course leaked pages on the Internets, it look like our hopes will be realized. Korra and Asami will be balancing relationship and teamwork in this series. As the description reads, “In order to get through it all, Korra and Asami vow to look out for each other–but first, they’ve got to get better at being a team and a couple!

There, they said it.

I don’t know if this is the first mainstream large publisher, commercial property to ever say that so plainly or not, but it sure is one of the biggest YA franchises to do so. And certainly the only one I can think of where the lead was the one in the same-sex relationship, not a supporting role. We still love you Willow, just you weren’t Buffy… and I see all my favorite female characters stretching back to my childhood, all the almosts and might have and should have beens starting with like Jaimie Summers in the Bionic Woman. My life is littered with crumbs of female leads that ought to have been gay… and here we are. Finally. 2017 and we finally have a lead character of major commercial franchise who is a lesbian and the relationship is with another major character, not just someone to kill off.

Enjoy the preview and wait patiently a few more weeks. ^_^

Many thanks to Eric for the heads up and for the sponsorship!

 

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LGBTQ Manga: My Brother’s Husband, Volume 1 (English)

June 25th, 2017

Yaichi is not a typical Japanese man. He is a single father and works at home, raising his young daughter, Kana. But, in most things, he thinks of himself as completely typical. He believes in the social order as it was presented to him….even though he himself has failed to completely conform.

When Yaichi’s late brother’s husband arrives from Canada to learn about his husband’s early life, everything Yaichi thinks he believes in will be challenged.

My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame is a beautiful story about the passive homophobia of “good” and “decent” people and how being made uncomfortable can lead to change.

The catalyst to this change is Mike Flanagan. Mike is Canadian and openly gay. He’s come to Japan to be closer to his late husband, Ryoji. Yaichi is made deeply uncomfortable by this physical reminder that his brother was gay, and felt that he needed to leave Japan, but when Kana intercedes on her new-found uncle’s behalf, he invites Mike to stay with them.

Mike spends his time exploring locations from Ryoji’s youth. Yaichi spends his time recoiling from Mike’s emotional connection to his brother. As Yaichi comes closer and closer to recognizing his own homophobia, it’s Kana who always puts her finger on his sore spots.  In her innocence, she asks questions Yaichi doesn’t have the bravery to ask, and in doing so, she’s the one who highlights the hypocrisy of adults.

Tagame-sensei’s art is beautiful and his love of men’s bodies is apparent. But it’s his gentle touch with painting men’s emotional life that really makes this book stand out. Because, My Brother’s Husband runs in Monthly Action, a manga magazine for adult men. These men have been trained by society to not ask the questions and to be embarrassed by those who do. Kana serves to help them learn, while Yaichi allows them to share that embarrassment, and come to understand that ignorance breeds that embarrassment, and fear. 

The Japanese volumes for this series also include LGBTQ-community terminology and history in short essays between chapters. Explanations of gay pride and same-sex marriage and what LGBTQ means are discussed without complication…for the audience of Yaichis for whom this manga is written. These essays have been left out of the English edition and I’m torn on whether I think that a good or bad thing.

While in Japanese, this series is 4 volumes, (Here are links to Okazu Reviews for  Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3, with Volume 4 being released in July 2017,) the English-language edition has broken the story into two beautifully-made hardcover volumes of approximately manga dimensions. The final pages include storyboard pages from the work. 

If you have not already read this manga, I highly suggest that it would be an excellent Pride Month read.

Ratings:

Art – 9
Story – 9
Characters – 10
LGBTQ – 10
Service – 4

Overall – 10

In America, this is an important and exceptional work – in Japan it is groundbreaking as a LGBTQ-themed fiction manga by an openly gay creator, running in a manga magazine for adult men. I hope it is beginning of positive change.

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Yuri Manga: After Hours, Volume 1 (English)

June 19th, 2017

In Yuhta Nishio’s After Hours, Volume 1, Emi is suffering an introvert’s worst nightmare – being stuck alone at a loud venue surrounded by strangers and unable to find the friend she was there to meet. After having discomfort increased by being hit on, Emi is paralyzed until she’s rescued by Kei, a woman a little older than herself, but who seems far more self-assured and mature.

Kei takes Emi home. They sleep together, and, when Emi wakes up the next day, she finds her life completely changed for the more interesting, as she’s drawn into Kei’s creative work and her love of life.

This is a manga about Japanese millennials; two women creating something out of the little enough society is prepared to give them. It’s charming and lively as a story, with decent characters. Despite the moe art (especially on the cover, where it’s almost creepily infantilizing,) both Emi and Kei are adult women with adult responses to situations. The story in Volume 1 has no room for histrionics or melodrama and the characters do not tends towards either. The translation by Abby Lehrke leans a very little to hip which will undoubtedly wear poorly, but was otherwise perfectly competent. I want to nod in appreciation to all the production side folks, lettering, touch-up, editing and design, as these have become good enough that we no longer notice them. This is as it should be, but I remember when it wasn’t, so thanks Viz and staff for giving us the authentic manga reading experience we’d like.

As one of the few Yuri manga I have read first in English, having skipped the Japanese volume altogether, I ws cautiously optimistic, but I find myself very interested in what Volume 2 will bring both women. Whether they stay together or not (and I don’t require that of them) I have enjoyed our time together.

