VIZ Media Pubwatch: December 2021

Viz Pubwatch banner featuring Nana from Viz Media

Happy holidays! ‘Tis the season for yet another VIZ Pubwatch. Today we’ll talk about some beautiful manga on the spookier side, including the vampire shojo Rosen Blood and the latest from Junji Ito. But first, some news, which is mostly videos.

VIZ Media releases holiday gift list

promotional image showing a snowman with a creepy face holding up a bleach blu-ray
Struggling to find a gift for your distant relative who loves anime? Never fear, VIZ has thoughtfully compiled a holiday gift guide for this year. They’ve also started releasing short comedic videos on their Youtube and Tiktok channels advertising various books, DVDs and merchandise, with appearances from voice actors like Maile Flanigan and Amanda C. Miller (voices of Naruto and Boruto, respectively). I hope they’re having fun.

Q and A with Maile Flanigan

Maile Flanigan in a Naruto shirt against a yellow background
Maile Flanigan, voice actor of Naruto across the many incarnations of the franchise, discusses her thoughts on the series and her experiences voice acting in the English dubs of Naruto, Naruto Shippuden, and Boruto. Voicing the same character for fifteen years might get tiring, but Flanigan brings passion and enthusiasm to the iconic shinobi. In the five-minute video, she shares her thoughts on how the characters have grown and developed over the longrunning franchise, and which sensei is the best teacher in the series.

Mangaka Mania ‘21 Content Series Continues

screenshot of tatsuya endo drawing anya

In the past month, VIZ has released videos of several mangaka drawing the lead characters from their hit series, including Mikio Ikemoto drawing Boruto from Boruto, Tatsuki Fujimoto drawing Chainsaw Man from Chainsaw Man, and Tatsuya Endo drawing Anya from Spy x Family. It’s fascinating to see how different everyone’s creative process is. Fujimoto doesn’t even do an underdrawing before jumping into linework, while Endo spends a significant amount of time refining his sketch and uses multiple layers to ink his drawing of Anya.

If you’re more interested in artists’ personal opinions than their drawing methods, VIZ also put out some Tiktoks of Junji Ito choosing “this or that” if you want to look at those!

Speaking of Junji Ito, it’s time to take a look at…

What I’m Reading

Deserter: Junji Ito Story Collection
Junji Ito
December 21, 20213D rendering of the Deserter volume release showing the front cover and the spine of the book.

Deserter is a collection of Junji Ito’s earliest short horror comics, making it a must-read for any fan of the veteran creator. His art style in the first few comics is noticeably shakier and stiffer than his more recent work, but the same charm and sense of suspense has been there ever since his debut. It’s a lot of fun to watch his art style slowly smooth out and solidify and his pacing improve over the course of the volume, as he tackles different types of horror and suspense throughout. The contents range wildly from a scriptwriter being stabbed by his girlfriend in a jealous rage to a body turned inside-out by a living nightmare. The most effective story for me was “Unendurable Labyrinth”, about two girls who get sucked into a mystical ascetic cult while lost on a camping trip on a mountain. The collection closes out with the titular “Deserter”, about a man who deserted the army during the second World War and the family he hid with afterwards. The range and creative experimentation Ito displays here makes this a collection worth checking out for anyone who enjoys horror manga.

Kaiju No. 8, Volume 1
Naoya Matsumoto
December 7, 2021

cover of Kaiju no. 8 volume 1 depicting Kafka transformed into his Kaiju form.

I’ve been reading this comic on the Shonen Jump app for a while now, so I was stoked to see it finally get a print release. Kaiju No. 8 is the story of Kafka Hibino, a member of the crew that helps clean up the city streets after kaiju attacks. He’s pushing 30 in his dead-end job while his childhood best friend Mina is the rising star of Japan’s kaiju neutralization Defense Force. Just when a rookie member of his squad inspires him to try out for the Defense Force again, a freak accident has the aptly-named Kafka metamorphizing into a strangely humanoid kaiju himself— the titular Kaiju no. 8. What makes Kaiju No. 8 really stand out is its unusual take on the monster-fighting premise and the incredibly striking and well-drawn kaiju designs and action sequences. The characters are fun and interesting. The dynamic between Ichikawa and Kafka is especially hilarious. They play off each other so well. Fans of Attack on Titan and Pacific Rim would probably enjoy this series, but even if you aren’t, I still think it’s worth a try.

Rosen Blood, Volume 1
Kachiru Ishizue
December 7, 2021

cover of Rosen Blood volume 1 depicting Levi

I thought this was going to be a reverse harem with vampires and it is not that because only one of the handsome men is interested in the protagonist, but there are a lot of handsome men so this will still probably appeal to reverse harem fans. A beautiful young woman named Stella suddenly finds herself as a maid in service to several “brothers” who look nothing alike, and who seem to eat only mysterious candy crystals. To no one’s surprise, they’re vampires who want to drink her blood. Levi Ruin, the man who found her, seems to be especially drawn to her, and struggles between his attraction and his bloodlust. Classic paranormal romance, in other words. Rosen Blood might not be the most original story, but it’s brilliantly executed— the detailed illustrations are rendered so softly and delicately. This comic is a visual delight, even if it put the… youthful Yoel in short shorts and a garterbelt. Very surprised short shorts exist in Fantasy 1800s Western Europe, but, sure why not! If you like your pretty boys supernatural, Rosen Blood’s a decent take on this tale as old as time.

That’s all I’ve got for you this month! See you next year for more VIZ news and reviews!

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