Tag Archives: Moto Hagio

What Manga Do You Want The Most?

Manga licensing is a tricky business. There are companies that won’t work with other companies, titles that are too expensive to reasonably bring over the U.S., mangaka who are wary about having their work brought to an English-speaking audience and many other things to consider before licensing a title for the finicky U.S. market. It’s especially hard to judge demand when there are so many people reading scanlations. Is this title popular enough despite all those people who’ve already read it for free? Will fans devote their money to a manga regardless? It’s hard to judge a risky market like manga publishing sometimes. The best that can be done sometimes is to listen to their demands, but that might not always be the easiest thing to do because of all the restrictions mentioned above.

But what if we pretended to wipe the slate clean and have our own publishing companies for a moment? You’re given the opportunity to license any two manga titles that you wanted to, regardless of price, publisher politics or the relative lack of demand for the titles you pick. What would you license?

Rose of Versailles? Sailor Moon? Jungle Emperor Leo? What are you dying to publish the most?

I’ve tried to give the subject matter a lot of thought. It’s really hard to pick just two titles because there’s probably two dozen on my mental shortlist. Do I really want this one over this other one? I’m not sure, because I’d probably buy either in an instant.

But I’ve decided. I would want to bring over Osamu Tezuka’s Nana-iro Inko (Rainbow Parakeet), which I’ve mentioned wanting before, and Saint Oniisan (Saint Young Men) by Hikaru Nakamura.

Had I a chance to bring over a third title, I would have probably picked Moto Hagio’s A Cruel God Reigns, but I think the above two titles would have to be my first two picks. Nana-iro Inko because it sounds like a fun, under-estimated Tezuka title and Saint Oniisan because I read it (when I felt less guilty about scanlations) and loved it so much. (I would buy for myself in an instant and recommend it to all my friends who have a good sense of humor about religion.) It would break my heart to never ever see either title in English, in my lifetime. (Whereas I just want to see more of Moto Hagio’s work and had a hard time picking between A Cruel God Reigns and Poe no Ichizoku.)

So I’ll ask again: If you could have any two titles published in your language, regardless of any extenuating circumstances, what would those two titles be?

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The 2010 Great Shoujo Manga Gift Guide

A few days ago, as I was shopping at Borders, I heard my first Christmas music of the season. Now Christmas music usually makes me want to kill people, but instead of taking it out on the checkout clerk, I decided it would be a good time to start writing this gift guide instead.

Yes, I am a total scrooge when it comes to Christmas, but there are other holidays coming up and this gift guide will be useful for all of them. But before we get started, I would like to remind you that you can find out more about the 2010 Great Manga Gift Guide here and also view other 2010 gift guides.

Now onto something that makes me much less grumpy…shoujo manga! (And some josei too, of course.)

The Prettiest, Shiniest Thing You Can Buy For That Special Someone Who Likes Pretty, Shiny Things

You guessed it! I’m talking about Moto Hagio’s A Drunken Dream and Other Stories. Oh yes, this is 288 pages of hardcover, gold embossed shoujo from a classic master of shoujo manga. Even better, while supplies last, you can get your giftee a copy with a signed plate from Hagio herself when you order the book from Fantagraphics directly. Filled with short stories that span Hagio’s career, this book isn’t for children, but anyone from your mature older teen (if you feel comfortable with them reading about issues like abortion and suicide attempts) to adults who still love a good shoujo fix, classical manga or just something different from the norm. It makes a fantastic read and an excellent coffee table book for someone who loves manga.

For The Naughty Girl

So maybe you’re looking for a manga for that special someone who just happens to be heavily into hilarious smut. If that’s the case, look no further than Butterflies, Flowers. There are very few raunchy shoujo or josei titles that get published in English and this is one of the few that does it successfully without turning the heroine into a pawn of the men vying for her. The relationship between the heroine, Choko, and her romantic interest, Masayuki, is very give and take. Choko used to be the daughter of a very rich family where Masayuki was a servant. Now their roles are reversed as she is a poor, lowly secretary at a real estate company and Masayuki is a high-class executive who likes to sexually harass her openly. But Choko doesn’t let him get away with jack squat if he embarrasses her and Masayuki’s teases are beyond humiliating sometimes. It’s like watching that really cute couple that always makes half-joking, but pointed comments at each other in manga form.

