Last Week in Geekdom – Your Weekly News Round-Up (11/19 – 11/25)

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Welcome back to another installment of “Last Week in Geekdom” where I comb the internet for all the news you need to know. I hope all of my US readers had a great Thanksgiving and a great holiday weekend. I just got back from visiting my family yesterday, so the next manga review will be going up tonight. Anyways, I feel like there might not be that much pressing news items this week because of the holidays, but see below for some of the news I managed to pull out this week. Notably: there’s a lot of chatter around manga endings and beginnings this week, presumably because it’s getting close to the end of the year; A Silent Voice is coming back to theaters in the US; and Image Comics finds themselves in a trademark dispute. Be sure to check out the articles and videos below, and I hope you all have a great rest of your Sunday! Continue reading

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Comics as Literature Part 2: Literary Graphic Novel Canon

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What would be your response if someone inexperienced with reading graphic novels and comics came up to you for advice on where to start? What kind of titles would you recommend? I bet I can name a few of the ones you just thought of. Maus, right? The Watchmen? It’s easy enough to pull these titles out of the many hundreds of thousands of different comic and graphic novels, not just because they’re so popular, but because over the years fans, creators, and academics alike have developed a fairly specific graphic novel literary canon. It’s become second nature to recommend these books to new fans of the medium, and I see the same titles come up again and again in message boards, from articles, and from classes at colleges trying to teach graphic novels as literature. It’s become sort of ironic to me in a way how many fans and creators, through the quest to be taken seriously as a literary medium, have created their own literary canon with the same few books recommended again and again. Continue reading

Last Week in Geekdom – Your Weekly News Round-Up (11/12 – 11/18)

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Welcome back to another installment of “Last Week in Geekdom” where I comb the internet for all the news you need to know so you don’t have to. I took the whole week off from work for Thanksgiving, so I’m planning on trying to get more work done in the coming days and making sure some posts are scheduled for when I’m offline for the holidays. I’m also fooling around with some ideas on how to streamline these news round-up posts, so if you see some changes to the format in the next couple weeks, that’s why. If you have any ideas in that vein, be sure to let me know in the comments. As for news highlights for this week: I’ve added a special section on Stan Lee below to capture all the news and features being published after his death; Anime NYC happened this week, so there’s a whole ton of licensing announcements below; and quite a few anime films are coming to US theaters next year. Be sure to check out the videos and features below, and have a great rest of your Sunday! Continue reading

Waxing Philosophical: Current Opinions on Comics as Literature, Part 1

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by Michael Kupperman

Just this past week, the late and great Stan Lee passed away, one of the founders of the US comic book industry. He was and forever will be a cultural icon so many in the industry hold dear, and his passing reverberated across comics media and into the mainstream media. Unfortunately, the news reached the ears of Bill Maher, who responded to the passing of Stan Lee by criticizing comic books in a blog post. In it he says, “twenty years or so ago, something happened – adults decided they didn’t have to give up kid stuff. And so they pretended comic books were actually sophisticated literature.” He got a ton of backlash for the things he said, but his comments point back to a long-time struggle of comic artists and the industry: the struggle to be taken seriously. Something I had hoped was starting to seriously fizzle out, but apparently not. Continue reading

Tokyo Tarareba Girls Manga Volume 2 Review

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I’m approaching 30 and am two years out from getting married, so it’s safe to say that I’m not really the target audience for Tokyo Tarareba Girls, but I do feel like I know enough people like the women in this manga to feel a connection to their story. They’re thirty year old women who have been told over and over again by society that they might as well be washed-up has-beens if they’re not married and living comfortably by now. This manga is simultaneously a depressing and entertaining look at how society–Japanese society in particular–enforces ideals of marriage, success, and love on women throughout their lives while setting an arbitrary cut-off date for these things at 30 years old. Akiko Higashimura continues to use a sharp sense of wit, a dynamic art style, and a keen understanding of society to create a truly entertaining manga for thirty-somethings and those of us approaching that arbitrary milestone age.

Volume two of Tokyo Tarareba Girls picks up right where volume one left off, with the fallout over Rinko drunkenly sleeping with the famous model Key. After finding herself alone the morning after, Rinko heads back home by herself feeling like it’s becoming ever more apparent she’s going to be alone for the rest of her life. Meanwhile, her friends Kaori and Koyuki are feeling like they’ve found a small bit of bliss while hooking up with a married man and an unavailable ex-boyfriend respectively. However, even these two begin to see that sex isn’t everything and the same old “what-if’s” begin to pop up again as they all have to face up against younger and fitter women. Continue reading

Last Week in Geekdom – Your Weekly News Round-Up (11/5 – 11/11)

