Sunday, June 10, 2012

Commentary: Comic Birz

Again, it's sometimes difficult to tell what the target audience is for certain magazines, even after reading the stories inside.

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

Monthly Comic Birz (Komikku Baazu), 90 pages, 590 yen.
The wiki entry states that Birz is a seinen publication, meaning that the target is college-aged men, but the majority of the titles have a shojo feel to them.  So, I guess maybe there's an attempt here to appeal to the cross-over market.

I do have to admit that I wasn't really paying attention when I got this one.  I mean, when I go to to Book Off to pick up cheap used manga, I generally gravitate towards the Birz shelves to see if anything has come in recently, but it wasn't until I got to specific stories that I realized that "hey, this is Birz, of course this one would be in here".  So, yes, there is one title I try actively to read, and a second that has shown up a few times on Manga Fox that I've kept my eye on.  Beyond that, I'm unfamiliar with the rest of the titles in this issue.  Although, there are a few past titles that you may have heard of: Category: Freaks, Drug-On and Rosen Maiden.

(Futago Samurai)

The current batch of stories fall in the horror, fantasy, street fighting and school life genres. The artwork is a mixed bag, with some of the manga looking really ugly or crudely drawn, and others looking nice, clean and crisp.  While there's not that much reader service, there is a bit of frontal nudity and implied sex.  At worst, Birz would get an R rating in the U.S., but most of the stories fall in the PG-13 range.

(Sanada Heart Blade)

The more notable titles are:

Fukashigi Triangle, high school boy in the exorcist club gets possessed by a beautiful girl ghost.

Giga Tokyo Toy Box, sequel to the console game-based manga Tokyo Toy Box.

Futago Samurai, there's nothing on this one in English yet, but the current chapter (#13) is understated, with a woodblock feel, and fairly amusing, about a businessman that goes to the house of a woman that needs to sign a contract for him, but encounters her two young children instead.  The daughter is well meaning, but her idea of making tea for visitors is to dump a bunch of loose leaves in a cup of lukewarm water.  The artist is Jinwo Umemoto.

Hetalia: Axis Powers, yes, THAT Hetalia.

Sanada Heart Blade, a silly romp with school kids, from Kiku Ueda.

Gachirin Nikiri Saku, (Decapitated Blooming Full Moon), the title is an approximate translation.  So far, there's nothing on this one in English.  The artwork isn't too bad, and the main characters look good.  In this chapter, a female spear user goes up against a bunch of demons led by someone that looks like Anubis, and is saved by a white wolf woman.  By Asawo Maruyama.

Umesato the Third, kind of a Lupin III but with a female lead.  Series ended with this chapter.


Mimitsuki, (With Ears Attached).  Seems to be a slice-of-life series about humanoid animals with big ears.  Pretty cute character designs, and nice, clean artwork.

Quo Vadis, this is the most "shojo-looking" of the entire magazine, with flowery characters and grotesquely huge eyes.  Basically, a vampire story.

Totsu Gami, I reviewed this comic story of a group of Shinto exorcists.  It's one of the titles that I like from Birz.

(Gachirin Nikiri Saku)

6000, this is the other one I've been following.  It's a horror story about a crew of marine biologists and maintenance workers trapped in a haunted ocean-floor biosphere 6000 meters below water.  The artwork is pretty crude and the characters aren't very attractive or likable, but the sense of terror from by stalked by flesh eaters with nowhere to escape to is very well-presented.

No freebies in this issue.

(Umesato the Third)

Summary: Birz is heavy on the horror side, but it also has fantasy and school life.  Giga Tokyo Toy Box will appeal to console gamers, while Gachirin is more for guys that like wolf girls.  Personally, I'm more interested in Totsu Gami, but Umesato the Third looks mildly interesting.

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