For Someone Who Likes The Cute (or Yotsuba&!)

The obvious choice for this category would be Otomen, but if you know your giftee is already collecting that series, what do you do? They’re going to get themselves the next volume anyway and you’d like to gift something they haven’t read so you can get that “OMG I LOVE THIS MANGA! Thanks for giving it to me! Is there more?” feeling. That’s why I suggest Bunny Drop, an adorable story about a 30-something office worker who decides to spontaneously adopt his 4-year-old aunt when his grandfather dies. (That’s where the Yotsuba&! part came from, if you were wondering.) Bunny Drop is mostly about Daikichi learning the ins and outs of caring for a young, emotional child, he also takes time to connect with her and learn about her mysterious past. Rin, however, steals the show with her cuteness. And, in my opinion, Bunny Drop is the best josei to come out this year.

For The Romantic Who Wants to Be Swept Away

Stepping on Roses by Rinko Ueda is classic romance novel fodder. Poor girl needs money, poor girl meets rich man who just  happens to need a stand-in wife that he doesn’t want to love, money exchanges hands and they wind up falling in love reluctantly. I seem to be one of the few bloggers who actually likes this series, most others think Sumi is a total limp noodle. When I first read it, I too was hesitant because of what other people had said. I was surprised that Sumi wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. Sure, she’s clueless about the lifestyle of her rich husband, illiterate and much more, but she sticks to her guns and takes the opportunity to learn and do her job. I felt like Sumi was an English major suddenly stuck into an advanced engineering class. She has the pep and the ability to learn, but feels lost compared to the other characters who grew up in that environment. The important part is she never really loses her resolve. Perhaps I just really like Rinko Ueda’s manga, but she creates an awesome Meiji era/Victorian romance with lots of drama, a cheery heroine and awesome (albeit historically inaccurate) fashion.

For Your Future Astronaut

Twin Spica is like a dramatic space-age shoujo manga. That’s saying a lot because Twin Spica actually ran in a seinen magazine. Still, it reminds me a lot of the shoujo classic To Terra…, without the dramatic racial politics and the super-advanced civilization, of course. With the cute school girl heroine and the competitive astronaut school drama, it’s something any shoujo manga or scifi fan can enjoy. At the same time, it’s a great gift for someone who isn’t a fan of all the normal shoujo cliches and wants something a little bit more mature and original. It’s a little bit heavy and sad at times, but if your giftee isn’t the Arina Tanemura manga type, then a couple volumes of Twin Spica will make an excellent gift.

For The Graphic Novel Purist

Got someone in your life who you want to share your passion for manga with, but they’re more about the graphic novels? Perhaps you should pair Fumi Yoshinaga’s All My Darling Daughters with Natsume Ono’s Not Simple. Both are fantastic manga that focus more on the craft of storytelling than keeping the story going like many manga do. Any woman with a mother can relate to All My Darling Daughters and Not Simple’s tragic story is intriguing. They’re both great ways to show the reluctant reader that manga isn’t all just about ninjas and magical girls, but has a lot of titles to fit different tastes.

For The Fangirl

I know I shouldn’t do this because I worked on the series… I’ve been trying so hard not to, but…Hetalia: Axis Powers. There! I said it! If your giftee doesn’t already have it, then get it for them! If they didn’t like the anime, don’t take this as a bad sign. I’ve heard tons of people saying they liked the manga way more, but hated the anime and I can see why. The anime was fujoshi-fied in order to make more money, but the manga is a lot less overwhelmingly cutesy and more about the political/historical relationships. If all else fails, TOKYOPOP has a lot of charming shoujo manga in their catalog. But I shouldn’t say anymore! NRGH, THIS IS SO HARD!!!! Seriously, they’ve put out some great shoujo in the past few years. I just don’t feel right pimping more than one recent title.

