Lyn Jensen's Blog: Manga, Music, and Politics

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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Manga Review: My Neighbor Seki

My Neighbor Seki by Takuma Morishige (Vertical Comics 2011 to the present)
by Lyn Jensen
Just like any other type of comics, manga works across a range of demographics, from adults-only material to subjects suitable for family newspapers. The latter includes the very popular My Neighbor Seki, which Vertical Comics is continuing to make available in America. The series started in Japan in 2010, was first published in the USA in 2011 and--last time we checked the Vertical website--was up to ten volumes and counting. In Japan it's inspired two TV series--one live action and the other animated.
Think of Seki as a little like a Japanese Peanuts--although that comparison is a considerable stretch. Like Peanuts, it's about schoolchildren, living in a children's-eye world where adults almost never intrude. The kids in Seki are a little older than the Peanuts gang--they're probably in junior high or middle school. To read the manga is to go along with the Seki and classmates on juvenile flights of fancy, yet the characters remain students and the settings remain everyday scenes of educational life.
Seki contains very little dialog, mostly being played out internally in the mind of the main character--who's not Seki, but rather Seki's "neighbor" at the next desk, a nice quiet schoolgirl named Rumi who doesn't approve of Seki's antics. Through her eyes we see and laugh about what her troublesome classmate is doing in episode after episode.
Morishige, the creator/artist/author of Seki, is the younger brother of a very popular female manga-ka, Akiko Higashimura, who's probably best-known in America for Princess Jellyfish. In 2015 she created a controversial short-lived manga called Himozairu. Its concept was that young men might train themselves at domestic chores so that their lady friends might find them more likely prospective husbands. So many Japanese men found it so very offensive that it didn't last long.
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