Tag Archives: Karakuri Odette

Favorite New Manga-Feb. 2011

Hi everyone!

I had a big, blog-changing post set up to go out tonight, but I couldn’t quite do it just yet! But big changes are coming soon, no doubt about it. Keep your eyes open for them.

So I went on a little manga binge this month. It was very, very bad of me, I know, but I discovered some great stuff!

Sugar Sugar Rune by Moyoco Anno- I found two volumes of Sugar Sugar Rune at Kinokuniya and decided that since I had always heard such good things about it, I would pick up a few volumes. This manga did not disappoint. This is a well-written manga about two cute witches who come to the human world (the non-magical world) to compete for the throne of the magical world. Chocolat and Vanilla are best friends, but this competition is extremely important, so they must learn to capture hearts from boys they must get to fall in love with them. Chocolat, the main character, is faced with a lot of problems since her personality rubs human boys the wrong way, but makes her the belle of the ball back home. The first two volumes have Chocolat dealing with staying true to herself, a wizard out to steal her heart and fierce competition from Vanilla. Somehow Anno  makes this manga full of sugar-y references and over-the-top art plausible and not too saccharine. I can’t wait to buy the next volumes and complete Del Rey’s run. I hope Kodansha Comics brings it back into its new lineup! Whoops! Del Rey completed the series, but I hope Kodansha considers reprinting it. Only 8 volumes though, not too bad of a commitment for an OOP series.

Sundome by Kazuto Okada is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. It’s a manga about exploring teenage sexuality to the weirdest extremes. I picked this manga up at the suggest of Ed Sizemore after hearing his Manga Out Loud podcast on the title. There was something totally intriguing about how Ed and Melinda Beasi described what is essentially a loathsome, but very high-concept manga. It isn’t a manga for anyone who has moral scruples to get over, these teens do some deeply dirty stuff and it’s creepy on purpose. Despite that, there’s no intercourse. It’s mostly touching, watching, a nipple showing here, a nibble happening there. There’s a lot of what you’d call fanservice, but it’s mostly a vehicle for showing the desires of Hideo, who is being happily toyed with by the wily Kurumi. Hideo doesn’t mind doing the dirtiest and lowest acts he can possibly perform if it means Kurumi will give him a reward. He knows he’ll never get with Kurumi, but his very masochistic need for sexual excitement allows him to be satisfied with untying her side-tie panties or watching her pee. It sounds like a manga to avoid, but if you can handle the squick-factor, this is a manga that explores the psychology behind horny teenagers and not something that borders on kiddie porn.

Back to something sweet, Kamisama Kiss by Julietta Suzuki is out now and already laying on the charm that Suzuki does best. Kamisama Kiss is about a girl who suddenly finds herself homeless and abandoned by an irresponsible father. Just as quickly, Nanami meets a strange man who offers her the use of his home because he has abandoned it. Upon arriving, Nanami discovers that this home is a run-down shrine full of yokai (demon-like creatures) and that she is now the shrine’s resident god. She clashes with Tomoe, a fox demon who was running the shrine in his previous master’s place, tries to go home, nearly gets killed by an onibaba (a demon hag) and then finally accepts her role as a shrine god. The final chapters end on a high note as Nanami helps answer the prayer of a catfish yokai who wants to date a human boy. Clearly this manga is going into fairly episodic stuff, but the catfish yokai story was adorable and the character designs were spot on. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to be as meaningful as Karakuri Odette, but I think Kamisama Kiss is going to shape up to be a fun shoujo manga.

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My Life as a (Rookie) Editor: Job Security

As a freelancer I have a lot of worries about my job security. And a lot of other things. But that’s normal for freelancers, or so I’m told.

What I wish I didn’t have to worry about is my area of specialty potentially becoming obsolete. If I could work solely for manga publishers, I would be one happy freelance editor, so I’d rather pursue those jobs rather than something in another field. Lucky for me, I don’t have to worry as much anymore because my (current and potential) employers are beginning to fight back against the one of the biggest things holding their success back: SCANLATIONS.

Now, I’m not totally against scanlations. As Erica Friedman of Ozaku pointed out scanlations were a solution to a problem. Manga lovers didn’t have enough manga on the market and there were plenty of series that weren’t sure to see a licene. But now, timelier releases, free digital manga and a large, diverse amount of manga titles are more prevalent. Manga aggregators take the top spot on Google instead of the legitimate manga sites and now our solution has turning into a problem, especially since manga doesn’t get taken down when a manga is licensed anymore. I don’t think it takes a genius to figure out that those scanlations are hurting sales when three companies were shut down and another one laid off nearly half of their employees in the last month!

Because of the coalition formed by Japanese and American manga publishers, manga aggregators will hopefully be wiped out or forced to go legitimate, like Manga Helpers is attempting to do. (Honestly, considering their previous forays into legitimacy, I smell BS.) If the coalition is smart enough, they’ll only topple the aggregation sites and maybe a few of the larger scanlation circles that put out new chapters of some of the top licensed titles out there. But there will still be a few small scanlation circles doing the unlicensed or the never-to-be-licensed manga that’s one of the best things about scanlations in the first place: the unique gems that we’ll never see (or won’t see yet) on the bookstore shelves.

