27 May 2012

No Historie or Vinland Saga

Just letting you guys know that there'll be no Historie or Vinland Saga this month. So don't tear out your face waiting for something that won't come.

18 May 2012

Goodnight Punpun Volume 10

Done. Once again, I thank all the anonymous who participated in the threads. It was great fun and I only wish I translated other manga that was as popular as Punpun for it to be feasible to create those threads.

PS. I will be redoing Punpun v2-5, as I'm really starting to cringe at some of the shit I did back then.

Goodnight Punpun v10:   Mediafire

13 May 2012

Some Thoughts About Good Manga 2

Since some of you guys said you missed reading my blog posts, I thought I'd try continue the "Some Thoughts About Good Manga" that I intended to turn into a regular series of posts all the way back when I still had that fluffypress site. In any case, the first of two comics I want to talk about today is Kingdom, which I recently read since I heard it was getting an anime adaptation this summer. I'll do my best to avoid mentioning any critical spoilers.
Kingdom is the first full-length serialized manga by Yasu Hirasawa. He's one of those success stories in the game of follow-your-dreams, as he worked as a systems engineer after graduating university only to say fuck it, I'll give this manga-career a shot. 9 magazine editors told him his stuff was pretty bad, but 3 found it acceptable and some time later, he got hired by Weekly Young Jump.

Like his other attempts for a serialization early on his career, Kingdom takes place in ancient China. To be specific, it's the latter years of the Warring States period, which is always a great source of interesting stories. Then again, considering it's probably the most commonly depicted period after the Three Kingdoms era, I'd rather see a story from the Age of Fragmentation instead. Plus then, the cataphract depictions would make a lot more sense but I digress. The plot details the rise of both Xin (most likely based on Li Xin), a former slave, and the Qin Emperor Yingzheng, better known as Qin Shi Huang, so as you might expect, it's full of factional struggles, intrigues, and the like. And then there's the warfare. Whoo boy. I came in expecting a more realistic depiction of warfare from a mangaka who professes to be an avid fan of Chinese history. Was I ever wrong. It's not exactly Dynasty Warriors-level of fighting enemies while running down a waterfall, but it's close with one-man armies, female super-warriors, and other things that just make you scream plot-armour. Enemy infantry in a phalanx formation? No problem, a head-on cavalry charge should take care of that, right? To be fair, there are other aspects which are more realistic like battle formations and flanking maneuvers, but it's sort of cheapened by the more over-the-top elements.

So why do I even like this manga to the point where I've already read over 20 volumes of it? Well, other than the fact that I'm a sucker for ancient China, I kept reading because unlike a lot of historical manga told from the perspective of the key players, Kingdom initially offers the perspective of a low-ranking peasant conscript, aka. arrow fodder. Scenes with Xin and his 5-man unit (the smallest unit of Qin military organization) frantically trying to survive a cavalry or chariot charge is great fun to read through. There's also the fact that the odds always seem stacked waaaaay too high against for both Xin and Ying Zheng, and it's hard to help myself from turning the page to see how the hell they're going to manage to pull themselves out of their current dilemma. Seriously, the latest development in this manga is all kinds of "Oh shit, they're completely fucked now." So despite some shortcomings and cliches that you might see in your typical action-shonen manga, Kingdom manages to come across as an entertaining-read. I have my doubts that the anime adaptation by Studio Pierrot will be any good, but hopefully it won't be too bad and who knows, it might even encourage some scanlation group to pick this manga back up.
The second story I want to talk about in this post is Epileptic (L'Ascension du haut mal). Yeah, I know it's not a manga but to be honest, I never really differentiated between comic books/graphic novels/manga. The author/artist for this is David Beauchard, a French cartoonist famous not just for his works, but also for co-founding L'Association, a well-known publishing house in the Franco-Belgian comics industry. I won't say any more about L'Association, because I'll only come across as a name-dropping faggot to someone actually knowledgeable about Franco-Belgian or European comics in general. Nor am I going to give a background on Beauchard, because that's what Epileptic does as an autobiography. I say autobiography, but Epileptic's a lot more than a literal telling of a person's life, which is reflected in both the art and the story.
No dissociation of the visual and narrative elements here, no siree. So much of what makes comics entertaining has to do with this balance of these two elements. Often at times, I find that people relatively new to comics focus too much on the literal story/words and completely miss out on the whole experience. It's the same thing in movies or animation, really. No, you cannot create a good atmosphere in film without the appropriate camera angle/movement. No, you cannot have good characterization in anime without expressive character animation.

Epileptic is chock-full of these great visual metaphors and symbols to complement to its story. Seriously, just look at the picture above of Beauchard's epileptic brother being carried away by an uncaring police, all the while watched by hysterical bystanders lacking in understanding. Absolutely brilliant. Now the story's about Beauchard and his family's struggle against epilepsy, and there's a lot of social commentary sprinkled here and there but at its heart, Epileptic is a tale of how the author's personal struggle with this "High Evil" has allowed him to grow as a person and better understand his own self. I won't say any more, because you really have to experience it with the art for the full impact. The point is, if you like stories about character growth and expressive art, you're doing yourself a big disfavour by not checking out this comic book. Now if only more of his stuff were translated into English...

Franken Fran v8 Extra

Well, this is it. The last Franken Fran chapter we'll ever ever see. Then again, it's always possible Kigitsu could do a oneshot or a Fran cameo in one of his future manga like he did in Helen ESP. His comments are interesting as usual, and you can see he really really really liked the Sentinel chapters. I'd have like to see him put more Nazi references for the Blood Type chapter like he was originally thinking of doing but oh well. Franken Fran is a comedy, after all. Much thanks to Amuro, who came back to help me out for this final Fran release.

Franken Fran v8:   Mediafire
Franken Fran v8 Extra:   Mediafire

10 May 2012

Heads-up on Punpun and Fran

Not to make it harder to wait or anything, but since a lot of people are quite anxious for the new Punpun volume, I'm just letting you guys know that I do have the scans now, thanks to my generous raw-provider. Unfortunately, due to other priorities, I won't be working on it until next weekend. On the bright side, you can expect to see the volume 8 extras for Franken Fran this Saturday. That's all the news I have for now. Hope you guys look forward to seeing some SERIOUS SHIT next weekend, as my plan is to get the entire volume done then.