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Welcome back to another installment of “Last Week in Geekdom” where I comb the internet for all the news you need to know so you don’t have to. I’m trying to get back into the groove of writing twice a week and taking a look through my manga backlog, so be prepared for more manga reviews coming up this month. As for major news items for this week: the effects of the Crunchyroll/Funimation split is still being felt as Crunchyroll loses 300+ titles to the FunimationNow service; Netflix has announced 5 new animated titles coming to their service, some based off of major franchises; and the comic industry has seen a big sales success this past October, becoming a major sales month for the industry. Be sure to check out some of the articles and videos down below, and as always, have a great Sunday! Continue reading

Water Dragon’s Bride Manga Volume 1 First Impressions

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A couple months ago I posted on Twitter asking for opinions on what manga I should buy if I could only buy one volume, and this manga, Water Dragon’s Bride, was one of the suggestions I got. I’ve been trying to branch out from some of the longer running series I’ve been reading, trying out new stories and manga that look interesting, so I figured why not give this one a shot. I honestly wasn’t sure what my opinion of the story might be going in, but I was a little worried that I probably wouldn’t like this one or that it would have some problematic age-related romance in it that I usually steer clear of. And in some ways this manga surprised me, but in others it also confused me. I can see the appeal of the story and what the mangaka might have been going for in this first volume, but in all honesty, I’m not sure this manga is for me.

The Water Dragon’s Bride is a shoujo manga created by mangaka Rei Toma who has also created Dawn of Arcana. It’s a story about a young girl who is completely spoiled by her parents that gets transported to another world through a small pond in her backyard. The girl, Asahi, has no idea where she is and everything and everyone in this world is so strange and old-fashioned, totally different from the bustle of modern Tokyo she just left. She soon meets a young boy named Subaru who offers to shelter her while they look for a way to get her back to her parents. But Asahi’s strange clothes and way of speaking scare the other members of his village, and they begin to think that maybe she would be a suitable sacrifice to the god that lives in the lake. Continue reading

Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits Anime 2nd Cour Review

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Kakuriyo hits a lot of the key points for me in terms of a series that I know I’m going to be interested in long-term. It has a focus on youkai, and as you probably know by now, I will forever be drawn to series that use concepts of mythology and the supernatural. But it keeps going further, by blending this youkai base with concepts of cooking and romance. In essence, it becomes its own weird isekai/cooking genre, with similarities to say Restaurant to Another World where the main character is forced to cook for youkai and other interesting characters with the romance integrated into the main plotline but not overshadowing it. I have to say at the end of watching the last cour, I do find myself liking the series as a whole and might pursue looking into the manga since the volumes are just starting to publish here in the US. However, I do have certain problems with the series, but those mainly focus on the quality of animation.

The second cour of Kakuriyo picks right up where the first cour ended, and while I only went up to episode 12 in the last review, I would say the second cour starts around episode 14. It’s within these first couple episodes that we see the beginning of the second major story arc with the arrival of the head of the competing Southern inn Orio-ya, Ranmaru. We met some of the employees of this inn before in the last cour, but it is here that it is revealed that Ginji’s status as a Tenjin-ya employee is only temporary, and he called back to Orio-ya to complete a special “ceremony”. In an effort to prevent this from happening and convince him to come back, Aoi threatens Ranmaru and Ougon-douji and is promptly kidnapped and taken with them to Orio-ya where her struggles begin anew. Continue reading

Last Week in Geekdom – Your Weekly News Round-Up (10/29 – 11/4)

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Welcome back to another installment of “Last Week in Geekdom” where I comb the internet for all the news you need to know so you don’t have to. I hope you all enjoyed the mythology special from last month. Please let me know in the comments whether you want to see more of it next year or if you have any other suggestions for an October special. It’s back to regular reviews and articles this week. As for news items this week: Crunchyroll has announced what titles will be leaving their platform following the end of their deal with Funimation; Dark Horse has sold a controlling interest in their company to a Chinese investor; and drama continues on the comicsgate front in two separate articles down below. Be sure to check out the videos and articles posted below, and be sure to have a great rest of your Sunday! Continue reading

October Mythology Special: Kuchisake-Onna, or What Happens When Ghost Stories Get Too Real

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You’re walking down a dark street at night. Mist is starting to cover the ground making the road ahead of you hard to see. Suddenly you see the shadow of a woman step out of the mist and walk towards you. She looks like a fairly normal Japanese woman and is wearing a surgical mask to cover her face. That in and of itself isn’t weird as many people in Japan wear masks when they are sick or for various other reasons. The woman continues to walk towards you, and when she is close enough for you to see her face clearly, she asks, “Am I beautiful?” Not wanting to be rude, you answer “Yes”. The woman takes hold of her mask, pulling it down to reveal a mouth that has been slit open ear-to-ear, and asks, “Even now?” You have just met the Kuchisake-onna, how do you answer? Be careful, if you answer wrong, you could end up looking like her. Continue reading