Off-topic post: Anime and manga discussion (no reviews)

It has been a while since I last posted on the blog. However, that does not mean I haven’t been working on my projects; new episodes of Innocence Seekers: April Light have been released unannounced, and episode 17 will be released on Sunday. However, I won’t talk about my projects in this blog post. For this blog post, I will discuss anime and manga. Considering that it is the end of the season, I felt that this was a good time to make such a post. However, there will be no reviews.

For Spring 2017, I still haven’t decided exactly what I will watch. This is largely because most of the anime offered for that season do not fall into my rather narrow interests. While my preferences are simple (female protagonist, or co-protagonist, main cast not dominated by males), there are genres I tend to, for one reason or another, avoid. Of course, harem automatically falls outside my preferences (and that’s not going into the fact that I dislike them and wish they didn’t dominate light novel adaptations; in fact, part of my prejudice against light novels comes from the fact that it seems to me that every other work is an alternate-world harem); reverse harems I also don’t watch (again due to my preferences), but I don’t hate them. I tend not to watch romance, unless if it is a romantic comedy or yuri. For the past few years, a mental block has prevented me from enjoying sports shows (to a lesser extent, this also applies to real-life teams, meaning I enjoy matches more as a neutral than when supporting one team), meaning I tend not to watch them.

Right now, there are only two anime I will definitely watch from this season. I mentioned Sakura Quest in an earlier post; I’ve chosen to watch this as its theme interests me quite a lot (well, given the falling birth rate in Japan, the small country towns are declining). It follows Yoshino Koharu, a young woman who wants to work in the big city, but finds herself the “monarch” of a micronation in a small town. Interestingly, its manga version will be published by Houbunsha as a Manga Time Kirara Forward comic, so, for all intents and purposes, I’m also interested in this anime as it is a Kirara IP.

The second anime which has me interested is Hinako Note. Based on the yonkoma manga by Mitsuki, it follows a girl named Hinako, who is able to socialise with animals and whom animals are drawn towards, but who has so much trouble when it comes to socialising with other people. When she arrives in the city to attend school, the place she is staying in is actually a used bookstore, and a girl who eats books lives there.
Before I go into any more detail, I should emphasise that this is not a short. This is, I believe, the first Comic Cune manga to get a broadcast anime adaptation with full-length episodes. I think the confusion regarding episode length may come from the fact that this is a yonkoma adaptation (and some people have false assumptions regarding yonkoma adaptations), that the two previous Comic Cune manga to get anime adaptations (Pan de Peace! and Nyanko Days) were both shorts, and that yonkoma adaptations in the past two years have generally been shorts (the main exceptions tend to be adaptations of Manga Time Kirara manga).
From what I’ve seen, I like some of the quirks the characters have. Hinako has the tendency to become a scarecrow whenever she gets into a panic over people. Of course, there is also the girl who eats books (Kuina). In the key visual and other artwork, you may have seen a blonde girl in a maid outfit; she is Mayuki, and she isn’t actually a maid (actually, I like her simply because she’s voiced by Yui Ogura).

For later seasons, other than second seasons of anime I’ve already watched, there isn’t that much I’ve decided to follow. But I’m still deciding, and there are a number of upcoming anime I may take a closer look at in the near future.

Anyway, to manga. Again, I’ll only be focusing on Manga Time Kirara manga. The 27th day of the month (unless if it’s a Sunday, in which case it’s one day earlier) is the day Houbunsha schedules volume releases of its yonkoma manga in the Kirara label (the Kirara Forward entries have their volume releases on the 12th, again before taking Sundays into consideration), and this month notably includes two original illustration books, by Harikamo (Yorumori no Kuni no Sorani and Urara Meirochō) and Kuroda bb (A Channel). Kuroda bb’s illustration book was released alongside the eighth volume of A Channel (which, incidentally, will receive another OVA).

