Category Archives: Swan

Manga Review Project: Swan Wrap-Up

Swan FinalA little over four months later, and I’ve finally finished my first review project: weekly reviews for every one of the 15 volumes of Swan released in English! Below are my final thoughts about the series and the project itself.

Check out the Manga Review Project: Swan here.

Final Series Thoughts

Prior to the review project, I’d read about 6 volumes of Swan via my local library. At the time, I knew two things: I liked the series and there was a lot of melodrama. Once I was finally able to land a full set of the series and read each volume one by one, I wondered if my enthusiasm for the series would wane. Reading one volume a week did help temper my enthusiasm, as opposed to reading them all in a mad rush.

Swan is a great series — beautifully drawn, explosive, and mostly compelling — but it’s better read in larger chucks. One thing I forgot to note in my reviews is there aren’t obvious chapters breaks throughout like in more contemporary manga, so it’s fairly easy to keep reading and reading. The series constantly runs on “Will she make it!?” but it’s easy to lose enthusiasm if you don’t stick with it. Swan is a manga where you just enjoy the ride.

As for the characters themselves, while they aren’t terribly deep individually, I really enjoyed watching them interact with and influence one another. Masumi is more of a reader stand in, giving us eyes into her world and the world of her friends. There’s healthy competition between them all, but an underlying feeling — at least pre-NYC — that everyone is in the game to put Japan on the map. The “split” mid-series is interesting then, as Masumi is forced to consider how she wants her own career to progress.

I can’t say enough how much of a shame it is that Swan isn’t completed in English, though I’m glad with got the volumes we did. To anyone curious about the series I’ll say this: Come for the art, stay for the drama.

Manga Review Project Final Thoughts

The main reason I started the review project was pretty simple: to practice writing reviews on a schedule, with a final goal. More specifically, since I’d just (re)started the blog I wanted a sort of force myself to post content. I was actually a little hesitant that I’d complete the thing, but here we are!

Still, even posting a review once a week is a challenge, especially if it’s the same series. Some weeks I just didn’t feel like talking about Swan, other weeks life got in the way and the last thing I felt like doing was cranking out a review. Admittedly, I did miss two weeks throughout the project, and reviews shifted from Wednesday postings to mostly Thursday. Still I would consider this first project a mostly success if just in perseverance!

The most important thing I’ve learned throughout the project hands down is to just get started. Literally, just start writing. The idea of having to write when I didn’t want to was, nine times out of ten, worse than actually writing. Something is better than nothing, and a jumbled mess is easier to work with than a post that takes ten hours to write because it has to be “perfect.” Just write!

Also, scheduling! I had grand dreams of writing reviews weeks in advance and scheduling them and let me tell you: that never happened. About half the reviews were written a day or so in advance at most, leaving me with a lot of undue stress for the others when I just should have written earlier. Remember: Just write!

That being said, I’m glad to say I completed the Manga Review Project: Swan! Remember, you can also refer back the intro post to find reviews for all of the volumes.

But the Manga Review Project isn’t done yet! Keep an eye out for another Review Project announcement soon!

Manga Review Project: Swan, Vol 15 (Final English Volume)

Swan 15Title: Swan, Vol 15
Author: Kyoko Ariyoshi
Publisher: CMX (US)/Shueisha (JP)
Publication Year/ISBN: 2010/9781401222307
Original Magazine: Margaret
Purchase (out of print, second-hand)

Masumi gives her all in an inspired performance, but isn’t enough to keep von Christ as her partner. To the shock of everyone, von Christ relishes his position under Bilanovsky’s tutelage in order to keep Masumi as his partner. Though it doesn’t take long for another choreographer to swoop in and scoop up the star duo, Masumi finds herself distracted by a new — and unstable — romantic suitor.

Continue reading Manga Review Project: Swan, Vol 15 (Final English Volume)

Manga Review Project: Swan, Vol 14

Swan 14Title: Swan, Vol 14
Author: Kyoko Ariyoshi
Publisher: CMX (US)/Shueisha (JP)
Publication Year/ISBN: 2009/9781401208745
Original Magazine: Margaret
Purchase (out of print, second-hand)

Margie, the dancer originally meant to become von Christ’s partner, encourages Masumi to attend a modern dance performance to see things in motion. Overcome by Margie’s performance and the crowd reaction, Masumi decides to give modern dance another try. Will Masumi’s new determination enough to convince Bilanovsky of her talent or will she be on her way back to Japan?

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Manga Review Project: Swan, Vol 13

Swan 13Title: Swan, Vol 13
Author: Kyoko Ariyoshi
Publisher: CMX (US)/Shueisha (JP)
Publication Year/ISBN: 2008/9781401208738
Original Magazine: Margaret
Purchase (out of print, second-hand)

It’s off to the Big Apple for Masumi and von Christ, who have both been invited to train with the prestigious New York Ballet. Classically trained, Masumi quickly finds difficulty in interpreting the stiff, seemingly emotionless movements of modern dance. Coupled with a spawling city and less than friendly classmates — both old and new — Masumi wonders if she has what it takes to survive in the big city.

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Manga Review Project: Swan, Vol 12

Swan 12Title: Swan, Vol 12
Author: Kyoko Ariyoshi
Publisher: CMX (US)/Shueisha (JP)
Publication Year/ISBN: 2008/9781401208721
Original Magazine: Margaret
Purchase (out of print, second-hand)

The Tokyo World Competition is finally coming to a close, but Masumi’s career is just beginning. With two potentially career advancing offers post-competition, Masumi must make the decision to stay with the familiar or venture a little further out for her dreams. Aoi, Kusakabe, and Kyogoku contend with similarly weighty decisions while the friends reflect back on just how far they’ve come.

Continue reading Manga Review Project: Swan, Vol 12