Manga of the Month Readership Circle

Post about anime's sister, manga in here. Manga reviews accepted in here as well.

Postby Fish and Chips » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:43 am

Manga of the Month - January 2011
[SIZE="4"]Historie[/SIZE]
Story and art by Hitoshi Iwaaki

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Genre: Historical, historical biography, historical fiction, historical slice of life, historical war, historical etc.
Age: 15+
Content: War violence, regular brand violence, off-screen torture, and modern day harsh language because nobody understands Greek insults anymore. Also, eunuchs and ancestral racism, boy oh boy.

Historie stands somewhat apart from most contemporary historical Manga. Not content to simply ignore Japan in favor of another area (The Mediterranean) on another continent (Europe), Historie also sidesteps a local well-known historical figure (Alexander...Alexander something) to focus on the lesser-known historical figure standing beside him: Eumenes of Cardia.

Though still in the early pages of Eumenes' life, already Historie shows signs of ambition in scope and depth. The young son of a noble family is stirred nightly by strange dreams of a beautiful woman killing soldiers; a dream that ends abruptly with the revelation of his true heritage and descent into slavery. Escaping disaster and snatching at fortune, he travels with cunning around the Mediterranean, unaware of the destiny upon his shoulders.

Historie is currently serialized at six volumes.
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Postby Atria35 » Wed Jan 05, 2011 7:23 am

YES! I've been wanting to read this one for a while- now I have an excuse to start!
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Postby uc pseudonym » Mon Jan 17, 2011 12:51 am

This is good timing: the first month I can participate here also features a series I have been meaning to read for some time.

I enjoy series like this (quiet, slow pacing, valuing intelligence as a character trait) but I find they usually take a little while to fully engage me. This was the case for Historie. The beginning was fine but I wasn't sold on it until the village battle – or more importantly how Eumenes resolves the situation afterward. It's nice to see an artist that does expressions like apathy or disapproval and the series benefits from it.

Historical accuracy is not really a priority in a series like this, but I enjoyed various little details, like the classic Alexander the Great portrait showing up in one of the flashbacks. It's fun to see the ancient world dramatized, especially when it's not ancient Japan/China/Europe. I'm not pleased with the multiple personalities thrown in later, however.

Finally, I have not seen this many beards in a manga since I was reading The Ravages of Time. This is not a complaint about Historie.
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Postby Atria35 » Mon Jan 17, 2011 7:35 am

Unfortunately, my order has been put on hold. I will not be able to read this month's manga by the end of this month :(
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Postby ich1990 » Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:41 pm

I found the first volume to be moderately boring. While I liked the premise and the art, I found the movement between frames and pages to be a bit choppy and disorienting. It didn't help that the plot of the first volume was straight up boring (which is odd, because in medias res is usually used to deliver an interesting hook before filling in the back story). However, starting with Thrax's story in the second volume, the series seems to be developing a decent storyline and I am interested to see where it goes. I will definitely be continuing this.

Also, I think it only fair to mention that the content of this series was much more shocking than I expected. The "War Violence" mentioned sure as heck isn't of the FMA brand; it is brutal and gory (although realistic considering the setting). Also, I would add that there is female nudity and implied rape, although most of the time the body in question is covered up with blood or is missing the parts that people would be offended at seeing. Just a fair warning to those who read Fish's content advisory and trying to decide whether to read it or not.
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Postby GeneD » Tue Feb 01, 2011 9:11 am

I finally did a manga of the month, although I plan to try to catch up on some the others.

I really like the art, especially the country-side backgrounds in the beginning. I don't know if I will be continuing the series, I'm still seeing what vol. 2 has to offer. I also found the violence more shocking/disturbing that I expected. The transitions between the violence and the more peaceful parts of the story are jarring to me.

So far adult Eumenes is interesting and younger Eumenes is mostly creepy. :)
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Postby Atria35 » Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:31 am

Since I'm used to reading violent/gorey manga, it really didn't bother me. But it was higher than FMA, for sure- it was probably more like Berserk in content for that.

