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12:00 PM on 04.30.2010

VIZ paying rent on Saturn Apartments May 8th

Apartment living is pretty cool. Renting is less of a hassle than a mortgage, and the super's the guy you need to talk to about cleaning the drains and whatnot.That's tangentially similar to what's happening next week, as VIZ...

Josh Tolentino

11:00 AM on 12.16.2009

Viz kicking off 2010 with 'Not Simple'

We'll often get PR reminding us that one title or another is coming out next month or next week, and we should remind our readers about them. But those titles are often ones that people have a good idea about what they are, o...

Brad Rice

Japanator Recommends: Bokurano photo
Japanator Recommends: Bokurano
by Brad Rice

Alright, so I lied. We're not done with our SigIKKI coverage. I just couldn't help myself, really: Bokurano is probably one of their most popular titles when it comes to the SigIKKI label, and I'm starting to root the series on, even though I want to just be the cool indie hipster who reads Tokyo Flow Chart and What's The Answer.

Take a bunch of kids, give them a giant robot, and tell them to save the world. It's something we've always imagined doing, and we even read a bit about in 20th Century Boys. So what Bokurano essentially amounts to is something of a wish fulfillment fantasy for many of us guys (and apparently a lot of you girls) -- yet the series handles it with a surprising level of deftness.

The big thing with Bokurano is that the story doesn't feel like a typical "save the world" story. The whole time I've been reading it, something has been lurking in the back of my head telling me that something is going to go horribly awry with this. Perhaps its how their robotic guide has a plastered-on smile at all times, or the somber tone of some of the characters.

Either way, Bokurano is sure to be one of the front runners for SigIKKI once it makes it to print, and will ensure some success for the line. This will be a title to pass around to your friends for sure. Check it out over at the SigIKKI website and let us know what you think of it.

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Japanator Interview: Leyla Aker on Viz's SigIKKI photo
Japanator Interview: Leyla Aker on Viz's SigIKKI
by Brad Rice

We've been covering a number of titles from SigIKKI for the past week now, and so to cap off our coverage of it, I figured that it might be a good time to sit down and talk with someone at Viz about the whole hullabaloo over the project.

Leyla Aker, one of Viz's senior editorial managers, was kind enough to answer the call and spend a few minutes answering my questions, which range from what happens to those less-than-popular titles to what boundaries Viz is willing to cross when it comes to edgier manga. Who knows, they may rescue the Kodomo no Jikan license. Maybe in some perfect world.

Check out the interview after the jump and see why Viz is entrusting you, the common reader, with the power to decide the future of their titles instead of us ivory tower press. It's actually pretty awesome.

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Japanator Recommends: What's the Answer, I am a Turtle photo
Japanator Recommends: What's the Answer, I am a Turtle
by Brad Rice

Some of the stories over at SigIKKI are only a single chapter long, but they show some real promise -- especially their comedy works. Two works in particular caught my attention, and really deserve yours: What's the Answer by Tondabayashi and I am a Turtle by Temari Tamura.

What's the Answer is really short: only four pages. The premise is simple: a setup with some sort of question and three possible solutions that fill single-panel pages. The results are bizarre and ingeniously funny. The format seems fantastic and I'd love to read more, but Viz has yet to list any more on their release calendar. If they don't, it looks like I'll have to hunt this one down in Japanese.

The other, I am a Turtle proves itself to be a well-set up 4-koma title that's about an African turtle that's  made its way to Japan and now lives with his longtime owner in a dilapidated old hotel. It's even got blood stains on the wall. And so we follow the turtle and his cast of characters around as we see the world from his point of view. It's a terribly cute story, but Viz is releasing chapters every...two months? C'mon, for a 4-koma, you really could put this one out a bit quicker.

While it'll only take you a few minutes to read both of these titles, it's worth your time to check 'em out and let Viz know that they should be published. I'd be very sad to see these titles just languish in the ether of the web.

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Japanator (Doesn't) Recommend: I'll Give It My All...Tomorrow photo
Japanator (Doesn't) Recommend: I'll Give It My All...Tomorrow
by Brad Rice

There's always one bad apple in the group, and in the course of reviewing all the titles up for grabs over at, Shunju Aono's I'll Give It My All... Tomorrow fell utterly flat with me.

