How To Make Your Physical-Copy Doujinshi Readable Without Learning Moon

[Also works with any Japanese manga, but doujinshi tend to be the ones that get bought in Japanese by people who don’t know Japanese.]

If you’re like me (god help you), then you like owning doujinshi—preferably ones that’ve been scanslated—but you can’t read Japanese, and it bothers you that you can’t actually read your physical copies of those doujinshi. Today I’ll be sharing my solution to this problem, which probably isn’t the best nor the most professional (and might be the most time-consuming), but anyone and their grandma can do it.

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Manga Pages: Yumekui Merry chapters 1–3

Until I’ve passed the anime’s plot, I won’t be able to read Ushiki Yoshitaka‘s Yumekui Merry without thinking about its adaption. The anime disappointed me quite a bit, to the point that I ragequit near the end (I do plan to finish it sometime, though). The manga makes me happy and sad because it doesn’t suffer the same problems as the anime, which means it also shows how the anime could’ve been better.

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The Difference Between Manga I Love and Anime I Love (OR Why I’m Dropping Ao no Exorcist)

A lot of my favorite anime are manga adaptions, and in most of those cases, I don’t just like the anime more than the manga—I don’t even like the manga. Usually I attribute this to my liking the medium of animation more than that of manga, but it’s more true that I have a different set of demands and expectations from the two mediums, and the disconnect between those things in an adaption can make or break the experience for me.

Let’s observe some selections.

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Manga Pages: Soul Eater Not! chapter 1

I’m not dead! I’ll be slowing down, though; I was on a manga binge when I started this blog, doing a post every three days, so I’ll be cutting back significantly with two posts a month—still better than dead, right?

Ookubo Atsushi‘s Soul Eater is one of my favorite manga, but it’s no secret that it’s gone downhill since entering the third major arc. Anime Kritik theorized that Ookubo had generally stopped caring about his story, and before he could take another breath, Soul Eater Not! had been announced.

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Manga Pages: Franken Fran chapter 43

Alright! New Fran! Kigitsu Katsuhisa‘s Franken Fran is my favorite currently-running manga, and even though I said I don’t plan on blogging anything release-by-release, I’ll gladly post on Fran every month just for fun—forgive me if I don’t have much to say about it.

What a cute protagonista!

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Art-chitecture: Taboo-Tattoo chapter one

These past 4 days, I’ve been searching unsuccessfully for new manga to read. I like action series with cute girls, so I looked for works in that vein, but time and again I was confronted by failures in illustrating action. Finally, I stumbled across Taboo-Tattoo by Shinjirou, an exciting new series that works to show exactly where all of the others failed.

 

I'll be using this fight from the first chapter as my sample.

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Manga Pages: Deus x Machina chapter 12

I don’t plan on blogging anything release-by-release, but what a pleasant surprise to see chapter twelve of Karasuma Wataru‘s Deus x Machina finally done! As the subject of my first post, this series is somewhat special to me, and I was sad to see that the scans halted just as things were getting good. In a funny twist of fate, Horobi no Michi finally released the chapter just days after a new scanslator called Riceballicious took the initiative himself. Because I saw Riceball’s scanslation first, the images in the post will be from his version.

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Details and Symbols: Soul Eater's Sun and Moon

Soul Eater is Ookubo Atsushi‘s labor of love, and he’s packed it full of fun little details, references, and symbols. Among those details are the stylized, demonic sun and moon that can be seen almost constantly throughout the manga.

 

First panel on page 1, and most common appearance of the moon.

 

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Art-chitecture: Stray Little Devil

Mori Kotarou‘s Stray Little Devil presents a rare conundrum in manga art. On one hand, Mori’s art is incredible—the level of background detail and the beauty of the world he creates are on par with the likes of Nihei Tsutomu. His character art and designs are even a step above Nihei’s, having an unrivaled crispness from panel to panel. These qualities, along with an entertaining story and intelligent writing, ought to make Stray Little Devil an instant classic, but taking a look at these pages from the first volume reveals where its perplexing trouble lies.

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Failure to Communicate: Tetragrammaton Labyrinth

Itou Ei is an excellent character artist, and I’m sure that his illustrious portfolio of pornography is worth a look, but Tetragrammaton Labyrinth is a terrible manga. Nevermind that the plot and dialog are an incessant bombardment of poorly-delivered cliches; the action scenes are crippled by a poor sense of space and direction, and there’s no sense of ‘flow’ between images. Besides the character art, there’s really no reason to read this manga, but even that suffers from a failure in communication. This image from the fifth chapter perfectly expresses my point:

Here, Angela has just severed her arm in order to escape from a dimensional anomaly and is about to launch into battle with a Japanese priestess. Ordinarily, Ann wears a blank expression and fights with a sense of utter seriousnes. However, it’s difficult to judge what kind of character she really is—90% of the time, she acts and says things that give her a (cheesy) sense of ‘mystery,’ and she appears to take herself way too seriously. However, once in a while, she’ll randomly seem like a lighter or less serious character, and will wear facial expressions that seem different from her personality for no particular reason.

The above image creates the expectation that a more sadistic side of Ann has awakened from the heat of a worthy battle. This would’ve been a potentially interesting new aspect of her character, but in the next panel and for the rest of the battle, her face is as serious as it ever was before. This is the only image that implies any level of sadism on her part.

It seems to me that Itou Ei didn’t put much thought into his art for this series. In spite of the characters and story taking themselves deadly serious, it’s clear from his commentary in the omakes that Ei doesn’t take the series seriously at all. Things like the above image are drawn on a whim, and make it impossible to tell what the characters are really like. Everything about Tetragrammaton Labyrinth is haphazard like this.

(Tetragrammaton Labyrinth is licensed in my region by Seven Seas Entertainment.)