Instant Manga Reviews: Nichijou 4, Mozuya-san 2, Moetan 3, Obaachan ga Shitai Kusai yo (Shintaro Kago), Itsumo no Hanashi (Akino Kondoh)
Nichijou, arawi keiichi. Kadokawa/Shonen Ace/Comptiq. Vol 4 published 1/26/2009.
I’ve been following this one on the blog for a while, and while I really liked volumes 1 and 3, 2 wasn’t that hot and 4 isn’t as exceptional as 1/3, I have to say. keiichi still has absolute top notch gag manga chops (layout/framing/timing, etc), but a lot of the best material/neta were continuations of earlier gags like the Soccer Go club and the daifuku mascot mask. I also have to warn the sensitive that there is a “what’s the deal with the crazy size names at Starbucks” chapter in here, though keiichi’s ability to draw incredible character reactions paired with his sense of timing and tempo still made me laugh at a topic that is basically comic suicide in the states at this point. Longer stories really seem to be his forte, seeing as I don’t know if I’ve laughed at one of the professor/Nano 4koma strips yet. Still in my personal list of favorite gag manga, but maybe that’s because most of the rest of the list is Bonobono.
Volume 2 of this was pretty impressive for me since Shinofusa manages to take a pretty silly concept (tsundere as clinical disease) and actually make something other than cheap gags out of it. Volume 2 keeps the drama going strong as Kabashima tells Mozuya that he’s a masochist, which completely throws a wrench into Mozuya’s psychology of “I’m sick and hurt people when they’re nice to me -> people are still nice to me after i hurt them only because they know something’s wrong with me -> they’re looking down on me, thus i hate them more.” Of course, Mozuya also discovers someone she wants to feel bad for of her own, basically making a lot of the character interaction a look at the dynamics of the whole moe/amae thing. (has anyone talked about moe in relation to the concept of amae? I’d do it but I’m never writing a non-graded paper that has to do with psychoanalysis.) Of course there’s still some fanservice and even a weird reader stand-in Sexy Otaku Nurse character, but overall it’s shaping up to be a very interesting drama, kind of along the same thematic lines as NHK. Time to wait another 5 months for volume 3 :(
Moetan, illust. POP. Sansai Books. Vol 1 published 6/1/2006.
This was given to me as a birthday present from a fellow internet illuminatus who I met last semester, so I haven’t actually had the opportunity to read volumes 1 or 2, or watch the anime, so I’m not exactly an expert on lolicon English manuals. That said, this is a hilarious lolicon English manual. A little over half of the book is ostensibly an attempt to teach English to Japanese nerds through sentences and examples that they use in their daily lives! Thus, the example sentences are mostly nerd jokes (You said you don’t like crowds. But somehow you casually endure the crowd in Comiket. / She doesn’t recognize the existence of girls who dislike homosexuals.) and there are also some conversation examples, one that’s nothing but tsundere lines, and another that’s a conversation between an American and Japanese otaku in Japan. ( That’s the coolest thing ever! The maids out front of the station waiting to greet you! Let’s go into one of those places! Hey Sam, look at this picture of the dolphin! Is this also one of the “Moe”? Wow, Akihabara is really a cool place!), and so on. In between language examples is a story about Nijihara(虹原, o hoh hoh hoh) Inku’s attempts to bring her friend back from his secluded otaku world by shattering all of his silly nerd dreams and illusions by doing things such as showing him what the person who plays the cute female character in the dream-world MMO he’s addicted to really looks like, or calling the police on him for the books he’s selling at his dream-world Comiket shutter booth. (There’s a certain sense of hypocrisy in that one when you realize that POP illustrated this thing, but never mind that). Of course, the sentences all appear to be J->E translations, so I imagine that this would actually be more helpful as any sort of learning tool to an English speaker at an intermediate level of Japanese language experience than to a Japanese person trying to learn natural-sounding English. Either way, don’t take it so serious.
Obaachan ga Shitai Kusai Yo, Shintaro Kago. Kubo Shoten. Published 2/1/2009.
I probably shouldn’t admit to buying Shintaro Kago comics since I am not writing for a blog called Same Hat!, nor do I read Vice, but I like living on the dangerous side. The volume is a collection of shorts by Kago, most of which were surprisingly non-pornographic. That is to say, there’s no real focus on sex, but, as in all good Kago stories, on pooping. To be honest, I was not aware that one could make so many poop jokes, some of which were laugh-out-loud funny. Of course, that probably says more about me than about this book, but I mean, these are really top-tier poop jokes that also reference old zombie movies, and classic rakugo skits while being painfully satirical of modern events. Beyond the Life is Poop and Die nihilism that’s fairly standard in Kago stories, there’s stories like one near the back of the volume, Mirai Eigyou-ki: Kinyuu Kaisha-Hen (Future Business Report: The Finance Industry) about investing in promising young criminals, who currently show signs of future criminal activity, which you can cash in on when they make it huge on the news media after committing terrible crimes! To be specific for this chapter, after running people over in a truck in Akiba and stabbing them! oh, wait. too soon, dude. :(
Itsumo no Hanashi, Akino Kondoh. Seirinkogeisha. Published 9/25/2008.
I really should do a longer article on this since there’s a lot of blog buzz about the upcoming Ax anthology, which I believe Kondoh is doing the cover art for, but I really need to get to doing my homework, sorry! I first became interested in Kondoh after getting hooked on Nicovideo classic Densha Kamo Shirenai a while back (look at how low that sm number is!), but didn’t give Kondoh’s other works a whole lot more thought until this magically appeared in front of my face when I was looking around at Taco Che over the holidays. Itsumo no Hanashi is a collection of shorts from about the last decade by Kondoh, which range from somewhat light-hearted slice of life-ish stories about getting letters from old classmates (Itsumo no Hanashi) to seemingly drug-induced dream stories about talking to your legs and furniture (Kotatsu no Mawari de). Kondoh’s style is whimsical yet mysterious, but at the same time her art can get intensely unsettling and destabilizing. In terms of storytelling and overall effect, Kondoh reminds me a lot of Nekojiru at her best, using a very accessible style to get at some normally unaccessible feelings. Looking forward very much to getting her other collection as well as the English version of Ax (more info here, also here) once I get it through my head that buying one 1300y volume of absolutely beautiful manga is better than buying 13 volumes of fist of the north star at Book-Off. Well okay, maybe they’re about tied, but I ought to keep a good balance.