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First Impressions: Attack on Titan: Junior High episode 1

Oct 05 // Soul Tsukino
AOT: Junior High was first produced as a comedy parody spinoff manga that got many  people's attention for being the exact opposite of what AOT was known for. It's silly, adorable, and made for a zany side series. Could the anime version do the same? Right off the bat you know something is different when you see the familiar opening, only with more cute chibified characters with big heads standing in a stark field covered in blood. However that is only a bad dream as the main character of this series, Erin, wakes up in a field with his friends during lunch break.  That scene right there was a cute little nod that this was not the original series. We get to follow Erin, Mikasa, and all their friends as they go to the first day of Junior High. Gone is the start quasi-European world of a walled-in village and we are taken to modern (if made extremely adorable) Japan. We get introduced to more of Erin's friends like the eating machine Sasha, the friendly Christa and her over protective friend Ymir, along with Jean, who seems to be Erin's foil for the series. We also get introduced to the titans, who go to the school next door. Oh, These titans are hungry all right! But their tastes in this series tend to be a little more benign. This series is not here to make you think, it's here to make you laugh. It's a silly comedy show much in the vein of Puni Puni Poemy or The Adventures of Haruhi-chan. Although it's hard to tell how deep the writing will be from just the first episode, it seems that this show uses a lot of sight gags and spoofing of anime troupes, including poking fun at its own source series, for its humor. While that kind of humor may not play to some. I think this show is hilarious! For fans of the original material, you will get a laugh of just how adorably reimagined your favorite characters are in this series. For those of you that aren't familiar with attack on Titan can still enjoy the series as it does a good job at introducing the characters and the things they do are so silly, you won't need to have a prior knowledge of things when watching this to enjoy it. Attack on Titan is currently streaming on Hulu and Funimation's website, so go ahead and check it out!   AOT: Junior High was first produced as a comedy parody spinoff manga that got many  people's attention for being the exact opposite of what AOT was known for. It's silly, adorable, and made for a zany side series. Could the anime version do the same?
Attack on Titan: Jr. High photo
The D'awww will eat you alive!
Attack on Titan is one of those series that it doesn't matter what they do, people pay attention to it. The graphically violent and gruesome series shot to popularity first as a manga and then as an anime series. Soon all kin...

Attack on Titan photo
Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan sells over 30 million volumes of manga

That's a lot of dead villagers
Apr 25
// Pedro Cortes
According to the Oricon sales charts, the Attack on Titan manga series surpassed 30 million copies sold this last week. This comes right after the release of the series' 13th volume, which itself sold over a million copies. T...
Ah! My Goddess photo
Ah! My Goddess

Ah! My Goddess manga ending next month

Pour one out for Belldandy
Mar 20
// Pedro Cortes
After 25 years of publication, Kosuke Fujishima's Ah! My Goddess will end in the next issue of Kodansha's Monthly Afternoon, on sale April 25. There's also mention of a "super important" announcement, but no other details are...
Manga photo

Kodansha makes three big announcements

Attack on Titan, Noragami and more!
Feb 20
// LB Bryant
On their official tumblr (is that where all the cool kids are hanging out these days? I wouldn't know), Kodansha Comics made three big announcements this week including two new licenses and the reveal of a brand new omnibus r...

