A two-pronged post: catching up and stepping away from the script

August 29, 2010 at 11:52 am (cover art, reviews - links, the art of adaptation, upcoming releases)

Who knew it was possible for this space to be even quieter than it was when I was reviewing for MangaLife? I’ve hardly read any manga this summer, as evidenced by my growing to-read stack–it got a bit out of control after I shopped at Anime North in May, and I haven’t dented it noticeably since then.

In the last couple of months I’ve had a handful of rewrites hit the shelves: Sgt. Frog 19, Zone-00 4, Animal Academy 5, and my first book from VIZ, volume 1 of Seiho Boys’ High School! I’ve also seen some new cover art, which is always a treat for me: covers have popped up on Amazon for Animal Academy 6 and Shinobi Life 6.

Most excitingly, there’s finally art for Demon Sacred volume 1 and volume 2. I adore seeing the first artwork for a new series, and Demon Sacred is all the better because the series’ release was on hold for so long while TOKYOPOP made some more schedule adjustments. But now I’m back to work on it, and the first two volumes (which are super cheap!) will be hitting shelves really soon. I hope lots of people will check it out.

On the review front: last I checked there were still one or two reviews of mine that hadn’t run over at MangaLife, but I think they’ve gotten lost in the shuffle. This one ran a while ago, though:

Rasetsu vol. 4 (B)

I assume I’m not the only person who sometimes has trouble solving problems when I’m staring at them. This happens in all kinds of ways, like the times when I know how to spell a word properly but am unable to remember when looking at a misspelling. (Let’s not even talk about math classes.) Spelling’s an easy one to solve, of course; if I’m looking at a screen, I probably have access to the OED (what’s available online for free, anyway. Ask me if I’m bitter that my old university now offers students subscriptions to the OED online!). But of course that doesn’t much matter, because the act of clicking away and not looking at the typo usually fixes the problem.

And yet sometimes I forget that backing away can be the easiest and best answer. When I get stuck on the wording for a particular line, I can find myself picking away at it over and over, knowing that the version I want is on the tip of my tongue but playing coy. In first drafts I get around that by highlighting the line to come back to, but that only works on the first go-round.

While working on the script for a volume of Seiho Boys’ High School! last week, I got stuck on a line. It wasn’t a hard one–no complex thoughts, no hard-to-translate concepts–but I was completely blanking on the right way to turn the phrase. And then I got around the problem completely by accident: while I was out with my husband, I mentioned to him that I was snagged on a perfectly generic line, and I quoted it to him to see if he could see the obvious way to turn it around…

…except I quoted it to him the way it should be. All it took was saying it aloud to someone else and my brain rewrote it on the spot, so automatically that I didn’t even realize it had happened until I got home, popped open my adaptation, and clued in. (And between that and getting an email from the translator a few minutes later, bang, I had a complete adaptation waiting for one last go-over. So that’s done and turned in, and it’s time to move on to the final volume of Animal Academy.)


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Backlogged reviews at ML

June 28, 2010 at 2:40 pm (reviews - links)

It’s been two months since I officially stopped reviewing for MangaLife.com, and I was holding off on posting links to my final reviews there, but…well, it’s been two months, and I think there’re still two or more in their posting queue. So here are links to the most recent five, anyway, and I suppose sooner or later the rest of them will go up:

Beast Master vol. 2 (B-)
NANA vol. 20 (A+)
Sand Chronicles vol. 7 (A+)
Wild Ones vol. 9 (B-)
Vampire Knight vol. 9 (B+)


Today the news broke that Manga Recon is disbanding, since PopCultureShock is shutting down. :/ That’s a real shame; I’ve always enjoyed their collective reviews. I’m glad that several of the reviewers are still going to be easy to follow, especially Melinda and Michelle.

In other linkblogging, Telophase has a post on Visual Languages of Manga and Comics up at Hooded Utilitarian.

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Refocusing my reviewing (and taking a break), plus a couple of work-related links

April 26, 2010 at 10:26 am (reviews - links, upcoming releases)

Recently on Twitter I commented that it was a little funny that I’ve been so busy with work that I haven’t had time to post that I’ve gotten too busy to review regularly at MangaLife anymore. But a couple of weeks ago I spoke to the current Editor in Chief at ML about stepping down as a reviewer there; two years is a very respectable run, and I have enough else on my plate at the moment that reviewing felt like over-committing myself. (Of course, in a month or so I’ll undoubtedly hit a dry spell to make up for all that’s going on now, but that’s how it goes.)

So for now I’m taking a complete break from reviewing. I hope to come back to it once I’ve recharged my internal reserves a bit, though, and when that happens I plan to post any reviews here on my blog instead of on another site. Meanwhile, there’s still a backlog of reviews I’ve submitted to MangaLife, so there’ll be another batch or two of links here as they come out [see below].


