Archive for the Magazines Category

Kase-san Manga on LINE Comics, Guest Review by Verso S

April 5th, 2017
Welcome to Guest Review Wednesday here at Okazu! We’ve had more guest reviews than ever this year and they are all so fantastic If you’re enjoying the Guest Reviews, I hope you’ll consider subscribing to Okazu, so we can pay our Guest Reviewers!  
We reported on YNN that the Kase-san manga series was being continued on Japanese phone platform LINEManga (LINE マンガ – ).  Today Verso S. is writing to us from Hiroshima to let us know how it’s working! 
For those of you unfamiliar with LINE, it’s a phone app that began as a communication platform, based in SMS, like the popular BBSs were, but expanded out past person- or group-based communication as a publishing platform. Of course there are also companies with promotions, that almost gos without saying. There is a LINE that can be downloaded in th US, but it is not as fully featured as the JP version. However, even US LINE can be used for SMS communications in Japan, which has been useful to me in the past. 
Please welcome Verso who will give us a walkthrough of the Kase-san manga on LINE!
The Kase-san series started over free of charge from “chapter 1, Asagao to…” on LINEManga, while the “Shinshokan viewer” gives free access to the latest chapter.
LINEmanga: Weekly serialisation. The second chapter, “Jitensha to” was simultaneously hosted and became immediately available to those who share it (LINE, Facebook, Twitter). Without sharing that second chapter becomes accessible after one week, on next Tuesday, when “chapter three, Love song to” will be added on the same conditions. etc. 
Chapters released appear to remain free. Operation is smooth and glorious, on computer and mobile app.  No frills. Flip pages or use of clickable arrows and a zoom function.
The series is tagged: Love story. There is no Yuri tag on the platform. The brief description on the series’ own page does include a tiny Yuri reference since it is mentioned, and also tagged Hirari in addition to tags for the names of the mangaka and the publishing company – so it appears in the lists for those respective categories in the LINEmanga catalogue. eBooks of the first tankoubon will be available for a charge, ¥864, on LINEmanga as well.
“Shinshokan viewer”:  No registration required. Gives free access to the latest chapter for a limited time (Month). As standalone or as part of the web magazine Wings. In addition, however, the publisher’s page for the series also gives free access to previews from the existing three tankoubon as ebooks. With the option to purchase them as full ebooks. They also sell their print editions. Ebook operation is as smooth and glorious, on computer, as reading the chapters. No frills. Flip pages, arrows and zoom. 
Is there a regional block on access to LINEmanga? Have you tried login in to the messaging app via either a LINEme account or with a Facebook ID to set up a LINE account? Provided there is no geo-restriction, that ID will then work with the LINEmanga readers too. The set-up is done by registering a new account within the messaging app on a mobile device. Requiring either Email or sms code verification.Once authenticated the general LINEme ID and Password will then give access to the LINEmanga readers as well.  The same geo restrictions may apply for the Shinshokan reader as well… 

LINEmanga: Kase-san stayed on schedule. “Story 3, Love Song” was posted at midnight, Tuesday. Immediately available for those sharing it or available next week for those who don’t. 

The next installment will be interesting. If the pattern from other series is followed, these first three chapters will remain free, as preview chapters. The fourth chapter and subsequent releases will eventually slip behind an individual chapter paywall, usually after one month. For that one month period the later chapters can be read free of charge, but after that first month a small fee, ¥30~50 will be charged per chapter to gain access.

This is turning into running LINEmanga software commentary rather than a readers first impression of the Kase-san series on that platform. Which has been positive for us in every regard.

The series are all well behind the actual release schedules in the official magazines, print or web, for ongoing series but for titles re-serialised on LINEmanga the last four installments will thus be free at any given time throughout the re-release period on that platform.

Each tankoubon will be made available on that platform’s schedule as well. Usually the first chapter of each volume will be offered free within that tankoboun, as a preview. For other titles the entire first volume may remain free, as a preview. Kodansha’s Chihayafuru is such a title. Currently the first three volumes are listed ¥0 and they can be downloaded or added to a cloud-like bookshelf in their entirety. Though ongoing that series is not serialised on LINEmanga, however. Just the books are offered.

A lot of different publishers are present on LINEmanga and their titles are all offered on the same software without the necessity to hunt down each publisher’s own site. Without the necessity to switch apps when you want to continue reading the “next” chapter of a different series from a different magazine or publishing company, though it won’t be the “very latest” chapter. Each company comes with their own pricing arrangement and slight variations in their conditions for access. Minor variations like any other one-stop book store before eTexts.