Other than A Channel, three yonkoma have had volumes released this month. I don’t expect anyone in the West to know about these manga, unless they’re fans of Manga Time Kirara and can read Japanese, but I’ll mention one of them, as it appears to have become quite popular among the Japanese fans. The manga in question, published in Manga Time Kirara MAX, is Utau Aizaki’s Why Did I Enter the Art Course!? (its Japanese title, Dōshite Watashi ga Bijutsuka ni!?, is often abbreviated to DouBiju), which follows a high school girl, Momone Sakai, as she mistakenly enrols in the wrong course (in this case, the art course, instead of the general course). Thematically, it is similar to Hidamari Sketch and GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class (both of which feature separate curricula for art students and general students in their schools). As a measure of its popularity, someone tried to create a Wikipedia article on it a number of months ago (the article itself was deleted as at the time there were no volumes; it has since been recreated, and only hours after the release of the first volume).

I’ve been wondering why this manga attained its current level of popularity. As of now, its popularity seems to rival that of Comic Girls (incidentally, there seems to be a fair bit of overlap between the Comic Girls and DouBiju fandoms, and Aizaki herself drew an illustration of Comic Girls, which was published on Kaori Hanzawa’s Twitter account). Aizaki’s previous attempt at a Kirara manga, Tsubomi Arrangement, only had guest appearances. Some of the reasons I could think of regarding its popularity include similarity to the two manga I mentioned in the previous paragraph (much like how some people attribute the popularity of Comic Girls to similarities with Is the Order a Rabbit?), as well as the completion of the latter.

One thing I noted about the characters’ names is that they all have a kanji representing their colour in their given names:

  • Momone Sakai (酒井 桃音) – Pink (桃)
  • Kinako Takeuchi (竹内 黄奈子) – Yellow (黄)
  • Aoi Kawanabe (河鍋 蒼) – Blue (蒼)
  • Shion Uragami (浦上 紫苑) – Purple (紫)
  • Suigyoku Hishikawa (菱川 翠玉) – Green (翠)

And, a bit off-topic, but Aizaki appears to be a fan of Manga Time Kirara in general. From her Twitter account:

That’ll be all for now. Oh, and happy birthday to Aoi Yūki, who is now 25 years old.

Edit (2017-03-28): Actually, there is additional information I wanted to add. Houbunsha has launched a Twitter campaign relating to Why Did I Enter the Art Course!?, which requests that users retweet a particular post, and offering rewards to fans for a certain number of retweets. In less than 48 hours, it has already accumulated over 1,000 retweets (the campaign lasts for a month, beginning on March 27 at 00:00 JST (March 26 15:00 UTC), and only offers rewards for up to 2,000 retweets), which is quite impressive. Of course, the number of additional retweets will drop over time, but it’s still possible that it could reach the final 2,000 retweet goal.

The Manga Time Kirara volume releases for next month include four Puella Magi Madoka Magica-related manga, with the most notable release being the fifth volume of Puella Magi Tart Magica: The Legend of “Jeanne d’Arc”. You may have heard this before, but Manga Time Kirara Magica has now shifted to an irregular release schedule (it was previously bimonthly), so any additional updates to Madoka Magica-related material will either be based on this irregular schedule, or it will be in Manga Time Kirara Forward. The other manga volumes to be released in April aren’t really that notable.

Volume releases for May include the first volume of the manga version of Sakura Quest (by Iroha Kohinata), as well as the fourth volume of Ayumu Kasuga’s Castle Town Dandelion, the second volume of Sō Hamayumiba’s Dropout Idol Fruit Tart and the second volume of Tsubomi Hanabana’s KiraKira Study.

As for when the third volume of Comic Girls will be released… well, I’m not sure. Maybe it’ll be released in June or July, but considering that the previous two volumes were both released in April… but significant gaps between releases aren’t that unusual (the releases of the third and fourth volumes of Is the Order a Rabbit? were separated by 18 months, for instance). I could say that this may be a sign of a possible anime adaptation (given that the anime announcement for Magic of Stella coincided with the release of its third volume), but that’s way too optimistic. (Edit 2017-04-16): Hanzawa has stated on her Twitter account that the third volume of Comic Girls will be released on June 27.

And one last thing: I just wanted to share this. If you’re wondering, it’s a crossover between Akino Miyabi’s Nadeshiko Doremisora and Tsukasa Unohana’s Anima Yell!. I kind of expected this crossover to be done sooner or later, considering that the two authors are fans of each other, and that they both authored romance manga in Manga Time Kirara Forward (Hadigirl and Haji-Otsu, respectively) at around the same time.

Edit (28-04-2017): Adding author information