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Weekly Manga Reading List – JManga Edition

Mini-Reviews of What I Read This Week - August 22, 2011


With the arrival of JManga.com on the scene, I immediately dove in to see what was worth reading. When JManga launched in mid-August 2011, there was a lot of titles featured, but there wasn't more than a handful of complete volumes to buy and read. I sampled a few titles, and here's what I found: comics about faithful dogs, train station bentos, a sensitive schoolgirl, a sassy MILF, and a young girl growing up amidst WWII in Japan.

Want more quickie manga reviews as I write 'em? Follow me on Twitter for this, and other bits of manga (and sometimes non-manga) nonsense.

To All Corners of the World Volume 1

To All Corners of the World Volume 1

Author/Artist: Fumiyo Kouno
Original Title: Kono Sekai no Katasumini
Publisher: JManga.com / Futabasha
Read To All Corners of the World Vol. 1 online at JManga.com

While Fumiyo Kouno's To All Corners of the World isn't a sequel to her award-winning story Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms, it does have the same deft touch that makes her work so endearing and memorable.

Suzu is a young girl growing up in pre-war Hiroshima. She loves to draw and is a bit of a daydreamer, but things get real enough when Suzu marries a young man who lives in a nearby town. Kouno uses this ordinary life to illustrate the sacrifices that everyday people made during wartime, and hint that darker days are on the horizon.

Star Protector Dog

Star Protector Dog (Hoshi Mamoru Inu)

Author / Artist: Takashi Murakami
Original Title: Hoshi Mamoru Inu
Publisher: JManga.com / Futabasha
Read Star Protector Dog online at JManga.com

A puppy gets adopted by a family, and things go as they usually do. But time goes by, the family grows apart and falls apart. Soon, the man has only his car, a few possessions and the one family member who has stayed by his side, Happy the dog. Man and dog embark on a bittersweet journey to the end of their days.

Star Protector Dog has a lot going for it: appealing art, slice-of-life charm and a story that is universal. While the translation has its rough spots, Star Protector Dog is a heartfelt story that will resonate with anyone who has ever loved, or been loved by a dog.

Ekiben Hitoritabi Volume 1

Ekiben Hitoritabi Volume 1
© Jun Hayase, Kan Sakurai / FUTABASHA PUBLISHING

Author / Artist: Jun Hayase
Supervised by: Kan Sakurai
Original Title: Ekiben Hitoritabi
Publisher: JManga.com / Futabasha
Read Ekiben Hitoritabi Vol. 1 online at JManga.com

Daisuke Nakahara is a thirty-something man who loves two things: trains and good food. Fortunately, he lives in Japan, where his two passions come together in ekiben, (train station box lunches). Each town's ekiben spotlight seasonal delicacies, and each tasty tidbit tells a story about the region's food and its history.

Ekiben Hitoritabi is an 'only in Japan' delight that's fit for foodies and train buffs alike. Its stories are a bit formulaic, but they're full of fascinating trivia (and mouthwatering food) that made me wish I was in Japan.

Madame Joker Volume 1

Madame Joker Volume 1

Author / Artist: Tomoko Naka
Original Title: Madamu Jokaa
Publisher: JManga.com / Futabasha
Read Madame Joker Vol. 1 online at JManga.com

Rich, pretty, and free-spirited Ranko Gekkouji is a widow who's hardly wasting her days in mourning. When she's not horrifying her mother-in-law by frolicking with her younger boyfriend, or having a fairly lax attitude toward parenting her teen daughter and son, Ranko wields her own brand of justice to the evil, the selfish, the vain, and even the murderers who cross her path.

Madame Joker is entertaining because, well, it's kind of fun to see bad guys get their come-uppance, but its shallow character development makes it mostly a guilty pleasure with little actual substance or depth.

A Kiss on Tearful Cheeks Volume 1

A Kiss on Tearful Cheeks Volume 1
© Tsumugi, Yukie Sasaki / FUTABASHA PUBLISHING

Author: Tsumugi
Artist: Yukie Sasaki
Original Title: Nakigao ni Kiss
Publisher: JManga.com / Futabasha
Read A Kiss on Tearful Cheeks Vol. 1 online at JManga.com

A sensitive and naive teen girl meets a young man who thinks she's absolutely adorable. He's seven years older than her and is her sister's co-worker, but that's not the problem here. As 17-year olds go, Iori cries a LOT, to the point where I thought (and Iori wonders too), "what does her older boyfriend see in her?"

It doesn't help that Yusuke is a generic 'prince' of a boyfriend. He's almost too nice, too understanding and too... blah. With its limp rag heroine, bland boyfriend, and inconsequential plot, this shojo romance has more fizzle than sizzle.

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