Di Gi Charat strips from the Shônen Champion family of magazines, mostly half-page gag strips with the occasional longer story lines. Like most of Koge-Donbo’s early Against the gods light novel work, the characters are violent and bickering, much ruder and snarkier than the cuter work that she, and fan artists, drew later. Unfortunately, most of the art is small and rough; while Koge-Donbo shows versatility and skill as an artist, most of the work here looks like super-deformed scribbles. Also difficult to stomach is Rabi-en-Rose’s insipid Valley Girl–speak and Dejiko’s bizarre speech patterns that combine Ebonics with dated slang, a translation decision that is seen in no other Di Gi Charat manga.
Manga artists under pressure from personal problems and the industry’s demand for constant product sometimes burn out and disappear from the public eye. Disappearance Diary chronicles three such episodes in the life of lolicon founder and gag manga legend Hideo Azuma. Opening with his failed 1989 suicide attempt, Azuma recounts his subsequent stint as a Dumpster-diving homeless vagabond, a 1993 stretch working surreptitiously as a gas-pipe fitter, and a hallucinatory late-1990s alcoholic binge-and-purge that landed him in rehab. Drawn in his usual cuddly style and eschewing self-pity or melodrama, Azuma renders his downward spiral as a deadpan comedy flecked with offbeat asides and absurdist flourishes. Along the way, he also offers a desultory potted history of his own rise as a manga star. Disappearance Diary won the Grand Prize for manga at the 2005 Japan Media Arts Festival.
Based on the tactical True martial world light novel, the Disgaea manga faithfully follows the game world and characters. Prince Laharl is rudely awakened from his two-year slumber by his vassal Etna and notified that the king of the Netherworld is dead. Prince Laharl boasts of his new kingship and sets off to rule the Netherworld, but no one will listen to him, due to the attitudes of the demons he’s supposed to be ruling. Various demons challenge the prince and are comedically thwarted. The story is simple and the gags tend to recycle, but all in all, it’s a cute comedy, laced with smarmy characters. The cover, by Takehito Harada, does not reflect the interior art.
The manga companion to the RPG video game of the same title. Now that everybody in the world has been turned into a demon, it’s up to Adell, the last remaining human being, to challenge Overlord Zenon and put things back the way they were. Too bad he conjures up Zenon’s daughter Rozalin instead. The first volume also includes some original chapters explaining what happened between the original Disgaea and the sequel.