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Vertical announces a lot of manga licenses at Katsucon

Read Arakawa manga while under a bridge
Feb 22
// Red Veron
Last weekend at Katsucon, North American publisher Vertical announced a few interesting licenses for you to enjoy in the physical format. Why am emphasizing the "physical" aspect? One of the first few licenses they announced ...

Review: Kizumonogatari

Jan 27 // Anthony Redgrave
Kizumonogatari: Wound TalePublished by: Vertical Inc.Written by: NisiOisiNIllustrated by: VOfanTranslated by: Ko RansomReleased: December 15, 2015MSRP: $14.95 Despite being the third light novel released, Kizumonogatari is effectively the start of the series as a whole. High schooler Araragi Koyomi meets with a vampire during his Golden Week Spring Break holidays and subsequently joins the legion of the undead. As a bid to get his humanity back he has to serve  his new master or be damned to live in the darkness forever. It's a tale that has been hinted at throughout the TV show so fans will enjoy experiencing it first hand. Once the story gets going, the plot is set to a rigid structure with a few interesting turns keep it from being stale and providing a steady pace from start to finish. At times, the pacing can become slow especially during the first few chapters and in-between set pieces.  Despite the difference in medium, the feeling of a Monogatari story is still present. The mounting supernatural pressures, off-kilter dialogue, and perverse situations all find their way into the novel in at some point. Kizumonogatari keeps your eyes glued to the page by intertwining the normal with the paranormal. Readers of the popular Japanese author Haruki Murakami will feel right at home with the pacing and themes visited in this book.  As usual, the lead is the internally loquacious but externally laconic Araragi Koyomi, a high schooler stumbling through life with no direction. This character archetype is common in Japanese novels rather than Western ones although common strings can be drawn to the everyday reluctant hero with a quick mind and tongue. The cast is kept small and intimate with returning faces from the show making their first appearances in this novel. Araragi's interactions with the supporting cast are great as it explores their initial interactions and helps long time fans understand the basis of their relationship. Character quirks, catch phrases, and snappy dialogue makes it hard to dislike anyone. A personal highlight is Araragi's relationship with Tsubasa and how it evolves. It treads the line between strong friendship and romantic interest in such a way that when it is later followed up in Nekomonogatari Black you know where they stand perfectly.  The story is told entirely in the first-person perspective putting you right into the mind of Araragi. A constant long-running internal dialogue throughout the book. Readers that prefer to have dialogue-heavy novels with little in the ways of the description will enjoy the trimming of the 'adjective fat' in favour of getting to understand Araragi's personality more. This close intimate relationship between the reader and Araragi helps you relate to his plight even if first impressions are bad. In terms of writing style, this could come off as lacking in variety as you are only getting information from one viewpoint. It takes some getting to used to as I had found the first few chapters difficult to read. Odd interruptions, stray words, and abnormal punctuations cause the writing to stop and start mimicking the short snappy thoughts of Araragi that break the flow. Once you get used to this style and the story picks up the rest of the story flows a lot better. For the most part, the English translation of Kizumonogatari does a great job in capturing the tone and style of the original. The characters are still fun, quirky, and just as animated as they were in the show supported by the strong dialogue. Tsubasa's words are sweet with a drizzle of flirtation, Araragi is an over-analytical opportunist and Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade continues to carry a brazenly confident demeanor despite all circumstances. There are some points of the novel that may be very peculiar for readers not versed in the ways of Japanese anime and this could be very hit and miss. I can see where the author was intending with these sections for future use in an anime but in a novel they slowed the pace down considerably or made me feel very uncomfortable to read. They are rare and far between and that is why they could be a deal breaker as they come from the far left field.  Presentation wise, this isn't a normal Western paperback novel. Partly because the cover has paper flaps and the size gives it a nice heavy chunky feel to it. There are a few pictures on the first few pages of the book that look nice and a blurb in the inside of the paper flaps giving it the feel of a hardback book. The book clocks in at 344 pages with a short translated afterword from the author. It's a decent sized book that will keep keen readers busy for a week and casual readers for a little longer.  I've been an active follower of Araragi's adventures on the screen so I was very excited to get my hands on a copy of where it all started. After overcoming the initial challenges, I was immersed in familiar territory and enjoying every step. The pacing, dialogue, characters, and feel is pure Monogatari and fans of the series will not be disappointed by the translation. The book comes at an excellent time coinciding with the release of the movie so fans should give this book a flick through if they want to get the full experience. Newcomers, especially those not accustomed to conventional Japanese literature, may experience a culture shock in some of the scenarios visited in the story; however, they may find the charm in the intricacies and storytelling that made this series so appealing to many people from around the world. [This review is based on a review copy provided by the publisher] The Art of GrassHopper Manufacture: Complete Collection of SUDA51Published By PIE International + PIE Books (Website)Written By: SUDA51Released: June 2015MSRP: $28.95 (Amazon)ISBN-13: 978-4-7562-4586-1
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Monogatari without Shaft
I don't think I could ever think of the Monogatari series without Shaft's trademark animation and visuals. It would be like eating PB and J sandwiches all my life and then discovering peanut butter could exist on starch witho...

