Blog: The Manga Critic

This blog is written by Katherine Dacey, one of the authors of the School Library Journal Good Comics for Kids blog. She reviews new manga titles in great detail, highlighting the plot, illustrations, and positive and negative aspects. I especially appreciate her humor; in a recent review of Dragon Girl, Vol. 1, by Toru Fujieda, she remarks “If you’re playing along at home right now, scan your Shojo [manga for girls] Manga Bingo Card for the following clichés,” and then gives a list. Her reviews are thorough and usually tongue-in-cheek, and a great way to find new titles to read or order.

She also looks at older titles, some of which are being re-released, and some of which are just classics. Ms. Dacey reviews the recent re-release of the 1978 comic Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, in which the two famous men team up to defeat an alien race. The aliens are called The Scrubb, and Ms. Dacey wryly comments, “If you had any doubt that ten-year-old boys were the target audience for the original comic, look no further than the names; The Scrubb’s ruler is named Rat’lar.” She gives the history of the original publication and a brief description of the new publication (released in two different versions, one markedly more expensive than the other).

Another type article she often writes is the “Manga Hall of Shame.” As she points out, “when it comes to manga, there seems to be a general consensus on what constitutes a bad comic: over-the-top fanservice, sexist plotlines, a complete disregard for logic, and lousy artwork.” These articles show just how ridiculous manga can be. Ms. Dacey hosted a contest in which readers could nominate manga to the Hall of Shame. My favorite entry was actually the runner up, a review of the Twilight manga. I have a soft spot for people who mock the Twilight series; this contributor, who has not read the original books, wonders how the graphic novel version could be so entirely plotless and incoherent. He concludes: “Maybe the printer got the pages mixed up accidentally and just bound them all together in whatever order he happened to pick them up. … Seriously, that must be what happened. That’s really the only explanation that for this. No, wait! I tell a lie. It’s possible that the printer just mislaid half of the pages. What’s in the book is in order, but every other page is missing. That must be it!” The other contributors are just as hilarious. There are plenty of terrible manga out there to mock, as it turns out!

While most manga blogs focus on titles that are more appropriate for high school students rather than younger children, Ms. Dacey makes a point to highlight manga for younger students. She also has an extensive holiday gift guide that lists comics for elementary school students and tweens and young teens. This blog also has extensive lists of resources and links to encourage further exploration of the subject. It’s a wonderful resource for anyone interested in learning more about manga – both good and bad!

The Manga Critic: http://mangacritic.com

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