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2009. Already. Well, my awards will contain five categories, will only consider German releases, AND only manga I bought and read! Makes sense doesn’t it?! Therefore the manga pool for the possible winners is a bit small and only focuses on the MANLY releases of the year (or: see topic). Below you can find my decisions.
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Manga: Blade of the Immortal
Mangaka: Hiroaki Samura (Story & Art)
Publisher: Egmont (Germany)
Original Publisher: Kodansha
Published in: Afternoon
Price: 6,50€
Released so far: Volume 1-21
Release Schedule: Volume 22: October 2008
Licensed in the US: Yes, Dark Horse
Additional Information: The appendix contains all the Blade of the Immortal girls in school uniform, plus a weapons overview & description.

Neither Blade of the Immortal nor its mangaka require an introduction. Blade of the Immortal has been running in Kodansha’s Afternoon since 1994 and 23 volumes have been published in Japan, as of yet. Hiroaki Samura has done several other one-shots, and a single volume, Ohikkoshi, which was released by Egmont in 2006, and was also released by Dark Horse respectively. As this review is based on the events of volume 20 and 21, it will contain spoilers.

You have been warned! Do not click “more” if you don’t want to get spoiled!

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Manga: Speed Grapher
Mangaka: GONZO(Story) & TOMOZO(Art)
Publisher: Carlsen (Germany)
Original Publisher: Mediaworks
Published in: Dengeki Comic Gao!
Price: 7,50€
Released so far: Volume 1
Release Schedule: Volume 2: May 2008
Licensed in the US: Yes, Tokyopop.com
Additional Information: Complete with 3 Volumes, contains an omake and one colored double-page.

Speed Grapher is based on the anime by the same name produced by GONZO. Usually I try to stay away from adaptations because they often lack the uniqueness and subtlety of the original. An exception is anime adapted to manga. I usually find the adaptation more appealing than the original (Neon Genesis Evangelion and Tsukihime). Reasons for that might be my general dislike of anime, specifically the two I named above. I also watched the Speed Grapher anime and it’s one of the worst anime I watched. Long story short: I gave the manga the benefit of the doubt and blindly purchased it.
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Manga: Eden: It’s an Endless World!
Mangaka: Hiroki Endo(Story&Art)
Publisher: Egmont(Germany)
Original Publisher: Kodansha
Published in: Afternoon
Price: 6,10€
Released so far: Volume 1-15
Release Schedule: Volume 16: September 2008
Licensed in the US: Yes, Dark Horse
Additional Information: Extra Pages containing a short string of thoughts by Endo.

Okay, I finally got this review proofread, after 3 months, so I can do the last ‘touch-ups’ and post it! Now this review might seem out of context, but I back when I decided to write one, it was the time, when Dark Horse thought of cancelling Eden and I was very sad to see that apparently Eden wasn’t selling well in the US. I’m not sure if it’s selling here, too, but at least it’s nowhere near cancelling a series. In that context, I also read some reviews of Eden and found them to have a pretty negative attitude to Eden (Jason Thompson’s review in the Complete Manga Guide being one). So I sat down and re-read all the fourteen volumes and tried to find a reason why people do not like it as much as I do.

Eden: It’s an Endless World is illustrated and authored by Hiroki Endo. First I only wanted to give a quick overview of what happened in volume 1 to 13, and then post a full review of volume 14, so that at that time I would be up to date with the German releases without having to write full reviews for every volume (lazy me!). So here’s the volume1-13 review, full reviews for volume 14 and 15 review to follow, when I have time and feel like it. Therefore if you are reading the American releases, be aware of spoilers.

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Manga: Kyoko Karasuma
Mangaka: Ouji Hiroi(Story) & Yusuke Kozaki(Art)
Publisher: Carlsen(Germany)
Original Publisher: Gentosha
Published in: BIRZ
Price: 6,00€
Released so far: Volume 1-4
Release Schedule: Volume 5: September 2008
Additional Information: 1 colored page and translation notes at the back

The review of the third volume took much longer than I expected with some real life stuff kicking in and all. With this, I only have volume 4 to review and then I’ve caught up with the German releases, until September.