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Video: Knights of Sidonia still looks awesome

Gives us a reason to keep our Netflix subscriptions
Mar 31
// Tim Sheehy
Here's a look at the sixth and latest CM for Polygon Picture's upcoming adaptation of Tsutomu Nihei's Knights of Sidonia set to begin airing next month. It's one series I've been eagerly awaiting, but I admit I found my...

Review: Insufficient Direction

Mar 15 // Brad Rice
Insufficient Direction Creator: Moyoco Anno Publisher: Vertical, Inc. MSRP: $14.95 Insufficient Direction is an autobiographical novel of Moyoco and Hideaki Anno's relationship, leading up to their wedding. If you're not familiar with them, Moyoco Anno (Rompers in Insufficient Direction) is the manga artist behind Hataraki Man, Sakuran, and Sugar Sugar Rune; Hideaki Anno (Director-kun in Insufficient Direction) is the co-founder of Gainax and director of Evangelion, Gunbuster, and Kare Kano. They're as close to a celebrity couple as you can get in the otaku universe. The manga is split into short chapters detailing little incidents in their life, putting this title squarely in the slice of life genre. If you've ever moved in with someone, the struggles will look familiar. Picking out furniture and organizing the flow of rooms can be difficult, but when you've got to take into account displaying all the Kamen Rider figures, that changes plans. While there isn't a concrete "plot" to this title, there is an overarching narrative of Rompers learning what it means to truly be an otaku. Being a manga artist, Rompers always considered herself nerdy, but after meeting Director-kun, she saw that the summit of otakudom sat far off in the distance. Her journey is a hard one, as she wants to get closer to her husband, but doesn't necessarily want to adopt all of the deplorable habits some otaku have. Since Director-kun is an otaku from an older generation, a lot of the references that appear in Insufficient Direction don't necessarily cross over to US fans. They reference a number of shows that never came over, or only circulated on VHS tapes back in the day. And there's a lot of Kamen Rider. Thankfully Ed Chavez and Yasuhiro Kamimura -- the faces of Vertical -- provide extensive annotated notes, giving the reader a crash course in every reference. Most liner notes provide a sentence or so explaining the reference, while Vertical's notes give you a paragraph or more on everything. It's exhaustingly extensive, and I really have to give them credit for that. Without it, this book would be inaccessible. If flipping back and forth between liner notes and the story doesn't dissuade you, then you'll get a window into the couple's private life that's cute and endearing. As I said before, if you've lived with someone before -- whether a roommate or a lover -- who shares the same passions as you, then you'll feel some kinship with Rompers as you read this. The story works and is an enjoyable read throughout, but it goes by a little fast. By the end, you're left wanting for another volume, but at least the time you spent with Insufficient Direction was a good one. 7.0 – Good. A decent story, well-drawn, capable of immersing you but lacking in some aspects. Fans of the genre may love it, while others might simply enjoy it and move on.  
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Obtuse but relatable manga about Moyoco Anno's marriage
Being an otaku isn't easy. But when you've fallen in love with someone who's king of the otaku? Well, that means you've got a long way to go to up your nerd game. That's the struggle Rompers faces in Moyoco Anno's autobiograp...