Review: Sailor Moon

Dec 11 // Karen Mead
Sailor Moon (volumes 1-14) Published by: Kodansha Comics Written by: Naoko Takeuchi Illustrated by: Naoko Takeuchi Translated by: William Flanagan, Mari Morimoto Release date: Nov. 26, 2013 (date of last volume's release) MSRP: $10.99 (each)  If you're super-new to anime and don't know about this famous series, let me just get the premise out of the way real quick: Sailor Moon is about a lazy, ditzy middle-school girl named Usagi Tsukino who becomes a fighter for justice when a magical cat gives her the ability to transform into a sailor-suited warrior with superpowers. Usagi meets more and more Sailor Guardians, and together, the girls use their planet-themed powers to defeat all manner of evil and save the world multiple times. There is one token male named Tuxedo Mask, who is very handsome and also mostly useless, in a nice reversal of the typical damsel-in-distress trope. The early '90s series is notable for introducing many of the concepts that became staples in magical girl shows (and anime for girls in general) going forward. Probably the biggest surprise to me about this manga was how fast it moves. The anime was notorious for its monster-of-the-week format, but the Sailor Warriors in the manga have exactly zero patience for that silliness. Enemies aren't just defeated, they're vaporized, usually after only one or two appearances. Only the major arc villains get the luxury of tangling with the heroes for any extended period of time. In fact, battles tend to be of the curbstomp variety-- usually in the heroes' favor, but that gets reversed at times. Compared to boys' manga epics, where a single fight can span chapters upon chapters of manga, it's kind of amazing just how efficient everyone is in Sailor Moon. There's very little of that "Hah, let's see how you can counter this special attack!" cat-and-mouse game between the heroes and villains; everyone here is playing for keeps right from the word go. Personally I find it interesting that Sailor Moon, which many would consider to be a quintessential "girls" manga, is so brisk and businesslike compared to the likes of Naruto or Bleach, which are hugely drawn-out, unabashed supernatural soap operas. There's got to be a message in there, somewhere. The manga's pacing, however, is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the accelerated pace makes the characters seem a lot smarter than they do in the anime, and not just because they defeat their enemies faster. Plot twists that were dragged out for dozens of episodes on screen are dealt with very quickly on the page. For example, in the anime, it takes Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon ages to find out each others' real identities (which is kind of painful to watch, considering how poor their disguises are) whereas in the manga Tuxedo Mask logically figures out that Usagi is Sailor Moon almost immediately, and she finds out about him not much later. However, I felt like the manga could have used some breathing room; as soon as one enemy is defeated, it's time for the next one. At times, I actually found reading it to be kind of exhausting for that reason. I found myself wishing more time was spent on just the characters interacting, rather than always preparing for the latest and greatest threat to Planet Earth. The side stories, which Kodansha released in two volumes called Sailor Moon: Short Stories after volume 12, feature more character interaction, but are still bogged down with battles. It's probably worth noting that the first story arc (which runs through volume 3 of the Kodansha release), has the best pacing. This was the story Takeuchi originally set out to tell, before the series proved so popular that her editors demanded a continuation. After the first arc ends with the defeat of the evil Queen Metalia, Takeuchi does a capable job finding new ways to keep the Sailor Guardians on their toes, but by the final arc, I think you can tell she was getting tired of it; major characters get unceremoniously killed left and right (some even die off-panel) and the whole thing feels massively rushed. I've read that Takeuchi found the process of creating Sailor Moon very stressful, and by the last few volumes, I think you can really feel it. Speaking of the artist, Takeuchi's art can be hard to get a handle on. She draws some absolutely breathtaking pictures, but she isn't necessarily a great visual storyteller. Some panel-to-panel transitions were confusing, leaving me unsure what happened, or even flipping back a few pages to make sure I didn't miss something. Of course, this could be partially due to the fact that I thought I knew what was happening because of my experience with the anime, only for the manga to take a different route. Also, it doesn't help that so many of the characters look very similar; sometimes it's hard to tell who's doing what to whom. Of course, in the end the details don't matter too much since we know how every arc is going to end: Sailor Moon will whip out the Silver Imperium Crystal, the most powerful thingamajig in the galaxy, and save the day. The greatest weakness in the manga is that the Silver Crystal is so powerful that it robs us of anticipating how the good guys are going to triumph over evil; the details may change a bit, but in general, Sailor Moon will always use the crystal, powered by her love, and the world will be saved. To me, this is the flaw that keeps the title from being something that can fully satisfy adult readers; the win-button nature of the Silver Crystal just isn't up to the level of the other concepts on display, some of which are actually quite sophisticated. All that said, the title is full to the brim with creativity; in fact, it's almost impossible to appreciate just how innovative Sailor Moon is in 2013, since other creators have been ripping it off for 20 years now. It's hard to imagine how exciting it must have been as a reader to see some of these things go down for the first time. I've never been the huge fan of the so-called Outer Senshi (Sailors Uranus, Neptune, Saturn and Pluto) that some Moonies are, but all of their choices take the characters in different, interesting directions. The series' use of time travel is also surprisingly well-done; instead of descending into a confusing mess, the time travel in Sailor Moon actually makes logical sense and doesn't hurt your brain when you try to think about it in detail. Maybe I've just been watching too much Doctor Who lately, but personally, I appreciate that. From a production standpoint, Kodansha did a great job with this release. A minor nitpick is that sometimes dialogue seems to disappear into the spine of the books, but I only noticed this a few times during my reading of the entire series. Also, the dialogue doesn't always sound as natural as it could (and the decision to leave in certain honorifics will always be controversial), but I didn't have any major issues with the translation. The color illustrations at the beginning of the volumes look great, and the included translator's notes always prove an interesting read. The final volume, Sailor Moon Short Stories 2, also includes a series' timeline of both in-universe and real-world SM events, which is a useful little bonus.  So, in the end, were the legion of manga fans right? Is the manga indeed "so much better" than the anime? Don't kill me hardcore Moonies, but I don't think so. The manga is an artistic, elegant portrayal of a very ambitious, romantic and idealistic story, but suffers from a lack of character development for basically everyone except Usagi (and Chibi-Usa, but God, let's not even talk about her.) The anime, while loaded with filler and generally much lighter and sillier in tone, does a better job giving you reasons to care about these characters-- and arguably, a better job of disguising the deus-ex-machina nature of the Silver Imperium Crystal. If only the manga existed and not the anime, I think that today, the title Sailor Moon would perhaps be more respected, but nowhere near as beloved. All that said, I still think the complete manga is a stunning artistic achievement, and pretty much a must-read for any fan of the magical girl genre-- no, fans of manga period. Takeuchi's magical world oscillates from super-cute to downright creepy to wonderfully surreal, and there's something here for virtually everyone. There are significant flaws, but that does little to take away from the fact that this work is the product of a unique and exciting creative vision. Rating: 8.0 – Great. Beautifully drawn, well-written, with a loving attention to detail. Among the best of its genre.    
Sailor Moon photo
14 volumes of moonlight romance
As a Sailor Moon fan, or "Moonie" of 15 years, it's kind of amazing that I never got around to reading the entire manga until now. I guess it's not that weird when you think about it; early on, I was all about anime and had l...

