Hating on Season Eight

I was invited to participate in the “Anniversary of Hate” going on at The Hooded Utilitarian this month. My contribution, “Hating on Season Eight,” is now up, if you’d like to read some fangirl ranting about Buffy comics.

Takehiko Inoue MMF Roundaup: Part Four

It’s the fourth quarter, and your co-hosts have banded together to take you through the final stretch!

Anna joins me for a special Let’s Get Visual column dedicated to Inoue’s artwork, where we discuss pages from Real and Vagabond.

And speaking of Vagabond, we both weigh in on the series, with Anna tackling the two most recent VIZBIG editions to be released (nine and ten) and me checking out the first one. Ultimately, it looks like neither of us has found a new favorite over the course of the MMF, but we still both enjoyed branching out!

A big thank you once again to everyone who contributed and left comments. MJ of Manga Bookshelf will be hosting the next MMF, which will focus on works by CLAMP.

Takehiko Inoue MMF Roundup: Part Three

What started as a trickle has become a steady stream as the Takehiko Inoue MMF begins drawing to a close!

At Experiments in Manga, Ash brown checks out the second Vagabond VIZBIG omnibus, particularly praising the way battles in the series have lasting repercussions for the characters.

At Manga Report, Anna digs into the past for highlights from the Inoue archive page.

Animemiz posts about Inoue’s artwork at the New York City Kinokuniya location.

At Manga Village, the gang collects a bunch of quotes in praise of Inoue’s Slam Dunk and Lori Henderson gives Vagabond a try but ultimately concludes it’s just not her thing.

Lastly, be sure to check out this really interesting article at Manga Therapy that ponders the notion of strength, as depicted in Vagabond.

My thanks to all the contributors!

Takehiko Inoue MMF Roundup: Part Two

I’ve got a few more Inoue-riffic links to share with you today!

First up, Lori Henderson at Manga Village looks at volume 22 of Slam Dunk, the most recent volume to become available in English, and points out that this is one sports manga where the sport itself is perhaps more important than the typical shounen theme of striving for improvement.

Next, MJ and I devoted last night’s Off the Shelf column to a discussion of Inoue’s seinen wheelchair basketball series, Real, which we pretty much rave about unreservedly.

Lastly, my lovely cohost Anna contributes another review (love the Peter Sellers reference in the title!), wherein she shares her thoughts on the first six volumes of Slam Dunk. You might recall from our introductory post that she had yet to try the series, but I am happy to report that she likes it! She also writes really good concluding paragraphs, like this one:

One of the reasons why I liked it so much is that there’s a general feeling of warmth that you get when reading this manga. Sakuragi is often made fun of, but he’s portrayed with affection. He even inspires a bit of grudging respect from his teammates as his basketball skills keep getting better. As a bonus, the reader also gets treated to a variety of ’90s fashions and hairstyles. Inoue’s enthusiasm and love for the game informs the manga, making it seem more personal and interesting than a shonen manga that is developed by committee with the aid of magazine polls. After reading Slam Dunk, I can understand why it was one of the top-selling manga in Japan. If you haven’t tried reading Slam Dunk yet, don’t be an idiot like me and wait for several years—just pick up a few volumes as soon as possible.

What she said!

Takehiko Inoue MMF Roundup: Part One

The Takehiko Inoue MMF is underway and submissions are beginning to come in! I’ve got three of them to share this morning.

First up is a post from Matt at Matt Talks About Manga , where he talks about the first VIZBIG collection of Vagabond, comprising the first three volumes of the series. I have to admit that my favorite quote is, “The art. Oh, God, the art. It’s beyond fantastic.”

Next up is Ash at Experiments in Manga, who looks at the first two volumes of Inoue’s Slam Dunk for the My Week in Manga column.

Lastly, my cohost Anna checks out the first five volumes of Real at her site, Manga Report. She’s written the post as a volume-by-volume synopsis, pointing out the particular highlights of each, but my favorite observations are right at the end:

While Real centers around the wheelchair basketball world, it uses that setting as a way of exploring the underlying psychological issues of the protagonists. Nomiya desperately searches for a form of redemption. Hisanobu’s toxic habits of personality and thought patterns threaten to derail his rehabilitation. While there is no question that Togawa has the drive and personality to be an elite athlete, his lack of people skills while playing a team sport might threaten his bright future. Real is just an absolutely gripping manga, and I know I’m going to be seeking out the remaining translated volumes of the series as soon as possible.

Thanks to all contributors! And remember, if you want to participate… the MMF is running through June 30th and you can email me (swanjun at gmail dot com) with links to your submission!

