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

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