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Vertical debuts Spring 2014 reader survey

Book subscription idea floated by company
Mar 06
// Brad Rice
Do you want to make your voice heard? Vertical is always open to what its readers want, and their seasonal reader survey is the best way to do so. Apart from following them around at convention after convention, pestering the...
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Vertical licenses Tonari no Seki-kun manga

The upright publisher nabs comedy manga for fall 2014.
Jan 24
// Ben Huber
Once again proving themselves to be a shrewd company, Vertical Publishing has licensed Tonari no Seki-kun, by manga author Takuma Morishige, and will release it under the title My Neighbor Seki this fall. Vertical's Ed Chavez...
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Vertical licenses Witchcraft Works manga

Listed for pre-order at online retailers
Jan 12
// Tim Sheehy
Although they've yet to make any official announcements, it appears Vertical has licensed the Witchcraft Works manga, originally published in Kodansha's bi-monthly seinen magazine good! Afternoon. Amazon and Random House...
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PSA: You have to pre-order BL for B&N to stock it

Booksellers don't put much faith in Yoshinaga's What Did You Eat Yesterday
Jan 09
// Brad Rice
With Barnes and Noble and Books a Million as the only major chains remaining in the US, publishers have a harder time getting less-than-mainstream titles (BL, for example) onto store shelves. Ed Chavez of Vertical is calling ...

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.
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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...

Review: Sickness Unto Death

Nov 21 // Brad Rice
Sickness Unto Death Written by: Hikaru Asada Drawn by: Takahiro Seguchi Publisher: Vertical Inc. Release Date: Sept. 24, 2013 MSRP: $11.95 [Vol. 1] [Vol. 2] First-year med student Kazuma is kind enough to help out a young woman who faints on a crowded Tokyo sidewalk. It turns out, of course, that this lady just happens to own the mansion where he'll be boarding -- her parents were friends with his uncle. They've passed away, and all that's left in the mansion is the young girl Emiru, the butler, and a room that's been boarded up. Emiru lives in the house because she's fallen gravely ill; shockingly low blood pressure and body temperature begs the question of whether she's alive at all. She suffers from no illness, but there's something mysterious in her past that drove her to this state. Before this, she was the class idol -- the one everyone looked up to and wished they could be. Now her beautiful black hair has turned white, she's lost tons of weight, and suffers from night terrors. Kazuma is determined to change all that. Sickness Unto Death is a title that really succeeds in its pacing. The chapters move by quickly, and you're practically begging to find out what happens next. Death Note operated at a pace where you blazed through each page at a breakneck speed, but Sickness Unto Death tests the brakes, slowing you down at points to really take in Emiru's frail beauty. I would liken it to reading Naoki Urasawa's Monster, where sometimes it's the shocking image or hook left at the end pushes you over the edge into the next chapter. The art is competently done, with some high and low points. Character design feels a little generic at times, and despite the terrible conditions that Emiru seems to be suffering through, her body doesn't seem to show it as well as I would expect. Perhaps that is due to seeing her through Kazuma's eyes, since he may focus more on her beauty than the dire straits she's in. The high points, though, are the more terrifying scenes. Without going into too much detail and spoiling anything, Hikaru Asada manages to build on those feelings of anxiety through simplistic images and context. Pay attention to the eyes in particular:  artist Takahiro Seguchi finds lots of times to avoid drawing them, but when he does use them, they're beautiful and sad and display emotion perfectly. There will be points where you're left scratching your head. The manga deals heavily with the idea of "the self" and what it means to be who you are. You might even want to read it twice. But by the end of the manga, the themes coalesce well and we're left with a brief but great story. Sickness Unto Death proves to be a great title for you to bring along for a long weekend -- it's one you can either take at a breakneck pace, like I did, or space it out and let the ideas sink in. Is it a title that has true lasting value? Probably not. The art doesn't prove itself to be something truly award-winning, and some of the excitement of reading it disappears because you know the whole story. But in the time you read it-- especially if either you or someone close to you have had some experience with depression-- it'll be absolutely captivating. And if you're in the midst of dealing with something rough, then this might just provide a spark to your life. 9.0 – Exceptional. One of the best things its genre has ever produced. Its example will be copied or taken into account by almost anything that follows it.  
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How far can depression drag you down?
We all get depressed sometimes. It's not an easy thing to deal with, in any way, shape, manner or form. Whether we've gone through it ourselves, or watched a love one spiral into hopeless despair, Sickness Unto Death is a tit...

