At the beginning of the year, I posted my 2011 retrospective, hitting on a lot of the major news points of the 2011 year in manga and the publishing business, but I think that my retrospective had a large piece missing from it, that piece being the things that I really loved about 2011. As far as manga goes, there are quite a few things that were released or announced in 2011 that I have wanted for a long time, or found to be extremely wonderful. Today, instead of focusing on the “news” of 2011, let’s focus on the “renews” of manga – the things that renewed my enthusiasm and joy for comics.
1. Drops of God is Licensed and Released in the USA by Vertical Inc.
I have been writing about Drops of God well before its release in the USA. The series has always marveled me because of its wine economy-shifting powers and the way it champions the world of wine in an unpretentious, exuberant, and often fascinating way. Getting to read the first two volumes has been a fantastic ride, and a great reminder of why I love wine and comic books. I am looking forward to the identification of the disciples and the one wine to rule them all – but I am guessing I will be reading quite a while before I see that come to fruition.
2. Wandering Son Makes an English Debut
I have heard praise again and again for Wandering Son, a manga about two young children, a boy and a girl, who identify more with the opposite sex than they do with their own gender. This is a story of growing up, and of being different, and finding the support you need to live the way you want – volume one was one of my favorite manga in 2011, and having just purchased the second volume, I am looking forward to more of the simple slice-of-life that Wandering Son provides so well.
3. JManga Opens, and Actually Has Manga
I know I give JManga a lot of flak. I am a fairly demanding person when it comes to spending money on digital comics, and I don’t think that JManga is at a point right now where the service and selection are at a peak for their platform. They have been publishing 0-2 books per week now for the past few months, and while this is a fine pace, there are plenty of titles on the service that only have their first volume available to purchase.
Still, JManga represents a powerful tool to allow readers to legally purchase translated manga from Japan. If JManga continues to expand, manga that is “essential Japan” or too niche to be picked by a big publisher in the USA will become more and more a part of the offerings of the service. There have been a few great series that JManga has published that do this, and for that reason, I have to commend the folks at JManga for creating and improving their digital service in 2011. I am looking forward to more improvements in 2012.
4. Interacting With the Manga Community
One of the things I tried to focus on more in 2011 was interacting with other bloggers and writers who were talking about manga. I tend to be an internet lurker at heart – I love to sit and read other people’s comments, but I rarely talk about my own thoughts or opinions. That’s something I have slowly tried to change, and I commented more on blogs, spoke more on Twitter, and had the privilege of speaking on the Manga Out Loud Podcast twice in 2011, which was a great way to get to know more of my fellow bloggers. (Thanks to Ed and Johanna for the invitations!)
5. Hosting the Natsume Ono Manga Moveable Feast
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about the Natsume Ono MMF a few months before November of 2011. Having never hosted before, I wasn’t sure of what the requirements would be, and how I would be able to do a good job. Following in the footsteps of some very talented bloggers, I managed to write and host the MMF, and I think that the whole thing was a great success. I feel great about the content we generated in that month, and I am looking forward to the next time I host an MMF.
6. Reading A Bride’s Story for the First Time
I have read quite a few comics since I really started getting into them about 8 years ago – but nothing, not a single book, has swept me into its world like A Bride’s Story. This manga is absolutely fantastic, and I can’t recommend it highly enough to anyone, ANYONE, who likes a good story. It is wonderful. The third volume comes out this year, and I am already impatient for it.
I hope that everyone has had a great start to their new year. Hopefully this is a year of great manga (and a year to possibly get to a convention for me!).