Spice & Wolf (Manga) Volume 1 arrived at my door step this week. Those in the Twitterverse might already know this as I tweeted about it when it arrived, but 140 characters is far from enough for a detailed run down and so here we are.
The 3rd iteration of the Spice & Wolf (狼と香辛料) franchise arrives. First there was the light novel written by Hasekura Isuna (支倉凍砂) and illustrated by Ayakura Jū (文倉 十), then there was the anime directed by Takahashi Takeo (高橋 丈夫) and produced by Imagin with character designs by Kuroda Kazuya (黒田 和也) and now we have the manga. I’m not sure who the writer is, it says Hasekura Isuna on the cover but deviates from his original story in the light novels, though only marginally. I’m curious if Koume Keito (小梅けいと,) who illustrates the manga, or perhaps it’s ASCII Media Works who publishes it has any say in the changes or if Isuna has opted to change it up on his own. Regardless, each iteration has a mildly differing story which makes for a bit of freshness when reading as you’re sometimes surprised.
Some of you may know Koume Keito’s name and the sort of illustrations he normally produces. Spice & Wolf doesn’t really follow with the pornographic nature of much of his work, but he hasn’t solely done porn in the past, he’s also done manga. While I don’t recognize anything listed on this wiki page other than Spice & Wolf, I’ll just make the wild assumption that they’re perverted or pornographic as it feels like a(n) (un)safe bet. Following with that natural pervy nature of his, Spice & Wolf does have some aspects that would appeal to him I suppose, such as Horo’s (ホロ) nudity, but that’s not too common throughout and that might make this his safest series yet. Despite that however, Yen Press, the North American publisher and distributor of the manga has opted to place a Parental Advisory on both the front and back covers for explicit content which I think is really misleading, but I can see why they’d do it.
The book itself is considerably smaller than I envisioned when ordering, measuring 13×19 cm, smaller even than the light novel series whose license Yen Press also holds. When ordering I had envisioned something akin to the American comic book form-factor, which has been standardized at 17×26 cm. However the book I received is very much like a pocket novel. Having purchased one of the magazines Spice & Wolf is serialized in, Dengeki Maoh (電撃「マ）王), I can tell you that in it’s original format it was indeed much closer to the American comic book form-factor I thought I’d be receiving, measuring 18×26 cm in size. While the page quality in both copies leaves much to be desired, the overall print quality of Dengeki Maoh’s does come out on top due to it’s smoother paper, and more solid tones despite an overall more faded appearance. Yen Press’s print appears to have a texture throughout all of it’s pages, noticeable in solid or gradient areas.
Some other observations, the book obviously opens back to front by western standards which I admit caught me off guard at first. I’m not sure why I thought it’d come reversed because that wouldn’t make any sense at all given the content. Though, because of this I noticed that at the end of the book it contains an excerpt from the light novel, 14 pages in fact. Nice for those who wouldn’t know about the light novels. A more odd observation however is how the margins of the printing press affected the location of text within bubbles near the edges of the pages. If the text bubble was too close to the edge, the text was forced off from the center of the bubble creating an unprofessional look that even scanlators can get right. I would suspect this is due to the use of a standard novel printing press where margins like this are to be expected.
I should add however, this is my first manga, I’ve never purchased one previously, unless an original run of Fred Gallagher & Rodney Caston’s Megatokyo Vol.1 counts, but I’d rather forget that I own that. So it could be that American manga does indeed come in this form factor and my complaint is a complaint against all American printed manga, and not just Yen Press. So unlike the slip cover fiasco I wont hold this against Yen Press until further evidence is to be had.
Related but not Related
Found via Twitter, I’m not sure who to credit and the original was removed. Full size (1600×1200). Original w/o Red Eyes. These of course aren’t the original original, there was a variant prior that was less photoshopped and more poorly done. Here it is, at least this version has a tail. Unfortunately I don’t have the credits for it either, but I do recall the picture coming from an entire set, though not an entire set of Horo. Enjoy!