Kase-san and all the other series do look very good, picture wise, on our systems, crisp images, nice and easily readable text, and they all function to our satisfaction but there are slightly different experiences with the operation that I should be careful not to conflate. Some titles which are accessible on our iPad but can’t be opened on our Mac, for example, though they’re accessed from the same LINE account. As noted before, someone with a Phone Number based LINE account seems to have the smoothest experience with its operation. Which seems to have more to do with the Phone Number based set up than with the OS, based on the “error” messages … though that’s out of my league to assess more broadly.

The same is true for Kuzu no Honkai, a currently ongoing manga series with a currently airing anime and Live Action drama adaptations.

All six volumes of Octave are also available as tankoubon on LINEManga for  ¥540 per volume. One other Akiyama title is also offered.

Fx’s Aoi Hana is here too, while Shimura’s Koiiji is being re-serialzied from Kiss magazine.

A lot of Hirari titles are here as well. So are some of the Tsubomi titles, though not tagged as such. Mizutani Fuuka’s series for example. Tagged with the mangaka’s name, with Hakusensha and with TL. And so is  Takemiya Jin, represented with 12 titles, with the same tagging system, but with different pricing. Some of her tankoubon are tagged Comic Yuri Hime, publisher and TL.Steps is priced ¥648 p/volume, Omoi no Kakera ¥802, Seasons ¥864.

There is a TL tag and a BL tag but there are no Yuri or GL tags on LINEmanga, for the moment.

It seems petty to complain when confronted with such luxury but there are also the Geo-location barriers. Which place me on the other side of the wall compared to you. I can get access to previews of Kodansha USA’s recent Chihayafuru eBook release in English, for example, but I can’t buy that book nor their other English titles because of my location. I can stroll into a bookstore, brick and virtual, minutes after the latest Japanese edition in that series becomes available.

Erica here: Well, wow. That was an amazingly comprehensive review. Based on all of this, I still think Kadokawa’s Bookwlaker might have an advantage, since there appear to be no geographic restrictions, but LINEManga has made pretty fast progress in that area!

Thank you again Verso for this  detailed review of the LINEManga system!

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Yuri Manga: Comic Yuri Hime April 2017 (コミック百合姫2017年4月号)

March 27th, 2017

Yep…monthly is really pushing my limits. ^_^  But let me tell you, what a problem to have! Ten years ago, I trawled the shelves of used manga stores obsessively, looking for hints of Yuri in this series or that, or an homage anthology that paired up characters in a not-gross way. (Still am appalled at all the Sakaki-san and the creepy cat from Azumanga Daioh doujinshi back in 2003.) Just to find something to blog about. And here I am, with an excess of Yuri. I am not complaining, I assure you. ^_^

So here we are looking a Comic Yuri Hime, April 2017 (コミック百合姫2017年4月号) and I find we have another problem, slight though it might be. We’re 4 issues in and a number of the newer series are starting to fall apart already. No surprise, as they weren’t stories, they were story ideas. Gag concepts only carry you so far. Of these “Holmes-san ga Suiri dekinai” by Nemachi Dorumaru has suffered the largest collapse. It hasn’t really been Yuri, and now that it is, it’s actually become less interesting.

However, there were still a goodly number of fair-to middling series. Of the ones that work best, “Now Loading”, “Watashi no Yuri ha Oshigoto desu!” and 2DK, G Pen, Mezamashitokei” are still my standout three. That they all seem to be about women working is just coincidence, I am absolutely sure.  ^_^ “Watashi no Yuri ha Oshigoto desu!” deserves a special mention, for having added female customers to the Yuri cafe, which I had previously noticed were absent. 

I also liked the go-nowhere “Hakushi no Kanata” by Hamuro Kei. This is pure one-shot stuff, but it was a nice bittersweet “what might have been, if only” tale that could change a life which was quite nice. And “Demi-Lfe” and “Roku + Ichi Sodarashi” are still forced and a little fun, even though they don’t have much substance. 


Overall – 7

So, points off for the complete dissolution of “Holmes-san” but holding steady else wise.  Let’s see how long this can be sustained. I pick up the May issue tonight. ^_^

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Yuri Manga: Comic Yuri Hime March 2017 (コミック百合姫2017年3月号)

February 13th, 2017

Comic Yuri Hime March 2017 (コミック百合姫2017年3月号) continues with the same variety of Yuri that we’ve come to expect from magazine this year. That said, there’s a definite slant towards the moe….understandably, as it’s easier to drawn simplified faces than it is to draw detailed art.

Which is why I genuinely treasure Ohsawa Yayoi’s “2DK, G Pen, Mezamashitokei”. About to go into a 4th volume (yay!) this series continues to be very much about adults and, in this chapter does something completely unexpected. Well, at least I certainly didn’t expect it. ^_^ As an aside, I wonder if Nanami is at all aware that pretty much every other woman she has ever met has fallen for her.

