Dec 31, 2013

2013 Crimson Flower/ Omari's Sister Retrospective

2013 was a tremendous year at Crimson Flower.  Thank you to everyone who volunteered, purchased stuff from our store, and participated in our community! Let's get straight to the data!

New Series Begun in 2013
  • "Kyuuketsuki no Uruwashiki Kekkon" ("Lovely Vampire Weddings")
  • "Kanojo ni Naru Hi"
  • "Kanojo ni Naru Hi -- Another"
  • "Many"
  • "Nanatsu no Kururi"
  • "Ao no Souyoku" ("A Pair of Blue Wings")
  • "Magical Change"
  • "Baraou no Souretsu"
  • "Kisu ni Renzoku"
  • "Lip Smoke"
  • "LLLL"
  • "Haikyo Shoujo"
  • "Kerberos in the Silver Rain"
Series we Finished in 2013
  • "Many"
  • "Kyuuketsuki no Uruwashiki Kekkon" ("Lovely Vampire Weddings")
  • "Kanojo ni Naru Hi"
  • "Kemono Kingdom -- Zoo"
  • "Furou Kyoudai"
  • "LLLL"
  •  "Hakamori Majo Bianca"
  • "Haikyo Shoujo"
  • "Lily"
  • "Fushigi no Maria"
  • "Boku no Hitsugi de Bansan o"
  • "Detarame Mousouryoku Opera"
Top 10 Releases of 2013
  1. "Kanojo ni Naru Hi" Chp 1
  2. "Lovely Vampire Weddings" Story 1
  3. "Lip Smoke" Chp 1
  4. "Lovely Vampire Weddings" Story 2
  5. "Eikyuu Shoujo"
  6. "Lovely Vampire Weddings" Story 3
  7. "Mayonaka ni Binetsu"
  8. "Netsugen wa Koko"
  9. "Magnolia" Chp 33
  10. "Piano Lessons for a Adult"
(Looks like 2013 was the year of the oneshot for us.)

Top 10 Visiting Countries
  1. US
  2. Canada
  3. France
  4. Germany
  5. Australia
  6. Indonesia
  7. Philippines
  8. Malaysia
  9. Italy
  10. Spain

My Favorite Unlicense Shoujo and Josei Manga of 2013

This seems like a pointless list for me to make because most of the unlicensed manga I love I make into Crimson Flower projects. So I thought I'd talk about some of those and a few titles that are on my radar. I'm limiting this list to shoujo and josei since the only non-shoujo/josei title I bought was "Kerberos in the Silver Rain". All right, so lets get on with it!

Favorite New Series/Oneshot Compilation of 2013
  1. "Baraou no Souretsu" by Aya Kanno
  2. "Kanojo ni Naru Hi" by Akane Ogura
  3. "Haikyo Shoujo" by Tsukiji Nao
  4. "Lip Smoke" by Mai Nishikata
  5. "Hanaibara" by Mio Kawahara (currently being worked on for CF) 
  6. "Kanojo ni Naru Hi -- Another" by Akane Ogura
  7. "Boku no Hitsugi de Bansan o" by Nari Kusakawa
  8. "Kisu ni Renzoku" by Yuu Toyota
  9. "Honjitsu, Akane Hiyori" -- Today's Weather is Akane by Yui Sakuraba (planned for CF in 2014)
  10. "Jinrou Chronicle" by Lay Mutsuki
Notes:

"Hanaibara" -- An illustrator, Hassuku Yanase,  moves into a country house his eccentric grandfather left to him.  Living in the house are an erotic fiction writer, Soyogo Muro,  and his younger sister, Kanako Muro, who he uses as his model for his works.  Yanase decides to be the illustrator for Soyogo's latest work. (Okay, technically this is seinen since it ran in Avarus).

"Today's Weather is Akane" -- Akane promises to marry Shu when he returns from abroad. Akane is expected to continue on her father's traditional Japanese restaurant, but when Shu returns, he wants to open a Western style restaurant instead.  Meanwhile, Akane's father bought Natsuhiko, who is ALWAYS irritable, into the family business for the obvious reason... heh-heh... It's a typical historical shoujo love triangle, but it's very done well while keeping the drama to a minimum. This is a wonderful easygoing short series that I hope CF will bring to you all in 2014.

