10 July 2004

New Sequential Art Books

I think this minor revival of an old interest in manga and anime has now definitely become a minor obsession with manga and anime. I think one of the reasons I find it so attractive is that, unlike western comics (and western animated movies/tv, for the most part), manga/anime is available in a huge variety of genres. Any topic you can think of is almost certain to appear in manga or anime. To be fair, the "alternative" stream in western comics (for those who don't know, in comics "mainstream" equals superheroes) has a lot of different genres and topics, from autobiography to westerns to fantasy to sf to detective fiction. In the east, though, those genres aren't "alternative." Anyway, on to my reading of the past week or so.
  1. InuYasha volume 3 by Rumiko Takahashi. The more I read of this series and the more I watch the anime, the more taken I am with it. Great characterization, great art, great fantasy concepts, lots of myth and folklore. It's just cool. I've begun to notice slight differences (mostly plot-related) between the manga and the anime, but rather than being annoying, they're kind of interesting. They make me think about plot and how stories work differently in different media. This series has also made me look into Takahashi's other work. I'm 10 of 14 on the list at the library for volume 1 of Ranma 1/2 and I think 4 of 4 for volume 1 of Maison Ikkoku. And I'm kicking myself for not picking up the first colume of her new series (I think it's new anyway) when I was at Curious Comics for Free Comic Book Day (more on FCBD in a later post). I assumed the other stores would have it, but none did. Sigh.
  2. xxxHolic by CLAMP. It sounds x-rated, but isn't. I suspect that maybe "xxx" means something different in Japan than it does in North America. Anyway, CLAMP is an all-girl team of manga artists, who created many of the really big series like Cardcaptor Sakura (which I'm watching on YTV in it's anime incarnation as Cardcaptors). xxxHolic is about a boy who sees spirits and, in an effort to get rid of them, ends up working as an indentured servant to a woman who grants people's wishes. The main story kind of works as a frame for short stories, but it's more than just a frame. I'd read that this series was not as original or wonderful as one would hope, but I was completely enchanted. The art is beautiful and the stories enganging (if not always profound). It's published by DelRey (one of the 4 series they're launching their new manga line with), so it's a little more expensive than other manga, but still way cheap compared to North American comics (I should mention, to be fair, that many western books are in colour, while most manga is b&w). Anyway, I'll definitely be getting further volumes of this, and I'll also pick up the other CLAMP series DelRey's publishing. And look for some of their other work, too (time to head back to the library, I guess, though I was only there yesterday).
  3. Neon Genesis Evangelion volume 3 by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto. Big robots aren't really my thing, though I did adore both The Transformers and Robotech. It's a good thing, then, that this series is really more about the main character and his outlook on life (rather bleak) than about giant robot combat (it does have some of that, though). I just got this book from the libary yesterday and read it last night. This morning I went to the library web site and requested volume 3. It looks like it's a 4-part series.

You'd think the library would take a hint and get more manga (and more copies of what they've got). The books just don't say on the shelves, and some of them have really long request lists. But libraries are never rich, I guess. I shouldn't complain--at least they have some manga.

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