27 August 2016

Some Thoughts on Books I read in 2016 - Part 1

Literally me as I write this post
With the year heading towards its final season, I think it's time for me to collect my thoughts on the books I've been reading this year so I don't completely forget what it is I actually learned from them. This will be part 1 of 4 (maybe 5?) series of posts about my thoughts on books of 2016. As these posts are getting longer and longer, I'm starting to think simply doing smaller chunks regular history/politics posts would be better.

Historie Update

Chapter 97 is out. Good chapter. Will be interesting to see how Eumenes' new determination will play out during and after Philip's approaching demise.

Important note by Iwaaki that he'll be taking a brief break to do his usual art fix-ups for v10 release. So we probably won't see the next chapter until either late this year, or start of next year. I will be putting out v10 once I see any tank scans for that pop up on the internet though.

Historie c97:   Sendspace

22 August 2016

Yakeppachi no Maria v1 (complete)

And this is the second (and probably last) Tezuka manga that Happyscans and I will do. Even among Tezuka's many works, this one stands out as one of his weirder works for its content. It was serialized in 1970 when people were discussing if sex-education in schools needed a reform and when delinquent/battle academy-centered shonen stories were very poular. But more importantly, it was also the time when Nagai Go's Harenchi Gakuen was also running and ruffling a ton of feathers. Adults across Japan were seriously debating if these crude, disposable piece of entertainment known as "manga" should really be allowed to depict sex and violence. There was a sizable movement calling for the banishment of books posing "harmful influence" for Japanese youths. Obviously, manga like Harenchi Gakuen were a prime target but even Tezuka's Tetsuwan Atom(!) was labelled harmful by some of these people. It seems ridiculous to us today, but even the kissing scene in Tezuka's Apollo no Uta provoked criticism from the PTA, and some of Tezuka's manga were burned in public book burnings by this social-movement, many of whose members likely thought that all manga were better off eradicated.

In this chaotic time for the manga world under attack when many new artists deliberately sought to break even more taboos to smugly annoy the uptight conservatives, Tezuka, being the father of manga, probably felt trapped between two sides. As an artist, he too, likely wanted to explore new boundaries without being restrained, but as part of the older generation, he probably felt more hesitant about breaking them than the youngsters. Moreover, his Mushi Productions was veering towards bankruptcy and that certainly must have added additional stress. It was this "desperation" that he felt at this time that allowed him to channel that era's zeitgeist and draw "Yakeppachi no Maria," whose main character is literally nicknamed "desperation (Yakeppachi)." In the end, like Alabaster (which I also translated), Tezuka has come to regard this manga as a rubbish work. In my opinion, however, I think it's an enjoyable quirky work (only 2 volumes long), and given its historical context and what it represented to Tezuka's career, deserves to be translated.

Yakeppachi no Maria v01:   Mega
Yakeppachi no Maria c06:   Mega

15 August 2016

Wombs v1 (complete)

Chapter 8 is done and with it, volume 1, as well. I made a ton of typos in a fair number of minor translation errors in the previous chapter releases, so I fixed them all for the batch volume release. I hope people are enjoying this unusual series. Shirai Yumiko does a good job at very gradual world-building, as opposed to heavy info dumps, so that readers will know just enough to understand the events of each chapter but still have enough questions so that they'll keep reading. If only she could improve her character art, she could become a mangaka to closely follow for many years to come.

Wombs v1:   Mega (fixed tons of errors present in chapter releases)
Wombs c08:   Mega

13 August 2016

Planet of Sutakola v1

KATOU SHINKICHI IS BACK! Actually, this is a belated remark, considering he spent the past 9 years working on Planet of Sutakola, which just wrapped up in 2015 with its 5th volume, but it's still worth celebrating since Katou Shinkichi is very sparse with his manga output. As a big fan of him, I've been waiting for ages to read this, so I'm doubly excited to start translating it, thanks to Habanero scans providing me with raws and Kennit with cleaning/typesetting. The first volume is merely the opening act to this SF-fantasy tale, so it brings up a lot of questions that'll only be answered in the subsequent volumes, which is when the plot will really begin to take shape. I'll release v2 sometime this winter.
But really, Katou's artwork is so superb that even if you can't follow the story, the manga's still a joy to look at. As a mangaka who started drawing manga in a simple and deformed artstyle, Katou's one of those few artists that knows when to be detailed and when to be simple, leading to an art style that's not trying to be some bland attempt at realism nor a cookie-cutter manga aesthetic.

In other news, I'll be starting up translations for Kaneko Atsushi's Soil this September for those of you who've been dying for years to see how that mystery wraps up. Finally the frogs won't be the only one who can read the ending.

Planet of Sutakola v01:   Mega