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October 6, 2009

Bento Bako Lite – Your October 2009 Previews

Welcome to Bento Bako Lite, a spin-off of Bento Bako Weekly where I will talk about things that happen outside of my weekly column, or that I just don’t have room for.  Like today!  Diamond’s October preview catalog is out, so it’s time to put some manga on your pull-lists!  Look for this each month, where I plan on pointing out the titles I will be ordering, and also highlighting some others that you should be keeping your eyes on (which means I won’t be simply listing every single title coming out).  This is a pretty slow month for me.  About 2 previews ago I had a pretty sizable order, and next month will probably be the same.  Most of the manga I read is published in 3-6 month cycles, so every 3-6 months a chunk of them shows up in Previews, all together.  Usually around the same month the previous volumes are released.  For example, I have 8 titles coming out in November, so November or December’s Previews will probably have a good sized order for me.  This month…only a couple.

Taken literally, that means I’m only ordering 2 titles this month.  I had pondered a third, but decided it was just too much for something that sounded really interesting, but wasn’t usually what I go for.  Which should have meant that I would go for it, for something new and unexpected…but I went with something that I already knew I would enjoy.

My orders for the month are:

bbwwwt8We Were There vol. 8, by Yuki Obata.  If you’re interested in this, flip through your copy of Previews very carefully.  I’m not sure what is going on with Viz Media, but their manga listings have been truncated.  Their page count has been significantly decreased, and many new titles (including some great ones that deserve a proper display) are relegated to a block listing on their last page.  I don’t know if this is Diamond being a…not very nice company, or Viz not being able to afford the space (which, given their scope of titles, seems unlikely).  I’d like to know the story behind this treatment, if anyone knows.  The manga itself is charming, in it’s way.  It won the 2005 Shogakukan Manga Award (a major manga award in Japan), but I don’t know what qualifies a mangaka for that award.  None of my favorite titles have ever won one.  The art style is unique, but facial expressions are fairly generic.  After reading 6 volumes, nothing has screamed “award winning” yet, but it has some nice moments, and it does deal with some serious issues, like death and suicide.  It’s lots of high school dating drama, if that interests you.  Out in January 2010.

bbwnatsume1Natsume’s Book of Friends vol. 1, by Yuki Midorikawa.  After enjoying the anime, I have to pick up the first volume of this and check it out.  The anime (Natsume Yūjinchō) is quite charming.  Natsume’s grandmother left behind a book that contains the names of spirits his grandmother forced into servitude.  Spirits are now coming to Natsume looking to take the book away from him (to use its power), or to have their names released.  He meets a (spirit) cat named Madara who is also after the book, but Madara promises to be Natsume’s bodyguard as long as he can have the book when Natsume dies.  It’s very sweet and rather humorous, despite it’s dark description.  This one is also from Viz Media, and will be out in January 2010.

Keep your eyes open for:

Yashakiden: The Demon Princess, vol. 1, a new novel by Hideyuki Kikuchi (Vampire Hunter D). This is the third title I almost ordered, as the summary was very interesting.  Dimension doorways, detectives, wizards, demons and vampires – all descending on poor, disaster prone Tokyo.  Coming in December 2009 from Digital Manga Publishing.

Azumanga Daioh Collected Edition, by Kiyohiko Azuma.  This hilarious four-panel gag manga follows six energetic high school girls through their daily lives.  An 800 page collection from Yen Press for just $24.99, coming in December 2009 (Amazon has it listed for $16.49, so there’s really no excuse!).

Also from Yen Press:

Pandora Hearts, vol. 1, by Jun Mochizuki.  What if your greatest sin was your very existence?  That is the condemnation that completely changes Oz’s life on his fifteenth birthday, and he soon finds himself surrounded by people who want to use his heritage and his power.  Like a dark and twisted Alice in Wonderland.  December 2009.

Spice and Wolf, novel 1, by Isuna Hasekura.  This light novel was the basis for the recently released (through FUNimation) anime adaptation Spice and Wolf.  This adorable story follows spice merchant Lawrence on his journeys from town to town, and the wolf demon Holo who accompanies him and provides him with her wisdom.  December 2009.

Also from Viz Media:

Monster, vol. 1, by Naoki Urasawa.  This one has actually been in print for a while, so I can only assume this is some sort of reissue or reprinting, or an attempt to jump sales again.  In fact, the final volume was released in December of last year.  It’s a seinen manga (usually targeted at young adult males, 18-30) about a doctor named Tenma who decides to save a young boy over a prominent politician…a decision which will later come back to haunt him, as the life he chose to save holds a terrible fate.  A grusome psychological thriller.

Nana, vol. 20, by Ai Yazawa.  A hugely popular title, and for good reason.  Another Shogakukan winner (along with We Were There, and Monster), Nana is a story about female friendship.  Two girls with the same name, Nana, meet and become roommates and friends.  Though they share the same name, their personalities and goals are vastly different – one wants to be a famous punk singer, and the other just wants to find romance and happiness.  January 2010.

