This week, Michelle, Sean, & Anna look at recent releases from Viz Media, Kodansha Comics, and Vertical, Inc.
Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 15 | By Julietta Suzuki | Viz Media – Nanami has gone back in time to try to find the source of a curse that’s affecting Tomoe in the present. She’s pretty vigilant about not interfering in the bond between Tomoe and Yukiji, the human woman he once loved, with the timey-wimey result that she ends up being the reason such a bond exists in the first place. My favorite part of the volume, though, is when she meets up with Akura-Oh, a yokai who knows Tomoe and has a fondness for canned peaches. Akura-Oh is blunt and honest, and it seems like maybe she can get through to him a bit, until the stark truth of his yokai nature reveals itself and Nanami is forced to flee. A couple of side stories—about underwear and Tomoe becoming a feel-copping drunk—round out the volume, and though they be fluffy, they’re also pretty fun. I continue to enjoy this series. – Michelle Smith
Kimi Ni Todoke, Vol. 19 | By Kahruo Shiina | Viz Media – One of the things that I’ve always enjoyed about this series is the way it takes standard shoujo plot elements and makes them seem fresh and adorable just due to the strength of characterization Shiina has built up in her ensemble cast. Sawako and her friends celebrate the new year in a slightly different way, as everyone has paired off into couples. Everyone is starting to think about their plans for what to do after graduation, and Sawako and Shota have some decisions to make that will likely affect their future. This is one of those shoujo series that is a perfect comfort read. – Anna N
My Little Monster, Vol. 2 | By Robico | Kodansha Comics – In general I’m used to shoujo romances with one relatively normal person and one eccentric/broken/inaccessible type, so it’s refreshing to see My Little Monster focus equally on how screwed up both halves of our main couple are. Haru right now seems more easily rehabilitated – he still has a hair-trigger temper, but just smiling goes a long way for him. Shizuku, however, is likely going to take a lot longer, and flashbacks to her rather depressing childhood set things up for a cliffhanger that’s almost a mirror reverse of the last one. Add to this a well-thought out rival arriving, and a healthy dose of humor (mostly provided by Asako), and you have a second volume that builds nicely on the first. -Sean Gaffney
One Piece, Vol. 71 | By Eiichiro Oda | Viz Media – Luffy’s alliance with fellow pirate Trafalgar Law has opened up some really interesting directions for the story! In the long term, Law and Luffy are planning to take down one of the Four Emperors, which is the first time Luffy’s gone after a specific target in his bid to become King of the Pirates. Suddenly it all feels a bit more serious! In the short term, Law has brokered a deal with one of the warlords of the sea, which involves a prisoner exchange… more new territory for the Straw Hats. And while that’s going down, various members of the crew get swept up in various local goings on, which is pretty typical, but somehow the ideas Oda’s come up with feel fresh and new. Fresh and new on volume 71?! Yes, indeed. This is why One Piece is simply not to be missed! – Michelle Smith
Say “I Love You”, Vol. 2 | By Kanae Hazuki | Kodansha Comics – Unlike My Little Monster, which is basically pure shoujo, there’s no mistake that Say “I Love You” skews to an older audience. There’s a lot of sex happening here, mostly casual one-nighters to satisfy teenage urges. Of course, it’s there to contrast with the innocence of our heroine – both of the characters who are seeing doing this are noted to be quite unhappy or hollow inside, and Yamato regrets what he once did. In fact, the focus on playboy Kakeru and bitter rival Aiko are the best parts of this volume, with neither one being reduced to a cardboard cutout. Now we just need to work on Mei – look at that cover, that is not someone who’s a happy camper. Recommended for older teens and josei smut fans. – Sean Gaffney
The Wallflower, Vol. 32 | By Tomoko Hayakawa | Kodansha Comics – Given that nothing has really progressed in the last twenty volumes or so, it’s not a surprise to hear that this volume reads a lot like a Greatest Hits LP. There’s a chapter where Sunako backslides and hides in her room with her horror stuff; one where Ranmaru’s playboy antics are contrasted with the pure love of Tamao; Sunako helping a ballet club as their ancient disaster of a club room is haunted; and Kyohei undergoing his own Sunako-esque transformation, becoming an innocent scholar who hates violence. This is fun, with lots of humor and some amusing visuals. But there is no one reading this for anything but the humor or the pretty boys anymore – romance fans have abandoned ship. – Sean Gaffney
What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Vol. 2 | By Fumi Yoshinaga | Vertical, Inc. – Given I was getting into the world and characters in volume one, I hadn’t paid as much attention to all the food preparation. I certainly did more with this volume, as every single chapter features extended cooking with recipes read aloud, which takes up over half the book. It may not quite be a foodie manga, but it’s as near as dammit. As for the characters, Shiro was somewhat less aggravating this time around – he’s more fun to read when he’s suffering, as the author has realized – and I liked the intro of ‘older than she looks’ coworker Shino. Mostly, though, this title is for two types of readers; those who love food, and those who love Yoshinaga’s works. Both will find it satisfying. – Sean Gaffney