This week, Anna, Sean, and Michelle look at recent releases from Viz Media and Kodansha Comics.
Dawn of the Arcana, Vol. 10 | By Rei Toma | Viz Media – This fantasy manga featuring a misfit red-headed princess struggling with her gift to see into the past and future has developed into an engrossing story with a focus on expansive worldbuilding and political machinations. The tenth volume heads into a new direction as Nakaba and Caesar are remarried to other people, while still determined to somehow build the better world they envisioned together. Nakaba has come a long way since her more tentative appearance in the first volume, so I’m looking forward to seeing what she does as she seeks her own political power with only Loki by her side. – Anna N.
A Devil and Her Love Song, Vol. 10 | By Miyoshi Tomori | Viz Media – It isn’t often that a shoujo manga volume leaves me with conflicting feelings a few days after reading it, but I’ve come to expect the unexpected from this manga. While Shin has been warned off from physical intimacy with Maria due to her psychological issues, he does force the issue with traumatizing results. Maria has unsettling flashbacks as her repressed memories are triggered, and Shin continues for a bit despite her clear distress. In a way this scene almost feels like Tomori’s commentary on the way similar set-ups are romanticized in manga, but in A Devil and Her Love Song it is genuinely unsettling. I predict fallout from this volume will continue for awhile. This is one manga that is always a bit unpredictable, which is why I enjoy reading it. – Anna N
Fairy Tail, Vol. 28 | By Hiro Mashima | Kodansha Comics – Several people may have been surprised, even a bit annoyed, at Cana ignoring her friends’ plight in order to reach the goal of the S-class battle that is clearly cancelled. Now we find out why – it’s tied in to finding her father, whose identity is someone we all know. Cana’s past is rather sad and lonely, and reminds me a bit of Wendy. Meanwhile, the villains strike back in the quest to secure victory on the island, and at one point are so strong they even take out Gildarts (who, it has been said, rarely appears as he’s such a game-breaker). Luckily, Erza wins the day by, well, her psychic connection with Jellal – sorry, folks who hate him. As for Grey, he quickly sees through Ultear’s false crocodile tears. But is that going to do him any good? Still a fun shonen battle manga. – Sean Gaffney
Kaze Hikaru, Vol. 21 | By Taeko Watanabe | Viz Media – Volume 21 focuses on the fallout from Sei’s stint as an undercover spy—as a result of Okita’s feelings for her jeopardizing the mission, Sei is transferred to another company. She’s never been one for just following orders and so demands an explanation, and when Okita claims he requested the transfer because he’s sick of her, she contemplates giving up on bushi life and becoming a nun until an actual nun helps her gain perspective. I enjoyed this volume, but I was troubled by the number of times various characters equate being a girl with impetuous thinking. Too, Sei blames the female part of herself for wanting love, but isn’t it equally the girl part of her that wants to be a bushi and avenge her father and brother? This is something that Basara got right, and which I thought Kaze Hikaru did too. I must say I’m a little disappointed, though my love for the series remains intact. – Michelle Smith
Magi, Vol. 1 | By Shinobu Ohtaka | Viz Media – I knew absolutely nothing about Magi going in to this debut volume, but it turned out to be pretty fun! The first chapter introduces Aladdin, a young boy with a penchant for good food, pretty ladies, and super-deformity. He’s on the search for a metal vessel for his friend, Ugo the djinn, who currently resides in the flute Aladdin wears around his neck and who can be summoned in times of need. When Alibaba, a destitute young man looking to strike it rich by “clearing” one of the mysterious and deadly treasure-laden dungeons that have sprung up around the world, witnesses Ugo in action, he decides that Aladdin must be his
servant friend and accompany him in this perilous endeavour. Magi‘s tone is light and the RPG influence strong, resulting in something that’s familiar and yet sort of refreshing. I’ll definitely be checking out volume two. – Michelle Smith
AshLynx saysAugust 5, 2013 at 1:18 pm
I was kind of so-so on the first volume of Magi. Partly because I’m sick of shonen heroes who likes boobs and are a bit perverted and the first chapter just starts you off BAM! with that. But I was happy to see Aladdin so calm in the dungeon, it gave him a personality trait more than “silly” which he had in the first few chapters. But I had considered giving up this series with this volume, but I’m not for a couple reasons. 1) Other Shonen Sunday series I like (like Kekkaishi) certainly took their time to get the ball rolling 2) The mangaka is a woman, and I do prefer shonen written by women and 3) The start of the dungeon has this glimmer of hope about the series for me. Still, I think the next few will be from the library for now.
Michelle Smith saysAugust 5, 2013 at 1:28 pm
Truth be told, I’d prefer to get mine from the library, also. And I think it would be good addition for a library!
I agree about Aladdin’s calm in the dungeon; I remember noting that aside from the “friendship is awesome” theme that most shounen touts, this one also seems to be suggesting “it’s good to think things through and not be impulsive,” which is *counter* to how a lot of popular shounen heroes (Luffy) behave.
Rachel saysAugust 6, 2013 at 12:51 am
I watched Magi’s anime first, and then bought the first four volumes while I was in Japan (yay, easy kids’ comics that I can actually kind of read!). It definitely took me a while to get into it, even with the anime’s improved execution of the first volume’s content, but the first time I really saw Morgiana in action after the Nomad arc, I knew I was in it for the long run. (The girls in this series are nothing short of awesome.) After that point, the manga just got better and better for me. The pseudo-Arabian, RPG-inspired world is a ton of fun—as are the many cute little references to the 1001 Nights—and I just fell in love with the characters, especially Alibaba, whose insecurities I find pretty compelling. It sort of crept up on me, but now it’s one of my favorite shounen series and I’m looking forward to receiving my own copy of the first English volume in the next week or two.
Michelle Smith saysAugust 6, 2013 at 7:36 am
That’s good to hear! I thought Morgiana was interesting, but she’s barely glimpsed in this first volume.