Honorable Mentions:
  • "Anniversary" bu Yu Uemori
  • "Bread and Butter" by Hinako Ashihara
  • "Princess Ledahlia" by You Higuri

Favorite Oneshots of 2013 (Translated this year)
  1. "Boushi no Ue no Oka" by Nao Tsukiji
  2. "Puzzle" by Morie Satoshi
  3. "Tosagare Renren" by Nari Kusakawa
  4. "Blushing Boy MacArthur" by Lammy Uchimiya
  5. "Kutsunashihime" by Akanatsu
The most fun project I worked on this year -- "Lovely Vampire Weddings". The artwork was too lovely and the stories were infectiously sweet.

I know many of your have the chance to read a lot more unlicensed titles that I did, so please share some of the glorious finds on you favorite list.

Dec 30, 2013

My Favorite Licensed Manga of 2013

Here's the list the licensed manga from this year I read and I liked the most.  This isn't a best manga list. I feel in no way capable of making those kinds of judgements, nor do I read much of anything that experts would consider "best".  Actually, I was hard pressed to name any new licensed manga I really liked this year, so these are the works I sorta enjoyed, but I can't say I'm cheerleading for any of these series.  The ongoing and other manga I read, though, I loved.

I decided to separate licensed manga from unlicensed manga, so I'll start with licensed stuff first.  The lists are in alphabetical particular order.

My favorite new manga of 2013
  • "Another" by Yukito Ayatsuji and Hiro Kiyohara
  • "Ayako" (the super spy half of story) by Osamu Tezuka
  • "Heart of Thomas" by Moto Hagio
  • "Inu x Boku SS" by Coco Fujiwara
  • "Utsubora" - The Story of a Novelist by Asumiko Nakamura
  • "Vinland Saga"by Makoto Yukimura (Hubby's pick)

Disappointing new manga of 2013
  • "Alice in the Country of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz" by QuinRose and Mamenosuke Fujimaru
  • "Are you Alice" by Ikumi Katagiri and Ai Ninomiya
  • "Crimson Empire"by QuinRose and Hazuki Futaba
  • "Knights of Sidonia" by Tsutomu Nihei
  • "Midnight Secretary" by Tomu Ohmi
  • "Pink" by Kyoko Ozaki
  • "Sweet Rein" by Sakura Tsukuba"
  • "Wolfmund" by Mitushisa Kuji
 Favorite ongoing and other manga I read in 2013
  • "Blank Slate" by Aya Kanno 
  • "Bride's Story" by Kaoru Mori
  • "Olympos" by Aki
  • "Skip Beat" by Yoshiki Nakamura
  • "The Betrayal Knows my Name" by Hotaru Odagiri
Series I dropped in 2013
  • "Attack on Titan" by Hajime Isayama
  • "Dawn of the Arcana" by Rei Toma
  • "Dengeki Daisy" by Kyousuka Motomi 
  • "Kamisama Kiss" by Julietta Suzuki
  • "Oresama Teacher" by Izumi Tsubaki
  • "Vampire Knight" by Hino Matsuri

Dec 28, 2013

"LLLL" Chapter 4 (End) + Extras!!!

(W00t! Another series completed!!!!)
Here's the final chapter of "LLLL"!  Again, many thanks to Aricania for marathon typesetting.  She did a beautiful job.  Also thanks to the Peonine for her wonder translation, Zenny for script editing, and Akire, Julia, Silver Lunar, Lucy, Kumiko, and Ichigo Stars for cleaning and redrawing the series.

This was such a lovely series and the extras topped it all off. I really liked the gentleness of the story and the artwork. I would love to see a live-action or animated adaptation of this short series. Because I liked this series so much, I'm looking into other works by Tei Ataru.  I hope we can feature more of her works in the future.

If you like this series, please consider purchasing it!  The tankoubon is lovely! It includes several color pages and extras.

