Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of Dead Dead Demon’s De De De De Destruction, Vol. 1, The Troublemakers, and Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku, Vol. 1

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Fully Loaded

On the last episode in The Comics Alternative‘s monthly manga series — a show that was supposed to be the May episode, but was actually a late April show — Shea and Derek promised that they would provide an additional manga episode at the very end of May, and that that show would be the real May show. As reality unfolded, the two guys had problems in coordinating their schedules and being available at the same time. And as a result, you get this episode. But it’s an extra-long episode, one that includes discussions of not two but three recent manga releases.

They begin with the first volume in a the latest series from one of their favorites, Inio Asano. Dead Dead Demon’s De De De De Destruction (VIZ Media) is an unusual work that, in many ways, reminds the guys of Goodnight Punpun they reviewed in March 2016, a title that they especially loved. And they appreciate this new work at least as much. This new book begins as a realistic narrative of Tokyo schoolgirls and their everyday interactions at school. Soon, though, the reader discover that this is not a normal environment, but one where the city is, literally, living under the shadow of a giant mysterious spaceship that visited them three years previously.

Next they turn to a notable new release from Retrofit/Big Planet Comics, Baron Yoshimoto’s The Troublemakers. Translated and edited by Ryan Holmberg, this is a collection of six short works of gekiga that vary in narrative approach, theme, and (to a lesser degree) style. All of these pieces were originally released between 1966 and 1974, and in a variety of publications. The volume ends with a magnificent essay, providing history and context, by the book’s editor. This book marks the first translation of Yoshimoto’s into English.

The guys conclude with a completely different kind of book, Fujita’s Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku, Vol. 1 (Kodansha Comics). The title is a series of episodes — think of a sitcom — of a small group of young workers, all of whom are otaku (those with obsessive interests in very specific, especially fan-based, media and culture) and interact in everyday scenarios, at work and otherwise. The guys aren’t near as enthusiastic about this work as they are with the others reviewed in this episode. However, Derek is more open to Wotakoi than Shea. In fact, Shea even wonders if the emphases in this series may not even be counterproductive, if not harmful, to consumer health.

Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of Red Colored Elegy and The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1

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Demonic Relationships

Shea and Derek are back with their February manga episode. This month they look at two titles that, in many ways, are diametrically opposite in terms of style and audience. They begin with Seiichi Hayashi’s Red Colored Elegy, the softcover edition of which has just been released from Drawn and Quarterly. This is the story of two young artists cohabiting and the struggles they endure with their families, they work, and their relationship with one another. But there’s much more going on in this narrative, as the guys abundantly point out. This is an experimental work that was originally serialized in Garo during the early 1970s, and Hayashi’s variations in visual style, along with his employment of nonconventional storytelling techniques, are what make this such an intriguing and significant work.

After that, Shea and Derek discuss the first volume of Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu’s The Promised Neverland (VIZ Media). It’s a fantastical, and even futuristic, series about a community of orphans who learn that their comfortable life is undergirded by demonic forces. Both of the guys appreciate Demizu’s art, and they’re intrigued by the series’ premise. At the same time, they wonder about some of the choices the creators made toward the end of this first volume, especially regarding narrative focalization. But they’re both interested in seeing how things develop and if, indeed, Shirai’s storytelling choices turn out to be effective as the plot unfolds. VIZ Media released the second volume of the series earlier this month, but the guys weren’t able to get copies of that text in time for this recording (despite reaching out several times to the publisher’s publicity department).

