Friday, November 9, 2012

Angel Heart Review by Manga Xanadu

Lori at Manga Xanadu enjoyed the quirky cast of characters and the undeniable charm of Lag in Angel Heart!

Angel Heart is a fun, light one-shot, though I wouldn’t object to reading more about Shiki and Lag,  or another robot animal in this universe. Shinohara has created a cast of characters I enjoyed with stories that warm the heart... Definitely check out Angel Heart if you enjoy titles about dogs or just want a light, quick read. It’s worth it. (Read the rest of the review)
On a side note, I will update the purchase options for our titles soon. DRM-Free PDFs can be downloaded from Wowio now and from eManga in the near future!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

New Josei Title - Angel Heart

Peace Pet Rental's Lag is a robotic dog. He can be pretty slow at times and can't perform tasks aside from those written in his program, but despite all this, he's everyone's favorite dog. Soon, however, he is tackling people's problems in ways not included in his program, and it seems almost miraculous... Something mysterious has awakened within his heart even though he's supposed to be a machine with no emotions. What is Lag's true nature? For those lost in despair and sorrow and those with wounded hearts comes this healing tale of love, kindness, and sacrifice.

I am a big fan of the Ghost in the Shell theme and questioning our perceptions of what is real and living. While this can be a very serious topic, Angel Heart does touch on it in a sweet, fluffy, puppy way. I'm having a hard time describing what genre Angel Heart fits in, so it might be easier if I tell you what it's not. It's not a romance. It's not an all-out comedy though it has many light-hearted moments. I suppose it's something of a drama but not in the usual ways. Sci-fi? Only because Lag's a robot.

If you want something without the usual tropes, this is a good respite. No fevers, no getting drunk and passing out, no Valentine's Day, no jealous love interest from the past, no worrying about your first kiss, etc. When you pause to really think about the story in Angel Heart, you will realize that it goes much deeper than just a cute dog visiting hospital patients. I am very interested to see what other people think, so please contact me if you're interested in reviewing this title. You can leave a comment here or use the contact link at the bottom of the page.

This was a joint project translated by V.G. Jasper from Kaedama Translations. Lettering and editing by Mia.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Update - More Ways to Read DMG Titles!

In the past month or so, Digital Manga titles have become available through several more outlets. I'm super swamped with stuff right now, but I hope to take a closer look at the quality and interface of these options soon. Gah I am such a goober. I couldn't resist taking some screenshots.

First is the most recent announcement: I had never heard of this site before, but it provides what people have been requesting for ages: DOWNLOADABLE PDF FILES. I couldn't resist and just bought Entangled Circumstances. The file rolled in at 17 MB and is comparable to Nook quality (which is good). I was going to get Rainy Day Love since I could compare it directly to my own lettered files, but I didn't want to pay for something I already have XD 


Note the watermark in the lower left corner - it's on every page. I applaud the effort, but someone who wants to post their pdf on the internet can get around that pretty easily... The FAQ says that you can read the PDFs on iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook Color, and Android tablets, and so far I can say it looks great on my iPhone and iPad. I just emailed the pdf to myself and opened it using the native PDF reader.

Small side text looks good zoomed in on an iPad!

Also announced today was that Digital Manga titles are available on Graphicly, which has a Facebook App in addition to their online viewer. Maybe I'm just being cranky because the Graphicly website is annoying me, but their online viewer is pretty terrible if the preview pages are any indication. Quality looks fine, but the page turning is slow and clunky and it goes left to right. They have a banner saying they support damn near every format from iOS to Android to Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and beyond, but when I look at the page for a DMG title (e.g. A Truthful Picture), it says "Buying from Graphicly unlocks this book on both the Graphicly Facebook Application and the Graphicly Website." Do any Facebook users read manga on the Graphicly App? Is it better than this crappy online reader on their main website? Unless someone leaves a comment with a glowing review and happy recollections, I probably won't revisit Graphicly (also I am not a FB user, so that doesn't add any value for me personally).