In “Watashi no Yuri ha Oshigoto desu!” The one stereotype the Yuri cafe doesn’t cover – the best friend with a crush – rears it’s head and the cafe ends up with a new employee. I have no idea if this story will develop into anything particularly, but I’m willing to ride along for however long it stays silly.

Hitoto’s “Shuumatsu nanishini ikou?” sticks with giving us more detail about keeping fish than I, uh, expected it to. Fish it is. Okay then.

“Holmes-san ga Suiri dekinai” by Nemachi Dorumaru continues to be a parody of every mystery series ever and Ohi Pikachi’s “Demi Life” is already getting self-referential. I hope they will both break out of their niches and become real stories soon.

“Roku + Ichi Sodarashi” is still pretty much Hidamari Sketch, by a different artist, with Yuri. That part’s refreshing.

I still love Mikanuji’s “Now Loading” for it’s how-to tutorial on game development and honest look at the hours one pulls working in a small gamedev company. That this story feels “real” to me is the best part about it. That it also is Yuri is just icing on the cake. ^_^

Comic Yuri Hime is advertising pretty hard for editorial assistants right now, so if you’re still young and want to work in the manga world, are located in Japan and looking to get a position with a company that has never been positioned better to grow, take a look at the Comic Yuri Hime‘s advert for people wanting “Yuri Work.”


Overall – 8

This March issue appears to be sold out in print on Amazon JP at the moment, but folks with Japanese IP addresses will be able to get it through Kindle and you can get it digitally outside Japan on Bookwalker Global as a single issue or as a subsciption.

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Yuri Manga: Comic Yuri Hime February 2017 (コミック百合姫2017年2月号)

January 24th, 2017

Wow, it’s still so novel to have to review Comic Yuri Hime on a monthly basis! I can totally see this getting backlogged. I’m like 3 volumes behind on Rakuen Le Paradis and that’s still quarterly. orz

The opening salvo of  Comic Yuri Hime February 2017 (コミック百合姫2017年2月号) is a charming, Yuri-less situation comedy parody of a detective series called “Holmes-san ga suiri dekinai” by Nemachi Dorumaru. 

Skipping a melodramatic sister-in-law love story for which I like the art, but not the plot, I’ll turn my attention once again to “Watashi no Yuri ha Shigoto desu!” by miman. Not only does it plumb for the most popular Yuri tropes, it adds a few new ones, then trots it all out in front of a crowd of faceless customers, (I wish there were at least a few female customers) to make something wholly squirm-worthy and interesting at the same time. My wife and I agree that I would not survive five minutes in a “Yuri cafe.” ^_^

In Ohsawa Yayoi’s “2DK, GPen, Mezamashitokei” the story is finally taking a real turn towards a relationship, as Nanami finally has a name put to her nascent feelings. Unbeknownst to her, however, Shirayuki has overheard this name as well.

In the time-switch series “Ashita, Kimi ni Aetara” everyone’s breasts are absurdly out of proportion to their bodies and clothes and it’s almost hard to like the protagonist as she tries to fake her way through a day, until it becomes too much for her and she – quite naturally – breaks down in horror at having no idea what is going on.

Hitoto* presents an interesting twist on a relationship with “Shuumatsu nanishini ikou?” in which a couple is so busy doing things the one likes that the other feels quite exhausted.

“Itsuka Minoreba,” in which a girl who is good at video games finds herself taken on and taken in by another girl who is a savant at games is quite moe and I couldn’t remember if it was running here or Comic Cune until I revisited the magazine.

“Roku + Ichi Sodarashi” is pretty much Hidamari Sketch, by a different artist.

Mikanuji’s “Now Loading” jumped right into serious territory and I have hopes that it will now develop at a more sincere pace. As one of few adult-life comics running, I have expectations!

I really like Ohi Pikachi’s “Demi Life,” although the idea of a human girl in a school for non-humans has been done. But apparently I still like it. ^_^

And the final story, “Elena” by Tamasaki Tama is a gentle paranormal short tale of a girl and a statue,  that felt like something I might have read back in the 90s.


Overall – 8

I left out a bunch, much of which I read. Only two stories are wholly unreadable to me at this point, which is a good percentage.

