This week, Michelle, Sean, & Anna look at recent releases from Seven Seas, Viz Media, Kodansha Comics, and Vertical Comics.
D-Frag!, Vol. 3 | By Tomoya Haruno | Seven Seas – That’s a new character on the cover, and she has potential to be a new harem member, but I think that may end up, as always, taking a back seat to the comedy. Funabori liking Kazama is not as important as Funabori dressing up in a nurse outfit with wings just because she was asked. Likewise, Takao may also have a crush on Kazama, but the jokes still stem from her inability to speak her mind and her large chest, which becomes weaponized here. As for Kazama, he’s made it clear what kind of girls he likes – strong girls who win fights. This is why the tournament arc ends with Kazama vs. Shibasaki – it leads to the most drama AND the most comedy. D-Frag! continues to be hilarious, and a great read.-Sean Gaffney
Knights of Sidonia, Vol. 12 | By Tsutomu Nihei | Vertical Comics – By the end of volume eleven, Knights of Sidonia was starting to feel a bit like “Love Hina in space,” but happily, the focus shifts in this installment from all the females (not necessarily human) who fancy Nagate to a mission to test the capabilities of Sidonia’s new defense cruiser, “Mizuki.” One of the things I really love about this series is the way in which some of said females are proving themselves to be awesome—Izana’s bravery and quick thinking recently resulted in a promotion, and here it’s Yuhata’s turn, as she impressively pilots the cruiser and takes out a cluster ship. I still fear for these characters’ lives constantly—I confess that before I even began the volume I flipped to the end to make sure Tsumugi was okay—so it is wonderful to see them make a bit of headway against their enemy. Ever so highly recommended. – Michelle Smith
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Vol. 9 | By Shinobu Ohtaka | Viz Media – Six months have passed since the battle in Balbadd and Aladdin, Alibaba, and Morgiana are recuperating and training on the island nation of Sindria, where Sinbad is king. And, really, that’s kind of all this volume is—training and learning more about magic and Sindria—and yet it’s still interesting and entertaining. Aladdin and Alibaba each acquire a teacher to help hone their abilities, and while Morgiana does as well, she’s also in a position to augment her already impressive strength courtesy of Alibaba’s djinn, which shares its power with members of his household. For that, she needs a vessel, and for that, she chooses her old slave shackles, choosing to see them now as “a proud symbol of my gratitude.” Next, they’re off to a dungeon to activate her vessel. So, essentially this arc is, like, “Let’s help the badass girl get even more awesome.” I’m down with that! – Michelle Smith
My Love Story!, Vol. 3 | By Kazune Kawahara and Aruko | Viz Media – My Love Story! continues to be consistently heartwarming and hilarious. Takeo’s unconventional romance with Yamato hits some additional milestones in this book as they get lost while hiking and endure an extremely shy trip to the beach with classmates.Takeo and Yamato also take Sunakawa out for his birthday, where they fall over each other in making sure that their friend is having a good time. Sunakawa’s stoic responses contrast with the over to top eager to please mannerisms of the unlikely couple. When Yamato and Takeo study together at his house, his mom reacts in classic fashion to meeting her son’s girlfriend for the first time, as her careful deadpan expression doesn’t hide her enthusiasm in the slightest. I always look forward to this quirky shoujo manga. – Anna N
Say “I Love You”, Vol. 5 | By Kanae Hazuki | Kodansha Comics – Poor communication isn’t fixed overnight, and Mei is lucky that in this volume she gains an ally as well as a strong enemy. Megumi started to show her true colors in the prior volume, but here she goes into full-on evil mode, intent on removing Mei not just from Yamato’s orbit but everyone else she’s now friends with. That said, just like the rest of the cast, Megumi’s backstory seems to hint greater depth is coming besides “I’m the standard evil rival”. This manga’s strength is in showing off the way that its characters think and how they got to be the way they were – and in turn, how it leads to stronger bonds. This has rapidly become one of my favorite shoujo manga. Absolutely recommended. – Sean Gaffney
What Did You Eat Yesterday, Vol. 6 | By Fumi Yoshinaga | Vertical Comics – As tasty as the food looks in this volume (at one point inspiring a serious case of gyoza envy), I most love how Yoshinaga-sensei uses meals and shopping to convey how Shiro and Kenji feel about each other. Both guys cook to cheer the other up, whether it’s Shiro trying to get Kenji to quit apologizing for his jealousy or Kenji trying to help Shiro get over a disappointing verdict at trial, but it’s also revealed that Shiro is so intensely frugal because Kenji isn’t, and he wants to have enough saved for the both of them. And then, once he sees how much Kenji loves having bento in the park, he relaxes his stance on being seen together in public. Never before has two guys going out grocery shopping been so significant! Can I end a review with a <3? – Michelle Smith