Digital Manga is also on Comics Plus, which is availble on everything (iOS, Android, etc etc), though right now it looks like there are only books from the main DMP imprint (no June or DMG). I think this cross-platform super-availability is going to be more and more ubiquitous in the future, and the real question is going to be which Japanese publishers and mangaka are willing to sell a license to actually distribute on these platforms and in these file formats.

As for me personally, I'll be buying my DMP manga from DriveThruComics whenever possible. I like the idea of downloading the pdf and then choosing my own reading device. Also, I see Project H and 801 books, so one can assume there won't be a censorship problem. I hope this business model remains feasible (and the cynic in me can think of a hundred reasons it could fail), but you can be sure I will be enjoying it while I can!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Makoto Tateno Interview - Publisher's Weekly

I just came across this interview with Makoto Tateno from a couple months ago.

These questions in particular made me think of Backlight:
PWCW: Now that you are a creator, why do you prefer BL?
MT: I don’t feel I am trying to work primarily in the BL genre. I like BL and shoujo equally and I try to continue creating titles in each genre.

PWCW: Which comes first for you, the story or the characters?
Generally speaking, the story comes out first and then I make the characters to fit the story, but occasionally I begin a title with the creation of the characters, and in my experience so far I have found that when the character comes out first, the series tends to go on longer.
Check out the interview for more interesting info from Tateno-sensei!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

New Shoujo - Backlight by Makoto Tateno

With his parents constantly fighting and his future uncertain, Suguru spends his high school days in discontent. He envies the carefree lifestyle of his friend Tomohiro, who lives alone and untethered, but even Tomohiro has his dark secrets. One summer night, the hidden passions and desperate desires of three teenagers threaten to change their worlds… permanently.
This elusive collection contains four stories by the acclaimed Makoto Tateno, author and artist of the popular series Yellow, Red Angel, and Blue Sheep Reverie!

Backlight is being filed as a shoujo, but I have to say this is one of the most genre-less books I've ever read. Yes, it tends more towards shoujo than shounen, but I would say that's largely due to the style of drawing rather than content. The stories are a bit dark as well. Also, as Tateno states in one of her author notes, "I love love-triangles with two men and one woman," so there are definite BL undertones in two of the stories.

There are three main stories: the one in the cover copy, a murder mystery, and a futuristic sci-fi that's also kind of mystery-ish. The futuristic story has an extra short chapter, too.

There's absolutely no smut.

You have a tendency to lose objectivity after working on a title and staring at it for inordinately long periods. I remember initially being impressed with the story telling despite the 80's style characters, and usually dated art styles turn me off. Then, my frustration at strangely-joined speech bubbles got the best of me :P  Any still-objective folk who would like to review this title can contact me (info at bottom of page) for a free review copy on eManga. Just send a link of your website or blog or your reviewer page on Amazon or BN.

You can find Backlight on Amazon, BN, and eManga.

Translator for this special assignment was Duane Johnson. Editing and lettering were by Mia.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Yet Another Great Review for Tiptoe!

New review from the Pinkbook Pirate!

The Rule of Standing on Tiptoe should be read just for the sheer humor and slice-of-life angle alone, it is that good. The BL is the icing on an already delicious cake. If you like character development, and don’t mind that your boys aren’t playing hide the sausage in the first five pages, then do something nice for yourself and read this wonderful, funny story today. [Read the rest of the review.]

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Digital Manga Guild - It's About the Trees, Not the Forest

Recently, there has been some talk about the Digital Manga Guild on various scanlation and blog sites regarding cease and desist letters, copyright violations, and licenses. Let me be absolutely clear that I'm not here to argue one way or another about such complicated topics. That has all been done before, and generally, people will feel the way they feel, and no amount of discourse will change that. No, what I AM here to talk about is who and what the Digital Manga Guild really is because after reading through the blog posts and comments, I've come to the realization that many people don't fully understand how the guild operates or who is involved. There are many misconceptions and generalizations, and I hope this post dispels some of them.

