Sunday, January 21, 2018

Review: MAN OF MANY FACES

It's (a particularly late-starting) CLAMP Month again!

It's a celebration of my favorite mangaka group (and the lateness is a result of getting two nasty cases of the flu? cold? generic respiratory nastiness in a row), starting with what may be one of the weirdest works they ever made.

MAN OF MANY FACES (Niju Mesno ni Onegai!), by CLAMP.  First published in 1990 and first published in North America in 2003.



PLOT:

When Akira Ijyuin isn't busy with the CLAMP School Detectives, he spends his days refining his fine cooking skills and taking care of his two mothers.  By night, though, he is the infamous phantom thief 20 Faces, stealing only the finest, most whimsical things at his mothers' request.  Like his father before him, Akira can steal just about anything and get away, but what will he do when the kindergarten-aged heiress Utako ends up stealing his heart instead?

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

2017 in the Rear View Mirror & Holiday Giveaway Winner!

First of all, my apologies for the lateness of this post.  A lot of stuff came my way at the end of the year: family get-togethers, a wicked 1-2 punch of a head cold and tonsilitis, and the addition of two small, furry, squirrelly members to our household who are currently dividing their time between zooming around my house and sleeping sweetly on the couch.

First things first, it's time to announce this year's Holiday Giveaway Winner!  We had plenty of good comments, but according to the random number generator our winner is...Usamimi!

That's so hard!! I'd say the Rakugo Shinju manga just because I love the series so much & I'm so glad we're getting it in English.
Goodness knows I won't argue with that assessment.  Congratulations to our winner, and I'll be getting in touch with her soon to deliver her prize.

That said, this year was...interesting for The Manga Test Drive.  It's certainly the busiest I've been outside of the site.  I wrote a couple of articles for Anime Feminist, presented a couple of panels at last year's AnimeFest in Dallas, started a new feature on Infinite Rainy Day,and  got pull-quoted by Dark Horse for both the latest volume of Berserk and the upcoming guide book.  I was also chosen to be one of the judges for Manga of the Year for Crunchyroll's annual Anime Awards, something which continues to blow my mind considering that many of the other judges are writers and reviewers whose works I followed for years and (in some cases) inspired me to create this very site.

I also entered the world of crowdfunding when I started a Patreon campaign back in March.  To my surprise and delight, it managed to make more than a handful of change right from the start! Some even increased their donations during Patreon's brief, misguided fit of greed in December.  I can't overstate how much that support means to me and the site and I hope that many more regular readers join them.

That being said, the kerfuffle over Patreon last month helped me realize that I needed to diversify my crowdfunding options to help stave off concerns about corporate freakouts like that and to give my readers more ways to help support the site.  That's why I'm proud to announce that The Manga Test Drive now has a Ko-Fi account!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Now in addition to supporting the site on a regular, monthly basis through Patreon, you can support us anytime for any reason through Ko-Fi.  This will not be the last addition, though.  In the coming months, I plan on opening up a Paypal tip jar (along with the possibility of commission for future non-Test Drive reviews and features).  I will also be looking into other crowdfunding sites such as Drip as they go public.  Of course, I will keep you all informed as any changes come and The Manga Test Drive enters its sixth year.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Holiday Review: MY BROTHER'S HUSBAND

True to form, I end these holiday reviews with a story that's all about family and acceptance, as well as yet another stand-out LGBTQ-themed book from another unexpected source.

MY BROTHER'S HUSBAND (Ototo no Otto), by Gengoroh Tagame.  First published in 2014 and first published in North America in 2017.




PLOT:

Yaichi leads a largely comfortable life raising his daughter Kana, even as he tries to come to terms with the recent death of his estranged twin brother Ryoji.  Then one day his brother's widower shows up at his door, a big, burly, gentle ginger giant named Mike.  Mike has come to Japan to learn about his late husband's family and early life, but his presence ends up forcing Yaichi to come to terms with not only his own prejudices, but his own past as well.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Holiday Review: DELICIOUS IN DUNGEON

For me, Christmas is a time all about good food.  Naturally, this means my mind turns to good food manga, and we got a doozy of a food manga this year.

DELICIOUS IN DUNGEON (Danjon Meshi), by Ryoko Kui.  First published in 2014 and first published in North America in 2017.




PLOT:

Laios was deep in a dungeon when his sister was eaten by a dragon.  With Marcelle the elven mage and Chilchuck the halfing at his side, he's determined to make his way back to the dragon by subsisting entirely on food gathered from the dungeons.  Together with Senshi the dwarf, they will cook their way through floors full of basilisks, slimes, living armor and more.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Holiday Review: THE FULL TIME WIFE ESCAPIST

I also don't want to imply that there was no good josei either.  Kodansha took up the mantle there too, albeit mostly digitally.  The obvious choice would be Akiko Higashimura's Tokyo Tarareba Girls, but since that's getting a print release next year I'm going to hold off on that.  Instead I want to talk about another great josei series that mostly slipped under everyone's radar.

THE FULL TIME ESCAPIST'S WIFE (Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu), by Tsunami Umino.  First published in 2012 and first published in North America in 2017.




PLOT:

Mikuri spent her twenties working on a graduate degree in psychology, only to find herself unable to find work in both her field and through temp agencies.  To support herself, she takes up a housekeeping job for Tsukazi, a standoffish salaryman, but this job is put into peril when Mikuri's parents decide to retire to the countryside.  That's when she and Tsukazi come up with a bold plan: the two will go through with a common-law marriage to keep up appearances, but otherwise continue with the same professional arrangement they had before.  Things seem to go smoothly at first, but can these two fake being married without feelings ever coming into the picture or anyone learning the truth?