Sunday, March 4, 2012

Commentary: Manga Action

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

It's rare for me to go through a magazine and find nothing at all worth writing about, but it does happen occasionally. I've been wanted to get Manga Action for a while, because Crayon Shin-chan used to be serialized in it, and I wanted to write up a review fairly soon. Oddly enough, though, while it's identified in the wiki entry as "Weekly Manga Action", it only comes out on the first and third Tuesdays of every month. 370 yen, 350 pages.

(Rising Sun)

Manga Action. From the name, and the cover photo, it should be obvious that the main focus of this publication is sex. In fact, it easily covers both the "sex and violence" categories that American entertainment is so famous for. Past series have included Monkey Punch's original Lupin III, Lone Wolf and Cub and Ishinomori's 009-1. As mentioned above, Crayon Shin-chan had run in Action, but only up until 2010, when it moved to Manga Town. Action is typified by the scantily-clad female on the cover, plus a 3-4 page photo spread at the front of the magazine. This issue includes a 2'x3' fold-out poster of the model (actress Risa Yoshiki).

(Ekiben Hitoritabi)

But, so much for past glory. The rest of the manga is made up of murders, slice-of-life, military action and bike racing. None of the titles will be recognized by most western fans, and the only artist I've seen before is Shigeyuki Fukumitsu who is repeating his semi-autobiographical story here in yon-koma format. On the whole, the artwork isn't that bad, it's just that none of the stories really pull me in.

(Bar Lemon Heart)

Rising Sun, by Satoshi Fujiwara (ch. 1, with a guy that's going to enter the JSDF)
Baseball World King
Odds GP, by Osamu Ishiwata (bike racing)
Bar Lemon Heart (running since 1987)
My Pure Lady (is anything but)
Shin Shiawase no Jikan (etchi office drama)

Of the group, Rising Sun has some promise, with a thrill-seeking boy being enticed to join the Japanese Self-Defence Force, but so far it's just starting out and there's no story yet. Bar Lemon Heart is worth mentioning since it first started in 1987 and is still on-going. However, the character designs are incredibly simplistic, and the story in this chapter consisted of people sitting at the bar and talking to the bartender. Nothing really earth shattering. On the other hand, Ekiben Hitoritabi takes earth-shattering to heart. Started in 2005, it's a story about a guy that likes traveling around Japan on the trains and eating box lunches (called "eki bentou", or "eki-ben" for short. Hitori tabi = single traveler.) In this issue, the main character visits the areas around Miyagi which had been wiped out by the tsumani last year, and pays tribute to the station shopkeepers that were killed then. It's a pretty somber story, at odds with everything else here.

(The violence part)

Rising Sun may become popular with fan scanilators in the future, because of the promise of more action as the protagonist goes through basic training, but that won't be for a while yet. Otherwise, Manga Action isn't really recommended.

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