A Glimmer of Hope

Wolfsmund 03As the arctic vortex continues to loom heavily over most of North America this winter, many of us should be thankful we have it somewhat better than the cast of Mitsuhisa Kuji’s historical fantasy Wolfsmund. If previous volumes have been an indication for what is in store for the rest of this series, things are quite bleak in the Swiss Alps. With the Wolf’s Maw leading a cold war against the Alpine Cantons, hearts and economies are in desperate need of thawing.

Yet even with Bailiff Wolfram’s smile haunting the cast’s dreams, somehow, In the third volume of Wolfsmund hope is in the air. The time has come. The Cantons are now ready to take back what was taken from them. And they will be undertaking all this from all imaginable fronts. And Kuji goes through tremendous lengths to present the vanguard in a bright light.

Now this would not be Wolfsmund if everything came up roses, would it? I doubt Kuji’s mentor, Kentaro Miura, or their collective fans would appreciate taking such simple measures. So there will be a bit of heartbreak to endure. But what does change for the positive is an outlook that is not as oppressive. Instead, what we get to witness is revolution…manga style!

Read You Like a Book

Flowers of Evil 8As the old year came to a close, one title shined brightly as a unique visual and narrative experience – The Flowers of Evil anime. With its unusual artistic direction, thoughtful soundtrack and cloy pacing the work caught the attention of a significant segment of the animation community and also rekindled America’s fascination with Shuzo Oshimi’s source material.

Now in its eighth volume, the current cast of Oshimi’s shonen drama briefly takes a turn away from the angsty tension that was so thick for the first six or seven volumes in favor of a slightly more optimistic outlook. And at the core of this new perspective is Takao, who has found a new reason to come out of his shell. Once again motivated by the written word, his hunger for storytelling has opened his eyes to those around him. And all the while those around him who are witness to his blooming are seeing him in a different light. But has he learned anything from his past? Can the youth, who has experienced so much already, fully comprehend where he previously went astray? Will he continue to be a ghost and tail shadows those around him, or will he make a new narrative in his life’s story when adversity raises its head again?

Now moving into its final arc, The Flowers of Evil continues to inspire debate amongst comic readers globally. While not standard shonen material, its cast and the way they gradually grow and mature has captivated a community looking for the next evolution in manga.

Summer Countdown

Summer Wars Part 2It may be the heart of winter in the Northern Hemisphere right now, but that will not prevent us from releasing works that will remind us of the warmth and excitement that is bound to come around once summer returns. And this time Vertical will inspire hope and heat by releasing the final thrilling volume of Mamoru Hosoda and Iqura Sugimoto’s SUMMER WARS.

Inspired by the multiple award-winning animated feature film, the Summer Wars manga takes many of the anime’s cues but builds on them by diving a little deeper into the cyber-world of OZ. Drawn in heartfelt detail by Sugimoto and full of the many critical beats that made the original so timeless, the two-part Summer Wars manga stands well on its own as entertainment more than capable of warming hearts and creating smiles in this coldest time of the manga calendar.

Reconfiguring the Space Opera

Knights of Sidonia vol. 6Now in its sixth volume Tsutomu Nihei’s science-fiction showpiece Knights of Sidonia continues to shock and inspire, through its thoughtful artistry and well-plotted story-building. And as the series begins to place on many Best of 2013 lists while videos of its animated TV series are repeatedly distributed on the internet, readers of the source material can experience a turning point in this epic’s narrative.

Nagate Tanikaze and his fellow Garde pilots know they are the vanguard in the fight for survival against the Gauna. Every time they sortie, the likelihood they will return to their homes becomes less and less likely. And when dealing with whole clusters of Gauna the odds become even more minute. So when Nagate and crew face off against the most recent evolution of the Gauna defense mechanism, it does not come as a shock to see mass destructions on both sides of the conflict. How the survivors deal with the tragedy and the aftermath will be critical as repairing a mobile suit, which adds plenty to this already engrossing drama.

Whether being read for the space opera or the unique twist on a gender-bending harem comedy, Nihei’s Knights of Sidonia satisfies in ways photosynthetic organisms can never fully realize.

Beauty and her Beast

pinkOver the last year plus, Vertical has embarked on a very unique publishing endeavor. With an aim to continue to challenge and grow the market, Vertical took it upon themselves to branch out to a segment of the Japanese market that has long been underserved within the English reading manga community – josei manga (Japanese women’s comics).

Our latest is a gem from the early days of josei. Originally penned in the late 80’s, PINK is Kyoko Okazaki’s first breakthrough and is often credited by critics globally as one of the most important women’s comics of its time. A product of the conclusion of the Japanese economic bubble PINK delves into a life of a young office lady with ambitions of living an ideal life – a comfortable life with some luxuries, some romance, wealth, health, independence and a pet crocodile.

To accomplish this lead character Yumi splits her time between working in an office and working under the sheets. But having everything you wish does not make a happy life. And when family and financial matters impact her oh so comfortable life improvisation is required. The results may seem to come up roses on the surface, but inside may not be so pretty.

Thoughtful, shocking and full of melancholy, PINK is as colorful as it was twenty-five years ago. And given the state of manga in English is needed here more than ever!

Fantasy Unleashed

From the New World vol. 1In 2006, Vertical introduced the English reading world to Yusuke Kishi. Already an established horror and science-fiction author having earned a number of awards in his native Japan, Kishi’s star has begun to rise exponentially as of late. Not long after the English release of his work Crimson Labyrinth, Kishi’s works would reach new heights with the release of From the New World. This two-part fantasy novel would take the sci-fi and fantasy world by storm, culminating in the author receiving the Japan Science-Fiction Grand Prize in 2008. Now a few years later, Vertical is proud to release the manga adaptation of this renowned work, penned by Toru Oikawa.

