Sunday, May 02, 2004

Media Play excursion (and new manga)... 

So, I happened to be in the Media Play in CT the other day, and some interesting things came about. First of all, it looks like they are starting up an anime club next friday. Seems like they'll show clips from new shows and have some discussions. I think this sort of thing is always a smart idea. A2Z sells tons of yo-yos they never would otherwise if they didn't have a yo-yo club. This way people will be able to have an idea of new shows as they appear, but they'll need to buy something to see the rest. It also helps foster community, which is always nice.

Next, I went off to the manga section, and the new Del Ray books were out, in their own cardboard stand. Seriously, there is like 6 cardboard stands now for different manga! Del Ray did something pretty innovative, though. At the top is a one-page year-calendar. It is done so that you can just peel off your own and has a picture from Tsubasa in the middle. But what they did is give a symbol for each of their four titles and put them on the calendar to mark when the next issues are coming out. As these releases are longer than for most of the other companies (sometimes 3+ months between issues), it seems pretty smart to give something as a reminder.

What was bought? Well, Mom ended up getting the first Saiyuki volume. She's been watching the anime on On-Demand and enjoys it. One of the titles TP will be advertising on TV actually. A road-trip adventure story based very loosely on the Journey to the West Monkey King legend. Was also on sale for $8.

I wanted to get at least one Del Ray title to try it out, and I ended up going for xxxHOLiC from CLAMP. It involves a guy who sees spirits and after accepting help from a witch, ends up in servitude to her to pay off his debt. The story sounds interesting, but I have to say what really attracted me was the artwork. Some people are uncertain about it, but for me it was love at first sight. It is all black and white with no ziptone. Occationally lines or patterns/swirls of lines will be present, but not actual cross-hatching. Oh and did I mention swirls? There are whisps of smoke and hair everywhere, and combined with the tall thin languid bodies of the characters, it is a really interesting effect. At times you might be reminded slightly of some of the Yellow Submarine style.

Actually, although it looks nice in b&w (that pic is way too washed out, but hard to find good pics online), the couple of color pages are really nice.

Name suffixes like san and chan are kept in, but there is a description of what they mean upfront. That sort of thing matters to different degrees depending on the particular title. Sound effects are not replaced, but have small english equivilants next to them. Frankly, I think this works the best of all the approaches I've seen. A couple of instances in xxxHOLiC seem to have very integrated symbols that'd be hard to replace, but leaving things untranslated is bad form and a glossary is annoying. Del Ray seems to have it worked out well. There is also some translator notes in the back using small panels from the book to illustrate what they mean. Good stuff... As a bonus, all the Del Ray books were on sale at $8.67 each.

I also picked up the first volume of Jing: King of Bandits. I'd seen a couple of episodes on On-Demand and it seemed fun, about a young but amazingly skilled thief and his talking bird companion. Some of the episodes seemed creative (like one involving an island devoted to music), so I figured I'd flip through the manga. What sold me again was the artwork. In this case it wasn't an overall design sensibility like in xxxHOLiC. Instead it was crazy character designs and the sense of it all exploding with energy and creativity. Like a giant sand whale pirate ship or a giant tower with a keywhole in the front. The artwork gets a bit busy at times, but it still seems like you can follow what's going on.

It almost went for the latest volumes Tuxedo Gin, another Kindaichi book, or the first volumes of Angel Sanctuary or Priest, but plenty of time for those later...

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