But I would still rate it highly- I'm into history stuff :)

I'm also with Ich on the panel flow. It was awkward, for lack of a better word.
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Postby Fish and Chips » Thu Feb 10, 2011 9:24 pm

Manga of the Month - February 2011
[SIZE="4"]The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer[/SIZE]
Story and art by Satoshi Mizukami

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Genre: Action, comedy, supernatural, slice of life, talking animals
Age: 15+
Content: Samidare likes jumping really high. Samidare likes wearing skirts. Samidare...

So you've read some Shounen. That's nice. Really nice. So how about something a little the same, a little...different?

There are a lot of things I could say about this one, but somehow I don't think any of it compares with just throwing yourself into it blindly. Which isn't to say I won't edit this later with something more substantial so please don't quote this.

The Lucifer and Biscuit hammer is completed at ten volumes.
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Postby Atria35 » Fri Feb 11, 2011 9:11 am

YES! One that I've started on! *excited*
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Postby Mr. Hat'n'Clogs » Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:35 pm

This choice has my support.
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Postby blkmage » Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:54 pm

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Postby Atria35 » Fri Feb 11, 2011 4:16 pm

Waaaait a second. This one isn't licensed. Is it still okay to do it?

EDIT: Never mind, just re-read the entry post.
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Postby Mr. Hat'n'Clogs » Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:24 pm

So, apparently someone needs to restart this thread, so let's see if I can create a decent writing on my thoughts of the series, despite my status as a dumb teenager.

So let's start with the fights, the bread-and-butter of many a shonen manga. When I first heard that the main enemies were golems, I expected them to mostly be cannon fodder to the more talented heroes, who would then be extremely outnumbered. Instead, each golem proved to be a huge threat to whoever it happened to be fighting. Our heroes had to pit all of their strength to defeat every single one(and at what cost?) I mean, our protagonist starts out unable to even injure a golem, and I believe it's not until the third that he manages to make a scratch(using all of his power!) So all the fights are great as we see our heroes struggle to not all be killed.

So, characters would be next, I guess. We haven't been introduced to too many of them, just Yuuhi, Samidare and her older sister, and I guess you just met Hangetsu. Yuuhi is just beginning his growth from apathetic college student to proud knight and champion of Samidare, which is one of the really awesome parts about this series. Samidare was actually really refreshing as a character. She's insane, but not in a randomly slaughtering everyone for the lulz or the lolsorandom sort of insanity we see in Johnny Depp characters. She's a really fun lead, and it's great to see all the crazy and awesome things she does. I also like the split she has between her dream and conscious self. Samidare's sister is okay, I guess, and Hangetsu will prove to be one of my favorites in the second and maybe third volume. Anyone who introduces himself as an Ally of Justice when you first meet him is a pretty great guy.

So, my final thing to praise for the first volume is how much I love the art. I compare tLaBH to FMA quite a bit, and I'll have to mention that I love the art in the same way I love FMA's art. The mangaka has a distinct style that still keeps an "manga"-ish quality to it. This isn't like Urasawa's art that is completely different from the norm, but it has its own charm to it that differentiates itself from the more traditional art styles.

So, in conclusion, if you haven't read this manga yet you definitely need to.
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Postby ich1990 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:32 pm

So, the first volume of The Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer was pretty good.

I didn't expect to find myself reading shounen any time this term, as I haven't had the patience for it lately, but this one looked off beat enough for me to try. By the time I had read the first chapter it was pretty obvious the risk was worth it.

First, I like how the main character chucks the lizard out his window the instant it starts talking. That part was funny. It was also believable. It was exactly what I would have done should a lizard start speaking to me. Further, once the main realizes he has been selected to save the world, he calls shenanigans. After all, what could one teenager do to help in a fight to save the world (he must not read much manga)? It is a reasonable and rational thought, and I commend him for it. So far so good.

