This week, Michelle, Anna, & Sean look at recent releases from Viz Media, Last Gasp, Kodansha Comics, & Vertical, Inc.
Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 13 | By Julietta Suzuki | Viz Media – This volume concludes the storyline where Nanami and her companions visit Himemiko’s erstwhile fiance Nishiki for their wedding, even though Himemiko is still in love with her human boyfriend Kotaro. Nishiki has gradually been changed by Nanami’s presence and his growing awareness of other people’s emotions. Nanami sees Kotaro and Himemiko’s relationship progress in a way that gives her hope for her feelings towards Tomoe, but everything is derailed a little bit when a toad spirit possesses her body. Nanami’s possessed form is unusually cheerful and doll-like, and Nanami as an amphibian is comically dispirited. Kamisama Kiss is always delightful and this volume is no exception! – Anna N.
Knights of Sidonia, Vol. 3 | By Tsutomu Nihei | Vertical, Inc. – Man, Knights of Sidonia is so good, I think I could happily read, oh, 25 volumes in a row. Plus, compared to Nihei’s enigmatic (to put it mildly) BLAME!, we’re actually getting quite a few answers already. True, new mysteries are cropping up all the time, including the rapid evolution of the enemy gauna that sees them creating a replica of one of Tanikaze’s fallen comrades, but the final chapters, in which readers learn the truth of Tanikaze’s origins, are incredibly rewarding. I’m honestly surprised that this information was revealed so quickly and coherently. About the only thing I could wish for from this series would be more “life on the Sidonia” segments. The battles are fascinating, but I’d like to see more of the characters off-duty. There’s a little of that here, and it’s neat, but more, please! – Michelle Smith
Little Fluffy Gigolo PELU, Vol. 2 | By Junko Mizuno | Last Gasp – Delightfully strange. Wonderfully absurd. If either of these descriptive phrases appeals to you, then you might enjoy Junko Mizuno’s Little Fluffy Gigolo PELU. In this volume, Pelu (an alien fluffball who has come to Earth in search of a bride to have his baby) pines for an enigmatic “soap girl” from afar, is duped by a sentient crocheted puppet, competes for yakiniku on a gameshow, becomes a sex slave and unwitting porn star, nearly runs off with a broken-hearted kappa girl, and meets his niece, who has an adventure of her own involving quintuplets and sparkly, magical sausages. PELU is wholly original and you are guaranteed to encounter scenes you’ve never come across in manga before. And even with all this absurdity, the story is still both coherent and compelling. Highly recommended. – Michelle Smith
Missions of Love, Vol. 4 | By Ema Toyama | Kodansha Comics – As I’ve noted before, my tolerance for trashy shoujo manga is basically proportional to the self-confidence of the heroine. This is likely the only reason I’m still reading Missions of Love like it’s eating candy. Everyone in this title is horribly flawed in some way, shape or form, none more so than our heroine, who has no idea what she does to everyone around her. We also have the addition of Mami, who is such a cliched “jealous rival girl” that I have to wonder if it’s parody of some sort. But the big draw for this title is still the sexiness, and more to the point, the dissonance between the brains of the lead couple and their emotions, which give the scenes like ‘bite me on the neck’ an extra erotic charge which you wouldn’t see if it were intentional. This manga is so bad for you, but I can’t stop. – Sean Gaffney
Natsume’s Book of Friends, Vol. 14 | By Yuki Midorikawa | Viz Media – This new volume of Natsume starts with two one-shots, one melancholy and one sweet. But the bulk of it is given over to his discovering more about his grandmother Reiko’s past, as we start to see what might become a backstory indicating how she even had a child – noted here to be out of wedlock. Natsume’s opening up to people is absolutely a good thing, and one of the ways in which he’s able to differentiate himself from his grandmother. But it also leads to pitfalls, as he can’t simply take advantage of his friends and family the way Reiko used to do. Caring too much is something Natsume has always done, but lately it’s getting worse, and you get the feeling that we’re headed to a breaking point. For now, though, we get some more yokai, and a slowly advancing plot. – Sean Gaffney
Rin-Ne, Vol. 12 | By Rumiko Takahashi | Viz Media – The last third of this volume of Rin-Ne is much like the previous 11 volumes, which is to say slice-of-afterlife comedy involving people who weren’t able to fulfill love so were unable to pass on, or alternately laughing at how poor Rinne is. The majority of the book, though, is devoted to a longer plot involving Rokumon, who is taking an exam to see if he can become a ranked Black Cat (which means a bigger budget for Rinne). He faces off against all the other familiars in the series, and the result is, as you’d expect from someone like Takahashi, more of a battle royale than a final exam. It does show off how earnest and dedicated Rokumon is, though, and how he can think fast when the need really arises. If you like Takahashi and don’t mind lack of plot movement, Rin-Ne won’t disappoint. – Sean Gaffney