This week, MJand Sean check out recent releases from Yen Press, Viz Media, Kodansha Comics, and Vertical, Inc.
Bunny Drop, Vol. 9 | By Yumi Unita | Yen Press – So, it’s finally here. Yes, it. You know what I’m talking about, fan of Bunny Drop. In fact, it’s difficult to imagine that any manga fan online has avoided hearing all about the controversial romance between Bunny Drop‘s teenaged Rin and her forty-something guardian, Daikichi, which began brewing out of the blue in the series’ last volume, at least on Rin’s side. Rin’s feelings are revealed fully in this final volume, and though things progress just as reported (feared?), Unita still manages to surprise me. Her ending is both as awkward and as oddly right as I might have wished—emotionally complicated and utterly unsexy (which, for once, is a really good thing). Though it’s still hard for me to buy in to Rin’s sudden feelings, Daikichi’s reaction rings perfectly true, and that makes all the difference, at least for this reader. Still recommended. Honestly. – MJ
A Devil And Her Love Song, Vol. 10 | By Miyoshi Tomori | Viz Media – Well, we’ve been wanting Shin and Maria to finally have a nice long kiss, right? Be careful what you wish for. The scene in the music room with Maria’s breakdown was as raw and shattering as this manga has ever gotten, and I was surprised that it was then topped by Maria in her own apartment, contemplating something unthinkable. Never in this entire series have I been more grateful that Ayu exists. There’s still a lot to work through here, though, and it’s not going to go away due to a sweet hug on the rooftop. I suspect Kurosu just isn’t going to let this go, and it’s hinted that he knows even more about Maria’s past. Altogether, this is one of the best volumes yet of this series, typing together Maria’s past, her friendship with Anna, and her romance with Shin into one big screwed-up package. – Sean Gaffney
Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 13 | By Julietta Suzuki | Viz Media – I will confess to being surprised by not one, but two plot twists in this volume. First of all, things were slowly being set up to show that sometimes duty is more important than true love, particularly when it involves a human. Of course, I was then taken aback when true love won out after all, though I appreciated Nishiki’s character growth. More to the point, I was very surprised and happy that Tomoe didn’t immediately cotton on to Nanami’s being ‘fake’. So many fantasy stories have the true love easily able to spot that the one in front of them isn’t the right one, it was great to see that no, Tomoe didn’t get it right away, particularly given it was Nanami’s own body. Another fun volume here, with hints at something darker coming soon, involving Tomoe’s past. – Sean Gaffney
Kimi ni Todoke, Vol. 17 | By Karuho Shiina | Viz Media – A.K.A. “The Payoff Volume”. Everyone knows that long-running romance series run on ‘will they or won’t they’, but there’s only so long you can hold onto that without frustrating the audience away. And so here we get big payoffs to two of our three couples. (Chizu and Ryu are sweet, but sort of take a back seat here aside from one big present moment.) It’s thematically appropriate, given Japanese customs, that this all happens at Christmas, as Yano finally gives in and opens up to Kento, and Kazehaya finally breaks free from his own chains and admits how much he physically desires Sawako. We also get some nice scenes from Pin, who always gives great advice even if he’s being a complete goofball. Overall, this is a pitch-perfect volume that everyone who follows the series will love. – Sean Gaffney
Knights of Sidonia, Vol. 4 | By Tsutomu Nihei | Vertical, Inc. – I find it amusing, given this is a sci-fi action horror thriller sort of story, that I keep focusing on the awkward and goofy romantic comedy love triangle that also is happening within its pages. But it’s just so much fun, and really helps to make the series not just one big depressing angstfest. (Also, the book of Secrets about Sidonia should totally have had Toilet Hinako somewhere.) That said, there’s also a lot of dark tension here as well, as we continue to realize just how much the leaders of the ship seems to have it in for Tanizake. There’s also some rather terrifying body horror towards the end, that startled me quite a bit. The plot is still a bit overly complex for me to take in at times (it may benefit from reading in large chunks), but this is still space opera at its most compelling. – Sean Gaffney
Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 10 | By Kiiro Yumi and Hiro Arakawa | Viz Media – Sometimes it seems that Iku just can’t catch a break. As if it isn’t bad enough coping with her newfound love for Dojo, she also has some buried jealousy of Shibazaki tormenting her (oh, if she only knew how likely it was that the feeling was mutual), more bullying from a new group of girls, and her parents finally becoming aware that she’s a soldier and not merely a simple librarian after all. Of course, all these stress points end up becoming ways to give us compelling, heartwarming and satisfying drama. (We also see more of the still newborn Tezuka/Shibazaki romance, which I love to bits but which will likely be far harder to pull off than simple-minded Iku’s love.) It’s easy to forget this is a spinoff franchise, based on a light novel and with an anime as well It doesn’t read like a cash-in at all. – Sean Gaffney
The Wallflower, Vol. 31 | By Tomoko Hayakawa | Kodansha Comics – Yes, in practice this volume ends the same way that the previous 30 have, with minimal forward movement between our heroes. However, I do think there are some very important signposts here towards an endgame, particularly in the 2-parter involving Sunako’s friend Yuki, who we first met in Vol. 6 (so long ago they have to footnote it.) Yuki is dealing with a painful first love, and at first it looks like things may go badly. But when her love is returned, we see her suddenly morph into… a beautiful, normal proportioned shoujo person. It’s always been only Sunako who pulls off the SD vs. normal switch with any regularity, so this is yet another sign that it’s not literal, but a figurative transformation that depends on the self-image of the person. All this, plus a Yuki chapter! (No, the other Yuki.) Recommended to those who still read it. – Sean Gaffney