Or: Frequent Shopper Points are Dangerous
Adorning the cover of Manga Time Kirara’s November 2013 edition is the eponymous leading lady of Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro. She is portrayed holding a spyglass in what appears to be a clock tower. The magazine also includes, amongst other lesser-known series, a chapter of Yuyushiki. A chapter in which the motherly Yoriko Matsumoto features prominently, and the purple-haired Yukari performs quite the impressive Shaft Head Tilt™.
In the Occident, Kuro is published by Yen Press with three volumes released at time of writing. Satoko Kiyuduki, author and artist to Kuro, has published four volumes in total. The fourth includes stunning pieces of art, and appears to take a more involved look at Kuro’s past and curse. I’ve probably been spoilt; likely not by much, however, as I can’t read or speak Japanese beyond asking where the wine section is.
'Someday, I'd like to paint a picture that looks as if the sky has been cut out.'
The humble 4-koma: a style of manga featuring four panels aligned vertically; otherwise known as yonkoma or four panel manga. Most examples are found acting as a complement to series, an extra bonus awaiting those who acquire the bound volumes. Look no further than Hayate the Combat Butler, Genshiken, or The World God Only Knows for plentiful examples. They are also found in Japanese newspapers and magazines, akin to our own political cartoons. They are short, sweet, and relatively ubiquitous.
Yet, some manga use the format for the series itself. Again copious examples may be found, some of which have anime adaptations. Hidamari Sketch, K-On, Lucky Star, and the recently adapted Kill Me Baby, are just a few examples. All are generally light series, never straying too far from a slice of life and mostly including comedic elements. Indeed, the style itself is effectively defined by light, airy comedies.
Yet, there are always exceptions to a rule, and it is these exceptions that I find affecting.