For The Shoujo Fan Who’s Read Every Single Japanese Manga You Can Think Of

Have an extensive shoujo collector to shop for? Get her started on sunjeong manhwa! There’s plenty of cute titles out there like 10, 20, 30, X Diary and Please, Please Me from Netcomics. Yen Press has a pretty substantial sunjeong manhwa catalog and TOKYOPOP has a ton of out of print manhwa that were very under-appreciated, so you can probably find some in a bargain bin somewhere. (Sadly, but at least it’s cheap, right?)

For Your Shoujo Manga Fan/Foodie

There are actually a lot of manga that fit this category out there, but I love Mixed Vegetables the best. It’s about two kids in a culinary high school who have dreams to be a pasty chef and a sushi chef, but the one dreaming of being sushi chef is the daughter of a pastry chef and the one dreaming of being a pastry chef is a son of a sushi chef! Obviously, they team up to help each other achieve their dreams, but along the way there’s a lot of romance, drama and focus on delicious sushi and pastries! Nummers. It’s a typical shoujo manga in a lot of ways, but at the same time, a bit like a shounen manga where the protagonists are fighting to reach their dreams.

For The One Who Still Stumps You

I’ll always recommend this as long as I live: gift cards. If you truly have no clue, there is nothing better than a good chunk of money (at least $25) on a bookstore gift card. Or a local comic book store gift card (assuming they have a substantial manga section) or a Right Stuf gift card. That way, your giftee will get the money to spend on whatever manga they want and you will know they will be satisfied with that next volume or two of their favorite series.

In case you didn’t find what you were looking for with this list, you can also check out my Shoujo Manga Gift Guide from last year. Happy shopping!

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Discussion: Why do readers shun shojo?

Flowers, sparkles and pretty boys. Is this all shojo is about?

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about people’s dismissive and insulting attitude towards shojo manga in the past few weeks. I can honestly say, I sort of understand why shojo gets dissed a lot. While there’s plenty of really awesome shojo out there, there’s also a lot of it that just repeats the same story with other characters and variations of theme. When you compare them to older, more experimental shojo manga like that by Moto Hagio and her peers, the difference is rather vast.

Despite all this, I love shojo manga. In fact, lately I’ve been feeling a little starved lately for it. It’s not that other types of manga are bad, but shojo is the reason I got into manga in the first place. Perhaps this makes me girly…but I am a woman, aren’t I? Why do I have to prove that I’m manly when I’m not a man in the first place? I’m OK with being swept away by romance and a few tired cliches every once in awhile. And there’s plenty of great shojo in English out there that avoids a lot of the cliches AND goes unappreciated.

So readers, I’d really like to know how YOU feel about shojo. Do you love it? Hate it? Why do you feel that way about it and what shojo manga do you enjoy? Why do you think some readers shun shojo for other types of manga?

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My San Diego Comic-Con 2010: Part 2

My this is late. Sorry everyone, I had to take care of a loopy boyfriend on Monday, Tuesday was just non-stop for me and last night I just forgot. (He had a medical procedure done that involved anesthesia. It was sort of fantastic to see him all wobbly and slurring his words. Best of all, he forgot a sock at the doctor’s office. Never mind the fact that he didn’t take his socks off during the procedure.)

Onward!

Friday: I started my day off with the Moto Hagio spotlight panel. (Horrendously under-attended, might I add.) Before I launch into an explanation of the panel, however, let me explain this: Moto Hagio is pretty much why I was at Comic-Con this year. I am not kidding. I was SO DEVASTATED to hear that she was coming and I wasn’t. And then I realized I could get a professional badge! Oh joyous day! I adore older manga and I was quite looking forward to seeing one of the Magnificent Forty Niners and a great mangaka talk about her career.

That being said, the spotlight panel was everything I could have ever hoped for!

Hagio-sensei launched into a short overview of her career, starting with her short stories and then with The Poe Clan, which was her first longer narrative about boys who are stuck as teenagers after being turned into vampires. The Poe Clan‘s first collected volume sold out on the first day, which allowed her to continue working on Heart of Thomas, which was considered unpopular by editors at the time. After that, she began working on They Were Eleven and Marginal, both scifi manga influenced by her love of Western scifi, a genre she read passionately as a child.

