Sunday, November 16, 2014

What you should never do (and I do it all the time)

Forgive me, Father, for I've sinned. I have this ugly custom of mine - I buy new mangas and then put them on the shelf "to read them in my free time" - but of course there are mangas better and worse, more awaited and less awaited, those I'm in mood for at the time ant those I'm not... And so on, so on. So the heap of mangas "to read in my free time" grows and grows - I have some titles for over a year on my shelf that I haven't managed to read yet (yeah, I know...). So now, since I'm totally sick, with running nose, cough and headache and after coming home from work everyday I just crawl under the blanket with tea and a pile of medicines, I'm catching up with my reading.

And so, last week I read/finished/read the remaining volumes I bought but never read:
1. Ume, Tokyo Toy Box 2 (Polish edition by Studio JG)
Ok, to sum it up quickly - very nice, mature series about gaming industry with great drawings. Although I had an impression that the authors had no idea what they're doing while writing about a "bug we've discovered and reproduced, but we have no idea where it comes from" and other programming stuff, overall it was a really nice read. 
Unfortunately, I've spotted some typos in Polish edition, but I think I can live with that. Now I wonder whether to buy Giga Tokyo Toy Box (a ten-volume sequel published by Studio JG as well), I guess I'll put it on my wishlist someday.
2. Miwa Shirow, DOGS 2 - 7 (Polish edition by Waneko)
I have mixed feelings about this one. The story itself is really entertaining, with great Polish translation (which, because of the coarse language, I do not recommend for minors despite of being rated as 16+ by the publisher). 
However, I totally can't get over those empty backgrounds. The characters' drawings are really nice, but almost every background is just plain white space - I'm not sure if that was the author's intention or if he's just lazy. I understand the need to put emphasis on some panels by not drawing the background, but each and every panel?! 
3. Tateno Makoto, Yellow (whole series, English omnibus edition by June)
This one's totally awesome and will definitely have a separate note as soon as I get and read all parts of sequel available in English, so be patient for now. :)
4. Sunaaku Gan, Suruga Hikaru, Attack on titan: No regrets 2 (English edition by Kodansha)
What can I say - I love Levi. In my opinion Attack on titan is one of best shounen series ever, and this spin-off is just great. In fact, it's the only spin-off I actually enjoyed - I find Before the fall naive, too fast-paced and a bit boring, while the highschool parody is just plain ridiculous. 
I enjoyed this short, two-volume series just as much as its original series and I can totally recommend it to any Attack on titan's fan. And although I really like Isayama's style of drawing, the one in No regrets is just pure bliss to the eye. I mean it. 
As for the English edition - I hate this shiny paper Kodansha uses for covers (apart from the fact it was, of course, a bit too short...) - there's no way to touch the book without leaving fingerprints just EVERYWHERE. Ugh.
5. Lee Sun-Young, Doll Song 2 (Polish edition by Yumegari)
I could sum this one up with just one sentence: great drawings, nice story, poor edition. I really have a thing for Korean style of drawings - those ridiculously big eyes with long eyelashes, full lips, and great amount of details. Actually the fact that some comic book is a manhwa is enough reason for me to buy at least first volume. 
But I must say I'm really disappointed with Yumegari's edition - there are a lot of punctuation errors, even some spelling errors (ugh!). There's much too much of glue, so it's visible on the inner side of the cover and it makes it hard to open the book and actually read the text inside without breaking a spine. One of the pages was cut so badly that it actually ripped half of the text. And finally - at least in my copy the dustcover was folded in wrong place and then refolded in the other, so that the previous folding left a flaw. I suppose the only good thing about Polish edition would be some pages in full color, printed on really good paper in the middle of the book. These were really nice and I came back to them several times. But overall - not the best of Yumegari's editions.
6. Asano Inio, Osiedle Promieniste (Hikari no machi, Polish edition by Hanami)
In fact, another disappointment. The story itself has a potential, but I think the author tried to focus on too many stories at once, so they all ended up looking like stubs. Very good drawings, though, somehow make it up. I can't say it's a bad manga, but I enjoyed other work from this author, Solanin, much, much better. 
Polish edition of the manga is actually something worth crying over. We have thick, white, shiny paper inside, which really improves visibility of the details and allows the reader to appreciate author's drawing abilities. But that would be all as for the positives. There are so many typos, misspellings and ridiculously placed commas (or lack of them where they should appear) that I had to fight the urge to throw the book out from the window sometimes.
7. CLAMP, xXxholic, omnibus vol. 1 (English edition by Kodansha)
First of all I have to say I love omnibus editions - they are cheaper, look great on the shelf and you can read more of the story at once (they're hard to keep in hand while reading, though, but who cares). Again, as usual with Kodansha's books, we have too short cover you can't touch without leaving a hundred of fingerprints. Unfortunately there's no color pages, which would be really nice in omnibus edition.
As for the story itself - I suppose xXxholic doesn't really need my advertisement, so I'll just say it's really nice mystery/supernatural story for rather older reader. I'm definitely going to buy next volumes, too. I really love CLAMP's drawings in this one - you don't see drawings this polished everyday. Really worth every penny.
8. Natsume Isaku, False memories 2 (English edition by SuBLime)
I've been waiting for so long for this second, final volume to be published! SuBLime really did a great job. As usual in SuBLime's books, there's a color page opening the whole story. The story which totally reminds me of Sekaiichi Hatsukoi (I love this one, too, but I must admit it should be presented at Academies of Fine Arts all over the world as an example of how you should never, ever draw a manga). We have a tsundere-like uke, persistent, dark-haired seme (although not as sexy as Sekaiichi's Takano :D) and a misunderstanding from the past. And this adorable style of drawing! Good proportions, various facial expressions, really great eyes... and, uhm, some really appetizing yaoiness. :D

