Manga Marching Orders, 9/13/09

Thank you again to all who responded to my first plea for help deciding what to read next. Although the battle was fierce, Antique Bakery emerged victorious.

Although I certainly liked Ōoku very much, I fell in love with Fumi Yoshinaga in a major way with Antique Bakery. I can imagine how Danielle Leigh felt to discover her greatness, as I am now compelled to read everything else of hers that’s been released in English, and soon. And although I liked the food details more than Sara K., I must agree about the awesomeness of the Gay of Demonic Charm, though really each character is lovable in his own way and could probably use a hug.

You can find my review of Antique Bakery here.

apothecarius1I do still intend to read the runners-up in the near future, but lately I’ve found myself with a particular hankering. You see, I realized that nearly all of the shoujo that I read—even those with fantastic or supernatural elements—takes place in a modern-day setting. I want to read some shoujo that takes place somewhere else. Somewhere more medieval, with perhaps some kingdoms and urgent quests and things going on!

To that end, here are the five series from my collection that I am struggling to choose between. If you’ve got a particular favorite, or simply think one will provide the sort of story I’m craving, then please chime in and let me know about it! Whichever option has the most supporters will be the one that gets read and reviewed.

1. From Far Away — The longest option on the list at fourteen volumes, From Far Away is the story of a modern-day schoolgirl who gets whisked away to another world. It’s been in my to-read pile for ages.

2. Apothecarius Argentum — An ongoing series about a princess and her poison tester. It’s from CMX, and many of their fantasy options look tantalizing.

3. Key to the Kingdom — What do we have here? More fantasy from CMX! This is the story of a male heir that must fulfill a quest before he can claim the throne. Complete at six volumes.

4. Fushigi Yûgi: Genbu Kaiden — I admit that Fushigi Yûgi has flaws, but I still loved the original series anyway. Plus, I’ve heard this prequel—ongoing but currently on hiatus—is better!

5. RG Veda — To be honest, I’m not terribly excited at the prospect of reading RG Veda; I still haven’t gotten over the traumatizing memories of the criminally boring OVA episodes. Still, I like CLAMP and this is an important part of their development as manga artists, so I really should read it. Complete at ten volumes.

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  1. Fushigi Yûgi: Genbu Kaiden is the only one of these I’ve read, so I’ll give it my vote!

  2. From Far Away – I have only read up to volume 10, but it’s a solid fantasy. I really need to finish this and Please Save My Earth.

  3. Danielle Leigh says

    Apothecarius Argentum has my vote! Very nicely realized world, fantasy elements are limited but I kind of like that. Also, a real honest to god mature romance between interesting people.

  4. It’s a toss-up between AA and FFA. I have a deep and abiding love for FFA, but AA has that unattainable love theme running through it that I also find irresistable. I think you’ll be satisfied with either story.

  5. I found FFA to be an extremely sweet and satisfying fantasy series, so I’ll vote for that one :-). Of the others, I’ve only read part of FY:GK, which I think probably is better than FY. I really should try and get my hands on some of the later volumes..

  6. I recommend Fushigi Yûgi: Genbu Kaiden! It’s a great prequel to the original, with a more even tone and no ‘Miaka! Tamahome!’ x1000 😀 Yu Watase’s art style is really solid in it as well, showing the years it’s evolved between this FY and the original.

    • Hahaha! Your comment made me laugh because you’re so right about the ‘Miaka! Tamahome!’ x1000.

      Thanks for the vote!

  7. Well, I’ve had Apothecarius Argentum sitting in my to-read pile for some time, so I think we should both get started on it! When I spoke with the CMX folks about it, they mentioned that there’s a Japanese blog where a pharmacist investigates the poisons/antidotes used in the book and verifies the author’s research. For some reason, that really caught my attention and made it sound even cooler!

    Then again, I’m the black sheep in a medical professional-filled family that has always railed against the lack of realism on TV medical shows (they REALLY ruined ER for me early on)!

    • That blog does sound cool! I once saw a similar one about the TV show House that I think also talked some about Naoki Urasawa’s Monster.

      Thanks for the reply! 🙂

  8. Just about everybody enjoys the food details more than I do in Antique Bakery. And I’m glad that it won your affection.

    The only thing on your new list that I’ve read is From Far Away, and I have no idea if anything else is better. From Far Away is a lot like Inuyasha – sweet Japanese girl with unique power gets transported to another place where she has adventures with an insanely strong part-human, part-not-human angst dude along with various friends as they fight against grand evil. Of course it’s much shorter than Inuyasha.

    • I’m actually quite fond of Inuyasha, so I’ll take that as a point in its favor. 🙂

      Not only did I love Antique Bakery, but I’ve since passed it on to a friend who is in love with it, too, and thinks she might’ve found a new favorite mangaka!

