FALLING FOR MANGA! PART 1

A Quick-hit Guide to Autumn 2007's Hottest Manga

Ah, the fall. The sweltering heat of summer turns crisp as lifeless foliage drops delicately to the ground. For many it's a time of reflection, but for any self-respecting manga fan, it's time to kick back and escape the world through some killer manga! Leave it to Otaku USA's intrepid manga expert, Jason Thompson, author of Manga: The Complete Guide, to navigate you through this falls meatiest manga releases. Company by company, title by title, Thompson gives a glimpse of your very own manga consuming future.

ALC PUBLISHING

YURI MONOGATARI 5
Various Artists
ALC Publishing (September 2007)

Long before lesbian-chic moe manga like Tetragrammaton Labyrinth and Iono-sama Fanatics, ALC Publishing was publishing original lesbian-themed dojinshi by Japanese and American artists. The latest installment of their 200+ page anthology magazine collects stories by American, European and Japanese creators, including Rica Takashima (Rica 'tte Kanji!) and Eriko Tadeno, as well as dojinshi circles Sakuraike and UKOZ. Although some of the stories are outright fantasy, others are realistic tales by lesbian creators, dealing with coming out, sexual orientation and all that other stuff that people don't normally talk about in manga. Ask at your local indy comic store or look online (www.anilesbocon.org) for this small-press standout.


AURORA PUBLICATIONS
WALKIN' BUTTERFLY
Chihiro Tamaki
Aurora Publishing (July 2007)
Ohzora Shuppan (Ease, 2005)
16+

Aurora Publishing is the new U.S. branch of Ohzora Shuppan, a Japanese publisher famed for josei (women's) manga. Walkin' Butterfly, their launch title, is the story of Michiko, a tall awkward girl who goes from delivering pizzas to being a Tokyo fashion model. "You won't last one step on that catwalk," says Mihara, the handsome designer who Michiko meets at the beginning of her bizarre modeling adventure. But of course, that's a challenge, not a warning. Aimed at approximately college-age readers, the story is drawn in a lanky, big-lipped, attractive style similar to Moyoco Anno and Erica Sakurazawa.


FLOCK OF ANGELS
Shoko Hamada
Aurora Publishing (August 2007)
Asahi Sonorama (Nemurenu Yori no Kimyô Hanashi (Nemuki), 2003-2005)
16+

Would a pair of feathery wings growing out of your back be a blessing or a curse? Would you be a celebrity, or a freakish outcast? More importantly, why do manga artists love drawing wings so much? In this supernatural story (originally published in the soft horror/fantasy magazine Nemuki), a disease named "Angelosis" causes angelic wings to grow on human beings, such as teenage Shea.


CPM

WEDDING EVE
Keiko Honda
CPM (October 2007)
Ohzora Shuppan (Romaroma, 2000)
13+

Yui is a wedding gown designer with a problem: the last four brides to wear her gowns have gone through painful divorces. Are her dresses cursed…and will Yui herself, a single woman, ever find true love? Old-fashioned josei romance from Keiko Honda, whose last translated manga, Over the Rainbow, was a romance about two lawyers and their secretary.


CMX

KEY TO THE KINGDOM
Kiyoko Shitou
CMX (September 2007)
Kadokawa Shoten (Asuka, 2003-2004)
13+

When the kingdom of Laudeure loses its king and eldest prince, the throne is up for grabs. Whoever can find the legendary "Key to the Kingdom" will be the new ruler…but will the precious artifact go to royal relative Asta, a princess, a military captain, an aristocrat, or someone else? A fantasy adventure with monsters and quests, drawn in an '80s shojo style, from the creator of Blue Inferior.


PRESENTS
Kanako Inuki
CMX (October 2007)
Akita Shoten (1993-1998)
18+

Like her stylistic predecessor Hideshi Hino, Kanako Inuki (School Zone) is a horror manga artist who loves to put roly-poly Family Circus-style children in nightmarish situations. Actually, Inuki is not quite as graphic as Hino, but her heavily stylized artwork is still creepy, spooky and kooky; a little more Addams Family, a little less Hostel. In Presents (a three-volume short story anthology) a supernatural girl delivers terrifying fates in the form of presents for the unsuspecting.