Okay, admit it. Tsuda is totally cute when he's blushing. Wait - actually, he's cute all the time.

Maybe it's just me, but I find the author's style somehow heartwarming. I can't really explain it, but that's how I feel. I think you'll feel what I mean as soon as you read some of her works.
One thing that sort of ruined a little all the joy from getting this volume was that the cover is a little misplaced - there's about one milimeter of spine graphics that's on the back of the cover, and about one milimeter of graphics that was supposed to be on the front cover, but is on the spine (*crawls into the corner and cries quietly*). But overall - really, really nice yaoi manga.
9. Kim Se-Young, Boy Princess 6 - 9 (English edition by Netcomics)
And again, I have a thing for Korean drawings. I don't really mind terrible proportions, too thin necks, too long and flat heads, eyes that take about a half of face's space and hands big as heads - I totally love how the faces' details are drawn. The biggest pain in the ass was my boyfriend, who was constantly nagging me just as he saw I was reading it: "Oh gawd, why is his arm so long? What's wrong with that head? Where's the other eye? Who is he, a Yeti?" and so on. I really wanted to smack him sometimes, you know... Although I have to admit one thing - half of the characters look exactly the same, and since their clother and hairstyles change, you don't really have anything to distinguish them. It was sometimes really hard to keep up because of this.
As for the story itself, apart from the shounen-ai theme - which is totally cute and fluffy - this manhwa is just one great fairytale. We have princes, queens, a mysterious  tribe and a bunch of well designed intrigues. Even if you're not really into shounen-ai, this title is definitely worth reading.

That was one hell of a note! :D No photos this time - sorry (too much effort I guess). Next time I promise to get you some!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Istota zła - when does a manga become shoujo

Original title: 悪性 -アクサガ
Polish title: Istota zła (omnibus edition 2 in 1, published in series Jednotomówki Waneko)
Author: Kanno Aya
Publisher: Waneko
Language: Polish
English edition: Blank Slate published by Viz (two separate volumes)
Genre: Action, drama, mystery, said to be shoujo

I've preordered this manga a long time ago (in June!) lured by the cover. I wasn't familiar neither with the story nor the author, but the description provided by Waneko, Polish publisher of the title, made me curious. And you know what? I'm not disappointed at all.

First of all, I didn't expect any great story, but Istota zła turned out to be a really decent action manga. I can't say it's brilliant or anything, but it was well written and drawn and very entertaining. Polish edition is an omnibus one, two volumes in one with a dustcover in enlarged format. I haven't spotted any typos, the language used by characters is well fitted and natural. There is, however, one error in page numbers - spotted not by me, but by my boyfriend, but I guess it counts nevertheless.

The author's style of drawing is surprisingly nice. I enjoyed the use of shadows and rasters. Kanno Aya draws really amazing eyes. I like well drawn eyes. I guess I have been bought. Although the style of plot-telling might not be my thing (too pompous) and the timeline is inconsistent, overall the manga is really nice and worth reading.