      • From Far Away centers much more on the relationship between the two and what they make of it. The quest part only crystalizes that, so this is much more romantic than questy, maybe that’s why it turned out so much shorter.

        Actually I compared it to Fruits Basket when I squeed about it.

        My vote is Kanata Kara, too ^^.
        Hidden Treasure: Kanata Kara ~ From far away
        This is a much better review on Dear Author
        REVIEW: Manga: Romance with a Capital “R”: From Far Away by Kyoko Hikawa

        • Thank you for the links! I shall read both. 🙂

          From Far Away‘s lead continues to grow. So much so that I spent some time earlier this afternoon extricating it from the bottom of the to-read pile and finding it a much more prominent and easily accessible spot!

          • Oh goodie ^^. From what I gather the release wasn’t successful enough to get any more Hikawa mangas licensed, so I’m hoping we can at least raise the review status and develop a cult following and maaaaaybe eventually something else will be licensed.

            • That’s too bad. Through Manga Recon, I do have a contact at VIZ, so perhaps I’ll send him the link(s). 🙂

              • Heh, I don’t think my own site review has reached more than 5 people (although I sent the link to Mangablog at the time and Brigid was nice enough to put it in her daily round-up) – but Dear Author is a big romance reader community blog and they’ve done other manga and anime reviews which have been well received.

                Every little bit helps ^^. And the current manga Otogimoyou Ayanishiki has a delicious combination of old Japan, demons and a feisty heroine who is working to save the hero trapped in a curse once more (not in another world this time).

        • Actually, I think that Inuyasha and Kagome’s relationship ends up being more developed … but that is probably because they have a lot more time, you are right that there is more relationship-per-volume in From Far Away.

          Personally, I think the outstanding quality of Kanata Kara is not the relationship (which is still strong enough to carry the story) but the approach. Kanata Kara applies a little more logic than a lot of other fantasy, which I found refreshing.

          • Yeah, the way that the heroine reacts to her new situation and the difficulties she encounters seem to be pretty unique in this series compared to others that just gloss over that part.

          • Oh, I agree with you there. My personal main impact came from the common sense behaviour in love by BOTH parties, though, even Izark whose role as the cursed one usually doesn’t lend itself to humor or clear appreciation of what the heroine does for him. And the heroine doesn’t have an abusive family background or tragedy!!! Wow!

  9. Those are all good options. I have Key to the Kingdom on my to read list. I’ve read and enjoyed From Far Away, Genbu Kaiden, and Apothecarius Argentum. I read the first volume of RG Veda and didn’t really get into it, and I usually love Clamp. I guess I’m not much help!

  10. Fushigi Yûgi: Genbu Kaiden

  11. Well, so far after a couple days’ worth of voting, From Far Away is leading the pack with Genbu Kaiden and Apothecarius Argentum tied for second.

    Upside: It’s finished!
    Downside: It’s the longest! I might have to review this one in parts! 🙂

  12. I hope it’s not too late for vote.
    Another vote for From far away. Then “Key to the kingdom” (it’s finished with 6 volumes), RG veda, then Genbu Kaiden or Apothecarius Argentum. I like to read finished series 🙂

  13. I’ll slide in five days late with some Apothecarius Argentum support. It’s still one of my favorites coming out right now, and Danielle pretty much nailed all its good points earlier.

    I like what I’ve read of Genbu Kaiden too, even without knowledge of the beginning of that series and the beginning and end of the original FY. I was very surprised, since I imagined liking it way less than even the original FY.

    And, for what it’s worth, I didn’t really care for RG Veda at all. It’s got a lot of the “first series” roughness to it. The RG Veda parts in Tsubasa were way better than the actual series ever was.

    • Thank you for the vote! I had expected to see a bit more ardent Apothecarius support, actually, though it’s always nice to have a clear victor. 🙂

      That’s disappointing about RG Veda, especially since the Tsubasa bits were what made me think I might like it more than the dreadful OVA. I still feel like I ought to read it someday, but it’s a low priority.

  14. One more very late voice joining the conversation: you’d make Eva Volin very, very happy if you reviewed From Far Away, as it works well for both teens and slightly younger readers. And good Lord, don’t subject yourself to RG Veda. It’s easily one of the weakest titles in the CLAMP canon — it’s boring and self-serious, plus the art could induce migraines. (It’s done in CLAMP’s early fill-every-corner-of-the-page style, which hasn’t aged well.)

    • Thanks for the reply! From Far Away is the clear winner this time and I plan to start it soon, though I’ll probably take it in chunks. 🙂

      I feel obligated to read RG Veda at some point because I own it, but it’s presently buried in one of the bins in my closet, so I doubt I’ll get to it any time soon.


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