Sporadic Sequential
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Confessions of a Bleacholohic

As part of their outreach/rehabilitation program for lapsed bloggers, the fine folks over at Robot 6 invited me to participate in their "What Are You Reading?" feature this week. Luckily, Chris and crew caught me on a good week where I'd actually read a bunch of comics. In fact, I actually left out some of the books I'd read because I didn't want to drag the column out too long (and I still ended up being the most long-winded of the bunch). So here are some quick thoughts on other stuff I've read recently:

20th Century Boys volumes 2 & 3: I'm really digging this odd series by manga master Naoki Urasawa. I honestly have no idea where the story is going to go and I love that "anything could happen" sense of uncertainty. Although I'm enjoying it primarily on a visceral level, I'm also finding the question of how our childhoods inform and influence our adult selves more thought-provoking than I would have first guessed. And is it just me or do the scenes with the Friend and his brainwashed cult give anyone else literal goosebumps?

Flower of Life 4: I probably would have gotten more out of this series finale if I'd gone back and re-read the earlier volumes first, but I still really enjoyed this volume. I couldn't remember what was going on with a lot of the side characters (or even who some of them were) but I loved the directions manga-ka Fumi Yoshinaga took the main characters in. Oh, Majima, I will always admire the purity of your otakuness. I loved seeing the expanded details of Harutaro's family, especially the introduction of the manly Mrs. Hanazono. And I loved the way Yoshinaga included coming-of-age clich├ęs into the story ("At that moment, I knew we'd probably never create another manga together again.") only to blast them to smithereens a couple pages later ("Of course I want to do another manga...it'd be a waste to give up now!"). Great, great stuff, and the whole series is highly recommended.

Division Chief Kosaku Shima volumes 1-5: Thanks to the generosity of superstar manga blogger Deb Aoki, I was able to read the full set of all five Kodansha Bilingual Comics editions of Division Chief Kosaku Shima and, man, they are everything I ever dreamed they would be and more. These salaryman business manga are like pure manga crack for fans who enjoy vintage/classic manga such as Crying Freeman and Oishinbo. These books have everything: Sex, sex, and more sex. Business intrigue and political maneuvering. Extended (hoo-boy, do I mean extended!) sequences on the intricacies of the wine trade. All this plus bilingual text! The only bad thing about these five books is that they leave me wanting more! C'mon, Kodansha! When are you going to set up shop in the U.S. and start publishing this whole crazy series (plus sequels and prequels) from the beginning? I can't stand it! I want more Shima!!! (Eep! I just realized I'm acting like Shima's sex-starved secretary Chizuru. What is it about salaryman Shima that brings out such insatiable lust in all who meet him?)

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