This week, Sean and Michelle look at recent releases from Seven Seas and Viz Media.
A Centaur’s Life, Vol. 4 | By Kei Murayama | Seven Seas – A Centaur’s Life is starting to find its footing, and this volume is a definite step up from the previous ones. There’s less emphasis on odd lolicon-esque scenes, and more genuine interaction with the world itself, as we are introduced to Sasasui, a snakefolk from Antarctica who forces Hime to deal with her old fears and possible prejudices, and who also gets to be the newbie that allows certain things to be explained to her. This can get a bit lecture-y (watch out whenever the characters point to a chart), but for the most part the series avoids that pitfall and remains a very odd slice-of-life series with a nice market in moral lessons, and Sasasui is a great introduction to the cast, with a reserved personality that fits in well. – Sean Gaffney
Happy Marriage?!, Vol. 7 | By Maki Enjoji | Viz Media – For some reason Diamond never shipped this to me, so I ended up getting it a month late. I wasn’t really all that bothered, to be honest. This is a series that excels at what it does, but what it does is variations on the same plot – our two leads experience jealousy, uncertainty, and self-confidence crises which they both think they must deal with on their own without working it out together. And all seems to be resolved (or at least reset to zero) by a healthy sex life, which Chiwa still tends to find embarrassing. We do now see that others are stepping in to seed discord rather than the two doing it of their own accord, but I’d really like to get rid of the question mark in the title and have some resolution here. – Sean Gaffney
Magi: Labyrinth of Magic, Vol. 7 | By Shinobu Ohtaka | Viz Media – I can honestly say it was a delight to get caught up on Magi after having fallen several volumes behind. Here’s a series full of compelling characters with interesting backstories moving within a world in turmoil that we’re gradually learning more about. It’s like the focus began on Aladdin and his friendship with Alibaba and slowly spread outwards until now the former is finally learning about the purpose of his existence and the heretofore unmentioned enemy while the latter is endeavoring to be as brave as Aladdin thinks he is by leading his broken homeland into democracy. I might miss the promised adventuring that gets postponed by these weightier responsibilities, but the storytelling—and character development—is so good that it’s hard to complain. Still, if only it could pass the Bechdel test… – Michelle Smith
Midnight Secretary, Vol. 7 | By Tomu Ohmi | Viz Media – It’s no coincidence that a new Tomu Ohmi series was licensed almost immediately after Midnight Secretary, while Maki Enjoji only had the one – Ohmi’s is simply the better of the two “competing” josei titles, with a more likeable hero and heroine who are far more clued into each others’ moods and their own issues. Kaya struggles with jealousy, but it’s a far more mature inner monologue, and I found it much easier to take. The supernatural content also reaches a climax here, as the couple find a way to deal with Kyohei’s banishment while staying true to themselves – and indeed making sure the clan is tied to them in the future. This is probably my favorite of Viz’s Petit Comic licenses, and josei fans shouldn’t miss its final volume. – Sean Gaffney
Nisekoi, Vol. 5 | By Naoshi Komi | Viz Media – I’m still surprised at how much I’m enjoying Nisekoi, given its straight up harem comedy plot, with no supernatural events or other things to distract from things. This is all about ‘who will Raku end up with’, and readers are aware that it will be resolved, if it ever is, only after a long, long number of volumes. Still, it’s compulsive reading – everyone is likeable, people do dumb things but they aren’t out of character or so stupid you want to kill them, the cliffhangers are still A+ (particularly the one at the end of this volume), and even the antagonist introduced last time, Marika, is softened a bit and given a sympathetic backstory – her accent slipping was hilarious. Misekoi is top-notch harem comedy, and hard to put down. – Sean Gaffney