Viz has been aggressively adding manga series to its iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch app, and this month is no exception. The new series include an old favorite from Shoujo Beat and some newer series that have gotten lots of attention in dead-tree form. And here’s a reminder for Naruto fans: The sale on that series continues until midnight (PST) on Friday, June 17, with vols. 1-27 priced at $3.99 each, a dollar off the regular price.
The most interesting new series, to my mind, is Cross Game, a coming-of-age story that wraps baseball and teenage life into one bittersweet package. You don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy it, as the story really revolves around teenage Ko and the four sisters who live down the street from him, with baseball being more the catalyst than the driving force of the story. For those interested in knowing more, Cross Game was the topic of a Manga Moveable Feast in which a number of bloggers wrote reviews and critiques of the series. Viz is releasing the series in omnibus volumes, giving readers a lot of pages for their money.
The old favorite is Backstage Prince, the story of a girl who becomes the assistant to a shy, but incredibly hot, kabuki actor. It’s very classic shoujo, with a klutzy girl and a stand-offish guy and the usual sorts of conflicts, and the setting—behind the scenes in the world of classic Japanese theater, which has its own customs and peculiarities—makes it interesting, although it’s definitely a romance first and foremost. The story is complete in two volumes, which makes it a nice, compact read.
Children of the Sea is another fantastic read, and this book includes some beautiful color pages that should look especially good on the larger, backlit screen of the iPad. It’s the story of a girl who is strangely drawn to two boys she meets at the aquarium, two boys who seem to have come from the sea. This is a book to lose yourself in, with beautiful sequences of sea life and a strong sense of place. Viz has some sample chapters up for free at the SigIkki website, and Kate Dacey has an in-depth review of volume 1 at The Manga Critic.
Ai Ore is a new series—the first volume just came out last month—so it’s interesting that Viz is being so quick to put it on the iPad. Yet another high school romance, this gender-bender series by the creator of Sensual Phrase has a bit of a twist: The heroine is the lead guitarist in a rock band and the “prince” of her all-girl school, while the male lead, who wants to join the band, is the “princess” of his all-boys school.
The Story of Saiunkoku is another newer series—it debuted last fall and is already up to four volumes. A costume drama with more than a whiff of romance, it is set in the imperial court of the fictional Saiunkoku and centers around a girl who wants to defy prohibitions and become… a civil servant. Her plans change abruptly, however, when the young emperor of the kingdom, who is a bit of a slacker, invites her to become his consort for six months to help him learn how to govern.
Viz adds a new volume of each series about once a month, which makes the app a convenient way to catch up on old and new series.