Today, Anna, Sean, and MJlook at recent releases from Viz Media, Yen Press, and Vertical, Inc.
07-Ghost, Vol. 3 | By Yuki Amemiya and Yukino Ichihara | Viz Media Some of the worldbuilding in 07-Ghost is a bit incoherent, and I have to admit that I’m not exactly following all the permutations of demons that beset young orphan castoff prince Teito as he is studying to become a Bishop in the Barsburg Church. That being said, I enjoy the general atmosphere of this manga very much, and there’s usually a visually arresting moment in each volume that makes me want to read the next. In this case, Teito dives into the fountains at the church and discovers a secret underwater world connected to the cell where rebel Bishop Frau is being held. A bit of backstory was filled in in this volume too, so while I might not enjoy the demon of the week so much, I am still interested in this story. – Anna N.
GTO: 14 Days in Shonan, Vol. 8 | By Toru Fujisawa | Vertical, Inc. – The story was always going to get more serious before it wrapped up, and that’s what we see here. We’ve seen lots of emotional abuse in the past 7 volumes – neglect, abandonment – but the series does not shy away from physical or sexual abuse, and the bookends here are harrowing. Sakurako’s father returns with a crooked lawyer and doctor, and it’s only by outcrooking him that they manage to get Sakurako away. And Ikuko, who’s been mostly a minor presence here, finally gets a focus, as we see what she’s gone through at the hands of her mother. There is very much a sense of “Onizuka will help these kids, but who will help the ones in real life?” to this volume, with sexual abuse statistics included. If you’re looking for badassery, that’s here as well, but this volume works best when it’s ramping up the parental horror. – Sean Gaffney
Kimi ni Todoke, Vol. 16 | By Karuho Shiina | Viz Media – I’ve mentioned my general distrust of Kento before, and it’s good that both the author and Ayane realize this – as, later, does Kento himself. He and Ayane do have something in common, which is that they’re used to wearing a ‘playboy/girl’ facade to a degree, but have never really allowed anyone to really get inside their heart. It’s a very different kind of awkwardness when compared to Sawako and Kazehaya, who both suffer from terminal shyness and repression, or Chizuru and Ryu, who are having to redefine a very comfortable friendship into something different. This all leads up to the Christmas party, where romance is traditional. This volume also has some very cute art by other Margaret artists at the end, including Natsumi Aida of Switch Girl!, a title I’d love to see here. – Sean Gaffney
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 14 | By Hiroshi Shiibashi | Viz Media – In general, humor has been thin on the ground since we hit the never-ending Kyoto arc for Nura and company, so it’s terrific seeing Tsurara’s pointless jealousy as she realizes that ‘equip’ is something that can be done with anyone who’s close to Rikuo, and not just girls who are in love with him. Cue huff, and Rikuo’s bafflement. The rest of this is pure fighting, though, mixed with a bit of horror every time we cut back to Nue, or even get a flashback. There’s more death of innocents than in most Jump titles. Also, lots of familiar yokai designs – one of the antagonists here looks just like a yokai from Natsume’s Book of Friends. Still, things look like they’re gearing up to a final battle and climax. Of course, I’ve thought that before and been wrong. -Sean Gaffney
Pandora Hearts, Vol. 15 | By Jun Mochizuki | Yen Press – Oh, Pandora Hearts… dear Pandora Hearts, cruel Pandora Hearts. As expected, this volume is filled with fallout from the previous installment, some of which is scary, some oddly poignant, and some deeply tragic. Though Mochizuki’s storytelling continues to be occasionally abstruse, I find more and more that I’m completely willing to re-read as needed in order to truly catch on, volume-to-volume. As always, I’m struck by the emotional effectiveness of her artwork, which often provides clarity when the text does not. One wordless two-page spread in particular comes to mind (it’s part of the “deeply tragic” section). Though it would be impossible for new readers to even dream of jumping in at this late date, I’ll continue to recommend this for a good, epic read. This volume’s final page is permanently etched in my mind. – MJ
Slam Dunk, Vol. 28 | by Takehiko Inoue | Viz Media There’s not much to be said about Slam Dunk other than a reference to its general awesomeness, but this volume featured some art that reminded me a lot of Vagabond in the surreal moments that were frozen in time as Shohoku’s game against Sannoh continues. Panels focusing only on Sakuragi’s limbs as he jumps bring home the physicality of the game, and there’s are some insane visuals as Akagi is broken out of his fugue state when his hulking father steps on the court and shaves a piece of daikon radish on him. Sakuragi is rallying the team as only an idiot can, and if Akagi is able to overcome his opponent, scrappy Shohoku might just win the game. – Anna N.
Toriko, Vol. 15 | By Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro | Viz Media – The gentleman on the cover with his face shredded is Zebra, the fourth and most dangerous of the Heavenly Kings. They’ve always been eccentrics to date, but Zebra acts genuinely unhinged at times. Other than that, and Zebra getting the same vague mancrush on Komatsu that everyone in Toriko gets, this is another manga where you watch it for the amazing worldbuilding, as it’s a cornucopia of strange creatures, awesomely terrifying landscapes, and incredibly dangerous food. This is a more serious volume, than usual, though there is some humor (particularly involving the warden of Honey Prison, who has magical pheromone powers. I’ll be interested to see how things continue, as for once Komatsu is on his own in a deep labyrinth, with little protection from his stronger friends. – Sean Gaffney