Episode 264: Our Favorite Comics of 2017

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  • 00:00:27 – Introduction
  • 00:03:14 – Contexts and caveats
  • 00:11:32 – Our favorite comics of 2017
  • 02:09:06 – Wrapping up our favorites, and honorable mentions
  • 02:13:52 – Contact us

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And the Winner Is…

Paul and Derek are back with The Comics Alternative‘s annual “Favorites” episode. This is where the Two Guys share what they consider to be the best comics of the past year. Usually this year-end show is released as the very last regular review episode of each year, but this time around the guys had to postpone the recording due to family issues. But we’re not far from the end of 2017, and Paul and Derek wanted to get the show out in as timely a manner as possible. So here you have it, the Two Guys’ 10 favorite titles of 2017:

Paul’s Top 10 of 2017

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Derek’s Top 10 of 2017

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The Honorable Mentions…These Titles Almost, but Just Didn’t Quite, Make It onto Each Guy’s List

For Paul

For Derek

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, Manga: Reviews of My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness and Golden Kamuy

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Getting Real

It’s the end of the month, so that must mean that it’s time for Shea and Derek to discuss their latest manga recommendations. They begin with Kabi Nagata’s My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness (Seven Seas Entertainment), a deeply personal autobiographical work whose title is perhaps more provocative than it is revealing. In fact, the guys spend a good bit of time talking about the underlying impulses embedded in the text and how sexual preferences take a backseat to the deeper longings that Nagata reveals. This is a manga all about self-discovery, a diary-like account of the author’s attempts to understand herself within the context of her culture and her yearning for what she calls “next level communication.” As Derek and Shea highlight, this is in some ways an example yuri manga, but at the same time such a designation doesn’t do the text justice.

Next, they look at the first volume of Satoru Noda’s Golden Kamuy (VIZ Media). This is a more realistically based narrative that takes place in the wake of the Russo-Japanese War. The protagonist, Saichi Sugimoto, gained a reputation during the war as an almost invulnerable hero, but he lives his post-war years unsuccessfully prospecting for gold in the Hokkaido region. There he befriends a young Ainu woman, Asirpa, and together they begin hunting down a legendary hidden treasure with a violent pedigree. Both Shea and Derek appreciate the story’s realism and historical context — in many ways, this is a didactic text — but they’re not yet sure of how Noda will handle the indigenous Ainu culture. That being said, they’re both definitely on board for future volumes.

 

 

Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of Ichi-F: A Worker’s Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant and Platinum End

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Japanese Adam Sandler?

This month on The Comics Alternative‘s manga series, Shea and Derek check out two very different titles. They begin with Kazuto Tatsuta’s Ichi-F: A Worker’s Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant (Kodansha Comics). This is a 500+ page account of the reconstruction and cleanup in the wake of 2011’s disaster in Fukushima. As the guys discuss, the text does two things at once: provides objective reportage of the situation surrounding Fukushima and reveals the author’s very personal experiences  in securing and maintaining his role in the cleanup efforts. While both guys enjoyed the book, perhaps Derek more than Shea, they nonetheless wondered about Tatsuta’s background as a mangaka — “Kazuto Tatsuta” is a nom de plume, so it’s difficult to determine any bibliography — and any potential agenda (if any) underlying this work.

After their focus on real-world disaster, the guys move into the realm of fantasy. Platinum End (VIZ Media) is a current shōnen series from Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, the same team behind Bakuman and Death Note. The second English-language volume was just released this month, so the guys have enough story under their belts to get a secure feel for the art and narrative. As Derek explains, the premise appears a little on the hokey side, at least at first, but as things develop the story begins to take on a life of its own, one that soon hooks you. Much of this is because of Obata’s style, but there are also larger thematic issues that make this title worth exploring. The guys discourse over the text’s theological import, its engagement with gender identity, and its satiric commentary on contemporary popular culture. This is definitely a series that both Shea and Derek will continue reading.

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.

Comics Alternative, Manga: Review of Sunny and Discussions of Other Works by Taiyo Matsumoto

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The Young Ones

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  • 00:00:28 – Introduction
  • 00:02:36 – Catching up for the new year
  • 00:04:19 – Sunny
  • 01:09:40 – Other works by Matsumoto
  • 01:20:29 – Wrap up
  • 01:22:06 – Contact us

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This month on the manga show, Shea and Derek discuss the recently completed, Sunny, as well as other works by Taiyo Matsumoto. Late last year VIZ Media published the six and final volume of Sunny, a series that began in December 2010 in the original Japanese (published in Monthly Ikki), and has been coming out in English translation since the first volume in May 2013. This is a title that the guys have been wanting to discuss for some time, but they decided to hold out until the everything was wrapped up so that they could look at the series in its entirety.