On the work front, this month saw the release of both Animal Academy: Hakobune Hakusho volume 4 and Fruits Basket: Banquet (don’t ask me why the title doesn’t exactly match that of the first fanbook, which came out as Fruits Basket Fan Book -Cat-. Such mysteries are beyond my ken).

Cover art has come out for Zone-00 volume 4, which is due for release in June. I think that volume has the distinction of being the only book I’ve ever adapted when all of the preceding volumes were already out in English and I had a complete set of hard copies to refer to for consistency. Obviously release schedules don’t ordinarily allow for that, but it was a treat.

Meanwhile, I was excited to hear that TOKYOPOP has rescheduled Demon Sacred for this fall. I adapted volumes 1-2 quite a while ago, and now they’re coming out as a double volume. I’m looking forward to getting to read more of the series. It’s by the creator of Jyu Oh Sei, and it has a lot of strange but intriguing stuff going on.


And finally, here’s the first of my final heap of reviews over at MangaLife. I think there’re about eight more reviews still waiting to be posted there.

Arata: The Legend vol. 1 (B+)
Skip Beat! vol. 20 (B)
We Were There vol. 8 (A)

There was also one final batch of mini reviews [vol. 9 of Honey and Clover (Chica Umino), vol. 9 of We Were There (Yuki Obata), vol. 7 of Mixed Vegetables (Ayumi Komura), vol. 15 of S.A. (Maki Minami), vol. 4 of Black Bird (Kanoko Sakurakoji), vol. 11 [the series finale!] of The Gentlemen’s Alliance † (Arina Tanemura), vol. 17 of Kaze Hikaru (Taeko Watanabe), and vol. 2 of Natsume’s Book of Friends (Yuki Midorikawa)].

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Reviews from the last couple of weeks

March 29, 2010 at 2:28 pm (reviews - links)

A link: over on Manga Bookshelf, Melinda recently made a post with an extensive list of female manga bloggers, in response to someone’s suggestion that manga criticism is a male-dominated space.

In addition to my usual links to my recent MangaLife reviews, I also want to link to this ML feature, where I and other ML writers discussed our first experiences with anime and manga.

And now, the regular reviews:
B.O.D.Y. vol. 8 (C-)
Haruka -Beyond the Stream of Time- vol. 7 (C-)
Kimi ni Todoke vol. 3 (A-)
St. Dragon Girl vol. 6 (B)

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Catching up on a few review links

March 11, 2010 at 11:24 am (reviews - links)

It’s been a quiet few weeks on the work front, which may be just as well since things are about to get a lot busier. In the meantime, I’ve been trying to find the bottom of my review copy stack, which means that the reviews I’ve been turning in for the last week or two will be coming out gradually for the next while. But here are the reviews that’ve gone up since the last time I made one of these posts:

Honey and Clover vol. 8 (A+)
Kaze Hikaru vol. 16 (A-)
The Magic Touch vol. 5-6 (C-)
Natsume’s Book of Friends vol. 1 (B)

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A bunch of new adaptations, and the usual review links

February 6, 2010 at 5:39 pm (reviews - links)

In the growing tradition of all the series I work on releasing new volumes at once, the last couple of weeks saw the appearance of vol. 18 of Sgt. Frog, vol.3 of Animal Academy: Hakobune Hakusho, vol. 5 of Phantom Dream, vol. 4 of Shinobi Life, and vol. 3 of Zone-00. Whew. That brings Phantom Dream to an end–the first complete series I adapted! (Well, not counting a very short one which got caught up on TOKYOPOP’s cuts a couple of years ago. Technicality.)


Have a bit of link-blogging, while I’m here: my friend Sean Gaffney has caved and started a manga review blog, where he’s been reviewing quite frequently. Sean really knows his stuff, so seeing him doing this formally is pretty awesome.


MangaLife has a new Editor in Chief as of this week, although Park, the former EiC, is still on board as a staff writer. Will this mean sweeping changes over at ML? Who can say?

I had only a few new reviews posted in the last month or so, but here they are:

Love*Com vol. 16 (B-)
Monkey High! vol. 8 (B+) (series finale)
Otomen vol. 4 (B-)

I also did a round-up of mini reviews at the end of December, which covered vol. 13 of Ouran High School Host Club (Bisco Hatori), vol. 2 of Black Bird (Kanoko Sakurakoji), vol. 7 of We Were There (Yuki Obata), vol. 15 of Kaze Hikaru (Taeko Watanabe), vol. 5 of St. Dragon Girl (Natsumi Matsumoto), vol. 6 of Mixed Vegetables (Ayumi Komura), vol. 12 of Crimson Hero (Mitsuba Takanashi), and vol. 14 of S.A. (Maki Minami).