But as much as this inclines me to continue the story past the first volume and a half, I have to ask: does the creepy-as-hell little kid fanservice go away?
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Postby uc pseudonym » Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:47 am

Unfortunately my organization has a GB/month limit, and not a very high one. It has recently become more of an issue, so I can't load a bunch of image files unless we end up low near the end of the month (unlikely). This is still on my list to read, though. Would it be wrong to comment on it here in some later month?
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Postby Mr. Hat'n'Clogs » Thu Feb 24, 2011 3:58 pm

Fish said earlier that it's fine to post after the month is over.
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Postby TheSubtleDoctor » Fri Feb 25, 2011 8:09 am

Fish and Chips (post: 1429403) wrote:Every month, we ("We" being a few of us handpicked for our good taste) will select a particular Manga title and suggest you read the first volume.
Though I have been unable to post in this thread the last few months, I was noticing that the only things that have been suggested are books that Fish likes or was intending to read anyway. Not that I don't like your taste, Fish; quite the opposite is true. However, I would enjoy being exposed to others' tastes as well; plus you too need to be forced to check out stuff that you normally wouldn't =). I would feel bad if everyone received that benefit but you.
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Postby goldenspines » Fri Feb 25, 2011 8:15 am

Let's all read Shugo Chara, guys! :D

/kidding, sort of

I'm currently halfway through the first volume of The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer. I will comment more when I have finished it. Liking it so far, though.
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Postby Fish and Chips » Fri Feb 25, 2011 9:43 am

TheSubtleDoctor (post: 1461555) wrote:plus you too need to be forced to check out stuff that you normally wouldn't =).
I have, actually.

I've read everything in this thread solely by virtue of the fact that I couldn't not read it and then recommend it. That's basic quality (and content) control. However, the idea for this thread is one I've been thinking about much longer than the date of the opening post.

When I say "We," I don't mean that to say "Actually just me posting under the pretense of being several people." There are quite a few people I have talked to about this, and in preparation for this thread followed through on their recommendations. The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer, for example, is something I only read because someone in my reference pool said it was a shoe-in for such a thread. And there will be more to come.
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Postby blkmage » Fri Feb 25, 2011 7:19 pm

I like The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer a lot. My impression of it is that it's a shounen fighting story done up in seinen style. In my writeup I said it was a combination of Solanin's 'what are you doing with your life?' and Gurren Lagann's 'THIS IS AWESOME'.

I really like the way animal familiars are treated in this manga, because they don't really do anything besides talk to their knights. The other thing is that what they are doesn't really have any significance. Like, they're actually just random animals and not, say, some crazy zodiac.

The combat is fairly FMA-esque in that it's not about powering up or getting new flashy moves, but working with what you have and refining it and figuring out the enemy.

Something that's not in the first volume is the awesome rest of the cast (not that the characters so far aren't awesome). There are definitely some characters in this.

I like it a lot.
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Postby Fish and Chips » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:12 am

Manga of the Month - March 2011
[SIZE="4"]Tegami Bachi[/SIZE]
Story and art by Hiroyuki Asada

Image

Genre: Adventure, childlike wonder, emotional baggage, crying, mail delivery
Age: 13+
Content: Though innocent enough in intent, Niche doesn't particularly like wearing pants. That's about it. Unless you really like giant soul-sucking bugs and cry when they explode in spectacular fashion.

Something warm and somber to get you through those last months of winter, Tegami Bachi may be the most beautiful comic anyone has every drawn about mailmen. And giant bugs. But mostly mailmen. In the quiet world of Amberground, an artificial sun hung low over the capital city is all that lights a scarce world. Large sections of the local populace cut off from one another by great distances, soulless monsters and social castes, communication is a valued luxury, hence the prominent demand for letter bees, armed and adventurous mail carriers to offer their services. It has something of a children's storybook feel to it, lending it a tone that's very much its own in a market saturated by modern day fiction and fantasy.

Tegami Bachi is currently serialized at eleven volumes.
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Postby goldenspines » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:56 pm

;w;

I'm so happy.

I will reread my first volume that's sitting comfortably on my bookshelf and post my thoughts in due course.
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Postby FllMtl Novelist » Tue Mar 01, 2011 6:04 pm

[quote="goldenspines (post: 1462701)"]]
This~

Except that the volume is my little sister's. XD

This is great. I don't have to worry about obtaining the volume. :D
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Postby Kaori » Wed Mar 02, 2011 8:28 am

Fish wrote:Shonen, seinen, seinen, seinen, shonen, shonen.

Hmm.

Tegami Bachi: I don’t know about the States, but this manga is extremely well-known in Japan. I read a little bit of it a while ago and it failed to hold my interest, but I guess I will give it another shot.

