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Dan Brown to make manga debut as super-powered detective

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Although Dan Brown already has one fictional alter ego in the form of Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code protagonist Robert Langdon, the bestselling author will soon have a second — one with superpowers: Anime News Network reports he’s set to become a character in Kafuka Asagiri’s manga Bungō Stray Dogs (Literary Stray Dogs).

When Brown was asked to appear in the book, he replied “I’ve always wanted to be mangafied.”

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Newspaper ads, digital retrospective mark ‘One Piece’ milestone

one piece-adPublisher Shueisha Inc. took out full-page ads in The New York Times and The China Times to celebrate One Piece‘s position as the bestselling manga of all time, with more than 300 million copies in print in Japan, and 345 million worldwide.

According to The Japan Times, the company launched a similar campaign across that country on Nov. 1, when the 72nd volume of the pirate adventure was released.

Illustrated by One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda, the ads proclaim, “Hey, World, This Is The Manga!” U.S. readers are directed to Viz.com, the website Viz Media, for “free previews and more.” (The San Francisco-based company is jointly owned by Shueisha, Shogakukan and the latter’s licensing division ShoPro Japan.)

Viz is marking the milestone with a free digital retrospective that features an interview with Oda, a gallery of the manga’s first 69 covers, color artwork, and a new One Piece chapter from Japan’s Weekly Shonen Jump.

“One Piece has achieved something very significant, and the sales milestone speaks to the strong international appeal of the enduring characters and gripping story that Eiichiro Oda created that are universally loved in multiple countries by millions of fans of all ages,” Andy Nakatani, editor-in-chief Weekly Shonen Jump, said in a statement. “The continuing spread of digital technology will bring these action packed high-seas adventures to even more readers.”

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First glimpse of Hayao Miyazaki’s new samurai manga

Miyazaki at the drawing board

As we noted last week, legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki may have left the world of anime, but he hasn’t retired entirely. Instead, Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki revealed he’s working on a samurai manga, set in the Sengoku (Warring States) period of Japanese history. And on Monday, Japan’s NHK broadcast a first look at Miyazaki’s progress.

Miyazaki actually drew his first manga, Puss in Boots, in 1969, but he is best known for his seven-volume Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, which Viz Media recently reprinted as a two-volume boxed set; the first part of the story was the basis for his film of the same name.

Suzuki previously said last week that Miyazaki regards drawing as his “stress relief”; the manga will run in a magazine and that Miyazaki is doing it for free. Here’s a look at the work in progress:

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‘Sherlock’ TV series getting second manga adaptation

sherlock-v1Just a week after PBS revealed a U.S. premiere date for the third season of Sherlock, word surfaces that the drama’s manga adaptation is poised to make a return in Japan’s Young Ace magazine, drawn again by “Jay.”

According to Anime News Network, the announcement will be made official on Saturday, with an interpretation of the television series’ second episode, “The Blind Banker,” set to debut Dec. 4. An adaptation of the first episode, “A Study in Pink,” launched in October 2012, and was collected in book form just two months ago.

The modern-day Holmes and Watson, played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, have been the subjects of countless boys-love fan comics since the show premiered in 2010. However, there’s no slash fiction here; it’s a straightforward adaptation.

Owned by Kadokawa, Young Ace is a seinen (young men’s) magazine that’s serialized such manga as The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Legal Drug.

The third season of Sherlock premieres Jan. 19 in the United States with “The Empty Hearse,” followed by “The Sign of Three” and “His Last Vow.”


Japanese school board lifts restrictions on ‘Barefoot Gen’

Barefoot_Gen_volume_oneA Japanese school board has reversed its decision to restrict student access to Barefoot Gen, Keiji Nakazawa’s autobiographical story about a 6-year-old boy who survived the Hiroshima bombing.

Although the manga’s removal from Matsue City elementary and middle-school library shelves had drawn widespread criticism, Reuters reports the board claims the policy change is because of procedural problems with the way the previous directive was issued.

