Manga Monday – New and Notable 19/03/18 – 25/03/18

So I wanted to try out a weekly post idea: I give a round up of new and notable manga  that had an official English language release the previous week, and give a spotlight to two or three that interest me. So much manga comes out these days but it can be so hard to keep track of it (I trawl through Amazon every couple of weeks just to keep up to date) and I want to show people the bits and pieces they might have missed, regardless of whether or not they’re personally my cup of tea. So, without further ado, here are some of this week’s interesting manga releases!

Perfect World Volume 1 by Rie Aruga

If a relationship meant there’d be obstacles, could you handle it? Tsugumi Kawana reunites with her first crush from high school, Itsuki Ayukawa, at a work-related get-together. He sends her heart aflutter, until she realises he now uses a wheelchair after an accident in his college years caused him to lose the use of his legs. At first she feels she couldn’t date a guy in a wheelchair, but then her feelings begin to change…

This is a premise which can be tricky to handle. Luckily, Perfect World is able to explore this delicate subject matter with sensitivity rather than becoming a mess of well-meaning yet insensitive cliches. Ayukawa has come to terms with the fact that he won’t walk again now that he has a SCI (spinal cord injury), but despite that acceptance he still experiences regret and frustration which is completely understandable. We see the perspectives of those close to him, such as his ex-girlfriend who wanted to stay by his side but could no longer handle the pressure from her family and other outsiders judging their relationship, or his mother who is pleased for him that he’s managing to work in his dream profession, but wishes that he would look after himself better due to the dangerous side effects that his injury can have. Kawana is an interesting heroine; we are quickly introduced to her hesitation at getting involved with Ayukawa, but rather than shying away she acknowledges it and moves past those feelings, instead focusing on getting to know him better and to understand more about how disabled people interact with the world and vice versa.

The art in this volume is simple, and the characters aren’t especially expressive. Aruga does shy away from drawing backgrounds in a lot of the panels which makes the art look more basic than it would otherwise, but this is her only published manga so that could be down to a lack of experience.

Overall I think Perfect World is definitely worth reading. Though it doesn’t reach the same heights I think that, like A Silent Voice, My Brother’s Husband and My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness, it can both resonate with the people who can relate to the issues portrayed in the book as well as educate those who wish to gain a greater understanding of said issues.

Volume 1 of Perfect World was published by Kodansha Comics and received a digital-only release this week.

The Good:

  • A sensitive and informative portrayal of disability
  • Likeable leads

The Not So Good:

  • Basic, sketchy artwork with occasional anatomy issues

Mononoke Sharing Volume 1 by Cool-kyou Shinja

Living with room-mates is always a learning experience – especially when they’re demons! Due to her family’s unfortunate circumstances, high school student Yuta has to find a new, cheap place to live, which is how she ends up boarding with a bunch of wacky, big-breasted fiends. Chaos ensues as Yuta learns to live with her new room-mates’ devilish hijinks!

The cast consists of Yuta, the aforementioned high schooler; Mizuchi, a kappa; Momi, a devil; Yooko, a fox spirit; Kuro, a rokurokubi (a type of yokai whose neck can stretch); and Yuki, a snow woman. The characters are introduced in a one off chapter to give you a basic understanding of their personalities, and after that they give you the (kind of rushed) origin story for how Yuta came to the apartment.

I’ll be honest, I probably wouldn’t have given this manga a chance if it wasn’t for the fact that it was by same mangaka who made Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid and I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying! The premise is very ecchi and doesn’t naturally appeal to me, and I don’t need to be told every other page how huge these boobs are! (and boy, do they like to remind you as an aside apropos of nothing every few pages.) So many of the jokes are about breasts, to the point where it gets kind of exhausting, and it’s the same cliche jokes that you always get in manga like this. I feel like these sorts of manga assume women think about and care way more about their breasts and the size thereof than either I or any breast-having person I’ve met in my life ever have. The thing is, when it’s not trying to crack boob jokes every few seconds, Mononoke Sharing actually has some decent slice-of-life moments during the Yuki-centric chapters. It’s just a shame that they’re such an afterthought compared to everything else in this volume. If the story was to move more in that direction as it continued I’d be all for it.

If you’ve read one of Cool-kyou Shinja’s manga before then you know what to expect from the art. The characters are all drawn in a simplistic chibi style, and most panels have background details that help the characters look like they’re rooted in the world rather than floating around in empty space. Screentones are used well to add depth and texture.

Personally I wouldn’t recommend this manga unless you’re a big fan of ecchi or you really, really like Cool-kyou Shinja’s work. The jokes aren’t funny and most of the characters aren’t particularly endearing, so if you want an actual good story that features monster girls then you’d be better off reading or watching Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid instead.

Volume 1 of Mononoke Sharing was published by Seven Seas and received a digital and paperback release this week.

The Good:

  • If you like staring at 2D drawings of breasts, there’s a lot in this manga I guess?
  • If you like monster girls and you’ve read all the other manga that are out at the moment about monster girls, congrats here’s another one

The Not So Good:

  • Premise isn’t especially interesting or unique
  • It’s the same joke all the way through

Other Notable Releases

Although not technically a manga, the first part of Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch was released this week! Record of Lodoss War has had various anime/manga adaptations but now the first of the original novels has received an official translation. The hard-cover edition looks particularly snazzy, with a gold-plated cover and coloured text and images inside the book.

The latest volume of Sweet Blue Flowers was also out this week, which is a reminder of how I really need to catch up! If only I’d just spent the afternoon reading the previous volumes of this rather than Mononoke Sharing… please love yourself, and maybe give Sweet Blue Flowers a try if you haven’t already rather than reading something bad.

Volume 4 of Golden Kamuy is here! The anime starts very soon and I’m super excited, but if you want to check the manga out ahead of time then I’d highly recommend it. The artwork is really impressive, so if you can stomach a bit of gore then it’s well worth checking out because the story’s very interesting. But really, what can I say about this series that hasn’t already been said?

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