Japanator's 2013 Holiday Guide: Manga

Dec 02 // Brad Rice
For the mecha fan who needs to read more... Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin (Vertical)MSRP: $29.99 Gundam, love it or hate it, is a hallmark of our fandom. This is the giant robot title that got us all excited for 30-ft tall mechs and the pretty boys who pilot them. Gundam: The Origin takes us back to the beginning -- back to Char Aznable, Amuro Ray, and Bright Noa -- and provides a great jumping in point for new fans daunted by the sheer volume of Gundam stories to get into. Yoshikazu Yasuhiko's art makes it pretty easy to get into, as well. The scenes are beautifully drawn, offering up great detail on the mech designs and the battle scenes. Each volume goes at a killer pace, and leaves you hungry for the next. I'm not even a giant robot fan, but it's been a must-buy title for me with every volume that comes out. Be sure to get the volumes this year, because you never know when Vertical's beautiful hardcover editions will go entirely out of print! Sure, digital copies will exist, but it doesn't match the look and feel of these hardcover editions. For the teenage boy who loves boobs, violence, and boobs... Wolfsmund (Vertical)MSRP: $12.95 If you've got a friend who's interested in action and just loves to stare at boobs, then Wolfsmund is going to be the manga for them! Set in medieval Europe, Wolfsmund is a dramatic version of the story of William Tell, as done by Mitsuhisa Kuji -- an assistant on the Berserk manga. That should give you an idea of where this title will go. It's proven to be one of the more engaging stories this year, as Kuji quickly has you rooting for the downfall of the Castle Wolfsmund. I spent some more time recommending this in my A Look @ Wolfsmund piece, which is worth checking out for more detailed info on the story. This will be right up the alley for anyone who's been interested in violent medieval-era tales, such as Berserk or Guin Saga. For the J-RPG lover in your life... The Sky: The Art of Final Fantasy (Dark Horse)MSRP: $89.99 There's nothing better than a book full of Yoshitaka Amano to class up your coffee table. Amano's art defined the look and feel of the Final Fantasy series, and what better item to give to your J-RPG-loving friends than this tome of Amano's art designs? It's jaw-droppingly beautiful, and something that will be hard to part with when you pick it up in stores. I mean, just take a look at the inside images on Amazon's page. Gorgeous, isn't it? The three-volume slipcase will make a nice gift for anyone who's logged months and months of their lives playing Final Fantasy games. For the person who only reads "indie" titles... Attack on Titan (Kodansha)MSRP: $10.99 If your giftee hasn't gotten on the Attack on Titan bandwagon, it's time to get them hooked. Sure, they might want the "hip" stuff, but Titan is just too good to pass up. Attack on Titan has quickly become one of the hottest titles on the market -- driving up an even greater sales frenzy than typical stalwarts Bleach and Naruto. The story features humanity fighting back from the brink of extinction against a new class of predator -- the monstrous Titans. Not only is there the mystery of where these gigantic beasts came from, but also why one young recruit has a mysterious power that can help turn the tide against the Titans. The series created a sensation when the anime hit simulcast channels, and the manga has been a huge seller ever since. At New York Comic Con, both Vertical and Kodansha Comics announced licenses for several spinoffs and light novels, which means now is a good time to get into the series before the material becomes overwhelming. For the Nintendo fanboy in your life... The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse)MSRP: $34.99 Before there was Final Fantasy in our lives, many of us first sat down with our NES, SNES, or N64 (youngin'!) to play a Legend of Zelda game. Whether your memories are of the original or Twilight Princess, Hyrule Historia will be a tome filled with fond memories. Containing numerous character designs, release notes, interviews, essays, and manga pages, this book is the edition that deserves to be in the hands of your gamer giftee. Not only are you giving the gift of all that Zelda lore contained within the book, but you'll also light the spark of desire to play the games once again. Before you know it, your friend will be down in the basement, booting up the NES and searching around for that gold cartridge. It'll be a warm trip down Nostalgia Lane. For the ultimate shoujo fan... Sailor Moon Box Set I