Friday, December 23, 2011

Steampunk and Fullmetal Alchemist

Back in college, I think I was a sophomore, some of my anime watching buddies started talking about Fullmetal Alchemist and how "awesome" it was. Many of my friends had started getting into anything that was steam punk or cyberpunk styled and the only good thing I saw about either style was that it was fun to look at, but that was about it. And as a result of this, I had never read or watched Fullmetal when it was at its height of popularity.

A couple weeks ago I was doing a manga-title search of tsutaya, which it where I always end up doing my manga-title searches, when I saw the Fullmetal display at the front of the section. I stood there for a little while and checked out the covers and decided that I would add it to my list of manga to read. It was such a commercial success that it seemed strange not to read it and see what all the fuss was about.

I completely understand why this manga was such a success.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The New "Modern Family" in Miyuki

Adachi Mitsuru. He's name evokes dozens of different titles compiled in a career that has spans decades and is not finished yet. And I am completely late to the party. I was absolutely oblivious to Adachi Mitsurus works until my advisor handed me a book called 『マンガ論』by Yoshimoto Takaaki, who happens to be a very famous writer and father to Yoshimoto Banana (who is a very famous contemporary Japanese fiction writer). One of his essays talks about gender and family issues in a couple of older manga and Miyuki was one of them.

After I read the essay, I didn't immediately rush to my laptop and start googling up a storm but I started thinking about how little older manga series I have read. One of my habits is to head to tsutaya or book off and take pictures of manga covers that I think look interesting. It makes it so easy, maybe a little TOO easy, to look up the manga later. My "manga I want to read" folder in my bookmarks is ridiculously long now.

Back to the topic at hand, I was at book off when I saw the rather large section of Adachi Mitsuru manga. Since I was curious I looked through to see what titles they had and I saw Miyuki right away. Deciding that this was sign from the manga god himself, I took a picture of it and started reading it right after I finished Basara. How could I have lived to long as a manga reader without reading or even KNOWING his name?! I hang my head in shame and will redeem myself by reading as many of his manga as I can get my hot little hands on.

We shall start with the manga that started this movement Miyuki

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Maturity of a Mangaka - Basara and 7 Seeds

In my previous post, I did a review and essay on Tamura Yumi's 7 Seeds. After I finished reading it, it was brought to my attention (via the internet) that she had another successful manga that I hadn't read before, Basara. While 7 Seeds is intended for an older audience, Basara was obviously intended for the shojou crowd. Basara consists of 27 tankoban written from 1990 - 1998 and with my current situation, it was not so easy to find it as a complete set, so I searched the internet for an online reader site that was able to deliver the goods for me.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Unexpected Depth of 7 Seeds

Quite honestly, I am not really sure how to start of this blog post. I wish to clear up something really quick. I believe that have given off the impression that I only enjoy seinen or shonen manga. This is not entirely the case. While, yes, I do prefer these genres on a personal level, I am open to all types and genres. While I have yet to get into some of them, I have every intention of writing about every genre. Which shall start now!

A couple weeks ago, I had a friend randomly send me a message asking me if I was reading 7 Seeds, by Tamura Yumi and I had to honestly answer no and that it was on my list of "manga to read" (which basically gets updated every other day). The truth of the matter is that I had seen the manga at Book-Off for months now, but I looked at the art style and it kinda turned me off to the manga. I know my mother always told me, "Don't judge a book by its cover", but I was judging the art style. Tamura draws in a VERY old shojou style, I'm talking Sailor Moon style, which, while I was in middle and high school, was a style I was attracted to, now I am not.

After my friend asked me, I decided to check it out so that we could talk about it. I was so surprised about the depth of this manga. While it is a josei manga, that means it comes with emotional twisting drama and characters, it is also ment for older girls and young women and it dives into a theme that I haven't really seen any other josei or shoujo dive it, the apocalypse. After a little research, I learned that this manga has been running 10 years strong, which is only a little shorter than Naruto, and that it's an award winner. It's the 2007 Shogakukan Manga Award winner for shoujo manga and it is well deserved.


Friday, December 2, 2011

The Reality of Gaku: Minna no Yama

Recently, I have started really enjoying manga that portrays reality. As much as I enjoy and devour being taken to new worlds that allow people to walk up trees, or summon a demon, or live with elves ( not the keebler kind) there is just something much more gratifying and rewarding when I read manga that showcases realistic characters in realistic situations. While I feel that all mangaka get reality across in their manga in different senses, there are some that just do it better. In particular,  Ishizuka Shinichi in his wonderful and award winning manga Gaku: Minna no Yama.

