May’s been a busy month for manga! Tons of neat titles are hitting shelves in the next few weeks, and I’m here to highlight books that have piqued my interest and have me reaching for my wallet. Without further ado, let’s get started!
Star Wars: Lost Stars, Vol. 1
Original Title: STAR WARS／ロスト・スターズ
Author: Claudia Gray (story), Yusaku Komiyama (art)
Date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Yen Press
From the publisher:
The Empire can be seductive, particularly if you’re an aspiring young pilot. Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree both know this very well when they enroll in the Imperial Academy, eager to pursue their dreams. When Thane discovers the darker side of the Empire, though, and defects to the Rebellion, the pair’s lifelong friendship will be put to the ultimate test. Will Thane and Ciena’s relationship—or even they themselves—survive this galactic conflict?
Claudia Gray’s original novel Lost Stars was actually my first foray into the Star Wars extended universe, and after listening to the audiobook, I’ve been craving to read more. Many reviews dubbed the novel version as “Romeo and Juliet in space,” and while the plot does tend to lean on the romantic side, there are intense moments of action and suspense throughout that really mark this as a great addition to the SWU. I’m really curious to see how well the manga version conveys the story of Thane, Ciena, and the rest of the Imperial Cadets. This is definitely on my shopping list the next time I head to Barnes and Noble.
Devilman: The Classic Collection, Vol. 1
Original Title: デビルマン
Author: Go Nagai, Zack Davisson (translator)
Date: May 22, 2018
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
From the publisher: Hordes of demons, once thought entombed forever in the underworld, have now returned to Earth. Evil and corruption begin to seep into our world, as demons seize human hosts. Mankind’s only hope for salvation is to use the demons’ power against them—and only a pure-hearted man like Fudo Akira can do so without losing his humanity. Once little more than a crybaby, Akira now wields the terrible power of a devil, yet holds the innocent soul of a man—Devilman!
It’s finally here. I’ve been screeching about this to anyone who’ll listen since the day it was announced. Devilman is such an iconic, beautifully subversive title that’s been long due for a true North American release. And what a treatment! This hardcover volume collects over 600 pages of the original Devilman manga, with a second equally-hefty volume shipping out later this year. Here’s hoping the Devilman Crybaby hype hasn’t gone cold, because we need people buying this book to support more classic releases in the future.
Golosseum, Vol. 1
Original Title: ゴロセウム
Author: Yasushi Baba, Kevin Gifford (translation)
Date: May 22, 2018
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
From the publisher: Scientists discover a new material that renders people immune to all existing weapons. But these “peacemakers” instead transform world war into a martial-arts free-for-all! Rasputin plots with Russian President Putinov to control the global supply. Opposing them are the unstoppable Axe Bogan under American President Billary Quintone and a slew of other muscular heroes!
What happens when you cross politics with pro-wrestling? Well, you get Golosseum, a bizarre seinen parody manga that lambasts modern-day international relations. Since Golosseum originally ran from 2015 to 2017, its nods to contemporary political affairs are a little dated. (President Billary Quintone, anyone?) But its clean art and wacky premise make up for any political inconsistencies, planned or otherwise. Curious? Check out the free preview over at Kodansha Comics.
Author: Baron Yoshimoto, Ryan Holmberg (translation)
Date: May 23, 2018
Publisher: Retrofit Comics
From the publisher: A collection of some of the best stories by Baron Yoshimoto, one of the seminal Japanese manga artists who helped develop the graphic novel form in the 1960s and 1970s by targeting an older audience with scintillating and exquisitely drawn stories. The stories included are “Eriko’s Happiness”, “High School Brawler Ditty”, “Dirt Bag”, “One Stripper’s Gambling Life”, “Homesick”, and “The Girl and the Black G.I.”.
If you’re not familiar with Baron Yoshimoto’s work, here’s your chance to get acquainted. A gekiga master, Baron Yoshimoto is known for firmly establishing manga as media for young men. (He’s also probably the only man alive who can rock the cowboy look, hat and all.) Yoshimoto’s more mature works, some of which are translated in this release, critique the dark underbelly of 1960s and 70s Japan, covering everything from sex work to gang violence. Get this book, not just for its compelling content, but for its historical value. This is a rare treat.
Original Title: 砂の剣 and マブイ
Author: Susumu Higa, Jocelyne Allen (translation)
Date: May 31, 2018
From the publisher: Okinawa brings together two collections of intertwined stories by the island’s pre-eminent mangaka, Susumu Higa, which reflect on this difficult history and pull together traditional Okinawan spirituality, the modern-day realities of the continuing US military occupation, and the senselessness of the War.
Finally, we round out the end of the month with a special release by Fantagraphics. Susumu Higa, a former university professor, offers a unique glimpse into life on Okinawa, the largest of the Ryukyu Islands situated south of Japan’s mainland. This collection includes Sword of Sand, a look back at Okinawa immediately after World War II, and Mabui, short stories based on the American military presence still felt on the island today. Uncomfortable though the topic may be to some readers, it’s something I believe we all should read with respect, especially given the times we live in.
So, to round it up: this month, we’ve got space battles, demonic possession, roided-up wrestlers, 1970s hardships, and the lingering aftermath of war. It’s quite a mixed bag, but I’m here for it.
What are you looking forward to reading? Let me know in the comments!