This week, Sean and Michelle look at recent releases from Yen Press, Seven Seas, and Viz Media.
Alice in the Country of Joker: Circus and Liar’s Game, Vol. 4 | By QuinRose and Mamenosuke Fujimaru | Seven Seas – Another volume of Joker vs. everyone else in the battle as to whether Alice will live happily in denial or wake to reality and crushing guilt. Blood gets the cover, and it’s appropriate – of all Alice’s potential suitors, he’s the one that seems to understand why he loves her better than the others, who can’t move beyond ‘bafflingly attracted to her’. Like Ace, Blood enjoys seeing Alice’s changing facial emotions. Unlike Ace, he prefers those to be mostly centered around him and love – and if that means they’re all anger and venom, well hey. It also contrasts well with Peter’s overdevoted yet basically sexless love, and the ‘oneesama’ feelings of Vivaldi. Will we ever see Lorina’s fate in this series? Only if it heads towards a ‘bad end’, which I doubt. – Sean Gaffney
Inu x Boku SS, Vol. 2 | By Cocoa Fujiwara | Yen Press – While there is still an undercurrent of darkness to this title, I must admit I wasn’t expecting this volume to be quite as light and silly as it was. Carta, in particular, is a walking punchline, with ‘Peking Duck!’ probably being my favorite. Likewise the flamboyant lunacy of Kagerou, Ririchiyo’s fiance, means everything seems divided into nothing but masochism or sadism. That said, everything always gets dialed back when we focus on the cute yet arm’s length relationship between Ririchiyo and Soushi. The story of his upbringing is where the humor ceases, and his letter to Ririchiyo, as well as his realization of what they have meant to him, is very touching. Given the plot and the suggestive covers, I was expecting this to be a lot more fanservicey of a title. Instead, it’s proven quite sweet. – Sean Gaffney
Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 14 | By Julietta Suzuki | Viz Media – I spent an enjoyable weekend getting caught up on Kamisama Kiss, a manga I had neglected for far too long. Unfortunately, volume 14 isn’t the best representation of the series, since it’s largely introduction to an arc that finds Nanami paying a visit to Tomoe’s past in an attempt to save him from a 500-year-old curse in the present. That’s not to say there aren’t some very nice moments here—my favorite is the moment when Nanami realizes that her first plan would mean that Mizuki would never have come to their shrine, causing her to rush to his side and reassure him—but everything builds to the final moment, which promises some interesting developments to come. Just not, y’know, in this particular volume. Still, I like the series a lot in general, and have faith that the eventual payoff will be rewarding. – Michelle Smith
No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular!, Vol. 2 | By Nico Tanigawa | Yen Press – Sometimes I read this and it’s the funniest thing ever, where I take my time and savor each horrible moment. And then sometimes it just hits far too near the knuckle, and I find myself flipping ahead because I really don’t want to cringe as I read about Tomoko’s new humiliations. Balancing on that knife edge is what this series is, and I like the fact that it seems to be different for each reader – I had immense trouble with the entire arc with Tomoko’s cousin, but seeing Tomoko spying on a couple with two younger boys or her father catching her with a massager and a BL tape were hysterical. There’s something that every fan of dark comedy here will love, but buyer beware: each volume will also give you the creeping shakes at how horrible her life really is. – Sean Gaffney
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 19 | By Horoshi Hiibashi | Viz Media – There’s a wrap-up of the events in the past here, showing us Rihan supposedly taking out the Hundred Stories (as well as more of Otome’s psyche being quite fragile). However,k most of what we get here is complete chaos, as the Hundred Stories are back, and using the human tendency for rumors and mistrust to make life a living hell for our heroes. It’s impressive how well the author shows us things going completely to hell – you never quite lose track of what’s happening, but the sheer chaos of the sequences is fleshed out enough for you to care. Even Kana can’t escape the fact that Nura and his clan are yokai now, and it’s understandably making her a little upset. I anticipate next volume will have a lot of fighting, so it was good to see effective setup for that here. – Sean Gaffney
Toriko, Vol. 20 | By Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro | Viz Media – This volume mostly consists of a series of smaller short arcs meant to show Toriko and Komatsu on less life-threatening adventures. This ranges from Toriko playing Santa and delivering food to the hungry to the search for the stinkiest fruit in the world, the Durian Bomb. Having once been exposed to Durians, I can sympathize with this last one. This Durian also provides a healthy dose of humor, along with other one-shot gags such as the Full-course Meal of health-nut Aimaru. In the end, though, the best reason to read Toriko is also here in this volume: seeing Toriko obsess about food and be incredibly strong, and having Komatsu reveal how far he’s come as a character and show off his basic innate goodness. After 20 volumes, this title still makes me (sigh, sorry) hungry for more. – Sean Gaffney