A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{November 4, 2013}   Comics and manga of october

baby-pop,-tome-1-240925-250-400Akissi, volume 1 to 3 (French) by Marguerite Abouet and Mathieu Sapin

  • A series of funny vignettes about a young girl’s life in the Ivory Coast. This series takes place in the same universe as Abouet’s Aya de Yopougon though it is much more lighthearted and aimed at a younger audience. It has the same sort of humour though without the complicated relationships. It is both good fun and a nice exploration of a country many Westerners do not know well.

Baby Pop, volume 1 (French) by Yayoi Ogawa

  • Yayoi Ogawa is one of my favorite mangaka though until now I’ve only owned her works in Japanese (which I can read but not with the full understanding or English or French) and I’ve slowly been collecting her works in French. I’ve previously reviewed Kimi wa Pet but I’m hard pressed to pick a favorite between that series and this one. Young Nagisa is dealing with the death of her mother – who died tragically during her honeymoon – and with the young widower she left behind. The relationship between Nagisa and her odd, but oddly lovable, stepfather is the highlight of the series; though they disagree about everything, comically, a bond of affection slowly grows between them. This is a manga that is both touching and hilarious. Highly recommended.

A Devil and her Love Song, volume 11 by Miyoshi Tomori

  • In order to help Maria, who has lost her beautiful singing voice due to recent trauma, her friends take her to meet her long lost grandparents. Unfortunately the meeting is not all that she hoped; the tragedy surrounding her birth and childhood still haunts them. She also meets the father who caused her mother so much pain and he is not at all what she expected. Though I love this series and Maria’s forthright personality – she is like few shojo heroines I’ve met – this particular volume made me somewhat uncomfortable. I’m not particularly interested in reading of the redemption of a rapist.

Fairy Tale Comics by Extraordinary Cartoonists

  • First Second is always impressing me with the quality of the comics they put out. This collection brings together a group artists and writers to bring fairy tales to comic form. Some of my favorites include Raina Tagelmeier’s take on Rapunzel, in which she saves the prince, Emily Carroll’s beautifully illustrated 12 Dancing Princesses, The Prince and the Tortoise (with the memorable line “I must not deny my fate! This tortoise and I are meant to wed!”) and The Boy who Drew Cats by Luke Pearson. Not all the stories are extraordinary but they’re all good fun and worth a read for all fans of fairy tales.

Heartbroken Chocolatier, volume 5 (French) by Setona Mizushiro

  • Sohta grows closer to his sex-friend Elena and decides to finally bring and end to the one sided infatuation with Saeko that has defined his life since high school. Meanwhile, Saeko tries to hide the misery and violence of her marriage. It is a bitter-sweet manga about the many ways in which love can go wrong. I love the terrible, twisted beauty of Mizushiro’s manga worlds. There’s no one quite like her.

Kids on the Slope, volume 3 (French) by Yuki Kodama

  • This is a beautiful nostalgic story about the 60s in Japan, love, friendship, broken families and jazz. In this volume, the relationship between  Kaoru and Ritsuko is strained by Kaoru’s confession. We also learn about Sentaro’s troubled past. Well worth reading, though I miss the music from the anime adaptation.

Les Nombrils, volume 6: Un été trop mortel! (French) by Delaf & Dubuc

  • When I first saw the exaggeratedly stretched characters, I had my doubts about the series. But I gave it a chance because it is created by 2 quebeckers and is beloved by my library patrons. I found something funny, entertaining and surprisingly deep. It follows shy, wallflower Karine and her two vain and cruel friends who use her to make her to make themselves look better. There is romance, betrayal and friendship and enough twists and turns for a soap. This volume redeems Karine’s friend Vicky who seems all the more cruel for being clever. We learn about her family and her past which go a long way towards explaining her behaviour. She also has a very surprising romance.

Orange Chocolat, volume 6 (French) by Nanpei Yamada

  • Volume 6 finds the body-switching childhood friends at their school sports festival. There are some hijinx but nothing of note. I’m sad to say that while this series is enjoyable, it lacks the charm of Yamada’s previous series “Les Prince du Thé” or even “Skyblue Shore” (unfinished by Tokyopop).

Le pacte des yokai, volume 14 (French) by Yuki Midorikawa (published in English as Natsume’s Book of Friends)

  • Natsume continues to help yokai and bit by bit learns more about the mysterious grandmother from whom he inherited the  sight and the book of friends. This volume doesn’t have an overarching story like some of the previous ones, it is another series of vignettes telling touching and eerie stories that pull us into the world of Japanese mythology and into the sad lonely lives lived by those who see the world different.

Piece, volume 7 (French) by Hinako Ashihara

  • Mizuho approaches a private detective in order to find out more about the deceased Haruka and her mysterious boyfriend. We also finally meet the elder Narumi and learn about the brother’s troubled past from his point of view. I really wonder where this romantic mystery is going. It just keeps getting more complicated with every volume.

Prince du Tennis, volume 3 to 5 (French) by Takeshi Konomi (Published in English as The Prince of Tennis)

  • Ryoma begins his training as a full member of the Seigaku: learning doubles, over coming difficult opponents and playing through an injury. I love Ryoma’s cheeky attitude and the ways in which he shows up those who underestimate him. What a lovable brat. 🙂 Though I admit that part of the pleasure of a new volume of Prince of Tennis is seeing the pictures of Konomi’s cat (who inspired Ryoma’s Echizen). So cute!

Princess Jellyfish, volume 9 (French) by Akiko Higashimura

  • This is currently the manga I’m most excited about getting whenever there’s a new volume. I feel like the quirky, geeky characters and their even quirkier romance were written just for me. In this volume, Tsukimi and Kuranosuke’s elder brother go on their first – very awkward – date and Kuranosuke is not happy about it at all. Meanwhile the otaku girls plan a protest to protect their building. Fun, fun, fun. 🙂

Sawako, volume 16 (French) by Karuho Shiina (Available in English as Kimi ni Todoke)

  • Though Sawako and Kazehaya are finally dating and can spend their first Christmas together. But though they should be perfectly happy, Kazehaya is distant and Sawako fears something might be wrong. But my favorite part of this volume is the budding romance between Kento and Ayane, who is jaded by love and has trouble believing in it. If you love a sweet, innocent High School romance, this is the series for you. I think I skipped volume 15 by accident (>_<) but the story still made perfect sense.

Slam Dunk, volume 30 by Takehiko Inoue

  • The second half of this volume’s long game is winding down and Shohoku is still going strong. It is starting to look as though they might be able to turn it around. But Hanamichi injures his back in what could be a career ending fall. Not that he would let the keep him out of the game. Only 1 more volume to go. I can’t wait to see how it ends!

Wandering Son, volume 5 by Shimura Takako

  • Nitori wishes he were a girl and Takatsuki wants to be a boy but the two friends are now entering middle school and the approach of puberty makes their dreams seem even more impossible. Meanwhile their class is preparing a play in which the girls and boys switch roles. A sweet, respectful manga about growing up transgendered.

Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants by The Oatmeal

  • Though I do not entirely agree for his reasoning for putting underpants on bears, The Oatmeal’s new book is another silly and slightly disturbing success. He touches on many subjects but his reflections on animals and grammar are some of my favorites. If you have not visited his webcomic/blog do so now. Like his previous book How to Tell if you Cat is Trying to Kill You, this one comes with a poster.

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