I find it surprising and not so surprising that there aren't any scanlation groups that have picked up this manga. Gaku is a pretty popular manga that got made into a movie just last year with Oguri Shun and Nagasawa Masami in the leading roles. Plot wise, the manga has everything. There's drama, danger, sadness, character development, real life issues, and rememberable characters. I understand that most American or English readers of manga are not all that interested in a plot that revolves around mountain climbers and rescuers in the Northern Japanese Alps, but they really should. Ishizuka has opened the door to a part of Japan that I feel everybody, Japanese or Foreigner, gets to see or appreciate; which is why I think it's so popular here. There really aren't that many manga out right now with this type of storyline.

Umizara, or Sea Monkeys, came out in the late 90s and early 2000s and was successful. It revolved around the Japanese Coast Guard and their numerous rescues and private lives. 3 movies and 2 seasons of the drama later it has proved that its a marketable and popular plot. Gaku follows this type of story and should be as successful.

Yet, I was unable to find scanlations for either of these mangas. I know that there isn't any moe or crazy cute girls in there, but that should not be the most important point in reading manga. There are so many more and interesting levels to manga, not just Shounen Jump and Margaret Comics. Please manga readers and scanlators, pick up more some seinen manga!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I just finished an epic manga marathon that lasted about a week and a half and spanned 345 chapters.

I love Kekkaishi. It has this wonderful drama, intrigue, character development, and traditional Japanese culture that makes it absolutely foreign and familiar at the same time. To tell the truth, I actually started reading Kekkaishi years ago after the anime came out. I let me nerd out with a vengeance and marathoned the show, downloaded all I could from the internet, and discovered that the story wasn't over! There were hundreds of chapters of manga just waiting for me to devour. Alas, the manga wasn't finished in Japan and I was forced to wait years to get the complete story.

Now the manga is officially complete, it even has a complete guide for those who want all the statistics and characters in an organized form, I have been able to gloriously marathon the manga and completely forsake my other work.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mirai Nikki'

Now I'm sure that many of you have heard of Mirai Nikki, or 未来日記, as one of the brand new anime that is out this fall season. One day while I was loitering, I mean browsing, tsutaya I saw a whole wall proudly displaying all 12 volumes and it got my interest.

Usually I'm not much of a seinen, or young men, manga type. Call me a women, but most of the plots and action sequences are just way to bloody for me. Seeing things are you suppose to be inside of you outside of you is, in my opinion, one of the most disgusting things even. Hence why I never aspired to be a doctor and going to medical school.

I will admit that I almost stopped reading after the 3rd chapter, but I decided that I would read it if it killed me; which of course it didn't. By the mid point I was glad that I kinda forced myself to sit and read it. Esuno-sensei builds an intriguing plot and layers his characters and their developments well through the story. Of course there are points that have been done before and, to me, there was a little over kill in certain places, but all together it fits and builds a story that makes the reader think a little instead of brainlessly reading.

One of the obvious plot points Esuno used was extremes. There are extremes all over this manga, from the plot, to the characters, and to the scenes. Below is a small essay that I wrote about the levels of extremes that are presented in Mirai Nikki, and Mirai Nikki only.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Working Blog

Well hello all and welcome to my new blog, The Manga Diaries.

Let me start by introducing myself. I am an American graduate student who is currently living and studying in Japan. My thesis deals with hikikomori and how they are portrayed in Japanese pop culture, specifically in manga and anime. And before you ask, yes I was, and still am to some extent, one of those kids that watched Sailor Moon in middle school and never got out of how amazing I thought it was.

Since my thesis has to deal with manga and anime, I wanted to have a forum where I could post working ideas and thoughts about the things I read and watch. It helps me get my creative juices flowing and helps me work on my writing. I am an avid reader and I enjoy posting the theories that I make or my impressions on things around me.

If you have found this blog by accident or if I happened to tell you that I had made it, thanks for coming! Please feel free to leave me comments, but be respectful about them. Constructive criticism is always welcome when it comes to my writing and if you feel that I have looked at something wrong, message me and I will look into it. What is the point of academia if I cannot handle others who think differently than myself?