Amazon JP/ YesAsia

And now onto the release!

2013 Shoujo Manga Trends and 2014 predictions

Let's talk about some of the trends we saw in shoujo manga this year! Admittedly my scope is limited since I don't read the major shoujo magazine from Shueisha, Shogukukan, and Kodansha (Margaret, Sho-comi, Cookie, Cheese, Betsucomi, Ciao, Ribbon, The Dessert...etc...). Please feel free to inform about trends I didn't catch in the comments section.  Anyhow, here's what I noticed (in no particular order).

  • Bakeries and Patissiers! There's the latest one I love "Bread & Butter", the newest from Maki Minami -- Komomo Confiserie and countless other oneshots and short series. This is also a trend I noticed in josei.
  • Bromances -- There were lots of short series about guys in none BL relationships like: "Danshi Gurashi", "Dansui", and "Ore Ore".
  • Age Gap Romances (Oyaji-moe) -- "Ojikoi", "Lip Smoke", and the debut of Oyajism magazine are examples of this trend.
  • Desert Themed oneshots and short series -- There were quite a few in the Hakusensha publications in the second half this year.  We'll start releasing some of those in 2014
  • Princes -- this is something I saw rising this Fall.  There were a bunch of Prince themed oneshots and short series in the Hakusensha publication, and Prince magazine started a new section of Princess magazine call "Prince" that will appear quarterly.
  • Hakusensha has been on a tear this year introducing new shoujo publications that would appeal to women over 20. The new publications are Ane Lala and Bunkei Shoujo.  I've also noticed the content in the Lala Specials (Themed Lalas) and The Hana to Yume are becoming more mature.
  • Oneshot furoku! Betsuma was the magazine to get in 2013 if you like oneshots. As part of their anniversary they include Betsuma Two, which included some very inventive oneshots and short series. Asuka and a few of the other shoujo mags also had nice oneshot compilation freebies.
  • Long Form oneshots! I can't tell whether this is something that being done more or whether I'm just noticing them more.
2014 Predictions!
  • As publishers grope to find create new fads and subgenres, I expect to see more experimental short series and oneshots.

Dec 26, 2013

My Ten Favorite Anime Series of 2013

It's the end of the year, so it's time to make summary lists! Here's my list of my 10 favorite anime series of 2013. It's too hard for me to rank them, so I'll just put them in alphabetical order.

  1. Arpeggio of Blue Steel -- I thought this was going to be some brain dead moe harem show, but I really fell in love with all the ship/girls personalities and Gunzou.
  2. Blast of Tempest -- The endless string of twists kept me on the edge of my seat to the end. I loved the bromance and the romances too.
  3. Gargentia -- Chamber!!!! Enough said.
  4. Hataraku Maoh -- I love all Maoh show. This one had the best mix of humor, romance, and adventure of all the Maoh shows this year.
  5. Kyoukai no Kanata -- Despite the crap ending, I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of series. I hope there's a manga that explains the ending better.
  6. Red Data Girl -- This was my favorite low key show.  I like the gentleness of the characters and the romance.
  7. Servant x Service -- All of the characters in this series were golden.
  8. Silver Spoon -- It was funny and I learned a lot about farming. Too bad the first season was only 11 episodes. I think we annoyed the neighbors the most laughing at this series.
  9. Unbreakable Machine Doll -- Raishin!!! Enough said. (Nobody wins the "Raishin" drinking game.)
  10. Valvrave -- The best animated space opera train wreck ever. It was the next "Lelouche". I wonder what will be the next "Valvrave". L-Elf forever.
I can't do a worst list because there are countless anime that I could not get past the first episode.

What I just Read: "Inu x Boku SS" Volume 1

Title: Inu x Boku SS
Mangaka: Cocoa Fujiwara
US Publisher: Yen Press

Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble

First Impressions:
I really like the anime, but I wonder will I get bored retreading the same story. Nope, I'm not bored at all.  I still love these characters.  I'm not comfortable with the garter belts. Why did the mangaka have to do that?

