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Worlds Without End Blog

Contemporary Fantasy Manga 101: Durarara!! Posted at 9:01 AM by Glenn Hough

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Durarara01bIt sounds just like the setup for an old joke. A high school gang leader, the information broker, and a Dullahan all meet up at the Russian sushi place… which is considered neutral territory because nobody messed with Simon. You know, Simon, he’s a 6’4” black Russian who brooks no arguments. Russian mafia connections? Probably, but at least he thinks conflict is not good for the digestion.

It’s got to be a joke, right? Nope. This could actually happen in the wonderfully self-contained world that is Ikebukuro, our stage for Durarara!!

This is what Yen Press says about volume one:

At the invitation of an old school friend, introverted high school student Mikado Ryuugamine, yearning for a life less ordinary, makes his way to Tokyo. His destination: Ikebukuro, a hotbed of madmen living most unusual lives. On his first day there, Mikado encounters a cast of characters so colorful, the rich hues of his rural hometown pale in comparison! And as if the naive stalker chick, the high school senior obsessed with the rather creepy object of his affections, the hikikomori genius doctor, the hedonistic information dealer, the strongest man in all of Ikebukuro weren’t enough…Mikado also chances upon a sight that leaves him rubbing his eyes and scratching his head — the Black Biker, who is black as night from bodysuit to license plate, soundlessly weaving through the streets like a figure out of an urban legend. Who is this “Headless Rider” on the jet-black metal steed!? And why does it seem like Mikado’s already gotten himself neck-deep in the insanity that is the norm in his new home!?

And what a first day it was.

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Horror Manga 101: The Ring Posted at 3:26 PM by Glenn Hough

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ring01If you’re a horror fan, just the title alone should bring to mind the Verbinski film of 2002 or the original Japanese movie Ringu (Ring) from 1998. The original books by Koji Suzuki have circled the globe, capturing the attention of horror fans everywhere. And since this franchise came from Japan, a manga was almost unavoidable. I think the manga can stand alone, so it deserves our attention.

This is what Dark Horse has to say about Volume One:

Journalist Kazayuki Asakawa’s investigation into the sudden deaths of four teenagers leads to an isolated cabin containing a videotape warning of death in seven days unless certain, now missing, instructions are followed.

I’m not a horror movie person, but even I’d heard of the cursed videotape that causes death. Since that’s all I knew, I had no preconceived notions about the plot of the manga.

We start with gossip, rumor, people talking about a weird tape, that kills. This was the kind of rumor that seems to come from nowhere and is everywhere almost instantly. Watch the tape and you’ll die, in seven days. As a reporter, Asakawa, gets curious about this rumor since she knew a teen who died. A bit of digging and it turns out that four teens, all friends, all together seven days ago, all died on the same day, within minutes of each other.

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Fantasy Manga 101: Attack on Titan Posted at 11:45 AM by Glenn Hough

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titan1There must be nothing quite like having a red hot manga. Not since Kubo’s Bleach in 2001 has the manga world been this excited. Hajime Isayama, the mangaka, is rock’en the manga world right now. You can tell from the manga best seller lists here and in Japan. Attack on Titan routinely has multiple issues in the top 20. You know something is hot when an English translation house starts pumping out volumes on a monthly basis to feed the ravenous hunger of the American Otaku and to bring us up to speed on the Japanese release schedule.

This is what Kodansha says about Attack on Titan:

In this post-apocalytpic sci-fi story, humanity has been devastated by the bizarre, giant humanoids known as the Titans. Little is known about where they came from or why they are bent on consuming mankind. Seemingly unintelligent, they have roamed the world for years, killing everyone they see. For the past century, what’s left of man has hidden in a giant, three-walled city. People believe their 100-meter-high walls will protect them from the Titans, but the sudden appearance of an immense Titan is about to change everything.

Let the Carnage begin.

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Vampire Manga 101: Chibi Vampire and Tsukuyomo Moon Phase Posted at 7:25 PM by Glenn Hough

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Karin2Attack of the Mega Cute Vampires – Double Feature. Start!

Our first feature is Chibi Vampire and here’s what Tokyopop said about it.

Karin is a cute little girl who also happens to be a vampire…with a twist. Once a month, she experiences intense bleeding from her nose–we’re talking gushers! In other words, she’s a vamp with blood to spare, so rather than stealing blood from humans she actually gives her blood to them. If done right, this can be an extremely positive experience that benefits the “victim” as much as the vampire. The problem is that Karin never seems to do things right!