On Dec. 17, the schools superintendent ordered Barefoot Gen pulled, with students only permitted to read it with permission from a teacher, following a complaint about the book’s depiction of violence by Imperial Japanese Army troops (many Japanese nationalists deny troops committed any war crimes during World War II). However, the board insisted the decision was based strictly on the level of violence in the manga, and not on the political nature of the complaint.

Still, Reuters reports the outrage over the manga’s removal echoes increasing concerns about the conservative agenda of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s to reframe the nation’s wartime history “in less apologetic colors.”

Nakazawa’s widow Misayo told the Japanese media last week, when news of the restriction first circulated, that she was shocked by the move. “War is brutal,” she said. “It expresses that in pictures, and I want people to keep reading it.”

Nakazawa died in December at age 73.

Artists say goodbye to Shogakukan building with ‘graffiti rally’

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What’s undoubtedly my favorite item of the day arrives courtesy of writer and retailer Chris Butcher: With the 46-year-old Tokyo headquarters of Shogakukan set to be demolished in September, the manga publisher called on artists from across the country to send off the nine-story building in style.

More than 20 creators gathered Aug. 9 for the “Big Graffiti Rally,” where they drew some of their most famous characters on the walls — which will be nothing but rubble in a matter of weeks. Among the artists were Kazukiho Shimamoto, Naoki Urusawa, Fujiko Fujio and Masami Yuki.

According to Japan Daily Press, the building will be replaced by an earthquake-proof structure. See some of the photos below, and even more at JDP, The Huffington Post and RocketNews24.

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Raina Telgemeier’s comic about ‘Barefoot Gen’ translated into Japanese

beginnings1As we reported Sunday, the school board of Matsue, Japan, has restricted students’ access to the manga Barefoot Gen, which is based on author Keiji Nakazawa’s own experiences during and after the bombing of Hiroshima. The book will remain in elementary and junior high school libraries, but only teachers can check it out — not students.

The official reason was the level of violence in the books, although the initial complaint about the book was that it depicted atrocities that the person who filed the complaint alleged had not happened.

This reminded Drama creator Raina Telgemeier of her own experience of being disturbed by the book as a child. As she said on her blog, “If you’ve ever seen me talk, you might know that Barefoot Gen is one of my seminal influences as a cartoonist, and I hold its creator Keiji Nakazawa in the highest regard.” And many years ago, she drew a short comic, Beginnings, about the effect that Barefoot Gen had on her nine-year-old self.

There’s a bit of the comic at right, but what’s cool is what happened after the book was banned: A Japanese father, who was unhappy about the banning, contacted Telgemeier and asked if he could translate Beginnings into Japanese, so his daughter could read it and share it with her friends. Telgemeier assented, and the translated version is now up on her website as well. There’s something wonderfully circular about that.


‘Barefoot Gen’ removed from school library in Japan

Barefoot GenThe school board in the Japanese city of Matsue has restricted student access to Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen, the autobiographical story of a six-year-old boy who survived the Hiroshima bombing.

The board ruled that the book will remain in elementary and junior high school libraries but only teachers will have access to it; students will not be allowed to check it out.

Barefoot Gen, which originally ran in Shonen Jump, a magazine for teenage boys, is based on Nakazawa’s own experiences; he was seven years old and on his way to school when the bomb was dropped, and the adult who was walking with him was burned to death on the spot, and his father, brother and sister were killed when their burning house collapsed on them.

The Matsue school board made its decision last December, after a complaint was filed with them alleging “Children would gain a wrong perception of history because the work describes atrocities by Japanese troops that did not take place.” Many Japanese nationalists deny that Japanese troops were involved in the Rape of Nanking or committed war crimes during World War II, such as the events depicted in the book. Nonetheless, the school board said its decision was based strictly on the level of violence in the books and not on the political nature of the complaint.

Barefoot Gen has been acclaimed worldwide, and it is included in the Hiroshima Public Schools’ peace education curriculum for elementary school students, although there have been calls for it to be removed from schools there as well.