And I’ll still have a job because my employer won’t go under from too many fans who love manga too much to pay for it!

For a little bit more on how scanlations hurt not just publishers, but the creators themselves, read this blog post by Helen McCarthy.

Just to keep you updated on what I’ve been working on lately:

August:

Junjo Romantica vol. 12

Karakuri Odette vol. 4

Gakuen Heaven -Endo- Calling You

Kyo Kara Maoh vol. 7

Lagoon Engine vol. 7

I’ll also be in Georgia until next week visiting my boyfriend’s family, so my apologies for late replies to comments or on Twitter. I’ll be busy seeing Atlanta for the first time!

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My Life as a (Rookie) Editor: New Books!

With all the craziness happening in my life as of late, I forgot to mention that I found three new books with my name on them! Yaaaay!

So if you’d like to indirectly support me, or at least let Tokyopop know that the stuff I work on is awesome, please buy these books!

April:

Songs to Make You Smile by Natsuki Takaya (4/27)

Karakuri Odette vol 3 by Julietta Suzuki (4/27)

NG Life vol 5 by Mizuho Kusanagi (4/27)

My bookshelf is growing!

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Why not be gender-neutral? Publishers and gender-genres

There’s a phrase I’ve been hearing a lot in the manga industry that actually bothers me quite a bit.

It goes: Girls will read stuff for guys, but guys won’t read stuff for girls.

There’s actually a fair amount of financial proof that not a lot of guys read stuff written for girls and girls read stuff originally written for a male audience, but I don’t have direct access to that kind of information and that’s not my point.

My point is that there’s some stuff that is “meant for girls” that could have a much wider appeal if marketed properly, so why don’t comic book  publishing companies take that route?

I’ll explain further: Sure, there are plenty of comics (especially manga) that are clearly of no interest to most guys. A lot of shojo and josei manga are really just about light-fluffy romance and girls obsessing over stuff that most guys wouldn’t want to understand, let alone enjoy reading about. That said, there’s plenty of really awesome titles that are billed as shojo or josei, but could almost be gender-neutral.

Example one: Basara by Yumi Tamura, published by Viz under their shojo line.

Basara by Yumi Tamura

Basara by Yumi Tamura

I’m up to volume 12 of the series and while it’s got a female protangonist and one of the major plot points is a romance between two of the main characters, the story is about a people’s rebellion under a brutral post-apocalyptic tyranny. While there is the romance, overcoming the big problem comes first, which is more of a shounen trope. Sure, the art does lean towards a shojo style, but other works by Yumi Tamura, like Chicago, remind me more of Naoki Urasawa than Arina Tanemura. (Ha, wow, comparing Arina Tanemura and Yumi Tamura is like comparing Danielle Steel to Stephen King!)

Why didn’t Viz bother to publish under a more universal line if Basara had the potential to sell well with girls AND boys?

To be honest, Shogakukan billed Basara as shojo, serialized it in Betsucomi (a shojo manga magazine) and Viz probably just rode that wave. If I was a Viz editor or someone else involved in that decision-making process, I would have shoved it into their signature line because Basara has that potential to sell well to both genders. After all, it was pretty well-received by critics when it was released. Since I decided to pick it up, I haven’t heard a fan, male or female, say a bad thing about it either. But while some fans are less discerning about their picks, most male fans are just going to see the shojo logo on the spine of the books and turn the other direction.

It’s probably very easy to point the finger at Japanese publishers sticking to their slightly more sexist, but more accepted societal norms, but that does not mean U.S. publishers have to blindly follow them.

Karakuri Odette by Julietta Suzuki

Karakuri Odette by Julietta Suzuki

Going from Basara to something more recent, a Tokyopop release by Julietta Suzuki called Karakuri Odette, which I copy-edited as an intern for them. While it’s more likely to be categorized as shojo for many reasons, Karakuri Odette also doesn’t focus on typical shojo plots. Tokyopop even labeled it as a comedy series and it was billed as an a-typical shojo by critics. Yet, the cover design is hot pink and accented with hearts. Not to stereotype, but most male manga fans aren’t going to pick that up at a bookstore unless they’re shopping for their girlfriend’s Christmas gift. If the cover had been mostly green, which is an accent color on Tokyopop’s cover design, it would have faired much better with dudes just picking it up and seeing if it was anything they wanted to read.

I’m no expert at marketing (although I find it and advertising to be really fun, I almost wish I’d gone into PR instead of journalism,) but I feel like such niche targeting is detrimental to some series. I know when I was younger, I wouldn’t have touched shounen or seinen series because I totally thought they were all like Naruto, which I dislike, and not very good. Still, I was curious and if someone had put something out there without making it look like it was shojo or shounen, I would have probably gone for it and tried to read more series like it.  I probably would have been more willing to pick up something different than pure shojo fluff.

I’m not saying the industry has to change how they categorize everything, I’m just saying that we could make SOME series gender-neutral where it fits and start lifting the stereotypes of shojo being JUST for girls and vice-versa.

Baka-Updates Manga’s genre site -This site goes into how they define each genre, which includes shojo, shounen, etc as well as regular genres.

Why Can’t Female Leads Be Happy Without A Boyfriend? -An article about the difference between comics and manga as well as shojo and shounen.

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