Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Manga and Light Novel Liscense Announcements from Anime Expo 2017 I am Most Excited About

Recent License announcements at Anime Expo 2017 happened from the various English language publishers so I thought I would cover the titles I am most excited about having been acquired and a brief summary of the title along with publisher and tentative release date if able to be found. First is Reborn as a Vending Machine, Now I Wander the Dungeon licensed by Yen Press this is a title that has frankly become kind of a meme/punching bag for the excesses of Web Novels and Light Novels and in particular Isekai ("trapped in another world") Novels. Some have even jokingly speculated that the title is a giant troll by Japanese publishers. I myself am willing to give this title a read and am excited about it because the concept itself is so odd that you can't help but stop and think "what!" So yes this may not be a heartbreaking work of staggering genius but it will defiantly be unlike anything currently on the English language Light Novel market and I always respect a publisher for at least taking a gamble on something left of center. Next is The Hero and His Elf Bride Open a Pizza Parlor also licensed by Yen Press and slated for spring 2018 release this is a complete stab in the dark as there is almost no information on it other than a picture of the novel's cover and the title. Which honestly that's all I need really I love Pizza and Elf girls if we are going off of middle brow fantasy races are my favorite kind of female fantasy race. What this will be like I have no idea due the lack of any kind of information online but I wager there will be some cute antics between the hero and his Elf bride and pizza will be served and if that is all it is I'll be fine with that. Goblin Slayer Year One: A soon to be starting prequel of the Light Novel series Goblin Slayer written by Kumo Kagyu and illustrated by Noboru Kannatuki. Another Yen Press license which is due out next year. The story of the lone hero who devotes his life to slaying Goblins Year One will show how Goblin Slayer became who he is now this I actually look forward to as the parent series has been one of grounded middle brow fantasy and occasionally emotionally painful word pictures and narration if Year One is able to show the slow molding of Goblin Slayer from greenhorn adventurer into grim merciless slaughterer of Goblins and give some insight into his inner psychology the novel will be a success for me this is probably the title I'm least excited about because I pretty much know what to expect from the novel title alone and the quality of the writing is already solid so this is really icing on the proverbial cake for fans of the original Goblin Slayer series. I've Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years by Kisetsu Morita and illustrator Dontsugel licensed by Yen Press chronicles the adventures of a dead Office Lady who died from overwork and ends up another world as an immortal witch who looks forever seventeen years old and lives and easy life of slaying slimes and making medicinal herbs and selling the herbs and magical jewels she makes for money. Only that all those years of slaying slime monsters have now made her the strongest witch in this world. This could be a slice of life series or a kind of unlikely hero story, either way, it simply is one of those series that sound interesting just on its face so it being an unknown quantity does not scare me off. If it ends up being a breezy narrative that could be nice as well, a story that might have possibilities while the idea of someone "level grinding" to the maximum level by taking out the weakest possible monster in a fantasy world seems like an interesting take on the overpowered protagonist tropes that exist in spades in Light Novels. Also, a world-weary Office Lady simply wanting a stress free and easy life while also having to deal with being in a much younger body in a world where she has managed to amass massive amounts of power. It will be interesting to see how this is handled both for it being a female lead and a Yen Press's first license of a Shojo Light Novel which makes me want to support it to show there is at least some demand for Light Novels for girls and women in print as there is something nice about having the physical representation and physicality of a tactile book in your hands. Also, I love Shojo Manga so Shojo Light Novels are an excellent addition to that demographic. Silver Spoon by Hiromu Arakawa (Available for Pre-order on Amazon.com for $15.00 due out February 20, 2018) this was a coup for Yen Press often begged by fans of the Mangaka of Fullmetal Alchemist this was a series thought to be only available through Viz due to the series being serialized in Weekly Shōnen Sunday and thinking that Viz would have first dibs due to it being a Shogakukan title. This is Arakawa taking a sharp left turn from the action she was known for in Fullmetal Alchemist. Creating a winsome school days comedy about daily life in an Agricultural School with its fish out of water protagonist adjusting to hard physical labor and gaining friends and feeling love for the first time. This is a title I've felt was leaving money on the table for years. As Fullmetal Alchemist has been a frankly evergreen Shōnen property and Arakawa has a fan base for her work in The States. Along with this having had a relatively popular Anime adaptation in 2014. I'm just happy it's getting put out as it feels like it's been a long time coming. I've always liked Arakawa as a writer as an artist her draftsmanship can be a little Spartan for some but it has a nice economy of style combined with a honed minimalism that I find refreshing. Combined with an ethos of hard work and camaraderie that makes for a decidedly old school feel. Making Arakawa like a more down to earth and hard-nosed Rumiko Takahashi or Keiji Nakazawa with less political content. Either way, this is a series that captures the feeling of youth without maudlin, mawkish, or cloyingly sentimental. Making for a winsome and