Article Quick Information
|Title:||Introducing... UK manga publisher Tanoshimi|
|Published:||Wed, 13 Sep 2006|
Kicking off in August 2006 the fledgling UK manga publisher Tanoshimi launched their colorful graphic novel label to an expectant and excited fanbase of British fans. They are closely linked to North American manga publishers Del Rey and all of their releases so far have been acquired from the Del Rey back catalogue - and according to the Tanoshimi FAQ, they hope to be publishing manga simultaneously along side Del Rey by early 2007. For what it's worth, we're particularly hoping to see Tanoshimi take chances on the likes of otaku drama Genshiken and supernatural masterpiece Mushishi. It's also worth considering that the vast majority of works published by Tanoshimi (and indeed, Del Rey) are actually Japanese, not original English creations masquerading in the manga style, but authentic and acclaimed Japanese manga that the fans have been clambering after for years. In other words, Tanoshimi are a promising and exciting new manga label more than welcome in the UK industry, giving us the chance to rip through a wide range of genres, from the gory ninja action of Basilisk to the moving drama of one girl and her dog in Guru Guru Pon-chan.
Tanoshimi's official website: http://www.randomhouse.co.uk/tanoshimi/
Tanoshimi have acquired the following titles for UK manga release - take a look at their official website for more information (like release dates).
Our Tanoshimi Reviews
Below are our reviews of Tanoshimi's released manga - this article will grow organically as more and more reviews are penned by our team of enthusiasts.
• Negima #1
Review by Jo Sarsam
Ten year old Negi Springfield is a wizard with some lofty ambitions- now that he’s graduated from magic academy, he wants to become a Magister Magi, the highest possible rank of sorcerer. Unfortunately, Negi’s first assignment isn’t quite what he’d envisioned- he’ll be teaching English at an all-girls secondary school in Japan!
With Mahora Junior High’s class 2-A now under his care, Negi finds himself thrown straight in at the deep end- and with only a provisional licence, he can’t even use magic to help him out (at least, not when anyone’s looking). Fortunately, the girls are quite taken with their cute sensei- all, that is, except the volatile Asuna. Asuna is especially annoyed that Negi has replaced her favourite teacher, and when she finds out that he is a magician, she resolves to make his life as difficult as possible.
Love it or loathe it, Love Hina was the title that made Ken Akamatsu famous, and even now it remains one of the mainstays of the ‘harem’ romantic comedy genre. It should come as no surprise, then, that Akamatsu returns to familiar turf for his latest title, taking the harem aspect to the extreme by giving the protagonist no fewer than thirty-one girls to deal with.
Since it would be nigh-impossible to give everyone a proper introduction in the space of one volume, these first chapters primarily focus on a handful of the girls, and, of course, Negi himself. Despite his young age, Negi is far more likable than the average harem lead; instead of being a hopeless loser, he is actually a studious and good-natured young man. Unfortunately, the female lead, Asuna, is a more stereotypical personality; proud, wilful and a touch tomboyish on the exterior, but a generally decent person inside. Asuna and Negi’s relationship follows a typical pattern; just as Asuna begins to soften and act more benignly towards Negi, one of his ill-advised attempts to help her out backfires, and the pair are back at square one- hopefully in future volumes their relationship will actually develop instead of repeating this trend.
Also sharing the spotlight this volume are two more members of class 2-A- Ayaka, the strong-willed class representative, and Nodoka, the quiet bookworm. The rest of the class is distinctly underused this volume, but from what little we glimpse of them, their personalities will all fit standard models.
Content-wise, these first few chapters are a mixture of slapstick comedy, and standard high school stories, with Negi and his magic often acting as the catalyst for the events of the chapter. From a love potion gone wrong to a dodgeball competition with another school, there’s nothing here you won’t have read before, making for a reasonably entertaining but never particularly outstanding selection.
As to be expected from a title of this nature, fanservice is never far from the page; alongside the usual run of panty shots and bathroom scenes, Negi’s spells have a tendency to go wrong and remove the clothes of those around him- a device which feels more like a half-hearted attempt to include the obligatory level of titillation than anything particularly essential to the plot.
Visually, Negima’s artwork offers little to complain about; by including so many named characters right from the outset, Akamatsu has posed himself a considerable challenge, but nonetheless manages to create a solid and varied range of character designs. Backgrounds are generally well detailed and there is always a lot happening on any given page, although never so much that the artwork begins to feel cluttered or confusing.
A mildly entertaining romantic comedy with obvious harem elements, Negima proves strong in the artwork department, but otherwise makes for an average and unoriginal opening volume. If Akamatsu is bold enough to tone down the fanservice and allow the characters to grow and develop, this could turn into a strong series, but at this point there is a very real danger of falling into an endless repetition of the same old gags.
Score: 5 out of 10
• Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle #1
Review by Martin Butler
A story that runs parallel to XXXHolic, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle is both a new story from acclaimed manga-ka team CLAMP and the ultimate in manga ‘crossovers’. A number of characters from Cardcaptor Sakura join familiar faces from numerous other CLAMP series as we follow Cardcaptor’s Syaoran in a magical quest to save the life of childhood friend Sakura.
Even if you have never read a single chapter of Cardcaptor Sakura (or any other CLAMP story for that matter) it doesn’t hinder your enjoyment of this series. The characters may look familiar but their situations, and even some of their personalities, have been reworked for the new story. With the help of XXXHolic’s Yuuko, Syaoran sets out to retrieve Sakura’s memories that have been scattered across numerous worlds. Even if and when Syaoran succeeds the most precious memories of all, those of Sakura’s childhood spent with him, will be irretrievably lost to her.
Right from the outset CLAMP have created a superb premise for an epic fantasy tale. The courageous hero must travel through time and space to accomplish his task of retrieving the memories, which inevitably leads him and the unconscious Sakura to places very much unlike the world that they (or we!) are familiar with. In this first volume he meets two unlikely travelling companions in the form of the fearless warrior Kurogane, magician Fai and a strange creature called Mokona, given to Syaoran by Yuuko.
The artwork is a little sketchy in places but otherwise it is in true CLAMP tradition, combining the gothic and fantastical with beautiful shoujo aesthetic and intuitive page layouts. Tanoshimi have gone to great lengths with the presentation as well with character profiles, translation notes on honorifics, and other helpful extras.
The story itself is only getting off the ground at this stage and even those familiar with the characters’ previous incarnations require some background to them in this particular setting. There are many questions thrown up, not least the circumstances that are responsible for Sakura’s memory loss and even Fai and Kurogane have their own secrets that are not yet apparent; when sent on their way with Syaoran they make for a varied and occasionally tumultuous team.
Long-standing CLAMP fans will get the most out of Tsubasa but for the rest of us this ‘alternate universe’ tale promises to be an enjoyable journey. The greatest strength of the fantasy genre is its unpredictability, so there is no telling where Sakura’s and Syaoran’s journey will lead them. The first volume efficiently introduces the major characters and kicks it all off at a comfortable pace; it is a series that already shows much promise.
1. Comment by Yoshi
Type the characters you see in the picture above.