A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{December 31, 2013}   Comics and manga of December

Smoke AshTPAozora Yell, volume 5 (French) by Kazune Kawahara

  • Just as Tsubasa is learning to deal with her heartbreak, she is faced with a new dilemma: one of her band mates is injured and has asked her not to say anything so that she may continue to compete. I love how Kawahara approaches the problem because she doesn’t make it easy. It isn’t something that simple caring and friendship can solve and ultimately  Tsubasa makes the wrong choice and the consequences are severe. By making choices matter, Kawahara takes her manga from a sweet high school tale to something with a bit more substance.

Black Butler, volume 15 by Yana Toboso

  • Ciel has infiltrated a famous English boarding school in order to find out why some of the students are disappearing. But the rules and traditions are more difficult to navigate than he could have ever imagined. Not my favorite arc of the series, I can get boarding school back stabbing else where, but Ciel’s hypocrisy and Sebastian’s snark kept it fresh. I have my suspicions about the answer to the mystery but Toboso has surprised me before.

Bokurano, volume 8 and 9 by Mohiro Kitoh

  • Two more kids have to pilot the Zearth, knowing that it will kill them and knowing that refusing will mean the end of their world. First Kanji who is still struggling with his mother’s suicide and his father’s role in it. Then Kana who knows a secret about her brother and about his mother and wants to resolve before she dies, so that they can be happy. In both cases it ends tragically. Of course. Readin this manga is a bit like watching a train wreck, not because the series is bad but because you know it cannot end well but you are still overcome by a morbid fascination.

Burquette, volume 2 (French) by Francis Desharnais

  • In the first volume of this comic strip, Alberte’s wannabe revolutionary father forced her to wear a burqa to better understand the plight of women in the world. This volume introduces her mother and deals with sexual slavery and forced child labour. Serious subjects for a funny, light series but somehow it works.

Kids on the Slope, volume 4 (French) by Yuki Kodama

  • Broken hearts and misunderstandings start pull the three friends apart. Kaoru really feels the weight of his loneliness and in his pain lashes out at those around him. Though jazz brought them all together, love, friendship and family continue to be very complicated. An absolutely beautiful series that must be read to be properly appreciated.

Lies are a Gentleman’s Manners by Marta Matsuo

  • To the title I say: in that case I don’t want to know any gentlemen. 😛 The manga is about a university professor from a wealthy background who is married and deeply in the closet. He pursues one of his straight students aggressively (and sexually harasses him to be honest), as well as any other good looking young man he meets. We also get a look into his past at his first love. Though Jonathan is rather detestable if you ask me, the story is well written and the art gorgeous. Worth a read.

Master Keaton, volume 4 (French) by Naoki Urasawa

  • This volume deals a lot with issues of prejudice, inequality and war, from the Romani in WWII to the catholics in Ireland. This is a series that continues to surprise and impress me. It is smart and exciting, filled with interesting mysteries, daring escapes and clever resolutions. I can’t wait for volume 5!

No Longer Heroine, volume 3 (French) by Momoko Koda

  • Hatori decides to become the perfect classic shojo heroine in order to win the heart of her childhood sweetheart. Of course, since this requires stealing him from his current girlfriend and her jealous, selfish self keeps peeking through, she isn’t too good a job of it. Koda does a good job of making Hatori deeply flawed without making her detestable. It’s a fun series that defies the conventions of shojo romance. A nice change. 🙂

Pink by Kyoko Okazaki

  • Pink is about Yumi who works in an office by day an as a call girl by night in order to pay to feed her pet crocodile. She meets and starts a relationship with her step-mother’s young lover. I was expecting a clever look at love and capitalism in the modern world but found myself a little disappointed, and I’m not sure why. It is simply not that deep, I suppose, and yet it doesn’t satisfy as a racy read either.

Prince du Tennis, volume 6 to 12 (French) by Takeshi Konomi

  • These 7 volumes take the boys through training and on the way to the national championship. They develop a great deal and learn some new techniques along the way. The long sequence of tennis matches could become dull if not for the quirky characters and Konomi’s sense of humour. It’s good, light fun and Ryoma is such a lovable brat. 🙂

Princess Jellyfish, volume 10 (French) by Akiko Higashimura

  • Though Tsukimi doesn’t quite believe it yet, Kuranosuke’s brother has asked her to marry him and they are now dating… and it’s as awkward as you could imagine from an uptight 30-year-old virgin and painfully shy geek. There are sweet moments, however, and through it all the girls continue to work on their clothing line and Kuranosuke struggles with his own feelings for Tsukimi. One of my favorite shojo series at the moment, it is unique and wonderfully executed.

Silver Diamond, volyme 12 (French) by Shiho Sugiura

  • Rakan continues his trek to the capital, growing plants in the barren wasteland. He has finally accepted his role as saviour. Meanwhile in the capital, there is a terrible power struggle going on and it isn’t clear whether Rakan’s silent twin or underhanded servant will come out on top. A solid fantasy adventure with environmental overtones.

Skip Beat, volume 32 by Yoshiki Nakamura

  • Ren’s cool is starting to crack and he is unusually irritated by the attention other men have been paying to Kyoko. She too is worried about the tension between them. But while Ren’s persona’s seem to be cracking under the stress, Kyoko throws herself into her roles. Will she be able to save him from his past? This seems to be the question posed by the last few volumes and while I lover this series and enjoy every volume I read, I kind of wish Nakamura would pick up the pace a bit.

Slam Dunk, volume 31 by Takehiko Inoue

  • It’s finally over and Inoue has managed to do something I didn’t expect: he gave me an ending that surprised me.Did Shohoku win the game that they’ve been playing for the last 5 volumes or so? Ultimately, Inoue makes that less important than their effort, their team work and their futures. A great ending to a classic basket ball tale.

Slayground by Darwin Cooke

  • This is volume 4 in Cooke’s adaptations of Richard Stark’s Parker series. I haven’t read the first 3 and, to be perfectly honest, I don’t remember ordering it. But my lcs tells me I did so who am I to argue. Parker is a thief and Slayground is about two huge jobs that go horrifically wrong. Cooke uses a three tone style (blue, black and white for the first story and orange, black and white for the second), that I really like, especially in noir stories. Cooke has a habit of narrating what is happening that is totally unnecessary in comics but again, I guess, fits the noir style. Besides there’s more than enough action to make up for it.

Smoke/Ashes by Alex De Campi

  • A beautifully drawn and executed near future British spy thriller starring an albino assassin, a female journalist and a cyborg. This comic was one of the great surprised of the year. It reminded of one of my other favorites, Queen and Country.

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