Another anime season swiftly approaches… and like last season, I’ve coincidentally ended up with five new manga series on my shelf. So I decided to post about them again, this time with a slightly less confusing post title. Whether this becomes a regular thing every three months or not depends entirely on my bank balance, but with my birthday coming up before the Autumn season and Christmas just before Winter, with any luck I won’t have to worry too much about that. 😛
The majority of these titles I picked up by complete chance, because someone was selling them for much cheaper than I’d be able to buy elsewhere. If I sold them all for their usual online prices, I’d probably make at least five times what I paid. Which made me seriously consider buying and selling manga for a living… I think the major flaw in that plan is the fact I’m such a hoarder I don’t think I could bring myself to sell anything!
And so, here’s what I’ve been reading:
Status: 3 of 3 volumes read.
Why I picked it up: A friend sold me all three volumes for £10. Each individual volume sells for about £10 on Amazon. WIN. But while I’d pick up almost any series with that sort of discount, it just so happens I was already a fan of the OVA. Now, if only I could find a cheap copy of the sequel, Emulators…
Presentation: My first manga from CPM! Have to say I was impressed overall, but the cover art seemed to get less impressive with each volume… Volume 3 hardly screams ‘come on, buy me!’, does it? 😕 They’re slightly longer than my Tokyopop volumes, making them jut out a bit on my bookshelves, but that’s not really an issue. 😛
Content: Exactly the same as the OVA up until part way through volume 2 – great stuff, but it was the new material that wasn’t covered by the OVA that I looked forward to. Sadly, I have to admit I didn’t enjoy the second half as much as the first, and found the ending in particular to be a bit lackluster. A good series on the whole, though. 🙂
Overall Thoughts: Would recommend, especially to American readers as I notice the series is much cheaper over there!
Status: 1 of 1 volumes read.
Why I picked it up: The Book Depository was offering a 10% discount on all purchases, and while I didn’t have much money at the time, I’m a sucker for special offers. So I looked for a cheap, one volume long manga, so that I wouldn’t feel obliged to buy a whole series. Heaven’s Will fit all my criteria, and also promised ‘a friendly, cross-dressing young exorcist’ – what’s not to like about that synopsis!
Presentation: My first Shojo Beat manga! But I’ve seen plenty on the shelves in book stores over the years… and they all look pretty much the same from the side on. Nice cover art on the front, though!
Content: Disappointing. I assumed that the story would have been intended to be a single volume long from the start, but that doesn’t seem to be the case – a translated author’s note before the final chapter tells of the manga-ka’s sadness at having to bring the series to an abrupt end, before the characters’ relationships could even properly begin (the reason why it was dropped isn’t specified). I felt the setting and characters had potential, but there simply wasn’t time for any meaningful development.
Overall Thoughts: I’ve read worse, but wouldn’t recommend highly.
Status: 8 of 8 volumes read.
Why I picked it up: As with Alien Nine, I was already familiar with Outlanders having watched the OVA… the difference is, I really didn’t like the animated version. Looking back, maybe it was intended for existing fans of the manga, as there’s no way you can do an 8 volume series justice with a 48 minute OVA. Maybe I’ll rewatch it, see whether I can appreciate it more now. Anyway, despite this dislike, when the whole series was up for sale on ebay for £33, I could hardly refuse. Again, as with Alien Nine, some volumes sell for that much individually on Amazon, unless you’re willing to accept a battered ex-library copy. The ones I’ve got are almost like new!
Presentation: These volumes are BIG, towering over the rest of my collection by a good 2-3 inches. They actually wouldn’t fit on any of my shelves, which were bought/built with regular manga volume sizes in mind, so I’ve got them standing up alongside my figurines instead. Also, they don’t look like manga on the outside. The image of Kahm (a major character) I chose for this post is from one of the old individual issues like those in my first photo – the covers of the 8 volumes released by Dark Horse show pictures of the series’ warships, drawn by a western artist to appeal to western tastes (because half naked horned alien girls don’t already do a good enough job of that :razz:). Of course, the contents are flipped to read like a western comic as well.
Content: Part sci-fi/space opera and part romantic comedy, Outlanders manages to do both well on the whole. There were a few parts where the pacing was a little off, where parts of the plot felt rushed for some reason, and characters’ personalities seemed to change with every chapter, but it was very fun. Also, it was the manga-ka (Johji Manabe)’s first work to get serialized, so I can easily forgive these flaws.
Overall Thoughts: If you can find this series cheaply, it’s definitely worth a go. Just don’t watch the anime first!
Status: 4 of 4 volumes read.
Why I picked it up: It came up as a suggestion on Amazon shortly after I added Alien Nine to the list of manga I owned (I always do this to improve the site’s recommendations). The cover for the English version, again very different to the original Japanese used in my thumbnail, stood out so much that I virtually bought it on the spot with only a casual glance at the synopsis. A positive case of judging the book by its cover!
Presentation: Well, you already know my thoughts on the cover. What surprised me more than anything when volume 1 arrived in the post was its size. These volumes are small. We’re only talking 1 cm or so smaller than standard Tokyopop volumes, so unlike Outlanders I can put them on my shelves with the rest easily enough, but they do stick out.
Content: Unsurprisingly, the basic premise was very similar to that of Alien Nine – an extra-terrestrial life form fuses with a school girl against her will, and drags her into battle against another alien. Both are very dark, despite the smiley character designs. Aside from that, the two stories are pretty different, but if you liked one you’ll almost certainly like the other.
Overall Thoughts: Not quite as good as Alien Nine in my opinion, but it was cheap as the volumes are quite short. Worth the money, I’d say.
Status: 1 of 6 volumes read; first three owned.
Why I picked it up: You already know the story by now. Volume 3 sells for £64 pre-owned on Amazon. The first three volumes came up for sale on ebay for £30, still shrink wrapped. I said I should do this for a living! As for volumes 4 to 6… I’ll worry about those later.
Presentation: My first CMX manga! And you guessed it – a whole 1 cm taller than most of the rest of my collection. Over the past three months I’ve certainly learnt a lot about the different sizes of manga out there! Great cover art, and the first few pages are in colour which is always a nice bonus.
Content: The covers have been slapped with an ‘Explicit Content’ sticker to go with their shrink wrapping, but (based on the single volume I’ve read at least) the series isn’t that bad. A few severed fingers flying about and one mention of the word ‘rape’, it’s hardly Ikkitousen at this stage. 😛 Aside from that, the thing that stood out most was the use of old-sounding English words, since the series is set in medieval times. It was somehow charming, seeing the characters ‘trouncing brigands’. 😛
Overall Thoughts: As I’ve only just started it I can’t really recommend it either way, but one thing’s for certain: this series is rare. If you see a volume going cheap, it may prove to be a good investment!
Well this post reads like an ‘Overlooked & Underrated – Manga edition’… I just can’t seem to do mainstream!