» Blog Archive J's Book Club: Seinen Spectacular! -
Kazan Jay Books, Reviews

For adult manga fans, the pickings aren’t exactly great. At the end of the day, US translation of manga is skewed towards younger audiences; so a good mature read can be hard to come by. Thankfully we do have some imprints bringing some great stuff to our shores, and today I’m going to introduce you to two decidedly underappreciated gems from VIZ. Terra Formars, a gory sci-fi action series that’s Starship Troopers by way of X-Men, and Food Wars, a cooking manga with a twist. Hit the jump for all the details!terra-formars-3420843

 

Terra Formars is a title to watch, for sure. Its anime adaptation is just starting (and is being simulcast on Crunchyroll) and the manga is on a steady two months per volume release cycle in the US. Terra Formars goes a little something like this. Earth, in a bid to colonize mars, attempts to build an atmosphere on the red planet by populating it with lichen and roaches. Years later, a crew of humans is sent to Mars to test the planet; and never come back. The roaches have evolved to be analogous to Homo Erectus; cavemen with all the strength and speed of a bug scaled up to match. The eponymous Terraformars, these bugs can rip through humans with ease and move with uncanny speed to match. Humanity, in response, weaponize animal genetics to create super soldiers with nothing to lose in order to deal with the Terraformar threat. The plot may sound like nothing special, but the execution is divine. It has that impossible corniness that good old sci-fi pulps had (I can practically imagine the cover to a  50’s Terra Formars serial now; GIANT BUGS!! MUTANT MEN!!) but simultaneously a surprising amount of tender care for its cast. Human emotion is displayed with tact and skill, never dominating the whole series but always there to remind us how human these characters are. At the end of the day this is a series about giant roaches and superhumans beating each other to death, and it never forgets that, but you’d be surprised how emotional it can get.

 

 

36Food Wars is a lighter read, but that’s plot terms. Food Wars is both surprisingly cerebral and downright delicious, with a dose of fanservice if you catch my drift. Illustrated, as it is, by a famous hentai artist, there are some dubiously questionable images in these volumes. But nothing too filthy, and it’s usually played for a sense of lighthearted drama rather than lascivious perversion. The main event in this title is the food, and I’m not exaggerating when I say this is a solid contender for the title of best cooking comic of all time. Simultaneously for major gourmands and absolute food newbies, Food Wars explains every dish with detail both tantalizing and informative. Boiling down to a series of cook-offs, Food Wars is essentially the best episode of Chopped; but it never ends. While it was a digital only translation for a while, Viz began printing it due to fan demand; and having these volumes in hand and on a shelf is a must for any fan of intelligent manga or anyone who can stomach some fun with their food.

 

So there ya have it; two great series you can pick up right now that’ll certainly scratch that new manga itch! And with both on solid release schedules for quite some time, no delays to fear! Buy without impunity and get ready for some great stuff.

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