art by Luka Kobachi
Hana ni Arashi volume 1
Story & Art: Luka Kobachi
Originally serialised online @ Sunday Webry
Published by Shogakukan, 2018
Copy purchased from eBookJapan
There’s something about you
That takes my blues away
Life’s nothing without you
I can’t get through the days
I’ll never be cynical
‘Cause you wouldn’t have it
I believe in miracles, I believe in magic
-‘Unicron Loev’, by Raleigh Ritchie, 2016
What is it?: Nanoha and Chidori are two perfectly healthy teenage schoolgirls, spending time with their friends, running a literature club, going to class and hanging out together. They’re also secretly dating, sneaking bits of public affection out wherever they can.
From this core concept we get a series of short, sweet chapters, exploring the duo’s secret relationship with warmth and humour.
art by Chii, design by KC Fabellon
The Bride was a Boy
Story & Art: Chii
Translation: Beni Axia Conrad
Adaptation: Shanti Whitesides
Lettering & Retouch: Karis Page
Cover Design: KC Fabellon
Editor: Jenn Grunigen
Sensitivity Reader: Casey Lucas
Published by Seven Seas
Copy purchased via ComiXology UK
I won’t cry, I won’t cry
No, I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
-“Stand by Me”, specifically as covered by Florence + the Machine (we’ll get to why that version at the end), 2016
What is it?: Originally presented as comic essays online, The Bride was a Boy is the collected, edited, and expanded autobiographical account of Chii’s life with her boyfriend (now husband), leading up to their engagement and marriage. This is all framed around Chii’s transition, both as a matter of fact account of how she started transitioning, early dysphoria, her sex reassignment surgery, and the process of having her legal status in Japan changed to female, and as a way of educating the reader as to correct terminology and information about transitioning and the trans experience, as it is to her.
cover art by Yoichi Takahashi
As of writing this piece, I’ve been reading Grand Jump for 15 issues, released twice a month since September last year, and it’s been an interesting journey compared to our last highlight for these, Weekly Shonen Sunday, being a magazine aimed at a much older audience; that of older Japanese businessmen (though as with all demographic stuff, this is largely an arbitrary designation). This means that the content is aimed at a much more mature audience, and presumably a more intelligent breed, doing away with the furigana (hiragana above kanji) that’s helped me keep my head juuuust about above water when reading, and as such I’m usually up s**t creek without a paddle reading this stuff.
But I’m nothing if not stubborn, and equipped with both a decent ability to kind of work stuff out visually when my own brain and dictionary/vocab reference lets me down, and manage to read some eleven of the magazine’s twenty(ish) series on a regular basis, all of which I’m going to talk about at some short length below. The vast majority of these aren’t talked about in western comics circles, and so I really wanna shed light on what are some of my all-time favourite comics. Let’s go.
BUY GRAND JUMP HERE
art by Hiromu Arakawa
Silver Spoon vol. 1
Story & Art: Hiromu Arakawa
Translation: Amanda Haley
Lettering: Abigail Blackman
Originally Serialised in Weekly Shonen Sunday
Published by Yen Press, 2018
Copy purchased at Amazon UK
Me and the farmer get on fine
Through stormy weather and bottles of wine
If I pull my weight, he’ll treat me well
But if I’m late, he’ll give me hell
-‘Me and the Farmer‘, by The Housemartins, 1987
What is it?: Silver Spoon is a Weekly Shonen Sunday series sporadically published since 2011, about Yuugo Hachiken, a directionless city kid, moving to an agricultural high school expecting an easy time where he’ll be able to prepare for entrance exams to a ‘proper’ college. Little does he know how badly he’s underestimated the hard-working world of agriculture, facing grueling physical activity and difficult studies in areas completely unknown to him! Along the way he reassesses his views on life, finds new friends, and maybe even a new future outside of traditional academia.
Silver Spoon is also one of the more recent works of Hiromu Arakawa, celebrated creator of Fullmetal Alchemist, Hero Tales, and the current manga adaptation of The Heroic Legend of Arslan, with a successful anime under its belt from A-1 pictures, and a live-action film. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also the quickest title to ever sell a million copies for Shonen Sunday’s parent company, Shogakukan. A big deal, then.
art by Aka Akasaka, cover design by Izumi Evers
Kaguya-sama: Love is War vol.1
Story & Art: Aka Akasaka
Translation: Emi Louie-Nishikawa
English Adaptation & Editor: Annette Roman
Touch-up art & Lettering: Stephen Dutro
Cover & Interior Design: Izumi Evers
Published by Viz Media, 2018
Copy purchased at ComiXology UK
I taught myself the only way to vaguely get along in love
Is to like the other slightly less than you get in return
–‘We are beautiful, we are doomed’, by Los Campesinos!, 2008
What is it?: Kaguya-sama: Love is War is an ongoing comic from Shueisha’s Weekly Young Jump magazine (and their currently defunct sister publication Miracle Jump), based around one key concept; that love is a battle of dominance, and that to be the one in power require the person not giving an inch, even to the point of not being the one to confess their feelings first!
And so we’re presented with two members of the student council at the prestigious Shuchiin Academy; Kaguya Shinomiya, the well-bred and royal-rich sheltered queen of the council, and Miyuki Shirogane, the handsome wunderkind and president of the student council. Both are hilariously vain, self-involved, emotionally stunted, and very, VERY in love with each other. But what’s a pair to do when they each refuse to be the one to admit it? Why, warfare, of course! Endless battles of the mind to give one up over the other and get their heart’s desire; a confession from the other.