Viz bringing back Urasawa’s ‘Monster’ with omnibus editions

monster-v1Viz Media announced over the weekend at Otakon in Baltimore that it will bring Naoki Urasawa’s acclaimed psychological thriller Monster back into print next year a two-in-one format. Anime News Network reports the new oversized omnibus series, called Monster: The Perfect Edition, will debut in July, with a new volume released every three months.

Originally released in North America from 2006 to 2008, the 18-volume manga, Monster tells the story of a young brain surgeon who ruins his own reputation by saving the life of a boy, only for the child to grow up to become a sociopath.

The series was adapted in 2004 as an anime; HBO and Guillermo del Toro are collaborating on a live-action version.

The new omnibus treatment will cut the number of volumes in half, which each retailing for $19.99. Viz will take the same approach with Rumiko Takahashi’s martial arts/romantic comedy Ranma ½, which will go back into print beginning in March.

Seven Seas licenses new yuri manga from Milk Morinaga

gakuenpolizi1The small but growing manga publisher Seven Seas has been beefing up its line lately, and it has announced a new license today: Gakuen Polizi, a lesbian romantic comedy by Milk Morinaga.

Morinaga is well known in yuri (lesbian) manga circles; Seven Seas has also published her earlier manga, Girl Friends, and her short story collection Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry Blossom Pink. There isn’t a lot of yuri manga — it’s a niche of a niche — so it’s good to see a creator’s works being brought over with some consistency. In addition, this is quite a recent series—it launched last year and is still being serialized in Japan. Here’s the blurb:

As a child, Sasami Aoba fantasized about becoming a defender of justice, like the magical girls and “Sentai Rangers” she admired on TV. Years have passed and now Sasami has become a police officer herself. Her first assignment is to infiltrate Hanagaki All-Girls High School and ferret out any trouble she may find.

On her first day posing as a student, Sasami is shocked to discover that a supposed book thief at school is actually a fellow undercover police officer, Sakuraba Midori. What’s more, Midori insists that she herself is the officer in charge of the school, not Sasami. Will the two girls become rivals, partners…or something more?

If that piques your curiosity, blogger Katherine Hanson has a review up at her site, Yuri no Boke, in which she traces that magical-girl bit back to Morinaga’s love of the genre and the doujinshi (fan comics) she makes. Hanson’s conclusion: “So far, Gakuen Polizi is one part much-needed social commentary and one part love letter to a genre its author loves, with some romance seeds being planted.”

The first volume is due out in June 2014.

Incredible manga fireworks light up the sky in Japan

"One Piece" fireworks

“One Piece” fireworks

I’ve always disliked fireworks, an aversion I blame on a crippling childhood fear that they would rain down on me like the white-hot fire of a sparkler. That said, I might be convinced to change my mind about them if there were more manga-themed pyrotechnic displays like the one held Thursday in Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture.

At Kotaku, Brian Ashcroft writes that Shonen Jump held its own fireworks celebration at a summer festival, with the focus on many of its own hit properties, like One Piece, Naruto, Dragon Ball and Gintama. Judging from the photos, and the video below, Luffy’s hat was definitely my favorite. You can see many more images at Kotaku.

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Chromatic announces two new titles, print edition of ‘Off*Beat’

Dire Hearts LijewskiNewly minted indie publisher Chromatic Press has announced two new series for its digital anthology Sparkler, which will launch in July as a monthly magazine: Dire Hearts, a magical-school-battle story by Christy Lijewski, creator of RE:Play and Next Exit, and Gauntlet, an illustrated prose novel written by Ellery Prime and illustrated by T2A.

In addition to that news, Chromatic reached a milestone of sorts last week: It began shipping print copies of the first two volumes of Jen Lee Quick’s Off*Beat, which were funded by a Kickstarter campaign. Off*Beat was originally released by Tokyopop, which stopped publishing original English manga before the third volume was finished. Chromatic bought the rights from Tokyopop and gave the full copyright to Quick; in return, she signed to publish the full series with Chromatic.