Breakdown:

Artwork -- B: It doesn't especially standout. The story feels more shoujo-ish than shounen, so I guess the garter belts are needed to add a moe touch??? I don't like how the teenage girl's faces are drawn to make them look like 6-year-old children.  But again, this must be the moe thing. But taking the artwork as a whole, I'm neither offended or impressed, so I guess it's good enough.

Presentation -- B-: The presentation doesn't really stand out either. If I hadn't watched the anime, I would have never bought this book because the cover makes it look like moe manga with borderline questionable content.  I imagine marketing this is tough because you want to catch those guys into moe, but the story clearly is more geared to a female audience. (Personally, I would have pushed the shoujo aspects.) Moving on... the translation reads smoothly, but there are no color pages and there's nothing special about the format of the book.  Considering this, I wonder why the book is priced $10.99. It's not a good value. I recommend looking for a discount.

Story -- A: This first volume is more about establishing the characters and the setting.  The two main characters, Ririchiyo and Miketsukami, are very well introduced.  Ririchiyo is rich girl who isolates  herself with cruel words rather than suffer repeated hurt from being prejudged only by her family's reputation, and Miketsukami is very manipulative man in the guise of a masochist.  He acts like he unconditionally loves Ririchiyo, but there are hints that something's fishy, especially in Miketsukami's past. The interaction between Miketsukami and Ririchiyo puts me on edge in a good way.  I want Ririchiyo to have a true friend, but Miketsukami sometimes seems like the crazed-stalker type. The other characters are interesting too.  They are an assortment of weirdos that we quickly see have the potential to be a makeshift family for one another.

Overall -- B+: Don't let the cover fool you. This series has heavy shoujo elements.  I don't understand the minds of moe lovers, so I can't say whether this would appeal to those readers.  However, for people who are strictly into shounen, this is probably not for you.  Shoujo lovers, you must get this!  It's got all the master and servant goodness you love!

Dec 24, 2013

"LLLL" Chapter 3

With help from Aricania and Ichigo Stars, we are jamming through the rest of "LLLL".  The final chapter will be out soon after Christmas Day.

This chapter centers around Oregano's relationship with her brother Ginger. I kinda want to see this played out some more, but this was good.

And now onto the release!

Dec 22, 2013

What I Just Read: "Sweet Rain" by Sakura Tsukuba

Title: Sweet Rein / Yoroshiku Master
Artist: Sakura Tsukuba
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble

First Impressions:
I could have sworn I read this.  I've even translated a couple of chapters, yet I don't remember any of these stories.  Hmm... that's not a good sign. Ugh... not the magical boy who loves his master on sight unconditionally for no good reason thing again...

Breakdown --
Artwork -- B: I've read too much Sakura Tsukuba, so all the artwork looks very familiar.  All of her male main characters have the same face.  The sameness is boring, but I do like the fluidity of the lines and the pages aren't overwhelmed with screentones and sparkles.

Presentation -- C:  There are a ridiculous number of ads at the end of the book. Setting that aside,  the translation reads smoothly, though I did catch a couple of typos. Most of the sounds effects are complete gibberish (VUP, VUM, VHM, PWOFF... and so on...), which drove me nuts. I longed for the Japanese sound effects so I wouldn't have to look at this nonsense.  I really would have loved some color pages, because as you can see by the cover, Tsukuba's color artwork is gorgeous. Also, I hate the title localization. It makes it sound like some bad bondage story.

Story -- C: This series started as infrequent oneshots in Lala DX. If I remember correctly, it became a regular series that ran in Lala DX at or after chapter 3. This is evident in the first two chapters. The magical boy who unconditionally loves his master trope is getting old for me. Along with that, the characters are quite bland.  Kurumi is a good girl who's lonely and that's it. Kaito is happy and hyper and that's it (he is the personification of a dog.). When I first read this 6 or 7 years ago, it was fresher to me because I hadn't read that much manga yet, but since I don't remember much about the story, it must have not left a strong impression on me the first time. Rereading it, I understand why it didn't stick. There are no surprises in this story.  The beginnings of a story start in chapter 3, and it seems to simply be an exploration of whether Kaito actually loves Kurumi of his own freewill or is his love hard-coded because of the master and servant relationship they have. It's not like we don't know the answer to the question, which makes the question pointless. This manga is pure sugar, which is fine if that's what you want. But for me, all sugary good and no evil is very boring.

