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Shaenon K. Garrity
This is where I write stuff.
New Smithson! 
6th-Dec-2007 03:11 pm
Sorry we missed updating last week. Brian had real work to do, which is always such a hassle.


Also, I've got a new All the Comics in the World column up on Comixpedia. This one's on Lynda Barry, one of my faves.

What with one thing and another, I haven't done an Overlooked Manga Festival since mid-November. Sheesh. Time to get back on the horse!

It's flippin' cold out here in San Francisco, but there's never any snow. Today I'm going to talk about a comic with enough snow and ice and cuddling under quilts to get me in the right wintertime mood.

Chikyu Misaki is a terrifyingly cute manga about preteen girls and baby sea monsters, two of the cutest things ever. Fourteen-year-old Misaki inherits her grandfather's old house in Hohoro, a tiny northern village where it seems to be constantly snowing, and moves in with her widower dad. Hohoro Lake is the legendary home of the Hohopo, a Loch Ness Monster-like creature. Misaki hasn't been in town long before she and her new friend Sanae find a baby Hohopo who follows them home.

Misaki and Sanae name the creature Neo, after Keanu Reeves in "The Matrix" (no, really). In addition to being adorable, Neo has the power to turn into an even more adorable tousle-haired little boy when Misaki kisses him. Misaki and Sanae take him home, make up a very weak cover story to explain his presence, treat him like a pet, and snuggle and cuddle the hell out of him.

To keep the manga from getting completely unbearably cute, there's a complicated B plot involving kidnappers, double-crosses, and a suitcase full of stolen gold at the bottom of the lake. One of the kidnappers happens to be a hot woman with a more than passing resemblance to Fujiko from Lupin III (which I've really got to do one of these weeks), who gets tangled up with the girls and Neo.

And, just to provide some extra plot, there's also some mad science stuff. And, I swear, a guy who looks exactly like Wolverine.

More than anything, Chikyu Misaki resembles a kids' animated movie in manga form. Manga: The Complete Guide compares it to "The Iron Giant" and "Lilo and Stitch," which feels about right. It's got a lot of elements you see in American family movies, like character-building domestic conflicts (Misaki is upset that her dad has a new love interest) and action scenes where kids face off against gun-toting crooks. And, of course, life lessons.

Recently, serrana asked me to recommend some manga for kids, and Chikyu Misaki might be a good start, although you'll want to scan it first, since it does have some semi-nudity and mention of adults in sexual situations. (Or, alternately, check out Jason Thompson's exhaustive essay on manga for younger readers at Comics in the Classroom.)

Anyway, Chikyu Misaki is a sweet, light story with irresistible artwork. And it's only three volumes long, perfect for finishing off on a wintery afternoon.

Previous Overlooked Manga Festivities:
Please Save My Earth
From Eroica with Love
Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga
Dr. Slump
Your and My Secret
Wild Act
Knights of the Zodiac
The Drifting Classroom
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 1
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 2
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 3
OMF Special Event: Great Moments in Manga Baking
Shout Out Loud
Warren Buffett: An Illustrated Biography of the World's Most Successful Investor
Sexy Voice and Robo
OMF Special Event: 2006 Overlooked Manga Update
The Four Immigrants Manga
Gerard and Jacques
Ode To Kirihito
Bringing Home the Sushi
Banana Fish
Skip Beat
OMF Special Event: The Greatest Manga Magazine in American History
Cyborg 009
Anywhere But Here
To Terra
Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms
Doing Time
The Walking Man
Sugar Sugar Rune
Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators
Mariko Parade
Golgo 13
Ricca 'tte Kanji!?
Pure Trance
OMF Special Event: My Legacy
OMF Special Event: An All-Star Tribute to Carl Gustav Horn
Guest OMF by Jason Thompson: 888
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
Tekkon Kinkreet
Yakitate! Japan
Flower of Life
OMF Special Event: Top Ten Lines from the Excel Saga manga
What's Michael?
OMF Special Event: Jason Thompson Presents the Top Ten Best Worst Manga, Part One
OMF Special Event: Jason Thompson Presents the Top Ten Best Worst Manga, Part Two
Comics Underground Japan
Slam Dunk
Moon Child

(Deleted comment)
7th-Dec-2007 12:19 am (UTC)