Since this has the potential to be lengthy, I will start with the bottom line. The Digital Manga Guild consists of over 35 active groups and over 100 active members, and these numbers are conservatively based off of the number of titles that have been published. Groups are generally composed of 3 people - translator, editor, letterer - though some groups have more and some have less. Though we all fall under the umbrella of "DMG," we operate as individual groups, and each group handles its own website, twitter account, tumblr, etc. We are also individually responsible for the quality of work that we produce. In that way, "DMG" is really just the stage for all of our small groups to display our work, and DMI (the parent company) has no more control over the everyday lives of the groups than Madison Square Gardens does over the lives of the people who perform there. DMI is a small company and cannot control who the members email or how or why. When an unanticipated problem arises, like this kerfluffle over C&Ds, the best they can do is react quickly and clearly, which is what they did by posting an official position on the matter.

The point that I want to make clearer is that when statements are made about "DMG," they encompass over 100 people - most of whom are just going about their business as usual and aren't even aware of a problem. I know it's onerous to ask since there are so many of us, but really it's more appropriate to speak about individual groups. "Boys Love Bang Bang has hilarious banter on Twitter." "Cynical Pink just posted more obsessive photos of digital readers." "Sinister Hands had some amazingly difficult redraws in their last title (and boy am I glad *I* didn't get them :P)." In none of these examples can you substitute "DMG" or "DMI" and still be accurate.

Ok, thanks for reading that. Now on to a slightly more detailed section of ranting. There has been talk about how DMG members are hired by DMI and how we become representatives of the company. We're actually not employees - just freelancers - and we definitely in no way represent DMI. DMG received over 1000 applications and tests, though obviously not everyone continued on to form a group, receive a bundle of titles, and complete the assignments. Not only can DMI not control the everyday actions of all these people, but it's impossible for them to screen or interview or even really get to know each and every person. If issues arise with individual members, you can 1) be pretty sure that DMI was not aware of it, and 2) be absolutely sure that they appreciate your feedback and would want to hear about your concerns. Send an email to

Another thing that is appalling me is this call to boycott DMG titles. Again, it gets back to my whole issue of recognizing that we are individual cells of localizers and not a conglomerate that operates with one head. Royalties on each sale are paid to the localizing group, DMI, the Japanese publisher, and the mangaka. No one gets paid until a sale is made. I'm not here to defend or criticize this business model. What I want to point out is that NOT buying a title localized by Group A has absolutely no effect whatsoever on Group B, and this is not just limited to angry emails and personal interactions. If you did not like the quality of a book by Group C, then NOT buying a title from Group D is a poor way to make your dissatisfaction known.

Hmm... I was going to limit this post to "getting to know the groups," but that last sentence is tempting me to talk about quality. Dangerous ground... Readers have commented that the quality of DMG titles can be hit or miss, and with the huge selection of titles available now, it's difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. To that, I say - PLEASE REVIEW. If one out of every 10 people who read a DMG title left a review on Amazon or B&N or even just on their own blog site (which would then show up in a Google search), then deciding what to read would be that much easier. The localizing group is listed on the credit page of each book. If you find a book you like, look for more by the same group, and vice versa if you unfortunately didn't like it.

That's about all I had to say since I don't want to go into messier topics like licenses, sales and profit models, or scanlations. Before people go and make generalizations about DMG, all I ask is that you get to know us a little better. If you have ANY questions, please please feel free to ask them here. Right now the dialogue feels very one-sided, and I would like more voices from inside DMG to be heard.

UPDATE: After reading a few more disgruntled comment threads, I thought I would make a quick note explaining how Digital Manga, Inc (DMI) differs from Digital Manga Publishing (DMP) and Digital Manga Guild (DMG). Confused yet? Here's how I see it, though I may not grasp the finer, legal details.  DMI is the parent company, and DMP is their main publishing division (801 Media is the other). DMP has many imprints (you can think of them as genres or subsections) including June, Doki Doki, and DMP Platinum. DMG is also an imprint, which consists of titles localized by DMG members.

Here is another example: You have Scholastic Inc (like DMI). Scholastic Trade Books is one of their publishing divisions (like DMP). Arthur A. Levine Books is the imprint (DMG) that published Harry Potter in the United States. The equivalent of many of the comments I've been reading on other sites would be: "I can't stand how JK Rowling is approaching fan fiction, so I'm not buying anymore books from AA Levine Books or Scholastic."