Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of Sailor Moon Eternal Edition Vols. 1 & 2 and Mob Psycho 100 Vol. 1

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Manga Style?

On this episode of The Comics Alternative/s manga series — the November show, albeit a little late — Shea and Derek take a look at two series that give us a varied understanding of the medium. They begin with the first two volume’s of Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon Eternal Edition (Kodansha Comics). This is a classic shojo series from the 1990s, and as the guys discuss, it’s something that they’ve heard about for years, but it’s not a title that they actually read. Both Derek and Shea are quite surprised with the story, in that it’s quite different from what they expected…and in a good way. The guys discuss Takeuchi’s visual style, the complex layering of her story elements, and the fantastical tone of the narrative, among other aspects.

After that, the Two Guys check out One’s Mob Psycho 100, Vol. 1 (Dark Horse Manga). This is the latest translated manga from the creator of One-Punch Man, which Shea and Derek discussed on the September 2015 show. Both enjoy this new (for English speakers) series, and it stands out from One-Punch Man in that One does both the writing and the art. In fact, they spend a bit of time discussing One’s aesthetic, the art’s “flatness” and simplicity. Some may not appreciate the style, but both of the guys are taken by not only One’s storytelling abilities, but his illustrations, as well. They do mention in one long storyline the narrative seemed to drag, but other than that, it’s a title, along with the new editions of Sailor Moon, that the guys heartily recommend.

Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of Claudine and Tokyo Tarareba Girls, Vol. 1

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Back on Track!

This is the June manga episode, and unlike Shea and Derek had been doing the past couple of shows, this month’s manga episode actually comes out on the appropriate month…on time! And on the June show, the Two Guys discuss Riyoko Ikeda’s Claudine (Seven Seas Entertainment), a shōjo narrative set in historical France. The titular figure is a trans man, feeling trapped inside of his female body. Claudine’s journey takes him through several relationships, a lot of disappointments, and frustrations on not being understood. Next, Shea and Derek discuss the first volume of Akiko Higashimura’s new series, Tokyo Tarareba Girls (Kodansha Comics). While the style of this josei series is similar to Princess Jellyfish, the focus is more mature — and even more comedic — than that of her previous series. The guys discuss both the comedy and the messaging that seems to come through the story proper, and then contrast that tone with that of the “Bonus Story” that ends this first volume.

Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of Battle Angel Alita: Deluxe Edition, Vol. 1 and Children of the Whales, Vol. 1

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Post-Apocalyptic Takes

On this episode of The Comics Alternative‘s manga series, Shea and Derek discuss two recent publications that, in one way or another, explore a post-apocalyptic world. They begin with a classic, the first volume of Yukito Kishiro’s Battle Angel Alita. Kodansha Comics has recently started to release this legendary cyberpunk series in nice deluxe hardbound editions — the second deluxe volume is due for release in late February — and the guys are excited that the title is back in print. Neither Shea nor Derek was familiar with Battle Angel Alita before, outside of hearing about the upcoming James Cameron/Robert Rodriguez film adaptation due out in 2018, but now both are hooked. In their overview, the guys highlight the kinetic quality of the illustrations, the ways in which Kishiro contextualizes even his most nasty characters, the complexities (and embedded mysteries) of his storyworld, and the ways in which he visualizes the title character…which, for Shea at least, is a little problematic.

Next, they look at Abi Umeda’s Children of the Whales, Vol. 1 (VIZ Media). This is another post-apocalyptic narrative — at least the guys think things are set in a post-apocalyptic world — and the storyworld that Umeda maps out is quite complex. In fact, as Derek suggests, there are so many nuances in this first volume that the story runs the risk of toppling over due to sheer ambiguity. However, the author is able to maintain a comprehendible balance in her tale, although several passages may require more than one reading. There are a lot of questions posed in this book, and while Derek is willing to continue on in future volumes to get the fuller picture, Shea isn’t as enamored of the story. While he admires Umeda’s art, he feels that the story’s premise, especially as it relates to the Committee of Elders, may be a bit too predictable. Still, Derek feel that the volume is worth checking out.

Comics Alternative, Webcomics: Reviews of Isle of Elsi, Late Bloomer, and Carriers

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  • 00:00:28 – Introduction
  • 00:03:03 – Eisner Award nominees announced
  • 00:10:04 – Isle of Elsi
  • 00:47:30 – Late Bloomer
  • 01:09:44 – Carriers
  • 01:31:32 – Wrap up
  • 01:32:31 – Contact us

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Very Punny

Sean and Derek are back with your monthly dose of webcomics analysis. Before they jump into their reviews, however, they spending a little time discussing the recent announcement of this year’s nominees for the Eisner Awards. The guys will devote next month’s episode to the actual webcomics nominated, so they don’t go into much detail this time, but they do mention the big news that the judges have tried to distinguish “webcomics” from “digital comics”…albeit rather ineptly. Tune in next month for more in-depth discussion on this matter!

