Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mangaka Musings - Momoko Tenzen

Looking at my gigantic pile of manga that needs to be reviewed I’ve noticed that there is one artist that has prominent showing. That mangaka happens to be Momoko Tenzen. To kick off what I’m calling Momoko Tenzen Week I'm going to share my thoughts about this very cool mangaka. Momoko Tenzen is one of my favorite artists of all time. I have kind of a weird way that I rank my favorite mangaka. Because there are many artists that I really like I struggle with ranking them in order of favorites. When I rank them it turns out that they seem to fall into groups of three. Let me give you an example. If I had to choose my number one favorite artist I have three that I can’t choose to put on top, so my number one mangaka features three artists. It continues that way down the list. Momoko Tenzen falls into the spot of favorite mangaka number two (along with Yugi Yamada and You Higuri).

Initially I didn’t have much desire to pick up anything by Tenzen-sensei (I’ve noticed that there is a trend, I don’t have much of a wish to read something but due to boredom I pick it up anyway and end up loving it). I had picked up almost all of the explicit titles that Juné had released and I was looking for more BL. All that was really left were the two Momoko Tenzen-sensei titles (at least at the time). I decided to grab The Paradise on the Hill. Initially I thought that the two characters on the cover were not all that attractive due to the pointy-ness of their chins. I know that’s a bizarre way to decide whether you should read a title but at the time I didn’t really know how to go about choosing my manga. Yet once I opened the book I discovered how much I really loved this title. It was sweet, romantic, and simply beautiful. The art and the story worked so well together that I was immediately enraptured that I couldn’t put it down and knew that I was going to have to read more by this artist.

Tenzen-sensei is extremely talented. Her artwork is gentle and sparse but very detailed. That detail is present in every aspect from character design, costuming, and even backdrops. Her lines are delicate and thin and has a very classy feel to it. Her use of screentone is appropriate and lends itself to give it a very clean look. The faces may seem to be somewhat angular but that just makes them that much sexier. She gives her characters full lips, long limbs, and gorgeous heads of hair. Because her work tends to be on the more dramatic side of the spectrum she doesn’t use chibis very often (hyper-mutation to characters used often in comedic moments) but when she does they are rather adorable.

Her stories are sweet and romantic. I’ve heard some refer to them as boring but I find them to be touching and subtle. She seems to like the school setting and features tales that reflect that atmosphere. Her men seem sophisticated yet have an everyman air about them. Her stories tend to be more dramatic but she isn’t afraid to have a moment or two of comedy. Her characters vary in personality. But they all are caring and considerate in their own way.

Her tales often fit into the stereotypical yaoi mold and like I mentioned earlier some people find her to be boring or a regular run of the mill mangaka but to me she takes a regular story and applies her beautiful artwork and weaves a magical spell that entrances. Feel free to share any opinions about the talented Tenzen-sensei in the comments section. Also, if you’re interested you can check out my reviews for A Paradise on the Hill, Manhattan Love Story, and Suggestive Eyes.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Manic About Manga's Wishes for 2010!

Hey! Sorry it's been a while since I've posted. Man, working for a living is for the dogs! My main goal for the new(ish) year is to post at least once a week but preferably more. Having goals in life make it worth living, right?

Actually the point of this post is to make some wishes on what I would like to see in the world of manga and anime. I'm pretty sure none of this will come to pass but a girl can dream. So here is my list of things I would like to see:

  • More titles in English from Shiuko Kano
  • I want to see the third season of Kyo Kara MAOH! (the anime)
  • I want the Kyo Kara MAOH! light novels released in English (according to mangaupdates.com it states that TOKYOPOP has acquired the license for the novels, what does that mean? I have no clue!)
  • See such awesome manga publishers like Aurora/Deux/LuvLuv and Go! Comi get back on their feet
  • Get the final volume of Magical JxR published and continue on with the releases of Star Project Chiro (you listening UDON?)
  • Find a company that would release the whole Duck Prince by Ai Morinaga series (CPM started it but then dropped the license halfway through and has now gone out of business)
  • Get the fifth book of breath published by Yaoi Generation
  • I would love to see more from the Italian team Dany&Dany
  • Have NETCOMICS release the third volume of Roureville and the final four volumes of Do Whatever You Want (vols. 1-3 are available out of the seven volumes) in print and not just online
  • Find a publisher to bring us the awesome new content in the world of Hajin Yoo's Totally Captivated
  • Have Libre (in Japan) release the rights for Haru Wo Daiteita, plus we would need a US publisher to want to publish it because BeBeautiful is now defunct and won't be bringing us anymore Embracing Love
  • I want more Hyouta Fujiyama
  • Where's my Gakuen Prince Del Rey?
  • And finally more hours in the day and a faster internet connection (we're still in the stone age with our dial up connection around my house)!
That's all I could think of at this particular moment but I'm sure there will be more! What are some of the wishes that you guys would like in the world of anime and manga? And it doesn't have to be yaoi either, it's just that's what I love. Feel free to leave any comments, wishes, etc. in the comments segment. Inquiring minds (at least my mind) want to know!
EDIT: 2/24/2010 - I knew I forgot a few things:
  • Have a company (preferably BLU seeing how they hold the license for the first two) pick up the next two Gakuen Heaven books. The one published after the Nakajima story is my particular favorite out of the four. And I love You Higuri's art.
  • I want more Ellie Mamahara. DokiDoki has picked up one of her titles and Amazon shows that Baseball Heaven will be coming out later this year. But three books aren't going to satisfy me.
OK, I think that's it but I know I'll remember something later and kick myself for forgetting all about it (that's what happened with the Gakuen Heaven thought!)