In From the New World Kishi introduces readers to a dystopian future. Mankind is near its brink, and society has declined over the past thousand years. However, even though the population has been decimated, over those many years humanity has developed something that may eventually prevent it from losing more ground – magick. Akin to ESP but much more advanced, magick is a form of psychokenisis that has developed in most of this era’s youth. Magick protects the small communities that remain from enemy attacks; it aides in technology development; and is critical to the education of those who survive.

In this first volume of the manga series, readers will follow a group of six youths as they begin their magick training. While their exams are not very complicated, how they each are able to control their abilities will eventually determine their futures in this world were only the strong are allowed to survive.

Rendered with detail, and purposed for action and excitement by Toru Oikawa, the From the New World manga brings the prose of Yusuke Kishi to life as we have never seen before. It is a must read for fantasy readers and shonen manga fans alike!

New Media Sensation

Summer Wars part 1Over the last ten years or so, the world of Japanese animation has been a state of transition. While the traditional television industry has begun to fail the industry, film continues to be something of a financial challenge. Production costs prevent most studios from reaching the level of technological quality seen in other parts of the world. However, Japan does still see plenty of accomplishments from the writing and directorial realms of animation, and one of its rising stars is Mamoru Hosoda.

The director of the acclaimed The Girl Who Leapt Through Time firmly established himself as a member of the young vanguard of anime with the beloved Summer Wars. Now adapted into a graphic novel set, Hosoda’s Summer Wars is rendered in black and white by veteran comic artist Iqura Sugimoto (Variante). Iqura takes Hosoda’s vision and realizes it in a way that can only work in a comic, free of the budgetary restrictions of animation and also allowing for more perspectives and points of view as it can be visualized from the eyes of different characters in and out of the virtual world.

So why not relive one of the more beloved animated movies in recent memory. Take a trip to Ueda and join Kenji as he infiltrates the Jinnouchi clan in this two volume adaptation of Mamoru Hosoda’s Summer Wars.

The Flowers Have Blossomed

Flower of Evil 7Over the years, Vertical has consistently challenged the North American manga market with eclectic and significant graphic works from Japan. Having such luminaries as Tezuka, Takemiya and Kon under our umbrella has set us apart from the rest as the vanguard for quality. Now it is becoming clear to us, and to a growing audience that we have uncovered a new challenger, whose latest work is setting a community ablaze with his very personal narrative and surprisingly memorable characters.

Shuzo Oshimi’s The Flowers of Evil snuck up on a large number of people when it made its English language debut in 2012. Now in it’s seventh volume it is poised to shock again, albeit with a new tone and attitude that is more than appropriate to the story’s growth and development throughout its acclaimed run.

In this most recent volume, readers are treated to the climax of this series’ second arc. And upon experiencing its shocking conclusion, we are then introduced to a more modern more familiar setting with a more mature Kasuga now in high school. The tone has changed, as well. But deep inside, waiting for the appropriate moment, is something hot, dark and compelling. Making it one of the most anticipated releases in our growing catalog.

Owner of a Lonely Heart

Sickness Unto Death 01In the realm of manga, few translated comics have taken on the human condition. Concepts of despair, solitude, and regret are often ignored in favor of ideas like violence, lust and adventure. Manga like most media is often looked at for catharsis and particularly in the world of translated comics, they are aimed at an often impressionable youth audience.

Takahiro Seguchi’s Sickness Unto Death challenges those beliefs. His two-part story pulls back the curtain on a culture that is often seen to be consumed by despair – modern day Japan. Japan’s relationship with suicide and isolation is well documented and can often be seen exhibited even in the business and political realms. And Seguchi reveals his take on the topic, through the writings of Hikaru Asada and Soren Kierkegaard, to present a case where a young woman full of potential and life, can fall prey to doubt as she finds her sense of hope dashed.

Emiru may appear to be a delicate flower; a frail beauty with a mysterious aura to her. But something dark has consumed this young, once award-winning violinist. With the help of a young psych student, readers are allowed to see the what lurks inside her. And what has developed her unique sickness.

Subtle, dark and thoughtful, Sickness Unto Death is a harrowing tale of what it is like to truly lose it all.

A Wave of Memories

Tropic of the SeaThe world was robbed a young talent when Satoshi Kon succumbed to cancer two years ago. After directing genre defining works such as Perfect Blue and Paprika, the man will long be remembered as a creative mind who was more than willing to dive into the human psyche through his films and television endeavors.

But before he ever took the helm of an animated project, Kon was a cartoonist with an apt pen and a flare for the fantastic. Trained as an assistant to the manga legend Katsuhiro Otomo, and a part of the direct linage of artists inspired by the science-fiction comic master Moebius, Kon’s works are rich in visual detail and often have hints of not only the surreal imagery of his films but also the youthful power drawn from his masters.

Tropic of the Sea (“Kaikisen” in Japanese) is Kon’s first feature-length work. Penned in the late 80’s while Kon while still in college it is a challenging title that looks at what continues to be a topic of concern in Japan today—population shift and civic development. However, in typical Kon form there is a bit of a twist behind this dilemma. In this case, the legend of a mermaid’s egg looms over a small Japanese fishing village and potential development could end up not only threaten whatever lurks in the sea but also mean the ruin of this small and tight-knit community.

Mythos, nature and economics all come into play in this richly drawn one-shot. And as an added bonus, Vertical’s editions includes eight portraits drawn by Kon for the serialized edition along with six-page afterword from the comic artist as he reflects on his days as a young director and his transition to the animation industry from the manga world.