This week, Sean, Melinda, Anna, & Michelle look at recent releases from Seven Seas, Viz Media, and Vertical, Inc.
Devils and Realist, Vol. 2 | By utako Yukihiro and Madoka Takadono | Seven Seas – Much of the first volume of this series was the lead character being shown various demonic and fascinating things and simply refusing to accept them, attempting to find a rational example for everything. He’s still doing that to an extent here, but this volume is mostly dedicated to showing him that no matter how he defines what’s happening around him, the trouble is that everyone either wants him dead or making a decision for them. As such, there’s a lot more Devils than Realist here, and even the priests can’t be trusted. I’m hoping that starting soon William will find a way to introduce his own brand of rationalism into the demon world instead of shutting it out. – Sean Gaffney
Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends, Vol. 8 | By Yomi Hirasaka and Itachi | Seven Seas – A lot of this volume is devoted to characters who are unable to have normal friendships managing to find something similar by pretending they are bitter rivals. Kobato and Maria, Maria and her sister Keito, who is also a Sister – a nun has some bad habits, so to speak – and between Sena and Yozora, which Kodaka realizes when he enters Sena’s room, which looks more like a shrine to Yozora than anything else. So much of Haganai is friendship via conflict that when we start to see the softer side of things – such as Kodaka and Sena’s growing attraction to each other, which comes to a head at a karaoke party – we also feel we don’t want to break up the chemistry of the group. Luckily, we’ve a ways to go. – Sean Gaffney
Happy Marriage?!, Vol. 7 | By Maki Enjoji | Viz Media – The conclusion of the previous volume found Chiwa feeling like she and Hokuto were finally “walking together at the same pace,” but they soon discover that even though they love each other, there’s one thing they can never agree about: Hokuto’s father. Hokuto is convinced his dad is responsible for the death of his mother, and refuses to visit his dying father in the hospital. Chiwa can’t bear to see Hokuto so heartless, and he ends up moving out for a while, but they soon realize that though they don’t know how to solve this problem, they still love each other. I thought this was actually a rather insightful thing for a couple to be fighting about in a manga, and though Happy Marriage&! certainly relies heavily on well-trod tropes for its drama, it’s occasionally a pleasant surprise. I’m glad I revisited it! – Michelle Smith
Knights of Sidonia, Vol. 10 | By Tsutomu Nihei | Vertical, Inc. – There’s so much I could talk about with this volume of Sidonia. The ongoing oddball harem formed around Tanikaze, which is fine feeling like a family but gets very jealous when it comes to the man himself. There’s also the somewhat disastrous attempts to replicate what’s been done with Tsumugi, which almost ends in tragedy. There’s Izana’s ongoing relationship with her grandmother, who looks so similar to her they could almost be identical twins. Yet what I will most recall from this volume is seeing Tahiro, whose possession so disturbed me five volumes ago, blowing her brains out now that her usefulness to Ochiai is at an end. There’s still a good deal of horror left in Sidonia’s quiver. – Sean Gaffney
Library Wars: Love and War, Vol. 12 | by Kiiro Yumi and Hiro Arikawa | Viz Media Sometimes the key emotional moments in a series seem to have more resonance if more time has been spent building up to them. Library Wars could be a bit hit or miss in earlier volumes, but I always loved the premise of an action oriented series about paramilitary librarians. This volume will be very satisfying to long-time readers, as Iku and Dojo finally go out on a date. Seeing Dojo’s calm and restrained reactions as Iku spazzes out a bit was quite adorable, but the part of this volume that made me want to stand up and cheer was the romance between Tezuka and Shibasaki. Shibasaki does a bit of traditional shoujo gender role switching, with stellar results. On the library side of things, the team is charged with protecting an embattled author, and there might be some more promising developments with Tezuka’s brother thanks to Shibasaki’s intervention. This continues to be a fun series. Anna N
Loveless, Vol. 12 | By Yun Kouga | Viz Media – One of the downsides of consuming something in bulk, is that it’s difficult to top that kind of immersive experience, or even come close to matching it. This is certainly the case with Loveless, with which my own series of omnibus binges could best be described as a soul-consuming love affair. After all that, how could any single volume possibly live up? It couldn’t. It doesn’t. I’d be lying if I suggested otherwise. What the series’ twelfth volume does offer, however, is proof that the series can hold up even without the fervor of new love. While the volume contains a bit more non-linear fluff that I’d ideally prefer, it also provides a lot of substance, especially as regards Ritsuka’s supposed personality change and Seimei’s controlling relationship with his fighter, Nisei. These sections are honestly riveting, and I’m left desperate for more. Just as it should be. Still recommended. – Melinda Beasi
Spell of Desire, Vol. 1 | By Tomu Ohmi | Viz Media – There’s a lot that’s swirling around the first volume of this new josei-only-not series from the creator of Midnight Secretary. Repression and control as both a positive and negative thing, and when it feels all right to give in to your passions, especially when you haven’t ever had to deal with them before. Tying this into witchcraft helps to make it at least a bit more metaphorical, and while the male lead hasn’t really done’ anything for me yet, I do quite like Kaoruko. The premise of the series seems to hint that we’ll eventually meet her missing mother as well, which promises to deliver some thrills. This first volume still feels a bit incomplete in the end, however. I hope future volumes will give it some solidity. – Sean Gaffney