Kindaichi Case Files Vol. 16: The Magical Express

Written by Yozaburo Kanari
Art by Fumiya Sato
304 pages, black and white
Published by TokyoPop

A lot of long-running series, over time, grow stale. They start going through the motions of what is expected of them rather than what is new and interesting, and it turns into something approaching monotony. I think that’s one of the many reasons why Yozaburo Kanari and Fumiya Sato’s series The Kindaichi Case Files sticks out so much in my mind. We’re sixteen volumes into the series now, and with each new mystery adventure I find myself absolutely dying to purchase it and find out what happens next.

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Aqua Vol. 1

By Kozue Amano
192 pages, black and white
Published by TokyoPop

With the wealth of manga being translated into English, it’s understandable if one initially misses out on a few books the first time around. That’s certainly my excuse when it comes to Kozue Amano’s series Aqua and Aria. At a glance, there’s not a whole lot to lure you in—a young woman learning how to become a gondolier. Once I finally sat down and read the first volume, though, I realized that this is more than just the story of someone learning their job. Rather, it’s a travelogue across another planet.

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Abandoned Vol. 1

By Sophie Campbell
240 pages, two-color
Published by Tokyopop

Saying that there are a lot of zombies in all forms of media lately is a bit of an understatement. Comics, television, movies, books… you name it, there’s an undead creature begging to eat your brains. With that in mind, I really have to give Sophie Campbell’s The Abandoned a lot of credit; it’s the only one I’ve encountered in the last year or so that over a month later is still creeping me out.

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Tarot Cafe Vol. 1

By Sang-Sun Park
192 pages, black and white
Published by TokyoPop

Sometimes I buy a book based on little more than a hunch, or a lightning-fast initial impression. That was the case with The Tarot Cafe Vol. 1, which seemed interesting enough. The more I read it, though, the more I began to wonder… had I seen this somewhere before?

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Paradise Kiss Vol. 1

By Ai Yazawa
192 pages, black and white
Published by TokyoPop

All right, I’ll admit it. The first time around, I completely missed out on Paradise Kiss. A book about fashion designers just didn’t sound interesting enough to grab my attention in the sea of new series being unleased on the market, and then several of the books in the series briefly went out of print. Now that TokyoPop is bringing new printings of the series to out, I decided to give it another try and it turns out everyone else was right: I should have been reading this ages ago.

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Legal Drug Vol. 1

By CLAMP
192 pages, black and white
Published by TokyoPop

It’s strange to be reading a CLAMP series that’s actually “new”, but in the case of Tsubasa, xxxHOLiC, and Legal Drug, we’re getting translations of current-running series in Japan. Now that I’ve sampled all three of them, I think that the best was being saved for last, because Legal Drug is easily the one “must buy” series CLAMP’s producing.

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Suki: A Like Story Vol. 1

By CLAMP
192 pages, black and white
Published by TokyoPop

One of the problems of being a collective of writers and artist who all use the same name is that as a reader you never really know what you’re going to get. That’s how I feel about CLAMP, a four-woman creative team in Japan. For every CLAMP book I’ve loved like Cardcaptor Sakura or Wish, there are ones like Clover which just don’t seem to work quite as well. I’m not sure just what made me decide to give CLAMP’s Suki: A Like Story a try, but I’m really happy that I did. This is definitely one of the CLAMP books that fall into the “good” category for me.

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Planetes Vol. 1

By Makoto Yukimura
244 pages, black and white
Published by TokyoPop

Most comics about outer space focus on the big concepts; gigantic space ships zooming through the void, or alien invasions of Earth. Maybe that’s why Makoto Yukimura’s Planetes is so instantly appealing. It’s science-fiction, yes, and it’s very much about outer space… but Planetes‘s focus on quieter, character-based storylines makes it instantly stand out as something much more interesting.

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Between the Sheets

By Erica Sakurazawa
208 pages, black and white
Published by TokyoPop

As more and more manga comes overseas into English-speaking countries, there are phrases you hear thrown around a lot. Shonen (“boy’s manga”) and shjo (“girl’s manga”) are two of them, with people quickly pointing out which story elements make a book meant for which gender. Well, if you read Erica Sakurazawa’s Between the Sheets, the question then becomes: What’s the name for women’s manga?

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Kindaichi Case Files Vol. 1: The Opera House Murders

Story by Yozaburo Kanari
Art by Fumiya Sato
240 pages, black and white
Published by TokyoPop

The mystery genre is alive and well in most forms of entertainment. Television, movies, books, just about all of them have a good-sized percentage of mysteries… except, of course, comics. Aside from CrossGen’s Ruse, there aren’t many high profile comics that tackle mysteries, unless you live in Japan. TokyoPop’s brought one of those series into English in the form of The Kindaichi Case Files, and based on their first volume The Opera House Murders it’s clearly something that should’ve made it over here years ago.

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