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A Look @

A Look @ Wolfsmund

A fast-burning and addictive title
Nov 20
// Brad Rice
Wolfsmund is based upon the story of William Tell, and the rebellion looking to overthrow the Swiss Alliance. In between Switzerland and Italy, though, lies the St. Gotthard Pass – the only way to travel between those t...
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NYCC 2013

NYCC 2013: Vertical licenses Attack on Titan light novels

The publisher picks up two new licenses.
Oct 11
// Ben Huber
Vertical has been on a roll recently with their licenses, and at NYCC 2013 they picked up some more interesting titles. Perhaps the biggest news is that they'll be releasing the Attack on Titan: Before the Fall light novel se...
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Vertical Inc.

Vertical licenses Tetsuya Tsutsui's Prophecy

Latest acquisition from publisher focuses on cyber-crime
Sep 30
// Ben Huber
What has Vertical picked up now? I always pay attention to Vertical's licenses, as they have a knack for picking solid, unique titles. At the Anime Weekend Atlanta convention, they announced that they'll be picking up Tetsuya...

The surprise is ruined: Vertical gets Summer Wars manga

It's all Amazon's fault.
Jan 30
// Salvador G Rodiles
Can you believe this? The nerve of those people! I know that this is a good thing, but the magic of this announcement was ruined by Amazon's listing. In accordance to Vertical's Tumblr page, they were going to announce their ...

Tell Vertical what to license in their Spring Survey

Jan 25
// Brad Rice
One of my favorite things about Vertical is they are responsive to their readers. They have a strong social media presence, actively and honestly engaging fans. One key method is their seasonal surveys, which polls readers on...

NYCC '12: Vertical adds Twin Princess, Helter Skelter

Oct 15
// Brad Rice
On Friday, Vertical announced a pair of new titles: Twin Princess, the sequel to Princess Knight, and Helter Skelter. Twin Princess is another piece of the Osamu Tezuka pie that Vertical continues to collect, and should ...

Japanator Kind of Recommends: A Guru is Born

Jun 29 // Brad Rice
  A Guru is BornAuthor: Takeshi KitanoPublisher: VerticalReleased: June 5, 2012MSRP: $13.95 Kazuo is not sure what he wants in life, but in his vague notion of what a religious organization is, he sees a chance to live an aestetic life, get paid, and not have to worry about what it is to be a salaryman. It all starts from taking a flyer. It’s for a religious organization, attempting to recruit new members. One of those streetside “show” of miracles. An elderly guru summons his powers to restore mobility to a crippled grandmother. Suddenly, a religious fire opens up within him, and he begs the group to allow him to join. They do agree, somewhat hesitantly, but before he knows it, he’s dragged right into the group’s “central committee” -- the headquarters of the cult. Now, he feels like he can live the lifestyle of a religious acolyte: prayer, prostelytization, and reclusion. No more rush hour trains. No more complications in life. Sadly, that’s not the case. This is a real turning point for the book, and what got me hooked on finishing it in a single sitting. Now that Kazuo is a part of the organization, he finds himself ping-ponging between members of the cult -- each one attempting to mold Kazuo in their own image. Shiba is a philanderer and is a serial opportunist -- he hops from one cult to another, using the organization’s bankroll to fund his lavish lifestyle and nightly visits to prostitution palaces. Komamura is his polar opposite, living an aesthetic lifestyle, denying himself any pleasures, and constantly holding his feelings to himself until things boil over. Kazuo takes trips with both of them, alternating between recruiting delinquents to clean up a park and feel good about themselves to an after-hours visit to a Soapland with the developer of a new temple. Kazuo now has to determine what this cult means to him. Is it a sham, or a way to do some real good in the world? And that brings me to my biggest criticism of the book. The remaining characters in the book exist almost within a null state, fighting to keep things status quo. They do have things they strive to accomplish -- whether it be an acceptance of their relationship status or stopping fighting -- but the actions have the ultimate aim of calming the boat, not changing its course. Because of that, the main conflict in the book becomes a direct power struggle between black and white. Both Shiba and Komamura are so entrenched in their beliefs, that the conflict between them becomes one dimensional. There is little to no wiggle room for growth or evolution in their viewpoints or personalities, although you could argue that they both go down their own rabbit holes, falling deeper and deeper into their entrenched views until things hit rock bottom in the climax of the book. For a book this size and of this ease of read, it isn’t bad at all. The greater themes of finding religion and what exactly it means to you are worth thinking about, especially in the way that Kitano presents it. The story may be a little hard to relate to, because the existence of startup religious organizations does not have as great a hold in the West, but if you approach it with an open mind, then you’ll be able to see through some of the story’s weaknesses.  