One thing, however, doesn't feel right about this story. On every manga site it's classified as shoujo. What does it take for manga to become a shoujo? I wouldn't call Istota zła a shoujo manga - josei, maybe, but definitely not shoujo! But, if it means that one hot guy makes manga a shoujo, then I guess I have to apologize to the genre. Yes, Zen is hot (and apparently I'm a simpleton), so why not another photo?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Orange vol. 1 - not so typical shoujo

Original title: オレンジ
Polish title: Orange
Author: Takano Ichigo
Publisher: Waneko
Language: Polish
English edition: Orange published by Crunchyroll
Genre: Josei, drama, romance, slice of life

I'll start with saying I don't like shoujo manga. I hate diabetes-sweet romances, huge-eyed high school characters, "I love him but he loves me not" and so on. Really, I hate it. But if you think "Orange" is another story of that kind - you'll be surprised as hell! Although the art is totally in shoujo style (sigh...), the story itself seems more like josei or maybe even seinen - there are some supernatural events, suicide(s?), and a lot of what ifs.

Imagine you receive a letter from yourself ten years older. Would you be able to change the future that isn't the way it should be? No, that's not the actual question. The question is - would you be brave enough and change the present yourself to change the future? Or would you do nothing even if you knew you'd regret it?

Polish edition from Waneko is really nice. I had an opportunity to lay a hand on Japanese version, which has an absolutely stunning, rugged dustcover. Unfortutately, Polish edition has only a regular one, but well fitted to the cover (not too long, so it doesn't crumple on the edges) and mat with great colors. I think I've spotted a typo somewhere, but since I can't recall what it was it couldn't be bad. The only thing I could complain about was font used by the publisher - too decorative and, I would say, girly. I'm a fan of simple, easily readable fonts that don't take your attention away from the art. But overall Waneko did a good job with this title, I hope it'll be the same in next volumes. As for now, there are three volumes in Japan and the manga is intended to be 5-6 volumes long.

As for the story and my impression of it - it reminds me of some old story from the past. As I was reading this manga I kept wondering if I could change something if I knew what the future brings. Okay, I admit - I cried my eyes out reading this story - but it's just me and I'm weird. Nevertheless - go ahead, buy it and read it. It's totally worth it.

To you, seven years ago - we'll miss you.

Ristorante Paradiso

Original title: リストランテパラディーゾ
Polish title: Ristorante Paradiso
Author: Ono Natsume
Publisher: Hanami
Language: Polish
English edition: Ristorante Paradiso published by Viz
Genre: Josei, drama, romance, slice of life

This is the first title published by Hanami I've read that I really don't know what to think about. First of all the story just seems unrealistic to me. The main characters and the way they handle their emotions - what kind of real person behaves that way? Plastic dolls - maybe, but definitely not living, feeling people. Then we have the plot, which - apart from being unrealistic - is simply boring and definitely not entertaining at all. It really could have been a great story if only the author had put a little effort in developing the characters - but as they are, they seem shallow to me. Too shallow to identify with whoever in the story.

And finally the drawings... Some of you might say that the author's style is unique - well, in my opinion it's simply ugly. With every page I couldn't shake off the feeling I'm looking at dead people. It really is sometimes creepy, I just couldn't enjoy the art in this manga.

As usual in Hanami mangas, there are a lot of punctuation errors and some typos (even in people's names, for goodness' sake!). On almost every page there are some Italian phrases, but I suppose it was the author's intention, so I won't complain about it.

The manga's a oneshot and a rather short one, so if you're interested - go ahead and try it, maybe you'll like it. But to me it was the weakest Hanami manga I've read so far.

Caramel - how not to make yaoi (that suits me)

Original title: カラメル
English title: Caramel
Author: Okuyama Puku
Publisher: June
Language: English
Genre: Yaoi, comedy, slice of life

I've read a lot of great reviews of that title that encouraged me to purchase it. Because it's not so easily available anymore, I've ordered a copy at my local foreign-language bookstore, waited patiently for a month, paid three times more than for average Polish manga and then was finally able to lay on the couch under the blanket and read it.

And... I totally don't understand where all these awesome reviews come from. Honestly - no idea. But let's start from the beginning.

The cover is really pretty, its color (and, of course, the title itself - duh) brings the caramel onto mind, which makes you hungry in no time. But then you open the book and see Iori - cute, long-haired young guy with the face of a child. The type I honestly hate. Okay, things get harder.

The plot itself seems somehow forced. I mean I just don't believe in a concept of a first year student who agrees on living with a stranger for doing houseworks instead of paying rent (and his parent are okay with that, cause the landlord "sounded like a nice guy on the phone"). No, no, no. The romance was also something I didn't really get in this story - Iori practically gets raped by his roommate, but falls head over heels in love with him. Huh, really? He's a lazy, demanding, selfish and always sulking guy who acts like a five year old - what is it here to fall in love with? And to sum it up - a crazy friend, who's supposed to be a funny character, but to me looked just like an idiot appearing in random situations with ridiculous grin plastered on his face. You could really throw him out of this manga and it wouldn't get any worse because of that.