and II (Kodansha)MSRP: $65.94 Much like Gundam: The Origin, Sailor Moon is another important title in our otaku history. It's the magical girl show that launched a thousand ships and showed all of us that girls can kick our butts (with the power of the Moon). Now that Kodansha is finally done with the run of the original series, you can give the gift of Sailor Moon in two convenient box sets. Then, once your friend plows through all 12 volumes, they can move on and devour all the short stories available. Oh, and they can spend endless hours trying to figure out the ending, too. Even though many of us watched Sailor Moon when it first came out in the west, there's a wholly different -- and wholly necessary -- experience in reading the series. For the friend who already owns a katana... Lone Wolf & Cub Omnibus Edition (Dark Horse)MSRP: $19.99 Have a friend who's big into samurai stories? Lone Wolf & Cub is the classic series for them. Originally released in the US in the '80s, they're finally getting a properly-sized reprint in these omnibus editions. This celebrated title is about the Emperor's executioner going on the run with his three-year-old son after false accusations force him out of his position. Armed with his trusty sword and Battle Carriage, Ogami is forced to be an assassin in order to get through life. Lone Wolf & Cub has seen six movies, four plays, and a TV adaptation, and has influenced artists on both sides of the Pacific since its debut in 1970. Since it's a classic series that hasn't been in wide circulation in recent years, now is the perfect time to make it a gift they're sure to love.  For the friend who spends too much time in the bath... Thermae Romae (Yen Press)MSRP: $34.99 The premise: an unsuccessful Roman builder finds himself time-traveling to modern-day Japan when he falls asleep inside of a hot tub. There, he finds the Japanese bath designs fascinating and brings the technology back to Ancient Rome and wins himself great glory as an inventive bath house maker. That's enough of a hook for you, isn't it? Yen Press pulled out all the stops in their production of this series, giving the title all the same pomp that Vertical put into Gundam: The Origin. And this is a title that deserves it -- the art is rich with historical detail and marvelous to behold. For the friend who loved Satoshi Kon... Tropic of the Sea (Vertical)MSRP: $14.95 Satoshi Kon left a big impact on the world of anime when he died, but now we're seeing more of his early work come out into the light. Tropic of the Sea was Kon's first published manga, and it carries all the hallmark beauty of his later works. It's a classic tale of traditional culture butting heads with the business-minded desires to modernize everything, and what happens when the local shrine's sacred treasure is put in jeopardy. It's a basic story, but the art in this single-volume title is Moebius-quality stuff. To boot, there's an included essay of Kon's (originally written for the Japanese republication of Tropic of the Sea) where he eerily foreshadows some of his health problems. That essay alone is worth the purchase price for Kon fans, and this unusual volume will make a great gift for anyone who loved his works. For anyone who's been through high school... No Matter How I Look At It It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular! (Yen Press)MSRP: $11.99 We've all been in Tomoko's shoes: sitting alone all night playing otome games in the hopes of mastering social skills, only to find that once she arrives at high school, she's a total loner. The title then follows Tomoko as she takes a look in the mirror and sees what she needs to change. It sucks. A lot. If you've ever been socially awkward, then this title will speak to you loud and clear. You can feel Tomoko's anxiety and awkwardness radiate off the page, which is a testament to how well Nico Tanigawa tells the story. It's a flip on the slice of life genre, and if your friend liked Lucky Star, this will be an easy transition into something with a bit more grit to it. Those are our manga picks for the season; of course, if some of the people on your shopping list are of a less literary bent (*sniff* *scoff!* Pardon us while we adjust our monocles), Japanator has shopping guides for games and music coming up later this Cyber Monday.
Manga photo
Keep your friends well-read this holiday season
Black Friday has already come and gone, which means that the days are quickly counting down before you need a gift. Bookstores are still a viable retailer for manga, which saves you with that last-minute gift. Are you standin...