Kyo Kara MAOH! vol. 4 by Tomo Takabayashi and Temari Matsumoto review

Kyo Kara MAOH! vol. 4

Author/Artist: Tomo Takabayashi/Temari Matsumoto

Publisher: TOKYOPOP

Rating: T – ages 13 and above

Genre: Shojo, Shonen Ai, Comedy, Drama, Action, Fantasy

Grade: A

Having recovered Morgif things seem to be looking up for our group of Mazoku heroes. But it turns out that to activate Morgif’s demonic powers a human life needs to be absorbed. Their plan of witnessing a death at the nearest hospital fails all thanks to Wolfram’s beauty. The next plan of attack comes thanks to a flier that Wolfram gets his hands on. It advertises that they need an attractive young man with his own sword to witness a death. Because they need the life and are somewhat desperate Yuri applies for the position. Once he secures the post he learns that the job isn’t quite as innocent as the ad made it sound. It seems that this is a gladiatorial type event and Yuri is the one who will take the young man’s life. Will Yuri be able to set aside his personal beliefs for the greater good of his country?

When it comes to fish out of water stories this one is definitely one of the best. I’m still enamored with it. Matsumoto-sensei has really brought Takabayashi-sensei’s story to life and filled it to the brim with beautiful bishies, gorgeous costumes, and stunning backdrops. The characters are coming into their own and we get to witness these different sides to each character. It is apparent that Wolfram in settling into the role of fiancée well. Seeing how I love the world of BL I’m trying to figure out which character will be the top and which one will be the bottom, because the way I see it both Yuri and Wolfram are both bottoms. But that’s the fangirl in me speaking. One of the most surprising characters is Gwendal. He comes across as a grumpy, fussy, ball of intensity but regardless of how serious he is he knits cute stuffed animals and loves all things cute. Underneath his crusty exterior is a kind, caring and thoughtful man. The other surprising character is Gunter. It seems that before Yuri became king Gunter was serious, studious, and capable of everything. Since Yuri’s arrival Gunter is known to be prone to constant nose bleeds, moments of pure insanity, and bouts of paranoia. Of course he’s still able to fulfil all his duties capably and quickly.

I would have given this volume an A+ but there are few issues that I have with the production. Since the story spans many volumes I’ve noticed that there seems to be some spelling continuity issues. The first one is the spelling of the name of the island that Morgif resides. The first time the island’s official name shows up as Vandervia Island (Kyo Kara MAOH! vol. 2). In subsequent volumes it is spelled Van Der Veer Island. The next spelling issue is with the name of the former monarch and Gwendal, Conrad, and Wolfram’s mother. In the first volume she says to call her Celi but the spelling is always changing. In the last few volumes they’ve been using is Tseri which would be the way you could see it being used for the Japanese translation but by using both spellings it makes it kind of annoying (at least to me). The final thing is more of a comparison between the anime and the manga. In the anime the only people who refer to Conrart (the official pronounciation) as Conrad are those that are from Earth. In the manga they all call him Conrad be they those in Shinmakoku or those from Earth. That’s just me being weird and my proofreading coming out to play.

Volume 4 is a pretty skinny volume but it pretty much wraps up the quest for Morgif and introduces us to the next adventure that Yuri finds himself experiencing. Regardless of my petty issues (that is just my obsessive/compulsive disorder coming out to play) I still highly recommend this series. You can’t beat bishies, nosebleeds, and string bikini underwear! Oh, and the story is fun too!

If you're interested feel free to check out the reviews for any of the previous volumes:
vol.1, vol. 2, vol. 3!

***Review Copy purchased through Amazon.com***