Ratings:

Art – 5, YMMV, but I rolled my eyes hard at the cover and found the moe blob faces on the women – but not the men – really irksome.
Story – 8 Enjoyable and plausible
Characters – 9 I’d gladly buy them a drink and hear their stories of club life
Service – Not really, even in the sex scene, which was drawn for nice, rather than creepy
Yuri – 9

Overall – 8

Volume 2 does not yet have a release date in America, it’s going to be released in July in Japan. If you’ve read scans or the Japanese volume, kindly don’t spoiler us here, I’d like to just read this one on it’s own. Thank you for your consideration.

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Yuri Manga: Kase-san and Bento (English)

June 12th, 2017

To begin this review of Seven Seas’ release of Kase-san and Bento, I want to discuss something that may appear irrelevant – the way words work.

In Japanese, the titles of this series are written – XYZ to Kase-san – . Asagao to Kase-san, Obentou to Kase-san, Shortcake to Kase-san. So, when the next book comes out Apron to Kase-san (エプロンと加瀬さん。), it will “scan” perfectly fine. The title formula is “everyday object + Kase-san’s name.” Very simple.

When one doesn’t understand how words scan – how they feel, and sound and fit together, when one imagines that the title of this series can be flipped, to “Kase-san and XYZ” and doesn’t realize that the scan has been killed, one gets an awkward title like “Kase-san and Apron” that one then feels obliged to do something with. And this, kids, is why someone needed to have said, “don’t flip the title, it ruins the scan.”  This one thing aside, this is really a wonderful book. Shout outs to translator Jocelyne Allen, adapter Jenn Grunigen, and all the folks on the technical side, including the retouch and letterer, because that’s a brutal job.

Kase-san and Bento is an excellent English release of a charming Japanese Yuri manga that explores the development of a relationship between two young women, one of whom has no self-confidence. It’s a little painful to watch Yamada fail to trust her own or Kase-san’s feelings, but it’s delightful to see Kase-san step up and be a decent friend as well as good partner. Yamada may not trust herself, but Kase-san clearly trusts her and it feels…just right.

 Great looking book that’s satisfying to read even for this long-time Yuri fan.

Ratings:

Art – 8 
Story – 8
Character – 8
Yuri – 8
Service – 5 There is a fair dollop of service as both Yamada and Kase are starting to be interested in each other’s bodies, accompanied by a even larger dollop of awkwardness.

Overall – 8

As I said in my review of the Japanese volume, I find myself wanting desperately to hug both of them and invite them over for tea, so they can see that sometimes we do get a happily-ever-after, after all. ^_^

Thanks once again to the folks at Seven Seas for the review copy, I went and bought myself a print volume anyway, because I love this series and want to support it!

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Yuri Manga: Revolutionary Girl Utena, Volume 2 (English)

June 4th, 2017

The second volume of the Revolutionary Girl Utena Manga Complete Deluxe Box Set remains complex and uncomfortable right until an ending that was much better than I remembered it being.

The primary conflict in the final arc of the Revolutionary Girl Utena anime, appears to be between Utena and Akio. In the manga version, the Student Council has been set to the side, neutralized by Anthy in order to set Utena up for Akio. 

But, like the anime, something happens just as Anthy is set to betray Utena. She begins to believe that Utena can set her free. And here in the manga, that changes everything. Freedom changes Anthy in a way that gives one hope. (And inspires one to write fanfic.)

The art here at the end of the manga arc is strong and hyper-romantic, very suitable for the magazine it ran in, Flowers, I believe it was. I wish there was a color version of Utena-Dios, because you just know she looked amazing in her white and lavender Council uniform. ^_^ 

The complete set includes Juri’s sidestory, which sadly focuses on Ruka, rather than Shiori. And the final section of the collection covers the manga version of the Revolutionary Girl Utena Movie: Adolescence of Utena. This manga volume was the precise moment when I started understanding the literary roots of Yuri Manga and for that, I have a lot of fondness for the thing. The story focuses on two not-really-real relationships, Utena’s adoration of Touga and Anthy’s adoration of (an even more horrible than in the TV manga) Akio. But it ends with the same relationship the TV manga does – Utena and Anthy, finding healing and friendship and love in one another. No wonder we all wrote so much damn fanfic. ^_^ 

 The art of the movie manga has already leveled up significantly from the earliest chapters of the television series manga, and still holds up well enough to satisfy an older audience. The deluxe set wraps up with two short notes by manga artist Chiho Saito and director Ikuhara Kinihiko.

Ratings:

Art- 8 Solid, stylish, with moments of brilliance 
Story – 8 A much better ending than I remembered 
Characters – 8 Touga and Juri end up better than expected, Miki and Saionji suffer and Akio gets extra helpings of awful. Anthy is even more complex and interesting.
Service – 5 Creepy non-con seductions and slapping so…mostly violence against women’s autonomy, with a side of bullshitty consent issues.
Yuri- 7 Anthy and Utena 4ever. <3

I love that between the two Utena manga, anime and movie there are four unique versions of this story and each one ends centered around a relationship built on friendship and hope and love.

One last note – I’m pretty sure I have all the Utena artbooks, but there is a color image in this set that I have never seen before. I refer to it as the “Takarazuka” image, as Utena is wearing a feather back piece and both her and Anthy’s outfits are unusually sparkly. I like it a lot. ^_^ It’s yet another good reason to get this complete manga deluxe set!

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