JManga, the digital comics site, launched its free digital manga service JManga7 yesterday with two well regarded shoujo manga series and a wide variety of other offerings, including free samples of a number of titles that are already available on its JManga sister site.

The two new launch titles are Crazy for You, a high-school romance by Kimi ni Todoke creator Karuho Shiina, and Pride, the story of rival opera singers, by Yukari Ichijo, a veteran shoujo manga creator and winner of the Kodansha Manga Award. JManga7 offers three chapters of each for free; readers who like them can buy the first two volumes of each series on the regular JManga site, which is offering them at a discount at the moment. (Interestingly, both manga are published by Shueisha, which is one of the parent companies of Viz.)

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This is a great week for shoujo manga lovers, with a spate of new releases in Viz's Shojo Beat imprint, plus a fresh volume of Arisa from Kodansha Comics. It's a big Shonen Jump week, and the digital comics site JManga is bringing back a slew of Kodansha series, mostly shonen, that were originally published by Del Rey.

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New York Comic Con is starting to look like New York Manga Con, and the latest announcement of a visting manga-ka came last Thursday: GEN Manga, the digital manga magazine, is bringing Nagumo to NYCC.

I reviewed the first five issues of "GEN" a while back, but if you didn't happen to pick up issue 8, you might not be familiar with Nagumo. "GEN" published his short manga "Let's Eat Ramen" in that issue, and as far as I can tell, that is the only Nagumo manga available (legitimately) in English. He has had two series in Houbunsha's "Manga Time Kirara Carat," a seinen manga magazine devoted mostly to 4-koma; to give you a flavor of their style, Yen Press has published a number of their other manga, including "Sunshine Sketch," "K-ON!," and "S.S. Astro."

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All the cool manga-ka are coming to New York this year; one series ends and another begins in "Shonen Jump Alpha"; and the end has come for "Otomen" and "Blade of the Immortal." Here's a quick roundup of what has been going on in the manga world.

A Bakuman poster from the SJ Alpha yearbook

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This is a very good week for manga, with Vertical's new edition of Ai Yazawa's "Paradise Kiss," a fresh volume of "Fairy Tail," the "lost" "Ghost in the Shell" stories, and more "Yotsuba&!"

Vertical has top priority for my manga-buying dollars this week with two outstanding titles: Vol. 1 of "Paradise Kiss," Ai Yazawa's story of a studious girl who becomes the model for a group of fashion students, and "Drops of God: New World," a standalone volume of their wine-tasting soap opera manga that focuses on California wines.

This is the second trip down the runway for "Paradise Kiss," which was first published by Tokyopop as a five-volume series in the mid-2000s; Vertical is releasing it in a larger format with more pages per volume, so their edition will be complete in three volumes. The series was so popular among manga bloggers that even after it was long out of print, they devoted an edition of the Manga Moveable Feast, a manga blog carnival, to the series. After Paradise Kiss, Yazawa went on to create the even more popular "Nana," which is currently on hiatus because Yazawa has been ill.

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Two of the best manga in print right now wrap up this week, Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys and CLAMP's Cardcaptor Sakura, and Dark Horse launches a new CLAMP series in lovely omnibus form, Angelic Layer. Plus the otaku's favorite, Genshiken, is back in a hefty new omnibus edition.

It's a great week for CLAMP fans, as Dark Horse has two nice new re-releases of their books. The first is vol. 4 of Cardcaptor Sakura, the omnibus edition, which wraps up the series. This is one of the great shoujo manga of all time, and Dark Horse has done it proud with remastered illustrations and extra color pages. And they are launching their next CLAMP omnibus series with vol. 1 of Angelic Layer, which was originally published in English by Tokyopop. The new edition also has remastered art and bonus color pages. Read More...

The two top-selling manga in the U.S., "Sailor Moon" and "Naruto," both have new volumes out this week, but my pick of the week isn't Japanese. The creator, Madeleine Rosca, is Australian, but her work was good enough to win one of the first four International Manga Awards given by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire: Claudia's Story Trailer

Yen Press is giving Anne Rice's novel "Interview with the Vampire" a whole new life, recasting it as a graphic novel and shifting the point of view from Louis, the original narrator, to Claudia. "Interview with the Vampire: Claudia's Story," with art by Ashley Marie Witter, will be out in November.

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It's all over for Bandai, "Barrage," and "Gakuen Alice"; don't bother asking, because there will be no "Duel Masters" manga for you; and the BBC's "Sherlock" gets the manga treatment—in Japan.

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Lord knows I love a good mystery, and the puzzle at the heart of the first volume of Lizzie Newton: Victorian Mysteries is a decent one, but this teen-girl manhwa (Korean comic) makes you plow through a lot of silliness to get to it.

The story is set in 1864 among the British upper crust, and it makes the most of both the period setting and Victorian attitudes toward women. In fact, it leans way too hard on those attitudes, presenting Lizzie as a smart, independent woman who spends so much time fuming at her sexist contemporaries that it takes away from the story at hand.

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New volumes of Chi's Sweet Home and CLAMP's Gate 7 await us this week; JManga has some never-seen-before titles in a variety of genres, and One Peace Books gets us back to school in style with a handful of manga adaptations of classic novels.

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Arina Tanemura is doing a new one-shot manga—in color; Naoki Urasawa talks about Pineapple Army and digital comics; and JManga celebrates its birthday with a variety of promotions and a new website. Here's a roundup of the latest manga news from the U.S. and Japan.

Urasawa Speaks: You don't see too many interviews with Naoki Urasawa, the creator of Monster, Pluto, and 20th Century Boys, but Rebecca Silverman managed to sit down with him for a few minutes. Urasawa seemed genuinely perplexed by the commonly held notion that he wouldn't let Viz publish 20th Century Boys until Monster was complete, and he talked about why he brought back Master Keaton in Japan—because after last year's earthquake and tsunami, so many people told him how much they loved the character. The biggest bit of news to come out of the interview, though, is Urasawa's distaste for digital comics—"None of my works are [legally] available digitally. I prefer physical books," he said, causing legions of iPad owners to roll their eyes and sigh. Read More...

It's the long stretch of August—it seems like everyone is either away on vacation or getting ready to go back to school. The manga releases have been slow lately, but watch for things to heat up right when the weather is cooling down. In the meantime, this is a good week to catch the end of Bamboo Blade, enjoy the hijinks of Love Hina, or check out some exotic titles from JManga.

This is the big week for Yen Press, and my first choice is vol. 2 of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, a darker take on the magical-girl genre. I have a few more reservations about vol. 6 of Bunny Drop: This series started out as a comedy about a 30-year-old bachelor who takes in a six-year-old girl, and it has now morphed into a comedy about a 40-year-old bachelor trying to deal with a 16-year-old girl. I haven't read any stories set in the new timeline (which started in vol. 5) but I liked the first few volumes, so hopefully the tone won't change too much. Meanwhile, the drama comes to an end with vol. 14 of Bamboo Blade, the last volume of this exciting kendo series. Also on deck this week: vol. 4 of The Betrayal Knows My Name, Vol. 13 of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, vol. 11 of Nabari no Ou, and vol. 10 of Soul Eater. Read More...

It's a slow week, with only a handful of releases from the usual suspects, but we have a few new things to stave off boredom during the dog days of August.

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The digital manga site JManga is celebrating its first anniversary with a spinoff: JManga7, a new unlimited-access manga service that will offer new chapters of manga seven days a week.

The site went live today, and while there is no manga yet—that's coming in October—JManga is kicking things off with a competition to win seven Nexus 7 tablets and seven free subscriptions to the site.
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