Genshiken Volume 4

It’s a time of change for the fanboys and -girls who make up the club dedicated to manga, anime, gaming, cosplay, and porn. Saki, the non-otaku who only hangs around because her boyfriend belongs, almost burned down the school by accident at the end of last volume, resulting in the club being put on suspension. To make it up to the members, she agrees to participate in a costume contest. There’s also the problem of them being locked out of […]

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Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs Volume 1

It’s a standard manga premise — young girl doesn’t know what to do with her life, stumbles into something she’s good at and starts becoming an adult as a result of the experience — made palatable through the many pictures of very cute dogs in Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs by Yukiya Sakuragi. Suguri is, to be blunt, a cheerful idiot. When a dog pees on her, for example, she laughs and says, “Oh, that always happens.” The story begins when […]

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Yakitate!! Japan Volume 4

Just when I thought this competition manga by Takashi Hashiguchi had settled into a steady routine — naive country boy with innate gifts for baking bread rises to each challenge, creating a new twist on whatever type of baked good he’s assigned — the author shakes things up with the latest volume. It opens with two digressions. The first features the store manager telling the trainees how he became a master baker. It’s an over-the-top high school satire of young […]

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Naoki Urasawa’s Monster Volume 1

In Monster, Naoki Urasawa turns the usual expectation of good and evil on its head. Dr. Tenma is a brilliant Japanese surgeon working in Germany. He’s a rising star due to his skills, and he’s engaged to the daughter of the chief of the hospital. She’s got his advancement all planned out so she can be the wife of a rich and powerful man. He’s got bigger concerns, though — his risky operation on an opera star brought the chief […]

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Earthlight Volume 1

It’s high school teen drama… in space! I’m not sure what to say about Earthlight. I want to like it, but it’s not quite there for me. The artist, Christopher Schons, is great with near-future technology, and he’s also good with creating expressive figures in the kids, so that’s not it. The writer, Stuart Moore, crafts excellent scenes and is good at introducing story events and characters efficiently, even if most of the people are predictable types (but still likable). […]

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Hot Gimmick Volume 12

The final volume of Hot Gimmick came out months ago, but I’ve put off talking about it because it was such a disappointment. This was the series that, with volume 1, got me reading manga; now, I can no longer recommend it. Originally, I loved the emotional drama by Miki Aihara. Hatsumi was shy and self-effacing, but I had great hopes that, as she learned to love and be loved, she would develop more confidence and gain experience standing up […]

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Train Man / Densha Otoko Comparison

The Train Man story is a modern romantic fairy tale. (“Densha otoko” means, unsurprisingly, “train man”.) It has captured the imagination of readers to the extent of inspiring multiple manga versions, as well as a novel, a movie, and a TV show. The story is simple: A geek on a train aids a girl being hassled by a drunk. He likes her, so he asks for help impressing her on a message board. Thanks to the advice, the two get […]

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Emma

Emma is a beautifully illustrated period piece by Kaoru Mori that explores a forbidden relationship in Victorian London. Emma is maid to a former governess, whose young charge William has now grown into a prominent gentleman. He’s interested in Emma after their chance meetings, but he’s unsure of whether to say anything, especially given how strictly class lines are socially enforced. William’s clumsy attempts to demonstrate his affection only reinforce the difference. He thinks nothing of buying a new pair […]

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