Full Metal Alchemist, vol. 22, by Hiromu Arakawa.  The basis for the immensely popular anime (though the two deviate quite a bit halfway through; the new anime FMA: Brotherhood follows the original manga more closely).  January 2010.

From Dark Horse:

Vampire Hunter D, vol. 14, by Hideyuki Kikuchi and Yoshitaka Amano.  D rescues the helpless, fights the monsters, and uncovers more mysteries.  A novel with illustrations by the amazing Yoshitaka Amano.  February 2010.

bbwshaman1Shaman Warrior, vol. 9, by Park Joong-Ki.  The final volume of the award winning manhwa (Korean comic books).  Amazing illustrations and an intriguing story characterize this action packed title.  Shaman warrior Yarong and his bodyguard Batu are attacked while on a mission from their General.  With Yarong seriously injured, Batu must leave his master to fulfill a promise to protect his master’s child…while Yarong stays behind to deal with their pursuers.  Preview the first volume at Dark Horse’s website. February 2010.

Oh My Goddess!, vol. 14, by Kosuke Fujishima.  One of the more charming of its genre, this story follows Keiichi and his personal goddess and girlfriend, Belldandy, as they go about their daily lives.  Daily lives which occasionally involve saving the world from renegade gods and goddesses, or simply keeping Belldandy’s sisters and comrades in line while they’re on Earth.  February 2010.

From Tokyopop:

Fruits Basket Ultimate Edition, vol. 4, by Natsuki Takaya.  If you didn’t get in on this amazing series when the individual volumes came out, these double volume editions are a perfect opportunity.  January 2010.

From Vertical, Inc.:

Tezuka’s Dororo, volumes 1-3, by Osamu Tezuka.  This series is being offered up again, and you shouldn’t miss it.  In fact, anything with Tezuka’s name attached is not to be missed.  They don’t call him the “Godfather of Anime” for nothing.  In Dororo, Hyakkimaru searches the world for his missing body parts, which were sacrificed to 48 demons by his father in exchange for power over Japan.

From Ponent Mon:

Korea as Viewed by 12 Creators, by various (including Park Heung-Yong and Vanyda).  The “sequel” to 2006’s Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators, this graphic novel showcases the work of 6 European and 6 Korean creators, and shows Korea from their points of view.  February 2010.

From Kodansha Comics:

Akira, vol. 2, by Katsuhiro Otomo.  Dark Horse had been publishing the series, but now it’s back in the hands of Kodansha and their newly formed American distribution company.  January 2010.

Figures for your shelves:

bbwasuka_plugsuitEvangelion 2.0 Asuka Langley Soryu Plug Suit statue. These beautiful statues are worth every penney.  The Rei Ayanami version came out a year or two ago, and it’s stunning.  Asuka’s a bit more expensive for some reason (at $74.99 compared to Rei’s $55.00 tag).

Lucky Star: “Summer Uniform” Figures. These three figures of Konata, Miyuki and Tsukasa showcase the girls’ summer school uniforms.  Previews has them labeled wrong in their image, so be careful when choosing.  These are Max Factory Figmas, which are high quality figures with fantastic poseability.  They are $34.99 each, and come with swappable faces (which work on other Max Factory figma figures) and accessories.

Final Fantasy XIII Play Arts -Kai-. Highlighting three of the upcoming Final Fantasy XIII‘s main characters – Snow, Lightning, and Vanille – these figures are slightly larger, more detailed and more articulated than other figures in the Play Arts line.  Which explains (though maybe not quite excuses, depending on the quality) the hike in price from the standard $25 figures to $39.99…which is quite the price hike.  I wanted a Snow myself, though it’s hard to justify that price for a character from a game I can’t even play yet, especially when their previous Play Arts figures (that were cheaper) were already great quality figures.  I don’t know that the differences will justify an extra $15.

That’s it for this month’s Previews Bento Bako highlights!  Hopefully you’ve found something interesting to look forward to.




  1. Call me a big ole girl, but I just love me some Fruits Baskest. lol. I don’t care how that makes me sound. I always get made fun of for liking it.

  2. Infinite Speech

    Shaman Warrior was suggested to me and I keep forgeting to give it a look through

  3. Kristin

    Don’t feel ashamed for liking Fruits Basket. It’s one of the best manga out there. I love it; it’s one of my favorite titles.

  4. billy

    I’ve watched Full Metal Alchemist on TV and thought that it was pretty good. Maybe I’ll give the comic a try.

  5. Kristin

    Just remember that the currently released FMA series and the manga vary widely after a certain point. Because the manga was incomplete, the anime creators began writing their own story to complete the series. A new anime, called Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, aired this summer in Japan, and follows the manga storyline. You can watch the series through FUNimation’s website. The voice cast for the American release was recently announced, so expect the DVDs to start showing up later into 2010.

  6. Kristin

    Note to self: After realizing that I had several Shogakukan titles, I thought that a requirement for winning a Shogakukan manga award was being published by Shogakukan. But that does not seem to be the case as, even though a majority may be published by Shogakukan (it is a major publishing company), many are from other publishers. So again…I don’t know what qualifies a book to win this award.

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