24 August 2004

Make Mine Manga (and one that isn't)

Standing in front of the huge display of manga at the comics shop the other week, I kept thinking "there's so many!" So many volumes of series I've started (32 volumes of Lone Wolf and Cub, I think; 17 and counting of InuYasha). But especially so many different series that sound good. And so many different genres. I remember a time before there was much manga in the shops, when I felt that same sense of being overwhelmed by choice. That was also before "mainstream" equaled "superhero" in comic shops. That would've been in the early 90s, probably. Sigh. It's not that there aren't any western comics that I want to read anymore, it's just that most of them don't shop up in the stores. Or it costs too much to buy individual issues, so I wait for collected editions. And then those don't show up in the stores. I gotta say, though, it's really nice to have girls in my way when I'm looking at comics, instead of middle-aged men (and yes, I am generalizing, but it wasn't so long ago that I got stared at for venturing into comic stores). 'Course, now I also have teenaged boys buying Magic cards in my way when I'm trying to pay.

  1. InuYasha volume 4 by Rumiko Takahashi. It's interesting how closely the anime follows the manga. And it's even more interesting to see what gets changed. But I'd better hurry up with this series--I just picked up volume 15 cheap on eBay.
  2. Nausicaa of the valley of the Wind volume 2 by Hayao Miyazaki. Just go read this.
  3. Planetes volume 1 by Makoto Yukimura. I decided to try a couple of new series recently, and this is one of them. It's got a science-fiction setting--the main characters are space-junk collectors (glorified garbage collectors, really), whose job it is to keep the spaceways clean of potentially dangerous bits of old satellites and such. The story (or stories; it's a little episodic, though with an underlying larger story) is about people, though, coping with the things people have always coped with (plus some new things introduced by space travel). The art's good, though there was one point where two of the characters suddenly switched haircolours. It threw me off, but the drawing was good enough that I noticed right away ("wait a minute, didn't he used to be blond? And didn't that guy have dark hair?").
  4. Bone: The Dragonslayer (Bone volume 4) by Jeff Smith. What? It's not manga? Nope, it's Bone, one of the best all-ages comics out there. Or one of the best fantasy comics. Take your pick. I'd only read volume one, but this one seems to be starting a new story arc (well, sort of, Bone is really one big story arc) so I wasn't too lost. I am getting the library to get me volumes 2 and 3 from other branches, though. There's comedy, human drama, scheming, love, evil, and stupid, stupid rat creatures. And the whole series has just come out in one giant volume (over 1000 pages, I hear). I'll be looking for that.
  5. Crescent Moon volume 1 by Haruko Iida. This is the second of the new manga series I decided to try recently. One reason it intrigued me was that there's a werewolf in it, and werewolves aren't very common in manga (as opposed to, say, demons or vampires or angels or fairies). I'm a sucker for werewolves anyway. The story was a bit, er, opaque to begin with, but as the story goes on, I've been sorting it out. There's a fair bit of standard fantasy fare here, but there's also an intriguing romance-from-long-ago that started many of the current events, and may have interesting effects in the future. I have to see if my hunch is right. The art in this book varies--occasionally it seems amateurish, occasionally too cute--but mostly it's very, very beautiful.
  6. InuYasha volume 5 by Rumiko Takahashi. Please more dog-boy demons. Especially ones with pretty big brothers (did I ever mention I have a weakness for pretty boys?).

So now it's back to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I've read the comics part of volume 2, but I've slowed down with the text-only part. It's great stuff, just very dense.

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