This week, Sean, Anna, Melinda, & Michelle look at recent releases from Yen Press, Viz Media, SubBLime Manga, and Vertical, Inc.
A Bride’s Story, Vol. 5 | By Kaoru Mori | Yen Press – The first half of this volume wraps up the wedding of the twins, who are adorable as they vacillate between wanting food, rest, and time to relax and wanting their wedding to be perfect and everyone to approve of them. The best part was probably the point when they leave, as it finally hits them that they’re leaving their family and have a minor breakdown. Luckily, their spouses are awesome. After this, we leave Mr. Smith on his way to Turkey and head back to see what’s going on with Amir, whose husband is still not quite grown up enough, despite her growing feelings for him. There’s a darker aspect to this plot that we’ve seen before with Amir’s family, but I also like the basic fact that she wants to be with her husband now as she really loves him, and the frustration is palpable. Nice volume, and Amir is finally growing on me. – Sean Gaffney
Knights of Sidonia, Vol. 3 | By Tsutomu Nihei | Vertical, Inc. – I remember being surprised by Sean’s reviews as he was reading this series because he referenced some wacky sex comedy antics, and I could not picture how that would fit in with the more serious tone with all the giant mecha fighting disturbing blobby alien shape shifters. Sure enough, there are enough bathhouse scenes in this volume to make up for any perceived lack of them earlier on in the series. What I enjoyed most in this volume though was learning more about how hero Nagate Tanikaze was born and why he was raised in isolation from the rest of the ship. This series still manages to be very intriguing, and the combination of space fights and the horror elements invoked by the squishy and possibly sentient aliens still make for a unique reading experience. – Anna N
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Vol. 2 | By Shinobu Ohtaka | Viz Media – It’s funny how things happen sometimes. A little over two months ago, I knew nothing about Magi. Now, I wish the whole series was out already so that I could binge-read it (though it’s still ongoing in Japan, so I’d be left hanging either way). The promise evident in volume one is developed nicely in volume two, with all sorts of fun adventure and shounen friendships and everything that still manage to feel fresh and unique. To top it off, the story heads off in a new direction and some new layers of complexity are introduced that I find really intriguing. The characters are endearing, but not bereft of mystery, and even the villains can be sympathized with in the end. I think I might have found a new shounen favorite. Thank you, VIZ, for giving me something I didn’t know I needed! – Michelle Smith
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 17 | By Hiroshi Shiibashi | Viz Media – In amongst all the shonen back and forth of the last few volumes, it’s been tricky to remember that these are all yokai tales, and that they can be quite scary. It’s a good thing we get this volume, then, which not only serves to set up our next villainous group, but also has some terrifying things going down. The conclusion of the Ripper storyline has schoolgirls with no faces… except the faces are also there, separate, crying out in pain and anguish. Then Rikuo’s friend Torii is captured, which is nothing new, but giving a yokai her form puts a nice creepy spin on things. In between we have the Keikain family investigating a haunted village, which is less interesting, but still has its shares of scares. Nura is at its best when it evokes mood rather than plot, which this volume does very well. – Sean Gaffney
Toriko, Vol. 18 | By Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro | Viz Media – As the manga has gone on, it’s gotten much better at giving Komatsu something to do besides look shocked at Toriko’s actions and cook yummy food. He’s finding foods that are the best kind for him to prepare, such as the Shining Gourami. He’s also not losing his moral sense, unlike his childhood friend who has become an even more popular chef through bribery and pandering. As for Toriko himself, we’re off to get a new food – this time it’s Meteor Garlic, which of course is much, much better than your ordinary variety. Naturally, this means we need more insane places to gawp at, insane food to drool over, and insane fights that Toriko and Coco (now back in the story after he placed 2nd in a poll and the author brought him back) can get into and look cool doing so. Not the smartest manga out there, but a lot of fun. – Sean Gaffney
Sleeping Moon, Vol. 2 | By Kano Miyamoto | SuBLime Manga – As volume one of this series brought to mind a favorite novel from my teens, volume two reminds me just how much I wish that BL series were regularly given the page count necessary to play themselves out as satisfyingly as novels can. This volume is just as compelling as the first, and the tension in its mystery and its relationships are everything a supernatural romance fan could hope for. But there’s also an unavoidable sense that we’re missing a few chapters that might have given the story’s climax more power. Don’t get me wrong—the story does come to a real conclusion, and overall this release is not to be missed. I just can’t help but think about what could have been. That said, I’ll be picking up anything I can find from this author from now on. Definitely recommended. – Melinda Beasi