The Manga Moveable Feast this month focuses on the Viz Signature Imprint and is hosted at Manga Critic.
I hope to be able to participate with some new reviews, but I thought I’d do a mini-round up of reviews for Viz Signature titles I’ve done in the past and list some of my favorites.
Most of the recent Viz Signature titles were featured on the Sigikki website, which doesn’t seem to be as current as it once was. Still, it was a nice experiment in online comics distribution, even though as more of these volumes are available in print format the free chapters still seem to be disappearing from the site.
Natsume Ono – I’m grateful for the Signature imprint for translating so much of Ono’s work. I enjoy her quirky art style and slice of life stories.
House of Five Leaves is one of my favorite Signature titles, and my favorite Natsume Ono Series. There’s something about this story of a hapless ronin slowly being drawn into a life of crime that I find absolutely gripping. Seeing the way the characters change each other as they go about their daily tasks while dealing with being in a kidnapping and ransom gang gives a bit of a contemporary feel to the historical setting of this series.
House of Five Leaves Volume 1
House of Five Leaves Volumes 4-6
I always enjoy it when manga creators let their personal interests inform their manga, and Ono’s affection for food, Italy, and men wearing glasses is clearly shown in her manga with contemporary settings that revolve around an Italian cafe.
One of the reasons why I like Ono so much is because she reminds me a bit of Fumi Yoshinaga. Both authors have worked in yaoi, both have an extremely individualistic drawing style, there’s a focus on slice of life stories in their work, and both seem to be serious foodies. I’ve enjoyed the Yoshinaga books put out by Viz Signature.
All My Darling Daughters – A great introduction to Yoshinaga since it is complete in one volume
One of the fun things about the Signature imprint is that it does sometimes bring manga to the US that is absolutely crazy. I am referring to Biomega, a title that almost doesn’t need a review, because you just need to ask yourself if you are the type of person who would enjoy a manga that has as a character a talking bear with a machine gun. If you don’t find bears with machine guns enjoyable, I’m not sure if I can be your friend. This reminds me, I need to pick up some of the middle volumes of this series!
Some of the most personal and deeply affecting titles to come from the Signature line are by Inio Asano. His works focus on that time of life in early adulthood when people aren’t quite sure what they want to become. He blends everyday but surreal images into his manga, giving his stories a dream-like quality that still manages to feel gritty and realistic.
Afterschool Charisma I am including in this list of favorites because I love Clone Freud so much. This series from Viz sometimes feels a bit like a high concept B-movie, due to the setting of a high school populated entirely by teenage clones of famous historical figures. Horrifically this series is now up to volume 5, which means that there is even more manga I need to order.
My personal shopping list after compiling this post: What a Wonderful World Volume 2, Biomega Volume 6, Afterschool Charisma Volumes 4 and 5, Ooku Volumes 3 and 4.