  For many, religion proves to be an almighty influence in life. It can provide rules and order, explaining away some of the mysteries of life. In troubled times, religion provides a source of comfort -- the hope of a mi...


Anime Boston '12: Vertical brings back Paradise Kiss

Apr 07
// Brad Rice
While we're not up at Anime Boston this weekend, we still got word from Vertical that they've licensed Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa. Previously, Tokyopop had held the license for this five-volume set, but since the company went...

Critical darling Twin Spica doomed to obscurity

Mar 27
// Michelle Rodanes
[Correction: A few extra stories collectively known as Asumi are included in the Twin Spica release.] Twin Spica is a slice-of-life seinen manga written and illustrated by talented artist Kou Yaginuma. The book tells the...

A Look At Great Teacher Onizuka: 14 Days in Shonan

Feb 07 // Brad Rice
Part of me was worried about this volume. Sure, it was by the same creator, but he had taken 7 years off from GTO and now came back with this work. Would it stand on its own? Would some of the humor just come across as crass and boorish now that I was a number of years removed from reading GTO? In typical Brad fashion, I put off reading it. For a little while, at least. I caved to pressure, though, and cracked the volume open. And, suffice to say, the first chapter grabbed me almost immediately. It was the same Great Teacher Onizuka humor I remember, and most importantly, I reacted the same to it as I had when I was stuck in my college dorm on those long Syracuse winter nights. The title serves as a filler arc of sorts to the main GTO storyline. Onizuka got himself onto a daytime variety show, and during their segment about what's the worst thing a teacher had done, he lets loose about some of the more extreme incidents that happened during the original series. Well, that doesn't fly with the general public, and so Onizuka has to go into hiding in order to escape the heat. So, he chooses his old stomping ground of Shonan. Before long, Onizuka finds himself in trouble with the local Shonan officials for -- what else -- being accused of molestation. A guardian angel is on his side this time, as a young woman comes to his defense and gets the charges dropped. This beautiful buxom blonde just happens to be a friend of Azusa, inviting him back to her place. Wait for it -- she works at a home for troubled youth! Without giving Onizuka a moment to get accustomed to his surroundings, they're already abusing him. Hmm, sounds familiar. 14 Days in Shonan is pretty damn good, but it has a glaring flaw: it feels as though Tohru Fujisawa is leaning on a crutch in certain parts. The obstacles teens attempt to throw in Onizuka's path feel familiar to what we've already seen in GTO, and the characters are repetitive at first glance. Sakurako is just like Slo-Mo-Ko. Katsuragi is akin to Miyabi. While it doesn't detract from the fun you'll have with this first volume, it does pop out at you. I can only hope that as the series progresses, it will flesh out those characters and situations in new and interesting ways. If not, the series may just amount to a trip down memory lane -- the opportunity for something really creative would be squandered. But, I want to believe. I want to believe in Onizuka. I want to believe that this will be an amazing story. So I'll keep reading each volume, eagerly awaiting the next.

