NETCOMICS Releases First Manga Titles

NETCOMICS, the New Jersey-based offspring of Seoul's Ecomix, has earned a reputation for bringing high-quality Korean comics (manhwa) to the English-speaking market. This July, the publisher will release on their website cm0 and Three Times Before the Kiss, their first Japanese manga titles. Already catering to international consumers, NETCOMICS will now also be a vehicle for international authors.

Kazumi Tohno, one of NETCOMICS' first two Japanese authors, made her manga debut with Medicine Yubi Princess (Kusuriyubi-Hime). Five years later, she became a freelance cartoonist. She is a native of the Yamaguchi prefecture in southern Japan.

Her first title published by NETCOMICS, cm0 (originally published in Chorus magazine), tells the story of a romance between a university student, Hasumi, and a young woman, Miharu—who also happens to be Hasumi's professor. Miharu is engaged, but after hearing rumors about Miharu with Hasumi, Miharu's fiancé begins to suspect foul play and breaks off the relationship, claiming to have met another girl. Newly single and somewhat lost in her own life, Miharu finds comfort in the arms of Hasumi, never truly believing that the whims she follows while on the rebound will have any lasting effects. Through a series of chance encounters, misunderstandings, and realizations, all told with thoroughly convincing and poetic style, the separate lives of student and teacher become intricately intertwined.

Jion Imamoto, the other of NETCOMICS' first Japanese authors, worked primarily as a shojo artist from 2002-2004 (under the pen name Kaori Yanagida). She began using her current pen name in 2006 when she began concentrating on shonen-ai. She also works as an illustrator, mainly in Tokyo and Osaka.

Three Times Before the Kiss, her first title to be released by NETCOMICS, is a romance story about the struggles involved in maintaining a long-distance relationship. Keiko and Shun are a young couple only able to visit each other once a month. During these visits, they make sure to make up for lost time in as many pleasurable—and increasingly creative—ways as possible. When Keiko finds a receipt from a love hotel in her boyfriend Shun's pocket, however—a hotel that she has never visited—doubt and suspicion begin to take hold of her imagination. Her worst fears seem to be confirmed when Shun mentions his new "friend" Kiku, a pretty, flirtatious girl in Shun's music club who is all too popular with the boys. Keiko, meanwhile, has her own share of trouble resisting temptation while Shun is away. Told from both lovers' perspectives, Three Times Before the Kiss is a stark, frank story that humorously portrays the familiar world of college romance.

Also included in the same volume are two other shorts. Be My Thing is about Narumi, a naïve—yet somehow super kinky—girl who falls for the new transfer student, Yuuki. His innocence and inexperience, however, make Yuuki shy, even in the face of Narumi's obvious advances. Narumi, however, takes on the challenge with little hesitation and makes bold moves to win Yuuki's affections—and more. Three Rosy Choices is a twisted romance about 24-year-old Makoto, who has never had a woman make the first move with him before. Then, in one day, three women suddenly profess their love for him. Makoto has one week to decide: a lusty 34-year-old CEO, a sweet 25-year-old who's amazing in the kitchen, and a bubbly 23-year-old fellow student. At the end of the week, Makoto discovers one factor that all the women have in common. When this new information comes to light, it takes a special effort from one of the women to help Makoto reach his decision. Both of these shorter works are pleasantly light, funny, and romantic, serving as the perfect complements to the volume's title story.

Besides these works, NETCOMICS plans to introduce fourteen more manga titles, all brand new to the English-speaking market, before the end of the year. If these first releases are any indication, NETCOMICS' first foray into the world of manga promises to be a rewarding one.