Sunday, November 27, 2011

Commentary: Manga Town

(All rights reserved by their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

As I've mentioned before, there are two publication formats when it comes to manga - the "phonebooks" and the glossy cover magazine style. Because of the differences in thickness, convenience stores usually display them differently, with the magazines going into upright racks, and the phonebooks laying flat on table-like shelves. In a way, this makes it easier to see all of the magazine-types at one time because they're closer together, but it also makes it harder to identify individual titles because they overlap each other, So, when I went to Kinokuniya last time, I decided to just grab as many of the magazines as I could and take the ones I haven't already reviewed to get them out of the way. However, when I realized that there were still 6 or so that I hadn't read before, I got kind of depressed. I spent at least 15 minutes looking over the phonebooks trying to pick ones that had good freebies and a Christmas theme. There weren't any that fit the requirement, so I ended up buying 3 magazines anyway.

(Crayon Shin-chan. His mother rips her pants after eating too much junk food, and tries to decide how to lose weight.)

The first of the three is Manga Town. This is one of the magazines that I don't really care for, in that it's largely a collection of yon-koma (4-panel) strips, with no serialized stories. In and of itself, yon-koma is fine in small doses, but having 200 pages of short strips one after the other is just too much for me. On top of which, most of the artwork is either childish or amateurish. The only strip with name recognition is Crayon Shin-chan. Originally, Crayon ran in Weekly Manga Action, but with the death of creator Yoshito Usui (he fell from a mountain cliff while hiking on Sept. 11, 2009), the title was resumed by his staff members in Manga Town (same publisher) starting in 2010.

(Haken Senshi Noriko - Dispatch Soldier Noriko. In the right strip, Noriko's captain asks her partner if the partner is on patrol alone. She answers that no, she's with Noriko. The joke finishes with "the sewers have their dangers, too". In the left strip, a thief gets nabbed by Noriko and thinks that she's unable to take him down so he just runs away. In the last panel, he's completely exhausted, and pleads to have her let him go.)

The new version of Crayon feels kind of derivative, and is joined by "Shin-Men", a parody of Power Rangers-style action teams where the team is made up of 5 versions of Shin-chan. Kind of too much of a good things.

I don't recognize most of the other titles. One, though, "Shonen Ashibe", was turned into a short-lived TV anime back in the 90's when I first came to Japan. The main characteristic of Ashibe is that he always carries a live arctic seal under his arm.

(Shonen Ashibe. The teacher arrives to the classroom to find one of the students trying to bully money from a classmate. She takes the boy home to complain about him, and the mother yells at him to not extort from those in his own class.)

Summary: Unless you're able to read Japanese, and enjoy the short 4-panel gag format, Manga Town is completely ignorable. 320 yen, 220 pages. Monthly.


Birthdays for the Week:
L. Sprague de Camp, 11/27/1907
C.S. Lewis, 11/29/1898
Allan Sherman, 11/30/1924
Jonathan Swift, 11/30/1667
Fujio F. (Doraemon) Fujiko, 12/1/1933

Died this Week:
John Carradine, 11/27/1988
Ada Lovelace, 11/27/1852
Godfrey Cambridge, 11/29/1976
George Harrison, 11/29/2001
Robert ("Avilion") Holdstock, 11/29/2009
Bill (voice of Bullwinkle) Scott, 11/29/1985
Carl Stalling, 11/29/1972
Alister Crowley, 12/1/1947
Dezi ("I Love Lucy") Arnaz, 12/2/1986
Marquis de Sade, 12/2/1814

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