This is a realistic, evenly paced drama about a group of orphans and outsiders residing at Star Kids Home, a foster home that serves as a refuse for children without family or whose parents do not have the means, or even the interest, in caring for them. Although this narrative functions with an ensemble cast, Shea and Derek feel that the de facto protagonist here is Haruo, an angry, troubled kid whose parents remain aloof. The series unfolds as Haruo interacts with the other children at the home, each of whom gets ample attention in the text, and the adults who try to make things manageable for them. The one central refuge in their lives, a space of safety and imagination, is a derelict Nissan Sunny 1200 that sits abandoned in the front yard of the Star Kids Home.

The guys spend most of the episode mapping out the various characters and their struggles in Sunny, but they also take the time to discuss other manga by Matsumoto, including Blue Spring (the original collected in 1993, and translated into English in 2004), Gogo Monster (2000/2009), the untranslated Takemitsuzamurai (2006-2010), and especially the Eisner Award-winning Tekkon Kinkreet, which originally ran from 1993-1994 and was collected as a one-volume English translation in 2007. As Shea points out, this is one of their favorite manga creators — for both guys — and they wanted to use this episode to dig deep into his art.

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Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of Tomie: Complete Deluxe Edition and Blame! Vol. 1 & Vol. 2

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Creepy and Goofy 

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It’s the final manga episode of the year, and to close out 2016 Shea and Derek discuss a couple of fascinating new editions of older manga. But first they talk about their holiday activities with one another and then go on to share the listener mail they received about their November manga episode. After that, it’s manga time! They begin with Junji Ito’s Tomie: Complete Deluxe Edition (VIZ Media). This volume brings together all of the previous Tomie stories, initially released in three separate books. As listeners of the podcast may know, Shea and Derek are big fans of Junji Ito, but this is the first time either of the guys have read this series. They point out both the similarities and the differences between this text (especially the early stories) and later Ito works such as Uzumaki and Gyo. Shea is particularly taken by Ito’s early, looser illustration style, while Derek focuses on the, at times, goofy scenarios surrounding Tomie. They’re weirder than even the most unusual premises you’ll find in Junji Ito.

After that, the guys turn to Tsutomu Nihei’s Blame! This series has also been previously published, but now Vertical Comics is releasing it in new master editions. The second volume was just published this month, and volume 3 is due out in March. So Shea and Derek limit their discussion to the story contained within these first two book. This is an action-heavy manga, and while this kind of graphic storytelling isn’t one of Derek’s favorites, it’s something that Shea absolutely loves. But both guys appreciate the incremental world building and especially Nihei’s astounding ability in representing The City, the vast post-apocalyptic landscape in which the story takes place. The bottom line is that both guys love the storyworld and plan to continue reading this series.

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Deconstructing Comics #524: “Assassination Classroom”

Assassination ClassroomHe’s taken a bite out of the moon! He’s threatening to destroy earth! He’s… teaching junior high? What is the many-tentacled Koro Sensei up to? Why is he up for letting a bunch of 14-year-olds try to kill him? Tim and Kumar talk about Yuusei Matsui’s Assassination Classroom – incomprehensible sound effects and all!