My favorite part of the panel, however, had to be Hagio-sensei’s discussion of the various issues surround her stories. Many of them were very personal, including her mother’s strong dislike of manga and criticism of her career. She also spoke about her interest in psychology and child abuse and how this lead to short stories such as Iguana Girl and Hanshin as well as longer narratives such as A Cruel God Reigns in Heaven. For her to share such personal details about her career takes a lot of courage, but it made everyone in the audience feel ten times closer to her than someone who feels the need to talk only about their stories and not the personal influences behind them. It made the panel much more interesting than any canned answer from a Hollywood exec in Hall H. (I will never venture there as long as I live, I think.)

Hagio-sensei was presented an Inkpot Award at the start of the panel and I believe she more than earned it by the time the panel was over when she generously donated all the manga she spoke about to Comic-Con for posterity. For more about Moto Hagio, check out Shaenon Garrity’s excellent interview.

A little while later, Yen Press had their industry panel, which was the only straight industry panel I was able to attend. (I skipped Bandai and FUNimation because I had heard most of their announcements at Anime Expo. Other panels I missed because I had to attend a wedding in Los Angeles on Saturday.) There, Yen Press announced new licenses including The Betrayal Knows My Name by Hotaru Odagiri, High School of the Dead by Daisuke Sato and Shoji Sato, Aron’s Absurd Armada by MiSun Kim and The Bride’s Stories by Kaoru Mori. They also licensed another arc of Higurashi When They Cry, but I don’t seem to have the exact title in my notes.

I am looking forward to The Bride’s Stories (Otoyome-Gatari) the most because I once pitched it (as a long shot) to TOKYOPOP. I was afraid the title would never come stateside due to the nature of the main couple (she is 18 or 20 and he is about 13, despite the fact that nothing happens between them and the manga is set over 100 years ago.)

Yen Press also gave us more information about the online edition of Yen Plus, their manga magazine that was recently taken out of print circulation. The viewer is not flash-based, which gives readers the ability to view it on their iPhone or iPad, and is region-free, which means readers around the world will be able to legally view the magazine’s contents. The month-to-month paypal payments cost $2.99 and also get you access to the previous month’s copy, in case you missed it. Not a bad deal!

My exhibit hall antics on Friday consisted of me and Gia Manry of Anime News Network storming around the exhibit hall looking for hard-to-find manga publishers after a nice chat with freelance translator William Flanagan. We met up with Ed Chavez of Vertical Inc. and met Felipe Smith, the creator of MBQ and Peepo Choo. Also, to our delight, Viz Kids had announced the licensing of an original Mameshiba graphic novel and there were Mameshiba toys for sale at the Toynami booth. There’s nothing like grown women plotting how to steal all the awesome Mameshiba products Toynami had on display, but not for sale. (Later on in the day, we met up with more grown women excited about the Mameshiba toys and we had a *moment* together. Good times.) I am overjoyed to hear that now I will be able to gorge myself on adorable dog/bean toys that make people uncomfortable with random trivia. Somewhere in there, I also managed to get Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu signed by Junko Mizuno.

In the evening, Jason Thompson held his Future of Manga panel. While there was plenty of interesting factoids about manga magazine circulation and such in Jason’s presentation, I feel like he got a little side-tracked by the past and the present of manga. He failed to speak about the future except for a few rushed minutes of speaking about online manga distribution in Japan, denying panel attendees any really meaty discussion. I feel like Jason could have spoken for hours and hours on end about manga and still not have touched upon the future of it, so I will blame time constraints and the vast depth of his knowledge. Nothing that can’t be fixed by more careful presentation next year. I still enjoyed it because it gave me a lesson on a good chunk of manga history, but I wonder if other attendees might have found it boring.

Saturday: I didn’t attend any panels, so I’m afraid I don’t have many personal experiences that were interesting to recount. I tried to get a robot signed by Tom Siddell of Gunnerkrigg Court (a webcomic with a print version by Archaia) and failed because I had to return to L.A. I succeeded, however, in getting autographs from the creators of Avatar: the Last Airbender and two of the artists who have worked on Vertigo’s Madame Xanadu, Marley Zarcone and Amy Reeder. Then I meandered around the con and wound up having an excited discussion about Oishinbo: A La Carte (amongst other things) with freelance Viz editor Shaenon Garrity at her booth. (She is also the creator of two webcomics, Narbonic and Skin Horse.)