Attack on Titan  photo
Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan prequel is reprinted by demand

An early look into the new manga
Nov 08
// Amber Hunt
So apparently there will be a prequel manga based off of Levi, the protagonist in Attack on Titan. I haven't finished the series yet, nor have I read the manga. Everyone is talking about how amazing it is, though! I was alrea...

NYCC 2013: Kodansha brings all the Attack on Titan goods

Four new AoT titles, digital releases for back catalog
Oct 11
// Brad Rice
I've been telling you that Attack on Titan is popular. Vertical's gotten in the game too with the light novels. Kodansha isn't letting up, though, as they announced four new Attack on Titan titles they'll be bringin...
Kodansha Comics: October photo
Kodansha Comics: October

Gear up for Kodansha Comics' October releases

Hide your wallet
Oct 06
// Kristina Pino
In case you need a reminder of what comics should be on your shopping list this month, here's a look at what Kodansha Comics is releasing throughout October. Some highlights include the Sailor Moon Box Set vol. 2 (Oct. 29th),...

Attack on Titan manga gets a promotion within Kodansha

Going digital and seeing a monthly release? It's like they want to sell manga!
Jul 09
// Kristina Pino
Kodansha have announced that not only will they be selling Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) digitally in all eBook formats (starting July 16th), but starting this August, fans will be getting the comic monthly through the...

Genshiken returns to anime

Your favorite club is back
Jan 24
// Hiroko Yamamura
The popular manga, Gensiken Nidaime is finally going to make its way to an anime adaptation! The show will be a followup to one of my favorite show, Genshiken --which chronicles the hilarious antics of a group of mo...

NYCC '12: Kodansha rolls out Sankarea, Vinland Saga

Fairy Tail to resume publishing in 2013, catch up to Japanese releases
Oct 15
// Brad Rice
Next up in today's slew of NYCC news: Kodansha is bringing over Sankarea, No. 6, Vinland Saga, and Tokyo Mew Mew a la Mode. With Dallas Middaugh on board (sans cowboy hat), Kodansha Comics is rolling out some nicer title...

JManga adds Kodansha titles to its roster

Oct 05
// Brad Rice
In an attempt to become the Crunchyroll of published works, JManga has added another sizable feather to its cap: Kodansha will list a number of their series on the site, with more to come down the line. As of now, they've add...

Oh, my! New Sailor Moon anime announced for Summer 2013

Jul 06
// Josh Tolentino
This was...well, now that the cat's out of the bag it's not unusual, but I certainly didn't see it coming. Kodansha have announced a brand-spanking new Sailor Moon anime series is in production to hit the tubes next summer, i...

Devil Survivor is ready to survive in manga form

May 28
// Salvador G Rodiles
Are you ready to survive? If so, grab your nearest DS because the lockdown is being placed on Tokyo again. The first Devil Survivor game is getting adapted into a manga in the July issue of Monthly Shonen Sirius. Sa...

Kodansha licenses Battle Angel Alita: Last Order, Danza

Apr 24
// Bob Muir
Following some issues between Yukito Kishiro and Shueisha's Ultra Jump, Kishiro moved Battle Angel Alita: Last Order to Kodansha's Evening magazine. That meant that Kodansha now owns the publishing rights for new chapters of ...