I thought I was done with Great Teacher Onizuka. All throughout college, I plowed my way through the series, picking up volume after volume in order to sate my desire to see what Onizuka was up to next. The series was endless...


Manga artist draws his work twice to help overseas sales

Jun 02
// Bob Muir
We've all moved on from the dark days of flipped manga, where manga publishers didn't have enough faith in Americans' ability to learn how to read comics from right-to-left. But even though years have passed since I first got...

A look at: Lychee Light Club

Apr 26 // Ben Huber
Lychee Light ClubPublished by: Vertical, Inc.Written & illustrated by: Usamaru FuruyaTranslated by: Bryn WeikmanRelease date: April 26th, 2011MSRP: $16.95  This book is described as Usamaru Furuya's "most flawlessly realized work to date" and it's also his most violent and intense. If you're not one for guro (incredibly detailed gore) or overt sexual acts, I can tell you right now this is not the manga for you. There's a bit of rushed setup in the beginning, but the general gist is such: Zera is the leader of the Light Club, a group of boys (all very feminine looking as you might guess) who attend an all-boys school and have been building a robot in their hideout. They're obsessed with capturing a girl (which reaches an almost "mythical object" status), and this lychee fruit-powered robot is their tool to do so. This robot (which they call Lychee) eventually captures Kanon, a local schoolgirl, and she ends up becoming quite close with the robot, helping him learn more about the world and humans bit by bit. Perhaps the strongest theme I recognized throughout the book was as the Light Club members began to become suspicious of each other and split apart, slowly losing their own humanity, their own robot, Lychee, became more human.  Lychee Light Club is brutal and harsh, and it often feels like it falls into pure "shock value" territory, however I always ended up finding a message behind it. If you're looking for something violent, sexual, revolting and thought-provoking, then Lychee Light Club is a solid pick. It's definitely one of the better manga I've read so far this year, so take a chance and try it. Score: 9.0

Dark, engaging, disturbing, and provoking. Lychee Light Club, a recent manga release from Vertical, adapts a Grand Guignol stage show and delivers a riveting tale about young boys who build a robot that runs on lychee fruits....


Viz nabs four Eisner nominations thanks to Naoki Urasawa

Apr 11
// Brad Rice
With San Diego Comic Con looming in the near future, that means it's time for comic's highest honors: the Eisner Awards. Nominations were recently announced, and Viz leads the manga publisher pack with four nominations, large...

News: Kodansha and Dai Nippon buy 93% of Vertical, Inc.

Feb 24
// Josh Tolentino
Vertical, Inc. is one of the most interesting manga publishers out there right now. They've put out a lot of manga of the kind that makes you think that the manga industry is much less dependent on the Narutos and Bleaches an...

Vertical licenses Princess Knight, Drops of God, and more

Jan 28
// Bob Muir
Our favorite boutique manga publishers at Vertical have announced a handful of new titles coming out later this year. First up is Princess Knight, another classic by the "god of manga" Osamu Tezuka. This story of Pr...