The oneshot at the end, "Sweet Bite Mark", is more interesting than the series, but the ending is disgusting.  I don't know why it had to go there other than for shock value. Yuck...

Overall -- C:  This is another thoroughly mediocre manga series, but I think it would be an excellent starter series to introduce shoujo to new manga readers.  I also think if you like troupy cotton-candy-fluff shoujo, you'll love this.  If you've read too much shoujo like I have, you may want to skip this. I feel this stands no where near Tsukuba's other series "Land of the Blindfolded" and "Penguin Revolution". (Honestly, it's like night and day.)

Dec 21, 2013

"Wild Wing" Chapter 2

It's been well over a year since we released the "Wild Wing" oneshot.  This is one of those oneshots that unexpectedly became a series.  Rest assured, we'll have the third and final chapter out very soon (hopefully within the next two weeks).

Anyhow, the continuation of this series is pretty good.  I think this chapter is better than the first chapter.  There a bit of cliffhanger at the end, so I'm eager to get to the final chapter too.

A big thanks goes out to Silver Lunar for cleaning and redrawing this beast (with a little help from Ichigo Stars). Also thanks to Aricania for some last minute typesetting.

Dec 20, 2013

"LLLL" Chapter 2

While we have typesetters available, I decided to change the schedule and release the rest of "LLLL" and "Wild Wing" since they are already translated and cleaned. In the background we are working on our regular monthly releases, so January should have a bunch of releases.  Next week we may not have any releases because of the Christmas holiday, but we will make an effort to finish these two series by the end of the month.

We continue on with "LLLL". This story is so nice and pleasant, but at the same time quite moving in places.  I also feel some underlying the tension building.  The nuance on page 17 is pretty amazing -- YIKES! I had to take a triple look before I caught what going on. And then there's the foreshadowing with Miss Carla. I hope Oregano and Raven will be all right.  *fretting* Haha!  Anyhow, we'll try not to leave you in suspense too long.

And now onto the release!

Dec 17, 2013

What I read Last Week: Manga Reviews!

I did quite a bit of pleasure readying last week, so I have four books to write about now.  I'll do full reviews for two book and quick review for the other two as they are follow on volumes to series I've been reading on an ongoing basis.

Title: Summer Wars, Part 1
Artists and Story:  Mamoru Hosoda and Iqura Sugimoto
US Publisher: Vertical
ISBN: 9781030130150
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble

First Impression:  The cover makes it look like slice-of-life. I don't like slice of life, but this is Vertical, so I bet this cover totally misrepresents the actual train wreck of a story inside.  Whoa! What?!  This isn't a trainwreck?!!! It's actually a nice slice-of-life story with sci-fi elements.  I really like this!

Breakdown:

Artwork -- A: It's nice and simple.  The facial expressions are telling, the characters look distinct, the characters actually look their age, and backgrounds are nicely detailed. The color pages are really pretty (it helps that I love sunflowers).

Presentation -- B+:  I love the front and back covers. They are very telling of the story -- this is a slice-of-life story with sci-fi elements.  The color pages are gorgeous and the translation reads smoothly.  The drawback is the lettering. It looks amateurish.  I don't like manga with cased fonts used for the main dialog.  On top of that, the line spacing is too wide on some pages.  I think the inconsistency of line spacing is what bothered me the most.

Story -- B+: This is a typical loser-boy pursues a girl who he thinks is out of his league shounen story.  The main character is a loser even though his math skills are second in the nation, and the girl is just pretty and popular.  What's best about the story in this part is the interaction of the main character, Kenji, and his love interest's grandmother. The grandmother is the star of this part, and I wish there was some back story about her.  The sci-fi elements involve computer hacking in a virtual world. I just accepted the representation of the mechanics of this world because if it were realistically represented, it would be boring.  Anyhow, on the whole the pacing is good and Kenji and Wabisuke's interaction with the grandmother are quite interesting.