He's the best there is at what he does, but what he does ain't spelling.
7th-Dec-2007 01:55 am (UTC)
I've read the first volume of this series and loved it, but I haven't been able to locate the other two in bookstores. Well, I guess it's time to use the INTERNETS~! I love tousle-haired kids in manga, they're generally so cute!
7th-Dec-2007 02:02 am (UTC)
*adds another Manga to 'Must read' list*

You do realize that we're all going to go broke buying every volume of every manga you reccomend, right?
7th-Dec-2007 03:00 am (UTC)
Nice Barry essay at Comixology. I used to follow her strip in the Voice too (Lynda Barry, Feiffer, and Ben Katchor's Juius Knipl made for an awesome comics section!) I hope that she gets a million hits + mega book sales with the move to online.

I'd love to see some OMF love for Lupin III ...
7th-Dec-2007 04:02 am (UTC)
Yesss, I love short series.

I know I've read a review of this a long, long time ago, but I couldn't remember what it was called, and could only remember what the cover sort of looked like. At least, I remembered it had cute little girls with big eyes and snow. I thought it was Strawberry Marshmellow for a while, but proved myself wrong when I read that one. ANYWAY, what I'm saying is thank you for reminding me of this manga :D
7th-Dec-2007 05:07 am (UTC)
Oh, that does look like a good essay; thanks much.

I'm more concerned about violence than I am about boobs. Everyone in this household has already seen boobs. Violence, OTOH, results in screaming nightmares, which are so not what my already-sleep-deprived self wants to be dealing with at 3 a.m.
7th-Dec-2007 06:49 am (UTC)
This story seems to take place in a thinly-veiled actual setting. As it happens, when I spent a year as an exchange student in Japan I did a summer homestay with a family in Bihoro, a tiny northern town not too far from Kussharo lake on Hokkaido, reputed to contain a loch ness monster-like creature ("Kusshi"). And wow, I had not thought of that for fifteen years until I read this OMF. Thanks for the nostalgia! =)
17th-Oct-2008 04:36 am (UTC)
  Thanks for the nostalgia. Comment by Johanna on March @ pm How bizarre - I swear this is the recipe book I was swithering over in a second hand bookstore yesterday.
8th-Dec-2007 10:47 pm (UTC) - great if you can find it...no thanks to CMX
or Amazon.

Seriously. CMX forgot (http://www.dccomics.com/cmx/?action=on_sale&i=4648) to list the ISBN for volume 2 on their own website. (For as while there was virtually no info on the whole series.) As a result (?) Amazon doesn't turn up a result for Vol 2 at all when searched for, unless you go to Anime News Network to find the isbn (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/releases.php?id=5519) to search for. (Not that they have a link to Amazon's copy.)

Please, somebody hit CMX's distribution hamsters upside the head!

Anyway, a delightful series. Worth the effort.
16th-Jul-2008 02:04 pm (UTC)
TV) has coopted function, I hardly think Postman himself would approve of this kind of recommendation, but he's so much fun to read even if you *don't* agree with him that it's worth the effort anyway.
8th-Dec-2007 11:15 pm (UTC) - Sweet!
I've been meaning to read this forever! Now I'm motivated! I know it's presumptuous to make requests, but I totally think you should cover Kaiji Kawaguchi's "Eagle", Yayoi Ogawa's "Tramps Like Us", Minetaro Mochizuki's "Dragon Head", Yuki Urushibara's "Mushishi", and definitely, DEFINITELY Makoto Kobayshi's (creator of "What's Michael") "Club 9".

I think your OMF's are the best manga review on the web. That list of links at the end of your posts has pretty much become my wish list. You rock Shaenon, and thanks!
10th-Dec-2007 02:41 am (UTC)
A suggestion for future OMFs: Would you please indicate, before the first page scan, whether it's meant to be read right-to-left or left-to-right? I just went back through and read all of the archived OMFs, and often the story and layout were weird enough that I couldn't tell which side of the page to start on.
10th-Dec-2007 02:59 pm (UTC) - ot - cuzins of your gerbils?
Heya! Saw the video of this strange little mammal on the Beeb online and thought of your gerbils!
19th-Jan-2008 02:20 pm (UTC)
Oh hey! It's the artist of Ibara no Ou!^^/ I really want to read this now.
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