Chromatic Press is run by four women with a ton of experience in comics and other media, including former Tokyopop editor Lillian Diaz-Przybyl, freelance writer and editor Lianne Sentar, freelance manga editor Rebecca Scoble, and Jill Astley, who works for a big bank by day and is heavily involved in otome game fandom when she’s off the clock.

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Digital Manga to resume print publication ahead of schedule

Postcard

Despite its name, Digital Manga Inc. has always had a robust line of print manga, skewing heavily toward yaoi and boys-love titles, so the company’s announcement late last year that it would be placing a number of print manga on hiatus sent shivers up fans’ spines; that sort of announcement is often a prelude to more dire news.

Not this time, though. Not only is Digital resuming print publication, it has moved some of its titles up and is making them available earlier than originally planned. Yoko Tanigaki, Digital’s vice president, sales and distribution, confirmed the publisher is resuming print publication, and none of its print manga series have been canceled. And there’s more: Three titles that were slated for publication later this year are either available now or will be available next week via Digital’s retail site, Akadot.com (note: link may be NSFW). Vol. 8 of Ai no Kusabi, scheduled for an October release, is available now, and Vol. 7 of Ze, originally set for September, will be there next week. And there’s more: Vol. 8 of The Tyrant Falls in Love will also be available next week, well ahead of its July release date, and it will come with a special postcard for Akadot buyers only. In an e-mail, Tanigaki said:

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New chapter of ‘Highschool of the Dead’ gets simultaneous release [Updated]

YP_04_2013_COVERAs the trend accelerates toward publishing manga simultaneously in Japan and North America, Yen Press has scored a coup: This week, the company released the long-awaited 30th chapter of Highschool of the Dead digitally on the same day it came out in Japan.

That’s big news for fans of the series, which follows a group of high-school students and their nurse through a zombie apocalypse. It’s serialized in Dragon Age magazine but has been on hiatus for two years, which has given Yen Press time to catch up with the Japanese releases; the seventh volume was released in the United States in July.

Chapter 30 was published Tuesday in Japan, and Yen quickly made it available on a number of e-book platforms: iTunes Bookstore, Kindle, Nook and Google Play. Interestingly, they didn’t put it in their app, although the first seven volumes are available there. UPDATE: Yen Press publishing director Kurt Hassler says that the chapter will be available in the app shortly.

Highschool of the Dead is one of Yen’s more popular manga, so the decision to make the new chapter widely available at a reasonable price on release day makes an enormous amount of sense — especially with the long break since the last chapter. Thanks to Shonen Jump, there seems to be a mini-trend toward chapter-by-chapter, rather than volume-by-volume, releases. This makes a lot of sense, as that’s how most series come out first in Japan.

Yen has also been releasing Soul Eater NOT simultaneously with Japan, within its monthly Yen Plus magazine.

‘My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’ will soon be a manga

My Little Pony mangaThe animated cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is already a hit in Japan (where the title is My Little Pony ~Tomodachi wa Mahō~), and now it’s coming to the pages of the children’s manga magazine Pucchigumi as well. The news was revealed at the Tokyo International Anime Fair, where, according to Anime News Network, a flyer was passed out with the news. A representative from the Japanese company Bushiroad told ANN that the artist for the manga will be named sometime this spring.

Pucchigumi sounds like the sort of magazine that kids love and parents loathe; it runs a lot of licensed series based on properties such as Barbie, Tamagotchi, and Jewelpet. A glance at the cover of the current issue reveals a crowded layout, an excess of pink, and lots of big-eyed, super-cute characters, so Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and Twilight Sparkle should fit right in.

Pucchigumi is published by Shogakukan, one of the parent companies of Viz, so if the manga were ever to be licensed in the U.S., that’s who would probably publish it—and indeed, it would be a logical addition to their VizKids line. Of course, IDW already has a serialized My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic, so the relationship could be complicated.


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