The story is a comedy based around a 40-year-old man living with his father and high-school aged daughter who decided to quit his job and find himself as a manga artist. The father is belligerent, the daughter works at what appears to be a whorehouse for extra money, and the main character says that he'll really do his best... tomorrow.

I actually had high hopes going into this story. I was hoping that it would be something along the lines of About Schmidt or any other series that picks on older people having a sudden change in life -- a really easy topic to write about -- but it just came off as belligerent and sad. The father's advice and criticisms are straightforward and true, and the main character has no redeeming qualities about him.

I was at least hoping the Dad would go a bit off the wall.

Comedy really is one of those subjective things, so I may be missing something here. It's worth it to go check out the title, but unless you enjoy watching a grown man get disrespected time and time again while he just takes it like a lying dog, then this series will be a pass for you.

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Japanator Recommends: Afterschool Charisma photo
Japanator Recommends: Afterschool Charisma
by Brad Rice

Let's fill a high school with the clones of all sorts of famous characters in history. Unlike the amazing Clone High, this story is all serious-business, and our protagonist, Shiro, is the only non-clone in the school. Things are all happy-go-lucky until Marie Curie suddenly "transferred schools" 'cause she didn't want to be Marie Curie anymore, and JFK was assassinated. Something's afoot.

To be honest, I wasn't exactly interested in Kumiko Suekane's Afterschool Charisma at first. They threw in too many characters at once, the art style didn't strike me as anything amazing -- albeit it was well done -- and the characters seemed a bit flat.

But all that changed when I reached the end of chapter four, where they introduced a cheery little boy from Austria.  Now I'm wondering just where the manga is going to go by introducing a volatile character like the Fuhrer while trying to manage a conspiracy plot and all the other personalities at the school.

My recommendation of this series is a bit tentative, simply because it's got a really interesting premise, but I wonder if the characters will prove deep enough to be something more than the manga archetypes overlaid on top of a basic historical profile. The title certainly strikes me as one of the more mainstream series to come out of SigIKKI (more than Tokyo Flow Chart, for sure), and I'm sure it will see success once it makes it to print.

I'll be reading it, for sure, out of sheer interest to see where the plot can go, and if we're going to find the body of clone Louis Brandeis in Clone Hitler's room.

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Japanator Recommends: Saturn Apartments photo
Japanator Recommends: Saturn Apartments
by Brad Rice

Imagine the entirety of the Earth designated as a nature preserve, and human society has moved up to an artificial ring circling the Earth. Pretty cool, right? Well, along with that is the usual class stratification, which brings us to our protagonist Mitsu, who lives in the lowest tier, and just started his work as a window washer.This is the world of Saturn Apartments by Hisae Iwaoka.

It's a high-risk job, seeing as you can get hit by debris or winds can send you flying all over the place. Mitsu knows this especially well, because his dad died on the job five years past, leaving him all alone. He was the guy everyone liked, and so the community came to look after Mitsu. Now that he's a working man, just graduated from middle school, he's tackling his job with all the seriousness he can muster.

What really struck me about Saturn Apartments was the art style. It's something different and has a strong feeling to it, although I had a hard time telling apart characters' ages -- I thought some of the people in their 40s and 50s were the same age as Mitsu. It was all fine and dandy, until I saw the drawings of Earth.

They were absolutely captivating. I stopped and stared at it for a good minute, taking in all the detail and the absolute beauty of it.

The story takes itself at a slow yet serious pace, and I get the feeling that it's ultimately going to be a tale about growing up. Which is just where I want it to go. While you may not be impressed by the cover art, or only have a passing interest in futuristic Earth, go and read the first chapter. You'll find yourself wanting to read the rest almost immediately.

Can't wait to see it in print, Viz!

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2:00 AM on 07.19.2009

IKKI website now fully operational, will be able to destroy whole planets with its new titles

A while ago, I proposed to Viz for their setup of the IKKI online magazine. It's truly fantastic, as is Children of the Sea. Well, now they've finally upgraded themselves to battle-ready status in preparation for San Diego Co...

Brad Rice