It’s the return of Swag Bag! In this once-was-weekly article I give a quick rundown of the books I bought that week and some brief thoughts, be it itty-bitty reviews if I’ve read them or first impressions if I haven’t. Since it’s been a long while since I’ve written one, this one is going to recap all my April purchases instead of just one week’s… so it’s a bit long. As always I encourage readers to share their recent purchases in the comments section!
I continued a few of my on-going shonen series with Viz Media‘s Blue Excorcist (Vol.07), Bleach (Vol.39) and Bakuman (Vol.10), the latter of which has just ended in Japan. Much as I wish sometimes series I like would go on forever, it’s comforting knowing there’s an end in sight. Kamisama Kiss (Vol.08) and Dawn of the Arcana (Vol.03) gave me a Shojo Beat fix, though I’m still not quite sure if I even like Dawn of the Arcana. Maybe now I’ll find out? So tricky to tell.
Arisa (Vol.07) was a quick-to-buy volume. I really like this series, though it is going on far too long. Suspense is one thing but get to the reveals already! And I hope comatose sister wakes up soon… I suppose I shouldn’t complain much about suspense in that kind of story after I finish reading 20th Century Boys (Vol.20). If you want a master of comic suspense, you need look no further than Naoki Usawara. So much suspense, all the time, and while sometimes it’s almost painful how much the story plays on that, it’s completely worth it. Definitely one of my favourites.
Digital Manga and Yen Press are publishing some of my other favourite currently running series, the kind that nestle neatly between the genres of shonen and shoujo. Of those I bought Black Butler (Vol.09), Countdown: 7 Days (Vol.02), Replica (Vol.02) and Durarara!! (Vol.02). I was surprised to see Durarara!! has a shiny gold finish on the cover letters; pleasantly surprised, of course. It’s a neat addition that hopefully means well for the book’s sales. It deserves them too, this series is great and I’m really glad it’s been licensed so I can finally read what all the fuss was about.
Speaking of high quality releases, Yen Press’s English edition of A Bride’s Story – WOW. It always amazes me how good it looks, not to mention of course how gorgeous the artwork is. It’s a beautiful piece of work all around. I was thrilled this month to pick up a copy of volume three. I also bought Bunny Drop (Vol.04) which is the start of the series’ time-skip to cute little Rin now being a teenager. So far my opinion on it is very… meh. Actually it’s more like, ‘I wish I’d stopped at three’. So sad.
Continuingly getting better however is Sailor Moon! Kodansha Comics recently released the fourth volume and while it was a little painfully episodic (one character after another being kidnapped), it had a lot of good Tuxedo Mask character development that the anime barely scratched the surface of. It makes me really like him as a character and even his relationship with Usagi more too. On the opposite end of the likeability scale are the characters of Itazura na Kiss (Vol.08) – why am I still reading this series!? Classic shoujo or not, the cons of the non-existant relationship are far outweighing the funny moments. Bleh.
Thankfully there were other omnibus to buy that were able to almost completely wash the ick of Itazura away – Vertical Inc’s Dororo (by Osamu Tezuka! and over 800 pages!) and Viz Media’s Cross Game (Vol.07). Cross Game has easily become one of my favourite comic series I’ve ever read – I get completely engrossed reading every volume. It’s just so good! The ability to make the everyday incrediably compelling and interesting is a skill Mitsuru Adachi definitely has. Another series that makes rather boring activities still charming to read is Seven Seas‘ Blood Alone (Vol.06). Don’t let the word vampire turn you off this one, it’s really sweet and has some good action sequences that are pretty realistic in their execution. Nothing too over the top and thus refreshingly believable.
This past week I also purchased my first digital manga volumes after buying myself an iPad (oh my credit card, it weeps!). Printed-versions are still my much preferred, but with some publishers now offering titles we’ll only ever see legally available in English via digital, I’d rather read them digitally than not at all. The iPad’s big screen and crisp graphics also offers a really nice reading experience, which I hope to go into with more detail at a later date.
After looking through different manga purchasing options, including Yen Press, Viz Media and Digital Manga’s apps, the site that earned my money was SuBLime – Viz Media’s new boys’ love publishing arm. The company sells digital copies you can then either read through your web browser on their website or download as a PDF to read however you digitally-please. This flexibility plus the tidy $5.99 price tag won me over. I bought three one-shots – Devil’s Honey, Oku-san’s Daily Fantasies and The Bed of My Dear King. All three were enjoyable in their own ways and I plan to share how and why soon.
…and that was my manga buying for April! What was in your swag bags this month?