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PotW: Kaze Hikaru, Gintama, Saiunkoku, Cardcaptor

It’s another strong week at Midtown Comics! Check out the Manga Bookshelf bloggers’ picks below!

KATE: After last week’s meager offerings, this week’s new arrival list has something for everyone: robots, magical girls, hoop fanatics, mad surgeons, cross-dressing samurai. Though I’m looking forward to reading Tank Tankuro: The Pre-War Years, 1934-1935, my heart belongs to Kaze Hikaru, which returns to the VIZ publishing schedule after a one-year hiatus. Volume nineteen unfolds against the backdrop of Commodore Perry’s arrival in Tokyo Bay. Taeko Watanabe milks this political crisis for all its dramatic potential, but never loses sight of her story’s core: the relationship between Sei and Soji. Crisp artwork, memorable characters, and a sophisticated treatment of Edo-era history are the frosting on this delicious cake.

MICHELLE: There’s much on this week’s Midtown list that I will personally be buying—especially Cardcaptor Sakura and Slam Dunk—but nothing that I want more or care about more than volume nineteen of Kaze Hikaru, so I’m going to have to piggyback on Kate’s pick this week. The fact that the heroine is cross-dressing throughout may give one the impression that the series is a comedy, and certainly there are humorous elements, but mostly it’s an emotional story of one girl’s attempts to understand the other samurai and their notions about honor. It’s been a full year since the release of volume eighteen, which leaves me pretty worried for the fate of the series. This is not a case where releases have slowed down because we’ve caught up to Japan—volume 30 just came out there—but simply due to low sales. So, please check out Kaze Hikaru! Even if you think you don’t like shoujo.

SEAN: This saddens me, but I too must pick a doomed series as my Pick of the Week. The final volume of Gintama from Viz is not, of course, the final volume in Japan. There, the series is quite popular, and in no danger of ending soon. Sadly, that may be *why* Viz is ending it – mediocre sales don’t justify its constant release. A shame, as it’s not only one of Jump‘s funniest series, but also highly dramatic and battle-heavy at times, with great female characters to boot.

MELINDA: This really is a tough week, isn’t it? With new volumes of Black Jack and Cardcaptor Sakura shipping this week, not to mention a whole host of terrific options from Viz’s Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat lines, it’s incredibly difficult to choose just one. In the end, I think I’ll cast my vote for volume four of The Story of Saiunkoku, one of my favorite new shoujo titles from the past year. Quite a number of us have written glowingly about this series, and particularly about its smart, spunky, civic-minded heroine, but I think one of my favorite observations about her comes from Cathy Yan’s recent installment of Don’t Fear the Adaptation, ” Shoujo heroines often pay lip service to a life framed around something other than romance, but Shurei actually lives that life.” Yes, that. Definitely a must-buy.

DAVID: Good grief, it is an embarrassment of riches this week. I could easily pick Tezuka’s Black Jack or Saiunkoku, or I could branch out for Gajo Sakamoto’s Tank Tankuro. All of the reasonable arguments for these books are deafened by how much I loved Dark Horse’s first omnibus of CLAMP’s Cardcaptor Sakura. Adorable, sly, funny, exciting, and beautifully produced, I’ve been counting the days to this release since about the minute I finished reading the first volume.

Readers, what looks good to you this week?

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  1. My pick of the week is the fourth volume of The Story of Saiunkoku. It is great to see a shoujo manga that doesn’t focus on romance, which we don’t see much these days. A masterpiece! Now if only some company would acquire the light novels.

    Volume 19 of Kaze Hikaru is another release I have been waiting for. Another shoujo that doesn’t focus on romance. It is nice seeing the relationship between Soji and Sei develops, though I don’t think it will be an easy road. Hijikata and Soji are my favorites in this series.
    The one-year hiatus made me worry too that I was sure they would drop the series but I am glad that volume 19 came out and I understood that they will continue to publish it but it will be coming out so slow. I just hope they won’t drop the series as it is one of the best shoujo available in English.

  2. Gintama, I will miss the times where reading your latest volume brought me tears and got me falling off my bed. Now, instead of reading a copy of your work, I now have to read it online. NOOO!!! I want to read it like I did with the other 22 volumes! Man, this is going to suck…maybe Viz/Jmanga will bring it back?

    • Agreed. I don’t know how many times I would be reading Gintama and my b/f would come into the room to ask me what the hell was so funny.

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