I, sadly, just missed a signing for Felipe Smith (but made up for that one on Monday as he had a signing at my local comic book store), the infamous Hall H stabbing and the TOKYOPOP panel where the company announced the licensing of Mr. Clean: Fully Equipped by Toya Tobina, Pavane for a Dead Girl by Koge Donbo and Sakura no Ichiban by Chibi Vampire creator Yuna Kagesaki. Drawn & Quarterly, fresh from their double Eisner win for Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life, announced that they will be releasing Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths and NonNonBa by Shigeru Mizuki (of GeGeGe no Kitaro fame.)

Sunday: I wasn’t there. I totally just lazed around on my ass all day. (Except for writing my first SDCC 2010 post!)

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My San Diego Comic-Con 2010: Part 1

Wow, Comic-Con was a blast! I was trying to think of any complaints, but I honestly could not think of any that were actually con-related other than my poor aching feet, which I rested today. I only got to stay through part of Saturday, but I got a lot packed in. Here’s the highlights of what I did:

Preview Night: My night was a little relaxed. I met up with friends at the hotel, got our badges, headed into the dealers hall and bought things that people wanted me to buy before heading out to dinner. In more exciting news than what I ate for dinner, Vertical Inc. announced their license of Lychee Light Club by Usamaru Furuya. If you remember that name, CMX was set to license Furuya’s 51 Ways to Save Her before their sad and sudden closure and Viz has licensed Furuya’s Genkaku Picasso.

Thursday: I started my day with Top Shelf’s Manga For Grownups: Gekiga, Garo, Ax and the alternative manga revolution panel. Comic book writer Sean Michael Wilson and manga scholar Ryan Holmberg led the panel along with Top Shelf’s Leigh Walton. They talked about the beginnings of gekiga back in the 1950’s as an alternative to manga (in other words, the word gekiga replaces the word manga) and how this lead to the famous alternative manga mag Garo and it’s replacement Ax, an English version of which is out this month by Top Shelf. (Here’s my review.) They were also pleased to announce Cigarette Girl by Masahiko Matsumoto will be released by Top Shelf sometime in 2011.

A little while later, I stopped by the Fantagraphics booth to get my copy of A Drunken Dream signed by Moto Hagio. It has to be the most beautiful book I’ve bought in the last few years and I haven’t even gotten a chance to really read it yet. Please, please, please buy this book and let it be known to publishers that we want this kind of quality and these kinds of amazing mangaka on our bookshelves!

Next came the Best and Worst of Manga panel, led by Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter. The panel was a fantastic splash of excellent manga, god-awful manga (including one I worked on, Red Hot Chili Samurai *sob*) and a wishlist of manga the panelists would love to see. (And later in the con, there was wish fulfillment!)+ Unfortunately I was too busy being a fan girl to remember everyone on the panel or take notes, but the panelists included Deb Aoki of About.com, editor Shaenon Garrity of Viz and Jason Thompson of Suvudu.com. It was an excellent panel that filled the room instantly, so if you plan to go next year (which I recommend) make sure you get their early and hopefully it will be in a much larger room. EDIT: Here’s the list of the best and worst manga of this year in it’s entirety.

Right afterward was the Lost in Translation panel run by freelance translator and former Viz editor-in-chief William Flanagan. Panelists included Shaenon Garrity and Jason Thompson again, as well as many other manga industry freelancers. They opened up the floor to questions and gave a lot of helpful advice to people looking to break into the industry and opinions on the future of the industry, translating and scanlations.

That night I attended an anime and manga blogger meet-up at Analog Bar where I did way too much karaoke with Gia Manry of ANN and met awesome people such as Vertical Inc.’s Ed Chavez. If you want to get up close and personal with manga industry people, being a blogger helps a lot!

For brevity, I’m going to stop here and continue on my experiences at SDCC tomorrow. There’s just too much to put in one post!

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