light-hearted look at school life I can only hope that Arakawa's masterful use of dramatic tension and pacing is as on display as it was in the buildup to the climactic battle in Fullmetal Alchemist. Still, I expect a capital M manly story with hints of lighter sensibilities as well one can only hope the "Arakawa cult" is still going strong all these years later. Kemono Friends: Welcome to Japari Park licensed by Yen Press(available for Pre-Order at $16.51 and due out January 23, 2018) : This is one of the first physical releases of media for the surprise hit of the Winter 2017 season and while this title, in particular, is more based on the failed Mobile Game than the surprise hit Anime. I can only hope it captures the effervescent sense of wonder and joy that the Anime seemed to capture for so many. Kemono Friends is a series that is more to be sensed emotionally than analyzed critically. One can only hope the Manga can capture the joy inherent in the Anime but who knows it really is an unknown quantity given how much the mobile game looked like a complete failure. Still this story about a girl who simply wants to care for the newly humanized animals at Japari Park may have some promise and if it means more cute Animal girls I'm all for that. Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts by Yu Tomofuji (available for Pre-Order at Amazon.com for $13.00 due out April 17, 2018) : Licensed by Yen Press this is a Shojo Romance serialized in Hana to Yume about Saliphie a girl offered as a sacrifice to the terrifying demon king only to learn his secrets and his kindness. this is essentially Beauty and The Beast and as I was not impressed by The Ancient Magus' Bride I'm hoping this take on the old Fairy Tale may prove more to my liking. While it very much sounds cut from the "brooding boy, gentle girl" trope. I love that sometimes a story need not be a deconstruction or subversion to be good sadly I think there is a level of jadedness that has crept into expectations as far as writing goes or the presumption that "True Art Is Angsty" which is a fundamentally rough place to be stuck in as a critic or fan. Well, this has gotten overly meta but I digress. I still hope if anything I can read this and feel some sort of Agape. Made in Abyss by Tsukushi, Akihito licenced by Seven Seas (first volume available for pre-order on Amazon and Amazon Smile for $10.00 now) Chronicling the adventures of an orphan named Rico who lives in a town on the edge of a giant system of pits and caves known as The Abyss she wants to become an explorer of these caves known as a cave raider like her Mother and solve the mysteries in The Abyss and one day she finds a robot that resembles a human boy. The first that drew me to this series is the character design reminding me of Barasui. After that, it's that it is this dark unpleasant undercurrent in latter volumes from what fans of the series online have said. I look forward to seeing where this cute looking series filled with hidden mysteries and struggles go on in later volumes. Orange Mirai and Orange Suwa Hiroto by Ichigo Takano licensed by Seven Seas: Combining the Manga Takeno wrote specifically for the movie told from Suwa's perspective and an alternative universe story. Probably the most personally meaningful one to me as Orange is a series I've said in the past could save lives given its honest portrayal of Suicide, Depression, and friendship. this may not be the one I am most "giddy" over but it is going to mean the most to me for deeply personal reasons. My Boy by Hitomi Takano licensed by Vertical Comics due out April 2018 (available for pre-order on Amazon for $10.45) Due out April 10th 2018 : This is probably the most controversial pick an story about an listless and depressed thirty year old woman named Satoko Tawada who finds herself forming a close emotional bond with a twelve-year-old boy named Mashuu Hayami after she finds him practicing soccer by himself and on a whim decides to help him with his soccer game and slowly the two grow closer together. While I commend Vertical for the bravery they have shown for licensing a title that many would condemn at face value unread. I think this could spark off a really interesting conversation in Manga Fandom, or it could just devolve into moral panic and fear mongering on one hand and a cold emotionally dead moral apathy on the other. As an aside I can remember people threatening to report people in an Anime News Network Talkback Forum on the Kodomo No Jikan Kickstarter and report them to the authorities for possession of child pornography if they pledged to give a certain amount tier in the Kodomo No Jikan Kickstarter (A Kickstarter I helped fund for full disclosure because of my belief in free speech) because it came with a body pillow cover of one of the three pre-pubescent girls on them depending on which amount tier you gave to. I hope it does not sink to this level with this Manga as far as I can tell nothing has happened untoward in Mashuu and Satoko's relationship yet from what online readers have said. Still if this turns out to be really good this could be Moto Hagio's A Cruel God Reigns for Seinen Manga I only hope that fans that can if not approve of but accept titles like Wandering Son, My Brother's Husband, and A Girl on the Shore can find a place in their hearts for this story of a woman and her seeming Intergenerational Friendship with a young boy. Well that's the titles I'm most excited about sorry if it got a little rambly or overly "meta" in places but these are the titles I am most excited about from Anime Expo 2017 and I hope they will be someone else's favorites as well soon because good art is all about fostering conversation, vigorous healthy debate, and understanding. It really is a great time to be a Manga Otaku because companies are willing to take risks or know what appeals to their audience. So hats off to all the American English Language publishers you are what gives me hope for the continued survival of Manga Fandom in The West and as always support publishers, not piracy.

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