Karin’s family, of course, are “normal” vampires. Karin is their precious little ugly duckling of a vampire. Crosses and mirrors don’t phase her. [Groan.] She works at a Chinese restaurant that uses lots of garlic. [Moan.] Karin gives people her blood when she bits, instead of taking theirs. [Doh!] And she can even go out in the daylight. [Shudder.] Karin is just trying to enjoy a peaceful high school life, with a part time job. Karin needs that job since who else is going to pay the electric bill? Her family sees in the dark far better than she does. But the blood, her blood, gets in the way. Not only does that time of the month (yeah, I know, only a female mangaka can get away with that) intrudes on her life but her blood seems to act up when she’s around the new transfer student, handsome but poor Kenta Usui. What is going on? Gusher!

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SF Manga 101: Eden – It’s an Endless World Posted at 3:45 AM by Glenn Hough

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eden1In an earlier blog, I mentioned that it was my intention to peruse the endless manga bookshelves to find the best SF and bring it to your attention. And by doing this, hopefully some quality SF manga would earn places right next to their top level USA SF counterparts.

To my own chagrin, I’ve discovered I didn’t need to look any further than my own bookshelves for this title. For a variety of reasons, none of which are any good, Eden made it’s way onto my shelf, but not onto my reading pile. That has changed. Eden is a manga we should pay attention to.

This is what Dark Horse has to say about the first volumes of Eden: It’s an Endless World.

Eden Volume One is both a brilliant love song to the post-apocalyptic survival genre and the beginning of a deep exploration on man’s role in the natural order. In the near future, a large portion of humanity is wiped out by a brutal, new virus that hardens the skin while dissolving internal organs. Those who aren’t immune are either severely crippled or allowed to live with cybernetically enhanced bodies. Taking advantage of a world in chaos, a paramilitary force known as the Propater topples the United Nations and seeks world domination. Elia, a young survivor searching for his mother, travels towards the Andes Mountains with an artificially intelligent combat robot. When he encounters a group of anti-Propater freedom fighters, a maelstrom of unique characters unfolds. Graphic, cyberpunk, and philosophical, Eden is a place where endearing heroes face a constant struggle for survival and violent surprises wait around every corner!

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Horror Manga 101: Another Posted at 8:20 AM by Glenn Hough

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another01I must say up front that delving into the Horror manga genre is very new to me. I’ve simply never paid any attention. But since I’m doing these blogs for WWEnd and the site covers SF, Fantasy, and Horror, I feel that I must expand my own horizons.

And I’m very glad that I’ve done so.

Here is what Yen Press has to say about Another:

In the spring of 1998, Koichi Sakakibara transfers into Class 3-3 at Yomiyama North Middle School. But little does he know…his new class has a horrible secret. When he takes his seat in class for the first day of school, Koichi is unsettled by his fearful classmates. Despite this atmosphere and warnings from fellow students, Koichi is drawn to the beautiful, distant Mei Misaki, another classmate. But the closer he tries to get to her, the more mysterious she and their class become. And when a fellow student dies a disturbing death—the first of a long chain of deaths—Koichi seeks to learn the truth behind the curse of Class 3-3. But can he get answers before the curse kills him?

Right from the start line we have some horror standards: young people and young people dying. These are interacting with manga standards: young people and a school setting. So the plot equation looks like this: young people, plus a school setting, plus a curse, plus secrets, equals lots of people dying.

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Horror Manga 101: Uzumaki – the Spiral Posted at 9:48 PM by Glenn Hough

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Uzumaki 1Can the simple shape of a spiral be cause for alarm? Can it be a sign of a curse? A manifestation of a haunting? Or is it a gateway signature to something else entirely? These are the lingering questions that draw us, hypnotically, like the swirling lines of the spiral itself, every deeper into the mystery that is Uzumaki.

Here is what VIZ says about Uzumaki:

Kurôzu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It manifests itself in everything from seashells and whirlpools in water to the spiral marks on people’s bodies, the insane obsessions of Shuichi’s father and the voice from the cochlea in our inner ear. As the madness spreads, the inhabitants of Kurôzu-cho are pulled ever deeper into a whirlpool from which there is no return!

Uzumaki: The Spiral.

I’d heard that this was a manga to pay attention to. How right that advice is.