Sankarea will have OVAs bundled in the next two volumes

Feb 09
// Chris Walden
Any of you guys reading Sankarea? Well it's good news if you do, as we now have a website confirming that the next two volumes of manga will contain OVAs. I don't doubt that many of you will never of heard of this manga, so a...

Genshiken second season manga in the US this fall

Feb 07
// Josh Totman
Looks as though we will be getting the second season of the Genshiken manga care of Kodansha. The story continues for the club of the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture, headed by the fearless Ogiue as she tries t...

NisiOisin's next work is set to be a detective story!

Nov 29
// Elliot Gay
Weaver of words NisiOisin is looking to move away from his Monogatari series and begin anew. Kodansha has announced that his brand new novel series will be called Tantei Toshi Densetsu (Urban Legends Detective). No word yet o...

NYAF: An interview with Kodansha Comics

Oct 21 // Pedro Cortes

One of the biggest surprise announcements earlier this year was the return of Sailor Moon, courtesy of Kodansha USA. On top of their push into the US market with their releases of other series like Negima, Air Gear and Ghost ...


Kodansha vows authenticity to original Sailor Moon

Apr 21
// Crystal White
Kodansha Comics recently sat down for an interview with an writer, Deb Aoki, and revealed that their reprint of Sailor Moon and Codename: Sailor V will be as authentic to the original as is possible for an...

Kodansha reprints Love Hina and Tokyo Mew Mew!

Apr 03
// Crystal White
Get excited! Kodansha's U.S. branch, Kodansha Comics has revealed omnibus versions of Love Hina and Tokyo Mew Mew! The first omnibus edition of Love Hina will contain volumes 1-3 of the manga and cost $19.99, while ...

Kodansha USA brings Sailor Moon back into the spotlight

Mar 21
// Brad Rice
I'll admit it: Sailor Moon was as big an influence in my anime career as Dragon Ball Z. I think I made a more concerted effort to watch all of Sailor Moon rather than DBZ -- hence the reason I'm really getting into ...

Rest in peace, Kodansha International

Mar 04
// Josh Tolentino
"It's a tough economy" is a favorite saying these days, and that's likely because the statement is true. Just ask Kodansha International, the English-language publishing arm of Japanese giant Kodansha, Ltd.  As reported ...

Kodansha finally shows off its US titles, disappoints me

Dec 13
// Brad Rice
It's about time that Kodansha got to movin' and groovin' with publishing manga.ICv2 has a list of Kodansha's first round of manga titles to hit shelves in May 2011. This list has what looks to be all of the titles they're tak...

Japanator Kind of Recommends: Hagakure The Manga Edition

Dec 04 // Crystal White
Title: Hagakure: The Code of the Samurai, The Manga EditionPublished by: Kodansha InternationalWritten by: Sean Michael WilsonTranslated by: William Scott WilsonIllustrated by: Chie KutsuwadaRelease date: January 3, 2011 For those who are die-hard manga fans, there's a few things you should know. First of all, this is a very American manga. The book reads from left to right, rather than the traditional Japanese right to left. Was that an issue for me? Not really, though it was a little bit surprising. The book is 144 pages, and is comprised of many short stories, which are almost like samurai parables, without a true overarching story, making this manga an extremely quick read. I finished the entire book in roughly an hour or so, and that was taking my time to appreciate it thoroughly for review. In terms of art, this manga was just mediocre. While the art isn't ugly by any means, it lacks individuality and uniqueness. I feel like I've seen these drawings a hundred times over. In fact, many of them look like the types of characters you'd find in any basic "Drawing for Manga" title. While hairstyles and weapons are certainly accurate, faces are unimaginative, character designs are simplistic, and line quality is average. If a visually astounding title is what you're looking for, Hagakure probably isn't for you. However, that isn't to say that the entire piece falls apart. There are certainly redeeming qualities.   Hagakure's stories of the samurai are surprisingly meaningful, though not always in the way you might expect. While some of the lessons imparted speak highly of honor and sacrifice, more often than not, I found myself cringing at an unexpected harshness from the samurai way of life. It seemed to me that nearly every act required seppuku, or the killing of another over the smallest disputes. If you're reading this book for a fuzzy, idealized version of samurai life, you may be disappointed. However, if you're truly interested in the history and practices of the samurai, this manga may enlighten you. I know I certainly was surprised by the merciless way many of the encounters were presented, though surprisingly, I could still understand why a samurai-turned-Zen priest would pass on these stories. Each set of lessons are split according to various categories like "The Way of the Samurai," "Loyalty" and "Revenge" among others, with each of the stories fitting into these sections. Normally, I would have thought that there would be a bigger variation between the stories from one chapter to another, especially being separated in this way. However, I found that many of the stories seemed to bleed together, again with ritual suicide being a recurring theme, as well as blatant murder, peppered with instances of loyalty, courage, and respect. I suppose the lack of variety in subject matter couldn't be avoided as this manga was adapted from an older, original text, but perhaps the stories could have been presented more creatively in order to differentiate them.   While Hagakure does have some moments of shining samurai glory, it is too often marred by lackluster visuals and a very simple if at times nearly boring translation. If you're interested in the truth of samurai life and getting a quick glance into the history without having to dedicate a lot of time, this manga is great for you. If you're expecting Hagakure to stand on its own as a manga title, you might want to pass it up, perhaps opting for the original text instead for something a little more meaningful.  