Overall -- B+:  This is a pleasant read with enough mystery to keep the reader wanting more. I highly recommend this title to Crimson Flower readers.
-------------------------------------------------
Title: Crimson Empire
Story and Artist: Quinrose and Hazuki Futaba
US Publisher: Seven Seas
ISBN: 978-1937867232
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble

First Impressions: Meh... it looks like typical Quinrose.  The first chapter is really interesting. Can we continue with Sheila's back story, please? Meh... who are all these bishies that are being thrown into the story? What the heck is going on? Where did these bishies come from? @_@

Dec 12, 2013

Where to read manga online LEGALLY

I've been stewing on this post for a while, but RL and excitement at MU got in the way.  Finally I have time!  This post is mostly going to be about Japanese websites, but I'll throw in the few English websites I know about first.

English websites

Mangabox --

This is the newest free manga websites.  As of now it hosts manga from Kodansha JP (not the same as Kodansha USA). New titles and chapters are available multiple times a week.  The translation quality is generally good.  The title that are available now are shounen and seinen. Here are the series that interested me:
  • District Hakkenshi [T-8]
  • Araidoki
  • The Chronicle of Ayoka
I'm still exploring the series on this site.  I'll Tweet the title when I happen upon something I like. This site is also available in Japanese. The Japanese site has more titles.

Crunchyroll --

This site has a paid option and a free option, and as of now, only has Kodansha JP shounen and seinen titles.  If you can't afford to pay, then you can only read the latest chapter of the titles they have available.  The backlog will not be available.  There are many popular shounen titles available like "Attack on Titan" (the back catalog is not available for subscribers), "Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches", and "The Seven Deadly Sins".  I have a subscription to the service, but none of the current titles interest me. The translation quality on this site varies.

Various --

All of the US manga publishers have some sort of mobile app, flash-based browser viewer, or presence in online bookstores.  In the apps and on the websites the first chapters of all of the series are free to read.


Japanese Websites

This is only a listing of the few Japanese websites I visit often. I'm sure there are many more. Most of these websites have both PC and mobile versions of their readers.

  • Polaris Comics -- SHOUJO!!!! But not typical shoujo. Polaris has a variety of shoujo series and oneshots, most of which I've been loving. I have been buying the tankoubons as they come out.  This is where "Kisu ni Renzoku" runs.
  • Comic Meteor -- This is primarily shounen (it's like Polaris' twin brother), but most of the series would also appeal to females.
  • Hana to Yume Online -- Lots of shoujo favorites are there like "Ojikoi". There are also early chapters of many popular Hana to Yume and The Hana to Yume series.
  • Lala Melody Online -- This has original and content that has also appeared in Lala, Lala DX, Ane Lala and Melody magazines. Right now, there are some nice oneshots to read.
I will add to these lists as more websites launch (I'll add the links to one of the columns of this blog). Lucky for us, Japan is launching more and more legal online manga websites every month, and a few of them offer English versions.  If you know of other LEGAL websites to read manga, please leave the name of the website and a text version of the URL (not a link) in the comments sections.

Repost: Manga Rambling

First of all, I hope everyone in the US had a tasty and safe Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was small here with just me, my husband, and Omari. We fried turkey legs and had all the usual sides -- mashed potatoes, yams, southen style collards, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.  Everything was insanely tasty. (I will admit to being proud of my home cooking. My grandmother taught me well.) Hopefully our leftovers will last us through the weekend.

Onto to the manga rambling! I've been having some evolving thoughts as I've been exposed to more kinds of manga and reading bits and pieces about manga licensing in the US.  I've always been on the fence about scanlation, but I think I'm moving off that fence. In face of the knowledge that all but a very few series and oneshots are ever going to get licensed in the US, I now believe scanlation has its place in spreading manga love. I still have problems with money not going back the original artist directly by way of scanlation. And I still hate manga aggregators and people who post Japanese raws to the public Internet. They are horrible parasites that are killing the manga industry and they need to go away. But let's not beat that dead horse further.

