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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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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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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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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DMC: to collect or not?, work update, and some review links

June 21, 2009 at 7:34 pm (reviews - links, upcoming releases)

I don’t often waffle on whether or not to check out a new manga title, but I’m seriously unsure about whether or not to try Detroit Metal City. Since the review copies that get sent my way are almost exclusively shoujo, this one isn’t likely to fall into my hands if I don’t seek it out. I hear really good things, and I certainly read and work on a fairly wide variety of titles/genres, but I can’t decide if DMC sounds like something I’d enjoy. (It doesn’t help that I avoid reviews of things I haven’t read, since most other reviewers tend to talk about more plot details than I usually want to know in advance.)

I already collect a fair number of series, so I’m trying to avoid adding too many new titles to my list for the next little while. But several titles I collect are ending in just a volume or two, which makes it hard to keep from just trying everything that catches my eye. And the DMC waffling continues.


On the work front, TOKYOPOP now has a preview of ZONE-00 vol. 1 up on their site. That may just be the single most challenging volume I’ve ever worked on, and I say that in full awareness of having done three full-length fanbooks and multiple volumes of Sgt. Frog. ^_^ (Volume 2 was much, much easier than volume 1, for a few reasons.) I’ll be very interested to see what people think of vol. 1 when review copies start going out.

Meanwhile, I’m currently at work on the final volume of Natsuki Takaya’s Phantom Dream, and I’ll be very sorry to see it go. It’s interesting as an early work, as I’ve said to many people, and it also improves noticeably from volume to volume. The artwork in vol. 5 is much, much different from vol. 1 (it looks fairly similar to her style in early volumes of Fruits Basket), and while her plotting isn’t as masterful as it is in Fruits Basket (which I think is structurally brilliant), I really like the characters and the story comes together quite well. I have a long history of really enjoying various series right up until the end and then being disappointed by the way they wrap up, and that didn’t happen here.

And while I’m mentioning Dream: Lillian (Diaz-Przybyl, the current series editor) has given me the go-ahead to tell readers that vol. 3+ will include a glossary and character guide, which should come as a relief to the people who find the plethora of Japanese mystical terms a little, er, overwhelming.


And as always, a small batch of MangaLife reviews (including some CMX books):
Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea (B-) [CMX]
Sand Chronicles vol. 5 (A+)
Venus Capriccio vol. 1 (B-) [CMX]

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New releases and unrelated review links

May 7, 2009 at 10:25 pm (reviews - links, upcoming releases)

Two of my rewrites are out or coming out this month: Sgt. Frog vol. 17 and Animal Academy: Hakobune Hakusho vol. 1. The Frog is the Frog; if you’ve read it, you know what it’s like. This volume had a few particularly difficult adaptation challenges (the puns often don’t translate well), but I think it came through okay. ^_^

Animal Academy is just starting out, and it’s adorable. I’ve only read two volumes, so I don’t really know where it’s heading; there’ve been a few hints in those volumes that things might not be as fluffy as they seem from the premise, but since I haven’t read anything else by the author I don’t know yet how far those things might be taken. In the meantime, it’s cute and endearing, and there’s nothing wrong with that. (I haven’t seen a hard copy yet, but the reviews I’ve seen suggest it’s being marketed for younger readers.)


I’ve had three new reviews go up at MangaLife in the last few weeks (which isn’t as many as usual, but things have been a little insane lately).

Beauty Pop vol. 9-10 (B)
B.O.D.Y. vol. 5 (C)
Love*Com vol. 12 (B+)

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Probably the last post of the year.

December 22, 2008 at 4:11 pm (reviews - links, upcoming releases)

Somehow it’s been a month since I updated, and WordPress seems to have changed its interface. (I really ought to explore the site’s options more carefully, since I know it has quite a lot of potential I haven’t tapped.)

This month I have a few adaptations coming out: Sgt. Frog 16 has already made its appearance, I believe, and Phantom Dream 1 should be out sometime in the next week or so (the schedule release date varies from retailer to retailer, so I’m not sure exactly when it’s due). And my first adaptation for Del Rey Manga, the Genshiken Official Book, is out right at the end of the month. I’ve already received my contributor’s copies, and as always I’m blown away by how closely layout people can make the English versions of fanbooks match the Japanese versions. In this case, the physical book is larger than the books in the actual series, which I wasn’t expecting. (I’ve never seen the Japanese editions of Genshiken, but the original Official Book is the same size as the other Japanese manga volumes on my bookshelf.)

Meanwhile, Animal Academy: Hakobune Hakusho has turned up on TOKYOPOP’s list of 2009 shipping dates, so I guess I can consider it well and truly announced. I’ve also been assigned to another title on that list, but I’m not including it in my own list here until after I’ve actually worked on it. ^_^


I’m considering things to do with this blog in 2009, but for now this is just another quick list of review links. As is usually the case, these are all based on review copies from VIZ.

Fairy Cube vol. 3 (B+)
Gaba Kawa (C+)
Heaven’s Will (C+)
Honey and Clover vol. 4 (A-)
Skip Beat! vol. 15 (B+)
We Were There vol. 1 (A-)
We Were There vol. 2 (A-)

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Pre-NYAF review round-up

September 22, 2008 at 3:02 pm (reviews - links, upcoming releases)

I seem to have great luck with cover art–the first volume of Shinobi Life looks pretty good. ^_^ Pink, but not overwhelmingly girly; seems about right for Beni.

Vol. 12 of D.N.Angel is listed on Amazon.ca but isn’t showing up on Amazon.com yet, so for now the sidebar link is Canadian. I’m excited to be working on this series, now that it’s finally come off hiatus in Japan. I was only somewhat familiar with it before I did my research and read through the earlier English volumes, but I have several friends who’re fans, and it’s my first time working on a series that Alethea and Athena translate. (Well, that’s not technically true–CLAMP no Kiseki is a series, but I only adapted the last volume.)


I should link to my recent MangaLife reviews before I get too distracted by getting ready for NYAF. Five of them, all based on review copies from VIZ:
Blank Slate vol. 1 (B-)
The Gentlemen’s Alliance † vol. 7 (B-)
S.A. vol. 6 (B-)
Sand Chronicles vol. 3 (A)
Tail of the Moon vol. 13 (B)

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Two reviews and some cover art!

July 16, 2008 at 11:37 pm (reviews - links, upcoming releases)

Two new(ish) reviews at MangaLife, between today’s update and last week’s:
Fairy Cube vol. 2 (B+)
Sugar Princess vol. 1 (B)


Meanwhile, ICv2 has a short article up about TOKYOPOP’s versions of Phantom Dream (which I’m working on) and Tsubasa: Those With Wings, including what looks like the final cover art for Phantom Dream (and preliminary art for Tsubasa: TWW).

…the Twins are right. Having two different “Tsubasa” titles in the market is probably going to confuse people.

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Not a bad excuse for an inaugural post…

January 29, 2008 at 12:03 am (upcoming releases)

The cover art for vol. 1 of J-Pop Idol is live at TOKYOPOP, and looking rather spiffy.

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