This week, Sean, Anna, & Michelle look at recent releases from Kodansha Comics and Viz Media.
Fairy Tail, Vol. 35 | By Hiro Mashima | Kodansha Comics – Leaving aside the fight between Natsu/Gajeel and Saber Tooth’s Natsu and Gajeel-alike’s that takes up half this book, what struck me most was how it’s trying to have a lot of humor but it feels more and more that this is due to the fact that there will be little opportunity for it soon. We see future Levy talking about everyone dying in 2 days (including her beloved… hrm, Gajeel shiptease there?), and Jellal runs into the mysterious hooded figure, who is clearly someone he knows. And of course there’s the opening scene with Lucy beaten so bad she’s hospitalized. Given that, I am more charitable to the giant fanservice scene that is Chapter 298, and am highly amused by Gildarts’ entire chapter that shows that just because one is middle-aged does not mean you stop being a big dumb shonen hero. – Sean Gaffney
Happy Marriage, Vol. 5 | By Maki Enjoji | Viz Media – With all the yaoi manga coming out, I feel like it is a tiny bit unfair that there are so few currently translated smutty manga for older ladies who enjoy stories about forced marriages and vampire bosses! But it is all the more reason to celebrate the few series like that which are translated! Volume 5 of Happy Marriage continues to document the growing relationship between Chiwa and Hokuto along with plenty of Machiavellian corporate machinations. Hokuto is finally showing his more vulnerable side to Chiwa, but not without plenty of misunderstandings along the way. Even though this manga is fairly predictable, it is still consistently enjoyable. – Anna N
Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 14 | By Julietta Suzuki | Viz Media – The gap between the volumes for this series is getting fairly long, but that just makes me appreciate it even more. Suzuki’s world building and unique character designs make every volume a pleasure to read. In this volume Nanami throws herself into another adventure in order to save a dying Tomoe. The long-lost Mikage of the shrine returns for a visit and drops a few not very helpful hints about Tomoe’s conditions, leading to Nanami undertaking a dangerous trip through time in order to prevent the curse that threatens Tomoe. Along the way she meets Tomoe’s first love and sees a much more warlike and aggressive version of the fox ayakashi that she holds so dear. It’ll be interesting to see the fallout from the journey through time, especially if it changes Nanami and Tomoe’s relationship in the present. – Anna N
My Little Monster, Vol. 1 | By Robico | Kodansha Comics – Neither Shizuku Mizutani nor Haru Yoshida has any friends, the former because she’s obsessed with studying and the latter because of his tendency toward violent and/or bizarre behavior. They somehow manage to strike up a friendship, however, and as Haru learns to relate to the world a little better, Shizuku begins to see the benefits of involving herself with other people. This perhaps makes My Little Monster sound like it’s a drama, but it really isn’t. I snickered quite a few times (even at the back cover, a promising early sign!) and basically loved every time Haru’s pet chicken appeared, which was frequently. Again, I’d stop short of calling this series profoundly great, but it was definitely enjoyable and a nice surprise, since I had no knowledge of it prior to its release here. I’ll be checking out volume two! – Michelle Smith
Phantom Thief Jeanne, Vol. 1 | By Arina Tanemura | Viz Media – I am very seldom in the position of loving an Arina Tanemura series almost without reservation, but such is the situation I find myself in with Phantom Thief Jeanne. I suspect much of this reaction is due to nostalgia—I have fond memories of watching the anime back in the days of VHS fansubs—but I do honestly think Jeanne has much to recommend it. Maron is not your typical happy-go-lucky Magical Girl heroine, and is confident, to boot, with inner dialogue like, “I don’t need to be saved… I’m not a weak little girl.” Too, I really like how Tanemura paces the development of Maron’s relationship with neighbor/rival Chiaki, and how Maron learns he’s been deceiving her just as she’d decided she could trust him. True, the art can be distracting (those eyes!) and there are quite a few unfunny comedic gags, but on the whole this is a series I’m glad to see back in print! – Michelle Smith
Sankarea: Undying Love, Vol. 5 | By Mitsuru Hattori | Kodansha Comics – Again, the cover tells the story, as things really aren’t going well with the whole ‘don’t eat people’ thing Rea’s trying to achieve. Luckily, the cavalry arrives in time, but now Rea and Chihiro are strangely embarrassed to be around each other. (Gosh, I wonder why?) What was more interesting to me was the Wanko subplot towards the end of the volume, where we see that her crush on Chihiro, and desperate realization that it’s not going to happen, is so bad that she ends up trying to turn herself into a zombie to get closer to him. Fortunately, the near-death experiment doesn’t take, and it seems to give her some sort of closure instead, which is a relief. Still, if you read Sankarea as a harem love comedy, I expect you may have run screaming by now. It’s the creepy horror that keeps things hopping. – Sean Gaffney