This week, MJ, Sean, Anna, and Michelle look at recent releases from Yen Press and Viz Media.
A Bride’s Story, Vol. 5 | By Kaoru Mori | Yen Press – A Bride’s Story is a series that has been, over the course of its first four volumes, alternately educational, moving, funny, and just plain lovely to look at, and here in volume five it manages to be all those things at once. Despite some shaky early moments for this former vegetarian, involving the careful, detailed slaughter of a small herd of sheep, the twins’ wedding is even more delightful than I had ever imagined (and I imagined substantial delight). Even more charming are the subsequent chapters, in which we are reunited with the series’ original protagonist as she grows slowly closer to her young husband. I hadn’t realized how much I missed Amir until she was back in front of me, and this volume’s last few poignant, slice-of-life chapters were the perfect follow-up to the twins’ general wackiness. This is my favorite volume yet. Highly recommended. – MJ
A Devil and Her Love Song, Vol. 11 | By Miyoshi Tomori | Viz Media – I thought there would be more emotional fallout from the events in the previous volume, but Shin and Maria move forward into the next phase of their relationship, somewhat distracted by the search for Maria’s real father. This series is always preoccupied with themes of forgiveness and redemption, and while part of me thought that Maria’s father was forgiven way to easily for past events, a single panel of Maria telling her father that he’s a terrible singer with a gentle expression on her face did a lot to sell this particular storyline. While Maria seems more settled, I’m now incredibly uneasy about what lies ahead for Shin. This series more than any other Shojo Beat series does a lot to instill disquiet in its readers, which is part of its unique appeal. – Anna N
Happy Marriage, Vol. 2 | By Maki Enjoji | Viz Media – I enjoyed the first volume of this series very much, and the second volume delivered up plenty of frothy fun. Newlyweds of convenience Chiwa and Hokuto are having difficulties navigating their new relationship due to their various communication issues, and things aren’t helped by the parade of handsome men that suddenly appear. First, there’s Chiwa’s new co-worker Yu Yagami, who uses his “nice-guy” whiles to become Chiwa’s confident. She’s so oblivious she is unaware of his feelings for her, and she ends up friend zoning him in an amusing way. More serious is the appearance of Chiwa’s old college senpei, who tries to woo her to his company. Hokuto begins to realize that he can’t be so complacent with his relationship with his new bride if plenty of other men are noticing her too. This continues to be a fun josei series. – Anna N
One Piece, Vol. 68 | By Eiichiro Oda | Viz Media – It’s pretty much routine for things to get crazy in One Piece as an arc nears its presumed end, but this volume is crazier than most. A manaical villain, human/animal hybrids, a rampaging slime monster, body swaps, samurai, giant kids, a Naval presence, and a pirate alliance… It’s a bit much, but Oda keeps it together. This may also have been the first time when I really and truly didn’t see any way out of their peril for a significant chunk of the volume. It’s a testament to Oda’s skill that he can still create something this exciting on volume freakin’ 68 of his series. One Piece has been running since 1997, and to still feel this fresh is nothing short of a miracle. I’ll never get tired of extolling its virtues. – Michelle Smith
Soul Eater, Vol. 16 | By Atsushi Ohkubo | Yen Press – There are several cool moments for our heroes in this volume, particularly Maka and Soul, who get some good development over idealistic over practical, i.e. big fluffy angel wings vs. bat wings. They end up siding with practical, which is a good thing, as the enemy, i.e. Medusa, is ramping up her game. So much of this series has taken place right on the edge of madness – I mean, just look at the sun and moon, for goodness sake! – that it can take a while to realize just how far the madness has come since Vol. 1. Entire towns are now falling prey to Medusa’s influence, and Kid is still captured. And then of course there’s Crona, whose suffering Medusa seems to be deliberately pursuing for her own ends. I’m not sure how well that will end for her, but in the meantime Crona’s presence isn’t good for ANYONE. Another terrific volume. -Sean Gaffney