This week, Michelle, Sean, & Anna look at recent releases from Viz Media and Yen Press.
A Devil and Her Love Song, Vol. 13 | By Miyoshi Tomori | Viz Media – Recently, A Devil and Her Love Song has been pretty melodramatic, but I’m pleased to report that the thirteenth and final volume is the best in some time. The best parts, though, have nothing to do with main couple Maria and Shin. Instead, I really liked how much focus the group of friends received as a whole, particularly Ayu, with her unrequited feelings for Yusuke, and Yusuke with his unrequited feelings for Maria. Their plight is much more genuinely interesting than that of Maria and Shin, and the ending is actually kind of awesomely bittersweet, if I am interpreting Yusuke’s narration in the right way. Unfortunately, the series struggled a little getting to this point, and I’m not sure if I’m down for rereading it, but at least it comes to a very satisfatory conclusion. – Michelle Smith
Durarara!!: Saika Arc, Vol. 3 | By Ryohgo Narita, Suzuhito Yasuda, and Akiyo Satorigi | Yen Press – In the first Durarara!! arc, we saw how seemingly meek and mild-mannered Mikado was far more than he seemed. In this arc, we discover the same thing about quiet and reserved Anri, who is quiet and reserved for a very good reason. The series has several ‘monsters’ in it – Celty, Shizuo and his strength, and now, as we discover, Anri. Yet it also takes pains to show us how human and relatable they all are, and in fact the one inhuman monster left, Izaya, seemingly has no superpowers at all (is jerkass a superpower?). It’s a fun series with lots of fights and smug characters being smug. I expect the Yellow scarves arc, coming this fall, will focus on Masaomi, given what we’ve seen so far. I hear it’s much darker than the Saika Arc. – Sean Gaffney
Library Wars: Love and War, Vol 11 | By Kiiro Yumi | Viz Media – I feel like it has been quite some time since I’ve been able to enjoy a new volume of Library Wars. This volume takes a turn towards the grim and solemn side, as a confrontation defending freedom of expression at a museum turns deadly, giving Iku her first traumatic combat experience, and severely wounding superior officer Genda. Dojo helps Iku get through the aftermath as best he can, but the political pressures on the Library Corps prompt Commander Inamine to announce his resignation, leading to even more emotional turmoil in the ranks. Library Wars tends to shift in tone a bit, and this volume didn’t have much of the light-hearted scenes to break up the action and angst. I did find this volume very gripping and I’m looking forward to what happens next, hopefully with a bit of relaxation time for my favorite front line combat librarians. – Anna N
Magi, Vol. 4 | By Shinobu Ohtaka | Viz Media – The first half of this volume is devoted to showing off the pure awesome that is Morgiana, and I for one could not be happier. Aladdin may have destiny, and Alibaba may have street smarts, but Morgiana has PURE POWER, and she learns here how to use it to help and save others. Meanwhile, in case the cover didn’t clue you in, we get a new hero introduced in the 2nd half. Given that his name is Sinbad, I expect that he will be playing a large role here. As for Alibaba, well, we’re not really sure what to make of him, as he seems to have joined the side of the villains this time around. Luckily, his friends are there to beat some sense into him (literally at times), and I expect that the nxt volume will give us a nice, tragic backstory to explain everything. This is still a terrific shone action series. – Sean Gaffney
Strobe Edge, vol 9 | By Io Sakisaka | Viz Media – I could feel myself getting a little bit impatient with this series during the last volume, and I am still looking forward to the conclusion, just because I generally don’t enjoy romance scenarios where the inevetible main couple is kept apart because they refuse to actually talk to each other about their emotions. This does continue a bit in this volume, but I’m also really enjoying Sakisaka’s art while I’m waiting for Ninako and Ren to hurry up and finally get together. Here Ninako’s holding back from confessing her feelings again for Ren due to her not wanting to hurt Ando, while Ren finally seems to be ready to force the issue. The next volume is the last, which seems about right for this series. Even though the plot elements are a bit predictable, Sakisaka’s execution of standard shoujo manga tropes is excellent, and I hope that more series from her get translated. – Anna N
Voice Over! Seiyu Academy, Vol. 3 | By Maki Minami | Viz Media – Most of this volume is devoted to the fact that Hime can’t do her ‘prince voice’ on command, and trying to make it come naturally to her. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done – to date, she’s only done it when the situation really needed it, which isn’t something that an actor can count on all the time. Luckily, she has her manager and friends to help her, even if it may also involve falling for her. (She’s contrasted with another actress who didn’t have the willpower to succeed Hime possesses.) We also get a closer look at Senri, and open one one of the classic genderbender plot t2wists – Hime is disguised as a boy and Senri can’t spot the difference. I expect this to lead to a lot of wacky and tragic misunderstandings. Not as eventful as the 2nd volume, but still fun. – Sean Gaffney