Manga Before Flowers -- Manga Picks for 3/12/08

Well, now that I have my own column I get a chance to do something I've always wanted to do -- my very own manga picks of the week! Hopefully next week we'll return to regularly scheduled programming (i.e. I'm going to natter on about the sheer crack joy that is Nana, along with other manga romance titles for adults) but for now enjoying reading about how much I love shipment date!

My "pick of the week" is Emma vol 7 (CMX). This wonderful series ends with volume 7, "weighing in" so to speak at a whopping 280-pages (CMX being all smart about these things adds an extra dollar to the volume for a total of $10.99. Honestly, ask me if I actually care about the extra dollar considering what I'm going to get for it...). Emma is a period-piece done right -- beautiful and rich in both story and art, I can heartily recommend this title to everyone who likes comics.

There are rumors that DC/CMX will also be publishing two volumes of side stories for the series (released in Japan as "Emma Bangaihen") and calling them volumes 8 and 9 of Emma. Can anyone confirm this lovely rumor?

CMX also releases another all-time favorite title, volume 12 of From Eroica With Love. A real treat from the 1970's, this title is a parody of James Bond, set in Europe during the Cold War -- if you like uptight German intelligence officers and gay British aristocratic art theives this title is for you! But on a more serious note, this is a real gem from shojo manga history and I'm deeply thankful CMX is still publishing it (despite, I suspect, low sales numbers).

Next we have a number of Tokyopop releases that I'm picking up -- the re-release of Your and My Secret vol 1 (a wonderful Ai Morinaga title sadly abused by ADV), Suppli vol 2, and the second volume of the Hand's Off prequel, Don't Call Us Angels. While I loved Hand's Off, I can't really recommend the prequel to anyone but die-hard fans of the series (which, yes includes me.) Your and My Secret is a crack-tastic gender-bender comedy, one which plays with gender constructs but not in a didactic or even exploitative way. Suppli is a josei title (i.e. chic-lit manga for the over-20 set) and while the first volume was a little slow, the interesting art and subject matter (women realizes at 27 that her all-consuming work life has completely deprived her of a nourishing love, or even social, life) has me eager to see where the title is going.

On the "boy's love" side of things, I'm picking up DMP/June's Don't Blame Me, a Yugi Yamada title. There are only three authors who work in BL that I'll pick up without question -- Fumi Yoshinaga, Riyu Yamakami and Yugi Yamada (in Yoshinaga's case it appears that her bl period has ended now that she's moved on to other genres). Yugi Yamada isn't a traditional bl author -- for one, her dialogue is too smart, her men are...men, not boys, and her art is....unusual (i.e. not pretty). Her books are a treat for any number of reasons, the main being that she makes even the most everyday experiences seem interesting and somehow surprising. I don't know if Don't Blame Me is one of her better works, but even her lesser works having something to recommend them. She also worked for the great Satosumi Takaguchi before she debuted as an independent mangaka (Takaguchi is the author of Shout Out Loud, without a doubt the best BL work published in the states to date) and honestly, that is one hell of a pedigree in the world of BL.

This week Go! Comi also releases its February books a bit late (I'm only cranky because I fear this means I won't see After School Nightmare vol 7 until May instead of April. Yes, it is all about ASN for me). In spite of my crankiness, I'm curious about A Wise Man Sleeps vol 1, since it is by Mick Takeuchi, whose Her Majesty's Dog is an accomplished shojo title (volume 8 also hits stores this week) and I'm very happy to see more from this mangaka being releases in the states. In addition, AI Revolution vol 2 will be released -- I'm of two minds about this title, I'm curious enough to pick of the second volume but the first one lacked a singe unifying story-telling vision to tie the various individual episodes together. I'll be curious to see how the title develops....

Finally, Viz releases volume 10 of Yakitate!! Japan one of the punniest (see what I did there?) manga about cooking you'll ever see. Not only funny, the title is somehow charming in its outrageousness (the jokes about afros alone could take up an entire chapter and probably already have at this point...). The title takes the shonen jump formula (boy with talents has many tough battles, constantly improving upon himself and his special powers, whatever they may be, over and over and over again) and sets it in the world of baking with great results.

Whew! Lots of manga and this is just what I'd like to pick up -- what looks good to you?

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