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Weekly Manga Reading List - October 29, 2010

Mini-Reviews of What I Read This Week in Manga, Graphic Novels and Books


The books from this week's stack of manga (and more) include two from the incredible (and incredibly under-appreciated in the U.S.) manga master Takehiko Inoue, a new James Patterson manga series, a 'wild' romance, a brick-sized graphic novel memoir and the latest volume of my favorite sports manga evar.

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Vagabond Volume 33

Vagabond Volume 33
VAGABOND © 1998-2010 I.T. Planning, Inc.

Author/Artist: Takehiko Inoue
Japanese Title: Vagabond
Publisher: VIZ Signature/ VIZ Media
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After 12 years and 33 volumes, Miyamoto Musashi's journey from untamed young warrior to a soul-searching swordsman is headed toward its long-awaited climax. The time is drawing near when Musashi will cross swords with the one warrior who will truly challenge his abilities: the deaf sword savant Kojiro Sasaki.

While this fateful encounter on Funajima Island doesn't happen just yet, Inoue is building up to this climatic moment ever-so-deliberately. Inoue's drawings are simply gorgeous and his story is thoughtfully told. The events unfold at a snail's pace, but what an amazing journey it is.

Real Volume 9

Real Volume 9
© 1999 – 2010 I.T. Planning, Inc.

Author/Artist: Takehiko Inoue
Japanese Title: Real
Publisher: VIZ Signature/ VIZ Media
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Now that Nomiya has decided to pursue his dream of playing pro basketball, he opts to check out his competition. While he's dazzled by Anzai, the Tokyo Lightning's star point guard, he learns an important lesson about what separates good athletes from great athletes. Meanwhile, Takahashi meets a paralyzed pro wrestler who shows him that it's not just his body that's holding him back: it's his attitude.

Yet another beautifully-drawn and smartly-told chapter in Inoue's ongoing series about three young basketball players who must overcome physical and emotional challenges to win, both on and off the court.

Daniel X Volume 1

Daniel X Vol. 1
Daniel X © SueJack, Inc., Illustrations © Hachette Book Group

Author: James Patterson, with Michael Ledwidge
Artist: SeungHui Kye
Publisher: Yen Press
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When Daniel was three, he watched in horror as his parents were killed by an alien. Now 15 years old, Daniel X has taken on the family business: he hunts and kills aliens who are hiding on Earth.

Like James Patterson's other young adult novel-turned-manga creation Maximum Ride, Daniel X offers lots of fast-paced thrills with a few gory surprises to keep readers guessing. Patterson's rapid-fire storytelling is great for the ADD-generation, but its various plot threads are hastily woven together with many overly-convenient twists, forgettable characters and mediocre monsters. Decent but disposable.

Eyeshield 21 Volume 33

Eyeshield 21 Vol. 33
© 2002 by Riichiro Inagaki, Yusuke Murata/SHUEISHA Inc.

Author: Riichiro Inagaki
Artist: Yusuke Murata
Japanese Title: Aishīrudo Nijūichi
Publisher: Shonen Jump / VIZ Media
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After months of hard work (and lots of dumb luck), the Devil Bats have made it to the Christmas Bowl, the Super Bowl of Japan's high school football league. But even with Sena's super-speed, Hiruma's cunning wiles and Kurita's wall-of-muscle brawn, the team is hard-pressed to score a single point against Japan's undefeated champs, Teitoku High. Have the Devil Bats finally run out of luck?

Reading Eyeshield 21 requires major suspension of disbelief, but no one does nail-biting cliffhangers like Inagaki and Murata. Addictive and fun, even for non-sports fans.

Wild at Heart Volumes 1, 2 & 3

Wild at Heart Volumes 1, 2 & 3
© Natsumi Ando / KODANSHA

Author / Artist: Natsumi Ando
Japanese Title: Wild Da Mon
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
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Chino's dad is a novelist and an adventurer who has a knack for bringing home strange souvenirs. This time he outdid himself by bringing home Hyo-kun, a wild boy raised by leopards on a remote tropical island. Will love blossom between Chino and this hunky wild child, or will she die of embarrassment first?

This three-in-one collection offers a mix of cute teenage romance with a few kooky curveballs. It's charming enough, but its simple and silly love story will likely only tickle tween readers.

Saving Life Volume 1

Saving Life Vol. 1
© Mario Kaneda / KADOKAWA SHOTEN

Author / Artist: Mario Kaneda
Japanese Title: Saving Life
Publisher: TokyoPop
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Poor little rich boy Haruhiko is living a pauper's life because he wanted to escape from his dad's controlling ways. To make ends meet he's working several part-time jobs, pinching pennies and eating meager meals. This would be tolerable if he didn't have to deal with three buxom beauties: his classmate, his former maid and his hyper-competitive co-worker. One wants to date him, another wants to protect him and the other wants to crush him.

Just another unlucky but good-hearted guy surrounded by panty-flashing cuties in a painfully puerile story. Predictable fanboy pandering that's completely inane.

Alec: The Years Have Pants

Alec: The Years Have Pants Omnibus by Eddie Campell from Top Shelf Productions
© Eddie Campbell

Author / Artist: Eddie Campbell
Publisher: Top Shelf
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Comics creator Eddie Campbell (From Hell) collects several decades of the mostly-true adventures of his youthful alter-ego Alec McGarry, a 20-something Scottish bar-crawler, and Campbell as a "grown-up" husband/father/award-winning/globe-trotting comics creator living in Australia.

This doorstop-sized memoir is full of humorous and keenly-observed anecdotes of day-to-day life, plus a few notable cameos from fellow UK-comics creators and collaborators Neil Gaiman (Sandman) and Alan Moore (Watchmen) added for good measure. A dense but entertaining read, especially for comics creators.

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  5. Manga Weekly Reviews – October 29, 2010 – Short Reviews of Real, Wild at Heart, Eyeshield 21, Vagabond, Saving Life and Daniel X

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