Manga Reviews: Back and Vertically Challenged!

5 Centimeters per Second
Story: Makoto Shinkai
Art: Yukiko Seike
Translation: Melissa and Taka Sanaka
Publisher: Vertical

Boy having a kid and updating your website really takes a toll on you.  Anyway after a small break.  Your manga review crew is back! We start off with a book based on one of my favorite anime.  It is based on the movie with the same title by Makoto Shinkai.  I remember watching Voices of a Distant Star and people comparing Shinkai to Miyazaki and his movies to those of Studio Ghibli.  For some reason I seem to be the only to disagree and compare him to Nicholas Sparks.  I always end up crying tears of joy and sadness. 

The story is about Takaki Tohno and his friendship with Akari Shinohara.  It blossoms at an early age when she transfers to his schools.  They bond quickly because of similar interests such as staying inside during recess.  Unfortunately Akari’s family moves again, but they decide to stay in touch through a series of letters.  Through time like most of us do as we get older, the letters get fewer and fewer.  However, we get a wonderful reunion between the two characters, but its short lived as it ends in heartbreak.  For the next decades this really affects the way Tohno lives, as he never got over that pain.   .  Even though women come in and out of his life, he still has sadness to him.  In a way I wish he had ended up with Risa and not Akari, but by the end of the book I felt like this story could really go anywhere. I loved it because of how real this story can be.  There are no spaceships, aliens or demon hunters between these covers; just dreams, heartbreak and love

The novelization is different enough to make you want to relive the story.  Yukiko Seike adds her own levels of imagery and emotions with the characters that changes the story a bit. Her art is really however falls a little short, because I had a hard time keeping up with who is who and in a dramatic series that is very important to me. However as a manga adaptation of one of the most beautifully colored anime out there, she had her job cut out for her from the get go.  She does manage to pull off some stunning visuals with the backgrounds and settings.   It was still a fun title to read with enough of a closure to keep most satisfied, but some wanting more. B+

The Flowers of Evil vol. 2
Story & Art: Shuzo Oshimi
Translator: Paul Starr
Publisher: Vertical

The first thing that caught my attention about this book is that simplistic cover.  Much like the first book which featured a smiling Nakamura this book features Kasuga shrugging away like the hero of the series that he is.  Simple, but so much is said about the character from that picture.  The premise of Flowers is a pretty straight forward tale of breaking out of your shell….and let’s not forget a story about what it really means to be a pervert.   Takao Kasuga is a guy we all knew in school or were in school.  He is your average teenager who is neither a hero nor a villain; Just a regular guy who is getting by and trying to find who he is before adulthood.  He is in love with the class beauty Nanako.  In a moment of impulse Kasuga steals her gym outfit only to be caught by Nakamura, the class bully who is always causing trouble.  Being a troublemaker she sees potential in the not so innocent Kasuga and forms a contract with him. Part of the deal is he has to wear the gym outfit under his clothes on his first date with Nanako.  I love the idea of finding a character like Kasuga in a book.  Oshimi excels in showing expressions of extreme guilt, malice, addiction and insecurities. The endless possibilities of Nakamura are another thing I love about the book.  I have no idea what she’s thinking or what she is going to make Kasuga do next.  I can see this ending two ways.  He either snaps and kills Nakamura or kills himself.  I guess we will find out soon.  An excellent and unexpected read from one of today’s greatest manga publisher.  A

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