Deconstructing Comics site

Manga: Reviews of Various Horror Manga

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Weird Fireballs, Haunted Video Games, and a Naked Florence Nightingale 

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In celebration of the Halloween season, Shea and Derek devote October’s episode to a discussion of horror manga. This month they look at six — count them, six! — books, all of which embody the eerie holiday spirit in some way. That makes this a extra-long episode, clocking in at over two and a half hours, the longest manga show the Two Guys have ever produced. They begin with a classic example of horror manga, Hideshi Hino’s Hell Baby (Blast Books), and then move on to the medium’s most notable practitioner of the genre, Junji Ito and his 2014 collection Fragments of Horror (VIZ Media). They then turn up the creep factor with Usamaru Furuya’s Lychee Light Club (Vertical Comics) and Jun Abe’s Portus (VIZ Media). Finally, the guys conclude with two brand new titles from Kodansha Comics, Kazuhiro Fujita’s The Black Museum: The Ghost and the Lady, Book 1 and the shojo anthology Neo Parasyte F. The latter is a fifteen-story celebration of Hitoshi Iwaaki’s classic Parasyte series, which ran from 1988 to 1995. In their extensive discussions, Shea and Derek visit such topics as the juxtaposition of cute and gross, why the grotesque may become a writing crutch, the many uses of gender ambiguity, if video games are inherently spooky, and how Florence Nightingale can be quite sexy. That’s right, folks, it’s all here!

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Deconstructing Comics #502: “One Punch Man”

One Punch ManOne Punch Man was originally a crudely-drawn Web comic by a guy calling himself “One”. But then the story, with art by slick manga artist Yusuke Murata, was picked up for publisher Shueisha’s Young Jump Web Comics website in 2012. It subsequently became an anime, and the manga is available in English from Viz.

This week, Tim and Kumar take a look, to discuss whether the story is really served by Murata’s typical manga art, and the good and bad points of the comic as it exists.

Deconstructing Comics site

Deconstructing Comics #310 Takehiko Inoue’s “Slam Dunk” and “Vagabond”

Slam Dunk/VagabondFLASHBACK! Takehiko Inoue’s Slam Dunk is easily mistaken for a serious sports manga. Pick it up, though, and you’ll find instead a hilarious ensemble comedy that just happens to involve basketball. Still, the series is credited with basketball’s 90s popularity in Japan, and led Inoue to create several other basketball-related series. But is oeuvre isn’t all hoops; he’s also the creator behind Vagabond, a sometimes-violent but intriguing take on the life of 17th-century historical figure Miyamoto Musashi. Tim and Kumar dig into both series.

Originally published February 27, 2012

Deconstructing Comics site

Comic News Insider Episode 580 – Big Hero CNI

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Comic News Insider: Episode 580 is now available for free download! Click on the link or get it through iTunes! Sponsored by Dynamic Forces.

Reviews: American Legends #1, Humans #1, Penny Dora and the Wishing Box #1, Doctor Who, Big Hero 6

Last minute guest co-host cancellation so Jimmy flies solo this week! Been awhile since you’ve had him all to yourself SO ENJOY. News includes: Star Wars 7 gets a subtitle, Howard Shum has a great new KickstarterEvil Dead TV series is on the way, CM Punk to write a story in Thor annual, Doctor Doom character change for upcoming Fantastic Four remake, IDW to publish new Jack Kirby book, John Lasseter to direct Toy Story 4, hundreds of retro games free online, and Mark Wahlberg will the 6 Billion Dollar Man. Leave your iTunes comments! 5 stars and nothing but love!

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EMP Presents: B.Y.O.B. Episode 2

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Bring Your Own Book!  Alex, Corwin and Viet are joined by the Melanie J Starchilde of Nerd Goggles Podcast and Nerdcore Rapper Tribe One to talk about what we’ve been reading (Non Avengers and X-Men that is…).

Books covered:

Alex + Ada  – Image Comics

The Bunker  – Oni Press

Rat Queens  – Image Comics

Avatar: The Last Air Bender – Dark Horse Comics

Fear Agent – Dark Horse Comics

Disney Kingdoms: Seekers of the Weird  – Marvel

Comics Cross Game – Viz Media

Samuari Jack – IDW Skyward  – Action Comics

Revival  – Image Comics Snapshot – Image Comics

Prophet  – Image Comics

The Fifth Beatle  – Dark Horse Comics

Sex Criminals  – Image Comics

Black Science  – Image Comics

Email: TheAvengers@EarthsMightiestPodcast.com

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