Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Holiday Giveaway Winner & 2018 in the Rear View Mirror

First of all, it's time to announce this year's winner of the Holiday Review Giveaway: Megan "Queenira" Z!

For me it has to be To Your Eternity. Its a beautiful and haunting story with great visuals.

I do keep overlooking the works of Yoshitoki Oima over here, don't I?  I swear it's not on purpose.  Anyway, I'll be getting in touch with Megan to give her prize in the next few days.

2018 was quite a year...indeed, it often felt like many terrible and strange years crammed into one.  As for the Test Drive, it's been a year of transition.  The big thing was that I started working again full-time.  Previously I had been mostly unemployed for the last two years, which gave me plenty of time to devote to reviews.  Now that I'm working again, I have a lot less time and it's taken some time to find a new normal as far as scheduling time for reviews.  That required another hiatus and some months cut short, and I never feel good about that.

On the other hand, that same new job gave me the opportunity to pick up all sorts of new books.  It gave me the opportunity to finally go to Otakon this year, where I was able to meet all sorts of new people (including one of the site's readers, whom I kept running into at the manga vendors.  Hi zawa!).  I got to reconnect with old friends from AnimeFest 2017, and connect a lot of real faces to handles from my Twitter feed.  I even managed to do a tiny bit of very specific manga journalism; hopefully in a few month's time we'll be able to see if Carl Horn keeps his word.

This was also the year that I did something I had been considering for some time: Renaissance Josei, a side blog for longer features, reviews and thinkpieces.  Sadly, much like with the Manga Test Drive, it kind of fell by the wayside as I readjusting to working full-time.  That's a shame because I love the regular features and longer reviews on there and want to do more of them.  I'd also like to do other projects, be they article pitches for other sites or panels to submit to future cons.  I'd also like to figure out some sort of new strategy to encourage my Patreon following to grow.

2019 will be Year 8 for this blog.  It will mean more reviews of course (including what will likely be the last CLAMP Month), both here and on Renaissance Josei.  It will mean more side projects and trips (including one confirmed one for Sakuracon).  I certainly have my hopes on the manga side of things: more older licenses, more josei, more BL and non-high-school yuri, and that some of AniTwitter's favorite unlicensed works finally get their moment in the sun.  Mostly I hope that 2019 will be a happier, more just, and more productive year for us all.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Holiday Review: POP TEAM EPIC

Let's wrap things up with the most gentle, good-hearted manga to come out in 2018, a story of love, stardom, and magic...

Monday, December 24, 2018

Holiday Review: THE BRIDE WAS A BOY

Seven Seas brought us multiple webmanga this year, but aside from the sequel for My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness, this may have been the most anticipated of the lot.  As important as Claudine was for trans representation in the 70s, it's important now that we're getting trans stories from actual transfolk like this.

THE BRIDE WAS A BOY (Hanayome wa Motodanshi), by Chii.  First published in 2016 and first published in North America in 2018.



PLOT:

Chii was a transwoman happily in love with her boyfriend.  She was so much in love that she began to make plans to undergo sex reassignment surgery so that she will be able to legally transition and finally marry her boyfriend.  What follows is a whirlwind story of love, transition, and weddings taken from the mangaka's own life!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Holiday Review: WAKAKOZAKE

As we get closer to Christmas, why not read a manga that's all about enjoying good food and drink?  Luckily, this year we got one from Media-Do that I had been craving for years.

WAKAKOZAKE, by Chie Shinkyu.  First published in 2011 and first published in North America in 2018.




PLOT:

Wakako Murasake is a 26-year-old office lady who enjoys nothing more than a good meal.  To her, nothing is more relaxing and enjoyable than a good izakaya dish paired with the perfect drink.  It's the best way to celebrate the small joys of life, get away from the world's frustrations, or just fill yourself until all you can say is "~pshuuuu."

Holiday Review: SATOKO AND NADA

Webcomics continue to be the new frontier in manga, and Seven Seas has been on the forefront of bringing more personal and unique stories like this to the West.

SATOKO AND NADA (Satoko to Nada), by Yupechika.  First published in 2017 and first published in North America in 2018.




PLOT:

Satoko is a Japanese girl studying abroad in America, and by chance she ends up rooming with the vibrant Saudi girl Nada.  Satoko has a lot to learn about living life as a Muslim woman from Nada and her friends, and together the two face some of the everyday challenges of foreigners living in the USA.