The volume 1 cover was in red and volume two in blue, so it’s time for another primary color: green. This cover adorns a Kyoko in a slightly submissive pose displaying a weird oni tattoo or drawing on her back, maybe to represent a stigma of her past; if she actually has one, we shall see. As usual the city landscape fills the background and a modern font is used for the actual title (on the German cover).
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Manga: Kyoko Karasuma
Mangaka: Ouji Hiroi(Story) & Yusuke Kozaki(Art)
Publisher: Carlsen(Germany)
Original Publisher: Gentosha
Published in: BIRZ
Price: 6,00€
Released so far: Volume 1-3
Release Schedule: Volume 4: January 2008
Additional Information: 1 coloured page

Welcome to the next review of Kyoko Karasuma, the fast-paced action-filled manga by Hiroi and Kozaki. As in Volume 1, and similar to other manga, the first page presents us with a nicely coloured illustration. This time, however it does not show our young female detective, but her hulky partner, Raymond with two drawn guns, eagerly waiting for a reason to pull the triggers.
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Manga: Kyoko Karasuma
Mangaka: Ouji Hiroi(Story) & Yusuke Kozaki(Art)
Publisher: Carlsen Manga(Germany)
Original Publisher: Gentosha
Published in: BIRZ
Price: 6,00€
Released so far: Volume 1-3
Release Schedule: Volume 4: January 2008
Additional Information: 1 coloured page, character sketches in volume 1, and extensive translation notes.

Kyoko Karasuma is a collaboration by the by the mangaka Ouji Hiroi, author of Sakura Taisen(licensed in Germany as Sakura Wars by Egmont) and is illustrated by Yusuke Kozaki, who did the character design for Speed Grapher and Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto. This is Yusuke Kozaki’s first attempt in a full-length manga. However, he’s not totally inexperienced as he also participated in ROBOT, whose fourth instalment has recently been picked up by Udon Entertainment. Five volumes have been released so far, but despite the fact that it’s been more than nine month since the release of volume 5 no set date for volume 6 has appeared on amazon.jp. However the German manga publisher Carlsen still lists it as ongoing and the usual interval between the releases were around a year, so no worries there. Now after the lengthy introductorily paragraph, let’s get right into it.
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Manga: Shin Angyo Onshi
Mangaka: Young In-Wan(Story), Yang Kyung-Il(Art)
Publisher: Carlsen(Germany)
Original Publisher: Shogakukan
Published in: Sunday Gene-X
Price: 6,50€
Released so far: Volume 1-6
Release Schedule: Volume 7: January 2008
Additional Information: Completed with 17 volumes.

The sixth instalment of Shin Angyo Onshi finally found its way in my cold dead hands…wait, wrong quote. Anyway, I finally got off my lazy butt to purchase the manga together with Kyoko Karasuma volume 3 at my local comic store, which had remodelled its layout, arrangement and shelves. It looks pretty neat now and has much more space available; after all there will be more and more manga published. I actually forgot to take the manga with me and had to go back and fetch them, truly an annoyance. Now, after this random musing, I guess I should talk more about the actual manga and its contents.

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Manga: Astral Project
Mangaka: marginal(Story) & Syuji Takeya(Art)
Publisher: Carlsen Manga(Germany)
Original Publisher: Enterbrain
Published in: Comic Beam
Price: 7,50€
Released so far: Volume 1
Release Schedule: Volume 3: January 2008
Additional Information: Comes with a lacquer cover and ~230 pages.

Today I’m finally able to present you the second volume of the latest work by marginal aka Garon Tsuchiya. It already hit the stores a few weeks ago, but as university started again for me, I had different things to attend to. For those who like seinen manga, but haven’t decided to pick it up, I strongly recommend you do so. Feel free to check out my review of volume 1 here. The people who haven’t read volume 1 yet, be aware that this review might contain spoilerish elements, so refrain from reading if you don’t want any of that.

Once again, Norito Inoue supplied the beautiful cover design; sorry for not mentioning him before. I wasn’t able to find out anything except for what seems to be his website. This volume comes with a nice lacquer cover like before and about 220 pages of actual content. As usual, click on “Read More” for the review.
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Manga: Blade of the Immortal
Mangaka: Hiroaki Samura (Story & Art)
Publisher: Egmont (Germany)
Original Publisher: Kodansha
Published in: Afternoon
Price: 6,50€
Released so far: Volume 1-20
Release Schedule: Volume 21: March 2008
Additional Information: Comes with a six pages long extract from Afternoon, the magazine where BotI is serialised in.

While people in Japan are enjoying volume 21 of Blade of the Immortal, as well as the magazine chapters, we here on the other side of the world are catching up as much as possible with the samurai-fantasy epic by Hiroaki Samura.

I doubt Blade of the Immortal needs any introduction; every seinen aficionado worth his salt should at least heard of it. If you haven’t…start reading it. NOW. The new volume continues where volume 19 left us dangling: with fighting, fighting and more fighting. Instead of complaining about this arc, like some people seemed to have done, I certainly don’t find it disagreeable. I love the blood and gore, especially when they are as dynamic and gruesome as Samura draws them. Read more about the award winning manga after the cut.
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