This week, Michelle, Sean, and Anna look at recent releases from Yen Press, Kodansha Comics, Seven Seas, Viz Media, & Vertical, Inc.
Blood Lad, Vol. 4 | By Yuuki Kodama | Yen Press – It’s been nearly a year since we had a new volume of Blood Lad, and I’d forgotten just how well it suits my sense of humor. Right from the start, it had me giggling, and even rereading the few lines of dialogue I jotted down had the same effect. Kodama could also give lessons on how to effectively introduce antagonists, as Team Fearless, a group of vampire hunters targeting Staz, is immediately funny, memorable, and interesting. They’ve all got some unique powers, but my favorite is the cat-like leader, Shamkid, who basically grooms his enemy and swallows their hair to gain the ability to predict their movements. After the battle, he horks it back up. Hee! On top of this, we learn what Braz’s endgame has been, which has the potential to affect the entire demon world. Happily, we’ve only to wait until July this time for the next installment! – Michelle Smith
Cage of Eden, Vol. 13 | By Yoshinobu Yamada | Kodansha Comics – Cage of Eden has moved from every 2 months to every 4, never a good sign for a North American release. Nevertheless, it’s ended at 21 volumes in Japan, so should finish up over here. This volumes features a lot fewer attacks by prehistoric animals – zero, in fact. What we get instead is some plot development. Yarai and his group find their building is not what it seems, and also that his teacher is slowly dying. On Akira’s side, we see the introduction of two men from another camp elsewhere on the island, which is led by a doctor who may be Akira’s evil counterpart. And yes, there’s nude bathing, because this is Cage of Eden – monsters may be optional, but breasts are not. It’s still a good, fluffy read, but it’s starting not to justify the investment put into it. And as ever, no real romance. – Sean Gaffney
Fairy Tail, Vol. 34 | By Hiro Mashima | Kodansha Comics – Well, if nothing else, I think we know who our next Big Bad is going to be. From the first chapter to the last, Minerva has shown herself to be a rather loathsome, yet insanely powerful figure. Naturally, Lucy ends up getting the brunt of the suffering here – Erza and Cana earlier showed off the massive power that Fairy Tail possesses, but Lucy’s job seems to be punching bag a lot of the time. Meanwhile, Laxus gets a battle of the mind with his father, and Wendy gets a cute adorable shonen battle which ends with true friendship, just as you’d expect. There’s nothing really wrong with this volume, but as with most tournament arcs, things are getting rather predictable. I’d really like some sort of hideous disaster to come along and shake things up a bit. Perhaps Mashima can oblige me. – Sean Gaffney
Fushigi Yûgi: Genbu Kaiden, Vol. 12| By Yuu Watase | Viz Media – I admit it: I read the ending first. I feared some sort of sappy retcon of what had been established about the Genbu priestess in the original Fushigi Yûgi series, but I needn’t have worried. The ending is a satisfying one, but like volume eleven before it, volume twelve feels pretty rushed. I wish there was more time to dwell on the various sacrifices made to bring peace to an icy and wartorn land. One of the best things, though, is this comment from Watase’s comments at the end of the volume: “I hope you’ll be patient in waiting for the Byakko arc!! Sure, I want to work on it!! Now that I’ve come this far, I can’t die before I finish every arc.” It feels a little wrong to say “woohoo” after the events of this volume, but I admit the temptation is strong. – Michelle Smith
Knight of Sidonia, Vol. 7 | By Tsutomu Nihei | Vertical, Inc. – I’m enjoying Knights of Sidonia a great deal, but it’s sometimes hard to express why in a review, even a brief one. There’s less wacky harem antics here, though it is notable that Tsumugi, the newborn hybrid Gauna, seems to have a massive crush on Tanizake like all the other female (or even ambiguously gendered characters) do. There’s lots of epic space battles for those who like them, with both Tsumugi and Tanizake getting to show off their awesome battle prowess. There isn’t quite as much creepy body horror here as in previous volumes, but it’s there. Mostly, though, this is a series that’s hard to really describe to someone when they ask why it’s good. You just have to give it a try, and see for yourself. Because it’s addictive, and once you start reading you won’t be able to stop. – Sean Gaffney
Midnight Secretary, Vol 4 | By Tomu Ohmi | Viz Media – As this volume opens secretary Kaya is torn…between two bosses! She continues to work on her temporary assignment to the Erde company while juggling secretarial and blood donation duties to her vampire boss Kyohei Tohma at night. Kyohei is disconcerted by his feelings of jealousy whenever he sees another man near Kaya while Kaya continues to maintain that providing the president with her blood is just a routine part of her job. Kaya knows that she’s in love with Kyohei, but is determined to just live her life with unrequited feelings because she’s so devoted to her secretarial job. The sudden presence of a new female vampire also throws off the equilibrium in Kaya and Kyohei’s relationship. This volume won’t disappoint fans of the series! Midnight Secretary is so delightfully trashy and gothic, I always enjoy each new volume. – Anna N
Strike Witches: Maidens in the Sky, Vol. 1 | By Humikane Shimada, Project Kagonish, and Yuuki Tanaka | Seven Seas – This turned out to be a lot more harmless than I was expecting – possibly deliberately, I understand there was a manga version in Japan before this that was cancelled for content reasons. Aside from a wacky panty-snatching dog familiar, and panty-rocketed teenage girls, this is your standard girls in school learning how to use their awesome powers manga. The girls in question are soldiers, brought in to battle aliens who have devastated the Earth. The teen soldiers include our heroine, the naive Yoshika, who may have more power than any of the others. If you can get past the basic premise, and don’t mind fanservice, this is a pretty good action comedy runaround. It wraps up next volume, I think, but there’s more spinoffs on the way. – Sean Gaffney