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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

License Line: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Crisis

What is License Line? Put simply, it's a bi-weekly feature on Nagareboshi Reviews in which yours truly posts about a certain anime/manga series that truly, desperately needs to be licensed and put on my shelves ASAP - from the obscure but well-deserving manga to the stream worthy but not yet DVD licensed anime.

For the third edition of License Line, I’d like to focus on a possible license rescue that maybe a handful of people might be aware of. It’s a charming supernatural manga about a young boy who discovered a strange new world in his new neighborhood, and it’s publishing life was cut short by the infamous ADV Manga, who so far has made no exterior plans on bringing it back. 

Its name is Tengai Retrogical (天外レトロジカ) and from the first chapter, it stole my heart away with its charm and cast of characters. I'm sure that it will do the same to you - well, if you can find a copy if it, that is. Its current out-of-print status makes it awfully hard to find in bookstores; I was only lucky enough to get my own used copy thanks to a bookseller in the dealer's room at the first Bishiecon.

In the manga series Tengai Retrogical, high school student Ryohei is aghast to learn his father has taken over the position of property manager for a mysterious neighborhood of row houses called Tengai-ya, which is rumored to be haunted. When Ryohei takes his first cautious steps into Tengai-ya, he finds that the rumors are more than true, and that sleeping within the walls is a little girl who literally holds the fate of the planet in her hands – and it is now up to Ryohei to assist her in her cosmic mission to save the world.

Tengai Retrogical shares the same sort of niche genre space as Natsume Yuujinchou: both are about young boys who inherit strange devices and in turn a set of responsibilities that changes their world view; both take place in a setting that blends the supernatural and the real world; both have a cast of characters that occupy both worlds and are somewhat familiar with the unusual to a point of familiarity. Tengai Retrogical is just more upfront about its oddness and has a mission statement: retrieve memories and save the world before it’s too late. And it is wonderful and zany and for some strange reason ADV Manga only published the first two volumes in English before stopping.

Which is a shame, because this manga is the kind of thing fans of manga like Natsume Yuujinchou and XXXHOLiC would love and enjoy very much.  It has a vivid, playful art style that flows across the page with skill and its cast of characters along with its story makes it a fantasy series with enough quirks to rise above the fold and show its stuff among current contenders. It’s also currently publishing in Japan and clocks as of recently at seven tankoubons’ worth of material so far, which means if someone picked it up, there would not be a lack of chapters for publishing. This title would be a perfect fit at a place like Viz Media or even Vertical, which thrives on niche titles. Whoever picks up Tengai Retrogical, I’m sure they will not regret doing so – neither will their readers.