SEPTEMBER 26, 2011

Manga

The Book of Human Insects

Osamu Tezuka
(Vertical, $21.95, HC, 9781935654209)

It's no secret I'm a big Osamu Tezuka fan and I couldn't be happier with Vertical's steady stream of thoughtful, well-designed translations of his works. The newest release is THE BOOK OF HUMAN INSECTS. Originally written from 1970-1971, toward the beginning of his transition to darker, more adult tales, The Book of Human Insects centers around Toshiko Tomura, an alluring woman in her early twenties who wins top prizes in every field she enters - from acting to architecture to writing. In reality, however, Tomura is nothing but a brilliant mimic who has plagiarized, blackmailed, and stolen the works of others, often resorting to murder to achieve fame and celebrity. It's definitely lurid and dark, but completely entertaining and an interesting (albeit not very flattering) look at Japan's attitude toward ambitious women in the early 1970s. Rated M.

Sailor Moon, Vol. 1

Naoko Takeuchi
(Kodansha Comics, $10.99, TP, 9781935429746)

The first big manga success in the U.S. was SAILOR MOON, and Kodansha Comics is re-releasing the out-of-print series in brand-new editions, complete with all-new, accurate translations, original Japanese character names, detailed translation notes, and new cover art never before seen in the U.S. The story of Usagi Tsukino, a normal girl who discovers she's really a warrior whose destiny it is to save Earth, resonated strongly with teen girls (a group long-ignored by American comics publishers) and whose rabid affection for the series gave U.S. publishers a taste of what manga could do here in the States. Rated T.

Codename Sailor V, Vol. 1

Naoko Takeuchi
(Kodansha Comics, $10.99, TP, 9781935429777)

In addition to re-releasing Sailor Moon, Kodansha is also publishing CODE NAME SAILOR V, a prequel to the original series and one that has never before been published in the U.S., although both series were originally released simultaneously in Japan. The plot is pretty much the same, only here our heroine, 13-year-old Minako Aino, is given a magical pen that allows her to transform into the beautiful soldier of justice, Sailor Venus. This is shojo manga royalty, so expect the series to do quite well. Rated T.

Blood Blockade Battlefront, Vol. 1

Yasuhiro Nightow
(Dark Horse Books, $10.99, TP, 9781595827180)

The blend of humor, gunplay, supernatural monsters and high action that popularized Yasuhiro Nightow's Trigun is used to full effect in his newest work, BLOOD BLOCKADE BATTLEFRONT. A gateway has opened over New York City, connecting our reality to the netherworld, allowing strange creatures to cross over and trapping both beasts and humans together inside an impenetrable bubble surrounding the city. Helping to maintain the balance in this new reality is an organization called Libra, made up of humans with special abilities who work to thwart the evil plans of others. When Femt, the King of Depravity, unleashes a destructive divine entity hoping to breach the bubble and unleash the monsters on the rest of the world, Libra races to save the day. Trigun was a big hit when it was released a few years back, so look for this to do quite well. Rated T+.

Psyren, Vol. 1

Toshiaki Iwashiro
(Viz Media, $9.99, TP, 9781421536767)

Just out is the first volume in a new series, PSYREN. Ageha Yoshina is a high school student who is unexpectedly transported to a futuristic Japan, now a wasteland full of monsters controlled by the mysterious Nemesis Q, and must fight his way through the landscape to locate a gate - his only way back to the present. This ongoing series (16 volumes so far in Japan) has been serialized in Shonen Jump magazine since January, so there are already fans out there. Read the first chapter for free here. Rated T.

Laddertop, Vol. 1

Orson Scott Card, Emily Janice Card, & Honoel A. Ibardolaza
(Tor/Seven Seas, $10.99, TP, 9780765324603)

Orson Scott Card, with the help of his daughter, makes his manga debut with LADDERTOP. Best friends Robbi and Azure are selected to attend Laddertop Academy, a training program where the best candidates are chosen to perform maintenance duties on giant space stations connected to Earth by towers, known as Ladders. Powering the entire planet, these structures were built by the Givers, aliens who came to Earth 25 years ago and then mysteriously disappeared. Hot-tempered Azure is sure she'll be one of the few actually selected to ascend to the space station, but it's mild-mannered and thoughtful Robbi who is actually chosen. Soon after, Robbi begins experiencing odd happenings that point to a dangerous mystery involving the true intent of the Givers. Admittedly, I'm not the biggest fan of OEL (Original English Language) manga, but I really liked this and am looking forward to further installments. Honoel Ibardolaza's precise, clean art is great - some of the best I've ever seen in an OEL manga. This one is well worth trying. Read a 10-page preview here. Rated T.

Pokemon: Zoroark Master of Illusions

Momota Inoue
(Viz Media, $7.99, TP, 9781421542218)

Pokemon continues to sell very well, so you'll want to make sure you have the newest release, POKEMON: ZOROARK MASTER OF ILLUSIONS. Ash and Pikachu must solve an old mystery to save the people of Crown City from the powerful Pokemon, Zoroark. This was a late add-on that wasn't in the original Fall catalog, so make sure you're covered. Rated E.