Now, let’s talk Yuri. Quite a lot of the stories here are new and have not yet developed any.But then there’s “2DK, GPen, Mezamashitokei” which has taken a full 4 volumesto develop the very beginning of the relationship. So either, Comic Yuri Hime editors and readers have developed some patience, or they have longer term plans for some of these stories…or it’s just a fluke. Feels weird though, reading some of these and wondering “where’s the Yuri?” It’s not a complaint, really, just a comment and I’m sure that for some of these stories when the Yuri arrives, I won’t like that, either. ^_^ (I’m human, folks. I get to be fickle.)

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Yuri Manga: Comic Yuri Hime January 2017 (コミック百合姫2017年1月号)

December 20th, 2016

As of this issue, Comic Yuri Hime is now the very first monthly Yuri magazine! Congrats to the CYH team at Ichijinsha!

I was really interested to see how this issue was going to land. My philosophy about manga magazines is that the stories don’t all have to appeal to me, but there has to be at least a few stories I like for me to continue reading. And, as there had been a strong tendency towards sexual fetishization of Yuri in 2016 issues, I was understandably a little ambivalent.

Overall, I felt that Comic Yuri Hime, January 2017 (コミック百合姫2017年1月号) was pretty good. ^_^

The cover story they went with got my hopes up. Yes, the story is called  “Hatsukoi” and it’s clearly a first love tale, but the art, while typical school girl stuff is much less blobby-faced than it has been.  That’s always a good sign in my book.

Right off the bat, the first two stories weren’t the same old, same old. In Aoto Hibiki’s “Ashita, Kimi ni Aetara” (subtitled in English, Tomorrow, I will tell you, “I love you.”), what starts as an fairly stilted “Story A” becomes a tale of a time warp, when the lead falls asleep and wakes up 15 years in the future, with a family. Let’s be honest, we all know that’ll it all have been a dream, but at least it’s different.

This is followed by what may turn out to be a new favorite story, “Watashi no Yuri ha Oshigoto desu!” (subtitled in German, Schewestern in Liebe. And how funny would that be if the foreign language subtitles were a running gag, but, sadly, it’s not.) Shiraki Hime is an exceedingly cute girl and, through circumstances ends up at a Yuri cafe, in which every employee has taken on a typical Yuri stereotype. There’s the ojousama type, the bookish girl, the predatory lesbian and she, naturally is the cute little-sister type. The reality is far less rarified and beautiful. This story had me grinning from ear to ear.  I love when manga stories wallow in Yuri tropes without being defined by them.

Also new is a story by Tomonori about a young woman who lives with (and is falling in love with) her sister-in-law. I know, I know, but… Uta-chan came to live with her older brother and his wife when her parents died and while her brother is gone, she and Kaoru are living together. I’ve got hopes for this story, we’ll see.

“Now Loading” seems to be a workplace story about a woman who gets a job at a much admired game design company and finds her work just not meeting her manager’s standards. This one is setting up to be a pretty straightforward office romance with the tough boss, but count me in on that. ^_^

“Roku+Ichikurashi” by Umehara Ume is a cute little tale of women’s dorm life reminiscent of Hidamari Sketch and I don’t think that’s accidental, given the artist’s name.

Comic Yuri Hime is looking for some new staff. Check out the ad in the magazine, if you’re interested. 

“Itsuka Minoreba” by Nishi Asuka has exceptionally moe art but the story appears to be about a hardcore gamer girl finding a protege/rival.

“2DK, GPen Mezamashitokei” finally takes a Yuri turn, as Nanami is forced by Aoi to finally own up to her feelings about Kaede. Now, here’s my hope…that it isn’t just “they get together, the end.” This couple is going to need some time to actually develop and if we can spend a whole volume on a side character, the main couple deserves a few volumes to themselves.

I kind of really have no idea what the story is in “Nanahara Shino ha Futsu ja nai” but the title is accurate. Shino wears a sword and is way too easy about drawing it, ostensibly to protect Tsuruko-sempai.

The Yuri Goddess appears in Minamoto Hisanari’s “Kanaete! Yuri Yosei” She basically appears to fuck with the Shiroyuri Yosei.

Ohi Pikachi’s “Demi Life!” follows the adventures of a human girl in a school for half-gods, half-human magical creatures and other “demis.”

And the volume wraps up with “Sleeping Princess” by Katakura Ako, which is much less cute that it sounds. I’m really starting to like Katakura-sensei’s anti-hero leads.

Of course, there are other series, “Yuri Yuri” inexplicably continues, as does “Citrus” and several unspeakably awful stories which remain unnnamed. But for a premiere issue of the new, monthly Comic Yuri Hime, I was fairly pleased with it!


Overall – 8

I can’t tell you how pleased I was at the general lineup. Not just one Story-A after another. The February issue is already out in Japan. 

Don’t forget, you can get Monthly Comic Yuri Hime digitally (in Japanese) on Bookwalker.JP!

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