The style of drawing is interesting. A bit messy, I agree, but it's not the style you keep seeing in every manga - for sure it's not one of typical yaoi drawing styles. There are not too many empty backgrounds (at least they didn't catch my eye), they're rather always somehow composed to fit the rest of the panel. I think the drawings were the best aspect of this title.

The translation is good - I didn't catch any typos or strange pieces of dialogues. But I suppose it's normal for June's editions. Fortunately, there are no "-san"s translated as "mister", which I'm really allergic to. I know there's no suitable translation for "-san" in English, but I think it's better just to make the lines of characters more polite than to force "mister" in them.

It was supposed to be a comedy - but I laughed exactly once while reading this manga. I guess you could say it's not the best result. Don't get me wrong - I don't think it was an entirely bad manga - I didn't feel the author thinks of the reader as of an idiot, but the story overall wasn't convincing at all at any point. I guess some of you may find it cute and fluffy since Iori is really a nice, sincere character, but it's simply not my cup of tea.

Monday, November 3, 2014


Original title: ソラニン
Polish title: Solanin
Author: Asano Inio
Publisher: Hanami
Language: Polish
English edition: Solanin (omnibus edition 2 in 1) published by Viz
Genre: Seinen, drama, tragedy, slice of life

Me and Hanami Publishing is a typical love-hate relationship. Their manga are always great, mature stories, but the editor must have some kind of "put comma in random place" disorder. This time it was no different than always - I loved the story and cursed the publisher. But apparently me cursing them doesn't make it any better with the quality of the proofreading, so - to the story!

Inio Asano's manga in some way reminds me of Haruki Murakami's novels - it's twisted and philosophical, cheerful and saddening at the same time. Although the author's style of drawing might not be one of my favorites, it's without a doubt polished and neat, with great backgrounds and many different facial expressions. In my opinion ability to draw differences in people's expressions is one of mangaka's greatest features - without it, even the best manga seems somehow dull.

It's not a story full of action. No - it's a story about losing and finding, about friendship and loneliness, about going forward and giving up. Finally, it's a story about how hard becoming an adult is - when the reality hits you so hard you don't know how to get up and keep going. So if you look for fast-paced plot - sorry, you won't find it here. But if you want to curl up under a blanket with a mug of tea in the evening and read some interesting, deep manga about what is important in life - go ahead, you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

"You two are a mass of contradictions" - Blue Morning vol. 5

Original title: 憂鬱な朝
English title: Blue Morning
Author: Hidaka Shouko
Publisher: SuBLime Manga
Language: English
Genre: Yaoi, historical, drama, slice of life

You can find description of the story here. I'm going to focus on my impressions on volume 5 published by SuBLime Manga.

I received this book a while ago, but finished reading today. Just as previous four volumes I can sum this one up with just one word: brilliant. Hidaka Shouko is one of my favorite authors - her stories are deep, often somehow twisted and with complicated plot, and her drawing style just makes me drool over the pages.
Sadly, this volume doesn't contain a lot of yaoi itself (sigh). Instead, the author focused on plot and the main intrigue, which is thickening up with every chapter. If you seek drama, surprising plot twists, and emotional rollercoaster - there you go, combined with mesmerizing drawings.

As for the quality of the publication - what I'm not able to comprehend is why each and every English manga has to have cover that is about one millimeter too short? Is it really that hard to cut the cover so it actually fits the size of the interior of the book? I mean, no matter if you buy manga published by SuBLime, Viz or Kodansha (put here any publisher you want, this sentence will still remain true - maybe except for June/Digital Manga Publishing), the cover is always a bit too short. Aargh.
I found one or two typos /screaming internally/ and, what made me the saddest manga collector in the world, there are a few pages where the print is blurred so the ink is on parts of page that were intended to remain white.

No matter what - I still find this series simply extraordinary and addictive. The world created by the author is complex and multidimensional - and so are her characters. Katsuragi's one of my future-non-existent husbands - that's enough said. If you're a BL fan and still not familiar with this title - you've missed something significant.

Let's begin

So I have finally succumbed (and one of my friends has his great contribution in it) and decided to run a blog. As its name suggests, it will be mostly about one of my greatest addictions - manga, that is. But I must warn you - the biggest part of my collection is yaoi, so if you don't like BL manga just leave and live happy life without knowing what comes next here. ;)

I will probably post about anything I find interesting/amusing about the fandom at the time, but there will also be some manga reviews - or some short scribbles I will stubbornly call reviews, maybe some photos from time to time.

If you find any grammar mistakes here - please don't mind since I'm not an English native speaker.