Viz has a sweet deal for new digital users, and more Yu-Gi-Oh! for everybody, and in Japan, nominees have just been announced for the influential Manga Taishou Awards. Here's a quick roundup of the latest manga news.
Viz offers freebies for newbies: Viz Manga is offering a free volume of digital manga to new users who download their iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch app for the first time. Since Viz has been putting their newest volumes of many manga on their digital app before the books are released in print, this could be a great opportunity to read some new manga—or find an old friend. The offer is valid through January 30.
Blue ribbon manga: Nominations for the Manga Taishou Awards have been announced in Japan, and Khursten Santos has an excellent rundown of the manga that are in the running. Only a few titles will be familiar to English-language readers: Drifters, by Hellsing creator Kouta Hirano, and Flowers of Evil, which has been licensed by Vertical but hasn't been published in English yet. So why should we care? The Manga Taishou Awards tend to pick the cream of the crop of Japanese manga, and many of the winners will make their way into English; recent examples are A Bride's Story and Bakuman. So you can look at the awards as being something of a wish list.
For manga that has already been translated, Deb Aoki is now accepting nominations for her 2012 About.com Manga Readers' Choice Awards.
She wore a pink Ribon: Erica Friedman takes a peek inside the pages of the classic shoujo manga magazine Ribon, the home of Kodocha, Ultra Maniac, and most of Arina Tanemura's series, including Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura. For more, Erica points us to the Ribon website, which is all in Japanese but is pretty awesome anyway, particularly if you like pink.
Speaking of shoujo: Philip Anthony has a new column at Manga Bookshelf, titled Shoujo I'm Scared Of—yes, it's a guy reading shoujo manga. And he starts out strong with a reflection on Sailor Moon.
More Yu-Gi-Oh! from Viz: Viz Media has licensed Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexa!, which will be the fifth Yu-Gi-Oh! series that Viz has licensed. Set in the near future, this series follows the adventures of an amateur duelist, Yuma Tsukumo, who aspires to win the Duel Monsters championship with the help of a mysterious spirit called Astral. In a supernatural twist on the usual formula, Astral's lost memories have been transformed into special cards that take over the duelists who use them—and bring out their dark side. Yuma and Astral team up to retrieve the cards—and Astral's lost memories, racing against the evil Numbers Hunters as they do. The manga runs in Shueisha's V Jump magazine in Japan, and the anime has been running on Cartoon Network since October.