. . .

Nope, still unimpressed. Overall, this manga is the kind of thing that seems like it ought to appeal to me but just . . . doesn’t. *totally unmoved* It reminds me strongly of a different shonen manga, Kimi no Kakera, that’s very similar—it’s set in the same sort of dark, cold, bleak world, it features child characters, and it makes the exact same sort of attempt to touch some kind of deep chord with a with a symbolic storybook feel. So I guess anyone who really likes Tegami Bachi would probably also like Kimi no Kakera.
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Postby Tamachan319 » Wed Mar 02, 2011 8:55 pm

Well, I guess I just repeat what Goldy said: I'll get down that copy of vol. 1 from my bookshelf and enjoy a good re-read.
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Postby Fish and Chips » Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:05 am

Kaori (post: 1462902) wrote:Hmm.
I was briefly confused by this post until I realized you we're thinking in demographics, not genres.

Because this whole time I've been thinking more in terms of: ghost story detectives, romantic comedy slice of life, science-fiction political thriller, historical biography, feelgood urban fantasy, beautiful storybook adventure, etc.

There comes a time when you realize both Berserk and Yotsuba& qualify as Seinen and stop defining things along those lines.
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Postby Kaori » Sat Mar 05, 2011 6:14 am

Fish and Chips (post: 1463115) wrote:I was briefly confused by this post until I realized you we're thinking in demographics, not genres.

Because this whole time I've been thinking more in terms of: ghost story detectives, romantic comedy slice of life, science-fiction political thriller, historical biography, feelgood urban fantasy, beautiful storybook adventure, etc.

Well, all of the titles in this thread so far are written for men and (if I’m not mistaken) by men. Personally, I think that if you compare shounen and seinen to shoujo and jousei, they have a very different feel to them, even if the genre (for example, action/adventure) is the same.

Fish and Chips (post: 1463115) wrote:There comes a time when you realize both Berserk and Yotsuba& qualify as Seinen and stop defining things along those lines.

I can’t say I agree—I think of manga in terms of demographics much more than when I first started reading it. (Living in Japan might have something to do with it? I guess Americans living in America don’t think of demographics as much]wasn’t[/i] written to appeal to a certain audience (the readers of whatever magazine), and those are also totally different from shounen/shoujo/seinen/jousei. To me, those differences are very pronounced.

I’m not complaining, though. Although a few of the manga that have been recommended in this thread are things I would and did pick up on my own, some of the others that I read were things I wouldn’t normally read, so the thread has fulfilled its purpose in that sense. Besides, you’re the one who is doing all of the legwork in order to foster discussion and introduce people to new series, so you should just do whatever you like. I just thought I would point out that there is a pattern.
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Postby ich1990 » Wed Mar 30, 2011 10:07 pm

While everything is technically pretty good in Tegami Bachi volume 1, I am finding myself having a difficult time getting drawn in. It is sad because there is nothing I can really point to and say "that part is off, I don't like that" -- I just don't feel compelled to read it. Maybe I just need to give it another volume. I might give it that just for the art.
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Postby goldenspines » Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:41 am

Yes, I still have one more day! \o.o/

Anyways, Tegami Bachi was one of the few series I started following when it first published in Shounen Jump in the US.
When I first read it, I shared a similar experience to Ich in thinking that while there's nothing wrong with the manga, there's nothing super enthralling about it.
Regardless, it was rather charming and the art, which was such a large contrast from most shounen art, kept me hooked. It was a worthy companion of One Piece on the pages of Shounen Jump.
After reading the first volume again, I noticed some important things I missed before.

General notes:

Lag cries, a lot. This won't ever change. But unlike most characters who drown in their sorrows; Lag acts, but not usually for himself. He changes sad circumstances for others to bring happiness and heart to everyone.
He doesn't start out like this, though. From volume one, you meet a sad, weepy little boy who just has his mom stolen away from him. And now he's being taken as a "package" across the wilderness by a dude who likes eating terrible tasting soup.
I dunno guys, I would cry too.

But, when worse comes to worst, Lag knows how to man up. And I like him as a character because of it.


