Saturday, July 14, 2012

Manga Review: Moyashimon (volume one)

*facepalm* Yep, next week's break will be good for me so I can finally get re-used to my blogging schedule. And I had even planned this one out, I talked about the first Moyashimon anime series early enough so that if anyone was interested they had time to try it out before the second season aired, talked about the second season on Wednesday, and then I was going to finish up with the first volume of the manga (which I stumbled across at a used bookstore and thought "why not?") so that the show would be even more present in people's minds and (hopefully) they would be more likely to try it out. So let's see if that plan still works, abet a day behind schedule.....

Moyashimon: Tales of Agriculture by Masayuki Ishikawa

Summary: Tadayasu Sawaki and Kei Yuuki are freshman at an unnamed agricultural university near Tokyo and somehow end up as lab assistants to an eccentric professor who has a passion for all things fermented. One might think that he would be more interested in Kei, the son of a sake brewer, but instead Professor Itsuki is more interested in Sawaki and his curious ability to see microbes and talk with them. 

The Good: So far the anime seems to have been a rather good adaption of the story and all the strengths (and failings) of the manga transferred over well. The pacing is roughly similar, there's only one short chapter in here that wasn't animated and I can see why it was cut, overall everything just flows rather well. It sets a good tone for the rest of series and I now feel bad for holding off reading this series for so long now.

The Bad: Again, the manga has the same strength's and failings as the anime so some of the problems I had in the anime (such as the fact that an agricultural university doesn't seem eco-friendly, which seemed like a rather large research failing) are present here as well. I'll also admit that I preferred Professor Itsuki's long explanations of microbes in the anime to the manga since it was much easier to tune out after a few seconds in the anime than to try and skim in the manga, and even if you do try to read everything that panels are so packed that it's hard to make out the words as well (I don't know if the Japanese panels were as packed or if this is partially a problem that came because of translating it into a language which generally uses more space letter/character wise).

The Art: First off, I love how the US cover was done (the original Japanese covers, from what I've seen, were a plain green cover with yellow text on it, this one is quirkly eye-catching) and it looks like the trend of recreating countries' flags with microbes would have continued if the series had (in the US). As for the actual manga, the art doesn't use many screentones and the pen and ink style gives the series a surprisingly gritty look (which stands out even more compared to the anime, especially with the art shift for the second season). It's also much more detailed than I expected and the characters look much more distinctive, it's not what I was expecting at all but I rather liked it.

So, there was one more volume of the manga released in the US, which was partially why I hadn't tried it before (there didn't seem much point in trying out a dropped, two volume series) but now I'll keep an eye out for it. I don't plan on making an effort to go out and look for it but if the series popped up on say JManga or if it got re-licensed then sure, I'll go and support the series, otherwise I'll just follow the anime and that'll be it.

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