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Contemporary Fantasy Manga 101: Bleach Posted at 12:10 PM by Glenn Hough

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Glenn Hough (gallyangel) is a nonpracticing futurist, an anime and manga otaku, and is almost obsessive about finishing several of the lists tracked on WWEnd. In this series on Fantasy Manga Glenn will provide an overview of the medium and the place of fantasy within it.


bleach07To say that Bleach is a popular Manga here, in Japan, and around the world is to understate the obvious. Bleach is a Pop cultural icon of the worldwide manga movement.

Tite Kubo, as a mangaka, is prolific. Bleach debuted in August of 2001. As of this writing, chapter 573 is due out this week. That’s about 63 takubon worth of material. That’s quite the pace for a weekly series since I’m sure he did have some time off during the last ten plus years. Bleach has probably made Kubo a Billionaire many times over. (A billion Yen. The quick and dirty conversion for Yen to Dollars is to move the decimal two places to the left so ¥1,000,000,000 equals $10,000,000. One Yen is like one Cent.)

This is what VIZ says about Bleach, Vol. 1:

Strawberry and the Soul Reapers

Ichigo Kurosaki has always been able to see ghosts, but this ability doesn’t change his life nearly as much as his close encounter with Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper and member of the mysterious Soul Society. While fighting a Hollow, an evil spirit that preys on humans who display psychic energy, Rukia attempts to lend Ichigo some of her powers so that he can save his family; but much to her surprise, Ichigo absorbs every last drop of her energy. Now a full-fledged Soul Reaper himself, Ichigo quickly learns that the world he inhabits is one full of dangerous spirits and, along with Rukia–who is slowly regaining her powers–it’s Ichigo’s job to protect the innocent from Hollows and help the spirits themselves find peace.

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Contemporary Fantasy Manga 101: Oh My Goddess! Posted at 9:16 AM by Glenn Hough

gallyangel

Glenn Hough (gallyangel) is a nonpracticing futurist, an anime and manga otaku, and is almost obsessive about finishing several of the lists tracked on WWEnd. In this series on Fantasy Manga Glenn will provide an overview of the medium and the place of fantasy within it.


OMG01The manga which has the record for longest continuously running manga in the USA is, (drum role please)…A romantic comedy!

Oh My Goddess! premiered in the USA in August of 1994 and 46 takubon later is still going. It’s been going on even longer than Blade of the Immortal. Blade has ended it’s run in Japan. The saga of Keiichi and Belldandy has not, so we will see a 20th year mark for USA publication next year.

We’ve all heard of star crossed lovers before, but this is ridiculous.

Dark Horse has this to say about the first Volume:

Alone in his dorm on a Saturday night, Nekomi Tech’s Keiichi Morisato dials a wrong number that will change his life forever – reaching the Goddess Technical Help Line. Granted one wish by the charming young goddess Belldandy – a wish for anything in the world – Keiichi wishes she would stay with him always! Complications are bound to ensue from this; the immediate first being the new couple getting tossed out of the dorm – it’s males only! As the hapless student and his mysterious “foreign beauty” ride around looking for a new place to stay – risking the different dangers of seeking shelter with an otaku convinced Belldandy is an imaginary woman, and a Zen priest convinced she’s a sinister witch – Keiichi’s still got his classes on Monday morning! How is his new “exchange student” companion going to be received on the N.I.T. campus? A little too well for normal life to ever return…

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Fantasy Manga 101: Claymore Posted at 1:33 PM by Glenn Hough

gallyangel

Glenn Hough (gallyangel) is a nonpracticing futurist, an anime and manga otaku, and is almost obsessive about finishing several of the lists tracked on WWEnd. In this series on Fantasy Manga Glenn will provide an overview of the medium and the place of fantasy within it.


Claymore01Back in the introduction blog, I said that the usual order of things was for a manga to get an anime adaptation and not the other way around. This has a gatekeeper effect, promoting what is deemed the best manga. (Best in this case does mean things like what sells the best and what can generate the most money from the anime and from the merchandizing.) But it still means that high quality manga out of each new crop is recognized.

Paradoxically, I’d say that 90% of the time, I will see the anime first and then go back to the manga. So this gatekeeper effect is key to finding new manga. It makes the flood far more manageable. With Claymore, I saw the anime
first and then went back for the manga.

And to my chagrin forgot about it.

Fast forward three or four years and I rediscovered both. I’d originally read what was available of the manga online. This time I bought the series and regot the anime. I am intensely hooked. My opinion went from “it’s ok” to “my god, what was I thinking, not getting this, not paying more attention to this”. I’m so glad I went back for a second look.

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