This week’s haul at Midtown Comics inspires both some enthusiastic picks (and a couple of emphatic anti-picks) from the Battle Robot. Check them out below!
SEAN: Can I make xxxHOLIC my anti-Pick of the Week? :) Seriously, though, even though Midtown isn’t listing it, my store is getting in the 13th volume of Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei. Over the last several volumes, the manga has found its way, almost ceasing to be about any of the characters at all. I can’t even recall the last time Nozomu tried to kill himself. Instead, it devotes itself to a typical cliched behavior every chapter, and then picks it apart until it explodes. And if that means less attention to character development, well, the characters are exaggerations to begin with, so it’s less about deepening them and more about honing them into sharp, cutting blades. Which is why, in this volume, they proceed to butcher an entire prison full of guards. Want to learn why? Read the book!
BRIGID: Although GTO tempts me, I’m going with vol. 2 of Gate 7 as my first choice. Although the first volume had its flaws—storytelling that managed to be both unclear and repetitive, to be specific—the art is beautiful, and by the end of the book CLAMP had me firmly in their grip with the promise of a historical/supernatural story set in old Kyoto. CLAMP can be really terrible or really good, and I’m hoping that after a stuttering start, this book will fall into the latter group.
MJ: Well, Sean, I’m going to cancel out your anti-Pick by picking it! Yes, I’ve heard the same disheartening things about the ending of xxxHolic as everyone else has (well, without explicit spoilers—so please don’t spoil me now!) but I’ve loved this series for 18 volumes, and I’m longing to read its conclusion for myself. Unlike many readers, I’ve actually quite enjoyed the series’ post-Young coda (see my thoughts on volume 18 here). Watanuki was my reason for reading from the very beginning, and he remains so to this day. I just have to see how his story ends, for better or worse.
MICHELLE: Don’t spoil me on xxxHOLiC, either! I still need to finish Tsubasa! Anyway, I’ve probably picked this series before, and I’ll probably pick it again, but I must cast my vote this week for the seventh volume of Itazura Na Kiss. This series has its ups and downs, with moments both delightful and infuriating, but I still look forward to each double-sized volume. I’m especially keen to see whether Naoki gets any nicer or Kotoko any more competent, but somehow I doubt that will happen any time soon.
KATE: My pick is Tenjo Tenge…. NOT! (I chalk up that feeble joke to the lingering effects of Vicks Vapo-Rub and cough syrup.) While I second Michelle’s enthusiastic endorsement of Itazura na Kiss, I’m casting my vote for volume three of Border. Technically speaking, Border is yaoi, but it reads more like The A-Team than Bad Teacher’s Equation — well, if Murdock occasionally made out with Mr. T. I guess that doesn’t make Border seem very entertaining, but I really enjoyed the first two volumes’ mixture of melodrama, suspense, and teamwork. This is yaoi for readers who like a big dose of plot with their smut. Oh, and lots of handsome men in camouflage.
Readers, what looks good to you this week?