Japanator Recommends: Ayako

Dec 25 // Ben Huber
Title: AyakoPublished by: VerticalWritten by: Osamu TezukaIllustrated by: Osamu TezukaTranslated by Mari MorimotoRelease date: November 30, 2010MSRP: $26.95Vertical has proven time and again that they know what you want before you do. Every release has been stellar and I can't think of a single thing they've brought over that I've disliked. It certainly doesn't hurt that they also have Peter Mendelsund and the best book and cover designs of anyone else in the manga market. This is especially the case with Ayako – trust me, you won't miss this beautiful book sitting on the shelf at your local Borders.Ayako is the tale of a family breaking apart and the young girl caught in the middle of it. It harbors a larger and more unique cast than the usual Tezuka work (less of his "actors" show up). Set during in post-World War II Japan, the depth is both incredible and thick at times. It begins with a large cast of characters, and it only grows larger before tapering off, creating a tough entry point, but with Tezuka's skill you can't help but be drawn in. His mastery of the page is always at work here (even being flipped, it loses virtually nothing), and leads the viewer along wonderfully.The Tenge family has had its share of problems. As Jiro returns from a P.O.W. camp, he discovers not a warm welcome, but a once-powerful family desperately clinging onto the last vestiges of its influence. The patriarch, Sakuemon, is a lecherous man, and in exchange for a guaranteed lock on the family inheritance, his son Ichiro offers his wife to the aging man. The result of this is Ayako. She's his beloved "granddaughter" and also the one who bears the brunt of the family's anger. Ayako becomes a witness to many terrible things she shouldn't have seen, and as a result is locked up in the storehouse. Permanently. Her development is impaired, and even after road construction takes down the storehouse and forces Ayako out into the real world, the people around her find it impossible to get her to understand the way the things work.The story winds and bends as Tezuka pleases, occasionally feeling a bit too tangential, but never letting your attention go. As with many of his more mature works, the social commentary comes hard and fast as well. Tezuka doesn't play favorites – he lashes out at the often backwards living style the Tenge family is steeped in, as well the American occupation. But the characters don't merely serve as dartboards for Tezuka's points, no one is merely a "good guy" or "bad guy," but if you've read any of Tezuka's other adult works you probably know this already.Another strong point is the unpredictability of the tale. Very rarely could I say for sure what would happen to a character next. Perhaps this was a result of Tezuka not planning things out, perhaps not, but his line and pen refuse to let things spiral out of control. His usual antics are toned down substantially: winking at the reader or even humorous asides seem almost forbidden here. The translation is wonderfully done, but at times difficult to read when interpreting local dialects. O-Ryo in particular I found needed a second reading for me to comprehend occasionally. I clearly understand the reasoning behind this choice, and I actually agree with it as the localization made most text a better read – but those few times I needed to reread dialogue pulled me out of the book fast. Otherwise, an amazing job by Mari Morimoto.Ayako is one of those books you place proudly on your shelf. It feels like a collector's item when you pick it up – the quality is really something else. Thus, the outside matches the inside. If you even remotely enjoy manga, pick this up. If you hate manga, pick this up even more so. Vertical has been hand-delivering pile upon pile of work that displays the power and benefits of the medium of manga. While at times Ayako may be meandering a bit too much, in the end Tezuka's sheer skill as an artist holds it together. Mature, thoughtful, serious and intense, I can't help but recommend Ayako.

I can't really say much about Osamu Tezuka, the god of manga, that hasn't already been said.Intense, striking, thoughtful, flawed, and poignant.His work has influenced generations of mangaka, artists, and just people in gener...


Vertical is awesome because they send me awesome things

Nov 08
// Brad Rice
Well, not just because they send me awesome stuff with Konami Kanata art on it. Vertical also publishes awesome manga. I <3 you, Vertical.

Vertical let No Longer Human out of the bag early

Oct 14
// Ben Huber
I reported on Vertical's awesome panel at NYAF last week, at which they announced a ton of good new licenses, such as Osamu Tezuka's The Book of Human Insects (pictured on right). Another important license, No Longer Human by...

NYAF 10: Vertical's panel was sweet and you weren't there

Oct 10
// Ben Huber
UPDATED: Vertical has since issued a statement saying that No Longer Human is in fact, not licensed quite yet. More details here.Vertical's panel was really a highlight this year at NYAF. Pretty much everything Vertical licen...