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Last post of the year–state of the workload, review links, and a recommendation

December 30, 2009 at 4:50 pm (reviews - links)

Amid all the uncertainties of the glamorous freelance life, it’s good to know one thing: if I adapt a fanbook, there’s a 75% chance of it happening over Christmas. This time three years ago I was doing my very first adaptation, the Fruits Basket Fan Book – Cat-; two years ago I was adapting the Genshiken Official Book; and now I’m working on the second Fruits Basket fanbook. (Sometime in between I adapted the second Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle Character Guide, but clearly that was an anomaly.)

Add in the fact that fanbooks are a lot of work, that it’s the holiday season (and we have a friend visiting for said holidays), and that I have another assignment pending which probably wants a very quick turnaround, and once again my review copy backlog is being neglected. There’s a lot of stuff in that stack that I’m dying to read–the new Sand Chronicles, which I can’t crack open until I get at least two more reviews written!–but right now I’m mostly hunkering down and banking on getting as many written as possible come January.

I’ve still been holding steady at roughly one review a week, though, so here’s what I’ve been talking about lately:

Beast Master vol. 1 (B-)
Butterflies, Flowers vol. 1 (B+)
Fushigi Yûgi: Genbu Kaiden vol. 9 (B+)
High School Debut vol. 12 (A-)
Rasetsu vol. 2 (B+)

I’ve also been squeezing in a bit of non-review reading, which (as I’ve mentioned elsewhere) recently included reading vol. 1-6 of Yotsuba&!. Vol. 7 is winging its way here via Amazon, and I can’t wait to get it. I keep thinking of new people to recommend it to. Other people have been taking care of reviewing it on MangaLife, so I’m glad to see it represented over there. This series is definitely on my to-buy list, despite the library graciously offering to lend it to me any time I want.

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The monthly-or-so review roundup

November 23, 2009 at 7:50 pm (reviews - links, upcoming releases)

After having a few adaptations come out all at once earlier this month, it looks like the only book I have left for the rest of 2009 is volume 13 of DN Angel (out this week or next, depending on who you ask). That catches us up to the Japanese release, I believe–at least, I haven’t heard anything about vol. 14 being out in Japan yet, and Alethea & Athena are big enough fans of the series that I suspect I would’ve heard.


Recent reviews:

Boys Over Flowers: Jewelry Box (B+)
The Gentlemen’s Alliance † vol. 10 (B)
Love*Com vol. 14 (B+)
Rin-ne vol. 1 (B+)
Vampire Knight vol. 8 (A-)

I also wrote another round-up of short reviews (although they were longer than usual for this format; a few could probably have gone up as stand-alone reviews, but I wanted to get them posted). This time I covered vol. 19 of Skip Beat!, vol. 11 of La Corda d’Oro, vol. 7 of B.O.D.Y., vol. 6 of Haruka -Beyond the Stream of Time, vol. 3 of Honey Hunt, vol. 8 of Wild Ones, and vol. 14 of Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs.

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A few manga review links and comments

October 25, 2009 at 2:07 pm (reviews - links)

I only had one adaptation come out this month (the second Character Guide for Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, which was my second project for Del Rey Manga), but there are three volumes coming out right at the beginning of next month: Phantom Dream vol. 4, Shinobi Life vol. 3, and Zone-00 vol. 2.


Reviewing is still going slowly but steadily, and here are the reviews that have gone up in the last few weeks:

Honey and Clover vol. 7 (A+)
Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You vol. 2 (A-)
St. Dragon Girl vol. 4 (B)
We Were There vol. 6 (A)

As you can see, I think those were some really good books. I’m always a little sad that Hagu is a deal-breaker for some people who read H&C, although given my own initial reaction to her, I can’t say I don’t understand at all. Kimi ni Todoke kind of falls under the category of “more charming than it has any right to be”; the concept is extremely simple and would so, so easy to do badly. Instead, the execution is remarkably endearing.

Today I’m writing a couple of reviews that’ll go up within the next few weeks, and I’ve got to say, I’m suddenly a lot more interested in Vampire Knight than I was before. (I just read vol. 8, and haven’t read any further, so please don’t spoil me.) What was just revealed might not have been much to write home about if it had been part of the premise all along, but as something coming up so far into the series it’s a complete shake-up of what the story has been about, and that interests me.

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Cover art and some review links

September 26, 2009 at 8:40 pm (reviews - links, upcoming releases)

It looks like I never made it as far as mentioning that three of my upcoming adaptations have shiny new cover art–the second Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle Character Guide (due next month), Phantom Dream vol. 4 (due in November), and Zone-00 vol. 2 (also due in November). The lime green spines on Zone-00 keep startling me for some reason.


My manga reviewing has slowed down quite a bit over the last month, due to a number of factors (starting with moving and ending with massive computer issues), but it’s still been reasonably steady. Recent reviews include:

Haruka -Beyond the Stream of Time- vol. 5 (C+)
Mixed Vegetables vol. 5 (B)
NANA vol. 17-18 (A+)
Sand Chronicles vol. 6 (A+)
Vampire Knight vol. 7 (B+)

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