If anyone shines as the hero of the story at the beginning, it's Gauche (and his dingo, Roda!). He gets his moments of glory fighting Gaichuu and never fails to offer "words of advice" to little whining Lag. Though, because we emphasis on Gauche so much here, it's kind of odd and interesting that we switch to Lag's point of view after he's "delivered".

I like the addition of Connor in the story and how for some reason, the folks of Cambel Litus like him, but hated Gauche (who was also a Letter Bee). But hey, Connor is a lovable guy. It's only right that he should be the one to take Lag to become a Letter Bee.

Then there's Niche, who is probably my favorite character. Right off the bat, Lag relates to Niche in the sense of being a letter. This is where Lag's beautiful kind heart shines through enough to break even the toughest skin that surrounds Niche's heart.
Needless to say, Niche can still show no mercy. LoveSome Downs saw that.


The art style consists of dark yet whimsical imagery. And the stark contrast of a land of perpetual night with dark blues and blacks paired with hearts being able to be shot out of guns and light up the sky is a beautiful thing.

Tegami Bachi is not meant to be ALL ACTION ALL THE TIME like most Shounen series. So, if you were expecting that, you'll be disappointed. Tegami Bachi is meant to tug at your heart strings and show strength and courage under any circumstances, even if all hope seems lost.


So yes, I like this series. I'm convinced it's only me and MrHatnClogs on CAA who are actually still following the manga, though.
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Postby Mr. Hat'n'Clogs » Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:32 pm

-goes to see if 47 is up yet and is disappointed-

Also, Goldy, I'm going to have a hard time writing something now that you've done that, but I'll give it a shot.

Tegami Bachi is definitely an interesting shonen read, like it's predecessor in this thread. However, unlike Biscuit Hammer taking the traditional shonen setup and playing with it, Tegami Bachi does a lot of stuff just differently than most shonen stuff.

Let's start out by looking at our protagonist, a young boy named Lag Seeing. Already we see some difference from most shonen protagonist as Lag likes to cry a lot. But it isn't just the crying, or even the reason he cries as Goldy points out, that really set him apart. His general demeanor is just that of a polite, selfless child who sets out to try and help other people. He doesn't care about how strong he is and has no real goal besides helping people out. You might cite Kenshin now, but while Kenshin is this experienced assassin seeking penance for his sins, Lag is pretty innocent. This is a guy who is so pure and incorruptible he makes it his singular goal in life to help out other people, even if they don't want help.

So, aside from Lag just being a general nice guy, I love the feeling Amberground carries. Though as dark as it gets later on, even in these first two chapters you can see how crappy it is to live here. Lag's mother is kidnapped! A young girl is treated like an animal! People starve to death because of the rigid caste system! Even the mail carriers have to be the best of the best in order to not have their soul ripped out from them by gigantic bugs. Despite all of this, the manga manages to keep this optimistic outlook(until chapter 44) showing how people will ultimately be either selfish or selfless in this dire land. Even when there are terrible people doing terrible things, the good almost always manages to shine through because of its goodness.

Also, the side character! We're only introduced to a few here, but the entire cast is a great group of people. Aria Link seems pretty no nonsense at first, but it isn't revealed that she suddenly has a heart later in the darkest of moments, it just turns out that you have to get to know her to learn she's pretty nice. Connor, despite being the only important person to look like the extras is really just a fun guy to be around. He'll tease the dude who ordered porn and eat a ton of stuff, and is just a really laid back guy. I mean, if anyone in this series should be insecure it's him, but he's just a nice guy. I guess what I really like about Tegami Bachi's characters is that they're all just a bunch of friendly people without being carbon cutouts of each other.

Though we don't get to see much of them besides Roda and Niche in the first volume, the dingos are pretty fun. Fish has mentioned Hazel Valentine, who despite being partnered with the grumpiest guy who might be good, he's a fun guy who is a Friend To All Living Things. Gus, Connor's dingo, doesn't really seem listen to him, but when they actually get into battle you get to see the trust between the two and how well their dynamic works.

Also, for those only reading the first volume, there is more plot to it later, with terrorists and stuff. It works really well.

So yeah, like Goldy, I think it's pretty cool.
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