This week, Anna, Sean, & Michelle look at recent releases from Viz Media and Vertical, Inc.
07 Ghost, Vol. 2 | By Yuki Amemiya and Yukino Ichihara | Viz Media I continue to dig the Saiyuki-like vibe of this series about a young boy gifted with power who finds himself suddenly living in a church filled with mystical fighting bishops. This volume shows Teito dealing with the spiritual possession of his only friend Mikage. Teito decides to join a training class and become a bishop himself, but the power that he contains inside him might be too difficult to wrangle. There are plenty of random moments of humor sprinkled between slightly incoherent yet awfully pretty scenes of priests battling demons. I’m enjoying this series so far, as it has a distinct visual look and Teito is a sympathetic main character. – Anna N.
Barrage, Vol. 2 | By Kouhei Horikoshi | Viz Media – And here we get the other side of the story, and see that yes, while some promising titles are cut short by unforgiving Japanese fans and editors, sometimes series just don’t take off. Astro and Tiamat arrive in a new city, meet a girl who could have been the standard girl of Jump’s “two guys, one girl” lineup, learn her tragic past, and fight baddies. But then we also get Astro’s own tragic past, and a quick explanation of his true origin that screams “we shouldn’t have known this till Volume 11, at least”. It’s a vicious circle – the manga wasn’t quite good enough to continue, so has to wrap up fast with an unsatisfying “the story will continue” ending. That said, there are some nice touches here – I love the space whale – and the extra showing everyone was acting was pretty cute. Farewell, Barrage. In the end, you weren’t Jump enough. – Sean Gaffney
Jiu Jiu, Vol. 4 | By Touya Tobina | Viz Media – Some titles enthrall me, some titles bore me, and a few titles offend my sensibilities, but there are only a couple of manga series I can think of that have frustrated me as much as Jiu Jiu. This being shoujo manga, Takamichi has no idea what love is, and over the course of the volume concludes, a) Snow and Night love her, and b) she loves them. Which is fine, except she still doesn’t quite get what kind of love it is. The best part of the manga focuses on this, with Takamichi bluntly being asked “Do you want to have sex with them?” (A reminder: Snow and Night are dogs. Sort of.) Unfortunately, the rest of the manga has Jiu Jiu’s usual issues – an incoherent plot, inconsistent art, and difficult to like characters. It could be better than it is. Something I’ve said for 4 straight volumes now, so I’m starting to think maybe it can’t. – Sean Gaffney
Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, Vol. 16 | By Karuho Shiina | Viz Media – Ahh, Kimi ni Todoke is always a delight, even when it brings tidings of romantic turmoil for its protagonists. Chizu is in a daze over Ryu’s confession, Ayane is uncertain about Kento’s intentions (could she really let herself believe that he’s genuinely serious about her?), and Sawako is feeling exceptionally awkward and nervous about Kazehaya, who seems to be keeping something from her. This leads to the best scene in the volume—one of the best in the series so far, in fact—where Ayane and Sawako have a really good conversation and share some of their worries and insecurities. I think I am going to have to call it: Kimi ni Todoke is the best shoujo series for depicting female friendships. (Sorry, Fruits Basket. I still love you!) There’s also a fun tribute section in the back with submissions from some familiar artists; Aya Nakahara’s is my favorite. – Michelle Smith
Limit, Vol. 4 | By Keiko Suenobu | Vertical, Inc. – The world our heroines now inhabit continues to break down, with corpses causing accusations and screaming incoherence, and no one can trust anyone any more. Suenobu’s best trait as an author is keeping the tension ramped up the entire volume, and this is probably the best one yet at forcing you to keep turning the page to find out what happens next. The art is also a plus – at one point in this volume, Morishige looked straight out of Drifting Classroom, a title this work has echoes of. This is definitely a series that works best in short, 160-page volumes – as an omnibus, it would be entirely too crushing, and even in these short bursts I long to cleanse my palate with something that has humor and fluffiness. But if you like tense, over-the-top teen thrillers, it’s one of the most compelling. – Sean Gaffney
Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 9 | By Hiro Arikawa and Kiiro Yumi | Viz Media – The cliffhanger to the last volume is resolved quickly, in a chapter that’s the weakest of the book. Luckily, stronger stuff happens next. With a hero who can get as dense as Iku, it’s great to see her excel in something other than “kicking asses”, and her scenes with the children in the library are pure gold. Even better is the final chapter, which revolves around censorship of a certain word. At first I wondered if there was a translation issue, as the word censored seemed totally bland. Of course, that’s the point – unchecked censorship can go after any word, phrase or medium, and the sheer innocuousness of it is why the Library Forces – and real life organizations – exist. It also sets up another cliffhanger, of course – this series is very good at making you want the next volume now. – Sean Gaffney