Announcing the Takehiko Inoue Manga Moveable Feast!

What: A multi-blogger event focused on the works of Takehiko Inoue. (Those published in English include Slam Dunk, Vagabond, and Real.)

When: The week of June 24-30, 2012.

Who: Co-hosted by Michelle Smith and Anna Neatrour, participation open to all!

Why: Because we are both major Inoue fans and want to spread the love!

Where: Soliloquy in Blue (that’s here!) and Manga Report (that’s here!).

How: Anna will be maintaining the archive at Manga Report, so if you’ve written anything Inoue-related in the past that you’d like to be included, just send her an e-mail. Michelle will be posting daily MMF wrap-up reports at Soliloquy in Blue, so if you’re contributing new stuff, drop her a line. You can also post your link on Twitter using the hashtag #inouemmf. If you don’t have a blog of your own but would like to contribute, just let us know and we can make that happen!

Halloween Week 3.0!

It’s that time again! The third annual Soliloquy in Blue Halloween Week begins today, October 25, and continues through October 31. As before, I’ll be posting daily reviews of novels and comics with a supernatural bent. Some may be cute and fluffy, some may be genuinely creepy, but all will fit the general theme.

Each year I solicit ideas for future Halloween reading, so if you’ve got a favorite book or comic that you’d recommend, please leave a comment below! Last year I was able to tackle two reader-suggested works—The Mystery of Udolpho and Gyo—and this year I shall have two more in The Witch Family and Uzumaki.

Here’s this week’s menu. I’ll update with links as they become available.

Uzumaki, Vols. 1-3 by Junji Ito
Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
Haunted House by Mitsukazu Mihara
The Witch Family by Eleanor Estes
Yurara, Vols. 1-5 by Chika Shiomi
The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury (OMG, I really tried but Bradbury takes the lyrical language to such an extreme that I veered between feeling very sleepy and feeling very annoyed. It’s exceedingly rare that I do not finish a book, but I was practically physically incapable of doing so in this case.)

The Let’s Get Visual column planned for this week was unfortunately delayed due to weather-induced power outage and will appear at a later date.

My contributions to this week’s Off the Shelf will fit the theme, as well, and the whole Manga Bookshelf gang will get in the spirit for a horror-centric installment of The Favorites Alphabet and a special Halloween edition of Bookshelf Briefs.

I hope y’all will enjoy all this as much as I do!

JManga Slashes Prices! (Well, Temporarily at Least)

Even though I grumbled a little at JManga’s prices, I was mostly okay with paying the equivalent of $8.99 for a manga that would likely never get licensed for a North American print release. Still, because I wanted them to do well enough to stick around for a long time, I hoped they would reduce their prices, perhaps emulating VIZ’s $4.99-per-volume pricing strategy.

Well, happy news! JManga is having a “sale” where they’re doing exactly that. Not only that, they’re making the surprising goodwill gesture of refunding users 50% of the credits they spent under the old pricing structure. “Holy crap!” I said aloud, when I read that part.

The one drawback to this is that they haven’t been adding many new series lately. I’ve pretty much bought all the ones I wanted and am waiting for either new stuff or some second volumes to become available. I now have a hefty points balance without much to spend it on.

Anyway, if you’ve been holding back on JManga before, now’s a great time to check it out. And hopefully increased interest will show JManga that $4.99 is the way to go and this will become a permanent thing.

Some Sailor Moon Links!

First, a plug…

Shortly after my reviews of Codename: Sailor V and Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon were published, I was invited by Scott Spaziani of Otaku in Review to participate in a podcast about the series. And here is the result! It was my first time ever on a podcast, and nerves made me babble a bit, but all in all it turned out pretty well. (My bit starts around 32:30.)

Next, some art!

Sailor MMM is a site where members can submit fanart inspired by the series. Some of the submissions are quite stunning, like this one of Sailors Saturn and Pluto. The shoes and weapons, in particular, capture Takeuchi’s style very well.

Lastly, some silliness!

Ask a Pretty Soldier is a Tumblr where readers can submit questions for Sailor Moon characters and possibly receive an answer in illustrated form. The results are usually pretty amusing.


Me, Me, Me!

Just a quick post this morning with a couple of links about me, me, me!

First, Justin Stroman interviewed me for his site, Organization Anti-Social Geniuses.

Second, the list of my votes for Hooded Utilitarian’s Best Comics Poll has now been published. I am left with a quandary, though, because I have since discovered that Fumi Yoshinaga’s Flower of Life is completely worthy to be among my top ten, but what should come off? Maybe I can emulate Spinal Tap and have a list that goes to eleven…