Monday, January 05, 2004


In a fairly recent post, Tim Broderick complains that people who boost manga tend to only talk about the manga they love, and points out that someone's liking something isn't very meaningful if that person seems to never dislike anything. Fair enough. For some reason, it seems to be easier for me to tell by browsing whether I'll like a manga or not than it is with American comics, so I don't own a lot of manga that I don't like. But here are a couple of translated manga which have met with wide acclaim, but which I wasn't that impressed by.

Planetes vol. 1 by Makoto Yukimura. This has a lot going for it. It's genuine hard sf which only uses technologies that are likely to be developed in the near future--no giant robots or gateways to other dimensions--and depicts them realistically, something rare in the manga or anime I've seen. And it's intelligent and well-written. But I doubt that I'll be picking up future volumes. Why? Part of it is that I'm just not a big fan of hard sf. But also the characterizations are thin, the message of "follow your dream" is simplistic in a would-be adult series, and the idea that society seventy years from now will be just like today except with fancier machines is something that the best print sf has moved away from. The art didn't particularly appeal to me, either.

Iron Wok Jan by Shinji Saijyo. The art is good in a cartoony way, and Saijyo is very skillful at drawing cooking scenes as if they were action scenes, and making them look exciting. And all the stuff about Chinese cuisine is interesting, though I have no idea whether it's authentic or not. But neither the characters nor the story are particularly original. I'm not sorry that I bought vols. 1 and 2, but I don't plan to buy any more.

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