This week, Sean and Anna look at recent releases from Seven Seas and Viz Media.
Alice in the Country of Clover: Nightmare | By QuinRose and Job | Seven Seas – A word of warning: this is another volume where only half of the story is what’s actually on the cover. The rest are short vignettes from Alice and Crimson Empire. The main story features Nightmare, as you might guess, and focuses on his annoying ability to read Alice’s thoughts, as well as his poor health. The other stories have Alice with Peter and Ace on a picnic; Alice and the Bloody Twins falling into a pit trap, and various Sheila x male love interest stories from the other continuity. The art style is quite different from what I’m used to – it’s meant to be more stark, but I think it just makes the art look like a bad reproduction, sadly. If you want more Alice, here it is, but this is 2nd tier stuff. – Sean Gaffney
A Devil and Her Love Song, Vol. 13 | by Miyoshi Tomori | Viz Media – This was a great final volume of a shoujo series that is just unusual enough to make it extra memorable. Sometimes final volumes seem a bit rushed, but this one hit all the emotional beats a reader would want in a very deliberate way. Maria’s growth is demonstrated through her care of her female friends and in her budding relationship with her new found family. There’s never any doubt who Maria will end up with at the end, and Shin arrives while Maria is in the midst of singing her heart out to him. In shoujo love triangles, I always feel a bit bad for the second lead guy, but I really enjoyed the way the volume concluded with Yusuke’s point of view. Each character got a proper send-off, and I felt like the series had a fitting conclusion. – Anna N
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 20 | By Hiroshi Shiibashi | Viz Media – I really like the way this volume of Nura uses the humans who make up his class at school. We saw a couple of volumes ago that Natsumi was used as a sort of monster template, and now we see our villain calling it back to haunt her. This allows her friend Maki to show off how awesome she is, even in the face of truly terrifying stuff. (Why isn’t their yuri about these two?) Much of the rest of this volume is devoted to fighting, and Rikuo looking cooler than ever. The villains still aren’t defeated,. though, and I suspect we have a ways to go. But it’s nice to see a shonen superpower series not forgetting about all the Muggles left along the way, and allowing them to kick but as well when necessary, both physically and emotionally. – Sean Gaffney
Sweet Rein, Vol. 2 | By Sakura Tsukuba | Viz Media – Sweet Rein may be too sweet for some, but I’m enjoying this gentle fantasy light romance series about a teenage girl Santa and her reindeer. This volume doesn’t have much of an ongoing storyline, as Kurumi embarks on her third Christmas delivering presents, although the author helpfully notes that despite passing three Christmases, Kurumi is eternally 17. Along the way there’s a bit of tension as the duo encounter a “Dark Santa,” and Kaito’s brother meets his Santa, who is not very enthusiastic about the idea of Christmas at all. Kurumi and Kaito’s relationship takes a bit of a backseat in this volume, but I’m still enjoying this series. It might be a bit predictable, but it is a nice low key cozy read. – Anna N
Toriko, Vol. 21 | By Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro | Viz Media – Much of this volume seems to combine the food plot that is Toriko’s raison d’etre with various Buddhist teachings, as Toriko learns that being a loud and boisterous guy is not going to get him Bubble Fruit anytime soon. There’s meditation, and inner peace, and finally there’s damn near starvation in order to get the fruit to accept that he respects it as food (as opposed to simply wanting to eat it). Naturally, this leads to a monumental power up. And just in time, really, as the temple he and Komatsu are staying at is under siege by Gourmet Corp. Various former allies are now enemies, including Komatsu’s old cooking friend. I suspect Toriko will win the day, but the majority of this volume was about finding peace in food, not beating folks up. – Sean Gaffney