Hagakure: The Code of the Samurai is based upon original stories dictated by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, a samurai retainer who lived from 1659-1719. Unable to follow his master in death, Tsunetomo shaved his head and became a Z...

Kodansha USA taking over Del Rey's manga efforts

Oct 05 // Brad Rice
New York, NY - October 4, 2010 - Kodansha Ltd. and Random House Inc. have announced their plans to change and expand their manga publishing relationship in North America. The companies are shifting from a licensing relationship to a sales and distribution arrangement as of December 1, 2010.The current relationship between Kodansha and Random House began in 2003, with the first titles debuting in 2004 under the latter’s Del Rey Manga imprint. Since then, more 500 volumes have been published, including many bestselling manga series.Under the new arrangement, Kodansha's subsidiary, Kodansha USA Publishing, LLC, established in 2008 and led by Yoshio Irie, will be publishing Kodansha-originated manga themselves directly in the U.S. English-language market with strong support from Random House Publisher Services (RHPS), Random House's third-party distribution division. Del Rey Manga associate publisher Dallas Middaugh will remain with the program, transferring to RHPS."We are very excited to extend our relationship with Random House," said Yoshio Irie, president and CEO of Kodansha USA Publishing. "Both companies see opportunity in the American manga market, and we look forward to working together to further the distribution and exposure of manga in the United States.""We are thrilled to have a publisher as distinctive as Kodansha USA Publishing join the Random House Publisher Services portfolio," said Jeff Abraham, the division’s president. "Kodansha is one of the great worldwide publishing brands for the manga category, and we will do everything to support their efforts with our many booksellers and distributors who love selling manga titles."Del Rey's ongoing manga titles which were licensed by Kodansha will be gradually taken over by Kodansha USA Publishing on a per-title basis.Tokyo-based Kodansha established Kodansha USA Inc. on the occasion of their company’s 100th anniversary. Kodansha USA Publishing began by publishing Akira and The Ghost in the Shell in 2009 under the Kodansha Comics imprint. They plan to expand their strong line-up of manga under this exciting new collaboration with Random House Publisher Services.About Kodansha Ltd.Kodansha is Japan's largest publisher, with its headquarters in Tokyo. Originally established in 1909 by Seiji Noma, the company is still a family-run business. Under the leadership of Sawako Noma, company president since 1987, Kodansha continues to play a dominant role in the media world, producing books and magazines in a wide variety of genres including literature, fiction, nonfiction, children's, business, lifestyle, art, manga, fashion, and journalism.  Recently, the company has ventured into digital distribution of content as Random House Publisher ServicesRandom House Publisher Services, a division of Random House Inc., is the book industry's leading provider of sales and distribution services to premium third-party publishers. Its wide range of service offerings includes sales, warehousing, physical and digital distribution, credit & collection, marketing and information technology. In addition to the National Geographic Society, its portfolio of clients includes Beacon Press, DC Comics, Rizzoli, Melville House, New York Review Books, and many others.

Surprise!It's been a while since we've heard about Del Rey manga, other than some of us industry folks seeing unfair departures happen, and it looks like the writing on the wall proved true -- Random House is pulling out from...


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