Monday, September 3, 2012

Commentary: Comic Ryuu

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

Monthly Comic Ryuu, 680 yen, 750 pages
As I've been going through the seinen and shonen shelves at the bookstores to figure out which titles remain to comment on and to determine which ones fall into my restrictions on what I'm willing to buy, I kept getting thrown by the covers of Comic Ryuu.  They had very soft pastel colors and feminine-looking characters on the front.  My thought was that it was misfiled.  However, this month's cover very plainly demonstrates who the target audience is.

According to the wiki entry, Ryuu started out as a quarterly special issue of Animage in 1979, and was eventually suspended.  It was revived in 2006 and seems to be doing well with a monthly release.  The target audience is still young adult males (18-25), and genres include school life, fighting, fantasy, Edo-era drama and SF.  I don't recognize any of the past titles, although the wiki entry is pretty skimpy on those details.  The art quality ranges from "eh" to "pretty good.  Not a lot of violence, but the cover title, Monster Girls Are Here Diary, is over the top with big-breasted harem-based reader service. The basic concept is that three randy women, one half-horse, one half-bird and one half-snake, find themselves living with a guy who's not quite ready to be crushed to death by the amorous trio.

Other titles include:

(Natsu Yuragi)

Natsu Yuragi, by Ken Yamasaka. This is a well-drawn story, with solid lines and clean character designs (ignoring the splash page).  A girl travels to a countryside village to visit her aunt.  After talking for a while, the girl explores a locked shed (her aunt gives her the key), and she discovers various wooden dolls, including one that's very life-like.

Manga Tsukurigata (How to Draw Manga), by Auri Hirao.  It seems to just be some friends talking to each other, but the poses occasionally are exercises in how to draw the human form.  Good artwork and good light, clean lines for the character designs.

Kinoko Inu (Mushroom Dog), by Kimama Aoboshi. This story is accompanied by the one freebie in this issue - a sheet of Kinoko Inu stickers. Kind of amateurish artwork, with a simple story this time.  Kinoko's owner plays with his dog in the backyard during a hot summer day, and they end up relaxing in a pool.


Keyman, the Hand of Judgment, by Warainaku. Thick, heavy lines but with decent character designs and artwork, this story looks to be set in a western fantasy village, with talking lizards, goats and fox girls.  There's no real description of Keyman on the net yet, so I'm not sure how the super hero element works in with everything else.  I like the designs enough to want to follow this one a little more.

(Onmyouji Takiyasha Hime)

Onmyouji Takiyasha Hime, by Baku Yumemakura and Munku Mutsuki. Onmyouji are priests that can cast spells.  This particular chapter has the priests in an Edo-era estate, where the head of the estate is being targeted by an assassin. Very clean, airy lines and attractive character designs.

(Centaur's Worries)

Centaur's Worries, by Kei Murayama. A young centaur girl living in modern-day Japan, feels out of place with her neighbors, who seem to have more magical powers or animal attachments (wings, halos, etc.) than she does.  Very innocent story about trying to fit in. Again, light clean artwork and cute character designs.


Itera, by Rie Makita. This is a simple 40-page one-shot slice of life between a boy and a girl.  Good artwork, not much of a story. Rie is billed as "a manga newcomer". If so, she's someone to keep an eye on in the future.

Mr. Nobody, by Go Tanabe. Up to chapter 6, this story is still too new to have a description written up on the net. Mr. Nobody stands out from all the other titles here for its realistic character designs and woodcut-style artwork. Seems to be a cross between a spy thriller and a medical horror series.  I'd like to see this one brought out in English in the U.S.

Summary: Comic Ryuu has a variety of stories, including fantasy, slice of life and comedy. Mostly above-average artwork and decent stories offset the fact that there's nothing in here western fans would recognize.  Onmyouji, Mr. Nobody and Natsu Yaragi all have things going for them. Only one sheet of freebie stickers this time.  680 yen cover price is on the high side given the lack of big-name stories.  Still, it's worth checking out.

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