But for May, Sean and Derek already have plenty to consider. They begin with Alec Longstreth’s Isle of Elsi, an all-age fantasy with a penchant for word play. Both of the guys are bowled away by this webcomic, one of the most impressive that they’ve discussed on the show. Not only are the art and storytelling top-notch, but the design of the website is a big draw, as well. (And while you’re at it, check out the Two Guys’ 2014 interview with Longstreth.)

Next, they turn to another webcomic from Webtoons, Late Bloomer. Written and drawn by Zealforart (AKA Tiffany Woodall), this is a shōjo-inspired romance about a young woman with a flower bud growing out of her belly, a family condition that can only be overcome with her being “deflowered.” Yes, it is quite an unusual premise.

Finally, Derek and Sean wrap up with Lauren R. Weinstein’s Carriers. This completed webcomic was originally published in five parts on the Nautilus website, and it received an Ignatz Award nomination in 2015 for the “Outstanding Online Comic” category. It’s a sobering look at being a carrier of cystic fibrosis and what means for young couples wanting to start a family.

Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of Revolutionary Girl Utena Complete Deluxe Box Set and Ghost in the Shell Deluxe Edition

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A Deluxe Show!

On this episode of the manga series — a few days later than expected — Shea and Derek discuss two new deluxe editions of older titles. They begin with Revolutionary Girl Utena Complete Deluxe Box Set, soon to be released by VIZ Media. This is a different kind of shōjo, one that the guys don’t often encounter, and an aspect that makes this title stand out is its conceptual genesis. Revolutionary Girl Utena was conceived by the creative team known as Be-Papas but written and drawn by Chiho Saito (also a  member of Be_Papas). Shea and Derek discuss the “collaborative feel” of its genesis and the unusual mix of characters, costumes, and scenarios that define the series.

Next, the guys turn to a new deluxe edition of Masamune Shirow’s classic Ghost in the Shell, just released by Kodansha Comics. The paperback versions of this title, and of the two follow-up volumes, are still in print, but Kodansha now has these wonderful new hardbound editions. The new Ghost in the Shell volumes stand out because for the first time in English, the story is presented in the original right-to-left reading order, they retain the author’s original hand-drawn sound effects, the translation has been updated, and everything has been done under the author’s supervision. Both Shea and Derek have a great time revisiting Ghost in the Shell, and they hope that Kodansha will be bringing back more of Shirow’s manga — e.g., Appleseed and Dominion — in these nice deluxe editions.

Deconstructing Comics #487: Maya Kern and “Monster Pop!”

Monster Pop!Maya Kern‘s “Monster Pop!” features monsters and humans living together at a university. In Kern’s mind, it’s like, and also not like, shojo manga. How so?

This week, Tim talks with Maya about the increased acceptance of gay characters in comics; the problems with blogging from a character’s point of view (and of making your character a musician); why comics conventions are good for connections, but anime conventions are good for making money; repetitive strain injury, online comics promotion (Tapastic, Patreon), and more.

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Deconstructing Comics #371: “Nana”: Don’t hate it because it’s shojo

nana“What?!” I hear you say. “Deconstructing Comics doing a whole show on a girls’ manga?” Ye of little faith! Have we ever steered you wrong? It may look like nothing but a sappy romance comic, but Ai Yazawa’s Nana features realistic, conflicted characters who deal with romance, infidelity, coming of age, fame, and rock & roll from all angles. It also boasts some fantastic storytelling techniques, so there’s plenty here for comics fans of all stripes to enjoy. Tim and Kory discuss.

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Deconstructing Comics #336: “A Drunken Dream”

A Drunken Dream - Iguana Girl

Up until the late ’60s, Japanese girls’ comics were mainly done by men, and could often be formulaic and sappy. But then several female creators broke into the field and revolutionized the genre. One of them was Moto Hagio, whose stories (even when they had science fiction aspects to them) dwelt on not fitting in, losing what you love, and other themes that could be depressing, but were usually expressed in innovative and compelling ways. Little of her work is available in English, but Fantagraphics released an overview of her work, A Drunken Dream and Other Stories, two years ago. Tim and Kumar review.

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Deconstructing Comics #334: “Magic Knight Rayearth”

Magic Knight RayearthIn the early ’90s, girls’ comics in Japan took a superheroesque turn with the appearance of Sailor Moon. It was shortly followed by CLAMP’S Magic Knight Rayearth, featuring three 14-year-old girls in a world that reminded them of RPGs.

A few years later, Tokyo Pop and other US publishers took the risk of releasing girls’ comics stateside, with unexpected success. Yes, American girls WILL read comics!

Manga critic Shaenon Garrity joins Tim to talk about the ’90s evolution of shojo manga and its debut in the States, and the place of Magic Knight Rayearth part 1 in that mix.