I've come to the conclusion that as a customer, I should support what I want more of with my dollars.  Supporting US publishers for stuff I don't want out of obligation or "pity purchases" does not get me what I want. Instead the US publishers take it as that content is what readers want more of and then publish more of that. Since the kind of shoujo and josei I like are considered poison to the US publishers, it makes no sense for me to put my money into the seinen, shounen, moe, high school love train, and low quality smutty shat that the US publishers are offering in order to get what I want. Rather my money would be best spent on encouraging the Japanese publishers. And so this is what I've decided to do. I am now almost exclusively buying Japanese manga. I'm still buying Skip Beat and checking out some of the special hardcover editions of classic manga, but otherwise there is no other content I'm interested in.

I know the vast majority of you can't read Japanese. As part of getting off the scanlation fence, I'd now say go read scanlations if you have no access to the a licensed version in your language.  HOWEVER if you read the scanlation, please let the Japanese publishers know that you want more content that you like by purchasing as many of the Japanese manga that you can afford.  It's okay if you can only afford one volume of your favorite series. Just make the gesture and own a piece your favorite series.  Let the publisher and the artist know that you like what they are doing and you want more.  I also think that if you want localized manga anywhere near the extent of a manga aggregator, it's gonna come from Japan and not a US publisher.

Buying Japanese manga is easier than ever, and now with the weakened yen, Japanese manga is now cheaper than localized manga, and this includes shipping! Here are some websites to purchase Japanese manga:
I use Amazon JP and YesAsia for online purchases, and I go to Sanseido, Kinokuniya, and Bookoff physical bookstores.

Anyhow those are my current thoughts on manga. Go out and enjoy scanlations, but let the US and Japanese publishers know what you want more of by voting with your dollars. (In other words "Princess Jellyfish" lovers, go read the scanlations without guilt, but at least buy a few volumes of the Japanese manga to let the Japanese publisher know that you want it and to let the mangaka know that her work is loved.)

Dec 7, 2013

Manga Updates Link Removal Update

If you're following the matter, MU posted an update on the group link removal issue: LINK. I guess it is a legit complaint.  I don't know enough about copyright law to say whether what happened was valid or not, but it's clear to me the link removal request only benefited the manga aggregators. It's is clear that the publishing organization that made the DMCA complaint does not understand the manga scanlation world, and as a consequence drove eyeballs to to the entities that they are trying to curb.  Not that any of this is going to help. Honestly, publishers need to focus on publishing and offer potential customers something better than scanlation. If they want to beat the manga aggregators, then they need to become  manga aggregators with an ad-free subscription service and free with ads.

That said... scanlators need to stop translating series when they become licensed. Granted I'm guilty of starting scanlation with Arakure and Ouran, both of which were licensed at the time. At the time I justified my activities by saying the publishers were 2 years behind the Japanese releases. At the time I believed most people were like me and bought the licensed releases when they became available and were using the scanlations to keep current with Japan.  That may have been more the case 6 or 7 years ago, but I'm not so sure that's the habit of folks who came into manga exclusively through the manga aggregators.

Still, even if scanlations for licensed series weren't available, I'm not sure licensed readership would improve.  The truth is, many of us simply don't have the extra cash to spend on manga. And given the overhead cost involved with bringing manga to the US, it makes me wonder whether selling manga is a viable business outside of the blockbuster shounen and moe manga series in this down economy. I know none of the series that are and were done for this this blog have enough readership to justify the cost of licensing outside of J+K, which was licensed.

Anyhow, this is all of great interest to me because I've always believed that the publishers should ally with scanlators to spread the manga love profitably. But old media is old media, and because there are so many lawyers involved, all they know how to do is sue rather than innovate. It's sad, but that's the current reality. Fear not, though, it looks like we'll eventually get what we want from the Japanese publishers. If you haven't already, please check out Mangabox. I'm still evaluating Crunchyroll. So far they have 12 series that I don't care for and haven't added more to their roster. I also do not trust that their old media owners have readers in mind, but rather are more interested in serving their true customers which will be advertisers, which makes the readers the product they are selling and not the manga. If Crunchyroll becomes as useless as Hulu, I will be sad.

