Though Melinda kicks off this week’s Picks with a new shoujo favorite, the theme of the week is resoundingly shounen, according to David, Kate, and special guest Michelle Smith!
From Melinda: There’s quite a bit of new shoujo on Midtown Comics’ list this week, including favorites like Kimi ni Todoke and Seiho Boys’ High School! But the one I most consider an absolute must-read is volume two of previous Pick The Story of Saiunkoku, art by Kairi Yura, adapted from the novels by Sai Yukino. The series’ first volume charmed me completely with its smart, capable heroine and compelling palace intrigue, even earning itself a place on my list of Best Manga of 2010. Don’t believe me? Check out David’s recent review, fully as delightful a read as the book itself. A strong opening volume can be a tough act to follow, so I look forward to discovering what Yura and Yukino have in store.
From David: I’m going to take this opportunity to remind people of my abiding love for Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece and pick the 56th volume of this sprawling, hilarious pirate saga. It would probably not be wise to recommend that someone who has never picked up a volume of this series start with the 56th volume, unless that person is a fan of great action cartooning. Our hero, Luffy D. Monkey, is staging a massive jailbreak, battling sinister jailers and gathering an ever-larger gang of allies along the way. The chief joy in these giant set pieces is to see how Oda manages to combine wildly improbable action, comedy, and heart in a mad jumble that always seems on the verge of spinning out of control, but never does.
From Kate: My choice is Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, a new shonen series that VIZ has been promoting up a storm. The story focuses on a young teen whose grandfather leads a demon clan. Gramps wants Rikuo to follow in his footsteps, but there’s a catch: Rikuo is only one-quarter demon, and can’t control when or for how long he turns into a yokai. Not surprisingly, Rikuo’s iffy powers don’t inspire much confidence among the full-blooded yokai, and various factions try to prevent Rikuo from succeeding his grandfather. The story hasn’t quite found its groove: the comic relief scenes aren’t particularly funny, and the characters haven’t come into their own yet. But the pacing is smart and the yokai designs nifty (think Gegege no Kitaro meets the Hokusai Manga), so I think it’s worth pursuing, especially for readers who liked Kekkaishi and Natsume’s Book of Friends.
From Michelle: It’s another wallet-busting week for manga! I’m definitely excited about new volumes of some Shojo Beat favorites, as well as volume three of Bakuman, which I realize isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but honestly, the one release on this list that has me going, “Eee!” more than any other is volume fourteen of Slam Dunk. Why? Because I’m allowed to read this one! You see, this is a series that benefits from being read in multiple-volume chunks, which occasionally requires me to bide my time and sit on some books until I have amassed enough to read them. I’ve been doing that with volume thirteen. Honestly, two volumes really aren’t enough to satisfy one’s appetite, but it’s better than nothing! And yes, I know, I know. I really should read Inoue’s REAL, which is, I’m sure, the better manga, but that doesn’t keep me from loving Slam Dunk whole-heartedly.
So, readers, what is your must-buy manga this week?