Wednesday, June 6, 2018


I’m always checking out new manga series with “new” being defined as a series I haven’t read yet. I started reading three such series recently. While I’m not certain I’ll continue reading them beyond their second volumes, I thought they were worth writing about in my bloggy things.

First up is the utterly bizarre and wondrous Cells at Work by Akane Shimizu [Kodansha Comics; $12.99]. The setting for this adventure comedy series is a human body. The heroes and villains are various humanoid blood cells or monstrous infections and viruses. This is going to take some explaining.

Our point-of-view character is a pretty red blood cell who is kind of sort of ditzy. Her job is to transport oxygen and carbon dioxide through blood circulation. In the course of her duties, she meets and forms a friendship with a handsome white blood cell whose main task is to destroy foreign substances that invade the body. These menaces include pneumonia, infections and even allergies.

There are many different types of cells, all portrayed as people, all with their own abilities and responsibilities. The “menaces” are sometimes depicted as monsters and sometimes as costumed super-villains. It makes for some very wild battle scenes.

Kodansha rates the first volume “T” for readers 13 and up, but I’m of the opinion the series is suitable for any reader smart enough to enjoy adventures that are educational, exciting and just plain funny. Of the three manga series I started reading recently, this is the one I’m most likely to stick with.

ISBN 978-1-63236-356-5


Love and Lies Volume One by Musano [Kodansha Comics; $12.99] is a romance series set in a world where romance and marriages are decided by the government. Wikipedia has an excellent shorthand description of this manga:

In the near future, children who have turned 16 years old are assigned by the government to a partner based on compatibility calculation, in order to increase the country's birth rate. Those who do not follow the government rules of going with their assigned partner suffer severe penalties. Yukari Nejima finally confesses his love to schoolmate and long-time crush Misaki Takasaki and discovers she has liked him back. However, when he turns 16, he is assigned another girl, Ririna Sanada. Ririna is not that thrilled about being assigned, and is very willing to let Yukari freely relate with Misaki so she can learn what being in love is really like. The story follows their adventures of the teens as they try to relate with one another while keeping up appearances with the government.
One volume in, this manga works for me on several levels. Yukari, Misaki and Ririna are likeable young people caught in a situation beyond their control. The government’s severe penalties are hinted at without giving readers any solid details. Even so, the ominous threat of those penalties hangs over the young lovers and made me feel anxious on their behalf. That’s good writing.

Musawo’s art is not different from that usually found in Japanese romance manga, but I think the drawing and the storytelling are a few notches above the typical visuals. Kudos.

I’d like to see more specific information about those penalties in subsequent volumes, but what I’ve read so far of Love and Lies will have me come back for another volume or two. Manga, especially this manga, isn’t for everyone, but, if you like reading all kinds of comics, this one is worth checking out.

ISBN 978-1-63236-499-9


Sorry for My Familiar Volume 1 by Tekka Yaguraba [Seven Seas; $12.99] is the wacky story of Patty, a young demon girl searching for her missing father. Because her powers are weak, she needs a familiar to help her along the way. Because she isn’t exactly wealthy, her familiar is Norman, a human who is obsessed with learning all that he can about demons and their familiars. His usefulness to Patty is generally dependent by how distracted he is by whatever new demon or familiar they encounter.

The duo encounter some crazy difficulties in this first in a series of four books. Patty’s dad is a deadbeat with many creditors (and law enforcement) after him. Norman sometimes gets so carried away examining demons that he angers them. But his knowledge helps get him and Patty safely from one town to the next.

Yaguraba’s basic concept is fun. The demons are both hilarious and threatening. Norman is a hoot and a half. As with the other manga I’ve written about today, I’ll stick with Sorry for my Familiar for at least another volume and likely all four volumes.

ISBN 978-1-629927-59-9

If you anywhere near the beautiful Fingerlakes region of New York this weekend, come see me at the Fingerlakes Comic Con, June 8-10, at the Fingerlakes Mall Event Center in Auburn, New York. I’ll be there with comics guests Don McGregor, Roger Stern, Bob Hall, Carl Potts, Peter Gillis and more. I’m doing a special Tony Isabella panel on Saturday and, all through the weekend, I’ll be selling all sorts of cool Black Lightning and Tony Isabella stuff and signing your books. You can learn more about the event here.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

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