Japanator Recommends: 7 Billion Needles

Oct 01 // Brad Rice
7 Billion NeedlesCreated by: Nobuaki TadanoPublished by: Vertical, Inc.MSRP: $10.95 I love being surprised as much as possible. The mystery of what's in the box, what's around the next corner, keeps me going on and on. When I got 7 Billion Needles in my hands from Vertical, I had heard good things, but was wondering just what would await me. Let's just say that it had meteoric impact, and I couldn't stop myself from tearing through the book at lightning-fast pace.Our herione is the reclusive Hikaru, who is content to live life with permanent hearing damage thanks to the headphones she uses to constantly drown out the rest of the world. She sits in class, bored with life and ignores her classmates. While on a school trip, Hikaru takes a stroll on the beach at night, only to be hit by a meteor and utterly incinerated. So, by page 5, our main character is dead.Except, she wakes up, and everything seems the same.Save for the alien voice talking in her head. Said alien has bonded with her body, bringing her back to life in order to save the world from another human/alien bonding that's going to kill everyone. The premise isn't the most original thing in the world, nor the themes explored within this first volume, but Nobuaki Tadano's methods shine through, providing something you can't put down.What carries the story, and provides most of the impact, is the art. Scenes set in the normal, everyday school life come off as crisp and clear, emphasizing the plainness of Hikaru's day-to-day existence. But the scenes in which the supernatural is suddenly thrust into the foreground provide a graphic punch to the gut, leaving you floored when you see Hikaru obliterated (it's on the front cover) or the appearance of Space Dinosaurs. Yes, we're going to see Space Dinosaurs throughout this series.It's a great purchase for anyone who has an interest in non-tech heavy sci-fi material, and it should not disappoint if it continues as strongly as it started.

In the ever-expanded seinen genre, with titles like Berserk, Monster and Ikigami already holding the top reins along with Black Lagoon and other titles, Vertical's latest offering, 7 Billion Needles is poised to join their ra...


Vertical licenses the not-so-comfy Velveteen & Mandara

Sep 22
// Brad Rice
Over the weekend, at Anime Weekend Atlanta, Vertical announced a new license: Jiro Matsumoto's Velveteen & Mandara. I know Matsumoto's other work, Freesia (please license that too!), and can say that this should be a grea...

Lychee Light Club is a manga about divine fruit...really

Jul 24
// Josh Tolentino
Hey, nerds! You have trouble getting girls! It's because you're all nerds, and girls love muscle-headed sports stars who wear letterman jackets and are into sports (SPOOOOOOOOOORTS)!And so goes the common taunt. That said, it...

Japanator Recommends: Peepo Choo

Jul 22
// Brad Rice
Peepo Choo is a bit of an amazing product, when you think about it. Done by an American named Felipe Smith, it was originally published in Kodansha's Morning2 magazine, intended for a Japanese audience. Now, the manga has bee...

Vertical preps for their SDCC, Otakon showings

Jul 14
// Tim Sheehy
One of our favorite publishers, Vertical, has announced their upcoming plans for San Diego's Comic Con International and Baltimore's Otakon next month. On hand for book signings at each event will be Felipe Smith, the artist ...

Japanator Recommends: Chi's Sweet Home

Jul 08
// Colette Bennett
I am the biggest Chi fangirl you are ever going to meet.That being said, I never expected to see this series make its way to the United States. It's so deeply Japanese, especially in its portrayal of home life -- and yet it's...

It wasn't easy deciding on a winner here, but we finally managed to narrow down the entries in our Chi's Sweet Home contest. Many of the staff members were hospitalized thanks to your incessant cute attacks, but the ones that...


After our long streak of pairing up with FUNimation, we're now switching gears to our favorite manga publisher: Vertical, Inc. Next Tuesday, Chi's Sweet Home hits shelves, which means that a wave of cuteness unlike any that's...


Look who was quoted on Twin Spica Vol. 2!

Jun 17
// Brad Rice
That's right, I was!My review copy showed up in the mail the other day, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that Japanator is now coming to a bookstore near you thanks to the folks at Vertical. It was a series I was really ...

Toei doing anime adaptation of Tezuka's Buddha

Apr 24
// Brad Rice
Here's an exciting bit of news for all you fans of the master of manga: Toei Studios has announced that they'll be doing an anime adaptation of the man's classic work Buddha! This should prove to be exciting. The script is be...

Japanator Recommends: Nintendo Magic

Apr 20
// Tim Sheehy
If you're anything like me, you probably grew up in front of a TV playing the latest games the day they came out. I was practically raised in front of my Nintendo Entertainment System, and while I'm sure it didn't benefit me ...

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