The first manga I read for week nine was Ozama Tezuka's Pheonix. I’ve never been a huge fan of Tezuka’s work, mostly because of the way he designs his characters however I didn’t completely hate phoenix. I enjoyed the story – I like that he really pushed his characters to extremes in terms of their hardships and how they got through them. Many of the situations he created seemed morally very black and white, which was a little off putting – I felt a little let down when I saw the one-armed child getting chased around by the villagers. Still, it was nice that he allowed his characters to arc and change as the story went on, and that even though his theme of “Karma” wasn’t especially interesting the fact that there were multiple instances of payback instead of just one “getting their comeuppance” ending was interesting.
I also chose to read Solanin, a more recent manga by Inio Asano. Solanin is about a couple in their early twenties figuring out what to do with their lives. As jumping off point for story that wasn’t especially interesting, but the dialogue and character interactions are a lot of fun – even the most minor characters have a lot of personality. One thing I really like about Asano’s work is the way he renders his backgrounds. He uses a combination of photographs, filters, and drawing to create very detailed environments with a really nice feeling of atmosphere. The light and shadows in Asano’s work are usually very harsh, as if it’s perpetually a slightly overcast noon or a very bright dawn. His character designs also deviate pretty significantly from many of the more mainstream mangas.
The last novel I read for week nine, was Scott Pilgrim vs the World. I'd already seen the movie and was curious how it differed from the manga. The biggest change I noticed, was the personality of the main character. Casting Michael Cera for that role was definitely a good choice - he fit, and I bought it completely for the movie. But the character in the manga tends to act more silly and naive than sarcastic and awkward. I was also surprised to see that the side characters didn't have quite as much depth as they did in the movie. This wasn't a bad thing; most of the characters were sort of simplified down to a few key traits and then played off one another. I was just expecting to see more development of their personalities earlier on. Overall it was a good read. I got through the first 3 volumes and I'm slowly working my way through the fourth. One thing the series definitely has going for it is the style. Everything is drawn in a really appealing sketchy style - sort of a cross between the web-comic "Octopus Pie," and the manga "FLCL."