Trawling archives, as you may already know, is one of those things I like to do…so when Shueisha (publishing company for Shonen Jump and a bunch of other magazines) opened up Manga Plus, I knew I was in for some serious reading.
Manga Plus has generally been a positive experience in regards to usage, but that’s only because I’m avoiding all the series licensed by Viz already (which only have the first 3 and last 3 chapters available). However, we’re here to talk manga, so let’s run through some of the series I’ve found through this site:
Summer Time Rendering (by Yasuki Tanaka)
A pure mystery series is extremely rare, since often mystery series have comedy, romance or whatnot attached to them.
Well, that’s true of this as well – the main draws of this are the “shadow sickness”, which causes deadly duplicates of the island’s inhabitants to appear, Ushio’s murder and the typical harem-style fanservice (walking straight into women’s boobs, panty shots…the works). You already know my thoughts on the latter if you’ve seen my first impressions at all – can’t stand the stuff, but obviously if they keep making fanservice then someone must like it. It honestly could be a lot better if it doled out its mysteries slowly and with assurance rather than using thrills for cliffhangers, but maybe that’s a personal preference…
Moon Land (by Sai Yamagishi)
Basically, this manga is a reverse case of Summer Time Rendering – it’s not something that should appeal to me, because it’s a sport manga, but the earnest execution wins it a high E-score…to use the term from the manga itself. I remember noticing Krystallina talking to Karandi about this one, and no, it has nothing to do with the moon landing back in the ’60s – the fact it’s called Moon Land is purely metaphorical, a happy place of protagonist Amahara’s where he can do gymnastics freely.
Sidebar: Amahara’s first name is Mitsuki, which means “full moon” when using a diffrent reading (mangetsu). Add that to the fact the surname Amahara can be taken as a similar thing to amanogawa – the Milky Way – and you can really see the relationship this series has to outer space. Then again, the rival’s name is Sakura Dogase, which doesn’t have any thematic reference to space…
Interestingly, I found myself drawing comparisons between Amahara and Rei from March Comes in like a Lion. Although I haven’t started the manga or the anime for March, the artstyle makes the two look similar visually, even though Rei seems to be known for his emotional turmoil while Amahara is a stoic fellow who can’t read the atmosphere. (Dogase is a tsundere, while we’re at it.)
If I had to fault Moon Land on anything, it would be that while it captures action well, the overall style is somewhat amateurish…but hey, Yamagishi and Moon Land have a professional gymnast on their side (Hisashi Mizutori). What could go wrong…?
Abyss Rage (by Nariaki Narita)
Again, my best comparison is from something I’m only aware of in passing, but this time it’s Baki the Grappler. Between the overly-toned bodies, high-octance fights and prison arc, you might even mistake one for the other…but there are two distinguishing features – Abyss Rage‘s Shinobu is blind and so uses hearing to compensate, plus Shinobu fights for the sake of Mikoto (his Designated Girlfriend) whereas Baki fights for the sake of his father.
Notably, this series has ebbs and flows in its artstyle, sometimes looking more like the original version of One Punch Man than it really should be (in all the worst ways possible). In more positive words though, once it gets going it starts to feel less like a copy of Baki and more like Golden Kamuy in how depraved its bad guys can get. The good guy is still a pretty bad guy in that he’s bad-ass…but because I think that’s a terrible enough joke, let’s cut me off there.
Notably, anything that hasn’t already been taken by Viz is taken by Media Do, which I’ve never had experience with prior to this…in particular, I’ve noticed Abyss Rage‘s typesetter sometimes doesn’t fix typoes or edit over big flashy speech bubbles, but rather puts similar English font around the Japanese. This is a bit of an interesting move, because after reading a stack of manga, you get used to the translation company’s (or the translator’s) “house style”.
So, have you looked at Manga Plus? Do you think it’s something that’ll change the manga industry or do you think a system like that will send Shueisha – or possibly even print manga – to its doom?