This week, Sean, Michelle, & MJlook at recent releases from Viz Media and Kodansha Comics.
Dengeki Daisy, Vol. 14 | By Kyousuke Motomi | Viz Media – Unless I am very much mistaken, no one is actually reading Dengeki Daisy for the matters of code-related espionage that the characters are swept up in, but I would personally appreciate some details. The way that videos cut off before divulging crucial pieces of information, or that characters discuss their plans in the vaguest of terms, might suggest that Motomi-sensei is saving up big reveals for later, but I honestly don’t think so. I think she just decided that she didn’t need to work that stuff out. Probably she’s right—the high points of the volume are all one-on-one Teru/Kurosaki scenes—but it makes it hard to care about a plotline that dominates the volume. Only two more volumes to go, at least. – Michelle Smith
Midnight Secretary, Vol. 5 | By Tomu Ohmi | Viz Media – I was really impressed with this volume of Midnight Secretary. There’s so much going on here – Kaya’s final admittance that she isn’t just a really good secretary to Kyohei, Kyohei’s family situation and his relationship with his mother, his dealings with kindred spirit Marika and the ongoing threats of someone simply taking Kaya from him and making a meal of her. And yet what I really took away from all of this is the fact that both Kaya and Kyohei are no longer content with titles like boss, secretary, or lover, but see each other as a person that encompasses all these things. And yes, for Kaya that includes accepting Kyohei as a vampire fully. Now we need to see if his clan is able to accept her. – Sean Gaffney
Phantom Thief Jeanne, Vol. 2 | By Arina Tanemura | Viz Media – I am predisposed to like Phantom Thief Jeanne, I think, since I enjoyed the anime and have a fondness for ’90s shoujo in general. It’s also nice to read about a heroine who is utterly competent. True, Maron isn’t as sure of herself as she lets on. Inside, she’s scared of being rejected by her parents, but she’s trying to convince herself that she’s strong by acting as if she doesn’t need them. I don’t love that Chiaki proves he understands her by telling her “You’re weak,” but we learn later that he’s also scared of the same things, so it doesn’t end up being a weird power imbalance issue. And though the goofy comedy and absolutely ineffectual police are my least favorite part of the manga, I appreciate that Miyako’s motives for wanting to catch Jeanne are explained. All in all, a very solid volume. I’m looking forward to the next! – Michelle Smith
The Seven Deadly Sins, Vol. 2 | By Nakaba Suzuki | Kodansha Comics – In general with series like these, particularly in the early stages, instead of measuring them by good plotting or crisp characterization, you instead measure them by how many badass moments each volume possessed. and in that respect this second SDS volumes acquits itself pretty well. We see the third Deadly Sin, Ban (representing Greed), who is so badass that his enemy’s attack simply gives him a really good shave. And we get our first badass moment for Elizabeth. She’s been somewhat iffy so far, taking Meliodas’ harassment far too easily and being something of a victim. But here, fighting against the Holy Knight and discovering his weakness, she showed true badassery in her own right. – Sean Gaffney
Strobe Edge, Vol. 10 | By Io Sakisaka | Viz Media – If there’s a fault in this final volume of Strobe Edge, it’s that most of the conflict has already passed, so we’re just waiting for the final ‘can we get over this lack of communication?’ hurdle before it ends. Indeed, it ends so quickly we get two ‘epilogue’ chapters, one giving some much-needed depth to perky friend Manabu, and the other detailing Ren and Ninako’s first date. That last chapter almost shows off the series in miniature, and why it’s been fun to read – despite the tears and heartbreak, Ninako is simply achingly sweet, and you can’t help but want to spend more time around her and her thoughts. I’ll miss this. – Sean Gaffney
Vampire Knight, Vol. 18 | By Matsuri Hino | Viz Media – It’s interesting to see how much this volume focused on the relationship between Yuki and Zero, given how far we’ve come since the fisrt couple of volumes. At times it’s hard to even believe you’re reading the same series as Vol. 1. and yet they still have a deep connection. In the best moment of the volume, Yuki starts to spin a story of what would have happened if they’d met as normal boy and girl. Zero is quick to cut this off, noting they’d never have met at all. Their past is what connects them, and what leads to their strong feelings. But of course, nothing can happen until Kaname is taken care of, and this means Yuki in the end forces herself to make a very upsetting decision. The last volume should be a real barn-burner. – Sean Gaffney
xxxHolic Rei, Vol. 1 | By CLAMP | Kodansha Comics – As one of the few readers who didn’t hate the ending of the original xxxHolic series, I’m also probably one of the few who did not approach its rewound sequel as a welcome return to the good old days. This is not to say that I’m unhappy—quite the contrary. I couldn’t be more thrilled to see Watanuki & Co. once more. What it does mean, however, is that I’m probably one of the few readers who can view the new series’ impending mystery without trepidation—for mystery there certainly is. And since CLAMP has done me no wrong thus far (at least not with xxxHolic), I can feel relatively secure that I’ll enjoy whatever they’ve got in store for me this time. In fact, I can’t wait. So while the return of the series’ witty banter and endless teasing, are enjoyable, I’m in this for the long haul. Let’s hope it’s a good one… again. – MJ