The two top-selling manga in the U.S., "Sailor Moon" and "Naruto," both have new volumes out this week, but my pick of the week isn't Japanese. The creator, Madeleine Rosca, is Australian, but her work was good enough to win one of the first four International Manga Awards given by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
I'm talking about "Clockwork Sky," a steampunk fantasy set in London at the end of the 19th century and filled with Rosca's imaginative mechanical creations. You can see a preview at the link, and I encourage you to check it out; Rosca hasn't so much imitated manga as absorbed it, and her storytelling and artwork are first rate. The story is set in a dystopian future London in which workers have been replaced by robots, leaving much of the populace unemployed and dissatisfied. Sally Peppers, the heroine, is the niece of the robot mogul, but while she has inherited her uncle's mechanical skills she has no contact with his business, as she is being kept under a sort of house arrest. When she busts out (on a steampunk velocipede), the police send their super-sophisticated police robot after her. The story has a great style, reminiscent of Rosca's earlier work, "Hollow Fields," but both the art and the story are more sophisticated.
In other publishing news, Kodansha queues up vol. 7 of "Sailor Moon," and that's just the start of an interesting lineup. There's also vol. 2 of "Attack on Titan," a series that, I'm told, gets even better as it goes along. The story of a young man fighting against the human-devouring monsters that threaten his society, it's a huge hit in Japan, and we ran a preview of the first volume along with an interview with the creator in June.
Also out from Kodansha this week is a volume hard-core fans have been waiting for: Vol. 1 of "Genshiken: Second Season," which picks up the story of the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture where the first series left off. Fans of the first series will find a lot to like about this volume, although it's a bit harder to get into if you're new to the franchise. Fortunately, Kodansha has started releasing the original "Genshiken" series in omnibus format, and the second volume is due out next week.
Last week was Viz's big Shonen Jump and Shoujo Beat release drop, but they saved a few goodies for this week. First up is vol. 9 of "Loveless," which picks up the serialization where Tokyopop left off. If you're new to the series, you can either hunt up the older volumes in your library or wait until next month, when Viz releases vols. 1 and 2 as an omnibus edition. Also on deck: Vol. 11 of "Arata: The Legend," Vol. 20 of "Hayate the Combat Butler," and vol. 58 of"Naruto."