A new volume of "Wandering Son," the Midwest's biggest anime con, and the return of "One Piece": It's a good week and it's going to be a better weekend. Plus a manga-ka gives her fans free rein to translate, scanlate, or remix some of her work.
Hot off the press: The book to watch out for this week is vol. 4 of "Wandering Son," the story of a boy who wants to dress like a girl and a girl who wants to dress like a boy. Manga-ka Shimura Takako played it sweet in the first volume with lots of longing looks and strange dreams, but by volume 3 there are plenty of complications, including grownups getting into the act and classmates who just don't get it. Hormones enter the picture in volume 4, with puppy love, crushes, and jealousy, but this story is anything but predictable, so it's bound to be a wild ride.
Digital Deal: The first volume of "Twin Spica" goes on sale in the Kindle Store this week at the bargain-basement price of $4.24. This is a beautiful story about a young girl who wants to be an astronaut, even though her mother was killed in a rocket accident. It's more than just space school; the story is rich in detail and filled with surprises. The characters are quirky and the story takes some interesting turns. You couldn't spend a better four bucks this week. (Kindle graphic novels can be read on a variety of devices, including the Kindle apps for iPad and Android.)
Get Off the Couch: Anime Central, the largest anime convention in the Midwest, goes off this weekend in Rosemont, IL, about half an hour from Chicago and not too far from O'Hare. Last year, ACen pulled in over 24,000 attendees, making it one of the ten largest anime cons in the country. This year's guests include the musical vocal trio Kalafina, voice actress and singer Yuu Asakawa, who provided the basis for the Vocaloid Megurine Luka and played Sakaki in "Azumanga Daioh," anime scholar Helen McCarthy, and producer Taliesin Jaffe.
One Piece for All: The One Piece anime returns to Toonami on Saturday at 1 a.m. (EDT), kicking off with episode 207. The One Piece Podcast is near the end of its Kickstarter campaign to raise $7,000 to go to Japan and record at all the famous One Piece sites; they are within a few hundred dollars of their goal.
DIY: Fancy trying your hand at translation? Hikaru Nakamura is offering the first four pages of her "Saint Young Men" manga to the public via a Creative Commons license. Fans are allowed to translate and remix the four pages, and to make it easier, the editors of "Morning" magazine, where the series appears, are providing downloads of the pages in JPEG and TIFF formats. "Saint Young Men" is a gag manga about Jesus and Buddha taking a break from their deity duties and sharing a small apartment in modern-day Tokyo, so chances of it being picked up for a license in North America are pretty slim.