PALETTE OF 12 SECRET COLORS
Nari Kusakawa
CMX (October 2007)
Hakusensha (LaLa DX, 2004-ongoing)
All Ages

From the creator of The Recipe for Gertrude comes this fantasy about aspiring "color magicians" who partner up with colorful tropical birds and study at a magic school in a South Seas.


DEL REY

SHIKI TSUKAI
Toru Zeku (story), Yuna Takanagi (art)
Del Rey (September 2007)
Kodansha (Shonen Sirius, 2005-ongoing)
13+

Akira Kizuki is a 14-year-old shiki tsukai, "Keeper of the Seasons," with magic powers based on the four seasons. Can he defeat evil shiki tsukai and protect the universe from chaos?


PSYCHO BUSTERS
Yuya Aoki (story), Akinari Nao (art)
Del Rey (October 2007)
Kodansha
16+

In GetBackers, manga writer Yuya Aoki (Kindaichi Case Files) created the Japanese equivalent of superheroes, with superpowered teenagers taking dangerous missions in modern-day Tokyo. Psycho Busters, based on a series of books by Aoki, is another thinly disguised superhero story, about psychic teens on the run from a shadowy government organization. New artist Akinari Nao delivers a more modern, moe art style than Rando Ayamine's work in GetBackers.


DMP

GARDEN DREAMS
Fumi Yoshinaga
DMP (October 2007)
Shinshokan (Wings, 1999)
16+

A borderline-yaoi love story set in 19th century England in the backdrop of a baron's flower garden.


MEGAMI DX
Various Artists
DMP (October 2007)
Gakken
16+

In Japan, every truly nerdy magazine rack and bookstore contains countless mooks ("magazine books") full of photos of young girls in nighties, swimsuits, school uniforms, etc. And then there's bishojo magazines like Megami ("Goddesses"), which follow the same formula except that it's all full-color pin-up drawings and posters of female anime and video game characters. Megami DX, aka Megami Deluxe, is a biannual "only the good parts" spin-off of Megami, now available in translation from DMP (although there's not that much which actually requires translation, except for a few articles).


HIDEYUKI KIKUCHI'S VAMPIRE HUNTER D
Hideyuki Kikuchi (original story), Saiko Takaki (art)
DMP (November 2007)
16+

Never before adapted into manga, Hideyuki Kikuchi's Vampire Hunter D novel/anime franchise is finally being "comicalized" (as they say it in Japan) in conjunction with DMP. Although drawn by a Japanese artist, the new manga will be released in America and Europe first. In the post-apocalyptic year 12,090 AD, the wanderer named "D" is the only force who stands between the hapless villagers and the vampiric Nobility.


GO! COMI

KANNA
Takeru Kirishima
Go! Comi (August 2007)
MediaWorks (Dengeki Daioh, 2001-2005)

College-age Sagaki wakes up to discover a mysterious little girl in his bed. Bizarrely enough, Kanna turns out to be his daughter from a parallel dimension. But evil forces from the other dimension have also come into this world, bringing with them terrible danger…


HIKKATSU
Yu Yagami
Go! Comi (September 2007)
MediaWorks (Dengaki Gao!, 2005-2006) +

Yu Yagami's Those Who Hunt Elves fell neatly into the Slayers/Louie the Rune Soldier "funny fantasy" mold, with one difference: it was sometimes actually funny. In Hikkatsu, his even weirder-looking new series, Earth is suffering from a plague of household appliances gone haywire. Only one man can save the world: karate student Shota, who can fix broken appliances with his special "repairing fist"!


LOVE MASTER A
Kyoko Hashimoto
Go! Comi (October 2007)
Akita Shoten (Princess, 2006) +

A dateless girl transforms the student council into a dating service.

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