Dec 6, 2013

Recruitment: Crimson Flower Needs You

Winter Break help is needed for winter projects. You can volunteer temporarily for a few days or weeks, or you can stay on longer if you like.  Here's what we need!

  • Redraw artists for "Ore to Atashi no Kareshisama", "Pochamani", and oneshots.
  • Typesetters for "LLLL", "Wild Wing", "Magical Change", and oneshots
  • Skilled Proofreaders or copy editors for all projects.
  • Japanese to English Translators / Translation QC -- for oneshots (QC for all projects)
People who are interested in being a redraw artist or a typesetter, please have examples of past work ready.  Translation folks be ready to be tested. If you are interested in volunteering for any of these positions, please contact me, Kuroneko003, using the link at the top of the right hand column of the blog.

Dec 5, 2013

"Lip Smoke" Chapter 3

It's slow going now that we are into the holiday season. Hopefully we can get some extra help during the second half of the month for January and February releases.  For now, though, we'll go along at a leisurely pace. I've got some real life to deal with and hubby and I keep fighting seasonal colds and stomach flus T_T.

This is the Seta Porn chapter. That is all.

Onto the release!

Dec 4, 2013

News: Links to Scanlators Websites Removed from Manga Updates

Update:  Fix on Github (Install Greasemonkey to fix Firefox) -- LINK

Manga Updates has removed links to scanlator websites from their listings.  Here's a link to the explanation: Link

It is not clear who made the request and I don't understand how one entity can claim copyright over the entirety of mangadom.  I have my suspicions, but I'll keep quiet on it. For me it comes down to considering who benefits from the link removal.  Still, I don't think this will make much difference, since the lazy leechers already go to manga aggregators (cough) exclusively, and those who want to go to the scanlator's website already are and have set up bookmarks and feeds accordingly.

Fortunately, Manga Updates retains the links to groups' Twitter feeds and Facebook, so in our case, readers will have more direct access to the release posts through Twitter. In light of this, instead of Tweeting the Tumblr posts, I'll now Tweet the link to the release.  We will continue not having a Facebook presence.

Here are other ways you can keep up to date with our releases:

  • Crimson Flower's RSS Feed (LINK)
  • You can join the Crimson Flowers site using the "Join this site" link in the right column.
  • You receive email update for Bakeneko's Lair by subscribing on the website (LINK)
  • Bakeneko's Lair RSS (LINK)
  • Twitter: @CrimsonFlowerRe, @Bakenekos_Lair
  • Release Only Tumblr (LINK), Kuroneko003's Tumblr (LINK)
I'll format the Release Only Tumblr today, and start posting notifications there with the next release. I am also added project pages to this Tumblr page.

Hopefully this will not be too much of an inconvenience. And please, join us in one of the alternative routes like Twitter and Tumblr.

Dec 2, 2013

Dec 1, 2013

New Series: "Kisu ni Renzoku -- Kneel, and Obey a Kiss" by Yuu Toyota

Let's get December started! I've been waiting for seemingly FOREVER for this series to come out in tankoubon form.  It's been out as a free online comic for about a year, but the image quality is not what we like for our translations (and I don't like breaking DRM).  With that in mind, if you must spoil yourself, volume 2 is available in Japanese on the Polaris Comics website (LINK). Updates are never on time, so it's best to subscribe to the series RSS feed to keep up with the latest chapters.  If you would like to own you own copy of volume 1, which comes with extras and color pages not included in the webcomic, here are some purchase links:

Amazon JP/ YesAsia/ Honto

The tankoubon is really nice, so I encourage purchase if you really like this series.  Show Yuu Toyota some love!

Non-English Language Partners:
  • Spanish -- La Noche de los Caidos
  • Portuguese -- Neko Otaku

Anyhow, let's get on with the release of this cute series!