Tag Archives: Viz Media

MANGA: VIZ Media Nabs Five Eisner Nominations!

Four manga series distributed by VIZ Media have been nominated for five Eisner awards – the awards named in honor of comics pioneer and legend, Will Eisner. The four titles nominated are: Cat-Eyed Boy, by Kazuo Umezi, BestU.S. Edition of International Material – Japan; COWA! by Akira Toriyama, Best Publication For Kids; Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, by Naoki Urasawa – Best continuing Series and Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Japan, and Solanin, by Inio Asano – Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Japan.

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Cat-Eyed Boy [Rated “T” for Older Teens] is a series of dark vignettes revolving around Cat-Eyed Boy, a half-human/half-monster child whose mostly human appearance bans him from the demon world. Being half of each means he is hated by both.

COWA! relates the adventures of Paifu, a half-human/half-vampire child, who gets into mischief with his ghostly best friend, Jose – until the Monster Flu strikes his town and only he, his few cuddies and a retired, curmudgeonly former Sumo champion are left healthy enough to find a cure. [Previously reviewed here, COWA! received a grade of “A”]

Double nominee Naoki Urasawa’s Monster [Rated “T” for Older Teens] spins the layered tale of how a famous surgeon, Dr. Kenzo Tenma, becomes the prime suspect in a series of murders after he saves the live of a critically wounded young boy who is destined for a terrible fate.

Solanin is the story of Meiko Inoue, a recent college grad who works as an office lady – a job she hates; her freelance illustrator boyfriend crashes at her apartment because his job doesn’t well enough to rent a place of his own, and her parents send her packages of fresh vegetables that rot in her refrigerator. Meiko struggle comes from being unable to figure out how she fits in the world.

MANGA: Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka – Astro Boy Tribute Is an Instant Classic!

North Americans might not recognize the name Osamu Tezuka, a significant percentage of them know about Astro Boy – which, along with Tezuka’s Kimba the White Lion, was the first anime´ to really connect with that audience. One of the best Astro Boy adventures – both in a twelve-part manga serial and as an episode of the anime´ series – was The Greatest Robot in the World. Naoki Urasawa, best known for his manga series, Monster, has chosen to take that epic adventure and re-work it for today’s audience.

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MANGA: 20th Century Boys: Nostalgia, Destiny, Conspiracies and Friend

Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys is an odd and interesting manga. It’s about a group of men who formed a club when they were kids and now find the symbol they used for their club appearing in their adult lives.

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As Kenji and his friends come together for the funeral of one of their old gang, Kenji receives a letter from the deceased – a letter that includes the symbol [which the others in the gang have long since forgotten]. At the same time, there is a mysterious fellow who calls himself Friend, who performs feats, like levitation, above a stage floor on which is inscribed the circle. There’s also a mysterious girl who is troubled by unusual noises that emanate from something big in the night.

Disappearing families, deaths made to appear to be suicides, seeming supermen – and the evilest twins in history – make for an exciting read. Urasawa balances the mundane and the unusual with deftness. He has a gift for delineating a solid character with a minimum of information, and his layouts are fresh and frequently subtle. The story’s complexities – it frequently moves between time periods and groups of characters – are intriguing, and Urasawa builds layers of mystery which each shift.

I finished the two hundred-pages of Volume One: Friends in almost no time at all. Indeed, 20th Century Boys practically read itself to me – Urasawa’s storytelling skills are that sharp. If this isn’t classic storytelling, I don’t know what is.

Final Grade: A

MANGA: Oishinbo, A la Carte: Japanese Cuisine –Estranged Father and Son Coerced to Devise the Ultimate Menu!

Oishinbo is a long-running manga series that encompasses more than one hundred issues in Japan. Perhaps it’s because VIZ Media is uncertain about the North American reaction to a manga about the world of cooking and food culture, but the North American market they have chosen to publish a kind of “greatest hits” series of select stories taken from the series and present them in “a la carte” editions. Japanese Cuisine in the first in this unique series and the unique challenge presented to an estranged father and son.

Oishinbo 01 JapCuisine

Kaibara Yuzan is the father – an artist and founder and director of The Gourmet Club. Yamaoka Shiro is the son – he’s a journalist for the Tozai News. They are estranged because of both their headstrong personalities and because Yamaoka destroyed all of his father’s paintings and pottery to punish him for always placing his family second to his obsession with food. When Ohara Daizo, publisher of the Tozai News, places Yamaoka in charge of the Ultimate Menu Project and asks Kaibara to work with his son, the reaction is not what he was hoping for.

Japanese Cuisine is not just a tale about the creation of a menu – it’s about the kind of people it takes to do things right, and whether Japan even has a cuisine. In the pages of this manga you will find intriguing and entertaining characters who grow as people even as they learn about Japan’s food and food culture. The manga starts off with two sashimi recipes before the story even begins – and within the pages of the manga, we learn why what appears to be so simple is really not.

Between the ongoing clash between father and son, and the responses of their friends and colleagues, we learn as much about Japanese culture as its food. Oishinbo A la Carte: Japanese Cuisine is an enthralling look at Japanese culture from a perspective we’ve never seen before. Tetsu Kariya [story] and Akira Hanasaki have created something, here, that is not just extremely good, but something that is genuinely unique.

Final Grade: A

Bleach, Popular Anime Gets 2nd Season Pickup

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BLEACH follows Ichigo Kurosaki, an ordinary 15-year-old boy who also happens to be able to see ghosts. His fate takes an extraordinary turn when he meets Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper who shows up at Ichigo’s house on the trail of a Hollow, a malevolent lost soul. Drawn to Ichigo’s high level of spirit energy, the Hollow attacks him and his family, and as a last resort, Rukia decides to transfer part of her Soul Reaper powers to Ichigo. As a result of Rukia’s actions, she is sent back to the Soul Society, where she is condemned to die. In Season 2, a stronger and more powerful Ichigo demonstrates a new resolve to save Rukia from certain death. This culminates in an explosive confrontation with Byakuya Kuchiki, Rukia’s by-the-book brother and his most intense opponent yet! Soon, Ichigo’s journey takes him back to the World of the Living where he must deal with a new assortment of supernatural enemies as well as the rigors of high-school life.

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